Thursday, September 30, 2010
You say, really? How likely is it that we are going to be caused harm by a lover of darkness? Well, have you ever been gossiped about? Lied about? Charged with a wrong of which you are innocent? These events are all specific types of suffering and they can often occur as a result of the fact that we are servants of the Most High. Learning how to endure that kind of discomfort and pain, and to respond with patience and love, laying down our "rights"to vindictiveness or retribution honors God and will be rewarded by Him in His Kingdom. And there are many,many people in this world who stand to lose more than their reputation or job for the sake of Christ. Their lives are endangered and are often lost as a consequence of their love for Jesus and because of the mere fact that they wear His name and are identified with Him. Many, many thousands of lives are lost annually because of this. Countless endure arrest, imprisonment, slavery, torture and worse for the same reason. You may not know this fact, because it is not one that the media publicizes but it is a very true fact, verified by eyewitnesses, pictures, and the testimonies of those who endure it as a part of their lives or who have escaped from it to come and give witness to that truth here, where, thus far, we still have freedom to worship and call ourselves "Christians"...
What does this have to do with my last post? The time will come, and is drawing very near, when our liberty to worship and serve the Lord Jesus will become imperiled and possibly outlawed. Persecution is not far away from this country too. So what does my enduring chronic pain have to do with that? My friends, I have committed myself to bring honor to Christ, regardlless of what this life brings me. I have committed myself to do whatever it is that I do in His honor and in His strength. That includes enduring pain. And what use can God make of that? Well, for example, when the time comes, when possibly I might have to endure hardship, pain and suffering as a result of bearing the name of Christ, then all the training that I got enduring this chronic pain, will come in handy. I will have endurance, joy, peace, patience....and be READY to persevere until the end.
But, you say, what if that persecution does not come in my lifetime? Well, I still will have had my character molded and it will be stamped with the imprint of the character of Christ. And when other hardship comes my way, I will not be destroyed by it; I will not "curse God and die" when trials come, but rather, will be more ready to face them; more prepared to bring God glory through the way that I manage myself in the midst of them.
And too, I do believe, that Jesus is honored -- and even delighted-- when we, out of love and passion for Him are so willing to walk in the path that He walked, that we are ready to embrace the pain and suffering of life and to lie ourselves down on that cross and invite the nails.
This kind of view is not popular today. No. It went out of style with the Puritans and the likes of great men like Jonathan Edwards. Today, the ecstacies, the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit are popular. Healing is popular. The "joy of the Lord" is popular. Loud worship is popular. And all of that has it's place. But I believe that the discipline and the life of the cross has much to teach us...and we have lost immense treasures when we spurned that, thumbed our noses at suffering...and rather, insisted that God heal us of every twinge and claimed that healing, rebuked our suffering...refused to learn from it; refused to be shaped and sharpened by it. And as a consequence, here I would make a bold statement...but one that I wholeheartedly believe is true: As a result, there is MUCH that we do not know of the character of Christ. Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Did he "rebuke" every sorrow and hardship that came his way? NO. He learned obedience from what he suffered. Obedience and submission are NOT popular terms or concepts today. Discipline is equally disdained. But all of these are so sadly lacking in Christ's followers. And they are so central to the character of Christ ... and how else are we to learn them, except in the same manner that He did? --By submitting in humility to the suffering in our lives, determining beforehand that we will honor Christ and seek to learn to respond like Him to each one of these lessons that suffering will bring our way.
And this does NOT result in a thin-lipped narrow-minded follower of Christ!!! NO!!! It results in joy and in freedom! why? Because not the world, nor anything in it, will have the power to shake us off course from our pursuit of Jesus. We will have no fear! And when that cancer comes, or death comes to visit us or those we love, our faith will be on solid rock...unshakeable and unthreatened by catastrophe or suffering. And, God forbid our freedom to worship should be removed? We will hold fast. And we will NOT deny the name and honor of our Lord, no matter WHAT shall come our way as a consequence. And this strength brings freedom and joy.
And just having the intimacy with Christ that comes as we depend on HIm alone for comfort in our pain...that leads us too to an ecstacy of joy and worship unlike any other. It is not fluff. It is not pumped up by charismatic preaching...but which will crumble and flee at the first sign of hardship....NO, It is solid ...unmoveable. Secure. Faith built on a Rock which cannot be moved. And our faces will shine with the love and knowledge of the ONE for whom we have given up all our "rights" to a painfree existence...And that existance is really only a fairy tale any way; one that would either have to flee, crumble, go mad, or pretend to be strong, but which would be only pretence in the face of pain.
There is much more to be said about the way and the delights of the cross. But I think I've given you enough to consider for now. I hope this clarifies my prior post to your understanding. This is the path to which I've committed myself. And to which I now am returning.
I apologize. I'd forgotten who I am. I'd forgotten why I'm here. And I was going about life all wrong.
For those of you who know anything about me, you know that I suffer from poor health and intractable and severe pain. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I've been going through a time of especially severe pain. And the REASON that you know this, is that I've been going about things all wrong.
Today, in reading My Utmost for His Highest, (my most-often used source other than Scriptures), I came nose to nose with a very unpleasant truth about myself which I need to share with you, because I need to confess and to apologize to you for approaching the pain in my life with a very backwards and yes, sinful, attitude. Oswald Chambers has a key phrase/concept in his writing, which was also evident in his life, and that was: the importance and need for us to become "broken bread and poured out wine;"--to make ourselves living sacrifices (as Scripture puts it in: Romans 12:1 ) and to "pick up our cross daily and follow Him," as Matt. 10:38 puts it. In other words: to place ourselves into God's hands and allow Him to crush us and shape us in any manner which suits His pleasure and purposes is the highest goal and honor of the disciple of Christ. To emulate His humble acquiescence to the horror of the cross in order to demonstrate our love for Him is what the true student of the cross should seek to do in every aspect of their lives.
And to this purpose, years ago, I pledged myself. However, over the years, as my pain and suffering has not diminished but rather has intensified, I found myself beginning to seek comfort from the people around me, rather than deriving my solace in God alone. I fear that, in so doing, I have then "received my comfort" just as the Pharisee who prays aloud on the street corners has "received his reward" as he receives the accolades of man. I'd forgotten how sweet is the solace of God. I have discovered, however, the shallowness and unsatisfactory appeal of the comfort of men.
I had a growing sense of disgust with myself; an intensifying sense that I was not pleasing God and was merely annoying people...but I persisted. Because pain like this NEEDS some kind of comfort, some kind of reward...and I forgot, completely, that the only real source of that is to be found in the arms of my Father.
There is great danger in the path I was pursuing. It would lead, could only lead to alienating all the human friends I have--both by their annoyance and helplessness in the face of my need and also through my sense of discouragement and lack of satisfaction with what they are able to offer me. Also due to the alienation that comes when one realizes that NO ONE can comprehend or relate to what I am experiencing...This leads to discouragement and to rejecting people simply because their experiences lack the resources for them to understand what I am going through.
And the GREATEST danger of all is this: that I would have forfeited the comfort of the Father, the reward of Heaven and thwarted God's purpose in allowing that suffering in the first place, thus, making it completely senseless and pointless-- and therefore a sad waste of a life. (By forfeiting the reward of Heaven, I do not mean that my acting in this manner would have resulted in my not going to Heaven. I mean, rather, that I would not APPRECIATE the comfort and relief to be found there as fully or in the manner in which it was intended for me; I would not receive the great reward granted to those who walk in the path of the cross.)
I understood all this years ago ...but in the grinding, never-ending cycle of pain filled days...I forgot what it was about. I'd forgotten that I'd stepped into the pyre and given the executioner my permission to light the match. I forgot that my purpose was to please my Jesus and to be used by Him in WHATEVER MANNER He should choose to use me. I forgot how sweet is His comfort and how strong is His strength which He offers to me and to all who suffer for Him. And I'd settled for something far less satisfying in every respect. And in so doing, I lost my joy.
I'd become a victim rather than a disciple.
My Lord, forgive me.
My friends, forgive me.
-- I'd expected from you what you could not give. And I'd tired you by my repeated efforts and my refusal to understand that it was not yours to give. As you know, Einstein said that the definition of insanity is to repeat the same action over and over and to expect a different result. And that's what I was doing.
I do not think that it is too late to pick up my cross again and to follow Him. If it was, He would not have given me today's devotion, so aptly timed, this morning. So, I will curl up, next to my Father's heart, slip my hand into His,...and zip my lips about my pain from now on! God knows; God understands; God will use it...and that's enough!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Yesterday, the Pastor brought him to the front because he'd asked to be prayed for. The pastor first talked to us about faith...and asked us whether or not we REALLY thought that God would/could heal Matt. Now, the knee-jerk reaction is to say, "of COURSE God can heal him." But when people really, really ask themselves that, I think a lot of times, what they find about their faith, can make them feel very uncomfortable.
We prayed for Matt.
Now, I've seen God do some incredible and undeniably supernatural things before. And He's healed me of some things in my past also...One thing; miraculously. So, I prayed, knowing well that God could do this without effort. I felt comfortable with my faith and my level of certainty.
I prayed for Matt, the intensity of my desire to see him healed causing tears to run down my cheeks. Sometimes I think that my most powerful prayers are just that: simple intense desire to see God do something. They are usually wordless prayers...but they come from the pit of my stomach and the depths of my soul. And I almost always am certain and sure that God has heard and will respond after I've prayed that way. So Iwas pretty sure that something amazing was going to happen in church yesterday as all around me, people prayed with hands upraised and tears flowing.
And it did.
Matt straightened up; took the hand from his stomach where he'd held it in pain; his face relaxed...and when the pastor asked him how he felt, he said. "HUNGRY"...which, evidentally he hadn't felt in a very long time. And at the coffee fellowship following church, he ate. When eating in the past would guarantee him rolling on the floor in agony and a trip to the ER.
And do you know what I thought, when Matt said, "hungry" ?
I thought, "no "WAY!"
I thought, "Maybe Matt feels pressured to act well, in the face of all these prayers, and he is just SAYING that. "
Immediately, I was ashamed. And appalled. And I asked myself..."Is your faith really so impoverished, that you cannot believe he is healed?? And how could you be CERTAIN a moment ago that God could and would heal...and now you question??
I'm not really sure what the answers to those questions are. I think it's something in the area of:
I know God CAN...but I was uncertain that He WOULD.
I have to ask myself "why?" Why am I so hesitant to believe in God's willingness to heal us?
I think it is because I myself have been sick for many many years.
I've prayed with great intensity and desire for God to heal me.
I've been annointed with oil numerous times and had many elders and ministers pray over me.
I've BELIEVED that God would heal me.
And he hasn't.
And in time, I've come to understand that, for some inexplicable reason, this illness and this pain, is God's plan for me - at least for now.
It has given me great empathy for those who suffer.
It has made me long for heaven with an indescribable intensity.
It has increased my "longsuffering" and patience.
It has raised my threshold for pain and for suffering, so I am able to tolerate much more than most people...and more than I used to.
And I believe that it has greatly increased my power in prayer. (odd, isn't it, that a "NO" answer to my prayer would increase the power of my prayers for other people? But it has.)
But why would God's 'No' to me, make me dubious of his good intent towards others? I think it's partly because Matt has suffered for so LONG...and because so many other prayers have been offered in his behalf throughout the years. I myself have prayed for him many times. So I found it hard to believe that God would choose to make THIS time different. Although, I could see from the emotion and intensity of desire around me, that THESE prayers were certainly more powerful. But is God swayed by more or less powerful praying? Doesn't he pretty much do what he's determined to do, regardless?
Ahhh. Here is the very crux of prayer.
Why do we bother to pray?
Why should we pray with clean hearts?
Why should we pray with pure faith?
Why do we bother to ASK God for the things we need/desire?
These things apparently DO matter to God. They carry weight.
So, I wonder...if I went up there....me, for whom people have prayed for years and years....and people prayed and wept for ME, would God "change his mind"?? Would he heal me?
Now, I don't believe we can make demands of God or twist his arm....but what if God has just been waiting for me to take a risk like that...to lay it on the line?
Could I even do that?
Could I bear the disappointment of not being healed?
Could I bear the risk of being healed?
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I HATE that expression. It brings to mind a desperate, fingernail-clinging to a steep cliff, a picture of someone barely surviving, both physically and spiritually. That response is an old habit of mine; born of years where I truly was clinging to life; not because of illness but because of depression and desperation. I wish I could wash my mouth out with soap everytime I say it now, because it is WRONG!! I am NOT hanging in there! I am where God wants me to be. I am growing spiritually (although, that has not always been the case); I am learning to deal with the challenges God hands me daily and, even though sometimes they require the very last ounce of my resources, I am STILL victorious in Christ Jesus!
Yes, my body is always finding new ways to betray me and to challenge my resources of endurance...but my body is not the determining factor in how I am. My spirit is victorious because it is supported and held up by the power and love of the living God. And really, that is the most important factor. Years ago, my body was fine; and my mind and spirit were a train wreck...and the response, "Hanging in there" was truly accurate...because I was clinging to a thread and my survival was truly in jeopardy. However, now, when my physical existence is more tenuous than it was back then--my survival is truly more secure... My body is in God's hands and He will determine whether or not I have another day or year of life; and that is secure because I will not try to wrest it from the hands of God as I once did, in order to end it prematurely.
But back to the question, "How are you?" Here's the score card:
- Spiritually: growing.
- Phyically: struggling;
- mentally: (for once), stable.
So, two out of three ain't bad! Yes, there are times when I lie in bed in so much pain that my mind stumbles over it and asks God, "Why?" and "How much longer?" But those times rarely are tinted with despair now. With Desperation, yes. Despair, no. And USUALLY the consequence of those times is that I'm driven deeper into the arms of Jesus and into worship. And tell me, how can that be a bad thing?
Sunday, September 19, 2010
There was a blog post posted here which I wrote yesterday. It was a classic example of the struggle which I’m about to describe to you – and me losing in that struggle: or rather; ME winning in the struggle—and the life of God in me—losing. My pride and self-righteous annoyance over a certain situation prompted an arrogant and angry spurt of words…and I was foolish enough to publish it…not only here, but on Facebook. I’m sure you are curious to read the article in question if you missed it, but I removed it, lest a visitor to my blog should land on that particular post and get the wrong idea of my purpose here. I did not wish to jeopardize the mission which God has given me here, so it is now deleted.
Today in Sunday School, my pastor talked about a retreat he took last week to get his head straight and heart right with God. He talked to us in that class today, about the Spirit of God who abides in us or “makes His tabernacle in us” as it means literally in that passage of Scripture (John 14:23)…The tabernacle was the place where the glory of God rested. It was where God had His throne on earth before Christ paved the way for it to be in us through the Holy Spirit.
So if my body and my being are the dwelling place of God on this earth…what does that mean? How will it affect the things I do and how I live and the effect I have in this world? Well, today I also read Oswald Chambers again in My Utmost for His Highest for this date (9-19) and this short devotional pretty much summed up the praying, learning, and musing I’d been doing all day.
At first glance, if you were to read this devotional, you would think that the two topics are unrelated…but upon deeper thought Chambers pretty much sums up the response to the above questions. He is talking about us following Christ and staying with Him in the midst of his temptations. (The Scripture is Luke 22:28-some translations translate the word for “temptations” as “trials” but it really should be temptations). Chambers says that the temptations that we face are not OUR temptations but temptations to the life of Christ in us. Our temptations are HIS temptations and visa verse. HIS honor is in our hands and in our bodies. Will we uphold it or disgrace it? (Remember that the Glory of God and the Spirit of Christ make their home in us.)
This got me thinking about the fact that the disciples literally SLEPT while Christ struggled with his biggest temptation in the
So what exactly IS Christ’s temptation? I believe that the biggest one that He faced throughout His entire life was to put Him SELF in the driver’s seat and put God, His Father, in the back. Ye’shua (Jesus in Hebrew) continuously makes this statement during His earthly life “I do nothing of my own will but only the will of the One who sent Me” or “The words I speak to you are not my own but are the words of my Father in Heaven.” This was Christ making public His resolution to have victory over His biggest temptation which was to put His flesh and His flesh’s desires: for food, for sleep, for power, for taking the easy way instead of the RIGHT way, and for His very life and to put all of this ahead of the will of God who tabernacled in Him. And Jesus, I’m sure had a libido…so He must have struggled with those temptations as well…as well as the desire to marry and have a normal life and a family…But He was here on a mission.
Over the past months, I’ve lost sight of the mission that I’m on in this body and with this life of mine. I’ve put my own comforts and desires ahead of the will of Christ and the Father and the Spirit (who is the essence of both of them), who dwell in me. I’ve subdued and dampened the glory of God – which should have been shining brightly all around me wherever I go, bringing the very presence of God into all the places where I set my feet – and tried, instead, to shine the spotlight on myself. This was not a sudden or a conscious shift in my actions or attitudes. It was a slow erosion….but in the end…The life of God suffered in me and was dishonored. I chose my own comfort over my commitment.
I want to say here and now, “May the Spirit of the living God overshadow me. May HE shine brightly and may I fade into the shadow caused by his radiance. May I do nothing to hinder that radiance or to usurp His rule in my life. May He say of me in the end, that I too, stood with Him in His temptations.”
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I began to explore in my time of study and devotion with the Lord the other day, what exactly it IS that determines our level of commitment, passion and intimacy with the Lord. And God led me as I picked up my Bible to open it to Galatians and my eyes fell on verses 16 and 17 which read:
(17) For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh and these are in opposition to one another,
so that you may not do the things that you please.” (NASB)
Near the end of that chapter there was some space on the page where I’d written some notes. There was a paragraph which said this:
“When you are walking according to the Spirit, your choices will oppose the will and desires of the flesh. You CANNOT do whatever you want; speak whatever you want; eat whatever you want…SET YOUR MIND!
See: Romans 8:4 and Galatians 5:17.”
Here is a section of Romans 8 from the New American Standard Bible:
4...so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
I wondered to myself why my mind and my will are so weak when I AM a child of God? They seem to be powerless against these desires and forces, Aren't Christians supposed to have power over their desires and appetites?
I went to look at Romans 8, as the note suggested. Verse two gave the good news that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” This reminded me of something I’d read in Chambers recently and that was that we do NOT have to fight sin. Surprised? I was. Then he said, “Jesus has already battled sin on the cross and defeated it.” Yes, I knew that was true…but why…. ? Then he said that the battle we fight is the battle between our fleshly self and our spiritual self. They are constantly “duking it out” in order to determine which one will have dominance.
Yes, I could attest to the truth of that statement. I’d just read in Eph. 5 in my Key Word Bible that the word in Greek for desires is epithumia and that means the “desires of a diseased soul.” Ephesians 5:17 is quoted above (Please read it again.) That verse talks about this same internal boxing match which constantly takes place.
So what, I wondered, determines which side will have dominance and knock the other to the floor? Because, as I thought, I realized that my epithumia has been winning against my spirit’s desires for quite a while…as a result, it has gained power and momentum. What could stop it?
I recalled Paul’s words at the end of Romans 7,
And I remembered Eph. 5:16. (Look at it again above) “Walk by the Spirit.” Walking is not a one-time event. It is a process taking place over time; a journey. I had seen the phrase in verses 5 and 6 of Romans 8 (see above) “Set your mind.” It sounded simple enough, but then I realized that this “setting” must be a constant tuning of our mind to the frequency of the Spirit of God….a constant surrender of our wills to Him. And that is the difference between a decision and a resolution in my mind. A decision is a one time event of the mind. A resolution is the setting of the mind AND THE WILL; a continual resolve is needed to make a resolution successful.
Motivation can be hard to maintain, as I’ve discovered in my new healthier way of eating and exercising. It needs a constant charge; a constant refill, because you know, my motivation tank has a leak! And so we must also “keep on keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit,” (as it is literally translated from the Greek) just as Paul adjures us in Scripture.
So, it must begin with a decision and then work its way into a resolution – and we need to constantly firm up that resolve and build our motivation by prayer, Scripture study and reading and through hearing other believers speak (this is “edification:” the feeding of our spiritual motivation).
We cannot starve our spirit by giving up on prayer and study. We should also watch that we do not slack off on confession because, as I realized today, that is how these landslides begin: with a single rock falling.…And if that rock is not captured and brought into obedience (2 Cor. 10:3-4), soon the whole mountainside will come down into a pile of rubble.
“But,” you may ask, “Where’s the Passion??”
You may have noted that what I’d LOST was my passion…and the things I mentioned above DON’T sound very passionate. The passion comes when we tune our hearts to God’s Spirit and give Him constant “mind”…a constant awareness as well as obedience. The things mentioned are the fodder or the ground from which our passion can spring up (to mix metaphors)…Just as are the spiritual disciplines. As Richard Foster states in his book on Spiritual Discipline (by the same title); they provide the fertilizer or the rich soil from which grows our intimacy with Christ. And it is this intimacy that brings the passion, the love; the joy; the peace…yes, all of the fruits of the Spirit come, not merely from attending church…because, as I proved, one can do that and be withered up and hard inside…but from a heart that beats along with the heart of Christ, that hears His voice, and thinks His thoughts. And then, in a wonderful cycle, our passion will infuse new joy and delight into all of these disciplines themselves. So that they are not merely dry, dead requirements that we MUST carry out in order to have a relationship with the Lord, but they are, rather, wonderful and delightful expressions of a heart full of love.
note: all rights to this article are reserved by the author. For permission to copy or distribute, please contact Cynthia Lott Vogel (see sidebar)
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
My times of private study and devotion became more and more rare, until they were sporadic fits of guilt-ridden times when I was looking more at the clock than at God. When I read Scripture, I could not believe that once, I was driven from one passage to another and was filled with excitement when I read it...and that God showed me thing after thing which I needed to thrive spiritually. Now it was dry...boring...too familiar.
And I hated all of this, once I recognized the change in my heart. But I seemed to be powerless to stop it...One thing led to another...Awful words began to pour from my mouth...Anger and impatience were my predominant moods.... I thought, occasionally of my prior times of prayer and worship -- with longing and sadness. I would try to will them back into existence, but it seemed that God had turned His back and walked away.
I was able to maintain a good farce at church and Bible Study...but if there was anyone spiritually perceptive watching me; I' m sure they knew that my comments were prompted from my thoughts and past knowledge and not my heart and present experience. I was not setting out to deliberately fool anyone...because, you see, I was also fooling myself.
Recently, I made a decision...to spend just 15 minutes with God in my morning time...and I began to read Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest again. I've read it, as I've told you, many times...but God opened my eyes spiritually and began to pull Scripture passages together...and tidbits from sermons...and from here and there...until, this morning I was led to spend over an hour, going through the Bible and making connections.
I want to share with you what those connections are...but don't want this post to run too long. I promise I will bring it to you in the next day or two. Keep an eye open for it. Maybe your heart is on a treadmill and you are missing the open countryside where you once walked. Maybe you, too, feel like God has walked off somehow, leaving you to play church by yourself. If so, I hope these posts will help you. I pray they will.
note: all rights to this article are reserved by the author. For permission to copy or distribute, please contact Cynthia Lott Vogel (see sidebar)
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Today, I was reading the passage earmarked for this date (I must have worked my way through this devotional five or six times, and each time it is brand new)...and a thought really struck me powerfully that I wanted to share with you. The passage he was discussing was 2 Cor. 10:5, the second part of the verse. It goes like this: "Taking captive every thought and bringing it to the obedience of Christ."
Now, I've often heard that verse taken to mean that we are to "control, by God's power, our thoughts, especially random, distracting or disobedient ones"...However, as is often the case with Chambers, he had a completely different take on it. Based on the way the Moffat Bible translated this verse (that was a Bible paraphrase popular at the time of O.C.), Chambers took this verse to mean something more like this: "Discipline every project and bring it to captivity to Christ's obedience."
He said that Christ did nothing of his own will; he ONLY submitted to the will of the Father. This was supreme discipline. And all that he did was, likewise, disciplined. Christ was disciplined to obedience. And we too, because we are to "have the mind of Christ," need to learn to think like Jesus, ACT like Jesus, and to submit like Jesus. This is what leads to the "renewing of our minds."
What would this mean if it were to be carried out practically in our lives? It would mean that we would undertake NO project or activity, unless we knew it to be the will of the Father. And we would not even think a thought that was not aligned with the mind of Christ and his attitudes in this regard. Now obviously, that is an impossibly high and unobtainable feat....however that is to be our goal!!
To me, this was a novel thought: that I am supposed to want to think like Jesus did and have the same views of things and the same desire to please God that he did.... Now, I knew it was not right to harbor outright SINFUL thoughts...but I never quite thought about what "having the mind of Christ" really meant! And it is clear, from all the verses that I've quoted here, that this is precisely what God desires of us to become. We are to be as obedient to God, even in our thoughts, as Jesus was.
Wow. Do you find this as amazing as I do?? When I think about my mind...the way it works, it's impulses, it's LACK of discipline,...and then I think of what is would be like to be TRULY Christlike, not only in how I act, but in how I THINK....well, it seems impossible, doesn't it??
But thanks be to God, we don't attempt this alone!
Here are the two verses in 2 Corinthians 10 I would like to end with in this regard:
4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely
powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
5 We are destroying
speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and
we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
We have weapons to accomplish this that are not of this world! They are divinely powerful....
Monday, September 6, 2010
- be a runner
- or a ballet dancer
- run every morning and chase the sunrise
- run til I forgot everything on my mind
- travel to the Philippines
- be a missionary
- or at least go on short term missions projects
- work with the teens in our church
- drive the wheels off of my car
- go out shopping for the day...just anywhere I felt like going and stay as long as I wanted
- never be home
- I'd drive people who can't drive to appointments and shopping
- and I'd call them first, without waiting for them to call me, and I'd say "Where would you like to go?"
- I'd take meals to people who have trouble cooking for themselves
- I'd go to the doctor once every year,...instead of once or twice a week
- I'd not waste my life in waiting rooms
- I'd have to search to find my insurance card
- I'd park my car as far away from the store as possible
- I'd run til I forgot time...and I wouldn't gasp for breath
- I'd walk up a flight of stairs...and I wouldn't gasp for breath
- I'd go to the farmers' market...every day
- I'd begin juicing veggies and fruit and I would dedydrate produce also...because I would HAVE it.
- I'd have "baking days" and bake from morning til night
- I'd always have stuff to bring to church fellowships
- I'd wash a sinkful of dishes all at once, not in shifts
- I'd nap only if I felt like it
- I'd sleep all night, not once awakened by pain.
- I'd sleep all night, not once awakened by pain. (and yes, that was deliberate)
I think that's enough...you get the idea.
Friday, September 3, 2010
That's how I felt yesterday. My pain was in a terrible flare (possibly due to the approaching hurricane and the low resulting barometric pressure) and I haven't slept more than an hour or two in a night in many weeks. Combine those two factors and you have a recipe for collapse. And I did. I even cried. And I am not a "crier." I finally called my pain management doctor whose male nurse called me back and I sobbed out, "I need help." Unfortunately in that conversation, I mentioned the word "jump" (as in: from something very high). This of course blew all the man's alarm buttons. It took me a while to calm him down and to understand that it was a FEELING and not a PLAN. And also to reassure him that that feeling had passed. And it had. Why? Because of a website that I'd found that morning.
The website: http://www.foresttennant.com/, is written by a doctor who is a pain specialist. And in this website he offers a large amount of literature which he has written for the person who suffers, not "chronic pain", but "intractable pain" (IP), which is, he explained, an entirely different condition...Much more rare (only about 1 in 1000 chronic pain sufferers actually have IP ), much more deadly (a person with untreated IP will suffer numerous physical problems as a consequence of the severity of the pain itself, many of which are life-threatening, and all of which are life-shortening.), and extremely difficult to treat and to manage.
He then put, in PDF files, some literature he'd written in a nice combination of medical terms and layman's terms, for the pain sufferer, many different recommendations and actual necessities for the IP patient to follow in order to attempt to manage their pain. Some of these were things that I'd already discovered for myself simply through many years of attempting to "self-manage" this illness. And some of them are things that I'd never heard of, but which make complete medical sense. He also displayed an admirable openness to herbal and supplemental remedies and recommended some of those as well. But none of it was "quackary"...and he wasn't selling anything! The information is all free and downloadable and was simply published on the web for the purpose of aiding people like myself.
So why am I telling you this? Because reading this website did three things for me:
1) It let me know that I am not crazy; it validated the fact that my pain is intensely different from the aches and pains of the people around me...and there is a NAME for it.
2) It showed me that I must get serious about treating this problem medically and not just toughing it out. There is no honor in that. It is only stupidity. And it will kill me.
This will involve taking ON A REGULAR BASIS, opiod medication - which I've already been taking...but on a regular schedule...so that there is no time, when I am without medication in my system. I'd been in a great state of denial. I was wrong in thinking that I could "beat" this pain into submission with my own "iron" will, because even while I was "enduring it" and even exercising despite it-- it was destroying my nervous system, my brain, and most of my internal systems...quietly and insidiously. In the end, the pain would win. And I stand to lose everything.
3) It gave me hope that there are still some treatments available which I had not yet tried. And they are not really difficult things to carry out. Some supplements, some exercises, new medications and combinations of medicines, a diet plan, the creation of topical creams which I could make myself using my own medicine, some supplements and a base, hot and cold, understanding my triggers and avoiding them, and most of all, an attitude. The attitude is one that knows that I have a serious, life-shortening illness, but rejoicing in life anyway. It is one that takes in all the facts and uses them to my own best advantage. It is one that works hand in hand with my doctors and pharmacists and doing everything in my power to survive despite my enemy: pain.
Now, how do I know that I have IP? Dr. Tennant carefully described the illness: its symptoms, its complications, the indicators of it, the damage that it does to one's body...and it was like reading my life story and my own medical history. I have IP secondary to spinal degeneration and joint degeneration and inflammatory arthritic disease. Not just ONE primary cause, but three. And in the list of problems that are caused by this disease? I have almost every single one of the physical and dangerous complications which result from having this.
There is a lot of ignorance out there about crippling pain...the kind of pain that goes on year after year. There is massive ignorance about opiod drugs and their importance and in fact, necessity in the treatment of some illness, IP being a good example. One of the reasons I'd resisted medical advice and not taken these drugs consistently despite my need for them, was that I KNOW that I will, once more, be lumped together with every drug addict and dealer imaginable. And I will constantly have to defend myself, my medical need and condition, and also to constantly attempt to educate people whose prejudices and ignorance runs deep... the list of the "ignorant and uninformed" includes pharmacists and some doctors and nurses as well, who believe (with the best intentions) that no one should take these drugs and that there is never any real need for them. I know that when I get admitted to hospitals, very likely, my medication will be taken from me and that I will have to fight--legally if necessary--to be able to get the care that I need. And I didn't want to deal with it all. But now I see what is at stake if I don't ....and it's no place that I want to go.