I preach to thousands, yet there are times I feel so very dry - so far away from the warm presence of God. In these moments of dryness, I have no great yearning to read the Word - the reading of the Bible is done mostly through a sense of obligation. When I'm dry and empty, I feel little compulsion to pray. I know my faith is intact, and my love for Jesus is strong. There is no desire in me to taste the things of this world. It's just that I can't seem to touch God in those days and weeks of spiritual dryness.
This message is for husbands and wives who want their marriage to succeed. It is also for those who are remarried and are finding it is necessary to work as hard, or harder, the second time. This message is also for the singles who hope to establish a good Christian home someday in the future.
This message is for honest marriage partners only. It is not for those who are looking for a way out of their marriage or who are wanting a way to simply exist in a bad arrangement.
The most difficult thing in all the world for Christians to do is forgive. For all the talk in the church about forgiveness, restitution, and healing, there is very little of it truly demonstrated. We all like to think of ourselves as peacemakers, lifters up of those fallen, always forgiving and forgetting. But even the most deeply spiritual today are guilty of wounding brothers and sisters by not showing a spirit of forgiveness.
In one way or another, we are all hurting. Everybody is in the same boat. Even the laughing, happy–go–lucky crowd is hurting. They try to hide their hurt by drinking and joking — but it won't go away.
Who hurts? The parents of a prodigal son or daughter. Millions of parents have been deeply wounded by a child who has rejected their counsel. Those loving parents grieve over the deception and delinquency of a child who was once tender and good.
The good news first! And, I'll tell you why. I find that people all over the nation are hungry for good news. There has been such a constant barrage of bad news, any good news seems like a ray of sunshine on a dark day. Sometimes we see only the bad side of things and forget that all around us, every day beautiful and uplifting things are happening. Let me share some of the good news we need to be reminded of.
1. THE DIVORCE RATE IS LEVELING OFF AND MAY SOON REVERSE ITSELF.
A growing number of ministers have been writing to me in recent months, telling of their concern for parishioners who are simply giving up. One minister wrote, "I see my church members trying so hard to cope with problems in their marriages and pressures in their personal lives. Just when it seems victory is within reach, they stumble and fall. Good, honest Christians are so often overwhelmed by guilt and condemnation, it causes despair. And when they can't live up to their own expectations - when they fall back into sin and get involved - they decide to give up.
I feel so ashamed of myself when I think back over my early ministry — because I condemned so many sincere people. I meant well, and often my zeal was honest and well-meaning. But how many people I brought under terrible condemnation because they didn't conform to my ideas of holiness!
Christians are strange creatures. They travel the world, preaching the love of Jesus and His forgiveness for any and all sin. They tell the heathen, the addict, the alcoholic, the prostitute - "Come to Christ and be forgiven. He forgave your sins at the Cross - so come and receive forgiveness and healing for all your hurts. You can have peace and be free of guilt." As a result sinners, who have been guilty of every conceivable kind of dark and evil deed, gladly come to Christ and are instantly forgiven and delivered from their guilt.
We have declared war on suicide, and already we have witnessed many great victories. A few months ago, in a newsletter, I told how God promped me to preach about suicide in every crusade we conduct.
When God first prompted me to speak out on the subject of suicide, I was incredulous. I argued, "How can I preach on such a morbid subject in city-wide crusades? Only a small percentage of the audience would relate to such a message! People might think I was making too much of the problem."