Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2 – NASB95)
The Apostle John prayed this for a wonderful brother in the Lord named Gaius. This was a common name, so we don’t know if he is also mentioned in other passages (Acts 19:29; 20:4; Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14). We do know that John calls him “beloved” in 4 verses in 3 John (vv. 1, 2, 5, 11), and that John prayed for him that his physical health would match his spiritual health. Could you imagine how encouraged you would be if the Apostle John wrote you a letter, calling you beloved, and telling you he was praying for your health? Wow! What a joy to know that others care about your well-being and are praying for you. That leads me to one of the most frequent questions I have heard over the past 3 years, “How is your health?” It’s usually followed by, “I’m praying for you.” Now, for some of you who don’t know how my health has been, let me give you a quick review.
3+ years ago (Oct. 2020), I started having atrial fibrillation (Afib) and tachycardia. This led to a series of tests and the need to take meds to keep it under control. The tests ultimately revealed I had a problem (from birth) with my aortic valve leaking (only 2 flaps instead of 3), and with an aneurysm in the first 2 inches of my ascending aorta. Through open heart surgery in June 2021, they replaced my aortic valve with a cow heart valve and replaced the 2 inches of my aorta with a Dacron tube (yes, Randy and I are both “polyester” guys at heart). Everything worked excellently, but the Afib problem did not go away. In 2023, the Afib began happening more frequently (eventually daily) and would often last most of the day. This past September I had an ablation of my heart which appears to have taken care of the Afib problem. I have not had any Afib symptoms in 4 months! Thank you, Lord.
You may have already known those things. But what you may not have known is the impact the medications have had on me for the past 3+ years. I am normally a high-energy guy (nickname = Tigger), but that has not been the case over this period of time. I have struggled with extreme fatigue, mental fog, dizziness, and memory loss. It was compounded for the 3 months after the ablation when I was taking an even stronger medication in addition to the ones I had been taking. Those 3 months were incredibly challenging as the dizziness and fatigue got worse and I needed to take afternoon naps to make it through each day. I truly believe it was the Lord graciously answering your prayers that got me through.
Although I’m still taking the original meds, in mid-December I was allowed to stop taking the new, stronger one, and I am now starting to get my energy back. It is my hope that my cardiologist will allow me to reduce the original meds and eventually stop taking them. When that happens, I will hopefully be Tigger again (albeit a slightly older version). Thank you, thank you, thank you for your concern and your prayers.
Now to a rumor that I heard was going around about my future plans… I am not planning to retire, and I am not planning to candidate somewhere else. I believe some have wondered about that for two reasons:
- We have been having more men other than myself preach this past year. That has been by design as we want to train more men to preach. It was also helpful to me as I struggled with the things mentioned above. The Lord has blessed us with a growing number of gifted men. Perhaps some of them will go plant churches from our church. Perhaps some of them will share the preaching with me at The Bridge and/or take over when I am in heaven or no longer capable. Either way, there is a famine in the land for good preaching and we want to train as many men as possible to feed and lead God’s people.
- I will be away on a sabbatical this July-September. Our church policy allows a pastor to take a sabbatical every 7 years so he can rest, get rejuvenated, work on projects, etc. This will be my second sabbatical in 34 years. I am planning to travel some with my wonderful wife, spend more time with our grandkids, exercise and improve my health, read, study the book of Revelation, and work on some leadership development projects. If I get the stories I have been waiting for from India, I will work on writing a book to help promote and raise funds for our mission agency, Shepherding The Nations (STN).
The Lord can do whatever He wants to do with my life. I want to faithfully carry out His will for me. I believe His will for me right now is to serve you here at The Bridge. I am humbled and honored by the privilege of being a pastor at this incredible church that is making an impact on the world for Jesus Christ. Please continue to pray that I will have increased energy to love and serve all of you.