What Would Church Look Like…

What would church look like, specifically your church, my church, any church, if it ran more like a hospital and less like a church?

Now, I don’t mean church in the sense of the Body of Christ, a Fellowship Of Believers, not the Biblical mandate for the church, but what some churches have become.  An exclusive club, a place where if you come in from the outside you can feel awkward, or not accepted, left out in the cold, sometimes, not even spoken to!  Oh yes, this still happens, it happened to someone I know quite well, in a very prominent southern church and not only once, but three times!  Three times they attended, by themselves, one of the so-called “contemporary services” and NOT A SOUL said a word to her on any of her visits!  Amazing!

So is this the new definition of “contemporary?”  Come and worship with us and we’ll leave you alone?  Not invade your space?  Make you feel like you’re truly an outsider?

This got me to thinking…

I’ve been in and out of the hospital now well over 10 times in the last three years, and I got to thinking after my last visit, how cared for and important I was made to feel during each visit.  Even in the midst of hundreds of other patients, thousands of medical cases, hundreds of medical professionals and busy, busy schedules, I was made to feel like I was someone of importance and truly cared for.  Needs were met, and there was great concern for my welfare before I was allowed to leave.  Their focus was to make sure I was whole and able to go home on my own prior to discharge into the “real” world.  I was given a list of things to monitor while I continued to get well at home.  There was even follow-up by the doctors and nurses once I arrived at home.  They continued to monitor my progress and I had follow-up appointments to be sure all was well.

Now sure, you’re paying big bucks for this kind of care, and chances are, if you’re going into the hospital you have some major things going on that need immediate attention.  And you could use the argument that in church it’s not life or death like it is in the hospital?  Oh, it isn’t?  Aren’t churches dealing with the real life or death issue…man’s spiritual condition?  Aren’t we called as Believers to minister to the needs of everyone?  Don’t we have a mandate from Christ to do all of this unto the least of these?

Sure, we aren’t getting “paid,” at least maybe not in any tangible form on this earth, but as Colossians 3:23-24 says you are to,”work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”  (NLT)

In going back to the premise of this blog, how would all of this apply to our church specifically and to us generally?

If we truly cared as Christ cared for and loved the church, and gave His life for her, then our approach would be more like that of a hospital than what we call church today.  Each person that comes into our churches on a given Sunday has a spiritual health issue.  Jesus Christ is The Great Physician, and he said in His Word, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matt. 9:12b-13

Since this is still true today, shouldn’t we be modeling what Jesus taught and not running to programs and the latest worship trends as our front line of ministry?  Are people leaving our churches still hurting and without the healing balm of God’s Word applied to their needs?  WE must be the ones who bring people to the Great Physician so their spiritual illness and disease can be healed.

“Paging Dr. Jesus, paging Dr. Jesus” has a pretty cool sound to it!

Less Rejected, More Detected!

Not sure why I feel like my heading must rhyme, but it’s fun!

Well, here’s an update on my health to this point.  The good news?  The rejection level has dropped from an A-3 to an A-1 over the past several months!  Praise the Lord!  The highest rejection level there is, for acute rejection, is an A-4.  So this is VERY significant in the grand scheme of things.  It also means that the rejection is still treatable and reversible.  Another praise the Lord!

However, at the same time they have found some other “issues” along the way that we are now dealing with.  If you’re old enough, you probably remember the old Saturday Night Live sketch with Rosanne Roasnnadanna.  She was always closing out her rambling, non-sensical, monologue by saying, “It’s always something!”  That’s kind of how I feel with the things that keep popping up health-wise.  One of the doctors at Duke put it this way, “you seem to have a lot of loose ends.”  That may be true, but we’re praying they all get tied up real soon!

What are the “loose ends?”  Two main ones are a fungus that has grown out since my last bronchoscopy.  The other is some kind of Antibody that has now shown up in my lungs.  I’ve begun a new medicine, well actually a return to an old med I was off of, for the fungus.  For the Antibody situation, I have begun a series of infusions that we’re not really sure how long will last.

Duke is still looking at doing the “big gun” IV that will zero out all of my CD4 T-Cells.  Which basically means my immune system will be reset, or zeroed out.  They are waiting until after my August bronchoscopy to make that call though.  They can’t do the IV with the fungus situation because that be like putting Miracle Grow on the fungus, not a good thing.  I’m praying that there will be ON more rejection in the August bronch and we’ll be able to avoid this IV treatment.  That would be my ultimate answered prayer at this point!

That’s about it for now.  Even through the monotony of health issues it’s sometimes hard to keep thinking all is well.  But we know that the same God who has brought us this far is still in charge and in control of what is going on now!  God is sovereign in ALL circumstances, good and bad.  We must continue to learn to trust.  After all, we’re human and most of us have short attention spans!  I know I do!

Thanks for reading this post, I think it’s one of my shorter ones.

Isaiah 41:10

2 Lungs, 2 Years and 2 Transplant Centers

This is the year of “2’s” for me.  Saturday, July 3 will be the 2nd anniversary of my double-lung transplant, and over the course of the last two years, I have been seen at two different Transplant Centers!  Never thought I’d be expressing the 2nd anniversary of God’s provision in this way but it has definitely been “2” good “2” be true!  (Sorry, couldn’t help myself)

This year has definitely been an interesting one with some new challenges, but overall I know the Lord is sovereign and still in complete control.  He is constantly directing my path and continues to amaze me with His grace!

There is some of this journey I’m still trying to figure out and definitely feel like I’m just along for the ride some of the time, well okay, most of the time, but I wouldn’t trade ANY of it for the world!  I can say, with absolute certainty, with the Psalmist, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
that I may learn Your statutes.” Psalm 119:71 (NKJ)

Saying that it has been good for me that I’ve had this illness may sound like insanity to some, but if you’ve ever walked through a life-threatening event you know that it is definitely a life-changing event.  There are SO many things the Lord has shown me and taught me along the way.  Scripture has come alive like never before.  The little things I used to take for granted mean so much.  Slowly, but surely, the Lord is shifting my priorities.  It’s a long process, after all I’m human, but I sense that the Holy Spirit is reshaping my thoughts and my desires.  That’s been my prayer and again, it’s a long process and I’m a slow learner, but there has definitely begun to be a shift along those lines in my life.

As I reflect back over the past two years lots of moments and memories flood my mind.  My wife and daughters continue to be such a vital support system to me.  The Lord has blessed us with a wonderful church family that has accepted us, prayed for us, and loves us.  I think back to the “the call” to come to the hospital for my surgery.  I think about the times in the hospital and the following weeks of rehab.  There are many times when I flash back to the waiting period and I get glimpses of so much that happened during that time.  I think about how sick I was prior to the transplant and the fact that there were days I thought I wouldn’t make it to my 48th birthday.

Sometimes these thoughts and reflections, and many, many others, make me weep but mostly they fill my heart and soul with unending gratitude to God for everything He has done.  I can’t escape the continuing expression of thanksgiving to the Lord that I have.

My prayer has been, and continues to be, that I’ll not waste one second of the new life He has given me!  Is it hard sometimes?  Absolutely.  Do I still have physical struggles?  You bet.  Are there days when I’m not very grateful?  Sure.  But my eyes are still fixed on the goal of continuing to serve my Savior and use the talent, gifts and abilities He has given me to their full for His glory alone!

Even though I’ve shared this before, I want to close with what I continue to call the “Psalm of my healing.”  I read this passage over and over again while I was waiting for my transplant and God burned into my heart as His promised directed to me.  My prayer and hope is that my life will continue to be one that reflects His glory and tells His story.  His story of healing, hope and help.  I pray that through whatever time I have left on this earth I’ll be able to lead others to Christ as this story is shared.

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  He has given me a new song to sing (or play), a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see what he has done and be amazed.  They will put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-3 NLT (emphasis added)