Monday, March 31- More Questions Than Answers

     Today is a…BIG…day. To be honest, it’s
BEEN a big day for a while. But now, it is even…BIGGER! You see, I am in St.
Louis, MO as you read this, in the midst of “medical stuff”. Originally, I had:
2 different doctor visits, 1 round of lab work, a CPAP evaluation (checking to
see if I am ready for general anesthetic) and a CT scan. But last Friday…that
changed.

     A week ago yesterday, after our “early”
worship service, my wife said, “Are you OK?” After questioning why she asked,
she said that my mouth 
didn’t seem to be working right. One of the concerns
with this tumor in my head is that it will impact the 7
th Cranial
Nerve- the one that controls the right side of the face AND the sense of taste.
Well, after she asked me that, I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror-
I was indeed experiencing partial paralysis on the right side of my face. In
addition, my sense of taste is nearly shot.

     After church, I called and talked to the
neurosurgeon on call at Barnes Hospital/Washington University School of
Medicine. (MY neurosurgeon is part of that group.) He said that he was
reluctant to prescribe anything for me but encouraged me to go and get checked
out for a possible stroke. My local doctor confirmed- no stroke.

     After talking to all 3 of my doctors’
offices (ENT, oncologist and neurosurgeon), it was decided that the CT scan scheduled
for today needed to be moved up. Done. It then needed to be overnighted to STL.
Done. After reading the scan, it was determined that the tumor 
hadn’t changed,
but was “more cystic”. OK- but what does “cystic” mean? It means there is a
fluid build-up going on. That would explain both the localized facial swelling and
the paralysis symptoms. The question is- what’s causing the fluid?

     So, here is the NEW schedule for today.
9:30AM- Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. He will evaluate me and decide if the
antibiotics he put me on last week are helping or not. If he feels I am making
progress, then I will head to Barnes Hospital and have an MRI, blood work and a
visit with the oncologist. Then…I will go home and plan for surgery in a few
weeks. If, however, he decides that I am NOT making progress but instead
getting worse, he will admit me to that very same Barnes Hospital and…the
surgery will happen!

     You might imagine that this uncertainty has
caused a lot of stress in our family. My son has a LOT of big school-related events
coming up. Easter is almost here. And I am responsible for a vibrant, growing
church that takes a great deal of time and energy. And SOMETIME in the next 6
weeks, I will have a surgery that will put me out of commission for 2 months.
AND, that “sometime” could be this week!

     Do I want to have surgery this week? No.
Do I want to have surgery in 6 weeks? No. Do I want to have surgery at ALL? No.
But…it IS going to happen. No other medical treatment has worked. So what am I
left with? I am left with the promise of God. I am left with His sure presence
in difficult times. I am left with the fact that He will continue to walk this
journey with me. And I cling steadfast to the knowledge that He is good, all
the time!

    Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a
blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with
Jesus!

     Tomorrow- The 411

Sunday, March 30- Wayward Son

     We used to have a VERY large black German Shepherd named Bud. Bud was known to run off if he got loose, so we tried to keep that from happening. We had a walk-out basement and that was the door we would use to put him out. There was a silicon-covered braided-steel cable in the back yard screwed into the ground. (He was a STRONG dog!) We would snap that to his collar and let him out in the back yard to…well…do his business! 
     One nice summer night, I put him out on the lead and went back in the house to do something. A few minutes turned into several minutes and, before I knew it, he had been outside for over a half an hour. I went downstairs and out the back door…to find him gone! GONE! The cable was gone. The screw-in anchor was gone. The dog was gone! And…panic set in. In the blink of an eye, I envisioned several different scenarios- NONE of them good! I ran out of the yard and into the dark, warm summer night, calling the dog. “Bud! Bud! Come here, Bud!” 
     I ran through the yard behind us and onto the next street over. We lived in the middle of a rather large neighborhood and the truth of the matter was…he could have gone just about anywhere. Finding a BLACK dog in the dark didn’t sound very hopefully. As I ran through the neighborhood, SCREAMING, “Bud!” the panic got deeper and thicker. I could barely breathe. 
     This went on for about 15 minutes- me, running up and down the streets around our house, yelling the dog’s name. Just when I was about to give up, go back home, tell my older son I lost his 5th birthday present, get the car and start driving around and looking…there he was! He was up on someone’s porch, about 5 blocks down and 3 blocks over from our house. Tears of joy and relief began to flow. And Bud? He looked up, saw me out in the street, wagged his tail and said, “Hey! Good to see you? Were you looking for me? I’m ready to go home now!” He had, over a few days, managed to unscrew that anchor from the ground. He then traveled all those blocks, dragging that cable and anchor behind him! Once he got on that porch, he got the cable caught and was therefore stuck. In got him untangled and we went home- another crisis averted, another panic defused.
     Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent- the season leading up to Easter- as we continue our current sermon series- Full Promises. This series will lead us right up to the empty tomb and risen Savior of Easter Sunday. Along the way, we are picking out JUST a few of the high points in the life of Jesus Christ to see what impact these stories, and the promises they offer, have on our lives. Notice that the title of the series- Full Promises. As opposed to the empty promises the world offers, Jesus offers us FULL promises…all built on the biggest empty promise ever- the empty tomb of Easter. Through these promises, Jesus offers to empty us of the things that hold us back, that hold us down. The 1st week’s full promise was that your loneliness will be gone. The 2nd week’s full promise was that your wandering will be gone. Last week’s promise is that your paralysis will be gone. And today’s promise is that your panic will be gone.
     Psalm 91:1-4 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. They say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
     Your panic will be gone. What IS panic? It is a sudden, overwhelming fear, with or without reasonable cause, that produces hysterical, irrational behavior. Panic both dominates and replaces rational thinking. If it is not treated, panic can and will impact your relationships with friends and family. It will eventually lead to withdrawal and feelings of helplessness. 
    Panic is such an inherent, predictable response that architects actually try to accommodate the symptoms of panic, the herd behavior, during the design and planning of a building. They try to figure out the best ways to lead people to a safe exit and prevent excessive congestion. For example, a tall, 1’ wide column, placed at a precisely calculated distance from the exit doors, actually speeds up the evacuation process of a large group by up to 30%. The pillar naturally divides the congestion crowd well ahead of the choke point. 
     I heard someone say recently, “We experience occasional moments that are absolutely free from worry. These brief respites are called panic!” Panic is a real part of life. But what do we do with it? How do we deal with it? What does Jesus say about the topic? To answer those questions, we turn to a rather unusual and controversial story found in the Gospel of Mark. 
     Mark 5:1-20 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.  When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me.” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
     Pride is what you feel when your kids make $143 at their garage sale. Panic is what you feel when you realize your car is missing! This story is often called “The Gerasene Demoniac” or, as I like to call it, “The Creepy One Where the Pigs Drown”! So who was this man? We don’t really know much. In fact, all we know is that he is a naked, crazy man who lives in and among the to
mbs. If he were alive today, he would be institutionalized. But we can’t forget that, at one time, he was somebody’s son, or husband, or dad or friend. But now…he is bound by demons! Notice the strong and evil impact these demons had on him- he is “living” among the “dead”. Do you hear the oxymoron inherent in that statement? The truth is that the devil likes you to be in the tombs, with the dead- maybe not those who are physically dead, but certainly those who are spiritually dead. He wants them to influence you, to drag you down into the pit of panic and despair.
     Notice the condition of this man. He couldn’t be tamed- he was wild. He was crying out, cutting himself with stones. He wants to destroy himself- he doesn’t feel worthy to live. 
Day and night, this is his existence. Nothing ever changes. A constant state of panic. And then, one day, everything changed. As he careens between the headstones, he looks up…and sees Jesus far off, headed his way. He runs to Jesus and falls on his knees before Him. “What do You want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” It’s as if he is saying, “Please don’t torture me. No more panic!” When we are in a diminished, panicked state, things like healing and normalcy can seem like torture. 
     Jesus, in true Jesus form, seems to not notice, or ignore, the comment. SEEMS to! He asks the man, “What’s your name?” It sounds like a rather harmless, if not unnecessary question. That is, until we hear who actually answered the question. The answer that comes is, “My name is Legion/, for we are many.” Did you catch that? MY name is Legion for WE are many- from the singular “my” to the plural “we”. It’s not really the MAN who answers…but the demons INSIDE the man. Legion. The actually quantity of a Roman Legion changed throughout history, but the average understanding is that a Legion of Roman soldiers was 5,400. This is NOT just a slightly troubled man- his problems are Legion.
     Oddly, the man begs Jesus NOT to send the demons away- NOT to! The devil you know versus the devil you don’t know. Meanwhile, there is a herd of pigs nearby. Pigs- considered unclean. (Although I wonder how anything that takes table scraps and turns them into BACON can be unclean!) The demons, sensing that their time with this man is about to end, literally beg Jesus to NOT just send them away but instead send them into the pigs. That way they can stay around, waiting for the next hapless victim to come along. And Jesus is MORE than happy to oblige! But to quote that great theologian Pablo Cruise- things didn’t turn out way they planned. Once they are sent into the pigs, the pigs…rush into the water and are drowned taking the Legion of demons with them! Those tending to the pigs run and tell others what happened. When they return, the find a truly amazing thing- this crazed man is now sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and in his right mind. His panic is gone and he is healed. Nothing could help this man…until Jesus showed up. Then, his life was never the same. 
     In 2002, a movie called “Panic Room” came out. Jodie Foster played a woman who lived with her daughter in a New York City brownstone. Their home was complete with a panic room- a fortified hi-tech room that is intended to keep the occupants safe in case of intruders. But it turns out that the panic room is both a haven…and a trap.  That which keeps her safe is also that which keeps her trapped. So I wonder- where’s your “panic room”? Jesus intrudes our space, invades our secure hiding place, breaks into our panic room. He butts into our most secluded places and intervenes in our well-fortressed lives. But He does so with a promise- He will not leave us abandoned or forsaken. And He will bring us peace in place of the panic.
     Some of the people in this story were appalled. Some of them were afraid. Some were amazed. But the man who was saved was grateful. When we read this story, we often fail to realize that Jesus came across the Sea of Galilee…JUST for this man! Seriously! He stepped off the boat, healed this man and then went right back. He came for solely for this unclean, unkempt, uncontrollable, panicked demon possessed man. He came for this man who had been rejected by everyone- his family, his community, his life. Jesus came to end his panic and leave him in his right mind. The old controls on his life were released and he was now controlled by the spirit of God. 
     Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
     One of the greatest baseball managers of all-time, Dodger legend Walter Alston, said, “Look at misfortune the same way you look at success – Don’t Panic! Do your best and forget the consequences.” Who controls your life? Panic controls many- that sudden abandonment of “us”…the going over to the enemy of our imagination. Is panic in control of your life? Or is Jesus in charge?  Are you allowing panic to cause you to miss out on life?
     Did you see the metaphor in the death of the pigs…and the demons? It happened…in the water. There is a powerful cleansing nature of water- but why is that? It is because Jesus is the water…the Living Water. Without Jesus, life is dry, barren and full of panic.
     But I am here this morning to tell you that Jesus is still in the business of turning around hopeless situations. Are you anxious, panicked? Jesus can bring you the peace you so desperately seek. He brought you here today to be changed, to have your life flipped upside down- or, more accurately, right side up. And He makes this offer- to take away your oppression, your loneliness, your insecurity and your panic. And He offers to replace it with companionship, courage and a confidence in the living Christ. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. Are YOU free…from panic? 
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
     Tomorrow- More Questions Than Answers

Saturday, March 29- Here We Go!

      Opening Day is ALMOST here! Soon, the
first pitch will be thrown out of the 2014 Major League Baseball season…and I
will be in HOG HEAVEN! I won’t mention which team I root for because I don’t
want to create enemies (OK…it’s the St. Louis Cardinals!), but the beginning
of the baseball season is a special time for me. 

     I
didn’t even like baseball when I was a kid. My family wasn’t really a bunch of
sports fans, and I followed right along. The Cardinals made it to the World
Series 3 times in the 60’s- the first decade I was alive. I was AWARE of it, I
sort of paid attention to it, but I really didn’t care that much. Then…a kid
moved in down the road (growing up in the country, we didn’t have streets…we
had ROADS!) who was to become my constant “boon” companion for years.
As little of a sports fan as I was, that’s how BIG of a sports fan he was. He
taught me about hockey, football, basketball…and baseball! I enjoyed learning
about the other sports, and have remained a fan of each of them to varying
degrees, but when baseball and I met, it began a lifelong love affair!

    
There is something magical about baseball. It is the only sport where the defense
controls the ball (think about it). It is the only major sport that has NO time
restrictions- the half-inning ends when three outs happen…however long that
takes! Likewise, the game ends when nine innings are completed…however long
THAT takes…UNLESS of course the teams are tied. Then…extra innings!! And
although it is a team sport, there are moments when it comes down to one person
up against another. The pitcher stands on the mound, gripping the ball and
communicating, long-distant and silently, with the catcher. The hitter stands
in the batter’s box, bat in hand, digging his feet in, getting his stance just
the way he wants it, and waiting for HIS pitch. THAT is the drama of baseball.
Pitcher and catcher…and nothing else matters at that moment. Both players
shut out everything around them….it is tunnel vision between pitcher’s mound
and batter’s box. And the first time that the bat makes contact with them
ball…ah…music to my ears! The ball on the bat, the ball in the glove, the
sound of feet thundering around the bases, the chatter…it is the music of
baseball…and I love every minute of it!

    
What are YOU passionate about? It may not be the same things I’m passionate
about, but what are the things that really get your juices flowing? Whatever
they are, I have two thoughts for you:

1. do everything you
can to actually participate in the things about which you passionate. Life is
too short to not spend some time doing the things you love. Believe me, it is
good for the soul!

2. is your commitment
to God as complete as your commitment to the things from Question #1? Life is
ALSO too short to NOT have a relationship with God. And, like the things in Question
#1, believe me, it is GOOD for the soul! 

     As
much as I love baseball (and I LOVE baseball), as much as I love my job (and I
LOVE my job), as much as I love my family (and I REALLY LOVE my family), I try,
every day, to put my relationship with God above all those things. I have found
that, if you are able to truly put God first in your life, then the rest of the
things in your life seem to just…fall into place. It doesn’t mean that
everything will be all kittens and moonbeams- life will still have its ups and
downs. But it DOES mean that, as you walk through the difficulties…you won’t
walk through them alone. And I, for one, find that VERY comforting! Now, if
you’ll excuse me, I need to go rub some glove oil into my baseball glove…opening
day is ALMOST here!

     Thanks
for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back
again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

     Tomorrow- Wayward Son

Friday, March 28- Random Thoughts About the Passion of Jesus

     The Bible Study my wife and I are
currently leading on Tuesdays at 9AM and 1:30PM and Wednesdays at 6PM is called
The Easter Experience. It features a weekly 20-minute video that offers a very
well done “mini movie” focusing on the events that lead to the cross and the
empty tomb.

     This week’s lesson centered on the arrest
and beating that Jesus experienced prior to the Crucifixion. The scene of Jesus
being chained to a post and whipped was brutal…to say the least. As it was
depicted in this version, He was beaten by 3 Roman soldiers, each brandishing a
cat-o-nine tails, complete with bits of rock and bone 
embedded in the “tails”
to ensure maximum damage. They didn’t whip Him 39 times. They whipped Him…until
they got tired. Then they jammed a crown of thorns down on His head, ripped the
flesh as it went. Once that was in place, they knocked Him to the ground and
set on Him like a pack of wild dogs, kicking and punching.

     When the carnage was over and the “players”
in the story had all gone, what was left…was the blood. And it was everywhere.
Dripping. Pooling. Running. And as graphic as that scene was, it looked like a
Disney flick compared to the gut-wrenching horror of the Mel Gibson movie The
Passion of the Christ.  And those…horrific
scenes beg the question, “Why?”

     Why is it necessary to show such graphic
violence in a “Christian” movie? If thee violence was in a movie about “cops
and robbers”, most Christians probably 
wouldn’t go and see it. And rightfully
so. So why is either of these movies any different?

     They are different because of the subject
matter. They are different because they 
AREN’T about fictitious good guys and
bad guys. They are different because they are not real stories. They are
different because they aren’t for any purpose but entertainment.

     The story of the Passion of Jesus, on
quite the other hand, is a REAL story, and the depiction of those events are
NOT intended for mere entertainment. The purpose of the graphic violence is to
help us better understand and appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made…for us. Is He
fully God? Absolutely! But is He ALSO fully man? You bet! And it is important
that we better understand what He actually sacrificed for us. This was not some
idle time in the flogging pit by a God Who didn’t really experience any pain
anyway. This was the most horrific beating a man could receive…and still
survive. He COULD have stopped it. He COULD have avoided it altogether. But He 
DIDN’T! And why? Because He…loves…us…that…much.

     Thanks
for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back
again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

     Tomorrow- Here We Go!

Thursday, March 27- On the Road Again

      Remember the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope “on the
road” movies? They made a total of? SEVEN! They started with The Road to
Singapore in 1940. Next was The Road to Zanzibar in 1941, followed by The Road
to Morocco in 1942. After 3 in three years, they took a few years off before
making The Road to Utopia in 1946 and The Road to Rio in 1947. Then, after a
5-year layoff, they came back with The Road to Bali in 1952. 10 MORE years
passed before their last effort- The Road to Hong Kong in 1962. (Here is some
perspective- I was only alive when ONE of those movies was released…and I was
only 1 year old! From your perspective, that either makes me very young…OR very
old!) I was thinking of Crosby and Hope yesterday…as my wife made the 3-hour round
trip to Peoria for a 5-minute test!!

     The day started when we drove out of the
driveway at 7:15AM. Unlike EVERY other CT scan with contrast or MRI with
contrast I have had (And, although I don’t mean to brag or nothin’, I have had
a LOT!), I had to fast for 4 hours prior to the test. SO…NO coffee! (Softly
weeping as I write!) We arrived at the hospital at 8:40AM- 5 minutes prior to
the requested 8:45AM check-in time. My actually appointment was for 9AM.  

    I got in to the testing room at about
9:20AM. As the tech was prepping me and getting the IV in, I took the
opportunity to say, “Is there anything I can do to expedite the report from
this test so that it can be faxed to my doctor in St. Louis yet this morning?”
(The whole POINT of this test is to replace the one I was to have next week in
St. Louis because they wanted to see one as soon as possible to see what’s
going on my fetid little brain! Otherwise, the 3-hour round trip yesterday
would have been…irrelevant and unnecessary!)

     She looked at me and said, “Oh! This
report can’t be faxed today!” “Why?” “Because we have to get the results of
your previous CT scans and compare them to this one before the radiologist can
write the report.” (“Getting angry! Skin starting to turn green! Clothes
ripping! MUST resist! HULK SMASH!”) She then added, “But I can make a CD of the
scan that you can carry with you to St. Louis!”

     I resisted the overwhelming urge to be a monumental
jerk (It wasn’t her fault- she was simply followed the protocol set down by
someone farther up the food chain.) and told her the CD would be great. I. Had.
A. Plan!

     My wife and I drove to Bob Evans and got
some breakfast…AND some coffee! While we were there, I called my neurosurgeon’s
office and talked to his assistant. Her response to the current circumstance
was two-fold- “What?” and “We don’t need…or WANT…their opinion!” BINGO! So we
agreed that I would A. get the CD from the hospital, B. find a post office in
Peoria and C. overnight that puppy! 30 minutes and $17 later, the CD was
guaranteed to be in my doctor’s office before noon today!

     The lesson I learned when this whole “tumor”
thing started that I put to good use yesterday is this- you HAVE to be your own
health care advocate. Period. Nobody in this current climate is going to do it
for you. Frankly, they can’t. Therefore, you have to do it. You HAVE to ask the
questions. You HAVE to follow up. You HAVE to be a bulldog. You HAVE to make
sure things are going to be done the way they need to be done and when they
need to be done. Anything you don’t understand? Ask. Ask. Ask. Don’t assume
that something that is important to your health got done. Check on it. They
have a LOT of patients. You have ONE!

     Thanks
for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back
again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

     Tomorrow- Random Thoughts on the Passion
of Jesus

Wednesday, March 26- Mary and Martha

     Society tends to divide people into 2 categories-
doers and dreamers. The doers are seen as those driven folks who are always on
the go. They are the over-achievers who grab the brass ring, get the
promotions, live life to the fullest. On the other hand, the dreamers are those
folks who love to THINK about things…but don’t really DO much. They are chronic
under-achievers who consistently miss the brass ring, miss the promotions and squander
much of life. At least that’s what the WORLD likes to say!

     This week’s Bible Study Scripture is a
familiar one that looks this “doer and dreamer” phenomenon squarely in the
eyes. Jesus and the disciples are travelling when they come to a friend’s
house.

     Luke 10:38-42 As Jesus and his disciples
were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home
to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to
what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be
made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left
me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord
answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are
needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be
taken away from her.’

     The first thing I notice is the
hospitality offered by Martha and her sister. They opened up their home to 13…count
them- THIRTEEN…sweaty travelers. Could YOU do that? I’d have to think long and
hard before I’d start getting out the sleeping bags and blowing up the mattresses!
But that type of hospitality was more the norm than the exception in the Ancient
Near Eastern world. It’s what people did.

     So Jesus and the boys are invited in. Food
needed to be prepared for the guests, so Martha…the DOER…heads out into the
kitchen to fire up the oven and put the leftovers in the microwave. Meanwhile,
Jesus is in the living room, doing what He

Does
best- teaching. And where is Mary- the DREAMER? Is she in the kitchen, elbow to
elbow with Martha, cranking out dinner? NO! She is in the living room, sitting
at Jesus’ feet and hanging on His every word.

     Martha has had it and comes to Jesus, “You
need to DO something about this! I have worked my fingers to the bone fixing
this meal and what do I have to show for it? Bony fingers! Meanwhile my SISTER
sits here, doing NOTHING!” She is mad because Mary shirked her duties and
instead visited with the company.

     But Jesus helps Martha reimagine the whole
scenario. He tells her that Mary has made the right choice and He is NOT going
to take that away from her. I’m sure it was a hard, but important, lesson for
Martha to learn.

     The truth is that my imagined distinction
between doers and dreamers paints with WAY too broad of a brush. We are ALL
doers and ALL dreamers- it’s just that the percentage of each changes from
person to person. Doing is very important. Having a plan and working that plan
is a good thing. BUT- having the openness to dream of other ways to do things
is also a good thing. If we are SO rigid that we cannot see anything beyond our
purview, then we are SURE to miss Jesus when He stops by for dinner. But if we
are willing to be flexible, teachable, open- then Christ can do GREAT things
through us!

     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a
blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with
Jesus!

     Tomorrow- On the Road Again

Tuesday, March 25- Health Update #…Whatever!

     Have you ever seen
the movie The Sting? It is my favorite movie of ALL time! Robert Redford, Paul
Newman, Robert Shaw…and a cast of seemingly thousands of well-known faces. The
whole point of the movie is that the “good guys” (I guess!) spend the movie
setting up the “bad guy” for a monumental sting. And as the movie unfolds, you
begin to realize that the bad guy isn’t the only one being stung! Just every
time you think you have things figured out, they put the ol’ switcheroo and
leave you with a slack jaw and an amazed look.

     That’s how I have
felt the past few days…especially the slack jaw. I mentioned about two weeks
ago that the neurosurgeon didn’t want to wait as long for the surgery as we
did. His concern was that the tumor might, over that extra time, encroach on a particular
nerve, cranial nerve 7. There is one on each side of your face and they each control
the facial muscles on their side. His words were, “If the tumor encroaches too
much on that nerve, you would look like you had a stroke on the right side.”
OK- want to avoid that!

     But over the past
few days, the “sting” has begun to be revealed. On Thursday or Friday, I began
to have those little “muscle twitches” that we all get around our eyes. No big
deal. Saturday, I thought my lips felt a bit…different…but didn’t think much
about it. After the early worship service on Sunday, my wife said, “Are you all
right?” She said that my mouth wasn’t working right. I went to the restroom and
sure enough- the right side of my face has begun to experience some paralysis.

     The most obvious
spot is the mouth. When I smile, the left side goes up like normal. But the
right side doesn’t move very much. My right eyelid still functions properly,
but it is more eager to open when it is shut that is the left eye. It has also
affected my taste buds, causing a somewhat unpleasant taste that is constant. In
addition, I have some swelling in front of my right ear and decent amount of
pain. Sunday afternoon, my doctors in St. Louis had some concern that I had a
stroke. But that is not the case.

     So what’s the
deal? I don’t know, to be honest. But I DO know that the tumor has been
slow-growing thus far. And so, for it to suddenly move fast enough to cause
these problems seems unlikely…to me.  Logic
tells me that the swelling is putting pressure on that nerve, causing it to be
impaired. The $54 question is this- is that true AND what’s causing the swelling?
I still have a wick (tube of cotton-like material that is in my inner ear) in
my ear, and it has been in longer than I have ever had one. But…I don’t know.

     If all goes well,
we will drive to Peoria (90 minutes away) today to get the CT scan that I was
scheduled to get in St. Louis next week. That will be transmitted to my doctors
in St. Louis and then a determination will be made from there. I will say this-
life these days is NEVER boring!

     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed
day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

     Tomorrow- Mary and Martha