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July 12, 2018

Greetings!


Sorry it’s been a couple weeks.  Your name did not fall off our mailing list, It was I that fell off the grid!   We travelled to our son Josiah’s home in northwest Michigan the last week of June, then my daughter Sarah who lives in Mechanicsburg had scheduled to do major home renovation the week of July 4th because it is the week of shut down at her husband Dan’s employment.  So we worked long days all week to get as much done as possible.  Then I performed a wedding on Saturday down near Deer Creek State Park for an old friend (Josh Meadows) who went with me on mission trips, and then I got VERY sick on Sunday morning….(I want to thank those who have prayed for me).  This morning is the first I have felt somewhat healthy, just weak.  Since the wedding meal on Saturday evening I had eaten almost nothing and drank very little because of lesions in my throat and esophagus.  But Bless God, I seem to be on the mend.  I can now talk!  I’m just weak and foggy headed with a very sore throat.   


I don’t wish to bore you with details of my day-to-day life, but I felt you should know that I have not forgotten you, it’s just been an especially busy season in my own family lately.  I have always struggled with knowing how to balance this difficult reality:  I want and need to be available for others in our church and community when their family has needs, but it can create problems in my own home when others' needs trump my own family’s needs, yet at times, my job does require that I be available no matter what’s happening in my own life.    It’s just a tension.   Tension isn’t bad, in fact it’s good.  Without tension we don’t develop or grow.  We do not conform to the image of Jesus…Without tension life is one-dimensional and our focus one-sided.


Our Heavenly Father is always inviting us into something good.  And it always comes with tension.  As I lay there sick with lesions and pain racking my body, it certainly appeared that I had nothing to be grateful for, but NOT SO!   Even in my miserable state there was an invitation by my Father to trust him, to find my peace in Him, to discover his presence with me, and to thank him for my otherwise able body.  Yes, I am in misery, but my wife loves me, my children’s lives have not gone off the rails lately, VCPC is in a good place, and God is on the throne!   Yet this wretched body of sin and death (Rom 7) seems to defy the greater reality that God is good and life is good.  This is tension.   In a state of tension, we have to choose.  We have to lean into one or the other side of that tension.  Is life all pain and struggle, or is God good and life a blessing? 


In the same way Vineyard has embraced tension that is a struggle for many, and many have criticized us for embracing it.  We all want life to be neat and well wrapped, simple and as easy as possible.   But REAL life comes with REAL tension.   As I lay there I prayed for healing.  It didn’t happen.  Well… my bible tells me that all the promises of God are yes and amen, so where’s my healing?  Why didn’t it come?  After all, Jesus told us to pray: Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven….  There are no sick people in heaven, so why didn’t his kingdom come and I pick up my mat and joyfully dance home?  Did I not pray with enough faith?  Indeed, many people prayed for me!  Was their faith substandard too?   Or has the healing power of God and the movement of His Spirit ceased to be accessible?   Tension.   Jesus boldly pronounced that the Kingdom of God had come!  And it never left.  In God’s kingdom there is not sickness, pain or tears.  I have been healed many times of various things, a few years ago I fell from a ladder leaving me with a severely sprained ankle that instantly swelled up like a melon.  As I lay on the ground, I called a friend.  He prayed with me.  I watched the swelling disappear.  I was literally dancing on it that evening at a worship practice.   I’ve seen people healed of far more serious diseases and maladies through prayer, but I’ve also prayed hundreds of times and nothing whatsoever seemed to happen.  


If only God would work within our expectations!   But real life comes with real tension.  There have been two camps, and I have felt that both sides are attempting to live without tension.  One says: the kingdom is HERE NOW!    We should pray and people should be healed… always!   If they didn’t get healed, then faith was lacking, most likely in the one who was praying.  I have seen many peoples faith get shipwrecked on this horrible rock.  Great ships have sunk here.  People are put to shame and walk away feeling their faith in God is simply subpar and it’s their fault.  This thinking has often lead to a fake it-till you make it way of living that has the appearance of real life, but it is too often only a skin deep cardboard prop.  REAL LIFE evades, and human expectation prevails.   On the other side of this conundrum is the place where reason wins, but faith and hope die.   This camp has generally concluded that genuine movement of God’s Spirit, though it may occasionally randomly appear, is something that generally doesn’t happen.   Prayer becomes weak and seemingly futile in this way of life, but people can rest content when they pray, because expectations are low and there is little tension with which to wrestle.    


But Jesus’ kingdom has truly come, just not fully yet.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, now we see dimly, but when the perfect comes (Jesus returns) then we shall see perfectly.  This period of natural time between the time of Christ’s resurrection and the time he returns is a time of tension between the kingdoms… between the now, and not yet.  We have the present reality and hope of God’s presence that NEVER leaves us, yet it is often veiled to the senses and we fail to recognize it for what it is.  So we do not see what we hope for.  As Romans 8 says:  “Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we don’t yet have, we wait for it patiently”.   So he has given us his Spirit who helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us when we don’t even know what to pray!    This is all a part of living in the tension that leads to life!  It is part of being dependent on God’s Spirit and so being conformed into the image of the Son who himself had to learn obedience in all things.  Rejoice and be glad! - He was the first born among many brethren – which is you and me!   Embrace your tension today.  Through it, God is inviting you into something better than you can even imagine!   For real!


Mike


       






                                                


VCPC Weekly

Sundays – Intercessory Prayer – 9 am – Church Library
Thursdays– Intercessory Prayer – 11 am – Church Library – Request? Email 
prayerline@vineyardplaincity.com 

or call/text (614) 499-1232

Events to Note:


Aug. 5th--last day to drop off DNA school supply donations to the church

Aug. 16th--GriefShare begins