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In Every Season

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“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

    whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

    that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

    its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

    and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

This verse and its parallel in Psalm 1:1-3 have been on my mind a lot this month. Good seasons and bad seasons of life seem to come and go - but one thing is certain, we all experience these different seasons, often in their most extreme forms. While my wife and I are in a season of great joy and expectation as we wait for the birth of our son, it seems like many families I’ve talked to are walking through very difficult seasons with extreme trials and circumstances. For some of us, it’s easy to follow God in seasons of blessing during the “highs” of life - the spiritual “spring and summer”; and still for others, we find it easier to follow God during the trying “lows” of life- the “fall and winter” seasons - as He’s the only place we know to go. For some, the difficulty in following God comes during seasons of blessing, not trial, as it’s so easy to get distracted by the good things around us and not the good God that surrounds us. Still for many of us, myself included, we struggle to stay focused on God in both! Seasons of blessing and success lead to distraction on life’s mountaintop and seasons of trials and failure can lead to discouragement and derailment in the valleys of life. Despite the changing seasons, we are called to live faithfully and bear fruit in every season, high or low; mountain or valley. 

 

In our church, I know there are many of us walking through these different seasons - the good and the bad. I’ve written this post to share some of the patterns I’ve seen in my own life as I try to follow God through the change of these seasons. The following sections will begin first as practical warnings for those of us in the good times, during which we are so easily distracted. The next section will offer words of encouragement to others of us who are weathering the seasons of great difficulty -  times of failure and circumstantial lows. I hope you will take the time to look at the scriptural references as you ponder these words, and look for the same warning signs and take hold of the encouragements to help you in your walk with Jesus and to further us as a church community. 

 

The Highs

 

If you could choose between the two, wouldn’t you choose the highs over the lows? Me too. However, there are inherent dangers that come from being human and receiving blessing and success from God. While it is good and right to enjoy seasons of blessing and good gifts from the Lord, it is essential that we maintain a focus on God. 

 

  1. Pride

In these seasons of great blessing, success, and/or personal victory, it is so easy to think more and more highly of ourselves and in the process think less and less of God. Our egos tend to swell and we start to pat ourselves on the back for our accomplishments - as though they truly come from us. Rather than acknowledging the mighty hand of God placing such provision on our life, we are often deceived into thinking it is our hand, our work that provides and allows such flourishing. “Pride is the master sin of the devil, and the devil is the father of lies” (Edwin Hubbell Chapin). Indeed, we are believing a satanic lie if we believe ourselves to be more accomplished even in the work of our own lives than God. Our circumstances are controlled by a sovereign God and our gifts, personalities, talents, and more are given to us by God in order to glorify Him - not ourselves. What’s the fix for our pride? Cultivating a humble heart and spirit before the Almighty God and allowing Him to direct our attention toward others, that we might bless them. Rick Warren defines humility not as “thinking less of yourself” but as  “thinking of yourself less”. True humility is a proper response to the blessing of God in these seasons. The first step? “To realise one is proud” (C.S Lewis). Unchecked pride can lead to all manner of spiritual decay and drifting and will always prove God’s word: “pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). 

 

  1. Ingratitude 

Just as it is easy to put the focus on ourselves, in doing so, we take the focus off of God. I remember when opening Christmas or birthday gifts as a child, I was taught by my parents to look at the person who got me the gift and thank them. This is taught in many families as the children learn not to be too distracted by the gift that they fail to honor the giver. It is a shame that we so often fail to live this principle out spiritually. In these seasons of life, we get so excited and distracted in enjoying the gift of God, we fail to honor Him as the provider of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Ingratitude toward God often goes hand in hand with our ingratitude toward other people. The parable of the unforgiving servant comes to mind. Upon being forgiven of a great debt, the servant’s ungrateful heart sought the payment of a very small debt from a fellow servant (Matthew 18:21-35). Truly no matter what season we are in, there is always something to be thankful for as Christians. God has given us his own son as a free gift. If there is one thing we should be defined by as Christians, it should be our gratitude for the free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

  1. Apathy

Spiritual apathy is a numbness and indifference that can seize the heart even in the midst of the best seasons of life circumstantially. When we seek satisfaction in anything other than God, even in the wonderful gifts He gives, we come up short. This can lead to disappointment and spiritual drifting. This could manifest as an unwillingness to serve and sacrifice, refusal to participate in worship, a neglect for fellowship with others, and a departure from spiritual disciplines. It often comes out as a lack of fulfillment even in the best of times or as a defense mechanism in the most trying circumstances as one attempts to distance themselves from the pain. Apathy can really show up in any season if we are not careful, and often seeks to be our deadly transition from the highs of life to the lows. It can also manifest itself as an improper response to personal sin and failure. Instead of responding in confession and repentance to God, we respond with dismissal and concealment, allowing the decay and rot of sin to set roots in our heart. King David experienced this. After his heinous sin with Bathsheba, he did not respond in repentance but went on to coldly plot the murder of Uriah. Writing about the confession of sin in Psalm 32, David said “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer,” (Psalm 32:3-4). Circumstantially, things might look great on the outside. To outside onlookers, they may not be able to tell that anything is wrong in your life. This is the danger of spiritual apathy. It leads to the concealment of what is really going on in our lives. Beyond any outward success or positive state of affairs there can be serious spiritual decay if we drift from our personal relationship with God. It is only in confessing our sin and failure and acknowledgement of our daily need for God in all circumstances, all situations, all seasons, that we can find comfort, love, peace, and true joy. If we are not growing in our personal relationship with Jesus and teaching, leading, and serving out of an overflow of what He pours in to us, we are headed for burn out and a deadly crash. When we as branches drift from the vine, we are certain to wither and die.

 

The Lows

 

Maybe you’ve been in a low spot for so long that just the thought of enjoying a mountaintop of life is enough. Sickness, brokenness, sin, stress, failure, weakness, anxiety, depression, death and more seem to be ever present forces in our lives and our church. Yet for us as Christians, we know that the same God who created the natural seasons also controls the spiritual seasons. These things are not forces of pure evil beyond God’s control to work through. It’s truly amazing how many people resist or fail to acknowledge God until a time of great pain or need. C.S. Lewis was spot on in saying that “we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” I am amazed again and again at how evident godliness and the fruit of the spirit become in those who are faithful to Him in life’s trying circumstances. It seems that only when we are squeezed do we find out what is inside of us that is going to come out. Sometimes our pain is caused by our own failure and trying circumstances brought about by our sin, and other times it is circumstances that God alone allows to be brought about. Our pursuit of Christ and faithfulness to Him is not meant to be tossed to and fro by these circumstances of life. Consider the following truths and scriptures to hold on to during these trying times of life. 

 

  1. Hope   

Our hope in God does not only stem from His promise of eternal life, but is rooted in His very nature and being. God’s sovereignty over every circumstance in the world and in our lives is a fundamental biblical truth upheld throughout the entire witness of scripture. The Father is over all, through all, and in all (Ephesians 4:6). 

 

God’s grace and mercy toward us in the face of personal sin and failure give us hope to rise up and walk again in the light of his loving kindness toward us. We know that even when our faith fails - God’s faithfulness is sure (2 Timothy 2:13; Psalm 145:13). We know that in the pit of our failure, in the most trying of circumstances, in the dark night of the soul, our God is near to each one of us. His mercy is freshly prepared for us every single morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). 

 

Furthermore, as Christians, we are blessed to know that we have a great future awaiting us. To this future, Paul quotes “‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ -- the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). As we set our eyes on the glory of that future that God has prepared for us, we can seek a more eternal perspective concerning the temporary difficulties and temptations that we face. We don’t have to go through life and difficult circumstances the same way as those who do not believe. We know how the story ends. We know that sin and death do not have the final word. We have eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

 

“Now in this hope we were saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.”

Romans 8:24-25

 

  1. Patience

Guided by the knowledge of God’s nature and the hope we have in Him through faith, we are empowered to wait patiently and trust in His timing - not ours. Trying times present ample opportunity and temptation to stress and worry. However, these things are not compatible with trust in God. 

It’s always easier to tell someone else not to worry than it is to tell yourself. But if we truly trust in a sovereign God present in every circumstance, we have nothing to worry about (Matthew 6:25-34). It is in this knowledge we can be free from worrying and trust in God’s timing. Patience is the process of demonstrating your faithfulness and commitment to God’s timing. When faced with a difficult circumstance or decision, I always think about the stories of the Bible. I can never think of someone who was penalized or failed because they were too patient or trusted God too much. It is always the opposite! Our impatience drives our failures which compound our worry and lack of trust in God. 

Some people have told me not to pray for patience but I say do! Do pray for patience! Though you should expect to wait a while before you get it - be patient; and be ready for some difficult situations and sometimes (usually in hindsight) humorous opportunities to put that patience into practice. God’s timing is always perfect. Do you believe that? Press in to your relationship with Him during trying times through trusting and allow him to grant you His patience and His peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). 

 

“Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.”

Romans 12:12

 

  1. Endurance 

Endurance may be defined as pressing through the present difficulty before you. As a Christian, we don’t just have to “try” harder in our own strength, but we lean in to the power of the Holy Spirit in our weakness and display His power at work within us (Romans 8:26, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Often, it is through the endurance of great suffering that God produces Christ-likeness in us. Just as God allowed Christ to suffer, He allows us to partake in that same suffering that produces godliness within us “and after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10). Endurance is the grueling work of following through on your patience as you wait upon the Lord’s timing and allow Him to do with your life as He wills - undemanding of explanation and unassuming of His timing. This is easier said than done. But we know as we seek this, not only does God empower us, He provides an example and companion in the suffering in Christ (Hebrews 4:15). Even more so, he provides to us a loving community in Christ to help us in our time of need. 

 

  1. Community

One of our biggest weaknesses in church today is our failure to ask or express the need for help. Our culture teaches us to value self-sufficiency and not to burden other people, and while there is a healthy aspect of this, when taken to the extreme it becomes toxic to us and our community. Not only do we harm ourselves when keeping our burdens hidden and to ourselves, we harm our church community. By not allowing other believers the chance to fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2) and obey His commands for His church community, we also rob them of the opportunity to exercise their spiritual gifts. Think back to a time where you really got to help someone else by doing something you love to do. Was that a burden to you? Did you resent the person asking for help? Of course not! It’s in mutual submission and service to one another that we grow together in Christ. By keeping problems and burdens in the dark we deny our brothers and sisters in Christ of the blessing that comes in giving. We also keep ourselves from being able to minister to others effectively because we ourselves are not being ministered to! And while there are certainly a few that abuse the offerings of help within the community, most are in the category of refusing to allow others the opportunity to serve them (or at least refusing to ask).

When I feel the need for help and inevitably the shame or embarrassment that comes with that, I try to remember Peter and his refusal to allow Jesus to wash his feet. Jesus set him straight and reminded him that without accepting the gift Jesus offered, His service to Peter, he had no part with Him (John 13:8). If Jesus directed the disciples to serve one another, while lowering Himself to do it, we ought to serve one another. But how can we serve each other if we all have the attitude of Peter? “You will never wash my feet.” In this, I remember that it's okay to present your feet for washing. 

There are many among our church that give and give and give but do not allow others the same opportunity to give to them. Did you ever consider that you may be keeping someone from experiencing the same blessing you receive when you serve? Let others serve you as you continue to serve them - in this we glorify God and are built together as one body. 




G > ^ V

 

The characters in the picture above have become a popular Christian symbol in recent years as they represent “God is greater than my Highs and Lows.” The truth of that statement goes beyond just a slogan or logo to wear on a t-shirt, but a reminder to put over our lives as we remind ourselves we are not defined by our successes, and we are not defined by our failures. We are defined by our God who is greater than both of these things, greater than the peak of highest mountain and greater than the valley of the shadow of death. Our God who ordained and established every season will keep you in your spiritual summer and in your spiritual winter - for God is greater than our Highs and Lows.


What season stands out to you? Are you in a high or a low? Do any of these warnings or encouragements stick out to you in particular? What scripture spoke to you the most? Think about these questions and ponder the scripture presented. I pray that my family and I, and we as a church family, would be Christians who live by the standard set for us as we seek to bear fruit  in every season in the pursuit of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God the Father!

Posted by Caleb Parrish with
in Faith

10 Things That I Am Thankful For as a Minister of Faith Baptist Church

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As you may have heard, Jeanna and I will be moving to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at the beginning of August. As such, that means that I will be stepping down as the Minister of Contemporary Worship. We’re excited for what God has for us there, but at the same time, we are deeply saddened that we must say goodbye to our Faith family. We have made such amazing friendships here in Wichita Falls, and we cannot express enough the love we have for our Faith family. It was here at Faith that I started for the first time full-time ministry. It was here at Faith that we endured the waiting for our wonderful, adopted daughter Hannah. We owned our first home while at Faith, and it was here that Jeanna gave birth to our adorable, second child Gracie. We’ve had so many experiences here in Wichita Falls, and our Faith family has been there through it all, mourning with us when we were dealing with struggles and celebrating with us when God saw fit to bless us. Galatians 6:2 calls for us to “carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” 1 John 4:7 says “…let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” Jeanna and I have been so blessed to be here and to experience this love. So, in order to express my love to you all, I want to convey 10 things that I am thankful for as a minister of Faith Baptist Church!

 

I am thankful to Faith Baptist Church for…

 

  1. MAKING ME A BETTER WORSHIP LEADER. Without a doubt, I have definitely grown musically during my time here at Faith. I’ve been given more insight into all the different instruments we use onstage and the technology needed to lead worship. However, while that is very important in leading worship, I believe that God has grown me spiritually and has developed my ability to connect with a congregation. Through leading worship each Sunday, my understanding of worship has matured and my desire to serve the body of Christ through leading music worship has deepened. And through trial and error, God has shown me the intricacies of planning a service that involves music but also scripture, prayer, repentance, rededication, surrender, celebration, etc. Thank you.

  2. TEACHING ME WHAT IT MEANS TO LEAD A CONGREGATION IN MUSIC WORSHIP. When I started at Faith, I thought I understood what that meant. I would stand onstage and lead all of you through music, scripture readings, maybe some prayer. But as time went on, I realized how limited I was in my mentality as a worship leader. It became more and more apparent that if I was going to lead my Faith family, I needed to focus more intently on dying to myself so that I could allow more room in my mind for what you desired and needed, not necessarily what I desired or “thought” you needed. As Philippians 2:3-4 puts it, I had to better learn how to consider others as more important than myself. For example, that meant introducing and planning songs that might not have been what I would have chosen but ones that our congregation would love and need to hear. Or it meant limiting the amount of time I speak after a song, because despite the truth of my words, my words might be pulling focus from God and centering them on myself. Because of all of you, I have been stretched and have been molded closer into what God wants me to be.

  3. ALL THE CARDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT, BLANKETS AND QUILTS TO MY CHILDREN, AND SUPPORT TO OUR FAMILY WHEN IN NEED. It might have seemed a little thing in your eyes when you sent me an encouraging card or gave a gift to my child, but Jeanna and I have been eternally grateful for all of the support you have given to us. In fact, Hannah has attached herself to one of the blankets you have given her and WILL NOT SLEEP WITHOUT IT! We accidentally left her blanket at home once while visiting family one weekend and it took twice as long to get her to sleep, all the while asking, “Where’s my blanket, dada?” Ultimately, all of the support you have given us has truly made a difference in our day to day lives. Phil. 4:10 shows us the care that had been given to Paul by the Philippian Church and the impact it had on him so that he could minister. I echo this as I write this to you, expressing my thanks and love for all the support!

  4. WONDERFUL WORSHIP EXPERIENCES ON SUNDAY MORNINGS AND NIGHTS OF WORSHIP. A constant thing that I have heard from guests visiting Faith as they were looking for a church home was, “the music is really worshipful.” While I appreciated those comments, the reality is that those comments were really about the hearts of the people in the congregation. They were talking about YOU. They were saying that you truly worship. When we all gather together on Sundays or Wednesday nights, Jesus Christ is lifted up and we all sing the praises of our God. Thank you for your hearts. Thank you for letting me be a part of that and worshipping It has truly been an honor to lead you for 4 years.

  5. LETTING ME LEAD YOU. It has been a blessing being able to lead you each Sunday. Throughout these 4 years, I have seen the beautiful relationship that exists between a worship leader and his/her congregation, and that relationship has helped me to grow spiritually. Ephesians 4:21 calls husbands and wives to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Yes, husbands are to lead and guide spiritually, but wives will not submit if not for the sacrificial love expressed by husbands. While this passage is referring to marriage, I believe that this can be applied to leading a congregation in worship. I cannot lead unless I love my church family, my congregation, the way Christ loves the church. You have been amazing in letting me lead you these past 4 years, faithfully following and trusting in my guidance. In turn, it has helped me to see the necessity of submitting to you in my service with Christ, helping me to love you more and more each Sunday, putting your needs above my own.

  6. LETTING ME STRETCH YOU AND CHALLENGE YOU MUSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY. I still remember the response to the song “Rise And Sing” when we sang it for the first time. While it wonderfully portrays the attitude we should have for the freedom we have in Christ, the style is a little different than what Faith was familiar with. It’s a song that rocks hard and makes you want to jump and dance and shout. There was definitely some hesitant praising and some confused faces, almost as to ask, “are we allowed to sing a song like this in church?” The beautiful thing was that you let me stretch you and challenge you to sing songs that were different, just like you challenged me to incorporate some good ‘ol bluegrass country worship in our repertoire, and I have loved every second of it! Thank you for trusting me and thank you for teaching me!

  7. THOSE TIMES YOU STOPPED AT THE SANCTUARY DOORS TO EXPRESS THE LOVE YOU HAD FOR THE MUSIC WORSHIP. You have no idea what your kind words have done to encourage me and strengthen me as a worship minister! Proverbs 16:24: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” There have been times when I was discouraged after a worship service due to some mistake I made or some problem that occurred during the set or even some personal issue outside of anything that was currently going on, and then some encouraging word was given to me as you were leaving the sanctuary and everything changed! It “healed my bones” and robbed my flesh or the devil of the ability to cast doubt and worry over my circumstances! Thank you so much for those encouraging words that affirmed the ministry that God placed me in, helping to remind me why we worship on Sundays, and that whatever happens, God is still on His throne!

  8. ALL THE HOURS AND HARD WORK SPENT ON THE VICTORIOUS PRESENTATION. I love the passage 1 Peter 4:10 that says, “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.” I think of this verse and I immediately think of all those that sacrificed their time and energy and sometimes money to make the Victorious Program possible. Whether you were onstage or behind-the-scenes, each and every one of you helped Faith to share the gospel to Wichita Falls and beyond! Thank you for trusting in me to lead the drama portion of the program and putting in so many hours to make it possible.

  9. PRAYING FOR US.We often forget the importance of prayer in this fast-paced culture we live in. I know that I am guilty of this. I am a doer. If I am given a task, I want to act and get it done. But 1 Thess. 5:17 calls us to pray constantly, and 1 Timothy 2:1,8 encourages the act of praying for one another. Thank you for praying for me and the Contemporary Worship Ministry. Thank you for praying for Jeanna, for Gracie and Hannah. The prayers have strengthened me and have protected me in ways that I don’t even know. I could not have survived in my position these past 4 years without your prayers. Thank you.

  10. LOVING US. Colossians 3:14: “Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” More than anything, thank you for loving the Padilla family. A life in ministry is never easy, but it’s made easier by the love of the church. Love strengthens and has kept me going. True love is seen in the way Christ laid down His life for us, a sacrificial love, a selfless and emptying love. We have felt that love over the past 4 years. We felt it during our long wait in the adoption process for Hannah: the prayers and encouragement when we experienced disappointment and the way that the pastors/overseers gave me a whole extra week off as we waited to be cleared to cross the Louisiana/Texas border. We felt it in all of the gifts to our children and the times we needed help with a babysitter. We felt it in the free or outrageously discounted house calls to take a look at some malfunctioning device in our home or to help with some DIY house project. We have felt that love in so many ways, and for that, Jeanna, Gracie, Hannah, and I thank you. 

I have truly loved being your Minister of Contemporary Worship and I look forward to seeing what God does through Faith Baptist Church in the future! I love you all!

 

Kyle Padilla
Minister of Contemporary Worship
Posted by Kyle Padilla with

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