Healing – Part One

Healing is Biblical. It is not a Formula

The first time I laid my hands on a person with a tumor it was so large it could be felt in the arm of the woman for whom I was praying. I had been a Christian for about three months. The pastor told me to lay hands on Michelle and I did as I was told and as we prayed it shrunk. I could feel it shrink in my hands. She was supposed to get her arm amputated that morning but she was healed and I felt it. She went to the hospital that morning and they marveled.  For the next eight years, during which our church was in a state of revival no one died of any prolonged illness but everyone was healed. One close friend was healed of metastatic ovarian cancer and later attended what was then known as Zion Bible Institute. The only man who died was a well beloved deacon who dropped dead two days after Christmas and shocked all of us. We just never got a chance to pray over Don.

So, in 1988, I went off to the mission field believing that healing was the norm. Our first week among the Kobon-people presented enough challenges to blow my theology out of the water. One woman hemorrhaged to death in my husband’s arms. Over the next four years we prayed for everyone. I’m not sure but at the time I thought they all died. I reached the point of saying, “Dear Lord, they are so sick maybe I better not touch ‘em”.

I had prayed full of faith and people died. That was not in my theology.

In the years that followed I struggled a lot with the issue of faith and healing and began to notice things I had not noticed before in scripture. Personally, I am partially paralyzed below my waist and am very much a “walking miracle”. In praying about my own situation the Lord reminded me of Jacob who wrestled with God and thanks to the Lord’s touch,  limped for the rest of his life. How many people would have dragged that poor man down for total healing to every altar call were he in a healing service?

I began to see that on some days Jesus healed everyone of everything. On other days Jesus didn’t heal everyone. He just picked someone and healed one person and the rest, well, He loved them but they were as sick before as after. (See John 5 for selective healing). For the first 30 years of His life there is no record he healed anyone and His own earthly father died in that time. How had Jesus prayed then?

I thought of the Apostle Paul who first evangelized the Galatians because he got sick in their area (Gal. 4:13) and of Elisha who was suffering from the illness that ended his life when he prophesied to Jehoash (II Kings 13:14) There are countless other instances of illness healed and illness not healed in the scripture. There simply is no formula.

What Do We Learn?

The good news is if you pray for some people and they are healed and you pray for others and they are not, you are having a very biblical experience. Welcome to the real world where God does things you do not expect. Keep praying, because that is what we are commanded to do.  If you are currently a “walking miracle machine” you’ve been saved a fairly short period of time. Be sensitive to the Spirit.  Eventually you see healing evangelists who have a real gift but continue to try and work beyond what the Lord has enabled them and finish a meeting with as many spiritual casualties as healings.

Secondly, scripture records highlights. Extraordinary moments between God and man. It is condensed information. If I wrote the highlights of my life in a hundred page volume it would sound like I lived from one amazing moment of glory to the next, with slight breaks for terrifying incidents which we survived only for more amazing things to come. Ask anyone who knows me well and they can tell you I’m fairly boring on a good day. “Non-episodes” are not recorded so we tend to think the highlights were the norm when they were, in fact, the highlights.

Thirdly, when I was once asking God, “Why?” regarding His timing and response to prayer, He replied back with a question of His own. “You want to worship a God whose character is infinite, limitless and eternal, all-knowing and unseen. Do do you really expect Him to answer all your prayer in accordance with your character which is finite, fallible and trapped in time?” Good question to which the answer is, “No, I do not.”

God is in the business of furthering His kingdom and healing is part of the plan. It is never an end in and of itself but there are many more questions we face.

Tomorrow: what makes a person truly healed?


When No One Shows Up

A youth pastor asked me this question recently so I want to encourage those of you who have poured a lot of time into an event and had only one or two people show up, that what looks like a flop to you, might look very different from an eternal perspective.

Several years ago my best friend and her husband decided to run an Alpha course in their neighborhood. They asked neighbors, cooked, prepared, and several neighbors promised to come.  On the first night exactly one woman showed up. With four of us present, only one of whom was a guest, my friends asked me, “What do we do now?” I suggested we carry on like it was the most normal thing in the world to have just four of us.

After four weeks of meeting, the woman told us she could no longer continue to come but wanted to know if she could purchase the DVDs. We were willing to give them to her in the hopes at least one person would be reached. She said she’d rather buy them because, “I’m Sikh and I share this with the community but there are too man of them to invite to your house”.  Somewhat stunned we asked her to clarify and she thought she would show them to her community center since it would have been presumptuos to bring several dozen people to the house.  Our “one” person “flop” was not what we thought.

In reality,  welll over 100 people were being exposed on a weekly basis to the content of Alpha because our faithful friends treated one person just as it she’d been a dozen. All the time they were unaware their faithfulness to one was multiplied a hunred fold or more. How totally human to see with our eyes and how totally like God to see a whole lot of people we could not.

Will there be nights when you are alone?  Perhaps.  If so, you have demonstrated to the heavenlies that you will be faithful to your God even if no one one else shows up. Will there be nights when one or two show?  Yes. Treat them like they are the most important people in the world. Don’t be ashamed of having a “flop”.  Perhaps what looked like a “flop” to you was the Lord proving to the unseen accusers that you will not give up, you will stay faithful, and you will trust God for results.

When no one shows up carry on like they had and remember the audience of One is the only audience that matters.  God is not big on wasting stuff, so don’t you worry. He’s got something in the works.  I am not a fan of Woody Allen but in this regard he was right.  He said the harest part of life was showing up.  Sometimes in ministry the hardest part is showing up and trusting that God has shown up as well.  All is well.

Processing That Summer Ministry Experience

This post is dedicated to those of you who think you already have, or still are processing your summer ministry experience. You will generally fall into one of these two categories:

  1. “Everything was amazing. It changed my life forever”. This reaction is normally spoken by those who got on airplanes and went to new and exotic places. Some worked very hard building things for two weeks, sweating profusely and being exposed in real life to sights, sounds, faces and souls that are a lot more heart-tugging up front and in person than they are on a video.  For those who took those trips I applaud you for going and remind you to please remember the following:  you took a two week trip.  You did not commit a lifetime to the foreign field, don’t really know what it is like, and all Americans are not spoiled hypocrites.  You are in the initial stages of processing an experience unlike any you had before so give it time to gain perspective. Be nice to your classmates and fellow church members when you get home. For those who spent an “entire summer” in (name that country) you are not experts on any place you lived in for just a couple of months.  You were probably caught tourist sights, had some ministry experiences, and got just enough exposure to fall in love with someplace.
  1. “It was a total waste of time and all I know is I never want to do that with my life. I might even crawl through glass before I spend another week in a cabin with 7th graders”. This reactions is typical of people who spent the summer doing things within the realm of their skill set, faithfully serving in settings with fairly predictable outcomes.  Nothing was spectacular except the level of aggravation pre-teens can arouse in an adult and the work got to be rather repetitious  “I never want to do that” can be said of many jobs.  I once spent a summer making shoe tongues (really, 40 hours a week, stamping out leather shoe tongues) and I can honestly say the high point was sharing the gospel with people at lunch.  The job itself was mind-numbing. Years later I learned that five people converted as a result lunch time conversations but at the time I thought God had me in the factory so I would have greater insight if I needed to write an essay on the hardships of working conditions around the time of the Industrial Revolution.

To those in group “a”, the dust will settle and while the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, you were entrusted with a great experience and now need to ask the Lord how to best use it for His glory. Other people are not called to live up to your experience, but you are, so if the Lord gave you that opportunity, He gave it to you to use wisely for His Name’s sake. Whether it is pray for the people with a certain need, support work in such a place, or return there yourself, treasure the experience. It will not be wasted.

To those in group b, you have had the tough and real experience of faithfully doing things that need to be done and are not personally thrilling. Good.  It’s part of growing up and growing up means learning there is a lot of value in things you do not enjoy.  As you get some distance you will see more of the bright spots, remember the kid at camp who dogged you and will one day pray he or she can find you again and thank you for what you have done to help them.  For those camp counselors and youth pastors you met who looked tired and burned out, the summer is a lot of work for camp leaders and youth pastors and they were tired. Cut them some slack and buy them a smoothie. They are not less genuine or less passionate. They might just be tired. But they are faithfully serving an age group that is notoriously time consuming, self-centered and thankless.  It is an interesting reality that if a group of 50 people banded together to save a life it would make national news.  Yet that scene is repeated over and over again in camps and VBS and summer programs across this nation, when college students, and youth workers spend themselves and the eternal lives of dozens are saved and as it was not observably dramatic the miracle of what occurred goes unnoticed. The fact remains that 80% of those who come to Christ do so before the age of 18, so before anyone bashes a youth pastor, show some respect. Those of you doing those jobs no one wants to do, are actually the “top harvesters” in the kingdom.

Fall is coming. Perhaps you graduated and are now beginning to really transition. Perhaps you are returning to school. If you graduated and don’t know what to do next, take a peek at my last blog. If you are going back to school, embrace what you learned this summer and keep growing and you will find that you eventually have a healthy perspective. The great part about having a fantastic experience is you realize this is not about you but something so much bigger.

The great part about having an uninspiring experience is you will understand it was not a waste because the experience wasn’t about you. You did those skits, sang those songs, and got covered in mud for some kid for whom that was the greatest week of his or her life. Life is not about you and your ride on an elephant or the camp staff who showed the same maturity as the campers.  It’s bigger than that and you all did the part you were given for these short weeks. Now be thankful: You all had a great summer.

What To Do When You Graduate

OK, the philosophical stuff is fine but what do we really do when we graduate?

First, all college graduates have the same problems transitioning to the work world. For everyone who said, “I have a useless degree from Bible College” please be reminded you are actually trained for a vocation. My first degree was in sociology and I was trained for nothing. You can actually apply for a job with your degree and it is remarkable how few look at the job postings on their own school’s website.  The postings are there.  Everyone has a time of transition and secular students do not get a free pass.

Our nephew attended a prestigious business school and graduated the year the economy crashed. He ended up as an elite firefighter and the joke on the fire line was, “What was your major?” Responses ranged from Engineering to Law.  A bachelor’s degree is always an asset and you do not need a second one to gain additional skills to tide you over while you transition. I went back to a community college and took some courses in accounting to improve our income situation and I landed a great job at a big company, while never wavering from our call to missions.  So be thankful for your degree.

You didn’t go to Bible College to get rich in the short term but because you are a longer-range investor. You have vision. You won’t settle for things that moth, dust and rust can ruin.  Since you have vision, use it. To transition, you will have to do some crazy wild things that are totally off the charts. You’ll actually have to do them for the rest of your life so start practicing.

Radical Step One: “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up”. Take a ministry position, even if it is not full time, or not paid, in addition to whatever else you need to do to meet your adult financial obligations. You have to start someplace and that place is usually lower than you hoped.

Your first job, unless daddy and mommy can arrange it for you, will be less than your dream job. (And if daddy and mommy can give you a great job right off the bat and do, they have zero judgement) No one in any field starts at the top. It’s counter-culture to our kingdom mentality where we imitate the Great Servant. As for your friends going off as missionary associates fairly soon after graduation, think twice before you get jealous. Firs they fund raise, which is a real job. Then they face that obstacle called “language learning” . Having recently started on Arabic I am sure that many unreached people are still unreached because learning their languages is like rocket science. You do not get to learn a language by inoculation. You actually have to work at it.

So, all you Jesus-loving servants out there: it’s OK to work in a church part time doing youth work, children’s work, or serving in some capacity that is not your full time dream job. You might not find little kids or youth are your passion but if you serve the Lord, He promised to raise you up. Take a job even if it is not “your thing”. It’s “His thing” and you claim you are all about Jesus so act like it. You might not think the soul of the 5, or 15 year old is quite the same as if you were speaking to the teeming masses but if you save someone from a nightmare life or an eternity of hopeless, it’s really OK if you had to dress up in that inane VBS costume. Worse things can happen. Ask a Christian in Iraq.

Radical Step Two: Trust God. The most terrifying issues for graduates are their loves lives and dealing with your debts. Most people are in debt when they graduate. I applaud every parent who has jumped hoops to enable their children to more quickly get to work by sacrificing so they are not in a ball and chain relationship with the government. However, debt is a reality for most people. Last week I met with a couple in ministry where something like 70% of his take home pay was set to go to loans. We spent a day working together and when all was said and done he got an adjustment where he now pays 1/3 of what he did before. Your payments are negotiable.

Your love life is not as negotiable but keep in mind: marriage is something you cannot “walk back”. We women are “made to complete” someone so we tend to get more anxious about this. Guys are normally still figuring out if their future wife is the right one long after the girl has feels sure. This means you are like 99.9% of other people on the planet. Guys often have to figure out their work then their love life. You can certainly think of exceptions but as a general rule of thumb, just get moving and trust God for the right person but don’t hang out waiting for things in the wrong order.

Radical Step Three: Keep your vision. Remember when your heart broke for victims of human trafficking? Or when you thought of people in places so isolated no one in this day and age had the guts, or gumption to walk into where they are and try to live among them? The vision might tarry but at the appointed time, it will come to pass. Don’t let debt, doubt, or circumstance cloud your vision. Don’t let your broken heart for the hurting be dulled by a wide screen TV at home. Nothing great happens overnight but it is during that waiting period when your endurance and vision is truly tested. Sadly a great many people compromise their way out of their destiny because they lack the patience to wait and keep their eye on the ball. Don’t invest in the world or the things of the world. The Love of the Father is not in them.

Lastly: Don’t forget who you are. No one is to look down on you for being young. You are a royal nation and a holy priesthood and every day you get up there are good works prepared beforehand in Christ Jesus for you to walk in them. Go find yours today and every day and you will soon discover that you did not get a useless degree. You were blessed with a foundation for the work to which God has called you. And for practical advice: develop a good sense of humor. There’s a lot of enjoyment on the journey.


How You Differ From Your Generational Peers

The first thing you need to get a clear grasp on is that you must be different from your peers.

This world requires “instant everything”. You have the vision to work and wait.

This world is easily discouraged by what is seen. You have longer range vision and live for the unseen.

This world lives for today. You live for “forever”.

The world is about “me”. You are about “Him” and “them”.

The world sees obstacles and problems. You see possibilities and opportunities.

The world schemes for how to live as safely as possible between birth and death as though good planning will make the inevitable fall into the box less painful. You are free from those worries because you are already dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. You are not afraid to take chances.

The world says, “Take what you can now because the door might not be open tomorrow”. You choose to “Give all I can now because the door might not be open tomorrow”.

The world lives by what it sees. You live by the Word of God, the Power of the Spirit and vision grounded in that which absolutely, positively will come to pass.

You were bought with a price, you are not your own. (I Cor. 6:24)  You are of all your generational peers, most free.  Don’t waste it.

“The 42%- Part 2: We Know We Believe


“There is no other name given to mankind by which they might be saved”.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”..

“No man putting his hand to the plow and turning back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

“You were bought with a price and are not your own”.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth for you are dead and your lives are hid with Christ in God”.

“They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth…….. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.”

Beautiful encouraging words! We believe:

All those words are true.  We believe, we are people for whom the greatest ransom in history was paid. We believe we are inheriting a glorious incorruptible kingdom. We know, for just a fraction of eternity, our eternal, perfect, forever-lives are hidden with Christ in God and we know we have just a small window of time called ‘life’ to share this great salvation with others.

We believe the response to redemption is self-evident. Compelled by powerful love that pursued us to salvation, we are incapable of ignoring the plight of billions trapped in isolation and hopelessness.  We know the uselessness of investing our lives in that which is eternally insignificant.  We believe Jesus is returning and we know this visible world is nothing more than a blink of the eye.  We believe and see with glorious anticipation that incredible city whose builder and maker is God.  We know that we have been tasked with loving others as sacrificially as we have been loved so we long to put our hands to the plow and stay on task.  We know no better expression of gratitude to our Savior, than to accept His invitation to discipleship and we rejoice in the privilege of being called.

In my heart I am troubled by something I don’t know:

In light of what we believe,  why are 42% unreached?

We know we believe, don’t we?

The 42% – Part One: Delusion

Who are the “42%”.

Forty-two percent of the people on this planet have not heard the Name of Jesus. That means they have no reason to hope and no chance to be sure of eternal life. Given that most of them live in very harsh conditions they face a reasonably miserable temporal existence with no hope of ever-lasting life. It simply can never get better.

Relieving the plight of the 42% would be easy if we understood the word “go” is a verb which requires movement. People feel called to “raise awareness” and wear rubber arm bands which alleviates guilt and makes the wearer feel satisfied. The plight of the lost remains unchanged. Why?

Why the Lost Remain Lost

The plight of the 42% has many causes. One cause is the convenience of self-delusion.

When I was a new Christian, I heard preachers say that with “radio and TV beaming the gospel to the ends of the earth, the great commission has been fulfilled”. In 1988 I moved to the ends of the earth and life looked nothing at all like it sounded when the televangelist spoke. One night I saw an older woman silhouetted against the setting sun. She held 40 pounds of food and firewood on her head and turned to walk another hour home. It struck me that it made no difference to her that she was surrounded by unseen radio waves. They were beaming words of hope she desperately needed to hear, in a language she did not understand, to a radio she did not own. Those who believed the gospel had gone to the ends of the earth desired to reach the four corners of the globe from the comfort of home. The people who inhabit the four corners of the earth require a messenger with flesh and blood to come and be with them and speak a language they can understand. They need the gospel presented to them, the same way it was presented to us. The Son of God had to leave His throne in heaven to live among humans and speak our language and share His life with ours. Any message can be sent by radio. The gospel message can only be lived out in person. To believe the 42% who have not heard can be reached without the same leaving and living and sacrifice that was required of the Son of God, is nothing more than self-delusion.

Technology Marginalizes Those in Need

With the explosion of technology has come the false impression that the world is a “global village”. If you had enough to eat today, have secure housing, indoor plumbing, and constant power, you are not living in the same village as 42% of the world’s population.  It is a great inconvenience to us that most of the 42% live in inconvenient places. They are off the grid, live simply and their lives focus on survival. Travel is difficult. Supplies are short. Sacrifice is required. One of the reasons the 42% are unreached is it requires sacrifice to reach them. We cannot rely solely on the methods we would most readily like to employ. There is no technology available that makes them easier to reach with the gospel. The gospel is a relational message and it requires physical presence among those who need to hear. Technology is a tool but it must travel with real people to dark places if it is to bring light. This is a message that must travel with a human messenger or it is not the gospel. The gospel is the story of Love Incarnate. It still requires flesh and blood to bring the message. There is no shortcut. There is a only a lack of courage and self-sacrifice to live a life without shortcuts.

Technology is part of the age in which we live. God will bless and use it as He has the tools of every other age if it is used in keeping with the pattern and commandment He gave us. The commandment He gave us was, “Go”.

Pack your computer, your camera and your phone. Bring a paperback copy of scripture for those nights by camp fires. Pack up your knowledge, faith and love. Love cannot be broadcast. It must be lived out side by side with those for whom He died. He did it for us. Do they deserve less?

The Silver Rules – Part Two

We covered the Silver Rule number one: Never confuse God and life. Today we move to Silver Rule number two: Never Confuse Christ and Christians.

Jesus came to save selfish, inconsiderate, self-centered, self-righteous, arrogant, disrespectful, intolerant, immoral, critical, short-tempered people. In other words: He came to save people just like me and you. The very first thing we are admitting as a Christian is, “I am hopelessly lost and I cannot save myself”. The reason Christians get so upset with other Christians is that that these self-professed sinners, sin. For some reason, this takes us by surprise.

I genuinely believe that there is nothing Christians cannot settle between them if they will pray about it, seek to forgive, and be honest with themselves and God. I’ve seen the Lord restore seemingly impossible situations. That’s what Christianity looks like when everyone obeys the scriptures.

Unfortunately for many years I was naïve enough to believe that every sincere believer facing a crisis defaulted to obeying scripture. People have a lot of defaults but “to the scripture” is not necessarily one of them. A decade ago my world was rocked when I became aware of a situation that any person of conscience, regardless of creed or lack thereof, would have had to address. In a healthy situation I would have been thanked but the situation was not healthy and all and my naiveté got blown out of the water.

The result was pain and confusion about God. How could He let evil triumph in His body? I expected Jesus to step in and shine a flood light on the situation bringing truth to light and healing everyone involved. I somehow thought it would all end in something akin to a group hug, which it did not.

Why God Doesn’t Step In

We lost a great deal in terms of time, health, material possession and more. It was terrible for my family and that was so painful. But the greatest torment for me was God’s apparent inaction. I was really tormented by the question, “Jesus, why didn’t You show up and turn on the floodlights?”

I would best paraphrase His answer: “I gave them floodlights. They wouldn’t turn them on”. God’s view of the situation was available in black and white, written down for the forgetful and totally accessible for anyone who genuinely cared to follow the scriptures. Adherence to the scriptures would have saved us and many others a great deal of pain. I had made the mistake of thinking He was silent when He was not. He anticipated the situation and His solution was very obvious. Jesus was always “for us” and never “against us”.

It is not uncommon for people to leave churches altogether because they make the mistake of faulting Christ for the actions of sinful people for whom He died. When we do that, we sin against God. We blame Christ for everything, even as He weeps with us. Whatever situation might cause you to want to avoid Christians, rest assured God has not been silent on your plight. He has always spoken the truth.

The Mystery of the Unseen

We are people engaged in spiritual battle. It involves the world of the seen and the unseen but we can only explain human interaction it in terms of what we see. We see people. We do not see the spiritual forces trying to harm them as well as us. The enemy’s goal is not just to destroy me, it’s to destroy the people with whom I am in conflict as well. Satan is the accuser of the brethren and he does not need my help. I am not saying that to justify sin. The reality is that people do dumb things with no malevolence in their heart at all. They simply don’t think things through scripturally. They are never my enemy.

Take the Long View

We tend to be more hurt by Christians than by non-believers because we expect more of those who seek to follow Christ. The world is totally brutal so when business partners seek to devour each other we are not as shocked. With Christians we expect reconciliation. For quite some time following the incident described above, I kept believing I could talk it out with people. I don’t do that anymore unless they approach me. As long as a bad experience is defining, it still has power, so let it go. Most things can be worked out this side of eternity. Some cannot. I have finally realized, “We are eternal people. I can wait”.

The Only Way to Give Back

Jesus, never, left you nor condoned the wrong done. Don’t confuse Christ and Christians. He gives grace and we all need grace. One day as I battled my warring emotions He reminded me that the only chance I have to give Him grace is when I give grace to another person for whom He died. They don’t know they need it and they aren’t asking for it but I can show them unmerited favor. It is the only chance I have to give back to my Savoir what He gave to me.

Don’t confuse Christ and Christians and you’ll save yourself a world of hurt. Just don’t withhold from others the gift He freely gives you. It really sets you free.

The Silver Rules – Part One

In starting this blog there’s a couple of things I need to get out of way so those of you who know me well can turn off because you’ve heard me say these things before. For others, let me say these are two of the most important things I learned that are not overtly stated in the Bible, but truths that are absolutely scriptural.

We all know the Golden Rule. I have two “Silver Rules” that keep me sane. I wish I learned these before I set out in ministry. The rules are simple:

  1. Do not confuse God and life.
  2. Do not confuse Christ and Christians.

I could have saved myself a heap of heart ache and confusion if I had gotten a handle on those truths many years ago. Today I will just tackle silver rule number one.

Never Confuse God and Life

More Christians think the Lord is unkind and has singled them out for special treatment because they miss this truth. God is God and life is life. When Jesus said He is “The Life”, He did not mean He is the author of the day to day insanity that takes place on this fallen planet. He did not put your family on food stamps, decide to downsize the workforce at the plant, give you cancer, or promote terrorism. He did not cause the unbelieving next door neighbor to enjoy great health while you struggle to stay ahead of the doctor’s bills. Life in a fallen world is random, unfair and unkind. It looks absolutely nothing like our God.

God is everything life is not. He is more than fair, He is gracious. He is not random but equally compassionate to all. He is not unkind but so full of mercy that when we could not save ourselves He chose to step in and do it for us. He came to this mess we call “life”, to show us that “The Life” looks nothing like this pathetic flurry of activity that fills our day. He willingly subjected Himself to the harshness of the fallen world, to the point of death at Calvary. For six hours He willingly chose to hang on the cross when He had the power to “opt out” any time He chose. That’s pretty astonishing. That’s real love.

Suffice to say, everything that is true of “life’ is not true of God.

Why People Get Confused

We’ve all heard pithy sayings intended to encourage us when life is hard. “God never gives you more than you can handle”. People mean well but that’s a ridiculous statement. There’s a host of things I can’t handle but God will never abandon me so there’s nothing life can do to me that He can’t handle. Yet millions of people recite that phrase like it was true and conclude that God is either a very poor judge of character, or He’s not very nice.

There are Christian songs that suggest that God sends devastating circumstances to teach us something. While it is true we can learn of God’s faithfulness and love in tough times, the idea that He singled us out for special treatment would suggest that American Christians have less to learn than our brothers and sisters who suffer for their faith elsewhere. Do we really believe that persecuted Christians need to learn more about Jesus than the rest of us? Of course not. But that is the logical conclusion if every harsh thing that happens occurs so God can teach us something new. I’ve read my Bible and every hard thing does not come from above. It actually comes from being on a sinful planet and if I never sinned I could put in a complaint. I haven’t got that luxury.

Never Forget Silver Rule Number One

It is guaranteed that difficult things will happen in life. Christians who mistakenly believe the Lord is the Machiavellian hand behind every circumstance will live with a great deal of tension in their relationship with God. Every hardship will seem a personal attempt to improve their overall character and they will constantly be hoping they are “good enough” to avoid the next “test”.

The truth is simpler: every hard thing in life shows us the cost of sin and should cause us to fall “out of love” with the world. At the same time, knowing that the Lord who loves you and redeems you and is nothing at all like this temporary mess we call “life” will cause you to invest your treasure where life cannot spoil or ruin it. This edition of “life” will ultimately kill you. The Lord of Life will ultimately save you. He is the strong shelter you can run to in a time of need.

Hang on to that first silver rule and share it with others: Never Confuse God and Life.

You’re the World Changer’s

I am seated in a mid-morning chapel and the speaker begins with the question, “How many world changers do we have in the house this morning?” Deep in my heart I have an overwhelming desire to jump up and shout, “Just One. His Name is Jesus”. Jumping and shouting in chapel is not my style, so I conclude it is best if I don’t publicly answer what was clearly meant to be a rhetorical question.

The question troubles me because of the expectations it creates. There is no doubt the world needs to be changed. There is no question I need a new rule in the kingdom of my thoughts. Can the world be changed? Yes, it can. Can God use flawed people like me and you to change the world? Yes, He can. Am I a “World Changer”? No, I’m not. The difference between “World Changers” and “World Changer’s” is more than spelling, it is theologically significant.

Most Bible College students are young, full of passion, love for Jesus and the conviction that they and God can do anything. The first three attributes are wonderful and the last one will leave them disillusioned and disappointed. I entered the ministry believing that the history of the church was the history of extraordinary men and women of great faith who went out and gave their all for God. I believed God had called World Changers to do His Will. For the length of time that I lived within the realm of my natural gifting, I trusted the Lord, but my illusion remained intact.

Then I moved to the jungle. Four years later, I understood that the history of church is the history of ordinary men and women, who have been given an extraordinary faith that saves, justifies and makes them holy, who go out and live their lives with the God who has given His all for them.

That is good news and bad news. The good news is: there are no extraordinary people. The bad news is: there are no extraordinary people. If there are no extraordinary people then there’s no excuse from being used to do extraordinary things. You are destined for an extraordinary life, because the life you now live in this mortal body, you live by faith in the One who loved you and gave Himself for you.

It all depends on Jesus. The limits are removed. Given the choice between being one of the World Changers and one of the World Changer’s, I’ll go with option number two every time.