Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: January 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Temporary Pain

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, KJV)

I was sitting in the office of my "Pain Doctor" today. He'd given me an RFA treatment ,, something akin to microwaving some rambunctious nerves into oblivion .. a couple weeks ago, and I had this appointment as a routine follow-up, to see how I was doing. I've had back pain for years when standing or walking for more than 1 or 2 minutes, and finally had decided to get it worked on.

As I was sitting there, I was thinking what I'd tell the doctor when he came in. That the pain was much less now, and I could actually do things like stand in a cafeteria line for 10 minutes without any real agony in my back. How I could stand at the kitchen sink and do dishes .. which I have actually done in the past couple weeks .. albeit I do have to remember not to lean over the sink, as that'll make my back beg for mercy.

Sitting there, I happened to mention, to Peg, the most outstanding episode of pain relief in my memory. It was April 2006, on the occasion of my first knee replacement. It was done in the morning, and by evening, my leg was hurting really bad. Really, really. Now, they'd prescribed the usual pain pills for me .. and they never work (Tylenol and Aleve and stuff like that might as well be sugar pills, for me...), and the backup plan was morphine. Trouble is, morphine doesn't help, either .. it just makes me sick.

I did not sleep that night. I laid there all night, awake and in pain. Did not sleep one wink.

The next morning, the head of pain management .. a very compassionate lady .. came in and asked how I was doing. It took her all of 5 seconds to recognize my plight; she grabbed the chart, read it, and said "We can't let him go on like this...". And she ordered up an IV of Dilaudid.

I will never forget that .. after 18 hours of intense pain in my left leg, they put the shot of dilaudid in my IV and I recall quite clearly the pain diminishing to zero. If you can visualize a huge brightly lit stage, and a curtain coming down in front of it, that's just how the pain faded away.

I went to sleep immediately. 

I rather think our entry into Heaven is going to resemble that. 

One of the things we're promised in this life is troubles. Trials, tribulations, pain, disappointment, heartbreak, all the rest. The Bible warns us of that, even though we really don't want to believe it. And if you've lived any time at all, you really do know the Bible is true and our pain here is real.

It's nice to know that, even though He warned us about this, He has overcome the world. That would necessarily include the pain & heartaches He promised would fall our way. But it also tells me a couple other things.

One is that, when we do encounter trials and pain in this life, He has a purpose for it. I don't know the purpose behind a lot of it, particularly the kind that makes national headlines, but I do know the One who promised He's overcome all that. So I trust Him not to be wasting any of my experiences here.

The other thing is that I'm betting that any world He created, that we didn't mess up, would be without the kind of pains we're confronted with down here. On the one we messed up. Yet, year after year, we continue to fear death, even though it is the ultimate escape from the woes the world lays on us.

Interesting. I never figured a shot of dilaudid in 2006 could make Heaven seem a little sweeter, but guess what...

It just did.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Piper Got It Right

Peg and I have a little ritual we do around Christmas time. We hop in the car one evening and spend an hour or two, riding around and looking at Christmas lights on folks' houses in Pelham and Alabaster. We've probably done that for 15 or 20 years, and maybe more.

We used to hang a lot of outside lights on our house. I think there were something like 2,000. We'd accumulated quite a number of strings, several different types, and I draped them over the roof, back & forth from the front walkway deck to the front gutters, some around shrubs, etc. We had different kinds of strings, some flashed, some just were on, some had patterns, etc. It was quite a sight, and some nights, folks would stop out front in their cars and just look at them a while.

Eventually, though, I got tired of  climbing around on the roof and edging up to the guttering to hang them, and one year I just stopped putting the stuff up. That was probably 15 years ago, if not more.

This year, our grandson Matthew got married, and he & Kami bought their first house. Some time early in December, he asked what we'd done with all the lights, so Peg dug them all up and gave them to him. Well, except for the string she's been hanging on a beam on the back deck, which we can see from the living room.

Like, we don't care about the public any more, but we do like to see those lights ourselves. From inside.

Anyway, on Christmas eve we got into the car and headed out to see the lights again this year. Peg said she wanted to go see Matthew & Kami's first, so we drove straight to Alabaster.

That's their house, and the lights, in the picture.

We sat and enjoyed the view for a few minutes, and then a funny thing happened, At least to me. I didn't want to see any other lights on houses. I wanted Matthew & Kami's house to be the prettiest one I saw all month. It was. And we drove straight back home. I guess you can tell we're proud grandparents.

But that also brought something else to mind .. something John Piper had said in a video I'd seen a couple of times. He stated:

"God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him."

Wow. I have heard people talk for years about doing this or that, or building this or that, to glorify God. And, when I did, I thought it was ludicrous that we could do something that would glorify, or bring glory to, God. Us mere mortals enhancing the glory of God, Who is glorious beyond description. 

Well, I think John Piper figured it out. 

We could never build a building tall enough or big enough or splendid enough to add one whit to the unspeakable glory of the God Who spoke the universe into existence. We could never write or perform a song sufficiently beautiful to enhance His majesty. It is already infinite in scope and splendor. And the closest we can come to bringing Him glory is to simply acknowledge Him for Who and what He is, and be completely satisfied in our souls, with His revelation of that to us. 

I don't want to need anything external to enhance His beauty and His majesty and His glory. I want to be completely satisfied in Him, as He is. To the extent that I can comprehend that.

It's a little like Matthew & Kami's house. I don't want to see anything better. But with God, I don't even want to want anything better.

Besides, there isn't.


Monday, January 07, 2013

The Gospel Project

The people who wrote, compiled and edited the Gospel Project material, for Lifeway, are either the cleverest, or the luckiest, people I've ever met.

Seriously. Well, based on the lessons I've been involved in, so far.

As I understand it, the idea is to study the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, with an eye on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Go through the entire Word of God Christologically, so to speak, if I have the right word. And from what I've seen, it's set up to do just that.

Now: I've heard a lot of complaints about the material from teachers who don't seem to see that. But then, I fear that too many of the teachers I know have not been using the prior Lifeway Teacher's Material correctly, anyway. See, I've heard from Lifeway people, current and former, that the purpose of Teacher's Guides is to assist the teacher in preparing his lesson, so the teacher may then teach his lesson to the class. It was not designed to be carried into the class and read from. And before you get all upset about "his", I was raised in the gender-neutral "his" era, so get used to it, OK?

Needless to say, I've heard plenty of reading from Teacher's Guides, in Baptist SS classes.

The rub, with the Gospel Project: you can't do that!

Take the current lesson, I'm working on, at the present time. It concerns God's giving Kings to the nation of Israel, after the time of Judges. The three main points of the lesson are:

  • God will rule His people through a human King.
  • God will rule His people through an unlikely King.
  • God will make His name known through the obedience of His people. 
The points are substantiated via scripture passages cited, in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings.

Now .. the lesson material dealt pretty much with those passages, and made some references to modern-day believers. But there are also some huge points that can be made in this lesson, that I'll be making next Sunday (I guess this is one week I hope my class doesn't read my blog....).

  • First, His people are, today, ruled by an earthly King. True, He ascended into Heaven, but He indwells us today via His Holy Ghost.  That tells me we must need that to guide us in living the abundant life He came to provide. Otherwise We wouldn't need the Holy Spirit, and He wouldn't have had to return to Heaven so He could send The Spirit down here to be our "Comforter". 
  • Second, Jesus is certainly unlikely as a King. He's anything but the sort of royalty we expect to see when we crank up the TV and watch some nation's monarch doing something on behalf of his people. And can you imagine a monarch in, say, England, being born in a stable? So we, as was true with Israel, are ruled by an unlikely King, even 2000 years later.
  • Last, how else is God made known today? Sure, He could do the job any way He chooses. Apparently, though, He chooses to reveal Himself through His people. Particularly those who obey Him and do things like love one another ... thus showing forth His love ... and use their gifts for the building up of the Body of Christ ... that the Body may be built up for the work of service.
I haven't even started preparing my lesson yet, and all this stands out to me already.

Hey. This is getting good!

ps: Ed & Trevin: Thanks for being challenging with this. We need it!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

A Matter Of Discernment

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14; KJV)

 Interesting thought. In this era of equal rights (and equal rewards, it seem) for all, regardless of effort, seriousness, study, etc, the thought that some folks might understand things that others don't seems foreign to the public. At least the media, I think .. and probably the government .. would, seemingly, have us think so. But the Biblical statement is for darned sure true, and I think it's a general truth, too: there are some folks who just don't seem to grasp some pretty important things.

 I've been reluctant to write about the gun control/Sandy Hook/"Assault Weapons"/Feinstein-proposed-ban thing, but haven't felt moved to write about anything else until I do. So here goes.

 If you want some proof that the USA is not a "Christian Nation", just look at the collective government's efforts to deal with Sandy Hook, etc etc. Purely knee-jerk reactions threatening to slap some more laws on people who (A) weren't violating any laws or shooting anybody anyway, or (B) weren't obeying the laws already on the books. And who wouldn't obey gun purchase laws .. they'd just steal them .. or gun registration laws .. they just wouldn't .. or "assault/automatic" weapons bans .. they'd just buy them legally or illegally anyway.

 The whole governmental reaction reminds me of a summer job I had in high school. It was with a company .. a warehouse .. in which my father was in management. First summer, I did a lot of work in the warehouse and I enjoyed it. Second summer, there wasn't much to do, so most weeks the boss told me to look busy and stay out of the bosses' way so they wouldn't notice.

 That was the worst summer job I ever had. Trying to look like I was doing something when I really wasn't. And hiding that fact from the brass hats.

 I think that's what our collective representatives in the great swamp on the Potomac are doing. Trying to look like they are addressing the issue, whether they actually accomplish anything or not. And stay out of the public eye so they don't get caught doing something that isn't going to work. That, IMO, is why they are not going to pay any attention to the fact that Chicago murders are up, despite having tough gun laws on the books already.

 Obviously, the laws aren't the problem. That's the part government cannot understand. Or should I say "discern". The problem is a spiritual matter among the people .. that 3-letter one .. and collectively, government has neither the eyes to see it, the tools to fix it, nor the will to try.

 We, nationally, have marched so far into the mire of immorality and indifference to ethics, and the "entitlement" mindset, that I don't know if there's a remedy.

Short of Spiritual transformation. And that's something government, laws, or even education doesn't seem able to accomplish.

 Separation of church and state? Boy, do we ever have it.

Do we EVER!