THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

August 10, 2011

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I will honestly admit that it is after 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday evening and I am just now writing this, and Jon needs to publish this before we go to bed this evening. I had started writing something else last Wednesday, but our family was suddenly and unexpectedly turned upside down on Thursday and I've not had a chance to even think about writing or finishing the newsletter. I will also admit that at this time I am tired and my mind is going in so many different directions that it's almost impossible for me to concentrate and think of what needs to be written.

My sister and brother-in-law, Janie and Jimmy, flew to Phoenix, AZ on Thursday, July 28th to attend the General Council of the Assemblies of God. I took them to the airport early that morning, and Jimmy was in fine form, excited about the trip and keeping us laughing. After their arrival, they were unpacking when Jimmy began throwing up and feeling sick. He was sick all day, and Janie thought it was food poisoning from the chili cheeseburger he had eaten the night before. Over the next few days there was a gradual progression of events, which resulted in Jimmy being taken to ER last Thursday. He had been checked out at a medic clinic at the convention, and there were firefighters that checked his vitals and tested him for various things. Everything tested fine and showed that Jimmy was very healthy and strong, so they thought perhaps it was heat exhaustion or that he had become overly dehydrated. He was taken to the hospital, and my sister thought it would be a simple thing where they would give him an IV or shot, then he would be fine.

But that wasn't the case. Jimmy was taken to a teaching hospital for neurologist, which was a very good thing. They immediately began running tests and a few hours later found that Jimmy had a large mass that covered the left front quadrant of his brain, and that it was a quarter the size of his brain. What a shock! A series of events took place for the next few hours with my sister and the family trying to make plans and figure out what everyone should be doing. At first, they said he couldn't be moved from Phoenix; but later the neurologist came in and talked to them, telling them that they needed to come home. They flew home on Saturday afternoon, and Jimmy was immediately taken to the hospital in Tulsa. The doctors from Phoenix had contacted a neurologist here and they were expecting him. Again, things didn't quite go as first planned, and surgery was moved up from Wednesday morning to Monday afternoon.

With Jimmy being the last surgery of the day for the neurologist, it didn't get started until a lot later than planned, which made for a long day and even longer evening. Jimmy did well during surgery and they got as much of the mass as possible. The family are now waiting for the results of the biopsy so they will know how to proceed.

This situation has been very difficult for Janie and the rest of the family, as well as the church that they pastor, to fully comprehend and understand. Why? How could this have happened? Jimmy has always been strong, rarely ever got sick, worked hard, was very energetic, he ate mostly healthy and tried to take care of himself. He has been faithful to God and has been faithful to the call to minister to the deaf for the past twenty-plus years. Jimmy has always tried to be obedient to God and follow Him whole-heartedly. Doors have opened up for him to minister all over the US and even in other countries to the deaf, and Jimmy has been faithful to go where God leads. So why would this happen to him? It just doesn't make sense!

Life doesn't always make sense. Life is hard sometimes and things happen that are beyond our comprehension. Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people. Sickness, disease, disasters, trials, and hardships are no respecter of persons. And just because someone has been a strong, awesome man or woman of God doesn't mean that the outcome will be to our liking. It has nothing to do with how great or how small our faith is.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'"

We like to think that if we're good enough, faithful enough and close enough to God that nothing bad will ever happen in our lives. And we like to think that if we pray hard enough, believe hard enough and have enough faith that the outcome of our greatest trials will always turn out the way we choose. But that doesn't always happen. How God chooses to answer and work is not always to our liking, and may not be exciting and joyful. The outcome can sometimes bring sorrow, pain and heart-break. It has nothing to do with the individual or family not having enough faith; it's how God chooses to answer.

What we have to understand is that whatever happens is God's will; even if it doesn't end up being the way we'd choose. Life is sometimes tough and heart-breaking.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying before His crucifixion, He knew that what lay ahead of Him was going to be painful and hard to bear. It may have felt overwhelming and too difficult for Him to endure. He told His disciples, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." Jesus went into the garden and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." He later again prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done."

Jesus knew what His purpose was for coming to earth, yet when His time came to die, He prayed that the cup be taken from Him. But He didn't leave it at that. He was willing to obey God's plan and pray, "Not my will, but Your will be done."

God's will for us may sometimes be hard, painful, sorrowful, grief-filled, and seem too hard for us to bear. None of us want to suffer or be sick; and we don't want that for our loved ones. And if that should happen, the hardest prayer for us to pray is, "God, not my will, but your will be done." We don't want to say that because we're afraid of what that may mean.

Does that mean that we just give up and not pray for miracles? Absolutely not! Does that mean that we shouldn't pray for healing? Absolutely not! I know that God still performs miracles. I know that God can do the impossible and work in ways that far surpass the human understanding. The very same God that spoke this world into existence, who formed and created man, has the power to heal all sickness and diseases. And I believe that God can do a miracle in Jimmy's body and bring total and complete healing. There are literally thousands of people all over the world that know and love Jimmy, that are praying for this very thing to happen. I believe with all my heart that God can do a miracle of healing in Jimmy. And I ask each of you to pray for Jimmy.

Praying for God's will to be done and leaving our tough situations in His hands to handle according to His plan takes a lot of faith and trust on our part, because we don't know what that may mean. Yet if we can do so, then be willing to accept the outcome and still continue to love and trust God, then that shows the strength of our relationship with God.

So why do I choose to trust God and put my faith in Him, when life brings about circumstances that don't make sense and are difficult? Because I know that whatever happens, God is my strength and peace. I know that whatever may happen in life, I have an eternal future ahead of me that will be worth everything we may have to endure on this earth.

There's a hymn that sums it up: "It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus. Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face; all sorrow will erase. So bravely run the race, till we see Christ."

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

What can you tell a family going through heart-ache like a dad having brain surgery? They already know all the typical Christian platitudes: "You have to have faith," "Don't feel sad, feel trust," "God has a great plan in store." And all those things that never really make anyone feel better. More often, they just make people feel guilty on top of feeling sad, scared, confused, and angry.

This morning, I had a long commute to work as the sun rose. The sunrise was really beautiful. Even with the heart-ache and fear in our family, God is still majestic. He still painted his glory across the sky for anyone to see.

I still don't have a clue what to say. Last night, all I could do was give Janie a hug. But this morning, I could see that God is still God, and is bigger than all of us.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Anyone wishing to help Jimmy and his family financially can contact the Tulsa Speech and Hearing Association, 918-832-8742 or 888-311-3523. They already have an account set up. Any checks can be made out to 'TSHA', but should say 'Jimmy' in the memo. You can also donate by credit card using the link above, and the 'Donate' button (high on the left) and select 'Jimmy Schwyhart' for where to donate. Donations are not tax deductible.

ON THE MENEWE:

Easy Angel Food Pineapple Cake

1 Angel Food Cake Mix

1 can crushed pineapple

Mix dry cake mix and can of crushed pineapple together. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done.

Other Variations: Mix a dry chocolate cake mix and 1 can of coke together; or mix a dry white cake mix and 1 can of Sprite together. If you are trying to watch calories, you can use diet pop.

LAMB TALES:

Church ladies with typewriters.... before spell checkers were available. These sentences (with all the bloopers) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

*This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

*Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the fellowship hall after the B.S. is done.

*The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

*Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

*The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

*Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

*The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: 'I Upped My Pledge -- Up Yours.'

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. - Proverbs 3:5

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org