Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Post from Susan

"In Christ alone, who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless babe. This gift of love and righteousness…"

Merry Christmas!
We are so grateful to be celebrating Christmas this year with health and wholeness, and after the events of 2009, we have a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the gifts of health and life.
Our children are doing well and this year is one of firsts for all of them. Luke started high school and driving this year. Drew spent a semester abroad at the University of Edinburgh studying chemical engineering, playing basketball for the university, and traveling in Europe on long weekends. Newt and I visited him for a week together in Paris and Scotland. Zach is a senior this year and applying and receiving acceptances to attend college. He wants to study broadcast journalism/communications. Jensen started middle school this year as a fifth grader and began competing in equestrian and jumping events this summer. She will be baptized this Sunday.

Eight months after Newt was first misdiagnosed with pancreatic cancer and four months after his last chemo treatment and more prayers for us than we know, Newt’s lymphoma is gone and his chest and pancreas are clear. This month his doctor has officially pronounced him in remission and Lord willing, the lymphoma will not return. As you can imagine, we are overflowing with thankfulness for God’s mercy and deliverance.

In the months since Newt has had cancer, we have heard and experienced other stories of God’s hand of mercy, deliverance, and rescue. The Bible is replete with them as well and none so compelling as the Christ-mas story of God coming to earth wrapped in flesh. God sent us His Son so that in His mercy each of us could be rescued from death as we trust Him to be our Savior. This is the ultimate story of hope and healing and salvation and the reality that is a certainty for all eternity. It is for this deliverance, this rescue, that we praise God most. Our joy in Newt’s physical healing is great, but our joy in God’s gift of salvation is immeasurable!

We pray that you too find joy in the good gifts that God has given this Christmas and in those He has for you in 2010. May your hope, like ours, be in Christ alone.

With much love to you all~

Newt, Susan, Drew, Zach, Luke and Jensen Crenshaw

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Latest Health Upate

Dear Friends and Family,

About two weeks ago I had a PET scan which was scheduled three months after my last treatment in late August. The results were completely clear, continuing to reveal that the cancer remains gone.

My oncologist indicated during a visit the following week that I was officially "in remission".

This was the news we have all been praying for, and I want to thank you for your continued prayers on my behalf. I certainly have felt God's hand upon me during the past weeks and months and am confident that he has healed me. The process of recovery happens one step at a time, and this latest step of a clean PET scan three months post treatment is an important one.

It has taken me a few days to process this last bit of news. I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace that comes from knowing I am in good Hands. As I approach the Christmas holidays, I am reflecting in a new way on the meaning of the incarnation, that God became man in the form of a baby. I am also reflecting on how God wants to use this experience of cancer in my life. Please pray for eyes to see, ears to hear and the courage to follow. I am confident that God does not waste these experiences on his children.

I hope and pray your holidays are blessed, and that you are moved to be a blessing in others' lives, as you have been to me through your prayers and kind thoughts.

In Christ alone,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

. . . all this talk of PEACE

Dear Friends and Family,

Recently in the media, we have been served up an interesting discussion about peace: President Obama's acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, the continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the military's plan for victory and withdrawal, speculation about the next steps in the war on terrorism, strife and tribal warfare in Africa, and of course early talk of Christmas peace, or mostly the lack thereof due to busy schedules, joblessness, and poor consumer spending.

All this talk of peace seems to be hardwired into the human condition because of the constant presence of war and strife. I just finished an informative biography of Sir Winston Churchill by Roy Jenkins where he chronicled Churchill's decisive role in WWII as the wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain. One his most telling observations was the birth of the next war (i.e. the cold war) which came even before the Allied Powers were declaring victory and bringing peace in their current struggle with Nazi Germany and the Axis Powers. Churchill rightly saw this next bipolar struggle coming which would dominate the latter half of the 20th century.

Peace was a big theme at the first Christmas, and also before Jesus' death. Luke indicates it was part of the angel's chorus to the lowly shepherds - "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased" (Luke 2:14) . Some thirty-three years later, peace was the topic of discussion between Jesus and his inner-circle of followers - "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)

This desire for peace clearly has more than one aspect to it. On a grand human scale it is the elusive pursuit of the absence of war. On an interpersonal level it is the absence of strife and conflict in our relationships. On a spiritual level, the angels indicated it had something to do with God being pleased with us. Jesus also seemed to indicate that peace was other-worldly and a gift from Him, bringing calm, not fear, to our souls.

To me, these various aspects of peace seem to be deeply connected. Just as the scientific and philosophic rule called Occam's Razor, when applied to medicine, calls for the simplest diagnosis and assumes that various symptoms of disease may somehow be connected, so too we should assume our lack of peace, our dis-ease if you will, has a common root cause.

While it may be tempting to focus our treatment on political solutions between nations - and we should - or psychological strategies for interpersonal harmony - and we should - those solutions and strategies would likely only be temporary "pain killers" or "band-aids" treating the symptoms, not the cause.

No, our dis-ease and lack of peace requires more basic and targeted medicine, because the root cause is imbedded in our human genetic make-up. We have faulty hearts. They are faulty not in the physical sense of muscle contractions, electrical impulses or valve operation, but in the sense of our deepest life-directing impulses, motivations and affections.

We need more than a list of rules, more than a contrived state of detachment from our physical existence, more than an evolutionary prescription for overcoming our self-focused survival -of-the-fittest instincts, more than psycho-analysis to reconcile our id and superego, more than a new Porsche at 1.9% interest rate or a new iPod Nano or the latest in designer clothes. We need more than weekly counseling sessions or self-help recommendations from Oprah or Dr. Phil. We need more than a Nobel Peace Prize, a new majority in congress, or a peace accord with the Taliban and a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or even Osama Bin Laden brought to justice.

(I must admit all those things would be nice - especially the Porsche and Bin Laden - but they would still fall woefully short.)

We need new hearts. We need a heart surgeon of the other-worldly kind. Maybe He's the One the angels were singing about all those years ago. Maybe that's what Jesus meant when he said:

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many rooms. . . And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth. . . He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14:1,2,16,17,26.

Maybe that's what all the Christmas celebration is supposed to be about.

The prophet Isaiah had it right several hundred years before the angels sang it out:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of PEACE. Of the increase of his government and of PEACE there will be no end. . ." Isaiah 9:6,7

May that "increase" start in our hearts this season and re-make and re-direct our impulses, motivations and affections, bringing us peace with God and our fellow man.

In Christ (the other-worldly heart surgeon) alone,