Tag Archives: problems

The Blessings of Troubles! (A Look at Psalm 57)

I’ve been looking at Psalm 57 this week with my friend Frank. Most of us want to live a trouble-free life, right? But there are some distinct benefits of troubles. The first benefit is: I. Troubles Help Us to Seek the Lord! (v. 1).  The second benefit or blessing is that: II. Troubles focus our attention in becoming steadfast in our faith (v. 7). The third blessing is that: III. Troubles provoke us to praise (v. 9). And the fourth blessing is that: IV. Troubles get us to think about His faithfulness (v. 10). Want to live a life free from troubles? Then you will learn nothing from the Psalmist!

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Posted by on November 16, 2022 in troubles


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Living Now in Light of the Future (A Series of Messages on 2 Corinthians 12) Part 8

In just a few weeks Linda and I will be with the supporters of Camp Elim in Colorado for their Heritage Retreat (Sept. 23-24). These posts allow me to work on my messages from 2 Corinthians 12.

Let’s read over our text one more time:

We have seen that Paul’s tour of heaven — 14 years prior — was life-changing for him. But it brought him a thorn to keep him from becoming conceited about what he had experienced.

We’ve suggested that four challenges or truths can be gleaned from Paul’s description of this event in his life. First, living now in light of the future means that we have a biblical view of boasting (vv. 1-16). Second, we have seen that, taking Paul’s words seriously means that we have a clear focus on the future (vv. 2, 4, 7). And, third, Paul’s example here provides us with a practical primer on prayer (vv. 8-9).

Let’s notice a fourth — and final — lesson or challenge from this text and it is this: We now receive —

IV. A God-Honoring Perspective on Problems (vv. 9-10)

Let’s look at these two verses carefully: 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

We all have problems, don’t we? But how to we look at them? As irritants? As dead-end streets on our journey to happiness? As inconveniences, monkey-wrenches thrown into our self-focused itineraries? Christians are nowhere told to become passive, masochistic puddles that siliently “suffer for Jesus.” Problems and difficulties give God the opportunity to show us the sufficiency of His grace and us the opportunity to face the naked truth of our weaknesses. Such “weaknesses” — sovereignly given to us — allow us to recalibrate our priorities.

Such a perspective does not remove from us the power of repetitive prayer, but will sometimes change our praying from escape to submission. For Paul God’s refusal to remove his thorn led him to gladness (v. 9)! And he achieved a biblical delight (!) in his weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. [I will certainly need to do a bit of a word study on each of these four terms]. But, would you not agree that Paul has pretty much covered all circumstances in life by the use of these four words: WEAKNESSES, INSULTS, HARDSHIPS, PERSECUTIONS, and DIFFICULTIES?

The Challenge: What specific difficulty are you facing right now? Have you given it over to the Lord and prayed something like this? “Lord, I don’t want this. But more than that, I want Your strength to be shown in my weakness. Help me, Lord, to trust You in this circumstance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”













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Posted by on August 17, 2019 in 2 Corinthians 12


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The Church as a Rusted-Out Bus? Some Thoughts on This Metaphor

Several days ago we posted the following picture of a rusted-out old bus and asked, What aspects or challenges of the local church  might be depicted in this picture?  Please be assured — I’m not picking on the local church or trying to be hyper-critical.  I thank God for the local church!  But there are always ways that we can improve our service for the Lord, especially in the local church.  Here are a few of my observations:

Windows are dirty & broken — Sometimes it’s hard for the church to see the needs of the hurting world around it.

No clear destination — Notice that there is nothing in the destination window (the small space above the front windshield) about where the church is going.

Of course there is no driver! This bus is lying dead in a lot. But who ought to be driving this bus?

There are, of course, some serious rust issues! Sometimes we get pretty settled in our ways, don’t we?

This bus is parked — it isn’t going anywhere! The leaders in the local church need to set a vision for the believers. They need to ponder where they have been — and where they are going, by God’s grace!

Of course, there are no passengers. Sometimes we minimize lower attendance numbers. And certainly God cares about the few. But He also cares about the MANY! We should not settle for a few souls, but go out into the highways and byways and compel the masses to come in!

By the way, did you notice that the door is still open? But very few would want to step foot inside this bus. There might be snakes in there! Much work needs to be done to attract others inside.

Your thoughts?


Posted by on October 28, 2018 in church health


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Church as a Rusted-Out Bus? A Metaphor . . .

We are not picking on the church, but when I took this picture of this old bus, I thought that some aspects of this picture suggest areas of the church that can improve.  I’ll re-post this picture in a couple of days with my thoughts.  (You might consider printing out this picture and having your Bible study or small group think about the needs and challenges of the local church).

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Posted by on October 25, 2018 in the church


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The Church as a Dilapidated Old House — Some Observations . . .

I am not looking to be particularly critical of the church. But this picture tells me there’s much work to do — in the local church!

Starting at the top left, the local church is often “greatly in need of repair.” Changes in leadership, in programs, in priorities might need to be seriously considered.

There are “plenty of windows,” but there appears to be no one home! How is the local church looking at the world, at its immediate neighborhood?

This house “looks dangerous — for all the wrong reasons.” One can get seriously hurt in this house with its many broken parts. There is, however, a good kind of danger in the local church, right?

There are “probably a lot of leaks (gossip?)” in this house. Gossip is lethal. Gossip is hearing something you like about someone you don’t. And it has no place in the local church!

What’s the “junk cluttering up the front porch” of the church? Pet doctrines? Overly indulged preferences? Cliques?

Did you notice that there seems to be “no people/no one living there’? When our numbers begin to dwindle in the local church, we should not be surprised that outsiders aren’t interested in joining us.

There appears to be a “fence to keep people out.” Fences can be good (especially regarding orthodox and heterodox doctrine). But there are things we do in our local churches that essentially put out a NOT WELCOME mat!

This house “needs a serious painting.” Not a whitewash. But some color, some protection from the elements, some scraping away of whatever contributes to its ugliness.

Well, that is my perspective. But don’t miss the note at the bottom: “there’s still hope! (no condemnation sign posted)”!

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Posted by on October 23, 2018 in the church


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The Church as a Dilapidated Old House — A Metaphor?

We saw this house on a trip from Augusta, Georgia. IF we think of the church, what aspects of this house remind us of the great amount of work we need to do (with the Lord’s help) in building local churches that glorify Him? Of course, He is building His universal church. But our local churches often suffer from a variety of challenges.

Suggestion:  Print copies of this picture and ask your Bible study or small group to draw arrows to places or problem areas that remind them of some of the needs of the local church.  I’m make some of my suggestions in a later post.

Last chance, friends: I just did a 40 minute webinar with my son Brian on “Seven Mistakes Writers Make.” You can see it below!

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Posted by on October 21, 2018 in church


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The Application of Scripture — Sometimes It IS about the Nail!

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Posted by on May 1, 2018 in problems


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TV commercials crack me up!  After watching the video above, please permit me a few comments.

Wouldn’t it be great if all our annoyances, all our difficulties, just disappeared?

I thought about this the other say when I was reminded of what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:

We’ll talk about this great text over the next several blogs, but a couple of questions for right now:

1. Why don’t we have Paul’s perspective on our difficulties, weaknesses, etc.?
2. How did God use Paul’s challenges in his life — theologically?


Posted by on August 9, 2012 in 2 Corinthians 12


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