Health

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#Update

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

The surgery was successful. They removed my gravel pit of a gall bladder. Pictures do not lie! He also did a hernia repair I did not know I had. It was all done laparoscopically so I was able to come home. Big whoop whoop on that!!  I can ride inside in 2 weeks and have a weight limit of 15 pounds lifting. All in all a successful day. I’m grateful to all of you who prayed.

 

Just thought I would let you know. I am extremely grateful for your prayers.

#ImportantDay#DayofReflection

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

Today is an important day for several reasons: one personal and one spiritual.

The spiritual first. Today, February 17th, is the beginning of Lent, or Ash Wednesday. Lent is the 40 days before the day we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. This year that will be April 4th. I must confess to you that growing up in the church tradition I belonged to we did not observe Lent. I was so naive about it that I almost went up to a teacher who had a dark spot in the middle of his forehead and told him he had dirt there. 🙂 I had no clue! I also know some of my friends would talk about giving up something for Lent. Again, I had no clue.  My teacher was Catholic, as were my friends, and I now know that was a significant aspect of their belief system.  It had to be only 15 or so years ago that I really gave any notice to Lent. I heard some folks talking and decided it would behoove me to know more. For several years I decided to give it a go so one year I gave up caffeine pop. Another year I gave up beef (which wasn’t really hard since I didn’t eat it much anyway). One year I gave up all pop and drank only water. Then I finally figured out it really wasn’t about giving up something; it was really about surrender.

In his book, Journey to the Cross, a 40 day devotional to be used during Lent, Paul David Tripp writes: “It is right and beneficial to take a season of the year to reevaluate, recalibrate, and have the values of our hearts clarified once again. Lent is such a season. As we approach Holy Week, where we remember the sacrifice, suffering, and resurrection of our Savior, it’s good to give ourselves to humble and thankful mourning. Lent is about remembering the suffering and sacrifice of the Savior. Lent is about confessing our ongoing battle with sin…And Lent is about giving ourselves in a more focused way to prayer, crying out for help that we desperately need from the only One who is able to give it.” (Pages 8-9)

I no longer use Lent to give up something physical. I try to use it to do just what Tripp says: “to reevaluate, recalibrate, and have the values of my heart clarified once again.”  May I challenge you to do the same? I have been reading his book in preparation for my sermons on the cross and the resurrection. I’m actually on Day 17…and no I didn’t plan it that way. Perhaps you might even consider getting a copy of his book to help guide you.

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On a more personal note: this day has some significance. Many of you know of my struggles physically since testing positive for Covid on December 21. I will spare you the ugly details. Let’s just suffice it to say I lost between 40-50 pounds in less than a month. After multiple tests they have narrowed it down to gall stones which lodged in my bile duct which caused my physical issues. After having them removed, it was highly recommended that I have my gall bladder removed. My words: I have a gravel pit in there.  Oddly enough, I NEVER had a moment of pain. However much I hated getting Covid, it actually alerted my doctors (and me) to the potential for a great amount of pain and the possibility of infection which could have caused serious issues down the road. So I am having my gall bladder removed today. I guess that gives new meaning to Lent being a time of giving up something?  🙂  By the time many (most) of you read this my surgery will probably be over. I am hoping for the laparoscopy so I can come home today. All I ask is that whenever you read this you do say a prayer. I would like to recover as quickly as possible. On the bright side: we were “blessed” with 8-9 inches of snow Monday and Tuesday morning so I can’t be outside riding my bike anyway.  But I have been riding inside and am praying for a good answer to my question: when can I start riding inside again? I’ll keep you posted on how things went. Meanwhile, I do ask for your prayers. For more on this whole process and how I am “seeing” it, please check out my other blog here.

#Update

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

I asked for prayer yesterday for my procedure. I’d like to give an update. The procedure went well. They were able to go in and get the renegade stones. No complications except for a sore mouth as a result of having a tube down my throat.  I functioned well the rest of day and went to bed at my normal time of 9:30ish. 

I woke up at 2:00 and decided after fighting getting back to sleep to get up. I don’t have any commitments today so if I want to sleep this afternoon I can. Why?

Because I have a wife and two staff people who ordered me to stay home.  The doctor’s orders was no driving for 24 hours but I think I can stay awake for 2 miles.  The real reason is I have bullies ordering me around.  🙂 🙂

The only caveat to all of this is the doctor said I need to have my gall bladder removed and the sooner the better. He did say I had a bladder full of gravel (my words). Once this happens I can count on it happening again and again. And I don’t want to go through this weight loss regimen again!!!!! So now I wait for a call from the scheduler and the surgeon to sink up.

All is well at this point. Thanks so much for your prayers. God’s got this and I trust His perfect hand. 

#Request#Prayer

Monday, February 1st, 2021

Hey all of you who read this!  All two of you anyway. 🙂  I have a prayer request.  As many of you know I have been having some health issues related to my positive test for Covid. Nothing serious like many. No breathing issues. No need for a ventilator.  No hospitalization. My heart goes out to those who have suffered so much.

However, I have am what they have called a long-hauler.  I tested positive on December 21st and stayed in jail for 14 days. I ventured out on Sunday to preach since both Jo and Ryan (our youth pastor) also had tested positive. We were the only ones to show up.  I lost my sense of smell and taste for about a week, but the greatest (I thought) was being tired. I slept a lot and got nothing done I thought I would get done.  But since Christmas morning I have lost between 40-50 pounds because of my inability to keep things in and down (occasionally).  All blood tests have come back negative, as have all other tests.  Chest x-ray.  Negative.  CT scan. Negative. Coloscopy. No tumor, polyps or mass.  I finally had an MRI last week which showed some renegade stones. The doctor initially told me I had a mass of a suspicious nature. I’m glad it was not what it sounded like. So today I go in for him to get the stones out of there. He said they have come out of the bladder and entered the tube heading into the pancreas. There is a little “v-like” bend in the tube and they are close to that and he said I would NOT want the stones to reach that. So out they come today.

I’d appreciate your prayers for me and Jo at 2:00 today (Monday). You may get this after the fact…you can still pray for recovery.  I’m looking forward to getting my life back where I can ride and lift and put on weight. I’ve had all kinds of offers from people that I can have their weight but it doesn’t work that way. 🙂 

Thanks again for praying. I’ll keep you posted on how things went. I’m not concerned. God’s got this.

#EmptyPursuit

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

There is probably not a person within the sound of my written voice who has not heard of or seen It’s a Wonderful Life, the movie where Jimmy Stewart plays the beloved but very confused George Bailey. George has dreams of “shaking the dust of this town of his feet and seeing the world.” Bedford Falls is not part of his dream. Therefore, the idea of living in a drafty old house, with little money, with one woman and a boatload of kids is not his idea of fun. He once told his dad, “I couldn’t stand being cooped up for the rest of my life in shabby little office. I want to do something big, something important.”  Then, of course, he apologized to his father for the putdown.

The story has resonated all these years  for several reasons, two of which are: 1) George assumes that if importance is to be gained in this life, he must travel to a patch of earth somewhere other than where he is to find it; and 2) he believes once he finds it he will become a satisfied and happy man.

My sermon this week is from Ecclesiastes 2: 18-26. I’ve given it the title of “Work, Eat, Drink, and What?” as I plan to show Solomon’s pursuits are only winding up to be a house of cards. His pursuit of wisdom and pleasure were dead ends. That is what he tells us. Now he is going tackle the other 3 “biggies.”

After last week’s side road and sermon on Life is Sacred, this almost seems somewhat anti-climatic. But this Scripture packs a powerful punch our society and we as Christ-followers need to hear.  As always, I would request your prayers for Sunday.  For the first time in 5 weeks I am planning on standing so physical stamina (as I recover from Covid) is needed. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

#Anger#WrongorRight?

Saturday, October 10th, 2020

The idea of anger is a hot topic (pun intended) especially as we see it played out before us almost on a daily basis. Is it right or wrong to be angry? We hear of stories of people consumed by anger for one reason or another and we cringe when we think of its dangerous interplay in our own lives from time to time. People passed over for promotion; people losing their jobs after years of service and commitment to the company; people feeling like they were abused as a child or taken advantage of in an athletic contest; people who have anger issues that seem to be passed down from grandpa to dad to brother to you; and people who have justified reasons for being angry. They are all there in the mix.

So two views emerge about anger for the Christ-follower: it is either right or it is wrong. To show anger is good; to show anger is bad. To reveal it is not very “Christian”; to hide it is not very “Christian.” Sheesh!

So this week I’m going to speak about anger. Is it always wrong? But, then again, maybe that is not the right question to ask at all. Maybe the right one to ask is “what should I do with the anger I have?” My main Scripture is Eph. 4: 26-27.

I’d appreciate your prayers. If you won’t, I must get just a tad upset. 🙂

#Relax#PermissionTo#Refresh

Sunday, August 9th, 2020

If there has been one thing this whole virus fiasco should have done is given us permission to take it easy. I know…that is hard when someone is uptight and scared. But then again, maybe that is exactly what was needed to relieve anxiety.

I have a book in my office I read years ago by the late Tim Hansel. It is called When I Relax I Feel Guilty.  I thought that was a rather unique title. Sadly, it is also true. We have this crazy mentality that the busier I am the better it looks. But I think the old saying is true: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” One of the statements Tim makes in his book is the word leisure comes the Latin word which means “to be permitted.”  He then says, “More today than ever, we need to learn how to give ourselves permission to relax, to play, to enjoy life, and to enjoy God for who He is.” (p.30)

And because we can’t relax, we find ourselves wound up tighter than a drum.  We have to somehow give ourselves permission to enjoy moments/hours/days of leisure.  I read enough blogs and listen to several podcasts to know that pastors/youth pastors, etc across the spectrum have found themselves burning out due to the failure to take some leisure time and not feel guilty doing so. Especially during this pandemic.  I’m going to be honest. I tend to be high energy.  I get up at 3:30 and most often my feet don’t go horizontal until 9:30 at night (unless I am happen to be sitting in my recliner).  🙂  But during this pandemic I made sure I found time to do leisure. Now…my leisure was not doing cross-stitch or redoing antique furniture or making a boat in my basement. (NCIS anyone?) My leisure was physical in nature because my relaxation is riding my bike.  Going to the Y was out for obvious reasons so I made sure whenever possible I took a 15-25 mile spin on my bike. Some will say, “But that is not relaxing!” For me it is. I breathe fresh air. I can feel the wind at my face. I can sweat. And I can clear my mind.

We have just got to stop letting work become our identity. That is what gets us into the mess to start with.  Work= identity. More work = recognition added to my identity.  Been there done that.  I find it interesting that Jesus often withdrew to be by Himself to be with His Father. Luke 5 tells us it was to pray.  Hey, the way I look at it, if it was good enough for Jesus to withdraw and relax then who am I to argue?

Take some time away. Relax.  Enjoy yourself.  Someone has said, “If you don’t come apart, you will soon come apart.”  There you go. Think about that the next time you want to cover yourself with a load of “To Do” stuff.

#Faith#TruthfulSayings

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

I wrote a blog post here about reading Dr. Lee Warren’s book I’ve Seen the End of You.  Here are some thoughts from that book for you to think about this week:

With the prism of faith, we see only blurred lines of pain, disease, and disappointment.

Faith aligns what you think you’re seeing with reality. It shifts your focus from the problem to the promise.

Faith allows you to see it’s okay to have doubt but we doubt the doubt more than the promise of the One who never breaks His word.

Faith doesn’t keep us from having problems. (My note: Hear that all you health/wealth/prosperity (un)gospel teachers?) It just gives a clearer view of how God is responding to them.

Doubt is not fatal if we recognize it for what it is: a smudge on the lens. When we realize that, wipe it clear, and put the glasses back on, we’ll be okay.

The things we think we know are more like cataracts. They can obscure and blind us to the truth of God’s work around us that is plain to see when our eyes are healthy.

(All taken from page 254 of Dr. Warren’s book)

I’d like to highly recommend you read his book. I am now reading his previous book, No Place to Hide which covers his time in Iraq as a medical surgeon in Balad. It is gut-wrenching so far. More praise to our armed forces!!

 

#OutoftheBlue#VictoryStory

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

“What is it with me?” I have to ask. This is the third book review in a row? This is the second that has to deal with cancer. You might be wondering the same thing. Is Bill trying to tell us something? Truthfully, not that I know of. Who knows what is going on inside my body…or yours for that matter.

While I was reading Dream Big by Bob Goff (my review is here) Bob told how he was asked to do a Preface for a book by Greg Murtha. So I pursued it a bit further since Bob told a little of Greg’s story and it sounded interesting. Greg wrote a book called Out of the Blue and finished it on June 19, 2017. He went “to the head of the line” on June 22, 2017.  This book is Greg’s story and life lessons learned during 5 years of chemotherapy and fighting through 75 chemo treatments.  This was literally one of those books I had trouble putting down.  I started reading it Saturday evening since I didn’t have to preach and had to pry it out of my hands to go to bed. Then as I tossed and turned I wondered if I should have just stayed up and read some more. I finished it Sunday night after attending church with friends, having lunch with them, and coming home to cut grass. The rest of my evening was spent putting the finishing touches on reading this book. IT WAS THAT GOOD!

Greg was a hard-driving and successful man, but by his own admission not a great husband or father. Provider? Yes. Engaged? No.  But here is how his journey began: “On a cold December morning in 2011, I ran eleven miles on the picturesque Crocket Hills Trail in Middle Tennessee…As a 46 year old man in what I thought was peak physical condition, eleven miles was nothing. Afterward, sweating but pumped, I headed for the bathroom at the YMCA. That’s when my runner’s high deflated. It appeared as if someone had poured a container of bright-red blood into the toilet. It was a lot of blood, and I realized instantly, this is not good.”

So begins his story of 5 years/75 treatments. And so begins one of the most captivating books you will ever read.  One month after that 11 mile run, Greg and Tracey (his wife) found out he had Aggressive Stage 3 colon cancer (I’ll leave out the details)  which soon became Stage 4.  Out of the blue his life was changed forever.  Out of the blue his well-planned life had been radically changed. Hence, now you know the reason for the title of the book.

And out of the blue I was slammed by the lessons Greg learned.  How often, even though I want to be a pastor who is tender and open to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, have I walked past people who are obviously hurting?  How many times have I been so preoccupied with my own issues or concerns that I have failed to see the signs of others who are needing someone to care?  How many times have I sensed that nudge from the Spirit to reach out and failed to do so? I can honestly say…way too many.  I shed tears during this book.  Not for Greg but for how his heart was made tender for others. How his heart was molded into a heart like Jesus.  And I shed tears because I am so lacking in that department. Like Joni, Greg says cancer was a blessing and he wouldn’t change a thing.  His biggest regret was leaving behind his wife of 23+ years and his 15 year old son.

Out of the blue God taught me how I needed to be much more open to others; how I needed to be much more sensitive to His voice and available to His lead.  I say “out of the blue” because I was not expecting this book to be what it was-a lesson in listening to God’s voice and acting upon it.  Greg’s journey on this earth is over, but then again, maybe it has just begun…in me. I pray my heart will be open to the Father’s leading as his was.

Get this book. But just be forewarned: you will be hit out of the blue with powerful lessons.

Out of the Blue: The Unexpected Adventure of Life Interrupted

#PromisesPromises#Wisdom

Friday, June 5th, 2020

Most people are familiar with one of the most amazing stories of wisdom in all of literature. It involves two mothers fighting over a dead child and a live child. Discarding the dead child, they began to argue over whose the live one was. The arbitrator declares to split the baby in half and give each one a part. One says, “Yes” while the other says, “No.” The judge decides the one who said no is the real mother simply because the real mother would never want her child to die. You probably recognize that as a story in the life of King Solomon, who shortly before that event had taken over as king of Israel.

I started working on this first sermon in the new series, Promises, Promises, on May 11th.  I think it was week #1952 of what had become known as the lockdown. Okay, so maybe it was only week #9, but you have to admit to some it sure felt like an eternity! 🙂  When the Covid-19 mess took over, I decided to change my whole summer series of sermons and focus on Biblical promises/answers to challenges which have risen as a result of life (not just the virus). Then the George Floyd event happened.

The question we all face is this: “What now?” How do I respond not only to the whole Covid thing, but also to the senseless killing and violence as a result. How do I filter my own thoughts? We need to start by seeking wisdom-divine wisdom-not man’s wisdom. As we have seen, man’s wisdom falls short.

My sermon Sunday is Wisdom to Find the Right Page and will be from Proverbs 1: 1-7, 20-32.  What better place to start than there? I would deeply appreciate your prayers as I start this important, and possibly life-changing series.  And just as an aside: you can watch it on our FB page or on YouTube as it is live-streamed. The link to those is on the church’s website. Thanks for visiting here and for your prayers.