Devotion: Overcoming the Elijah Moments

Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. – 1Kings 19:3

Risky question, but ever have one of those “Elijah moments?”

Been discouraged, irritated, upset, even feel like quitting? Of course, as we read the text, Elijah’s solution was not the answer, yet many of us can sympathize with Elijah’s feeling of anguish. Unable to see God beyond the threats of a wicked woman and enduring great battle stress, this prophet wanted to find a way out, any way out, and desperately pleaded with God to take him then and there. 1 Kings 19:4 says, “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

What was God’s response? There, as Elijah fell asleep in his anguish and self-pity, while he slept soundly as he was emotionally, physically, and spiritually drained, he felt the touch of God. The touch from an angel would cause him to rise, to eat, and have enough divine strength to travel for forty days to Mt. Sinai to seek the Lord further.

It was eventually in a cave that the person of God met with the man of God. Speaking to him in a whisper, Elijah complained earnestly and passionately about his zealousness, his faithfulness, and also his problems. He essentially said to God, “I have served you and I’m the only one left among a godless group, and I feel so alone here!”

My friend, God never leaves His people alone. He will never leave you. He who has called you will perfect you until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). When you feel alone and discouraged, maybe it’s time not for an Elijah moment, but for some God moments. Let the touch of the Father strengthen you- seek His face in prayer and scriptural meditation. Stop looking around and look to the Lord who has called you. Stop wasting your time loathing about your circumstances and allow God to work out all things for His glory. Stop trying to work out the minute details and let God get you back on track.

The life of a Christian is never an easy one, but with the comfort, strength, and beauty of the love of God, this too shall pass. Be encouraged.

Pastor Fran

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Ten Things a Pastor Should Do: #3 Take one or two days off a week, and be sure to take vacations.

When I was younger and new in ministry, I used to brag to myself (and others) that I would work constantly without vacations, days off, or breaks. My goal then was that no one would outwork me in ministry- now I can see that this was such a fleshly, prideful mindset!

Truth is, ministry is hard work. The demands of ministry do not end at 5 pm and then begin again at 9 am. Often, the burdens of ministry are with you all of the time, hanging on your shoulders day and night, weekdays and weekends, during and outside of shadow walkingyour family “time.” There are late night phone calls, as well as emails, Facebook messages, text messages, and visits. The clock never stops for sermon and bible study preparations, and the constant dripping of the C.A.V.E. Dwellers can get on your nerves as well. There’s no surprise that statistics show the average tenure of a pastor to be three to four years. It’s true that there’s a high burn out rate in the ministry.

All that said, let me now be Captain Obvious for a minute: you can’t work all the time and not have time for rest. Rest is very important, even vital for the long term work of ministry. Rest is built into God’s creation, when He rested on the 7th day. Jesus often took time away from the crowds to rest and pray in quiet places (see Mark 6:30-31). We are likewise called to the Sabbath principle, a time of rest from life itself and to time with the Lord (Lev 23:3). Basically put, rest is important to God and it should be important to you.

So take that day off (or sometimes even two). Take that vacation with your family, even being willing to miss two Sundays in a row. Date your wife regularly. Break away from the cell phone, your witty Twitter posts, your snarky Facebook comments. Disconnect from the current routine and reconnect with God and your family. Remember that your relationships with God, your spouse, and your family are your prime importance and calling. After all, once you refresh yourself, you will be much more healthy and ready for the demands of your call to ministry. Now go rest!

Pastor Fran

Ten Things a Pastor Should Do: #2- Read God’s Word devotionally

When I was in seminary, I often heard the mantra, “Don’t just read the Bible for the purpose of studying, but instead, read it devotionally.” These words, which were seemingly repeated class after class, stuck into my heart and brain. Can’t say I followed this advice every day, because there have been times when I would inadvertently turn my devotion time into a study time- only to later realize what I had done!

That said, it is vital that a Christian take in the Word of God to speak to his or her heart. Pastors even more so. Reading the Word of God cuts through all the white noise that is around in the world today- the noise of pop culture, the noise of sinful pride, the noise of busyness, even the noise of ministry. When you read the Word devotionally, it is just God, His Word, and you. Devotional ReadingGod is speaking to you through words that flowed from His Spirit, living and active (Heb 4:12), cutting into your heart (Acts 2:37), piercing through your hard shell of your ego (Ps 11:4-5), and refining you as silver is refined in fire (Ps 66:10).

Time with God in the Word is time well spent. While schedules, appointments, meetings, and blocked off time for studying will always be on the calendar, setting aside time each day (even multiple times each day) will help a Christian go through the demands of life and ministry.

There are many examples of great preachers who were devoted to the Word of God. One example is John Wesley, the great preacher and theologian of the 18th century and founder of Methodism, who was certainly no stranger to busyness. In his Preface to Standard Sermons, Wesley wrote this wonderful statement concerning his dedication to the Word of God:

I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing,—the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. For this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri (a man of one book). Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In His presence I open, I read His book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights:—“Lord, is it not Thy word, ‘if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God?’ Thou givest liberally, and upbraidest not. Thou hast said, ‘if any be willing to do Thy will, he shall know.’ I am willing to do, let me know Thy will.

May it be an example to us all as we read God’s Word with hearts ready to be in tune with God and His Spirit. Set aside time to read, take it in, and let God speak to your heart as you seek to do His will.

Pastor Fran

Run Happy

Last night, I ran my first ever half marathon with my wife here in Disney World. Just at the start of the race at 10 pm, it began to sprinkle. The sprinkles turned into full out rain drops, and puddles began to form. What began with smiles and happy running (I had my usual Jack Johnson playing in my headphones), began to get a little less, eh,  happy. The temperature dropped. I stepped in puddles multiple times, soaking my shoes and socks. Yet, I pushed on.

My wife, Teresa, called me as I was running. Though an experienced runner, she was feeling the pain from the poor conditions and was cramping up. She had started in a corral ahead of me so as she slowed down, I began to catch up. Finally, around mile 9, I caught up with her and motivated her to finish the run. We crossed the finish line holding hands. We both got finishing medals, being soaked from head to toe and exhausted after running close to 1:30 am. However, we finished!

My point is this: don’t quit running the race. You might have a goal in life, work, family, etc., but don’t stop. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Remember who is really important in your life and run it together. Run with purity, endurance, and a focus on the eternal. Most of all, run this race with your eyes focused on Christ and His goodness, who ran ahead of you and is encouraging you e en today. Last, know that life is a marathon, not a sprint, so enjoy the run through life. Run hard, run fast, and run happy.

Pastor Fran