Posted tagged ‘healing’

Thankless Living

November 23, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             November 23, 2017

                                            

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and an acquaintance of both of us came up as a subject. My facial expression must have given me away because he asked me what the problem was? I had to explain.

The person he was referring to always seemed to come at life in a negative, pessimistic way, and I explained to my friend that I tried to minimize my contact with this other person. I feel a bit guilty about that, but it’s the reality of the situation.

Everyone of us probably knows someone, or a few someones, who fall in this category: people who lead thankless lives that see nothing positive happening. They would complain if Jesus turned water into white wine instead of red. They are the type of persons who Chick-Fil-A would never hire simply because of how people perceive them.

Thankless living people find it close to impossible to give thanks to the Lord, because they believe they have nothing to be thankful for. Thanksgiving Day is torture for them. Three football games become an escape from all the thankful people around them. They count down the hours until Black Friday where they will complain about the lines and the lack of good deals as they trudge from store to store with downcast faces.

Some thankless people have gradually taken on the cloak of despair as a result of the lives they’ve had to lead. They’ve been on the receiving end of verbal abuse for years, and now they can’t see any light. Some have been disappointed too many times and now see disappointment as the norm.

I wonder if that was a factor with the ten lepers that Jesus healed in Luke 17. Only one of the ten ever bothered to say thank you. The other nine who had stood by the side of the road and shouted to Jesus to have pity on them were healed, and now headed to the priests to show them that they were now clean. It would have been too much of a transition to go immediately from thankless lives to thankful living…at least for 90%!

Today I’ll look for the many reasons to be thankful, to give praise for the blessings of God, for his lovingkindness and mercy. Hopefully you’ll do the same!

Keeping Jesus

July 14, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             July 14, 2017

                                    

“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’” (Luke 4:42-43)

I admit it! I have a personal blanket! I am a sixty three year old man with his own “blankie.” It is somewhat tattered now since I started using it shortly after Carol and I were married 38 years ago. It was hers before it gradually got pulled over to my side of the bed.

No one else uses my blanket. After seeing it you would understand why no one else would WANT to use it!  It is my mine!

There are certain things in each of our lives that we are a bit bizarrely possessive of. Some of them, like a coffee mug with our name on it, make sense. And then there’s others, like my blanket, that are a bit of a reach.

Sometimes churches try to keep Jesus! They allude to the idea that Jesus shows up at their house every weekend. Yes, he’s present at other churches, but he is REALLY PRESENT at their location. If you REALLY want to encounter the Savior you are urged to come by their campus. There is a tendency to equate the size of a church with the level of Jesus’ presence!

When Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, he drove out some evil spirits, healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (who immediately got up and started cooking up some dinner for Jesus and the others), healed other people of a variety of sicknesses, and then the next morning went out to a solitary place. His plan was to head to another town, but the people of Capernaum tried to keep him there. When something of God has happened there is a tendency to try and corner the market.

If Jesus would have stayed at Capernaum he would have been a resident prophet, a wise man that people would come to, a scholar-in-residence! He would have gained job security and a regional following, but lost his calling. His path was to take him out of town. He doesn’t even call his disciples until a little while later…when Capernaum is in the distance of his rear view mirror.

It’s interesting that the theology of many churches ripples out from the Great Commission of Jesus that tells his followers to “go”, but the behavior of churches is to “keep.” Excuse the expression, but we want Jesus to be our personal “blankie” that keeps us safe and spiritual. He isn’t to be borrowed by someone else. If they want to snuggle up with our Jesus they need to come to us, because we’re keeping him.

And so we encounter congregations that tell us we can in turn encounter Jesus if we show up at their place. I have learned to avoid churches that seem smugly sure of their resident Savior, and I search for people of faith who humbly hope for his presence. Like Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, they are people who have been restored and reconciled and are now seeking to wait upon Jesus.

 

Church Life

August 3, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            August 3, 2016

                                           

“He touched me….oh, he touched me! And oh, the joy that floods my soul! Something happened, and now I know, He touched me and made me whole.”

The congregation closed the song with several heart-felt “amens” from the twelve gathered souls for Sunday worship. Most of them smiled in the warmth of the words, the truth of their meaning.

I told them the Mark 5 story of the woman who had a feminine hygiene problem for twelve years and had been “ritually unclean.” She came to where Jesus was and risked a touch of the edge of his garment. She just wanted to be clean. She was emotionally distraught, felt spiritually unworthy, and had been afflicted for so long that she had become almost invisible to people. The story was retold to ears that were listening and heads that were nodding in agreement.

“People may not be ostracized for the same reasons today, but you know, we have a way in the church of making people feel like outcasts and minimizing certain ones because of this, that, or the other. My guess is that most of us have been made to feel like we don’t matter at one time or another.”

“And the thing is…when we’re gathered as the Body of Christ, that’s where we should always feel loved, accepted, and valued.”

They were with me as we journeyed this story. Their church had been larger at one time, but things happened. People moved away because of jobs, kids grew up and went off to college and didn’t come back, and some of the saints had passed on to the next life. Those were all journeys that were a part of life, the things that just happened. It was the other losses that kept wounding the few faithful. Words that had been said in the heat of the moment, unforgiving spirits and non-repentant hearts, power plays and personality conflicts. All those things that people expected in other places, but cut more deeply when they were a part of the community of the King.

But sometimes a church needs to go deep in the valley to see the sacredness of the fellowship. Pain sometimes makes the good days more cherished.

“How might we touch one another today as the Body of Christ? Who in our community is like the woman who just longs for a touch of hope, a touch of healing? Who might we invite to join us in this sanctuary of brokenness as we seek to be a place of hope?”

The words were being felt in the midst of the congregation’s soul.

“How might the words to that song that we sang be experienced in our lives, and the lives of those around us?”

“Amen.”

It wasn’t the end of a sermon, but rather the transition to reflection and action. Prayer concerns were shared. One person shared a deep concern that was weighing upon her. We stopped to pray, but before we prayed we gathered around her, laid hands upon her weary shoulders and touched her with care. Tears streamed from her eyes and ran down her cheeks on a path towards healing.

There was a wholeness that was coming back to her, and in that wholeness was also a sense of wholeness in the midst of “the gathered.”

Church life can often be the death of us, but sometimes a church near-death experience is their resuscitation to a new life and a deeper hope.

Adjusting to Speed Bumps

June 29, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     June 29, 2012

The fires here in Colorado Springs have been devastating to so many people, and the ripple effect of business impact will be felt soon also as businesses on the west side of the city in evacuated areas try to recoup their losses from days of being closed.

It has been amazing to see the reactions of community members, outpouring support and supplies. On the other side, it has been amazing to see that two arrests have been made of people looting an evacuated home. The thieves had “meth” on them as they were trying to steal some items to sell to get more “meth.”

Awesome citizens, those two!

It has also been interesting to view how different people have reacted in different ways. Some have been thankful for the sacrifice and willingness to be in harm’s way of the 1,000+ firefighters. Some have expressed thankfulness for human lives being saved, even in the midst of so many homes destroyed. Some have lashed out in anger at whoever might be a possible target. Some are experiencing guilt even in the midst of their discoveries of homes untouched. There’s the relief of residences still being there, but guilt because neighbors have lost everything that was in their homes.

People have questioned why God didn’t do more, or why God allowed something like this to happen? I mean, shouldn’t God have provided a hedge of protection around the neighborhoods impacted? There is a sense with some people that the Creator should provide “perfect nature”- sunny and 70 degrees, with rain only in the middle of the night when we’re sleeping so our activity schedule doesn’t get impacted, a slight breeze that feels good…and a white picket fence.

But perhaps we should see an event such as the fires as the time to rethink, refocus, reprioritize, and re-thank!

In our lives there are certain moments that stand out from the rest- the birth of our first child, our wedding, our first touchdown, the death of a grandparent, a car accident, a fire. Moments can be joy-filled or grief-stricken, but moments such as these have the potential to slow us down for a moment.

They are like speed bumps that need a different pace to them, a cautionary approach. Most of us want the smooth road, like Interstate 80 through Nebraska, where we can race along at top speeds…and yet we complain because Nebraska doesn’t have that much scenery along the highway to make us “ooo and ahh!”

The speed bumps in our lives cause us to ponder “why”, “what now”, and “where to?”

Here in our city there are also different kinds of speed bumps. There are speed bumps that are like road ripples, and then there are speed bumps that will damage your car is you try to stay at the usual driving speed. In other words, some require more consideration than others.

The fire is a huge bump that will require much consideration, and yet, since I believe in the Lord of the Impossible, I believe that something life-transforming in positive ways can come out of it.