Monday, October 26, 2015

The Peace Of Wild Things...

Beyond the windows of my study the brilliant green of summer is slowly giving way to yellow and orange and faded colors. Leaves, heavy with raindrops and hassled by brisk winds, fall to the surface of the pond. In the heavens above there is not a trace of blue sky.

For reasons I don't fully understand, just as a low-pressure weather front has enveloped The Shire, so too, a heaviness presses down on my spirit. During such times, I lean heavily on prayer and sit quietly listening for the encouragement of God's quiet voice.  I expect the Comforter to speak comfort through His word, through poetry, through music, and through my senses. It's not a demand. It's an expectation.

I found this poem by Wendell Berry. Maybe this poem found me...

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, 
and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water. 
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 

~ Wendell Berry, Collected Poems

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Last of the surgeries...

For my friends and family who have asked...

On Friday, I had the last of my surgeries; two on my left arm. Already, most of the feeling has been restored in my palm and fingers that since my accident have been numb. Unlike my right arm, these surgeries didn't require the ulnar nerve to be re-routed. The surgeon was able to relieve pressure on the ulnar nerve without re-routing it. He said there was extensive pressure in the carpal tunnel that needed to be released. A few weeks of strength training should return my hand to the dexterity I am used to.

It's been over seven weeks since the surgeries on my right arm. As of today, little has changed and feeling has yet to be restored. But the damage in my right arm was a lot more significant. Re-routing the ulnar nerve was necessary, and there was a lot of compression in the carpal tunnel. My surgeon says that feeling should return at about the six month mark.

Thanks to my friends and family for their prayers!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

It's Real...

From prison, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to a Faith Community in the city of Ephesus. He's not an angry young prophet, or sensationalist. Paul is a veteran spiritual leader, seasoned by years of unswerving commitment. When we read that letter today, it is broken into chapter and verses. You probably know all that, but it's helpful to think of its personal nature, rather than approach it impersonally. Paul writes with the passion of experience. He knows. He cares. He loves the recipients.

In chapter six, the Apostle Paul, tells his Christ-follower friends that they are under spiritual attack from multiple directions. Descriptive language, describes layer upon layer of oppression and unrelenting resistance against their profession of faith. It isn't fanciful, it's real. Whether they recognized it or not, Paul describes the marshaling of evil like a siege of sorts, schemed by a brilliant, but rotten to the core, mastermind, called, Diablos. Diablos is an old word that means "Accuser." For us English speaking people it's translated "Devil." It's more than a name--it's a description of his character. His bent.

And how's this for irony? The "Accuser" is actually the first of all created beings to be accused--and found guilty--of high treason against his Creator. Yet, day-after-day, the Accuser rails accusations against those who have humbly confessed to that same Creator that they, too, are guilty sinners. But with one gigantic difference: they found grace and forgiveness and redemption in the provision of God's Only Son.

Consider this...

The Accuser sees God's people, individually or collectively, as target rich environments. He is methodical and sly. To be successful, he must disarm them. What does he do?

Truth? He waters down God's, by mixing an ounce of it with an ocean of lies.

Righteousness? He would convince the faithful it is of the designer type--self-righteousness. Make your own check-list. It's easy!

Standing and withstanding? "Take a stand, but neither on, for, or against anything."

Shield of faith? With soul killing intention, he lets the red-hot arrows fly. Unstoppable, and unquenchable, except by the shield of faith, that he would convince the timid to lay down.

Helmet of salvation? Heads, once clear and discerning, he numbs and confuses with cloudy thinking.

Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God? With an evil heart, he slashes at the believer's spirit. If possible, have them forget there is a sword with which they can fight back.

Paul says, "The battle is real. Put on the whole armor of God...and fight!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

How Big Is Your Shield?

Title: How Big Is Your Shield?
Text: Ephesians 6: 16; Mathew 4: 

The Roman soldier’s armor. 
While on the battlefield the Roman soldier never took off certain armor: the wide leather belt that covered his lower abdomen, could, at a moments notice, be used to tuck in all the loose ends of his tunic, making him streamlined, illusive, and battle ready. His breastplate protected him from unseen archers who could launch an arrow that could pierce his heart and kill him. He would always have his specifically designed battle shoes on--if he couldn’t stand or withstand he couldn’t fight. 

The Believer’s armor. 
Like certain pieces of the Roman soldier’s armor, as metaphor, the believer had the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of the gospel of peace. These were meant to be constantly worn. 

Staying with the metaphor, Paul uses a specific a specific word when talking about the Believer’s shield of faith. The Roman soldier carried two types of shields. One was disc shaped, about 2 feet in diameter. It was used to parry the sword thrusts of an enemy in hand-to-hand combat. Many a little boy used the pickets of a fence, and the cover of a garbage-can as a make believe sword and shield of this sort. I know I did. 

In battle, no soldier was in the preferred situation when he was isolated, and fighting for his life with the smaller shield as his only protection. The optimum strategy for success and survival was to stay behind the big shields held by those on the front lines of battle. The big shields were over 4 feet tall and more than 2 feet wide. Soldiers could crouch behind them; their entire body concealed and protected against fiery darts/arrows. The big shield allowed soldiers to link-up with one another. side-by-side, the bearers of the big shields could form a wall and ceiling of protection. From behind those big shields, archers and swordsmen would strike back against the enemy. Also, those big shields could be soaked in water, so that incoming flaming darts would be quenched when they struck the shield. This was important. Why? Because the big shields, drenched in water, snuffed out the fiery arrows and prevented collateral damage from burning shards and splinters and shrapnel that could wound fellow comrades.

The believer’s armor is the Big Shield and described with this subtle change, In all circumstances take up the [BIG] shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. ~ Ephesians 6:16 This piece of armor is to be taken up and used at specific times.

This Sunday, we will work through the question, “How Big Is Your Shield?”