Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

May the presence of the Lord Jesus fill your Christmas.
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) Matthew 1:23.
 — with Charlyn Thomasson.

Monday, December 16, 2013


In many ways life is a series of seasons strung together.  You find yourself in one season and then it comes to an end, and then you find yourself in another.  The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1, There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Last Monday I had my annual checkup with my oncologist.  The report on my health was good.  And I’m certainly thankful to the Lord for His grace and mercy.  But something else happened which affected me emotionally.  My oncologist told me he was going to retire and this was the last time I would see him.  My first response was “No, you can’t do that.”  Though I said it half-jokingly that’s how I really felt.  And in the short time that we had left after he told me, I couldn’t get all the words together to express my gratefulness to him.  Time was up.  I’m planning on writing a letter to him to express my heartfelt thanks.  But at the end of my appointment with Dr. Marks last Monday, our season together ended.

It has been a twenty-seven year association as doctor and patient.  Ultimately God is the One Who extended my life and I give Him all the glory.  But I also acknowledge that He worked through my doctor to give me life.  On the medical end of it Dr. Marks saved my life.  I had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease stage three out of four.  I was given a fifty percent chance of living.  My life had just been flipped over into rough seas in a horrific storm and I didn’t know if I would survive.  A tremendous strain was suddenly placed on my wife.  The upheaval in our way of living threw a “normal” home life of raising two children, a two year old and a three month old, into an upsetting routine of every two weeks Mommy and Daddy taking them to a baby sitter to spend a couple of days so Daddy could go to the doctor and then come home sick (my chemo nurse in good humor would say she had to make me sick to make me well). 

After seven surgeries/procedures, a year of chemo therapy, chest x-rays, CAT scans, PET scans, and numerous visits with Dr. Marks for twenty-seven years, last Monday he said, “Good bye and stay well.”  To be open with you I feel a sense of loss.  The connection was severed.  The season ended.  And though it ended with a victory, I still feel some grief.  I will miss him.  And though at times he was very clinical and straightforward with me, I am very thankful for him and his care.  So I feel a sense of grief, but I also feel a sense of joy.  I have much to be thankful for and I rejoice in what God has done and what He has done through my oncologist.  I have learned much.  I’ve been able to share my belief in Christ with him.  I’ve learned to trust God more.

Such are the seasons of life.  They come and they go.  And many times grief and loss are associated with the going of them and sometimes with the coming of them. 

But a season is more than just a span of time.  It carries with it “opportunity”.  Opportunity is the intrinsic value of a season.   Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don’t be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God (Ephesians 5:15-17 Ph.).

Even in your difficult seasons, opportunity is waiting.  Dig it out and use, and use it wisely according to God’s purpose.  This is your chance.  The season will pass and with it the opportunity.  Don’t waste it.  Because God is all-wise and all-knowing and ultimately in control of all, meaning and purpose can be found in even the difficult seasons of life, and that gives rise to wise use of the opportunities which come with them.

Monday, December 2, 2013


The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned … For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7).

What great news for all believers in Christ!  A Light has dawned.  The darkness is pushed back.  Salvation has come.  There is a glorious future.  Isaiah’s prophecy tells us of the birth of Christ and His everlasting government of peace.  It would seem that these events are closely joined in time.

I went to college in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.  I recall many times standing at an overlook and gazing at the mountain tops which appeared in rows, one behind the other.  I didn’t see the valleys or the space between them.  All I saw were the mountain tops that appeared to be close to one another.

This is how the Old Testament prophets saw many of their prophecies.  They saw the mountain top events all at once but not the space between them.  That’s why Isaiah said that Jesus was born and in the same sentence that He would be the ruler.  At first glance it would appear that the Child would grow up and as an adult set up His unending government and He would be called the Mighty God – all in a matter of a few years.  But those are just the mountain tops.  Space and time exist between them. 

One mountain top event has occurred – the birth of Jesus, God in the flesh.  And we celebrate His first appearance on earth with Christmas.  He has since given His life as a sacrifice for our sins, physically risen from the dead in a glorified body, and ascended back to Heaven with the promise of His return.

Another mountain top is looming – Jesus’ return.  Only His next appearance will not be as a child, but as the Righteous Ruler of all, Who will settle the score and set up His government forever. 

Christmas reminds us of the past and the future – the past when Jesus came the first time and the future when He comes again.  We live between those two mountain top events.  And we’re on our way to the second.  Your journey in the valley between will determine how prepared you are when one day you find yourself face to face with that second mountain top event. 

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:8-10).

Live daily in the joyful light of Christ’s salvation knowing that you have an eternal salvation on that next mountain top.