Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ooh, Feel the Sensation!

Well, I did it today. I am finally bald. It feels like I’m wearing a York Peppermint Patty on my head. Ooh, feel the sensation!

On a more serious note . . .

A reader posted a comment today and asked if you all might only be reading the “cream of [my] thoughts.” She asked if I ever feel sadness, grief, fear, or anger. Especially anger about the possibility of dying sooner than imagined.

First, I have tried to be completely open and honest about what we are going through. I haven’t tried to hide any feelings. We have had moments of sadness and have shed some tears over the “what ifs?”. There have been fears about specific procedures and needles. Mostly needles. But we have not experienced what I would call grief. And we have never been angry at God. The insurance company – okay, a few times!

As far as being angry about the possibility of dying sooner than imagined, I have not experienced that emotion either. Now I realize that this is, in part, due to the fact that my oncologists have positive expectations about the outcome of my treatment. Death has not come up as an option. On the other hand, my wife and I realize that there are no guarantees, and we have discussed the possibility. Again, there are some fears about leaving my wife and children behind, but I do know that they will be in good hands. I trust God. He can take care of them much better than I can! [I’m weeping as I write this.] But there is no anger. God numbers our days. Each day we have is a gift from Him. There is no guarantee of a tomorrow for any of us. I trust Him completely in this. That may sound odd to some people, but that is my attitude. It is an attitude grounded in the Word of God and championed by the Holy Spirit that indwells me.

I also know that God made each one of us a little different. We all handle things differently. We have different emotions. And God knows our emotions. And He can handle our questions. So when we have fears, sadness, or anger, we can run to Him for help.

I do not want to come off sounding like I have all the answers. I do not. I am only six weeks into the battle. But I know what I believe. I know what God tells me in His Word. I know the One who has all the answers. And I know the One who gives me life.

Putting on My Big Boy Boxers

We visited the oncologist at LVH yesterday. We had some good news and some bad news (But remember, God is always good!). The good news is that my white blood cell counts are up and I am not so vulnerable to infections. The bad news is that my red blood cell count is still low - so fatigue will continue to be a factor.

We also discovered today, via ultrasound, that I have a blood clot in my lower right leg. I have to give myself an injection of blood thinner in the belly each day for six days. Now, I do not like needles. Does anyone? I cannot even look at them when I have an injection or have blood drawn. But yesterday, I was told that I would have to learn to give myself injections. Whenever my daughter does not want to do something, we lovingly tell her that she needs to put on her big girls panties and deal with it. So, yesterday, I put on my big boy boxers and learned to give myself an injection. Here is an instance, men, when having a little extra fat around the mid-section is a definite plus!

We return to LVH on Friday for an MRI and another blood draw. On Monday, I have my third round of chemotherapy.

In the meantime, our daughter has to go to the doctor to be checked for a sinus infection, and our youngest son has to have a rash on his face checked. Yesterday, the passenger-side window in our van decided to stop working (the motor died) while in the down position during a rainstorm. Medical paperwork is piling up. Our oldest son’s paperwork for West Point is piling up. And there’s laundry. And dishes. And cleaning. And bills. And shopping. I list all these things not because I think that we have more on our plate than any other family, but because I know that we all deal with the same, or similar, pressures every day.

Life piles up. Life can be overwhelming.

We can throw up our hands and say, “I give up. I quit.” But that accomplishes nothing. That just puts us deeper in the mire.

We can drown in the details, unless we learn to cling to the Lifesaver. Unless we learn to trust the God who is sovereign over the details. Unless we believe, with every fiber of our being, that God is good – all the time.

We can’t handle it all on our own. [We may think we can. And maybe we can, for a season. But we all get to a point, eventually, where it is too much to bear on our own.] We need Him. I need Him. I am reminded of this fact every day. And I am so thankful that the God who met my greatest need – to be saved from sin and death – also meets my daily needs. Because He loves me and He knows what is best for me. He may not always meet my need in the way that I think it needs to be met or in the time frame that I think it need to be met in, but He always meets my need according to his good and perfect will – always in a way that is best for me and for my growth in Christlikeness.

To end on a lighter note, today I am going to the barber shop to have my head shaved. A few bristles of hair have managed to cling to my balding pate, but today is the day of reckoning.

May God be real in your life today!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kevin Feathers, Apple Pie, and Lessons from an Old Prophet

For the past week, I have been laying low, trying to avoid exposing my immune-deficient body to any unnecessary risks. Now, I am not extremely extroverted, but I have had a difficult time being confined to the home.

When we used to take long car trips with small children - fourteen to eighteen hour drives to see family - we used to joke about having kevin feathers the last few hours of the trip. I'm not sure whch of our children coined the phrase for cabin fever. But you know the feeling, the feeling that you cannot spend another minute in the car. The feeling that you have to get out of the house. The feeling that you have to find a way to crawl out of your own skin.

I had a bad case of kevin feathers this week. I was getting irritable (ask my wife!). I had to get out of the house - so we did. We ventured out to have lunch with some friends. And on the way home, we stopped by the house of another couple we had not seen in a while. Here, we happened upon a fresh-baked apple pie. What timing!

Note: Fresh baked apple pie at the home of friends is a great cure for kevin feathers!

Moments like this are a nice, temporary diversion from the difficulties we are facing. But the difficulties are still present and there are still lessons to be learned . . .

In the midst of my present difficulty, God is present, working out His sovereign plan in my life and the lives of those around me.

I revisited an old prophet this week:

Habakkuk cried out to God as he observed what was going on around him – violence, injustice, wickedness. He asked God why He wasn’t doing anything about it. God answered him and told him to look around. He was doing something – something so amazing that Habakkuk would not believe it! God was already at work in the circumstances.

Then God told Habakkuk His plan to use the wicked Babylonians to chastise Israel. This was not the answer that Habakkuk was expecting! But Habakkuk praised God. Habakkuk thought about God. He reflected upon His character. He looked past the circumstances to see the God who was in control of the circumstances.

God told Habakkuk that the righteous will live by his faith (2:4). God wanted Habakkuk to live by his faith.

Living by faith means looking past our circumstances and seeing God who as at work in our circumstances.

In the end, Habakkuk determined to praise God because he knew that the Lord was his strength (3:17-19).

Like Habakkuk, when we are afflicted, we can choose to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and rejoice in our salvation, knowing that God is our strength.

Grace and peace to you all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


In When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, John Ortberg discusses the process of discarding – getting rid of the things that hold you back, the pressing things that keep you from what matters most. We all have things that keep us from what is really important – loving God and loving people. There are times when even our safety, security and comfort may need to be discarded in order to focus on what really matters. In the end we must realize that God is more concerned with our character than our comfort.

If you and I enjoyed nothing but ease and comfort, our world would never learn anything very impressive about God. It would never learn that God is worth serving – even when the going gets tough. Joni Tada

It is in the struggle that our character is revealed. It is in our weakness that God’s grace is magnified.

Part of what makes a human life most powerful is the struggle. John Ortberg

We have a choice – are we going to use the struggle for the purpose that God intended, or are we going to let it use us? It is God alone that determines what is best for me. He spares no pain in accomplishing His will for my life. I need to make a conscious decision that this struggle is for my own good and for His glory. There is an opportunity here to grow in Christ-like character and to magnify the glory of God. We have a choice about the contents and character of our inner lives. We cannot use our struggles as an excuse for sinning. We cannot always control our circumstances, but we are responsible for our responses. We will be held accountable to the Living God for the choices we make.

For those who embrace God in the midst of adversity, there is great comfort and growth in Christ-like character. Ed, a Christian brother and friend, who has suffered great pain due to an accident sixteen months ago, has been a great encouragement to me. He recently wrote: I learned that no matter how strong we think we are God wants us to depend on Him for sustenance in life. Job has also been a great example for me. Job 42:5-6 are verses that gave me a new perspective on how to conduct my life. My pride is not important or anything that was important in my life except looking forward to the Kingdom and seeing that my loved ones and anyone that will listen gets there also. Our ultimate mission is to sow seeds, water them, and reap the harvest of souls for Jesus alone. Thanks Ed!

When all else is discarded, we find out what is really important.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Disappointing News

Sometimes we do not get the answer we are expecting. Life, in fact, is full of unexpected answers. Things do not always go as planned. So, how do we handle these disappointments?

Yesterday, I went the doctor's office to have my blood counts checked. I had been anticipating this day. It would, or so I thought, be the day that the doctor would tell me that all is well and that I can resume somewhat normal activities for two weeks. I anticipated being able to attend some basketball games, visiting my students, attending church services, and getting together with friends..

But the results were not what I expected. It turns out that my white blood cell count is practically zero and my red blood cell count is low. So, I need to lay low for another week.

Am I disappointed? Yes. I was looking forward to being out and about for the week - under limits set by my wife, of course! But instead, I am homebound for the week. And that is OK. I know that God is still in control, and He knows much better what I need than I do. Sometimes, we need to step back. We need to retreat. We need to rest. And we find our rest in God.

He comforts us. He strengthens us. He prepares us for what lies ahead - even when (epecially when) we can't see what is ahead.

When we are faced with disappointment, we must trust God. He is in control. He will work our all things for our good (by His definition, not ours!) and His glory.

When disappointing news arrives, when things do not go as planned, we have a choice. We can waste a lot of time complaining, or we can accept and embrace our present circumstances, knowing that God is present with us.

For today, I have made my choice. May God be glorified.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

His Terms, Not Ours

It is Sunday morning. Our children have gone to Sunday School and morning worship. I am feeling much better than I have the past four days. I woke up without nausea and am feeling somewhat rested.

My wife and I just watched an Andy Stanley message on the Internet. The message focused on the fact that we need to come to God on His terms, not our own. Most people do not become Christians because all their questions are answered; they become Christians when something personal happens to minimize these questions. He used the account of Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 and 15:5-6 to show an example of God revealing Himself on His own terms to an individual person. In Genesis 15:5-6, Abraham put aside all his questions; in verse 6, we read: And Abraham believed the LORD; and He credited it to Him as righteousness. With trust and humility, Abraham submitted to God. Citing John 3:16, Stanley said that the change in your thinking about God comes when you realize that God is personal, that He knows you, He loves you, and He cares about you.

That’s how it was for me, in March of 1993, during the Storm of the Century, on a men’s retreat. It was there that I was overwhelmed by the love of God. Then, in humility I trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in response to the truth of the Word of God.

Andy Stanley challenged his listeners, and I would like to challenge those of you who are reading this blog but are not quite sure about this whole God thing – take some time to tell God: God, I want to know You more than I want all my questions to be answered. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you on His terms. And wait to see what happens. What do you have to lose?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Life Is A Gift

These days, my family and I have been the recipient of many acts of sacrificial love and kindness. Being a recipient teaches many lessons about serving, giving, and gratitude . . .

Serving in self giving love is the most God-like thing a human being can do. John Ortberg

We have the example of God giving His own Son as the perfect sacrifice for our sins so that we may enjoy fellowship with Him for eternity. As we serve others, we partake in this same sacrificial love which God demonstrates for us.

Giving is an act of confidence in God. John Ortberg

As we give our time, money, and resources to others, we give up a little bit of control. We make a decision, conscious or unconscious, to trust God to meet our needs. We express a confidence that God will provide for our own needs as we provide for the needs of others.

I have been thinking about our tendency to hold on and protect our time, our money, and our resources. How much deeper would our confidence in God, how much deeper would our joy be if we learned to let go a little more and treat our possessions what they really are – resources given to us by God to be used for His glory and the benefit of others. I have certainly been challenged by the giving of others. But what steps will I take to put this into practice?

In Philippians 4, Paul writes of his joy that the giving of his recipients will be credited to their account (4:17). They are laying up treasure in heaven. In verse 19, Paul prays that God will supply all their needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. God is limitless. We can never out-give God! This reality was expressed recently by a Christian brother who wrote: Anything I can do to provide for you is a small thing considering the power of our God . . . This is the least I can do as a brother in Christ.

Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. John Ortberg

Life is a gift. I thought I knew that. But having cancer has brought it home. Life is a gift. Each day is a gift. I am learning – yes, still learning – to be grateful for each day. Grateful for my salvation in Christ Jesus. Grateful for a loving wife and friend. Grateful for three great children. And grateful for the opportunity to be a trophy of God’s grace. If he can save and transform a wretch like me, then surely He can do the same for others.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Our Lives Are in His Hands

Today, my body is weak after five days of chemotherapy. I am moving slowly. My thought processes have been depressed. I find my mind wandering easily – to no place in particular. There is more nausea than in the past. Tears are coming easily – even without watching Hallmark commercials!

But there is a song in my heart. How can I keep from singing? I am leaning on the everlasting arms . . .

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

A bit of hymn history: The author of this song based his text on Deuteronomy 33:27a, The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. This hymn reminds us that we have the assurance of God's steadfast care and guidance in every circumstance of life. No matter how difficult things may be today, we can find love and rest in God's everlasting arms.

The last five days at Lehigh Valley Hospital went by quickly. My wife was able to stay at the home of a Christian couple with links to our area. The nurses and doctors were great. The food became less desirable as each day passed! It was nice to come home yesterday. I really missed my three children.

I did not read and write as much as I had wanted to. I had difficulty concentrating, felt nauseous, and dozed off frequently. But I did learn a few things . . .

But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. Psalm 31:14-15.

You do not get to choose your time, your time chooses you. You are where and who you are for a reason. John Ortberg.

Your greatest potential to reflect the love of God may be in your present circumstances. Andy Stanley

God wants to use your life as a display case for a while. He wants your life to be a setting where He can display His grace for all to see. Joni Tada

God is sovereign and our lives are in His hands. We - my family and I - did not choose to have cancer. But God allowed it to happen. And there is a reason. We know that God is in control. And we know that part of His plan – perhaps the greatest part of His plan – for these circumstances is to display His grace. We may have no greater opportunity to reflect the love of God than we do right now in these circumstances. It is our prayer that God will allow others to see, in the midst our circumstances, that His grace is sufficient – that He alone is worthy of our adoration and praise.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Just A Song before I Go . . . How Can I Keep From Singing?

It has been a great week! God has given us many opportunities to be with friends, to enjoy our son's and daughter's basketball games, to read and play with our youngest son, to write, to attend church, to meet with small groups, to work on lesson plans for school, and -through it all - to give testimony of His grace and goodness.

Today is a quiet day. An opportunity to read, write, play with my son, and prepare for the next treatment, which begins tomorrow morning. We are looking forward to spending some time with good friends this evening, and we are anticipating a special time of prayer.

God has graciously provided friends to take care of our three children while we are away for five days. God knows and meets our needs before we can even anticipate them!

We received an e-mail from a friend who has a niece at West Point. As I may have mentioned, this young lady collected money from approximately 130 other cadets - during finals week - to buy my son a sweatshirt and to help with expenses. According to the e-mail, she has offered to make the necessary arrangements (requesting changes in protocol) so that she can be a source of encouragement for our son when he arrives. Again, God knows and provides for our needs.

We continue to be overwhelmed by the number of people who are praying for us - from many area churches, from other parts of Pennsylvania, from Mexico, Peru, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina!

We realized yesterday that is has been less than a month since we found out that have cancer. Much has transpired since then! Many lessons have been learned about God's love, grace, and provision. And the learning continues day by day . . .

Why are we so surprised when we face adversity . . . as though something strange is happening to us? Why am I so surprised when troubles com? Peter tells us to expect suffering (1 Peter 4:12). And James goes even further, telling us to "consider it all joy" (James 1:2). Joni Tada writes that the word "consider" means to regard it that way, to make a conscious acceptance of the fact. We can do that, as believers, because of what James writes in verse 3: that adversity produces endurance in our lives. It produces character. While we would all prefer to go through life sitting by a mountain lake in an Adirondack chair drinking fresh brewed coffee (or insert your own comfortable scenario here), God allows us to go through trials because He is more concerned with our character than our comfort.

An interesting by-product of our suffering is that it allows us to more clearly see, understand, and empathize with the pain and suffering of others. In the past, when I heard of others who were facing cancer, I was sympathetic, but I really didn't understand what they were going through. Now, my heart aches for them - because I know (or at least I am beginning to know)their pain, their fear, and their feelings of uncertainty. But I also understand the sovereignty of God . . .

God is in control. He is directing and ruling over our circumstances. Nothing can happen to me without God's permission. As Kay Arthur writes, every disappointment is His appointment. God allows us to suffer because He loves us and desires to see us grow in Christlikeness. He desires for us to develop character. God loves His children, and promises to be with us in our suffering. When we understand the character of God - His true character as described in the Bible - we know that He is loving, righteous, just, and faithful. We may not always understand our circumstances, but we can always trust in God who promises to see us through our trials and use them for our good and His glory.

If you have been following this blog, you have probably noticed much repetition in the content of my writing. I am aware of this. When we face trials, there are key lessons that we need to learn and need to share. Repetition is part of the learning process. It is for my benefit as well as for the benefit of those you who are learning from my experience with cancer. May God continue to teach us what we need to know about Him and about how to live for Him! It's all about Him.

One of my favorite contemporary songs is How Can I Keep from Singing by Chris Tomlin:

There is an endless song/Echoes in my soul/I hear the music ring/And though the storms may come/I am holding on/To the rock I cling/How can I keep from singing Your praise/How can I ever say enough/How amazing is Your love/How can I keep from shouting Your name/I know I am loved by the King/And it makes my heart want to sing/I will lift my eyes/In the darkest night/For I know my Savior lives/And I will walk with You/Knowing You'll see me through/And sing the songs You give/I can sing in the troubled times/Sing when I win/I can sing when I lose my step/And fall down again/I can sing 'cause You pick me up/Sing 'cause You're there/I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord/When I call to You in prayer/I can sing with my last breath/Sing for I know/That I'll sing with the angels/And the saints around the throne

How can I keep from singing?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Late Night Thoughts about Cancer

I admire David in the Old Testament. Described as “a man after God’s own heart,” he was a real man. He was a man’s man. He messed up his life horribly, but in the final evaluation, he was known as a man with a heart for God. In the psalms, he cried out to God about his circumstances – he made known his anger, his fears, his discouragement, and a whole host of other human emotions – yet he was able to look past his circumstances, his thoughts, and his feelings, and focus on the God who created him, sustained him, and kept him secure in times of trouble.

Over the past few weeks, I have attempted to be transparent about my battle with cancer. I want to be like David. I want to be genuine in sharing my thoughts and emotions concerning our circumstances, but I also want others to know that, because of God’s grace, we can look beyond our circumstances and see the sovereign hand of God.

I have fears. I have concerns. I have shed some tears, and will certainly shed some more. In the past few weeks, my wife and I have had some very frank discussions about my prognosis and about what will happen if I die. We have talked about how to handle finances, funeral arrangements, the care of our children, and other things related to me not being here. I am concerned about leaving my wife a widow, about my children not having a father. I am a real man with real thoughts and emotions. Yet, these thoughts and emotions do not consume me. Like David, I trust that God already has these things figured out. He is the One who numbers my days. He will care for my wife and children if I am no longer around. As much as I love and care for them, He loves and cares for them even more.

Having a relationship with God does not require “checking our brains at the door,” giving up our thoughts, or giving up our emotions; but it does require submitting our thoughts and emotions to God – giving them over to Him and trusting in His goodness rather than focusing on our circumstances.

Every day I am reminded of the cancer that has invaded my body. I have a tumor on my lower right leg. I still have some pain. I have to walk with a cane. My hair is falling out. I get fatigued. I have an incision in my chest where a vascular port was inserted. I have to visit my oncologist weekly. I have chemotherapy every three weeks. Yet, by God’s grace, I am not consumed by the cancer. It is not my daily focus. My wife and I often joke that “life is great, except for the cancer!” My days are filled with reminders of God’s grace. My days revolve around sharing with others the wonderful things that God is doing and the lessons that He is teaching me. As I have said before, cancer may take my body – outwardly I may be wasting away – but inwardly, I have life! Cancer cannot take away the life that God has given to me through Jesus Christ, His Son and my Savior.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Suffering is Not the Final Word!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This passage of scripture reminds us that this life is not all there is - there is something more! [No, the hokey pokey is NOT what it's all about!] For those who place their trust in Jesus Christ, there is hope - because all the pain and suffering that we experience here on earth is nothing - nothing - in comparison to what awaits us in the eternal kingdom with God. We can look past our present circumstances and fix our minds on what is to come!

This morning, I was able to attend church and worship with my local group of brothers and sisters in Christ. What a blessing to sing and pray and hear the Word of God with other believers.

Our pastor taught from Romans 8:17-30 and reminded us that suffering is not the final word. Eternity, he explained, catapults our momentary afflictions into nothingness. Compared to what God has waiting for us, our present sufferings are nothing. He also reminded us that our present circumstances, even though they may be a surprise to us, are no surprise to God. God's purposes for us cannot be thwarted - God will continue to do His good work in our lives.

I was reminded that, although the diagnosis of cancer was a huge disruption to my plans for the year, God was not surprised. He was not caught off-guard. He already had a plan - a plan to use this cancer for my good and His glory.

A friend shared with me after the service this morning a sound byte he picked up from listening to a sermon earlier in the morning:
Courage is fear taken to God in prayer. As I thought about those words, I thought about how David is often described in the Old Testament as being courageous, yet we find him time and time again in the Psalms crying out in fear to God. I guess David's life demonstrates the truth of this sound byte.

Another friend recently shared with me this quote from War of Words by Paul David Tripp:
"Every word we speak must meet two standards. First, all of our words should bring God the glory He deserves. And second, our words should bring redemptive good into the lives of the people God has placed around us. This is a high calling for all our words - worship and redemption.

It is a blessing to be a part of the body of Christ - to have brothers and sisters in Christ who care about you, encourage you, support you, lift you up in prayer, and exhort you when you take your eyes off of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a blessing to love others and to be loved by others. It is a blessing to love God and to be loved by Him.

I would never choose to have cancer. None of us ever would! I would much rather be grading physics tests than having my body be put through so many tests - CAT scans, bone scans, biopsies, heart scans, MRI's and x-rays. I would much rather spend five days at a cabin on a lake than five days in the hospital getting chemotherapy. But I would not trade the intimacy with God and His Word that this cancer has brought to me for anything in the world. God is teaching me every day - more than I could ever record on paper! The cancer may be destroying my body, but God is giving me life - abundant life - in Him!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I Will Declare His Name

I will declare Your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise You. Psalm 22:22.

Following David's example, I am compelled to give public testimony to what God is doing in the midst of this long trial, this battle with cancer. As I mentioned before, we expect the new year to be filled with hills and valleys, unexpected blesssings and new trials designed to train us in righteousness. In all, we are determined to trust Him and praise Him as the Sovereign God of Glory.

But today, today we praise Him and we rejoice because of good news. This is a "hill" day. The oncologist is pleased with my progress and said that my white blood cell count is good. So, for the next ten days I am able to get out - to visit friends, to see my children play basketball, and to attend church. I am looking forward to gathering with my brothers and sisters in Christ to worship our God together this Sunday.

My next round of chemotherapy, a four-to-five day in-patient stay, begins on Saturday, January 12th. Until then, I pray that I will use this time of relative good health to bring honor and glory to the God who created me, saved me, sustains me, and prepares me for an eternity with Him.

God demonstrates His love through [His] intimate, personal care of His children. - Joni Tada

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Challenge for 2008

It's a brand new year. 2007 has been a year filled with hills and valleys - unexpected trials and unexpected blessings all along the way. God has taught us so much about Himself, yet we have so much more to learn.

2008 brings a promise of many more hills and valleys, many more lessons - and a greater promise that God will be with us every step of the way.

I read that a nationally known pastor challenged his congregation (this is my paraphrase of his challenge) to cast off everything that is about ourselves and seek to live solely for the Lord Jesus Christ. What would our churches be like at this time next year if we sought to live less for ourselves and sought to live more for Him? If we spent a little less on ourselves and gave a little more to our local church and to others in need? If we were a little kinder to our neighbors? If we were more courageous about sharing the gospel? What would our communities be like? What would our world be like?