When I was a kid, my Dad, who was born in 1919, would tell us tales of life going to school in a one-room schoolhouse and walking there 5 miles in a driving snowstorm, uphill both ways, and having to make a fire in the boiler to heat the classroom! Amazing stuff! Dad had great stories!Continue reading “Being Christian in the Age of Social Distancing”
It has been a very difficult week. Much harder than most. We have witnessed the absolute horrific tragedy of the church shootings in a tiny town deep in the heart of Texas. How in the world do we make sense of that? Dear people who left their homes as they usually have done to attend church completely unaware what the next hour would bring. Their lives, and ours, have been changed forever. Continue reading “Real Hope in Real Time”
“Does this hurt?” “How about here?” At certain times all of us have heard those words from a Doctor who is checking out what physical problem we may have. I recall running across the lawn of a neighbours’s yard and not seeing the little wire fence in the dark of night, tripping over it and breaking an arm! It wasn’t difficult for the emergency room nurse to tell I had a problem as my arm twisted in the wrong direction!
Less obvious are the spiritual wounds we carry around that come as a result of our own sin, and that of others. Emotional wounds that were inflicted by a parent, a spouse, or another person we trusted, carry their own set of damages that leave scars. We human beings have an uncanny knack of hurting one another, sometimes we don’t even realize that we do so. But when we put our needs and wants before serving God and others, we cause damage. And, the result is that we ourselves become twisted emotionally and spiritually.
The twelve men who followed Jesus Christ were not exempt from this malady. You will recall that one of their most heated discussions had to do with which one of them would be the greatest, the most important, when the kingdom of God reigns on the earth! Really? How could it be that after the Lord announced to them that he was going to be delivered to the Jewish authorities to be killed, that these men thought it correct to discuss the place of their importance! However, without them even knowing it, these men, in a spiritual sense, began to inflict themselves with a world of hurt.
Whenever we begin to think about “me first”, like the disciples did in Jesus’day, we unknowingly begin to hurt ourselves. We convince ourselves in thinking that this is something we deserve! But unless God is the one who gives it to us, our striving for position or priority actually hurts ourself, and those closest to us. We unknowingly trip over the neighbour’s invisible wire. Our attitude needs to be that which places God first, others second and me last.
Here is the sad thing we need to acknowledge, repent of and confess: the church has been the cause of this type of pain. To be specific, I’m not talking about the church as in the building, rather the church as in people who have knowingly hurt people. We have run over people in our effort to establish our agenda (we use “spiritual” language to do so!). We turn member against member. Sooner or later God will call us to account as to what we have done!
A Holy Spirit led, driven movement of God is not that. It is one where God’s people confess their sins one to another, and they don’t allow hurts to trip up God’s agenda. It is a movement in which the fruit of the Spirit is evidenced and God’s agenda takes first place. Nobody needs to ask who gets the credit but rather everyone knows it is God who gets the glory all day, everyday.
Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! May we treasure him, and may that be reflected in our desire to encourage others to do so as well!
The English author C.S. Lewis wrote,
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks
in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
It has been a tough week. We are witnessing before our eyes the humbling of the fourth largest city in the United States. The images we are seeing on our televisions are real. They are difficult to watch because they are people like you and me who are losing everything, literally everything. Furniture, clothing, televisions, cars, precious memories like family pictures, and in some very heart-breaking way are losing their loved ones.
Near where I live, many people have lost their homes and all their belongings in the fires of Western Canada. Through no fault of their own, they were forced to evacuate their homes without notice. Their lives will carry these moments for many years.
What do we do in times like this? I am reminded of the description of Jesus Christ as he witnessed the helplessness of those who are described as “harassed and helpless”, that he did NOT berate them for being in that position. Nor did he call them out for the evilness of their hearts. Here is what we read about our Saviour, “he had compassion for them.” (Matthew 9:36)
His compassion was a result of seeing the condition of their heart. They are described by Matthew as being “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” The predicament they were in describes them as people who were in some sense being taken advantage of through no fault of their own. The response of our Lord is so unlike us. We want to find someone to blame! Someone’s head had to roll because of the mess these people were in. But Jesus does not go there.
What Jesus does do it absolutely amazing! Here is the Son of God with all the power to change the circumstances of these helpless and harassed people. What does he do? He turns to his followers and tells them to pray. What should they pray about? Pray that God would send people to relieve these hurting folks of their difficulty. I find that fascinating. Don’t you?
The “megaphone” of God in the suffering of these dear folks in Houston has as its response, that God’s people pray that He would send compassionate people to help, people who would give if they cannot go and people who will pray. There are so many agencies that are reaching out right now like Samaritan’s Purse, who are sending chaplains as well as sending physical aid to assist Houston’s hurting people.
God now has our attention! He is moving us to action. Let’s not sit this one out but actively pray, give and if possible, go!
Life is full of lessons. How about that for an understatement! “What are you talking about?” You may correctly ask. When we least expect to learn something, we pass through an experience or a situation that leaves us wondering, “What in the world was that about?” Been there? Recently, I was there, all the way!
We often say that God is in control, and we often say it to others as they are facing some adversity and difficulty. But when the shoe is on our feet, we tend to ignore that same advice that we are so quick to hand out to others. We read of the biblical character, Job, and sympathize with him in the midst of his trial. Job’s three “friends” attempted to solve his dilemma and figure out what exactly God was up to in his life. Continue reading “When Life Hurts”