Category: Evangelistic

I’m Dying: What I Learned from My Diabetic Diagnosis

“It’s probably no big deal,” my doctor told me. “Any blood sugar reading below 100 means you’re okay. 100-125 means you’re pre-diabetic, and above 125 means you’re diabetic.”

The reading came back on the monitor… 200.

“Okay, so you’re a diabetic. Here’s what we’re gonna do…”

The following words were a series of prescriptions the doctor would recommend, the recommendation for exercise (run 30 minutes per day, four times per week) and a dietary recommendation (no simple sugars).

I wish I could say that this all came as a shock. It didn’t. I wish I could say I am just a victim of circumstance, the recipient of bad DNA. I can’t. I wish I could claim I wasn’t warned. I was.

Two years prior, I sat in the same doctors office after having a life insurance application denied due to a high A1C. Back then, we tested, and I came out okay. Diet and exercise would save the day. I started out well, but I didn’t finish.

Ten years prior to that, I registered a high blood sugar during a visit with the same doctor. I corrected my diet then, returned for a follow up, and was fine.

The doctor warned me that this day was coming. I was told to eliminate fried foods, not to drink my calories (sodas), and to exercise. After each warning, I would start out well, but after a couple of months, the disruptions would get to me, and I’d fall off my program.

A headline involving dying and diabetes may sound melodramatic, but it’s not. This is a terminal illness, but it’s one that can be managed. Diabetes is a disease where your body no longer breaks down the blood sugar. The result is a thickened blood that fails to reach the capillaries, resulting in organ damage. Also, the sugar itself damages tissues within the body.

Diabetics suffer from nerve damage, vision loss, and ultimately heart attacks and strokes, if not managed properly. Once the damage is done, it does not heal. Lost vision does not get restored. Damaged nerve endings never regain function.

My doctor and I have a plan, and I am confident in his ability to help me manage this diagnosis, but receiving this diagnosis has taught me a few things.

  1. The day of reckoning is coming. For so many of us, we know that the consequences of our actions are coming, but we deceive ourselves into thinking that the consequences are far away, and we will be better able to manage those consequences when they finally arrive. This is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves. Whether we think we are delaying the consequences of poor health choices, or delaying the consequences of our spiritual choices, we tend to put off making the decisions that we need to make. However, the day is coming, and it will come as a thief in the night, at a time when we least expect it.
  2. We must make the right choices today. As I just mentioned, the day of reckoning, when we will receive the full consequences of our choices is upon us, and it is coming faster than we think. We can no longer afford to say, “I’ll start that diet tomorrow,” or “I’ll open that retirement account next month,” or “I’ll start going to church and get right with Jesus next week.” We must make those decisions today. First, we don’t know that we have tomorrow, next week or next month. Our day may creep up on us sooner than we think. Secondly, the sooner we make those choices, the more beneficial they will be for us.
  3. To follow those choices, we must learn to manage the disruptions in life. When my doctor asked me why I hadn’t been able to get my diet in order, I told him about the upheaval in my family, last year’s COVID outbreak at church, career issues, and the ongoing turmoil that I have found to be life. I told him, “I just did not do a good job of managing the disruptions in my life.” We can no longer afford to use those disruptions as excuses, because disruptions are part of every day life. As Agent K said in Men In Black, “There’s always an Achillian Battlecruiser or an intergalactic plague about to wipe out our planet. The only way these people get on with their lives is that they do not know about it.” Over the past few years, we’ve seen economic and political disruptions, and our entire society shut down by a global pandemic. This is the new normal, and such disruptions will continue, in addition to your personal disruptions. We have to learn to manage these disruptions and move forward.
  4. What was death to me has now become life. Prior to my diagnosis, the idea of being fit sounded good, but I was happy being chubby and lazy. Sure, healthy food will make me feel better, and there’s nothing like the rush of finishing an ultra-marathon, but have you ever enjoyed a bowl of Blue Bell Ice Cream and a Netflix movie on an overcast Saturday afternoon? I chose the latter. It was easier, simpler, and more delicious. However, with my diagnosis, I now see that health foods and medications are not a way to a better life, they are the only way to seize and maintain life. With each salad, vegetable, and lean grilled meat, I am extending my life, and with each medication, I am helping my body restore its function. Over the past few decades, churches have sought to sell potential converts on the benefits of Christianity by saying that it leads to a better life. It does. But Christianity is life. Faith in Jesus is the only way to avoid eternal damnation. And just like my diabetic diagnosis came suddenly (but with warning), our last day of life and the day of judgment will come upon us suddenly. Don’t get shocked by a negative test result that day. Turn from your sin and trust Jesus as your Savior.

The diabetic diagnosis can be a life sentence or a death sentence. My doctor told me that in those exact words. And with God’s help, I will manage this disease and live to serve Him well in my life. However, this whole experience has taught me that I need to wake up, and start taking care of what matters, regardless of how I feel. I can no longer make excuses, I can no longer procrastinate. And the same goes for you.

If you have been putting off the decision to turn your life over to Christ, make that decision today. And if you have been putting off your health and financial decisions, you will avoid catastrophes and reap better benefits if you make those choices today. Don’t follow in my footsteps. You have the opportunity to do better.

May God bless you.

Confession to God

Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

Adam stood before the Lord guilty of breaking God’s one rule of the garden, he had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam’s explanation? “The woman you gave to be with me gave me the fruit, and so I ate.”

David was confronted by Nathan the prophet after having an affair with the wife of one of his best soldiers before having that soldier killed to cover his sin. David’s response to being confronted with his sin? “Against thee, thee only have I sinned: and done this evil in thy sight…. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51)

Which of these two men from the Old Testament offered God a true confession? If you answered David, you would be correct.

As we discussed in our previous post on confession, confession moves beyond an acknowledgement of one’s own action and admits fault, being transparent in one’s motivations and belief and placing one’s self at the mercy of another. Our previous exploration of the topic of confession was framed in the context of confessing our faults and struggles to each other, so that we can pray for one another, minister to one another, and be healed.

In this post, we will discover how this level of confession toward God not only brings forgiveness of sin, but also brings reconciliation to God and healing from the sin that has plagued one’s life. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

According to 1 John, confession is the key that unlocks God’s forgiveness, cleansing, and thus healing. Denying sin, downplaying sin, or acknowledging the action without confessing that it is sin leads to a life marked by continued darkness, isolation and destruction. To deny sin is to call God a liar, which is the ultimate blasphemy, since lies are the hallmark of Satan.

Confession to God is made through one’s own prayer life, and while one may choose to confess their sin to their pastor, one has not truly confessed to God until one has approached God directly in prayer.

One of the great examples of confession in the Bible is the afore-mentioned Psalm 51. In it, David goes beyond confessing to his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband. In fact, he does not even mention it. Rather, he focuses his confession on the very darkness within his own soul, and within his own heart that led to the sin.

In essence, David’s confession was not about the action, but rather the heart that birthed the action. His confession is like bypassing the symptoms in order to treat the disease itself.

In his Psalm 51 confession, David mentions that he is, at his core, a sinner. He then pleads with God to cleanse him, to create in him a clean heart, and to restore the joy of his salvation while restoring the fellowship he and God once enjoyed.

This level of confession is the mark of true repentance, to which God responds every time.

Another great example of confession in the Bible is Paul’s confession in Romans 7:15-25, where Paul confesses that no good thing dwells within him, therefore he is predisposed to rebelling against God’s law and leadership in his life. His confession is that he needs Christ to rescue him from the body of that death and to enable him to serve the Lord (Romans 7:24-25).

In Paul’s confession, we see the sinner move beyond confession and repentance and toward faith, as Paul’s only option is to trust the Lord.

Most people live life defeated. We sin, we face the consequence of sin, we promise God to never do that sin again if he will rescue us from the consequence, and then we go on and sin again. In this vicious cycle, we never confess what’s truly in our heart. In fact, we often deny it.

Furthermore, we never stop to consider the sin within our heart, and what it would take to be cleansed from that sin, if we even desire cleansing at all.

By stopping, assessing the sin within us, and confessing that sin to God, we can not only identify the cause of our destructive behavior, we can truly turn from it and allow God to heal that brokenness within us. Anything short of this is an exercise in futility.

With all this in mind, what will you confess to God today?

Pixar has us coo-coo for Coco

Coco_(2017_film)_posterToy Story. Finding Nemo. Cars. Up. Wall-E. Iconic Pixar movies that defined the childhood of a generation, and gave parents precious memories with their kids. These films moved us in theaters, and babysat our children once released to home video.

With each classic Pixar released, it was hard to imagine that a better film could be made. Then, without fail, Pixar’s next movie would elevate the theatrical experience to the next level. Their latest release, Coco, is no different.

The film centers around Miguel, a 12 year old boy growing up in Mexico who dreams of being a famous musician, even though his family forbids music after his great-great grandfather abandoned the family to pursue a music career. Miguel idolizes Ernesto de la Cruz, a popular film/music star of the early 20th who died years earlier in a tragic stage accident. De la Cruz hailed from Miguel’s hometown, furthering the young boy’s fantasy that one day he could be as famous as the Mexican film/music icon.

Through a series of sordid events, Miguel comes to believe that he is the great-great grandson of De la Cruz, and when the local talent show begins at the town plaza, he tries to borrow De la Cruz’ guitar from his grave site. That decision sets off a chain reaction that lands Miguel in the Land of the Dead during the Mexican holiday of Dia de Muertos, the one day the dead can return to the land of the living to visit their descendants.

The adventure sees Miguel reunited with his ancestors, separated from his ancestors, and reunited with De la Cruz, where he learns what is truly important to him. His adventure changes the Land of the Dead, as well as the Land of the Living forever.

Coco is Pixar’s best movie yet, because it touches people of all backgrounds. There are characters with which kids, adults, and seniors can identify. If I could have taken my dog, there would have been a character for her. The movie relates to career successes, sacrifices for family, hopes, dreams and fears. There’s not one part of the human spirit, save for a connection to God, that this film doesn’t touch.

The movie experience was so uplifting that I stayed and watched the credits.

Among the many themes found in the movie, the one that really stood out to me was the need to be remembered. According to the movie, (and Mexican legend), on Dia de Muertos, the dead are able to return to the land of the living to visit their descendants provided that those descendants post a picture of them on an ofrenda, and remember them. This ofrenda also includes things the dead ancestor enjoyed during life, like food, or musical instruments.

Those in the Land of the Dead whose families do not post pictures or ofrendas to them are denied entry into the Land of the Living, and are stuck in the Land of the Dead without family or friends.

If no one on earth remembered you, then you also vanished from the Land of the Dead into non-existence. Therefore, it was important to each resident of the Dead to be remembered, and to have their family post an ofrenda in their honor.

Families in Mexico still celebrate this holiday. It speaks to the natural fear of death, the wish for an eternal existence postmortem, and the need to be remembered. It is on these aspects of the human existence that Coco spoke the most clearly. Coco also addressed our desire to remember our loved ones fondly who have passed on before us.

One of the most difficult things to deal with in life is death. It’s hard to face our own mortality, and it is hard to deal with the loss of a close friend or family member. Dia de Muertos is a way Mexican residents have learned to cope with the loss.

However, scripture tells us that we can all have an eternal resurrection if we know Jesus Christ as our personal savior. Scripture also foretells of a day described by African American preachers in the South as “That glad gettin’ up morning.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 says:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

The day is coming when the Lord will reunite us with our loved ones. Moreover, we will be reunited with the Lord Himself.

These promises are made to all who repent and trust Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Have you made that decision? If you have, then the biggest and best family reunion ever planned is coming your way.

Take heart. This life is merely a preparation for the next. Live accordingly.

Shell Shock

In World War I, there was a condition where soldiers would mentally shut down after their minds and emotions could no longer process the violence and devastation around them. The condition was known as “shell shock.”

This is a condition where you have experienced so much trauma that you can no longer process any more difficult emotions, tragedies, traumatic experiences, etc. You just go on autopilot.

I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, and I cannot really describe the intricacies of this disorder. However, even a layman can observe the way people who are “shell shocked” tend to just shut down mentally and emotionally. They may continue the motions of life, but the thought and passion just aren’t there.

With the recent events in the U.S., and in my personal life, I have found myself a little “shell shocked.”

I have found myself unable to explore my own emotions and reactions to things. Thus, my writing has been hindered, and I have been unable to formulate coherent thoughts to post on this blog.

Thankfully, I am finding healing, and I will soon be able to share my thoughts on some of the horrible events to hit our nation recently.

This healing I have found has come through a study of the scriptures. My small-group has been studying through the book of 1 Peter. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with pain or struggling through life, because this book was written directly to people who are suffering.

Chapter 1 seeks to comfort those who are hurting, mourning and struggling by reminding them of the blessings they have as a result of their salvation in Christ. Oh, I skipped that part, did I?

Yes, 1 Peter was written to Christians who were suffering, particularly those enduring persecution at the hands of Nero and the Roman Empire. And while evangelical writing may not be your thing, the fact remains that any hope we have of going to Heaven, or eternal blessings, come through the Salvation what is freely given in Christ Jesus.

Peter brings this out in 1 Peter 2. He reminds us that Christ suffered for us, taking our sin upon Himself, that we can be freed and delivered from the judgment of God because Christ endured that for us on the cross. Christian doctrine teaches that this salvation is freely given by Christ to all who turn from their sin and trust Him to receive them into His Kingdom based on His work on the cross.

If you believe that your only hope for getting into Heaven is the death of Christ on the cross for your sins and His willingness to forgive you, then you have the proper faith for salvation. Profess that to others.

That’s the backdrop of 1 Peter 1. Peter is writing to people who have trusted Christ as their Savior. He is reminding them how Christ not only gave His life on the cross, but that the Lord diligently worked to bring them to the saving knowledge of the Lord. We also have the assurances that the Lord will receive us into Heaven and that our suffering will one day end.

In Chapter 2, Peter gives purpose to our suffering, which is basically for the purpose of bringing as many people to Heaven with us as possible. Toward the end of the chapter, the underlying theme becomes “Christ suffered for us, can’t we in turn endure hardness for Him?”

While an agnostic may feel that concept borders sadism, the fact is that our willingness to suffer empowers us to live out the challenges of life. Chapter 3 immediately turns the topic to marriage. If Christ suffered for us, can’t we in turn sacrifice for our spouse? If Christ suffered for us, can’t we in turn sacrifice for our friends and family?

It’s hard to make a living today, and parents often find themselves sacrificing their dreams in order to care for their kids. Young adults find themselves overwhelmed, trying to take care of an aging parent. There are no shortages of demands for self-sacrifice in living the typical 21st Century life, and there are no shortages of people who simply walk away from the responsibility.

But for those of us who stay in the “fight,” who continually struggle to care for family and friends in need, the struggle can become exhausting. Yet, Jesus endured all for us.

That reminder keeps me going. Christ endured all for me, so I can endure all for my family. Chapter 4 continues this thought pattern, and Chapter 5 relates it to our church life.

Someday, we’ll all overcome this together as we enter the Lord’s Kingdom. Until then, let’s endure together and keep each other encouraged.

Hit me up anytime on Facebook or Twitter. Or, come visit me at Life Point Baptist Church, 104 E Industrial in Early, TX, inside the Early Chamber of Commerce, Sundays at 10 am.