Tuesday, April 30, 2013

She Said

The ride home from my neurologist took an hour, leaving me very little time to blog. Which is disappointing, because I have comments about pro-athletes and former ex-gays who are "coming out." Until I have time to adequately discuss the topic, however,  allow me to direct you to this blog post by Olive On! Her perspective is refreshing, timely, and much needed.

Monday, April 29, 2013

No Minor Disagreement

Asking hard, probing questions from a sincere desire for truth deserves applause. Scripture indicates that the Lord honors those who make the effort to discern the Lord's truth through careful study of God's Word.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. ~~2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

So it's healthy to ask questions that challenge assumptions, teachings and  beliefs held by various churches and denominations. No church gets every point perfectly, but periodic examination, testing beliefs and practices against Biblical teaching, can correct error. Honest questions, then, offer tremendous benefit in sharpening our understanding of Who God is and how He expects Christians to conduct their lives.

John Smid, in his latest blog post, asked a multitude of thought-provoking questions in order to illustrate the fact that different groups that call themselves Christian arrive at a vast array  of differing conclusions on various matters...including (of course) homosexuality. I believe some of John's questioning may be honest, but his conclusion betrays his desire to embrace liberal "Christianity" without  having anyone challenge him.

Is there one TRUTH? Is there one way to believe? Are all Christians alike and do they agree on such important matters as life, love, and relationship? It’s very easy for me to say a resounding NO!!!! WE do not agree. There isn’t one answer. Not one TRUTH, other than I believe that Jesus came, He lived, He died, and He rose again. He paid the price for my imperfect life so that I will live eternally with God in the place He has prepared for me.

Is John Smid saying that truth is simply a matter of personal preference? In some instances, the Bible certainly makes room for different personal convictions, commanding Christians not to judge each other. See Romans 14:1-12 and 1 Corinthians 8:4-6. Both passages, however, are immediately followed by the caveat that we must restrict personal liberties rather than offend Christians who may have stricter convictions.

The Bible's position on homosexuality, as well as any other sexual practice apart from heterosexual marriage, is not one that views homosexuality as a matter of personal conviction. Despite the sleight-of-hand tricks by pro-gay theologians, careful Bible study never allows for any form of same-sex relationship, no  matter how loving and committed such relationships may be.

In highlighting various areas of disagreement among professing Christians, and then casting homosexuality as simply another area of disagreement,  John Smid (as well as other "gay Christians") gives the very real impression that he believes truth is subjective. If I've wrongly understood him, I will gladly write a public apology in this blog. Until he can convince me otherwise, however, I must consider his questions as a vehicle for his pro-gay agenda.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Images On Boston Strong

Since the Marathon Bombing, Bostonians and visitors have created a makeshift memorial, which is now in Copley Square. The following photos John took yesterday only begin to capture the powerful emotion we felt.
Click to read

This one really choked me up

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reflecting Marathon Bombers

The plan, weather permitting, is to go into Boston tomorrow and eat somewhere on Boylston Street. Boylston just reopened yesterday, after nine days of being cordoned off as a crime scene following the Marathon Bombings, costing business owners millions of dollars, so we'd like to do our small part to aid  the recovery.

Sad that two young men could cause so many layers of damage and aggravation. It's difficult to absorb the multiple ramifications of their actions, although new aspects come to light almost hourly, raising a host of disturbing questions. Questions too varied, too intense, and too complex. And yet, each facet, though hideous, holds an irresistible fascination that commands attention.

In all this, the desire to find some profound Biblical truth strangely finds no real satisfaction beyond the obvious point that, apart from Jesus, humanity is hopelessly evil. And nobody cares to hear that message. The Pharisees hated Jesus for exposing their "righteousness" as self-serving pride intended to glorify themselves rather than God. Jesus revealed the ugliness that motivated their religious fervor, confronting the truth that they worshiped their own reputations rather than seeking to honor the God they claimed to represent. When Jesus dismantled their facades, He infuriated them.

As long as we can point to the Tsarnaev brothers with a sense that we are morally superior to them, we feel comforted. We can ignore all the spiritual bombs we routinely detonate through the many sins we commit, forgetting what devastation we often cause by our anger, our lies, our greed, our gossip or our sexual immorality. We don't want the Marathon Bombings to reflect our own savage rebellion.

But, like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, each of us needs a Savior. The Lord confronts our sin, not to condemn us, but to show us our need for His wonderful mercy. If we would only have the humility to recognize ourselves in these two brothers, we could receive His grace as the amazing treasure it is!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Way Beyond High School Publications

Okay, so it was only a high school literary magazine. All the same, seeing my name under those few paragraphs of prose thrilled me! I had submitted the piece (written just before I'd come to Christ) because it captured the innocence of feeling a longing to be held without sexual connotations, as well as the insecurity of seeing loved ones put on uniforms to go to Vietnam. Along with it, I'd also submitted a Christian poem I'd written after my conversion, but it wasn't published.

Choosing not to wallow in disappointment that the secular piece made publication but the Christian poem suffered rejection, I eagerly showed my first-ever published work to a Christian friend, anticipating his proud approval. To my surprise, he simply said, "But it's not about Jesus!"

"Oh good grief," I bristled in my characteristic over-defensive way, "does everything have to be about Jesus?"

"Yes," he answered as he walked away.

Over the 32 years since that incident, I've struggled, internally debated and vacillated over my writing, sometimes feeling free to write without mentioning the Lord and at other times feeling guilty if I omitted His name.

At this point in my life, I take the liberty to write occasional posts that seem unrelated to Biblical matters, and I trust that my choices still honor the Lord. Readers can easily see that my more "secular" posts maintain wholesome values, avoid crass language, and steer clear of suggestive elements. Not everything I write needs to be explicitly about Jesus, as I know He died to release me from such legalism.

At a deeper level, however, everything I write should honor Him. He is the Lord and the Creator who made everything for His good pleasure. In heaven, we will enjoy liberation from our dastardly self-focus so that we can completely concentrate on worshiping Him. All the worldly distractions that blind us to His beauty and majesty will burn away, leaving only Him, and praise will well up within our hearts. I'll think of my high school friend, understanding more thoroughly than I ever can in this life that everything is most certainly about Jesus.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One Photo--Five Pictures

After John's appointment at Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday, we took my new wheelchair along Cambridge Street, down Tremont, through Boston Common and into the Public Garden. In the Garden, I noticed a terrific view of the Hancock and Prudential Towers from the lagoon, so I asked John to photograph it.

Pretty, isn't it? And I engaged in a lengthy conversation with the duck! Actually it was just me saying, "Quack, quack," while he maintained an air of dignity by completely ignoring me, but the little interlude entertained me anyway.

This afternoon, I decided to use Paintshop Pro to enhance the photo. I'm still learning this version of Paintshop Pro, and I found a filter called "vibrancy" that gave me just the effect I wanted.
Once I'd done that, I wanted to see what I could do with the "brush stroke" filter. Tinkering with that filter demanded a bit more time, patience and concentration, but eventually I came up with something I liked well enough.
The challenge here was to keep the effect subtle, and still make the photograph look like a painting.

Next,  I experimented with both "depth perception" and "brightness/contrast," and I'm not at all certain I like my results.

A little too murky and overpowering, it seems to me. On the other hand, there's a richness to it that I find appealing, so perhaps it's not so bad. Maybe it's a "Boston Strong" statement.

Finally, I tried the "pencil" filter, and worked carefully with its settings. It took a while to get what I wanted, but I applied some determination until I got what I wanted.

I love Boston, despite last week's horrors, and all five versions of  this photo remind me of its beauty. I look forward to showing you more photos of it this spring, summer and fall. Now, if only those ducks would answer when I quack...

I've Gone Straight!

Just posting a photo showing how well my new wheelchair supports me:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pleading For Justice

President Obama promised Monday that law enforcement would catch those responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings, and that justice would be served. And, like many Americans, I'm eager to see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tried, convicted and punished. He committed reprehensible acts, and undoubtedly he and his brother would have killed and wounded many more people, had they not been identified. Let me be clear: this young man (who's really still a boy) deserves the full weight of justice!

Having said this, I find it interesting that, when I sin, I beg for mercy. Justice loses its appeal when I'm the one who deserves punishment. And you, dear reader, most likely have the same double-standard. Justice is morally right for the other guy, while we insist on mercy...or out-and-out deny that we've done anything wrong.

Scripture, however, teaches that all of us are detestable in comparison to a holy and righteous God. His justice would condemn every last one of us for our rejection of His authority. The apostle Paul, quoting from the Old Testament, provides a chilling description of the human condition:

10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” ~~Romans 3:10-18 (ESV)

Thankfully, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God extends His mercy.  Jesus bore our penalty for us, satisfying God's justice in our place! But make no mistake: true justice required that a penalty be paid for the countless ways you and I have offended the Lord, leaving us no room to feel morally superior to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As we demand that he be brought to justice, let's not ignore our own need for mercy.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

In Praise Of Boston's Champions

Today, Boston celebrates the heroic capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, while still grieving for the lives he took and the people he injured (several of whom will be physically disabled for the rest of their lives). Of course, we can't escape from wondering whether he and his brother acted alone, or if they operated as part of a larger terror cell. Perhaps answers will come as the Fourth of July celebration on the Esplanade approaches, with heightened security thwarting any plots that might exist before innocent people are harmed. It just stinks that our jubilation must be tempered by such concerns.

Yet, the First Responders of Watertown and Boston deserve every word of praise and admiration they receive, having put their lives on the line. Tsarnaev had proven his disregard for life twenty hours earlier by hurling homemade grenades at the police who pursued him, so each of the people involved in apprehending him knew that he would kill them with no hesitation. That knowledge did not dissuade them. If he escaped, he would maim and kill again.

Thank you, we all say, and we say it with a level of sincerity that we didn't think we had. We long to express our gratitude more tangibly! If the city gave them the kind of Duck Boat parade that it gives its sports teams when they win championships, the cheers would far exceed those given to the Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and Red Sox combined--and rightly so! Last night's men and women who chased and caught Tsarnaev are Boston's true champions. May they never have to fight a battle this dangerous again!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Quiet In Boston

Sometimes, speaking the truth (even from an attitude of love) needs to take a back  seat. The post I'd planned to write today contains some good, Biblical points that definitely need to be made, but today simply forbids me to write it. Right now, all thoughts and prayers must focus on apprehending Dzhokar Tsnarnaev, the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Although the area where I live is free, much of the Greater Boston Area is under lock down. He's on the loose somewhere, and it's hard not to wonder if he's somehow made it to the South Shore. Hopefully not. In any case, life in Eastern Massachusetts has pretty much stopped, and discussing all the spiritual implications of this week need to wait until a more settled time. That time will come, but not today, when fears loom large and people throb with hurt and confusion.

Today calls for prayer, not commentary, and I've decided to heed that call.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Of Good Cheer

Turns out I was positioned incorrectly yesterday, which caused the difficulty in typing. Although it's still a learning process, I'm much more optimistic about the new wheelchair than I was yesterday, and I feel confident that I'll acclimate to it soon. I'm using my hips and back more to type, which is better for my neck, and right now my body's protesting the change in procedure. But I'm doing it, slowly but surely, knowing that it will get easier in time. Never fear: I'll be posting sizzling blog posts again before you know it!

We took the chair around Randolph this morning, and figured out some of its idiosyncrasies. We crossed paths with John's mom, so she got to see the chair (she's been looking forward to me getting it). After John's CAT scan tomorrow, we hope to tool around Boston (not near Boyleston Street, though), so I'm excited! Thanks for all your prayers yesterday.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The New Wheelchair

After a ten-month process, my new wheelchair arrived yesterday morning. I'd anticipated some initial problems, since the old chair's seating  system had never supported my trunk, and would consequently be shocked by a system that actually did correct my slumping. Well, the adjustment exceeds my worst expectations. And as a result, I experience tremendous difficulty using my computer.

However, I'm starting to make progress, slow and arduous as it may be. I need prayer for patience, as well as creative problem-solving skills. The physical pain is annoying, through not as emotionally distressing as the limitations to my typing abilities. I must trust God's wisdom in allowing this trial.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I'm Safe

Today just isn't conducive to blogging in light of the Boston Marathon bombings. I just wanted my readers to know that John and I did not go to Boston today, so we're safe. Please pray for Boston.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Enough About Me...

First person singular. How often writers of personal blogs fall into that default writing style, sometimes almost unable to avoid those self-referencing pronouns. Not that it's necessarily wrong to write in first person singular. Indeed, this genre lends itself to that very thing! Therefore, a blogger, particularly in offering his or her perspective, need not fear using those pronouns as they offer to let their readers view life through their eyes.

At times, however, perhaps a writer (or blogger) ought to deliberately recede into the background, making the post less about him or her and more about the subject at hand. Christian bloggers may need to practice this discipline much more than their secular counterparts because Jesus should be the center of attention rather than the person writing about Him. As John the Baptist declared, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)

The four Gospel writers (with a couple very minor exceptions in  Luke's case) avoided writing in first person singular. Although doing so can be a wonderful writing exercise that definitely stretches a writer's skills, it's probably safe to say that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John mainly cared about the Lord's preeminence. They didn't want to obscure  Him by talking about themselves. They wrote their Gospel accounts with a desire to present Him to the world, wanting their readers to worship and adore Him.

Sadly, most Christians want Jesus, not solely for His own merits, but for how He relates to them; I plead guilty to that charge. And, although such narcissism appears more pronounced in 21st Century evangelicalism, humanity has always exhibited more self-focus than concern about glorifying God. Yet when He returns and establishes the new heavens and the new earth, redeemed humanity, at last fully liberated from individual sin natures, will enjoy the freedom of focusing completely on Him.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Don't Feel Like Blogging

When the screen shows that huge white text box, devoid of characters, my first response is to read other blogs in pursuit of inspiration. Yesterday, that strategy worked.

Today, however, the lengthy paragraphs and skillful reasoning from Scripture overwhelmed me, leaving me more dizzy than inspired. As a result of this intellectual overload, I feel verbally paralyzed, and hear myself thinking the words: "I don't want to blog."

Those words represent a half-truth. More accurately, this past week my enthusiasm for blogging has waned. So has my enthusiasm for serving the Lord, to be honest. Yet, deep in my heart, I still have a desire to serve Him, just as deep down I still have a desire to blog (indeed, I regard blogging as one of the primary ways I serve Him). I've made commitments, not under coercion, but from love. I serve God because I love Him, just as (to a lesser degree) I blog because I love blogging.

Commitment takes over when enthusiasm diminishes, motivating me towards faithful actions regardless of my feelings. In this post-modern era of allowing feelings to dictate behavior, commitment offers a certain stability that carries me until my feelings once again align themselves accordingly. So, even when I override my desires in favor of doing the right thing, I  experience a satisfaction and joy that I otherwise would miss.

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Uninvited, Constant Companion

For almost 60 years, disability has underscored every aspect of life, including my relationship with the Lord. In many ways, it necessarily defines me. And that's okay, mostly because I can't escape the fact that it's always with me. I rarely wish for a "normal" body, though the isolation caused by my speech impediment frequently frustrates me, and I'm thankful for ways that the Lord uses my disability for His purposes. Thankfully, my bouts of self-pity grow fewer and shorter as the years pass, while I learn just how gracious and generous God has been throughout my life. So disability, along with its inconveniences and occasional prohibitions, has been more of an uninvited companion than an adversary to me, shaping how I live and how I approach life.

Having said that, I'm not particularly interested in the topic of disability, nor have I ever been. I don't care to involve myself in disability ministry, as much as I respect three of my girlfriends who indeed have allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them to serve with Joni and Friends through their disabilities. At various points throughout my life, I've actually made attempts to involve myself in both Christian and secular disability endeavors, only to realize that I worked from an attitude of obligation rather than genuine interest.

And so, although this blog straightforwardly acknowledges my Cerebral Palsy in order to explain its title's play on words, I feel little inclination to post about disability. Perhaps some readers wish I would bring up the subject more often, feeling that I ignore the proverbial elephant in the room, and possibly even some might wonder if I'm deliberately distancing myself from it. But  the truth is simply that other topics, and especially the aberrations from sound  Biblical doctrine, interest me more than my disability does.

Disability may be my constant, though uninvited, companion, but it's definitely not the sum-total of who I am! Yes, I constantly feel its impact, even in the fact that typing with a headstick forces me to keep my blog posts short and, consequently, less in-depth than I'd like. At the same time, I rejoice that the Lord has allowed this blog to move beyond my Cerebral Palsy (without ignoring it) to discuss a wide range of other matters. I'm not confined to my wheelchair, nor am I shackled by my bodily limitations. Disability may be an undercurrent to my life, but it's not the entire river.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Arrival Begins

Not much had changed in Boston since January, yet the familiar sights felt so new as the first timid signs of spring adorned the Boston Common, the Public Garden and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway yesterday. After so many weeks of being kept away from the city because of a relentless, savagely cold winter, the familiar places offered the reassurance of coming "home."

A few trees in the Common have begun to bud. You have to look closely and carefully at first, but once you see them, they multiply! They promise seven glorious months of warm, relaxing days that erase the memories of harsh New England winters.

As expected, the Public Garden holds the most vivid indications of spring's arrival, with new green leaves cascading along the elegant branches of the willow trees.
And what says "spring" better than a red-breasted robin? Especially one who patiently sits in front of John's camera, almost wanting him to get just the right shot?

The view from the suspension bridge always exudes romance, but did so even more yesterday in the 72 degree weather.
Once again, ducks swim in the Public Garden lagoon, fascinating small children and their parents. Signs ask people not to feed them, but sometimes the ducks manage to convince people to ignore those pesky signs.
The Greenway also has begun dressing for the season with prim, though pleasantly curvy,  rows of small purple flowers.
So, at long last, spring has broken winter's very long  grip on Boston. It will still be a few weeks before all the bare branches don blossoms and leaves. More flowers have yet to color the parks. But yesterday offered Boston its first taste of spring. And, after such a hard winter, its flavor definitely satisfied!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happily-Ever-After In Context

Marriage. Since early childhood, I dreamed of belonging to a man, and of him belonging to me. Yes, I'd fantasize about the romantic courtship and fairy-tale wedding, imagining the frothy white gown and the handsome groom who would watch me come down the aisle. But I also wanted the happily-ever-after part, even though I had no idea what happily-ever-after meant.

One month before my 49th birthday, the Lord graciously granted this greatest desire of my heart, just as He'd granted other desires of my heart in earlier years.
Soon after the wedding, as I gratefully acknowledged that indeed I was living happily-ever-after, I began wondering what was left. If God had now given me everything I'd ever really wanted (plus blessings I didn't know I wanted), what was left except Heaven? Was I therefore ready to die?

Amazing, isn't it, how I claimed to be living for Jesus, when all the while my true focus was on how I could persuade Him to give me what I wanted? His generosity in the face of my selfishness is even more amazing! I still scratch my head as I try to understand His mercy towards me, especially as I grow in my comprehension of my selfishness.

The Lord gave me a wonderful marriage, but He doesn't want me to squander it on self-satisfaction. He means to glorify Himself through our marriage. I'm not sure exactly how He accomplishes that purpose, and it's more than likely best if He doesn't clue me in on how He uses us. I need only know that my happiness, as well as John's happiness, is a very distant second to how our marriage brings glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. Happily-ever-after will be when we stand before Him in Heaven to hear how He used us!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

All Things Working Together

The Scripture she quoted seemed to trivialize the pain and confusion of leaving Memphis and seeking solace in San  Rafael. Suffering people really don't appreciate hearing:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ~~Romans 8:28 (ESV)

Oh, I understand that she quoted the verse in order to comfort me, and she had also returned to San Rafael several months earlier under her own cloud of disappointment,  so I can't exactly fault her. And the verse rings absolutely true, as the events of the four following years showed by leading me into my marriage to John. But that late May evening in 1997, as I wondered if leaving Memphis had been a colossal mistake, her words hurt.

I'd loved working for Love In Action, and had eagerly followed the ministry to Memphis two years earlier. In so doing, I'd signed myself into a nursing home for disabled adults of all ages. Most of my fellow residents either had cognitive impairments or limited social skills, and those who were capable of interpersonal relationships showed no interest in me. Except one man.

No guy had ever expressed romantic intentions toward me before this man. By then, I'd lived in the nursing home for 14 months, rarely seeing my friends from Love In Action and church outside of work and Sunday morning services. But this boyfriend offered me attention, making the surreal nursing  home environment more bearable. I made moral compromises, fully aware of my sin in making them, and felt less guilty about making those compromises when I accepted his marriage proposal.

Only a month later, an argument with a nurse who had falsely accused me of not being in  my room when she was scheduled to put me to bed resulted in me feeling hopeless about my future. Marrying another resident of that facility would guarantee a lifetime of intermittent  abuse by nurses, and I wasn't sure I wanted that way of life. Rumors of my fiance's involvement with a female resident in the home (which some people confirmed and others denied) led me to go home for a year so each of us could work through issues with the Lord before I returned to marry him.

Sitting in that Bible study, 2000 miles away from the man I loved but distrusted, my friend's quotation of Romans 8:28 was anything but comforting. Six months later, when my fiance officially ended our engagement, I avoided that Scripture as much as possible, not willing to believe God's will could possibly have been done.

Of course, just two months after the break-up, John appeared in a chat room I'd started. Slowly, the Lord led us through the stages of friendship, courtship and engagement, with my experience of having moved to Memphis giving me the necessary confidence to move to Boston. Our marriage has opened doors for the Lord to use us for His purposes, as well  as showing us His goodness. Often, John quotes Romans 8:28, and those words fill me with delight!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Not Necessarily About Feelings

Twelve years ago, I attended a conference on youth ministry. I don't remember a great deal about it, but one speaker caught my attention with an approach to youth ministry that both alarmed and disturbed me. He urged us to discard the model of Fact-Faith-Feeling in reference to teaching kids how to operate as Christians, explaining that millennials need to be reached on an emotional level before being presented with  Biblical truth and challenged to believe.

This approach underestimates adolescents and young adults by its implication that they need their emotions engaged before we can make appeals to their intellects. When I was 17, I appreciated the man who taught the Bible Study I attended precisely because he treated those of us still in high school as adults. We opened meetings by singing, but then delved right into Scripture. He'd explain historical background, cross-reference other passages of Scripture, show us Greek words, and keep  verses in context. And we ate it up, fascinated that a book as old as the Bible could be so relevant to teenagers and young adults in the 1970s.

Worse than underestimating kids, however, the conference speaker underestimated the power of God's Word.

 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

Although I occasionally felt emotional about Jesus (influenced by the Charismatic/Pentecostal people that dominated our group), the Bible served as my anchor. Mind you, like most teenaged girls (of any era), I lived by my emotions. And I needed the reason of God's Word to counter-balance my much-too-cherished feelings with truth.

While I'll concede that America in 2013 is more oriented to feelings and subjective experience than it was in 1971, I don't believe kids are fundamentally different than we were. Truth can stand without emotions, precisely because it is true, and I believe kids whom the Holy  Spirit has called will respond, not to emotional gimmicks, but to the faithful preaching of God's Word.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Plea To Spring

Last spring, John was cooped up in hospitals, and I observed flowers and  budding trees only through the windows of RIDE vans  and cars. Driving up Storrow Drive toward Mass General Hospital, I'd crane my neck to catch glimpses of the blossoming trees along the Esplanade, wishing John and I could wheel along the Charles River, across the Arthur Feidler foot bridge, and through the Public Garden. At least I got glimpses--John  only saw transfusion bags, stethoscopes and hospital rooms. Spring came to Boston, and left Boston, without either of us being able to enjoy it.

John returned home in June, and sometime in late July or early August we began (between too many doctor visits and thunder storms, it seemed to me) to venture into Boston. Summer and fall raced by, offering us little time to play, and by then the spring flowers had long since gone. The Public Garden still held great beauty, with its two swans gliding slowly around the lagoon against a backdrop of weeping willows, but the tulips had been replaced by flowers of autumn. We had no chance of pretending it was spring.

The cold weather began early, making our last few Boston excursions uncomfortable. (A faulty weather forecast resulted in us wheeling from John's doctor's office to South Station in the rain.) Our Boston Adventure in January was nice, but short, and in February we only got as far as South Shore Plaza.

We had a beautiful day in March, the bulk of which we spent in my doctor's office...although we did wheel ourselves home.  And this past Saturday, we wheeled to Toast Of The Town to celebrate John's 1-year anniversary (and survival) of his heart attack.

But the March winds insist on lapsing over into April, keeping us out of Boston. I'm missing the city, longing to be there to see blossoms, and to watch Freedom Trail tours resume, and to feel the gentle sun warm my legs. Yet winter fights to keep New England in its cold grasp, and John and I remain at home, separated from the city we love.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Better Than My Resurrection Body

Throughout the four decades that I've been a Christian, friends have said, "I'll bet you're looking forward to your resurrection body!" They anticipate dancing with me, having me beat them at tennis, and competing in glorious foot races through the gold-paved streets of heaven. Who am I to say such things won't happen? Like my friends, I know I'll have a physical body when Jesus raises me up on the last day, and I also know that disability will have no part in my glorified body. I will be able to stand on my own two  feet, run towards Jesus, leap for joy, and dance in worship, all of which will, I'm sure, be wonderful.

To be sure, physical disability isn't something I'd choose. It ushers in so many complexities, too numerous (and sometimes too indelicate) to discuss in a brief blog post. There are times when I hate having to depend on Personal Care  Attendants, and times when my speech defect frustrates me. And how I long to wrap my arms around John as a non-verbal expression of my love!

Yet, I don't really consider having a glorified body to be terribly important when I'm in the eternal kingdom, and thus it's not the first thing I think of when I contemplate going to heaven. Many Christians with disabilities do look forward to being released from their crippling conditions, and certainly I don't blame them. It's just that, to me, physical wholeness seems secondary to the blessings I long for in heaven.

Firstly, I'm excited that, when I go to heaven, the Lord will finally complete my liberation from my sin nature. Although His Holy Spirit gives me power to resist sin in this life, I fight temptations daily and all too often I fail to appropriate His power. I hate sinning! I yearn for that day when He frees me totally from my selfishness so that I'll never offend Him again. At last, He will make me pure and holy, able to reflect His glory without my nasty self getting in the way, and I know such uninterrupted holiness will be wonderful!

But even more wonderful will be seeing Jesus. Scarey at first, admittedly, as I'll see the horror of my sin more deeply than I do now. But as He reveals the magnitude of His mercy, His compassion and love will transfix me. Finally, everything will truly be about Him, and the state of my physical body, even though glorified and emancipated from Cerebral Palsy, will be a peripheral detail. I will be looking into His eyes.  What else could possibly matter?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Honest Looks At Homosexuality And Other Sins

Professing Christians, it appears, increasingly support same sex marriage while rejecting the idea that homosexuality is sinful. They urge compassion, warning more conservative Christians against judging, reminding us that all have sinned and fall short of God's glory.

Do you pick up on the internal contradiction? If homosexuality is not sinful in the first place, what is the point of insisting that Christians recognize our own  sinfulness (presumably in order that we in turn approach homosexuals with the same mercy and compassion that Jesus has extended to us)? Why would mercy and compassion be necessary if sin isn't the issue? Why not simply demonstrate that God sees homosexuality as morally neutral without mentioning sins that Christians commit?

Gay Christians can't have it both ways. If they can demonstrate that theologians have misunderstood the passages of Scripture that appear to condemn homosexuality, that's one thing. So far, I haven't particularly found their case to  be convincing, mainly because they ignore context and rely on emotional appeals. But if one pro-gay theologian could offer a clear exposition of Scripture that showed homosexuality to  be much the same as left-handedness, I'd be more than happy to change my position, embrace same-sex marriage, and apologize to my many friends who seek to identify as   Gay Christians.

If, on the other hand, Gay Christians want to remind me of the many sins I still haven't overcome, I will agree with them while pointing out that they therefore admit that homosexuality is equivalent to my sins. No better, and certainly no worse. I can acknowledge that I no more chose my predisposition toward anger than they chose to be sexually attracted to members of their own gender, and from there I can speak of Christ's mercy, grace and forgiveness as we struggle to turn from our respective sins.

Homosexuality is painful. I've had numerous friends who have experienced same sex attractions, and I've listened to their stories of heartbreak, pain and rejection. I know the common assumption is that those who consider homosexuality to be sinful simply don't understand the suffering that the LGBT Community faces, but too many people I've deeply loved indeed have shared their experiences with me for me to not understand their hurt and frustration. Yet I see similarities between their struggles and mine.

Instead of justifying homosexuality, or any sin, let's cast ourselves on Jesus, trusting His mercy as we  hunger and thirst for His righteousness. He will shower us with His compassion, forgiving us and providing us with ways to escape our temptations, if we'll only be honest with Him.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Following Our Exalted Head

While nominal Christians focused on colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and ham dinners with extended families yesterday, my heart trembled from the combined emotions of awe and joy at the thought of Jesus being raised from the dead. His resurrection proved that His Father accepted Him as a sacrifice for sin, but it also provided assurance that He will raise us up! I don't understand exactly how it works, but I know the promise is implicit in His resurrection. Therefore, I find hope as I anticipate living eternally with Him.


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