Archive for February, 2017

SO BLESSED TO MINISTER

February 23, 2017

We are nose-to-nose, well inside the normal space humans give one another when conversing, for both auditory and visual reasons.  Her sweet watery eyes are focused intently on mine as I look up while reading. I feel like she’s perusing the fine print in my soul through my pupils. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” One misshaped arthritic hand cups an ear as she strains to hear my loud recitation of Scripture. Her amorphous 97-year-old body resides in a wheel chair, draped in a knit shawl and lap blanket, and her grey head is bent low over the card table adjacent to her bed in the small living room that is her 24/7 venue. “If anyone serves me he must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.”

I sit in a folding chair at the table corner nearest her, my knees touching her wheelchair and my feet warmed by her friendly long-haired cat. To the right-front of her on the card table are stacked her Bible and devotional books and two magnifying glasses with a diameter of fifty-cent pieces, taped together to double the magnification, with which she reads her books. I ask if I can try them, and she acquiesces. By putting my eye within an inch of the magnifiers, themselves an inch above a book page, I can indeed read…one word at time. And that is the way she reads entire books. Each visit she sends me off with another book she has finished. I agree to read it myself and add it to the church library when done. You see, her mind is undiminished by the aging process. Though her outer self is wasting away, her inner self is being renewed day-by-day (2 Cor. 4:16). A widow of a longtime church elder, her story-telling of a life well-lived for the glory of God is lucid and enlightening, and her witness to her faith in our Lord and Savior is heart-melting.

When it is time to go, we pray.  I put my hand on top of hers on the table, and she stacks her other hand, permanently fist-shaped, on top of mine. This time we both pray aloud the Lord’s Prayer. “…for thine is the kingdom and the power and glory forever, Amen.” I arise, bend over and hug her, kiss her forehead and walk the few steps to the door as she profusely thanks me for coming.  I close the door behind me and pray, through tears, O Lord, what a blessing to spend these moments with your saint on the threshold of glory.  I ponder what a joy it will be to see her perfected body and wonderful spirit in heaven as I drive to my next appointment, a comely smiling saint with Alzheimer’s.

Somewhere in this fallen world there are a few old fighter pilots still living who may read this and exclaim incredulously, “What? Wetterling? Minister to shut-ins? No way!” To them I say, I am living proof there is hope for you, too, brothers. Our God works in mysterious and glorious ways, to my great joy.

 

Advertisements

A Preposterous Proposition

February 11, 2017

 

First, I’m asking you to believe that something came from nothing; moreover, that everything you see, feel, hear, taste and touch came from nothing, and the force that made it something was a word spoken by an invisible self-existent personal being. He is infinitely, eternally, unchangeably powerful, as is every attribute of his essence—his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. He reveals himself as God in the Bible, the book written under his inspiration that contains all that he has chosen to reveal about himself. Every detail of this proposition is beyond the power of reason to accept—a preposterous proposition.

It gets even more so. Secondly, everything was perfect until it shortly went bad, and it went bad because the devil in the guise of a talking snake convinced a lady, the very first one created, to eat a forbidden apple. Seriously. A lousy apple, you say, but it was the only prohibition, and a minor one at that, laid on a paradisiacal existence. As such it was an act of rebellion, an egregious crime against the crown rights of her Creator. God was not happy…he was really not happy. He booted her and her husband, a partner in the crime, from the best digs creation has ever known, and they and all created stuff began to die. All the couple’s progeny, you and I among them, has been born disobedient and destined for death to this day.

Thirdly, but the fix is in. God the Son became a man. I forgot to tell you something: God is three persons…in one person… (don’t ask…), and the one called the Son became a human named Jesus while simultaneously remaining God. I know, I know… suspend your disbelief and stick with me here. He’s infinitely smart and equally powerful, remember. He solved the problem of disobedience by allowing himself to be murdered in the most hideous way the mind of man could conceive. He took the full brunt of God the Father’s wrath in the place of the real disobedient culprits: Us! And then—if you have not already done so, sit down now—he rose from the dead! And, fourthly, he promised…God said that he did all this because he so loved the world, and if you will believe him he’ll guarantee you can spend eternity with him (John 3:16) in bliss beyond what your mind can conceive… as if you could conceive any portion of this story by natural reason.

Now here is a statement your spinning mind will finally agree with: It is impossible to believe this story. Impossible…unless…unless that same angry God, who made everything from nothing, works another miracle, this one in your heart, and opens your eyes to this truth. In Jesus’ own words, “No one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). A spiritual rebirth! Then he inclines your will to believe it. “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). And “no one can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3) And then—I’m telling you from personal life-changing experience—some of his promises and proclamations will become as plain as the nose on your face and some, like the mind-blowing concept of the Trinity, will be joyfully accepted on unwavering faith in the Son of God who loved you so much he died horribly to ransom you from eternity in hell. And that vision and trust is the product of the third person of the Trinity, the Spirit who has taken up residence in you. Scandalous! Preposterous!

If you are offended, dear reader, you are not the first. The “offense of the Gospel” is a 2000-year-old cliché. But if we meet again in the queue at Judgment Day, I could not bear to hear your hopeless cry, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Please ponder this: It’s only a preposterous proposition in our pea brains, wherein resides what Luther called “that old demon reason.” This proposition comes from the infinite intelligence of the Omnipotent God of the universe. It is his plan, his story, and his thoughts, which are as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55:8). “…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). In other words, he is neither able nor willing to be able to be wise in the things of God. Faith comes not in one’s own power. It must be divinely conferred. Hence the absolute necessity of that spiritual rebirth of John 3:3.  

So would you ask God to work that miracle in your heart and open your eyes to reality? Pray that God the Holy Spirit would dwell in you and give you the gift of faith in Him and His story. Do it now. Please do it now, my friend. You do not want to die with God angry at you. Forever is a long time to hurt and weep and gnash your teeth. Alternatively, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

 


%d bloggers like this: