Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Not Brain Surgery

At various points in my life, I recall my dad saying these words when he thought any of us were over-reacting to anything: “Chill, it’s not brain surgery.”  An account of the last 4 weeks of my life has made those words more real than ever before.

Four Saturday’s ago, I went to the optometrist for what I thought would be a routine eye check-up. Five years ago I had Lasik surgery and had been seeing fine (with the exception of the old age need for reading glasses), so I had never thought to go to the eye doctor. Prior to this appointment, I had been having some “weirdness” going on in my eyes. For months, I had dealt with what seemed like eye fatigue and frequent headaches but didn’t think much of it. After an extensive eye exam, the doctor told me that I had pressure on my retina and that I either had a tumor or a pseudo-tumor and, untreated, I was going blind. She wanted me to see an ophthalmologist ASAP. I walked away understanding that this tumor possibility was on my retina so when I did the obligatory Google search, that was what I was researching. There is very little info on retina tumors but they do exist. I gave up the search and decided to just wait.

On the next Wednesday morning, I was seen by the ophthalmologist. He made the diagnosis a wee bit clearer: yes, I was going blind, if untreated, but the tumor or pseudo-tumor was on the brain and not the retina. He wanted me to get in to see a neuro-ophthalmologist within a week.

First thing the next morning, I received a call from the office of the neuro-ophthalmologist. They had received my file and wanted me to come in that morning. Two doctors ran several test – one would check and then the other would immediately confirm with a second opinion. The results: yes, I did have a pseudo-tumor that needed attention but they did not think there was a brain tumor. To be sure, they ordered a CAT scan that day (nothing there, read into this however you’d like) and then an MRI. The MRI did not show a tumor either. A pseudo-tumor acts like a tumor and produces the same symptoms but is because of pressure and fluid – in my case, behind the eyes – and is dangerous if untreated. My symptoms are in both eyes. The first line of treatment is tomorrow - a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). This will relieve some of the pressure. Other treatment will be determined next week.

The most intense part of all of this was the morning I received the call to get to the neuro-opthalmologist - immediately. Cyndi went with me to this appointment so as to have a second set of ears and to write things down – lots of info was flowing fast. As we drove up, she asked me if I was fearful. As a tribute to the peace which passes all understanding as it flows from our Lord Jesus Christ, I could honestly say, “No.”
During this time, I kept thinking of the words of Jesus, “It is better to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell” (Mark 9:47). I particularly dwelt on, “It is better to enter heaven (the Kingdom of God at glorification).” Is this out of context? Perhaps, slightly. Although, a Christian should always use adverse situations to examine herself and this verse is about loving God more than sin. I will not go into what the Lord has shown me here. No matter what, the idea that living for the Kingdom is better resonates throughout scripture. I took great comfort in this. I began to think about what is better:

It is better to enter heaven than to have physical sight.
It is better to enter heaven than to have a “normal” brain.
It is better to enter heaven than to have physical health in general.
It is better to enter heaven than to have a bank account.
It is better to enter heaven than to be entertained.
It is better to enter heaven than to have the approval of man.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Reasons People Doubt Their Salvation - Part 2

Unbelief. God does not turn away the repentant sinner. Roans 10,
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”; 13 for “ Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
You will be saved – verse 9
Resulting in salvation – verse 10
Will not be disappointed – verse 11
Will be saved – Verse 13

Is the problem unbelief? Have you turned to Christ and now you don’t believe? If that is the case, confess your unbelief and take God at His Word and then rest, Matthew 11:
28 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

 If you have never believed in the first place, then call upon the Lord to save you.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Reasons People Doubt Their Salvation - Part 1

This is the first of a short series of reason someone might doubt their salvation followed by sources and statements that have helped me. 

The most obvious is that you aren’t saved. If this is the case, then you need to repent of your sin and turn to Christ as the only source of salvation. Turning to Christ means you believe on His life, death, burial, and resurrection as the source of your salvation. You realize that your sin is deserving of eternal damnation in hell and there is absolutely nothing you can do to pay the penalty. You know that you are desperately lost and that your only hope is the faith that God is giving at the present moment to depend upon the substitutionary atonement for your sin. The whole picture is salvation by grace alone. You can know that He is calling you if you have the faith to believe. You can know that He has given you the faith to believe if He is calling you.

II Corinthians 13:5
  Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

Ephesians 2:1-10
 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.