Posts Tagged ‘grace’

Reblog: You Were Meant For This (a reflection for parents)

Originally posted 7 years ago and written sometime before that…still a good reminder, to myself.  Although my children are much older now, I still need to be reminded of this greater reality…

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File under:  Things you were not told about parenting.  Children and privacy.  I never thought and was never told that children would completely change notions of privacy.  Essentially it becomes non-existent, especially during waking hours.  It is not an unusual occurrence to have our whole family, including the cat, in our tiny bathroom.  I suppose I should be encouraged that my children want to be in my presence, but everywhere, all the time?  No one told me…there actually are quite a few things that I was not prepared for when it comes to being a parent  (e.g. infants and toddlers do not observe daylight savings time; they wake up regardless of what the clock says).   Of course nothing prepares you for being a parent like being a parent.  Experience is a strong and unrelenting teacher.

All of this can be overwhelming, but I think it leads to a larger question.  Are our difficulties with our children rooted in a misunderstanding of who is for whom?  That is, are we meant for our children, or are our children meant for us.  Often times our behavior and our attitude would point to us thinking that children are really meant for us.  This may take several forms of course:  children may exist to fill an emotional need, to entertain us, to allow us a second chance at life or sports or school or whatever we lacked or failed at, or even just to stay quiet and out of the way.  Even in Hollywood, babies seem to be the new celebrity status symbol.  It is not wrong to want children, it is wrong to want them for the wrong reasons.  And it is wrong to treat them as objects or possessions when they are present.

Read the words of Walter Wangerin, Jr. in the introduction of his book Little Lamb who made thee? : A book about Children and Parents on this point:

Children do not exist to please us.  They are not for us at all.  Rather, we exist for them – to protect them now and to prepare them for the future.  Who is given unto whom?  Are we a gift to their elders?  No – not till children are grown and their elders are older indeed.  Then they are a gift of the fourth commandment, honoring hoary head which have begun to feel past honor.  But until then, it is we who are given, by God’s parental mercy, to the children!  And it is we who must give to the children – by lovely laughter, by laughter utterly free, and by the sheer joy from which such laughter springs – the lasting memory:  You are, you are, you are, my child, a marvelous work of God!

I am both surprised at times at the depth of my love for my children, but at other times I am surprised at the depth of desire for my own comfort.  I really shouldn’t be surprised at either I suppose, as one reflects the Father’s work in my life and the other that remaining sin and idolatry within my own heart.  At times I have my priorities straight, at others I have them reversed.  The prayer then has to be, that the Lord would help us to understand those times when we act as if our children should be doing something for us or even when may resent their presence and that He would change our hearts to reflect Wangerin’s statement above.

It seems to me that the blessing of being a grandparent is the ability to know without reservation, who is for who?  Most grandparents know, intrinsically, that they exist for their grandchildren and therefore delight in the opportunities to observe, include, be barged in on, etc…by their grandchildren.  The negative of this may lie in the tendency of grandparents to spoil their children – this goes to far to another other extreme.  That said, you have to love the unabashed love that most grandparents are willing show towards their grandchildren.

Another thing that changes when you become a parent is the way that you react to the sufferings of children, especially those who are of the same age as our children.  Our heartstrings can really be pulled when we see an infant or toddler suffering from ill health or from sins perpetrated upon them.  A newspaper article from the Raleigh based News & Observer does this to me with an article on May 9th, 2004 (“Mom grows with Grant”, written by Vicki Cheng).  Jamie Howard was living the life she always wanted to live, but that changed with the birth of her second child.  A few months into Grant’s life, it became clear that something wasn’t right.  It was later discovered that Grant suffered a stroke in utero, which has had a profound affect on his mental and physical development.  What struck me the most in the article, more than hardship of little Grant, were the words of his parents, maybe because I relate to their position as parents.  Matt Howard said:  “The purpose of his life could be to change us.  God chose us to be his parents.”  And Jamie wrote in a letter to Grant:  “You remind me to live for the day, and stop worrying about the future.  I wish that my love could heal you…There has never been a moment in your short life when I doubted your were meant to be my son.  Thank you for being patient with me, as I learn to be your mother.”   Those words bring tears to my eyes every time I read them.  I pray for you and for me that it would not take a tragedy or health difficulty for us to get our priorities straight – for us to recognize that we were meant for our children.

Quick Quote: Look, Love, Lean

“The gospel message…first calls on us all to be realistic in facing and admitting our sinfulness, our weaknesses, our actual transgressions, and our consequent guilt before God; and then it addresses us, in God’s name, substantially as follows:

Look to Christ your loving Sin-Bearer and living Lord. Embrace him as your Savior and Master. And then in his presence resolve to leave behind the old life of conscious self-service, marred as it was by bitterness, self-pity, envy of others, and feelings of failure, in order that you may become his faithful – that is, faith-full – disciple, living henceforth, by his rules under your care.

Love Christ, in unending gratitude for his unending love to you. Labor to please him in everything you do. Let his love constrain, compel, command, comfort, and control you constantly, and, like Paul, stop regarding human approval as in any way important to you…

Lean on Christ and rely on him to supply through the Holy Spirit all the strength you need for his service, no matter how weak unhappy circumstances and unfriendly people may be making you feel at present…lean on Christ, the lover of your soul…”

~ J.I. Packer, Weakness is the Way

It’s Been A While

It’s been a while.
To feel the blood coursing through my veins.
To feel alive. 
It’s been a while.
To think clearly.
To think confidently.
It’s been a while.
To see through the fog.
To see beyond the veil of tears.
It’s been a while for cancer decimates,
Body,
Mind,
Soul. 
But,
It is not greater than the Spirit inside me.
It is not greater than the Grace given to me.
It is not greater than the Love that saves me. 
Yes, it’s been a while. But only a while.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Clean Up on Aisle Life

Life is messy.

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I wish it not were not so.  In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding messes.  Which is foolish, because you can attempt to avoid or plan your way around them, but things have a way of getting spilt all over the table of your life.  This is what happens when we sin and others sin and we live in a world full of fellow sinners.  And it is what happens in a world wrecked by sin.  We get tornadoes and cancer and death.    

 

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 And I hate tornados and cancer and death (among other things).  They leave messes behind.  Messes that can’t be quickly mopped up with the “quicker picker upper” or whatever the best brand of paper towels happens to be right now.  It takes time and help and hope to deal with such things.

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But in the mess we also find Jesus.  Right there in the middle of it all.  Picking up debris and sitting in an infusion center or holding your very heart when you feel it might break into a thousand little pieces.  Jesus is there.  In the mess. With you.  

And He promises that one day there will be no mess (Revelation 21).  For now, cast all your “messes” or anxieties upon Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7, also Philippians 4:4-7).  Messes, yes. But Jesus too.
 

Alabama Snow Day(s)

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I wrote this for my congregation on Tuesday when the snow came& went quickly.  More snow last night and the thought remains…

It’s an Alabama Snow Day.  The snow is here today and gone…today.  Within hours. At least, that was the case up in our neck of the woods at our house and at the church. But while it lasts, it is fun to see the delighted smiles of children that I have been seeing on Facebook today.  To see there snowmen and snowballs.  It reminded me that joy is, and should be, a hallmark of the Christian life.  Why?  I’m glad you asked.  Here’s just one reason:  we are forgiven.  We are forgiven by the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. His blood shed. His life given.  So that we might be washed whiter than snow.  
 

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:

though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:18, ESV)

Oh! rejoice in the richness of our salvation! When the Lord pardoned our sins, he did not pardon half of them, and leave some of them on the book—but with one stroke of the pen he gave a full receipt for all our debts.  When we went down into the fountain filled with blood, and washed, we did not come up half-clean, but there was no spot nor wrinkle upon us—we were white as snow.”  ~Charles Spurgeon

So, whatever your concerns, worries, fears, or uncertainties right this very moment, be reminded of this one thing:

You are forgiven.

I hope that will give ample reason to join us for worship on Sunday so that we can rejoice together.

Coming up for air…

           I’ve never been scuba diving.  Snorkeling one time as a child in the Dry Tortugas, which was incredible, but never scuba diving.  I do know that if you dive really deep and then come to the surface too quickly, you can end up with decompression sickness.  I saw on it TV and read about it on the internet, so it must be true.  Seriously, decompression sickness can lead to some serious physical and neurological effects  (you can google it if you want to know more). Thankfully, the sickness can be treated with oxygen and time in a hyperbaric chamber, usually resulting in no long term effects of decompression sickness.  

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        I’ve never been scuba diving, but I’m quite sure that I spent most of last year diving in the abyss of cancer.  The depths of suffering and pain that we have explored are overwhelming at times.  Sometimes the deep was so deep that no light could be seen.  Thankfully, the abyss did not swallow us and we have returned to the surface.  But I realize that my return to the surface has been quick in many ways. It has much to do with my desire to return to ministry in a full-time ministry.  And normal life.  Whatever that means.  

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         So, I’m in a strange place.  Maybe there is some decompression sickness.  It’s really nice to be on the surface.  Life is really good, but there are still many challenges that I face on a day to day basis.  On the positive side:  my strength, energy, and endurance are returning in a great way.  I would say that I am back to working full-time – which means some long days and weeks.  That’s not a complaint – the water’s nice.  I am so glad I can make hospital visits, focus on serving my family and our church family, seek God’s wisdom for the future, and continue to preach and teach week to week.  But I also feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and discouraged.  Out of place or out of step.  Disappointed by my mistakes and my need to make frequent apologies for my foibles.  The waters can still be troubled at times.  So, I have to try to remind myself regularly that I am first and forever a child of God.  That I am forgiven.  That, though I am weak, He is strong.   I need the oxygen of God’s grace.  And the  hyperbaric chamber of His steadfast love.  And day by day I find new mercies – which is more than I deserve.  I’ve come up for air and I am so glad – even of my ascent was too fast in some ways.  I have to trust God with that too.

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Overwhelmed by God’s Grace…

There have been many tears shed over the past month.  Times when we have been brought low, full of fear and anxiety.  Tears because of pain and frustration.  Tears of uncertainty.  But there have also been tears because we have been overwhelmed by God’s grace to us through the love and generosity of others.  It is more than we deserve – which is why we call it grace.  And so, I just had one of those moments yesterday.

A little background:  Shortly after I was diagnosed with colon cancer at the very end of February and it was known that I was going to need surgery and treatment, the church I am privileged to serve, sprung quickly  into action in several ways.  One of the ways was the establishment of a “Pastor Care Fund” (more on that below) – which has freed us from worry about the financial ramifications of our particular predicament.  I can honestly say, in part due to this fund but also due to trusting the Lord who is our provider, that I have been largely free from worry about money.  I can only speak for myself, but I am thankful that that fear or worry has largely been absent.  And that, in itself, is a gift.  Considering how often I have had to pull out my credit card to pay a $60 copay here or a $350 copay here.  I also got a different kind of letter yesterday – the bill for my 5-6 day hospital stay.  Thankfully, what we have to pay is much, much, much, much less than what the initial hospital charge was – it is one of those unfathomable type numbers.   We are glad for good insurance, but still there are those pesky deductibles and copays and “out of pocket” (have you looked in my pocket?!) expenses.  I know you know what I mean.  So, this is grace in itself.

Here’s an update on the Pastor Care Fund from the Chairman of our Deacons and I hope will give you a sense of why I have been overwhelmed at times.

North Hills Church is thankful for the expression of love, prayer, and support for Pastor Adam & Lydia Tisdale. As of March 31st the Pastor Care Fund has received over $11,000 in donations from over 30 individuals and 5 churches. Many have offered further assistance if there are unmet needs. We are so thankful for such an overwhelming expression of love and support and we continue to pray for additional contributions.

The Pastor Care Fund started with the goal of providing financial assistance for out-of-pocket medical expenses of $6,000 and anticipated additional expenses for continuing treatment. We do not know what the expenses will be but God has already provided abundantly. North Hills Church, as stewards of the Pastor Care Fund, will continue to provide updates concerning our support of the Tisdale’s financial needs.

 Thank you again for sharing your testimony of God’s love for his children.

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free” – Psalm 119:5

In Christian Love.

Deacon Dave

On behalf of the Deacons of North Hills Church

treasurer@northhillschurch.net

Contributions to the Pastor Care Fund can be made payable to:

North Hills Church / Pastor Care Fund /PO Box 320 / Meridianville, AL 35759

It is impossible to describe in words how it felt to read that yesterday.  Overwhelmed.  And still there may be other gifts on the way.  Overwhelmed.

And to be clear, this is just one bit of God’s grace to us.  I have said it before and I will keep saying, even if you tire of it:  Every prayer (how many are praying and by those I have never met?!), every thought, every encouraging word, every hug, every card, every email, every message, every Facebook comment, every gift (we have received other gifts outside of those made to the Pastor Care Fund, as well), every meal, every sacrifice.   All of it God’s grace.   All of it overwhelming.  Thank you for being used by Him – whether you realize it or not.  And that is good, as we at times have felt threatened to be overwhelmed by the flood water’s of cancer, of fear, of uncertainty.  But God is good (“all the time”) and we are blessed.

Bullet Trains & Recents Stops

What does this all feel like?  I have not been asked that question in that manner, but I think it is in the background.  And it’s a fair question, since this is not something that most people have to go through.  Thankfully.  Though plenty have and will.  The most reached for analogy to describe any sort of emotionally, spiritually, and physically tumultuous time is a roller coaster.  The ups and downs.  The quick turns.  Maybe even one of those loops.  As apt as that analogy is, it is not the first or most prominent picture in the mind.  I keep coming back to one and expanding upon it in my mind.

What does this all feel like?  It feels like being a passenger on a bullet train.  Like the kind that they have in Japan that can reach speeds up to 200 mph (according to Wikipedia, so I’m sure it’s true).   Now, I’ve never been on a bullet train, let alone to Japan, but this is still the image has been most on my mind.  Fast.  Everything going so fast.  To some unknown destination.  A month ago, I was feeling just fine and only moderately concerned about one of the symptoms of the colon cancer.  And certainly not thinking cancer.  Honestly, my biggest fear was that I had developed some sort of food allergy and would have to change my diet.  So much for that (on the positive side, I can still eat whatever I want – no food allergies here).  So, here we are on this bullet train, going at speeds unfathomable, and unable to find the emergency stop button.  Or that line you can pull on a bus that lets the driver know you want off.  I keep searching in my mind for that line and that button, but I can’t find either.  I want off, but I am not in control of this journey.

But we do get off sometimes.  Or more like ejected.  Whether we want off the train at that particular moment or not.  Ejected for a Dr’s appointment, for an unwanted phone call, for surgery, for more Dr’s appointments.  And then you’re back on the train – cruising at warp speed.  Until the next sudden stop – even when we know they’re coming, it still can feel sudden.

We had one of those yesterday.  Another new Doctor.  As an aside, I was content just having one Doctor, who I would go to see from time to time when I got a sinus infection.  Now I have several and more stops along the way.  We met with one of my two oncologists for the first time and got the plan for chemotherapy.  I will have a round of chemo every two weeks.  During the on weeks I will have to go three different days (approximately 3-4 hours the first day, 2 hours the next, and a quick visit on the third).  The following week will be an off week.  I’ll do this for 6 months.  That’s about 5 months longer than I was hoping for, but I tend to be overly and unrealistically optimistic at times.  Glad I haven’t become cynical yet.  Tomorrow (Wednesday), I’ll meet with the radiation oncologist, though radiation will not be done until after the chemotherapy is complete.  More stops next week: PET scan on Wednesday and the installation of a Port Catheter on Thursday.

So, I don’t like be out of control of the speed of this cancer train and not being able to get off when and how I want.  But here is the one thing that is keeping me sane.  I know the train conductor.  The Lord is the one who has designed (to use the word from John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Cancer, which I reread last night) this trip and directs its starting and stopping.  Though we feel and are out of control, which we don’t like, we know that the Lord is in control.  And He is a wise and good conductor.  This we know.  And this grants us hope and faith for the journey.

Not only do we know the conductor, but He has invited friends to join us for small parts of our journey.  And they (you!) have been so faithful and kind to us.  Family, friends, and even brand new friends riding with us for a bit.  No, they can’t be on for every bit, but their presence gives and grants grace to us when and where we need it.  We know we are not alone.  And our so thankful for that – it remains impossible to adequately express the gratitude that we feel for so many joining us on this journey.  And so, we go where our Lord takes us, trusting in both His wisdom and the multitude of His provision along the way.  At warp speed.

Cancer & Preaching to Myself

Almost three years ago, in the Spring of 2010, I wrote a letter to a dear friend who had been diagnosed with cancer.  I wrote the letter because we had moved away and yet I still very much felt like her pastor – even if from a distance.  Today, I am realizing that so much of my need each day is to preach what I have preached to others to myself.  To remember the richness of God’s grace, the depth of His love, and the promise of His presence.  To think deeply about God’s sovereignty and His glory, even in the midst of suffering.  I want to do this while and as I have opportunity.  Here is the majority of what I wrote and my attempt to own some of the ways I have encouraged others – I know I have a long ways to go:

Here is what I would tell you if I were your pastor, and at times like this I wish I were!:

  First, I would tell you I love you and am so thankful the Lord has placed you and your family in our lives.  What a tremendous blessing y’all have been to us since we first came to Hampton Roads and still to this day.  While this past year has been good in many ways, one thing that has consistently been hard is that the Lord placed in Meridianville/Huntsville, rather than in your community. [Four years in, I could now write how thankful and blessed we are to be here in North Alabama and would’t want to change that one bit]  We are making new friends, but it’s nothing yet like the joy of our friendship with your family.  And you personally, have been an encouragement to me, particularly in my ministry these years too.  That has been invaluable to me and a certain fulfillment of the Lord’s command to encourage one another.  And I can only begin to imagine the love that your family has for you as you have been a loving, faithful, and compassionate wife and mother.  I am sure they have shared their love for anew in these recent days.  Regardless, of how we might describe the depth of such love, love of friends or family, it pails in comparison to the love of God.  That is the first thing I would tell you and remind you – God loves you far more than we can imagine on this side of glory, but not in a way that is only incomprehensible.  God’s love is demonstrable for we need only look to the Cross of Christ.  God’s love is not fickle, feeble, nor does it wane.  God’s love is not measured by our assessment of our circumstances, whether good or bad.  God’s love is not quantified or qualified in relation to how we feel, what we can see, or what we might hope.  And so, my prayer for you during these days is that “Christ may dwell in your heart through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (with thanks to Paul!). 

            Secondly, I would encourage you to find the balance between radical honesty about your frailty, struggles, doubts, and uncertainties, while at the same time being radically honest about your faith and trust in God.  I have always loved the “holy buts” of 2 Corinthians 4.  Paul acknowledges that we are jars of clay, symbolizing our frailty.  But – and it’s a big one, Paul also directs us to the power of God that was first displayed at creation and now in our recreation through Jesus Christ.  In the Christian, these are always joined together (Or should be) – an understanding of what we are, but always in relation to the work of Jesus.  So, even as you struggle today or tomorrow or next week in a variety of ways, don’t shrink back from being honest with yourself, your family, your brothers and sisters in Christ, or those who don’t know Christ.  Speak your doubts, your fears, your anxieties.  And then, as they are spoken, be prepared to hear God’s response of love and compassion for you.  It might come from His Word, by His Spirit, through a loved one, a brother/sister in Christ, or God may even use someone where you might least expect to hear God’s truth. 

            Thirdly, I would tell you that God’s care about you as a complete person.  So then, this isn’t just about what is happening to you or in you physically.  This also about your faith, your heart, your emotions, and your spirit – God doesn’t just redeem a portion of us, but all of us.  So, in that sense this presents an opportunity to prayerfully consider all of the ways that the Lord will grow you.  I am so glad someone directed you to “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” – I read a couple of years ago and am thankful for John Piper’s ministry.  I probably can’t say what he says as well, but the thrust of what Piper says is what I would say to you, perhaps more personally, if not as eloquently.  Here is an opportunity the Lord has given you to grow, not in spite of your cancer, but because of it.  Not a one of us would ask the Lord to grow us that way, but now that you are there, might as well take advantage of it.   This knowledge informs my prayers for you.  Yes, I pray for your physical well-being, but I also pray (and maybe more so) for your spiritual well-being.  

            Fourthly, I would tell you that this isn’t just about you.  That could sound harsh, but I think you would know the way in which I would say that to you.  Just as the Lord is doing something in you as a whole person, He is also at work outside of you.  I heard someone once say that God’s never just doing one thing, He’s doing a million things at one time or something like that.  In that sense, even as you may pray for yourself, pray also for how the Lord will glorify himself in a multitude of ways through this.  How might he use this to grow your church?  How might he use this to bring reconciliation with family members?  How might he use this to draw your whole family into an even deeper walk?  How might he use this to draw someone to himself? How might he use this in ways that we may not see today or tomorrow, or on this side of heaven?  Yeah, that’s would I say, it’s not just about you, but the Lord will use you for His glory.

            I probably would have more to say, but I know that talking too much is an occupational hazard.  So, if I were your pastor, I would also wait, watch, and pray, to see what else the Lord would lead me to say.  I would listen, knowing that I can learn/hear/be reminded of as much from you about the Gospel, the love of Christ, and our growth as Christians, as you might learn/hear/be reminded of from me.  Forgive any grammatical errors, since I would prefer to saying these things to you, rather than writing them.  My prayers attend this note. 

grace & peace…Adam

March 21st Cancer Update

[Context:  I was diagnosed with colon cancer on Feb 28 and had surgery on March 8th to remove the cancerous part of my colon.]

Tomorrow (Friday, March 22nd) will mark two weeks since my surgery to remove a cancerous portion of my colon.  I stayed 5 days in the hospital and have been recovering from home since then.  I can thankfully report that each day I gain in strength and energy, though I am still far from what I might consider 100%.   Though the early news after the surgery was not what we hoped for, we did receive a great report from the surgeon later on.  The pathology report of the portion of the colon that was removed showed “clear margins” (as in they got all that could be seen) on all sides and all of the lymph nodes that were tested were also clear or clean.  We needed that news!

Today I had my post-op appointment with my surgeon to have staples & stitches removed and general follow-up.  The surgeon is encouraged by my progress and overall healing – which, of course, encourages us.  I am thankful for the care I have received from him and his staff – not to mention prayers offered by many of the staff, as well.  Next week I will be seeing two oncologists (one who administers chemotherapy and one who administers radiation) and expect to have PET scan sometime in the near future.  Future treatment still to be determined, but I imagine we will know much more after those appointments.  It continues to feel as if we are on a fast moving train with an unknown destination.  That said, though we continue to live with much uncertainty regarding coming days and weeks, we trust God who knows and orders all for His glory and our good.  That remains our confidence.

Despite all of the unknowns, frustration, fear, and anxiety (to name a few things), there has been a steady stream (and even a flood at times) of God’s grace to us.  The sources of that grace have been many and they have been varied.  I am so thankful for the care of our family, our congregation, our friends, the churches & people of Providence Presbytery, and even brothers & sisters in Christ that I have never met.   Every prayer is a precious gift that wards off the evil One and brings us before the gracious throne of our Heavenly Father.    Thank you feels insufficient, but it is what I can offer you at this point.  So, thank you, sincerely.

Aside from Facebook:  my wife’s blog (http://lydiatisdale.wordpress.com) is a further source of information and insight.  Lydia has done an especially good job of capturing our emotions and the suffering of where the Lord has us.  I also have been brainstorming and thinking about how I can communicate how my faith and my cancer have been intersecting, which I hope the Lord might use to encourage others in whatever place of suffering they find themselves.   I am currently up to about 11 topics, so stay tuned.

Letters to My Sheep: Cancer Letter #1

[Context:  I was diagnosed with colon cancer on Feb 28 and had surgery on March 8th to remove the cancerous part of my colon.  This was read at our worship service this past Sunday, March 17]

Beloved,                                                                                                   

            I wish I could be there to worship with you, but the time is not quite right.  I look forward to that time, more than you can know.  My recovery is slow, though most days we can see areas of improvement.  Sometimes my patience is tried by my desire to not be dependent upon others or just to feel normal.  This, I know, is part of the trial.  We will go to see the surgeon for post-op appointment this Thursday and we will have referrals to an oncologist and a radiation oncologist.   And here is yet another aspect of this trial – that we can’t plan out life the way we want or accustom to doing so, but have to live with the unknowns of what lays ahead. 

            And yet, our (and by that I mean you and me) mission remains the same at North Hills.  We want to make the grace of Jesus known inside and outside of our church.  Sometimes we will do this in small and seemingly unnoticeable ways.   Let me give you two quick examples, one personal and one corporate. 

            Toward the end of my hospital stay, one of the physical therapists came into give me a walk,  Her name was Joy.  Those PT’s are always pushing you to move!  But when she came I had actually just gotten back in bed after a short walk and a longer sit in the chair.  I was tuckered!  Joy understood and as she was leaving she mentioned that she was just glad to be able to meet the patient that everyone said had such a good spirit.  I was surprised by her words, but I have never wanted to use my medical condition as an excuse to be mean or rude.  I tried to learn the names of every nurse, orderly, etc… (and there are so many people that come to do various things – especially about 3am!).  I simply tried to treat them with respect.  That spirit, has to be attributed to the Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit that we have.  In some small way, I hope, while I was there I left some folks at Crestwood with the grace of God. 

            And now back to you.  Sometimes we make God’s grace known in small, personal interactions.  And sometimes it is written with big letters in the sky.  I think that is what y’all have been doing for us.  Demonstrating God’s grace so that it becomes part of the story – not just the suffering.    It is impossible to put into words the depth of our gratitude for how you have stood with us during this season of suffering.  We have been overwhelmed in the best possible way by your love.  That has come in multitude of ways: prayers upon prayers, thoughts, notes & cards, emails, facebook messages, gifts – small and large, practical help, meals, visits, calls, and on and on.  We are blessed beyond measure.  Thank you for being the instruments of God’s grace to us. 

            And so we will learn, grow, and belong together in new and unexpected ways, so that we can proclaim the wonders of our God who saved & redeems, heals & restores.  Until I can be with you again, I pray and seek God’s best for us all.

Yours…Adam

 

Winslow Quotation

Here is a quotation from Octavius Winslow‘s book Our God that I used in the conclusion of Sunday’s sermon on our completeness in Christ (Colossians 2:11-12).  I actually quoted the second paragraph, but the first provides some context.  You can read all of Winslow’s works at Grace Gems, buy a hardcopy from Reformation Heritage Books, or maybe you’ll find one at a used bookstore like me.

All the religions of men- and their name is “legion”- are based upon the principle of human merit- all are founded upon some fancied good and power in the creature, the effect of which is totally to set aside the Atonement of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul. In fact, the doctrine of creature merit is the fatal element of man’s religion, the moral poison of his soul, the remedy for which is only found in a believing reception and heart-felt experience of the free grace salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And yet how much even the Lord’s people have yet to learn of this great truth! How dim their views, how faint their realization, how little their enjoyment of it! How much forgetfulness of the truth that Christ died, not for saints, but for sinners; that He receives, not the worthy, but the unworthy; that He came to heal, not the whole, but the sick; to call, not the righteous, but sinners, to repentance! Always looking for some good thing in themselves, instead of looking only to Christ for that worthiness which never can be found out of Him; ever dealing with their sins, in the place of sin’s Great Sacrifice, substituting sanctification for justification; thus making a saving merit of their holiness, putting faith in the place of Christ, the Object of faith, and so making a Savior of their religious experience, it is no marvel that they realize so faintly their completeness in Christ, and the peace and joy, the hope and holiness springing therefrom. For this reason, “many are weak and sickly among them,” and many travel in doubt, and fear, and tears to the brink of the river of death, though, blessed be God, none ever go doubting, and fearing, and weeping over it; for, at the last, grace triumphs, and the weakest faith gets the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

John Stott Daily Thought

I get an email with a John Stott quotation every week day.  This was yesterday’s:

Nothing could sum up better the blessings of being in Christ than the expression ‘the reign of grace’. For grace forgives sins through the cross, and bestows on the sinner both righteousness and eternal life.  Grace satisfies the thirsty soul and fills the hungry with good things.  Grace sanctifies sinners, shaping them into the image of Christ.  Grace perseveres even with the recalcitrant, determining to complete what it has begun.  And one day grace will destroy death and consummate the kingdom.  So when we are convinced that ‘grace reigns’, we will remember that God’s throne is a ‘throne of grace’, and will come to it boldly to receive mercy and to find grace for every need (Heb. 4:16).

–From “The Message of Romans” (The Bible Speaks Today series: Leicester: IVP, 1994), p. 157.