Why God, Why pt II

During the past several months the Lord has been providing me with extremely unique and unexpected spiritual blessings concerning reality. Although He probably has many reasons for doing so, there’s one I’m absolutely certain of. I’m doing the job He called me to do. I’m watching over you folks as your pastor, and that involves taking unrelenting spiritual and physical hits on your behalf. For example, last Sunday I mentioned the fact that:

“I didn’t know where it was coming from or who it was, but I suddenly heard an eerie voice speaking to me. The man just started to address me with a litany of emotion-less accusations. I can’t quote him verbatim but here’s an idea of part of what he told me. “You are a pathetic example of someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus, Mike. You are the most proud, sarcastic, mean-spirited, inpatient, self-centered egotistical person I am aware of. That so called “ministry” you do is disgraceful. The “good deeds” are performed to make you feel good. You also cleverly persuade unsuspecting people to complement you in your guest book to feed your insatiable ego.”

“Your “ministry” is illegitimate. You duped naïve people into calling you to become their pastor. Jesus is dishonored in that pulpit because you treat him with contempt when you “preach”, especially as you have been doing for the past couple of years. Mike, you know you health is deteriorating. It is only a matter of time. God is giving you a final warning to get your house in order and leave the “ministry” before it is too late. Pay attention to your body. It’s wearing out. You know I am speaking truth. You have fallen away from the faith. This is your la …” At that point I interrupted the voice and heard myself say: “shut up, Satan!” It was followed by a split-second of deafening silence. And then I woke up.

“. …Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,” James 4:7-8 (ESV)

Those demonic slime-balls have been relentless with a virtually non-stop effort to con me into quitting the pastorate that God called me to. What do you suppose it is about being a faithful pastor that gets those filthy cruds all riled up? In Chuck Colson’s excellent blog, ‘The Worldview Church,’ Don Sweeting addressed the question

‘What Does A Pastor Do?’

“According to the New Testament, their job is to be a spiritual shepherd. In Acts 20.28 Paul spoke to the people who would take his place as leaders of the Ephesian church and admonished them to “keep watch over the flock. Be shepherds of the church of God.” In the New Testament, the controlling metaphor for how we are to think about pastors is the shepherd metaphor. A pastor is a shepherd. Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church. Pastors are under-shepherds. Leaders of the church are not primarily CEO’s, therapists, or social activists; they are shepherds.

So what does a shepherd do? Think basic. Think sheep. A shepherd of a flock of sheep does five things. He gathers the flock. That is the first thing. You can’t be a shepherd if you don’t have a flock. Second, he gets to know his flock. Jesus said a good shepherd knows his sheep by name. Third, he guides the flock to green pastures so that the sheep may thrive. Fourth, the shepherd guards the flock from predators and other dangers. And fifth, the shepherd gives food to the flock. He makes sure they are well nourished. While we don’t see many shepherds today in our cities, they still exist all over the world. In Biblical times they had a prominent role in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Perhaps that is why both the leaders of Israel and the leaders of the church were thought of as shepherds. In the church, a shepherd is one who cares for the souls of people who are part of the congregation (or flock) A pastor-shepherd does this by means of the Word, prayer, the sacraments (ordinances) and spiritual discipline, so that people trust, love and follow Christ-conforming to his likeness and engaging in his ministry. Ideally pastor-shepherds work as part of a pastoral team. I like to describe the role of a pastor in terms of five Ds.

First, the pastors gather the flock. A pastor does this by prayer, evangelism, good works, missions, and creating a missional mindset in the congregation. You can’t lead a flock if you don’t first gather the flock. Gathering is not a one-time, but an ongoing activity. Second, pastors must get to know the flock. This involves spending time with people. You learn about who they are and where they are spiritually. This will help you preach and teach them in a way that connects with their lives. Third, pastors guide the flock. This involves individual guidance-where we guide the flock to a good place as a whole. Fourth, pastors guard the flock. Paul warned that there would be savage wolves who would seek to destroy the flock. For that reason, shepherds must not only watch over their own lives, but also guard the flock of God. You guard through prayer, teaching, pastoral oversight and discipline. Fifth, pastors give food to the flock. That is, they make sure the congregation is well fed with a well balanced diet. He expounds the Word and proclaims the gospel. Paul himself said that while he lived in Ephesus that he did not hesitate to proclaim the whole will of God.

The pastoral calling is set forth clearly in 1 Peter. There we read Peter’s charge to a group of overseers. He wrote, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers- not because you must, but because you are willing as God wants you to be: not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

God has been blessing us greatly for the way you and I and friends of our church have been responding to the following biblical directives.

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised,” Hebrews 6:12 (NIV)

“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church,” Colossians 1:24 (NIV.

And I might add, just as you and I do with and for each other; when one of us is hurting, the rest of us hurt right along with him or her, and we try to help in any way possible. And whenever one of us in this local Body of Christ are rejoicing over a particular blessing, so too are you and I.

As I mentioned last week, none of us are strangers to affliction, but some have much more of it than others, especially folks such as Nancy who experienced very little or no let up during her courageous battle with cancer. Followers of Christ enduring seemingly never ending physical and/or emotional torment; long time sufferers such as Guy and Carroll, Linda and Doris, and Fanny and Bob and their loved ones turn to God pleading for answers and ask Him, ‘Why God, Why.’ These are the folks in particular I believe the Lord wants me to share today’s message with. They are the Christians that Satan will viciously attack the most in an attempt to get them depressed and give up their faith. That’s the reason I shared the dream I had earlier. I wanted to give you an idea of how diabolically convincing and relentless he is in attempting to confuse us and wear us out. A case in point is Nancy’s grieving husband Dick. He’s given me permission to share the following email I recently received from him. Dick wants to give you folks an idea of how much he’s suffering because of her death. This is what he said in the email:

I don’t know why I’m sending this to you.

Searching still, anything.

Trying to get an understanding.

I don’t understand why things had to happen the way they did.

What and how GOD works, I don’t understand.  Why HE does what (forget it) (I don’t know).

Thanks For Everything


The Lord’s brother James addressed the question we’re considering and told those first followers of Jesus what they should do about it.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” James 1:2-4 (ESV).

I struggle to count it all joy whenever I’m in the midst of a painfully challenging divinely ordained ordeal and I know most of you folks do too. I’m awfully proud that I’m your pastor. The way you folks have allowed yourselves to be used by God to be a blessing not only to Dick but to the others I mentioned previously. I’m trusting that the following email’s I received and Guest Book postings will enable each of you to ‘connect the dots.’

Dad, I thought the first part of your sermon, ‘Why God, Why? were some entry’s that never made it into your Guest Book. That’s some crazy dreaming you got going there. No wonder you’re up every hour at night.

It was very sad to read Dicks e-mail to you. I can only hope that God will comfort him through this very tough time in his life. Dick needs to keep reminding himself that Nancy is in good hands now. Nancy is no longer suffering with pain, but now has a smile from ear to ear. I’m sure Nancy is thinking of Dick as much as Dick is thinking of Nancy. The prayer that Nancy wrote was not only for herself but for Dick also. In God’s time Dick will see Nancy again and the two can enjoy heaven together. It is nice that Dick has people like you that he can talk to. I hope Dick can find comfort in knowing that people love him and are praying for him. Mike Jr.

Hi Mike, I just got done listening to your sermon “The Mind of Christ Part 4.” It encouraged me to examine myself and be the Christian God wants me to be. Even though I am not able to physically help others I can pray, pray, pray! Thank you for reminding me of my responsibility as a Christian. I love you with all my heart. Carroll Rossi

Yes Pray, Pray, Pray, and then Pray. Carroll, I have been Praying for YOU for many years now. YOUR faith and strength is strong and GOD will reward YOU. I wish my strength could be as strong. I’m a very angry person. My wife Nancy was the one who kept me close to JESUS and now SHE is with HIM. For me now??????. Yes if there is nothing more one can do. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. I LOVE YOU SISTER and BROTHER in CHRIST. Dick LaBelle.

Hi Mike, I really liked this sermon! I have only read it once and have jotted down a couple of thoughts already. What a wonderful surprise to see Carroll’s sweet message in your guest book! Will “e-talk” soon, God Bless All, Doris.

Mike, Carroll has the ability to “keep the faith” through all the pain-all the years. God will reward your courage, Carroll! Lori

Mike, Carol is such an inspiration! She is so right about praying……..that can go for ANY of us, even if we cannot do anything physically or financially, we can still PRAY! Beeb

Mike. Regarding your last sermon: ‘Why God why?’ I am doing something different this time. Usually I read the sermon several times, take notes, look up Bible references and generally give a great deal of thought to the sermon from several different angles. This week I have read the sermon ONLY ONCE and I jotted down my initial thoughts. I thought it would be interesting to send you my very first impressions about the sermon. It goes without saying that I may have some more thoughts when I re-read it, but here goes for my first blast of communication from this sermon:

Regarding Joni, she has been an inspiration to me since the 1970s. It seems to me that anything she writes, says, etc., is always so amazing. She truly walks with God through life’s adversities, which now brings me to Dick LaBelle. I think that my ideas about Dick span two different “realms,” if you will. On the one hand, I think he may be a particular target for Satan because he is such a precious, unassuming beacon for the rest of us as WE find our way and try to “walk with God.” He has long been an example and a treasure to me. I am sure Satan really likes to beat down people who are threats to him on this earth. But on the other hand, should we really give Satan the credit/power for what is transpiring with Dick? Sure, I can acknowledge that negative feelings of any kind can be traced somewhat to the dark one, but do you have the sense that Dick has abandoned God’s love? I find that hard to believe, and know that it is the last thing Nancy would want, that incredible example of a Christian woman. I think we can all agree that Dick is heartsick, like a loon that mates for life and has lost his spouse. God can certainly handle Dick’s anger and He of course understands it so much better than we. As fragmented as my marriage has been at times, I can’t even imagine life without Michael, so I can only speculate a little piece of what Dick is feeling. When my father Buddy died, I was amazed that my mom was able to “be thankful in all things.” I am not that strong, and have never been able to be thankful when God has taken somebody Home that I love so much. My heart goes out to Dick daily, but I know God will lead him where he is supposed to be in life. He is an awesome man, and hopefully his life full of memories will eventually ease this a bit for him. I’m praying for him. Take care and God Bless You and Yours today and all of your tomorrows. This email has ended; go in peace! Doris Maynard.

Pastor Mike, Your sermon was excellent! It was like you were talking just to me. Some of the words in the Bible I don’t understand but I can understand you and Guy. I guess I’m not a full Christian because I don’t have enough patience and faith. It’s hard for me to trust God and forgive people because I’ve been burned many times in the past. Is God listening to me? It seems like there is more of the Devil in my life than there is God, Bobby.

Mike, Your sermon: ‘Why me God,’ is great. I printed copies for all my children and SOME people at the Fanny Allen Hospital. I’m going to give a copy to our friend Sergio because I know you had him in mind when you wrote your sermon. Love in Christ, Dick LaBelle. P.S. I also know that GOD loves us all (Including me).  I still hurt so very much!

Pastor, I liked your sermon: ‘Why God, Why.’ I was very encouraged! I admire Carroll for the way she endures her suffering and Guy for sticking with her! God bless you, Linda.

Mike! I know that you are ill and my thoughts and prayers are with you. Please LORD JESUS Help Mike To heal. Give him the strength. Also give him a way to know that YOU are carrying him at his time of need. Mike knows that YOU care and LOVE him. My prayers I can’t put together to make them say what I would like. I hope YOU know my heart is in the right place. Yet I would like him to know that we are all praying for him, YOUR FRIEND IN CHRIST, Dick LaBelle.

Dad, I very much appreciated Why God, Why? Halfway through the very first paragraph, I knew that the accusing voice was your own. You sound like yourself, even in your sleep. The rest of the message was appreciated because it was a reminder that I waste way too much time thinking about petty things, attaching an importance to them that just isn’t there. Many people really do suffer, and while we each take turns at different times, others of us seem to be given more than their fair share of trials. I appreciate the perspective that came with this sermon and thank you. Love, Your daughter.

Mike, I loved Bob’s prayer! It was very uplifting and well written. I’m going to go online and read it again. I may get even more out of it and understand it better. I printed it and put it in my Bible. Love in Chris, Dick LaBelle.

I received an email early Tuesday morning from Bob Terranova, thanking me again for my sermon: WHY GOD, WHY? He had been up all night with extremely painful spasms in his residual leg. Bob has been afflicted and struggling with this divinely ordained challenge for 38 long years. And then, a thought popped into his head reminding Bob of a beautiful prayer he wrote and keeps tucked in his Bible. He calls it,


“As I lay in the midst of the pain and spasms, I am made acutely aware of my need for You, my Rock and my Refuge.

Guide me along the narrow path, O Lord, of Your infallible Truth and grant me peace in Your loving embrace.

The darkness and pain overwhelm me and yet I know Your light and love will carry me through.

I cling to Your promises from ages past, yet still so real in the endless night, that You are with me always and will never leave nor forsake me.

In humble gratitude I praise Your Holy Name, and know these painful circumstances are being used to humble me into faithful submission to Your perfect will.

As the dawn slowly approaches I am again made aware of Your Amazing Grace.”

To which I must add a hearty AMEN! I have printed Bob’s prayer and tucked in my Bible, too.

Mike, please pray for me. I’m finding as days and time go by that my love for Nancy and knowing she is not here is saddening me so much that all I do is cry. I’m trying not to let Satin in and so far with JESUS’ help it’s been a success. I know that HE is also letting Nancy watch over me. Love in Christ, Dick Labelle.

Allow me to ask you folks this question. Suppose I had allowed those slime-balls to con me into quitting the gospel ministry; would those email’s and Guest Book postings have taken place? If I had listened to Satan I would have enabled him to rob you and I of all those many blessings; blessings of comfort, encouragement and hope.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you. He must! However, it isn’t as simple as shoeing him away as though he were a fly. For example, I received the following email just as I was finishing up this sermon last night.

Mike, it still hurts so very much! I LOVE HER and I know she is OK in JESUS’ ARMS, but it still hurts not having and seeing her around. She is part of me. I hurt so much! It really isn’t easy. I used to go somewhere and she would be with me. Now I reach for her hand and there is no hand. I don’t understand. Please ask for prayers I need them. Your friend in Christ, Dick LaBelle

As for those extremely unique and unexpected spiritual blessings concerning reality I mentioned in the beginning of this message; God has made me acutely aware that my dream was a supernatural activity and my response to Satan was also. I’m aware of the fact that the spiritual war is between Satan and his cosmic forces of evil in The Kingdom of Darkness and God and all those faithful followers of Jesus who are alive on earth and living in The Kingdom of Light. I’m aware of this fact 24/7 and that’s a mega blessing. I wish I had an awareness of that fact decades ago.

Lord willing, Next week …

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April 10, 2011 Posted by Categories: Uncategorized 4 comments

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