Thursday, November 07, 2013


For those of us who take a stab at preaching, I address a topic dear to your hearts; frustration.

First of all we begin enthused about what we would label the greatest calling on earth. Others may not see it that way; but we surely do.  We begin eager, anticipatory, and ambitious.

What I want to do is to cheer you on to never hiccup over stresses and struggles. Finish deeper, farther, higher, and wider than when you first began.

How will that seriously transpire?  Dodge the brotherhood whims and bullets?  Never stand out on a limb with saw in your own hand?  Avoid controversy?  May I add that if your goal is to be a minister of the Gospel and avoid controversy, you have just bailed on the walk of Jesus.  He was so known for his controversy that his walk ended upon the Cross.

All Christians, therefore especially us, are destined for the blender.  By our very faith confidence in the Holy Spirit of Christ we are set up for enormous and constant trouble.  Trouble; we don't need to go looking for it.  It comes to the believer as an automatic assumption of true and meaningful spiritual life.

My word to those who serve in a role like mine is please don't be caught off guard is if something is wrong because strife arises.  Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you (I Peter 4:12).  The natural man seems to feel entitled that if we are going to serve in the church we don't need a bunch of unnecessary hassle.

Oh, suffering is most necessary.  We need it....must have it...and will have.  The question is not how do we avoid it. The question is how will we use it as our fuel instead of our enemy.

To the contrary, we must have it.  It is the nature of man to need it and God to afford it.  With reflection upon the Beatitudes we learn that in risk, pain, and suffering there are steady announcements of blessings. Unbelieving preachers call them curses. They are not. We need the troubles to build us and discipline us for spiritual warfare; God's style.

Yes, we are the brunt of public jokes in many places; in church and out.  We are also the target of undeserving love both in the church, out of the church, and surely from God above.  We get to do the greatest, most privileged work on earth.

Very few would understand the baptism in our own tears.  They just don't know.  But neither do many realize how crumby we are, how failing we feel, and how perplexed we remain.

So what shall we do?

Stick tight.  Don't run.  Instead, learn.  Realize we are following in the Master's steps. As he had a cross of suffering, a tomb of death, and a lift of resurrection, we possess equally all three.  What's more fun than watching dead things live?

Don't be afraid and, good grief, don't be whining.  Be bold.  Awaken to the beauty of your struggles with people.  We expect to win them.  That's what this call of His is all about.  Nobody can really live unless somebody first dies for them.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body....So death works in us, but life in you.

Jesus went first.  We came alive.  Now it is our turn to suffer hardship so that others may live.  THIS puts purpose into our frustration.  Don't quit....EVER.

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