Saturday, April 30, 2016

What To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

Sometimes things simply take us by surprise. On the surface the circumstances seem insurmountable.  We know that the enemy is powerful, well equipped, and wily.  We don’t have a clue how to respond. 

That is when we must simply turn our eyes upon the Lord.  He is our protector and a very present help in times of trouble.

 In 2 Chronicles 20 Judah’s King Jehoshaphat was faced with such a situation.  Things had been going fairly well for Judah, and Jehoshaphat was a good King.  However, he received very disturbing news.  A federation of nations had formed against him and they were on the march to invade Judah.  Jehoshaphat knew that his army was no match for this force of allied nations.  What was even more frustrating was the fact that God had not allowed His people to invade or conquer those nations during the time of the Exodus, and the King could not understand why God did that and now allowed them to come against His people with overwhelming force.
So, what did Jehoshaphat do?
Send a party out to try to ask for peace?
Capitulate and surrender?
Gather his generals together and call up reinforcements and fight the battle under their own power?

No.  He called all of the people together for prayer. 

He prays publicly, himself, and says these words.

10 And now behold, the men ofAmmon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— 11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Well spoken!

In times of difficulty, uncertainty and crisis, there is nothing we can do that will be more effective than going to God as Jehoshaphat did. Acknowledging our own inability, our own might, but looking to the Sovereign One who is our refuge and strength.

It’s a great story as to how God brings Judah the victory.  Instead of giving them a fool proof battle plan of strength, God instructs the King to put the “choir” up front, going ahead of the fighting men.  A group of singers, “praising the beauty of holiness”.

Here is how the story ends:

20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,
“Give thanks to the Lord,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.”
22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Every Pastor Would Understand!

I am fond of saying that being a Pastor is not a "job", it's a calling.

If it were a job, many of us would resign every Monday!

In fact, there is a book entitled "It Only Hurts On Monday: Why Pastor's Quit And What You Can Do About It." I have a Deacon here at Westmoreland Baptist that read that book years ago and he orders extra copies to give to new Deacons who come on board.  There is a lot of truth in that book.

Another dear friend and Deacon told me on several occasions, "You guys must be crazy to do this!"  Well...
Stress does come with the territory.  But who among us doesn't have to deal with stress.  The joy is, Pastors get to work through some special kinds of stress that may not be in the wheelhouse of most folks out there.  We do it because that is what God has called us to do, and no complaints here.  But I do often pray for God's grace, and over more than four decades in ministry, I have developed a hide somewhat like a Rhinoceros.

Sometimes folks can add to the stress - intentionally (and unintentionally) by comments, questions, and "important" items they want to share with us.
This morning I came across a blog post from Thom Rainer that I could really identify with.  It's called "Ten Sentences That Make A Pastor Cringe".  Every Pastor I know can relate, I'm sure.  You can read it by clicking  Here.

Have a nice day, and don't let the stress stop you.