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Archive for May, 2018

How Quickly Life Passes

May 31st, 2018

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:14)

How quickly life on this earth passes! We were born just yesterday, it seems, grew up in the morning, and then, before we know it, we look at the sunset that announces the end of our life.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children… (Psalm 103:15-17)

Only God is eternal. Only to Him does all honor and glory belong. And only God sustains His work. We live too briefly to do any more than simply be God’s tools to further His work, but it rests squarely upon Him, and not upon us. We ourselves are quickly forgotten – the wealthy, the poor, the strong, the weak, the effective, the ineffective, all of us eventually pass away and are forgotten. Our only hope of our contributions lasting beyond this life is to invest in the eternal work of redemption that is authored and sustained by God.

I have spent my life doing ministry in a variety of settings: Third World missions, church planting in the USA, church staff member and senior pastor of large churches, teaching seminary, writing adult Bible study material, serving on boards and strategy committees. In all of these things there were well-known people who are now mostly forgotten, respected Christian leaders who are now in heaven and their accomplishments, battles, campaigns, and victories forgotten – even as those who came after them are building upon them.

Thank God that He is eternal! Thank God that He will always remember us. We can rejoice in this truth. He has said to us: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). He deserves all glory and praise, as they sing around the throne:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12)

Praise Him for He is eternal! Praise Him for He is worthy of praise! Praise Him for it is the only way in which we may achieve immortality ourselves!

 

 

Daily Devotions

Breaking out of Burnout

May 30th, 2018

If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:6)

It seems simple enough. If we want to bear fruit then we should remain in Christ. To remain means to abide with Him, to stay with Him, to live life with Him, to take all that we do and think and say, all our relations and responsibilities and expectations, all of everything we have and think and do, and bring them to Christ, and to bring Christ to them.

If we do not do this, however, we burnout. Here Christ used an agricultural example of what farmers do – they burn away the useless parts of plants at harvest. A branch that does not bear fruit, the vintner cuts off. It dries out in the ditch until it must be gotten out of the way. Then it is tossed into the fire.

A couple of years ago I wrote a book “Burnout: Causes and Recovery” with the subtitle “Rediscovering the Joy of Ministry.” If you are dealing with burnout I recommend it to you. It is available on amazon. In it I identified seven main symptoms of burnout for ministers:

  1. Frustration in being unable to change our circumstances in life
  2. A false sense of self-importance, feeling that we are irreplaceable
  3. A sense of being unappreciated by others
  4. A sense of disappointment in God, that He had not done what we had expected Him to do
  5. A feeling of being overwhelmed, of having too much to do – unrelenting responsibilities
  6. A sense of being isolated and alone
  7. The death of those dreams and hope we had earlier held of being able to make a difference for God

These traits were seen in the lives of both Moses and Elijah – two great men of God. Moses exploded in anger (Numbers 20) and Elijah imploded in fear and defeat (1 Kings 19), but both were dealing with the same inner problem.

Perhaps you feel similar today. Take some time to speak with Christ about your feelings. Let Him remind you that you are not alone, that He is with you. Let Him refresh and renew your excitement for service and for knowing Him. We all need to learn the discipline of constant dependence on Christ’s strength. Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21), and because he could say that he could also say:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

Burnout