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Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul, devotionals to help you in your busy life, written by NEWIM board members and staff. 

Filtering by Tag: struggles in ministry

Listening Ears

Luann Budd

 "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualitiesHis eternal power and divine naturehave been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse." Romans 1

Maltbie Babcock, like many of us, would find that when he had had his fill of the problems and pettiness of ministry, he'd need a break. He'd walk past the church office and say to his assistant, "I'm going to be about my Father's world." His church was situated on a hill overlooking a valley, so he'd go outback to listen to the Lord.  

*   *   *

One January a storm came down from Alaska and cut across the San Francisco Bay making the morning bitterly cold, at least by California's standards. So I walked quickly, trying to hide inside the protection of my coat. I usually enjoy my early morning walks across campus, but this morning I was too cold.

There is a tree along my route, a favorite tree, easily a hundred feet tall and over a century old. As I walk to my office, the sidewalk turns so that I walk toward this tree for several minutes. Each morning as I approach my gnarled old friend, it speaks to me of its Maker. This morning, I was shocked to see that my tree had been disrobed, not one leaf was left on its silvery branches, yet still it stood, as always, though strangely bare and frosty. I reflected that Jesus, too, had been disrobed of His majesty, yet He continued to stand immovable against evil's bitter blast. Abandoned. Shamed. He disrobed Himself of omnipotence and glory and chose to hang on that other tree for me. I felt the chill of the wind and wondered what it would be like to stay outside all day, exposed. Jesus stayed six hours, exposed.

Lord, may we, too, stand immovableeven if stripped bear and beaten, even if bitterly cold and betrayed, even if clamored after and successful. We want to be like you, immovable, obedient, unshaken by storms or praise.

Pastor Babcock died at the age of 42, but before he died he wrote the words to a favorite hymn about how the Lord spoke to him on that hill behind his church. "This is my Father's worldThe birds their carols raiseThe morning light, the lily whiteDeclare their Maker's praise. This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair; In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere." As we go about our full days, whether stressed by the ministry or perplexed by the world, may we hear His voice and listen as He speak to us, everywhere.

Expectation

Kim Johnson

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
                                                                                                                         
—Jeremiah 33:3

In the midst of a difficult situation, we may find ourselves qualifying our hope in the Lord and begin to lower our expectations of exactly what He will do. While we believe He can do anything, we fear or question what He can do through us. Moses' situation is a good example of this kind of doubt. When God revealed how He would orchestrate the greatest exodus in the history of the world using Moses as the facilitator, Scripture tells us Moses—incredibly—argued with God. He made excuses. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe God could do the miraculous work but Moses doubted God could do it through him. Unfortunately, this ultimately limited Moses’ ministry for the rest of his life.

 Fear is human but it can keep us from experiencing God’s work in unexpected ways. While the context of the verse above in Jeremiah is about the Jews, we can also apply the importance of its implication to ease any doubts we may be feeling. Just “call to Him” and He will answer. No magic words or complicated process.  We can always expect Him to do what He says. 

When it comes to God’s objectives for our lives, fear has no place. We are not alone because God is with us. We are not inadequate because God is our sufficiency. We are not useless because God has a purpose for us. He is trustworthy. Believe and anticipate as you follow His leading. His grace will be sufficient, His strength will be generous, His provision will be perfect, His peace will be steadfast and His presence will be plenty.

  “Feed your fears and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your fears will.”
                                                                                                                                —Max Lucado

Love without Limits

Kim Johnson

“. . . and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing”
                                                                                    1 Corinthians 13:2b (NIV).

Many years ago, a friend and I took a day trip to Beverly Hills. Famous for its lavish boutiques and wealthy residents, we just wanted to have a nice lunch and do some window shopping. As we made our way along one particular street, we couldn’t resist stepping into a women’s clothing store that looked inviting. As we browsed, I noticed the sales person greet a gal who was just entering. She whisked her to a brunch table full of goodies and then immediately took her to the fitting room. At first I didn’t think too much about it. There were absolutely no price tags on anything so I was confident nothing was in my price range. But after the same scenario a couple more times, I realized the sales people had not even said hello when my friend and I walked in. To be honest, the fact we were ignored still makes me smile even now. Since then however, that experience has gotten a lot of mileage in my life from the Holy Spirit.

Being in leadership can sometimes create a cocoon for us. With our team and/or our friends securely around us, it is not difficult to become insulated. Whether or not it is on purpose, we may ignore someone who is new or who appears to fit somewhere outside our comfy bubble. At times I’ve not been immune to this. Not my finest hour, but one which the Holy Spirit makes sure doesn’t go unnoticed. The memory of my Beverly Hills experience continues to be a good reminder that love is not optional.

We are human and there are times love is not an instinctive response. That does not mean we can allow our fallen nature to get the best of us, however. God’s Word tells us: “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (2 John 1:6, NIV). The choice is not in how we love but in how we obey.

“God teaches us to love by putting unlovely people around us. It takes no character to love people who are lovely and lovely to you.”
                                                                                                Rick Warren