According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ed Dobson - What He Has to Say About His Life-Threatening Illness Will Shake You to Your Core


Ed Dobson | ALS 

Ed Dobson preaching | 2011

Pastor Ed Dobson Is Facing A Life-Threatening Illness.
But What He Has To Say About It Will Shake Your Core
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/05/ed-dobson-inspiring-words_n_4537527.html

Ed Dobson is the Pastor emeritus, Calvary Church, Grand Rapids, MI
January 5, 2014 (updated January 23, 2014)

If Ed Dobson had given up on his life 13 years ago, he'd have missed walking his daughter down the aisle. He wouldn't have met his grandchildren. His story would have gone untold.

But he didn't give up. Instead, he's chosen to share his story to inspire others.

The 64-year-old pastor from Grand Rapids, Mich., was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or "Lou Gehrig's disease") more than a decade ago. He was given 2-5 years to live, according to the video above. Coming to terms with the diagnosis was hard -- but eventually, one fact dawned on him:

It ain't over, 'til it's over.

"I realize there is profound truth in that," Dobson says in this 10-minute clip from 2011. It's the first in a film series called "Ed's Story" that Dobson is still working on while continuing to battle ALS. The 2-year-old video continues to be shared widely online -- because everyone can use a reminder that life is worth fighting for.

If you don't have 10 minutes to spare, at least do this: Skip to the 7:55 mark. You'll be inspired. We promise.

"I didn't expect another Christmas, and now I've had 10," Dobson says towards the end of the video. "And the more I have the more I want. I have my life to share, my own story to share. One day it will be over, but it's not about how long I have left, it's about how I spend the time I do have."


Ed's Story: It Ain't Over



In It Ain't Over, the first film in the Ed's Story series, Ed Dobson reminds us that life isn't over yet and that we don't have to feel overwhelmed by the struggles we're facing today. Difficult news can sometimes make us feel like our lives are over. Ed shows us that we don't know the future, and that things may turn out quite differently from what we expect. edsstory.com

Ed Dobson - Faithfully Facing Mortality


Ed Dobson | ALS 

Ed Dobson preaching | 2011

'Oh, That I Had The Wings Of Dove! Faithfully Facing Mortality
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-dobson/do-not-worry-consider-the-birds_b_1093271.html

by Ed Dobson, Pastor emeritus, Calvary Church, Grand Rapids, MI
November 14, 2011 (updated January 14, 2012)

I was diagnosed with ALS in November, shortly before Thanksgiving. About a week later I was sitting on the porch of my house watching the first snowfall of the season. As I sat there I was beginning to sink into that darkness. I was thinking that this would be my last winter. I was thinking that this would be my last Christmas. I was hoping to make it to spring! As I sat there depressed, I noticed a bird on the bush outside the window. As I sat there watching, it flew away, and I thought, "I wish I could be that bird." And I thought that the birds have no cares, no issues and no ALS. Then immediately I was drawn to the words of the writer of the Hebrew Scriptures:

"My heart is in anguish within me:
the terrors of death assail me.
Fear and trembling have beset me
Horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, "oh, that I had the wings of dove!
I would fly away and be at rest --
I would flee far away
And stay in the desert."

-- Psalms 55:4-7

This is exactly how I feel. I love the language -- anguish, terrors, fear, trembling and horror. I'm not afraid of being dead. It's getting dead that bothers me. For me, "getting dead" involves choices about wheelchairs, communication assistance, feeding tubes and breathing assistance. It's not pleasant when I think of the future. Of course, I try to ignore it but the underlying reality is always there. I think it bothered the writer of this prayer as well. In the face of death and dying, I would like to be a bird. I would like to get away from this situation. I would like to feel like I am free. This passage expresses my deepest feelings.

I am a follower of Jesus. And I am fully aware of what Jesus says about worry. ("Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself," Matt. 5:34). Do you know how many people have come up to me and quoted this verse? Their attitude is that since Jesus said this, I should obey it. However, they have little to worry about. I am facing death and a life hereafter and I have a whole lot to worry about.

This quotation comes from an extended passage in which Jesus deals with the subject of worry. In the middle of this section on worry, Jesus refers to the birds. "Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store in barns yet your heavenly father feeds them." So every time I see a bird, I am reminded that God takes care of them and if he takes care of them, he will take care of me. As I sit here writing, I am looking out the window and I see a bird. God takes care of that bird and ultimately the same God will take care of me. Of course, I'm not sure how God takes care of a bird. Neither am I sure of how God will take care of me. But since he takes care of the birds, I know he'll take care of me.

So every time I see a bird I have two options. First, I can want to be like the bird and fly away to be at rest. It's the longing to be set free from ALS. It's the longing to be set free from the terrors of death. Second, I can realize that God takes care of the birds and ultimately he will take care of me. Sometimes I go for option one. I long to live and be free. Other times I go for option two. I know God takes care of the birds and I know he will take care of me. My life is lived between these two options. On the one hand is the fear of death. And on the other hand the reality that God will see me through.

Ed Dobson - What Do You Do When You Know You Are Dying?


Ed Dobson | ALS 

Ed Dobson preaching | 2011


Sinking Into Darkness: What Do You Do When You Know You Are Dying?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-dobson/sinking-into-darkness_b_992653.html

by Ed Dobson, Pastor emeritus, Calvary Church, Grand Rapids, MI
October 5, 2011 (updated December 5, 2011)

It all began with twitching in my muscles. My wife insisted that I go see a doctor, but being a typical male, I ignored her. At the same time, I was having difficulty opening jars and cans when I was backpacking. I had just turned 50 years old, so I thought that this is what happens when you get old. Then one day, as I was writing out my sermon notes, it was as if my brain and my hand were not cooperating. So the next morning I was in church getting ready to preach. During the song right before I was scheduled to preach, I leaned over to a doctor who is a neurologist and told him about the twitching and the weakness. As I look back at that moment it's really ridiculous -- as if a doctor is going to diagnose me during the service right before I preach. He told me that I needed to go see him, like tomorrow.

Ed Dobson | Ministry to the Sick & Dying
So I went to see him. He spent about 15 minutes examining me and then asked me to come into his office. He told me there were several possibilities. First, my twitches could be benign fasciculations. He told me that everyone's muscles twitch and that maybe mine twitch more than the average (I was hoping that I was just a big twitcher rather than a little twitcher). Second, it's possible that I might have ALS. Once he mentioned ALS, my heart immediately sank. A few weeks later it was confirmed that I had ALS.

There is no way to describe the hopeless feeling of knowing that you only have a few years to live, and most of that time will be in the disabled condition. How does it feel?

  • It feels like you are sinking into the darkness.
  • It feels like you have left the warmth and sunshine and descended into a tomb.
  • It feels like you are in slow motion while the rest of the world speeds past.
  • It feels like you have a ringside seat to your own demise.
  • It feels overwhelming!

I have been a pastor all my life and have helped many people deal with difficult circumstances. But there is a huge difference between helping someone and dealing with it yourself. I thought that if I knew I was dying, I would really read the Bible. I found the opposite to be true. I can hardly pick up the Bible and read it at all.

I thought that if I knew I was dying, I would really pray. I found the opposite to be true. I can hardly pray at all.

I thought that if I knew I was dying, I would begin to think a lot about heaven. I found the opposite to be true. I found myself more and more attached to the people around me.

In the midst of my struggles, I began writing a book entitled "Prayers and Promises When Facing a Life-Threatening Illness." During my youngest son's second tour of Iraq, compliments of the Army, I sent him a copy of the book. The book contains a morning prayer and an evening promise. Throughout the book I tell stories of my own journey. My son told me that the stories would make wonderful short films.

Ed Dobson brushing his teeth | 2011

Lorna Dobson helping to dress her husband | 2011

Now I have really never been into films. I seldom watch a film and I sure never anticipated in being in a film. When my son returned, we began working on the idea of a series of short, 10-minute films. That idea is now a reality, seven short films in a series called Ed's Story. During the first year we worked on the films, we tried to identify the ideas that would give a sense of hope to people who have had the air knocked out of them. Early in my journey with this disease, I discovered that I did not want to read a lengthy book on suffering. I could only take information in short, concise and focused segments. These short films are designed to do just that. It only takes 10 minutes to watch one.

It is difficult for me to watch the films. When I watch a film I relive the situation over and over and over again. I've discovered that my emotions are just beneath the surface. When I watch the films, those emotions come rushing to the surface. So why did I do the films if it is difficult to watch them? I wanted to do something to give a sense of hope to people no matter what their circumstances. We are all human beings and part of our challenge is to face struggles and respond to them in a healthy way. I'm not sure I have always responded to my struggles in a healthy way, but at least I'm trying.