Archive for September, 2007

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Will You Be My Friend?

I have joined Facebook! My kids were shocked that I took such a radical step into their world. Caleb wrote on my wall (A wall, as I’m learning, is a place to post comments), “HAHA my dad is on facebook… :) love ya tons.” Sarah wrote “Yeah! You are in! Love you tons! Gotta go, the kids are coming!” FellowVillage Missionary and Facebook denizen, Linda, wrote, “Wow, I didn’t think you would have a facebook! Suprise! I did it to keep in touch with my kids. Love the pictures.” I don’t want to think too much about why she is surprised as it probably has something to do with my age and demeanor or?

 

In Facebook, you ask people if they will be your friend. Once they are your friend you have access to their page and they have access to your page. They are your friend! I have to admit that it chillingly brings me back to High School when I didn’t seem very good at collecting friends, especially if they were popular. What if I asked people to be my friends and no one said yes?

Well, why join Facebook? It is the same answer why to have a blog. In typical Baby Boomer fashion, I am looking for ways to get the word out about Village Missions and possibly share Christ. The younger folks on Facebook seem to be there to simply network with one another and share their life with one another. Because I am there with a purpose, I will always be somewhat of an outsider. Real purpose for using Facebook will probably eventually ruin its original genius.

But I am passionate about the cause of moving country churches toward spiritual vitality and do want to connect with anyone who might be interested in the same cause. And I want to interest others in the wonderful potential that exists in country communities for, of all things, networking. Only it is networking with a face and not a book! Going to my Facebook to see who is there is like going to Dal-Rae’s High Country Café in Red Feather Lakes and visiting with the many people you know. Actual face to actual face, longing to introduce them to the One who came to this world to be face to face with us and to die on the cross so that we could be face to face with Him forever. The Bible speaks about it this way:

1 John 3:2: Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. NASB

So I’m looking for faces who can see the great need and the great potential that exists in rural churches. Will you be my friend?

Before you decide, you might want to watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy2US37-6R8


Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Wonderful Encouragement

This blog is under construction so that soon people will be able to post comments directly. I received this wonderful e-mail from retired Village Missionary Jim Scanlon. Jim and Delores will soon be serving in Friant, CA as Associates.  Our Associate Program allows retired missionaries or even layman to serve our churches on an interim basis while the church waits for permanent leadership. To learn more http://www.village-missions.org/serve/ministry-associate.php

Here is the e-mail:

My Dear Brother
Read you comments in Country Matters with great interest. As another who has been blessed with prostate cancer, your comments were great.

You, as was I, are very fortunate to have your cancer found early. That is the most important part of detection, getting it early. Seems to me that, as you  said, far too many of our missionaries are neglecting their health. Some are just suffering from some “macho” attitude about going to a doctor. Some may have a form of thinking that says they are too busy to get a physical and neglect their duties, even for a few hours. I suspect that many of these are the ones who never take a day off and are reluctant to take vacation. I know, Brian, that you can’t force them, only encourage. However, they need to get it done before it is too late.

When my cancer was detected my urologist, Dr. Fawcett if that isn’t a hoot, gave me some good recommendations. The first one was not to worry. I wasn’t worried, concerned, but knew the whole thing was in the Lord’s hands. He also told me to get as many second opinions as I needed. I spent nearly two hours with a cancer specialist who was part of the team that developed the seed treatment. His advice to me, based on my age and the size of the cancer, was to have the prostate removed. He reasoned that if I had the seeds and the cancer returned the surgery would be complicated by the burning the seeds do.

It has been seven years since my surgery and the PSA reading at my most recent blood test, last Friday, was still >.1. Doesn’t get any lower than  that.

I was fortunate in that I never had any incontinence or other problems. The hardest part was wearing a catheter for several weeks. Of, course, you have Mike in the office next to you who is a great source for information on the latest methods.

Brian, in any cancer, you suffer alone. Yes, Carole your children, family and friends are there with you and hurting for you. However, it is Brian that faces the treatments and the future as a cancer survivor. As you well know, the LORD is your strength and your shield, and HE will see you through this trial, as he has others in the past. The difference is that this time it is something that was beyond your control and HE can use it to bring Glory to Himself as you turn your cancer in to a positive event for His use and glory. If you haven’t read it yet, John Piper wrote a wonderful short essay when he found he had prostate cancer. I believe it is on his web site.

In the time prior to my surgery Delores and our family and friends were a great support to me. No one dwelt on the issue, but the concern and love was very evident. After the surgery De was my number one nurse, physical therapist and guide in my life. Without her at my side it would have been very difficult. I don’t think I have ever prayed as much as I did in those months and continue to give thanks to our Loving Father for His watch care over me and His showering De with His love.

We are anticipating a good report concerning the decision you make for treatment and for the eradication of the cancer, no matter what form of treatment you follow.
We will be praying for you and Carole during this trying time.

In HIS Love
Jim & De Scanlon


Monday, September 17th, 2007

Much More Than E-Fundraising

Recently I attended probably one of the best seminars I have ever attended (no hyperbole) sponsored by Mission Increase Foundation.  Presented by Eric Foley, the title was “e-Fundraising” but the seminar was so much more than that.  It really was an introduction to Web 2.0, the social networking phenomenon that is taking place on the web and the implications for Christian organizations.

As Eric gave his presentation, I found myself thinking of the extraordinary implications these developments have.  The tag line, “You can’t just stick an ‘E’ on what you already got” has implications for recruiting, for our interaction with the churches we serve, for pastoral ministry in general.

I also thought about rural ministry—talk about networking in a small town!  It may not be with all like-minded individuals or with all people committed to a cause but most often they are committed to a place.  And you get to see them face-to-face!  Rural pastors have the wonderful opportunity to build relationships with a “web” of people, many of whom don’t know Christ.


Monday, September 17th, 2007

On Having Cancer

I am writing this article while on vacation at Russ Wayland’s wonderful cabin in northern Washington called the “Refuge.”  Two days ago, I learned that I have prostate cancer.  I have not met with the doctor in person yet.  He told me on the phone that it was a small, non-aggressive form of cancer.  I still do not know what type of treatment will be necessary.

In writing about my cancer, I certainly do not want to over-dramatize it in any way.  Prostate cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer and mine has been detected very early.  Years ago, I visited a young farmer in his thirties named Ellis in the hospital.  He was the sole worker on his farm, he had several children, and he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.  His diagnosis and prognosis was so much more threatening than mine was.  Ellis bore striking testimony to God’s grace until several months later when he was ushered into heaven.  I think of others I have known and ministered to who died of more serious forms of cancer and throughout gave testimony to the sufficiency of Christ.  Many of our own Village Missionaries have battled and are battling truly serious forms of cancer.  No, my form of cancer is a very small this and I would not have you think otherwise.

In addition, if you would label this a tragedy, which for many reasons it is not, it is a small tragedy indeed.  I think of Gayle Warner from our church in Red Feather Lakes, CO.  Her husband Charlie pulled out in front of oncoming traffic.  Charlie was killed instantly and Gayle was severely hurt.  I arrived at the hospital just as Gayle was being wheeled to the x-ray room.  The nurse stopped the gurney for me and I had prayer.  Then Gayle said to me, in her pain and in her sorrow, “God doesn’t make mistakes!”  Gayle responded with faith and grace in a hugely bigger trial than my own.

Having any form of cancer, however, has caused me to reflect, especially on the reality of Jesus Christ.  I have dug deeper into several truths about Him that perhaps would not be quite as meaningful for me in a time of health.  It says of David after receiving news of Ziklag that “David strengthened himself in the Lord His God.”  I would like to share some of the ways God has strengthened me in the hopes that they might help someone.

Before I do so, I do want to remind the mission family of the importance of regular physicals.  My elevated P.S.A. level was discovered through the blood work done at staff conference.  Having a regular physical has made the difference between detecting my cancer at a very early stage and perhaps not detecting it at all until it had spread outside the prostate.  Occasionally I hear of missionaries (sometimes from upset and frightened wives) that they refuse to have a physical.  I cannot begin to grasp the thinking behind this or the danger inherent in this.  If Paul warned Timothy to take precautions about his frequent stomach ailments, certainly there is wisdom in taking precautions about our health.  God has given doctors today the ability to address problems before they become too serious.  If we love those around us, we ought to be wisely taking care of our health.

Well, I only have space for one spiritual strengthening.  For me, it is by far the strongest.  It is that God has already shown me unbelievable mercy and grace by saving me.  We think of many passages of Scripture that express this truth but perhaps one of the clearest is Ephesians 2:4-6: 


4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  (NASB)
 

By any measure, God could have justifiably regarded me with holy wrath for my sin. I more than deserved it.  Instead, He chose to expend that holy wrath for my transgressions on His Son.  He did so that He could justly justify me (Rom. 3:26).  However, God did so much more than merely forgive my sin.  He made me alive with Christ and He seated me with Him in the heavenly places.  He made me a forever object of the surpassing riches of His grace.

Doing what He has done for us in Christ is so much more than we deserve.  If, after trusting Christ as Savior in 1972, my life was nothing but disaster and disease piled upon disaster and disease, that still would not in any way detract from God’s extravagant grace.  It is just too extravagant—too amazing—too bountiful!  To be mad at God or question God now would be like a son who received a $5,000,000 inheritance questioning why he also didn’t receive an old shoe!

The joy of trials like these is that in some ways they provide the black backdrop that makes God’s extravagant grace shine even brighter.

More spiritual strengthening next time.


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