Why Not “Butter Side Up”?

April 23, 2018

We all know the old question, “When dropping a piece of buttered bread, what are the chances it will land buttered side up (or down)?”  And, of course, the answer is it almost always seems to land buttered side down.

This saying goes along with a dozen or more other related sayings such as, “When it rains, it pours”, etc…

But, what if that could be turned around?  If the odds are that the piece of bread lands buttered side down, why can’t the odds turn the other way, and it land buttered side up?  What’s to prevent such a change?  Probably, just us…

In order to ‘crack’ this requires a readjustment in how we think.  It’s not a matter of which side the bread lands on, but a matter of perspective.  I’m not saying you can simply ‘think away’ your problems, or that the ‘power of positive thinking’ solves every issue.  I am saying that in order to get a firm grip on the ‘buttered bread’ issue, requires us to change our thinking.

Consider the ‘Battle of the Bulge’….

The World War II battle in Europe, known famously as, “The Battle of the Bulge” illustrates my point.  Short summary for those unfamiliar with this battle.  Germany is losing the war on both the Eastern and Western fronts to the allies.  This is a desperate time for the German army and they must do something ‘big’.  They plan an offensive with massive troop numbers and tanks and succeed to push through the Allied defensive lines, creating a ‘bulge’, hence the name.  To the Allies this was a disaster, and a visible victory for the Germans, and for awhile it looked very bad.  When General Patton got involved he took a different view, however.  His general view went something like this, “This is great.  This will end up being a great victory for the Allies, as the Germans will have nothing significant to fall back on after we win this battle.”  In other words, most of the Allied leadership saw this move by the Germans as a defeat and setback, but General Patton saw it as an opportunity to soundly defeat the German army and win the war.

So, who was right?  Well, it largely depends on how you want to look at it, doesn’t it?  We did lose a large number of good men in this battle, and that is never a good thing.  However, in the larger scope of things, Patton was undoubtedly correct, as the Battle of the Bulge was Germany’s last great offensive of the war, and they surrendered to the Allies less than 5 months later.

So, what am I trying to say?  I’m certainly not saying that bad things are good things, and we just need to ‘keep our chin up’, or ‘look on the bright side’.  I am saying, that sometimes things may look bad, and seem bad, and feel bad, but in the end they may turn out differently than we expect.

We certainly want the victory, don’t we?  Of course we do.  But, without a battle there can be no victory, and no battle is pleasant.  Rather than wishing we could do away with all battles, maybe we should be finding out better ways to fight and win the battles that do come our way.

Have I figured it out?  Do I have this concept mastered?  Hardly…  I’m still in school, and the knocks are hard and painful, and I still make plenty of mistakes.

I do, though, sometimes wonder if Christians are praying ‘amiss’ – “Dear Lord, remove all battles from my life and make them go away.”  This is not likely to happen.  Has that prayer worked for you lately?  No.  Maybe a better way of approaching this might be, “Dear Lord, give me the strength, the wisdom, the courage, and the skill necessary to fight and win the battles ahead of me.”

This does not mean you will come out unmarked.  You may have mud smeared on your face, your clothes torn, your knees scraped, you got scratches on your arms, and you are tired.  There may even be tears in your eyes, but you are victorious, and in the end that will be all that will matter…

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Why Kill Jesus?

April 20, 2018

For brevity we will dispense with the solid studies already done over the centuries dealing with the spiritual battle between the Devil, God the Father, and Jesus that occurred during the time leading up to the crucifixion and day of crucifixion.  We will also dispense with the reasons why the Romans consented to the unlawful condemnation and judgment of Jesus.

Instead I will focus this posting on the purely ‘human’ motives behind the actions of the chief priests, Pharisees, and scribes.  Why did they want Jesus killed?  Certainly, it was not because they understood He was the Christ.

Before I get into the motives of the Jewish leaders, it is important to note that the Devil did not actually torture and kill Jesus.  However, it is clear he was working behind the scenes in providing reasons, justifications, causes, fears, and motivations for the people who were responsible for Jesus condemnation and crucifixion.  He doesn’t ‘force’ anyone to do anything.  He does provide the ‘fuel’, however, in various forms such as fear, thoughts of jealousy, greed, vengeance, pride, power, and a host of other human vices and weaknesses.

So, for the Jewish leaders to take Jesus, try Him, condemn Him, and sentence Him to death, there must have been sufficient reasons.  The reasons don’t have to be true, accurate, or substantial, but they provide the justification for the actions.

While the Jewish leaders had many reasons for wanting Jesus dead, there are a few that I want to cover in this posting that don’t get much ‘air time’, primarily because they are tucked away in a few areas of scripture that I’ve never heard taught about, or preached about.  By doing this I will give you something to think about, and search out on your own.

Probably the biggest motivating factor behind the Jewish leadership’s desire to have Jesus killed was simply this – FEAR.

In order to understand their fear requires us to know a little about their situation.  Israel was under Rome’s thumb.  This meant that the Roman army, governors, and civil leadership was run and controlled by mostly Romans.  However, not everything was directly controlled by the Romans.  The Romans controlled the Jews by creating alliances with the Jewish leadership – priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducee’s, and of course, the High Priest himself.  Through these alliances the Romans could indirectly control the Jewish nation.  Not that this was a ‘love’ relationship, by any means.  It was a relationship of ‘convenience’ and ‘necessity’, fueled by greed, power, position, and of course, convenient necessity.  A means to an end.

Fear of losing this relationship with Rome, and its leaders, was one of the major contributing factors to why Jesus was killed.  Can I substantiate this claim?  John 11:47-53 explains this better than I can.  Basically, there was a real fear that if Jesus was allowed to continue that those in Jewish leadership would lose their relationship with Rome, and its leadership, and all the ‘perks’ that went along with that.

What kind of ‘perks’ are you talking about?

Consider just one fact – the High Priest lived in a palace!!  Where in the scripture do we read that the priests, or even High Priest, lived in a palace?  That’s right – nowhere.  But, given the close relationship with Roman power, a palace will do rather well.  No wonder Jewish leadership was fearful of Jesus.  He threatened:

  1. Their relationship with Rome leadership
  2. Their high lifestyle and benefits – think palace…
  3. Their control over the Jewish people

In brief, Jesus threatened to turn their world upside down, and therefore, must be stopped at all costs.

Of course, all this was a fulfillment of scripture, and part of the master plan of God.  But, from a strictly ‘human motivation’ standpoint, it is interesting to see why the Jewish leadership was so intent on seeing Jesus dead.

In order for the Devil to get people to do what he wants them to, he must manufacture a plausible ‘reason’.  He must give them a reason why any action makes sense.  These reasons tend to have roots in the ‘dark side’ of humanity – greed, lust, pride, envy, jealousy, anger – from which thoughts come the actions: murder, theft, violence, etc…

It was insufficient for the Devil to plant in the Jewish leadership’s minds that Jesus was simply a ‘dangerous’ man.  No, it had to also include the fear that Jesus, if allowed to continue, would turn everything upside down, and disrupt their relationship with Roman power and all its associated privileges.  After all, the High Priest would be very unhappy if he had to give up his ‘palace’….

That’s Not Exactly What I Said

April 13, 2018

Have you ever been misquoted?  Someone takes your words, and with a slight twist or misinterpretation turns them around completely.  In some cases, you might even say, “That’s not exactly what I said.”

But, it happens often, and not just with people.  We will take God’s Word, and apply our own interpretation to it.  Worse – we will sometimes tell Him what He said, as if to cross-examine a client and prove our case.  That is not wise, unless we know exactly what we are talking about, and what He was talking about.

And, that can be a problem.

The Pharisees and Sadducees, the scribes, the chief priests, and others had a hard time understanding God’s Word and the things Christ talked about.  They even argued with Him, (not a wise thing to do), on many topics.  In short, they tried to state God’s word, but the result was not exactly what He said.

If we are not careful we can run into the same problem.  We quote the Word back to God, “But, God, you said such and such..”, and we expect Him to submit to His Word.  And that is fine, but you better not misinterpret or misunderstand, or leave any words out.  People generally do not respond very well when their words are misquoted or misunderstood.  I somehow think God may be the same.  Of course, God is more tolerant of some things than we are, and He is certainly more patient than we are.  But, just to be safe it would be recommended we know exactly what we are talking about, before we accuse God of not keeping His Word.

Who Do You Pay Attention To?

April 3, 2018

If one were to pull away from our day-to-day hustle and bustle and somehow elevate ourselves so that we could look down on our daily activity, what would we see?

What are the things, and people, we pay attention to?  What are the things, and people, we avoid?  Who are we happy to see, and who are we ‘pained’ to see?  Who are the ones who only want something from us, and who are the ones who are always giving to us?  Who are the ones encouraging us, and who are the ones causing us grief and pain?

It makes perfect sense, from a human perspective, to show more attention to those who make us happy, or who can make our lives more enjoyable.  The ones who might always need our help, therefore, sometimes go on the back-burner of our ‘to-do’ list.

It’s not too hard to understand things from a human perspective, but what does God think, and how does He act?  Who does He pay attention to, and who does He avoid?  The best answer we have for those questions comes from reviewing the actions of Jesus recorded in the gospels.

During His three and one-half years of ministry, Jesus had many things on His ‘to-do’ list.  Each day was filled with people, places, travels, and activities.  He was busy teaching, correcting, healing, and performing a variety of miracles.  What is most interesting, however, in Jesus’ recorded history is not those things that were on His calendar.  It was those things and people that were not in His schedule.

Now let’s put this into perspective.  If you were the Son of God, on a mission directed by the Father, would you allow yourself to be interrupted from your normal schedule?  Who would you allow to have access to yourself and your limited time?  Could just anyone approach you and take up your time?

From what we can gain from reviewing the gospels, anyone, with any cause, could gain access to Jesus.  Although, there were times when His disciples tried to discourage ones from gaining access, we find that Jesus was not pleased with their actions.

We can find no ‘filter’ that Jesus used to determine who might have access to Himself.  Rich, poor, sinner, saint, high authority, no authority, healthy and diseased all gained access to Him.

What does this tell us about God?  Can anyone gain access?  Do you have to possess special credentials?  Do you have to be a certain status or position or have wealth?  Does He only grant access to those who are believers?

What can we take away from this?

  1. God can accept anyone, even those we think are not worthy
  2. God’s rules are somewhat different from ours.  We put lots of distinction on wealth, position, fame, even righteousness, not understanding that even the unrighteous can gain some audience with God
  3. We could learn a few things from just reviewing who Jesus accepted.  Who gained access to Jesus?  Virtually, anyone who had the drive it took to get into His presence.

Actions, Words, Thoughts

April 1, 2018

One of the signs of growing Christian maturity is in the area of self-control.  But, this is not a single effort, or single goal, as if to say, “I now have self-control”, but like many things it is a process.

One of the first areas we typically work to bring under control is our actions.  This makes a lot of sense, as it is often our actions which bring immediate, negative response from those around us.  It is also true that often actions, once done, cannot be easily reversed, and in some cases can never be reversed or corrected.  So, from a practical standpoint it makes perfect sense that we work on our actions as a starting point.

But, there are additional things that need to be brought under self-control – like our words.  It could be argued that words misspoken at the wrong time, wrong place, could do as much, if not more, damage than actions.  It is true, that words can make lasting impressions, and cause much long-term damage.  It’s not just the words that are spoken, but there are things to learn in when to speak, and when to say nothing at all.  Knowing what to say, when to say it, and when to be silent all fall under the general category of self-control.

Finally, we come to ‘thoughts’.  Some might argue that everything really is controlled from the mind including words, actions, and thoughts, so why don’t we just start with the mind and cover all the bases with one blow?  That is a perfectly good approach, but in reality it doesn’t seem to work out quite that way.  While it is true everything originates from the mind, it tends to work better when we can rationalize and separate the various issues into compartments, rather than just creating a general category and dump them all it at one time.  To put it simply, we do better when we can take things a step at a time, and let the Lord guide our progress.

Now back to ‘thoughts’.  If I had to guess where many Christians are today, it would be that they have made significant progress in controlling their actions and their words, but still struggle with the ‘thoughts’.  We can refrain from destructive actions, and from saying words that we might regret later, but the ‘bad’ thoughts often remain.  Why is this?  I think the simple answer is because actions and words are public, but thoughts are private, and because they are private they are hidden from view, so no one really knows but us.  So, while I may publicly act and say nice things towards someone I dislike, my thoughts are bad.

This disharmony between actions, words, and thoughts, however, is destructive to our well-being.  The conflict it raises destroys our chance at peace, calmness, and serenity.  The solution – we must master our thoughts as well as our actions and words.

All this sounds well and good, but you cannot control thoughts as easily as we might control our actions and words.  They won’t just go away because we tell them to.  It’s a bit more complicated than that.  While they cannot be dismissed or caused to vanish, they can be transformed.  But, this will not be an easy or trivial task.  It cannot be done half-hearted or willy-nilly.  It takes concentrated effort, awareness, and help from the Spirit of God to do this.  But, it can be done.  For sake of brevity I will only use one small example of what I’m talking about.  Take the thoughts you have regarding your ‘enemy’.

I’m not talking about the Devil here, but about someone who you consider to be your ‘enemy’.  This person has caused you harm, distress, discomfort, destruction, etc…

How in the world can you transform your thoughts toward this person?  The answer is really simple – you must transform them into your friend.  Now, understand – it would be wonderful if we could actually turn enemies into friends, but it is not necessary that they actually become physical friends, although that would be nice.  What is necessary is that in your own mind, they are no longer in the ‘enemy’ category.  How can this be done?

I know of only two things that work – prayer and practice.  Praying for your enemy will begin the transforming process.  But, a single prayer is not going to do the trick.  Practice, or repeated prayers, will, though.  By doing this you will transform your bad thoughts, but it takes time and patience.

 

Strange

March 16, 2018

Life is, what shall we say – strange.  Although, the ‘experts’ will tell you all kinds of things about life, it still ends up being a bit strange and a mystery.  While we understand many things about life there still remains a large portion which is hidden from our view.

Perhaps, that is why much of Ecclesiastes sounds distressed and somewhat depressing.  Of course, we know that Solomon wasn’t in the best frame when he wrote Ecclesiastes, and most scholars attribute his depressed writing to the fact that towards the latter portion of his life he was drawn away from God by his various marriages to women of foreign pagan cultures.  But, that really doesn’t tell the whole story of Ecclesiastes.  You see, according to the scriptures, Solomon was the wisest man ever.  Past or future.

What does ‘wisdom’ have to do with Solomon’s writing?  Everything.  You see with great wisdom comes the ability to ponder, to think, to take apart, to understand.  But, there’s one tiny little problem —

Much of life, at least from our standpoint, remains a mystery, and a puzzle that has no answer, or at least, an answer we can understand.

Even people who think they have everything figured out, and who are, at present time, sitting on top of the world.  Their world can come crashing down in a few moments time, and all the kings men, and all the kings horses cannot put it back together again.  For most of us, life is a series of events, some good, some wonderful, some tolerable, and some just plain bad or painful.  Although we would like to believe we are in control of our life, the reality is we are in control of very little.

Now before you think I’m writing a real ‘downer’ of a posting, and wonder what kind of shape I’m in – ponder this.  Is what I’m saying true or false?

Now before we lose hope, we also need to understand a few other things:

  1. While life may be a mystery, and we have no complete control, God is still in command
  2. Large portions of our life, if not all of it, will only make sense when we enter eternity
  3. While we may not understand or comprehend the events in our life, God has a plan, and that plan includes us, and what happens to us
  4. Much of God’s plan for our life may have little to do with us, but involves our interaction with others
  5. To avoid mental anguish and needless suffering the best way forward for us is to submit to God’s plan, and stop trying to figure everything out
  6. The basic rules have remained the same, and are understandable by everyone – 1) love God, 2) love your neighbor

 

 

Bless You, Peter!

January 30, 2018

As I do many times in this posting, you will find the phrase – “Bless you, Peter!”.  This simply my way of saying hurrah, Peter!, or giving him a proper salute for a job well done.

Folks have many different views of the Apostle Peter.  For the most part I believe that our Christian view of Peter goes something like this:

He was impulsive.  He acted before he thought.  He spoke out when maybe he should have been silent.  He jumped into things, without fully appreciating the risks or costs.

And all those claims would be true.  But, Bless you, Peter, for letting us know what it means to be a leader.  Bless you, Peter, for not being afraid when everyone else thought it safest to stay in the boat.  Bless you, Peter, for wanting to build a tabernacle on top of the mountain, when you didn’t even have the proper materials or tools.

Bless you, Peter, for jumping into the water and swimming to shore to meet the Lord, when everyone else thought it best to take the boat in.  Bless you, Peter, for running out of money, and thinking it best to give the man what you had left, Jesus, and healing his infirmity.

Bless you, Peter, for at first resisting the attempt of the Lord to wash your feet.  Then after finding out it was necessary, deciding you needed to be washed from head to toe.

Bless you, Peter, for falling fast asleep on the eve of your expected execution.  Bless you, Peter, for grasping the core concept of Christianity, that it was not just for the Jews, but for everyone.

Bless you, Peter, for preaching a message to the unsaved, even after you had denied the Lord, and failed Him.

Bless you, Peter, for going into the tomb, although this was against Jewish tradition and teaching concerning the dead.

Yes, bless you, Peter, for being the man God chose to lead His newly born church, and to set an everlasting example of the power of commitment, and of action, even when it was risky or unproven.

Still Kicking!

January 12, 2018

In many zoos you might find signs that say something like, “Do not feed the animals!”  But, why?  It seems like such a good thing to give the animals (both caged and free-roaming) a bit of your hot-dog or hamburger?  The answer is simple – while the animals enjoy the ‘snacks’ given by visitors, they are generally unhealthy for animals, and more importantly, they build a dependency that might eventually harm the animals.

But, as humans, we might do better if we had a sign around our neck that read, “Do not feed the beast!”.   This sign would not be so much for other people, but as a constant reminder to ourselves, as we are often our own worst enemy.

Well, of course, it would be important to know exactly who the ‘beast’ is.  In this posting the ‘beast’ refers to those things that hinder us from following and fulfilling the plan of God for our lives.  It could be almost anything, and I won’t go into the details, as that would only detract from the core message.  Be assured, however, we all have a number of ‘beasts’ that yearn to be fed.

If we feed the beast, it grows larger.  And at some point, it may become so large as to completely consume its feeder.  The beast plays no favorites, and doesn’t care of your gender, age, nationality, or importance.  The fact is – the beast is harmful to our relationship with God.

So, can I ‘kill’ this beast?  Ah, wouldn’t that be a simple answer?  And so painless, but alas, no, it doesn’t work that way.  You cannot simply snap your fingers and your beasts flee, and never bother you again.  I know of only one way to master the beast – starving.

That’s right – you have to stop feeding it.  By, refusing to feed the beast you will ultimately gain the victory over it.  Continue feeding it, and it will master you.

But, there is a problem….

Typically, feeding the beast brings momentary pleasure.  Momentary, because the long-term effects of feeding the beast are tragic and hardly pleasurable.  On the other hand, starving the beast and refusing to feed it brings momentary discomfort, but long-term benefits and enjoyment.  But, since we live in an ‘instant gratification’ type of society starving the beast seems a less satisfying answer and hardly worth the momentary pain and suffering.

What happens if I try ‘starving’ the beast and fail?  You get up and try again.  As long as you are trying your attempts cannot be labeled as complete and utter failures.  Failure is only a reality when you stop trying.

In 2011 my wife was talking to my mother-in-law on the phone, as was her daily practice.  Shortly after this conversation my mother-in-law passed away.  My wife had one of the final conversations with my mother-in-law which went something like this:

Wife – “How are you doing?”

Mother-in-law: “Well, I’m still kicking!”

‘Still kicking’, and moments later in the arms of Jesus.  This is what it means to keep trying.  As long as you are ‘still kicking’ you are doing what you need to do to starve those beasts that keep you from doing the things you need to do.

Liked, Disliked, Ehhh

January 5, 2018

Most people have a distribution of friends and acquaintances that might look something like this – Out of 100 people:

10 – Like you

80 – are “Ehhh” towards you (don’t particularly like or dislike you)

10 – Dislike you

If you are very fortunate the numbers might look more like this:

40 – Like you

30 – Ehhh

30 – Dislike you (yes, well-liked individuals tend to have more who also disfavor them)

If you are very, very fortunate the numbers might even look like this:

60 – Like you

10 – Ehhh

30 – Dislike

But, imagine for a moment how it might feel if your numbers looked like this:

10 – Like

10 – Ehhh

80 – Dislike

This might have been where King David was when he wrote Psalm 13:

How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.

I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

David is not depressed, but he is disturbed.  David is not despondent, but he is feeling the pain of rejection, of feeling oppression, of facing resistance, and feeling the pressure of enemies that want to see him destroyed.

David is fighting the good fight, but he feels somewhat isolated, alone, and he needs God to come to his aid.

There are going to be times when our numbers are not good.  And, there are going to be times when even the numbers don’t tell the whole story.  You may have 10,000 friends, but if they are never around, or never available, or don’t have time for you, then you don’t have a lot, do you?

And then there are times when there is really nothing wrong with the relationships in your life, but from your view you just can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It all looks dark, with very little upside.  In fact, this may not be reality, but to you ‘it is real’.  After all, what we experience, and how we feel is very subjective and different for each individual.  One individual may feel blessed getting a new car, while another may feel just as blessed getting good bread to eat, and clean water to drink.

For those facing these dark places I have a suggestion for you:

Take time and read the first 10 chapters of Psalms.  In these few verses you will find you are not alone.  In these few verses you will find a man who poured his heart out in writing and in prayer to His God.  In these few verses you will find a man who faced unbearable adversity, enemies, those who desire him harm, and even problems from his own sin.

But, in each passage you will also see the thread of hope, of faith, of reaching out to the Creator.  He may be weak, and he may only have a few breaths left, but with the little strength he has left he reaches out to the Creator in praise, and petition.  He acknowledges his dependence on Him.

Here’s the challenge.  I’m going to make this real simple.  I want you to read again the first 10 chapters of Psalms, but I won’t press you to do it if you don’t want to.  Read Chapter 1, and then if you want to quit you can.  If not, then read Chapter 2.  If you’ve had enough then you can quit.  I have a strong feeling you will want to continue, for this is not the writing of an ordinary man.  This is the writing of the man God called, “a man after my own heart”.

Rabbit Ears

December 29, 2017

Years before Internet, Cable TV, satellite dish, or fiber optic hookup, we had TV’s that either had an external antenna or “rabbit ears”.  Rabbit ears was the term used to described the twin telescoping antennas that adorned many TV sets.

Reception was hit or miss, with lots of snow and interference.  Each station (channel) had their own location and broadcast antenna, so changing channels usually required adjusting the rabbit ears for best reception.

Of course, those days are gone, and those who were born after 1970 may not even be familiar with the item or term.  But, it does serve as a good illustration when trying to describe how we view the events of our life.

Imagine the events of your life are like different stations.  Each time you change the channel you might need to adjust the rabbit ear antennas to get the best possible reception.  If you don’t adjust the rabbit ears, then all you might get is ‘snow’, instead of the TV program you were hoping to watch.

In this posting we can compare the old rabbit ear antennas to our own attitudes and analysis of the events of our life.  It’s not hard to take the good things that come our way, but it can be challenging to deal with the bad things.

It’s also pretty easy to tell the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’.  ‘Good’ things help us, benefit us, improve our lot, give pleasure, feel good, and brighten our days.  ‘Bad’ things cause us pain, sadness, despair, and other associated things.  But, there is a small problem with this simple analysis.  We think we know what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’, but often those things are hard to determine, especially at the time they are happening.

Joseph being thrown into a pit, and sold as a slave by his brothers is a ‘bad’ thing.  There is not one pleasant thing about this event.  But, through the course of time, circumstance, and the will of God, this ‘bad’ event turned out to be ‘good’.  Now, let’s not make any mistake here – the event described above was not ‘good’, but it was turned into ‘good’ by God.

Thus, we have a problem.  Those events in our life that we have determined were ‘bad’, unpleasant,  painful, and sad, might be turned into ‘good’ things, when God has control.  In brief, if we could really deal with the truth – we are not in a good position to determine if an event is good or bad.

I will retell a story that I’ve told before.  Years ago, I was pressed by my employer to learn new techniques, new technologies that I had no desire to learn.  I chaffed at the job, it was painful, and caused me considerable discomfort.  I struggled and dragged my feet every step of the way, because I didn’t want to go in that direction.  Time passed, and now for the past three years I’ve been using nothing but what I learned during that painful period in my life when I was ‘forced’ to learn new things.  In fact, my very existence at the moment depends on my skill and knowledge of those very things I despised.

Now were those things ‘bad’ or were they ‘good’?  Well, it felt ‘bad’, but it turned out to be ‘good’, in fact, very good.  But, this does illustrate my point that we are not always in the best position to determine what things are ‘good’ for us, and what things are ‘bad’ for us.  Just because something feels unpleasant doesn’t always mean it is ‘bad’.  And, conversely, just because something feels pleasant doesn’t always mean it is ‘good’, either.

And, now for a summation….

The truth of the matter is simply this, and is expressed clearly in Romans 8:28:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Because we cannot see the future, and therefore, understand everything that happens to us at the time it is happening, we must yield ourselves to the plan of God, and know that Romans 8:28 is true.