Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

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.

Advertisements

Easter Prayer – 2013

Pastoral Prayer prayed on March 31st, 2013 (Easter) at North Hills Church  [Portion in italics is from The Worship Sourcebook]

Father, Let us live in the hope of the Resurrection of Christ and His complete and utter defeat of our enemies of sin, the evil One, and death.  Let us live in this hope despite the realities of our groaning and longing in this world.  Let us live in this hope when…

Our bodies groan, longing for restoration of health, a return to normal, or just the strength to carry on  another day.

When our hearts groan with a longing for loved ones lost, for reconciliation with a family member of friend, or to be free of fear and anxiety.

When our souls groan, longing for complete freedom from sin that indwells, that dogs our days & nights, and that draws us away from you, our Lord.

When we long to be renewed inwardly and outwardly.   When death seems to prevail, sin seems so powerful, and the Evil One so persuasive.

Renew our Resurrection hope this day, as we worship and reflect on the greater Reality – that Jesus Christ not only died for us, but truly Rose for us.  Renew our heart to know that Christ lives today, intercedes for us, and has completely defeated the Evil One.

And grant to us not just hope, but also gratitude.  That thanksgiving might well up in our hearts again and again, even as we await the completion of your work in us and in this world.

Thanksgiving that you would send your Son to live and die for us.

That you would settle our debt and forgive our transgressions.

That you would grant to us new life through faith in Your Son

That you would adopts us as sons & daughters

That you would give to us your Spirit, a guarantee of life to come and a guardian of life in you.

That you would give to us one another to show grace to one another, t0 encourage & edify, and to bear one  another’s burdens in times of need.

That you would use us as ambassadors and servants in this world.

That you would use North Hills Church to proclaim the excellencies of your mercy.

Living God, you have given us so much in Jesus Christ: hope, joy, and peace.
Above all, you have given us life!  What can we give in return?  If the whole world were ours, it would not be enough. What little we have we humbly offer to you. Thousand, thousand thanks are due, dearest Jesus, unto you.

Remind us that with you, life is never hopeless.  That disappointment, doubt, and despair are never final.  Remind us that though there are tears, there is day when you will wipe every tear from our eyes.  A place where sin, pain, and death have all been eradicated.  Remind us that it is our Risen & Returning Lord who takes us there.   This day, let hope reign and gratitude pour forth from our hearts and lips, regardless of the state we find ourselves in.   In you, we live and move and have our being.  And to you we pray.  In the name of Your Son, Our Savior, Jesus, the One who Rose, Amen

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: Open Eyes & Willing Hands

This Sunday, you’ll show up (I hope) to church and we’ll partake of the Lord’s Supper together, as we do on the first Sunday of the month.  Unless you have “open eyes”, it is possible that you will not notice the hands who serve us all by preparing the Lord’s Supper.  It will just be there.  And that, in itself, is a good thing.  But beyond the pastor’s and elder’s hands who administer & distribute the Sacrament, there will were “willing hands” behind the scenes serving you and me.  This scene is repeated week after week and month after month in our and any congregation in a variety of ways.  Unless you have open eyes, you may just show up and find the church decorated for Christmas or for a special event.  Unless you have open eyes, you might just look past the person serving in the nursery.  Oh, they are there and you see them, but how easy it is for us to look past those who serve with willing hands.  Unless you have open eyes, we might not see church members serving on a preschool board, or visiting someone, or even speaking a word of encouragement to another member.  By its very nature, much of this kind of service to the body of Christ, is behind the scenes.  And that is okay.  But, I hope you will consider two things:  first, ask the Lord to give you open eyes to see those who serve our Church and maybe offer a word of thanks or encouragement.  Secondly, if you haven’t found a way to serve the church, pray that the Lord might give you willing hands.  I am sure we could find a way to put them to work!  

“Lord, help me see those who serve your Church and your people.  And help me to know how to use what you have given to be a blessing to others. Amen”

Thank you to those of you who do serve with willing hands in a variety of ways, often in unseen ways.  I thank the Lord for you.  

Next week:  Unseen Prayers (Not all service to the church is done physically!)

Letters to My Sheep: A Thanksgiving Blessing

A quick blessing for Thanksgiving I wrote for my Congregation:

May you know the joy of family and the fellowship of the body of Christ this week.
May you be satisfied, full even, with the Lord’s gracious provision.
May you be filled with thanksgiving to the Lord and to those whom the Lord uses in our lives.
May you know the hope of our Savior, even if you find yourself troubled by the storms of life.
And may you also long for the greater feast that is to Come.