Turning Your Passion Into Your Passion

This is a brief note for an article to come: one of the great difficulties for a pastor and people ion general is to make sense of their own passion/suffering in such a way that they can relate it to the suffering of Christ, and walk humbly before him such that they come to relate his passion to theirs so that it becomes lived proclamation of The Good News we call The Gospel.

This is not hard. It is simply not taught because we have not learned to listen and the so called well, the righteous, those who are supposedly spiritually mature but are called to bear the burdens of others (Galatians 6: 8-10) stand aloof. We all fall prey to judging, the root of many problems (1 & 2 Corinthians). We are overwhelmed and the socio-economic-political landscape ensures that Grandparents will be too busy to enjoy or have capacity in caring for extended family.

More at a later time.

When All Seems Lost and We Are Called To Rise From The Ashes

I was asked for help and referrals to Doctors as one of a group of people with a very rare, crucifying disease: Dercum’s Disease, aka Adipose Dolorosa, etc.

I find it hard to be short. I pray this is edifying. I am going to add a PS.

We all hope for an official diagnosis so that we can understand and be understood. Having DD can be humiliating. There were people years ago who claimed to have DD and were managing its symptoms well.

I cannot recommend a Sydney Doctor. Someone else may? I live out of Brisbane, landed on the MDJunction Dercum’s Disease support group in the early days I think. A person suggested that I have DD based on my having multiple lipomas and inexplicable pain and fatigue that I related to the lipomas – the first back then were just a dull ache as if hit by a baseball/cricket bat behind the kidneys. I would roll on the floor. I took the suggestion to my GP and Psychiatrist. My Psychiatrist already knew of the condition and said he would agree with any medical diagnosis that way. My GP immediately researched DD on the net and said yes. 10 years down the track I still had no idea of how to treat it, and this is far more important.

10 years with a 30 yr growth history. We do not know what to expect next.

The difference between multiple lipomas/ angiolipomas, lipoedema and DD.

As you realize this is hard work answering, doing anything. I live close to insanity and am communicating to Doctors that watching this disease progress is inhumane and traumatizing of a family, made the worse by the lack of recognition, the lack of empathy and support.

May I quote Grant without his permission. He has large, very large prolific lipomas. His diagnosis was scrubbed from medical files. He says he does not want sympathy, just a doctor (someone) who will walk down this road with him – so he is not alone.

You asked a question. There is not much difference in truth between multiple lipomas/ angiolipomas, lipoedema and DD when there is pain. Angiolipomas can only be diagnosed by excision and pathology testing to see if a lipoma is blood filled or has blood in it. The blood indicates nerve entrapment due to bleeding… I cannot explain that. You only need one angiolipoma to establish you have DD to some degree, but you do not need any to diagnose DD if you have any form of pain connected with your lipomas.

Lipoedema/Lipedema is generalized painful, burning fat tissue in the lower leg. I believe that Dr Herbst will likely remove the distinction between DD and Lipoedema. My fat burns from feet to sternum in all limbs.

In 2013 I asked my GP to help me gain a formal diagnosis. He sent me to Prof Peter Soyer, a PA Hosp Dermatologist with other work sites and Professorial duties. He is extremely highly esteemed. Is that enough superlatives. He gave a clinical diagnosis. Around 2015 people who knew me ensured that my local hospital files indicated at the very front that I have this horrific disease. From 2013-2017 I would go to ER whenever I did not feel safe. Surely you know what that means.

I had burning chest pains from 2009. I coped with them, sort of, till 2014. I managed to have a gentle 6 pack, and had no idea that doing physical activity was splitting open my fat cells….???? I fell prey to malicious defamation without recourse – in fact none of those people can look me in the face. That meant I was without income and we inverted a mortgage without regret for the sake of one child. It meant I would bust my tissue cells open doing extremely heavy work and almost have to crawl into the house. I would time it so I could eat evening meal and bed down, so I only did the heavy stuff after 2PM. I also have had lumbar stenosis (L1 to L5 which improved with the help of prolotherapy, but that doctor directed me to do the heavy work and disbelieves that DD can be painful). I had surgery in 2013 for L4/5 fusion with pedicles. I could have been discharged on the 2nd morning after surgery but I asked about coping with the pain in my chest so I was left in hospital over the weekend.

I have knocked on every door, every door. I sat with my federal member and his PA recently. After 20 minutes he stopped the conversation. He said I came in intelligent and articulate, etc, but was beginning to go in circles. He said it was time for me to get home asap in account of my health. I have clawed my way into appointments at our regional hospital and cried my way out not able to walk or talk. I persisted till this week the plastics dept reassured me that there was no one in the hospital who thought I did not have Dercum’s Disease. They will only be able to do band-aide surgery on larger lipomas. Mine are not that gross, but intrusive, and multitudinous.

I won’t go into my symptoms but to say that the family feels the ‘heaviness,’ the helplessness and trauma of watching me struggle to walk and talk.

I was in a better place 6 months ago. I did more physical activity… I am clawing my way back.

Your question? An answer. Answers. A son found a caring social worker who found me a pro-active GP… who will try to find anything she can treat to lighten the load. In the meantime I have my regular GP and a more accessible GP. I am getting my back and pelvic regions examined in two bites: next week and 4 weeks followed by an appointment with Public Hosp Plastics… I pray they do some laparoscopic examination of under my ribs and oesophagus… that’s me.

You need answers that will not change your life but will surround you with understanding. Come to Brisbane. I have been fighting for a reason. I only hope that one day a politician will give voice to our needs because I can assure you that I have totally embarrassed myself telling people, crying. Oh, and some were embarrassed by me, my walking, my going around in circles when talking. I have had compassion from my pharmacists, enormous compassion and many tears as it tore me apart just to get to them at the back of the shop. And shop assistants who would ask me what has happened… they said I was describing everything used in torture. The new GP said there would be something wrong if I did not get depressed at some point. My Federal Member said that I would have to have bouts of melancholy. I always tell every doctor that these are secondary symptoms and cannot be fixed by a pill. I explain that it would be wrong of me not to cry in compassion for my wife, my son at home, my ill daughter and so on.

I want to add these two thoughts about me: I know when I am judged by others, and the helplessness family feels. I was put into my worst place for 3 years by neuropathic pain medications, and very nearly killed by them. That is a longer story.

Write to your state and federal health ministers. Tell them any degree of humanity and compassion needs to be granted in good faith to those who have proven themselves to be good citizens… and suffer in such a crucifying way…

Whatever you do, go gut friendly in your food plan: no sugar, no grains, no seeds. I have fooled around enough with food. There is no magic pill, but as an insurance policy eat turmeric based meals. I am tired of writing bout them. The only insurance policy I can suggest is Advanced Bionutritionals Advanced Blood Sugar Forumla to offset what little sugar creeps in.

PS There is a GoFundMe site in which I really need upwards of $AUD 30,000, not only for myself, but to share some non-medical, but compassionate hope with others as well. It pictures me in better days: https://www.gofundme.com/hope-for-michaels-rare-disease

Goodnight. Michael Uebergang

Could ‘The Jewish Gospel of John’ by Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg be a Master Commentary?

To be able to read Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg’s commentary, ‘The Jewish Gospel of John’ is nothing short of being among the greatest privileges I have had. I have chosen to make it part of my Devotional Bible Reading. For me, there are too many devotional aids that hinder people from the actual  joy of reading the Holy Scriptures. ‘The Jewish Gospel of John’  is a very personal project of the author, reflecting his life-long invested interest in the 4th gospel. Eli has not only sought to understand the audience to whom this gospel was intended, but also enthuse the reader with the joy he has in the uniqueness of this gospel. It is not written with the intention of being a scholarly commentary, though it has all the hallmarks of very high quality scholarship. It has a very personal style, as though Eli were writing a personal letter. It is a stand alone commentary that sits well alongside other commentaries. But there is more.

‘The Jewish Gospel of John’ is superb commentary. It surpasses most of what we call ‘scholarship.’ A very scholarly work without any pretence. I have not delighted in a commentary as much since reading Clinton E. Arnold’s ‘Power and Magic: The Concept of Power in Ephesians.’ I think commentators of the calibre of Francis Maloney will be thrilled with this text. It adequately addresses questions that concern scholars as to the audience and Jewishness of the 4th gospel without the fanfare of scholarly critique that requires endless footnotes to indicate eruditeness. I think it surpasses Brown’s tome, and is equal or better than F. Danker on Luke.

English is not Eli’s native language. However, he is multilingual and apt in english. I have found some editorial changes, but read texts of English speaking authors with more errors of grammar, syntax and language. Frankly, I barely understand those concepts myself. Once I got past Eli’s introduction, the first 19 pages I was drawn in. I never thought it possible that someone would draw together all of the textual questions, the double-meanings, the background, the role of temple and court, the plethora of Old Testament imagery, the richness of metaphors that are that present actual reality, the very Jewish nature of the text and thought yet its puzzling audience… we could go on and on. Eli has written such a fine commentary that for the first time I am comfortable to say I am reading it as part of my devotional exercise because I hear an ancient voice speaking through his text that is enabling me to picture the gathering and testimonies of witnesses being called into the presence of YHWH through  His Holy Spirit, Ruach Hako’desh, as Temple Courts, Heavenly Worship, the House of God, and the Heavenly Courts focus on the message of the Messenger and the administrations of God’s Son, Yah’Shua, who fulfils His Divine governance over all humanity through self-sacrifice to unite His flock in glorious worship. You can see that I am on the road to unfolding the uniqueness of ’The Fourth Gospel,’ as a distinct witness to Yah’Shua over whom the Father’s voice echoes throughout.

Eventually, with Eli’s help and some re-reading of his commentary, the beauty of this masterful literature in ’The Gospel According to St John’ will be as clear as light, and I will see more than a masterfully unified, edited text, to behold the Heavenly Story ‘John’ was privileged to envisage for us.

Thank you Eli. May God Bless the fruit of your Labour according to all that he has purposed it for.

Purposeful, Intentional, Deliberate, Conscious Living

SENSING MY PURPOSE

I have a lofty prayer. It is that I help as many individuals and as many churches as possible achieve their God-given purpose. What would it look like if I achieved that? How would I go about doing that? The questions start to roll in.

It is a lofty purpose statement. I have lived with the tension of knowing that I need to quantify it for many years.

That I have this purpose statement does not make me special. That I have not come close  to achieving it does not make me a failure. I am in God’s Classroom. It is full of lessons. I am a life-long learner. I strive to practice what I preach. When I do not achieve something, when I do not do something, when I fail to do something, I am not a failure. A friend wrote me:

“It is not about what ought to be but how we handle what is. Because of what we think people expect life to be or because of what we expect life to be… we are left unfulfilled and disappointed. Real fulfilment is when we have faced “today’s” stuff, good stuff or absolutely lousy stuff, God’s way. Even to have faced it badly, but still coming back to Him, recognising Him as the forgiving gracious God, is in itself success. Whatever “today” brings, mindful that the last thing “today” brings is death, then all our plans, expectations (ours and others ), and desires stop.”

“Because you have not been able to return to full-time ministry… does not mean you have failed. I see you as a successful human-being in that, in spite of the “simul iustus et peccator” with its inner and outer struggles, you have continued in your relationship with the Lord Jesus. Satan wants to break you, but as Jesus prayed for Peter, he is praying for you and holding you up. It isn’t even about how strong you are. When Peter started to sink, Jesus held him up. It is about Jesus. We don’t even trust in our faith, but in Jesus.”

I live one day at a time. Each day I live by faith, not out of guilt. It is not easy to be unemployed. There are many things that make me feel uncomfortable. The wonderful choice before me is this: do I pursue my heart’s desires? I either do it today and tomorrow, or perhaps not at all.

Each day I hope to leverage my influence for Christ one relationship at a time. Inch by inch toward the fulfilment of my purpose. My purpose statement is a flag. Its emblem is a humble picture of Christ carrying his cross. Thoughts rush to my mind.

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For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. To know Christ and him crucified. Unless we take up our cross and follow Christ…  Unless the Son of Man be lifted up… Ephesians 2: 10, Philippians 1: 6…

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HOVERING OVER MY PURPOSE

My purpose is to help as many individuals and as many churches as possible achieve their God-given purpose. I had a sense of purpose well before the serendipity moment in which this statement formed in my heart. Any life-purpose is emergent. It arises out of a mixture of our personality, our life-story, our skills and training, significant persons and events in our lives, our core beliefs and values, and other notable factors. It is an expression of our personality.

My purpose statement crystallised when a colleague reported something Carl George said. He said, ‘Churches do not need more consultants; what they need is to understand their [God-given] purposes.’ When my colleague heard that, he seemed to hear that the church does not need consultants. This was my serendipity moment. I heard one of two premier Church Consultants say that the role of the consultant is to help each church understand its God-given purpose. If they understood their God-given purpose they would not need consultants.

Church consultancy is about connecting a church’s sense of calling and its unique personality, with the profile of its surrounding community. I was invited to take a honeymoon with Church Resource Ministries Australia in its formative days. While I am attracted to consultancy, and have participated in it, my heart is in the field. There is a shortage of people who model evangelical lifestyles, hospitality, organic discipleship, organic church planting, and a shortage of healthy churches which exemplify these qualities. Most vision statements and strategic plans fail because they do not specify strategic outcomes.

An old rule of church planting is that the likelihood of success for the church planter is in direct proportion to the degree of success in church planting that the church planter has had modelled to him. This rule seems equally valid to effective leadership, discipleship, communication and so on. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule. However, as the saying goes, ‘the exception proves the rule.’ Where there are exemptions in any endeavour it is usually the result of emergent factors. These emergent factors are the coinciding of critical elements that constitute requirements for success.

We cannot hope for the coincidence of critical elements in the mission of the Church. Good planning seeks to predict what the critical elements are in any equation for a successful venture. These must be prayed for and planned for. Profiling the needs of a community needs to be undertaken. How formal the process of profiling needs to be will depend on many factors, such as the size, the location and the resources to hand of the church.

Most efforts at church planting and discipleship fail because of the lack of intentionality. There needs to be a deliberate effort to define and connect the dots between a plan and desired outcomes. Outcomes can be predicated on the basis of certain action. At the end of the day a Philosophy of Ministry and Purpose Statement need to connect with a specified target audience.

Who are the individuals and churches I wish to help achieve their God-given purpose?

How do I know that God wants me to do that?

How would I go about doing that?

How do I know those individuals and churches want to achieve their God-given purpose?

What would it look like if I achieved that?

Is the aspiration to achieve my God-given purpose or help others achieve theirs godly?

I think I will shelve answering those questions. How about you?

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For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. To know Christ and him crucified. Unless we take up our cross and follow Christ…  Unless the Son of Man be lifted up… then on to Ephesians 2: 10, Philippians 1: 6… etc

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FOR THE LOVE OF PEOPLE

I get my thrills from interacting with people. People are exciting, interesting, fascinating, colourful. They have personalities, hurt and bruised, expressive, joyful, insightful, historical and hysterical. They are everywhere. Just like the harvest. They are the harvest.

My relationships with people are unconditional. I cannot be everybody’s friend. Nor can everybody be my friend. But I can befriend those I meet. Near everyone reciprocates. I have asked for permission to stay in touch with people. On one occasion an owner-manager gave me his card and said I could phone him day or night. We had barely met. We chatted about things of mutual interest: work, health, coffee, driving. I had not asked to stay in touch with him. His offer was spontaneous. I have other friends available to me day or night. They have not said so; but I know that they are 24/7 personalities because they are ‘persons of peace.’

It seems to me that if I want to impact the world, then I have to leverage relationships. People may not share Christ with me, but I always share Christ with them. I do not always use words. People quickly get to know that my smile comes from Christ and from a place of hope in pain. How do they know that? Well, I sometimes use words; words that tell it like it is. For example, ‘I would not exchange the hope I have in Christ to drink beer with the devil.’ Or, ‘I am not comfortable doing [that] because I am not convinced that it is from Christ.’ Or, after a long exchange listening, ‘I do not know how your religious-ethnic-cultural back ground handles guilt. What I am grateful for is knowing that I do not have to dismiss my guilt as though it were a useless emotion.  Because Jesus forgave my sin and guilt I have been able to talk about it with my family.’

Wherever I go I see people in pain. Not all people are in pain. Thank God! Everyone, though, is either trying to avoid relationships or find meaningful relationships. Some people are scared of people. I can understand that. I am scary at times. I do not have to look in a mirror to be scared by myself. I can be scary serious. But not so serious that I have been told not to laugh at something. I do not laugh so much at comedy. I laugh at life —  more than most; so I think.

It’s all about people. Even church is all about people. If  ‘The Church’ is the only organisation which exists for the sake of non-members, then why are we so scared of people? The church cannot fulfil any purpose on earth, it cannot glorify God, it cannot make disciples, if it does not care about people. We jump from ‘The Great Commission’ to make disciples, to ‘The Great Commandments’ to love God and other people. ‘The Letters of John’ in The Bible tell us that we cannot love God unless we love others; not even hate one and still love God. Thank Jesus for forgiveness. I am on the road to loving God and others.

There is no purpose so great of any eternal worth that can evade the love of people for the love of God. I can only fulfil my life purpose one day at a time, one person at a time, one relationship at a time. If I can leverage relationships, influence the influencers, or leverage my time to influence more people I will. But, I had better know who influences what for better or worse, and what it is that I want to influence people to.

‘We love because he first loved us.’

I John 4: 19

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For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. To know Christ and him crucified. Unless we take up our cross and follow Christ…  Unless the Son of Man be lifted up… then on to Ephesians 2: 10, Philippians 1: 6… etc

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