28 July 2016

Too Much Bad News?

Then wash your eyes out with this...
From Mark 5:21 Now when Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side, a great multitude gathered to Him; and He was by the sea. 22 And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet 23 and begged Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” 24 So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him.
25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”
29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”
31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”
32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”
35 While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.”
40 And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41
Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement.

There is enough substance in this passage for several sermons, but I want to discuss the situation that many of us may be facing: weariness from a seemingly-unending stream of bad news.

The news from our nation's capital could wear out anyone, these days. It seems to be one bit of unpleasant political hi-jinks after another, with no end in sight. Then they all stand around, applauding each other for having successfully done an "end-run" around yet another Constitutional prohibition.

People say to me, "Reverend Paul, I've called, I've e-mailed, I've written. I've talked to my neighbors, I've attended a town hall meeting, I've been to three political protest rallies. I've prayed, but nothing's working, and I'm tired. What am I supposed to do now?"

Jesus has an answer for that. Didn't you just know He would?

Notice that Jairus came to Jesus in faith, asking for his daughter to be healed. Jesus agreed immediately, and they set out for Jairus' home.

But then something happened: an unexpected interruption. What must Jairus have been thinking? I can almost hear his thoughts. "But ... but ... my daughter! She's sick! And you said you'd come right away. We don't have time for this!" And then, the worst possible news: "Don't bother the Master any longer; it's too late. Your daughter has died."

But that is when Jesus turned to him and said, "Don't be afraid, but only believe." In other words, "You came to Me in faith. You knew I could heal your daughter. Don't stop believing and get into fear, just because the news is bad!"

You can see where I'm going with this, can't you? Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (emphasis added)

Jairus had faith when he sought out Jesus' help, but the bad news threatened to extinguish that spark of faith. Jesus immediately turned to him and said, "Don't let that spark of faith go out: hang on! Trust Me!"

We have trusted Jesus this far ... and He's always come through, hasn't He? The answer is ALWAYS there. It may not be the answer we were expecting; it may not have been the result we imagined; but He has never, ever let us down.

Don't let that spark of faith go out. "...assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." (Matt. 17:20) The mustard plant in the Middle East produces tiny, tiny seeds, and Jesus said that's all the faith you need. But you have to have that much.

Don't start thinking that it's over, or that God has abandoned us. We've been living in a season of amazing grace, and it may be that He is now requiring that we stand on our two feet and exercise our faith. Like any muscle, faith gets stronger when it's exercised.

Don't give up; rest if you need to, but don't give up. God's still on His throne, and He will NEVER abandon us. I don't care how dark the political situation becomes, He's still our Savior!

27 July 2016

Hump Day Ouchie

In 1974, in the Navy and stationed overseas, I managed to break three vertebrae in my lower back, along with my left ankle. For those of you who want to know, it was compression fractures of L2, L4, and L5.

The VA has me on its rolls with a service-connected injury, but I won't go near that place. I'm a life member of the Disabled American Veterans, but manage to go about my life with hardly an issue, most of the time.

Emphasis on most of the time.

But every once in awhile, I manage to do something that puts me down for a few days. Over the weekend, my lovely wife and I were busily installing surround sound speakers in the living room. In the process of stepping from a short stepladder onto the hearth, the ladder went to the right as I moved to the left. I was holding onto the mantel, so it was no big deal.

Or so I thought.

But on Monday, my lower back began yelling in earnest, letting me know in no uncertain terms that it wasn't happy with me. I can sit, with some squirming, and can even stand up and walk (after a fashion) as long as there's something for me to lean on while attempting to get up. Using a cane is helpful, too, except I don't know where mine is.

This morning, I wasn't sure that I could get out of bed when the alarm went off ... and trying to stand up was a delightful (not!) exercise in pain. Felt like someone had embedded a hatchet in my spine, just below the beltline. Walking was very nearly out of the question, but I didn't have much choice since it's a workday.

So my doctor happened to stop by my office this morning, on an unrelated matter. She asked about the heating pad I'm leaning against, and ... well, after a short conversation, she handed me some samples of a strong anti-inflammatory. It's only a two-day supply, but that should be enough to see me through the current bout of ouchies.

Between the Aleve, heating pad, and the sample stuff, I'm feeling much more relaxed, if a tad sleepy. I can even stand up straight ... well, almost.

So y'all are on your own, vis-a-vis a meaningful and/or thoughtful post. But I appreciate you stopping by, just the same.

Hump Day Giggles

Hump Day giggles – a Wednesday funny picture collection

26 July 2016

Hard to Believe

No, I'm not referring to Hillary Clinton et al. Although it would be an appropriate description of my reaction to the subject.

But I digress.

It's hard to believe it's nearly August already. This summer has flown by, more quickly than usual. Prob'ly had something to do with all the packing, moving, unpacking, and household chores.

But here it is, July 26th. Of course, in a peculiarly Alaskan twist, it was 49° on my deck this morning. Although AccuHunch surmises that we might get into the upper 60s today, a return to summer weather is a week away. Or so they predict.

We've had several consecutive days of rainfall, and the fire department/Dept. of Conservation/everyone else has finally contained the McHugh Creek fire. They began rolling up all the hoses and sprinklers laid out in the southern subdivisions yesterday, finally secure in the knowledge that we've had enough rain for it to be absorbed by the greenery. Thus the risk of wildfire is reduced to acceptable levels.

Much ado is being made about properly protecting homes on the edge of wilderness, by clearing trees out to a safe distance from houses, pruning crowns at least 10 feet apart, and so on. Most homes on wooded lots are completely surrounded by trees, and in many cases only the building site and driveway were cleared.

Like mine, f'rinstance. Even the homes with manicured front yards (roughly half, in our subdivision) have trees too close, by fire safety standards.

So we have to weigh the cost and trouble of removing a couple dozen large trees from the sides and rear of the house. It will be neither easy nor inexpensive. And frankly, I'd rather not.

On the other hand, I'd rather not let my house burn down, either.