Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dream of My Dream

I hold my dream up to you, in the palm of my hand
I place it on a pedestal
light a candle
and my dream is a shadow cast on the wall by flickering light
I lift up my dream like an ice cream cone in my hand
I take a lick, a bite, and its taste is cold and sweet to my mouth
a delight
I put a sail to my dream
place it in a wooded creek and release it
I watch it bob and swirl with the currents
as it meanders to the sea
with faith I believe, it will come back to me
I believe… it will come back to me
the candle is snuffed out
the cone has fallen
it lies smashed on the ground
in the darkness I wonder if I will ever see
my dream again
I was going to love people
I was going to help them
my heart was going to beat with love and compassion
freedom was going to be my burning passion
now I dream of my dream
somewhere out there
floating on the sea
and I dream that my dream will someday come back to me

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Fellowship of Suffering

“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…”
Philippians 1:29

Suffering is not fun.  Yet, there is no doubt, in God’s word, that God often allows us to suffer.  He permits it.  In fact, He even uses suffering as part of His plan for our lives. 

How about this thought:  God has graced you, yes, even favored you, to suffer for His sake.  There is a special grace on your life to suffer.  According to my Bible note the word “granted”, used in Philippians 1:29, comes from a Greek word that means “To do a favor, show kindness unconditionally, give freely, grant forgiveness, forgive freely.  The word is from the same root for charis, ‘grace.’”

In other words, where God has allowed you to suffer, He is using it for a greater glory in your life than the glory He would receive from simply instantly fixing your problem. 

The word suffer, again from my Bible notes, comes from the Greek, pascho (“Compare ‘passion,’ ‘passive,’ ‘pathos.’”)  Suffer means to “Be acted upon in a certain way, to experience ill-treatment, roughness, violence, or outrage…to undergo evils from without.  Pascho asks the painful question, ‘What is happening to me?’” 

What is happening to me?  That simple phrase seems likely the cry of the bewildered and beleaguered soul, who, under the weight and confusion of suffering, lifts a beseeching face to the sky and cries to God, earnestly and desperately, “Why is this happening to me?”  “Why does this hurt so bad?”

Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned and the greatest hope of our suffering is found in the suffering of Christ.  We refer to Jesus’ suffering as his passion.  In His deep and dreadful suffering we know God had a good purpose.  With reasons unclear to those around him, Jesus suffered and died and purchased our redemption. 

We need to find something good in our suffering.  One of the greatest goods I have found is the unique ability of suffering to draw me nearer to the heart of God.  The Apostle Paul prayed, “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings…” (Philippians 3:10)  

*Bible notes from the New Spirit Filled Life Bible

Friday, September 7, 2012

Beyond Measure

“…we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.  Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us…”
II Corinthians 1:8-10

There is a suffering according to God’s will (I Peter 4:19).  There may be a suffering God has called you to that is not pleasant, but works for a good purpose in your life.  Then there’s a suffering that’s not God’s will.  And there’s a suffering we all share simply as part of the world we live in.  “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said (John 16:33) 

Suffering can draw us close to the heart of God.  Pressed up against the cross we find something good and sweet. 

Yes, there is deep and agonizing pain.  There is anguish of soul.  There is pain that seems to go on and on with no hope of remedy.  We may lift our heads and long for the day of His return.  We may yearn for the day when this will all be over. 

The Apostle Paul writes, “we were burdened beyond measure…we despaired even of life.” (vs. 8) 

We’ve despaired so greatly that we prayed to die.  We’ve questioned our own ability to carry on.  We’ve doubted our strength to endure.  We felt like perhaps it’s better to just throw in the towel.  Build a small home on a lake and just sit there all day and fritter life away.

In such anguish we could do nothing but trust God.  We cast ourselves upon His mercies and uttered deep cries of the heart.  Our eyes were a fountain of tears.  Our cries were the cries of deep soul agony.  We arose from kneeling by the sofa, walked to the bathroom, and blew gobs of snot into tissue, produced from all the weeping.

Yet, in our valley of despair there is a God who raises the dead.  There is indeed a glorious resurrection.  He delivered us.  He has delivered us in the past.  He will deliver us now.  And, He will deliver us again. 

No matter how bad the trial you are going through, there is one who has been there before, and He will see you through. 

Some of the translations for II Corinthians 1:8 are interesting:

we were pressed beyond measure” (21st Century KJV)

we were so utterly and unbearably weighed down and crushed that we despaired even of life” (Amplified)

We were weighed down with a load of suffering that was so far beyond our strength that we were afraid we might not survive.” (Common English Bible)

Our sufferings were so horrible and so unbearable that death seemed certain” (Contemporary English Version)

we were excessively pressed beyond [our] power” (Darby Translation)

We had great burdens there, which were greater than our own strength. We even gave up hope for life.” (Easy-to-Read Version)

we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength” (ESV Anglicised)

It was so extreme that it was beyond our ability to endure. We even wondered if we could go on living.” (GOD’S WORD Translation)

The burdens laid upon us were so great and so heavy” (Good News Translation)

we were completely overwhelmed” (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

in fact we told ourselves that this was the end” (J.B. Phillips)

we were burdened to an extraordinary degree” (Lexham English Bible)

we were burdened excessively beyond our power to cope” (Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament)

The load was so heavy we did not have the strength to keep going. At times we did not think we could live.” (New Life Version)

We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” (New Living Translation)

“we were weighed down exceedingly” (ASV)

And from The Message:

“It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing.” 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dealing with Loss

At some point in our lives we all have to deal with loss.  Someone we love will die.  The depth of our love for the person who died will be reflected in the depth of our sorrow at their loss. 

I remember, as a boy, the worship leader at our church passed away.  He was a young man, in his twenties, who died from complications from cancer.  I cried really hard at his funeral.  Though I didn’t know him well, I had admired him.  I recall his fiancĂ©, after the funeral, showing off her engagement ring.   

It doesn’t seem right for someone like him to die, so young. 

In November of 2007 my mother had a stroke.  She did not die, but she lost much of her ability to speak clearly.  She still can’t understand what we say when we speak.  I can’t have a conversation with her on the phone.  I can’t reach out to her for the wisdom and encouragement she’s given me all my life. 

On the surface, some of the losses we deal with may seem cruel and haphazard.  The universe can seem like an uncaring place.  God can seem so utterly silent.  The explanations and answers we pine for do not come.  Our earnest prayers seem to come up empty.  We may even question our faith in God.  How could God, who says He cares so much, seem to care so little?  How could He have allowed this to happen?    

We look at death and know something is not right about this.  This is not the way it was meant to be. 

Death creeps into so many aspects of our lives.  People we love pass away.  Dreams die.  Hopes are shattered.  Relationships are broken.  Expectations meet disappointment.  Sickness and disease affects, in some way, the entire human race.    

What we have to do, I believe, is view all things of this life in the light of eternity.  The Scripture says,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (II Corinthians 4:16-18)

As painful as life can be, I truly believe, when we get to heaven, the eternal glory we experience will make the deepest, darkest trial of life seem insignificant.  There God’s work of salvation will be complete. 

As real as this life is, there is a place more real than this.  I know that one day my mother, if never healed in this life, will be completely restored to a perfect state in heaven.  She will be as God created her to be.  The Scripture says, “…we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.” (II Cor. 4:14)

With no intent to minimize the pain you may be feeling today, I know the child you lost, you will see in heaven.  The young man lost tragically, smiles in the brightness of heaven’s radiant glory.  Every aborted baby runs freely in the fields of our Father.  The grandparent you cherished is now young and vibrant, healthy and whole in celestial splendor. 

I Corinthians 15:26 says, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  There is indeed a painful sting of death.  Until that last enemy is destroyed, we will all feel it.  But we have the promise from God that death will be “swallowed up in victory.” (I Cor. 15:54)  Yes, “…in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” (vs. 52-53)

“…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I Corinthians 15:57

Prayer Equals Peace

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...