A Shelter in the Storm

Weathering the Storms of LifeHave you ever been caught out in a severe thunder-storm? The rain was coming down so hard that you couldn’t see five feet in front of you? You are trying to run toward cover, but because of the high winds and massive amount of rain you can’t see anything? You know that if you just keep moving forward, eventually you’ll find shelter and relief from the deluge.

After you’ve been running awhile, you begin to wonder why you haven’t reached  shelter. You ask yourself, “Did I go in the wrong direction? It is raining so hard that I couldn’t actually see the shelter, so I just started running in the general direction? Maybe I went the wrong way, maybe I passed it, maybe it is not really in front of me, maybe—maybe I’m lost and out on my own.”

As you continue questioning your hope of finding shelter, panic begins to well up within your heart. “I’m cold, wet, and tired from running. Maybe I should stop and wait for the storm to pass. Maybe I should go back the other direction.” Just as you’re about to give up, something within pushes you on. The voice says, “Don’t give up, just keep trusting what you know to be true.” So, you press on finding greater confidence with each and every step. “I’ve jogged in this park for years, and I know for certain that shelter is just a little bit further ahead.”

Suddenly, through the rain you see a dark shadow just a few yards ahead. You begin to run faster as you realize it is the long-awaited shelter right where you knew it would be. Entering the shelter you double over to catch your breath, and after a few minutes something incredible happens. You look outside the shelter at the overwhelming downpour that had left you blind, helpless, and confused, and you begin to see the beauty of the storm from within the shelter. Outside the shelter you could only see a few feet, but now you can see up and down the trails, and behold the beauty of the falling rain. You now realize the only way to go through a storm is under the safety of the shelter. After all, you’re still in the middle of the storm—the wind is blowing, rain falling, lightning flashing, and thunder crashing; nevertheless you are protected within this old, trusted safe haven.

I have found myself many times over the last forty-eight years being battered about by the storms of life. I was tired, cold, and weary. I kept calling out to God for help, but He never seemed to come and rescue me from the terrifying tempest. Continuing on, blinded by the wind and rain, soaking wet, and shivering, I just couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t point me in the right direction, why He wouldn’t stop the rain—I couldn’t comprehend how leaving me lost in this storm could possibly bring Him glory.

But then I remember, I had gone out into the storm on my own. I had chosen my own direction and took off running thinking that I could withstand the beating long enough to find shelter. What I needed to do was stop running away from God, remember the shelter of God’s presence, peace, and protection, and begin running to where He had always been. Sure enough, when I quit struggling, trying to get through the storm in my own strength, and relied on God it happened. My eyes were opened to see His shelter, and from there I was able to see the beauty of the storm and understand that He is glorified most when I find my strength, safety, and satisfaction in Him regardless of the circumstances.

God has never left you to fight alone, but He will freely let you go out and try it all alone. There has never been a moment when He wasn’t patiently waiting for you to stop thrashing about in your sea of self-determination and cry out to Him, “God, I CAN’T DO THIS!” Nope, not for a moment has He ever forsaken you! All you have to do is open your eyes to see Him, run to His shelter, and then find your rest in Him!

If you find yourself in the middle of a raging storm, you don’t know where to turn, and you are thinking of giving up, then you need Jesus. He is as close as your next breath and is waiting on you to cry out to Him. If you need help finding your way to Him, email me at pastorbob@lobc.net, and I’ll help you find your way to His shelter.

Here is a beautiful song by Meredith Andrews, “Not for a Moment.”

Every Pastor’s Job Description

Pastors Job DescriptionI absolutely love being a pastor and getting to studying God’s Word in preparation to share it with my church family each Sunday. There is a satisfaction beyond description from seeing someone move from casual attender, to consistent attender, to serving, to leading, and finally becoming a disciple-maker. Watching members grow in their faith and service often brings me to tears. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy and long to be around my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I once heard a wise statement about being a great pastor, “If you’re going to be a shepherd, you have to smell like the sheep.” A shepherd lived with, protected, fed, and led the sheep. They knew him, trusted him, and followed him without reservation. The pastor’s first responsibility is to be a shepherd to the people. Shepherding should be a task the pastor loves. If a pastor doesn’t like being with the people then you have to ask why is he a pastor to begin with.

This morning I read a great post by John MacArthur on “Every Pastor’s Job Description.” It was refreshing to hear such a great leader of a mega-church describe a pastor’s greatest responsibility.

MacArthur writes:

Many of my favorite people are pastors. I grew up the son of a pastor and the grandson of a pastor. And after more than four decades of my own pastoral ministry, and many years of training young men for their own, I think I have a good understanding of a pastor’s heart—both his joys and his struggles.

These days, my heart aches for pastors.

It aches because today their job is as difficult as it has ever been. We live in an anti-authority culture—one that has lost all respect for people in positions of authority and influence. The modern mindset is to tear down everybody and everything. It’s a destructive culture, driven by fierce pride and runaway self-esteem. It seems very few pastors are run out of their churches over bad sermons or ineffective ministry—usually, they’re run out by a person or a group contending for power and authority.

That difficulty is compounded by the intimidation of massive media ministries and celebrity preachers on TV, the Internet, and in flat-screen churches all over the country. Pastors today are told they need to embody an entrepreneurial spirit—that they need to grow their churches the way you would grow a business. They hear a lot about needing to impact the culture and engage the community, and they get all kinds of pragmatic advice on how to accomplish that. They’re told they need to reach beyond the church and revolutionize society. In fact, it seems much of the modern pastor’s work is supposed to take place outside the church.

That’s a discouraging, disheartening message for men who love the church and have given their lives in service to God’s people. It’s also unbiblical. Pastors have one job. They’re not called to be cultural evangelists, entrepreneurs, or revolutionaries. They’re called to faithfully feed the flock of God. They’re called to be shepherds.

Consider the apostle Peter’s instruction to church leaders in 1 Peter 5:1-2.

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.

The solemn duty of every pastor is to feed God’s sheep. And as a pastor, the day you let your eyes move beyond the people sitting in your church is the day you’ve lost your purpose.

The focus of pastoral ministry is not the people outside the church, and it’s not drawing unbelievers to the church. The focus is on the people inside the church—the flock the Lord has sovereignly drawn together and entrusted into the care of a shepherd. The pastor has been set apart, as the apostle Paul put it, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).

Pastors are not called to the culture, and we’re not called to the unconverted. We have been mandated to feed our flocks so they can grow spiritually. We’re called to serve the redeemed people of God as an agent of sanctification and protection. The measure of a man’s effectiveness in ministry is not the number of people in his congregation every week—it’s the Christlikeness of his congregation.

Source: Every Pastor’s Job Description

Purity Required

Dwelling In God's PresenceAs a Christian, I have very strong beliefs about God’s definition of what is righteous or unrighteous, right or wrong, pure or impure. God has made it clear that those who love sin, unrighteousness, or impurity will have no part in the kingdom of heaven. He has even specifically spelled out the practices that will prohibit you from getting to heaven.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, His presence in your life will compel you to live according to His way. As Christians we live our lives daily within the presence of God; therefore, He has certain requirements that will be seen in our lives if we have moved from worldly living to Christ-centered living.

This past Sunday as we looked at the Tabernacle we examined a few of these requirements for dwelling within the presence of God. We do not try to live according to these requirements so that we will be acceptable to God, but because we have been declared acceptable by Him. His Spirit dwelling within changes us. We no longer are shackled to our fleshly desires. We have been set free, we are a new creation, and we cannot find satisfaction in anything except God.

To hear more about living a pure life, pure worship, and a pure walk I would encourage you to follow this link and listen to the message: “Dwelling in God’s Presence.”

If we have truly become followers of Jesus then we will look different from the world. We won’t ask the question, “How far can I go before it is sin.” Because of the Spirit living within we will know God and His holiness, and therefore flee from that which is sinful.

I hope the message “Dwelling in The Presence of God” leads you into a closer relationship with Christ.

Worship Him!

Today is the Lord’s Day. It is the day when believers gather together to lift up His glorious name. We sing of His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and sacrifice, We sing with one heart, one soul, one mind, and with one voice!

I pray that you will make time to worship the “Fairest Lord Jesus!”

Do You Dwell in God’s Presence?

king_james_bible7[1]“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob” (Ps. 24.1-6 NIV).

Hope to see you on Sunday at 10:45 a.m. as we worship Jesus together!

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