What Is Your Purpose?

We find ourselves today in the twelfth chapter of Genesis, the beginning of Patriarchal History. It is not our first introduction to Abram, later Abraham. He was mentioned in the previous chapter. According to that chapter, Abraham’s father was named Terah. The entire family lived in Haran, until Terah’s death at the age of 205. Some things don’t change. The death of a loved one is always hard, and many make major changes during a time of lose. That is what happened to Abraham.

The twelfth chapter begins with Abraham making major changes in his life. However, Abraham does not initiate the changes. It is God, who initiates the changes. At seventy-five years old, the Almighty instructs Abraham to move to a new land. The name of the land is not identified, but it will be a land that will be remembered for the generations to come. And, in time, it will be filled with Abraham’s descendants, too many to count. Never forget it. Abraham means “the father of the multitude.” How special are Abraham’s descendants? They are so special they will be a blessing to the entire world. For within this race of people, Jesus will be born. Never forget it. Abraham is our spiritual ancestor too. I love this story because Abraham started the greatest challenge of his life at seventy-five years old. This is also true. I am jealous of Abraham because he heard God clearly and discovered his purpose? That leads us to an interesting question.

Have you discovered God’s purpose for your life? Several years ago, Rick Warren wrote a book called The Purpose Driven Life.”  Many churches and Christians read that book. The reason is simple. Many wanted to discover their purpose. About the same time, Warren wrote another book called The Purpose Driven Church. We read that book here. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not knocking the books. They helped many. However, you don’t need to read the books to discover your purpose. All you need to do is read Abraham’s calling. If you want to discover your purpose, then you must do what Abraham did. If you want to remain clueless about your purpose, then don’t read it. So what did Abraham do? Abraham did three things.

First, Abraham trusted God. Look at the text with me. Prior to our reading, we are told Abram had a good life. It was a stable calm life with his father. Abraham was rooted in that community and there was no sign that Abraham was interested leaving it. He had prospered in that land. He had every reason to stay. It was God who initiated the move. This is the key line. There is no sign Abraham questioned God because he trusted God and was open to God’s leading. How far does Abraham trust God? Beyond our reading, we are told the first thing Abraham did in that new land was build an altar to God. It was the first of several altars Abraham would build to God. Abraham built an altar anywhere he had a spiritual mountaintop experience. Moving to a new land made no logical sense, but Abraham did it because Abraham trusted God. This is the question. How far do you trust God? If you want to find your purpose, then you must trust God.

Second, Abraham trusted others. Look at the text with me again. Verse four tells us Abram didn’t travel alone. The scripture tells us he took with him his nephew Lot and his wife Sarai. He took with him his possessions and the people he had acquired in Haran. Some of those people may have been employees and some of those people may have been slaves. This is the point. When Abraham accepted God’s call and moved, it did just affect his life. It affected many lives, including the people who stayed behind. If Abraham was going to maximize his purpose, then he had to trust the people in his life. How far do you trust the people in your life?

One of the great concerns in this church is not knowing everyone. For some reason that is important to many. This is not Cheers where everyone knows your name. This is the church of Jesus Christ. This is the truth. This is not a single cell church. It is impossible to know everyone, especially with three worship services. The only thing that unites this church is the mission, making disciples for Jesus Christ, and the budget, our common enemy. However, knowing everyone isn’t really that important to me. I am more concerned about everyone trusting one another. This is a fair question. How far do you trust your fellow church members? Let me ask you two more questions. Have you ever overworked yourself at church because you want it done right? Experience tells me it will get done, just not by you. You just don’t trust someone else to do your job. Have you ever criticized someone for doing something differently than you would have done it? The issue is what they are doing. The issue is trusting. Trust is a big issue within the life of the church. We will never maximize our efforts as a church until we trust one another. Consider this with me.

One of the great scenes in the Bible is the Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-28. You remember the scene. Earlier in the chapter, we are told Jesus had been resurrected. The pain of Calvary is in the rear-view mirror. The Master’s earthly ministry is complete. The only thing waiting for Jesus is the perfection of heaven. Jesus’s work is done, and he is passing the mantel to the disciples. Jesus tells them to go and make disciples in all nations. I hope you don’t miss the next line. Jesus is turning the work over to eleven men, Judas Iscariot is gone, and Mathias has not yet been chosen, who have been a disappointment to this point. They are pre-Pentecost disciples. They have been unable to understand the simplest concepts, and they failed to do the simplest task. Regardless, Jesus trusted the immature disciples with the ministry. If Jesus could trust the disciples, then you should be able to trust a fellow church member. If you want to find your purpose, then you must trust God. If you want to find your purpose, then you must trust others.

I only have one regret in the ministry. I have found my purpose for life. I am glad I stayed here for twenty-five years and I am glad this place because my home. My regret revolves around a three-year period before I went into the ministry. When I graduated from college, I had a secular job. I met many fine people at that time, but the work seemed superficial. It wasn’t that I didn’t hear God’s calling. It was I tried to ignore God’s calling. I was terrified of public speaking and I knew my eyes were problematic. I failed to see my strengths, because I was so insecure. I failed to answer my calling, my purpose for living, because I didn’t trust myself. How far do you trust yourself?

Third, Abraham trusted himself. Look at the scripture with me one last time. God calls Abraham to move to a new land to start a new race. Abraham goes because he trusts God and Abraham goes because he trusts the people in his life. Abraham goes because Abraham believes in himself. There is no sign in the scripture Abraham doubted himself. Abraham believed in Abraham. According to NBC News, 85% of people have a low esteem. Do you believe in yourself? If you want to find your purpose, then you must trust God. If you want to find your purpose, then you must trust others. If you want to find your purpose, then trust yourself.

George Sanders (1906-1972) was a true Hollywood star. In 1951, he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the movie All About Eve. He seemed to have it all, both fame and fortune. He should have been a happy man, but happiness was not part of his life. History tells us George Sanders checked into a hotel near Barcelona, Spain. He checked in but he never checked out. On April 23, 1972, he took his life. He had a heart attack caused by an overdose of barbiturates. When his lifeless body was found, and a suicide note was also found. This is what the note said:

Dear world, I am leaving because I am bored. I have lived long enough. I am leaving you and your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck!

How can a man with so much have so little? According to the world, Sanders had every you needed to be happy. He had everything he needed to be happy, but he lacked a purpose. There is more to life than collecting things. There is more to life than purchasing things. There is more to life than going to a party. God doesn’t call us to be consumers. God calls us to make a difference in this world. So let ask you the question of the day again.

What is your purpose? Your purpose in life is not necessarily your vocation, the way you pay your bills. Your purpose is your passion. Your purpose is the intersection where your personal interests meet human need. What is that one thing you enjoy doing that benefits someone else? I am convinced there are as many purposes as there are individuals. Your purpose could be helping the young advance in school. It could be helping the aged fill out their income taxes. It could be volunteering at some none-profit which helps some social ill. It could be keeping an eye on your lonely neighbor or traveling the world to help a stranger. It could be raising your children or watching after a parent near the end of their life. I am convinced there are as many purposes as there are people. Abraham’s purpose was to be the father of new nation. What is your purpose? Helen Keller (1880-1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was also the first blind-deaf person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1904, she received that degree from Radcliffe College. She once said, “True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”

Our Living Hope

We find ourselves today in the forty-second chapter of Job. It is the last chapter of Job, so let me remind you of his story one last time. Much has already happened. When our story began, Job had a good life. He was rich in resources and relationships. He feared God and shunned evil. He was considered the greatest man in the East. Even God was impressed with Job. That is when everything seemed to go wrong. God may have been impressed with Job but not the Dark One. He is convinced his pious ways would pass once hardship entered his life. Sad but true, God grants Satan permission to test Job. The tests are not easy, they are hard. Over a short period of time, he loses everything. Job loses his money. His oxen, donkeys and lambs are taken by foreign raiders, who killed most of the servants. His loses his relationships. All ten of his children, seven sons and three daughters, are gone in an instant by a mighty wind from the wilderness, while partying at the eldest son’s home. He loses his good looks. He is covered with painful boils from head to toe. He loses everything, except for his charming wife. She adds nothing to his life. Too bad the raiders didn’t take her too. Thank goodness for his friends. Job was fortunate. He had three true friends. At first, they say nothing, but in time they begin to speak. Their words are not helpful, they are damaging. They offer Job nothing but bad advice. Job rebukes them and begins to question God. Last week, God reminded Job not to cross the line in his questioning. The one thing God will not tolerate is arrogance. Do the people in your life consider you arrogant? That takes us to today.

We find ourselves today in the forty-second chapter of Job. It is a significant chapter because Job’s good life is restored. The scriptures tell us God blessed the later part of his life more than the former. He reconnects with his extended family, who are generous with him. He once again has ten children, seven sons and three daughters. The unknown author goes out of his way to tell us of the beauty of his daughters. It was not required, but Job put them in the will. God granted Job a long life. He lived another one-hundred and forty years surrounded by many happy children. The story of Job, which had grown so dark, has a happy ending. Can I be honest with you? I considered ending this series last week, but I couldn’t do it. I could not leave Job surrounded by problems, poor, lonely and covered in painful boils. I had to give Job some relief, and you. The scripture lesson for us today reminds us there is always hope with God. Let me state the obvious. Hope is extremely important.

How important is hope? Marian Zimmer Bradley (1930-1999) once said, “The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to travel than the road built in despair, even though both lead to the same destination. It all comes down to a simple choice: You can dwell on the negatives of life or you can look for the positive. Do you see what you have, or do you only see what you want? Here are five reasons you should stay hopeful. This list came from the Dream Achievers Academy.

  1. With hope, we can continue living.
  2. With hope, we can live through tough times.
  3. With hope, we gain strength and become energized.
  4. With hope, we are open to new possibilities.
  5. With hope, we act.

This is the problem. We know of too many people who left this world surrounded by problems. How many examples do you need?

Walter was one of the best men I have ever known. You may remember him. He was in involved in Boy Scouting as an adult leader for over fifty years. This troop met in this church building. His scouts were not boys, they were men who had limitations or challenges. Walter’s son, Tommy, was one of those scouts. Over a short period of time, like Job, Walter lost two significant people in his life. I was at the hospital both times. Tommy died first, then his wife, Velma, died a month later. To fill the void of their passing, Walter began to travel. In time he would travel to every continent. Walter traveled to Russia with us twice on mission trips. The orphans in that orphanage were children like his scouts, challenged. It was on those trips, we became friends. We were roommates. It was a sad day, when Walter told me he had jaw cancer. Surgery would be required, and his chances were not good. I was at Walter’s last scout meeting. Everyone present, both scouts and civilians, laid their hands-on Walter as I prayed. When the prayer ended everyone was crying. I stood with the scouts as his daughter drove him home. The next day Walter had his surgery. It was the beginning of the end. Throughout that beautiful fall, Walter, who loved the outdoors, laid in a hospital bed failing. When the end came, he was suffering. I spoke Walter’s funeral. I admitted he was my substitute father. Everyone agreed, he deserved better. Do you know of anyone who deserved better? I am not mad that Job had a happy ending. However, this is my question, why don’t happy endings happen more often? Why did Water, and so many others, die surrounded by their problems?This is the answer to that question.

Job was an Old Testament character and we are New Testament people. That does not sound important, but it means a great deal. In the Old Testament there is no great understanding of the afterlife. The idea of heaven and hell are undeveloped. You received your rewards and punishment in this world, based on the merit system. Your rewards came in the form of financial success, the abundance of happy children, especially boys, and happiness. That is why the Promised Land is so importance in the Old Testament. The suffering you experienced in this world was your punishment for living a sinful life. That is why Job’s friends said he was suffering, his hidden sin. That is why the disciples questioned Jesus about the man born blind. “Did he sin in the womb or did his parents sin?” Job was an Old Testament character with Old Testament understandings. You received your reward and punishment now.

We are New Testament people with New Testament understandings. In the New Testament, the idea of heaven and hell are well developed. There is no merit system. In the New Testament, we are saved by grace, and by grace alone. It all revolves around Jesus. Who was Jesus? He is more than an historical character. Jesus was the very incarnation of God. He left the perfection of heaven to slum it with people like us. That is why we celebrate Christmas. For a three-year period, beginning at the age of thirty, Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God, healed the sick to underscore his message, and showed us how to live. We are supposed to be practicing today what we are going to be doing for eternity. Jesus had problems too. He did nothing wrong, but on a horrible Friday afternoon he was executed. His corpse was laid in a tomb, but the tomb could not hold him. You know the story. Jesus walked out of the tomb early on a Sunday morning, conquering death. He was resurrected and that resurrection changed everything. Jesus conquered death, itself. The resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith. That is why we celebrate Easter. Jesus is our living hope.

Consider this fact with me. Of the four religions that are based on personalities rather than philosophies, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder. In 1900 B.C. Judaism’s Father Abraham died. In 483 B.C. Buddhist writings say Buddha died. Islamic writings say on June 6, 632 A.D. Mohammed died. The only one that is alive is Jesus. Let me make this more clear. In 33 A.D. Jesus died but came back to life appearing to over 500 people over a period of 40 days. How important is the resurrection of Jesus? The resurrection of Jesus separates us from the rest the world! Jesus is our living hope. Romans 10:9 is my favorite Bible verse. It says, “If you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” If that is true, then the opposite is equally true. If you don’t believe in the resurrection then the doors of heaven are closed to you.Being an Old Testament character Job got his reward in this world. Walter got his reward in heaven, thanks to Jesus. May we never forget what Jesus has done for us.

When George Bush (1924-2018) was Vice President of the United States, he represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev (1906-1982). Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow, Viktoria. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband. Jesus was his living hope. In the end, Jesus is our living hope. Desmond Tutu (born 1931) is a South African Anglican cleric known for his work in human rights. He once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

Never Forget

On May 9, 1864, one of the forgotten names of the Civil War was lost at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. His name was Union General John Sedgwick (1813-1864). History tells us he was inspecting the left flank against the Confederate defenses. His officers suggested he stay low out of the range of the Confederate sharpshooters. He refused and stood upright. They were 1,000 yards away. He boldly proclaimed, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” He never finished that sentence before a sharpshooter hit him under his left eye. He dropped dead. He never knew what hit him. Can I ask you a question? What killed the general? Did the confederate sharpshooter kill the general? Did the general’s arrogance kill the general? One thing God won’t tolerate is arrogance. That leads us to this morning’s scripture lesson.

We find ourselves today in the thirty-eighth chapter of Job. Much has already happened. We have looked at the story in the past. When our story began, Job had a good life. He was rich in resources and relationships. He feared God and shunned evil. He was considered the greatest man in the East. Even God is impressed with Job. That is when everything seemed to go wrong. God may have been impressed with Job but not the Dark One. He is convinced his pious ways would pass once hardship entered his life. Sad but true, God grants Satan permission to test Job. The tests are not easy, they are hard. Over a short period of time, he loses everything. Job’s money is gone. His oxen, donkeys and lambs are taken by foreign raiders, who killed most of the servants. His relationships are gone. All ten of his children, seven sons and three daughters, are gone in an instant by a mighty wind from the wilderness, while partying at the eldest son’s home. Even his good looks are gone. He is covered with painful boils from head to toe. He loses everything, except for his charming wife. She adds nothing to his life. Too bad the raiders didn’t take her too. Thank goodness for his friends. Job was fortunate. He had three true friends. At first, they say nothing, but in time they begin to speak. Their words are not helpful, they are damaging. They offer Job nothing but bad advice. Job rebukes them and begins to question God. All this takes us to this morning’s scripture lesson.

The thirty-eighth chapter is significant because it is the first time God, Himself, speaks. The first eleven verses are His opening words. Those words set the tone for the entire discussion. To say the least, God puts Job in his place. God reminds Job that he created everything and brought order to the universe. That means God is in charge and has the final word. Mankind is only a temporary fixture in this world, but God is eternal. God is God and Job is nothing. Some things don’t change. God is still God and, we are nothing. It is a humbling thing to compare yourself to God. When was the last time you compared yourself to God? Can I state the obvious? We live in arrogant times.

One of the things we must guard against is arrogance. Proverbs 16:5 says, “God detests arrogance of the heart; Be sure of this: they will not go unpunished.” There is a world of difference between confidence and arrogance. Webster defines confidence as, trusting in our own abilities, qualities and judgement. Webster defines arrogance as, exaggerating one’s own worth. You can be confident and humble. It is impossible to be arrogant and humble. Confident people can use their gifts to the glory of God. Arrogant people only promote themselves. There is a world of difference between self-confidence and arrogance.

Many believe, including me, we live in extremely arrogant times, especially in America. Many believe we simply don’t need God because our world supplies all our needs. Just think about it for a moment. From the moment we are born, we are told America is different from the rest of the world. We are told Americans is better than the rest of the world. We have an economy that is healthy and a military that is powerful. We see people trying to come into America illegally because they want what we have, opportunity. Our patriotism tells us to be proud of America, but when does our national pride turn into national arrogance? That is a hard question to answer. It is hard not to be arrogant, when you considered all the modern advances we have made.

We have advanced when it comes to communication. Years ago, Kathryn would travel to Eastern Europe and I would stay home with the girls. During those early trips, we would hear nothing from her for two weeks. We used to joke CNN will tell us if something goes wrong. Over the years, those trips have changed. Today, we travel together, and communicate daily with people at home. Sometimes, it is a text. Sometimes, it is an email. Occasionally, it is phone call. Some call me when I’m out of the country and they think I’m in the country because the signal is so clear. It is an incredible evolution. It is a good time to be alive. We have advanced when it comes to communication.

We have made advances in transportation. Did you know it took the Pilgrims 66 days to sail to North America in 1620? That is over two months. The Wright brothers had their first successful flight in 1903. That experience changed our world. People fly regularly today. When Kathryn and I flew to Scotland a few weeks ago we were there in less that twelve hours, including layovers. Did you know, according to FlightAware, there are 9,728 planes are in the air on an average day carrying 1,270,406 people? It is a good time to be alive. We have made advances in transportation.

We have made advances in medicine. Did you know Mary Queen of Scots married Francis II of France at sixteen years old in 1558? Did you know he died two years later making Mary a widow at eighteen years old? His death was tragic. He died because he got an ear infection. They didn’t know how to treat ear infections in 1560. That sad fact illustrates a simple point. We have made advances in medicine. We are making medical advances regularly. It is a good time to be alive because the medical world has advanced.

Don’t misunderstand what I am about to say. There is nothing wrong with patriotism. There is nothing wrong with advances in communications. There is nothing wrong with advances in transportation. There is nothing wrong with medical advances. There is nothing wrong with any of those things, until they lead us away from God. It is a great time to be alive, but it is a dangerous time to be alive spiritually. Each one of our blessings, each one of our advances tells us a lie. Each one says we don’t need God anymore because we have evolved beyond Him. In many ways we are like every other generation in history. Mankind always has and always will need God. Never forget, God is God. It is God who placed you in the United States of America. It is God who developed the world’s languages. It is God who gave us the minds to develop modern transportation and medicine. It is the same lesson Job received years ago. Mankind is only a temporary fixture in this world, but God is eternal. How easy it is to be arrogant in our time. Never forget, God hates arrogance.

The date was September 11, 2001. Do you remember that day? It started like every other day, but it would become a day we would never forget. You know the facts by now. There were four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda. Using commercial aircraft, they were successful on two of the attacks, the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC. They failed on a third, the White House or the Capital Building. That plane crashed in western Pennsylvania, thanks to the bravery of the passengers. In the end, 2,996 people died and over 6,000 more were injured. There was over $10 billion in property damage. Let me state the obvious. Our country changed on that day. Any innocence we had as a country was gone. For a short time our country united and swore we would never forget. It has been nearly eighteen years and we haven’t forgotten. If you were alive on that day, I don’t know how you could forget. Some things are unforgettable.

One thing you should never forget as a disciple of Jesus Christ is that God is God. That is unforgettable. In comparison, we are nothing. When was the last time you compared yourself to God? It has been said, “Humility is the greatest quality that man can have, and arrogance is undoubtedly the worst.”

Any Questions?

Years ago, The Boston Globe, carried a daily column designed to answer their readers’ questions. From those questions, the paper generated a list of ten unanswerable questions. Here’s one:

“I am nine years of age and have a cat that eats regularly and needs to go on a diet. He also eats mice when he is out. This is my question. How many calories in a mouse?”

That is an excellent question. Can anyone here answer that question, how many calories in a mouse? Some questions are harder to answer than others. In our scripture reading for today, Job asked God a hard question. If you are ready to look at this morning’s text say, “Amen!”

We find ourselves today in the thirtieth chapter of Job. Much has already happened. When our story began, Job had a good life. He was rich in resources and relationships. He feared God and shunned evil. He was the greatest man in the East. Even God is impressed with him. That is when everything seemed to go wrong. God may have been impressed with Job but not the Dark One. He is convinced his pious ways would pass once hardship entered his life. Sad but true, God grants Satan permission to test Job. The tests are not easy, they are hard. Over a short period of time, he loses everything. Job’s money is gone. His oxen, donkeys and lambs are taken by foreign raiders, who killed most of the servants. His relationships are gone. All ten of his children, seven sons and three daughters, are gone in an instant by a mighty wind from the wilderness, while partying at the eldest son’s home. Even his good looks are gone. He is covered with painful boils from head to toe. He loses everything, except for his charming wife. She adds nothing to his life. Too bad the raiders didn’t take her too. Thank goodness for his friends. Job was fortunate. He had three true friends. There is nothing exceptional about them, but their friendship. They hear about Job’s woes and bring nothing but their sympathy. For days they sit with Job and say nothing. It is Job who begins to speak. It is his words who give his friends the license to speak. Their words are not helpful. In one way or another, they blame Job for his hardships. He was being punished for his secret sins. Their bad advice is not helpful. How much bad advice have you received lately? That brings us to today’s reading.

Job is not just frustrated with His friends. He is frustrated with God too. You can hear the frustration in his words. Do not read the words in a monotone. Read the words with full emotions. Especially verse twenty, “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.” In others words, Job is mad at God. He doesn’t understand why his good life has been taken from him. He is a victim and he has done nothing wrong. Have you ever played the role of an innocent victim? You have done nothing wrong, but your life is a disaster? You ask God why, because there is nothing else to do. Let me say this clearly. Asking questions is not a sign of a lack of faith. It is a sign of a growing faith. Voltaire (1694-1778) once said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” I don’t know why people struggle with this simple point.

In my station in life, I have sat with many people in times of hardships. The details of the stories change, but the theme is constant. The person has been struggling for some time. They are both physically and emotionally exhausted. In the corner of some room, we cover the details one more time. In a moment of true bravery and honesty, the person will look at me and proclaim these words. “I know we are suppose to be faithful and not question God’s ways, but I do not understand why this is happening.” I appreciate the words of the person, but their theology is completely wrong. There is nothing wrong with questioning God. God gave us a brain, and He expects us to use it. Asking questions is not a sign of a lack of faith. It is a sign of a growing faith. You are just trying to discover God’s myserteous ways. Consider this with me.

Some of the greatest characters in the Bible asked questions. The disciples asked Jesus questions. They asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon? (Mt. 17:19) They asked where they were going to eat the Seder? (Mt. 26:17) They asked what certain parables meant. (Lk. 8:9) John the Baptist asked Jesus why he came to be baptized him. (Mt. 3:14) Peter asked, how many times should I forgive? (Mt. 18:21) Martha asked Jesus, why he didn’t care she was stuck with all the work? (Lk. 10:40) Even Pilate asked Jesus a question, are you King of the Jews? I could go on but I won’t. You get the point. Many asked questions in the Bible. Feel free to ask all the questions you want. Your questions means you are simply trying to understand God’s ways. French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss (1908-2009) once said, “Wise men doesn’t give right answers, he poses the right questions.”  

I am convinced one of the reasons we come to church is to get some of life’s basic questions answered. We don’t come to church to be involved with another fundraiser. You can have a yard sale and benefit yourself. We don’t come to church to help our community. That is why service clubs exist. We don’t come to church to make new friends. You can go to your favorite coffee counter and make friends. Church is much deeper. We come to church to get the answers life most basic questions.

  1. Does God exist? It is a fair question because our world is filled with so many complex problems. Things like climate change, conflict, inequality, poverty, government corruption, lack of education and opportunity. At times, it seems our world is out of control and we wonder why God doesn’t do something! Have you ever asked the question, does God exist?
  • Why do I exist? That is a question that haunts each one of us. We don’t just want to live and die. We want to more than consumers. Have you ever wondered why you are in this world? Have you ever wondered why you were born and what God wants me to do? Have you ever asked the question, why do I exist?
  • Where will I spend eternity? No one gets out of this world alive. As sure as I am, each one of us was born. I am sure each one of us is going to die. Without Jesus, there is no hope of salvation, but with Jesus salvation is possible. All you have to do is accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Heaven wouldn’t be the same for me without you. Have you ever asked the question, where will I spend eternity?

Church is a good place to get good answers to hard questions. Let me end with a simple story.

For the past two weeks, Kathryn and I have been in Scotland. Mark Twain once said, “Traveling broadens a man.” Today, he would have said, “Traveling broadens a person.” He was correct. Scotland was a bucket list trip for us, and it was worth every cent. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed every moment. We traveled has far north and west as the Isle of Skye. The landscape was breath-taking. We went as far south and east as Edinburgh. The history was rich. However, the best part of Scotland was the people. They maybe the nicest people in the world.

On the day, we were on the Isle of Skye. We explored the island by signing up for an all-day tour. Our tour leader and van driver was a thick accented man by the name of Bill. To say the last, Bill was a free spirit. He wore old jeans hanging on boney hips and an old faded t-shirt displaying the company’s logo. His long and unkept hair kept falling in his face. His face exposed his age. Bill was in his seventies. He had an outgoing personality and was well informed on a variety of topics. He told us about local history, geology and politics. At every stop along our journey, he encouraged people to ask questions. My wife is not afraid to ask a good question.

Somewhere along the way, Kathryn asked about the religious practices of the people in that area. Bill responded by saying, “That’s a good question.” He wasn’t wrong. It was a good question. This is the truth. In the past religion, Protestant versus Roman Catholic, divided Scotland. That was about five hundred years ago. Religion was one of Mary Queen of Scots problems. Today, religion has no influence on Scottish society. As a matter of fact, most of the church buildings in Europe are owned by the government. The reason is simple. The worshipping congregations are so small, they can’t afford to maintain the ancient buildings. The government needs those ancient churching building to maintain the tourist industry. Tourism is the second largest industry in Scotland. According to the Scottish government, 51% of Scots have no religious affiliation and only 3.7% attend church on a regular basis. In America, according to the Pew Research Group, 37% attend church regularly. Kathryn’s question about the religious practices of Scots was a good question. Can I ask you a good question?

If you could ask God only one question, what would it be? Would it be a question about our complex world? Would it be a question about our complex country? Would it be a question about your complex life? Would it be a question about your eternity? Never forget it. Questions are a sign of a growing faith. What would you ask God? Do you remember the quote from Voltaire? He once said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

Just Stop!

We find ourselves today in the thirteenth chapter of Job. Much has already happened. When our story began, Job had a good life. He was rich in resources and relationships. He feared God and shunned evil. He is the greatest man in the East. Even God is impressed with him. That is when everything seemed to go wrong. God may have been impressed with Job but not the Dark One. He is convinced his pious ways would pass once hardship entered his life. Sad but true, God grants Satan permission to test Job. The tests are not easy, they are hard. Over a short period of time, he loses everything. Job’s money is gone. His oxen, donkeys and lambs are taken by foreign raiders, who killed most of the servants. His relationships are gone. All ten of his children, seven sons and three daughters, are gone in an instant by a mighty wind from the wilderness, while partying at the eldest son’s home. Even his good looks are gone. He is covered with painful boils from head to toe. He loses everything, except for his charming wife. She adds nothing to his life. Too bad the raiders didn’t take her too. Thank goodness for his friends.

When we last left Job and his friends, they were sitting on the ground, not a single word was uttered. It is Job who broke the silence. They are not words of hope and praise. They are dark words. Chapter three begins by Job cursing the day is was born. His words are as close has he will get to curing God, but Job never curses God. However, Job’s words give his friends a license to speak themselves and speak they do. It takes nine chapters to contain all the words that Job’s friends spoke. In one form or another, Job’s friends deliver a single message. They believed Job’s suffering in this world is his own fault. It was a common belief in their time. Many believed, human suffering was a product of personal sin. The more you sin, the more suffering you must endure. That line of thought did not die with that generation. It was even found in Jesus’ time. Do you remember the story of the man born blind? The disciples asked Jesus, who sinned? Was it the blind man or his parents? Personal sin is one answer to suffering. You can make a case for it in our time. There is a surplus of human suffering, because there is a surplus of sin. There is a problem with this line of thinking. It is wrong. In other words, Job’s friends gave him some bad advice and Job recognizes it. In our scripture reading for today, Job tells them to stop. It is not a matter of what Job’s friends knew. It was a matter of who Job’s friends didn’t know. They didn’t know God and they didn’t know God’s ways. Can I ask you a question? Have you ever been given some bad advice?

One of the best people in the world is my sister, Susan. In a few days, she is scheduled for knee surgery. I was talking to her the other night. The topic of her knee came up. She started by saying, “If you have any horror stories about knee surgeries, I don’t want to hear it.” I didn’t. This is an amazing time to be alive. I am confident everything will go well, and she will be able to resume her tennis career. She warned me not to start the bad news stories because she has been overwhelmed with people’s bad advice. People have told her the doctor is a quack. People have told her hospital is filled with germs. People have told her about every possible mishap that can happen. She has decided not to tell anyone anymore about her knee surgery because she has had enough unhelpful advice. She is not the only one. That happens to everyone, who has a problem or a crisis. It is one of the things which made a personal problem or crisis harder.

I am not just talking about medical issues. I am talking about life. Any kind of change in your life welcomes unsolicited advice givers. You know it is true. On the day you announce you are getting married, someone will say, “Why are you marrying that person?” On the day, you announce you are going to have a baby someone will say, “I wouldn’t want to be raising a child in this world.” On the day, you buy a new home someone will say, “Why did you buy in that neighborhood?” On the day you announce, you have purchased a new car someone will say, “I bought one of those once. It was a lemon.” I could go on, but I won’t. You get the point. Our ears are filled with unsolicited advice. Bernard Williams (1929-2003) once said, “Unsolicited advice is the junk mail of life.” Have you every wished they would just stop? This is the question I have asked a million times.

Why do people feel like they have the license to give advice? It is an excellent question. Psychology Today posted an article on the topic on December 31, 2017. They say, there is no single answer. There are a variety of answers. Consider this list with me. Maybe you know someone who fits into one of these categories? Maybe you fit into one of these categories?

          1. Unsolicited advice givers are rigid. They believe there is only one way to solve a problem. For them, there is no Plan B. For them, it is all or nothing, black or white. How many rigid advice givers do you know? How rigid are you?

          2. Unsolicited advice givers are arrogant. They believe they are more intelligent, sensible, or special than others. They believe the world would run smoother if everyone would listen to them. How many arrogant advice givers do you know? How arrogant are you?

          3. Unsolicited advice givers are compulsive. They lack any self-awareness or self-discipline. They simply can’t help giving advice. They are unaware of how their actions or words affect others. How many compulsive advice givers do you know? How compulsive are you?

          4. Unsolicited advice givers are controlling. Some give advice and don’t even care about the person. What they just want to control the situation. How many controlling advice givers do you know? How controlling are you?

          5. Unsolicited advice givers are lazy or selfish. They are tired of hearing your problems, so they give advice to change the topic. It is their way of saying you have talked about you long enough. I want the attention focused on me. How many lazy or selfish advice givers do you know? How lazy or selfish are you?

I do not know how to categorize Job’s friends, but I do know their advice was wrong. The source of human suffering is not sin. That is not just my opinion, it was Job’s opinion. In the end, he dismisses the foolish words of his friends, and he returns to God’s. I hope you can do the same. Let me end with my own tale way wayward advice.

It was the end of a long day. I had been suffering with my viral infection for several weeks. I didn’t know it than, but I know it now, because my doctor told me. I was at the church at 4:30 AM to pray and say, “Good-bye,” to the youth going to Knoxville for this year’s mission trip. That meant I stood outside in the excessive heat and pollen for about an hour. When I returned home, I had another cup of coffee and began to review my material for the morning. I preached at 8:30, 9:15 and 11:00. It was the 8:30 service that did the damage. Trying to speak in the open air in Louisiana-like weather was more than my lungs could handle. I was next to worthless at 9:15 and 11:00. I was frustrated because I love to preach, and I physically just couldn’t do it. Throughout the morning, people saw I was struggling, and they wanted to help. I received what seemed like million pieces of advice. I was told what to eat. I was told what to drink. I was told what to breath. I heard about about everyone’s sinus, viral, and allergy history. Someone told me my end was near. (At that moment it sounded good. I wanted to go home early.) It was a long morning, but I survived. That afternoon, Kathryn and I drove to the Akron area. To be more exact, she drove, and I slept. My great nephew, Luke, was getting his Eagle award in the Boy Scouts and I refused to miss it. I was proud of him and I was proud to give the invocation and the benediction in the service. There was a wonderful dinner afterwards. As I ate, complete strangers gave me more free bad medical advice. When I returned home in the early evening, I was done for the day. Kathryn turned on the television to watch her Sunday night shows, the ones where everyone speaks with a British accent while solving murders. I decided to escape to a good friend’s house to escape my world. As usual, I walked in the back door without knocking. I was greeted by his two dogs, Cooper and Bailey, and in my broken voice yelled out, “So, what is happening?” My friend responded, as usual, “You are.” I sat in my usual spot and my friend’s wife looked at me and said, “You are sick! What are they doing for you?” It was painful to speak, and I was tired of talking about my health.” I gave her the quick version and she began to give me her medical advice. I said to her what I wanted to say to everyone else with their medical advice on that long day, “Just stop!” She was shocked because I didn’t want to hear he wisdom. I know, I offended her, but at that moment, I didn’t care. I simply had enough of people’s advice. Can I ask you a question? Is there anyone in your life you would like to say, “Just stop?”

For seven days his friends sat with Job in silence. It was Job who started talking. That gave his friends permission to talk. However, their words were not helpful. How helpful are your words when a friend is in need? Do you remember the quote from Chuck Swindoll? He once said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”  I cannot disagree with that quote.

Good Fellows

Once again, we find ourselves in the second chapter of Job. Much has already happened. When our story began, Job had a good life. He was rich in resources and relationships. He feared God and shunned evil. He is the greatest man in the East. Even God is impressed with him. That is when everything seemed to go wrong. God may have been impressed with Job, but not the Dark One. Satan is convinced Job’s pious ways would pass once hardship entered his life. Sad but true, God grants Satan permission to test Job. The tests are not easy; they are hard. Over a short period of time, he loses everything. Job’s money is gone. His oxen, donkeys and lambs are taken by foreign raiders, who killed most of the servants. His relationships are gone. All ten of his children are gone in an instant by a mighty wind from the wilderness, while partying at the eldest son’s home. Even his good looks are gone. He is covered with painful boils from head to toe. He loses everything, except for his charming wife. She adds nothing to his life. Too bad the raiders didn’t take her too! 😊. Thank goodness for his friends. That is who we look at today.

According to the text, Job had three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. There is nothing exceptional about them. They are simply remembered for their friendship. They hear about Job’s hardships and decide to respond. They travel together to spend some time with him. They only bring one thing with them. It is not money or personal wisdom. The only thing they bring with them is their sympathy. Verse twelve tells us, when they saw Job in the distance, they did not recognize him. They are emotionally moved, and sit with Job for seven days, not saying a single word. Sometimes, silence is the wisest response. They are the embodiment of true friendship. If you have one true friend, then you have been given a great gift. Helen Keller (1880-1968) once said, “Walking in the darkness with a friend is better than walking in the light alone.”  I can’t disagree with that quote. I am fortunate to have several good friends. Let me state the obvious.

There is a world of difference between a friend and an acquaintance. Webster defines an acquaintance as, a person who knows someone slightly. Webster defines a friend as, a person you know and with whom you have a bond of mutual affection. Do you hear the difference? An acquaintance is someone you know. A friend is someone you like and respect. How many acquaintances do you have in your life? How many true friends do you have in your life? You may have many acquaintances in your life, but only a few friends. Job must have known many people, but Job only had three true friends. Let me give you an example.

The Canfield Fair returns in about a month. As county fairs go, it is the best. I like the Canfield Fair. My wife loves the Canfield Fair. She should be paid by the fair board for promoting it. She will go every day, so I will go every day. I don’t mean from dawn until dusk. I mean we go every day for a few hours. As I walk around the Canfield fair with her, holding my lemon shake, french fries and sausage sandwich, I will run into people. I will say a few words to them and move on. Kathryn will always ask me the same question: How did you know that person? Every answer is different. Sometimes, I met them at a wedding. Sometimes, I met them at a funeral. Sometimes, they visited the church at some point, or they rented the church hall for some graduation party. In twenty-five years, I have met a lot of people. My children used to complain about having to stop all the time at the Canfield Fair so I could talk to someone. I always said, “If I had a real job, we wouldn’t be here at all.” I am not unique in that way. We all have many acquaintances. I wish everyone had one true friend. My wife says part of the magic here is that everyone thinks they are my friend. She may be right. How many acquaintances do you have? How many true friends do you have? There is a world of difference between the two. The scripture for today is not about Job’s acquaintances. It is about Job’s friends.

This is not the only place in the Bible where friendship is mentioned. Friendships are not just mentioned in the Old Testament or the New Testament. Friendships are found in the entire Bible. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.”  Consider these Biblical friends with me:

Jonathan and David

Elijah and Elisha

Paul and Timothy

Ruth and Naomi

Mark and Paul

John and Jesus

Moses and Aaron

Abraham and Lot

Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus

They were all friends. When I was in the Bluegrass State, my congregation could not sing What a Friend We Have in Jesus enough. So, this is the question we must answer:

Why are friendships so important? Harvard University tells us solid friendships promote “brain health.” I am not sure what that means, but I need all the “brain health” I can get. Mental health professionals tell us there are four important reasons why friends are important. Consider these with me.

  1. Friends encourage and support – Friends are especially important in a time of crisis and turbulence. Your friends will get you through that transitional period.
  2. Friends will help your selfesteem – Friends see the best in you.
  3. Friends keep you active – In other words, your friends get you involved in the world. No one is meant to live on an island.
  4. Friends can be a positive influence – We make friends with people we admire. They bring the best out of you.

Let me give you some pastoral advice. Don’t ever take your friends for granted. They are extremely important.

It was the fall of 1975. I was an incoming freshman at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio. It was a time of transition in my life. My high school days were over, and those friendships were fading. My college days were beginning, and those friendships were being formed. I didn’t know it then, but those friendships would become very valuable to me. One of those friendships was with a boy named Jim. He was a skinny, tall biology major from Hanoverton, Ohio. That friendship came easily. I am not uncomfortable saying that every moment with him was special. We were roommates during our sophomore year. That was when our friendships were forged. From the very beginning, we had differences of opinions. However, those opinions never really mattered. We respected one another and listened to what the other had to say. There were no secrets between us. There was no topic that was off limits. Countless times, he visited my family in Warren, meeting my extended family. Countless times, I visited his family farm in Hanoverton, and met his extended family.

When we graduated from college, I knew our friendship would endure. I am not saying we talked every day, but we stayed connected. I knew he was out there for me. I like to think he knew I was there for him. In time, we would both go into the ministry in the United Methodist Church, yet our careers took a different path. I found a home here, and he became the ultimate itinerant soldier. Through the years, he served churches in Hubbard, Canfield, Toronto, Shelby, Doylestown and New Philadelphia. For a six-year period, he served as a District Superintendent. He was professionally respected by many. I will be honest with you. I was proud of his success and he was proud of my longevity. I will never forget the day he told me he had decided to retire. He said, “Russ, 38 years is enough.”

He decided to go home to retire, to Hanoverton. Kathryn and I were excited because he was going to be close. We dreamed of the things we were going to do together. He bought a small place on Guilford Lake, surrounded by his family. Kathryn and I were there several times. Once, he took us for a ride on his pontoon boat. Once, he took us out to dinner for our anniversary and it wasn’t our anniversary. It was like a dream come true. We talked about him coming here to help me with visitation. When he told me he accepted another position, I was disappointed.  Yet, I understood. I will never forget the day that he took Kathryn and me to the cemetery where his parents, Don and Elinor, were buried. It was on that trip he showed us where he was going to be buried. That day came too soon.

Six months into his retirement, he was visiting another friend in the Canton area. That was when the unthinkable happened. He was driving home to get ready for Christmas Eve, when he was in a horrible traffic accident. Several days later, Jim died. I have never had the emotional outpouring that some expected. It almost came as I wrote this message. Maybe the reason is I am still in denial? Maybe I decided to talk about his death because I am still wrestling with the truth. Jim is dead. On Memorial Day, Kathryn and I drove to visit Jim Humphrey’s grave. He is buried next to his mother, as it should be. As I stood next to my friend’s grave, I noticed how lonely this world truly is. Like Job, I have many acquaintances, but very few true friends. Can I ask you a personal question? How many true friends do you have? Don’t take a one for granted. You will not know how valuable they are until they are gone.

The Good Wife

This week we find ourselves in the second chapter of Job. You remember his story. In the beginning, Job had a good life. He was rich in resources and relationships. He was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. God Himself was pleased with Job and boasts about him to the Dark One. Satan scoffed at God’s observations and asked God for permission to test Job’s pious ways. Unfortunately, God granted Satan permission. Satan is convinced that in those tests, the relationship between God and Job will be damaged. It is the same reason Satan tests us. Job’s testing came on in an instant. Change usually does. Job may have had the worst day in the history of the world.

Prior to our reading, we are told that Job’s ten children, his seven sons and three daughters, were having a good time at the home of his eldest son. The party came to a quick halt, when a messenger arrived with some bad news. The oxen were plowing, and the donkeys were feeding nearby, when raiders came and took them away. By the way, they killed the slaves that tended the animals as well. That messenger was the only one who survived. Still in shock over this bad news, a second messenger arrives with more bad news. Three more bands of raiders came and stole the camels. By the way, those servants were killed too. He was the only one who had survived. Then, the bad day got worse. A great wind from the wilderness came and blew down the house of his eldest son. There were no survivors. That means, all of Job’s children are dead. Over a short period of time, Job went from a man who was rich in resources and relationships to a man who was poor and alone, with his wife. When chapter one ends, we find Job a broken man, but not a beaten man. His core value of God remains intact. This next line is key. After losing most of his blessings, he falls on the ground and worships God. I would like to say his hardships were over, but I can’t.

Chapter two begins as chapter one began. Satan, along with the angels, is presenting himself to God in heaven. The Almighty One asks the Dark One where he has been. The answer is the same. He has been wandering around the earth. Once again, God asks him if he has considered Job. (Don’t you wish God would have stopped mentioning Job?) He is blameless and upright. He fears God and shuns evil. Once again, Satan scoffs at God. He says, Job’s attacks must be more personal in order to damage his faith. God grants Satan permission to test Job yet again. This attack is not for the vain. He is covered from head to toe with painful boils. The pain and the discomfort are real. Job, in a picture of complete despair, takes a broken pot and scrapes himself while sitting in a pile of ash. It is at this moment the main character in our story for today suddenly appears.

Job’s wife, we don’t know her name, appears on the scene. She takes an inventory of everything he has lost. Let’s be honest. She takes an inventory of everything she has lost, and she becomes verbally abusive. She is not impressed by his faith and integrity. She is confused by it. In what must have been emotional words, she says in 2:9, “Curse God and die.” At that moment, Job must have wished the raiders would come back to get her too! I would not call their marriage a happy union, but it does illustrate that all marriages are tested from time to time. How many tests has your marriage endured?

Back in 2013, Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott released a report on marriage. They have been married for over forty years, and they will confess they have had their share of personal problems. However, they will also say there is a difference between a bad fight and a good fight. In a good fight, you are sharing ideas and opinions. Everyone has different passions. In a bad fight, you are damaging the relationship itself. They say married couples generally fight about these five things:

  1. Money They say the issue is not a lack of money. It is a lack of influence, and conflicting priorities. You don’t care about sacrificing something that is important to you. You do mind sacrificing for something that isn’t important to you.
  • Sex It is an uncomfortable topic, but it is an important topic. Everyone has a different sex drive. It is important to align your libidos.
  • Work It doesn’t matter whether you work at home or you work away from home. It is important for the couple to be alone, away from their children and their responsibilities. Research tells us only 25% of couples have dinner alone once a month. Your marriage is not about your children or your other responsibilities. Your marriage is about the two of you.
  • Children It is important that children see a unified front. If they don’t see a unified front, then they will divide and conquer. Every couple needs to generate those rules and standards for parenting alone. Children may enjoy the show, but it is unhealthy. Children are accountable to their parents, not parents to their children.
  • Chores On the day you start keeping score of who is doing family chores and who is not, you have lost. That’s a bad idea. The scales of marriage are always in flux. Keeping score is setting you up for turmoil.

On May 27 of this year, Kathryn and I celebrated our thirty-first anniversary. I have never preached much on marriage, because I don’t feel like I’m a marriage expert. However, this is also true: I have been married for thirty-one years, so I must know something about the topic. Do you know what I have learned about marriage? There is more to it than “Happy Wife, Happy Life. There is more to it, than “If Momma ain’t happy then no one is happy.” I have learned that the secret to a happy marriage is sharing the same core values. I am not really talking about hobbies, things like bird watching or baseball. I am talking about your core values. What are the most important things to you as an individual? What are the most important things to you as a couple? Kathryn and I are different people, with different interests, but our core values are the same. That was the problem with Job and his wife. Their core values weren’t the same. His core values were built on God. Her core values were built on the temporary things of this world. That is why the Bible talks about being equally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). If you have found someone in this world who can tolerate your odd ways and share your core values, then you should be thankful. Don’t ever take that relationship for granted. Cherish that person and praise God for it. You have been given a great gift.

Equally yoked Christian couples seem to know three things the world has never known. Never forget these three Biblical truths:

  1. God is bigger – God is bigger than any problem that will enter your marriage. God is eternal and unchanging. God exists outside of time and knows every detail of your life and marriage. God has never been surprised. Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in him at all times, you people, pour out your hearts to Him, for God is your refuge.”
  • Two are better than one – In hardships, never forget, you are part of a team. Share your fears and your insecurities. Listen to your spouse’s heart and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.
  • Hardships have a purpose – Why did God permit Job to be tested? There is only one reason. God wanted Job to be stronger in the end. That is why God permits us to be tested. Satan wants us to fail. God wants us to be stronger. God wants you to make some progress in the faith (James 1:2-4). Are you making any progress in the Christian faith?

Let me end with a personal story from my time in the ministry. Their names were Lamont and Jean. They were a wonderful Christian couple with a wonderful Christian spirit. They are both gone now, but they were a big part of this church when I arrived twenty-five years ago. They had been married for decades. Their lives were filled with many wonderful memories and pride in their successful children. When I arrived, they spent most of their days alone at home, facing various medical problems. One day, I called them, and they invited me over. When I arrived, Lamont met me at the door with a smile and a handshake. Jean was sitting on the couch, limited by a recent surgery. I looked at them and said, “So, what are you two doing today?” He responded for them both, “Nothing special. We are just sitting here looking at one another.” I knew what he was saying, but I couldn’t agree. I said, “Someday, you are going to look back on today and remember this as a good day.” I wasn’t wrong. Lamont died first and Jean, even though surrounded by loved ones, was alone without him. Her life was never the same without him. I tell you this story for one reason. Don’t ever take the love of your life for granted. Every day together is a great gift. Job reminds us that life is filled with all kinds of hardships. There is a world of difference between facing those hardships alone and facing those hardships together. Chuck Swindoll (born 1934) is a Christian evangelical pastor, educator and radio preacher. He founded Insight for Living, which airs on 2,000 radio stations in 15 different countries around the world. He once said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”