Comfort for those living with cancer

Archive for March, 2012

I Have Decided To Live!

I Have Decided To Live!

I was sitting here thinking about my future. What a silly thing to waste time thinking about! If a thought begins with, “What if…..?”, it’s probably not a thought worthy of much time.

James 4:13-15

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Now if a thought begins with, “Here is my present situation, what should I do with it?”, that is a thought worthy of consideration.

So what is my current state of being? I AM ALIVE! I have the precious gift of life for another day. My thoughts now turn to the important question, “What do I do with this day?”

I have thought about this and here is my decision, I chose to live the abundant life Christ died to give me! This may sound like a trivial decision, but dear friend, it is the very decision that allows us children of God to make a difference in this world. Far too many Christian just exist, they don’t live.

Living with cancer isn’t that difficult when you boil it down to a daily decision of choosing life over death. What will you chose to do with today?

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When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

When Judy and I headed off for San Antonio and the Liver Transplant Hospital I had some ideas of what to expect. No where in my mind where the words, “Well, Steve, you are not qualified for a transplant.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Had I completely forgotten that God is sovereign? Am I making this process of life more difficult by assuming my future? Am I getting in God’s way by getting my hopes up? Am I straying off of the path when I anticipate certain outcomes? I seem to have more questions than answers.

Here is the GOOD NEWS, God has His ways of bringing us back on course and dealing with our Father’s business, even when we get distracted. I am so thankful that my future is in His hands and not mine or the doctors. My only real question now is, “How do I glorify God in my daily life and remain faithful in the meantime?”

God’s Word tells me exactly how to remain faithful in the meantime. Joshua 1:8

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

The world is full of distractions, but God’s Word guides us through unfamiliar territory. Cancer or any other distraction can be overcome when I keep my focus on God and His never changing principles for life.

Dear Jesus,

Help me to keep my eyes on You and find time each day to be still and know that You are God. Give me Your peace and help me to trust in You and You alone as I Live this life You gave me.

I love you Lord and You ARE my shepherd and I shall NOT want!

The Liver Transplant Adventure Starts

Liver Transplant Adventure

This coming Tuesday I begin a new adventure when I go to San Antonio for my initial screening to be placed on a liver transplant list. I thought having cancer was stressful, but I’m starting to see that the diagnosis is just the beginning. Transplant? That word never had any meaning for me until a few days ago.

The phone rang and a nice lady said something about an appointment for a liver transplant. I got caught cold turkey on this one. Who was she? Where was she? Why was she calling me? My doctor had mentioned something about a transplant just before my first surgery, but I had other things on my mind. I had no idea what a liver transplant involved or how such a thing would turn my life upside down.

We made the appointment and she said a few things that didn’t really register at the time about forms, insurance, medications, meeting the “Team”, and some other stuff. I really should have taken notes. I already knew I was in trouble with Judy since I had no answers for all the questions she was sure to have. Today my “packet” arrived with the forms. Boy, it’s a good thing I’m not adopted! They want a history all the way back to potty training. I guess I was trained, but I really don’t recall much of the process. I sure wish my dear old mother was around to help.

Back to my initial shock at realizing something was going to change about my life and I didn’t have a clue. As with all good problems I Googled HELP! What I got was way too much information! I narrowed my search to the Transplant Hospital and I found everything I ever want to know about pre-transplant issues, post-transplant issues and some medication information overload when it comes to anti-rejection drugs. Thank God that the Methodist Transplant Hospital in San Antonio has a great brochure on their website that gave me the answers Judy would be looking for.

The list of tests required before a patient can be considered for the “Waiting List” is so long it nearly takes a medical degree to understand. I take it they don’t want to waste an organ on someone who has little chance of having a successful transplant preformed. I still don’t know if all of these tests are required or just some depending on history and other physical conditions. I suppose we will find out Tuesday when we meet with the “Team”. They use this word a lot and I guess a team approach is good, but it makes me feel a little like I’m being considered for the NFL Draft rather than a medical procedure.

I suppose this would be a good point to insert a Scripture since this is a Christian blog, but I’m not sure which applies because to be honest, I’m overwhelmed! One of my favorite “overwhelmed” text is found in Isaiah 43:1-3(a),

1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,

It certainly is true that God will never leave us or forsake us and He understands what it means to be overwhelmed. Jesus was a bit overwhelmed on the cross when He cried out and said; Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Well, I need to start filling out all of these forms and spending some time with my Honey. Let me close out this post by simply saying, I trust God and I know that He already has laid out the course that Judy and I will have no problem following. Because we believe;

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

In my next post I’ll try to explain the feelings we are having and the uncertainty of this new adventure. I hope to hear from you soon.

I Have What?!

I Have What?!

Just a routine test, one of thousands over the years. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but bad news is never something I’ve relished. Hadn’t the doctors been doing all these tests because I had a chance of developing cancer in my liver? Well, at age 63 I was beginning to think I had beat the odds.

I was born with a genetic disorder called hemochromatosis. It’s an iron overloading disease, that undetected and untreated kills most men by age 50. Excess iron build up destroys the tissue of all the major organs, especially the liver. I was diagnosed at age 28 and followed all of the doctors orders. How could this happen now?

Life has been a blessing for me and I enjoy life with my wife Judy. For the first time in my life I have enough money to do those extra things that make life special. We have been able to have horses and enjoy many fun things together. Although as a pastor I have never really considered retirement, but we were getting to that point where we could sneak away as we wanted and do a bit of traveling. Ah, the good life! How could this happen now?

Had I missed the Lord’s voice and taken a wrong turn? How would this effect the faith of my congregation? Would I set a good example of how a Christian bears trials for God’s sake? What lessons would come out of this that I might pass on? What if this ends in a painful agonizing death? Will I be up to the challenge or make a fool of myself? Do I really want people gathered around my death bed waiting for that last breath like I have done with so many over the years? NO! I’ll tell Judy to lock the door and just send word to the church when I’m dead. Hold it! Wait a minute! This isn’t living the abundant life! How could one stupid test end the joy I had a few minutes ago as I walked in the Spirit with my Lord and Savior Jesus? The truth………….. it didn’t.

When I got the word that I had liver cancer I started thinking about my death, not my life. I started dieing rather than continuing to live. Nothing had really changed. I started dieing the moment I started living. Everything is in some state of decay because sin has ruined God’s creation and brought death where God only intended life. But…………. I was brought from death to life when Jesus gave me the gift of eternal life and I was born again, never to die. So why did I feel like I was going to die?

I felt like I was going to die because I was. My mortal body has not yet put on immortality, but thanks be to God it will. 1 Corinthians 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

For more than 30 years I have taught Christians how to live well, but I have never taught one how to die well. What a shame. Let me correct the oversight right now………

For the child of God, saved by the blood of Jesus and brought into eternal life, dieing is part of the abundant life! What I’m learning about dieing is that I need to be “Faithful In The Meantime.”

Everything I have ever taught about living applies to dieing also. I continue to love God with all of my mind, heart and strength. I continue to not lean to my own understanding, but acknowledge Him in all my ways and He will make my path straight. I continue to take the Gospel to all men. I continue to love and serve.I simply Live With My Cancer.

Now here is a great New Insight I have gained in the midst of this adventure of having cancer……

People listen to me now that wouldn’t listen before!

This is true even of the church that I pastor. I’ve noticed some that just seemed to be attending who are now really paying attention. Maybe their waiting for me to explode or something weird. The truth is, they are uncomfortable. Praise God! 30 years of trying to get people out of their comfort zones and all I had to do was get cancer.

The most common question on my mind lately is, “ What’s next?”

I found out what’s next this week. I’m starting the initial evaluation process for a liver transplant. Thoughts on this next step in my next post. Image

Do you have a story to share about your experience with Living With Cancer as a patient our family member? Please share for all of our sakes.

May God Bless You Greatly!

LIVING Is The Key Word

“Christians Living With Cancer”. Living is the key word. Too many people think of “surviving”, “existing with”, “battling”, or my least favorite expression, “hanging in there”, with cancer. What I usually say to someone who says, “I’m hanging in there”, is, “Jesus already hung in there for you. Why aren’t you living?”

We all enjoy a good testimony of God’s healing power, provision in time of need, or God’s intervention in impossible circumstances. We should enjoy the blessings others share with us, but how often have you heard a testimony that starts like this? “I have cancer and I am so thankful for this opportunity to have my faith refined by God!” This is just as valid and glorifying a testimony as “God healed me from cancer.” Maybe even more so.

My horse does all the work, I'm just along for the ride. It's a lot like my experience with God. All I really have to do is Hang On.

 

 

Let me share my testimony with you now, “I have cancer and I am so thankful for this opportunity to have my faith refined by God!”1 Peter 1:6-9 says;

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. nkjv

I believe in God’s healing power, but that isn’t the point of this blog.

I believe in unwavering faith, but that isn’t the point of this blog.

The point of this blog is,

How do I LIVE with cancer and remain faithful in the meantime, as God works out His perfect will in my life?

A scripture that I do not take flippantly or use lightly is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I know that it was never God’s will for man to suffer cancer in his body, but sin ushered in death and decay. I also know many things about God’s wonderful provision for healing, but again………… that isn’t the main point of this blog.

Here is what I believe is the “Main Problem” for Christians with serious health issues,

“They didn’t tell me about this in Sunday School.”

Have you ever played that old word association game. You know the one where you say the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear a word. Carrot = Vegetable, Pet = Dog, Cold = Hot. What do you think of first when you hear the word “Cancer”? Most Christians would say Healing. That’s a good first reaction, but what do you do in the meantime?

We get lots of good advice from our Brothers and Sisters. Have faith, believe in your healing, confess what you don’t yet see, etc. All good advice, but……….. “What do I do in the meantime?”

How do I LIVE the abundant life while I still face surgery, chemo, radiation, pain, uncertainty and worst of all…… Brothers and Sisters in Christ that haven’t got a clue about what I’m dealing with 24/7? That is the point of this blog!

We who have cancer can and should “Comfort one another.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-5Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

With this comfort in mind I offer you a place to share your testimony of Living With Cancer and what God is doing for you. I will share as best that I can some of my experiences as I travel down this road. I’ll try not to be philosophical, self serving or too preachy. That might be difficult at times sense I am a preacher, but I’ll try. 😉 I hope to hear from many, but I’ll be satisfied with just one soul to comfort with the comfort that Christ has already given me.

I pray that my experience can help you. I pray that your experience can help me. I pray that our experience can be a powerful testimony to glorify God as He empowers us by His Spirit and the stripes Jesus bore for us, to Live Faithfully In The Meantime!

Hello world!

Hi!

I am a Husband, a Father, a Pastor and most importantly, a Child of God, a Christian, a Follower of Jesus. Nothing else that I can say will add much to this description, but there is one thing I do want my readers to understand, I Am Living With Cancer.

My prayer is that this blog might help someone who is having trouble Living with cancer.