Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Psalm 27: Wanting What's Right When You are Wronged

"When evil men advance against me...One thing..." (v2,4)

If you had an army of evil men out to "devour your flesh," if there was a plot against you to end you life, what would you want, what would you do. The response of the Psalmist here is significant and challenging. When you are being wronged, when a family member, a neighbor, a member of the body of Christ, or a co-worker has wronged you or in some way is out to get you, it is so easy to lose your way. It is so easy to drop the good things that you have been doing; things that protect your heart and nurture your soul. It is so easy to meditate on evil and forget what is good, true, beauty, and wholesome.

Perhaps losing your way for you means that you allow your mind to be consumed with playing the DVD in your brain over and over again of what that person said or did. Perhaps it means allowing yourself to give way to the fears of what in the world could happen next. Maybe losing your way means fantasizing ways in which you could settle the score; you know, the things that you would like to say and do to that person that would make them hurt the way they have hurt you. Maybe losing your way means that you allow your hurt and dismay to take you away from good habits of personal devotion and ministry. Or sadly, perhaps losing your way means beginning to doubt God, his promises, his presence, and his love.

I wish I could say that, in the face of mistreatment, I had never lost my way, but I can't. I was a young pastor. I was doing everything that I could to grow and exercise the teaching gift that God had given me. But there was a critical man in our congregation who seemed never to be satisfied. One evening he came to me and said, "Paul, your preaching in killing us!" Now, these are happy words for a young pastor to hear. I said, "Well, what do you suggest?" He handed me a set of tapes and said, "I suggest you listen to these." Naively, I said, "And what do you think I should get out of the tapes?" He said, "Just mimic the preacher on the tapes, that will be better than what we have been getting."

I don't think I realized how hurt I was. I know I did think I had lost my way. But the very next Sunday, when I got up to speak and looked out at the congregation, everyone's head was the normal size, except for my critical friend. To me his head looked to be the size of a fully-inflated beach ball. I seemed unable to ignore his reactions. It seemed impossible to avoid his critical gaze. I think I hated that man and I know I was determined to do anything I could to convince him that I was a good preacher. I was no longer preaching to honor God and his calling. I was no longer preaching for the spiritual benefit of the congregation. I was no longer working to prepare content that was true to the text, I was preparing content that I thought would finally silence my enemy in the fifth pew.

But my preaching got worse. I was fearful and nervous. I stumbled over my words. I was not confident with my content. I was a mess and I was increasingly discouraged. I didn't know it, but in my hurt and distress, I had run from the Lord rather than to him. I thought winning would heal my heart, but my heart would only be healed, confident, and satisfied when it was filled with the love of the Lord. The acceptance of this man would never be achieved and if it were, it would not satisfy my heart.

At the end of the morning service one Sunday, I noticed the oldest lady in our congregation hanging around, waiting to talk. I waited until the crowd had cleared and ask her what she wanted. She said, "Paul, I don't want to talk about me, I want to talk about you. Over the last few weeks I have become concerned about your preaching. You have lost all of your confidence. I have become convinced that someone has gotten to you and that you are preaching to please that person and not the Lord." I couldn't believe what I was hearing! then she said, "Monday you get up, forget that person, and study God's Word and then you preach what God has given you with confidence and joy or we're all in trouble." And she turned and walked out of the church.

At that moment I knew she was right. In the face of mistreatment, I had lost my way. I had not run to the Lord. I had not allowed my heart to be healed by his grace and my confidence to be restored by his presence. I had decided I would beat my "enemy" at his game. I had decided that I would win. And it left me with a empty heart and a mouth that was unable.

I did get up that Monday morning and confess my sin. And I did enter that next Sunday with excitement at the truths that God had given me to share. And it was not long before my critical friend had left the church.

I would ask you one question, "When you are wrong, where do you run?" There is only one place where your heart can be healed, restored, satisfied, and protected. It won't be healed by winning human wars. It won't be satisfied in human acceptance. It won't be restored when you have meted out vengeance. It will only be filled, satisfied, and at rest when it is filled with the beauty of the Lord.

14 Comments:

At 9:14 AM, Blogger james3v1 said...

You need something more than a spam comment for this post.

Thank you for writing this. It was exactly the Word I needed from God through this Psalm this morning.

May God continue to bless your ministry!

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous another blogger said...

Paul, I came to your site tonight, hoping to find something that might uplift me, as I was feeling discouraged due to a few unkind/insensitive people at our church. I hadn't been at your site in approximately 4 months, so I'm sure it was the Holy Spirit prompting me to come here tonight. When I read this post of yours, it ministered to me as balm to a disheartened soul. Thank you for honestly sharing as you do...your ministry is truly a blessing.

 
At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you.

 
At 7:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pastor Paul,

Thank you for this word it is from God to me.

Please continue to allow God to use you, because it's not just for you it's for those who maybe dying in this walk of faith.

God bless you and your ministry!

 
At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Morning, I needed to read this. There are so many things in my life that are not right and I know they are because of negative people. I feel like they eat at you until there is nothing beautiful inside of you left. But that change starts with my soul connection with God. May God give you as many blessings as you have bestowed upon us.

 
At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to say that in reading your story, I think you might have seen things through some hurt colored glasses. I love to listen to Les Feldick. I love the way he preaches the Grace message and I am a dispensational believer. None of the churches that in our area preach this way and oh, my soul sometimes struggles with it. You saw this man as an enemy, but maybe he was just a hurt man who was looking for someone to talk to his soul. Why did you have to see him as an enemy and more to the point, why didn't you go talk to him to find out what he liked about this other preacher and what he needed. I hate to make you think I'm saying you were "all about you up in here", but I have walked out of so many churches because they don't preach Grace, they preach works. Works should come after salvation as a work of The Holy Spirit, but for people who have been abused as children, esp in churches--certain types of messages can feel like what I call "beating the sheep". Now, I don't know if you do that or not, but I was raised in a Baptist church and I have walked out of Baptists, Christian Churches and tomorrow's Sunday and I don't know how I'm going to go sit at the Methodist Church. I don't even know why I am writing this as you probably won't understand a word I am saying. I was looking because my little sister cut off our entire family, accused my dad of being a child molester(which is patently untrue), and has refused to allow us to ever see her two children. My dad lost the will to fight his heart disease and is now gone. Her in-laws, the man is supposedly some kind of preacher from the Moody Bible College won't talk to us, just told us that she's not my sister anymore and not my parents daughter anymore-judged us with no evidence. I'm angry, hurt and well, I don't even know if you can imagine. So, this guy had his own issue and caused you to have a crisis of confidence. Try looking at your dad lying on the guerney, eyes gone from blue to the glassy green of the sea and still twitching as his brain is dying and getting nothing but the cold shoulder and being called the "n" word by your sister-her new husband is a white supremacist. Now let's try talking about being wronged again.

 
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At 10:14 PM, Blogger Bill Alonso said...

This is just what I needed I was just wronged by a friend anti cost me my job. Thank you so much for the post it helps a lot

Psalms 55:12 Indeed, it is not an enemy who insults me, or else I could bear it; it is not one who hates me who arrogantly taunts me, or else I could hide from him.

Psalms 55:13 But it is you, a man like me, my close friend in whom I confided.

Psalms 55:14 We would share personal thoughts with each other; in God's temple we would walk together among the crowd.

Psalms 38:8 I am numb with pain and severely battered; I groan loudly because of the anxiety I feel.

Thank you may God bless

 
At 10:15 PM, Blogger Bill Alonso said...

This is just what I needed I was just wronged by a friend anti cost me my job. Thank you so much for the post it helps a lot

Psalms 55:12 Indeed, it is not an enemy who insults me, or else I could bear it; it is not one who hates me who arrogantly taunts me, or else I could hide from him.

Psalms 55:13 But it is you, a man like me, my close friend in whom I confided.

Psalms 55:14 We would share personal thoughts with each other; in God's temple we would walk together among the crowd.

Psalms 38:8 I am numb with pain and severely battered; I groan loudly because of the anxiety I feel.

Thank you may God bless

 
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