A Matter of Faith – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Wed, 06 May 2020 16:09:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 http://www.pagosasun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-sun-logo-512x512-1-32x32.jpg A Matter of Faith – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com 32 32 A Matter of Faith: A prayer: The power to live dangerously http://www.pagosasun.com/a-matter-of-faith-a-prayer-the-power-to-live-dangerously/ Thu, 07 May 2020 21:00:08 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=202917 By Sami Fortin
Special to The PREVIEW


If we ask anything according to your will, your word says you will give it to us. My greatest plea is for those who don’t trust in you, yet. Open your words of truth to them so that they can overcome the lies of the enemy. “For you so loved the world (as a whole and as individuals) that you gave your only son, that whosoever believes in you, shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

 You made the first move and showed your love for us by doing something no one else was able to do, for you alone are Holy. I love that you took my place, I should have died on that old cross, but you came, even before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye, and died to show how much you love those you created, and how you long for us to follow you.

Not because of what we can do, but so you can show your glory and power through us from heaven to earth. Lord, you are majestic in all the earth and nothing is impossible with you. Teach us that we can do nothing (lasting) without you. Show us the power in your word and give us the desire to soak in it, making it a part of every breathing moment. 

Keep bringing things into our lives that are too hard for us to handle on our own. Help us to take all our guilt and shame and nail it to the cross, where you died and bled for us. Hold us close to your heart that we might hear it beating for us. May we slow down enough and be quiet enough to hear your still and quiet voice. When your Holy Spirit comes, wrap us up with garments of salvation and array us in robes of your righteousness as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels. In the midst of our trouble we cry out to you, for you are where our help comes from.

Lord, help people to know that you did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of a sound mind and self-control. When we ask you into our lives, you bring such peace. Let people hunger and thirst for this righteousness, for you have promised they will be filled.

We have everything we need when we’re in your house. You give us power over the enemy and show us that we don’t have to think negative thoughts. We can take them captive and change what we’re thinking when we know we have a choice.

This love you’ve given us covers every area of our life so that when we start living for you instead of ourselves we find that our greatest joy comes from knowing you, and that you give us your strength. We can say count me in, whatever comes, because we know we will be able to handle it with you. We’re all of a sudden not afraid of death or trials or hardships, pain, anxiety, depression. Once we’ve died to sin the only way left is forward, through the valley onto the mountaintops and sometimes back into the valley, but you are ever with us, never to leave us or forget about us, even for a moment. I love that you’d rather die than live without us and your desire is that none should perish. 

Help those that do know you to so shine and be so filled others would want to know what we have. Let us share our testimonies of all you’ve done for us. May we spend our days praising your name for coming to earth to show us the way. In so doing we defeat the enemy of our soul. Give each one of us the power to live dangerously for you.

In Jesus’ mighty, powerful name, amen.


A Matter of Faith: A rainbow’s promise http://www.pagosasun.com/a-matter-of-faith-a-rainbows-promise/ Sun, 26 Apr 2020 11:00:52 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=202024 By Jan Davis
Special to The PREVIEW

The social media post asked homeowners to hang a picture of a rainbow in the front window of their residence, a virtual scavenger hunt as children searched every window and hoped to discover the rainbow first. 

I hurried to make my own. Children held the hands of parents and pointed to the different windows as they strolled by. The rainbows even caught the attention of adults as they walked their dogs. A part of me wanted to display a sketch from every windowpane. A reminder of God’s eternal promise.

When God told Noah to build the ark as protection from a great rain, no one comprehended the significance of this event or how it would shift the course of history. Neighbors mocked him, yet he continued to work day after day. When the barrage of water came, Noah and his family remained safe. Life inside the ark became the new norm as death raged outside.

Today, we face an invisible enemy. Our world is confronted with a pandemic. Most Americans have never suffered at the hands of a nemesis of this magnitude in their lifetime. 

The United States shifted into panic mode as shoppers dashed to stores and emptied shelves of nonperishable items. A shortage of toilet paper caused major anxiety for the general public. Why, no one understood. But the actions of society driven by fear became irrational. Chaos and confusion bred greed and created hoarding. Mankind switched to survival tactics.

Nothing in the past prepared us for this plague. The scare of the coronavirus rocked our world. We adapted to change and realigned our priorities. Individuals displayed concern for families. Jobs hung in the balance and markets bordered on recession. Citizens sacrificed for the greater good and learned to live with less and appreciate more. 

As death tolls began to rise, the church left the building and became a feasible force in their communities. A rainbow in the midst of the rain. Christians focused on the needs of others and volunteers from every walk of life stepped forward to help. 

Christ remains our ark, our help and refuge in the midst of this storm. He hears our prayers and speaks, “Be still and know, I am God.” We experience peace and discover rest in the midst of the turmoil. We receive supernatural strength and safety from the storm in Jesus. We cling to God’s everlasting pledge to never leave or forsake us.

We give from our overflow of time spent with Christ to a frightened world. We offer encouragement to the hopeless. 

Great scientists, along with everyday people, hurry to discover a vaccination designed to protect people in the future. The aftermath of this tragic season will end, and life will return to a resemblance of normal. But until then, we hold to God’s eternal covenant and find shelter in him. 

After restrictions lift and we walk out of our homes to shake hands with neighbors, hug friends and kiss family without worry of contamination, don’t forget to pause and reflect on lessons realized. We are stronger together. Then look for the rainbow, God’s timeless token of his goodness and faithfulness. 

Because of Jesus, this, too, shall pass.

 “The rainbow shall be in the cloud and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” -— Genesis 9:16 (NKJV).

I love you, but Jesus loves you more.


A Matter of Faith: Christ turns our watered-down lives into wine http://www.pagosasun.com/a-matter-of-faith-christ-turns-our-watered-down-lives-into-wine/ Thu, 16 Apr 2020 22:23:09 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=201614 By Jan Davis
Special to The PREVIEW
The groom stood in front of his beautiful bride and held up his glass. So many thoughts went through his mind as he gazed into his wife’s face. The special day he had anticipated finally arrived. Their first act as a married couple — the bridegroom wanted to acknowledge his father.
Earlier in the day, the father presented sealed documents which transferred ownership of his corporation to his only son. Tonight, he mingled among the guests to assure the glasses were kept full and everyone enjoyed the occasion. The meal began to wind down and time came for the groom to toast the evening.
“Thank you for coming today.” The young man waited until the applause subsided.
With only a few bottles left in the kitchen, the caterers hurried to find others. “I would like to recognize my father who made all this possible.” He waved his hand to take in the harpists and the finest of china and silver scattered on white linen tablecloths. The fragrance of fresh flowers lingered in the air.
The young husband stretched out his hand in an invitation for his young wife to join him. Hand in hand, they offered a tribute. “Thank you, Father, for your love, commitment and devotion to family.”
“Cheer, cheer” rose from the crowd.
The groom whispered in his father’s ear. “This bottle surpasses all others served tonight. The perfect way to begin our life together. You thought of everything.”
A similar story in the Bible records the first miracle performed by Jesus. The empty jars lined the counter as the festivities wound down. The mother of Jesus summoned him to the kitchen. A simple story on the surface. To everyone’s surprise, expensive wine capped off the evening. But the truth hidden within deserves a deeper look.
Before Christ, our mere existence resembled empty ceremonial pots. Our noble intentions lacked depth. Jesus took our watered-down lives and replaced them with the robust and richness of his Holy Spirit.
From His endless warehouse, he poured into us the intensity of His love, and the fullness of His goodness. Filled with His grace, we experience the side effects of His mercy.
Sometime in the future, Christ will usher his Bride into the presence of His Heavenly Father. God will seat her at the wedding banquet and promise to keep her goblet full of the new wine of His Holy Spirit.
“The master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now.” ­— John 2:6 (NKJV).
Because of Jesus, we hold in our hearts an invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
I love you, but Jesus loves you more.


A Matter of Faith: If you think you had a bad week http://www.pagosasun.com/a-matter-of-faith-if-you-think-you-had-a-bad-week/ Thu, 09 Apr 2020 21:00:25 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=201032 By Jan Davis
Special to The PREVIEW
Mark walked in the back door, threw the dirty ball cap on the bench and kicked off his work boots. “I need a warm shower and a cold glass of iced tea. Friday didn’t come soon enough.”
Mark let the hot water roll down his back as thoughts of the week surfaced. Things started out well enough on Monday, but went downhill in a hurry. The new contract looked great on paper. Everything spelled out to the “t” and a tight timetable meant things needed to go as planned.
The house inspection confirmed termites in the support beams under the front porch. A colossal hit to the budget.
Tuesday morning, a fight broke out on the work site and a couple of work hands received their final paycheck. With a shortage of manpower, the schedule took a major blow.
On Wednesday afternoon, a contractor botched an order. Delays pushed projects back even further. Time became a commodity of high demand.
By Thursday, Mark’s nerves were paper thin. He put out one fire only to have another ignite somewhere else. Hourly workers showed up to work and the time clock ticked off the minutes, while they waited on deliveries. Suppliers delivered as promised, but workers goofed off. One step forward, two steps backward.
Friday finally arrived. Payday for contractors, laborers and his own cut of the draw. The paycheck almost made up for the headaches. He put his truck in reverse and backed out the driveway. Blind-sided, Mark hit his breaks too late. The vehicle came out of nowhere. The police officer seemed nice enough, but the ticket stung. The perfect ending to a terrible week.
Mark stretched out in his favorite recliner and sipped the cold drink as he switched on the flat screen. The local weatherman smiled into the camera. “Good Friday and Easter promises to be warm and sunny. Great day for Easter egg hunts.”
“Good Friday. Hah, not from where I sit.” Mark sighed. As he relaxed his mind wondered back to last Sunday’s message and the pastor’s remarks.
“If you think you had a rough day or week, think about Christ’s final days. Nothing compares to his sufferings, physically and mentally before his crucifixion.”
The preacher’s voice resonated in Mark’s mind. “Betrayed by Judas for 30 pieces of silver. Denied by Peter three times. His best friends, co-workers and relatives ran to the bushes terrified as armed guards dragged Jesus off.”
The fake trial put things into motion. No one came to his defense to testify of his innocence.
The various legal institutions paraded Jesus before the crowds as they spit in his face and ridiculed him.
The punishment intensified. Ordered by the authorities to be beaten, soldiers displayed no mercy as they laid stripe after stripe upon his back. The angry crowd yelled “Give us Barabbas and crucify Jesus.” The final verdict — guilty, punishable by death.
The pastor continued, “Condemned to die on a cross, crucified for our sins.”
This week proved a real test to Mark’s walk with Christ. Truth, he failed miserably. He bowed his head and asked forgiveness for his crabby attitude. In the stillness, the weariness lifted.
“The story doesn’t end with his death. After three days, Jesus walked out of that tomb. Because of his resurrection, we received the promise of eternal life.” The minister paused. “Let that sink in.”
“Because He lives, we are also assured of an abundant life. Why wait for heaven to enjoy the benefits?”
Mark thought about the words of an old hymn, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.” Jesus paid the ultimate price and sacrificed his life for mine.
In retrospect, Mark’s week didn’t look so bad after all. Because of Jesus, life was better than he deserved.
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” —Isaiah 53:5.
I love you, but Jesus loves you more.

A Matter of Faith: No ordinary quake http://www.pagosasun.com/a-matter-of-faith-no-ordinary-quake/ Wed, 08 Apr 2020 11:00:53 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=200608 By Jan Davis
Special to The PREVIEW
Bev loved her little family and squeezed as much time together as feasible on the weekends. This evening, they planned to enjoy the teenagers’ soccer game in the park.
After a quick Saturday lunch, she laid her two youngsters down for naps.
Her husband, Jeff, headed back outside to finish yard work. The distant hum of his mower broke the silence in the quiet neighborhood.
Bev dipped her hands into the warm soapy water in the kitchen sink. An anxious sensation she couldn’t quite put her finger on created an uneasiness in her abdomen. Lost in self-examination, she gazed out the window.
Bev’s mind wandered back to last Sunday morning. Burrowed beneath the big comforter, the family had snuggled and giggled. Their safe haven protected from the world. Guilt tried to sneak in and spoil the memory.
Sam and Claire loved to attend Children’s Chapel and often begged to go. Sometimes she and Jeff put forth the effort, loaded everyone into the car and traveled the short distance to church. Bev knew church was important, but she cherished their family time.
Her mom dropped less-than-subtle hints about the benefits of church each time they talked. Miles apart, Mom set aside time for long conversations. She always managed to put a positive spin on life’s unpredictable challenges.
The floor shifted, the house shook and dishes rattled inside the cabinet. Bev snapped out of her brooding. An earthquake.
She grabbed the towel off the counter to dry her hands as she raced into the living room. With a quick toss, the towel drifted to the floor as she maneuvered around fallen lamps and shattered family photos.
Her head began to spin and a fit of nausea rose to her throat as she darted down the hall. Focused on the safety of her babies, Bev’s arms ached to hold and console them.
She opened the door and quickly scanned the room. Toys scattered on the floor and books, once straight in a bookcase, laid half-opened on the carpet. She held her breath and listened for a small whimper or whisper. Where are they? Maybe in the closets or under their beds. Nowhere. Vanished. Gone.
She raced back through the house and yelled “Sam, Claire,” as panic deep inside her chest began to surface. Maybe they snuck outdoors. She reached the front door as Jeff bolted in.
Fear gripped Bev’s heart. “I can’t find Sam and Claire.”
“Pray they didn’t sneak out.” Wide-eyed Jeff waved his hands in a frantic attempt to describe the destruction. “Power lines mingled with downed trees up and down the block. The erratic beep and racket of alarms pierce the air. Wrecked vehicles on the street, drivers missing, while passengers stand around in shock. Unbelievable. This was no ordinary quake. Something major caused this damage.”
Bev rushed to retrieve her cellphone from the kitchen island. She needed to talk to Mom. Deep within she realized even if by some miracle the phones connected, her Mom would not pick up. Nothing. Dead silence.
“Mom warned me, but I never took her serious.” She began to sob, not from fear, but grief created by a tremendous loss.
“Let’s go. We’ll knock on every door till we find them. Someone knows something.” Jeff reached for her hand.
Bev stared at him with a crazed look on her face. “I know.”
“Talk to me, Bev. Help me out. Now is not the time for riddles. If you know, then tell me.”
“Jesus came back. He took the kids and Mom to heaven and left us stuck here.” Bev crushed her head into Jeff’s chest and sobbed.
“No.” Jeff shook his head as the weight of the words hit him and he collapsed on the couch.
“I’m clueless where to start. How do we pick up the pieces without Claire and Sam?” Jeff held his head in his hands and wept.
Bev sensed a small shred of hope as she walked to their bedroom and retrieved the Bible stored in her closet, a present from her mom on their wedding day.
She hurried back to where Jeff still sat motionless. “We start here. We ask God to forgive us, to help us through the hard times and survive one day at a time.” She pressed the priceless gift to her chest. “The answers were here all along; we chose to ignore them.”
Jeff, unable to speak, stared at the Bible and nodded his head. They sat together on the couch, held hands and bowed their heads in prayer.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” ­—John 3:16 (NKJV).
Because of Jesus’ love and forgiveness, we stand poised to spend eternity with him.
I love you, but Jesus loves you more.

A Matter of Faith: Black or white: the only choices http://www.pagosasun.com/a-matter-of-faith-black-or-white-the-only-choices/ Sat, 21 Mar 2020 11:00:42 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=199636 By Mike Davis
Special to The PREVIEW
A famous athlete gave an interview about his faith journey. He uses the term binary to describe Christianity. This means only two choices, black or white, with no gray. He may be onto something.
Binary is hidden everywhere in plain sight. Every piece of information on the planet can be stored in a computer by a combination of ones and zeros. Other examples include day and night, plus and minus, on and off, and dozens more.
He believes Christianity is all about rules, structure and traditions. Follow the rules and they welcome you. Black and white are the only choices. He may be right.
Churches have strayed from the teachings of Christ. Jesus taught inclusion, not exclusion. Church was held in people’s homes as he shared a meal. He sat around a table with prostitutes, beggars, tax collectors and other outcasts of society.
The disciples asked Jesus what laws needed to be followed for their sins to be forgiven. He mentioned only two. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. The disciples knew Jesus asked the impossible. A blood sacrifice needed to be made on their behalf or they would be banished to hell. Jesus became that sacrifice.
The athlete did not believe a loving God would send most of His creation to a fiery hell. Let’s agree with him and create our own god. Here are some options:
• No god, heaven or hell exist. Ignore all the signs of a created universe by a supreme being. Atoms decided to multiply and mutate to become an individual being with billions of cells.
• A god who only lets good people into heaven. All others cease to exist. By what standard does this god judge? Make up our own so we can be self-righteous and judge others.
• A god who lets everyone into heaven when they die. Regardless how wicked, selfish or prideful. This god turns everyone into a loving, generous and humble person. We live in tranquility throughout eternity.
• A god who creates a universe where no good or evil exists. People are puppets or choices are limited to the ones he gives us.
• Or, a God who created us with a free will to make our own choices and accept the consequences. One who only asks us to love Him and others as ourselves. God would have a trial, be our judge and find us guilty. There would be a punishment so severe no one would choose it if there was an option.
Is it possible to please God if we can’t obey His laws or rules? If good deeds aren’t enough, what is? How do we avoid hell? Believe in the gospel message. Jesus was sent by God to save mankind from their sins. Trust Jesus is who He says He is. He died on a cross, was resurrected on the third day and sits at the Father’s right hand.
Sounds rather binary. Live life our way and go to hell or believe in Jesus and go to heaven. A relationship with Jesus does not make us perfect in this life, but transforms our hearts into a more compassionate one. The choice may be black or white, but with Jesus in our hearts we view the world in living color, everyone a unique creation of God with the need of a savior.
“Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” — Romans 10:9 (NKJV).
That’s all it takes.

A Matter of Faith: The immigrant and the squeezebox http://www.pagosasun.com/a-matter-of-faith-the-immigrant-and-the-squeezebox/ Sat, 14 Mar 2020 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=199219 By Joyce Holdread
Special to The PREVIEW
Nguyen Da Minh sat amidst his Vietnamese classmates, his head inclined downward, shoulders slumped, gaze listless. It was obvious to me he didn’t want to be there, but his sponsor and the parish priest had encouraged him to attend the free English classes at the local community college. He had only been in the United States for three months.
This was my first ESL (English as a second language) class. All the students had recently arrived from Vietnam and were adjusting to life in a totally foreign situation. Many had lost everything and some had barely gotten out of Vietnam with their families intact. Da Minh had escaped with no family, but with vivid memories of horrific events he had witnessed. His despondency was palpable and I longed to do something to help him connect with this new reality. The other students were struggling, but slowly gaining a basic proficiency in their new language. Da Minh sat and stared, sometimes on the verge of total breakdown. Any effort to form new words resulted in a tongue so tangled or taut he could emit only syllabic gasps of nothingness.
“Oh Lord,” I prayed, “please show me something I can do to help him.”
Not long afterward, a colleague told me she had learned from the parish priest that Da Minh played the accordion for Mass in Vietnam and that this was something he sorely missed. Now, I had a plan.
“God, I’m just a poor student, barely able to support myself, but you have deep pockets, so I’m asking you for an accordion. Music can be so healing … and it’s non-verbal.”
One night at dinner, I shared my concern for Da Minh with Len and Pat, the couple from whom I was renting a room. Pat was a Meals on Wheels deliverer in the local community and had been taking midday meals to a retired accordion teacher.
“I’ll ask Henrietta if she might have an extra accordion she wouldn’t mind parting with. She doesn’t teach any longer, so she may.” My host mom winked in our new conspiracy.
A few days later, I came in the back door and spied a beautiful accordion perched on the kitchen table. I looked in wonder at Pat.
“Henrietta had this extra accordion and she doesn’t want anything for it.” Pat smiled, bright as the sun’s rays streaming through the window.
I lugged the squeezebox to school the next day, but had to leave it in the ESL office before I rushed off to biology class. I asked my colleague to make sure that Da Minh got it before he left that afternoon. When I inquired later, she told me a classmate had helped him understand that the accordion was for him. He left with a look of astonishment and the slightest upward stretch of his mouth.
A small miracle, but for Da Minh, a tender sign of God’s love, and for me, a big building block in the edifice of my faith.

A Matter of Faith: Take my hand http://www.pagosasun.com/a-matter-of-faith-take-my-hand/ Sat, 22 Feb 2020 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=197953 By Allyn Schuyler
Special to The PREVIEW
When I was in elementary school, I read a story in a children’s publication while in a doctor’s waiting room. People my age will remember this colorful little magazine because they were all over any public place where children had to sit still.
To the best of my memory, the story was about a little boy who had been hit by a car. He languished in a hospital in critical condition and heard the salvation story from a visitor. Before he went to sleep that night, he asked the nurse to prop his forearm up with pillows so if Jesus passed by his bed, he would not be overlooked.
As you may have guessed, the boy went to heaven that night. My little girl’s heart and mind were severely affected by this story. Death, and all its seriousness, shook me to my core. I never forgot the impact this story had on me and can still picture the small, limp wrist in the sweet illustration.
Fast forward years later as I left a swimming pool with my precious 4-year-old boy. Preoccupied with looking around, he distractedly stepped off the edge into the deep end and down he went. I was right beside him when it happened and watched him bob right back up like a cork. I reached down and grabbed his little upstretched hand and pulled him, wide-eyed and sputtering, back to safety.
Why I thought of these two recollections recently, I cannot say. But as I reflected on these memories and my life, I saw a connection with raised hands.
When I worship, I often find my hands extended toward the sky. In this posture, I sense the Light of Heaven shining on my face and I focus on my closeness to God. I reach out, as if any moment He might clasp my hands and draw me up.
Most of the time my hands are lifted up in praise, but there have also been times I reached out to the Lord in anguish.
In my long, full and blessed life, I have experienced many trials. Difficulties I felt it impossible to recover from. Suffering where I was drowning in despair. Distress so desperate I couldn’t even find the words to pray.
But, while often I could not remember the appropriate scripture, or found myself unable to share my pain with my family or closest friends, I did remember to reach out to Jesus. And never once did He pass me by. Never once did He not snatch me back to safety. Never once did He fail to take my hand and draw me nearer to Him — again.
Such love. Such a Lord. Such a Savior.
Psalm 63:4: “So I will bless You as long as I live;
“I will lift up my hands in Your name.”

A saint in God’s Kingdom http://www.pagosasun.com/a-saint-in-gods-kingdom/ Sat, 15 Feb 2020 12:00:44 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=197326 By Gregg Heid
Special to The PREVIEW
As I read my year-end edition of World Magazine, I was surprised by the obituaries of 100 well-known people who died in 2019. Some of the famous athletes who passed away were Bart Starr, Bill Buckner, John Havlicek and Don Newcombe. Actors and musicians who left us were Diane Carroll, Carol Channing, Ginger Baker, Tim Conway and Doris Day. Fashion designers and billionaires who died were Gloria Vanderbilt, Lee Iacocca, T. Boone Pickens, Ross Perot and David Koch. John Paul Stevens, a Supreme Court justice; Elijah Cummings, a Democratic congressman; and Herman Wouk, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, were also on the list. These deaths are a drop in the bucket compared to the 2,814,013 (USAfacts.org) deaths in 2019 in the United States.
One death stands out for me: Don Wilhelmi. Not many will recognize his name, but those of us who knew him will never forget him.
Before I met Don, he was a hunk of a man, strong and athletic, a skilled craftsman and a savvy businessman. I saw a picture of him when he played football as a 250-pound linebacker. He had paintings and carvings in his room and pictures of furniture and cabinets he made in his earlier years.
I knew him the last five years of his life, when he was 100 pounds lighter, walking with a cane and barely able to talk or eat. He had a tumor removed from his brain in 2010. As the years went by, he lost more weight and was confined to a wheelchair. He had to be careful not to run over the tube that brought him oxygen from a machine in the corner of his room. He ate through a feeding tube inserted in his stomach and spoke in a whisper. He suffered from constant headaches and pain throughout his body. He fought off pneumonia four times; the fifth time ended his life.
Not many people visited Don. He lost contact with friends and acquaintances from when he worked, so he spent long hours playing Scrabble or solitaire on the computer until his hands shook so much he couldn’t control the mouse. His last days were spent watching car shows and home repair programs on TV.
When not in the nursing home or hospital, caregivers came to his house during the day while his wife, Julie, worked. At night, after Julie went to bed, he was alone in his room. Alone in his wheelchair and not able to care for his own basic needs caused anxiety attacks. He hated being a burden to others, especially Julie.
I have never met a man who suffered more and complained less. Life robbed him of his wealth, prestige, power and strength.
But in exchange, God gave him faith, humility, honesty and wisdom. My weekly encounters with Don felt like an encounter with the living Christ. He listened with an open heart, spoke little, but every word he spoke was filled with wisdom.
When I left Don sitting in his wheelchair, I was thankful I wasn’t that bad off. He always said, “God had a purpose for me this way.” Those words gave me a spiritual and emotional uplift. I’m richer for the treasures he shared. His life points to Heaven and eternity with no more suffering, no more tears and no more isolation.
Now Don is more important than any person on earth. Jesus said, “No man born of woman was greater than John the Baptist, yet the least in the Kingdom of Heaven was greater than him.” His faithfulness through it all makes him a saint in God’s Kingdom.

A Matter of Faith: Get into some good trouble http://www.pagosasun.com/a-matter-of-faith-get-into-some-good-trouble/ Sat, 08 Feb 2020 12:00:47 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=196833 By Emrys Tyler
Special to The PREVIEW
Early in his ministry, Jesus returns to his home town to teach. He announces that he has come on behalf of God to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed. People get very excited about this. Then Jesus warns his hearers that they will not actually accept his teaching and that these good gifts of God will be delivered to people outside the traditional boundaries of God’s blessing.
At this point, the people become incensed at Jesus and attempt to throw him off a cliff. Jesus escapes, but his ministry begins to rankle the authorities more and more until they finally have him executed. (Read this episode in The Gospel According to Luke, chapter 4, verses 16 and following.) As a result of his prophetic challenge, Jesus spends the rest of his earthly life in varying degrees of trouble.
In February 2018, NPR’s Story Corp broadcast an interview with John Lewis, congressman from Georgia and iconic leader of the American Civil Rights movement. During his decades fighting for civil rights for blacks in the U.S., Lewis was beaten, arrested and jailed, along with thousands of others. His mother, meanwhile, would tell him over and over again just to stay out of trouble. Lewis would respond that he was getting “into good trouble, necessary trouble.” He still tells people, “We need to get in good trouble.”
What’s “good trouble?” Trouble that comes to us because we stand up and speak out against that which is “not right, not fair, not just,” Lewis said. “Get in good trouble.”
Jesus got himself into trouble by taking grace and mercy outside the bounds. He offered forgiveness to sinners and belonging to outsiders. He challenged unjust leadership and institutions. He did good works even when the legal experts said it was wrong. These are the best reasons to get into trouble.
It is easy to stay out of trouble: to stay quiet, keep our heads down and mind our own business. It often looks like prosperity and comfort come most to those who just stay out of trouble. I suppose Jesus could have stayed out of trouble.
But love demands good trouble, just as justice demands the nonviolent work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Lewis and so many others. Jesus’ announcement of grace to the outsider confronts us with the question: Are we getting into good trouble?
The people around Jesus’ country needed the good news that Jesus offered. They needed to be invited into the reign of God that Jesus brought with him. They needed mercy, healing and justice, even if it meant disturbing the comfort of the people in a privileged position. Who around you needs mercy, healing and justice? Who needs someone to speak up for her, to stand up for him, to bring justice to them? Who loses out when everything just stays the way it is?
Answer those questions and then get into some good trouble.