Easter Sunday … For the First Time

Can’t remember how many times I have blown off Easter Sunday and Church services in the past while still professing to be a believer. Amazing how far away we can fall from our savior’s grace to the point of ignoring God and the most profound part of the scripture … the resurrection!  My sins were forgiven on that cross that Jesus died on and when Jesus rose on the third day he came to set up homes in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. That home in my heart for Jesus has been abandon and foreclosed on many times in my life by me and me alone … but not any more. I have refurbished and reshaped it for him to come back in and live inside me and to now shape my life to his will. I may take a step back along the journey but I vow to take more steps forward than backwards pursuing him and making my life worthy by giving it away to others the way he gave his life for me. By doing so may he know how much I love him and may what I do bring glory to him alone. May I know and love him more each day so strangers we will be no more.

The Bad and The Good

What of the bad things we do in our lives. Why did I want to go there? What purpose did it serve? Weakness abounds in my mind. I’m of two minds about this as they say. Two conflicting minds that collide inside of one when it happens. The collision is between God and Sin in my mind but it plays out in my life like a script. The collision confounds and confuses my inter most being and it’s difficult to absorb the full meaning of it but I’ve never tried to understand it before … until now. Not a good feeling … but a good feeling turned sour by God so as to convict my actions. Actions that takes me away from God and into something I don’t really need or that benefits my life in any way. Although my mind strongly disagrees. It seems to only create distance between me and God. It’s like I’m moving away from God by intentionally placing something in-between us. God is not moving but I’m wedging myself away with it in my life. Again the weakness. Again I squirm in the act of sin.

What of the good things we do in our lives? … those too get scrutinized … or should. It isn’t always the bad things we do in our lives that separates us from God’s love but the good ones that we elevate to loving to much and by doing so they become a sin of misplaced love. We love some things so much we can’t get enough of them and we do them all the time out of the sheer pleasure they bring us not God. But atlas we love them so much because we love to please ourselves. Too much of a good thing and we start loving it more than God. It becomes and idol in our lives to be worshipped and another tool whose purpose is separation from God. It gets in the way of our spiritual growth the same way sin does … slowly wedging us apart from the right path and the right one. Not only the bad must be pruned from our lives but also the good when it becomes rotten.

Mar 28′ 2013

Long story but it seems Vanderbilt Pathology Department and Quest labs are having a go at each other at my expense. There was some miss communication and miss handling of my biopsy between the two labs and a lot of finger pointing. Bottom line nothing has been sent to John Hopkins as of this date. Almost 3 weeks wasted waiting. They now think they have it straighten out and once again I’m being told my biopsy will be sent to John Hopkins next week. I think God is teaching me patience. What a mess! I wish someone would get their act together and do their job.

The Familiar Place

Fell down today. Been awhile since I’ve been at this familiar place. Can’t say it feels any different than it always has in the past. Change takes time and true change is going to take even longer. There is a difference however … a disturbance in the forces of my life.

Hope … that’s what it is. I feel hope. Hope for a better me. Even in this familiar place where it’s never spoken of I have hope this time things will be different … better … right … righteous even. There’s a path that actually leads somewhere. Not a road to ride that never ends.

I’ve become a fully functional Christian sinner again and I’m not happy about that … At the same time I feel like I might possibly be growing in my faith for the first time in my life. That’s the hope. That’s the goal. That’s the prize but today I fell. It hurts when you fall. That’s what’s suppose to happen. Maybe you won’t do it again or at the least you won’t do it as often or your HOPE is that you will never do it again. Father please convict me when I fall. Make it unpleasant. Make it uncomfortable. Make me stronger next time and the next until it is no more.

I can’t drag myself from the familiar place easily. I thought I could do it all at once but I can’t. I’m not expected to … although that’s what I thought. I set myself up for failure. One has to want help with a problem before one is willing to ask for it. Of course, he’s waiting patiently and shaping me waiting for me to ask honestly but I can’t do it yet for some reason. He knows my condition, the methods I keep and all my excuses. His … is a new way to live with no old habits allowed … so much tougher but so much better for me in so many ways that I can’t appreciate from the familiar place. It’s a do over until you get it right. Ask in Jesus name and it shall be given. My gracious God drag me away from this familiar place and help me to get it right.

Satan and Rationalization

The Human Mind  – in particular our ability to rationalize is such a dangerous thing when it comes to sinning. All sin begins here in one form or another and it’s here in the depths of our frontal lobe where Satan does his best work and plants his seeds of doubt about what we should and should not be doing. Satan is a master at helping us rationalize just about any decision our simple trusting loving hearts can conjure up that we think we want or desire to do. Must be why the saying “Idle hands are the Devils workshop” rings so true because a mind turned loose to it’s own devices … idle … without focus on God, will eventually lead you to justify any behavior no matter how repulsive to God it might be.

Just like in the Garden of Eden thousands of years ago Satan planted and watered each wayward thought seed of Man and Woman and caused them to bend and think his way by rationalizing the eating of the forbidden fruit and pretty soon we were all well down the road to destruction before we knew what hit us. Today it is even easier for Satan to lead us astray this way. He has so much more ammunition in todays culture. I fight the battle daily but the minute I slow down for a second he’s right there tempting me back into my old life style and habits. Using my own mind against me to say surely it’s ok. Placing doubt where no doubt existed even a minute earlier.

To stay with the positive changes I have made in my life over the last couple of months has never been more difficult than it is right at this very moment. Sadly, I’m beginning to understand it will always be this way for the rest of my life. God knows that I can’t be perfectly holy all the time and that my nature is to sin. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. I’m always going to be a sinner … true … but I don’t want to use that as an excuse to sin. By doing so I’m rationalizing a bad behavior I want in a most perverted way. Using the fact that I know I’m always going to fall short and stumble as a reason to go ahead any way and do it can only be thinking coming from Satan and should be rejected. Much easier said than done. The battle continues and it is a daily one that I often lose.

Many people take an entire life to truly change there lives, others change when they have a great trial in their life and  yet still others, a select few, can change simply by learning and accepting the truth when they hear it. However, all are tempted daily. All sin daily. When Jesus returns and our lives are judged who then can go to heaven? Are my sins worst than my brothers or sisters in Christ? Surely a sin is a sin is a sin. There is no gray area to negotiate which sin is worst than another. If we all fight the battle in our mind daily and some succeed better than others in rooting sin out of our lives then won’t God have to make a distinction in regards to the sins we are still committing when he returns?

I hope the tie breaker is the heart but the heart is flawed as well. God knows the heart of all and if we truly love God and show love to others more than anything else in this world and keep the faith by battling our rational mind when it becomes irrational surely our hearts will be judged purer at some point with our minds in tow as we become more Christ like on our journey to become more spiritually mature. When our mind tries to rationalize our sinful behavior and our hearts are harden to change we must continue to resist as best we can. We can at least say we have fought hard against Satan’s efforts to lead us astray. Although we stumble may we never fall and not get back up and look back up for assurance the path is still there for us to get back on it. As the Apostle Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” That is my goal … daily.

God and the Treadmill

Seems like and odd couple if there ever was one. Nevertheless there are some interesting comparisons and lessons to be had if we take a closer look. I’m not big into exercising everyday but I am slowly beginning to develop an appreciation for a daily exercise routine that requires I spend about 20 minutes on the dreaded machine every morning. Yes … I know it’s good for a person to exercise their body daily but I’ve resisted it for so long it felt more natural not to, besides it makes a great place to hang dirty clothes on from time to time. However, now I feel I’ve progressed past that point and decided instead to use it for what it was purposed for. In many ways it’s kind of like God in my life. I know I need him daily in my life to guide me, exercise my faith and grow spiritually but I’ve resisted him for so long it seemed more natural to go without or only check in occasionally. I certainly never ever even seriously considered hanging anything on God totally opting instead to wear the burdens of life myself doing it all my way.

So here I am chugging away on the Treadmill wondering if there’s is anyway possible I’m going to be able to make it through the programed level. You know those pre-program levels they come with that you start with the easiest, level 1, and then you gradually work your way up to the higher and more difficult levels where you should look like Charles Atlas when you finish. Unfortunately, that only happens by staying on the pre-programed course and speeds and slowly building up your stamina as you work through the levels in hopes of someday being able to see your stomach abs again.  Course I’m new at this so I’m on the easiest and lowest level but eventually I master level 1,  and decide to jump to level 2. As I venture into unknown exercise territory of level 2 I can’t help but wonder what the experts back at Nordictrack have decided what is the appropriate speeds to torture my body with on this new level to get me in shape. I know it must be good for me but as I trod along, longly gazing at the time left, the speed numbered buttons along the right side of the machine start looking awful tempting. Thankfully the experts at Nordictrack have gone to great lengths to provide me with all the choices I need and allow me the free will to modify the speed of the level I’m on at any time. Thank you Nordictrack! Finally the temptation is too much and I succumb and reach out and touch the magic button that provides immediate relief to my aching body although any thoughts of looking like Charles Atlas will certainly have to wait as I make this slight detour on to easy street for this workout. I finish my workout dejected that I was unable to stay the course with the programed level that would eventually have taken me to my goal. Guess I can always try again tomorrow … certainly the treadmill won’t be any worse for wear.

As I sat down and began to cool down from my exhaustive workout I couldn’t help but wonder how much more so is God like the experts at Nordictrack? He knows exactly what I need in my life to get me in spiritual shape and bring me into his Church family of fit and well equipped loving men and women of Christ. He knows it will take time and a dedicated march towards a desired goal with increasing difficulty. He knows and provides all the tools necessary for that purpose i.e. Bible, Church  and an endless supply of difficult people in our lives for us to practice and learn how to love. He breaths life into us each new day to give us yet another chance to get it right and practice getting in spiritual shape waiting patiently for us to take just a brief moment out of our day to gaze upward and give thanks and to say I love you. But most of all he gave us free will. The killer app for us to allow sin in our lives OR the must have app for accepting the saving grace of a loving Father in Heaven. The remarkable ability to choose on our own when to push those buttons in our lives that causes us to sin and or take the easier route through life rather than the one we know will lead to the spiritual Charles Atlas and eternal life. I thought to myself how many times I had pushed those buttons in my life overriding what God wanted for me and I wept. Why is it so difficult to stay the course in life and do what is right and good for me? In Romans 7:15 the Apostle Paul laments  “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I’m with you Paul.

The good news is that the rewards are greatest when we trust God the most. I’m pushing less of those button in my life these days and trusting God more and more. I’m not sure If I’ll ever stop tinkering with all of them buttons and messing up the Master’s plan but God has noticed I’m tweaking things a lot less and staying with his ever increasing and abundant plan for my life. I know I’ll never be perfect since our nature will always be to sin but trusting and having faith in the Lord, even just a little causes major changes in your life. I have only to reexamine the last few months of my life to know this truth. God rewards even the most minute movement toward him in faith in our lives to show us the way to trusting him more and more with what’s best for us. Now if I could only just trust those guys at Nordictrack 🙂

Mar 14th’ 2013

About a month gap here and there’s been some incredible changes in my life. I’ve taken a hard look at my life during the past month and I’ve given up on controlling it myself. I’ve dedicated my life to God and have started to make the hard choices in my life to prune away the bad things I do (yes we all sin). I even examined what I consider the good things in my life (motorcycle riding) that I do way too much of evaluating how it ranked in my life. Bible says in Luke 12:34 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. My hearts been in the wrong place for way too long. I won’t change over night but now the one that can change me and order things in my life correctly is running the show.

After a couple of weeks visiting my daughter, Jessica, and my grandson Travis in South Dakota we headed back home to Tennessee in order to arrive home prior to my surgery consultation coming up on March 8th. My appointment day with the Surgeon at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville had finally arrived. As I sat in the office awaiting for the surgeon to enter the room I was wondering when or how soon I could get it scheduled. My fears were quickly shifting to the hazards of surgery and the after affect it might cause and not so much the cancer as before. I had done extensive research and reading on the subject of Prostate Cancer and felt I knew just about what every possible out come could be. Most were positive but there were also the undesirable ones that do happen to a few men. Of course my crazy mind always gravitates to the negative. 

As he enter the room and sits down we begin our discussion. To my amazement the first thing out of his mouth is that the Pathology Department at Vanderbilt looked at my samples from my biopsy and concluded that it wasn’t cancerous. They saw what the other lab (Quests Lab) saw that they were calling cancer but their conclusion was quite different. It turns out it was a very small percentage of the samples that were in question and they thought if it was cancer it was in the very earliest stages. He said he’s going to forward my biopsy samples to John Hopkins Hospital Pathology department in Maryland and get another opinion. They will make the final determination. I was in disbelief …. How could this be? Of course there is also a sampling error that has to be taken into consideration as well. Even with 12 samples from both sides of my prostate it is still possible they were hitting all around the cancer. Nevertheless this was the most incredible news to me and was very encouraging to know we weren’t going to be rushing into surgery right away. He said it would take about 2 weeks to hear back from John Hopkins and based on what their evaluation was we would either determine to either proceed with surgery or just go into a “watch and wait” and have another biopsy of my prostate done in a few months.

I’m so encouraged by this news and I am still waiting to hear back. Other good news is that if it turns out I do need surgery this surgeon, Joseph Smith at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, has performed over 4,000 prostrate surgeries … I had to ask him twice to make sure I heard him correctly. That’s way more than the majority of surgeons out there so I’ll be in good hands for sure if surgery is needed