When You Want to Quit, Curse, or Die . . . Go Ahead and Ask God This, Too

Have you ever wondered about all the names that the Son of God inherited when He left heaven and came to earth to be the Savior of the world? When He arrived in a manger in Bethlehem, He was given the human name of Jesus, which is the Greek spelling of the Hebrew name, Joshua, which is Hebrew for “Yahweh Saves.” Thus, Jesus means the Savior. He was the Messiah, which is a Hebrew for “Annointed One.” When that word was translated into Greek the equivalent word chosen was “Christos,” the Christ. He was also called the Son of Man, Lord, Master, and Teacher. But the arrogant rulers of Jerusalem called Him a blasphemor (Jn 10:33), as well as a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Matt 11:19; Lu 7:34)!

            He was called these latter names for a good reason. Jesus was a friend of the outcasts. He was a friend to people like us. He would’ve hung out with the likes of us, if He were to come again to visit earth. He would have tail-gated on the outskirts of LSU Tiger Stadium. He would’ve come to our birthday parties, our New Year’s Eve parties, and we would have invited all of our friends over to BBQ in the back yard with Him.

            He hung out with the ordinary people of His day because one of His names was Emmanuel. This name is made up of a prepositional phrase, with El (Hebrew for God) added to the end. The prepositional phrase is emmanu, which is the phrase “with us.” The name is literally, “with us, God.” Jesus was God with us here on planet earth.

            When you receive Him as your personal Savior, then He personally shares His life with you in your spirit. You have joined yourself to Him and become one spirit, together (I Cor 6:17). He moves from being God with us, to being God in us.

            With that in mind, consider the wonder and power of His cry from the cross, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” Has it dawned on you that the One who is crying out asking God why He has forsaken Him . . . is God. The Son of God is asking God the Father, “Why are you forsaking Me.” What a paradox. God became God-forsaken on the cross.

            God-With-Us was on the cross becoming God-forsaken. The God Who is with us is asking the God in Heaven why He is not with Him. Have you ever felt in a dark moment in life —when all Hell appears to have broken out in your family, or when your circumstances have become so painful emotionally that you want to quit, curse or die— that you want to ask God the same thing? Why have you forsaken me? 

            At that moment, you are experiencing your cross. For the God who is with us, is living in your spirit. Could it be that He, living in you, is crying out again, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” If you are crying out from your spirit, then He Who is One with you in the spirit, is crying out with you.

            He is your life, so He is in your cry. Jesus is in you, crying out those words with you. He is there with you, feeling just as far away and separated from God as you do. And you can find comfort in knowing that He’s been there, done that.

            He said those words in our place on the cross, so He can say those words with us today when we go through dark days. And after the dark days back then, there was a resurrection. That means that even if you feel forsaken by God, The Son will be there with you . . . but the resurrection is coming. Sunday’s a coming, and you will never be forsaken!

            To quote a Messianic Jewish author, “If God was with us even when He was separated from God, then there is nothing in this world or beyond, nothing in this age or in the ages to come, that will ever separate you from the love of God in Him who is the love of God . . . and who will always be with you.” (p. 349 in The Book of Mysteries).

            All of this is because He is now your identity. He is your Life in your spirit. Be encouraged. Remember His name this Thanksgiving season.

-Carter

How to Deal With Old Words That Still Shame You

My friend, Dave, was a headmaster at a Christian school. One day there was a small scandal when some of the seventh-grade boys were caught cheating on an exam. Oh, my! Cheating at the Christian school. In a short time all of the boys confessed, but one. One student tried to weasel his way out of being punished, as he tried to deny that he had cheated. The principal for the Junior High students eventually took this young boy into her private office to confront him. Dave stood outside her closed door to eavesdrop and listen-in on her interrogation. Inside her office the principal hounded the young man over and over until finally he broke down and confessed that, yes, he had cheated. “Aha!,” she said, “So, you’re a liar.” She had worn him down and the truth came out.

            Later, Dave had a private conversation with this principal. He challenged the conclusion of her efforts with the young man. Dave said, “Instead of concluding that he lied, you called him a liar. You went beyond gaining his confession. You declared his identity.”

            Instead of merely calling out his sins, she declared his identity, Liar.

            I would have preferred that she say, “You are a beloved child of God, and we love you here at this school; but today you betrayed your true life in Christ by cheating on the test and then lying about it.”

            A childhood name or accusation can stick for a long time. James says that the tongue is like a fire! It can set the course for your life, or someone else’s life, for the tongue is set on fire by Hell (James 3:6). Did your parents or a teacher destroy your heart when instead of merely correcting you, they declared your identity? Does your story contain someone’s words of disapproval, disdain or destruction, proclaiming an identity over you?

            I saw a guy ridiculed by the coach in front of all of us guys at Junior High P.E. class. It humiliated him and made him edgy and defensive all semester. It created an identity in his heart that he was driven to overcome, as one by one other boys picked up the teacher’s attitude toward him.

            Words can set a fire in your heart. Words can blaze a trail and create an identity of defeat, despair and brokenness. Did you give up and give in, and give yourself over to this identity created by other’s words? How do you deal with the words in your past that still haunt and hinder you today?

         

   You strip the word of its power to shame you, and declare your true identity in Christ.

            Were you mocked as a kid? Ridiculed for some action you did? Were you labeled by peers? Then cancel their power and speak the truth. Say it like this today,

            “I’m a holy, righteous (2 Cor 5:21) child of God . . . who once was mocked and body-shamed as a kid. I’m sad that it happened, but it’s not who I am. Peers can be cruel, but my Lord is the Lover of my soul.”

            “I’m a holy and blameless (Eph 1:4) child of God . . . who once had a cruel teacher who humiliated me at school. It’s sad that it happened, but he does not have the power to declare my identity. Only One Voice tells me who I am. And I belong to Him!”

            “I’m an adopted son (Eph 1:5) of God . . . who once was beat down by a coach at school. It was a sad day back then, but today I possess the righteousness of Christ, and I reign over that false identity.”

            “I’m a beloved child of God . . . who once betrayed my true self when I cheated on a test back in junior high . . . but though I grieve for my lack of judgment, today Christ is my integrity. For He is my life.”

            Your heart is a container for words. Put true words in there. Put away and replace the words from your past.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence,

For from it flow the springs of life.

Put away from you a deceitful mouth,

and put devious lips far from you.”

Prov 4:23-24

           

-Carter

 

TIRED OF ALWAYS TEARING DOWN? Try this simple step to build up your loved ones.

I came across this poem from my new writing friend, Richard Exley. It has a simple message that we need to remember.

“I saw them tearing a building down,

a group of men in a busy town.

 

With a hefty blow and a lusty yell,

They swung with zest,

and a sidewall fell.

 

I asked the foreman,

“Are these men skilled?

The kind you would hire,

if you had to build?”

 

He looked at me, and laughed, “No, indeed!

Unskilled labor is all I need.

Why, these men can wreck in a day or two,

What has taken builders years to do.”

 

I asked myself, as I went my way,

which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder with plumb and square,

measuring and constructing with skill and care?

Or am I the wrecker, who ruins the town,

content with the business of tearing down?”

(author, Anonymous)

 

            Hurricane Katrina knocked five pine trees on my house, and a few weeks later a crew of unskilled folks gutted my house.  Didn’t take them long, and they seemed to enjoy themselves as they came through swinging 3 lb. mini-sledge hammers.

             It’s odd, isn’t it?  There’s a strange pleasure in destroying and tearing things down. It’s why it is easy to play the wrecker, too, with the hearts of other people. It was a skill we honed in junior high, of course, and then used carefully and judiciously in high school. Where do we use it the most today?

            In our marriages and in our parenting.

            Sadly, I have saved my harshest words for my wife and children. Before I started my own journey into emotional healing and relational maturity, my shame used to work —under stress at times— to make sure that I never ruined my reputation or sullied my shimmering public image by speaking harshly to anyone for failing me, disappointing me, or not meeting my own (selfish) expectations. But not with my loved ones.

            I have made some progress, I know, but if I ever do speak harshly, critically or complain against another human being, tearing them down and closing their heart, I do it to those closest to me. It is easy to do when we have made a habit of doing it for years, perhaps even decades. If you have conflict in your closest relationship(s), I encourage you with this thought: If you pause and wait, the Holy Spirit will emerge to control you, and the atmosphere between, say, you and your wife can remain pleasant. You can give grace, instead of harsh for harsh.

When you feel the impulse to speak back strongly, harshly, sarcastically, or with contempt. . . . slow down. Hold your tongue. Acknowledge the Holy Spirit, and give Him the right of way, to take control of you at the moment . . . and then submit yourself to His gentle and gracious spirit. Then speak kindly.

            Maintain your own sense of dignity as a beloved child of God, and do not let the other person’s words or attitude “tell you who you are!” Let’s God’s voice tell you who you are, and in that identity choose who you want to be. While my spouse might be in a bad mood, or upset or angry, I don’t have to be. I can choose my own disposition. And I can choose to be in Christ with my attitude and my words.

            Slow down. Pause. Don’t be quick to speak. Yield to the Holy Spirit. Reveal the life of Christ living in you, and through you, as you.

 

“But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;

for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God . . .

If anyone thinks himself to be [spiritual],

and yet does not bridle his tongue

but ‘betrays’ his true heart,

this person’s religion is worthless.”

(James 1:19, 20, 26)

 

-Carter