Monday, March 24- Hurry Up and Wait!

hate  [heyt]  verb (used with object), hat·ed, hat·ing.

1. to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme
aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest: to hate the enemy; to hate
bigotry.

2. to be unwilling; dislike: I hate to do it.

verb (used without object), hat·ed, hat·ing.

3. to feel intense dislike, or extreme aversion or hostility.

noun

4. intense dislike; extreme aversion or hostility.    

 

     Things that I
hate: (And yes, I KNOW we are not supposed to hate things, but…things I hate!)

1.  Arriving
at your destination only to realize you forgot the ONE thing you needed to
bring

2. Burnt popcorn
3. Buying batteries
(they are SO expensive!)

4. Hang nails and paper cuts

5. Speed bumps

6. Waking up and finding my blankets on the
floor

7. Wobbly tables

8. Bathroom blow dryers for your hands

9. Talking during a movie

10. When people say they found “it” in the last
place they looked. Why would they keep looking AFTER they found “it”?!

11. Telemarketing

12. Getting stuck at a red light when nobody is
going the other direction

     If we are honest,
there are a lot of things that we hate. But one of the things NOT on this list
that I hate the most is…waiting! Let’s be honest- we wait for LOTS of things.
We wait in line at the grocery store. We wait at the doctor’s office. We wait
to fill our gas tanks. We wait at red lights. We wait for people. We wait for a
table at the restaurant. We wait for vacations and days off. We wait…we wait…we
wait.

     I have NEVER been
a good “wait-er”. I am NOT the most patient person in the world. And perhaps
because of that, I have experienced a GREAT DEAL of waiting over the past 10
months.

     It all started in
May of last year when my wife and I waited for what seemed like hours (but was
only about 45 minutes) to get to a doctor’s office and be told of the tumor in
my head. And the waiting has just magnified since. I would shudder to think how
many hours my wife, younger son and I have spent in doctor’s offices and
hospitals. And while that waiting has been, at some level, maddening, the real
waiting has been far harder.

     I like having
answers. We ALL like that. But in my current situation, there have been infinitely
more questions than answers. Why? Because what I have is so rare that I am the
19th recorded case…ever! (My mom always said I was a special
snowflake!) And since it is so rare, it was hard to even find a doctor. And
once I DID find a doctor…and then a 2nd doctor…and now a 3rd
doctor…the answers are still few and far between. They simply don’t know how to
treat this…THING…in my head. They are doing their best, and I have great trust
in them, but it’s hard to treat what you don’t even fully understand.

     And so…we wait.
And through this waiting, God has helped me see just how much I need to rely on
Him. He has strengthened my trust in Him…as well as my resolve. I don’t know
what tomorrow will bring. And I don’t know when the waiting will end…if ever.
But I DO know that I do NOT wait alone!

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

     Tomorrow- Health Update #…Whatever!

Sunday, March 23- Walking on Sunshine

     A guy suffering from a miserable cold begged his doctor for relief. The doctor prescribed some pills. But after a week, the guy was still sick. So the doctor gave him a shot. But that didn’t help his condition either. The doctor said, “Okay, this is what I want you to do- go home and take a hot bath. Then, before you get dressed, throw open all the windows and stand in the draft.” The patient protested, “I’ll get pneumonia!” The doctor calmly replied, “I know. THAT I can cure!”
     Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent- the season leading up to Easter- as we continue our current sermon series- Full Promises. This series is leading 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. The world tends to offer “empty promises”. But Jesus offers us FULL promises…all built on one enormous empty promise- 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. Last week’s full promise was that your wandering will be gone. Today’s promise is that your paralysis will be gone.
     1Corinthians 15:50-52 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
         In 1985, a band called Katrina and the Waves released the American radio version a song called Walking on Sunshine.  It made it all the way to #9 on the American charts that year. The lyrics include these words: “I used to think MAYBE you loved me- now I’m sure. And I just can’t wait till the day when you knock on my door. I feel alive! I feel the love! I feel the love that’s really real! I’m on sunshine!” 
The key to the last Bible passage is the last word- changed. The key to those song lyrics is walking on sunshine. And together, those act as a perfect set-up for today’s main Scripture.
     John 5:1-9 Later Jesus went to Jerusalem for a special feast. In Jerusalem there is a pool with five covered porches called Bethesda. This pool is near the Sheep Gate. Many sick people were lying on the porches beside the pool. Some were blind, some were crippled, and some were paralyzed, and they waited for the water to move. Sometimes an angel of the Lord came down to the pool and stirred up the water. After the angel did this, the first person to go into the pool was healed from any sickness he had. A man was lying there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw the man and knew that he had been sick for such a long time, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered, “Sir, there is no one to help me get into the pool when the water starts moving. While I am coming to the water, someone else always gets in before me.” Then Jesus said, “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was well; he picked up his mat and began to walk. 
     A kindergarten teacher was observing her class of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s artwork. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.” The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.” Without missing a beat or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, “They will when I get done!”
     Every day there were many who were sick or disabled who gathered at the pool of Bethesda. That begs the question- why there specifically? The story was that an angel came periodically and stirred the waters of the pool. The lucky soul who could out-maneuver everyone else and get in the water first would be healed. 
     This particular man had been disabled for 38 years…probably his whole life. He couldn’t walk TO the pool and he couldn’t get IN the pool when the water stirred. This was his live, day in and day out- someone would carry him to the pool of Bethesda first thing in the morning, he would lay there ALL day…just hoping to get in the water…and then he would be carried back, unsuccessful, at the end of the day. Every day was the same. It was just his body; everything about the man was paralyzed.
     But then one day, all of that changes. Jesus comes by. He is walking along by the pool when He sees this man, this particular man. And somehow Jesus just…KNOWS…that the man had been unsuccessful for 38 years. He KNOWS that this man was doing nothing more than existing. And in response, He asks the man what seems to be a painfully obvious, almost mean question, “Do you want to be made well?” When you first read this, you want to say, “Well DUH, Jesus! Of COURSE he wants to be made well!” But it’s really not that simple, is it? How many people do YOU know who desperately NEED to be made well, but they don’t seem to genuinely WANT to. The illness or affliction has so defined them that they don’t know how to live any other way. The pain and dysfunction has become the norm. The devil you know versus the devil you DON’T know. And so they choose…CHOOSE…to stay right where they are, sitting idly by the pool of Bethesda, hoping someone else will do something for them.
     Did you notice how the man answered Jesus’ question? He immediately started making excuses, “It’s not my fault! No one will help me. Someone always beats me to pool!” No taking responsibility. No taking ownership. Just one long string of passing the buck so he doesn’t have to face the reality. But the reality stares him in the face every day- he just doesn’t want to claim it…because then he would actually have to do something about it. 
     Based on the answer the man gives Jesus, I am convinced that he didn’t want Jesus to heal him, didn’t realize or recognize Who Jesus really was. Instead, he wants Jesus- young, strong and able-bodied, to hustle him down to the water’s edge and help him into the pool…and beat everybody else in the process.
     But Jesus doesn’t do that- no big surprise. Instead, He does something WAY more amazing and miraculous. He tells the man, “Stand up, pick up your mat and walk.” “Well, that sounds all well and good there, Jesus, but if’n it was THAT simple, don’t you think I’d a’tried that a LONG time ago?!” But notice the word that describes how the healing happened- “immediately”. Not in the great by and by on some far shore…but HERE…and NOW! And that is exactly what happens. This man, who had been unable to walk for 38 years…his entire life…begins to stand. He gets to his knees, then one foot, then both feet. He “tests the waters” if you will, seeing if his legs will actually support him…a
nd they do. He looks at his legs, he looks at Jesus…and then a smile bigger than all outdoors breaks across his once-pained face. He bends down, picks up the mat…and immediately goes scampering through the temple courts like an overactive 4 year old! He is healed! He is whole! He is walking on sunshine. The former runs through the temple courts, praising God. 
     Immediately after the part of this story we read, the Pharisees, the church leaders, are distressed. And it’s NOT only because Jesus broke the law by healing on the Sabbath. It’s also NOT only because the man also broke the law by carrying his mat on the Sabbath. They were distressed by how this Jesus character was describing His relationship with God. He wasn’t JUST claiming that God was His Father; it was MUCH worse than that! He was actually claiming to BE God. And for the Pharisees, that was scandalous at least and blasphemous at most. 
     And it’s a struggle people have had ever since. But the issue isn’t really whether or not Jesus claims to be God. There’s really not much argument there. No, the real issue is whether or not He actually IS who He claims to be. And everything Jesus says and everything Jesus does hangs on that one single issue. Who He is…REALLY is…literally makes all the difference in the world. 
     There’s NO question about what He says. The question is- is it true? And it seems to me that there are only 3 possible answers to that question. Three simple answers that will immediately define how you see Jesus Christ. In response to that question, Jesus is either A. a liar, or He is B. a lunatic or He is C. the Lord. If He is just a liar, then He is doing nothing more than many people do- twisting the truth to manipulate others into doing what He wants them to do. If He is instead a lunatic, then He really THINKS He’s God…but He’s wrong. But if He is the Lord…well…that’s a game-changer! If He really is who He claims to be, then we should expect Him to have authority over sickness, demons and death. 
     If He IS the Son of God, then He should have the power to act on God’s behalf…act AS God. If He is the One and only begotten Son of God, then we should expect that He can…and will…cleanse the temple, heal on the Sabbath and forgive our sins. 
     The Pharisees were so legalistic, so pious…so sure they were right. But wanting to be right and thinking you’re right are NOT necessarily the same as actually being right. In fact, I find that those who are the most wrong are often those who are most sure they are right. 
     So- who IS Jesus! Is He a liar, a lunatic or the Lord? The Gospel of John gives us a clear answer to that question- Jesus IS the Son of God. He speaks and acts on God’s behalf. He is God wrapped in human flesh. He is Emmanuel- God with us. And what’s His mission? To offer a much deeper and more permanent healing than the mere physical. He offers us healing from our sin. To offer us wholeness. Jesus didn’t need the angel-stirred waters of the pool of Bethesda to heal. He has the power of the universe at His fingertips.
     Regarding your faith and your involvement in church, there is ONE question that is THE most important one you will EVER ask. And frankly it is NOT about the color of the carpet or the menu for Wednesday night dinner or the Sunday morning song selection. It is, instead the question we have raised this morning- Who is Jesus?
     There is a Korean legend that is meant to explain the conditions of Hell. According to that legend, Hell is endless rows made up of long tables that are full of food. People are seated around those tables…with 3’ long forks and spoons attached to their forearms. The people can’t feed themselves and they are unwilling to feed each other. So they sit- starving and paralyzed. 
     Have you been there? Have you ever felt like you simply couldn’t function? Have you felt that you couldn’t do anything- even get out of bed? Have you ever felt paralyzed, starved for connection? Maybe you haven’t felt paralyzed physically, but what about emotionally and spiritually? Are you starving…paralyzed? 
     Psalm 37:3-6 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
     I mentioned the song Walking on Sunshine earlier. The chorus to that song is simple and to the point- “I’m walking on sunshine! I’m walking on sunshine! I’m walking on sunshine…and don’t it feel good!” 
     How do we do that? How do we walk on sunshine? How do we empty ourselves of our spiritual paralysis? 1. Live responsibly, 2. Live expectantly and, 3. Live victoriously. Jesus promises us that, if we live responsibly, expectantly and victoriously, He will heal us- our paralysis will be gone.
     How do you fight that kind of paralysis? You ignore the enemy and resist the temptation to do nothing bur panic, hunker down, get the wagons in a circle and hibernate. You both realize and acknowledge that God is up to something, and He wants to do that “something” with…and through…you. You realize that, at the end of the day, legalism doesn’t get it and tradition doesn’t get it- you need Jesus.
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
     Tomorrow- Hurry Up and Wait!

Saturday, March 22- One Step at a Time

     I am an odd, uneven mix of things. I have
both ADHD and OCD- so I am very organized…but just for a little bit! Seriously,
in many ways I am a planner, working ahead to be better prepared. But in many
OTHER ways, I am a ‘seat of your pants” kind of guy! I don’t stress over impromptu
events and I am often very comfortable with not knowing all of the facts. When
you are a live performer, you learn pretty quickly that anything that MIGHT
happen…WILL. Therefore, you learn to go with the flow. (And if you DON’T learn
that, you probably won’t last long!)

     This whole concept has been hammered home
to me lately. The guy who plans sermon series and Bible Studies months in
advance has suddenly found himself with more questions than answers. I have
found myself trying to plan for things…and simply being unable. And that’s the
way this entire journey has been.

     First, there was the uncertainty drive to
the hospital on May 28th of last year. We drove there having NO idea
what we would find out…but knowing it probably wasn’t good. Then there was the uncertainty
of trying to find a doctor who would even take me as a patient. What I have is
VERY rare and most doctors simply didn’t want to tackle it. Then there was the
uncertainty of first one and then another experimental drug therapy. Would they
work? The answer, sadly, was, “No!”

     And now, there is the uncertainty of the
pending surgery. When is it? Don’t know. How long will it take? Don’t know.
Will they be able to get all of the tumor? Don’t know? Will there be any
complications? Don’t know. Will I get out the hospital as soon as they think I
will? Don’t know. Will I really need 8 weeks to recover enough to get back to
work? Don’t know. The questions, like the hits, just keep on coming!

     But what I have grown to better understand
is that…that’s OK. God never promises us that we will see very much of the path
ahead. And frankly, there are times when we wouldn’t be able to handle seeing
very far ahead. Also, showing us less of the journey at any one time is
designed to increase our trust in Him.    

     Sure, it’s scary to have only a step or
two of the path ahead of you illuminated at any given time. It makes you want
to slow down and proceed with extreme caution. But remember this- it is GOD…and
NOT Eveready…Who lights our path. And when He shows us the way, we can trust
that it is the RIGHT way, because He IS the way, and the truth and the life.

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

     Tomorrow- Walking on Sunshine

Friday, March 21- “The Secret Ingredient is…SUDAFED!”

     Have you ever watched the TV show “Iron
Chef”? It features one of the “Iron Chefs” competing against a challenger. The
host…or chairman…or WHATEVER he is….comes out and they immediately cut to a
rather obvious stunt double who goes all Bruce Lee- flipped, spinning, swinging
and grunting! Then, he sets the stage for the day’s challenge, leading up to
him stepping over to a table that is obviously piled with…something…and covered
with a sheet. The music swells, the lights flicker, the smoke machine…smokes…and
then he grabs the sheet, ready to pull. “Today’s secret ingredient is…(whips off
sheet to reveal…) CHOCOLATE! Or BRUSSEL SPROUTS! Or SQUID BRAINS. Or CHERRY
PEZ! Or anything else that is equally odd and unusual! The camera then comes in
for his close-up. He snaps his head toward the camera, gives his patented “James
Bond villain” look and proclaims, “Le the battle begin!”

     I have my own secret ingredient of late.
You see, my right ear, the one which has been damaged by the tumor, has been
giving me problems. I go to the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. He digs, suctions
and excavates all kinds of…crud…from that ear. He then sticks a wick, which is
about as big around as 2 swizzle sticks…it only FEELS like it’s as big as a 36 oz.
Louisville Slugger…into that ear. It’s not pleasant…at all…but it DOES help
deliver medicine to the problem area and open the ear canal up.

     I got a wick put in almost 2 weeks ago.
The previous ones were only in for a week, but he says this one can stay in
until I see him again- at the end of the month. Because the time frame is
longer, the dosage of the ear drops, which include steroids, is less. And
because it’s less, the pain in my ear has not been managed as well. BUT…my wife
recently introduced a new secret ingredient to the mix!

     She pointed out that the ear being messed
up affects, among other things, the Eustachian tube. So she suggested that,
along with the antihistamine I take every day, I add a decongestant- what could
it hurt? So I took one and, within 2 hours, had less pain in the ear than I had
in a week! At times, the pain was even…dare I say?…gone! Now, it DOES come
back. And I STILL have to stay on a regular regimen of ibuprofen. But it HELPS!
After the expensive, debilitating experimental drug therapies I have been on, a
simple, over-the-counter pill eases some of the symptoms! Who knew?! Therefore,
I say, “The secret ingredient is…SUDAFED! Let the battle begin!”

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

     Tomorrow- One Step at a Time

Thursday, March 20- What Do You Mean I Have NO Control?!

     Control is an interesting thing. Do you
remember when President Reagan was shot? On March 30, 1981, John Hinckley Jr.
fired 6 shots in 1.7 seconds, hitting Reagan (with the 5th and 6th
bullets and only on ricochet), Press Secretary William Brady, police officer
Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy. Pandemonium ensued
as the President was shoved in the presidential limo and taken to George
Washington University Hospital.

    Meanwhile, Vice President George Bush was
in Air Force 2, flying to Austin, TX. After a briefing in the White House, then
Secretary of State Alexander Haig stepped in front of the camera s and uttered
those now-famous words: “Constitutionally,
gentlemen, you have the president, the vice president and the secretary of
state, in that order, and should the president decide he wants to transfer the
helm to the vice president, he will do so. As of now, I am in control here, in
the White House, pending the return of the vice president and in close touch
with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course
.”

     SOUNDS great…but totally wrong! The
Secretary of State is NOT 2nd in line after the Vice President. The
Speaker of the House of Representatives is #2, followed by the President pro
tempore of the Senate. THEN comes the Secretary of State. So, although Haig
CLAIMED to have control (his word, not mine), in reality…he had none.

     And the reality is this- no matter what we
think and no matter what others tell us, NONE of us have any REAL control. We
THINK we have control. We WANT to have control. We convince ourselves that we
HAVE control. But then…something happens and we are reminded just how little
control we actually have.

     This fact has been the ever-growing
reality in my life over the past 10 months. I am a self-sufficient kind of guy.
I was taught to “pull yourself by your own bootstraps, spit on it, rub dirt on
it and walk it off”. And frankly, for the majority of my life, that’s actually
worked. I have a fairly high amount of determination and “stick-to-itivness”.
That, coupled with a hard head and high pain tolerance, has allowed me to
weather many storms. And because of that, I lulled myself into thinking that I actually
had some control.

     But if the on-going struggle with this
tumor in my head has taught me anything, it is that I have no control. And that
has been proved from the very get-go. I am only the 19th recorded
case…in history…of this particular affliction. No one really knows how to treat
it- I struggled to even FIND a doctor in the beginning because of that fact. I
have been through 2 rounds of experimental drug therapy. I literally felt like
I aged 20 years over those six months. And yet, my charm, my wit, my “laugh in
the face of danger” attitude…none of them helped! Whazzup wit dat?

     I have had to remind myself that A. I have
NO control and B. God is IN control. Period. Does that mean that everything is
going to work out the way I want it? Not necessarily. Does that mean that everything
(in THIS life) will work out “well”? No guarantee. But it does mean that, if we
trust that God has our back, then who could possibly stand against us? God 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 Secret Ingredient Is…SUDAFED!”

Wednesday, March 19- You Left Him WHERE?!

     Several years ago, I took 45 people on a
mission trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We were involved in a WIDE variety a
ministries that week. Then, on Friday, we drove over to Pensacola, Florida for
the day. We had a small section of the beach “rented” for the day. We had
kayaks and a couple of jet skis to play with. And we all got to go parasailing.
6 people at a time would go out in the boat. After getting well out into the
bay, we each got to take our turn. They strapped us in and reeled us out…almost
like a fishing rod. When our turn was over, they would simply…reel us in!

     My older son was on the trip with me and
he went out in a different boatload than I did. I watched his boat head out
into the bay. I watched from the shore as they got him out onto the back of the
boat. I watched as they strapped him in and hooked him up. I then watched as
the boat sped up, the parachute caught the wind and he was lifted in the air.

     They reeled the line out- all 1,400 feet
of it. (The crew estimated that, when the line was fully extended, we were
1,000 feet in the air!) He was a dot in the sky. THEN…I called my wife. “Hey
Sweetheart! How are you? We are on the beach in Pensacola. 
We’ve had a great
day. Oh, guess where your son is? He’s 1,000 feet in the air, strapped to a
thin cable and hanging from nothing more than 2 carabiners!” (Google it!) Her
response? “He’s WHERE? Don’t tell me than NOW!”

     I am reminded of this event when I read
today’s Scripture. Even though this story does NOT elicit a “He’s WHERE?”, it
DOES elicit a “You Left Him Where?”

     Luke 2:41-50 Every year Jesus ‘parents
went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years
old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival
was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in
Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they
traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives
and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look
for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among
the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard
him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him,
they were astonished. His mother said to him,’ Son, why have you treated us
like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you. ‘Why were
you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s
house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

     So the family goes to Jerusalem for the
annual celebration of Passover. Mary, Joseph and Jesus would have been part of
a LARGE contingent of folks traveling. After the event was over, this same
large group started for home. A day…a DAY…into the return trip, Mary and Joseph
suddenly realize Jesus is NOT with them. They hustle back and, after a THREE
day search, find Him in the temple courts.

     This seems, on the surface, like a story
of parental neglect. But consider the era and consider the circumstances. It was
a time when it actually TOOK a village to raise a kid. I’m sure they thought He
was with others of the group. Also, 12 years old then was a LOT closer to
manhood than 12 years old is today. But they DO notice He’s gone and start
retracing their steps.

     Imagine the fear and panic that grew as
they took a second day to get back to Jerusalem and a 3
rd, 4th
and 5
th day to find Him. I would have been beside myself. But when
they find Him, Jesus is 
nonplussed, “Hey guys! Why were you worried? Where did
you THINK I would be but in My Father’s house?!”

     Where would YOU look for Jesus? He can be
found in books. He can be found in relationships. He can be found in prayer. In
fact, He can be found everywhere…if you look. But His Father’s house…the temple
courts…CHURCH is a place where He can be found in powerful and unique ways.
This week…seek Him!

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

     Tomorrow- What Do You Mean I Have NO
Control?

Tuesday, March 18- How Do You STOP Doing the Only Thing You Know HOW To Do?

     One of the best pieces of advice I ever received when I was wrestling with the notion of going into the ministry was this, “Only do it if you can’t do anything else!” I thought about that for a moment and then I said, “Well THAT works out perfectly! I’ve tried SEVERAL things that haven’t worked out too well. So…perhaps this IS the only thing I can do!!” 
     It took me a while to really understand what that advice meant. It had much less to do with ability and much more to do with where your heart is. I tend to be a “jack of all trades” (and master of NONE!), so I COULD do lots of things. But the reason those other things I tried really didn’t pan out was because none of them were the thing that God had in mind for me. I fought going into the ministry tooth and nail. And when I finally gave in, that’s exactly what I did. I did NOT really “answer as call”- I relented just to get God to stop hammering on me!
     But once I DID relent, God opened doors…and my eyes…in ways I could have never imagined. This journey began as the half-time “youth guy” at the first church I served…while going to seminary full-time AND trying to help my wife maintain a family. It led me to the 2nd church I served in a town I had never heard of but quickly grew to love. I was ordained a full elder while serving that church. Then I was led to the church I currently serve. After losing a pastor that they dearly loved, this congregation did what many struggle with- they embraced me while still loving him! And now, this journey has led me to a golf ball-sized tumor that sits atop my right jaw, pushing against the right side ear canal. It has led me to an approximately 60% hearing loss. It has led me to 6 months of experimental drug therapy that, sadly, did little else but make me feel worse. (I honestly felt like I aged about 20 years over the past 3+ months. Fortunately, I have gained at least 10 of those years back as I am no longer on that medicine.) And it has led me to the reality of a major surgery, with some risks involved, that may or may not actually get all of the tumor. 
     As I prepare for this next step, one of the realities I am faced with is 6-8 weeks off work after surgery. That would be hard enough at previous churches I served, with the church-provided house being some distance from the church. It’s going to be even harder now, with the house RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the church!
     As I think about those 6-8 weeks, a thought comes into my head, “How do you STOP doing the only thing you know HOW to do?” (Before you feel TOO bad for me, refer to the 2nd paragraph as to what that means!) I am going to have to be EVEN MORE intentional about staying away than the congregation is about coming to me! If you are doing that ONE thing that God has called you to do, it feels SO right when you do it…and SO wrong when you can’t! But I KNOW that God, my family and the congregation I currently serve will help me through this! And when you have God AND that many people on your side, who can stand against you?!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
     Tomorrow- You Left Him WHERE?