Monthly Archives: July 2022

Why I wrote: Got Cancer? There’s Help: Tools for Victory in Life’s Battle Royale

Cancer: the word no one wants their doctor to utter. Ugh! Too many hear it. My friend, Dan Rexroth said, “40% of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime.” My dad heard it. Sister too. I heard it but the doctors got it wrong (Whew!).  SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: That’s just one reason I wrote, Got Cancer? There’s Help: Tools for Victory in Life’s Battle Royale.

Another reason for the book is the example that Lisa Marie (not Pressley) has set for us. Lisa moved in with Karla and I last November. She has taught us many things as we have travelled this unknown territory with her. Her example and life have value and meaning and she (along with Jesus, of course) is the inspiration behind much of the book.

Obviously, my M.Div degree does not give me a license to practice medicine. The book isn’t a medical journal. It offers no cures. Neither is the book a “God’s-gotta-heal-ya” book. It’s not even a “God’s-in-control-so-sit-back-and relax” book. I address the issues of theodicy (where’s God in my suffering?) in my last book. ANOTHER SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: Got Cancer? There’s Help give tools for a victorious fight even as the cancer rages on. It gives hope that God’s can still work in the midst of severe trials and continued bad reports. It offers steps to focus on what’s truly important in life. 

Unlike my last book (OLD SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT), Chronic Pain: Finding Hope in the Midst of Suffering, I don’t have any personal knowledge of cancer (other than the false news). One former parishioner sent me condolences for my diagnosis (I don’t have cancer). But my life experiences while pastoring so many with cancer, and what Lisa has taught us have enabled me to write on the ways to be victorious even when the news stinks. 

I don’t suspect I will get rich from this book (someone said 95% of books sell less than 200 copies). It offers no cures to cancer. Still, my hope and prayer is that there are some folks who can be helped by reading it. My light-hearted style of writing attempts to bring a smile at life’s joys and tough times too. A smile not based on no pain or a cancer-free report (that would bring more than a smile it would be a shout of Hallelujah) but based on a confidence that in our trials big and small, God still is with us. 

After preaching, I believe God has called me to write. So, you could say that’s the last reason for this latest book. I simply had to write it and to not write would be disobedient. 

A proof copy of the book is supposed to arrive today. I’ll be making final edits and then send it off to be published. The release date is August 21 and Lisa and I have scheduled a book signing following the service at Central Church that morning for anyone who would like to purchase the book at the discounted church rate ($12 instead of $15.99 on Amazon). You can pre-order the Kindle version now on Amazon.

I hope you and your loved ones never get cancer, but if they do (FINAL SHAMELESS PLUG) Got Cancer? There’s Help: Tools for Victory in Life’s Battle Royale will be a blessing.

When the Church Loses This… It’s Lost

Church leaders around the country are scratching their heads and asking themselves why are people leaving churches in droves (and why pastors are leaving too). There have been many reasons given:

  • The pandemic got people used to watching a service at home.
  • The pandemic pushed people to the fringes and caused them to act like idiots. 
  • The music (pick your preference) is: too loud, too old, too new, too blah, blah, blah…
  • The preacher stinks (ouch)
  • The church has become too political
  • The church isn’t political enough
  • The term “evangelical” has become a political and not a religious term
  • There are too many other things vying for people’s time and money
  • The youth pastor (pick your preference) is: too liberal, too conservative, too blah, blah, blah..
  • The church talks too much about social ills
  • The church doesn’t talk enough about social ills.
  • The church is not affirming to all people
  • The church is too affirming of people’s lifestyle choices.
  • The church folks aren’t loving, kind, caring and sometimes are downright mean
  • Too many doubts, too few answers

and the timeless, age-old criticism…

  • Too many hypocrites 

Some of these things are true. Some not so true. Here’s my take: People are mostly leaving because the church has been distracted by things other than the teachings of Jesus. People in 2022 don’t hate Jesus. They want Jesus. They love Jesus. They want more of Jesus and they feel (true or not true) that they aren’t getting Jesus in church. Instead they are getting– pick the churches’ preference: too liberal, too right wing political, too much social justice, not enough social justice, blah, blah, blah and they’ve headed for the exits.

Churches have gotten distracted by many things (and some are good things), but those distractions cause them to miss the main thing– which is Jesus. In many churches the fight has been over “what would Jesus do?” Maybe the focus should be on “How would Jesus respond to what others are doing?” There are plenty of people/churches who have thought right, but responded wrong and their members have headed for the exits.

We need to be like Paul in 1 Corinthians when he wrote: For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2). The Corinthian Church was divided too. Paul’s answer to the troubled church was a singular emphasis: Jesus.

The church must likewise resolve: To know and do nothing but proclaim Jesus Christ and him crucified!

Keep the focus on the main thing: Jesus.

Remind me again: How Have Religious Leaders Changed?  

If you don’t see the similarities between some of America’s church leaders and Caiaphas and the religious leaders in John 11 then you aren’t looking close enough. Here’s a quick recap if you are not up on your first century politics: In John 11, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and it throws the religious leaders into a frenzy. They call a secret meeting and say: If we let him (Jesus) go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation (John 11:48).

This is the only place in the New Testament where the term “the Romans” was used. Slow down, would-be scoffer—I know there is a book in the Bible called “Romans” and there are Roman centurions and Roman governors, etc., but this is the only place where the term “the Romans” is used to describe the Empire of Rome as a political and more important military entity. The religious leaders knew “the Romans” had the capabilities to destroy the temple and the nation. They were afraid that Jesus would so upset the apple cart (by doing such revolutionary things as preaching, healing, feeding people and raising the dead apparently), that the Romans would come in and destroy everything.

Here’s the rub: The Romans did destroy everything in the year 70AD and their aggression had nothing to do with Jesus. Here’s the other rub: John may have written this gospel AFTER the temple had been destroyed. In other words, the original readers of John would have been keenly aware that the Romans destroyed what the religious leaders were clinging to and it wasn’t because of Jesus or Lazarus. 

My point: The religious leaders in John 11 were plotting to kill people in an effort to save the “holy” religious institutions. Somehow in their twisted logic, they concluded that sinning would be OK if it meant saving the institutions. Make no mistake the Temple and the Nation of Israel were important and holy. But God Almighty did not need these bozos (no offense to Bozo) to “save” them by killing innocent people. If God Almighty wanted the temple saved from destruction, it would have been saved without Caiaphas and his henchmen.

Does any of this ring a bell? It should. We all know religious leaders who’ve attempted to do criminal things in an effort to “save” a church, publication, college or denomination. They have lied; coveted; cooked the books to make themselves or the institution look better; and probably somewhere, like those in John 11, have even plotted murder in an effort to “save” the church. 

God doesn’t need our sin-stained help to “save” the church. 

But the devil is sure using “insider” people to destroy it.


If leaders sin in an effort to “save” the church, we’ve already lost her. She will die. If we replace Jesus with anything (even good things), the church will die. Our focus must be on the main things (Loving God. Loving People. Making Christ-like disciples) or the church will die. Don’t be distressed over this news. God Almighty will raise up someone else to carry on His work. The Message of Jesus will continue until our King returns with or without us. The only question is: Will it be with us? I pray it will be.