The Laboratory of Loss

Chemotherapy chairs, councellors, and clean heads were the predominant sights during my tour as a computer software trainer in an oncology center recently.  During that time, I was experiencing my own personal turmoil, due to a series of unexpected storms that rocked the otherwise tranquil seas of my life. 

I’m sure you can relate…

 While in the chemo infusion area of this oncology center, I had the priviledge of observing many patient types as they checked-out of the clinic after their treatments.  I saw the patient who could barely stand, and was visibly weakened immediately after treatment.  I also saw the patient who had been understandably trounced by the trauma of this terrible disease.  For these patients, rendering a smile was a feat of epic proportions.  Then, there were the patients that wore their treatment very well.  To look at them, one would never perceive that they had cancer.  They were happy and upbeat in the face of pain and nausea. 

Perhaps, the most remarkable patient type was embodied in a young lady who came to assist her mom on her treatment days.  She was a vibrant, blond-haired woman with rosy cheeks and a contagious smile.  She possessed a type of piquancy in her personality indicative of burgeoning youthfulness.  She began to express how important it was to her to be there for her mother on treatment days.  Her passion seemed to convey something more than just a loving concern for her mother. 

As we continued to listen to her, she inquired about a particular physician by name.  At that moment, the check-out receptionist informed her that the physician was no longer practicing.  She then revealed that he was her attending physician who treated her when she had cancer.  Turns out, she was a cancer survivor of 12 years.

As my jaw dropped to the floor, I was in awe.  She couldn’t have been more than 30 years old.

Here was this young woman standing before us glowing with health and a full head of hair.  She told us about her bone marrow transplant, and of course her hair loss (but…it grew back).  She wanted to give up because of the pain and the harsh side-effects of her treatment (but…she didn’t).  Now she is strong enough to care for her mother who is going through the same thing she walked through.  As I spent more time in this clinic and met more people, I learned that many of the workers that I saw were volunteers who were cancer survivors. 

You may have recently experienced loss on some level.  It may not be health or hair, but what about hope.  I’m writing this to you.  Please don’t give up.  Keep living.  What you are going through now is just a rung on the ladder of your elevation.  When this is over, you will be strong enough to help someone else who is struggling to live through what you have already overcome.  Someone needs to hear the story of how you survived.  Yes, you lost a lot (but…it grew back).

Sometimes what we perceive as loss really isn’t loss at all.  In most cases, God is pruning our lives of unnecessary, unproductive limbs so that we will be prepared to be more fruitful than ever in our season.  John 15:1-2, elucidates this truth beautifully.  When a tree is pruned of unproductive limbs, it appears to be dead.  All of the signs of visible life are gone.  Loss of limbs, loss of leaves, and loss of fruit all signify the end.  Others who pass by the tree may assume it is dead, then cast judgment and walk away.  The same thing may happen to us during our pruning seasons.  You may appear to be dead right now, but don’t lose hope.  As long as your roots wrap around Christ, you will produce again. 

How do you negotiate the uncertain seas of loss?  What is your valuation of the people and things that are leaving your life?  Are they really beneficial to you?  Are they a gain or are they a drain? 

Loss is only one part of the whole when it comes to God’s holy laboratory.  God is a master chemist.  He knows how to combine all of the elements in your life to produce a result that will both glorify Him and edify you.  The process may be volatile, the reaction may be violent,  but the product is always beautiful. 

As a part of my undergraduate studies, I enrolled in several labs associated with my major course of study.  One of which was Organic Chemistry, which is the study of how carbon behaves in various organic compounds.  Lab was pretty fun because it involved mixing chemicals together, observing their reactions, and then documenting the details of the products.  Some of these reactions were spontaneous and explosive, in some instances.  Fortunately, our labs were fitted with huge fume hoods that were designed to extract toxic fumes from the air that were emitted after certain reactions.  God’s grace is much like the fume hoods in a lab.  It covers us during our times of painful pruning, when our reactions to the pain cause us to melt down and explode.  Sometimes, we may even release toxic words and attitudes into the air.  God’s grace sufficiently covers us, because His grace is sufficient for us. 

In this life, you may have lost some things that were dear to you.  The pruning may have caused loss of leaves, limbs, friends, hair, or even hope; but our Father is the Great Husbandman that ensures our prosperity and productivity.  The pruning is preparation for productivity.

In God’s laboratory, all things work together for our good. 

Remember:  IT WILL GROW BACK!!!

 Editor: Jaime Evans

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon. 

Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

BE

 

 

Wisdom Wednesday: Pharisees 2.0

  1. Women should never wear anything that pertains to a man.
  2. Men should not wear anything that pertains to a woman.
  3. No one should wear a garment made of wool and  linen.
  4. No one should ever eat pork because it is unclean.
  5. Never eat before you wash your hands.

…And the list goes on and on.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are just five of the 613 laws that were jettisoned through the blood of Jesus and His perfect sacrifice on the cross.  Most of us are familiar with the Pharisees and their collective plight to rid the religious world of Jesus.   In essence, they were the religious/political sect that were the self-proclaimed overseers of the Mosaic Law.  As a result of this proclamation, they managed to compile a huge list of rules and traditions that were added to the basic Law of Moses, while simultaneously enforcing those traditions by becoming judges, jurors, and executioners. 

These traditions were noble gestures, however, the enforcement of these traditions were borderline terrorism.  Because no one could ever really fulfill all the requirements of the traditions of men set forth by the Pharisees, they used them to flex their pious muscles, while being sheltered from the consequences themselves.  This is the very reason why the crucifixion of Jesus was successful.  Jesus was legally sentenced to a wrongful death because of the force of the Pharisaic Traditions. 

You would think with the entrance of the New Covenant, that the Pharisee would be a thing of the past…

Well, think again.

The Church is still the breeding ground for the Pharisaic mentality.  The tools of the trade have changed indeed.  I’m sure you’ve encountered a Pharisee or two.  They’re the ones that police everyone on Sundays to make sure their dress is long enough, or their hair color is “appropriate.”  Nevermind the pain that a person may be going through, or the person contemplating suicide, or the person that came to church one last time before making a decsion to become an atheist because they have lost hope. 

It’s infuriating and unacceptable.  So what do you think?

 

Do modern-day Pharisees exist?

What are the “new” traditions that are enforced in church today?

How does proper teaching come into play when dealing with this mentality?

 

Let’s talk…feel free to leave a reply below.  I’d love to hear from you.

 

As always, thanks for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

Wisdom Wednesday: Why Aren’t You An Atheist?

Recently, while watching television, I saw a commercial that made me chuckle.  It was an Edward Jones Financial Services commercial featuring a father and son duo who were visiting with a financial advisor.  As the son observed the interaction between the advisor and his dad, he seemed a bit perplexed.

Upon exiting the advisor’s office, the son began to ask the father a series of questions about the visit.  When the father would answer each question, the son would immediately follow up with the infamous one-word question…Why?  The father kept trying to answer all of the son’s why’s, until eventually he reached a dead end.  The commercial ended with the father environed in a state of confusion having never pondered the questions that came so easily through his son.

As Christians, what do you say when you’re confronted with the question-Why?

Do you believe in God?  Why?

Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?  Why?

1 Peter 3:15, admonishes us to always be ready to answer those who question the hope that is in us; the very hope that defines and frames our faith.  This scripture brings to life one simple truth…People are watching you.  They watch how you live, interact with others, and manage life in general.  Sadly, the vast majority of church laity, and leadership for that matter, cannot fluently explain why they believe what they do.

If we are people of  faith, why is it acceptable to be so lackadaisical in our pursuit of the deep, inner-workings of faith?  The question begs to be asked, what happens when we are required to defend our faith?  Furthermore, some may ask, should faith be defended at all.  According to 1 Peter 3:15, it should; and the onus falls on us.  So where does that leave the Body of Christ?

Traditionally, Christians have been deemed brute in intellect, and lack the ability to handle heavy truths.  The predilection for emotional exhuberance has often trumped the  desire to sit down and learn.  As you are reading this post, there is a paradigm shift taking place in the atheist community.  According to a recent lecture given by Alain de Botton on the new atheism (Atheism 2.0), there is an intense need for connection and ritualism that is now being sparsely acknowledged on the part of atheists.  I feel like this opens evangelistic opportunities if only we are wise in our conceits.  Even though modern atheism is still steeped in an existential intellectualism void of a belief in God, I believe the stage is being set for major inroads into the atheist community if we tread wisely.  But we must arm ourselves with the proper knowledge and skills necessary to win souls.

It’s time for a paradigm shift of our own in the Body of Christ.  We must equip ourselves with the necessary tools necessary for defending our faith.  Wisdom is paramount.  We must invest in our spiritual intellect.  God takes knowledge very seriously.  Hosea 4:6, tells us that the lack of knowledge preceeds destruction.

What would happen if we studied the Bible with the same vigor that we study sports statistics?  What if we minimized watching reality TV, and made communion with God our reality?  What if our curiosity about the Father drove us to dig in the scriptures, and tap into the refreshing springs of the Spirit, thereby releasing living water from our lives to a thirsty nation?

“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water,”  (John 7:38 KJV).

 

Let’s talk: 

Are you a Christian?  Why?

When you read the Bible, do you believe what you read?  Why?

I would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to join the conversation in the “Reply” section below.

 

As always, thanks for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

 Editor: Jaime Evans

 

 

 

The Demands Of Maturity

According to a recent article I read online, a newborn may lose up to 10 percent of its body weight in the first days of life during the transition from placenta to independent digestion.  From conception to birth, the fetus is environed by the life-sustaining components of his mother’s womb.  Everything from sensory perceptions to nourishment passes directly from mother to child.

Once the baby is born, drastic changes begin to take place in the infant.  There is no more womb, no more placenta, and no more umbilical cord.  All nourishment must pass through the baby’s own digestive system in order to be assimilated and supply life to the body.

During this time, the baby’s metabolism undergoes significant changes.  These changes are not immediately visible, but in time, they become more pronounced.  Weight gain, increased stomach capacity, and the appearance of teeth all indicate one thing…the weaning phase.

Before these subtle changes take place, the infant is usually satisfied with nourishment from nursing or milk from a bottle.  However, as the baby matures, these forms of feeding are no longer sufficient.  Because of the growth that is taking place, the baby’s metabolic rate not only requires more, but demands more.

 

Forsaking The Bottle

In much the same manner, newly born-again Christians should prefer the sincere milk of the Word (1Peter 2:2)   The foundational principles and doctrines that define our faith as believers should be the focus for babes in Christ, because that is what stimulates growth; things such as grace, salvation, baptism, etc.  These things nourish us while our spiritual senses develop.  When we are born again, our capacity for the knowledge of God is limited.  Our understanding and our perception is limited.  We must now learn to process everything through the lenses of God’s word.

As we grow, this creates a greater demand for a deeper understanding of God’s word.  What used to satisfy us, no longer does.  The change happens gradually and is barely noticeable at first.  The sermons that used to excite us no longer satisfy the demand.  The people that used to pique our interest; no longer does it for us.  This could only mean one thing…

It’s time to forsake nursing or the bottle!

 

Maturity Demands Meat

“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to descern both good and evil,” (Hebrews 5:14 KJV).

Solid food is for the spiritually mature.  The entire purpose of digestion is the assimilation of food.  We eat to live.  Metabolism is the chemical processes by which a plant or an animal uses food, water, etc., to grow and heal and to make energy.  I’m sure you’ve heard of the adage: you are what you eat.  This rings true of both physical food and spiritual food.  When it comes to scripture, it’s not about how much you know, but how much you apply to your life.  The world is filled with people who know the scripture, but do not have the desire to yield their lives and hearts to God, to experience true change.  The Bible states in James 1:22, that we should be “doers” of the Word and not just “hearers.”

Wisdom is paramount, but it must be coupled with understanding, according to Proverbs 4:7.  The one distinguishing factor between carnal Christians and spiritual Christians is the amount of scripture that has been assimilated into daily life.  The carnal or immature Christian knows that God loves him, and that’s where it ends.  Immaturity limits the full expression of knowledge due to the lack of wisdom.  The mature Christian not only knows that God loves him…but from a thankful heart; seeks to demonstrate that same love in their daily lives.  The difference is in the application, and you can’t apply what you don’t understand.

 

Hebrews 5 verses 12 through 14 delineate the two degrees of spiritual knowledge; milk and strong meat.  Many Christians never move beyond the milky, simplistic understanding of salvation through Christ.  They never fully experience the exhilarting victory of the new life by placing a demand on God–El Shaddai (The Many-Breasted One)–to supply them with more.  At some point, we should desire more than just a sermon that tickles our ears, but does nothing for our hearts.  At some point, it should pain us, when we hurt others without a cause.  At some point, the scriptures must leave the pages of our Bibles and pierce our hearts; breaking up the stony places therein.

At some point, milk must become meat.

Editor: Jaime Evans

As always, thanks for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

Wisdom Wednesday: Anger Is In The Air

 

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26, KJV).

It would seem that this passage allows for the expression of anger, but is this really the case?  Does this scripture imply that it is permisible to express your anger at any time?  

In a recent article about relationships and anger, some very interesting statistics are elucidated:

  • •23% of Americans openly express their anger.
  • •39% say they hold it in or hide it.
  • •23% say they walk away.
  • •23% confess to having hit someone.
  • •17% admit they have destroyed someone’s property out of anger.

(Resource: What’s Good About Anger? by Lynette Hoy and Ted Griffin)

 Recently, I was in a very popular department store in the check out line, and behind me was a parent screaming at her daughter angrily.  As I left the check out line, one of the employees walked by me and attempted to open one of the doors. When she discovered that it was locked, she proceeded to bawl out explitives right there.  As I continued to walk to my car, I thought about the 70’s song, “Love is in the Air,” but instead of love there was anger in the air.  From road rage to Elliot Rodger (Santa Barbara shooter-2014) people seem to be incessantly on the verge of boiling over. 

 So why are people so angry?

In his book, Emotional Resilience, David Viscott explicates the different manifestations of pain.  Past pain is called hurt.  Present pain is called anger.  Pain caused by fear of the future is called anxiety.  When pain isn’t managed properly, the end result is what is called emotional debt.  When we factor in daily stressors, past regrets, deadlines, and unresolved losses, people are living in a perpetual state of pain.

Since anger and pain seem to be the milieu in which we live, chances are you have or will come into contact with hostile others.  So let’s talk…

How do you respond to people with bad attitudes or angry dispositions?

If pain causes anger, how does this change your perspective?

How do you manage your own negative emotions including anger?

 

 Feel free to leave a reply below.  I’d love to hear from you.

 

As always, thanks for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE