Monday, April 30, 2012

All Because The First Guy Dumped Me

Only two months after the man I'd been engaged to marry in Memphis dumped me, I began participating in an online forum for disabled people interested in dating. Too soon, I know. And I knew it at the time. Rejection made me seek reassurance, perhaps, though delving into self-analysis today would be both unprofitable and a digression from the purpose of this post.

I'd returned to my mom's house in San Rafael, California. No longer working, I had nothing better to do than poke my nose into the Internet, and thus the forum for disabled singles. Somehow, I entangled myself in a discussion on when sex should be introduced into a relationship, and I posted resolutely that it should be reserved for the wedding night.

Quite predictably, my stand met with much ridicule. Little did I know, however, that a Christian  man from Boston read the exchange, admiring my commitment to purity and wondering if that commitment came from a relationship with the Lord.

Soon afterwards, I created a chat room for disabled singles. Again, not really wise so soon after my failed engagement, but there you have it. The Christian man from Boston, whose email to me had been blocked by my filters, joined the chat room...and so dominated the conversation that everybody else just slithered away to leave us alone. (We were, undoubtedly, chatting about our mutual love for Jesus, which most likely alienated people.) The conversation lasted about an hour, and ended with me hoping John would chat with me again.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Necessary Conversations

Today's plan, after church (of course) centered on watching a PBS "American Experience" program on Dolly Madison. Instead, John and I talked on the phone for quite a while. It was a difficult conversation. Necessary, and yet hopefully unnecessary for the immediate future. I imagine many people judge us as pessimists, and they very well may be correct. Yet if something goes wrong during surgery, John's final wishes should be clearly known by me, his family and our pastor.

The conversation had to happen, but it left me shaken. No way to come out of such a conversation feeling light-hearted, I suppose.

In reflecting on the less appealing possibilities John and I face, it occurs to me that I'm forgetting that there's much more to life than the brief time between cradle and grave. That's the whole point of Easter, which Christians celebrated three short weeks ago. ( my case, three very long weeks ago.) Christ physically rose from the dead, thus assuring eternal life in heaven with Him to those who entrust themselves to Him, as John has done. Faith, therefore, is less about believing that the Lord will give us our "best life now," and more about joyous anticipation of being forever with Him!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Troubled And Trusting

I read two posts that upset me this morning.

Normally, I'm upset by posts that propagate doctrinal error, or posts that extend liberty to sin while offering false assurance of "grace." And it's certainly appropriate that these misrepresentations of God's truth should disturb me. Psalm 119:136 shows David consumed with grief over people who ignore, or refuse to obey God's law, leading me to believe that Christians in fact should be troubled by our own sin and by the sin around us. I scratch my head in bewilderment that so many professing Christians feel so little discomfort with things that contradict the Word of God.

Yet the posts that troubled me this morning lined up perfectly with Scripture. One post addressed the Lord's authority to end a person's life when He sees fit, while the other reminded me that Christians find eternal life through physical death. Intellectually, I can acquiesce to His sovereignty, aware that He indeed, being both Creator and Redeemer, has every right to do with John as He wishes, but my emotions struggle to conform to what I know.

In all likelihood, of course, John will survive his surgery and beat this colon cancer. After all, the Lord so carefully arranged for him to have his heart attack right there at the hospital, and not when we were wheeling our chairs down the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Why would He preserve John's life then, only to take it six weeks later on the operating table? Both John and I find comfort in such reasoning.

No matter how the Lord chooses to work in this situation, I know He'll ultimately keep me from rejecting Him. I may, in my rebellion, falter...I have regretfully done so in much lesser trials. But I know the Bible, and consequently I know Him. Despite my emotions, I'll get through this juxtaposition of disquiet and faith, even though my victory will most likely be characteristically flawed. Since He's convinced me of Who He is, I can't stray very far from Him. Even when I'm upset.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

John's Surgery

John's surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15. Please pray that the surgeon will be particularly attentive to his special needs.

I want to be there for the second part, going either by The RIDE or by bus and Red Line. If something goes wrong, I don't want to hear it by phone. And if all goes well (as expected), I'll want to see him when he wakes up. If people could take turns waiting with me and helping me get there, I'd appreciate it.

If no one can help me get there, I still need people here. I shouldn't be alone that day! Please pray that I'll have the supprt I need.

Recycled Mirages

Reading a variety of Christian blogs, websites, Tweets and so forth can challenge long-held assumptions. Those challenges, although many times uncomfortable to the point of bordering on painful, offer perspectives that steer me away from popular notions and into more Biblical patterns of thought. Well, that's good. Sadly, few self-identified evangelicals (including yours truly, I'm ashamed to say) successfully manage to align with Scripture on all points, making it necessary for the Holy Spirit to disrupt our neatly ordered theologies with a firm dose of truth.

Yet, not all challenges are actually Holy Spirit inspired. Some even lie against the whole counsel of God by manipulating Scripture into self-serving platitudes while skillfully ignoring the portions of Scripture that provide balance. Such challenge, therefore, cause damage, not spiritual growth. The Apostle Paul, writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit, warned us to stand firm against competing theologies.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. ~~Ephesians 4:11-14 (ESV)

Contrary to teachings I heard in Charismatic, non-denominational churches, this passage does not refute the importance of doctrine. In fact, it affirms the absolute necessity of sound teaching and doctrinal purity to buffer us against deceptions. The possession of solid Biblical doctrine steadies us against the torrent of "new" fads and ideas that constantly flood pulpits, blogs and Christian books. Usually, if an idea is billed as "a fresh wave of the Spirit," you can pretty much bet that it's really a recycled mirage of Satan.

Certainly, I read some blogs today that call me to reassess a couple assumptions I've held.  Frankly, I didn't enjoy those challenges. But I respected them because they took me back to Scripture, from which I can properly analyze what I've read. In working through these matters, I must depend on the Bible in its entirety, keeping it in context with itself. Secondly, I must trust established Bible Commentaries by men who are respected and known for careful scholarship that is faithful to the Word of God. Reassessment should return me to Biblical foundations.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

That Twinkle In Her Eye...

Shelly, a very dear friend from church, came over to help me with lunch and to visit. She's always fun, and we usually laugh a lot any time we're together. Between serving on the Missions Committee with each other for the past several years and having her as a back-up Personal Care Attendant, we've gotten well acquainted.

I especially enjoy Shelly's humor. Like me, she likes a good joke. Women's Retreats, as a matter of fact, are notorious for the amazing variety of pranks she (along with a few select others) play with lima beans. In general, it's not hard to suggest something that generates that mischievous twinkle in her eye, which in turn prompts the tone of giggle that forewarns of action. Obviously, Shelly and I were destined to be friends!

Today, she left earlier than she wanted to leave, having struggled all day with a headache. Before she left, however, she offered to take a picture of me in my pantsuit to email to John. I replied regrets that we hadn't done so earlier, when I'd been wearing my hat rather than my headstick. That infamous twinkle filled her eye as she walked to the closet to retrieve my hat.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rehab Rollercoaster

When Linda Smith took me to see John yesterday, he was up in his power wheelchair, using his laptop computer, and had his ventilator strapped to his chair (working from its internal battery so he could move his chair wherever he wanted to go). He'd had a blood transfusion the day before, so his color was excellent! Since we were both in our power wheelchairs, we got to give each other a quick kiss...first time since the morning he left for his colonoscopy. It was a joyous visit as we waited for his doctor to meet with me.

The doctor was very understanding of our desire for John to return home briefly before his surgery, but explained that he'll need periodic transfusions. The colon cancer makes him bleed when he goes to the bathroom, and the blood thinners make him bleed all the more. Obviously, sending him home could risk too much blood loss, so the doctor wasn't too hopeful about him coming home till he recovers from surgery.

Not sure how I'd like people to pray. We're at once encouraged and discouraged.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Righteous Lot?

Alone in bed yesterday and incapable of answering my ringing telephone (or of dialing the phone), I wondered where my Personal Care Attendant was, and how long it would be before anybody found me. Already struggling with God over John's colon cancer/heart attack, I felt done with Him! I screamed at Him with a bitterness that made my throat feel frayed, and tried to ignore the awareness that I sinned through such irreverence.

Of course, my PCA (despite being sick with the flu) had called someone from my church, and I eventually got up. God had, once again, proven Himself faithful, even as I verbally abused Him. He knows, obviously, that I'm fearful of losing my husband and frustrated by all the changes and challenges and loss of control. But my anger, though entirely understandable, still exposed my sinfulness. I grieved that I would treat Him with such horrible disrespect.

I didn't open my Bible yesterday. But this morning I did, not quite certain I wanted to meet with the Lord, but knowing I should. The passage didn't seem relevant at first;

if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); ~~2 Peter 2:6-8 (ESV)

Righteous Lot? Humph--Genesis sure paints a different picture of the man! As a matter of fact, Genesis depicts Lot as a man sold out to his flesh, compromising with Sodom and looking out for his own interests. Yet here the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to describe him as "righteous" because he was distressed by the sin around him. 

I am righteous, in spite of all my obnoxious behavior, because the shed blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me. My audacity and arrogance were shockingly visible yesterday, but God instead saw me as being righteous, just as He declared Lot to be righteous. I praise the Lord that He looks at me and sees Christ's righteousness!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Incompatable Zodiac

I grew up reading my Bible and my horoscopes, ignoring occasional thoughts that astrology might be incompatible with Christianity. Although I hadn't yet given my life to Jesus Christ (and actually had begun checking out "really cool" religions like Buddhism and Hinduism), Jesus fascinated me enough that I felt a inexplicable sense of loyalty to Him.

Of course, my childhood church believed in a liberal theology, and viewed occult practices as benign amusements and interesting possibilities, so my youth group leaders encouraged our horoscope reading, as well as other occult and para-normal explorations. A week before my conversion to Christ, I attended a youth group snow trip during which the minister's daughter read our palms. So my interest in fortune-telling was indeed encouraged by people who were supposed to model Christian values to me.

Once I gave my life to Jesus, however, He led me to Scriptures and teachings that repudiated occulitic practices. In her article, Astrology: What It Really Is, Marcia Montenegro explains:

Astrology cannot be combined with Christian belief in any way. It is condemned explicitly in the Bible (Isaiah. 47:13-14Off-site Link), and implicitly in passages condemning divination and worshipping the heavens (Deut. 4:19Off-site Link, 17:3Off-site Link, 18:9-12Off-site Link; 2 Kings 17:16Off-site Link; Jer. 10:2Off-site Link;
Acts 7:42Off-site Link). God would not give anyone a "gift" for doing something He so clearly condemns. Attributing special meaning to planetary positions honors celestial bodies over God and is a rejection of God's commands to seek His advice (Is. 8:19-20Off-site Link; Dan. 2:27-28Off-site Link). There is no "gospel in the stars" because the zodiac is not universal and general revelation does not give the gospel. Heavenly bodies are for light, to mark time and seasons (Gen. 1:14,15Off-site Link), and the 2nd coming of Christ (Is. 13:10Off-site Link, 34:4Off-site Link; Matt. 24:29Off-site Link).  

(Sorry the Scripture links don't work, but use Bible Gateway to look them up.)

The main sin of astrology is in looking to objects of God's creation (in this case, stars and planets) rather than to Him, for understanding and guidance. Essentially, therefore, it's a subtle form of idolatry. As I write about it, I think of Scripture's brutal description of rebellious humankind.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
 ~~Romans 1:18-25 (ESV)

As Christians, we must worship the Lord Jesus Christ, His Father and the Holy Spirit as the Triune God who is jealous for His Name. Consulting horoscopes may seem like harmless recreation, but it's really a violation of the commandment not to have any gods besides Jehovah. Our God deserves our undistracted devotion, and He demands spiritual purity. Let's close the door on anything that threatens such purity.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cause To Shudder

Until 1997, I assumed most professing Christians knew astrology was a false religion, believed sexual activity was designed for monogamous heterosexual marriage, viewed the Bible as God's authoritative Word,  rejected practices like yoga and Eastern Meditation, believed in a literal heaven (and hell) and sought to live lives pleasing to God. When I first encountered evangelicals that held more liberal attitudes on these matters than I, I simultaneously felt shocked and intrigued. Could it be that God was more permissive than I'd always believed Him to be?

I hoped so. But I could never embrace such liberal theology because I knew Scripture far too well. Every time I'd so much as consider one of these deviations, the Holy Spirit would fill me with an intense awareness that I displeased Him. I just plain knew too much!

Currently, I see people falling into these various false practices. People I've known for 20, 30...even 40 years! We attended the same church in California, where we presumably received the same teaching. Admittedly, I was always more conservative in my theology than most of them, but the differences never seemed very big. Until recently.

I'm disturbed to see how liberal evangelical churches have become. Could the Great Apostasy that Jesus predicted have begun?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Saga, Chapter Now

John's settling in at New England Sinai Rehab, doing pretty well. Bob Cobbet graciously took me to see him this afternoon, and he looked much more like himself. I got him to laugh a bit, which is good. We're both more encouraged. This morning I'd felt pretty despondent, but the visit boosted my morale considerably. Please keep us in prayer, especially for sleep.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Exciting, Wonderful Prospects For John

I saw John earlier today, talked to one of his doctors and hated leaving. Just before I had to go, they told him he could  go to rehab as soon as he feels ready, and they were preparing to put him in a wheelchair. If I hadn't been at The RIDE's mercy, I would have tried to stay.

He sat in that wheelchair for an amazing three hours, even posting in his blog! So he feels ready for rehab!

He also spoke with an oncologist (finally) who says his cancer is in stage that he thinks John can have a less invasive surgery, which would, of course, be less threatening! I'm praising the Lord Jesus Christ, and want all glory to go to Him! (I'm sure John feels the same.) Please join us in praying that this less invasive surgery is really a viable option.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Progress Report On John

Yesterday, John said the hospital was looking for a rehab space, either at Braintree or Spaulding. I'm kind of hoping for Braintree, so visiting him will be easier, but if Spaulding would be better, of course I want what's best for him. He's progressing well, and is adjusting to his new ventilator. He can talk and eat more easily, though holding the phone tires his arm (that's normal). This afternoon, he'll try getting in a wheelchair!

They've begun letting him direct more of his care, which is very good. Disabled people usually understand their bodies better than nurses and doctors, as I learned during my two years as a nursing home resident, and John has a good handle on his special needs. So he's decided to wait another day before before going to rehab. Fine with me, since I'm scheduled to visit him at MGH tomorrow.

He is considering getting a second opinion about whether or not surgery is his only option in treating the colon cancer. Please pray about that. If he can avoid surgery, it certainly would be better for his breathing, but we definitely want to beat this cancer! We pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will prevail in John's life.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Bigger Cancer

John's cancer and heart  attack have turned our lives entirely inside-out, with all sorts of crazy twists, turns and complexities that dizzy me. Probably, they dizzy him even more, but I don't get to talk with him long enough to draw out his emotions, so I can speak only from my perspective. Of course, the poor man is going through a lot! I'm just not sure what his life is right now.

Actually, I'm not proposing to examine all my turmoil here either--at least not today. Instead, I want to observe that I'm beginning again to read and think about various aspects of false teaching, and how it's damaging the evangelical church. Oh, I'm still not ready to address the myriad issues and their multiple sub-topics, which will most likely keep me blogging for years, but I find it interesting that I'm once again able to study up on some of those matters, and consider them important.

My private world has ruptured, and ruptured quite profoundly. But the Church, whether it chooses to recognize it or not, is experiencing an even greater disruption. As Christians downplay the importance of doctrinal purity, making "little" compromises for the sake of "unity," we ignore a cancer far greater than John's. The apostasy doesn't stop simply because John is sick and I'm overwhelmed. Hopefully, interspersed with my personal challenges, I can write about some of this spiritual cancer. It's not stopping for John. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Two Resurrection Sunday Videos

Poking around YouTube always leads me to something interesting, and today I found two short videos to celebrate Christ's Resurrection. The fist offers an intriguing response to skeptics, with clever twists to common arguments against the Resurrection.
The second, though less entertaining perhaps, gives reasonable evidence that Jesus Christ rose physically, and that His Resurrection was indeed an historical event, again refuting arguments against it. (Yes, the music is missing, but it's not really necessary anyway.)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Encouraging Signs

The Lord is surprising us with His faithfulness! John continues to make progress, sitting up in his body jacket for two hours today and breathing without his ventilator for 30 seconds. Please pray he'll do even better tomorrow. He really wants to come home.

My missing Personal Care Attendant resurfaced last night, and came to work this morning. She had her tonsils out two weeks ago, so talking on the phone was difficult for her...and she had no Internet access. So phew!--one less stress for me.

Carol Roman and the Brookville ladies, assisted by John's cousins and a few friends from other churches, are doing quite well at caring for my practical needs. I'm very proud of my church! The Lord is bringing John and me through this ordeal. Neither of us are getting enough sleep, though, so please pray for us on that count. May all of us rejoice tomorrow as we celebrate Christ's glorious Resurrection!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Hospital And The Boat

My visit with John Wednesday night went well. He struggled some with his breathing, and was weak, but his color was good and he joked a little. I wanted to crawl up in that bed and stay with him! It was good to hold and kiss his hand.

Yesterday, neither of us had a good day. John's breathing was difficult, as he has fluid on the lungs. He sounded quite weak, though he expressed encouragement about coming home. It's unclear if he'll go to rehab first.

Meanwhile, my wheelchair battery well as my battery charger. The Lord worked a miracle through John's cousin's husband, who is neighbors with my Primary Care Physician's nurse, and I got a new battery immediately (it usually takes three weeks) that works with John's charger!

I've lost my PCA who did Wednesday evenings and alternating Saturday/Sunday mornings, so I'm feeling overwhelmed there, as I feel overwhelmed in general. I remembered Peter walking on the water with Jesus, and how he started sinking when he shifted his gaze from Jesus to the waves on the lake. As I thought about it, I realized that even though Jesus rebuked his weak faith, He still helped Peter back into the boat. Pray that John and I will trust Him to forgive our weak faith enough to let Him put us back in the boat..

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Improvements For John

I was too tired yesterday to write an update on John. Please forgive me. Instead, I wrote a very lame blog post--total waste of time!

Anyway, John's stent procedure went exceptionally well. They're about to transfer him from CCU to the pulmonary wing, where he'll get pulmonary therapy in the mornings and occupational therapy in the afternoons to get him ready to come home! Because he's on blood thinners, colon surgery will be delayed for about a month.

I am getting excellent care from John's family and especially from Brookville Baptist Church. Spending time with Brookville women has been a true blessing! The Lord has been faithful!

Linda Smith is on her way to pick me up; she's taking me up to Boston to see John. So, I need to get going. I won't be online again till after 10:30 tomorrow, so call me if anything's urgent. Thanks for your prayers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

But what?

I have no idea what this blog post will be about. John's stent is in, and he's doing well. Tired, but well. I'll get to see him tomorrow!

Readership on this blog, however, has steadily declined, and I assume my daily updates on John are to blame. The colonoscopy/heart attack happened five entire days ago, which is an eternity for blog-readers (especially those who don't know us personally). Other blogs have moved on to appease attention spans that are increasingly shortened by the immediacy of social media. I understand how people could get weary of blow-by-blow accounts of our ordeal, so I'm not faulting anybody. When it's someone else's crisis, I certainly get impatient with the frequent emails!

But what shall I write? Right now, I'm consumed with "The Problem" and all it's subsidiary issues. I'd love to blog about "Gay Christians," liberal theology in evangelical circles, insights from 2nd Peter or even about Boston's audacity to begin spring without me (such nerve, huh?), but I just can't do it. Not for long, anyway.

A friend helped me with lunch today, and we got off on a discussion about my response to another friend's unbiblical choices. Over the past few months, I'd been prayerfully considering how to confront the second friend's error, and finally felt ready to write the email when John came home with the cancer diagnosis. As we talked at lunch, the friend feeding me said, "For now, focus on John."


So what do I do with The Things That Come Out Of My Head? John's battle, while evidently getting old with readers, has only begun, and it's woven a web of spin-off issues that command lots of attention. Oh, how I yearn to use my words to "contend for the faith" again, boldly sharing Scripture that challenges the insipid ideas filtering into the church. But instead, I just sit at Jesus' feet, pleading for John and seeking His provision for myself.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hope On a Monday

Many thanks to those who are praying, sending emails and cards, and helping out/visiting! I feel well cared for! John sends his gratitude as well. Any non-Brookville Baptist Church person willing to help may call Carol at 617-947-6967 to see the times I'd need help.

I got a good night's sleep for the first time in weeks, and today I actually finished two meals. I'm feeling more confident about figuring out John's finances, and paid rent today. Linda Smith has a wheelchair van, and has agreed to take me in to see John at 5:00 either tomorrow or Wednesday.

The issues with The RIDE are two-fold. Firstly, when they take me anywhere, I must remain for an hour before pick-up for the return. John's not up to such a long visit...even with me. Secondly, when I return, the driver is required to escort me into the building, but not allowed to take me to my apartment (the must protect themselves against allegations of sexual misconduct). Because it's a shared service, the'd most likely be letting other passengers off too, so there's no way for me to predict when I'd be arriving home in order to have someone meet me. When I do begin taking The RIDE to see John, therefore, my return home will need to be well-orchestrated.

John's better today. The Lasix is getting fluid out of his body, praise the Lord. He's finally getting Abuterol for his lung congestion, so he has a little less difficulty speaking. He fantacizes about being in church for Easter, but... Anyway, he sounds good, and my get his stent tomorrow. Please keep us both in prayer. We see the Lord's faithfulness, especially through blood relatives and our Brookville Baptist Church family.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

John's Weekend

John's had a tough weekend. Yesterday, he had tremendous difficulty breathing, and thought his new ventilator was the problem.That was partially true, and his cousin brought his old daytime ventilator to him. That has helped. But now they've realized that he's retaining fluids.

The fluid problem will delay the stent. The low blood pressure required taking him off the BP med that had the diuretic. Since he's been on diuretics for over 20 years, he can't go on his own. So it's not fluid on the lungs as much as fluid build-up, which in turn presses on the lungs. They're giving him Lasix, which washes out his potassium, so they can't give him much at a time.

He's very discouraged. He wants to see me, but hopes the Lasix will have more effect so we can have a visit long enough to justify using The RIDE. (I'll write more about problems with The RIDE tomorrow.) I long to see him, and feel a little jealous that other family members have gone in.

But what a blessing it was for me to attend church today!


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