While I am still dealing with this physical pain as of writing, I know it has affected my patience and my mood. Depression is also something I’ve dealt with, and anxiety for years, but it’s never been debilitating to where I cannot function. Like many ministers, Mondays or Tuesdays are often very rough…you carry burdens for others and descend from the “mountaintop” of Sunday into the valley every week. You have the midnight phone calls and the struggles for friends, family, acquaintances and strangers going through difficulty. I have come to see this “spiritual depression” as a gift that keeps me close to the Lord, because worship, sunlight, exercise, diet, being in the Word, relational connection, being still, having some fun in life (which I’m not consistently good at, I just worked for years – By God’s grace, haven’t done that in this trial, though since sabbatical 4-5 months of counseling) and seeking to be in the will of God, all alleviate many of the symptoms. It is a burden, depression/anxiety and it has been a blessing for years to keep me humble.

The last 5+ weeks of physical pain, and even before that the high, high stress since Oct so and 4-5 months during sabbatical and an intensive several years of hard suffering, rejection and relational & professional turmoil, I’ve been a process where the Lord to shown me a lot about myself. And recently, during all this physical pain that I’ve dealt with, and it still affects my mood and my patience, God has used it…

because in the midst of it I said, I was not patient, I hurt the most important person in the world to me, and did not listen. And that precious person has been God’s greatest blessing and gift ever in my life in the midst of this season…,and still is. I have learned a lot of ugly things about myself, and also been humbled and received the grace of God in a way I never have before. I’ve had to forgive and rebuild relationships that I have withdrawn from and misinterpreted for years…. The problem mostly, I believe has been me…. Yet in this season, I’ve had an incredible community of Brothers in Christ and Family and a local church family and Christian acquaintances that surround me in the midst of all of this with prayer, support and even an extended network of prayer and counsel. Never had that before. Even “opponents” have set aside our disagreements and prayed for me and shown me grace….gentleness as surely broken my bones….

And yet, in the midst of this, I’ve had to depend on the Lord in prayer, like I never have before, as my Father and me as his child (I have lived as a slave, not a son of God for years, and viewed myself as a man of God, rather than a child of God). I have had to do spiritual warfare like I never have before.

I’ve learned a lot about my pride….because I am very analytical and can process things very quickly, and without a filter that really can hurt the people around me. And it can get me in trouble because I interpreted my pain and symptoms I don’t wanna describe as 1 Corinthians 7 burning. I’ve trusted a lot in my own brain power, and intellect, and ability to understand, and willingness to sacrifice anything and everything rather than love.

The other day I was convicted:
I can be eloquent with my tongue…but be a clanging cymbal
I can be prophetic in understanding – with insight into mysteries and knowledge…
I can have incredible and bold Faith…but without love I am nothing
I can be willing to sacrifice anything and everything and even be a martyr but if I don’t have Christ love, there’s no profit for me personally

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭1‬-‭3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Real love, suffer as long, and this kind, it is not focus on itself, and it’s not rude, it’s not quickly provoked and rejoices in the truth. Bears everything, believes through everything, hopes through everything and endures.

The prophetic will fail… My understanding/perception is fallible
Tongues will cease… My eloquence and gifting is not enough
Knowledge will vanish… My intellect can’t save me or protect my heart
Everything we have in this life we have partially, “in part”
…. It is time for me to put away, childish Ness, and embrace, maturity, to be a man of God the right way, A man with a heart for God…

Faith, hope, love abide, but the greatest of these is Christs love in us… without His love in us, nothing matters, no accomplishment or victory

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭4‬-‭13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

There are many good things to do in ministry that can become enemy of the “God things” that are God’s will, for us to do, and God’s will is not always super clear, we can run ahead of Him. There are so many memes out there, and if we live to meet the needs of people, we’re not doing ministry the way Jesus did. Because he only did the Father’s will and there were many people in need that Jesus never made it to, but the ones the That his father led him to….and we’re in His will to minister to, He had a tremendous impact on. And as Jesus is, so, are we to walk in this world

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John‬ ‭4‬:‭17‬-‭19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I am culpable for all my actions, choices, and words in the midst of all of this. But I’ve learned that God‘s grace is so much greater.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John‬ ‭1‬:‭9‬-‭10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭1‬, ‭3‬-‭4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In the midst of all of this, and all the prayer, the Lord is giving me a boldness, and Hope and I’ve never had, and Faith. I hope “my” love has changed as well. And through it all my compassion for others, and I believe even my ability to pastor has completely changed, my transparency about the struggles in my frequent and necessary repentance before my church family has brought about incredible opportunities for ministry to others locally and abroad. I truly do believe this is a new season and a new chapter of life and ministry. … end it is certainly all by God’s grace, not my own effort. And those two, life & ministry, are so intertwined for me being a single guy who has spent almost half my life (since age 14-15) with a call I many times did not want (in Jeremiah fashion). With suffering, burns and hurts that I would rather not have experienced. And while I know that there is a daily walk, and I can receive daily Grace, I suspect that I am coming out of a very long valley and learning that it’s OK to take care of myself I don’t have to give give give for everybody else 24/7. It is not sinful to actually care for myself, and to slow down, and do things God‘s way rather than in my own strength. …. rather life in the spirit, strength is such a better life. …and it pleases The Lord. He makes beauty out of our brokenness. I need to focus on something very basic: my own walk with Jesus in my own life before Him above all else. One priority…and everything else is meant to flow from that. A lot of things have changed especially, the last several weeks, and I don’t know exactly what the Lord is doing in all that, but it’s in God’s hands.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119‬:‭71‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning
“For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.” Psalms‬ ‭30‬:‭5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In my weakness, Christ is strong
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12‬:‭9‬-‭10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Matthew 11:28-30 has probably become a new life verse
“COME to Me, ALL YOU who labor and are HEAVY laden, and I will GIVE you REST.
TAKE My YOKE upon you and LEARN from Me, for I am GENTLE and lowly in HEART, and you WILL FIND REST for your SOULS.
For My yoke is easy and
My burden is light.”” Matthew‬ ‭11‬:‭28‬-‭30‬ ‭NKJV‬‬, emphasis added

And I have returned to Matthew 6:33 the core verse of my life
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭33‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

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