Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rain and Plinko

As I sit typing this post, it is raining outside. There is something comforting about sitting on my couch drinking coffee, and watching the raindrops hit the window and run down the glass. Each drop that hits the window takes a different path down the window. Occasionally a drop will join in a previous stream of water, only to jut out to the side and continue down it's own path. Maybe I am crazy (depends who you ask!), but it reminds me of the game Plinko from The Price Is Right. (click here if you don't know what this is)  I used to watch this game show with my grandmother as a child, and after she passed away, I still tuned in when I wasn't at school.

In the game Plinko, contestants would climb to the top of a large board filled with pegs. At the bottom of the board, were spaces labeled with various amounts of money that the person could win. I remember contestants running up the stairs, excited and confident they would release the puck in just the right spot to win the grand prize, The chip would hit a peg and bounce wildly from left to right and filter slowly down into one of the spaces. The buzzer would ring bzzzzzzzz. "Zero. Sorry you didn't win. Try your next chip." Each time they would strategically plan and listen to the audience screaming advice from the sidelines. Sometimes contestants would win a few hundred or more, and a handful of times I saw someone get the largest prize amount. The contestants that left with any money at all, while probably disappointed, still were just happy to have won anything.

With my 47th birthday just days away, feeling lousy, and realizing I could be 2/3 of the way through my life (a guess based on my genetic pool), I am thinking about all of this and our path through life. Some of us plan and strategize and seem to carve out our own path, like the rogue raindrop on my window. Others look to the crowd for answers. Still others, paralyzed with fear to make the wrong choices, meander through life bouncing this way and that.

No matter what path we choose in life, we all stumble over an obstacle, course correct, or even completely turn and change directions at times. There are places in our life where we run up those stairs with excitement and expectation, confident we are headed in a good direction, only to feel like the chip bouncing around down the other side.

No matter which path we take or how long it takes us to get there, we all end in the same place - death - "the great equalizer" as it is called. One day our physical bodies will cease to breathe and our hearts will stop beating, but this is where the story takes a turn. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that every person will die, and then face God's judgment. When our earthly bodies die, EVERY ONE of us will stand before God and give account of our path, our choices, our life.

Did we follow the advice yelled by those on the sideline? Did we bounce around aimlessly with our fingers crossed just hoping to get it right? Have we just gotten in line behind someone else and followed their path without really thinking about where we were headed? Were we convinced that every path would lead to the "grand prize"?

The Bible makes clear there is only ONE path that leads to eternal life. Those who follow all other paths will be cast "into the furnace of fire. [Where] there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:42) What a graphic picture and warning of Hell we are given in that verse! Jesus warns us that He is the only way to God and that path is narrow and few will find it (John 14:6; Matthew 7:13-14) For those of us who, by the grace of God, have placed our faith in Christ alone for our salvation have confidence that our earthly death will be the beginning of eternal life with God. For any who has failed to find the narrow way, your earthly death will be the beginning of eternal torment in hell.

Fresh on the heels of yesterday's post about making choices, let this be a further reminder of the seriousness of the choices we make and the path we take! Make no mistake my dear reader, there are really only two paths! Unlike Plinko, you either receive the "grand prize" or will hear the "Bzzzzzz" and realize there is no reward, only torment. You are either on the path to life or on the one that leads to death. You have chosen to place faith in Christ as Redeemer, Savior and Lord of all; or you have chosen to deny Him and walk away.

Heaven or hell.

Life or death.

Choose this day which path you will take!!

Until Next Time,

Monday, May 8, 2017

Between A Rock and A Hard Place

I have watched several movies or TV shows that include a scene where the main character has to make a tough choice. They have just minutes or seconds to make a life or death decision. The first one that comes to mind is 'The Dark Knight', in which Batman must react quickly and choose to save District Attorney Harvey Dent or his love interest Rachel Dawes. Don't worry, no spoilers.

Making decisions can be difficult and have serious consequences. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do or which way to go. For me, this week, those choices have been medication related and very difficult. The meds I have been on recently have provided a decent amount of pain relief. They have allowed me to do some things I enjoy and complete many necessary tasks. It hasn't been a perfect solution by any means, but much better than living in constant pain unable to do almost anything or make plans. Unfortunately, my blood pressure has been elevated for the past couple of months, and isn't getting better despite low dose BP meds added to my daily routine. The doctor feels that the medication that is helping me with the pain is causing the high blood pressure. Ugghhh

Now I am forced to make choice. Stop the meds and live with the pain, or start two new medicines- one that may help with nerve pain, and one more addictive narcotic. They both should help lower my blood pressure and pain levels. They both also have other serious side effects and will likely make me drowsy. So I see my choices like this:

1. Stop the meds. Live in constant pain, with difficulty sleeping as a result (-1 point), and therefore get nothing done during the day that is necessary or enjoyable. (-1 point)
Bonus: my blood pressure goes back to normal which is good, especially with my family history and recent abnormal heart rhythms. (+1 point)
Conclusion = Score -1

2. Stop the old meds, adding the 2 new prescriptions. Likely relieving the pain while making me sleepy all day, but raise the risk of addiction (-1 point); therefore get nothing done during the day that is necessary or enjoyable (-1 point).
Bonus: my blood pressure goes back to normal which is good, especially with my family history and recent abnormal heart rhythms. (+1 point)
Conclusion = Score -1


I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place! Neither seems like a good way to go if you ask me. (I know you didn't, but I am telling you anyways!)

Like Moses, in Exodus 33, I find myself crying out to God for answers, to see God's glory, to feel His presence. Moses, asking God to see His glory, was placed in the cleft of the rock (similar to a rock and a hard place?), and God says "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you." God reveals to Moses that He is sovereign, compassionate and gracious, as Sproul's commentary notes, that in Jesus Christ, God's glory is revealed- both graciously and compassionately- through the Holy Spirit to all who believe.

Choices have consequences and side effects, whether we are discussing medications, or actions in our own lives. Some choices are easy, and have little long-term effect. (What should I wear today?) Other choices truly are a matter of life and death, for "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). (Where do I place my trust? Who shall I serve?)

I am thankful that the glory of God is revealed in Jesus Christ. That glory reveals "something of His nature, character, and power....God is glorified in the acts of salvation, because they exhibit His incomparable condescension, His inexhaustible love, and His limitless power.....and those He saves have contributed nothing to their salvation except their need" (from Sproul's footnotes in the Reformation Study Bible).

Oh what joy this brings my heart, when from deep inside this dark cave that feels as though it presses me from every side, His glory is revealed to me as a wonderful ray of light that chases away the darkness! I understand more fully His nature, His character and power, and as a result I learn to trust Him even more.

I am still deciding on my options, reading a lot about other treatments, monitoring my BP, and managing one day at a time right now. I will need to decide something soon. More importantly, there are choices that MUST be made today! Scripture is clear that sin is to be dealt with immediately, it's consequences are wide reaching and devastating. Today is the day of salvation, for no one knows what tomorrow will hold (2 Corinthians 6:2 & Ecclesiastes 7:14). Do not delay in choosing the only path that provides the cure we need. Place your faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, repent and ask for forgiveness. Remember that failing to make any decision, is still a making a decision. There is no other choice you will make with such life changing consequences.

Go now, check your vitals. Are there signs of life or are you a dead man walking?
May we all turn to Christ, the only solution to the greatest of all problems, and cling to Him in our need.

Until Next Time,