Pain

Why do we have pain?

Let’s back up and differentiate between physical, externally induced pain and emotional pain, that which is inflicted on our sole, our identity.

On a clinical level, physical pain can be treated, healing can take place, the pain can be tolerated. And often, pain has to be overcome for healing to occur.

Emotional pain ismore difficult, if not impossible to diagnose and treat. Despite what it says on their signs and in their pamphlets, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists, along with their array of drugs, represent a pitiful arsenal against the issues we face today.

There is commonality in that physical pain can produce deep seated emotional pain and emotional pain can cause very serious physical pain.

But why did God allow it? Why do we have pain?

I want to know because I see so many people doing really stupid things, wasting insane amounts of money and resources, and causing more pain than they could ever hope to heal, all trying to make it go away.

I have pain of my own that I can’t seem to ever overcome. And it is nothing compared to what millions face every day.

The short answer is that it’s because of the fall. Adam and Eve sinned so we have pain. But if we make it so simplistic, it leaves us with the only solution being to, “suck it up.”

The exciting thing for me in asking this question is that I know my God. My King is a healer. My Lord is moved by every tear, every broken and contrite heart. When a child dies through abortion or cancer or abuse, no one sees it more, feels it more, knows it better.

The issue of pain is often and the center of the atheist’s arguments (knowingly or unknowingly). So it seems like we need to understand it better.

I want to hear back. Why do you think we have pain?

Unstoppable Love

There are some amazing people in the world. Some that I am blessed to call my friends. Their passion for Jesus and love for people is inspiring. But more than that, they never give up.

I need to stop here. We hear those phrases, the meaningless cliches and we relegate people to category of weird religious zealots, pollyanna, saccharine sweet, smile all the time, unreachable.

People like that don’t inspire me.

My heroes of the faith are normal people who stepped out of normal living. They face down criminals, reach into horrible places with love, touch people that we would rather not even acknowledge the existence of.

I see them as people who, if God told them to, would step in front of a train, and stop it. They would take a bullet for you. They face things courageously that would make this soldier hide in a corner.

One such couple is Reuben and Michelle Zook working with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Indonesia as the organization Unstoppable Love International.

The more I’ve come to know them and hear their stories, the more I want to be like them. The more I want to help them. They are allowing the love of Jesus to flow through them and people are being set free. Slaves, REAL people who are being bought and sold, find freedom. They are given safety, a chance for classes and vocational training to support their children so that the cycle of slavery is forever broken. They lovingly but without compromise stand against pimps, corrupt officials and spiritual forces, very real demonic attacks.

They sacrifice their health and talents all because of love.

And they need help.

Check out Unstoppable Love Int. And please consider supporting them.

https://www.facebook.com/UnstoppableLoveInternational/

About Us

Remember

“I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time. All the things I’ve done and how it’s been…” Poems and Prayers and Promises (John Denver)

I remember as a small child going for hikes in the woods around the farm where we lived. I would get lost but was never afraid. I knew I’d find home.

I remember as a teenager being so angry, so lost, so afraid and so alone. I told God I didn’t believe and would rather serve satan than him.

I remember being trapped in my bed as demons tore at me, unable to scream, unable to move.

I remember the freedom and peace and joy I felt when I gave my heart, my life to Jesus.

I remember telling him over and over that he could do whatever he wanted with me.

I remember yelling at him, rejecting his commands. Medicating the pain he wanted to heal and never again saying he could do what he wanted with me.

I remember being rejected in love over and over. Coming to believe no one could.

I remember meeting her. Seeing her smile. Knowing I was done. Knowing she would never love me and I would never stop loving her.

I remember, despite my inner protests, she said ‘yes’. And then, ‘I do’.

I remember children and fighting and leaving and coming home and more children and fighting and leaving and coming home. And being so, so tired.

And I remember falling on my face and asking God to forgive me and help me with the mess I’d made.

And I remember healing and joy and love.

So much love.

And yes, though I got lost, God brought me home again.

Smartest Guy In The Room

When I was young, I thought I wasn’t very smart.  Read through the bible a few times and got my degree and, all of a sudden, I’m the smartest guy in the room.

Then I meet a kid who is explaining advanced differential equations to a PhD. I hear a pastor saying to his staff that God has revealed himself to the pastor in a way that they couldn’t handle.

May not be the smartest, but I’m not the dumbest.

Only then do I realize that my arrogance, the arrogance I see revealed in others and our collective intelligence is pitiful in comparison to the true smartest guy in the room.

Yet I hold on to my pride, my shame, my fear, my self-sufficiency and rage against my God who sees through it all. And then find myself on my knees, claiming dependence, my desperate need of Him.

And, He sees through that too.

I can’t argue people into heaven. I can’t impress them with my intellect, my giftedness, certainly not my spirituality. I have no delusions about condemning others or criticising their efforts to understand.

But can I introduce you to my friend? He’s funny and amazing. He really wants to meet you.

And He is super smart!

You can ask Him anything.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Most people wish there was more passion in their marriage.

And, I’m not just talking about sex.

We wish for a return of the goosebumps, the increased heart rate, the involuntary smile when our other crosses our mind.

And we want to see the same response in their eyes.

And when it isn’t there, we blame.

We chalk it up to faults in the other person, in ourselves, the demands of our day to day, the fragility of love.

I was talking to God about it the other day.  I have a list of “blames” that sound like self-deprecation but really are just my way of blaming Him.  And after going through my liturgy, He surprised me by asking this question.

“Why can’t we be friends?”

I contrast my ideals for a perfect marriage with my relationship with my kids.  I never really think about a greater passion for them. 

The other night my boys got together with me to watch football.  We ate pizza.  Talked a bit. Turned on the game.  One fell asleep.  The other two were on their phones most of the time.  We just had fun hanging out.

Hold on!

Is God saying, or am I saying, that the way to a better relationship is to just not set the “bar” so high?  Don’t expect anything?  Don’t even try for intimacy?

Nope.

I think what He is getting at is that we need to pursue presence first.  Passion and purpose will follow.  Don’t blame, but let faults draw us toward each other’s needs. Reject distance and all forms of self-defense, considering the other worthy of our sacrifice.

And every day…

Do it again…

Do You Believe?

So many questions…

So many unknowns…

I sing about God’s “Reckless Love”. I played “Walk By Faith” with passion on my guitar. So many songs.

Now I’m just embarrassed.

I think a year from now, when we sing those songs, they will mean something different than they did last year.

I want them to. I want my heart to go beyond the lip service I have given to God’s greatness. I want my life to have gone beyond what’s popular, beyond being a nice guy.

And for that to happen, I have to suffer. I have to boldly live out the miraculous. I must step away from safety, the false protection that I have raised up around me.

I have to believe.

Election 2020

I used to wish I had a large audience for this blog, forum for deep discussion, encouragement, healing. I know some people listened, received, but it was very few.

Tonight is no different.

As I watch the election unfold, I realize that nothing I say can alter the outcome, no one will change their opinions on masks or presidents.

But maybe, just maybe, you can hear this.

I confess I have been fearful these past few days and tonight, as I was praying, I told God about it. He gently reminded me, “do not be anxious about anything” – Philippians 4:6. He reminded me of one of my favorite songs.

He spoke to me about his promises. “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

And ended by bringing me back to the place where He is my everything. No matter who is president, no matter where we are with a pandemic, or as a country.

He is enough.

Do you want to be healed?

We all have a sin sickness.

That thing that, despite our best efforts to conceal it, proves to us how messed up we are.

No one gets to escape it without the blood of Jesus Christ covering us.

No one.

It’s not enough to get saved, to find Jesus.  I’m sorry if you think it is.  I found Jesus and really all it did was open my eyes to my desperate need for more of Him, more of the Spirit, more of God’s leading and power.  I needed Him to HEAL me.  And I found, we have to want healing.

Not want like, “I want a breakfast burrito.”  More like, “I’m suffocating and I want air.”

In the jails, there are so many that from youth have been told the lie that they are just bad people.  In the bars, there are so many that believe they are not worthy of love, incapable of commitment.  The druggies, the prostitutes, the gays, the gamers that all believe that they can not hope for anything different.  That is just who they are.

Yep I lumped all those together.  Addictions, struggles, issues, whether society accepts and approves of them or not, have similar obstacles to overcome.

Oh, and in case it’s not obvious, porn, alcohol, affairs, work, temper tantrums, hate, control, arrogance are just a few of the others that fit into the same ideas.

The story in the Bible (John 5) goes that there was a pool where an angel would “stir the waters” (whatever that means) and the sick person who got in first was healed.  Jesus comes along and sees a guy who has been there for thirty-eight years.  His question hits me.

“Do you want to be healed?”

Jesus offers healing.  We offer excuses.  I want to be better, stronger, healthier, problem and struggle free.  But if solutions are presented, we see only impossibilities.  I’m not strong enough.  I can’t do it.  I’m just a failure.  It’s who I am and I don’t even need to change.

Jesus offers healing that comes in the form of wholeness, peace, joy, strength, victory.  And no addiction, no chosen lifestyle offers anything that compares.  And I know I need more of those things.  I want healing.  Now I just have to want it bad enough to submit myself to the authority of the one who offers it.

I’m tired of the sickness.  I sick of being sick.  I’m tired of the fight against my selfishness and self-actualization.

I just want Him.

The First Stone

There are so many debates flying around and accusations laid against Christianity and our response has been so misguided.

I, of course, will now add my wisdom and insight to clarify everything for everyone.

Yeah…

I’ve heard many times, over the years, the phrase, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”  These are the words of Jesus and we love pulling them out when we’re confronted by someone for doing something wrong.

The story is about a woman who was caught in adultery that some religious jerks wanted to trick Jesus with.  They knew that Jesus was kind to prostitutes, to tax collectors (worse than prostitutes if you’re setting up a scale) and sinners.  He claimed he was there to heal that type of person but the Hebraic law stated she should be stoned, well her and the guy she committed adultery with, ummm…

Anyway, they thought that because of Jesus’ kindness, he would contradict the Law and let her go.  And I think that’s how we want to use his words even now.  Couple of problems though.

He could have thrown the first stone.  He was “without sin” and was God in the flesh and holy and all that.  He could have killed her and been “right” to do so.  No denying it, she had sinned.

He, because of love, chose not to.

Second problem, we want to compare our actions with hers.  She sinned, I sin and no one is allowed to judge me for it.  That’s what we would say.  But we’re different.  She didn’t deny what she had done, didn’t want anyone to say it was ok.  She knew what she deserved.  She held on to no hope because she knew she was condemned.

Our actions more closely resemble the thief on the cross.  No, not the one that Jesus said would be with him in paradise.  The one who said, “if you’re the son of God, save yourself and us too.”  Mocking Jesus, hurling accusations against his power and identity.

Weird that Jesus didn’t talk to him at all.

He didn’t want to repent, didn’t want to honor God and submit to His authority.  He just wanted to be allowed to continue living, doing whatever he wanted.

Jesus still stands there, holding out his hand of forgiveness and love, acceptance and restoration to those who ask for it.  Who want Him more than their own lives.

But He is holy, He is God and will not accept less than His best for us.

I have no hope but Him.

Underwear

In Christian circles, we talk a lot about the “Armor of God.”

You know, “helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit, feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel.”  Those things.

But, I was thinking lately that some of the “armor” hasn’t been sitting so well in my fight. Belt of Truth getting a bit tight, Breast Plate of Righteousness beginning to chafe.

Sorry, my metaphors are silly and intentionally trying to be humorous.

The reality is that if we solely concentrate on the armor, we miss something.  There are other aspects that we have to choose, things we must look for and put on.

“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Now, most people will tell you as you live for Jesus, the Holy Spirit naturally brings out these “fruits of the Spirit” in our lives.  I would suggest that they are attributes that you have to choose, to clothe yourself with along with the armor.

In the military, you learn pretty quickly that, to protect your feet, you need good boots.  But first, you need clean, dry socks.  If you wear a sweaty, nasty t-shirt for too long, you’re going to get chafed (and you smell really bad).  And, if you don’t change your boxers from time to time, well….

And, the idea of not having these items is not something you should choose!

Is it sacrilege to compare the Fruits of the Spirit to underwear?

I think it’s biblical.

When you lift up your sword, make sure you put on love.  When you hold up the shield, make sure it is also wrapped in faithfulness.  When you put on the belt, make sure it is over the garment of patience.

And if all this leaves you cold, 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another…”

Now, I’m ready for battle.

And I think I look pretty killer, too!