Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Secure In God's Hands

I wonder how many times have I read Psalm 39 in the past 57 years? Today it jumped off the page at me:
(Psalms 39:4–5) “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
The last time I was reading through the Psalms I had no idea that I had a terminal illness already at work in my body. I could read these verses with a sort of detachment. I knew that life was fleeting and unpredictable. I knew that my death was out there somewhere in the future and that there was some disease or accident that would bring it to me. But back then my knowledge of these things was unfocused, general, impersonal, and vague.

Nowadays the perspective of these verses is constantly with me. The Psalmist's prayer has been answered for me. The mission is accomplished! Day by day I can't seem to avoiding thinking about "my end and the measure of my days." I have a very acute sense of how fleeting I am! 

But I don't want to go over the edge here. I want to benefit from this new perspective, not be smothered by it. I'm not dead yet and there are important things to be done before I go.

Nothing has really changed. The measure of my days was the same before my diagnosis as it is now. My days are in God's hands. He is the one who determines how long I will live on this earth. God might let me live longer than the average myelofibrosis patient. He might allow the development of a new treatment in time to rescue me. God might also take me to heaven some other way before my disease progresses at all.

My life is in God's hands. It has always been in God's hands. Nothing has changed. Same God - same hands - same plan he has for me. 

This is just where I want to be!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Atheist Mega-Churches?

That certainly caught my eye. "Atheist Mega-Churches Take Root Across US, World."

The facts as revealed in the article don't quite live up to the billing. Two British comedians have organized what they call "Sunday Assemblies" of atheists participating in what looks something like modern mega-church gatherings. They are on a "40 dates, 40 nights" tour across the USA and Australia. They hope to raise $800,000.00 to help start other Sunday Assemblies.
Hundreds of atheists and atheist-curious packed into a Hollywood auditorium for a boisterous service filled with live music, moments of reflection, an "inspirational talk" about forgotten - but important - inventors and scientists and some stand-up comedy.
All of these Sunday Assemblies together would not add up to a single "mega-church." I think that they used the term to reflect the relaxed atmosphere of many contemporary churches.

Supposedly these meetings will appeal to people who do not share Christian belief, but who miss the community and celebration of the church services. I have my doubts. I think they are just having fun mocking Christian churches. They are effectively saying, "See - we can even have church without God. So there!" (I wonder what would happen if they tried a mosque version of this?)

The article says they "don't bash believers but want to find a new way to meet likeminded people, engage in community and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith." I believe it is just a stunt - and maybe a way for two British comedians to make a living. There is no particular statement of faith that they are agreed on - so their views are quite diverse. There is no clear basis for people to commit to continued attendance, participation and support of these groups.

There are already plenty of churches that don't believe in God (e.g., Unitarian Universalist). There are already secular community service groups like the Kiwanis, Rotary, Lion's Club, etc. Atheists could find plenty of companionship and community in any of these. But they wouldn't be making fun of the Christians.

Ironically, many atheists are offended by the Sunday Assemblies because they argue that atheism is not a religion.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Truly Thankful

As we were singing songs of praise, thanksgiving and worship in church last night, I was overwhelmed with the conviction that I need to do more than stoically endure the myelofibrosis that has come into my life. I need to be truly thankful for it.

This deadly disease is not "bad luck" that I should resent. It is not the result of bad decisions or past actions that I should regret. Having myelofibrosis is not a result of the world running amok that I should fear. It is not an abandonment by God or a withdrawing of his blessings.

I believe that God is in perfect control and takes a personal interest in my life. He will never leave me or forsake me. He has promised that all things work together for good to those who love him. He has said that nothing can separate me from his love for me in Christ.

I want to see my disease as a special privilege from God.

  • A perspective on life that not everyone gets to see.
  • An opportunity for ministry that not everyone gets to have.
  • A challenge to meet that not everyone gets to try.

I see the Lord using this to deepen me and stretch me. In this he can teach me lessons I could not learn any other way.

Jesus loves me.

For this I can be truly thankful.