Tag Archives: pain

Rev 21:1-3, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”  The Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos saw something he had never seen, something he really did not know what he was seeing, but he saw it.  We each see as we understand and we relate what we have seen in terms we know.  It is true for John and it is true for you and for me.

Tonight when I went to bed I thought about what I had been watching on TV and it included the movie Star Trek and Thor.  Now Star Trek is a 50 year old franchise of science fiction and in it man goes where he has not gone before, strange new worlds, and he goes boldly.  But the key word here is fiction.  It is man’s concept of that which does not exist.  From a logical perspective it all could be; the science of warp speed, transporters, strange new worlds and other civilizations make sense.  From a pure astronomical point of view we know there are billions of galaxies and billions of stars within each of those galaxies and that there must be billions of planets in each one so therefore there should be billions of other worlds complete with beings and some of them must be older than us and some must also be younger, some more advanced and some not as advanced as we are.  Makes sense to me and a lot of people think so.  But the bottom line is we don’t know.  What we do know is what we know and for each of us that is contained in our history.

Now one thing we do know and that is recorded in history is that there was a man named Jesus Christ.  He was born, he lived and he died.  We have records of his life and records of how he died, actually how he was murdered.  And these records say He claimed to be God’s own son, to be God Himself come down from someplace called heaven.  The records also record things that do not fit our understanding, Star Trek like things.  But how do these records get recorded?  Let’s consider the apostle John in the Book of Revelation, a book that is actually titled “the Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

John had been sent to a Roman penal colony on the Isle of Patmos because he would not worship the pagan Roman leaders.  This is because he, John, had met and knew that this man Jesus really was all He claimed to be, God come down to be a man like us.  When you know the truth you have to stand on it.  When you know God, when He has come into your life He changes you and transforms you as nothing else can.

So I am in bed trying to get my mind to be quiet and to drift off to sleep and to start to dream.  And Star Trek and other things want to play around in my mind and I am trying to tell my mind to think about real things, the things of God that I know are true and real, not this sci-fi make believe world.  And this gets me to thinking about this time of year, Christmas time.  Thinking about how this Christmas has been and why and what does it mean.  this Christmas season has been a hard one on me for a lot of reasons.

Christmas is always a difficult time for me.  It is both a very good time and a very bad time, very hard emotionally.  And it takes me for an emotional roller coaster ride which includes dreams and sleeping.  So I am trying to go to sleep tonight and I am trying to get a handle on reality and not some sci-fi nonsense and John on Patmos comes to mind.  Let’s take a look.  John saw a new heaven and a new earth and he wrote about it.  But he can only write in terms and words he knows and understands the same as you and I.  In a spiritual sense I have been to heaven a few times, caught up in the spirit as the Apostle Paul says.  So what did it look like?  I was in the great throne room of God Himself and the only words I can use to describe it come from the wizard of OZ because that is an image I can get a handle on.  But it wasn’t like that throne room; it was different, more glorious, more beyond description.  In H. G Wells “The War of the Worlds” the author describes these marching machines that are attacking the earth and they sound a whole lot like water towers that are walking and moving.  Again, I propose that H. G. Wells is relating what he cannot accurately describe in terms he can describe.

I submit to you that the reality is so much greater than we can not only imagine but conceive of or dream.  On Christmas Day, 2009, we took my wife to the hospital due to complications with cancer.  Lab tests confirmed her kidneys had shut down and she was in renal failure.  That is a nice clinical term for she was dying.  We transferred her to the hospice facility where on December 29th she did indeed die.  In these situations people who are going through it go into emotional overload.  During it your thought processes are numb but on the other side disbelief takes over.  This Christmas season a good friend lost his sister and another dear friend lost his father.  Christmas day I met a lady who lost her son a few months ago to a hit and run driver.  I was visiting a neighbor who had a friend over who lost her husband a couple of months ago.  Each of these individuals is grappling with what is real and what is not and is grappling with how to deal with it.

So let’s take a look at what Christmas means and let’s start with the opening announcement that something special has happened.  So it begins with Mary giving birth to the baby Jesus in a stable.  Consider the story in Luke, chapter 2, where there are shepherds watching their flocks at night, just minding their business when very Star Trek like an angel appears (complete in glory) and scares the you know what out of them.  This stuff just does not happen and this record of it is written down by a doctor no less.  And the angel says, first of all, don’t be afraid (even though you have every right to be) because I come and bring good news not just for you but for everyone on earth.  Cool, this has got to be good, really something out of this world.  So here it is, the Savior of the world is born.  Okay, sounds good so far.  Go and you will find Him in a manger (feeding trough) in a stable (where animals are kept) and oh, did I mention He is a baby?  Now the angel is surrounded all of a sudden by a large number of heavenly hosts who are all singing praises for this infant child in a stable and then all of them just sort of Star Trek like transport back to heaven.  And you, being one of the shepherds left standing wondering what just happened because it is totally outside of any frame of reference you have go down to the town and guess what?  There is a stable and in it is a manger where a baby lays, a newborn.  The story that should not make sense is actually true.  Quit having jalapeno’s for a late night snack, okay guys.  What really happened with the angel and the heavenly hosts?  We don’t know but we know that the shepherds expressed it in terms they understood and they expressed what really did happen and Israel doesn’t have jalapeno’s so that isn’t what caused it .

I know the pain of people dying and it hurts.  But there are different depths of that pain.  I have had friends and family die and some of it has affected me more deeply than others.  On Christmas Eve, 1970, I was involved in a friendly fire incident in Vietnam where 12 GI’s died.  12 men who were counting on us to support them and we failed.  God, that left scars that still sear with pain even over 40 years later.  There has been much healing but the pain can never go away.  When my wife died I never knew there could be so much pain.  My heart and mind and very soul were ripped apart.  There has also been much healing of that. But what is the greater perspective of it all?

The greater perspective is that there is something more, something beyond all that we know and understand and we have had a taste of it and we can taste of it and know that it is so.  There is a heaven, a real place where people can go when they die.  There is a God, someone beyond our comprehension, who is and was and will be to come.  One of my spiritual “visits” to heaven is tied into my wife Deborah.  After she died, and I was totally consumed with grief and anguish and pain I finally started to get out of my shell.  I worked a Kairos weekend in prison.  This is a ministry where the team of volunteers goes into a prison to bring the love of Jesus to the inmates, and it is good.  So I was on the back table during a time of singing when they sang a song I don’t recall ever hearing.  The song is called “I can only Imagine” written by the group Mercy Me (Bart Millard).  And as we were standing there singing I was taken up in the spirit to heaven and I found myself in the great throne room of God.  It was full of people and it reminded me of the throne room from the Wizard of OZ (remember that we have to fit things in our understanding).  Well, my wife Deborah greeted me and she had the biggest, most beautiful smile on her.  And she takes me by the hand and leads me to a different part of the throne room.  She takes me up to Jesus and introduces me to Him.  That is the part that told me what was happening was real.  It was not about seeing Deborah, that was so wonderful in itself and oh yes, I missed her so much, it was about Jesus.  This vision, this other worldliness was so much more than I could have ever imagined or come up with for an image to heal my grief and pain.  And it was not about me, it was about something greater, Jesus, God Himself.

I can now think of those shepherds guarding their flocks and having the night invaded by heavenly beings, angelic hosts, proclaiming there is so much more.  I can picture John on Patmos at a ripe old age, at the end of a human existence, one who has seen and witnessed so much that is beyond comprehension.  He witnessed life before Christ, before Jesus came as a babe born in a manger, having witnessed the life of Christ and the death of the Savior.  John, who had witnessed and had seen all the pieces fit together who was now exiled and alone on this rock in the middle of the ocean, a man waiting to die and to go home.

So John is there and God gives him more.  “And I saw….” is such power, power you and I cannot question or call to account.  John saw that there is more than can be seen by us, by rational people and that it is for us to see for ourselves. John goes on and tells us more of his vision and yet just a chapter later in the Book of Revelation, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, he finishes and simply says, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”  Such completeness can only come in such simplicity, Amen, Come, Lord Jesus.

Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Thor, and all the other phony worlds we make believe are not just fiction, they are such a weak and far cry from reality that it is unreal.  When Jesus comes back we shall know the greater.  We shall see and know that we are so much less while at the same time being of so much more worth that anything we can dream of and conceive of.  We are God’s chosen, His holy people, called by God Himself to know Him, to walk with Him, in perfect love.

My prayer is that I might love with as much of His love as is possible for this frail, fragile human form.  My prayer and heart’s desire is that I might share some of the knowledge that He is, He was, and He will be to come.  He is here now, He lives in me and I pray you seek Him to know Him yourself, personally.  He is there, and He beckons you, even you to so much more.  Amen, come Lord Jesus.

Faith is…..Again

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5UR_Y3yOF8

Before I begin the attached YouTube song is called “Out of the Blue” by Don Francisco and is found on his Grace on Grace CD.  I own the CD but this is not my YouTube upload and I have not secured official permission to post the song.  If you like it please go and buy his music for a very rich blessing.  The song is saying that God comes into our lives and shatters life as we know it and brings in His life.

I like how God speaks.  He not only displays a mastery of language but also that of the fine art of communicating, that is getting across the point He wants to make.  Further, God has a very rich sense of humor.  You gotta love it!

Consider Numbers, chapter 22.  Again, I leave you to read the story and to read the full context, not just pick and choose.  At the start of the chapter the king, Balak, was trying to get Balaam to come to him to help keep from being wiped out by the Israelites.  This had been going on for a while when God finally released Balaam to go, but to only speak the word God told Balaam to speak.  So the next morning Balaam gets on his brand new, circa 580 (or so) B.C. donkey which came complete with leather upholstery and takes off.  Now, God was not happy with Balaam’s attitude and put an angel with a big sword in the middle of the road to deal with things.  Note that the angel had a big sword.  Balaam never noticed but his donkey did and they went round and round a few times about going on until the donkey had had it and just lay down refusing to go any more.  So Balaam smites (don’t you love King james English, smite) the donkey and God really lets loose with the art of communicating.  He gives the donkey a voice.

“Hey dude, what for are you beating me?  The donkey continues to discuss this matter with Balaam with it being a two way conversation.  Personally, I think I would have stopped with the first words out of the donkey’s mouth in bewilderment.  Balaam, nah, he just kept on arguing with a donkey.  There is a sign in a BBQ place I eat at that reads never get in an argument with a fool, bystanders might not be able to tell the difference.

My point is not the story of Balaam but rather how God communicates with us.  The point is that God does communicate with us.  God knows us, knows our needs, wants, thoughts, rights and wrongs.  To the very depth of our core being He, God Himself knows you and me.  You aren’t going to hide anything from Him, you aren’t getting away with anything, so don’t even let the thought linger in your feeble little brain.

Bare your heart and soul to your God, the God of heaven and earth.  Let it all hang out and while God is the master of communication we are but rank amateurs at best.  Cry to the Lord and even further seek for others to cry to the Lord on your behalf.  God does not need elequance to listen and hear us.

So what am I saying (or trying to say) and what is the point of this post?  First my motivation in writing this evening.  Over this past weekend I got hit with the proverbial sledge hammer.  Now mind you this is not a bad thing as being hit with a sledge hammer is often times.  Rather it was facing some facts concerning a situation and the reality found therein.  I hurt and felt deep pain but I must confess that I knew that I was going to be hurt regarding this situation.  Knowing it is coming is supposed to help one handle things but nah, never happens, it still hurts even though none of the parties involved wanted anyone to get hurt.

So, being me I took this pain to heart and curled up like the baby I am and woe is me, nowhere left to go but wallow in self-pity.  Have you ever done that?  Probably.  This went on for a full day and a half (actually a little more) until God communicated with me.  Now we bring in the long preface to this post.  For a donkey God chose to use someone’s blog, as in my own.  I received a note from WordPress that a post of mine from June was liked and commented on.  Cool, let’s go see who it was and what they commented.  So I went and of course I had to reread the post to see what I had said.  Can you saw Hee Haw here?  It’s donkey speaking time!

The post is titled “Faith Is.”  Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  I posted and talked about faith but deeper than that I talked about Jesus Christ.  That is what I have to post about and talk about.  He is my all in all, Jesus is my life and my confession.

Here I am wallowing in my self-pity, woe is me.  It took God to use my own words to remind me that I am a person of faith and my faith is that there is substance greater than anything, repeat anything, that may try and rob me of the life I have in Christ Jesus.  My faith is evidence that He is greater, that God Himself is working in my life for His good pleasure to accomplish greater things in life that I could ever dream of.

People who read these words, do you hear what I am saying about you?  You are loved by God, the most high God of the Universe.  More importantly He is as wrapped up with loving you as much as William and Kate of England are with the new royal baby.  You, you are loved and cared for beyond your wildest imagination.  Sledge hammers may come but your father in heaven is there for you.  My you be blessed with His presence in your life.

Yes, I know you hurt

Yes, I know you are in pain and that you hurt. It’s not okay, it doesn’t feel good. But I will weep with you and stand by you. You have to understand that the reason you are in pain and hurt is because you are human. Further, because you are human you will suffer pain and hurt. It comes with being human.

Deborah, my wife, died in 2009 from cancer, the Big C. we were married 37 years and she was the love of my life. I spent 2 full years in very deep grief and even now I miss her and I still cry at times. My sister contacted me today to tell me that today was the day our father died 19 years ago. Both of my sisters still hold our parents close in their hearts; they still hurt.

When I looked at the news and saw about the bombing in Boston I wept and I cannot give a specific reason why, the news just made me weep. I learned of some very dear people in our church whose daughter is going to give birth this month to a girl, who is already named. When the child is born she will go from the delivery room into open heart surgery to repair things that aren’t right. Open heart surgery is not minor and when it has to be performed on a really new, newborn infant it is very major and serious. More tears, more pain, more hurt.

On any given day open your newspaper and there is a section devoted to pain and hurt. It is called the obituary, I have been through that hurt, haven’t you. Go to the legal pages where they print all the legal notices of every kind. There you find divorces. God, the pain, please help! Visit any or every hospital or go to a military base where a unit is shipping out for a tour overseas. Those aren’t tears of joy, trust me. Pain, hurt, suffering of all kinds is going on. Natural disasters, man-made accidents (the town of West, Texas, is totally in shock and pain), senseless crimes, all of these things happen in life and cause pain, hurt and suffering.

Are you down enough yet to look for some perspective? What does it mean and why does it affect us so much? This is one of man’s great quests for understanding. Well, you have come to the right place looking for answers and I will make it simple and easy. I don’t know, I don’t have a clue and I could just say go look someplace else. But I won’t because I started this post so I better have a pretty good reason for putting you through this.

Let’s talk about Jesus and His take on hurt and suffering. I want to leave out Good Friday which is pain, hurt and suffering beyond anything humans can or should have to endure. Yes, it is pivotal to Jesus and all that He did but I want to see and show you how much He loves you and me, where He talked about our suffering.

Read John, chapter 11. Go ahead and read all of it to see your family there, two sisters and a brother. I know from personal experience Lazarus never got to choose what TV show was watched because the two sisters would gang up and out vote him. That meant no Gunsmoke or Bonanza. But the sisters loved their brother, loved him a whole lot. They also loved Jesus. Lazarus gets sick, really sick, so the sisters send for Dr. Jesus. If only He could come in time Jesus will heal Lazarus, we believe, we know that Jesus can and will. But Jesus didn’t come in time, the miracle Mary and Martha so desperately believed would happen didn’t. Their brother, the one they loved dearly, Lazarus, died. Stone cold dead as dead can be. Wrapped him up they did, and they laid Lazarus in a tomb knowing he would rot away and return to the dust from whence he came. And Mary and Martha and all the family and friends suffered great pain and hurt. Modern man likes pretty titles so let’s call it this wonderful name, grief. Pain, suffer and hurt is all you need to know to understand grief.

The story in John 11 is very clear that Jesus knew all about Lazarus being sick and Jesus knew that if He didn’t go up there quickly Lazarus would die. Jesus also knew the end of the story, He knew the greater plan that would speak volumes to all mankind. So Jesus waited a couple of days to make sure that when He did arrive Lazarus would be really good and dead, and there would be a stench. Jesus knew that Lazarus would rise up and come forth from the tomb alive and returned to his loved ones. Oh the great joy of that moment. Jesus knew all of this in advance, part of the plan for you and for me.

Now, when Jesus hadn’t even gotten all the way to the village Martha comes out to meet Him and Mary also rises up and comes out also. Now the moment! Jesus saw Mary and all the Jews weeping, weeping out of their love for Lazarus, tears pouring out, faces red and flush, clothes in a dishevel, torn up. Jesus saw all of the pain, hurt and suffering these people were going through, and that, my friends, is what moved Jesus. Jesus wept, John, chapter 11, verse 35. He did not weep for Lazarus, Jesus wept because His friends were in pain and were hurting. Jesus not only wept but Jesus hurt and He hurt with the hurt you experience when you lose a loved one, when you suffer a physical injury or pain. He suffered and hurt just like you.

It is because we are human. Let me say it again, the reason you are in pain and hurt is because you are human. Further, because you are human you will suffer pain and hurt. It comes with being human. But know that God Himself is not immune to the same feelings and because Jesus Himself felt and knew such pain and suffering and just plain old hurt He can bear witness with us.

Jesus walks with us, lives with us. He comes alongside us when it is the worst not to cure us but to be with us to tell us that one day all those we love will arise and come forth from the tomb. Greater still, Jesus Himself went into the tomb, our tomb, before us, to show us that one day we shall rise.

I would that I could hold and comfort all that read this who have been down that road, but I can’t. I can say that Jesus is that and He weeps when you weep. Blessings in Jesus name.