Pastor Keith’s Blog

Everyone Left Me

Standing alone in the midst of life’s challenges can be one of the most undermining emotional challenges.  On top of the empty feeling that there are none who are willing to be with you is the constant mental nagging of questions.  “What did I do wrong?”  “Should I have done things differently?” “Was I right to insist on my perspective?”  “How can I draw those others back to me?”

Towards the end of the Apostle Paul’s ministry, he finds himself being deserted by those whom he had trusted and by those whom he had poured his life into.  In 2 Tim 4:16  Paul says, “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.”  It is interesting that as Paul assessed himself as being one who was deserted, his first response was to state that he did not want his being abandoned to be charged against the deserters.  While it might have been easy for Paul to justify what is happening to him by blaming character flaws, weaknesses, unbelief or fear within the ones who deserted him.  He declares that he did not want this to be charged against them.  He did not want to go down the road, or the train of thought whereby he would accuse or blame others for the present situation that he was in.  This would not be the typical type of response which people would have.

Most people, because they can’t handle having to admit that they have problems, blame others for the situations that they are in.  We first see this when Adam in the garden of Eden blamed both God and Eve for his sinful action, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” (Gen 3:12).

It is the next verse that Paul shares what empowered Paul so that he would not blame others but so he would actually want the best for those that had deserted him.  “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me … “(vs 17).  An awareness that God was with him gave him an ability to resist the tendency to blame others or to charge them for his struggles.

Our awareness of God being with us will enable us to stand when others are not supportive of us and to not blame others for our mistakes.  The good news is that we need not be alone for we can all experience the strength of “Emmanuel – God with us”.  Take some time to meditate on how our Lord Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us.  What strength this brings to us!


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Melody Beattie,a Christian author stated that, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.   It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

It is no wonder that we are exhorted to give “thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:20).  Thanksgiving helps to keep us from the discontentment which is easily portrayed in our ever greedy society.

This Thanksgiving Season, take extra time to reflect on what you can be thankful for, instead of the desires that you have.


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A Response To “So How Did You Do It?”

After posting some thoughts on what kept our marriage strong, my wife Susan said there was another aspect which she had to constantly apply, these are her thoughts.

“Relationships with our spouse, parents, children, relatives, coworkers, and acquaintances are considered to be a positive, supportive and affirming experience.  Yet it seems that relationships are also opportunities for misunderstanding, hurt, and offence, all of which are an habitat for negative emotions, words and actions.”

“Sometimes I realized that I was reacting rather than responding.  The reactions always led to pain for myself, the relationship and others around me.”

“At times of disagreement, frustration or anger in our relationship I started to realize my comebacks and arguments were only an attempt to shut down Keith.  I began to question why I would do that to someone I actually liked, cared for and loved.  I began to realize I was only going to say something that I would regret later on and have to ask forgiveness for.  So I began to say nothing at these times because I didn’t know how to address the situation without making it worse.”

“Now I had another problem in that; the situation was not resolved (at least not for myself).  Therefore I went to the only one who I thought knew Keith the best, the Lord, his creator.  My first attempts of prayer were weak and more of a, “help me Lord, I don’t know what to do” crying session but the “Ever Faithful One” started to speak to me during those times.  Sometimes He would give me a question to ask, or to help me obtain understanding He would provide wording that was less harsh or aggressive.  Other times I would receive an insight into the emotions, circumstances or reasons why the situation became what it was.  Gaining empathy and insight provided an understanding and therefore the ability to agree with the topic I had not agreed with before.  Other times the Lord gave creative perspectives to address the situation which could further stimulate creative solutions.  As a result I had to be brave enough to go back and bring the subject up again with Keith but I found we had a better conversation with a result I was more at peace with.”

“My time with the Lord was never about how I was right or how I could get my way but it was about how can I have a difference of opinion without hurting Keith and how can I have peace in my heart about the topic we had discussed.”

“In the midst of reflection and prayer I started a pattern of becoming quiet and not speaking about the topic or circumstance for some time.  At times it was days until I felt I had some direction from God or an opportunity to bring it up again.  The response from Keith was that being quiet and walking away would not help anything – so I had to explain myself; how I needed time to pray so I could gain understanding, perspective, possible actions to the topic of conversation so I could respond rather than react to the discussion and subject of discomfort.”

“Once Keith understood the reason for my silence, it brought about an openness in both of us which allowed for hearty discussion and debate without hurtful words and actions.”

Scripture encourages us to seek understanding.  This understanding then enables us to overcome or cast down the false imaginations that negatively affect us. (Prov. 4:5; 2 Cor. 10:5)

“Perhaps there are areas where you need to go to the Lord with your  issue, wait and listen until He gives enough insight to go back to the discussion, not with a reaction but with a response to further discussion and a resolution.  What areas do you need to bring your thoughts, ideas and opinions to Christ for adjustment and replacement?”


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Congratulations – So How Did You Do It?


It’s been 40 years and three days and Susan and I are still happily married.  Some of you might be asking, “What is the key to your success”, or “How did you manage to do it?”  I’d like to say that we were smart and just knew all about how to live our lives in harmony, but that would be a lie.  I could play the “pastor” card and say, “Of course if you were married to a good pastor like me, then obviously the marriage will last”, but that would be quite arrogant on my part and would not speak to the fact that there are many good pastors who have bad marriages and there are many bad pastors who have good marriages.

I know that in our marriage there were things that we did and things that we did not do, but those in themselves would not have been sufficient to have kept us together.    Early in our relationship we embraced some common values that we endeavoured to walk out.  Some of these are:

  • We tried not get caught up in the roles of a husband and wife.  When we got married we were both in full time university, for both of us our class loads, assignments, schedules and commitments were overwhelming.  Instead of expecting that there be specific places or roles from which we individually functioned, we realized that there needed to be a true division of labour, which meant that we both needed to help each other.  We did not set out parameters whereby one was to cook the meals, clean the house, do the dishes, etc., instead whoever had spare time automatically needed to help the other.  By working together both would survive; to expect special rights for oneself would always be at the expense of both of us.
  • We realized that sacrificing for each other would be essential.  Being poor university students meant there was no extra cash for personal splurging.  Our first apartment was costing us $125.00 a month and that was stretching our budget to the maximum.  Though we didn’t have much money we were in love.  Unfortunately love didn’t supply money, but it did mean that we willingly sacrificed for each other and for the good of the marriage. There were many niceties that we lived without, there were personal desires which we sacrificed. If one of us were to splurge and enjoy life, that might mean that the rent or the grocery money might not be present when needed.  Then both would suffer.
  • Of course our Christian faith was very important, but our faith was not just a nice thought, it was what we tried to live out daily.  This meant that in personal ways, we regularly allowed the Holy Spirit to challenge our hearts and help bring change from the inside.  Outward pressure only lasts for a short period of time, but God changing from the inside is long lasting.  Our constant love for Jesus kept us soft and tender towards each other.  I would often tell Susan that she should “pray that I love Jesus more, because the more I loved Him, the more I had a love and concern for her.”
  • Gratitude is essential in a relationship.  There will never be a shortage of opportunities to be irritated.  In looking at elderly people we saw that many were constantly complaining and whining, never content.  We did not want to be like that, so we have chosen to see good in situations and to be grateful for the little and also the large.

All real relationships will have struggles and rewards.  However, good relationship have more rewards than struggles.

Ask our Lord Jesus for help in keeping your relationships strong and pure.  Take a moment to value the relationships that you have.  Think about the blessings that you have received from your relationships, and then take some time to think about what you can do to support and encourage the lives of those that are close to you.


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