Posts categorized Musings
Today I was asked a most sobering question.
“My family member knowingly, intentionally and thoughtfully rejected the saving grace of Jesus Christ and has died in deep disbelief and rejection. How do I deal with this grief?”
Someone who is far wiser than I am could respond much more effectively than I can, but I am the one who received the question and should share my feeble thoughts.
In responding to this heart-breaking question, my mind journeys in several directions.
First, it seems important to feel, thoroughly and extensively feel, the grievous loss. A person you greatly love has died without the hope of eternal life and without a public confession of faith in Jesus for salvation. Your sorrow is well founded.
Our Lord, Jesus, wept at the death of His friend who, without a doubt was righteous. No one knows the response Jesus would have experienced at the death of an unrighteous friend. The Bible doesn’t give us a glimpse into that possibility.
Recently, a very well respected theologian stated, “When Jesus wept, it was Jesus the man weeping. Jesus, as fully God, could never weep.” This troubled my soul. Jesus is fully God and fully human. He can’t be divided into the God part and the human part. He is Him. He is both God and human at the same time and in the same place.
Equally troubling is the notion that God can not cry. I suppose the argument is that a Sovereign, Almighty and All-knowing God would have no sorrow because He fully knows the beginning from the end and everything is both happening and already happened. All reality is, they might argue, past tense for God.
From my perspective, the Bible reveals God as interacting with reality in real time, with real emotions and genuine experience. I am convinced the death of your unsaved family member or close friend deeply moves the emotions of God. When you sorrow, you are experiencing an emotion placed in you by being created in His image. Because He can grieve, you can too.
There may be some comfort in knowing your grief is shared by God Himself. You are not alone, emotionally or in any other way. God understands. He too felt the sorrow of a family member’s death. His Son died with the sin of the whole world on His shoulders. God gets it.
With the inner workings of the human spirit, soul and body being so little understood, there is a measure of comfort in knowing the One who knit your loved one together in their mother’s womb knows everything about everything in their lives. There are no uncovered facts. God knows it all.
God is always fair and just in His judgements. He will always do what is right and just and holy.
Sometimes it feels as if the grief will never end. The Bible mentions the possibility of “sorrow upon sorrow.” The revelation of Jesus to John powerfully reveals God ends the season of grief by “wiping every tear from their eyes.”
It doesn’t feel like it right now, but this sorrow will come to a close because “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.” There is a measure of comfort in knowing this season of sorrow will end by God’s Personal action of drying our tears.
Turning the loss into longing is vital. People weren’t designed and created for eternal separation, grief and loss. We were hand formed by God for Ideal Condition. Developed for the ideal condition of God’s perfect Garden and to be in His Personal presence, we are not at home and settled in to this existence of our messed up world.
Everything inside of everyone longs for a return to God’s Ideal Condition. Redeeming the loss by transforming it into authentic deep longing for God and His eternal home, is most helpful. In our loss we can find our truest longing.
“So my soul longeth after thee, oh God.”
The aftershocks of a major earthquake seem to be more intense within the human soul than they are in the earth beneath.
Nothing opens the consciousness to our total powerlessness as the earth uncontrollably moving like ocean waves for what seems like an eternity.
One helpful thing from such huge seismic movement is the shocking core awareness of personal powerlessness.
Why is this helpful? Because it points us, no, it drives us to the only Reality in the universe who never did, doesn’t now and never will have even a nanosecond of powerlessness.
We meet this non-powerlessness Person in Revelations 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
I’m no expert in post-earthquake recovery but I do have a couple of ideas I think may be helpful.
- Feel comfortable to say and feel the words, “I felt so powerless.” Or, “It was scary because there was nothing I could do.”
- Place high priority upon spending time with people who love you.
- Rest in remembering that NOTHING shakes the Unshakeable, Unmovable, Unwavering Almighty God.
- Get back into your normal life patterns (if they are healthy) and stay active, engaged and productive.
An abiding relationship with the Almighty God, through His Son Jesus, sends the soul’s aftershocks, not into our sense of personal well-being, but into the never powerless, always Almighty God.
From time to time I warn people of the dangers of yoga. The HUGE resistance to these warnings surprises some, but I am convinced is part of the demonic spirit attached to the practice.
In 1978 I lived in Calcutta, India for three months. I had never seen, first hand, Hinduism, it’s practices, and the power of darkness it produces. Needless to say, I departed India with a commitment to give warning to all who might become interested and attracted to the world view.
Over the years I have, from time to time, pursued a deeper knowledge of hinduism and it’s yoga evangelistic arm, so that I can give warning for those whose knowledge of yoga is at a deeper level.
Pamela Frost presents an excellent primer and is well worth the time and thought necessary for entry level understanding.
One day, while swimming, playing, and floating in the ocean, I saw the most beautiful little jelly fish floating a few inches from me. The darling little creature wasn’t more than six inches in diameter and the sunlight it refracted and reflected shone with many gorgeous hues.
Just then the lifeguards shouted over their beach tower mega phones, “Everyone out of the water, dangerous and life threatening box jellyfish have been spotted.”
Sitting on the beach a couple of seconds later, I thought, “That cute little creature is a killer.”
My theory is: Since my body is a collection of billions of cells, if I care for each cell and help it be healthful, I should have a healthy body. This is part of the reason I have gone “added sugar and grain free” for the past several months.
The research has me convinced of the excruciating damage added sugar has on cellular processes. Added sugar, inflammation, and disease each seem to impact the other in a negative downward spiral of unhealthfulness.
The only one of the three that I can easily control is the………added sugar.
Wanting to provide the nutritional building blocks necessary for cellular health, I have adjusted my eating habits.
Cellular health is important.
I hear the news media is filled with conversations about misogyny. Having no trust at all in the media, I venture out into my own thoughts (scary, I know).
- What if the folks identifying others as misogynists are, in fact, misandrists?
- What if the folks defending misogynists are, in fact misandrists?
- What if the folks identifying others as misandrists are, in fact, misogynists?
- What if the folks defending misandrists are, in fact, misogynists?
- What if most folks are neither?
It seems to me that Eve and Adam are still mad at each other.
Back to my cellular theory.
I have heard it said, “You are the Body of Christ,” but I have never heard, “You are a cell in the Body of Christ.” I certainly feel more like a cell.
The question for me then, is, “Am I a healthy cell in the Body of Christ?”
The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries of mechanisms of autophagy. From my non-scholarly perspective, autophagy is the process by which each cell deletes damaged bio-data and replaces it with new, undamaged bio-data.
Being a cell in the body of Christ would then include mechanisms of autophagy. I must delete damaged data and replace it with new, undamaged data. Maybe autophagy is a component of sanctification.
I hope to ensure that misandry and misogyny are never allowed to gain a foothold in me.
- Misogyny is the dislike, disdain, or ingrained prejudice against women.
- Misandry is the dislike, disdain, or ingrained prejudice against men.
Just like added sugar damages my cells and cellular processes, misogyny and misandry damage me as a cell in the Body of Christ. Both Eve and Adam are made in the image of God and are valuable beyond words.
I can’t take out the cellular trash for the whole body, but I can for my one cell. I can eliminate added sugar from
My prayer is for the autophagy of the Holy Spirit to delete any and all misogyny and misandry from my heart and replace it with proper and Jesus-like love for both women and men.
What is a person to do when life is slower than expected and God is silent? Many of the folks talking to me are saying things like…
“I really thought I would have a job by now.”
“My recovery isn’t going as quickly as I had expected.”
“After all of the praying I’ve been doing, I expected this relationship to be much more improved than it is.”
Many times life is remarkably slower than anticipated. Denials, delays, setbacks, and slow progress often dog the weary pilgrim.
“I really don’t mind if God says yes or no. I just want him to say something. I can’t take this silence!”
Which is more difficult? Slowness or silence?
The gap between my life as it really is and what I had hoped it to be is sometimes a huge chasm. Following are a few “GAP Strategies.”
The speed of life and the silence of God need not stop me from taking personal responsibility to continue to grow. I can always, by God’s grace, shift the focus of my personal growth away from those things that are out of my control. If my vehicle doesn’t run, I can thank God for the opportunity to develop my cardio as I walk.
When I was nearly paralyzed by PTSD, I decided that at least I could grow spiritually through reading the Psalms. I read Psalms every day, several times a day, and then listened to the Psalms all through the night.
Life may be slower than I had anticipated and God may be silent but I can continue to grow.
No one, absolutely no one, can rob me of my capacity to activate things in my life. One of history’s greatest vocalists, Andrea Bocelli, is blind. So he sits home in depression and bitterness, right? WRONG! He activated his personal choices and determined to be an amazing skier, cyclist, roller blade guru, and horseback rider.
If I can’t move my leg, I can wiggle my toes. In every silent and slow delay I have been endued with the capacity to activate many other things. I can move from nouns to verbs.
I am learning to be present in the present. When things are going much slower than I had hoped and God isn’t talking, I can enjoy the friendship of Copper, our little Yorkie, right here, right now. We too often get taken to another time and another place rather than being mindful of this moment and space.
What is happening right here, right now? Don’t let slowness or silence rob you of the superb things available for your experience in the present. Are you in a hospital bed at this very moment? Look out the window and see if there is a rainbow, or a cool cloud, or an eagle, or some other fascinating gift from God.
If life is rolling slower than expected and God is silent, remember this simple GAP strategy. Grow. Activate. Present.
Anchorage winds are a blast. Cold, dark, wintery, cloudless moonlit evenings hold something very special for the Alaskan soul.
Driving today was the kind of fun a sourdough enjoys. I would steer in the generally desired direction and enjoy the gusts that pushed my 5,500 pound SUV from lane to lane.
As a huge burst of wind moved me from the right lane into the left, I noticed a raven sitting on a branch of a wind tossed tree. It seemed the branches would break off of the tree trunk at any moment.
I don’t speak raven, but it sure seemed to me that this bird was having a ton of fun. Up and down, back and forth the branch moved. A roller coaster for ravens, I thought.
Just then it seemed the Creator spoke to me.
“I created the raven for the winds. Man designed and engineered and produced this SUV. The winds blowing against the people of God are extreme. Don’t hide in man made things because I created you for the winds too.”
I am made for the winds.
Have you ever taken time to work on you? This is the great task I have undertaken and every once in a while I think it may be the craziest thing I have ever tackled. One guy said, “Between you and you there must be no division.” Working on me is my attempt to eliminate any division between me, myself, and I.
My friend Larry says, “It’s not what happens to you but what those things do inside you.”
I must confess. I don’t like what happens inside me when I watch most professional sports. It is a bit like someone flipping a switch inside my soul.
- Suddenly, I no longer even consider if the athlete is kind, gentle, or humble and frankly, I don’t care if he is saved or lost.
- No longer do I care about economic justice in the world. Pay the guy whatever it takes to have a winning team.
- He’s a thug and wife beater? Not my problem. I want to know if he can run, jump, block and catch.
- It doesn’t matter to me if he is pleasing to God as long as he is the MVP.
- Is he squandering his living with prostitutes, gangs, violence and drugs? No worries as long as he can pull off the victory on the weekend.
- He’s impregnating women all over the nation without even a consideration of being a father to his kids? That’s his private life and not my concern.
My team winning a competition does strange things inside my soul.
In an effort to take a long look inside, I avoided all football on Sundays. I’m not too sure it helped.
When I heard that the Seahawks, my favorite team since about 1976, threw a SuperBowl interception from the 1 yard line with only 30 seconds to go in the game, I found myself bummed out. Really bummed out. Of course I had virtually no emotions about the churches in Niger that were torched that day by Muslim extremists nor deep feelings for the perpetrator or victim of the murder in the Costco parking lot near our church.
I asked my friends who viewed the halftime show, “How did Katy Perry’s part go?” I forgot to care that she is (apparently) a backslidden Christian in desperate need of an improved relationship with Father God.
Make no mistake about it. I very much enjoy a great football game.
I just don’t like what I let it do inside of me.
If ISIS came into Alaska and killed our unborn babies, they would have hell to pay. The U.S. Supreme Court comes into our state and kills our unborn and it is celebrated as a choice.
Someone is running ads against a candidate that says, “He will vote to take away a woman’s right to an abortion.” That may get some votes, but not from me. I guess liberals feel their election hinges on the women’s vote.
A bumper sticker on a woman’s car in front of me yesterday said, “If you can’t trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?” She misses my point completely. If her choice is to kill the innocent, I don’t trust her with anything.
Alaska women love life from conception to resurrection. Alaska women honor the sanctity of sex and reserve marriage covenant intimacy for a God honoring marriage.
Then there is the “I am pro-life, but I support a woman’s right to kill,” baloney. Alaska women have a higher IQ than that. Alaska women are bright. They know that abortion was not primarily approved as a choice for the woman, but, as Justice Ginsburgh is noted for saying, “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”
Abortion was approved, primarily, to control which populations would prosper. They sell it as choice, but in fact, if they can get you to kill your child, they won’t feel obligated to do so in an effort to control populations they don’t want too many of.
I would love to have every Republican and Democrat pro-death senator replaced with a pro-life leader.
I refuse to be guilty of silence during the world’s largest holocaust.
Within minutes of the World Vision announcement (they will employ people in same sex marriages) I began to receive requests for guidance. I have only had a few hours to give this question thought, but I want to get an early voice into the conversation.
The primary issue for me, is not that World Vision has decided to employ people in same sex marriages, but as a (former) ministry, they intentionally and knowingly approve of a non-Biblical sexuality, use the money of Bible conscious Christians to do so, and have the audacity to tell their donors that their decision is for the unity of Jesus’ Church. The primary issue for me is that World Vision claims to be Christian. This isn’t an accidental decision. It is an intentional rebuke to God’s word, the words of Jesus, and the teaching of the entire body of Scripture.
When I purchased my computer I didn’t ask if everyone involved in making my device follows Christian principles or if all of the employees of the store hold to a Biblical morality. Of course not. Non-Christian companies are not required nor expected to hold to Christian principles. Apple has always claimed to be an almost anti-Christian corporation. Starbucks officially disdains the Biblical teaching on sexuality. Worldly corporations will be worldly. In fact, I am not sure they can be anything else.
I hold Christian ministries to a higher and different standard.
May I take this opportunity to apologize to those of you that pledged to support children through World Vision because I opened MCA Church’s pulpit and platform to them many years ago. I had no idea that the leadership of this former ministry were uncommitted to the obvious teaching of Jesus and the Bible.
As you navigate your emotions, feeling let down, betrayed, dropped, may I encourage you to remain faithful to Scripture above the emotional condemnation World Vision will attempt to pour upon you. “What? We try to unify the Body of Christ and you drop a poor and needy child?”
God did not call you to support World Vision. He called you to make a difference in a child’s life. There are many ways to continue to make the difference God called you to make without supporting a twisted view of Scripture and an intentional flipping off of our Lord.
One of the most deficient arguments that Christians present on these pressing ethical and moral issues is, “Pastor Kent, I don’t agree with abortion, alternative sexualities, and changing the definition of marriage, but I approve of people having these options. I would never have gay sex, but I approve of other people having freedom of choice.”
Let’s consider a Bible passage specifically suited for this conversation.
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:32
“But give approval to those who practice them.” God’s word bans me from approving those who practice such things! According to God’s word, I can not approve. Approval, in essence, makes me a participating partner in the sin. Was the Apostle Paul guilty of killing Stephen? Yes. We have no record of Paul throwing stones and crushing Stephen’s life from him. Paul was guilty of holding the garments, in approval, of those who actually threw the stones. Consent and approval is participation. Paul was guilty.
I am fully convinced that God loves the sponsored children more than World Vision does. He is faithful. The children you formerly sponsored will be cared for by our loving God through you in creative and new ways.
World Vision wants people to think that they are the only, best, and most important “ministry” in the world today providing care to children. Wrong. God is the Loving Father who will care for these children through people and ministries faithful to Him.
With my experience around the world I am 100 percent confident that God has terrific genuine ministry in place for the children you sponsor. My advice? Step away from World Vision and step into a child sponsorship program that honors God.
Will God bless World Vision? Then why should you?
World vision has become World Blindness.
Really, I try to be on my best behavior on Sundays, especially when I am teaching the Bible in front of hundreds of people and the entire world-wide web.
Unfortunately, my best intentions don’t always materialize. For example, in the 9:15 service on April 7th, I struggled with anxiety and it became rather obvious. My brain had me so wound up that I couldn’t really talk without gagging. Now that was embarrassing. Yuck! Run and hide! Get out of Dodge. Punt.
In one of my all time favorite speeches, Sir Winston Churchill stated, “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.” Needless to say, Sunday morning wasn’t my finest hour.
I LOVE to teach the Bible. I don’t particularly like being exhibit A. Yep, Jesus helps in the grief process, but I don’t want anyone to see me grieve. Sure, Jesus is our healing, but I don’t want anyone to see me sick. It is so much easier to teach the wisdom of God than to genuinely allow folks to see the processes of actually trying to live it out in everyday, real life, situations.
Until the Living Word intersects the living moment the ministry event hasn’t occurred. I love theology, but theology must always become personal biography to have any lasting impact.
On Sunday some of you saw your pastor doing his best to make the Living Word of God work in his everyday, broken clay pot life. Maybe it was a bit unsettling for you (it sure was for me), but when we walk through our human weaknesses we can all be delighted that God has placed the treasure of His glory in any of our jars of clay.
With my family, friends, prayer warriors, doctors, and loving MCA Church family, I will be just fine.
I look forward to seeing your jar of clay next Sunday and, I promise, I will try to be on my best behavior and maybe we will have our finest hour!