BOY I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU!

Just what does a really healthy person experience in regards to delighting in their God given design and the life He has given them?

When I discharge people from the day hospital, I sometimes tell them that my goal for them is that in a couple  of years they might wake up, sit on the edge of their bed and feel intensely sorry for everyone else on the planet because the other people can’t be them, and being them is just so cool. Yet, not being them is OK because they can be themselves and that is pretty cool too. Of course, they laugh out loud at the absurdity of the possibility that they might like being themselves so much that they would feel sorry for others.

In Acts 26 29 Paul says, ” I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” Now he was rejoicing in his being a Christian, but I think it went deeper and he had come to accept who he was, his time in history, his past, God’s unique design for each person, the tasks at hand etc. and he really could recommend to others “being like him”.  I Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me as I follow Christ. Galatians 4 :12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am. I Corinthians 7:7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. (single and celebate) This is what he was called to and he rejoiced in it not feeling sorry for himself.

Does feeling wonderful about all that your in present reality is true about you  seem ridiculous to you? Maybe you need to take who you are, where you are, when you are, who are your people, what you are able to do, what you do have, who you are in Christ, and walk the second mile with them. The first mile would be to stop resenting them. We often feel that it is somehow spiritual to put ourselves down, but we are God’s workmanship and he has done a good job on each one. Those who feel like the least are actually the most important! The second mile is to rejoice and be grateful for all your current realities especially the ones you can do nothing about. The third mile is to seize a hold of those realities and enjoy what we have, minister to and love on and receive from who we have, and whatever your hands find to do; to do with all your might. The fourth mile is to delight in what the Lord has done in making you and preparing you to be the right one for the job and lastly bringing him glory by sharing with others how cool it is to be you and how cool it would be if they would let the Lord have his way in their reality as well.

Now we seek to grab the present reality and live it for God with enthusiam. This does not mean that we don’t try to grow and set limits and alter that reality as God leads. It just means that we start being grateful for the current reality and follow God’s lead from there.

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SMILE THOUGH YOUR HEART IS BREAKING.

I was very encouraged by the replies to my last post. I went back to my opthalmologist and, by not using my left eye for two weeks the problem has settled down. Just another part of getting old I guess. She said that I can use both eyes now, just don’t read without my glasses and not too long.

The scriptures suggest that we should be aware of what we are saying with our faces and our body posture and the way we care for ourselves. Do we look people in the eye and SMILE, or look blankly past them?Do we lean towards them when they are talking or look slightly preoccupied? I was saying that we need a class at church on how to say with our bodies that God is on the throne and we are happy to be here with those around us. Pastor said that the people would not stand any such practical guidance. So what do we do with all that general preaching? Do we assume that we must be applying it well? Do we assume that we ARE lending our body parts as slaves to God including our faces and body posture. Well from what I see, there is room for improvement in this area. So I’m going to stand in front of the mirror this week and  practice smiling and looking interested and pleased to see you etc.

There are so many vicious circles in life. One of them is the circle between our habit brain deciding that there is some value to continuing to focus on our misery even when there is nothing to do about it. We expect, I suppose, to find a solution at last, or at least to get someone else to notice and help us or at least reward us with their sympathy. This choice to worry or ruminate on the details of past hurt or past failure or of a current situation we can do nothing about: causes our passion center to send signals into the body to dump out adrenaline which begins to jangle the nerves, cortisone is released which, if chronically released, will cause burn out depression, brain fog, lower immune function, thin bones, weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease etc. The immune system is told to go on high alert, which leads to fibromyalgia, migraines, TMJ, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, asthma: because the body begins attacking itself.

One thing that locks us into the perpetual tension phase, is to “say” with out bodies that we are miserable. The brain feels tense and then it notices that the muscles are tight and that your face is sad and your stomach is full of butterflies, and your posture is slumped, and your hair unbrushed, and fingernails unpolished. (We are trained to look at how far the polish has grown out to estimate the length of current severe misery.) All these body signals pump up the brains misery which causes you to slump more etc.

The scriptures admonish us to “lift up the hands that hang down and straighten the feeble knees and wash you face and put on cologne ‘oil’ . It is OK to take into account your struggle and”make straight paths for your feel if they are lame. Hebrews 12:12. Strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong fear not: behold your God will come. Isaiah 35:3 Go thy way , eat thy bread with joy and drink thy wine with a merry heart’ Let thy garment be always white (clean and pressed) and let thy head lack no ointment, ( take care of your appearance.) Ecclesiastes 9:7,8

Hannah’s husband Elkanah suggested in first Samuel 1 that her being miserable reflected on him, “Am I not better to thee than ten sons? So she got she ate and drank, ‘which she had not been doing’ and took her request to the Lord rather than wandering around miserable. We are to cast all our cares on him for her cares for us. When we circle endlessly on the details and walk around miserable, we are saying to the world that Jesus is not enough and being a Christian is sure a drag. Sure we grieve, sure we want children and other blessings so take it to the Lord and leave it there

  1. If the world from you withhold of its silver and its gold,
    And you have to get along with meager fare,
    Just remember, in His Word, how He feeds the little bird—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

    • Refrain:
      Leave it there, leave it there,
      Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there;
      If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out—
      Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
  2. If your body suffers pain and your health you can’t regain,
    And your soul is almost sinking in despair,
    Jesus knows the pain you feel, He can save and He can heal—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
  3. When your enemies assail and your heart begins to fail,
    Don’t forget that God in Heaven answers prayer;
    He will make a way for you and will lead you safely through—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
  4. When your youthful days are gone and old age is stealing on,
    And your body bends beneath the weight of care;
    He will never leave you then, He’ll go with you to the end—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

GOD LEADS INTO VALLEYS BUT HE IS THERE

Sorry, it’s been a while. I did have a fabulous reunion with my children and grandchildren in southern Illinois during the solar eclipse. Then I fell ill with a bad cold and even had some weird  symptoms that turned out to be my left eyeball trying to pull itself apart due the the shrinkage that comes with drying aqueous humor as you get old. (I am 68 after all).  Then I get behind and the technophobia hits and I have an electronic version or writers block where I have urges to do everything except get at the blog I’m now behind on. Can any of you relate?

During all of this I have been pondering God’s ways with me.

(It takes a lot of pondering because even after 63 years as his child, my thoughts are not his thoughts and my ways are not his ways.)

He seems to allow things into my life that, frankly, I would not choose. THEN he works in almost miraculous ways to cover for the stress so that I am not too overwhelmed and so that I can see his hand at work and relax in the things that I don’t understand.

Last weekend I started having lightning flashes out of the left field of vision and pieces of lint floating in front of my vision. I don’t like to fuss and I am thinking,”if I don’t go get it checked out and it turns out to be serious, then people will be upset at me for not taking care of myself, but I also figured that if I took my PHP’s advice, which is always, “go to the ER” that they would run up a hugh copay and then tell me that I am just old! Besides when would I have time. Then on Monday I had the shortest workday I’ve had in a year, as only two admissions showed up. Then the Lord reminded me that my wife, Lois, sees a great ophthalmologist in Grand Rapids. So I called her office to see if any of the doctors there might have a cancellation and be able to handle a walk in. They did! but I needed to get there in a hurry. The traffic was clear and I arrived 10 min early. The doctor I saw was a little uncertain of what she was seeing so called their “retina specialist” who turns out to be Lois’ doctor and the best in the area. I would have been impossible to schedule with him directly but the Lord worked it out. Of course they didn’t have time to answer my questions so I have to rest in the Lord till I see them again in two weeks.  Of course I will have to rest in him then also, but it is so much easier not to let your imagination run on all the possible outcomes when you know what the most likely outcomes might be. They just told me to not do any strenuous lifting and DON’T READ! I reminded them of what I do at work. The Lord led me to wear a piece of paper over my left eye in order to rest it.

With the bad cold, God gave me shorter work days and a long weekend to recover on. I should be just about back to normal in time to return to a full busy week.

Of course I would prefer eyeballs that work perfectly till I die of old age, older age than this that is, and abounding energy for all the kingdoms labors. I guess he is reminding me not to take anything for granted and that it is OK to slow down and take care of myself sometimes. Of course, I wouldn’t mind you putting in a good word for me with the Lord in regards to my eyeball. The doctor told me that, if a thousand little red dots showed up in my vision that I should call back early. I’d rather not experience that, but it is good to know that NO MATTER WHAT God will be with me in that valley also.

ME THINKETH YOU TALK OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF YOUR MOUTH

People come in whining about their  problems then when suggestions are made they shoot them down or say, “well it really isn’t that much of a problem!” So I ask, “OK so why not let it go and refocus on grabbing the life in front of you?”   “Well, they reply, it is too big of a problem to ignore and get on with life, but too small to buckle down and deal with.

People will admit that they are messed up and say “I must be hard to live with.” This would lead the listener to assume that they are ready to change. Then nothing happens and they continue to do the same “messed up” behaviors and do not seek help. They seem to be saying that by admitting that they are messed up others should see them as honest and humble and not require genuine effort to change.

The scriptures point out that the same mouth will say “I love God so much!” and then turn around and find fault with, get mad at and put down everyone around them. Yet it is a lie to say your love God and hate anyone he made and died for.

We say that our neighbors will go to hell for eternal separation from God and that we care about them. Then few show up to go calling on those same neighbors when the church has outreach days.

They say that we are trying to grow and are open to feedback and that we love the Word. Yet all scripture reproves and they never report any of the reproving from having read the word. If you gave them any feedback they would punish you by counter attacking, or by defending or explaining why it isn’t true or even by agreeing and then becoming depressed but not changing.

So, what shall we say then? Whatever is just, lovely, honest, well spoken of, virtuous. Go ahead and quote scripture and sing hymns but please let us STOP and ponder “what manner of persons aught we then to be in living holy lives?”

BLESSINGS ON THE LITTLE (weak, untrained,troubled,ignored, etc.)GUY- YOU and I!

John Wesley was led by the Lord to take the gospel to the uneducated working classes, and a great revival saved western civilization as a result. The Bible says that not many strong, not many wise  in this world’s opinion, not many rich will be used or chosen. We have this treasure in vessels of clay that the treasure might be seen the more awesome.

This is not to suggest that we should justify being unstudied in the word or unpracticed in prayer, or unused to witnessing, but rather that we not wait to serve till we “seem”, in our own eyes or the eyes of others, to appear strong and wise.

It also guides us to look at our families and churches to discern who seems to be the weakest and to remember that according to I Corinthians 12 21 they are MUCH MORE important than the rest. So we would do well to think, “what do we need them for, how can we give them ministry and let God bless us through them?” We need to give more honor to these weaker parts. So who do you have on your list of the “seemingly” small and weak?:  The old,the teens,mentally challanged,women, children, uneducated, low income, short, ugly, low IQ, shy, quiet etc.

I am real excited about what God is doing in my church and we are growing spiritually and in numbers but seem to not have figured out how to pull in the old, the shy, the teems. Oh, we have a vibrant youth ministry but we have not figured out what we NEED them for. Sure they are the future of the church but the “WEAK” do not so much need to be ministered to as they need to be needed, and not in a general sense such as, “Well, we need everyone.” but in a, “If we can’t draw them into doing their part then the battles will be lost and the church will not thrive!

In our church the teens go off an are not often seen in the door to door calling or visiting the shut ins or in upholding the needs in prayer. Young men, especially, want to be called to do great deeds and fight the good fight and become part of the other warriors in a battle with purpose and with things that they can do. But they have been told that they need to “socialize” with other teens and “find themselves” and “develop their individual identities”. So they go off by themselves and play and when they pass you, they look right through you if you are an older person, as if you don’t exist.

What about the shut ins? What a potential powerhouse of experience and time to tap into for prayer if we would let them know the details of the battle.

The Lord has pointed out that I have two young men in my Sunday-school class who have trouble understanding basic things and get lost in the discussion.Whey we identify a prayer need and I ask for someone to pray for the need, they never offer to try. Yet their prayers would be powerful before God. One of the difficult balances is that “WEAK” people often react to being challenged to participate with refusing and then not coming back. That is probably because they have been comparing themselves to others. Somehow we must find out how to entice them to do the little that they can without driving them away.

God has called me to minister with and to affirm the place of the seemingly weak in the body of Christ. Evey time I try to do a class or support group or in other ways contribute in the church, few people sign up, the ones who come rave about how real and helpful it is—and then don’t invite others or even keep coming themselves. So God seems to be leading me to put more effort into this online ministry. (I am so grateful to Him and to my daughter Cheri for making this possible and to all of you who choose to get my writings and podcasts.) I am also going to devote Wednesday nights to visitation of the shut-ins and the “weak” in the body of Christ. Please pray for direction and chances to bless others.

 

IS IT WAR THEN?

Recently, in the USA, we have experienced a very different involvement in war than in the past. We would fight , win then move on through peacetime, call our troops home and settle down till the next war. Now, it seems, our troops are fighting overseas a never-ending war. This requires a very different approach, a very different soldier, and very different supports.

This new war is very similar to the old war between good and evil, God’s kingdom and the devil’s. This war started long before we were born and will continue till long after we die. Fought in our own strength, we would soon grow weak and be defeated. My wife Lois has pointed out that the side of evil seems to have more stamina in our country than the godly forces. They fight to pull down marriage, to allow everyone to have sex with everyone, to discourage frugality, to encourage whining victim mentality, to encourage us to look to the government for security and not to God or his kingdom. They fight and lose, fight and lose, fight and win a little, fight and win a little more and soon we just give in. We want to do battle and then coast. It is a long distance race, a lifelong battle and we should make up our minds to be good to the last drop.

Often my view of the average Christian soldier is someone wandering the battlefield with no training, no sword, no support team, no battle buddies, no instructions, no goals, clad in bermuda shorts and a Hawaaian shirt, sipping lemonade and when the enemy shoots at them, they throw their glass of lemonade at the enemy and whine about how they did not sign up for this.

When we become Christians we are in a war and have joined an army and the enemy will certainly want to shoot at us.

So what does it take? First put on the armor and get up each morning by reminding yourself that your thoughts are protected by the helmet of salvation and we overcome the devil by declaring that we belong to Jesus and are purchased by the blood of the Lamb and we do not fear the devil though he arrange to have us killed. When he attacks and accuses us brethren, that is his job, we remind ourselves and him that we have our hearts protected by the breastplate of Jesus’ righteousness. When he temps us to be wishywashy on “does the Bible really say?” Maybe we should trust the secular scholars who say don’t spank children and have lots of sex before marriage in order to be better prepared to commit long term. We respond that we have the belt of truth in God’s word and will trust that. When he temps us to judge others and wall ourselves off and be defensive rather than tearing down the gates of Hell, we assure ourselves and him that we have our feet shod with the good news of Jesus death and resurrection and that Jesus died for ALL and we will attack his kingdom with this good news. We will train ourselves in the use of jour weapons the quoted word and spoken prayer and witness. We will seek and reward feedback from our brethren as iron sharpens iron, we will let others know of our struggles so they can come to our side, and we will continue to build while fighting the good fight till we finish the lifelong course and receive the prize.

 

LISTEN

We often us pat phrases that sound good but leave the follower of Jesus feeling confused and vaguely guilty because we have no clue what they mean or how we are to apply them to our lives. For example: lean on Jesus, trust in him, rest in grace, or listen to the still small voice.

Maybe I can share my recent experiences on a mission trip to Montreal. This is one of the darkest of all mission fields. Asking people to turn from idols and demons to Jesus is pretty simple compared to talking to people living in a modern city driving nice cars and finishing college. Especially is these people have rejected the version of Christianity found in the Catholic church. They believe that science has proved that there is no need for God and that “all that stuff is just a crutch”.

As I have often shared, I am very shy and one of the hardest things for me is “cold calling” on doors. So I jumped in the deep end and delivered invitation cards to about 600 homes. I think that the Lord “talks to us” through helping us feel our weakness and letting us know that where we are week he is strong so go in the direction of most resistance. So here I am passing our cards in french, and my french is 40 years old and rather mediocre. The cards are saying “come to our church and don’t trust in works religion” These people have no religion at all and would be loath to “waste” a sunday morning going to some strange church. Now in Michigan it is against the law to put fliers in mail boxes but you can ring door bells. In Quebec it is against the law to ring doorbells but you can put fliers in the circular mailbox which is on almost every home. So I’m getting in touch with my insides and talking to the Lord, ” these fliers are a bit irritating and will probably just be tossed, so why am I out here dropping these off?” He spoke into my head that he agreed that the fliers were not real great but they did have the plan of salvation on them and he was capable of preparing hearts and causing people to stop and read. He then put the thought into my heart that I should do my calling following the rules he gave the disciples in the Bible that if one was received then let “YOUR” blessing come on the house. He pointed out that he was blessing me with abnormal, “for me” peace and joy. So at each house I stopped and asked God to bless the people within. This changed my view  from being out there “irritating people for Jesus” to being out there spreading Gods blessings and making his work in hearts and minds easier. When I was asked by people what I was up to, I could truthfully say, in french, that I was a soldier of Jesus Christ out asking him to bless them and their homes and their street and city. They all responded with “merci beaucoup” This was very encouraging. Then he placed the idea in my head to pray outloud because the devil can’t read minds and he wanted the devil to hear me as I prayed than God would “jetter le diable loin d’ici” which I think means. Throw the devil far from here. (that was the closest I could get in french) Then I came to a house where the box read , PAS DE CIRCULAIR, or NO CIRCULARS! Now what? The lord suggested I shake the dust off my feet and move on as they were not open to me. I felt kind of weird doing this as I had little dust on my feet and it did look weird but that is what the Bible suggests. As I moved on from one such house the people drove up so I went back and had a nice chat with them so I guess God had a special reason for that contact. Still I had few real conversations but enjoyed spreading light and peace in a place of darkness and tension. At one house the lady Julia came out to find out what I was up to and we got to talking. It didn’t take long to find out that her English was better than my French. She struggles with depression and had been putting together a collection of helpful prayers to encourage her. I was able to do some counseling and connect her to my blog site. So pray for her.

So hearing from the lord happens as we are ENGAGED in life and are being REAL  about the difficulties of the situation and the limitations of our tools and abilities, then we need to be STEEPED IN THE WORD, and ideas RELEVANT to the task will come into  our heads and the MORE WE GIVE THEM A TRY the more ideas come and we find the tension fading and service is a joy.

Maybe you could share how he talks with you.