Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

How Can You Mend A Broken Heart

Adversity often pounds away at the human heart until the heart finally breaks. Then the questions flood the soul…

…what now?
…where do I go from here?
…who do I turn to at this point?
…when will my broken heart
feel better?

Making adversity even worse is the simple, yet profoundly terrible, truth that we never thought it would happen to us. Like the opening lines from the Bee Gee hit, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart:

“I can think of younger days
when living for my life was everything a man could want to do. I could never see tomorrow but I was never told about the sorrow.”

We’re just not prepared. Adversity is random. It’s out of contol. Unexpected most times.

But there is someone who specializes in mending broken hearts. If we’re listening, he’s letting us know all the time. Even while reveling in Michael Buble’s cover (my favorite version) of the Brothers Gibb timeless song, the Lord reminded me yet again with his word…

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:1-3

What once was a song to bring tears has now become a propellent for thanksgiving, because what was once unanswered is now no longer so. It’s not how can you mend a broken heart, but who has mended my broken heart.

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Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

In the Still of the Night

In the still of the night, more than any other time, my flesh begins to crawl. No, not like that…not the spooky afraid of the dark sort of thing. I’m referring to flesh in the biblical sense…those old memories, those hauntings, those willowy vestiges of a man long since dead. You know, the memories still lodged in my brain from a time before my Nic at Night moment.

Do you know about Nicodemus? You can read about him in The Gospel of John, chapter three. He came to Jesus during the night and this happened…

” ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.

Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.

How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!

Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.‘ ”

I’m not sure about Nicodemus, but I took Jesus at his word and my world changed. I changed. I was born again. Old habits died off. Old yearnings went away. Supernatural change was afoot. I received a new Spirit…but not a new body. My body is not yet redeemed. The brain can still process junk…if I allow it. This is the crawling flesh to which I refer. And, in the still of the night, the hauntings of the past arise. Slowly at first. Being tired, I sometimes fail to rush to the breech. I forget all I need do is submit to the Lord, listen for his word, and rest. If I linger too long sin finds an approach. My thoughts become my worst adversity. Then I pray…

Then I pray…and this happens…the word of God comes from the Spirit of God. Oh no, don’t misunderstand. It’s not inspiration. It’s not a “new word from the Lord.” It’s his word given by prophet, apostle, or Jesus himself and left for us in the Bible. When the flesh crawls his word is the last thing I look for or think of, but then the real me, my new spirit, once again becomes witness to the Holy Spirit testifying within me that I’m not that person anymore. I’m a child of God. Words like “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your lovingkindness in the morning and your faithfulness by night” (Psalm 92:1,2) begin to pour in. His word. His will. Meant for me…for peace…in the still of the night.

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Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

Late At Night When the Heart is Troubled

Late at night, when the heart is troubled, the Spirit of God whispers his word to my spirit, “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7). This is what King David knew to be true of the Lord. It is now the very real and tangible evidence of the presence of God for me. As Francis Schaeffer said, “He is there and he is not silent.” It is also the seed of a beautiful song of praise:
You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You
I will trust in You
Let the weak say I am strong
In the strength of the Lord

And, if it was true for King David, it’s true for us when Jesus is on our throne. Amen. Come on tomorrow!

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Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

If You’re Going Through Hell…

One reference attributed the following quote to Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Seems they were wrong. Upon further research, it seems the quote’s been used, modified, and used yet again over and over. The best I am able to tell, the original came from the Christian Science Monitor from sometime early last century. I decided against using the quote. Why? Well, not so much because of its dubious background, but on account of the simple fact that it is so terribly incomplete. Sure, such platitudes are nice…
“When the going gets tough the tough get going.”

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

“Just do it.”

However, that’s not how the Lord sees it. When adversity is due to no fault of your own, the Lord never asks you to plow through, to find your way through on your own, to light your own way through. In fact, to do so will make things worse…

Isaiah 51:10,11

10  Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.

11  Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled. This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.

Simple…don’t fight darkness with the wrong source of light…keep trusting him.

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Adversity, Bible, Life's Moments

Adversity Diminished

Paul, my Dad, knew adversity. As a youngster, he faced down the real great depression (the 1930’s). As a young man, he served in the 81st Infantry as they joined in the terrible battles of the Palau Islands and Leyte. As a young husband and father, his days as a combat medic were not over… he was reactivated for the Korean War. Again he was called up in 1960 for the Berlin Crisis. After a year of blessed non-deployment he was allowed separation. With four children ranging from 5 to 13 he and Mom said, “Enough,” and back to South Dakota we went. However, the siren call still beckoned…back they went. In 1966, Dad obeyed one final time as Uncle Sam sent him to Viet Nam with the 1st Cav. In 1978, he hung up his helmet and boots for the last time. Dad knew adversity. During the months of March through July 5 of this year he fought yet another battle. One he could not win. He failed to thrive. He went home to Jesus. It wasn’t pretty. Through it all another battle raged…inside. It was his. It was internal. He struggled to see the hand of God’s love. Yes, he bowed before the King of kings. Jesus was his Savior, but it was an uneasy truce.

Jeremiah also knew adversity. Oh man, he knew it well. You might be unfamiliar with his life. If so, consider reading two books in the Bible: Jeremiah and Lamentations. Needless to say he had much to say about a hard subject during a hard time.

I have poured his words into my heart. Hurtful words. Sad words. Hard words. Yet words dripping with hope. They are in fact the Lord’s words…and I need them. Dad needed them.

I need them for multiple reasons, but mostly because I want joy and laughter to increase and sorrow and tears to decrease. Don’t we all.

Just this morning adversity came knocking again. I’ll spare you the details. No more had it made an attempt to camp out in my soul…when God’s word through Jeremiah flooded my spirit…

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23).

I’ll leave it to you to discover just how miserable Jeremiah had become through no fault of his own. Read Lamentations. It’s short. It won’t take long, but hang on. It’s a difficult journey. Pay very close attention when you get to 3:16-18. Jeremiah could not have been lower. His hope in the Lord was gone. It’s as though he shook his fist toward the sky and shouted, “God I’m through with you!” Dad did this too.

The Lord’s word through Jeremiah ringing as a reminder in my mind was the Spirit of God whispering yet again to my spirit, my inner true self. What was true for Jeremiah is true for every believer in Jesus Christ. God’s love never fails. His mercy never ends. His love and mercy are new every day, because he is faithful. He doesn’t change. However, more than that, his presence is always with us. The word of God, tucked away in my heart, cascading like a river of fresh cool water over my troubled thoughts was God’s way of showing in real time that he is here…always, ever, in joy and in sorrow.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

So keep fronting me, Adversity. Keep stepping in where you do not belong. You will continue to be escorted right out the back door. And that rushing wind you feel and hear pushing you away? It’s name is Pneuma…Spirit… the Holy Spirit…the One who leads and guides and reminds…the One who illuminates our minds with the eternal word of God…the One who testifies with my spirit that I am a child of God. The One who, finally, helped Dad see just how greatly he was and is loved.

My heart both broke and soared on July 5th. It hurt knowing in this life Dad never won the love battle. He simply could not see what Jeremiah knew…“the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases.” It soared knowing in heaven the war finally ended…his hope was no longer dashed. He doesn’t even need hope, because he knows face to face, heart to heart, from the eyes and lips of Jesus, “(my) mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning.”  

How about you? What does your battle look like? When adversity comes calling, what do you do? 

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Life's Moments

The Planned Parenthood Plight

10 week feetUp to this point I have deliberately avoided commenting on the horrific ordeal in our news regarding Planned Parenthood. Why? Well, at the outset, let me say it’s not because I intend to defend PP in any way. From its beginning with Margaret Sanger ‘til today PP has been and is immoral and criminal. It started as a eugenics movement and, quite frankly, I see no reason to believe it’s moved away from that goal.

No, I have waited because I wanted to see the outcome of what I knew would be PP’s and its supporters go to argument: the “heavy editing” charge. We know the released footage has come to us in two forms: the longer unedited version and the shorter edited videos showing various PP employees in some sorrowful light. You can see all of them at https://www.youtube.com/user/centerformedprogress.

We now know much of the media and PP itself are going to run with the “heavily edited” argument. In fact, given current media biases, they will have a field day with it. That is the nature of propaganda. When you cannot articulate a cogent and logical point of view you resort to name calling, blaming, and shaming. You have no truth, so you attempt to create psuedo-guilt.  You have no facts, so you assert hateful things. However, nothing they say or do will trump certain truths. Of course, many, perhaps an uber-majority, of PP supporters will simply and stubbornly refuse to accept what I’m about to point out, but they will not be able to defend their position with any reasonable or intelligent defense. These certain truths are twofold:

First is the undeniable cavalier attitude regarding aborted babies displayed by the exposed PP employees. And these are employees at the highest ranks. These are culture makers within the PP ranks. If it starts at the top it trickles and often runs down. Just as in the videos brought to light a couple years back by Lila Rose concerning the racist attitudes within PP ranks, one has to ask “What kind of culture even opens the door for this kind of conversation?” The answer is simple: any culture opening the door to such cavalier attitudes is nothing shy of barbaric. You can call it compassionate all you like by saying it’s all about research and helping others, but when you talk about little ones with language like the following,

“like 18 on a light day but up to 25,”
and “avoid crushing to preserve choice parts,”
and “if we alter a process and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers,”
and “it’s all just a matter of line items,”

you display a haughty, disdainful, contemptuous attitude toward your subject matter. It’s heart breaking on many levels.

Second is the revelation regarding the manipulation of the baby’s position to provide opportunity to harvest certain desired body parts and intact bodies as witnessed in the following description:

“I’m going to crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact. And with the calvarium (head), in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation (of the fetus) so that it’s not vertex (head first), because when it’s vertex presentation, you never have enough dilation at the beginning of the case unless you have a real, huge amount dilation to deliver an intact calvarium (head). So, if you do it starting from the breech presentation (feet first), there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last step, you can evacuate an intact calvarium (head) at the end.” (See this egregious and heartless description at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjxwVuozMnU , 3:49 to 4:20)

This is a description of partial birth abortion! The baby being described is alive with body parts outside the birth canal! It is not only immoral, barbaric, and evil, it’s illegal! My word what more needs to be said? No matter how pro-choice one might be, the only way to accept this practice is to silence your conscience. This cannot be…yet it is!

I am left in tears…on my knees…calling out…”Oh God have mercy on them for surely they do not know what they are doing. Surely they are blind. Surely they would stop if only they understood. Right…right?” Yet I fear my hope is misguided. They do know. They do. They have hardened their hearts. All that is left for them is salvation or damnation.

So I must move past them for now. Now I must plead with those who are the first line of defense for the innocent unborn, their Mom’s and Dad’s…and here is my plea…

“I do not want to label you. I do not want to make life bitter for you, only better. To do so, I must help you see that in all cultures and through all of time those who have made sacrifices on behalf of the defenseless and less fortunate have been called heroes. Soldiers who push comrades aside only to take the bullet—heroes. The fathers and mothers who work three jobs and go without sleep—heroes. The social workers who give up lucrative careers to labor in poverty, but in support of the impoverished of the third world—heroes.  First responders rushing into the fires and the rain of bullets so the innocent may survive—heroes. All of them, heroes. All who make sacrifices for the benefit of others, heroes. Laying aside one’s own drive for self-preservation and self-fulfillment for the hopes and benefits of the defenseless brings out the honor of one’s soul. Please, may I help you see this is what your baby and the world needs from you. Be a hero.”

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Bible, Life's Moments

The Dance

Late. My heart is in the word. My mind is in it too. Softly in the background the radio lets the sweet sounds of country produce a simple smile one moment and at a later moment a thoughtful, bashful blush.

It’s a beautiful combination. The work of the Holy Spirit illuminating my present world and the work of country music reminding me of my past world. I enjoy nothing so much as I enjoy the former. I enjoy only a few things more than I enjoy the latter.

And tonight, tonight, dancing into my thoughts and my heart came two partners. Learning, contemplating and exploring, the written word shaped and formed and provoked. My mind was excited. My heart was sometimes reluctant. And the Holy Spirit was near. Psalm 30:11,12…one partner.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness
that my glory may sing your praise
and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Smiling, crying and reveling, the words of Garth Brooks escaped the radio and tumbled through my soul. The Dance…a second partner.

“And now I’m glad I didn’t know
the way it all would end,
the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain,
but I’d have had to miss the dance.”

I know the first partner was from God. There is certainty here. I’m guessing the second was too…though there is no certainty in this.

God does this you know. He woos us. He draws us. He compels us to come close. We dance with fire. He comes to the dance. He calls “May I have the dance floor and will you join me?”

I often smile. Sometimes blush. And I dance across the floor.

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