A Pastor’s Memoirs And Journal On Personal Brokenness And Suffering

Below is a pastor’s personal testimony about suffering, sacrifice and brokenness in the ministry.  It is his story from the school of hard knocks and his autobiography.  In order to grow into Christlikeness, suffering is not an option, it comes with the turf.  As we grow in the image of Jesus, we count the “fellowship of His suffering” as gain.  Blessings, Pastor Steve  <><

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Written by a dear pastor and friend who chooses to remain anonymous:

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in the book of Isaiah 66, verses 1 and 2:

1 “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

As I attempt to write this essay on the subject of broken things, I write from the perspective of one who ministers to those who have been broken; and in this exchange, those who have been hurt can often hurt those who are trying to help them.  As one who has spent the majority of my life thus far in the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I can tell you at times, sheep will bite the hands that feed them.

During times of conflict or even confrontation, I must remind myself of the words of Christ when He Himself said:  “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:34  Those who answer the high calling of God to minister to the broken must also be broken themselves.  I am not implying that the ministry is to be depressing or desponding, but the man of God is also not to present himself as a Lord over God’s heritage, as one who is puffed up, arrogant, or proud, but we are reminded of this command by the half brother of our Lord.  James, who shared the same mother as that of Immanuel, instead chose to identify himself as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…  [James 1:1]  He continued to remind us of the necessity of humility and brokenness in James 4:6  “But He giveth more grace, Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”  I personally have had to guard from allowing others to exalt myself to something greater than I am.  I have had to decline offers of pastor’s parking in the front of a new building addition we built on our church property in Punta Gorda – I chose rather to suggest we use that spot for visitors.  I also had to respectfully decline for a church in Jacksonville to hang a large picture of my wife and I in the foyer of our church, so the first thing the visitors and members would see would be me.  I plainly told them if you want to hang a picture of anyone, hang a picture of Jesus there.

However, just as a minister must know how to guard himself from being exalted by those he leads through the service of the Lord, a minister must also know how to conduct himself in the times of brokenness and injury from those he is trying to love.  Often times a pastor can find himself in the middle of a conflict or dispute that truly has nothing to do with himself.  I recently found myself trying to bring peace between two families within my congregation who are united by a marriage that neither family wanted.

I find myself very often claiming the promise found in the humble brother of our Lord who was known for his knees that were as a camel, when he declared:  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”  [James 1:5]  I have stood on this promise through prayer in every one of the five churches where I have been blessed to serve as their pastor.  During times of great difficulty and brokenness I have asked our precious Father to anoint me with this wisdom that He promised to give to those who ask him.  In the early years of my pastoral ministry, I had to depend on the Lord to guide me through traditional divides, and try to include members and leaders who we in times past would not use.  This included faithful members who had been divorced and remarried before I was even born.  I also had the blessing to allow our wonderful female members the ability to have a voice in business matters whereas for decades before they were not allowed.  I also had the lot to fall upon me to allow the incorporation of newer praise and worship music like Hillsong’s “Shout to the Lord,” and Jack Hayford’s “Majesty,” to a congregation who prided themselves in holding solely to the standard of the hymnal.

I will never forget when one of our members who himself was a retired senior pastor, who I greatly admired in my childhood, sat before me and told me that because of my going against his traditions, he could make it happen that I would never pastor again, and furthermore he could make it to where I would lose my home, and my wife and young daughter would be homeless.  I could not believe my ears, but instead of mistreating this man who was old enough to be my grandfather, I chose to continue to show him respect and honor.  The old retired pastor watched as the small church that he had founded in Brooksville, Florida, next to a junk yard and across the street from a crack house, had gone from an attendance of eighteen on our first Sunday to one hundred and sixty six, when we left to go to Fort Myers five years later.  Even after we left, I continued to love him and his wife, even inviting him to preach in various churches that I pastored throughout the state.  I will never forget shortly before he passed away and years after I left Brooksville, this once pastor of pastors, and leader of leaders, came to me with tears in his eyes at our International Assembly in North Carolina, and asked me to officiate his funeral when he died.  Several months later I stood before this man, who had built many church buildings and pastored many churches, and was able to lift up a life, that he too, had to go through a period of brokenness as the Lord lovingly allowed a change in his heart to guide him from the traditions of the past to the truth we find in Malachi 4:6  “And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers….”  I will forever be grateful for the lessons I have learned in times of BROKENNESS.

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Memoirs From A Short Term Mission Trip To Guatemala

This trip was taken in late August, 2016.  The members of this venture served small children in an orphanage:

 

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Sometimes the above link will not open the memoirs from this mission trip.  If that is the case, you can open them in the seven links below.  They are August 20 (2), August 21 (1), August 22 (2), August 23 (1), and August 25 (1), making up a total of seven pages.

 

 

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=28db4f37a8&view=fimg&th=156be63d09c0e2cb&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&attbid=ANGjdJ_NnqYZLpt4Q9qnheS2JzzfVuOOY4Zqw7q2ruV3yH48DDhEHBFBVvgnaKmNeXCquGP2m1UGaSJMik14zJPwQzwCTyX7AXGdcrFJTYkoy_sHe_Z_CRhHp8dRGT4&ats=1473257180452&rm=156be63d09c0e2cb&zw&sz=w1366-h643

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Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB) Missionary Joshua Murphree

Northern Conchucos Quechua Of Peru

IMB Missionary Joshua Murphree

IMB missionary Joshua Murphree takes Christians on extreme backpacking trips into the mountains of Peru to share the gospel with the Northern Conchucos Quechua people.  Read his first-person account from one of the trips.

Cooking on the ground with an ultra light stove and supplies found in each village, patching tent leaks during midnight rain storms and gasping for oxygen while walking up 35 degree grades over 12,000 feet in altitude, this team pushed their bodies to the limit to shape future ministry in the Peruvian Andes.

Our goal was to go where truck or bicycle cannot to meet people who live along narrow paths.  We searched for the best route in order to meet believers and Great Commission Christians (GCCs).

Crosshaven Baptist Church in Hanceville, Alabama, sent committed believers to share the truth with the people along these trails and encourage existing Christ-followers as well.  Some pastors of existing churches could not read and welcomed soon-to-come (oral) stories from God’s Word that will be available in their heart language.

Encouraged by what we shared and excited about future trainings for leaders, the local pastor said to the congregation, “Do not let what was taught go in one ear and out the other.  We have to put into practice what these missionaries shared with us tonight.”

We are thankful for the prayers of faithful partners who covered us as we traveled.  Those prayers helped us blaze trails for future backpacking teams that will serve alongside us here in Northern Conchucos.

To join the prayer team, go to missionbasecamp.com and click on the “contact” tab.  Discover strategic ways to pray, give, go, and send missionaries at imb.org/send.

Missionary Testimony And Newsletter, Article 2

The IMB missionary’s second testimony and newsletter will be delayed.  The missionary(s) are suddenly under great stress (no, not life threatening) and in the midst of an international move.  I can share more in person with those who attend prayer meetings at church, but due to security reasons I cannot share on line.  Pray for these missionaries who have given their whole lives for the cause of Christ.  As soon as I receive the next installment of the missionary(s) testimony and newsletter, I will place it on this site.  Blessings, Pastor Steve

Missionary Testimony And Newsletter, Article 1

I grew up as one of those kids you’ve warned your own kids about: don’t hang out with those kind of people – they’re a bad influence. Alcohol became my friend at an early age of 13 and marijuana came within the year. By the time I was a senior in high school, amphetamines (speed) was the choice for the weekend. I found I could make some extra money in college selling it and even came to understand how cocaine can become addictive; fortunately, the Lord intervened before things got worse.
A friend came across my path who finally shared the Gospel with me, something I’d never heard in my first nineteen years of life. The message had a draw to it, but I couldn’t pull myself away from my old life. I did, however, find myself over at this classmates dorm room asking questions. I thought it odd that his roommate would sit at his desk mumbling over what I thought was his Biology textbook only later to find out he was actually praying Scripture into my life. Whenever someone is praying for you, give up!
It was a Friday night later in the Spring semester when I’d surrender my life to Jesus and that came from a reading of Scripture. I shared what happened with my friends and they challenged me to read the New Testament. Not knowing any better, I read the whole thing in a week. When I told them that, I was asked, “So what do you think is its main message?”
 “Oh, that’s easy: take the Gospel into the whole world the way the early church did!” I said only to be asked, “What are you going to do about it?”

“Me?! I’m new at this! That’s for real questions!” I objected. I was then handed the first piece of Christian literature that I’d ever read outside of the Scriptures and it was “Keith Green’s Final Message: Why YOU Should Go To The Mission Field.”  No objection remained. During Easter Break, I found myself at what turned out to be a Southern Baptist church close to my parents’ home. What the pastor there asked me came as a surprise

 

Missionary Newsletters

This new category will feature the newsletters from an active missionary currently serving on the field.  We cannot share the name of the missionary(s) and country(s) serving in for security reasons.  The newsletters will periodically show up on this blog site entitled Missionary Newsletter #1, #2, etc., etc.  Information from missionaries on the field can give us a fresh perspective and added impetus and incentive to sacrifice and serve our Lord in ways we have never done.  It also opens gives us the opportunity for intercessory prayer.