Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why Are You So Happy?

Since, I’m a pastor, I’m often in the hospital. Not because I’m sick, but because I’m visiting people who are. It’s not a very “fun” place to visit, but I’m reminded that we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice and sorrow with those who sorrow” so I visit as often as I can. One time, while visiting, I stopped by the cafeteria. There was a drinking fountain there so I leaned down to get a drink, but just as I did the water squirted into my face instead of my mouth. As I stood there wiping water off my face, someone, thinking I was wiping away tears, stopped to see if they could help. I was a little embarrassed but humbled to think that someone I didn’t even know cared.

Another time I was in the cafeteria getting carry-out. (I guess I love cafeteria food). While checking out the cashier said you must be going to the sixth floor.” I said, “you’re right, how did you know?” She said, “because, nobody else is happy.” I was happy and I was going to the sixth floor, because I was going to eat with my wife and our son who was just born.

This past Friday I stopped by to visit with Sandi and her family and entourage of friends who were all waiting with her during Stef’s surgery. (That could be another story, but we’ll save that for later). While there we got the good news that they were able to remove a major amount of the cancer including a tumor the size of a soft ball without having to remove any part of the colon or intestine. We stopped then and there to thank God for answered prayer. I know God can do anything he chooses and whatever he does is “good”, but once in a while it’s good to “rejoice with those who rejoice as well as sorrow with those who sorrow.” Keep praying for Stef and for Sandi and their precious children. It’s good news but their journey is far from over.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Answered Prayer

Yesterday I asked you to pray, to pray for our friends Sepf and Sandi. Yesterday Stef went though the surgery of a lifetime. The results were better than we could have imagined, or dared dream. How we thank God who is as the prophet Nahum says, "a good God who remembers those that put their trust in Him." Nahum 1:7 Check out the full report copied from his blog written by his wife.

Hi, it’s Sandi filling in for Stef–

Wow! What a day this has been. Actually, what a journey these past three months have been. We have been awaiting this day for some time now. We waited with both fear and excitement. We had a fear of the unknown because we didn’t know for sure what they would be doing once they opened Stef up, and we had excitement because of the possibilities of this surgery. We definitely saw what God can do. I do have to thank our amazing support system also. We have so many amazing friends and family who shared of their time with us over the last few days. Some dear girl friends of mine had me up for lunch yesterday and a time of prayer. Last night, some friends of Stef’s came to our house to pray with Stef. Today, we had some wonderful people sit with me at the hospital to help pass those long hours. A wonderful friend of Stef’s was there, seven of my friends sat with me and kept my mind off of things, my mom and dad, my sister, one of my brothers and his family, my niece and her boyfriend, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, a dear friend to both of us, and our pastor all were there for part of the process or the duration of the surgery to support us. Stef finally made it into the OR around 10 am. He went to recovery at 3pm. He then made it up to his room at 545pm. I talked to the surgeon and he said things went better than he expected. The cancer did not seem to be as extensive as he thought. We ARE still dealing with Stage 4 cancer, so please continue to hold us up in prayer. Our journey is far from over. However, the surgeon feels that he was able to remove about 90% of the cancer. He only had to remove the omentum (the sheet like drape that hangs down from the transverse colon) and the sigmoid colon (a small portion of the large colon where the largest tumor was). He was able to “peel” the cancer from the bladder and stomach, so those things did not have to be really messed with. He did remove some other tumors throughout the abdomen as well. We are so thankful for this remarkable answer to prayer. I was able to see Stef around 615pm and he was doing well. He knew about the outcome of the surgery and was so excited about this good news. I just want to thank all you who prayed for us and remembered us today as we took this path towards full healing today. Please remember to continue to pray as this is far from over. We still covet your prayers. Stef will need much strength and encouragement over the next days and weeks AND months. Please continue to check in on him. We love that. It reminds us that someone was thinking of us. I will try to keep everyone updated as to his progress until he can take over. Thanks again for all the love and support and prayer. We truly serve a God of miracles. Good night!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who Will Carry You?,,

Some day all of us will need someone to carry us. We'll be in a place where like the paralytic in Luke 5, he needed friends to carry him to Jesus. Well my fellow "journeyman" Stef is there now. He needs his friends, to carry him, maybe not literally but figuatively to Jesus. If you are not familiar with Stef, he is an incredible man of God, with an incredible wife (Sandi), incredible children, (Derek, Justin and Carley) and an incredibile faith.

Four months ago he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Tomorrow he will be undergoing a 9-10 hour surgery to try to remove as much of the cancer as possible. If you would like to know more about Stef, his journey and his family, you can check out his blog at http://tarapchak.wordpress.com. But for now, I want as many people who can to pray for him and Sandi and the rest of their family as he takes this next step on the journey.

His favorite verse on the journey has been Isaiah 43:2-5 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they wil not sweep over you. When you walk thought the fire, you wil not be burned, . . . for I am with you." I know God is with him, but my prayer is that he and everyone around him would sense the presence of God in a powerful way both during and after surgery! On the journey with you bro!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Welcome Home Jacob!

Did you happen to read or hear the story last week about a severely autistic boy who got lost in the woods of West Virginia? His name was Jacob. He wondered away from his parents and younger brother while hiking in the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area of the Monongahela National Forest last Sunday and wasn’t found until the following Thursday.

Hundreds of volunteers and trained professionals had been combing the woods, calling for him to come to them for candy bars, ice cream and other food. Jacob who is 18 years old is nonverbal and has the mental capacity of a 3 of 4 year old which made it even more difficult for him to be found. “Finding him was like finding a needle in a haystack”, said one of the rescuers. His family credits God and their faith for getting them through this ordeal. Jacob is in good condition and after a night in the hospital he is home with his family.

Strangely enough Jacob and his family belong to the Chestnut Ridge Community Church, in Morgantown West Virginia, the very church we attended with friends this past Sunday. Thus on Sunday we got to witness a Celebration of Jacob’s Return! Appropriately the message that morning was taken from Matthew 18 and the parable of the Lost Sheep. In this story Jesus reminds his disciples that every single life matters. Jesus doesn’t want anyone to be lost and neither should we.

  1. A lost life is worth looking for, even those that wander away. I wonder how many times we’ve written people off just because they wandered away. Maybe they failed morally or simply disappointed or let us down. When they do that our tendency is to leave them alone and not to go after them but to let them come back to us. Jesus said, “ If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety –nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? “ Matthew 18:12
  2. Second, it takes reprioritizing our life and leaving the things we think are important to find someone who is lost. Hundreds of volunteers including the Governor of West Virginia put everything aside to look for Jacob. No doubt they had plenty of other things they could do but for those four days they put away everything else and risked their own lives to hunt for someone they didn’t even know or wasn’t part of their family.
  3. Third, finding someone who was lost is worth celebrating. The church put aside everything else they were planning to do that Sunday to celebrate, to celebrate the fact that Jacob was found. Sometimes we don’t take the time to celebrate enough. God is good, he’s good all the time and he deserves our praise but sometimes we don’t stop long enough to celebrate his goodness. “And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.” Matthew 18: 13

How about you? Do you know someone who has wandered away? I bet you do? How are you treating them? Jacob couldn’t rescue himself and most lost people can’t rescue themselves either. What Jacob needed was actually a group of people who were willing to do everything they could to rescue him, after all isn’t that what Jesus did for us.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A-maize-ing Blue!

It wasn't so bad wearing "maize & blue" for the weekend, especially since both "maize & blue" teams I was cheering for won. Matt scored the winning goal for the Cedarville Yellow Jackets and WVU won over Mississippi State.

I will be wearing my "maize & blue" at least a few more times as Cedarville finishes their regular season with games against Urbana University and Houghton College and hopefully tournament play.

Go Jackets!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Go Blue?

So now that I have your attention, why would a Scarlet and Gray fan ever even think of wearing Maize and Blue. Because Maize and Blue are also the team colors for Cedarville University and West Virginia University. Those are both teams we are going to be rooting for this weekend. Our son plays soccer for Cedarville and they are playing Kings College in Bristol Tennessee, so we are going down to see the game. I can't tell you which son or I'd owe him a dollar. (It's an arrangement I had with the boys when they were young, so they wouldn't dread it when I mentioned their name)

On the way home we're stopping in Morgantown to visit some "old friends" and go to a West Virginia game. I don't see how it can compare to a game at "the shoe" but, it'll still be fun because we are going with friends. So in spite of the fact that Maize and Blue are also the colors of the team up north (ie Michigan), those are the colors I'll be wearing this weekend. So go blue! At least this weekend.

P.S. His name is Matthew. Tim is going to Michigan for fall break and Jonathan is coming up from Charlotte to see his brother's game while Ben has to stay home to work. Oops. . . now I owe them all a dollar.

Monday, October 15, 2007

No Longer Servants, but Friends

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his mater’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I leaned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:14,15

Last weekend I listened to a message by Tim Keller. In it he talked about spiritual friendships. He said that spiritual friendships are all about sharing, sharing feelings, sharing things, sharing faith, and sharing decisions. What is amazing is to notice that that is exactly what Jesus did with his disciples. These are not men who are in essence his equals, after all he is God, but men whom he lets into his life. He shares with them his feelings, his things, his faith, and his decisions, "for EVERYTHING that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.” It’s the “everything” that takes me back. Is there anyone who knows everything about you or are you holding things back, afraid that people will be surprised or worse that they will reject you. Jesus shared everything with his disciples and thus he called them friends. If you lack friends today maybe it’s because you are not sharing your feelings, things, faith and decisions.

More than anything, I think Satan's plan is to get Christians to live in isolation to one another, ie "to divide and conquer". The early church shared everything with each other. (Acts 4:32) They had to, or otherwise they would have starved. I wonder if God in His sovereignty might allow us to be put in a position where we are "forced" to share everything. Maybe then we will know true spiritual friendship.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

We'll Never be Broke

This past week Carol and I “celebrated” the 37th year anniversary of our “first date.” Yup, we were only three! Just kidding, we were actually seniors at West High School. But did you know she actually asked me out on our first date? That’s because she was on the Homecoming Court and she needed an escort so she chose me and I’m glad she did! Eventually we got married and now thirty four years and four boys later we still love being together. Anyway in reflecting over the years this week, I dug up from the basement a scrapbook she made of our senior year. It’s filled with a whole bunch of memorabilia but at the very end of it I found a dollar. I remember putting it in there and thinking, “this way should we ever get married, we’ll never be broke.”

Well, truth is a dollar won’t go very far. It didn’t then and it certainly won’t now, but when I saw it I was reminded of how rich I am, not because of the dollar, but because I have Carol for my wife. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife, finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” Well I have been truly “favored” and so even if we go broke, I will still be a rich man because I have her!