Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Regrets

A few years ago I was blessed to be able to travel to Israel on a study tour. One of the stops was to a museum that housed the Dead Sea Scrolls and on display was Isaiah 53. I happened to be gazing at the passage and the professor who was fluent in ancient Hebrew paused to read the same passage. I had a thought I didn't act on, and I regret it every time I read Isaiah 53. I regret not asking him to read out loud to me that very ancient text that describes the act of atonement. This morning, my devotion included Isaiah 53 and I again went back to that glass enclosed display of Isaiah 53 and regret not acting on the impulse. What I do not regret is accepting the translations of this most important passage of scripture.

Isaiah 53: 4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

I also have many regrets from past mistakes (iniquities). To think and accept that all the consequences of all my mistakes, plus all the consequences of every human being's mistakes were laid upon the Lord as he hung between heaven and earth is the greatest gift given to humanity. Reading and applying the passage from Isaiah 53 has never not moved me to awe. That day in Israel I didn't want to bother my professor while he was deep in thought as he leaned over the glass studying the ancient text. I don't have to worry about not bothering the Lord as I also "lean" into the passage and reflect that all my (and yours and yours and yours and yours) iniquities, sorrows, diseases, transgressions, fears, infirmities, mistakes, etc, etc. were "laid on him".

Because of what the Lord Jesus did, I, and every person has the opportunity to be forgiven, made whole, renewed, made new, healed, become joyful, and live a life without any more regrets.

Romans 10 speaks of how to receive this wonderful gift.

9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

I am so glad, a fellow co-worker (Craig Kirby) led me into a prayer of Romans 10 as a 19 year old. That is the single most important decision I have ever made and that one erased all regrets, past, present and future.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Yen:

A desire or craving. Example: If you have a yen for adventure stories, then have a daily reading plan of the bible. The bible is full of incredible stories of God's people loving God, others and life.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Zephyr

A gentle, mild breeze.

Example: Acts 2 speaks of a "rushing,mighty wind", not a zephyr.

Something’s changed

The last three week's Brenda and I have made a new effort to get up earlier so we can get our exercise in before it gets too hot. The first week was brutal. Our lifestyle had developed into an "I can't hardly get up in the morning" feeling. We went from 6 a.m. to 5:30 am and now something has happened. I am sleeping deeper and waking up refreshed. I have almost two weeks worth of 3-4 four mile jogs with physical therapy exercise before and after. My body, including my hair is slowly but surely recovering from Lymphoma, the R-CHOP chemotherapy, four compression fractures and grog land. (This week two friends had to tug on my hair to settle their minds that this bush on my head wasn't fake.) The last few morning's I have awakened @ 5a feeling refreshed. Also found a little more time for prayer and devotions. My Sunday morning routine is to go early to the church and make sure the AC is working, etc. and do a quick prayer for God's blessings. (It's next door, so it isn't too big a deal). I felt a bounce in my step and didn't stumble from a no caffeine klutziness I was experiencing just a month ago.

Attended a Vienna Tyson's Chamber of commerce leadership seminar by an Action coach on Friday. (Thank you David) Also have begun reading and listening to the material for a new class on my path to a Master's. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, maritally something's changed.

Thanks be to God, something has changed for the better.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tom Sandy

My very good friend Tom Sandy entered eternity on June 23, 2010. I may have some of the details incorrect but as I know them here they are. Tom and family were in a car accident a few years ago (May 13, 2007). A Florida thunderstorm toppled a large oak tree upon their car while driving home. Tom's wife and two children were also in the car. Everyone was injured and Tom was left paralyzed and was in ICU. His children miraculously were spared, but Tom remained paralyzed from his neck down. (I may have his condition incorrect, so forgive me if I have this wrong.) His wife was injured and remained in a body brace for an extended period of time. Tom remained in this condition for a very long time and he took a turn for the worse last week and never recovered.

I knew Tom from high school, but I mainly remember him for helping me grow in the Lord after coming to a relationship with God after high school. His sister, Lacy is the first person who seriously tried to witness to me about the Lord. His mom and dad took me under their wing and really helped me understand the ways of God. Tom fell in love and married Jeanmarie who lived in Montgomery, Alabama. I was in their wedding and helped them move to Alabama. They found a home church and invited Brenda and I up to visit after our wedding. We felt like it was the place we were to move to and grow as a family. It was the same church, First Assembly of God in Montgomery, Alabama that I first entered the ministry. His daughter, Kameron, came to Virginia to attend college. While here she became a member of our congregation, and was a delight to know.

I will always remember and cherish our friendship. I am really, really, really sad and am in tears often. I cannot imagine what his family must feel. I owe a lot to him and his influence eternally helped me.

This is the email notification his wife Jeanmarie sent out.

"Dear Precious Friends,

 
 

There is no way to explain the strength that Chandler, Kameron and I and my family and Tom's family have walked in- other than your prayers and His amazing grace.

 
 

Tonight at 8:15, Tom stepped onto streets of gold. He got the best miracle of all. He always said he'd walk again and he is.

 
 

As agonizing as his journey began on May 13,2007, it ended June 23rd in the same manner. Thirteen days of one major physical trauma after another.

 
 

My explanation:  2 Corinthians 4:17

 
 

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. …"


 


 

Let us all keep his family in our thoughts and prayers.

 
 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Abuse

Again, I was abused by narcisstic cyclists as I slog jogged along the W&O.D. Abusers only think of themselves and their Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) manifests itself towards others they view as inferior or unimportant. The sad reality is that when more and more human beings become 'lovers of themselves', the end result is 'perilous times' (2 Tim. 3:1, 2). It is becoming more and more perilous to walk or jog along the W&O.D. because of the increasing number of NPD cyclists. The increased number of people with a NPD, Narcisstic Personality Disorder (http://www.narcissism101.com) that ride their bicycles along the W&O.D. in indicative of the growing numbers of people, who in other settings may be nice, but while in a position of power abuse others they are faster and stronger than. My domesticated red neck self, combined with my Scotch/Irish genetic makeup, combined with my redemption pushes back against NPD abuse. It is for freedom (Gal. 5:1), my redeemed self is pointed towards and NPD abusers like to think they can suck us into their world, but we don't have to go there. NPD cyclist's as described in the article Narcissism 101 states "They no longer see themselves as they are but as superior…" It goes on to say of NPD's "They want to be your god, your master or mistress. " One of the primary reasons so many have chosen to follow Jesus is that He stood and stands in stark contrast to all others, especially NPD's, by being a servant leader (Phil. 2) who humbled himself. Thanks be to God there are Christ like cyclists who humble themselves, slow down, do not force you off the path, or pass by so close to brush up against you, or pass when other cyclists' are coming from the other direction, or just run over you when you are in their way. It is pretty easy to give up ground or to resist violently to NPD's in whatever setting you find them. It is SOOOO much more difficult to walk/jog in love and maintain gentleness in their presence. In addition to the physical exercise I engaged in, I also had the opportunity to exercise the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God for these opportunities.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father’s Day 2010

Thanks be to God, who has caused Brenda and me to triumph over lots of stuff and who gave us an abundantly full Father's Day week end. Here are the highlights.

Saturday morning Brenda ran a Motion for Missions 5k with a friend from church while I and her husband hung out and supported their effort. Came home and cleaned up from a day and a half of working/sweating/praying/listening to recorded lectures at our hunting property in Southern Virginia. Had lunch at a Thai restaurant. Participated in a team building opportunity with others in Children's Ministry at Vienna Assembly of God, (led by my daughter Rachel). Ate dinner with other Cancer Survivors at the Vienna Relay for Life and met and made some more friends among the cancer survivors of our community. Brenda and I walked through the tents after the survivor lap. Came home and relaxed and watched a movie while Brenda bought and began preparing the Father's Day feast. Sunday morning devotions, Sunday School and worship were especially spiritual and made another friend who came for their first visit. Played with Grand kids, watched World Cup Soccer, and ate a gigantic feast. Brenda prepared and grilled three very large sirloin steaks, potatoes, peppers and green beans from the garden, salad and chocolate yum-yum. Dozed during the World Cup, set up sprinkler and slip and slide for the grand kids, played with grand kids, worked with my son-in-law to set the agenda for a board meeting, conversation with family, phone calls to Catherine and Daniel, phone to call to my brother Ray, left message with step-dad wishing a blessed Father's Day, watched a movie, gave and received a foot rub, called it a night and sealed the week end with Brenda and I praying the Lord's prayer.

It is with inexpressible thanks and joy to be welcomed into the community of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and to experientially enjoy the abundant life a relationship with God offers.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Our Position

We all, (or for my southern friends, 'you all') past tense, "have been" crucified with Christ. We have already died to the besetting sin.

Galatians 2:
20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live…

We have already been forgiven of every sin and healed of every disease. We have already died to the inner struggle to do or not do God's will. Our sins, our sin nature, our old man, have already been crucified with Christ.

The work of Christ has already been done, and, all that remains is to enter into that rest. May God help us enter into and receive what has already been provided.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Elevate the Word

A recurring phenomenon is the effect a daily reading of the bible has upon the reader (me). It would seem that random readings would have little effect, but the opposite is true. The bible must be a living, dynamic force or the positive effects couldn't be experienced. Find a plan, any plan, and as you follow it, anyone will experience an uplift. Answers to why this or why that will be revealed. Insights into how to do this or how to do that will come. How to get from where you are to where you want to be will be laid out. The reasons for a current situation whether good or bad will be given. All this in the privacy of your thoughts along with the grace to be forgiven, renewed, re-directed, strengthened, encouraged, convicted, or whatever is needed.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chemotherapy Recovery: Interconnectedness of life

Our lives are a complex combination of intricate body systems, emotional responses, mental processes, spiritual disciplines, relationships, family, community involvement, etc, etc, etc. At any moment in anyone's life one or more of these complexities can be weakened or so strengthened it can throw another system out of alignment. A properly aligned and balanced life only exists in theory. Normal is only a setting on a dryer; it really is never experienced in life. Add to this impossible task of balance and alignment a cancer diagnosis and treatment, one can find themselves struggling just to stay semi sane, sort of sociable and spiritual. (Forgive the alliteration). Meeting one's own expectations of what one expects of life is difficult. Combining with others expectations and of a perception of God's expectations, life can seem anything but the wonderful abundant life that has been promised and experienced in another season of life. Most chemotherapy patients put on our 'happy' face and say we are 'just' fine but at any moment in time one or more of the complex interconnectedness of all the combinations of the intricacies of human life is out of balance in one way or another. When multiple combinations are going astray intersect with relationships and community, hurt feelings and unmet expectations add up to an equation for certain disaster. These threatening storms of life draw us closer to God and others or in some cases away from God and others. Life goes on, with or without us and that fact alone is humbling and staggering. Grass has to be cut, garbage has to be taken out, gutters have to be cleaned, clothes have to be washed, food has to be cooked, employment has to be fulfilled, relationships given to, ministries fulfilled, important dates remembered, and the sheer pace of life can either keep us moving forward or slam us into the side of a mountain. Cancer and chemotherapy treatments never happen in a vacuum of life experiences. Every person has their own life's story and no one's life is normal. James 5 speaks into this interconnectedness of life:

11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (NIV)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chemotherapy Recovery: “I thought it was a toupee!”

Part of my recovery is an act of defiance against the 'bald by chemo' look. With permission from my spouse and congregation, I am joining the growing ranks of people who grow their hair long in order to donate to cancer survivors. Last night after offering the invocation at the Vienna Town Council, I informed the council of the 'shaggy' look's purpose. I was unexpectedly and pleasantly surprised at the laughter and camaraderie that flowed. As I made my way to sit down, a good friend who has served the Town as it's Public Information Officer came to me with a hug and said, "I thought it was a toupee!. The last time I saw you, you were bald!" She then had to pull on it just to confirm to her own mind that it was all natural. She also had to quiz me on how I 'really' was. A month ago at the Potomac District Council, I had a similar experience and another friend had to come up and pull on it just to confirm that it was the real thing. After a Vienna/Tyson's Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting, another good friend, came and told me, "When I saw your hair, I thought to myself, "That is an act of defiance against cancer". I affirmed his discernment. It gives me cause for chuckles, and provides a source of humor for me as I slowly drifted off to sleep. My older and younger brothers are not so blessed and are slowly losing their head of hair. My peers are growing more and more grey headed. I am thankful that only once have I dyed my hair. That was as a senior in high school, I auditioned for and played the lead role in "Dracula" (another story), and my brown hair was dyed black. Other than that, even though I get good natured ribbing from friends, who think otherwise, it's all natural (or maybe a spiritual blessing). I currently have two friends in the midst of chemotherapy, who are losing their hair to the treatment. When mine came out, it was the darkest few hours of the entire season of chemotherapy for me. They seem to be taking it better than I, and though the 'shaggy' look is high maintenance, I grow it in faith and defiance against a disease that has come to way too many people. By God's grace I am receiving life abundant on the other side of chemotherapy, and for me it includes 'abundant' hair. May all who are in the midst of treatments receive God's abundant grace to keep moving forward through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23).