The Pastor's Perch

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It's been a while since I posted. Not that I didn't want to. Many things happen in a person's life, things that take priority. Even our Lord Jesus had to take time from His busy schedule to attend to things. Not that He can't be everywhere. He could, but to test people, and to let people know that He uses the things He created to serve others, He often allowed interruptions in His ministry. These interruptions were interruptions of further interruptions. In Luke 8:40-56, Jesus is at it once again, bringing the kingdom into focus in people's lives. Here comes Jairus, a ruler of the local church, whose 12-year-old daughter is (from the last he saw her) near death. She does die while her father and Jesus make their way to the house where she is. In the process, a woman with a 12-year-old illness sneaks up behind Jesus to get healed when she touches His robe. Talk about cutting into the line! She had patiently waited and paid through the nose to doctors to heal her, and it only got worse. Desparation causes her to cut into the line, and now poor Jairus must wait while the Great Physician pronounces that her faith in Him was well placed; she is healed by Jesus. So that leaves Jairus out in the cold: his daughter is dead and he is like most of us dads, lost in inconsolable grief. Why her and not my child? Why a line-jumper and not me? The point is that Jairus was a line-jumper also. He comes swooping in and wants Jesus to drop everything to heal his daughter. But the point is that both Jairus and the unnamed woman trusted that Jesus could heal and save. They were desparate and now the Lord is there, and they in great faith approached Him. And He more than delivered. We wish He would do for us what He did for them. Often people think that Jesus forgot them because their issue, trouble, problem was not solved. They wake up each day with the same trouble, same problem. Where is Jesus? Right there, in the middle of their life. Right there, in the middle of the trouble. Right there. And that is there where He wants to be. Right next to you, not just when trouble occurs. All the time. And He answers prayers in His time and in His way. We trust Him, not to answer the prayer our way, but His way. Can we trust Him?

When Endings are Beginnings

My Mom died June 25 at 5:00 am. She had breathed her last and went on her final journey into heaven, which we all knew was coming, but the blow of losing her is still with us, and most intensely, with Dad. The ones left standing cry all the tears, and we are no different than any other family. But we have that hope in Christ Jesus, who swallowed death for us. St. Paul reminds us that the final victory awaits us, when all things--people, animals and the universe--will be made new by Jesus Christ and His power to bring everything into submission to His will. And His will is for our good. What He does He does for us. Google and Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. And we are forever people because Jesus died for us and paid all that we owed. When you are made debt free, you are freed to serve others who are under a crushing debt. Google and Read Galatians 6:1-10. You are freed because you have been moved from the strike zone to the safe zone of Jesus Christ. Google and Read Colossians 1:1-14. Mom's ending here leads to her beginning there in heaven. And it only gets better. Talk to me about this. God bless and keep you.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

A while back, I spoke of my mother near her exodus from this life. She continues to amaze and astound. What is ironic to me is that while her Alzheimer's continues to close her mind's ability to retain memory, it also seems to erase from her mind that she has another deadly problem, stage-3 ovarian cancer. Mom continues to soldier on, reminding us children that "God will take care of everything." The last trip I made was by plane, because the Missouri River had stopped the Amtrak line from KC, MO, to St. Louis, MO. So now I have just a few modes of transportation left, and I wonder if the next one will be by kayak or canoe. My course to mother is not as important as her course to heaven. Mom is in that part of a believer's life where she is feeling the pull to leave, where she may feel that she has run her race and waits for Lord to finish her path. Paul reminds us that we walk by faith and not by sight and we await the Lord Jesus. We live in hope and we long for our eternal home. While we kids would love for her to stay, we know unltimately it is better by far for her to proceed to her permanent home, resting until the Lord Jesus ends this all. So we pray the prayer of each and every believer, Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

God's Eyes and Ears

Psalm 11:4 "The LORD watches with His eyes and His eyelids test the righteous..."

So, you think that because God is not the all-seeing eye on the dollar bill (look at one some time soon) and He is not yelling at you to pick up your clothes or feed your starving dog, cat or ferret, that He is asleep. Bogus! He does Test us. Try this sometime: wait for your friend/parent/spouse/whatever to be napping, while they are listening to KLOVE, 88.5, 101 the Fox, or whatever radio station. Pull the plug. Wait for response. Most of us are listening, even though it looks like we are fast asleep. It is the background noise that gently lulls us into a sense of rest. Take away the noise and we often awake.

God doesn't necessarily close His eyes, but He can be silent. Will we trust Him through the silence, so that a better plan can come about? Even Christ called to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane "If it be Your will, take this cup (the Passion, Suffering, Punishment of all people of all times on the Cross) from Me. But Your will be done..."

The Father's eyelids were wide open for this, as He had to listen to His Beloved Son cry out to Him from the Cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" The Father forsook His Son so that He would NEVER, EVER, forsake you. His eyes are open, His ears hear every word, so trust Him in Jesus, because in Jesus, the Father Hears You! Wait for Him, and maybe that's a long wait, but He hears and will give you what you need when you need it. Trust Him. He does not turn away.

Read Psalm 13 and hang in there. Jesus hung for three long hours so that you would never feel the suffering we all deserve. God be with you.

And He always is.

A Premature Pronouncement

There is that famous picture of then-president Truman holding the newspaper with the headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman”, which was premature. There was Mark Twain, who, while in England, read his obituary in a newspaper, cabled back from England, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” They got it wrong. I did too. My mother, in an earlier post, was near her exodus from this life. Well, despite her disease, she lives on, and she keeps going. She may make Easter, and praise God for that. The effects of multiple diseases have not stopped her. Easter is upon her as it is upon us all.

While Jesus rose from the dead, He did die, and all those who saw Him die, all those who saw Him taken down from the cross and placed securely in a tomb—all of them—got the shock of their lives when the tomb was empty and Jesus was walking around, very much alive, but with the death wounds still on Him. That is Easter: Jesus is alive; He is visiting His followers, comforting them, forgiving them, and assuring them that He loves them and that they are pardoned of their sins. He brings the peace that no one can bring, and He does it with His scars that remind us all that we are forgiven and loved and that we have a home with Jesus now and into eternity. He is risen. He is risen.

The Next Thing: Lent and the Journey to the Cross

The Journey doesn't begin with a map. The journey doesn't begin with a plan. It doesn't begin with the first step. It begins with a beating heart. Not your heart or my heart. The journey begins with Jesus' heart. It was from eternity that Jesus' saw His passion, His life, His death, His resurrection for us. But it gets really intense at this time in His ministry, near the end, near the cross. In Luke 9 we hear, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

Jesus was to be taken up, that is, raised up on a cross for you and me. And the journey was to Jerusalem, the place of peace, that the most violence would be unleashed on the Most Holy God, Jesus in the flesh. He would willingly die for each of us. This we read, and it seems so long ago and out of touch with our life here and now. But this is the same Jesus who walks with you on your Journey, and helps you as you walk, stumble, and helps you up, carries you. It is not your Journey, but His, with His heart to beat for yours. Put your trust in Him, He cares for you. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows the path, and He has guaranteed your outcome, the end of your Journey.

Faith 101

Lent is half over, and I can see the plastic Easter eggs from here, but they are being swept down the way by torrential showers. It tests you when you want to celebrate and the outside world washes in like a tsunami.

Easter is about the Christ fulfilling the payment for the wages of our sin. He suffered for us and was punished for us. His followers could not accept that He had risen because they had seen Him die in a very nasty way. Jesus did not survive the Roman crucifixion. He willingly laid down His life and then He rose from the dead.

I don't have a really important Easter experience from my childhood, although my parents tried to make the Easter event memorable. But now I face a testing of that Easter faith: my mother, a lifelong believer and disciple, is about to complete her Easter journey to heaven. Her Alzheimer's and cancer almost cancel each other out as far as her fear of death and the unknown. For her, it is every day with Jesus, every day in that Easter faith that accepts what comes in life as life ebbs away.

At this time, she is yet among us, the living. Soon and very soon, she will be with all those whose race is run and course is done. Her simple songs she taught us come out and we remember her smiling face on Easter as each of us children successfully retrieved all the eggs, reminding us that Jesus is not in the grave, like the chocolate is not in the plastic egg. He is risen. And because He is risen, we too will rise to eternal life in Jesus who is our life, who has taken our sins away. Faith holds tight to the Lord Jesus, who holds us tighter. That is not swept away.

He is risen; He is risen indeed.