Learning to Ask for Help Now – Prep 4 the Big 1


In 2008, John Stumbo experienced what most would call The Big One. John was a long distance runner, even doing ultra-marathons. He was a mountain climber, often on Mount Hood. He was a cyclist – a healthy guy. He never spent a day in the hospital.

And then The Big One hit when he was 47 years of age. On October 18, 2008, he went for a short run — just 10 miles. He noticed that day that he had a rash on his body. Next day, he felt like he was getting the flu. In a short time he could not bend his arm to brush his teeth due to the swelling. In about a week’s time, he had lost his ability to drive. He couldn’t move his legs, even from the gas to the brake. Whatever was hitting him was hitting him hard and fast.

One of his last conscious memories was a doctor with a chart in his hand saying, “I’ve never seen anyone with such low levels of sodium who is still alive!” His whole system was shutting down. Over the course of time, his wife was called into the room numerous times, because they were sure he was dying. As he regained some strength, it was evident that whatever attacked him attacked his muscular system from head to toe. Unable to eat, drink — for months. He couldn’t swallow his own saliva. That was just the beginning of his journey. You can read about the rest of it in his book, An Honest Look at a Mysterious Journey.

When you think of that stretch of highway along Dr. Stumbo’s journey, eventually, you ask yourself the question: What if that happened to me? What will I do when the big one hits me?

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Stumbo addressed that issue in a blog for Alliance pastors and international workers. What will you do when the big one hits? In his blog post, Dr. Stumbo gave seven pieces of counsel that apply to us all in being prepared for the future.

This podcast is the first of seven messages revolving around those seven ideas. We’re looking at being prepared for the Big One — not by stock-piling food, but by learning to prepare our souls.

I hope you’ll follow each message and that God will use them to strengthen you for whatever the future holds.


If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan? — Jeremiah 15:12 NLT
To listen, click the play button below.

How to Stop Blaming Others…

Years ago, there was a commercial for some laundry detergent that had a woman trying to get rid of the ring around the collar of her husband’s shirt. You saw the wife holding the shirt in her hand and hearing the voice chanting, Ring around the collar!

The narrator pointed out a distressed wife trying and trying to get the stains out as he says: You’ve tried scrubbing them out and soaking them out and you still get RING AROUND THE COLLAR! In the commercial, the ring around the collar was seen as telltale evidence of her failure.

What the ad never addressed was the obvious question: “Why didn’t that guy wash his neck?”

All of us have a tendency to fall into the pitfall of blaming others. Not blame for ring around the collar. But blame concerning the mistakes you commit in your life.

So let’s just clear the air. For many of the troubles you face in life, there’s no one to blame but yourself. Now that’s not true for everything. But for many things that is the case.

This podcast  addresses the tendency we all have to play the blame game as we struggle with The Pitfall of Blaming.

A Pitfall of Mathematicians…

The first several minutes of this podcast were not recorded. As such, the intro is printed here.

How do you react when you are treated unjustly? I remember my friend Seth, who was attending Clarion University in the 1970’s when the college suddenly dropped his major and told him he could either change to a different degree program or drop out. Seth felt that was unfair. It was.

And I remember another friend of mine, Jim. He wanted to be a State Policeman, but after he received his degree in criminology, the personnel at the PSP told him they were required to hire minorities, and although he was more qualified, he would not be hired.  Both of these men faced something they considered unfair to them.

How did they respond?


Seth responded by figuratively crossing his arms and saying, “That’s not fair!” He walked away from school and took a job stocking groceries on the night-shift and smoking pot on weekends. Despite the fact that he was incredibly intelligent, he let his life fritter away until it ended tragically in a car accident, driven by one of his friends who was intoxicated.

Likewise, Jim responded in anger, but he quickly realized that he could not expect life to treat him fairly. But instead of pouting about it he invested himself in what became a very successful private business that he eventually sold at a great profit so he could retire early. I am pretty sure Jim’s quality of life as a businessman was better than it would have been, had he been able to use his criminology degree. And it was much better than it would have been had he remained bitter toward society and toward God.

The Bible has some examples of people who, feeling as though God was being unfair, responded poorly. Jonah was one of them. As you page through his short book, you can see that in Jonah’s story. It begins with Jonah’s call.

Jonah 1 (NIV) 1The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

We don’t know why, at this point, but Jonah didn’t want to go preach to the wicked people of Nineveh. He ended up being ejected from the ship and in the belly of a great fish.

4Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.

11The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
12“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

15Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.

17But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

2:10 10And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

3:1 1Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 3Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days. 4On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”

And the people of Nineveh repented. (The podcast below picks up here.)

5The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

That’s repentance.

10When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

Now in chapter four you see why Jonah was on the run in the first chapter.

4:1 1But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.

Here is Jonah’s problem: He felt God was being unjust in forgiving the wicked Ninevites.

Jonah had a mathematical formula in his head that went like this:

Good Behavior = A Good Life
If I am a good person, my life should be good.

Bad Behavior = A Bad Life
If you are a bad person, you should suffer.

Some of us have the same formula. If we don’t get rid of it, we’ll be right beside Jonah, despondently sitting on a hillside pouting.

This podcast helps us avoid The Pitfall of the Mathematician.