Thursday, April 5, 2012

800 Pound Gorillas

I better understand my anxiety about starting treatment again; it isn't the treatment itself, or the side-effects, rather, it makes this (the relapse) real.

That leads to the 800 pound gorilla.

This isn’t blood work or a biopsy, it's a treatment and it may not be successful.

Then we start again, with the ever present 800 lb. gorilla in the room. What if none of the treatments work? What if I don't go into remission again? What if death is “the next thing”?

I'm not being negative; in fact, I've probably been too cavalier about this relapse and the prognosis for achieving a second remission. But there are no guarantees, and that's true for all of us, today, tomorrow and every day.

So I've been anxious over the last week, but the day has arrived, I will storm the gates and take my medicine (literally & figuratively) and deal with the "next thing" when I arrive at that intersection.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

125 Days

2011 Has been quite a year thus far; I was blessed to spend a few months serving on the reservation in New Mexico and some very interesting things are happening in our family. As often happens in this life, my plans for the rest of this year have been changed, proving yet again we (I) do not control very much at all.

As I caught my breath today (finally) after two really rough days with bronchitis I began yet another assessment and planning for the remainder of this year.

There are 125 days remaining in 2011. I pondered this morning, what if the Creator decided that the next 125 days would determine if and for how long I was allowed to occupy space on His planet?

What would I do, starting today, to demonstrate to God, that I am not just taking up space, that I could make a positive contribution and the world would be a little better for my having lived?

I considered some of the voices that have challenged and inspired me over the years and thought I would share a few not so random thoughts this morning. Some (not all) are Christian thinkers, but all think and look outside of themselves.

Frederick Buechner wrote: "Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid."

(I don't know that it's always the "terrible" things that make us afraid, sometimes it's the beauty. Maybe that is what Marianne Williamson meant in "Return to Love")

‎"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world." - Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

(Of course as Francis Chan points out we must be careful what we wish for and thus accomplish.)

"Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter." - Francis Chan

This is the true joy of life: the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” – George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

We all fall into that category from time to time, but we can and must rise above it and see this gift of life as valuable beyond measure. I am confident in my value, because while I can be a major screw-up at times, my foundation is solid and my "worth" isn't based upon my deeds. My value, my worth is defined by the Creator of all things and He is very clear that I (and you) have great value in His eyes. (Read Matthew 6:25-26)

This is the gospel. The just and loving Creator of the universe has looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent his Son, God in the flesh, to bear his wrath against sin on the cross and to show his power over sin in the Resurrection so that all who trust in him will be reconciled to God forever. - Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (David Platt)

Shalom, and have a fantastic 125 days!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Next Time

I have a favor to ask. Before you go out to lunch, or before you and your spouse go out for dinner and a movie, stop for a moment and pray. 

Ask God if He would have you invest that $20 or $60 or $100 to feed children in Sudan or provide a meal for the homeless in Albuquerque or in your hometown? Maybe you can do both. But if you have to choose, perhaps, just perhaps, this time God would ask you to give to someone who will never be able to thank you this side of heaven. 

Maybe you have been blessed financially and can give much more AND enjoy the niceties of life. Praise God, for all good gifts come from heaven!

Below are a few good choices, but there are of course many, many worthwhile organizations. If you would be interested in knowing more about the Navajo Brethren In Christ Mission in New Mexico, feel free to contact me, we would love to share with you what God is doing here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Month

Wow, one month in and it has gone so very fast. So I have learned a few things in this time, and it may sound cliché, but they are true.

First, the world is much smaller than we think. I find myself thinking about and praying for nations and people I never really thought of before. 

Secondly, what we share in common is much greater than what separates us. In our sweat yesterday I read from Acts 17:26-28:
‘From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

God Himself determines our times & our places.

Third, and perhaps most significant, I am discovering this is changing me perhaps more than the people I am ministering with. I understood the failings of the past and appreciate the efforts of the brothers and sisters here to not repeat those same mistakes.

We read about “relational evangelism” and “contextual ministry” and this is, in my understanding of the Gospel, the very method that the Master used in teaching the people about God. This particular phase in the journey is just beginning, but it has already taught me so much and for that I am grateful.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Forgive Them Father, but Search Me First

You know what’s easy? Praying for and loving those who are kind to you. It’s even easy to pray for those who have wounded you, especially when you know they are in bondage and pain. I am struggling to pray for those on the sideline who are cheering and mocking.

The Master experienced this and sought God: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

I don’t want to pray like that; not really. Truth be known I want to pray as David did:

O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth; Break out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord. - Psalms 58:6

O that Thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed. For they speak against Thee wickedly, And Thine enemies take Thy name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate Thee, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against Thee? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies. - Psalms 139:19-22

Now THOSE are prayers I can get behind! Get ‘em God, did you see what they did to me, I mean what they did to You?

I sense that is what was on David’s heart; he had been wronged and betrayed. And despite his failings, he truly wanted to please God, to honor his King. But when he was wounded and scared he wanted God to vindicate him and destroy his enemies.

I find it so valuable to see what the Holy Spirit guides David to write just moments later:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. - Psalms 139:23-24

So before I pray for the Creator to destroy my enemies, before I seek my own vindication, I will first ask Him to search me, to know my heart and if there is any hurtful way in my heart (and there is), to purge this and to lead me in His way.

I will pray as Jesus did on the night He was betrayed, nevertheless Lord, not my will, but Yours be done. Then, and only then, can I pray, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It Has Already Been Said, But Bears Repeating

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. 

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

Acts 17:22-31 (NIV)

This is the Good News of Jesus Christ:
"The just and loving Creator of the universe has looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent His Son, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross and to show His power over sin in the Resurrection so that all who trust in Him will be reconciled to God forever." - from "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream" by David Platt

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Prayer and a New Year's Resolution

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13
I am not one for making “New Year’s Resolutions” per se; sure there are goals to meet and tasks to accomplish and the beginning of a new year is a great time to inventory and start anew. That said, losing weight, exercise more, make more money etc. they tend to be as Mary Poppins said “That's a pie crust promise; easily made, easily broken!”
So I avoid making these proclamations, instead I strive to improve, to “be” better than I was last year or yesterday. This year however I am making a New Year’s resolution, a desperate prayer if you will:
I resolve to be more loving, kinder, to put an end to the harsh and hurtful words and to ask God to bring my tongue into submission. I know I cannot do this on my own, but I know that with God ALL things (even my boastful & arrogant tongue) can be transformed.
The apostle James wrote:
“but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” – James 3:8-10