Dancing In The Dungeon

9781462734993_COVER.inddOne reason for a blog is to disseminate information. Thus, I have published a book titled: “Dancing In The Dungeon: Suffering With Hopeful Joy For God’s Glory.” It can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as of this date. The Kindle edition should be available soon (God willing).

I wrote DITD first for my children to have a resource one day when life kicks them in the teeth… then for all my brothers and sisters in Christ to experience the God of comfort by considering how God comforted me in my trials (2 Cor 1:3-4). DITD is filled with practical ways God comforted me. It is written as one who’s walked a somewhat difficult path and found God faithful. DITD isn’t a philosophical treatise nor a bunch of ivory tower Bible studies about suffering. Three men who endorsed DITD say it better than I can…

Dr. Rick Lance (Executive Director of Alabama Baptists)

The problem of suffering has always haunted Christians. If you are a follower of Christ, why do you suffer? The answer to that age old question is not easy, but it may be obvious. Because we are followers of Christ, we experience suffering.

Ron Ethridge has transformed his story of dealing with suffering into a book which is a helpful guide for all of us. Dancing In The Dungeon is a personal story. Ron is very transparent in telling about those moments when he suffered most in life. He does so knowing that our God can use suffering for His glory. That is the theme of this book.

Dancing In The Dungeon is not only personal in nature, but Biblical in content and practical in application. As a fellow-sufferer, you find comfort and hope in the pages of this book. You will be encouraged to worship, pray and serve our Lord, even in the midst of suffering.

I am grateful that Ron Ethridge has shared his story and the redemptive lessons which can be learned from it. Experiences of suffering can be and should be a laboratory of learning for Christ followers.

Dr. Timothy George (Founding Dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University)

Ron Ethridge is an ordained Baptist minister whose past service in the church follows a well-trodden trajectory. Brought up in the church, followed by undergraduate studies in a denominational setting, and then seminary at a fine theological school, Ron was ready to pursue a life of pastoral ministry in fulfillment of what he was sure was God’s calling on his life. Then, midstream, Ron found himself on the outside of the church looking in when he was asked to leave two of the churches he had been called to serve. Rather than precipitate a knock-down floor fight at the church business meeting, Ron decided to walk away.

Ron admits that he himself made mistakes along the way and that, in hindsight, he would do some things quite differently. This book is not about victimhood or retaliation. Rather, it is the anguished cry of a wounded shepherd, one who has come to understand that healing only happens in the broken places. Through Redemption Ministry, Ron Ethridge is now reaching out to all who are hurting with an emphasis on fellow ministers who find themselves the situation of conflict, and possibly termination, on that part of God’s flock they have been called to serve. Ron wants to come alongside his fellow struggling pastors and hurting Christians to offer encouragement and counsel.

Dr. Ray Pritchard (Keep Believing Ministries; Author of: An Anchor for the Soul, The Healing Power of Forgiveness)

We all go through hard times. As Ron Ethridge wisely reminds us, no one gets a free ride through life. That certainly includes pastors who serve in vocational ministry. If that’s the bad news, then the good news is that God uses those hard times for our good and his glory. Dancing in the Dungeon takes us to the ragged edge of life to show us that when we feel most forgotten, God is doing his best work in us. Of all the good things about this book, the best is that Ron brings us back again and again to the Bible so that we will discover what God has said about the hard times of life. Read it so that you will be equipped when your time comes to dance in the dungeon.

Here are a few chapter titles:

What God Can Do. Reflection: One Night From Hell

A Theology Of Encouragement. Reflection: Satan’s Achilles Heel…Forgiveness

Why Me, Why This, Why Now? Reflection: The Problem Of God And Evil

When God Is Silent. Reflection: Before All Hell Breaks Loose

Comfort When Betrayed. Reflection: Enemies As Emissaries of God’s Grace

Comfort In Personal Failure. Reflection: Mind Over Heart

When Sheep Attack Shepherds.

How To Fire A Minister.

Blessings.

Last Post of “Ron’s Reflections”

RM Logo 500“Ron’s Reflections” has a new address: http://redemptionministry.org . Along with the new location will be a new blog name: Redemption Ministry. The address is: http://redemptionministry.org/blog/ . It can be accessed through the Redemption Ministry (RM) website or directly by the previous link.

My goal, desire, and prayer through God’s providence in my life and ministry (My unique experiences as pastor) is to “Comfort others with the comfort by which I have been comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:3-7). I’m asking God to help me find hurting, wounded, and struggling ministers so I can (If He so allows) help them through the unique trials ministers face. Here are a few of the resources from Redemption Ministry…

You are not alone.” Testimonies given to RM from Junior Hill, Rick Lance, Mike McLemore and others with more to come (GW).

Healing For Hurting Ministers.” This is a process I’ve relied on for years during my difficult times as a pastor (Minister Resources).

Helping Staff Reconcile.” For when there are problems between staff at a church (Church Resources).

How you can pray if you are so led…

For God to be glorified through Redemption Ministry,

For God to “make the connections” with ministers and churches to encourage and help as He wills,

For a project I’m working on titled, “Dancing In The Dungeon.”

I close this blog address with “I Asked The Lord That I Might Grow

True…

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent word! What more can He say than to you He hath said— To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply; The flame shall not harm thee; I only design Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

“The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose, I will not, I will not, desert to his foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

God, Where Are You??

DrRvrBdI’m troubled most when God is quiet. When living water seems to have dried up. Consider Psalm 77:7-9…

Will the Lord spurn forever, & never again be favorable? 8 Has His steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?

When God is silent I get anxious. I start questioning… wondering and wandering… my mind tends toward discouragement. I identify with the uncertainties of what is written in the Scripture above. What about you?

Intellectually I know God is omnipresent. It’s the personal sensed favorable presence of God I/we need. We are like the little kid scared by thunder at night who crawls into bed with his mom and dad for safety. God’s “stuff” (Material blessings) mean nothing in comparison to His felt presence. Houses, land, money, and men’s recognition is crap compared to everything this world offers (Don’t get offended, Paul said it first in Phil 3:8. “Rubbish” is better translated “barnyard dung.”).

Therefore there are other Scriptures I go to which answer Psalm 77’s questions…

You who have made me see many troubles & calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness & comfort me again. Ps 71:20-21

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? 9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Ps 56:8-11

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. 2 He only is my rock & my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Ps 62:1-2

You (God) who have made me see many troubles & calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth You will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness & comfort me again. Ps 71:20-21

What I feel (God’s absence) is not reality (God is present). Sometimes He causes us to feel absence of His presence to long more for Him and be satisfied with His presence above all things.

Patience With The Hurting

GoodSamJohn Maxwell wrote, “Hurting people hurt people and are easily hurt by people.”

We live in a broken world where everyone has secret problems. Some hide and handle them well… others (Because of what they are dealing with internally) are withdrawn, short-fused, harsh, detached, emotional, and have all kinds of dysfunctions. We are ALL dysfunctional… it is just a matter of degree, which should affect how we interact with others who are dysfunctional just like us.

Patience, mercy, and grace with others is a rare virtue… but a blessing when encountered. Hurting people don’t need to be told to pull themselves up by their boot straps… nor do they need to be told others are tired of drilling holes and pulling them through it. What they need is patience, mercy, grace, compassion, and love.

Hurting people are messy… I’m messy! Like the Good Samaritan, we are to bind up the wounds of the hurting REGARDLESS of how they got wounded! Yes, it will require sacrifice on your part. It may require you to suffer while binding up their wounds. But that is what Christians are called to do because that is what Jesus did for US.

Be patient with those who are hurting. Give them space to not be perfect. Allow them time to work through problems and help them toward what they are seeking… Peace in Jesus Christ! Remember what Jesus said… “When you did it to the least of these, you did it to Me.” Keep in mind what is found in Hebrews 10:32-35…

Recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.