Wednesday, March 25, 2009

As Easter Approaches

I am currently in a blog collaboration with 3 other bloggers, and our assignment this week is to write from the perspective of one of the characters. So I have chosen John, who in his gospel refers to himself as "the one whom Jesus loved."
"We are nearing what Jesus says will be the end of his ministry. I don't understand this, since it seems like He is just getting started. I know we have had some challenges (arguments with the Pharisees), but Jesus seems to win these arguments. There seems to be more and more people curious about Jesus; asking questions about Jesus; following Jesus. We fed over 5,000 people not too long ago!
But Jesus is taking on a more serious tone. He was talking about going to heaven; well back to heaven He said. And He told us not to be troubled by this. But I don't understand. I have grown to really love Jesus, and really make a connection. Jesus seems so different than any other religious leader I have ever encountered. He has made it so that I believe in a wonderful loving God.
I don't want to lose Jesus. But if that needs to happen so that I can have a better relationship with God, then I guess I need to let Jesus go; I need to let Jesus do what He came to do. And He says that it will be better for us; that we will have the Spirit of God within us and guiding us. That would be very powerful. So as I come to this time, I too am reflecting more on who I am, and who Jesus is to me, and how I need to be committed to following Him, and telling others about Him I want them to understand this amazing love of God that we see in Jesus.
'For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever
believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'
As Jesus died on the cross, tearing away the drapes from the temple that separated us from God, I hope that you can give your love to Jesus the way I have. If you do you will have your life transformed like I have!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Physician Assisted Suicide

In the movie "Whose Life is it anyway?" Richard Dreyfuss plays an artist who is in a terrible car crash. The car crash leaves him paralyzed. Because of his paralysis, he is no longer able to sculpt the way he once did. He decides that if he can't be the artist he once was, then he no longer wants to live. At the end of the movie it is determined by the courts that he can choose to no longer be on the machines or have the treatment that keeps him alive.
This is a good question when it comes to Physician Assisted Suicide: whose life is it? Because we live in a society that stresses independence, most people think that they are the ones who should choose all things for themselves; even when it is time to do. Those who are terribly ill might want to end their life to end their misery. But is our life really our own to decide?
In the Bible, Psalm 139:13-16 we are told: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place; when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." God is the one who desired for us to live, and designed for us to be born. Our life really does belong to God, not to us. What we do with our life is our gift back to God.
I think we have our perspective all wrong; we think that life is supposed to be all wonderful, and smooth, and perfect. We think that we are owed happiness and health. So when someone is not healthy for a long time, when they realize they will not get better, they begin to want to end their life. They think that having a doctor do it for them is different than committing suicide themselves; that if someone else sends them to the graveyard, then it is okay.
I disagree. I think that anytime we have our life ended, by our own doing or by the hand of someone else, we are playing God. We are deciding when the end of our life will be. We are deciding that God can no longer use our life for His purpose.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't agree with keeping someone alive by machines. If turning off a machine means that their life will end, then that is different than suicide. Because of our technology, we sometimes keep people alive longer than God meant for them to be alive. I know that I had to make this decision a few years back concerning my father. But I knew that my dad didn't want to be kept alive by a machine. If he couldn't breathe on his own, then it was no longer life.
I know that many will disagree with me on this. But I don't think scripture supports us having physicians end the life of people because they no longer feel like they have a purpose. I'm interested to hear what others have to say.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Are you the Pilot?

In our day and age, sin is not a word that people like to talk about. To so many it sounds disparaging and negative. People don't like to be told that they have sin in their lives; that they are disposed to sinful behavior. People don't want to believe in moral absolutes, where there is a clear cut right and wrong. So when sin is mentioned, people often respond in rejecting the teaching, or in anger that you would try and put them in the category of "sinner."
I believe this is the evidence of sin at work. Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Because our world likes to deny that sin is a problem, it causes the problem all the more.
I believe this is also an issue of our wanting to be our own pilot. We want to be in control of our lives. We don't want to give this control over to anyone or anything, including God! But that too is the essence of sin. We see this in the story of Adam and Eve and the bringing of sin into the world. When the serpent told Eve that eating the fruit would make her like God, knowing good and evil, the sin was doing what she wanted apart from what God told her not to do. She wanted to make her own decision.
How often in life do I do this; make my own decisions? More than I can count. And how often have my decisions gotten me into trouble? Many times. Talking about sin isn't about putting anyone down. It isn't about shaming anyone. It is about owning up to who I am. And the good news is that God has made provisions for me to overcome my sinfulness.
If I were in an airplane, trying to fly the plane, and I got into trouble beyond what I could handle, and an experienced pilot came to help me, I hope I would accept the help. This is true of life. Our sin creates problems and we need help; guidance; strength to overcome. Let us accept this help from God, starting today. Blessings.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

How Do You Handle Conflict?

As I write this blog, I do not claim to be an expert at handling conflict. There have been many times in my life that I have not handled conflict correctly (my wife could confirm this). But through the conflict that I have experienced, and the successes and failures I have experienced, I have learned some good lessons.
First, I have learned that conflict is a part of life. There are going to be times when people have a difference of opinion, and this difference will cause conflict. It is also true that there will be times when people will attack you. Conflict also comes upon when we are wronged, and we have to stand up to the one who wronged us. Regardless of what we think about conflict, it will be a part of our lives.
Second, conflict can actually be an opportunity to solve the frustrations or hurt we are feeling. Because most people want to avoid conflict, when they disagree, or are wronged, or are hurt in some way, they tend to put aside and try not to think about it; they don't want to deal with it. But at some point, there comes a time when it has to be dealt with.
Third, conflict can be resolved when both parties seek to work together. Conflict doesn't have to be a bad thing. If both parties seek reconciliation, the conflict can actually cause a relationship to be strengthened. Sometimes it gives insight into how communication wasn't happening, thus improving the communication.
Fourth, if the other party doesn't want to seek resolution, you can still seek it for yourself. You can do this by following Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." By seeking to live at peace with others, we can be at peace within ourselves. As we attempt to resolve the conflict, we can know that we have done everything we can possibly do to make things better. The rest is on the other person.
Fifth, getting over conflictual situations might even mean that we have to forgive them; not for the purpose of saying what they have done is okay, but because if we don't forgive, then we will have turmoil and conflict within us until we can forgive and let go. (for more on this you can go to the archives to the right, 2/13/08).
Let me know how you handle conflict so we can learn together.