Posts Tagged ‘self-doubt’

1 Samuel 19:18-24
David Flees to Ramah

Recently, I read the story of miraculous survival from World War II. These story is about surviving the sinking of battleship. On May 24th, 1941 several British warships were tracking the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic. They were trying to catch up to it and sink it. Among the British ships was the pride of the British fleet, the battlecruiser HMS Hood. When they caught up with the Bismarck and her escorts a tremendous battle took place. Just 10 minutes into the battle a shell from the Bismarck hit the Hood and exploded in her magazine, where the Hood’s munitions were. This resulted in a cataclysmic explosion in the rear part of the ship, which sank almost immediately. The bow quickly became vertical and sank a little more slowly, but within three minutes all traces of the Hood were gone. Of the one thousand four hundred and eighteen men on the Hood, only three survived. Only three of almost 1500 men. One of the men who survived, Ted Briggs, told of his harrowing escape. He managed to get outside and started going down a ladder when the water reached him. He attempted to swim away from the ship but the force of the sinking ship pulled him under. He said he remembered struggling for a while, but then realized that it was hopeless as he was being carried further and further down into the ocean’s depths. So he gave up all hope. Then suddenly, he found himself being miraculously propelled back to the surface by a huge air bubble. Some air had escaped from the sinking ship and he was caught up in it. It could be that the windows on the bridge collapsed and released the air that had been trapped there. Wherever it came from it happened right under the spot where Briggs was and he shot to the surface and soon found himself among the burning oil. He was able to hang on until help arrived.

That’s an incredible story. All hope was gone and then suddenly he was saved in the most unexpected of ways. We do not always have stories of miraculous survival at sea, but still there are stories from our lives in our pasts where God has sustained us when no other explanation could be offered. I have stories like that from my past. Stories that scream God’s miraculous provision. One story from my previous job that occurred about 5 years ago is where on the surface it appeared that I had made a major mistake that could have cost me dearly but in the last minute the truth came out about the real cause of the situation and I was exonerated. Only God allowed reason to prevail long enough for the truth to come out in that situation. There are many other situations in my life where God has protected me from the sin of others, my own sins, stupid mistakes that I have made, and, sometimes, even from things that could have physically caused my death. In all these situations, we have bumps and bruises and cuts (either figurative or literal), but God does often snatch us from figurative and literal traps and pitfalls of life because he is not done with us yet. I firmly believe that.

The past should provide us with evidence of God’s provision and protection. However, we often forget it. Every time a new situation arises that seems overwhelming and seems to large and seems like it will defeat us, we forget the past. We are like the Israelites who complained and bellyached in the desert about God not providing for them and completely forgetting all the miracles that had gone down before them in the past. We are often the same. A new problem or a new danger arises and we forget. I am no different from anybody else. Even though God has provided for me and looked after me constantly over the years and saved me from my own mistakes, the bad intentions of others, just plain difficult circumstances, and even physical danger, I forget. Currently, my new job as director of business/staff pastor at Calvary Church just seems so overwhelmingly different and strange. I don’t understand the mechanics of so much that is under my area of responsibility. Although I conceptually understand stuff, the mechanics and procedures are all different and even foreign to me at times. Add to that, one of the people that reports to me just resigned for personal reasons on Thursday. So, my weekend has been a whirlwind of self-doubt and self-effacing emotions. Wondering why I even came here. Wondering. Wondering. Wondering. All self-confidence I had about myself just a short month ago in a decade long tenure in one position in the secular world. All the confidence I had about my church finance capabilities gained in a much simpler accounting system at LifeSong is gone now that I am dealing with the seemingly more complex systems here. How this one event of losing an employee rocked my world to the point of serious self-doubt is no doubt the work of Satan.

How quickly we forget God’s provision. I was not always the confident dude at Fujikura America or at LifeSong. The confidence gained and displayed in the second half of the years those dual roles back in South Carolina came after years of just figuring stuff out and God directing my steps toward understanding. God directing my steps after understanding to taking things and making them simpler and more efficient. God directing my steps to better seeing how all the pieces fit together. God protected me in those early years as learned. I must remember that every new job is like starting over as a new baby and re-learning to walk again.

When I read this morning’s passage, 1 Samuel 19:18-24, it reminded me that God is my protector and provider and that he has proven it over and over again over the years. David’s protection by God in this passage from Saul once again is a reminder that I should never doubt whether God will provide. Let’s read the passage now:

18 So David escaped and went to Ramah to see Samuel, and he told him all that Saul had done to him. Then Samuel took David with him to live at Naioth. 19 When the report reached Saul that David was at Naioth in Ramah, 20 he sent troops to capture him. But when they arrived and saw Samuel leading a group of prophets who were prophesying, the Spirit of God came upon Saul’s men, and they also began to prophesy. 21 When Saul heard what had happened, he sent other troops, but they, too, prophesied! The same thing happened a third time. 22 Finally, Saul himself went to Ramah and arrived at the great well in Secu. “Where are Samuel and David?” he demanded.

“They are at Naioth in Ramah,” someone told him.

23 But on the way to Naioth in Ramah the Spirit of God came even upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy all the way to Naioth! 24 He tore off his clothes and lay naked on the ground all day and all night, prophesying in the presence of Samuel. The people who were watching exclaimed, “What? Is even Saul a prophet?”

In this passage, we see again for like maybe the fourth time, the Lord saved David from certain death. Tow times he was saved by Saul’s kids (Jonathan and Michal each saved David’s life by the actions they took) and once there was a spear thrown at David that just missed him and stuck in the wall instead of David. Now, God preserves David by causing the Holy Spirit to descend on Saul and his warriors so that David could escape.

It is a reminder to us all that God provides for those who love Him. It may not always be in the way that we want. It may not always be without bumps and bruises. It may not be without the testing of our faith. It may not be without moments where we doubt whether the Lord is watching over us. I may not be without moments where we wonder why God led us to where we are. It may not be without moments where we wonder if we have done the right thing. It may not be without moments where we wonder if what we are doing is actually in God’s will or just us mistaking it for God’s will.

Those doubts that come from Satan must be offset by the memory that God is with those who love him. Those doubts must be offset by our memory of what God has done for us in the past. Those doubts must be offset by remembrance of how God provides for His people in His Word, the Bible. Satan loves it when we buy into his lies about our self-worth and whether we are following God’s will. When he takes our confidence in God away, he makes us ineffective. When he makes us ineffective, he wins. Just ask Adam and Eve.

We must remember what God has done. There is a prayer from Deuteronomy that I must always keep in mind as I progress down this new and unknown path at Calvary Church. It says, “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 16:13-17

The Festival of Shelters

As many of you know, it is the burden that God has laid on my heart to be in full-time ministry. Right now, I am partially there as I am on staff part-time at my church. Recently, I went through the interview process, a long and drawn out one at that, for an administrative pastor’s position at a church in Ohio. I got as far in the process as being flown in with my spouse for a weekend of interviews. By this fact alone, I assumed that we were going to get the job. The interview process went well. We really liked the church and the people. It all seemed like a good fit. We had prayed about it and talked about it a lot over the past week and we were ready to go if the offer came. We really were going to miss Upstate South Carolina (it is home to us) but we were ready for the new challenges that lie ahead in a different part of the country. We had lived further away before, for a time, out in California so it was not completely out of this world to us to have to move to a different region of the country. So, we were ready.


However, this past Friday, we learned that I did not get the job or rather that we did not get the job. In the world of church, you are a ministry couple. You and your wife are a ministry team. My wife was interviewed as much as I was during our visit to Ohio. So, it was a blow to both of us. The inevitable self-doubts come in when you get rejected for a job. We have been processing those feeling all weekend. What does it all mean? Why did we not get the job? We demonstrated that we had a willingness to follow God’s call wherever that might lead us. Sure, we would have preferred that God would lead us to some tropical climate like San Juan, PR but we were ready to move into the colder climes of northern Ohio. What was it that turned them off? Was it our honesty about our respective past lives? Was it that I had written in my spiritual journey essay (which was part of the application process) that one of my long-range goals was to be a teaching pastor or a professor? Was it that they did not think that this was a destination job for me? Was it that I was a not a career preacher but a second career one? Was it that I was not part of the clique of pastors who have that shared experience? Was it that I was not good enough? You question yourself and it brings in self-doubt as to whether you are just kidding yourself with this desire to be in full-time ministry. You question yourself as if you are an outsider looking in? You question yourself as to whether you’ve wasting your time following foolish dream – and was it really a call from God? Those are things that I have been, and my wife has been, dealing with this weekend. We are in our mid-fifties, Lord! When is the call going to come? The window of productive time to serve the Lord in full-time ministry is getting smaller by the day. When, Lord, when? Those were the questions of the weekend so far. Self-doubt. Examining what could possibly have gone wrong. Was it us and something we said? Was it a reference? Was it that they just didn’t think we had what it took? It is easy then with this self-doubt to convince yourself to give up on the whole thing – serving the Lord even in our current capacities. We are tired and wounded from the journey of the past eight years (from Livermore Alive to LifeSong Church) where we have served and served and served and gave and gave and gave.


This morning, I wake up on a Sunday morning and it is time to go to church in what has been our church home for 6 ½ years now. Even though we have had our egos bruised a bit by the Ohio rejection, we have a home at LifeSong. It is our church. We are invested there. And, today, is Sunday. It is time to go to the Sunday morning celebration. It is that idea of celebrating God even when your heart hurts is what I thought of this morning as I read Deuteronomy 16:13-17. Let’s read it now together:


13 Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.


16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed: 17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.


Three times a year every male was to make a journey to the sanctuary in the city that would be designated as Israel’s religious capital. At these festivals, each participant was encouraged to give to God in proportion to what God had given him. It was to be a celebration time for the blessing of the Lord. I am sure that there were times when times were hard that it may have been difficult for the Israelites for find reason for celebration but they were obedient and did it anyway. They would to view it from a lifetime perspective at times. In the difficult times, we have to remember what all God has done for throughout our lives and that He will deliver us from the hard times. We must celebrate the sovereignty of God.


For me, that is what I must remember this Sunday morning after a weekend of self-doubt after a rejection is that I am a mightily blessed man. We have been blessed with my job at Fujikura that has allowed us to be generous people. I am a blessed man who has been blessed with a wonderful wife that gives me wise counsel and who takes care of me and spoils me rotten. I am blessed man in that my wife and I have matured greatly in Christ over these past 6 ½ years at the church we call home and under the leadership of our elders/pastors. We have been a part of the church’s impacting other people’s lives. We have been blessed by all the people that have passed through our small group in the past five years that have gone on to lead life groups themselves. We have been blessed by the friendships that we have developed over the past 6 ½ years. The Lord has delivered us through several crises at Fujikura and set me on that high, dry ground each time. Even though I have a past before Christ that I am not proud of, I am seem at work as a Christ follower and as a man of principle. These are blessings that I must celebrate this morning. Just look how far the Lord has taken Elena and I since that day we first met in Rock Hill, SC back in 2007. From Rock Hill, SC to Livermore, CA to Duncan-Lyman, SC, the things that God has providentially done in our lives is what we go to church and celebrate this morning.


When you look back at what God has done in our lives and what He has led us through and led us to so far, we must trust Him now with the fact that Ohio was not the right place. We must trust that He had a purpose in that three month process. We must trust that it was just not the right door for us at this moment. We must trust that there is a door that He will lead us to that is the right door at the right time and in the right place. We must continue to plow the field that we are plowing right now. There is still much to do at LifeSong and much to do in pursuing my doctoral studies. There are dreams that He has not even revealed to us yet and we must trust that. He has brought us a mighty long way already. Why quit trusting Him now? Keep plowing the field in which you find yourself. Keep serving. Keep loving God. Keep trusting in Him. When you look back at all the things that He has brought us through together and individually, we must trust Him. That’s what we celebrate this morning and that’s what we will celebrate on Monday…on Tuesday…on Wednesday…on Thursday…on Friday….and on Saturday.


Amen and Amen.