Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Brighter Side of Cancer

No matter the prognosis, when the word cancer fell out of my doctor’s mouth he had my attention. But, after 20 radiation treatments, he’s confident the cancer is gone. Therefore, I’m able to reflect on the experience being in the past rather than an ongoing conquest.

When I do, I’m able to perceive the hand of God working in other areas of the treatment center other than the successful radiation therapy.

I believe God uses cancer as a way for His glory to shine on a fallen world. How, you might say, does cancer radiate His glory? One of the ways is the front line of those involved in radiation treatments.

The front line includes the doctors, nurses, radiology technicians, and receptionists.

These specialists have daily contact with cancer patients and, whether they realize it or not, are a special class of God’s servants.

Fear of the unknown raised my anxiety level the first day of my scheduled treatments. Nevertheless, the anxiety fled when I walked into the waiting room of the radiation treatment center. The soft and soothing glow of fluorescent lights illumined the spotless and organized atmosphere. Nothing was out of place.

With a sparkling smile, the receptionist greeted me and suggested I have a seat. In order not to awaken this fairyland, I tiptoed to a chair.

On the way, I passed a tripod that balanced an oversized tablet of paper. Written on a page, with green magic marker, was “Attack this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”

Each day, a new positive thought appeared on the tripod; a light for those in a dark world.

I greeted the other patients in the room. We were all there for the same purpose, and our eyes whispered to each other, “Ya, me too.”

One day a gentleman told me this was his fiftieth treatment.

After a short wait, one of God’s smiling servants dressed in a soothing soft pastel uniform, asked me to follow her into the inner cavern of the treatment center.

We entered a large room already occupied by a doctor, nurse, and technicians. One of the technicians asked me to lie down on a gurney-like table attached to the huge radiation machine. In a semi-circle, the table moved from one position to another until it found the correct angle prescribed for my particular treatment. Technicians programmed that position’s code into the radiology machine.

Like the waiting room, everything in the cavern was in a prescribed order.

Twenty week days later they entered my code for the last time. After the treatment, a nurse handed me my diploma. It read that I “Faithfully Completed a Prescribed Course of Radiation Therapy with Courage, Determination and Praiseworthy Good Nature.” The diploma bore the signatures of the staff and, as a graduation gift, I received a $5.00 gift certificate. I’ll save it all for the memory. 

As God’s special servants for cancer patients, the frontline understands.

They understand their patients don’t relish the fact they have cancer. Nevertheless, as God’s special servants, they keep smiling and serving to help lessen the gravity of the situation.

Thank you Father, the experience was worth the diagnosis.







Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Balance of Life

The Balance of Life

Pulled by six plodding oxen, a Conestoga traveled through God’s creation. Life grasped the reins of good intentions and struggled to keep the wagon on the straight and narrow. His destination? The golden-gates of Paradise.
However, Life’s good intentions paled in contrast to his baggage thrown into every niche and nook inside the Conestoga. Not balanced, whenever a wheel slipped into a rut the baggage would almost topple and engulf Life. However, the canvas covering the wagon restrained the baggage, and the wagon continued its journey.

Life would sometimes maneuver around the wreckage of a buckboard, which encountered one of the storms that rage on the road to Paradise. The deep tracks behind the devastation testified that a struggle ensued between the storm and those on the buckboard. The tempest powered the buckboard off the road and ended its pilgrimage. The outward slant of its wheels showed the weight of the baggage it carried contributed to its collapse.

In contrast, trust and faith illumed the pathway for Life's Conestoga’s, and his map never digressed. The spiritually-lighted corridor never changed; its diagram plain and simple. It included no frills of false advertising to confuse its solitary purpose, which was to guide Life to Paradise.

The wreckage reminded Life of his own vulnerability. So, he reminded himself what the diagram of the path to Paradise decreed to him. It was in his heart for moments like this:
Two-thousand years ago the circuit to Paradise received power from a God-man on a cross at Calvary. On that cross, the man Jesus, the Son of God, declared victory when He said “It is finished,” Jn. 19:30. His chin then rested on His chest in death. However, three days later, on the “first day of the week,” Matt. 28: 1-8, Jesus conquered death when he arose from the dead. His resurrection completed His directory to Paradise.     

Life recalled the simplicity of that guide. Jesus said His yoke is easy, Matt. 11:30. He bore that out with an absolute two-part commandment: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 29-31
Life shuddered; he turned and glanced at the bags of failures in his Conestoga. “What if they fall?” However, like a blanket from heaven, security covered that thought. With love in his eyes, Life looked at the canvas surrounding the Conestoga. Like the canvas around Life’s Conestoga, Jesus Christ is the covering that balances life.

The devastated and desolate buckboard on the road had no such covering,  

Scripture is from the NKJV



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mothers Evolve into Grandmothers

The mother of my children cut her motherhood molars by devoting herself to five children and loving it; most of the time. Were there bad experiences, of course? Were there the proverbial, “wait until your father gets home,” of course? However, watching the way her daughters now raise their children, I’d say she had a positive influence on our offspring.
I believe the reason for her successful reign is the word love, which is more complex than most other four-letter words. To her, the children she bore were gifts from God for her to love, which meant to nurture and treasure. That she did.

When our children were young, my job required I travel, and two or three nights of most weeks she became both mother and father. During my absence, she helped filled the solitude by reading to them. She read about princes and princesses, horses that flew, and frogs that talked. In addition, a little engine that thought he could became a fixture.
They played board games, card games, and had slumber parties, which ended when all six crashed in one bed. Above and beyond the fun, though, they learned about each other outside their normal roles. Moreover, the process prepared them to know they could lean on each other when life dealt unforeseen and undeserved blows. It also prepared Mother for her future role as grandmother.

Now, as grandma, it's her opportunity to kindle the interest of another generation.  They, too, must meet princes and princesses, horses and frogs with extraordinary talents, and a little engine that still thinks he can.
Equally important, a grandmother can relate to her children as adults. When they were young, the knowledge she gained from putting forth the effort to learn about them broadened their relationship. Now, she can advise in ways they understand. She remembers how she encouraged them when they learned there were no knights in shining armor; when they learned that pumpkins don't become chariots. When they understood that horses can’t fly and frogs only croak.

Thus, in the form of grandmother, God provides a pillow to soften the blow when someone in the lives of their grandchildren falls off a white stallion.





He Leads Me to Still Waters and Green Pastures

When his tirade ended, Tartmouth holstered his smoking tongue and stormed from the room. He left his crumpled, wretched wife to compose her brokenness the best she could. Because his sadistic slants of seething sarcasm reduced her to tears, he mentally entered two notches into his hardened heart. In his tormented thinking, tears merited that reward.

As Tartmouth left the kitchen, he grabbed a beer from the fridge and headed for his recliner. His recliner, a microcosm of his life, sat in the living room. It sported bald spots and broken springs, suggestions of an attempt to support the dead weight of a fruitless existence. It faced Tartmouth’s escape; a television set. His remote, with most of the inscribed numbers worn smooth, lay an arms reach away on an end table. It was a symbol of an unresponsive life trying to find the channel of fulfillment.   
An onslaught on the can of beer drained it, and he leaned his torso against the back of the recliner. He fell asleep; his raucous snore a possible indicator of his inner turmoil that instigated frequent nightmares...

A sign above the wide gate fronting the pathway read, "The Valley of Death." He wondered where he was, where the path led, and what the sign meant. He looked for a clue or another path but to no avail. “Have only one option,” he said, and entered through the gate to encounter the yawning path.

He began his trek and the width of the path allowed Tartmouth plenty of walking space. However, the thick tangled vegetation along the sides and over the pathway limited his vision, and this gave him an eerie feeling. He felt unprotected and that he wasn’t alone.
Something brushed his chest and caught his eye. “What are you?” he said, flailing his arms to fend off the attacker. As the onslaught intensified, Tartmouth observed his attackers were like placards with destructive words on them; words like cruel, disgusting, despicable, destroy, and demeaning. The word-entities attacked his chest like they were after his heart. Terror enveloped him as he grasped the plot of this one-act scenario; the word-entities were characteristics of his heart and portrayed him.   

A cry of relief reverberated from deep within him when a new word-entity, “It is Finished,” burst onto the scene. This placard, larger and more powerful than the others, shielded his heart from the attackers and they retreated before it. Likewise, Tartmouth could not resist its potent force. “I give up,” he said. “Please protect me,” and he folded to the ground.
Sometime later he regained consciousness and looked around him. He lay in a dense green pasture adjoining a lake of motionless water. He felt an invite and rolled into the fringe of the waters cool refreshment. It soothed and saturated him with peace. He put his hands across his chest and felt the solid, rhythmic beating of his heart. He lay there safe and secure.

Tartmouth opened his eyes. His shirt, pants, and parts of his recliner were damp with perspiration, and his arms lay like heavy weights. His eyes searched the room for nothing in particular, but they fell on a piece of notebook paper. He picked it up.

The note read: “Tartmouth, you pushed my button one to many times.This dream is over.”
He sagged deeply into his armchair as his mind whirled. He knew his wife would be at her mother’s and would not speak to him; a replay of previous panoramas. As usual, he would call and leave a message. The substance of his dream, though, confronted ,and confused him. He needed to sort it out. He knew that his marriage, and his life for that matter, were in its clutches.

He did, though, have a place to start. He would begin with the safety and security he felt in the still waters of the lake that adjoined the dense green pasture.






Friday, November 16, 2012

Partial Protection Leads to Total Destruction

Davin is a Special Inspector for Archaeology Today; a company that studies the ruins of fallen civilizations and tries to determine the cause of their demise. For weeks, he and his partner looked for clues. But, so far, they hadn't found any consequential evidence as to why this once great, proud, and powerful, nation self-destructed sometime in the twenty-second century.
However, not finding clues didn't deter either of them, and they continued to search using all the archeology tools at their disposal. No frivolous conversations interrupted their intensity.    

While on break one day, Davin said to his partner. “Steve, before we started this project I studied the history of this nation, and it’s one of honor and glory. In the eighteenth century, they were thirteen English colonies that declared their independence from their mother-country. They sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, settled along the coastline and won a hard-fought war to free themselves from the oppression of their mother-country.

After the war they became the United States of America, and, in the beginning, governed themselves along the frameworks of Christianity. Over the next 250 years, or so, they grew into a country of 50 states and became a world leader. It’s a shame.”
A short time after their break Steve said, “I think I scored, Davin, come help me clean it up.”

“What’d you find, Steve? Hope it’s interesting; we need excitement around here.”
“Well, my shovel stuck something, and it looks like a skeleton. It didn’t holler when the shovel hit it, so, I assume it’s dead.”

 “Hope so, don’t need some bony twenty-first century creature running rampant around here stirring up the spirit world. Probably get us a disturbing the peace ticket.”
A few painstaking hours later, they made enough progress to see some of the skeleton. But, instead of answering questions, what they saw led to more questions. “It seems to have a piece of body armor on it,” Steve said. “It’s wearing a breastplate; plus it has a shield in one hand and a sword in the other.”

“I know, but in the twenty-first century who’d be wearing body armor, and why?” Davin said. “We’re on what was their east coast and not the west one. The west coast is where their major movie studios were. So, it's probably not from a movie set.”
“Another strange thing,” said Steve. “I see no pieces of material from clothes lying around. From this angle, I can see underneath the shield and don't see any traces of clothing. You'd think, with the shield covering and protecting its clothes, there’d still be some shreds around.”

“Makes sense, let’s shut the site down for the day and go back to the motel and sleep on it.”
As they drove back to the site the next morning Davin said, “Got something to run by you. In my devotions last night, I felt led to read Ephesians. Are you familiar with chapter 6?”

“That’s the armor of God chapter?”
“Bingo. Now, after reading it last night, I’ve come to believe that the skeleton is both a warning and the answer to the demise of the United States,” Davin said.

“Go on.”
“Ok, in Ephesians, Paul wrote that we should put on the full armor of God in order to fight the devil. Paul lists helmet, breastplate, loin protection, shoes, the whole works. Well, the skeleton has only part of the armament, and, as you said, it’s dead. That’s the warning part,” Davin said.

“You’re losing me.”
“Just listen. In my study of the United States, I read they were on the road to moral decay. Many activities the Bible points to as ungodly were accepted and legalized.

“So, I believe God uses that skeleton as an indicator we need the full armor of God to fight the devil; not just part of it. I mean, when we dress for something special we put on all the clothes for that occasion and not just part of them. But, in our pride, if we neglect to clothe our lives with all of God's armor we risk the same demise as the United States.”
Steve was silent.

When they reached the site, they went to the partial excavation of the skeleton and looked at it in silence.
After awhile, Steve said, "Davin, you may have a point. Maybe the people in the United States were at the point they only wore part of the armor of God. Maybe it's like Paul talked about in the first chapter of Romans. I think it's verse 21 where he says that people profess Christianity but don't honor God."

"Makes sense to me Steve."
Scripture is from the NAS version of the Bible




Monday, November 5, 2012

What's in Your Cup?

“Oh my,” the dainty tea cup said. “This is an article about cups, which means it’s about me, gee; I can hardly wait to read it. I hope it includes how to hold me. You know, with index finger and thumb on my handle, while the little finger points out. It’s very aristocratic, you know.

“Ahem,” the mug said. “Pardon me for interrupting. Although a mug is larger and more robust than you, I, too, am in the cup family. So, this cup article includes me, and in no way am I held with a thumb and index finger, with some dumb digit pointed out. To hold me, all five fingers grasp my handle and hoist me skyward. Also, it’s customary to shout ‘cheers,’ while hoisting me. Don’t use the term aristocratic, in reference to me.”

“While we’re on the cup subject,” a faint voice sounded from within the room. “Don’t forget about me.”    

The tea cup and mug looked around but didn’t see anything.

“Over here on the table, the small paper cup with mints and peanuts in it. Yoo-hoo, look to your left.”

“Where do you fit in a cup article?” the mug asked. You are dipped in until your contents are depleted and then crumpled and thrown away. Where’s the aristocracy or bravado in that?”

“Yes, where?” the tea cup said.

“Well,” said the little paper cup. “I am much of what makes you two useful at social functions. If I am not dipped into, people do not get as thirsty and you aren’t refilled as much. Thus, you’re not needed. In fact, without me, you may be replaced by a large paper cup. So, pipe down.”

“The place is getting crowded,” said the mug.

“It sure is,” the tea cup said.

“Hey, look over here and see a special cup; one which is not held but holed,” a voice said. “I’m a cup that when someone has a chance to hole me, it may be worth millions of dollars.”

Bewildered, the other three cups looked at each other.

“For crying out loud, I’m a golf cup and not just part of some article; I am the article. Countless of them, along with stories and books, are written about how to hole me. Your type of cups may not even be included in this article. My Country Club experiences far outshine your so-called tales of grandeur.

But then the cups felt an overwhelming Presence fill the room and they quieted, while looking at each other with terror in their eyes.

“Does the content in your three cups quench a thirst, so that it never returns?” the Presence asked.  “You, golf cup, when millions ride on one chance to hole you, what about the person that walks away to follow Me?”

“Who are you and what are you talking about?” asked the mug.

“Yes, who are you?” the others said.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” the Presence replied. “You place your trust and faith in the temporal, which is a lie, and the world binds you to that lie. Follow me and be free of any bonds.

“Tea cup: You believe your sojourn into aristocracy satisfies your desire for position. However, your little finger of insolence points you to doom. Follow Me and learn that if you finish last you’ll come in first.

“Mug: You assume that capacity quenches the torment of never ending thirst. Follow Me and learn that one sip from My fountain satiates that torment.

“Paper cup: In your ignorance you trust that a continual supply of goodies leads to everlasting contentment. Follow Me and learn that walking in step with Me is true contentment.

“Golf cup: In your world of fantasy, you conclude that a hole-in-one is the ultimate. Don’t you know that the ultimate always requires a deeper hole? Follow Me and learn that a hole-in-one refers to being w-h-o-l-e in the One.”

With that the presence disappeared and the room emptied, and the merry little band began their trip to Emmaus. “Then, beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Luke 24:27 NASB

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quiet Times

For many people life is replete with distractions. An array of adventures vie for their attention; their kids, marriage, job, or lack of one, finances, the economy, upcoming elections, and current events. Ah yes, current events. That would include the recent tragedy at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, wouldn’t it? Twelve murdered and 58 wounded by a gunman who burst through an emergency exit at the front of the theatre and fired off a tear gas capsule. The gunman then methodically walked up the aisle shooting people at random.  

If an event ever called for quiet time, this is it. But what is quiet time and what’s it good for, considering the way this world turns? A quiet time is a period of solitary reflection, in which people gather the turbulence inside them and present it to an almighty, sovereign, God.

A quiet time is the opportunity to let go of those emotions that beg for release. God understands and can handle whatever flows out of someone’s heart. God created the universe and all that is in it, and, through the sovereign miracle of the incarnation, lived approximately 33 years in that creation, as His creation. Whatever emotions are pent up inside one of His own the creator understands them.

The experience of a quiet time can happen anywhere at any time because God is anywhere at any time. No invitations or appointments are necessary, you’re covered. In addition, no handbooks, diagrams, or blue prints are necessary. Quiet times are personal and private. A person’s quiet time may be a carbon copy of someone else’s, without knowing it, or their quiet time may be unique, without knowing it. However, don’t worry about any confusion on God’s part; Matthew 10:30 says even the hairs on your head are numbered.

What kind of world is it? Is it a world where civilization is destroying itself from within, while the world spins its way to destruction in a universe that’s being destroyed through the abuse of those who live in it? Or, is it a world that’s under the control of the One who created it, who is outside the constraints of time and has no beginning or end, and has a purpose that will come to fruition.

The experiences wrought through quiet times may disclose those facts, to those who try it.