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Heart of the Problem

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Title: Heart of the Problem


1
Heart of the Problem
by Mark Hamby
2
Dear Mark, I had hoped to see you again before I
was transferred to the State Prison. I am the guy
who played the guitar in the prison chapel after
you shared what I conceived as a very powerful
message. In fact, I was and have been very much
moved and inspired by the presentations. On two
occasions you didnt even have a black board to
illustrate your teachings, yet I can visualize so
vividly what you clearly showed me on the
invisible, make believe black board. You also
gave me a book, The Hedge of Thorns, I believe
this was the title which was also inspiring to
me. I also believe now that God, in His amazing
wisdom has taken me out of the world that I was
suffering in with temptation, sins and desires.
These prison walls do not imprison me, the steel
bars and razor wire are actually Gods hedge of
protection so that I might grow, strengthen, and
learn in the ways of his word before I face the
challenges of the world again. And so I believe
you are right. What a terrible prank God has
pulled on me, to get me to see, listen, and
learn his methods are ingenious. He did the only
thing He could in his effort to protect and save
me!
3
I was looking very much forward to seeing you
again. I had written a song to play and sing.
Please do not stop in your efforts to bring
the word to prisoners. Im a hard case Mark, I
spent 23 years of my life in prison. If I heard
you and your message touched and moved me.
Believe when I tell you, you did move a mountain!
The rest should be easy pickins for you. Thank
You Mark! J.L. Prisoner of the Lord
4
Just wanted to let you know I finished reading
"Giant Killer" to my kids last weekend and
started Basket of Flowers Sunday Night.  We are 
really enjoying these books.  Last night my kids
had the choice of  watching a half an hour of TV,
playing video games for half an hour  or having
me read an extra half an hour to them and they
chose  reading a Lamplighter book.  They knew I
was going to read to them at bedtime anyway, but
still chose the extra half hour of "story time".
I was very excited to have my 9, 7, 5 and one of
our neighbors kids (also 5) all want to sit
around my living room while I read a couple
chapters of Basket of Flowers.  If they
could have stayed awake, we would have read until
midnight.  They love this book and so do I. 
Lamplighter ministry is having a tremendous,
positive effect on me and my family.  Grace is
flourishing in our home.  George
5
The Presence precedes the plan. Younger people
have asked me how they could know God's plan for
their life. The saints of old were concerned not
with the plan but with the Presence. When we have
a guide, all we need to do is follow. Without
the Presence we attempt work for God instead of
letting God work through us. Fénelon said Put
aside your self-interest and simply let God's
will unfold around you. Everything he does for
you is for your good. Worship him without having
to know and see everything. Continue doing the
good things that you do since you feel that you
should and you can do them so easily. Be careful
that all your extra energy does not lead you into
trouble and, above all, live in the present
moment and God will give you all the grace you
need. God's glory and his purpose are the end of
all things. You will find happiness and
deliverance but not as an end in itself. It is
all for God.
6
Give grace to yourself and others. "Do not be
surprised to find yourself overly sensitive,
impatient, proud, and self-willed. Realize that
this is your natural disposition. Bear with
yourself, but do not flatter yourself into
thinking you are better than you are but wait on
God's timing to transform it. Stop at once when
your activities become too hurried. Guard
against placing responsibility above
relationship.
7
Self-love is subtle. "You will be tempted to
speak out in a humble tone of voice to tell
others of your problems. Watch out for this. A
humility that is still talkative does not run
very deep. When you talk too much, your self-love
relieves his sense of shame a little."
8
Suffering is useful. Suffering is necessary for
all of us. You will be purified by dying to see
your own desires and will. Let yourself die. You
have excellent opportunities for this to happen.
Don't waste them. . . . God never makes you
suffer unnecessarily. He intends for your
suffering to heal and purify you. The hand of God
hurts you as little as it can. The yoke that God
gives is easy to bear if you accept it without
struggling to escape.
9
but, though he cause grief, he will have
compassion according to the abundance of his
steadfast love for he does not willingly
afflict    or grieve the children of men.
Lamentations 332-33
10
For they persecute him whom you (God) have
struck down, and they recount the pain of those
you (God) have wounded. Psalm 69 26 (see Ps.
119)
11
"Peace and comfort are to be found only in simple
obedience.
12
There never is peace in resisting God . . . .
Allow yourself to be humble. If you are silent
and peaceful when humiliating things happen to
you, you will grow in grace."
13
Growth and change are the work of the cross. The
work of the cross--redemption--is the constant
tension of growth and change as the old nature
gives way to the new. It is a putting off of the
flesh and putting on of the fruits of the spirit
daily. Fruit is the Spirits work it is our
work to die to self on the cross He has given us
to bear.
14
"You and I are nothing without the cross. I
agonize and cry when the cross is working within
me, but when it is over I look back in admiration
for what God has accomplished. Of course I am
then ashamed I bore it so poorly."
15
Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD with
slackness, and cursed is he who keeps back his
sword from bloodshed. Moab has been at ease
from his youth and has settled on his dregs he
has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor
has he gone into exile so his taste remains in
him, and his scent is not changed.    
Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares
the LORD, when I shall send to him pourers who
will pour him, and empty his vessels and break
his jars in pieces. Jeremiah 4810-12
16
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and
perform your vows to the Most High, and call
upon me in the day of trouble I will deliver
you, and you shall glorify me." Psalm 5014-15
17
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent
deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may
be corrupted from the simplicity that is in
Christ. II Corinthians 113
18
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the
humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the
devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to
God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your
hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you
double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let
your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy
to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the
Lord, and He will lift you up. James 46-10
19
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion
and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom
that is from above is first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good
fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
by those who make peace. James 316-18
20
Yes, all of you be submissive to one another,
and be clothed with humility, for God resists
the proud, but gives grace to the
humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the
mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due
time, casting all your care upon Him, for He
cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant because
your adversary the devil walks about like a
roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I Peter
55b-8
21
Gods healing love can transform the most
miserable life into one of comfort, joy, and deep
personal peace.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your
heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if
you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither
will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 614-15
22
Do not underestimate the cleansing power
available when anyone approaches God as a
repentant sinner who has seen his sin and wants
to be restored and renewed. It doesnt take God
long to transform a humble person.
23
Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall
sustain you He shall never permit the righteous
to be moved. Psalms 5522 (read page 26)
24
Time magazine featured an article entitled The
Burnout of Almost Everyone. They describe the
stages of burnout, progressing from intense
enthusiasm and job satisfaction, to exhaustion,
physical illness, acute anger and depression.
Even the best worker, when thwarted, will swallow
his rage it then turns into a small private
conflagration, an internal fire in his engine
room. According to these authors, the
consequences to adults of being thwarted (i.,e.
not getting their own way) by other adults (i.e..
Husbands and wives) are rage and hostility,
resulting in physical illness, depression, and
tension headaches.
25
Given proper alteration in people, circumstances,
and social conditions that surround an
individual, changes can occur without giving God
a thought. Counseling, done by trained, caring,
kind people, followed by appropriate changes, can
bring great relief to an anxious confused person.
If you want relief, you can find it. A change
of location or the removal of a troublesome
person can give relief to an anxious person.
That is relief, not healing. Alcohol can quiet a
hostile, bitter heart, but it only gives relief,
not healing. (read page 36 37)
26
Finding relief from sin instead of obtaining
cleansing is a cruel trap. Relief from sin allows
me to be comfortably separated from God.
27
There is a cure for sin.
Peace does not come in capsules! (read page 43)
If you want relief, you can find it in this
world. If you want a cure, only God can help
you. (read page 44 45)
Fenelon says You asked for a remedy, that your
problems might be cured. You do not need to be
cured. You need to be slain.
28
This is the Christian miracle of the cleansed
lifea great mysterywhy, after years of
fighting, would Malcolm and Dorothy submit to
these biblical guidelines?
But now you yourselves are to put off all these
anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language
out of your mouth. Colossians 38
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and
beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness,
humility, meekness, longsuffering. Colossians
312
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and
evil speaking be put away from you, with all
malice. And be kind to one another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God
in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 431-32
29
Not that we are in any way confident of doing
anything by our own resources our ability comes
from God. It is He who makes us competent
administrators of the new agreement, II
Corinthians 35-6
30
  • I am at my wits end. My wife and I cannot even
    talk to each other without it turning into a
    blame session.
  • Understand that this letter will be colored with
    my opinions, personality, theology and flesh.
  • I believe that my wife has a view of me that is
    made up more from the residue or reaction to the
    incest by her Pastor/Missionary father and two
    brothers from ages 4-18 than from who I really
    am.
  • I must make a big point of saying that I am not
    a good husband. I am quiet, reserved, prefer to
    be alone, and my flesh is drawn to negativity and
    criticism. These are some of my less appealing
    qualities. I have been insensitive to her over
    the years to be sure.
  • She has read many books in the
  • Christian/pop-psychology genre. Whenever a new
    book comes out she reads it. Joyce Meyer is a
    fave. She freely gives me her analysis of why I
    am how I am and why I do what I do. I do not
    welcome unsolicited psycho-analysis. She listens
    daily to the 'New Life Live' radio program with
    John Townsend and Henry Cloud. I believe the
    program gives self centered and ungodly advice.
    It is a repackaging of Freud, Fromme and Rogers
    in a "christian" wrapper. If I bring this up it
    is proof of how abusive I am.
  • After a counseling session about a year ago,
    while driving home, I asked Sharon "how would you
    describe the role of a wife?" She said 'to get
    her needs met and show her husband where he is
    wrong".
  • She has told me that 95 of the problems in our
    marriage are because of me and the five percent
    dont'
  • count because it's just her reacting to my
    craziness.
  • When I told her recently that I felt very hurt by
    what she had said and are you open to discuss it.
    She said " what a baby, you should be beyond
    getting hurt."

31
  • When I ask her if she can understand, given the
    circumstances how I'd be hurt she responds with "
    yeah I can see how you would be hurt." (when I
    asked for clarity it was that 'a dysfunctional
    emotional basketcase such as yourself would quite
    naturally get hurt. Any normal person would not,
    but you, I can understand.
  • Bottom line for me is that I feel rejected. I
    feel as though she doesn't see me as a legitimate
    person.
  • My feelings, sadness, loneliness etc. are a
    threat to her. She says it is an abuse. This is
    one of her frequent words. Abuse. Everything is
    abuse. She says I am a misogynist, abusive, worse
    than her father. She focuses on the past to a
    great extent. If we have a discussion about a
    current issue it soon goes back ten years or
    more, the notebooks come out and she wraps it up
    with an analysis of my behavior which she then
    supports with quotes from contemporary Christian
    authors or radio personalities and even Dr. Phil.
  • Yesterday I tried to express my desire to start
    all over, to apologize for the past and forgive
    her for the ways she has hurt me. She said she
    didn't want to hear it. Just do it.
  • When I attempt to discuss something that she has
    said to me that is hurtful she will not hear it.
    She says my sins greatly outweigh hers and so
    there's no point discussing something as
    insignificant as what she said. And furthermore
    any normal person never would have been hurt. I
    can't tell you how deeply this one thing affects
    me. It really is devastating for me to hear this.
    WHat I hear is " you are irrelevant. you and your
    context don't matter. What you feel is
    unimportant." It is as though ALL of the trouble
    is because of me and NONE of it is attributable
    to her. I can't bear this.
  • Recently her brother and his family were over.
    (the one who did not incest her) Afterwards he
    told me that he and his wife and two daughters
    were appalled at the way Sharon talked to me. The
    level of disrepect. I had felt it but only mildly
    because I am used to it. It struck me that it
    made such a stong impression on them. My parents
    see the same thing. My co-workers as well. She
    has had people tell her "you think your perfect
    don't you".
  • Truthfully, I don't think I have a normal context
    to compare all of this to. I don't know what it
    is like to have a supportive wife. One who
    believes in me. One who says "yeah, you can do
    it!" If I mention a dream or desire it gets
    squelched with the "more important"
  • issues like how I am so abusive.
  • Now after years of this I am quite distraught.
    Last winter she had a hysterectomy that is taking
    an unusually long time to recover from. This is
    hard on her. It is painful still today. I find it
    hard to show compassion. I know she is hurting
    but how to be tender with a spitting cobra?

32
  • For some reason it is important to me that she
    acknowledge that she does in fact hurt me.
  • It is important to me that I have sex.(which she
    says will not happen because a wife needs to feel
    loved before she can feel like having sex and it
    would be a violation of her boundaries and also
    abusive for any husband to "demand sex". This of
    course is substantiated by James Dobson, Henry
    Cloud, Dr. Phil and others. how can I argue with
    that?) I must say that my thought life in this
    area is a struggle.
  • I need her to believe in me and not see me as an
    emotional cripple. ( although with her I probably
    do act that way. but with anyone else in my life
    I don't and I say it's because nobody else talks
    to me that way she does.
  • Now I don't engage. I keep to myself and just try
    not to initiate anything. As you can imagine
    things are a mess. When I bolster enough courage
    to try again she brings up the past and chews me
    out for not initiating. So I give up anew. It is
    truly an endless cycle.
  • She maintains that she has done everything she
    can do.
  • I have not and that if I would everything would
    be fine.
  • I don't agree. The problem is that we cannot
    discuss it because according to her my sins are
    so much more severe that it would be an act of
    abuse to even bring up hers.
  • There are times I think I must be crazy. That I
    am nuts. I don't know what to do. Add to all of
    this four teenagers and an old house that needs
    repair and you'll get the picture.
  • I realize that this letter is only one side of
    the coin and it's always hard to get a true
    perspective in this way but if you have any
    advice for me I'd welcome it. I have never met
    you nor you I but please don't hold back. Don't
    censor yourself for fear of offense.
  • I am a Christian and am coming to understand that
    I am warring against my flesh and the enemy
    daily. Perhaps she is right and I am a train
    wreck of a person who needs to have his head
    examined.
  • Thank you for your time.
  • Do all in the knowledge of His coming.

33
  • You can be certain that I will not hold back.
    After reading your
  • gt gt email, I must say that it has left and
    imprint of
  • gt a
  • gt gt smile on my face. Now I
  • gt gt know that this might puzzle you, but I
    thought you were writing
  • gt gt about my wife! Welcome to life.
  • gt gt Your situation is no different than a myriad
    of husbands--most of
  • gt gt which have given up the battle long ago. All
    that you have said
  • gt gt about your wife may be true, but this doesn't
    really matter because
  • gt gt it is God who has CALLED you both to this
    marriage and to these
  • gt gt circumstances. Some are "called" to die as
    martyrs, some to prison,
  • gt gt some
  • gt to
  • gt gt illness, some to
  • gt gt torture, some to lose their jobs and wealth,
    some
  • gt to
  • gt gt be falsely
  • gt gt accused...you get the picture. First let's
    understand the concept,
  • gt gt "What God has joined together..." Indeed,
    God joined

34
  • Now gt gt that she is recovering
  • gt gt from the hysterectomy, her emotional needs
    are greater than ever.
  • gt gt Let's say that she is exactly as you say (I
    doubt that she
  • gt isgt gt because women like that
  • gt gt don't take the time to listen to Christian
    radio searching for
  • gt gt help)--but let's say that she is--THEN this
    is God's calling for
  • gt gt you! She is a sister in need. Need sex?
    What if she was mentally
  • gt gt impaired in a hospital for years? What would
    you do then? Clay,
  • gt gt God's grace is sufficient and for those of us
    that cry that it is
  • gt gt too painful, too difficult, clearly reveal
    that our right is not
  • gt gt right before God. I have walked in your shoes
    far too often, and
  • gt gt more times (and recently) than I would like
    to admit. I have fallen
  • gt gt more times than I can count, but one thing
  • gt isgt gt certain, if I cry out
  • gt gt to him and begin to walk in humility, He
    lifts me up, every time!!!
  • gt gt Yes it would be wonderful for our wives to
    encourage us
  • gt andgt gt back us and partner
  • gt gt with us, but sometimes the hurts of the past,
  • gt blockgt gt their ability to honor

35
  • Wow...how did he love?
  • gt gt And gave himself for the church, his wife. A
    wife who continues to
  • gt gt dishonor and turns her back on him often, yet
    in spite of this, he
  • gt gt loved and gave and does not become bitter.
    Clay this is our
  • gt gt calling--to be made conformable to His image.
    There is no other
  • gt gt way.
  • gt gt There are a few comments I would like to
    make
  • gt about
  • gt gt your email.
  • gt gt Concerning the work of New Life, it does
    reveal
  • gt that
  • gt gt you must battle your
  • gt gt critical spirit. I have listened to them
    many
  • gt times
  • gt gt and though there are
  • gt gt many things I would disagree with, I believe
    they are being used of
  • gt gt God.
  • gt gt You are probably slanted negatively because
    your wife listens to it
  • gt gt and uses it against you. You must not put
    down things that your wife

36
  • Hello again Mark,
  • I have ordered, received and read the Heart of
    the Problem. Due to my desperate and hungry
    condition I read it through in just a few days. I
    am now re-reading more slowly for proper
    digestion.
  • THere is a story in the first part of the book
    about a family with a twenty year old son in
    college. I find many parallels to our situation
    in this story. WHen I read it I had the thought
    that if my wife read this story she would ball me
    out and say "see!!! I told you so! You need to
    change!" THis morning I went into the kitchen to
    find her with the book and it happened just so.
    She also told me that if our son gets in trouble
    it'll be my fault.
  • I accept the premise of the book. We are dealing
    with sin as a condition. I sin. No one makes me
    sin. I choose it. One of my problems is that I
    don't want the pressure to sin to come from my
    wife. Why is it 'out of bounds' to talk about how
    she speaks harshly and disrespectfully to me?
    (this is how it plays out for us when I bring up
    her hurtful words) I am going to make it my goal
    to apologize when I sin. I am going to say I was
    wrong, I am sorry. And then I think I am going to
    have to keep my mouth shut because I anticipate a
    wild reaction. It is very hard to say these words
    for me. When I reflect on the matter I find that
    I think I can act with impunity. I think I can do
    anything I want to do. I think I have no
    responsibility to defer to anyone. I don't know
    that I have ever acknowledged this about myself.
  • I will say that over the last four days while
    reading the book I have been in control of my
    tongue moreso than in the past. I have been aware
    of my responsibility for my own behavior. I have
    become aware of how little I really love Christ.
    I say that because he tells us if we love him we
    will obey him. I have obeyed myself. I have not
    obeyed him. I have obeyed him indirectly in that
    his will at times coincides with mine and as such
    I will obey him at these times. WHen it is
    expedient to ignore Him I do so freely. The
    longer I sit writing this letter the more I see
    my depravity. I need to be restored. Thanks for
    listening,

37
  • Hello again Mark,
  • This whole week I have been acutely aware of my
    behavior. My speech, my thoughts, my attitudes,
    my level of patience, my irritation level, on and
    on. It is unprecedented. I praise His name for
    the Holy Spirit who has been doing this. I am
    realizing that a lot of my wife's complaints are
    legitimate. I am, in many ways, a jerk. I have
    printed out the third chapter of Colossians from
    StudyLight.org and have been reviewing it daily.
    I am going to work on memorizing parts or perhaps
    the entire chapter. I have also noticed how good
    I am at being a hypocrite. I have told many
    people how the Word is alive, that is is
    powerful, that the Word itself is something
    living.
  • And yet, I have neglected to make this living
    Word a part of my daily life. Truly I have lived
    a long time "in the flesh".

38
Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that
it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot
hear But your iniquities have made a
separation between you and your God, and your
sins have hidden his face from you so that he
does not hear. Isaiah 591-2
39
It has been discovered that if we could eliminate
our sins, we would solve most of our own problems
and most of the ills of society, including the
breakdown of the family, domestic violence, child
abuse, rape, murder, violence, political
deception, and personal misery.
40
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness. I John 19 (read page 70ff)
41
But if we walk in the light as He is in the
light, we have fellowship with one another, and
the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us
from all sin. I John 17
(And this is condemnation, that light is come
into the world, and men loved darkness rather
than light, because their deeds were evil. For
everyone that does evil hates the light, lest his
deeds should be reproved.
42
It is important to understand that I could
acknowledge being wrong on all points without
agreeing that I have sinned against God. It is
important to comprehend that being wrong and
being sinful are not interchangeable words. We
must be clear on what we mean by being wrong.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads
to salvation without regret, whereas worldly
grief produces death. II Corinthians 710
43
The End
44
(No Transcript)
45
Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered
such anguish. Isaiah 3817
46
It is more important to know the presence of God
than to seek the will of God, because when you
walk in His presence you will more easily find
and understand His will. Romans 122
47
Those who know your name will trust in you, for
you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek
you. Psalm 910
In the providence of God is that we either
unconsciously or deliberately imply that God
intervenes at specific points in our lives but is
largely only an interested spectator most of the
time. When we think this way, even
unconsciously, we reduce Gods control over our
lives to a stop-and-go, in-an-out proposition.
Our unconscious attitude is that the rest of the
time we are the master of our fates or
conversely the victims of unhappy circumstances
or uncaring people that cross our paths.
48
Theologian J.I. Packer defines providence as,
The unceasing activity of the Creator whereby,
in overflowing bounty and goodwill, He upholds
His creatures in ordered existence, guides and
governs all events, circumstances, and free acts
of angels and men, and directs everything to its
appointed goal, for His own glory. Note the
absolute terms Packer uses unceasing
activity. all eventsall acts, directs
everything.
49
Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when
the Lord has not commanded it? Is it not from
the mouth of the Most High that woe and
well-being proceed?        Lamentations 337-38
50
Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has
not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the
Most High that both calamities and good things
come? Lamentations 337-38
51
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell
you great and hidden things that you have not
known. Jeremiah 333
52
He brought me out into a broad place he rescued
me, because he delighted in me.     The LORD
dealt with me according to my righteousness
according to the cleanness of my hands he
rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the
LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.
For all his rules were before me, and his
statutes I did not put away from me. Psalm
1819-22
53
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and
knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his
judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans
1133
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