Terry Update #6

Mostly good news today.  Terry hasn’t had to take any pain meds for about a week, and that alone helps him feel better.  He’s not so groggy, and his stomach was rebelling against the pain meds.  He’s been awake a lot more, has no real pain, and has even started trying to pump a little iron to keep his strength up while he’s waiting to start using his foot again. 

The doctor says the incision looks really good, clean and dry (pat myself on the back 🙂 ) and that he’ll probably take out some, if not all, of the sutures next week.  He took an x-ray as well, and says everything looks really good.  He said that we’ll be able to start flexing the foot in another week or two, depending on the integrity of the incision; but putting any weight on the foot is still at least 4 weeks off, and dependent on what he sees in the x-ray he’ll take at that time. 

We’re learning a lot that we never really wanted to know, but that’ all right.  We’re just thankful that so far the healing process is moving in the right direction, and that the pain he suffered after the surgery is gone. 

Chronic Pain Following Left Heel (Calcaneal) Fracture – Medical Illustration, Human Anatomy Drawing, Anatomy Illustration

 

I found this set of pictures tonight and thought it might help you understand better what Terry’s heel looks like.  It’s not exactly the same, of course, but it does have a lot if similarities.  The repair isn’t the same.  He has  a couple of plates that look like chicken tracks, with much smaller screws.  I think maybe his repair will be less problematic than the one in this picture.  Interesting, anyway.

 

Chronic Pain Following Left Heel (Calcaneal) Fracture – Medical Illustration, Human Anatomy Drawing, Anatomy Illustration.

Disobedience and Disbelief

This isn’t II Thessalonians yet.  I’m taking a little detour today. 

This morning, over breakfast, Terry and I were talking about the time Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it, as God had instructed him.  The punishment seems so severe for what may seem like a small infraction.  However when you really look at what happened, you see that while disobedience was clearly a part of the picture, something deeper was going on. 

The account is in Numbers 20:7-11. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes: and it shall give forth his water and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels: must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.”

Where was the disobedience?  First, God told Moses to gather the people and to speak to the rock. What Moses did was to take his rod, as instructed; to gather the people, as instructed. But then something went wrong in his attitude. Instead of speaking to the rock, he addressed the people. He called them rebels, which they were; still, he was disobeying God’s instructions. Second, he left God out of the picture when he said, “Must we (he and Aaron) fetch water. . .”  instead of acknowledging that God would do the “fetching.” And then, instead of speaking to the rock he struck it, not once but twice. And God still allowed the miracle, but Moses and Aaron certainly lost the blessing. 

The biggest problem seems to me to have been the disbelief that Moses exhibited when he failed to do exactly as God had commanded him to do. Forgive me for assuming to know what was in Moses’ mind; I’m going use a little poetic license here.  Maybe Moses was thinking, “Boy, I’m sick of these crabbing, whining, miserable, complaining drama kings and queens!  Sure they’re thirsty, but so am I! Maybe if they’d just get their hearts right with God, He would give them water.  He’s done it before.  Stupid people, why does it take so many times before they get it right!  Well, this time I’m going to tell them exactly how I feel.  I’m just sick and tired of this whole mess.”

And then, in his anger and frustration (can anyone else out there identify?) he forgets God’s specific instructions, speaking to the people instead of to the rock and then whanging the rock a good one.  And maybe it felt so good to vent his anger that way that he whacked it again, just for good measure, and the water came gushing out and satisfied the needs of the people and their animals. 

I think he had a moment of disbelief that what God had said to do would work.  He felt a need to improve on God’s instructions, making the event more dramatic (how could water gushing from a rock in the desert be any more dramatic?) so the people would “get it.” 

Don’t we do this?  God says, “Here, do it this way.”  And we respond, “Well, okay, but I think I’ll just do one extra little thing here that God may have forgotten to mention. I’ll help God out a little.  He needs my help. I think of things He overlooks.”

Presumptuous, of course, but that’s exactly what we’re doing when, for instance, we look at something in scripture and say, “Well, that may have worked THEN but times have changed and it just doesn’t work any more.” Really?  There’s a time limit on how long God’s directives are effective?  And who gets to decide when that time limit is up? And who gets to let God know that His ideas are outdated and we’re going to do something He didn’t think of? 

Do you see the element of disbelief in what Moses did?  In verse 12, God says, “. . because ye believed Me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”  Dire, heartbreaking consequences for disobedience and disbelief.  

If we think about it, we have to recognize that all disobedience stems from disbelief. What we do believe is that our own way is better. And you can take it to the bank that the consequences of our disbelief and disobedience will absolutely be dire and heartbreaking. 

Comfort One Another

I Thess. 4:18. “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Comfort indicates animating and cheering speech.  Apparently the new believers were indeed very discouraged that some of their number had died; they feared that those who had died would miss out on the Rapture and all that followed.  Paul’s teaching helps clear up that misunderstanding. 

I like it that Paul doesn’t say,”Let my words encourage all of you.”  Instead, he tells them to comfort each other on the basis of his teaching; they are to build each other up in the Lord, to watch our for one another’s well-being, and to encourage each other to continue eagerly awaiting the return of the Lord. 

So should it be among believers today. 

I want to say a few words here concerning the various positions on the Rapture, just to help clarify what the beliefs are. 

Pretribulational Rapture: This is the view that the church in its entirety will be resurrected and removed from the earth before any part of the Great Tribulation begins.  The Rapture is NOT the return of the Lord  to the earth in open glory. That is a separate event. 

Midtribulational Rapture: This is the belief that the church will be taken out at the midpoint of the Great Tribulation, at the end of the first three and a half years of the seventieth week of Daniel (Dan. 9:24-27). This view holds that some prophetic events must first occur before the Rapture can take place, and they will not occur until the Tribulation is under way. 

Posttribulational Rapture: This view holds that the church will remain on earth throughout the Great Tribulation and will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air at the end of the Tribulation as He comes back to earth in His glory, to rule and reign for a thousand years. The Rapture ushers in the Millenial Kingdom. 

There may be a deeper look at all this sometime in the future.  However, I tend to steer clear of debates that have going on for centuries with no resolution. 

I have already done a study of I Thess. 5.  If you joined at some point after that, you can easily find that study in the archives, starting in April of this year.   I have decided that my next study will be II Thessalonians.  Just seems to be the sensible thing to do 🙂

Rewards

Tonight I had the wonderful privilege of hearing a long-time client give testimony about her recovery from substance abuse, sexual abuse, and self- harm. She’s had help from many sources, and has stayed faithful to counseling for several years.  

In my line of work, we don’t always get to see such tangible evidence of the blood, toil, sweat and tears that are shed in the helping process.  It was  an indescribable blessing to me, on so many levels, to see proof that God is still performing miracles today.  What an incredible blessing to be allowed to have a small part in  a miracle. 

I am blessed. 

I John 4:4. “Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.”

Caught up Together

I Thess. 4:17. “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

After those who sleep in Jesus are raised to join Him in the air, then those who are alive will quickly follow. This will all be so fast that it will seem as one event, but never doubt for a moment that the dead in Christ will rise first, then those who are alive will join them. God has said so.

I Cor. 15:53-54 makes it clear that all believers who remain alive at His coming will receive a glorifed body without passing through death.  This corruptible body will be changed for one that is incorruptible, and death will have lost its sting.

I don’t think I’ve ever really given this as much thought as I should.  We all expect to die someday. It is the natural end of life, and while we don’t dwell on our dying, we know it will happen—UNLESS Jesus returns before we die, and we are caught up to be with Him, our mortal bodies being changed instantly into that which can never die! The Thessalonian believers, as all those who came to Christ in this early period of Christian history, lived every single day with the expectation that Jesus was coming soon; that every morning could be the one, every noon, every evening may usher in the glorious return of the Lord. They believed it, so they lived it.

Do we believe it?  Do we live it?

Caught up: this phrase indicates a sudden and forcible seizure, an irresistible act of catching away, due to divine activity.  It could also be rendered “snatch up, sweep up, carry off by force.”  As I’ve already mentioned, the Latin word used here is rapturo,  from which of course the English word rapture  is derived.

At that incredible moment, for the first time, the Church of all times and all lands will all be together, all generations of saints who have ever lived united forever with the Lord and Savior they have loved and embraced down through the annals of time. One Bride, one body, one heart and mind; and Christ is the Head.

It’s an amazing thing to ponder.

In the clouds: There is some discussion as to the article the.  Should it be there, or should it just say “in clouds,” describing great clouds of the saints of all the ages rising into the air? I don’t know the answer to that one. I’m not sure anyone does. There seems to be a precedent for the meaning to be literal clouds, like that described in Acts 1:9 when Jesus rose  to heaven and a cloud “received Him out of their sight.” Surely there will be great clouds of believers. Whether they will be visible to those who remain on earth is not clear.

What is clear is that we will meet the Lord in the air. He will not literally return to earth just yet; rather, the Church is being snatched up to meet Him in the air.  I love it that Jesus will meet His Bride in the air, in the very domain over which Satan has been allowed to have power as “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).  Again, we really don’t know if this will be near the earth or beyond earth’s atmosphere.  What matters here is that Satan is once again being defeated on his own ground. Love that.

And then comes the most triumphant, the most glorious thing: and so shall we ever be with the Lord!

 

Terry Update #5

It will be a week tomorrow since the surgery.  We saw the surgeon today. He unwrapped the foot, cleaned it up, put on new gauze, splint, and ace bandages. I watched very closely, as this will be my job for the next seven days. The incision is a big backwards L starting under the heel and going up behind his ankle. It looks pretty good, considering what all the doc did in there!  So–healing as it should be. No weight-bearing at all for another five weeks.  But so far, all is as it should be.  I was concerned that the pain would kick back into gear when the doc handled his foot, but Terry says it’s no more than normal at this point. Still faithfully taking pain meds, but he’s awake and a little more active now than he was even two days ago. 

Again, thanks to all of you for your prayers, visits, calls, cards and offers of help.  Means more to us than you can know. 

For the Lord Himself Shall Descend

I Thess. 4:16. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”

To me, these next three verses are some of the most exciting and reassuring in all of scripture. Such incredible promises, and hope for the future!

The Lord Himself:  These words point to Christ’s personal presence to call the saints home to heaven.  He won’t be sending an angelic choir, or even an archangel; He will come Himself to take His loved ones home!  He will come in His glorified body. Jesus Himself will usher us into the Presence of the Father. He will . . . .

Descend from heaven:  He now sits enthroned on the right hand of God (Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1). He will once again leave His heavenly home, but this time it will not be in the form of a helpless baby, born in a lowly stable. This time He will descend from heaven to His waiting saints. . .

With a shout:  I can’t imagine what this will sound like. We are not told what the shout will be, or who makes it. We only know that His coming will be accompanied with a shout, and that all will have been accomplished when the shout is over. The saints will be gone.  The shout, in Greek, means “a shout of command” and implies authority and urgency.  In whatever language each saint will recognize, the shout of command will be heard and we will be instantly gathered to be with the Lord. 

With the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:  There is some debate about whether the shout, the voice, and the trump are three distinct sounds announcing the return of Christ, or if they are all embodied in one tremendous sound. I don’t think it matters enough to argue about.  What we can infer is that this will be an incredible moment, a great signal from heaven, and that nothing like it has ever been heard before.  We can also infer that no believer will hesitate to obey the summons. All the things of earth will be of no more consequence; they will all be dropped and left behind in the instant that we respond to the Voice that calls us to Himself. Clearly the Rapture does not seem to be a silent affair. It seems that a tremendous reverberating sound will actually encircle the earth.

Will the unsaved world recognize what has happened?  Will they hear the shout, the archangel, the trumpet?  Surely they will have to know that something truly extraordinary has happened.  After all, people will be gone!  It will be hard to be unaware of the sudden absence of millions of people all around the world.  But we aren’t told whether or not the unsaved will hear the summons.  One writer compares it as possibly being similar to the call of Paul on the Damascus Road. Those who traveled with Paul heard the sound of a voice, but apparently did not hear words, and they saw no one (Acts 9:7; 22:9).

The dead in Christ shall rise first: Two distinct groups of believers are mentioned at the end of the verse: The dead in Christ, and those who are still alive at His coming.  Paul is very specific that the dead in Christ shall rise first, before those who are alive will be caught up to meet Him. Again, this is intended not only as specific revelation from God, but as a comfort to the Thessalonians who worried that their sleeping loved ones would not take part in the Rapture. Death did not separate the believers from Christ; it only separated them from their earthly bodies.  Christ will bring them with Him from heaven to be united with their resurrected bodies.  Those who remain alive will have to wait their turn, but no one will be counting seconds. There really won’t be any sense of time passing during this event. It will happen in a moment, in “the twinkling of an eye” (I Cor. 15:52). Done. What a day, glorious day, that will be!

By the Word of the Lord

I Thess. 4:15. “For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain shall not prevent them which are asleep.”

Paul is asserting here that what has just been said, and what he will say, is by the authority of God Himself. The revelation was made in connection with a communication from the mouth of the Lord. It is a revelation made to the writers directly to meet the special circumstances that Paul was addressing.  Paul received direct communications from the Lord from the very beginning of his ministry (Acts 9:5-6; 22:17-21; Gal. 1:12; 2:2; I Cor. 11:23). By his authority as an apostle, and by the scriptures themselves, we know that what Paul wrote was given to him by direct inspiration of God. You can bank on it. 

What he says next is both informative and reassuring to the sorrowing believers in Thessalonica who feared that those who had died would have no part in the Rapture. He says that “we which are alive and remain. . .shall not prevent them which are asleep.” 

I am impressed again with the confidence these believers had in the soon return of Jesus.  They expected it momentarily, and grieved that those who had died (fallen asleep) would not share in the incredible experience. But Paul says that those who are still living shall not prevent those who sleep.  Perhaps, for us, a better translation of the word would be precede. That is, the living will not go first; instead, the dead (sleeping) in Christ will rise first, and then those who remain alive to the time of Christ’s return will follow. 

Those who have died before Christ’s return won’t miss out on a single thing. Those who are alive and remain to His return will never experience physical death. Either way, for the believer, it’s a win/win!

Sleep in Jesus

I Thess. 4:14b. “Even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.”

Because we know that Jesus died and rose again, we can also know that those believers who have died before Christ’s return “will God bring with Him.”

Bring who? Bring where? Bring how?  Good old Journalism 101 questions. So, one thing at a time. 

First, Paul uses the word sleep again to denote the death of a believer. This is reassuring in and of itself. The body “sleeps” as it awaits resurrection, while the soul is immediately united with Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21-24; Heb. 12:22-23; Rev. 6:9-11).

 

I was not with my mother when she died, but my sister was.  She described the moments just before Mom’s heart stopped beating.  She had been carefully watching Mom, realizing that it would be only moments before she went to heaven. One of Mom’s eyes was slightly open, allowing my sister to watch for any expression or indication of awareness.  What she describes is the gradual diminishing of light in that eye until there was, literally, no more life. It was very peaceful, and as the body relaxed my sister could see the reality of being asleep in Jesus. Death had lost its sting because my mother was already rejoicing in being with God. Hallelujah!

When Christ leaves heaven to come down in the air of the earth (v. 17), the saints who are in heaven will come back with Him and be reunited with their bodies which will be resurrected in a moment (v. 14; I Cor. 15:51-18). This event is what we call The Rapture. The word rapture is from the Greek harpadzo, which means to seize, remove, or take away. The Latin word with the same meaning is raptus, which is to seize, or transport.  So we’ve come to the term Rapture by a roundabout path, but it really does picture the event described here and the joy that accompanies our going to meet the Lord in the air.  Here is one link where you can read about  The Rapture: http://www.biblefood.com/raphist.html. There are many, many more. 

So, the answers:  Bring who?  God will bring the saints who have died before His return, who are waiting in heaven with Him. 

Bring where?  He will bring the saints from heaven to be reunited with their resurrected bodies “in the air.” We’ll talk more about that next time. 

Bring how?  This even will come about through His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.