The economic times we are living in are rougher and scarier than Rosie just before getting bikini waxed. With our national cash crisis comes a bazillion other ancillary spiritual and physical spin-off problems. As a columnist, talk show host and minister I’m now getting my inbox inundated with emails asking me how to spiritually field this mucked up mess we’re mired in (that’s how bad it is . . . people are asking me for advice).
What follows is my attempt to Dr. Phil you folks thru this crap-laden crunch we’re currently getting crushed by with seven hard learned lessons about God and life from the last 25 years of getting my butt kicked.
*Note to rabid atheists: This column (to become a book under the same title) is written to the heaven bound Christian who is currently going through hell. Yeah . . . it’s not for you. You might want to read Thus Spake Zarathustra or something for encouragement.
Here are seven observations and exhortations to help us keep plowing through tough times.
1. Jesus Promised Pain.
Jesus said in His first YouTube lecture, the Sermon on the Mount, that “storms” are coming to everyone, Christian or not. Note: Jesus didn’t say if storms come, but when they come. I know it sucks, but that’s reality. At least He gives us a heads up, eh? Also, Jesus didn’t forewarn us of tame storms on the horizon but “squalls” so violent that if you aren’t well founded on His word that your house could be destroyed. How we have built our lives is revealed in the storm.
2. Are You Gonna Cowboy Up or Lay There and Bleed?
Modern evangelicals by and large are an emasculated group of Nancies who make mountains out of molehills. We aren’t like our scriptural forefathers who were hardy and rowdy, tough followers of a rugged God. We are wussies pastored by wussies who grumble and complain when something pinches our flesh. This is a problem because demons love warfare, the flesh is incorrigible, and God’s demands are high and holy—and we love Pepsi. To get through hell the first thing the believer has got to do is shut up, suck it up and grow a pair.
3. It’s About Character, Stupid.
People have said over the years that there are two things you never want to see made, and that would be laws and sausage. I’d like to add a third to that list, namely Christians. Watching God process a believer from a dweeb to dynamite is about as fun as watching Blagojevich blow dry his hair. God’s not in the least bit interested in your carnal comfort but in His crafted character reflected in your life. Y’know . . . who you are at your core, who you are when no one sees, the habits of your heart, all that stuff that gets avoided by the modern feel good pulpits nowadays. Being originally from West Texas and growing up around a lot of cows and crops, I learned at an early age that cow crap helps make plants grow. God allowing the poop to hit the fan in our lives is the only way to produce the fruit He likes.
4. Don’t Blame God if You Brought This On.
I created most of the hell in my life that I have had to go through. I’d love to blame others—even God—but if I have to be honest, I spawned most of the monsters that I have had to deal with. Yep, my rebellious nature, my past hatred for God and His ways, and my innate stupidity has blown through the checks and balances of the Word of God, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the communion of the saints and has landed me facedown in the mud. There is no way I can fault God or the devil for 99.9% of the stuff that has happened in my life. What about you?
5. Solomon Says, “Relax.”
Solomon states in the book of Ecclesiastes that one of the keys to surviving the brutalities of life is to relax . . . chill . . . drink some wine . . . and have a good laugh. When one begins to go through the meat grinder of life, the first thing to vanish is joy. Joy is serious business because according to God, without it we’re oh so lame. You and I won’t be able to stand against difficulties without getting happy in God. Yep, without the gravity-defying virtue of joy cranking through our spirits we won’t be able to pray the fuzz off a peach. Fickle and vapid Christians disobey the command to rejoice in all things, and God means all things—this entails all non-yippee stuff. Consequently, they don’t transcend their transient trials, and God has no other recourse but to send them around the mountain again until they learn the power of laughing their butt off in the face of adversity.
6. The “Gift” of Hell.
Y’know, I hate to bring the Bible into this, but according to the book of James, the Christian is commanded to view trials as a gift. A gift? Please. Go sell crazy somewhere else, thus says the narcissistic saint of the new millennium. The postmodern, puny dwarf Christians only regard as gifts that which further augments their immediate wants and needs. To have something come into their life that would rock their self love boat is seen not as a gift but as a curse. However, according to God, that which is meant for evil can be turned into good if you realize that this little pain in the butt has come into your life to test your faith, purge your heart and reveal God’s mighty power. Joseph’s road to the throne was routed through prison, twice. He didn’t whine, cry, or become a Buddhist but rather embraced the gift of going through hell and subsequently was eventually exalted. How are you doing?
7. Once You’ve Made it Through “Hell”, Don’t Become a Jerk.
God exhorted Israel to remember that they used to be slaves in Egypt. It’s prudent for the believer and profitable to the church for the person who has weathered storms not to become an insensitive jerk but rather a sensei who shows others how to navigate life’s tricky streams. And don’t get too comfortable or cocky just because you’re currently out of this storm because the NOAA weather system says another tropical storm is brewing out in the gulf, if you know what I mean . . .