In the book of the Bible we call Daniel, in the third chapter, we have an intriguing passage. The great King Nebuchadnezzar had set up a big statue of himself. Then he gathered all his royl bureaucrats to the capital city. Once they had arrived, he instructed them to bow down and worship the statue that he had made of himself. It seems he did this to ensure that they all were totally devoted to his cause. But there were these three guys who turned him down as far as the worship thing went. They said,

16 …, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Trusting GodWhen a tragedy like a great storm happens as it did in the Philippines a few months ago, there are survivors who immediately think about giving thanks to God. It seems to be on everyone’s lips – even journalists who otherwise would not invoke God except on a horrific occasion such as the massive tornado. (Oh yeah, Wolf Blitzer found out that not everyone is thanking God, see  after the Moore, Oklahoma tornado in the USA last year) But what about those who did not survive? What about those whose loved ones are dead today? What should they be saying?

In the Bible book of Romans, there is a place where it says, “22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” When the mighty typhoon Haiyan blew through the city called Tacloban in the Philippines, the creation itself groaned in sorrow. When there were flood waters inundating many different areas in the world last year, the creation groaned.  When people are faced with difficulties that tax their ability to cope to the breaking point; the creation itself groans.

We do not know what to pray sometimes. Other times God seems so far away. Sometimes God seems to not care as the three friends at the mouth of the fiery furnace could envision. But God is always God. And God is always near. We just do not always know of his holy presence.

Our pain, our loss, our fear, our sadness, our souls groaning and aching for the end of evil all get in the way of sensing God nearby. But if we listen to the creation and we hear the groaning, then we can renew our hope that one day, one day all will be right. We walk by faith today. Not by sight. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction about things not seen. When even we groan, that remains the only way to live.

The Christian faith is a way of life that is committed to the understanding that God is in charge of all the universe. We do not always understand the ways of God. Nor do we always have a way to calmly face the dire circumstances we are dealing with. But the Christian faith reminds me that nothing in the world can separate me from the love of God that is mine in Christ Jesus our lord. There are times when those in authority will order us to forget our commitment to the God who is invisible and give our allegiance that an idol that can be seen. But it is at that moment that we can say with the three friends, “the God we serve is able to deliver us …, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” That takes faith.

Reflection on the Pastoral Care and Marriage Course

Pastoral Care – When I signed up for this course, I thought lightly of it and had the preconception that it was all about teaching each partner in a marriage relationship how to love each other better. I did not know that there was so much involved in marriage! Although I am married, I found out that I needed to learn how to love my wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. This course really exposed me and showed me that I was not doing what I am expected to do in marriage. I was not playing my role as husband and head as I should. It also reminded me how women are more emotional than men and need to hear sweet words spoken; that husbands should also demonstrate our love to them by our deeds, like taking them to dinner.

I learned about buttons and how we need to be aware of each partner’s buttons and not deliberately push them. This is something we don’t usually think about. We sometimes try to fix or change the other partner, but I found out that’s the way they are and we have to deal with it. I might have been guilty of trying to push my wife’s buttons instead of showing the love of Christ. I am now aware of that!

pastoral careI was really blessed by the presentation given by Brian F. DeCook Esq. of peacefire. I learned about the peace fire and the wild fire. He really put it in a way I never heard before. I was reminded of the peace that Jesus gives in the midst of the fire. I can now hold on to the promise of Jesus that He will be there in the midst of the fire to cause His peace to overwhelm the wildfire.

I also learned from this pastoral care course about how important boundaries are in order to fulfill the purpose of God. Sometimes I work without acknowledge the importance of boundaries. I gained an insight into how boundaries are vital in every aspect of life. Bible studies and prayer come to mind when I think about boundaries. I found out that if I don’t set boundaries, I would not be able to get enough time to study the Bible and pray.

I learned how dangerous it is to do marriage counseling alone. It just sounds like a pastor’s job is very dangerous. He seems to be in constant danger. I now have great respect for marriage counseling. It is not sometime I would want to do without first setting some serious and vital boundaries. The temptations and snares are too great, and that’s why this is such a scary area. All marriage counselors really need God’s grace and protection continually. This can be very destructive if care is not seriously.

The pastoral care course on hospital and home visit caught my attention, because I certainly would have done all the things that pastor Henry says not to do during a visit without thinking twice. Things like asking, “ how are you doing today?”, or walking straight into the patient’s room without washing my hands. I just didn’t think of a hospital visit the way it was presented in the course. I think everything I would have done would be contrary to the teachings of the course. I would have failed!

The pastoral care course on legal issues was a surprise to me, because I did not think that the church was supposed to report child abuse to the police. I know it’s the right thing to do, but I just did not think about the government and law being involved with the church. I found out how serious it is to be a pastor. I found out how a pastor must take all necessary precautions to protect himself from lawsuits and other issues, not only with men but with God.

Pastoral Care Summary

In summary, I can say that I learned a lot of things from this course of which I did not consider or had taken lightly. I now have a more alertness to my calling to being a pastor/leader of God’s people. I really have a sense of calling to ministry and would like to be fully prepared for what to expect. I have now learned even more in this course about being vigilant and watchful because of the adversary the devil, the flesh, and the world. We have got three enemies to fight and that in itself is a challenge to any child of God. I found out how many obstacles we have to face in this world, living as ambassadors of Christ.

As Jesus warned us, we would have tribulations in this world, and that was no lie! Also, He said we would suffer persecutions, trials, and temptations, which is strongly demonstrated in this course. We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven living in a hostile world that is against us and that’s why we must be so watchful. I just pray for all pastors that God will keep them from all evil and preserve them blameless until the appearing of Jesus Christ to whom be glory, power, and dominion forever Amen.

God bless all His faithful pastors and leaders in Jesus name Amen.