Days – Even in This Place? (a Poem)

There are days when I feel like Elijah after the fire…
afraid for his life even in the face of victory.
racked with fear and mortality.
loaded down with concerns of his enemies and
what they thought about him.

There are days when I feel like Jonah after the big fish…
when he told the wicked people of God’s wrath…
and they turned from their ways
but Jonah did not…
and so, there he sat in self-pity and lamented.
“just let me die”
But God would not have any of that.

There are days when I feel like Paul in chains…
having done all I can do for ‘the cause’ but…
there’s still a thorn in my side
and it’s hurting me so – “Lord please take it away”
But He doesn’t, so here I sit here thorn and all.

There are days when I feel like Jesus overlooking Jerusalem
and I weep for the blindless of people
and I’ve done all that I can do,
and still it rends my heart because the ignorance lingers on.
and then I face my own cross and I beg for the cup to be lifted
but God does not lift it, and I must drink.

Still there are dark days that plague my heart
when storms threaten to overtake me and wash me away.
when in my strength I am completely helpless
and alone.
Have I been forsaken?
Have you left me God?
It feels as if I have no friends
no where to turn…
or run.

Lord, are you here
even in this place?

Encouragement For A Soldier’s Heart…

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Mama said there’ll be days like this
There’ll be days like this mama said” -(by Luther Dixon & Willie Denson)

Are you having one of THOSE days?

troubleOur Troubles…
Our frustrations and troubles within this world look vastly different from the early church and that of Jesus’ disciples.  Yet, this verse is for you and for me today.  All too often we engage souls in these ministries that we are responsible for.  All too often we hear other people’s problems and they become ours.  It becomes a shared burden.  We provide care, support and guidance to many within our flock.  We feel the burden of these cares, and sometimes they weigh heavy on us.

Other times our troubles come by way of our calling.  Sometimes the ministries we have been called to or placed in suddenly become a “dry and thirsty land” with very little by way of encouragement, support and hope.  Sometimes instead of a passionate, flowing river of a numerically “successful” ministry we face a slim trickle of moderate or rare numeric success which makes us ponder the questions: “am I cut out for this?” and “what have I done wrong?“…and we face discouragement, disillusionment and even depression.

Still, on other occasions these troubles come by way of outward pressures in our communities or individualistic persecutions.  Perhaps we face false teachers, or we must confront immorality within our church and when we do, we’re blasted as “judgmental” and shouted at with curses and graceless comments such as “how dare you, what gives you the right?”  We question if we should have just let sleeping dogs lie but in our hearts we know it was the right thing to do and we did so with grace and love.  Still…troubles from without and from within have left us wounded and discouraged.

About That Peace?…peace
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples after telling them of not only His pending death but also of their pending troubles in the world…but there was hope.  There is always hope in the Father.  There is always hope in the Son.  There is always hope in the Holy Spirit who guides us on this path.  Have you ever heard the phrase “keep the main thing the main thing?”  It alludes to the need for keeping the principle of our mission at the forefront of our minds.

Our Principle:  The message of Christ (Messiah), the message of the cross, the message of salvation, of resurrection, of hope, of reconciliation, of love, and victory over sin and death.

When we keep “the main thing the main thing”, we realign ourselves with God and turn away from the problems of this world.  Not that the problems of this world aren’t important, but rather, The Author of life itself takes His proper place in our priorities.  From this place of understanding we then can look around our world and truly see how things are and how they could be.  This is when we begin to see the world through the eyes of Christ because we are striving to live for Him alone.  This is holiness.  This is surrendering ourselves at the foot of the cross and then picking up our own crosses to follow Him.

Peace?  What Peace?
Carrying our crosses and following Him (Matthew 16:24) doesn’t sound “peaceful” does it?  Pain still exists.  Hurtful accusations, slander and suffering will still occur.  How could THIS be peaceful?   One might ask.  Perhaps “peace” means something differently than what we initially thought it to mean.  It is certainly not the absence of conflict in our lives; for there is still conflict.  It is not the absence of adversity, discouragement or suffering either; for we still encounter these on our path as well.  Then what is this peace that Christ provides to us if it is not the absence of conflict?  It is an eternal peace.  A peace that transcends this temporal, mortal existence.  It is a peace that alleviates the burdens of our former self as we embrace the image of Christ.  It is a peace that resides in our lives because His Holy presence brings us assurance and hope.  It is a peace that still passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7) yet conveys to us that we are not alone and we will overcome because He has overcome.

soldiers3Dear Soldier…
Are you in need of that peace today in your life?
Are you facing discouragement, hopelessness and pain?  You aren’t alone.  You do not have to carry this burden by yourself.   There is One who can provide you with this peace.  Perhaps there is some realignment that must be done in your heart today.  Perhaps we must go before the Father again with a penitent heart.  Perhaps it is a simple yet constant prayer of “Lord use me and allow me to see evidence of You in my life.

Be encouraged today!  We are not alone.  We are not abandoned.  We are overcomers because Christ has overcome the world.  Allow this peace to evident in your life today!

Something more to ponder today.  To God be the Glory!

Heaven is for real…and so is pain and suffering.

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Yesterday I blogged a bit about not living completely in the Christian-ecosystem that sometimes is known as the “Bubble”.  

Today…

I would like to explore what people are saying about Heaven as well as pain (even if the pain isn’t even spoken about).  

What are people saying about life after death?  

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As a Christian living in this world I recognize that to me this life is a gift…but that doesn’t always mean there isn’t pain and difficulties along the way.  Life is not just about the destination but also about the journey.  

QUESTIONS ABOUT SUFFERING 

Sometimes the journey is painful.

Why do some people endure more pain than others?  
Why is there suffering in this world? 

I understand that suffering and pain is a part of our fallen world but to me that answer sometimes just isn’t good enough…I want more.  I yearn to get to the bottom of this whole pain thing.  Isn’t that why some doctors feel called to their practice in the first place?  They want to help ease the pain in this life?  Isn’t there relief in sight?  Sometimes I look around me and am staggered by friends who have lost parents and other loved ones through the blight of cancer and other terminal diseases.  

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It hurts my heart to see servants of God, who deeply love God and serve Him and yet they are afflicted with these cancers that eat away and ravage the body.  I often ask “Why God?”  

When I think of the verse that Jesus said (even within the context of loving your enemies) – “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” I recognize that God is fair and just in this world.  I also recognize that the fallen nature of this world is the ultimate cancer that ravages our world.  The rains can, and some times do, include times of emotional and physical drought for the sinner and the saint.  The rains can include times of healing and times of sickness…and even death.  

Although I know this to be true, can I be honest with you?  It doesn’t do much to ease my hurt when I see friends hurting.  I hurt right along with them as they suffer…but as a Christian I do know that there is ultimate healing and that death is not the end.  

What other people are saying…

 

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Last night I asked friends of mine a question.  The question was -” who else do you long to see in heaven besides Jesus?
Their answers ranged from grand parents, spouses, relatives and friends and even children that some had lost.
Even though we have this hope and assurance of Eternity with Christ we still endure hardships and sufferings.  Life is not easy and we still carry these wounds of those loved ones we have lost along with us.  Sometimes their memories comfort us while other times they help us to endure through rough patches we ourselves are going through.  

BUT HEAVEN IS FOR REAL…RIGHT NOW!:

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Here’s a revelation, perhaps you already know this – We don’t have to wait for heaven to get here to experience God’s Kingdom now! 
 Luke 17:20b-21 (NIV) Jesus said, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God  is in your midst [or,within you].”

Jesus experienced suffering in His very human life.  He was hurt by betrayal, but abandonment and He even suffered the worst of deaths.  I think it is safe to say that Jesus knows a little bit about human suffering and what we go through still today.  Despite the fact that suffering exists here’s a source of hope for you and for me:  The Kingdom of God is here and now!  Jesus may have been implying the He was the Kingdom in physical form and though He isn’t physically here His Presence in the form the Holy Spirit is.  We are not alone in this world…we never were.  God’s Kingdom is among us still.  Eternity is around us…we just haven’t recognized it yet. 

It is true that when we die we will see Eternity in all of its glory, but we do not need to wait for that day to experience God’s presence every day!  His presence is the essence of eternity and despite the sufferings of these human forms and the fallen world we live in, He can provide us the victory through it all!  This may be difficult to swallow for some of us…I still struggle with it myself, but I do believe despite pain and suffering God is very present with us right here and right now!  

Heaven is for real, so is pain and suffering, BUT the Almighty is also very, very real as well!  

-Just a thought.  

 

This Old House…Peeling back the paint

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Sometimes recalling certain memories can be like peeling the paint from an old weathered house.  You know the old house needs it, it’s crying for it and yet the whole facade will change.  Peeling back the paint will remove the years of character and sometimes charm, but underneath it all you know the walls need to breathe, to be set free, and sometimes the old paint holds moisture in, green and molding smelling ripe like mildew.  All unseen by the naked eye without the begrudging labor of the paint peeler.

Withholding our memories, holding them at arm’s length, quivering like a lost puppy who whimpers and shies away from everything including a loving hand, we fear what we will find underneath it all!   We fear that others will be horrified when the truth is revealed…memories are like prison bars and razor wire fences.  We’re a captivated audience of one, too afraid to move…to make a break for it.  Too afraid of our own shadows lurking within corners that we’ve created.  Memories that we avoid do not fade, but rather they deepen in their staining.  And we within our self-made prisons peer out at them from behind our bar windows, clutching fragments of sun light instead of basking in it.

This old house needs a new, fresh coat of glossy clean paint that sparkles in the sunlit day and gleams when the stars in the night sky comes a callin’…but first this old decrepit brown weathered tinged paint must be peeled back…we must reveal our hurts, our wounds, our heartaches, we can’t just paint over the old for the old with infect and deflect the new.

So with weapon of choice in hand we, knowing it to be the right thing to do, must embrace the mess, confess to the wrongs, embrace what it is now, relish the opportunity to begin again.  Peel back the pain that harbors itself beneath the paint.  Let it breathe free and when the sun has baked its cold moisture away…this old house can take on a new creation.

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