The Blessings and Benefits of Hard Times

From time to time I come across great truths and great quotes in my devotional reading that I feel should be shared with others.  One of my favorite devotional resources is “Streams in the Desert”, volume one, by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. The following quotation from A.B. Simpson is in the May 18 devotional.

“The pressure of hard places makes us value life.  Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much  it is worth, and make more of it for God and man.  The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.

There is the shallow, superficial nature, that gets hold of a theory or a promise lightly, and talks very glibly about the distrust of those who shrink from every trial; but the man or woman who has suffered much never does this, but is tender and gentle, and knows what suffering  really means.  This is what Paul meant when he said, “Death worketh in you.”

Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves.”  A.B. Simpson


My New Ministry Assignment: Director of Missions

On May 12, 2016 Sandra and I drove to Anniston, Alabama to have dinner with the members of the Director of Missions search team and some members of staff.  Following dinner we went to a meeting of the Calhoun County Baptist Association Executive Committee. I was presented to the Executive Committee by Dr. Garry Ragsdale, chairman of the search committee, as the committee’s recommendation for Director of Missions.  This would be the culmination of the interview process with the search committee.

Sandra and I both were warmly received. The atmosphere was welcoming and gracious. I was given the opportunity to share a word with the Executive Committee members. I spoke briefly from Philippians 3:10-14. My desire in those moments was to share my heart and my passion. My emphasis was on knowing Christ personally and intimately. I stated that I hold the belief that ministry should come from the overflow of our personal walk with the Lord.

Along the way in the interview process the Lord gave me three words that I believe are to be the stack poles for my ministry…at least in the early stages. I shared with those present that these three words express my desire and my aim as the new Director of Missions.

I spoke of: HOLINESS, I Peter 1:16, “…because it is written, ‘Be holy for I am holy.'” This word speaks to the character of the servant of God and is the starting place in all true biblical ministry. Ministry flows out of our relationship with Christ.

The next word is: HEALTHY, Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” This text presents a description of an unhealthy Christian. Our aim as spiritual leaders should be to present mature, healthy saints to the Lord, Colossians 1:28-29.

My third word is HAPPINESS, Nehemiah 8:10, “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” You have to read this verse in its context. Nehemiah, a great spiritual leader spoke to these words to encourage those who were busy serving the Lord.

HOLY…HEALTHY…HAPPY…These three words touch on critical areas of the life of the servant of God.

Sandra and I left the room while the committee members submitted their votes.  In a few minutes we were called back to the meeting room and Dr. Ragsdale announced to us that the body had cast a unanimous vote to call me as Director of Missions.  It was a significant moment in my life.  Sandra and I both sense God’s leadership in this matter.  Our hearts are filled with peace.  I am genuinely excited about this new chapter in my life.  I thank God for the opportunity to take what I have learned in 42 years of pastoral ministry and use it to benefit pastors, church staff and congregations.

I look forward to serving the Lord and God’s people in Calhoun County. I look forward to teaming up with a good, seasoned and hard working staff. It is my prayer that we can build a team that will greatly assist pastors and churches in Calhoun county advance the Kingdom of God…For the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Roger Willmore