About Me

Christ follower, husband, father, minister, musician.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


For anyone who reads my posts, please read below and share this post.  Sam Bish is a 9 year old boy in our church who for the last year has been battling with aggressive cancer.  His parents, Mike & Cindy, are amazing people and have held strong to their faith throughout this amazingly stressful and confusing (to say the least) season of their life.  Sam also has two younger sisters, Caitlin and Aubrey.  The whole family just got back from Disney World thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation.  It has been an honor and privilage to be on this journey with them.  However, yesterday they received devistating news.  Cancer has returned to Sam's body and is too aggressive to treat.Below are two posts from their Caring Bridge site.  The first tells you a bit about Sam and the second is the post from Friday, July 23rd. 

Background Story

Our son Sam is a wonderful young man who is 8 years old. He will be 9 in January. He is going into the 3rd grade at French Run Elementary School. Sam had been having some pain in his right knee most of this summer (2009). As the pain increased we realized that something might be wrong and we made an appointment for him to see an Orthopedist on 8/10/09. At this doctors appointment an X-ray was done of Sam's leg/knee and it showed that there was a mass that the doctor believed to be cancerous. Samuel went into the hospital just a few days later for a series of tests. He received a cat scan, MRI, and also a full body scan. Our family met with the pediatric oncologist the following day and Samuel was diagnosed with a type of cancer called Osteosarcoma. Sam's cancer has metastasized to other areas in his body. The cancer is in his right femur and he also has multiple  nodules in both of his lungs. Sam also has 1 additional spot on his left fibula and also 1 spot on his lower back/spine. The spot on his spine is in an inoperable area and he will have to receive radiation on this at some point.  This is an aggressive type of cancer and it will be treated with aggressive forms of chemo followed up by surgery. We are asking everyone to please lift up our litle boy Samuel Gordon Bish in prayer. We pray for healing!! We serve a mighty God and we know that HE can heal Sam if that is his will for Sam's life. Please be prayer warriors along with our family as Sam starts this very difficult journey in his young life.
Update as of October 30th, 2009- Samuel's right leg was amputated above the knee on October 30th to take out the cancerous tumor. Samuel also had surgery on his left leg and some of his fibula bone was taken out as well. Sam is now home recovering and will continue with chemo in the coming weeks along with having upcoming surgeries on his lungs . Thank you for the continued support. Our church (Westerville Christian Church) website is below where you can find out other ways you can help our family through Sam's web page Smiles for Sam! church. Expecting a miralce in Sam's life and praying always!

Friday, July 23, 2010 9:07 PM, EDT
God granted our family a miracle last week. Sam felt wonderful the entire week we were on his Make A Wish trip. He had no pain or discomfort and our family was truly able to make some wonderful memories that we will cherish for a lifetime.

We found out today after meeting with Sam's team of doctors that his cancer has spread. Not only is it in his lungs but it is throughout his body including his left leg, hip, spine and pelvis area. The extent of Sam's cancer is not curable. We were given the options of some different treatments that could possibly prolong his life and give him more time but they would not be a cure. Mike and I have chosen after consulting with our doctors that Sam should be with his family in the comfort of his home. We will be bringing in hospice care to help take care of Sam and make him as comfortable as possible. We plan on making every minute count and continuing to make memories as long as God allows. If you are friends with Sam and our family and would like to come and visit we will welcome visitors if Sam is feeling well...please call or e-mail first.

My mother's heart is breaking and I want my son's remaining time here on this earth to be as peaceful as possible. I will never understand why God needs Sam in heaven more so than leaving him here with his family. Mike and I have been blessed to have such a spunky, fun loving, spirited child as a son. We would appreciate your continued prayers as our family adjusts to the news. Sam knows his cancer has spread and that God will be calling him home...he just does not understand the time frame involved. Please continue to keep our precious boy and family in your prayers. Our lives are forever changed.

If you would like to visit Sam's Caring Bridge site, click here.  Please pray, fast, and help support the Bish family during these next few months.  If you'd like to send support or gifts, contact Westerville Christian Church. For those of you that are on Facebook or Twitter, include the hash tag: #prayingforsam in your posts.  Let's let the world know "Our God Is Greater!"
Thanks, friends. Peace.


Friday, July 02, 2010

Patriotic Songs in Worship - and religious rabbit trails

Let me say at the outset that I'll make some statements that en vogue to debate right now.  Religious heritage, identity, etc. are all such a challenging issue for folks.  Feel free to comment and agree or disagree with what I have to say.  Just don't shoot down my entire post because I get one side illustration out of whack with your thoughts.  Thanks!!!

I normally shy away from using patriotic songs in our worship services because frankly, there are better songs that we more easily connect with God through.  But seeing that this year the 4th of July lands on Sunday, it's a good opportunity to reconnect the Truth with the tradition.  Honestly, there are a lot of phrases of Faith in the verses of these songs that we don't usually sing.  Those are the words that remind us of the true faith within our foundation that was a bulwark of the Colonies & early settlers.  It is undeniably a major part of the original culture of the US.

The issue, I think, lies in the reality that people on both sides have fought so hard for a line between patriotism (nationalism, Americanism) and Christianity that we're uncomfortable connecting the two.  Why, I'm not sure.  I do think they're exclusive, but not mutually exclusive.  Obviously you can be committed to Christ and not to Country, and vice versa.  But in our country, I think to remove God is to remove part of what & who our country was originally committed to.

I'm not going channel Glenn Beck or anything here.  Don't worry.  Am I saying that all Americans must be Christian in order to be patriotic?  No, not really.  (However, they may not fully grasp the full picture, but another post for another day.)  But should Christians understand how their faith and the American culture are intertwined?  I think so.  If we lose our connection with Christianity and the American Culture, we lose our culture.  If Christianity is removed from America, then what does America become?  Will it be the same country we know now?  Will it be the same country that was founded?  That debate will continue for a long time.  I think the bigger issue for Christians is, if we lose our connection with the foundation of America, then we lose understanding of the community and culture in which we live.  We don't lose our faith.  We don't lose our Truth.  Christianity obviously exists above any culture, government, or society.  But in order live as shining lights, don't we have to understand how our faith interacts with our culture?  And isn't it important to remember that "way back when" Christianity was the primary description of our identity? 

That is one aspect of Islam that Christianity has lost.  Muslims are, above anything else, Muslim.  That is their identity.  It is not part of who they are, or just the religion they practice.  It is woven throughout their being.  In America, "Americanism" is woven throughout our being.  But what does that mean?  It's a little bit of God, a little bit of hard-work, a little bit of self-reliance, a little bit of superiority, a little bit of ingenuity (you may argue on the "little bit" but you get the idea).  Our identity is not our faith first, for the most part.  No wonder the Muslim world looks at America as a weak Christian Nation.  We're constantly arguing if we're a Christian Nation or not.  We have no fundamental identity.  And for those that truly believe we are a Christian nation, what does that mean?

There's a false sense of security and spirituality in "American Christianity."  I'm not saying that American Christians (Is it American Christians, or Christian Americans - again, a different discussion for a different day) don't have security and a strong faith.  Many do.  It's just that for any culture the challenge of remembering the foundational faith of your heritage is only as valuable as the culture that stands upon it.  Why do you think many Jews & Catholics (just to name a few) "remember" all the time, but still don't take their "faith" seriously.  It is because they value the heritage, but not the spiritual foundation.  They lift up the tradition without lifting up the truth upon which it was built.  You get the statistics like 92% of Americans believe in God, but 72% believe that there's more than one religion that can lead to eternity and only 43% go to church.  So the heritage is there, but the Faith is not.

There are opportunities churches have to do a great service to the culture and community.  We need to re-connect the dots.  We need to be bold and communicate the Word of God and not just wave a big American Flag.  We're not celebrating the fact that we're Americans.  We're celebrating the fact that we're Christians in America.  We're celebrating the fact that our founders had a faith and a purpose founded on Christ.  Songs help us celebrate.  They are unifying, culturally significant, and emotionally powerful.  They help remind us of our foundation, and therefore ground us in a bigger context.  The American Dream wasn't a white picket fence, 2 kids, a garage, dog, and pension plan.  The American Dream was Freedom - life, liberty, and pursuit - and the foundation of that Freedom is in Christ.

So on Sunday, we're going to sing patriotic songs.  We're going to sing songs that help us remember that in the founding of our country, God was glorified - by the faithful who fought in word, deed, and blood for these United States.  We'll remember that their foundation is the same foundation we stand on today - Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of us all.  Glory, Glory Hallelujah, His Truth is Marching On!