Sunday, June 29, 2008

Letting Go

After discussing the fact that our son was going to be leaving for West Point, my oncologist recommended that we read a book called Letting Go. I ordered a used copy and it is presently sitting on a shelf across the room from where I sit now. When I put it on the shelf, I laughed and told myself that I would not struggle with letting go.

It is the day before Reception Day. At 8:30 tomorrow morning, we will say goodbye to our son for the summer. And I am struggling with letting go.

I know, as best as we can know, that our son has made the right choice in going to West Point. I know that he is prepared - spiritually, emotionally, physically, academically. I know that he is ready to be tested. But I am struggling with letting go.

Most, if not all, dads have struggled with this same issue, I would guess.

I picture a mother bird pushing its young out of the nest. It is the only way that they will learn to fly. It's not that my son needs a push, but I need to push so that he can fly on his own. So that he can become the man that God has designed him to be.

I am holding back the tears now. Maybe its the lack of sleep. Our son decided to have one of his late-night discussions with us until the early morning hours. Maybe its the decreasing blood counts that follow chemotherapy. Maybe its the splitting headache I have. Or maybe its just the normal response of a dad who loves his son and is going to miss him.

I was kidding myself about letting go. Letting go is difficult. But letting go is necessary.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

One Thing

If I could do just this one thing . . .

One thing I have desired of the LORD, that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4.
David’s primary purpose is life, his one thing, was to live in God’s presence, according to His purpose.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things that are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:12-14. Paul’s one thing was to pursue Christ-likeness.

This is our daily pursuit, to do this one thing, to be more like the One who created and redeemed us. To recognize that we, as believers in Jesus Christ, have the Holy Spirit living in us, and that we have the ability to exhibit Christ-like thinking and behavior in every situation of life. To know that we live in Him and that He lives in us. To know that we are His and not our own. To know and live according to His purpose.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Only a Few More Days

Only a few more days with our eighteen-year-old son before he leaves for West Point. Only a few more days of late night talks in our bedroom. Only a few more days of telling him not to play so roughly with his younger brother. Only a few more days of banter between him and his sister. Only a few more days to be with the young man that we met a little over eighteen years ago via ultrasound technology.

The years have passed quickly. Learning to walk and talk. Learning to ride a bicycle. The first day of school. Soccer leagues. Little League baseball. Fishing. Playing in the stream. Canoeing at the lake. Family vacations. Maine. Thousand Islands, New York. High school soccer. Basketball. Playing games.

Great memories. A strong foundation in the Lord. A foundation that is ready to be built upon. As we observe. Pray. And perhaps, occasionally, have an opportunity to instruct and encourage. But his life is his to build. Not his, but the Lord’s. He is the steward. God is the architect. He is the builder. How faithfully will he follow the blueprints?

My wife and I are entering a new phase of parenthood with our oldest child. We have new lessons to learn. We thank God for the opportunity. We thank God for a son who has brought us great joy and blessings.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Soaking up Joel

It is a rainy morning. Just the kind of morning that plants need to sustain their growth. As plants need water, we need to be soaked daily in the Word of God. To remind us of who He is and who we are in Him.

This morning, I read from the Old Testament book of Joel.

Joel was a prophet of God from about 835 to 796 B.C. Like many other prophets, he was called to warn the people of Judah of God's impending judgment because of their sins, and to encourage the people to turn back to God.

The people had become both wealthy and complacent. Instead of recognizing God's hand of blessing, they took Him for granted and became self-centered and idolatrous. Joel warned the people that God would judge this kind of living.

The key verses in Joel's prophetic book are found in the second chapter, verses 12-13:

"Now, therefore," says the LORD, "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God. for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.

In the midst of judgment, God offers an opportunity for repentance through the prophet Joel.

In these verses, Joel refers to Old Testament practice of tearing one’s clothes in a moment of grief. It was an outward sign of an inner heart response. [Circumcision and New Testament believer's baptism function in a similar way.]

The point of these two verses is that while God offers an opportunity for repentance, He desires more than a change in behavior; He wants repentance that results from a heart that returns to Him.

God wants to change our hearts, and then change the way we live. He invites us, we who have turned our hearts away from Him and gone our own way, to return to Him, a merciful God, with all our hearts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Re-Cap of My Week

Here is a brief re-cap of my week . . .

I checked into my room at the Lehigh Valley Hospital on Wednesday to begin my five-day chemotherapy treatment.

On Thursday, I woke up and read Psalm 131. In this psalm, David expresses his humility before the LORD and his contentment as he trusts the LORD to meet his needs. He also exhorts the nation of Israel to hope in the LORD. As we give testimony to the LORD in our words, atttiudes, and actions, we should encourage others to put their hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to eternal life. The anchor for our soul.

Other than talking to my wife and interacting with the nurses, much of my day was spent watching the roller coasters at Dorney Park (out my window), watching traffic on I-78, and reading a biography of Benjamin Rush. I was given two units of blood to increase my hemoglobin level.

On Friday, I read Psalm 146. The psalmist, in the first two verses, makes a commitment to praise the LORD while he lives, while he has his being. In Him we live and move and have our being. He exhorts others to place their trust in God, the Creator and Redeemer, the One who righteously and mercifully reaches out to those in need (verses 6-7).

I wrote a letter to my older son for my wife to take to him. She went home for the weekend. I received two more units of blood. I spent some more time reading about Benjamin Rush and watched cooking shows on the Food Network.

On Saturday, I read Psalm 150. The psalmist calls upon us to praise God on earth and in heaven with singing, dancing, and instruments. All of God's living creation should praise Him. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!

Sunday. The last day. The nurses bumped up my chemotherapy schedule and had me finished by 11:00 am. By the time my wife and two sons arrived, I was showered, dressed, and ready to go!

That afternoon, we drove over to Lancaster and ate lunch at The Olive Garden. Seafood fettucine. What a treat. Then we checked into The Mill Stream Inn. We spent the afternoon at the pool.

On Monday, my wife and I picked up our daughter and niece at the train station in Thorndale, about 35 minutes away. They arrived home from my other niece's wedding in South Carolina the night before. We went our to lunch, spent the afternoon at the pool, then took my niece back to the train station. That night, we took the two older children to play miniature golf, while the rest of us observed the ducks and coy at a nearby pond. We capped off the night with ice cream (dessert first) and a visit to Sonic Drive-In. The chili dog was not such a good idea!

On Tuesday, we woke up, had breakfast, and our children went to the pool while my wife packed. We stopped at the bakery in Bird-in-Hand, a general store, and a few stores at the outlet mall. We dropped off our two older children at another outlet mall while we went to my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon.

We got the results of the pathology report on my tibia. Ninety percent of the tumor was killed by chemotherapy before being removed and the margins were all clear. This is GREAT news! There is not much healing going on in the grafts, but the surgeon was not too concerned at this point. He told me that I can increase my load-bearing on my right leg to sixty pounds, continue with physical therapy, and see him in twelve weeks.

After the appointment, we picked up our two older children, stopped by a market for some apple cider, sweet corn, and cherries. Then we headed off the an early dinner at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. It was seafood night! By 9:30, we were back at home.

When we arrived at home, I got to see new tile in our kitchen. A friend took a few days off work and tiled our kitchen for us while I was in the hospital. I was overwhelmed by both the beauty of the floor and the kindness of our friend.

We continue to be overwhelmed by the kindness of many such friends who pray for us, encourage us, and make sacrifices to perform such acts of kindness. We are truly blessed, and pray that we might be an encouragement to others as they face difficult circumstances.

We know that we are in God's hands. To Him be the glory and honor and praise forever!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Just a Note Before I Go

It has been a great twelve days. I have felt great since June 6, our 21st wedding anniversary and our son’s graduation from high school. By God’s grace and the prayers of many brothers and sisters in Christ, I have been strong enough to speak at graduation, enjoy several graduation parties, attend church two weeks in a row, speak at the morning and evening services on Father’s Day, and enjoy many nice days at home with my family.

The mouth sores never came this time around. Maybe it was the baking soda rinses. Maybe it was the lysine tablets. Maybe it was the avoidance of spicy and acidic foods for the first ten days after chemotherapy – except for Chinese food one day! Maybe it was a combination of all of these. But certainly prayer was an essential factor. And ultimately, it was God’s grace and mercy poured out upon me.

According to my blood count numbers, I should not have felt as good as I did. God’s strength was evident in my weakness. In Him I live and move and have my being. From Acts 17:28.

Tomorrow it begins again. A new cycle. We meet with the oncologist at 9:30 tomorrow morning; then I check into Lehigh Valley Hospital for Round 8 of chemotherapy. Five days.

Our daughter will be traveling with us. My wife will take her on Wednesday evening to meet our niece at the train station. From there, our daughter and niece will take the train back to our niece’s apartment in Philadelphia. On Thursday, they will be driving down to Columbia, South Carolina for our other niece’s wedding. On Friday morning, my wife will drive home for the weekend. She will return to Allentown on Sunday with our two sons to pick me up. On Sunday evening, we will drive to Lancaster and spend two nights there, as I have an appointment with the orthopedic oncologist on Tuesday afternoon. Our daughter and niece will drive back to Philadelphia on Sunday, and meet my wife at the train station near Lancaster on Monday morning. On Tuesday afternoon, following my appointment, we will return home.

For the next week I will no have access to the Internet and will not be able to post to this blog. I look forward to sharing next week the things that I learn over the next seven days.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Mind of Christ

We were looking for heroes - He came looking for the lost. We were searching for glory and He showed us a cross. - Rich Mullins

One of my favorite hymns is May the Mind of Christ, My Savior. Its six stanzas describe six important aspects of our life in Christ. The first is the mind of Christ. Kate B. Wilkinson wrote,

May the mind of Christ, my Savior, live in me from day to day, by His love and pw'r controlling all I do and say.

What does it mean to have the mind of Christ?

Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5,

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

And then he goes on to decsribe Christ's humility and servanthood.

Having the mind of Christ has something to do with being humble and being a servant. Being willing to put others first. Giving up our own rights. Making sacrifices for others. Denying ourselves and making sure that the needs of others are met.

As we grow in Christ-likeness, as we mature in the faith, the Holy Spirit continues to reveal the mind of Christ to us. Our personalities and characters becoming increasingly Christ-like as we read and meditate on God's Word and yield ourselves to the guiding of the Spirit. Our minds become increasingly Christ-like as we nourish our minds with things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).

Having the mind of Christ, according the songwriter, His love and power will control all I do and say. Not only will I have the mind of Christ, but my words and actions will be Christ-like as well.

Today, you might take time to sing the words of this hymn, if you know the melody. If not, meditate on the words. Make these words a prayer. Ask God to help you to have the mind of Christ in every situation you encounter today.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

A wise son makes a father glad. Proverbs 10:1

God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and three beautiful children. They all bring me great joy. I have much to be thankful for today.

This morning I had the opportunity to share with our congregation what I have been learning about the glory of God the Father. I am increasingly awed by the fact that the God who created and sustained this vast universe loves and cares about me. That, in the words of Brad Stine, I matter to the One who created all matter.

I shared what I have learned from great passages such as Psalm 33:6-22, Isaiah 6:1-8, Isaiah 40:27-31, and Romans 11:33-36. Take some time to read and reflect on these passages. They will renew your vision of the glory of God.

Today is Father’s Day. As we are honored by our children today, it is appropriate that we honor and glorify our perfect Heavenly Father. All praise and honor and glory to Him!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More About Perseverance Through Trials

When difficulties arise, our tendency is to do everything that we can to get out of those situations. In many cases, though, God’s plan is for us to persevere through the trial so that His strength can be magnified in our weakness and so that we can grow in Christ-likeness. Our ability to persevere through trials is depends on our having a clear understanding of our identity in Christ and the resources that we have in Him. And often, we need to take time to be reminded of who we are in Christ and what we have in Him.

Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17

In the first few chapters of Ephesians, Paul describes our identity in Christ:

In Christ, we are chosen by God 1:4). We belong to Him. See also 1 Peter 2:9.

In Christ, we are adopted into God’s family (1:5). We are children of the Sovereign God of the universe.

In Christ, we are redeemed and our sins are forgiven (1:7). We are now free from sin and its penalty of death; we are free to live for Him.

In Christ, we are made alive (2:1). We have new life in Him.

In Christ, we are works of art, created to do good works (2:10).

In Colossians, Paul adds:

In Christ, we are complete (2:9-10).

This is just a small sampling of what the Bible says about our identity in Christ. These statements describe all who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The Bible also describes the resources we have in Christ.

We have, for example:

Peace with God (Romans 5:1).

The mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

The presence and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; Galatians 5:22-23).

The power of Christ’s resurrection (Philippians 3:10).

The privilege of bringing our prayers to God (Hebrews 10:19-20).

In his 2nd letter, Peter tell us that,

In Christ, we have all things that pertain to life and godliness (1:3).

Knowing who we are in Christ and the resources available to us enables us to stand strong (in the strength of the Lord) in all trials. To recognize God’s working through the trials. To have the confidence that God is using the trial for our good and His glory.

To be honest, I am more than ready to be healed from this cancer. I am more than ready to end chemotherapy and to be rid of the side effects. I am more than ready to have this port removed from my chest. I am more than ready to be rid of these crutches and to walk on my own. I am more than ready to get back to the ministry that I love.

But I am willing to persevere through all of this as long as God wills. Because I know that He is sovereign. I know that in Christ I have eternal life and everything I need right now to live for Him. I know that God is using this cancer to magnify His greatness through my weakness. In know that God is using this to purify my heart and mind. I know that God is using this trial to draw others close to Himself.

Note. I know that I often repeat myself in these blogs. There are familiar themes that come up time and time again. Some of the repetitiveness is intentional. Some can be blamed on my age, the effects of chemotherapy, or both. I appreciate all of you who take time to read this blog and pray that you will be encouraged by what God is doing in my life and what He is teaching me. May God be glorified.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Choices. Every day we make choices. Some large. Most small. All of our choices both reflect and help determine our character.

My choices are based on my worldview. My view of the world is the foundation that determines how I think and act in all situations. As a Christian, my worldview is based on faith in God and His truth (found in the Bible). My worldview determines how I view all of my life.

My worldview is the foundation from which I draw my values. What is important to me. As a Christian, I value what God values.

The choices I make each day are based on what I value. My choices reflect my values.

In sum, my worldview - what I believe - shapes my values. My values determine the choices I make. Or, what I value determines what I do. The choices I make determine my character.

A good example of this process is found in Hebrews 11:23-27. Moses’ faith in God was the foundation for his worldview. Because of his faith, he valued the things of God more than he valued the things of this world. His values caused him to choose to suffer with his fellow Israelites rather than choose a life of luxury in the palace. Because of his choices, Moses was found to be a man of good character, a man who could be used by God.

In his speech at graduation, my son talked about choices. He quoted Albert Camus, who said that life is the sum of all our choices. He exhorted his classmates, and we should be exhorted today as well, to choose wisely.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Make a Difference Day

Today is Make a Difference Day. For the Christian, every day is Make a Difference Day, according to Dr. David Jeremiah.

Today, I can choose to make a difference in the lives of the people I encounter. Family. Friends. Co-workers. Total strangers.

A hug. A smile. A prayer. A kind word of encouragement. A listening ear. A shoulder to cry on.

I can see a need and meet it. I can write a letter or an e-mail. I can make a phone call. I can drop by for a visit. I can invite someone to lunch.

There are countless ways that I can make a difference today. It takes a little bit of effort. Maybe a little creativity. But I can make a difference.

I think about the countless ways that people have made a difference in our lives since I was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma. Prayers. Phone calls. Letters and cards. Gifts. Words of encouragement. Offers to drive me to appointments. Offers to care for our children. Offers to help us with home maintenance and improvement. Simple things. Big things that require much personal sacrifice. All have made a difference in my life.

I have learned through all of this generosity of others that you cannot outgive God. God's resources are limitless. Being on the receiving end is a blessing and a humbling experience. But giving is an even greater blessing. The more we give, the more we are blessed. Sometimes we try to hold on to what we have, when God's desire is for us to give it away freely.

We are called to be good stewards of what God has given us. The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 teaches us that being faithful to God includes using the opportunities that He has given us. Using the resources He has provided. To be faithful is to be fruitful. We must not cling to what God has given to us, thinking of it as our own. God owns everything. We must recognize that we are God's appointed stewards and that we are to use what has been given to us for His glory and the benefit of others.

Today is Make a Difference Day. Let's make a difference in the lives of others.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gardening Lessons

Yesterday I helped my wife to pot four small patio blueberry bushes that we ordered in the mail. That is the closest that I have been able to come to gardening work this year.

Gardening is a great hobby. It is time consuming, but very rewarding.

Gardening is much more than digging a small hole, throwing in a few seeds, and waiting for them to grow. Although my four-year-old son’s concept is pretty close to that.

The soil must be prepared. Weeds pulled and rocks removed. In some cases, pH checked and fertilizers added. Once the seeds are sown, they must be diligently watered so that they are able to germinate. The young plants must be nurtured to maturity. Weeds that choke out the young plants must continually be removed. The soil must be kept moist. The plants must be checked for disease and insects. The young plants must be given an environment in which they will survive and thrive by bearing much fruit. Or vegetables.

The harvest is a direct result of the hard work that is put in at the beginning and throughout the growth process. You reap what you sow. There is something special about harvesting a crop that you have sown and nurtured with your own two hands. The vegetables seem to taste better. The fruits are sweeter.

I think that part of the thrill of gardening is that it is a tiny taste of the thrill of creation.

Being created in the image of God, I believe that we enjoy creating things. While we do not have God’s ability to breathe things into existence, to create things ex nihilo, out of nothing, we do have the ability to take what exists and make it into something new.

In gardening, we simply help the process along as a seed becomes a mature, fruit-bearing plant. But in writing, we take words and create novels. In music, we take notes and create symphonies. In art, we take pigments and create beautiful paintings.

The creative process can be, if we allow it to be, a response to our encounter with God. It can be, therefore, an act of worship.

As I plant a flower, write a poem or a song, build a birdhouse, or carve a bird from a piece of basswood, I can be reminded of the God who created all things. And I can praise Him for His mighty works. And I can thank Him for including me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

This Day

As of yesterday, it is officially summer in our household. That means less driving to and fro for school activities. More time at home. A different routine. While sleeping a few hours later may be on the agenda for some in the family, others still find themselves waking up at 4:45 and enjoying the stillness of the morning.

This morning we (my wife and I) awoke to see a large deer in our backyard. That explains the leaves we noticed missing on the large hostas we just planted. Hummingbirds and songbirds feed at the two small feeders hanging near the lilac bush outside our front window.

As the birds sing to awaken the dawn, my wife and I enjoy quiet time with the Lord, reading His Word and conversing with Him in prayer, and enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Which manages to be refreshing even on a hot summer morning.

This morning, I read various verses with the word day. In Genesis 1:5, God called the light day. The very first day. In Psalm 118:24, we read that this is the day that the Lord has made. So what shall we do? Rejoice and be glad in it! This day, like all others, is a day to rejoice. There may be difficulties and sorrows this day, but overall, it is a day to rejoice. Because God has give us another day. In Proverbs 27:1, we are warned not to boast about our plans for tomorrow, because we do not even know what this day will bring forth. James 4:13-16 speaks to the same issue. What we do know is that God is sovereign over the events of this day and it is this day that demands our focus and attention. In Matthew 6:11, Jesus teaches us to pray this day for our daily bread, our daily provision. God will give us everything that we need to live for Him. Today.

Perhaps my favorite verses that describe the day, although the word morning is used, are Lamentations 3:22-24: Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!” God’s mercies are new every morning. Every day. God is faithful every day. God keeps His promises every day. Because of Him, every day I can have hope.

At the end of each day, I can rejoice in the victories that were won, the lessons learned, the growth that occurred, the blessings that were had. I can confess and repent of the failures, the shortcomings, the sins that were committed against God. And I can let them go. I must let them go. So that I can experience the dawning of the new day. The mercies of God that are new each morning. The joy that each new day brings.

Today is a new day. The birds opened up in song. I opened up in prayer and praise to the God who created all and is sovereign over all. It is His day. A day that He has given to me. For my enjoyment. For my refinement. For His glory.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Growth Opportunity

The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them. – Bernard M. Baruch

Cancer is a growth opportunity. No pun intended. Like any chronic disease or other ongoing trial, it provides numerous opportunities to both test and strengthen our Christian character, to test and increase the purity of our hearts and minds, to help us to continue to renew our thinking and to transform our lives into the pattern that God intended - the pattern modeled by Jesus Himself.

God blessed me with a wonderful weekend. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I had many opportunities to praise Him for His goodness and His provision. But on Sunday evening, the old sin nature in me made itself known and I started doubting God's goodness. I started to forget His provision. I started to become impatient with the progress of my recovery. Thankfully, as in the past, this wrong thinking lasted only a short while before I repented and re-focused my thinking. By God's grace and the presence of His Spirit, I was able to get back on track and accept my present position in life.

Cancer is difficult. Life is difficult, much of the time. But there is always joy in the Lord. As C.S. Lewis wrote, joy is the serious business of heaven.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Reflections

We just got home from our morning worship service. It is always a joy to gather with fellow believers to sing songs of praise and worship, to unite our hearts in prayer, and to listen to the teaching from God's Word.

This morning, our pastor continued his series from Romans 12 on How to Think Like a Christian. Keeping in mind the mercies of God, he exhorted us to renew our thinking (or to allow our thinking to be renewed by the Holy Spirit) and to live transformed lives. With this as a template, he exhorted us to love others sincerely, hate what is wrong, and to love what is right; to give our all in everything we do as an act of worship; to keep our focus on God in trials, to focus on the joy of knowing Christ and by praying continuously; to demonstrate love to our brothers and sisters in Christ by helping to meet their real physical needs; to do what is right toward others even when we are wronged; to offer emotional support to those who are hurting; to remember that there are no class distinctions in the family of God; to be a peacemaker and to give up the need for personal vindication.

Passages of scripture such as this are particularly convicting as they are written as direct applications of the doctrines that have been previously taught.

I continue to thank God today for the strength that He has given me in spite of my low blood counts. I continue to thank Him for blessing us with such a wonderful son, as well as another daughter and son that bring us much joy. I continue to thank Him for blessing me with a wonderful wife and best friend.

I am thankful for the many opportunities I had yesterday to praise God for His abundant blessings on our family. To testify of His love, His grace, and His abundant provision for us.

God is great. God is good. To Him be all the glory.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Oh, What A Night! or How Great Is Our God!

Wow! What a night. Our son's graduation ceremony was a great event.

Our son did a nice job presenting his valedictory speech. I was blessed to be able to share a commencement address. I may be our academy's first commencement speaker to wear Converse tennis shoes and to sit down while speaking. It was like sitting in front of the class in the classroom, sharing my heart with them. A representative from West Point presented James with his official appointment to the Academy. We watched seven fine young men and women pass a major milestone in their lives.

What is most incredible to me is how great I felt. With such low blood counts, I should not have felt as well I did. I had great energy as I walked down the aisle with my colleagues and as I presented the commencement address. The whole night was a testimony to God's great strength in the midst of our weakness.

It was also a testimony to the power of prayer. We had many phone calls and e-mails yesterday with friends telling us that they were praying specifically for my strength and that I would not have mouth sores. And God honored those prayers. At the beginning of the week, we were discussing with the oncologist the possibility of having a transfusion. Yesterday, I was relatively strong. And the mouth sores that, based on past experience, should have arrived on Thursday, never came. Thank the Lord.

Today is a new day. I still feel relatively strong. Today we celebrate with a party. It will be a busy day. It will be a fun day. It will be another day to share how great is our God and how generous is His grace.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Momentous Day

Today is the day our oldest child graduates from high school. We have loved and nurtured him, trained and disciplined, and tried our best to help shape him into the young man that God has created him to be. Now is the time for letting go. We will never stop being his parents, but our most significant work with him has been completed. The decisions that he makes from this point forward will primarily be his own.

He is ready to leave. And, in many ways, we are ready to let him go. Sure, there will be tears as we leave him at West Point at the end of this month. Some tears of sadness at seeing him go. But mostly tears of joy as he begins what we believe God has been preparing him to do for the past eighteen years.

Today is also our 21st wedding anniversary. We are celebrating 21 years of for richer, for poorer. 21 years of in sickness and in health. My wife has certainly kept her vows in these areas. In many ways, this past year has been our best year of marriage. In many ways, it has been our most difficult.

Since my diagnosis in December, my wife has taken on the added stress of being a caregiver to a sick husband, in addition to being a marriage partner and mother to three children. I may have the cancer, but she bears the burden of caring for me when I cannot care for myself. The burden of sorting through the medical bills and insurance forms, communicating with the doctors and insurance companies. The burden of driving me (four hours, round trip) to the hospital for treatments, checkups, and injections once or twice a week. And now, physical therapy two or three times a week.

My wife, through it all, has been my greatest encourager. In the seldom moments that I lose my focus, she reminds me that I cannot give up and helps me re-focus my attention on our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Other than my new life in Christ, my wife is the greatest gift that God has ever given me. I do not deserve to have such a great friend and partner in life. But I sure do appreciate her.

June 6, 2008 is a momentous day in our home. A graduation. An anniversary. A celebration of the end of one leg of a journey and the beginning of another. A celebration of a marriage that has been sustained by God's grace and will continue to deepen and grow by His grace.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Being All There

Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God. Jim Eliot

Though I have many faults, the one that my wife would probably put at the top of the list is that I’m not always there. I know that sounds kind of existential, but basically, it means that I do not always give myself fully to the present circumstances; often, I am too busy thinking about and planning what is coming next. I miss the joy of the present by not being all there. And the people I love - my friends, my family, and my Savior - do not always get my full attention.

Chemotherapy does not help. In the days following treatment, “chemo brain” sets in and it is even more difficult to focus on being a part of what is going on around me.

Of course, God’s Word has something to say about all this. In James 4:11-16, we read about the foolishness of forgetting God in all the busy-ness of life and our need for total dependence upon the will of God.

God has given me the present to live for Him, and to live it to the fullest. Will I stop setting goals and making plans? Probably not, but I will try to keep them more in perspective. By being all there in every situation, perhaps I will have more opportunities to share Christ with others, to meet more needs, to know Christ more, and to have more joy.

What about you? How well are you doing at living for Christ completely in the present? Does your paperwork take precedence over personal interaction? Is the laundry more important than laughing with your children? Is Fox News a more important part of your morning routine than the Word of God?

Let’s pray for one another and encourage one another to live to the hilt every situation for Christ.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Sometimes, people encourage me not to give up hope. Do I need the encouragement? Of course I do! Have I given up hope. No!

I have not given up hope. My hope is securely anchored in Jesus Christ.

There are moments of, course, when I stumble and put my focus on the circumstances instead of the God who reigns over all circumstances but, thankfully, those moments are seldom and last only a few minutes. God, through His Word and His Spirit, lifts my eyes back up and helps me re-gain the proper focus.

I complain about having cancer. I complain about the effects of chemotherapy. I get frustrated that I cannot do more than I am able to do. But, like I said, these moments occur only once in a while (maybe one day out of fifteen) and last only a few moments (a few minutes).

I try to blog those moments, because I think that others need to see my weakness and His great strength in all this. I am weak. He is strong.

Like I have said, we have made a decision to please God. We trust in Him. In Him we have our hope.

We have no reason to complain when we are children of the King of kings.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tired, Yet Filled with Joy

Our home is abuzz with activity. It is graduation week. Family is in from out of town. More family is expected. Cleaning projects are happening. Fun is being had. But I am on the edge of it all.

I am so tired. The kind of tired where it is difficult to walk from one side of the room to the other without getting winded. The kind of tired that makes you wonder how you ever managed to take simple things like bending a knee or extending a toe for granted.

But I have. I used to never think about the simple tasks that are a chore for me right now. Now I do think about them. And I am more thankful for the simple things that the body can do. I am more amazed by God's creative ability.

Yet being on the edge of all the hustle and bustle of this week is a challenge. Wanting to be a greater part of what is going on - preparing for the party, entertaining our guests, helping out with chores and errands - gnaws at me, yet I am mostly helpless. I cannot do much for myself this week. I certainly can't do much for others.

Except visit. And encourage. And pray. Maybe that's enough. Yet the desire to do something is overwhelming.

I am trying to focus on the joy of this week - the joy of celebrating our son's graduation from high school with family and friends. Nothing can take away the joy of seeing a son complete the first major leg of his journey, fully prepared (we hope) for the next. I am tired, yes. But my heart is overwhelmed with joy.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Matter of Perspective

Cancer can be a real bummer. If you let it. So can losing a job. Having a financial burden. Being hurt by a close friend. [Add your current situation here.] But we don’t have to let these things get the best of us.

Peter reminded us, for example, that God has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Unless I am missing something, that means that followers of Jesus Christ already have everything we need to live lives that are pleasing to God – and that includes getting through tough days without letting all the bad get the best of us.

It’s a matter of perspective – and I don’t write anything new here. It’s a matter of focusing on the God who is above all things instead of the things that weigh us down and distract us.

We read in the Bible about God’s transcendence and his immanence. He is both far above His creation and, at the same time, intimately involved in His creation. The more we know about God, the more we should praise Him.

This morning I read Psalm 117 . . .

Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!
For His merciful kindness is great toward us,
And the truth of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD!

Not only is Psalm 117 the shortest chapter in the Bible, it is also the middle chapter. It is pivotal not only in its position but in its significance. It praises God for His kindness toward all men in His plan for redemption and it praises God for His enduring truth. God will bring to pass all that He has promised.

He promised a Savior to redeem sinful man from his bondage to sin and release him from his sentence of eternal death. This was accomplished when He sent His only Son into the world to live a perfect life and die a horrible death in our place. Because Christ is now risen from the dead, sin and death have been defeated, and we can enter into this promise through faith in Jesus Christ.

Praise the LORD!

May Jesus Christ be praised!