Tomorrow's a big day for me.  After years of doctor visits and tests of every size, shape, type and ilk, it has been determined that my neck is a mess.  That's the Bad News.  The Good News is they found it before I lost all use of my limbs.  That's the road I was on. Left untreated would lead to quadriplegia. That's one of those words that when it comes out of your doctor's mouth, you don't hear much else of what he has to say after that.  You are emotionally caught, like a fish on a hook, stuck with your stomach somewhere in your throat.  You're never prepared for that one.

Anyway, tomorrow it will be addressed.  I'm having, as my doctor is so quick to point out, "spinal cord surgery". No, not neck surgery. It may look like neck surgery.  That's the region where they'll be operating. But, the reality is that it's all about the spinal cord.

I've known for a few weeks this is what's going to happen.  Had to wait on a few more tests, insurance companies to get their act together and decide if I deserved such attention, and the hospital and surgeon to find a time when both were available.  Lot's of moving parts.  So, I've learned a few things during the last few weeks.  What? I thought you'd never ask. Here's the big one.

The mind is the devil's playground. 
I truly believe I have a great diagnosis and a great surgeon.  I believe that he will do everything to benefit me. I believe that I will come through this procedure with great success. BUT...the enemy has used every possible opportunity to inflict any thought contrary to that into my mind. Whether it's the dream of waking up with no use of my limbs or the "worst possible scenario" talk that the doctor has to give you...because he just has to, or the person that tells you they saw this movie with a paralyzed guy and "thought of you"...the enemy is cunning and the battleground he has chosen to do his best work is right between your ears. If he cannot paralyze you physically, he will paralyze you with fear.  Same result.

If ever I have come to understand Paul's admonition to "take every thought captive", I do now.  More than once I have found myself telling myself right out loud in from of God and everyone, "STOP IT! THAT'S ENOUGH! SCREW YOUR HEAD ON STRAIGHT!" Paul said it better..."take every thought captive".  That means telling some of them they don't have any place in your mind.  Kick them to the curb.

I think we have the habit of looking for the bad guys "out there" somewhere.  I have news for you. He's not "out there". He's right in here.  That's why you miss him.  That's why he's so deadly. That how he "steals, kills and destroys".  While we're guarding the door, he's already in our head.  In fact, here's a real kicker...he even makes us think his trash is our trash.  Oh yeah.  He convinces us that those thoughts are our thoughts, not his.  Then, he plants his seeds of doubt. "Do I not have enough faith? Is God trying to tell me something? What was that supposed to mean? What made them say that?". Don't play dumb on me now.  You know you've been there. You know you've accepted a few of his deliveries and treated them like they were your own. You've felt guilty or depressed or scared or anxious...all over something that didn't even come from you...but, he's convinced you it did.

Again, Paul says, "We battle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness". What's he saying? The same thing he said before. The battle's not "out there", it's right "in here".

Sometimes we need to pray, "Jesus, let me know the truth, believe the truth and stand on the truth, because the truth will set me free". But, sometimes, we don't need to pray.  We just need to exercise the power that God has already given us through Christ Jesus (because "greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world") and simply in the power of the name of Jesus, tell the devil, in no uncertain terms, "Get the hell out of my mind! That's right, go on and get out of here....because I told you so. Now, SCRAM!".

If you can win the battle in your mind, the war will take care of itself.  I've read the end. We win.



We woke up Sunday morning to have our world rocked once again to another senseless massacre of individuals in the name of something.  We are angry.  We are afraid.  We want action.  We want a place to assign blame.  We want someone to "fix this".

Is there anything that we can learn from this "most recent" bloody reminder of the world we live in?  I would hope so.  Let me suggest a few things that we, especially Christ-followers, should take away.

1.  We should be no less outraged at the loss of life because this happened at a homosexual establishment.  Some of you may wonder why I even mentioned that.  Some of you completely understand. the name of God (sadly...very sadly)...would have the audacity to say, "Well, you reap what you sow".  I'm curious...were you saying that after Columbine as well?  How about after the shooting of school children in Sandy Hook?  Same thing?   I think not.

QUICK REMINDER: Every one of those gunned down was created by the same God who created you.  They were loved by the same God who first loved you.  Jesus died for each of them, whether they know it or not.  The fact is, you'll never lock eyes with another individual that God does not love.  Write that down somewhere.  You'll need it more and more in future days.

2.  The answer is not getting rid of all the guns.  Hold on all you 2nd Amendment righters, before you shout "Amen!".  We may not be friends before I'm done.  I may not make a very good conservative...or a very good liberal.  Yes, I'm a strong believer in Americans rights to bear arms.  I want the ability to protect my family, and even myself, if I so decide.  But, let's be reasonable. Is it really necessary for you and I to have the right to purchase assault assault weapons?  I realize that many of you will answer, "Of course....that's my right".  But, how many of you are indeed purchasing them?  Got a stock of them in the bedroom?  Some of you will say yes, but most of you will say no.  But, it seems that some have taken the opportunity.  And, when I say some, I'm including in that group some who are actually mentally ill.  It's this group who's rights we seem to be hell-bent on protecting.  Especially, their rights to purchase fire arms.

My NRA friends, before you blast me off an email, please pause one second.  I do not for one second believe that your intentions are to make it easier for those who are are mentally unbalanced to purchase weapons suited for this kind of destruction.  But, you are.  Please don't confuse me for the Gun Control Lobby, but some common sense needs to save the day.  These are dangerous times and opposing any and all further background checks are only making it more dangerous for your kids and your grandkids.

This young man was deeply disturbed.  He was not just another Muslim extremist.  He was, I believe, most likely, mentally ill, and the last thing he needed was a assault rifle in his hands.  It's time for some give and take from both sides of this argument.

3.  Muslims are not the problem.  Yes, of course Muslim extremism is definitely a big piece of the problem. That goes without saying. But, the problem is much bigger than that.  And, it's not a simple problem.  Oh, that it were that simple.  It's complex and has many moving parts.

*Part of the problem is the devaluing of human life.  A nation that sees no problem with the slaughter of its most innocent citizens in, of all places, its mother's womb, has placed as little value on human life as possible.  We cannot kill our children free of culpability, and then sit in amazement when another child is killed for a pair of Jordans.  We're not victims...we are culprits.  God says life is holy.  It is His and His alone to give and take.  What is not holy is cheap. Until we believe, as a society, in the sanctity of human life...ALL human life...I believe the evening news will become less and less palatable and fear will rule the day.  But, hand-wringing and finger-pointing will yield nothing helpful.  We must value life pragmatically and practically.  Period.

Bad things happen.  We cannot control that.  What we can control is what we learn from them and where we go from here.  We can do better.