Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2 days to 1/2 time

Dear Friends and Family,

I have two days until my 3rd treatment, which will be the half way mark.

I am thankful for and humbled by the constant reminder of God's goodness through the faithful prayers of so many.

I am rejoicing with a friend, Ken Knipp, who just had a clean PET scan after his battle with non-hodgkins lymphoma! God is faithful. I am borrowing a practice that Ken, the head of all training for Young Life, started during his treatment. He would wear hats that were sent to him to cover up his "bare wood" (see last post) and take pictures of them to send out. Ken sent me a Young Life Frontier hat which I am wearing in my profile picture on my blog. Thanks, Ken!

Here's a shout out (or, blog out) to all you Young Lifers out there! Keep serving, praying, giving and loving this amazing ministry that brings the good news of Jesus Christ to young people all around the world. May God richly bless you and your work for his kingdom.

In Christ alone,


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bare Wood

Bare Wood

I am only bare wood.

All the varnish has been rubbed off;

The stain has been stripped away.

The knots, that were once branches,

Have all been sanded down.

As painful as it has been,

It has somehow been cleansing,

Less covered by the layers of living

Which masquerade

As part of my wood.

"Not so", said the Carpenter,

"I have new purposes

For your wood.

Aged, cured, seasoned with time,

You show true colors and original grain."

"My purposes will be clear

As you fit into this new piece

I am now building.

Let the chemicals strip,

The awl cut, the paper sand."

"Let go of the covering

Not essentially yours.

Release the past stains,

No longer the right patina.

Submit to my well trained hands."

"Remember that I chose you from

The pile of used planks,

Though I could have left you untouched,

Lying there satisfied

With your station in life."

"Yes, I have chosen you because

You are still in need of re-making.

I have a plan that includes you,

But first you must become

Bare wood."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fixing our Hubble Telescopes

Dear Friends and Family,

As you can see by my new picture below, I have opted for the hairless approach and shaved my head due to the side effects of the chemo causing my hair to begin to fall out. Despite my new look, all went well at my recent treatment. Thankfully, my blood counts were back to normal, and I was able to receive the drugs without any serious side effects again. Thank you for continuing to pray that the cancer will be totally eradicated. I mistakenly mentioned that I would have a CT scan after my third treatment, but it will actually be after my fourth treatment in mid-July. I am hopeful that I will be cancer free at that point, and the last two planned treatments will only be for prophylactic purposes.

I suppose everyone has heard of the Hubble telescope that is taking the most astounding pictures of outer space while it orbits the earth. Here is the link to the official gallery of photos:  http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/. Recently, I was reading in the paper and listening on the radio about the need to do some serious maintenance on the Hubble as it has been in orbit for a number of years. Astronauts from NASA were sent up to do the repairs and had to wrestle with stuck bolts and changing basic equipment, much like we might do on our cars on the weekend, except of course they were orbiting the earth in zero gravity atmosphere wearing full space suits while working on a machine that likely cost 100's of millions of dollars.

I was also talking with a professional acquaintance of mine this past week, and we were reflecting on mankind's interest in "the beyond", things which are outside of our known existence, like outer space. This interest in "the mysterious" is built deep into our human psyche and extends to the spiritual realm and the existence of God. While there is much we know about God - through nature, the cosmos, our own humanity which bears God's image and certainly through his revealed word in the Bible - God is still set apart from our complete comprehension. He is wholly other, and his ways can be inscrutable.

I also happened to be reading in the Bible this past week in the gospel according to Luke. Luke, a physician, provides a careful and focused account of God breaking into time and space through an alien-messenger sent to two chosen people. The alien's name was Gabriel, an angel who "stands in the presence of God" (Luke 1:19). He was sent to a man named Zechariah and to a woman named Mary. Although the news was good (two history-altering sons were to be born to them), Zechariah and Mary were both initially troubled and fearful (Luke 1:12, 29, 30). 

Zechariah's Hubble-like perception of the alien being needed a bit of adjusting, however. He did not quite comprehend exactly WHO he was talking to, since it is not everyday we humans are visited by the archangel who attends the Creator of the Cosmos. His insolent question of "How will I know this?" in response to Gabriel's message earned him the privilege of being mute for  the rest of his wife's pregnancy with John the Baptist. Mary, on the other hand, was faith-filled and merely asked "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" (1:34), and later stated, "let it be to me according to your word" (1:38).

Like our physical Hubble, do our spiritual Hubble telescopes need some adjustments or updates? Is our resolution of the mysteries of God and life a bit fuzzy? Are there a few stuck bolts that need to be loosened so that we can stop asking "how will I know?", and instead start saying "let it be unto me according to your word"?

God is trying to break through to each of us, using various means - images of the vast beyond of space, relationships with loving friends and family, sickness and suffering, possibly even a visit from an angel. Are we tuned in to his images? Are we picking up his frequency?

Chances are - if you are seeing his images clearly - they are pointing you to Mary's son, Jesus. In fact, that was Zechariah's son's main calling in life, to herald the life of Jesus Christ. Gabriel, the awesome and fearful alien, told Mary that her son Jesus "would be great and called the Son of the Most High. . . and of his kingdom there would be no end." (Luke 1:32,33) The apostle Paul later called this same Jesus the "the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. . . For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by his blood on the cross". (Colossians 1:15,16,19,20)

It might be worth pondering Gabriel's and Paul's words as you check out the Hubble pictures. He created the heavens; he created us. He wants to bring reconciliation and peace in our lives and in all creation. Humbling. Exciting. "How will this be. . . let it be unto me."

In Christ alone,


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Round 2

Dear Friends and Family,

I am ready for round two today. I have recovered from the fatigue that the last round brought. Thank you for your continued prayers for healing. I am confident the medicine is working as I am beginning to experience other predicted side effects, such as hair loss. I got a "buzz" this past week, and a clean shave is not too far off.

I am working on my Telly Savalas imitations - "Who loves you, baby"?

I finished Lance Armstrong's biography "My Journey Back" about his fight with and victory over testicular cancer. It was inspiring even if we have different ideas about God and our spiritual reality. He said in the end that "pain is temporary, but quitting stays with you".

Please pray that the medicine does its work. I am looking forward to a clear CT scan after my third round later this month. Thank you again for your prayers and concern. It means a lot to me and my family.

In Christ alone,