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My Constant Temptation (is to just check out)

November 17, 2019

My constant temptation is to simply check out. Cash it in, retire, unplug, disconnect, disappear into the Smoky Mountains with Melissa and a Bible and have no idea who becomes President in the next election. The troubled state of the world, our unsettled country and divisions within my denomination make me sad. Not mad, just sad. The kind of sad you feel when you take your ball and go home. The unavoidable vitriol and violence encapsulating us 24/7/365 erodes my soul and spirit. I am tired.

And then I remember that I was called by God…drafted if you will. Perhaps I will one day be released but I can’t quit. Not now. Not today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. Perhaps what God has invested in me is in some small way needed now…in these troubling times. Perhaps everything God has done in my life has been “for such a time as this.” Perhaps doing ministry right now is the reason for which I was created. Perhaps.

So here I stand. Planted firmly. Refusing to let this world rob me of joy, laughter or the simple pleasures of nature, friends and family. Truly desiring to do no harm, to do all the good I can and stay in love with God. And I will stand tomorrow and the next day. And the day after that. I will boldly stand on the accomplishment of Christ and the hope He brings. He is the only hope we have. He is the only hope we need.

I am so ready for the holidays this year. Thanksgiving is next week but I am especially excited about Christmas. I need Christmas this year. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to Men. Christmas Eve services. Angels. Shepherds. Mary. Joseph. Baby Jesus. Hark the herald! Joy to the World! That kind of stuff! That is exactly what I need!

As we enter the “most wonderful time of the year” don’t forget to say a prayer for healing and peace…and for God to raise up healers and peacemakers. And don’t be so glued to this earth that you neglect to look up. Look up and see the Christmas star blazing in the night sky and angels announcing to our troubled world that Christ is born…born in you and in me!

Peace dear friends and don’t give in to hopelessness, fear and despair. God has this. God has you. You are of value, you matter and you are loved. And most of all, remember that here is hope in Christ. Always has been. Always will be. Hope is the one thing Christmas refuses to allow us to forget…

Come Lord Jesus come.

Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois

12 Comments
  1. Shane, I was once “lost but now I’m found.” I was one of those who was outside the church, driving by, seeing people at lunch, feeling like everyone knew I hadn’t been to church, judging others myself before they could judge me. I thought Christians thought they were better because they went to church. Truth was, I was afraid to walk through the doors, afraid they would reject me. Once I did, and began to experience God, and entered seminary, I still did not like (and didn’t think necessary) the traditional question “have you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior?” I did not like blood and sacrifice language. (I had been through enough sacrifice and believed that language had been used oppressively.) I needed to know God’s unfailing love. I didn’t like or agree with a lot of our traditional language, much of what is being rejected by others now (language of blood, sacrifice, paying the price for our sin, Father, only Son, salvation, sin, Savior, Lord, The Way,…) and others were easy to ignore completely or join with our denomination in calling weird because we didn’t understand (Holy Spirit). But… I am grateful, oh so grateful, that people who have been in the Holy Place and have experienced the Holy of Holies, kept witnessing to the truth of the One and the Truth they know. I am grateful, oh so grateful for saints throughout the centuries of our faith who wrote and testified of their experience of God, and all before them who God worked through to give us a written testimony of God’s working of salvation from the beginning of creation. I am grateful, oh so grateful, that they didn’t give up when they were being persecuted and stoned, imprisoned, rejected, and martyred for their faith, when the world around them was antagonistic and angry about their faith, like the Christians even now in other countries who risk life to worship. Because now, I am found. Now that language is my language and that faith, all of it, is my language and faith. Now I get it because now I see. I see what I couldn’t see when I was standing outside. I see Jesus, and the Father, and the Throne and I know Holy Spirit and I see and hear the saints and angels gathered around the throne crying Holy, Holy, Holy, Worthy is the Lamb! So while it is not popular and is often the target of rejection and anger in our denomination and in American culture, I am grateful for those who held and gave witness to the language and faith. I am grateful for the communities of faithful outside our denomination who see and know and witness and encourage us. I am grateful that when we stay faithful, God confirms His word with signs and wonders, and miracles, physical, emotional, spiritual healing, the experience of the Holy Spirit, deliverance, Divine encounters, guidance and revelation, miraculous and gracious provision. There is persecution now, but we know that sin leads to suffering and death, and people will be, are, looking for a Savior. So keep the faith, keep encouraged, because there are people out there who may be judging you now because they think you are judging them, but one day they will be looking for that well-worn path that has been trod to the cleft in the Rock, where there is enough fresh bread and Living Water for all who will come. One day they will see and know that God’s word is really true and all that language of our faith is really about a Holy, passionate Lover of our Souls that is far greater than we can imagine. Jesus said to expect this time. Count it joy, Paul says, because the Spirit of Glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. Peace and thank you for staying in love with God and with the world even when the world doesn’t understand this love or extend love in return.

  2. Than you. I needed to hear this today. You’ve encouraged me with a sharper focus this morning. Just what I needed. God bless you.

  3. Mike Loomis permalink

    Shane, thank you so much! I have been needing this reminder.

  4. Fred Duncan permalink

    Yes. As a 64 year old, 25 years in ministry, and close to retirement, I too needed to hear this. Thank you for giving me some encouragement just in time for Christmas.

  5. Rhoda Howell permalink

    Your words helped today. I think many of us, are struggling with the feelings, emotions and our call. Thank you. Praying that the hope of Christmas quiets the other non-hopeful, non-helpful noise of the world for each of us today.

  6. Dori Evans permalink

    Never lose sight of the fact that you and every bible teaching, Christ centered committed pastor has a host of prayer warriors lifting you daily. I’m one of them.

  7. Penny LB permalink

    I needed this. Thank you.

  8. Ashley permalink

    Thank you for sharing- God is speaking through you with these words of wisdom, love, hope and peace. Praying for our Methodist Churches and all our pastors to stay strong, persevere, and continue to teach Gods complete and Holy word. Sin has come knocking and pounding at our faithful doors and although a lot have opened these doors, I’m thankful for the ones who are standing strong and faithful against these attacks. Thank you for serving in love and may Gods will be done🙏🏻

  9. David lee permalink

    Amen

  10. David lee permalink

    Amen

  11. Diane Saylor permalink

    This is beautiful, Amen

  12. Thanks for writing this. It good to know others feel the same way and still are moving forward, looking to the Lord as they do.

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