How To Suffer Well

This past weekend we continued our walk through 1 Peter and we dealt with a difficult subject – What To Do When Your Boss Is A Jerk!  I had originally planned for this message to allow me to walk through verses 18-25 but we did not have time for that.  Therefore, I want to take a few moments to reflect on some of the ramifications of this past message.  If you missed it, you can check it out here:

But what do we do when we are suffering in the workplace?  What do we do when we are suffering in the home or the community?  Peter deals with that in the verses that follow his instructions about slaves and masters.

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:20-25)

So how do we suffer well?  There are 5 reminders that show up in the text that I want to outline.

1. Acknowledge that this is our calling!  Peter says that if you suffer for doing good and you endure it – it is commendable before God and then he reminds us of something I really don’t like – this is our calling!  I don’t like suffering.  I am much more naturally inclined to complained and frustration when I go through difficulty, so Peter’s statement is a little discouraging.  However, we must remember that this is not our home and our home is characterized by the absence of suffering!

Now, Peter says that we are called to this because Christ suffered for us, leaving an example so that we can follow in His steps.

We don’t pick and choose where, when or how we follow Jesus.

It is a difficult calling, and yet it’s no different from what our master endured for us.  This is our calling.

2. Remember that Jesus’ suffering was completely undeserved…and that didn’t stop His suffering.  

He committed no sin and there was no deceit in his mouth and yet, he was mistreated.  Often we can think that as long as we don’t do anything wrong or treat anyone poorly, we won’t be mistreated or we SHOULDN’T be mistreated.  That just isn’t true in our world.  Jesus’ suffering was completely undeserved.  I wish I could say that about myself, but I can’t.

You may treat everyone with fairness at work.  You may be innocent towards your spouse.  You may have been incredibly gracious towards your spouse, but none of those things can insulate you from suffering.

3. Your options are to trust your instincts or to trust God.

When someone attacks me, my initial response is to defend myself.  I may want to explain how they got it wrong.  I might try to call people and gain supporters.  Or, I may simply consider putting something online that defends my innocence.  And yet, when Jesus was unjustly attacked He did not respond, but instead entrusted Himself to God the Father.

That is really the issue so often – to trust God or my own instincts.  But my one question for you is this: which is more reliable, God or your instincts?

4.  Others are being impacted by your responses.

Christ’s willingness to suffer well resulted in the incredible forgiveness and restored relationship with God that we now have.  I think in a similar, albeit lesser way, the way that you respond is impacting other people.

Do you have children?  They are learning about your faith with your suffering.

Do you have people you are sharing Christ with?  They are finding out just how powerful your God is when you respond to difficulty.

Do you have co-workers?  They are learning about Jesus when you get mistreated or passed over for a promotion on the job.

5.  Commit your soul,mind and body to your Shepherd and Overseer.

Peter ends his example from Christ by announcing that we are now able to return to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (God) through the perfected work of Jesus Christ.  I believe this is an important point and here’s why:

When you are suffering, you have an opportunity to commit yourself to the watch care and oversight of well…yourself, or to the watch care and oversight of our God. 

Suffering well requires that we commit ourselves to the watch care and oversight of our God.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.

So, the next time you are overlooked on the job, mistreated in your neighborhood, lied about on social media or even fired because of your faith…remember – this is our calling and we can trust God.

How To Suffer Well

Support

The longer I get to serve as a leader and pastor in the church, the more I interact with people who are truly struggling.  When I began at New Story 13 years ago, it was 5 years before I interacted with anyone who shared with me their feelings and thoughts toward suicide.  Even though I had grown up in a home where we attended AA meetings several nights a week – it was rare that I interacted with anyone battling alcohol addictions and actually talking about it.  However over the past 8 years I have been privileged to see more and more people open up about their struggles.  It is a privilege when people share their struggles with you, but it is also a responsibility.

It is a privilege when people share their struggles with you, but it is also a responsibility!

Whenever someone opens up to you – you are responsible, but probably not in the way you think.  You aren’t responsible to fix them!  I always feel responsible to fix them but that is a lie – a lie that implies that I am bigger and better than I actually am.  No, the responsibility that we have is different – we have a responsibility to respond well.  And you know what, most of us aren’t very good at that.  We end up criticizing people who just need encouragement.  We correct people who need comfort.  Maybe you tell people how to fix what they already know how to fix.  Sometimes we show people how disappointed we are – when all they need is a hug.

You aren’t responsible to fix them!

This is the struggle that has been looming on my mind as more and more people share with me their struggles with addiction, anxiety, fear, worry, suicide and more.  How should I respond and show support?  Because, isn’t that what we really want to do is support people?  To provide a lift up when they are broken up?

One passage that I think we could learn from when it comes to support is 1 Thessalonians 5:14

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

I love the distinctions in this verse – warn those who are idle and disruptive.  Encourage those who are disheartened…brokenhearted…or just plain broken.  Help the weak – whether that weakness is physical, emotional, spiritual or mental – help!  Finally, be patient with everyone.   I need to be patient with the growth of others.  I need to be patient with the life change.  I need to be patient in the middle of the struggle, because again…I’m not responsible to fix them.  I’m responsible for how I respond!  How about you?

Support

I Believe

Recently I was listening to a sermon that talked about the subject of belief.  The opening of the message talked about how belief is one of the most powerful capacities that we as humans have.  I couldn’t agree more.  Think about it:

  • Optimists always outsell their smarter and more educated coworkers.  Why?  – Belief!
  • People solve problems that were previously thought unsolvable.  Why? – Because no one told them it was impossible.
  • Businesses are formed and take off – often not because of intelligence, but persistence and belief.

That got me thinking about how important belief is for people who are following Christ.  Jesus left us with a few instructions

  • Love God (ok we can do that)
  • Love other people (well that’s not so easy)
  • Tell others about Jesus (but that’s scary)

But here is my point.  Yes – loving unlovely people is hard, but you can!  You know why?  Because you’ve been loved like that, and you aren’t as lovely as you always think.  You need to BELIEVE that it is possible and just keep swimming (sorry, I have little kids).

Yes – building relationships and sharing Jesus can be scary, but you can!  You know why?  Because God will help you and someone shared with you.  You don’t have to be a pastor or missionary.  You don’t need a degree – you need to BELIEVE that God will use your sharing to write a new story and just keep sharing.

Now, here’s the part for me: I need to BELIEVE that God can and will use us to see changed lives, raise up leaders and plant other churches.  So…here I am, publicly pronouncing my BELIEF!  Won’t you trust and BELIEVE with me?

I Believe

Far As The Curse Is Found

I came across an excellent article today that I had to share in light of our most recent series at New Story.  You can see it in it’s original form here.

I’m going to highlight a few portions of this article that I found refreshing.  I hope you will be encouraged too!

Far As The Curse Is Found by Nancy Guthrie

 

My husband, David, and I bought burial plots this week. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound very Christmassy. It’s not the kind of shopping most people are busy with this time of year.

Perhaps it seems a bit grim to be thinking about and even preparing for death during the Christmas season. But it seems to me that Christmas is exactly the right time to think about death. Tim Keller has said that we have to “rub hope into the reality of death.” And is there any time we sing more about hope than at Christmas?

We sing that this world was “in sin and error pining, till he appeared,” and we’re caught up in the wonder that Life itself, in the person of Jesus, entered into this world of sin and death. His coming brought with it the “thrill of hope” that causes this weary world to rejoice. But what is the cause for this joy? What is the essence of this hope? Our hope is that “yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Our songs at Christmas serve to remind us that this season isn’t merely about looking back at that holy night when Christ was born. Rather, our celebration of his first coming is meant to nurture in us a greater longing for his second coming. In fact, we miss the point of that holy night if it does not awaken in us anticipation for the glorious eternal day to come.

A Song of Longing

One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been, “Joy to the World!” Since we sing it at Christmas, I always thought of it as a song about the birth of Jesus. But if we think through the words more carefully, we realize that this song can’t be about the first coming of Christ.

We sing, “Let earth receive her King!” And we know that when Jesus came the first time, the earth did not receive her King. Instead, the earth crucified her King. The first time Jesus came, the nations did not prove the glories of his righteousness. Instead, human history has proved, over and over, the extent of man’s rebellion against his righteousness.

When we look at the world around us, as well as into the painful parts of our own lives, we know that his blessing does not yet flow far as the curse is found. Instead, we see the impact of the curse in every part of our lives. Sin and sorrow still grow, and all the thorny effects of the curse remain the reality we live in day-to-day and year-by-year.

From Blessing to Curse

Of course, this is not the way things have always been. We read in Genesis 2:7 that “the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” God blessed everything he had made so that his blessing defined the atmosphere of Eden.

But then Adam and Eve sinned. God cursed the ground and told Adam how this curse would impact him. “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Gone was the chance to eat of the tree of life and never die. Adam would one day be buried in the ground, and his body would turn back into its dust.

Ever since Eden, every human life has ended in death . . . except for one. Yes, Jesus really died. But death was not the end for him. Likewise, all who are joined to him by faith can face death, knowing that it will not be the end for us either. Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. . . . Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:2249).

This certain hope gives us a reason to sing for joy at Christmas. When Christ comes again, earth will receive her King. Every knee will bow. The nations will prove the glories of his righteousness as people from every tribe, tongue, and nation dwell secure under the righteous rule of King Jesus. All oppression will have ceased. His blessing will flow far as the curse is found.

The Curse Finally Gone for Good

David and I know that the day is going to come when our bodies will be planted, like seeds, in the darkness of the earth. It will seem to some as though our lives have come to an end. But we know better. We know that yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. The darkness of our graves will one day be pierced by the radiant light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The silence of our graves will be disrupted by his thunderous voice. He will call the dust of our dead bodies out of those burial plots and transform them to be like his own glorious body (Philippians 3:21).

Those two little plots of ground will not prove to be our final resting place. The blessing of his resurrection life is going to penetrate the earth in which we are buried, and we will be raised to life. We are going to experience all that God promised when Isaiah prophesied, “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead” (Isaiah 26:19). This hope enables us to sing songs of joy in the night as we wait for that glorious morn.

Far As The Curse Is Found

Why Is Everything SO Broken?

10.21.18 Title Slide

Even if you can push this reality to the side for large portions of your life, eventually something always happens that forces you to come to grips with the brokenness of our world.  Violence, terrorism, racism, slavery, prostitution, sex slavery, broken homes/families/lives, corruption…they all play across our screens everyday.

I grew up in a small town.  It was idealic!  There were problems, but I certainly didn’t understand the level of the brokenness until many years later.  The first real sign of the depths of the brokenness came in the form of the first counseling situation I had where a young woman talked with me about the abuse she had recently endured.  It was there that I felt the great brokenness of our world seeing it on her face.

So…how did it get this way?

Well, the world was broken when we entered it, but it didn’t start that way.  

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. – Genesis 1:31

Shortly after this the brokenness began.  Rebellion, violence, deceit, bitterness, jealousy, rape, abuse – all of the above enter the world in short order once the seal of sin was broken.

But there is more…

We’ve added to the brokenness.

No, you’re not as bad as you could be and neither am I.  No, you likely haven’t murdered anyone, but let’s start by stopping the lie that we are innocent!

So what about now?  Is there any hope?  Before we answer that question maybe we should start with addressing the ways that we continue to add to the brokenness.  You see, we add to the brokenness when we ignore it.

  • We add to the brokenness when we ignore sin in ourselves – acting like everything is okay and we’re just normal when we tolerate our own sin only adds to the idea that sin is normative.  Whatever you struggle with, you’re not alone, but lets not ignore the struggle – it only gets better when exposed to light.
  •  We add to the brokenness when we refuse to name it – when we refuse to call racism what it is, when we refuse to call lust what it is, when we refuse to call even verbal abuse what it is, we add to the problem.
  • The church adds to the brokenness when they ignore it in the communities.  When we ignore broken families, broken social programs, the brokenness that is prominent in our communities we forfeit the influence that we can have.
  • We add to the brokenness when we demonize pet sins.  When someones struggles are different from yours and you act like they are different than you – you characterize and call people by their sin…that is voice of the evil one.

 

So, what if we started by taking a look at ourselves and using our time to serve and meet real needs in our communities?  What if we sat down with those who see things different than us?  What if we listened?  Maybe, just maybe we could start to see repair to the brokenness through Christ.

If you’d like to see more on this subject check out the talk: THE FALL.

Why Is Everything SO Broken?

Who Are You Listening To?

9.16.18 Title Slide

The people you listen to will affect your destination.  

The people that we do life with and listen to absolutely affect the directions and destinations of our lives.  Think about it, your parents have affected you more than you often realize. It’s the same with our friendships – both personal and online.  2 Chronicles 18 talks about a friendship between King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat. Although Jehoshaphat was deeply committed to God, he arranged for his son to marry Athaliah the daughter of the wicked King Ahab and he formed a military alliance with him.  This particular alliance had 3 devastating consequences: 1) Jehoshaphat came under God’s wrath (2 Chronicles 19:2); 2) When Athaliah became queen, she seized the throne and tried to kill all of David’s descendants (2 Chronicles 22:10-12); 3) She brought the worship of false Gods to Judah which eventually led to the nation’s downfall.  

Read 2 Chronicles 18

Who’s In Your Ear?

Who do you tend to run to and listen to in the situations of life?  

Have you asked yourself this question: “Where are their lives headed?”

What do you think about the answers to that question?  

Are You Listening?

Who do you need to stop listening to?

Who do you need to start listening to?

Who Are You Listening To?

Attention Please!

9.9.18 Title Slide

“I will remember that day for the rest of my life.”  Have you ever said that? One of my memories was actually the first time I got to out on a motorcycle ride with some friends.  It was my first motorcycle and I was very new at riding. We drove all over the city and eventually ended up at Wyandotte County Lake to ride the curvy roads around the lake.  I was having a great time, until we started encountering some of the most curvy roads I had been on while driving my motorcycle. Suddenly my mind was filled with fear, my body tensed up and riding my motorcycle wasn’t so fun.  I was scared. Thankfully my friends recognized this and stopped for a minute. As we stopped, a young man on a very fast motorcycle with a young girl on the back came revving by. He stopped at the top of the hill right where we were and flew down the hill into a sharp curve.  He was showing off and looking around, when all of a sudden, he realized he was not paying attention and going too fast into the curve. I’ll never forget the sound of his girlfriend yelling and his bike sliding across the pavement. Thankfully they were ok…his bike was not!

 

At that point my friend pulled me aside and told me this – where you look while driving a motorcycle is where you will go!  And you know what…he is right.  If I stare at the curb, eventually I’ll put my bike in the curb.  Well, life tends to work that way too. What you give your attention to definitely determines the direction that you will go!  If I give my attention to my family and my wife, I find that I move closer and closer to them. When I give my attention to the Lord, I find that I move down a path that allows me to hear from Him over and over.  

 

1 Kings 16 introduces us to a King in the northern portion of Israel – King Ahab.  If you’ve read much of the Old Testament you’ve heard about Ahab and his wife Jezebel.  If you’ve never heard the story, there is a reason I would never encourage to name your daughter Jezebel!  Ahab gave his attention to a woman (Jezebel) and eventually married her. Her father had been the high priest of the Phoenician god Baal – a god of fertility who was often worshipped by self-harm and sexual immorality.  Jezebel aimed to lead the Israelite people into the same practices and Ahab listened.

 

 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

34 In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun.  (1 Kings 16:29-34)

 

  • Outside of work and family, what tends to capture your attention?  Are you satisfied with that pathway?
  • Verse 31 states that Ahab thought certain idolatrous practices were “trivial” or no big deal.  Where in our culture do we tend to treat dangerous things as “no big deal”?
  • Ahab’s attention lead to his destruction.  Where do you think your attention is leading you?  Is it leading you towards healthy and helpful destinations?
  • Is there anywhere you are headed towards a crash?  Are you ready for a change?
Attention Please!