Spiritual Cancer

VUMC

Greetings Fellow Sojourner!

I recently had thyroid cancer surgery. The process began because my doctor noticed my thyroid was swollen during a yearly physical exam, but instead of keeping this observation to himself, he shared it with me, which led to an ultrasound, biopsy and then surgery.

“You have thyroid cancer.”

His statement did not cause feelings of joy, happiness, contentment, or warm fuzziness, quite the opposite, I felt uncomfortable, uncertain, unhappy. Honestly I did not like his statement, it made me feel bad about myself. I would classify it as hate speech! No one should be allowed to say anything that offends another or makes them feel uncomfortable now matter how well meaning or good their intentions.

There are some that may agree with this viewpoint but there are those with common sense that would say he potentially saved my life. How could someone think that a doctor telling a patient he has cancer is wrong? While a doctor may be required to speak up, what about me? I’m not a doctor but I now know the symptoms of thyroid cancer and I know where the thyroid gland is in the neck and I know where to look for swelling. Should I speak up?(though I can only speak with a whisper at the moment) If I notice someone constantly clearing their throat and see swelling in their lower throat area, should I talk to them about a possible hidden danger or should I mind my own business? Is it loving to allow someone to die of cancer when you might be able to help?

As serious as cancer is there is something that is a greater threat to people, it is called sin. I’m not a preacher but I am a Christian, perhaps that makes me more of a preacher than having cancer makes me a doctor but if I notice someone with the symptoms of spiritual cancer, do I not have a responsibility to speak up, to make them aware of the danger as well as the only cure? Is it loving to allow someone to die and receive eternal judgement in hell because current public opinion says I should keep my Christian beliefs to myself?

Matthew 10:28 (KJV)

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.

At no point has my doctors scolded, chastised, threatened, belittled, blamed or condemned me for having cancer, they are doing their best to help me remove it from my body. Likewise I should treat anyone to which I am attempting to help with spiritual cancer in their lives.

God Bless! Continue reading

What is Love?

what-is-love

How would you describe love? Is it a feeling? Is it an emotion? Is it some mystical force that you have no control over?

Is there a limit to the amount of love you have available?I have three children but if we had a fourth would I have as much love available to express to the fourth child or would I have to take some love away from the other three to share with the fourth?

If you can fall in love, what is required for you to climb back out? Do you love bacon as much as puppies, long walks on the beach, sunsets, reading books, hanging out with friends and family, chocolate or coffee? What do you love? Who do you love? Can you choose to love or not love?

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Has your love matured or do you still act like a child? Do you love your spouse unconditionally putting their needs ahead of your own or do you keep records of wrong, dwelling on past hurts, frustrations and aggravations? Are you patient and kind with your children when they act immaturely? Are you happy when misfortune strikes those you dislike? Have you given up on a sibling because of repeated past failures and poor decisions?

Perhaps you’ve been hurt in the past by someone you love and have put up barriers to protect yourself from experiencing that pain again, so you limit your love toward others, keeping them at an arms length not allowing anyone to get too close.

The only thing worse than being hurt by someone you love deeply is not loving anyone deeply enough to be hurt.

1 Peter 4:8 (CEV)

  8 Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins.

Romans 5:8 (CEV)

  8 But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.

1 Corinthians 13:8 (CEV)

  8 Love never fails!…

If love never fails, then you’re unstoppable when you are loving. The only limit to love is that which you place upon it. 

~God Bless!

Love and Respect – the missing ingredients?

Dearly beloved we are gathered here today in the sight of God and this company to join this man and this woman in the bonds of holy matrimony…

marriage-rings

Do you remember your wedding day? Were you excited? nervous? afraid or apprehensive?  Do you remember how beautiful your wife looked walking down the isle? How handsome your husband looked in his tux?

Do you remember your vows?

“Jason, wilt thou have Tresha to be thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?”

“Tresha, wilt thou have Jason to be thy wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honor and keep him, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, and, forsaking all others, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?”

Now fast forward a year, 7 years, 20 years, do you still feel the same as you did on your wedding day? Why or why not? Are you more in love or less? There’s probably been some richer and poorer(especially if you have kids), there’s been some sickness, there’s been some challenges along the way. Husbands have you been keeping your vows? Loving, honoring, comforting… Wives how are you doing loving, honoring, respecting(obeying and serving)?

Ephesians 5:
21 Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body. 24 And so wives must submit themselves completely to their husbands just as the church submits itself to Christ.

25 Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. 26 He did this to dedicate the church to God by his word, after making it clean by washing it in water, 27 in order to present the church to himself in all its beauty—pure and faultless, without spot or wrinkle or any other imperfection. 28 Men ought to love their wives just as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself. (29 None of us ever hate our own bodies. Instead, we feed them, and take care of them, just as Christ does the church; 30 for we are members of his body.) 31 As the scripture says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.” 32 There is a deep secret truth revealed in this scripture, which I understand as applying to Christ and the church. 33 But it also applies to you: every husband must love his wife as himself, and every wife must respect her husband. (GNT)

SpicesLove and Respect, the two most important ingredients to a successful marriage. Are you showing your spouse love and respect? If not, why not? You might say they don’t deserve it or they haven’t earned it, or they aren’t treating you the way you want to be treated, etc…. Stop the insanity cycle and treat them with love and respect because God has said to do so, you may just be surprised they were feeling the same way about you and start treating you differently as well.

~God Bless!

5 Star Recruit (The Essential Christian)

What makes a  player a 5 star recruit in college football? One that is being recruited by all the top schools. Typically, he would be considered one of the best at his position in the nation. He has the size, speed, power, talent, along with all the intangibles.

If we wanted to apply that to the Christian faith, what comprises a 5 star Christian? What are the essential Christian values?

Essential: absolutely necessary; indispensable; of the utmost importance.

If you are to consider yourself to be a complete Christian, you must be, posses or demonstrate ___________?

First thing that comes to my mind is believe in Jesus the Christ. Afterall, Hebrews 11:6  says “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”(ESV)  So number one on the list has to be FAITH. Faith is not just believing facts about Jesus, it is complete trust in the person of Jesus Christ. If you trust Him, truly believe He is God incarnate, it should be evident in the way you are living your life.

FAITH 

James 2:
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.20 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?(HCSB)

Ephesians 2:
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.(HCSB)

Acts 26:
19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.(NKJV)

Ephesians 4:
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.(NIV)

Hebrews 11:
 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”(ESV)

Christians are saved through faith unto good works of service that God prepared ahead of time for us to do. Number two on the list would have to be SERVICE. Serving others out of love for your Savior, not out of a sense of duty or compulsion. Serving others though giving of your time and resources. Serving others through acts of kindness and generosity. Serving others by doing for them what they cannot do for themselves.

SERVICE

Joshua 24:
14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lordchoose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods,(ESV)

Matthew 20:
25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(NIV)

John 13:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
…….
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things,blessed are you if you do them.(ESV)

Jesus’ entire life was a life of service, serving the Father by serving mankind. What motivated Jesus to serve others, to give His life as a ransom? Love. Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so! So LOVE has to be on the list. Love is not just a warm fuzzy feeling but a desire for what’s best for a person, after all we are commanded to love our neighbor and also love our enemy.

LOVE

John 3:
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.(ESV)

John 13:
33 My children, I will be with you for a little while longer. Then you will look for me, but you won’t find me. I tell you just as I told the people, “You cannot go where I am going.” 34 But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you35 If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.(CEV)

John 14:
15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”(ESV)

1 Corinthians 13:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.(NKJV)

If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” and “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” So the world will know you are Jesus’ disciple by loving each other and obeying His commands.  Jesus’ last command to His disciples was The Great Commission, in which they were instructed to make more disciples, therefore, DISCIPLESHIP has to be on the list as well. Making disciples, other followers of Jesus, by teaching them all that has been revealed to you.

DISCIPLESHIP

Matthew 28:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(ESV)

Luke 9:
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?(NIV)

2 Timothy 3:
14 But as for you,continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.(ESV)

Hmm… reviewing the scripture for SERVICE, LOVE, and DISCIPLESHIP I see a lot of references to keeping my commandments, denying self, follow me – sorry but OBEDIENCE has to be on the list. Love and Obey for there is now other way to be happy in Jesus but to Love and Obey. Simply doing what you know the Lord wants you do to, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy.

OBEDIENCE

Deuteronomy 11:
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today,28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.(ESV)

Matthew 7:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’(ESV)

John 14:
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
…….
21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.(ESV)

As with any relationship, communication is critical. If you are wanting to deepen your love for Jesus and walk in faithful obedience and discipleship, you are going to need to communicate with your Lord. So that means you are going to need to PRAY. Pray without ceasing, praying in the Spirit, praying through faith, praying on the behalf of others, praying for the Lord’s will do be done.

PRAYER

2 Chronicles 7:
14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.(ESV)

Mark 11:
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”(ESV)

Matthew 21:
21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”(ESV)

1 Thessalonians 5:
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.(ESV)

Ephesians 6:
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,(ESV)

Philippians 4:
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(ESV)

Luke 11:
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say,
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.(KJV)

Mark 9:
18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”
……..
26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”(ESV)

James 5:
15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.(NKJV)

Hebrews 5:
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,(ESV)

When was the last time you were so fervent in prayer that you shed tears? Prayer transports you into the presence of The Living God, your Father. who wants to give His children all things beneficial, if they will only ask Him. We have not because we ask not or we ask with the wrong motives. Are you strengthening your relationship with God through prayer? Those with whom you have the closest relationship are those with whom you speak regularly. You cannot, you dare not neglect such an important principle of being a Christian.

So here’s my list:

FAITH

SERVICE

LOVE

DISCIPLESHIP

OBEDIENCE

PRAYER

Is my list the same as your list? Did I leave out one that should have been included?

I would include teaching and Bible study under Discipleship, studying to show thyself approved or teaching the Word to others that they might be a better follower of Christ. Love is also far reaching – loving God, loving others, showing grace, kindness, and compassion. Loving other believers leading to stronger friendships and a deeper sense of community. Obedience also encompasses discipline and self-control.

~God Bless