Monday, September 29, 2008

Tuesday's Entry

It is Tuesday. It is getting more difficult to blog every day.

Sunday we had the opportunity to go visit our son at West Point, and see a Sprint Football game. It was a blessing to see him from the sidelines as a glorified ball boy, and to meet his friend, Kyle. Kyle is a Rabble-Rouser aka cheerleader. I did not last the whole game, my wife had to take me to the car to sleep. When I woke up the game was over. We drove over to Trophy Point to have a picnic. By the time we got there, I was drowsy and difficult to rouse. It was the first time that my son had seen me fall so far. We left in time for my son to be back in formation.

The ride home was interesting, as I slipped in and out of coherence. My family was amazed at how much I would bounce back just in time to give them important directions for the drive home. On the way home, I kept dropping things, and by the time we arrived at our house, I could not make it into our house. Our neighbors helped me into the house. Later, my wife could not get me into our sofa bed on the first floor, and called a friend, who works as a nurse, to help get me into the bed. Just as they were doing that, I popped awake, and said to my friend, "What are you doing here?" He exclaimed, "You weren't expecting that were you!"

Monday, I woke up to my daughter sitting in the chair, telling me that she had not gone to school yet. My wife later explained that she did not want to leave me alone. After my children left for school, I woke up and told my wife that I felt much better, and told her that I wanted to get into my chair.

The next thing I remember is my wife telling me that my pastor and his wife were coming, and that hospice was on the way to set things up.

While waiting for hospice to arrive, I received phone calls from some of my closest friends. I had an opportunity to tell them how much I love them and how much they mean to me.

Hospice set up a bed in our bedroom, and had me fill out the necessary paperwork, so that they are now in charge of my pain management.

After being exhausted from the hospice admission, I slept while my wife visited with our pastor and his wife.

I woke up to visit with them shortly before another friend brought our two children home from school. I was coherent enough to interact with our two children as they told us about their school days. I was grateful for that time with them. Our daughter informed us that the basketball coaches asked her to be captain of our school JV basketball team. Of course, we were excited that she was chosen to be honored this way.

Monday evening, our friends the Tuttles, visited. We had a nice visit with them. At this point, I can never be sure that a visit is not our last.

After the Tuttles left, we waited for other friends, the Woodalls, to arrive. After getting lost in West Clifford (for a long enough period of time to decide that it would make a good place to plant a church) the Woodalls arrived here at about 11:30.

Most of the group stayed up until about 3:30 am talking. I fell asleep long before that.

This morning, Jamie and I enjoyed some great discussions about the eulogy [I asked him to prepare a eulogy that would lead people in a celebration of who God is and what he has done in my life), about ministry, and about life in general. We laughed a lot. We cried some.

We spent some time reflecting on Psalm 30:1, trying to come up with modern ways to express David's thoughts to God: "I will extol you, O LORD, for You have lifted me up." in contemporary terms. Due to various circumstance, our conversation was cut short. Jamie later came up with the phrase, "I will lift You up High, God, way up High, because You have have lifted me up.. I like that thought. That because God lifts us out of difficult circumstances, we are in a position to lift Him up before others as a God who cares, as a God who protects, as a God who delivers us.
When we are down He lifts us up.

I took my first two doses of morphine last night and today. I resisted, but it is suppose to help me. The first doses did nothing to relieve my pain. I took another pill to help reduce the twitching in my hands, but it has not been very effective either. My hands still shake as I type and I have difficulty grasping things with my hands.

We are looking forward to visits in the next few days from my parents and brothers. My sister Ann will be visiting next week.

I am looking forward to eternity, but concerned about the care of my family when I am gone. I do know that they will by okay, but it is still difficult to give up my concern.

My posts are becoming shallower in their content. The spelling errors and typos are bound to increase. But I plan to continue as long as I am able.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Preparations for Eternity

It's Saturday afternoon. Our son is watching The Chronicles of Narnia on video. My wife is in the midst of putting away groceries and preparing dinner.

This morning, my wife helped me enter comments about my students into the computer regarding their first quarter performance. It took us almost two and a half hours because I kept dozing off.

My wife urged me to take a nap while she ventured out to the grocery store to pick up a few things.

My nap was interrupted by a phone call and then a knock at the door. I was thankful for the phone call, otherwise I would not have heard the knock at the door. It was the Houghtlings, dropping by to see me and bring a freshly baked peach kugen. Kugen is German for cake.

The phone rang several times while the Houghtlings were here. First my sister, then my parents, then my wife - to tell me she was on her way home.

By the time my wife arrived home, the Houghtlings had departed and I was talking to my mom on the telephone. I told her that she and dad should plan to visit soon.

I had a good cry with my wife and she asked if I still desired to have company for dinner. I assured her that I did and that I thought that we should talk to our son. Before talking to our son, my brother from Colorado called to talk to my wife about visiting. She encouraged him to visit sooner rather than later.

As I talked to my brother I had a hard time keeping my emotions in check.

Right after I talked to my brother, my wife and I had a conversation with our younger son.

As we sat together, our son crawled up on my lap, hugged me, and kissed my bald head. We asked him to tell us what it means to him to believe in Jesus and what it means to die. We told him that Daddy is going to die soon (unless God intervenes) and go be with Jesus.

I told him that it would be sad. He said that he would not be sad. "I will be so happy because you will be with Jesus." My wife explained that those who are left will be sad because they will have to wait a long time to see me.

We really have no idea about how much he comprehended. But we will try to explain it more to him in the days to come.

All in all, it was a great day.

We are planning for a funeral and praying for a miracle. Either way, we are preparing for eternity.

Our God is an awesome God. He reigns from heaven above . . .

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wading in The Toddler Pool. With Hiccups

Our friends left this morning. And I think they took some of my grey matter with them. For some reason, I am having difficulty making sense this evening. It may be connected to the drowsiness I feel, or it may be nothing. And hiccups. I have been battling this menace all day. I have been holding my breath, chugging water, and - nothing seems to work. So the battle rages on.

The WP son called. Four of his five grades have been posted. One A and three Bs. Unacceptable for high school. More than acceptable for the first five weeks of WP. Our son is happy with this start, but not content to leave his grades there.

My wife is quizzing our daughter to help her prepare for a history test. I enjoy listening to them work together. Hearing them interact.

Small son is playing with K'nex on the floor. He has built some creative vehicles. He is now able to look at a diagram and build what is being pictured.

This post, I know, is quite shallow. I am shallow this evening. Not into deep thinking. I am wading in the toddler pool this evening.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No More Chasing Rabbits. For His Glory

Yesterday afternoon we enjoyed the 1st Annual Fall Classic golf outing in our backward. Robin shows her form as she greets the ball. "Hello, ball." Bobby and our son rest between holes.

My wife and I enjoy a quiet moment together in the spectators' gallery. My wife poses with Robin at the end of the tournament.

This morning, my wife and Robin went to visit with our pastor's wife. Bobby and I enjoyed breakfast at the Trackside Grill in Honesdale with our pastor.

This evening, we are going to enjoy Chinese takeout.

I just had a great e-mail from our son at West Point. He is having a great day and is doing well on his WPRs. Written Proficiency Exams.

Bobby and Robin are leaving in the morning. It has been such a blessing to spend time with friends I have not seen in five years. Friends who prayed for and encouraged us in the two or three years leading up to our salvation.

For me, this is how I want to spend the rest of my life - hanging out with friends who have been such an important part of our lives. Sharing the goodness of God and the grace available through the Lord Jesus Christ. Spending time with my students. And sharing the life lessons I have learned with my wife and children.

The rest of my life is going to be spent doing what I consider to be meaningful in the eyes of the Lord, not chasing rabbits. I am not giving up hope, but I am confident that I have done (and am doing) everything that I need to do medically and nutritionally to fight this cancer. It is in the Lord's hands. One day at a time, I plan to live life to its fullest. For a week. For a month. For a year. Or for ten years. For His glory.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Morning Tales

Late night talks with friends is near the top of our "favorite things to do" list. Only now I tend to doze off in the middle of a conversation. [I have already dozed off several times this morning while starting this blog entry.] I wake up to hear my wife and our friends laughing at me. Is that kind?

My wife and our friend Robin just left to take our daughter to school. Our son is still sleeping upstairs. I am staying home today and tomorrrow to spend time with our friends.

Our son just woke up. [I am writing sporadically.] After snuggling with me for a few minutes, he asked our friend Bobby to get him some juice and a piece of jelly toast. They are now having a conversation in the kitchen.

When the ladies arrive back home, we will enjoy some breakfast casserole. And more coffee.

I am listening to the conversation coming from the kitchen. As an incentive to get our son to eat his toast, Bobby offered to eat a piece of candy corn (made with high-fructose corn syrup) for every bite of toast he eats. It is great to have friends willing to make such sacrifices for our children.

I talked to our older son last night. He made the reserve team for Sprint Football. If I remember correctly that means that he does not travel with the team to away games, but practices with the team (occasionally?), and he has a shot at making the regular team next season.

Bobby and our son are playing with a fire truck on the floor of the living room.

This day is starting out to be a great stay-at-home day.

I need to stop writing and be a part of it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pot Roast, If You Must Know.

It is a beautiful, sunny day. A bit cool.

It is Monday afternoon and I am drowsy. I slept most of the way home and will probably nod off again before dinner.

Pot roast, if you must know.

Friends from Georgia are on their way to see us. I am very excited. I have not seen them for about five years.

I am taking two days off from school to spend time with them.

Since sharing our latest news about the cancer, we have been inundated by phone calls and e-mails. The love of Christ abounds. We are overwhelmed by the kindness and concern demonstrated by our friends and family. We should not be surprised.

I am blessed by the lovingkindness shown by both former and present students. Seventh grade boys, who tend to be the most self-centered people among us, stop by my desk after class and ask me how I am feeling. Second graders tell me they are praying for me every day. Recent alumni e-mail to tell me how encouraged they are about how God is working in my life.

Our son e-mailed to tell us that his chemistry exam went well and that he has a meeting about Sprint Football later today. We are as anxious as he is to hear whether he made the final cut.

The folks at West Point have gone above and beyond to show kindness to our son and to help him through this difficult time in his life. For this, we are very thankful.

The head is starting to bob. My nap is calling.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An Interesting Journey

We had a nice visit with our son at West Point yesterday afternoon and evening.

After a picnic dinner of fried chicken, potato salad, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and chocolate chip cookies, our daughter took our younger son into the field to play while we talked to our older son.

We told him about the latest report from the oncologist - that there is little to nothing that can be done from a medical standpoint to cure my cancer. There are some things that can be done to ease the pain and possibly prolong my life a few months, but nothing to stop or cure the cancer.

We told him that we are not giving up hope. We are praying for healing. We know that God is in control and that He is not bound by statistics or medical treatments.

We will continue with a regimen of homeopathic and natural remedies we began a few weeks ago.

We will continue to take this thing one day at a time. And trust in the Lord each step of the way. Seeking to glorify Him and learn all we can.

It has been difficult telling our children, other family members, and close friends about this latest news. How do you tell your loved ones that you have a limited time left? How do you explain it to a five-year-old? These are things with which we must wrestle.

We are thankful for the multitudes of people who are praying for us. We have never done this before. It will be an interesting journey.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Did I Mention The Potato Salad?

I am enjoying a cup of hot coffee on a cool, but sunny, Saturday morning. My wife is on the phone. My son is playing with his train set and Legos. My daughter is still in bed. It is a somewhat typical Saturday morning.

In a few hours we will be leaving to drive up to West Point to see our older son. We are all looking forward to the visit. My wife made a batch of fried chicken and a bowl of potato salad to take. A late afternoon picnic on the Hudson River at Trophy Point.

Yesterday I received a special blessing in the mail. A card. From the son of good friends. Friends who are coming to visit us this week. It is a blessing to see your friends' children grow up and appropriate the faith for their own. To choose to contine to walk with the Lord. This young man is not just the son of a friend. He is a friend and a brother in Christ. And to know that he and his college friends are praying for us is very humbling.

I am praising and thanking God for His goodness and His provision of strength. He enabled me (allowed me) to teach for five days this week. In the classroom I have the strength I need to be able to lead my classes in learning. I pray that I am half the blessing to my students that they are to me.

It is a somewhat typical Saturday morning - but did I mention the potato salad?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Encouragement on An Index Card

Someone left me an index card on my desk this morning. On it was written the words of Isaiah 43:1-3a

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Though these words were written to Israel, we can take comfort in them today as God's adopted sons and daughters.

We have no need to fear, knowing we belong to the Lord. He has redeemed us by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. He has called us by name. We are his.

We have no need to fear, knowing the Lord is with us. Through every trial we may face, He promises to be by our side. To protect us. To keep us from being consumed.

It is a beautiful pre-autumn day. Sunny and cool. Our daughter is at an away soccer game. Our younger son is sleeping on the floor of the living room. His K5 class had an extra day of school today. They went on a field trip to a local cider mill. My wife declared that today was a good day, as she held up a to-do list with all the items crossed off.

I am thankful that I have successfully made it through the fourth day of our first five-day week at school. I am thankful that God has allowed me the strength and has relieved the pain enough for me to do what I love to do.

And today, I am thankful for friends who encourage me with the word of God. In person. Over the phone. By letter or e-mail. Or on an index card.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two of My Favorite Quotes

I may have shared these in earlier posts, but these are two of my favorite quotes. Both hang in a prominent place in my classroom where I can read them every day - several times a day.

The wick exists only to be consumed. If it survives, it has failed of its purpose. There is no such thing as costless spiritual service. As we minister to others, virtue will go out of us. Ours is the privilege of offering ourselves as fuel for the flame of God.
- J. Oswald Sanders

To be used by God. What a privilege! When I leave the classroom at the end of the day, I do not want to leave having held back anything good from my students. I want to give them and God my best each day. I fail each day, but my goal each day is to be completely used up in service to the One who gave me life and breath.

I have now concentrated all my prayers into one, and that one prayer is this, that I may die to self and live wholly to Him. - Charles Spurgeon.

To die to self and live wholly to Him. A lofty goal. To remember that it is not about me, but all about Him. To give up my will for His. Again, I fail each day. But I owe it to Him to try. And try again. Each and every day.

I try to live out my faith before my students. I want them to see me trying to walk worthy of my calling in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:1). I want them to see me walking in the good works that God has prepared for me (Ephesians 2:10).

I want them to see me when, by God's grace, I am victorious. And I want them to see me when I fail and call upon the Lord for mercy.

I want them to see a man who loves the Lord and has chosen to live for Him.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Uneventful Day

Today was not what I would call an eventful day.

But it was a day that the Lord has made. And I rejoiced. And I was glad to be able to enjoy the day and the opportunities it provided to know Christ better and to serve others.

It is such a joy and a blessing to be able to serve others. By being an encouragement. By being a helper. By teaching. By listening. By being an example. Even when we may be physically limited in the ways we can serve, there are always ways we can minister to the needs of others.

Our younger son announced this evening that today was a great stay-at-home day.

This evening friends brought over dinner and dessert. We had a great meal together and a great time of fellowship. Even though our five-year-old tried to keep himself at the center of attention.

Our daughter is at an away soccer game. My wife will have to leave in forty minutes or so to pick her up.

I forgot to mention this earlier this week, but my daughter finally found a husband. Even though she is not allowed to date for another ten or fifteen years. The husband she found is actually a pillow that has two arm-like extensions for support. Sitting in the pillow, one feels as though she is being hugged. I imagine the name "husband" is derived from such a description. Apparently my wife and some of her friends also had husbands when they were in high school. Some waited until they were in college.

Our older son called a few minutes ago. Just to share how his day at WP was. He is trying to get plenty of rest and still get his work done. I did my best to encourage him as he continues to adjust from high school to college-level academics. He is enjoying and doing well in chemistry, which very much pleases his high school chemistry teacher (who also happens to be his dad).

He tells us that he is signed up to take Chinese as his language next year. It was a quick decision made during Cadet Basic Training this past summer. He is hoping that he can switch to Russian.

He is still working hard to stay on the sprint football team. The coach will be making final cuts after the game on Sunday. All in all, he has done pretty well for someone who has never before played organized football. Needless to say, I am proud of him and will be happy whether or not he makes the final cut.

My wife, son, and our friends picked two ripe pumpkins from our old garden this evening. I may have mentioned this already, but these two pumpkins are the progeny of a smashed pumpkin discarded in our old garden spot last fall. By a fluke, this patch of ground was not mowed this summer, enabling the pumpkins to grow under a cover of weeds until discovered a few weeks ago. What a pleasant surprise. And maybe the start of a new way of gardening for our family.

Thank you Lord for this uneventful day.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Peace and Grace

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18.

In the midst of great uncertainty, Paul closes his letter asking the God of grace and peace to bless the Thessalonian believers with peace and grace.

Peace is not characterized by the absence of conflict, trial, or uncertainty. Peace is a hope and an inner confidence that we have in the midst of turmoil. It is an unexplained calmness when the pressure is building.

And it is found only in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our peace.

Grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is by grace that we are saved from our sin. It is by grace that we live a life pleasing to God. Everything that we have and everything that we are is because of His grace.

It too is found only in Jesus Christ.

As we face days of uncertainty, my wife and I find peace in our relationship with Jesus Christ. We have a hope that is not dependent upon our circumstances. We have confidence that God will carry us through the trials in a way that glorifies Himself and causes us to mature in Christlikeness.

By His grace, and His grace alone, will we be able to stand fast through the difficult times ahead. Grace means that we do not deserve anything from God, but because of His amazing love, we know that He will give us everything we need and more to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Today, I am thankful that the pain is not so severe.

My wife talked with our oncologist this morning. He will be calling an adult Ewing's Sarcoma specialist at Sloan-Kettering in NYC for a consultation. We are exploring all available options in an effort to make the most informed choice about our future plan of action.

Ultimately we know that God is in control of our days and we pray that His will may be done.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Do Not Grow Weary

In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, Paul warns the believers against idleness. Because they were expecting Christ to return at any moment, some had quit their jobs and were refusing to work. Some were depending on the kindness and generosity of others. Some were becoming busybodies - like the idle widows in Titus.

Paul urged the believers that were being obedient to God's Word to separate from those who were being disobedient. He further encouraged them to follow the example of Paul and his companions, who - although they could have chosen to live off the generosity of those they served - insisted on working and supporting themselves.

He told the obedient believers: Do not grow weary. Although they were tired of supporting those who were being lazy, they should not stop helping those who were truly in need.

This requires discernment. Discernment to know who has chosen to remain idle and who is truly in need because of difficult circumstances.

As I sit here in my chair on Sunday morning, I think about how perfectly acceptable - in our society - for me to turn my thoughts inward and focus on getting my pain relieved. How it would be perfectly acceptable for me to stop working, to stop looking for ways to serve others. But that is not acceptable in my mind. I do not think that God wants me to think that way. I want to serve in any way I can as long as I can.

I think that, often, our most effective ministry to others occurs in the midst of trials.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Times Are In Your Hand

But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." My times are in Your hand. Psalm 31:14-15a.

Like David, I choose to trust in God. No matter what.

He is my Lord. I choose to submit my will to His. He has redeemed me by His blood and has the right to tell me what to do, how to live. And His way is always better than my own.

He is my God. Because of Jesus Christ, I have a personal relationship with God. I do not practice a religion. Following Christ is not a set of "do's" and "don'ts." It is not a ritual or routine. It is not a way of trying to earn favor with God. It is a dynamic relationship based on His love for me and my love for Him.

My times are in His hand. I know that He is in control.

Commenting about this last part of the passage, Spurgeon makes several helpful observations.

God is near. Though He is far greater than His creation, He is, at the same time, intimately involved. He is always near.

Because my times are in His hands, I do not need to fear man. There is nothing that men can do to me that will affect God's love and care for me.

This passage reminds us that we have help in times of temptation. Because God is in control. I do not have to give in to the temptation to take matters into my own hands.

This passage is a cure for present worry. Why worry when God is near and in control?

It is also quiets dread of the future. God is at work in our present and holds the key to our future.

This passage gives us a motivation to serve God. God equips us to do everything we are called to do for Him. He will protect us and He is responsible for the outcome.

Finally, this passage reminds us of our future blessing. The God who is sovereign over our present circumstances has promised us (all those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross at Calvary) that we will be with Him for eternity.

My times are in Your hand.

Take time today to reflect on everything that means to you as a follower of Jesus Christ. And if you are not presently following Christ, ask yourself if placing your times in His hands is the right and reasonable thing to do.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Notes

It has been a few days since I have posted.

The pain in my thighs has been severe, and we are still experimenting with dosages of pain medication.

On Wednesday, I had a blood transfusion. My hemoglobin level was a 6.9. Normal for adult males is 14, I think. That probably explains why I have been so drowsy lately.

On Thursday, we visited the oncologist. He gave me some suggestions for pain management and explained our options for treatment of the cancer in these new areas. He gave us some literature to read. So, my wife and I have to take some time to prayerfully consider the options available to us at this point.

Today I had a CAT scan of my chest and abdominal area to see if the cancer has spread into any of the internal organs. We should have the results of that test next week.

Thankfully, I have friends who were willing to drive me to my appointments on Wednesday and Friday so that my wife could teach for me at school. I am thankful for these friends and servants of the Lord.

I am thankful for my wife who loves me so much that she is committed to teaching for me when I cannot.

We are continuing to trust the Lord, day by day, moment by moment.

Blessed be the LORD, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Psalm 68:19.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

God is Faithful

Yesterday was the first day in a while that I missed making a post on this blog. I wanted to. I just couldn't. I was in too much pain.

I awoke yesterday in great pain, yet decided to persevere and go to school. I asked God for the strength and endurance I would need to get through the school day. And He provided.

But by yesterday evening, the pain was severe again. By the time I got home, all I could do was crawl in bed.

God is faithful.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5, Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers - believers that were under attack - that God is faithful. God will strengthen them and give them protection.

No matter what we experience as His children, we know that God is faithful.

As this day begins, I am confident that God will give me everything I need to serve and to glorify Him today. Though He may not take away all the pain, I know that He will help me endure the pain so that I can carry out the tasks of the day.

God is faithful.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Best Is Yet to Come

In 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, Paul asks for prayer - not for himself and his companions - but that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified. He prays that he might have the freedom to preach and teach the word of God, so that the word of God can do its work.

In Hebrews 4:12 we read that the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword . . .

Paul prays that this word might be released so that it does its dynamic, life-changing work in the lives of others.

He knows that its is not his preaching and teaching that changes lives. It is the word of God.

People need to hear or read the word of God. And when they do so with open hearts and minds, by the grace of God, they will be changed. They will begin to understand who God is and what He has done, They will begin to understand their lost condition apart from God, their need for forgiveness, and their need for a relationship with Jesus Christ. They will begin to understand that, for those who come to God through faith in Jesus Christ . . .

the best is yet to come.

One of the ways that I get through each day with cancer is focusing on this fact that the best is yet to come. At the end of this, I will be with my Lord and Savior. This I know . . . for the Bible tells me so.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rainy Saturday

It is a lazy Saturday here at our home in northeastern Pennsylvania. It has been raining all day.

I really like rain. I am not sure why, but I always have.

Walking in the rain. Singing in the rain. Jumping in puddles.

Reading 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 today, I was somewhat relieved that Paul had transitioned away from his discussion of judgment, apostasy, and the man of sin. That was some heavy stuff. Necessary, but heavy.

Here, he gives thanks to God for the Thessalonian believers and reminds them it is because of God's love that they have been chosen by Him. He has called them to stand fast and to hold on to the great traditions of their faith. And he reminds the believers that God continues to strengthen and support them through each day.

It as if to say, after all the talk about apostasy and judgment, that you have no need to worry. You were called by God to glory, not to judgment. Because you belong to Him, you will be spared the events previously described.

It is comforting to know, as I read this passage, that I am loved by God and that He will strengthen me and support me through difficult times.

He has and He is strengthening me and supporting me. It is by His grace alone that I/we have been able to stand fast in this battle with cancer. As we face even greater uncertainty in the months to come, we have no doubt that God is with us every step of the way. Because of Him we have no reason to worry. We have no reason to fear.

Friday, September 5, 2008


In 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12, Paul describes the time (at the midpoint of the Tribulation, following the Rapture of the Church) when "the man of lawlessness" will be revealed. This counterfeit Christ will profess to be God and will deceive many with his power, signs, and lying wonders. Those who are deceived will be those who have rejected the truth and have chosen to live in unrighteousness. But Jesus Christ will defeat and destroy this counterfeit Christ and will judge those who have rejected Him. They will suffer the consequences for their sins.

It is so important for us to listen to the truth today. Not to make a decision about the truth is the same as rejecting it. The day will come when those who have rejected the truth will no longer be able to recognize the truth. Their blindness will prevent them from hearing and responding to the invitation to be forgiven, redeemed, and saved. Their blindness will result in suffering the consequences for their rejection of Jesus Christ and the truth, for the consequences of their sins, for eternity.

Even now, many have rejected the idea that there can be such a thing as truth. Many ignore the truth.

As an example, it is evident in this election that many people, on both sides, have not taken time to understand the issues or to really research the candidates. They will base their decision on emotion. On the basis of which candidate is more appealing to them. I may have a cynical view of this election, but I do not get the impression that most voters have taken time to determine what is true.

Jesus said that we must know the truth and that the truth will set us free. The truth can be known and the freedom it brings is available to all who will embrace it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Restrainer

Writing about 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 Augustine said, I admit that the meaning of this completely escapes me.

That's good. That's honest. Maybe I ought to use that phrase more often. Maybe other students of God's word ought to make that admission more readily. Not too often, though, that we use it as an excuse for inadequate study.

Here, Paul writes about how a "restrainer" is keeping the Antichrist from being revealed until God's appointed time. Apparently, the recipients of letter knew what Paul was talking about, but we are left to speculate about the identity of this "restrainer."

Ultimately, we know that it is God who restrains evil in this world. It is God who is sovereign over all things, including the works of the devil.

I think about how much evil is in our world today. Then, only for a moment, I think about what it would be like if God were not putting a restraint on evil and the evil one. I am so thankful that God is in control and that He protects His childen.

Some politicians claim that they can make the world a better place. But, in reality, it will continue to decay. Things are going to get worse before they get better. But they will only get better when Christ returns in all His glory and sets up His earthly kingdom.

Barack Obama is not the hope of the future. Neither is John McCain. Jesus Christ is our only hope.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Today Is A Great Day!

This morning a friend shared this thought with my wife . . .

Enjoy today. It won't come again.

Today is a great day!

Our five-year-old had his first day of K5 today. He woke up this morning with great excitement. Here he is all dressed and eager to go . . .

Of course, he was very tired and fell asleep on the way home this afternoon. But now he is happily playing with Legos.

It is also a great day because our daughter got her braces off! Here she is with a big smile . . .

She celebrated after school by enjoying a caramel apple . . .

Our celebration will continue as we enjoy a dinner of grilled chicken and fresh sweet corn. For the first time in several years, her corn will not need to be cut off the cob.

Today is a great day because I got to go to school and teach my students.

Today is a great day because we have everything we need.

We have great friends.

Most of all, because we have a great God who is above all yet cares for us as a loving Father.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thessalonica's Thickening Theology

The theology is getting thick in Thessalonica.

Paul warns the Thessalonians (in 2:3-5) once again that they must not be deceived by false teachers. The Day of the Lord will not occur until after "the falling away" and "the man of sin" is revealed.

The "man of sin" or "son of perdition" is also referred to as "the prince who is to come" (Daniel 9:26), "the little horn" (Daniel 7:8), the beast (Revelation 13:2-10, 18), and the Antichrist.

The "falling away" takes place at the midpoint of the Tribulation. It is referred to as the abomination of desolation. See Daniel 9:27; 11:3; Matthew 24:15. The antichrist exalts himself and moves into the temple in Jerusalem. He declares himself to be God and demands to be worshipped. For the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation, he maintains peace with Israel. For the last 3 1/2 years is the Great Tribulation, a time of great suffering, which culminates with the Day of the Lord.

Again, while the Rapture could occur at any moment, the Day of the Lord must be preceded by this "falling away" and the appearance of "the man of sin."

And now for some lighter fare . . .

I just got off the phone with our son. He is trying out for Army's sprint football team. He says that the practices have been grueling, but that he is continuing to give it his all until the final cuts are made. He is in great shape, but he has never played football. It was baseball, soccer, and basketball here at home. But he decided to give it the old army try.

School went well today. It's only the third day, but we seem to be developing somewhat of a routine. I napped for about an hour when I got home. The pain in my hips was not too intense. I still have pain, but it is bearable.

Our younger son starts K5 tomorrow. He is so excited. It will be early to bed tonight. For all of us, I think.

My beautiful, smiling wife just walked in the room. I've got to go.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Confusion, Truth, and Consequences

Sometimes I get confused. Since I have been doing chemotherapy, I am more easily confused. One of my seminary professors had (and may still have) a sign on his door that reads:

Confused - but at a higher level.

In our world where most people do not accept the fact that there is such a thing as absolute truth, where everything is subject to opinion, where everyone is right, things can often get confusing.

What are we to believe these days?

Certainly not everything we read on the Internet or hear from Oprah.

The Thessalonian believers were confused (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). They had been taught, by Paul, that the rapture of the church would occur before the Day of the Lord (judgment). That is what they were expecting. But along came these false teachers who proclaimed that they were now experiencing this time of judgment. They were confused. And Paul had to set them straight.

In their day and in ours, it is so important to know and to cling to the truth. If we are not, we will be tossed to and fro by the teaching of every new "prophet" that comes along.

For me, the daily source of truth is God's Word, the Bible. The more I read the Bible, the better able I am to discern the truth as I read the newspaper or listen to Fox News or hear what the latest TV preacher is saying.

I still get confused. But I know where to find the truth and to find help in determining what is true.

After that, I must cling to the truth. Focus on the truth. Proclaim the truth. Defend the truth.

Not knowing the truth has its consequences.