Healing the most devastating emotional problem of Christians

Hebrews 12:9: “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live.”

In a popular movie from some years ago, the main character described the horrors of war:

“I have seen, boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there is nothin’ like the sight of an amputated spirit; there is no prosthetic for that.”                 

What on earth does that movie quote have to do with this letter? It has everything to do with this letter! In fact, it touches on every social ill, including self-destructing starlets, young men who commit murder, and a vast unnamed generation tormented by the bitter failure to find self-worth.

Something unseen is feeding on the American spirit. Colleges scramble to deal with a surge of “mental illness.” People go to anger management and come out enraged. Miracle diets have made their victims fatter. People go into rehab addicted to drugs and come out addicted to rehab.

It is no longer the heinous acts of criminals that stun police as much as the mindless acceptance of these acts by society. Entire neighborhoods concede the future of their children to crack houses, gangs, and pimps.  An entire generation is conceding their future to government control because they feel helpless to face the future.

We were tasked to reach and disciple students at the University of California during the campus revolutions of the 1970’s.   We labored amid tear gas, riots, hedonism, and suicide.

We saw that those students had the heart of an Orphan, and they had an amputated spirit. They came from homes where performance was everything.  At Berkeley they faced a double edged sword—pressure to get good grades and pressure to join the demonstrations. Neither side showed them any mercy.

This is a widespread crippling condition among Americans today.  It is as rampant in the Church as it is outside the church.  The orphan-hearted feel they are on the bottom even when they are on top. No matter how lofty their success, they cannot savor it. Nothing removes their insecurity because hidden software running in their spirits keeps them desperate for the approval of some vague ‘someone.’ They can never please this phantom, but they cannot stop trying.

The last verse of the Old Testament predicts this and names the cure. Malachi 4:5-6 says, “Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

To be free of an orphan heart, learn these truths.

1. Transfer your search for approval from an earthly father to your Heavenly Father. Let Him provide the missing nutrients in your past and present. God will heal your devastated childhood.  Hebrews 12:9 says it so clearly: “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!”

2. Remember, important people may do important things, but it is wrong to assume that if we accomplish important things, we will feel important.   Again, even after success, orphans feel worthless.

3. Let the Holy Spirit flood your heart with the Spirit of Adoption!   Lord, let us see how the death of Jesus on the Cross destroyed the curse of sin that separated us from God our Father and made us orphans.  Show us how You yearn to saturate our hearts with the unshakable knowledge that we are Your beloved children.  When we know that through Christ we have Your approval, no one else’s approval will ever matter. And no one will ever be able to make us feel worthless.  Amen.

 

Mary Magdalene on the day Jesus died

One of the greatest cruelties—if not the greatest cruelty in history—was done to Mary Magdalene.  She was once sold on the streets. She knew the special insanity of demon possession.  She knew the yawning blackness of total despair.

Jesus rescued her.  Jesus cast out 7 vicious devils—devils she thought would never leave.  Once deemed human garbage she is now redeemed, and rooted into a family of indescribable love.  Things would never be the same.  Her nights of remorse, her days of futility, her shame, her emptiness were all distant memories.

For 3 years, she lived a life she could have never imagined.  Crisscrossing Judea, hanging on Jesus’ every word, weeping gloriously over every miracle.  Each morning she awakened a more powerful and joyous woman of God!  She thought that this would go on forever.

People use the phrase “nothing could be worse…”  They use it before describing something unimaginably terrible.  I will use it this way: Nothing could be worse than to be in hell, and then taste heaven, only to return to hell.

Then on that fateful Friday it all went horribly, horribly wrong.  How could the one who called the dead back to life, and silenced a storm at sea be arrested?  How could one who gave words of exquisite beauty, love and wisdom, be tortured and killed.  No one wanted to save Jesus more than Mary.  No one felt more horror and helplessness than she.

That night, profound hope had given way to even deeper bitterness and disappointment.  If only I had never met him.  If only he had left me to die in the streets.  She slept only after exhaustion became more powerful than sorrow.   Too wounded to go on living.  Maybe too tired to commit suicide.

Mary matters to me today because her testimony is the best one I can think of on this Good Friday in such a dark time.  Mary’s miracle is the one America needs now!  Here’s why…

When the first shafts of Sunday morning light stirred her awake, she dreaded it.  If ever a heart was broken beyond repair—if ever a soul would rage against the approach of hope—if ever a woman just wanted to go back to sleep and never wake up, it was Mary.

That is why she was shocked when she felt an odd energy.  She soon felt an even stranger impulse… to go to the grave of Jesus?  How could she return to the only spot on earth that could open her wound wider?

What overruled her despair?  What fuel is driving her so completely against her common sense and her broken heart?  Paul answers that emphatically! “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”- Romans 8:11

Do you know any therapist capable of rebuilding the ashes and rubble in her soul?  Can any drug, any teaching, any relationship, reassemble her heart the way this gentle but powerful influence could?

We all know about the power of the resurrection.  It was the greatest display of power the universe has ever known; even greater than the alleged “big bang” that birthed the universe. It sent shock waves through the principalities and powers of darkness.  It shattered hell and stripped Satan of the keys of death.  Jesus set the captives free in the bowels of the earth and “led captivity captive.”

But the first burst of resurrection power was much gentler. She was the first human to feel the power of the resurrection.  Her eyes which were red and sore from sobbing are now refreshed and clear.  Her arms which hung limp from heartsick lethargy were now responsive, strong, and full of purpose. She sat up and found hope pumping through her veins. She did not know why!

A notion gently but firmly seizes her.  She was to go to the grave.  She got going!  Washing up, brushing her hair, and quickly getting dressed; all the while the expectancy of some indescribable something is building in her soul.  Before she knows it she is out the door and charging toward her worst fear.  Only she is not afraid.

She found the tomb vacant.  She turned and saw Him whom her soul loved.  Many awesome things happened that Easter but none more wonderful than Mary reunited with her Savior.

In the genetically altered, politically charged, drug addicted, violent purgatory that is America, Mary Magdalene stands as a poignant figure.   She is the best testimony I can think of for our national dreams that have gone up in smoke.  Our culture has wearied itself with perversion…hunted everything natural and replaced it with a disfigured counterfeit… it has marched, protested, boycotted the very color and life out of everything—everything is a cause to take offense.

What happened to Mary is why there is nothing better than the Gospel.  America!  This is what you need!

Mark 16:9, “Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.” HE APPEARED FIRST TO HER!  He never forgot her. He knew she was suffering the most so He healed this precious soul first!

Franklin Graham: America’s ‘Culture of Death’ Stems From a ‘Sinful, Godless Worldview That Rejects Christ’

Franklin Graham: America’s ‘Culture of Death’ Stems From a ‘Sinful, Godless Worldview That Rejects Christ’

January 12, 2015 – 6:11 PM

Reverend Franklin Graham, son of world renowned evangelical preacher Billy Graham, said that America is increasingly embracing a “culture of death” that echoes what has occurred in Europe, and which stems from a “sinful, godless worldview that rejects Christ.”

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Rev. Franklin Graham. (Photo: BGEA)

A further problem in America, he added, is that “Christianity is constantly under siege from the halls of government and education, which seek to suppress any public expressions of faith.”

“In places like Europe, where Christianity has been in decline as the deceptive forces of secularism and materialism have spread across the continent, it’s not surprising to find the practice of euthanasia so entrenched,” said Rev. Graham in a commentary for the January issue of Decision magazine. “Earlier this year, Belgium became the first country in the world to allow child euthanasia with no age limit.”

“I’m concerned that America is not far behind,” said Rev. Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.  “The euthanasia movement—disguised now as ‘death with dignity’—is gaining ground in a number of states. And for every 1,000 live births in the United States, 219 pregnancies end with a murdered child, through abortion.”

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that this rise in the culture of death in our own country coincides with the embrace of an immoral, sinful, godless worldview that rejects Christ,” he said.  “Christianity is constantly under siege from the halls of government and education, which seek to suppress any public expressions of faith.”

walking dead

A publicity photo from the AMC series “The Walking Dead.” (Photo: AMC)

In addition to the push for euthanasia — the deliberate murder of the terminally sick, handicapped, elderly, or mentally ill – Reverend Graham noted that the social and entertainment culture seems fixated on death and gore.

Football used to be the dominant choice on television on Sunday evenings in the fall and winter but today, for example, 17 million people skipped the football game to watch the season premiere of The Walking Dead, a series about zombies (the walking dead) hunting and eating people.

A few weeks after that premiere on Oct. 12, “nearly 15 million people turned in to yet another episode, easily surpassing that night’s matchup” between the Broncos and the Chiefs, said Rev. Graham.

“That program is just one of numerous television programs that have garnered tremendous followings by fixating on gore and death,” he said.  “At least half a dozen prime time shows are strangely enamored and captivated by it. These shows, when combined with hugely popular video games like Mortal Kombat, demonstrate how obsessed with death our culture has become.”

Pat Robertson: Liberals ‘Are a Culture of Death’ – Cites Assisted-Suicide Case

Brittany Maynard, who killed herself under Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” euthasia law in November, on the cover of the October 2014 issue of People magazine.

Despite the near-constant stream of death-entertainment, the peddlers of such fare avoid the stark reality of actual death, said the reverend. They avoid the serious questions.

“The Bible says that once a person dies, he will face the judgment of God,” said Rev. Graham. “There is no reincarnation. There is no second chance.”

He continued,  “Death is serious, eternal business. Once our physical hearts beat for the last time, we will instantly find ourselves either in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in all His splendor, or in the pit of Hell away from His presence.”

Hollywood doesn’t want to talk about that in any serious way. But “death is not a fictional television series,” said Rev. Graham.  “It is not a popular gaming topic. It is the entryway into either eternal life or eternal death. And a culture that treats it as mere fantasy and amusing entertainment does so at its peril.”

Our only hope, said the reverend, is “bold, biblical Christianity” that counters the “devilish, dark culture of sin and death that seeks to enslave and ultimately damn people for eternity.”

Life is short. Eternity is long. Do not tarry for you do not know when you will die. Choose sin and you will face eternal damnation, said Rev. Graham. But choose God and you will gain eternal life.

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Rev. Billy Graham, left at podium, preaching at one of his largest rallies, in Seoul, South Korea, June 1973, where 3 million people heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ over a five-day period.

This also applies to our institutions, our laws, our society.  “Wherever Christianity flourishes, there is a vibrant culture of life, not death,” said the reverend. “When the precepts of the Christian faith are faithfully taught and followed, there is an abundance of selfless, sacrificial living and giving.”

Franklin Graham is married, has five children, and lives in Boone, N.C. In addition to running the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, founded by his father, Franklin Graham is the CEO of the international aid groupSamaritan’s Purse.

Billy Graham, 96, reportedly is in decent health and has good days and bad days, and lives at his home in Montreat, N.C. His wife of 64 years, Ruth Bell Graham, died in 2007.  Billy Graham still reads the Bible every day and occasionally meets with the staff at BGEA and participates in some ministry work, according to Franklin Graham.

First Take: Vitriol infests Warren family grief.

First Take: Vitriol infests Warren family grief

Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY10:02a.m. EDT April 7, 2013

Thousands are responding to Pastor Rick Warren’s grief with compassion but others use the moment to attack him and his Christian message.

Pastor Rick Warren, the best-known name in American evangelism after Rev. Billy Graham, lost his 27-year-old son, Matthew, to suicide this week.

Uncounted strangers have joined the 20,000 congregants who worship at the megachurch network “Pastor Rick” built in Southern California, Warren’s nearly 1 million Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers in flooding social media with consolation and prayer.

But a shocking number are taking this moment of media attention to lash out at Warren on the digital tom-toms. The attacks are aimed at him personally and at his Christian message

Some unbelievers want to assure Rick and Kay Warren, his wife and Matthew’s bereaved mother, that there’s no heaven where they’ll meet their son again.

 You can find, among hundreds of comments on USA TODAY’s news story on Matthew’s death, comments such as the Cincinnati poster who says, “Either there is no God, or God doesn’t listen to Rick Warren, despite all the money Rick has made off of selling false hope to desperate people.” In another comment, the same poster counsels Warren to “abandon primitive superstitions and accept the universe for what it is — a place that is utterly indifferent to us.”

Some rush to add pain to the Warrens’ world because, in their view, he did not show sufficient compassion for the unremitting pain suffered by gay youths rejected by parents and peers. They were outraged when Warren took a political stand for Prop 8, which overturned legal same-sex marriage in California in 2008 and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Others have appointed themselves 140-character theologians in a debate over whether someone once saved can lose his or her salvation if suicide is against God’s law. These posters, rather than waiting for Judgment Day, have ruled for hell.

But Bruce Kwiatkowski of the University of Toledo posted on Facebook: “I appreciate what Pastor Ronald Cole said about the subject of Christian suicide. He said the Lord will say, ‘We weren’t expecting you yet…’ ”

John Schuurman observed on Facebook that celebrity culture makes everyone “fair game” and the anonymity afforded by social media that allows people to “send out hate flames without any consequence.”

There are, however, people who won’t let the vitriol unleashed on social media infect the little corners of the world under their own name.

John H. Armstrong fought back on Facebook, saying, “I just blocked someone that I do not know from my wall for saying that Rick Warren’s son went to hell. What is it with people being so sure that they know God’s final judgment? I fear for people like this. This man added that Rick Warren was being judged for being a ‘false prophet.’ Pathetic, cruel and reckless all come to mind. If I’ve seen the evidence of a false prophet this comes close.”

A day ago, Warren tweeted to his 943,000+ followers: “We pray ‘Thy WILL be done on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN’ since in heaven God’s Will is done #always On earth, it’s done rarely.”

Mario’s note:  Disgusting, inhuman, unimaginable and enraging that anyone can possibly attack Rick and Kay Warren as they cope with the ultimate loss.  The report you just read shows how far we have fallen as a species.  It can be so disheartening to hear such hatred.   Even on our Facebook page, a preacher no less, called this “God’s judgment for teaching the heresy of the Purpose Driven Life.”  I could not block such theological filth fast enough.

How strange for believers to join in this unspeakable cruelty with atheists.  Yet it shows me how much fanatical religion and atheism can have in common.  Neither one has a code of ethics, just an amoral, kneejerk reaction to anything they find disagreeable.  In both cases the hurt in their words is sociopathic in its indifference.  In both cases the message is “nobody cares about your problem.”

Thank God that the tidal wave of support and love for the Warrens far outweighs the cruel unfeeling statements of a few misguided individuals but their existence and their gall in saying such vile things is a tragic commentary on our times.

Rick Warren’s son commits suicide

A 10 year old boy hung himself in the German village because he was so unloved by everyone in the community.  A church refused to allow his burial.  Martin Luther took matters into hand by not only making sure the boy was properly buried but even spoke for the boy in a service.

Why is it he asked, that if a man riding through our woods were attacked, robbed and then killed that we would show nothing but mercy at his tragic end?  But when Satan does the very same thing by  attacking a soul, robbing it of its very hope and then causing its death that we condemn and believe they are lost from God’s mercy.”

Today we have nothing but compassion for the Warren family in this unspeakable loss and pray that the Holy Spirit Himself will comfort them in the loss of this precious young man. 

I can only speak for myself but I believe that this is an occasion for the entire Body of Christ to “weep with those who weep.”  – Mario

Saddleback Church Says Rick Warren’s Son Has Committed Suicide

April 6, 2013 11:50 PM

 

LAKE FOREST (CBSLA.com) — Pastor Rick and Kay Warren’s youngest son has committed suicide, Saddleback Valley Community Church announced Saturday.

The evangelical megachurch announced the death of 27-year-old Matthew Warren in a statement. He died Friday night in his Mission Viejo home.

Rick Warren's son, Matthew, died Friday evening. (credit: Saddleback Church)

(credit: Saddleback Church)

Described as an “incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man,” the statement said Matthew suffered from mental illness that resulted in deep depression and suicidal thoughts.

“No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now … He struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts,” Pastor Warren said in an emotional letter to his congregation.

“In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided … Thank you for your love and prayers back. We love you back,” the pastor said.

On Saturday evening, church services were held at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest but Warren was not expected to attend.

“We’re in deep pain for the family, just hurting for them,” said Sandra Maddox, who attends the church and is a friend of the Warren family. “He was loving and sweet, extremely intelligent and a bright young man.”

“I’ve walked the road he’s going down right now and it’s hard,” Ron Maddox said through tears. The Maddox family lost their daughter 10 years ago and said they understand how painful this must be for the pastor.

In 2008, the church sponsored a presidential forum between Barack Obama and John McCain. They had arranged to do it again in 2012 but Warren canceled several days beforehand, saying he wanted no part in the mudslinging between Obama and Mitt Romney.

In 2009, Warren gave the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration.

Founded in 1980 by Pastor Rick Warren, Saddleback Church serves the Southern California community with several locations. The pastor is also known for authoring, “The Purpose Driven Life,” which has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, according to the church’s website.