Things I've Learned from a Fallen Pastor: Part 2

Things I've Learned
From a Fallen Pastor: Part 2A
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
February 12th & 19th, 2017
Image courtesy of Tuomas_Lehtinen at

This message was broken up in to two Sunday sermons.  Below you will find part 2A and 2B.

Listen to Part 2A here.

Click here to Download an audio file of the sermon.

Listen to Part 2B here.

Click here to Download an audio file of the sermon.

Things I've Learned from a Fallen Pastor:
This message comes from a former pastor whose life is upside down right now.  Just one year ago, Pete Wilson was the pastor of a growing and thriving mega church in Nashville, TN.  He was a husband, a father and successful author.  Seemingly, he had everything.  But just one year later, he has stepped down from his role as pastor of Cross Point and is currently going through a divorce.  Needless to say, his life is completely upside down.

Now, I don’t know the reasons why all of these things are happening, and truthfully, it doesn’t matter.  I don’t tell you all of this to spread gossip, for there is no value in doing so.  The reason, I tell you this, is because at some point in all of our lives, we seem upside down too.  Life was going great and then all of a sudden a car wreck, a doctor’s diagnosis, or some other major life event turns our life upside down and we are left wondering…what do I do next?  How do I do life this way?

A few weeks ago, Pete posted something on Facebook at a time when his life is pretty low, that I think really points us in the right direction when our life is pretty low as well.

Here is what he posted:

“Life can be tough some days, can’t it? In my current season of life I’ve been wrestling with some old, but familiar demons of insecurity. Questions that I know the real answers to such as…

Do you have what it takes to do what God’s called you to do?
Do you really bring value to the table anymore?
Or are your best days behind you?

Those doubts and questions have all been ferociously and relentlessly haunting me. Isn’t it true that when life isn’t working out the way you want life to work out, or when you feel defeated and crushed, when your relational world is falling apart, or when you keep praying and praying and praying about something but there’s no progress that you start to wonder…

God where are you?
God why aren’t you answering?
Do you know?
Do you care?

We wonder if there is anything that STILL holds true.

Early this morning as I was still trying to search internally for some answers, I came across one of my favorite verses.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

I’ll be honest. I don’t have a clue what you might be going through today. But even in the face of your difficult and unexplainable circumstances I think certain things still hold true.

I believe…
Hope is still stronger than despair.
There is a God who still answers prayer.
His mercies are still new every morning.
His forgiveness is still stronger than sin.
His guidance is still greater than human confusion.
His promises still remain more certain than human fear.”

Wow, those are some pretty powerful words there aren’t they.   And I think that when life is falling apart around us these are the things we need to remember and what we need to hold on to.

So, today, we are going to take a look at each one of these 6 belief statements, and see how we can apply them to our lives.  So, let’s look at these 6 “belief” statements.

1. I believe Hope is still Stronger than despair
When I did a search on this topic a few weeks ago,  I found a definition of despair that really stuck with me and it said that Despair is the loss of Hope.

And the reason that this is important to us is because when we find our life upside down and all of those things that we had before are now gone…no money…no reputation…no home…no family….when we find our lives suddenly upside down…it is pretty easy for us to be in despair and to get down, to become depressed.

But here is the deal the reason we find ourselves in despair, is because we have lost hope…but the question is, what have we loss hope in?  We have lost hope in those things we don’t have anymore.

And what this tells us is that when we find ourselves in despair…or a loss of hope…it means we were putting our hope in the wrong things.  However, When we place our hope in Jesus instead we will never find ourselves in despair, no matter what the circumstances.

2 Corinthians 4:8
We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; 9 we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.

2. There is a God who still answers prayer.
There are really two parts to this statement…
A. There is a God…
B. He answers prayer…

So let’s start with the first…
2.a. - I believe that there is a God…
If we are honest with ourselves when our life gets turned upside down, sometimes it’s hard to remember that.  We begin to ask the question...God are you there?

But here is the deal, and here is what scripture tells us.  There is a God and his glory is seen throughout the earth.

Isaiah 6:2-3
Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.And one called to another:
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;
His glory fills the whole earth.

What this means for us, is that when life gets down and we start to doubt all we have to do is open our eyes and look at the world around us (even in today’s world).  When we do, we will be able to see His glory in this world and we will be reminded that there must be a God.

Whether you see His glory in the beauty of a sunset, or in the complexity of DNA…  Whether you see his glory in the love between a couple or the innocence of a child…If we simply open our eyes and look, we will see His glory reflected throughout the earth.

2.b. And He still answers prayer
Matthew 7:7
“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

The real question is do we believe that.  I know we know it, in our heads …but do we believe it in our hearts when things get tough?

Sometimes when life get’s tough and it refuses to let up, I think we sometimes start praying without hope…without belief…without conviction…that God will answer our prayer.  But we have to pray with hope, with belief and with conviction that there will be answer (whether we like that answer is a different story…but there will be an answer).

3. I believe His mercies are still new every morning…

Lamentations 3:22-23
Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
23 They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!

When I read this scripture the image I get in my mind is that moment, when you go to bed at night…and your kids or your wife…have been getting on your last nerves…right?  I mean, you are on the edge…but you go to bed, and you get a good night’s sleep…and in the morning, when you wake up and you see your beautiful children laying in bed… somehow the good night’s rest has given you a new set of nerves…

Now, I’m going to be honest with you, I’m not sure if this scripture is saying that we get on God’s last nerve and in the morning His mercies are new…somehow, I don’t really think that’s how it works.  God is full of grace and  mercy, and I don’t think it is possible for us to get on his last nerve.

But for me, what this belief statement is really saying is that despite our past and despite our past sins, once we have dealt with those things, and asked for forgiveness…That God doesn’t hold grudges.  This scripture tells us that God’s mercies never end.  And so if we find ourselves at a low point in our lives, because of our own doing and our own sin or we have screwed life up so bad…through our mistakes and bad choices…that life can’t get any lower.  We need to remember, and rely on, and place hope in the fact, that God’s mercies never end.

4. I believe His forgiveness is stronger than sin

There is a concept here that is very important to us, and is very important to our faith.  In fact, it is the foundation of our faith and the concept is that Jesus took on our sin, died on the cross BUT THEN HE OVER CAME THE GRAVE…  Now why is this important?

First it proves Jesus’ Godliness.  Not only did He have power over sickness and nature but He also had power over His own death.  This proves, His Godly nature.

The second reason it is foundational is because it proves He has power over sin.  And if He has power over sin.  He has the power to forgive us of our sin and as I John 1:9 says, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This statement is particularly important to us when life is upside down, and we are in a mess.  God can forgive us and our mistake does not have to follow us for the rest of eternity.  We may have to deal with the worldly fallout from our sin.  But this worldly fallout is only temporary, and the weight of our sin, will not follow us for eternity.

5. I believe His guidance is still greater than Human confusion

This is how Pete worded it in his post…But I’m also going to add to this statement that I believe His guidance is still greater than Human wisdom.

I Corinthians 3:19 says
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written: He catches the wise in their craftiness;

I am 41 years old and I’m a pretty smart fella… all things considered.  And I don’t mean that in a conceded way just in general. After 41 years of life, I’ve learned a lot and have grown in wisdom but how smart and wise do you think I would be after 240 years of life?  Or after 540 years of life? I’d be able to run circles around my 41 year old self wouldn’t I?  Absolutely!

Well, then, this begs the question…how old is God?  The truth is He has always been….that is to say, He is infinitly old…meaning that He is infinitely wise.  This is the very nature of God.

So, ultimately what this means is that when I don’t understand how God is being fair…and I don’t understand why God isn’t doing something…or I don’t understand how I’m going to get out of this mess if I do what God tells me to do…It simply means I don’t understand.

Just because we don’t understand how God is being fair, how God is just, why God does things and allows things, and doesn’t do other things…does not mean that they aren’t fair, just or good.  In the grand scheme of eternity, we are but infants…so how can we possibly, think that we can understand God’s ways?

6. I believe His promises still remain more certain than human fear.

The hope we have in God’s promises: that He loves us, that He has plans for our welfare not for disaster, that He will save those who believe in Him…The hope we have in these promises is at the core of our faith.

And what this statement is saying is that these promises are far more certain to come true than what we fear will come true.  In fact, it is in God’s nature, that what He speaks, happens.

In the beginning, God said let there be light…and there was light.

He Spoke…and it happened.

Jesus, in Matthew 21, cursed a fig tree…the next day…it was withered.

He Spoke and it happened…

In mark Chapter 4, Jesus said, peace be still…. And the winds calmed and the sea became still.

He spoke and it happened….

It is God’s nature, that what He speaks will happen.  So, when God speaks a promise…it will happen.

Our fear…will come and go…and when that fear is gone, we will be left with His promises.

All of these belief statements are very powerful and helpful to us. And when we find that suddenly our lives are turned upside down:

When sudden life doesn’t look like it did yesterday and we don’t know how we are going to do life…
With Cancer…  
Without our husband or wife…
When we are pregnant when we shouldn’t be…
When alcoholism catches up with us…
When we’ve cheated on a spouse…

When life is upside down…and we are scared and don’t know what to do…We must hold on to these beliefs with all we’ve got.

I believe:
Hope is Still stronger than Despair
There is a God who still answers prayer
His mercies ARE new every morning
His forgiveness is still stronger than sin
His guidance is still greater than human confusion or wisdom
And His promises still remain more certain than human fear.

My prayer for you is that I hope you never find yourself in a place where life is upside down, but if you do…that you will hang on to these beliefs will all you got, until you are through the storm.

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