Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Dig Spiritual Wells Before You Need Them

On Good Friday, I received news that I had a mass located in my bladder which could be cancerous. I saw this on my online medical portal from tests that were run the day before. Without any communication with my doctor, that's all the information I had. Needless to say, Easter was an interesting day for me. Our church was excited. This is Super Bowl Sunday for churches, and we had one of the largest Easter attendance in several years. We worked hard encouraging people to bring guests - and they did. My heart was thrilled with the response. At the same time, Esther's and my mind was racing with concerns about my health. In one moment during our worship time, the thought came to me, "This could be the last Easter message I get to preach." Those of you who had a doctor use the word "cancer"understand some of my thoughts. It's one thing to talk to others who are going through it, it is another when it is in reference to yourself.

The next Monday, I had a chance to talk to my doctor. His voice was concerning and compassionate. He referred me to a surgeon who fit me in the next day, after performing another test he confirmed quickly the mass was a tumor. Here is one thing you never want your urologist to say, "You and I are about to become friends." He informed me that this kind of tumor is one that has a high probability of returning. I don't want to overstate my issue, because there  are so many others walking through more traumatic health concerns, but I do want to be honest and say this made a significant impact on me. I walked out of his office, called Esther, and we wept together.

The surgeon worked hard to rearrange his schedule and I had surgery the next day. Thankfully, he was able to remove the whole tumor and the waiting for the pathology report would be the next stage in the process. I would spend the next couple of days on pain medication, which means I visited LaLa Land many times.

Some people say, and I am guilty as well, that God uses these times in life to slow us down so we can spend time with Him in prayer and reading His word. That was not the case for me. I spent my time sleeping or watching mindless television. I could not think clearly about anything. When I tried to read, I lasted through one sentence before my eyes glazed over and I was in LaLa Land again. When I tried to pray, I was consumed with my own issues - which was not helpful.

After a few days, I was able to focus enough to put a few things in perspective. Here is the biggest lesson for me: dig spiritual and relational wells before you need to draw from them, because, trust me, you will one day need them.

Even though I did not have the strength to study, read, or pray, I experienced the presence of Jesus and his grace. It was like drawing spiritual water from the wells that were dug in my past. I couldn't read the scripture, but the scriptures were very alive in me. I couldn't pray, but His presence surrounded me. I had a level of trust in God that I didn't know existed. I couldn't reach out to others, but so many reached out to me through cards, emails, texts, and phone calls. I couldn't lead the church, but my team knew what to do.

I preach all the time about creating space for God though prayer, scripture, and relationships. When you do this, you are digging spiritual wells; wells that you will one day need to draw from.
When you care for your soul, one day your soul will care for you.

I have now learned that my tumor was a T1 carcinoma. From what the doctor explained, it is the second lowest grade, and for this I give thanks. My biggest issue is going to be ongoing testing in case it comes back.

Here are some points I hope you get from this:
  1. Create space for spiritual growth though studying God's word, participating in worship with your church, and joining a small group. Stop making excuses as to why you can't. Develop and nurture your relationship with Jesus.
  2. Fix relationships before a crisis so you are not suffering alone. Your life is too short to hold grudges and unforgiveness. 
  3. Thank God for every day and small things. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so be thankful for today.
  4. Invest in your friends, family, and church. They are way more important than worldly wealth. 
May the Lord bless you as you live for Him. 

Filled with Thanks,
Keith


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Going Public


In March, I was more than excited to baptize Sean and Dana. These men took the next step in following Jesus: making it public. Each of their stories is unique, but both speak to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. This is why we do what we do. We share the message of Jesus and He changes lives.


It is my prayer that in 2017, we will see MANY people become followers of Jesus and take the next step by making it public