Posts Tagged ‘Sam Guidry’

Why

The question was actually posed to me some time ago by a young German woman. I had befriended her and her husband in an online game that I was playing. She quickly became aware of my faith and one day as we chatted about life she abruptly posed this question.

Why do you serve God? What does he do for you?

My mind quickly went to all the theologically correct answers that I had learned over the years but quickly discarded them. First of all I don’t think her English was up to taking in a bunch of “Christianese” (and my German was certainly not up to conveying anything other than hello and thank you). Secondly my guess is that perhaps somewhere she had already heard the platitudes. She was looking for something more intimate, more personal. She really wanted to know , why did Sam Guidry (or Flamefanner as my gaming friends know me) choose to serve this god. I gave her an answer. I do not even recall what it was, however it set me to thinking and so I give you:

Five Reasons that I serve God: Personal

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.       Hebrews 4:15

We have reached reason number four.  Reason number one is that God consistently amazes me.  Number two is that he is unconditional.  I can count on him regardless of my circumstances.  Number three is that he lets me see myself as he sees me, not as the world would paint me or as circumstances color who I am.  The fifth reason is wrapped up in all of these.  He is not some distant being who manipulates the world around us and requires things of us.  He engages us, amazes us, impacts us and shows us how he sees us through the lens of Jesus Christ and all His wonderful promises.

How amazing it is to be personally engaged by an omniscient God.  He always knows just what I need even when I don’t.  I was recently looking at the Caring Bridge journal that I kept as we walked the journey of Allana’s Leukemia.  It was toward the end of her first course of chemotherapy.  Allana was at her weakest (until the bone marrow transplant treatments).   We had been battered by the brutal side effects of the chemo.  Allana had just lost her hair.  It was at this dark hour that an omniscient God engaged us in a most personal way through a young nurse.  This is not to make light of the incredible support and care that he provided through His people and directly through the ministry of the Holy Spirit but at this time, at this moment we needed something special.  I am guessing that that something special came through a young lady who may never know the place she holds in our hearts. I will let the Caringbridge post speak for itself.

The other was through a nurse, a young lady in the healing profession who stood over and for Allana tonight and prayed her heart out. The presence of God filled the room as she proclaimed healing and peace and blessing over Allana and myself. The uncontrollable tears that are for me a sign of a special stirring of the Holy Spirit (Lord anytime you can come up with a different sign for me I will really be ok with that!) came and I think all three of us just bathed in that presence. God truly directs the steps of His People and he directed her to be at the right place, at the right time and then used her to bless our socks off.

Today was a day of weariness, loss and some pain but more importantly today was a day that God reminded us….again…. that Leukemia has won nothing. The Victory is won and Jesus is His name.  Caringbridge, Allana Guidry January 25, 2013.

And yes, my eyes are full of tears again.  How can they not be when I have such a great God and Father who loves and cares for me in such a personal way?  While the circumstances may enhance the intensity of God’s personal intervention here, it is only one among a multitude of instances.  As Allana and I have moved along in our faith walk He has repeatedly engaged us in a deeply personal way that helped us to grow and mature in our faith (the great unconditional impacting the conditional).  Whether it was speaking the phrase “fan into flame” so deeply into our hearts or inspiring Allana to proclaim the “True Beauty in Christ” that is our true identity.  He has moved us to be in just the right places for the growth that we needed throughout our time together.  Separately he turned our hearts to Him at a time when we were both dealing with the repercussions of our own poor decisions before bringing us together, companions on the walk of faith.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:35-39

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solomons-temple

 

When we think of the Old Testament temple most of us think of Solomon in all his glory.  The son of King David, usually recognized as the greatest King of the Jewish people.  He was rich beyond measure, recognized for his wisdom and had incredible international influence.  He reigned over an unprecedented era of peace for Israel.

Solomon was called upon by God to build the temple to house the Ark of the Covenant and God’s revealed presence in Israel.  He was able to call upon the best of the best materials and artisans in the known world.  Gifts poured in from all over to help complete this monumental task.  1 Kings 5-7 provides us with the glorious details of this building like no other in history.  The author of 1 Kings provides us with wonderful detail about the construction, decor and furnishings that defined this wonderful project.  All the wealth and influence that God provided to Solomon was represented in Solomon’s obedience to this command of God.

There is another temple builder in the Old Testament.  He is less known.  One is unlikely to find anyone named after him.  In comparison to Solomon he did not have the wealth, the fame or the influence that Solomon was able to bring to bear on the building of the first Temple.  Zerubbabel was returning to Judah, less than half of the kingdom that Solomon ruled.  He was returning to a land that had been laid wasted by Nebuchadnezzar, suffering the consequences to rebellion both against God and against Babylon.  He returned to Jerusalem with a ragtag group exiles, born and raised in a foreign land.  He came from the line of David, but he was not really a king.  He ruled at the pleasure of Babylon and the land he governed was more of province than a kingdom.  He was surrounded by adversaries, not allies.  Zerubbabel did not command the immense respect given to Solomon.  Biblically he takes a backseat to Ezra and even to Cyrus King of Persia.  Even after the temple was completed, it was not all pats on the back and cheers.  There were jeers in the crowd also.  Those few old enough to remember the former glory of the Temple built by Solomon, decried this new temple as inadequate. Yet through all of this Zerubbabel ruled over an incredible revival in Judah.

Comparison is one the greater weapons that Satan uses to undermine the faith of the Hupomone man.  Here we have two men, both called to the same task, one from a position of wealth, strength and glory, the other from a place of defeat, servitude and subjection.  Zerubbabel could have well fallen into a rut of rebellious comparison.  “But God you gave Solomon everything to build your temple and I have nothing. I am not even really a king.”  We are so tempted to view the path that God has laid before us in comparison to others who seem to have it all.  Sometimes we even compare our current call to a place where we were before.  Paul well understood this risky place when he penned the words, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstances I have learned the secret of being filled and growing hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13

This is the position of the Hupomone man.  He sees the nature of obedience resting not in the arms of ever changing circumstance but in the arms of an unchanging God.  We do not know a lot of details about Zerubbabel, but this son, of a son of exile did not shirk his duty to serve Yaweh.  He obeyed the call of God on his life and was true to his position as a son of David even when faced with opposition that compared his humble state to the glory days of Israel.  Though relegated to the closet of history, he stands as an example of the Hupomone man that we would do well to follow.

 

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I am not sure what happened with my previous post but the photo I included caused most of the post not to be visible.  I have fixed that glitch and the whole post is now readable (I hope!) here

The fevers worsened.  We moved through Christmas and towards the New Year.  Sore throat spread to body aches and stomach pain.  These days so close to the day that everything changed are barely a blur in my memory.  I can remember little of what happened outside of the progression of the illness that we didn’t even know was there.  Even with the fevers and discomfort there was a blissful ignorance as to the journey that we were being called to embark on.  Just to put the whole piece into perspective, Nisa was born at 9:40 pm on December 16th.  The 17th is day one and we move on from there.  So we are looking at December 25th through January 1st.  As I review the various posts on Facebook I see faces of joy and innocence.  The fevers are a footnote to the joy of the season made even more joyful by the arrival of our miracle baby.  Allana even downplays the intensity of the fevers putting them at 102. By the night of the 31st they are spiking between 104 and 106, or maybe not wanting to worry her too much I fudge the numbers a little, I do not really remember..  A trip to the ER is only forestalled by the fact that the Ibuprofen is knocking them down into safer territory.  Still by New Years Day it was enough.  We called Allana’s OB office.  The doctor on call prescribes a heavy duty antibiotic and some anti nausea medicine to mitigate the side effects.  We start it right away, but of course she does not get better.  By January 2nd Allana is very sick.  The pain in her belly has gotten much worse.  We suspect a postpartum infection but don’t understand why the antibiotics do not help.  January 3rd is a Thursday.  We arrive at the OB office at 10:00 am and are ushered in to the examining room.  Our Nurse Practitioner listens patiently to the story, but as the physical exam progresses her demeanor changes.  There is an urgency to her motions as she feels the abnormal swelling in Allana’s belly, the tenderness and lumps at her joints.  I can feel my apprehension risings, but still there are so many pills, shots, treatments…a quick fix is in order…

“I have called the Flower Hospital, they are expecting her.”  What…we need to get some tests… “No we are admitting her.”  We have plans can it wait until Monday… “No, I want you there within 2 hours, go home settle the children and pick up what you need.  Once you are there they will begin running tests to see what is going on.”

FlowerJan3Well if you have to be in a hospital you might as well have a beautiful view and a beautiful woman to share it with.

It was only shortly after this picture was taken that I would hear the word “Leukemia” for the first time, mixed in with a couple of other potential causes for Allana’s test results.  If the fevers were the relentless clacking as the rollercoaster climbs the first rise, then this was the ominous pause before the first drop.  The ride would not stop for almost a year.  However while the emotions and physical aspects rode the speeding rails, God remained rock solid and faithful.  The outpouring of love from God’s people was incredible.  Even in the midst of the myriad of “spiritual” advisers who decried our lack of faith for continuing treatment or saw this as a sign of trouble in our walk with God; His love overwhelmed us. “Traveling deeper and deeper.  Closer closer to God”  Allana’s words would ring with truth in a way that neither of us could ever imagine.  Deeper and Deeper. Closer, closer to God…there was no where else to go.

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The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever .

So here is the reality of The Nineteen days.  We never know when we are living them out.  The Guidry’s are not really unique in this experience.  I would guess that everyone of you has walked through their own Nineteen Days, innocent of the storm that was just over the horizon.  The fact is that this was not my first journey through the Nineteen Days, but it is my first journey through them where I truly understood David’s heart as he penned this Psalm.  How we walk out the Nineteen Days is a function of this Psalm.  Sentence by sentence it is a guide written by a man who walked through his own Nineteen Days many times over.

He leads me beside quiet waters.”

I have only been white water rafting once and it was in the middle of a terrible summer drought so that what should have been a harrowing, exciting and somewhat dangerous adventure turned out to be more of a stroll in the park on a sunny day.  I know that this same river in other seasons has been dangerous to the point of claiming lives.  The rivers and streams of David’s Israel were just as changeable.  One minute they could be quiet streams bubbling along and then a cloud burst, perhaps not even in the immediate vicinity, could swell them to deadly proportions.  The “quiet waters” is probably a reference to the many small springs throughout the land of Israel.  Cool, clean and refreshing these springs were a safe place of comfort for thirsty sheep.  God desires to lead us in places of refreshing safety; paths of restoration and righteousness that fulfill His purpose for His people.   Enjoying the rest and nutrition of the green pastures and following our Great Shepherd beside the quiet refreshing, restoring waters of His grace and love are Spiritual disciplines.  There is the temptation during the Nineteen Days to believe that we do not need to walk in the Spirit.  Everything seems wonderful….nothing could happen to steal the joy and peace we feel right.  When we place ourselves in that frame of mind we begin to rely on the circumstances of our life for our well-being instead of our Great Shepherd.  David makes it clear that the pastures and waters are not about circumstances.  “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”  Righteousness and restoration are about our relationship with God.

Here is the hook.  Since the pasture and the waters are not about circumstances, we are no less resting in green pastures on day 20 than we are on day 2.  Just because we have a situational change (even a drastic one) the reality of the Spiritual disciplines of the pasture and the waters are not impacted whatsoever!  However it does not FEEL that way!  If we could just ride the whole way on our feeling of well-being then it would not involve Spiritual discipline.  When I was holding Nisa and rejoicing in well-being as Christmas approached and we felt gifted beyond belief the pasture and the waters seemed a no brainer.  When I sat on that hospital bed with my wife’s health failing beside me and heard the word’s, “I am sorry Allana has leukemia”  and then “I am sorry but the leukemia is Philadelphia positive, without a bone marrow transplant….” it would seem that everything had changed.  The pasture vanished, the waters became bitter….or had they. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”.  The valley of the shadow of death is about circumstance.  The verbs in Hebrew are all in the same tense (except for anointed).  They all indicate current and ongoing action.  The green pastures and still waters do not vanish because we are in the valley.  If we focus on His rod of guidance and his staff of protection the nourishing green grass of His Word and the refreshing waters of His Spirit remain as we walk the path of Righteousness because none of it depends on me or my circumstances.  It all depends on HIS NAME.  “And there is salvation in no * one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Enjoy the green pastures and still waters TODAY!

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Nineteen days,  who knew that nineteen days would ever come to be so meaningful to me. I am not going to digress to the back story that builds the significance of these days.  You can get a sense of the whole journey here.  It represents the realization of on incredible Miracle in our lives and the beginnings of another.  Day 1 will forever be a joyous day.  We will celebrate the birth of Nisa Faith year after year.  Day 1 is the culmination of nine months of a melange of concern, faith, fear, trust and surrender.  It was a day of arrival, of life, of completion.  It was a day of overt blessing.  December 16th of 2012 was a joyous day.  What Allana and I did not know, what we could not have known was that it was a day of provision, a day of strength given.  I would be lying if I said that I sat at this computer with a solid thesis or a planned allegory.  The reality is that this is my first opportunity to truly experience and embrace the nineteen days.  When they occurred they were simply another nineteen days in the Christmas season and in 2013 we were still too deeply embroiled the Allana’s battle against Leukemia and the recovery from the Bone Marrow Transplant for me to experience them the way that I am this year.

Day 1 was not without its difficulties, ask any mother and she will tell you that this particular joy comes with its own brand of pain.  Two dear friends who are expecting recently engaged in a tongue-in-cheek argument on Facebook concerning any man’s ability to truly conceive of the trials and eventual pains of pregnancy and birth.  I do not even pretend (or desire) to really understand, preferring to stand by Allana’s side than in her place for this particular event.  Chayla’s birth was a stroll in the park, Nisa’s was more like a kick in the gut and then a short sprint to the finish line (a race in which Nisa beat our doctor and surprised our nurse).  Still, there she was, perfect, beautiful, a miracle from the hand of God.  We basked in the joy of the now.  We knew it was day one, but not that there were only 18 days left to this paragraph of our lives.

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19

Good Morning.

This is just a little note to say that I will be posting the entire “Nineteen Days” series today.  It was 5 years ago that we were rejoicing over the birth of our Nisa Faith.  19 days later the world would come crashing down on us, changing our lives forever.

The Nineteen Days posts are reflections on this time in our lives.

Sam

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I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Philemon 1:4-7

Philemon,  I have to wonder if it is the least read of all the books of the New Testament.  It is unfortunate because it contains one of the most beautiful stories of redemption and reconciliation ever.  The story centers around three men, Paul the Apostle, Onesimus the slave and our subject today Philemon.  Philemon was a leader of the church that met in his home.  This was typical of the early church.  He was also a slave owner, specifically he owned a slave named Onesimus.

Strangely enough we are not going to focus on the theme of the letter, instead we are going to take a quick look at the man and the qualities that I find qualify him as a hupomone man.

People pray for him – Specifically in this case Paul.  However if the Apostle Paul remembered Philemon in his prayers I choose to assume that others were also. A true hupmone man inspires prayer by the example that he leads.

Paul’s words are very specific here.  “I always thank God AS I remember you…”  We might make the mistake of thinking that Paul here is referring to a prayer of thanksgiving for this wonderful man of God.  There would be nothing wrong with this but it is not what he is saying.  Paul is praying for Philemon as he continues his hupomone ministry in Colosse.

The placement of this phrase immediately following the greeting speaks of the importance that he knows Philemon places on this subject.  The hupomone man values prayer.  He values a life of constant communication with God (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and in this particular case he values the prayers of others on his behalf.

People talk about him – People talk about the hupomone man.  They don’t talk about the amazing “things” he has accomplished.  They don’t talk about all the books he has written.  They don’t even talk about the incredible ministry that he has built.  “I hear about your love for God’s holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus…”  They talk about his love for people and his faith in Jesus.  Now don’t get me wrong all of the hupomone men that we have discussed over the last few years in this blog were men of action, but it is the heart and soul that defines hupomone, not the results of that heart and soul.

He is willing to collaborate – Partnership comes naturally to the hupomone man. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. The Holy Spirit cultivates collaboration among God’s people, very often among people very dissimilar or with competing priorities.  Consider the struggles of Paul and Barnabas, the motley crew of the twelve disciples.  Jonathon’s future clashed directly with the anointing on David.  The spies at Jericho and Rahab had so little in common yet together they brought down a city and brought forth the Messiah!  These collaborations serve to deepen our understanding of the faith.

He cultivates joy and encouragement – If the joy of the Lord is his strength, the hupomone man likes to spread his strength around. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement. It is the essence of the Holy Spirit flowing out of him to those around that extinguishes fear with encouragement that is not tied to circumstances but to the source of all hupomone, God Himself.

He refreshes – The word that Paul uses here is the same word that is used to quote Jesus when he said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.  The hupomone man is quite simply allowing the very basic qualities of his Lord and Savior flow out of him.  He calls out to those around him to cease their futile labors. Anapaow is an emphasized form of the Greek word for pause.  Literally it is an “up pause”.  The presence of a hupomone man brings “up pause”.

Paul gives us a snapshot of the hupomone man.  It is the mirror for Philemon to look into as he stepped into a personal and cultural challenge.  Onesimus, his slave/property had run away.  Potentially he had stolen from Philemon as well.  Somehow this run-away slave met up with Paul in Rome.  Onesimus became a brother in the faith and told Paul what had occurred.  Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon instigating a journey in faith and hupomone living for both of them.  Scripture leaves us to our own interpretation of the outcome of the journey, but church tradition tells us that some years later Philemon and Onesimus are martyred side by side proclaiming the Gospel message and establishing them both as hupomone men.

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