A dream about The Dream.

Woke up with a dream at being at a YL Celebration. The joy of being with people who knew that they had changed the world that they lived in. It’s like we are a boat plowing through the water and we leave behind us this wake of people who lives will never be the same. And yet we move on to the next class, and those behind are left bobbing in the wake that was your life’s purpose effecting their future, including their eternal future. In this dream, I met Tom and Kathy Temple at the YL celebration. They were so happy to see me, but more, I was so happy to catch up with them. For once they had graduated from SM WEST, I have never seen them again. At this celebration, I was suppose to meet a staff person from across the country that I didn’t know, and I missed that appointment because it was so important to me to be with the Temples. They were the reason that I was put on earth. I took time to apologize to the staff person, but this is an analogy. The people that I disappoint because I am with the Temples, will just have to get over it. What joy to see the rest of the life that God had planned for people that we touch. The point is that we don’t get to see the rest of the story. Only in heaven do we see the rest of the story. Jesus calls us to touch the life that is in front of us, and be Jesus to them, and then we are off to the next thing. Oh, the joy when we get to stay in touch and know the rest of the story. And you get this if you are lucky enough to get to stay in the same town or city. But some are asked to move on like Abraham and we follow the call of God. And the wake goes on and we are joyful because we know that we are making an eternal difference. In the dream, Tom and Kathy and I were climbing stairs to go spend time together, and even there we got separated, because she had to stop for a call that said her kids were awakened. And there was just a glimpse, and I was on the ground playing with their kids for just a short space of time, and then whoosh it was all gone and I woke up. Find the GOOD: sure there are the bumps in the road, but know and enjoy the big picture.


“Content makes poor men rich. Discontent makes rich men poor.” Ben Franklin
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Timothy 6:6-10
I wish I were more content. I am not content with my lack of contentment. I have watched my Mom teach me contentment. Every time that I visit her in her retirement home, she exclaims, “This is the perfect place for me. I am so happy here.” She has been saying the same thing for 104 years. She has trained herself to find the good. When she lost her husband, when she lost her ability to drive, and play bridge, she kept her contentment. She looks for the sunny side of the street and finds it.
Comparing is one sure way of destroying your ability to be satisfied. When we compare ourselves to others, we ALWAYS compare the trait that we are weak in to someone that has that trait as a strength. ALWAYS. When someone compliments you on your strong characteristic, you simple laugh it off and say, “That is really easy and simple.” It is not simple to the person who does not have that quality!
But you can get better at anything that you set your mind and attitude to improve. For contentment, I have started to look for the good in things. I try to write for ten minutes on anything that I find beautiful and excellent. This draws out of me a strength that has lain dormant for lack of use. I believe we each have hidden qualities that only come out when we take on a task that is beyond our abilities. God seems to stretch me when I step out in faith to attempt the impossible. When I sit in my comfort zone, and only do what I am good at, then these dormant qualities sleep quietly below the surface. But take on a battle of David and Goliath proportions, and (1) God shows up and (2) hidden powers rise to the surface. Live in the comfort zone and you never develop these sleepy powers.
Be content in what God has given you and also work towards widening those skill sets you need to make the world different.

Good is good, all the time.

“I am the Good Shepherd… I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8

When adversity strikes and the wolves are circling in for the kill, it is really easy to feel sorry for yourself, get angry at some innocent person, and blame God for these troubles. Why doesn’t He protect his children? We do not see the many times that He does cover us from harm. Amy Grant sings about “angels watching over me.” Jesus promised that adversity would come. “In the world you have tribulation. Take courage, I have overcome the world.” For me, this is the key to overcoming the temptation to doubt God’s goodness. Take my eyes off myself and onto Jesus. Easy to do. Hard to do.

If you were sold a bill of goods that God will bless you for following Him, and make the path straight and easy, then you need to read more of the Bible. Did Moses have problems? Did David have an easy time of it? How did it work out for John the Baptist? Then there was Jesus and Good Friday. It is easy to doubt that God is good when things go south. This is one of the favorite tricks of the enemy- to tempt you to believe that God is not good or not strong enough to help you in your trials. The heart of all heresies starts with a wrong view of God. (Tozer)

Prescription #2 (Number 1 was taking my eyes off me and onto Jesus): Find the Good. Give thanks to the Father for everything in your life that blesses you. Roses. Children. Food. A heart that keeps pumping. Wounds that heal. Shakespeare: “What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” Ann Voskamp writes about 1000 gifts, when she was feeling some of the weight that we all feel to doubt God, and she started writing down all the gifts that she saw from God’s hands. She didn’t stop when she reached 1000! It changed her for eternity.

Finally, Bill Johnson has said, “If your situation is not good, then God is not finished yet.” He didn’t leave Jesus in the grave. He will keep using the materials of your circumstance to build the new you, and your new world. This too will end.

Freedom to love life.

I John 2:15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

“God made me to run fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure.” Eric Liddell, The Chariots of Fire.

2 Timothy 3 is well known for the last 2 verses that start: “All Scripture is God breathed…”
However, it is chock full of other strong assertions by Paul, writing to his mentor Timothy. He talks about the terrible times that are coming when people will tear others down, not obey their parents, will love themselves and money, and they will love what pleases them. As I meditated on these verses, I started to look for somewhere to hide. People who love what pleases them. I love what pleases me. I made a list: Hawaii, Robin’s love, playing games, following those (first place with the best record) Cardinals, watching relaxing TV. Then, I John 2 came to mind: “Do not love the world or anything in the world.”

Something is wrong here. God made this world and made us in His own image. We are His creation. Can I love God and also love watching sunsets? Of course, I can. But it is not that simple. We can get into dangerous territory when the things we love take God’s place. But if God is our treasure, and we have put Him first, then we are to enjoy His world, even TV! Loving God and loving things in His world are NOT mutually exclusive. Eric Liddell got it right. (sorry if you are under 50 and have no idea who he is. That is what Google is for.) We are free to enjoy Christ and His creation. We can feel his pleasure when we are enjoying the freedom that He gave us on the cross. About Lazarus, Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go free.”

Are you free to enjoy this world and all that God has made? As a father, nothing gives me more pleasure than watching my kids and grandkids enjoy life freely. Nothing gives the Father more joy than watching His kids enjoy His creation. He is not pleased when we are so bound by rules that we are not free to laugh, and do the things that give us pleasure. Just always say thank you to your Father.

Free people, free people.
Hurt people, hurt people.

God’s Protection

“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” Psalm 91:7
“God does protect us, except when He chooses not to.” Barry Reifel

There is a subtle under-teaching in the Church that if we follow Jesus, then our lives will be better than they were before. If we follow Jesus in this covenant relationship, then He will shield us from bad things happening to us and our family. This is not taught in Scripture, and is just not true.
It is true that our lives are better with Christ, but in the sense that He lives within us and helps us deal with the troubles that are bound to come. God protects every day of your life. Angels get bent wings because of us. But there are times that He does not protect and allows trouble to come. How are we different that others? I love the bumper sticker that says: “Christians are not better, they are just better off.” This allows us to be full of joy in spite of circumstances.

Paul teaches us to be “content in all weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” A follower of Christ’s circumstances are no better than anyone else. Paul suffered under trouble, hardship, famine and sword. Jesus went to the cross. When a hurricane hits Florida, it takes out the brothel as well as the church.
There is a book entitled “Things Fall Apart.” Because of sin, our bodies fall apart, and things go downhill. The word entropy defines this: a gradual decline into disorder. Look at your son or daughter’s bedroom and you will notice entropy. Things move down like an escalator from order to disorder. Things fall apart. Tim Keller says that Christians have been taught the idea that “if things don’t go right, I’m going to sue!” If you are a believer, please get rid of this idea.

God is in control. John Newton has a famous line: “Everything is necessary that He sends. Nothing can be necessary that He withholds.” When you really believe that God is in control, then you believe that everything does work together for good. Not each individual circumstances. But as Keller preaches: “The promise is that taken in the totality, your life will turn out for the good. Each bad patch does not turn out for good. The whole turns out for the good.” In Phil. 4:13, Paul teaches: “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.” The word “do” in the Greek means “I can take in stride”. A good translation would be: I can take in stride all things in Christ who strengthens me.” It does not teach that I can do superhero events like fly or leap tall buildings with a single bound. This teaches that because Christ lives in me, then when things fall apart around me, I can take it in stride. I can do this because I believe Christ is in control, and in the totality, these things will turn out for good.

Please share your ideas about His Protection in your life.

Recovery from back surgery

Day 1
I had back surgery on Wednesday, February 11, 2015.My doctor fused my Lumbar 3-4-5 vertebrae together. Those aren’t just ordinary screws, but $35,000 for the 6 Titanium screws. He also put in a “spacer” between each of the vertebrae which kept the sciatic nerve from being compressed. There was also some “cleaning up” of the spaces between the vertebrae. I am not sure of the official name for this.
I woke up at 5:00 pm. I had “refused” to take the Versed, which causes you not to remember any part of the surgery. My belief is that the less medicine, the better. The Versed was just one thing that I didn’t need. I woke up with my wife Robin in the room with me. I had a “button” that I could push that would dispense morphine, my drug of choice. The pain was under control, and I was comfortable laying in my hospital bed. I noticed right away that my “systems” were messed up. I was hiccupping for hours at a time. They gave me some lemons to suck on, but to no avail. My hiccups stayed with me for 48 hours. I could not pee the first night. I did try, and came away with two drops of red liquid. Blood or urine? There wasn’t enough to worry about.
I was determined to stay on top of the pain, so I set my smart phone alarm to go off every 10 minutes which would wake me up to push the button which gave me the dose of morphine. The bag of pain medication was empty at 3 or 4 am in the morning. There was no indication whether this was fast or slow. They thought it was best for me to leave the hospital on Thursday, so they changed my pain control medicine to a pill taken by mouth. They started by given me one pill of HYDROmorphone. As soon as I took this pill, my body rebelled, and I immediately vomited, but just a little. They tried another pill of Hydromorphone, and I filled the bag with vomit. Robin went down and bought a drug called Enoxaparin to control nausea.
I didn’t walk any that first night.
Day 2
This day was dominated by trying to move from the HIV drip for pain (which had run out at 3 am in the morning- By the way, I should have said to them, “get another bag of drip morphine”, rather than have them talk me into going to a pill by mouth.) As mentioned, every time that I took the new pain pill I threw up, and therefore didn’t have the needed pain medication. I would use the walker in the hospital to take short walks, just to prove that I could. I mostly slept through this day. Urination did not come easy. I drank lots of water to keep from getting dehydrated. At 4 pm, I was checked out of the hospital and driven home by my wife. This turned out easy. I was able to walk to the bathroom and urinate, but it was almost hourly. Lots of gas in my stomach which I belched up continually. My sleep was deep, but short, with the longest that I slept the first 2 days would be 2 hours and 30 minutes. My sleeping got longer during night 3 & 4. I would sleep as long as 5 hours.
Put a paper tablet by your bed or in the bathroom and record all the intakes and outputs. Mine looked like this:
7:30 am – vomit small amount into vomit bag, poor effort
7:45 am – vomit exceptionally well into vomit bag, must be some badge or prize for this output
8 am – vomit medicine
9 am – 1 pain pill
12:30 pm – 1.5 pain pill
1:00 pm – Miramax for BM
4:30 pm – 1 pain pill.
(You think that you will remember this, but you won’t!! Write it down- better still, have someone write it down who isn’t on drugs!)
My pain pill was changed to oxycodene because I seem to have that vomit thing with Hydromorphone. I tried to have no more than 2 pills of pain medication every 5 hours. By day 3, this was down to 1.5 pills every 4 hours. When you start sleeping 5 hours a night, then you have to decide whether you set an alarm to wake yourself up to take a pain pill. I found I was waking up anyway, so I would just wait for the natural wake up time, which was between 2 and 3 am.
It was a Hallelujah moment when the catheter came out! at the hospital. Look up stinging in the medical dictionary and they will show a catheter.
The Hard Part: The hardest part for me was getting out of bed from a prone position, which you had to do 12-20 times a day. There are only two ways where this is easy: (1) if you have a power lift recliner that you sleep in. The recliner then lifts your body to a standing position. (2) If you have a hospital bed in your home, then it can be rigged to have a “pull up bar” over the bed. This can be used to pull your body up to a sitting position.
If you do not have either of these options, then your only choice is to have someone help you move from a sleeping position to a sitting position or to do it by yourself. My bed was higher at about – 48 inches high-/ So once that I got into a sitting position, I could get to a standing position by leaning slightly forward with my hands on my thighs and sliding off the bed onto my feet. Then I would worked my hands up my leg till I was in a standing position. The first few days, I used a walker to help me get “up.”
Getting from a prone position to a sitting position: This is hard because (to state the obvious) you have a 6 inch incision on your spine which has screws and other hardware stuck in there. I tried to sleep on my left side because I had less pain on my right spine area. I got to a sitting position, by slowing getting my feet out from under the covers, taking the pillow out from between my knees (putting a pillow between your knees seems to align your back properly), and then lifting my head and upper body so that I could get up on my left elbow. All the while, I am pushing down with my right arm with fingers extended giving me that crucial two inches that got me on my elbow. From this position, I could drop my feet towards the floor and sit up.

Day 3
This day is remembered because I took my first shower. My son came over to help me because it was a bonding thing to do. I could manage the shower just fine but not the toweling off my back side. It is worth the effort to get clean.
Day 3 is remembered for urinating without pain for the first time, and often! At least every 90 minutes. I felt strong and would walk around the house 15 minutes of every hour that I wasn’t sleeping. I walked so much on day 3 & 4, that I had a “down” day on day 5, needing to sleep the whole morning before I felt better. But still I felt good enough day 4 & 5 to take a short walk around the block. I guess there is nothing better than walking for the healing of your back, so might as well get to it.
I got bored lots on this day. Hard to believe that people WANT to be on drugs. Ugh! Your mind is only half engaged, and it’s hard to keep track of things, or shows that are on TV. My wife Robin got lots of laughs at me as I inquired about what was going on in that last 15 minutes of that TV show.
I was motivated to read, but I just couldn’t get it done, except for my daily devotions. It was nice reading my emails and getting encouragements from others that they were thinking and praying for me. “You reap what you sow”, Jesus said. So if you inform folks with an email or Facebook or a tweet, then you will hear back from people.
Day 6 to 21
Patience is the key on these days. You will know if you overdid it the day before because the next day you will feel poorly, and need to stay in bed and rest and sleep. It’s good to find one thing that has improved from yesterday: a bowel movement!, a BM without straining!, sleeping through the night, taking less pain medication, walking farther, no longer have to wear the brace in bed, the pain is no where close to the pain I had before surgery, I went to a movie and sat for 2 hours!
I slowly weened myself off of the pain medication, taking one pill every 3 hours, then every 4 up to every 9 or 10 hours. Every patient is different, but for me I was trying to do without the pain med after 4 weeks. As I started walking outside, I noticed a pain in both hips. This was an ache as opposed to a sharp pain, but it got worse and worse. I finally called the doctor’s office and they said this is quite common after surgery, and the best thing for it was Salonpas Pain Relief Patches that you can buy at any Walgreens or Wal-Mart. The other things to try is heat and ice.
Walking seems to help the bone to grow in your back, something about the womp, womp, womp of the feet hitting the pavement builds bone. So walk as much as you can.
Day 40: I finally get off my pain pills.
Day 45: I slept through the night for the first time!
Please put down your experiences as they might help someone else, since each of us seem have unique times of it with a back operation. What was hardest for you? What device or habit helped you to get through this?

Suffering For Jesus

“Now I rejoice for what was suffered for you and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions for the sake of the body, which is the church.” Colossians 1:24

I couple of questions come to my mind as I read this verse: 1. What was lacking in Christ’s sufferings? 2. How does the suffering of Paul make up for this lack? 3. How does this apply to us today?
To answer these questions, we must step back and take a look at the Big Picture. If you read this passage in context, you see that Paul saw himself on a journey to deliver the Mystery to all men, “completing them in Christ.” (v.28) There was a concept at the time of Christ, that only special people should hear the Gospel or any teaching for that matter. Paul takes the rather courageous step to state that this Gospel is for all men, all women everywhere, not just for a chosen people. That’s the big picture.

This verse does not say that there was anything lacking in the atoning work of Christ. It says that when Jesus went home to the Father, there was still work to be done, but not work to complete the atonement. The atonement work is done once and for all on the cross. What Paul is addressing here is that Jesus Christ handicapped Himself by deciding to use the body of Christ to finish the work of getting the Gospel to the nations. There has been lots of suffering over the years to preach the Gospel to all the world.
Paul went through lots of suffering to get the Word out, but what he is referring to here seems to be his imprisonment. This allowed him time to write the letters that we have today! No imprisonment, probably no letter to the Colossians. So the answer to question 2 is simple that Paul’s suffering and imprisonment helps to complete the task of getting the Word to all people.

How does this apply to us today? My back is hurting today from an old automobile accident. But I do not get to use this pain and say I am completing the suffering of Christ. This applies to us today in our willingness to “suffer” inconvenience, embarrassment or getting a reputation as we try to share Christ with people around us. We do this in a loving, caring way, like one beggar showing another beggar where to find food.

What suffering are you encountering in your life because you are attempting to get the mystery out to others?