Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Who needs an encouraging word right now? I know I do. Last week was one of clean up. I took some days off and began to clean my home office. One day in March it became my home office, my church office and a recording studio. Piles of things were added, and nothing was removed. I had boxes of files, worship service cd’s, recording and duplicating equipment and more crammed into the little room.
We started (again) the process of going through books and parting with the ones we should part with. And we had the ups and downs everyone faces in this time.
It was not a vacation of relaxation and respite, rather time away from the daily to clean up and prepare for more.
But then, I received a text from someone I have not heard from in a while, with a word of encouragement. It was nice to get this. Especially last week, when I needed a good word.
Do you need an encouraging word?
Has God placed the name of someone on your heart that might need an encouraging word?
The two go hand in hand, for if we are all listening for the Holy Spirit, we will hear the names we should encourage. And if we follow the Spirit, we will encourage each other.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…
Our Presbytery has graciously hosted a weekly Zoom meeting for clergy to check in, talk about our situations and support each other. I’ve participated in this almost every week since mid-March.
And here is my biggest take-away from these calls: The Pastors (including me) are hurting. Not having in-person worship hurts.
The conflicting information we get from the various sources is frustrating and makes decision making difficult. And that hurts.
The “Sink or Swim Learning Method” of creating meaningful online worship has brought about a number of struggles and that hurts.
For those congregations who have resumed in-person worship, the various restrictions (no contact, no singing, no greeting, sitting apart, wearing masks, limiting doors, bathrooms and the rest) is depressing.
Personally, I know clergy who are struggling with sick parents, sick children, financial concerns and family struggles. Just like everyone else.
Everyone faces different conflicts on a regular basis, and each of us have difficulties due to this ongoing situation. And that goes for Pastors as well.
If you would be so kind, please pray for Pastors. And know we are praying for you.
Last week I wrote about my confusion and complete exhaustion over the various situations we are facing. And many of you commented on feeling the same way. This week I want to spend more time in a different direction. While more planning to reopen needs to happen, more dissemination of information is necessary, I want to get away from a lot of the various commentary. Instead, I need to focus on some positive things in my life.
Paul said in Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
This is my goal for this week, to give more focus on what God has done and is doing in my life; to focus more on the blessings, more on the positive than the negative.
Sunday evening, before the storms, my family went on a creek walk. We do this often, we go to a local creek, get in and explore. It was time with family, a respite from the heat, and a great example of multiple blessings from God. Afterwards, we had dinner and watched a musical. We had plenty of food and were able to partake in the gift of music – more blessings.
While I have plenty of things to agonize about, while there are still lots of things to deal with, I definitely need to shift my focus to the blessings. Join me in this. Let us together pray in thanksgiving for our blessings, focus on the lovely and admirable, the excellent and praiseworthy. And in doing that, God will provide the rest of the answers.
I am tired. I am completely exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. And many others are as well.
This ongoing pandemic is creating a lot of stress and anxiety in people.
The ongoing battle over who’s truth is actually truth regarding Covid is exhausting. One doctor says one thing, another says something else, and a whole lot of people with absolutely no training in medicine or infectious diseases seem to sway a lot of opinions, especially on social media.
Add to that the continuing civil unrest in our nation and an upcoming election that will bring about more negativity.
It is getting hard to even know what to pray for these days. Do we pray for a vaccine? Do we pray that the virus just “goes away”? Do we just pray for everyone to just get along? How do we even pray for this situation?
Sometimes we just go to God in silence and let God guide us.
26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
28We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.
There are prayer times when we need to be bold in asking, and there are times when we need to allow God to tell us what to pray for – so that our hearts and minds can be in God’s direction.
This is one of those times.
You might think things are not as bad as reports indicate. You might think things are worse than reported. You might be genuinely confused and concerned (like me). We may not agree on any of today’s crisis topics but we can agree on one thing. We need to pray. And instead of telling God what to do, we need to allow God to direct us.