Sunday, June 8, 2014

From the Moment You Were Conceived

It's interesting that a lot of us think that one thing makes us a sinner (or others think that one thing makes us a sinner); something like, because I am a prostitute, I am a sinner.  Because I am alcoholic, I am a sinner.  Because I am an adulterer, I am a sinner.  Because I am a liar I am a sinner.  Because you are gay, you are a sinner.  According to the Bible, all of these things are sin in and of  themselves, but they are not what makes you a sinner.  (Friends, please don't comment or email me because I called these things sin.  I didn't decide it; God, in His Word, did. I have an alcoholic husband, a gay daughter, I committed adultery and I have a rebellious teenager.  I love all people and it is my desire for all people to be reconciled to God.)

What?  Am I committing blasphemy? Give me a second, I don't think so.  It came to me in church this morning as our Pastor preached on Paul in the book of Acts preaching to the Corinthians and how He shared the gospel with them.

First, let me say, I accepted Christ as God's Savior of Mankind when I was a child, and reaffirmed that commitment as a teenager.  My faith has bent and swayed with the times of my life.  I have sinned since that time.  Because we accept Christ's gift of salvation does not mean that we will never sin, but that we have power living within us in the form of God's holy spirit that will help us overcome sin.  The Bible says that we are always slaves to something....slaves to sin, slaves to God, slaves to booze, slaves to sex, slaves to homosexuality, slaves to pornography, etc.  When you look at that list, what one pops out at you as the best one to be enslaved?  Personally, I'd rather be a slave to my Creator, the one who is totally good, loving and always works in my best interest.  (I didn't say He always gives me what I want but that He always works in my best interest.)

Each and every human being on the face of the earth (with the exception of one) are sinners the moment they are conceived.  The fact that we all are compelled to serve our own selfish desires from the first breath is indicative of that.  Does anyone teach a two year old to be selfish or self-centered and to always be concerned with what is "mine"?

However, there is also within each one of us a longing, a desire to know unconditional love, like the love of a father and/or mother is supposed to be, but because of our sinful nature, can't be known from a human being.   God can give us that kind of unconditional love.  He can fill that longing; that need.

BUT God is holy and completely good.  The Bible says He cannot and will not even be around sin or evil. This is the problem:  How does one bring together sinful man who is longing for unconditional love and acceptance of God with holy a God who cannot and will not reside in the same space as anything sinful, sin or evil?  Enter in Jesus Christ, born of a virgin (overshadowed by the Holy Spirit), fully God and fully man - God's child born of a woman!

He lived as we do, was tempted and tried in every way that we are, but you know what?  He was able to do to walk day after day His whole life and not commit any sin of any type or kind.   How?  Well, first because He is God, and second because He had an unbelievably intimate relationship with God and also because God's spirit lived in Him. He had all the power of heaven to overcome sin and evil.  He never gave into ANY temptation.  Being tempted is not sin, but acting on that temptation is.  He was tempted and tried in EVERY way.    Temptation to drink, to lie, to love a woman, but He NEVER GAVE IN TO IT.  Tried with people who hated him, tried with illness, tried with problems, but HE NEVER GAVE IN TO THEM.

How and what does He have to do with us?  He came to earth; He willingly gave up everything that made Him God, all his power, His knowledge, His Majesty, His Honor in order to bridge the gap between God and man.  He willingly died for us, and during His death, He took all of the sins of every person ever born and put them on himself.  The Bible puts it this way:  2 Cor 5:21

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Do you get that?  He didn't know any sin but He became sin for us so  that WE might be MADE the righteousness of God IN HIM.

Unfortunately, today most people think the gospel has everything to do with "I", "Me", Myself" and very little to do with God.  The truth is, the gospel has very little to do with I, Me or Myself, and EVERYTHING to do with Jesus Christ.  The gospel a lot of people are hearing and teaching today is a gospel SUITABLE for I, Me, or Myself.    That means it has been turned around, tossed about and fluffed up until it suits the needs of the individual.  We make God out to be Santa Claus.  If I can be good enough, He'll give me this or that; if I take out this scripture (because it doesn't suit my life style), I can let Him be in my life.   If I give money to this individual or that organization, God will bless me, etc.

Folks that is not the way it works.  We are ALL separated from God because we are all sinners, and the only thing that can make us right is to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.  The Bible says that we must be born again.  Well, how can one be born again?  As Nicodemus asked Jesus, does one have to go back inside their mother to be born again?  No, when you accept the gift of salvation from Jesus Christ, his holy spirit comes and lives inside you and you are a new creation - not in terms of age, but in terms of quality.  You are then reconciled to God, and when you stand before Him, He doesn't see you and all your sin, He sees Christ and Jesus'  imputed righteousness that you received when you believed that He was God's son sent to save the world from going to hell in a hand basket!

What then is a Christian?  A Christian is a person who has been reconciled to God through believing in Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection as God's means of saving the world.  A Christian is also a person who helps others to be reconciled to God.

Do you wish to be reconciled to God?  Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.  It's that simple.   But now that it's that simple, you are called to live a life worthy of Christ, forsaking sin and helping others to be reconciled to God, and it is just that complicated.  But that's a story for another day.

Lord Jesus, Thank you!   Thank you so much that you didn't  think the fact that you were God should prevent you from humbling yourself and taking on the form of a man and that you would die for the rest of mankind  in order to restore our relationship to the Father!  Your selflessness is unknown to the world today because we are all about me, myself and I.  Thank you for loving us enough to go to these lengths to save us. I want to be reconciled to you and to help reconcile others to you.  Help me to be gentle, kind and accepting of all people simply because we are all alike.  We all need you.  We all want the love of the Father.  Help us to see sin as He sees it.  Help us to turn from it and toward you.   Keep us close, Lord, it's so evil out  there and temptations are very great, slick and the evil one is so formidable.  Fortunately for us, Lord, you have defeated sin and death and the same very great power that resurrected you is at work in us.  Praise your name, Jesus.  I pray in that one and only, unmatched name.  Amen.

Monday, June 2, 2014

One Year Later...

The 365 days that I have lived since last June 3, have gone by even more quickly than normal.  Last June 3, at 8:30 a.m. I was scheduled to have Deep Brain Stimulation surgery at the University of Cincinnati, through the Mayfield Clinic with Dr. George Mandybur as my surgeon.  I arrived at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. anticipating the 8:30 surgery.  For various reasons, such as Dr. Mandybur was in a surgery already and was delayed, the first CT-scan was improperly done and insufficient for the surgery (this is a vital part of the surgery because the CT-scan is used to map the brain as the doctor performs the surgery), and who knows what other reasons, but the day dragged on and on and on.  I don't think I actually went in to surgery until around 3:30 p.m.  I know that in my anticipation of the surgery, the one thing I really wasn't looking forward to was the screwing on (literally) of the "halo".  The halo is what keeps the head still during the surgery by being screwed down to the surgical bed.  Here I am in the halo:

One of my not so admirable personality traits is that I am impatient, and it certainly showed itself in the days subsequent to the surgery.  I wanted immediate results; my doctor and his staff kept telling me "four to six months, Kim"  "give it four to six months".

The first four months were very difficult.  I am told that I am particularly sensitive to the stimulator, and my changes were very minute, but I was changing the setting every two weeks.   I'd see moments of promise, and then I'd be a diskenetic mess.  On my son's birthday at the end of September, my family and I all went our for dinner with some friends, and I had to have my best girlfriend cut my steak for me.  It was very humbling, and yet, when I went to the doctor in October, I scored a "4" on my neurological exams, and was told that the closer to "0" you get, the more normal you are.  I tested a 26 in July, a 13 in August and then the 4 in October.  I scored a 4 in December as well.

Right around December, I really began noticing a huge difference in my dystonia and my diskenesia.  It was remarkably reduced.  I no longer sat around waiting for my meds to "kick in".  Prior to my surgery, I was taking 21-24 tablets of Carbadopa/Levadopa 100 (Sinemet).   Today, I take about six tablets per day.

I am remarkably better.   I am playing golf again.  I am traveling again (by myself).  I am not afraid to go somewhere and think what if I can't get back home.   It is a miracle that I give God the credit for.  I would never have done it without Him.  I asked Him to close the door for me if I were not to have the surgery.  I sailed through all the tests.  I never had anything that would cause me to regret having the surgery, and I pray that God will continue to protect my brain and allow me not to have to have to experience the surgery or any of its counterparts again.

I still have Parkinsons's Disease, and I know that my condition will continue to progress.  There is no cure at this time.  How and when it will make itself known in my life is only known to God.  I know that He is with me in everything that life throws at me.  I praise Him for this reprieve.