Tag Archives: faith

Faith & Mental Health Article #2 – Real Change is Possible

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Faith & Mental Health Article #2 – Real Change is Possible

A new word is being thrown around like we are all supposed to know what it means – mindfulness. What exactly does it mean? According to Merriam-Websters Dictionary –

mind·​ful·​ness | \ ˈmīn(d)-fəl-nəs  \

Definition of mindfulness

1: the quality or state of being mindful

2: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis

also such a state of awareness

The “guru”community uses this word like it is really something new.The truth is, God’s word has always spoken to us about keeping our minds focused on the right things –

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you be careful to do everything written in it.” Joshua 1:8 NIV

But how do we do that? Is God’s Word telling us to walk around with a Bible open like a monk? No! But it does mean that we change our self-talk.

  1. Self talk – How do we talk to ourselves? What are we thinking about – worrying about – stressing about? What are complaining about? Are we sharing gossip? What do we say in our own minds when we see others on social media with “better lives”?

All of these things can lead to negative mental health. We can talk ourselves into a pit despair. We can also talk ourselves into a far better place. Paul said –

                “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest,  whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.   

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and seen in me, do: and the peace of God shall be with you.” Phil. 4:8-9

How we think and talk to ourselves can renew and transform our minds and bring us peace. While this is easy to say, it can be difficult to do. When you are struggling with depression or anxiety… or maybe even excessive worry, reach out to a Christian counselor you can trust, a pastor, or a close friend.

2. Act as if… – Life can be tough and often seem overwhelming. We can see obstacles and allow them to stop us from moving forward. But God can overcome any obstacle and He makes a way, even when one doesn’t currently exist. I want to add here that while this is a fairly common statement of faith, in the midst of grief, depression or anxiety, it can be tough to do on your own. I would encourage you to seek help in both prayer and in the person of a Christian counselor or pastor. We were not meant to walk alone through these valleys. Paul, in the New Testament, referred often to a church or an individual that refreshed his spirit during his times of great testing. I think we should seek out the same.

This article series is based on the passage – Romans 12:2

“And do not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

It is important to be mindful of God’s Word and to know what His will is for our lives. It can be challenging to see or determine what that is when we are struggling with our mental health. Notice the renewing of the mind comes before “proving” or knowing, (as it is sometimes translated) the will of God in our lives. The clouds of doubt that swirl in our minds while battling depression or anxiety can make even the simplest things seem impossible.

And let’s not forget where the passage begins – And do not be conformed to this world…

The world has lots to say about you. From social media to pop culture, not to mention all the talking heads that are bantering about their opinions, mixed with “psycho-babble” – none of which is helpful and is often very hurtful. The key is to hear from the sources that bring life to your spirit and truly renew your mind. The world does not know or want what is best for you – that is why we are not to be conformed to it. In seeking what God has for us we are renewed, and God’s will – which is good and perfect – becomes known. That is what brings us the peace that surpasses understanding.

Faith & Mental Health Series Part 1

Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Topics of mental health, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, grief, PTSD, and suicide are everywhere in the news today. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the total age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 35.2% from 1999 to 2018. According to the CDC, there were reports of increases in mental health struggles due to the circumstantial stress during the pandemic. We expected that it would have a causal effect on suicide as well… but it didn’t. According to the CDC, the suicide rate went down by 3% and has stayed down during the past several years.

What can account for that?

I believe there are several factors that certainly contributed to this.

  • First, people were at home more. While there was stress over the situation, there was a shared burden. Families were talking about their fears and hopes. The Bible talks a lot about family. Exodus 20:12 gives us a blessing of long life when we honor our father and mother.
  • Second, when we are with those that we love, there is strength. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” I think this pandemic qualifies as a time of adversity.
  • Third, this time together created an opportunity for family restoration. When people begin to talk, they begin to see the problems, recognize their part -seek forgiveness and offer forgiveness. This brings healing where before there was only hurting. Colossians 3:13 tells us, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
  • Fourth, I believe that with the opening of telehealth, some people who were unable to get mental health services were able to access them for the first time. In our busy lives, we are always on the run. Mental health often gets placed on the back burner when there are other issues. During the pandemic, there was time, but there wasn’t opportunity. Telehealth came in and filled that need. This reminds me of the words of Christ – Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. Matt. 7:7

People were asking and it was given. Some in the faith community say,

“If you have enough faith, you won’t need counseling… you won’t have mental health problems like depression… you won’t need medication… etc.”

The truth is the Bible speaks a lot about mental health. It never says that a person won’t need help. I love what Christian Comedian Chonda Pierce says,

                “I get through my days with Jesus, counseling, and my prescriptions.”

A lady responded to her,

                “If you had a little more faith and trusted Jesus more, you wouldn’t need those prescriptions.”

Chonda’s response was perfect,

“I will put down my prescriptions, that a Christian doctor prescribed for me when you drive home tonight without your glasses or stop taking your blood pressure medication and insulin.”

I believe that God works in us and through us in a variety of ways. We live in a broken world and people are hurting more than ever. God uses all means necessary to bring healing and restoration to our lives… including doctors.

Mental health challenges are real and God calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I believe we can do this with His Word, the Holy Spirit, faith, and the people that God has equipped to come alongside us to walk through these valleys – family, friends, counselors, pastors, and doctors.

Can a person who has messed up in life really change and matter?

Many of you do not know who this man is – George Mueller. But please read the following excerpt from my book – Your Life Matters. I hope it inspires you, as it did me.

George Mueller

In college, I studied about George Mueller. He became one of my heroes. If you haven’t heard of him, Mueller built great orphanages on simple faith. Eventually, these orphanages covered thirteen acres of land on Ashley Downs, Bristol, England. But, when God put it into the heart of George Muller to build these orphanages, George had only two shillings (fifty cents) in his pocket.

By the time of Mr. Muller’s death, there were five immense buildings of solid granite, capable of accommodating two thousand orphans. Without making his desires known to anyone but God, over one million, four hundred thousand pounds ended up being donated – over seven million U.S. dollars today. It arrived as it was needed, to build and maintain the orphanages.

Although George Mueller became famous as one of the greatest men of prayer known to history, he was not always a saint. He wandered into a deep mess before he came to Christ.

Mueller was born in Prussia, in 1805. His father was a tax collector. Not the best example for a young man, his father spent much of his time in the bars and brothels.

George routinely lied to his father about the money he spent, both how much he spent and where he threw it away. He also stole from his father when his father was drunk or out spending time with the women in the brothels.

Since his father was wrapped up in the bad stuff of the world, he didn’t provide much fatherly instruction. He gave them money, that they quickly burned through. At ten years of age, George was sent to a Christian school. His father wanted to make a Lutheran clergyman of him, not that he might serve God, but that he might have an easy and comfortable living wage from the State Church. (Lawson, 1911).

“My time,” said George, “was now spent in studying, reading novels, and indulging … in sinful practices. Thus, it continued until I was fourteen years old when my mother suddenly died. The night she was dying, I, not knowing of her illness, was playing cards until two in the morning, and on the next day, being the Lord’s Day, I went with some of my companions to a tavern, and then, being filled with strong beer, we went about the streets drunk.”

“I grew worse and worse,” said Mueller. “Three or four days before I was confirmed (and thus admitted to partake of the Lord’s supper), I was guilty of gross immorality; and the very day before my confirmation, when I was in the vestry with the clergyman to confess my sins (according to the usual practice), after a formal manner, I defrauded him; for I handed over to him only a twelfth part of the fee which my father had given me for him.”

Lying, stealing, gambling, skirt-chasing, wasteful spending, was just the tip of the iceberg. No one would have imagined that this wayward young soul would become known for his faith in God and his power in prayer.

When his father sent out young George to collect rent, George would lie about the amount he collected and pocket the difference. His reckless behavior brought him to the point of having no money to buy food, and he even stole bread from a soldier.

In 1821, George went to Magdeburg and spent six days there drinking and chasing women. From there, he went to Brunswick and rented an expensive hotel until his money ran out. Next he rented a room at a fine hotel in a neighboring village, intending to defraud the hotel. Caught before he could leave, he traded his finest clothes for rent money. He then walked six miles to another inn, where he was arrested for trying to defraud the landlord. (Lawson, 1911). This time he was jailed for his crime, at sixteen years old.

But then something that can only be described as a “come to Jesus” moment occurred in his life. While at school, one of his friends brought him to the house of a Christian family on a Saturday afternoon.

They ate dinner together and afterward began a Bible study that was far deeper than any he had been involved in before. His heart was moved in a way he had never experienced. Before George could ask a question of the man leading the study, the man quietly slipped to his knees to pray, and his family joined him in prayer.

George had never experienced this, even in all the Christian Studies and seminary/clergyman schooling he had attended. George, unsure what to do, joined them on his knees, too.

In that moment of solemn prayer, George surrendered his life to Christ. He began to cry for the errors of his ways and wanted to do nothing but make amends and share the love of Christ with everyone he came in contact with. It was a moment of real transformation.

He went on to preach around the countryside, and then moved to London and preached there. In 1834, Mr. Mueller started the Scripture Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad to aid Christian day-schools, assist missionaries, and circulate the Scriptures.

Shortly after this, he began the orphanages that impacted so many children. “These institutions of both learning and housing, without government support, without asking anyone for help, without contracting debts; without committees, subscribers, or memberships; but through faith in the Lord alone and intense prayer, had raised and disbursed no less a sum than £1,500,000 ($7,500,000) at the time of Mr. Muller’s death.” (Lawson, 1911). The bulk of this was spent on the orphanage.

“By the time Mueller died, 122,000 persons had been taught in the schools supported by these funds; and about 282,000 Bibles and 1,500,000 Testaments had been distributed through the same fund. Also, 112,000,000 religious books, pamphlets, and tracts had been circulated; missionaries had been aided in all parts of the world, and no less than ten thousand orphans had been cared for using this same fund.” (Lawson, 1911).

At the age of seventy, Mr. Mueller made great evangelistic tours, traveling 200,000 miles around the world. He preached in many lands and several different languages, frequently speaking to as many as 4,500 or 5,000 persons.

He preached three to four times throughout the United States. He continued his evangelistic tours until he was ninety years of age. During these seventeen years of evangelistic work, he estimated he had addressed three million people. All his expenses had been paid by those who sent in funds, in answer to his prayers of faith.

It would be an understatement to say that George Mueller’s life mattered, but I am struck by the times when there was neither food nor money to buy food. As mealtimes in the orphanages drew near, they gathered around the tables in the dining hall and George prayed. All the staff and children would file in and they would join him silently praying.

They were always interrupted by a knock on the door. Someone would deliver food saying, “I felt moved by the Lord to bring this to your institution. I hope it helps.”

No one had said a word publicly, other than their prayers to God. No one had cried in the streets for help or set up a fundraising drive. They prayed.

This wasn’t an isolated occurrence. If that were the case, many would think it to be a coincidence. But their prayers were answered every time there was a need or a shortage.

Every time.

No one ever went without a meal in these orphanages, ever.

I wonder about the impact that this type of devoted prayer must have had on the people at the orphanages who witnessed it, from the staff to the residents. How did this shape their lives of faith?

I imagine it had a tremendous impact on them. Simply learning about the story has had a profound impact on me.

So, you see, your past does not define your future. You can begin again today and live in such a way that the change inspires others and leads them out of their darkness. “If I did it, so can you,” will be your byline. Then you reach down and lift them up and walk with them a while.

I want you to know that YOUR LIFE MATTERS!

God Bless You!

Dr Cliff

God’s Moves

I love the passage in Daniel where the Angel is telling him,

“Don’t be afraid Daniel, Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come to answer your prayer.” Daniel 10:12 (NLT)

Think about those words, “Since the first day you began to pray…” God was listening and moving on his behalf. That is so stirring to me.

It’s like God holds up His hand in heaven, and says – “Quiet everyone, my son/daughter is speaking to me, and I need to hear, so that we can take action on this request.” We mean so much to God that all of heaven stands still at your prayer.

I write these words and the impact of them hit me right between the eyes and bring tears. How many times have I not prayed or prayed in a dutiful way over a meal? How many times have I questioned God in my prayers or even had selfish prayers?

God wants to hear from us… talk with us … move on our behalf. And yet, how many time are we silent… or impatient? I have to be honest – I have been all of that. How about you?

When I look at the Bible, I see how God repeatedly responded to prayer. His people would cry out. David or Solomon would pray. And God would take action on their behalf.

I have seen God take action on my behalf. Seeing all that God has done for me and through me is humbling. I know that many of you have similar stories.

And yet, we still struggle. Sometimes it looks like depression or anxiety over a situation or circumstance. Other times it is a feeling of being overwhelmed or uncertain of what to do next. Then there are times when we simply do not understand why God has not intervened to stop the hurting.

I have to be direct here – I have struggled with all of this myself and will not pretend to have all the answers. But one thing I know is this – God is good and works all things together for the good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). In other words, God is working behind the scenes to do what we cannot. He does not say that all things are good. But He says He will take the very worst and bring something good from it.

So, God wants to hear from you today. Just like He wants to hear from me. He wants to move on that request and talk with us.

In expectation of God moving mountains, will you pray today?

Dr Cliff

P.S. I am praying for you today.

God is Good!

We often hear the phrase – God is good. It is usually followed up – All the time. Then, we hear it said a different way – All the time, God is good. But what does that mean?

Too often, we have these cliches, that may be spoken with the best of intentions, but are they – spoken with any intention at all? I say this because it is so easy to say simple phrases like – I’m good or I love you or something else and they become statements that are said without meaning or real intention. In fact, in those moments, they can actually be a lie.

But when we use God’s name this way, what are we really saying? Are we trying to tell our friends, spouse or even the world that we believe that God is indeed good. Heck, in todays economy of language and word usage – what does the word good even mean? I mean when someone asks you how you are doing, what is your typical response?

“I’m good!” or “All good!”

But is that the truth? I would venture a guess that most of the time we use that phrase, it is really saying – I don’t really want to talk about. So, when a word like “good” is caught up in that kind of usage and it has become so common that it has become meaningless, how does this reflect on our statement – “God is good”?

Here is something to consider – if, in the course of our normal conversations, we have ascribed no value to a word, like good, its usage can be described as “vain” or useless, pointless – producing no result. Wouldn’t that lead us to conclude that we may be taking the Lord’s name in vain?

Or let’s go one step further. If we say that we are Christian and yet, we do not act in accordance with Christ, are we not taking His name in vain there too?

My goal here is not to condemn but to get us thinking and maybe have us to change the way we use certain phrases. Maybe we stop and think and then intentionally say – God is good, oh so good. He has done for me, what I cannot do for myself. I realize that it may be difficult to get that out in every situation. But if we are thinking that, it therefore becomes the intention of the statement. I believe that people can tell the difference but more importantly – God knows our hearts and our intention.

One last thing – God truly is good and He makes our lives matter by His goodness, love and empowering Spirit. He calls us His Masterpiece, even when we feel like we are nothing but a mess. He has a mission for us, even when we feel lost, with no purpose. Your life matters – no matter what, no matter where you are and no matter how many mistakes you have made. God is just that good!

If you get a chance, check out my books – Your Life Matters, The Toolkit To Change Your World and Transformed – A Memoir of a Life Changed By God. Both are available on Amazon or at http://www.yourlifematterstoday.com

Also, check out the new radio show/podcast on VoiceAmerica beginning 5/17/22 at 9am called – Your Life Matters Today by Dr. Cliff Robertson, Jr. My first guest is my long-time friend – Cesar Cantu, the current Executive Director of The Warriors Refuge.

God Bless You!

Dr Cliff

Love Yourself!

Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, as ourselves. Great! But how do we do that, when we do not first love ourselves? And for that matter… how do we love ourselves? Is it about a pampered day at a spa?

No – unless of course you plan to love those around you that way, and you believe that is what Jesus had in mind.

I believe we love ourselves by taking care of our minds, bodies and souls. Beginning with the soul – we give our hearts, our faith, to Jesus. We feed that soul with His word. We feed our soul with good music that moves us to a closer relationship with Him. We are involved in church – His body. We talk with Him – daily. We cherish the gifts from God – our spouse, children… all of it.

Loving our bodies is easy to define, but hard to do. We eat better and exercise – this is love. We go to the doctor for check ups – this is love. There is more here but that’s the basics.

Loving our minds can be a bit tricky. The main ways we love our minds is through positive mental health and controlling the things we allow into our heads. Mental health includes the depression and anxiety we deal with. The grief that we often ignore due to busyness. The need to speak to a professional because it is overwhelming. Unpacking the past – the tragedies and neglect, the hurts and the hang ups. All of it. The truth is that unless we deal with it, one day it will deal with us. And how can we love someone else, who is going through the valley of the shadow of death, when we refuse to deal with our own?

Finally, we love our minds by controlling the inputs. The world has a message for you that may not be healthy for your mind to hear. They could be selling you things that are a lie. Social media can be good and can be bad. Too much of it has been shown to be bad for our mental health. They portray images of perfect families, on perfect vacations and leave out the pain and challenges – they leave out “the rest of the story.” I recommend taking a social media fast. Make it a week, minimum. See how you feel about it at the end of the week.

When we do these things- and for the record, this is not a comprehensive list – we will be loving ourselves. Now- go love your neighbor as you have loved yourself.

#yourlifematters

God bless you!

Dr Cliff

#YourLifeMatters – The Transformation Project

“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

See the source image

Two Questions I always ask those who are assembled –

  1. Is there anyone that can see any reason why these two should not be married, if so speak now or forever hold your peace?
  2. Who here will be willing to support this marital union with the love and support they will need on this life long journey?

Marriage is an institution created by God – We find this in Genesis 2:24 where God says –

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.”

(Talk about the meaning of leave & cleave)

Instructions for Husbands continue –

1 Peter 3:7 – Likewise Husbands, dwell them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel

(Talk about knowledge – come back to weaker vessel in the Unity Heart)

Then finally – Ephesians 5:25

               Instructions for Wife –    Ephesians talks a lot about marriage – one of the main things I want to mention is the idea of respect – Which is the greatest need of men – to be respected and Eph 5:33 tells us this clearly. Earlier it also talks about submitting to your husband, as to the Lord, as the head of the house. While I realize that some of these concepts are not popular in todays society, I can tell you that if you have a marriage filled with the love of God for one another, it is as natural as breathing, especially when we look at a previous passage that tells you guys to submit one to another in the fear of God.

After hearing all of that – let’s proceed with the vows.

“Will you (Gary Ken Briden, Jr./Amanda Lee Cosby) have this woman/man to be your wife/husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor, and keep her/him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?”

Then Repeat after me

“In the name of God, I, ______, take you, ______, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.”

Exchange of rings

Rings are a symbol of love and the nature of love that has no beginning or end. You see I believe that this kind of love is a gift from God, that was ordained from long before and was therefore just waiting to be discovered and it just continues through eternity.

Ken – repeat after me – “With this ring, I thee wed.”

Amanda – repeat after me – “With this ring I thee wed.”

UNITY HEART

Prior to this wedding we had two hearts here – and they are represented by these two sculptures. The grooms is the outer and the brides is the inner. The grooms is representative of a sturdy sense of strength, protection and security but by itself is empty. The brides heart is represented here as an intricately carved piece of artwork, beautiful but by itself is left unprotected  – I want to talk a moment about the Biblical Idea of the “Weaker Vessel” and what this means…

When we put these together, by themselves they are beautiful but still there is a third element that ties it all together and makes them one – the power that created the Universe, who invited love and marriage – God Almighty.

I now pronounce you husband and wife – you may kiss the bride.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I be the first to present to you – Mr. & Mrs. Briden!

This weekend, I was asked to perform a wedding, as an ordained minister, it isn’t my first time but it was really special – this was my first time back in this role in almost two years and it was for a good friend who works for me. I have seen this friend of mine go from homeless to hopeful to hopelessly in love and it has been a beautiful transformation to watch. The pain of a past relationship/marriage breakup, whose wounds were still fresh, seemed to be soothed and healed by the refreshing balm of love. This is beautiful – transformative.

I included my notes from this wedding just as a backdrop to a larger truth – if we set out with our hearts open to what God has for us, we too can experience the beautiful and transformative love of our Creator. It may not be in the form of a wedding, a new relationship but it will always be miraculous.

In this life, we see so much… but the two constants are the unchanging love of God and the fact that everything else around us is changing. So with everything around us changing at the speed of technology, social media and the general craziness this world brings to us everyday, I believe that having a firm foundation in love of God, whom is unchanging, is essential.

With so many hurting people in this world that are in dire need of love and positive change in their lives, along with a positive self-image, that is not drive by social media or the trends of the day, I am modifying the name of this blog to – #YOUR LIFE MATTERS – The Transformation Project. My goal is to change the world, one story, one life, one heart at a time.

But I will let you in on a little secret – I can’t do it by myself. Will you help? Will you share the stories, commit to helping one person have a better life this year and encourage others to do the same? If so, together, we can create a movement that truly does change the world.

With much love,

Dr. Cliff Robertson, Jr.

Why Pastors Need to Stop Preaching What People Want to Hear – Joe McKeever Christian Blog

Why Pastors Need to Stop Preaching What People Want to Hear – Joe McKeever Christian blog and commentary on Crosswalk.com.
— Read on www.crosswalk.com/blogs/joe-mckeever/why-pastors-need-to-stop-preaching-what-people-want-to-hear.html

Transformed!

We talk about it…

We quote the verse…

We want it…

So why don’t we experience it?

We don’t experience real change because we are not willing to let go of the old long enough to allow God to do His perfect work. How can we expect change when we won’t stop doing what is killing us?

Here are a few steps to try…

Step 1 – Recognize that God can transform you.

Step 2 – Ask  God to transform you!

Step 3 – Let go of the past and all that holds you back.

Apply this verse and a few more.

Transformed-slide-title

We will talk more later!

Love ya’ll!

Cliff

 

Tragedy – How do we begin to understand

ashes - remain

Let me begin by saying that my heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family of God at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. We grieve with you.

I was asked by a friend to comment on this after she had read a response from a leading evangelist. I have to say that words are always hard to come by at times like this. Having been through the tragic loss of loved ones, I do have a grasp for what that looks and feels like – there is such a gut wrenching pain that is hard to imagine. Part of you is physically removed with a loss like this but it’s the tearing of the heart that leaves the deepest wounds. I know because I still bear those scars myself.

On the day that I lost my wife, I cried so hard that I didn’t think I would ever stop. I didn’t know how it all began or how to stop. Then a week later, the injuries from the same accident claimed my little girl. There are no words that adequately express it. Our language simply cannot do it justice and I have come to find that is really ok. I feel that if it could, then it would somehow lessen the gravity of it all. I find that true as we look upon the senseless loss of life in South Carolina.

So when I say I understand tragic loss – I truly do. But how do we, as Christians, reconcile this with a “good” God? Tough question, but one I think we are called to grapple with. If we look back over time and history, tragedy is not new. From the original fall, this world became a broken place. Not long after the original sin came the first human loss of life by murder. Could God have stopped it? If He could then why didn’t He?

It is my belief that we live in a broken world and we are told that broken things will continue to happen until Christ returns in Glory! It is then, and not until then, that every tear will be wiped away. Till we get there, God stores up our tears in a bottle.

In Isaiah 61:1, we are told that the Anointed One (Jesus Christ) will “bind up the broken-hearted….” This must mean that broken things are going to happen to break beauty-for-ashesour hearts. But why does it have to be that way – we ask??? When God gave man free-will, to choose His way or his own way, to love Him or to forsake Him, we become victims of a world that is hell-bent at killing themselves. The enemy, Satan, plants seeds and drives evil of every kind but man still has a choice. God says that when people reject Him, He gives them over to their own ways and it gets bad…. Like what happened in Charleston, South Carolina bad.

We cannot look to God and ask – Why did you do this???? with clinched fists because He didn’t do it. Man did – fallen man. Of course we can try to blame Him. Let me know how that works for you.

What we can trust is that God can take the worst of the worst and use it for good. God can use this situation to bring people to His throne of grace. I don’t know how He is going to do it but let me tell you a story. There was a young man in our church. He was an active and athletic boy that was into everything. Well one day he began to struggle and his parents took him to the doctor and they found out he had cancer. They did everything they could for him. If there was a medical option, it was explored – even the experimental stuff.

The young man continued to get worse but he didn’t seem to care because he knew where he was headed – heaven. You see, he had given his heart to Christ and heaven was his home. The witness of this young man to so many, including his own father, led them to salvation. But it didn’t stop there. When the young man finally passed away and the funeral was held, there were people who had never been to church that came to pay their last respects to this courageous young man. At this service his story was told and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Because of a funeral and the example of the man who was being laid to rest, many came to know Christ.

So you ask – how can God bring good out of a tragedy like cancer or this senseless murder of 9 people(I believe that number is right)? How can good come from something so horribly broken? I don’t know but I trust that God was not surprised by this and that He has a plan to bring beauty from these ashes. He has a history of doing exactly that and He will do it again.

If you are facing a personal tragedy or doubts – maybe this and other incident’s have shaken your faith to its very core – I want you to pray. I want you to ask God to help you see how He “works all things together for the good for those that love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) He will, if you ask in faith and trust Him.

This post may anger some and others may not understand. That’s ok. I respect how you feel. I pray that you will consider these words and listen to this song –