I had the high honor of going on a mission project to Bielk Podlaski, Poland in the summer of 1991 with an amazing but small group of people. We helped with construction and clean up of a church there as well as evangelizing and leading worship. While there, they did not know us at all but we were invited to a wedding and we rearranged our schedule to go. What an honor. Let me tell you about it. It was at the bride’s parents’ house. We got there at 12pm and there was the ceremony there, which was quite short and simple. Afterwards, they brought out the food. It is hard to describe the quantity of food. I wondered how many football teams were coming. We all sat in long banquet tables facing each other with the bridal party at a head table facing us all. There was a microphone up and a keyboard, so I was eager to hear some Polish love songs. People started eating, buffet style and the food was fabulous. People kept eating and I wondered where they put it all. These were thin or average sized people! Then the speaking started. People took turns coming up and speaking blessings over the couple. So many blessings! It was beautiful. And I thought, we should bless our marriages here in the States like that. Anyway, they asked me to sing. So, in my English, I sang a song I had written and then Amazing Grace when asked to do another. Then I played for someone else to sing and retired myself because I wanted to hear someone else sing. After blessings in great abundance, the musicians came up and sang such beautiful Polish songs as would bring joy to your eye or tears, depending on the speed. Such passion in the songs! Such feeling! And everyone else kept eating and interrupting the music with another blessing and we were there all day and late into the night. Magically, the food we ate all day and night long didn’t make anyone sick and it was a beautiful experience! What a treasure. If you ever have the honor of being invited to a Polish wedding, go. It will bless you too! 🙂
When a volcano erupts, it causes death and devastation in vast quantity. However, after the allotted time, things grow back and are stronger and healthier and more beautiful and it is said that volcanic soil is some of the richest soil in the world. How can this be? How can such destruction cause such beauty? The God of the universe ordained it to be so. He knows that beauty rises from ashes and ordered that much harm can produce much vitality because the soil can only gain much needed nutrients when it is added to. And the result is a much stronger more meaningful and brilliant life. We go through our own destruction in our lives, sometimes of our own making and sometimes from outside sources and it kills our souls, though our body often makes it. However, after the allotted healing time you can rest assured that the restoration process produces within you a much wiser and more beautiful and vital you. After the fact, and there is always an after, you are less shaken and more understanding and much more capable of a person than you were for whatever task comes upon you ever after. This is how it is supposed to work. To bring it about is not always automatic. Some internalize and pity themselves so they are stuck in the destruction and not stronger through the restoration. The difference between those two is conscious choice and faith in God. When we can not see past the pain, we must put our trust in the One who can.
Whatever storm rages around us or on us, we have the only protection we will ever need. God provided for us and protected us once and for all through the sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, we need never fear death because there is no more death. There is only a passing from body to glorified body and then rewards and being with God in communion with Him for all of eternity. So, what is there to fear? Even in this life, we have the incredible gift of His Holy Spirit who give us fabulous presents anytime we ask such as peace and joy and unconditional love. If we listen to His Word and to Him as we pray, we also will receive guidance and wisdom to weather any storm. Life here will be a myriad or tests and temptations and badness but there is also good and happiness when we seek it out and there is always this immeasurable treasure of salvation to provide hope and comfort no matter what the circumstance. God will sometimes keep us from bad things but sometimes bad things have to happen to prepare for something worse down the line or to help so done else or grow us in maturity, whatever, but God knows perfectly well what He is doing and it is always always for the best. May His will be done. We are blessed going and coming and regardless of the circumstances. We are very blessed because we are saved, if for no other reason. This temporary life is just that, temporary, and glory is coming after. So, things smashing against you trying to rip you apart, keep your chin up and eyes to heaven, for you already have residence there and this world has nothing in comparison. Who needs a bed of roses in this life. I have a gold mansion.
There is a myth concerning accomplishment and that is that we should take pride in anything we invent, create, think up, are in charge of, etc. The myth is that we accomplish anything like that at all. Let me explain. God, who made us and everything we know, is the Creator and Inventor of the universe, us and everything we know about and many things we don’t. God is Creator and Inventor, Master Artist, Director, etc. and when we have performed a tiny role in any of this, it should never be for our glory or be a reason to brag or puff up with pride. Nothing is new under the sun. We constantly have to fight pride because pride destroys, one haughty thought after another, and is at the root of all evil because it was the root of the evil sin the evil one first committed. It is his language now and is the basis of all he tries to work his lying ways on us. I used to live for compliments. As I have matured in my faith, I have changed my motivation along with my goals. Instead of accomplishing my own agenda, I am most at peace and happy, joyful really, when I feel in my heart I am humbling myself enough to be working to accomplish God’s goals in the situation and allowing Him to work in me. It is counter intuitive in our culture and humility has come to be known as something vile or undesirable and unwelcome because it is not flattering or uplifting to one’s sense of identity or persona. Dribble is what that is. Pure dribble. Why? The closer I get to the Lord humbly, the greater sense of self I have because I see better the family resemblance. I know more Whose I am and so live in the most natural realm for me in the world we know, that of God’s will which we discover from His Word and prayer. Knowing we are God’s creation and humble adopted children places far greater worth on us than I could ever find following any other creation, including myself. Selfish pride robs you of your identity and joy because it distracts you with visions of grandeur and hope for meaning in self when we get that best with a personal relationship with the One who made us and designed everything. If we brag, we should brag that we got out of the way to allow God to shine through us. If I brag I want to brag that I am a servant of the Almighty and most Magnificent Holy God. He knows me by name, loves me unconditionally and will work His will through me. Wow!
I wrote this book called Worry Crashers (on Kindle or Kindle cloud) that addresses the sin of worry and how to combat that with faith. I was thinking that I might apply that to some situations in real life that I have noticed. It is natural to be concerned about loved ones close to us and not want bad things to happen to them, but it becomes a sin when those concerns mount up and invade or distract or interfere with our normal life functions or service to the Lord. For instance, a long time ago I had some friends who were married and fundraised support and went oversees to Russia on a mission trip. They had two small boys and right when they got there, the mom became ill. Rather than trust in God to heal her, they fearfully retired from missionary work, never to go back again. Here is an extreme example of what not to do in your faith walk. Something much subtler usually happens in our lives but the principle remains viable. Where God sends you, He will provide everything you need to perform that work and we must trust that. Fears based on irrational plantings from the evil one are traps to test our faith. If we keep our head and understand this and keep things in their proper context and perspective, there is no limit on what we are capable of allowing God to accomplish in our lives. Irrational fears will stifle growth and maturity in the Lord and keep you in Spiritual bondage. When we cut the ropes by taking God at His Word and obeying Him in faith, we become free to live life in service and peace, where we can accomplish contrition and allow God to move us forward on our Spiritual growth journey. He then blesses our lives and our families. He rewards and moves mightily in faithful people.
The current end times church looks a lot like a free-for-all to Heaven. Any way will get you there as long as you go to a certain church or believe a certain way and wide is the way to get to Heaven. Narrow means narrow minded now and is to be persecuted. This seems peaceful, like just getting along so well with everyone, no matter their beliefs. Any religion is embraced and tolerated except the narrow minded view Christ followers tend to take that the way to Heaven and communion with the one true God of the universe is only through His Son Jesus Christ. That belief is fair game for persecution. Speech is free unless it contains those words about Christ. Then, all bets are off. You are no longer a respectable human being and should not have rights and free speech. Why? Because as the time grows near for the enemy to be banished from everything, he is ramping up his game of dominion trying to deceive and destroy as many people as He can before he goes. What can we do? We still speak truth In Love and teach as many as we can that the way is narrow and involves salvation through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ only. And if we are persecuted, so be it. If we are laughed at, so be it. If we are rejected by evil men, so be it. All power and authority is really the Lord’s and if we are ashamed of Him to save our skin, we perish along with the evil ones. If you don’t stand, you will fall. So, yes we are the underdogs from a worldly perspective. However, if your mind is right and is thinking about Spiritual matters and growth and maturity, we are the wise and adopted sons and daughters of God, the most powerful being in the entire universe. I believe that gives us something to be simultaneously proud and humble of. God is great and mighty but loving and gentle. He is to be loved by those He adopts into His family and He is to be feared severely by His enemies. Remember to choose now to be His child before the time may very well come to tempt you into choosing to protect your body and lose your soul.
Outwardly intact but inwardly broken is much more common than outwardly broken but inwardly intact. Both can be broken and both can be sound, though the latter occurs less often than anyone realizes. Brokenness is not all bad. There are very excellent qualities that arise with brokenness. One is that the broken are much more likely to be humble, at least until they heal. Broken people know they need Jesus. They may not know Him or His name but they know they need Him nonetheless. Broken people know they are broken. They may deny it or lie or cover it for some irrational fears which may or may not exist, however things can only be covered for so long. Broken shows through any exterior in time. Broken people can be healed by Jesus as soon as they have had enough of trying to fix themselves. Broken people understand brokenness and have a greater appreciation and empathy for the brokenness of others. So a maturity can grow there. Also broken people who are healed can show other people with greater efficiency and compassion how to become whole. The most beautiful thing about broken but healed by Jesus is that they become so appreciative of Jesus’ healing that they serve Him at churches and missions and in their homes and workplaces, etc. There is immense beauty and opportunity in broken people healed by Jesus! They show us hope!