Monthly Archives: June 2014

Medical Update – June 2014



Some folk like to know, so from time we post a medical update on my Leukemia recovery. Fourteen months after transplant and a year and a half since this journey began, the doctors are exceedingly pleased with my progress and not at all concerned with what seems to me a long recovery time.  Most of my blood counts are returning to low normal range with a handful of ones still struggling. The medical team seems especially pleased that I’ve had no fevers or hospitalizations. (Thank you God!)


I was glad to get 3 more ‘baby’s” vaccines, including DPT. I may get one more in August; maybe some of the live vaccines next spring if my immune recovers enough by then. They are hesitant on giving live vaccines even then as there is a 50/50 chance of contracting the disease. Along with the ‘baby’ stuff, I continue to require my preschooler naps to contend with lack of strength and endurance, though that too is slowly improving.


I had completely underestimated the impact of the disease on my body and the time it would take to recover. They say it is common to take 2+ years to recover from this type of Leukemia and transplant operation… or to find your new ‘subnormal.’  The seriousness of the transplant is deceptive because the infusion of stem cells was so routine; it seemed just like one of my 30 some blood transfusions. (Thanks everyone who give blood on a regular basis. It really DOES save lives!) But the process of destroying your entire immune system <think Galatians 2:20 and 2 Corinthians 5:17> is a major deal. It’s a journey of enduring patience and trust.


As good as all the reports are, they want to continue to keep close reins on me. So no letting up on the frequency of labs and treatments or the current med regime to keep Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) at bay.  I will also continue regular pulmonary treatments to reduce the chance of lung infection.


I’ll have to manage the fine line between exertion and rest in order to regain strength and endurance. I’m trying to work on regaining mental acuity and concentration, but that is a harder row to hoe. The ‘cancer brain’ continues to pose some cognitive issues…hopefully I will grow out of these. (I suspect some of you thought I was a bit brain-damaged BEFORE all this happened!)


God is good all the time, and we are pleased to wait on His perfect plan in and through all of this. Isn’t that true of each of us, whatever journey we are on?!  I am not remiss in remembering the pain others are going through. Except my friend Bob who lost his AML transplant battle recently. Now in heaven, he is doing better than ALL of us! Please pray for his dear wife, Betty.  Thanks for your continued prayers.


Live life fully each day while time remains!



An overcomer has hope




Got hope?


Say it with me:


I am an overcomer and more than a conqueror.


I have nothing to fear.


God is with me so who can be against me?


I am a child of the one and only true King who loves me with an everlasting love.


I can press on and have hope because my God is always faithful.






Are you an overcomer?



Nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37


One of the songs from the Civil Rights movement still rings in my mind:

“We shall overcome, We shall overcome
We shall overcome someday
Deep in my heart I do believe
We shall overcome someday.

We shall live in peace, we shall live in peace
We shall live in peace someday.

Deep in my heart I do believe
We shall overcome someday.”

For me, the song is about more than civil rights; it was about overcoming the oppression inside each one of us; to get beyond struggling against difficulties and disadvantages.  Do YOU want to be an overcomer? Do you want to conquer your fears and frustrations? Do you want to break out of whatever difficulties are holding you prisoner?


God’s Word says that we ARE overcomers.  How can that be possible? Can we rid ourselves of pain and remove ourselves from sorrow? Can we guarantee our success in all ventures? No, but we can rise above our circumstances. Though they remain around us, they don’t have to remain within us.  We break free of the oppression of our circumstances by standing firm in God’s presence and in belief that His Word is true; that He WILL complete that which He has started in us, that He will NEVER abandon us (no matter how we feel at the time); He WILL give you a supernatural peace if you will just claim it. He can promise these things because He already has overcome the world. It may not seem like it in this present chapter of our history, but His Story has been written; and in the end, GOD WINS! Isn’t it time to start being the overcomer you are meant to be?


“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus in John 16:33



How determined are you to win your race?

Paul writes, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) It is our calling too, you and me.  I don’t know about you but a lot of the time that race seems like a marathon or a triathlon. Ironically, those human challenges, while impossible for me in my condition, are minor endeavors compared to the race of life that you can and must run; it is much longer and sometimes more grueling. It’s a race where I’ve fallen down numerous times. You too? It can be easy to get discouraged in those times. The feeling of giving up is strong. But we can’t give up. We have to press on. We have to get up and keep on running.


Why? First, we are commanded. The only thing we are told to do once we put on the armor of God is to stand and stay standing, praying at all times in all things. You might not be the strongest warrior, the fastest runner, the most talented at anything, but you can stand. The promise of God attests to it.


Second, it’s worth it. There is a reward at the end of the race. Matthew writes, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 


Never give up. Keep running your race. Jesus gave you His Spirit to make sure you can endure! Trust Him.




Expecting God’s presence



If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there. Psalm 139:8


Have you ever been in a situation and later realized that God was present?


Jacob came to the same conclusion that he had been in God’s presence. After stealing his brother’s blessing Jacob had a dream of a stairway reaching from earth to heaven and angels ascending and the promise of God that all of earth would be blessed by his descendants. “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”” Genesis 28:16


We shouldn’t be surprised. David concluded: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Psalm 139:8). Paul concluded that there is nothing nor any place that can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8).


What if instead of finding ourselves thankfully surprised by God’s presence in our lives, we decided to live by inviting and expecting Him to show up – just as He promised? Not in the sense of Him stepping in to prevent us from any discomfort that might come our way, but in expecting that the God who sent his Son and offers us His Spirit, will indeed be with us wherever we go. Before Jacob’s dream would be realized, he would he would face much trouble. But in the end, God’s promise was fulfilled. And it will be with us too. Jesus said to His followers, “I am with you always. I will send you a counselor.” Regardless of our circumstance, we can claim that same promise.


Instead of leaving God at the end of your morning devotional, go with Him throughout the day. I wonder how many reasons you can find to thank Him throughout the day. Expect His presence to guide you and usher you into his peace, whatever circumstances you face.

Enduring hope



“Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.” Psalm 42:5 NASV


Do you ever talk to yourself? It can be a healthy thing to do, especially when you find your feelings are at odds with what you know to be truth. You feel like giving up but you know better to press on. You feel all alone but you know that God will never leave you. You feel unloved and yet you know the lover of your soul is always faithful.


David talked with himself to convince his turbulent and noisy soul to listen to his spirit which was aligned with God. You see, we are made of three parts: body, soul, and spirit. And these three components don’t always concur with one another. They have to be coaxed along to get in line with the truth. The body wants junk food; the emotional soul agrees saying, “You deserve it.” The spirit speaks truth. The body complains about being always tired or hurting. The spirit says to put your eyes on God, press on. The soul questions whether it is worth it. The soul says, “I’m depressed, discouraged, downcast.” The body quickly agrees. The spirit says, “Remember your God and put your hope in Him. He is always faithful. Even when it seems He has abandoned you, He is still with you. His love never ever fails. Praise Him, not just for the relief from despair. Praise Him for the help of His presence. He will guide you through the paths you have not traveled before; He knows the way. (Psalm 73:24)


Our part is to choose to endure with hope and with thanks, in trouble, hardship, and distress, in sorrow and poverty. Though we have nothing, yet we possess everything. (2 Cor. 6:4,10)


Put your enduring hope in who God is, not just in what He can do. Live a life marked by his great faithfulness.


“Through Jesus therefore let us continue to offer to God a sacrifice of praise.” Hebrews 13:15



Abundant life



We went out early to start harvesting the Nanking cherries. Loaded with tasty red berries, they will bring an abundant crop for making jelly. It will take a while to pick them all as the ones in the shade ripen more slowly than the ones in the sunlight.


Isn’t that the way it is with us? The more we are exposed to God’s light, the better we develop and mature; the more we mature, the more abundant our life becomes. Jesus says that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy but He has come to give us abundant life.


What is this abundant life? Is it one filled with the blessings of good health, riches, lots of friends, property, fame, and success? Sometimes, these do come to the faithful; we see plenty of examples of such temporary fruit bestowed upon the unfaithful too. As satirist Mark Twain observed: the rain falls on both the just and the unjust as does the sunshine. So where is the real abundant life found?


A Russian engineer discovered this one evening. Marci had been tutoring his wife, a physicist, in speaking English and we had been invited to their home. After supper we started talking about life in Russia and life in the USA. When I asked him about the church in Russia, he proudly announced that he was an atheist scientist and that he believed only in what he could see and touch. I told him how my relationship with Jesus had impacted my daily and eternal life. He responded, “There is one thing you Christians have that we atheists do not have; you have real hope.”


In a moment of light, he grasped the essence of truth without clinging to it himself. Real hope in God’s unending love and in the constant peace of His presence is the essence of abundant life.


“The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear (respect) Him and those whose hope is in His unfailing love.” Psalm 33:18 This is real hope, fortified by the awareness that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Our hope is in the God who calls us by name and who promises that he will be with us when we pass through the floods; that when we walk through the fire the flames will not destroy us. (Isaiah 43:1-2) This is the same God who promises peace that transcends all understanding and peace at ALL times. (Phil. 4:7, 2 Thess. 3:16)


This hope for the moment, day, life now and life eternal – this real hope is the center of abundant life, life lived to the full with purpose and passion. Aren’t you tired of the enemy stealing, killing, and destroying your joy and your hope? Rest in the abundant life Jesus promises today.


“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus in John 10:10

You are a delight to God



Delight in the one who delights in you.


Being a light-bearer raises the bar for all fully devoted followers of Jesus. Even during the challenge of running the race we need to maintain a perspective of who we are – from God’s point of view.


“Jesus loves me this I know” – we’ve been taught it from the beginning but do you believe it today? “For God so loved (insert your name here; also the name of someone who irritates you) that He gave his only begotten Son.” “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him – in those who hope in His steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:11) “He will rejoice over you with gladness.” (Zephaniah 3:17) “He brought me out into a broad place – he rescued me, because he delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:19) And the list goes on and on.


It’s official: God loves you and delights in you. How can that be when we have so very many shortcomings? It is because God sees us as redeemed and made holy by the forgiving grace of His Son. As John Piper relates, “He sees us becoming in practice what we (already) are positionally in Christ.” Believe it or not, God loves you dearly. Put your troubles at the feet of that truth!


Such an affirmation of our worth, our value to God could be a dangerous thing. We could (but better not) let our egos get puffed up and say, “Look who God loves.” It is a popular “me-centered gospel” preached too often today: ‘God delights in you and wants to favor you with all kinds of (materialistic) blessings.’ The truth is that God does delight in you but His favor may be evidenced by the hardships that draw you ever closer to Him.


The best choice of how to respond to God’s amazing expression of love for us is to delight in Him. “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Psalm 63:3. We are created to delight in God and to enjoy Him more than anything else. We are made to seek His presence throughout the rough parts of life and the mundane as well as the mountaintop experiences of great joy. It is our primary purpose.


Delight in God, not just in His blessings. Delight in Him for who He is, not just what He has done. Even if nothing else is going ‘your way’, fill your day with your delight in Him who delights in us!


“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2



Are things going your way or God’s way?



Your way… Or Yahweh?


Admit it. You really like it when things go your way, don’t you? Me too. After a long arduous climb, it’s nice to take a rest on the mountain top and survey the beauty of the land around you. Whether it is friends and family getting along, finances sufficient to pay for your needs and some of your wants, good health, a beautiful day on your day off, a cool breeze on a hot day…it’s just nice when everything works out, isn’t it?


But that’s not always the way it goes. I read a Facebook prayer request the other day that caught my attention. The person was saying they really needed prayers because “things really aren’t going my way lately.” In a rather insensitive moment, I thought to myself, “Welcome to the club. Life isn’t designed to always go our way.” I think the first chapter of Warren’s Purpose Driven Life book is called “It’s not about you!” And still, we often expect that things will go our way. In fact we spend much of our life attempting to achieve just that.


The cartoon above shows the sojourner, a man just like you and me, standing at the crossroads of “Your way” and “Yahweh” (God’s way; good word play.) That’s just where you and I are every single day, and many times throughout the day. Making choices of which way we will go, deciding to say this or that, to mark our thoughts with nobility or with pride. Oh for sure, we aren’t always aware of the choice. We are so good at acting as creatures of habit, we go through much of life in a doze and on ‘autopilot.’ Like the old nursery song we need to ask, “Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, brother John?” Feel free to insert your own name. I have when I have found myself sleeping through parts of life.


What are we to do at such times? Wake up. Let the light of God shine on you and rouse you from your sleepiness. “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:14  Choose YAHWEH/God’s way through the day. Even if it’s difficult it will surpass your way.