3.12.2005

An now for something totally different. We lost three saints this week within four days. All of them were up in years and had lived full lives. All of them knew God. All of them were ready to pass through the curtain of death. We have been praying for all of them and we feel that our prayers have been answered.

We have also been praying for another woman in our church. Her name is Connie. She is married and has two young children. She was diagnosed a few months ago with a rare form of cancer, from which a very small percentage survive. New forms and older forms of cancer treatment had not worked. The tumor had not shrunk. The surgery to remove the tumor was on Wednesday and we were all praying for success. There was the possibility that she might have lost a kidney, part of her pancreas and part of her bowel. There was also concern that the tumor might have attached to her aorta.

Many of us gathered around her after worship last Sunday. I anointed her with oil and we prayed for healing, strength and comfort for her and her family.

The surgeons went in Wednesday and discovered that they were able to take all of the tumor with "clear margins" between the tumor all her internal organs, except for the aorta. And they were able to "peel" the tumor away from the aorta, get it all and give her a radiation treatment. The whole thing went as well as it could have. The only thing that would have made it any better was if they had opened her up and discovered no tumor at all.

We have had four prayers answered this week. Praise be to God!

3.10.2005

People worry about you when you blog, sometimes, when you blog about what's happening in life; when you are honest. It's nice to have people worry about you. But it's also nice to let people know when God steps in and brings order and healing and peace. He has done that for me since my last blog. It was a good and powerful experience for me to be shown how someone else might see me. Painful, but good and productive. No worries.

My hope is that I would be more self-aware in my conversations and life with others, that I would be more ready than others to perceive who I am and/or how I might appear. May it not become an unhealthy, overly self-critical awareness, but honest, nonetheless. And may this experiment in blogging never become a form of spiritual exhibitionism. Readers, be honest with me in this, please. If I am sinking to that level, please tell me. I can think of few things more arrogant than thinking that everyone is that interested in my spiritual struggles. With every word I type I feel I am straying dangerously close to the precipice of pride.

3.09.2005

Have you ever come face to face with how someone else perceives you and discovered that what they perceive is ugly and not something you would ever seek or claim? I have, many times I'm sure, but two times come leaping to mind. One was in college. One was last night.

I don't want to talk about last night as I am seeking to honor what others might see and think if they read this (see earlier entries). But talking about college may be helpful.

In my joking way I said something I thought was silliness to a fellow (female) student and friend, that was taken entirely differently by her boyfriend. Let's just say that, in hindsight, it was a bit flirtatious and suggestive. I honestly did not perceive what I said as that "wrong" at the time, but once I heard what her boyfriend had to say to me, let's just say that I saw things differently. I saw myself differently. And I was ashamed.

That was a profoundly humbling experience for me. It was is if I came face to face with the real me, the me that I wanted crucified with Christ (and thought had been already). I lost a certain swagger in my walk that day. I lost a bit of self-deception, too. What I don't know is if what happened last night is of the same variety. Was the ugly, proud, controlling person someone else saw in me, actually me?

I hope not. But I do knnow this. Regardless of what I hope, what this person saw in me was not wholly an illusion. There was, I am sure, some measure of truth in the perception, maybe more than I would like there to be.

3.06.2005

I have admitted that I am concerned that what I write not offend or fail to take into consideration the feelings of those who are a part of the church I pastor. On the one hand, as others have said, blogging should be free enough to allow the writer to write whatever he or she feels the need to write. On the other, aren't we all called to consider the weight of our words on others? Aren't we all called to love others enough not to say insulting things to them or about them, to "filter" what we say in a way that adheres to the "rule of love"? Whether we are pastors or not, are we not called to speak words carefully, write words fashioned by grace? Shouldn't blogging fall under the same "rules" of civility and faithful living as does careless conversation or gossip?

One of my problems is that I have sometimes used this forum to express frustration and anger over life and ministry. Perhaps that is not fair. In fact, I'm sure it's not. To do so is to use the power this space offers me in an irresponsible way, I think. God grant me the discipline of loving others, even here. Amen.

3.04.2005

I have not blogged in ages. Actually, it was a God thing. I sensed, back in October, that God was telling me to stop for a time. I was spending too much time worrying about what others were reading and not enough time on what I needed to say. I think I'll give it another try.

I make no promises as to how often I will try, but I will try.

What is it about writing that I miss when I don't do it? It is process and creativity and freedom of expression. As a pastor that "freedom of expression" part is frightening. Must I always be aware that others in my church might see or misunderstand my thoughts? Does that hinder me? Yes. But I suppose that is part and parcel of what it means to do what I do. I mean, every week, as I write sermons or articles, I am always asking how this will be heard or interpreted. How do I not do that on a blog? Should I?