Following Like a Child

November 23, 2011

It is fascinating having a one year old around the house. I am amazed at all the things he does. Babies really do change so much in that first year of life. My son is 14 months old now and he is into everything! He walks pretty much anywhere he wants. He can go up and down the stairs. He wants to push the boundaries and see how far he can get before we tell him not to do something or redirect his attention.

For many people that attitude does not change. We try to push the boundaries of our lives. We want to see how far we can get before someone tells us no. Sometimes that can be a good thing. We push the boundaries of typical thinking until we come up with something new that will help human kind.

Other times, pushing our boundaries is not as good. We want to see how much we can get away with before God steps in and attempts to redirect us. When God gives a command in the Bible we may read it and think, “Yes but how close can I get to that before it is wrong?”

We may think well “God promised He would provide a way out of sin just look at 1 Corinthians 10:13!” That may be true. But for the recovering alcoholic perhaps the way out should not be when he gets to the bar but rather the ability to say no to friends when they ask him out.

I feel like sometimes we get so close to sin just to prove that we can, like we are more of a Christian because we were able to say no to the sin even though the temptation was at it’s strongest.

This is not the life that God has desired for us! I would like to watch my son play and see him go nowhere near the things he is not supposed to touch. It does not bring me great joy when he reaches out for it with fingers almost touching it as he turns around to see if I am looking. Then he pulls his hand back and shakes his head no, as if he has just then made the decision it is bad to touch and he thinks I should hop on board.

Do not get me wrong, I am not trying to be legalistic and tell you to make a rule to keep you from breaking God’s law and then another rule to keep you from breaking your own rule. But we should want to please God so much that we stay as far away from breaking his laws as possible. If breaking God’s law is falling off a cliff, then we should stay as far away from that cliff as possible, not see how close we can get to death.

There is so much on this side of life for us to enjoy and experience that God has designed for us! Let’s enjoy it!

Last imagery for today using my son, I promise. When I come home for the day, Noah is usually playing in the living room. As I walk around, doing all the things I do when I get home, he leaves what he has been doing and follows me. He follows me in the kitchen, into the living room, as close to the bathroom as he can. It does not matter where I am going, he just wants to be with me and he wants to be like me.

This is going to continue. He is going to imitate me in good and bad. I need to make sure that my life is worthy of being imitated, because whether it is or not, the chances are, this boy is going to grow up to be a lot like me. That is why I want to live a life that is pleasing before God.

May that be our desire as well. Rather than trying to get as close to sin as possible, may we follow our heavenly Father wherever He leads. May we desire to be like Him so much, that we imitate His movements and lovingly do as He asks.

How do you show God everyday that you love Him? Is there someone who imitates you? How are you leading them to Christ?

Teaching Right Things

November 22, 2011

I have a question. Who here likes to be right? I’m imagining a classroom full of people from all ages and all kinds of backgrounds raising their hands. When it comes right down to it, I think we all like to be right. None of us (hopefully) would make the claim that we just love to be wrong. “I go through life just trying to get everything wrong. Gives me such a rush!” That line of thinking just does not make sense.

We have groups of people who believe they are completely right and everyone else is 100% wrong. This happens politically, religiously, even in the way the people decide to parent their children. Don’t think that this does not happen under the Christian umbrella. For instance, Mormons would say that they are Christian. In fact on the show sister wives (of course I was only watching it because my wife wanted to, not for my own enjoyment. There got that out of the way) someone told them they were not Christians and one of the wives said she had wanted to scream back, “Yes we are!” However, for most of the Christian community we would look at their lives and say they were not, according the the revelation given to us by God… not Joseph Smith.

Different denominations argue over what is right and wrong. It is amazing to me how many differing ideas there are out there!

This makes it very intimidating for someone who teaches the Bible. Not just because there are so many differing ideas but also because James 3:1 says, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” Stricter judgment?! James goes on to say how what we say and even what we do (“able to bridle the whole body as well”) is extremely important!

Teachers have a large influence over their students. When a bad teacher is present, sometimes even great students struggle to get the right answers. This is why as a teachers of the Bible we need to be very careful in the things we say and how we live.

I have been doing some thinking about this passage and I believe it refers to more than just Preachers, Youth Ministers, Associate Ministers, or Worship Ministers. This passage alludes to all who teach: Elders, Deacons, Sunday School Teachers, and Parents. All of these roles require that we teach the Word of God to the current and next generation.

So what should we be doing? We should be checking our lives to make sure they are in sync with God’s Word. This requires that we are reading our Bibles. We should be in community with other believers. This will help us talk about the things we are reading or hearing on Sunday morning. The more we talk about it the more answers to questions we are likely to have.

Take this responsibility seriously. Nothing is more important than our standing with God and right up there on the list is how we are passing on what He says. I know that people have been studying the Scriptures for a long time and still cannot agree upon everything. Try studying it without your preconceived ideas (I know that is not easy)  and see what God really has to say, and maybe not just what your parent’s or teachers have always told you.

Being a teacher is so rewarding, but it is also a huge responsibility. Look at it as such and may God bless you as you seek Him out.

Who is it that you teach? What are you doing to ensure you are teaching right things?

Why Men Hate Going to Church is a book that is about that exact topic. No hidden meanings to be found here. David Murrow spends time in this book discussing what he calls the “gender gap.” In a majority of Churches around the world (although he focuses mostly on the problem in the USA) there is a surplus of women and a shortage of men. In the first section of the book Murrow sets up the problem. He takes 6 chapters to assure the readers that there is in fact a gender gap. He comes to the conclusion that the missing men are mostly between the ages of 18-35 and they are single. They are outgoing masculine type men. Then He spends the next 8 chapters explaining why they are gone. He brings up problems from feminine music in our churches to the fear of becoming womanly. Finally, in the last 11 chapters Murrow discusses how he thinks we can bring men back to the church and get them excited about growing and inviting their friends.

This book was spectacular! From the moment I saw the title on Booksneeze.com (where I got this book for free) I was sucked in. I have been considering starting some sort of program to attract men to our church so I thought this book would be perfect. It was even better than I thought. I would challenge you to find your man to woman ratio in your congregation. Look for songs this week that seem to be bringing to the singers “into the bedroom with Jesus.” Find masculine images around the building or illustrations in the Preacher’s sermons. Not as many as you thought? Read this book! Murrow has convinced me that when we get the men back, our churches will grow and thrive as they have not been doing for some time now. Jesus spoke to the men and the church grew in the beginning. Also in this book Murrow makes sure to point out that the point is not to phase out women. It is not to say that they are not important. Instead he is just pointing out that there are a lot of men who do not come to church and he has some ideas to get them in.

My little boy wears his emotions on his sleeve. There is absolutely no hiding how he feels. When he is sad, he makes sure that either my wife or I know. If one of us has made him upset, he makes sure the other one knows.

It also works that way when he gets excited. He tucks his elbows into the sides of his chest, clenches his hands into fists, opens his eyes really wide and bears his teeth. There is no hiding his great excitement. Not only does his very obviously show it on the outside, he goes over to someone just in case they did not see him. He wants us to know how he feels.

King David was a lot like that. My wife and I are going through a Devotional Bible together every night and right now we are in the book of Psalms. Now I know that not every Psalm has David as the author, but a lot were. In these short little poems, David spills the contents of his heart out for God.

It is actually spectacular to read. Reading through the Psalms takes the reader up and down on an emotional roller coaster.

David wrote Psalm 59 when King Saul was pursuing him to kill him. “You, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, Awake to punish all the nations; Do not be gracious to any who are treacherous in iniquity.”

He wrote Psalm 52 when he heard of great wickedness that was happening. “But God will break you down forever; He will snatch you up and tear you away from your tent, And uproot you from the land of the living.”

David wrote exactly what he was feeling. When he felt distressed he wrote about it. When he was beat down and oppressed he wrote about it. David knew that even when everyone else had failed him, God would always be there. In Psalm 52 David ended it with these words. “But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the loving-kindness of God forever and ever. I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it, And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.” Even in saying how evil would perish, he still praised God because God is in control.

Even when David was at his lowest he trusted God. He may have called out and told God he was feeling like a rock was crushing him or that his enemies were pressing in on all sides and he thinks God should do something now. He knew that God was Lord over all and continued to pour his heart out to Him.

Many times when I ask someone to pray they answer with “I don’t know what to say.” Then if I convince them, they ask me if they did a good job once they finish. We just need to let God know what is on our hearts. Pour yourselves out to Him.

When you feel like taking a chair to someone, let Him know.

When you think you just may explode with excitement, let Him know.

If are just sure that everyone is against you, know that God is not and He will listen.

God is our heavenly Father. He loved us so much that He allowed His Son to come to earth in a frail human body and die after just a short time. Jesus went through beatings and suffered violent whipping. Being nailed to a cross, he hung there bleeding. For you.

God allowed this so that we could be forgiven and we can now be a part of the Kingdom of God. What’s cool about this Kingdom is we have a direct line to the King. We can go straight to Him with whatever is on our heart. That is a great privilege! We can all approach the King. Be sure to offer up some praise too. After all, He did give His Son’s life so we can have this privilege.

Why is it hard for us to tell God what is on our minds? Have you ever had difficulty praying?

Great leader? Great follower

November 15, 2011

Our world’s population just hit 7 billion people about two weeks ago. That is a ridiculous amount of people. With 7 billion we can expect a lot of different likes and dislikes. There will be many people with interests quite different from your own.

Also with that many people comes the difficulty of being noticed. There are more people than ever trying to write books, be speakers, start businesses, and so much more. They all have things they feel other people should hear or buy; but what makes what they have better than any other? They are leaders, trying to lead people the best way they know how.

Our Bibles are full of great leaders. Moses led an entire nation out of slavery. He led those people for 40 years. David was King of Israel. He is considered a great man in Jewish history. The list can go on: Abraham, Peter, Solomon, etc.

As I was talking with my wife last night during our evening devotion, she pointed out something that I have not been able to stop thinking about. As great as these men were and as much as they were considered leaders, they did nothing on their own. During their greatest parts of leadership, they were actually following God.

Take Moses for example. While he led the Israelites in the desert they would often camp out somewhere. They would be wandering around and then find somewhere to camp, and after a certain period of time they would move on again. But it was not Moses’s decision to do that. They followed a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. God was leading them. Moses just made sure that the others were following what God was commanding.

Perhaps that is the first thing it takes to be a great leader. Maybe the first thing we should strive for is close communion with God so that we know where it is He is leading or what it is He wants us to be doing.

This translates over into all areas of our lives. I’m am not just writing this post for those who are big name leaders (not sure if they will ever read this!). If we are going to be great leaders in the Church, home, workplace, or school then we must first seek God.

Prayer. We can seek Him through prayer. It really is our connection with Him. Jesus thought it was important to pray. He did it throughout the gospels. If the Son of God considers the need to pray then I had better be hitting my knees a lot.

God’s Word. The Bible tells us of the nature of God. It lets us know how He works and what He desires from us. It paints beautiful pictures of God’s will and opens the door so that we can know who He is. It may not have exact answers for all of life’s questions (what toothpaste should I buy) but it definitely gives us an accurate picture of who God is and helps us to change our lives as we seek Him.

Discipleship. One of the best ways we can grow is to get connected with other Christians. We do this weekly as we meet with other Christians to celebrate what Jesus has done for us on Sunday mornings. A lot of growth can also happen when a group of about 3 people meet together to challenge each other and pray for each other. I read a lot about this in a book called Transforming Discipleship. Through these we can become better leaders in the areas God would have us lead.

Holy Spirit. To remove the guidance of the Holy Spirit from this list would be wrong. As Moses had a cloud and fire to follow, we have been given the Holy Spirit. It is not easy to describe how He leads but it is truly amazing. Sometimes our hearts ache for someone or we feel led to a place or to go over and talk with someone. I cannot help but say that is the Holy Spirit leading us to minister to others. He works through the reading and preaching of God’s word. He is active and is here to help us follow God.

Just about all of us will be leaders in one way or another. We may never be globally known for our great leadership styles, but we may be recognized by our local church, small business, or our children. As we try and lead them, let us not do it on our own. Follow God as He tries to lead you. Get connected as much as you can so that when He calls you hear and follow. What a wonderful experience it is to lead people closer to a God who loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die so that we can be forgiven.

What other ways can we draw closer to God and become better leaders?

 

Jesus Who?

November 14, 2011

Right before my freshman year in high school I attended a CIY conference. One day they were teaching on the Kingdom of God and they gave everyone one of those Burger King crowns to wear throughout the day.

As I was walking back for the evening session a lady stopped me to ask about the crown. I told her about how we were at a CIY conference learning about Jesus. She looked at me and said “Jesus?” I replied with something along the lines of “Yes, as Christians we are a part of His Kingdom. We follow God.” Then she said “OH! It is religious. Religious.”

This lady had never heard of Jesus. I was not reminding her of a religious figure she had heard of as a child. She was hearing about Jesus for the first time. That blew my mind then and it continues to blow my mind now.

The Christians here in America pride ourselves on how this is a “Christian nation.” Many say this country was founded on Christian principles and we need to continue to uphold those.

It seems as though there are churches on every corner. Right now within a 3 block radius of my house I can think of 6 different churches, and that is not even all of them in this town of 5,123 people! Yet somehow there are people walking around in this country who not only do not follow Jesus but they have never even heard of Him!

That should not be! With the number of churches in the United States of America and the large number of people who claim to be Christians in this country there should not be individuals who have never even heard of Jesus.

Why are we not telling others about Jesus?

Fear of Persecution. We are afraid people may make fun of us or not understand. That possibility will never go away. We need to stand up and fight through the fear. There are countries where Christians actually die or are severely hurt for because they stand up for their faith. That is not happening here in the USA, yet we are afraid to tell others? Paul writes that the wisdom of God is foolishness to those who do not believe. It may seem foolish to those who are hearing for the first time but we still need to tell them! I believe I was watching Dinosaur Train with my son and one of the lessons was we need to face up to our fears so that it wont be so scary anymore. If some ridiculous cartoon gets it, we certainly need to. Do not let fear stop you!

The Busyness of Life. It is true that life gets busy. We run from one thing to another because we pack our schedules full of activities. We feel if we are sitting around the house with family then we are not being active. We bounce from one thing to another. We use that as an excuse for not sharing Jesus. It’s not. If we are that busy then we need to remove something we are doing. No question about it. Find an activity that is not as important and stop your interaction with it. As a Christian being too busy to share the saving message of Jesus is not an option.

Do not have all the answers. That is okay. That is why God gave us His word, so we can study it and find the answers. We also have friends, family, or ministers who may be able to help us find the answers to the questions we have or that those we are sharing Jesus with have. If someone asks you a question you do not have the answer to just reply with something like “I’m not really sure I know the answer to that. Let me get back to you.” Then, actually get back to them!

Just don’t care. Sometimes there are those who just don’t care if they spread Jesus. They do not want to offend anyone or they feel “let those people live that way and I will live mine.” I would seriously be concerned about your salvation if that is the case. Jesus’ final words to us were about sharing His message. He told us to do it! It was not an option. Get out there and spread the gospel.

I have never liked the quote from St. Francis “Share Christ at all times, when necessary use words.” We should always use words. The Scriptures ask how can someone be saved unless they hear. Telling about Jesus is not just for preachers and great book writers. Let nobody you interact with be able to ask “Jesus Who?”

What are other reasons we do not share the message of Jesus? How do we overcome those reasons?

Thank a Veteran

November 11, 2011

Today across America there will be ceremonies in schools, community centers, and churches to celebrate the lives of those who have served in our armed forces. There will be music, and food, speeches given and maybe even some tears shed.

There is a man from the church I serve who was in the Army. He served our country over seas but is now living here. Last night he posted this on his Facebook:

“Something that caught my thoughts today was I was in Gamestop and it was packed and I noticed that people where buying a game called call of duty modern war fair. This game is rated M for mature because of blood and gore, bad words, use of tobacco and alcohol. Now elderly people and young people where buying this game. The elderly where buying it for their grandchildren who when asked they where under the age of 18. So I watched a demo off this game. I found it to not be “realistic” like they said it was. Ok this kind of rough what I am about to say. In real life a body doesn’t disappear after they have been shoot, in fact they lay there and bleed out and jerk, you don’t find ammo just laying around, if you get shoot which it only takes one bullet to kill you there is no reset button to push if you die, there is no music playing while you are fighting, hand grenades don’t just take a little power off your life meter they take off limbs, I could go on and on but my point is that young children are playing these games. That your goal is to kill human beings. So I got a few weird looks when I bought a Spongebob game for my kids.”

That may be a different perspective than a lot of people have about this game. As it should be! This man has really been there. He has felt the reality of war. By going overseas he offered his life for our country. He went and fought this war so that we can keep buying video games that are nothing like the real deal. It’s not cool when explosions happen or when blood flings into the air. Real people fight and real people have died, for you.

When you think about it like that, that someone actually died for you, it is a sobering thought. When we think about it as a country it makes it less personal, but when we think, “that person died for me,” then it becomes more real.

How are we supposed to respond to that? People are serving our country in the armed forces, some living and some dying; what do we do about that?

Pray. Prayer works. Both sides are made up of human lives, so I am not saying to pray that our side kills more so that we can win and everyone will be happy. Pray that their lives are kept safe. Pray that the war is able to come to an end and they can come home. Pray for their families, that they are comforted and they stay strong.

Serve. It is the least we can do. Find some way to serve a veteran or their family. You can get involved in organizations that do it, or you can discover certain needs that different families have. These men and women have offered their lives, it is not much to ask for us to serve them in some way.

Thank them. One of the most emotional armed forces commercials I have ever seen was one from Budweiser. They star walking through an airport and all the people in the airport stand up and start clapping for them. The screen goes black and left are the words “thank you.” (you can see it on Youtube by clicking here.) Those two words go a long way. Thank them. Thank them for their service and for what they have done so we can keep doing what we do. Many have seen or done things the rest of us do not even want to imagine. Thank them for their sacrifice.

What they do is selfless. It is not too much to ask that we show some appreciation. So thank you Dad and Mom. Thank you Uncle Tony, Uncle Gerald, and Aunt Jenn. Thank you to my brother Zach for signing on and heading out in a month. Thank you to my brother-in-law Dan Fields. Thank you Jimmy Winn. Thank you Jim Dain and Randy Krape. Thank you to all who serve, I am deeply grateful.

My son, Noah, does not always listen to what I tell him to do. This little man turns 14 month old this weekend and he has a mind of his own.

He walks toward something that he knows he shouldn’t touch and turn around to see if my wife or I are watching. We will say something along the line of, “Noah, do not touch that.” Then he makes the decision on whether or not to follow through with his original plan.

Sometimes we say “Noah, if you touch that you will go to timeout.” The word timeout usually helps to change his mind. He does not like sitting in a corner for a minute (although he does it just with a lot of crying). Yet sometimes even after that warning he goes up and just barely touches it to see if he can get away with it. This is of course followed by putting him in timeout and the crying I mentioned before.

 

The times were evil. Last night I read in the Bible about another Noah. This Noah lived in a completely evil time. The Bible tells us, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” These people were not just doing something wrong every now and then, they were continually evil. There were sexual impurities, murders, thefts, any evil you can think of I am sure it was done because every person one the earth was acting this way all of the time. There was some extreme disobeying, not just Noah’s (my Noah) small rebellion.

Noah remained pure. Every person was evil, except Noah and his family. Noah “found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” He was not living like everyone else. He and his family continued to live the way that God had wanted them to live. Even though literally everyone else around them lived in evil, they remained pure. They did not find the actions of their neighbors as an excuse to live like them. “But God you don’t understand it is so difficult to live how you want us to so we are just going to allow ourselves a little bit of sin. We just need a little bit, I’m sure You will understand.” NO! They remained pure and followed God even when everyone else was not.

God gave Noah some instructions. Up to this point God has not given the world all of the laws that are found in the later books of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible). So God’s revelation has been through nature and possibly some special instructions he gave to Adam and Eve as they left the garden. Now though, He speaks to Moses and gives him some further instructions to obey. God has given us even more revelation. The New Testament completes the Scriptures. They show us how to live and interact with each other. We must be in them daily so we know God’s plans for us.

Noah obeys everything. The last verse of chapter 6 is the one that really caught my attention. “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.” The verse even repeats it twice. Noah did it, oh and did I mentioned that Noah did everything God had commanded. He did not come up with an excuse about how hard that would be in the world he lived. He did not turn God down, or just do half of what God commanded. He did it, and he did it all.

I realize that following God’s commands in this world is not always very easy. We are surrounded by those who hate all things Christian. They want our God out of schools and out of other public places. They despise our teachings because we say some action is sin. “How can you judge us? It is right for me, you cannot tell me any differently,” is a response I hear all too often.

Even in a world that despises our God and His teachings, we must stand firm. Brothers and Sisters, we cannot allow the world to dictate how we live! We cannot allow the sin of the world to creep into our lives and allow ourselves our “pet sin.” We must get rid of it all. I want it said of me at the end of my life, “Thus Brandon did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.”

 

How are you standing up for your faith, even when others do not like it or make fun of you for it?

Last night I led the adult teaching time at Stokelan Drive Christian Church. It was a really cool experience and I feel like it went really well. One thing that most people seemed to enjoy was having the youth involved.

We watched a video clip and then I had the sanctuary split up into smaller groups depending on where they were sitting. Then I had given some of the youth pieces of paper with questions so that they could get the conversations started. The youth were very excited about it and the adults seemed to enjoy it as well.

This is all part of my  secret plot to get the youth more involved in the activities of the church. I suppose it is not quite so secret anymore.

So many youth drop out of church. The numbers are greatest once they hit college age but it happens all of the time. Many times there is not a lot of effort put towards the kids who have fallen out of youth group. They just slide off the radar never to be seen or heard from again.

So what are some things we can do to keep the youth involved? I have a few ideas.

Get them involved. We need to be finding out the kinds of things each kid is interested in. If they enjoy babies, let them help in the nursery once a month (they don’t need to be missing out on the Sunday morning Gathering all the time. Truth is, nobody does). If they are musical, get them involved with the song service. There are so many areas for youth to be involved and often we just don’t think to ask them. Maybe start a Sunday or Wednesday night service by the youth for the youth. This gives them a sense of ownership and they are more likely to stay connected.

Show them you care. The statement is true “They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Youth today want to feel wanted. They are not dumb. They know when someone is faking it. Genuine care for them is needed. Shoot them a F message, write a letter, send a text or make a phone call. Let them know during the week you were thinking about them. Ask them about events in their lives. Those could be past, present, or future. What do they like or dislike?

Parents must be involved. I dream of a world where all the parents do the spiritual leading for their children. In this world it is the parents who lead their kids in a Bible study and pray with their children. In my dream the parents disciple their children. I would not even care if that put me out of a job. Youth pick up most of their traits and habits from their parents. I can work my butt off trying to get youth to give their lives completely to God but it is so much easier when parents are on board!

Volunteer to help the youth group. This post is not just for other Youth Ministers. The Youth Minister cannot reach every child. There are kids he just will not be able to connect with, but maybe you can! There are many ways other adults can help from leading youth small groups to deciding to pray every day for the youth.

If we want this next generation to grow up and take our place then we need to invest in them. We need to be putting an effort toward discipling them in the ways of Jesus. This process is best when it starts in the home. Let’s not leave out any child. Point them all to Jesus!

What are you doing to help children of any age come to Jesus? What are you doing in your homes to make sure your children do not fall out of the Church?

I decided to take about a week from writing my blog. My mind was full of too many things last week for me to try to form 600-900 words all together that made some sort of sense.

You see, on October 27, my grandmother died. So on Friday I drove up to my parent’s house and on Saturday my dad and two brothers drove out to Pennsylvania.

It was a difficult time. The most difficult part was to see my grandfather so lost the whole time we were there. He and my grandma had been married 51 years. He really is unsure of the future and confused about how to live without her.

During the visitations and all the way up until the funeral started, Grandpap was sitting in his wheelchair right by the casket looking up at her. He would mutter some words occasionally, but mostly he just looked at her and cried.

I cannot imagine the pain he is feeling. I lost a grandmother, but he lost his bride. It was during those moments that I realized I had no words to offer him. I just went up and put my hand on his back and stood there by his side.

He cried more and at one point said, “I ain’t ever going to get to see her again.” He also told me to make sure and take care of my family and cherish them because once they are gone, that is it. The best thing I could do for this very broken man was to hold him and be silent.

Remember Job from the Old Testament? Remember the pain he went through. He lost basically everything. He lost his sons and daughters along with all of his livestock (and he had a lot)! Then he was no longer healthy. He was covered in sores from head to foot.

Lucky for Job he had friends, great friends, who sat in silence for seven days with Job because “they saw that his pain was very great.” These friends did not want to contaminate the comfort they were giving with words. They were simply there for Job. They cried as he cried and sat on the ground as he did. They empathized with him without saying a word. Silence was better.

I learned that again this weekend. It would have done me no good to tell Grandpap “Well as long as the both of you have lived good Godly lives there is hope that one day the two of you will be kicking up gold dust in heave someday.” There may come a time when offering those words of encouragement would help but for the moment just identifying his pain is the best thing.

Too often we are quick to dish out advice. We want people to heal quickly. “If they would just realize that things will not always feel this way then they would be able to get over this!” Remember those friends of Job? Everything was going great until they opened their mouths to speak. Job let out a cry in his confused state and they all took that as it was time to offer advice.

Instead of jumping on the advice wagon, just hurt with the hurting. Cry with them. Put your arm around them to let them know you are there. Let the hurting know you love them, that you are there for them. There will come a day (and for some it is sooner than others) when we must help the person to heal using words. At the beginning though, when the pain is too great for words, just be there.

Have you ever received advice from someone during a time of pain and all you needed was a shoulder to lean on? When do you think it is right to begin offering that advice?