Monthly Archives: January 2023

From Death to Life

Two years ago doctors FINALLY uncovered what was causing me so much distress in my digestive system and within two months of diagnosis the surgeons completed a double small bowel resection. Biopsy revealed an extremely rare, incurable form of cancer.

Following surgery and a brief recovery at home I was back at the hospital meeting with an oncologist who explained that the biopsy had also revealed that it was a very slow growing cancer in my case, and so we would just watch it for a while. While it is incurable there is a shot that they can give once a month to try and keep tumors under control and symptoms at bay. My condition wasn’t at that point yet and so I merrily went on my way, returning every six months for either a CT scan or a PET scan to check disease progress.

Six months ago (that’s 18 months post surgery) I was at my “normal” visit when the resident on duty mentioned my ‘lymphoma’ and assured me that I was doing fine. I think I must have been in shock with the word ‘lymphoma’, knowing that my kind of cancer is incurable and then if we add it to the lymphatic system – yikes! Needless to say that by the time my doctor came in I didn’t even have any questions. I just kept hearing ‘lymphoma’ in my ears.

For the next six months I planned to die. You know, getting my affairs in order. Throwing out junk. Donating other junk. Updating my will. Ensuring I had a living will and appropriate powers-of-attorney drawn up for when I could not longer make my own decision. And in all of that, I was fine. I didn’t feel stressed over it. I was actually looking forward to being with Jesus. My life, as it is, is pretty much over anyway. All of my friends have gone on to be with the Lord and my marriage is over and my kids and grand-kids are grown and have their own lives. I was ready to meet my maker and felt pretty certain I only had about another year.

But GOD.

God has His own plans and purposes. Certainly I prayed for deliverance and I had others pray for me too. I mean, I’m not suicidal. And then one evening almost six months to the day of the ‘lymphoma’ statement I had what can only be described as a healing visitation from the Lord. I felt it. I knew it. And from that moment on my entire thought processes changed. The interesting thing about it was that the visitation occurred five days before my next scheduled PET scan. I was flying high that week. I didn’t tell anyone what had happened but I lay on that scan table for 45 minutes without moving a muscle and all the time singing in my mind about the goodness of God.

I didn’t check on-line to read the scan report when the results were ready. I waited to hear it from my doctor. And exactly one week after the scan I visited the oncologist and he said the words “crystal clear”. The scan was “crystal clear”. No evidence of lymphoma or anything else. So I asked him about the ‘lymphoma’ statement and he said it was a mistake.

So let’s take a minute here and give God a praise offering. A thanksgiving offering. A ‘GO GOD!’ celebration!

Nothing there. So now, instead of planning to die I am planning to live! Thank you Jesus.

“I shall not die, but live and declare the works of God.” Psalm 118:17

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The Devil Comes to Steal, Kill and Destroy

Our modern culture doesn’t believe that, of course. It is easier to blame God than to acknowledge that there is an evil presence in our lives that is constantly on the attack. It is easier to cry “God’s judgement” than to acknowledge that there are consequences for our actions. And it is easy to be confused about where the ‘bad’ things in our lives come from if we don’t seek the face of the Creator and ask for an explanation. I think sometimes we don’t ask because we don’t really want to know the answer.

Having been at this ‘Jesus thing’ for quite some time I have learned a few things. So today, instead of tackling all of the evil in the world, I want to focus on just one aspect: What happens in our lives when we fail to put God first?

I have watched marriages crumble when one partner places their careers or families ahead of God. I have seen families disintegrate when God gets placed farther and farther down in their list of priorities. I witnessed an instance where an international evangelist put off going on mission trip because of his wife’s birthday! And I heard her anguished cries of “please, don’t put me before God”. She knew. She understood. That mission trip was ordained by God and she knew it. Everything was in place for a mighty move of God and he postponed it. Today they live separate lives, no longer a couple, no longer serving God together. I won’t share what nuclear bomb took out their marriage but suffice it to say that she saw it coming and couldn’t stop it, no matter how hard she tried.

I know another international evangelist who also had his own church. I watched as he began taking more and more trips abroad and leaving his congregation in the hands of associates. Here was a man who served God at home and abroad. Yet he finally lost his church and he no longer travels abroad. He lost every ministry he had. Why?

Do I believe God did that? Do you? Some say God removed His hand of blessing from their lives. Others say the devil crept in unawares. You might say it is a consequence of actions/inactions that forever changed their lives. It is possible that when we fail to be good stewards over the territory God places on our lives, He removes the opportunities for a time of reflection and discipline.

Here’s what I know in my knower: God loves us and wants the very best for us. He is love. He is also justice. He is also mercy. So: the God who wants the very best for us and loves us unconditionally is not beating us over the head every time we mess up. He is a good father who encourages us, trains us, watches over us and, yes, disciplines us when necessary. DISCIPLINE. Something we hate and love to blame God or the devil for. Something we need that we rail against. Something that keeps us headed toward the finish line – His Kingdom.

I want to encourage you today. God creates calamity as a form of discipline. The bigger the calamity, the greater the need for discipline.

I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me, there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; 6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, 7The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these,” (Isaiah 45:5-7).

It is up to us to respond appropriately and correct our behaviors. And the greatest folly we can enter into is letting something or someone else assume the place of highest priority in our lives. Surely the Lord will discipline us for that, and we would deserve it. If we have asked him to be Lord of our lives and then let something else usurp that position, we deserve whatever befalls us. To be truthful, we all deserve death and hell. Thank you Jesus!

So the next time you are feeling sorely put upon and blaming God for things not going your way, take some time out to be alone with God. Reflect on what is happening and take it to Him. Talk with Him. And be honest with yourself. Whatever is happening, He is in control and only He can see the outcome. Place Him in the position of headship in your life and watch for His Glory on your behalf!

Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, beside you, what He hath prepared for him that waits for Him.

What is your purpose?

Yesterday in church I heard yet another message about fulfilling our purpose, our calling. Now I don’t know about you, but for me, those words always leave me with an ache and a sorrow inside. I am well into my senior years and every time I hear these kinds of sermons I have the same reaction: what purpose? What calling? Is there one?

And then this morning I had a repeat performance of what happens to me within 24 hours of every sermon I hear about purpose and calling: Holy Spirit showed up and reminded me what my purpose and calling is and how I have and still am fulfilling it. He also graciously told me to stop feeling guilty every time the enemy steals from me, whether it’s in a church service or everyday life.

Do you know what your ‘purpose’ is? Your calling? As you can see, I struggled with this for many years without realizing I was already fulfilling it. I think that is one of the many fiery darts of the enemy – he keeps telling us we haven’t found it while all the while we are walking in it.

Not everyone is ‘called’ to street evangelism or pulpit ministry. Not every ministry is noticeable – like food banks and clothing drives. Some sweet brothers and sisters walk so closely with the Lord that they are in constant communication with Him, and consequently spend most of their prayer time praying for others. These sweet intercessors carry the burdens of others and bring relief and miracle through their efforts. Yet, you will never see them take a bow or get accolades for their ‘ministry’. They are fulfilling their calling every day. I wonder if they think they have missed it?

A lot of believers are filled with angst as they search for a place for their hands to be put to work (or their mouths!) I would encourage those to relax. Take a deep breath and rest in the love of God. If He has called you, He will ensure His plan is completed. I believe you will find that when you relax and leave it to Him, your place in the Kingdom will just sort of appear. You will realize where you are supposed to be or what you are supposed to be doing, or perhaps, as in my case, you will realize (with His help) that you are ALREADY fulfilling your calling.

God loves us. He wants us to fulfill the calling He has placed on our lives and He will help us do that. God, forgive us for thinking it is all about us fulfilling a calling when it is really all about YOU implementing YOUR PLAN.

Psalm 138:8 The Lord will perfect that which concerns me: thy mercy, O Lord, endures for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.