As Through A Glass Darkly

                                                  

At the end of all things, we will know everything. And we will be known by everyone. There will be no secret places in our lives anymore; No secret places in anyone’s life. Everything will be known by everyone. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, ” For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 

That says that everything about us is known by someone. That someone is God. Matthew 10:30 tells us that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Everything we are made of, everything we are and everything we have ever done is know by Him. One day, all these things about us will be known by everyone. And everything about everyone will be known by us…. Good and bad. 

Why does this matter? At the end of all things, there will be a separation. There will be the followers of Jesus on one side and everyone else on the other side. The people in both groups will have done both bad and good things. The difference will be that the bad things the ones that followed Jesus did will be covered by the blood of Jesus and will not be held against them. The bad things the other group did will not be covered and they will be held responsible and will suffer the consequences. The consequences is referred to as Hell. Hell is described as eternal fire and burning. I believe one of the reasons hell will be so bad is that everyone that ends up there will have tasted the joy of heaven… the wonder and beauty and love of God. They will then have it ripped from them and now be forced to live an eternity separated from God. 

Separation from the love of God is not all they will be required to suffer. I believe justice will demand that whatever pain and cruelty that a person inflicts during their time on earth will follow them to hell. When Corinthians says we shall know fully, that means that the people in hell will fully know the full ramifications of the evil things they did on earth. The man that beat his wife will know her pain fully. The drug dealer will know fully each shattered life his deeds created. The man that cheated on his wife will fully feel the pain and betrayal his actions caused his family. Adolf Hitler will forever feel the pain of the millions of people that suffered and died at his hands in the war and the concentration camps.

When everyone in hell fully knows the degree of pain and suffering they caused each person and carries that knowledge for eternity, they will truly be in hell.

Reflections On Friendships

One of the bittersweet aspects of getting older is remembering close friendships that have faded. Faded because of life. Events conspire to separate us from certain people. People that, for a time, were closer than friends. They were family.

As I look back, I have had the privilege to have a few of these people in my life. Men that I still call brothers. Our friendship lives on in my heart, even though our life connection stopped many years ago. One of these faded brothers in my life is Randy Pritchard. I met Randy at church after I moved here to Florida from Minnesota. I had left Minnesota due to a broken heart. My wife had left me for another man. I came to Florida to escape the pain and reminders of our failed life together for a while. But the siren song of Florida captured me and I never returned to Minnesota.

I don’t recall when Randy and I met, but I soon became aware that we had a bond that transcended normal friendships. Our lives began to intertwine on purpose. Not forced, but naturally. Like a sibling. Our friendship was a friendship of mutual pursuit.

I met Marcia, the true love of my life and we married and started our family. Randy and his family became part of our family. Randy’s and my friendship continued to grow through shared experiences. Again, on purpose. I just simply enjoyed his company. Through a love of sailing that he introduced to me, we continued to create adventures that strengthened our friendship even more.

But, as happens so often, life changed. As strong as our friendship was, life conspired and forced us to slowly lose our connection to each other. And then it stopped. Not our friendship, but our life connection. Randy’s friendship means as much to me today as it ever has. We simply have lost the shared life that would have allowed our brotherhood to continue to grow.

Randy, I just wanted you to know that I miss our friendship and you will always remain in my heart.

Your brother from different parents.

Mark

I’m Not Gonna Miss You

(My post yesterday was about setting short term goals. After thinking about it for a while, I believe I tried making a point that could have been made with a lot less words. Here is what I wanted to say )….

Being in my 60’s and having Parkinson’s disease, it seems to me that short term goals make more sense than long term goals. Mainly because at this point in my life, I am probably short term. There is much more time behind me than there is ahead of me.

 

The first goal is the result of a question I asked myself. Will anyone miss me when I’m gone?

In the movie, The Wizard of Oz, at the end, the Wizard is giving out the rewards to the group for the successful completion of their task. He approaches the Tinman. He had asked for a heart. The Wizard presents him with a clock in the shape of a heart. He tells the Tinman, “A heart is shown not by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”

God tells us to consider others more than we consider ourselves. The reason I am asking myself if anyone will miss me is because I have not done what God asked me to do. I have not put others needs before my own.
I have now made it my goal to think about others more than I think about me. Worrying if anyone will miss me sounds rather selfish.

 

My second goal is the result of a second question I asked myself. Will I miss anyone when I’m gone?

When I go, I’m going to heaven. I know this because I have accepted God’s free gift of salvation He offered and made available by sending His son, Jesus, to die for my sins. It’s a gift He offers everyone. All anyone needs to do is accept Gods free gift.

 

The last song Glen Campbell recorded before he died is titled, “ I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” The song was written because he had Alzheimer’s disease and they knew he would forget everyone he had ever known.

It is my desire to be able to sing that phrase to everyone I know. Not because I will forget you. I’m not gonna miss you because you will be in heaven with me.

Please don’t make me miss you.

Short Term Goals

I think it’s important when a person gets older to have short term goals, seeing the time they have left on this Earth is probably short term. I think one of my best short term goals is to be missed when I’m gone. It’s probably more important for me than for most people. There are a number of reasons why I may not be missed when I’m gone.

1. I haven’t done the work required to cultivate very many friends. I can probably count on one hand the people that would consider me a good friend. I think I have had three people, not related to me, that I would call my best friend and they would call me the same. Three people in 63 years. Not a very big number. I have had many people that have crossed my path over my lifetime. Some I think may have liked me. Some I have liked. But didn’t like enough to go beyond the reasons that we knew each other. Not enough for either of us to pursue the other for deeper connection that work or church or the fact that we lived close to each other. Don’t get me wrong, casual acquaintances are good and important, but they don’t usually go beyond the reason for the connection. Those relationship don’t lend themselves to missing me when I’m gone.

2. I’m not sure I am really that likable. I married my high school sweetheart. I call her that because when we met, I was still in high school and she was 2 years older than me. We were married for 9 years and I loved her with all my heart. Then one day, I found out she wanted someone else. She didn’t love me anymore. She did not really know if she had ever loved me. She left me and married someone else. It caused me to think that there was something unlikeable about me. I’m sure I won’t be missed by her when I’m gone.

3. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease around 9 years ago. Since then it has been a journey of discovery and change for me. Most of it not very pleasant. There have been many changes in my physical ability to do the things I would normally have done. There are also mental changes that have occurred due to this illness. I have discovered that many of these changes are affecting my ability to have normal relationships and friendships. Add this to my natural inability to cultivate friendships, it creates a perfect storm.
One result of my having Parkinson’s disease is that I needed to retire. Most of my personal interaction with people was my work relationships. Ever since I left my career, most of my involvement with people has abruptly ceased. There are one or two shining exceptions that have maintained a degree of connection with me, but that says more about them than about me. For the most part I am probably already unmissed.

Beyond my natural inability to find and maintain strong friendships, Parkinson’s disease symptoms make it even harder. Harder to maintain strong relationships with my family. One of my concerns is my ability to maintain a strong marriage relationship with my wife. Parkinson’s has taken away much of my ability to communicate my deep love for her. My face can no longer show my expressions of love and the subtle wordless statements of love I feel for her. The rigidity and pain in my body does not allow me to express my never ceasing desire to communicate my love through the gentle touch of my hands. PD has taken away my ability to physically and passionately maintain our oneness of body. Because Parkinson’s has robbed me of my ability to speak loudly and clearly, it is difficult to tell her of my never-ending love and affection for her and tell her adequately how beautiful she is.
Like friendships, marriages must be maintained by pursuit and acts that keep them strong. Our marriage has been pursued and cared for in the many years that went before Parkinson’s showed it’s ugly self. My prayer is that we have built a strong enough foundation in those years to carry us through, so my wife will miss me more than be relieved I’m gone.

I am thankful that PD waited to show itself until after my kids were grown and married. Unlike my wife, they were spared the challenges of living with a man that was encumbered by an illness. From what they say and by what I remember, they had a great childhood. We absolutely loved being their parents and I believe they loved being our children. The challenge now is for me to be there for them as adults. I want to continue to be a help to them as they live life and raise their families. I want to experience their lives as they live them and to be able to give them advise if they ask for it. But that is more selfishness on my part. I love and like them all and I want to be engaged with them and I want them to continue to want to be involved with me. I’m not too concerned about my kids. I believe they will miss me when I’m gone.

My grandchildren are another story. At this writing, I have two adorable grandsons. One is 4 years old and the other is 1. They arrived just in time to only know their Pop Pop challenged with Parkinson’s disease. One of the many symptoms I have to deal with is an intolerance to noise. Grandson’s are noisy. I find myself having to escape to the quietness of my room much of the time when they come to visit. Something I miss terribly and I think is a big factor in my grandsons not being able to bond with me is I can’t pick them up or hold them. The rigidity, pain and lack of strength in my wrists, hands and body just make it too dangerous and painful. The younger one is still pretty much oblivious to the lack in his grandfather but I can tell it is affecting the older one and how we relate to each other. He feels the lack. My hope is as they get older and start to understand the reasons for the lack in Pop Pop, we can build a relationship based on other things than physical touch. And I believe as they get older, they get quieter. So one of my short term goals is that my grandchildren miss me when I’m gone.

My mom and dad live in Northern Minnesota. My two sisters and my brother also live there. We all have a good relationship. When I left Minnesota and moved to Florida. I lost contact with them for a number of years. Fortunately, we have reconnected. With the invention of Facetime, we have grown closer as a family than we were before. Because of our rediscovered love we have for each other, I am confident they will miss me when I’m gone. My parents are in their 80’s, so the chances are they won’t miss me because they will probably go before I will. They will just miss me in heaven until I meet them there.

I believe that the main reason I don’t have many friends is me. So, in spite of my natural inability to make and keep friends, I will try harder to do so. I will try to look for opportunities to consider others more than I consider myself. When I meet someone new, I will consider it a opportunity for a new friend. When I encounter someone from my past, I will consider it a possibility to recover a friendship I may have squandered.

I will work at finding new ways to strengthen my marriage and my relationship with my wife. I will work hard to maintain a strong connection with my children. I will work at being more tolerant with the noise and messiness of being a grandparent.

I consider it a worthy short term goal to work at doing the things that will allow people to miss me when I’m gone. That will require that they like me while I am still here. I want to be missed because I had a positive place in someones life.

Of course a more important short term goal I have adopted is to try to do what I can to make sure no one misses me after I’m gone because when I go, I’ll be in heaven and when they go, they will not. My prayer is that those I come in contact with from now until I go will accept the free gift that is available to everyone while we are still here. The gift of forgiveness God has provided through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus. More than not being missed is my desire that no one is missed.

Blaming God

Once there was a father and a son. One day, the son came to his father and said, I want you to give me my inheritance now. The father granted the sons request. The son took his inheritance and traveled to a far off land. There he started to live contrary to how his father had taught him to live. He took his inheritance and squandered it until he had spent it all and was left with nothing. He began to starve.
In this story, would you blame the father for his sons starving?

Once, there was a Father and a son. One day, the Father pointed out a tree to the son. He said, son, you can eat the fruit from any tree you want, except that tree. Never eat its fruit, because if you do, you will die. The son ignored his Fathers instruction and ate the fruit of that tree.
In this story, would you blame the Father for the sons death?

A good father instructs his son how to live a right life. A wise son applies his fathers instructions when he becomes a man and benefits from doing so. An unwise son ignores his fathers instructions and suffers the consequences. Not only does the unwise son suffer, but every life the unwise son’s life touches suffers from generation to generation. Would you blame the original father or his son for the suffering? The only hope is for someone to choose to break this chain of suffering by applying the original fathers instructions.

Bad things happen all the time to everyone. Most of the time, the first question that is asked is “ Why would God allow this to happen?” I believe the correct question is, “Why would man allow this to happen?”

God made man and the universe perfect and told him how to keep it that way. “ Do not eat the fruit from that one tree.” The man ate it anyway. That act of man caused him and all of mankind that would come after him to suffer every pain of sickness, every heartbreak imaginable and every evil from starving nations to hurricanes and floods. That one act of that first man altered the earth and the universe and everything in it. If not for that one act of disobedience, we would still live in a perfect world. Would you blame God or the man?

Once, there was a Father and a Son. The Father had made a world where he had many sons that were lost and were in need of someone to break the chain of disobedience and provide them with a way back to Him. The Son obeyed His Father’s instructions and came to earth and allowed Himself to be sacrificed and killed by the disobedient sons. He then again followed His Fathers instructions and came back to life, making a way for any of the disobedient sons that believe Him to be free from death once again.

In the first story, the son realizes that the answer to his starving is to go back home to his father and ask him to accept him back as a servant. What the son does not realize is that all the time he has been away, his father has been watching for his return. As the son approaches his fathers house, the father sees him a long way off. When the father sees him, he immediately begins to run. When he reaches his son, he embraces him as only a father who loves his son can. The son’s appearance is terrible because of what he has put himself through. The father places a robe on his body, shoes on his feet and a ring on his finger. He welcomes him back home, his face soaked in tears. He welcomes him back not as a servant, but as his son.

When bad things happen, instead of blaming God, we need to understand it’s the fault of mankind.

God deserves our eternal thanks for what He has done to offer us a way back from a situation we created.

God is good. Always has been, always will be!

I Have Seen Butterflies

Being a follower of Jesus and living with a chronic disease like Parkinson’s disease, I am confronted with a dilemma. Do I accept the fact that I have this disease and live life the best I can, believing that I have it because of mankind’s fall at creation and I will be set free from it when I die, or am I supposed to be healed now. 

I have written about this question before and what seemed to be the answer based on what I read in the Bible and what I see in life and my personal experience, the answer is I have this disease because of the fall and I will more than likely need to deal with it until heaven. 

God made the universe and man perfect. But Satan had access to the perfect world and was able to convince perfect man to give up perfection and allow imperfection or sin to come in. That act of man allowed everything bad to enter this perfect universe, including Parkinson’s disease. It also put a separation between God and man. But God loved man enough that He gave His son Jesus to pay the price required to remove the separation. All man had to do is to accept the sacrifice Jesus paid to restore his relationship with God. Man still had to live his life out in this imperfect world with all the evil and sickness and sinful men that refused to accept the gift Jesus offers, but along with the restoration God also offered the free gift of the Holy Spirit to help the restored ones make it through this evil life. 

Many say that part of the gift Jesus provided by His sacrifice was freedom and healing of all sickness and disease. That may be true. The Old Testament has a few examples of healing. The Gospels records many acts of healing at the hands of Jesus and those with Him. The remainder of the New Testament records a lesser number of healings. From the end of the New Testament until now, apart from short periods of time involving certain individual people, healing has become less understood and less experienced. 

I do believe miracle healing still takes place. I don’t think I have ever seen one take place. I know thats not important. I haven’t ever actually seen a caterpillar become a butterfly either, but I do believe it happens. It’s just that I have seen hundreds of butterflies and I haven’t seen any healings.

I spent the first part of my life as a evangelical Christian. In the circles I moved in, we said we believed in healing, we just never did it. In the second part of my life, I guess I would call myself a charismatic Christian. We say we believe in healing and even lay hands on people to do it. We just never see it either. We talk about it a lot and hear some interesting stories, but I haven’t seen any butterflies.

Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And byHisstripes we are healed.”

And 1 Peter 2:24 says, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”

I believe what the Bible says, I’m just not sure what it actually means when it says we are healed or you were healed.

Acts 2:22 says, “ “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.”

God proved Jesus was who He said He was by doing miracles through Him. I guess God could prove we are who we say we are, ( Followers of Jesus ), but that doesn’t seem to be what He wants to do. At least not on a regular and predictable basis.

So what conclusion should I come too. I have asked for healing many times. I have been prayed for by others many times. I still feel the symptoms and they are getting worse.

But I am happy. I still love my life. I love God more than ever. My life has adapted to living with this disease. I don’t think God thinks less of me or that he is displeased with me because I haven’t found healing.

I know I could be completely off base on the healing thing, I also know God will either protect my joy as I live with this disease or heal me. 

God is Great, All the time!

 

Welcome To My Journey

 

Some time after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I felt a desire to write. I had never felt the desire before, so it took me by surprise. My first thought was, what will I write about? At that moment, there were two primary thoughts in the front of my brain. The first has been my primary thought ever since I was 6 years old. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. The second thought was new. I have Parkinson’s disease. So I started thinking about what it will be like being a Christian man with Parkinson’s disease. I knew it would be a journey. Everyones life is a journey. My life had been a journey up to that point. Making choices and living with the consequences, good and bad. Having things happen to me, good and bad. But this was big. This one would impact every facet of my life for the rest of my life. I had no map for this journey. Something had happened in my brain that would alter how my body moves. It was permanent and it would continue to get worse as the years went by. I decided I would write about this journey so anyone that was interested could travel along with me down this new road. My hope was that I could write about how God enabled me to deal with the challenges I encountered along the way and that could help someone else deal with their challenges. 

Parkinson’s affects every person differently. There are many common challenges but there are thousands of variations and combinations of symptoms. I try to be clear about what I am feeling and about the tools I use to make the journey less hard.

One of the key tools I use to cope with this Parkinson’s life and all the other aspects of life is my Bible. I rely on what it says in the Bible to direct me in every area of my life and my dealing with Parkinson’s would be no different. 

The Bible is not an easy read. We need the Holy Spirit to help us correctly understand what God wants to say to us. We also must use our intelligence and common sense. The word for what we do when we read and decide what the Bible says is interpretation.                For thousands of years, there have been people that believed the common man did not have the capacity to understand what the Bible says. They thought only they were qualified to tell us what God wanted us to know. They kept the Bible from us. They kept it hidden from view. They hid it by language. They kept it from being translated. They knew that if the Bible ever became available to everyone, they would lose their power. Many people suffered and died making the Bible available and understandable to everyone. 

When I think about Bible interpretation, pictures of old scholars and monks laboring over large tables comes to my mind. It was their job to look at each word and letter and determine what the writer of the original words intended to say when he wrote it. The truth is that everyone that reads the Bible is automatically an interpreter. When a person reads anything, they must interpret what the writer wanted to say when they wrote it.

The difference with reading the Bible is that when a Christian reads it, they have the Holy Spirit to help them understand what is being said. The Spirit is never wrong, but sometimes the person reading the Word misinterprets what they are reading and gets it wrong. It is important to consider everything we read in it’s correct context and how it fits with the rest of Scripture. It is also important to be sensitive to the Spirit to correct us if necessary. The correction may come directly from the Spirit or through a spiritual brother or sister.  

The posts I have written in this blog were written by a man that reads the Bible. I have read it cover to cover twice. I have read portions of it regularly ever since I learned to read. Everything I have written, wether it’s a writing about Parkinson’s or a retelling of a Bible story from a different perspective or something that is important to me, I write what I think is true. I would not write something I thought was false. But I am human. I could be wrong. I could have written something that is totally not true. I have really tried hard to follow the Spirit, my spirit and my heart. I must rely on the Lord to correct me. I also must rely on those that read the posts I write to tell me if they think I am wrong on some point and show me how I am wrong. The alternative is to not write at all. I don’t think that would be the Lord’s choice. I think his desire and intention when He wrote the Bible was for me to read it, understand it and live my life by what I think it says. That’s what I have tried to do. I think that’s what He wants everyone to do.

As you read my blog posts, please remember, they were written by a Christian man with Parkinson’s disease. It’s an account of my journey, trying to always apply what the Lord is telling me as I seek what is true for a man living in this day and age, trusting in God and the Holy Spirit.

Welcome to my journey.

  

Ambassador in Chains

When Jesus saved me at the age of 6, I ceased to be a citizen of this fallen world and instantly became a citizen of Heaven. I continued to live in this world and was responsible to live my life here as an American, with all the privileges and responsibilities that goes with living in this country. But my stay here is only temporary. My real and permanent country is Heaven. This is the reality of everyone that chooses to follow Jesus, no matter where they are born and where they live while they are here.

I also understand that while I am alive in this world. I am to be an ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven. I have the responsibility of representing my future home and telling those I come in contact with about Jesus and the opportunity he offers everyone to become a citizen of heaven and avoid an eternity as a citizen of hell.

Throughout my life, I have tried to be a good ambassador. I know that I haven’t always succeeded and I could have done much more. As I look back on my 57 years as a Christian, it’s difficult for me to judge how successful I have been in representing my King and His Kingdom. All I really know for sure is that He saved me and any success I may have had is due to Him.

In Ephesians 6:20, Paul refers to himself as an “ambassador in chains.” He said this because he was imprisoned. I am also an ambassador in chains. I am in chains due to an illness, Parkinson’s disease, that restricts what I can do. Paul was restrained by literal chains and bars that confined him. I am restrained by my bodies inability to move and function normally. 

As the days go by, the chains that are restraining me are getting shorter and tighter.  My ability to be an ambassador of heaven is decreasing. My ability to speak is diminishing. My ability to write is increasingly being compromised. My ability to even leave my house is waning. 

So how does one remain an effective ambassador without the means to communicate and whose ability to move stops? How will I continue to have a positive impact on those around me and remain an ambassador of heaven? Prayer. If I can continue to think clearly, I can continue to pray. Even if I lose my ability to communicate, I can still pray. 

I believe that an ambassador of heaven that can pray can be a powerful citizen that can still represent Heaven effectively.   

Punishment To Fit The Crime

I believe all humans have a sense of justice. It started with God. Then the sense of justice was passed from generation to generation through thought and experience. What form it takes and how it is applied has changed over the centuries. Without justice, man would not have survived on this earth for very long. Justice has been distorted, neglected and misapplied countless times, but the fact that we are still here testifies that it’s still at work.

One of the fundamental aspects of justice is that punishment should be applied so it is as close to fitting the crime as possible. If there is an imbalance, it’s not justice.

In the old testament of the bible, it says, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” That was the definition of justice for a long time. Justice requires that payment be made for an offense that costs the offender close to what the offended has lost.

I have been thinking about heaven. Heaven is the dwelling place of God. Heaven is a place of untold joy and love.

When God decided to create this universe and man, Satan had already rebelled and had already been thrown out of heaven. God made the universe perfect, but Satan had access and the ability to influence what God had made.

Satan lost little time before he interfered with God’s perfect universe. He used as his instrument of interference God’s perfect man. Satan convinced the man that God was holding out on him. There was something he would want that God was keeping from him. All he had to do to receive this thing was to reach out and take it. Man listened to Satan and did what God had told him not to do.

Satan had already committed a crime against God. Justice was required. Justice required punishment. The punishment was throwing him out of heaven.

Now Satan had committed another crime. Justice had to be served again. Not only on Satan and his fallen angels, but also on man.

Because of man’s disobedience, all of mankind was now subject to every pain, perversion, violation, sickness, disease, atrocity, genocide, humiliation, and depravity that man and Satan could conjure up. For this crime, Satan and his followers, including man, would be punished.

Punishment fits the crime? Justice?

As far as Satan and his demons are concerned, the punishment is described as being thrown into a lake of fire and burning for eternity. This feels like justice to me… Justice for everyone we have lost to sickness, disease or accident… every child we have lost… everyone that has been the victim of someone else’s cruelty… every victim of a crime.

Everything in this world that is bad can be traced back to Satan. Eternal torture and writhing in a lake of fire forever probably describes a punishment that fits the crime.

What about man? His crime was disobeying God by taking a bite from a piece of fruit God told him not to touch. By that simple act, man became aware of the difference between good and evil. Before man disobeyed God, evil did not exist in the perfect universe. After he disobeyed, evil became a reality. Evil entered the universe and was free to spread death and destruction.

One man committed a crime that would subject all future men to evil. This crime required justice. The punishment the man received for his crime was that now he would die. All his family after him would die. After he and all those that came after him died, they would be sent to a place of fire and torture to share in Satan’s punishment forever.

A punishment that fits the crime?

Because of Gods grace and love for man, He provided man a way to escape the punishment justice demanded. This escape is not available to Satan and his fallen angels. Justice could be satisfied by the sacrifice of a man…a son of man…without any evil in him…a son of God. This sacrifice would not only restore man to a place of perfection, but every man that accepted this sacrifice of God’s son would be released from the eternal punishment and fire that was going to be their future. When they died, they would go to be with God in heaven.

By the act of one man, every man is subject to punishment. By the act of one Man, every man can avoid punishment.

Punishment to fit the crime?

The act of one man caused all men to be punished, no

matter how bad or good they were. The act of another one Man has provided a way for some men to avoid being punished. Is justice still served?

When Adam sinned, every man that came after him would be punished.

When Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross and rose from the dead, some men could avoid being punished. Those that accepted Jesus would not be punished.

After Adam, just being a member of humanity meant that, when you died, you would go to punishment.

After Jesus, if you accepted what He did, when you died, you would go to heaven. If you didn’t accept Him, either by choice or lack of knowledge, you would go to punishment.

Is justice served by punishing people that don’t know God?

The bible seems to indicate that God can be known by everyone.

In the bible, Romans 1: 18 says this;

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

The punishment fitting the crime.

The punishment that awaits Satan and all his followers is called hell.

Hell is described as a lake of fire. That sounds terrible. Hard to imagine. Your body burning for eternity. That fate sounds appropriate for Satan and his entourage. But for people that made the choice to ignore God and His Son to suffer that kind of fate seems inappropriate and extreme. It doesn’t seem like the punishment fits the crime.

As I thought about that, some lines from a play came to my mind. The play is called,” Doctor Faustus.”

In the play, Doctor Faustus is a man that has reached the summit of knowledge. He has spent his entire life on the pursuit of knowledge and now he is very old. He decides he will now abandon the search of knowledge and pursue the pleasures of life. He makes the choice to expose himself to the dark arts. Soon he discovers a way to conjure up Satan. He says some strange words and before him appears Mephistopheles, the agent of Satan. After some conversation, Faustus tells the demon he desires a few things. He wants to be 24 years old again and live another 24 years. He wants money and power. After a few more requests, Mephistopheles agrees to give Faustus what he has asked for. There is just one condition. It will cost Doctor Faustus his soul.

Faustus thinks about it and decides the price is worth it. After signing a contract in blood, Faustus finds all his wishes have come true. He is young again. Everything he asked for is there. He soon discovers that the pleasures of life do not satisfy for very long. He begins to question his decision. He finds he has made a terrible mistake. He wrestles with himself, going back and forth. One minute trying to justify what he has done, the next minute trying to find a way out.

At one point, he questions the demon about hell. The demon responds with some hollow answers. Faustus pursues the question further. Faustus reasons, “Hell cannot be so bad. Here we are, talking and reasoning together. You are free to leave hell and come here as you will.”

Suddenly, Faustus notices tears begin to roll down Mephistopheles face. He looks at Faustus with an expression of despair and utter hopelessness. He tells him,

“This is hell, nor am I out of it.

Do you think that I, who saw the face of God

And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,

Am not tormented with ten thousand hells

In being deprived of everlasting bliss?”

It may be that this punishment that he describes is more terrible than an eternal lake of fire.

I believe that every person will meet God, both good and bad. The ones that accepted the free gift of Jesus will be ushered into heaven and be with God forever. Those that did not receive Jesus will see the truth about who He is and what He is. They will get a glimpse of the true love and joy that they will be separated from for eternity. They will realize all that God has done to pursue them and save them from an eternal hell. They will realize that they turned their back on Him and ignored Him. They will get a taste of just how much God loves them and how close they came to an eternal paradise with Him and disregarded it as carelessly as if they were throwing away trash. After seeing and feeling all that they could have enjoyed, to then be ushered out of God’s presence, with no possible way to see and feel the joy of heaven again forever sounds like hell to me.

I don’t know about the punishment fitting the crime. I just know that God loves us all and either we will realize it and embrace what He has done for us and discover all He has in store for us, or we will ignore Him and suffer the consequences forever. Whatever the consequences for ignoring Him are, it will be hell.

What Does One Do?

What does one do when your left arm refuses to swing when you walk?

What does one do when you lose your sense of smell?

What does one do when your left hand starts to shake when you try to use it?

What does one do when your left wrist starts to hurt and never stops hurting?

What does one do when your right wrist begins to feel like your left?

What does one do when your back starts to hurt and never stops hurting and the pain constantly travels from one side to the other?

What does one do when you are not able to take even over the counter pain relievers due to terrible side effects?

What does one do when you regularly lose your sense of balance?

What does one do when you don’t have the strength to stand for more than a few minutes without needing to sit down?

What does one do when you can’t walk for more than a block before you are too exhausted to walk anymore?

What does one do when you do not feel it is safe to drive anymore?

What does one do when you lose the ability to work?

What does one do when you lose the ability to speak loud enough and clear enough so that others understand what you are trying to say?

What does one do when you are not able to pick up your one year old grandson?

What does one do when you lose much of your ability to communicate your ever-growing love for your wife, either by soft or passionate touch or the subtle expressions of love made by a face and hands and body and soul unencumbered by limitations of the brain?

What does one do when you find yourself spending much of your time alone?

Here is what I did.

I started to write. I had never had a desire to write before I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I discovered that writing helps me cope with the challenges of living with this disease. Describing in written words helps me communicate to myself and others what I am feeling and experiencing. I decided to start this blog. It gives me a place to record and share my Intentional writing and my random thoughts and stories. Whenever I write, there are always certain things that I keep in mind.

First, I remember that I am never alone. God is my Father, Jesus is my brother and the Holy Spirit is my guide. They never leave my side.

Concerning my physical challenges, I have asked for and wait for healing. I trust God and I know He knows what I’m feeling and facing every day. He told me His mercies are new every morning. Whether my pain and physical challenges continue or not, my every moment is in His hands. I will either be set free from these momentary inconveniences in this world or when I reach home.

As far as how my limitations affect everyone that touches my life, whether it’s family or friends or strangers, I will do my best to fulfill my God given responsibilities as a Christian man. I am part of a family and a member of the human race. My limitations do not excuse me from showing love, kindness, mercy, patience, forgiveness, generosity, and all the other attributes required as a person that loves God.

And every minute of my life, I remember the greatest gift God has given me, besides Himself.

He has given me my wife. She is the author of everything good in my life here on earth. She is the one that has made my life worth getting up for every morning. She promised me she would stand by me through everything. The good and the bad. She has kept that promise and continues to keep it every day, even though the bad is overtaking the good. My love for her is forever.

So, at least for me, this is what one does.