BACK IN THE STONE AGES WHEN I WAS ABOUT SEVEN, we moved to Grandpa’s ranch way out in the country north of Cisco, Texas. The little town we moved from near the Mexican border was noisy, but on the ranch it was real quiet. The cows were eating grass so about the only sounds they made were when they mooed. Grandpa didn’t have tractors. He had horses. They didn’t make noise either except snortin’ around. Chickens clucked and the pigs oinked, but for all practical purposes it was quiet all the time.
I HAD MY PASTOR’S HAT ON. [I was so young.] TEARS OF CONFUSION POURED FROM HER EYES. She was a relatively new Christian. Her little son had just died and her husband was angry. He was mad at her, God and everyone! In addition, they were in debt head over heels. With pleading eyes she said, “But I thought Jesus was supposed to help us.” I was thinking, “Is she thinking God caused this? Does she think God allowed this? Did I teach her this?” Where is God when you need Him? Maybe I should say, “Well, we live in an evil world.” Both she and her husband would have thrown me out of the house … and he was a big guy.
I don’t think quoting Jesus would have helped, and leave it at that. “‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’” (John 16:33 (niv)) And yet, he spoke truth. Nevertheless, she had a sincere question. She wouldn’t have accepted a scriptural exegesis. A saccharine sweet brushoff wouldn’t do from a 27 year old “preacher of sorts.” She was in emotional and spiritual pain!
When someone has had a terrible auto accident, lying in the middle of the road, blood everywhere, a doctor would not give a classroom lecture on trauma. Sorry Charlie. It’s not the right time or place. Furthermore, the pain would be too excruciating. I’m trying to figure out why people hurt.
#1 – The place to start is before the injury & pain; before the heartache, before the discouragement or disappointment, before the treason or lies, before the uncertainty or questions. The relationship we have with Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, a voracious hunger for his Word, the Bible , our spiritual road map is our protection and peace.
He said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me.” (John 10:14)
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 (kjv))
“But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
Romans 5:8-9 (kjv)
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7 (kjv)
#2 -The Rorschach test was designed to help the psychologist delve deep into our thinking finally diagnosing our mental state. Other than our own destructive behavior, trying to diagnose how or why human beings suffer – usually blaming God – only creates more suffering through hate, anger and despondency. When suffering through our heartaches, should we blame God or perhaps go to a street-side mind reader? Trust me on this my friend, things will happen in our life for which there is no answer – none. You can read books about why bad things happen to good people and it may bring a little comfort, somewhat like rubbing Lidocaine on a sore tooth, but when God works with us through our hurt, he goes to the heart of the matter. Count on it, he does not cause human suffering, but in many cases he will pick up the pieces left along the way. He welcomes us as we fall helplessly into his bosom. Even Jesus who was God in the flesh had terrible feelings of hopelessness. In his feelings of unrequited soul-hurt he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
#3 – Over and over throughout the Bible the Lord challenges us by saying, “Do not be afraid.” When the disciples were about to drown, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.” When a celestial being appeared to the shepherds, it scared the living daylights out of them. Think of it, thousands of angels spread across the sky, singing. I would be scared, too. An angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.” In the Book of Revelation 2:10, the indication is that Satan causes suffering. It says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer for 10 days. But be faithful, even if you have to die, and I will give you the crown of life.”
#4 – How about those three hanging on crosses? Two of them were criminals. The One on the center cross was God who took upon himself flesh and bone. In his pain and suffering, one of the thieves railed at Jesus, mockingly said, “So, some people have said you are the Messiah! If you can’t save yourself, how are you going to save us?” I can’t find where Jesus shouted back condemnation to the bitter thief. “But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.’ And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
#5 – Sometimes the pain we feel is because we don’t know what to do. It’s as though there is no answer. Hopeless. “What do I do now? Is there no one to help me?”
It’s interesting that Paul and Silas “were PRAYING and SINGING HYMNS to God [in jail], and … suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!”
(Acts of the Apostles 16:25-26)
#6 – Rather than dealing with the “Why” of suffering, the key is to deal with the solution. The solution is to PRAISE HIM! Praising shows trust!
#7 – 🎼🎶
“Praise Him! praise Him!
Jesus, our blessed Redeemer!
Sing, O earth, His wonderful love proclaim!
Hail Him! hail Him! highest archangels in glory,
strength and honor give to His holy name!
Like a shepherd, Jesus will guard His children;
in His arms He carries them all day long:
“Praise Him! praise Him! tell of His excellent greatness!
Praise Him! praise Him! ever in joyful song!”
THERE ARE THOSE WHO HAVE CAUTIONED ME, ASKING THAT I ONLY PRINT “POSITIVE” THINGS.
No prrroblema (a little Spanish lingo for your enjoyment). But c’mon now. This happyhappy mind set is like the (P.T.) Barnum or Forer Effect, like Pollyanna. Pollyanna, Barnum, Forer, positive thinking, you can do it yourself philosophy … the happyhappy life, the give me your money for seeds and you’ll be healthy, wealthy and wise; all this was actually used by charlatans. This may be called subjective validation. They say you will never have to worry about sickness because all you need to do is just go to one of those big healing campaigns and whoever it is will heal you. Oh, and BTW, your heart will never hurt. That being the case, no one would ever die.
The book, Pollyanna, was written back in 1913 [the same year the 16th Amendment was ratified – INCOME TAXES] by Eleanor H. Porter and became a popular children’s book. Pollyanna has become a derisive term for someone who always has an “optimistic outlook: a subconscious bias toward the positive.”
Theoretically, all you need do, they say, is to think positive and your problems will dissipate. You’ll never have a “Job” experience; that’s JOB, the man, not a job. You’ll never fail at anything [or if you do, just think positive; be happy-happy].
Do you remember that comic strip by Charles Shultz, Peanuts? Charlie was saying, “I’ll never make it. I’ll be a failure.” Lucy says to him, “Charlie, think positive!” Charlie answers back, “OK. I. WILL. fail!” I presume one could think positive about failing – I wouldn’t recommend it. But I have known those who just couldn’t bring themselves to face reality – it wouldn’t be spiritual.
Did you know that the Pollyanna, Barnum, Forer Effect has been associated with New Ageism, astrology, fortune telling, graphology and sorcery?
Am I saying that faith is of no effect? Absolutely not! Am I saying that positive thinking is of the devil? Not on your life! Are you supposed to walk around with a rain cloud over your head? You gotta be kidding! Sour, negative, down in the dumps? No way! But if you think you can do it yourself without the hand of God in your life, I guarantee that some time or in some way you’ll be jerked back to reality with your little positive attitude wrapped around your little positive neck.
Maybe this is a good time for you to open your Bible and read about the human experience. It is the oldest history book known to man. Do you think Eve suffered when one of her sons murdered her other son? Was Joseph thinking positive when his brothers dumped him in a pit? Was Job happy-happy when he lost everything he had worked so hard for and wound up with revolting sores all over his body? The Psalmist cried, “People make fun of me and hate me.” (Psalms 22:6 (ncv)) Do you think he just snapped his fingers and sang, “O what a beautiful morning?” No way Jose’.
In my book, “Write it on My Heart,” I mention that from the time I was about 19 years of age it is provable I read approximately one (1) self-help book every month. I mean everything from “Think and Grow Rich” to “The Power of Positive Thinking,” from “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” to “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” I even read some of those saccharine sweet religious books authored by preachers who never had the experience of suffering, that is until they lost their kingdom in scandal and/or bankruptcy. I attended seminars out the yingyang conducted by those guys who collected $500.00 with glee. I even spoke at a bunch of those seminars myself from hither to yon collecting half of the $500.00. I went home healthy, wealthy and wiser. If the person speaking or leading the seminar had a certain esteem or charisma, or was perceived to be (pseudo) successful, he could say “the.world.is.round!” and the attendees were more likely to accept what was said and jump up and down shouting “Whoopee!” Hence, the “power of positive thinking” acceptance.
My friend, “positive thinking” without Christ is like a shadow without substance, a shell without the kernel, a brain without a mind! If you want positive, try this:
“My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side! I PRAISE God for what he has promised; yes, I PRAISE the Lord for what he has promised. I TRUST in God, so why should I be afraid?”
Psalms 56:9-11 (nlt)
“I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST because he gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13 (ncv)
YOUR “I CAN DO ALL THINGS” CAN BE LIFTED INTO THE HEAVENLY REALM ONLY “THROUGH CHRIST!”
MILLIONS IN THIS COUNTRY ARE ONE PAYCHECK AWAY FROM HOMELESSNESS! JEWEL, the well-known singer, was essentially homeless and living out of her car in San Diego. I heard her say, “I had the privilege of being stripped of everything except my thoughts.” You may have been there. I was! Those around me were confused. “Friends” didn’t know if it was permissible to remain my friend. Two kids. No money. Misunderstood. Heartbroken. Two inches away from homelessness. Turned down for unemployment. No one … no one to help! THEN JESUS CAME in a new way. He had always been there in my heart, but I had also received a weekly salary – not much, but at least it kept the wolf away from the door. I had a few dollars for cereal and wieners. Not enough for rent.
In the fog of my confusion, stripped of everything, JESUS CAME! Oh, I knew him as my Savior, but who’s gonna feed my kids … right now?! Will the three of us be sleeping on the street after having been the pastor of a growing church?
“You are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.”
Isaiah 64:8 (nlt)
Laughed out of a 7-Eleven. Not answered by a messenger service. Rejected as a hotel clerk. No experience as a waiter. Another church looked upon me with skepticism when I applied as an assistant. Frantic, looking for a job … any job. Nothing! Stripped of everything – except my dignity. Yes, Jesus saves, but he also cares. Three weeks later I was hired as the executive assistant to a man who was worth multiplied millions. He paid me well.
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19 (nlt) 🎼🎶
“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
“Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.”
(Frank E. Graeff)
FYI – BE AWARE OF THOSE WHO TELL YOU TO “TAKE THESE THREE [or four, or five, or seven] STEPS, and you’ll be saved! Islam has The Five Pillars, some Christian groups have two, seven, and some have 12. It is as though if you DO these two [or 3, or 4, or 7, or 99] things – taadaah! YOU’RE IN, MAN! ‘Taint so! “Am I suppose to say, ‘Mother may I?’ Are these supposed to be baby steps or giant steps?” This way of Christ is not a mathematical equation. It is not a check list.
John 1:9 – “If [you] confess your sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive [you] and to cleanse [you] from every wrong.”
“He is the forgiveness for [your] sins. … And [you] can be sure that [you] know him if [you] obey his commandments.”
I John 2:3
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
1 John 1:7 (kjv)
THE KINGSTON TRIO SANG IT AND FRANK SINATRA MADE IT POPULAR, “It Was A Very Good Year.” Ervin Drake wrote it. It was a mournful song, a melancholy melody looking back at his life. As I race toward the ripe old age of 80, I remember …; yes, I remember. Some of the words are (you may remember):
“When I was seventeen …
When I was twenty-one …
Then I was thirty-five …
But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs, and it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year.”
OH, BUT WAIT, he also wrote (or co-wrote) “I BELIEVE.” [the intricacies of theology notwithstanding] –
“I believe for every drop of rain that falls
A flower grows
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night
A candle glows
I believe for everyone who goes astray
Someone will come to show the way
I believe, I believe
“I believe above the storm a smallest prayer
Will still be heard
I believe that someone in the great somewhere
Hears every word
Every time I hear a newborn baby cry
Or touch a leaf, or see the sky
Then I know why
ON THE OTHER HAND, THE LORD says: “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will search for me. And when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me!”
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
IF YOU HUNGER FOR HOPE, get alone somewhere, talk to the ONE who said, “I will never leave you,” and He will open the highway of hope for you. Find someone who really knows what this means or contact me on FB and I will point you to THE ONE!
THERE IT WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, WRITTEN IN RED. And I got to thinking, yes, there have been times when for no apparent reason a sudden panic attack hit me. Anxiety & Fear! Scared! Why?
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7 (kjv)
If God didn’t give me this uneasy, “squeegy” feeling, who did? “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
Again, this came on me for no apparent reason!
Printed in some Bibles, when Jesus speaks it’s WRITTEN IN RED. In just 10 verses of Matthew 6:25-34 the word anxious is used by Jesus 6 times. What was his antidote for anxiety?
A. Know who God is.
B. Go out somewhere, sit down and look at the birds.
C. Don’t look in the mirror because you’ll probably find something you don’t like.
D. While you’re out looking at the birds, find a flower to look at. Not even movie stars and models have such beauty, besides too many of them are insecure and nuts.
E. Jesus is saying, take a deep breath and relax – smell the flower.
F. Why be preoccupied with getting when you could respond by giving … and not be anxious?
G. Trust God because HE is doing some amazing things in your life right now; praise him, tell him you love him, worship him and all of a sudden, your anxiety is gone!
The Psalmist wrote:
“I’m getting kicked around, stomped on every day. Not a day goes by but somebody [or some thing] beats me up; They make it their duty to beat me up. When I get really afraid I COME TO YOU IN TRUST. I’m proud to PRAISE GOD; fearless now, I TRUST IN GOD. What can mere mortals do?”
Psalm 56:1-4 (msg)
BTW, when you talk to God, thank him. Relax, your NEW YEAR is WRITTEN IN RED!
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.”
Hebrews 10:19-20 (nlt)
So, here we go!
“This is what the Eternal God wants you to know. After all, He created you and the very first thing He is saying is:
• DON’T BE AFRAID!
• I redeemed you.
• I even have a personal, private and intimate name for you.
• There will be times when you’ll get into things over your head, but don’t worry, I’ll be right there with you.
• When it looks like you’re going to drown, you won’t.
• When it looks like a dead end, it isn’t.
Now why is all this true? It’s very simple –
I. AM. GOD. You see,
I. AM. YOUR. SAVIOR.
I paid a terrible blood-price for you! O how I love you. Do you realize that I would trade the entire universe just to keep you close to me. I’m going to say it again:
DON’T BE AFRAID! I am so close to you, closer than the skin on your bones.
Since you’re my handpicked witness, I yearn for you to learn all about me and trust me completely. I’ll put it this way, I AM …; there was nothing before I created it. There was no god before me and there will not be god after me. Some people have tried to create little gods, but I was GOD before they tried their hand at it.
I AM YOUR ONLY SAVIOR. You are a witness to this. WRITE THIS ON YOUR HEART –
• I am the ONLY GOD.
• I have always been and will always be.
• Not one thing that I have created whether on earth or in hell can snatched you away from me.
So if I made it, who can unmake it?”
JESUS IS SAYING:
“‘Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.’”
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN? Actually, it is beginning now!
Matthew 24 has it all laid out! Just be sure that no one deceives you!
- Many “preachers” will say they are The One – the Christ – many people will be fooled.
- Wars and war stories will be on the news – DON’T BE AFRAID.
- Nations and kingdoms all over the world will be in fights.
- There will be famines, fires and earthquakes.
- If you are a follower of Christ, you will be persecuted and put to death.
- You will be hated by all nations because of Jesus.
- You’ll notice that many who once claimed Christ will turn their backs on the faith.
- They will turn on each other and hate each other.
- Many false preachers will appear on the scene and “buffalo” people – they’ll probably tell you that they can do anything but raise the dead, and maybe that, too. Pay your $$$ to them and they’ll make you healthy, wealthy and wise. Don’t believe them.
- Wickedness will be so rampant that the love of many will grow cold, but if you – yes, you – stand firm to the end, you will be saved. [You may need to change your lifestyle and your friends.]
- The gospel will be preached all over the world (probably by TV and internet), and then THE END WILL COME!
- Listen, “If those days had not be cut short, no one would survive.”
“‘If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, ‘Here’s the Messiah!’ or points, ‘There he is!’ don’t fall for it. Fake Messiahs and lying “preachers/promoters are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better. But I’ve given you fair warning.
So if they say, ‘Run to the country and see him arrive!’ or, ‘Quick, get downtown, see him come!’ don’t give them the time of day. THE ARRIVAL OF THE SON OF MAN ISN’T SOMETHING YOU GO SEE! He comes like swift lightning to you! Whenever you see crowds gathering, think of carrion vultures circling, moving in, hovering over a rotting carcass. You can be quite sure that it’s not the living Son of Man pulling in those crowds.
Following those hard times, the sun will fade out, the moon will cloud over, stars will fall out of the sky, cosmic powers tremble. “Then, the Arrival of the Son of Man! It will fill the skies—no one will miss it. Unready people all over the world, outsiders to the splendor and power, will raise a huge lament as they watch the Son of Man blazing out of heaven. At that same moment, he’ll dispatch his ANGELS with a trumpet-blast summons, pulling in God’s chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.”
Matthew 24:23-31 (msg)