Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 22, 2009

This morning I have to confess to a long-term, ongoing, passionate relationship with the local church. I believe that healthy local churches are the hope of the world. Some of my greatest joys have happened through the local church and many of my deepest hurts have happened in the local church. I have given my adult life to serve it. In fact, today is the first day of my 38th year of serving as a local church pastor.

Disappointment is one of those emotions we would rather not deal with. And no matter how many times we are disappointed it never gets easier.

If you hang around life very long, you will get disappointed. The church is no exception. In fact, the church can be more disappointing because you tend to have higher hopes and expectations for people.

The Local Church is the Body of Christ! But the problem is it is made up of people – and led by people – and people get it wrong sometimes. People disappoint you and let you down. Sometimes you disappoint yourself. Disappointment is a fact of life in the church so we need to learn how to go through it AND grow through it.

Obviously, we have had a disappointment this week in the church. I have been disappointed. I’m sure I have been a disappointment. So, as a pastor and a teacher of the Word I turned to it for some personal help on how to deal with disappointment and I would like to share what I found. Can I do that?

I am going to share some thoughts from Luke 24:13-32.

I think the key verse in that section is verse 21 – “but we had hoped He was the one who would redeem Israel…..”

Can you hear the disappointment in that statement? I can. And it is a revealing insight into the nature of disappointment. DISAPPOINTMENT IS WHERE HOPE COLLIDES WITH REALITY!

That can actually be a healthy time because it can help us get a better grip on hope and a new understanding of what is real.

Let me show you how these guys dealt with disappointment.


"Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem."

When you get disappointed it is helpful to get some distance from the situation and retreat to a safe place. These guys had been in Jerusalem for the Passover when Jesus was crucified. They were now bewildered believers trying to sort out everything that had happened. So, they headed home.

When you are confused and disappointed and not sure what to think or do, head back to what you DO know. Surround yourself with those you trust. Don’t project the disappointment you have with one person onto everyone.

Probably THE best thing you could have done today was to come here. There is safety here. There is familiarity here. There is love here and healing here.


"They were talking with each other about everything that had happened."

When you are feeling the sting of disappointment the best thing you can do is talk with the right person in order to sort out your emotions. The worst think you can do is talk to the wrong people.

As this was developing I was thankful to have the friendship and wisdom of some of our key leaders, and my very wise and capable wife. Talking with them was a life-saver for me!

I want to commend our leaders for how they have handled this situation this week. When Tim resigned and it became apparent that he wasn’t going to change his mind, I accepted his resignation and informed the Leadership Team and a few other key people who needed to know. Out of love for Tim and the church they managed that information properly. They kept to themselves. They didn’t gossip. They prayed, they wept, and they supported me.

That allowed us to have this talk this morning in this setting.

I will be happy to talk to any of you who need more information.


"As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him."

Because these men were on the right path talking about the right stuff, they were at a place where Jesus could join them! When Jesus shows up, things get better!

But, if we don’t handle disappointment properly and if we cop an attitude and get overcome by emotion and talk to the wrong people it makes it hard for Jesus to show up.

I am so thankful that our core leaders didn’t do that so that God can show up here this morning.

Norma Jean Mortenson was a young girl who spent much of her childhood in foster homes. She was very familiar with disappointment. When she was 8 years old, she was physically abused and given a nickel not to tell anyone.

Went Norma Jean tried to tell her foster mother about the man who had abused her she was spanked and told never to tell anyone because he was the guy who paid their rent.

She grew into a very pretty girl and then a beautiful young woman. People began to take notice, especially men. They would whistle at her and flirt with her. While she liked the attention, she wished they would get to know her as a person and like for who she really was.

Eventually she was discovered and moved to Hollywood. She was given the name Marilyn Monroe with the promise that she would be turned into an American sex symbol. It worked and she became an overnight success. But she still longed to be loved and recognized as Norma Jean, the person that she was.

She went through three marriages pleading for someone to love her as a person and not as a star or an object. At the age of 35, on a Saturday night, Marilyn Monroe took her own life. Her maid found her the next morning on her bed with the telephone hanging off the receiver.

One of her biographers wrote that the dangling telephone was a symbol of Norma Jean’s life. She died because she never got through to anyone who understood.

How sad to move from disappointment to disappointment and never find Jesus.

In the midst of your disappointment, look for Jesus, He will be there and He will NEVER disappoint you!


"He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?" "What things?" he asked.
"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Maybe the greatest blessing of walking with Jesus is getting to talk with Jesus – and more importantly listen.

The weird thing about this whole dynamic is that we see these guys talking TO Jesus about their disappointment ABOUT Jesus. As it turns out He was would they thought He was.


That can be a bad thing. Sometimes disappointment can turn into disillusionment. Has anyone ever been disillusioned?

When any of us invest too much hope in any person or leader, we are bound for disappointment.

If I haven’t already, I will disappoint you.

This is where the story gets good. As they shared their disappointment about Jesus to Jesus and as they walked with Him and talked with Him and learned from Him their perspective changed! Their hope returned. They realized that they had actually UNDER estimated Who Jesus was!

Jesus was more than they hoped! He was more real than they had imagined!

How many things in life turn out to be better than you expect? It is a short list – and Jesus is at the top of it!

I know there are a lot of disappointed people here this morning. I am one of them. Someone we invested our hopes in has disappointed us. That’s life! It happens! It will happen again!

That is why we need to learn to deal with disappointment:



Let’s deal with this disappointment. Let’s stay united and keep on loving each other. Let’s reach lost people. Let’s let God grow a great church.

Let’s be like the stubborn old mule:

A farmer owned an old mule. He was kind of sway backed and not much good for anything. But he WAS stubborn. Since the old mule didn’t see very well any more he fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the awful racket from the mule’s braying and came to see where he was. When he found the old fella down in the well, he decided it wasn’t worth the time, money or effort to hoist him out and the well was dry, so he decided just to order a load of dirt and fill in the well and bury the mule. He called His neighbors together and told them what happened and what he was planning and enlisted their help haul dirt to bury the mule. But the only trouble was they underestimated how stubborn that mule was.

Well, they shoveled in the first load of dirt and it hit him on the back her reacted out of his stubbornness and thought, “SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP!” He did. And he did it with the second load, and the third load, and the fourth load, and all the loads until the well had been filled to the top and he walked away from the well! Once on top, he “SHOOK IT OFF AND STEPPED UP!”