Have you ever heard someone say, “this isn't personal, just business!”?  This they say after they just robbed you blind.

Honor. Money. Promotion. All come from the Lord, but we live in a fallen world and a fallen church.  Does the fact that unscrupulous business people use this oft quoted moniker really bring you any comfort after you been cheated by their wicked schemes?  In turn, do these words really salve their guilty conscience?  Do these words in any way absolutize them of wrong doing in business which consequently hurts you - personally?

This oft quoted phrase seems only a vain attempt to convince a man or woman who knows they have dealt you a hard blow that all is fair in love and war.  After all, they will say to themselves, “don't you know I give regularly to local charities”, “I even give some of my money to the church”, and even on certain occasions, remind us that they gave so much money to this group of underprivileged folks last Christmas.

Yes indeed, these are some good people, some of them are public icons of virtue, at least in their eyes.  But what of you, what of me?  The tormented and broken soul who lies in emotional turmoil created by the quake of the hardship created by heartless business decision?  Does someone’s bad behavior which left you with a broken heart have anything to do with your growth in grace or character?

Will the words, “nothing personal, just business” make you feel any better when you wake up on the short end of the deal? I can remember hearing this just before I was cheated out of making a good return on a very hard investment, it could have led me and my family to earn potentially a few million dollars.

We have become used to the reality that we live in the falsely created dichotomy of a materialistically dualistic world. Americans have created this false dichotomy. We now live in the aftermath of decades of this unscriptural way of life.

We are made to believe that things that happen at work are under a different set of rules.  When have you really believed that putting someone out on the street, jobless, simply for the sake of sordid gain was not a very “personal” act?  Nonetheless time and time again these far reaching and long-term life-changing decisions are made every day in our society.

But what about the typical politics that are maintained in the church, are the implications any different?

You see a man or woman who is qualified and anointed by the Living God to preach or teach the timeless message of hope to sinners.  Another is driven by the Spirit of Christ to start something new to reach a lost and dying generation of kids.  Yet another wants to start a prayer meeting at some strange time to beg the Lord's grace to turn the hearts of sinners in your area.  Another wants to begin a different type of worship service to appeal to different cultures in your area.  All of these folks typically run into a stone walling contingent of status quo lovers and power lusters who will do anything to maintain their position in the church.

In doing so, the status quo leadership of today's man-centered churches act just like the unscrupulous businessman who carelessly drops the gauntlet on the neck of anyone who dares to challenge the status quo.  Most the time the ones they crush are the most anointed by the Lord of heaven to do His will here on earth.  Most of those crushed by these short-sighted leaders are the ones most willing to die for the cause of Christ.  This is the historical way the Lord, through the work of His Spirit, to revive His people again, and to awaken them to the real cost of being a disciple of Jesus.

Have you ever heard anybody say to you, “this isn't personal, just church!”? They would not dare say this to you, because its church, and the people who attend church are supposed to operate in a different way, but the very same kind of fraud happens inside the church today as in our materialistic economy driven by greed.

Every church membership course should include this warning I have just mentioned. Their constitution should have these words written boldly at the beginning of their statement of faith, “this isn't personal, just church!”.  Historically, many good men and women of God have been spiritually  and emotionally raped and tortured in the place that the apostle Paul called the “pillar and ground of the truth, and the temple of Living God”.

Men like Polycarp, Luther, Wickliff and others have also succumbed to martyrdom and very cruel treatment at the hands of a power mongering church. Even in our current time of supposed egalitarian enlightenment, we realize physical and emotional pain meted out by those who claim to be keepers of the truth.

In all cultures and in all places, emotional and very personal grief has been poured out and onto God's rising leaders by supposedly well meaning people in the established church.

Over the course of human history, the place we call the “house of worship”, has shown itself to be just as self-serving as our greed-laden free market capitalistic society. Are we even surprised by this reality? Are we shocked that we find more solace many times sitting in a bar having a drink and sharing our troubles with men and women who also are overwhelmed by life's circumstances. This in stark contrast to what most of us experience inside the walls of a typical church.

What has confused me more times then I care to admit is the spirit of antagonism and personal attack that are consistently volleyed upon the heads of the true servants of Christ. It is these very beat down souls that have the answers to some of our problems. Here real Spirit-wrought activity is about to birth just in time to help fellow members in the Body of Jesus Christ. How many wars have we fought over points of doctrine that could have been settled in a place of peace? Our carnal emotions open the divide between us and those who will not change. Fear cripples most of us as we face new and daunting challenges accompanied by the stringent task to deal with things that don't make sense. It will never change.

This is the way it seems to go.

Isn't it true that many times, after the Lord gets a hold of a man or woman to train them in his school, He causes their hearts feel and their spiritual eyes see what He sees, this heavenly work accomplished does in turn cause their heart to be astonished and emotes a heartfelt expression of what they see. This work will create a serious divide in your life.

Now, a real choice is presented --- follow God, or follow the status quo.

In order to usher in a return of the power of the early first century church, where true simplicity and raw power drove Jesus disciples from a place of fear to a place of boldness carrying the message of the resurrection to the streets. Before Christ's power came from on high, these men and women were cowering and afraid. Huddled warmly together in one sweet accord in a large upper room in Jerusalem. This act of being together was the byproduct of being a lonely believer in Jesus of Nazareth after He lost His popularity. And it was after they were ostracized from their nice Jewish society which included close friends and family.

Their separation from society brought them together; they were drawn together to form a common Holy Spirit bond -- as fellow sufferers in the camp of those who believe vs. those who didn't believe. Aren't these still the camps we must decide between today? We still only have 2 camps of people.... those who are willing to count the cost and those who play it safe.

I believe the Lord is performing a similar work in His people. To make a people for Himself who can endure such “personal” hardship as I have just described. They will deal with many new challenges within the realm of the soul, but He will comfort them through His Spirit as the Lord did in the days of the apostles. They will face things they haven't dealt with in their entire lives... They and we will have to overcome hypersensitivity, fear of man, fear of being abandoned, etc.

These painful and very “personal” situations are going to hurt us deep in our soul. We will take on injuries of the soul that will need healing over time. The Lord will heal as we keep moving forward in our walk toward the glorious kingdom of heaven. In other words, don't get out of the game, but keep moving forward performing God's will for you as you stay in the way of His appointment. To allow the Lord to heal you as you continue to share the consolation that you received directly from His hand, this we do when love others who have been hurt just like you and me.

I don't claim have all the answers as to why our troubles have to come at the hands of evil men, or well-intentioned people in the church, but they all tend to try the great work of preserving the status quo. These “personal” injuries of the soul are a necessary part of our development, His grace is supplied right at the point of our pain; they act as powerful stimulants toward developing godly character and a determined perseverance. These painfully hard times match up exactly to our Lord's suffering.  Do you remember His march all the way to His real place of execution?

This once-for-all proclamation of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ has a very sharp edge and it cuts both ways. The back edge of this very sharp knife, we call the Word of God, cuts our souls to pieces, and real blood and raw emotion pour out of us as He shreds our pride and self-reliance. The other edge pulls words out of us and into the hearts of those who hear the words of groaning and urgings to repent and turn to God before it is too late. In the end the old adage, “you can't kill a dead man” enables us to turn the sun baked and hard fallow ground that in reality has always been required and needed to begin a new season of planting in the Lord's field.

Heb. 4:12-13, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

When a man or woman says, “I want to serve God full-time, or I will go wherever He leads me.” As soon as these words leave our lips we have made a statement that includes unknown assignments that will turn our lives upside-down. These assignments lead us through the gate overshadowed by our own personal cross. The calling of God is irrevocable. Our cross is our personal romance with God, Our Father, straight from the heart of His Son, Jesus Christ. He remembers all the words of your quiet meditation in your time of bleeding. Those words of promise like, “whatever it takes” and "Lord, make me like You" and "help me love what you love and hate what you hate".

If the Lord is calling you and guiding you to chase after Him and His work, Our very wise Father oftentimes allows and sovereignly ordains these personal hardships in such a way as to overwhelm you. Your slips, bumps, bruises, banged head, scraped knees, and twisted ankles are designed by Our Master to be very "personal" and painful. They are just what the doctor of heaven ordered. He trained His perfect Son and perfected Him this way and continues to train His disciples through the same pathway.

In this "personal" and embarrassing way we have to endure many a day of the pit in the depths of our stomachs. Can you imagine that this was and is the main point of the lesson? You being dumped out on the street was an integral part of the Lord's plan. He lets you fall gracefully into what appears on the surface to be a random place of confusion and upheaval so He can catch us and revive us. Here that we find our way.  A new way.  His way.  Yes, in this hard place, human pride will take a death blow.  Embarrassment empties us self-awareness and feeling weird doing the will of God.

Praise God Almighty for His willingness to engage us at the point of our biggest problem --- We are: human, carnal, self-respecting, dignified, and prideful.

Personal embarrassment crushes us. Public humiliation breaks us from our effort to protect ourselves from any accusation and scrutiny that will defame our good name. Even when we have done nothing wrong, attacks against our character will continue come and assail us. You might say, "this isn't fair", but know your "personal" flops have one grand design --- to force you and me to keep our eyes on the real prize – Jesus -- the author and finisher of our faith.

Notice with me verse 13 of Heb. 4, “all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him who we must give account”. We appeal to the Judge of the Earth who does righteously.

As we keep our eyes on Him and His cross-bearing example; we firmly believe that one day soon we will be vindicated. We will see His very beautiful face and hear His very real voice speak so clearly to each us, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world...” Mt.25:34

There is not a man or woman of God in the biblical narrative that did not face personal rejection and malicious words of gossip. Paul said in 2 Cor.6:4-10, “But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

Who are the ones that are qualified to be partakers of his glory? Not those church people who seek the right affiliation with the right people to move up the denominational ladder. Not the endorsement of man, or a strong denominational connection.

NO, a thousand times NO, we seek only those who are willing to “do” what Paul has outlined in the text. Here in these verses, we learn who will ultimately “possess” all things. Think of it. Nobody who is willing to go through the difficulties outlined in these verses will ever do it without Christ and His grace. Amen and Amen

We don't understand why so many times that by our very “personal” sufferings, the Lord is preparing us for an incredible kingdom of light and unsurpassing wealth! The Word of God declares, that we, fellow sufferers receive all the world's wealth in the end!

So what of the deepest blows that bring the most soul pain. So what of lashes represented in words we have endured at the hands of our friends and family. Even from those who do so in the name “Christ”, we will endure these cruel things to one day be counted worthy of the lavish inheritance from the Father, so continue on my friend, we must endure this kind of hardship, what a small price for so great an inheritance!

Our Lord Jesus was accused of being a bastard, glutton, wine bibber, blasphemer, son of Satan, and many other horrible labels that many of us will never have to deal with, but He kept on a course straight to the Father's throne.

Our Lord was divinely and eternally purposed to live in a humble blue collar town called Nazareth, mostly comprised of regular unsophisticated people. Nazareth was not noted in the region of Palestine as a place of high society. The town of Nazareth would have been like a coal mining town as were places like Scranton PA or Clarksburg WV. These kind of towns are filled with hard working men who loved to work and also loved to have a good time. I'm sure many of Jesus friends love to party and spoke like common sailors. For almost 30 years, Jesus called these crazy Nazarenes His neighbors and His friends.

Did any of them ever believe on Him? I'm sure some believed in Him, maybe many more after the days of Pentecost, which was after His public crucifixion.

We know is that Jesus left their region because they lacked faith in Him. Mt.13:54-58, “When He had come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “where did this Man get His wisdom and these mighty works?” Is this not a (carpenter's) metal-workers son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where did this man get these things? So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”

Jesus lineage did not match up to the expectation of those that were looking for Messiah. His life was not the life of scholarship, but rather that of a hardworking mill worker or stone mason. Jesus did not play their game. Pleasing the Pharisee and scribe working through the “vetting” His holy character. Jesus did not think about them to prove His Messianic claims. In other words, He did not in any way kiss their scholarly rear-ends.

No, His way was the way of the cross, the way of personal embarrassment, listening to the Father and taking, against His will, the way of rejection. What then, my dear friends, is going to be your way or my way in becoming “perfect” disciples of Jesus Christ?

The Pharisees and Sadducees were very concerned about looking good to their peers and the world around them. They were primarily focused on external religious worship. They cared what people thought at the synagogue and in society. Like so many christians today who choose to find a church based on the best in social connections and business networking or best in show of worship performances for them, not for clarity and commitment that their pastor and congregation be committed to do only the will of God.

To say that you go such-and-such a church “means” something to your society. My church is great at this or that. We have the best worship team, our preaching is very intelligent and socially and politically correct. Or you should hear our preacher, he is awesome. Or, our church uses the “right” bible. Or our doctrine lines up with this historical group of known heroes of the faith... so on and so forth, you know what I mean if you are reading this article with a serious heart.

Jesus set all this kind of activity aside so He could live a life of “perfect” righteousness to please His Father and to deliver to us a perfectly righteous life. In so pleasing the Father first, Jesus put personal embarrassment or family conflict out of His holy mind. We must do this as well, and we must do it with all of our heart. We must endure these intense seasons of personal struggle as we seek Him and His glory, in the process, we will become all that God wants us to be as His servants. The Word of God says, “Lo, I have come to do your will of God, your spirit is in my heart.”

In my life I have whispered to myself, “if I would have just stayed in the background and minded my own business, I would have not had to deal with all this trouble”. If I would have avoided that conflict with a leader, or the fact that I escalated my concern to the top brass of our church, I got in more trouble, thinking they would understand and support the best solution for the long term and for the sake of those who could not defend themselves.

Most of the troubles I have faced in my adult life are directly connected with to following a voice inside of me that guided me to step into painful confrontations and eventual despair of heart. In so doing these hard things, I have found myself flat on my face many times. This was unavoidable dear friends, simply unavoidable.

Ever since I was a little boy my heart cry was, “I just want to really love you -- Jesus!” You can read more of my personal “struggle to obey God” by downloading my personal testimony from the home page of this blog site.


In bringing many sons to glory the Lord seems to work extra hard on those of us called to do “something” hard for Him. Just study the lives of Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets. This refining work of "separating" and "sifting" us prepares us to do His will and often times leads us into weird situations where we feel overwhelmed, stupid, and weak.

Those of you who are being called by God the Father in this season that precedes the ingathering of the bride of Christ, must face insurmountable odds and in turn you will get stuck in many confusing situations in order to become, by His grace, acceptable workers and in many cases fathers of those who will work in the worldwide and end-time harvest of souls.

Don't you think that God knows that we are dust? As particles of dirt, we come at our problems from a very low perspective --- the depths. Even from the depths of the earth, we serve a God who rides on the clouds and belly laughs at the silly plots of the high and mighty kings who rule the earth. No matter how powerfully they manipulate the world system to suit their aims --- The Lord will maintain His rightful claim over the earth and His people!

Our personal struggles empty us of our pride and self-reliance. It also very effectively shows us who our true friends are. It reveals the real nature of the call to follow Jesus --- the Cross. It teaches us what it really means to be called one of His disciples. As I have said before, “How can you make a disciple of Jesus unless you are one yourself?”

All the words I write are but a weak attempt to convey “my struggle to obey God”. We all are on a march to glory, no matter how crappy we feel about our lives at various points of struggle and hardship, no matter how painful our circumstances, the Lord is right there to help us -- no matter what you feel or think! Mighty deliverances are ours if we faint not. The Captain of our Salvation was made perfect by the things He suffered, so will we be made perfect by the things we suffer. Heb.2:10

Press on my dear fellow soldier of the cross. The cross is the epitome of personal and public embarrassment, and at the same time, the cross is the most powerful work of deliverance ever accomplished for mankind. Our real crimes against the perfect law of God caused Jesus to be embarrassed publicly, why shouldn't we suffer in some small way like our Savior?

No matter what happens to you, even the most “personal” and painful of situations, continue to chase after Him and the promotion of His everlasting kingdom. If this writing finds you flat on your face today, then turn your gaze upward to the God who cares so much for you, do it quickly, and do it now! As you seek the Lord today, mediate with me on the verse of a song I love to sing in times of deep despair:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
look full in His wonderful face,
and the things of earth
will look strangely dim
in the eyes of His glory and grace.”

Many blessings,