Tag Archives: Health

Rest and Relax

The Lord is My Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

  –Psalm 23 (KJV)

Like many others, I love the Twenty-third Psalm. I read those words about “green pastures” and “still waters” and am reminded of the free spirited fun I had spending summers at my grandparents’ farm up a dirt road hollow in Potter County. Depending on the day, I’d go off on an adventure with our neighbor, or my cousins, or even my little brother, and we’d explore the pasture, the upper meadow, or the forest, staking out our claim to territory and finding great “undiscovered” camping sites.

But some of my best memories were the times I was alone, just me and God, out for a walk. Inevitably, I’d end up stopping and sitting alongside the banks of this one little stream that cut through the pasture behind the barn. I would just sit there and watch the water bubble along on its way down the stream… knowing that, eventually, that water would end up as part of the Gulf of Mexico via the Oswayo, Allegheny, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers. It was peaceful. In the quietness of those moments, I found myself close to God and able to talk with Him and hear Him talk with me.

Summertime is here again, only now I’m more than 45 years older. And I don’t have a schedule of playing, followed by hiking and exploring. Not even sitting down by a stream. I’m adult now… I have a lot to do. I have expectations to meet for my job and my family. I don’t have the time to do that “kid” stuff… Or do I? The problem is just this: In losing the “play” time, most of us lose the quiet time… and lose the time to spend quietly with our God, as well.

The Bible is filled with times where God commands His people to rest and times that they were commanded to play!

The command to take time off and rest goes back to the Ten Commandments, requiring that one day out of every seven be spent doing no work… just resting. And if you violated that command even to go out and try to pick up extra food (the manna lying on the ground), God would see to it that that food went bad before you got to eat it. He knew that He made the human body needing rest. Even now, without proper rest and time off, our bodies still become more susceptible to disease and injury… as well as stress and burn-out.

The command to celebrate was extra-time off every so often where the people had a festival, special meals, special worship services, being together with extended family and friends that you wouldn’t get to see all the time. It renewed the mind and rejuvenated the spirit. You had something to look forward to once again, no matter how tough the year might have been.

This summer, let’s schedule in some time to rest and to play… the way God meant for us to do. Time off to relax and connect with God again and also time deliberately spent reconnecting with the people He’s put in our lives… our families… at home and at church.

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Filed under Church Leadership, holidays, Newsletter, sabbath

Can I help you?

As a pastor for the past 21 years, I would LOVE to be able to see exactly what my listeners in the congregation are thinking… and where they are in their faith journey to help steer my praying (my private praying mostly, but also the public prayers) and to guide my sermons to help where people really are. HOWEVER, we can’t see these thought bubbles in real life! We only have two resources in this: people sharing directly with the pastor about concerns, questions, and struggles, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 
Because of the Holy Spirit, we do “get it right” quite often as we follow the Spirit’s leading and “nudging.” But what JOY when people talk directly with us and we can work directly with the Spirit to meet needs, offer clarification, provide comfort, extend a listening and caring ear, and pray personally with someone. 

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Filed under Bible, Church Leadership, Grief, prayer, Reflection, Response, sermons, worship

What i WISH I heard doctors say…

In case anyone has any doubt, the following is all intended to be humourous and the answers are not endorsed by any doctors I know of…
Q: Doctor, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that’s it… don’t waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that’s like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can’t think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain…Good!

Q: Aren’t fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU’RE NOT LISTENING!!! …. Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they’re permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It’s the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! ‘Round’ is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets. AND… For those of you who watch what you eat, here’s the final word on nutrition and health. It’s a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

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Prayer Request… An Update

I appreciate everyone who has been praying for my mom. She’s actually gotten stronger… although not really better. The medical folks can’t do much… the cancer is there and she can’t tolerate the few things they know to try…

On Sunday, July 6th, I offered to lead a communion & anointing/healing service at the house when Mom was doing about her worst. I told her she could invite anyone she wanted. When the time came, there were more than 25 of us gathered around her and my step-dad Norm! We celebrated communion and then we anointed Mom (and then, Norm, as well) and laid hands on her and we prayed.

Mom has gotten stronger and stronger. Not better, but stronger. She landed back in the hospital at one point, but is back home now. In fact, her oncologist has decided that Congress ought to bring all our troops back home and just send my mom over… cause she keeps rallying and gets stronger! Nothing really seems to stop her!

We recognize that the day will have to come soon where either Jesus intervenes in some miraculous way to remove the lung cancer and its associated brain tumors, or else the cancer will finally stop Mom… or at least her body. Meanwhile, we all are enjoying the knowledge (and the experience) of seeing Mom ENJOY most of her day… almost every day… pretty much free of pain. Family from afar has been able to come. Friends and neighbors are stopping by. This part is good!

Thank you… and please continue to pray…

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Prayer Request

The doctors informed us yesterday that there was nothing more they could do for my mother at the hospital. So they released her to go home. Visiting nurses and hospice are our connection to the medical community now. The doctor thought we only had a couple hours but so far she has gotten her strength back a little. The cancer in her lung is NOT gone, and the tumors that spread to her brain have been somewhat controlled by the radiation… but it is her heart that’s doing her in. Her heart is simply racing most of the time… sort of burning her out. They tried the medicine that they use for that with other people, but then her heart rate started to have 20 to 30 second stops where the EKG was literally a straight line. So she’s at home, and she feels better just by being able to get some rest and by having family home. My brother lives close to her and his daughter, her boyfriend, and my brother’s granddaughter are all up from Demopolis, Alabama. My sister got in on Thursday from Montgomery, Alabama with her son. Josh and I are hanging out as much as possible… I’m taking vacation for a while in order to be with her as much as I can.

Please pray for a peaceful end and for healing and comfort in our family.


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Cancer Update

The day before yesterday I went for my follow-up appointment with the urologist and got the results of all the 6 month follow-up testing… just to make sure there aren’t any surprises with the cancer. RESULTS: Everything looks good! No sign of anything abnormal! YAY GOD!!!

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A Year To Be Thankful

“… So I will go about Your altar, O Lord, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works.” —Psalm 26:7 (NKJV)

At this time last year, I was oblivious to the fact that a cancerous tumor had invaded my left kidney and had already begun the process of killing me. But a sudden kidney stone attack in the other kidney forced me to the ER where a visiting urologist just happened to be on duty… and he just happened to notice a shadow on the cat scan that prompted him to do further testing. And because of several of those “just happened” kinds of moments, the surgeons were able to remove that affected kidney and effectively killed what turned out to be a rare form of kidney cancer before it ever made it out of the collecting duct tubule where it had implanted itself. We caught it so early that I didn’t even have to do chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Most of you already know that story. In fact, many of those who read this letter were actually ones who were actively praying for me as I went through this process. You prayed, you called, you visited, you wrote. And again, I thank you. You can’t possibly know how much healing came into my life and my family just through your love and care. I truly thank God for this congregation.

Now for the challenge that you look for in a reflection like this… As I remembered this past year, and all of the seeming coincidences and “just happened” kinds of moments, I marvel at how God was quietly working behind the scenes. In the same way that God sort of egged on Satan in the book of Job, and Job then endured testing and trials, I see a similarity here. Yes, God allowed Job to be tested by Satan, but only because He knew that Job could “pass the test.” Satan wasn’t permitted to lay a finger on Job until God knew for certain that Job would be able to face the trial of his faith successfully.

In the same way, it seems that somehow Satan got permission to afflict my body with that tumor… I hope I dealt with it as successfully and graciously as Job did with his trials. But it hit me… God set me up to find out about it. I shouldn’t have known it was there until a week or two before I died. And there would have been nothing I could have done at that point. But here I am. God set me up with the right doctor visiting at the right hospital at the right time to treat the presenting problem of a kidney stone AND to spot the secret tumor. Coincidence? I think not! God set me up!

I’m not the only one to experience this phenomenon, am I? I’ve heard different ones share stories about how there seemed to be coincidence after coincidence in their life, and they recognized it was simply God, behind the scenes, setting them up for blessings!

In the scripture passage above, the psalmist goes to the altar. Old Testament worship suggests that when they would go to the altar they presented a gift to God. And then, with the “voice of thanksgiving” he goes out to proclaim all the wondrous works God has done in his life. This year, I’m following the example of this psalmist. I’m making a special Thanks Offering and then going out and sharing how awesome our God is… and how much we can trust Him and lean on Him… in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.

How about you? How has God been working in your life? How can you offer Him thanks? How can you share the good news of His wondrous works? How about joining with us and giving your thanks?

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