Ruth Bell Graham once said many wives are frustrated from expecting their husbands to be to them what only Jesus Christ can be.
That same principle works on so many directions.
Many a pastor is disappointed in his Bible college or seminary education as a result of unrealistic expectations. Those theological schools buy into this error by periodic polling of their alums to ask, “What do you wish we had taught you? What subjects should we have included? What skills did you need for which you were unprepared?” Soon, the provosts and deans assemble a new package of courses and give it its own name–“Masters of Divinity with Specialty in Whatever”–and life goes on.
I guarantee you that the next generation of preachers will also produce a list of subjects their school should have taught. It’s the nature of the beast since life is always moving forward, cultures change, people are never static, and one more big reason. Maybe the biggest of all.
And so it came to pass in the morning, that, behold, it was Leah. (Genesis 29:25)
Jacob was neither the first nor the last to find that the person he married was far different from the one he had proposed to and thought he was getting!
I’ve known a few pastors over the years whose marriages were crosses they had to bear. I thought of that while reading Heirs of the Founders by H. W. Brands this week, as he commented on the marriage of John and Floride Calhoun.
John C. Calhoun was a prominent political figure in America the first-half of the 19th Century. A senator from South Carolina, he served as Vice-President under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. His home, Fort Hill Plantation, is located in Clemson, SC, and is open for visitors. Calhoun was a fascinating character about whom no one back then (or now) was neutral. His son-in-law founded Clemson University.
To say the Calhouns’ was a difficult marriage would be an understatement. And yet, it had a romantic beginning, as most probably do.
Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm. –I Chronicles 16:22. (Psalm 105:15)
A pastor who wants a free hand to come and go as he pleases chafes when told he is accountable to the membership or must report to a certain committee. The very idea! He pulls out Psalm 105:15 and I Chronicles 16:22 and uses these as a battering ram on his people.
He bellows, “God’s Word says, ‘Touch not Mine anointed!’ It says, ‘Do My prophets no harm.'”
Then, he gives his twisted interpretation to his misconstrued favorite passage.
“This means no one in the church and no group is allowed to criticize the pastor. God’s messengers answer only to God!”
The only problem with that is it just isn’t so.
Comfort one another. I Thessalonians 4:18
A lady who read our blog commented that when she was widowed, her church did not minister to her. And no, she said, “I did not seek counsel from my pastor. I sought help from the Bible and the Lord alone.”
I’m thinking she was saying that somewhat pridefully. I may be reading it wrong.
I replied, “God never intended you and me to handle life’s burdens ‘from the Bible and the Lord alone.’ That’s why He put us in a church when He saved us.”
We have to give the pastors and leaders a chance to help us. We should let them know we are in crisis. Then, it’s their responsibility to respond appropriately. But if they do not know, they will do nothing and you will suffer needlessly.
I repeat: The Lord intends us to help each other handle these critical passages in life. He does not intend us to life our lives in isolation, just reading our Bible and trying to get sustenance from the Lord. He gives help through His people as well as by the Holy Spirit. And often, it’s through His people that the Holy Spirit ministers best.
“Love one another.” “Comfort one another.” “Encourage one another.”
Have you read that in Scripture? It’s all through the New Testament.
Matthew 10 and Luke 10 are joined in the same yoke. They may well refer to the same incident in which our Lord sent the disciples out to practice preaching while He was still with them. The main difference is that Matthew says the Lord sent out the 12 apostles and Luke says He sent out seventy. Same event? There’s no way to know. The similarities are many, although Matthew devotes the entire chapter to the instruction Jesus gave them, for which we can be eternally grateful.
Luke, while abbreviating the instructions, does something Matthew does not do: He tells what happened on their return. That is Luke 10:17-24.
Now, pastors in particular should find the following helpful…
The first 15 verses of Matthew 10 do not apply to us today. After naming the twelve apostles, our Lord gives them specific instructions on what to do on this mission. Those instructions were for them, not for us.
–To repeat, the first 15 verses of Matthew 10 were directed only to the original twelve apostles about to go on a preaching mission.
“….not grudgingly or of compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver…” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Have you ever done something big, then the next day had “buyer’s remorse”?
Welcome to the club.
The important thing is that we who lead the Lord’s churches not be guilty of perpetrating that kind of thing on people. We were not sent to coerce or con anyone into anything. We are messengers of the King and are all about integrity and love. What Scripture calls “grace and truth” in the Lord Jesus (John 1:14).
They called him Tommy the Cork. Thomas Corcoran was a political fixer, fund-raiser, and go-to guy for many politicians of the post-War years. Robert Caro interviewed Corcoran for his books on Lyndon Johnson.
He had once told me one of his most effective fund-raising techniques. When the man he was asking for money wrote a check and handed it across the desk to him, Mr. Corcoran, no matter what the amount–no matter if it was more than he had hoped for–would look at it with an expression of disdain, drop it back on the man’s desk, and, without saying a word, walk toward the door. He had never once, he told me–exaggerating, I’m sure, but how much?–he had never once been allowed to reach the door without the man calling him back, tearing up the check, and writing one for a larger amount.
Manipulation means getting people to do your bidding whether they want to or not.
Baseball used to be called the National Pastime. Whether it qualifies for that accolade now is a good question.
My opinion is the level of excitement generated in the typical game of football is twice that of baseball. And that leads many to conclude that baseball is boring. It is not.
On the other hand, the baseball season is six months long and involves 162 games. Whew. The NFL’s regular season lasts from September to January and has only 16 games. That means baseball has ten games for every one football game.
Baseball is not boring. It’s quiet and relaxing much of the time, and downright exciting the rest of the time. (Reminds me of how an airline pilot described flying: hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.)
My wife Margaret would accompany me to games, but not to watch. She did not understand or care for the game, but she would take along a novel she was reading. And she was a people-watcher. Meanwhile, I was totally into the game. And she was fine with that.
Robert Caro had a problem.
He was researching and writing an in-depth biography of Robert Moses, the highly acclaimed “master builder” of New York City, who lived 1888 to 1981. Originally, Caro thought the book might take a year.
He was wrong. Bad wrong.
After a couple of years working on the book and with no income to support his family, his wife sold the house to raise money to keep them going.
That money ran out.
He kept working.
In time, he was embarrassed when friends would say, “What are you working on?” and he would tell them he was still on the same book. “How long have you been working on that book?” He would mutter, “Five years.”
Five years. Caro felt like a failure.
Earlier today, I posted a note on Facebook concerning a Ralph Compton western novel I’m in the midst of. Apparently the protagonist, a fellow named Nathan Stone, is riding a super horse.
The novelist has Stone leaving New Orleans heading toward “Indian Territory”–which must mean Oklahoma–and at the end of the first night, he beds down below Shreveport at Winnfield, Louisiana. “Wait just a cotton-picking minute,” I thought and checked the google map.
From New Orleans to Winnfield is 250 miles. Can a horse carrying a rider do that in one day?
The author had them arriving at their destination in two more days.
A few friends opined that this is a novel, it’s fiction, and the author can do anything he pleases. It’s called artistic license. But not so fast…
Believest thou this? (John 11:26) — Where is your faith? (Mark 4:40). — These things are written that you may believe. (John 20:31). — Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24).
“I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26)
I’m asking you to believe that. And rejoice because you are going to live forever.
“For we know that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
I’m asking you to believe that. And to look up with hope because the best is yet to be.