By Kristin Couch
Go ahead. Turn off the computer, the feeds, subscriptions, Facebook, smart phones, texts, and Twitter. Even those "Christian" blogs and websites. Be still. Sit still. Open your Bible and feast upon a verse, a Psalm, a gospel.
There is a restlessness about our nation, our churches; myself. When I veer slightly off that narrow path I feel the discontent creeping into the corners of my heart. It might be slight at first but it is a beast that growls and demands to be fed. Don't feed it; starve and stifle it with the Word of God.
Believer and truster of Christ: imposters abound. The father of lies will whisper that the Bible alone is not enough; the gospel is not enough; Christ's death and resurrection for his children are not enough.
Be encouraged beloved of God: Christ is enough! Trust Him; love him; turn away from any teaching that is not gospel-centered. The Holy Scriptures are God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and inerrant. Meditating upon Scripture will breathe peace to your soul.
It doesn't matter what is swirling around us culturally. There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). God's truth is steadfast and unchanging. Preach this to yourself as you pray throughout the day. Love people and share Jesus with them; love God most.
"Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter." ~ Charles Spurgeon
"Stay In The Trench And Do Not Flinch"
By Jon Couch
It has been said that pastoring is not a job, it’s a calling – and I could not agree more. One man once said, “If you think that you are called to pastor, but you also think you may desire to do something else, go do the something else.” Why the directness? Because if you are not truly called by God to pastor, as the pressures mount, you will gladly take any exit ramp possible to alleviate and eradicate the pain. So for those who are truly called by God to this noble, yet servant leadership (John 13) role of pastoring, how do we press on, day in and day out, in the midst of the struggle? The following are 7 keys from God’s Word that I pray will encourage you, embolden you, and stiffen your spine as you valiantly soldier on in obedience to the LORD:
1) Remind yourself daily Who called you. The old phrase rings true: “If God brought you to it, He will see you through it.” God doesn’t make mistakes and He has a plan for His glory and your good, yes even in the midst of the challenges and pain that you are facing today. The apostle Paul proves how powerful the call of God is when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” Regardless of what others say about you, remember Who called you.
2) Remind yourself daily to have calloused knees: The preacher’s power is not from standing in the pulpit, but by helplessly falling on his knees in his prayer closet. Contrary to the world’s thinking, our power is not from ourselves, but when we are on our knees it is of God. If we are not seeking the face of God in all things, we have failed before we have even started. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-7
3) Remind yourself daily to wash yourself in The Word: If we are not anchored to the Voice of Truth, we will anchor ourselves to the other voices that are jockeying for our allegiance. Therefore, it is crucial that we daily mine the Scriptures, bind the truth around our necks, write God’s wisdom on the tablet of our hearts, and hide His Word deep within the wellspring of our soul. As Psalm 1:1-3 tells us, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” Daily bathe in God’s Word and your roots will become deep in the LORD, allowing you to withstand the storms of life.
4) Remind yourself daily to stay Gospel focused: In the midst of the battle, it is relatively easy to completely lose sight of what we are fighting for. The war is not about physical life, but everlasting life. When this mission is constantly top-of-mind, we are more apt to press through the dry seasons of ministry as we rely through desperate dependence upon God to carry us each step of the way. Because the Gospel is potent beyond human thinking, we must cling to Paul’s words in Romans 1:16 when he declared with confidence and fervency, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
5) Remind yourself daily that suffering for the Gospel is inevitable: Jesus did not mince words when he warned us in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The key here is that we would recalibrate our hearts and minds to be in Christ (in Me Jesus says) for peace in the midst of the suffering. And yet, as we rest in Christ during the challenges, we must also remind ourselves the cut-to-the-chase promise that Paul gave to young Timothy when he said in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
6) Remind yourself daily that the battle is spiritual: Satan desires for us to be deceived into thinking that we are wrestling against flesh and blood. Why? Because if we are focused on overcoming flesh and blood, we are focused on the wrong enemy as the real enemy will seek, steal, and destroy us. Paul poured this deep truth into the Ephesians 6:10-12 when he said, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Keep your heart in-tune with the reality that Satan is not some little guy in a red suit, with a pitchfork, a goatee, and eyebrows gone wild. No, as the spiritual battle rages on, he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and he prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
7) Remind yourself daily that the battle belongs to The LORD: Praise be to God for this reality, because if it was up to us, we would be in big trouble. At the end of your day, no matter challenges we face, when we are in Christ and under His righteousness, we can and must rest in the soul-satisfying fact that the battle belongs to the LORD. You notice I said that we “should.” Of all the 7 keys to adhere, this is the one that I struggle with the most. Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver from this body of death (Romans 7:24)? God will! As we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), may God grant you His perfect peace in the midst of the struggle. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” - Psalm 20:7
Be encouraged in the battle pastor, and count it all joy when the enemy assaults you with his fiery darts of deception and slander (James 1:2-3). Don’t bend, don’t buckle, don’t break, and don’t waver regarding God’s call on your life. Keep your hand to the plow and don’t look back (Luke 9:62). Drive a stake in the ground today with great resolve that even if God doesn’t go your way, you are still going His way (Daniel 3:16-18). Contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3), and do not lose heart. Stay in the trench and do not flinch!
"Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." - 1 Thessalonians 5:11