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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