Basal Cell Carcinoma: A Lesson On Neglecting Sin

Basal Cell Carcinoma: A Lesson On Neglecting Sin

Basal cells are the producers of new skin cells when the old cells die, and when exposed to ultraviolet rays, these cells can become cancerous. If neglected, a person can suffer serious disfigurement or, in some cases, the basal cell carcinoma can spread. It can spread to the muscles, nerves, bones, and even the brain. In rare cases, it can even lead to death. The good news is it is easily treatable, and even curable. Treatments can include cutting it out, killing the cells with electricity, freezing them, radiation, cream, or surgery. This is a very brief description; check out the links below for more information.

So, why would I choose basal cell carcinoma as a topic for this blog post? The reason is simple; I am a very foolish man. Over the course of the last two months, I have had two surgeries to have this type of cancer removed from the base of my neck. For over a decade, I have had a place on my upper back that I have neglected to have checked. Initially, I thought it was nothing more than a pimple or something similar and gave it no thought. As the years passed, however, and it continued to grow, I let my fear of what it might be keep me from going to a doctor. Unfortunately, my fear came true, but I woefully lacked the proper information.

Had I simply gone to a dermatologist, or even taken the time to research my condition, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble. I could have also avoided a lot of unnecessary pain. If I would have received a proper diagnosis several years ago, the two surgeries might not have been necessary. Of course, I would have first had to admit I had a problem. This is why I chose to write this post.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This verse, 1st John 1:9, says if we confess, he will forgive. It is so simple; confession brings forgiveness. But, what happens if we don’t confess—beyond the fact of eternal damnation, that is? One single, unconfessed sin, no matter how small, affects your life. Why? Because it never remains small. One sin never remains just one sin.

For example, if a person steals something and there is no confession, a lie, or lies, is often required to prevent the theft’s discovery. If the lie doesn’t work, perhaps bribery is the next step. And after that, well, you can see where this is going. True, this is a somewhat oversimplified, and even far-fetched, example, but I believe it makes the point. An unconfessed sin, any sin, that is not taken care of immediately is like a cancer that can grow and grow until it becomes unmanageable. It can rob you of your peace, your sleep, your livelihood, friends and family, and even your life.

Let us look at 1st John 1:9 again. “…he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God is ready and waiting to forgive and cleanse us when we sin. Much like my basal cell carcinoma, it has to be removed before any hope of a normal, healthy life is possible. One of the main risks facing me, according to my doctor, wasn’t the cancer itself, it was the possibility of the cancer being hit and me bleeding to the point I suffer irreparable damage. After seeing how easily things could have been taken care of, it simply makes no sense not to.

Hoarder In Another Man’s House

A cluttered life.

Hoarder In Another Man’s House

Are you a hoarder? It’s a simple question that often leads to complex answers. The word “hoarder” really came into its own a few years ago. At some point in the relatively recent past, we developed a fascination with those who chose to never throw anything away. For some strange reason we suddenly wanted to know all about the lives of those men and women who have an unexplainable obsession to hold onto everything. What is it about these people that have captivated us so? Is it because we want to know exactly how many empty pizza boxes they own? Or do we just like to feel sorry for people who are worse off than we are?

So, what exactly is a hoarder? This question is best answered by asking a second question; what is it that causes a person to become a hoarder? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA for short), hoarding is a disorder that is often a symptom of another disorder. People who suffer from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can become hoarders. Hoarding is also a symptom of dementia. Even as a disorder by itself, the effects it can have on a person’s life can be tragic.

Hoarding can cause rifts in families, widened by both anger and resentment. More than just rifts, it can tear families apart. It can affect the afflicted physically, mentally, socially, and even financially.

In Hebrews 3:6, we read about a house not our own. “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house we are, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” As Christians, we are the house in which Jesus dwells. When we confess our sins and open our hearts to allow Him to come in, we are to step out of the way and let Him clean up our lives. That means we aren’t to sort through the things He tries to remove and hold onto them.

I was going to refer to us as “spiritual hoarders”, but realized that is not correct. When we hold on to the things God wants to remove, we become “unspiritual hoarders”. Too often we want to hold on to things like bad language, alcohol, lust, anger, grudges, hatred, discrimination, and so forth. (Let me just briefly say, as a matter of clarification, that calling something wrong which God has called a sin is NOT discrimination.) Once God removes everything unclean from our hearts and lives, it is up to us to make sure they stay that way. We do this through prayer, praise, worship, fellowship, and witnessing. When Christ abides in us, we are held accountable for everything we allow in our lives.

The best thing about letting God clean up our lives and remove the things we do not need is that He doesn’t leave us empty. He replaces what He removes with things from Him; blessings, love, joy, strength, hope, forgiveness, and more. Above all of these, however, is the gift of eternal life. The things we think we lose are worth infinitely less than the things we receive.

Sixth And Final Day Of Creation

Sixth And Final Day Of Creation

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”–Genesis 1:31

The sixth day of Creation—the final day of creation—has ended and God has decided it was a good day. Beyond that, He reviewed all He had made and determined everything He created was very good. The obvious take away from this verse is everything God created was good, but we see so much more than that. God is giving us another example of how we should view what we do in His name.

By looking at completion of all He created, He is teaching us to focus on the present. Read over today’s verse again and take note of the first sentence. “Then God saw everything He had made, and indeed it was very good.” At no time does the Bible say, “for now”, or “but things were going to get worse”. God already knew what mankind was going to do and had made plans to deal with what would take place. Instead, He is focusing on what He has just created.

Too often, we become jaded by the world around us and the people we must deal with. Take, for example, someone with an addiction. You can, with the noblest of intentions, do all within your power to help them overcome. Once they are clean, you feel the sacrifices you made were worth it, but before you know it, the addict returns to his or her addiction. Out of love, or the sense of responsibility, you, again, do what you can. Again, success, and, again, a return to the addiction. You begin to see the inevitable return to addiction before they ever set foot on the path to sobriety. And this is just one example; talk about disheartening.

This is why we need to follow God’s example. Do good for the sake of good. Even if you know things will go wrong in the future, focus on the present. When we begin to question why we even bother to do good, we forget what God can do with the good we’ve done. Reconsider the addiction scenario. When we help someone for the fifth or sixth time—wondering why we still bother to help at all—we forget God is helping us. If we give up after the fourth intervention, we rob the addict of the chance to find God after the fifth intervention. Just because there is a pattern of reverting back to the old ways, it doesn’t mean God can’t break that pattern.

Regardless of how many times you help someone, or do good in your own life, focus on that. We know the future is in God’s hands so let’s trust Him to take care of it. Continue to do what you can and do it in God’s name, He will see that good comes from your efforts.

Food For Substantial Thought

Food For Substantial Thought

Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food; and it was so.”–Genesis 1:30

While your actions may be your own, the end results can have long-lasting consequences on those around you. In last week’s verse, we saw how God intended for us to live on the herbs and fruits. We also saw how God put His original intentions on hold because of sin. (We cannot confuse man’s choice to go against God’s law as a mistake on His part. Had Adam and Eve obeyed God to begin with, we would not need the meat as we do now.)

In today’s verse, we discover man was not the only species designed by God to be vegetarian. God designed the birds, the animals, and every creature that creeps on the earth to subsist on a meat-free diet. Although it is hard to imagine a pack of hungry wolves wandering into a garden for a lovely tossed salad, that was God’s original intent. We need to remember, however, God neither gave up on nor abandoned His initial plans. He has prepared for us a world where blood would not be necessary for us to survive. In Isaiah 11:6-7, we find the prophecy of the day we get back to what God intended all along.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” [Just a quick side note: These verses show the lamb and the wolf lying down together, not the lamb and the lion, as many often quote.] Not only will the need for animals to kill to live be taken away, they shall live in unity as was God’s goal all along.

Everything we do—good or bad—is going to affect someone, or something, else, just as we will be affected by the actions of others. A few years back, before we did anything, we were to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”. While I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, perhaps we should start asking ourselves “How is this going to affect others?”

In today’s post, my original intent was to show simply this; what we do affects others. God’s intentions, however, was to show me even more. He has shown me how, even when something interferes with my original goals and I have to put them on hold, I shouldn’t abandon or give up on them. He has also shown me the necessity of preparing for changes in my plans. Most of all, He has shown me to trust in Him in all things because He knows the outcome.

As you read these posts, if God shows you something I don’t touch on, feel free to share with us. We could all use a little food for thought

Have a blessed day.

Vegetarian, But Not For Long

Vegetarian, But Not For Long

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.”–Genesis 1:29

God’s original intent—according to this verse—was for mankind to be vegetarian. He designed every herb and every piece of fruit so mankind would have food indefinitely. And just as He created these to sustain us, He made our bodies so this would be all we would need. It was never God’s desire for blood to be shed for man to survive. Unfortunately, He knew the day would come when it would be required, so He prepared us for that eventuality. Unlike many of the herbivores in the world, He gave us the teeth of a carnivore. While we can get protein and certain vitamins from plants, science has proven we need meat.

These herbs and fruits are a great representation of God’s Presence and fellowship. After the creation of man, God walked with him and talked with him. Had he not listened to Satan in the guise of the serpent, God would have sustained all his needs eternally. When man sinned, he lost the sustaining Presence of God. Man now needed something more to maintain contact with God; he needed blood. God Himself killed the first animal to make tunics for Adam and Eve. He fashioned the tunics to cover their nakedness and their shame; it was also to protect them from the elements.

While it is unlikely we will all return to our vegetarian roots, God made a way for us to return to Him. It, too, required blood. Just as He took the lives of the animals for Adam and Eve’s sake, He gave His only begotten Son for our sake. It is now His sacrifice that sustains us. It is the grace and the mercy that allows to come into God’s Presence and partake of His fellowship.

Command To Populate, Fill, And Subdue

Command To Populate, Fill, And Subdue

“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every thing that moves on the earth’.”–Genesis 1:28

God’s first command to mankind is to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. As we begin to look at this verse, we see the establishment of the pattern God will use over and over. Before He commanded man to populate the earth, He blessed him. There is only one way this command would be possible, and that is with God’s help.
Throughout the Bible, God would command individuals to perform certain tasks in His name. He did this knowing there was no physical way it was possible without His help. Before calling them, He would always bless them. These blessings had two purposes. The first was to make sure the task was completed so mankind would see His glory. The second purpose was so the individual could grow closer to Him.
Often, in our lives, we find ourselves receiving God’s call to undertake a mission in His name. Some of these are tasks that will take a lifetime, such as preaching or teaching; at other times, the mission might be to simply witness. He has even called people to do things before He revealed the purpose. When such a calling occurs, it isn’t unusual to view these tasks as impossible…and they would be if not for God. All things, no matter how unlikely they seem, are possible with, and through, God. Before He sends us off to the mission fields, or calls us to fill the pulpit, or even tell that lonely neighbor how much He loves them, God blesses us.
If you are currently facing the prospect of stepping out because God has called you to do something, He has already blessed you. Remember, He could have chosen anyone, but He chose you. The fact He wanted you specifically to do something for Him is a blessing in itself. It shows you that God has confidence in you and your abilities, even when you are unsure…especially when you are unsure.
The next time God calls you to do something, be like Samuel. Let the Lord know you are ready to do what He wants. Say to Him—boldly, “Here I am, Lord; I am ready”, and you will discover His blessings have already been poured out upon you.

Own Image Of God

Own Image Of God

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”–Genesis 1:27

Let me first point out that this is a general overview of the creation of man and woman. In Genesis 2, starting in verse 7, we get a more detailed look at the beginning of mankind. Some have theorized this initial verse speaks of someone other than Adam and Eve, but it does not. Adam is the first human created by God, and afterward, Eve.

As we look at this verse, one word really catches our eye; the word “own”. The Scripture is specific here, emphasizing the fact we were made in God’s image and His alone. He did not create us in the image of the angels, nor anything created before man. He made us in His image, and in His image alone. But, why? Why didn’t God give mankind a look of his own? God chose us to look the way we look because He intended for us to be special. Now, ask yourself, what could be a more special look than to be made in the image of your Creator?

Imagine you are a great artist or painter of portraits. Whether you are painting the image of kings or statesmen, entrepreneurs or thespians, you are doing so because of money. While you may feel pride at what you are doing, and each portrait might be special to you, you are getting paid to paint them. Now, imagine you have the opportunity to do a self portrait. You go to great lengths to make certain each brushstroke, each change of pigment, represents you at your best. It doesn’t matter if it hangs in a museum or on your bedroom wall; it is more special than your other paintings because it is your image.

By choosing Himself as the model of our appearance, God sees us as special as any self portrait. He put His breath in us to give us life, then allowed His own Son’s death to give us eternal life. You look the way you look because you are a reflection of God in appearance. Our prayer is that one day, we will be a reflection of God in action as well.

Likeness Of God And Dominion

Likeness Of God And Dominion

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to our likeness; let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth”.”–Genesis 1:26

The first thing we notice in this verse is that God is using plurals, “Us” and “Our”. We also see that both words are capitalized, indicating the divinity attached to them. This brings up the question, who is God speaking to? Some might be inclined to say He is speaking to other gods, yet such a belief lessens God’s glory. At no other time when other gods are mentioned—unless a proper name is being used—there is no capitalization. It also indicates that He was working with others and required their input and assistance. Verse 1 specifically states, “In the beginning God…” Just one; just Him. So, if we rule out other gods, who is He speaking to?

Some might say He was speaking to the angels. While they may have been present at the time, this is also a false belief. It implies that God was seeking their approval, something He did not need. The Creator had no need of the approval of those He created. We must also remember the descriptions of angels from the Bible rarely are those of a human-looking creature. It is only when they appear on earth that they resemble something human. We must also remember the angels are of the spiritual realm, not the physical.

When God speaks in the plural, He is referring to Himself, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. We know from Scripture both were with Him from the beginning. Jesus is described as the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world, while it was the Spirit who moved on the face of the waters.

The second thing we notice is God refers to image and likeness. Likeness refers to our general appearance. When you look at yourself in a reflective surface, you are getting a glimpse of what God looks like. Image, on the other hand, goes much deeper than just appearance; it is the embodiment of the Divine. When we look not at what we are, but what we were meant to be, we can see God’s intention.

In Jesus, we see God in the physical realm; that is our realm. As Christians, we are to be Christ-like. Although it has become something of a cliché, we really should ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?” During His time on earth, Jesus’ desire was to do the will of the Father. Being in the flesh, however, Jesus faced all the temptations we face on a daily basis; He even prayed for God to change His situation while in the Garden of Gethsemane. God’s answer to this prayer was no. The death of Jesus was all part of the greater plan, the opportunity for salvation for the entire world. In the image of Jesus, we see the need to be obedient to God.

The Holy Spirit—Who is with us today—is our link to the spiritual realm. In Him, we find the intangible things of God. He is the presence of God, the force of creation and beginning. Whenever God prepared someone for a specific task to do His will, the Holy Spirit was there. He is also a source of comfort until Christ returns. You may ask how we are to take on His image. By being a source of comfort, of course, but there is more we can do. We can create; we can be the beginning. By creating a lifestyle of humble devotion to God for ourselves, we can lead others to Him. This will give us the opportunity to embody the intangibles of God so others might see them in action.

God is all-encompassing. He is both the physical and the spiritual. To be in His image, we must let the physical and spiritual work in unison in our lives. Beyond asking “What would Jesus do?”, we must ask ourselves “What would God have me do?”. By striving to do His will (as Jesus did), we let ourselves be opened to receive the Holy Spirit Who then brings about our new beginnings. This allows us to show that it is possible to live in this world without the world living in us. It is also where we discover the dominion God gave us over the creatures of the earth is both a gift and a duty.

To have dominion over something is to have responsibility for it. God intended for the world, and everything in it, for the survival of man. For something to be of use, it must be cared for and maintained, not abused. When God gave us dominion over His creations, He gave us the opportunity to truly be in His image. It is our chance to show both compassion and good stewardship. By caring for the earth, and everything in it, we show God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in Their purest form.

We are special; we carry the likeness of God. You are special. You have the opportunity—today, right now—to be remade into the image of God. I pray you do so if you haven’t already.