So... a week ago Saturday I was at my son's football game... sitting in the grass, enjoying the beautiful day and cheering them on to victory.
Little did I know, a icky, creepy, crawly, venomous Brown Recluse Spider sank its fangs into my right pointer finger. Ugh!
Sunday morning I woke up with a little red spot on the inside of my finger. It itched a bit but I didnt think too much about it... but as the day went on the spot got bigger and bigger and before bedtime it looked like a blood blister. Weird... but whatever. If its worse, I'll go to the Dr on Monday. I am not going to the ER for this...
Didn't sleep well that night... my finger was throbbing. I got up Monday morning and my finger was huge...and oozing... and had a pulse of its own... with a lovely red line from the spot to my wrist. I went to work... waiting for the Dr's office to open to make an appointment. I luckily was able to get in for the first appointment of the day.
They did some blood work... yup, I have an infection. They gave me 2 different kinds of medication, a shot in the butt, a sling to wear to help with the swelling and told me to return Tuesday. That red line I mentioned? Well, it went up my arm, took a turn at my elbow and was making it's way up to my armpit. Ended up with swollen lymph nodes as well.
The day went on... was feeling yucky, but waiting on the medicine to kick in.
Tuesday I woke up and felt like I was hit by a bus. My body HURT. Joints were throbbing, my calves were cramping, I was nauseaus and dizzy, and have a terrible headache. I went back to the Dr who said I should have gotten better, not worse... so she called a specialist within the same office and and infectious disease doctor at the U.
I went to the specialist right away and they were amazed at my nasty finger. He brought 6 other people in to look at it, take pictures, do cultures, etc. Only to later find out that little sucker caused me to get Strep too! New medications... which later resulted in healing (along with all the prayers I had).
I am thankful for this Dr... b/c of him I didnt have to stay in the hospital and I kept my finger. Many others with Brown Recluse bites arent so lucky.
As of today, my finger is peeling... almost like it was burned. My hand is a little achy and puffy at the knuckles but nothing like it was. What an ordeal!
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
The Life Project: 2nd Corinthians
Have you ever had affliction? Have you ever thought your suffering was too much to
bare? Ever thought you weren’t spiritual enough or else you wouldn’t be having these
thoughts? Well, you should know you are in good company. The Apostle Paul begins
his second letter to the Corinthians telling them about the suffering he has
encountered. He says that he had even “despaired of life.” There is no spiritualizing
this; no making this sound better than it was. Paul wanted to die. He felt too weak to
fight, too weak to face the sufferings that God had allowed in his path. Ever been
Why is it that we Christians don’t like to talk about our sufferings? Why do we pretend
to have things all together? Why are we so ashamed that we too have had thoughts of
death? Paul was honest. He wanted the Corinthians to know that whatever suffering
they had faced, he had faced too. And in retrospect Paul was able to understand the
good that was worked through his suffering. My prayer for you is that when your
suffering has come to an end, or maybe while you are in the middle of the storm, you
will be able to see the good that God has worked in you.
The first gift of suffering is the gift of comfort. I remember as a child, nothing felt so
good as my dad rubbing my back, telling me it would be okay, that he loved me. Even
now, when I am upset, I relish the comfort that comes from my loved ones. Last time I
was sick, my two year old put his “blankey” on my back, rubbed my leg and said “it’ll
be okay.” There is something about times of suffering that make us crave relationship.
And God knows this. It is through these difficult times, that we can feel His presence
most in our lives. If we allow God to comfort us, it is a precious gift that will forever
strengthen our relationship with Him.
The second gift of suffering is that we will understand how to comfort others. Have
you ever had someone tell you, “I know how you feel”, when you know very well that
they don’t? That is extremely annoying. When we are suffering, we want someone
who really understands, not someone who pretends. In the first chapter of 2nd
Corinthians, Paul says, “[God] who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can
comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” This is
no small gift. There are countless times, someone comes to me when they are feeling
depressed or lonely. I thank God that I have been where they stand, so I can tell them
with assurance that they will get through this.
The final gift of suffering I believe that Paul had obtained is the Glory of God. One of
my favorite passages of Scripture is found in 2nd Corinthians 4:6-7. “For God, who
said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the
light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this
treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not
from us.” Have you ever seen a jar of clay? I used to make pottery in college. And I
am not a master potter. My pots had cracks, they were misshapen, they were so weak.
I actually have only one piece left from my time at the potter’s wheel. The rest of them
have broken due to their fragile nature. That does sound like me; weak, fragile. I am
so thankful that God’s glory can shine through my weakness and through my suffering.
2nd Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power
is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my
weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” Amen to that!!
So next time you are tempted to conceal your suffering, to hide your weaknesses, think
of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. There are so many great spiritual gifts that
God can give you through your afflictions. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all
things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according
to his purpose.”
The Life Project: Galatians
Paul writes the book of Galatians to a new church that has “deserted” the Grace of
Christ and accepted a new gospel. He is imploring the church to not turn from the
truth that they have been given to some new teaching. And this got me thinking. How
do we know that our Gospel, that our Bible is the truth, the inspired Word of God? How
do we know that the Bible is not just some book, a collection of stories by a bunch of
fferent men? There are after all many religious books that people claim are from
God. Why is our Gospel any di
fferent? I remember taking a doctrine class when I was in
th grade and one of the topics we studied was the accuracy and authority of the Bible.
So I pulled out some old memories and consulted some modern websites to provide
you with all the reasons Christians scholars believe the Bible to be the inspired,
accurate, infallible Word of God. I hope that it sparks some great discussion, but more
than that, I hope it serves to build your faith and inspire you to hold fast to the truth
that you have learned.
Scholars separate evidence for the authority of the Bible into internal evidence and
external evidence. Internal evidence is that which is found within scripture itself. This
evidence serves to testify to the divine origin of God’s Word. External evidence is then
of course evidence found in sources other than God’s Word.
The first of the internal evidences is the harmony found within the scriptures. “Even
though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three
fferent languages, over a period of 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came
from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end
without contradiction,” from gotquestions.org. Talk about a miracle! I can’t get the
same story from my four children on an event that happened 15 minutes beforehand!!
But seriously, those kinds of numbers don’t happen by accident. If the Bible were not
true, one of those 40 authors would have exposed the sham. The proof for the Bible is
in the unity of the Bible.
Another internal evidence for the authority of God’s Word is found in the prophecies
about the Messiah in the Old Testament. There are hundreds of detailed prophecies
about the Messiah right down to his lineage, his birth place, even that he would spend
time in Egypt. The odds that one man would fulfill all these Messianic prophecies are
astronomical, unless of course that man really was the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled ALL of
these prophecies. For a great read about these Messianic prophecies, I recommend
The Real Messiah; Prophecies Fulfilled,
by Kennedy and Newcombe.
The third internal evidence for the divine nature of the Bible is its power!! Have you
ever experienced the Living Word? I have. And there are countless others who have
been transformed by the power of God’s Word. Addicted, depressed, suicidal,
hopeless, poor, broken, sick, tired; people are changed by the power of the Bible.
Does that happen when you read self-help books? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
There are also external evidences for the Bible. And for the truly skeptical, these are
the evidences that might mean the most. The historicity of the Bible is external
substantiation to the content within the Bible. The Bible has been subject to intense
scrutiny and found via other sources to be historically accurate. This doesn’t prove the
divine nature of the Bible, but it does prove that the Bible cannot entirely be a work of
fiction. Archaeological and manuscript evidence both support the accuracy of the
Bible’s historical details.
There is also scientific evidence for the accuracy of the Bible. Psalm 8:8 talks about
the “paths of the sea” and inspired oceanographer Commodore Maury to investigate
and discover the currents in the ocean. Job 36:27-28 speaks of the water cycle long
before Marcus Vitruvius explained it!
Another external evidence for the Bible lies in the character of its human authors.
What if you had written a fictional story and pretended it was true? And then what if
you were asked to admit it was fiction or face torture and death? You would tell the
truth, right? Yet none of the 40 men who wrote the Bible ever changed their story.
Many of them were tortured. Some of them were killed. And they went to their graves
testifying to the accuracy of the Bible. My guess is they were willing to die for the
Scripture because they regarded it as truth.
The final external proof for the Bible is in its indestructible nature. On more than one
occasion, people have tried to destroy the Bible. Take for instance the Diocletian
Persecution of 303-311. During this time Roman Christians faced the bloodiest and
most widespread persecution to date. Diocletian tried to stomp out every Christian
and every copy of the Bible that he could. And yet in 324, under the rule of
Constantine, Christianity became the o
fficial religion of the Roman Empire. The
survivability of the Bible through all the years, before the printing press, through all
sorts of persecution, is evidence for its divine nature.
Of course believing the Bible to be the inspired, divine, and authoritative Word of God,
involves more than evidence. It requires a measure of faith. But I pray that God grants
you great faith, and that your faith and your knowledge will encourage you to hold fast
to the truth that you have received.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
11 years.... Doesn't seem like that long. Seems like yesterday, although so much has changed since then.
11 years ago, I was in Chicago with my 1 yr old daughter, my exhusband, and my parents. I remember waking up and seeing what looked like a Hollywood movie on TV. Buildings, planes, explosions, dust, people falling...
11 years ago, I realized that it wasn't a movie. It was real. People really hijacked a plane and crashed into our landmark in NYC killing hundreds of innocent people.
11 years ago I heard my little girl say, "Why those bad men hit the building in plane?". How do you explain that to a 1 year old when you can't explain it to yourself?
11 years ago I was scared. I was terrified it was going to happen where we were. What would I do? Where would I go? Would we survive?
11 years ago my heart broke for people I didn't know. People lost moms, dads, husbands, wives... I cried and cried for all those lost in the attacks and for those who were left behind. I guess that's the one thing that hasnt changed in 11 years. My heart is still broken for them.
God, on the anniversary of these terror attacks, I pray for those who were directly impacted. For those who went on to be with you as well as those left behind. I pray for the police officers and firemen who risk their lives daily to serve their communities. I pray for the people who think to do these bad things, that you would touch their hearts and get in their heads. Lord, let them know You and stop this senselessness. You are a God of healing and of love and I pray that, on this day especially, we as a nation can feel Your goodness. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Monday, September 10, 2012
The Life Project: 1st Corinthians
If there were one statement that would sum up the Apostle Paul’s 1st letter to the church in Corinth it would be this; speaking the truth in love. In Corinth we find a church that had made some wrong choices and given in to the pressures of sin around them. Their list of sins is long and ugly. Corinth was a hotbed of activity in the 1st century Roman empire. It was a large capital city that held all of the trappings of a modern inner city. Sadly the sin culture crept into even the church of Corinth. We have all faced the dilemma of wondering just how to deal with sin inside the context of the church. What do we say? How do we respond? What action, if any, needs to be taken? What do we do when the sin of the world around us invades the sacred space of the church?
1st Corinthians is an interesting case study in leadership and discipleship as we see how Paul responds to the church’s lack of a moral compass. How would Paul, the great church planter, evangelist and pastor respond? Would he rebuke them and cast them aside as a failure? Would he ignore their sin in order to preserve and maintain relationship? Both of these are extremes; extremes that are almost always ineffective. I am sure many of us have come to the same place as Paul wondering, "how do I respond to the obvious sin of my Brothers and Sisters in Christ?". We find through the leadership of Paul the roadmap for navigating the issue of sin inside of the church. We find that Paul had patience with the Corinthians. He held strongly onto a hope for them. This doesn’t mean he tip-toed around the issues at hand. Although his love is clear from the beginning of this letter to the end, Paul’s love doesn’t drive him to compromise but it drives him to confrontation. Confrontation has such a negative connotation doesn’t it? It seems like at times we do our best to avoid confrontation. However, Paul shows us that confrontation is a much needed element inside of the church both in the 1st century and today. The book of Proverbs tells us, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." If you have ever seen the process of a sword being sharpened you would not define it as an easy or peaceful process. It is a process that is loud, one in which sparks fly and excess things are removed. We see in the case of the Corinthian church that Paul’s love for his family drives him to demand more of their walk with Christ. I believe this is an important distinction. Without love we have no business speaking truth to anyone. Truth without love is the bull-horn preacher on the street corners telling everyone they are going to hell. Although this may (or may not) be true it is completely ineffective. Why? Because truth is not productive unless it is covered in love. The flip side of that coin is equally important; love is also ineffective if it is not based in truth. Paul shows us in Corinthians that our love for one another within the church should make it impossible to ignore reality. He makes it very clear in 1st Corinthians that together we make up the Body of Christ. If one part of the body becomes diseased with sin it becomes the responsibility of the rest of the body to seek health and healing from that sin. The Bible is clear that the wages of sin is death. If we ignore sin it will eventually infiltrate the entire body, robbing our message of life in Jesus.
In 1st Corinthians we see a beautiful picture of a loving friend concerned about the state
of the church. He begins the letter with words of love and encouragement but continues
to call out the sin among the people and call a church to repentance. Paul gives them
an invitation in chapter 11 verse 1 to "Follow my example, as I follow the example of
Christ." What a beautiful picture of speaking the truth in love. May we have the courage
to follow this biblical model.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
The book of Romans is such an expansive book, full of rich theology about the saving
work available through Jesus Christ. If you have never read the book of Romans, I
encourage you to devour it. It is largely regarded as the Apostle Paul’s greatest work
and is central to our understanding of salvation. The last few chapters of Romans take
a subtle shift, however, to the transformation that should take place in the life of a
person once he becomes a believer.
Our lives, once the light of Christ has entered them, should not resemble the old lives
that we once led. We will be, if we have truly made Him the Lord of our lives,
completely transformed. The Book of Romans talks about a few of these radical
changes that will take place in our life as followers of Christ.
Humility is the first mark of a believer that Paul covers. In Romans 12:3 Paul says, “For
by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly
than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with
the faith God has distributed to each of you”. In Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one
another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” In Romans 12:18, “If it is
possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
A proper view of ourselves is essential. We were put on this earth to love our Lord and
to love people. It is impossible to love someone and at the same time think you are
superior to them. Our attitude should be one of service. We find that emulating Christ
will bring us to this attitude of servant hood. Paul says in Philippians 2:5-8 “In your
relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in
very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own
advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
Not only are we to serve each other, Paul says we are not to judge each other. Romans
14:4, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants
stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” In this
chapter Paul talks a lot about our duty to our fellow believer. He talks about the
“weaker” brother who feels conviction over many things. In Biblical times, this would
be the person who felt it was wrong to eat certain meats, who felt it was wrong to do
work on a particular day of the week, etc. But Paul tells us that no “thing” is wrong in
and of itself. It is the attitude of the heart that is either right or wrong. So the
“stronger” brother may be able to eat all meats, and do work on any day of the week
and feel no conviction at all. Both brothers may be in right standing with God, so do
HOWEVER, Paul also talks about not causing your brother to stumble. For example, if
you are able to drink wine with no conviction but are out to dinner with a person in
recovery, you probably should not order wine. Who knows if you might cause your
brother to stumble? And because our attitude should be one of love and service, we
must put our brother’s needs before our own.
Putting others before ourselves seems to be the primary theme of these last four
chapters of Romans. And don’t we all struggle with this? Humanity is really bad at
love. As Christians, who have had total transformation, we should be really good at
love. But are we?
Do you find yourself judging others frequently? Christ says, “Judge not, that you be
not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the
measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your
brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to
your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your
own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see
clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Do you find yourself thinking only about your needs, your hurts, and your feelings?
Again Christ says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a
second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two
commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
I have often overlooked the very simple truth of God’s Word. The way the world will
know Christ, is through us, by our love. And I can’t love when I am haughty,
judgmental, and self-serving. But as my human nature likes to rear its ugly head, I
must die daily to myself so that I can live out the transformation that has taken place
in my life. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.” And that is what I must do, through the power of