Joy in Suffering

I’m not really sure who reads this blog each week.  There would be some who read this that I may not know very well, while others of you fully know the struggles and challenges my family and I have been facing lately.  Ironically, I remember saying something to my wife about  2 months ago about how well everything seems to be going in every aspect of our life together.  It is almost scary how suddenly things can change for the worse.  How can it be that James would even try to tell us to “count it all joy” when we face all kind of trials?  Why would Paul also tell us in Romans 5:3 to “rejoice in our sufferings” and “give thanks in all circumstances” in 1st Thessalonians 5:18?  The icing on the cake is (and applicable in my current situation) is when Jesus says in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

The scriptures mentioned above sound wonderful…. I know them to be true but doing what they say can be a challenge.  If this is not challenging enough lets take it to another level by understanding that we are to also “… love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44) and “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” Romans 12:14.

We’ve just looked at a lot of scriptures that can be very challenging to follow in the times of trouble.  I’m thankful that I can at least read them although I’ve not yet fully grasped how to do exactly what they say.  I want to know how to do this and I want to know why!  May I now present James 1:2

“Count it all joy, my brothers,  when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  

It all comes down to a testing of my faith!  Do I truly believe all the things about God that I say I do?  Does God really protect, avenge, provide, comfort, and help me?  Am I able to trust God enough in my situation that I’ll continue to keep Him first and foremost in my life?  Can I cast all my cares upon him and trust that He cares for me?  If I can do this then my faith in God will produce a steadfastness that will enable me to lack in nothing.  A man who lacks in nothing can be used to do incredible things for God’s glory.  I want to be that kind of man.  I’ll end this posting now so I can go and sincerely pray and bless those who persecute me and trust that God is the father of my children before I am…. it is He who will protect them and in this I will trust.  Blessed is best!!

 
Shared by Chad Hellenthal

Dead Chickens

A special treat for you today brothers as Doug Ross shares his heart in this blog post.  May it bless you as it blessed me.  It was great to hear from another brother.  Please let us know if you ever have something you’d personally like to share.

Well, another great weekend of bonding with men, old friends and new alike.  We heard some awesome testimonies, shot cool weapons, played games, ate spectacular grub, took down tall trees, and most importantly (spiritually) fed!! 

It’s Monday morning and reuniting with my wife did not go so sweetly, hopefully yours went better with your loved ones, girlfriends and family.  I went to my in-laws and forgot to serve my wife while she had gotten all our kids lunches ready.  I took care of only myself.  But I was tired,  as if she wasn’t…  she’s the one who parented all weekend.  I got to nap Saturday afternoon and also nodded off Sunday afternoon watching football, poor me.  When it was time to re-connect that night in bed, I was given the ‘Heisman’…  and rightfully so.  I had forgotten all I had learned, especially the lesson about us serving our wives.  I failing miserably.  I wrote an apology and will verbalize it tonight.  All I can do is be sincere, hope for forgiveness, and reunite the way God intended it… two becoming one.
 
So it’s back to work, home, and job.  At home we need to be the spiritual leaders, the catalysts.  We need to protect our family both spiritually and physically. We need to pray.  
 
My specific job today is to dispose of a dead chicken that my dog (puppy) killed this morning.
 
So to recap we need to:
1. Serve our wives/loved ones
2. Shepherd our kids
3. Get rid of dead chickens, in my case literal, you can take it figuratively.
 

“Mess of Me”
Lyrics by Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman (Switchfoot)
I am my own affliction
I am my own disease
There ain’t no drug that they could sell
Ah, there ain’t no drug to make me well

There ain’t no drug
It’s not enough
There ain’t no drug
The sickness is myself

I made a mess of me
I wanna get back the rest of me
I’ve made a mess of me
I wanna spend the rest of my life alive

We lock our souls in cages
We hide inside our shells
It’s hard to feed to the ones you love
Oh, when you can’t forgive yourself
Yeah, forgive yourself

There ain’t no drug
There ain’t no drug
There ain’t no drug
The sickness is myself

I made a mess of me
I wanna get back the rest of me
I’ve made a mess of me
I wanna spend the rest of my life alive

I’ve made a mess of me
I wanna reverse this tragedy
I’ve made a mess of me
I wanna spend the rest of my live alive
The rest of my life alive

They (Switchfoot) are a Christian band but don’t mention Jesus in their lyrics, not that they are ashamed to proclaim it – they are speaking to the masses.
(That’s my take)

 

Masked-Men

“And no creature is hidden from his sight, but we are all naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)

I’m guilty of wearing a mask.  For those of you that know me…. you do not REALLY know me. My life is not as perfect as it may seem on the outside.  I’m likely not as strong of a Christian man as you might perceive me to be.  I’ve been trying to remove my mask for the last year but am discovering it is a mask of many layers.  My mask has protected me from an unaccepting world.  It has become a barrier to protect myself and others.  Although I wear my mask, I long for others to just be honest and straight with me.  I am Chad.   I am in many ways a hypocrite.

Hypocrites wear masks for many reasons:

To give people around them an impression.

To hide internal hurts.

To keep guard, a protection from anticipated pain

To make people think we’re strong when we’re really weak.

To find acceptance and flee rejection.

To cover up our shame for who we really are.

If I know you personally I’ve also likely lied to you.  You know that time I passed you in the halls of church and told you I was “doing good” when you asked me how it was going?  That was just my built in “auto-response.”  Part of the problem is that I don’t want you to perceive me as weak or vulnerable, it’s just not very manly.  Another concern of mine is that you will judge me and possibly tell others.

Deep down I want to be able to be honest and confide in you.  I understand that not every man will naturally connect with every other man, but we each need a few men in our lives that we can be real with.  For this to happen we need to get to know each other, the more we share the more masks we are likely to remove.  We are instructed to “bear one another’s burdens,”  how can we do this if we do not share them with each other.

I believe this issue is one of the biggest challenges facing men in church today.  We lack that, desire, opportunity, and ability to form strong relationships with other Christian men.  I’m not talking about making friends or having hobby buddies… I’m referring to accountability partners, mentors, and disciples.  Men that we can be 100% open and honest with about anything we are thinking, facing, or struggling with in our life.

 
Do you wear a mask?  Do you pass me in the halls and tell me that everything is “ok” when you’re honestly struggling, confused, or hurting?  I believe there are few things you can do as a Christian man more powerful that opening up to another man.  Exercise wisdom in what and with whom you share information but do not let this be a fear that prevents you from being real with others.  Ask God to help you develop these kinds of relationships with other men if you do not already have them.  It’s a special kind of relationship that every man should have.  Understand however that it will never happen if you refuse to be willing to remove your mask. Blessed is Best!!

Shared by Chad Hellenthal

nebu-CHAD-nezzar

Over the past 2 months I’ve been asked for various reasons to study and learn from the Book of Daniel.  I’ve often thought of this book for the classic children’s stories it contains such as lions’ den, the fiery furnace, and who could ever forget the human hand writing on the wall.  In my recent study I found some commonalities between myself and Nebuchadnezzar, it was not until I pondered these for a while that I noticed my name (Chad) was contained right in the middle of nebuCHADnezzar.  Anyway, that is a mere coincidence but the following I find to be true.

Like myself, for many years NebuCHADnezzar was not a believer in the true God Almighty.  He followed false gods for most of his life, but likely died a righteous man who acknowledged the Most High God.  NebuCHADnezzar had to lose his mind for seven years and live like a wild beast in a field, eating grass like an ox before he humbled himself before God.  I’ve never lived in a field and ate grass, however, when once living like a non-believer I can certainly look back at times of my life and feel as if I was nothing more than a wild beast.

NebuCHADnezzar’s heart was so hard.  One might think after God allowed Daniel to both describe and interpret his first dream, maybe he’d give consideration to following the God of the man who could do such a thing.  Instead, NebuCHADnezzar later erects a golden statue of himself and agrees to a decree that it shall be worshiped when music is played.  This decree caused Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be thrown into the fiery furnace.  As you may recall from this popular children’s story, the three men are saved in dramatic fashion.  NebuCHADnezzar witnesses this miracle and immediately blesses their God and sets a decree against anyone who speaks against their God.

At this time is appears that NebuCHADnezzar at least acknowledges God Almighty but not necessarily as the one and only true God.  In spite of all he has seen NebuCHADnezzar still clings to numerous false gods and idols.  It is now that he must face a humiliation almost beyond comprehension as he spends 7 years of his life as a wild beast, only to later return to power over his kingdom.  I’d highly recommended reading Daniel 4:34-37 to read the words of the king after he went through this traumatic experience.   He is not the same man he was before.  We know little if anything about his life after this event but I personally believe he lived out the remainder of his life trying to be righteous before God…. this is merely my personal speculation.

How many opportunities do we need, or have we been given to get right before God.  What struggles have we had to go through, or will we have to live through before we acknowledge and humble ourselves as NebuCHADnezzar did.  I’ve had more than my fair share of warnings and trials yet struggle to wholeheartedly commit my life to my to God.  There are many reasons I believe we need to take this matter seriously.  It impacts our lives, our loved ones, every aspect of our entire life.  Let us not forget about those that will be thrown into the fiery furnace… unfortunately, no one will be going in there to save them.