Tag Archives: Choose wisely

Where there’s a will there’s a way

Certainly, you’re familiar with this phrase, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

It speaks to the power of our will and intellect to persevere in trouble, to carry on , press forward, forge a way around an obstacle, go the distance, stay the course, stand firm, and to determinedly leave no stone left unturned in our quest for the discovery and achievement of our highest goals.

It’s called “free will” because God allows us to exercise this gift in the manner of our own choosing. I Wonder, does the idea of free will amaze or confound you, or both? Imagine the leader of an army suiting you up and equipping you for warfare and then saying, “You can fight for me or fight for the enemy…it’s your choice.” Or try to conjure up the image of a businessman who hires employees and tells them they are free to work for and give trade secrets to the competition. Imagine a major league ball pitcher who deliberately throws away a pitch allowing the other team to score the winning run. Absurd, isn’t it? It seems to us that giving us free will would be a horrible strategy to waging war, building a business, or winning the game.

But as we all know (though often argue against), God’s ways ARE higher than ours. His economy is different from ours. It fits in with his paradoxical view of the first being last and finding strength in weakness. He could have made us to be worship robots who were obliged to obey his every command. Maybe you’ve sometimes asked him to do to just that. “Take away my selfish thoughts or this persistent sin and MAKE me wholly yours, O Lord!” Instead he gives us the choice to go his way or our own. Whether it’s in choosing a president or choosing the bed where we lie down, God lets us “have it our way” if we insist on that course of action.

And what an incredible gift that is! The gift of free will also allows me the power to see things differently and rise above my circumstances. It gives me a new perspective. I didn’t get to choose whether or not cancer came to my door, but I do get to choose how I respond to it. You have the same choice. See a problem or see an opportunity,  not only to accomplish something or persevere through a tough situation. More than that, every problem is an opportunity to trust God.

We can choose to trust God or ignore him, follow his proven ways or venture off on our own prideful paths, find peace in all circumstances or choose to live in turmoil and anxiety. We can choose our own destiny including where we spend eternity and how much victory we want to experience in this life. We make hundreds of choices every single day that either affirm our faith in God and the good will he freely offers or to deny God’s purposeful and benevolent involvement in our lives – to “have it my way” or follow The Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Choose wisely, my friend. Give Jesus a chance to shape your will to look like his.

Who is in control?


Who makes the decisions in your life? Who decides what you do, what interests you, what fuels your life passions? While others might influence these things, largely we are at the decision-making center of our own lives, aren’t we? We’re the ones that pursue dreams or put them off. We make our own choices of what fills our lives. We don’t control all our circumstances but we determine how we respond to them. In many ways, we are at the center of our lives. But how well does that work?


In a self centered lifeself-centered life, “Self” is sitting on the throne, making decisions which often result in frustration and disappointment. The random dots represent the chaotic issues of our lives that constantly bombard us. A self-centered life might know about Jesus (represented by the cross) but  mostly he remains on the outside of our life decisions. typically, we live for ourselves and look like everyone else.


Christ centered life 2

In a Christ-centered life, we have the same issues but “Self” submits them to Jesus who sits on the throne of our life decisions. He replaces chaos and meaninglessness with order and purpose. We live for him. And our lives look “different.”



I’ve sometimes drawn this on a restaurant napkin or scrap of paper when visiting with someone and ask them, “Which circle represents your life?” I’ve found most people, sometimes even professing “Christians,” to be honest in pointing to the first circle. When I ask them which circle they’d like to represent their life, most folk point to the second circle. Whether they commit to it or not depends on who remains on the throne. It seems we like to be on the decision-making throne even when we recognize that we’re not so good at the job.


But Christians are not called to be like most people. We’re not called to be identified by our self-directed interests and hobbies. We’re called to be identified by the one who sits on the throne.  We’re not called to live meaningless lives that look like everyone else. Even though “Christian” is applied to a wide array of people and lifestyles, there is a singular calling of Christians to live Christ-centered lives that submit all the issues and interests to him.


Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 1:2. He reminds us we are “called to be holy.” We don’t hear much today about being holy. It’s not part of our normal vocabulary. To many it conjures the image of pious and “holier than thou,” people who set themselves up to be better than others. Actually, Webster’s dictionary defines holy as “Set apart for the service of God.” Paul reminds us we are called to be set apart for God, putting him on the throne of our decision-making, not self-centered like the rest of the world. I don’t know about you, but I frequently need that reminder; there are so many other things that could call me to their allegiance, so many ways to fill my life in the attempt to find purpose and meaning.


There are volumes written on the subject of holiness. Here are some of the ways Paul describes it (1 Corinthians 1):


  • Holiness is always thanking God because he sustains us even in difficult times.
  • Holiness keeps strong to the end. It doesn’t give up.
  • Holiness seeks unity, not division.
  • Holiness makes its purpose to live and preach the gospel.
  • Holiness seeks God’s wisdom.


What does “called to be holy” mean to you?  What does it mean to you to be in the world, yet “set apart” from the world’s passions and ambitions?  If you’re honest with yourself, which of the above circles really represents your life? Which circle would you like to represent your life? Only you get to choose how you want to live. Let’s choose wisely.



Finding Treasure

Do you like treasure hunts? As a child I was captivated by pirate stories and their adventurous pursuits of buried treasure. ‘X’ always marked the spot on some deserted island, if you could only find the ‘X’.

Did you know God has a lot to say about treasures and even treasure hunts? In Matthew 13:44, Jesus tells a parable of a man who discovers treasure: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” I imagine most of would do that too, if we found a hidden treasure of great worth, sell everything to possess it.

Job was a pretty well-to-do guy before and after his trials. In his sufferings he reflected that all a man’s treasures cannot save him. (Job 20:20) And despite his extreme suffering Job said he treasured God’s word more than his own daily bread. (Job 23:12)

Proverbs 2:4 advises us to live lives of adventure and pursue the treasure of understanding God’s word. Elsewhere, we are counseled to pursue the treasure of wisdom. And there is much more in the bible about treasures gained and treasures lost.

Did you know that YOU are God’s treasure? Exodus 19:5 tells us that we are treasured by God, if in fact we are his children. Jesus tells us that we should store up treasures in heaven. Unlike our earthy treasures, heavenly treasures can’t be ruined by a falling stock market or destroyed or stolen.

I suppose everyone pursues treasures of various kinds, hoping they will bring happiness. Even when our heart desires to pursue Jesus, we still have a tendency to cling to our earthly possessions. This was the case of the rich young ruler who wanted to inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus knew the man’s heart was obsessed with his riches and told him to sell everything he had, give to the poor, pursue riches in heaven, and follow him (Jesus). (Mark 10:20)

It seems that God is not so much concerned that we come to possess treasures, but what kind of treasures we seek and what we do with them. A common theme when people experience life changing crises is that they come to evaluate the things, people and relationships they treasure. Better yet that we discover and meditate of the quality of our treasures before crisis comes upon us.

As you think about your daily routines and your life ambitions, what treasures are you choosing to seek? As the old knight said in the Indiana Jones movie, “Choose wisely.”

Medical update

Some folks have asked for more medical updates on our journey with leukemia. I usually weave these into the post for the day. And you can always use the blog search button to search for key words like update, Leukemia, etc. That said, here is a separate update.

Things are going so well, there’s not a lot to report, (thank you God). I made it through my first six months post stem cell transplant without fever or infection which is very good news. I continue to take precautions against infections but am generally released to normal interactions.

Except for the three months of not eating and being mostly bed ridden, the Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) has been minimal. And that seems to be resolved with the steroid treatment which has returned my normal appetite and allowed me to start gaining some of the 33 pounds lost during the spring and summer. The steroids again caused temporary diabetes which isn’t as stable as the first time around, but then it’s temporary. I am weaning off the steroids now and hope to be off them and the insulin by Thanksgiving. Steroids are a wonder drug but also can cause you to be ‘wired’, anxious, irritable, sleepless, etc. so it will be good to be off them!

I am tired every day and have to rest more than I am used to doing. But I really enjoy having more energy than I did and being able to get out in the community, take up to 1 – 1 1/2 mile walks, visit with more people (!) and start to help a little around the house, putting dishes away, and small things like that. Problem solving, concentration, and memory impairments continue to be a frustration but hopefully will improve over the next year or two.

I am excited to have started my childhood vaccinations since these were all lost in the treatment process. I got my first child level pneumonia vaccine and a four-strain influenza vaccine this week. I’ll get more pneumonia vaccines, working up to an adult version, plus most the other childhood vaccinations (polio, MMR, Diphtheria, tetanus, etc) over the next 18+ months as my immune system repairs itself enough to tolerate live vaccines. Taken too early the vaccine could transmit the actual disease. Due to that risk, the team tells me I might not be a candidate for some vaccines like chicken pox and shingles. The schedule for vaccines puts off a Bolivia move until summer of 2015 at earliest. Another factor influencing that is it may take another year or more to increase the number of bone marrow cells to their full numbers. Currently I am at 25-30% of normal production. Platelets, which God created to repair and heal our system, are still frustratingly low. Some of these things are just a matter of waiting.

Of course, the really good news is that the last bone marrow biopsy shows NO abnormal cells, <1% "blasts (normal), and NO indication of the very rare 10;17 chromosomal translocation that started this whole leukemia process in the first place; also NO indication of the presence of the 'aggressive' chromosomal markers at CD7 and CD56. Cancer continues to be in remission. Next test isn't scheduled until April 2014, unless problems occur.

So overall, an excellent report. Life is much slower these days, with increased time for meditation, reflection, and prayer; time for enjoying God's creation, and redeeming the time we have with others. JRR Tolkien's famous quote is applicable for all of us:
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time given us."

To quote Indiana Jones, "Choose wisely."