Watch Out, the Road is Full of Potholes

          As a Revitalizer, we can find a plethora of examples of renewal in the Word of God. It’s wonderful when the Lord reveals these models of wisdom that can help shape and mold our character and attitudes. I wish I would consistently and constantly assimilate their traits into my daily living! Here are my favorite biblical examples. Ones who have stood firm during the tsunamis of life and responded in righteousness. Nehemiah is my man for strategy and prayer; Enoch, my model for an intimate relationship with the Father; Ittai, (one of David’s commanders) is my symbol of steadfastness and loyalty, Job is a mirror, reflecting perseverance and faithfulness, when all seems horrible, and Jesus is my preeminent model of obedience, holiness, and righteousness. For these giants, I am eternally grateful!

          In this world, I have encountered spiritual leaders who have come under unwarranted attack from church members while striving to guide their church to health and fitness. Why would any church member not want their church to be productive and effective for the Kingdom of God? Could it be they are not really one of us, or could it be that they can’t bear the thought of “their church” changing? Or maybe it’s simply that they are uninformed about what the Bible says about the health and growth of His Bride? Whatever possesses them to be a barrier, the leader often ends up the target of their refusal to submit to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

          So, let’s examine the determination and grit that a successful revitalizer must possess. First, what does the term “perseverance” mean? Merriam-Webster defines it as, “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” Perseverance is needed for our spiritual success as well as our success in human life. It is a command from God! In Revelation 3:7-8 and 10, He expects us to persevere. How do we do it? Well, we cannot in our own power and intellect. We must have God’s spirit living and working in us. That’s the only way we can endure.

          A person who has perseverance endures no matter what the trials or how much suffering or grief he or she may go through. It’s from the root word meaning “to remain under.” What does that mean? It means a person would be willing to remain under trials, if necessary, and to honor and glorify the Lord. By enduring such trials, they learn the lessons only trials teach. We need to view barriers and potholes as part of God’s plan. I found personally that when my church was struggling, so was I. They were mirroring the leader’s lack of energy and passion.

          Job, when confronted by his wife about his trial, said, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” Job 2:9 (NASB) Making adjustments in a struggling or declining congregation has never been easy and during a revitalization process it is no more palatable. The process can expose flaws, weaknesses, and failures, but it can also present the congregation with checkpoints for the church to be able to see when the congregation and the leadership are moving forward. This gives a view toward a brighter future.

          How can a congregation and its leaders endure and proceed in the face of scrutiny, opposition, or desertion?

          1. Be absolutely certain you are following Christ’s plan (not your own). Paul states in Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We have persistent steadfastness, not because we are invincible, tough and wise, but because we have the power and anointing of the Spirit of God within us. When we are weak, He will exchange His strength for our weakness!

          Another way to say it is found in 2 Timothy 1:12 (NKJV).For this reason, I also suffer these things; nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” If you are absolutely persuaded that you are the leader to walk the church through revitalization and you are certain the direction is His, then stand up, speak boldly, and invite your church family to follow your voice!

          Okay, here’s one more peg to hang your hat on: Galatians 6:9 (NLT)So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Don’t give up, sit down or shut up if you certain of His calling and direction.

          2. Accept suffering as God’s way of guiding our ideas and opinions so we see the best option – His plan! The fruit that grows on the outside of a tree and is exposed to the abuse of weather is always the sweetest, because it receives the most sun. Are you allowing the Son to shine on your situation or are you trying to stay in the shade of comfort and convenience?

          James 1:2-6a (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.

          3. Walk in faith, God is for you and with you! Perseverance is when we keep coming back, and we never give up. Keep trying, keep knocking and, finally, the door will open. Stay the course (let me rephrase that – “Stay His course”)! 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 (NKJV)But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed– always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

          4. Don’t give up! Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said this, “Perseverance is a great element of success, if you knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you’re sure to wake up somebody.” If God is with you, stay in there for the duration. Keep the faith, charge with courage, be tenacious and run with stamina.

          His goals are just ahead. They are well within reach. No church knows how much time it has left. Most everything has a shelf-life. Sooner or later our best intentions come to an end. Where will your best efforts, your greatest adventures and your most zealous passions lead you? Why would we want to consider accepting failure when He is with us? Many before us have worked too hard, for too many years to let the legacy and the mission of the church fade away into obscurity.

          5. Don’t be afraid of those who oppose you! Ezekiel 3:9 (NKJV)Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead (the conspicuous part of our head that discloses our direction); do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.” If you are on track, following God’s design, they are not opposing you; they are opposing Him! Remember, “stay on course even if the road is loaded with potholes.”

          Nehemiah faced opposition, but he prayed, developed a plan, sold the people on the purpose for the new walls, consistently pointed them to the goal ahead, and reminded them that The Lord would be with them and give them the victory. The walls were rebuilt, safety and security were regained, and it was all done super-fast – just 52 days! Let us keep our eyes on the prize and hold fast to our energy source, which is found in our Savior, the King of kings? We won’t be disappointed at the results! Focus on the goal, not on the potholes!

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