A BENEDICTION OF GRATITUDE FOR A SUCCESSFUL 2nd SURGERY!

It has now been 7 weeks since my colostomy reversal surgery. I am so grateful for all of your intercessory prayers for both this 2nd surgery and throughout my recovery. One of the greatest blessings of this 6-month “valley of adversity” was having a divine appointment, to witness extensively to the surgeon, who conducted both surgeries in FL. Our Heavenly Father long ago taught Dianne and I the biblical promise that, ‘Our Lord and Savior is in ultimate and overarching control of every valley of adversity, which He ordains for us to walk through’. We were also graciously instructed with the vital truth that, ‘Every season of affliction and adversity is an opportunity to magnify Jesus Christ in the midst of the storm’! As a matter of fact, when I received the initial news on May 16th that I was about to enter into emergency surgery for the sake of my life, Philippians 1:20 immediately came to my consciousness; “So now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death”. I knew that I was called to “sanctify my suffering”, with a heart attitude of true worship of my Lord, who is a very present help in time of trouble! I also knew in my heart, that this adversity was a divine summons for us to involve ourselves in evangelistic intercession for divine appointments and Gospel opportunities; and to maintain a readiness to take those opportunities to proclaim the Gospel to those whom God would bring within our sphere of influence!

Soon after my emergency surgery in May, the Lord opened numerous doors to witness to my surgeon. He later told me that he had been an agnostic for many years. He spent his childhood in communist Cuba. But his family escaped the Castro regime and migrated to Detroit, MI, when he was only 8 years old. God used our ‘shared experience with the nation of Cuba’ to open his heart toward me in an unusual manner. He would actually linger in my hospital room; longer than the average surgeon usually stays, before exiting to visit the next patient. At times, he was even doing the nurse’s work, (as the nurse would shockingly look on), as I continued to witness to him! As the time for the 2nd surgery approached, Dianne and I both were praying and received a solid assurance that we were to return to FL for the colostomy reversal. It could have been accomplished in Mobile in much larger facilities. But we knew that we should return to Lake City, so that we could seek further opportunities to plant the glorious Gospel seed in the heart of this surgeon, who was used to save my physical life.

After the surgery was completed and I was dismissed, we knew that we would have to remain in Lake City until all of my bodily functions were working again. We would have a follow-up visit in a few days with the surgeon. I will never forget sitting in my surgeon’s examination room and hearing these words from him, “I want you to stay here in Lake City, until everything is working properly. However, I want to get your cell phone number, for I want to invite you to come over to my house on Friday night. I have some questions that I want to ask you.” Now, I have seen a lot of physicians since my first health crisis in 2003. But I have never had a surgeon invite me to come to his house, to talk about the word of God!

Our Lord amazingly opened the door for me to witness to my surgeon in his own home, (for 2½ hours)! He shared with me that he had two horrible experiences with ‘established religion’, that caused him to walk out the doors of both the Catholic religion and later the Episcopal Church, well over 25 years ago! He had become an agnostic, who was also a workaholic. He shared that he has been divorced for 15 years, living alone in this very elaborate house. His main hobby has been flying airplanes, and he has his own plane. And yet, he later said these words to me, “Something is missing in my life. My 89 year old father, (who has always been an avowed atheist), recently said to me, ‘I think that I have been wrong about this matter of belief in God.’ ” This statement from his own father has caused him to think about what he believes.

He had a number of very good questions, which our Lord graciously answered through this earthen vessel, using the Word of God. I was blessed with the precious opportunity to clearly declare the “bad news of his terrible problem before God”; as well as, “the great and glorious news of God’s tremendous provision in the Gospel”. Near the end of this 2½-hour conversation, I told him (concerning his excellent medical work) that; "God had placed me (in my medical emergency) at the right place time, at the right place and with the right man". He responded by saying, "I believe that this is exactly how God has used you in my life”! Now when I received his invitation, Dianne and I decided to buy a MacArthur Study Bible and have his name inscribed on the cover. I gave it to him that night. Upon the conclusion of our visit, he asked me, “Where should I began reading?” So I placed a marker in the Gospel of John. I closed this Divine appointment by telling my surgeon, "If I would have had to go through all of this physical suffering again, in order to have this evening with you, then I would gladly do it!" Friends, my Lord and Savior voluntarily sacrificed Himself, as the sinless substitute, in order to redeem my soul. So certainly, there is no temporary physical sacrifice or suffering which could possibly be compared to the eternal joy of Heaven, if I am used as His messenger unto the repentance of one never-dying soul!

Please pray with me that my surgeon would enter through at the narrow gate. He has recently stated to another physician at that same hospital, who is a dear brother in the Lord saying, “I love the study Bible. The notes are really helping me to understand”.

PROMISES AND ADMONITIONS FROM ISAIAH 62

“For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who remind the Lord, do not keep silent, (take no rest for yourselves), and give Him no rest until He establishes and until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” - Isaiah 62:1 & 6-7

In the original context of this passage, the prophet of God is facing the desperate condition of the nation of Israel. The Chaldean Army is about to conquer the people of God and carry them away into Babylonian captivity. And yet, God has also given the promise of a coming restoration of a remnant in the future. However, remember that this passage is also written for our admonition. There is much that the followers of Jesus Christ can glean from this text of scripture. For there is a clarion call to all of us to heed God’s mandate to us, in the midst of these days of declension, desolation and discouragement. This passage contains some very practical steps which comprise a “call to action” for every believer. The prophet is heavily burdened over the people of God. We too, should be deeply concerned over the present condition of the church of our Lord Jesus. Did you notice that the prophet is not primarily troubled over the condition of the pagans around him. On the contrary, he is primarily and profoundly grieved over the present condition of the people of God. I submit to you that, “the great tragedy of present day America is not chiefly the condition of this nation. The catastrophic calamity of our nation is the present anemic and lethargic condition of much of the visible evangelical church”! Yet in the midst of it all, our Lord has given His believing remnant a precious promise of His preservation, His protection, and of their final glory.

Our ascended Lord is constantly working to build His church!

The divine promise of our Lord and Savior is that, “He will not rest until His redeemed church is completely built and His purpose of redeeming His bride is fully accomplished.” The Lord of the church is firmly focused on gathering in His bride from every tribe, tongue, nation and people group. This was His agenda from before the creation of the universe. This is the very reason that He set His face like a flint, to endure the physical and spiritual horrors of Calvary’s Cross. Consequently, the Chief Builder has pledged that He will complete the ingathering of the reward for His suffering. Our Great High Priest ever lives to make intercession for His saints, as they carry out His great mission! His exalted presence at the right hand of the Majesty on high is the guarantee that all of His prayers, (which He prayed for His people in John 17), will be fully and finally answered. Additionally, the Spirit of God has promised to be manifestly present with those who are on mission with Him, in this holy expedition of man-fishing and disciple-making. However dear brothers and sisters, the Lord’s commitment to build His church is no excuse for personal apathy and corporate idleness on our part.

Conversely, the Lord’s promise to complete this great mission should fill every follower with a holy zeal to be actively employing God’s means to carry out His great mission, in a most fearless and faithful manner! I desire to remind you of our personal and corporate responsibilities, in these vital days in which we life in the midst of this collapsing culture.

Our voices should be continually heard on earth!

“I have set watchman on your walls, they shall never keep silent, all day and all night.” - In seasons of wartime, these watchmen were the guards who watched closely for the approach of the enemy. If they identified an advancing enemy, they would sound an alarm and call the solders to battle. Friends, they are multitudes of present day enemies, who are seeking to attack the redeemed church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those enemies fall into the two overarching categories, which we could label as “doctrinal defilement and moral corruption” within the local church. May I say that every local pastor is personally responsible to be a faithful watchman over his local flock, which is the pillar and ground of the truth! But, if a local pastor is failing to both proclaim and apply the sound doctrine of the rightly divided Word of God, he is worse than a traitor to the Great Shepherd! This certainly includes an itinerant preacher like myself! “I will not hold my peace. I will not keep silent.” In addition to the local pastor, every born again follower of Jesus must also fulfill his duty to be a faithful and fervent watchman. For our voices must also be heard on the earth. We must be equipped and available to “take opportunities and make opportunities” to proclaim the glorious Gospel truths to sinners. Oh dear friends, may each one of us renew our personal commitment to be ‘consistently speaking to sinners on behalf of our Lord’. May each of us make a fresh commitment to our Lord, that we will not keep silent. Instead of succumbing to a wicked passivity, our voices are to be ringing out to faithfully and fervently proclaim “the bad news and the good news” to the ears of sinners. We must utterly refuse to be vacillating and spasmodic, concerning God’s great mission. But with deep desire and dedicated determination, our voices are going to persist in heralding the message of our King, within our sphere of influence.

Our voices should be continually heard in Heaven!

“You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves.” - We must also be passionate and persistent to compassionately speak to our Lord on behalf of sinners! For it is by evangelistic intercession, that we beseech the Savior on behalf of lost sinners. In the days in which this prophecy was initially written, oriental kings maintained a “throne room officer” in their court. This officer’s sole purpose was to remind the king of the promises which he had previously made to his subjects. Occasionally, the officer would bring those commitments to the king’s remembrance by saying, “Your majesty, you promised to do such and such a thing. So may it please you to perform your promise.” Our God has given us great and precious promises in His holy Word. And may I remind you that, “God is not a man that he should lie. Has he spoken it, and shall He not bring it to past? Has He said it and shall He not do it?” Our faithful Father invites us to call upon Him, to seek His face, to remind Him of His promises, and to plead with Him, “Lord! do as You have said!” Our God delights to hear and answer the intercession of His children, according to His will and in His perfect timing! Listen to Isaiah 43:26, in which our Redeemer gives a charge to His people, “Put Me in remembrance”! Oh but Ed, our Lord is the God who is omniscient. He has always known everything. He has never had to remember anything. So why is God commanding us to remind Him of His promises? Friend, it is not for His sake, that our Lord invites us to remind Him of His promises. It is for our sakes! He is charging us to “fill our hearts and minds with the promises of God”. And then, order our petitions and invoke our prayers, in alignment with His promises. Dear friend, if you intercede without a promise, you have no reason to expect an answer. But if we come to our faithful God and remind Him of His great and precious promises, then we can intercede with confidence and expectation that our God will answer according to His will and in His perfect and wise timing! “Take no rest for yourselves and give Him no rest...” We must carry those evangelistic intercessions to our Lord with an incessant perseverance. In other words, keep on asking; keep on seeking; and keep on knocking! Dear brother and sister, don’t give up; don't give in; and don’t give out, until you see God’s answer. Give your Father no rest, until He hears and answers. You certainly recall the illustration which our Lord Jesus employed Our voices should be continually heard on earth! Our voices should be continually heard in Heaven! 3 A BENEDICTION OF GRATITUDE FOR A SUCCESSFUL 2nd SURGERY! SURGERY! It has now been 7 weeks since my colostomy reversal surgery. I am so grateful for all of your intercessory prayers for both this 2nd surgery and throughout my recovery. One of the greatest blessings of this 6-month “valley of adversity” was having a divine appointment, to witness extensively to the surgeon, who conducted both surgeries in FL. Our Heavenly Father long ago taught Dianne and I the biblical promise that, ‘Our Lord and Savior is in ultimate and overarching control of every valley of adversity, which He ordains for us to walk through’. We were also graciously instructed with the vital truth that, ‘Every season of affliction and adversity is an opportunity to magnify Jesus Christ in the midst of the storm’! As a matter of fact, when I received the initial news on May 16th that I was about to enter into emergency surgery for the sake of my life, Philippians 1:20 immediately came to my consciousness; “So now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death”. I knew that I was called to “sanctify my suffering”, with a heart attitude of true worship of my Lord, who is a very present help in time of trouble! I also knew in my heart, that this adversity was a divine summons for us to involve ourselves in evangelistic intercession for divine appointments and Gospel opportunities; and to maintain a readiness to take those opportunities to proclaim the Gospel to those whom God would bring within our sphere of influence! Soon after my emergency surgery in May, the Lord opened numerous doors to witness to my surgeon. He later told me that he had been an agnostic for many years. He spent his childhood in communist Cuba. But his family escaped the Castro regime and migrated to Detroit, MI, when he was only 8 years old. God used our ‘shared experience with the nation of Cuba’ to open his heart toward me in an unusual manner. He would actually linger in my hospital room; longer than the average surgeon usually stays, before exiting to visit the next patient. At times, he was even doing the nurse’s work, (as the nurse would shockingly look on), as I continued to witness to him! As the time for the 2nd surgery approached, Dianne and I both were praying and received a solid assurance that we were to return to FL for the colostomy reversal. It could have been accomplished in Mobile in much larger facilities. But we knew that we should return to Lake City, so that we could seek further opportunities to plant the glorious Gospel seed in the heart of this surgeon, who was used to save my physical life. After the surgery was completed and I was dismissed, we knew that we would have to remain in Lake City until all of my bodily functions were working again. We would have a follow-up visit in a few days with the surgeon. I will never forget sitting in my surgeon’s examination room and hearing these words from him, “I want you to stay here in Lake City, until everything is working properly. However, I want to get your cell phone number. (Continued) concerning, ‘The man, who was seeking bread from his neighbor on behalf of a visitor who had come to him in the darkness of night. He kept on knocking until he received his request on behalf of his visitor’. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit, with all of His commensurate blessings, to those who ask Him!” But Ed, I have been interceding for a particular person for many years, and I have yet to received the blessing! My precious wife and I interceded for the conversion of my earthly father for 26 years before we received our Lord’s answer. Never forget, that as long as the object of your intercession is still breathing, they remain to be a potential object of the mercy of God! Do you have a biblical vision of what the church is meant to be, in these dark days? Do you see the stark contrast with much of the church’s present slumbering and slothful condition? Then brothers and sisters, let each of us make a new commitment to be watchmen on the wall. Let us take no rest in personally employing the personal proclamation of the Gospel and passionate evangelistic intercession.