Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Guest Post: Bend in the Road, Part 2

I found this sermon while surfing and wrote Pastor Boerger for permission to share this message that he preached May 27, 2007. Pastor Boerger's wife Vonda had breast cancer 7 years earlier and she had just received the devastating diagnosis of the cancer returning as non treatable bone cancer. Pastor Boerger is the pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Texas.

BEND IN THE ROAD 2 Corinthians 12:7-11

Disruptive Moments:

1) Have Purpose: 2 Cor. 12:7 [is writtne] so I don’t get a big head. Paul had seen the glories of heavens as no man had ever seen before. Can you imagine if that had happened now, his press agent reporting, “come hear the man, the only man that has ever seen heaven and come back to talk about it. But God knew it could be his downfall. So God sent a problem into his life - that he not be exalted above measure - that was the purpose

2) Involve Pain or “thorn in the flesh” (Lit.: stake) Infirmity, reproach and distress. Often disruptive moments are quite painful! Some suggest Paul's "thorn in the flesh" may have been eye trouble, or epilepsy, hysteria, gastritis, leprosy, deafness. Williams Ramsy said malaria. My studied opinion? NOBODY knows! It applies to all of us. Maybe a bankruptcy, or family breakdown, or loss of a job.

No pain? - maybe you need to check about your relationship with God - Heb 12 talks about discipline comes to those considered children. No poverty, no disease, no pain - NOT from the word of God! But God has a purpose. When you feel the pain you can know you are in the family. And God is in the pain - the walk - with us. After all Jesus, God’s son understands pain better than any of us...

3) Provision - Three times Paul asked for his thorn to be “taken away”. [Instead Paul wrote], “my grace is sufficient...” In midst of pain, the Lord came down and walked with Paul in the bend in the road so he would not lose his way. Three times I did that, and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”

John 15 - Jesus is the vine dresser. He prunes in order for there to be fruit.
“The Vine dresser is never nearer the branches than when he is pruning them” Out of that pruning comes greater holiness.
–when Vonda first got cancer, I remember the words of one of our members, “God loves Vonda far more than any of us could.”

4) Product - What is God producing? God says, “Your weakness will serve to glorify Jesus in such a way that nobody can explain that in human terms. Paul, you will be made different - becoming a receptacle for the power of God.” Paul was like a lot men, thinking he was indestructible. How can you have “power” when you are weak?

For Vonda, she’s always been a strong lady - never sick, never even a tooth ache. And now - for me I can’t begin to imagine being a pastor and father without Vonda at my side. You want to talk about weakness - I readily admit my emotional dependancy on my wife; But God is waiting to walk into the empty place and fill us with his power and strength.

5) Perspective - Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer Paul was saying, “I will boast in my infirmities, now looking back, if I could go back I wouldn’t - I glory in it. What God has done in me is amazing”.
- well I am not at this point! Job cursed the day he was born - even wanted professional cursers to curse it. Can’t say I feel any different about that Wednesday morning...But hopefully later I can!

I don’t want to despise the chasening. Parallel in Heb 12:5 writer says, “don’t make light of the discipline” learn from it. Don’t hang head and give up. V 11 - to those trained by it produces a harvest. “I don’t want to waste this suffering...”
Now, you see my wife has terminal cancer - but friends, we’re all terminal! So we can spend the next days our married life dragging around moaning and groaning or we can live life for all it’s worth.

I suppose I could write a book over the things not to say when people are going through rough times. I still remember some of the things that folks shared when Vonda first got breast cancer 7 years ago: “I had this friend who had breast cancer, but oh, well she died, but I had another friend who had CA, but oh she died too.... (OK, anything positive, anyone?) I wasn’t too sure what to think about that - I just know when she left I wasn’t too encouraged!

So we’re going to laugh more, worry less. Listen folks, you can’t take life too serious. You will not get out of it alive! Now you might think a funeral is the wrong place to laugh. I’ll tell you, when you are a child of God and know where you’ll spend eternity there never is a wrong time to laugh. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer

Don’t be discouraged with those disruptions. To those trained by the disruptions and have learned from them you can make it! Once again, we are finding that we read the Bible in a different way. We pray in a different way. We see life differently. We’re again reminded not to sweat the small stuff - and certainly reminded that most everything really is small stuff.


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