Tuesday, June 21, 2016

When life isn't fair

For we walk by faith, not by sight.   2 Corinthians 5:7
In his book Disappointment with God, Philip Yancey writes about a friend named Douglas who experienced deep disappointment. Douglas’s wife contracted breast cancer. While in the middle of this crisis, a drunk driver swerved across the center line and smashed head-on into Douglas’ car, and Douglas received a severe blow to the head. His vision was affected, and his ability to read was hindered. He could hardly walk down a flight of stairs without assistance. The damage was irreparable. Philip interviewed Douglas to ask if he felt disappointment with God. Philip writes. . .
“Douglas was silent for what seemed like a long time. Finally he said, “To tell you the truth, Philip, I didn’t feel any disappointment with God. . . . The reason is this: I learned, first through my wife’s illness and then especially through the incident, not to confuse God with life. . .  I have learned to see beyond the physical reality of this world to the spiritual reality. We tend to think, ‘Life should be fair because God is fair.’ But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life, by expecting constant health, for example, then I set myself up for a crashing disappointment. God’s existence, even his love for me, does not depend on my good health. Frankly, I’ve had more time and opportunity to work on my relationship with God during my impairment than before.”
We can see beloved that Douglas learned to successfully navigate disappointment when you don’t get what you want: to believe without seeing, to walk by faith and not by sight. Douglas knew that God is loving and powerful, even though his circumstances didn’t support this truth.
Some people think that trusting God as Douglas did, to believe without seeing, is foolish. “Blind faith,” they scoff. But isn’t faith often blind? If faith can see from beginning to end, if faith means that we understand all things like God, then faith is not faith at all.

Prayer:  Lord increase our faith.  Amen

Pastor Todd A. Brown
"Developing Kingdom Ambassadors"
New Mount Zion Baptist Church

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Leaders lean

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Everyone believe it or not is a leader. You may not lead a company, a classroom, a boardroom, or a sports team, but you are a leader. Maybe you are a mom who leads her children, or you are a leader for the guy who sits next to you in the office just because he looks up to you as a model of professionalism. Perhaps you lead a little league team. Everyone is a leader somehow, sometime.
It’s unfortunate, but sometimes when we start wearing the “leader” label, we also start wearing the “perfection” label. We believe that we must have it all together and be strong, because that’s what leaders are, right? We wrongly believe we always have to be postured, perfect, and never struggle. Anyone who has tried to bear this weight can testify to how heavy it is. But there is good news my friend. God provides grace for all who lead, for all who look to Jesus.   
Jesus led his disciples in many ways. In Luke 19:28, He led the disciples by walking in front of them. In John 13:3-5, He led them by demonstrating servant leadership when he washed their feet, and in Matthew 4:19 He led them by inviting them to follow Him. Most importantly, while He was leading His disciples, He was pressing into His Father out of need. When He needed to be strengthened, He spent time alone in prayer (see Luke 5:16), when He grieved over Lazarus’ death He wept, He called out to God for help (see John 11:1-44) even on the cross, and cried out to His Father in His greatest time of need.
“About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?’ (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (See Matthew 27:46).
The perfect Christ wrestled and struggled with temptations and trials like we all do (see Hebrews 4:15). So where do we get this ridiculous idea that godly, competent Christians, and Christian leaders shouldn’t have needs? Where do we get the idea that they are never really desperate, that they are always in control and composed, and that if they truly belong to Christ they always have a hallelujah on their lips?
We didn’t learn it from Moses, who led a stubborn nation, and cried out to God saying, “What shall I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me?” (see Exodus 17:4). We did not learn it from Paul, who was weak because of a thorn in the flesh, and asked God three times to remove it (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-8). When we expect ourselves or other leaders to be perfect, we appeal to the flesh and a standard no one can live up to (see Romans 3:10). The shouting great news is that God provides grace for us to serve Him in the places where He has called us. While we are leading, He invites us to lean into Him out of desperation and need so we can be the leaders He has called us to be. His grace will sustain you to do the job He has called you to. Aren’t you glad you can take off your label of perfection and put on your label of grace?

Our prayer:  Lord raise up the leader in me through the power of Your Spirt.  Let me always be desperate to lean on you for all I need to be the leader You have called me to be Amen.

Pastor Todd A. Brown
The greatest ability is availability
New Mount Zion Baptist Church