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Rosie James is a member of my church. She is a humble servant, leader and woman of God.
None of us can escape death. But how we face death will be an example to others how well we lived. Rosie epitomises that fine quality.
Here is Rosie's story.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 and it raised many issues, including the challenge of hearing God’s voice and trying to discern what He was saying to me. I had surgery and the usual rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Many people prayed for my healing and as life went on, it seemed that I had indeed been healed.
When I developed bone secondaries in 2005, it again confronted me with the issue of discerning God’s way for me. In medical terms, secondaries are treatable, but not curable, and the average life expectancy from breast cancer secondaries is two to four years, although some live longer.
Since the first bout of cancer, I’ve been inundated with ‘cures’ and remedies that have worked for others … foods to eat and avoid at all costs, alternate therapies, meditation, juicing fruits and vegetables, moving to the pure environment of the country, having or refusing chemotherapy, building up my immune system (usually with very expensive supplements which would become affordable if I became a distributor!), to remove stress from my life (the cancer caused incredible stress), and the list goes on.
I faced many choices and decisions that needed discernment. I frequently prayed, ‘Lord, what are you saying to me? … What do I do? … How do I live?’
There were also those who shared spiritual insights … to claim God’s healing, not believe in the medical prognosis and maintain my belief in that healing; to immerse myself in worship and in His Word; to attend healing meetings, even flying to the USA during the ‘Florida Outpouring’; to seek ministry if there were demonic forces that caused the cancer.
Some of these options were presented as ‘The Word of the Lord’ and I needed real discernment to decide how to respond to them. They were also given to me by some wonderful people and I didn’t want to reject their ideas outright.
I hope for healing. Life is good and rich and I want to keep living. I want to grow old with my beloved Ian and see my children marry and start their own families. I want to continue to enjoy life and laughter and depths of relationships. I want to explore this amazing world, see Crossway’s future unfold, and see my friend’s children grow up. I ask God, ‘How can I best serve you; how can I develop my ministry; what do you have for me?’
I always hope that God will heal me. I read His Word and many stories of healing, and hope that He’s speaking to me, too. ‘Lord, you added another 15 years to Hezekiah’s life … are you saying you will do that for me as well? Lord, if a day is as a thousand years, would you please give me another 15 minutes of your time which would add 10 extra years to my life? What are you saying?’
I’ve grieved for those who’ve died younger than they intended and didn’t receive the healing they were hoping for. There were some who were so sure they’d be healed, especially after they were given words of prophesy, Bible verses and assurances of God’s intervention. I’ve also seen devastation and disillusionment when death occurs and people’s faith and trust in God are deeply shaken. I heard a heartbroken friend say, ‘The reason they died was because my faith level dropped’. I’ve also had the pain of being unable to say goodbye to dying friends because I’ve been told, ‘Don’t speak of death or anything negative; we’re believing God for healing. They’re going to walk out of this place fully healed’.
How do I die well? I need discernment! How do I respond to those who are praying for my total healing? (Perhaps they’re hearing God better than I am!) How do I be honest – yet sensitive – when talking to others about my future? (I nearly floored an acquaintance in the chemist shop when she asked me how I was going and I replied, ‘Feeling okay, despite the fact that I’m dying of cancer’.) How do I share this journey of dying without appearing maudlin, making others uncomfortable, being thought of as ‘giving up the fight’ or ‘not trusting God’ or ‘overly focusing on death’?
How am I living? The cancer is currently being held at bay with oral chemotherapy and some supplements. I’m blessed that I have very little pain and my energy levels are mostly okay. I’m trying to get things completed to ‘set my house in order’. This includes preparing to die. We’ve organised our wills and enduring power of attorney, we have funeral insurance, and last month we bought a plot in Healesville Cemetery (which has great views!). Even if I live another 30 years, these things won’t be wasted.
I’m also working on my ‘bucket list’. There are many things I want to do while I’m still on Earth. Ian and I travelled overseas in 2007 (with the cases half-filled with medication). This month we’re going on a nine-day cruise.
This is an especially hard journey for my family and those who love me. I care for them as well as I can, all the while trying to face reality yet hold on to hope.
I don’t try to hide the cancer from others, and this has given me much greater freedom to talk about God and eternity.
Sometimes I don’t know what God is saying. Sometimes He doesn’t seem to be answering my questions at all. A pastor once said, ‘When God chooses to remain silent, faith will rest co
I do know that God is always good and loving, gracious and compassionate. He holds me during this journey. I trust my timing into His hands. He ordains our days, so why fear death when we go through the gateway to eternity with Him?
I keep asking God that I may live well … and that I may die well.
Rosie James attends Crossway Baptist Church. This article was originally published in the Victorian Baptist Witness. Thanks to Roland Croucher for the great headline.
OK. I'm going to start a weekly Sunday post where you can ask me anything. That's right. Anything. Don't be shy – I'll only do it if I feel like you actually WANT to ask me questions!
Obviously my focus is communications, strategy and creativity so keeping in that zone would be cool. I'll try to answer all your questions throughout the week.
Ready? Click here to ask me anything. You can also see previous Q&A's.
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I remember Black Saturday. Hot. 46 centigrade. For those of you of the Fahrenheit gauge. Over 113f.
The hot northerly wind blew hard. It blew like a hairdryer set on hot in your face. I could see a 30 metre high tree out of the rear window of my house being tossed around like a puppet dancing on the strong hot northerly wind.
We had no air conditioning. It was stinking hot. Yet somehow even with three kids, a three month old baby , two year old and six year old, we managed to get through the day.
Many people didn't. Many fathers. Many sons. Many daughters. Many mums. There was no discrimination of age, sex, or race. The Marysville township. Burnt to the ground. The Kinglake township. Burnt to the ground. Many more townships. Burnt into dust. 173 people lost their lives that day. Over 414 people were injured. 3,500 structures were destroyed and 7,500 were made homeless.
All this happened one year ago, today. This was Australia's worst natural disaster. Ever.
No words that I can express or write can tell the story of that day.
You can get a get an idea of what happened here.
Today as a church. Crossway will remember the 173 who lost their lives. The 500 plus who were injured. We'll get to hear of one woman's story of how she helped those affected. We'll get to know of the brilliant response of so many who sit silently in our auditorium week, after week.
Rest in peace all you daughters, sons, mother, fathers.
5th Commandment: You shall allow people to live in a world they help create.
By Guest Blogger Shawn Wood
The first mistake of most communications professionals is to write a policy manual. Policies are an admission that we cannot lead and really, who reads them anyway? In our context at Seacoast Church, a multi-site church with 13 campuses and more on the way, I have made that mistake in so many unique expressions. Policy does not have to be in a manual. It can be implied in a conversation, written in a hostile email, delivered through a passive aggressive remark or actually put in writing, but the end result is the same. We are asking people to live in a world that we construct, that we do the maintenance and that we serve in the role of ruler and chief. Here are a couple of ways to keep from paying the dumb tax I have paid over and over again:
- Ask a lot of questions. People like to be asked questions and when you ask questions here is a unique thing that happens. You get answers. Most of the time we make the mistake of only asking ourselves the questions and then sharing the answers with our team mates as if simply by title we have also attained some level of intelligence and all-knowing that we did not have before. Be authentic and admit you don’t know all.
- Don’t be so married to your ideas. If you guys are like me, I am making a whole bunch of stuff up as I go, so chill out and except that there is a good chance your opinion is wrong. Be willing to be corrected, be willing to not be “wise in your own eyes” and change your rules. I find that people love the rules to change when they are the ones suggesting the change.
- Go for a world that is created by others, not you. Some self examination will tell you why are you in this. Do you like being in control or being effective? Do you like everything to follow the rules or to see more people following Jesus? When you are able to truly work with people to help create the communication culture that you all live in there will be more communication and community and most of all more Kingdom.
We all want to live in that world. But it will be leaders who help take us there. I pray that you will be such a leader.
Read the other commandments
As the Experiences Pastor Shawn helps create spirit-filled, yet not creepy but kind of mystical connections with God on 13 Campuses and the web at Seacoast Church. You can follow him on Twitter, or subscribe to his blog (like me). Well worth it!
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