Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 24, 2011 (Part II): Dealing with Leukemia

I'm pretty sure I let my wife know that I probably had leukemia with a text.

Thinking about it now, that was probably pretty stupid.

It worked out okay, though, because all she was worried about was how I was handling it. All I was worried about was how she was handling it.

She didn't even cancel her shopping trip, though Janelle, my 15-year-old daughter, ran into the bathroom at the gas station to sob.


God began to speak immediately. I became absolutely confident that I wasn't supposed to die and that I was supposed to have leukemia.

Suddenly, what should have been very horrible became very exciting.

What was I going to do? Who was I going to get to talk to?

Our church has recently experienced a bit of a cleansing. We're excited, we're focused, and we're looking for ways to preach the Gospel.

I love kids, especially teenagers. I hang out with them at night, watch movies, talk about God, and listen to their stories. I play soccer with them (thus helping them to feel fast, agile, and strong as they run around me with abandon), bowl with them (now there I usually win), and take them on trips.

So I've been thinking about ways to help them reach out to the community.

When I was a young Christian, an evangelist took me out street witnessing, and I kept up the habit for several years (with very limited success). So I thought about taking the kids out to witness on the streets, but that didn't seem very appropriate for a small town like Selmer.

I thought about getting a table at the local flea market and putting out tracts and some of our village's music CD's. That seemed like something I could take kids along for.

But now, what a great opportunity. I have leukemia! I'm going to visit hospitals, talk to patients in waiting rooms, and display the faith and joy of Christ to doctors and nurses.

I don't know how to bring the kids into that, though I'm going to give it a whirl, but what a wonderful opportunity for the Gospel!

Even more, I'm a writer. I wrote In the Beginning Was the Logos recently. It's a 400-page book on the Council of Nicea.

I wrote In the Beginning Was the Logos to create an audience for the things I really want to write about: the Gospel as the apostles preached it and the church as the apostles raised it up.

I hoped that In the Beginning would effectively create an audience because making history understandable and exciting is a skill of mine. Further, the Council of Nicea, the subject of my book, is a controversial subject, thoroughly misrepresented (slandered?) in The Da Vinci Code and mentioned in blogs, Yahoo! Answers, and internet forums repeatedly every day.

I know the history of the Council of Nicea, I know its sources, and I know how to tell the history believably and to make the sources understandable and interesting to the average person.

With an audience won over by In the Beginning, I hoped to have an audience for the much more controversial things I have to say about the church as the apostles started it. (If you're all fired up for Jesus and for the Gospel, then you won't find it very controversial. If you're a fake, which is not the same as a weak person, then you'll find it both controversial and offensive. Good, quit pretending.)

That was my best shot at creating an audience. Prove I'm a skilled historian and interesting storyteller, then with some trust built, go further.

Not a bad plan, but now God's got a better one!

I don't know if you've had some dread disease, but dropping the name of a disease like leukemia is a real conversation stopper. Say you've been diagnosed with leukemia, and everyone is silent, completely ready to give you the next word.

And if your next word is that you're thrilled to death about it, can't you imagine that most people are going to wonder and even ask why?

Caveat: I don't think Americans need Jesus shoved down their throats. For the most part, American Christians are Christians in name only. They are powerless, and they aren't any different from the world. Too many of the ones who are not nominal are rude, uncaring, big mouths who push Jesus like they're used car salesmen and he's a 10-year old Cadillac.

I'm not talking about snapping up the opportunity to give one more useless, pushy sales pitch to ask Jesus into their hearts.

I'm talking about the opportunity to testify of the wonderful grace of God that has caused both me and my family to be filled with joy and excitement at the new adventure we're on. I'm talking about being an example of really trusting God and letting God prove that he's trustworthy.

The kingdom of God is about power, not words (1 Cor. 4:20). When we start demonstrating the power and Spirit of God, then the Gospel will really be turned loose, and people will be begging us, "How can I, too, be saved?"

One final statement. There's a lot of other people who have been a lot more faithful, a lot kinder, less short-tempered, and a better example of the wonderful grace of God than I have been. There's a lot, and I work hard to follow in their footsteps and learn from them.

I'm not talking about those people when I complain about the judgmental, rude ones.

Nor am I condemning the nominal. They're abundant because we have a really crummy understanding of what the church is. The devil's been using Christian clubs to keep Christians apart for centuries, and we're doing nothing about it because we think they're churches.

We can do better than that, and Christians who abandon or ignore those clubs can enter into a fellowship, power, and grace beyond what most of them have imagined.

The early Christians used to talk about it because they had it.

Tragedies do not cause problems in our brotherhood, and the family possessions, which generally destroy brotherhood among you, create fraternal bonds among us. One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives. (Tertullian. Apology. Chapter 39. c. A.D. 210.)

These older posts are catching up. It's June 30, as I write this. I actually wrote a post on June 25 for my Rest of the Old, Old Story blog. It's one of the pages on this site, along with the "About Me" page. As of today, you can access it with a tab at the top of the screen. I'm hoping my daughter will redecorate this site at some point, but we will make sure there is always access to the pages as well as that original leukemia post.

It's one of the best things I've ever written, I think.

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