I raised my ten-year old hand when Paul Lindell, a missionary, came to town. I don’t remember the moment, but my parents let me know years later. It took. I knew in high school that I was going to be a pastor. I was different from the guys I connected with, not mature enough to reach out to them, but they respected me. I was filled with the Holy Spirit the summer after graduation. Praise God for that.

College days were good, growing in the Lord. Under the influence of Hal Lindsey at UCLA, I spent two years at Dallas Seminary. Then I took a year off to teach at a Bible college in Kenya, study in Israel and travel, before deciding that I was homesick. After a summer with family, I headed for my final year of seminary at Luther in St. Paul. It was the worst/best year of my life. I went from the happy, outgoing, young man to the withdrawn, fearful, depressed senior who was supposed to be ordained in a year into the ministry. Didn’t look like it. I was attempting to reach out to my fellow classmates, though it was not easy to connect. They talked about gross things at lunch, yet I still wanted to reach and impact them. B. Mark Anderson, a pastor friend in Iowa, was my pillar during those months. I was sometimes consumed by fear. I was afraid to answer the phone in my room, not sure what to say, and I certainly did not want to lead chapel, the responsibility of every senior once before they graduate. I didn’t want to raise my hand in class for fear I might stutter or say the wrong thing. And yet in my darkness, God drew close to me. I prayed often with those who wanted to be filled with the Holy Spirit, though I don’t remember doing it.

The impact of this difficult year hung with me for years. I got the wind knocked out, and it took time to regain confidence, though I was thrust immediately into full-on ministry the fall after graduation. Being a pastor fit the person God had made me. Little by little He healed me from the darkness, and I had twenty-four rich years at Trinity that included marrying Karen and having six children, before being called to direct Lutheran Renewal.

A year after starting my new role, Dick Denny, lay leader at LR, said to me one day, “Hey, you missed the pastors’ meeting today.” I said, “Yeah, couldn’t be there.” He responded, “You should have.” I wondered why. Seemed like he was getting in my face. I asked why it was so important. He responded, “Many of the pastors said that their lives were dramatically changed when you prayed for them at Luther Seminary.” I was shocked. I couldn’t remember one of them. And yet in my darkness, the light continued to shine. I share this to comfort those who go through dark and difficult times. God is especially near to you in your brokenness. He doesn’t abandon you when you are struggling, and you still shine with the brightness of Christ!



The inactivity of God looks as one of the most disturbing silences for those who suffer. Why doesn’t God say more? Why doesn’t He do something? If He is all-loving and all powerful, He both wants to and is able to help me. Maybe He is not as powerful as I thought. Or we interpret God’s silence as His disfavor. Maybe I was wrong in asking. Perhaps my timing was off. Maybe I need to learn something first. He’s probably teaching me a lesson because of what I did last month—or last year. Questions bombard our troubled minds as we attempt to take a passive God off the hook. It is hard to be ignored, especially by heaven. We want to ask, “Don’t you see me, God? Can’t you hear? Why aren’t you doing more?”

At other times we take His non-response as absence. If He is not talking, He must not be here. He is not as close as I had hoped. For the Canaanite woman, the silence of Jesus could certainly have translated into indifference. Was He not even moved by a heartfelt request? 

In fact, silence often reveals love. Jesus is drawing this woman into a place where she will see His power demonstrated. He is quietly setting her up for a miracle. She could have missed it by responding wrongly to His inactivity. Jesus knew her heart. He saw her pressing in. He risked the silence because she would not be turned away. He was always moved by the human condition. He stopped a funeral process because of a weeping mother. He stopped many synagogue services because of the sick. And “the man of sorrows” stopped a crowd on the way to care for a girl to bring healing to a desperate woman with a twelve-year old malady. 


While He was silent, the disciples were not; they were irritated. Some people are bugged by our hardships. What plagues us perturbs others. No one can feel for the daughter the way the mother does. The disciples wanted their time with Jesus. “So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us’” (v. 23). Make that the second ‘no’ this Gentile woman received.  Hardly encouraging words. This flies in the face of everything she has heard concerning Jesus and His band of men. She could easily have left at this point with hurt feelings, hardened against ever believing again.

This was not the first time that the disciples wanted to send someone away. They tried to transport a crowd of five thousand plus, hoping for some down time with Jesus. It didn’t work then either. Jesus was not irritated as the disciples were—but His silence could make it look that way. They wrongly took his silence for apathy.


When Jesus opened His mouth, it was worse than His silence. He said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (v. 24). The Son of David knew His target audience—and she didn’t fit. She had recognized that there was something about Him and His religion that she didn’t have.  But then Jesus let her know that she was the wrong nationality. Too bad for this Canaanite. It’s hard to know that you won’t receive preferential treatment, that you’re second rate. God has His close friends. You just don’t happen to be one of them. Rebuff number three. But she still somehow heard love coming from Jesus, even behind the sharp words that should have excluded her from His help. (Part 3 next).


Jesus once told a story about a widow who persevered and received what she needed. It came from a judge who wasn’t inclined to help her. Jesus told it so that we would  “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). He concluded the parable by asking this troublesome question: “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (v. 8). Jesus saw many quitting as end-time pressures escalated. He was spelling faith p-e-r-s-I-s-t-e-n-c-e, and few things gave Him more encouragement than seeing it lived out. Two things moved Him deeply—great faith and the lack of it. He told a would-be disciple who had competing priorities, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). 

He illustrated persistence—faith for the long haul—through the host who is surprised (and food-less) by a midnight guest and goes next door. He is rebuffed by his friend who says: “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything” (Luke 11:7). Sounds like a ‘no’ to me. Wouldn’t that have sent you away? Not the desperate inquirer. He was not prepared to accept anything but a positive answer—and he walked away with the bread. 

I was preparing to speak to a group of pastors in Finland. As I prayed I saw a picture of people throwing in the towel. So before the message, I asked ministers to stand who had considered quitting within the last few weeks—and ten rose. I wasn’t expecting that kind of response. Pressures that did not let up made them look at their alternatives.

I ran a few marathons in my younger days. On the race that I had trained for the least, my mind kept thinking of other things I would rather be doing, like sitting in a jacuzzi. Winning the mental battle rivaled the physical pain. Giving up looked like a good option.

Now to an example of persistence that deeply impressed Jesus. He had just experienced another unsettling encounter with the religious leadership. He withdrew to the north of Galilee for a retreat with His disciples. “He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it” (Mark 7:24), but it usually didn’t work for the Son of Man to travel incognito. “A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession’” (Matt. 15:22). She properly identified Him not only as “Lord,” but this non-Jew called Him the “Son of David.” The Jesus we know is moved by the faith of parents on behalf of their children who struggle, especially when the cause is rooted in the arch-enemy of Christ, and especially when we are told that it is a little girl, hopelessly demonized (7:25). We expect Jesus to respond quickly. Every instance in the Gospels shows Jesus responding to such a request—but this one. Matthew says that “Jesus did not answer a word” (v. 23). Not a glance. Not a knowing nod that could say, “I am thinking about it.” Not a polite, “I’ll be with you in a moment.” Nothing. Ouch. (Part 2 & 3 coming).


The angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah that his son would minister “in the spirit and power of Elijah…to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (Luke 1:17).  Wow. Johnny heard about that while growing up! When Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John, only two from the old covenant appeared with him, Moses and Elijah, representing law and prophets. The last passage of the Old Testament says, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes” (Malachi 4:5). Either Elijah himself will come or someone in the spirit of Elijah to bring a mighty endtime movement. When John staged a powerful revival following four centuries of spiritual draught, people wondered if he was Elijah. Jesus said that Elijah would come before the end to “restore all things.” Then he added, “‘Elijah has already come, and…they did to him whatever they pleased’…Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:11-13).

Both men brought significant spiritual renewal. They opened the door for the next great event, then were removed, Elijah by way of a heavenly chariot, John by having his head cut off.

Both men near the end succumbed to discouragement. It is shocking to see such men so emptied of courage. Elijah was fearful, suicidal, thought he was the only faithful one left (off by 7000), and saw no reason to live. John, who had astounding revelation of Jesus and who staged the greatest revival Israel had ever seen, wondered if Jesus was the Messiah. Both went from massive victories to doubt about the future, submerged by circumstances.

We have the choice to be overcome by evil or to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). A demonized woman turned Elijah from a bold prophet to a terrorized coward. John the Baptist pointed people away from himself to Christ, but when he saw life from behind bars, he couldn’t see straight. Both said things out of character.

That happens to people who choose discouragement. Courage is the willingness and faith to do the next thing–regardless. For Elijah that was to take out the Queen and continue the onslaught against Baal. The next thing for John was to decrease, while continuing to point people to Jesus. When his disciples were concerned that Jesus was getting more followers, John reminded them that he was not the bridegroom but the friend of the bridegroom, in other words, not on center stage. He concluded by saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).  So far so good.

Elijah chose (a big word) to run. Fear overtook faith and changed him from a winner to a wimp. Instead of taking out more rebels, he wanted to die. John stared at the unknown from behind bars. Instead of proclaiming the Lamb of God as he had done profoundly, he was asking if he should look elsewhere. Not a good witness to your followers, John.

God asked a great question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  He gave a puny answer. God gave him one clear assignment before his time was over: he was to anoint Hazael king of Syria, Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha a prophet in his place. Because of God’s kindness, Elijah finished strong and was transported to heaven.

John didn’t get the same ride, but he did get the greatest affirmation ever coming from Jesus: “Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). Still, it is sad to remember that his last public action was to question the Messiah.

Discouragement is not…

A right.  You look at your situation and determine that discouragement fits the outlook.Then you are living under the circumstances, a bad place to hang out.

A remedy. Discouragement does not advance your cause or overcome your sadness. It works against you.

A responsibility. You are not required to answer the door and let discouragement in. Your complex situation need not add up to discouragement.

It does not work because it puts you on center stage. It is about you and your problems, not the King and his solutions. Discouragements makes you think, say, and do stupid things, blinding you to the needs of others, making you self-absorbed. You are out of commission, a bad place to be. How about closing the door to discouragement–always, and being an overcomer?!


Karen just left for a cruise with her three siblings, paid for by her parents who are also going (at 95 and 94). She called to inform me that her carry-on suitcase that she checked had been lost. Then the airlines reported by scanning that it had come down to baggage claim and must have been stolen. Airline personnel said it happens to one in 500 bags!! Some people go to baggage claim specifically to steal. Karen will be reimbursed for losses, including jewelry I bought for her in Brazil and Prague. She put her valuables in the carry-on and the meds she was taking. VERY unsettling as you can imagine.

I felt for her. What a way to start a cruise with her family, hit hard before the cruise ever started. So I called her the first night. They were on the ship, but it had not departed. I could tell she was having fun with her siblings, whom I could hear in the background, meeting up from different parts of the country. I asked her about the luggage. She had already dealt with it emotionally and chose to have a good time. I was proud of her for living above her circumstances rather than under. She could have been discouraged and down. Not in the slightest.

We hear people say, “Under the circumstances, I am doing okay.” Why would we want to live under our circumstances? Not a good place to land.  Way to go, Karen!! Take it as a good lesson. Things that could rob us of joy don’t need to. We choose not to give any person or circumstance the power to make us miserable!! People sadly do it all the time–at the workplace with a grouchy boss, in a marriage with an unforgiving spouse, on our block with a neighbor who refuses to turn down his blasting radio. We can understand why horrendous circumstances could rob people of joy and peace. I am just saying that it doesn’t need to.

Are people getting you down? Are circumstances taking away your joy? Are we to pretend that we are happy when we are not? Paul tells us, “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thess. 5:15-18). Yeah, who’s talking?? I’ll tell you–a man who was stoned, left for dead, run out of town often, physically and emotionally abused many times, shipwrecked, thrown in jail for years at a time. He can talk! Might be a good idea to listen. It worked for Karen–and it will work for you!


If you’re having a difficult day at work, but you were invited to a Twins World Series game in the evening, the day just got easier. If your week includes two difficult assignments, but you have a ski on the weekend, the week’s doable. If winter breaks records for the coldest and longest, a summer month-long trip to the Bahamas enabling you to endure well. If your life has included unbelievable setbacks, heaven looks beyond all imagination.

Destroy someone’s hope, and they start dying before they stop breathing. On the other hand, hope for tomorrow gives you a hold on today. Does anyone live that way? Listen to Paul: “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). You might feel like saying, “Who is calling my affliction ‘light and momentary’? It’s heavy and long-lasting.” I’ll tell you who–a man who endured far more than we ever will–multiple beatings, shipwrecks, sleepless nights, stoning, and more. If you have eight parts of affliction and only two parts of hope, the affliction overpowers you. But if you have twelve parts of affliction, and thirty parts of hope, you are being fueled by the future, and hope wins.

Do you know anyone who has blazing hope? I will tell you how they live. They don’t seem to be taken down by what takes down normal people. They have their share of hardships, but they don’t complain about them much. They are too busy praising God for his goodness, even in the midst of trials. They are not immersed in their circumstances; they are asking you about yours. It feels like they have one foot in eternity. They don’t–they have both feet.  Peter told suffering saints, “Set you hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). In other words, put all your marbles in the world to come. That way nothing today robs you of peace.

Oh, we’ll have some doozies. The man who called his hardships “light and momentary” said earlier in the same letter that “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). For some life can become almost unbearably difficult. So while we “rejoice with those who rejoice,” we continue to “weep with those who weep.” But, we help one another not to abandon the hope that we are marked for eternity. Ninety years here is an infinitesimal fraction compared to forever.

Look who faced disabilities without letting it disable them.  Maybe they can give you hope rather than dismantled by difficulties. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for “lack of ideas.” Helen Keller was the first blind and deaf person to get a college degree. Marla Runyan was the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics–as a runner. Beethoven composed some of his greatest masterpieces while deaf. Christy Brown, an Irish painter and writer, could only use his foot for writing and painting. Albert Einstein had a learning disability and didn’t speak until he was three. John Milton became blind at 43 and still wrote his most famous work, Paradise Lost. Thomas Edison frustrated his teachers, too stupid to “get it.” Henry Ford went broke five times before he made it. Anchor your hope in eternity–and live with joy today!


Really? A young man I mentor spent a large portion of his life discouraged. It had never occurred to him that it might be sin. Seemed like it was a condition brought on sort of naturally by adverse circumstances. You accept it and work your way through it. But if it is sin, then it can be overcome, because that is what Jesus died for. Made sense to him.

Some would say, “It can’t be sin because you can’t help it.” Could Elijah have helped it? He ran south under the threat of Jezebel. He surrendered to discouragement. It seemed out of character for one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament.

What about John the Baptist? “He must increase and I must decrease.” As he starts to decrease, it doesn’t feel good. Could he have avoided it or was discouragement inevitable? He received a gentle rebuke from Jesus. He didn’t have to give in to discouragement. He could have kept his eyes on Jesus during his imprisonment, but discouragement blinded him.

Can you avoid it or do circumstances stack up in such a way that losing your joy, your fire, your concentration, your ability to praise the Lord at all times evaporates? Satan has something to do with discouragement. He steals, kills and destroys.

Here are two ways to not be discouraged.

1.YOU DECIDE NOT TO BE. “Oh, come on. Not that easy.” Okay, how does a person overcome the temptation to cross the line and sleep with his girlfriend at 1 AM in her apartment? He decides. He leaves rather than playing with fire. It’s all in his mind. Same with any sin. You choose not to. After giving in too often to discouragement, I chose not to be discouraged when a ministry we had for ten years was going down–little by little. I had to lock the door on discouragement each week. I knew it was not inevitable. It wasn’t going to help me. It was going to render me incapable of helping others during this difficult time. It is selfish for a pastor, a parent, a leader, a mother, a young adult to give in to discouragement. When my friend saw it as a decision, it encouraged him that he could do it–and he did!

2. YOU SPEAK IN TONGUES. “Are you really saying that? You just speak in tongues?” Yes. The Bible says, “He that speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” That is one incredible Scripture that we read, smile at, and go on. Wait a minute. Do you know anyone overdosing on encouragement, that needs a little discouragement in his life? Okay, do you know anyone who is battling discouragement on a daily basis and needing to be built up? The infallible, unalterable, unchangeable Word of God tells us we are built up when we speak in tongues. “Doesn’t work for me. And it doesn’t build me up that much. I don’t feel any different actually.” Right, and because you don’t, you only do it once in a while, and you do not do it in faith. The greatest apostle the world has ever seen said, “I am glad that I speak in tongues more than you all.” Do you think that has anything to do with his response in the back of a dungeon, locked in clamps unjustly, beaten without cause, and it’s midnight? He leans over to Silas and says, “Do you know any good choruses?” He was choosing not to live by his circumstances but by the Word of God. It will work for you as well.


Moses is dead. He will be missed. He had totally dismantled the most powerful nation of the world–in one week. He also managed to wipe out the Egyptian army with one wave of his rod. He was the human instrument for signs and wonders of colossal proportion never seen before or since on the planet. He took a nation of two million on a hike–for forty years–through barren land. During that time their shoes and clothes did not wear out. They were served up breakfast from heaven every day. He made water flow from a rock two times. He spoke with God face to face on a regular basis.

Now Joshua is taking over. “Okay, go for it, Josh.”  Hard act to follow? No. Forty years of hard acts. Joshua is told to take the nation across the river and bring them into a hostile land that would be theirs if they can overcome the nationals who have other plans for them.

God speaks to Joshua, at least hesitant about his job description if not shaking in his sandals: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Really? Don’t be discouraged? With what he has been handed? That is an impossible command. Who could obey it? How could he not give in from time to time? Come to think of it, what command is possible? How about, “Pray without ceasing,” or “Rejoice in the Lord always,” or “Have no anxiety about anything?” Every command of God is an impossibility. If they were not, we could pull of the Christian life without the aid of the Holy Spirit.

It is supernatural from start to finish. Jesus made it clear: “Without me you can do nothing.” “Nothing” is not much. The task was way beyond Joshua’s abilities. How would he handle the thousand issues sure to come up as a nation makes its way across the Jordan and into a foreign land? Ongoing discouragement with daily insurmountable issues would be likely. God spoke to him at the outset to make sure he would not surrender to its subtle invitation, because God knows what discouragement does to us.

Three things about it:

  1. We make a decision to choose discouragement. We are not required to give into it when the situation at hand seems to suggest that we do. What makes some people cave in causes others to fly higher.
  2. To choose discouragement means that we are living circumstantially. We are allowing the situations of life to determine the level of our peace and joy. Welcome to the roller coaster life.
  3. Discouragement takes us out of our primary calling and puts us rather than God on center stage. It is all about us–our problems, our woes, our needs. Think Elijah, clearly on a role after calling down fire from heaven, then eliminating 450 false prophets, then calling for rain following a two-year drought. “Hey, Jezebel, you’re talking to the wrong person.” Sadly, her threat took him out of the main battle into an inferior one–the battle for his life.

Let’s not go there. May we obey an impossible command through the indwelling Holy Spirit and see God use us right in the midst of hardship! Sound good? No more discouragement–ever!


Discouragement knocked at the door last month. Eleven people showed up at our revival meeting. I didn’t answer the door. We had a great time without him.

Two months ago discouragement knocked on Sunday afternoon after I preached a less than average message. I opened the door for a couple hours, but then made him leave. He didn’t go easily, but I persisted, and he finally made his way out. Once in, he really wants to stay. It would have been better not to let him enter in the first place.

Ten years ago while the director of Lutheran Renewal, some memories surfaced that brought considerable pain. Discouragement knocked. I opened the door and invited him to stay, which he did for over a week. I was unaware of it, but he let Self-Pity in while I wasn’t looking, and they spent time together. They got on like long-time friends.

The whole atmosphere changed. I found it hard to laugh. I sure got serious. I talked freely about Discouragement both at home and at staff meetings. Decision-making was harder, and I made one dumb one, which I attribute to Discouragement’s influence on me. I really didn’t think right with him around. (Same for Elijah and John the Baptist).

Looking back, Discouragement seemed to make me focus upon myself, no doubt with help from Self-Pity. I relived my situation many times during that week. I got less done and had less energy because I had less joy. Toward the end of that time, I began to wonder why I had invited Discouragement in. He was anything but a friend. His presence sucked the energy out of me, robbed me of time, and took away an easy-going outlook. And I didn’t care for the people Discouragement hung around with.

That is why I didn’t open the door last month. I knew Discouragement was always looking for how to ruin peoples’ night—or week. Sadly, he has destroyed some peoples’ lives when they found it impossible to evict him. Some are so used to Discouragement living with them that they cannot imagine life with him. Others have managed to dismiss him, only to discover that he gets in again through the back door. And when he enters, he usually is able to kick Gratitude and Humility out while we’re sleeping or away at work. I don’t function well without these family members. And the longer he stays, the harder it is to kick him out. He seems to feel like he belongs. Strangely, we can feel like he does, too.

It’s possible, even if he keeps knocking, to ignore him. I have discovered that when I let him in,

  1. I think of myself too much and of others not enough;
  2. I waste time I don’t have—and get more discouraged;
  3. I turn from a victor to a victim;
  4. I get real serious and become a regular grouch.

Now I live by this principle: When Discouragement knocks, I don’t answer. Period!


A lion-hearted Elijah challenged the wavering Israelites: “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, then serve him. But if Baal is God, then serve him” (I Kings 18:21). The silence of the people condemned them.

So Elijah scripted a challenge to the Baal worshiper—two altars, two bulls: “The god who answers by fire—he is God” (24). Deal!

The prophets of Baal cried their hearts out all day to a god who was sleeping or taking a coffee break. No fire. It was evening and Elijah’s turn. He had them douse the altar and the trenches—three times. He was not going to make it easy for his God.

He prayed, “’Answer me, O Lord, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’ Then the fire of the Lord fell…” (37,38). The people got the point: “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” 450 prophets of Baal were slain at Elijah’s command. Hey, he called down fire—and it came! Then he dismantled the Baal worship. Not bad for one evening’s work.

Jezebel, not the least bit happy, put a contract on the prophet’s life. And Elijah ran for cover. James calls him a “man of like passions as ourselves.” We’re still surprised that a mighty prophet could be so intimidated by the queen and turn south. He had the big “mo” going for him. Revival could have broken out. He should have taken out Jezebel and continued the assault. Instead, he caved.

Discouraged people say and do stupid things. He thought he and God were the only ones left. He got suicidal and wanted to die. Come on, Elijah; this is not about you. Prophets run toward the conflict, not away from it. Giants not confronted get bigger.

Leaders need to know that they do not have the leisure of discouragement. It sidelines them, taking them away from the battle into one of inner turmoil, not a good thing for the people of God. It is selfish to be licking our wounds when we should be dressing wounds from real casualties. Victory rises and falls with leadership. Elijah listened to his fears—and left the battlefield.

Dear pastor, leader, disciple of Jesus: build up an immunity to discouragement. It is a luxury you dare not entertain. You are not entitled to it, and it will greatly limit the ability of the people under your care to overcome the darkness. Elijah ignored the momentum, and a wicked king remained in power. We cannot surrender to anyone the right to take away our courage, in other words, dis-courage us. Not our spouse, children, boss, pastor, or parents.

Discouragement blinds us to the ways of God, who uses conflict to secure the victory. Elijah was wrongly thinking preservation. The issue is never live or die. It is service, not survival. To obey or not obey—that is the question. As soon as we start thinking we need to save our skin, we make foolish decisions and leave the people to function on their own, while we fight an inferior battle.

So when discouragement knocks at the door, ask the Spirit to help you–and don’t answer!