Monday, June 27, 2016

Everything Happens For a Reason

I ran across a post by a lady named Christine Sukan and I found out I'm not the only one who shivers, emotionally, sometimes, when this phrase is spoken, as though it is a solution to someone's pain and heartache. 

Christine writes: Have you ever found yourself, in the midst of unimaginable grief, pain, heartache or despair, wondering how you are going to make it through another day? Wondering where your next breath is going to come from? Your world has crumbled beneath you and you are left feeling shattered, empty and hopeless.And then a well meaning person comes along and drops the infamous “Everything happens for a reason” bomb?* 

I would not have described the phrase as a "bomb" but it feels like that to her and it may to many others. But I do sometimes feel perplexed by this supposedly comforting phrase "everything happens for a reason" and often followed by something like -" God's got it all under control"...  When that happens, I'm wondering are they saying that God's got some reason to make us ill, in pain,  heartbroken or in mental anguish?  I've prayed "Lord, if you are trying to teach me something through this, please help me to be a fast learner" But we all, including myself, stumble around with our words in those times when we are trying to encourage or comfort our friends and we realize most people mean well when they say things like this. So,  I'm hoping that maybe we can kind of think this through together.
Christine describes her experience this way: I spent years searching for answers, trying to find reasons that would bring an end to my pain. I thought that if I could find the cause, I could treat the condition. But what I found through years of searching, experiencing and living is that sometimes bad things happen for no reason other than we are human beings having a human experience. Pain, heartache, grief, loss, disease and death are inevitable parts of the human experience. *

Just as I have not suffered exactly the pains someone else has and no one else has suffered exactly as I have and although no two life paths have been the same,  the one thing we do share is that we are all humans.   Now, just imagine you are God and you look down below and see every human's path drawn out.  It would look like a bowl of spaghetti.
  In some places of each of our paths, we will cross other's pathway or walk along beside them for a while, but at some point, the paths will separate again.  That's because God lets us make choices and it causes the uniqueness of our own life path.   

I so agree with her about the conclusion she has reached about God’s will: "God's will is not the path we walk, but rather how we walk the path.  God’s will is not for an innocent child to be brutally murdered. God’s will is not for a teenage girl to be raped. God’s will is not chronic pain, illness, disability or death. God’s will is not an event that happens to us. God’s will is for us to draw close to him in the midst of pain, sorrow, grief. God’s will is for us to use our painful life events to carry his message of hope, grace, forgiveness and mercy." * Image result for woman crying

I sure don't know a lot, but I've learned God's will is for us to lean into Him, lay our weary head on his caring heart, trust Him to love us, to share our greatest heart aches with us, ask Him for healing, ask Him for help, ask Him for comfort and then trust Him.  Sometimes He works a miracle and we receive instant relief, but sometimes He doesn't.  In other words, in the end, we have to choose to let God bring purpose and meaning to our suffering. I've found that the sweet Holy Spirit of our God, will help us choose to respond in a way that brings good into an impossible or horrific situation here on this earth and to look forward in hope to the day when Jesus comes back and we get to see him and our Heavenly Father face to face!

So, here's what I think about this idea of "everything happens for a reason":  If "everything does happen for a reason", many times it is not a comforting, holy or loving reason of our Heavenly Father's, but, instead,  the tragic, enduring outcome of the decree God made to Adam and Eve when he forced them out of the garden. He told them they would, from then own, work hard to put food on the table and feel pain and know sorrow as children were born to them.   But, forcing them out was, actually, a loving kindness thing that He did for them.  If he had left them in the garden, I feel pretty sure they would have eventually been tempted into eating of the Tree of Life also.  Thank God He did not let that happen, or they would have lived on for eternity with evil Image result for man cryingand the sorrow and pain of it mingled into their lives!  As it was, the 930 years of Adam's life were a continual revelation of evil as he saw hearts broken and lives lost because of jealousy, murdering, stealing, envy, hatred, sexual sins and every other kinds of evil.  My guess is that he wished many times that he had never eaten that fruit from that tree of good and evil and learned how horrible evil is.  Though, originally, God placed Adam and Eve in a paradise of wonder and goodness and though they could actually walk and talk face to face with God Almighty, it wasn't enough to them. They wanted to know about the evil as well as the good, enough to disobey their protector, provider, loving Father, friend and creator. So, all of humanity shares in knowing not only the good, but the evil and pain of this earthly existence.  I'm so thankful that Jesus came and made a way that our life paths can be changed and we can walk and talk with our Heavenly Father again on this earth while embracing the hope of eternity in Heaven when this life is finished.  God's got it under control, but only if we love Him and let Him because everything happens for a reason!

* by Christine Suhan  a wife, stay at home mother to three wild toddler boys and writer/creator .  She has a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and enjoys helping people through openly and honestly sharing her journey of life, recovery, mental illness, marriage, parenting and more.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Our Destructive Culture of Busyness

We live in a culture that tells us we should always be busy going somewhere, doing something, pursuing a goal, getting things done, making or fulfilling our "bucket list".  I recently read this book and it was a blessing to me so I wanted to share it with all of you.  While reading this book, the author pricked my mind as he informed the reader about what the Sabbath really means. It's not about a debate of Saturday verses Sunday as the Sabbath. Publishers weekly describes it correctly this way - "the author campaigns persuasively for readers to revive the  Sabbath as a refuge from our destructive " culture of  busyness"  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hard Times by Edna Auline Summers

Have you had times in life when it seemed all of life was beautiful? And suddenly  it seemed all was turned upside down.?   If you have not then get ready: at some point it will. I heard a song this morning that rings so true, "Sometimes it takes a storm to find our hiding place." And sometimes we find something good at the bottom of our upside down world.

I remember the first time I saw my Mother bake an "Upside Cake."   She prepared the pan then put in the bottom of it coconut, pecans and pineapple. Then I watched as she made the cake batter and poured it in on top of the wonderful yummy things in the bottom of the pan. My thought was , She has covered up all those "goodies"  but after the cake had been in the heat of the oven for the given time she took it out, let it cool a bit then turned it upside down and there I beheld all those wonderful things embedded in the cake just waiting for "supper time."  
Sometimes we feel we have had more than our share of the "HEAT " but when God turns our upside down world over, there are beautiful blessings to be enjoyed at "Supper Time"

I have told you these things, so that you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer . Take courage; be confident, certain , undaunted! For I have overcome the world. I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you. John 16:33  (AMP version)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Love changes everything

Why Jesus Came

In the Garden of Eden, God had things set up like he wanted them.  Each day He came and walked and talked with the man and woman he created and placed there.  They could ask him questions, they could tell Him their hopes and dreams, they could hear him tell them directly what he wanted of them, they could enjoy perfect peace and safety.  He gave them a wonderful place to live, abundant with everything they were created to want and need.  But He told them there was one thing in their perfect environment  that was not for them.  But, He loved them so! He hoped that would be enough and that they would love Him so much they would not do this one thing he told them not to do. 

But walking and talking and being provided for by such a loving God was not enough to please them.  They wanted to know more.  They knew it was called the tree of knowledge and they wanted that.  So, they ate some and mankinds future changed.    Centuries passed wherein mankind tried to get a world of their own making.  But God had not left them and he still talked to those willing and wanting to hear from him.  But most wanted to "be like everybody else"  They wanted leadership from a man like they were, like they could relate to, like they could use as an excuse to not be or do exactly what God wanted, because, after all they were only human too.  So, God let them have some spiritual leaders, some kings, many rules and rituals and eventually mankind had forgotten how it had been to walk and talk with God.  But they thought if they did the rituals and kept the rules, that should give them a good life here on earth and a good eternity after this life.   And some replaced that for walking and talking with God everyday and learning from him how to love with purity and grace.

So God sent Jesus, his only begotten son to bring the truth of His love back to human kind.  Jesus said "you have the rules memorized, but your heart is not in it when you are keeping them."  He said we had to be born again to the purest He had originally planed for mankind.  He said the first commandment was to love God with all your heart and the second was to Love Thy neighbor as thyself.  He explained what he meant by that:  Don't kill someone because all humanity is your neighbor.  Basically  said,  "I want to walk and talk with you every day again.  Repent and show me that's what you want too".

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What if I give all I have?

What if I give all I have, what will that gift do?   When I first thought of writing about this question I wondered if the answer is to give every bit of my money and all my possessions to my home church? Or, is the answer to quit my job, close my business, say goodbye forever to any of my friends or family who don't walk this path with me?


As I contemplated, I remembered an experience I had when I was a young teen. I went with my mother to visit a religious group called the Children of God.  They were an unusual group, which some were calling a cult, and they were camping at a state park in our area of South Texas.  It was chilly and a dripping rain was coming down when we arrived.  A young man, about 18 years old, came to the car and Momma rolled down her window. The young man greeted us, my mother introduced us and asked his name, which he told us.  Then fear came on his face and he said, "I wasn't suppose to tell you that because part of joining this group is that we are suppose to forget our given name and they give us a new name.  Please don't tell I did this."  After assurance from my mother that we would not tell, he asked if we were saved.  Momma assured him we were and started asking questions about the group's beliefs. Then, he invited us to get out of the car and come into the camp to talk with one of his leaders.


He was kind.  He noticed I was shivering and guided us over to a tent that had piles of clothing and asked if someone could find a warm coat for me to wear while we were visiting the camp. As my mother inquired, they explained that anyone who joined them had to give every possession they had over to the leaders of the Children of God.  All these possessions were sorted (which was the reason for the various piles of clothing) and the leaders would decide which of the clothing and other items to issue to the members of the congregation. The leaders used the money the congregation had given up to buy food, gas and whatever else they thought should be purchased and portioned some of the money out to the members as they thought it was appropriate. There were a couple of nice RVs that the leaders, who were around middle age,  lived in.  But the congregation, which seemed to be mostly people in their 20s,  lived in little tents and I felt sorry for them because it was cold and rainy.


I've thought about that experience many times.  I've thought about them not working and living this way while others were working and paying taxes.  The government used part of the taxes to create the state parks which had electricity outlets, water faucets, toilets and sometimes showers which these people, in those days, used for free. On that cold drizzly day I had seen some of The Children of God walking around with their Bibles in hand and reading them and I felt they were really seeking to find God.  I wondered, did they find instructions to live this way in their Bible studies?


So, I've read the Bible and I found that it does mention a time when the believers were gathered in a similar sounding way........

Acts Chapter 2
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Acts Chapter 4:
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.


As I read and study the Bible I believe this situation was not a mandate for daily and extensive Christian living. Instead, it was a grateful response to an awesome revelation at a particular time. The Holy Ghost had just been sent, by Jesus, to empower believers to spread the good news that Jesus was the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer!  It was an extended time of study, fellowship and evangelization.  How could those people who were gathered in such complete accord not share their food and other supplies with their new brothers and sisters?  Some of them, who possessed more than others, wanted to use their wealth to support the apostles as they went out to share the gospel, much as our church supports our pastors and missionaries,  who are being sent out with the gospel both at home and abroad.

Still, I ponder on what does it mean for me personally -giving my all? I thought, "What would all I have look like?" I have a simple modest home, very used cars, money to pay our bills, an adequate wardrobe and a very fragile, unwell body.  Does God want all this?  Does He want any of this? Well, I know the Bible says the truth shall set you free, so that's where I have tried to find the answers.  Here's what I found:

  • For one little boy his "all" looked like 2 little loves of bread and 3 little fish. The little boy gave all he had that particular day when the Savior needed it to teach a lesson about God's amazing ability to provide or to increase something small to become sufficient for a huge need to be met.

  • One day it looked like a widow putting her last little penny in the church offering and Jesus used her "all" to show his disciples that God looks upon the love from someone's heart who gives what they have instead of impressive amounts of money given for show by the wealthy.

  • For Ananias and Safari, a church couple who lied that they were giving all they had made by the sale of their land, their "all" God desired from them was honesty about the sale.

  • One time, "all" looked like a pound of very costly ointment of spikenard when Mary poured it out, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair.

  • Once "all" looked like time, sweat, kindness, care and concern from a stranger, when a man was beaten and left bleeding and near death in the ditch. 

  • Once "all" was a woman's tears and her hair for washing and easing Jesus' tired feet.  Common courtesy in those days  was to provide guests with water and towels as they entered the home and the host had not done that for Jesus. 

  • Job's "all" was to keep trusting God, even in his heartache, loss, and pain.

  • Once it looked like a bleeding and dying thief on a cross beside Jesus whose "all" was using his last breath to request mercy from our dying Savior.

  • Esther's "all" was risking her life to go before the King without invitation in hopes of protection for herself, family and friends.

  • Little David's "all" was a sling and a smooth stone and faith in His God as he faced someone so much bigger and more powerful than himself. 

This article explains the dependent/independent student question:

These people were willing to give what they had at that moment when God needed it or desired it,  Some gave their all when they humbled themselves to ask of God what only He can give.

So, what should  my "all" look or sound like?  I think like this:  

  • Happily giving for and to God when He needs it and how He needs it and how He wants it. 
  • Being His arms of love extended out to others by word and deed. Sometimes hospitality is the "all" that he wants from the believer.
  • Putting our faith and confidence in Him, His power and His authority in difficult or humanly impossible situations.