Some pain never leaves you.

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Pain is an interesting monster. Without it we don’t know we’re hurt. Pain from a cut finger or a broken bone can be mended.
Then there is the chronic pain of disease. I have a dear friend who suffers from the effects of MS. She is in pain, often excruciating, most of the time now. Through her faith in God, she seems to motor through. I know its not easy for her.
My own wife suffers from chronic pain from injuries years ago, she does not allow herself to be sidelined by them though. Again, an attribute of her faith in God.
Last night I heard a woman’s name mentioned at our Bible study and found out today that last week she succumbed to the pain she has had since her son died in a car accident a year or more ago.
That seems to be  a pain many people just can not motor through.
This woman could no longer face another day and ended her life.
Suicide is not the answer.
Now there are many people who are feeling a great pain in their hearts for this rather young and once vibrant woman. Pain that can not be healed without the proper medicine.
Let’s face it; death of a loved one, early in life, is not something anyone cares to face, especially the death of a child. But there are better alternatives than answering death with death.
I know first hand what it is like to face the darkness that surrounds suicide!
As a pastor, I have a duty to share the hope that is found in Christ Jesus. You may not be one who has a strong pull to know the love that Jesus has for you. You may be hiding behind pain that you believe no one else can understand.
Stop hiding, begin living!
Trust. Surrender. Believe.
Its not about a religion, its about a relationship.
A relationship that can heal every hurt and pain you face!
Believe that God really does have a plan and that He wants you to be part of the beauty He has established.
The Bible tells us that we can take the ashes of our lives and bring them
to God. He will then take those ashes and turn them into a beautiful thing!
No one else is able to do that; only God, through Jesus Christ can heal the pain you face today, or give you the hope to motor through.
Please, take a moment and give Him a chance to heal your pain!

Thanks for checking in.
Today is definitely a no socks day!
Shalom!

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Don’t call me if it’s broke, go to the Manufacturer!

Not long ago I read an article entitled, ‘When Life Cracks You Up’ by the inspiring author Rachel L. Proctor.

The link is having some issues at the moment or I would post that here. The message I receive is, “Something is amiss…one of the servers is crying out for help…investigating and resolving…blah, blah…”

The gist of the article was that her phone screen had cracked, and as she began to worry about the ramifications of screen leakage, cutting her ear on the glass, cost of repairs, etc. She realized that the protective adhesive cover was doing its job by holding things together and covering the damage, just as God protects us.

The following week after Rachel’s article was published, my Honey and I were blessed with a pastors retreat at Hume Lake Christian Conference Center. Hume is a purposeful place to relax and refresh. The staff is amazing, the food is very good to outstanding (better at some conferences than others), the weather is always accommodating, and cell phones do not work there! And a deafening silence fell over the crowd! 

Not being one who wears a wrist watch very often, my phone is my timekeeper. My protective case was getting worn and tattered and would sometimes catch on my pocket. Most times I was able to hang onto the phone. If it did fall, it was on a soft surface or the case took the brunt. Not so at Hume! My phone did a belly flop directly on the cobble stone walkway. Just like the proverbial ‘butter side down piece of bread’!

My reaction…”Oh man, cracked!”

The words of Rachel’s article were fresh in my head, but I had no protective film on my phone, and this was the third phone I have had since December of last year. (Other technical problems on those phones.) The crack wasn’t all that bad, I’ve seen worse, so I’ll just live with it!

When we got home from Hume my Honey did some account searching and alas, none of our phones were up for renewal. OK, I’ll just live with it, no worries. She even looked up repair centers and buy back programs…not worth the hassle.

Then I took a moment and did a search for DIY repair kits! For just under $60 I was able to get a new and more protective case. And from iCracked.com I received my replacement screen, handy dandy tool kit, and step by step Repair Flowchart!

The kit arrived yesterday and the first step on the Flowchart was to STOP and download the instruction video!!!

My Honey, ever one who encourages, told me when I ordered the kit, “If you can rebuild front gears on a 4X, repack wheel bearings, and figure out so many other things, you can rebuild your phone!” She sometimes forgets I have meat hooks for hands!

The paperwork said to take your time, it should take about 45 minutes, the screws are small keep them organized (small is an understatement!), note the placement of parts as you are disassembling your phone! I got this! Video on laptop, jawbreakers for energy, hands clean, tools laid out, Flowchart set…

Let’s do this!!! It wasn’t that bad, even for a guy with meat hooks that fit better on a wrench than minuscule screws!

I now have an intimate understanding of my phone that did not exist earlier today. I know it literally inside and out. Much like the relationship my Heavenly Father has with me…

To quote my Honey’s favorite passage:

Psalm 139:13-18 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” (emphasis mine)

I thought of this passage as I worked on my phone. I thought of how God knows me so intimately. I thought of how He knows that I am ‘cracked’ and still chooses to use me. I thought of how He will restore me better than new someday. I thought of how, even through my toughest times and now, through my journey with depression, He still has precious thoughts for me!

Don’t worry if you are cracked or struggling…God’s not surprised by it!

Stigma shmigma!

Stigma shmigma!

Comfort Food; make sure God’s serving it!

Besides the need for hope, the need for comfort could be the greatest thing people desire. When we call certain foods “comfort food”, it’s an indicator of a deeper need to fill. Something food really can’t fill, but we try.

For a person having thoughts of suicide, food doesn’t even come close.

As a pastor I counsel with people a lot on the need for comfort through hard times. Often the question is asked, “Why am I going through this struggle?”

I’m a realist as well. I turn to passages like 2 Corinthians 1:4 when questions like this are posed to me.

“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 

He, being God, comforts us, literally calls us near to Him during our pressure and anguish. Not to take it away necessarily. Look at what the verse says…”so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction”

So that we can call near someone else who is going through a struggle! So we can relate to them and draw near to them; help them. This can only take place if we are ready, willing, and able to help. If we have compassion.

For the person having thoughts of suicide, the need for someone to take the time to understand is huge comfort. The signs are not always very visible, but that person is sending out “warning flags” for help, they want to talk about it.

Recently a well know pastors son completed a suicide. This young man had struggled for a long time with depression and other troubles. His family had gotten him help from some of the top experts in the country. Yet he still became another who could not overcome his thoughts of death.

When it comes to a viewpoint on this situation from “the church”, I can only offer my own humble and personal opinion.

It is sad that another life ended in this manner, any life. And yes, it can even happen in “the church”!

Guess what, we are human too! Any human can have suicidal thoughts and without help can succumb to those thoughts. For them, it actually brings the comfort they are desperately seeking, even when it happens in “the church”.

This is not a time for “the church” to be silent though. It is a time for us to take what the last part of that verse says…through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Give comfort to those who are hurting because we are receiving from God the comfort we need. Don’t hold onto it. Don’t circle the wagons and become protective.  Rather become proactive and share it.

We, those in “the church”, are the conduit of God’s comfort to others. Let that marinate in your noodle for a bit!

You mean we are to put aside our feelings and attitudes about certain things, even suicide, in order to help others?

REALLY, put others first? What kind of wack-job thinking is this???

It’s Christ’s way of thinking!

My Honey recently had an experience in promoting the book about her attempted suicide where I was very surprised at the response. Essentially the point was that the publishing house would not publish a book on suicide at this time or maybe never, because “the church” is hurting right now.

REALLY? Isn’t one of the things Jesus called His church to do is help those who are hurting?

More on that next time!

That’s one shepherd’s stance for today, peace out!

Held hostage!

Part of this article is a repost, but the daily prompt intrigued me to share how my focus is changing…

I started this blog after being inspired by my wife stepping out and writing, also by a friend of mine, Karl Vaters. I had been thinking about it for a while. My plan was to share musings and thoughts of a small church pastor as well as some random crap thrown in. I did a series on my journey through depression and still cover that from time to time. My direction is changing along with my passion. I will be keeping up on it as technology in our rural area allows…

Technology has been keeping me held hostage the past few days!

I’ve mentioned before that I live in a rural area of California, where we only have two stop lights and not a bunch of street lights (yes, we still have those places here). Well for those of you who live in higher populated areas and have large numbers of cell towers and true high speed internet, you rarely have down time, if ever. Not so where I live!

We have three towers from one carrier, and two from another with a third on the way. I subscribe to the carrier with three towers which is also my internet connection. Since Monday two of the towers have been out and the third has been operating on yellow, whatever that means. All I know is that our calls have sounded like we are in a barrel of water and data has not worked.

I have three email accounts and had to catch up on nearly two hundred emails already today! But that’s not my point for today.

Monday I started to “re-tool” my blog, you may have noticed a new tag line up top. Don’t worry, there will still be the occasional “random crap” that I will be posting, that’s just who I am. When I was ready to publish though, that’s when everything went down, so I’ve been waiting, and waiting

The focus of my articles will be primarily shifting to Suicide Alertness, Intervention, Prevention, and Postvention.

Why the sift? Thanks for asking!

There is a need, and reducing the stigma and taboo of Suicide is a passion for me. There is also very little written from the perspective of a pastor, or “the church” in general. In fact, my honey just got back from a Christian writing convention where she was told by two publisher’s they would not publish a book on the subject of Suicide, no matter how relevant it may be. To that I have to say, “Phooey! It’s happening everywhere, even the church!” (OK, that’s not exactly what I was thinking, but God is at work in my life!)

With my own experience through depression, and having suicidal thoughts throughout my lifetime, even as a pastor, the subject is very relevant for the church to address!

My hope is not to only write about Suicide, but also share links and articles from others on the subject. Maybe even have some guest bloggers weigh in at times.

Either way, I’m looking forward to this new focus. It is coming at just the right time too. Our coffee house will be changing hands in just a few days now (21 or so) and my energies will on the ministry and Suicide Intervention.

Stay tuned! That’s this shepherd’s stance for today!