Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Servant Heart

I was looking at John 4:34 a few moments ago:

"Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."

What sustained and nourished our Lord during His earthly sojourn was simply to faithfully perform that which had been marked out for Him by His father. That reminds us that "it is only through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Something You Should Know: A Special Announcement

Last Sunday I announced to our local congregation (and those joining us via the internet) that I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I’ve been watching my PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels the past four or five years, have had two biopsies, the last one was in June and came up positive.

Fortunately this has been caught at an early stage and the prognosis for successful treatment is good. I have had a battery of tests and the doctors have settled on surgically implanting a radiated pellet into the tumor, intending, of course, to kill the cancer cells. This procedure is scheduled for October 29.

For some time I have been making nutritional/natural based efforts to deal with this and will continue with these approaches. Cancer is a sly enemy, so we are seeking to cover all the bases, both to eliminate the immediate threat and militate against future reoccurrences.

Times like these demonstrate the “family” aspect of our work. I appreciate the outpouring of concern, prayers and support for me, for my family and for the ministry we share together. Two things I would like to emphasis in that regard:

First, lets make sure that every man over 50 gets a regular PSA test. Prostate cancer is a leading killer of men; it is far more dangerous when it manifests in your 50’s and it is most often successfully treated when caught early. So, get tested!

On a personally level, one of the greatest things you can do is to continue your support of our work both at Shorewood and Grace Impact Ministries. I expect to continue for the present with a full schedule of ministry and travel. Your partnership is a needed and heartfelt encouragement.

I have lived in the grip and proclaimed the riches of God’s wonderful grace for well over four decades, and this will be another opportunity to enjoy the sufficiency of that grace and the power of God’s Word to sustain and give victory in all things (II Cor. 4:7-18).

You can listen to my Sunday morning message on “God’s Word In the Face of Cancer” at the site. I’ll be in Oregon next week for the conference there but will be back at Shorewood on September 30 and will conclude that message then. I hope these studies will encourage and challenge you. From time to time, I’ll have more to say about life with cancer.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Touching Conclusion To A Tough Week

Last week was a whirlwind of activity. It began with a good day at Shorewood on Sunday. I finished a four part series on Music in the morning and continued with Galatians 5 in the evening. We had good attendance in all our services with meetings of various types taking place all afternoon. The beginning of the school year gets most folks back into life's "normal" routine.

By the way: our services are now videocast live over Using Media Player allows for full screened viewing—you can actually read the chalk board!—and include the whole service: music, announcements and all!

Monday I worked on radio and prepared for TV taping and the upcoming weekend conference. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in Detroit doing TV. One special treat was an unexpected (but genuinely welcomed) opportunity to take a short boat ride down the Detroit River.

We traveled the striking Detroit River front as far south as the Ambassador Bridge, circled Belle Island and ventured out into the edge of Lake St. Claire. The weather was perfect, the water smooth and the fellowship with Greg (whose boat we were on), Leon (who arranged the trip) and Tom (who is always a gracious host while I’m there) was truly refreshing. I appreciated it more than I could say. I have a special love for the water and boating. Greg’s 30-foot Sea Ray was a perfect ride!!

When I arrived home Wednesday afternoon—about an hour late due to flight delays—I had a message that Lynn Syer had departed to be with Christ. She had been ill for several years, and although still a relatively young mother, her death was not unexpected. We were destined to have an exceptionally blessed memorial service—I’ll get to that in a moment.

That evening I taught Luke 24 and had an intense counseling session with a trouble couple. And then, finally, Cynthia and I were able to go home and say hello!

Thursday morning Allen and Teresa Leach arrived from Pennsylvania by train. We picked them up at Union station—after their train was delayed over an hour (proving that flying isn’t the only place delays occur)—had lunch at one of our favorite downtown places, Ed Debevic’s, and then made our way home to prepare for the trip to the Ridge Farm conference.

Did I mention that in the midst of all this we are remodeling our master bedroom and bath? The demolition is complete and our house is thus in general disarray. Finding our cloths, shoes—even toothbrush—has turned into a real challenge! Friday morning we were at several home supply stores trying to decide on fixtures, etc. for the project. In the afternoon we drove south to central Illinois.

The meeting at Ridge Farm Bible Church is the longest continuous running conference I participate in. I started going there in early 1980’s and have continued till now. It is always the weekend after Labor Day and folks come from a wide area to enjoy an in-depth weekend in the Word. Morris Chesnut has led this assembly from its beginning and it is good to see the fruit of his faithfulness to the Word rightly divided.

After the Saturday evening meeting we drove home in order to be at Shorewood on Sunday. I taught Colossians 3:17 in the morning and continued Galatians 5 in the evening, but it was the afternoon that held the real excitement.

After Lynn Syer’s home going, it was her 10-year-old son who called to give us the news. Neither Cynthia nor I were home Wednesday morning to take the call so he left a message on our answering machine: “Hello, this is John. I wanted to tell you that my mom when to heaven this morning at 9:33. We are alright. It’s hard, but I’m ok.”

Needless to say, that message melted our hearts!! When we meet on Sunday afternoon for the memorial service, it was touching to see an extra large host of friends gather to pay tribute to Lynn and offer encouragement to her husband, John, her children, Katie and Little John, and her siblings. I had the opportunity to share the gospel with great liberty and the crowd gave close attention. I closed by quoting Little John’s message on our answering machine. There weren’t many dry eyes at that point! Lynn’s memorial turned into a time of great rejoicing and a grand testimony to “life in Christ Jesus.”

Lynn was an endearing person, but mostly she was an enduring saint. Having suffered one devastating illness after another over the past 7+ years, she continued to rejoice in the Lord in spite of “present sufferings.” Just a few days before her death we had rejoiced together over Romans 8:18; she genuinely looked forward to the “glory that shall be revealed in us,” and was a living demonstration of the excellency of the power of God’s Word to strengthened us by His Spirit our inner man “unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.”

We closed the service with the gospel song,

Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know ‘thus saith the Lord!’

Amen! It’s times like these that make “the care of the church” a benediction rather than a burden.