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What Do You do in Times of Trouble?

In the case of Steven’s martyrdom that I mentioned earlier, the persecution of the church that followed resulted in the scattering of its members throughout the land, which in turn resulted in the message of the gospel being spread far and wide. Acts 8:4 says, “those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” God was in the midst of the mess and His purposes were accomplished, not only in spite of circumstances but because of them! He turned to good what the enemy meant for bad. It was A. W. Tozer who said, “while it looks like things are out of control, there is a God who has not surrendered His authority.” Ultimately God is in control. Decisions we make during this life we are living, which will come and go in the blink of an eye compared to eternity, have eternal consequences. But those decisions impact us for the here and now also.

The reality is that we live in a fallen world. The enemy is real, his time is short, and he’s making the most of it.

Amazingly, we can have a personal relationship with the Creator of this universe. God actually desires to have a relationship with us. We get to decide just how close we are to Him. The Bible says if we draw near to Him He draws near to us. You can have as much or as little of God as you want.

We don’t know when or how chaos will come. Recent events have shown us just how quickly things can change. Who would have thought toilet paper would become such a hot item so quickly! Christians, atheists, and everyone in between; we all experience trials in this life. Any preacher that says otherwise is preaching a false message. Sadly, many church leaders are doing just that today; filling the role of motivational speaker rather than shepherd of the flock that has been entrusted to them. Preaching ‘feel good’ messages geared toward increasing their following (and their bank account) rather than the Word of God.

The Old Testament prophet Joshua told the people of his time to decide whether they would follow after God or not, to decide which god they would follow (Big ‘G’ or little ‘g’). Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Our gods are much the same today as they were in Joshua’s time; power, money, fame. We want to get ahead, do our best for our family, achieve financial success, have a good retirement, raise our family. All good things.…unless they take center stage in our life. Money, for instance, is not the root of all evil, the LOVE of money is. If we put money (or anything else) in a place that is meant to be occupied by the One who created us, we are not fulfilling the purpose for which our Creator designed us. You will not be fully satisfied with anything less in this life than fulfilling the purpose God has in mind for you. All else will fall short, no matter how happy it makes you in the short term.

So where is your heart? That is what will determine what you do in times of trouble. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Let me encourage you to tune out the noise. Welcome God into your life if you have not already done so. The world will tell you that we’re all children of God. That sounds really nice, but it’s not what God says. He tells us “as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:12) (emphasis added).

As my pastor once put it, “it’s not about the donkey or the elephant, it’s about the Lamb.” We are (if you know Him) first and foremost citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). Decide today who you will follow; let your life be one of eternal significance.

Mike Pitocco
​Following a stint in the USAF Mike worked in retail management on Long Island, New York prior to relocating and beginning a new career with the California Department of Corrections, from which he retired after 33 years of service. Retiring as a Program Coordinator with the Division of Addiction and Recovery Services. He continued his involvement with the drug treatment initiative for several years as a consultant with the University of California, San Diego, Center for Criminality & Addiction Research. While working at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, CA, Mike activated Celebrate Recovery (CR), a faith-based ministry, at the prison. Mike and his wife Sharron also activated CR at a number of other correctional facilities in the state. Mike volunteered and eventually was hired as a full-time Chaplain at the Lerdo Detention Facility (Kern County jail) in Bakersfield, CA; eventually becoming Supervising Chaplain, and earning his certificate of ordination from Prison Ministry of America. Mike was also the Ministry Director of CR at Canyon Hills Church in Bakersfield along with co-founding the Kern County Prison Ministry Alliance, the goal of which was is to reduce recidivism one life at a time. Mike considers himself truly blessed to be Sharron’s husband, the proud father of Christina, Daniel, and Sean and grandfather (aka, ‘Papa’) of Lawson, Harper, and Savvy. For Sharron - God’s instrument in knocking off some very rough edges - for family, for life and love, and whatever he may be privileged to share through writing, Mike gives glory to God alone…. Soli Deo Gloria. He is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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