We’re just coming out of the Christmas holiday and this is the time of the year that people get generous and giving and show love to one another. But why don’t we do this all year long? Why are we so focused on the month of December that we often forget the other 11 months.
Is your church equipping you to love others? Are they showing you ways to go make a difference in your community. If we only love others inside those church walls, is our faith really alive? Are we showing the love that Christ has for us?
There are so many needs out there in any community. There may be homeless, or those struggling to feed their families. There may be people that struggle with mental health and those that are just lonely and just need someone to talk to.
What’s the best way to show the love of Christ? To go out and live it.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Find a way to serve and love on others. Each of us have our gifts that were given to us from God. Those in need are all around us. I find so many that just need a conversation when I’m at the hospital for my own treatment. Just to bring a little humor or laughter to someones day can make a huge difference.
Don’t stay inside the four walls of the church. Go out and let everyone know…that you are a disciple of Christ.
It’s Thanksgiving week and while this has been a rough year (rough couple years really), with the pandemic, my health issues, and a lot of other stuff going on around the world, it’s often tough to remember we have so much to be thankful for.
I’m gonna list some of the things I’m thankful for. This list will be a bit different in that you won’t find the normal thanksgiving of family, health, job…. which of course I’m thankful for, but I wanted to list some of the things that I’m thankful for that might not be as expected.
I’m thankful for the journey I’m on. Which journey you might ask? Well it’s the journey of having cancer. Why would I be thankful for having cancer? Well I’m not. I’m thankful for the journey this has started me on. One I couldn’t have taken otherwise.
This journey has brought me closer to God. It has given me the courage and desire to speak open and honestly about my faith. I’ve met so many people that even in small ways, they can see Jesus working through me. And I’ve heard that there are many out there being moved to action because of my journey, whether that’s getting their own health checkups or being moved to share their own faith, or even to reevaluate the relationship with Christ.
The journey has truly been a blessing and if it took getting cancer to move on with this journey, then so be it.
I’m thankful that I’m going through this and not my children. Here’s the father coming out in me. My four children have always had relatively good health when I see so many other young children going through much worse than I even am. I pray that none of my children never develop this or any other sort of cancer. If me carrying this burden for them, so they can lead a long healthy life, is what it takes, then I’m all in.
I’m also thankful that because of my diagnosis, they will get checked out sooner than I did because there is now a direct family history. I had no direct history. If anything it was back generations and we might not have even known what it was back then. But now my children can say, “Yes my father had it” and perhaps doctors will take a closer look or run a few extra tests so if anything is developing, it can be taken care of quickly.
I’m thankful for the community I live in. I live, as most of my readers know, in a small community where everyone knows just about everyone. My wife and I have been here our entire lives. We grew up, went to school here, got married, lived here and raised our own children and they went to our alma mater.
The community has rallied around us in so many ways I can’t speak to them all, nor could I thank everyone individually. But it’s not just us. Every time there is tragedy, illness, accident or whatever, so many individuals and organizations come together to help with the needs. I know this isn’t unique to our community, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
I’m thankful for the little things. My journey has made me slow down and recognize the little things. I see and hear the birds more clearly. I see the sunrise and appreciate the warmth on my skin. I look at the night sky and appreciate the majesty of it all.
The small moments with other people, even just a quick hello or wave are so much more meaningful. I see a lot of very sick and sad people on my days at the doctors. I’m thankful I’ve been given joy and happiness despite the circumstances and I fully believe God has built me my entire life for this moment. He has given me a good sense of humor that I can make others laugh and bring some joy to a sad place. If even one person finds their own joy then it is all worth it.
I’ve said this for years….the little things matter.
I could go on and on about the things I’m thankful for, but let me end it here with one last one. I’m thankful for a God that loves me despite my failures. A God that loves me enough that he sent his son, Jesus, to die for me and cover my sins and failures. I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit that resides in me know and gives the joy and keeps the fear away and gives me the power I need to not only make it through my own journey, but to bless those I meet along the away.
I hope everyone can find those things that they are thankful for this week and every week. God bless you all!
As I write this it’s early Monday morning and in a few hours I’ll be back up at the hospital to get my next round of treatment. Up to this point it really hasn’t been that bad as I’ve been handling the chemo pretty well with few side effects, but it is a long and tiring day. However, I never look forward to going up there.
I have found though, something that gets me excited about this day. I first see the doctor and then they send me up to the infusion center to start the treatment. By the time I get rolling with that it’s usually around lunch time. My wife will run down to the cafeteria to grab something to eat. So what do I get excited about? Well you may have guessed it…. the blueberry yogurt parfait that I get each time.
It’s good, actually quite good, but at the same time, there is nothing special about it. But I’ve latched onto that as something I look forward to, something that makes the trip worthwhile and less tiresome. I can get my parfait.
I spoke in my last post about joy in the Lord. Joy in the Lord is not the same as happiness, however you can find happiness in the world, even in the little things. God has provided me this parfait as my point of happiness in these moments to help me get through them. Might seem silly, but those little things really matter.
God’s blessings are all around us and they aren’t always big…sometimes they are just a parfait.
Find your parfait in difficult situations and give praise to God for those little things!
Where does my joy come from? A question I’ve asked myself over and over again. It’s hard to explain to myself let alone to others because joy comes from GOD, it does not come from within us. Joy is contentment despite whatever circumstances you may be facing.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
Joy is not happiness. We can manufacture happiness, however fleeting, but we can make ourselves happy. When we buy the new “thing”, we can be happy. When we have the recognition we desire in the workplace, we can be happy. But that is not joy. Joy goes far deeper than emotion.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Happiness comes from fulfilling our needs. Our hunger and thirst. Our desire for things. But the kingdom of God is not these things.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Let us not think that joy is always happy. Bad things still happen to followers of Christ. However the key is, if you stay focused on Jesus, you still have your joy because joy comes completely from him and not our present circumstance.
So where does my joy come from despite my current situation? Well it comes from the one who saved me. The one who takes this broken body and broken mind and fills me with the fullness of Christ’s joy.
Keep focused on Christ and let him fill you full of joy!
I’ve come across some trying days the last few months. Days that I wish would never come and I know there will be trying days ahead of me. I was reading through the book of Luke the other day and read in chapter 5 the story of Jesus when he calls his first disciples.
He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. Luke 5:3
So here’s Simon, who just came in after a long night of fishing that produced nothing as we will soon find out. He’s tired, he’s probably hungry and most likely discouraged. But here is Jesus and he steps into his boat.
Isn’t that like Jesus. He inserts himself right where we need him, right when we need him whether we realize it or not. I’m sure Simon was aware of who Jesus was, but wasn’t aware that he was the Messiah yet.
I’ve been aware of Jesus my whole life. There have been times when I’ve drawn close and times when I’ve distanced myself from him. But time and time again, Jesus comes and inserts himself into my life in ways that I’m unprepared for and in ways that I really don’t want to happen.
A few months ago, hours after hearing the words that I have cancer, Jesus inserted himself in a big way. He didn’t just climb into my boat, he climbed in, shoved me to the side and said “I’m in control now.”
I didn’t want this, but I had no choice….Jesus was driving the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:4-5
Jesus finishes speaking and then turns to Simon, because he already knows what is troubling Simon. He knows the hardships that he has been through the night before and he knows that he’s ready to give up.
But Jesus was having none of it. Jesus knew what Simon needed to do. He needed to go out in deeper waters and put down his net.
Simon to his credit, did what Jesus asked of him, even though it didn’t make much sense.
So as I was laying in the hospital, waiting to get to my room, I was pretty mad. I didn’t want to go through this and I let God know that I was mad. I felt him speak to me in a still voice, that “This will be used for my glory.” And at that moment I felt a peace about me and as I was reading this passage from Luke, I imagine myself resigning myself to go to deeper waters and put down my nets.
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. Luke 5:6-7
Simon, by following what Jesus had asked of him, was blessed beyond belief. Blessed beyond any logical comprehension he may have had. Jesus didn’t just bless them, he gave them an over-abundance of blessings.
Over the last couple months, God asked me to head to deeper waters and let down my nets. I’ve done my best, not always easy, but I’ve tried hard to follow and do so without question. It’s been through my writings here, through my discussions with people that I work with and meet in my day to day life. It’s even been in my own family.
But like Simon, it is through no effort of my own. I’m just letting down my nets just as Jesus instructed Simon to and he’s providing the catch, he’s providing the blessings. And I’ve stated many times, that if through my illness, through my trials even one person comes closer to God, then it was all worth it.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke5:8
When Simon saw the blessings that Jesus had led them to. He fell to the feet of Jesus.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” Luke 5:10
Jesus told Simon and the others, that they would now be fishers of men. Jesus was going to use Simon and the others for his Glory and to bring more people to God.
God is using me, he has called me out to be his hands and feet. The sickness gives me a story, something I can relate to others. Something that others can look at me and see how I’m dealing with it and following Jesus.
Simon didn’t question Jesus when he said to go to deeper waters and let the nets down. I don’t intend to question it either.
I’m in the deep waters now, and the deep water can be dark and scary. But I’m here now. I’m letting down my nets and God is blessing me and others through my story.
If you read my last post, Dealing with Fatigue, you’ll remember the extreme fatigue that hit me about a few days after my treatment. When I wrote that post, I was still pretty fatigued, not quite as bad as it had been, but still in the middle of it.
I wrote that post, posted it online and shared it across my social media accounts. I closed my laptop and settled back to watch some TV. However, within minutes, at most maybe 15 minutes afterwards, I suddenly felt a heavy weight lift from me and the fatigue was gone. And it hasn’t returned.
God is good and he came through again. In that post I talked about putting our faith in God and he will provide us peace and rest. And he did just that. By the time of that post, the fatigue had me mentally exhausted as well as physically. I was feeling the weight of the illness and all that was to come with that. But through writing that post and researching some of the scripture I used in it, I remembered that God is above it all. God is in control of it. I just needed to learn to give it to Him.
I want to be sure my journey is filled with joy and happiness, not depression and dread. My God will fill me with that joy and happiness. He will fill me with the energy that I need and provide the rest that I require. I just have to put my faith in him.
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.
Christ lives in me. I live my life, my journey, by faith in Jesus Christ. He gave himself for me, so I give myself to Him.
I have lots of these type of praise stories that have happened just since my diagnosis. I plan on sharing more of those, as they bring out that joy and happiness that Christ living in me fills me with.
Praise God for his son. Praise God for his peace and rest. Praise God for the privilege of serving Him in my journey.
I’m now a week and half past my first full chemo treatment and praise God I’ve had very few side effects. I realize that I’ve got many more treatments to go and those side effects may come later, but for now I’m enjoying the relative ease that treatment is currently going.
The only real symptom I’ve had and from what I’ve read is present in 80 to 100% of cancer patients in fatigue. Even before my first treatment I was always tired and thought that was the fatigue I was experiencing. Well this past weekend I discovered that there is a definite difference between being tired and fatigue.
Fatigue, especially associated with cancer and it’s treatment, suddenly became real to me. Saturday morning, my exhaustion reached a new level. I was pretty non-functional and I really didn’t care at that point either. I ended up taking a nap for about 3 hours Saturday afternoon, but upon waking felt no better, I slept well Saturday night and woke up Sunday morning feeling just as fatigued as the day before. It has slowly gotten better over the last few days, but it’s still there.
But God has an answer and can heal fatigue. As I’ve been reading and studying more about it, my fatigue while still there has been bearable and I’ve been able to endure it and function through the grace of God.
Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest.
I’ve been carrying a heavy load the last few months, but God has given me rest.
You, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.
Because I’m staying firm in my faith and my new purpose that God has given me, I’ve found that peace which really helps through those physically trying times.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
When I physically need rest, I know that the Lord is with me, healing me and keeping me safe. He never leaves us and promises to always be with us.
I can assume that I will have more side effects. I assume that my fatigue may not got away and may get worse. But my faith is unwavering. My joy that Christ has chosen me for this mission keeps me going through the tough times. Yes I wish God would take this cup from me. But His will is good and I intend to trust him.
The other day, I was talking with someone at work who was reading through a book that was focused on the story of the prodigal son. As we talked and I thought about the story, I began to think of the older brother of the son that went wayward.
The older brother became angry when their father through a feast when the younger son came back. He told his father, “I’ve been here all these years and never left, but you never through me a party.”
I began to think of my own situation. When I was diagnosed with this cancer, I went through a phase of why me? I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I’ve done everything I was supposed to, but here I am still going through this while I see perfectly healthy people drink and smoke and do all kinds of things. I’ll be honest, it ticked me off.
But I realized that God is using my situation for his good. And while it may sound strange saying this, this diagnosis has actually been a blessing for me. It has changed me fundamentally. It has strengthened my faith. It has given me purpose. It has opened my eyes to where God is working and how he wants me to join him in his work.
God didn’t give me cancer, but he is using it to glorify his name. We read in Luke 22 when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsamane where he prays;
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Luke 22: 39
Like me, Jesus didn’t want to go through with God’s plan. But he realized that God’s plan is good and that this was his calling.
I don’t want to deal with this disease. But I know that God is using this situation to glorify his name.
This diagnosis has been an unexpected blessing and I intend to see it through fully trusting in God and letting him lead me through this. I see God working already. I see lives being changed (mine included). I pray everyday that my testimony will be used by him to help someone else. I have been blessed beyond belief and this is just part of it, part of who I am, part of my testimony.
God use me and my situation to glorify your name and further your kingdom.
Many Newsboys songs in the past have spoke to me and today the song I Am Free hit me in a way that it never has before.
Since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve felt an overwhelming peace and in fact a new mission in life. This song epitomizes how I’m feeling and gives me great joy when listening to it. Let’s look at some of the lyrics.
Through you the blind will see Through you the mute will sing Through you the dead will rise Through you all hearts will praise Through you the darkness flees Through you my heart screams I am free, yes, I am free
The blind will see, the mute will sing, the dead will rise, darkness flees and my heart screams I am free. Jesus heals and drives away all sorrow and darkness. I am free of the worlds fears, of the fears of my own diagnosis. I am free in Christ and my hearts screams from the rooftop of what He has done for me even just over the last few weeks.
I am free to run (I am free to run) I am free to dance (I am free to dance) I am free to live for you (I am free to live for you) I am free (I am free) Yes, I am free (I am free)
I am free to run, dance and live for Jesus. Believe it or not, the diagnosis has given me a new freedom in life. While I’m tied to the hospital and to the treatments I’m getting, I free to live for Him in so many ways, in so many situations. The diagnosis has given me a freedom to share with all of you here. The diagnosis has given me a freedom to meet new people and witness to them in so many ways.
Through you the kingdom comes Through you the battle’s won Through you I’m not afraid Through you the price is paid Through you there’s victory Because of you my soul sings I am free, yes, I am free
Through this diagnosis, His kingdom has come so close to me. I know the battle is already won and I live without fear. Jesus paid the ultimate price already and is victorious. I am free to live for Him because I know he’s already won.
Who the Son sets free Is free indeed
Jesus has set me free through this diagnosis. He is using this for His good. Without going through this, I don’t think I would be experiencing what God had in store for me in this time of my life. It is a journey and Jesus has set me free.
It was an interesting day today. I started my first bit of chemo today and I was obviously a bit nervous. Interestingly enough I happened to sit down across from another gentleman that was also there for chemo and he noticed my shirt which is one from my local high school. We got to talking as he had graduated from there also.
He knew one of my sisters and after a bit more small talk, we ventured into the realm of “What are you in here for?” As it turns out, his cancer is almost identical to mine, the only real difference is his was discovered 2 years ago where mine was just a few weeks ago. However, after two years of treatment, he is almost cancer free. He has a bit more chemo and another surgery or two and given that the recent scans are still what they are, he’ll be free of cancer!! Praise Jesus!
I needed that encouragement today as I started down my own long journey. I struggled this morning and last night with thoughts of how long this journey would take, how well the treatment would go and all the unknowns. While everyone’s treatment is different, hearing his story gave me more hope that I can follow a similar path. That our God is faithful and is in the process of healing him and is in the process of healing me.
God chose this moment to remind me of this. He put this man in my path to show that God is in control and can do the seemingly impossible. God used him to encourage me, he used him to give me hope.
Tonight I walk more confident than ever that I will beat this, that the disease has no power over me. That God is in control. Praise Jesus!