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It’s never over until He says it’s over!

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Like most of you, my life has had its share of defining moments.

Whether it was accepting Jesus as my Savior, finishing school, getting married, buying a house, losing my dad when I was only 12, memorable vacations, landing a good job and having a successful career, all of these and more are defining moments in my life.

There is yet another defining moment, one that took place exactly nineteen years ago today, that I want to mention in this blog.

Very early on a Monday morning 19 years ago, my wife and I drove to the hospital where I was scheduled to have open heart surgery.

A few months prior to this, on my daughter’s second birthday, I had suffered a massive heart attack while mowing the lawn. Subsequent procedures, rehab, and medications failed to keep my arteries open, and we were faced with the dim reality that surgery was the only option left.

A lot of things go through your mind when you are facing something of this magnitude. For one thing, while open heart surgery has become a normal procedure these days, there is nothing normal about it when it’s you that is going to be operated on.

Emotions, if left unchecked, will get the best of you and leave you in a constant state of panic and fear. Of course, all of this is very normal, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are not being honest with you.

As best as I can remember, there were about three weeks between the time I was told I had to have surgery and the day I actually went to the hospital for the procedure.

During those three weeks you have to undergo a battery of tests and procedures, none of which do anything to allay the fears that creep into the mind. Actually, by the time they finish all of these tests, you just want to have the surgery and get it over with.

People that know that I had open heart surgery generally will ask one of two questions.

1. How were you able to overcome the fear of such a serious surgery?

2. If you are a Christian that believes God still heals today, why didn’t God heal you so you didn’t have to have the surgery?

The answer to the first question is that God gave me a peace that passes all understanding about the situation. It’s hard to explain to non-believers, but driving to the hospital that morning I had no fear.

How is that possible? It was because I knew that no matter what happened, I was completely in God’s hands. If I did not come through the surgery, I was going to be in His presence for all of eternity.

If I did come through, I knew that God wasn’t done with me yet. So how could I lose? How could I not be at peace knowing that I was safe and secure in the Father’s arms?

Now, to be sure, my wife was very fearful of me not coming through the surgery. After all, we had only been married three years and we had a two year old baby. What wife and mother wouldn’t be scared?

That does not mean that she didn’t have any faith. Quite the contrary! My wife has more faith than any person I know, and literally trusts God for everything.

The way that I answer the second question is because God chose not to miraculously heal me. Could He have? Of course he could have! He is God after all. But He chose not to. And whether you believe this or not, I was OK with his decision.

Would I have rather He instantly healed me? You better believe I would have preferred that to the surgery. I may be crazy, but I’m not that crazy!

In case you haven’t noticed, Christians die every day from one type of disease or another. Can anyone quote the chapter and verse from the Bible that says Christians will live long, illness free lives, and die peacefully in their sleep at a ripe old age?

Didn’t think so!

The fact is that God is Sovereign. He is in control. He orders our footsteps, not us. It is God who exalts and also brings low. In short, our lives are not our own, but His to do with as he pleases.

That is a bitter pill for many to swallow, and I have learned that submission to God’s will is a lifelong process. You don’t wake up one morning and suddenly say “from this day forward I will submit every part of my life to the Lord”.

It just doesn’t work that way. Getting to the place where we trust God with our very lives comes from the daily experience of learning to trust the Lord that He alone knows what is best for our lives.

Coming through open heart surgery changes a person in several ways. There are the physical benefits of course, but there is also a change that takes place in the inner heart because now you know an attribute of God that may have been hidden from you before.

You now know God as Faithful in a way that goes far beyond words. And because you know Him as Faithful, you know that there is nothing that He cannot do for you.

These past nineteen years have been years of great joy, moments of severe testing, times of rejoicing, and yes even occasions of despair. Through them all however, God has been faithful to stand by us. I cannot think of a single time that I have felt as if God did not have my life in His hands.

Maybe you are facing the trial of a lifetime. Maybe fear has gripped your heart and panic rules the day. Maybe events from your past haunt you with the torment that you will never be free of them. Maybe the defining moments of your life have left you battered, broken, and helpless.

If this is you, I’ve got good news for you. It’s not over until He says it’s over! You are still standing. You may have been knocked down but you are not counted out.

There is still life to live, victories to cherish, mountains to conquer, and enemies to defeat all because God has you in the palm of His hands.

Nineteen years ago today there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding my life. Would I live or die? If I lived, what kind of life would I be able to have? Would I ever be the same again?

Praise God I am alive and well today to say that God is Faithful to sustain us and keep us. It is true, I cannot do some things as well as I used to. Part of that is heart related and part of it is the normal aging process all of us deal with.

I choose to focus however on what I can do, not what I cannot do. God has chosen to keep me around and as long as I am here, I will give Him praise and thanks for the wonderful life I have been blessed to live.

It’s not over until he says it’s over. My life, as well as your, is not and will not be defined by illness or weakness. God brought me through then and He will bring me through tomorrow!

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where is the Lord God of Elijah Today?

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Thinking of the Old Testament prophets,their ministries,their successes and failures has me wondering why we don’t see God show up today like He did back then.In light of the fact that (a) God never changes(Malachi 3:6) and (b) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever(Heb 13:8),it seems reasonable to ponder these things.

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Blueletterbible.com

I have heard it preached and taught that God just doesn’t move like that today.That God has a new covenant with us through His Son Jesus.

While I agree with that,it still doesn’t explain why we don’t see God moving in the powerful ways like we read about in His Word.Here is just one example.

From the Old Testament book of II Kings,chapter two,we read where the successor to the prophet Elijah,in this case a man named Elisha, takes the mantle,or cloak that fell from Elijah and smacks it upon the Jordan River.
No doubt expecting something miraculous he utters the quote “where is the Lord God of Elijah“?(II Kings 2:14),at which time the waters of the Jordan dried up and Elisha was able to pass over on dry land.We thus see that the prophetic ministry of Elijah was passed on to Elisha.

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Bibleencyclopedia.com

Now,given what I’ve already stated about God never changing,suppose we turn Elisha’s question around to read like this:”Where Are God’s Elijah’s Today”? If in fact we serve a God that changes not, it stands to reason that His power has not diminished with the passing of time.

So we can assume that God is still God,and that as God He can still do what He did hundreds or thousands of years ago.The reason then that we don’t see God performing the miraculous must lie elsewhere.

Of course,if you are a cessationist you believe that all miracles stopped long ago.That those things only happened for our admonition and pertained to the apostolic,or early church era.I do not share that view but believe that God was performing the miraculous long before there was a church,and it is His desire to do so today.

It is my contention however that the “Elijah’s of God”in our time have been derelict in their duties,resulting in a famine of the miraculous.Tough words indeed,and they hit home with me as well.

For certain,the word “miracle” is thrown around a lot today.Nearly every gospel crusade or event proclaims the presence of miracles.Just last night I listened to a man telling of the

incredible miracles taking place in Africa.They weren’t shown mind you,just talked about.

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Slideplayer.com

My minister brethren cringe when I say this,but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that 99.9% of Christians alive today have never seen a complete,instantaneous physical healing.

This must be one of the great tragedies of our time!

Many will take this lack of physical evidence and use it to make their case for cessasionism,however this reasoning is a scapegoat for our own lack of faith and is indicative of a culture of unbelief in our churches.

Far from being finished with performing the miraculous,I am of the persuasion that God still desires to work through His Church to do those things that only He can do.Perhaps a stumbling block to this is that we want the credit? Just a thought.

Over 2100 years ago God used another prophet to speak to the nations,specifically to this generation.This prophet’s name was Daniel,whom you may remember as being thrown into a den of hungry lions for refusing to bow to an ungodly decree.

This same Daniel had a message for the Church of our day that should cause all of us to think about whether or not the miraculous has ceased.This message is found in the book of Daniel,chapter eleven.

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.  Daniel 11:32 NKJV

Daniel looked into the future and saw the Antichrist deceiving the people of earth.More importantly,he also saw God’s people as strong and doing great exploits.In other words,if you believe as I do that we are living in the last days before the return of Christ,we are to expect God to show up through His people(the Church) and do the miraculous.

I must admit that I do not know when God’s Elijah’s will show up on the scene.I believe many of them are alive today,perhaps waiting for the clarion call from on High to go forth.One thing I do know is this:when they show up and begin to do exploits, we will not have to wonder if they are real.

Maybe YOU are one of God’s Elijah’s.Perhaps something is stirring deep within your soul that is calling you,drawing you to a closer walk with the Lord.If so,I pray that you heed His call and begin to prepare yourself.

God is still God.In the past He always did what He said He would do.

I am expecting Him to continue this pattern. After all,He hasn’t changed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Matter What…

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I will remember what you have done for me O God.

I have not forgotten how you spoke peace into my heart when I was at my lowest point so many years ago. Job 38:1,which I had read many times before, suddenly came alive in my heart that day when I realized that you are God even in the midst of the most violent storm. I knew at that moment you were going to rescue my soul from the waters that sought to drown me.

I have never forgotten that “encounter”.

It has sustained me and encouraged me more times than I can remember. It has left an indelible mark upon my heart,as if You knew all along that this would be a defining moment between us.A reference point that I could draw from again and again.

Like I am now.

Your word has been a constant in my life. Is it any wonder the Word of God has been described as “a lamp unto my feet”? Surely there can be no greater road map in this life than your word,a guide that directs us even in the darkest of nights. Like an old familiar friend, it always calls me back to its pages should I become slothful and inattentive to its beckoning voice.

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prayerpins.org

Through the years I have rejoiced at the transforming power of your word. I have been witness to seeing the hardest hearts melt when confronted with the message of hope and renewal found within its pages. I have seen grown men and women literally run to the alter under the convicting,yet loving wooing of the Holy Spirit.

I often marvel at what some men consider to be miraculous,or at the numbers of people seeking miracles, when by the simple act of a wayward soul repenting of their sins the angels of heaven begin to rejoice. What else can men do here on earth that causes celebration in heaven? Can anything be more miraculous than the Creator reclaiming one of His own?rejoicing-among


As much as I wish it were not so, I have also been witness to my own failures. I have faltered,fallen short on countless occasions,and no doubt disappointed many people. I find that even at this stage of my life there is still much I do not understand about this covenant relationship with our Lord. There are days when I still have more questions than answers. Is this how it is supposed to be? That this sense of wonderment about unanswered questions will serve as our own “thorn in the flesh” to keep us on our knees?

You know how hard I have tried to become one of “them”,to fit in with the crowd. I’ve joined their ranks. Several times. Sat through the classes. Studied their course materials.Taken and passed the exams. Have the sheepskin in the frame. Attended their conferences. Shook hands with the “right people”. Held titles and positions. Yet for all of that, I did not fit in. I could not bring myself to “go along to get along” when my conscious balked at the shallowness of it all. For this I am branded a “what might have been”. I’ve heard “I don’t know what to do with you” more than once.

Still,no matter what,I will remember what you have done for me O God.

I will praise you,for I remember your kindness to me these many years. Though men and denominations have long ago abandoned me,and many others like me by the side of the road,yet you remain faithful to me.Your mercy endures forever.

I confess that I struggle to understand why my phone never rings. Why my inbox remains empty. Why the invitations have all dried up. Why so many that I poured into over the years have forgotten that I exist. Could it be that since I am no longer in a position to help them ascend the ladder,I am of no value to them? The “amens”, the slaps on the back,the firm handshakes of approval,now there is nothing but silence.

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quotlr.com

Except from you O God.I hear your voice calling out to me daily.

Actually, I do understand. I am an embarrassment to the Laodicean church of this generation. There is no place for the likes of me in a church that has become so much like the world as to be nearly indistinguishable from it. I speak the truth in love,which means I refuse to soften the message for the sake of men; to do so would be to prostitute your Word.I am an anomaly,a throwback to a long forgotten age, an age before political correctness ensnared the church in its damning choke hold. I know no other way.

I will remember what you have done for me O God.

Where you are leading me I do not know,but time has proven that I can trust you to take me safely there.How I will get there remains a mystery,yet I know that you have it all worked out.

No Matter What.

I will praise You in this storm.