the best thing to do when you’re at the end of the rope is to trust God and
just do the next thing. A while back on a Sunday afternoon, I was physically
exhausted and emotionally spent after preaching that morning. I was also
handling a number of church projects and concerns that felt like a
mountaineering backpack filled with lead, all the while knowing I had an
important meeting that night. But after a short crash on my bed and watching my
favorite football team get beat, I threw some water on my face, stood still for
a moment, asked Jesus for physical help, and put one foot in front of the
don’t see that a lot in the Bible, but that’s pretty much what life is. We like
the action stories of David whopping Goliath, but we silently ignore all the
days that David was in the desert waiting on God. Eventually, God worked
through that normal Hebrew teenager who was stepping out in faith on a daily
was a good meeting and teaching time that Sunday night. I was still physically
beat when I got home, but there was more of a smile on my face than when I
left. I’m not sure what caused the positive change in my demeanor that night.
It could have been something as simple as the additional dopamine in my brain
chemistry caused by the physical action of getting up and moving. Maybe it was
a swath of encouragement from the Holy Spirit. Or maybe it was just a sense
that if I kept climbing, I’d eventually reach the summit of the mountain, and
that’s a good thought.
What is the next step before you today? What will it cost you to take it? What will it cost you if you do not take it?
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You can find more encouraging narratives in the book, Confessions: “Finding Hope Through One Pastor’s Doubt.”
I once had an English teacher begin the semester by proclaiming he never wanted to see the word, stuff, used in our writing. For him, the word, stuff, was too general and using it screamed of laziness. He wanted us to take the time and effort to think through exactly what we were writing about in very deliberate and specific language. Stuff is boring. It’s what accountants and dentists deal with.
But yet, isn’t that really what life is made up of? It’s those little details that build our days of which no one really pays attention to. The packing of lunches, mowing the grass, and kissing our families good-by before they head off for the day. Like quiet bricks in a building that no one pays attention to, they are so necessary for the completion of the project. All the attention is given to the corner stone but yet the building is made up of those boring pieces of stone which together keep the rain out and heat in. Isn’t that life? (more…)
I’ve never really been a fan of religious verbiage. I especially hate it when people call me Pastor Steve. God doesn’t call me that. But the problem with the word pastor, in the English language, is that it means just about everything. Thus it sometimes doesn’t really mean anything. Anything specific that is. The problem with me is that I tried to do and to be everything associated with the word and it just about killed me. But maybe, in truth, the real problem belongs to all of us who call on the name of Christ. (more…)
This afternoon I’m at my home office computer watching the live stream Memorial service for one of the men who encouraged me in ministry. His name is Roy Wheeler and he served in Amarillo, Texas for over 40 years as the Senior Minister for Hillside Christian Church. (Known as Paramount Terrace Christian Church when I was growing up) My first two suits came from Roy and those are a necessity, at least back then, for being a preacher. Roy came up to Joplin, Missouri in April of 1994 to hear my senior sermon and participate in my ordination service for full-time Christian ministry. Later on that day Roy said he was so impressed with my sermon that he wanted me to come back to Paramount Terrace and preach it for all three Sunday morning services before Debi and I left for Moscow, Russia as missionaries.
I wanted to make the memorial service today but with all the Hurricane relief that our Houston area church is engaged in, I just couldn’t make it happen. I’m sure that among all the people who were in attendance, there will be a number of men, like me, who owe part of their journey in Christian ministry to Roy. While it was Jesus who truly called me to this task, it was Roy and men like him who confirmed it. For that I am ever grateful.
This afternoon is indeed one of those times in the race of our lives when we do stop and think about those who have been a positive influence on us. For me, I’d say that the “A Team” list of older mentors in my life, who have encouraged me in ministry, would be Eric Wolfram, Max Goins, Mark Scott, Fred Masteller, Dennis Platt, Bob Gerhardt, and Steve Sigler in addition to Roy. Maybe for you, today can also be a time to remember, thank Jesus for, and possibly reach out to those who have encouraged you.
Likewise, as we live in such a negative culture today, the positive power of the tongue is such a rarity. I often ask myself whom I might encourage like these men have done to me. What about you? The reality is that all of us will be at center stage of a funeral or memorial service someday. At that time, who will be stopping and thanking Jesus for allowing you to be a positive influence in their lives?