Looking for a New Job?

I couldn’t resist this. Sorry… 

My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned: couldn’t concentrate.

Next I tried working in a muffler factory, but that was exhausting.

Then I worked in the woods as a lumberjack, but I just couldn’t hack it, so they gave me the axe.

After that I tried to be a tailor, but I just wasn’t suited for it. Mainly because it was a so-so job.

I worked as a pilot but eventually got grounded for taking off too much.

Then I tried teaching, but I couldn’t make the grade.

I spent a few years as a Psychiatrist, but everyone’s problems drove me crazy.

 I wanted to be a barber, but I just couldn’t cut it.

Then I tried to be a chef–figured it would add a little spice to my life, but I just didn’t have the thyme.

 I attempted to be a deli worker, but any way I sliced it, I couldn’t cut the mustard.

 My best job was being a musician, but eventually I found I wasn’t noteworthy.

I was a pretty good eye doctor, but I could not stay focused on the job.

I worked a long time as a doctor.  I gave it my best shot, but didn’t have enough patients.

 Next was a job in a shoe factory; but it never touched my sole.   

The Energizer Battery Company hired me, but then expected me to keep going, and going, and going…

I became a professional fisherman, but discovered that I couldn’t live on my net income.

I managed to get a good job working for a pool maintenance company, but the work was just too draining. 

I got a job at a zoo feeding giraffes, but I was fired because I wasn’t up to it.

So then I got a job in a gymnasium (work-out-center), but they said I wasn’t fit for the job.

Of course, I tried being a secretary, but it turned out not to be my type of work.

My years as an exterminator were pretty good, but I got tired of the rat race.

Next, I found being an electrician interesting, but I had no outlets on the weekends I was off.

I was a gardener for a while, but I didn’t grow with the job even though I was raking in the money.

My career as a comedian was a stand-up success, but the critics thought I was a big joke. 

I even tried to become an astronaut, but I would often space out during training.

After many years of trying to find steady work I finally got a job as a historian until I realized there was no future in it.

I even tried working at Starbucks, but I had to quit because it was always the same old grind.

I trained to become a professional wild turkey caller, but my job got gobbled up by the recession.

Finally, I became a pastor and loved it. Unfortunately, I was transferred to a church in Berlin and became a German Shepherd.

Now I am retired but work part-time as a meteorologist because my joints are more accurate than the National Weather Service. I live in a retirement community where all my secrets are safe with my friends because they can’t remember them.

Hope you find a good job sooner than I did.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! (gobble gobble)

Quid Pro Quo…

Something given for something expected in return…. quid pro quo. This term has dominated the media lately because of its relationship to the impeachment hearings. President Trump is accused of asking the president of a foreign country to investigate a political rival in exchange for military aid and an invitation to the White House. We will see how such an accusation plays out and whether or not it is found to be an impeachable offense. I’m sure you have your opinions.

However, did you know that many followers of Jesus are also guilty of quid pro quo? In Matthew 19, Jesus finished his interview with a very wealthy and disappointed young man who had asked how he could have eternal life. Jesus said that he needed to give up everything he had to the poor, and come and follow him. The young man’s heart was so shackled to his possessions that it blinded him to his own greed and displaced his ability to exercise child-like faith in the only one who could give him eternal life. And so, the young man walked away.

Jesus then said to his disciples that it would be easier for a Mazda RX8 to fit through the cash slot of an ATM machine than for a rich man to get into heaven (or something like that with a camel and a needle). The disciples were amazed at this because their religion and culture had taught them that prosperity was a sign of God’s blessing. So, if a wealthy person could not be saved, who could be? Jesus responded in essence, “It’s not a matter of being rich or poor. It is impossible for anyone to be saved apart from God’s power.”

Peter was a bit destabilized by all of this and felt that he needed to remind Jesus (19:27–30) how much they had given up in order to follow him. Jesus replied that God is not a piker or cheapskate. While he calls us to a life of sacrifice and suffering, he does not remove from us the capability of enjoying life’s blessings that he showers upon us. “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (v. 27). I think it was the missionary Hudson Taylor who said that “every time he gave up anything for God he found he received so much blessing that he felt himself better off for having given up whatever it was.” (Leon Morris, Commentary on Matthew, 496) This is what so many have learned about a life of ministry and sacrifice; the more you give, the more God blesses—not as a reward, but because he is graciously generous.

I’m only guessing what Peter must have been thinking, but it could have been, “well ok, if I give up everything to follow Jesus then he is going to give all this to me in return. Wow—what a deal!” Here is the very subtle quid pro quo mentality into which we can so easily slip and begin to impugn God’s generosity. If I do something for God then he will do something for me. If I have enough faith then he will heal me. If I give $100 then he will give me $10,000 because he promised right here in his Word he would give 100 fold in return for what I give. If I am faithful to God and pray every day for my kids, he won’t let anything bad happen to my family. However, when God acts differently than our “deal” dictates, then we cry “unfair!” I remember hearing Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, speak about the financial crisis of his ministry when he faced the hardest year of his life. He told God, “after all I have done for you, and you do this to me?” I also remember a dear pastor friend, who had been in ministry longer than I had been alive, telling me when he was first diagnosed with prostate cancer, “I have served God faithfully for 60 yrs. and look what he has given me?” Both of these men worked through their crisis of faith. Unfortunately, I know those who still carry a grudge against God for not upholding his part of the bargain and are still trying to impeach him.

Do you gravitate toward this kind of thinking? It can be ruinous to your friendship with God. It can lead you to treat him like an adversary. The opposite of quid pro quo is fiducia- trust, confidence, assurance, faith, reliance, and security. You don’t have to make deals with someone you trust; just …. trust him. God will take care of you even though the road is difficult and dark and not at all what you expected. He doesn’t cut deals, but honors his covenant promises in Christ. Wait for him. “Anyone who trusts in him will not be disappointed” (Rom 10:11). “Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isa 49:23).


In a moment, life changes forever…

A couple of weeks ago I was driving from Annapolis, Maryland to Strasburg, Pennsylvania—before sunrise. It was a beautiful drive once I got around the Baltimore Beltway into the countryside and onto the serpentine roads of northern MD and southern PA. As the sun was starting to bulge over the horizon, some of the houses were still mostly dark with just a light or two flickering on as people were getting up for work or school. A new day was dawning. I’m sure that most thought it was just going to be another day of doing the same old thing—at least it was Friday, relief was in sight.

I mused that for some, however, something might take place today that would change life forever. Life would never be the same. Someone might die or receive a diagnosis of a terminal disease. Someone might discover a spousal affair or get divorced. Someone might get fired or go bankrupt; whatever the event, everything would change. Life would be dominated by it—nothing would be able to contend with its significance, not only to an individual but to an entire family. How does one ever prepare for such a thing? How does one cope once it happens?

It brought to mind the lives of two of our next door neighbors. One was an older lady who had cancer and was one day being picked up by a friend for a chemo treatment. There was no answer when the friend knocked on the door or tried to call on her cell phone. I was in the yard, packing the car for a vacation trip. The friend saw me and asked if I would go into the house and see why the neighbor was not answering her door or phone. I went in, calling her name and heard a muffled “help” coming from the basement. Apparently, our dear neighbor had fallen down the cellar stairs and was lying on the cold cement floor. She was conscious but very weak. She said she had been there since the night before and could not move. I covered her up with more blankets, called 911, and prayed with her until the paramedics came and took her to the hospital. When we returned from our vacation 2 weeks later, we found out the she had died. Life suddenly changed for her entire family.

A second neighbor, a good man in his late 50’s early 60’s, also fell down his basement steps less than two months ago. His adult sons estimate he had been lying at the bottom of the stairs unconscious for 2 days before they found him. He never fully regained consciousness. I visited him in the hospital as did some of our neighbors. It was determined that he had injured his brain in the fall and would never regain the use of his limbs. When his organs began shutting down, they brought him home under Hospice care. He died last week and we had a very meaningful celebration of life service for him hosted by his sons. My neighbor and I had talked a few times about eternal things—one time being just after I received my cancer diagnosis. He was open and receptive. I pray that he continued to move towards God. Life has suddenly and radically changed for his family.

I am sure that you can think of more examples of how life suddenly changed for some of your neighbors, friends, and their families—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. First there was light . . . then came the night. Maybe you have had such an experience.

So, as we turn the lights on every morning wondering if this will be the day life will change, we can do so in one of three ways:

  • We can take life for granted and believe that things like this happen to others and not to us—anyway, the weekend is coming.
  • We can fear life and what it might bring to the extent we take no risks, close our hearts to others, and never enjoy the adventure of our journey.
  • We can embrace life in all its richness by daily entrusting ourselves into the care of a loving and sovereign God who will not allow anything to come into our lives that has not first passed through his Fatherly hand. A God who loves us more than we know and gave himself to us in his Son, Jesus Christ.

In the darkness and uncertainty of WWII, Pastor Helmut Thielicke wrote a small book titled, “The Silence of God.” In it there is a sentence that has helped me face my own fear and uncertainty about tomorrow. He said, “If the last hour belongs to God, we do not need to fear the next moment.”

Thoughts on Racism…

There was an article in the Daily Herald (Chicago) this week about a group of 18 mostly African-Americans being asked to change tables at a local Buffalo Wild Wings because some regular “white” customers didn’t want the group to sit near them. This blatant racist behavior was reported and 2 managers were fired; some people were calling for a boycott of BWW until safeguards such as sensitivity training, etc. were put in place.

It is true that we don’t know the whole story, which doesn’t call the incident into question, but it does raise the question of why such a thing continues to happen over and over again after so much publicity and media attention. Racism is defined as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race/ethnicity based upon the belief that one’s own race is superior.” I think that this is too narrow a definition. While such feelings of racial superiority can be part of the mix, I believe that the underlying causes for racism are far more complex and deceitful.

In Numbers 12, there is an account of an older sister, Miriam, and a younger brother, Aaron, criticizing their brother Moses for marrying a Cushite woman. Cush was a region of southern Ethiopia, where black-skinned people lived. “Can an Ethiopian (same word translated “Cushite”) change his skin or a leopard his spots? Then also you can [not] do good who are accustomed to evil” (Jeremiah 13:23). As an aside: Moses had married a Midianite woman, Zipporah, 40 years earlier whom he had met in the Sinai region after his escape from Pharaoh. The Midianites were originally from northern Arabia, but many had migrated to Sinai. Reading between the lines, there is a good chance that Zipporah had died, or that she had left him again like she did in Ex 4:18-20, and was living with her father’s family back in the Sinai. Either way, Moses’ new wife was not Zipporah. I doubt that Miriam and Aaron would have complained about her after 40 years.

So the sibs criticized Moses for marrying a black woman, who was not an Israelite. The text implies that Miriam took the lead in this family dispute. We would call this racism, but it wasn’t racial superiority that prompted the slur. The underlying cause for this racism was jealousy (especially Miriam’s) of Moses’ leadership position and the belief that she could totally do a better job (note the “plague-gate” quail issue in Numbers 11). God punished Miriam severely by striking her with leprosy that turned her skin “white.” John Piper suggests that in Numbers 12:10 God is in effect saying, “you like being light-skinned Miriam? I’ll make you white as snow.” She was not punished for being a racist but, because she was jealous of Moses and criticized the leadership of someone whom God had appointed. Aaron confessed his sin and wasn’t punished, while Moses prayed for his sister’s healing and was heard.

This text is not only a study of how a leader handles criticism with humility and restraint, but also shows that there are deeper reasons for the sin of racism than just the belief of “racial supremacy.” There could be lurking a heart of jealousy, of fear, of inferiority, or of just going along with the crowd in order to be accepted. As we have seen in the case of the Holocaust, Hitler made the Jewish race a scapegoat for the problems of the nation. There could be that same blame-shifting mentality among some people who see law and order disrupted by the “foreign element” and people who don’t “look like” they belong here. A case in point is the story of the 61 yr. old white man in Milwaukee who was arrested over this past weekend for throwing battery acid in the face of an Hispanic man while shouting, “why did you come here and invade my country?”

Sins of the heart cannot be punished by human law, but it is fairly obvious that ignoring the deeper issues of racism yields little fruit. In fact, racism is a growing problem not a lessening one that can’t be treated as mere ignorance dealt with by prison time, lawsuits, sensitivity training, and politically correct language. In fact, such “antidotes” tend to inflame the sinful heart instead of being a remedy. Certainly a society must bring law into the picture in order to protect racial and ethnic minorities from oppression and hate crimes, but, at the same time, it cannot ignore the place of faith as a part of the solution for the racial divide because it is the function of religion (not law) to address issues of the heart. Thus instead of criticizing religion, society should encourage the practices of religious communities to challenge their membership to live out their faith and not in contradiction to it—especially as it relates to racial issues.

Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). He also told his disciples that you’ll be able to recognize the true and the false adherents to religion by their fruits, because a healthy tree cannot produce bad fruit and a bad tree cannot produce the good. (Matthew 7:15–20)

I believe that only a person in whose heart God has worked through the miracle of new birth, because of faith in Jesus Christ, can be changed from a racist to a “gracist.” This change does not usually occur overnight, but there should be an awareness of its existence in heart and attitude and a repentance that ultimately will lead to change. This repentance along with a humility to learn from and be in relationship with those of different ethnicities, brings healing of those deeper issues of the heart which often cause racial conflict, which Miriam and Aaron so vividly exemplified.

As faith communities we must continue to preach repentance and the new birth through faith in Jesus. We must also continue to examine our own hearts as well as challenge those who call themselves followers of Jesus “to put up or shut up”—to act like him, to love like him, or else they might prove to be false followers and filled with self-deceit. Jesus said, “When that day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out devils in your name, and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them to their face, ‘I never knew you: out of my sight, you and your wicked ways!'” (Matthew 7:22, 23 NEB)

I am weak, but…

I want to share a page from my journal, which I write in almost every day as a discipline. The practice has helped me track my life and to hold myself more accountable for my own thoughts, attitudes, and behavior. It also helps me to remember people I am praying for, the things that I have read in the Scripture, and the new discoveries of God’s truth that I do not want to forget. So many of my sermons and blogs have flowed out this journaling practice. Finally, the practice of journaling has also helped me sift through my feelings and emotions, as well as keeping track of my “progress” with pancreatic cancer, which has been a dominating force in my life since April, 2017.

Sunday, October 20, Day 13 (after my 8th (out of 12) chemo treatment):

Woke up with the hymn “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” running through my mind. Listened to it on YouTube. I really do feel like a “pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak but Thou art mighty, guide me with Thy powerful hand . . . Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.” Chemo sometimes makes me weepy, but this hymn brought tears to my eyes. I also listened to “It is Well with My Soul,” “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” and “I’m No Longer a Slave to Fear.” An encouraging time of worship for my sad heart—to bask in the realization of a good and powerful God, who is my Deliverer.

This reminds me, once again, how my heart responds most to songs, hymns, Scripture that magnify God and describe his greatness and power. I feel safe, like he is my Rock and Fortress; I also feel cared for because he is my strong Father. I remember when ________ (one of my sons) lost a toy down a storm drain in front of our house. The drain was covered by a very heavy metal grate that I had to dead lift in order for my boy to quickly retrieve his toy. As I was putting the grate back into position, I caught my finger underneath it and yelled in pain as I finally pulled it out. Wow, did that hurt! My boy, who was watching all of this was horrified—and ran away. He couldn’t handle seeing is strong dad, hurt.

Another memory comes to mind about how my dad and me used to wrestle when I was a kid. I always admired him for his strength and that he never used it to hurt me. I eventually joined the wrestling team in high school and started to develop physically. The day came when I realized that I could take my dad, but I continued to let him win when we wrestled. I distinctly remember the thought that I needed my dad to be stronger than me.

I will never have to worry about my Heavenly Father losing strength; I am weak, but he is mighty. . . . He is the majestic, all-powerful Creator of the Universe, and he is in control of all things. He is my “Abba,” Dad. He will never use his great strength to hurt me and nothing will ever be able to separate me from his love. My heart overflows with worship . . .

Crown Him the Lord of Years, The Potentate of Time, Creator of the rolling spheres, Ineffably sublime. All Hail, Redeemer, Hail! For Thou hast died for me; Thy praise shall never, never fail Throughout eternity! (Matthew Bridges, 1845)

A Fondness for Fear…

Over the last few days the newspaper has been filled with Halloween events all over the Chicagoland area. A few towns are actually closing off some streets to everything but walking traffic so you mingle and shop with zombies and monsters. There are haunted pumpkin patches, haunted wagon rides on haunted trails, haunted corn mazes, you can even get married in a haunted wedding venue.

I remember the days when church youth groups sponsored haunted houses, spook walks, and horror nights for evangelistic outreach. There was no intention of scaring people into the Kingdom of God, but using it as an opportunity to get teenagers to come for the scary event and then stay for a meeting where they would hear the gospel. It was based on the premise that fear attracts. Our culture recognizes that people pay good money to get scared at Halloween; the scarier the better.

All of this raises the obvious question as to why this is true—certainly not for everybody, but for a significant number of us, we just like getting scared. I trolled a number of articles on the subject, which all said about the same thing. So, I added some of my own reasons (I like haunted houses- just ask my kids) and came up with this list:

  1. People like to be afraid when it is a controlled fear as opposed to the kind of fear which make them feel out of control.
  2. People like the feeling of satisfaction that comes from having pushed the envelope of their own cautionary nature and survived the anxiety and fear which usually makes them stay within their comfort zones. Remember the feeling you had after you finished riding the scariest roller coaster, seeing the scariest movie, making it through the scariest haunted house “in the world?” After you finished throwing up, you probably felt like you could do anything.
  3. Of course, a part of that “high” is due to the endorphins and other chemicals released in your brain because of the body’s fear/risk reaction. Scientist call it a “biochemical rush” which results in an opioid-like sense of euphoria. Perhaps this was part of the reason why Eve Knievel kept going (after he had fractured 433 bones) in his dare-devil career of motor cycle jumping—that and the money, of course.
  4. People also find that controlled fear creates a sense of bonding with others. We usually don’t go to a haunted house or to a scary movie alone. We go with a group or a date. Thus, being with others in a deeply emotional but “safe” environment can create deeper ties of friendship. By the way, research shows that younger men (under 25) are more likely to go to scary things than any other age group. I remember when I was in college and took a date into Chicago to see Alfred Hitchcock’s Wait until Dark. The advertising for this movie had to be targeted toward college-age guys because it dared you to see the movie. (Guys love to be double-dogged dared to do anything). The advertising also claimed to have a scene guaranteed to make you scream. (Guys respond to this as well—”There’s no way I’m gonna scream dude…) Anyway, the movie started and we all anxiously awaited the scene. My date was clutching my arm like a tourniquet—another thing guys like. And then it happened… WOW! It came out of nowhere and the whole theatre erupted in a collective SCREAM! Not me of course, at least not on the outside…just in my bladder. Suddenly, I realized my date had disappeared. I searched and found her under the seat in front of me. I couldn’t believe that she could actually fit in that small a space so quickly- no joke. Poor kid, she wasn’t quite the same after that. I don’t think we ever went out again. She ran away every time she saw me on campus (just kidding). Guess my story doesn’t help to prove the point about fear creating deeper emotional relationships, does it? But it was fun to tell it.
  5. People also find that controlled fear is a distraction from the other things in life that really do concern or terrify us. In other words, it functions as an escape from our problems. This distraction, combined with a little alcohol and being with friends, makes Halloween a fun time for a lot of adults. But then, there’s the next day…

I realize that many Christians struggle with Halloween because they see it as glorifying evil and the diabolical. They might be having a hard time with what I’ve been saying. However, this raises a whole other subject and not the point of my blog. I merely wanted to explore why many people in our culture like getting scared in a safe and controlled way. And I also want to make the observation that even though it serves as a feel good, self-satisfying, relationship-building, escape from life event, it doesn’t last. Unless we choose to medicate, we eventually have to come back to the reality of living our lonely and unsatisfying lives that often do not feel very good. We also have to face the anxieties and fears that are not safe or controlled. So, how do you do that?

Cancer has been the scariest thing I’ve ever had to face in my life. I thought I knew fear in college when I had to wrestle or play football against 500 pound gorillas posing as large humans. With cancer, there is little that is under your control and there is nothing that is safe—not even the treatment, which is sometimes worse than the disease. Scary movies can get your blood pounding, athletic opponents can hurt you, but cancer can, and in many cases will, kill you.

I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but not kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Jesus wanted his disciples to know that if they were going to be afraid, then they needed to be afraid of the right thing. They should fear the One who can destroy both body and soul—God. It should be the scariest thing you could ever imagine to stand before the God of the Universe at Judgment Day and have him take you and your sin and cast you into the pit of hell for all eternity.

Perhaps it is hard to imagine that Jesus would say such a harsh thing, but it must be remembered that he also personified the very way by which we can escape such judgment. Since cancer can only kill my body and can’t touch my soul, then I should not fear it. Believe it or not, that brings great comfort to me. I can thumb my nose at cancer because while it’s taking a toll on my body, it cannot destroy who I am. In fact, having cancer has developed me as a person and made me stronger in my faith and in my relational ties.

Jesus has become the Shepherd of my soul through his death and resurrection. He has transacted the forgiveness of my sins and made the promise of eternal life to me and to all who would trust in him as Savior. He has also pledged that no one or nothing could ever snatch me out of his care and that God would never cast me away. “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me and no one shall ever snatch them out of my hand. And my Father who has given them to me and is greater than all, no one shall snatch them out of his hand.” (John 10:27-29)

For the believer, and I hope that term describes you, fear will always be a controlled fear. It will always be bounded by the love of God, who has us safely in his grip and will not allow anything to touch our lives without first passing through his Fatherly hand.

So we can keep having our jollies getting scared at Halloween, but we no longer need to be slaves of fear, especially the fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15) Enjoy the link below:


A Soul in Turmoil…

I have been reading in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and came across the account of King Zedekiah’s request to have a private meeting with the prophet Jeremiah, with whom he had an ambivalent relationship. Zedekiah had not paid attention to God’s Word spoken through the prophet (37:2) and wasn’t quite sure what to do with him; alternately, having him thrown in prison for advocating surrender to the Babylonians and then rescuing him from death. At one time, he even reached out to Jeremiah and asked for prayer (37:3).

This ambivalence continued and in chapter 38 we read that the king asked for a private meeting with Jeremiah. He had the beleaguered prophet released from prison and secretly brought before him so he could ask him a question. Jeremiah, who certainly did not have a martyr complex and had quite enough of all this persecution stuff, immediately responded by asking the king if he could speak freely without risking his life. Zedekiah swore an oath that he would not harm the prophet. Zedekiah wanted the truth.

So with the stage set, the king asked Jeremiah whether he should surrender to the King of Babylon, who at this time was besieging the city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah had already prophesied that such surrender would be equivalent to obeying the Word of the Lord. This would be the first step of repentance because it would be the very opposite of the direction in which the king was headed and would contradict the counsel he was receiving from everyone else surrounding him. It would also vindicate Jeremiah who was regarded as a traitor for advocating surrender to the enemy.

Jeremiah boldly declared that he should definitely surrender or else he would face total destruction of his family and nation. The king hesitated for fear that if he did surrender the Babylonians would abuse him and his family. After all, it was Zedekiah who had chosen to rebel against the King of Babylon and brought this whole situation on himself. (2 Kings 24:20) Jeremiah responded, “Obey the Lord! Do what I tell you. You will be spared. If you don’t surrender you and your family will be destroyed!” The meeting ended at that point and the king asked Jeremiah not to tell anyone what they discussed. (This narrative seems so reminiscent of Nicodemus coming to interview Jesus by night– John 3:1–6.)

Zedekiah is a picture of a soul in turmoil—not willing to follow God, but not ready to totally dismiss God. There is something deep within that soul which draws it to the truth. “What should I do? I’m afraid if I go God’s way, I’ll suffer. I’m also afraid that if I go the way I want, it will bring further disaster. What should I do? To whom should I turn? To whom should I listen?”

Such a troubled soul does not need coddling. It needs the electric shock of truth, and nothing but the truth. Jeremiah’s abrupt counsel was exactly what Zedekiah needed to hear. It was one of those moments when he couldn’t pussyfoot around: “Obey the Lord! Just do it! He will deliver you!”

So what did the Zedekiah do? In chapter 39, we read that he chose to go his own way and listen to the “fake news” of his prophets. Instead of surrender, he tried to escape Jerusalem, but was captured along with his entire family. The Babylonians killed his family while he was forced to watch and then gouged out his eyes so their deaths were the last thing he saw! He was then dragged off into captivity.

Remember I mentioned Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews who came secretly to Jesus by night? He was also a soul in turmoil, but he chose to believe Jesus rather than all that he had been trained to believe as a Pharisee. He was “born again from above” and became a Christ-follower—at first a secret one, but later an outspoken one at the risk of his own life. (John 7:50–5; 19:39–42)

Are you a troubled soul? Are you clinging to your own truth even though you know it’s not working out very well. You also know there is another way—God’s way, but you find yourself hesitating because you are not sure what it will cost you. Stop your foolishness! You are in no position to bargain. Obey God! Choose Christ, for Heaven’s sake!

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25 NIV).