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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Bible, Life's Moments

In the Still of the Night

In the still of the night the roar can be deafening.

Yet even as my heart starts to wander, his Spirit reminds me of Jeremiah who wrote,

“He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. 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.”

His Spirit leads with his word, filling both mind and heart, and fellowship with him halts the rising tide of doubt. In the still of the night the presence of God is not deafening. It quiets my soul.

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Bible, Life's Moments

All Is Well

Christmas! Every year it rolls around and every year I feel its compelling pull.

Come see!

Come hear!

Come kneel!

Come pray!

Come worship!

Come receive!

And every year memorable moments are used by the Savior to remind me that all is well with my soul, because all is always well with my Lord.

Tonight it was hearing the below performance by Carrie Underwood and Michael. W. Smith. Listen as they take you to the thrown.

 

 

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Bible, Life's Moments

Second Post In One Day, But I Could Do No Less

Let me see if I can get this straight or not…

Our government cannot account for 619 Billion Dollars

( http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/08/05/federal-spending-transparency-money-missing/13485581/ )

Children of the Border Crossingand the complaints are few and far between, but folks in southern CA, and folks near Ft. Sill, OK, and my neighbors in Pierce County surrounding Joint Base Lewis McChord pitch hissy fits about taking care of children who are by every conceivable measure victims.

These terrible days were bound to arrive. In a 1994 brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, Mother Theresa included the following, “America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts–a child–as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.”

Now, 20 years later, we are beginning to see the bottom of the slippery slope. Not only the defenseless unborn, but the defenseless already born will be forgotten.

Bureaucrats misplace, misappropriate, mis-spend, or, probably most likely, simply mis-report (who knows) $619 billion and not very many even flinch. “Oh well, what do we expect after the scandals in the Secret Service, Veterans Affairs, Home Land Security, Dept of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, General Services Administration, National Labor Relations Board, and the IRS (and all these just since 2009). Yet we whine about accepting responsibility for the compassionate care of innocent children? We use excuses like, “We don’t have enough resources for our own? Who are we trying to kid? Drive the streets of America, then look up the conditions of any third world nation.

I don’t have to be a democrat, republican, something in-between, or something to either the left or right of both to say, “Shame on us.” I need only be one of two things: an American citizen who recalls the profound words of both our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution; or the kind of follower of Jesus who at the very least “wants” to do as he does.

I’m both.
I’m praying.
I’m sending money to help.
And I’m pleading with you to join me.

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