Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Post by Will

Will didn't write this for the blog, but after reading it, I asked him if I could post it here. It's thought provoking, and downright convicting. Here then, is a great (if I do say so myself :-)) article by my eldest son.

So this is mostly just writing to myself...but honestly most of what I write is, I comprehend and process better if I have to put things into words. So I shall attempt to share the lesson God has been teaching me of late. The subject is holiness.

We shall start with our premise that we, by nature, are sinners condemned to hell. We are condemned to hell because God is holy and perfect and cannot tolerate sin. But because in addition to His holiness and justice, God is also loving and merciful, He offers His son Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sin, and faith in the redeeming work of Christ is the only way to heaven. Once we have by faith accepted that covering for our sin, we are promised a place in heaven. And we are called to be saints...which is where the fun begins...

Like I said, this is something that I have struggled a lot with lately. Mostly because I love my sin. Sin is quite often fun. I mean, some of it isn't, and then there are consequences you have to deal with afterward...but lets be honest, if there wasn't some enjoyable quality to most sin, wouldn't everyone be perfect? And so, I have been trying to walk sideways on the slippery slope of sinning whilst trying to maintain my relationship with Christ. Some people call this walking the fence, but I like the slope analogy better, just because it makes it obvious that it will all lead in one direction. But back to the point. I have really felt God calling me into ministry (not sure what capacity yet, we shall see), and so I've been trying to study more and really grow in Him. And interestingly enough, all at once, He has sent influences from every side, whether it be sermons, to sermons I listen to online, to Bible study, to casual conversations...and it keeps boiling down to one thing. We must live holy, set apart lives for Christ. Which is a hard concept for me, but here's what I've been learning.

As I've been hammered with this subject I have found it interesting the large number of different passages that directly address the issue. Let's go over a few of my favorites...
Ephesians 1:4-"just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love..." He chose us before the foundation of the world. To be holy. To be without blame. Wow. I don't know about you, but this makes me feel two big things right off the bat-1)how amazing that the God of the universe cares enough about me that before the foundations of our very planet were laid He picked me out to be one of His chosen holy. What an amazing privilege. 2)What a huge responsibility. God went to the trouble of making me, calling me to be like Him, and all I can muster is some half hearted attempt to be better than the Jones the street. How pathetic I am. But despite how much of a loser I am, there is hope. And we will get to that in a bit, but first let's look more into holiness.
Ephesians 4:20-24-"But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." This one is quite interesting to me, because a slight rabbit trail that my brain has been taking with this is the whole idea of "being true to yourself". Everywhere we turn that's what talked about, our entire culture is built upon being yourself and doing what you want. Well I want to propose something here. That the concept of, "being you" is both undesirable and unbiblical. "You" (and me, and anyone walking this earth) are a sinner. Our hearts are corrupt and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), beyond repair. We in ourselves, have nothing. There is no good, no commendable qualities to pursue. But there is a second part to that verse in Ephesians, which closely parallels a more familiar Romans passage...
Romans 12:1,2-" I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." God doesn't just sit there and tell us how bad we are, but He'll save us anyway. No, he says, yes I saved you from that. I have called you out of the pit and into light-now turn from your wicked ways! Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This blows my mind, people always talk about how Christianity is a set of rules, just ties you's the exact opposite! Jesus offers ultimate freedom, freedom from ourselves. Freedom from the bondage that is sin.
Romans 6:14-"For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." God pulls us out of sin and allows us to chose life, and choose to follow him, how freeing is that?

My point in all of this is to say that God has called us, as men and women of His, to a higher standard. This isn't just for Pastors, youth leaders, or "spiritual" people. This is everyone who calls themselves a Christian. This world needs change people. This world needs hope. And that is only going to come through the Gospel, and we will only be effective in spreading that if we are living the life that He has called us to live. Holy. Set apart. Saints of God.

Will Dole

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Prayers Needed

Well, I've never gotten around to posting about the boys last game. I will still try to do that, but won't make any promises toward it. :-)

Right now, I want to share what's going on and ask for your prayers. Thursday, we had an appointment with the perinatalogist. After a fairly long ultrasound, they sent us on to the pediatric cardiologist (not in the "plan" for the day). There, they did another lengthy ultrasound (I spent the better part of 3 hours total on my back!), and then we got hit with the diagnosis for our son.

He has what is known as Ebstein's Malformation of Tricuspid Valve. It is a rare defect, affecting about 1 in 210,000 births. While it can be so mild that it isn't even detected until a child is older, or even adult; the cardiologist believes that our son will be severely affected by it at birth, because his heart is already enlarged. The enlargement of the heart can impede the development of the lungs, and so, often these babies are not just dealing with a heart issue, but also have underdeveloped lungs.

Here is a short description of what we are dealing with: Ebstein's Abnormality The Dr. gave us worse case scenario which included our son not even making it full term, and if he does survive to birth, very possibly dieing within the first week. Most likely he will be a very sick baby when he is born, and will immediately take up residence in the NICU.

Our delivery plans have changed once again ~ did I mention I DON'T like change? But of course our top priority is doing what is best for this son. We will be delivering at Sacred Heart so that he will have access to the best heart Dr.s and medical care from the start. One of the things I am thankful for is that heart babies tend to do much better when born naturally, so it looks like my hope for a VBAC will be buoyed by what's best for baby.

We are praying for healing for his heart. But, we realize that God's will may not be to heal him. So, we are also praying for the faith, strength, grace and mercy that we need to walk the path our feet are set upon. Our "secondary" prayer, if you will, is that his heart will not enlarge to the point of impeding lung development.

We have much to be thankful for, in the midst of all this. While a part of us would like to be oblivious to what's going on, we are thankful that we know ahead of time. We can deliver in the hospital where baby will need to be, and I won't have to be separated from him because he has to be transported. We can plan for an extended stay, and prepare not only ourselves but the other children. Because we know there is a problem, we can pray knowledgeably for this baby. And, we are thankful to once again have the opportunity to walk in trust and faith ~ this is not to say that we are happy about our son having a congenital heart defect. But we know that God allows different trials in our lives to glorify Himself and to conform us further into the image of his Son. I am thankful that He loves us enough to do that!

We have a wonderful church family who has surrounded us with their love and prayers. We are blessed with friends and family who love us and pray for us. We are blessed with brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who love us and pray for us, even though we have never met face to face! I sat here in tears yesterday morning, reading emails and Facebook messages from friends far flung ~ letting me know that they are praying for our son's heart and for comfort, peace and wisdom for Mike and I. What a blessing! How humbling to know that the God of creation, He who rules the universe cares enough about what's going on in my little world, that He would move his children from various places in this world to pray for my unborn son. I stand in awe of Him.

We will have another cardiologist appointment at the beginning of December, and hopefully will know a little more at that point. Right now we're in a 'wait and see' mode. I am eternally grateful that we know the One who knows the outcome, and that we can fully trust in Him.