Musing on the fragility and unpredictability of life

No matter how long we are in this world life is short. Life is filled with twists, turns, ups, and downs. There is good, bad, painful, difficult, ugly, joyous, beautiful, and painful as the Bible states in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 there is a time and season for everything. Recent life events have thoughts musing about the fragility and unpredictability of life on this earth. One day a person can have freedom the next a sudden acceleration can kill some people and a person can end up wrongly imprisoned as was the case of Koua Fong Lee who spent two years in prison but was recently released in light of the evidence of problems with Toyota’s and sudden acceleration. Joseph one day was serving Potipher the best he could and the next minute accused of trying to rape his wife resulting in many years in prison. The fact is difficult and extremely painful things can happen to any of us at anytime. They can range from minor irritations like viral infections to more severe forums of suffering.

It Matthew 5:45b (ESV) Jesus states: For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. The good and difficult things that happen in life, happen. The question for each believer is how we deal with both the good and bad. What does mean to be truly at peace and what can bring the perceived peace into question. It is during the difficult and tough times that test how we stand in pain when things are not going well. In the good times, when everything goes well the question is really is how much is the good taken for granted or seen as a byproduct of self? Paul stated in Philippians 4:13 (ESV) that the secret to any situation any season in life is: I can do all things through him who strengthens me. We can say it easily enough, but do we grasp what it means, or is it a nice phrase that can be put on a plaque on the wall?

So what does that phrase really come down to? Well examining the words a little closer it really comes down to the ability to be at true peace and wholeness comes not from our own effort but in surrender and dependence on the Messiah. It really points for the need to surrender. Times of plenty and times of pain are difficult times to surrender. One it is easy to place a lot of emphasis on self, the other to focus on the pain and suffering. Both can lead to a focus on self. Here it is really a true turning from self and resting in Jesus so that what God puts before us we are able to do regardless of season of life.

God only knows what will happen in each of our lives. We can face tests like Koua Fong Lee or Joseph with wrongful imprisonment. We can face choices to serve God and give up what appears to be good for self? We can be asked to give up what God has promised like Abraham. The fact is we will all face times of testing of one form or another. Some testing is short, some are longer, but when you surrender to God, he works to His good purpose. As the Bible states in Romans 8:28 (ESV)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Now each of us may never know what was the good brought in difficult times. God simply asks us to surrender and trust him regardless. It is real easy to lose focus and sight of what God is doing. Honestly there are many times in my life where focus was lost. There are times of great anger and sin that came from circumstances in my life not matching my hopes and expectations and God not bringing things about according to my will. Ultimately the process becomes about bringing my will in alignment to his and living in surrender. For it is only in surrender of self and alignment of my will to God’s where there is any peace and wholeness.

Passion Week Musing: Resurrection Sunday

Today is the day that darkness was defeated. Today is the day everything changed. Today is the day the stone was rolled away. Today is the day the tomb was found empty. Today is the day that the temple was raised again. Jesus is alive. Jesus is risen. Today is the day where when the emotions from the dark Sabbath turn to great rejoicing. The disciples initially were confused, bewildered, and uncertain. How could this be? Jesus alive! Unheard of, could it be? Yes, it in fact was. Oh glorious day. Jesus is alive. He is returned from dead. Not bruised and broken but whole. Yes, he still has the wounds, the scars, but he showed no sign of being hampered by injuries. There is nothing that can measure up to the joy the ecstasy of learning of Jesus rising from the dead. This was the true game changer. What seemed to be cause of hopelessness and despair led to great joy! Suddenly things began to make sense. Jesus became the sacrificial lamb. He fulfilled Passover that all who chose to believe would be saved. He defeat all darkness. He defeated death. He defeated the powers of this world. Why? Because He arose! His victory is why all heaven proclaims “Worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!” Praise God the Lord Almighty for Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Now is the true time to proclaim Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Now is the time of true peace on earth, goodwill toward men. His purpose fulfilled. True wholeness, true peace is now available to all receive. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day the way is made clear. Today is the day that the truth is made known. Today is the day that brings true life. Today is the day that a miserable sinner like me has been transformed to a member of God’s kingdom with a relationship with the creator. This all because HE AROSE! He paid the price. Now I am made clean and whole. Sin has no further charge. I am free! So I celebrate because HE IS RISEN! HIS IS RISEN INDEED! Today is the day of the beginning of the end.  God’s love fully revealed.  All restoration made possible.  God’s kingdom come.  AMEN!

Amos Story Video by Aaron Ivey Band: An adoptive father’s longing for His children

Just learned of this Video from Troy Livesay as he shared it on his Facebook status.   I learned a little bit of the background of this song at the blog Gentrified. Apparently the song of this video was inspired by Aaron’s longing and wait for his two adoptive children from Haiti, Amos and Story.  The author of the aforementioned blog said the following:

The song expresses the desires of a father who would give anything to be with his children, it is the perfect expression of parents who go through the adoption process, which transfers a child from their current identity, and gives them a new identity inside of a new family. It’s permanent so the child is not simply an outside addition, but seen as the completion of the incomplete family without them.

Please watch the video and let it touch your heart. Please remember that for all the orphans who have been given a home, the earthquake has created countless more. 

My reaction to the video is the same as that of the author of the blog Gentrified.   The longing of connection is clear.  It is a clear picture even of God’s desire to take us from being lost in darkness into His Kingdom.  Not only that, God desires to commune with us and when we are lost and even turned away, He seeks us out and does not give up.  God longs for relationship with us. God wants reconciliation.  God provided a way out of darkness and Chaos into light, love, and wholeness.

Haiti Earthquake-Livesay’s Info and other stuff.

Today a 7.0 earthquake occurred in Haiti as  documented in a Star Tribune article.  Earthquake statistics/details can be found at a government website. It is already clear of the serious need for prayer as a hospital in Petionville collapsed.  According to Troy Livesay, prayer particularly needed for those in the slums.  This earthquake will create further difficulties for what is already an extremely poor country.  Apparently, aftershocks are occurring about every ten minutes. 

 This blog has previously written an article on the Livesay money when Tara ran the Twin Cities marathon to raise money for Medika Mamba . The Livesay family and members of Heartline Ministries.   Their blog   found at  http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/ and they also are affilliated with World Wide Village.   The people on staff with the ministries were all reported safe.  They still had varied ministries to check in on and phone useage is minimal as cell towers overloaded.   There is concern about a possible tsunami follow-up, so keep them all in your prayers and God’s wisdom and protection. 

Note that in Mark 13:8 the Bible indicates “there shall be earthquakes in diverse places.”   Pray for the people in this country to even more turn to the source of true peace and true riches, which is Jesus and the Kingdom of God.  Also remember that everywhere there are people hurting and in desperate situations. Sometimes desperate situations become more desperate over the travails of life.  Some people question the goodness of God related to such tragic events.  The argument is a loving God would not let anyone face such suffering.  Yet, suffering exists do to man’s separation from God. One day, God will restore all things, but waits so that more may come into the Kingdom. God gives each person a chance to listen and follow Him, and turn from self.    So  pray for folks in Hati and elsewhere that have not yet turned to God from self, that this situation will turn them to the source of true wholeness and peace. 

Updates from Livesay’s as posted: 

6:32 Central time update from Troy ‘ Facebook: Troy Livesay Phones and internet are mostly out – we don’t have either at home – radio says the Palace fell down and buildings fell down all along Delmas.  Troy Livesay most people are staying outside in our area – aftershocks are still continuing…a neighbor was in a school that collapsedTroy Livesay most people are staying outside in our area – aftershocks are still continuing…a neighbor was in a school that collapsed Troy Livesay I can’t imagine the devastation this has caused to such an overly stressed city – I think it will be suffering for quite some time. 

9:21 pm:   

Troy Livesay Tipap made it home from Carrefour – saw many dead bodies and injured along the way – said most buidings w/more than one story are down 

Troy Livesay All the visitors and children from heartline are staying at the Buxman’s house and ours. 

Here is an intersting thing out of this.  Not much information is coming out of Hati.  Troy’s tweets, facebook, and blog information is about it.  God’s is amazing to draw attention to those serving Him in Haiti and giving attention and voice.  Apparently the tweets from Troy LIVE-say were even read on Larry King. 

Damage report:  Hotel Montana destroyed. Many government buildings damaged including as indicated presidential palace. 

10:34 pm cst  written by one of Livesay’s kids: Troy Livesay For Three Angels Parents … Troy and Megan left at 9:45pm Eastern to try to get up there to see your kids. We are running on batteries and will eventually not have this way to communicate. We are trying to answer your questions. The news on the radios is saying most of the city has collapsed … I cannot talk to Troy so I do not know how true that is. 

10:45 Tara Porter-Livesay: Tara Porter-Livesay 

That is on the radio. Please know that we have not seen that with our own eyes yet. I will tell you that there are NO building codes in Haiti. Not enforced.
 
Recent tweets from troylivesay on twitter:
  •   The Haitian people are out praying together — aftershock happening right now.
  • For those that don’t know – Haiti does not enforce building codes. 

  • The worst damage is in Carrfour (South of Port, near the Palace) we are hearing that many two and three story buildings did not make it.
  • Injured person being carried off in Haiti.

    Per comcast news article:

     

    Felix Augustin, Haiti’s consul general in New York, said a portion of the National Palace had disintegrated. 

    “Buildings collapsed all over the place,” he said. “We have lives that are destroyed. … It will take at least two or three days for people to know what’s going on.” 

    An Associated Press videographer saw the wrecked hospital in Petionville, a hillside Port-au-Prince district that is home to many diplomats and wealthy Haitians, as well as many poor people. Elsewhere in the capital, a U.S. government official reported seeing houses that had tumbled into a ravine. 

    Kenson Calixte of Boston spoke to an uncle and cousin in Port-au-Prince shortly after the earthquake by phone. He could hear screaming in the background as his relatives described the frantic scene in the streets. His uncle told him that a small hotel near their home had collapsed, with people inside. 

    “They told me it was total chaos, a lot of devastation,” he said. 

    Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Joseph, said from his Washington office that he spoke to President Rene Preval’s chief of staff, Fritz Longchamp, just after the quake hit. He said Longchamp told him that “buildings were crumbling right and left” near the National Palace. The envoy said he had not been able to get back in contact with officials. 

    With phones down, some of the only communication came from social media such as Twitter. Richard Morse, a well-known musician who manages the famed Olafson Hotel, kept up a stream of dispatches on the aftershocks and damage reports. The news, based mostly on second-hand reports and photos, was disturbing, with people screaming in fear and roads blocked with debris. Belair, a slum even in the best of times, was said to be “a broken mess.” 

    Please go read newest post at Livesay blog:  http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/2010/01/god-help-us-all.html

    Okay, am going to stop updating in this thread as Livesay’s are going quiet for now.  Keep them and Haiti in our prayers and for hearts and minds be drawn to the King of Kings in this disaster.   Pray for even those that had recent plans to visit Haiti to offer service, as probably those flights and trips will be cancelled.  God is in control.

    Few more  Troylivesay twitters:

  • Heading back up to delmas 75 area with some nurses and supplies to help a makeshift clinic in the street. 23 minutes ago from web

  • …covered in dust and debris…we saw a few bodies that had been pulled out of the rubble laying dead in the sidewalk…many others injured 23 minutes ago from web

  • …trying to sleep, pulling people out of the buildings that fell, standing in the middle of the road looking shocked – many walking around 24 minutes ago from web

  • St. Joseph’s home for boys is demolished but the boys got out safely. Carbbean market appears to be destroyed. People are out in the streets 25 minutes ago from web 

  •   
  • Corrigan and Shelly Clay are doing well, the Manassero’s and all of their children are ok – just one broken leg in their group. 27 minutes ago from web
  • Please stop by and read the Livesay’s most recent update: http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/2010/01/morning-after-earthquake-haiti-2010.html. Will post a new   post with any additional information  this evening. Thankfully there was no tsunami as the earthquake did plenty of damage on its own.

    Musings on the illustration of physical pains and the body of Christ.

    Recently been thinking about comparisons between our physical body and the body of Christ. The thinking started related to the ongoing pain my wife is going through with back and neck pain. She has some chronic misalignment stemming initially from past accidents. She had a severe car accident in 1996 impacting her neck. She had a work related fall in around 2001, where she fell on lower back. Lately she has been working on getting appropriate Chiropractic care and getting things back into alignment. She has been having chronic pain and now when trying to get things set right, her body is fighting it and getting increased pain. Thinking about such facts as well as general ways the body deals with pain can gives us spiritual lessons regarding the body of Christ. God had Paul use that imagery for meaning and purpose.

    There are three key elements that came to mind in reflecting about in relations to my wife’s suffering and how it relates to the church. The first thought is that when any part of the body of Christ is out of proper alignment it brings pain. Some of the pain is inflicted by our own choices; sometimes the pain comes from circumstances, sometimes other people’s choices. Regardless of the reason for the misalignment, it is a source of great pain.

    It is important to realize that the pain that is cause is not isolated and impacts the whole body. The lies, sins, and selfishness in one part of the body of Christ impacts the whole. What happens is not in isolation. When the body of Christ operates connected fully to the head in proper alignment, things go well. Yet, the assorted causes of misalignment always bring pain. Now just as in a physical body, the closer one is to the sources of pain, the more impact; the same in the body of Christ. What happens in related parts of the body impact first the parts that are more closely related.

    Now it is important to note that turning from self, sin, and deception involves work that can bring greater pain initially while the work is done to get things right. The increase in pain simply shows how much misalignment existed. Sometimes the process for healing and correct alignment goes smoothly and quickly but other times it takes a lot of pain and work. It is because of the increased pain that resistance occurs. It can seem much easier to accept the pain that Is known and adjusted rather than do the work for proper realignment in accordance with God’s will and design. Also because of the increased pain, resistance from other parts of the body can occur. The resistant occurs because the body has trained to react in certain ways. It will occur. It is how the body operates. So when getting more aligned with God’s word, truth, and will there may be reactions from self or others resistant.

    So what does this mean practically? Well, these thoughts encourage me to first turn to Jesus and ask for my areas of misalignment that bring pain to the body to come to my awareness. It is being aware that what I say and do does not happen in isolation and even that done in private and secret brings pain to the body. There is clear evidence of need to assess on an ongoing basis my alignment before God. Am I walking as He guides and directs and surrendering to His will, or have I deviated with failure to recognize that infliction of pain. The thoughts drive me to examine my own areas of resistance and examine what I need to turn away from and bring in surrender to God’s will. When not within the center of what God desires has in store it results in bringing pain, when walking in the center of what God desires, it enriches and builds up the body.

    So in thinking through these images it brings into clear focus the need for ongoing evaluation of whether I am acting in God’s lead and love or living for my own ideas. One option builds up and enriches others. The other brings pain and tears down. Above all we have impact on others both in our words and actions. Our choices matter for good or bad. Each of us needs to continually examine if we demonstrate love for God with our entire self and if we are truly exhibiting love for one another. Failure to do so brings pain and returning to God’s way can meet resistance. Ultimately, we all stumble and falter and need get our alignment back. Waking up to misalignments brings temporary pain but ultimately walking in God’s peace and joy through being properly aligned results in God’s best. And ultimately in this world filled with suffering and ill choices, we all need the pain of transformative peace as we align within God’s will and desire over our own. It hurts for a little while but when things are aligned right, the pain will subside.