Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God


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20 The Refuge of Trust

Psalm 62:8

 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Paul Harvey tells a story about a basketball coach for LaSalle University named Speedy Morris. Speedy was shaving one day when his wife called out to tell him he was wanted on the phone by Sports Illustrated. Speedy Morris was so excited by the prospect of national recognition that he nicked himself with his razor and ran with a mixture of blood and lather on his face down the hall promptly falling down the stairs. Limping and in some physical distress he finally got to the phone and the voice on the other line said: “For just seventy five cents an issue you can get a one year trial subscription….”

Speedy not only experienced physical pain with his fall but the emotional pain of disappointment, a pain familiar to us all. The word disappoint may sound benign, uneventful, and insignificant, that is until disappointment becomes personal. Disappointment is more than a benign word, it is an emotional upheaval that brings the daily events of life crashing down driving us inward into worry, anxiety and depression. Disappointment can come in many forms, grades, jobs, friends, loved ones and even in our selves. But as Christians we have the greatest reason for hope, we aren’t supposed to be sad, depressed or disappointed, we just rely on God in our times of despair and that takes care of it, doesn’t it? If it were only that easy! In the Psalms we are forced to come face to face with the real and often raw side of life, the ugly underbelly that we would rather paint over with a lovely yet unrealistic ideal of the Christian life. David was a man after God’s own heart, truly seeking to follow God yet at times it he experienced the messiness of life. He struggled as he tasted the bitter disappointment of life, an enemy you can’t just run from but who lurks around the corner ready to attack and sabotage.

Jesus understands the raw reality of pain, He endured the cross, carrying not only the physical weight but also the emotional and spiritual heaviness of loss and disappointment. He knows us and He knows that there will be times in all of our lives when life just seems to get the better of us, when under the weight we buckle. That’s why he has given us His Word, not to say, “get a stiff upper lip”, but to realistically guide us through the pain so we can experience the comfort He has waiting for us on the other side. Experiencing the refuge that comes as we trust God means that we will:

  • RELEASE

Our tendency with pain is to hold it in and to hold on tight, but God tells us to let it out and give it to Him, “pour out your hearts to him” Ecclesiastes 3 says “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heaven: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to cry” Our holding it in is simply an attempt to deny the pain but God says first and foremost we need to feel the hurt and we do that when we let it out. God doesn’t just say to let it out but to pour it out which is interesting when we consider how He created us to deal with pain. It isn’t an accident that when we hurt we cry and when we do often the tears pour out of us. Tears are an expression of thought, feelings and emotion created by God and I know, Big Boys Don’t Cry. It’s okay for me to share with the women reading this to feel the hurt and cry, but men are not supposed to lose control of their emotions, openly cry, worry or express overwhelming disappoint and sadness. When we approached school age, most boys are taught that “big boys don’t cry and to enforce this, those who don’t hold back the tears endure the humiliation of being called a girl, sissy or fairy. But if God has created us to release and we hold on then where do those tears go? Nowhere and when tears are held inside the pain can’t be released and instead only intensifies. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness it is the natural cleansing gift of release given to us by God.  It isn’t an accident that we cry, we were created that way, even Jesus wept, in John 11:33, 35 “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled…..Then Jesus wept” Tears allow us to openly face the grief of heartbreak and disappoint which begins the journey of hope by washing away the pain of the past.

  • RELY

Releasing our pain to God means that we must rely on Him, and to counteract the roller coaster ride of disappointment and fear we must reflect. Relying on God in the midst of the pain of this world means standing quietly in the elevator of life and listening to the music. But we can only do that if we are willing to slow down and fellowship with God in the midst of the pain. When was the last time you stepped into the quiet of His nature and let the music of His hills, valleys and streams roll over you?  So often in the pain we just want to hear the ding that signals the end of the ride, to see the doors open so we can escape the ride. We endure it only because it gets us to our destination, but what if we accepted those moments when we feel trapped in the elevator of life. What if we were really open to listening to the soothing sounds of His rhythms and meditating on his promises?

  • REST

Disappointment is often the result of getting less than what we expected or wanted. This world and the people in if will always fall short of our expectations, wants and needs, but God never will. In the Bible there are many promises that deal with specific situations we might encounter but the promises mean nothing apart from the God. We need to cultivate a relationship with the living God of these promises not just the promises themselves. When storms come we need to be able to connect His promises with our problems and we can only do that if we have connected the promises with the provider. Those who are willing to …pour out their hearts to God in prayer, learn to rest in Him. It is only through trusting Him and resting in that relationship that we find His refuge.


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19 Fear or Trust?

Psalm 56:3-4

3 But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. 4 I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?

David admitted his weakness when he said “I am afraid.” And like David all of us have fears of some kind. Maybe you are afraid of losing your job, losing your finances, or losing a loved one that you have depended on for affection and acceptance. Maybe you have fears about loneliness, fears about being accepted by others, fears about failure, fears about rejection, fears about your children, fears about your relationship or marriage, or fears of facing tomorrow. Whatever the fears may be, all of us have uttered the words “I am afraid” at one time or another whether privately or publicly. The feeling of fear has a powerful influence on how we think and act. For some it creates a fight or flight impulse, others are paralyzed and fear prevents them from fulfilling their purpose in life. The reality is that all of us react in the grip of fear.

Fear’s desire is to conquer the soul, to isolate us emotionally so that we can’t enjoy the life God has purchased through His Son Christ Jesus. Yet God wants us to live free from the torment of fear 2 Timothy 1:7 declares, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” God desires for us to live the abundant life while the force of fear wants to prevent us from experiencing the abundant life of joy, the abundant life of peace, the abundant life of freedom, the abundant life of courage, and the abundant life of prosperity. Fear does not act alone but brings with it its twin cousins of discouragement and depression. Together they shout death to our purpose, death to our promises, death to our dreams. Is fear trying to rob you of your dream, to kill and stop you from enjoying the life that God has provided and intended for you to live?

David’s life was governed by fear instead of being guided by faith and he knew it, so He made the decision to trust and turn to God and to break the grip of fear through:

  • Confession

David confessed his fear, he admitted to being afraid of people, he said in Psalm 56:1 “O God, have mercy on me, for people are hounding me.” This was a very real fear and would have included Saul and his army as well as the Philistines in Gath. David understood that in order to break the grip of fear we have to confess it to God. One of the benefits of confession is identification, as David confessed he also identify his fear. What is it and who is it that causes you to cower in fear? David did not deny his fear, he identified it and confessed it to God. Ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of?” What is the nature of your fear? Are you afraid of failure that will lead to criticism? Are you afraid of failure that will lead to rejection? Are you afraid that your weakness and inadequacies will be exposed? Are you afraid that others will punish, misuse, or abuse you? What is it? Will you identify it, admit it to yourself and confess it to God?

  • Confronting

Secondly we have to face our fears. This is why identifying them is so important; you can’t confront what you do not know. Our natural tendency is to give in to fear, to bow your knee, and give ground but confronting means we will stand firm against it. We must remember that we do not stand alone, in Exodus 14:13 we read, “Fear not; stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” So even if your knees are shaking, your mouth is dry, and you feel as though you are about to fall down, confront that fear. Fear cannot be wished away or hoped away, it must be confronted and dealt with through God’s Word. People may criticize, reject, and persecute you, but don’t allow them to intimidate you. Face the problem, the terror, and the uncertainty by faith.

  • Concentration

What we concentrate on, where we place our focus will impact the battle. Will you chose to concentrate on the promises or the problems? The more you focus your eyes on the problem, the more fearful you become. Faith has a lot to do with focus, instead of fixing our eyes on the fear we need to focus on the Father. Your Provider promises to strengthen and sustain and He is able to handle anything you may face in this life. Fear wants to create doubt because doubt sees the obstacles where Faith sees the way, doubt sees the darkness where Faith sees the day. Fear is really an opportunity to trust even when our greatest fear is trusting God.