The Bed of Recovery to the Chair of Recovery

Surgery: The Bed of Recovery to the Chair of Recovery

The subject of our series has been surgery.  It is the progressive process of healing.  Practically speaking surgery is the process of systematic incision purposed to extract something that is causing pain, or that has the potential to cause a fatal and tragic end.  Surgery removes that which hinders the experience of promise.

I heard a story (what we call testimony in the church) from a good friend and person I love dearly about the move that they made from their recovery bed to their recovery chair.  They had come through the surgical procedure.  They had been wheeled into a room that was prepared for them to begin their recovery process.  They knew that the process was to take some time but they were not completely prepared for the beginning of this process.

The room was not a room where they had privacy to recover.  The room was not prepared for an individual.  To their surprise they found themselves in a room shared by “victims” of surgery.  “Victims” of purposed incision.

They spoke about how it took some time for the numbing agents to subside.  The incisions of the surgery were painful and there presented a need to be medicated to aid the pain from the surgical procedure; and  as they came to their right mind they found themselves lying in a bed designed for their recovery.

An interesting thing to consider is that when we go through a spiritual surgical procedure where God is removing or has removed something from us that was a part of us for so long that it may leave us on our back for a period of time.  Laying on our back for long periods of time will also cause a new pain.  The pain that is experienced from lying on this bed of recovery is an indication that it is time to “change positions”.

When someone lies in a certain position for a long period of time the body will become stiff.  This stiffness occurs because there is a lack of movement.  This stiffness happens because the muscles in the body become accustomed to the position that they are in, but we must remember that the bed is only a phase within the process of recovery.

As I reflect on the person I wrote of above I remember they told me that their body began to “reject” the bed.  Their body was telling them that the bed in which the were lying was not helping the recovery and was now causing pain…so they moved from the bed to the chair.

As the “professionals”  came in to assess them, that is the doctors and nurses, and suggest that they move back to the bed, their response was simple…”I will move from this chair, but I am not getting back in that bed.”

Sometimes in a believers recovery process they will get to a point that they realize that the bed in which they are lying is now a new source of pain that is not aiding in the recovery but is, in fact, hindering that very process.  We must move from the bed to the chair of recovery so that we are not lying down hoping for healing but that we are sitting up expecting healing.  Moving from the bed of recovery to the chair of recovery is evidence that we are active and willing participants in the process of recovery.

Recovery is the process of surgery that prepares us to become a glorifying agent and manifested testimony of the work of the Almighty in whom we have placed our trust.  We cannot lie in a bed hoping for recovery without moving in faith expecting the hand of the Lord to be evident in the testimony that we hope to become.  We must declare, as my loved one did, “I will move where ever you tell me, but I am not getting back into that bed!”

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The Table of Exposure

Surgery: The Table of Exposure

So far we have considered what it takes to prepare for surgery and the fear that we have to face prior to surgery. I will further define surgery within this context as we contemplate laying on the table of exposure.

Surgery in our context here provides an allegorical perspective of the process we go through in moving through phases of spiritual maturation.   The preparation phase is that place we come to once we realize that surgery is necessary.  The fear phase, as described in the previous post, revolves around the inevitable changes that will take place in us as a result of the surgery.

Surgery is the sanctifying process the Lord performs in conforming us to the likeness of His Son.  In this process we will find ourselves uncomfortably vulnerable in uncontrollable situations.  This is the table of exposure.

At the time of surgery a person must allow themselves to be completely exposed.  They lay upon a table as the doctor(s) and the assisting team invade their body.  The one on the table is in their most vulnerable state, whether conscious or unconscious, having no control of the hands of the surgeon.

Laying on the table is a voluntary action, as being exposed to God should be for the one whose hope is in Christ.  It takes laying on the table of exposure to have the things that keep us from living a life to Christ “removed”.  The table of exposure is that place where a believer allows the Lord to place them on the path to discipleship.

The table is the beginning of the healing process.  The thing about healing is that before you can be healed you must be broken.  It is the process of brokenness that we often attempt to avoid.  However, in order to experience healing we must be broken.  In order to experience a break through we must be broken through and through.

Being broken is not something enjoyable because it always leaves scars.  Every surgery leaves scars.  Every place of exposure ultimately leaves memorable and often visible scars.

As we lay upon the table of exposure we realize that something is going to be “cut out” of us.  We should remember that no matter how many “surgeries” we must endure, and no matter how many things get “cut out” of us we are never left with being less of who are but less of who we were and more of who we are.

The table of exposure is the beginning of the healing process.  We must experience brokenness to be healed.  On this table we must, as singer DeWayne Woods declared, let go and let God.  Our victorious life is connected to those things that die from within us along the way — those things the Lord will “cut out”.

Scars are evidence that you have allowed yourself to be vulnerable, exposed and cut.  More importantly though, scars are the evidence that healing is real.

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The Fear of Finding You, The Surgery Series

Surgery: The Fear of Finding You

In the last post we considered the preparation phase of surgery.  Dealing with the fear of surgery may not be a separate phase per say, but it is definitely its own area of discovery.  It is in fearful situations that believers will often be able to measure their degrees of trust and faith.

Fear is present where knowledge is absent.  

In other words, it is the not knowing with surety that often causes us to have fear.  In the surgery will the one conducting be properly equipped with instruments and aid?  Will the surgeon be ready?  Did she have enough rest so that their mind is sharp?  These are just some of the preliminary areas of fear that I have heard some talk about.

The “real” areas of fear are much more personal.  Will I feel anything?  What will it be like afterwards?  Will this work?  Will I be the same?  Will I be able to do all things I was able to do before?

The fear of loss causes people to stay in pain significantly longer.  We will often do more to avoid pain even when the source of pain is causing loss.  Loss of what?  Loss of who we think we are…

Fear is present where understanding and wisdom are absent.

The surgeons as well as other doctors and nurses can offer comforting words but apart from faith they are just words.  In like manner, yet with infinitely more reliability, the Scriptures offer promises to find “you” if we go through the procedure that will cause of to lose our “self”.  These too are just words apart from active faith.

It is important to understand that finding you (or being on a search to find you) is suggestive that the “you” that you think you are is not the “you” that is intended for you [Col. 3:3]. Something must die for your surgery to be successful.  The fear that causes us to hold on to something that is dying, or that is causing us to die, is the fear we have to find “you”.

“You” is the name God names us in Christ.  It is the name that is declarative of the finished victory upon which we are awaiting.  It is the name that is declarative of our status of righteous having been justified.  It is not a description…it is not an attribute (a what) of who we are.  It is the essence (the who) of our being.  “You”.

Fear is present where faith is absent.

Many will neglect surgery because in their fear they decide that it is better to be who they are now than to see what they will become after the surgery.  To desire to be the same person you are before and after surgery is oxymoronic…for by natural generic definition surgery is an intentional activity to cause change.

Fear should not cause to avoid the inevitable surgery we face.  Something must die for your surgery to be successful.  The fear that causes us to hold on to something that is dying, or that is causing us to die, is the fear we have to find “you”.

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Preparing for the Inevitable, The Surgery Series

Surgery: Preparing for the Inevitable

There is nothing like detecting a pain or discomfort in your body.  For many of us we will do our best to navigate life with the physical pain (although physical pain is not the only that requires surgery) because we do not “have” time to really “address” the issue right away.  In our minds we hope that the pain will eventually just subside for a while and ultimately go away.

Some of us have lived with a particular pain for so long we have deemed it as our “normal”.  We are so used to dealing with the pain that without the presence of the pain we don’t feel “right”.  We and the pain are one and being separated from it would be like cutting off a limb or vital organ.  Life and pain are one and the same.  Pain then becomes the evidence of life.

Many of these pains, and the normalcy thereof, prove to be life threatening when left unaddressed.  They can be fatal to life.  Sometimes surgery is inevitable.

Though not necessarily direct to the scope of our context here, it is important to acknowledge that everything that is fatal to life does not cause feelings of pain.  Because of that they will go undetected for months, years, or even decades.  The absence of pain then is not an indication of good health.  Sometimes surgery is inevitable.

Recently I have been with and around several people that have had to go through some type of surgical procedure.  The type of surgery that was to be conducted would dictate what a person had to do in the months, days, hours, or minutes leading up to the time of surgery.   In all cases I found that preparing for surgery is physical, mental, and emotional.

The idea of surgery is applicable for the follower of Christ.  In the process of becoming Christ-like God’s scalpel meticulously incises the heart of our redeemed soul in order to sculpt us into the conformed image of His Son.  A surgery such as this also requires preparation: physically, mentally, and emotionally as well as spiritually.

Preparation is unavoidable where surgery is inevitable.

The preparation requirements often tell of the simplicity or complexity of what one will face in their surgery.  Some preparation will not require much alteration to a person’s daily living while other requirements are both intrusive and disruptive.  This could be telling of how long a surgery is intended to take, whether you will be in and out, or even connected to the expected length of recovery.

Sometimes surgery is inevitable.  And remember, preparation is unavoidable where surgery is inevitable.

In the preparation phase of surgery a person is often asked to refrain from eating so many hours before the surgery.  This is an attempt to allow the process of the surgery and all of the aspects of the procedure to be completed as smoothly as possible.  Similarly, the follower of Christ may enter into a fast, intentionally or unintentionally, before the incisions of the Lord begin.  This is only in preparation for the inevitable because sometimes surgery is inevitable…and preparation is unavoidable where surgery is inevitable.

Preparing for the inevitable.  This is but the first phase in surgery.  There are others…facing the fear of surgery, the table of surgery, the bed of recovery, the seat of recovery, and the path of recovery…and these we too shall consider.

 

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The Tragedy of Favor

The Tragedy of Favor

The favor of God is something that I often hear about from professing believers.   I am especially interested in hearing how believers explain the experiential aspects of the favor of God in their life.  It is often correctly associated with the grace of God, being described by some as “awesome”, as a “special anointing”, or selfishly as “unfair”.  The latter is not to suggest with sarcasm that favor is “fair” but rather to draw out that this phraseology is often associated with favor from the perspective of some personal blessing or season of blessing that one is currently experiencing.

Now I do not intend to delve into a deep theological discussion about favor.  Rather I intend to present a perspective to some that may in hearing the above descriptions of favor become, or have become, discouraged thinking that God does not favor them because they are not experiencing some thing which they are using to compare or measure God — who is not a respecter of person — and His love for them.

I will however make the statement that the above descriptions of favor do not capture a correct understanding.  The favor of God is not manifested in physical “blessings” (an interesting sidebar to consider is that many things people say God blessed them with are the things they refuse to give back to God for His use — they are often things that take them away from God…).  The favor of God is rooted in our position in Christ not just what “we get” out of being in that position.

While we can see the favor of God when we eat everyday, when we have a closet full of clothes, a job, a job that pays us significantly more than we need, a place to sleep, a car, etc., we must ask is this a good biblical understanding of the idea of favor?

I contend that the most favored of God are those that suffer tragedies.  It is in the tragedy that the favored is being prepared for service.  It is in the promised tribulation that the favored of God is recognized not in the abundance of physical blessing.  Consider the Christ who through suffering was glorified by the Father.  Was Mary favored (Luke 1:28-30)?  Was Stephen favored of God (Acts 7:59)?   Was Paul favored (Acts 9:15-17)?

The major problem that we have here is that “favor” has been categorized, in our Western cultured approach to the Scriptures, primarily as visionally prosperous and “favor” as attributed to sufferings as a secondary possibility.  The Scriptures declare the favored of God are hated by the world not rewarded through it (John 16:33).

It is a shame that so many professing believers have turned their back on God because God has not poured out “favor” the way they think He should.  They essentially live in judgement of  the God of their souls — to them He is Unjust and so they will not serve Him until He serves their portion of “favor” to them.  This is the detriment of improperly defining and presenting what the favor of God is.

It is the tragedy that produces the manifestation of favor.  If Moses does not suffer the the tragedy of the desert the favor of God on Israel is not manifested.  If Joseph does not suffer the tragedy of rejection by his brothers which lead to his temporary imprisonment, even being forgotten by one whom he helped out of the very same prison, then the famine of Egypt would claim the lives of two nations, both the future Israel (Jews) and Egypt (Gentiles).

It is tragedy that manifests the favor of God.  If David does not suffer the tragedy of being pursued by Saul, keeping in his mind the necessity to honor the Lord, then there is no covenant made between him and God that would promise the eternal kingship of the Christ.  If the Christ does not endure the tragedy of being beaten and murdered by His creation then there is no Calvary, no relational reconciliation, no eternal life, no hope.

These and many others provide a piece of a historical narrative that is The Tragedy of Favor.

Scriptural Considerations: John 16:25-33; Acts 5:41, 9:15-17, 14:21-23, 20:22-24; Rom. 5:3, 8:17-18; 2 Cor. 1:1-8, 6:4-10; Phil 1:29, 3:10; 2 Thess 1:3-7, 1 Tim 4:10; 2 Tim 3:12; Heb. 5:8, 11:24-26; James 5:10-11; 1 Pet. 5:8-10

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Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

The chants rang from state to state “Yes We Can!  Yes We Can!”  It was to be one of the most celebrated days and historic moments in a country plagued with the -isms; Racism, Classism, Elitism, Exclusivism, and so many more.  But now there was to be a new day for America.  A new kind of United States.  We would now become a country that finally had a POTUS that could and would speak for the people…or so many thought (me not included).

Yes, it truly was a historic day back in 2008 on the 4th day of November. The Pride of a people that had suffered Prejudice for so long finally had a face that looks like ours, a walk that looks like ours, a struggle that at least sounded vaguely familiar.

Now we would experience the Pride of believing that slogan of victory.  Not a victory that would last for an evening but that would ring as far as the classrooms of the inner cities, where African American children could see that anything is possible; after all everyone needs to see something to believe that it is possible…right?

Well, at least a real life representation of what I can become is better than pipe dreams being sold to me at some MLM meeting where only the people who are at the top make the money…oh wait a minute

Anyway, this was to be the working class’ President.  One where the middle class would finally become the middle class because, as so many said, “he’s got our back.”

It is true that President Barak Obama and his presidency is an inspiration to many — but especially those of us in the African American community.

That is, unless you are an African American Christian that believes in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures.  If you are one of them then you may find yourself in the midst of no small dilemma — considering what has taken place since that historic day (well if your like me there is no dilemma at all but that may just be me).

The dilemma is the Pride you have in the first African American President and the Prejudice we are to have regarding the Word of God.  This is a new Pride and Prejudice.  There is certainly Pride in the history of the events of November 2008 however, we find so many actions and decisions of the President juxtaposed to the commands of God.  That is, a professing Christian President…(Colossians 3:17)

Interestingly there are several congregations of believers whose earthly Pride have essentially allowed them to jettison the words of our Holy and sacred writ to which we Prejudiciously commit our fidelity.  And this they do shamefully tearing down the Glory to remain in allegiance with the Pride of their current existence.

But isn’t it our Prejudice that produces the banner under which we are to walk.  Yes, indeed it is that Prejudice that is foundational to the very salvation through Jesus Christ that speak and model our lives in word and deed.  Not a prejudice towards any people or sect but a Prejudice of allegiance to the supremacy and absolutism of God Most High and His Word respectively.

Unfortunately, the years of suffering under the hands of the -isms has indeed given many in the African American community of Christ followers an attitude that has produced the idea that “we have waited so long for this, I don’t care I am going to enjoy this” or ” ‘they’ did it to us so long, we deserve this…” while neglecting to even acknowledge that “they” will also stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ (Romans 12:19).

Pride and Prejudice…A measure of faith that asks are we first believers (a nation of heirs to life) or African-American (an allied ethnic sect within a fallen nation )?

I indeed pray for MY President and his family, but even more for the church that follows after him often expensing the truth of Him by whom they’ve been redeemed for the sake of yet another -ism — even Ethnocentrism.

 

 

 

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General Articles, More

More…

There are times in our lives when we feel stuck.  We are stuck at a job.  We are stuck in a relationship.  We are stuck in a ministry.  We are stuck at this “place” in our life.

We may think of this feeling or mindset in a picture of water.  A river is a picture of flowing water.  A picture of things moving in the same direction at varying paces, but steadily moving.  A lake gives us a picture of tranquility.  A lake is often a picture of peace and relaxation.  It may provide us a picture of what it will be like once we have accomplished, overcome, or defeated something. An then there is the picture of water that fits what we are feeling when we are “stuck”.  That is a picture of still or stagnate water.  This water is uninviting.  A picture of stagnate water will bring to mind its stench.  And this is where we find ourselves sometimes.  In life, not really stuck, but stagnate.

Often when we feel this way we become diligent in searching for “something else” or praying to God if we are believers.  We desire  a change or to reach the ear of God.  “God, I need a change.”  It is when we are here that we realize that we want more.

It is not more stuff that will satisfy us (although we may think so).  Even though a spouse that gave more of themselves would be good, it is not enough to satisfy this desire for more.  Receiving a promotion and pay raise would be good, yet it is not the more that we desire.  No, our desire for more can’t be found in things seen.  The more we desire is more of the Lord.  More of the Father.  More of the Christ Jesus.  More of His Spirit (whether we believe it or not, this is true).  This thirst for more cannot be quenched by mortality, it can only be quenched by Diving presence.

I have learned about desiring More.  I know that we ask for more.  I know that I have asked to feel the Lord closer to me.  I have prayed for greater understanding.  Greater gifts.  Greater compassions.  Greater experiences.  I desire More.  I have longed for More.  I have and still do desire more.    Heck, I NEED More.

In all of my desiring, seeking, begging, crying, and all of the other things we do in prayer and meditation, I have learned a valuable lesson about more and the God that I serve.  This one lesson could potentially be one of those “Game-changers” for some; it was for me at least.  This secret is so simple yet it has taken me years and a lot of  “blood, sweat, and tears” to penetrate the hardened areas of my heart.

This is the secret I learned (I’m sure most of you already knew this):  More is not something that we pray for and then wait or look for God to give it to us; more is what God prepares us for.  

More is at the center of hope.  More is the acquisition manifested through faith, believing, and potential.  When we pray for more we must open ourselves up to how God will prepare us for more.  More may require more suffering.   Suffering is only the training ground necessary for us to be prepared for the next ordained step God has for us.  More may require less.  Less time for you to do you so that you can become more.  Did you get that?  More may not be something you receive, but rather, something you become.  Are we willing to become more?

More is not found in bigger or different churches. More is not realized in better jobs, new spouses, new cars, new houses, new clothes, or even new attitudes.  More is life and Life is more.

So now the only question we have to ask is are we really praying for more, or are we praying for “something else” for right now?  “Something else” is sourced subjectively; More is objectively sourced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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