Who can I trust?

Recently I received a letter from another pastor who failed. This all too common an occurrence struck closer to home, since it directly affected members of my immediate family.

When those who are to lead us spiritually fail, it is unsettling, affecting our faith and destabilizing our trust, perhaps even in God, but it need not be so.

We should not be overly surprised by pastoral failure, because the Bible describes all of us as sinners, prone to fall, and, although we try to select qualified and tested individuals to lead us, pastors fail also. Judas, one selected by the Savior, failed, as did Adam and Eve whose only Father was God. Therefore, we should not be overly surprised at failure.

Although God has equipped us to succeed in life, we also have a hideously destructive nature embedded within us. If extreme care is not taken, that destructive nature will destroy us.

When unreasonable pressure is consistently and constantly placed upon a pastor, the temptation to fall becomes greater. This means that churches and individuals bear some responsibility for some pastor’s failures. We are all human beings who can be broken. It may be that a pastor is battling a sin that is seeking to dominating him and the pressure of pastoring makes his battle more than he is willing to endure. Sinful habits take over with the resulting failure. This on-going battle is why we can be growing under a pastor while he is struggling with sin. As he battles his sinful tendencies and confesses his sin, he is able to minister effectively, but when he gives in to sin, he is walking according to the flesh and bad things happen. But we need to remember, there is no man or woman who does not sin.

That being said, we still expect our leaders to be men of God who will not shrink in the day of adversity–this is why we chose them. So the question remains; Who can we trust?

We Can Trust in God

Not only my theology, but also the experiences of my 63 year old life has shown me that I can trust God. In His Word, God has taught me to confess my sins, and He promises me that He will forgive all of my sins. I also know that once I became God’s child, through the redemption provided by my Savior, I will always remain His.  Even when I need disciplining, He will not disown me. I have experienced the saving and renewing hand of God now for 43 years, and He has not failed me. I can trust in Him.

God has worked with me all these years to develop a relationship with Him that is tangible, sustaining. This intimate, trusting relationship with God is available to all of us. It is this relationship that will keep us when our leaders fail.

So, in summary, the way to stay steady when those you trust fail you, is by trusting in and walking closely with God. Realize that, while men may fail, God will not fail. He will sustain you in a relationship that may be characterized as intimate. When you nurture this relationship with God, you become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

I hope to write more about this soon.

 

Our Responsibility

The Word of God

Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

My Thoughts

Jude is doing his best to protect Christians from false Christians who infiltrate the fellowship of Christians. After a detailed description of these false Christians, Jude explains how to protect ourselves from them.

First of all, we must recognize and embrace the fact that it is our responsibility to keep ourselves in the love of God. This does not mean that we keep ourselves saved–members of God’s family. Rather, we have the responsibility to take the necessary steps to maintain our fellowship with God and with other Christians.

Probably just thinking about this brings to our mind areas of our walk with God that are lacking. This would be a good time to begin to fix those areas.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, the Lord willing, we will study the phrase, “building yourselves up on your most holy faith.”

Until then, may God help you to enjoy your life with Him.

Bill E.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Jud 20–21). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Don’t be Self-Centered

October 8, 2017

Jude 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.

This is an odd place to renew my devotional diary, but I just felt it was time. I desire to help, in any little way I can, my many friends made through the years.

The word translated worldly minded in Jude 19 refers to a person who is not spiritual or overtly sinful. They can converse intelligently about the world around them and may be quit friendly, but they are self-centered. Their world revolves around themselves. Self-satisfied, they are actually shallow individuals who have a small universe consisting of self.

The self-centered life is actually a miserable existence. True life, abundant life, meaningful life is one spent for others. This kind of life is based upon a true knowledge of God’s intention for us, our failures, and God’s redeeming love.

We are created to be caretakers for our world and the people in it. We have failed at this, but Christ has redeemed us, building in us the desire to serve Him by helping others.

Let’s enjoy the life God has given us by helping each other and not being worldly-minded.

 

 

Ken Davis

Proverbs 20:24 Man’s steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?

This Sunday morning I received news from Ken Davis that his cancer has become much more aggressive–it doesn’t look good. He has diligently worked holistically to treat his stage 4 cancer, and he has, until now, had remarkable success. I am praying that God will put Ken’s cancer into remission.

At the same time, I am reminded that, at 63, longevity is not guaranteed. I can and should be diligent to maintain my health, but, in the end, God will tell me when it is time to go. Until then, I will pursue God and His desire for my life and calling.

As I think of my many friends, I am prompted to include another verse from Proverbs 20. Verse 9 reads, “Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin”?

If we are honest with ourselves, we will need to admit that we are not pure from sin. All of us have done things which we know are shameful and which deserves God’s judgment. The questions is this, How can I make things right with God? The answer is by admitting our guilt and trusting in our Father’s provision for our sin–Jesus Christ. Jesus, our Savior, has never sinned, yet he died as our sin bearer. He took our gross part upon Himself, so that He could offer us forgiveness and life with Him.

Undoubtedly, we will need to make things right with people whom we may have injured. We may need to ask forgiveness from them as well, but it all starts with being right with God who is our ultimate judge.

This all began for me years ago on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. My life with God began when I confessed my guilt, my record of hurting people, and accepted Jesus as my Savior. Since then, it has been all about learning to live with and for Him.

Living for God is not a chore for me but life itself. I have come to love God whom I know through Jesus Christ. He knows me and accepts me even while He changes me. He is my constant companion. He will see me through death into His wonderful presence.

I hope this helps a friend.

Gaining Competence

Proverbs 18:1-2

He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom. A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.

During my time with the Lord today, I read Proverbs 18. The first two verses of this Proverb has always caused me to pause, reflect and adjust my actions and attitudes.

My paraphrase of  Proverbs 18:1-2: To isolate myself is selfish, doing so (isolating myself) runs counter to all successful thinking. I need others to gain competence.

My Path

During my devotion time today, I read from Psalm 142 and Proverbs 2. In Proverbs 2, as is true throughout Proverbs, great emphasis is placed upon choosing and remaining on the right path.

Years ago, God’s grace and mercy led me to follow His path, the path of life. For me the path started while gazing at the starlit sky of Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.  I was just a young guy, from 10-14 years old.

About 25 years ago, my sons, my brother, and his son, took the path up the side of the Grand Teton mountain range to camp in the “way up”. Today, I will make the same trek with my sons and two grandsons.

My prayer is that my God will make Himself known to them just like He did to me all those years ago. That they will learn to trust  You as I have–to follow the path leading to life.

Proverbs Chapter 2
The Pursuit of Wisdom Brings Security

1 My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
3 For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
8 Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you,
12 To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things;
13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
14 Who delight in doing evil
And rejoice in the perversity of evil;
15 Whose paths are crooked,
And who are devious in their ways;
16 To deliver you from the strange woman,
From the adulteress who flatters with her words;
17 That leaves the companion of her youth
And forgets the covenant of her God;
18 For her house sinks down to death
And her tracks lead to the dead;
19 None who go to her return again,
Nor do they reach the paths of life.
20 So you will walk in the way of good men
And keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land
And the blameless will remain in it;
22 But the wicked will be cut off from the land
And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.

 

Being Thankful

For the third day in a row, Deb and I walked up to Jose’s Ridge. Today, we made it in 45 minutes. At the end of our upward trek, we sat at each others back, supporting each other, and marveled at the beauty of God’s creation. While doing so, we listen to a song, God of Creation. It was  a wonderful time, and it made us ask the question, Should we dare enjoy ourselves while so much of the world is under such duress?

We decided that we should be thankful for the moment, learn about the God who made such beauty, and prepare for a future of sacrificial service to our God and for our neighbors (the population of the world).

Eccl. 3:1   There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven —2  A time to give birth and a time to die;  A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. 3  A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4  A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. 5  A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;  A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. 6  A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7  A time to tear part and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. 8  A time to love and a time to hate;  A time for war and a time for peace. (NASB)

Jose’s Ridge

The last time I entered a post was on Saturday, July 29. Much has happened since then. Deb and I are staying with my son’s, Rob, family. My daughter, Christine, and her family arrived late last night. Rob’s family of four, Christine’s family of five and Deb and I make quite a crowd.

Deb and I put up a tent in the backyard as will Johnathan (Christine’s husband). Tent living in the city of Jackson is great even though the neighbors seem to be up very late.

So far, I have written and sent an email prayer letter, worked through some important correspondence, counseled from long distance, and worked on my biblical Hebrew and Greek. I could fill each day with such activity, but then this would not be the spiritual retreat it should be. Still, I have responsibilities that can’t be ignored. I think what I can do is designate sometime each day and then shut down the computer.

Deb and I have walked up to Jose’s Ridge the last two days (11/2 miles very  steep). Today we were up at 6:00 am, but Deb has told me that we need to leave earlier in order to get the optimum pictures:-)

While enjoying the sights, Deb listened to the song, “God in Heaven.” It was pretty cool, enjoying God’s creation even while enjoying His music.

A Month Away

On Our Way

Deb and I are sitting at Logan International Airport waiting for our flight to Salt Lake City. From there we will fly to Jackson, Wyoming. Fifty years ago or so, during a family camp out in Jackson Hole, God first spoke to my heart–the beauty of the star filled sky caused my thoughts to go heavenward. Each year I return to Jackson Hole to be reoriented and refreshed for the journey ahead.