Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Recovery

First of all let me say that I am sorry for being so worthless at blogging. When I started out, I used the blog often, but after I began a discussion group on facebook my computer time began to be laregly spent on that endeavor instead. Maybe in the coming weeks I will do better. But I don't blame any of you out there who have given up on this blog.

The main reason for my delay in posting has been the surgery I had two weeks ago today. It was a thyroid cancer surgery which lasted 3 and a half hours. I had my thyroid removed in 2004, but cancer has sustained itself in lymph nodes of the past 3+ years. On April 11, 2008, an ultrasound provided us with specific information as to the location of the cancer. Needle biopsy procedures confirmed this information, and surgery was scheduled.

On May 13, I received a procedure known as a selective neck disection. This included work from my earlobe and jawline all the way down into my chest. 35 lymph nodes were removed, including scar tissue and other tissues that the cancer could invade. This week we received the results from post-surgery testing, and only 2 of the 35 lymph nodes were found to have any cancer in them. This is good news for now. Hopefully the cancer will not return, but only time will tell.

As for me, I am moving very slowly. I am numb from just above my right jaw all the way down into my chest on the right side. I cannot move my right arm well, and it will take some weeks and months for things to return to normal again. It doesn't look like there is anything wrong with me, and so people probably will expect me to be more active than I can be. But I am very thankful to God for his providencial care, and for my friends and family who have prayed for me and helped me. This has been a good expereince overall, including highs and lows, but it has made me appreciate the things that really matter. It has caused me to think about some more changes I need to make spiritually, and to pray for the ability to continue to work for my family and for the church.

So, this is a summary of my recovery. May God bless each one of you and may He allow you good health and ability. Don't ever underestimate the daily blessings. I have learned to appreciate the little things we are allowed to do most of all.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Personality and Opinion

Why don't people get along? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Another question even more perplexing is this: Why don't Christian brethren get along? This is a difficult subject. It would seem obvious to us that there is no sense in brethren being at odds with one another. But it happens all the time. In fact, it is hard to find a time when there is not some conflict in the church.

The first reason why brethren are often on different pages has to do with variations in individual personality. Some folks just don't click with other folks. They value things differently. Some are talkative and some are quiet. Some are bold to get in your business while others are very private. There are probably some Christians to which we naturally gravitate. There are also probably some Christians with whom we might struggle to have a normal conversation.

The second reason why brethren don't get along has to do with an individual's regard for their own opinion. Some Christian did something they didn't like. Perhaps a brother or sister in Christ hurt their feelings. Or perhaps they are too prideful to admit that their attitude about a particular situation or person is wrong. A lack of Christian behavior over one issue may lead to lack of respect in another. We stop being genuinely friendly. We tend not to trust one another. We hear gossip about a situation that has been elevated to a place it should have never been in the first place. Before you know it, we are so far away from some brethren that we don't even want to see them or hear about them at all.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "The only sin which we never forgive in each other is the difference of opinion." William Blake once said, "The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind."

It is tragic when even strong, faithful Christians don't get along. I have seen this in every congregation in which I have been a member. At the end of the day, this phenomenon still leaves me asking, "Why?"

Life is too short and eternity is too long for us not to make every effort we can to resolve our differences with others. The church is too precious and our relationships are too meaningful for us to continue to have too much pride to change our hearts and minds.

Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. ~ Romans 12:16

Monday, May 5, 2008

Church Clothes

This week my son Daniel wanted to play in the yard when we got home from Sunday worship. We told him he had to change first. He wanted to know why. We told him it was because he had on his "church clothes." There are "church clothes" and there are "play clothes." We didn't want him to ruin his nicest clothes.

This idea is not foreign to any of us. Since you were little, you probably were taught that when it came time to worship, you were to wear your "Sunday best." This does not imply there is a dress code for worship. We know that visitors or non-Christians may come into our assembly dressed differently than most, and this would be fine. As Christians we know that we have the responsibility of giving God the firstfruits. This means God deserves our very best, our very first, and that we make sacrifices in response to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

But I wonder, do "church clothes" really exist? Maybe this is a bad way to describe it. After all, when are we not the church? When are we not to wear the clothes of respect for God, kindness, sacrifice, worship, and praise? In a spiritual sense, some people only wear Christian attitudes on Sunday. I have noticed that these attitudes tend to wear out, sometimes by Sunday dinner.

Our world view is very important. If we really want to please God, our world view and the Biblical view will be one in the same. When we start to become the church, rather than go to church, we will be on the same wavelength with our Creator. When we wear the clothes of righteousness all day long, every day, then we will begin to see that there are some clothes that are suitable for every occasion.

Christians look forward to a better type of clothing that God will supply. They have left the world's attire for better things. Eternally, the church will be clothed with garments that will never be stained or wear out. In that day, will not need to change, but we will all be changed, forever suited to live with and praise our marvelous God.

"For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:4