Jesus Didn’t Come to Make You Happy

I’ve recently been dealing with the mental illness of a loved one, it’s sapped my strength with sleepless nights and chaotic days. I’m no stranger to trials, I’ve had times in my life where I was in the very center of God’s will and WAS NOT HAPPY. You see happiness, in a very real sense, depends on circumstances. Not necessarily something as trite as “possessions” but deeper circumstances… health, work satisfaction, relationships etc…

 

This has led me to believe that there are a certain amount of fabrications being sold as, or to, Christianity. There are scores of believers that falsely believe they are out of God’s perfect will because they’re having a hard time, or aren’t happy. Or successful. Or healed. Or, or, or…

Whatever this gospel is presented as, be it the promise of prosperity, or emotional health, or even physical health, this isn’t the Gospel. It isn’t Christianity. It certainly isn’t what Jesus promised…

Now can we find happiness and peace in Christ and following him? Yeah, we can. But that has as much to do with our perspective and willingness to wait as it does with his promises. We are given HOPE. A future reality based on a present certainty.

There are those that speak of peace on earth, as if it’s a present reality… tell us, oh American Christian, how much peace are those Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq enjoying? We have westernized Christianity to the point where it has lost its point. It isn’t about present peace and prosperity. They mistake the PEACE in Christ to be PEACE in circumstances; the prosperity of the resurrection as present prosperity.

Just last night I read a post on the “What does the Bible Say” wall declaring an ill child well in the name of Jesus. “I declare him healed in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.” Such foolishness, as if Jesus was at our beck and call and was nothing more than a big Santa Claus… well he isn’t and that child died. How does this build the faith of those poor parents?

No the sad reality is that people get sick and die. People loose their jobs and go bankrupt. Cars breakdown, people breakdown. Consider John the Baptist. Here is a man that Jesus said was full of the Holy Spirit. A man that stood tall among men. The forerunner of the Messiah. A man that stood toe to toe with the Pharisees, telling them to bring back works to prove their repentance. Here is the man on the banks of the Jordan River, who stood boldly pointing toward Jesus and declaring with conviction “BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD!” This John was later imprisoned for speaking out against corruption in the leadership of the kingdom. The man that multitudes followed, the man that preached with boldness, the man that baptized Jesus, the man, who in a wonderful fit of humility, declared himself to be unworthy to lace the Lord’s sandals, (teaching his disciples the valuable lesson that He must increase and I must decrease) this man, rotting in a cold cell in the palace began to doubt. He was allowed visitors and asked them to go to Jesus and ask Him if He was “the one” or if they should look for another… What?!? Did Jesus rebuke him for his doubt? Did he cut him down when he was at his lowest? What did Jesus do? He told the men to go back and confirm his faith by witnessing to the miracles He had been doing. Go, go tell John, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear! In other words, rest easy John, you were right.

However take note of something… Jesus didn’t suit up His apostles in combat gear, there were no night vision goggles, no clandestine plans of a daring rescue. No. None of these things. John the Baptist was beheaded in prison at the request of a manipulative girl and her evil mother! Jesus didn’t break in, didn’t rescue him. But when John did die, he entered a better state, a better place. He entered into his rest.

So NO Jesus didn’t come to make you happy.

So why did Jesus come? What is it all about? It’s about Jesus being born to die a cruel death, NOT BECAUSE God is evil, and hates sin, but because HIS creation embraced darkness rather than light… Jesus came to save His creation from her sin. He came to offer us a second chance. He came to offer us HOPE.

Jesus came to SAVE His creation FROM themselves FOR Himself.

John 16:31–33; 17:1–5(NKJV)
31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that IN ME you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 1Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, THAT THEY MAY KNOW YOU, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

So at the end of the day, is there happiness in Knowing Jesus? In knowing God? Is there peace in Knowing Jesus? It all depends on your willingness to open your heart and allow God to redirect your focus toward Him… to yield to His presence, to give over your circumstances and to say, no matter what, Jesus is my savior and worthy of my worship; come hell or high water. Set your affections on things above, look unto Jesus the author and finisher of your faith, don’t be weary in doing well, be firm, steadfast, in your faith, KNOWING your labor is NOT in vain in the Lord… Keep on going, HE is WORTH it, all of it, whether there be happiness in circumstances or not.

Perhaps one of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in Daniel..
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel‬ ‭3‬:‭16-18‬ NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

 



Those Crazy Pastors’ Kids

20130629_160253Thom Rainer, the research extraordinaire for Lifeway Research, recently posted an article about pastors’ kids and I thought I would share it here. Before I share the article, I would like to add my thoughts. When I was a youth pastor, we used to go to a summer camp; at that camp was a pastor and wife that every year would lament the life their poor kids had to live. They elevated their children’s suffering as pastors children to an unhealthy level. Much was made about the horror of being a pastors’ kid. I really think that these people added to the burden of their children. That is not my aim. There are many things that this article calls to our attention, and we certainly want to consider whether or not we are being a blessing to our pastors’ kids (and all kids for that matter), or whether or not our behaviors towards them will contribute to their walking away from the church and the Lord.

As dad and a husband, I don’t consider my children to be pastor’s kids or my wife to be a pastor’s wife. I consider them to be Christian kids, and a Christian lady, at least that is my aim for my family.

For me, I have said and will say until I die and will counsel young pastors with this statement… “I will never sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry”. Truth to tell though, it’s a hard lesson to learn when you are in the thick of it and when there are so very many hurting believers and unbelievers that clamor for your attention. My wife knows that should it ever come down to her or the ministry I have already chosen her. With all of this said, hit up the link at the end for the rest of the article…

It was not the response to a blog post I expected. Back in June of 2013, I wrote a post speaking on behalf of pastors for their kids. I summarized seven major things pastors wanted you to know about their children. The article had a big response when it was first posted. But, for reasons I have not completely fathomed, the post went viral a few weeks ago. Now almost 200,000 views and hundreds of comments later, we can see a pretty clear picture.

You see, the majority of those who responded were pastors’ kids. So, instead of hearing from pastors about their children, we heard directly from the children themselves. Some were teenagers still living with their parents. Others were adults who grew up as PKs. All of them had pretty strong opinions.

As I read again through the plethora of comments, I developed seven major themes from these PKs. Not all of their comments were negative, but a majority did communicate some level of pain. Here is what they said:

  1. The glass house is a reality. People are always looking at the PKs. They have trouble saying or doing anything without someone, usually a church member, making a comment. Most of these PKs (and former PKs) felt a great deal of discomfort living in the glass house. Some even expressed bitterness.
  2. Some church members made a positive and lasting impression on PKs. One of the more frequent positive comments we heard were about the church members who loved and cared for the PKs. Many of them took the children under the wings and made a positive difference in their lives.
  3. Some church members were jerks to the PKs. Many of the stories are heartbreaking. It is really hard to imagine some of the awful words that were said to the PKs. Some still feel the sting of those words decades later.
  4. Many PKs resent the interrupted meals and vacations. They felt like their pastor parent put the church before the family. One PK, now an adult, lamented that every vacation his family took was interrupted; and many times the vacation was truncated.
  5. Some of the PKs have very… http://thomrainer.com/2014/01/08/seven-things-we-learned-from-pastors-kids/


Welcome!



A Well for the Wounded

A Well for the Wounded

Over the last several years the Lord has led my wife Trisha and I to lead our churches (Lighthouse Baptist and Emmanuel) to become refuges for the wounded.  For those that are hurting from their own failings or for those that have been hurt by the failings of others we offer relief.  For those thirsting for forgiveness we offer the well for the wounded; Christ Himself.  In John 4 we see a beautiful moment with the savior and a lost sinner.  The savior gently prods the wound of the woman… He sees into her heart and past the bitterness that has enveloped her.  He looks past her attempt at religion and cuts away the infection.  In this conversation we learn that the woman was a sexually promiscuous person, with five partners.  This only matters to Jesus because without her acknowledgment of her sin, He couldn’t heal her hurting heart.  As she listens to Him she begins to see something is very different about Him.  Instead of turning back to the muddied waters of the well of the wickedness, Jesus offers her a drink from the crystal clear waters of the well of wonder.  HE OFFERS HER HOPE.  HEALING.  HELP.  He doesn’t condemn her, she already knows the loss and pain that she has heaped upon herself.  HE RELIEVES HER OF IT.

This is my dream for Emmanuel, that we would become like our savior, pointing the wounded to the wonder at the well.

My heart aches over how much hurt there is in the world today.  I am especially brokenhearted for those that sought help from religion or a church and instead found more wounds.  I admit to anger toward those churches that have raised up a generation that despises ‘religion’ and ‘church’ because of the hard lines and hard hearts their leaders have taken.  Churches that have followed man-made rules and seemed to have forgotten the mercy and grace of God.

Too many of us so called Christians have lost the compassion that Jesus has for the hurting among us.  We have lost sight of the heart of God and have focused on the Law of looks instead.  So many of us have lost the meaning of what it means to walk a mile in another man’s shoes.  We have become judgmental and have begun to use our own standards by which to judge one another.

This is so sad, because although the church has authority and needs to be careful to maintain purity and such, we forget that we need to to teach and train and heal.  We need to remember that Jesus’ death on the Cross was sufficient for all that will come unto him.  It is His blood that cleanses from sin and not our own blood.  It is Christ that paid for our sins and not we ourselves.

So if you are looking for a church of regular people with an amazing God you have found the right place, come on out and drink from the well.



And The People All Said AMEN

 Deuteronomy 27:11

“And Moses charged the people the same day, saying, These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice,Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen. Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen. Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen. Cursed behe that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen. Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.Cursed be he that lieth with his father’s wife; because he uncovereth his father’s skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen. Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen.Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen. Cursed behe that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen.Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen. Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen. Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

In this passage of Scripture the amazing thing to read is the phrase “And all the people shall say, AMEN!”  Let me lay the scene out for you.  There are two mountains and between these mountains is a valley, the Valley of Schechem.

One the one side of the valley half of the tribes of Israel (don’t think Indian tribes it won’t help) and on the other, stood the rest.  Very likely the priest stood in the valley with the Ark of the Covenant.  What followed reminds me of the the time I went to Foxboro and Gillette Stadium for opening day on Monday Night Football.  There the tribe of Levi would shout “Cursed be he…” Now imagine that you know what over twenty thousand men shouting must sound like.  I can tell you that 70,000 people are loud.  That is important to understand the impact of the the following.  20,000 yell “cursed be!” and following the pronouncement of consequences of disobedience to these commandments, the Bible tells us that the people said AMEN.  This actually happened and is recounted in Joshua 8:33.  The half on one side and the half on the other, estimated to be over one million people in number responded to the WORD of God with a resounding AMEN!!!  When I was in Foxboro, the very platform we were on was shaking with sound of the crow, imagine what this must have been like…

What is poignant about this story is that so many (I know I often do) want to avoid the consequences of our actions.  We want God to turn the other way and we want to just live as if we don’t believe that HE is there.  We want to believe and we do believe that HE cares when you do right, or when you are in trouble, or when your heart is breaking, He is there in these fiery times to be sure… but He also beholds the evil and we should say AMEN.  We should want the Lord to correct us, the Psalmist cries out for the Spirit of God to search him and to reveal to him his sin so that he can make things right.  We should be so honest!
AMEN!