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Chronic Pain, Charcot Joints, and Me

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New Ailments, Old Problems

It seems none of us can get away from deteriorating health. Once you have a major illness, I’m convinced you don’t ever actually get back to 100%. I just returned from a follow-up with my surgeon, Dr. Herbert Schwartz out of Vanderbilt’s Orthopedic Oncology clinic (Medical Center East, 4th floor). No matter how much I may complain, never let it be said that I’m ungrateful for all that has been done for me. G-d is good and He has a plan, even if I cannot see even the most immediate parts of it, or understand any of it, at this time.

Chronic Pain

Ever since my surgery, I have been dealing with chronic pain issues. Whether from swelling or as a direct result of the surgery itself. I’ve been dealing with pain through medication or just not using my arm. It’s not been going very well. I’m on several prescription painkillers (Ibuprofen, hydrocodone, gabapentin, etc.). This is not an ideal situation for me. I don’t like taking pills but I don’t think there is anything available homeopathically that would be of any help, not for the level of pain I am in during or after a hard day’s work. I can only imagine what it is like for those who have pain from unseen causes (fibromyalgia, MS, etc.). For those of you with whom I may have been not totally believing or sympathetic to what you are going through: I am truly sorry.

Charcot Joint

Charcot joint is an issue usually described in diabetics, and is usually a problem that seems to resolve itself – to a degree – if properly treated. My issue is similar to charcot joint, but isn’t exactly the same. Neuropathic arthropathy is definitely an accurate description of what is happening to my elbow, but diabetes isn’t the cause (as I am not diabetic, der). I have arthritis in my left elbow, and the pain I have in it will only worsen with time. Today I was fitted with a brace to help limit the movement of my elbow in an attempt to control pain in it, but it’s really a poor bandaid for the issue. It is also only one of three options. An artificial elbow joint was one of the other options, one which I immediately dismissed, even before he said that the usually do not last very long. The third one was left unspoken, though I had an idea about what he was thinking by the pained look on his face.

Today did have a silver lining, though. The cancer has not returned and my wife and I had a very late lunch at the Mt. Juliet, TN Olive Garden. The former is always a blessing to find out, and the latter has always been a good experience for us no matter which Olive Garden we dine at. Fabulous service, great food, awesome prices. We will definitely be returning in the future.

Don’t Want to Feel

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There used to be a time in my life when I wondered what it would be like to not feel anything. No physical or emotional pains (or joys) at all. Not having to worry about emotional drains, or the lasting pain of a severe cut or gash. Not have to feel when a loved one dies, or a girlfriend breaks up with me. Of course that would come with the inability to feel the cool breeze on my face, or the joy I have while I’m at work knowing my wife is waiting at home for me. I wouldn’t be able to be happy on Sabbath’s knowing that my rest is in Christ and that I’m about to study the bible with beloved brothers. No sensation of holding a puppy in my hand only hours after it has been born – and the accompanying laughter as it moves around searching for a teet to suckle from – and its soft fur tickling my skin.

Unfortunately, though, and not because of any current wish, I partly got my wish. Because of the surgeries I went through because of my osteosarcoma, I have no physical sensation in my left pinky, the left half of my left ring finger, most of the top of my left hand, most of the top of my left forearm, and part of the palm of my hand. I am never 100% certain when it has sustained an injury or burn. Never sure if I’ve crushed the pinky. There is no hot or cold. No way to feel cool breezes I can feel in other places of my body. No way to fully enjoy holding hands with my wife with that hand, and because of loss of dexterity I also have to be extra careful with fragile loads.

I don’t wonder anymore what it’s like to not have emotions, I’ve tried stoicism and found it unhealthy and dissatisfied; I don’t wonder anymore either what it is like to not have physical sensations, as I have been partly granted that and I now pray with every fiber of my being that someday, that sensation will return.

I Am Exhausted

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alex-nagy-haircut

Alex Nagy, 16 January 2014

I imagine there comes a point in all of our lives, especially when you are walking with the LORD, that we reach a point of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual exhaustion. It’s a point I never thought I’d reach, honestly. I never thought I’d be at a point where I felt as if God wasn’t there for me. Wasn’t leading me. Wasn’t guiding me. Wasn’t talking to me. Yet we are told it is in those times He’s the closest to us, not just leading us, not just guiding us, but actually carrying us through these valleys. These times of trial and tribulation. What are we to do then? It definitely reminds me that it’s not I who is supposed to be doing anything aside from being obedient.

Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

What is there left, then?

James 1:2-6 (KJV)
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

This is part of God’s plan, I’m sure, to finish the work in me which was begun. He will complete it.

Romans 9:28 (KJV)
28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

My only task in this is to be patient, which is not something I’m good at. I’m horrible at sitting around. I want to do something. I want to serve. I want to proclaim the gospel. It seems though, that right now, that’s not what He has in mind. I ask for your prayers, brothers and sisters. I need His guidance, His direction, His provision. I feel lost and alone, and my wife is in this with me. She’s in the same place I am. We are both struggling and need the reality of His presence in our lives.

Crossing Lines

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In our daily walk with Christ, we will encounter people, situations, ideals, and laws which will leave us wondering, sometimes with our head spinning, what it all means and what can or should we do about the situation. Some respond with zeal, some with apathy, some embrace while others reject almost all the time though it’s about our will and what we want versus what God’s will is and what He wants. You could say that there should be a balance between our will and God’s, but that’s unbiblical. All through Scripture we are shown we are to lay aside our own will, desires, and wants and give ourselves wholly over to Him, trusting that He will take care of our needs without any input from us. When we speak or act, it should always be in response to the Holy Spirit and never on our own (regardless if it involves overt ministry or your ‘day job’). There are ways of doing things both tactfully and effectively, and there are certain lines we should never cross, though if we are truly given over to His will that won’t be an issue. Until then, here are some lessons I’ve learned.

  1. Being a married man does not give you justification for being a tyrant. Ephesians 5:22-33 is not a license to be a tyrant but is a guide on how to treat your wives and more than that, it is a final teaching on the structure of His Church. God is at the head, the male spouse is the head-of-household, an ordained minister to his family, with his wife by his side. Not underfoot. Not at the head. At his side. As we are co-heirs with Christ, and the Church is His Bride, so too our wives need to be treated with dignity, respect, and understanding. The submission of wives talked about here isn’t forceful. Just as we are to willingly submit to the LORD in all matters, so to wives to their husbands. Just like we can discuss things with God all day long, in the end the decision is His and His alone. Anything that crosses the line into disrespect of your spouse, I believe, is not only hurtful to the spouse but I believe it to be a sin against God Himself.
  2. In my search on how to run a business in a way that honors God, I cam across many verses that spoke of not standing in the way of sin. The message was clear, I believe, but I’m still lost (and waiting to for guidance) on the application. Obviously we are tasked with carrying forth the Gospel (good news) of Jesus’ death and resurrection, by which salvation is made possible, and in the U.S. – a country not only founded on Christian principles but I believe ordained by the Lord Himself (though having definitely fallen out of favor in the last 20+ years) – we are in a unique position to influence our laws and leaders like no nation before (though some seem to try and emulate to some degree). There are definitely things happening in this nation that are a complete abomination before the LORD (homosexuality, murders (abortion in particular), rapes, theft, idolatry, etc.). Where do we draw the line, though? We definitely need to remain outspoken about these activities as they are sins, but how do we do so not only in love but while also leaving free choice up to each individual? After all, we cannot stand their place as Christ stood in ours. Those who are unbelievers already stand in judgment for rebellion against the Almighty. We also know that, just because something is against the law it won’t stop those who have set it in their hearts to do such things, either. What does one do aside from proclaiming the Truth, prayer over those living lives of sin (ourselves included, unless you can say before God honestly and truthfully you’ve made it to a mostly sinless life (and according to Scripture, it is possible), and fasting for God’s mercy? I’m personally very conflicted on this right now.
  3. Avoid being prideful. Proverbs 16:18 really says it better than I could: “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” If you look through all Scripture, it’s easy to see pride at the root of every other sin imaginable. Think about that for a moment.

I thought I had more, but the above list pretty neatly covers just about anything. There is no reason to lose our testimony or witness because we stepped outside of God’s will. There is also nothing wrong in admitting when we ourselves are in the wrong and have crossed any lines into not being like Christ. There are definitely times when we need to get mad and, like Christ, chase the sin out of our homes. There are times when we’ll have to tell it like it is and call a spade a spade because there is just nothing else to call it. The rest of the time we really do need to express more fully Christ’s love for everyone and His desire for all to be saved should also be ours. That won’t happen, though, if His Word is not written on our hearts as much as some of us have imprinted His Word in our minds. Don’t cross any lines you don’t need to, remembering to show love to all, and wipe the dust off of your feet for anyone who won’t listen. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Good Work, Godly Work

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Good Work

There seems to be some (erroneous) belief that you cannot run a godly business today. That somehow, the laws and morals of this world make it absolutely impossible to honor God with our talents and skills (both of which He has provided). Or that, in running a Godly business, you have to somehow force your beliefs on someone else if they work for you.

I stand before God and declare to all of you that such is completely false. Not only can you honor God, you can hire non-believers and never once force your beliefs on them, though of course it is a great chance to minister to them in how you run your business and deal with not just them but others as well. Your actions will go so much further than any words you could share with them.

I have recently started moving forward with two businesses of my own. Not because I have any great business acumen but because this is where I felt God leading me before my cancer, and he burden He has lain on my heart hasn’t changed since. God told me to go, His word said He has already provided all I need for ministry, so I just needed to go.

Since God said it, and His word doesn’t return void, I have taken hold of it and gone forth. I haven’t regretted a minute of it, even though sometimes I wish I wasn’t self-employed, the good work I have been doing (and the awesome customers I’ve been getting) has reinforced my belief God truly is leading me to ministry through my skills and talents. He’s provided, and I know as long as I remain faithful, He will continue to provide what I need, when I need it.

Godly Business

How does run a Godly business, then? Well, the first place God took me in Scriptures was the Psalms. You wouldn’t believe how how much in Psalms applies to doing business. Psalm 1 really sets the foundation, not just for personal interactions, but business ones as well. God makes no distinction between the two, you see. No where in Scripture does God say “And this only applies to your personal lives” or “And this only applies to doing business.” He does, however, outline how women are to conduct themselves in business (Proverbs 31:10-31). It is no different to the men, who are indeed held to a much, much higher standard as they are Christ’s representatives in the household (Ephesians 5:22-33).

There are tons more Scripture the Lord revealed to me (some I was already aware of) to show me just how serious He is:
Psalms 1: God knows not just our hearts and intentions, but our actions. Not only does this apply to how we deal with unbelievers (we preach to and teach them as we are led by the Spirit) but how we conduct ourselves in all situations. As True Believers, one cannot separate their faith from any other aspect of their life. Doing so says that you believe God has no business there. Its simply untrue, given how everything we have comes from God to begin with. Government, money, relationships, sexuality. It all comes from Him and it all comes with caveats that He has placed on a people unable to restrain themselves in any type of sin. I try to live this in how I deal with customers and potential customers. My delight is in the LORD, no matter what may become of a bid (that isn’t to say I’m not hurt when I lose one, but it is just one of those things that goes with the territory).

Psalms 15: This is a hard one to live by. In a day and age when it’s possible (and to a degree accepted as part of doing business) to lie, cheat, and steal your way to the top, standing by one’s word – no matter the cost – becomes the hardest thing in the world to do. With no support – aside from Godly mentors and – most importantly – God Himself – from others, one can find themselves quickly standing alone when standing by their word could have negative consequences. Who are we without being able to stand by our word? Christ Himself taught that our “yes should be yes and our no should be no” (paraphrased from Christ’s words in Matthew 5:33-37, and repeated again by James (the brother of Christ) in James 5:12). Don’t swear oaths, but be true to your word. I will confess I haven’t been as perfect in this as I could have been, but there is no time like the present to change that.

Psalm 34:8-10: In seeking the LORD, we are assured that we shall not lack any good thing. If our only focus is mammon, however, what do we gain? Every True Believer should be embracing this daily. Seek the LORD in fearful reverence. Seek out His Will and trust fully only in Him. We certainly lose nothing by doing so and – according to this very Scripture – we stand to gain all that He sees as being good for us. There is no “name-it and claim-it” doctrine in Holy Scripture, and this passage certainly doesn’t promote that. What it does, though, is remind us to keep our focus on God. His blessings are all meant to point to spiritual truths, not physical well-being. Those who follow Christ 110% are His Spiritual Israel. His chosen people, and He will not let them fall. This is something we all need to work on, myself included, as evidenced by not only our own moral struggles but by the moral decay of society as a whole. Turn to the LORD, trust in Him, seek out the LORD, and He will keep you.

Psalm 37:5-8: I’m still working on this or more to the point, I’m still working on letting God deal with this. His shoulders can carry it much better than I can. God presents us many opportunities for work, ministry, trade, and social interactions. This really echoes what was said in Psalm 34:8-10 (and also Psalms 1 and 15). Commit your ways to the LORD, trust in Him, rest in the LORD, be patient for Him to move, do not be angry or wrathful, and don’t fret/worry (this rebuke on worrying is also repeated by Christ in Matthew 6:25-34). Let God tend to our daily lives. He can manage them better than we ever could (just look at all the problems we have to see the truth in this). Let God tend to our business dealings. Let God tend to all that we need, that way we can tend to what God wants us to focus on doing.

Psalm 37:27-31: This Psalm goes on, in these later verses, to remind us to depart from evil, to do what is good in His eyes, it tells of His love of true justice, how our own mouths and tongues should proclaim us as both righteous and just without us having to use those labels on ourselves, how God’s laws are on our hearts, and our steps not being idle (e.g. they are always filled with Godly purpose). It is only by showing that we are truly His – without rabbinical legalism or pagan mysticism – that we allow God to work through us. Otherwise we’re just doing it to show off for others.

Psalm 103:1-5: This is our very real reminder of what we are supposed to be doing. Bless the LORD with all your being, forgetting not His benefits as he is our Forgiver, our Healer, our Deliverer, our Redeemer, our Comforter, our Provider, our Life-giver. If all that we are – body, soul, and spirit – were to truly bless His holy name there is nothing we should want for (again, this passage does not promote the false doctrine of the prosperity gospel).

Psalm 112: The Psalms are rife with praise for what God provides when we keep Him as our 100% focus and this passage is no different. Its hard to read this and not want to serve the LORD. Blessings and wealth? Prosperity for keeping his commandments? Sign me up! Seriously, though, the underlying sentiment here is that these things are reserved for those who keep His ways, not out of a sense of legalism or a sense of reciprocation, but out of a pure joy for serving the LORD. Praise be to GOD for being so liberal with His blessings, but let us also be liberal with what He has given us in the way of money, time, and talents. Let us rejoice in serving our Sovereign God and being united under Heaven as its citizens. Let us truly be His ambassadors and stop playing these silly games. You thought God moved when Christ was on earth? Jesus Himself said to His disciples that those who fully take hold of what He has to offer and preaches it honestly and earnestly will do greater things than Christ Himself showed us. Forget walking on water or raising the dead. We should be walking on air and going anywhere we please in our work for the LORD. There should be no border closed to us, no ears to far to hear us, no language barrier to separate us. Boy, that’s the kind of mission work I’d love to be doing (and can be doing if I too could fully take hold of all these things)! There is nothing stopping those who are called by His name except our own unbelief.

Psalm 127:1: For those starting a business, these words need to ring true if God is to be truly part of it. He has to call you to the purpose, to each and every task, for Him to be part of it. There is no “Well we’ll start it and invite Him to join us, He always comes when He’s invited.” What a bunch of garbage! God isn’t some friendly neighbor, He’s the Creator of the Universe! He’s the Father of all life. He is the righteous, just, vengeful, wrathful, and perfect judge! You don’t just “invite Him on over.” Either He ordained you do the work or He didn’t. It’s that simple. Jerusalem’s walls didn’t get rebuilt because Nehemiah said, “It pains me to see the walls torn down and the city in disarray, let’s go build it and hope God blesses us.” NO! Nehemiah anguished over the sorry state of God’s people and His Holy City and said, “God, what do you want to do?!” More importantly, Nehemiah then went and did what God told him to do when He finally spoke. The same with the temple. Man didn’t say, “Let’s rebuild His temple and then invite Him along to work with us.” What happened is that a Godly man was burdened to see it rebuilt, and an unGodly man was touched by God to make sure it happened! God moved and man responded. Not the other way around. This is the cornerstone for starting my own business. God said, “Go and do it.” He never told me it would be easy (just as He never said such to Nehemiah and the others). He never told me I wouldn’t hit low spots or win every bid I put in. He told me to go to work, start a business, and minister to His children as He provides for it to be done. God is the center of my businesses because He is the reason I am in business. Without Him, I might as well go back to work for someone else.

Proverbs 16:3,8: This really goes along with all the rest of Scripture. My work needs to be committed to the LORD. Not to mammon, or Obama, or whomever else one might think they need to dedicate their work, play, or whatever. “Commit our works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established.” I cannot think of a single passage that better gives interpretation to the rest of Scripture then this one. Verse 8 also is a reminder of the value of being righteous (which includes holiness and justness) over what one could gain otherwise. I’d rather be poor in physical things then be unrighteous in God’s eyes. It’s a no-brainer for me, and should be as well for others who consider themselves True Believers.

1 Corinthians 10:31: The world really has a problem with this one. Romans 1 really summarizes up the why, but that shouldn’t stop any True Believer from joyfully giving God glory in everything we do. Compromise is trying to strangle the church, it always has. If it weren’t for the remnant who holds out and onto God’s words and promises, it probably would have a long time ago. Don’t go and do something for your glory, or the glory of some fleeting cause. Go and do it for God’s glory because it is what he called you to do!

Colossians 3:17,23-25: This isn’t the final word in running a Godly business, but this sums it up pretty good. I won’t expound on it as I’ll just repeat myself even more than I already have.

Final Words

I leave you with these words, then, in the hopes you will find blessing in them, and that they truly are not my own words but those of God.

As believers we are constantly enticed, sneered at, persecuted, and reviled for our choice to follow the One, True, and Living God. If only we stand on His promises, enter into His watch-tower, and faithfully discharge the duties given to us then we can fully take hold of all that He wants to give us, show us, and teach us. I encourage you to test my words against Scripture and prayerfully seek the truth of them for yourselves. I put myself in a position of risk for daring to teach God’s word, whether or not I’m “ordained” (as men reckon such things), all teachers of His word are held to higher standards and those willfully being deceitful are in a heap-more trouble then anyone who openly declares hate for God has to worry about. I prayerfully submit to you that these are true teachings, and if I am mistaken may God correct me in a manner He deems appropriate.

Take care and God bless.

9 Months On

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9 Months

Last Round

It has been almost 9 full months since I broke my arm. Almost 8 full months since I was diagnosed with osteoblastic osteosarcoma. Almost 7 full months since I began chemotherapy and almost 2 months since I had a bone allograft. As I sit in the main lobby of Vanderbilt University Medical Center waiting for my room (most likely on 8-south), I am reminded of all the people God has allowed my wife and I to meet. A couple where the husband was battling a spreading cancer (he died last month, his wife taking comfort knowing he’s in God’s hands now). A gentleman from Alabama waiting on his wife to get out of surgery. Mary, a nurse in the cancer oncology clinic lab, who has been a friendly face almost every time I’ve had my port accessed. Betsy-Kay and Frannie, whom have always had a smile and encouraging word. For Amy in admitting who couldn’t wait for me to not have to come back anymore. The nurses of the 2nd Floor infusion clinic (basically out-patient chemotherapy) and the wonderful nurses, care partners, and staff who have made my stays on 8-south memorable and yes, even enjoyable.

As I sit here nearly in tears over all that has happened, all the wonderful people I’ve met, I can’t help but remember these people. The friendly faces. The ones who didn’t make it. Right across the street is the children’s hospital where life and death are just as real for the littlest patients as it is for the adults. We live in an awesome period of history. God has provided us with so much in the way of good things. Yet what do we do with them? Squandered resources, petty fighting, constantly wanting nothing more – in general – than to fulfill our own needs without thinking of others.

I’ve only been asked once how can I believe in a god who allows evil, who allows poverty, who allows disease, who allows famine. Yet I look around me and not only do ethnicities and skin colors melt away, but so does famine. Poverty. Disease. Evil. Not because of anything man has done. Not because Vanderbilt exists. These things melt away because people have allowed God to work through them and in them. Some without realizing it. Some who reject such a notion. Yes, especially those who embrace Him. 9 months on and I’m still alive, ever thankful for all He has done and has allowed to come to pass. 9 months on and I have a closer relationship with Him than I had ever before.I sit here, waiting for my room on 8-south, knowing that today might be filled with unspeakable horrors no further from me than I can see out the window, but I don’t turn outward for my comfort, my peace, or my salvation. Man cannot provide those things for himself, much less others. 9 months on, and I still turn to God and praise Him with my every fiber and last ounce of strength.

Psalm 97
The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about.His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled.

The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.

Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O Lord.For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.

Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.

Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.

Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Emphasis added is my own.

My Faith Is In The LORD

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Short and Not So Sweet

The Short

God works on His own timetable for each person He is dealing with. Often times, though, we make ourselves so busy with activities, thoughts, goals, what-have-you that we often miss out on what He has in mind for us. We miss out on Spiritual insights into His will and His word, we miss out on being a blessing and even in being blessed ourselves. There is a Psalm I like to use, I call it the “Sit down, shut up, and know that I Am God” Psalm (Psalm 46:10).

There are days where we need to remember that God works best when we do the least. I needed that myself this week. My post from the other day showed where I had gotten myself so busy with preparations for being done with His plan – thinking that there couldn’t possibly be more to what He has in mind. After all, I am now a successful two-time cancer survivor because of Him. How much more could there be? Well, to put it bluntly, the rest of it – where IT is His plan to receive all glory, honor, and praise.

I didn’t know he wasn’t done, and I apparently hadn’t been listening closely enough and wound up getting myself up in a tizzy over even more treatments at a seemingly accelerated pace. Once I slowed down enough to listen, He spoke to me through the prophet Malachi. With only four “chapters” of verse attributed to his name, Malachi was able to show me all that I needed to know.

The Not So Sweet

The First Lesson

The first lesson was the toughest to hear, and as I sit here typing out my thoughts, I am reminded of a scene from Facing the Giants where Coach Taylor is making Brock Kelly do the death crawl, blindfolded and with 160lbs of human on his back. In this scene, the coach is not only demanding Brock’s all, but also his best. God did the same in Malachi. God wanted all of His people fully devoted to Him and He wanted there best. Not the cast-off animals no one else wanted. Not the last bits of lint from the shekels purse. He wants our first, our best, and He wants truly sacrificial giving from those who are willing. Remember Christ’s cursing of the fig tree? It wasn’t just because it wasn’t bearing fruit. It was because it was a mature vessel of God which was not fulfilling its God-given purpose of bearing fruit. It stopped listening to God, it stopped doing what it should be doing and was just basically a bump on the log. I would like to thank my Brother and church Elder David Cook for letting God use him for this last bit to this message I needed to hear. God has a value and need of us to be His light-bearers, but if we have no use for Him what use should He have for us? We’d be like that fig tree, taking up valuable space where something productive could be.

The Second Lesson

The second lesson is over tithing. He repeatedly commands us to bring in the tithe to the storehouse, starting off with a statutory (mandatory minimum) amount to get us both in the habit and understanding of what is going on. In the beginning, Abraham and the Jews had to tithe the first (and best) 10% of all income. It was both for the care of the priests and the poor. In the New Testament, there was no longer a statutory amount but there was still the command to tithe, this time exclusively for the care of the poor and indigent members of the brethren. The leadership was to be gainfully employed in their own right (Paul was a tent-maker (or whatever else was needed) by trade) so as not to be a burden to the brethren, but the command to tithe was still there and we are indeed called to follow those brothers and sisters who give past the point of it hurting, and all in joy.

The point was never about the money, or the food, or clothing, or whatever. The point was and always has been that our focus not be on the money, clothing, food, or whatever. If our focus really is all on God, then those things will not matter (and we don’t have to worry about them, as Christ teaches in Matthew 6:25-34).

The Third Lesson

God knows.

Tying It Together

Summary

Our focus, whether we are being healed, tithing, or working needs to be on what God wants. We need to stop busying ourselves to the point of distraction. If we are truly devoted and radical enough for Christ to call us His own, our focus can’t help but be upon Him. He’s already said He’d take care of the rest. He knows when we are really committed and He knows when we are a bump on the log. He has commanded us in His ways and expects nothing less than our very best, whether its carrying 160lbs of human on hands and feet across 100 yards of football field or going to the store to pick up groceries we can’t afford because our brethren can afford it even less than we.

I committed to God almost three years ago – and every day since then – to give Him my best, to follow His will and His way and leave the rest up to Him which means that for now, I continue through with chemotherapy, not knowing when it will stop. In a life full of hard decisions, this is probably one of those that feels hard now but was probably the easiest I ever made.

To God be the Glory, Power, and Honor now and forever, Amen.

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