We're a Needy Bunch

It's no secret among those who know me that I really, really don't like cold weather.  I know I'm a wimp and need to man up and just wear warm clothes, but deep down I just don't like it.  I just can never seem to get warm, I stay all tensed up and feel sore at night, and I itch ... and the primary itch is always in the place I can't reach on my back! I've been told to moisturize ... which is a great idea except that spot on my back I can't scratch is the same spot I can't reach to moisturize. I obviously need help with this.

Speaking of help, through some of my evangelistic work I've built a relationship with a guy who has recently fallen again into drug abuse. I've been able to offer some help the past few days ... picked him up from a seedy hotel room, helped him empty a garbage can full of vomit, helped him research rehab options, helped him communicate with his family, helped him with food and housing, and helped him get into a homeless shelter. And while this friend's needs are vast and very visible, we all have some deep needs that require help from others, even if they aren't so visible. God didn't make us to live life alone ... we are designed to live in community, to be dependent on one another, and to use our gifts and resources for the benefit of others. We're truly a needy group of people.

Just this morning I dropped off my friend at a homeless shelter. Even after all the things I've done to "help" this fellow, I'm honestly not sure I've really and truly "helped" him at all. I walked out of the facility nearly in tears, reminded of the fact that I'm literally helpless and can't fix my friend. Ultimately, the greatest help I can give anyone is to point them to the One who can (and does) give us exactly what we need ... grace, forgiveness, salvation, cleansing, life.

Bottom line = we need each other. Let's not neglect meeting together, encouraging one another, serving one another, and pointing one another to Jesus Christ who meets all our needs.

Reflections on a Dying Community

This past weekend I was down in my hometown of Chattahoochee, FL for my 40th high school reunion ... Class of 1977 ... the Yellow Jackets of Chattahoochee High School. My hometown isn't really thriving these days. The high school closed down several years ago and the elementary school will shut down operation after this year ... hard to have a vibrant community without any educational opportunities. The downtown business district is about half deserted. A number of homes are for sale. I preached Sunday at my home church to a crowd (including Anita and me) of 15 people. The town is so run down the closest grocery store is now 5-7 miles away. You may be asking the logical question ... "What happened?"

The whole economy of the town has been largely based on the Florida State Hospital ... Florida's oldest and largest mental institution. In it's heyday, FSH had around 10,000 or more patients ... now it's down to around 1,000.  As a result many, many jobs have been eliminated. The nearby prison, Apalachee Correctional Institution, is also smaller than it used to be, thus also contributing to the lack of job opportunities. The Corps of Engineer's station that used to employ a number of families doesn't exist anymore. The railroad station, that in my grandparent's time was the big deal in town, is closed. So as you can see, the economic base that used to support the community has disappeared.  It's sad to see the old places I knew and enjoyed as a child slowly vanish. What's left is a community that is wounded, hurting, and struggling for its survival. Those at my reunion who still live in Chattahoochee are discouraged about their future and have little hope. They shared reports of rampant drug abuse and other such activity in the town.

This sounds like a situation where the Gospel could have a major impact. Both OT and NT give special focus on God's care for the weak, suffering, widow, poor, broken, fatherless, hurting, disenfranchised, etc. Certainly in Scripture we observe our Lord Jesus caring for such folks. It would seem that the church, in our desire to follow Him, would have this same desire to care for these people. But what I've both seen and experienced is the church retreating from such communities. I've been told those places can't adequately "support" a church ... at least not like the church from which those people who say that come from, typically a fairly wealthy congregation with lots of staff and programs.

Let me clarify a bit. This is fundamentally a commentary on my own denomination. Actually, the "church" is prominent in Chattahoochee and in many poor, dying communities throughout our country. The "church" is doing quite well in places around the world that are characterized by poverty, suffering, and persecution. I fear that we, the PCA (and other prominent, conservative, evangelical denominations) have bought into something rather un-biblical and problematic.

I realize I'm rambling a bit here and apologize ... but just wrestling with some questions after being back in Chattahoochee for a weekend. Will you join me in wrestling with these same questions about the ministry we conduct here at Community Presbyterian in Moody? God loves hurting people ... messy people ... broken people ... discouraged people ... poor people ... lost people. Pray with me and let's ask our Father to align our hearts with His and use us to move toward the people for whom He has a unique love.

Certainty in an Uncertain World

I'm a proud and lifelong FSU fan! I grew up near Tallahassee, FL and from infancy have attended and enjoyed various Florida State sporting events. Even as this year's disappointing football season comes to a close my allegiance doesn't waver a bit. As a young child, even up through my high school years, FSU football was mediocre at best and often downright dismal. But along came Bobby Bowden in 1976 and since that time Florida State has been among the best in the nation. Since 1976 we've only had 2 head coaches while our rivals at the University of Florida have had 12, Alabama has had 9, and Auburn has had 6. Stability is a wonderful thing!

And while us FSU fans are now accustomed to such stability we're perhaps on the verge of losing our coach, Jimbo Fisher. And while I don't know enough of what's actually going on behind the scenes to make any intelligent comment about the pros and cons of him leaving, I can absolutely say that it's frustrating not knowing who your coach is going to be next season ... or even next week! And to be honest, this isn't the first time Fisher has flirted with the possibility of leaving. After each of the past 3 seasons he and his agent have allowed his name to float around as a possible candidate for other jobs (actually it's happened more than just these past 3 years!) It's been generally understood that this was done to gain some "leverage" in negotiating higher salaries for himself and assistant coaches as well as for better facilities and such. But it seems like the school administration is tiring of this yearly event and, combined with an extremely disappointing season, may be calling his bluff and allowing him to have to make the decision this time. Regardless, for us fans it's a nerve-wracking and distracting process.

Of course, in the big scheme of things, worrying about a football coach's commitment to you is trivial. There are myriads of kids who will go to bed tonight wondering if both parents will still be in the home next week. A large part of the work force lives in constant fear that their boss may terminate their job soon. Huge numbers of church members across America wonder if their pastor will stay or go. Business people stress over the common practice of people backing out on contracts. Aging parents live with the anxiety that their children may eventually abandon them as they become too burdensome.  Millions of husbands and wives are concerned about their spouse's faithfulness to the marriage. If you're reading this, you're probably right now concerned about somebody's faithfulness and commitment to you. The world we live in is broken, commitments are forsaken and broken every day.

But if we're a child of God there's one person we NEVER have to worry about leaving us or breaking a contract!

  • "I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offpsiring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant." - Genesis 17:7
  • "I will not leave you or forsake you" - Joshua 1:5
  • "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23
  • "For the Lord will not forsake his people." - Psalm 94:15
  • "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. - John 10:28-29
  • "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39

Living by Faith ... or to be honest, by Fear

It's been interesting to speak with friends from other parts of the USA the past couple of weeks. Bet you can guess what they're asking ... "So what's the deal with Roy Moore and the church's obsession with supporting him?"  I never really know how to answer that. Is Roy Moore guilty? ... I have no idea.  Obviously the timing of these accusations raises some suspicion of political motivations. But also the responses from both him and those he's allowed to speak on his behalf are completely unsatisfactory, especially those voices from within the evangelical Christian community.  But this article isn't about Roy Moore ... rather it's about those of us who profess to believe in and follow Jesus Christ.

The Scripture says "the righteous shall live by faith." We see this in Habakkuk, Romans, and Galatians. It's the truth that was foundational for Martin Luther as he wrestled with things that ultimately helped lead to the Protestant Reformation. It's a truth that we profess to accept and live by. Yet my concern is that we use faith to "accept Christ as Savior" but then rather quickly move away from faith as we live out our daily lives.  I'll attempt to briefly explain.

This fallen world we live in is a very scary and uncertain place. We live in fear that things may not go the way we want them to go. We don't like that feeling and will do what we can to address it. We feel somewhat responsible to make sure things turn out to be okay - with our country, with our children, with our marriage, with our finances, for our retirement, with our church, etc.  With this commitment to do whatever it takes to make things turn out okay we often find ourselves willing to compromise, even in areas where we swore we never would. Holiness gives way to pragmatism. We put so much hope in the worldly system that we're willing to bypass trust in a sovereign God.  Our commitment is no longer really to Christ, but rather to a certain way of life that we feel we deserve ... Jesus merely becomes a means to get the things we really want.

Whether you're Republican or Democrat, is one seat in the Senate worth moral compromise?(think Roy Moore, Al Franken - again, I have no idea of their guilt or innocence; and this isn't about them but rather those who speak blindly in support of them)  Is my particular lifestyle or retirement plan worth the failure to give generously and sacrificially to the Lord's church? Is my own level of personal comfort worth breaking or just not pursuing certain relationships within the body of Christ? Does my obsession with raising perfect children get in the way of my treating them with dignity and respect? Does my desire for the ideal church prevent me from welcoming a diversity of people and ideas?

If you're at all like me, you much prefer to trust in yourself and in the things we can see. This living by faith deal is sketchy at best. However, the Word of God speaks loudly to me and reminds me that when things get rough I am to rely on God.

Consider Isaiah 31 - With the threat of an Assyrian invasion, God's people are being advised to go down to Egypt for help. Surely assistance from this military and economic super-power will provide the needed help. But the Lord says, "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!" (Isa 31:1)

This truth is still applicable to us today. While it's tempting to put our trust in the powerful things we can see, we're called to live by faith in the Holy One, our Almighty and eternal God, who has already conquered sin and death by the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus, who is coming again to literally make all things right.

Scary Church Words

Christianity and the church employ some very scary terms and words - judgment, wrath, Hell, Satan, evil, wickedness, etc. But not just words like these that sound harsh ... some of the scariest words are those we believe are really good and positive - obedience, accountability, repentance, discipleship, holiness, etc. Great words, but scary when we think about the implications these words have on our lives. Hopefully, our study of Leviticus is helping all of us to see just how HOLY God is and what that means for us.

But here I want to address what may be the most frightening of all words in the Christian vocabulary = Evangelism. The average Christian would rather have a sharp stick in the eye than to have to do evangelism. Even the thought of it makes us nervous, anxious, frightened, sweaty, and even terrified. We're intimidated by the idea of evangelism. We get panicky when the prospect of it is presented to us. The thought of visiting the Atrox Factory on a nightly basis seems to be more comforting. Why? Have you ever really stopped to consider why evangelism is such a scary word to us as Christians?

To be honest, we do evangelism every day. PCA pastor Kevin DeYoung is absolutely right with his thought, "I'm convinced that we're all evangelists for the things and the people we love most."  How many of us have "evangelized" someone within the past week about Alabama or Auburn football? (no FSU jokes allowed here)  How many of us have "evangelized" others about a particular restaurant or food item you recently enjoyed? Have you "evangelized" anyone lately about your doctor? ... your favorite musician? ... your hair stylist? ... your child's best teacher or coach? ... your preferred brand of automobile, cola, weed killer, bank, etc?  The fact is we do "evangelism" every single day as we tell others the "good news" of whatever it is we love, appreciate, and enjoy. Maybe DeYoung is helping us to see our problem is a heart problem, a problem with what we truly love and enjoy. Seems like our first step here is repentance!

Many of you know that the Lord has taken me into some Gospel evangelistic work this past year. I've worked with a ministry called Evangelize Today and it's led me into some locations, situations, and relationships that I would have never, ever predicted. The Session has graciously allowed me to continue with this ministry for another year and I'm certain it will again require me to press into some situations with unbelievers that I can't even begin to fathom right now. My mentor, Allan Dayhoff, calls it doing ministry "in the wild" and he's exactly right.

A large part of this second year of ministry with Evangelize Today will be the development of an evangelism ministry uniquely and specifically designed for Community Presbyterian Church. I'm currently looking for some who would be willing to join me in this journey "into the wild" as we seek to proclaim the good news to the many, many lost people in our communities. Will this make you anxious and sweaty? ... will it be intimidating? ... is it scary? ... will it lead you into places and relationships you've never dreamed possible?  The answer to all these questions is a big fat YES. But I'm offering a money back guarantee that you'll absolutely enjoy it and will wonder why we've never pushed into this type ministry before.  If you're at all interested in joining in this journey, even just to find out more info, please contact me and let me know.

 

Another Church Shooting

I know you’re as saddened as I am about what just happened at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX. There are really no words to express the horror of this heartbreaking event that took the lives of a reported 4% of the town’s population. This tragedy is a continuation of shootings of recent months and years in places of worship … a September 2017 church shooting in Antioch, TN; a June 2015 shooting in an Charleston, SC church; a 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee. Of course, Birmingham itself has history of church violence with the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

What are we to do? How are we to think? Is there a correct response? Is there something we can do to insure something like this never happens here? These and other questions are above my pay-grade. Though I wish there was an easy answer to this I just don’t think there is. And while I wish there was a manual on how to prevent tragedy like this from ever impacting our own community, that manual doesn’t exist. We live in a broken world and while I’m certainly not even remotely trying to minimize this tragedy, things like this have happened, are happening, and will happen this side of glory.

So what should we do? I think the first thing is to pray … pray for the families, the church, the law enforcement, and the community affected by this shooting. Pray for God’s grace to be poured out in abundance.

Let’s also pray for ourselves during a time when we perhaps feel a bit more vulnerable, confused, and anxious. Let’s pray that our Father would comfort us and give us grace as we move forward. This should not cause us to live in fear. We shouldn’t count this as some sort of persecution against the church … that persecution may likely come in due time, but this isn’t a part of it. Nearly half of the offenders in shootings such as this know their victims; it’s often related to some other sort of dispute, perhaps a domestic issue. Places of worship tend to be rather easy venues to carry out these attacks. So let’s not fear coming to public worship, but rather let’s be watchful and use good sense. In fact, this may even be an opportunity for us as Christians in America to be even bolder in our attendance. We believe God is our refuge and fortress and that “He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven.” (Heidelberg Catechism)

And let us go forward in hope, knowing that evil doesn’t get the last word, not in this case or in any other.  The cross and the resurrection demonstrate that sin, evil, and death has been defeated … and His imminent return will complete this victory!

Revelation 22:20-21 – “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”

Justice is Served

Though it's been around 10 years ago I remember it like it was yesterday. We had a leak in the water line running from Hwy 411 to our building. A deacon called a plumbing company to come fix the leak. This company came out, did some work, eventually found and repaired the leak, and charged us $7500 for their work. Of course, we were shocked at this outrageous price. We questioned the legitimacy of such a thing but were told they had to dig, not one, but two holes to find the leak and that other companies didn't have the equipment they had. So what was the high tech equipment used to dig these holes? ... shovels! They also reminded us that there were some rocks in these holes that made it harder to dig ... bless their hearts! I remember speaking to the owner on the phone and voicing our complaint, only for him to be very, very dismissive and say he didn't care a bit to whom we reported him and his company. As we shared this with others we heard stories about this same company cheating and overcharging others around town. The company being discussed here - Plumbing 911.

Yesterday I saw in the news that "Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Graffeo ordered Plumbing 911 to permanently cease all plumbing and gas services by Oct 31" and the owner was "ordered to surrender his state license and never again work in the plumbing and gas industry in Alabama." (AL.com)  The Attorney General's complaint against Plumbing 911 includes charges of targeting and cheating Senior Citizens, deceptive pricing, doing work without required permits or licenses, doing unnecessary work on customer's homes, doing substandard work, and damaging homes and leaving the homes in dangerous conditions. So all who've been cheated and abused by this company can now find some solace in the fact that justice has been served.

As Christians we often cry out to God, asking why there is no justice. The Psalms are full of such cries - Psalm 17, 40, 69, 73, 80, 94, and many others contain pleas for justice. Not long ago we studied Habakkuk and examined his cry for justice. In many ways the Protestant Reformation was a cry for justice as Luther and others saw many abusive practices in the church. The Civil Rights movement in America dealt with matters of justice. The current persecution of believers around the world concerns justice. Justice is a theme for which people of all times and places desire.

As Christians we know that justice will be served, that one day when Jesus returns all things will be made right, no longer will the poor and weak be oppressed, things will be the way they should be. In His grace, God gives us an occasional glimpse of this justice - the case of Plumbing 911 being such an example. Being a just God, we know for certain that justice must and will be served. God doesn't just do justice ... He is just. Everything He's ever done, is doing, and will do is entirely just. Being a just God, we know for certain that justice must and will be served.

While justice sounds great, it's a scary thing when I realize I'm probably worse than Plumbing 911 ever thought about being. I've lied, cheated, defrauded, oppressed, misrepresented, done substandard work, and much worse. So where's my hope? In the cross of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:23-26 tells us that God executed both His perfect justice and perfect grace to those who trust in the work of Christ at the cross. So while I do smile at the news of Plumbing 911's demise I must both weep and rejoice at the justice/grace of what Jesus did for me at the cross.

 

 

Amazon HQ2

You may or may not be aware that corporate giant Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, WA, is looking to establish an additional headquarters somewhere in the US. Known as HQ2, this new site is expected to be fully equal to the Seattle location and should employ as many as 50,000 new workers. This will obviously be a huge boost to any local economy, likely in the billions of dollars. No wonder Amazon has received 238 proposals from various cities seeking to entice it to choose them.

Tuscon, AZ sent a 21 foot tall saguaro cactus to Amazon to attract attention. Stonecrest, GA has offered to rename a portion of the city to "Amazon" to show its dedication. A restaurant in Pittsburgh has offered a free sandwich to every Amazon employee should they locate there. Charlotte, NC had an Amazon themed holiday for the city. Even Birmingham go into the action ... the city placed several giant replicas of Amazon's Dash Buttons around town for people to press and send 600 pregenerated tweets to the company with each push. Wonder why Moody or Leeds never got into the mix?

Has there ever been something you wanted so bad that you were willing to do almost anything to get it? It could have been something really big or even somewhat insignificant to others but it absolutely captured your heart and you were committed to get it. Perhaps it was that new car ... a ranking in your graduating class ... that new pair of shoes ... the perfect house in the right neighborhood ... a certain piece of memorabilia ... a relationship with that particular person ... a new job ... grandma's old set of fine china ... recognition for your achievement ... etc. For all of us there was something that we were bound and determined to get and nothing was going to get in our way. We were so determined because whatever that thing was we saw it as absolutely and fundamentally important. 

For some of us, this isn't something from our past but rather something we're going through right now. There is that one thing out there we desperately want and we will not be denied!  How many of us would say this "one thing" is to know the Lord? Or would we be honest and admit that almost anything can, and often does, get in the way of us seeking Him? We have a myriad of excuses and they all seem legitimate ... too busy, kids aren't having fun, burnt out, nobody called me, don't want to be legalistic, don't feel it today, somebody at church upset me, don't like the music, might be sick, don't feel worthy, etc. We've all heard and likely even used some of these excuses at times.

Lord, please give me a heart commitment to want You, desire You, seek after You, not allow anything to get in my way to know You, fight tooth and nail to behold You, persevere in the battle of following You, to gaze upon Your beauty; give me the faith to put aside my excuses and seek you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength; grant me the grace to die to self and live to Christ. 

I'm reminded of this C.S. Lewis quote: 

"It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Psalm 27:4 - "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple."

Pray for me to have this kind of desire ... I'm praying the same for you!

Telemarketing

Yesterday Stokes made the comment that lately he's been inundated with telemarketers and phone solicitations. I mentioned that while I endured a flood of such calls a few weeks ago, recently things had died down. Of course, as you would predict, before the day ended I received such a call and was sufficiently tricked into answering.

You must give these telemarketers credit - they've designed computer programs to bypass "do not call registers" and our basic common sense. When we do slip up and answer, the voice on the other end sounds very "live" and interactive ... nothing like what we'd expect a robo call to sound like. I've learned to not answer when a call pops up from Del Rio, TX or Patriot, OH or Bainbridge Island, WA or even just the USA ... but when a 640 prefix number appears I'm probably going to answer it if I'm available to talk at that time. The enemy has now penetrated our own phone system and is originating these calls in our own back yard!

Yes, I realize that technology can make it look like the call comes from our area when, in fact, the call actually comes from somewhere like Salina, UT ... but that's part of their strategy. Their goal is to just get me to answer by whatever means necessary. This, too, is the strategy of our enemy the devil. He has the technology designed to make me believe whatever he throws at me is good, safe, local, trustworthy, and reputable. He knows better than to call me from Hell's Headquarters or Satan's Simple Slide into Sin Service ... he'll reach out to me from the most innocent sounded sources available. Often his strategy is to make me think the voice of my own conscience is actually the voice of God.  We must stay alert to the enemy's subtle strategies and attacks. Let's remember the exhortations of God's Word:

  • James 4:7-8 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
  • 1 Peter 5:8-9 - Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kids of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

The enemy is real and he wants to distract us, make us miserable, hinder us from obeying God, render us useless for the Kingdom, steal our joy, and tempt us to fall into various sins. But remember the cross where this enemy was defeated ... the weakness of Jesus conquering forever the strength of Satan. Remember the resurrection where Jesus rose victorious over the grave, death, sin, and the curse. Remember the Gospel and go proclaim it to those living in darkness and deception, still on the phone with the enemy.

And one more thing, remember 1 Thessalonians 5:17 - "pray without ceasing."  Perhaps if we stayed on the phone with our Father we wouldn't be so tempted to answer any and every other call that comes our way.

Visit to the Dermatologist

A couple of weeks ago I endured my annual physical exam ... was told I'm overweight (didn't need a Dr. for that diagnosis), blood pressure was okay but need to keep an eye on it, all the poking and prodding revealed no problems, and the blood work was fairly normal.  Today was my annual visit with the Dermatologist. The exam isn't nearly as invasive but it does cover the largest organ in my body ... my skin. So it is rather important.

People gather with me in that waiting room for various reasons. Some were there for cosmetic reasons - botox injections, skin tightening, dark spots, etc. Others for medical reasons such as acne, psoriasis, rashes, warts, etc. And still others are there because of skin cancer concerns. 

I had never seen a dermatologist until a couple of years ago ... didn't really see or feel the need for it. But when, during an annual physical, my Doctor said I have some pre-cancerous looking spots I realized it was time. I guess I could have ignored the spots since they weren't really bothering me or causing discomfort. Perhaps I could have decided to manage these spots by myself.  But wisdom dictated that I get them treated and removed before they developed into something much more severe. Sure enough, when I did visit the dermatologist that first time she said the spots were indeed pre-cancerous and needed to be dealt with.  She also said that more spots would appear over time and that I must give constant attention to my skin. 

All this in some ways makes me think of church - why are people there? what motivates them to come? Let's be honest, not just about other people but about ourselves. We often involve ourselves in the life of the church for cosmetic reasons - we feel like we look better, others will think more highly of us, it makes us happy, we get a good feeling, it eases our conscience, it energizes us for the week, maybe it helps us see some spots in our lives we need to better manage, etc. But our Great Physician has diagnosed us with a much more severe problem = sin. This sin is extensive and pervasive, we're not able to manage it, if not dealt with it will result in death (physical and spiritual), and it keeps reoccurring and must be dealt with constantly.  

There are various ways to treat skin cancer - surgery, excision, laser, radiation, freezing, etc. Today, as expected, Dr. Appell brought out the liquid nitrogen and froze off a few spots. I'll likely be going back for some additional treatment in the next few weeks - pending approval from insurance. But there's really only one treatment for sin - the cross, the substitutionary atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As we consider our motive for church involvement, let's be sure it's not just for cosmetic reasons, let's not try to manage sin on our own (with a little help from Jesus and our friends). Rather we must recognize our sin problem and run together to the healing power of the blood of Jesus Christ ... and not just to apply it to a few spots, but to bathe ourselves in it completely.