Our Faith

 

I know that there are many of you who have already experienced something very similar to what we are going through. You may even be experiencing it right now. And if not you, someone you are very close to and care very much about may be. So in your case I am preaching to the choir as the old saying goes.

We have already had some previous discussion with regards to a couple of attitudes I have been convicted of, two of which I labeled Our Trust and Our Thanks. One of the first reactions we have when something like this occurs is to hang on to the question, why me? This leads us to the realization that we are no better than anyone else so we must trust that God has something in store for us. For me this led to another revelation about myself that I didn’t realize was as bad as it was. I just thought I was truly thankful but the circumstances that have come my way proved that was not as thankful for the simple things as I should be. And this is where we left off last week.

Tonight I want to consider another topic which actually has both trust and thanks woven all through it. I want to consider Our Faith. This is an all encompassing subject because there are so many atttributes and parts to it that makes it almost impossible to wrap it up in a neat ball. But if we go back to the original definition found in God’s Word and use it for our basis, I think we can understand how fundamental it is to what and who we really are. Faith is; the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We’ve read and heard these words many times through the years but I’m not sure that we understand the significance of them. Hebrews chapter 11 calls out a number of the past heroes of the faith and you find one thing in common among all of. They believed God! And their faith was counted as righteousness on their behalf.

But the question that arises for us becomes “how do we hold on to our faith during the times of dark trouble? Well, after trying to answer that question in many ways such as reading books, talking to others that think they have the answer, and even looking for some new revelation in God’s Word. I know that we are justified by faith and we are to live by faith and not by sight. These are certainly fundamentals of our faith. But can we sum it up in just a few words? Yes and here they are. Believe God!. It is that simple, just believe God. Believe what He said, believe what He did. Believe the promises that He has given us. Just believe God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Thanks

Last week we began a discussion about the things that God teaches us during times of difficult circumstances. We began the series talking about our failures to trust Him in all things. Sometimes we deceive ourselves into believing that we are trusting Him when really we are still placing too much emphasis on what we can do. But He eventually brings us to a point that we realize we can do nothing without Him, if we continue to yield to His will. Tonight, I want to consider the subject of Our Thanks.

Last year we were in the Smokey Mountains with some dear friends and the girls were shopping in some of the quaint gift shops that you find everywhere there. I walked into one of the shops that specializes in making wood signs with inscriptions on them and as I was looking around I saw a sign up on the top shelf in the corner of the shop. This one particular sign caught my attention by the words inscribed on it. It read like this. “What if you had awakened this morning to only those things you had thanked God for yesterday?” I stood there a minute to contemplate what I had just read and suddenly there was a panic that swept across me because of the impact it had just made on my mind and heart. Wow! Could I even remember what I thanked Him for that morning or was it like it is some mornings, just a matter of routine and repetition from the previous day or earlier in the week? And there I stood with another day in front of me with everything God had blessed me with and continues to do so in spite of my own self. I made my mind up right then that I would thank Him every morning for those that I love and those precious treasures He has given me and then all of the other things he blesses me with for my own pleasure. But most of all for His precious gift of salvation.

Sometimes, and probably more oft than not, our expressions of thanks are very slim and shallow and we just go on about our business without giving Him a second thought. May God help us!!!

Our Trust

My thanks to everyone for giving me an opportunity to take a break for a few weeks and rest up for what is ahead for me. I’ll start by giving you an update on my situation and what is possibly coming up. I will then begin the Saturday Evening Post anew with covering some topics that have been on my mind over this past year or so.

After spending another week at MD Anderson Clinic in Houston having additional tests  mostly in the cardiac area, more blood work, and then a needle biopsy performed on a small lesion that was also discovered on my left adrenal gland. This was to determine if the lesion was benign or malignant. On Friday of last week we discovered that it also was malignant and therefore forced the cancer to be classified as stage 4. And this helps to determine what the chemo treatment plan should be. There is also something that is being researched right now with this rather rare type of cancer. The tissue from the original tumor that is the main source of the cancer. If they find a certain DNA Marker that is only found in this cancer type . If they find in the tumor they have developed a pill treatment that will stop the cancer in its track and it cannot grow any more this main lead to surgical removal in the tumor can be decreased in size with some radiation and chemo.

So here is where we are. We are in town and have started a radiation therapy tremens plan that will continue for 3 weeks. This is being done at the Alliance Radiation Center and being under the direction of Dr. Stanley Clarke. My oncologist, Dr. George Simon, at MDA has recommended this while he continues a very detailed molecular study of the tissue removed from the adrenal gland. This gives us the best chance to have the best chemo plan to put into place. We will return to MD Anderson on September 24, 2019 to get all of the results and the treatment plan he has designed for my situation. I just want you to know that God has been with us through every step we totally trust he is in control. My prayer is that God gets all of the glory for what is going on in our lives.

Now to our topic for this evening. It doesn’t take long when you suddenly are faced with a very difficult set of circumstances that you begin to recognize that God is about to teach you some very important truths through those circumstances and ultimately from His Word. So, as we are facing this some of those things at this point in our life it is our time to learn and pass on what God is teaching us. Tonight we will start with this: Our Trust.

When all of this cancer ordeal began to happen, I remained deaf to the real signs that there was something serious happening. I took the easy way out and assumed that I had a pulled muscle from doing storm damage cleanup at my house and on top of that convinced my regular doctor that ‘s probably what it was. And there could also have been other signs before then that I did not share with my doctors that could have been recognized by the doctors. So what was my problem? Why did I refuse to tell the other doctors everything I knew? Here it is; I hadn’t been trusting God like I should. I was allowing pride to overshadow my faith.  My prayer had slipped a little bit along with my daily bible study. To sum it up, I was not where I needed be in my walk with the Lord. But I thank God that when one of His children begins to stray He begins to convict us to the point we understand our failure. We can then sincerely confess our sin to Him with a broken heart. He then forgives us of all unrighteousness and restores our fellowship with Him. He keeps every promise He has ever made to us so we can truly trust Him. And in difficult times we need to stop and make sure where we stand with Him. In my case I didn’t do this alone. I also have some very close Christian friends that held the light for me to see my way back and they had no idea they were doing so. I pray that I never find myself in that place again. I have my total trust in Him and I know that there is nothing too hard for  my God.

I look forward to doing a new post next week where I can share something again that God has taught me through this difficult time. To God be the glory!

 

He’s In Control

I want to take a few minutes first to update you on what has gone on since my post of last week. It is very hard to keep everyone updated with out trying to do several folks at the same time. I also want to say a special thanks to those that have commented on the post last week and I’m slowing getting caught up with responses to them. And thanks to all of you for continuing to pray for me and Iurge you to especially remember my family during this time.

Two of my daughters came with us to Houston which was a great comfort and blessing in itself. I had my appointment with the Oncologist on Tuesday and he was very thorough in his explanation as to what is happening inside my body at the present time. The tumor is certainly large and the cancer is somewhat rare in nature. He explained that the PET Scan I had done on Friday before we left revealed I have a small lesion on my adrenal gland on the left kidney. There had not been a scan of my head yet to determine if there is any cancer there. All of this led to the need for some additional testing.

Then on Friday I had a PFT (Pulmonary Fuction Test) to determine if my lungs would be  healthy enough if surgery becomes an option. That testn was very positive so no problem there. Later in the day they did a CT Scan of my head and then another CT scan of my chest and abdomen to determine the exact location of the lesion on the adrenal gland so a needle biopsy can done. This will determine if it is also cancerous which will lead to determine the treament plan that will be required. We are praying that it is benign and no cancer is in the brain because that significantly increases the chances for a possible cure. Otherwise the cancer will be classified as incurable and the treatment plan would be aggressive and an attempt to change it to a manageable chronic disease. We don’t have the schedule for the needle biopsy but think it will be this coming Tuesday. once that test is done we will head back to Muscle Shoals. Our next appountment with the Oncologist is on Friday, August 23, which will give the time needed to get the pathology done on the biopsy tissue and the doctor to determine the treatment protocol.

I hope I have not bored you all the details but I believe the more you know the better you can determine what specifics to pray for. And I know there are so many people out there that has commited to praying for us and I am so personally and eternally grateful.

God is teaching me as He always does through all of this. One of the things I suddenly realized is that He already knew what every cell in my body was doing, even the bad cancer cells. I know He can change that in an instance if so desires but I also realize it may not be in His timing. He may have some other plan that I don’t totally understand, yet whatever it may be I accept it as His will for my life. He will give the grace I need for  the situation at hand. To God be the glory! Please continue to lift my family up in prayer at the same time. they are suffering as much if not more than I am. God bless each of you!

Changed Circumstances

I realize I have not posted in a few weeks and just want to make you aware the posts at this point will be somewhat infrequent. I’m sure most of you are wondering why and these post will explain.

Over the last several weeks I have been experiencing pain in my back that myself along with a number of others assumed was a deep muscle strain that occurred from some of the strenuous work I had been doing. Remodeling a piece of rental property and cleaning up debris from storm damage we incurred has been very stressful.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that there may be something else that was creating the pain and I began to pursue that possibility. My primary care physician scheduled an X-ray of the area of concern and the radiologist saw something that was a change from previous X-rays and my doctor ordered a CT Scan. The results of that test showed a mass that he felt should be tested further. I then underwent a needle biopsy and the results of that were not good. The mass is quite large and is a malignant cancer.

With that news I had an appointment with one of our local oncologists to begin the process of determining a treatment plan. At the same I had him refer me to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas to do an additional evaluation. In the meantime a PET Scan was performed on Friday, August 2, to determine if that is the only cancered area or if it is anywhere else. Results are not expected until early next week.

However, on that same afternoon we received a phone call from MD Anderson with an appointment on Tuesday, August 6 and we were very surprised that it happened that fast. But we certainly are pleased that it was that fast and will be leaving Sunday after lunch headed to Houston.

There are many unanswered questions at this point but we know we serve a great God. Our total trust is in Him and that is a wonderful place to be. We are praying for the best possible outcomes of everything and at the same time we are praying for His strength, courage, grace, and peace to accept what He has in store for this part of our journey. He deserves all the glory and honor no matter what the circumstance are.

There are many people already lifting us up in prayer and we certainly believe prayer changes things. So I ask each of you to please do the same. I will try to keep all of you posted as to our progress. May God richly bless each of you in your walk with Him.

Too Old?

This past week Reassurance had the honor of ministering to the residents of one of the local assisted living facilities. As I looked into the faces of those wonderful folks while we were singing I began to realize that there was a real possibility that some of them have never put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. And there for a few minutes I was overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness like I haven’t had in a long time. How tragic it would be for anyone to live eighty, ninety or a hundred years and then die without Him. But the fact is that no matter the age, young or old, it is a tragedy.

We look at the elderly different from other folks. Sometimes we see them as innocent children as though they have not reached the age of understanding and accountability. Other times we see some of them as resentful and bitter old people who are not at all concerned about anyone else, only themselves. However, a lot of times we assume that because of their age they have made things right in their life. Obviously, we have no right or reason to assume any of those things. They are really no different from folks younger than them except their bodies and minds have endured many more miles of rough road.

The real story about these people is that they have stored up a tremendous amount of knowledge and wisdom that we have yet to gain. And we do not take advantage of that like we should. It seems that today’s generations have somewhat written them off and tossed them aside. But I believe that God still loves them and wants to have a personal relationship with them. He wants to use them just like he wants to use us. And it is all for His glory. The Bible teaches that as believers the old are to teach the young and that the young are to treat them with respect.

To tell you the truth, I love being with those people. I love how they can be so open to you as though you are their kin. I love how they react and interact as we minister in the places where they are. And every time I am reminded of the two elderly folks in my life that had a great impact on me and played a part in me coming to know the Lord. I believe we need to encourage them to play a more active part in the lives of those around them and finish strong. I’ll do my part in doing that and I hope you will when the opportunity arises.  

Real Treasures

As I reflect back on all of the events in my life of the past week, I am ashamed to say that I have not been as thankful as I should be for all that the Lord has done for me. After the storm damage we incurred a couple of weeks ago and all of the activity associated with the cleanup and restoration, I have found myself so involved in the details of it all that I have not paused and taken the time to give thanks for all of the real treasures God has blessed me with. And these treasures I speak of are not the material things that were lost during that time but are of a very different nature. So let me tell you about some of them.

Let me begin with family. I am blessed with a wonderful wife of almost 50 years. She has been my best friend and my confidant for all these years and I can’t imagine spending any part of my remaining life without her by my side. I love her in a way that I can’t put into words. We have three amazing daughters who are raising families of their own and doing quite a good job I must say. I have watched them grow and mature through the good times and the bad and I believe it is because they have a strong foundation to stand on. And my grandchildren. What can I say? We love them so much that we can’t seem to do enough to show them how proud we are of them. These all are real treasures in my life that God has given me in spite of my sin and failures. And I am so thankful for all of them.

How about friends? Again, I am blessed with some great friends that I know would be there for me and my family in times of distress. They exemplify the very nature of what it means to help bear one another’s burdens. Many people go through life without having one person they can call a true friend but I have several. And these are real treasures that God has blessed me with. And I am so thankful for all of them.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the most basic treasures I have. I have a good job that has allowed me to take care of my family. I have reasonably good health for my age inspire of my previous heart attack and present heart condition. I can still walk, talk, hear, see, and smell. I have lived a relatively long life compared to many others and even though there is no promise of tomorrow I look forward to every day here on earth. All of these are also real treasures from God’s storehouse of blessings and I am so thankful for all of them.

But now consider the greatest treasure of all. I have a personal relationship with the Son of God, the one who was willing to give His life to pay my sin debt and set me free from the very bondage of that sin. I have direct access to God the Father anytime I need to call on Him. I have an advocate with the Father who is ever interceding on my behalf. His name is Jesus and I belong to Him. Not for anything that I have done but simply because of who He is and what He did at Calvary. There is no treasure greater than this and I am so thankful that God’s gift of salvation.

If you have noticed, I have not mentioned material possessions at all. And I think it is obvious why. Real treasures are found in people and other things that are intangible. And the greatest treasure of all is found in my dearest friend, Jesus. I sincerely hope He is yours. 

  

 

Satan’s Best Tool

I have learned through the years that Satan uses numerous methods to deceive us in his many attempts to render us ineffective for the cause of Christ. He preys on the natural weaknesses that is inherent in every man and takes aim at the most vulnerable spot in our armor, and believe me, he knows where it is in each of us. Often times he uses the failures in our lives to bring discouragement and make us doubt God’s promises to His people. He continuously uses his methods of deception in his attempts to bring about those failures. And sometimes we fall for them and other times we recognize them for what they are. But I believe he uses one method more than any other to eventually move us away from sound doctrine and the basics of the faith we hold dear. The Bible tells us that he is like a roaring lion going about seeking all he can devour and what a warning that is. But his method of subtlety has brought many believers down to a low level and they don’t even realize what has happened.

So what do I mean by subtlety? Well here is the way it works. It usually starts with some issue or question that does not appear to be very important. It can be a position we hold on the issue, a sin in our life that doesn’t affect anyone else, or maybe just an attitude we have. Satan has a way of convincing us through his “little white lies” that it is really of no consequence and no harm will come to it. So why should we make a big deal of it. It is the first step in us giving up a small piece of the truth. Over time, as this occurs again and again, a little piece is taken away and soon we are far removed from where we once were. And it is accepted by those around us because the same thing has happened to them. It is much like the story of the lobster being boiled in a pot. He doesn’t recognize the slow increase in the temperature of the water until it is too late. And at that point he is already someone’s meal.

Satan uses the subtlety method with individual believers but that is not all. He also use the same method with churches to move them away from sound doctrine and render them ineffective for the Kingdom. Many of our churches have experienced this and this is part of the reason why we see so many that eventually close their doors. It certainly happens in our seminary’s where many of the professors have went down the path we have been talking about. Satan is the master of deception and his subtlety method works better than anything else he has in his large arsenal of weapons.

So how do we keep this from happening? The best way I know is for us as individual believers to spend more time in the study of our precious book, the Bible. If we truly do believe it is the infallible, plenary, inerrant Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit as the writers penned it, then we can trust what it says. It is God’s Word!! It is time we let the Holy Spirit direct us in our study of it and reveal to us what He wants us to know instead of relying on what some man has said, what some man has written, or what is popular at the time. God speaks to us through His Word and gives us what we need to combat Satan’s attacks with his subtle methods. It is time we stand for something and not fall for just anything.

What is The Truth? Final Answer!

As we bring our short series on truth to a close tonight there are a few things I want us to consider. First of all we defined truth as “The real facts about a situation, event, or person” which we retrieved from the combined definitions from a number of current dictionaries. I also wanted to find out how many times the word “truth’ was found in the Bible and using the original King James Version I discovered it is in there 235 times in 222 verses. Other versions vary on how often it is found, but I was surprised that it was so little. The first time it appears in the KJV is in Genesis 24:27 and the last time in the book of 3rd John, chapter 1 and verse 12. It appears that John and the apostle Paul talked about truth more than any other biblical writers. Paul used it very often in his letters to the churches and to young Timothy. John used it in the writing of his gospel and also in his epistles. So with this in mind I’ll share a few of those verses with you.

John 1:14 – And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 4:24 – God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

John 8:32 – And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Romans 1:25 – Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Galations 2:5 – To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

Ephesians 4:15 – But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

2nd Timothy 2:15 – Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

These, of course, are only a few of the verses in the New Testament and they are great verses. Probably all of us have read and heard them many times through the years. And certainly in the context they are written they would all meet the standard definition above. But do they really define truth? No. It is anticipated that the reader understands truth as it is used in these verses but no definition is offered. So here we are back to where we started, reading the word truth, hearing the word truth, having a vague understanding of what it means, but yet not totally being able voice what it is. This seems to be a dilemma but there is another verse that will clear it all up and that is where I have been heading throughout the series. So, hear it is.

John 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Well there it is! In His response to a question from Thomas, Jesus makes this statement and it is the foundation of the gospel. The fact is, truth is not a word, it is a Person. That really needs no explanation nor a definition. Just like God is love, Jesus is truth. It is all summed up in who He is. All attempts by man to define truth other than a person will ultimately end in futility. Because He is the way, the truth, and the life, we have a blessed hope that we can be reconciled to God the Father. What is The Truth? Jesus!! And that’s my final answer!

What is The Truth? Personal Motives

Last week we offered a standard definition of truth so that at least we would have a reference for our discussion concerning this often misunderstood topic. We defined truth as “The real facts about a situation, event, or person” and we applied that as a test for some well known groups of people. We talked about how there are people who want you to believe that everything they say is the truth and cannot be denied. We were rather hard on professors, politicians, and preachers but I want to make it clear that everyone who falls into one of those three groups do not necessarily think and act as the group was portrayed. I think we all realize that there is always those bad apples in any group we would decide to select but many times there are more than we would like to believe.

This brings us to the point where the rubber really meets the road. The fact is that we all are guilty at times of trying to make others believe that what comes out of our mouths and what actions we take are grounded in truth. The reasons for this misguided assumption can be many but they all are selfish in motive. When we started this series a couple of weeks ago, my son-in-law, Chad Holder, returned a comment to the post that really underlines some of those root causes. With his permission I have included in today’s post below.

Chad Holder: I came across a recent article in which someone stated they must “tell their truth.” It was a terrible reminder that truth is no longer just that, truth and true, but it has become a victim of relativity, indifference, and only gauged by the perspective in which it is viewed. No longer are we bent toward or away from truth, but rather we do all we can to bend truth to our whims and wishes. That makes us feel better, I suppose. Looking forward to this series. God help us be broken over His truth, and then help us transparently live it. P.S. Thanks for supper.

Chad has summed it up pretty well. We have made the word truth into something we can manipulate into what we want it to be and then spend our time trying to make others believe it meets the test of the standard definition we gave. And the only people we are fooling is our foolish selves. How foolish can we be?

Next week we will end the series by revealing the real facts about truth. With God’s Word as our standard there will be no doubt that truth is much more than just a word. So stay tuned.