“If our God, whom we honor, can save us from a blazing furnace and from your power, he will, Your Majesty. But if he doesn’t, you should know, Your Majesty, we’ll never honor your gods or worship the gold statue that you set up.” Daniel 3:17-18
As the banks fail, global economies collapse, and protests around the world turn into violence; we believers everywhere must cling to God and His Word and never cease from honoring our God. We must resist men who threaten to seize control over our lives and who are progressively replacing the God whom we worship, with false gods and ideologies increasingly infesting our sacred institutions.
We will never bow to a false president, nor accept fraudulent elections. We will not honor any decrees which dishonor God or the sanctity of life. We will never worship the government or live by every word from the mouth of Washington DC.
We refuse to listen to fakers and thieves, whether in Church or government, cable news, or podcasts.
So, even if our God delays, our most sincere prayers and longing for a New Heaven and a New Earth, we’ll never honor false gods or fake news broadcasts, nor will we honor their czar-gods, or worship “the golden woke programming” that they continue to force us to watch.
Why? Because the Church will be too busy caring for the lost and reaching them in the four corners of this darkening world.
Rise O’ Bride of Christ, your finest hour has dawned this year of tragedy, our window of opportunity to exploit the last rays of freedom’s daylight is closing. Otherwise, the day of our persecution and times of trouble spoken about in the Scriptures will soon provide the contrast which should have been there all along.
Our listening to glorious Sunday morning messages, talk radio; Christian branding, and marketing of worldly delights have forfeited the grace and culture that could have been ours. We’ve lost our Nation not because we adhered to our Christianity, but because we did not preach its redemptive messages outside of our pretty Church buildings and corporate structures.
We’re losing our Nation not because we’ve not read enough Christian authors, or followed each crazed Christian fad, but rather because we chose passivity and embellished ourselves on “Turkish Delights” of Worldliness, and gazed too long at the bewitchment of the Queen of Goodies and new Technologies. (For which, I too am guilty).
Because we used our freedom to form and fashion false gods of tolerance, gods of laughs and giggles; thumbs up, and “Likes” to our sins and compromises. So we branded our Golden Calf with the name “Yahweh” to ease our guilty consciences and silence the voice of God’s whispering Holy Spirit of repentance.
Our Nation’s ruin is not our failed politics, or lack of political might, but rather our refusal to preach the Gospel of a better order, and of an eternal and expanding Kingdom. A Kingdom led by the King of kings, Lord of lords, and the Presidents of presidents, that is Jesus Christ, The Righteousness of God!
But there is still Hope. And, the God of all hopes dwells within you. The time is NOW to declare the Hope which is inside of you. For how can it be hope unless you speak it out to the hopeless and the hope-lost?
Put down the false gods of our age, and thus brighten the future of America. Our liberty was won by people whose God is the Lord.
Get your faith and houses in order. Decide now, not later what you will do when the world crashes around you.
“Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you.” Psalms 91:5-7
Face the coming firey trials like Daniel and his friends did. Obey God. Defy the false gods. Stand firm in your faith. Be courageous!
“A wound where there is no weeping, writes, John Eldreged, is a wound that cannot be healed.” Your wounded heart can be healed. But you must share your wounded heart with God.
Wounds and scars, whether physical or emotional are essential to being human. It happens to all of us. The following is written on the back of my business card:
“Living a scarless life is not living at all. Sometimes our greatest triumphs lie in our greatest defeats. In all things, I am a child of God and never a victim. I do not, therefore, interpret tragic circumstances as mishaps, but a divinely scheduled trip to God’s beauty salon.”
If we only see ourselves as a victim in every crisis, loss, or betrayal, we deny the very instrument and tool for which God is doing his best work in us. When you refuse to become the victim and instead respond in praise and thanksgiving to God, you, therefore, thwart darkness and defeat the devil.
The devil wants you to wallow in bitterness and anguish. He wants you paralyzed, frozen in time and eternity with a wounded and broken heart. He knows that a heart not healed will keep you from God, keep you from salvation.
The old saying, “time heals all wounds,” is not from the Bible, it’s from the devil!
This is why Jesus of Nazareth read from Isaiah 61: 1
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal and bind up the brokenhearted…”
Matter of fact, Jesus’ reading of the Isaiah passage was the official announcement of his earthly ministry.
The Psalmist, King David, penned:
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” Psalms 147:3
“His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
God is in control – He’s not only our Creator, but He’s our Father also. He touches our lives with wisdom and cares for us greater than our earthly fathers. He’s preparing us for eternity with Him and His actions are always with this in mind.
The devil wants you, if possible, to never meet your Heavenly Father. If he can’t prevent that, he’ll at least pervert it, by causing your earthly father to wound your heart and soul. When our hearts bare the scars of father’s wounds, it is so hard, if not impossible to trust God as our Everlasting Father.
And this is the central theme of Jesus’ ministry; to rescue you from the penalty of sin and the grip of the devil, and to heal your broken heart so that salvation can come to you.
“No one can come to the Father, said Jesus, except through me.” John 14:6
Your heart must be healed because it is to become your Heavenly Father’s dwelling place.
He alone is the home for your wounded heart. Trust him, He’s making you beautiful inside and out.
A few years ago I met a homeless man, named Aaron. Aaron wouldn’t say he was homeless but instead, he’d say he’s houseless. He and his dog were used to living outside and on their own. In other words, Aaron had chosen poverty as his lifestyle. He didn’t yearn for more, but only just enough to get by each new day. He had little to no envy for guys like me or even a desire to acquire more than he could carry in his backpack or bedroll.
Maybe Aaron had chosen a better way. He chose poverty long ago.
As our economy is slipping away, banks failing, and baby formula scarcity, Aaron has learned to live without, while we cling to what we have. Now, he’s watching men like us lose everything. He’s witnessing our agony and hearing our complaining and woes.
For Aaron, he has known no difference and no loss, because he had little investment in the world, and therefore, the world has taken little from him. Amazing! Now, it is Aaron who speaks wisdom. Not necessarily with words, but with his life. He chooses a better way. He’s become, my counselor, cheerleader, and advocate.
Our pain and hardship are not the sharpening of steel or the clanging of iron; it’s not the heated furnace, the violent remaking, reshaping of our lives, but the hand of correction ripping the world out of us.
Why? It is because we are true sons. It is because God is our True Father, and he desires that we live no longer in the World. We stink of worldliness. Our attics, garages, storage rentals, living rooms, game, and family rooms are witnesses of this fact.
We are in it deep. Oh man, does it hurt to watch these things disappear; house-by-house, boat-by-boat, car-by-car, credit-card-by-credit-card; life!?
The World gives, and the World taketh away.
The truth: because we are true sons, and God our True Father, he is choosing for us. We stinketh of the world, we stinketh of “flesh,” and if we truly want the presence of our Father, we must be baptized in the Fire of His Holiness! We must be pure because he is pure.
We must repent of our worldliness, the sooner the better. To chose poverty is a better process than being overcome by poverty. You will like it better.
“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go. Matthew 19:21-22 (The Message)
The virtue of poverty is more beautiful, more stunning to Poppa God than the finest fashions the world offers. For through a lesser garment, He can see the radiance of his Son, Jesus, and, therefore, so can the World.
Before, the World could only see the world in our lives. Heaven was at a loss because of the riches we adorned ourselves with, masked the greatest gift a father could bestow, the Glory of the Son. The radiances of Jesus are muted by our worldliness.
We shall soon be better dressed. Poverty is the latest fashion but seldom chosen. Not the poverty of what the world would think. But, the poverty of Christ. The setting aside of all his rights as God, to become a simple man, shows us that simple men can change the world. To confound the Wise. To sap the strength of the Strong. To confuse the Sophisticates. To baffle the Wealthy. To enrage the Religious. To magnify Christ. To point to Heaven. To reveal True Life, Real Living. To unveil True Freedom. To bring us to our True Father.
This world is not our home, never was, and never will be. We’re Evangelical Sojourners. The sooner we evangelize, the sooner we will journey home, our True Home.
“If the walls of your life have boxed you in, then kick the walls down, and make a dance floor!” – You Got To Keep Dancing – By Tim Hansel
Oh, how freeing it is to dance in open spaces. How much more we can see God when our lives are less cluttered with junk? Let’s get changed, let’s dance!
Don’t confuse worldly poverty with spiritual poverty. They are not the same. Those who choose spiritual poverty, are the wealthiest of all. Their investments are held in the security of heaven’s gates. Their wealth will never end and will never know depreciation or recession. It will not rust or wear out. No government shall confiscate it nor tax it.
Even if one were to choose physical poverty, blessed are we, for:
“Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” Matthew 5:3 (Amplified Bible)
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and his rule.” Matthew 5:3 (The Message)
Being needy is the state of poverty, which profits us the most. It is more easily attained by choice, rather than theft, confiscation, or repossession. The former comes by release and opened hands, the latter by ripping, tearing, and white-knuckled gripping.
Why is it “…more blessed to give than receive?” Because in giving, we increase our capacity, we make more room for the kingdom of God within. In receiving, we crowd and burden ourselves with more earthly responsibility and possession. Soon our possessions possess us, and not the Spirit of Christ.
If it all must go, let it go, that we may gain Christ. Only let it be done for love, not for ambition, recognition, title, or position, but simply because of the love of God. Less of me, my wants, desires even hopes and dreams; more of Christ and what pleases him, so that in all of our potential emptiness, we fully contain all of Christ.
Christ was cursed on his own because he chose a better way. He chose not the kingdoms of the world as offered by Satan. Not the leap off the temple heights, to attain a spectacular ministry of men and angels, nor independence by commanding stones to become bread.
Rather Christ chose to live in simplicity, neither owning nor possessing. He chose silence before accusers, seclusion instead of acclaim, prayer instead of food, and sinners instead of the righteous. He accepted the ignominy of the cross, and the poverty of a borrowed tomb, and left justice to his God. In seclusion, angels ministered to him when he was starved, naked, and thirsty.
Brennan Manning, the celebrated lover of God and author, wrote:
“I think moments before Christ gave up his spirit into the embrace of his Father, his Father whispered the following words:
“Come away with me my love, my lovely one come. For you the winter is over and gone, the snow has melted. The cooing of the turtle doves can be heard on the land, the flowers are in bloom. Come away with me my love, my lovely one come. Your face is beautiful your voice is sweet. Come away with me my love, my lovely one come.”
At that exact moment the weary and impoverished son, bloodied and beaten, naked and pierced, inhaled his last and final breath and said; “It is finished!” He hung his head and died. His broken body swept up into the loveliness of his Father.”
Because he chose poverty, he has made us all rich. Because he chose death we now live.
Today the choice is yours. Go, sell all that you have, give to the poor and you will have riches in heaven.
Your retirement is in heaven not here on earth. You may have earned it and saved for it, but there is a higher call, a higher law, and a higher love. Only a few find it, and less than a few stay with it. Those who endure, understand that their reward is not here, but in an eternal kingdom that’s not of this world.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus of Nazareth.
The kind of poverty Jesus is speaking about is seldom understood and even less seldom lived.
According to Jesus, no poverty, no Kingdom. If you have a problem with this, take it up with the King of kings.
The poor in spirit are blessed because they chose wisely.
The reason you feel like a victim is because you do not feel like a son or daughter. Having an “orphan mentality” makes you vulnerable and an easy target of doom and gloom.
Stop interpreting your hardship as a series of mishaps. If you begin to embrace all hardship as an established fact of your son-ship, suddenly you’ll gain strength you’ve never thought possible. Our God is no dead-beat dad; those whom he loves, he inflicts hardship, and his hardship for your life comes from a good place, his heart.
“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.” Proverbs 3:11-13
GOD is fathering you into the best son, or daughter you can be, because that’s what a good father does.
Nothing can be more meaningful or powerful as the Father Heart of GOD.
Maybe you’re simply misunderstanding your difficulties. If you can accept difficulties as a test from God rather than bad luck, you’ll want to past the test instead of complaining about it.
Maybe you’re not an orphan after all, maybe God is fathering you because he’s in love with you, just like a real daddy.
So, snap out of it!
You’re not an orphan. You’re a son or daughter of The Most High God!
Full-Time Pastors are no justification for part-time Christianity. Neither is Christianity simply a vocation of the elite and educated clergy.
It is a radically new culture and community; a new way of life and living, it is not a compartmentalized life, whereby God is public on Sundays, but private on Mondays through Saturdays; not an alternate-parallel lifestyle – that is, one foot in Church and one foot in the world. It is an all-consuming, all-encompassing otherworldly life.
True Christianity is so radical, so alien that your only way to survive in it is to suit up in complete faith. Natural laws and physics are without limits and barriers; economy and dominion are infinite and ever-expanding. Sickness and disease are opportunities and victories for growth. For the believer, death is but a brief nap and an instant passageway from a lesser glory to full glory.
However, someone suggested that to reach the world, we must act like the world and, well, that’s backfired!
Somewhere along the way, we’ve become the world, and therefore the world has nothing to see; there’s no contrast. The world is left without a testimony. Jesus himself said before he ascended into heaven:
“When I return, will I find faith on earth?”
Let’s stop our part-time Christianity and make it our full-time life. Let’s not leave our Christian duties and responsibilities to our pastors, but all do the work of ministry.
Doing nothing to very little with our faith stunts our growth as a godly people. Serving others and doing the work of ministry causes us to flourish and reach maturity in the faith.
The world needs grown-up Christians and not another worldly-religious order.
There’s no doubt that tribulation can be a useful tool for the Refiner’s fire; purifying our body, soul, and mind. But, if we reject the Holy Spirit’s conviction of God’s Word, expect all pleasantries to disappear.
Worldly comforts are not a sign of godly favor. No sir — They are an indicator that you may not be a true son or daughter of God. True sons and daughters are purified by the things they suffer. They know it is the hour of chastisement, bringing about true repentance; so rather than pout and complain, they act with dispatch to be renewed and rejoined. They don’t get bogged down with shame, they get lifted with praise!
They become consumed in the life of Christ. He is the reason they triumph through tribulation and suffering. Their suffering is purpose-driven, that is to become closer to Jesus and the all-encompassing, all-consuming, otherworldly life He offers.
Remember, your pastor will not be standing in for you on your behalf at The Judgement Seat of Christ. Nope, it’ll be just you, and what you have, and have not done to the least of one of these.
You’re not saved by your works, but your works validate your faith. Faith without works is dead and works without faith and love is nothing at all.
I challenge you to show off your faith to the unseen world so that the world in which we live will see your faith and believe. Make your Heavenly Father proud, and give him many reasons to say: “Well done, my faithful son or daughter.”
When your faith lights up, it shows off the incomparable brightness and weightiness of God. Because God is all-encompassing and all-consuming, there is no room for worldly compromise.
I had this nightmarish dream about eleven months ago, and it now seems more relevant today than April of 2022.
I had a very vivid and story-like dream during the early morning hours of April 16, 2022.
I dreamt that I was driving with two of my youngest children. Suddenly, traffic slowed to a stop. Civil unrest and pandemonium everywhere, on the streets and sidewalks.
I rolled down my window and asked what was going on?
“The banks are closing, and the ATMs won’t work!”
I immediately turned my truck around and headed to my bank, Wells Fargo. When I arrived, people were lined up in front of the bank, restless, panicked, and afraid. Nobody was prepared for the chaos; everyone just wanted to withdraw their cash. The police tried to control the crowd, but they too were concerned and worried about what looked like a financial collapse.
[In reality, I’m the well-informed type of guy. I’m like a watchman when it comes to political and financial news, but in my dream, I was taken by complete surprise like everyone else.]
I stayed at the bank for what seemed like hours, pounding desperately on the door, demanding our money. Finally, a manager poked her head out from behind the glass door, saying, “Sorry, we’re closed, there’s no money inside; please, please go home!”
I got back into my truck; my kids had fear and confusion written on their faces, saying,
“dad, please just take us home!”
Instead, I drove to our other bank, Umpqua. The manager was outside and politely speaking to the crowd. We all pleaded for our money, but she said, “There’s no money here.”
I stuck around until most of the crowd had dispersed. I asked the bank manager what was really going on? All she knew was that she was ordered to close the bank.
I got into my truck, assured my kids that it would be alright, and started for home.
As I was waking up, during the brief moment between dreaming and awakening, a thought scrolled across my mind, like a news chyron, during a televised breaking news event…
…The Feds Have Just Announced The Dollar Has Been Replaced With Federally Issued Digital Currency…
…Moments later, I heard Toni, calling me down for breakfast.
I got up from bed, still sleepy, processing my dream, and wandered downstairs for a cup of coffee.
Toni was at the table, enjoying the breakfast just delivered to our beach cottage in Mendocino. I shared my dream with her and said it was an unusually realistic dream.
As a matter of fact; I had awakened a few times during the nightmare only to drift back asleep, stepping right back into the dream where I had left off! Typically my dreaming is abstract and meaningless, but not this dream, folks.
Several things come to mind…
Our faith must be 100% in the Lord, and not in the world or in the world’s systems.
We must get our financial affairs in order. We must get out of debt and cease our dependence and addiction to credit.
We must get our relationships with one another in order. We must not withhold forgiveness. We must become one people, one family, united in truth and in faith.
We must prepare for persecution and severe trials. (If I read any comments, “don’t worry, cause we’ll all be raptured,” please unfriend me).
We need to walk in peace and confidence, being solidly in Lord now, or we won’t when calamity and pandemonium strike.
This collapse will indeed arrive sooner than later, and without expectancy. Therefore, we must be prepared to shine brightly, holding forth the Word of Life.
Belief in the empty tomb will strengthen you during the time of empty banks.
“‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.’” Philippians 2: 14-16
The world is crooked and warped to this; there is no argument. To those who believe in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, we must prepare ourselves to shine among them like stars in the sky. We can only do that if we have an unbreakable grip on the Word of Life — The resurrected life of Jesus Christ.
I’ll say it one more time; Belief in the empty tomb will strengthen you during the time of empty banks.
Don’t give into panic; panic is not an attribute of a true and faithful believer.
Encourage one another while the lights are still on. Darkness is coming. Your day of shining is fast approaching. Shine brightly!
You cannot climb to the heights of joy unless you first plumbed the depths of despair. Yes even your despair can be valuable. It is the pressures of despair in the depths of your soul where something precious is being formed.
This little article should be read as road map, a map showing you the way to find joy when joy is the furthest thing from your mind, will, and emotion.
I’m a pretty optimistic guy with a fairly even-keeled personality. I didn’t choose to be this way. I am fortunate to have been born with a sense of optimism. When I was younger, I used to have surges of optimism, but now in my sixties, not so much.
How about loved ones; family, friends, and acquaintances that have the opposite? Instead of optimism, they suffer from depression and anxiety, and because of this, they’ve become pessimistic. Trying to cope with periodic or ongoing bouts of depression and anxiety can be hell on earth. I have seen what it looks like in the faces of my loved ones.
So here is the thing, as fortunate as I am to be optimistic, upbeat, and positive, I must choose joy, just as much as one suffering from depression must choose joy. There is a problem with both polar opposites. Both depressive and optimistic personalities, in their extremes, are void of joy.
You see, being controlled, or mentally dominated by optimism or depression, leaves no room for joy. Joy, real joy, is a choice. The choice is not easy for the depressed and the optimist.
But far too many people bypass joy for a new lover, new home, or even a baby, hoping they’ll find happiness.
The scriptures, more or less, indicate that joy is a command from the heart and mind to the soul, or vice versa. Even a command to our bones! Yep, I can attest to that; being sixty-something, I have a lot of aches in my bones; my bones speak to me; no, they really do, they make all kinds of sounds when I walk!
“Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice.” – Psalm 51:8
“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a good report makes the bones healthy.” – Proverbs 15:30
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24
Joy is medicine to our body, heart, mind, and even our bones!
Like all medicines, many of us must be reminded to take it, perhaps even forced. Ah, but when you do follow the doctor’s orders, or your wife’s, the medicine helps with whatever ails you. And so, you must also choose joy to receive all of its benefits.
I did a word study on Joy in the New King James Version of the Bible. Did you know that the word “joy” appears 192 times in both the Old and New Testaments? Just studying the word Joy, brings you joy!
But still, choosing joy in the midst of depression, worry, sickness, betrail, and even divorce seems almost impossible. Trying to reign in our emotions when our mind and body seem out of control is like trying to rope a bull elephant!
So many people suffering from depression, anxiety, and traumatic events, such as betrail, divorce, etc., show the signs of their condition in their bodies and even in their bones. Everything aches and most things lose their significance, such as food, relationships, and even life itself. But this is why joy is so important and why the Bible mentions it 192 times!
Sacrificial joy, that is, choosing to be joy-filled when things are not right, is real medicine. As I mentioned earlier, joy is a medicine that sometimes you must force yourself to take.
I had written an article a few weeks ago titled:
“My Allergic Reaction To Asking For Help.”
This is a story of my unintended flight down a set of stairs, whereby I had ruptured and shredded my quadriceps above my left knee. They snapped like a dried twig! Well, it wasn’t the painful surgery that gave me grief; it was nausea from the general aniestic!
I absolutely hate nausea. It began post-surgery and as soon as my wife took me home. The orthopedic surgeon hadn’t prescribed any anti-nausea meds. So there I am, writhing in nausea, dizziness, and fighting the urge to throw up. Toni saw how terrible I looked and felt. It was late, but I begged her to go to the pharmacy and bring home some anti-nausea meds.
While Toni was away, I was so desperate that I turned on a Christian Radio Station, K-LOVE, and listened to worship music while alone in my living room. I struggled initially, but I started to command my body, heart, and mind to be joyful. I began singing praises and thanksgiving to God, thanking him, even for the dreaded nausea. In a matter of few minutes, my nausea vanished, and my pain began to diminish.
Soon, Toni showed up with the anti-nausea meds, but when she handed me the bag, I said, “Oh, um, I’m feeling much better; the nausea is over.” She looked a little perturbed, only because I sent her on a wild goose chase for drugs that I didn’t need. I should’ve started with joy.
Early the following year, I contracted a form of the H1N1 virus. I had never been so sick. I reached a point where I got my inner house in order, so to speak, because I actually thought that I might die! While burning with fever, I again started to praise God and sing a joyful song to Him. It wasn’t at all easy or even natural to push through, but nonetheless, I did.
I lay there on my sickbed and began singing Psalms 100.
“(A Psalm of praise.) Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands…
…I will enter into His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, and into his courts with praise: I will say this is the day that the Lord hath made, I will rejoice in Him and be glad.”
Yeah, I actually thought I might be entering the Courts of Heaven that night, but God had other plans. Forcing myself to express joy helped me to triumph through that dreaded virus.
Actually, to “rejoice” is just that; it means giving joy to God until it is given back to you. To rejoice in the Lord is the worshipper becoming gladdened, exuberant, and jubilant by taking great delight in God. Heartfelt Joy is reciprocal. It is also contagious.
The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17
For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12
God sometimes brings correction through the things we suffer because He knows that suffering can produce the precious commodity called joy. Just like an oyster and a grain of sand, which to the oyster is an irritant. From this irritant comes a pearl.
Probably one of the most impactful examples of this was on, of all places, America’s Got Talent TV show.
Jane Kristen Marczewski, known by many as Nightbird, (December 29, 1990 – February 19, 2022), on AGT, viewed by millions, and a recipient of the coveted “Golden Buzzer,” told the world the following after she sang her original song, “It’s OK”:
“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
The audience, and especially Simon Cowell, were stunned. I was too.
Really, Jane’s words were so powerful because they are true, not just her truth, but right from the Bible. They are God’s truth, and that night, they were spoken by a frail and tiny but courageous woman. I think the shock of it all was profound because it was spoken over the backdrop of her story; her battle with cancer.
Jane had learned the power of joy and happiness in spite of the cancer eating away at her future.
Happiness or joy is now, not later. It’s in the middle of your darkest nights, dreariest days, and deepest despairs. Joy and happiness are choices. Yes, hard choices. If they were easy, they’d have far less value with no real healing and no inner peace. That night, Jane Kristen Marczewski, became God’s pearl.
God allows irritants to enter our life too. He does this with intricate perfection and purpose.
“Thus says The Most High, The Exalted One who inhabits all eternity, and is holy, and holy is his dwelling with the humble, and with the weary of spirit to give life to the spirit of the humble, and to give life to the heart of the suffering ones.” Isaiah 57:15
When we are at our worst, choosing joy is most powerful. The Isaiah verse above tells us The Most High God, The Exalted One, who lives in all eternity while He dwells in a high and lofty place, He is near the humble, the sorrowful, and the sufferers.
When we command our body, heart, mind, and yes, even our bones to rejoice in God, He gives life. He refreshes. He restores, and He reciprocates our sacrificial joy. “He will quiet us with his love.” “He will rejoice over us with gladness” and even “rejoice over us with singing.” Because God is not a distant deity, He is your Heavenly Father, and he is much nearer than you can imagine.
Like the oyster, we can’t see the development of beauty inside our lives. Our struggles with depression, anxiety, worry, and overoptimism distract us from the work that God is doing. Instead, we feel abandoned by God, orphaned, and on our own. The truth is that God is there with us in the midst of our pain. It requires us to believe and to trust in God’s promises. The Bible says God would rather dwell with us than with kings and queens.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
He would have to be very close to you to heal your broken heart, bind up your wounds, and save your crushed spirit.
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18
Then God sends us His Son, Jesus to rescue us…
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted and to announce that captives shall be released and the blind shall see, that the downtrodden shall be freed from their oppressors, and that God is ready to give blessings to all who come to him.” Luke 4:18-19
Don’t live life without joy.
“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” Jane Kristen Marczewski, Nightbird
Choose joy, and in a very short while, you’ll understand. Maybe you’re becoming God’s Pearl, too.
Before a nation collapses, the family collapses. Before a family collapses, the father collapses. Therefore, the fall of nations is the failure of fathers.
After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Toni and I finally went to a movie theater in Angels Camp, California, to watch the sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water.” We watched it in 3D at 48 frames per second. Wow!
The movie’s subtitle should have read, “The Way of Fathers.”
While the cinematography, special effects, action, and acting were all superb, the portrayal of the father’s role was unmistakable and powerful! Matter of fact so was the mother’s role. The importance of parents and family is something we rarely see in movies produced in Holywood.
While James Cameron wrote a fantastic story and script, the importance of fathers taking responsibility for their children was something to behold. Just like in the world of Avatar, our world needs strong, uncompromising fathers to survive!
I see the role and importance of fathers in the Bible, from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of the Book of Revelations. From the last book of the Old Testament, the final chapter, and the last two verses, and to the opening of the New Testament, in the Book of Luke, chapter one, verses fifteen through seventeen.
Malachi 4: 5-6 (Last Old Testament Book)
“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
Luke 1: 15-17 (One of the First New Testament Books)
15, ff “…And he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to their Lord God. 17, And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the unbelievers to the wisdom of the just men: to make the people ready for the Lord.”
John the Baptist was the second Elijah spoken about in the Book of Malachi. It was his job to stir the hearts of fathers to their sons and daughters. Otherwise, the mission of Jesus to reconcile the lost sons and daughters of Israel to his Heavenly Father would have met hardened hearts.
Our roles as fathers are not only the most significant societal and cultural role; it is the single most important relational/spiritual role our children can have here on earth. Malachi is pointing out that a father’s estrangement (absence) from his children has the potential of cursing our land and creating avenues of destruction throughout our cities and towns. Estranged and absent fathers make ungodly and rebellious children. It also hardens the children’s hearts against the love of God, his Heavenly Father’s role, and ultimately His plan of salvation for them.
Do you fathers understand your role and responsibility in God’s plan of salvation for your children? You will be held to account. Do you want to stand before God as a deadbeat dad?
There can be no more significant failure in a man’s life than to turn his back on his marriage and children.
The career is not worth it. An affair is not worth it. Money is not worth it. One more drink is not worth it. Your girlfriend is not worth it. Even your “ministry” is not worth the sacrifice of your children.
Suppose you’re on the fence about your marriage and your responsibility for your children. Suppose you’ve walked out of your marriage and your kids’ lives. Suppose you’re in an affair or about to enter one. Even the promotion in work or ministry could take you away from your wife and kids. Consider the impact on their lives and future and our culture before you walk off the cliff of selfishness. It is not worth it, men!
Go back home to the wife of your first love. Go back home to the family you’ve left behind. Go back home to the most extraordinary life a man can live. Rescue your wife, save your children and save your legacy!
Reconciliation becomes possible when fathers turn their hearts back towards their children, taking responsibility and becoming accountable for them. To reverse the curse, which is undeniably present in our culture, we fathers must turn back to God and walk in His ways so that we can again point our children to a greater Father to embrace, love, and walk with throughout their lifetime.
The success of marriage and unconditional commitment to our wives and children must exceed the failure rate of broken families and absent fathers. If this tide cannot be turned, then as Malachi has prophetically declared, our land will indeed become cursed and worsen rapidly.
Repair the breach, men! Turn your hearts back towards your sons and daughters. Repair your marriages and live up to your commitments. Turn your hearts back to God and walk with Him as your True Father and listen to His advice and wise counsel. After all, He is the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Wonderful Counselor, and Prince of Peace. God is everything we need as men to become the fathers our sons and daughters need and our land requires.
To those sons and daughters that have lost their fathers due to death, you can still turn your hearts back towards him. Forgiveness is your most significant path to a new life, to a new future, and to become healed from your heartache.
This is the only path to a cure; to reverse the curse and restore our great Nation through restored families! Get it done, men!
…It may only take “20 seconds of courage.”
Make this your New Year’s Resolution, a Revolution For the Love of your children.
Have you ever considered that your wounds may be a perfect gift from God that can serve others in profound ways?
“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.” - Brennan Manning
It is not the breaking of our bodies that should be our focus, not the illnesses we may suffer from time to time, no matter how severe. It's not our sicknesses we should buffer or how broken we may become while here; there is something else to consider, something other is near.
It’s not the betrayals or deceptions we may encounter, even if our hearts have been shattered. Our souls are emptied and filled only with fear, but the Life that remains in us, which may be covered by grief, pain, and despair, like snow-covered green grass in winter, shall be unveiled when spring again fills the air.
For even the faintest heartbeat and most shallow of breath, there lies hope. Life does not come easy, even for the most wealthy, yet life is a choice to be made. And if we so choose to believe it, beauty shall be our reward each new day and each new year.
Authentic living shall bring forth such brightness to dispel and vanquish such desperate despair.
Our most gloomy nights filled with impatient anger can be transformed into powerful meekness and care; such sweetness to our bitter sorrows are waiting; such eternal wealth for our poverty is near, and such fullness to satisfy all hunger to our hungry souls shall there be the grandest affair.
All for those who shall be rewarded of mustard seed faith to compare; of glories unknown to the healthy and sick such treasure laid bare; for beauty and ashes shall be traded, but none for the self-righteous to spare.
So kiss your chains, which bind you to all sorts of suffering, and thankfully say: "Good morning" to the pain, which lingered throughout the night and, yet, remains into the days, weeks, months, or perhaps years, because, in all things, even the bad and ugly work out for our good by God's care, which does not add to his glory, for He is complete in all the attributes he bares, but it does add to your ultimate healing and refined glory to credit to be shared.
We who believe, and are true sons and daughters of God, are broken to be given and to become children who bear a lesser yet increasing glory of the Most Glorious Father of our hearts and souls.
So let's not waste our suffering on complaining and blaming, but rather let us all rejoice in our transformation, which is to follow if we endure and not despair!
Your brokenness is making you beautiful and a wellspring of Life for other sufferers to drink from, and that, my dear sisters and brothers, is the Christ of all Healing, The God of all Comfort, and the Everlasting Father of all fragile Hopes.
The Greatest gift that God could give required his only Son to suffer an ignominious and terrible death so that through Christ's suffering, we would have everlasting life.
My business takes me to people that have lost their homes and sometimes their loved ones to fire, flooding, or earthquake. Knowing this, I've added the following words to the reverse side of my business card: Living a scarless life is not living at all...
…Sometimes, our greatest triumphs lie in our most significant defeats. In all things, I am a child of God and never a victim. I do not, therefore, interpret tragic circumstances as mishaps but as a divinely scheduled trip to God’s beauty parlor.
Did you know that our lists of unforgiven people become building blocks for an inner stronghold where hatred will fester and thrive?
We become deceived into thinking that our unforgiveness is justified due to the seriousness of the offense against us.
When we refuse to forgive, we end up owning the offense, or more accurately, the offense owns us. The offender, well, they, may have moved on, yet we are the ones that are needlessly imprisoned because of our own stubbornness.
Maybe you’re not aware, but you’ve always held the keys to your own prison.
Your forgiveness is the only key to unlocking your prison door. It is the only way in which you, yourself, can be forgiven.
“Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you, but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you.” Matthew 6:15 – Jesus of Nazareth
In Jesus’ Name, let it go; forgive them, and set yourself free!