Don’t Waste Your Pain

macbook pro displaying group of people

I heard a preacher say, “God never wastes our pain.” The moment I heard this, it resonated in me. This statement is true. And, as the way God works, I had just finished reading:

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. – Acts 14:19-20


The apostle Paul suffered much for the cause of Christ. Most of his Christian life, he was a man on the move. I relate to that. During my career, I traveled all over America and around the world. I can’t tell you how many times I would be someplace and longed to share it with my wife and kids, but they were home, and I wasn’t. Sorry, that’s a rabbit trail.

The apostle Paul suffered. He was a man on the move, ministering in places that had never even heard of Jesus. Paul wrote:

and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see,
    and those who have never heard will understand.”

– Romans 15:20-21

The Prison Epistles

Paul was a man on the move, but God locked him up in prison. Can you imagine how painful this must have been for Paul? No longer could he get back on the road to visit and encourage the churches he planted. So, from prison, Paul wrote. And from Paul’s pain came Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Without these four Prison Epistles, we would not have:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.Ephesians 2:8-9

Now let’s turn our attention to you. If you’re a Christian, what pains do you have? Now name one. “I have a broken marriage.” “My child hates me.” “I have cancer.” Now that you’ve pulled your pain out of the clutter in your mind, pray, and ask Jesus to show you how to use your pain. Ask Him to give you opportunities to use your pain for the good of others.

Let God use Your Pain

Yes, ask our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, to heal the cause of your pain, but don’t let your pain be wasted. This same preacher said, “Do what you can with what you have where you’re at.” If you have pain, then that’s what you have. Ask God to use your pain.

Be bold in your faith in Jesus. It’s okay to say, “I’m a Christian. I have MS, and I’m scared.” But don’t go on that journey alone; don’t waste your pain.

Talk to people, go to support groups, and say, “I know Jesus is with me and He cares for me. I’ll pray for anybody that’s scared.” Put yourself out there. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Life is in you, even if you’re dying. God will use your pain to point others to Jesus, to pour hope into people that desperately need hope.

Don’t linger in your pain, but until your pain is gone, let God use it to help people.

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The monotheistic “We”

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 

2 Corinthians 13:14 (ESV) 

A while back, I watched a documentary produced by Jews about Jewishness. The show was fascinating but sad. Oh, how we “goy” (i.e., Gentiles) have persecuted the Jews since their dispersion.

If you know someone that is Jewish, consider apologizing to them, for surely somewhere in your ancestry “you” (and I) have badly mistreated Jews. Anyway, in this documentary a Jewish leader affirmed that Islam is monotheistic but implied that Christians are not monotheistic because we believe in a triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He then made a remark that has been rolling around in me ever since. He said, “Three? Why not four or five?” 

My human response to his comment was a desire to meet him and explain that the God he serves is the true monotheistic “We.” While it is true that God did not openly reveal His triune nature until the New Testament, it is also true that once revealed, we, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, have been able to go back to Old Testament Scriptures and discover the truth of the Trinity in passages that previously were opaque to this truth (see Daniel 3:25). When Jesus came into the world, the trinity of God was revealed. 

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?   

John 14:8-9 (ESV)

In Christ’s reply to Philip we find the monotheistic “We.” Jesus tells Philip that He is God and God is one. Notice that Jesus does not say that “Father” is another name for Himself. It is clear that Father God is unique. In fact, when Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He started with, “Father, hallowed be your name.” (Luke 11:2) So, obviously, Father God is not Jesus, but Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus is teaching Philip that there are not gods, only “God,” but God is a monotheistic “We.”  

To drive the point home that Jesus is man and Jesus is God and God is trinity, let us consider one more passage of Scripture, John 8:50-58

Jesus said in John 8:50Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Notice that Jesus declares that His Father’s motive is to glorify Jesus, His Son. 

In John 8:54, Jesus answered the Pharisees, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ Notice that Jesus openly declares that God is His Father. Jesus plainly says that God fathered Him.  

Then in John 8:58, Jesus declares, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” From Strong’s Concordance’s Greek 1510, “am” means “exist.” So, Jesus said, “I exist.” No beginning or ending, 

This is a clear reference to Jesus’ eternal preexistence. Since this is an attribute of God alone, this text is a forceful statement of Jesus’ deity. The present tense of the verb suggests the eternal present of God’s eternity. “I am” is also reminiscent of God’s name in Ex. 3:14 (vv. 24, 28).

R.C. Sproul, Reformation Study Bible 

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) And, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14) Amen!  

Photo by Dave Herring on Unsplash

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The Love of God

a muilt-colored fence with the word love painted on it

We love because he first loved us. – 1 John 4:19

God’s love is the wind under my wings. It is His love that lifts me, sustains me, and carries me. As I glide along these currents love, it is He, my Lord and my God, that directs me, reveals to me and empowers me to fulfill those works that He has appointed me to do. And by His power and His authority those works are accomplished; none is mine and none carry my name upon them. They are His which gives me immeasurable joy.

This song, “When God Ran”, sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, is one that will “bless your socks off.”

Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

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Amish barn raising

It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When a dad sees his son or daughter playing at sweeping the deck or a mom sees her child standing beside her mixing imagination while she mixes the ingredients for a cake, their hearts just about burst with joy. 

Our heavenly Father is the same way. All people have some measure of creativity because we all are in the image of God. But, when we are reborn, the Holy Spirit comes and lives within us; the God of all creation comes into these jars of clay.

God’s Creativity in Us

When creative God abides within people made in His image then marvelous creativity bursts forth. Yes, I’m talking about you! Let’s see God’s creativity in three passages of Scripture:

For by him (the Son of God) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:16

And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. – 2 Samuel 6:14

“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” – Jeremiah 18:2

Emulate God’s Creativity

God’s Word affirms His creativity. God’s Word declares His pleasure in His people emulating His creativity. Just as their child’s imagination blesses a parent, so God is blessed when His children dance and sing and paint and create pottery. Let’s not forget that before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He was a tektōn. Most Bibles translate this Greek Word to mean carpenter, but this Greek Word was a common term for an artisan/craftsman– Wikipedia

God wants His children to be creative. When we are, we are worshiping the Creator. So, receive this liberty from God. If God has given you dance, then dance. If He has given you musical skills, then use those to glorify God. If God has given you artistic skills, skills to paint, sculpt, sew, craft wood, or clean tombstones, then do so to the glory of God. Whatever creativity God has placed in you, be emboldened to use it. That’s why God gave it to you. Use it in honorable ways; ways that pull people to God the Creator.

Be Confident

Are you unsure of what creativity God has given you? You can glorify God through the use of software or farming or auto repair or custodial work. Wherever God has placed you, He has provided the means to be creative, ask Him, seek His provision, knock on the door of His opportunities, and you will receive. And the God who created everything that is seen and unseen will be pleased when you imitate Him.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash, picture of an Amish barn raising.

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person cutting paper that has the word envy printed on it

Our world has lost all respect for the things of God. From casual sex to envy, these and more are free from our society’s concerns. What kids espoused in the 1960s, “Free Love,” and transcendental meditation, has now thrown Godliness into the trash heap of history and has filled the resulting vacuum with lies, Godless rhetoric, and content-free promises.

Today, I was on one of my go-to sites for Bible study when I saw the following advertisement:

One of the Seven Deadly Sins

 Within Catholicism, envy, a synonym for coveting, is one of the Seven deadly sins. And within all of Christendom, envy is denounced because it is specifically called out in the Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:17 – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

It’s not shocking to me that the kids of the greatest generation have cast off the Godly constraints that allowed the one true God to bless America, for that is the way rich kids behave who’s parents worked their way out of poverty. 

Kids of the Greatest Generation

Too much, too soon, too easily, are the hallmarks of the nouveau riche. For those of us that still believe that there’s a heaven to gain and a hell to shun, that have placed our faith in the resurrected Son of the living God, whose hope lies not in this world and its accolades but in the glory of heaven which has no sun for the glory of God is its light for us, we are to be holy for God is holy

For us that are in Christ Jesus, by faith children of God, to casually receive and allow worldly sins which the enemy of God uses to damn those made in God’s image, to allow those sins to permeate our lives, now that is just unacceptable and needful of repentance.

Whew. I hope you recognize my passionate plea as one grounded in love and my desire for all of us to have a deeper life with Jesus. Amen.  

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

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A Square Peg

square peg in a round hole

The majority of people that founded and formed our country were either God-fearing or God-leaning. However, it has been a long time since America began. Our society has undergone profound changes. Still, the truth is that Christians have never fit into any society. For God’s people to be considered immoral and dangerous to society is not new.

A Square Peg in a Round Hole

Christians have always been the square peg in this round world. Jesus was called the devil (Matthew 12:24). Matthew warned us that if they called the master the devil, they would call us worse things (Matthew 10:25). The Jews said, “Well, we’ve heard about this sect, Christianity, and it is spoken against everywhere.” (Acts 28:22). Peter said we would be called evildoers (1 Peter 2:12).

It should be apparent to everyone willing to look into the matter, that Jesus and His Church were never meant to fit into this world. The reason is not that Christianity is somehow wrong, somehow malformed, defective, or insincere. No, the fault is not the square peg, but the failure is with the round hole.

The Fault is With the World

The fault for Christ’s Church not fitting into the world is that the world is in a fallen state. This world has collapsed. It is malformed and, therefore, unable to receive God’s holiness, His righteousness, His salvation. His Son.

Therefore, be confident that we are not unloving, uncaring, or insensitive when we speak the truth of God. It would shock us if we, as ambassadors of Jesus, witnessed humanity shouting, “Amen!” to God’s Word. Each truth of God confronts humanity with their separation from God. We are, as God’s Word says, the smell of death. (2 Corinthians 2:16)

Defective Christians

The truth is that we are defective Christians if we do fit into this world. If we can pass through each day perceived as regular people, as upstanding members of our community, then we have failed Jesus. Why? Because Jesus said:

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. I they kept my word, they will also keep yours. – John 15:20

What we need to say to our neighbors, to our family, to our friends, is not unloving, unkind, or untrue. God’s truth is like a surgeon’s knife. We know the truth, the Spirit of Truth lives within us, so we need to speak it. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Truth is the only hope for people bound by sin.

Christianity is not Immoral

It’s not harmful or unloving or immoral to say, “God’s commands are necessary, useful and healthy for us, they are not harmful. Consequently, they are not immoral. It doesn’t matter what the world says. What matters is God’s truth.

What we say and how we live matters more to those around us than it does to us. We have received Jesus. We have been saved by grace through faith. We are secure in Christ, not so our worldly neighbors. It is for their sake that we speak God’s truth, suffer injustices, endure mistreatments, and are called immoral. These are but mere annoyances to us, but they proclaim to others that there’s something we have that makes it worth enduring these attacks that could easily be avoided. Through our rejection, others can see Jesus.

Photo credit: rosipaw on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

FYI: A deeper article about this topic can be found on desiringGod.

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King David

View of king from behind

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love you, LORD, my strength. (Psalms 18:1)

There is a big lesson in this small introduction to Psalms 18. Even when King Saul was personally trying to murder David (1 Samuel 19:1), notice in Psalm 18:1 that Saul was not listed as his enemy. In fact, King David begins this Psalm by saying, “I love you, Lord, my strength.” David turns his heart to God. How wonderful that is.

King David was pragmatic in his statement that the Lord had delivered him from the hand of Saul. He knew the score with Saul. Still, David didn’t count Saul as an enemy. David was guarded when it came to dealing with Saul because, by God’s command, the prophet Samuel had anointed Saul as the king of Israel and Judah.

Made My Way Blameless

David went on to write in Psalms 18:30-32:

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?— the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.

David could not have said, truthfully, “and made my way blameless” unless he had treated Saul respectfully, even when God had already determined that Saul would lose his throne.

What’s the takeaway from the introduction to Psalms 18? It’s that as followers of Jesus, we need to guard our thoughts. Whether it’s about politics, the refs for the Super Bowl or sister so-and-so’s shoes needing polished, we should be pragmatic but also understand where the line is between our business and God’s business.

Photo by Paweł Furman on Unsplash

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Science is not God

I was reading a prayer that Martin Luther King Jr. prayed. That man could pray. In his prayer, he prayed:

We are mindful, O God, that man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of things and humanity is not God. Bound by our chains we know we need a Savior. We thank thee, oh God, for the spiritual nature of man. We are in nature but we live above nature.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

One of the myriad things that trouble me is the idea that science is above God. If given a choice between trust in science or trust in God, I think most people in Europe and America would choose science. Not Martin Luther King Jr., though, because science is the study of nature, but man is above nature for he has a spiritual nature.

I closely follow science and only theoretical scientists speak in absolutes (those are the Sheldon’s of the world). The scientists that work in the applied sciences nearly always couch their comments in “should,” “perhaps,” “maybe,” and “expected.” They understand that humanity knows almost nothing about God’s Creation. 

One Example

A quick example of the instability of science can be found in the study of DNA. Nearly all scientists have (had) reached the point where DNA was old science, that was until 3D VR of DNA (“Step inside your DNA”). Oops,  genes are also turned on and off by physical interaction between specific parts of DNA. Well, that wasn’t expected!

However, the message of God’s desire and intent to reconcile humanity back to Himself is consistent, clear, coherent, and cohesive from Genesis all the way through the Book of Revelation, spanning thousands of years. So, who should we place our faith in? Should it be science with its instability or “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4 NIV)

I think we often don’t trust God because we measure Him with the yardstick of man.” – G.W. Moore 

Photo by Bruno Aguirre on Unsplash and Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

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Who Am I?

a sign with a question mark on it

Who am I, that the lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?
– Casting Crowns

There are approximately 7.8 billion people on Earth, and the average human head (an average scalp measures approximately 120 square inches, or 770 cm²) has about 100,000 hair follicles (Gray 2003). – Quora This means that at any one moment there are 780 trillion hairs that God is keeping track of (Matthew 10:30).

If God cares enough to sacrifice His Son to offer you salvation and if God cares enough to impart to every believer the Holy Spirit of God (John 14:15-17) and if God cares enough to keep track of the number of hairs on your head, then be encouraged. hen be encouraged for God knows who you are.

I hope this song by Casting Crowns blesses you today.

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

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The Ear

an ear with posts and pins

We read in Proverbs 8:29, “when he (the LORD) assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth,” 

A Boundry

I spent many years managing technical people, and an essential part of my job was hiring the right people. Many of my job candidates came through employment agencies. Both the agent and I worked together to make sure the agent understood the skills that I needed, and I appreciated the difficulty they faced in finding that person.

Down through the years, I worked with many highly professional agents. But occasionally, I’d get a clunker. Usually, the first indication was when the agent would “drop by” without an appointment, or they would invite me to lunch and “happen” to have a candidate with them.

Hiring is the single most important decision a manager makes. Therefore, it’s critical to follow a formal process so that every candidate receives the same opportunity to win the job. I dropped agents from my roster that regularly violated the boundary between employer and employment agent.

God’s Boundry

God, too, has a boundary when it comes to getting God’s ear. We see this in (John 9:31): We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 

You may not be able to get a Hollywood star on the phone or get the governor of your state to reply to your text, but you can have the ear of the God of all Creation if you do His will, and that begins by receiving salvation through His Son, Jesus!

Photo by K I L I A N 📷 on Unsplash

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