Thursday, October 30, 2014

Should We Die with Dignity?

There is much talk in this modern age of medicine about what to do with terminally ill patients.  If you know you are going to die and it's not going to be a pleasant death, is it ok to take your own life so you can "die with dignity"?  I wanted to talk about this concept of having dignity, is it something we should even strive for?  What is the deal with dignity?

When you and I came into the world, we did so without a shred of dignity.  If you have ever been part or even an observer to the birthing process, you know there are lots of things, but dignity isn't among them.  There is a great deal of nakedness, noise, mess and sometimes some confusion depending on how quickly things go.  My kids were are c-section, so it was as dignified as it gets, but all of my kids came into the world the same way.  Messy, naked and crying.  There is no dignity to the way we enter this world.  We have to be cleaned up, clothed and cared for, and the beauty is that as an infant, we don't care.

Most of us for a majority of our lives strive to have some dignity in our lives.  We strive to stay relatively clean and free from naked chaos.  When it comes to our time to die, we want to keep that same dignity, but more than anything we want some control and some say in our final fate.  No one is excited about the idea of a terminal disease that will end our lives when and how it chooses.  Enter this idea of having the ability to end our own life.  I understand the attractiveness of this idea, I watched cancer completely destroy and then take the life of both my parents.  They both had extreme pain and suffering and had many moments that would have been less than dignified.  I can understand that idea of wanting to end life when it's going to end soon anyway and there is little between here and there but discomfort and pain.  While I understand it, I don't think it's the right thing to do. I don't think it's the best solution or that is honors God.  Let me explain.

The Bible tells us that God has numbered and ordained our days, from birth to death.  He has a plan and a reason for the days on this earth.  Even when we don't understand and haven't planned them, God is still in control.  Part of what God plans includes suffering, as much as we don't like it.  We learn and grow and gain wisdom in suffering.  We become more like Christ in suffering.  Our suffering can cause the world to become a better place, and God can and does use pain to heal and help others.  We gain and pass on things that have immeasurable value through pain and suffering.  God can teach us something that we can teach others in our suffering.

We need to remember that our idea of dignity isn't the issue.  We don't need dignity, we were born without it.  We need wisdom and holiness from God, and even in our suffering we can still rejoice.  In our suffering we have value.  At the end of our lives, our lives have purpose and meaning.  We shouldn't cut that short because it might be messy and ugly.  There can be beauty and truth in the mess.  God's purpose is more beautiful than we know, so let's see it through to the end.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Learning from Suffering; Why We Suffer

If the news tells us anything, it's that we live in a world of suffering.  There is ebola, cancer, wars, shootings, riots and suicide.  Every day we see and hear about people suffering.  In many cases, we don't need to look beyond our own lives to see sickness or pain or suffering.  A friend and good man is having surgery as I write for an abscess in his lung.  He has been suffering for a while as they try to figure out what is going on.  His wife and family are suffering as they wait to see how things go.  Friends have cancer, other friends have trouble with kids, finances and jobs.  I am stuck at home while recovering from surgery, and I had some suffering I had to go through in my ordeal.

We suffer in a lot of ways, and as long as we live in this earth, we will have to deal with suffering of various types.  Sometimes physical, mental, spiritual or emotional, usually a combination of these.  Suffering comes along with our ability to make choices and choose our behavior.  God allows us the freedom to act how we choose too, thus creating the reality of suffering.  If I choose to drink so much that I get very drunk, then drive and get in a wreck, I live with the consequences.  I and others can be made to suffer because of a choice I made.  It's part of our freedom in this sinful world, that God doesn't stop us from making decisions, even the ones that grieve His heart.

The other reality is that we need suffering.  We need to experience trials and hard times in order to be mature, to gain wisdom and learn patience and goodness.  Think about it, a young adult who has been given everything, never had a hard time and never suffered, how do they behave?  People who never struggle or suffer are usually selfish and impatient and rude and often hateful.  Suffering and pain in a great equalizer, it puts everyone on level ground.  Sickness, hurt and heartache or pain shows no partiality for ethnicity, income, social status.  Everyone suffers and everyone can relate to suffering.

The reality is that bad things don't happen to good people.  People aren't good, and things that are not pleasant don't exist as good or bad, they are just realities of this life.  Things happen to make people good people.  We learn faith and hope and perverseness through adversity.  We learn to be more like Christ because of the struggles and trials.  This is why Paul tells us to rejoice as we face trials.  The trials are going to cause us to be more like Christ.  In the end, that is all that really matters.  In eternity, it won't matter how well we did, or how much hurt we had to endure, but our relationship with Christ will.  Rejoice when you suffer, for God is giving you opportunity to invest in eternity.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why Charismaticism is Easy

First, let me say I'm not a cessationist.  I believe that the 1st century church and the church today have the same access to the game God through the same Holy Spirit with the same power.  That being said, it's not the 1st century, there are no more Apostles.  To be an Apostle, you had to see Jesus in the body resurrected.  That isn't happening today, there is no one holding the office of Apostle.  Even so, there are churches everywhere that grow out of the excitement of the charismatic movement, let's talk about why for a minute, and go back in time a ways.

When Jesus was on the earth, He did miracles.  He healed people, fed a bunch of people with just a little bit, walked on water, raised the dead.  People flocked too Him and began asking to see more miracles.  They wanted a sign to see if He really was the messiah.  They said "do that one again".  They wanted to feel validated, they wanted proof.  Proof is easier than faith.  They wanted a sign,  and eventually Jesus got aggregated.  In Luke 11:29, Jesus says the generation is evil, for it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah (Jesus rising from the dead).

Are we an evil generation?  We sure do love signs and miracles and wonders.  If you tell people you are going to teach them truth, they may show up.  If you say you are going to heal the sick, raise the dead, speak in tongues and do wonders, they show up in droves.  Why is it so easy to focus on the miraculous?  Why do we push so hard for the signs and wonders of the spirit to show up?  We have begun practices not seen in the New Testament, like being slain in the spirit, falling down and twitching and vibrating.  Why?

If you are a charismatic and you practice these things, my goal is not to insult you, but to encourage you to question what is really happening.  For the 12 men closest to Jesus, we don't see any of these things, expect when they speak in tongues, which is intelligible languages at Pentecost.  We have some notes from Paul, but no explicate instructions except for tongues, to limit it and it's the least of the gifts.  Why focus so much on something that is discussed so little?  Maybe we are an evil generation that seeks a sign.  Maybe, just maybe it's easier to have proof than faith, but remember.  Without faith, it's impossible to please God.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Woven means Biblical First and Forever

I have seen some news recently that leaves me heartbroken.  Groups are on the fence about Biblical truth due to secular and worldly pressure.  As Christians, we are constantly being told by the world we need to compromise, to just give in.  There are groups and organization, churches and leaders who are abandoning the clear word of scripture in favor of social and political correct behavior.

It's not going to get easier.  Currently the City of Houston is putting pressure on pastors in regards to they way they speak about homosexuality.  This won't get better, it will come to the point that calling come sins what they are, sin, will become a hate crime.  Pastors will lose their pulpit, churches will loose buildings and jail time may end up being served.  It seems to be coming faster than we would like.

It doesn't matter.  Wovenism says that Bible is truth that is Woven into our daily lives.  Homosexual behavior is a sin.  Extra and premarital sexual activity is a sin.  It's not ok, but it is forgivable, just like hate and lying and stealing and gossip and every other sin that we often fall into.  It's sin and it breaks God's laws.  God's design is for completion of man and woman together to create the foundation of a family which serves as the building blocks of community which builds society.  As we have begun to view marriage and family as something that exists to make us happy instead of building society, we blew it.  Divorce rates went up, marriage is defined and redefined.  It's not about making a man or woman happy, it's about building a society that is focused on God and bringing Him glory.

As a Wovenist, I'll always stand for this.  I'll always stand on scripture and it's truth, and I will never have to stop and debate if I am going to trust in the Word.  It's a finished debate, Bible wins.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Still Live Post Surgery

Some of my readers may know, I just had an operation (oct 1st) and it's been a wild ride.  It was planned to be a laproscopic procedure, I have already had it done once.  The first time I was done in a couple of hours and home the same night.  Well, this time was a bit different.  Due to scar tissue and other difficulties, they opened me up, the surgery took 7 hours and there was a hole in my lung that caused it to collapse and I was in ICU for almost 3 days.  I was on oxygen for almost a week, I was out of the hospital a week from the surgery instead of the next day.

I have been home recovering, can't eat any solid foods and I'm exhausted most of the time.  Things have been harder and slower this surgery than last time, so there hasn't been much for blogging.  I have had lots of thoughts to share while I have been mostly incapacitated.  I hope to be able to share them with you in the days and weeks ahead.  Thanks for sticking with me as I had my insides rearranged.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Whose Advice Are you Taking?

I listen and I take note to many of the voices speaking in society.  Some of them are good, some of them are not.  Ok, most of them are not.  We listen to those who can speak the most elegantly, but often lack conviction in their lives or ministries.  I have heard pastors get excited from the pulpit and say they would do things they never did.  We listen to advice from friends who can't make their life work, and ignore those with wisdom and incite.  We listen to the young and popular, and it's a bad idea.  Look at Rehoboam.  He didn't listen to his dad's advisers, he listened to his buddies and he split the kingdom.  Ahab listened to his life (never trust a woman named Jezebel).  Job's wife and friends gave bad advice too.  Moses was smart, he listened to his father in law.

Who are you listening too?  Gossip columnist and movie stars, musicians, politicians?  Maybe it's a young, hip pastor or leader or CEO.  Lots of advice books and columns and radio shows.  I put my trust in the Word of God, lots of dead men (Edwards, Owens, Spuergeon, etc).  I'm not telling you who is listen too, you don't even have to listen to me.  Just be wise with who you seek for counsel and who you are listing too.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sometimes You Need Some Space

I think that sometimes the best thing you can do in relation to other people is sometimes limit contact.  In this modern world of ours, we have this fake interaction we call Social Media.  Some of it is good, some of it is bad but much of it is too much.  We share what we eat for breakfast, where we are with who doing what and when.  We assume the world wants to know what time I brush my teeth and where I got my coffee from this morning.  Most of it is pretty harmless, and even fun or funny.  Sometimes, it's not as harmless and we need to be proactive.

We all have things that get on our nerves, and sometimes that thing is posted all over social media.  Mine is when people isogete (take the Bible out of context to make a point) or make theological statements that are in contradiction to the Bible, just because they don't really like what the Bible says is true.  Drives me up the wall.  My other issue is Pharisee-ism, people who want to condemn everyone, but care about no one.  We can call it judging and condemning from afar.  We are to hold each other accountable WHILE carrying one another's burdens.  We were never meant to stand with arms folded and critique.  When people do that, it makes me want to fold my arms and critique.  Yes, it's hypocrisy, and I'm aware of the issue.  It's because of I have this issue that I recommend some space.  Sometimes the best thing you can do when someone drives you nuts, pushes your buttons and makes you crazy is take them off social media, avoid prolonged contact and learn to love them from arm's length.  Don't judge them, don't critique them, help and pray for them but don't follow them on Social Media.

We are commanded to love one another, and sometimes the best way to do that is with some distance.  Give them (and yourself) some breathing room.  If you have a pet peeve and I bug you, you have my permission to love me from afar.  I may be the best thing for both of us.