5x5x5 Bible Reading – 1 Peter

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Dear 5x5x5 Bible readers,  Welcome to 1st Peter this week!  You know Peter – a fisherman, one of Jesus’ three closest disciples, the one who walked on water, also the one who denied knowing Jesus – Peter, the rock, who became the leader of the church in Jerusalem after Pentecost.  Peter writes this letter from Rome, late in his life, to Christians who are enduring hardships and persecution across the Roman empire.

1st Peter is a letter of encouragement, speaking into the lives of those who are suffering.  Important themes in 1 Peter are:
– the identity of a believer (reborn into a new family, exiles and sojourners, a royal priesthood, and a chosen people),
– a call to holiness and good character in keeping with the standards of their new family,
– persevering through suffering,
– a living and eternal hope,
– submission and humility, and
– the coming judgment.

I’m actually teaching 1st Peter this fall at The River, and it is such a rich text – full of encouragement in suffering, and reminders of our identity and our future.  As the world seems a bit crazy these days, and many are suffering, the words of Peter are timely.  Be encouraged.

On Brain Surgery and Other Dramas

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12 years old.  Kinda young for brain surgery, really.  One of my best friend’s daughters is having brain surgery tomorrow, December 4th.  Here she is – with her surgeon Dr. Ben Carson at Johns Hopkins today as they get ready for tomorrow… (Rare case of pediatric trigimenal neuralgia, if you must know.)

It’s exhausting to think about.  Overwhelming.  Actually, for them, I think it’s been all that and a whole lot more for the last 4-5 months of trying to figure out what is wrong with KT Rose and how to go about fixing it.  I really cannot relate.  It’s hard to have empathy for a situation that is so far from what most of us ever have to endure.

As I thought about KT Rose and her brave-by-necessity parents… I am not sure what to say.

Yet I do have one story to tell.  This incident was one of the biggest dramas I have faced as a Mom… but it pales in comparison to brain surgery.

Yet the truths remain.

My son Mark had his tonsills out when he was 6 years old.  We were living in Germany and the German hospital sent us home on the 7th day.  In the middle of that night, our first night home, he ruptured something deep in his throat.  There was blood was everywhere – it was like a scene from a horror movie that I couldn’t make stop. I had to call a German ambulance and send him back to the hospital, the one we’d left only 12 hours ago, with my husband for emergency surgery to stop the bleeding.

The adrenalin rush of the crisis was absolutely exhausting, and we’d already had a week in the hospital… I didn’t know at the time that it would be two more weeks until we would finally be free, sent home to rest and heal and make new blood on our own time.

The ambulance left our house with Mark and my husband around 2 AM and then suddenly it was just eerie and silent.

I paced the hallways.

There was no way I could sleep, so I cleaned up all the messes in the house.  I prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.

Ross called around 5 AM to say the surgery was over and Mark had been moved into the recovery room.

I watched the sunrise around 6 AM and drifted off to sleep finally.

I had a dream, but really it was more like a vision as the details were so clear and it was just a picture… not moving pieces.  I saw myself, curled up in the fetal position, in the palm of God’s hand.  Of course.  The meaning was so clear.  I was in His hand… just curled up, exhausted.  Resting.  He had it all under control.  I could relax.  Sleep.  Let go.  So I slept finally.

(It was another two years before something odd occurred to me.  Why was it me in His hand, and not Mark?  Shouldn’t He have been confirming that Mark was in His hand?  But no, what God really wanted to say was that I was in His hand.  Apparently that’s what I needed most, was to know that He was cradling me.  Comforting.  Protecting.  Controlling.)

I slept the sleep of the dead, the exhausted.

For one hour.

At 7 AM my phone rang.  It was Christa, one of my closest friends in Stuttgart.  She was the one had been picking up my daughter from school all week, feeding her dinner, and keeping her busy until my husband and I changed shifts at the hospital every night.

“What in the world is going on?!” she asked.  “I have been awake since 2 AM – praying for you.  Now tell me what’s happening.”

God woke her up to pray for Mark and our family.

When I most needed help, I couldn’t do anything about it, but God could.

I still don’t understand how prayer works in the economy of God but I do know this – He is in control.  Of everything.  Including waking up your friends to pray for you.

How awesome it is to serve a God like that!

Love, hugs, and prayers to KT Rose.  Mom and Dad, rest in peace.  You are in the palm of His hand.

Sleep as best you can.  Some of us may be up praying for you.

The Cynical Tongue (#14)

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Cynicism – An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.  Cynical people are angry, disappointed, resentful, and mistrustful of those they feel should be acting in their best interest.

I like the old King James word – “scoffers”.  A scoffer speaks with derision – he is full of ridicule, mocking, and jeering laughter.

Cynical people have lost hope of ever making a difference.  Cynicism becomes their coping strategy for feeling powerless to effect change.

Can you think of an environment in your life in which you have lost any hope of ever seeing a desired change?

Maybe at work?  In politics?  In your church?  In another culture?  In your family?  In a difficult relationship?

Did you have unmet expectations?  Were your expectations reasonable?

There is a very interesting example of cynicism in 2 Kings 7.  It reads:

“It happened as the man of God (prophet Elisha) had said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.” The royal officer had said to Elisha the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” The man of God Elisha had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” And that is exactly what happened to the royal officer, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.” (vs. 18-20)

See, the royal officer was not asking an honest question “How?” but instead making a cynical retort equivalent to “There’s no way that would ever happen.”  But it did, and the royal officer suffered an immediate judgement.

The way I see it, there are two main issues.

First, there is the issue of what we SAY when we think a situation is hopeless.  We mock, laugh, and scoff.  Cue rolling of the eyeballs.

The second issue is what we BELIEVE.  Why do we think something is hopeless?  Do we not serve the God who made the universe and all that is in it?  As Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

We ought never lose hope!  Easy to say, harder to embrace in the depths of our being.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” 2 Cor 2:9

Try not to be cynical today – ask God to give you hope, and endurance for the days that drag on while nothing has changed (yet!).

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues