How To Live In A World That’s Shaking, Cracking and Crumbling

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Do you ever feel like the world is cracking and beginning to crumble?  ISIS, Ebola, changing sexual morals, disintegrating families, escalating crime, drugs, suicides….I don’t need to elaborate.  The world is shaking.  It’s passing away.  But believers in Jesus need not fear or be depressed, for God has given us an unshakeable kingdom.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12.28-29 NIV)

Live for the unshakeable kingdom

This world and everything in it is going to pass away. But we are receiving a kingdom that is permanent. It will last forever. It can’t be destroyed, let alone shaken. This means that everything we do for that kingdom will last. All we invest in that kingdom is secure. It won’t devalue; no one can steal it; it’s there and it will be there when we get to heaven. Every act of kindness we do in the name of Jesus, every glass of water we give a thirsty person, every dollar we give to the church or the poor, every meal we make for a family in need, every time we babysit for a friend – Safe. Permanent. Every prayer we offer, every song we sing, every time we praise Jesus, every act of obedience – stored away in the unshakeable kingdom.  In light of the unshakeable kingdom, why would we live for this world? Why would we give ourselves to sin and selfishness? Why would we spend all our time pursuing things that are fading, aging, crumbling and passing away?

Be thankful

The author of Hebrews says that since we are receiving a permanent kingdom “let us be thankful.” How can we not be thankful that Jesus rescued us from lives of futility and gave us eternal life in his kingdom? How can we not be thankful for an unimaginable glorious future? Let’s make thankfulness one of the main habits in our lives. Yes, we should thank God for all our material blessings, but let us thank him for the incredible blessings of the kingdom – the righteousness of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, God’s love in Christ, God’s protection from evil, his strength to conquer sin…innumerable spiritual blessings.

Ask God for grace

The phrase “let us be thankful” is often translated from the Greek “let us have grace.” Hebrews 4 tells us that in our weakness when we face temptations we should boldly approach the throne of grace for “grace to help in time of need.” Jesus is waiting to give us his mighty power to overcome temptation.

Have a healthy fear

Since we are receiving an unshakeable kingdom, we should “worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” This isn’t just talking about our “corporate worship” when we gather with the church to sing and celebrate, but our lives. We are to offer God holy lives. We should live “with reverence and awe” or with a healthy fear of the Lord. We don’t want to take God’s holiness and majesty for granted. We don’t want to presume that we can sin and God won’t discipline us. We don’t want to give in to sin.  Remember “God is a consuming fire.” The author of Hebrews is referring to DT 4:23-24:

Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

God warned Israel, that though they were his chosen people and he would bring them into the promised land, they must be careful not to fall into idolatry, because he would punish them. God doesn’t take sin lightly. Nadab and Abihu didn’t fear God, and offered different incense than God had commanded:

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. (LV 10:1-2)

This doesn’t say that Nadab and Abihu went to hell. It says that fire came out from the Lord and consumed them. They ruined their lives in this world by their disobedience. In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira, who it would appear were believers, lied to Peter about money and God struck them down. The result was that “great fear came upon the whole church” (v11).  Obviously, God doesn’t always consume us when we sin. He is patient, long-suffering and merciful. But we shouldn’t presume on that mercy. A healthy fear of the Lord will help us live holy lives that are pleasing worship to God.

We who have believed in Jesus are receiving an unshakeable kingdom. Let us be practice being thankful, let us seek his grace to overcome sin, and let us cultivate a healthy fear of God. That’s a recipe for joy!

God’s Dreams Are Better Than My Dreams

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I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams lately.

Not the kind of dreams you have when you’re sleeping, but the kind you have when you’re awake. The kind of dreams that actually keep you from sleeping. The dream of starting a business. The dream of having kids. The dream of getting married. The dream of signing a record deal. The dream of publishing a book. The dream of having a large house. The dream of becoming a missionary.

My generation has been told that if we dream it, we can have it. You want to be President? You can do it. You want to be a teacher? You can do it? You want to be a famous actor? You can do it. With enough hard work, you can make all your dreams come true. It’s sort of like?Field of Dreams -?if you build it, they will come. If you dream it, it will happen.

I’ll be honest: there have been times when I’ve bought into the dream machine propaganda. I’ve bought the books and read the blog posts and listened to the podcasts. I’ve written out “life plans” for myself, in which I sketch out all the things I want to accomplish over the next five years. I’ve purchased goal-setting apps for my iPhone (yes, I know I’m a nerd).

But in recent months I’ve come to realize something very important: God isn’t in the dream fulfilling business.?

Actually, God does fulfill dreams, just not my dreams. God is in the business of fulfilling his dreams.

This theme runs through all of scripture. God has a plan, a dream if you will, for each person, and he always fulfills that dream. Abraham and Sarah dreamed of having lots of kids together. God dreamed of them having one son together, who would, along with Abraham, be an instrumental part of an incredible covenant between God and God’s people. Moses dreamed of growing up in Pharaoh’s palace. God dreamed of sending Moses into the desert for forty years, then using Moses to lead God’s people out of Egypt. Hannah dreamed of having a large family. God dreamed of her having a?son, Samuel, who would be dedicated to the Lord’s service.

The people of Israel dreamed of a Messiah who would come in power and destroy all the enemies of Israel. God dreamed of a Messiah who would come in weakness and humility and be crucified upon a Roman cross.

The moral of the story? God’s dreams for me are better than my dreams for me, and God will always fulfill his dreams.

Deferred, deterred, and destroyed dreams can make your heart feel sick. They can make you question God. Why God? Why am I still single? Why am I stuck in this job? Why is my church still so small? Why can’t I have kids? Why am I still struggling in my marriage? Why am I still battling these health problems?

To which God would reply (without minimizing your pain one bit):

You can trust me. Your dreams aren’t working out, but mine are. You are mine, and I have a plan for you. I will make it happen.

There’s a fascinating phrase in Acts 13:36. Paul says, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption…” God had a very specific purpose for David, and he ensured that David fulfilled that purpose. Once David fulfilled that purpose, he died and went to be with the Lord.

God has a very specific, good, wonderful purpose for you and me. He will fulfill that purpose. My?dreams may not come true, but God’s dreams for me?will come true. And the good news is: God’s dreams are always much better than mine.

NOTE: I wrote another post on this theme over at the Desiring God blog.

Ever Wish You Could Grow Wings And Just Fly Away?

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Ever feel like David and just wish you could fly away?

And I say, ?Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness PS 55:6-7

There have been times I?ve felt like that. I?ve wished I could sprout wings and fly far away. I?ve wished I could move to some distant town where nobody knew me, change my name, and start a new life. I?ve wished I could escape from problems and pain and sadness and dealing with people and hole up in a cabin in the woods somewhere.

But there?s really no escaping sadness and pain in this life. There have been times I?ve felt like quitting. Felt like giving up my faith in Jesus. But every time I have, Jesus? question to Peter and Peter?s answer comes ringing in my ears:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ?Do you want to go away as well?? Simon Peter answered him, ?Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.? John 6:66-69

Where else would I go? Jesus has the words of eternal life. And I have come to know that he is the Messiah, the Savior, the Way the Truth and the Life. Where else am I going to go? Back to the bars? Back to my life of sin? Back to the world – that broken empty well that promises happiness but never delivers? Am I going to go to some other religion? I can?t do that. I know the truth. Where else am I going to go? I know that Jesus is my only hope. As much pain as I might be in at the moment, I know that he is my only refuge.

It?s easy to have faith when things are going great. It?s easy to praise God and be thankful when all is going our way. But to trust and praise him in the midst of affliction brings him so much glory. When we suffer, especially in the midst of tragedy and intense pain, we can feel like doing what Job?s wife suggested: ?Curse God and die.? Or we can respond like Job: ?Though he slay me, yet will I praise him.?

In my forty years as a Christian, I?ve seen believers respond to tragedy and tough times both ways. I?ve seen some become bitter, lose their faith, and stop following Jesus, saying how could a good God allow this? How could a loving God allow me to go through such pain? God didn?t answer my prayers. I believed in him but he didn?t come through.

I?ve also seen believers go through horrific tragedies and yet despite unimaginable sadness, yet through their tears, still lift their voices to Jesus in praise and declare that Jesus is sovereign, wise, loving and good. What glory they bring to God as they lift their hands in worship, even as tears stream down their cheeks. How they honor the Lord! I can?t wait to see the day when Jesus wipes every tear from their eyes and crowns them with glory. And if an angel standing by asks ?Why didn?t you give up on Jesus? Why did you keep praising and trusting him?? they?ll answer ?Where else would I have gone? Jesus has the words of eternal life. He is the Holy One of God, my Lord, my King. He was my only hope.?

Where else are you going to go?

Jesus is the fountain of life. Every other ?fountain? is an empty well. Every other road is a dead end. Pour out your grief to Jesus. Pour out your complaint to him. Ask him your questions. Ask him why you have to go through what you have to go through. Yet resolve to say, ?Where else would I go, Jesus? You have the words of eternal life. You are my only hope.? Ask Jesus for comfort and peace. Ask him to bear your sadness. And ask him for grace to praise him in the midst of your affliction.

There?s nowhere else to go. So cling to the one whose everlasting arms of love are upholding you. Run to the one who truly knows your pain and longs to comfort you. Run to the one who is your refuge and strength, your very present help in trouble. Run to the one who has the words of eternal life.

Asking God For Too Much? Maybe You’re Asking For Too Little.

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Believers?regularly ask God to do great things. ?Things that?seem impossible. ?Like saving certain people who seem light years away from the kingdom.??Or providing when we can’t see any possible way.?Most of us even pray for miracles at times.

The only thing is, we often ask?for too little. ?We should ask God for great things, especially if they will bring him glory.

In Psalm 81:10 God says:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

God says to his people, ?Don?t forget who I am?-?the LORD – the Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth. I own all things?and?command all things. Whatever I say, goes. I speak and it happens.

Then he says, ?I am…your God.? And you are the sheep of my pasture. ?I’ve made a covenant with you to be your God. I have a personal interest in you.

Not only am I the LORD and your God, I?brought you up out of the land of Egypt. I redeemed you. ?Bought you. ?I did the impossible?to save you. ?Broke the back of the most powerful nation on earth and freed you from the cruel grip of Pharaoh. I saved you, parted the Red Sea when there was no way of escape,?wiped out your enemies, kept you safe, and provided for you in the desert. And I?brought yo inuto a land flowing with milk and honey.

SO?.OPEN YOUR MOUTH WIDE, AND I WILL FILL IT. Ask me for big things. Open your mouth as wide as you can – I can handle that. Remember I am?your God who redeemed you. If I gave my Son for you?do?you think I?ll hold back lesser things? You?re not asking for things that are too big. You?re asking for things that are too small.

A mom in our church recently told me her son is doing a summer internship with a company a few hours away, and every single intern had already booked apartments and hooked up with roommates. An apartment came available, but her son couldn?t possibly afford it alone, and there were no more interns to ask to share it. The mom requested prayer that God would provide a roommate. A young lady in our church got back to her and said, ?I?m going to pray that God would provide a CHRISTIAN roommate.? The mom told me she was convicted by the young lady?s faith. The mom hadn?t even thought to ask for a Christian roommate. The landscape for roommates had been so bleak she was just hoping for ANY roommate.

You know what?s coming, right? Someone – yes, a previously unlisted intern – posted in the company Facebook page: ?I need a roommate and a place to worship.? God answered the young lady?s prayer! He provided not just a roommate, but a Christian roommate. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it!

Our God is rich and generous. He is?”able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20). ?So ask him for great things. And when you think your request is as big as you can ask, make it even bigger. Open your mouth even wider. We can?t ask too much from the one who redeemed us by the blood of his Son. We can ask too little, but never too much.

Being A Doubter, Skeptic, Or Questioner, Doesn’t Make You Awesome

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These days, it’s considered cool for a Christian to be a questioner, a doubter, and a skeptic. We’re not going to accept the canned faith of our parents! We’re not going to accept anything at face value! We’re going to ask all the hard questions. Our parents simply accepted what they were told from the pulpit. Not us. We’re courageous in the face of doubt. We’re going to question everything from sexuality to evolution to conservative politics to gay rights to abortion to the inerrancy of the Bible. We’ve got new information, and this information changes everything!

You get my point.

And don’t get me wrong: there is an appropriate time and place to ask hard questions. Every Christian needs to honestly wrestle through the various issues that they face.

But I think it’s important to remember that in scripture, God doesn’t give?any special honor to?the questioner. God isn’t impressed by the skeptic. He doesn’t think it’s particularly courageous to constantly question his word. In fact, God actively honors faith and actively resists unbelief and skepticism.

Rather, God is impressed by the man or woman who wholeheartedly embraces the word of God, even when?the circumstances seem to contradict God’s word.

  • When the bleeding woman touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, he said to her, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well” (Matthew 9:22).
  • When the centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant from afar, Jesus responded by saying, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith” (Luke 7:9)
  • When Abraham saw Sarah getting older and older, he didn’t waver in his faith in God’s promise of a son: “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20).

God doesn’t take kindly to constant doubt, questioning, and skepticism. God delights in the man who totally embraces the Bible, with no wavering or hesitation. Who trusts the promises of God without constantly questioning. Who resists cynicism and skepticism and constant doubt.

Let’s ask questions. But let’s ask them while maintaining the constant attitude of faith.

How To Grow Strong In Your Faith

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In Romans 4, Paul tells us Abraham “grew strong in his faith” and urges us to walk in Abraham’s footsteps. To believe like he believed. How do we do this?

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ?So shall your offspring be.? He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:18-21)

Look to God’s promise not your circumstances.

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations (18)

Abraham?s situation looked bleak. God promised him multitudes of descendants, but the only problem was he was well past child producing. “He considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old).” He also considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. Not only was Abraham almost 100 years old, but Sarah his wife was very old and she had never been able to have children her whole life. How are they going to have children? If Abraham had based his hope on his circumstances he would have given up. But In hope he believed against hope – God?s promise gave him hope in his hopeless situation. He put his hope in God?s promise, not his circumstances.

We may feel hopelessly unrighteous. We may feel like God could never forgive us for the sins we have committed, that he would never accept us. But we must not look at ourselves, just like Abraham didn?t look at himself, but like Abraham, we must believe God?s promise of grace. He counts me righteous in Christ!

Our teenager may seem hopelessly lost. Our finances may be out of control. We may lack direction for our lives. Our marriage might be frustrating or our church might be a mess. ?Look to Jesus Christ! Don?t look to yourself. Look to the promise of the gospel – everyone who believes in him shall be saved. Look to his promises to draw near to those who draw near to him. Promises to hear and answer our prayers.

Give glory to God

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (20-21)

Abraham strengthened his faith. ?Here’s how: ?He grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.? Begin to give glory to God – start thanking and praising him for his every promise. Thank him for saving you and declaring you righteous in him. ?He has promised to be with us when we pass through the waters and walk through fire. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised that nothing will be able to separate us from his love. He has promised to give us everything we truly need to glorify him. He has promised that we can do all things he requires through Christ who loves us. ?Praise him for these things!

We can look to our circumstances – it may not LOOK like God is being faithful. It may not FEEL like God is with us in these waters. It may FEEL like he has abandoned or forsaken us. We may not SENSE his love. But WE MUST NOT WAVER CONCERNING THE PROMISE OF GOD! Rather, we grow strong in our faith as we GIVE GLORY TO GOD, as we are fully convinced that God is able to do what he had promised.

In Ps 43 the Psalmist says ?Why are you cast down O my soul? Hope in God for I shall yet praise him.? Keep thanking God, keep praising him in faith in the midst of your hard times. Say, ?Jesus thank you that you are with me. Thank you have promised that your steadfast love never ceases. Praise you that your mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.?

Growing stronger in our faith is not complicated. ?Look to God’s promise and glorify him. ?So what are you going to believe today – God?s word or your circumstances? God?s promises or your feelings? God?s bedrock pledge of faithfulness or your wavering emotions? Walk in the footsteps of Abraham and strengthen your faith.

Ever Full Of Sap And Green (Remembering My Dad)

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They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

(PS 92.14-15)

It?s Easter Sunday and the whole family comes for dinner.

My 92 year-old Dad, JJ, arrives wearing pink sport coat, bolo tie, western belt buckle, hat that looks a little too small for his head with upturned brim all the way around. He?s a walking fashion statement.

As we?re eating dinner he says, ?Well I have to go over to the home tonight to preach to the old folks. I?m older than most of them.?

?What are you preaching on?? we ask.

?Gonna preach on women.?

?Women? Why are you speaking on women??

?Well, most of the folks who come out on Sunday nights are women. There?s a few men. So I thought I?d speak on women. After all, there?s going to be more women in heaven than men.?

We jump on this. ?Wait a minute, Dad how do you know there?s going to be more women in heaven than men??

?Well, you go to most churches and it?ll be mostly women there.?

As discussion ensues, I think of Dad?s idea many years ago that no one would know each other in heaven because we?d have new bodies. He thought he?d be wandering around heaven asking people, have you seen my wife, Jonalee?

After we discuss the merits of whether there will be more women in heaven than men, Dad says he?s going to be talking about godly women. And then he says that for his final example of a godly woman he?s going to talk about my mom, who died in 2001.

I think, what a blessed man I am. I was so blessed to have a godly mother.

It?s Easter. My mom is before the throne worshiping the Lamb.

My godly 92 year old dad puts on his pink sport coat and heads out to talk to the ?old folks.?

One of my sons says ?Grandpa sure is a servant.?

I think, I want to be like him.

Except maybe for the coat.

 

Originally posted April 25, 2011

Don’t Say ‘Goodbye’, Just Say ‘So Long’

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“Don?t say ?goodbye?, just say ?so long?.”

That?s what Dad?s mom, Granny, would say to us when we?d be leaving for home after a week?s vacation in Mattoon, Illinois, where my dad and mom grew up. I didn?t want to leave. Didn?t want to say goodbye. I still remember sitting in the car, getting ready to go, and Granny standing on her porch waving. ?Don?t say ?goodbye?,” she’d say, “just say, ?so long?.” So long, Granny, see you next summer.

Last night we said ?so long? to my 95 year-old Dad, Julian. Although my eyes were filled with tears and my heart with sadness, I was also filled with joy. For I know I?ll see Dad again.

For the last 2 months Dad?s been back and forth between the hospital and a skilled care facility battling his last battle. He had wounds on either side of his ankle from surgery after falling on his icy driveway in December. The wounds were infected and terribly painful. He had a small heart attack in January which knocked him down further. Though his life was declining his hope in Jesus burned bright. He longed to go home to be with the Lord.

So yesterday afternoon, when he took a turn for the worse, and had to be taken to the ER, when the doctor asked if we wanted to aggressively treat him, my sisters and I, in accordance with Dad?s wishes, which he had made abundantly clear to us earlier, asked if he could return to the skilled care facility and be kept comfortable.

A few hours later, after we read some Scripture and sang a couple worship songs, as well as one of Dad?s favorites, ?Cheek to Cheek? by Fred Astaire (?Heaven, I?m in heaven?.), Dad simply stopped breathing and peacefully went to be with Jesus. That was about 6:50 p.m. Perfect timing for the world?s biggest St. Louis Cardinal fan. Most baseball games start at 7:00. I can see dad running out onto the field in heaven and the great crowd of witnesses cheering.

But I?m sure Dad?s not thinking about baseball. He?s too enraptured with the glorious vision of his beautiful Savior?s face. Reunited with my mom, he’s singing ?Worthy is the Lamb? before the throne.

My Dad was a great dad and grandfather. But most important, he was precious to Jesus. Bought with Jesus? blood, ?his name was engraved on Jesus? palms and written in heaven. That?s where his home is, and that?s where he longed to go. So we won?t say goodbye. We?ll just say ?So long, Dad, see you soon.?

photo: Dad at work on one of his hand-painted birthday cards, which he would send to about 30 people a month. ?In the last 15 years he painted 5,000 to 6,000 cards for people.

No One Ever Regrets It

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This is a post by my favoritest person ever, my wife Jen.?

I?ve been reading my way through the Psalms. This book goes on and on about God?s steadfast love and great faithfulness. In fact, I almost stop noticing those words. Life can get messy. At times, my gut tells me that God has abandoned me. To make things worse, Satan preys when I?m vulnerable, despairing, and questioning. At times, I?m not sure that these words in His book are true. I mean, I know them. I?ve known ever since I was ?yay high?.

I was weighed down by the cares of the week, month, and honestly, years, when I listened to a sermon. The words of the pastor were much more eloquent, but I?ll do my best. ?Not one who has followed God, has ever regretted it.? You get the gist. All my unanswered questions and messy life, and the Holy Spirit came in. These words were life to me. There?s a lot I don?t get, but God is working in ways and for purposes I can?t begin to understand.

And it?s true. Romans 8:30, ?And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified, he also glorified.? Glorified. Done, as if it?s already happened. I don?t know how, but I?m going to make it. This week, that was enough.

photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read via photopin cc

A Good Lesson From A 95-Year Old Warrior

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There?s a French phrase that the American soldiers picked up from the French people in WW II. It?s a phrase of a people who had been occupied by foreign armies many times. It?s a phrase that acknowledges that stuff breaks, bad things happen, plans go astray, it?s a hard world. It?s a phrase of resignation. The phrase is ?C?est la guerre? (which sounds like say-la-gare). C?est la guerre means literally, ?It?s the war.? It is a way of saying we have to accept things as they are because that?s just the way life is.

My 95-year old dad, JJ, who landed on the beaches of Normandy 30 days after D-Day, spent a good amount of time in France in the War. He said when a soldier was wounded or they couldn?t get supplies, or they had to sleep in muddy trenches, they?d simply shrug their shoulders and say, ?C?est la guerre.? Hey, it?s the war, what do you expect?

My Dad is in the hospital now. He fell on ice and broke his ankle in 2 places on Dec. 16 last year. At first this tough old soldier refused to let me take him to the ER, saying ?It?s only a slight sprain.? When the pain became unbearable he consented to go to a clinic which showed he?d fractured his ankle. He endured intense pain for a couple days as they adjusted the levels of his blood thinner before they could operate. They inserted a steel plate and 11 screws. After week in the hospital they transferred him to a skilled care facility where he had to continue to endure much pain and physical discomfort. After a couple weeks there he was finally beginning to improve when two Sundays ago he had a small heart attack and was taken back to the hospital at 4 in the morning.

About 4 days into his second hospital stay his ankle was bleeding out through the bandages and they discovered he has MRCA, a bad infection, in the wound in his ankle. He?s also experienced severe pain in the ankle, and often winces and groans as it shoots up his leg.

Dad doesn?t complain. A few times in this ordeal he has sighed and said, ?Oh boy,? and said he wished he could be transported to one of his two homes – either his earthly one or his heavenly one. But he doesn?t complain. Yesterday morning when I visited, I said, ?Dad, I?m so sorry you have to go through all this suffering and misery.? He smiled slightly and shrugged his shoulders and said, ?Cest? la guerre.? The old warrior laying in his bed, connected to tubes, covered with purple bruises from his blood thinner, foot in a boot, wincing in pain. ?It?s the war.?

It?s the war. Yes. This world is broken. This world has been infected by sin. Powers and principalities in heavenly places wage war against us. ?All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.? We who believe in Jesus have tasted the powers of the age to come, but still experience the pain of this age.

Yet so often we?re surprised when we suffer. Sometimes we even ask, ?Why is this happening to me?? Why am I suffering? Why do things go wrong? Why don?t I have enough money? Why is my teen rebelling? Why am I mistreated at work? Why?

Cest? la guerre.

It?s the war. We should expect things to happen, to go wrong, to not always get what we want. We should be prepared to suffer. Not in an Eyore ?I-guess-I?m-just-doomed-to-suffer? way, but in a ?this-is-hard-and-sad-and painful-but-I-know-God-is-working-this-for-my-good? way. It?s the war. We have powerful enemies. We walk through spiritual minefields every day. We have cravings and desires we must put to death. We have to flee temptation.

But we have a Great High Priest interceding for us. We have power of God within us, the Holy Spirit himself. We have powerful weapons – the gospel, prayer, God?s promises. And we have a great hope. Hope that will not disappoint. A hope of glory. An eternal weight of glory awaiting us. No one in heaven will say, ?This wasn?t worth what I went through.? We?ll say, ?All I endured that seemed so long and heavy was momentary and light compared to this glory!? We have a hope of seeing Jesus? face and hearing him say, ?Well done, good and faithful servant.?

My dad may be close to hearing those words. I don?t know. On one hand I hope Jesus heals him, because I love him and love to be with him. On the other hand, he?s been fighting this war a long time, and it?s far better to be with Jesus.

It?s the war. It?s a fight. But it?s a good fight. Keep on fighting. Keep on looking to Jesus. Our Conqueror on his white horse isn?t far away.

*Photo- JJ Altrogge in his hospital bed