2020 started fast and furious with one crisis following another. Devastating fires throughout Australia. A series of earthquakes in Puerto Rico. Potential war with Iran. Continuing Impeachment drama in our country. The United Methodist Church I love and serve is likely splitting into two denominations over LGBTQ+ issues. In addition, my community and people in the churches I serve experienced serious illness, emotional difficulties and heartache. It’s enough to ruin anyone’s attitude.
In 1971, I had a lot in common with a little roadside stand, Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Cue. We were both just beginning, and our future success depended upon so many factors. Looking back, I realize the reason we are both still around is because of the support we received along the way. Now, I encourage youth to become a visible part of our worship services. I pray they will receive the same sort of encouragement that changed my life.
My pastoral dignity was completely forgotten as the curses began to flow. Fortunately, we lived in an isolated area and only one person heard me! Unfortunately, that one person was my daughter and I was about to learn a hard lesson.
Amidst “Praise the Lord Anyhow!” stickers and four-leaf clovers, Lucy sensed she was leaving behind a legacy for her sons to follow within the pages of this Bible. She wrote: “My children are my life. I love each one as I do the other. I would give my life for them and my grandchildren. God knows I love every one of them. I would give all my treasure to the God who made it all possible.”
“Does God really ‘call’ us? Can we “call” on God?”
Yes, of course, but don’t take my word for it. If you do a word search in the Bible you will find that the word, “call” or “called” or “calling” appears in the Bible over 700 times. Here are a few examples:
A pastor wrote: “What if you knew that by simply offering encouragement to someone, you could change that person forever? Nothing to do with methods and everything to do with taking a genuine interest in someone.” God often provides opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life. The question is not – “will you make a difference?” The question is – “what kind of difference will you make: positive, negative or no impact at all?” The opportunity is already there. What will you do?
Every day, you and I receive opportunities from God to help someone. Our light shines when we seize the opportunity to witness our faith by reaching out and getting involved. There is nothing dramatic about these day-to-day encounters but collectively they emphatically tell the world what kind of Christians we really are.
Looking for words of encouragement, I typed the word “comfort” in a Bible program on my computer. In seconds, there were over 60 verses. I clicked print and received five pages of comforting scripture. At a Bible study, I handed each person a copy and asked them to pick a favorite verse and tell how they received comfort in the midst of crisis.
If the disciples had not listened to the voice urging them against all common sense to throw the net on the other side of the boat, they would have missed the excitement of witnessing a miracle. If I had given into my fear and ignored my Dad’s encouragement to jump, I would have missed the adventure and thrill of diving.
Despair following success can impact anyone: entertainers, athletes, preachers and teachers. A surge of success followed by a period of despondency and anguish. Why? It doesn’t make sense… or does it. Are successes always followed by bouts of despair? Of course not, yet it happens frequently enough to ask questions and seek guidance.