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Wander in the Woods: Excerpt No. 3 from my upcoming book, Overcoming the Trials of a Lifetime

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                Wander in the Woods.

                When I was about five or maybe six years old, my family went on a camping vacation in a national park. The campsite was very interesting to me. I was particularly impressed with the long and large culvert that spanned the road above as sort of a magical tunnel.

                Beyond the culvert, there was a parking lot with several rows of cars and it was connected to the campsite area only by the culvert. Our family had a pickup truck parked in the lot and a camper trailer parked at the campsite.

                My three older brothers decided we should all go for a hike to explore the park, but with our mom and dad remaining at the campsite. So, I, being 5 years younger than my nearest in age brother, took up the tail end of the hike, trying hard to keep up. Sooner rather than later I became tired of the hike.

                My protests calling us to take it a little bit easier and give me a chance to rest were unheeded. So, not surprisingly for those who know me, I decided to take my own rest and return the way we came. The trek through the woods in the opposite direction from my brother’s path didn’t seem all that difficult.

                There were trails to follow and even the occasional sign, though at age five I was unable to read the signs. It was already late in the day when I came upon a parking lot. Soon to be back with Mom and Dad in time for supper, I thought, not knowing whether or when my brothers turned back or even if they had noticed I was no longer with them.

                The trouble was it was the wrong parking lot.

                There was no family pickup, no culvert and no parents cooking dinner. What was I to do? Well, I wasn’t going to give up so easily, so I climbed an embankment to get a good look around. Spanning the horizon, I noticed in the distance another campsite. Could this be our campsite… the one with the culvert? Well, I was getting hungry, so I determined to make a beeline directly to the camp I’d spotted.

                But I forgot about an important thing: the sun was setting. It wasn’t about to go dark immediately, so I could make it, I said to myself. Well, you already know what happened. Very soon I was lost in a forest and in the darkness. Like nearly everyone who gets lost in the forest, I found myself going in circles. Perhaps I didn’t know I was going in circles until I was told I was later.

                But it was clear I was by myself in the forest when apparently the whole campground was searching the woods for a trace of the missing six- year old.

                My mom must have had many scenarios going through her head. Could he have been snatched? Could there be a bear? Or is he just lost out there in the dark forest?

                Then I remembered what my dad, the boy scout, had told me and all my brothers. He said if you ever get lost and it’s a dark night, let the stars guide, well one star in particular – the North Star.

                My dad had said that the North Star always maintained a position that was due north, so it could be followed. This prevented one from walking in circles even if the destination was not north. Thankfully, my dad had also shown me how to find the North Star (it had to do with the stars of the Big and Little Dippers, as I recall).
                I followed the North Star and soon found a dirt road, so I followed that until I was picked up by park rangers and returned to my family–still just in time for dinner.  I understand also that my brothers were severely disciplined by our dad.

                My thoughts and Views.

Now in retrospect, I am not sure the angles of the stars and the north indications of the North Star would actually have been of that much help to me in the small space of the forest where I had gone missing. I also don’t remember being afraid, and I wasn’t missing very long—not long enough to be famous like that girl that fell into a well or even when Tom Sawyer got lost in the cave.

                But does it matter? I believe God refreshed my memory about the North Star with the result that I believed I was being guided by the star and, so believing, I walked in a straight line until I met the road. It didn’t need to be complicated. God wasn’t done with me yet.

Three Truths About Joy: Excerpt 02 from My Upcoming Book: Overcoming the Trials of a Lifetime

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                As I began reading and studying what the Bible says about joy, I was blown away by my first three observations.

1: God Wants You to be Joyful.

                The first principle I learned from that study was that God wants you to have joy in your life. On more than one occasion, Jesus said the purpose of the words he had spoken, is to bring full and complete joy to his disciples. Disciples? That means you and me.

                I would think that if Jesus was on your side and you wanted happiness, then that’s a pretty good chance you can have it if you ask for it[1].

                Then he says he’s going to give you what you ask of him, according to his will. He just said he wants you to be happy. That’s his will. Does he say that you will get everything you want, and your happiness will come from that? No. That’s the world’s definition.

                The Apostle John makes the same points in 1 John 1:4 where he said, “we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.” See 1 John 1:4 saying God wants you to have complete joy. The writings John had in mind is the Bible.

                Paul prays for us in Romans 15:13, ”May the God of hope fill you with all joy.” He wants you to have real joy. Remember Jesus spoke, and John wrote so that your joy would be full.

                 Therefore, when you are suffering or in pain, when you have experienced a financial set back, or when your marriage or family in jeopardy, in each case above you should turn to the word of God for comfort amidst your afflictions, turn for comfort for your soul to be found in the Bible, especially the Psalms.

2: True Joy Comes from God, not Circumstances.

                The second principle was that joy has nothing to do with your circumstances and everything to do with your relationship with God.

                Note how Paul describes his circumstances in 2 Corinthians 7:4-5

 I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. 

And again, he writes in 2 Corinthians 8:1-2:

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia,  for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

                Some of you already know this principle intuitively, because you have seen plenty of the corollary: people who have no pain yet seem to be devoid of joy. Even people who have every circumstance lined up like ducks in a row can whine and complain and generally see the dark side of every cloud.

3: You Can Be Joyful in Your Trial or Suffering.

                The third principle was that joy can come to you while you are right smack dab in the middle of a trial. In other words, joy and pain can be felt at the same time! The presence of real genuine pain does not negate the presence of real genuine joy. Here it is clear, one can have joy during the affliction or trial, not just after the suffering is past.

                In Colossians 1:9-12 Paul prays for us:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for allendurance and patience with joy,  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

                Paul is asking for me to have power so that I may have endurance and patience. Do you think he’s talking about going through a trial? Sounds to me like he’s talking about a trial. But Paul is not praying for you to just get through the trial. He is praying that you’re going to be joyful during and amid the trial! That’s a whole another ballgame. He doesn’t just want you to survive the trial, he wants you to be joyful in the trial.

                Peter makes the same point in 1 Peter 1:6-8:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory

                In 1 Thessalonians 1:6, Paul writes, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” John also speaks of the same principle of joy arising out of affliction in John 16:20: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.” See 1 John 1:4.[2]

                God is nice. He is not mean. He’s not making you go through those trials to hurt you. God is promising us that his purpose for you is for you to have full joy, even in this life. True joy comes from God even when the circumstances are unfavorable, harsh, harmful, or just plain bad. The presence of real genuine pain does not negate the presence of real genuine joy.

                About financial setbacks, Hebrews 10:34 says, “. for you had compassion on those in the prison and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” That’s amazing. The fact that the Hebrews had their joy in abundance and overflowing while experiencing extreme poverty iscrucial to comprehend: their joy came while they were in poverty, not because their poverty had ended. In fact, Hebrews 10:34 makes it clear they were getting poorer when they had joy.

                God is not saying you won’t have your property plundered. He’s saying even if your property is plundered you can still be joyful. He’s praying that you’ll be joyful in your trial. He isn’t praying for the trial to end.

                See something unexpected is going on here. It is because the affliction is real. The person really lost their job. The person really got sick. The loved one really did die. Those are real things that really hurt. The affliction is real. How can that be when the trial stinks and it’s real, very real? – I’m not telling you your affliction is not real.

                Joy comes despite and without respect to the circumstances, but the joy is just as real as the affliction. And it is. It’s from God.


[1] See. e.g. Romans 14:16-17.

[2] See also John 17:13.

Happy Wives Happy Lives: Excerpt 01 from my upcoming book, “Overcoming”

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Overcoming the Trials of a Lifetime

Finding Meaning and Joy in the midst of Afflictions, Illness, and Hardships

Happy Wives Happy Lives

People today have become convinced that their own personal happiness is the be all and end all. That it is the most important thing.

We live in a country that promises us an “inalienable right” to the “pursuit of happiness.” You know the problem starts with what the world promises. We think we have a guaranteed undeniable right to be happy. It’s right in the Declaration of Independence.

People are given the counsel like this – you can’t help other people until you find your own happiness. Then after you found your own happiness you can share it with others. Heard that before? Or how about this one – “the only important thing is how you feel about yourself.” That’s not the only important thing, is it?

According to modern dictionaries, “joy” is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. The world defines “happy” as the feeling experienced when one’s wishes are met. Interestingly, the world says that joy is happiness and they are synonyms.

The world’s understanding of happiness and joy is that you have it when you get what you want. When you get what you want, you’re happy, and if you’re not getting what you want, you’re unhappy. It’s like we’ve all grown up into these big adult bodies and we’re still just a bunch of little toddlers.

If you start off with that kind of definition, you’re going nowhere real fast. Based on the world’s definition, this is what people will sound like.

  • “I’ll be happy when I buy that new car.”
  • “I’ll be happy when I get that promotion.”
  • “I’ll be happy if we can have another child.”
  • “I’ll be happy if we never have any more children.”

This getting whatever you desire isn’t going to happen, so, if we are rational at all, we curb our expectations. My parents taught me about the defense mechanism: if you want something badly you won’t get it, and so you needed to lower expectations to avoid disappointment.

If the circumstances are the reason for you for getting joy, you’re going to lose. It isn’t going to happen. Joy isn’t going to happen if it’s based on circumstances. We Christians have the same set of circumstances as non-Christians do. Even if you get what you want, you could lose it the next day.  It’s easy to see the world is setting you up for frustration and disappointment. It’s promising your happiness based on your getting what you want.

These two views of joy and happiness are just messed up. These definitions apply to screaming toddlers who are not getting their way, not to people, saved or not, who have even an inkling of how to live in a world where you seldom get your way or where one can even lose the things and people held most dearly.

God’s kingdom is all about righteousness, peace, and joy and not about escaping earthy suffering or acquiring everything you want.

More to come in future posts

Video and slides of my Romans studies

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As you may know, I’m a frequent teacher at the Maranatha Mens Ministry. If you want to access video and/or  slides from the first few chapters of Romans study, then click this link:

https://maranathamen.org/fall2018 .  There you will find the raw video of my lessons after announcements and music worship. The slides of the first three are pending but all for have video now. You may have to check back for the rest of the slides.

Human Devolution

Romans 1:18-32 // Randy Broberg // 10/23/18

Here Comes The Judge

Romans 2:1-11 // Randy Broberg // 10/30/18

God’s Righteousness?

Romans 2:12-29 // Randy Broberg // 11/27/18

God is both Just and Justifier

Romans 3:21-31 // Randy Broberg // 12/04/18

Are you and Innie or an Outie?

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This strange title refers to whether you are a believer outwardly (publicly) or inwardly (privately).

The slides of my study on this topic, in Romans 2:25-3:10 are below:

romans 2 to 3 slides

 

GOD IS BOTH JUST AND THE JUSTIFIER

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Here are my slides from last night’s topic found in Romans 3:21-31.

ROMANS 3 JUST AND JUSTIFIER

HERE COMES THE JUDGE: Romans 2

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I am not teaching every time in this series so do expect gaps in the Scripture references .

 

Below are the slides for my message covering 2:1-11

Here Comes the Judge

HUMAN DEVOLUTION: ROMANS 1 AND 2

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I am behind schedule posting my slides for my teaching at the Maranatha Mens Ministry but am now endeavoring to catch up.

Below you will find my slides from Romans one and 2 (the “God gave them over” texts).

_PPTgods love rejects verses

Where have I been?

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I’m sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted and the even longer time since I posted regularly. There are two reasons.

First, I spent a year in D.C. about half of each month. I was testing the swamp water to see if I could play a role of some kind in the ideological civil war we are currently fighting. Alas, after a year of trying I determined it was God’s will I remain in San Diego.

Second, I have been writing a book. It’s pretty much finished except that, perfectionist that I am, I make very minor improvements each day. The Book has the tentative title, “The Trial of a Lifetime: a Lawyer Faces Parkinson’s Disease and Finds Faith and Joy. It is about 175 book sized pages. M next step is to find a publisher and hire an agent.

I’ll post from time to time about the status of the book and perhaps with some excerpts.
Blessings, Randy Broberg

My audio of my teaching of 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4 (the Rapture Chapter)

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Here you can stream or download audio of my teaching of 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4, which together with 1 Corinthians 15 teaches us that those who remain alive at His Coming will be changed from a corruptible to an incorruptible body (a “translation”) and then be caught up in the air to greet Christ at his coming, together with the resurrected believers who had died.

DVT_A005_190409_2315.MP3

 

 

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