Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

Archive for April, 2008

Part 4 – Trust and Disappointment

Can we really trust God?

C. S. Lewis wrote, “If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were mighty He would be able to do what He wished.  But the creatures are not happy.  Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both.”[1]

Lewis was an agnostic professor at Oxford University when he began to ponder the possibility that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic (on par with a man who imagined himself to be a poached egg), or He was the Lord He claimed to be – the Son of God Himself.  Those possibilities served to jump-start his quest for truth … truth that mattered, not just “in the long run,” but in the eternal run.  Maybe you’ve read some of Lewis’ findings.

I found the quote above, “If God were good, etc.,” in one of his books, The Problem of Pain.  In that book Lewis tackles one of the big “whys.”  (You know what the Big Whys are, don’t you?  Why am I here?  Why do bad things happen to good people? etc.)  In The Problem of Pain he’s trying to wrap his mind around this question: “Why is there pain?”  He asks it in the context of three  theories –  that God is good and all powerful, that God is bad, or that God may be good but not all powerful.

Eventually Lewis arrives at a place where he can say that God is both good and all powerful, and because He is, and because there is structure and stability in the Universe, and because He gave Mankind the gifts of choice and freedom … there is pain.

One of the observations Lewis makes along the way is that we live in a material world in which “nature is fixed.”  

I understand that to mean that fire is fire, a tree is a tree, etc.  That is, the nature of fixed material things doesn’t change from culture to culture, language group to language group.  If we were living a world which varied according to our every whim, we would be unable to act in it.  There would be no stability.  No structure.  No predictability.  Think of a world where one day, for no reason, the law of gravity takes a holiday and then returns the next – but with no warning, ever.

Lewis makes this point, and I add my comments in parentheses:  “The permanent nature of wood which enables us to use it as a beam (say, for construction of a house) also enables us to use it for hitting our neighbor on the head.  The permanent nature of matter in general means that when human beings fight, the victory ordinarily goes to those who have superior weapons, skill, and numbers, even if their cause is unjust.” (my emphasis) (page 24)

I’ve observed, as I’ve lived my life and watched others live theirs, that almost every high has its corresponding low, almost every yes its no.  There is black, and there is white, yin and yang, earth and heaven.  There is order in the Universe.  Tao.  There is a balance to and in almost all things that gives our world its stability.

I write and believe “almost” because if life was totally predictable, there would be no mystery, only the unknown.  There are some things that defy explanation.

C. S. Lewis goes on:  “We can, perhaps, conceive of a world (only in our imaginations) in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by His creatures at every moment: so that a wooden beam became as soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in it the sound waves (radio, or television broadcasts) that carry lies or insults.  But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter in which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted 

to frame them.  All matter in the neighborhood of a wicked man would be liable to undergo unpredictable alterations.  That God can, and does, on occasions, modify the behavior of matter and produce what we call miracles, is part of Christian faith; but the very conception of a common, and therefore stable, world, demands that these occasions should be extremely rare … Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.”  (pages 24-25)

For my friend’s, Ellie’s, sake, I wish there was never again the possibility of suffering.

Until the moment time, as we know it, ends, there will be suffering.

We live on a fallen planet, in a world where evil men can fly airliners into buildings in the name of Allah, where people who call themselves “Christians” can demonstrate at the funerals of murdered gay young men and disrupt the funerals of fallen soldiers, where politicians can lie, where policemen can choose to be corrupt, and where people who advocate abortion “choice” stifle free speech of conservatives on liberal college campuses.

I believe, one day, when time as we know it ends, Jesus will set up a Kingdom that will never end … and suffering will end.  He will “wipe away all tears.”

That’s a day worth living for.

Think about it.

[1] C. S. Lewis, The Problem Of Pain; (New York:  HarperSanFrancisco, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, © 1940; copyright restored in 1996), page 16

 

Part 3 – Trust and Disappointment

Again, if you’re reading this article without reading parts one and two, you won’t understand the context of this exchange.  Please take time to read the previous postings.

After I wrote the long letter empathizing with Ellie, she sent me this sweet response.

hey Lowell…

     i wanted to thank you for your words of real empathy and encouragement… it helps to know that you have experienced the depth of despair that drives one to long for (and seriously consider or attempt) what seems like the only escape in death, and not only survived, but are stronger… and it seems, have gained a closer relationship with god as a result. that is honestly what my heart desires, what i trying to accomplish, and on a good day, what i seem to have a tiny taste of.

    “it was the hardest thing to do – because of the guilt and the pride and the fear of disappointment …. again. I had to trust God. I had to let go”…  yes, this seems to one of my biggest sticking points as well. especially the trust issue. when i am completely honest, at my core, i do not trust god. i do not trust him to protect me, not to hurt me, to love me… and i know much of this distrust is a result of the abuse in my past. and in acknowledging, and seeking to overcome that lack of trust, you would think that eventually, it would be a barrier i would have conquered. no such luck as of yet… still working on that one. but i do know that this is the key to true freedom in my life.

    it seems, for me, such a difficult task to cry out to god with anything more than a desperate “please lord, just make it stop… quiet my head, my heart, my past” in those moments, and while i know this is simply what i am feeling on a heart level, and what i yearn for… i do so wish that he would answer. at least in some way that “didn’t come from my “self-talk.” It was other-world.”

    i do not want to waste my life (as John Piper so eloquently warns against)… in suicide, or in simply existing, chained to my pain and my past, allowing my fetters to prevent me from having that promised abundant life, and bringing glory to god in living that life. i just want torment to end… and sadly, cashing in my chips so often seems to be the best and only option.

    Lowell… i believe in your sincerity and honesty, and i deeply appreciate your transparency and willingness to share some of your story with me. i am going to keep listening for his voice…

thanks for your prayers,

ellie

Then, just a few hours later, she sent this post script:

here is my P.S. note … how would you suggest that i pursue conquering the “trust in god” issue?

Ellie

I felt like a fire was lit under me!  I did my best to explain how I’ve approached trust issues in my life, and some conclusions I have arrived at.

Dear Ellie,

I’ve tried to wrap my mind around the question you asked, “how would you suggest that i pursue conquering the “trust in god” issue?”   I’ve been trying to do that for years now, and I’ve got some opinions.  Here are a few:

I believe to understand “trust” one must understand “disappointment.”  (I’m speaking of trusting people, God, etc., versus being disappointed in or by people, God, etc.)  That is, in your case and mine, because we’ve been so hurt, to understand the positive (trust) one must try to understand the negative first (disappointment).  In my search for answers I went to “disappointment” first because I believed, and still believe, that trust is destroyed/damaged/weakened when we are disappointed, so … how can I ever trust if I don’t know how trust was broken in the first place.

Let me explain disappointment this way, and I think you’ll get where I’m coming from.  To me, disappointment comes from unmet expectations.  If I have an expectation of God, or any other person for that matter, and He/they do not meet my expectation(s), I will be disappointed.  And to guard my heart from the pain of repeated disappointments I will not trust.  I won’t be vulnerable again to that person.

I’m trying to do these word gymnastics  (God, people), so for my sake and yours I’ll just go with the “trusting God” thing.

In our minds (young and old) we have a picture of how God should behave.  When we’re children we have a finite understanding of just how big God is, but we get the part that says, “He can do anything because He’s super-powerful … and He is the most loving Person in the Universe … etc.”  When we’re older, we tend to limit God.  We’re more successful putting Him in a much smaller box, i.e., “He might not be able to do everything, and He may not be the most loving Person in the Universe.”  That “adult” point of view comes from repeated disappointments in our life experiences:  that is, we were not protected when we thought He (God) would protect us; He did not “love” me by giving me what I wanted, when I wanted it.  You know what I mean.

So … when a young girl such as yourself experiences abuse, you would naturally think, “If God is all-powerful, and the most loving Person in the Universe, how could He have let this awful thing happen to me.”  Right?  We are disappointed.  Our disappointment comes from our understanding of how God works, or how we think He should work/behave.  And He did not meet our expectations.

The fascinating thing is – Yes, God is all powerful … and He is the most loving Person in the Universe … and because He is both of those things, He’s a gift giver.  If He can’t give His enormous love away, He can’t be a Lover!  Some people think – “UNFORTUNATELY, God gave the gift of choice to mankind … and because He stupidly gave that gift to us, selfish people use that gift to satisfy their lust(s) for money, aberrant sex, etc., and because God gave away CONTROL when He gave mankind choice, I have been hurt, injured, damaged.  Stupid God!  How could He have been so unloving, as to give people the power to inflict pain upon me????”

Hang with me.  I’m going somewhere with this … I’m just getting real wordy.

God’s dilemma?  How does the consummate Lover give and receive love?  God gives love when He gives us the “power” to make a choice to return love to Him.  The risk?  That the loved one (that’s you and me and the whole world) might choose to love our selves more than Him, and do our own thing, and in turn do our own thing to innocent little girls like you.  God could have created mankind as little playthings.  He could have created a perfect world (He did) and then controlled every aspect of life in that world (He did NOT).  Instead of creating a cosmic doll house, and spending His time moving furniture from one room to the next, and move little puppet people around, God breathed LIFE into man, and said, “I love you, and I want you to love Me.  I won’t make you love Me.  I want you to choose to do it of your own free will.  You are not puppets or robots.  You are like the angels.  You can worship me or not.  Your choice.”

NOTE:  You and I can relate to God’s desire for love returned from a person with a free will because that’s what we long for.  We don’t want anyone to love us because they have to, but because they want to.

As I delved deeper into why God made the world the way He did, and then gave us human beings the gift of choice, it dawned on me, “God risked not being loved.”  Wow!  The most powerful being in the Universe exercised His awesome power to choose by LIMITING His power over us.  He decided not to make us love Him, but to let us love Him if we wanted to.  He limited His control.

And I love Him for it most of the time.  But from time to time I have hated Him for giving mankind that gift.  We are so selfish, we choose to go to war rather than go to the peace conference.  We are so selfish, we choose to abuse little girls rather than value them by saying NO to our immoral desires.  Sometimes I’m ashamed to be a man because so many men use their power to choose to do what’s been done to you.  I hope you will forgive me for being “one of those!”  One of those monsters – those evil, selfish, sexually deviant types.  And sometimes I’m ashamed to be a human being – because we humans are so … so … inhumane.  Ellie, please forgive me.  Please forgive us.

When I look at the Cross where Jesus died, what I see there is the epitome of wicked, inhumane behavior, and I pray, “Oh, God … we chose to KILL You rather than embrace You.  And we didn’t just choose to put a gun to Your head and pull the trigger so You would instantly die.  We chose to torture You to death … to make Your dying last as long as possible so that our hatred for You could be more fully expressed.  At the Cross we chose ‘freedom’ from Your Lordship over our lives so that we could do whatever we wanted to do, whenever we wanted to do it.  God, forgive us.  God … forgive me.”

Dear Ellie, in order for me to trust God, I had to go where I just took you.  It was a painful process … and it took a while.  I had to address my disappointment in God.  I had to identify my expectations, and decide if they were based on truth or fiction, God’s word or my best guess.  It was a humiliating process, but I finally came to the following conclusions, and if my pain-filled life experiences can help you, then I have a greater appreciation for all the shit I’ve been through.  Oh, and let me say, right now I’m living a wonderful life.  It’s based on truth, not fantasy.  I’ve come to grips with my childish thoughts, and rather than keep God in a small box, I’ve let Him out to be GOD!

Conclusions for Lowell:

1.  God so loved the world … you and me and the billions … that He wanted to give gifts (a lover wants to love and be loved, and a giver wants to give), and God’s gifts included the gift of life, the gift of this planet, the gift of others (so we wouldnt’ be alone), the gift of sex, the gift of choice, and the gift of His Son, Jesus.

2.  We selfish human beings have taken all of His gifts, and for the most part we have used them to satisfy our desires.  (There are notable exceptions – Mother Teresa comes to mind immediately!)

3.  FACT:  It was NEVER God’s intention for mankind to abuse His gifts, His love, or each other.  He said so many times and in many ways.  One way was to give us the Ten Commandments.  They were limitations God put on selfish behavior.  His desire was always that we would choose Him, and that we would choose to love others like He loves us … to not hurt other people.  Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God, and the second would follow … we would love our neighbors.

4.  So … while it may be hard to trust people (and it has been) because “they” are self centered, I can trust God because He is actually “ME centered” – that is, He has decided that I’m worth ALL He’s ever given.  And He never wanted me hurt.  He always wanted me to enjoy all He has to offer.  (I put “they” in quotes because “I” am never selfish.  Ha!)

5.  And so … to trust Him requires that I changed my view of God.  That’s hard.  That’s the hardest part.  You may have a view of God so entrenched in your mind that you may have to have a transplant.  (Paul said in Romans 12 that we needed a transformation.)  We’ve got to deal with ideas like “God doesn’t care that I’ve been hurt”  and other real disappointments based on unrealistic expectations that we might have.  We need to understand that we live on a fallen planet.)

Just how do you view God?  And what is that view based upon?  Is your view The Truth?  Have you believed any lies about God?

Sorry!  I got a little preachy there.  I’ve shared a lot of my “journey,” and I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you.  Personally, I think you probably “know” everything I’ve told you at an intellectual level … but for me anyway, until all this stuff went from my head to my heart (the core of my being), I didn’t experience any change that brought freedom from my past and my pain.

Just after I press the “send” button I’m going to get down on my knees and thank God again for His wonderful gifts.  I’m going to worship Him for who He really is, and for all that He has done for me.  And I’m going to lift your name up to Him, and ask Him to smother you with kisses, and warm your heart with His presence.  My wife and I will continue to pray for you.  Live, Ellie!  You have a story to tell and a life to live that will have meaning beyond your imagination.  And don’t take my word for it.  Take His.  In Jeremiah 29, I think it’s verses 11-14 … “I know the plans I have for you (Ellie) … plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Amen!

Blessings, and Aloha!

Lowell

Part 2 – Trust and Disappointment

I hope you didn’t skip part one of the Trust and Disappointment series.  If you did, go back and read it.  It’ll give you the context of this, my part two.

Ten days later Ellie wrote this article entitled “The Bailout”:

the bailout

     here we go again… trapped in endless early morning hours, unable to quiet that within me that cries out for acknowledgement… a measure of comfort… release. this nameless, faceless, sea of anxiety that refuses to cease… and all the benadryl, relaxation techniques, night strolls, and desperate pleading in the world will not silence this beast. 

     and the exceedingly painful reality is that i know what will. i possess knowledge of one the tried and true remedy… something that works each and every time. every cell in my body, with every breath, and every ounce of strength in my being begs for the blade… and the blood….

     and the bailout. 

     but i cannot allow this disquiet to consume me… devouring me, and swallowing alongside… my progress and positive steps forward. there still must exist the light at the end of the tunnel, even if fear chokes its glow for these few hours.

     and so i wait… in hungry expectation for the gift of sleep, or the brilliance of morning, satisfied with whichever comes first.

I wrote my friend the following comment:

Hey Ellie,

I felt your pain today … literally felt it. I related. I empathized. My gut tightened as I remembered the times I wrestled with acute depression – the kind that “begs for the blade.” My heart goes out to you this morning.

One day I was so desperate I imagined how I could make driving my car into a bridge abutment look like an accident – and it shook me up so much I pulled over to the side of the road and started crying. The tears made it impossible for me to drive. And I cried out, “I don’t want to die.” And I heard, inside my head, some words so filled with hope it startled me. It shocked me out of my crying binge, it was so abrupt and real. “Cast all your cares upon Me … I care for you!” I didn’t come from my “self-talk.” It was other-world.

I said, out loud, “I’ve heard that somewhere, but where.” I broke my appointment, drove home, and started scrounging around until I found it.

It was in such an obscure place … but I found it. It was in the Bible, in the New Testament, and it actually didn’t say, “Cast your cares upon Me … ” but it was “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” (King James language, like Shakespeare) I looked it up on an easier version to understand and I got this from 1 Peter 5:6-8: “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

I realized I had a real enemy, and that there was nothing more the devil wanted than for me to die … but I was so prideful. I couldn’t admit that I was in such desperate need to anyone who knew me. I had to maintain this “front.” And the front was going to kill me.

So I cried out to God. It turned out to be the best thing I could have done. I had used people over and over again to “bail me out” of trouble, and I had used people to vent my frustrations … hoping they would have THE answer for my pain. Or I had turned to gifted counselors and doctors, and they helped me tremendously … but there was still this “hole” in me that no expert or professional could fill.

So … I just prayed, “Okay God, I am going to humble myself and ask YOU to bail me out this time. I’m going to give my worries and my pain to You. Please quiet the lies satan is telling me about quick fixes … or NO fixes … and untangle all the lies that I’ve been telling myself … calm the fears and ese the pain in my mind and in my being.”

That prayer was the beginning. I really sensed “someone” heard me. It wasn’t long before I felt better. And I thought, “This crying-out-to-God thing might lead to some real freedom and healing.”

I know that it sounds like I’m suggesting, “Here, take this ‘Bible pill,’ and it’ll all be better,” or “This is what I did. If you do what I did, you’ll have the same result (and then I can write a book about my ‘formula’ for dealing with depression).” I know how it sounds. I’m hearing it, too. But I can’t do much about that. I don’t think if you pray MY prayer, you’ll be healed … and over your pain. What I am suggesting (and hoping) is that you’ll go to God in your own way, in your own time, on your own terms, and use your own language.

And then … the hardest thing of all. At least for me, it was the hardest thing to do – because of the guilt and the pride and the fear of disappointment …. again. I had to trust God. I had to let go. I had to continue to listen for that whispering “voice” that was different than my self-talk. It was “God-talk,” and I could tell the difference. I began to hear the calming and healing voice of God. He’d say, “That’s a lie” if I started telling myself a lie, and then He’d offer something like, “Go for a walk, and I’ll talk to you for a while,” or “Call this person and tell them …” or “Read this,” or “Go to sleep now, and I’ll hold you in My arms and on My lap.”

Ellie. I’m praying for you right now. I don’t have a formula or THE “answer” for your pain. But my heart is breaking for you. I’m hoping you’ll go to the ONE who has your answer, and the key that will unlock your chains and open your cell. And when that happens, I’m hoping you’ll courageously walk into the light of freedom.

Your friend, Lowell

PS. For anyone (including you, Ellie) who might see this, and think skeptically, “This guy has got an agenda … blah, blah, blah.” You don’t know me. And there’s probably no convincing you that I’m sincere and honest. So I won’t try. But if not God, then what? What’s your answer for Ellie. Ellie, what have you tried? I’m just asked you to give God a go.

Part 1 – Trust and Disappointment

This is the first article in a series.  I hope my regular readers will stick with me on this one.  I believe the content will touch your heart, and open your understanding to the complexities of Trust – trusting God and others – and Disappointment – in God and in others.

I have made a new friend after I wrote the article on “Rape and Abuse.”  After I received Ellie’s comments on that article I tracked back to her blogsite and soon we began a personal dialogue.

After several weeks of sharing our thoughts, one with the other, I asked her permission to put out a series of  articles on what we shared, using portions of the correspondence-via-email we had sent each other.  I’ve included her email giving me permission to share our emails below.  Ellie is very generous, and is very open about the challenges she has faced and continues to face.  Check out her site and you’ll see what I mean.  (http://ridmeofmyself.wordpress.com/)

Hey Lowell…

No worries.   Actually at the time I wrote those, I had been trying to figure out a way in which to write you not in the form of a comment. so I am glad that you emailed me the other day… so we could communicate that way.

That said … feel free to use what you wrote to me as an article, and my question as a lead in.   I am sure that there are lots of people out there who would greatly benefit from your experience and insight on the subject of trust … and I would hate for them to miss out.

I am not concerned with people having read my comments … or even having attached my first name, or blogsite with them, or the personal issues I deal with. Hey, it is out there in no uncertain terms on my blog … and I feel comfortable with the level of anonymity the web affords.

So … publish away if you want to, and know that I am all for allowing our struggles to be a bridge for others to know god better. helps to know they are not in vain.

Ellie

Part One:  Ellie’s first comment, and my response:

After I wrote the “Rape and Abuse” article,  I received this comment from Ellie on April 14:

Hey … I stumbled across your post in tag surfer, and felt strongly, as an individual who has struggled daily with the aftermath of sexual abuse/rape, and who’s life has been profoundly touched by both the grace of God and the kindness and compassion of a pastor who walked along side me in that struggle that I needed to say thank you.

Thank you for caring enough to see and acknowledge the depth of pain and brokenness of those around you.  My pastor introduced me to Christ and began with me the slow, painful journey of healing that I still am taking to this day.  He made a huge difference in my life, as I am sure you have done for those in your care.  So thanx … you make a difference.

And yes, I agree with you “that self-imposed ‘responsibility’ for the crime” is often one of the major stumbling blocks to release from the bondage of sexual abuse/rape.  That is true of my own experience.  It is only now, years (and much therapy) later, that I am beginning to allow the truth (about God and myself) to sink in, and I believe this is the path to freedom.

Ellie

I was so fascinated with Ellie’s comment that I went looking for her site.  I found it and read the following article that she entitled “The Promise of Redemption;” she had written it way back on January 18 of this year.  Read it below.  (By the way, when Ellie writes she usually does not capitalize words and pronouns … so you’re reading what I read.)

the promise of redemption

     i spend most of my day in the numbness… functioning when i must and allowing myself to isolate and withdraw when i am not required to, living and breathing and even sometimes laughing. but in the waning hours of the evening and in the loneliness of the newly dawning day i feel. and it hurts.     

     and i wonder how the past and present can exist together in the same moment, and why my head refuses to allow my heart to heal… and how it is possible for my chest to ache so deeply from within because of an eight year old girl who remembers more than twenty years ago, when her heart was broken.     

     and i am utterly alone, caught somewhere been the sorrowful shame of my shadows and the fuzzy reality before my eyes and beneath my feet. this is the precise instant that the blade beckons, promising relief in the red river… redeeming just for tonight, her past transgressions.    

     the blade beckons, and yet the cross calls out to my soul in a soft yet familiar voice … both promising redemption, but only one delivering true, lasting cleansing. only one quenches the depth of my need. but in the midst of my pain, in my raging storm i so often reach, not for abiding truth, but for immediacy… trading living water for a lie that turns to sand upon my tongue.   

       i pray for the strength to turn from that which will never satiate, and to cling to the enduring one who gives life.                                  

On April 14, I responded this way to her comment on my blog article on “Rape and Abuse,” and then I told her how I felt about her blog article:

Oh, Ellie!

After you commented on my article today I searched for your site. (I’m sure that one of the prime motivators was your gracious compliment … I must admit.)

I’m so glad I found your site. You’re honest, and transparent. I even love the language you used to put an exclamation point on your observations.

I’m with you. I don’t think God gives a rip about chocolate, but He certainly hopes we’ll get over the guilt from failures, real and perceived, that tend to separate us from Him. He gives a rip about US! He loves us so much, and longs to hold us to Himself. He went to every extreme to demonstrate that love by sending His Son into the broken world. His goal wasn’t just our “eternal salvation,” but our temporal healing and health. He’s THE Healer for every broken heart.

I feel like a found a new friend when I found your site. I’ll be checking in often. (No pressure! Ha! Relax, and just be your wonderful self. He gifted you, and I believe God hopes you’ll find not only purpose for your writing, but JOY when you write. It’s more than therapy for you, if you even consider it therapy. Your thoughts are therapeutic for your readers … and now your fans.)

Blessings and Aloha!

Lowell

The Times … they are a changing.

There’s such a vacuum of leadership in this country, and in our world.

Jesus had something to say about our times.  His disciples asked Him questions about the future, any “signs” they would recognize that would signal His return to earth, and “signs” that would portend (warn, foreshadow) the “end of the world.”

Jesus gave them the following information (all taken from St. Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 24):

1.  False “messiahs” would come, and would lead people astray.

2.  Wars would break out.  “Nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other.”

3.  There would be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.

4.  Christ-followers would be hated all over the world, and would be “arrested, persecuted, and killed.”

5.  “False prophets” would lead many people astray.

6.  Something “sacrilegious” would desecrate “the Holy Place.”

7.  A time of “great horror” – so terrible that if that time of calamity is not supernaturally shortened (by God Himself), the entire human race would be destroyed.

In other places in the Old and New Testament (Daniel in the OT and The Revelation in the NT) “end time” events are described.  It’s all interesting reading.

One of the striking things that Jesus and God’s prophets also spoke about was the longing for leadership the entire population of the Earth would have in the “end times.”  Right now in America this desire for leadership is very much present.  America is looking to her politicians for strong, intelligent leadership that will prevent economic ruin, and produce military victory.  America is longing for a “messiah.”

Every major religion is looking for a messiah.  What a perfect time for a false one to appear.

Think about it.

Important … But Unreported News

Borrowed from “Winning The Future” (Newt Gingrich) and http://www.humaneventsonline.com.  Photo on the left, Associate Press:  

“Finally, in news studiously ignored by the mainstream media, parliamentary elections in Italy last week routed the Communists and the Greens and marked the third big victory for the Right in Europe after the elections of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“The elections were a history-making win for the party of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.  For the first time since the end of World War II, no one will represent the Communist Party in the Italian parliament.  The Greens were also voted out.

“Michael Ledeen, my colleague at the America Enterprise Institute, points out another significant feature of the elections: ‘Berlusconi is an outspoken, even passionate admirer of George W. Bush and the United States of America.  Reminds one of the elections that brought Sarkozy to the Elysee, doesn’t it?  Best to keep that quiet, or somebody might notice that hatred of America doesn’t seem to affect the voters in Italy, France or Germany.’

“The scale of Berlusconi and the center-right’s victory in Italy opens the door to significant reform for the first time in decades. Could real change be coming to Europe?”

On the front page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch we get a steady diet of local gossip.  You have to search for national and international news reports between whole-page advertisements for companies selling groceries, cell phones, and clothing.  But lest you think my local newspaper is the only offender, check out the Washington Post and USA Today.  You might find this story buried somewhere.

What’s even more disturbing is the way the New York Times reported Berlusconi’s election.  The unelected politicians that make up the editorial and “reporting” team at the Times did their worse to disparage the Italians and the man they elected prime minister.

And I quote:  “Silvio Berlusconi, the idiosyncratic billionaire …” focusing on his wealth because all socialists suspect rich people of becoming wealthy by robbing the poor.  “In a moment of national self-doubt” raises questions about the collective intelligence and fragile psyche of Italy’s electorate.  “Rejecting the sober responsibility of the departing prime minister … ” insinuating that his predecessor was sober and responsible in comparison to Berlusconi’s “… clowning and corruption scandals, his rocky relations with his wife and political partners, his growing hairline and ever browner hair …”  Good grief!  No hinting here.  The New York Times doesn’t like his politics, his attitudes, his marriage, or his hairline.

What really irked the Times was that Berlusconi knocked out the Italian Democratic Party’s nominee for the office of Prime Minister.  They defended the DP nominee by saying that there was “no difference” in the proposed solutions each man offered to the Italian people, but that Berlusconi won on style points and personality.

As our world shrinks and our politics and human issues become more “global,” it looks like the only real source of news continues to be the Internet.  At least on the Internet you can hear a variety of opinions.  I’m so tired of the slanted “reporting” of the Socialist Party (read mainstream media) in our country.  They don’t hold elective office, these (ironic, isn’t it) billionaires.  They dictate the news.

Freedom to the people!

Lowell’s World!

I’ve been working on “Lowell’s World” – a web site that tells more of my story.  It has photos of trips and events, a brief bio, a link to the Vicki-Dancing With the Healer site, and some fun stuff.  I hope you’ll visit it.

This weekend I’m speaking at a church … actually preaching … for the first time in a long while.  Last November my pastor asked Becky and me to share our story at a special Thanksgiving day service.  That was fun!  But the last time I preached was last June – so it’s been almost a year.  Please pray for me tomorrow – April 20th.  All I want to do is “deliver the mail,” not pursue my own agenda or satisfy my ego but deliver the message God wishes to communicate to the congregation I’m visiting.

As far as my future as a pastor … that’s on indefinite hold.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be the lead pastor of a congregation again.  Most likely I’ll be an associate, serving alongside a lead pastor.  I’d love to be someone’s go-to guy, or “man Friday” (see Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe), but I’m waiting.  Who knows what I’ll be doing a month or a year from now.  Hopefully I’ll be finished with the creative side of Dancing With The Healer!!

Love to all!