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Showing posts with label Counseling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Counseling. Show all posts

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ouch . . . suffering at it's best!

The remedial power of suffering is often overlooked. Often we fail to appreciate the opportunity that suffering offers us as a sanctifying process in our journey heavenward. Paul so joyfully reminds us that:

Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us (Romans 5:3-5).

But why rejoice? Because, he also said:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3:10).

This in a nutshell is the purpose of suffering; that is, to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29). That means Christlikeness in the good times as well as the bad and everything in-between. Christ did not come just to show us the way but to be the way for no man shall see God without holiness (Hebrews 12:14) which is without a doubt Christlikeness. Job recognized the value of his suffering when he said:

“When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (23:10)

Someone has said that the chief cause for atheism is that there seems to be no plausible answer to:” Why does a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?” I am not suggesting that I have all the answers; however, part of the answer, I believe, lays in the response Aron Moss gave to someone who once complained:

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is this world so unfair? Please don't tell me "We can't understand God's ways." I am sick of hearing that. I want an explanation.

His response was simple:

Are you sure you want an explanation? Do you really want to know why the innocent suffer? I think not. You are far better off with the question than with an answer.

You are bothered by the fact that people suffer undeservedly. As you should be. Any person with an ounce of moral sensitivity is outraged by the injustices of our world. Abraham, the first Jew, asked God, "Should the Judge of the whole world not act fairly?" Moses asked, "Why have You treated this people badly?" And today we still ask, "Why God, why?"

But what if we found the answer? What if someone came along and gave us a satisfying explanation? What if the mystery were finally solved? What if we asked why, and actually got an answer?

If this ultimate question were answered, then we would be able to make peace with the suffering of innocents. And that is unthinkable. Worse than innocent people suffering is others watching their suffering unmoved. And that's exactly what would happen if we were to understand why innocents suffer. We would no longer be bothered by their cry, we would no longer feel their pain, because we would understand why it is happening.

Aron Moss continues:

Imagine you are in a hospital and you hear a woman screaming with pain. Outside her room, her family is standing around chatting, all smiling and happy. You scream at them, "What's wrong with you? Can't you hear how much pain she is in?" They answer, "This is the delivery ward. She is having a baby. Of course we are happy."

When you have an explanation, pain doesn't seem so bad anymore. We can tolerate suffering when we know why it is happening.

And so, if we could make sense of innocent people suffering, if we could rationalize tragedy, then we could live with it. We would be able to hear the cry of sweet children in pain and not be horrified. We would tolerate seeing broken hearts and shattered lives, for we would be able to neatly explain them away. Our question would be answered, and we could move on.

But as long as the pain of innocents remains a burning question, we are bothered by its existence. And as long as we can't explain pain, we must alleviate it. If innocent people suffering does not fit into our worldview, we must eradicate it. Rather than justifying their pain, we need to get rid of it.

So keep asking the question, why bad things happen to good people. But stop looking for answers. Start formulating a response. Take your righteous anger and turn it into a force for doing good. Redirect your frustration with injustice and unfairness and channel it into a drive to fight injustice and unfairness. Let your outrage propel you into action. When you see innocent people suffering, help them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate suffering wherever you can.

We don't want answers, we don't want explanations, and we don't want closure. We want an end to suffering. And we dare not leave it up to God to alleviate suffering. He is waiting for us to do it. That's what we are here for.
That is precisely what all of us must do. That is, give a cup of cold water to those who thirst. Feed and care for the widow an orphan. Do good even to “Love our enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and our reward will be great, and we will be sons of the Most High … Luke 6:35.”

We may not be able to fully understand or elevate evil, but we can, however, to share each others burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

Take care . . .

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Enough already, what's the beef?

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us – King James Bible


There is absolutely no sin more injurious to the soul and detrimental to effect Christian testimony than the sin of complaining. Often we think of sins like complaining as a little sin, not a major one that will send us to Hell or anything like that. Problem is a little sin is like having a little cancer. Before long it eats away at us and sickens our very soul. Yet, complaining has become a habit with many Christians; and it must be said there is never a lack of opportunity to complain.

Christians are known to complain about the oddest of things; as if that changes anything. Complain about the weather all you want and the truth is weather pretty much has a mind of its own. The sun shines on the just as well as the unjust. So, why complain? Yet some do.

Often the most trivial of eccentricity in others is a real source of complain. Common comments that we hear are: “Why doesn’t she do something with that mop of hair of hers? It is an absolute catastrophe?” Or, “I just can’t stand that sleazy smile of his. Bet there’s a whole lot more going on in that mind of his than you can imagine.” And, on and on it goes.

All of these complains are done in the pure light of Scripture which reminds us to—
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation (Philippians 2:14-15).

So, instead of complaining we must take advantage the God-given opportunity for growth and praise. Paul certainly had reason to complain, amongst all his hardships he was additionally given a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble (2 Corinthians 12:7). Although no one is really sure what that “thorn” was, however, once Paul committed it to the Lord that was the last you heard of it. What at first appears hurtful may in the long run be the very thing that nudges us on to a closer walk with God.

So, we understand that annoyances may take many forms. It may be a physical illness; or a nasty neighbor; or perhaps the dog next door, whatever—nonetheless, in each instance it is best to view them as an opportunity to commit them to the Lord like Paul did and rest in the comfort of knowing that God  hears and cares. He sees us as victors not victims. Victims complain. Victors rejoice.

So, in the words of Scripture—
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

The facts are, nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and he is, therefore, at work in us to bring about victory (Romans 8:28-29).

In light of these things someone once remarked, “Life is all about attitudes. So, pick a good one!” And, that’s pretty good advice in my opinion.

Be blessed—

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Bruce Jenner Saga: Psychiatrist Or Plastic Surgeon, What Should It Be?

What is a “runner”?Am I insane or is that whole Jenner-Kardashian family scenario more in need of a good psychiatrist than a plastic surgeon? Really! Enquiring minds want to know . . . especially mine. Pray tell me, what is it with all this reality television stuff? Naked and afraid? My suggestion is that these two put on some clothes and reenter the real world. That should take care of a lot of their whimpering. I don’t watch the stuff so maybe I’m missing something here, but I’ll take the chance. The news and commercial snips of these shows is enough to turn me off.

What I do see, however, is that a large segment of our society has gone off their rocker. And, understandably so, I might add. I say this because sanity has to have fixed reference points or it loses its bearings, and in my opinion, moral relativity just ain’t working. What else should we expect than communal insanity when large segments of citizens are fixated on the morally bizarre? I’m thinking here, mainly, of the politically correct crowd.

Forgive me if you disagree, but I guess I am just a little old fashioned. Well, as a matter of fact, so was Jesus. On one occasion he said—

“To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square.

They complain to their friends,

‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t mourn.’

For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
I reference this because I think it speaks in a very special way to our generation also. Primarily, it seems, that generation was fascinated—perhaps, fixated on the imagination. At least it seems so to me based on Jesus’ assessment. In that generation for them it appears that reality was too cumbersome, and perhaps even frightening, so they attempted to reconstruct their world. No better way than playing games. Of course this didn’t bring any lasting satisfaction so they complained when the games didn’t work. Human nature has an ingrained desire for something better, more permanent than the imagination, entertainment and game playing. Yet, they continued in their cynical folly, thinking that will bring satisfaction as do the bulk of Americans today. They were a cynical bunch, too. John was criticized because of his austere life-style and was said to be demon possessed; whereas, Jesus was living it up, reveling with the low life. Confused, they just couldn’t seem to make up their mind on how one should behave. Jesus, however, nipped that indecision in the bud when in essence he said, “Do you want to really know how to live? Then follow the result trail, because ‘wisdom is shown to be right by its results.’” In other words, since it is quite obvious that you are dissatisfied with the results your philosophy of life is producing, no doubt it would be best for you to stop the make-believe and soberly take on a different set of standards by which to live.  
Amazing, isn’t it? People just don’t seem to learn.
So, back to the Jenners and Kardashians, do you really expect Bruce, at age 65, to find himself—or as they now say, herself? I doubt it.
Now, this is not to say that Bruce does not really want to be a woman or at least have the appearance of one, since as I understand it, he has decided against a sex-change—which, in my opinion, would not really be a change at all—more of a camouflage, I would say. Anyway, my question is: What ever possessed him to think that he was really a female captured in a male body? I do not know, that’s for sure. It baffles me. However, psychologists say that gender identity is usually fixed at between the ages of 3 to 5, and my guess is that perhaps at that early age he gave in to the female fantasy. It is not abnormal for a young boy or girl to switch gender roles. I know that I did. When I played house with the little girl and her brother next door, we constantly fought over who would be the mother. Mothers just seemed to have a more interesting life than 9 to 5 fathers back in those days. No child wanted to mimic a tired daddy, slumped in a chair, responding with an occasional nod in agreement with something mother said. Playing the kid was totally unacceptable for me, too. My little girl friend next door was too hard on kids for that to be any fun, either. Of course, I said all of that to say this: Not once, do I ever recall that I wanted to change my gender except in role playing, but fortunately I had the good sense to realize that role playing is never reality—it’s a game.
So, back once again to Miss/Mr.  Jenner. Do I condemn him? No, but I do pity him. What a sad reality. He is trapped in his own imagination, and for me that is sad, very sad, indeed. Apparently he is sad, too, if the number of times he tears up in interviews is any indication. There’s no happiness there. However, I will leave final judgment up to God, that’s his work not mine. Maybe God can find some redemptive quality there. I can’t, however.
What then is the solution? At this point, I am not even sure there is any solution. His fantasy is too ingrained for him to escape at this late date. Unfortunately, sometime in his early life he allowed his mind to trick him into believing that life is really an imaginary game. And, in all truth, the Scripture is right when it says, “As a man thinks, so is he.” Thinking and imagination do affect behavior, who we are—but, as Jesus once said, No matter how hard we think (or wish) we cannot add one centimeter to our height. Nor, can we, just magically change gender by the sheer force of imagination or the knife of a skilled surgeon.
So, I suppose the lesson we can learn from all of this is that it terribly unsettling in the long run when we allow our fantasies to control our conduct.
The mind is a wonderfully creative mechanism; yet, it must be programmed. The outcome depends on the income. Garbage in, garbage out. Foolishness in, foolishness out. As a man or woman thinks, so is he or she. That is not to say that the will is completely disengaged—it most certainly is not. However, for the sane there must be a pliable option, something that works that squares with reality. Fantasy is fun, but in the long run is a poor substitute for reality.
While studying abnormal psychology at university we were shown a film of a young girl that was literally raised by dogs; and if I am not mistaken it was a control study done by some god-awful university in the former Soviet Union. Anything for science, I suppose. Yet, in my opinion it is not lesser of an evil that of Dr. Josef Mengele at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. That, however, is a subject and topic of its own. So, now back to the subject at hand.
The young girl really thought she was a dog. She barked like a dog. Slept in a dog house. Ate out of a bowl and even chewed on grass. Why grass?  I don’t know. Perhaps to get some nutrients not provided for in the dog food. Fantasy controlled her. Was she a dog? Absolutely not. What really mattered, as far as research was concerned, however, was she thought she was.
Make sense? If not, it should, because morally she was reduced to the level of a dog. She selfishly fought over and hoarded food. She clawed and bit the other dogs to get her way. She was a dog. However, not really. She just thought she was a dog.
Well, enough of that analogy. I am sure you get the point, whether you agree with my conclusions or not. However, in the wise words of Solomon, may I encourage you, indeed all of us, to—

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. (Proverbs 4:23–26 (NIV)
For out of the heart flows the issues of life!
In any event, this is one man’s opinion.
Be blessed—


Monday, May 18, 2015

The Cost of Discipleship 2015

“Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.”Robert Frost

Steadfast Discipleship

Most seminarians are familiar with the name Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his book The Cost of Discipleship and that, of course, he was executed for his alleged involvement in a plot to kill Adolph Hitler just 2 weeks before the Nazi Concentration Camp he was held in was liberated by the Allies.

What many are not aware of, however, is that he reportedly lost his faith during the time he was a prisoner—although, he did retain his strong sense of justice right up to the end. Some historians have therefore because of this labelled him a Christian atheist. In other words, he had the morals of a Christian, but the theology of an atheist. Nonetheless, his influence on religion and political scientists has been enormous, particularly through his writing.

For Bonhoeffer discipleship cost his life; but more tragically, if the reports are true, his faith. Although, I am not altogether too sure that by losing his faith that he lost the faith. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to substantiate my assessment, so I will simply have to with my assumption.

My assumption is this. It is my belief—rather, I should say, my observation that it is a good thing for some to lose their faith, especially when “their faith” does not square with “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).” My feeling is that given enough time Bonhoeffer would have adjusted his theology to fit the facts. The facts are that sometimes evil triumphs, and God is prepared for that because he has a backup plan. Well, so what, some would say. Is it fair? That’s God’s call, not mine, I would say. Be that as it may, however, I can assure you on the strength of God’s word that none of the evil that we experience in the world today, including the atrocities of the so-called Caliphate Nation of Islam, shocks God in the least. He is well aware of the proclivity of man towards evil because as far back as Genesis 6:5—
“God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

So, none of this has caught God off guard.

This I contend because I do not have the choice of making God into something He is not. Theology for me, therefore, has always been a given, not a choice.

Is God then cruel? Yes, he is certainly cruel if we assume that this is it, that he has no backup plan, or that he condones evil.

However, justice is promised, and justice will prevail. Furthermore, he will never violate our freedom to choose. So, the choice is ours, either we struggle with questions that we insist on answering for ourselves or we trust in his everlasting mercies. For as Robert Frost so rightly observed—“Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.” And, how true that is.

Quibble all you want to about the justice of God, and what is right and what is wrong, but none of this will, however, change the given—that is, evil is, and evil is never fair. 
“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)

This is all part of the journey, and we do well to accept that which we cannot change, and change what we can, and during the meantime ask God to give us the wisdom to know the difference.






Friday, May 15, 2015

The Therapeutic Value of Suffering


The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths. — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D.


Dear Friends, prayer and financial partners,  
I met a monk once who wore a drab, prickly old gunny sack robe. When I asked why, I was told that he wanted to offer his suffering up on behalf of the Body of Christ, and that he was simply taking his cue from Paul who wrote—
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”
Obviously, he was miserable. Yet, somehow he had convinced himself that his self-inflicted misery for the sake of Church, the Body of Christ was to fill up what was lacking in regards Christ’s afflictions.
He and others of like cloth insisted that a sure path to personal holiness was to “offer up their suffering to God for the sake of others in the Body of Christ.”
Now, does this make sense to you that a self-inflicted wound would somehow benefit the Body of Christ—that is, the Church? I surely hope not; but sad to say, there are millions of poor innocent, well-meaning religious devotees who feel otherwise. Paul, they say, “buffeted or beat up his body (1 Corinthians 9:27)” in order to stay fit for the Kingdom, and so must we. What an amazing theology, I thought. The Bible, however, says that Christ—
“… was wounded for our transgressions, [further] he was bruised for our iniquities and the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5).”
Surely, that is enough, I believe.
Let me, however, be quick to offer the caveat that one man’s weirdness is, however, no excuse to reject all suffering as meaningless.
There is much that we can and should learn from suffering. More about this later, so let us first look at suffering—all types of suffering, to see if we can form some helpful insights. For, I too, have found as did Dr. Kübler-Ross that some of the most beautiful people that I have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.  After considerable experience and research on the subject of death and dying, Dr. Kübler-Ross has identified five emotional stages through which the average person processes painful and life changing events such as facing death, but also including divorce and/or other unpleasant traumas that are common to all. These five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. None of which, however—with the exception of the acceptance stage, in my opinion, offers any lasting solution to the problem of suffering. As a matter of fact, the other four—that is, denial, anger, bargaining or depression will only acerbate the misery, as far as I can see.
Yet, the choice is ours. We can deny the problem, as many people do, only to discover later that it has only grown worse. Some people may also choose to blame others, or often God for their predicament. I believe in putting blame where blame is due, but believe me, if you are one of those that blames God or even the Devil for all of your ills, you are simply on the wrong track for any solution at all. It’s not God’s fault that your husband left you, or your child has leukemia. It is not as if God or even the Devil is standing around with a big bag of hurts just looking for an opportunity to con them off on you. Listen, we are in the trouble we are in because of a fallen world.  Disease, misery and hurt are part of the warp and fabric of life. God, according to the Bible I read, never promised immunity from the discomforts of life; as a matter of fact, Jesus once said—
"Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
Thus, I believe that Christ wants us to embrace all that life has to throw at us—and, as it were, bear our cross. Through it all, however, we are assured that—
God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
In this regard, I believe that Paul’s assurance in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that we will not be tempted beyond that which we can bear is directly related Christ’s  prayer on the night just before he was to make his long arduous journey to Calvary, bearing his own cross until his physical strength gave way. That prayer was not that we would be protected from evil and suffering, but rather that the pervasive power of the Evil One would not overcome us.
Therefore, we must understand that through it all, Christ fully intends for us to experience the journey—the good as well as the bad time. So, make no mistake, the Godly will suffer. For all of us suffering is a given. None escapes it; nor should we try to read something sinister into our experiences when things don’t go as wished.
Suffering is all part of God’s bigger plan for all of us. Otherwise, why would Christ say that we cannot even be his disciple unless we are willing to embrace our cross? However, I don’t believe that whipping ourselves with a cat of nine tails like those poor misguided flagellates Christians in the Philippines and elsewhere do, or wearing a prickly old gunny sack robe is not what Christ has in mind.
On the contrary, I believe that the reason he insisted that we bear our own cross is that he knew that suffering is inevitable—part of life’s journey. He also knew that suffering is a very good teacher, and that we can learn a lot through suffering. One of those lessons, Paul addresses when he writes that when we suffer—
“We are comforted, so that we may comfort others.” (2 Corinthians 1:4) 
Furthermore, we know that suffering builds character. Paul went so far as to say that— 
“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV) 
Pete strikes a similar chord when he writes—
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV) 
So, we can quickly see from these few verses that suffering serves a purpose. That purpose is also found in found in Romans 8:28, for —
 “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” 
One of the hardest lessons to learn about suffering, however, is found when Paul declares—
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Colossians 1:24)
Now, in order to learn this lesson, we must keep in mind that first of all we are the Body of Christ, and that suffering has the strength to purify us—individually and collectively. As mentioned, Peter says, that as gold is purified by fire, we, too, are made pure in and through the fires of suffering. Although, this is counterintuitive to much of what we have been taught as Pentecostals, we cannot, however, escape God’s word. 
What then is lacking in regards to Christ’s suffering? Certainly not our salvation. That he accomplished through his life and death on the Cross. However, what is lacking in the Body of Christ is our imperfection, individually and collective. As individuals we welcome suffering if and when it builds Christian character, and collectively we embrace these hard and difficult time in our lives so that we may comfort our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As I said previously, we must embrace all that God allows—the good and/or the bad, to work in us as a holy catalyst to change us into His image of perfection.
What about divine healing, some will ask? Doesn’t God want to heal us? What about the other trials in life, aren’t these just a hindrance to spiritual progress. Well, I wish I had the answer to each and every question like these; however, I don’t. I simply know this, the purpose of God in our lives is not so much to do something for us, as it is to do something in us.
All that I know in that regard is that—
“We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV) 
How he does that is up to him, and if that includes suffering, then I must embrace it. Paul did. He prayed, he said, three times that God would remove his “thorn in the flesh” as he described it; but God’s answer was—
“No, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” “Therefore,” said Paul, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
We serve God's purpose best when we take Paul's example to heart, too, I believe.

Now, may God give us all the wisdom to embrace everything that God allows to cross our path as another opportunity for improvement—
For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:5)
Therefore, we embrace suffering in the confidence of knowing that our God is bigger than our circumstances, and that He cares and understands; and further that to embrace life in general builds character.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Worry . . . a sure ticket to failure.

By faith I understand that change is just not in God’s nature—that, however, I cannot say about everything else around me. Therefore I can sing with confidence that—
My hope is built on nothing less
 Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
 I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
 But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
Why? Because I know that—

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,

And that—

 All other ground is sinking sand…

So, It is by faith that we stand firm, unchanging, yet ever pressing towards the final the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). What a contradiction, some would say. Yet that is not the case; because ultimately Jesus is that Rock that never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)

He is, of course, also the living Word, all else fades with time. The spoken word is but a shadow, elusive, at best a metaphor or perhaps a sign; and, as such, that word can only point to the real Word who never changes, and is always present—
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:25).
Imagine, we not only have an ever present living faith, but also a Rock on which to anchor that faith. Somehow, however, we always seem to manage to forget that all the promises of that unchanging faith are “Yes” and “Amen” in Him (Corinthians 1:20). These are His solid, unchanging promises, among which is that we should not worry for instance about finances, and that we should—
Keep our lives free from the love of money and be content with what we have, because God has said that He we will never leave us; nor will He ever forsake us (Hebrew 13:5).
Yet, we worry.
He promises us a new body, and demonstrated that He is fully capable of providing that when He arose from the grave.
Yet, we worry.
We fret and worry that we will be alone, particularly in old age; although Isaiah says He has promised that—
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you (Isaiah 46:4).
Yet, we worry.
Worry is fundamentally a faithless exercise. Not only is it that, it is also a lie. A lie that we tell ourselves. Jesus has assuredly says—
 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)
So, in light of these promises why should we lie to ourselves, and doubt His promises?
The journey is ours, yet we walk not alone. He walks alongside us each step of the way, and whispers at each step, “Do not worry … God will supply your every need, according to His riches in Glory.”


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

He is there, and He hears

“We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts” ― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

God is not deaf. He hears our every sigh. As a matter of fact, God hears the silent language of a soul in distress. Nothing that affects you is inaudible to Him, for in these cases silence speaks louder than words. He hears. He cares. He understands. And, best of all, He will do something about it. That’s His promise, not mine. I nor anyone else, not even you closes friend can make that promise, and keep it, too.
Paul reminds us that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26 NIV).”

So, when you get down and out, reaching up to touch bottom, just keep in mind He not only sees your feeble efforts to dig yourself out of whatever hole you find you are in, but He also on His own prays for you! Wow. Think of it. There is nothing more powerful, that I can think of, than to have God himself pray for you or me.

Now, I don’t want to be critical or disrespectful, but I do find it hard to understand that some Christians find it more appealing to have some saint, dead or alive, pray for them at the expense of allowing God to offer up our pain and sorry in the form of a Holy Ghost inspired prayer.

That should always be our first line of defense. Now, I am fully aware that some feel that some long deceased saint like Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, has a vested in with her son, and as the argument goes, “she has his ear” and He will listen to her. Implying of course that we don’t have that privilege.

I also understand that our Christian priority is (as the Common English Bible translates it) to:
Offer prayers and petitions in the Spirit all the time. Stay alert by hanging in there and praying for all believers. (Ephesians 6:18 CEB)

I would have you to notice, however, that such prayers are conveyed in the Spirit—in other words, the Spirit is the mediator (the go-between) between us and God, the Father. Thus, it is plain to me that we have direct accesses to God through His Spirit.

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)

Now, the beautiful part of this process is that we all have that access. Not just some saint, dead or alive.  Nor do we shy back because we are unworthy. No, just the contrary. We press forward because we have been made worthy. God sees us for what we are going to be, not for what we are. By this I mean it is precisely who we are that makes us the unworthy recipient of His Grace. This is true because, as Paul reminds us “that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us’ and he offers this as proof of ‘God’s amazing love’ for us. (Romans 5:8 Phillips)

Yet, through it all, since we have been washed, made clean and exalted with Him to Heavenly places we can enter His presence with all confidence, knowing the He hears us, because—
He is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him, because he lives forever to plead with God for them. (Hebrews 7:5 GNT)
Now, what more can you ask for, or expect?

As always, I am with you on this journey,


P.S. Just got off Skype with a pastor friend in Pakistan. Please remember to pray for Pastor Asif Masih Samuel and the work in that spiritually hungry country. Please pray also for another friend of mine, Dr. Neil Chadwick, who will be travelling to visit this ministry in Pakistan at my request. Pray that God will not only protect him, but also give him wisdom and discretion as he evaluates the situation there. Pray also for his family during his absence. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Suffering for suffering's sake? Think again!

My last desire—
When the time comes for me to die,
To-morrow, or some other day,
If God should bid me make a reply,
“O God, thy world was great and fair!
Have thanks for all my days have seen;
Yet grant me peace from things that were
And things that might have been.”
Thomas W. Hazen Rolleston

Dear Friends, prayer and financial partners,

We Pentecostals, "bless our little pea-picking hearts," as Ernie Ford used to say, have yet to scratch the surface on the value inherent in suffering.

Now, I am not talking about self-inflicted suffering like the Flagellants (from Latin flagellare, to whip) who beat themselves or are nailed to a cross in the Philippines and elsewhere by misguided fanatics, either. No, I cannot find anywhere in Scripture that we are expected to suffer just for suffering's sake. 

What I have in mind is the type of suffering that many of our Christian brothers and sisters are experience in the Middle East right now. Entire Christian villages have been overrun by fanatical jihadists who often time behead the men, women and children to shock the rest who are lucky enough to survive and thereby get them to convert to Islam.

Is it happening? Sure, it's happening. Has been, and will continue to happen, too!

Read your Bible. This is precisely what the false prophet in league with the beast will, and has done for centuries. That aside, however, since you might look at history and the Bible differently on this subject than I do. So, please understand, I am not one to argue the matter. But, I am one to sound the alarm.

Indeed, the time is short.
So, it is with the backdrop of all that is going on around us that I write this brief essay on suffering. Paul, for one, thought that a suffering Christian was helpful in that it identified us with the suffering of Christ and give us an opportunity to emulate his character with the sole purpose of shaping us into the likeness of Christ. All things work together. All things, not just some things. So, suffering must be included.
Sound too Catholic to you? Well, it shouldn’t. It’s Bible. Need I reference that? If so, for starters may I suggest Romans 8:28-29 and Colossians 1:24. Here, let me print them for you:
First Romans 8:28-
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son … (NIV)
Now, Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. (NIV)
Now, let’s not just stop there. Think with me for a moment. Do you see how beautifully these verses all blend together in one Divine plan? It is obviously plain to me that firstly uninvited suffering of any sort serves to change us into the image of Christ if we are willing; and secondly, how we handle the suffering can act as a Christian example of purity and mentorship to encourage others to respond similarly.
Complicated? No, not really. Here read what the poet Patricia Persons, a cancer patient had to say:
If you believe in the Word of God
You'll know trials only make us strong
And in Christ anywhere you are in life
Is just where you belong
Take time to read the Book of Job
And you will plainly see
That God will never leave you alone
He's always been there for me
It's not what you are going through friend
It's how you stand the test
Just put your hands in the hands of God
And let Him do the rest
I go through life with a made up mind
I know God has my back
I'm not the one for a pity party now
I pray and get on the right track
I am a living testimony
For all the world to see
And I want the whole wide world to know
I have cancer…..cancer doesn't have me
© Patricia Persons 2014
So, take courage. A lesson well learned is a lesson well kept. Take courage, therefore, and cherish Christ's promise to never leave you or forsake you. Life is not without purpose.

Yours in the journey,

P.S. My latest book on Islamic jihadism was published and is available. 

The Islamic State Revealed
Click Cover to Buy!
The Brotherhood of Death

The latest book on Kindle $5.99


Friday, July 25, 2014

Life has its ups and downs, its turnarounds . . .

Malachi 3:6 declares, “I am the Lord, I change not.” So with the poet we prayerfully say,

Change and decay in all around I see—
O thou who changest not, abide with me!
— Henry F. Lyte

Life has its ups and downs, its turnarounds—that's for sure! Jesus was a great optimist. Even with the whole world crumbling around him, His faith in the future never wavered. Think of it, with the cross casting a shadow of doom and doubt over his disciples he had the courage and foresight to turn to the dying thief and promise him paradise, and to entrust His own mother to John the Beloved for safekeeping. Yes, He knew there would be a tomorrow, and He was confident that His Father and ours would see Him through this terrible ordeal, and that He would rise yet on another day to live forevermore.

Life here on earth can be tough, but we needn't worry—it's passing. It's like a vapor, James says. And, for those in the know, there's a better day coming.

No, that's not morbid thinking, that's reality. Our only permanency now and in our tomorrows is God and the sooner we learn that the better. We may never know what a day will bring but we know who is in charge. It was with this confidence that Moses said to the children of Israel,

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deut. 3:16)

Friends, I must tell you that the longer I live the more see change and decay, the rise and fall of great men and women, the total futility of placing faith and hope in the transiency of anything this old world has to offer. So, you are fortunate enough to own the Clippers basketball franchise and cavort with whores then fain mental illness and sell the club for a cool 2 billion dollars, what good will that do in the long run?

I am reminded once again of the words in the first stanza of that great poem by C.T. Studd, the famous cricketer and missionary, which reads,

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Friends, we must focus on that. Let’s not be lured into complacency comforts of life or discouraged with the hardships.

As always, I am with you on the journey,

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Holiness: what is it?

It has been said that we should, “Never ask a saintly man whether or not he is holy and get an honest answer.”

I’ll take it a step further and say that if we should ask the average church goer to define holiness and chances are 9 out of 10 you’ll get a blank stare, or at best some canned response like don’t wear this, or paint yourself of like some Jezebel or watch porno flicks. Never—or should I say, very seldom, do you hear anything positive like sanctify yourself.

Sanctify? What in the name of common sense has that got to do with holiness anyway? Well, the answer is everything. Yet, I dare say that the average parishioner has never heard a sermon on good old fashioned sanctification. Amazingly, however, Christ prayed for our sanctification—that is, our holiness.
"My prayer,” he said, “is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. “(John: 17: 15-21)

What then is sanctification, we may ask?

The simply answer, just happens to be the correct answer and can best be illustrated by saying that a pen is "sanctified" when used to write. Eyeglasses are "sanctified" when used to improve sight. So, in a Biblical sense, things are sanctified—that is set aside for an exclusive purpose—when they are used for the purpose God intends. A basin in the Temple to hold water, tongs to arrange hot coals on altar, and so-forth. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he or she serves the purposes of God's intentions. Romans: 8:28-29 makes that very clear:
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” 

So, we are truly holy when we are doing precisely what God intended for us to do. Firstly, we obey Him by becoming like Him. That means primarily that we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him—yes, and when necessary, even to our cross. This will most certainly kill us; but then, that was His intention for us in the first place. No one ever truly become a servant—which is part of the journey—unless they are willing to die to self and live for others.

Impossible, you say. No, not really, for Scripture tells us that,
[It] is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” [Philippians 2:13]
“It’s all about me,” may work as a slogan in a dog eat dog world of high finance, or entrepreneurship but in the Kingdom of God it is a sure path to failure. This great truth should serve as a reminder once again that as the old camp meeting songs says that,
“This world is not my home I'm just a passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door.
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.
Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you.
If heaven's not my home then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door.
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.”

And, the rest of the verses for those of us who are strangers here on earth, it goes:
“I have a loving mother just over in Glory land.
And I don't expect to stop until I shake her hand.
She's waiting now for me in heaven's open door.
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.”

Now, to realize that dream, we must walk softly in our Master’s footprints along the path of our earthly journey.