What to say to a sick man?

This is Part 2 of a 5 part series. Read the introduction here.

Read Part 1 “Who are the Majestic Ones?” here.

Here’s something practical, down-to-earth, and just plain helpful. ” What to say to a sick man?” This can be important for evangelism too.

Nearly everyone wants to help, but how? Most of us struggle to find words when we meet someone who is sick or going through a crisis. I admit that up until now my most common response has been to say, “I’m sorry.”  I was doing my best to empathize with the hurting. But since I got cancer I’ve discovered that to say, “I’m sorry” doesn’t help much. It just leaves me in my condition. What I need is hope and lots of it! I found that any attempt at hope, even suggestions for crazy alternative therapies, offers some hope.

Teachings don’t help much either. Sick men don’t need teaching; we need faith.

What should a person say to a sick guy? The best response I found is for someone to come along side, listen and humbly ask, “What can I do to help?” Who knows? Maybe the need is a ride? Or meals for the family? Or help to change a light bulb?

Flynn is a young and single father whose daughter Riley had a dramatic bout with a cancerous brain tumor. Riley survived the surgery with eighty-eight stitches in her head. Flynn mentioned something I had recently taught the church. “I really appreciated what you taught the other day. You said, “Don’t say, ‘I’m sorry’ to people who are hurting. That doesn’t help. What we need is encouragement, not sympathy.”

Think about it. “What can I do to help?” or “How can I help you?” These questions show humility on our part. No need to guess or assume what someone else needs. These questions place the sick man in the driver’s seat. They show respect to the sick. They empower the person who’s hurting and allow him or her to express his own needs. And who knows better than anyone what’s the need of the moment than the sick man himself?

 

Who Are the Majestic Ones? (Part 1 of 5-part Series)

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5 Life-changing Lessons I learned as a Cancer Patient

Click here to read the introduction “You Have Cancer!”

My wife, Kari, and some of our children stood on either side of me as I announced to our church that I had cancer. When we sat down, the entire church immediately gathered around us and started ministering to us in faith and prayer. They didn’t hesitate one bit. One lady, Sherry, who is herself a cancer survivor, announced with unmitigated faith and passion, “Christ is a big “C”; cancer is a little “c”! There I was, a broken man, and the whole church was standing as one in staunch faith and love.

Who are the majestic ones? “As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight” (Psalm 16). The church of the Living Water has stood by me like an immoveable rock throughout the duration of my chemotherapy treatments. If I didn’t know it before (and I did) I know it now—the saints of God, the church, are the majestic ones in all the earth.

My wife and family, each and every son and daughter, are giving me unwavering assistance throughout this trial. They are majestic in my eyes.

My fellow pastors in Muscatine have rallied to my benefit. God has heard prayers from the pulpits of nearly every church in town. Baptist, Methodist, Vineyard, non-denominational, and so on, they have all prayed for me. These are a majestic band of brothers.

“A brother in need is a brother indeed.” The aphorism is true. Crisis reveals our true friends. Nor should anyone be surprised that Christian people are salient in the mercy department. Every believer in Jesus Christ has received His mercy. It’s only natural that we pass it on.

It’s common in some quarters to criticize the church in America. Yet when the chips are down, who is the greatest support group anywhere? Unbelievers need to know there is an assembly of “Good Samaritans” ready and willing to help in time of need. God bless the church!

5 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned as a Cancer Patient

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“You Have Cancer!” (Introduction to 5 Life-changing Lessons I Learned from Cancer)

Who Are the Majestic Ones? (Part 1)

What to Say to a Sick Man (Part 2)

Love Doesn’t Let Anyone Go to Hell (Part 3)

Why Teach Kids Memory Verses (Part 4)

Loving God (Part 5)

 “You Have Cancer”

 

The doctor was firm but gentle when he spoke to me the fateful words, “Your lungs are filled with cancer.” He went on to say this particular cancer was inoperable. Of course, I was shocked; we all were.

As a pastor and counselor, I knew the first stage of grief is denial. Well, I was in denial for some days. I couldn’t believe I had cancer. (After all, I was chopping wood and riding bicycle. I could ride up hills just as well as some of my adult children!) Dr. G., who first discovered the abnormality in my lungs from a CAT scan, had quizzed me in a way that should have prepared me for the dire diagnosis.

“Do you smoke?’

“No!”

Have you ever smoked?”

No.”

“Have you been around a lot of second hand smoke?”

“No.”

“Well, cancer has its own mind. Some people who smoke all their lives don’t get it and some people who never smoke do get it. I’m sending you to a cancer specialist.”

Following exploratory surgery, the cancer specialist later ameliorated his grim diagnosis to something happier. “You have lymphoma which has settled in your lungs. This is very unusual.” He went on to say that lymphoma is treatable and the survival rate is greater than for lung cancer.

If need be, I’m ready to die. I have received Jesus Christ as my Savior from the guilt of my sin. According to God’s Word, I am secure in His love and forgiveness and will be with Him when I die. In the meantime, I will try to beat this thing by the power of God and the prayers of His people. That’s my confidence in God and His Word. If I do die, I don’t want to die of cancer. I believe if someone is going to die, they should die healthy!

I have endured six chemo-therapy treatments. I don’t wish these treatments on anybody, but I realize God has used chemo to save my life, at least temporarily. Without treatment I would be a “goner” by now. Instead, I’m gaining strength and feeling better week by week. Praise God!

There’s got to be a reason for all this suffering. May I share 5 life-changing lessons I’ve already learned as a cancer patient? Blogs in this series “5 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned as a Cancer Patient” tell the stories.

18 Murders in Iowa on One Day

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On April 5, 2011 18 murders were committed in Iowa.  All took place at 2751 Tech Dr., Bettendorf, IA 52722.  The murders were done systematically, one at a time.  Records were kept of who did it, but none of the individuals involved have been charged.  All the victims were children, which makes these murders in Iowa even more egregious.

Who were the perpetrators of these ghastly events?  The Planned Parenthood doctors and staff performed the actual killings.

But wait. . .to tell it like it is, you and I were responsible, at least in part.  We have not sufficiently mourned over the killing of infants this close to our homes.

There’s a parallel recorded in the ninth chapter of Ezekiel in in the Bible.  The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city. . . and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” (Ezekiel 9:4)  It turns out  those who grieved over the terrible acts of that day were marked with the sign of a tau, a Hebrew letter written like a cross at that time.  Those who got the mark were spared from death; the others not.

Killing of innocent children is our present day abomination.

We, “good people” all, were accessories to these murders because we have not mourned sufficiently.  We have also voted for such men as Dave Loebsack, Bruce Braley, and US Senator Tom Harkin.  Loebsack represents Iowa’s Second District and Bruce Braley, Iowa’s First District. These elected officials repeatedly use their legislative powers to promote the culture of death in our state and in our nation.  They justify murder by hiding behind the “reproductive ‘rights’ of women.”  We, the “good citizens” of America, have also elected a president who is so callous that he voted to withhold life-saving nutrition from children who survived botched abortions.

A Spirit-filled person stands for life!  The Bible says, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (Acts 1:8)  The power of God’s love is growing in the nation.  Seventy-one percent (71%) of Americans now oppose tax-funded abortion.  We are winning, but the battle rages.  The Spirit-filled life evinces grief over sin and love toward the enemies of life.  The Spirit energizes those He fills to stand for life, lobby for life, and produce life in our own marriages and families.

There’s blood on our doorstep. But thank God, the Spirit is moving in our land.  How long the blood stains remain depends in part on you and me.

Thinking About the Unthinkable

 

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 Can any hope emerge from the November 30, 2012 Sandy Hook massacre?

I’ve waited over a month before writing about the tragedy for several reasons. It’s too painful to think about. It’s like rock shattering a pane glass window: The damage is sudden, dramatic and irreparable. Further, so many others have written either adequately or eloquently about the event.  What more can be said?

Yet I have something to say about the Sandy Hook shooting, something no one else has said, at least as far as I know. And another reason I am motivated to comment: I have recently been diagnosed with cancer. For others, death may seem distant or abstract. For me, death is personal. It came knocking at my door. Fortunately, I did not let it in.

My grief goes out to the dads and mothers, the brothers and sisters of the 26 victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. My grief extends particularly to Adam Lanza’s family. Life will never be the same for them or any of the other families who met death that day. With all America and much of the world, I’m sad.

Is there hope anywhere? What can God or anyone do to repair the shattered glass of our American dream?

I hope no one of the victim’s families reads this article. This is neither about them nor for them. This is about us, the 330 million Americans who did not lose anyone that tragic day.

An Even Greater Tragedy

Many individuals and businesses and government entities have flown flags at half mast to show sympathy and solidarity with the families of the lost children and adults. This is commendable. Still, there is a greater tragedy. On the day that 26 lives were eliminated at the school, approximately 3,425 other children were snuffed out, never to see the light of day. The 3,425 were massacred in abortion clinics all across America. Should we fly flags at half mast for them?

To show the magnitude of the disaster, note one “i” for each of the 20 children plus 6 adults: iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. I’m reluctant to do this, but we need the perspective.  What do 3,425 “i’s” look like?

Here’s 100: iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

And if I counted correctly, here is another 100:

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And now for a total of 300:

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One more hundred makes 400:

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Now picture the 3000:

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When we add 25 more—iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii—almost the same number killed at Sandy Hook– we have the average number of children eliminated from life in the United States each day through the atrocity of abortion. The main difference between the school shooting and the abortion killing is the age of the children. Other differences are the complicity of the mother and the profit motive of the abortionist. But the result is the same: An innocent child’s life is forever and violently snuffed out against his or her own choice.

There is hope. According to a Gallup poll released May15, 2012, “The 41% of Americans who now identify themselves as “pro-choice” is down from 47% last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009. Fifty percent now call themselves “pro-life,” one point shy of the record high, also from May 2009.”

Can the unthinkable event of Sandy Hook on one day cause us to realize an even greater unthinkable event repeats itself every day in our country?

Postscript. When I speak about the tragedy of abortion, I find the need to include another word—forgiveness. Abortion kills infants and hurts women and fathers. For every act of abortion, there is an act of forgiveness. Jesus Christ died to bring forgiveness to every person who has chosen or allowed abortion. “Come to Me, all you who are . . . heavy laden. I will give you rest.”

He is the Great Hope-Bringer.

GOD IS (NOT) MY BUDDY

Alaska is big. It is really, really big.  I mean no offence to my friends in Texas but y’all need to come up with a new slogan. Our God is like this. God is so big that we have to use caricatures to simplify Him, so that we can explain and understand Him. The scale of God is indescribable.
–JD Blom

Read this post: GOD IS (NOT) MY BUDDY

Hooray for President Obama

“Libya may not be in America’s vital interest, but it is in America’s values.”  Well spoken, Mr President.  All Americans should unite behind our president when he does what is right.

The president led us into Libya to prevent a bloodbath.  He claimed perhaps tens of thousands of innocent lives have been saved from cruel atrocities under his leadership.  (At this point I  am not addressing the president’s motives or the constitutional questions; only that he took decisive action.)

Now, Mr. President, do the same in America.  Tens of thousands of innocent civilians are being subjected to cruel atrocity and death by abortion every month.  You claimed it took only 31 days to bring together the coalition to bomb Libya.  In that same 31 days 93,000 babies were murdered in the US using medical procedures.

Your leadership proved instrumental in stopping a bloodbath in Africa.  Now lead the way to stop our bloodbath at home.

How Can We Know if We Love God?

Praying in tongues generally results in greater love for God.  If you doubt it, ask a tongues-speaker!

So how does anyone know if he loves God or not?   I used to question myself about this a lot.  Surprisingly, there is a non-subjective test to help us find out if we love God.   Jesus said in John 14:21, “If you love Me, you will keep My word.” That’s plain enough.  Yet to emphasize the matter, Jesus followed up, “He who does not love Me does not keep my words.” (John 14:24)

The matter seems important to Jesus.  He keeps on topic. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

Since Jesus used the term “keep” in all 3 sentences, it’s worthwhile to check out the meaning.  The Greek word is tnreo in verb form.  It means to attend to carefully, to take care of; to guard, to observe, to watch over; to preserve.  It suggests a present possession or ownership of something. In other words, to keep God’s word means we are really doing what the Bible says, not just reading it.

This  raises the question, “Are we having a regular (daily) time with Jesus in God’s Word (the Bible)?  To keep his word means to guard our attitude toward the word and attend to it.  It means to store up the word and value or treasure it.  In earlier times, homes and shops had a “keep” or lock-box for valuables.  Are we “keeping” God’s word in our hearts, minds and mouths?

Speaking in tongues keeps us filled with the Holy Spirit.  Tongues release an inner warmth, an intimacy with God that feels good.   On the other hand, obedience to God’s instruction is outward and objective.  Both the Word and the Spirit help us to love God .  Knowing we love Him gives confidence.

OK, God lovers–Sound off!  How do you know that you love Him?

Nine Things the Bible Says about the Environment

The Bible speaks hundreds of times about the earth.  Those who understand the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the world’s greatest environmentalists.  Care for the environment is a Christian issue

1)      God created the earth and the heavens.  (Genesis 1:1)  The earth is His “baby” so to speak, and exists only because of His will and pleasure. (Revelation 4:11 KJV)

2)      The earth belongs to God.  The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.  ( Psalm 24:1)  All the rights of ownership belong to Him.

3)      God commands humans to take care of His earth.  (Genesis 1:28)  Dominion means “to take charge of, to rule over.”  Here He delegates His ownership to humans and makes us responsible to protect and care for the earth.  By this He mandates some of us to become chemists, biologists, geologists, agronomists, farmers, etc.

4)      God made a covenant with the animals.  (Genesis 9:8-17)  Among other things, the rainbow is a sign of God’s commitment to care for animals of the earth.

5)      The earth is vitally important to God and His purposes.  (Romans 1:19-20)  God values creation.  Visible creation reveals the invisible God.  Everyone who claims, “I see God in nature,” knows this.  But God’s purpose in nature is greater than a good feeling or general revelation.  His attributes, namely His “eternal power and divine nature” are “clearly seen” and “understood” through the created world.  As a result, nature has an evangelistic purpose: to reveal God Himself.  This environmental witness in nature is so strong that those who deny God’s self-revelation come under divine judgment:  “So they are without excuse.”

6)      God will destroy those who destroy the earth.  (Revelation 11:18)  No clearer statement of God’s care for the environment can be made.

7)      The Bible guards against environmental extremes.  Animal sacrifices and the eating of meat were enjoined.  The tabernacle was covered with animal skins.  Gold and precious stones will be part of the New Jerusalem.  Natural things are to be used, not avoided.  The myth of overpopulation is commonly based on “saving the environment.  But the God of the Bible commands, “Be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”  (Genesis 9:7)

8)      The earth will be destroyed.  This present earth is not eternal.  (2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 16:3)

9)      The earth will be redeemed.  God’s plan includes restoration of planet earth and all the heavens.  (Revelation 21:1 and 5; Romans 8:21)

What does the Bible tell us about environmentalism?  In short, color your Bible cover green–God is the Chief Environmentalist of the Universe.

Nine Things the Bible Says about the Environment

The Bible speaks hundreds of times about the earth and environmental issues.  This is a Christian issue and the church should own it.  Those who understand and obey the Old and New Testaments are the world’s greatest environmentalists.

1)      God created the earth and the heavens.  (Genesis 1:1)  The earth is His “baby” so to speak, and exists only because of His will and pleasure. (Revelation 4:11 KJV)

2)      The earth belongs to God.  The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.  ( Psalm 24:1)  All the rights of ownership belong to Him.

3)      God commands humans to take care of His earth.  (Genesis 1:28)  Dominion means “to take charge of, to rule over.”  Here He delegates His ownership to humans and makes us responsible to protect and care for the earth.  He mandates some of us to become chemists, biologists, geologists, agronomists, farmers, etc.

4)      God made a covenant with the animals.  (Genesis 9:8-17)  Among other things, the rainbow is a sign of God’s commitment to care for animals of the earth.

5)      The earth is vitally important to God and His purposes.  (Romans 1:19-20)  God values creation.  .  Everyone who claims, “I see God in nature,” knows visible creation reveals the invisible God.  But God’s purpose in nature is greater than a good feeling or general revelation.  His attributes, namely His “eternal power and divine nature” are “clearly seen” and “understood” through the created world.  As a result, nature has an evangelistic purpose: to reveal God Himself.  This environmental witness in nature is so strong that those who deny God’s self-revelation come under divine judgment:  “So they are without excuse.”

6)      God will destroy those who destroy the earth.  (Revelation 11:18)  No clearer statement of God’s care for the environment can be made.

7)      The Bible guards against environmental extremes.  Animal sacrifices and the eating of meat were enjoined.  The tabernacle was covered with animal skins.  Gold and precious stones will be part of the New Jerusalem.  Natural things are to be used, not avoided.

8)      The earth will be destroyed.  This present earth is not eternal.  (2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 16:3)

9)      The earth will be redeemed.  God’s plan includes restoration of planet earth and all the heavens.  (Revelation 21:1 and 5; Romans 8:21)

What does the Bible tell us about environmentalism?  In short, color your Bible cover green–God is the Chief Environmentalist of the Universe.