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Category: Character Page 1 of 4

Exploring Spiritual Formation: Burnout

The Situation
You love Jesus. You’ve dedicated your life to serving him. You’re loyal, diligent, and you work hard. It’s not unusual for you to check your email after hours, and you’re even willing to work on your day off, if necessary. Lately, it seems like it’s necessary a lot.

You’ve been known to sacrifice for the good of the team, and you often give up time with family or friends to tend to others in need. You’re usually willing to take on extra projects. Sleep is a luxury. Exhaustion is a constant companion, and you can’t remember the last time you took a vacation that didn’t involve a visit with a supporter.

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Suffering for the Gospel without Shame

Most people want to avoid suffering. Yet, in this fallen world it is a reality of life. Suffering is a significant theme in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Commentator, William Mounce, writes, “the theme of suffering ties almost all of the epistle together” (Pastoral Epistles, 474). Each chapter of the letter has something to say about suffering. The suffering Paul writes about is suffering for the gospel associated with persecution.

Shame is often associated with suffering, but Paul exhorts Timothy not to be ashamed when suffering for the gospel (2 Tim. 1:8). How is it possible to suffer for the gospel without shame? It is by the power of God. Timothy’s sincere faith (2 Tim. 1:5) together with fanning into flame his spiritual gift (1:6) empowers him to not be ashamed. God has given us “a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (1:7). Timothy can suffer for the gospel without shame because God’s power is displayed in the gospel. Paul writes to Timothy:

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Behavior in the Household of God

In my last post in this series on the letters to Timothy and Titus, the focus was on Paul’s description of the church as the household of God. Paul’s description keeps the relational dynamics of a household together with standing firm for the truth of the gospel. Paul is writing to Timothy to inform him how Christians should conduct themselves in God’s household. In this post, I will focus on behavior in the household of God.

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth. (1 Timothy 3:14,15 ESV)

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Book review: Stubborn Perseverance

Stubborn Perseverance: How to launch multiplying movements of disciples and churches among Muslims and others (a story based on real events) by James Nyman with Robby Butler.

How-to manuals are generally difficult to read, and those who purchase them are not often motivated to read them from start to finish. Stubborn Perseverance is a different sort of how-to manual. Now in a second edition, the book explains a step-by-step process of starting a church planting movement among an unreached Muslim people group. But it is presented as a story, a novel that walks through the experience of a small group of Indonesian believers who work together to start such a movement among their own people group. The story is based on real events.  The characters and their experiences were created by combining various people and their situations, both to protect their identity and to better illustrate a number of principles in one short book.

The author is telling a story that probably reflects his own experiences and the stories of many of his own friends. James Nyman (a pseudonym?), serves as a cross-cultural missionary in Indonesia. He and his wife have been actively seeking to start a church planting movement among an unreached people since 2009, and in the past few years, have been coaching various missionary teams and training workers in the skills and strategy outlined in the novel. So this novel is real-to-life, and its principles have been tried and refined in practice.

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Seeking balance or seeking the kingdom

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? – Luke 14:28

I am quick to “count the cost” when I am asked to do something on top of what is expected of me in my job descriptions.  Can I add this to my workload?  Do I have the capacity at this time to take on this assignment?  I wonder if maybe those are the wrong questions.  At least, those are not the first questions I should be asking.

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Handling the What If’s

Over the years, I have often found myself struggling with the “what ifs”, primarily in regards to my relationships with people I work with (yes, with fellow missionaries). What if the person responds in a negative way to my email? What if that person decides to go in that direction, contrary to what I have recommended? What if they refuse to do anything at all in response to my request?  What would I do or say then?

I have far too often found myself absorbed and distracted by ongoing dialogues in my mind, imagining different responses from people to particular situations and what I would then do or say in response to their response. In these situations, I find myself falling into the trap of imagining various ways that I could retaliate, rather than responding in grace. These internal dialogues prove to be very unproductive, both because they tend to portray other people in a very unflattering and distorted light, and because my fantasized response to the imaginary situation would only make things worse.

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