The Weight of the World

the_weight_of_the_world_800_wht
Source: https://content.presentermedia.com/files/clipart/00008000/8903/the_weight_of_the_world_800_wht.jpg

The last couple of years, during the pandemic that we have all come through, so many people feel as if they have the weight of the world upon their shoulders. It has affected people in ways that I believe we are yet to fully realize. There are some indications of mental disorders now that are popping up everywhere. From depression to anxiety, from angst to fear, people are really suffering with the way things have been.

But today is a new day. It seems that many have been coming out of their homes in freedom and have decided that even though this has been a rough couple of years, they’re going to live life again. And we should. Life never stopped; people stopped. Life continued; people didn’t. However, the question remains: How do we get back to “normal?” In this post I’d like to offer a few suggestions for our consideration. Of course from my vantage point, I believe that the answers are founded and rooted in the Bible.

First, we need to learn to thank God for what we’ve been through over the last couple of years. Paul the apostle writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Now I know some are thinking that God’s will is not for you if this is the way things are going to be. But it is God’s will for us. We have all sorts of things that happen because of “life” but it’s ultimately God’s will for you to experience what you do. Sometimes things go the way we desire for them to go while at other times they are hard and we don’t want to go through them. But God sees us through both the good and the hard times! Notice I didn’t say the good and “the bad.” I believe we need to change our perspective and see that both the good and the hard things in life will work out for our good. Again, Paul the apostle writes in Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Wow! If “all things work together for good,” this means both the good and the hard “work together for good.” It’s not God being mean to us, or God zapping us, but it is God “causing all things to work together for good to those who love Him.” It is God who has purposed “life” to happen so we can see His handiwork through this journey.

Secondly, Paul writes that we are to pray without ceasing. In order for us to give thanks continually for both the good and the hard, we need to be praying. Prayer is communication with God. However, it is not a one-way street. It takes us learning to listen to His side of things. His perspective is what we need and He sees all things in perfection when our eyes are clouded with circumstances because His eyes are never clouded to our situations. He sees the end result of the good and the hard. He knows how we feel and what we think about the circumstances we face. The ramifications of our decisions are known by God before we can even figure out what they are. He is in tune with what’s happening in our lives because He’s not static but dynamic in our lives. God is concerned for us otherwise He would not be “causing all things to work together for good to those who love God.” Even further, Paul writes in Romans 8:32:

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

God has gone so far as to “deliver His own Son over for us all.” If God did this for us, then how much more “will He not also with Jesus freely give us all things?” It is a resounding “yes!” He gives us all things and works all things together for our good if we love God–both the good and the hard things in life. And what greater thing can we do but to prayerfully give thanks to the Lord for all that He has done, what He is doing, and what He intends to do no matter what is going on around us or in us. It is speaking with Him and then listening for His Word to reach into our psyche and our spirit and our soul. It is giving Him our heart and mind and soul so we can hear Him. And all of this is by faith because of the grace that He has extended to us in Jesus Christ and by His Holy Spirit.

Finally, Paul tells us to “rejoice always.” Paul writes in Philippians 4:4, 5:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

Incredible! He says to “rejoice always” because the “Lord is near.” When in the midst of the hard times, God is near! God is not only near us in the good times but even in the hard times! He is there where you are. He knows what’s happening around you, near you, and in you! When we rejoice in the Lord we have the opportunity to show others our “gentle spirit” because we are at peace knowing the presence of the Lord. It stands to reason that we will be at peace because as Paul says, “He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Read what else Paul says in Philippians 4:6, 7:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Did you see it? We don’t have to be “anxious for nothing” but through “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [we can] let our requests be made known to God.” It means that we don’t have to let one thing affect us to the point that we are halted or stunted, not able to do what God has called us to do because “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.” It’s His peace that “surpasses all comprehension” or all of what we may find in our own minds. His peace is what brings the gentleness and peace into our lives. When we “rejoice always” and when we are “anxious for nothing,” then we begin to see how God “guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.” It is this peace from God that protects us from the hard times in life. It is this peace that God uses to show us that when we rejoice in Jesus Christ, and when we pray without ceasing, and when we give thanks in everything, then we have the peace of God guarding our hearts and our minds. It is the work of God in us. His work in us then pours out of us to help others through life whether it is good or hard.

These are ideas to release the weight of the world off of our shoulders. What are some other things you might think we can do to let the weight of the world fall off our shoulders? What do you do for self-care that you can suggest to others? Today, who can you help through a hard time?

I Met the Author of My Story!

authoring-tools-1
Source: https://www.easygenerator.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/authoring-tools-1.jpg

I cannot imagine just how hard it is for authors to write a story. I’ve tried my hand at writing, thus, this little blog with a few followers. True authors are a rare breed because they struggle with a passion for putting thoughts, putting words on paper (or nowadays, on the computer screen). They “muscle” through dictionaries and thesaurus’ finding the exact word that will express what they are trying to tell others. It isn’t an easy task for some because they think about all the possibilities of what others may think about their writing only to be unsatisfied with what they produce ever thinking it could be better.

But there are some authors, that it appears, know exactly what they are doing all of the time. They write books left and right. They do constant research and synthesize the thoughts of other authors into their own works. They work diligently from the moment they wake to the moment they lay their heads down to rest. It seems they think about their topic so thoroughly they can’t escape putting down on paper what they want us to know. For some authors they hit it big with one or two books and for others no matter what they produce they sell a gazillion copies of their works.

But there is a specific Author that I am thinking of this morning. He has thought about everything and everyone in perfection. He is limitless, this Author is. He doesn’t merely think that He knows something. He actually knows the topic so thoroughly that He can quote what these authors are going to write or say before they even write or say it. This Author knows each person so intimately well that He even knows the number of hairs on their heads! Read what one author has written about this Author:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it. –Psalm 139:1-6

This great Author knows everything about us. Not just me, but all of us. Whether we have ever read this Author’s work or not, whether we know His Person or not, He knows us intimately. Read further what the minor author writes about this great Author:

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depthts of the arth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. –Psalm 139:13-16

Wow! This great Author has written the days that He has ordained for me! This means the same thing for you! There is not a one of us who has not been written about by this Author. He has seen you even before you were known by your parents. He has formed you even when you were in your mother’s womb. Not only this, but read what else the lesser author writes about this great Author:

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. –Psalm 139:17, 18

So as lesser authors attempt to think through their subject as thoroughly as they can, the great Author has thought about us so thoroughly that He knows everything about us before we even experience what He has written on His pages. He knows me; He knows you. He has written our days out for us. Everything we experience in life, whether it is good or hard, the great Author already has thought them through.

Now this Author has done an incredible thing in revealing to us that He knows us intimately well. But even greater, He has made a way for us to know Him intimately well. A lesser author writes this about the great Author:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. — John 3:16

This is how we can know the great Author: by believing Him. This great Author is God and He has given us His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we might know Him. Jesus even said:

If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him. –John 14:7

You can know the great Author of your story by knowing His Son, Jesus Christ! He has given us His Son so we can know Him intimately as He knows us. He desires for any man, woman, boy, or girl to know Him. In knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you know the great Author. The more you read of His works, the more you will see that He truly is who He says He is. The more you read of what He has written about us, the more you will see how you, too, have met the Author of your story.

Impacting Others

influence-title
Source: https://s3.amazonaws.com/wacorba-sites/fbcwest/2018/06/04121725/Influence-Title.jpg

It was many years ago that I learned of certain individuals who have impacted my life and ministry. The first person who impacted me is, of course, my own Dad, David. He taught me so many things from the Scriptures and just how to do things around the house and especially on cars. The greatest lesson I learned from my Dad is that love covers a multitude of sins (cf. 1 Peter 4:8); for this I am most grateful because he taught me that through Jesus Christ, who is perfect love, all of my sins are forgiven for all eternity. He taught me that Jesus Christ, who died for my sins, was buried, and was raised again according to the Scriptures, can save anyone who will come to Him by faith. He taught me the Scriptures just like his Dad taught him. He taught me about Jesus and the salvation He offers to all.

Another great influence on my life is my grandfather, Dionicio, my Dad’s Dad. He was kind of short compared to others, but he was a giant in my eyes. He was faithful to my grandmother, Fidela, for 63 years before she passed away. And after my grandmother passed away, it certainly did not stop my grandfather from ministering to others. He would always purchase big station wagons in order that he might pick up people and take them to church services with he and my grandmother. He would constantly speak the Gospel of Jesus Christ to whomever he could. He was a diligent worker in everything he did and my grandfather taught my Dad how to be like this and he taught me how to do the same. I would go with my grandfather to the church to help do yardwork. He taught me faithfulness in serving the church.

Another great influence in my life is John Pretlove. He was a professor of Church History and New Testament at Criswell College where I attended for my undergraduate degree. He is from England so I was always interested in listening to his accent being that I had never heard that accent growing up on the border with Mexico. He taught me the doctrines of grace. He helped me to understand how God is Sovereign while inclining our spirits toward Jesus Christ for salvation. He showed grace to me spending time with me when I was only 17 years old in college. He discipled me like my grandfather and my Dad did. Living 12 hours away from home, John helped me to feel alright with being away from the two men who influenced me the most and became the third most influential man in my life. He has been a faithful Bible teacher and preacher and pastor since I have known John. He taught me doctrine from the Scriptures.

Louis Newman was a deacon at a church where I met my wife over 30 years ago. Louis was already 78 years old when I met him. One day I realized that I needed to have an accountability partner, someone who would hold me to account as I was getting ready to marry my wife, Cheryl. I wrote a letter and handed it to Louis on a Sunday morning after the worship service and asked him to read it, pray about it, and then let me know his thoughts. That evening, when we were getting ready for our Sunday evening service, Louis came to me and agreed to be my accountability partner. He had no idea why I would choose to ask him to do this. My response: Because I prayed about who I should ask and it was Louis. He taught me about finances and how to provide for my wife and family. He encouraged me–like my grandfather, Dad, and John–to stay in the Word of God, the Bible. He encouraged me to be obedient to the Lord and how to pray. Louis prayed with me and by doing this, like my Dad and grandfather, he taught me to pray.

There is another deacon that influenced me greatly. His name is David Blackerby. In my first pastorate, David was serving as the chairman of the deacons when I arrived. I asked him if he would pray with me the first week of my pastorate. He obliged and came to my office. He then asked if I would like to meet with him weekly for prayer and I absolutely wanted that. David was an encourager. He would listen and he would love me no matter what was said. He would let me know that he may not have an answer for what I was asking or saying, but he just listened and encouraged me to continue serving the Lord faithfully. He would tell me that he was praying for me daily, and I believe he did. It was 4 1/2 years into my tenure in that church that he had a massive heart attack and died. I have never forgotten the way he just listened to me and encouraged me. He taught me how to encourage others.

Paul McCord is a trustee and a deacon at the church where I currently pastor. He was the chairman of the pastor search committee that contacted me and asked if I would consider coming to this church. When we first spoke on the phone, his calm demeanor and constant encouragement since I started pastoring this church has been a God-send. He listens, has Godly advice and suggestions, and seeks to do whatever he can to come alongside me in ministry. He has taught me wisdom by what he says and beleives and by the way he lives.

Another trustee and deacon is Rody Ryon. He listens and has such Godly advice. He prays with me every Sunday morning but before he prays, he wants to know how my week has been. I can tell him that it has been good or it has been hard, and he always has a word of encouragement and prays for wisdom for me. He has taught me about marriage just listening to what he does for his wife who has certain health issues. He loves and cares for her and has for so many years. This is a great lesson and encouragement to me. He has taught me about love for my wife, my family, and my church.

Lawrence Story is another trustee and deacon who faithfully prays for me every week. He has had some health struggles as of late, however, when he is able to be in attendance of our weekly time of prayer, he is there. He is faithful. He loves the church. He seeks to encourage. He tells me about the history of the church and it helps me to know what we need to do and what we do not need to do. He’s faithful to his wife, his children, and to others who have known him for many years. He has taught me about the holiness of God by listening to his prayers.

I have known Linney Patton since the mid-1980s. He has influenced me as well. I tell people that he is my best friend. His aunt Elvira taught him about God’s faithfulness. Linney has faced some hard times in his life, but he chalks it up to God teaching him to live for Him no matter what may come his way. Even when I have sought prayer from Linney for issues that I was facing, asking him to pray for me to get out of it, he rather told me that he would pray the Lord would see me through the hard times. That was not easy to hear, but it was the best thing he could do for me. The Lord showed me His faithfulness as He has shown Linney. Linney has taught me about the faithfulness of the Lord.

These men have influenced me through the years. I love each of them dearly because of so much I have learned from them, been encouraged by them to do and not to do, and just watching them and listening to them has helped me in ministry over the last 38 years. Each of these men are full of faith, full of love, and full of the Spirit. Because of them, I have been a blessed man for many years.

Thank you for making an impact in my life and ministry through the years.

%d bloggers like this: