Monthly Archives: November 2013

Even Billy Graham Has Problems!

Billy Graham
One of the things I like to do is read in bed before I fell asleep. One night, about a year ago, I was reading Billy Graham’s autobiography, “Just as I Am”. He wrote it in 1997 at the age of seventy-nine. Today Billy Graham is 95. He recently gave his last sermon on television entitled “My Hope for America”.

When I started reading Billy Graham’s book one night in bed I was startled by what he writes in the introduction. He says it has taken him 10 years to write the book because he was still busy preaching the gospel all over the world. His next sentenced is what startled me. He found it difficult to write because “I have had to deal with numerous problems, including several illnesses and accidents”.

When I read that last sentence I put the book down. Didn’t read anymore. In fact, I have still not read beyond the first couple of chapters. Mmmm…. Billy Graham has problems too. I guess I was surprised. Somebody as spiritually successful as Billy Graham deserves better treatment during his later years. Doesn’t he? Shouldn’t he be allowed to go to his grave without “numerous problems, including illnesses and accidents”.

There are some days I feel overwhelmed with numerous problems. In that one aspect, I am in the same company as Billy Graham! As God’s children, don’t we sometimes think that God owes us a better life? After all I have been such a good Christian! (Oh what an evil thought this is!).

God tells us:
“In the world you have tribulation…” (John 16:33)
“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God”. (Acts 14:22)
“The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth… but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves”. (Romans 8:22,23)
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you” (1Pe 4:12)

Thank you Billy Graham for admitting that you have problems too.

Syd McCrorey

Why are you so surprised?

Surprised woman isolated against white backgroundNot to long ago, having a very anxious day. Anxious about not being able to go to work because I wasn’t feeling well. If I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid. Couldn’t afford to take a day off. What do I do?

The Holy Spirit prompts me to sit down at the Kitchen table and read the book of I Peter. Peter’s letter is addressed to suffering Christians. He seeks to breathe hope and direction into their souls. That is what I needed.

As I read the book the Spirit was speaking to me about the wrong direction of my heart. My heart was surprised that I was having so many troubles. Surprised that so many things were going wrong in my life. Surprised at the health problems, I was expecting good health. Surprised at my financial problems, I was expecting a decent, stable income. Life should not be this way! After all, I have been serving the Lord for 50 years as a Christian.

I Peter 4:12-13 smote my heart: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which come”s upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing…”

Don’t be surprised! Don’t be surprised when things go wrong. When your children rebel… don’t be surprised, don’t think something strange has happened to you. When a loved one dies, don’t be so surprised that God has allowed it. Why are we so surprised when churches decline and split? Why are we so surprised when divorce happens, when relationships sour.  When you lose your job…. don’t say to yourself, “This is strange. I am so surprised that this happened to me!”.

Jesus said it to his most trusted disciples: “In the world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”.

When things go wrong, Don’t Be so Surprised!

Syd McCrorey

The Life That Came From Heaven

There is deep in every human soul a longing, a desire for life.  Real life! A satisfying life.  A life free from too much pain and disappointment.  A life with close, caring relationships.  A life that I enjoy.   A life where I have a decent amount of money, at least more money than bills.  If I am honest, a lot more money.  A life where most of my dreams and hopes come true. We want the good life. However we define it.

A few years ago I participated in Larry Crabb’s School of Spiritual Direction in Colorado Springs, Colorado.    In our small group time we were asked to share our definitions of life and death.  What feels like life to you?  What feels like death?  What feels like, deep in your soul, you MUST have in order to taste real life.  My answers to those questions shocked me.  As a pastor, life was having a successful ministry with lots of love and respect.

Jesus Christ comes into the world from God the Father and announces to the world:

“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst… For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world” (John 6).

Life can only be found in Jesus Christ.  Father be merciful to me for thinking that life can be found in the blessings of this world.

Syd McCrorey

Discovering God When Things Go Wrong

where is God

A few days ago I arrived home after a week in the hospital recovering from surgery.  Miserable experience. I would use a stronger word but nice Christians don’t say those things! Nothing like sickness and pain to force you to take a hard look at yourself and the God you claim to know. In the middle of the night, I pray over and over, “Lord, why is there so much suffering in the world?” (Perhaps this was a nice cover-up for, “Lord, why are you letting ME suffer?”)

Also thought often about a phrase in the Bible “the outer man is decaying” (II Cor. 4:16).  Yep! That’s true!  My body is decaying.  Faster than I want it too! Can’t stop the decay.  Didn’t really think too much about the rest of the verse. “But the inner man is being renewed day by day”.  Completely forgot about the beginning of the verse, “Therefore we do no lose hope”.

Hope? When you feel sick, can’t work to pay the bills, the body is decaying? In the last couple days, my body gives my mind enough focus to read and reflect. Who is this God who allows me to feel pain? Hope demands an accurate understanding of God.  My reflection on who God is aided by listening to my friend Peter Spear’s messages on Hosea and  Joel in the Bible.

How wonderful to learn God is a lover, wooing me back to himself. When I am wondering after  other lovers for satisfaction (money, health, friends, etc)  God raises up  a wall of thorns in front of me, wooing me to turn back into his arms alone (Hosea 2:6,7). Reading Hosea the day of surgery, I can feel God the Father, wooing me back to himself.

A week later I discover something about God that disturbs me.  He sometimes  brings “wave after wave” of problems into the lives of his children.   Just like waves of locusts that swooped down and stripped clean Israel’s wheat crops (Joel 1:4).  This was their livelihood! What kind of God is that? I reflected on my past year.  Indeed, it was one wave of problems after another.

A couple days later I discover the Most High God has made us a wonderful promise. The promise is first made to Mary before Jesus is born:

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Wow! The Son of the Most High God entered our world, took on Himself our sin and pain. The Son of the Most High will enter our world a second time.  His Father will give him a Kingdom.  The Son of the Most High, reigning in His Kingdom, will banish all sin, suffering , and death forever.  God cares!

So no matter how many things go wrong, we do not lose hope.   Jesus coming with a brand new kingdom.  Our spirit is growing stronger and closer to Jesus while we wait for that wonderful day.

Finding New Hope and Direction

Niagra

Before crawling out of bed this morning, I reach for my Kindle and start reading a devotional from Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening”.   He was commenting on I Peter 5:7 “Casting all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you”.  Good, challenging thoughts to start the day.

Not long after breakfast, I am starting to feel “yucky”.  Diabetes is once again messing with my mind and body. Functioning at work today doesn’t seem possible.  What should I do?   I am restless.  I am starring in space. I am downing coffee, hoping it will wake me up. I try reading a few pages from The PAPA Prayer (by Larry Crabb).  By noon, great anxiety is overtaking my soul.  (Don’t work, don’t get paid! I NEED to get paid).  Pacing the floor in my apartment, I talk to the Lord about the jumbled mess in my heart.

“Casting all your anxiety on Him” floats through my mind again.  There is a prompting to sit down at my kitchen table and read through the entire book of I Peter.  Peter’s book is written to God’s children who are experiencing real suffering.  They are persecuted, driven from their homes, living in foreign countries… extremely stressed, suffering, and anxious.  What is Peter going to say to God’s people in their pain?   They need hope and direction.  My soul needed hope and direction… I was sinking fast.

The first thing I notice is that Peter’s soul is exploding with worship… “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…”  Wow! This really caught my attention.  When things go wrong in my life I am a reluctant worshipper.  I just go through the motions of worship.  Peter worshipped. Finding hope and direction starts with worship. Please God give me a heart of worship, instead of a heart that demands better treatment!

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Overcoming Anxiety

anxiety

All of us experience stress and anxiety.  Maybe a stronger word should be used: suffering.  Sooner or later all of us will suffer to one degree or another. Even if you have been a good Christian, went to church, and believed in God.  The apostle Peter wrote a letter to a group of suffering Christians.

In my first post, I wrote about my amazement that Peter was worshipping God in the midst of his suffering.  “Blessing the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is the first step on the road to finding new life and direction when things are going south.

Peter is excited about something else… his future treasure in heaven. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ  we have a living hope… “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:4).  My heart rarely thinks about or gets excited about my treasures in heaven.  Most of the time my heart  is consumed with solving life’s problems… keeping and accumulating my treasures on earth.  Good treasures like…. financial security, health, satisfying relationships, etc.  There is an assumption deep in my heart that if I want to really enjoy life I MUST HAVE have these things. My dreams for the future must come true.  Anxiety comes when my dreams are being threatened by difficult circumstances.

The Holy Spirit is telling me to rejoice over my treasure in heaven.   Rejoice! If you are Christian, you  have an eternal treasure in heaven.  Even if you lose everything you love on earth, you still have an eternal treasure in heaven.  Fix your hope on that.  Peter’s advice to you, “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (IPeter 1:13).

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