What Defines You?

If you were to describe who you are to others, what words would you say? Nurse? Preacher? Mom or dad? Husband or wife? World record breaker? These would probably be words you would use to define yourself if had a more positive self-image.

How would define yourself if you had a negative self-image or a past you regret? Would you say that you’re a single mom? Divorced person? Used-to-be pastor? Formerly successful businessman?

For quite a while, I used to define myself as a divorced former pastor who once knew success in ministry. But then God reminded me that my identity is not in what I do or in past failures.

Since I gave my life to Jesus Christ, I am forgiven. I have a sure future. Divorce does not define me. My success or lack of success as a full-time minister does not define me. My current positions as a hospice chaplain and piano teacher (as much as I love them) do not define me.

My Lord gives me significance – so much significance that He gave His life to provide forgiveness for my sin. I am forever loved by Him! Nothing can separate me from that love!

He defines you too! When you enter a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you are a child of God! Your past is forgiven, your present has purpose, and your future is secure. Praise the Lord!

 

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Does Time Really Heal All Wounds?

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think about those who are hurting. This may be the first holiday without a dad, mom, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband or wife. For three of my hospice families, this absence was created just within the last week. When does the healing begin? How long does it last?

What about someone who was hurt deeply because of someone who sinned against him or her? Is there a 5-step formula to recover? Is it possible to forgive and forget?

The truth is that we never really forget. For any of us to advise someone to forget it is unrealistic. There will always be reminders – dates, pictures, and various memories. Those reminders still trigger feelings.

Earlier in ministry, I thought I had to have all the answers. Today, I can only point people to the Healer of the broken heart – the Lord Jesus Christ. Will He heal you in a year? Maybe. I can’t tell you a time frame, but I can tell you that when you draw closer to Him the process is a little easier. God has a way of comforting you and giving you peace that no one can understand. Once again, I can’t tell you when you will begin to feel that.

Whatever you do, don’t try to shortcut your grieving process. You will end up prolonging it. Because when you think you are “over it”, something reminds you and the cycle begins again. Don’t feel bad about your anger! Process it! If you’re sad, cry! If you need to talk to someone, find a professional or someone who knows what you’re going through. Do not, I repeat, do not try to convince yourself that you are okay. You can admit you’re weak. I know transparency and vulnerability are not popular but do it anyway.

Finally, remember that your road to healing is not the same as someone else. Don’t compare! No two circumstances are exactly alike, so allow you to be you rather than try to be someone you may admire who appears more together than you.

Ultimately, it is God who heals the wounds through His chosen process for you. When you are prepared, pass on that comfort to someone else. You just might find a friend who will laugh, cry, or scream with you when necessary. May these words be of help to someone today!

Thankful…for the Scars?

Two years ago tomorrow, this week was not a week of Thanksgiving. It is the anniversary of when I resigned the pastorate, knowing that my family was about to split and my career and location were uncertain. As most people would, they went on with their lives while the holidays were very painful to me. But it didn’t do any good to share my pain with others unless they knew what a failed marriage, a bad pastorate, and a combination of other things felt like.

Today is a different story. Have I forgotten what the aforementioned things felt like? No! Does the devil try to bring back the pain? Yes! But I type in full assurance that what the devil meant for a setback was a launching pad for a comeback.

I no longer have my children with me every day. Full-time ministry is most likely a memory of the past. But I bear scars that make me more compassionate. I will not sit in condemnation of someone who has been through a divorce. I will not look down upon a pastor who went through a bad experience. Today, I can honestly say I understand.

My ministry and life partner is a lady who knows similar scars and still loves Jesus. She is a woman of character and has supported me every step of the way. We are thankful for the scars because they have made us who we are today. We would not have chosen the journey, but we are thankful for the people God has touched through our stories of how He healed our broken lives. Are you broken? Allow Jesus to heal you!

Your Investment…Another’s Reward

Today is a day when we are led to believe that we will always reap the benefits of what we do. Historically, that  has occurred but is often inaccurate. Many have worked hard, only for someone else to reap the benefits.

The Bible records a great leader named Moses in the book of Exodus. He had the grueling task of leading the most ungrateful people, the Israelites (God’s chosen people), through the wilderness to the Promised Land. He ran into road block after road block. The sad part was that he died before the Israelites reached their destination. Joshua reaped the benefits.

Maybe you are reading this and have the idea that life is a bed of roses, but the songwriter said that every rose has its thorn. It’s okay if we do our part and never see the reward. It is not always our place to reap the blessing. The ultimate blessing is knowing that we have been obedient to the Lord. Expect road blocks, delays, and opposition. But rest assured that they are a part of the process. No one appreciates victory who did not have to fight for it.

Detours

I wrote about this subject seven years ago after experiencing a detour on the way back home to Georgia after several days of vacation. Since then, it has taken on more significance. I personally detest detours, especially in unfamiliar places. You know as well as I do that the GPS tries to get you back on the original road that you cannot travel due to an accident or construction.

Ponder this thought. Detours are often created because there is danger ahead or reconstruction. God uses detours to protect you from danger or reconstruct your life for a greater purpose.

For me, I was in full-time ministry and living in my comfort zone. Then separation and divorce hit my home. I did not have the strength to continue to minister to a congregation on a full-time level anymore. I didn’t like that reality, but I couldn’t ignore it. I went into part-time church ministry and became a hospice chaplain and piano teacher to make ends meet. I found that the three jobs, although the combined income didn’t come close to what I had before, brought a sense of fulfillment. God has given me a precious wife with two children since the divorce. Life is different, but God is reconstructing my life.

Are you in a season of your life that might seem less than ideal? He may be protecting you from harm or doing a new thing. Don’t miss it! It hurts for a little while. But hold on! God’s got this!

Wait a Minute…or Several!

Throughout Scripture, God commands His children to wait. But it’s the one thing we hate to do. This is a generation that wants what we want, and we want it yesterday. However, God has a bigger plan for us than just instant gratification. He knows that our character is not developed when everything is handed to us. It is built when we go through the difficult times. God has a way of giving us the test before He teaches the lesson.

As I step forward and obey God’s voice regarding future ministry, I wait with anticipation and trust. Is it scary? Yes! Is it uncomfortable? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes! What do I do while I wait? I continue to serve. My first ministry is to my family. I will not make a decision that will jeopardize them (lesson learned from the past). God instituted the family before He instituted the church. I continue to find great joy as I visit churches each week and worship with my Christian brothers and sisters across the area. I find great joy as I minister to hospice patients and families on a weekly basis. I’m also blessed to teach 7 piano students.

When it comes to the local church, I feel much like Abraham. God told him to leave where he was but gave him no further instruction. Jesus told His disciples to launch out into the deep and do something that made no sense to them. The end result was phenomenal in both cases. Babbie Mason sang it well when she sang, “when you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.” You’ll be glad you waited.

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