Monday, August 15, 2016

When You are Stuck in the Prison of Your Soul or I HATE to WAIT!!!

Genesis 41:1 "Two years passed…” After Joseph had interpreted the dreams of the baker and butler and the butler had been restored to his job, promising Joseph that if it all came true he would tell Pharaoh about him, the butler was reinstated and then...promptly forgot about Joseph—so the next verse starts with “Two years passed…” Two years! PASSED! While Joseph sat in prison!

Interesting that the Bible inserts those words. Two years passed. We have nothing recorded about Joseph’s life during those two years. We can only assume that it was lived the way the previous years had been lived because of what we see AFTER the two years. How had he lived? Gen 39: 20 So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. 22 Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. 23 The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.

"But I don’t LIKE to wait." Neither did Joseph. "Well, if my story ended up like Joseph’s I wouldn’t mind the waiting so much." Joseph had NO CLUE how his story would end up. He just found himself stuck in “wait” mode. He must have wondered a million times if he would ever get out of prison and be able to fulfill some of his goals and dreams for his life…even if they were to be spent as a slave. He could at least work to be head of the household.

No. I think Joseph must have gotten pretty tired of the waiting. Two years passed. Two years! But God hadn’t forgotten about Joseph. He had greater plans and Joseph’s character would have to be equal to the task. Like a blacksmith forging his iron, or a glassblower who knows just exactly when to take the glass out of the flames, God knew what it would take to bring Joseph’s character to be strengthened equal to the task. He knew that Joseph would have to be able to wield power carefully. God knew that Joseph would have to be kind. He knew that Joseph would need to be wise and that ultimately, Joseph would be able to preserve his family instead of annihilate them because of unresolved hatred. God knew that Joseph would have to be able to forgive.

So maybe you find yourself in the waiting period. Nothing seems to be moving. Your career. Stuck. Your passion. Gone. Relationships. Stagnate. Two years pass. Maybe 5. And you wait. And wait. How do you deal with the wait?

I have been there. Waiting. My soul passionless. Sometimes even the food I ate tasting bland and grey. No aliveness in my soul nor song in my heart. Unable to feel all but the strongest of emotions: mainly anger. Waiting and praying that God would somehow, someway deliver me from the prison of myself. My job as a pastor was crushing at times, seeking to bring hope to those that God brought to me while the grey in my soul was eating me alive. Week after week, month after month, year after year, writing sermons, counseling, giving Bible studies, planning and executing mission trips to Appalachia, seeking to keep hope alive in my own soul and my spiritual nose above water.

To be sure, there were some times better than others. There were times when it seemed like I would be getting out of this soul prison. It would seem that the door were starting to finally swing open and new hope would spring forth, but just as quickly, something would happen that would slam the door in my face. The death of friends and family members through cancer, heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, plane crashes and sometimes, even old age, all of these stretched out on my life line to slam the cell door of my soul back in my face.

I read a story once, about Mother Theresa saying that she had gone 22 years without hearing a word from God. She called it her “dark night of the soul” experience. She was asked, “How in the world did you keep going when you felt God was so distant?” Her response stunned me. She reportedly answered, “I just kept going back to the last place I KNEW I heard God speaking to me and sought to be obedient to that."

So how do I endure the waiting, especially not knowing how long it will last? I think it is found in the same way. It is in my belief that God is in control and that it isn’t so much what happens to me, but IN ME, that matters. Somehow I keep going back to the time where I KNOW I heard God speaking to me distinctly and I, like Joseph, like Mother Theresa, seek to be obedient to that until I next hear God change my calling.

And so I continue to wait. Totally dependent upon Grace to help me administer grace to the graceless, hope to the hopeless, help me write sermons and give counsel and dispense wisdom that calls people back to God. Grace that gives me strength for the journey, not knowing if today I will be in the cell, or suddenly promoted to the palace. To be sure—I rest in HIS promise: 2Cor. 12:9 NLT Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Two years passed… how will YOU wait?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hurry Up and Wait! Expect Delays!

Ever played that game?  The "hurry up and wait" game?  I was playing it on the freeway from Atlanta just this afternoon.  I was zipping in and out of traffic, trying to get past all of the slow cars, only to get 5 miles up the road where a lane was shut down because a car had caught on fire...and as all of the traffic came to a standstill, I found myself the middle of it...unable to move!  Frustrating...but there was nothing I could do about it except embrace it.  I was where I was and no amount of wishing would move me an inch closer or a minute faster towards my goal.

I began to think of all the times I play the "hurry up and wait" game and how it really is rather stupid.  Yet I do it all the time.  Like on airplanes.  As soon as the aircraft comes to a complete stop and the little bong sound chimes, I've got that seat belt off, standing up and grabbing my items from the overhead bin like I'm headed to a fire.  The only problem is--everyone else is doing the same thing.  And usually, I'm about 3/4 of the way back, so I have to wait for the whole plane to unload before I can even pick my stuff up.

Or when I'm shopping at Wal-Mart and I only have 15 items (or less)--and I see some elderly grandma with a hand full of coupons and a full grocery cart, meandering towards the same lane I had already picked out.  If I can get away with it, I accelerate rapidly and try to get in ahead of her.  If it is too close to call, and I might get called for being a rude pastor, I back off and start checking all of the other lines to see if there might be some hope of getting in a faster lane.

But I noticed that I'm not alone.  You do it too!  What's THAT all about?  As I sat in traffic today I pondered that question.

I think it comes when we begin to view the world through the eyes of "how will this affect ME?"  And if it affects me adversely, the "I don't like this one bit!"  My focus suddenly shifts from how others are affected to how I'm affected and my selfish nature takes over.  I  become the center of my universe and though I may have a tinge of empathy for the poor person who's car went up in flames, I was more than relieved when the tow truck got it hefted up on top and drove off, clearing the rest of us to accelerate back to normal (and in many cases, above normal) speeds.

I, however, didn't try to zig and zag out of traffic any longer, as I continued to ponder the question: Just what is it about ME that I think I deserve to have life always go my way all of the time?  Just why do I tend to get so upset when I get into the "hurry up" mindset and then am forced to wait?  But most importantly...How do I STOP the "hurry up and wait" mentality in the first place?  How can I come to the point of "going with the flow" instead of blowing my top?

The sign may say "expect delays" but instead of learning to accept that and adjusting my life to reality, I always seem to be shocked when I find myself facing delays.  I grow angry and outraged that my world is being affected.  That I am being forced to wait still again. 

Yet, on the other hand, I readily admit that I want to make a difference in life.  I want my life to have purpose and meaning. That I want my life to count for the cause of God.

Is it conceivable that my expectations are unrealistic?  Can I really have it both ways?  Can I be "king of the road" and serve another King at the same time? Could it be that the reason  I get so upset at the "hurry up and wait" game is because I believe, deep down, without question, that it really should be all about me after all?  Of course I would never say it out loud...or would I?  Perhaps my loudly yelling at the other "idiots on the road", or muttering and sighing loudly as grandma goes through all of her coupons is my subtle way of telling the world that I sincerely believe that I really should be the most important person in the room or on the road?

Wasn't it Jesus who really addressed the problem head on when his disciples asked the question about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom?  Do you remember what Jesus told them?

Matt 20:25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Among you it will be different!  Is it possible that the delays of life could actually aid me in developing meaning and purpose?  Could it be that God designed the delays because He is more interested in my holiness than He is my happiness?  Is my whining and complaining really only showing God where MY heart is rather than pointing out how stupid everyone else appears to me or how they bother me, or even annoy and disgust me?  I think so.  The angry, griping, or whiney words I say really are more a statement about me and where my heart is than it is about those who annoy me.  And scripture would bear this out.

Luke 6:45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

So how you and I handle the "hurry up and wait" game really reveals our hearts as well as our characters.  I don't know about you...but I want what flows from my heart to reveal a Savior, not a slime ball.  A character of distinction rather than corruption.  A heart full of love for God and others, not so focused on myself that my short-sightedness eclipses someone else's view of God.  Which brings to mind one other text...

Is. 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 

Teach me Lord, to wait!  And then let me soar!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Never Enough!

One of the most common things I hear as an opening line whenever kids come into to talk to me is, “Pastor Don, I’m so stressed I don’t know what to do.”

In our current society, we push kids, we hurry kids, we sign them up for all sorts of things…and think that it is never enough.  We expect them to be good at EVERYTHING…instead of taking their natural abilities into account.  We push and push for grades.  We enroll them in soccer and t-ball and gymnastics and dance and football and martial arts and we expect them to get all A’s in all subjects.  But what we are really doing is saying, in essence, “you will never be good enough unless you can produce the results.”  Or as one parent put it: “I’m paying the money so you better show me that I’m not wasting it.”  What’s the message there?  My money is very important to me.  I’m going to use some of it to help you develop…but don’t waste my money.  And the implied message is…if you don’t become good at it, you have failed me, and my money, and that is totally unacceptable.

Who says that everyone has to be good at everything?  What if, when they make a C in a class, you ask them what they are really good at and encourage them to pursue that?  What if you told them a C was good enough for an area they were not gifted in, while you encouraged them to pursue what they were gifted in?

What ever happened to individuality?  Instead, we want them to be good at everything…even when we are not!  We want them to make all A’s!  And we’ve gotten them to buy into the notion that unless they do, they will be a failure.

Help me finish these statements: You have to get good grades so that… (you can get into a good college)  You have to get into a good college so that…(you can get a good job)  You have to get a good job so that…(you can make lots of money)  You have to make lots of money so that…(you can be successful and happy).  Where did we get that?

From the world’s system of doing things.   So we put pressure on them to get good grades so ultimately they can be happy.  And what we really are doing is telling them that happiness is a station they can one day arrive at instead of a manner of traveling.  Which flies directly in the face of what God wants to develop in them.  God is more interested in their holiness than He is their happiness.  He wants to develop their character more than He does their bank accounts.  He wants them to find true joy in serving others.  But we short-circuit that in the lives of teens by elevating education and advanced degrees and people with money over serving God with passion.

Don’t misunderstand me.  There is nothing wrong with having an education and advanced degrees.  There is nothing wrong with being wealthy.  But if that is what we are telling kids will bring them happiness, then we have flat out sold them a lie.  And at what cost?  They have more stress in their lives than they can handle and we heap more and more on them telling them they have to do these things to what?  Climb the world’s social and economic ladders.  We tell them that what they are doing is never enough.

God designed that education and advanced degrees and even our wordly wealth all be used to honor Him.  Not some artificial socio-economic structure that we’ve bought into.  But there is something more inherently dangerous in this “never enough” message. 

This attitude carries over into their spiritual life as well.  We portray God as saying…you will never be good enough…but you better produce anyway.  Read your Bible.  Pray.  Witness.  Become a vegan.  Learn to preach.  Do good deeds for others.  Give Bible Studies.  Serve at the church. Get up at 4:30 every morning, exercise, never eat Twinkies (but Little Debbie’s are ok) and if you’re diligent, you just might make it.  But please understand…no matter what you do, it won’t be good enough.

And most will look at us and say, “Then why should I try?”  And we basically say, “Because that’s what God has called good little Christian boys and girls to do!  So do it!”
And we often make it harder than it should be.  

Why do we do that?   It’s perhaps because sometimes we get confused ourselves.  We sometimes don’t feel like we are good enough or are doing enough to make it into the kingdom. Let’s examine that for a few moments.

There used to be taught a theology, that unfortunately still lingers, that went something like this.  First of all, when you accept Christ, he forgives and cleanses you and imputes His righteousness to you.  That’s called Justification.  So far, they are on track.  No problem until we start looking at the “now what?” question.  After I accept Christ, now what?  

This line of theology goes that what happens next is that each day, Christ righteousness will come all the way down and meet you where you are and cover your inadequacies, but that He expects you to grow, so that each day, as you grow, Christ will need to cover less and less, until you have actually grown up to meet Him and you have perfectly reproduced the character of Christ.  This line of thought continues that at the end of time, when Christ stands up and makes His pronouncement about being holy, etc., you will need to stand without a mediator for a time, so you will need to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect, in order to make it to heaven.  If not, you are out of the pool and under the curse.

Sounds a little scary, but it also sounds plausible, so let’s examine it a little more closely.  If I tried to live a Christian life under that system, I would soon become very frustrated.  The frustration would come because I still come up against my sins and my sinful nature, again and again, and it would seem that I may never reach the goal, no matter how hard I try.  As a matter of fact, when I really get honest, I realize that I will never  reach the goal!  No matter what I do, it will never be enough.  And the natural reaction would be to give up in defeat before I ever got started good.

But what does this theology do with Christ’s words in Matthew 11: 28?  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Where is the easy yoke and the light burden?  Living under this theology is heavy and defeating.  As a matter of fact, it’s a lie because it puts the emphasis on what I have to do instead of on Christ.  It actually puts me and my works in competition with Christ and His sacrifice for me. The fact is, I will always be in need of Christ and His grace.  Always! Anytime a theology becomes more dependent on me, instead of Jesus, I need to put it aside.

John 14:6   Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

See, I may never have enough, do enough, or be enough to make it on my own, but it’s not about me. It’s about Jesus.  Now THAT is Good News!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lessons From a Truck Stop Diner

Occasionally, I get an e-mail that makes me stop and think.  The one that follows is a great example of what it means to be part of a functional family, which is what God has called His church to be.  Read it and see if you don’t agree.  (The author is unknown, at least to me, but if it belongs to someone you know, I will gladly give credit where it is due!)

“I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Steve. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy.  But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I  wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Steve. He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Down syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade. The  four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me, the mouthy college kids traveling to school, the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck germ;" the pairs of white shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Steve so I closely watched him for the first few weeks. I shouldn't have worried.

After the first week, Steve had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck mascot. After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Steve got done with the table. Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully put the dishes and glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag. If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

  Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, which stopped to check on him every so often, admitted
they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Steve being sent to a group home. That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Steve missed work. He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new  valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Down syndrome often had heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months. A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery and doing fine. 

Fannie, my head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the   
good news. Bell Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of the 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table. Fannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering look. He grinned. "OK, Fannie, what was that all about?" he asked.

"We just got word that Steve is out of surgery and going to be okay."

"I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?"

Fannie quickly told Bell Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Steve's surgery, then sighed. "Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be OK," she said, "but I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills.  From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is." Bell Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Fannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables.

Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Steve and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do. After the morning rush, Fannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and funny look on her face.

"What's up?" I asked. "I didn't get that table where Bell Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off," she said, "this was folded and tucked under a coffee cup." She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed "Something For Steve". "Pony Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told him about Steve and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this." She handed me another paper napkin that had "Something For Steve" scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds.

Fannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply, "truckers." That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Steve is supposed to be back to work. His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called 10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy. I arranged to have his mother bring him to work, met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back. Steve was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop  grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.

"Hold up there, Steve, not so fast," I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. "Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me." I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room. I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins. "First thing you have to do, Steve, is clean up this mess," I said. I tried to sound stern. Steve looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had "Something for Steve" printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table. Steve stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it.  I turned to his mother.

"There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. Happy Thanksgiving."

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well. But you know what's funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Steve, with a big, smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table. Best worker I ever hired. Plant a seed and watch it grow.”

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!  Family!  When one is in need, the rest gather around to help.  That’s family.  When one hurts, the others surround him/her to bring encouragement and love.  That’s family.  When one can’t see where the next step is to be placed, family members guide the steps.  God has called us to be a family.  A functional family.  Not to fight, bicker and complain, but to love, uphold and lift up.  Functional families build up rather than tear down.  Functional families work to strengthen another’s weaknesses rather than shutting them out because of their shortcomings.  Functional families talk to rather than about each other.  And functional families support in the face of crisis rather than back away.  

Tell me--are you a functional family member?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Cure for the Bad News Blues

I don’t know about you, but I tend to enjoy the twisted humor of a good news, bad news joke.  I may not laugh outright, but I will often find myself letting out an amused groan.

Art Gallery Owner to one of his artists: I have some good news and some bad news.
Artist: What's the good news?
Gallery Owner: The good news is that a man came in here today asking if the price of your paintings would go up after you die.  When I told him they would, he bought every one of your paintings.
Artist: That's great!  What's the bad news?
Gallery Owner: The bad news is that man was your doctor!

See, there is always that little twist on the end that gets you.  You just don’t see it coming.  Here’s another one.

Criminal Lawyer to his client: I have some good news and some bad news.
Client: Well, give me the bad news first.
Lawyer: The bad news is that the DNA tests showed that it was your blood they found all over the crime scene.
Client: Oh no!  I'm ruined!  What's the good news?
Lawyer: The good news is your cholesterol is down to 130!

You didn’t see that coming did you?  That’s what makes the good news, bad news jokes work: the surprise ending.  And then there are some that have only an implied ending.

Doctor: I have some good news and some bad news.
Patient: What's the good news?
Doctor: The good news is they are naming a disease after you!

I’ll let you figure out the bad news.  Some of you are still saying, “I don’t get it.”
If they name a disease after you, it means it so new, they have absolutely no cure.

The life of Joseph is one whole good news-bad news story full of twists and turns that you could never see coming.  Favored son.  Despised brother sold into slavery.  Rises to the head of Potiphar’s house.  Does the right thing and ends up in prison.  Rises to the top position in the prison and interprets dreams for two of Pharaoh’s servants.  Is forgotten for 2 more years. Gets promoted to the top position in all of Egypt.  And you can imagine Joseph saying at each turn, “Wow…I never saw that coming.”

What inspires us about the life of Joseph is that he seems to take all of it in stride.  He’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy.  Once he gets beyond being the favored son with the multi-colored coat and pampered lifestyle and sold into slavery, he grows up quickly and has to make some hard decisions.  One of those decisions is that no matter what comes he will be faithful to God.   He didn’t wait until he got placed in the middle of the tests.  He pre-determined that though he did not know what lay ahead, he would be faithful, and that made many of his other choices much more simple.  It also caused him a lot of trouble as well.

We see that his faithfulness is what caused him to rise in Potiphar’s house, but we forget it was also his faithfulness that landed him in prison.  We get that it was his faithfulness that helped him rise in the prison and interpret the dreams, but we forget that it was his faithfulness that helped him hang on for 2 more years after having been forgotten.  And we rejoice when we see his faithfulness rewarded by moving into the second in command of all of the land.  But he then had to face his own demons, when his brothers showed up to buy food. 

If it had been you or me in that position, I dare say it may have been much harder for us to let it go with just testing them to see if they were changed men.  We would have had an opportunity to at least turn the knife a little bit and maybe make them suffer just a bit more than Joseph did.  And the act of forgiveness could only come through being faithful to seeing God’s bigger picture for all of their lives.

What is the cure for the bad news blues?  It’s really about perspective.  Our human perspective would have us looking to our bad news and dwelling on it.  We study every angle of our bad news and we fixate on it and we ruminate and stew and look for solutions.  Our hearts are weighed down and our souls are downcast.  We can’t see beyond the bad news.  That’s our perspective. But there is another perspective that brings a much larger view of our circumstances.  Let’s go back to our good news, bad news motif.

Good News. God created a perfect world. Bad News. Satan introduced sin as well as sickness, pain and death. Good News. Jesus came to die and rescue us from sin and death. Bad News. We still have a sinful world address and see and feel the results of sin. Good News. Jesus will return in the clouds of heaven, take us home for eternity and end the bad news forever.

When we begin to view life from this perspective, we can truly be thankful.  Not for all of the bad news, but that because of the Good news, we aren’t doomed to a bad news life forever.  And that no matter what comes, God will take the bad news in our lives and use it to create good news.  Listen to the words of scripture and gain a new perspective.

Rom. 8:18-28              I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Rom. 8:22       We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?  25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Rom. 8:26       In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
Rom. 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.

Did you see any good news in there?  God wants you to be saved more than you want to be saved.  God sent Jesus to provide a mighty deliverance and He has sent the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness.  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.