Lonely People – 6 Causes of Loneliness

Why do so many people feel lonely? In the words of The Beatles, “All the lonely people, Where do they all come from? Where do they all belong?”

If you feel alone even when you’re surrounded by people, I hope this article helps you. It did me. And if you need a friend, contact me.

Warren Wiersbe wrote a short booklet, Lonely People. He uncovered 6 Bible characters who reveal six causes of loneliness and One who gives you the cure.

1. Cain: The Loneliness of Sin

Cain killed Abel our of jealousy. But he also killed himself… not literally. But he brought on himself a life of loneliness and wandering. The tragedy of Cain’s life is that in one sinful act he blocked all human and divine relationships that make life worth living. He could have asked for forgiveness. But he didn’t. He chose to remain in his self-made prison of loneliness.

2. Job: The Loneliness of Suffering

Except for Jesus, no one in the Bible suffered as much as Job did. In one day, Job lost all his wealth and all ten of his children. Then he lost his health, the love of his wife, and the compassion of his friends. But he never lost his faith in God even in the loneliness of his suffering. It is easy to lose perspective on life when we hurt. We focus on ourselves, not others. We look only at the present pain not the hopeful future. We start questioning our faith. We worry and fear. Suffering often results in a feeling of loneliness.

3. Moses: The Loneliness of Service

Leadership creates loneliness. There’s an old saying, “It’s lonely at the top.” People in leadership have to see further and deeper than other people. People in leadership are often targets of criticism. Moses felt the loneliness of leadership. He had the care of all the children of Israel. It took Moses one night to get the Jews out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of the Jews. They constantly complained about his leadership. Many times he felt lonely.

4. Elijah: The Loneliness of Self-Pity

Elijah was a great man of God who performed many miraculous works. After calling fire down from Heaven, he ended up running away in fear through the desert. He was discouraged, depressed and alone. Often, depression is a result of loneliness, the kind of loneliness that feeds on self-pity. Elijah got his eyes off God and on to himself and felt himself worthless. His self-pity fueled his loneliness.

5. Mary & Martha: The Loneliness of Sorrow

When a loved one dies, it feels like a part of you has been cut off. Mary and Martha had a brother who died. Though they knew they would see him again, their heart still hurt. A great deal of weeping is recorded at his funeral. Even ‘Jesus wept.’ It is not wrong for Christians to sorrow. Often our sorrow will introduce us to times of loneliness as we grieve the loss of a loved one.

6. The Older Brother: The Loneliness of Stubbornness

The story of the Prodigal Son is one of forgiveness and rejoicing. A runaway boy has returned to his father and a ‘Welcome Home’ party begins. However, his older brother stays out in the field, alone, angry because he was not getting his way. He was angry and would not forgive his younger brother and enjoy the party. Even today many people live lives of loneliness because they carry a grudge or are angry at somebody for something that happened years ago. Of all problems, family problems are the worst. Heartache, sorrow, and loneliness are often caused by our own stubborn will.

Jesus is the Answer to Loneliness

Let’s take each of these lonely people and see what Jesus would give them (and you)…

Are you lonely because of sin like CainJesus can forgive you.

Are you lonely because of suffering like JobJesus is in control.

Are you lonely because of service like Moses? Jesus wants to share your burden.

Are you lonely because of self-pity like ElijahServe Jesus rather than yourself.

Are you lonely because of sorrow like Mary & MarthaJesus has conquered death.

Are you lonely because of stubbornness like the Older BrotherForgive as Jesus has forgiven you.

Don’t be lonely today. Let Jesus change your life.

The Cost to Follow Jesus

A lot of people say they are a Christian – a follower of Jesus. I don’t want to judge by appearance, but many talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Ghandi was once asked by a friend, “If you admire Christ so much, why don’t you become a Christian?” He replied, “When I meet a Christian who is a follower of Christ, I may consider it.”

Following Jesus is not just a one time decision, it is a redirection of an entire life.

Then he [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ -Mark 8:34

Jesus was a lot more honest than most modern preachers. He fully explained the cost of being one of His followers. And what He expected of His followers, He displayed openly.

So what does it mean to follow Jesus? What is the cost?

1. A Denial you must Practice – Deny Self

To deny self means to say ‘No” to ourself. It means we can no longer be the center of our lives. It strikes right at the heart of our very existence. The one thing that we value, covet, & protect above anything else is the right to make decisions for ourselves. We are the “ME” generation. We take ‘selfies.’

But self-denial is not easy. We all have things we want. But Christ is clear that when we choose to follow Him, we must deny ourselves. That means you can’t always do what you want to do. This means that you will face tough, life-changing decisions that need to be made. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be deprived of joy and happiness; rather it means that you find fulfillment & joy & happiness through following Jesus. Denial of self is placing yourself in the hands of God at all times, no matter where His hands might lead you.

2. A Death you must Permit – Carry Cross

When Jesus said, “Take up your cross” the cross wasn’t a beloved symbol like it is today. It was big, ugly device of torture that conveyed a message of shame, suffering, & death.

When facing difficult circumstance, people often say, “I guess that’s a cross I have to bear.” They’re speaking about situations that, given the choice, they wouldn’t choose. When we suffer from sickness, disease, & discouragement it’s a horrible misfortune, but it’s not bearing a cross.

Bearing our cross is a choice. It is a voluntary sacrificial obedience that identifies us completely with Jesus. Bearing our cross is something we deliberately take up and bear. Many rather wear a cross than bear a cross.

Are you a committed or casual follower of Jesus? Committed followers are cross-bearers; casual followers seek an easier way. Committed followers seek holiness; casual followers seek happiness. Committed followers seek to please God in all they do; casual followers live as close to the edge as they can.

3. A Direction you must Pursue – Follow Jesus

We were created to follow. We will all follow something or someone. Christ calls us to follow Him. Not some creed, ritual, or custom; but follow Him wherever He leads us.

Following Christ is a relationship that drives & defines all we are to do. It would be dull & boring if it were nothing but rules to keep & duties to maintain. Like marriage, we don’t find joy in the institution of marriage. What would motivate me to change diapers, help clean up, endure crowded aisles in a grocery store, or to be faithful? It is a relationship!

If your Christianity is dull & boring, if it’s a burden & not a blessing, then most likely your involved in a project, not a Person; a system, not a Savior; rules, rather that a relationship.

Why would I choose to follow Jesus if it means self-denial and bearing a cross? I’ll answer it in one statement: Because He did it for me. Jesus denied His own rights; He died an agonizing death on the cross; and the direction He followed was His Father’s will.

Will you decide to follow Jesus?

3 Responses to Same-Sex Marriage

The Supreme Court will rule on same-sex marriages any day (maybe even before you read this). Our local courts are preparing for Michigan’s ban to be overturned (See Lenawee Preparing to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses).

My hope and prayer is that our Supreme Court will uphold the right for each state to decide this issue for their own citizens. Michigan, and many other states, have already decided against same-sex marriages. In 2004, Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment, Michigan Proposal 04-2, that banned same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state. It passed with 58.6% of the vote.

It really bothers me that a majority of citizens can define that marriage is a man and a woman, place it in the state constitution, but judges can overturn that vote. Some may argue that ‘it doesn’t matter how the majority votes – if an amendment is wrong, it should be eliminated.’ I agree. But my issue is ‘who’ decides if an amendment, law, or practice is wrong?

The majority has often been wrong. For example, Jewish leaders ‘voted’ not to enter the Promised Land under Moses and that resulted in 40 years of wandering. Judges are not without mistakes. In 1857 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the ‘Dred Scott case’ that African Americans were not U.S. citizens and had no right to sue in federal court.

So who decides right and wrong?

I believe an all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal God is capable and has already written a code of ethics. The Bible not only gives principles to live by but commands to obey. These are not restrictions to imprison us but barriers to protect us. The Bible specifically calls homosexual behavior sin (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:9-11).

So what does a Christian do if the U.S. Supreme Court decides that same-sex marriage is okay? I think it is important to respond with three attitudes.

1. Stand.

I think the sexual/gender issues of our day are going to be crucial to the future of Christianity. Jesus warned us that following Him would not be easy. And we are going to feel the pressure to accept modern society’s norms. The LGBT community has embraced their fight as an extension of the civil rights movement. To stand against this sin is not going to be popular and may even be dangerous. But we are called to stand for truth.

I am reminded of three Hebrew boys who were pressured to bow to a king’s idol in Babylon. Their response is one of wisdom and courage: “…we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from your majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18).

Each of us will need to determine how aggressive we will stand. But it is imperative that we determine to stand.

2. Love.

One of the attitudes that many cannot grasp is how you can believe an action is wrong but still love the people who commit those wrongs. Only God can give you a love like that because that’s the kind of love He give us. It’s the kind of love the families of the murdered church members of Emanuel AME Church extended to Dylann Roof when they forgave him. It’s the kind of love that Jesus extended to those who were in the act of nailing Him to a cross by saying “Father, forgive them.” I am not equating these horrific sins with homosexuality. I am simply reminding you that Christians are to be known for love, not hate.

We must be careful to reprove the practice and not the people. Those who are participants in the LGBT society are not to be feared, ridiculed, or hated. The church should be a haven of forgiveness and healing for anyone repentant without compromising its stance against sinful behavior.

3. Pray.

I think most of the problems of society is not a result of those who do not believe in God. We can blame bad stuff on all kinds of ‘bad’ people. But lack of prayer from Christians is a primary cause. So, pray!

Pray for our country, especially our leaders. If we would pray for our President and other government leaders (no matter who he/she is) as much as we criticize, maybe we wouldn’t have as much to criticize.

Pray for those who are involved in sin. It is not God’s will that anyone should be bound by sin. His grace is sufficient to bring victory to those who are wiling to submit to Him. If you know someone who is involved in this lifestyle, commit them to God in faith.

Pray for yourself. Ask God to give you the grace to love those who see this issue different that you do. If you are not tempted in this area, realize that you have your own sins to deal with. It is easy to overlook our sins while remaining outraged at others. We must not participate in sin or condone it in any way. We cannot be selective about what we condemn or excuse.

How will you respond to this highly explosive issue?

You can read some of my other posts on this topic: Trying to Find Balance in the Homosexual Issue, Phil Robertson Stands Up For Truth, 5 Reasons Why The Bible Is True.

One Answer to Racial Tension – Amazing Grace

Racial tension is extremely high. America is in turmoil when it comes to trying to solve this social problem. I’ve always been taught that when I face an enflamed relationship, I carry two buckets. One is filled with water; the other with gasoline. It appears that many politicians and most media outlets are using the gasoline on this situation. But what can put out the racial fires of our time? Try Jesus and His Gospel!

When you look through our history, you will find that those who created the greatest impact to ease the tension of slavery, desegregation and civil rights have one thing in common – faith in Christ. Harriet Tubman was a strong Christian who rescued many slaves through the Underground Railroad. Others include Martin Luther King, Jr., Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas, and Abraham Lincoln.

Recently I read Out of the Depths, the autobiography of John Newton, the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace.” What most do not know is that John Newton was the captain of a slave ship before he became a Christian. Though he had some early religious instruction, it was not until he was in a violent storm that he cried out “Lord have mercy on us.” Later he reflected on what he said, and realized that God’s grace had begun to work in his life. He continued in the slave trade for a time but saw they were treated humanely. He soon surrendered to preach the Gospel and regretted his involvement in the slave trade. He wrote extensively against slavery and became a positive influence on many influential British leaders, including William Wilberforce. Newton encouraged him to “serve God where he was.” Wilberforce spent his life working for the abolition of slavery. In February 1807, when the act to abolish the slave trade became law, John Newton, nearly blind and near death, “rejoiced to hear the wonderful news.”

The grace of God still changes hearts. The pictures from Charleston, South Carolina prove that Jesus and the message of His Gospel is still the only true solution to racial tension. Rather than photos of the riots of Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD, we see white, black, and police in a church prayer meeting and in peaceful marches instead of riots.

Please remember a few verses of this great hymn. May God’s grace mend our country.

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

 

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

 

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

 

When we’ve been there a thousand years

Bright shining as the sun

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we’d first begun.

The words of Amazing Grace were authored by John Newton. But the melody is unknown. Many believe it originated as the tune of a song the slaves sang.

You can also read some of my other articles: Red & Yellow, Black & White, Beyond Baseball – Jackie Robinson.

Father Does Best (A God Blessed Family)

Father Knows Best was a favorite TV shows of the 50s & 60s. It ran from 1954 to 1963 and was so popular that after production ended, reruns continued in primetime for the next 3 years. No other TV show in history has done that.

The success was due to the character interaction. Jim Anderson (actor Robert Young, later played Marcus Welby) was more a ‘dad’ than a ‘father’. He was a responsible parent who loved his wife and kids. He was a man who would do a paper route int he rain for his sick son, Bud. He was a man who’d always choose to see Kathy in a school program rather than attend an important Chamber of Commerce dinner.

Many families would love to have the peace, balance, fun, and blessing of the Anderson’s in Father Does Best. Today’s family is in trouble. But God wants to make our homes a safe and happy place. What can a dad (and other family members) do to see God’s blessing? In Psalm 128, God tells us three things we can do to ensure that God will bless our family and make them strong.

Psalm 128

Blessed are all who fear the Lordwho walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. May you live to see your children’s children— peace be on Israel.

1. Godly fathers make family a priority.

This psalm places the blessings ‘by the sides of thine house’ and ‘about thy table.’ Too many men find their greatest joys at work, or in recreation, or with possessions. We can’t be at work all the time and there’s nothing wrong with having recreation time, playing golf or going fishing. And there’s nothing wrong with having stuff. But these can all distract us from the priority of our home and family. To have God bless our home, we need to make our home a priority.

2. Godly fathers walk with God.

The Bible talks a lot about how we walk. It means what we do with our time. This psalm tells us that if we will walk with God, He will bless us.

In Genesis, God would literally walk with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Today, we don’t have the physical presence of God, but we can walk with Him by reading His Bible and praying to Him. Because He has promised His special presence when even two Christians get together, we can walk with God by going to church, Sunday School or Bible study.

A godly father, who wants God’s blessings, makes walking with God a priority. And he models that priority to his family to copy.

3. Godly fathers fear God.

Psalm 128 opens with the promise of God’s blessings to anybody who fears Him. As a dad, it seems a little strange to want your children to fear you. So, what is God talking about?

Some people think this ‘fear’ is simply a respect, honor, or reverence for God. But if you look at the places the Hebrew word ‘fear’ is used in the Bible (I did), it means to be afraid.

So what does it mean to ‘fear God’?

Fearing God means fearing His disapproval more than anyone else’s. People often make decisions, good or bad, based on what they fear most. What kept me out of a lot of trouble growing up is the fear that my dad might find out. When we fear God, we will stay out of a lot of trouble. Oswald Chambers once said, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else. Whereas, if you do not fear God you fear everything else.”

Fearing God means understanding that we don’t mess with Him. We don’t take him for granted. We don’t get Him mad. For instance, I loved my dad and I knew he loved me. I chose him to be my best man at my wedding. But I did not want him mad at me. It was not a good day when dad was mad. Fearing God means we live a life that pleases God because we don’t want Him mad at us.

I hope God blesses your family. He surely has blessed mine. Nothing can ever take the place of a God-blessed family. So, start today to get where you need to be for God to bless your family. He wants to bless you. But are you blessable?

A Few Inspiring Quotes from ‘Through Gates of Splendor’

While on vacation I reread ‘Through Gates of Splendor’ one week before the author, Elizabeth Elliot, passed away (6/15/15). It is an inspiring story of the martyrdom of 5 young missionary men in the jungles of South America. Elizabeth was the wife of one of those men, Jim Elliot. What impressed me most was the passion of the men and their wives for the lost of the tribes of the Amazon. They were wiling to risk their lives for their salvation. Below are a few of the quotes from her book.

From Chapter #1 ‘I Dare Not Stay Home’

In his diary of the summer he [Jim Elliot] wrote: ” ‘He makes His ministers a flame of fire,’ Am I ignitible? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of ‘other things.’ Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul—short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God’s house consumed Him. ‘Make me Thy Fuel, Flame of God.’”

“I dare not stay home while Quichuas perish. What if the well
-filled church in the homeland needs stirring? They have the Scriptufes, Moses, and the prophets, and a whole lot more. Their condemnation is written on their bank books and in the dust on their Bible covers.”

Jim practiced what he preached when he wrote in his diary: “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

From Chapter #9 ‘September, 1955′

September, 1955, was the month in which Operation Auca really started, the month in which the Lord began to weave five separate threads into a single glowing fabric for His own Glory. Five men with widely differing personalities had come to Ecuador from the eastern United States, the West Coast, and the Midwestern States. Representing three different “faith-missions,” these men and their wives were one in their common belief in the Bible as the literal and supernatural and perfect word from God to man. Christ said “Go ye”; their answer was “Lord, send me.”

From Chapter #15 ‘Why Did the Men Go?’

The other wives and I talked together one night about the possibility of becoming widows. What would we do? God gave us peace of heart, and confidence that whatever might happen, His Word would hold. We knew that “when He putteth forth His sheep, He goeth before them.” God’s leading was unmistakable up to this point. Each of us knew when we married our husbands that there would never be any question about who came first—God and His work held first place in each life. It was the condition of true discipleship; it became devastatingly meaningful now.

It was a time for soul-searching, a time for counting the possible cost. Was it the thrill of adventure that drew our husbands on? No. Their letters and journals make it abundantly clear that these men did not go out as some men go out to shoot a lion or climb a mountain. Their compulsion was from a different source. Each had made a personal transaction with God, recognizing that he belonged to God, first of all by creation, and secondly by redemption through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. This double claim on his life settled once and for all the question of allegiance. It was not a matter of striving to follow the example of a great Teacher. To conform to the perfect life of Jesus was impossible for a human being. To these men, Jesus Christ was God, and had actually taken upon Himself human form, in order that He might die, and, by His death, provide not only escape from the punishment which their sin merited, but also a new kind of life, eternal both in length and in quality. This meant simply that Christ was to be obeyed, and more than that, that He would provide the power to obey. The point of decision had been reached. God’s command “Go ye, and preach the gospel to every creature” was the categorical imperative. The question of personal safety was wholly irrelevant.

On Sunday afternoon, December 18, Nate Saint sat at his typewriter to tell the world why they were going—just in case. In speaking these words he spoke for all: “As we weigh the future and seek the will of God, does it seem right that we should hazard our lives for just a few savages? As we ask ourselves this question, we realize that it is not the call of the needy thousands, rather it is the simple intimation of the prophetic Word that there shall be some from every tribe in His presence in the last day and in our hearts we feel that it is pleasing to Him that we should interest ourselves in making an opening into the Auca prison for Christ.

“As we have a high old time this Christmas, may we who know Christ hears the cry of the damned as they hurtle headlong into the Christless night without ever a chance. May we be moved With compassion as our Lord was. May we shed tears of repentance for these we have failed to bring out of darkness. Beyond the smiling scenes of Bethlehem may we see the crushing agony of Golgotha. May God give us a new vision of His will concerning the lost and our responsibility.

‘Would that we could comprehend the lot of these stone-age people who live in mortal fear of ambush on the jungle trail… those to whom the bark of a gun means sudden, mysterious death … those who think all men in all the world are killers like themselves. If God would grant us the vision, the word sacrifice would disappear from our lips and thoughts; we would hate the things that seem now so dear to us; our lives would suddenly be too short, we would despise time-robbing distractions and charge the enemy with all our energies in the name of Christ. May God help us to judge ourselves by the eternities that separate the Aucas from a comprehension of Christmas and Him, who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor so that we might, through His poverty, be made rich.

“Lord, God, speak to my own heart and give me to know Thy Holy will and the joy of walking in it. Amen.”

From Chapter #19 ‘Yet Have We Not Forgotten Thee’

In the kitchen we sat quietly as the reports were finished, fingering the watches and wedding rings that had been brought back, trying for the hundredth time to picture the scene. Which of the men watched the others fall? Which of them had time to think of his wife and children? Had one been covering the others in the tree house, and come down in an attempt to save them? Had they suffered long? The answers to these questions remained a mystery. This much we knew: “Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it.” There was no question as to the present state of our loved ones. They were “with Christ.”

And, once more, ancient words from the Book of Books came to mind: “All this has come upon us, yet have we not forgotten thee. . . . Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from Thy way, though Thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.”

The quiet trust of the mothers helped the children to know that this was not a tragedy. This was what God had planned. “I know my daddy is with Jesus, but I miss him, and I wish he would just come down and play with me once in a while,” said three-yearold Stevie McCully. Several weeks later, back in the States, Stevie’s little brother, Matthew, was born. One day the baby was crying and Stevie was heard to say, “Never you mind; when we get to Heaven I’ll show you which one is our daddy.” Was the price too great?

Don’t Miss God’s Plan

Does your life sometimes make no sense? Stuff happens that definitely is not what you had planned.

I remember when my dad died when I was only 32 years old. I actually argued with God about what He was doing in my life. Didn’t He know how this would affect me and my family?

Have you ever needed to have a heart-to-heart talk with God about His decisions for your life? His plan was definitely not your plan.

Take heart – even the Apostle Peter questioned Jesus about God’s plan. In Mark 8, Peter had just confessed that Jesus was the Christ (Mark 8: 29). Peter knew who Jesus was.

But when Jesus began to explain the next steps of God’s plan for Him – rejection, death, and resurrection – Peter felt he needed to have a private talk with Jesus to rebuke Him. The confessor became a counselor. He took Jesus aside and began to set Him straight on what it means to be the Christ. Like Peter, we many times do not accept the negative side of God’s plan.

“And he [Jesus] began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” -Mark 8:31-33

Jesus publicly rebuked Peter, calling Him Satan. Peter was not Satan, but it was Satan that prompted Peter to speak. Earlier, during the temptation of Christ, Satan had offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world if He would just bow in worship to him. Jesus could avoid the cross if He would just drop a knee to Satan. Jesus refused.

And now Satan speaks to Jesus in the voice of a well-meaning friend, Peter. Satan has returned, not as a roaring lion but in the caring love of His closest friend.

Peter had no idea that Satan was there, still less that he had become his very instrument. The words must have come as a shock: Get behind me, Satan! Peter had just recognized Jesus as the Christ, but here he forsook God’s perspective and evaluated the situation from a human one.

From this story, I found five principles that help me understand God’s plan, our world and my own sinful nature…

1. God has a plan that sometimes involves negative experiences. But God’s plan always ends in victory and joy.

2. There is a power of evil in the world that fights God’s plan, led by Satan.

3. We are the battlefield where this fight is fought.

4. We can become an ally to the evil that is in this world when we try to avoid God’s will and plan.

5. We are most vulnerable to be tempted in the victories and strengths of our growth in Christ.

I do not know what struggles God has allowed to be in your life today. But it was the plan of God that Jesus and His disciples experience rejection, betrayal, death, and resurrection victory. If God’s plan for you right now is a season of heartache and difficulty, know that it won’t last long and you will receive the victory soon. There is no crown without a cross.

3 Thoughts at the Death of a Loved One

Abe Lincoln said, “In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it.”

President Lincoln was right, the older we grow the more often death touches our lives, and I believe there are 3 very important things we can learn when we lose someone we love and care about.

1. Appreciate Life 

There is a great book titled Fresh Elastic For Stretched out Parents. The author wrote ” If I had my life to live over again I would do more walking and looking, swim more rivers, climb more mountains and watch more beautiful sunsets, I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones, I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans, If I had my life to live over again I would smell more roses and ride more merry-go-rounds. ”

There are a lot of great ideas in this quote.  The only problem is that you and I only make one appearance on the stage of life and we don’t get the opportunity to try it all over again.

I really like what Ray Charles said, “Live everyday like it’s your last because one day you are going to be right.”

We need to appreciate and enjoy our lives and live them to the fullest. There is a wise old saying “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift that is why it is called the present. ”

We need to look at every day as a gift and live our lives to the fullest!

2. Cherish the people we have left in our lives. 

A sad poem has been written:

“If I had only known

I’d never hear your voice again

I’d memorize each thing you ever said

And on those lonely nights

I could think of them once more

Keep your words alive inside my head

If I had only known

I’d never hear your voice again”

Never take people in your life for granted. One day they are with you, but the next they may be gone. So cherish each person.

There is a great book titled, Leaving the Light On by Gary Smalley in which he gives some great examples of how we can cherish our loved ones:

  • Smile
  • Give compliments
  • Show respect
  • Send a card for no reason
  • Ask, What can I do to help
  • Encourage
  • Apologize
  • Forgive

We need to remember to cherish the people we have left in our lives

3. Death teaches us to prepare for our own death 

Sadness is the obvious emotion that we experiencing at the loss of a loved one.  But it is not the only one. Fear also lurks large. Whenever we have a brush with death it leaves us all feeling pretty vulnerable and rightfully it should.

Listen to how the Bible describes our lives in the book of James. “What is your life, it is even a vapor that appears for a little time then vanishes away”

We have all had a hot cup of coffee or hot cocoa and seen the steam that comes off of it. It’s gone in seconds. The Bible says that’s what our lives are like. Because we don’t know the future we don’t know when our time will come to an end. It could be today, tomorrow or 20 years from now… but it is coming

The good news of the Gospel is we do not have to live in fear. Jesus came and conquered death. Death is an ugly door to a beautiful world because Jesus died to take away the sting of death. Turn to Jesus today to prepare for your eternity.

You can read some of my other articles about comfort in death: Heaven, Do children go to heaven when they die?, 6 ways to deal with grief and loss, 5 keys to good grief.

4 Steps to Personal Revival

Churches used to have a Spring & Fall Revival every year. The purpose was to inflame the spiritual passions of believers, with a ripple effect of reaching the unsaved for Jesus Christ. Though corporate revival services are great, it is important for each of us to have a personal revival from time to time.

A great Bible passage to think about is Psalm 24:1-6:

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob.

In this passage, we find four steps to personal revival. Two are positive: clean hands & pure heart. Two are negative: no idolatrous worship or falsehood.

I found a checklist that you might want to meditate through to give yourself a ‘spiritual inventory’ of these areas. If you find anything that is not right, simply confess your sins and God is faithful and just to forgive you.

Do you have clean hands (from wrong actions)?

  • Lack of integrity with finances.
  • Dishonest/wrong practices.
  • Taking what is not yours
  • Not doing your work well.
  • Careless – Lazy
  • Neglect of family
  • Inflicting hurt
  • Unfair treatment of others
  • Dishonoring your parents
  • Bad temper
  • Compulsive or secret habits
  • Living in immoral relationship
  • Wrong sexual activities.

Do you have a pure heart (no wrong attitudes)?

  • Unbelief
  • Independent rebellious spirit
  • Critical of others
  • Resentful
  • Hard to get along with
  • Unforgiving
  • Self-centered
  • Demanding
  • Selfish
  • No concern for needs of others
  • No concern for unsaved
  • Proud spirit
  • Envious or jealous of others
  • Ungrateful
  • Complaining
  • Unwilling to confess/apologize

Do you have empty worship (idolatry – wrong affections)?

  • Impure thoughts
  • Sexual fantasies
  • Viewing pornographic material
  • Love of money/material things
  • Desire for wealth – gambling
  • Tight and controlling
  • Lacking a generous spirit
  • Self-centered interests
  • Little hunger for God
  • Time alone with God
  • Putting a person before God
  • Putting work before God
  • Putting sports before God
  • Robbing God of time
  • Robbing God of money (tithe)
  • Neglect of prayer/God’s Word
  • Trusting in charms/horoscopes
  • Ruled by financial concerns
  • Little love or passion for Jesus

Do you have any falsehood (wrong words)?

  • Tendency to lie
  • Putting down others
  • Talking against others
  • Critical of others
  • Tendency to gossip/slander
  • Using verbal abuse
  • Swearing
  • Unkind or harsh words
  • Untrue words
  • Promises not kept

It will be of no benefit to examine yourself, unless you determine to change that which you find wrong in your heart, temper or conduct. Do not put it off! that will only make matters worse. Confess to God those sins that have been committed against God and others. Go through this list as carefully and solemnly as possible.

To Serve or Be Served?

The greatest need in evangelical churches is the release of members for ministry. A Gallup survey discovered that only 10% of American church members are active in any kind of personal ministry and that 50% of all church members have no interest in serving in any ministry. Think about that! No matter how much a church promotes involvement in ministry, half of its members will remain spectators. These are people who say, “I just don’t feel led to get involved.” (Actually, it’s another kind of ‘lead’ – in the seat of their pants!) The encouraging news that Gallup uncovered is this: 40% of all members have expressed an interest in having a ministry, but they have never been asked or they don’t know how. That is the part of my job. To help you find a ministry and assist you in effective service. Our church will never be any stronger than its core of lay ministers who carry out the various ministries of the church.

So, here are some key Biblical principles about ministry:

1. Ever believer is a minister.  Every believer isn’t a pastor, but every believer is called into ministry.  God calls all believers to minister to the world and to the church.  Service in the church body isn’t optional for Christians.  In God’s army, there are no volunteers – He’s drafted all of us into service.

2. Every ministry is important. There are no ‘little people’ in the body of Christ, and there are no ‘insignificant’ ministries.  Some ministries are visible and some are behind the scenes, but all are equally valuable.  Small ministries often make the greatest difference.  The most important light in the house is not the large chandelier in the dining room but the little nightlight that keeps you from stubbing your toe when you get up in the middle of the night.  It’s small, but it’s more useful than the ‘show-off’ lights.

3. We are dependent on each others.  not only is every ministry important, every ministry is also intertwined with all others.  No ministry is independent of the others.  Since no single ministry can accomplish all the church is called to do, we must depend on and cooperate with each other.  Like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece is required to complete the picture.  You always notice the missing piece first.  when one part of your body malfunctions, the other parts don’t work as well.  One of the missing components in many church is the understanding of interdependence.  We must work together.

4. Ministry is the expression of my uniqueness.  You are unique, wonderfully complex, a composite of many different factors.  What made you to be determines what He intends for you to do.  Your ministry is determined by your makeup.