Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dancing Through Pain

Tim Hansel was considered a lucky, nay, a blessed man to have survived his fall off a glacier. It's just that it resulted in fractured vertebrae, crushed discs, bone fragments in his neck, and a life of constant pain.

The real miracle is that it also resulted in a life of constant demand as a speaker, writer, and leader of adventure trips (Click here to read more about Tim Hansel).

Hansel's book that specifically deals with his climbing accident and its aftermath has a title that would seem flippant if you didn't know how he had earned the right to say it: You Gotta Keep Dancin'  -  In the Midst of Life's Hurts, You Can Choose Joy!

Some highlights:

All of our lives are terminal. Only time and quality differ. The choice for all of us is not if we will accept pain, but how.

You don't truly discover your roots until you are at the bottom of the pit.

If you can't change circumstances, change the way you respond to them.

Learning patience...takes a lot of patience.

Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.... God has given us such immense freedom that he will allow us to be as miserable as we want to be.

The damage has been done. The worst is over. You will have to live with pain, but that's a small price to pay for life.

I know full well that I would rather make my days count than merely count my days.

Most of the Epistles were written in prisons.

The Scriptures say that the righteous shall flourish like the palm tree  -  but we need to remember that palm trees don't grow in beautiful forests, but in the desert.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...this isn't as simple as saying "Chin up, buckaroo!" One last quote (and how Hansel ends the book): In his marvelous and mysterious way, God keeps shaping us until he can see himself in our lives. The process is long, arduous, complex, and certainly not painless, but it's worth it. And we need not wait until the conclusion to celebrate. We can, if we choose, genuinely celebrate the process.

There is no box

   made by God
   nor us
but that the sides can be flattened out
   and the top blown off
   to make a dance floor
   on which to celebrate life.
                   -Kenneth Caraway

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

We Used To Be Inseparable, But Now We've Grown Apart

Way, way back in March of 1965, on the Monday night of a week-long series of church services(formerly known as a "revival"), I was not yet eight years old...but I was aware of my need for a savior.

I knew I was not perfect and that I preferred things my way instead of God's. I knew that no amount of "I'm sorry"s or helping little old ladies across the street could make up for my sins  -  even as tame as they seem now, compared to what I've done since then.

On that night, in that little church in Northeast Indiana, I declared my utter dependence on Jesus and was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Joining me in taking the plunge that night were two of my friends, Kevin and Kim. Kim was a deacon's kid, like me, but Kevin was the son of our preacher.

A lot of calendar pages have bit the dust since then, and all three of us have grown older than we'd care to admit. All three of our fathers have died. Kim's was first, and far too soon. Kevin's came later...mine, last.

Kim and I lost track of each other, but my path has crossed with Kevin's a few times.

When I was attending Bible college to prepare for vocational ministry (which was a delayed decision for me...6 years after high school), Beloved and I and our growing family attended the church where Kevin was serving as Youth Minister.

In 1984, I graduated from college and became the youth minister at a congregation close to my stomping grounds in Northeast Indiana. Kevin moved to Las Vegas, Nevada to help start a church there.

And now, having spent 14 years as a youth minister in four different congregations, and several more years as a proofreader and technical writer, I am on the board of elders and help lead worship at the church where my final stint as youth minister was.

Kevin? He's now the Lead Pastor at that church in Las Vegas, and it is the 9th-largest congregation in our "fellowship of churches" (which is what we Independent Christian Church people prefer to call ourselves, rather than a "denomination"). Almost 7,000 people hear him preach every week.

I think about how we started at the same place at the same time and how different our situations are now and I'm not sure I can put into words how weird that feels.

But it reminds me of the scene at the end of John's gospel where Jesus is talking to Peter and telling him that he will die a martyr's death. "Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them...When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me'." (John 21:20-22)

Truth is...no two people ever walk the exact same path through life. Comparing yourself to anyone else will either result in unproductive pride or unwarranted self-loathing. What does anyone else's accomplishments or lack thereof have to do with your particular faithfulness to God?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Chaos and Truth

I do not know what goes on in a person's mind that could possibly lead them to open fire in an Orlando club, killing 49 individuals and shattering the lives of hundreds.

I do not know what societal forces or religious interpretations or particular balance of personal rights and Federal regulations to start blaming.

I do not know an awful lot.

But there are a few things of which I am most assuredly certain.

I know Jesus loves each patron of Orlando's Pulse club and gave His life for their sin.

I know Jesus loves the shooter and gave His life for his sin.

I know Jesus loves each member of the LGBT community and gave His life for their sin.

I know Jesus loves each homophobe and gave His life for their sin.

I know Jesus loves each pervert, prostitute, preacher, pacifist, NRA enthusiast, Islamic extremist, Christian fundamentalist, racist, terrorist, and any other "ist" you can conjure.

Jesus loves them all...and died for them all...and weeps for them all...

...and calls each to repentance and a life of holiness.

  • Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin. (John 8:11 NIV)
  • If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15 NASB)

Truth is...I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him. (2 Timothy 1:12 NIV)


The song featured in this previous post is particularly poignant right now. http://deweytruth.blogspot.com/2012/05/breathe-deep.html 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Little Worries

With apologies to Roy Orbison:

Little Worries
Picking at my brain
Little Worries
Driving me insane
Little Worries
Don't know why you bug me so
Wish that you would up and go

Little Worries
Giving me such grief
Little Worries
I get no relief
Little Worries
Even though you don't make a peep
Every night I'm losing sleep

Little Worries, stop a while
Just a pause could make me smile
I'm so tired of your bile, you see
Little Worries, yeah, yeah, yeah
Little Worries, please don't stay
Little Worries, go away from me

'Cause I hate you; you treat me bad
With all your nagging, you make me sad

Little Worries
Just walk on by
If you left me
I wouldn't cry
Little Worries
Just walk away, hey...okay
If you left you'd make my day

I guess I'll have to work it out
Build my faith and not my doubt
Do I believe?
Is God looking out for me?
Yeah, He knows what's best for me
Oh, oh, Little Worries.

Truth is...It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything but those details that worry us. Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in us? Is it the devil? No - "the cares of the world" (Matthew 13:22). It is always our little worries. (Oswald Chambers)