One of Those Days!

outrageous loveHave you ever had one of those days when you feel all alone? You don’t feel close to anyone. It’s like you’re the only person on the planet even though you’re surrounded by a multitude of people. These feelings usually continue down the path of doubt. You doubt your importance, your worth, or even if anyone loves you. You’re alone, hurting, and feel like there is no one who cares that you are alive.

Sometimes you might be led down the path of confusion. You are suffering in so many different ways that you can’t imagine life ever getting better. This usually leads to wondering if the trials are because of something you’ve done. Confusion leads to questions you already know the answer to: “Are things so difficult because I’ve made God angry?” “Is this punishment for not going to church, giving, serving, reading my Bible, or praying enough?” “Does God really love me?” It is not uncommon for those who have suffered for a long period of time to be confused. You are so tired, weary, and worn that nothing makes sense, so you begin to wonder “What have I done to bring this pain upon myself?”

I believe the paths of doubt and confusion are two trails Satan has cut off the beaten path of faith to cause us to question God’s love. Just like Eve in the garden, Satan is still asking questions to cause us to misinterpret God’s Word and forget His promises. He wants us to believe we’re all alone so we’ll try to solve our problems on our own. He wants us depending on self instead of the Savior.

If you’re having one of the those days and about to leave the path of faith, stop and remember the cross. There is no greater sign of love in all of creation than the cross of Christ. God’s outrageous love for you was proven at the cross. At the cross your sin-debt was paid in full. At the cross anything that could bring condemnation upon you was placed upon Jesus. At the cross we can see that our suffering in this life should make us long for eternal life in heaven all the more.

So, if you’re having one of those days, know that our trials, troubles, and tribulations are not a sign of God’s displeasure. They are a sign that we live in a sinfully fallen world that will eventually end. When this world comes to an end, those who are believers in Christ will be ushered into one eternally long peaceful day where we dwell in the presence and love of God!

Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first Heaven and the first earth had disappeared and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride dressed in beauty for her husband. Then I heard a great voice from the throne crying, “See! The home of God is with men, and he will live among them. They shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death shall be no more, and never again shall there be sorrow or crying or pain. For all those former things are past and gone.” Then he who is seated upon the throne said, “See, I am making all thing new!” (Revelation 21.1-5)

A Day In The Life Of A Pastor

At the end of his post Dr. Thom Rainer extends a challenge to pray for your pastor five minutes a day. If you will commit to this challenge or believe that it is a much-needed ministry, will you please share this on your Facebook page, email the link to all your friends, or have  your church send this to their members. Once you have done these things then pray! Pray for wisdom, discernment, holiness, purity, compassion, vision, and most of all for a Spirit-filled life. You will never know this side of heaven the difference you are making for the kingdom of God.

I hope “A Day In The Life Of A Pastor” by Thom Rainer encourages you to pray for your pastor.

Rainer writes:

It’s Thursday morning. Pastor Doug has a clear calendar, an aberration in his busy schedule. Actually, the calendar is not really clear; he has set aside time to finish his sermon for Sunday. His Bible is open; study aids are nearby. He begins to study.

Then the phone rings.

His assistant tells him about a car accident involving a family in the church. The ambulances are already on the way to the hospital. Doug leaves all of his study material on his desk and jumps into the car.

On the way to the hospital, his assistant calls him again. The entire Godsey family of five was in the car. None are seriously [hurt] except Gary, the father and husband of the family. His condition is grave.

Pastor Doug walks into the emergency waiting room. The family has just been told that their husband and father did not make it. They see their pastor and run to him sobbing, in total shock. Doug is there for them. He stays with the entire family for three hours until he is certain that enough people are around to care for them.

The Afternoon

He stops by his home to see his wife and grab a quick sandwich. It is now afternoon. He’s not sure if he can return to his sermon preparation, but he knows he must. He must fight the emotional exhaustion of the morning, and finish the message. But as he walks back to the church, his assistant apologetically tells him that two people need to speak with him. They consider it urgent.

Doug meets with the two men. One of them is the worship leader of the church. He is struggling with his ministry and is considering giving up. For two hours, Doug listens, consoles, and attempts to encourage the staff member.

The next visitor then catches Doug off guard. George is one of the key lay leaders in the church. Doug considers him a friend and an incredibly vital person in the overall leadership of the congregation. George struggles to speak: “My wife is having an affair . . . “  There are no more words for 15 minutes. Just tears and sobs.

Doug stays with George for over two hours. They pray together and talk about next steps.

It’s nearly five o’clock in the afternoon. Doug is too drained to attempt to get back to his sermon. Instead he begins to look at his crowded email inbox. He cringes when he sees one of the senders of an email. But he cannot stop himself from opening the message. It’s from one of Doug’s most frequent critics in the church. She has two complaints. The first irritation was something he said in last Sunday’s sermon. The second complaint addressed Doug’s failure to visit her sister-in-law who had minor outpatient surgery yesterday. The sister-in-law is not a member of the church. And Doug knew nothing about the surgery.

And Now Evening

Pastor Doug shuts the laptop cover and moves to his car slowly. He’ll stop by the house to grab a quick bite to eat. He needs to check on the Godsey family. He will stay with them for a while, but he must leave prior to 7:30, when he is to give the invocation for a local high school basketball game.

Several people get his attention at the game, so he doesn’t get home until after nine o’clock. He goes to his small study in his home, shuts the door, and begins to cry.

Gary Godsey, the father and husband who was killed in the car accident, was Doug’s best friend.

This was the first chance Doug had to grieve.

A Call to Pray for Pastors

The story is true. Only the names have been changed.

In a few weeks, I will be initiating a call for church members to pray five minutes a day for their pastors. Will you make a commitment today, even before the initiative? Will you commit just five minutes a day to pray for your pastor? Will you ask others in your church to do so? Will you pray for their strength, protection, wisdom, and families?

Will you pray for just five minutes?

I Choose Pain

Recently, as I was filing some old emails, I came across a few that brought back sad memories. They were emails from people who have moved on and are no longer a part of my daily life. Some moved far away, others changed churches, and some had graduated to glory. As I read the emails it was as if I had been transported back in time. All the pain and sorrow that I had felt months or even years ago came rushing back. I have to admit the intensity wasn’t the same; however, the sadness and disappointment of these dear friends no longer in my life was a source of pain. I am thankful to the Lord for helping me through these various losses and very grateful for His strength to endure even the most trying of circumstances.

Bearing the weight of pain, disappointment, betrayal, or the loss of loved ones takes a toll on the heart. As a pastor, I am amazed how much agony the human heart can endure. I have seen families torn apart by divorce, parents broken and grieved at the death of a child, others shocked that they have been betrayed or deceived by a close friend, and I have seen the disbelief on the face of those being told they have some debilitating disease and only given a short time to live. I have sat with those who are filled with what seems to be deteriorating agony which will eventually lead to their death. It is underneath this crushing pressure of pain that many have said, “I wish I could just stop hurting. I don’t want to feel anything. I just want the pain to go away.”

I can still vividly remember times when I wanted the pain to go away. There were times I wanted to seclude myself from the rest of the world so that I would never hurt again. I didn’t want to love for fear of rejection. I didn’t want to trust for fear of being disappointed. I didn’t want to confide in anyone for fear of being mocked. I just wanted to be protected from any and all pain. Have you ever been there?

It is quite simple to live a life of seclusion; however, what you lose is far too precious. C.S. Lewis put it this way:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

I don’t want to be a someone whose heart is as hard as stone. I don’t want to live a life protecting my heart if it means being cold to everyone around me. The pain from rejection, betrayal, and death can be debilitating; however, the reason we hurt so much is because of love. When someone we love departs, for whatever reason, there is great pain, sadness, and loneliness. However, our hearts are only moved by these emotions because we have exchanged so much love with the person who is gone.

I have met with those whose spouse had just passed away. They cried and talked about how lonely life would be without their “better half.” But after a while, something would happen—with tears in their eyes they would smile and start telling stories. They would tell me about their wedding day, the birth of their first child, living over-seas, buying their first home, or about their favorite vacations. By the time they finished we all were laughing and thanking God for the time we had together. These joyous meetings would never have happened if they had closed themselves off from the danger of pain. That kind of joy in the midst of great pain only happens when we have invested ourselves in loving others. You know, loving them like Jesus loved the world and gave Himself up as a sacrifice that we might spend eternity with Him.

So, I guess I am determined to live a life of pain. Pain that comes from loving others with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Pain that comes from building loving relationships that distance, differences, or even death cannot steal the joy of friendship.


Nerve Blocks Don’t Last Forever!

Back in 2003, I had a terrible accident which resulted in, what I thought was simply, a broken leg. I will never forget the look on the doctor’s face when he informed me, “Mr. Pittenger, you have had a rather unfortunate accident. You have a Tibial Plateau Fracture which will require major surgery. Following the surgery you will not be able to put any weight on your leg for thirteen weeks and will spend up to six months in physical therapy learning to use your leg again.” As he continued to explain the procedure to literally screw my leg back together, I sat there in a daze. How was I going to work? How would I take care of Continue reading