Friday, September 16, 2011

What Part of “For a Lifetime” Am I Missing?

What Part of “For a Lifetime” Am I Missing?

I am not one to get riled up, but this one ticked me off. Big time!

As Sheila and I were winding down the evening last night, she told me of hearing about Pat Robertson’s latest public degree that a man would be morally justified to divorce his wife with Alzheimer's disease in order to marry another woman. The dementia-riddled wife is, Robertson said, "not there" anymore. It had made a secular news broadcast in Pittsburgh.

What part of “as long as we both shall LIVE” am I missing?

Pat Robertson’s statement is so wrong at so many levels!!!

There’s the human commitment level. We live in a culture that is already confused about commitment and is attempting to redefine it all the time. Jesus is the model of commitment and we are to follow that example of never, ever, ever giving up on commitments. “’til death do us part” or “as long as both shall live” is a lifetime commitment, not just until we selfishly conclude “she is no longer there.”

It is wrong at the caring level. In Sheila’s work with the elderly, she has learned that most often the last part of the brain to cease functioning is where feelings are sensed. Even though his wife may not respond in any other way, it is highly likely that she could respond to loving, self-sacrificing, heartfelt touches and words of love. People are “still there” long after our observations believe they are not.

It is wrong because of God’s purpose in marriage. Marriage is not just about the commitment between husband and wife. The Bible is clear that it is also a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the people who are His Church. If Christ was willing to die for His bride, what right does a husband have to divorce his wife because she no longer fulfills the husband’s needs? Rather, it is an opportunity for the husband to live out for God and the world the picture of Christ’s love for us! I love Gary Thomas’ book, “Sacred Marriage.”* The subtitle gives you a taste, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Yes, marriage is a gift from God, but a much different gift than most of us think. It is the opportunity to live and love as Jesus modeled.

Our human nature tends toward selfishness. Our world’s culture promotes that same selfishness. Those result in an attitude that marriage is for me, my happiness, my pleasure, me… me… me!! God’s design for marriage is an opportunity to become like Christ in self sacrificing commitment FOR A LIFETIME! Not until it is no longer convenient or enjoyable or my spouse “is no longer there.”

I would ask Pat Robertson, If it is right to abandon a spouse when “she/he is no longer there” then what prevents abandoning the spouse any other time my desires, needs, satisfaction are not fulfilled? Where does it stop? It is a slippery slope that we should not even peer at through binoculars.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND: my heart goes out to spouses and family members who must watch a loved one suffer the effects of Alzheimer’s disease or any other debilitating condition. I watched my mother care for my grandmother through long years of Alzheimer’s, my uncle lovingly care for my aunt through ALS, my best friend love his mother as she deteriorated and my father-in-law care for Sheila’s mom through debilitating illness. I don’t dismiss the pain, but I celebrate the courage and commitment of people who refuse to give up!! It is the right thing to do!

At the end of the issue is the fact that only God has the authority to proclaim what we should do, not any other human being. And He does not provide a loophole for us to abandon our commitment because we are not happy.

Just my thoughts. As passionate as they may be. I’d love to hear from you on this issue.

Boldly, Herb

*I highly recommend this book. It has given me a Biblical understanding of marriage as nothing else.

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Friday, September 09, 2011

What is God Feeling? 9/11 Revisited

On September 13, 2001, I wrote the email newsletter below. With all the remembrances around the ten year anniversary, I thought it appropriate to post it here again. At the risk of offending. Please understand that my heart and prayers go out to those whose lives have been forever altered and in no way want to diminish their loss. But more than that, my heart belongs to God. So read if you dare.

From Where God Sits, Special Edition
September 13, 2001

"What Is God Feeling?"

Along with millions of other people I listened and watched Tuesday’s tragic events unfold. Sheila and I were on our way to a night away and were headed for the PA Turnpike through Somerset County. After hearing the report of the fourth plane going down within 40 miles of us, it felt like the world was coming to an end. We turned around and headed home. Shock, horror, sadness, anger, frustration, hurt, disbelief were just some of the emotions we all felt. I hope your first reaction was to pray. Sheila and I did. Along with millions, our family has kept praying.

September 11, 2001 is a day that will live in infamy with Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, and the Challenger explosion. Only worse because of the nature of the tragedy and the cruelty of the terrorists

Interviews reported the emotions of people close to the scenes. Those of us removed by distance can only imagine the emotional, mental as well as physical trauma endured by those involved close up and those who lost loved ones. That trauma has only begun.

For the first 24 hours I was in shock, overwhelmed by feelings of being violated, by emotions of sadness for the victims, by a sense of helplessness that we can’t change what happened. Finally on Wednesday I asked God, “What is Your perspective on this tragedy, from where You sit? How do you feel?” He answered me. In a moment I’m going to let you know what I heard, but I’m taking a risk that you will not understand. I expected God to let me know how sad and angry He is. I expected words of comfort I could pass on to others. That is not what He said to me. Frankly, He shocked me and I have hesitated to pass it on. But I asked for Him to tell me. I guess I have to be ready for anything when I ask God a question!

I don’t want to sound cruel or heartless. What has occurred is a tragedy of enormous proportions. There are thousands of people who have been killed, wounded or have loved ones who are dead or suffering. That is awful. So, please understand I’m not trying to make light of it. I am not insensitive to the pain. But I heard God’s Spirit clearly speak two messages. (If you don’t like them, you can take it up with God. Remember I’m only the middle man.) Here they are…

MESSAGE #1. Moments after I asked God to give me His perspective, I heard Him say, “You kill 3,500 innocent Americans everyday. Why are you so upset and so angry about those killed Tuesday?” I was shocked. I was expecting words of comfort, of direction, of help, or anger. I heard none of that and I was immediately convicted. God’s right. He’s always right. Why are we so upset when foreign terrorists kill thousands when we do it to ourselves everyday through abortion? The life of an unborn child is just as valuable to God as any of the people who perished in these attacks. In fact the Bible is clear that God is even more protective of the little ones.

MESSAGE #2. “There is something worse than dying physically. It is dying without a relationship with Me and going to Hell.” All of heaven welcomed many of the people who died Tuesday into an eternity beyond our wildest imaginations. Those people are better off, they’re receiving a reward that will last forever and ever and ever. Others, however, entered an eternity beyond our nastiest nightmares because they refused a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That is worse than the cruelest death we will hear about.

God’s words to me, as surprising as they were, have helped bring me out of the fog of the tragedy and have given me His bigger picture perspective. Yes it is a tragedy. The ripples will last for decades. The worst may be yet to come. But thousands of people around the world suffer daily. Persecuted Christians perish day after day. People die every day within blocks of us, sometimes even cruelly. Perhaps if we are honest with God and ourselves, we have to admit that our feelings are selfish. The tragedy has threatened our personal sense of security, our personal comforts, and our self-absorbed way of life. It grabs our attention because of the unthinkable way in which we were attacked and the enormity of the loss. We are shaken. This one hit home where we thought we were safe and secure.

I invite you to refocus. Ask God to give you His perspective. Live by His promises. Absorb these…

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 (NIV)

I also invite you to put your full trust in God. Only in Him do we have true security. All other kinds of security are myths.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." Psalms 20:7 (NIV)

Let’s be God’s hands and feet, His Presence in the world. Whatever we can do, we should do. Pray, give blood, make donations, and talk with others about God’s desires for people to know Him and invite them to place their hope in God.

But let’s keep God’s perspective and live for Him in dailyness as well as times of tragedy.

Boldly, Herb

Saturday, September 03, 2011

What Kind of Day Will I Have?

Funny thing about the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had better days than we can ever fathom. Perfect. Wondrous. Full of meaning, pleasure and excitement. Day after day after day, by following God’s lead, they experienced incredible days. The day they decided they wanted to have the kind of day they wanted, EVERYTHING went south. TRULY everything. In the moment they decided they had a better idea of what a good day would be, they sent all of existence on a trail of bad days and tears. They reached for the ONE fruit that was off limits and forfeited the ENTIRE garden. Astonishing and plain stupid. If we could ask them, I am 100% sure they would tell us that the worst day WITH God is a gazillion times better than the best day WITHOUT God.

Same with us.

As I (and you) begin each day, the question is not, “Will I have a good day?” Rather, it is, “Will I have the day God has in mind?”

Embedded in the second question are further questions.
“Do I really believe that the day God has in mind is better than anything I can conjure up?”
“Do I truly embrace that a difficult day with God is better than a day that seems to be easy?”
“Am I convinced that walking in alignment with Jesus is more satisfying than any other pleasure in the world?”

7I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ Philippians 3:7-8 (New Living Translation)

If I cannot answer the above questions, “Yes. Yes. Yes. And YES!!” I am with Adam and Eve, reaching for the fruit, believing I am smarter than the eternal, all-powerful Maker of the Universe and know better what a good day will look like.

Look at that equation and the choice is clear. But what will YOU do about TODAY? Reach for the “me” fruit or trust God and have the whole Garden?

Your choice.

Stupid or smart. I’m determined to choose smart today.

Boldly, Herb

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011


I was wrong! I can’t believe it, but I was wrong. I’ve read the account hundreds of times, thought I had it right, but I was wrong.

Lying in bed, just before going to sleep a couple weeks ago, I grabbed the Bible by my bed and read Matthew 4. It is the account of Jesus going into the desert for 40 days with no food, going toe to toe with the devil with no human companions. At the end of the 40 days, the Bible says Jesus was hungry. I used to consider that one of the great understatements. But I’ve learned that when a person fasts for an extended period of time the feelings of hunger disappear, reappearing only when the body has no more reserves and needs to eat to prevent damage.

It was at this point the devil ramped up the temptations, coming after Jesus with the big three: turn rocks into bread, jump off the temple, bow to the devil and sidestep the pain.

Here’s where I was wrong. I’ve always believed and taught that the devil came after Jesus when He was at His weakest – 40 days alone in the desert and hungry. As I was reading the scripture in bed that evening, I sensed the Holy Spirit hit me with this truth: Jesus was not at His weakest but at His STRONGEST! And in that moment, I knew it was true.

Yes, Jesus was worn from the 40 days, but through the extended time with the Father and the counter-intuitive discipline of fasting and prayer, Jesus was the STRONGEST He had ever been. Scripture confirms it…

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. Luke 4:13-14 (NIV)

Soooooo… Is it possible God might be calling us to pray and fast during this Lenten season to become the STRONGEST we’ve ever been?

It is counter-intuitive after all we’ve heard about eating right, etc, etc, but in the spiritual realm, it is THE right formula for experiencing life as God designed.

WHAT WILL YOU DO? Take the hard road of discipline that Jesus traveled to emerge in the power of God’s Spirit, to see God work supernaturally, to hear God speak clearly, to watch God work in those we love, to experience life as God has designed – OR – take the road of saying yes to your desires and no to God’s and experience WAY, WAY less than God designed or desires?

Your choice. But I invite you to join me to the “Focus 40” this Easter season. I hope you will.

Boldly, Herb

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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Jesus Was Always Picking Fights

Here’s a topic you won’t hear a lot of people talk when they refer to Jesus. But it is true! Jesus was always picking fights. Just read the accounts of His life looking for it, and you will find it was His lifestyle. Not something that just happened or that He couldn’t avoid. It was what He did consistently, along with the teaching, miracles, healings, etc. Yet even in those, He often used them to start a fight!!

Jesus even did so in His home town. First time back from His baptism, desert temptation and beginning of His public ministry, He immediately picks a fight. Seems like it would be the time to let people know that the kid they watched grow up had actually been the Son of God incognito. But, NO! He picks a fight. Look at it…

1Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” 4Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7And the man got up and went home. 8When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men. 9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew 9:1-9 (NIV)
At first glance it appears He was picking fights with people, but really He was picking fights with wrong beliefs that led to wrong actions. Picking fights with falsehoods was actually the loving thing to do! Imagine that! God is showing me that we must be doing the same. If we do not follow Jesus’ example to reveal falsehood by our words and actions, we are, by omission, allowing lies to stand unchallenged. And that is not living lives of truth, being salt, light and fragrance of Christ. Nor is it “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), which is our mandate.

So… go pick a fight to for Jesus!

Boldly, Herb

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