Why?

I preach from a chair, lately. It’s not what I want. It’s not what I anticipated. But, it is my recent reality.

I am a pastor. A teacher of the Word of God. One, among many, who have given their lives to the inspiration and building up of others for real life. In such a vocation, one imagines a life unhindered and always favored. But, I have come face to face with the harsh reality that bad things do happen to good people, and there isn’t always an immediate reply from heaven.

I have been in pain every day for the last 4 months. For some unknown reason, my gut decided to rebel against me, and it no longer is happy moving food through its system. Weakness and fatigue have been a state of being. In my distress, like most people, questions have arisen to challenge my belief. There’s, of course, “Why me?” But on a more guttural level, and more difficult question, “Where is God in it all? Where are His promises?”

I have never faced a more difficult trial in my life.  You can’t escape your body.  There’s no where to run and not face the pain.

But, in the midst of my despair…truth arose. Life is not the absence of pain, but the revelation of oneself through the trial. If I have heard God in anyway through my current season, He made it clear to me that I am not the only one in pain. In a moment, when I was crying out to God for relief, a conviction in my spirit rose up. God said, “Others are in pain also.” Intuitively, I knew what my Lord meant. My suffering is sharing in the distress of others…of all humans. Like Jesus, “who was the first born among many brothers and sisters,” God has given us all a sharing in the suffering of others so that we might love like Him.

Everyone experiences pain. Whether it be for a day, a month, or even years, it challenges us and calls us to be more than we are. It reaches into the core of our being and draws out of us more than we desire to give, but it must finish its work in us so that we can be made “complete, not lacking anything” for the days ahead.

Truly, I have learned in a new way that God’s presence is not only felt in moments of ecstasy, but in the stillness of the night where hope is our only solace and our true blanket of security. This is real hope…that Jesus’ resurrection gives meaning to life…that God’s presence is always with me…that God’s love will always heal no matter what I’m experiencing.

Does God work miracles, today? He absolutely does! I have seen ears open, cancer healed, and eyes opened. But this message is not about that.

In the western world, we do not have a good theology of suffering. So, when it happens, we get blind sided, and wonder where all the promises of God have gone. Throughout history, people of faith have tried to circumvent these moments where we are made more perfect; but I am discovering they are necessary. Please understand, though, God does not give us disease, nor does He wish evil on anyone! God is good, and loves all the time. But since the fall of humanity, evil has been forced into the system, and so we will experience trials of all kinds. But in the midst of our battles, God’s love becomes more manifest. His light becomes brighter. In it all, we get to choose our transformation—to become agents of His love and light in a world where darkness abounds.

Allow me the joy of speaking strength into your heart. If you are suffering, you are not alone. We are all in this together. God is with you, and He will journey with you. The Lord is not far; He lives within you.  Allow His voice to be louder than all others within you.  Believe Him, and He will strengthen you until “Victory!” becomes your testimony.

So…let’s keep praying for one another until we become the men and woman God envisioned from the beginning—those that are truly healed, both now and for all eternity.!

I love you all!

A Preview to Sunday’s Message

I’m getting very excited to bring you Sunday’s message…so, here’s a little preview to whet your appetite.

Jesus, said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, ESV)

It’s normally assumed that the “works” that Jesus did, and the “works” that we are promised to do, are the miracles of Jesus’ ministry.  That would be natural.  The promise even gets us excited about the possibilities of doing the supernatural.  But, let me propose to you that this may not be accurate to the language or Jesus’ intent.

Consider this: Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the healings and miracles Jesus demonstrated were actually the fruit of His “works?”  I actually believe the “works” were everything that preceded the miracles.  As Jesus extended forgiveness, fellowshipped with the undesirables, and taught what faith truly means, He created an environment for miracles to happen.

By example, it would not be proper to say that the products we buy at a retail store are the work; they are the result of the work done.  The preparation, organization, manufacturing, etc. are the work required to deliver the product into the hands of the consumer.  In like manner, our work is not to do the miracles of Jesus, it’s creating the atmosphere where miracles are possible.

So, when Jesus says that we would do “greater works,” He was not speaking of doing something greater than raising the dead.  He was speaking of the opportunity of God’s love spreading through His body at an increasing measure and effectiveness!  We don’t do miracles; we do love.  We create the atmosphere of acceptance, forgiveness, and restoration; and God does the rest!

Let today be a day of miracles because we love like Jesus.