Am I Called? is a ministry of Dave Harvey and friends, based in Four Oaks Church, in Tallahassee, Florida. We want to help men find their call to gospel ministry and to help churches find called men.
Through articles, regular blog posts, podcasts, and other resources, Am I Called? will help men evaluate whether or not they are called to pastoral ministry, as well as help churches find men who are called to pastoral ministry.

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Comforting Others: The Surprising Twist To Our Afflictions (Part Two)

By on July 26, 2016

The Corinthians and Comfort
In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul seeks to help the Corinthians understand the inextinguishable spring that supplies his comfort. The Corinthians are an unusual audience for this particular lesson since they have been in a decidedly ‘discomforting’ relationship.

Paul’s recipients had a self-esteem that soared way beyond reality These were the kind of Christians that received trophy’s for having consistent devotions. They saw themselves as markedly mature, but to Paul, they were still in diapers (1 Cor 3: 1-4; 1 Cor 5: 1). This was no easy partnership for Paul. The Corinthians believed lies, tolerated fools, followed imposters, boasted unashamedly, and betrayed Paul. But he had a soft spot for knuckleheads, and Paul still wanted the Corinthians to know how to find. He also wanted them to understand how to pass it along to others.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-6, Paul gives them three paths of travel to guide them towards lasting comfort:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.”

Upward
Paul first points the Corinthians upward to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (v. 3). This is not Paul including the obligatory ‘Godward’ point so that he can then wax practical and move on to the really helpful handles. Paul is unveiling the cornerstone of all enduring comfort – “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Go back and read that last paragraph. It really is that important. You made need it right now. If not, you will need it soon enough. And when the floods of distress and anxiety overwhelm, moving ‘upward’ may not seem very comforting. You see, there is a reflexive human instinct – deep in our DNA – to reach out for people when our souls are weighed down; we’re talking the flesh-and-blood variety of comfort. You’ve felt it. We want to talk it through, find a sounding board, bear our heart, find someone—anyone—with whom we can share our burden.

Paul guides this human instinct with divine truth. He doesn’t challenge the need, but the priority. For comfort to be ultimately meaningful and durable, it must spring first from an eternal source –“the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”

For comfort to be ultimately meaningful and durable, it must spring first from an eternal source.  

And God’s comfort is not Tylenol-type relief, working for a few hours until it wears off.   Paul sees something grander, more sustainable and more inexhaustible, a fount of never-ending comfort that satisfies the soul!  Not long ago, Kimm and I went to Wakulla Springs, the site of the longest underwater cave in the United States. This spring gushes over 200-300 million gallons of water per day. A few minutes of pondering that number immediately triggers the auto-crash valve on the brain. But it’s the same idea Paul is conveying – an endless supply of comfort from God, driving us to a soul-relieved, awe-inspired worship.

‘God of all comfort’ isn’t some unique way to describe the Father.  It’s a reminder that He is the source of an endless supply of comfort.

Inward
Since our comfort comes first from above, we can now be comforted within. This means when God comforts us, it sticks.

What is the aim of this fount of comfort? Paul answers, “.who comforts us in all our affliction”. Similar to a top rated insurance policy, God promises ‘comprehensive comfort coverage’. But unlike many insurance policies, God always delivers on his promises. Always!  Think about it: The physicians calls with terrible test results; the job just evaporated; the stock market tanked; the teenager rebelled; the marriage crumbled.  Hour after hour, day after day, tear after tear, the God of mercies is poised to supply us all the comfort we need in the place we need it most – our heart.

Inward comfort for “all our affliction” means God’s comforting-grace is sufficiently vast to console us in ‘all’ the dark places where trials and afflictions tempts us. God’s comforting-grace exposes the cravings for self-pity, self-indulgence, self-flagellation, self-atonement – the God-replacing comforts that distract us.

God’s comforting-grace exposes the cravings for self-pity, self-indulgence, self-flagellation, self-atonement.

The taste of God’s consolation stays with us, until our hearts see what Paul saw and say what Paul said. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort”.

In a broken world where we have no control over the arrival of bad news, that’s the kind of promise that makes all the difference.

In our next post, we will look at the outward path we must travel when we experience God’s comfort.

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Reflections on the Hot-n-Ready

By on July 21, 2016

I spent several years after college traveling the country while living in a Honda Accord. I learned many lessons about living on a shoestring for which I remain thankful. Several unhealthy strategies, however, continue to plague me. It started in

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Comforting Others: The Surprising Twist To Our Afflictions (Part One)

By on July 19, 2016

How does God create a person who can comfort others? We naturally think about DNA and dispositions. You’ve met them—those genetically sweetened souls who were born to care, predisposed to sympathize, hardwired to ask questions and ooze concern—the burden-bearers who

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Burn Out or Bend Your Knees

By on July 14, 2016

I have been thinking about burnout a lot lately. One reason is that I’m coming up on the mile-marker of five years of ministry in Chattanooga. Year five seems to be that invisible mountain that many pastors try to summit

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Pastoring Your Church After the Trigger is Pulled

By on July 12, 2016

Last week, there were several pastors reaching out to Sojourn Network—asking for perspective, how to address the recent shootings in their churches, and so on. In response, I wrote this post for the Sojourn Network blog, and we wanted to make