4 Posts from July 2010

Follow Our 2010 Reformation Video Blog

My fellow pastors,

I’ll be overseas for the next couple of weeks, leading our Insight for Living Reformation Tour. During that time, I won’t be posting my regular pastor’s blog.

However . . . I invite you to follow along with our tour by subscribing below to our Reformation Tour Video Blog. The blog will feature daily video of sites we’re seeing and lessons we’re learning. I believe you will enjoy it! 


Please pray for me as I teach at many of these locations. Pray that God’s Word would take firm root in the hearts of those who travel with us.



P. S. Although I won't be posting to this blog, I will post regular FaceBook and Twitter updates throughout the trip. If you are interested, you can follow me on FaceBook and Twitter.

When You’re Feeling Intimidated

Many years ago, I went through a dreadful experience with a person who decided to make me his enemy.

I still don’t know why he had it in for me. It remains a mystery. Nevertheless, it occurred. This individual decided to make my life miserable. He watched my every move. He questioned my decisions. He cast doubts on my ministry. This person applied pressure, sometimes to the point where I thought I would scream. I don’t know how much he said to others about his opinion of me; I never asked. But he said enough to me and was bullying and intimidating enough that I became frightened, especially when I realized he carried a gun! Eventually, on one occasion, he even threatened me with it.

One bitterly cold Sunday after church, I went home and fell across our bed, not even taking off my overcoat. I cried out to the Lord. I wept audibly until I could not cry another tear. I had come to my wit’s end. I was exhausted, trying everything I knew to do to bring about a change. Nothing changed! This man had a heart like King Ahasuerus in the book of Esther. We’re talking beyond hard!

Proverbs reminds us that the “king’s heart” is like mush, like soft putty—or we could say like Play-Doh—in the hands of the Lord; “He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1).

Just for a moment, imagine another name in that proverb in place of “the king.” Someone who is giving you grief, perhaps. It may be one of your own grown, wayward children. Maybe it’s someone who represents a formidable presence. Someone who haunts you and maybe hopes to bring you down. Stubborn person, right? Strong-hearted individual, correct? Imagine this person’s heart that seems so hard, so granite-like, changing into soft putty in the hands of the Lord. Is it really possible?


There is no heart so stubborn that it cannot become bendable—even breakable—in the all-powerful hands of the Lord.

God worked out my own situation is His time . . . and in His way. But He did work it out!

There is no wall so strong that almighty God is not stronger still. There is no will so stubborn that He is not able to soften it. If God can change the heart of Ahasuerus, He can change any heart—any heart! That includes the strong-willed king who opposes you. (Go back and read that again.)

If you are living your days feeling intimidated and threatened, anxious over the falling of the next shoe, listen to this counsel! God is able to take the heart of anyone and change it, just as He did with the heart of that pagan king.

Yes, anyone.


In Defense of the Helpless

(Note: don't miss the valuable resources at the end of this post.)

The church of the twenty-first century needs to awaken from its moral slumber. In this age of “enlightenment,” we have been taught to be tolerant. We have gone soft on the exposition of the Scriptures. We have learned to ignore sin rather than deal with it. We have adopted the flawed notion that God’s grace somehow covers a carnal lifestyle. What a horrible misunderstanding of grace!

Let me be blunt. Far too often within the Christian home, wives are battered, husbands are neglected, children are abused, and dark, shameful forms of sexual depravity occur. As the Prophet Jeremiah said of the people of Judah: “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush” (Jeremiah 6:15 NIV).

The one vestige of hope in the home used to be the innocent child. But now, not even children are safe. Many are used for sexual exploitation. Children are raped by relatives . . . girls are abused . . . boys become victims of incest. In their own homes, helpless children are molested—and by the very ones who should be protecting them!

Even Scripture reveals such awful carnality among God’s people. After King David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba, David’s son Amnon lusted after his half-sister, Tamar. Amnon faked an illness and requested that Tamar bring him food in his bedroom. When she arrived, he grabbed her and—because he was stronger—raped her in spite of her resistance (2 Samuel 13:6–14).

Following this abhorrent act, this dear girl was awash in her grief. “Tamar put ashes on her head and . . . put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went” (2 Samuel 13:19 NIV). When her father David heard of it, “he was furious” (13:21 NIV). But that’s it! He only got mad. David never got involved in the crisis.

When Tamar’s other brother Absalom heard of it, he told her: “Be quiet now, my sister; [Amnon] is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart” (13:20). Can you believe those words? What stupid counsel! Don’t say anything? Keep silent when God’s law says Amnon should be stoned? But what could she do? Her brother said to hush, and her father did nothing. Tamar had no person to go to with her pain.

Both then and now, when such violations occur—with no one to act in defense of the helpless—the child faces a threatening future of moral confusion, personal shame, spiritual disillusionment, emotional scars, and family anger.

Fellow-pastor, it is time we speak up in defense of the helpless. The innocent victims of sexual abuse need a safe place to share their stories . . . and they need direction toward the emotional and spiritual healing found in Jesus Christ.

The world has never provided a safe and secure place from those who would abuse children. That’s why the church must be that place. It is the responsibility of church leaders to make sure the church of God remains a place of trust and respect. A haven where no one is touched inappropriately. A refuge where hurting individuals can confide in a teacher, in an elder, in a pastor, or in an older friend.

I urge you to speak out on this subject and to foster an environment where those who need to talk can share their stories. I have provided below a list of related resources that may help you in your role as a pastor, teacher, and shepherd. At the top of this list is a two-part interview I did with Dave Carder that you can listen to right now. This interview gives us as pastors a much-needed perspective on dealing with sexual abuse in the church and in the home.

I hope you’ll also keep handy a stack of business cards of qualified counselors in your area who are experienced in talking with families and victims about the struggles connected to sexual abuse. Those who come to you need you to direct them to trusted professionals who can walk them through the challenging process of healing. If you’re not sure where to find a good counselor in your area, Dallas Theological Seminary has a Web page that helps you find counselors in your area. 

Many today are living like Tamar did, with ashes of shame and humiliation on their heads, weeping aloud with no one to hear.

Shepherds must protect the sheep.

My prayer is that as a result of you speaking out in defense of the helpless, many victims will reach out to someone for help for the first time.


How Churches Can Deal with the Issues of Molestation

How Families Can Deal with the Issues of Molestation

Recommended Resources: 

Visit Insight for Living's Topical Page on Sexual Abuse

Door of Hope: Recognizing and Resolving the Pains of Your Past Door of Hope: Recognizing and Resolving the Pains of Your Past by Jan Frank

Victims of abuse—any abuse—need to know how other people have made it through the recovery process. As a victim of incest herself, Jan Frank understands the myriad emotions that victims struggle with and offers ten proven steps toward recovery in Door of Hope. A powerful story of inspiration and restoration, Door of Hope is Jan's journey toward wholeness. But it is much more than a story. It is hope for other victims. And in this updated edition, Jan provides a special section featuring answers to questions most often asked by abuse victims and those who love them.

The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dan B. Allender

The statistics are shocking—the number of people who have suffered sexual abuse is staggering. All the more need for the substantive help and hope that Dr. Allender offers to those wounded. Going well beyond the general issues, you will find real answers that reach deep into the heart of the issues where healing is often hindered. A companion workbook is also available to lead you in a practical way through the complex issues of recovery. 

The Wounded Heart: A Companion Workbook The Wounded Heart: A Companion Workbook by Dr. Dan B. Allender

Thousands of women and men have experienced life-reviving healing from Dr. Dan Allender's book The Wounded Heart. This companion workbook will help you work through the complex issues of sexual abuse in a concrete way. Designed to be used on your own or in a group, the workbook will lead you step-by-step through the process of change: facing the truth about past and present experiences and feelings; wrestling with God, other people, and yourself; and understanding the goals and fears that have determined how you relate to others. It also includes specific sections for men, ideas for discussion-group facilitators, and reflective quotations from fellow strugglers with sexual abuse.


Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Dr. Wess Stafford

The leader of Compassion International shares his inspiring boyhood adventures growing up in an African village and challenges us all to change the world one child at a time. Why are children easy to ignore in the busy mainstream of life? They rarely cry out if overlooked—or worse, traumatized or abused, Yet it is vital for the future of humanity that we make children a priority in every area of life.

Is God Almost Sovereign?

Just before Moses died, he spoke these words to God. Read them carefully:

“May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the LORD will not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and commission him in their sight.” (Numbers 27:16–19)

I don’t know your circumstances today. I cannot be certain how God intends to use this episode from the life of Moses in your own life. But I do know what it’s like to be a shepherd . . . and so I can imagine some possible scenarios.

It may be that these words fall on a very hungry heart. Or perhaps you have been strengthened and encouraged with the thought that you’re exactly where God wants you to be. Or maybe you’re engaged in the challenging task of finding a man or a woman for a position that carries a huge weight of responsibility . . . and you’ve been reminded that you are dependent on God, more than ever, to locate His “Joshua.” Or perhaps you are that Joshua, and you’ve been asked to accept a responsibility broader than you ever dreamed.

Whatever your circumstances, I want to remind you that our heavenly Father cares about areas of your life that would seem insignificant to a distant deity. I know you’re aware of these things—you’ve preached them often. But may I remind you of what I often remind myself? He’s never too busy to hear your hurts, to wipe away your tears, to whisper words of encouragement, and to put His big shoulder under your load. He’s the God who cares about the details.

As I write these words, I’m praying that our sovereign Lord might be a very personal comfort to you this week. I pray especially for you pastors who are wrestling with loneliness and discouragement. Even though you’re surrounded by people and their admiration, deep inside there’s an ache. Believe me, my friend, God can meet your need as only He can, even as He did in the heart of Moses just a few hours before the great man’s death.

If you’re God’s Joshua, you don’t need to worry that you’ll be forgotten. You needn’t fear that the shadow of your predecessor will eclipse you and your ministry in the years to come. In fact, you don’t need to worry about anything. If you’re God’s Joshua, you’re right where you ought to be.

Remind yourself that He is sovereign. He has everything under His control. He will have His way in His time and for His glory. That includes your life, your position, your past, and your future. Worrying over any of that is a waste. He’s got every detail covered.

Yes, every one.

Think of it this way: there’s no such thing as God being almost sovereign.