Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Able to Keep You

In light of Woody's recent exhortation to bring a positive post after a bunch of negative ones, and in light of the Hebrews 13 benediction I chose for my son's birthday blessing, I am reminded of another wonderful benediction from Scripture:

Jude 24-25 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

I'll put it this way- I remember my then 2 ½ year old son Nicolas feeling and acting secure in my arms as I stood in the middle of the pool. For fun, I began walking slowly toward the deep end, gently chanting, "deeper and deeper and deeper"as the water rose higher and higher on Nico. His face registered increasing degrees of panic, as he held all the more tightly to me, who, of course, easily touched the bottom. Had my little son been able to analyze his situation, he'd have realized there was no reason for his increased anxiety. First, the pool's greatest depth was just under 5 feet, even I am taller than that. He would be safe in my arms at the pools greatest depth. Second, even though his nervousness increased as the water got higher, the water's depth in ANY part of the pool was over his head if he were on his own. If he were not being held, he would have drowned in the shallow end just as fast as in the "deep" end. His safety anywhere in that pool depended on me holding him.

At various points in our lives, all of us feel we're getting "out of our depth" -- problems abound, a job is lost, sickness creeps in, a relationship seems to go awry, someone dies, etc. Our temptation is to panic as we feel we've lost control. Yet, as with my son in the pool, the truth is we've never been in control. We've always been held up by the grace of God, our Father, and that does not change. God is never out of his depth, and therefore we're safe when we're "going deeper" than we've ever been.

“Our great danger is falling and faultiness. Our great safety is Divine ability and faithfulness, by which we are kept from stumbling” –C.H. Spurgeon

In a beautiful and praiseful benediction by Jude, we are commended to the grace of God, with a declaration that it is God alone who can give us the perseverance that is required of us. These closing verses of Jude form a doxology. A doxology is an expression of praise to God. A doxology is a solemn ascription of Glory to the great God of the universe. These words in Jude 24 and 25 comprise one of my favorite benedictions to give the Covenant people of God, at the end of one of our worship services.

In essence, at the end of Jude’s weighty letter, He is calling us to worship our God who is both able to do all He has said He will and who is worthy of all praise. As we focus on worshiping God, His sovereign grace comes more and more in to view. When God’s grace comes in to clearer view- our confidence rises and obedience to God’s Law follows. At the heart of Christian ethics is not a list of rules first- it’s worshiping our able and worthy God. Following the rules relates to worship. Jude understands this dynamic of our growth in the faith so he closes by remind us of our God’s great ability to sustain us and His worthiness of our praise.


Rick Calohan said...


Tony I am please to see that you and I hope Jordan are on the mend. Since, we came home from the hospital last Thursday, which is when we last saw you, it has been a blessing in so many ways. Knowing the Lord’s Grace and Lordship is vital to having Peace in our daily lives.

To all the people of Redeemer Presbyterian, Peace and Grace to you in the name of the Lord!

We again would like to extend our sincerest appreciation for your thoughts, prayers, and offerings to us during this most joyous often-exhausting time of our lives.

To give you a clue how a week in the life of me thus far has gone.

• My wife Dorothy gave birth to our son on Tuesday, February 26, 2008.

• My son John Patrick Calohan has jaundice and required phototherapy until his bilirubin levels are acceptable. He has a pediatric appointment on Friday, March 7, 2008.

• I returned to work on March 3, 2008.

• My wife called me on or about 11 am; she had a fever of 104 F or 40 C. She was hyperventilating and dehydrated. I tried to convey to her and my mother who is deaf to obtain a paper bag and water over the phone. I then informed the supervisor of this who approved my annual leave for the rest of the day. I called back home several times to reassure my wife and made sure my mom was there to assist her. Although I scheduled my leave at 11:30 am – 6 pm, I did not leave until 11:45 am. It took an additional 10 minutes to get to my car because of the parking situation at work. I did not get home until 12:25 pm. It would take another hour to get my wife stabilized.

• I took 6 hours of annual on Monday.

• I came home to make sure she was well. Called her doctors and monitored her condition.

• On or about 7:30 pm on March 3, 2008, the same conditions of hyperventilating returned. I was able to give her immediate medical attention.

• I called our pharmacist, Shawnee Mission Medical Center Ask-A-Nurse, and her OBGYN, Dr. Ana Martinez. They all recommend that I stay with her for at least another week.

• I called division chief, on two occasions prior to my wife’s appointment on March 4, 2008 to inform him of my absence, and the reason thereof to explain the current situation to him. I called a third time to explain Dr. Martinez decision. He called me back and informed me that he has no authority to approve advance sick leave.

• We saw my wife’s OBGYN doctor March 4, 2008. She prescribed medication to my wife to control her post partum anxiety.

• Dorothy’s doctor a note to excuse me from work until March 12, 2008.

• I have requested 3 hours annual 4 hours sick and if approved one hour of advance sick leave for March 4, 2008. After taking such leave, my current leave balance as of today is zero Annual leave and -1 hour Sick Leave and or Leave Without Pay.

• I am in the eight annual four sick leave category. In other words, that is how many hours I accrue per pay period. There are 26 pay periods in a calendar year. Based on end of year projections prior to any advance sick leave approval I will have by pay period 26, 168 hours of annual leave, 84 hours of sick leave.

• I have since my employment with this agency been honest and forthright regarding sick leave used for the purposes of taking care of my family. When I did not have sick leave, I have used Annual Leave in Lieu of, and plan to continue to do so when and if needed. However, as I indicated before I have exhausted both annual and sick leave at this time. Therefore, I have requested to take from 5 pm March 4, 2008, until 6 pm March 11, 2008, 41 hours of advance sick leave.

So yesterday, I spent three hours at my work just to get my paperwork in. I never had this issue when I worked at Department of Ed, National Archives, or Infernal Revenue. No wonder we have yet to catch Bin Laden, and Juan, Pedro, and Chico continue to overflow our porous borders.

If they have not figured me out by now, they shall soon know that as for me my priorities are:

1. is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever
2. My family
3. My work

Tonight my wife is still battling with her fever but I am keeping a watchful eye on her making sure her fever breaks quickly, that she gets her rest, fluids, and meals. As well as doing what is required to lower the risk of Mastitis. As each day passes I know that Lord is with us as for we are truly blessed.

2 Timothy 2: 11-14 reminds us

The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him;
if we endure, we will also reign with Him;
if we deny Him, He also will deny us;
if we are faithless, He remains faithful—
for He cannot deny himself.

John is resting comfortably now that he no longer has to be in a billibed and his bilirubin count is now at acceptable levels. He is now enjoying the freedom of his bassinette

Through faith, we are justified, and I know that by His Grace, Mercy, Love, and Providence we shall prevail! For He is always in control of lives even it what may seem to us mere mortals as often chaotic and hectic existence. That is the Grace we have when we are Christ centered and not Me Centered.

I of course am grateful that we can call Redeemer home, thank you all for making us feel at home.

In His Grace, for His Glory!

Rick, Dorothy, & John Patrick Calohan

Gratitude for Recovery

O Father of mercies, we thank Thee in behalf of Thy servant whom Thou hast restored to health. We cried unto Thee, and Thou has healed him. We trusted in Thee, and Thou has helped us. Therefore will we praise Thy name together. Grant, O Lord, that the life which Thou hast saved may be more entirely devoted to Thy service, and that we may learn to love Thee, and trust in Thee more and more; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

AJF said...

Wow Rick, you and your family have had a trial recently.

May God give your employer compassion to be with your family at this time (not to mention acknowledgemet of the family leave act!). May Lord give your wife healing and health and protect your newborn son from sickness himself. Amen.

Rick Calohan said...

Well if they do not they are in violation of FMLA of 1993 (Yes, for all you Clinton Haters and that includes me, he did signed four things into law correctly during his eight years. The other three were Defense Authorization Act of November 18, 1997 which gave Gulf War Era Veterans the same 5 point employment that other Vets who served during earlier conflicts; The Hope Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit; and the The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 granted it was a Republican Congress that forced into that corner but never the less.) Along with what the Office of Personnel Management Guidelines which state:

Advance Sick Leave
At the discretion of the agency, a maximum of 30 days of sick leave may be advanced to an employee with a medical emergency for purposes related to the adoption of a child, for family care or bereavement purposes, or to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Definition of Family Member
"Family member" is defined as-
• spouse, and parents thereof;
• children, including adopted children, and spouses thereof;
• parents;
• brothers and sisters, and spouses thereof; and
• any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.

An agency may advance employees annual and/or sick leave for purposes related to childbirth. An agency may advance the amount of annual leave an employee would accrue during the remainder of the leave year. An agency may advance a maximum of 30 days of sick leave to a mother during her period of incapacitation for pregnancy and childbirth or to care for a child who is ill. An agency also may advance up to 30 days of sick leave to a father to care for the mother during her period of incapacitation for pregnancy and childbirth or to care for a child who is ill.

To use an Obama word the “AUDACITY” of it all is this is the same Federal Government that imposes on industry and small businesses rules and regulations that they (FEDERAL GOVERNMENT) often times are in violation of.

They are just fortunate that I am not one to milk a situation as listed above you can clearly see that I am only asking for 41 hours and not 240 hours or 30 days.

Thank you for your prayers for our family.

Frontier Forest said...

Pastor Tony, thanks so much for the beautiful analogy and reminding me that it is God, the Great I AM, who is holding on to me… not me trying to hold on to God! (John 10:28-29)
Rick, may the Lord bless you beyond words for your honest and faithfulness.