Tag Archives: Galatians 2:20

Are you a new creation?


It seems a common plight that many ask Jesus to save them but don’t surrender their lives totally to his authority. It’s like asking to be under the protection of the army but not wanting to submit to its requirements. Or signing up to join your country’s army but actually fighting for the enemy. We want to be saved from hell and yet keep living as we did before. Asking Jesus into our lives means asking him to be our Savior AND our Lord. We tend to resist his lordship because we think we can handle our own life pretty well.


The Navigator’s Topical Memory System, starts with a category called “Christ the Center.” If we want Jesus to protect and provide for us, he can’t merely reside on the fringes of our life. To experience the fullness of his power, we need him to be in the center of our life, over all our activities, ambitions and desires. The first verse, 2 Corinthians 5:17, is central to the Christian life:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come.”


It’s a basic verse for new believers that continues to challenge mature believers. “A new creation” bears the image of the total transformation we see in a caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly. If you look at a caterpillar next to a butterfly, you’d have to admit they look and act completely differently. So should our lives as Christians look and act different from our life before Christ.


Or think of it in the context of marriage. Before marriage, there was “you” and “me,” two separate beings. But once you’ve committed to a lifetime marriage there is a new creation called “us.” And at the top of our priority list is preserving and nurturing “us” according to God’s plan. “We” is different than “you and me.”


Let’s look at the second verse, Galatians 2:20:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”


Can you imagine yourself on the cross next to Jesus, enduring the same pain as you were crucified with him? And yet this seems to required of the “new creation.” It’s not just matter of becoming a better Christian by our own effort. It’s dying to self in order for Christ to live in us. Returning to the illustration of the caterpillar, the creature that crawls into the cocoon is totally transformed as one part becomes an antennae, another wings, All the parts of the old creation are crucified or utterly put to death in order for the new creation to take life and fly to new heights.


I thought of this illustration as I  suffered through a harsh chemotherapy treatment that “crucified” my old immune system, the core element of my life, in order to receive a stem cell transplant that would change my DNA from B+ blood to O+ and allow me the chance for new life. The old was gone the new had come. My donor’s blood, the essence of his being, had come to reside in my body for as long as I live. And so Jesus comes to live in our body for as long as we live, in the form of his Holy Spirit.


He lives in the body and heart of every Christian. It’s his authority and over us that transforms us into a new creation. Try as we like we simply cannot achieve it in our own wisdom and power. The question is whether we submit to his authority or not. Living without the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit is very much like a child trying to join a fierce battle without the guiding influence of the commanding officer.


Are you a new creation depending daily on the power of the Spirit in all aspects of your life? Or are you desperately throwing punches at the air, trying to go it alone?  Simply ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you and help you to listen to his voice. Find the peace and victory of being a new creation in Christ.




The gates of life


Dan Stone uses the analogy of passing through various ‘gates’ as we walk the path of a Christian life. First, is the gate of salvation. We don’t even make it that far until we admit that we have a sin problem that we can’t solve. We try to pass through by our own strength, our good deeds, our ‘religious’ behavior, our generosity, or by being a ‘good’ person. But none of this works. We only pass through the gate of salvation by surrendering all that we are and trusting in Jesus.


As we continue our journey through life, we begin to explore the meaning of life. Beyond the forgiveness of our sins (which we might forget is such a very huge deal!), we try to live a ‘good’ Christian life still in our power. We read the bible, we pray, we attend church and give money for good causes. We exhaust ourselves trying to ‘be good.’ And then we come across a second gate where we really experience “God with us.” We pass through this gate, realizing that Jesus really does want to help us through the battles of life. It’s a weight off our shoulders to know that we’re not alone in our struggles. So we continue our journey of trying to live the Christian life…with God.


Now there is a third gate that remains undiscovered by many. It only appears when we realize that we can’t live the Christian life. We pass through this gate when we acknowledge that Jesus doesn’t merely help us live our life, Jesus IS our life. “Christ is in you and HE will live the life.” Instead of viewing life from our perspective, we are able to experience life and its purpose through the viewpoint of Jesus living in us. As we pass through this third gate we realize what the inscription means:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)


Many of us understand why we have to pass through the first gate. We realize there is no other way to escape our sin problem, no forgiveness of sin at all, without the saving grace of Jesus. And as we devote ourselves to knowing our Heavenly Father we eagerly pass through the second gate, inviting God to help us on our journey. But we hesitate at the third gate, if in fact we think about it at all. Because this part of the journey requires total surrender into God’s hands of all we hold dear: our belongings, our career, our family, in fact our very identity. It requires dying to self, letting self be “crucified with Christ”. We think maybe we could just try harder to live the Christian life in our own power. But it’s both futile and exhausting to attempt it.


We don’t walk the Christian life. Jesus-in-us IS the life. Living with Him is not enough. The abundant life is only found by letting HIM live our life – in us. “Christ in you the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)


“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” John 14:6



Nutrition for your soul


The bible is meant to be bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions.


The prophet Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to find that the house of God, the holy place of worship, had not been properly cared for. With great zeal he asked the people, “Why is the house of God neglected?” (Nehemiah 13:11)


In old testament times, the people regarded their place of worship as the residence of God and were to treat it with great reverence. But Jesus changed things when He gave us His Spirit to live in us. I no longer live but Christ lives in me; Christ in me the hope of glory (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27). Now we are the temples of God, not the brick and mortar buildings, if His Spirit lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Doesn’t it follow that we should take care of that temple? The physical body, yes, but as important, our soul and spirit?


I like cake, especially our traditional family chocolate birthday cake. It is as rich as it is tasty, so we save it for special occasions. But bread (regular or gluten-free) is more of a staple for the every day diet. Just as food is nutrition to the body, so is the Word of God nutrition to our soul.


Is the Word a mainstay of your daily diet? A sure way to stave off spiritual weakness is to make sure it is! And as for me, I like to eat at least three times each day. Don’t you think our spiritual beings need as much nutrition?


“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8



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!



God’s glory gives light

Have you ever noticed how suffering has a way of stripping away the layers of who you think you are, to reveal who you really are inside?  Who I am as a man, as a leader, as a provider for my family – a father, husband, grandfather – a contributor to my church, an influencer of others for the kingdom of Christ… All these have changed, some in small ways, others more significantly, through the journey of Leukemia. This is good when it involved surrender to God and being molded in His image. But there is also a certain grieving of the journey from Gal 2:20 and 2 Cor 5:17. It seems we carry so many labels and hold some of these dearly close to us. Some aspects of these need to be stripped away. The remainder all need to be submissive to the one label of God’s child, devoted follower of Jesus.


Lately, I am reflecting on the glory of God filling his temple (2 Chron. 5:14 and many other verses). I think on 1 Cor 3:16 (and others) where we are reminded that we ourselves are the temple of God. It follows of course, that His glory should fill us, that others should see his glory when they observe our lives, filled with his presence.


It is like the story of the little girl who asked her mother, “Is it true that when we ask Jesus into our life that He lives in our heart?” The mother replied, “Well yes dear, that is right.” “And isn’t He the light of the world?” the girl continued. “Yes, that is true,” replied the mom. “Then shouldn’t others see Him shine through us?” the girl asked. Out of the mouth of babes comes a truth for us. Some extent of the glory of God should be revealed through us if His Son lives in us.


This label of glory-filled-holiness is a worthy (and daunting) one to consider.  It is our true identity that no one and no circumstance can strip away unless we let it.  It is a banner we can only carry by continual surrender to Christ in us, the hope of glory. When He carries this banner others can see Him…in us.


What other identity rivals this one? Let God’s glory shine in and through your day. For the glory of God gives light!

A Reflection on Six Months with Leukemia

Six months ago today I received an 8:00 a.m. phone call from my hematologist. His conversation opened with three words: “You have Leukemia.” I remember thinking that couldn’t be but Leukemia it was, and later revealed to be the 12th diagnosis of this particular form of Leukemia in the world, meaning we were entering unknown territory.

What followed in this unexpected journey was an adventure I would not have chosen, but also one which would reveal truths and blessings I could not have discovered on any other path. Through the various pains that come with treatment of this rare chromosomal condition, I achieved first remission of the cancer at the end of January (Four months cancer-free now!).

In March, I made the toughest decision of my life. After challenging the doctors on every front, I was finally convinced that even though I was in remission, this particular cancer was so aggressive that it would most certainly return unless I had a stem cell transplant, which required a higher dose and level of chemo drugs which would also bring about my greater challenges. And so Galatians 2:20 has become very personal to me (“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”) I had to completely kill my immune system and my DNA before I knew if the donor cells would successfully engraft in my body. While aware of the spiritual implications of a born again believer being such an imperfect host for the Spirit of Christ, I now had to face the reality of being a completely vulnerable host to my donor’s new cells. Where I had surrendered (oh so imperfectly) my identity to Jesus, I was now surrendering my DNA identity and very physical survival to this new donor process.

There are no guarantees but two months later, the process seems to be going exceptionally well. Yes, one infection can set it all back; even become an end-of-game scenario. But we sincerely believe –and are planning on – continuing the ministry God will grant us for other twenty or more years, including a delayed return to Bolivia for full-time missions.

It’s been a hard enough battle and one I would not want to repeat, though probably mild in comparison to some other’s struggles. But I have come to be thankful for the cancer that has brought me to experience the powerful truths of God’s Word. What I accepted in faith before has been tested and found to be true in very practical ways:

  • His grace IS sufficient for me.
  • His strength IS revealed in my weakness.
  • His mercy IS new every single morning.
  • His presence in me IS able to calm me even as the storm rages within me.
  • I CAN overcome the challenges of life if I am truly a new creation.

TODAY can be different. You don’t have to have a major life crisis to change your path and pursue a full and meaningful life. What challenges are you ready to turn over to God, once and for all and pursue a relationship with Him that allows you to trust Him more?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Crucified With Christ Day T-3

We are discussing the relationship of destroying the human immune system to being ‘crucified with Christ’ (Galatians 2:20). Destroying my immune system is needed to create room and ability for a new healthy immune system to engraft. Being crucified with Christ does not mean climbing onto a wooden cross and suffering the same painful death that Jesus experienced some 2000 years ago at the hands of the Roman soldiers. But if we want our lives to be increasingly bear the mark of His love, joy, peace, and patience, (etc) it does mean that we are called to live fully in Him and to invite Him to live fully in us. But to do this we have to continuously put off and let go of that which hinders us and put on the Spirit of Jesus in our daily lives. It requires a recognition that on our own we are not the master of our own fate, not the architect of our own lives nor our children’s or friends, not the captain of our own souls. We have choices for sure and we are in charge of these. We govern our own will. But we are sorely limited. The great Paul admits he wants to do what is right but ends up doing what is wrong. He concludes that his will is insufficient and must rely on the grace and power of Jesus to live in him and make these decisions for him. In Colossians 1:27. He proclaims the “secret” that Christ is for all, the Jew and the Gentile (unbelievers) and that “Christ In Us is the hope of glory.” True and lasting, eternal hope is beyond our natural grasp. The bible teaches the answers to all of life are not found within us unless Jesus is found there first.

In one very real sense, being crucified with Christ has nothing to do with what we do; it is in believing that Christ finished His work on our behalf, and in accepting and living according to what Jesus has already done for us personally. When Jesus died on the cross, he said, “it is finished.” The payment for your sins and mine were paid for once and for all. All we have to do is to ask Jesus, out loud, or quietly in your heart, for forgiveness and to accept the precious free gift of His Lordship and leadership in your life. And what an immune system THAT is!
imageSpeaking of immune boosts, it was great to see Jenny and Eric and their family when they visited this afternoon! I think my ‘darth vader’ mask was a hit for a couple of the kiddies. Three pairs of high dose chemos down, one pair of doses remaining on Monday. image

Crucified With Christ day T-4

Some of you have noted how my chemo schedule starts on Good Friday with similarities to being crucified with Christ. Understand, my situation bears NO real resemblance to the actual pain Jesus bore. But Paul did write of certain similarities: Galatians 2:20 states the reality for all true believers: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

It is the goal and process of the Christian life, to increasingly align with Christ who lives in us, to crucify and transform our sinful bodies. In a small sense, my immune system and bone marrow which protect and sustain my life, will be crucified, destroyed. The new marrow will be grafted into my body and start to take control.

My 19 year old male donor (from the USA) has O+ blood. I am B+ so at some point I too will become O+. So my blood will no longer live but my donor’s life giving blood identity will live in me. I will take on his immune system and allergies, if any. Jesus produces a new nature that gradually takes hold in the life of His followers. I’m not sure what the effects of having 19 year old blood cells circulating in my system will have. But I am thinking having the blood of a teenager might rejuvenate me in a number of ways. Bear with me if I develop an affinity for Rap! Seriously, I’m so impressed and thankful that a young man would willingly save the life of a stranger by signing up to be a stem cell donor. Some of you have asked if I can have contact with my donor. I understand we can send anonymous notes via the donor center and after one year can meet each other if mutually agreeable.

In the transfusion that Jesus offers His followers, there are often battles of the will involving which master will be followed. Similarly in this situation, there are usually battles between the host (me) and the graft (donor). These are sometimes short lived, sometimes lifelong, sometimes rather minor, other times serious or life threatening.

No worries today, though questions remain. The first two rounds of chemo went well; two to go. THIS is the test of our faith: is it real enough to bear the crucifixion and does the hope it offers bring absolute peace in the midst of the darkness and trial? I am confident it does. Your prayers strengthen that reality as we count down to T day zero and beyond. Doctors say days 7-10 after transplant may be rougher. I have my armor on for such a fight (Ephesians 6:10+). Your prayers strengthen us both more than you know.

With crucifixion power, the ability to endure death of self, comes also resurrection power which is celebrated on Easter and everyday, the ability to rise victoriously from that ‘death.’ I’m ‘reckoning this to be true’ in my life. Be blessed seeking any ‘crucifixion’ and ‘transfusion’ of power you may need to guide your life toward God’s best!

“I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
Philippians 3:10-11