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.

What is the Truth? Facts or Opinions

Before we really can begin to look at what truth is, it may be wise to start with a standard definition that can be found in the dictionary. There are numerous dictionaries that we can refer to and I have looked up the definition of truth in several of them. They all may slightly differ but I believe they can all be summed up with the following one sentence definition;  “Truth is the real facts about a situation, event, or person”. So let’s keep this definition in mind as we move ahead with our discussion.

Now that we have a basic, standard definition of truth, we can put that definition to the test by looking at a few samples of what certain people declare to be true. First, let’s consider the teachers and professors in the world of academics. Most of us send our youngsters off at an early age to public schools and turn them over to educated people who we should be able to trust to teach them facts about many subjects. Then we send them off to colleges and universities as teenagers assuming they will get an education that is also based on facts. But what we are beginning to see today is that many of our institutions of higher learning are filled with demons disguised as professors who have personal agendas and are teaching based on opinion instead of fact, presenting those opinions as truth to their unsuspecting students. And before you know it, opinion becomes fact in their minds. And folks, it is getting worse by the day.

Now, let’s move on to another group. What about politicians? Especially some of those in positions of power in our government who want us to believe that homosexuality is a perfectly normal lifestyle and that we should accept it as such. They want us to believe that an unborn baby is not a human being and that abortion is not murder. They want us to believe that Islam is a religion of peace and that Allah is God. They want us to believe that our system of capitalism should be replaced with socialism and that our trust should be in the government itself. And they are doing everything they possibly can to force all of the above on everyone of us. But the fact is that many people will believe them and accept what they say as truth. However, they wouldn’t know truth if it jumped up and spit in their face. They portray evil as good and are the essence of the very evil they portray.

Well, we find these type of people in our schools and our government but are these the only places? I wish it were so but no. I’m sad to say that we also can find them in some of our churches. Believe it or not, there are some preachers who have personal  agendas  and are using whatever means necessary to develop a following among the members. They compromise the Word of God or even twist it around to make it fit their perverse theology. And just because they are so-called “men of God” many will believe their lies as if they are the truth. We also find these charlatans all over the television and some of them with huge followings and even private jets. And they also are perverting and watering-down the Gospel to support their agendas. and most of the time they are driven by the desire for money. But I assure you my friend, all of these false teachers will be held accountable for the poor souls they have misled and there will be a special place in hell for them.

I’m sure some of you, if not most of you, have had specific names come to mind as I’ve described some of these types of folks. But there is no doubt that there are other groups of people with much the same motives as discussed above. And all of them are also far away from the truth and certainly fail the definition test we provided earlier. When we talk about truth there is confusion as to what truth really means or is. I think most of us understand what it is not but can we really put into words what truth is? In many ways we do the same things as those I have mentioned above to rationalize why we say what we say and act the way we act. So next week the focus will change and the spotlight will be on us as individuals and how we see truth. 

What is the Truth?

Although I had written part of the post during the week last week, I failed to complete it and send it out before we left on vacation this past Saturday. And to be honest with you, I simply forgot to finish it when we arrived at our hotel in Tifton, Georgia that evening. And in addition to that, it never entered my mind as we traveled on Sunday to our final destination here in Cape Canaveral, Florida. As a matter of fact, if I had not been reminded of it in a text from a good friend this morning it would probably have been this coming Saturday before I realized what had happened. So thank you Mike Bailey for holding me accountable to the task. And now that all of the excuses are out of the way let’s move on with last week’s post.

For some time now I have been considering doing a short series on what I believe is a very simple yet very important topic, but one that is constantly misused and abused by many people. And that is the truth! Yes, I mean the topic is truth and I want to take a look at what it means to different people in different situations and bring it all the way back around to its simplicity. For instance, if you look closely at the second sentence in this paragraph you will see an example of exactly what I am talking about. When I made the statement “And that is the truth!” it seemed obvious that I was referring to what I had said in the sentence before it. But which part? Is it that the topic is simple and important or is it that it is misused and abused? Is it all of the above or is it not even close to any of those things? Well, I think you see what I am talking about.

I can remember growing up as a child and being told by my parents and others that I should always tell the truth. Certainly, what they meant by that was that I should never tell a lie or much simpler put, an untruth. I’m sure most of you were raised being taught much the same thing. As a result, we developed an understanding that this is how the world around us should operate and in many cases set us up for believing some things others said out of respect for them. But we found out later that it was not always the case that what we were told by those we were taught to respect was not always the truth. And that is when we began to question who we could trust and have confidence outside of our parents. We just knew they would never tell us an untruth. So that brings us to the point of asking a profound question; “Who can we trust”? We will get to that answer by the time we finish the series.

In our post this coming Saturday we will take a look at a number of different people and what they stand for and make some recommendations as to whether they are speaking the truth and if we can trust them. So hang on, there is more to come.   

 

Memorial Day(s)

The day ran out on me yesterday and before I knew it, it was gone. After preparing for a birthday party at our pool for one of our granddaughters and then the party itself, it was very late before everyone finally got away. By that time I had gone as far as I could go and decided to wait until this afternoon for the weekly post so that I would have a clear mind. 

What I had on my mind all week was the upcoming Memorial Day and how so very thankful we all ought to be for being born in this great country, in spite of all its problems. In addition to that, how grateful we should be for those who were willing to pay the ultimate price to insure we continue to have the freedoms that have been afforded us over the past two hundred plus years. I believe most of us do not truly realize the magnitude of the sacrifice that these heroes provided for those freedoms. I can only speak for myself but I know that I am not as thankful as I should be and seem to forget about these great Americans until I’m reminded again when this time comes around. So let’s pause right now and say thank you God for emboldening these men and women to give their lives for the sake of freedom!

But also at this time I’m reminded of the One who paid the ultimate price by a horrible death on a cruel cross to pay a sin debt for us, because He loved us so much. For Jesus to lay aside His glory and come to this earth and be born to live as a man was a sacrifice in itself. Then to live on this earth and be tempted such as we are was another sacrifice He made. But, thank God, He refused to yield to any temptation and lived a perfect life without sin so that He could become that perfect Sacrifice required by the Father to make a way for us to be reconciled to Him. So even more should we be thankful for what Jesus did for us at Calvary and we should be constantly reminded that without Him there would be no hope for us or any man. So I say again let’s pause right now and say thank you God for your great salvation plan and give us the courage to keep sharing the wonderful news of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. To God be the glory and honor forever and ever! Amen.