Tuesday, April 28, 2009

'Trust in him'

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul's messages were often messages of hope. Some key words in this one: "as you trust in him." So trust can generate hope.

Trust him. And accept the overflow of hope.

(Image from www.heartlight.org)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Approaching your mid-40s or beyond? Watch out

As Stroke Awareness Month approaches, another article illustrating the need for awareness, Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association:

Rates of the most common form of stroke begin to increase sharply after age 44, particularly in men, researchers reported ... .

In a Finnish study of 1,008 ischemic stroke patients less than 50 years old, researchers also found:

• a high frequency of stroke risk factors in young patients;
• a high percentage of “silent” and multiple strokes;
• the pattern of stroke-causing events begins changing in midlife to resemble that of the elderly.

My stroke occurred at age 39 - and I suspect a pretty serious TIA about 10 years earlier. So do a favor for a friend: Remind them of stroke signs.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Take up the cross and follow

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."

Life would be easier, wouldn't it, if we didn't have to take up that cross?

Surprise answer: No! It would not.

As hard as this life's crosses are to bear, consider how bad it would be if you did not have the promise "whoever loses his life for me will save it." Fact of the matter is, we will all lose this life. Your choice: it will end with meaning or end without meaning.

The cross gives the meaning that, at the end of it all, counts.

(Photo by Jeff Porter in Seoul, South Korea)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Upcoming: Stroke Awareness Month

A recent article from US News and World Report shows the need for a stroke awareness campaign:

Fewer than two in five people surveyed knew all five warning signs and knew to call 911, the survey found. The results were to be presented ... at the International Stroke Conference in San Diego.

"We have to make sure that people know the signs and symptoms of stroke because the patient would need to get to the hospital as soon as possible to have a much higher chance of survival and avoiding potential disabilities," the survey's lead author, Dr. Jing Fang, an epidemiologist in the division for heart disease and stroke prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said in a news release issued by the American Stroke Association, which is sponsoring the conference.

This blog will include frequent stroke awareness messages in postings during May, which is Stroke Awareness Month.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He has risen!

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!"

On this day, in this world - despite its pain, suffering and desperation - the word remains: He has risen!

On this, Resurrection Sunday, he remains risen, remains with us. He will remain with us tomorrow, next week, next year, into all generations. He comforts those afflicted. He is ready and waiting to comfort you.

Consider the open tomb - it wasn't open so Jesus could get out. Instead, it was open so that people could seen in, could literally see the good news. The tomb was empty. Death defeated.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Praying for this ability

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect ...

One lingering - or at least, I think it's lingering - outcome of my 1998 stroke is that I'm not quite as quick on my feet in speaking as before. So whenever I get a question about faith in person, it seems that I always stumble.

The other day, I found this verse and it makes sense, as the Bible tends to do: Prepare an answer. If someone asks why, give your prepared answer. Unless you're a highly educated theologian, don't even try to answer every detailed question. Think simple and straightforward. Or at least, that's my personal plan.

Any suggested answers for the why-do-you-believe question?

(Image from www.heartlight.org)

Monday, April 06, 2009

'My mighty rock, my refuge'

My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
It was several years ago. We were in the St. Louis area when the storm came. First clue that it wasn't a typical summer storm: A burst of wind knocked a too-close-for-comfort traffic light off its bracket. The race to refuge began.

Limbs began falling and flashes of light came as power lines fell. First stop: to pick up our youngest daughter close by. That was accomplished. Then, we found refuge in a parking garage, almost empty on a Saturday in downtown Clayton, Mo.

We sighed in relief.

This week is Holy Week in most Christian calendars. On Friday, we consider and, yes, celebrate the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on a cross. Why celebrate such a thing? Because we know how this race to refuge ended.

For on Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and in him, as his disciples found, we have refuge.

How many races to refuge have you experienced? As a stroke survivor, I remember - in bits and pieces - that struggle to find refuge. Like the day we found shelter in a parking garage, my refuge was at hand. In Christ, we can find, time and time again, that shelter in life's storms.

(Photo from National Weather Service, Rapid City, S.D.)