Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Benji's BlogSpot

It has been a wonderful sabbatical for Anna and I
as we went home to Texas for our wedding, and Ireland
for our Honeymoon, but we are both extremely excited
about this Fall, and are ready to see what God has in store
for us.
As I was reading my daily devotional this week,
the subject was on marriage. It comes from Hosea 2:19. I
am going to re-print it here, because I think it does all the
“I will make you my promised bride forever. I will
be good and fair, I will show you my love and mercy.”
“For all its peculiarities and unevenness, the Bible
has a simple story. God made man. Man rejected God.
God won’t give up until He wins him back.
God will whisper. He will shout. He will touch
and tug. He will take away our burdens; he’ll even take
away our blessings. If there are a thousand steps between
us and Him, He will take all but one. But He will leave
the final one for us. The choice is ours.
Please understand. His goal is not to make you
happy. His goal is to make you His.”

- A Gentle Thunder, Max Lucado

Pastor's Health Update

I would like to thank the church for all of the letters, meals, and visits during my recovery from my recent cancer surgery. I praise God for the report that all of the cancer was removed, and I am quickly recovering from the surgery and noticing daily improvements. I have been cleared for light work from my doctors and expect to be preaching again this Sunday.

My surgery was more involved than had been expected. The primary surgeon ended up removing a 10X4 inch section of skin and fat tissue from my inner thigh. The plastic surgeon that followed up had to perform a “skin flap” operation to repair the exposed section. He ended up removing a good portion of skin, fat tissue, and muscle tissue from my outer thigh to cover the wound and then stitched everything up. Where my previous incision was only 8 inches, my leg now has more than 40 inches of incisions.
Surprisingly, I have not been in any real pain as a result of the surgery. My leg has been sore from where the muscle was removed, and I have had two wound drains installed that will come out in a few days. Other than the soreness, the only other noticeable irritations are that the skin on my leg feels tight from all of the removed tissue and I walk with a slight limp.

The doctors say that I will need a few more weeks for the soreness to go away, and then another few weeks to begin to walk without any limp. They expect a complete recovery of the leg within the next 4 weeks.
I want everyone to know that I have been following the Dr.’s orders religiously for recovery. I have been receiving the required rest and also performing the encouraged daily activity. I would also like to stress that my return to the pulpit this upcoming Sunday has already been cleared by both doctors and my home health nurse. Each has felt that I am ready enough and that it would be healthy for me to return to the pulpit.
I would like to thank everyone for your prayers and encouragement as I have gone through the roughest health trial of my life. As I feel improvement every day, I thank God for his healing and grace to me in this trial. I look forward to feeling normal again, and I look forward to getting this all behind me as I fulfill God’s call on my life.

May God bless us all with good health in the coming years, and may He use us effectively for His Kingdom!

- Bro. Dave

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Freedom in Christ

This past Sunday, we looked at defending our freedom in Christ. We talked about how Legalism and Licentiousness (using the grace of God as a license to sin) interfere with experiencing our freedom in Christ.

I shared how we can so easily get trapped into following the rules of legalism. We begin to look at good things like reading the Bible, going to church, praying, witnessing, and doing ministry as a way to earn the Grace of God instead of as a way to experience the Grace of God. I praise God that he paid the price for my sin, in full, on the cross, through His son Jesus, and that I have been made free to experience His love and grace.

If I had to earn God’s favor through reading the Bible, going to church, praying, witnessing, and doing ministry, I would be doing these things out of guilt and fear. But since I am fully accepted with God through Jesus (Romans 5:1), these things are a joyful opportunity for me to experience God’s love and grace.

Do you fear approaching God in prayer because you have not kept up with your daily Bible readings? If so, you are trusting in your own works to make you acceptable to God and not the work of Jesus.

You and I have been completely forgiven of all of our sins! There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) What a privilege we have to be able to come together each week at church and experience the grace and love of God together! What a joy we have to experience God in prayer! What a pleasure to experience God through reading his word!

May God increase our joy for these things, and keep us from ever seeing them as a burden!

- Bro. Dave

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Interview with Dr. Charles Scoggins

I was able to talk on with my cancer doctor, Charles Scoggins, on Monday of this week. The discussion was candid and very encouraging.  We talked for more about an hour about my situation and the following were some of the questions I asked:
Am I going to be receiving Moh’s Surgery? (Moh’s surgery is where they take microscopic samples of skin to do a live biopsy during the surgery)
Your area is too large for Moh’s. We will be taking large sample tissues (skin and fat) and freezing it on site, and then take a live biopsy of a cross sample of that tissue.
(During my last surgery, they had to send the removed tissue off for a biopsy and wait for the results. The live biopsy will guide the surgeons well towards removing the bad and getting into the clean margins.)

With my present condition, would it be better if I were transferred to a sarcoma center? Like Houston or Vanderbilt?
We have the exact same equipment here as they have at those hospitals. I have personally trained for years at both Vanderbilt and M.D. Anderson in Houston. I have had extensive experience with your particular cancer. We will be doing the exact same thing here that would be done there.
What is my expected recovery time?
You are looking at 2-3 weeks if we do not have to do a skin graft and up to 6-7 weeks if there is a skin graft.
Has my cancer metastasized (spread)?
No. I will need to clarify my former statement. While it did show up in the fatty tissue samples from your last surgery, the biopsy did not reveal that the cancer was internal to the fat cells. DFSP Cancer creates “spindle” like fingers that run throughout the surrounding tissue. Your biopsy did reveal that these “fingers” ran through the sample, and therefore a radical resection of the remaining tissue around the wound is warranted. Your cancer should only be a problem right here (he pointed to the wound on my leg) and not anywhere else.
What are my odds of survival?
From what I have already seen and from my experience with DFSP, I am confident that your odds of survival are 100%. The next surgery should completely remove your cancer.
I have read where DFSP has a spread rate of 5%. So, 95% of the people who get DFSP will not see the cancer spread. Am I in the 5% or 95%?
I do not believe this cancer will spread beyond this region.
(in other words, I am still in the 95%)

How soon will I be able to travel or jog?
As soon as the stitches and wound drain are removed.
Will you be taking any samples of muscle tissue?
We will not be sampling any of your muscle tissue. There is no reason why we would need to.
Should I be taking Gleevac/Iminitab, the really expensive ($5000 a month!) cancer drug that some reports are indicating are successful with DFSP ?
I have seen no real indication that Gleevac works with DFSP. All research being done is still in its clinical trial stage. Why spend such money on something that is absolutely uncertain?
While he believes that this upcoming surgery should remove the remainder of the cancer, more tests will be done on the removed tissue that could still warrant more surgery in the immediate future.

From this discussion, there are a few prayer concerns that I would still like to ask for:
1) Pray that the Dr.’s will get a good look at the DFSP spindles as they perform the live biopsy. This will take a lot of time and will require trained eyes.
2) Pray that I would not need a skin graft.
3) Pray that the cancer will be completely removed.

May God bless us all as we journey through hardship.

- Bro. Dave

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

News from the Association

News from the Association
I was able to attend last night’s (Monday) Mercer County Association of Kentucky Baptist Execuative Board Meeting and heard a lot of exciting and challenging news. I would like to give an overview of the events and needs that were discussed there:

County Wide Back to School Bash – Icthus and First Priority are hosting a Back to school bash on Sunday, August 22, at Anderson Dean Park from 2-9PM. Three bands (Seabird, Rookie, and 7eventh Time Down) will be participating in this outreach and the Gospel will be shared with all who attend. All churches are being asked to take up a supporting offering and to encourage their youth groups to attend.

First Priority is Growing – The student ministry First Priority, which takes the gospel onto the High School and Middle School campuses through student led clubs, is growing strong in our area. In a community where now less than 10% of students attend church, God has been using First Priority to see a harvest of souls come to Jesus at our schools.  Months ago, I was asked to go to a First Priority meeting at the school in Burgin and I was amazed as I saw 25 students give their lives to Christ! We need to pray for our school ministries to continue to reap a harvest, and for First Priority to grow in our Mercer County School system.

Kentucky Changers in Mercer County in 2012 – Mercer County will be hosting Kentucky Changers in 2012. Kentucky Changers is a ministry that helps reach people through home renovations and repairs. Teenagers volunteer a week of their summer to go and help people in need through construction work. More than 300 teenagers are expected to come to Mercer County in 2012 to reach people for Jesus through Kentucky Changers. We will be raising funds for materials, and locating needy homes for this service as well as participating in Kentucky Changers ourselves.

Find It Here 2011 -  During Find It Here 2010, we prayerwalked every street in our county and then canvased each home with an invitation to church. For Find It Here 2011, every church member will be asked to submit three names of lost people to be prayed over; spend 21 days of focused prayer for them; read the book of John during that 21 day period; fast from something during that 21 day period; and take a special prepared copy of the Gospel of John and Romans to the three lost people that are being prayed over.  We will all be challenged to invite these three people to church with us for Easter.
It is a joy cooperating with other churches in our area for these outreaches.

May God bless our cooperation, and may God bless these outreaches.
-          Bro. Dave