Pastor, You Probably Need To Quit

Editor’s Note: The weekend can be an incredibly distressing time for many pastors to enter into. The desire to spend quality time with family while juggling the pressures of an unfinished sermon can be an exhausting reality. What many pastors need are not more tips on how to prepare better sermons as much as some encouragement to better prepare their hearts to preach the sermon they have. Join Ronnie Martin every Friday for The Preachers Corner, where he offers some words of comfort and stories of hope to help preachers enter the weekend encouraged by the gentle and lowly heart of Jesus. 

Not a great year for pastors. 

I don’t have stats, but it doesn’t take hard data for us to imagine the level at which pastoral job boards and search organizations have been bombarded this year with overwhelming inquiries from frazzled pastors looking to get out and get on to something new. If that’s you, let me begin by saying two things: 

It’s ok, friend. 

Jesus understands completely. 

So, here’s a word: Pastor, you probably need to quit. But before you quit your current ministry (and you might just need to do that, by the way), there might be some other things you should try quitting first. 

  1. Quit saying “I know the last year has been hard, BUT…”. It’s probably better to say, “The last year has been hard, period.” You are on the back end of a bitter year and it’s understandable that your desire is to stop the bleeding and move on to some healing. But don’t miss this unprecedented place that God has lovingly and sovereignly placed you in. I wonder what He’ll do? You should pause long enough to let yourself wonder that, too. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12). 
  1. Quit being so productive. I get it. There’s a mad scramble to get things back to the way things were. People have left, budgets have diminished, and the questions of what to do and where to go are nagging at you endlessly. But maybe instead of working so hard to get your church out of the valley it’s in, you should see if there’s something God wants you to notice that’s only visible when you’re in a valley. Don’t miss something glorious that God in His grace has slowed you down this last year to see. But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41,42).
  2. Quit being so hard on yourself. It’s a sad thing to have less compassion on yourself than Jesus does. When He looks at you, He sees His beloved. He sees His faithful undershepherd. He doesn’t expect you to accomplish what only He can accomplish. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust (Ps. 103:14). Allow yourself to be known and remembered by God in this complex moment of your pastoral life.
  3. Quit thinking you’re the only one. We can so easily slide into self-pity during seasons of exhaustion. We can forget that what we’re experiencing is not unusual for a pastor…or a Christian. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Pet. 4:12). It’s that irritable sense of surprise that can keep us disgruntled, and worse yet, disenchanted, which leads to cynicism. Pray that God would open you up to the plight of other pastors right now, because they may be thinking they’re the only ones.
  4. Quit looking at everybody else. Pastors are all over the map right now in how they’re processing Covid, getting Sunday gatherings back in place, and finding how to best serve their people as vaccination numbers increase and restrictions are being lifted. To begin comparing your pace and your methods with other churches in different contexts than yours is probably not a healthy direction for your mind. Who you are and where you are is unique, so look to God to do something uniquely merciful and compassionate in the context of your life, church, and community as the coming days unfold. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us (Ps. 123:2).

I could likely go on and on, but I wonder how your perspective might change if you took some time to reflect on these five points (so we’re clear, not those five points) and pray how God might help relieve you of some of the stress and anxiety they have brought upon you? It may be that God is using Covid to transition you to another ministry. It could also be that God is using Covid to tether you to the ministry you’re already in, but with much more depth of heart, renewal of mind, and restoration of soul.

Matt Capps on Transitioning Back To Pastoring

We asked Matt Capps, “Recently transitioning back into pastoral ministry, what do you feel prepared for this time around?”

Clamoring for Greatness: Confessions from Someone who Struggles with Insecurity and Pride

Luke 22:20–24: And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.

We read in horror as Jesus predicts his betrayal. Immediately, we see the disciples questioning whether they would be “the one” to carry out this egregious act. However, it seems their concerns are short-lived. Luke explains that, shortly after that, these same disciples get into an argument with one another. Yes, they are arguing with one another during their last meal with Jesus. The meal was a place of fellowship and acceptance. The meal was an important time in that culture, but this was no ordinary meal. This was a meal during the time of the Passover and their last meal with Jesus. So, what were they arguing about?

They were arguing about which of them was the greatest. They are clamoring for cultural class status. “Which of us is the most important? Which of us is the highest class and most worthy? Which of us deserves the best seat and most honor?”

Jesus has repeatedly told them that he is going to die as the suffering servant and that they too are called to a life of service (Matt 20:26–28; Mark 8:31, 34–36). Jesus has just discussed the fact that one of them is a betrayer (Luke 22:22). This betrayer abides in their midst and will act against them to try and sabotage the ministry of Christ. Furthermore, the other disciples are going to let it all happen. They are ignorant of the proximity of the enemy. They are ignorant of the urgency of the moment. They are ignorant of the magnitude of the threat. At the same time, they are consumed with self. They are consumed with status. They are consumed with a desire for superiority.

As I read the irony of their dispute, I’m sickened. I’m sickened by their blindness. I’m sickened by their lack of compassion for Jesus. I’m sickened by their lack of sensitivity to the moment. I’m sickened that they are missing important conversation with Christ in order to indulge in petty conversation with one another.

Yet, if I’m honest, I’m most sickened because I see “me” in the text. I see that, all too often, my heart longs for the promotion of self. I, all too often, allow the voice of my ego to drown out the voice of my Savior.

In reflecting on this dysfunctional display by the disciples, I’m brought face to face with my own broken and misaligned desires. To help me better think about my heart and my desires, to seek to bring every “thought” (and motive) captive to better obey Jesus (2 Cor 10:5), I’ve created this list of questions. I pray that you too will find them helpful.

  • Do I first listen with an attentive heart ready to learn for personal application when I’m in God’s Word or is my mind on how I can use this text to teach others?
  • Do I focus my mind on the text of Scripture when I’m studying or is my mind on my next task that might bring about my next accomplishment?
  • Do I primarily mine the Bible for personal truth to be consumed like honey or do I mine the Bible for sermons, blogs, and tweetable material?
  • Do I ever call to check up on someone simply because of the status that person holds and the future opportunities it might bring me?
  • Do I try to make myself look better than I am in front of others?
  • Do I think I’m better than others?
  • Do I think my ministry is more or less significant than someone else’s based on numeric and worldly standards?
  • Do I listen to other pastors or denominational leaders and feel the pull of envy or pride? Does my heart hunger for prominence and power?
  • Do I find myself feeling proud when another leader stumbles and morally falls?
  • Are my ministry goals focused more on worldly success than shepherding well and following the voice of Jesus daily?

I wonder, how often do I miss a moment with Jesus because my attention is so fixed on myself? I wonder how much of my effort is spent trying to convince others I’m significant? I’m sickened by the fact that my heart often longs for significance over service.

But, I’m also grateful that God is a redeeming and purifying God. While I may struggle with desires for self, I’m thankful that in Christ, I do not have to give in to those desires. I’m thankful that he is renewing me and maturing me. By the power of the Spirit of Christ in my life, I can resist these desires for prominence and choose to walk in humility (1 Cor 10:13; Gal 5:16). So, this list of questions is a check-up for me. It’s a way for me to examine my life and seek to submit my life more fully to the Lord. It is a way for me to fight in this life (1 Tim 6:11-12) while I await the full redemption my Savior will bring at the end of the age when he removes all insecurity and pride from me.

Links For The Church (4/26)

Sin Wants You to Itself

“The wedge sin drives between us and the local church usually entail two aspects, resentment and shame.”

How Hyperbole Dulls Our Spiritual Discernment

Thomas Schreiner provides a challenging word on avoiding hyperbole and being careful with our rhetoric.

Don’t Underestimate The Value of Rest

In this article, Daniel Seabaugh shares three ways to practice rest. He also provides the biblical reasoning for needing rest and why it is good for us.

Praying for the Weary Pastor

Lisa LaGeorge writes a prayer for pastors who are beaten down and tired, and she provides encouragement through this prayer as well.

Guarding Your Heart in the Pulpit

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned his followers not to practice spiritual devotion with ulterior motives (Matthew 6:1-18). Do not give to the needy to be celebrated for your generosity. Do not pray to be heard by men. Do not fast so people will consider you spiritual. How do you avoid practicing Godward acts with man-centered motives? Jesus teaches that acts of devotion should be done in private, before God, not man.

Preachers also struggle with the temptation to make their charge from God a performance before men. But we cannot overcome this temptation by moving the pulpit to our secret closets. Preaching is a public act of spiritual devotion. We may pray that God would hide us behind the cross as we preach. But there is no place to hide in the pulpit.

Let’s face it. The pulpit is a dangerous place. It can fill the preacher with pride that leads to his downfall. It can fill the preacher with discouragement that causes him to give up. It can fill the preacher with fear that prostitutes his divine message for human approval.

The old story is told about the young preacher who strutted to the pulpit, expecting to wow the congregation. He humbly walked out of the pulpit after the sermon bombed. “What happened?” he asked a senior minister. The wise, seasoned preacher counseled, “Son, if you would have gone up to the pulpit the way you came down, you would have been able to come down the way you went up.”

How can you guard your heart in the pulpit? Consider these given recommendations…

Come to the pulpit prayed up

Sermon preparation is an exercise in believing prayer. We should thank God for the privilege of speaking for him. We should pray for illumination of the revealed scriptures. We should ask God to yield the wisdom of the writers we consult to us. We should confess our sins to God when the text convicts us. We should pray for help to personally obey teachings of God’s word. We should pray the Lord would enable us to speak faithfully and clearly. We should pray for a spiritual burden for those who will hear the message. We should pray that Christ would be exalted as the word is explained. We should even pray as we preach! Coming to the pulpit prayed up will help guard your heart as you preach.

Come to the pulpit fully prepared

Sermon preparation is a humbling process. Studying the text can be like Jacob wrestling with the angel. You leave the study with a limp! Going from text to sermon is hard work. Preparing the message for Sunday will soften the heart, if done prayerfully. The finished product may cause some preachers to be lifted up. But when you know it was the Lord that helped you prepare the message, you tend to also look to the Lord to help you present the message. This is why you should do your own homework, rather than cheating off another preacher’s work. Take advantage of the sanctifying effects of sermon preparation. Then Ask the God who has guided the preparation of the message in the study to govern the presentation of the message in the pulpit.

Come to the pulpit as an act of worship

It is serious error to associate worship with music. The entire service is worship. The gathered congregation is to worship God during scripture readings, corporate prayer, and the observance of the ordinances. Listening to and responding to the preached word of God is arguably the highest act of worship. The congregation is to worship as the preacher preaches. And the preacher is to worship as he preaches to the congregation. We preach to people. But, ultimately, what is for people is not about people. God is the subject and object of Christian worship. It is for him and about him. So we should preach to an audience of one. We should remember that bottom-line of worship is that God is pleased. Paul instructs, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Come to the pulpit with pastoral concern

Pastor-Teachers are not life coaches, motivational speakers, or self-help gurus. We are shepherds who feed the flock of God with knowledge and understanding. Matthew reports, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:35-36). Jesus was moved with compassion with he saw the spiritual needs of the people. We should come to the pulpit with the same sense of pastoral concern. Don’t worry about how big the room is. Don’t worry about how many people are in the room. Don’t worry about what the people in the room can do for or to you. Be a shepherd the assembled flock of sheep that leads them to the green pastures of the word of God.

Come to the pulpit with an eye on eternity.

I agree with Charles Spurgeon, who said, “Life and death and eternity and worlds unknown may hang on the preaching and hearing of one sermon.” As a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, you should come to the pulpit with great expectations. The word of God works. But it does not work according to our schedule. This is why Paul charged Timothy to preach the word with “complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). So don’t panic if nothing seems to happen as you preach. Just keep preaching. The harvest is at the end of the age, not the end of the sermon. Guard your heart by looking past what the members when say to you after service and look to what Lord will say when you stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Editor’s Note: This originally published at

How to Respond to National Tragedies

I remember where I was on 9/11. I can still see the room, the people, the old-school television, hear people gasping in shock, and feel the emotions coursing through my body. 

Since then, the bad news hasn’t stopped. Just in the past year, we’ve beheld events of senseless murders, riots, and a Capitol insurgence. 

With media that’s bent toward sharing bad news, it’s no surprise that people grow weary and overwhelmed — swinging from outraged activism to overt avoidance. And sometimes, we have no clue how to respond in healthy ways. 

Sadly, devastating news is nothing new.

Nehemiah asks some travelers about the exiles in Jerusalem, and “they said to [him], ‘The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire'” (Nehemiah 1:3).

In the Old Testament, Israel was no stranger to bad news — from slavery to Jerusalem’s destruction to the exile from the promised land. Here in Nehemiah, we glimpse, like a fly on the wall, how a single Israelite processes a tragedy. 

Nehemiah’s six-fold response coaches us in how to respond to devastating national news.  

Step 1 – Lament

“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days…” – Nehemiah 1:4

Compassion fatigue catches up to all of us when negative news inundates us. We might conclude that becoming a digital hermit who disconnects from all information is a viable option. 

However, I wonder how many of us are exhausted from the onslaught of bad news because we never fully lament.

Expressing grief is the only legitimate way to digest some tragedies. 

Step 2 – Fast and Pray

“… and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” – Nehemiah 1:4

Fasting denies certain comforts to remind us of our dependence on God. 

It’s helpful for us to pair fasting with lamenting because we often cope with pain through consumerism in our already overstuffed world.

The hunger pangs of fasting remind us that there’s a time to mourn and weep (Ecclesiastes 3:4). We need this reminder because we’d rather dance our days away with ever-increasing happiness. However, some days require grieving, and fasting can help us respond appropriately.

Step 3 – Confess Corporate and Personal Sin

Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.” – Nehemiah 1:6

Nehemiah bravely does what we’re often scared to do. He asks, “What part have we as a people and I contributed to this disaster?” 

When discussing injustice, we can place the blame entirely on society or individuals. Nehemiah teaches us it can be both.

We all must learn to take responsibility for what’s ours to carry, knowing that God’s perfect love casts away any fear of eternal punishment (1 John 4:17-18).

While every bit of news doesn’t connect to us personally, we are all interconnected as citizens. Are we brave enough to ask the Spirit of God to search us as a nation and individuals to see if there’s “any grievous way” in us (Psalm 139:23-24)?

Step 4 – Pray God’s Promises Back to Him

“Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses…” – Nehemiah 1:8

In remembering who God is, we can pray with boldness, asking God to act.

And God’s past faithfulness grants us hope that He will be faithful both now and in the future. 

When we don’t know what to pray, let’s pray God’s Promises.

Step 5 – Pray for Favor To Act

“O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant… and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” – Nehemiah 1:11

Nehemiah doesn’t stop with prayer. He asks God for the favor to do something and for God to bless his efforts. 

Negative national news may cause us to feel powerless. However, I bet we’d be surprised by the number of opportunities the Holy Spirit would open if we only asked (Matthew 7:7-11).

Step 6 – Do What You Can

“Then the king said to me, ‘What are you requesting?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.'” – Nehemiah 2:4-5

God positioned Nehemiah to use Him. God sovereignly places you where you are too. 

Let’s faithfully take the next step available to us and trust God along the way (Galatians 6:10). 

Good News People Living in a Bad News World.

It’s natural for the brokenness of our world to overwhelm us. However, let’s not forget that we’re good news people living in a bad-news world.  

Nehemiah shows us a way to navigate tragedies, yet Jesus ultimately liberates us through the tragedy of His death. 

No matter what news you hear today, I’d encourage you to remember “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Links For The Church (4/19)

Ministry, Personal Limits, and Saying “No”

Ed Welch provides diagnostic questions to provide healthy boundaries for your ministry.

God Has Not Forgotten You

In this article, Vaneetha Rendall Risner shares three truths to remember about God and His faithfulness to you.

The Gift of True Words

“We don’t say what we know and feel and appreciate often enough. We assume things are understood, and we underestimate the impact of our words.”

The Perseverance of the Father’s Heart

We may, at times, forget our love of God and try to turn away from Him, but His love never leaves us, and it will not.

There Will Most Assuredly Come A Morning

A year ago, we gathered in a cemetery chapel next to a coffin that seemed too small to be real. That beast Cancer had taken another. This time, little Finn.

Through tears and a shaky voice, I offered the words God gave me as best I could. Moments later, I watched parents bury their earthly dreams for their boy. The dirt piled on. They said their goodbyes. But how does a parent bid goodbye to their three-year-old son? How do they go on, parenting their other two boys when the one missing pulls their heart underground with them?

I don’t know. But God knows. And in moments like that, that’s the greatest hope we have.

Last week, on the anniversary of Finn’s death, we gathered to remember. We grieved together as those in Christ grieve—truly but with all the hope Jesus gives. There is a day coming when death shall be no more. We believe that. We look forward to it. Today, though, isn’t that day. So we cry with aching hearts. But we won’t bury our hope. How could we? Our hope rose from the grave.

For two and a half years, the fight for a cure was in full force. Then, suddenly, one day it was over. For a year and a half, all Finn’s parents had each night as they tucked their boy into bed was that morning would come bearing new mercies. Perhaps one day, they hoped, the mercy of a cure would come knocking on their door.

But that cure never came. Instead, the tumors grew larger and faster, making their home in a place they didn’t belong. The medical landscape dried up. Time ran out. One final morning, it was all over.

I remember the moment I saw the text message come in. As I looked at the words there in black and white, I grieved. I knew this was coming. We all did. But it hurt. It felt surprising. Death always leaves you longing for just one more something—one more visit, one more hello, one more goodbye, one more hug, one more look, one more smile, one more anything. Among the many things death steals is the normal things of life that you don’t even notice until you can’t have it again. Those are the things that really hurt. The toys sitting on the living room couch. The label that prints his name for Sunday School at church. The things of life that just happen until they suddenly don’t. Those are the things that hurt so much more than we expect.

Days after his death, we showed up to a church in town to mourn together and to celebrate a life too short but oh so meaningful. We wore our avocado pins because they were Finn’s favorite food. We told stories and gave hugs and we worshiped God because that’s what you do when you have no other answers. You lift your praise to the one who knows what it’s like to lose a son. And you put your hope in that Son’s resurrection.

During the service, there was a slide show of Finn’s life. Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road served as the soundtrack for the first part.

We’ve buried dreams,

Laid them deep into the earth behind us

Said our goodbyes

At the grave but everything reminds us

God knows we ache,

When He asks us to go on

How do we go on?

How does a family go on? I didn’t know. So I looked to the one who was trying to—to Finn’s dad. And he gave me hope. On this anniversary of Finn’s burial, I know no better words than Dan’s, which I have included below.

Every night before bed, we had the same routine. We’d get a glass of water, and say our prayers. Sometimes we would pray but there were times when he would pop up and say, “I want to pray.” So he would pray. He’d say the usual prayers and when he was done praying, he’d look at us, and hold his arms out and say, “Hug and kiss.”

So we’d tuck him in, snuggling with his lion blanket. We’d pull his blanket over him, and he would give us just the sweetest and gentlest hug and kiss you can imagine. And every night without fail, he would finish by saying in the cutest little voice, “See you in the morning.”

Finn is profoundly missed. Where once there was a loving and joyful presence in our lives, there is now a gaping, jagged raw hole. The loss of Finn is so real, so physical, so emotional, and it is so life-dominating that it is hard to think of anything beyond our present moment of sorrow. And as we cry out to God in our sorrow and our anger, it’s hard to see any hope in any of this. And yet in the midst of this bitter grief, the Bible does still give us hope. Psalm 30 says that weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning. It teaches us that because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the things that are will not always be. There is a hope for those in Christ Jesus, and a glorious future to look forward to. The apostle Paul spoke of this and he said it makes our current suffering seem light and momentary in comparison.

What is will not always be. We may be deep in the night now, but there will most assuredly come a morning. And with that morning will come great joy.

For now we mourn. But we cling to the hope that we will see Finn again. We will see him without tubes, without bags, and without the ravages of cancer. We will laugh and we will run. And we will probably eat avocados.

Finn, we will see you in the morning.

This is the hope of Advent lived in between the death we experience and the life promised. As Fleming Rutledge says, “The disappointment, brokenness, suffering, and pain that characterize life in this present world is held in dynamic tension with the promise of future glory that is yet to come. In that Advent tension, the church lives its life.”

Only the church has this hope. The promise of future glory is yet to come. A light will shine in the darkness. So we go on, as Ellie Holcomb sings, because in Christ, by the power of his gospel, we can sing this good song of gospel hope to our souls.

Where He leads us to go, there’s a red sea road

When we can’t see the way, He will part he waves

And we’ll never walk alone down a red sea road

Why? Because God is always there. Even in the midst of the deepest sorrow. He was there when Finn took his final breath. He was there a year ago when we laid him in the ground. He was there last week when we gathered to remember. And he will be there every moment of every hour of every day because he is a faithful God.

On a day like today, as I remember the pain of last year, and as Finn’s parents weep and remember, there is a God above who is faithful, who is bringing a morning so bright that all this pain will certainly be in comparison light and momentary. And all those little things we miss today he will restore. In our mourning, in Christ, we can know that there will most assuredly come a morning. The years that the locusts have taken will be ours again, and no one will snatch them from our resurrected hands.

Editor’s Note: This originally published at Things of the Sort.

Pain Our Teacher

Pain is a prominent and protruding feature of a global pandemic. So many folks have experienced pain in new ways. The pain of death, the pain of loneliness, the pain of individuals, families, and nations have all been extremely visible. Is there a purpose to the pain? How can God be working all things for the good of those who love him even in the pain? I think a lot of us are wrestling with these questions. I know I am. 

Growing up in a family with several physicians pain was not a distant thought. I remember seeing many wince as my father assessed their physical condition. In these moments pain was proven to be valuable. Pain revealed a need for healing. Without pain, we would not know we are in need of help. Without pain, we would not know there was a need for a physician in the first place. Internal bleeding, broken bones, and decaying joints would doom us to death far faster without pain’s revelations. 

In my wrestlings regarding the pain of this world, I have begun to learn to turn to the Great Physician to see how He is using this pain to shape, heal, and refine me to his image. In this poem, you will see portions of my doubts, prayers, and findings as I have sought the Lord. I pray this poem will help you process the pain too. Pain has a purpose. 

Seared emotions.
Cauterize the feeling to stop the bleeding.
They said that killing the pain will lead to healing,
But that simply is not true.

Pain is a sign of life.
You can’t ask for surgery and avoid the knife.
A numb limb is doomed to be broken
Even still unaware of this token.
To lose the feeling of pain is to lose feeling altogether.
The same nerve that stings captures the softness of feather.

There are itching ears here demanding a scratch,
And poisonous myths just waiting to hatch.
The birth of a song, it is sweet. It is seduction.
A descant from demon by device of destruction.
Distraction is this salve— impermanent and lethal
Coaxing the mind, undying and deceitful.

Yes, the buzz in the pocket is like that of the bottle,
Except one is regulated, and one runs full throttle.
For you need not be convinced to give your life all to evil.
You only need be pulled away to throw your life in upheaval.
Removal from reality is enough to convince
That peace cannot come from the presence of the Prince.

Instead we buy the lie that leads to death;
Sold a toxin of diversion as addictive as meth
Simply because it kills the pain.
But pain is a sign of life.
And the alternate reality is a barbed and bloody knife
With a shrouded slash of fraudulent facts.
Because the lie hurts less you can ignore your tracts.

But how long will that last you? How long can you avoid what’s true?
That anesthesia will wear off, or you will be dead and through.
Ruined by your fight to avoid everything that bruises
You may be the one who misses out or loses,
Unknowingly doomed to an eternal fire,
A pain irremovable no matter your desire.

So, what is the value of pain here and now?
Is it not just a portrait of eternity’s brow?
No, the Prince says there is hope in the secondary coming.
This the tune of the church which the saints have been humming.

As they look to that day the pain increases the yearning,
While all creation is groaning and aching and burning 
For the skies to be split and their eyes to be learning
The face of their Savior in the clouds there returning. 

The pain also purifies in the heat of its fire
Removing all the dross of erroneous desire.
It floats to the surface unveiling the heart.
Thus refining the faith that doubt may depart. 

Purification is preparation for an eternal weight of glory.
The pain it will cleanse and renew your whole story.
The weight of the agony does not compare to the impending. 
It’s a momentary affliction juxtaposed to His ascending.

The risen Lord means confidence in the inheritance that is looming
For the saints of His bride to hold a bouquet that is blooming
With recreation and beauty by a glassy sea of his grace
At the marriage banquet they will finally get their long awaited embrace. 

Without a trace of their sin.
Without a face carrying tears again. 
Without a race wearying the years of men. 
This is the place of marrying their greatest friend.

So yes, the growing pain is worth the gain through this season.
The stretching soreness is a tool for a reason. 
Pain points us to better things and it draws us to a Savior. 
Pain teaches us dependency thus shaping our behavior.

The potter has his clay, which he beats down to build up.
Only then can the vase be a living water filled cup.
Pain has a purpose, so in the aches do not wander, 
For with Christ in every tribulation we will more than conquer.

God Doesn’t Need You

He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17

Paul on Mars Hill in Athens proclaimed the entire self-sufficiency of God.

We are his body, it is true, which is the fullness or completion of the Head. He uses us. But he needs nothing from us. Let that sink in. We do not add to him in any way, but rather, he gives us our “life, our breath and everything else.”

He does not need my service to him. I do serve him, but he does not need it because he is the source of everything I have. He started out before my birth with everything that I could give him.

My money is not needed.

My time is not needed.

My intellect is not needed.

My skills are not needed.

My efforts are not needed.

My devotion is not needed.

My wisdom is not needed.

My personality is not needed.

My sincerity is not needed.

My LIFE is not needed.

Though he has the right over all of that and everything else, they are not needed. He gave them to me in the first place. I can add nothing to him that he does not already possess.

I do not make him stronger, bigger, wiser, or more loving, kind or just.

You may think that you have a lot to offer God. Perhaps you have years of experience or a tender heart or an intriguing story, or a sharp mind or a quick tongue, or an easy way about you that people like. God needs people like you, right? Not so. He may use you, but he does not need you. He gave you whatever you think is so special in the first place. He can produce a lot of “me” whenever he wishes.

In fact, you could have a heart attack today, and God would not be diminished one tiny bit. Others may miss you and feel the loss, but God is able to raise up more like you if he wishes. And, he can make even better ones than you if he wants to. After all, he gives breath. He can take it away. He will not even miss you because he has given you life with him forever if you are a Christian. He suffers no loss by your death.

No, we serve him not because he needs us to, but because he has given us everything we have. This is the reason that God demands that we give allegiance to him. Repenting and believing in Christ is not an option, but a requirement from the one who gave you the breath to say, “I believe.” It’s due him. He made you. He’s not begging; he’s demanding. Paul went on to say, “he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

But he is also kind and loving. He is as gracious as he is just. It is a privilege to serve him. But he still does not need you. If you get to serve him, you are blessed beyond imagination.

I’m of the opinion that truly understanding the self-sufficiency of God will cause us to want to serve him forever.

Editor’s Note: This originally published at Christian Communicators Worldwide