Hello Dear Friends,
In October 2010 I was in the hospital in ICU for many days- close to death for many days. I was very sick, in great suffering, and believing I would not live. For a while I resigned myself to death. Many were praying for me. Then letters, cards, emails, and calls began to come in encouraging me to fight for life. Prophecies declared I would live and not die. Many prophesied my work for God was not completed.
So I began to come back from the dead! My daughter reminded me of the great importance for my life as it relates to family, especially the grandchildren. I began to consider how the ministry could be continued and changed as my situation was so different now. Even with the reality of dialysis and the possibility of a kidney transplant, continuing to live did not seem impossible. And as the dear intercessors cried out to God for my healing, my faith began to grow and I know God can get me through these days of great challenges.
I see three things that life and living depend on:
1. The wonder of relationships- God, family, friends and all those I love and want to spend time with. I have come to believe if I take the initiative in pursuing these relationships they will become health, strong, and enduring. My life will be greatly enriched and I will enrich the lives of others!
2. The High calling and the need to complete it. How can we think of leaving this world when our work here is not done? This work, this calling, and the wonderful joys it brings to our lives and existence truly help us to live and prosper emotionally. Just to be able to work for Him and our loved ones happiness and well being is so rewarding.
3. And then the quality of life is so very important. If we are constantly sick and depressed life surely loses all meaning! We must live, experience life, and all it has for us if we want to be balanced and fulfilled in this world. You need to go to work on that “bucket list” now and not wait until you are to sick and close to death to get it all done. Live- play, pursue your hobbies, and all you want to do but have no had the courage to go forward into these things.
Living in one or two of these realities is not enough! make time for all three, and pursue them all with enthusiasm and persistence. You have much life yet to live. I insist you start on it today!
When I was in the hospital for 33 days, somewhere early in the experience, I had a dream. The night (or day) this dream came, I woke up out of the coma I was in, in an ICU room and was totally disoriented. A young man in scrubs was in the room. So I asked him where I was and why I was there. He smiled at me and walked out of the room. I wanted to scream but what actually happened was I fell back into the coma for several more days.
It was at that point this dream came. In the dream, I was walking in beautiful green countryside and came upon a very dilapidated mobile home. I went inside into a living room , very tired, looking for a place to lie down. I found a fold-out couch bed and laid down on a worn, very dirty mattress. The only pillow on it had straps on each side. These straps turned out to work like chinese handcuffs. Soon both of my hands were trapped. About that time the man I had seen in my hospital room came into where I lay all tied up in the old pillow. I asked him to help me get loose. He looked at me and said ” no, the reason you are going through this is so you may learn restraint and submission.” There the dream ended.
Later, out of the coma and coming back from death’s door, as I began to regain my health, I asked the Lord what this dream may have meant. This is what I heard in my spirit. “Mike, how many people have you known, who leave there house at 7:00 am only to drive across town, park in a lot, walk half a mile into a building, and work in the semi-darkness for 40 years, until they are old and can live out there days in some kind of retirement?”
My answer? Many Lord- yes people who got married, raised children, paid the mortgage, and put food on the table. Working men and women, people I had spent my life pastoring and ministering to. So I again asked Him, “but why do I need to learn this lesson? I have also worked hard, even as these have?” “No, Mike,” he said “you lived these 40 years in a world where however hard you may have worked, most of the time you were free from the restraint these people lived under every day. Yes you worked hard ministering to the people, but you didn’t know the pressure daily schedules create for people. You were led by My Spirit, but if you wanted time off, you often had no one to seek permission from but Me.”
So now I go to dialysis 3 times a week for 5 hours or more. That’s the first thing on my agenda on mondays, wednesdays, and fridays. 11:00 am until 4:00 pm! and yes I am beginning to understand and learn. Until God manifest a healing in my kidneys, my life depends on this. Restraint? Submission? Yes, I am finally learning life lessons my calling and the way my calling was conducted never afforded me. I hope I will be a better man and servant of God because of it!!
As I sat in church today and observed what was going on around me, I was blessed by the open and joyous expressions of praise I saw. Of course some were much more restrained in their expression than others, which doesn’t mean they don’t love God as much as those whose hands were raised and sang joyfully to their God. But I was especially moved by those whose expression of praise was open and jubilant.
Two things come to mind. First, these people appear to be involved in a great pursuit of God that consumes their lives so that even their praise becomes part of that pursuit. Secondly, and most important, it is obvious they love God with a love that causes them to not be ashamed to praise Him.
The Bible says that men everywhere ought to praise the Lord. But some people truly praise Him while others do not. It may seem some people have more to praise about than others, but I think this has little do with it. My precious wife who sat beside me today was praising God as openly and joyfully as those around us, yet has for many years lived in pain. I personally believe that those who truly enter into praise have a joy based on their faith in God and in all the promises of the Bible.
So praise Him and seek Him. Learn the joy that comes from this pursuit. Remember that He loves you and wants you to live in the kind of walk with Him that comes out of your desire to please Him and to walk in all His ways. If you are living this way your life of victory will not be controlled by how you feel, but by your determination to follow Him and to obey Him. Give Him glory and praise. He deserves all the glory and praise!
During over 40 years of ministry I have both ministered to and attended churches off all sizes. In the process of planting and pastoring churches we have seen churches grow from 7 to 70, and 20 to 120. We have seen churches go through periods of growth numerically as well as spiritually, not necessarily at the same time. We have seen churches live and thrive. We have seen churches die!
So what is a good church? What has its size got to do with whether or not it is the church you should attend and work in? Size is neither good nor bad. In this season of life we have been told “big is better”. Do you go to the small “mom and pop” store or to Wal-mart? Do you live in a small town or in a large city?
Your choices reflect both your needs and your desires. Do you need the intimacy of a smaller congregation or the many choices a larger congregation offers? You see smaller churches and larger churches both have their strengths and their weaknesses. Building relationships and friendships may seem easier in a small church, but if you get involved in some area of service or attend small groups in a large church you can accomplish the same thing. People who do well in a small church may see a large church as merely being a place to get “lost in the crowd” while someone who attends a large church may see a small church as just having too many limitations.
You should go to a church that works for you. But if you are there simply because you like the size of the church, you may be wrongly motivated. You should be in the church God wants you in. You can do what you want or you can be obedient to the voice of The Holy Spirit. Be faithful to seek God about staying or leaving. It may be the unrest you feel has to do with change God is working in you, and it may have nothing to do with the church family you are in!
So it might or might not be time for a change of churches. These kinds of changes require much careful consideration and especially much prayer. Maybe you should “bloom where you are planted “, whether it is large or small. The most important thing is to be in the will of the Father, wherever you are attending church!
When my grandson Josh was two years old he named me “pop pop”. We had decided to be papa and mama but Josh thought differently. Thus I received a name that has affected my identity significantly. I love being called pop pop. Being a grandparent has become one of my life assignments that means very much to me. It is truly a gift from God and surely a calling. I love my grand kids and I love being their Grandpa.
The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is very special and important. I remember my own grandfather with great fondness and his effect on my life has greatly affected who I am in so many ways. Thus I take the role I have in the lives of Josh and Abby very seriously. They mean so much to Sue and I. We are so blessed to be able to be there for both of them and to interact with them on a regular basis. They live close by so we get to be with them several times a week.
I believe the reality and power of the extended family is very much in the plan of God for all of us. I am a son, a father and a Grandfather. all those roles do much to define my life and the lives of my children and my grandchildren. Wherever we are in life, single or married, no other reality than our family has affected us more. So I say to my children and my grandchildren: You will never know how much I love you and esteem you. Thank you for being in my life!!!
During a worship service in July of 2008 I heard these words about the sounds of Heaven “It is different than here in this world. When God speaks everyone will hear it clearly no matter where they are in Heaven. The sound will be controlled by how loud or quietly He speaks, not by how far away from Him you are. We will not just hear a sound but will Know what has been said. we will understand what we are hearing! There will be the speaking of words. When the instruments play we will know what they are declaring. We will know what the birds are singing. Even the wind will talk to us. There will be no resistance to sound, so we will hear without confusion or difficulty. We will hear the quietest whisper clearly, and the greatest shout will not hurt our ears. Many voices will speak at the same time, yet they will not overlap. A thousand words will be spoken at the same time, yet we will hear and understand each one. We will never again ask “what does this mean?””