Instinctively, I answered the phone. My pulse raced. There had been an accident. “Come to Downey Community Hospital immediately” My heart was filled with trepidation. What was I to expect? What had happened? What would I say? My mind cycled through the information I had been given. A young boy on a big wheel had maneuvered between two parked cars into on coming traffic. A Cadillac had struck him and he was in critical condition.
I arrived at the hospital to find our senior pastor standing solemnly, and I knew. The pastor’s words confirmed my sense; the boy had died. I was instructed to drive to his home and tell an older brother that his younger brother had died, one of the more difficult tasks of my young ministerial life.
This scenario is not unknown to pastors. Life is filled with tragedy, pain and suffering; and pastors are at the front line when life is at its worst. It is difficult enough to stand with people who are suffering, but the ensuing conversations can be unnerving. “Why did this happen?” “Why did God do this to me?” “Does God hate me this much?” “What did I do to deserve this to deserve such treatment from God?” “This must be punishment from God for the terrible things I have done.”
For some reason, I have not wrestled with these questions in my own life though I do not know why. What happens in the framework of a personality that chooses not to question God? It is not as if my life, like yours, has not been filled with struggles—it certainly has.
I lived in Hawaii for three years, from ages four through six. My father was a Marine and my mom, a native New Zealander, was a stay-at-home mom. I remember one day there was great confusion; my younger brother had fallen off of a bed. Emergency personnel came and he was pronounced dead, but my young mind had no frame of reference for that information.
We then moved to the west coast of the United States, and sometime during my junior high days my mother was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a neurological disease. As a high school student, I remember pushing her in a wheel chair in Oceanside, California. For years our lives were filled with hospital visits, and she would alternate between being very healthy and us receiving phone calls, “Your mother is in ICU; she cannot breathe; you need to come to the hospital right now.” This happened frequently throughout my teenage years and early marriage, until she finally passed away from a heart attack in 1988.
After I married Donna, we were overjoyed with the news that Donna was pregnant and we were expecting our first child; but some weeks later, Donna began to bleed and she finally miscarried. We were emotionally devastated.
Donna conceived again, and we were so excited when the delivery day came. I remember seeing our son, Brian, for the first time. What joy filled my heart! Then I looked at him more carefully, focusing on his feet; he was totally crippled with compound clubfeet. Here I was, a young father faced with the question of how I was going to take care of my infant son.
Bad news continued after Brian’s birth. My mother had been taken to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, once again in crisis in the Intensive Care Unit. Fortunately, within days she began improving and shared with her doctor about Brian’s feet. Amazingly, he told her this would not be an issue because he was part of a clinic that provided free treatment for clubfeet. Almost immediately Brian began leg brace treatments to begin correcting his legs, and a surgery during his elementary school years finally repaired the damage that had taken place in his mother’s womb.
During our years at Downey First Baptist we experienced a great life, free from financial concerns. This all changed when we accepted a call to pastor the First Baptist Church of Buhl, Idaho. My salary dropped in half, and concurrently Donna started having some medical issues. The financial drought continued until we moved back to Southern California to pastor Bethany Baptist in Montclair, California. At times, I was under so much financial stress that I would find myself almost in a panic. These years also continued to be filled with medical issues.
I am not saying this to complain, but to point out that pastors and leaders are no different than anyone else. We live life, we have struggles, and life is not perfect for us. The question is; how does this affect our belief about God? Is He to blame for all of this pain and suffering? Again, for some reason I never blamed God and do not know why. The thought actually never occurred to me. I cannot say I had solutions to the questions people asked, but I knew internally that this was not an issue for me. Then something happened in 2018.
At the age of 74, on August 8, 2018, I was startled by a new discernment when I felt what seemed to be two strong pressure points located exactly in the middle of the right and left sides on the back of my neck. I noticed the date, August 8, 2018, or 8-8-08; triple new beginning (8 commonly refers prophetically to new beginnings).
I remembered years ago on February 8, 2008. During a ministry session at the Aslan’s Place Victorian house in Hesperia, California, I was seated facing a window that framed a large pine tree in the front yard. As I prayed for the client, I saw a juvenile eagle rest on the bottom branch of the pine tree. This was not a vision of spiritual eagle! Another person who was there confirmed later that she also saw the eagle. The eagle locked eyes with me, unfurled his wings and soared off. I thought, “What is this?” It was 2-8-08, or double new beginning. But after that our lives fell apart. It was not until years later that I learned an adult eagle goes through a period of transformation or metamorphosis. At around 30 years of age, the eagle flies up to a mountain, wedges itself into the cleft of a rock and initiates a process of change. It beats its beak out, tears out its talons and plucks out its feathers, a process that takes approximately 150 days. During this period, the eagle is totally vulnerable, but when complete, the resurrected eagle can live for another forty years.
My eagle sighting and prophetic new beginning was closely followed by the 2008 recession, which hit us hard! As we went through foreclosure on our house, Donna suffered terribly with side pain that was caused by sludge in her biliary duck. I remembered this morning while writing this account that at some point in the midst of our trials someone said to me, “You are the eagle in the rock.” Now I understand. It definitely was a new beginning for me in 2008, just not the kind I had expected; I was being transformed like an eagle in the rock.
Fast-forward to 8-8-18, another new beginning that I didn’t understand until a few days later. Within hours of the new discernment on the back of my neck, the Holy Spirit showed me I was discerning the Lord’s ‘loving-kindness’. I was not prepared for the significant of this revelation, but realize now that I have been forever changed, and now understand what was not understood before. The answer to my question, “Is God to blame?” has been given.
Loving-kindness is the from the Hebrew word hesed, translated in various Bible versions as kindness, loving-kindness, mercy, steadfast love, love, and unfailing love. It is the emotion aroused by contact with affliction. While it is the emotion that comes on others, the demonstration of love is stronger than the emotion. It is God’s loving-kindness.
Sometime in the early 2000s, I was in Hawaii with Donna. I woke up on a Sunday morning just after New Years Eve and was vibrating. I went to church asking everyone, “Why am I vibrating?” I called a friend in Minnesota and she said I was vibrating at 7 hz. What did that mean? After the period of several months, the rate of vibration increased until finally it increased to 440 hz. I discovered this was the key of A above middle C. Some years later, the Lord showed me it is actually 444 hz. From that revelation the Lord developed a teaching based on 2 Chronicles 5:11-14:
And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets—indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever,” that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.
For years I would speak of the sound that the priest and musicians made in unity, the key words being ‘sound’ and ‘unity’. Of course, I mentioned the phrase, “For He is good and His love endures forever,” in my teaching but I was to discover that I had not comprehended the treasure to be found in the passage.
He is good. Months later, the reality of the word ‘good’ came into focus; ‘good’ in Hebrew is tob and the root refers to ‘good’ or ‘goodness’ in its broadest sense. Five general areas of meaning can be noted: 1) practical, economic, or material good, 2) abstract goodness such as desirability, pleasantness, and beauty, 3) quality or expense, 4) moral goodness, and 5) technical philosophical good. Notice the emphasis on economic good!
I became aware of other passages that declared the God is good and His love endures forever. Notice Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness (tob) and mercy (hesed /loving-kindness) shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
As a Baptist pastor I’d preached through the book of Lamentations, which illustrates that when we feel pain God is not unmoved by our struggles. Each of the verses of the first chapter begins with the chronological letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and the second chapter repeats this same pattern. Chapter 3, however, repeats each letter three times. It is as if there is a crescendo in the intensity of pain and suffering, and then in the exact middle of the book is a sudden declaration in 3:22-25:
Through the Lord’s mercies (hesed) we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore, I hope in Him!”
The Lord is good (tob) to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
You may now understand what I discovered. When we confront the reality of pain and suffering, God is not the problem. Scripture is clear, “He is good and His loving-kindness endures forever.” This is the very nature of Elohim; this is His character; this is His central attribute. He is not the author of sin, pain and suffering. We have believed an evil report; we have been totally deceived; we have accepted the ‘mob view’ of God, believing, “It is His fault! God is NOT good.” Say it often enough and loud enough, and everyone will believe this lie. But what is the truth? The truth is, He is good and His loving-kindness endures forever. So, we have a problem. How do we reconcile our reality to this truth?
Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, and later as an adult in American Baptist Churches, I was taught different versions of supposed truth; the reason for pain and suffering is, “God has His reasons.” “God did this to you so that you would become more mature.” “God is causing this to happen so He can work out all things for His glory.” “God gave this to you.” “God allowed this to happen for some unknown reason.” But how can this be if He is good and His loving-kindness endures forever?
When a disaster happens we hear theologians, biblical scholars, and friends say, “Well God had His reasons for doing that.” Or, when a personal tragedy happens, when children or spouses die, when all manner of terrible physical things occur, time and again we hear people say, “Well God had His reasons.” That has to be a lie because, He is good and His love endures forever. So contrary to what we’ve been conditioned to believe, whenever anything bad happens our first thought and words must be, “He is good and His loving-kindness endures forever.” This is the truth! No matter what happens, our first response should always be the same.
Not convinced? Look at some scriptural proof:
Deuteronomy 7:9—Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy (hesed) for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.
Psalm 85:10—Mercy (hesed) and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.
Psalm 86:15—But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy (hesed) and truth.
It would seem we now have a theological problem. Why do bad things happen? Why am I suffering? Why am I not totally better? Why do I have financial difficulty? Why is this going on? Theology has long taught about the permissive will of God, explaining that He allows certain circumstances to occur for His reasons that are totally unknown to us. Only when we are in Heaven will we understand. I believed and taught this for many years, but not anymore; for He is good and His loving-kindness endures forever. How do we reconcile all of this?
In 2018, Jana Green joined me in a prayer session for a long-term client who has suffered greatly, especially during her early years. Often we would hear her ask, “Why did God allow this to happen?” Our response was usually silence, for what answer to that question can ever bring a solution? I now have an answer, for during one session Jana received a word from the Lord in response to her question, “I did not do this nor did I allow it to happen.”
I was stunned! What? This can’t possibly be true! I have such respect for Jana but thought, “I am not sure she is right about this.” Over the course of several weeks, Jana would be delivering amazing words from the Lord and in the midst of them these same words came, “I did not do this nor did I allow this evil to happen to you.” How can this be?
I felt that what Jana said was tied to the nature of law, so I consulted a few attorney friends and talked to a professor of law from a local university. “Tell me about the nature of law and this phrase from the Lord.” They could not help with my question. “Tell me about the nature of law in regard to this phrase, ‘I did not do this nor did I allow this evil to happen to you.’” No response.
Later in 2018, I was in Collingwood, Canada, sharing what the Lord had said through Jana when suddenly the Holy Spirit started speaking and I finally understood: You do not blame the law maker when you disobey a Law. The law is the law. It is set. There are consequences to breaking the law. When someone breaks the law, others are impacted by that decision. We do not blame the lawmakers. If I get pulled over by the police I do not say, “Why did the State of California do this to me?” I’ve not said that once. Why? Because the law is neutral.
Let’s look at one of God’s laws, the Law of Gravity. If you decide to deny the Law of Gravity, and in defiance to that law shout at God in rebellion and step off of a roof, the law will operate the way it is supposed to act. We can complain about the law, but the reality is that it functions to keep us safe. Otherwise, we would fly off into the sky with no ability to come back down. Now, we could say as we are rapidly descending to the ground, “Why, God, are You doing this to me?” But that question is irrelevant; the more correct question is, “Why are you so dumb to do that?”
We have a whole book, the Bible, which is our guidebook about things that we can do to stay out of trouble, but I can hear the questions already, “Yes, but what about this? What about that?” Of course this is complicated because God has created a complex world, but truth is truth. The first and central truth is that God is good and His loving-kindness endures forever. We start here. Period.
When did the lie start, the lie that God was to blame? It started at the beginning; it started when the enemy questioned God’s goodness, “Did God really say?” This is implied by the statement, “God is not really good because He is keeping from you things that you really need to have, and want to have.” From the very beginning, the enemy has shouted loudly, “He is not good and He is not loving!” For centuries, we have bought into the lie, wrestling with questions about sin and evil and pain and suffering. But the final answer to the “Why?” questions is not a philosophical or religious response; it is a statement of truth, “He is good and His loving-kindness endures forever.” This is who my God is.
When will we finally blame the enemy? When do we take responsibility for our sin, and for the consequences of our sin and generational sin? When do we finally declare what is Truth, and stop repeating the lie that God is not good? Truth is waiting to be revealed, and Jana Green received this word in 2019:
Truth always works with love, and you grow up in all aspects of Him. Truth is shattering the paradigm that caused unbelief. What is the paradigm that causes unbelief? “He is not good.” A sound that resonates holds a false shield in place; it blocks the understanding of the grace of God, but I am shattering the opinion of the world view and their governmental laws; I, Truth, reveal the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and understanding. You will breakthrough to what is His; you will shut out the noise that blocks the sound of love spoken in Truth, for from the beginning of salvation the Spirit of Faith is in the Truth. You have a sound that needs to be heard so even the disobedient will be delivered and My mercy, My loving-kindness, will be fulfilled. I will show the way of Truth, which falls in My love, in My abundant loving-kindness where faith is trust.
Look again at 2 Chronicles 5:11-14. I’ve mentioned repeatedly that the key is, “He is good and His loving-kindness endures forever.” But notice that this was declared in the atmosphere of total unity; the musicians, the priest and all present were in complete agreement, of one accord. What truth were they unified around? They were not in agreement about some set of theological or religious tenets; they were unified around one truth, “For He is good and His loving-kindness endures forever.”
Is this what it means to be unified with all believers, to be one mind and one spirit? Is this what it means to be unified within ourselves? In 2017, the Lord showed us that we must first be in unity within ourselves so that our spirit and soul parts that have been scattered in the length, width, height, depth, and in the stars are returned to us so that we are one in Christ. It occurred to me that we cannot declare, “He is good and His loving-kindness endures forever,” when we are not in unity within ourselves because those wounded parts that are in so much pain are not willing to declare God’s goodness.
Jana Green received another word:
All things manifest from who I AM. This rule of peace and loving-kindness is My strong right hand, for I am rich in loving-kindness because of My great love. Even the sound of My voice is anchored in mercy. Like the Ark of the Covenant with the pure gold, it is what enables the scribes to re-write the hearts and connect love. Hope will never disappoint from a heart in My love.
Then I started having a cascading revelation. Remember that Psalm 23 ends with, “Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow you all the days of your life.” It’s right there, and I believe the Lord wants to release this revelation like a flood upon the earth, “He is good and His loving-kindness endure forever.
Then signs and wonders came! Donna and I were in Cranbrook, Canada. Nestled there in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, is a spectacular piece of property cradling a glorious house. Our host had put us in the third-floor master suite, a garage-sized room with an adjoining master bath larger than our living room at home. In the center of the bathroom is a large Jacuzzi bathtub, and on either side of the bathroom are two large make-up centers with tables and chairs.
I woke up in the middle of the night to find that the bathtub had turned on and the jets were spraying hot water into the tub. With difficulty, I was finally able to turn off the water and went back to sleep. The following day all was well, but that night the bathtub again turned itself on. After repeated attempts, I was able to turn off the water and return to bed. Later, I woke to use the facilities and stepping out of the bed landed in a pool of water. I panicked! Water had flowed out of this large bathroom into the center of this large bedroom, and I realized that soon the water would be flowing down the double-sided staircase. I pictured a magnificent waterfall flowing into the floor below so I ran to the bathtub and tried to turn it off, but repeated attempts failed. Finally, I called our host and told him of the problem. He came to the room and disassembled the water valve so the water stopped. Later that morning the plumber came to diagnose the problem, but all possible solutions did not match what had happened. The plumber finally left the house; but when he returned to his truck, his radio automatically turned on, even though the keys were still in his hands. He came back to the front door and told our host, “I don’t know what is going on here but there is super-weird spiritual stuff happening in that house!” Our host later said that this had never happened before, nor has it happened since.
Three months later at the end of September 2018, I was in Gulf Shores, Alabama, staying in a condo on the seashore overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical storm Gordon was about to hit directly, with a forecast that it would become a hurricane by landfall. That was not the only problem though; I had walked into the second of two bedrooms and stepped into water next to the bathroom. Looking down, I could see no obvious reason for it but the water appeared to be coming up out of the tile floor. The weather was very humid so I surmised that condensation was seeping through and placed a towel down to soak it up. But later, water started coming up from the floor in the master bedroom too, and even more water came up in the second bedroom. I called our host and reported the problem. Three days later, a repairman came and reported that there are no pipes in any of the floors of the condo. Nevertheless, the water continued to bubble up from the floor until I left. My host reported that this has not happened in the twenty years she has owned the condo, nor has it happened since we left. I might also add that tropical storm Gordon hit land with 70 mph winds, never reaching hurricane force, and that year was the 70th anniversary of Israel.
In Kaneohe, HI, in November 2018, I was preparing to go to Mountain View Community Church to preach. I went into the bathroom and noticed water was coming up from the floor around the toilet, and dirty water was pouring into the bathtub. I thought, “Here we go again,” and called the owner of the property to report the problem. It turned out that the dirty water in the bathtub had come from unit behind ours, but why the clean water on the floor?
A sign and wonder—a sign that caused me to wonder! Then the Lord reminded me of Habakkuk 2:14:
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
What is this knowledge? He is good and His love endures forever.
Return once more to 2 Chronicles 5:11-13:
And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets—indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever.”
Then God’s glory fell!!!
  Harris, R. L. (1999). 698 חסד. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 305). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Ezekiel 44:4
 Notice that the singers and musicians did not sing a song but made a sound.
 Bowling, A. (1999). 793 טוֹב. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 345). Chicago: Moody Press.