Life is perspective and perspective makes life: enjoyable or detestable. One morning the point was re-affirmed in my mind, while walking through the building where I work. I met with my co-worker, who had recently had surgery on her left arm. That particular morning I asked her how she had managed to drive to work, having one hand in a sling /holster type brace. She said she took her time and tried her best to do it, because the alternative scared her—i.e. having her dad, who is ninety one years and change drive for her was an experience just the day before—with abrupt braking and failure to comply with speed limits. Lol.
So she went on to describe that ordeal and in speaking further, I found out that she had recently had knee surgery and was due for more surgery in the next few months. On top of that she has been limited with regard to household stuff and just helping her husband with chores etc. So, the summary of her situation is as follows: 2-3 surgeries weeks’ apart/pain medicine/lack of ability to help at home/demands of the job because of the financial aspect it entails/driving in this limited fashion and dealing with different people/personalities. In the midst of this, she still smiles and demonstrates a wonderful attitude.
It really made me stop and say WOOW. And then I got it; I got what God was saying to me through my sister/co-worker/lady under immense pressure, yet still had a great attitude—he was saying life is perspective; that if you’re in Christ, it counts more that he is by your side, as oppose to the many things that test us emotionally, physically and all the other “ally’s” …Life is good and I can choose to have a great attitude because I serve God for who he is and not what he gives me. He is Lord and he knows my needs. This is so amazing. So were down, but not defeated; hurt, but not all spent and tested, but never given to failure…everything is and will be O “KAY”…with God .
Separation occurs every day of our lives, for brief and uneventful spells of time, to long or more permanent situations. You go to work and separate from kids and family for a few hours; kids mourn the loss of a beloved pet, subsequently buried in the back yard; boys and girls are heartbroken, as their summer love leaves to go back up north, or down south, where school and their permanent home awaits and every day, people say goodbye to family members and friends, because of the separation realized in death. Paul in the Philippians letter speaks to our anxieties with regard to separation on a larger more permanent scale and also with regard to our personal lives.
In chapter 1 from verse 12, we realize Paul is in prison, separated from the community of “physically” free believers. Yet instead of bemoaning the situation, Paul sees it as an opportunity to share the message of Christ to the palace/praetorian guards. As he continues, he mentions in verse 19
that separations really should not carry much weight of anxiety. To be with the Philippians would be great, but even if he were to be killed, separated from them physically, he would be at home with the lord.
In chapter 2:1-4, Paul touches on the need to separate ourselves from our selfish interests’; to esteem others better andgive up self satisfaction and self-pleasing motives. To add vigor to the point, Paul introduces Christ, who separated from the Godhead and the splendor of heaven, to become a humble servant, for the benefit of the whole world.
There’s meaning in separation : the parents who go out to work, being separated from their kids for a few hrs, have a chance to earn funds for food, clothing and shelter ;the kids who have their hearts broken because their summer loves return home, learn how to value true love and many learn not to take it for granted later in life ; the kids who buried their family pet realize life in transitory and learn how to deal with the beginnings of grief and trials early on ; the apostle
Paul then illustrates that to the Christian looking heavenward, separation is nothing more that another brick in the path laid to glory.
Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)…..For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s amazing how society pushes the subject of death aside in our culture. We give brief mentions, usually communicated with adjectives that convey defeat, darkness, hopelessness, or unending sorrow. I could understand this reaction to death from a worldly perspective, yet I cannot and refuse to understand it from a Christian/Biblical perspective.
Death, according to the Apostle Paul gives way to victory. In First Corinthians 15:42ff, he mentions the death of our physical bodies and describes the whole process and transition with joyful words such as: imperishable /glory/power/spiritual body. The fact is, when a Christian dies, we have not lost them. We’ve not lost a son, or daughter, a father, mother, wife or husband; for now, they are truly found in real, immortal life. The seed is buried and the final emerging body from that dull and mortal seed is glorious and everlasting.
We need to change our adjectives used to describe death and look at it through scriptural lenses. It’s like that person going to vacation, on one of the Caribbean islands. With tickets in hand, they know that are a space is guaranteed for them on the plane, traveling to a blissful destination. They are waiting for the flight to depart feeling excited and joyful (at least those who are not fearful of flying). With death, the analogy is similar. We have our tickets (salvation; the seal of the Spirit; the promised return of Christ and the guarantee of a new body) – With this ticket, cancer cannot intimidate us; terminal illness cannot scare us into a depression where we desperately want to hold on to this life as a “seed”. We will be like Paul, in his words to Timothy—I am ready to be offered up/ the time of my departure is at hand and I know a reward awaits. A reward that outweighs the best things we could ever experience in this life.
We are not given a spirit of fear, in the face of a hateful world or eminent death…As the glory of a plant is not in the seed, but in the blossom that springs from an earthly grave of soil, so to, our earthly bodies are just temporary housing for our spirits that are set for indescribable splendor! So what is death and the sting thereof….absolutely nothing that should shake us enough to steal our joy and smile! We are in the SONSHINE of Life, even in Death.
Today, a quick pick up game of soccer was on the menu, as I often
enjoy the exercise and fun of it all, on a regular basis. The game was as
usual, yet the events almost to the end and thereafter, were unusual for such a game, which generally brings people together. There was a new guy, who came with his buddy to join us today; all was well and the new guy was really trying hard and playing decent, yet as all of us, he had his moments when he did lose the ball. No one made a big deal of the situation, except this one older guy, who was just irate and rude. He kept cursing the new guy, even unto the end. He made statements stemming from advocating that if someone couldn’t understand English, they should not be allowed to play, to vehemently screaming at the new guy “Are you deaf ? ” , all the while with his hand in the guys face, motioning and
making rude gestures !
I wondered why the new guy wasn’t defending himself. However, that limbo in thought came to a screeching halt, when it was confirmed that he was indeed deaf. His buddy told the angry man that he was indeed deaf and he even tried to communicate to him, the displeasure of the angry man in sign language. All the angry man said was that he did not know and that no one told him the new guy was deaf. It was very distasteful to see how he tried to play the victim, when repercussions of his less than human behavior, came back to bite. I felt so very bad for the new guy; he not only had a disability, but he was now being trampled on verbally and he could not even do anything about it.
As they left, I motioned to him to express that it was a good game and that I at least, approved of his effort and Spirit.
I was reminded of the words James wrote: James 1:19-20
“…My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
May we observe humanity with our heart and see others with the eyes of Jesus; not reacting to people and situations, but responding in love and redeeming language. Once we allow words to leave our tongues, we cannot change the results, be they good or bad.
Customer service agents spend the greater part of their careers on
the phone, helping, directing, explaining and then some. Often times, they are
greeted with putrid personalities and immature characters amidst the constant
cry for help and assistance. At least they have the evenings after work to take
a break; take some sick days off, or to go on vacation each year.
I firmly believe that no one would ever want to take calls from a
number of people each day, each minute, each hour 24/7. That would drive anyone
crazy. In the movie Bruce Almighty, actor Jim Carey proposes to play the part
of God and begins to go stir crazy, as all the prayers and requests for help
around the world, rings constantly in his ear. Isaiah the prophet tells us that
the lord’s ear is not heavy that he cannot hear… (Isa. 59:1-2).
He does what we as humans could never undertake, keeping our
sanity and function. He sees the good and the evil; he hears the cry for help
of the people fighting addictions; the people being abused and tormented ; the
runaways and the ones imprisoned by their circumstances, or evil and heartless
men who seek to prey upon others. The Lord hears all the troubles and cries of
our world and is ever mindful that justice will run like a river and he will
save us from this world. So to those who say that God is far in the distance,
disconnected and unconcerned, please think again. He carries all the prayers
and feels all the hurt and pain daily—something we cannot even fathom or grasp
and he has promised to make all things right. What a God of concern; what a God
of love !
The quest for intelligent life has shown up where technology is most advanced.
In 1977, the voyager was sent, out to study the atmosphere of planets, and
detect magnetic fields. There was also a message included for other civilizations.
It was also designed to sound out the first movement of Ludwig Beethoven’s 5th
symphony.It seems absurd that man would seek to find intelligent life
on other planets, when on this Planet, we fail to realize that true wisdom and
so much intelligence lies within the people God created, to fellowship with him.
Today, we understand that God did send his own voyager in the person of Christ,
to remind us that intelligent life can be found in the Body of Christ –he didn’t
come to search for it, but to remind us that we have it.
From the beginning of Galatians, Paul asks, “who has bewitched you?” who has duped you into thinking that intelligent life, abundant life can be found somewhere else. What happened to your God-given intelligence? What happened to the SINGS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE?
It is truly amazing to find out that the “Iroquois Indians” attributed divinity to retarded children, gave them an honored place in the tribe, and treated them as gods. In their unselfconscious freedom, they were a transparent window into the Great Spirit – into the heart of Jesus Christ who loves us as we are and not as we should be, in the state of grace or disgrace, beyond caution, boundary, regret, or breaking point.”
So True intelligence is not brain power, but the power of love: to set free, to serve and to grow as a compassionate human in the light of God, for that is what he did for us. So to sum up Galatians 5:1-26, what are these signs? Personal freedom v. 1-6 /Public service v. 7-15/Positive Fruit v. 16-26. A church/people or community living in the presence of the divine would be known by these principles and others would be drawn!
The most outrageous “false model” I have encountered happens to be the following: A local congregation back home spends about $15,000 dollars to pay preachers for a huge Gospel Crusade for the year and no one does follow up on contacts, or even goes out into the fields to really invite others. Fact is, over 80 % of those in the crusade are already members. The
thought was “If you spend it, they will come”. Not in this case!
Incarnational evangelism involves Spreading the Gospel, by firstly PREPARING-
learning the important matters such as Love, Justice, mercy, and salvation. Secondly, PRACTICING- those things on a day to day basis, by assisting all in need, as best you can, whether in material or spiritual things. And lastly, patiently CONTINUING to be an example by showing fruits that you have read, understand and believe scripture. In time, you will have an audience to read scripture with, or answer questions for. This will be the end result of you taking part in their lives FIRST!
This concept is hard to understand in a society built on overnight success, instant coffee,
microwave meals, or ready-made fast food. We don’t want to wait patiently for
good things, cultivating, learning and maturing as we grow. In Christianity, God has no timeline—his goal has always been to guide the spiritual transformation of “quality” people. So what are we in for these days……Quality or Quantity?