Monday, January 31, 2011

Are you a "LADDER" or an "ADDER"?

I told you in my last posting of hearing a message by Ed Young Jr who said that when you are in the pit of betrayal, instead of asking "Why me?" you should instead ask the question of the Lord, "What now?" But I remember one other aspect of that message. Ed Young Jr asked this question,

"Are you a LADDER or an ADDER?"

In other words, when God brings across your life someone who is in the pit of betrayal, what do you become to them? Do you become a LADDER for them or do you become an ADDER to them?

A LADDER is someone whose response to those in the pit of betrayal is one that offers support, encouragement, and most of all - hope! You become a LADDER for that person, helping them to crawl out of that pit they are in, brush off the dirt, and move forward. Like the Good Samaritan Jesus told about, you are the one whose words can bandage the open wounds of their heart and allow them to see the fingerprints of God that are still in their life.

An ADDER, on the other hand, does just the opposite. An ADDER responds in such a way that just ADDS to the hurt, pain and disparity of the person in the pit of betrayal. ADDERS accept as truth and pass on as fact whatever story they have heard, without taking the time to get both sides of the story. ADDERS spread gossip about the person in the pit. ADDERS judge the motives of the person in the pit. ADDERS can be like the friends of Job who came to console him but really only ADDED to his grief.

So, do you know someone who is in the pit of betrayal? Tell me, have you been a LADDER for them or more of an ADDER to them? If you are a pastor or ministry leader that is currently in the pit of betrayal, than my prayer for you is that God would send someone who is a LADDER into your life and protect you from the many ADDERS who are out there.

Be sure to read my other blog entitled "Folks, Listen" at You can also leave a comment on this blog or email me directly at

Friday, January 28, 2011

"WHY ME?" or "WHAT NOW?"

A few years back I heard Ed Young Jr, who pastors Fellowship Church down in Texas, speak about the pit of betrayal. As I said in my posting yesterday, no hurt goes deeper than the wounds caused by betrayal. Imagine you are Joseph. Your own brothers have assaulted you and thrown you into a dark, lonely pit. Your future is now in question. What do you say to God from inside that pit? Most people would ask a very simply two-word question:


"Why me, Lord? Why did you allow this to happen to me? Why did you let this hurt and adversity come into my life? Why me, Lord?" And if you find yourself in a pit of betrayal that occurred within your ministry, you might be finding yourself asking God the same question, "Why me, Lord?"

But Ed Young Jr's message still resonates within my heart. He said that "Why Me?" is the wrong two-word question. Instead, when we find ourselves scarred and bruised after being pushed into the pit of ministry betrayal (or any other kind of betrayal) we should ask this two-word question:


"What now, Lord? What are you working on behind the scenes that I don't even know about yet? What great plan for me are you fulfilling through these difficult times? What now, Lord?" After all, remember these passages?

"And we know that God causes all things (even the pit of betrayal) to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (even the pit of betrayal); knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." (James 1:2-3)

If you find yourself today in the pit of betrayal, don't ask God, "WHY ME?" Instead ask Him, "WHAT NOW?"

Be sure to read my other blog entitled "Folks, Listen" at You can also leave a comment on this blog or email me directly at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Pit of Betrayal

I am sure that you are very familiar with the Old Testament story of Joseph found in Genesis 37. In short, Joseph gets betrayed by his own brothers who assault him, throw him into a pit, sell him into slavery, and then convince their father that he was killed by a wild animal. What would cause these siblings to resort to such an act of hatred? The answer is JEALOUSY! Genesis 37:11 makes this very clear when it says:

"His brothers were jealous of him!"

What would produce such jealousy in these brother's hearts and lives? I answered that question in three postings last week in my other blog entitled, "Folks, Listen." You can use the link below and go to that blog and find three reasons that caused such jealousy towards Joseph. You will find them in my blog postings on January 19, 20 and 21. Again, the link is:

If you are a hurting pastor reading this posting, then chances are very good that you know what the inside of the Pit of Betrayal looks like. You also know that few hurts go deeper than the wounds caused by betrayal. Over the next few blogs postings here at "Hope For Hurting Pastors" I am going to share some principles about the Pit of Betrayal that can be learned from the story of Joseph. I hope you will come back as I post a new article each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Need #5 When Facing Your Giant - CELEBRATION Of God

Today is the final post in this series on facing your giants from the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. We have seen 4 qualities of David that we must also possess if we are going to face the ministry and personal giants in our lives. They are:

COURAGE for God!

Now we are ready to see the 5th and final need:


After David strikes Goliath with the rock and he falls to the ground, David takes Goliath's own sword and cuts off his head (Why didn't they put that part in the kids song we learned in Children's Church?). We then learn in chapter 18 that David takes Goliath's weapons and puts them in his own tent. Why would David do that? I believe it was so that he always had a physical reminder that no giant could ever come into his life that God could not conquer. David would begin every day when he awakened by looking at those weapons and celebrating the goodness and victories of God.

A few years back I had the thrill of visiting the Holy Land and standing in the Valley of Elah. We walked over to the stream that would have been nearby (it was dry when we there) where David would have selected his ammunition. There I picked up 5 stones of my own. I keep them on the bookshelf in my office so that every time I see them I am reminded that God is bigger than any giant that comes into my life or ministry. This allows me to celebrate in my God.

So if there is a giant that you are facing in your ministry - a problem or person that seems insurmountable, that always seems to be there, and that is causing your heart to fear, go ahead and celebrate in advance. In the end, whatever that looks like, God will work all things together for good!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Need #4 When Facing Your Giant - COURAGE For God

Having COMMUNICATION with God, COMMITMENT to God, and CONFIDENCE in God, David goes out to face Goliath in a one-on-one, winner take all death match in the Valley of Elah. This shows the fourth characteristic of David that we must have if we are going to face our personal and ministry giants. David had COURAGE for God.

Before going out to the valley, David first goes down to a nearby stream with his only weapon, a slingshot, and selects some ammunition - 5 smooth stones. But why 5 stones? Was he afraid he might miss a few times at first? I don't think so. The Bible teaches us elsewhere that Goliath had 4 brothers. I think the other 4 stones David picked up was his way of being prepared in case they should seek revenge for their fallen sibling.

If you grew up in the church, do you remember the song?

And one little stone went in the sling
And the sling went round and round
And one little stone went in the sling
And the sling went round and round
And round and round and round and round
And round and round and round
And one little stone went up in the air
And the giant came tumbling down

And that is exactly what happened. But I love what verse 48 says about the battle. it says,

"David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine."

Did you get that? David ran toward the giant. Now that's courage. Quit running away from your giant. Face your giant head on. Be courageous. God is truly bigger than any giant!

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Need #3 When Facing Your Giant - CONFIDENCE In God

David had COMMUNICATION with God. David had COMMITMENT to God. But the third quality that David had that allowed him to face Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 was CONFIDENCE in God.

After hearing Goliath mock and taunt Israel, David confidently asks what would be done for the man who fights the giant. He learns that the king has promised to anyone who would fight Goliath and win, his own daughter as a wife and a lifetime exemption for he and his family from all taxes (the way things are going today, that tax exemption part may have even prompted me to take a whack at the Giant!).

David had confidence in God. But that is not how his words were received by his brothers. His oldest brother, Eliab, scolds David harshly. That shouldn't be too surprising. The truth is that whenever you confidently step forward to do what you are convinced God has put in your heart, you will face opposition. And often, that opposition will come from those closest to you. I personally believe that Eliab's real problem was jealousy. Remember, he was the one who thought he should have been anointed King of Israel when the Prophet Samuel came to their house. But instead Samuel anointed David. And as the oldest brother, if anyone from the family was going to fight Goliath it should have been him. Perhaps he thought David was making him look bad.

Word of David's confidence soon reached the ears of the king and King Saul calls for David. But when he sees David he calls him "just a boy." But even the words of King Saul could not discourage David. This lad responds by telling the king of the time God gave him the strength to kill a lion and a bear that were threatening his father's sheep. David goes on to say that he was sure that God would allow him to kill Goliath as well. That's confidence!

Saul finally agrees and tries to put his own armor on David. This may be one of the funniest pictures in the Bible. Scripture teaches that Saul was the tallest man in Israel - David was just a lad. David must have been one sorry sight standing their drenched in Saul's armor. Finally, he confidently convinces the king to let him fight Goliath just as he was. And with confidence in God you can face your giant just as you are too.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Need #2 When Facing Your Giant - COMMITMENT To God

In our last post we saw from the story of David and Goliath that the first need we have when facing our own ministry giants is COMMUNICATION with God. Today we see the second need which is a COMMITMENT to God.

In Samuel 17, David is sent by his father to check on his brothers who are off at battle. When he arrives he sees and hears Goliath the great giant. For the army of Israel and David's older brothers, it is about the 80th time they have had to endure the taunts of this massive Philistine champion. But for David, this is his first exposure to Goliath.

It is interesting as you read the text closely. It says that Israel "saw" Goliath. They were focused on his size. But David "heard" the giant. He wasn't preoccupied with the massive size of this man, he was focused on what Goliath was saying as he defied the armies of God. And frankly, this made David mad. His commitment to God was so strong that no one - not even a 10ft tall giant - was going to mock Jehovah. David replies in verse 26,

"Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?"

You see, if you are going to face the personal and ministry giants that are in your life, you must be far more committed to God than you are to yourself. Is it about you or is it about God? A commitment to God is paramount if you are going to face your giants!

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Need #1 When Facing Your Giant - COMMUNICATION With God

We all have giants in our lives and ministries. Over the last 3 posts we have described what they are like. But the bigger question is, "How do we face our giants?" As the story of David and Goliath continues in 1 Samuel 17 we see the first of five needs we must have in our lives if we are going to face our giants and that first need is COMMUNICATION with God.

As the story opens in 1 Samuel 17 we learn that David was the youngest of 8 brothers. As a young man, what did David spend most of his time doing? He was a shepherd charged with watching over his father's sheep. And what do you suppose David did during all those lonely hours on the hillsides of Bethlehem as he watched the flock? He spent a lot of that time talking to and worshipping God.

Have you ever wondered why when every fighting man in Israel, right up to King Saul, was scared spit-less of Goliath, David was not? What did David have that they did not? David had an intimate and growing relationship with the God of Israel. You see, my friend, before you can ever be ready to face the giants in your own personal Valley of Elah, you must first have spent time alone with God on your own personal hills of Bethlehem.

In order to face your giants you must be spending time alone with God in prayer, worship and the study of His Word - not for sermons but for yourself. Nothing else will be able to give you the courage you will ultimately need when you come against your giant face-to-face. Your first need in order to face the giants in your life and ministry is communication with God. Never underestimate the power and preparation that comes from spending time alone with God.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Giants Create INSECURITY

Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 can be described in three ways. First, he seemed INSURMOUNTABLE (see my January 7th posting). Standing somewhere around 10 feet tall, Goliath was huge and he was strong - seemingly invincible. Second, he was INSISTENT (see my January 10th posting) meaning that he never went away - he was always there. Now we see the third characteristic - Goliath the giant created INSECURITY.

1 Samuel 17 describes Israel's response to this giant as being "dismayed and greatly afraid." Verse 23 makes an interesting description. It says that on what appeared to be day 41 of the stand-off, Goliath was "coming up" from the Philistines. Now go back and reread my January 5th posting. Remember, the Philistines were on one slope and Israel on another slope, with the Valley of Elah in between them. If Goliath was walking from the Philistine camp into the valley, wouldn't it say that he was "coming down" from the Philistines as opposed to "coming up?"

I believe that "coming up" means that Goliath walked all the way down the slope from the Philistine camp; walked all the way across the mile or so wide valley; and then actually began to walk up the slope toward the Israel camp as he shouted his taunting challenge. And what was the result on the soldiers of Israel? Verse 24 says that when they saw Goliath they "fled from him and were greatly afraid." You see, that's exactly what giants do. They take more and more ground in your life by producing more and more fear in your heart.

So, are you facing a giant in your life or in your ministry? Is there a person or a problem that seems insurmountable and that has become the first thing you think about every morning and the last thing you think about when you crawl into bed at night? Are you facing a giant that keeps taking more and more ground in your life by causing you more and more fear in your heart? Then be sure to follow this series of posts as we next look at 5 steps to taken when facing a giant!

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Giants are INSISTENT

What do giants look like? From the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 we are looking at three descriptions of giants then and now. We saw in the last post that giants seem INSURMOUNTABLE. Today we see that giants are also INSISTENT. In other words - they never go away!

Goliath the great giant of the Philistines did not simply make his taunting speech in which he challenged Israel to send out a warrior to fight him on one occasion. He did it every day - and not just every day. He came down into that valley every morning and every evening for 40 consecutive days. Every morning when Saul's forces awakened - Goliath was there. Every night as they lay their heads down in their tents - Goliath was still there. At least 80 times they had to watch him and listen to him. It appeared that this giant was not going away anytime soon.

So are you facing a giant in your life and/or ministry? Is their a person or a problem that seems to be completely insurmountable and that has become the very first thing you think about every morning and the last thing that is on your mind when you crawl into bed each night? Are you facing a giant that seems like it is never going to leave? Tomorrow we will look at one final description of giants and then we will begin to uncover the 5 steps you must take to face those giants in your life and ministry.

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Friday, January 7, 2011


In the last posting we set up the story of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17. From this story we can see three characteristics of giants. First, Giants seem INSURMOUNTABLE.

The very name "Goliath" means "great." And great Goliath was, at least from a physical standpoint. The Bible says that he stood "six cubits and a span." Now when you read that I doubt many of you let out an audible, "Ohhh" or "Ahhh." Why? Because you probably have no idea what a cubit or a span is. Let me help you get the reality of the situation.

In today's culture we consider anyone over 6 foot to be a tall person. At the time of my writing this posting the tallest player in the NBA stands 7 feet/6 inches tall. The tallest man in the world comes in at roughly 8 feet/5 inches. But using these Biblical measurements, Goliath would have beat both of them standing somewhere in between 9 feet/9 inches tall and 10 feet/6 inches.

And he wasn't just tall - he was also strong. His armor alone, as described in 1 Samuel 17, weighed between 175-200 pounds and just the head of his massive spear weighed 25 pounds. To the fighting men of Israel, Goliath - all 10 feet of him - appeared to be insurmountable.

Does that sound like a giant your facing in your life or ministry? Are you looking up at an obstacle, be it a problem or a person, that seems insurmountable? Take heart! In my next few postings we will see two more descriptions of giants and then 5 steps that we can take to face those giants that are in our lives and ministries.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What Do Ministry Giants Look Like?

Gettysburg, PA is one of my most favorite places to visit. Back on the first three days of July in 1863, the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil took place during the days of the Civil War. To go to Gettysburg and stand at those infamous sites - Little Round Top; The Wheatfield; The Orchard; Devils' Den; and the High Water Mark, always puts chills up and down my spine as I reflect on the thousands of Americans who died in those spots.

But as much as I love to visit Gettysburg, my favorite battlefield in the world to visit is actually the Valley of Elah over in Israel. It was there, that though two armies met, only two individuals actually fought. It is from this battle that we learn how to face giants in our lives and in our ministries yet today.

On either side of the Valley of Elah is a slope. On one slope camped the army of Israel led by King Saul. On the opposite slope was their arch enemy, the Philistines who boasted a warrior - his name was Goliath. 1 Samuel 17 calls him their "champion." This is a word that describes one who "stands in the middle" and that is exactly what Goliath did. He would walk down the slope where the Philistines were encamped, into the middle of the valley, and there he would taunt the army of Israel, challenging them to send down their best warrior for a one-on-one, winner take all battle.

And from the case of Goliath we see three descriptions of giants then and now. As you keep reading these next series of postings you may discover that your own personal giants are an awful lot like Goliath was. But take heart - you will also learn how to face those giants.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

The Final Step Out Of THE CAVE - RECEIVE Refreshment From A Friend

Back on December 13th I started the first of 10 blog postings on what I call THE CAVE (the place where ministry becomes misery) as seen in the life of the Old Testament Prophet, Elijah. After introducing THE CAVE, we saw three principles about THE CAVE; we saw four aspects of life in THE CAVE; and now we are closing this series of postings with the fourth of four steps out of THE CAVE. We have already seen the first three steps:

REST Your Physical Body!
RENEW Your Spiritual Passion!
RETURN To Your Place Of Service!

And now comes the fourth and final step:

RECEIVE Refreshment From A Friend!

For Elijah, this involved the man who would be his successor, Elisha. In 1 Kings 19:19, the Bible says,

"So he (Elijah) departed...and found Elisha!"

And what does Elisha do for Elijah? He ministers to him. He brings to him some much needed refreshment. I love the ending of 1 Kings 19:21 which says,

"Then he (Elisha) arose and followed Elijah and ministered to Him."

WOW! Now that is powerful. Elijah finally comes out of THE CAVE and one of the biggest reasons why is because God brought into his life a friend who ministered to him during his hurt. We shouldn't be surprised by this. It is a pattern in Scripture:

Jesus had Lazarus, Mary and Martha!
David had Jonathan!
Paul had Timothy!

Who do you have? Who has God brought into your life to minister to you and bring you refreshment? Accept it! Receive it! I was talking to a pastor who had gone through some very serious ministry hurts. He was still in his same position but there were many men that he considered at one time to be very close friends that turned on him, betrayed him, and abandoned him. But in spite of this, he told me about one man in the church who remained his "true, blue friend" - his "Elisha" - and what an incredible encouragement this man had been to him during the storm.

As I think of my own experience inside THE CAVE, I'm not sure that I would have survived had it not been for the refreshment of friends. Mine and my wife's closest friends were a couple who absolutely wrapped their arms around us, cried with us, prayed with us, encouraged us, ministered to us, poured into us and loved on us. There was another friend who bought me breakfast every single week and allowed me to just talk and who encouraged me daily. He and his wife became such a blessing to us during that time. There were pastor friends and friends from previous ministries who made contact with us and encouraged us. And their were literally hundreds of cards, emails, calls and visits from people within our church who showered us with love and encouragement after my resignation.

I truly believe that God brings an Elisha into every ministry life. I believe you have a friend like this. If not, I believe God will provide one for you - just ask Him to do so! The final step out of THE CAVE is just that - to RECEIVE the refreshment of a friend! And by the way, Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother!

Come enjoy life - enjoy ministry - outside of THE CAVE!

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