Four Years and Counting
Today, May 23, 2021 makes four years I was NOT supposed to see according to man and medical science. Yet here I am and there is only one explanation. God’s plan for my life was different than anyone including myself knew.
From 1977 until 2017 I lived but didn’t really LIVE. My way of managing pain, loss, grief and sadness was to suppress it with sex, drugs and alcohol and struggle past it as fast as possible with no healing. As a result of a lot of things self condemnation crept in and made itself at home. I allowed myself to lose all joy simply because I didn’t deal with loss and sadness and hid it away instead, burying it deep in my subconscious where in hindsight it did much, much more harm. I’ve often joked that there are two types of examples in the world, the first is how to live well and the other is what not to do. I’ve always said I was the latter. Some jokes hold a lot of truth in them.
As a result of a lot of things that happened on the 23rd of May 2017 my life, my existence was stripped away and my priorities and all I thought important meant nothing. All that was left was a confidence in and a dependence on God that has changed everything. As my beloved Catherine said ” God WILL beat you half to death to get your attention ” and in my case that is true. I would not recommend anyone waiting for that but in my case that is what happened.
There Will Come a Day
One day you will hear I am no longer living in this world. Do not cry, and certainly do not worry about me because at the moment the broken pieces of my used up physical body stop for the last time something wonderful and perfect will have already happened.
I have a unique perspective on time after 2017 and those days of darkness back then. As I have said, to everyone else but me those days were long and miserable days but to me from May 23 to June 26 were only a second in time. That is how I look at eternity and a person’s experience upon death.
Time is a creation of God just like everything else, HE does not exist inside time and has no real need for it. Time came along like everything else during creation because we needed it. At the moment of physical death we, you, me anyone will have no more need for this temporary body or for time for that matter but will have moved into eternity for better or worse.
Think atheist will be protected for God’s reality because of their personal beliefs? That is NOT what scripture says. Just the opposite, it says EVERY knee shall bow, atheist, satanist, everyone who has ever lived but the difference is that moment will be a glorious beginning for God’s children, his sheep but it will be a horrible unrepairable realization for the goats….
It doesn’t matter if I am dead a week or for a thousand years of human time before awakening in God’s presence. To me or to you it will be like only a second in time. That is one of the reasons I don’t think or worry much about the so called rapture, or how Gods plan will actually play out in this world. All I am sure of is I am supposed to be going about my father’s business every minute of every day and if I do that one thing it does not matter how and when it happens I AM ready….are you?
When you think God could not possible use you in any meaningful way, that there is no way you with your flaws limitations and mistakes could do anything for God, remember these people.
- God chose Joseph to save God’s people from famine, despite the fact that Joseph came from a family so dysfunctional that his brother sold him into slavery.
- God also chose Gideon, a fear-driven wimp, to lead his army.
- God chose Ruth to be one of Jesus’ ancestors, even though Ruth was childless, a widow, and a foreigner.
- God chose Moses to represent him and be his spokesperson. Moses was an unexpected choice, since he had a serious stuttering problem.
- Did I mention that Moses was a murderer? God even chooses people whose “mutations” are a result of their own sins and bad choices.
- God chose Abraham to be the father of faith, even though Abraham had a serious problem with lying.
- God chose to save Noah from the Flood. You might think, “Well, Noah must have been perfect.” Actually, after the Flood, Noah got drunk and passed out completely naked.
- God chose Rahab for a starring role in the Bible. She was a prostitute.
- God chose David, an adulterer, to be the leader of his people.
It Occurred to Me
Watching a show about Jesus last night called ‘ The Chosen ‘ it occurred to me just how much God truly used and still uses the foolish and weak of this world. It starts with Mary Magdalene and then one by one shows the apostles for what they were before their encounter with Jesus, and it wasn’t pretty. Simon Peter was portrayed as a rowdy fisherman who was dishonest and self-centered in his pursuits. Matthew the tax collector an arrogant depressed and unhappy man, and it goes on and on with each of his chosen vessels.
WE are those same people, the flawed, dishonest, sinners who even so are exactly who and what God uses to demonstrate his love, purpose and perfection. Think about that the next time you feel weak or useless to him. He even said so in 1 Corinthians so we could be sure of what we are seeing. God never leaves anything to chance or to misunderstanding. He is clear, direct and perfect in his communications with us. It is us who are flawed and weak in our understanding.
1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
Living in The Light of Eternity
Think about how it feels, early in the morning, cool, clear and fresh from a night’s sleep. Now think about how beautiful the eastern sky looks just before day. It isn’t there but you know it is coming, nothing could stop it and the growing light gives you hope of a clear cool beautiful day about to happen.
Now multiply that joyful anticipation a thousand maybe a million times. THAT is the glorious never ending future we as God’s children have to look forward to every day that we get to experience in this flawed world. Think about it, you are one day closer to the most glorious eternity you could ever imagine.
Your life, my life should and can be an example of the confidence, courage and strength that God’s gift of the Holy Spirit brings us. The difference is real and gives a peace and fearlessness like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
This life at best is short and passes fast. It is easy to be startled at times at just how fast it passes but when you have your heart and eyes set on eternity it changes your perspective entirely. Remember the next time you see the horizon at dawn and know there is something over there that is coming fast….so is Jesus
Easily Offended? Stop Reading This Now
I do not know where this began but it is way past time to stop. You know what happens when you get offended? NOTHING absolutely nothing so get over yourself and get back to living like an adult. It occurs to me that my parents if still living would be laughing their hearts out at the children in charge now.
Those people, my parents generation was born into a different world, much harder, much more unforgiving and much more real. No lights, no heat and no indoor plumbing. Yet with all that and more they survived, loved and lived quite successfully.
Coming off a major First World War just before their births they knew a lot about it and as small children in the 30s they saw a major financial depression, hunger and poverty on a level most living now have never seen. Shortly after that what happens? A second real World War in which they lived, participated in and somehow survived as best they could if they were lucky.
About the time they got back home, relaxed a little and became civilians again what happens? Korea is what happened which was a three-year brutal bloody war with Communist China they had to go back into and fight to win.
So when I laugh at you when you say your feelings got hurt about someone’s words, faith or their beliefs just understand that it is not because I do not love you or want the best for you. It is because I was blessed to know the people who fought and died to earn this easy life you now have yet they experienced very little of it for themselves.
So get over yourself, pick yourself up and be an adult.
What is Your Freedom Worth?
With so much going on in America these days it is difficult to settle on any one subject. The attacks and destruction on our freedoms are rampant. Censorship is right on the top of the list. Nothing, no written word should ever be banned or censored even the things you or I don’t like. That is at the heart of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. Think about it this way, things written or said that everyone likes or agrees with would not even need protection.
I’ve noticed one particular group is famous for censoring anything they don’t agree with, liberals and this is extending into the business and political arena at a fast pace. I’ve noticed Amazon seems to censor books. If someone writes a book about a subject from a Biblical position many times they will not sell it while selling many books I would not buy and do not agree with. That is censorship. While they might have a right as a business to decide what they sell, I also have rights and one of which is who I do or don’t do business with.
Was looking at a software tool related to network threat analysis and network protection which has in it a cost-benefit computation and while to most it might not have a correlation to life it does. Everything we do should be looked at with a cost-benefit analysis. I shut down my Amazon Prime account and chose to do business directly with companies because I do not want to give my money to them. This choice comes with a cost to me, ie…I have to order individually from a company, pay the shipping cost myself to get the benefit of acquiring the product I need and taking a stand against what I believe is wrong.
Everything we do in life has a cost and a benefit and we should always ask ourselves if the choices we choose to make are good, useful and necessary. I can buy a new truck every year if I want to, live in a much bigger house with all the amenities but do I need to? I can smoke or drink or otherwise abuse myself physically but is it worth it? See how that works? That is a simple yet useful cost benefit analysis.
I read a book a long time ago, Dr Stephen R. Coveys Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and the one point that never leaves me……Begin With The end in Mind
A Million Little Things
Once I thought I was supposed to do something ‘big’ for God like preach,write or some other notable thing like missionary work and prayed for a long time for guidance on that subject. All I came away from it was the idea, well not even an idea just some words, the title of this week’s writing. The poem below was written by a poet/friend named Tim as a result of a conversation in a hay field last summer. Thanks, Tim.
A Million Little Things
Written by Tim Jeffers friend and fellow Traveler
I have a good life
and God has blessed me very well!
Something seems to be missing
so I prayed and asked God to tell.
I prayed to God and asked
God what should I do
so I can be a better servant for You?
The answer surprised me
But it made perfect sense to me
God told me to do
« A Million Little Things! »
So each day I am alive
I look for little things to do.
One is to tell people I meet
God has a plan for you.
I share my story with others
of Gods loving grace
Or I find someone i can help
to bring a smile to their face.
I may give them a gift.
Sometimes I do it anonymously
So God get the thanks
and glory instead of me.
I am not keeping count
but I know God sees
me doing what he asked
« A Million Little Things »
Refuse To Comply
“If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” Thomas Jefferson
It seems like everyone who thinks our government is all powerful and must be obeyed does not understand freedom and the limitations set in place by the US Constitution, The Bill of Rights and The Amendments and should read them. The 10th Amendment is a good part to focus on for this subject. In legal terms, the Tenth Amendment is what is known as a “rule of construction.” It doesn’t add anything to the Constitution, nor does it take anything away. But it serves a very important function. It tells us how to interpret the document. Think of it like a lens through which we evaluate everything the federal government does..The Tenth Amendment makes explicit two fundamental constitutional principles that are implicit in the document itself.
- The federal government is only authorized to exercise those powers delegated to it.
- The people of the several states retain the authority to exercise any power that is not delegated to the federal government as long as the Constitution doesn’t expressly prohibit it.
In a nutshell, the federal government has a very limited number of things it is authorized to do and these are listed throughout the Constitution.
If you don’t want to comply with an unfair regulation, law, rule, don’t. Of course, you must understand that that sort of behavior might come with a cost to you personally, but what is your freedom worth? Not all laws, rules and regulations are fair, moral, or even sensible so the bottom line of the decision must be at your feet cost and all.
SOMETIMES WHAT IS LEGAL ISN’T RIGHT AND WHAT IS RIGHT ISN’T LEGAL
While it is a fact that the majority of our current laws are beneficial to us all and helps make society better I am sorry to say not all laws are good, beneficial or even sensible. The defiance of such laws is historically a very American thing to do. I believe The Affordable Care Act fits into the latter category. Obamacare as it is commonly called is turning out to be anything but affordable and so ill conceived it appears destined to become a full blown financial disaster for America. Insurance premiums are rising instead of falling, companies are dropping insurance entirely and it was even cited publicly by our own local hospital as one of the reasons they stopped delivering babies. Apparently it is so bad the very authors of the law have exempted themselves and their cronies from it.
The tax penalties for refusing to play along are small and can only be collected by the IRS by withholding that amount from your tax refund. None of the other remedies the IRS usually can use are even allowed. If for instance you chose to structure your income tax in such a way that you owe taxes every year there is nothing the IRS can do beyond talking mean to you. Simply put you can in fact, ignore Obamacare, do what you choose is best for yourself and your family, and go on about your business. You will however technically be a “law breaker” but take heart you would be in good company. The founders of our country were lawbreakers, many northern states helping runaway slaves were lawbreakers, and more currently the states of Washington and Colorado and Michigan who recently legalized marijuana are lawbreakers. While I do not personally support legalizing marijuana use I do support a states right to decide locally what they want to do. The concept of a whole state defying federal law en masse is called nullification and was recommended by founders James Madison and Alexander Hamilton as a remedy to unfair laws.
Just because The Supreme Court said it is ok is not the final word either. The Supreme Court issues opinions not decisions and they are not infallible. They have been proven by history to be flawed at times and other times totally wrong. I reference Dred Scott v. Sandford 1857 about slavery and Korematsu v. United States 1944 about Japanese American interment as two glaring examples later proven to be not only wrong but also immoral.
In conclusion the federal government only has as much power as we are willing to allow it to have and in some ways the first step toward denying this power is to make the decision to do so. Seems this is not a very new concept.
Resistance to Tyranny
“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.” John Hancock (History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229)
As our nation turns into a dark direction I ask myself as a Christian how am I supposed to act, what am I supposed to do? My first loyalty and really the only one that is of any importance is to God and this is something I am sure of. I started in the place I should always turn to when I have questions, scripture. What I found was much information about how God dealt with governments and leadership which turned from his authority.
Many don’t realize that Christians have a right to rebel against oppressive government. I’m well-aware of Romans 13:1-7 and other passages where it says we are to obey duly-constituted authorities, and so were our founders. However, when government requires us to disobey God or denies us our freedoms and natural rights, then as Peter and John told the Sanhedrin, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29, 4:17-20.
The Book of Judges tells us of many freedom fighters against those who oppressed and enslaved Israel: Ehud, Gideon, Deborah and Barak, Samson, Samuel, and others whom God sent to free His people from tyranny. In the kingdom period, Samuel rebuked Saul for taking too much power, Nathan confronted David over his murder of Uriah, Elijah condemned Ahab for killing Naboth for his property. God requires that leaders be servants of the people, not their masters. 1 Kings 12:7. Daniel defied Kings Nebuchadnezzar over food and Darius over prayer. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused to bow to idols.
Jesus got angry over the cheating of worshippers at the temple and whipped the moneychangers and crooked salesmen out. John 2:14-17. In doing so he forcibly defied the Jewish government.
The Declaration of Independence states that when government becomes oppressive, patriots and Christians have the right and duty to resist unlawful authority. Samuel Adams, one of the Founders who based many of his arguments for liberty on the Bible, said, “Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, the right to life [Self-defense]; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner thy can.” Sovereign Duty, p.145.
Could You Survive?
Because of our circumstances and choices at Murphy Farm ie…we ditched the dish many years ago and choose not to have useful cellular out here there are a lot of things we live quite happily without, no satellite, no cellular service. When out single technological connection DSL fails as it does often enough we adapt. With a houseful of books it is easy to find something to do that is actually good for us. Sitting by the fire reading a book is a very therapeutic thing for me.
I secretly wish for a simpler world, the one before cell phones, internet and instant news. At this point the only way that would ever happen would be if a world class disaster, war or EMP happened. This thought always leads to the question, could we survive if it did?
I think it would be far easier for those of us who remember ‘ before ‘ to adapt and go on living than it would for those who were born into it. I am a great fan of history and read often about American life of 100 years ago and farther back. You know those people thought they were modern, and advanced and all the other words every generation attaches to their existence. Think about it. At one time not so long ago having water inside a home was unheard of much less any source of heat other than a fireplace. Yet those people thrived, and had success in their efforts. They survived and from all I can glean from their writings they were content and happy. Maybe there is something we can learn from those people.
What We Allow is What Will Happen
“Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer. Then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.”
After the events nationally of the last few weeks I decided to re-read one of my favorite philosophical documents Ive read and spoken about before. Etienne de La Boétie’s Discourse on Voluntary Servitude was written in the 16th century. I’ve placed a link at the bottom of this post you can read it for yourself, it is however long, 42 pages, so be warned. Basically I believe much of what we are seeing happen in America we have allowed simply by passive acceptance. Below is a summary of his arguments, see how much of it you can fit into current events and America 2021. He writes at great length about the difference in one generation’s behavior in Greece first against the Persian invasion of King Darius and then against King Xerxes. One of the quotes from that time got my attention and was said by one of two Spartans, one named Sperte and the other Bulis, who volunteered to offer themselves as a sacrifice during the second invasion. So they departed, and on the way they came to the palace of the Persian named Hydarnes, lieutenant of the king in all the Asiatic cities situated on the sea coasts. He received them with great honor, feasted them, and then, speaking of one thing and another, he asked them why they refused so obdurately his king’s friendship. “Consider well, O Spartans,” said he, “and realize by my example that the king knows how to honor those who are worthy, and believe that if you were his men he would do the same for you; if you belonged to him, and he had known you, there is not one among you who might not be the lord of some Greek city.”
“By such words, Hydarnes, you give us no good counsel,” replied the Lacedaemonians, “because you have experienced merely the advantage of which you speak; you do not know the privilege we enjoy. You have the honor of the king’s favor; but you know nothing about liberty, what relish it has and how sweet it is. For if you had any knowledge of it, you yourself would advise us to defend it, not with lance and shield, but with our very teeth and nails.”
They knew the value of the liberty they were fighting for.
Summary of arguments of the Discourse on Voluntary Servitude:
– The power of tyrants is based only on the abandonment of people’s power.
– The tyrant is often a weak man, like any other. Only gullible can idolize.
– There is oppression of a volunteer.
– The people are responsible for their own tutelage
– The use of reason will disappear among the people to be deceived and dominated.
– Tyrants create a power structure very elaborate, consisting of a multi-level hierarchy consisting of a conspiracy of accomplices.
I’ve been noticing in the last few years just how fast time seem to pass. When I was younger things like Christmas and Thanksgiving seemed to come slower and last a lot longer, not so much now. I decided to look into what Psychology and Science had to say about it. Turns out it is not just me and is a real thing. Funny thing is their advice, their wisdom can be found in scripture. Even this little quirk about humans, God knew all about it a long time ago, he designed us this way. Below is advice given by a psychologist about it all followed by something else written a lot earlier.
“So here is the key to slowing down the pace of life (at least psychologically): As much as possible, take advantage of new and unique experiences. When we go to the same places and do the same things, we don’t make distinct memories and time seems to fly by. Zimbardo and Boyd suggest focusing on positive (rather than negative) past memories, trying to live more in the present, and holding a positive perception of the future—envisioning a future full of hope and optimism. In other words, use time wisely.” Ronald E. Riggio Ph.D Psychology
James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
2 Corinthians 4:18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
2020 For Better or Worse
As 2020 comes to a quick end in a short five days I cannot speak for anyone else but as for me I am slightly surprised that I have lived long enough to see 2021 arrive. Having said that and not believing in “resolutions” I won’t make any beyond resolving to do better and make more of an impact in the new year. I know that a lot of the same issues we have in 2020 are still issues that need to be resolved. I do think it is time to state some irrefutable facts about the state of our nation and the world and what I believe we should all be doing about it. I also believe it is past time for political correctness, moderation, compromise or any other of the myriad forms of surrender being bantered about. What it is time for is honesty, plain talk, directness, and aggressive action. I have never know of a circumstance when “hurt feelings” or being “offended” killed anyone and it certainly is not illegal to tell the truth yet even if it is a hard truth. I believe it is time to speak the truth to evil and wrong doing no matter who is involved or who it offends.
Our country is suffering one disaster after another mostly caused by bad decisions and self serving schemes thought up by government officials on every level. Regulations on top of regulations keep piling up to the point where even the regulators cannot keep up with what is legal and what is not. Even law enforcement gets it wrong many times when trying to do their jobs not out of malice but because they cannot keep up with the regulators. Our once revered Constitution is being scoffed at and skirted by our courts and other leadership and the people who truly believe in it are treated as radicals or worse.
Our healthcare system however flawed is still the model for the rest of the world and has people coming here from all over the globe for treatment. It is now being dismantled and the hospitals and practitioners choked with government regulation, insurance company interference and funding cuts to the point they cannot survive. It is clear to anyone who cares to notice that the Federal Government cannot run any program efficiently and has a record of waste and corruption beyond any criminal organization’s record.
Our government seems to think that they have the right to ignore the US Constitution and give orders to virtually every citizen whether they have done anything wrong or not all in the name of making us somehow safer (according to them). Governors are giving ‘orders’ to citizens with no real legal authority again in the name of the greater good and public safety. That is not how the system was designed, and we should not accept it, these people work for us, not the other way around.
People I cannot be the only person who feels that all of this has to stop and our country’s direction must change course, or we are headed toward larger and larger disasters. If you feel as I do, speak up, write your representatives, vote for people who love America and at every opportunity refuse to comply with things you feel are wrong.
I am a proud member of a radical patriot group. The only requirement for membership is that at some point in your life you have raised your right hand and taken the familiar oath to “protect and defend The Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic.” This is a simple and straightforward enough proposition and that oath has been taken by literally millions of service members, law enforcement, first responders and public officials for as long as I can remember. You would think there would be no controversy or complaint but there is.
We have been called part of a “Patriot Group” by one of the more rabidly liberal rights organizations. Their implication is that this is some sort of derogatory term or something to be ashamed of! This sort of upside down thinking is getting worse and worse.
If taking the US Constitution and The Bill of Rights seriously makes me a radical I wear that label proudly. If being called a “patriot” is now a bad thing I am truly honored even more! There is nothing in those documents I disagree with or in any way am ashamed of. Over the years our founding documents have been called some of the most marvelous ideas ever devised. Our form of government with all its flaws and problems is still the model for the rest of the world.
Our Constitutional Republic (it is not and never has been a Democracy) was devised by some of the wisest men to ever live. I believe they were truly inspired by God and knew the power of spending time on their knees seeking his guidance. This is clear in the documents, their statements, writings and conduct.
As I have said before we live in curious upside down times where it seems right is called wrong and a lot of what we all believe in is being challenged as somehow incorrect. Some will shrink away from the challenge but I choose to stand for what I believe and I hope others will also. I would encourage everyone to read The US Constitution and Bill of Rights and understand that these are OUR rights.
Our nations founding documents are not just a bunch of old words on old paper. These documents and ideals they contain were gifts given to us by men we never knew, many of whom sacrificed everything they had including their lives for people they would never know. Patriots is what I would call them, I suppose you could call them members of a radical “Patriot Group”.
“God intends for us to be the authentic individual that HE created, when we are, it pleases him much, when we are not it saddens him.” N. Murphy 2019
Our Lives Must be Gospel-Centered, not Me-Centered.
The Apostle Paul makes this clear: “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified…My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.”
The takeaway for me is this: a year from today will those closest to me see someone transformed by the Gospel? The fruit of what He is doing in my life is the only way someone will know if my life is continually being transformed by the Gospel. Oftentimes, we want people to only see all that is going right, or smart, or my way, or…how perfect my life is. Social media allows this perception, but for true authenticity to work people need to see me when I don’t have it all together; when I fall apart and when I struggle. They need to see the transforming nature of Christ to taste the fruit.
This is never clearer than 2 Corinthians 4:7-10: “Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body.” In other words, we need to stop acting like we have it all together.
Our Lives Should Model Humility, not Pride.
Spiritual pride is the illusion that we are competent to run our own lives, achieve our own sense of self-worth, and find a purpose big enough to give us meaning in life without God. Our normal condition is always trying to prove to ourselves, others, and God that we are somebody. A condition that left unchecked and not surrendered to Christ will continually leave us bankrupt.
1 Corinthians 4:3-6, “It is of little importance to me that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even judge myself…It is the Lord who judges me…who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God…the purpose is that none of you will be arrogant, favoring one person over another.”
The purpose of our lives is that, as Christ transforms us, people will not be drawn to us but to Christ. In other words, we need to stop making it about us, but about Christ as we serve others.
Our Lives Must be Sincere.
Let these passages of Scripture resonate in your heart.
If I asked people to describe you, would the word sincerity make your list? Yet as we see, sincerity is central to the hope we find in Christ. How can they trust Him if they can’t trust you? Sincerity is our ability to live honest lives without hypocrisy and, because we act as if we have all the answers, we oftentimes rob Christ of His glory because they see a finished product instead of a work in progress.
Sincere Biblical Authenticity
The Apostle Paul summarizes the Biblically authentic life we all need to model.
“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”
Go and live authentic, imperfect, messy lives before a broken world so that others may see Jesus redeem and transform you into His image.
What is Christmas really all About?
As we approach Christmas with all its music, lights and joyful celebrations take a few minutes to remember what it is really all about. We celebrate Christmas to remember every year the birth of a baby boy named Jesus. Born in a backwater place to seemingly unimportant people. But long before his birth it was planned by God with a real purpose. God tried to have a close relationship with his children from the very beginning and we failed at every turn from Adam and Eve forward. Multiple times HE tried to turn his creations away from evil even showing them miracles at every turn. Even after all the care he gave from Egypt on we as a species continued to fail him. The stories in Daniel would never have happened had his children (us) not turned away from what they knew was right. Babylon and the overall destruction of Israel was a direct reaction to this behavior and what happened when God finally removed his protective hand from his children. The bottom line is if we the human race had been able to live up to Gods rules and plans for us in the first place we would not have a Christmas holiday or Easter either. It is impossible as a Christian to separate the two holidays of Christmas and Easter because they are eternally linked by their purpose. God made a way for all of us, it is called The New Covenant which was specifically designed because we failed so badly. God loved us so much HE did not give up on us instead he made a way. Jesus is that way.
The New Covenant is first mentioned in the OT in Jeremiah 31:3-33 500-600 years before Jesus’ birth and then again in multiple places in the NT. It is explained in Hebrews, Romans, and again in 2 Corinthians .
Jeremiah 31:31“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them declares the Lord. 33 This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Hebrews 8:1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. 3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. 7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
Resolve To Serve No More
We cannot participate in things we believe are wrong or harmful because doing so is a form of approval. This came home to us this week when we were asked to participate in a Christmas church service. The denomination involved is frankly apostate like a lot have become supporting sinful behavior ie..same-sex marriage that is clearly spoken against in scripture. For me to become involved would be to approve and accept it and this I cannot do. The ultimate question was about how to address it. Should I go anyway, made a big stink about the subject which is something they have already refused to deal with or simply back away. We chose to do the Matthew 10:14 thing and simply speak truth to the leadership, dust off our feet and move on.
Consistency and focus is highly important in a Christians daily walk as it is the only thing a lot of people see and base their opinion of us on. Our behavior cannot be a one hour one day a week part-time activity nor can it be one way with one group and different with another. It is in fact how we should live every waking moment of our lives. The Bible says this about just how prepared we should be. 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. The in season out of season statement implies that we should be ready even when it is unpopular, inconvenient or even dangerous.
Our time is short here, life is short and none of us knows what tomorrow brings or if we will even be here. My job, any Christians job is the same, praise God for all he has done and share the information needed for just one more person to find their way home.
“Resolve to serve no more and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer. Then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.”
– Etienne De La Boetie in “The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude”
“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” (1775)
No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings. Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free– if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending–if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come. It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish?
What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Call It What It Is
In the past when people have said the government is spying upon American citizens and conspiring to take rights away they were called “kooks”, “black helicopter people” and “conspiracy theorists” and characterized as crazy. In the past this might have passed for acceptable analysis but not anymore.
The current election disaster is an example of what can happen and is happening. If only a small percent of what is being said about cheating, dishonesty and vote manipulation is true it is still enough for the gallows to be built. My vote, your vote, anyone’s should be counted fairly and count equally. Anything less is and should be unacceptable to any honest American. Abuse of power is not a new thing in government and you can ignore it if you like but that does not make it untrue.
Past revelations about the NSAs massive intrusions into our privacy and the personal data of everyday American citizens are beyond argument. The continuing authorization of the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) is another intrusion into our rights which actually allows indefinite detention of American citizens without charges or a trial and is a direct violation of The U S Constitution. This sort of behavior by our government and their willingness to ignore our constitution and bill of rights all in the name of safety is getting more and more common. As one of the founders wisely said “Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin
Our government unfortunately has a long history of abusing their power. They have long been guilty of isolating and mistreating groups with whom they had a difference or could not control. Ask numerous Native American tribes including virtually all of the tribes who once called the southeast home. Native Americans were systematically disarmed, isolated and warehoused in “reservations” all in the name of some national greater good. More recently when we entered World War II virtually all Japanese Americans were disarmed, rounded up and held captive in “camps” again for the greater good of the nation. These Japanese Americans were loyal patriotic American citizens who had done nothing wrong and many of whose children were in the US military at the time.
Our government has become bloated, arrogant, wasteful and controlling. They think they can and should control everything and that they know better than we do. The government wants to dictate what we need, what we should eat and how we should live. This position is being pursued even while they exhibit a continuing record of failure, waste, cronyism and corruption. Any thinking individual should begin to doubt the wisdom and direction of a leadership which has failed repeatedly and as for one I certainly doubt they have my best interest at heart.
Historically many of our rights are what would be termed God given naturally derived rights and one of these rights is liberty. Liberty is not granted by men or governments, it exist simply because we exist. This does not mean that it comes naturally to the rest of the world to allow us possess it though. On the contrary people in the past have had to defend this liberty and fight to keep it. We are at a point where tyranny once again creeps in and we must stand up to it and start to call it what it is.
Just For The Record
Just for the record, the fall holidays are called Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!!! They are not called Fall Festival, Harvest Festival, and Winter Holiday!!! I am so tired of the busybody politically correct types trying to insulate everyone from everything! They seem intent upon addressing mythical grievances and correcting problems that do not exist.
In my youth, I spent many Halloween nights trick or treating with ghouls and goblins and have suffered no ill effects. I do not know anyone who has been scarred for life by these events. I don’t know even one devil worshiper, axe murderer, or evil person who was set on their course by dunking for apples at the elementary school on the 31st of October. On the other hand I remember, happily, many events related to this particular holiday. Why does it seem some people in our society are intent upon taking away these little joys from our children? They will be grown up soon enough, let them be kids for a while!
Thanksgiving is a tradition which is complete with stories of early settlers, some true, some embellished, but all containing good lessons of cooperation and kindness. Why take away these stories and memories? Are the real stories so much better or of greater value? And a “Harvest Festival,” what is that about besides being some sort of made up politically correct stuff? How many people even know anything about harvesting anything these days? Seems to me a minority is again trying to impose their will on the rest of us for no good reason.
Christmas will always be Christmas no matter what some idiot busybody says or thinks. It’s a holiday to celebrate, a central event in Christianity. If you oppose it, don’t celebrate it! Taking a Christmas holiday must not bother atheists or other faiths too much because I have not noticed any of them volunteering to work, go to school, or otherwise continue a normal non-holiday schedule in place of Christians during that time.
We really don’t have to put up with the constant assault upon our culture and values. Most of these stupid ideas are presented and perpetuated by a minority who really don’t have any power beyond what we allow them to have. If we refuse to go along with them they fail. Just keep on saying Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas and create new memories and traditions for our children and ignore the self-appointed meddlers.
PASS THE SALT
My wife and I once watched a History Channel program about The Bible in which they systematically criticized much of what we as Christians believe while ignoring a lot of historical documentation and undisputed archeological facts. I was left with the belief that there was an agenda other than presenting historical facts. To me the program was nothing less than an attack on Christianity and the Jewish faith with no mention or criticism of any other belief system. This treatment of Christianity on television made me question how I have been spending my free time or should I say how I have been wasting it.
We were left with renewed purpose and a determination to use our time better. I also came to a realization about just how much of my time I have wasted on this so called entertainment. I have now chosen to read, watch classic movies and listen to music more. Consequently we have cancelled our satellite subscription and I disassembled the satellite equipment and threw it all into the trash pile. I can get the weather and local news free via the antenna I put back up in place of the dish.
Hollywood once produced great dramas and comedies that anyone could watch and enjoy. Now it seems sex, violence and the glorification of deviance and criminal behavior are all they can come up with. They seem to have a real distain for our way of life and hold us up to ridicule at every opportunity. They seem to want to imply that they are superior and know better than we do about almost every subject. It is rare these days to see something I feel is remarkable or worth watching. The proliferation of “reality” shows which I equate to watching a slow motion train wreck confounds and confuses me. I cannot understand exactly how watching other people’s dysfunction is entertainment. These days I am drawn to old black and white movies and classics produced a long time ago by people who had a story to tell.
The Holy Bible has a lot to say about how we spend our time and what sort of things we should feed our spirit with. I believe a lot of what is wrong with our country is a result of how we spend our time. What we place value on says a lot about who we are and how far all of us have fallen. I can only speak for myself but am sure I have wasted much of the precious time I have been given on things that don’t matter at all. We are supposed to be “the salt of the earth” and that salt comes from how we feed our spirit. The real significance of that is that if we do not flavor the world with good it will surely be flavored with bad. I believe now more than ever Christian’s need to PASS THE SALT!!
As The Seasons Change
As the seasons change my heart and mind turn to the holidays and thoughts of days past. My memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas always bring mixed emotions of happiness and sadness. These days most of my family has gone on and our celebrations are small and subdued, but the memories they left behind are fresh and real. I wonder how many others are in similar circumstances and what we can do to make things better. I believe that we can remember those gone ahead of us and celebrate the holidays joyfully mentioning them often. This effort is good for us and helps to create memories and traditions for the youngsters to learn.
One of my happiest childhood memories is fireworks!!! We always made a big thing of gathering supplies and attempting to create the largest explosions possible. My brother, cousins, friends and I carried on with great enthusiasm to achieve earth shattering displays. These days I still carry on this tradition alone with the same joyful determination. In part I do it to honor those who are no longer here to witness it. I don’t care what others think about my actions and in my heart I believe those gone know what I am doing and are smiling.
The joy in the faces of little ones is still real and so refreshing to me. The happiness I see when I talk to little children about Thanksgiving and Christmas is evident and infectious. What we leave behind is critical for the future and takes little effort on our part. A smile, a comment or a kind word to a stranger has untold effect. We really never know what impact a small gesture of kindness has for someone. And we don’t even need to know, we just need to do it. Look someone directly in the eye, smile and say something kind. Kindness does not cost anything and most certainly does no harm. There is even medical evidence that kindness and a peaceful spirit is physically good for you!
Find someone in your life to help over the holidays. I am sure we all know someone, a family or individual, who is struggling in this economy, is alone, or who might not have much of a holiday planned. There is no need for recognition; you can do things anonymously which in my experience is even more rewarding. In the case of someone living alone, invite them to be part of your holiday celebration. In the case of a family struggling, buy them what they need for a special meal. Toys for children don’t cost much but can have a tremendous effect in one little life. Small acts of kindness, as taught by Christ, have untold rewards. Yes it is a fact that you cannot change the world but you CAN change the world around you!
Sometimes I think we all wait for someone else to “do something” when what we need to do is to be that someone. I don’t need an organized group or government program to make an impact, I just need to act. Our country was founded by brave people who were willing to step out, act on their own and take chances. Sometimes they failed but at least they were willing to act! Now it is time for us to take that example and do our part.
I Don’t Believe In Okra!
I am a child of the 50s, a WWII baby boomer with all the experiences that time brings. My dad was in charge of everything, and we ate what my dad liked, and my dad liked okra! I on the other hand after experiencing a constant diet of the stuff have decided that it might not even be a food product. I think perhaps it is but a carefully crafted prank played by Southerners on the rest of the world. A sort of “hey, let’s see if we can get the rest of America to eat this alien looking weed!” Having said that I suppose I can say wholeheartedly “I don’t believe in Okra!” I however would never impose my beliefs on others, be offended by its consumption by others or get all indignant when I see it for sale or growing in a garden. And I certainly would never attempt to deny others the pleasure of consuming it.
Why then can a small minority of Americans who claim they don’t believe in God inflict their lack of belief on the rest of us? Why should they expect us to cater to them when they claim to be offended by our beliefs? How can you be offended by something you claim doesn’t exist and that you don’t believe in? That is like being offended by Unicorns!
In the public arena non-believers seem to always be highly offended and fall back on the old worn out myth of the “separation of church and state” that is so often pointed toward when someone wants to deny religious freedom to someone else.
The First Amendment of The US Constitution simply states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” The US Constitution simply requires that the US government refrain from setting up and or controlling religion. Remember our founders came from a country which controlled the church and were leaving to achieve religious freedom. Many years later a minority has co-opted a statement made by Thomas Jefferson to stifle public prayer, remove Christian symbols and expressions of Christianity from public arenas and inflict their minority opinion on the rest of us who are content to let everyone alone about the issue.
Maybe it is time for us to stand up to these busy bodies and just say no! If God offends you, if seeing a symbol causes you distress, if hearing someone pray hurts your feelings, get over it, get a life and stop ruining it for the rest of us! Many things in life truly offend me and cause me distress. I find some attitudes and behavior by others terribly distressing. I however learned a long time ago that I cannot fix everything by outlawing it. Sometimes you just have got to let it be, pray about it and move on. And always remember I don’t believe in Okra!!!
Where Are Our Leaders Now?
It was a Sunday morning early in the year 1776. In the church where a Pastor Muhlenberg preached, it was a regular service for his congregation, but a quite different affair for Muhlenberg himself. Pastor Muhlenberg’s text for the day was Ecclesiastes 3 where it explains, ‘To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted…’” Coming to the end of his sermon, Peter Muhlenberg turned to his congregation and said, “In the language of the holy writ, there was a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away.” As those assembled looked on, Pastor Muhlenberg declared, “There is a time to fight, and that time is now coming!” Muhlenberg then proceeded to remove his robes revealing, to the shock of his congregation, a military uniform.
Marching to the back of the church he declared, “Who among you is with me?” On that day 300 men from his church stood up and joined Peter Muhlenberg who said “I am a Clergyman it is true, but I am a member of the society as well as the poorest layman, and my liberty is as dear to me as any man, shall I then sit still and enjoy myself at home when the best blood of the covenant is spilling? … So far am I from thinking that I act wrong, I am convinced it is my duty to do so and duly I owe to God and my country. From ~Heritage of the Founding Fathers
As Adolf Hitler and the Nazis seduced a nation, bullied a continent, and attempted to exterminate the Jews of Europe, a small number of dissidents never wavered from speaking the truth to evil. One of these was Dietrich Bonhoeffer—a pastor and author who exhibited incredible moral courage in the face of monstrous evil. He escaped Germany only to leave the safe haven of America to return to Hitler’s Germany to actively fight against what he perceived as pure evil. Bonhoeffer ultimately was executed at age 39 by Hitler rather than take one step back from his faith and beliefs and spoke publicly against it until he was executed. One of Bonhoeffer’s many quotes was; “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” And “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” And finally “Not in the flight of ideas, but only in action is freedom. Make up your mind and come out and into the tempest of the living.”
After reading about these men it made me ashamed of my own weak efforts to speak out and caused me to resolve to do more. The information also generated this question; where are our modern clergy heroes, where are our preachers now and why do I not hear their voices crying out night and day about the evil and corruption around us? Why do they seem to hold their tongue when politicians flatly lie to us and drives our nation further and further from our founding principles? Where are they when they praise Planned Parenthood which is an organization whose sole purpose is the wholesale slaughter of the unborn? Where are they when leadership condones and approves behavior which is clearly ungodly and destructive to marriage and to our society as a whole in condoning same-sex marriage? I don’t have anything but respect for the clergy, but they have a powerful position and could be doing a lot more to speak truth to evil. They need to get out from behind the pulpit and into “the tempest of the living”!! We surely need them now and our nation needs them. As the great pastors once did they need to stand up and lead or forever become irrelevant.( something I wrote for a newspaper in 2013 )
Single Minded Obsessions and Romans 14
A recent event brought to mind just how easily we all become overly focused on a subject. Thursday I had an appointment in Dothan with my lung doctor. This was not due to a new problem but to follow up on some new medication Id tried. As Catherine calls them ‘ well baby checks ‘ lol, she is funny with her truth. Anyhow there has been no understanding or communication that wearing a mask was required, also not with my primary or the dentist office or anywhere else so when we got there and they insisted I wear one I asked ” why, what is your reasoning? “. Their answer was NOT acceptable to me. Their answer to me was ” because of the governors mandate ” The answer was not because it protected me or anyone else, no scientific or medical position or logic at all. To me this is unacceptable in a medical environment. I would expect this response in a store or business but not there, and I responded as I saw appropriate, I left.
My point in this all is I am going to do what I think right for me, not others, not even Catherine just me. Also I’m not trying to convince anyone else about this subject. Just the opposite. You should do what you think is necessary and appropriate for your situation and I support this. And just as importantly you have no right or the ability to convince me I am wrong. Saying we wear a mask and look how it is helping etc….etc….etc..does nothing because you cannot prove a negative simply by giving yourself or your behavior credit for something that didn’t happen. That is not how logic and reasoning works. All of this thought brought me to Romans 14.
If you have not studied Romans as a whole I strongly encourage you to. I believe it is a concise, detailed instruction book on how to live. Romans 14 specifically tells us how we are NOT supposed to relate to others and their behavior. It brings to mind one of my jokes about alcohol. I’ve said before, ” you are Baptist but I am not so I can take a drink if I want to ” That is the heart of Romans 14, you believe it is wrong and so it is for YOU, I do not so in my life it is not wrong. But also I should NOT try to convince you that you are wrong either. See how it works? There are a lot of subjects in scripture that are already very well dealt with like stealing and murder and such and this is not about that. This about the other things we do or don’t do in our lives not so well detailed. If at this point you don’t get it re-read Romans 14.
You know the events of 2017 created a LOT of physical and emotional change and some of it was NOT easy to accept. I spent my life, 42 years of it hiding in my work. It was the only place I could go where the self condemnation and the voices got quieter. The only place where I felt I had value in this life, or so I thought. Self condemnation is a powerful thing, it makes you think you have no value, you cannot come back from your failures. It destroys a Christian’s testimony and make you what I’ve called ‘a useless Christian’, that is what I was. My behavior, my poor choices destroyed a life, destroyed my family and left me alone, starting over in my 40s, all I knew to do was work. Then 2017 happened and what a wonderful blessing it was but along with the good there were and are physical changes which were part of it that will never change.
All of this came to a head recently, I suppose I was avoiding accepting these changes totally but I had to. I have always been in demand in my work. I get on average an offer a week from all over the world. Want to work in Thailand? want to work in Africa? want to work in China? want to work in Panama? etc….etc…etc..and I had been saying and responding all along, not yet maybe later. Recently I got an offer to return to Alaska, a place I loved to work and an offer almost too hard to believe, and my first impulse was to take it. But then reality kicked in. The conclusion was I am not able to stand the brutal travel and huge distances, the severe weather not to mention the 18hr days anymore.
What brought it all to a head was a book, one of many left behind by my mother called We Would See Jesus, a book about having a deeper relationship with God. One paragraph burned into my heart. It says, ” we must be able to be honest about ourselves with ourselves to move into a deeper understanding of Jesus ” Somehow I needed that and for the first time I spoke words I never thought I would to others but much more importantly to myself. ” I cannot do this anymore, I am not physically able to do it, I am done with that part of my life ” It sounds sad or something but it was really like removing a weight id carried for over three years. Damn I’m stupid sometimes. God will always make a way, he already has, we have our farm, we have cattle and food to eat every day, all we need happens and always will.
On April 3,2017 God started to move in my life but at the time it was just a regular day. We went over to the barn to feed cows ahead of a brewing storm. About the time we loaded feed onto the truck the storm started. We rushed to get into the truck and move away from everything to avoid debris. About the time we rounded the barn and faced west we watched a tornado destroy the property line between us and John and Jean Sport about 100 yards away, an amazing sight in and of itself. This storm did a lot of destruction here and later in Luverne, Al. but as miracles usually are NO injuries ! But here it created a lot of new work, clearing the fence, resetting posts and re-stretching barbwire to keep the cows in. As I was working and as I got exerted I felt something I’d never felt before. Not pain, but a weird discomfort in my neck…..if I sat and rested a few minutes it would subside, so I worked that way for days. In conversation with Catherine my wife we decided that it might be something to check into. After I completed my work and got the cows settled back in I made an appointment with a Cardiologist for a few weeks later. Nothing much changed and I didn’t think much was wrong, so I didn’t worry a lot about upcoming events. Never had any chest pain or anything to believe my heart was bad or had been damaged from the Rhabdomyolysis Id had in the 90s, nothing like that. Little did I know anything about how the next few months would play out for us all but God did.
My Heart Needed Fixing
A few weeks after the storm event at the farm I kept my appointment at the Cardiologist. I was examined, tested, hooked up to equipment etc…and they came away from it all that I probably needed a catheterization to look at my heart. They said possibly I might need a stint which is a sort of wire reverse Chinese puzzle to keep arteries open. That was scheduled for the next week, and we went home not really worried about it. I had seen it help a lot of people including my dad and felt like it would all be fine. On the day of the procedure we went in and did all that it takes to do that sort of stuff. I was still not worried until during the cath the cardiologist said….” Oh jeez, I cannot do a stint, it is much worse than I even thought…you need open-heart surgery” and then he showed me what he was looking at on the screen. It didn’t look good but I thought I would back away, regroup and get it done later but NOOO…he told me I might not make it back if I left, I needed it done now, it was that critical. So we talked and I finally agreed after much resistance, some food and some prayer. They scheduled my open-heart surgery for the next day and after a blurry night the day was upon us. We were far from ready for the events of that day but it came fast and what a day it was.
What Could Go Wrong Did Go Wrong
Now I don’t really remember the night before open-heart surgery, something Catherine says is not abnormal given the events that followed. I went through surgery successfully getting 5 bypasses. Everything went ok but after I was closed up, and they started to move me off the operating table I had a massive heart attack. The surgery crew immediately broke my chest back open with the surgeon pumping my heart with his hand for 11 minutes. I had so-called beating heart surgery and was therefore not on a heart machine nor had I been, so he had to do something fast. They finally got me hooked up to a bypass machine but by that time my heart was enlarged from all that was done, and I was comatose from the medications used to keep me living. They couldn’t close my chest due to that swelling then, so I went to the SAMC CCU. I went back to surgery three days later to close my chest up which was uneventful by comparison. By that time it was discovered I had had what was characterized as many strokes, not mini but many like they didn’t know how many. Catherine said my brain scan looked like a night sky all lit up. My brain had been showered with stuff from the heart attack and that causes real problems. It was becoming apparent that I might not survive at all and if I did would most likely be in a vegetative state at best. From May 23 till about June 17 time stood still for me, not for everyone else but to me it was like a second in time. Prayer warriors and friends covered us with hope and prayers and supported Catherine with help and kindness nonstop. Our farm was run by neighbors without even being asked out of sheer love and kindness. Our livestock looked after all that time by kind loving neighbors who were never asked to help. Doctors were preparing for the worst, talking to Catherine about ” terminal weans” and death related stuff, but she never quit praying, never gave up on me and believing God was in control no matter what ultimately happened good or bad. She stayed with me days on end holding my hand and praying for a miracle but never seeing any change.
A Million Little Things
Totally unexpectedly by anyone one day in mid June I started to move and wake slowly, at first moving a leg and a foot which scared the life out of Catherine when I did. She went screaming into the hall for the nurses that day. I did not move much but eventually I opened my eyes following movement but never speaking, not moving my head at all just my eyes. I remember very little of this time and most of it has been told to me. I was on a vent and had been long enough to have been shifted to a tracheotomy. The earliest thing I remember when I was able to think is a feeling of fearlessness and joy and not the least bit worried. I think from that time on I KNEW I had forgiven myself, something God had already done long ago. During all the time I was comatose there was no magical revelations, no meeting with angels, no talking with God…. nothing, just darkness. Time stood still…to me those days were a moment in time from May 23 till late June and were like a second in time to me…..BUT as I awoke I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. Catherine tells me a story about the song Hallelujah that a hospital ministry kid sang one day. I was awake sort of, eyes open following movement but not moving anything else. One day a volunteer came in and asked if he could sing and play for us. Catherine agreed and he sang Hallelujah a song about King David’s failings and recovery. She said my eyes never left him the whole time he sang. I don’t remember any of those days but somehow the 30 year self inflicted darkness in my life was gone forever and I knew God loved me and had forgiven me years before. And more surprising finally I knew I had finally forgiven myself. As I improved I searched my mind for an understanding of the events and their meaning. I talked with everyone who came in my room trying to understand. One lady I saw every day was a housekeeper and clearly a child of God named Teresa. I asked her, why me, what is my purpose here, why did God spare me. I’m nobody, she said words I’ll never forget. ” Maybe he did it so you could tell others about what he did here, and to share the joy”..That’s it…no huge thing, no African mission trip, no speaking engagements, no preaching…just talk about it. I came home in early July to begin what we hoped was an uneventful recuperation but NOOO…8 weeks in I had a lung collapse from a lung disease discovered thru this event and I was facing another surgery…after two weeks more in the hospital I finally came home for good on September 1 2017 we hoped.
From that time till now has been one day filled with joy followed by another. The knowledge that God loves me and never leaves me to fight alone overcomes everything I have to deal with. It has taken physical therapy to learn to walk again, memory and speaking came slow but rest and hard work has paid off. I still struggle physically with things I don’t talk about but I feel blessed to even be writing this. Recently I asked God why he let me stay, he told me this one thing… ” you will do a million little things “.
I too have had come to terms like this. This is a thought provoking read. Thank you for sharing your…
Nice work, Neil! Well said.
That was quite the day. Glad you are here to tell the tale. Nice post! email came through and comment…