Updating Larry Bubb so social media lovers can like tweet follow share connect with God’s love

•April 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Many of you have come to count on Larry to make fun of the latest fads, even mock the cultural trends to make a point (I personally appreciate his humor & wit). In fact, I’ve been a “fan” of Larry’s music and ministry long before Facebook’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg, started walking, much less tinkering with computers and spearheading a revolution we call Web 2.0 (aka, interactive social media networking & sharing information over the World Wide Web).

But like many of Larry Bubb’s real live fans in the real world, I’ve become a virtual fan now too! You can keep up with him on FB at: /LarryBubbMinistries, but even better go “Like” him so you can stay in touch, make comments, add new connections, and share LBM with your friends too!!

If you tweet, retweet like a twit, or just prefer twitter, you can follow LarryBubb tweets too @LarryBubb – God’s love was meant to be shared.

And we are very happy to announce a NEW Youtube channel for Larry plus an embedded video right here on the blog!!

Have you seen the latest internet sensation about bullying? Here he is (just as relevant as ever) sweeping up the ratings with an Anti-bullying message and a positive example of sacrifice, the one and only: Leonard Simpson:

Is it live or is it Memorex” (’80s reference for you youngsters).

ON THE ROAD AGAIN – TRAVELING STORIES (Brush With Greatness … or Crest)

•April 23, 2010 • 2 Comments

ON THE ROAD AGAIN – TRAVELING STORIES

(Brush With Greatness … or Crest)

Pam Tyson was been in a number of movies and TV shows. She sang at a church service in North Hollywood before I was to preach. As I talked with her and her friend afterward, they were both very encouraging relaying how the message had touched them. I asked Pam’s friend if she liked to sing as well. She told me that she was more into acting. So I thought I would try to encourage her with her drama and acting as I suggested she try to do some skits in the church sometime. As they were leaving, the pastor leans over toward me and says, “You know that was Angela Bassett, don’t you?” She was only nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Tina Turner in the movie “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” So here I was naively trying to encourage Angela Bassett with her acting! I humbling apologized to her that evening and she was most gracious with a genuine humility that comes from God. We talked a number of times afterward and she was even gracious enough to write a recommendation for me that I included in my brochure!

I got to know Kenny Iwamasa from preaching at that same church in North Hollywood. Kenny manages Angela Bassett, who is the reason he decided to become a follower of Jesus Christ. He also manages Matthew Perry from the TV show “Friends.” We had lunch together and Kenny was kind enough to give me a nice leather carrying bag and coat that Matthew Perry used to own. A few months later I was talking with two Jr. High girls at a camp where I was speaking. I thought I’d try to impress them so I told them that I was actually wearing a coat that used to belong to Matthew Perry.  Without batting an eyelash, they said, “Do you have anything from Leonardo Dicaprio?” The things you have to do to impress today’s teenagers!

One of my first encounters with someone famous turned out to be none other than . . . me. Let me tell you the humorous story before you think I am being self-absorbed or egotistical. My dad had worked for Delta Airlines for many years so our family could fly in first class for free if there were seats available. My youngest brother, Terry, and I were flying home for Christmas. We got the last 2 seats left in 1st class. Unfortunately they were not next to each other. I was on the left side and Terry was a row or 2 back on the right side. The man sitting next to Terry was quite chatty and excited to be in 1st class. He told Terry that he loved to sit in 1st class because you get to see a lot of famous people. Terry asked him who he had seen that was famous. The man lowered his voice and said, “Don’t make it look obvious, but that guy right over there is famous.” Then he pointed at . . . me! Now Terry, having been a star in our High School play, demonstrated his acting skills by containing his laughter and asked the man who I was. He replied, “His name is on the tip of my tongue, I can’t quite remember it but he is a very famous soccer star!”

Traveling full-time in ministry has led to some interesting scenarios. I was in Georgia leading a retreat for a group from North Carolina. Some of them took me to the airport to see me off. While waiting, a few lined up to have me sign a few of my albums, which they had purchased. Another group of teenagers, who had no clue who I was, saw me signing albums as they were walking through the airport. They actually got in line to get my autograph. When the first one reached me, I smiled and said, “You don’t have any idea who I am, do you?” He tried to be convincing, telling me I was famous and my name was on the tip of his tongue. So I wrote each of them a Bible verse, thanked them for their support over the years and signed “Larry Bubb” which means in 20 years those autographs will be worth about 50 cent!

But to put it all in perspective, my favorite autograph story happened after a mom bought one of my CDs for her very young daughter. She asked her daughter if she would like me to sign it for her. The daughter, very timidly replied, “No thank you, I can do it myself.”

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.” Acts 10:34

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? … If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” James 2:1-4,8,9

Wrecked into a Beautiful Letdown

•February 20, 2010 • 2 Comments

WRECKED INTO A BEAUTIFUL LETDOWN

I was the youth pastor at a San Diego church for a few years. One of the youth I had the privilege of encouraging was Andy Shirley, who would ask me questions about playing guitar and writing songs. He went off to college and changed his name (as many musicians do these days) to Andrew, then to Drew. Sean Combs changed his name to Puff Daddy and then to P. Diddy. I was glad Andy did not go with Drew Diddy, although I was kind of pulling for Drew Wah Diddy Diddy Dum Diddy Drew. Drew is currently the lead guitarist for the band Switchfoot.

Drew Shirley - Guitarist of Switchfoot

The father of the two guys who formed the band is a pastor in San Diego. Once at lunch, he asked another friend of mine to tell him about an experience that ended up being extremely disappointing or a huge letdown. Then he asked if any good came out of it or if God was able to use it in ways that were unexpected. After my friend explained how things had resolved in a wonderful way the father replied, “Ah, what a beautiful letdown!” That is the title of their fourth album.

Let me tell you about a time in my life when I was literally wrecked, and God turned it into a beautiful letdown. I was driving back from speaking and singing at a camp for inner-city kids from L.A. A car swerved in front of me and to avoid hitting it, I ran off the road and immediately into a tree at about 55 m.p.h. The tree won! The car, which was a Cordia, quickly became an accordion. It took them nearly an hour to get me out of the car. I had a concussion and a couple broken bones to show for my heroic act. I found out later that the paramedics on the scene predicted I had about 48 hours to live. I was life lighted in a helicopter to the emergency room, intensive care, critical condition, etc. And as it turned out ….. I lived! I know you were probably wondering if I made it or not. I could have been paralyzed or missing a limb, but God miraculously kept me alive and in pretty good shape!

I especially knew God wanted me alive because of what happened two nights earlier at that camp. I was making a phone call around 11 p.m. in what looked to be a dead-end corridor. All the kids were in their tents for the night. I glanced up and saw a bear walking toward me down this dead-end corridor! He wasn’t a grizzly but he was bigger than me. I figure he must have been a teen­ager bear (he had his Walkman on listening to Beyoncé, er, I mean, Switchfoot).

I didn’t think I would be scared if I ever saw a bear in public because the bears in the zoo always seemed friendly not to mention the bear in the circus wearing his pink ballerina outfit while riding a bicycle. I grew up watching Yogi the Bear. Me & Yogi were tight, but as my luck would have it, this bear did not know Yogi! I was desperately praying, “Please God, don’t let this bear eat me!” Right at the last minute he turned away from me and started to walk down to where all the kids were ….. and boy was I glad! Well, not that he was going for the kids, but at that point it was every man for himself, if you know what I mean.

Later that night I heard all kinds of strange noises coming from the little petting zoo behind my cabin. We woke up to discover 2 bears had eaten Rosie the pig! I can hear you groaning in sadness ….. but it could have been Rosie-Larry! I’m not sure how many kids would have petted that pig anyway.

Now when you run into a tree at 55 m.p.h. and you have a bear come at you and you live, you have a strong assurance that God wants you alive. Then it dawned on me, “God wanted me alive before the accident as well.” I just hadn’t really thought about it much. I believe the biggest reason He kept me alive is so I could let people know that Jesus is real, He is the truth and He is my best friend!

A few months after my wreck, I was sharing the story and how God not only had a reason for me to still be alive, but that God had a purpose for every person hearing my voice, even if their car had not been wrecked. A teenager who had planned to commit suicide that night talked to me afterward. He realized God did have a purpose for his life so instead of walking out the door to end his life, he walked into a life that will never end with Jesus! God took my wrecked car and turned it into a beautiful letdown!

I think back to whatever little encouragement I could be to Andy-Andrew-Drew, and now see him playing guitar for millions of people! God is using this humble and genuine Christian in mighty ways. We may never know the impact we can have on someone ….. and many times I’m sure we never will this side of Heaven. But I am convinced that when we do take the time to encourage others and help “the least of these,” God has promised He will use those efforts to make an eternal difference  (I Cor. 15:58). As Switchfoot sings, “You were meant to live for so much more ….. we want more than this world has to offer.”

This world and its promises will let you down. But if you look to God, He can take those letdowns and make them beautiful. So, when have you had a letdown that God made beautiful?

Gullible Warming and Jonestown

•January 22, 2010 • 1 Comment

GULLIBLE WARMING AND JONESTOWN

I had the distinct privilege of meeting Hattie Newell several years ago. She sent me a New Years greeting this year along with some encouraging words. I was reminded of her powerful testimony.

She lost most of her family in the Jonestown massacre that took 918 lives. She was spared by God’s grace alone. In her words, “You may be wondering how I survived the massacre. I believe it was the providence of God. I tried on three separate occasions to go to Jonestown. I wanted to be with my mom, but when Jim Jones’ staff approached him about it, he said, “No, let her stay there and continue the work she is doing, let someone else take her place.” Someone else did take my place, but I am reminded of the One who truly did take my place. Jesus Christ.”

I wrote an article on “Gullible Warming” 2 years ago (see the Articles Archive on my website http://www.Larrybubb.com). I recently read the following powerful article by Hattie on the subject . . . only with lots more weight and credibility based on the tragedy she experienced first hand.

“Do Not Be Gullible” by Hattie Newell

Christians must guard against deceit by knowing what Scripture teaches. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

People do not set out to believe lies or to be deceived, and they definitely would not die for a lie if they knew it was a lie. They are slowly immersed into believing something is true, like a frog, which is put into a pot of water and slowly boiled to death as the heat is turned up one degree at a time. I was once that frog: I was mesmerized by the man in the long white robe and dark sunglasses, and little by little I was completely drawn into his world. I was naïve and spiritually blind. After joining Peoples Temple in LA, I remember going to Jim and telling him I wanted to move to Redwood Valley because I needed more structure in my life. But I was a teenager at the time, and as any teenager – or parents of teenagers – can tell you, they want freedom, not structure. I must have had a case of temporary insanity that lasted for five years.

Many lives have been lost in cults since the incident in Jonestown, Guyana . . . People who are lonely or misunderstood by family members or church people are also at risk. When their hearts are hurting and they have no one to turn to for help or comfort, they will take the hand of anyone who reaches out to touch them with love and ease their pain.

Believers are in a war, a spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world-forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Before I moved to Redwood Valley I had this feeling that I should be in his meeting in San Francisco. I talked a cousin into going with me. We rode in one of the buses and stayed in the housing that had been arranged for us. During one Temple meeting, I wrote a note to Jim asking him what could I do if my parents did not want me to move? I had sensed their reluctance, but I did not talk to them about it. I did not give him the letter, but somehow it disappeared. Later during a “healing” session, he called my name, he told me several things about my life, and he told me he was healing me of breast cancer that was too far for the doctors to reach. I did not take the time to process this information or question him as to whether it was true or not. I ran up to the podium crying and I hugged him and thanked him for healing me.

I was moving away from the truth in falling deep into the realm of darkness. 1 Timothy 4:1,2 says, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the truth, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own consciences as with a branding iron.” I moved from Los Angeles to Santa Rosa, Redwood Valley and finally to San Francisco. Over the years I advanced from just a member to security guard, greeter, nurse on his “healing” team, choir member, counselor and finally bodyguard/companion to his wife Marceline. I had to cook for her. Since I hated cooking and really did not know how, I’m surprised she lived through that ordeal. I once got a letter from Shirley, my older sister, from Jonestown teasing me about that. Recalling the first time I tried to make cornbread, which turned out very hard and dry, she said, “You didn’t cook her any cornbread.”

2 Corinthians 11:13,14 says, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” I never feared Jim Jones, but I should have. On the contrary, I liked being around him. And I was pleased when he noticed me. For example, I lived on the third floor of the church in San Francisco. One night I was at the top of the stairs and he was at the bottom with his guards. I had on a long multi-colored lounging gown. He looked up at me and said, “Darling, you look like an African queen.” I smiled, said thank you, and went on my way. Another time I had to go to Los Angeles for business. I was on his bus, and I rolled out my sleeping bag in the luggage rack next to his room (I’m not the only one in the Temple who could tell you, the racks were the most comfortable places to sleep on long trips). When he got on the bus, he stopped by me to ask if I wanted anything to eat. I said no thank you. I wrote poems about him and gave them to him. He liked them and sometimes read them to the people who were still in the church after the meetings. I did not see the dark side of him. All I saw was a handsome man with dark features. I did not know he was planning or plotting this nightmare.

* * *

During World War II, Adolf Hitler said, “If you tell a lie enough times, people will believe it as truth.” That, in my view, is what propaganda is all about. And for several years, Hitler successfully created a state of delusion among his people. Jim Jones did the same thing.

Christians must be students of the Bible, and not just take someone else’s word for something. Take your Bible to church with you every time you attend and follow along with the pastor to see if what he is saying aligns with Scripture. 2 Timothy 4:3,4 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” I did not know the Bible and I could not dispute Jim’s words, and as a result I was almost destroyed. I made it, but my family did not.

Perfectly normal people get involved with cults, but the most vulnerable are those people who are idealistic, folks who want to change the world or people who are going through some kind of crisis. These same people have this attitude that they could never be recruited into a cult, they could recognize it as a cult and avoid it. Not true. Cult leaders and recruiters are crafty; they know when to scoop in and draw you into their webs of deceit.

Remember, most of Jim Jones’ followers were good people who wanted to do something good or change their lives. I know this from personal experience. I saw the humanitarian work he was doing, and it appealed to me. We had our share of former drug addicts and ex-cons, just as he attracted college professors, white-collar professionals and Ivy League lawyers. Between these extremes were decent hard-working middle-class folks who believed in interracial harmony and helping others. I knew a lot of them and I know they were only looking for a better way of life. Jim had the right idea, but he went about it the wrong way. You cannot achieve utopia outside of Jesus Christ.

Jim Jones was a master manipulator: he used mind games on his followers; he isolated them to make them dependent upon him; he demanded that they break ties with families except when we could get money from them for the cause; he used harsh or strict discipline, long work hours and very long meetings to control people, to wear them out to the extent that they couldn’t see that was no way to live. I do not know how many of them thought about leaving the group. I know I never did.

Rudyard Kipling said, “I had six honest serving men. They taught me all I knew: Their names were, where and what and when and why and how and who.” We all need to know those six serving men very well; we need to know what we believe; why we believe it; where to find truth; how to discern error; who we can trust and when to walk away.

The Bible warns us over and over to be aware of false teachers and leaders. 1 John 4: 1-3 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of which you have heard that is coming, and now it is already in the world.”

My purpose is to encourage Christians to be faithful to read and study the Bible so they will know it for themselves, because most likely they will not have their pastors around to speak the Word for them when Satan comes to tempt, deceive or destroy them. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” He is still in the business of saving lost souls. It is not His desire for any to perish. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Remember God loved us so much He sent His Son to die on the cross for us, and if you say there is no God, Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.”

I can smile again, I do not know how, but the one thing that has made it easier is my trust in Jesus who said, “Cast all your cares on me, for I care for you” (1 Peter 5:7).


TREASURE IN TIJUANA

•December 8, 2009 • 2 Comments

“What’s your name?” I asked as politely as I knew how in my broken Español. Not only did he not answer me, he didn’t even look up. I did notice the tear trickling down his cheek.

I had taken a group of teenagers from the youth group in our church down to visit “Hogar de los Niños,” which is an orphanage for children in Tijuana. I used to take a group down every other month to bring clothes, food and toys to 60 or so children that all lived in one building. Every time we arrived, they would run up and wrap their arms around us in a big hug while their faces beamed from ear to ear. It was like we were their long-lost brother or sister, even if they had never seen us before. We would spend time and play with them hoping to make their life a bit more enjoyable. To be truthful, I believe they touched our group of American teenagers more than vice versa.

I saw some of the older kids playing on the dirt basketball court on the lot next door so I wanted to go over and join them since I had played basketball in high school and college. I figured it would be a good connection. But before I could make my way over, I noticed my little five-year-old nameless friend hunched over in the corner looking like the world was about to end. I then realized that my mission, should I choose to accept it (cue the “Mission Impossible” music now!), would be to put a smile on this little boy’s face.

After unsuccessfully trying to talk to him, I glanced over and saw a truck. I rolled the truck to him and it stopped right at his feet. At first he did not move. I figured he would either stay that way not moving an inch, or turn and walk away, or maybe pick it up and throw it at me! It seemed like forever, but finally he slowly reached down, turned the truck around, and rolled it back to me. Yes! I was so pumped! I picked the truck up, turned it around and rolled it back to him. Then he picked the truck up and turned it around and rolled it back to me. Then I picked the truck up and . . . ‘Cause that’s pretty much all you do when you play trucks. There is not a lot of strategy involved in the game. We had a great time playing trucks for the next 20 minutes. We wore that truck down! We had to change the tires, do some transmission work, lube and oil . . . But you can only play trucks for so long. He had looked up by now but had not yet smiled.

So I figured my next strategy would be to try to walk on my hands, which of course does not sound that funny to you, primarily because you have never seen me try to walk on my hands. Then I got this brilliant idea that he would like to walk on his hands. I have no earthly idea how to explain that in Spanish, so I just went over and grabbed him by the feet and picked him up. I figured at that point he might cross his forefingers to make the sign of the cross while screaming, “Get away from me, you Gringo!” Fortunately, he caught on pretty quickly and before long I heard the magic word “acapuche,” which was their slang for piggyback ride. So I got him up on my shoulders and before long he was laughing and having a great time.

Later he was playing with some of the other kids so I asked one of the older children from the orphanage what my little friend’s name was. He looked up pointing at my friend and said, “Him? His name is Jesús (pronounced “Hey Sues”).” English translation . . . Jesus.

As we were driving back to San Diego in our old beat-up bus, the verses kept popping into my mind from Matthew 25:34-45 when Jesus said that whatever you’ve done for one of the least of these, you’ve done for me. I am convinced that day I did not just put a smile on a little five-year-old Mexican child’s face. I’m convinced that I put a smile on Jesus’ face. The truth of the matter is, the way we treat others is the way we treat Jesus. When you encourage someone, you’ve done it to Jesus. When you treat someone poorly or fail to help someone in need, that’s how you’ve treated Jesus as well.

On the way back one of my “troublemaker” kids (he was not voted into the position like others on the youth council . . . he kind of seized it on his own initiative) came up to me to talk. He told me that he had video games, an ATV, and a swimming pool in his backyard, yet he was bored half the time. Then he told me something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. He said, “These kids have nothing, yet they seem to be happy almost all the time.” I guess owning a lot of “stuff” is not all it’s cracked up to be. For some strange reason my great Bible studies on Matthew 6:19-21 did not seem to have the same impact as this living demonstration that the most valuable treasures can’t be bought in a store!

WHY?

•November 8, 2009 • 5 Comments

WHY?

Why is it that every single line I get in, ends up taking longer than all the other lines even though mine looks shorter? Why don’t guys ever ask for directions? Not many people realize the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years because Moses wouldn’t ask for directions! O.K. …… It doesn’t actually say that in the Bible. Why do girls go to the bathroom in groups? I’ve never heard a guy come up to a table and ask, “Who wants to go to the bathroom with me?”

Why is it that I graduated #1 in my high school (no, I wasn’t home schooled!) and university, have a Masters Degree and over 25 years of full-time ministry experience yet some years my combined housing, insurance and salary income have been around poverty level? Why has God been so faithful to take care of all my needs and bless me beyond anything I deserve? – Philippians 4:19

Why do parents argue and get a divorce? Why do good people have bad things happen to them? Why do dynamic men of God like my friend Rich Mullins die at an early age? Why ask why? “People say it’s not fair that people should die when they’re 18, I say its unfair that we should be [privileged] to live until we’re that old!” – Rich Mullins

Sometimes it all seems like some cosmic injustice! There are so many questions that I’m sure we’ll never have the answer to on this planet. I think my favorite C.S. Lewis quote is what he thought his 1st words would be when he got to heaven …… “Of course!” I Corinthians 13:12 says that we only know in part now, but then we will know fully. Isaiah 55:8-9 says that as far as the heavens are above the earth, that is how far God’s thoughts are above ours. I have always been an analytical person who wants to know answers to everything. I want to share some of the things God has shown me about the ‘whys’ but ultimately we have to remember that we will never understand it all this side of heaven.

God is the ultimate chess Master. When the enemy makes a move, God is infinitely able to counter that evil move with an even greater move that brings good for all eternity (Romans 8:28). I have heard Joni Erickson share how she is now glad that she had the accident that paralyzed her. She said that as a result of this temporary, physical limitation she is now SO much stronger spiritually than she ever would have been had it not happened. She tells people that the eternal benefits which will last forever are much more important than the physical things which we see and are only temporary anyway. Fanny Crosby, the great hymn writer, was once asked if she had the choice would she rather not have been born blind. She said that she would not change a thing because when she gets to heaven the very 1st thing her eyes will ever see will be the beautiful face of her Savior Jesus!

Genesis 50:20 also illustrates this principle explaining why all the bad things happened to Joseph …… his own family sold him into slavery! The verse says that the things they meant for evil toward him, God used for good to ultimately end up saving him and his whole family. I have a friend in a similar situation who wrote me from prison:

“But I’m here, in spite of all of our prayers. Now this could be a colossal mistake in God’s plan, which means He is careless, distracted, inefficient and weak? Or alternatively, the enemy hijacked the plan and Jehovah can’t turn it all to good? Or, He is the Master of All Existence, the Lord of Hosts, and even if we don’t understand it all, everything is going to be all right.

Why am I HERE? And perhaps, more than the why, is, does the “why” even matter? We spend SO much time on the “why” of things, and is knowing the why really our job? If we’re walking uprightly in conformity with God’s laws, how active do we get when our circumstances take a huge turn for the worse? I mean, Abraham didn’t try to take an alternate sacrifice, right? Job didn’t call State Farm to put in a claim and rebuild the flattened houses, or buy a bunch of replacement livestock or immediately start chasing Mrs. Job around to replace the kids. He sat in the ashes. And Joseph ….. didn’t he at some point, accrue the wealth, power, and status, to either claim his freedom, buy it, or effect an escape, and fly to freedom to go home? But, he didn’t ….. [We need] to care less about getting OUT of prison, and more about being like Jesus.”

The 1st couple chapters of the book of Job are a graphic example of the horrible things that can happen to someone. It would seem bad enough for those things to happen to the average human, but they happened to a “good” man who served God with all his heart. Sometimes we expect preferential treatment because we are God’s children but the Bible tells us that it rains on the good and the bad (Matthew 5:45). Behind the scenes we find out that God was demonstrating to the devil that Job did not just follow God because He had blessed him or done good things for him. C.S. Lewis once wrote that when the storms of life hit us, that is when we truly find out if our “house” is built on a deck of playing cards or the solid unshakable faith of God. Lewis didn’t exactly say it like that, but you get the idea – read his book “The Problem of Pain”.
Job did not curse God like some suggested he do but rather said, “I came into this world with nothing, I’ll leave it with nothing ….. blessed be the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21). He also realized all the trials would make him stronger and in the end he would come out like purified gold (Job 23:10). That’s why James 1: 2-4 says we should rejoice in those trials. In the end, Job not only came out stronger spiritually but God blessed him greater physically as well. To me, the interesting part of the whole book is that it never says that Job ever realized what was going on behind the scenes with the heavenly confrontation between God and the devil. He asked God “Why?” but God’s only reply was questions like, “Where were you when I formed the oceans and created the mountains and the stars? Do you think you know better than me?” (Job 37-41) Though Job never knew “Why?” he still followed God!

Of course, the ultimate example of cruel things happening to a good person is the way Jesus was treated on earth …… and the way we still treat Him at times. God could have destroyed those crucifying and torturing His only Son, yet He knew a MUCH greater good would come out of it if He did not interfere. Jesus FELT deserted on the cross as He quoted from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, WHY …… ” yet in the end He was not abandoned, as I’m sure He knew the end of that Psalm as well.

We sometimes forget that there is a spiritual battle going on behind the scenes. Hebrews 2:14 was a comforting verse to me after my father died, much too early, many years ago. The Bible says that death is an enemy, not good, and Jesus came to earth to destroy the one who holds the power of death, which is the devil. I realized it was not accurate to blame God or shake my fist at Him and say Why? The devil is the one using death to try and destroy faith in God, relationships with other people, etc. God was not reaching down and killing my Dad to teach me some lesson but was hurting with me in the pain.

I don’t know all the ‘whys’. Sometimes pain and trials may be God’s megaphone to get our attention, as C.S. Lewis said. Sometimes the adversary is trying to shake our faith in God. And sometimes when our car won’t start at that very important time, it may not have anything to do with God or the devil. Maybe the battery is dead! I do know it is a lot easier to intellectually write answers to the why questions than to stay strong and endure in the midst of the tough times. We often know the right things in our head but it is tougher to actually live it out day-to-day. I think that the more we read about the trials of God’s people in the Bible and in other Christian books, and read of their faith in the midst of those tough times, the stronger we will be in our faith. And sometimes we just need to fasten our seatbelts, grit our teeth and pray for God’s grace to hold onto us during those dark times when we can’t see any light at the end of our tunnel.

I hope and pray that this has been some help and encouragement and maybe even a little enlightenment on such a complex and deep issue. Stay tuned for part three of this article when we’ll discuss the Eschatology of the book of Esther!

 
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