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Monday, February 18, 2013

What is Going On?

I have memories of good times – times when goodness seemed to be a given; when safety could be felt; when innocence was a part of growing up; and when Biblical values were not foreign.

Today we take into stride what in the recent past would not have been in even our worst nightmares.

To have Parkinson's Disease is to experience this same type of thing. We have memories of life without the disease; when we were not threatened with this dreadfull malady; when we didn't entertain the slightest fear that it would ever descend upon us; when we seemed to have control of where we went and how we got there; and when our ideas of who God really is were not challenged.

But with the reality of this disease in our bodies come questions for which we seem to have no answers. Life doesn't make sense to us in light of our old convictions. As our strength is drained from our bodies, our spirit and soul are forced to develop and grow stronger as we are faced with difficult questions like, “How can a good God allow the evils we now deal with in this world?” “Why do the innocent suffer unjustly?” “Who IS the God of the Bible and is He all powerful?” “Does He care that we suffer?” “Is there hope of restoration?”

The world faces these same questions with us (for different reasons). We are frightened and at a loss to explain the things going on around us and getting nearer. Last week a meteor entered earth's atmosphere and exploded over Russia, leaving 1,200 people injured and buildings damaged. The Northeast portion of the US was devastated by the hurricane of the century – Hurricane Sandy (even though hurricane season had ended and given the fact that hurricanes usually do not hit that far north). Then only months later, that same area was hit with blizzards leaving record snowfalls of 3-4 feet paralyzing transportation, contributing to more power outages, and making it impossible to get to work. Already soaring gas prices and rising food prices come into play.

We were horrified at senseless shootings like that of Gabrielle Giffords and the school children in Connecticut. People are still rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina and the huge earthquake in Haiti. What is going On???

There is no denying that SOMETHING is at work here. Whatever answers you may be coming up with, that much is evident.

I do believe that God is all powerful and that He DOES care that we are suffering. Why is the world in such a state and getting worse then? Why does the disease of the world progress just as our Parkinson's Disease progresses?

Could it be that there is more at stake than what we can see? Could it be that we have lost our way and these are warning signs? Is this disease reversible or can we halt it's forward march?

I encourage you all to ask these questions and seek the answers. We still have time, but maybe not much.

I won't give you the answers I have found. You must ask and seek for yourself. But I will say this: I think we are running out of time so don't waste it on what is not important. Ask God, “What is going on?”, then read His Word and search for clues to the deeper meaning. Don't wait. Ask now.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

From Coal to Light

Today is my birthday.  In the scheme of things, I am 59 years closer to heaven!  On reflection there are many things I would choose to have been different than they were.  Parkinson's Disease for instance.  I would wipe that dark spot right off of my "timeline".  But if I did that, I wouldn't know the things that I know.  I wouldn't know God's comfort in the midst of this disease's darkness and pain.  I would not have the authority to speak of riding out the darkest of nights by faith in the Son of God.  I would not be able to have empathy or sympathize with the dark reality of this disease in your life.  My encouragement to you to endure until the better day comes would be empty words untried and not tested. 
I have been  and do daily walk through the fire that you are walking through.  The flames are all ingulfing - there is no doubt.  The pain of it is all but unbearable at times.  Parts of us are being burned away.  We are consumed as the flames do their damage. 
I would have doused this fire and denied its power over me if I could have.  Wouldn't we all?  But God in His strange mercy let the fire burn as I was turned from coal into something useful. You see, coal can be used to produce electricity.  Electricity runs machines and heats houses.  It lights our homes.  There are countless advantages and many blessings that come from electricity.  But it takes coal which must be crushed and pulverized.  The finer the powder it is crushed into the more efficiently it will burn. 
Suffering with disease is like being crushed into fine powder and scorched by unbearable heat.  We would resist if we could.
I am reminded of the verse that says, "Bind with cords the sacrifice to the horns of the altar."  (Psalm 118:27)  In my own case, I would have crawled off of this altar had I not been securely fastened down upon it.  Even though we do not choose to suffer in the valley of Parkinson's Disease, we must choose to trust Him.  Though we do not see any good that may come, we must believe that He will bring light out of our darkness.

"the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."   Isaiah 9:2   

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Pound of Flesh

Whenever I sin against you, I have done something that can never be taken back or undone. I have caused pain. And whether or not I understood exactly, how much pain it would cause or how deep a wounding it would be – and whether or not I intended to cause you pain or harm – it's still a sin against you. I am responsible for harming you.

That day on Golgotha did the Jews and Romans fully understand that they were murdering the Son of God? Did they set out that day to kill God's Son? Even in the midst of the crucifixion did they fully understand what they were doing? No, I think not. But they became guilty of that crime nevertheless. Jesus would carry the scars into eternity.

No matter what their intent or how much they understood they were still guilty of murder. They were still responsible for the torture and the crucifixion of God's Son. Nothing anyone could do would ever change this.

Cain could never do anything to bring Able back from the dead. It didn't matter if he was sorry for what he did or not. He would forever be guilty of murdering his brother and Able would remain dead.

Adam and Eve would be guilty of disobeying God and would suffer the consequences of their sin until the end of their days. Did it matter that they didn't understand that now all men would suffer death because of what they did? Did it matter that this was not their desire or intent? They had to suffer the consequence and pain of their sin. They could not remain in the Garden of Eden. Others had to bear the pain of their sin.

Do you think that Jesus had to suffer any less because Judas' betrayel was not meant to wound Him as much as it was done to advance Judas? He was distraught to the point of suicide over what his actions had caused, but that did not make him less guilty. Jesus suffered horribly because of Judas' sin against Him.

The Bible is filled with examples of this. David sinned against Uriah who unjustly endured the consequences of it. Paul was beaten more than once because he preached the gospel and tried to impart its power to helpless hopeless men. Don't think that your sin will go unnoticed or that no one will be hurt because of it. Don't think that you are the less guilty because you did not mean for another to get hurt. And don't try and excuse yourself from the guilt of the crime or make it less offensive because you meant no harm.

A law broken is exactly that. It is either broken or it is not. What's wrong must be made right. But we are powerless to do that. Can Cain bring Able back to life? Can Adam undo his disobedience? Can he erase the heartbreak he caused God when he disobeyed, lied to and hid from Him? Could David bring his own child back to life? Could he remove the ache from Bathsheba's empty arms? No. The pain of sin is bitter.

God introduced a new option – a new way to deal with sin. It's called FORGIVENESS. It does not take away the pain of a ruined reputation or a life destroyed. It does not erase wrongdoing. It does not make the wound smaller. But it pays the price of our own wickedness – yours and mine. It removes the guilt of our sin. It satisfies JUSTICE. It balances the books and pays our debt. It does not take the pain away that sin causes. It is more powerful than that. It makes possible GOOD. It triumphs over death. It releases the guilty from their punishment. It pays our debt. It sets us free from our sin. because Jesus PAID.

It does not remove the consequence of pain. My sorrow over the betrayel of someone against me does not just disappear. But the sin itself was charged to Jesus' account and taken from the sinner's account. That pound of flesh I wanted was given alright – just not by the sinner. Jesus gave it. I now must release my desire for revenge. I got my pound of flesh – from the Son of God. If I insist on revenge after that, I am saying Jesus didn't pay for the world's sin and He didn't satisfy the penalty for sin. I'm calling God a liar.

The sinner now has a choice:

1)try to pay for his sins and make them right himself.


2)accept Jesus's payment on our behalf for his sin.

If I choose the first option, I will remain in debtor's prison until every bit of repayment is made. If I choose option two I humbly accept God's gift of payment on my behalf – I let go of the demand for you to “make it up” to me, and I love in the midst of the pain you caused me, because that's what HE did for ME! Why else do you think Jesus was a man of sorrows?

Let go of the sin I sinned against you. I must let go of the sin you sinned against me. We got that pound of flesh we wanted – when whips tore His flesh; when the words broke His heart; when His clothes were taken and He hung naked upon the cross; when the nails were pounded into His wrists, and when He saw the Father's back.

His pound of flesh.... It is enough. It is more than enough.

FATHER, forgive me. I knew not what I did....

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Voice of the Dove

The dove has wakened! Her sweet call begins this morning as she wakes to a new day. I love her voice. God has made her song different from all others. It is He that directs her heart. To some there is no distinction – between her call and that of another, but to God – who knows her – and who gives her voice – she sings a beautiful tribute to His wonder – unique – as only she can give in praise to Him from her spot in the yard. The stunning beauty of this new day is received by her and proclaimed in the wonder of her language to me and the world! Though you can't hear her – she is powerful to move you – to set your heart ablaze with praise to her Maker – because I have told you in my own way how she moves me.

You and I are like the dove. We are moved by Creation and filled with our own praises to Him from our own vantage point in the garden where He has put us. Creation is there for all of us to see. Sing with us – the dove and I – from your own spot in the garden – whether that be in joy or in sorrow. Harmonize with us! Resonate with the Holy Spirit! Sing out to the world and give witness to His greatness and love from wherever you are – a mournful song or a song of joy – both breathtaking to our Maker – both jewels to be laid at His feet. It is proof of our faith in His goodness whether our garden is sickness or health. Sing with us – the dove and I.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Like a Dove Over a Flood of Death and Deep Waters

Well, I see that the world has survived yet into another day, and I am here to see it, by the will of God.  I want to make use of this day and advance His kingdom.  I want what I do, and say and think today  to serve only to glorify Him.

I want to grace the world around me like the dove whose gentle, plaintive cry I am hearing at this moment.  I doubt whether anyone besides myself can hear her.  But her voice and her expression will be passed on from me to you - my readers - who may then pass the message on to others.  God will give it wings as it pleases Him.

Heavenly Father, plant your message in my heart this morning - then give it wings to go where You will that it goes.  May it find a home in the hearts of all You have chosen, like the dove which Noah set free from the ark when the rain had stopped (Genesis 8:11).  She did not return void of the new life but brought Him a freshly picked olive leaf.  Eventually she did not come back at all, but established a new life in this world.

Amidst the flood of immorality, disease and ungodliness, let my voice go out as a dove over the murky waters of death, bringing life to the hearts you have prepared.