Sunday, December 27, 2009


We had a busy but really fun Christmas as all of our children made it in. As a matter of fact, we had 24 people Christmas day and every one of our relatives on both sides except for Luana's Dad and Bettye and my neice Carly. There was good food, great gifts, wonderful fellowship and a bond of unity in Christ. After a Christmas Eve service at Antioch we had our own traditional service/devo/play. We also had a special treat of seeing it snow and actually stick. It was my first Christmas to actually see snow on Christmas morning.Then the next morning was filled with presents and lots of laughter, followed by the dinner (see pictures) and then family photos. It was fun having all three of the grandkids as well. I hope your Christmas was joyful as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I have been following as with many of you the sad story unfolding concerning the malignant brain tumor of Matt Chandler. Our household is continuing to uphold him and his family in prayer as they go through this difficult time, believing in our God who is powerful and good, in hopes that He would reach out His benevolent hand in healing. But what got me doing this on my blog is a statement by my daughter where she was saying how cruel Satan is and that we need to reject him. So I got to thinking as to whether this tumor was of Satan or other and what our response should be and then on to the larger topic of evil. Here are my thoughts.
And while these thoughts are prompted by his illness, I have been thinking about these things a lot this year since we have gone through a decade worth of illness in our own family in one year. As I see it, illness can be a result of three or four things. It can be from Satan, from God, or from more natural means either by our own doing (i.e. smoking and lung cancer) or the natural result of living in a fallen world. Also I think it matters where it is coming from in how we respond to it. If it is from Satan we need to resist it, renounce it and rebuke it. If it is from God then we need to embrace it and learn as much as we can from it. If it is from natural means then we need to accept it, but fight it with all available means.
Can Satan cause brain tumors? Or for that matter Alzheimer's, or blocked coronary arteries? I think we need to be careful and not attribute too much power to our adversary. Certainly if you read the book of Job, it appears that he can at least cause boils, though even that only with God's permission. In the rest of Scripture we see people who are possessed and what are apparently seizures caused by that. But aside from those instances there is not much to point to the enemy as the cause of our physical afflictions directly. So then does God cause sickness? There are numerous examples of Him sending plagues, causing leprosy, terminal illness of David's infant son, Hezekiah's illness, as well as the famous thorn in the side of Paul. Doctrinally I think we are on pretty safe ground that He can and does at times. Is it frequent or rare? That is a more difficult question, but my gut feeling is that it is not a common cause of illness. Can God use illness to teach us things even if He did not directly cause it? Absolutely!
Well that brings us to the unsatisfying but more realistic notion that far and away most illness is just the result of a fallen world and that we can either be fortunate or unfortunate in this regard. Of course none of us get out of this world totally unscathed. So where does that leave us as we try to understand how to handle our own or a loved one's illness? First I think we need to pray for wisdom as to why this has come upon us (James 1:5) If He reveals this to be of Satan then we need to renounce, pray, repent and whatever else to be restored. If He reveals this to be from Him, then we need to learn all we can from it, even to the point of embracing the illness as God's "gift" to us for our more ultimate good.
On the other hand, if it is natural then there are several things to do. First go to your doctor and follow his/her advice. God often uses us to heal/cure/treat illness through the gift of modern medicine. If you want to add legitimate alternative therapies as well then that is fine also. I don't think it is helpful to spiritualize all illness. Secondly pray that God would teach you through this illness to draw you to a more intimate place with Him or to help others. Thirdly, accept what you have and share it with others and humble yourself and allow others to help you, serve you and minister to you. Do not try to hide your illness - even if it is embarrassing like Alzheimer's. Fourthly, pray like crazy for healing and elicit the prayers of all of your believing friends and family. God still works miracles today and heals and seems to be doing so more and more in this generation. If you are able, go to churches that seem to be moving in those giftings and ask them to pray and lay hands on you. Can we claim healing? I do not think so. Yes I know that by His stripes we are healed. We are definitely healed of the disease called sin and His death provided for the potentiality of healing, but it is not a done deal just because we say so. Otherwise none of us would ever die. And lastly ask God to give you a peace even in the midst of your illness and suffering. This is something He has promised and will do and it is amazing how that peace can carry you through some very tough times.
So let us all pray for Matt for healing and for peace for him and his family. Pray also for wisdom for them and for his doctors. And pray that God would teach them all through this and draw them to an even more intimate place with Jesus. Lastly pray that God would use Matt in this illness in a far greater way than He ever could have without it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Cookies

This Sunday the Sudans held the 20th annual Christmas cookie decorating contest. It is a fun time for all of us to get together, laugh, tell stupid stories, roll out the dough, make sugar cookies and then decorate them, and of course eat them. It evolved from an informal cookie baking ordeal into an intense competative contest. For the second year, we moved it to Dallas and was hosted by Christy and Jordan. She does a great job of getting everything ready and all pitch in. This year Jayden was able to get into the action. By the time the last of the 150 cookies were cooked and decorated, we were tired and stuffed full of batter and cookies. The winner was Mary Beth with a train under a Christmas tree. Jason was second with a gingerbread man with a candy cane. It is a fun tradition which we hope we can pass down to the next generation. You are welcome to join us next year.