Well, today I took time to read through I Timothy, II Timothy and Titus...the pastoral epistles. This is basically the handbook on pastoring. I make a point to read through it several times a year and keep reminding myself of things again and again and again. (The Word leaks out of me...gotta keep putting it in...)
Each time I read the pastoral epistles I get many new things out of them. Today while I was reading it, I was struck with this thought:
Is it any wonder why pastoring is so hard today?
The pastoral epistles point again and again to why it is so hard! We are living in the last days!
II Timothy 3:1-9 "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone."
Okay, so that explains it. There will be terrible times in the last days. And make no mistake that what is described in II Timothy as characteristics exists not only in the world but in the church. Notice the line, "...having a form of godliness..." This pretty much describes the state of many churches and church people today!
The good news is, we can make it. We have to! Because we're living in the last days and souls depend on it! We must be faithful to the task though God's servants are dealing with all of the above and more. II Timothy 4 goes on to charge us to continue to fight the good fight, keep the faith, finish the race. Not only because souls are at stake now but because there is reward for His servants. Verse 8 goes on to say, "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
I came home from work at the church office today and as Larry was cooking supper and I was tidying up the house we had on FOX News and I was riveted to the TV as I saw Governor Schwarzenegger from California giving a press conference about an earthquake there today. Apparently it has quite literally rocked their world. What does the Bible say will happen in the end times? Mark 13:8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
We are living under the threat of terrorism everyday, in the midst of the Iraq war, experiencing Tsunami's, earthquakes, and yes, famines. I should not wonder anymore why pastoring can be so hard, and neither should the rest of you who are doing this. Here's the thing...we are definitely in the last days and unfortunately instead of repenting and being concerned about souls and holiness, we have a lot of carnal Christians displaying the above behaviors just like the world!
It's not easy out there, my fellow ministers. No, not easy at all. But God put us here for such a time as this. Out of all the times we could have been born, He chose now and He chose YOU and ME for this task. Let's keep going for much is at stake, and our eternal reward is great.
p.s. regarding your prayers for me, Larry, our family...we still need them. This more than likely won't be a quick process, unless God brings a miracle. I still believe in them. Thank you for believing with me. I will keep you posted from time to time on the blog as well as a personal update to anyone who has written me an e-mail. Thanks so much, friends.