So, yesterday I had another chemo treatment. The doctor came in to go over things with me as he always does. When I asked him to assess my current circumstances pursuant to my cancer battle he said, “Better than the best case scenario.” That was really encouraging. But he had already said that, after this full round of chemo (12 infusions over about 25 weeks) we would stop them and I would probably begin taking one medicine in the form of a pill. Asked why, he said that the affects of the chemo are too hard on the body to continue indefinitely. When asked if there would be a time to do another round, he said that if I was still doing well in a year he might consider it. That tells me that he doesn’t expect me to be doing well in a year. That was discouraging. Sort of like, “even though you are doing so well now, I don’t expect it to last.” (Thanks doc) He is a man who tells it like it is.
So, throughout the day I struggled with the two bits of news. 1. I am doing better than expected. 2. I shouldn’t expect it to last. I spent a lot of time chatting with my Heavenly Daddy about all this. Then, this morning, the Lord gave me these words (yes, from Spurgeon again)
1 Peter 1:7 “The trial of your faith.”
Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbor; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck my be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity; the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and it trial is precious too.
Thank God for what grace you have; praise Him for that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer impossibilities.
I think to myself – “If I only knew that God was going to grant me life, I would be at greater peace.” But then I am reminded that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. “Lord, increase my faith. Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief!”
Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant?
So, once again, God has used the scripture and the words of Charles H. Spurgeon to bless me. Please take a moment to drink in the majesty of the truth of his words.
“Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith. If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not: the paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true faith which holds by the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father’s countenance is hidden. A faith which can say, in the direst trouble. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,” is heaven-born faith. The Lord afflicts his servants to glorify himself, for he is greater glorified in the graces of his people, which are his own handiwork. When “Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope,” the Lord is honoured by these growing virtues. We should never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress; nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten; nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The wisdom and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which his vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring out the beauty of the lights. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven, if we had not known the curse of sin and sorrow of earth? Will not peace be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after toil? Will not the recollection of past sufferings enhance the bliss of the glorified? There are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief meditation, let us muse upon it all day long.”
I write this as I sit receiving an infusion for stage 4 cancer. And yet, I am blessed. My Savior makes no mistakes, takes no wrong turns, and errs not. While I pray many times each day for complete physical healing for myself and many others by name that I know are dealing with similar circumstances, yet I know He does all things well. He is not unaware of my circumstances yea He is the ultimate cause of all things. He is never surprised.
The things the Lord has taught me already, even though we are only at the start of this journey, are almost overwhelming. I have had times, lying in bed in the middle of the night, just listening and talking to God; often with tears of contrition or gratefulness. Oh how He has deepened my walk with Him!
And so we continue, unsteadily at times, uncertain of the future but infinitely certain of the loving heart of the One who brings each new day. I will praise Him with my whole heart with every beat He allows me to experience!
I hope my readers will forgive me for so often borrowing so many words from others. You may have figured out by now that I really enjoy reading Charles Spurgeon. One thing that is so fascinating to me is that the Bible, and by extension, godly commentaries on it, remains applicable for today. Follow now as I copy Charles’ thoughts on Philippians 2:15 and then add my own meager application of those thoughts to current events. Remember that Charles wrote his thoughts well over 100 years ago.
“In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”
We use lights to make manifest. A Christian man should so shine in his life, that a person could not live with him a week without knowing the gospel. His conversation should be such that all who are about him should clearly perceive whose he is, and whom he serves; and should see the image of Jesus reflected in his daily actions. Lights are intended for guidance. We are to help those around us who are in the dark. We are to hold forth to them the Word of life. We are to point sinners to the Savior, and the weary to a divine resting-place. Men sometimes read their Bibles, and fail to understand them; we should be ready, like Philip, to instruct the inquirer in the meaning of God’s Word, the way of salvation, and the life of godliness. Lights are also used for warning. On our rocks and shoals a lighthouse is sure to be erected. Christian men should know that there are many false light shown everywhere in the world, and therefore the right light is needed. The wreckers of Satan are always abroad, tempting the ungodly to sin under the name of pleasure; they hoist the wrong light, be it ours to put up the true light upon every dangerous rock, to point out every sin, and tell what it leads to, that so we may be clear of the blood of all men, shining as lights in the world. Lights also have a very cheering influence, and so have Christians. A Christian ought to be a comforter, with kinds words on his lips, and sympathy in his heart; he should carry sunshine wherever he goes, and diffuse happiness around him.
Is that not a wonderfully well-rounded exposition of how our Christian lights should shine?
1. Make manifest, or evangelize. According to Spurgeon, a person should not be able to be in our presence more that a week before they would learn whose we are. Most of the world doesn’t mind if we say that we are Christian just as long as we don’t make too big a deal of it. That’s like hiding our light under a bushel isn’t it? That’s not what we are called to do!
2. For guidance, or discipleship and teaching. One of the great joys I’ve experienced over the years is seeing the practical application of scripture to everyday life and learning. There is nothing to which the Bible does not apply! The world would have us keep our religious opinions to ourselves but that’s not what God would have us do. Savory salt – that is what we are to be!
3. For warning, or speaking out against sin. This seems to be the world’s greatest objection to Christianity. We always want to say what’s wrong with things! We have the gall to categorize certain behaviors as sin! How ridiculous we seem to them. But that is one of the things light does. Under normal applications, like our lighthouse example, the captain of the ship is so glad it is there to point out the danger. In our world today however, those who sound the alarm of great danger are harassed and accused of being negative and narrow. None-the-less, our calling to be light does not excuse us from sounding a warning, taking a stand and being honest and real about the sinfulness of sin.
4. Cheering influence, or wrapping our messages up in joy. Sometimes this may be the most difficult aspect to intertwine with the others. Those who are always upbeat and positive but who fail to take a godly stand, which would take the teeth out of the judgment of God, surround us. We know that we don’t want to be like that. But we must take care that we don’t overreact to their bad example. Years ago, Jack Hyles joked, “You don’t have to hate everybody to be a good fundamentalist!” How often are we exhorted to rejoice! We have the truth! We have been given the glorious privilege of sharing the truth. Let us be glad at the opportunity and be well rounded in our approach to spreading the light and to life!
A radio ad announces, “The most frightening words one could ever hear is ‘You have cancer.’” This is from a medical facility that specializes in the care and treatment of cancer patients.
I heard this ad several months ago and thought to myself, “No, the most frightening words one could ever hear are found in Matthew 25:41b ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.’”
Well, a few weeks ago I was able to personally test that theory. I heard the words, “You have cancer.” To say that those words shook me to the core would be the understatement of a lifetime. So many unanswered questions, even now. What kind of cancer is it? Is it a treatable form or can I expect it to be terminal? How much time will I have left on this earth? The night I heard those terrible works I awoke more than once in a cold sweat, heart pounding, feeling like I was unable to even breathe.
By the way, this news was much more devastating than that of a year and a half ago when I was told I needed open-heart surgery. With that, I knew it would be difficult and the rehab laborious, but the difference was I had every reason to believe that I would be “fixed, as good as new.” This news carried no such expectations.
The next day I went into the office as usual, because that’s what I do, right? I worked on the things I needed to, still very much overwhelmed by the news. My thoughts were uncontrollably negative, why? how? why now? Early in the afternoon I decided I should post the results of my doctor’s report on fb because I had promised to keep everyone up to date on things. I did so briefly and did not give it another thought. As the afternoon went on I began to notice an incredible, may I say a miraculous, change in my spirit and my thinking. New thoughts were crowding out the old and a spirit of strength was taking over. One overarching thought continued, “One day, maybe one day soon, you may be feeling ill, weak, listless; but that day is not today! Today you are strong and vibrant and able to be active and alert. Don’t live today like you are already feeling the affects of an affliction, live today for all its worth.”
As I was thinking on those thoughts it occurred to me what it was that had made the difference. When I checked again on my fb page I saw that nearly 200 people, on my page and on the pages of those who had shared my post, had said that they were praying for me. Hallelujah! What an instantaneous answer to prayer! Whether my physical body had changed or not, my mind and spirit had been, and immediately so! What power prayer holds! What a difference we make when we get on our knees before our Almighty God and bring our petitions to Him! Words are insufficient to say “thank you” to those who have prayed for me or how earnest I would implore all to continue in prayer for me, and for others battling the curses of this world whether they be through ill health or any other.
So, back to the original question, “What is the most frightening thing one could ever hear?” Let’s consider the answer in light of a few scriptures –
Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Am I praying that my cancer will be treatable and my life extended a good long time? Yes, I most certainly am! Am I praying that, without even the aid of medical treatment, God would bring complete healing to my body? Yes, I most certainly am! Please feel free to pray for these things along with me!
And yet, I am not in fear and trembling about what eternity brings. The Holy Spirit has sealed that future for me a long time ago when I humbly accepted the finished work of Christ as the payment for my awful sin. You see, I believe that when Jesus says, “Whosoever,” that is exactly what He means. I believe:
John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
For me, that passage gives great hope and encouragement. This life still offers terrors and thorns. The next only hope and glory. I have put my trust in Christ and am resting in His precious promises.
I must point out that the last part of the last verse offers an ominous warning. For those who have rejected the Savior of the world, there will be no salvation, no hope, no happy ending. Don’t wait, trust Him today. He alone is worthy of our undying devotion. Amen!
It isn’t about the president.
It isn’t about the congress or the Supreme Court.
Although my vote does count and I should cast it every chance I get intelligently and in light of the scriptures.
It isn’t about Hollywood, New York City or Nashville.
It isn’t about political correctness, sensitivity training or the national mood.
It isn’t about recent trends, the latest fad or the most contemporary thinking.
I don’t need to rethink every biblical thought in light of the newest scripture twisting “authority.”
When the Bible says, “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Well, quite frankly, that’s good enough for me. I don’t need to wonder whether God would approve of a gay marriage. (Call me old-fashioned)
But, even so, it isn’t about gay people wanting our government to permit them to be married, or others wanting sanction for the killing of the pre-born, or still others demanding the all references to God and His Christ be removed from public display.
In fact, it isn’t even about our founding fathers and their adherence to biblical principles in the framing of our government or about those who fought to keep us free.
It isn’t about the “good ole days” and “what has happened to America?”
I don’t think it about any of that.
I think it’s all about me…and you…and now, right this minute, today!
It’s about, What am I doing? How am I helping? Who am I influencing?
What godly righteousness is being reflected in my life? Who is seeing in me the countenance of Christ? Where are my funds being spent? What priorities am I exhibiting and how do they honestly affect my daily walk?
2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin sand will heal their land.” (Emphasis added)
So, I can lament that those in our government are not following the Savior; that those in authority have abused it; that my “representatives” are depraved and unworthy of office not only biblically but constitutionally. But, to what end? Where lies the blame? Upon whose shoulders is the burden?
It is you and I dear Christian. It is upon our knees and through our witness and in our faithfulness to our heavenly call that the answers to our nation’s and yea, the world’s problems lie.
It is our God Almighty in answer to our earnest pleas who, and who alone is able to right the ship and bring righteousness to the unrighteous and truth to those blinded by the enemy.
Will we answer the call? Will we respond? Will revival begin with me or will I wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting.
1. Am I a soldier of the cross? A follower of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own His cause or blush to speak His name?
2. Must I be carried to the skies of flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?
3. Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me on to God?
4. Sure I must fight if I would reign – increase my courage, Lord! I’ll bear the toil; endure the pain, supported by Thy Word!
May we exert far greater effort in making a difference by winning our neighbor, teaching our children and loving the lost than we do in bemoaning the mess others are making of our nation and our world.
What did I do today that will last for eternity?
So, recently, Denise and I were heading towards Swayzee from North Marion via Troy Avenue when I saw a dead cat in the road. “That’s so sad” I thought to myself. I am a genuine animal lover and just hated to see that. In keeping with my usual well-planned life, I soon found myself back on Troy Avenue heading back towards North Marion to finish what I had forgotten to do earlier. As I passed by the same spot I noticed that the cat was not indeed dead but injured.
Now I had a problem. What to do? Many thoughts passed through my mind including simply driving past and running over the cat myself to “put it out of its misery.” Yes, I am willing to admit that was one of the options I considered. I was not looking for a project of mercy and not anxious to spend time, effort or money on this pathetic looking ball of black fur on the street. “I don’t want a cat!” I said out loud as I argued with myself about what to do. We lost our little dog, Coco last fall after 16 years and Denise and I agreed we were just fine without a pet at this time. It was just too hard to say goodbye.
But, I couldn’t just leave it there could I? I HAD to do something. Having the soft heart (soft head?) that I do, I stopped to see what was up. As I approached and was noticed by the cat it began to mew loudly while looking in my direction, seemingly as if it was thankful that I was coming. While obviously injured and dazed, it was not fearful of me and responded to my approach. It obviously wasn’t feral and seemed to really be glad to see me. I petted it a bit and sort of looked it over. It was bleeding from the mouth with a broken tooth and there was some blood on the street but not too much. The cat was able to move on his own which was a good sign so I thought there was a pretty good chance it could recover.
So, I went back to the car and found a blanket in the trunk, wrapped the critter up and took him to the nearest vet. I explained that I found this feline on the street and was hoping they could see how badly hurt it was. I was immediately informed that I would have to pay for any care that they would provide. (Groan) By now I was committed to seeing this through. I had already made my choice when I stopped. This injured and helpless animal was going to be my responsibility. I wasn’t going to “finish it off,” nor was I just going to pass it by. “Okay, I understand.” So they looked it over and thought it might not be hurt too badly. “A couple of days and we’ll know for sure.”
To the vet’s credit, when I saw the bill I knew they hadn’t charged me full price but had given me a break. I didn’t mind paying it. It was an interesting thing I noticed within myself. When I went to get cat food and such, I found that I was getting the really high quality stuff. Although not a conscious thought at first, it is as if I were saying, “Why would I go to the trouble of scraping this cat off the street only now to give it cheap care?” I wanted it to have the best. Why would I go to all the time, trouble and expense to save its life and mistreat it now? That would be just ridiculous. I might just as well have left it in the street.
I hadn’t been looking for a pet. It wasn’t meeting any need I had. I had no reason except for common decency to do anything for it. And yet I found myself having great affection for it. I had chosen to save its life and now I was so glad I did. As it turned out “it” was a “he” and a neutered male at that, certainly someone’s pet at some time though now apparently abandoned. All efforts to locate an owner were fruitless. Someone living in the area said it was common for people to abandon unwanted pets there. He was all black except for some white on his chest and four white feet. So, “Sox” came home with me and has taken up residence with Denise and I.
I notice something almost right away. He pretty much followed me wherever I went. He wanted to be right at my feet. When I was gone, he slept under my chair. I asked Denise, “Do you think he kind of ‘get’s it?’ Do you think he has any understanding what was done for him?” She and I seem to think that he does. Now, he runs to the door when I come home and greets me. (Anybody know a cat that does that?)
I couldn’t help but see many parallels between this experience and that which we have with our Savior.
The Lord didn’t have any need for us to fulfill.
We were utterly helpless, broken and in grave danger.
He chose to take full responsibility for us, carry us in His arms and pay the price for our
He gives us His best, loves us unconditionally and provides for our every need.
He loves us because He chooses to love us not because He saw in us some basic goodness
that deserved His sacrifice.
So what about me? Do I desire to be right at the feet of my Savior as Sox always wants to be at mine? Do I want His nearness, consistent nurturing and attention as Sox wants mine? Am I contented in His presence or do I tend to run after other things, possibly with a measure of gratitude only and occasional forays into surface relationship?
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
May I be wise enough to choose that good part!
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you.”
“If none of God’s saints were poor and tried, we should not know half so well the consolations of divine grace. When we find the wanderer who has not where to lay his head, who yet can say, “Still will I trust in the Lord;” when we see the pauper starving on bread and water, who still glories in Jesus; when we see the bereaved widow overwhelmed in affliction, and yet having faith in Christ, oh! What honor it reflects on the gospel. God’s grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers. Saints bear up under every discouragement, believing that all things work together for their good, and that out of apparent evils a real blessing shall ultimately spring – that their God will either work a deliverance for them speedily, or most assuredly support them in the trouble, as long as He is pleased to keep them in it. This patience of the saints proves the power of divine grace. There is a lighthouse out at sea: it is a calm night – I cannot tell whether the edifice is firm; the tempest must rage about it, and then I shall know whether it will stand. So with the Spirit’s work: if it were not on many occasions surrounded with tempestuous waters, we should not know that it was true and strong; if the winds did not blow upon it, we should not know how firm and secure it was. The master-works of God are those men who stand in the midst of difficulties, steadfast, unmovable, -
‘Calm mid the bewildering cry,
Confident of victory.’
He who would glorify his God must set his account upon meeting with many trials. No man can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts be many. If then, yours be a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will the better show forth the all-sufficient grace of God. As for His failing you, never dream of it – hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now, should be trusted to the end.”
This was written by the great preacher, D.L. Moody in the 1800s. His wise counsel resounds today no less than it did then. I have to fight the urge to become discouraged when the winds of trials blow in my life; thinking that God has abandoned me or forgetting His sweet love for me.
When I was early in the process of recovering from my open-heart surgery there were times when I felt very alone, even with Denise sleeping on the couch right next to my bed. There were times when I didn’t sense the nearness of the Lord or His comforting hand. What buoyed me on in those lonely hours wasn’t the sensing of His presence but the sheer knowledge of it. When I read “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” I choose to take God at His word. Though I may not always feel His presence I can rely on it nonetheless. He said He would be ever near, and I believe Him.
“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control. That Christ has regarded my helpless estate and has shed His own blood for my soul. It is well; it is well with my soul!”
Chas and his wife have been ministering at Liberty since 1990. He enjoys dining with family and friends as well as all types of music, sports, and outdoor activities. His greatest joy comes from connecting with others and sharing the love of Christ which is central to everything else.