I Love That Guy!


So many people seem to be able to relate to the apostle Peter. His zeal for Jesus coupled with his failures at critical times make him a beloved figure in the Bible. Everyone has experienced the “high” of Peter’s passion and the “low” of his failures making him someone who we can easily empathize with.

 

One of the things that Peter speaks about we have all experienced in life: suffering.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3-7

Suffering and persecution can cause either growth or bitterness. The response of the individual determines the result. Since no one  is exempt from suffering or persecution, it is important for us to learn how to successfully navigate these realities. Successful navigation of suffering and persecution is the primary lesson of First Peter.

Peter begins his letter by pointing out a reality as powerful as the certainty of persecution. The reality he speaks of is important to the navigation of suffering.

First, he reminds the believers that:

  1. They are equipped to handle anything they face.

The trials of the present or those in the future have already been seen by the foreknowledge of God. Nothing catches Him off guard. God is not making plans “on the fly” but has a plan for (let’s make this personal) you that is from all eternity. God has seen every move by the enemy in advance and has already prepared His move that brings about “checkmate”. You are the elect of God. That means you are chosen for this moment. You are chosen to overcome this moment, not to be defeated by your sufferings. You have been born again which means every aspect of your character that would spell defeat for you has been broken off of you and you are being sanctified by the Spirit of Jesus. The very aspects of Jesus that brought Him through His time of trial victoriously are being worked into you at this very moment! You are covered by, washed in, and regenerated by the blood of Jesus! You are not facing what you are going through as “Parkey Cobern: sometimes ok and sometimes not”, you are going through this as a regenerated child of God under the authority of the Spirit with goodness and mercy running right beside you! You have died to what defeats you and are alive to the power of God!

  1. They are guaranteed to win!

Let’s make this personal again: Peter reminds us that we have an inheritance reserved in heaven for us that cannot be messed up by Satan or you: an inheritance that cannot lose its value over time, like some 401K weakened by bad circumstances, nor is can it just disappear on you like some of the people and things you value in life. Your victory and the accompanying spoils are kept in heaven for you, guarded by a God who has already kicked the devil out of heaven with no chance of his interference in the future!

To overcome whatever you are facing, it is essential that you remember that your victory is assured!!!!!

  1. God, not the devil is in control of how “hot” things get!

To successfully navigate persecution and suffering, you must realize that God, not the devil is in control of how “hot” things get in your life! If you believe Satan is controlling things, then you will get discouraged because you know how full of hate he is. But, if you know that God is in control of your trial, then you realize that love is actually controlling your fate and that the trial is destined, not for your destruction but to work toward your growth and the promotion of God’s glory!

Verse 5 tell us that we are “kept” by the power of God through faith for salvation to be revealed. This is an important statement. The word “kept” means that we have a military like guard around us which has been authorized to use whatever force that is necessary to ensure that the will of God is done in our lives! Do you see them? They are present and will fulfill their mission!

Verse 5 also states that our faith in God is assuring an outcome for us known as salvation. The word “salvation” means deliverance! The outcome of your situation is deliverance!

Another truth of verse 5 is that this deliverance is destined to be revealed! So, when you put this all together, you know that:

I’m equipped to handle anything I face!

My victory is guaranteed and reserved for me!

God, not the devil is in control of what is happening to me!

I am guarded by angels authorized to use whatever force necessary to fulfill the will of God!

Deliverance is my destiny!

In the perfect time, I will see the manifestation!

 

I Am Rich


Hey, everyone! Hope you are doing well this week Just felt like talking for a few minutes.

It’s a cool morning here in DFW today. Cold front came through last night. Love the change! Makes the coffee even better in the mornings! What is it about a good cup of coffee in the morning? Not sure I can describe why it is so wonderful but I thank God for this simple pleasure.

Had a new grand daughter recently – Grace Magdalene. She is my fifth grandchild under the age of six! It’s crazy when we all get together, but its a good crazy, you know? I used to wonder what it would be like to have grand children – would I feel the same about them as I do my children? Well, the feeling is very strong – I love those little ones! I thank God for them! I don’t have a lot of money nor am I rich in things people in the US consider riches, but I feel rich when I spend time with those kids!

My wife – she sure is something special. I’ve never met another person who has such a heart to serve others. She routinely takes care of an elderly woman in town who is 92 years old. The lady’s only son passed away in a plane crash years ago and she has no relatives in town. My wife buys her groceries and bathes her and takes her to the doctor and out to the cemetery to see her son’s grave. My wife is an inspiration to me – she is an example of how we are to treat others. I thank God for her. She makes my life richer.

I know that there people out there who read this blog regularly. I don’t know why you do. I don’t take any credit for anything that comes out of this that might encourage someone and I mean that sincerely. I do take time to visit many of the other blogger sights. I have fallen in love with many of your lives. I won’t mention names here because you may not want me to, but my heart goes out to you. I do pray for you when I read your struggles. I thank God for the wonderful things I have seen happen in your lives. You make my life richer because when I read your writings I get to feel the love God has for you.

I’m 56 years old – almost 57! I have seen the ugly side of life. I have shot myself in the foot so many times. I have experienced losses. I have seen things disappear because of my own stupidity and because of the uncertain nature of life.

So, everything has not always been rosy. But, I have appreciated grace much more because of the pain I’ve experienced. Rain always smells better after a drought. Thank God for the rain. I now realize that what used to make me depressed has a purpose in life. It may not be my favorite season but winter does have a purpose. I know a lot of things necessary to life happen during winter. But, if nothing else, it makes me appreciate spring that much more! I’ve not always been able to – but I thank God for the good and bad. Now, I’m a little more seasoned and what I’ve been through created a bridge to others – to feel with them and to love them and to want to hold them when they hurt. It surprises me but my pain has enriched me. I thank God for that.

Rich. I am rich. My riches can’t be put into a bank or calculated by an accountant as personal wealth, but I am rich.

The Art of Gratefulness


This week has been a week of reflection for me. Don’t know why – nothing in my world is causing this streak of nostalgia. My mind has just drifted to several things that I’m extremely grateful for. When you walk with Christ, gratefulness should be a normal response to life.

No, not everything that happens is a cause to jump up and down with joy. Bad things do happen in life and those bad things are not limited to evil people. Bad things happen in the lives of “good people” as well. I don’t know them at all, but my heart literally broke for the couple who lost their two year old son to an alligator attack on vacation in Orlando Florida. Bad things can happen in this imperfect world in which we live…..unimaginable things.

That’s why I am so happy for the truth of God’s Word which says:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

This is the hope that keeps me sane.

It doesn’t say that all good things work for good…..it says all things – bad and good work together for good to those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose. When bad things happen, if you love God and live for His purposes, you can KNOW that whatever happens; even the unimaginable is working mysteriously through the redeeming power of God to bring about good for the sufferer.

This truth is not meant to diminish the loss – to make you forget it or to make you jump up and down with joy at its effects. It is meant to comfort the sufferer with the knowledge that God doesn’t waste the pain you go through – that Satan never truly wins a battle when engaged with God’s children. This place is not heaven and it will not be free of pain until Jesus returns and casts the evil that is poisoning it into the lake of fire. But, when you pay the ultimate price, it is not forgotten before God. The cost is laid up before Him and, in His love, He turns the pain into an opportunity to help others who truly believe that no one can relate to what they are going through.

The topic is gratefulness. Did I digress? Maybe, but the topics of redemption and gratefulness are related.

I’m grateful because I remember that life carries no entitlement within it; no matter how much I wish it to be so. Therefore, when I receive something I didn’t deserve, I am not complaining or bragging, I’m sincerely grateful to God. Entitlement breeds ungratefulness and a focus upon self.

I understand that tonight, while I am grieving my losses, there are mothers in Africa who face the death of their malnourished children. There are families who don’t have what I have and families who are going through similar circumstances as mine – and some going through much worse. I am not alone in this journey of praise and pain.

For that, I am grateful.

What can I do? Pain is a cry that often awakens compassion. I have a choice: I can curse my life or I can allow what is bad to awaken me to those falling around me. No, this does not diminish my losses but it does redeem them.

I have experienced times of great pain. But as I look back, I can also say that I serve a God who has taken that pain and used it to bring me to a higher place than I have ever been.

I’m grateful for the people He has used along the way to help me. Some went through similar circumstances as mine. Others, who hadn’t been hurt as I had where there to pick up a hurting person and nourish them back to life.

Who has helped you see that there is a pathway ahead when the darkness is so deep you cannot see it?  Be grateful for those people.

I remember one family who helped my wife and I and my kids when we where going through a difficult financial time. They paid my wife a full salary from their business for three years and she didn’t work a day for them! They even paid our way to Hawaii for a change of scenery out of sheer kindness. There are so many who have given this man a cup of cold water when things got too hot to bear. I am deeply grateful for them all.

Behind these beautiful people; through these beautiful people, I see God reaching for me – refusing to allow life to swallow me up. When I thank God for those He has used and ask Him to bless them for their kindness to me, I can’t help but fall before the Father of comfort and the God of all compassion since I know that every good and perfect gift originates in His heart.

We can rage against the evil and get into magical thinking about life’s unfairness or I can grasp the hand of God being extended to minister to me.

Bad things happen to all. Life has no prejudice when it comes to pain. Some have suffered greatly. While acknowledging the pain of our loss, we also look for the appearance of redemption. Without this hope; without this confident assurance, our pains get the better of us. I place what I have lost in trust that I will see it another day. I allow God to take the rod of affliction used to batter my life out of the hand of my enemy and place it in my hand to be used as a tool against my enemy as he tries to destroy the lives of others.

My loss is redeemed by extending it to others as a lifeline in their pain.

Lord, thank you that the unimaginable can take on purpose. I’m grateful that my hurt is not wasted. Thank You, that what I have lost I can meet again in a place where love rules and thieves can not break in and steal.

Thank You.

I’m not entitled but I am blessed.

Hidden Behind a Flower


I have three grandsons. I sure do love these boys!! They are Pop’s buddies!

I used to wonder how different the love I felt for my grandchildren would be from the love I have for my children. Now that I have both in my life, I really can’t tell any difference between the two: I love them both the same!

Presently, none of my grandsons live close to me. I noticed a few years ago that when I thought of the boys, a sensation of deep pain accompanied my feelings of love for them. I began to seek God; at a loss as to why I was feeling pain when I thought of the boys. God revealed to me that there was something hidden in my life; something I didn’t realize was there until a situation arose that brought it to light. I wanted my grandsons to know how special they were and how much they are loved, but I didn’t fully trust anyone to transmit that sense of security to them: the only person I fully trusted to do this was me.Since I could not be with them all the time, I felt a sense of failure and loss. That is where the pain was coming from.

This revelation showed me that I had areas in which I needed healing. You see, I was once the little boy who wasn’t so sure that he was valued and loved. So, I had made an inner vow that my children and grandchildren would never struggle with that feeling and accompanying sense of emptiness.

The problem with a vow is that the onus is on the one making it to ensure the vow is kept.

When my grandchildren moved away, the ability to fulfill the vow was threatened. Therefore, I felt the sense of failure, loss, and pain because I was not living up to what I had vowed.

Vows are a dangerous way to change circumstances and people. They depend upon the power of the person making them and they also depend upon ideal circumstances for their fulfillment. No one can “overpower” life so, when it gets in the way of the fulfillment of the vow, fear and a sense of failure appear, accompanied by a feeling of pain.

The outcomes of judging people are usually not good ones. Take me for instance, I couldn’t make a vow that my grandsons would not experience what I experienced without judging those who failed me. Jesus said this:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Matthew 7:1-2

I can take an honest evaluation of my life. I can decide that I want to live differently than I am. But, to depend upon my own power and control to bring that to pass will cause me to end up a failure like those whom I have judged inadequate.

Change through judgment is not what makes me different: submission to godliness is the agent of change! God has the power and wisdom to change me. My efforts end up in hypocrisy.

Pain is not a good purpose for living.

If you are pained by what should bring you joy, then, maybe you have judged yourself or others. The resulting vows can actually wall life out and pain in. Living to avoid disaster is not a pleasant way to live.

Thank God for revealing to me the vows that I had made and healing me of the pain of my loses. I trust Him to give my grandsons a knowledge of His love and I’m grateful He has used me in that endeavor. But, I am not “Captain Everything to Everyone”. I release that pressure and trust  a loving Father!

The Friend Called Sorrow


2  Corinthians 7:10: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

It seems as if only a masochist would call sorrow a friend. In truth, I don’t believe that any one, including myself wants to jump into the front of the line to experience sorrow. We recently had prayer in our church for people that were experiencing sorrow over things occurring in their lives. Many more than I expected responded to the call for ministry. Generally, sorrow is a negative term to us. We associate it with pain and truly, it is usually brought on by some form of pain.

But, the Bible teaches us that, at a general level, there are two kinds of sorrow. I’d like to look at the difference between the two.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul spoke of these two types of sorrow. I believe that the two types of sorrow mentioned can have much in common. For instance, they both begin with pain. They often have the same source pain as their point of origination. In other words, worldly sorrow and godly sorrow could begin with pain from the same source; i.e.; death of a loved one, failed expectations, etc. It is not the source that makes one sorrow worldly and one godly, it is where the sorrow leads that defines them.

When we experience pain, sorrow is not our enemy but the messages we accept and responses we take determine where it leads. Worldly sorrow comes when we sorrow with no hope – when the pain or loss we have experienced sends a message to us that things have changed for the worse and will never get better. When we receive and believe these messages, the hopelessness that accompanies them brings death to our emotions and, if not dealt with, can culminate in death spiritually and in some cases, physical death. I’ve seen people experience the death of a spouse or a child and literally give up hope. Some even die soon after their loved ones. I’ve seen some experience a loss and then kill themselves. I’ve seen others simply give up on having anything good happen in the area that they experienced the loss in. Some purposely choose bad alternatives because they have lost hope for anything good.

Godly sorrow may begin with similar origins as worldly sorrow, but the outcome is much different.

The reason being that godly sorrow is processed through the Bible and the Holy Spirit and through these agents, hope remains alive. The word of God tells us in Romans 8:24-28:

“For we are saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Look at this!

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

In the midst of sorrow, the Holy Spirit is working to strengthen us and to turn what has happened around to bring us something good. This revelation brings us hope in the midst of sorrow. Even when we are the source of our pain and sorrow because of personal failures, we have a dear friend called “repentance” who opens the door for us to deliverance.

That’s the difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow:

Godly sorrow opens doors. Worldly sorrow closes them.

You may be experiencing some sorrow right now. What form will it take? Where will it lead you? Allow the Holy Spirit to rule you in the midst of sorrow and you will find a door open at the end of the hallway – one that you did not even know was there!