Last spring Pastor Michael Carlson, my longtime friend, colleague, partner in ministry, and successor to my role as Lead Pastor of St. Andrew’s in Mahtomedi asked me to come back and preach. When Pastor Carlson asked me to preach, I wanted to come but I was in a quandry. Last winter I had reasoned that God was keeping me around for a reason and when I was presented with an opportunity to share the gospel I would say yes to it. So I said “Yes”! When I said yes, I also knew that I was not expected to be alive in October. God has a funny way of resolving things, as it turns out I was not able to return to St. Andrew’s in person as I came down with yet another case of pneumonia (my tenth in seventeen months) and was hospitalized the week before I was to preach. The Hospitalist who discharged me convinced me that going to a crowded to a crowded church would not be a good idea for me. I did not return in person but we filmed a video message that they played during worship.
The day I was to return to St, Andrew’s was their pledge Sunday and I was asked to preach on the theme, “Are you all in”? During my video sermon I talked about how another Pastor had caused me to think deeply as he began his sermon by looking at us and asking, “Are you all in”? Let me return the favor dear reader and ask you, “Are you all in”? Please do not take this question too lightly or answer it too quickly as it is a question of ultimate importance. Let me ask you again, are you all in as a follower of Jesus Christ? I hope that you are. I hope this for your sake. For years I would talk to young couples about to be married about priorities. I would tell them that their greatest priority was their relationship with God in Jesus Christ. This is not surprising coming from a Pastor. I would tell them that the reason their greatest priority is their relationship with Christ is that this life is not our real life. This life is really a very temporary life. Our real life is our eternal life with God in heaven. Now that I have wheeled through the valley of the shadow of death (I can’t walk very well) I have learned how true this is.
So are you all in? Are you giving God your best? Are you giving God your heart,time, energy and resources? Are you giving God a sacrifice or your leftovers? Tipping God like you would a waiter or a waitress? The greatest example of being all in is Christ on the cross. Why did Christ die on the cross? Because of you. He loves you and died for you – so live for him today. Don’t just live for him, be “all in” for the one who is all in for you – Jesus the Christ. Be all in, in big and small ways. Send me a message and let me know how you are all in and what you did to reflect that you are all in.
This has been a good week. While I lost a lot of energy and strength last week during my latest bout with pneumonia I am beginning to gain some of it back. I have finished my latest course of antibiotics, which is good. While they have saved my life many times, antibiotics make me feel tired and not myself. The highlight of the week was that some of my former neighbors in Plymouth formed a team to do a 5K run\walk to raise money for brain tumor research. I was amazed by the immensity of the event and the number of people affected by brain tumors. What made this even more memorable is that the young woman who came up with the idea was a child when I lived there. Several of the neighborhood youth (now adults|) came out for the run as well. My dear daughter Kate managed to push me through the whole course. I was able to cross the finish line walking with assistance. I have participated in many fun runs before but never in a wheelchair. I continue to do the dance of trying to accept my new life and not being content with my current condition. Daily I strive to learn, grow and get stronger, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Bless you for reading this and for encouraging me to continue writing these simple pieces. Thank you for praying for myself and my family. Blessings to you and yours may you be ALL IN!