Wednesday, April 30- On the Road Again

     As I mentioned yesterday, we spent the day in St. Louis, MO with follow-up doctor’s appointments. First- some “catching up”. 

     As of this past Monday, I am off both my pain meds and the steroids. (Probably a good thing- those steroids had me walking around the gym challenging everybody, “Bro- do you even LIFT?!”) So as we arrived in St. Louis Monday evening, I was med-free. 

      Also, the pain management has been going great. I tend to HATE to take medicine, which means I historically don’t take it until I REALLY need it. That can make for some poor overall pain management. So this time, I was much more intentional about keeping up with the regimen. And that seems to have paid off in spades.

     Yesterday’s schedule was rather simple- out of my brother’s house at 9:30AM, the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor at 10:45AM followed by the neurosurgeon at 1PM…with a nice birthday lunch on the beautiful top floor restaurant of Queeny Towers at Barnes Hospital in between

     The ENT visit went great. He was quite happy with my progress. (He DID change his tune from “we got 99.9% of the tumor” to “we got 95% or more of the tumor” but, knowing that there is still some in there, let’s not quibble over a couple of percentage points!) He is A. planning on seeing me in 2 months, B. referring me to an ophthalmological plastic surgeon to see if there is anything that can or needs to be done with my right eye, which still isn’t blinking properly and C. doing research on an electrical impulse physical therapy for my lack of right side mouth movement.

     After that nice birthday lunch (What a VIEW from up there! Even though I was born and raised in the area, I forget how beautiful St. Louis can be!), we went to see the neurologist. He was also very pleased with how I was progressing. As he took the stitches out, he commented that he thought the surgical scar looked great AND was “as good a job as a plastic surgeon would do”! (I should have asked for the extra “nip/tuck” special while I was already under the knife! NOW they tell me!) He was excited that I was feeling so good OFF medication AND…said I could start driving again! Huzzah! He also felt that he saw some positive increase in the facial nerve function and is somewhat hopeful that will do nothing but continue. 

     We then left downtown St. Louis, crossed into Illinois, stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts in beautiful downtown (not really) Troy, IL for fresh coffee and then…headed home! By 6:40PM, we were pulling in the driveway and unpacking the car. The 27-hour trip (9 of those hours IN the car!) was…DONE! 

     So I have at least 3 appointments and lab work at the end of June and at least one appointment and another MRI at the end of July. One might say- “Wow! After all THAT…you STILL have to keep going back for more appointments?” But WE say, “Awesome! TWO WHOLE MONTHS before we have to be back!” We always have been, are and will continue to be a “glass half full” kind of family! 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- Can YOU Spell S-A-B-B-A-T-I-C-A-L?

Tuesday, April 29- A VERY Special Birthday

     Today is the
anniversary of one of THE greatest things that has EVER happened in the history
of humankind. Seriously. No foolin’! And what, you may ask, was that monumental
event? On this date…the woman who said, “Yes” to my rather lame, nervous, poorly-thought
proposal of marriage was born!

     My wife and I met
when we were but 15 years old…yep- High School Sweethearts! We met in the fall
on a hayride and, over the next few months, struck up a friendship. It started
slowly, almost imperceptibly…but it grew. She tells me that the “tipping point”
for her, the moment she was sure I was interested in more than friendship, was
the “standing in the rain” day.

     Our high school
was 3 large buildings built around a central, sunken parking lot- The Pit. It
was not at all unusual that, during the short passing period between classes,
you would need to get all the way from the 3rd floor of The Main Building,
across The Pit and to the 2nd floor of The Annex Building. That
meant you had LITTLE time to dawdle and still get to your destination on time.
Partway through the 2nd semester of that Sophomore year, I was
walking away from The Main, toward The Pit and The Annex, trying to get to class,
when I heard, “That’s OK- don’t wait for me!” I turned…and there she was! It turned
out that she, too, had the same route to take and was behind me. I laughed and
waited for her. We walked together across the campus.

     The next day, it
was pouring down rain at that same moment in the schedule. But I was NOT going
that make that same mistake again! So…I stood out in the pouring rain, waiting
for her. When she came out and saw me standing there, knowing full well WHY I
was standing there…a significant moment happened! Our first official date was
not terribly long after that- April 29, 1977- her birthday. She came to see me perform
in the school musical Oliver! We then went to a local restaurant where we had sautéed
mushrooms and partially-frozen birthday cake while listening to the synthesized
stylings of one Mr. Mike Zicovich.

     The journey from
that night to our wedding…to today…was not always smooth. There were LOTS of
bumps in the road- some pretty substantial. I was NOT always the partner I
wanted to be…should have been. But that deep, abiding love just kept bringing
us together…holding us together.

     She certainly did
NOT sign on to marry a preacher. If you would have given her a potential list
of a THOUSAND jobs I might end up doing…”ministry” would have STILL not been on
the list! And yet- God continues to use the least, the lost, the reprobate. And
so, WAY down the road- I finally had no choice but to relent to God’s call on
my life. And as she has always done, this amazing woman who manages to somehow
tolerate me year after year stepped up to the plate. She is both the least “typical”
and best “pastor’s wife” I have ever seen!

     This birthday is
just another example of the kind of person she is. As you read this, are we on
a romantic birthday getaway? Nope? Are we at least going out for nice dinner
and/or a movie? Nope. We are, instead, in St. Louis, MO for the Nth time in the
past 11 months, getting stiches out and checking on progress. Does she complain?
Does she whine? Does she throw a fit? Nope. She just continues to be the
absolute best partner I could have ever imagined. Thank you, God, for the
unfathomable gift of this beautiful woman in my life. I am truly blessed!

     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

Monday, April 28- More Stories of the Magic Table

     In the book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the story hinges on the magical properties of a beautiful…but on the surface rather ordinary…wardrobe. Call it a chifferobe. Call it a hutch. Call it a free-standing closet. But this…wardrobe…is found, dusty and cloth-covered, in a “spare ‘oom” by the British siblings who come to live in an expansive English mansion during the war. When one of them unwittingly hides in it, she discovers that it is actually a magic portal into a strange and wonderful world.

     In the book The Indian in the Cupboard, a 9-year boy named Omri is given…a cupboard…for his birthday, along with a plastic Native American figure. He is disappointed with the cupboard, but decides to keep it. Along the way, he figures out that, if he puts a plastic figure in the cupboard, locks the door, unlocks it and then reopens it…that figure has come alive! The story then unfolds around those “created” characters.

     In Alladin, it’s a piece of carpet (AND a lamp) that comes to life. In Frosty the Snowman, it’s that “old black hat they found”. In The Prince of Persia, it’s the Dagger of Time. In the Hobbit, it’s “the ONE ring”. Literature is FULL of inanimate objects that “come to life” and serve as the catalyst for whatever remarkable story is unfolding. And today, we look again at the inanimate object in MY home that has “come to life”! I am, of course, talking about….The Magic Table!

     As I have shared before, we have a Magic Table on our front porch. Oh sure- it SEEMS like a simple, regular rolling computer table that could be found in ANY office across the country. And that’s what I THOUGHT it was when I wheeled it over to the parsonage. But then…the magic began!

     Every day, at both noon (-ish) and 5PM (-ish), we hear a “thump” on the front porch- kind of like Santa coming down the chimney! And when we got out and look…there is amazing, delicious, warm fresh food on the table! We bring it in, marvel at whatever awesomeness we find and then…we eat! (Our older son, who lives in Chicago, asked if A. we might be willing to “loan” him the table when we are through with it and B. did I think it would still work…in Cook County?!) We can’t HELP but pray for the hands that so lovingly prepared and provided the food. And the individual(s) who brought it, as well as the process in general, are always a topic of conversation.

     The truth of this story is that we have been SO blessed by this process that I almost feel guilty. But I’m not gonna’ lie- it has been SO amazingly helpful and appreciated. We have provided countless meals to OTHERS over our years in “the church”, but I never fully realized the powerful ministry that exists in providing such comfort and sustenance. I JOKE about the “magic table”, but the true magic is obviously NOT found in the inanimate object but instead in the people. When God’s people come together to effect change with the intention of strengthening God’s kingdom…no matter how small or large…GREAT things can happen! And I am in a front-row seat to see that happening in time and space!

     In the movie Forrest Gump, the following interchange happens:

Forrest: Lieutenant Dan? Lieutenant Dan!

Lt. Dan: Hello, Forrest.

Forrest: You got new legs. New legs!

Lt. Dan: Yeah, I got new legs. Custom-made titanium alloy. It’s what they use on the space shuttle.

Forrest: Magic legs.

      Well, Forrest, Lt. Dan may have magic legs…but I have a Magic Table! Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

     Tomorrow- VERY Special Birthday Wishes

Sunday, April 27- Breathing Sight: I Can SEE!

     I remember it like it was yesterday- my first pair of glasses. I was about 40 years old and a woman who was a member of the congregation I was serving then worked as a tech in a Lenscrafter’s kind of place. I was starting to struggle to read things, so she encouraged me to come in and be tested. The eye test went fine and they took the new prescription to her so that she could actually make the glasses. She looked at the numbers on the screen, looked at me, looked BACK at the screen, then BACK at me. “Pretty bad, huh?” I asked. “Bad? I can’t imagine how you saw to even GET here today!” Then end result was a quantum leap to bifocals- a jump that I certainly have never looked back from!
     Seeing is one of those things we take for granted. As long as our eyes work right…and for most of us, that is at least relatively the case…then we simply assume that it’s always there- we don’t have to think about it. But when that is NOT the case, we are suddenly thrust into a different light. Due to my current health circumstances, I am struggling with an eye issue. The nerves around my right eye are simply not working as they should. This means that my eye doesn’t blink like it should, thereby not adequately hydrating the eye as it is needed. So I have to work the eye drops and eye gel on a very regular basis to make sure that no damage comes to the eye…hopefully until the nerve sensation and action kick back in. But “seeing” is MUCH more than simply a physical task. Yes, we see with our eyes. But we also “see” with our minds…our hearts…our souls. 
     Today we begin a new Sunday sermon series that will lead us through the weeks that I am “banned” from the real pulpit! Seriously, during my recovery and absence from the church I currently serve, there are incredibly capable and committed folks who will be “guesting” in the pulpit…and doing a marvelous job! I am eternally grateful to them for their willingness. So I offer this series NOT for their benefit…or frankly even yours! I offer it as a challenge to…ME…to get back in the saddle and push forward…Breathing Life. Each week, we will focus on some aspect of our faith that we can intentionally “breathe” into our day-to-day life, with the ultimate goal of breathing new life into our souls.
     Mark 8:14-21 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”  They answered, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
     On the surface, eyes are just these simple things that we take horribly for granted. But the fact is that they are VERY complex. Did you know that the average eye blink lasts for about 1/10th of a second and you blink about 12 times every minute? Eyes also heal quickly. With proper care, it only takes 48 hours to repair a corneal scratch. The act of seeing requires that fully half your brain be involved. Out of all the muscles in your body, the muscles that control your eyes are the most active. And around the world, about 39 million people are blind, with roughly 6 times that many with some kind of vision impairment. A full 80% of the world’s vision problems are avoidable or even curable. Vision is what we see…both with our eyes and our heart. And today’s Scripture cuts right to the meat of that fact.
     John 9:1-12 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind. His followers asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused this man to be born blind—his own sin or his parents’ sin?” Jesus answered, “It is not this man’s sin or his parents’ sin that made him be blind. This man was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him. While it is daytime, we must continue doing the work of the One who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
     A man goes to a bar with his dog. He goes up to the bar and asks for a drink. The bartender says “You can’t bring that dog in here!” The guy, without missing a beat, says “This is my seeing-eye dog.” “Oh man, ” the bartender says, “I’m sorry, here, the first one’s on me.” The man takes his drink and goes to a table near the door. Another guy walks in the bar with a Chihuahua. The first guys sees him, stops him and says “You can’t bring that dog in here unless you tell him it’s a seeing-eye dog.” The second man graciously thanks the first man and continues to the bar. He asks for a drink. The bartender says “Hey, you can’t bring that dog in here!” The second man replies “This is my seeing-eye dog.” The bartender says, “No, I don’t think so. They do not have Chihuahuas as seeing-eye dogs.” The man pauses for a half-second and replies “What?!?! They gave me a Chihuahua?!?”
     This man suffered from congenital blindness- he had been blind from birth. He had never seen and, as far as he knew…he WOULD never see. He surely couldn’t cure himself and, after years of proof, it seemed obvious that no one else could cure him either. And so…he made a living near the temple, just like so many others in his position. Why there? Because so many people passed by that spot and MANY of them were highly encouraged to be charitable. But as those people passed by the blind man, they were faced with a very real theological question, “If, as we have been raised to believe, sin is the cause of our suffering, then how could someone be born with such a handicap? Apparently, either his parents sinned and he is paying the price OR he somehow sinned in utero. So…whose sin caused this eternal blindness- , his or his parents? It HAD to be one or the other…right? And LOOK at him- what a sin THAT must have been! I am SO glad I’m not like him!”
     The people, even Jesus’ disciples, simply couldn’t see this blind man as an object of mercy. Instead, for them, he was nothing more than a topic for theological discussion. And let’s be honest- that the “go to” response often, isn’t? I mean, it’s a LOT easier to discuss an abstract subject like “sin” it is to put it in context and actually minister to a concrete need. 
     But Jesus, in true “Jesus fashion” sees things differently. He says, “Well, if My choices are either A. his parents or B. him, then I choose…C. None of the above!” Jesus says that the problem doesn’t exist as a result of sin. Instead, it exists so that mighty God’s power can be shown in and through….manifest in…him.
     So THAT’S why bad things happen in the world? Just to make God look better? I don’t know about you, but that seems a bit…egotistical, doesn’t it? It wouldn’t fl
y if I did it! The truth is that stuff simply…happens in a fallen world. People have afflictions, illnesses, pain and loss because life is hard and our bodies are fragile. But the healing that happens…and healing DOES happen, if you are willing to broaden your understanding of “healing” than that healing glorifies God. 
      Did you notice that? Jesus’ disciples, as well as the others gathered around, are safely ensconced in a harmless theological discussion that keeps them, and their hands, clean. But with one seemingly simply observation, Jesus calls them instantly from idle speculation straight into the middle of to action. That is ALWAYS His goal! And then…He goes to work!
     After Jesus said this, he spit on the ground and made some mud with it and put the mud on the man’s eyes. Then he told the man, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.” So the man went, washed, and came back seeing. The neighbors and some people who had earlier seen this man begging said, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “He is the one,” but others said, “No, he only looks like him.” The man himself said, “I am the man.” They asked, “How did you get your sight?” He answered, “The man named Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. Then he told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” They asked him, “Where is this man?” “I don’t know,” he answered.
     When I was a kid and hurt myself, my dad would say, “Spit on it. Rub dirt on it. Walk it off.” Real “guy stuff”. Jesus does real guy stuff here- He spits in the dirt, makes mud and then smears it on the man’s eyes. None of this holistic, waving your hands, spectral aura stuff for Jesus- He gets right down to it. 
     Notice what He uses to carry out the miracle. It is NOT coincidentally that Jesus heals life using dirt- the very same substance that He, in the form of God, used to create it in the first place. Interestingly, spit was sometimes used in forms of pagan healing. But it was MUCH more often considered, as you might imagine, coarse, vulgar and gross. And that MIGHT have made this man most uncomfortable…if he had even known…or cared…what it was that Jesus used. But let’s be honest- the spit, the dirt and the mud were not medicine. Instead, they were, all combined, a too, used to develop the man’s faith. When you are experiencing irritation, what you often need is irrigation.
     Jesus then tells the man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. A structure called Hezekiah’s tunnel was used to channel water from the nearby Gihon Springs inside the city walls to that pool. It was used as a water supply, as well as for baptizing converts to Judaism. And, as they were around the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles, the water was being used for the feast. So the man was supposed to go and wash off this…MUD…in THAT Pool of Siloam? Would he even be willing to obey under those circumstances? Well…he DOES! He foes to the Pool of Siloam, washes in its waters and then goes home…seeing! The Name Siloam originated as a means of sending waters from a spring to a pool. But now, the name suddenly spoke to a MUCH higher calling- the calling of a man sent by Jesus…Who had been sent by God. 
     Did you notice? When the man was healed, he looked so different that he created an ID problem. So much so that the people begin to argue, “Is this the same man who used to sit around and beg?” Maybe it was a case of mistaken identity. But the previously blind man insists, “I’m the guy!” But the people are unconvinced, “How?” It would have been easy to hide his confession and avoid the controversy. Or he simply could have chosen to embellish the story. But he DOESN’T. Instead, he fearlessly stands his ground, “It was Jesus that made the difference. I can’t deny it…and I wouldn’t want to even if I could!” His eyes were opened and the light of Jesus Christ poured in. And yet the light that lets one see can be the SAME light that blinds another. The people bring the man to the Pharisees. And they IMMEDIATELY point out that healing, unless someone’s life is in danger, violates the Law of the Sabbath. Even making mud violates that Law. 
     Here we are- Sabbath healing. It seems to be Jesus’ almost intentional approach. And He again upsets, even deliberately challenges, the religious leaders of the day. The Pharisees can’t face the fact that Jesus healed a man- they can’t even acknowledge the possibility. But the facts don’t lie- healing happened! They SEE the miracle…but they openly reject the evidence; they simply won’t receive Jesus. 
     Joel 2:28-29 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
     In this story, people keep asking, “How?” They continue to either miss the obvious or they are afraid to speak…and face…the truth! And to boot, they ALL asked the wrong question! The question to ask in this story is NOT “How?” but “Who?” They want to understand the mechanics of the miracle- how it was possible- instead of simply trusting THAT it was possible.
But understanding the process, even if they COULD, would be NO guarantee that they have actually experienced the miracle. The power of Jesus Christ brings different reactions from different people: the blind man receives the truth and sees while the self-righteous reject the truth and become even more spiritually blind. 
     Jesus’ choice of the blind man in this story is significant- his life seemed hopeless. And that fact tends to resonate with our own spiritual blindness. We have much in common with this man- we are spiritually 1. Blind, 2. Begging and 3. Helpless. But look what Jesus did in this story. He:
1. Came to the man in grace, when no one else would
2. Stirred things up and pushed the man FAR out of his comfort zone
3. Healed him, which glorified God
And, on top of that…other people noticed.
     To the disciples and the others gathered there, the blind man was simply a chance for theological speculation. To the Pharisees, he was nothing more than a violation of the Sabbath Law. But to Jesus, he was a human being…a child of God…in need of real help, real transformation. Jesus came to him in his time of need and breathed sight into him. And, through that act, He breathed new life into the man. He can do the same…for 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- More Stories of the Magic Table

Saturday, April 26- 3 HOURS of Frasier?

     I am a child of
the late 60’s and 70’s. If you look at my iTunes account, Ronny Milsap may be “Lost
in the 50’s Tonight”, but I am unabashedly “Stuck in the 70’s and 80’s EVERY
Night”! Oh sure, I have a lot of Contemporary Christian music. I have some even
more “old school 60’s rock. I have some classical and easy listening. I have
some CeeLo Green and some Maroon 5. But the BULK of my 2,492 songs on iTunes
(and, depending on YOUR collection, you are ETHER thinking right now, “ONLY
2,492 songs?” OR you’re thinking, I didn’t know there even WERE 2,492 songs!”)
are from a fairly small window that spans 1975 through about 1985. 10 years of
REALLY good music- and then…nothing!

     Another sign that
I am a child of that era is my connection to television. Growing up in the
country with parents who had a VERY strong work ethic, it’s not like I had
hours and hours of every day to sit around and watch Wally and the Beave. BUT,
when I DID have time…I was parked in front of the tube! Because of that, much
of my body of “ministry reference” is of the “pop culture” variety. (I even had
a former parishioner who was a VERY strong supporter of mine pull me aside one
day and say, “You KNOW I love having you as the Pastor here…” “But?” “BUT…I
wish you didn’t make so many pop culture references that I don’t get!!”) Good
or bad…probably both…but TV has helped shape who I am as a human being.

     I have, however, noticed
a change over the past several years. There was a time when I was perfectly satisfied
to spend “extra time” doing NOTHING but watching TV. But maturity, along with
gaining a better handle on how to manage my ADHD, has led me to a new paradigm.
I still sit with my family when we watch TV. I still pay attention to much of
what’s on. The difference is that I am OFTEN not terribly invested in it. In
other words, I encourage everybody else to watch what they want, because I’m
only paying half attention anyway! Instead, I read and/or write, work on sermon
development, Bible Study, church planning…whatever!

     This dynamic has
been exaggerated in recent days as I continue to recover. I have less constant energy
to focus TOO long on my “usual” stuff- I have to stop thinking so hard at times
and simply relax. That brings me back to…the TV. And I have been reminded just
how much my TV habits have changed. For instance, did you know they show 3 straight
HOURS of the TV show Frasier on TLC each weekday morning? 3 HOURS! That is 6
straight episodes. Now, I always enjoyed Kelsey Grammer on Cheers. And the
episodes of Frasier that I saw were pretty good. But I just never really
watched it much. But that 8AM-11AM wheelhouse is a pretty good “time to relax”
stretch these days. I go with my wife when she takes our younger son to school
(I can’t drive yet). We come back, have breakfast, take the dogs out…and I need
to kick back. Thus started the Frasier awareness. The first day or two, it was
a treat. 3 HOURS of doing nothing but chuckling at fairly witty writing. Not
too shabby. But as 2 days morphed into 3 and 4…that restlessness started back
up. Frasier is STILL a very funny show- I would argue, in retrospect, one of
the “smartest” comedies of its day. But ultimately…it’s a sitcom. And we were
made for SO…MUCH…MORE.

     1920’s British Olympian
runner Eric Liddle (think Chariots of Fire) was a strongly devoted Christian
who sacrificed much for his faith. He was once quoted as saying, “God made me
for a purpose. But He also made me fast. And when I run…I feel His pleasure.” How
awesome is that?! For what purpose did God make…YOU? And no fair saying, “I don’t
know!” I think you DO know; it’s just scary to admit it…because then you have
to act upon it. But WHEN you act upon it- when you do the thing that makes God
happy- life is suddenly worth the living. EVERYTHING is different…better!

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

     Tomorrow- Breathing Sight: I Can SEE!

Friday, April 25- Food is a WHOLE New Experience!

     Food- can’t live without it…pass the Beer
Nuts! Food has become n…interesting and magical thing around our house
recently. First off- there is the EATING of the food. Because of the extensive
work they did on my right “jaw hinge”, both getting the tumor out AND “rebuilding”
the cap with titanium mesh, my jaw has been more than a bit…sore. (I was
honestly having problems with it BEFORE surgery…the surgery just added to the fun!)

     It means that biting something OFF and
then chewing it is not a real good option right now. For instance, opening my
mouth wide enough to put in a sandwich, bite off a piece, chew it and swallow
it is just not happening right now. BUT…where there’s a sandwich…there’s a way!
I CAN put a chicken salad sandwich (as an example) on the plate, cut off a bite
with a fork and knife, carefully insert it in my partially-opened mouth and
THEN chew and swallow. With a little practice, I have that down like a champ!

     I have found some things that just don’t
work right now- raw veggies (which we usually eat a lot of) are not on my list.
Something really chewy like a steak would probably not work right now. But with
a little modification, I have been managing quite well in the food department!

     And speaking of food, the OTHER phenomenon
that has occurred has been nothing less that truly magical. I was instructed by
my doctor to lay low for 6-8 weeks. And the truth of the matter is that I know
myself- if I don’t basically sever all ties, there IS no such thing as “laying
low”. I tend to be either a “know when to hold ‘em” kind of a guy or a “know
when to fold ‘em” kind of guy when I play 5-card draw. I RARELY am part-way in.
And knowing that, I know that if I step ONE foot back into life right now…I
will be back in up to my neck within minutes! (Which, frankly, is exactly where
I want to be!!)

     That reality created a conundrum. I simply
can’t be “hostess with the mostest” at our front door. And yet, these awesome
people I serve with want to help us…bless their hearts! That meant, among other
things, they wanted to bring food for us. But how do we make that happen and
still maintain the “demilitarized zone”? Then I came us with a pretty good
plan, if I do say so myself! (And…I do!) We have a large, glassed-in porch on
the front of the house. I put a table out there and signs on all the outside
doors. The signs ask that people not ring the doorbell or knock- we have a very
vigilant dog and you never know when I will be trying to sleep. Instead, if
they are dropping something off, they are encouraged to simply leave it on the
table on the porch.

     That fact, combined with the truly
overwhelming generosity of this congregation, has at least two “pop-ins” a day.
Someone brings lunch by about noon and someone else brings dinner by about 5PM.
(That 
doesn’t even MENTION the cookies, sandwiches, fruit, cards, etc. that
have shown up out there!) Then we go and, instead of “carry out”…”carry IN”- we
bring our meal in and eat. It is truly remarkable! I am reminded of the movies
set in some Tibetan monastery where people come with a baby, slide it into a drawer
built into the massive stone wall that surrounds the monastery and then…slides
it through. Monks on the other side retrieve the baby and…I don’t know…raise
him or her in the ways of the Force…maybe! Food magically shows up twice each
day. It is ALWAYS delicious and ALWAYS greatly appreciated!

     I am napping every day- my body, while
doing a GREAT job of recovery, reminds me on a regular basis that I still have
a long road ahead! I am weaning off the steroids and pain meds- that will
happen early next week. And I march ever closer to the next big step- having
the stitches removed next Tuesday. And I continue to hold fast to the fact that
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- 2 HOURS of…Frasier?

Thursday, April 24- First Days Back

     When we last met, I had just been home and
was starting my first FULL day (Tuesday) back where I belong! As I write this,
it is early Wednesday evening, so I have had basically one partial day and 2
full days home from St. Louis. I would, under ANY “normal” circumstances, be
at church right now, having dinner with my church family. But…I am on the DL
(Disabled List for non-sports fans) and so…I am trying HARD to behave myself
and do what the doctor said!

     Someone asked me, “Why do you have to be
off for 6-8 weeks if you are doing so well?” And that, my fine-feathered friend,
is a GREAT question! The bottom line is this- I was under anesthetic for SO
long…under “the knife” for SO long…that it will simply take a long time to get
beyond that. I’m actually dealing with that reality pretty well right now…just
don’t ask my family! I do foresee, however, that I will have to be VERY
intentional in May and early June! BUT…I will “bridge that cross” when I come
to it!

     I am in the middle of slowly weaning off the
steroids that have been my very best friend for the past several days. I will
be completely “weaned” next Monday…just in time to go back to see the doctors
again! That’s right- I have follow-up appointments with the neurosurgeon and
ENT doctors next Tuesday…which also happens to be my beautiful wife’s birthday!
So we spent MY birthday recovering from surgery and we will spend HER birthday
seeing doctors in St. Louis and then driving back!

     Speaking of driving…I can’t! I am banned
from being behind the wheel until my neurosurgeon signs off. That is also a bit
of a challenge for me! I can’t lift anything over 10 pounds, which means I can’t
pick up MUCH. It also means I can’t take our dog out because, even though I don’t
have to pick her up to take her out, she is a big, strong hunting dog who can
pull PRETTY hard when she sees a squirrel or cat!

     I have to get up every few hours in the
middle of the night to take meds, but that is spreading out more and more as I
get farther and farther away from surgery. I have a total of 8 meds that I am
taking right now and, other than the daily over-the-counter Zyrtec I have taken
for years for allergies…ALL of them are new!

     I continue to SLOWLY regain control of my
right-side facial muscles. I can currently raise my right eyebrow, fully close
my right eye and do a little of the “Elvis sneer” on my right side. I could do
NONE of those things the day of the surgery. My right eye, while responding, still isn’t blinking correctly. That means special eye drops and a (somewhat) failed
attempt at sleeping with an eye patch. My mouth has been the slowest to
rebound- I am still talking much more out of the left side than the right side.
And my smile is still crooked. But what 
we’ve noticed was that the muscle
control that HAS recovered has done so in REVERSE order of how I lost it. In
other words, it has been “last out, first back in” thus far. And that means
that I probably am NOT done regaining facial control…a good thing!

     As I
said before, the right side hearing is gone…period. There are potential
surgeries down the road that MIGHT help that issue. There are also very
specialized hearing assist devices that could make a difference. But that is
pretty low on my priority list right now!

     The jaw continues to heal- I can open it a
BIT wider without much pain now. I just have to make sure and continue to work
the jaw as it heals so that the resulting scar tissue serves to hold the joint
together rather than simply impede more movement.

     I have said it many times already and I
will continue to say it…over and over again- I am overwhelmed by how many
people have willingly, lovingly walked this journey with me. Being such a
private person, this experience has taken me WAY out of my comfort zone…and, in
an odd way, it may just be one of the best things that ever happened to me!
Thank you for walking the journey with me! 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- Food is a WHOLE New Experience!

Wednesday, April 23- Countdown to Release!

      When we last left our hero, it was
Saturday morning and I had been moved to a regular room. Late morning, the
neurosurgeon and his associate came to the room the check on me. He was amazed
at how great I was doing- said I was at least a full day ahead of schedule! In
fact, he said that, under normal protocol, I could go home THAT day- 2 days after
surgery! He said that, normally, they would get a follow-up MRI a few months
after surgery to establish a new, post-surgical baseline. But he also said
that, under these rare and unusual circumstances, it would be better to get one
now as opposed to later. So, the new plan was that I would get the drain
removed from my head, get a new MRI and then go home on Sunday- Easter!

     I was 7th in line for the MRI,
so both the MRI and the drain removal were to happen Saturday evening. I KNEW
they had to happen in order to be released, so I asked VERY regularly about
each of them. The day wore on into evening and nothing was happening. Finally, the
nurse said that the drain removal would NOT happen yet on Saturday- it was too
late in the evening. I was still, however, in line for the MRI. BUT…it was a
Saturday night, the weather was nice and they only had one MRI going that time
of day/day of the week. All that combined meant that my “7th in line”
really meant nothing!

     At
5AM Easter morning, a doctor actually came in to remove the drain from my head.
It was the doctor I have come call “Dr. Kill-Dare”! (He was the one who put the
extra stitches on my head AND back as he worked on both the head and spinal drains!)
I saw him and braced for impact! However, that experience was quite surprising
and refreshing! He took the drain out of my head and there was…ready?…NO pain!
Hallelujah! An Easter miracle! Now, all that was between me and the door was
that pesky MRI.

     But then, at 6:30AM, a tech came to
transport me to the 3rd floor- MRI time! I was wheelchaired down
there JUST in time to realize that nobody had my chart! So I waited in MRI
while it was tracked down. It was almost 7AM before I was wheeled in to the
actual exam room.

     Usually, my MRI’s take about 45 minutes.
This time, however, again because of the uniqueness of the case, they wanted
more images than normal. So 45 minutes of MRI stretched into about 100 minutes
of MRI! (I DID manage to sleep through part of the test!) By a few minutes after
9AM, I was back in my room and all that was left was to have the doctor sign
off, the meds prescribed and filled and me to have REAL clothes on again!

     My wife, sons and sister showed up later
in the morning…and got to watch me eat my hospital lunch! (Oh, joy!) But by
mid-afternoon, I was wearing REAL underwear (it was, not gonna lie…glorious!),
jeans and a Super Hero t-shirt my Wednesday Morning Men’s Bible Study got for
me! I slipped on my $10 Wal-Mart special tennis shoes, hopped into thee
wheelchair and made for the exit!

     My brother and his wife (whose house is
graciously offered to us when we make our seemingly voluminous trips to St.
Louis) had a GREAT Easter dinner waiting for us…and I could even eat much of
it! We sat around and chatted. I took a nap. We sat around and chatted some
more. I went to bed. And then, on Monday morning, we were up, packed and in the
car…heading home! Almost exactly 4 days after I was admitted to the hospital
for this major surgery, I was out and on my way home. It was THE most glorious
(if not unusual) Easter weekend EVER!

     The icing on this overwhelming cake came when
we got back into town. Before we actually drove home, we swung by the kennel to
pick up our baby…Zoey- our 9-year old black lab/English pointer mix! They
calculated the charges, told us thee total and then said that, since we had a
$140 credit on our account…we didn’t owe anything! My wife and I just stared at
each other, trying to figure out what that meant. The bottom line is that,
after all the OTHER amazing things the good folks of the church we currently
serve have done for us, SOMEONE (and we honestly don’t know who) paid for our
kenneling! After a truly unbelievable week that showed us God’s amazing grace
time after time, it was THAT moment that finally brought the tears to my eyes!

     As I write this, on Tuesday evening, I am
home. I am off work for 6-8 weeks. I have already swung the gamut from “I feel
85%” to “I need to go to bed” more than once. BUT…I’m home! I have been
surrounded by MORE love and MORE support than I ever thought possible…than I deserve.
But isn’t that the very definition of God’s love? NOT getting what we DO
deserve and GETINNG what we DON’T deserve? And let me reiterate…again…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- First Days Back

Tuesday, April 22- Countdown to Release!

     So, we pick up the story where last we
left our hero! He was being moved to a regular room, bypassing the Step-Down
unit and while making the quantum leap from the ICU. I did, however, leave out
a rather…interesting…story from late the first night- Thursday- after surgery-
in the ICU.

     I had two drains installed- one in my spinal
column to A. drain spinal fluid FOR surgery, so that gravity could naturally
pull the brain down out of the way and B. so that they could help drain off any
unwanted pressure that might built AFTER surgery and the other was a “brain
drain” that came out of my skull, under the compression bandages and down by my
right ear. This drain served to automatically and constantly drain off excess
fluid from the surgery, thereby diminishing the build-up in my head.

     Two doctors came into my ICU room late
that first evening and told me they needed to look at my “brain drain”. It didn’t seem to be creating adequate suction and they wanted to know why. So they
pulled off all of the compressing bandaging that was on my head…with not TOO much
delicacy…and started troubleshooting the drainage system. They finally decided
that the skin around the drain 
wasn’t tight enough to maintain the desired
suction. So they decided to put another stitch on my head to seal it tighter.
He said, and I quote, “It’s going to feel like a bee sting!” Well, let me
assure you that it felt like a mighty big bee! After they stitched, they
re-applied the compression dressing and let me go back to sleep.

     Later, after they moved me to a regular
room, they decided it was time to take the spinal drain out of my back. The
same doctor came in to do it. I “assumed the position” and he went to work. He
had to take the drain out and then…ready?…put another stitch in? (Sound
familiar?!) He again told me, “It will feel like a bee sting.” The drain coming
out wasn’t too bad…it wasn’t great but not TOO bad…but the “new stitch” was a
different story altogether! I have a rather high tolerance to pain and I had to
hang on for dear life while he stitched. I was relatively vocal over the amount
of pain, too. When he got done, he said, as if I had been as quiet as a mouse, “Did
that hurt?” I 
didn’t lie, “Oh, yeah!” His response? “Huh- I didn’t think it
would hurt that much!” I responded, “Well, if that was a bee sting…it must have
been a rather Jurassic bee!” On my birthday, they brought me a GIANT cupcake
(which I couldn’t eat, but my younger son enjoyed immensely!) and a button that
said, “It’s my birthday!” They also sang to me! Pretty awesome! We’ll put a pin
in things right there and pick the story up Saturday…Countdown to Release!

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

     Tomorrow- Countdown to Release!

Monday, April 21- The Tale of the Tape

     The tale of the tape- I was under anesthesia for about 9 hours on Thursday. As my wife said, they did a last-minute CT scan so that they had one that was fully compatible with their equipment than the newest one they had. I was, I must tell you…GOOD with that! 
     So the CT scan was done. Then, by about 8 AM, I was out for the count. They then began the prep work. By about 10AM, they made the first incision. That incision starts at the bottom of my right ear, goes basically straight up toward the top of my head, then makes a elongated question mark turn to the left across the top or my skull. 
      They spent HOURS digging hunks of giant-cell reparative Granuloma out of my head. They rebuilt the temporal part of the skull that had been eroded by the tumor with a titanium mesh. They found that the bone in my inner right ear that holds a fluid that controls my balance is gone. (This fully explains that night back in June when I suddenly had the worst attack on vertigo ever. I missed the FIRST Sunday ever because of health. THAT was the night the bone ruptured!) and they confirmed that the cap that holds the 2 halves of my right jawbone together is gone. So they used that same titanium mesh to build a cap for my jaw and repair the “brain floor”. By about 4:30PM, they said they were starting to close. They wrapped up everything about 6PM. 
     The ABSOLUTE first thing I remember was my wife telling me they got 99.9% of the tumor removed. That was a GOOD thing to be the first thing to remember. They had to come in late that first night because the drain in my head wasn’t working right. They took ALL the bandaging off, poked around my head and then put another stitch in there…with NO pain relief. It was FUN! Friday…GOOD Friday….my birthday…they moved me straight to a regular room, bypassing the step-down unit altogether. 
      Tomorrow, I will pick up there and carry the story a bit longer. But let me just say that the last few days have been surreal, painful, hard, scary…and absolutely miraculous! Everybody from the doctors tot the nurses and the techs were amazed at my recovery. As my District Superintendent…one of the best pulpit preachers ever…said when I told him that, “They don’t understand the power of prayer, do they?!” They may no…but I sure do! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the overwhelming support you have offered my family over the past 10+ months. We have been SO blessed by your love and support. We ask that you would continue what you have begun as this continues to unfold time and space. This whole experience has reminded we of how great God is AND how great you all are!
     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 Tales From the Hospital!

Sunday, April 20- Reach Out Your Hand

     A man was on trial for murder. And while there was strong evidence against him, there was no body. Still, the lawyer feared his client would be convicted. As he began his closing argument, he said, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you this afternoon. In just one minute, the supposed victim in this trial will walk through that door- alive and well!” He then stood and looked at the main doors into the courtroom. Along with him, the jurors looked, the judge looked, the people in the gallery looked. Everyone stared at the doors. And…the seconds passed. Then…the minute passed. And yet- nothing happened. Finally, the lawyer turned back to the jury and said, “Actually, I made that whole thing up. BUT…you all looked at the doors with great anticipation, and that sounds to me like reasonable doubt.” The closing arguments ended and the jury went into deliberations. But they were only out for a few minutes. When they returned, they found the defendant guilty. His lawyer was stunned, 
“How could you find him guilty? You MUST have had some doubt- you all stared at the door!” The foreman of the jury spoke up, “We looked…but your client didn’t. He had NO reasonable doubt.”
    Today is the 7th Sunday of Lent- Easter Sunday! Today, we wrap up our current sermon series- Full Promises. This series has led us right up to the empty tomb and the risen Savior of Easter. Along the way, we’ve cherry-picked 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. 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. The 3rd week’s promise is that your paralysis will be gone. Week 4’s promise was that your panic will be gone. Week 5, we focused on this promise- your addiction will be gone. Last week, as we neared the end of our journey, we looked at another promise- your unwillingness will be gone. Today, we “bring it home” with perhaps the best full promise of them all- your doubt will be gone.
     John 20:1, 11-18 “Early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t realize that it was Him.  “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out, “Teacher!” Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”
     When Mary got to the tomb, she had some doubt. She MUST have been uncertain to some extent. She had to be a BIT undecided. She was hesitant to believe because she asked where they had taken the body. Her mind was suspended between 2 opposing propositions and she was unable to fully agree on either of them. And she was NOT the only one to doubt. When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples- His most trusted “inner circle”- there was at least one who doubted.
     John 20:24-31- Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
     Many of the disciples had nicknames- titles that better described who they were. There was Judas the Betrayer, Peter the Rock, John the Beloved, James the Lesser (Did he KNOW he was “The Lesser”? If so, that had to stink!) and…Thomas the Doubter. Theologian Frederick Buechner once asked, “Why doesn’t God send us a sign to dispel our doubts; a message in the sky, written by the rearrangement of the universe, with suns and moons to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, so that the night sky would read, ‘I Am God! I Really Do Exist!’?”
     Comedian and director Woody Allen once stated that he would gladly believe in God if He would just send him a sign. He suggested that a large deposit in a bank account under the name “Woody Allen” just might do it! And let’s be honest- there is nothing new about the desire to have a sign from God. We simply want confirmation for things. Like Buechner, Allen and so many others, Thomas (he of doubting fame) demanded a sign- he wanted proof . But unlike the other disciples, Thomas was not around on Easter morning when Jesus showed up. And when those who saw Jesus told Thomas that He was alive, there was no saintly wonder or acceptance in his response. Instead, he folded his arms, raised his eyebrows and said, “Exactly how gullible do you think I am? You all are simply in denial. Jesus is dead.”
     Thomas questioned Jesus’ resurrection as quickly as we are prone to question the stories on the cover of the supermarket tabloids. The resurrection story is an easy one to question. It was a dark, cold and early morning. The 1st witnesses on the scene were emotionally and mentally strained- their eyes were full of tears, their hearts were full of sorrow and their minds were full of confusion. Who could blame them for their wishful thinking? And yet…historians and biblical scholars have not been kind to Thomas. They show their disappointment in him as they ask, “Couldn’t he do better than that?” But perhaps the more pertinent question is this- would we have done any better? Maybe the reason we are so quick to look down on Thomas is that we see a bit too much or ourselves in him. Maybe we are more like Thomas than we either believe or are willing to admit. Maybe we, too, have doubts.
     Maybe we doubt the story. Maybe we doubt God’s love. Shoot, maybe we doubt God altogether! We probably don’t DENY Him completely. If we did, we probably wouldn’t be here this morning. Instead, we’d be neck deep in the morning newspaper a cup of coffee, br
eakfast and an Easter egg hunt! We WANT to believe, but we catch ourselves wondering– what if? And what if NOT?
     But we make a mistake when we suppress or ignore that doubt. We make a mistake when we PRETEND to be faithful. It’s like ignoring that sharp pain in your chest and hoping it will just go away. So maybe “Doubting” Thomas is a bit unfair.
     To be true, Thomas was a man of great courage. When Jesus said, “Let’s go to Jerusalem”, it was Thomas who replied, “Let’s ALL go…and die with Him.” And it was with THAT courage that Thomas confronted his doubts. He wanted to face them head on so he could resolve them.
His doubt was not evidence of his lack of faith. Instead, it was a desire to ground his faith in facts. Thomas must have been from Missouri…The “Show Me” State…because he said, Show me! Unless I see the nail marks, I won’t believe.” And then, he got his wish. A week later, Jesus appeared to him in dramatic fashion. “Put your finger here. Look, reach out, stop doubting and believe.” In an instance, his doubt was gone in one giant leap of faith. 
     Others called the resurrected Jesus things like, “Rabbi, prophet, Messiah and King”, but Thomas cut to the chase, “My Lord and my God!” That is one of the most overlooked statements in the Bible- “My Lord and my God”. For a Jewish person to make that statement is nothing short of incredible. It is the only place where “God” is used to describe Jesus without any qualification. The most blatant doubter of the resurrection utters the greatest confession of Who Jesus Christ is- it is both unexpected and convincing. The one unequivocal statement in the Gospels of the Divinity of Jesus comes from none other than Doubting Thomas. Thomas was able to get answers to his questions of faith AND come out STRONGER on the other side. He cared and was willing to ask the hard questions…AND accept the answers. 
     If I said that there were 4.2 billion fiber strands in the carpet, you would probably believe it…mostly because you probably don’t care! Doubting shows, among other things, care. It points to something worth investigating. Do you know what the biggest Christian misconception is? It is that questioning is wrong. But to want to gain a better insight is not wrong. Which faith is greater- one that never doubts or one that doubts, investigates and then believes? 
     People complain, “The church is not meeting my needs. The church supposed to meet my needs!” But you know what? The church doesn’t exist to meet our needs. We exist to carry out the work of the Church. Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want if you just help others get what they want.” When people stop saying, “The church is not meeting my needs” and start saying, “Whose needs can I meet?” THEN and ONLY THEN will our needs be met. The great Vince Lombardi was once asked what it took to have a winning team. He said that lots of teams know the fundamentals and have discipline…but don’t win. He said they are missing that 3rd ingredient- they have to care for one another. They have to love each other. Each player has to think, “I have to do my job well so he can do his.” In a healthy church, each Christian learns to care for others.
     A family came to church on Easter Sunday. The Pastor, excited to see them and wanting to encourage them to come more often, told the husband, “You need to join the Army of the Lord!” The man replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor!” The pastor asked, “Then how come I never see you except for Christmas and Easter?” The man looked around conspiratorially and then whispered, “I’m in the secret service!” This Easter, I invite you to wrestle with strengthening your faith. I encourage you to bring your doubts to the tomb, be willing to ask the hard questions, examine things and then figure out what’s going on. Do you have doubts? It is best to face them and search for the answers- in church, where a church family can nurture you, where your questions can be answered and where your faith can grow.
     A parting thought- laminin is a glycoprotein that is a component of the body’s connective tissue. It promotes cell adhesion. It is the glue-like protein that holds cells, tissues…and life together. And there has been a somewhat recent finding that points to the author of life. Recent research with powerful electron microscopes have found a shape at the core of this glycoprotein. And guess what the shape is? A cross! Is that a coincidence? A flight of fancy? Wishful thinking? Or is it Divine design? Is it God’s stamp on His Creation? A little boy asked his Grandma, “How old are you?” She replied, “39…and holding!” The boy thought about that for a moment, then responded, “How old would you be…if you let go?” This Easter, let go. Let go of your doubt, your uncertainty, your unwillingness and your fear. Let go…and …come to Jesus.

Saturday, April 19- Post-Surgical Update II

Surgery was Thursday. Check back throughout the day for any updates.

    It is 3PM on Saturday…and I (Rev.Mark) am writing this myself! I moved from ICU yesterday straight to a regular room right before dinner yesterday…skipping the  step-down unit altogether! Huzzah! I have had a really good day today. I am unhooked from everything except a drain in my head. Which is coming out yet today. I am eating soft food because of my jaw…but I am eating! 
     The bad news is that the cap that connects the upper and lower halves on my jaw is just flat gone on the right side. But they put titanium mesh over that joint. They are hoping that, along with built-up of scar tissue, it will provide enough strength to support that jaw movement. Further, the bone that is in my inner ear on that side…is not there anymore! That means that my hearing will NOT recover on that side…short of more procedures which may or may not need to happen down the road.
     But the good news FAR outweighs the bad. They got 99.9% of the tumor out! There is a tiny bit left on the outside lining of my brain, which they….understandably…didn’t want to mess with. I am having an MRI later tonight, to create a new “baseline”. They are shocked at how well I’m doing!
     Tomorrow. What was to be my Easter sermon will be the post. So let me just say, right here and right now what I have been saying all along- God is god, all the time!

Friday, April 18- Post-Surgical Update

Surgery was yesterday. Check back throughout the day to read any updates.

I apologize for not finishing the updates.  I was just so overjoyed that the surgery was finished and had been up so late that I forgot about the updates.   So here is what I know up to now…..
They finished the surgical part of Mark’s surgery around 4:30 p.m.  The doctors closed him up and then came out to talk to us.  They were able to get 99.9% of the tumor.  Praise God!  They had to leave a little of the tumor because it was the attached to the sheath that protects the brain, and they didn’t want to pierce the sheath.  The hearing in Mark’ s right ear is probably gone ;the tumor had penetrated that area and had destroyed some of the bones necessary for hearing.  The cap of the jaw was also destroyed by the tumor.  His jaw joint is still intact though!  Another praise!  He has titanium mesh on his jaw and where the temporal bone used to to be.  We saw him last night and he spoke to us and tried to smile, but was still rather groggy.  He had a fairly good night and was tolerating the pain well through the evening and morning hours.
Today we went over, and Mark was sitting in a recliner, alert and trying to smile.  Still has some jaw pain and the facial nerve in the mouth is not working as well as he would like.  His eyes were clear and even though he was glad to see us, he was tired and sleepy.  He is eating soft foods and had a tasty lunch consisting of mashed potatoes and pudding.  We decided to leave and let him rest.  When we left he was in the recliner and watching Cardinal baseball.  Couldn’t get much better than that for him!  They called around three today and he is now in a regular room.  No step down unit for my husband!  Thank you once again for your support of Mark!  He so appreciates all of you who are following his journey!  Our God has been and will continue to be faithful, so I hope you all will continue to stick with Jesus!

Thursday, April 17- Surgery Update

Today is Thursday, April 17th. The surgery is/was scheduled for 7:30AM. As things unfold…and as time allows…updates will be posted to this page. Check back for the latest news.

Hi, Everyone!  This is Joanne, Mark’s wife doing the update.  I really don’t have too much to tell. We got to the hospital @ 5:30 a.m.  Then it was hurry up and wait after that.  We met with the doctors and they wanted to do another CT scan because the one Mark had done in Peoria wasn’t compatible with the machine in the OR.  So they have taken him back to the surgical suite and but haven’t actually started the surgery.  The surgery might take over 8 hours, but the doctors have assured me that Mark is their number 1 priority and that they will work slowly and methodically to make sure of the best possible outcome. Thank you all for the love and support that you have shown Mark and our family.  We so appreciate it!  I would be remiss if I didn’t say that you should stick with Jesus too!  I will try to update when I know something knew!
Update #2.  Surgery started at 10:10.  The clock has started!  So blessed to have family and friends with me at the hospital.  Bob Shaw, a friend of Mark’s since grade school and a friend of mine since high school came to be with us.  Mark’s sister, Carol and his brother, Michael are with us now. Mark’s sister, Sherry and brother-in-law, Jim, and his sister-in-law, Karen will be coming after work.  We are so blessed to have so many people praying for us too!  We feel the power of prayer as we wait.  
Update #3 Tony,  Mark’s nurse in the surgical suite, called and said that Mark is tolerating the surgery well.  They are trying to get all the tumor and it is slow going.  Looks like we might hit the 8 hour mark after all.  Thank you again for the prayers being lifted up for Mark.  Such power in the name of Jesus!

Wednesday, April 16- A Watershed Day

          The way I figure it- today is a
watershed day in my life. Today is one of those days that will change my life…forever.
Now, I would guess that, right now, you are thinking, “Isn’t the surgery TOMORROW,
Pastor? 
Wouldn’t THAT be the day?” Yes, the surgery IS tomorrow. And yes, that
will be a major day in my life…regardless of how things go.

     The reason I am focusing on today is
twofold: 1. It’s, you know, TODAY…and therefore easier to wrap my head around
than, say, tomorrow! And 2. I KNOW that, regardless of what the next 24 hours…2
days…5 days…hold, my life changes…TODAY…in a very real, tangible and permanent
way. The “me” that comes back to my house…whenever that is…simply can’t be the
same “me” that leaves today.

     That doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly
start wearing a monocle, dressing in 17
th century period clothing
and speaking in a Scottish accent! What it DOES man is that major events in
your life can’t HELP but change you. I had 2 major surgeries, 12 months apart, 32
years ago. And there has not been ONE day since that hasn’t been directly
impacted by those surgeries.

     Likewise, I met a girl just a few months
shy of 38 years ago. We met on a hayride- I had just broken up with a girl and
she was dating a friend of mine. And there has not been a day…an hour…a
nanosecond…since that 
hasn’t been impacted by that meeting!

     So exactly how will today change me? I
have not one good clue! My PRAYER is that, through this event, God will reveal
things to me that, in my hard-headedness, I have failed to “get” thus far. I
pray that God uses this whole…mess…as He has done SO well so far…to continue to
mold me into the person He would have me be.

     After a 3 ½ hour drive, we will spend
tonight at my brother’s house. And then, tomorrow…all will be revealed! We will
leave my brother’s house around 4:30 AM…A stinkin’ M!…to get to the hospital
by 5:30AM. I will check in and then the whirlwind will begin. If the schedule
holds, they will begin surgery at 7:30AM. I have NO idea how long the surgery
will be. (But I DO know that, since this is such a rare thing that I have…my
mom always said I was a special snowflake!…their might well be an audience.
All I can say is this- if they change admission- I want a cut!) But SOMETHING
will be posted on this site sometime on Thursday regarding my condition. I don’t
know when it will be and I don’t think it will be a very long post, but my
awesome wife has assured me that she will post something! Thanks for your
prayers and support- they are both felt AND appreciated!

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

     Tomorrow- Prayer- It’s the MOST You Can
Do!

Tuesday, April 15- Words Can’t Describe it

     I have a confession to make- I don’t
receive help very well! I am willing to GIVE help! In fact, I have a Master’s
Degree in giving help! But I apparently failed the classes on receiving help. I’m
sure that it is, at least in part, because of the way I was raised. I have
shared before that we were a “spit on it, rub dirt on it, walk it off”, pull
yourself up by your own bootstraps kind of family. We didn’t NEED anybody’s
help and, frankly, we didn’t WANT anybody’s help!

     And so…I struggle with receiving help. But
if there is one thing this whole ‘tumor business” has taught me, it is that to
NOT let other people help is to both take that ministry out of their hands AND
to short-change your blessing from God. And neither of those are good things!

     I feel that, as the pastor of the church,
my job is NOT to do ministry. “Gasp! What did you SAY, Pastor? What do you
MEAN- NOT do ministry?” Again, let me say- my job is NOT to do ministry. My job
is to equip OTHERS to do ministry. You see, if I focus on doing ministry, I
will get a decent amount done. I have an odd and varied skill set that would
allow me to accomplish a variety of ministries. But that list would, in the
end, be painfully finite.

     But if I focus on equipping OTHERS to do
ministry, then that list grows…exponentially. Why? Because I equip 10 people to
do ministry. And they each equip 10 people to do ministry…and so on. Before you
know it, there are dozens…hundreds…of folks actively involved in ministry. It
is the BEST, most positive, most PURE “pyramid scheme” I have ever seen!

     And so, my emphasis is to equip others to
do ministry. And that’s all well and good…until they want to do ministry for
ME! Then…well…that’s hard! I’m geared to be on “send”, not “receive”! But the
people with whom I do ministry- the members of the church I currently serve-
have forced me to look at things from a different perspective! They have
stepped up in ways I never dreamed possible. They have volunteered to do my job
for me while I’m gone. They have prayed for me. They have brought me food. They
have sent me cards. They have given me prayer stones, prayer coins, prayer
shawls and prayer quilts. They have come over to the house several times a day
to check on my wife’s parents and let their dog out while we have been gone.
They have given us cold, hard cash to help defray the costs of the near-constant
trips to St. Louis. And, most of all, they have loved me. It would have been SO
easy for them to focus on what their pastor was NOT doing. It would have even
been understandable, from some perspectives. But instead, they have been
supportive, loving and caring. And that, again, has FORCED me out of my comfort
zone. It has made me rethink my whole “I am a rock, I am an island” Simon and
Garfunkel approach to life. I have HAD to be open, vulnerable and receptive.
And for that…I am eternally grateful. During this rather unpleasant stretch in
my life, they have taught me something that I needed to learn!

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

     Tomorrow- A Watershed Day

Monday, April 14- Just Call Me Marvin K. Mooney!

     In 1972, Theodore Geisel…Dr. Seuss…released
a book called “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” Designed for children
just beginning to read, it’s a fun look at sending a kid to bed.

“Marvin K. Mooney,
will you please go now!

The time has come. The
time is now. Just go, go, go! I don’t care how.

You can go by foot.
You can go by cow.  Marvin K. Mooney, will
you please go now!

You can go on
skates. You can go on skis. You can go in a hat. But please go- please!

I don’t care. You
can go by bike. You can go on a Zike-Bike if you like.

If you like , you
can go in an old blue shoe.

Just go, go, GO! Please
do, do, do, DO!

Marvin K. Mooney, I
don’t care how.

Marvin K. Mooney, will
you please GO NOW!

You can go on
stilts. You can go by fish. You can go in a Crunk-Car if you wish.

If you wish you may
go by lion’s tale. Or stamp yourself and go by mail.

Marvin K. Mooney, don’t
you know the time has come to go, go, GO!

Get on your way! Please
Marvin K! You might like going in a Zumble-Zay.

You can go by
balloon or broomstick. Or you can go by camel in a bureau drawer.

You can go by
bumble-boat or jet. I don’t care how you go. Just get!

Marvin K. Mooney, I
don’t care how. Marvin K. Mooney, Will you please GO NOW!

I said GO and GO I
meant!

The time had come,
so…Marvin WENT.”

     I can’t TELL you how many times I read that
book to my boys. In fact, there was a time that I could “read” the book without
even looking at the pages- I had it memorized! And this book, after all those
years, has popped back into my head of late. Why? Because…the time has come,
the time is now to go, go, go! I don’t care how!

     After almost a year of messing with this
tumor, the time has come. After all those appointments and all that medicine,
the time has come. After becoming profoundly deaf in my right ear AND partially
paralyzed on the right side of my face, the time has come. After coming to a
point where I can’t adequately close my right eye and I struggle to drink a
glass of water without it turning into a dribble glass, the time has come!

     On Wednesday, we will pack the car and
head south…which is not NEARLY as fun as “loadin’ up the truck and movin’ to
Beverly…Hills that is! Swimmin’ pools! Movie stars!” The snow ball is roiling down
the hill and it is gaining some serious momentum as it does. And there is no
stopping it at this point. I will spend hours on Thursday completely unaware of
my surroundings. I will spend my 53rd birthday on Friday in the Intensive
Care Unit. I will spend Easter Sunday in the hospital. And, at this moment…I
ready to get this show on the road!

    Thank you for walking this journey with me.
For those of you who only know me through this website, you can’t imagine what
a challenge it has been to be this open, this transparent. I tend to be a rather
private person by nature. And yet, it seemed obvious to me right from the start
that I had a choice- be a big jerk, refuse to face this thing head on and
refuse to let others into “my world” OR…suck it up and be open, sharing this
journey with you! And although it was a hard choice to make…I made the right
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- Words Can’t Describe It

Sunday, April 13- I Love a Parade!

     It was Palm Sunday but because of a sore throat, 5-year-old Johnny stayed home from church with a sitter. When the family returned home, they were carrying several palm fronds. Johnny asked them what they were for. “People held them over Jesus’ head as he walked by,” his father told him. “Wouldn’t you know it,” Johnny fumed, “the one Sunday I don’t go and he shows up.” 
    Today is the 6th 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 next Sunday’s empty tomb and risen Savior. Along the way, we’ve cherry-picked 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. 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. The 3rd week’s promise is that your paralysis will be gone. Week 4’s promise was that your panic will be gone. Last week, we focused on this promise- your addiction will be gone. Today, as we near the end of our journey, we look at another promise- your unwillingness will be gone.
     Isaiah 45:4-6 For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.
     So today’s empty promise is that your unwillingness will be gone. What does “unwillingness” mean? It refers to something that is done or given reluctantly, offering opposition, obstinate”. Synonyms include afraid, contrary, hesitant, opposed, reluctant, resistant, uncheerful and uncooperative. 
     Have you been to a parade? Of course you have! The bands, the floats, the clowns, etc! Personally, I can’t imagine how many parades I’ve been in, after all those years in marching band. Well, this was Jesus’ last week to live and He felt it was time to go public in a big way. The  long-awaited Messiah, the King the people had waited for, was finally here. It was Palm Sunday, and seemingly the whole city threw a parade for Jesus. He was the Ancient Near Eastern equivalent of a rock star, complete with the wild adulation. 
     John 12:12-19 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!”  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him. Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
     The minister was visiting one of the children’s Sunday School classes in his church. To see if they had been paying attention, he decided to ask them a simple question based on last Sunday’s lesson.  “Who tore down the walls of Jericho?” The kids all agreed, “We aren’t sure…but it wasn’t us!” Frustrated, the preacher asks the teacher if she knew. “Well, Pastor, I’ve known these kids for a long time. If they say they didn’t do it…then I believe them!” The preacher, dejected, left the class and immediately ran into the Sunday School  Superintendent. The preacher told him what happened. “Well now, Preacher, don’t blow it out of proportion. If the walls need fixed, then we’ll pay for them out of the Building Fund!”
     Palm Sunday is, at its core, a bittersweet proposition- even in the midst of wild, frenzied celebration, there were those who were plotting to kill Jesus. Even in the midst of ardent adulation, Jesus knows that Friday is coming. Many in crowd who are waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna in the highest!” today will trade those words of praise in for words like, “Crucify Him” in just a few short days. 
     At the parade, to speak out for Jesus is trendy- everybody’s doing it! At the trial, to speak out for Jesus is risky, even life-threatening- nobody with any sense is doing it! The truth is that it’s easy to praise God when you are sitting in church, surrounded by fellow believers- everybody’s doing it. The risky part is tomorrow, when you face a world that is not only NOT doing it- but they are openly mocking and laughing. 
     This parade brought out 4 different responses from the people:
1. Some offered Jesus the best they had- their cloaks. They gave willingly, sacrificially. Is that your attitude when you serve Jesus? Is your approach, “Count on me to give without fear”?
2. Some gave the “good”…but NOT the best. They kept cloaks and instead cut and laid down palm branches to line His path. It looked PRETTY good. Many people who were there did a pretty good job…but they couldn’t quite pull the string to give over and above…to give all of themselves. They had plenty of head knowledge, but they were lacking in the heart reality. They were still not fully convinced. 
3. Some were there, but never actually took part in the parade. Instead, they chose to stand off to the side. They were willing to take notice of the whole thing, but they were too concerned with the busyness of life to actually get involved. Jesus came, He passed by…and then they went back to business as usual- Standard Operating Procedure. They claimed to know Jesus, “I may not show it- I may not seem consistent in my faith, but God knows my heart.” The truth about that statement is that God DOES know! And that fact should cause us to RUN to Him…and give our lives to Him.
4. Some were threatened by Jesus. And the truth of the matter is that still happens now. You point out that the Bible says that Jesus is THE way, THE truth and THE life and ONLY through Him can you get to the Father and people get upset. They say that’s just being narrow-minded. But regardless of how you interpret it, that is exactly what God’s Word says! What attitude do you have? Are you willing to follow Jesus? Are you hesitant to follow Jesus? Or are you just angry about the whole thing?
     Is your faith willing or unwilling? Many of us come to Jesus expecting our life to suddenly start going well. But then, when the bottom drops out…and it will, we
ask, “Why did that happen? It’s not SUPPOSED to be this way!” If our faith is based on, dependent upon, our situation and our circumstance- then we will never be truly willing. So again- are you willing? Here are 3 signs, 3 indicators that show whether or not you are truly willing to follow Christ: 
     1. Your life is not self-centered, but Christ-centered. We tend to live our lives in a way that says, “God, here is my calendar and my agenda. It looks like I can squeeze You in here…and here!” We often turn to God when it is convenient…and useful. There is an ancient Spanish legend that talks about the villagers learning that the king is coming to visit. (And the king NEVER comes and visits, so it’s a BIG deal!) They plan a big celebration, but they are poor and don’t have many resources. But then, they get an idea. Many people in the town make their own wine. So they decide that they will all bring a large cup of their best wine to the town square. They will then pour it all into a large vat and offer it to the king. It will be the BEST he has ever tasted! On the big day, 100’s of townsfolk line up. They climb a small stairway and then pour their wine through a small opening in the top of the vat. Finally, the vat is full and the king arrives. He is escorted to the town square, given a silver cup and told to draw some wine. He takes the cup, places it under the spigot and turns the tap. Out pours…water! Every villager reasoned, “I will withhold my best wine, replacing it with water. With so much wine in there, the king will never know!” Sadly, everybody had that same idea. And in the end, the king was dishonored. We need to CHOOSE to honor our great King…Jesus Christ…by giving Him our very best- our firstfruits. We should withhold nothing from Him and instead give Him our all. 
     2. Your life is relationship-driven. If you are honest, do you have an agenda when it comes to your personal relationships? Do you have an agenda in your relationship with God? At the Palm Sunday parade, Jesus said that even the very rocks would cry out. So I wonder- what makes YOU cry out? Is it sports, TV, money, prestige, power…or is it Jesus? It breaks His heart every time we are disobedient and play games. The people that day shouted, “Hosanna!” Do you know what that word means? It literally means, “Save us now!” The people were shouting…excited. They were full of praise and expectation. Jesus was coming to finally, once and for all, deal with the Romans in their lives! But they were wrong. He didn’t come to deal with the Romans in their lives. Instead, He came to deal with the sin in their lives. 
     3. Your faith is not swayed by personal trials and crises. Historically, a horse was used by a king when entering a city as a conqueror. A donkey was used when entering the city in peace. The donkey was also a service animal. He was there to carry heavy burdens, oppressive loads. Jesus is the King of peace and He is ready to carry our heavy burdens, our oppressive loads. 
     How then do we become more willing? We need to:
     1. have more patient. We need to let the shepherd lead us…from the front. A woman was at the store, where she observed a man and his young son, who was whining for candy. The man kept saying, “Be patient Billy; you’re almost finished!” She kept running into them and the boy kept getting louder and louder in his desire for candy. Meanwhile, the man kept saying, “We’re almost done Billy- be patient!” She ran into them one last time at the checkout counter. This time, the boy was REALLY loud about his desire for candy. The man simply responded, “Hang on Billy- we are almost to the car!” The woman, amazed at what she had seen, just HAD to tell the man. “I must say, you show great patience in the way you talk to Billy!” The man looked at her, sighed and replied, “You don’t understand…I’M Billy!” We are highly impatient people who need to be more patient. We tend to get in a hurry and want to jump out in front of God. But that behavior tends to get us in trouble. We need to be willing to let Jesus lead from the front. 
     2. be more obedient. We need to spend less time worrying what others think. We need to spend less time whining and complaining about every little thing. To quote that great theologian Larry the Cable Guy, we need to just get’r done!
     3. have a clearer pic of Who Jesus is. Have you ever waved at someone or, worse, started talking to someone because you think they are someone else? The people praised Jesus as their King on Sunday. But by Friday, they were ready to “crucify Him”! They were blind to the truth about Jesus. 
     The older I get, the more I come to realize the impact attitude has on your life- it can make or break an individual, a family, a church. Why? Because life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it. And we have a choice regarding our attitude. We can’t change the past, but we CAN impact the future. On this Palm Sunday, it is time for us to examine our responses and our attitudes. What choice will YOU make?
     Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
     There were 1,000’s of people at the parade. Each of them got to decide how they close wanted to get to Jesus. Today, we get to make that same decision. We get to decide how close we want to get to Jesus. Are we willing to come right alongside Him…to stand in the shadow of the cross? Jesus was falsely accused, unjustly tried and sentenced, beaten half to death and dragged through the streets like an animal. A crown of thorns was jammed down on His head. Nails pierced His body, holding Him form to the cross. And in the end, when everything was done…and not a moment sooner, He said, “It is finished”. He then willingly laid down His life. 
     Today marks the beginning of Holy Week, where our sins…past, present and future…are the nails that hold Jesus to the cross. Once we realize that…once we acknowledge that…our unwillingness will be gone. There are dark days still ahead…but Sunday’s coming.
    Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
     Tomorrow- Just Call Me Marvin K. Mooney!

Saturday, April 12- The World CAN Spin Without Me!

     I have had a STARTLING revelation- the
world CAN spin without me! I don’t know when this actually happened, but I find
it more than a little troubling! I mean, all this time I thought that, if I
wasn’t in the middle of things, then…nothing would happen!

     Seriously, have you ever experienced that?
You were away from a person or situation for an extended time and while you
were away…things actually changed?! My wife’s grandpa was born in Scotland,
coming over to this country when he was somewhere in the neighborhood of 20
years old. After a lifetime lived in America, he went back to “the old country”
for a visit- some 50 years after he was last there. He hadn’t seen his sister
for all those years. She met him at the airport and the FIRST thing she said to
him, after ALL those years, was, “Jimmy! You’ve changed!”

     We tend to think that life sort of goes
into suspended animation when we are not in it. People don’t actually DO things
when we are not there to see them…DO they? But I have had to face the reality
that people actually DO things when I am not around! And frankly, in my current
situation, that’s a GOOD thing!

     For the next 2+ months, the church I
currently serve, with some help from other clergy in our conference, will keep
the doors open and the ball rolling while I am gone. They will continue to
offer great ministries. They will continue to be warm and welcoming. They will
continue to focus on connecting people to Jesus Christ.

     All kidding aside, I KNOW that this
congregation will do a GREAT job while I am gone. They were an awesome congregation
long before I darkened their door and they will be an awesome congregation long
after I am gone. God is doing great things here. And, at the end of the day,
the things that He is doing are NOT about me. Shoot, they’re not even about the
church members. What is happening here is about the power and presence of our
Creator, bringing people together and changing lives as only He can!

     As I recover in the parsonage…right next
door to the church….so close and yet so far…I will do so confident in the knowledge
that the church is in GOOD hands…HIS hands!

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

     Tomorrow- I Love a Parade