Tuesday, April 28, 2009

LADA - Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood

As many of you know, I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005 (about 4 years ago). At the time, I was losing weight at a rapid pace (I went from 230 to 200 lbs in a few months), and I was drinking lots of water and up several times during the night using the restroom. My wife set me up with a physical and they quickly diagnosed that I was diabetic. Because I was 25, they assumed it was type-2 diabetes. Type-2 is defined as the kind of diabetes where your body is producing sufficient levels of insulin, but your cells have become resistant to the insulin and therefore you cannot use the sugar in the blood effectively. Type-2 diabetes is usually a self-induced form of diabetes, occurring in people who are overweight and not taking care of themselves physically. With some changes in diet and lifestyle, I was able to get my sugars under control for the first few years, so we thought everything was good.

Well, in the last six months, my sugars have continued to slowly rise. My endocrinologist here in Austin has told me since I started seeing him that he was suspicious that I was not type-2, but actually a slow-progressing type-1. This didn't make much sense to me since everything you read says that type-1 diabetics must immediately go on insulin. Type-1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder whereby your body attacks your pancreas and kills your body's ability to make insulin. So, type-1 works different from type-2, though both cause higher-than-normal blood sugars. The body has to have insulin in order to process sugar, so without insulin, sugars get dangerously high and will eventually cause life-threatening complications.

So, back to my weird story. My blood work shows that I am still making some insulin (so I'm not a pure type-1 (yet)), but it also shows that the antibody is present that demonstrates that my immune system is attacking my pancreas. Oral medications are not helpful to me at this point, and the endocrinologist has recommended some periodic insulin at meal-times if I need help lowering my sugars. This whole situation has been very confusing for us, but we are finally getting some answers. It is our understanding that researchers are now saying that the type-1, type-2 classifications are actually missing another form of diabetes called LADA - latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood. This form of diabetes manifests itself as type-2, but is actually an adult-onset, slow-progressing form of type-1 diabetes. The description we've read of LADA sounds like it fits me perfectly.

Check out this article from John Hopkins that describes the difference between LADA and type-2 diabetes.

I go again this Thursday to see my new endocrinologist (the previous one just moved to Temple to work with Scott and White Hospital system), so pray for more clarity and wisdom on how to handle this thing moving forward. I'm on a really strict diet right now that is helping me to keep my sugars low and is also causing some more weight loss. I weighed in last week at 163 pounds. I feel healthier, but it is a hard diet to stay disciplined on. Thanks for everyone's prayers ans support.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Baptism Explanation Video

We shot this video last week and shared it in service today. I hope it helps you to understand the importance and meaning of baptism...

Baptism Promo for May 17, 2009 from Hill Country Bible on Vimeo.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Round Rock ISD Policy

Just to catch everyone up on our journey in working with the RRISD school-board to change their facility-use policy, I want to give you a quick history of the last 12 months. Last April (2008), I made a presentation to the RRISD school-board asking them to revisit their facility-use policy (GKD-Local) that restricts access to their facilities on Sundays. RRISD is the only district in central Texas that does not allow organizations to rent their facilities on Sundays. The current policy is hurting the faith community in Round Rock (and therefore hurting the community itself) because fewer churches are being started in our city. More and more church-planters who want to start a church in Round Rock are opting to move their new works into surrounding areas (like Cedar Park, Leander, Georgetown, Austin, and Pflugerville, where schools can be rented on Sundays). Our city continues to grow every year, but the growth in number of churches is not keeping pace with the growth of the city, much less increasing as a percentage of the city.

After consideration, the school-board rejected my request and voted in June of 2008 to leave policy GKD as is. Following this decision, I joined up with other concerned Round Rock citizens to make sure we did our homework before we presented again. During the next 10 months, we met with district employees and trustee members to make sure that we knew why the original decision was made (in 2003) to change the policy, and what obstacles were in the way to changing the policy again. Our research was used to update our proposal and provide some possible solutions to these challenges. You can read our recommendations in the attached policy proposal. Following our year of prayer and research, we presented the revised proposal to the Round Rock ISD school board meeting on March 26th, 2009. I again asked the trustees to consider removing the Sunday restriction. The RRISD school-board agreed to refer the proposal to their policy sub-committee (which consists of 3 of the 7 board members). This policy sub-committee brought back a recommendation at the April 16th meeting held last Thursday. The sub-committee again recommended that the policy stay the same, but other members of the board asked for more information before making a final decision.

You can watch the 30-minute discussion that the RRISD board had on April 16th by going to the following link:

The discussion occurs between 1:47:40 and 2:16:36 on the video.

For more information, you can also read the story that the Round Rock Leader is publishing this weekend:

In response to the board’s concerns (as expressed at the April 16th meeting), we are taking the following next steps:

1) I am working to meet with Tracy Hoke, the district’s CFO to look at the financial impact of changing the policy. From estimates that I have made from looking at utility costs listed on the RRISD website, it does not seem like the district will be losing money by renting out its facilities on Sundays. However, we want to do our due-diligence to make sure that there are not unseen costs that we are not aware of. You can see my cost analysis in the policy-proposal attached (see attachment A).

2) We will be speaking again at the May 21st school board meeting (the next time this policy will come up for discussion) to show our support for the district trustees making this policy change. If you would like to come and speak in support, your presence would be greatly appreciated. The school-board meets at Round Rock High School on the third-Thursday of the month for their regular board meeting at 7:30 PM. You have to sign-up before the meeting and request to speak, and then the board calls on you to address them.

3) We compared the RRISD policy not only with other districts in the area, but with the districts in their cohort. Their cohort is made up of six other districts in the state of Texas that are similar in size and make-up to RRISD. None of these school-districts restrict the use of the facilities on Sunday. We hope to make the school board aware that they are the only district in central Texas and the only district in their cohort to have this policy.

So, how can we use your help at this point in the journey?

We are asking each of you who care about this issue to let your voice be heard by emailing the members of the RRISD school board and voicing your support of this policy change. Also, if you know others in your relational sphere who live in the district, forward this email to them and ask them to speak up on behalf of this change. The trustees of RRISD are elected representatives and need to hear from their constituents. At the last several meetings I’ve attended, emails from constituents have significantly impacted the discussion of the school board. Your email is very important! Everyone who lives within RRISD has a right to be heard on this issue. A list of the current school board members and those running for school board are listed below. When you contact them, make sure to state in your own words your desire for them to vote to change the current GKD Local policy to remove the Sunday restriction.

Brian Sellers, Place 1 (2008-2011)

Charles “Chad” Chadwell, Place 2 (2008-2009)

Diane Cox, Place 3 & President (2008-2011)

Dr. Linelle Clark-Brown, Place 4 & Secretary (2007-2010)

Sherry Johnson, Place 5 (2007-2010)

Glen Colby, Place 6 (2008-2011)

Pat Abbot, Place 7 (2006-2009)

Dr. Jesus Chavez, Superintendent

Antonio Champion, Candidate for Place 7

Bobby Seiferman, Candidate for Place 7

Gunnar Ristroph, Candidate for Place 2

Thanks so much for your prayers and support!

Please let me know if you have any input and thoughts before next month’s school-board meeting.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Leap of Doubt #1 - Can there be just one true religion?

Easter Sunday, April 12 marked the beginning of our new series on doubt called Leap of Doubt. The first message in the series was titled Can there be just one true religion? and dealt with the issue of the exclusive nature of the claims of Jesus to be the only way to the Father.

To start the series, I mentioned that skepticism and doubt are good in that they lead us to challenge assumptions that we previously held uncritically. We all grow up learning a certain worldview from our parents and culture, and we all come to the place at some point in our lives where we have to own our belief-system. What do think about our original worldview and how does it hold up to critical challenges? Everyone goes through this process, not just Christians. Secular humanists and Muslims and Agnostics all go through this process of questioning beliefs they originally held without question. The goal, however, is not to allow skepticism to become a worldview itself - this simply leads to cynical people who question everything and believe nothing.

In this first sermon, I tried to show that Christianity is not alone in making exclusive truth claims. Every worldview makes claims of truth that it believes are superior to other truth claims. This pattern hold for atheists, agnostics, pluralists, and adherents to other religions. Every faith-system sees the world through a lens of exclusive beliefs that defines reality and makes sense of the world we encounter. The question is NOT about the arrogance of Christian truth-claims - the question is which set of exclusive beliefs creates gracious, loving, compassionate people? I made the case the Christian gospel gives us a unique framework by which to appreciate other people and worldviews and to love them despite our differences. But you have to decide that question for yourself.

The second objection to exclusivity I tried to address is really the central issue of the whole debate. Is the gospel message true? Who cares if it is exclusive if it is true? And on the flip side, who cares if it exclusive if it is false? We should accept it or reject it based on its truthfulness, not its exclusiveness. To answer this question, I believe we have to evaluate the central tenant of the Christian faith - did Jesus Christ rise from the dead? The resurrection question must be answered to evaluate the Christian faith. If Jesus did rise from the dead (as Paul claims in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11) and appear to many witnesses in the flesh, then He is who He claimed to be, and we should submit ourselves to Him. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then everything else falls apart. The good news of biblical Christianity is that Jesus Christ conquered sin, death, and hell through His death and resurrection. I believe that the historical evidence of the gospels, the birth of the early church, the martyrs' death of the apostles, the empty grave, and post-resurrection appearances all give strong weight to the argument that Jesus is alive. Of course, the final evidence that convinced me is that He met me personally.

The final objection to the exclusive claims of Jesus is that they simply are not fair. In other words, how can Christianity be true when it would condemn so many people to eternal hell who do trust in the name of Jesus? Two quick points. First, we do know that God loves people more than we do because He sent His Son to die for Him on the cross. To question God's methods of salvation is to miss the heart of God for all people. Second, we also know that we don't want fair in our own lives. We can't live with fair. Fair would immediately send us to hell for the sins in our lives. We, like Paul and the disciples of the NT, need grace. The message of Jesus is the message of grace offered to those who don't deserve it.

At the end of each week's message, I am taking some questions by text-messaging. I wanted to post some answers to the questions I couldn't get to on Sunday morning. Here were some of the questions that I received related to this first sermon:

How can this church claim to have access to the one true faith when even Christian churches disagree about the truth?

This is a great question, and leads me to make sure we communicate the difference between open-handed and closed-handed doctrines. All "historically orthodox Christian" churches agree on the central teachings of the faith defined by the councils of the early church (at Nicea, Chalcedon, and Constantinople) which settled the issues of the doctrine of God (the Trinity), the doctrine of Jesus (fully God and man), and the doctrine of the work of Jesus (died for our sins and rose again). These are closed-handed issues. If a church doesn't affirm them, they are not historically Christian. I gave seven core doctrinal issues in my message in March on the risk of standing for truth that I believe all Christian churches hold to. Many other doctrinal issues are open-handed issues that create denominations, but don't make or break the faith. Open-handed issues would be like convictions on church-government, spiritual gifts, style of worship, etc. These issues may generate different denominations, but we can disagree on these without being outside the historic church.

I have a friend who is a committed atheist. How do I convince her that Jesus is real?

Ultimately, you can't - only God can. If that is true, then the first step in helping her meet the risen Christ is to pray for her daily. God responds to our prayers, so the front lines of the battle is fought on our knees. Pray faithfully that God will change her heart. Second, be faithful to communicate the gospel as the central issue. Don't get distracted by lots if small-issues. Make the resurrection of Jesus the central issue. As you continue to share the clear gospel message, God can use it to penetrate her heart. Finally, just be a good friend who is loving, compassionate, and gracious. Allow your friend to see the difference that Jesus Christ has made in your life through the gospel.

In theory, Christianity should produce the most loving, gracious people. But in reality, many non-Christians that I know are more understanding and compassionate than Christians I know. How do you explain this?

Two parts to this answer. First, many Christians in name are actually moralistic legalists. In other words, they have not realized that their position with God is based solely on the grace of God. They somehow think that God loves them because they have been a good person their whole life. This distortion of the gospel definitely creates arrogant, self-righteous people. But of course, Jesus was the most harsh with this type of person during his ministry - so this is NOT what Christianity is. Second, because the gospel teaches that we are reconciled to God by the work of Jesus and not by our good works, we should expect that many non-Christians are morally superior people. Some because they think their eternity depends on their daily works. Some because they had a good upbringing and are just morally outstanding people. This is not suprising biblically. The Scriptures teach that God puts the moral code of his law on the hearts of all people, so everyone knows what they should do even if we are unable to do it all the time.

I hope these thoughts help. Ultimately, the leap of doubt leads us from asking tough questions to assuming none of it is true. Our encouragement during this series is to ask the tough questions with an open heart and mind to see if God won't lead you through the evidence to take the leap of faith and put your trust in Jesus.

More thoughts later on the second message in this series that I preached last Sunday on the injustices the church has done in the name of Jesus throughout history.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

E-Invites to Easter!

Our staff has put together a neat feature on our website for Easter where we can E-invite someone to our Easter series, Leap of Doubt. The e-invites can be found HERE. Check them out.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Rangers Win & Other Random Thoughts

The Texas Rangers won their season-opener 9-1 yesterday as they hit all over Cliff Lee, the Indians' stud pitcher, and got a great pitching performance from Kevin Millwood. I heard a commentator say last night on ESPN that the Rangers look like they are having fun on the field together as a team. I would second that thought after seeing them at Spring-Training. They are having fun, and they may just end up surprising everyone this year!

I have found a new podcast that I listen to regularly and really enjoy. It is a weekly radio program (sent out as a podcast) called Unbelievable. The program is hosted in England and is built around the idea that getting Christians and non-Christians together to talk is helpful to both. I thoroughly agree. Each Saturday, the host, Justin Brierley asks questions to two scholars/pastors/authors about the topic for that day. The program is awesome, especially if you like apologetics. I would highly recommend it to you.

This Sunday is Easter, and we are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus by starting a new series called, Leap of Doubt. Our team has developed a great website with previews of the sermon series, which will also serve as the place where we host the sermon videos after the series is over.

I think I have another sinus infection that really got going on Sunday afternoon. I'm leaving now to go see my ENT to see what he thinks. I may be a little jumpy after my hospital stay last October, but I want to make sure I don't let something go on untreated if it needs to be treated.


Sunday, April 05, 2009

God and the Economy

I preached Sunday on Risk and Recession, exploring what God might be teaching us through this economic downturn. We spent some time looking at 1 Timothy 6:6-19. Check out these very appropriate words for us today:
6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs...

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
I shared some quotes about what has happened in the last 30 years to our economy and how it has exposed our own excesses in life. You can check out these very interesting articles:

Time magazine had a cover article last week called The End of Excess, which is a good overview of the financial meltdown. Like usual, Kurt Anderson, the author of the article wants to say there were moral failings along the way, but without turning to Scripture, what basis do we have for saying we acted inappropriately?

Gordon MacDonald has an article in Leadership Magazine where he addresses how Christian leaders should speak into the financial crisis. The article is called Speaking into the Meltdown, and it is a basic call for prophetic voices in the church modeled after the prophets in the Old Testament.

I also found John Piper's sermon called, What is the Recession For?, very helpful in his biblical understanding of how a sovereign God can use difficult times to awaken a heart in His people for personal repentance.

Have fun looking over these resources...