Tag Archives: Pain

Escapist or Expectant?

As I was lying in bed this morning, shivering in the cold – the house is like a dadgum freezer – I proceeded to do an mental inventory. No, it wasn’t an inventory of all the things that need to be organized and packed for our upcoming move in a few days. I wasn’t even thinking about all the bills that need to be paid with money we don’t have (that’s a growing list too depressing to think about). Actually, it was a mental inventory of pain. 

It’s the last day of 2016 – this is the last post of the year – and with every day that passes I’m acquiring a new pain. As I lay there covered up, not wanting to get out of bed, I came to the realization that there was not one part of my body that didn’t hurt – literally. 

I’m not yet fifty years old, but I hurt from head to toe. Seriously, I’m looking forward to that “new body” the Bible says I’ll have one day. Maybe that is why I’m not as critical as I used to be of certain hymnals that have more songs about heaven than other, more weighty themes. Maybe it’s because I wake up and go to sleep with pain that I look forward heaven a little more than my younger, healthier theologians. 

One of the criticisms leveled at Christians is that we are “escapists” (i.e., those who care more about escaping this world than saving it). Sometimes we are accused of being so “heavenly-minded” that we’re no earthly good, all because we believe there’s a place to go after the cares of this life are over. Well, I’ve got news for everybody: I’m ready to go!!

No, I don’t want to die. No, I don’t want to give up on reaching the lost in order to selfishly escape to paradise. However, with each new day that passes by…with every New Year’s celebration that comes and goes…I’m that much closer to my faith becoming sight. …And no more pain. 

No, I don’t want to escape, but my expectations are pretty high. I’m looking forward to what God has in store for those who love Him… and believe it or not, that includes 2017. 

Happy New Year, my friends! 

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Filed under current events, Future, the future

In Every Thing…

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give Thanks

With regards to thanks, you have to give it for it to exist; being thankful is not the same thing as giving thanks. You can be thankful in your heart all day long, but you can easily offend someone by not saying “Thank you” at the appropriate time.

Thanks can be given in many different ways, but the fact is that it must be expressed in some way, not just felt. Say it with words, express it with a card, show it with a gift, or something. The whole concept of “giving” means it leaves you and goes somewhere else.

Every Thing

Note that it’s “every thing,” not everything. It may seem like an insignificant point, but it’s every little thing in particular – every situation, every circumstance, every joy, every pain – not an all-encompassing kind of thing we’re talking about.

You see, it’s easy for us to express a generic “Thank you, Lord, for everything,” but it’s much harder to be specific, especially when things are not going so great. Getting specific with our giving of thanks takes time, points out where we are not so grateful, and forces us to take stock of what we really have.

“In” 

We can focus on being thankful FOR every thing another time, but for now pay attention to that one little word “in.” It’s a simple preposition, nothing more. All it does is point out where you are. And it is “in” every thing that we are told to give thanks.

Are you going through a time of confusion? Give thanks to God for the wisdom and guidance He promises to those who ask!

Are you in pain? No, you don’t have to be thankful for the pain, per se, but certainly give thanks while you are IN pain. Thank God for His mercy and grace. Praise the Lord for His promise to never leave you or forsake you. Thank God for Jesus coming to this earth to suffer so that you could have a High Priest who knows how you feel. Thank Him for the reminder that one day there will be no more pain!

Are in a scary situation? Praise God and thank Jesus for being in your boat! Just think, you could be out on life’s troubled sea all alone, tossed by the waves, but you’re not! If the Master of the wind is the Captain of your vessel, you may get battered by the tempest, but you’ll never sink!  Give thanks for being able to witness the Voice of God speak peace IN your storm.

Remember, giving thanks IN every thing is the will of God IN Christ concerning YOU! Be obedient; give some thanks.

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Filed under Faith, Thanksgiving, worship

Prayer for My Wife

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24

It is a good day, and it doesn’t matter what is going on – God made this day! And, for that matter, He makes every day, and what He makes is good.

How, then, can one reconcile the truth of Psalm 118:24 with the fact that my wife is in the hospital and doctors can’t figure out what is wrong with her? God is Sovereign, Holy, and by nature He is Good; therefore, I will trust Him.

photo (28)Nevertheless, I would ask that you intercede for my wife, Valerie, with prayer. Lift her up before the throne of God. Petition our Father for her healing, if it be within His will. Pray that God enlighten the doctors’ understanding so that that they may be able to diagnose her pain. But whatever the case, make sure you pray that through all our struggles and unanswered questions Jesus Christ receives the glory!

Remember, because many within the hospital community never go to church, sometimes God has to put the church in the hospital.

Thank you!

Update: Dear friends and subscribers, your prayers and encouragement have meant a lot. Thank you so much for your caring kindness. 

Valerie was discharged from the hospital this evening (2/22) with instructions to follow up with her regular doctor and a cardiologist. Unfortunately, while at the hospital, they were unable to find the reason for her pain. What also became obvious was her inability to stay awake for any length of time, actually falling asleep after only 30 seconds on the telephone (she does take meds to stay awake, but without them she is useless – she wasn’t able to take them while in the hospital – and they can’t determine the cause).

Valerie is no longer in pain (it was severe) except when she tries to lie down – when she does she suffers from crushing pain and the inability to breath. With some fluid around her heart, one would think there are heart problems. However, multiple tests were done and the doctors concluded her heart was in good condition and there had been no heart attack, no blockages, or anything. So, what the heck could it be???

Un-diagnosed illnesses can cause a strain on family and relationships, not to mention work and family routines. The stress has a tendency to stretch our abilities to cope. What we need more than anything right now is prayer for our spiritual hearts – especially mine – that we will remain compassionate, caring, and hopeful, not cynical or accusatory. Frankly, when we’re tired and worn is when the Devil tries to flank us, to cut us off from our Supply. That’s why we need you interceding for us.

So, right now Valerie is in good spirits and not in much pain, unless she tries to lie down. Please pray that future visits to specialists will provide answers. In the meantime we will do our best, in God’s strength, to give thanks in all things, for He is worth of our praise.

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Filed under Apologetics, Defining Marriage, Marriage, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, worship

How Am I Doing?

In a recent thread of comments on another site, the blog’s author ask me, “How are you doing?

My immediate inclination was to respond with one of the typical answers we usually give when somebody asks, “How are you doing?” I almost typed my grammatically-pleasing favorite, “I am doing well, thank you.” If I had been in the mood to be more colorful I could have answered with:

  • “Fine as frog hair!”
  • “Better than I deserve.”
  • “Nothing to complain about. If I did, it wouldn’t matter.”
  • “Unbelievable!” (which can be applied either way)
  • “As good as if God said it was so.” (I just made that one up)

But, when Anna (from Anna’s One Life) asked how I was doing, I replied with the following comment:

How am I doing? I have begun to have a hard time answering that nowadays. I mean, I could share my complaints, my worries, my fears, my struggles, and all of that, but how do they compare with what Christians are facing in Iraq and Pakistan? So, all things considered, I am doing stinking great! I mean, seriously, I’ve got bills that need to be paid, but the power is still on, the water is running, and no one has tried to shoot me or bomb my church while I was preaching. Life is good. I’m blessed more than I deserve.

Other than that, I hate that I can’t make myself complete a stupid self-imposed reading list! Why does life have to get in the way of reading? Can you answer that?

Seriously, God has been more than good to my family and me. If I complained it would be petty. My Savior deserves the praise.

And that’s about how I feel today.

I have my share of difficulties, just like anyone else. Looked at in their localized context, you might feel sorry for me. On the other hand, if my struggles were placed along side the trials of others, a tit-for-tat comparison might reveal that I literally have nothing about which to complain – NOTHING!

We should never belittle the little things; one person’s inconsequential inconvenience may be another person’s earth-shattering tragedy. However, “how we are doing” will really depend on how much of the “yoke” we’re still trying to pull on our own.

[Jesus said], come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

So, whether or not I am doing “fine,” or not, God be praised! He has blessed me with life, the love of family, a ministry, and the hope of heaven through faith in Jesus Christ.

How am I doing? Counting it all joy (James 1:2)!

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Faith, Life Lessons

Don’t Waste Your Tears

Tearful Verses

If you ever want to a word study through Scripture that will break your heart, do a word study on tears. Just a quick glance will reveal painful examples such as the following:

  • My friends scorn me: [but] mine eye poureth out [tears] unto God. – Job 16:20
  • I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. – Psalm 6:6
  • Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! – Jeremiah 9:1
  • And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. – Mark 9:24
  • Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. – Acts 20:31

But just as there are heartbreaking verses, so are there ones that offer hope for the hurting, hope for the ones who cry.

  • Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: [are they] not in thy book? – Psalm 56:8
  • For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, [and] my feet from falling. – Psalm 116:8
  • They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. – Psalm 126:5
  • And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Revelation 21:4

Don’t Waste Them

This evening I met with a young couple for pre-marital counseling. During the two hours that we sat and talked, I took the opportunity to share with them some some painful experiences from my past. I thought it would be helpful for them to hear from someone who knew what consequences felt like, what it was like to shed tears.

wedding picture fourYou see, even though my wife and I have been married for over 20 years, we have had our share of pain; we’ve shed our bottles full of tears. And precisely because of those times, I was able to look into that young couple’s eyes and say with all authority, “Do it God’s way! It’s worth it!”

King David knew what it was like to experience God’s chastisement, but he also knew something good would come from it. He said, “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Part of that joy, I believe, is when we see the fruit of yielding ourselves to the Father and seeing Him use our tears to water the seeds of wisdom we sow into others.

Tears are inevitable; everyone will shed them. The tragedy is when no lesson is learned, God is not trusted, and what could have been turned into joy sours the pillow of hopelessness.

Without God, tears are spilt; with God, no tear is wasted.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, God, Life Lessons, ministry

Suicide? Let’s Talk.

“God moment.” 

This morning, before I started working on a post which I had originally intended to write, I did the usual glance-over of posts on blogs I follow. (By the way, when you’re away from the computer for a few days, it’s amazing how many blog posts can be written by other people!) That’s when I came across a post on Conform to Christ, “What does the Bible say about Suicide?

Once I read the above post, I could not help but to lend some kind of response. The article did a decent job of presenting a biblical perspective on the subject, but I felt it needed some additional perspective. So, I wrote my comment, submitted it, then planned to get back to writing a post on my own blog. That’s when I re-read my comment, thought about it, and felt the overwhelming need to re-share my comment here.

I feel this is a “God moment.” Somebody needs to read this.

My Perspective

I am very well acquainted with the issue of suicide – very well acquainted. As a matter of fact, I have had a long history of dealing with the temptation, nearly following through [with a 12 gauge] back in my teen years. Now, even as a pastor, the thoughts still come, they still haunt. Unfortunately, once a person has crossed a certain line, things are never the same.

Nevertheless, I know that I am still here for multiple reasons, the most important of which is the glory of God. But even though I know “the words,” … suicidal thoughts can attack when I least expect them, and especially when I do. But I have come to understand that suicide is a LIE: it will not, it cannot, fulfill its promises. No matter the circumstances, suicide will not accomplish its goals. At most it may get others’ attention, but it robs one of the opportunity to see the problem fixed…to see what God could have done.

For the most part, I believe suicide is an attempt by the hurting to get others to notice, to empathize. But what Satan enjoys doing is blinding us to two very important facts:

  1. We are NOT alone in our pain.
  2. God NEVER wastes a tear.

The One who literally laid His life down so that we could live walks with us, just like Daniel’s friends in the Babylonian furnace. And no matter the pain, no matter the situation, no matter the shame, there is someone else out there who needs us to shoulder up to them and say, “I understand.”

 Seek Help

Coming from someone who has walked down the suicidal road for 30+ years, never try to deal with this on your own. Fight the temptation to put a wall between yourself and others. If you are struggling, God already has someone prepared to be a shoulder to lean on. Seek help!

You may even be a Christian and find yourself thinking, “How does Jesus understand what I’m going through? He never sinned!” I used to think that, too! And if not for my dad knocking on my bedroom door to see how I was doing, I might have pulled the trigger on that shotgun…all because I though God didn’t understand.

But here’s the thing: Jesus not only bore your sin on the cross, He bore your shame, too! As a matter of fact, the Bible even says that He who knew no sin, “became sin” for us (2 Corinthians 5:21)! In other words, if guilt is behind what you feel right now, and you think nobody could understand or has walked in your shoes – Jesus understands!

Your sin is what He took to the cross, and it was the shame of THAT sin He felt as He hung there – instead of you! …FOR you!

If you are feeling suicidal, talk to somebody about it. Find a good, Christian counselor who isn’t legalistic and judgmental, but understands God’s grace and mercy. In other words, if you are feeling suicidal, I’m sure there’s someone available who’s not only sympathetic, but knows the “Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

Your life is priceless because of Who was paid for it; don’t throw it away.

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Filed under Christian Living, Life/Death, self-worth, Struggles and Trials

I’ve Been Sick

It may be news to you, but I have been a little under the weather. To put it another way, I have been sick. But who hasn’t, right?

It can get depressing.

However, I have also been experiencing some unexplained pain in my chest. After a couple of trips to the E.R. and a few visits to doctors, I am still no closer to a diagnosis. All I know is that nothing shows up as a heart attack.

I didn’t want to tell many people, though. The last thing I wanted was worried people calling me all day and night asking how I felt. I feel OK, other than that nagging little pain.

Don’t Pray?

It was only a couple of years ago that I had a cancer scare. I was told that a mass in my chest might be a tumor. When people began finding out about the potential diagnosis, I had to say something. I said, “Don’t you dare pray that I be healed! If you pray anything, pray that God gets the glory through whatever He is leading me through.”The same message holds true this time.

Now, if you are an atheist like Andrew Marburger (my most prolific antagonist), then withholding your prayers for my healing shouldn’t be a problem. But if you are a Christ-follower, then you may be tempted to pray that God heal me and take away my pain. I wouldn’t blame you, for I believe that God is fully capable of doing just that. However, what I desire most is to be full of the Holy Spirit and yielded to the will of my Savior.

Just think, it might be His will for me to take the love of Christ to a nurse who is searching for hope. Maybe God wants me to look into the eyes of a surgeon and say, “I know in Whom I have believed?” You see, sometimes, when those in the hospital won’t go to church, the Lord puts the Church in the hospital.

It Is Well

140 years ago, in 1873, Horatio G. Spafford lost his four daughters to the icy Atlantic when a ship they and his wife were on sank in only 12 minutes. Only a short time before he had lost his only son, a 4-year old, to illness. Then he lost most all his wealth to the Chicago fire. It is hard to imagine the grief he must have been going through.

But it was during his mourning, while sailing to meet his grieving wife who survived the sinking, that Spafford looked over the rails into the waves where his daughters had drowned and wrote the following words…

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

If you want to pray for me, then by all means, pray! Just let it be, “SOLI DEO GLORIA!” (To God alone be the glory!).

It is well with my soul.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Struggles and Trials

Getting Old and Scaring Wives

Pains of Aging

If there is one thing in life that stinks, it’s getting old. On the other hand, if there is one thing in life that is sweeter than honey, it’s getting old (i.e., not dying).

There are a lot of pains and aches associated with aging. One of those pains is the pain in the rear that comes with having to go to the ER every time I feel pain in my chest. I get so tired of all the questions, needles, sticky things that painfully remove hair from my chest (I am a manly man, you know), and freezing while waiting for a doctor to tell me I’m not having a heart attack – he thinks.

But there are other pains, too. There’s the pain of hearing your youngest daughter ask, “could this kill you?” There’s the pain of having to hug your girls as you leave for the emergency room, knowing, if this is it, they will be suffering unimaginable pain, but you won’t be there to help. There’s the pain of looking into your wife’s eyes, wondering how she will cope if you don’t make it through the next few hours.

I went through all of this, today.

Perks of Aging

But, there are some perks that come along with aging, too! One is being able to walk on a college campus wearing a sweater vest and have all the college girls (and guys, but not as many) open the door for you (because they think their grade may depend on it). It’s fun. I say, “Have you got your presentation ready for tomorrow?” Ha! Such fun!

Ultimately, getting older means the train is getting closer to the station. I have my bags packed, and my ticket punched. The longer I stand still and listen, the more I think I can feel the vibration on the tracks. It won’t be much longer. I will finally get to go to that land where I will run faster and faster, farther in, and farther up.

I just pray that my train is not too far apart from my wife’s train. She’s scared I will leave too soon. Maybe, if we wait long enough, we can ride in the same dining car together. I’d love to see her eyes when we see for the first time the place we are going. The light will reflect beautifully off of her grey hair.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Faith, Life Lessons, the future