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A Stroll At Leisure With God

Faith is More than Words

I just threw up my entire breakfast, including the shake. I wonder if the pills were in there. I hope not.

I’ll tell you getting off this oxycodone is hell, day and night. I have the restless leg syndrome during the day and at night both hands and arms just can’t get comfortable. Add to that this headache I have had for over five weeks … well, you get the picture.

I am determined to get off this nightmare no matter what it takes so I will take up and throw up as much as it takes. Bring it on!

Marilyn is the only one who is encouraging me: just one step closer, she keeps saying. She is right.

Oh, well, I made it through another night.

The scripture for today? Here it is: “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, ‘Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!’ and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” (James
2:14-17 MSG)

You know? The man begging on the street really bothers me. What should I do? For one of them, I offered to buy him a banana and an apple. He wasn’t interested. Just wanted money.

Makes me think that all he wants is money just so he can buy booze or something else. I need to think and pray this through more. I will.

Lord, I thank You for the throw up. I thank You for cancer again. Let me look at this gift in the right way. I pray that for others as well. Amen.

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Sheer Gift

I only threw up a couple of times yesterday, and they were not major. Plus, I seemed to sleep a little better than the night before. Who knows? I am not going to get truly excited until all symptoms of this nightmare are done. I feel nauseas today, so what gives?

Pray for Marilyn. Taking care of both of us is having a toll on her. Thanks.

Here are the verses I read in James today: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James
1:2-4 MSG).

I don’t think I am there yet—considering it a sheer gift when trials and challenges come from all sides. Just don’t think I am there yet. All this stuff that is occurring is making me mad not glad. Plus, I wish I could just get over all of it and back to normal, whatever that is.

I watch other people—I know this isn’t a good exercise—drive down the street or run or walk their dog—and I wish I could do the same. Of course, Joe is not the kind of dog that one walks… but you know what I am saying. I’m just not there yet.

So, this is a comment about my “faith-life.” It is just not where it is supposed to be. And I need to work on it and will.

In the meantime, I just want to thank God for every trial and challenge that comes my way and go from there.

Lord, I do thank You for every challenge that comes my way. I know I am not there yet. Help me. Help us. Help everyone who is reading this to trust You in EVERYTHING. Amen.
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Live Simply

I only got a few winks last night. Getting off this oxycodone is going to be hard. I felt sick most of the night. I just couldn’t get comfortable. UGH.

Why did I allow myself to get on it? Why am I doing it in addition to the transplant? Isn’t that enough?

Those questions haunt me as I go through this, and there is really nothing that a doctor can do at this point. I just have to gut it out, as they say.

I read this in Hebrews this morning: “Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” (Hebrews
13:5-6 MSG)

In other words, live simply. Don’t be obsessed with getting more. I didn’t think I was, but I need to think about that more. I am obsessed with getting more that we help me feel well these days. I am obsessed with getting more pills and calling the doc about them. So, I guess I am obsessed with getting more and more.

This says to be relaxed with what I have and continue to trust the provision of God. That is what I need to do—trust. “Trust and obey, for there is no other way.”

I would not say that I am fearless either. I’m afraid of this disease and going back to the hospital and what it can do to me. I don’t think that honors God either. If I have to go, I have to go and we will see from there. I’ll leave that up to God as well.

Lord, it always comes back to trusting You, always. I confess that I haven’t been but I choose now to believe You. Thank You again for everyone who is praying for me. I am so grateful. Amen.
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Discipline

I threw up twice today. One was just dry heaves. I knew I was in for it. When I threw up the second time, my dinner and breakfast came up, all there in the sink for everyone—and there was no one—to see. In addition to my eyes, I must have some Graft vs. Host in my stomach as well, but I won’t be able to tell until Thursday when we have our next appointment at the clinic.

I am not trying to be poor little John. I’m just telling what happened this morning and I know the Lord is at work.

How do I know? Well, I read this passage in Hebrews:
“In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children” (Hebrews 12, MSG).

This is an all-out match against sin and God is treating me in discipline, like a son. His discipline is hard, not easy, and He is educating us in His ways.

Somehow, this is hard to write. Maybe because my mind accepts this, but my heart does not. Maybe because I have not fully experienced it. I don’t know …

I guess we will see down the road. I have a feeling that God is not through with His discipline. He has more to give.

In the meantime, Marilyn and I are mad that we have to wait to see the doctor. Monday is a holiday of course. Then, everything for the week is compressed so Thursday is the soonest day. During that period, I just have to “gut it out,” according to Tina. Well, okay.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on. I have a very specific request: please pray for me as I go over to the neighbor’s for Memorial Day that I will feel like it. Thanks.

God, I do thank You for Your discipline. You are treating us as Your kids. Help us to receive by faith the education You offer. Help all God’s children with discipline. Help us today. Amen.
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Live Carefree

I suppose I felt a little better this morning; I did not throw up at least. I had another conversation with Tina who still believes it is the Oxycodone that is giving me the nausea, not the Bach strum. Okay, well, we will just have to go with it. We will see.

In the meantime, my mom still wants out of the nursing home, and my sister is still having a hard time. The same beat goes on …

I am still in 1 Peter. I love this book about suffering. Here is a verse that God brought to attention: “So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you” (1 Peter
5:6-7 MSG).

Every bit of those verses is hard. “Be content with who you are.” Oh, boy. I am NOT content. I don’t like who I am right now.

“Putting on airs”—that is what I am doing before our neighbors. I don’t want them to see how sick I really am. Why?

“God’s strong hand is with you”—don’t believe it.

“He will promote you at the right time.” I guess I believe that but I wonder when.

Then, there is live carefree, followed by this statement about God: “He is most careful with you.” God is? Well, if that is the case, then all the others are possible. What I mean is that I can be content; I don’t have to put on airs before the neighbors or anyone else for that matter; I can believe that God’s strong IS with me; and I really believe that He will promote me at the right time.

I can live carefree if I know that God cares for me. It is all about God and His character that makes the difference.

Lord, I don’t have IT on my own to love You and follow You, but You do. You can help me and I am thankful that You are. Thank You, Lord. Thanks to everyone who is praying. Thanks to my mom and sister. Amen.

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The Life of Faith

Not very glamourous.

I threw up my breakfast, as far as I can tell, just about all of it.

Marilyn is going to call Tina this morning and leave a message. She is mad that I have all these symptoms. The main thing is that I can barely keep my balance when walking. I walk like a skeleton. Something is definitely wrong.

The beat goes on …

My mom is still sick in the nursing home. Still, all she wants to do is come home. It is very hard.

I feel for Marilyn. She is having to take care of both of us. This is hard under any circumstances.

There is the life of faith in a nutshell. Do you want it? I didn’t think so, and I can’t blame you.

Here is what the writer to Hebrews says about it: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd” (Hebrews
11:1-2 MSG).

Faith is foundation of everything. We can’t see it but we know it is there. It is what distinguished our forefathers from each other. It was faith.

I have to believe that all of this has come into lives to get us to trust Him more. Why else would it occur? And it is working because we are realizing that neither the doctor nor Tina nor the psychologist Dustin nor anyone else has all the answers. The only Person who does is God.

So, this is forcing us to go to Him at every turn, and we know that He will be there for us.

Lord, thank You for this life of faith. It is certainly nothing I would choose, for sure, but I know that You are working in and through it all. Amen.

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God IS on the Job!

Well, the answer is what I expected. The Bach strum is for GVHD (Graft vs. Host Disease) and I need to take it for the whole rest of the time. Got my answer there.

As far as the eye doctor is concerned, I have “mild to moderate” GVHD in my eyes, so he prescribed some stuff as well that I had to go pick up at the pharmacy. He wants to see me again in a month to see if I have done what he has asked as well as he wants to dilate my eyes. Fun!

Thus, GVHD is the order of the day, and I have to work on it. Okay, there you go.

I just have not been feeling well as all of you know, so hopefully, this will help me in those two areas. We will see.

I Peter gives some good stuff about suffering. I am going to cite two passages:

“Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want…. Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner” (
1 Peter 4:1-2,12-13 MSG).

Two things. First, sufferings are intended to wean us out of the life that used to expect everything for ourselves. Oh, man. Does this hit close to home? I expect to feel well. I expect to be doing better. Maybe those expectations are skewed. It has been less than a year since the transplant.

As the nurse from Halcyon said, my expectations are a little off. I need just to get better and leave the “getting well” part up to the Lord. Okay, I will.

Second, our sufferings my lead us to think that God is NOT on the job. He is, for sure. He is always working on our behalf for the good and for the glory. We just need to trust that, for sure.

Lord, thank You again for this stomach and eye problem, both related to GVHD. Thank You for GVHD. Thank You that You are using it for Your glory. Thank You that You use our problems for Your glory. Amen.

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Targets

I am looking forward to talking with the folks at the clinic today. I hope I can get some answers—a headache for three weeks! You have to be kidding me! We will see what they have to say and I will tell you.

I came across this passage in the reading for today:

“Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion” (Hebrews 10, MSG).

So much there to explain. At first, the people were targets of every kind of abuse, whether it was the actual people or friends of them. They experienced it all. The let their stuff go knowing that heaven contained their real treasure.

Nothing bothered them, nothing at all, as they made their way on God’s path.

Thus, the writer counsels not to throw away their confidence because God is leading them on the true path.

I have to remember this, even on those days when I feel lousy. God is still leading me on His path, in His direction.

You must remember it as well. We must stick with God’s plan together so that we will be there for the promised solution. I believe that we will experience that together, so it involves every person.

Lord, thank You that I am going down the path WITH the saints. Give us grace to get to the final destination, all of us together. Amen.

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Prayers Run Aground

This whole thing must be some medication. I can’t figure it out. This headache along with its attendant circumstances just keep going on and on. I’m going to call them again next week and see what I can do.

Just an update on my mom: she is still in the nursing home, but she hates it there. She just wants to come home. It is so difficult on both of us just trying to make it.

Peter deals with relationships. He has spent a long time dealing with wives and what they should do in the marital relationship. Then, he moves to husbands:

“The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground” (1 Peter 3:7 MSG).

What captured my attention this morning was the last phrase of the text. He keeps saying that the husband and wife are “equals.” As husbands, we must treat our wives as equals so that our “prayers don’t run aground.”

This tells me that relationships are important and do have something to do with prayer. We must be careful in our relationships, particularly with our spouses.

There must be some reason why the divorce rate is the same in the church and out of it. This is so sad.

But I think the principle expands to single folk like me. I must be just as careful with all kinds of relationships so my prayers don’t run aground.

The larger principle is that human relationships affect the divine in every instance. No matter who we are, we must be careful.

Lord, thank You for the relationships I enjoy. Thank You for each one. Help all of us, no matter who we are, to be careful. That is all and it in a nutshell. Amen.

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Chosen by God

I wish I did feel better today. That would certainly make everything better. But I don’t.

I did, however, get a chance to talk to Tina late yesterday afternoon. She said, “Humm. That Bach strum (sp?) doesn’t usually cause nausea. Maybe it is the Oxycodone. But I will get the Tach filled. You will have to come down and get it.” That’s all she said. So, we had to race downtown to get the Tach before they closed for the weekend.

It is all so crazy. My brain is in a fog. But I am trying to thank God for all of this.

Here is a scripture passage for today. I love this: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1 Peter
2:9-10 MSG).

Chosen by God—what a thought, but the writer explains it. Three things—good for a preacher! Ha! First, it means chosen for the high calling of priestly work. Since Jesus is seated at God’s right hand and we are in Him, we are doing exactly what Jesus is doing—high priestly work. Everything we do is for God toward the people.

Second, it means chosen to be a holy people. We are holy not in and of ourselves. We are holy because of God.

Third, it means God’s instruments to tell others of the difference He made in our lives. This is not an authoritative telling; this is a telling with our lives that we are different.

I consider this one of the main reasons why God let me experience all of this—so I can let my life and my voice tell others what the Lord has done.

I think we should allow this high priestly work to cause us to pray for lost folk and pray for a chance to share with them.

Lord, thank You again for cancer—this great gift. Help me to use it in prayer and witnessing to others to let them know what You are doing in my life. I pray for Tina. She has a lot on her plate right now. Help me to be a witness to the doctor and nurses for Your glory. Amen.

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The Goal of the Blog

Man, I feel lousy this morning, as if I am going to throw up. I guess it is good that it is cold outside and snow covers the ground. It will force me inside. It will make me rest—I guess.

Anyway, I thought I might jot down a few thoughts if I can about my blog because I just feel the need to do so. First, if anyone does not like what I write for any reason, I have a simple answer for you: DON’T READ IT! No one is forcing anyone to read it. And the truth is that I am writing this blog to God. I am not writing it for anyone, but thankfully, I am glad for each reader, believe me.

Second, from the beginning, just like my Quiet Time notes, I decided that I would be TRANSPARENT. I will say more about masks later, but it does no one any good for me to be fake and phony, and I am not going to be.

That having been said, there are some aspects of my life that I am not going to write about and I know that everyone understands this.

Third, far from being about how sad John is, this is intended to be a triumphant blog about the way that God speaks to me through all this stuff and helps me. Indeed, I am blessed, and I am so thankful for every bit of it, including this headache and the fact that I feel like throwing up this morning.

Fourth, and this is the most important, I am hoping that something I write might help someone else through their trouble or situation. We are all going through something, whether it is illness or job or relationship. I want people to know there are answers in the Word that can really help.

I was talking with a friend the other day. We were speaking about people in the church. He made a very interesting comment, “John, I think church people wear masks. You don’t really know them, but the worst are pastors. We wear masks too.” Oh, boy. That is a whole other topic, but he is so right.

That is what I hope gets dispelled through this blog and that we can be real with God and with each other.

Well, that is about it this morning. I have more thoughts. I will share them later.

Here is a statement about Jesus today: “Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them” (Hebrews
7:23-25 MSG).

I am so glad He is on the job 24 hours per day, ready to speak up on our behalf. Praise God!

Lord, thank You again for cancer and this headache and nausea. I thank You for everyone who reads this blog. Thank You for doing it as well. I’m so thankful that You are on the job for us all, all the time every day. I love You Father, Son, and Spirit. Amen.
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Pile Your Troubles on God

“Pile your troubles on GOD ’s shoulders— he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin. But you, God, will throw the others into a muddy bog, Cut the lifespan of assassins and traitors in half. And I trust in you” (Psalm 55:22-23 MSG).

That is the verses for today—pile your troubles on God’s shoulders. Some good advice, wouldn’t you say? But it comes in a difficult context.

The context is the betrayal of a very close friend who used to walk and talk with the Psalmist but now, for some reason, does not.

THAT is tough to handle. What do you do with it? Pile it on God’s shoulders! Give it over to God. He is the only One who can handle that.

Fortunately, I have not had this experience with my friends and family and church folk who are always for me, but I have with brief acquaintances. I can see how long term illness can turn people off and make them not want to hang out with you any longer. I can see how one could lose acquaintances over this.

When it does, I can see how the Lord will never let God people topple into ruin or fail. He is always right there.

He cuts off the traitors. And the Psalm ends with “and I trust in you.” This is awesome.

I’ll tell you: long-term illness is weird. A lot of the brief acquaintances one had simply leave. They cannot take it any longer. I could give a couple of examples, but I am glad that all my long-term friends are NOT that way.

God is there in every twist and turn of this thing. He is always there to supply what we need. This is one huge aspect of my testimony that I have learned through all of this.

Lord, thank You for taking care of me. The truth is that these acquaintances aren’t really friends. I am going to turn them over to You and not think about them any longer. Thank You for everyone who continues to pray for me. I love them. I love you. Amen.

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Signet Ring

Both Ezra and Haggai—two of the readings for today in the Solid Life Reading Plan—are about the Temple. Ezra describes how the enemy tried to stop the work with work of their own. Haggai is an urge for the people to build. There is something wrong with the Temple is in taters while everyone lives in a fine house. The people got it all the way to the top.

“GOD ’s Message came a second time to Haggai on that most memorable day, the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month: ‘Speak to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah: “I am about to shake up everything, to turn everything upside down and start over from top to bottom—overthrow governments, destroy foreign powers, dismantle the world of weapons and armaments, throw armies into confusion, so that they end up killing one another. And on that day”—this is GOD ’s Message— “I will take you, O Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, as my personal servant and I will set you as a signet ring, the sign of my sovereign presence and authority. I’ve looked over the field and chosen you for this work.”’ The Message of GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies” (
Haggai 2:21-23 MSG).

God promises to do two things. First, He will shake everything and everyone up. This is what the people value, but they won’t later. Second, He will use Zerubbabel as his signet ring to do the work of rebuilding the temple. The signet ring is God’s personal sign of His presence. THAT will be with the governor as he does his work.

I personally don’t think that God values brick and mortar as much as He prizes relationship. The point is that the people were wrapped up in their own stuff more than God’s stuff, and God wanted to turn that around.

I know God is going to heal me someday of at least most of what is going on now, and I want to be more of an advocate for God, not for cancer. I want to tell about God and leave the cancer up to Him.

That is NOT the way that a lot of people do it. So what? This is the way I feel led to do it—to talk more about the Healer than his healing.

Lord, thank You for your work in my life. I pray that I would take my cue from Zerubbabel and the signet ring. I praise You for what You are doing, O Lord. Amen.
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Learned Obedience Through Suffering

I didn’t seem to have much problem with the nurse Kim yesterday. When I was done with the blood test, she said I could leave, adding, “It looks as if you have good blood tests up to this time. No need to think this one will be bad. We will call you if it is. You can go on and go.” Great.

I had a very good day from that time out right up and through bedtime. That is when the bottom fell out. I don’t really know what happened.

But I awakened in the night with a splitting headache. I don’t know if I have ever had it so bad but once I discovered it, took some medication, and tried to go back to sleep by moving around all over the place, including this couch, it took me two hours. When I finally awakened, it was about the same time as I normally get up.

By the time I woke up, the headache, for the most part, had left.

I can only think that there is some new medication (and there is) that I am taking that would have given me such a headache. I don’t know … Just another hurdle on the way, but the clinic did their job—great as always.

The passage I read in Hebrews is one that my pastor—Andy Sr.—preached on years ago. It really ministered to me:

“While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him. Though he was God’s Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do. Then, having arrived at the full stature of his maturity and having been announced by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him” (Hebrews
5:7-10 MSG).

I gained a lot of comfort that Jesus learned obedience, just as I do. And, as a result, “he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him.” Just as I did, Jesus dealt with all the things that a teenage boy deals AND he came out on the other side. This is a great statement about the humanity and deity of Jesus, if you stop and think about it.

He can relate to everything I am going through—including splitting headaches. He knows. He has been there and done that. I praise the Lord for this.

Lord, I am personally very tired of all the things I am going through like headaches, but I know You know and are in charge of them since You have been there yourself. Give everyone who reads this the same kind of comfort I experienced from Andy Sr. I love You Father, Son, and Spirit. Amen.
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Surgeon's Scalpel

What an incredible statement! I have discovered more and more the meaning of this statement as I continue to go through this disease.

Oftentimes, for one reason or another, I have tended to believe what is not true about my diagnoses or treatment or drugs—whatever. And the Lord continues to come through.

For example, (and I know this sounds kind of weird), there was a test that I should have been taking at the hospital and for some reason, I just didn’t take it. Last time, the nurse got on me for not doing it, and for some reason (ha), I still just didn’t. Well, as it turned out, she called the next day and said that, after discussion, they had decided that I didn’t need to take that test. Instead, they will give me a steroid that I will take day after day. Praise God!

For some reason, the Spirit cut that out of my experience, and sure enough, I did not have to take it. This is just one small example of what I am talking about.

The Spirit uses the Word to cut things out of my life that don’t need to be there.

I plan on Him doing that today. I have a blood test scheduled for 8:00 AM this morning. I just once again plan on the Spirit doing His surgeon’s scalpel work, and I will go from there.

Again, this does not negate the great work of the doctor and the nurses, but God seems to override all of that just to get to His point.

Lord, thank You for this blood test this morning. I trust You with all of it. O Spirit, do Your work with Your scalpel once again. What a great day this is! I love You Father, Son, and Spirit who cuts. Amen.
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Getting Outside

I’m so thankful for all the folks at CBCI—all their help and assistance. They are constantly in the battle, fighting on my behalf. I picked up the new medication yesterday.

One thing you must know about me is that I really resist sitting inside. This is difficult because I still don’t feel that great. But I always try to get outside as much as I can with running errands, exercising, and just doing whatever I can to get in a car and go somewhere. It is hard, but as I said, I try to get outside, especially on a beautiful day like yesterday.

This thing is so weird in that I am antsy. I’m tired, but I can’t sit for very long. And sitting for very long makes me want to get up—something I don’t want to do because I am tired—crazy.

In the meantime, I am reading passages in the book of Daniel. There are a lot of visions about the future, but one thing remains constant: eternal destiny is always in view.

““That’s when Michael, the great angel-prince, champion of your people, will step in. It will be a time of trouble, the worst trouble the world has ever seen. But your people will be saved from the trouble, every last one found written in the Book. Many who have been long dead and buried will wake up, some to eternal life, others to eternal shame” (Daniel
12:1-2 MSG).

God’s people will be saved and will enjoy an eternity with Him forever; whereas, those who are not will experience eternal shame.

I have been thinking a lot about heaven lately. I’m so looking forward to a day when all of us will be with Him. This is the first thing. But the second is very closely aligned with it—we will all feel well. Oh, man! Will that ever be great!

This old body will go away and a new one will emerge. Luke shows us that the resurrection body of Jesus was one of skin and bones. I believe this will be like our eternal bodies. I don’t know … but I think so.

It used to be that I would just read the passages about our eternal bodies and just yawn, but now, I am so interested and can hardly wait.

Lord, thank You for taking care of us and for Your children, there is an eternal destiny. For those who don’t know You, there is eternal shame. This means that we need to get out and continue to share—urgently. Help me to do this. Amen.

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Jesus the Builder

I spent most of yesterday trying to figure out what Ryan had said. It was a tough day. My neck is still very sore, and I seemed to get more and more fatigued as the day wore on.

Tina called with a different medication to take. The University of Colorado called with an appointment with an eye doctor. So, I appreciate the fact that they are thinking of me in great detail.

My mom continues to be in distress in the nursing home; she just does not want to be there. Again, I can’t say that I blame her but there is nothing we can do at this point except visit her and continue to tell her that we love her. That’s it.

I got a lot of encouragement out of a rather extended passage in Hebrews: “So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do. Moses was also faithful, but Jesus gets far more honor. A builder is more valuable than a building any day. Every house has a builder, but the Builder behind them all is God. Moses did a good job in God’s house, but it was all servant work, getting things ready for what was to come. Christ as Son is in charge of the house. Now, if we can only keep a firm grip on this bold confidence, we’re the house! That’s why the Holy Spirit says, Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in “
‘the bitter uprising,’ that time of wilderness testing! Even though they watched me at work for forty years, your ancestors refused to let me do it my way; over and over they tried my patience. And I was provoked, oh, so provoked! I said, ‘They’ll never keep their minds on God; they refuse to walk down my road.’ Exasperated, I vowed, ‘They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest’” (Hebrews
3:1-6 MSG).

Jesus is the Builder. Moses built things, but the Builder behind everything (including cancer) is God. God is up to something in all of this. I am convinced. I don’t know what it is right now, but I am going to keep a listening ear.

The people in the wilderness were fools because they didn’t listen to God even though they had seen Him work for forty years. It was crazy. But it is my job to seek to listen to Him through all the sickness and pain and medication. I need to let the Lord do it His way, not mine.

This is the challenge I face every day. All of you do as well—to let the Lord get us where He is going, the place of rest.

Lord, thank You for being an awesome Builder. I know You are up to something. Give me the grace to let You work and walk down the path. I love You Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
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More Questions than Ever

With all the way I have been feeling, I had more questions than ever for Ryan when he entered the patient room.

What about the neck? He checked me over, convinced that it was not cancer. Maybe it was a muscle pull or something else, not to worry about. Check.

What about restless and fatigue? This was tougher. Not really sure here except to say that it may be some lingering GVHD (Graft versus Host Disease) because the pills should not have had such an effect. However, it could be the pills because everyone is different. What to do about it? I need to come in on Monday for a blood test. If certain conditions exist, I might need another steroid. Harder check.

What about my caked eyes in the morning? They are going to send me to an eye specialist to look me over completely. What is involved in this? UGH. Even harder check.

So, I would say that this was one of the most difficult of all the meetings I have had with Ryan. There is a lot more work that needs to be done on me. But, they continue to say that I am doing well. One more thing: they are a little concerned about the weight gain. Seems I can’t win there, but there is nothing to worry about.

Thus, I am just going to keep plugging and hoping that I can get better one of these days. Ha!

On to the scripture reading for today: “It’s obvious, of course, that he didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed” (
Hebrews 2:16-18 MSG).

I am so thankful for this—that Jesus entered every detail of human life. I would have to expect that it includes long term illness. Jesus entered into that so that He would have experienced it all Himself.

Then, as I go to the Father, I can plead my case with the God who understands and knows and has experienced all of this. Praise God!

God, thank You for this very difficult doctor’s appointment as well. I am so grateful that You have entered into every detail of all of this for my sake. Help me Lord as the beat goes on … Amen.
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Faithful Though Bedeviled

This reaction to the medication is weird. I got up to do some things, but eventually, I just sat down. I don’t feel like doing much.

I have an appointment with the doc today. Hopefully this will mean some answers for us, especially this headache that has been going on for days. Weird stuff.

I have to keep thanking God and plugging along. One of the passages for today gives me some answers in this regard:

“I said to myself, ‘Relax and rest. GOD has showered you with blessings. Soul, you’ve been rescued from death; Eye, you’ve been rescued from tears; And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling.’ I’m striding in the presence of GOD, alive in the land of the living! I stayed faithful, though bedeviled, and despite a ton of bad luck, Despite giving up on the human race, saying, ‘They’re all liars and cheats’” (
Psalm 116:7-11 MSG).

I need to thank God for rescuing me soul, delivering my eye from tears (I cried a lot of those), and my foot from stumbling. The Lord has basically kept me going all these days and weeks where I still don’t feel well— “I’m striding in the presence of God.”

By God’s grace. I kept on going despite a ton of bad luck, despite giving up on the human race. This is not exactly the case for me. I just know that a lot of people (not everyone) tend to give up on someone with a long-term illness, just because it never goes away. I understand. I was like that before all this. Now, I will never act that way again.

This is someone who follows the Lord, no matter what. I want to be that kind of person. I would have never dreamed that all of this would have happened, but since it has, I’m praying that He would teach me what I need to know.

Lord, my goal is to stay faithful to You, no matter what happens to me. Help everyone else who is dealing with sickness and something that tends to ostracize them. I know I am not the only one. Help them to stay faithful as well, Lord. Amen.

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Like a Baby Content

I’m still sick. I have this nagging headache. When will it end? Who knows?

I read today about Daniel in the lion’s den. One of the things that I had not remembered was that the king—Belshazzar—wanted Daniel to make it. I believe that the ungodly world is secretly pulling for us. They don’t know where it comes from. We do. But they like righteousness.

Of course, God did rescue Daniel and He also gave all the other accusing families over to the lions who killed them limb to limb. Great story of obedience and faith and love!

In light of that story, this entire story sums up where I am today:

“GOD, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain. I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans. I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content. Wait, Israel, for GOD. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always!” (Psalm
131:1-3 MSG).

I believe that my life is another example of His rescue. It may not be as dramatic, but still, it is as significant. He is allowing me to function—at least some—with all the physical stuff going on with me.

As I told my mom yesterday, “Mother, both of us are in a position of waiting on God. That’s it. Day by day.” That seemed to give her some peace for a second or two. It lasts longer for me.

“My soul is a baby content.”

Lord, I’m thankful for all the answered prayers that have brought us to this point. I am thankful for Daniel. I’m thankful for the privilege of waiting on You, now and forever. Amen.
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The Word Shapes Us

As many of you can probably tell, my writings in the morning have not been what they usually are. I just haven’t been feeling well. Today is no exception.

A nurse from Halcyon came by yesterday. I visited with her about a couple of medications. One, she took me off altogether. The other, she adjusted. As a result, I am a little sick this morning.

It almost feels like the flu, but I know it is just medication. I hope to feel better soon, but who knows?

Now, I actually know (I think I have already said this before) why it takes a year or two to recover: it is these stupid medications that I have to come off of.

“But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us” (
2 Timothy 3:14-17 MSG)

Paul has made the point that trouble and false teachers are part and parcel of what we face as believers, but then, he goes on to assert that we should not let anything faze us. Why? Because of the Word of God. It is solid and consistent. The Word puts us together and shapes us for the future.

I’m so grateful that even though I feel bad, the Word is consistent, giving us the truth and pushing us forward along the Path.

Lord, I am grateful for the Word today. It is God-breathed, full of His life and glory. Help me Lord with these two medications to adjust to. I will trust You for this as I have for everything else. Amen.

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Prince, Priest, and People

In my reading this morning, another character emerges in Ezekiel 45 and 46. It is the prince. Here is an example: “When the prince enters, he will go through the entrance vestibule of the gate complex and leave the same way” (Ezekiel 46:8 MSG).

I am not going to quote the verses, but the priest appears in verses 19-20, for example.

Interesting.

Here is my theory: at the end times, Jesus assumes the role of Prince and Priest, administering provision and sacrifice to the people. That is us. It will be a significant involvement in the sacrificial system.

You know, I have been dwelling on this. I am so ready for this to occur because right now, all the minor stuff seems to have assumed more importance.

Yesterday, I seemed to feel a little better so we joined in fellowship with a great family that is largely responsible for my arrival at First Southern. We enjoyed the food and fellowship with them.

Their action will not garner them any front-row seats or covers on magazines, and yet, they did a great work for God and for me. I am eternally grateful.

Someday though, we will get to enjoy Prince and Priest forever as everything and everyone comes into focus.

In the meantime, we get to experience the love of God in Jesus: “How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, To eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light” (Psalm
36:7-9 MSG).

Love, life, and light—three things we get to enjoy in the here and now as we wait for heaven ahead. This is a pretty good deal; wouldn’t you say?

Lord, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the bad here on this earth. I thank You for love, life, and light as we wait for prince and priest as we wait to be the full people of God. I love You Father, Prince/Priest, and Spirit of the Living God. Amen.

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Take It on the Chin with Jesus

Somehow, I think we have the attitude that really, things ought to go well for us. We don’t like suffering. Who does? We fight against it with all that we are.

I know I do. I get angry, mad at myself and at the Lord for allowing it into my life.

But why? Why do we get angry? When the New Testament is full of admonitions about it. We just need to keep plugging away.

Two passages I read give us two reasons to last it out. The first is from Timothy: “So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain” (2 Timothy
2:1-7 MSG).

The general statement is to take it on the chin with Jesus, like the rest of the servants of Christ did. Why? Well, he gives three quick analogies: soldier, athlete, and farmer. Each person needs personal discipline to carry out his/her directives. That is what we need when we face trouble.

Discipline is difficult, especially when it is the last thing on one’s minds. I hate it.

The second thing is something Titus reminds us: “But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around” (Titus
2:7-8 MSG).

We suffer so that, if someone sees us, he/she might turn to the Lord. This is particularly hard—the witness aspect. This is the last thing I have on my mind but it should be the first.

Jim said it. He is right, but the doctor and nurses at the clinic are all witnessing opportunities. I need to look at them as such through these difficult days particularly.

Lord, help me. Help us to take it on the chin with Jesus for discipline and for discipleship sake. I love You, Lord. Amen.
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Nothing But God's Power

Over the past few days, I have had plenty of time to think of what had been going on about this time last year (I may be off a few days here and there).

I was in the hospital getting me second bout of chemo. In that bout, I lost my hearing, for all intents and purposes. Now I need a hearing aid in both ears, and I just don’t hear that well.

Plus, when they let me out of the hospital, it was too soon. I was having severe hallucinations. I “saw” a rat run across my room and dealt with a lot of other things. Eventually, Marilyn had to take me back to the ER where they immediately put me back in the hospital. In the meantime, I was seeing dragons and monsters on the walls of the hospital walls. It was crazy.

Apparently, I was also speaking gibberish, according to Marilyn. A lot of this I simply don’t remember but Marilyn does and she cringes. I just wasn’t speaking or acting myself. It was weird there for a while.

All of this was happening about this time last year, so I am grateful that the Lord got me through it. I am a year further down the road from all of this. Praise God!

One of the passages of scripture I read this morning reinforces all of this: “So don’t be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner. Take your share of suffering for the Message along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus” (
2 Timothy 1:8-10 MSG).

“We can only keep going … by the power of God.” I agree. The Lord took us through all of what I experienced last year and now. He will keep on working.

It certainly isn’t us. It is nothing but the power of God. He prepared this for us long before we were born, from the foundation of the earth. He enables us to walk in it. He prepares us for the time He will return.

Lord, I’m thankful that it wasn’t us. It has been You and Your power from the beginning. We trust You to keep us going by Your power. Get us ready for your certain return. We believe You and love You. Amen.

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A Life of Wonder

“But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11-12 MSG)

I looked in the NASB. It translates life of wonder as “righteousness.” This is no stretch because as I focus on the righteousness Jesus gave me when I got saved, it engenders “wonder.” I love that word “wonder.”

It describes the first word in the cluster we are to pursue in the righteous life: a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, and courtesy. This is in contradistinction from all the false teachers in Paul’s day.

In the twenty-first century, we live as if there are no false teachers. Are we really that naïve? I believe they exist all around us on TV, on radio, and in other churches. I am not going to sit here and try to identify them. I will leave them up to you, but I can guarantee you that they have an audience. People in our churches are listening to them, taking in their words. It is scary stuff.

This passage has a two-fold application: to us and to the folks we listen to. We need to make sure that his/her number one priority is running after the Lord, seizing and living eternal life now.

I know that Marilyn and I are sitting ducks in a way because we are vulnerable. We both don’t feel that great and we are looking for answers urgently. We need to be more diligent than ever.

Lord, please give us wisdom, discernment, and wonder—now more than ever—wonder at who You are and what You have done for us. Over and over and over. Yes, Lord. I love You Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Widows Indeed

The Bible lays out clearly whom the church should minister to. I will get that in a moment.

Marilyn had a pretty severe headache on her birthday. I did not feel that great either. I sure hope I did not catch another virus. We will have to see. In the meanwhile, I am waiting for Rachel from Halcyon to come next Monday (I found out). I can talk with her about the medications and adjust them as necessary. I can hardly wait to see her.

Overall, we did have a good day. I was just concerned about Marilyn. I hope she gets better soon.

In the meantime, we can get to the passage of scripture.

“Any Christian woman who has widows in her family is responsible for them. They shouldn’t be dumped on the church. The church has its hands full already with widows who need help” (1 Timothy
5:16 MSG).

“God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you” (
1 Timothy 5:21-23 MSG).

A lot in these verses. First, a widow indeed is a widow without family to take care of her. If there is family, they are responsible for her.

Second, be careful in appointing a widow to leadership. If she is involved in sin, and the church raises her up, she could be unwittingly involved in her many sins. This is not good.

I think the church has many responsibilities for ministry she is not fulfilling. We need to be careful.

The bottom line is that each of us needs to watch himself or herself. This passage reminds each of us to take medication when necessary. I am going to do this for myself.

Lord, thank You for the way that the church has ministered to me. Give her wisdom as she ministers to others in the future. Amen.


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No Spiritual Flabbiness on Marilyn's Birthday

Through this whole thing, I have been careful to try to work-out and to walk. I don’t always feel like it but I try. The doc has repeated said that this is an important part of my recovery. I’m glad. It gets me moving around, on days like today, when I am particularly sleepy.

“You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers” (1 Timothy
4:6-10 MSG).

This passage makes it clear that work-outs in the gym are okay, but spiritual discipline is much better. The reason for this is that it makes us fit for today and forever.

This is very appropriate for today as Marilyn continues to take care of Mother and me. She does a great job of both. I’m glad she was born and born again.

I tell you: as all of you know, being a caregiver is hard work. There is a lot to put up with. At the nursing home, Gloria is moving on. This is very understandable from her standpoint, but Marilyn and I are really going to miss her. At the facility, the nurses seem to come and go. It is crazy and hard for my mom to adjust.

However, Marilyn is the one constant. She is there every day to help take care of my mom.

Lord, thank You for Marilyn on her birthday as she continues to take care of us both. Bless her today. Keep us working out in Your gym. Keep us disciplined. Keep us away from spiritual flabbiness. Amen.
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God-Willed

We continue to go on in this current mode. I’m going to wait for another couple of days. Then, I am going to make an appointment to go in and have them check out what is going on with me. I’m still so tired that I can’t keep my eyes open, but I am too revved up to sleep. Again, it is weird. I will just keep plugging along.

Here is a Psalm that expresses very well how I am feeling these days: “I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord; my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal. When friends said, ‘Everything will turn out all right,’ I didn’t believe a word they said. I remember God—and shake my head. I bow my head—then wring my hands. I’m awake all night—not a wink of sleep; I can’t even say what’s bothering me. I go over the days one by one, I ponder the years gone by. I strum my lute all through the night, wondering how to get my life together” (Psalm
77:2-6 MSG).

Where are you, God (except the lute part and I seem to be sleeping all right)?

We keep praying and asking and seeking—nothing for now. The only thing we can do is just to continue to wait on God.

In the meantime, I’m trying to concentrate on me. My goal is expressed very well in the verses below:

““For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!” (
Ezekiel 36:24-28 MSG)

I’m asking for God’s grace to give me a heart that is malleable, a heart that is open and willing to do what God wants—God-willed. Then, I can obey Him, even though I am sleepy and even though I am tired.

Please pray that I will continue to be able to stay awake even behind the wheel of a car. UGH.

Lord, again, I thank You for all of this. I cry out to You. Sometimes it feels as if You are not there. I know You are … Help us, Lord. Intervene and help us. As we wait, give me a heart of flesh not of stone. Amen.
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Pray

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live” (1 Timothy 2:1-3 MSG).

Paul exhorts Timothy to instruct the folks in Ephesus in basic Christianity—pray, pray, and pray. He goes on to point that out specifically to the men to do this and for the women to dress appropriately. Both of these commandments are very appropriate, especially for today.

In particular, men need to lead out in the church by serving through prayer. They need to pray for every aspect of the church’s ministry. It was reported that Spurgeon had a group of people in the basement praying for him as he preached every message. WOW.

Right now, prayer is just an afterthought, a tack-on. I was a part of a study recently in which the subject was prayer but we didn’t prayer. It must have been forgotten. We will see what happens the next time.

I am certainly an object of prayer. Without people praying, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. That is for sure.

I believe that the church’s first and basic strategy ought to be to pray. Without that, do we really have any hope?

Lord, it is easy to talk about prayer. Hard actually to do it. Help me to be a prayer warrior inside the church and out. I love You Father, Son, and Spirit. Amen.

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