Comfort for those living with cancer

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Over A Year Since Last Post!

It amazed me when I saw that it has been over a year since I last posted to this blog! Someone clicked “following” and I got an e-mail notice. I thought, “Poor person, they have nothing to follow.” I am sorry I haven’t kept the blog updated, but I’ve been busy living the Abundant Life Jesus gave me.

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Jesus gave me the most awesome wife! Judy encourages me daily to be Faithful In The Meantime.

Let me give you a quick update. First, I’m still alive, I’m not a ghost writer. Secondly, I still have liver cancer, but up until a few months ago their was no new activity with one tumor that is just kind of hanging out and not growing. In October I had another RFA procedure by my radiologist that was successful, however (I hate that word), on my follow up MRI they found two new tumors and one is a nasty one near my heart which makes it difficult to treat. I go to the surgeon in a couple of months to determine if he can remove it or do an RFA by opening me up to make sure they miss the heart.

I start Oral Chemo Therapy next week, Nexavar, and I’m not looking forward to it, but I have to trust Jesus to give my doctors wisdom. I will post in a few weeks to let you know how it’s going.

Now to the important stuff, God Is Good! Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I’ve never been closer to my Lord or felt more opportunities to share the Gospel! Cancer doesn’t close the door for Christians, it opens new doors of effectual ministry every day.

Watch for my next post “Good Attitude Is Good Medicine!”

Happy New Years to you all and may the Lord Jesus Christ bless you with every blessing in 2014!

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Do Your Desires Need A Tune Up?

Living with cancer causes us to have some desires that we never had before. Obviously we have a desire to be healed. We may have a desire to redeem wasted time and do the things we haven’t gotten around to yet. We may have a desire to overcome the fear associated with living with cancer.

One of the desires I developed was a desire to make sure my family was taken care of after I was gone. I also acquired a desire to mend broken relationships in my life. Of all the new desires I found myself with, one trumped all the rest. I desire to be faithful in the meantime! I want to please God with the way I live out whatever time I have left. I want to hear those words, “Well done My good and faithful servant.”

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One of my favorite Scriptures is Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart.”

This Scripture is often misused. Ask yourself this question and see if you have been using it correctly. Does this mean that God will give you what you desire, or that He will give you new desires?

This is an extremely important question when we are living under trials! We have faith to believe God’s Word and then get frustrated when He doesn’t seem to respond the way we think He should. Maybe it’s not God’s will that I be set free from cancer. Maybe He has a BETTER PLAN! All I can do is trust Him and be faithful in the meantime. I can also get my life on the right course to serve Him by asking Him to give me the desires of HIS heart!

When I have the desires of God within my heart I can’t go wrong! My goals will be His goals. My plans will conform to His plan. My desires MOTIVATE me and give me purpose!

Look with me for a moment at some areas of the desires we already know God has and we should also have.

In our Thinking – Isa 26:3 The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in Thee. “Lord, give me the desire to think like You!”

In our Looking to God – Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. “Lord give me the desire to see You and all my circumstances!”

In our Hearing from God – Isa 55:3 Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David. “Lord give me the desire to hear You!”

In our Talking about the Lord – Ps. 105:2 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders.”Lord give me the desire to talk about You to everyone!”

In our Doing for God – Heb 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. “Lord give me the desire to do Your will!”

In our Going with God – 2 Cor 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. “Lord give me the desire to walk with You!”

What other desires can you think of to ask God for? The one I am praying for today is based on John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “Lord give me the desire that none should perish!” 

Is Wasting Time A Sin?

It seems impossible that it’s been a year since I heard, “You have liver cancer.” I can remember, as if were yesterday, the feeling in the pit of my stomach as I heard those words.

Time really does fly by as you get older! But more importantly I came under conviction today that wasting time is a sin!

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Eph. 5:16,17 Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Pro. 6:9-11 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Col. 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

As I was waiting on the Lord this morning in prayer I was struck with the awful realization that I haven’t used this past year as well as I should have. There are so many things I haven’t done in this life.God has blessed me with all of this time, but I have not thanked Him.

I asked the Lord to forgive me for even one minute wasted. He was quick to remind me;

Luke 9:62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

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So, looking forward, I have purposed in my heart to not waste the time God has given me!

Please let me ask you two question,

“What are you doing with the time you have been given?”

“How do you find ways to spend your time profitably?”

I have a simple suggestion. It may not sound profound or quotable, but I think it is sound advice for us all. Whatever you are doing, whatever you are thinking of doing, whatever you would like to do….. ask yourself, “What eternal value does this thing have?”

Will it encourage a discouraged person?

Will it help someone find peace with God?

Will it reveal God’s Glory to someone?

Will it plant a seed of the Word of God?

Will it please God?

I think there is an endless list of questions that could motivate us to reclaim the time. God gives us encouragement in these words from Joel 2:25a

                            And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten

Let God restore the time!

Fear Not! You Can Overcome Fear!

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

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There are many moments in each day when cancer seems to invade my thoughts. I don’t want this to happen and I actively practice being aware of my thought patterns. I try to focus on what is good and pure, as instructed in Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Still, there are times when fear tries to sneak in and I find myself worried about Judy or the church or any number of things that I have no control over. When this happens I am blessed to have a reservoir of God’s Word that comes flooding in to my spirit and drives the fear away!

This morning I had such a moment and I immediately heard in my spirit, FEAR NOT! My moment of fear and anxiety was short lived as I remembered “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

The Bible is full of sound teachings about fear and to a Christian with cancer or any other challenge it should be a great source of comfort! This morning I thought it profitable to take a few minutes to refresh my memory about God’s instructions concerning fear. I hope you will find the same peace from His Word that I have.

Webster’s dictionary says that fear is “to…expect with alarm.”  Now, as Christians, we are supposed to have a sense of expectancy, but a person who is experiencing fear lays in wait for what seems to be an unavoidable catastrophe.  I have a strange feeling that this is not the kind of expectancy God had in mind.

One of my favorite definitions of fear is that it is:

False
Evidence
Appearing
Real

Satan places a lot of False Evidence before us. We know that he seeks to steal, destroy and kill and one of his most effective methods is to cause fear in the hearts of God’s children. We have a choice, we can let the enemy have his way or we can turn to God as our defense against the attacks. Which will you chose?

Fear Can Steal Your Miracle!

Fear has the power to steal the miracles that God wants to do in you, and through you.  An excellent example of this is what happened to Peter in Matthew 14.  He was on the edge of greatness, but his fear stole his miracle.

About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them,
walking on the water…
 Then Peter called to Him,
“Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat
and
walked on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw the strong wind and the waves,
he was terrified and began to sink
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.
“You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “
Why did you doubt Me?
Matthew 14:25,28-31 NLT

Peter saw his circumstances – The waves were crashing -The wind was blowing.  Suddenly, he began to fear.  Men can’t really walk on water.  I’m losing my footing? This is too hard!

Here is the key to understanding fear: When we take our eyes off of God and focus on our circumstances, we immediately step from Grace into fear!

I have found the best way to keep my eyes on God is to keep my eyes on His Word. This morning I found Him in these following Scriptures. I hope and pray that you will also find Him here.

I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” Psalm 34:4

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Phil 4:6-7

So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Heb. 13:6

Let me close this post with some general, common sense suggestions for those weighed down with fear, anxiety or worry…

  • SIN IN YOUR LIFE – Sometimes fear and anxiety are the result of one’s own sin and guilt. If you have committed a sin or done anything evil, your fear and anxiety is probably God and your own conscience trying to get your attention. You need to repent, confess your sin, seek God’s forgiveness, and set it right.
  • SLEEP – Humans generally need 8 or 9 hours of sleep per day. Sleep deprivation can increase anxiety. Get enough rest. If you cannot sleep, you may need to seek God’s help and perhaps that of a physician.
  • BE MORE REALISTIC – Many people are worried and anxious about events that will never actually happen to them. Relax. Focus on today. Take life one day at a time.
  • LISTEN to relaxing, soothing music. There is some great Christian music available that can help you focus on God and leave your fears and worries behind. It may also help to listen to good Christian speakers and teachers. A great source for both is found on your local K-Love radio station.
  • FUN – If at all possible, do something that you enjoy. It is good to get some recreation on a regular basis. Take a break. Get your mind off your fears and worries, and have some fun.
  • TALK to someone. Don’t hold all the anxiety inside. It can be a big relief to share your fears and worries with someone else — a friend, relative, pastor or counselor. If fear and anxiety is an ongoing problem in your life, schedule a regular time each week to talk with someone.
  • TAKE ACTION – If there is something practical and wise that you can do to alleviate the problem or avoid needless danger, take action. Don’t put it off. Procrastination will generally raise your anxiety level.
  • EXERCISE – Medical studies show that exercise can help lower anxiety. If you are healthy enough to exercise, try it. Regular brisk walks, running, swimming or other exercises can be a real stress reducer. Just do a little more than you are currently doing!

2 Thess 2:16-17 “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work”

Here We Go Again, Another Transplant Evaluation

After receiving the denial from Baylor for a liver transplant Judy and I were confused. It seemed like everything was going well while we were in Dallas, but things don’t always go as we would like. I hadn’t even gotten over the shock of the denial when the Veterans Administration stepped in with another opportunity.

The VA does transplants in several locations. One of the VA’s locations for a liver transplant is in Houston, Texas. Judy and I met with Dr. Habib, a liver specialist in Temple, TX with the VA. He looked at Baylor’s reasoning behind my denial and didn’t agree with everything Baylor had determined. He explained the VA’s protocol for transplant evaluation and asked if we wanted to pursue this route.

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Before I tell you what we decided let me share how we feel at this point. Aside from God’s ability to heal, we have no options for dealing with this cancer in a complete way. More surgeries are not possible, RF Abliteration has been done once and may be available once or twice more, direct infusion of chemotherapy drugs is possible and directed radiation. One more future option is the chemotherapy drug Nexavar. All of these options have one draw back, they are only temporary measures.

Each treatment other than a transplant is a little like being on death row. Each time a new procedure is done only puts off the inevitable. How do we feel? We feel like we are on the edge of a cliff and the ground is crumbling under us.

Now that doesn’t sound very spiritually mature and it isn’t. Without Christ in our lives we would be panicked at this point, but…………………. we truly do have that peace that surpasses all understanding because God has NEVER taken His hand off of us!

  • That’s how we feel, but feelings have nothing to do with faith!

I wonder how people who do not have God in their lives go through these trials.

I told you I would tell you what Judy and I decided about the VA Transplant option. We have decided to leave it up to Dr, Habib. He will get the rest of Baylor’s test results, consult with the transplant surgeon in Houston and we will allow him to determine the next step. We are not trusting the doctor, we are trusting God and by faith we believe that He will lead us down His path.

Let me close today with a verse that gives me strength every day. I hope it strengthens you also.

Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Disappointment Can Be Discouraging

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Last week Judy and I spent the entire week in Dallas at the Baylor Transplant Hospital. I was evaluated for a Liver Transplant. The people were wonderful and the tests were extensive. Every test looked good for a potential transplant and they even found an unrelated condition, for which I am thankful. They found two small tumors in my neck. They are sure that they are not cancerous and can be removed. We came home feeling good about the future, then I got a phone call that changed everything.

This morning the transplant doctor called and said I had been denied a transplant. She gave a lot of reasons, but somehow I felt it boiled down to the fact that I would be a risk and I might jeopardize their 97% success record. Basically she took the transplant option off the table.

It’s odd how the emotional roller coaster continues. A transplant is the only option for a cure. All other options only delay the inevitable end. I am reminded of taking a piece of steal and bending it over and over until it weakens and finally breaks.

As a Christian my trust is in God, not doctors or medical options, but the emotional stress is still taking it’s toll on Judy and I. As I continue to pray, “Lord, help me be faithful in the meantime.”, I am keenly aware that millions of people are going through exactly what Judy and I are going through. Phones are ringing, doctor’s are entering exam rooms all over the world, bringing disappointment to cancer patients.

We pray for healing, good reports and new cures, but no matter how things go, there always seems to be some disappointment. So the question is, how do we deal with the disappointment?

I have found that praying the WORD always helps me put my faith into every situation. If I am facing discouragement, I need to replace it with hope. I hope you find the following Scriptures helpful as you fight off your discouragement.

Psalm 16:8-19

8 I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.

Psalm 42:5

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And
why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

Psalm 119:114

114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.

AMEN!

Helping Others, A Vital Part of Healing

I am learning that helping others is a vital part of my healing. The benefits that come back to me are far greater than what I give away!

Compassion Is The Result of a Thankful Spirit Image

I recently started participating in a Website endorsed by the American Cancer Society. The site, What Next, is made up of cancer patients and caregivers. Hopes and fears, concerns and questions, tips and encouragements are posted on the site for the benefit of all. By taking the time and effort to contribute their thoughts, and for many of these wonderful folks it is a huge effort, they minister love to others. This truly is a wonderful support for Judy and I!

The little bit of encouragement I have been able to share with others has brought many unexpected benefits into my life.  I am so thankful to those who make this blessing available.

As a Christian we know that faith without works is dead, but did you know that helping others has physical and psychological benefits as well as spiritual?

Allan Luks, author of The Healing Power of Doing Good, has researched a phenomenon he calls “Helper’s High” Luks’ studies suggest that volunteering and charitable giving help ease stress, improving physical and emotional health by:

· strengthening immune system activity

· decreasing intensity and awareness of physical pain

· activating positive emotions that support well-being

· reducing negative attitudes that deplete well-being

· enhancing functioning of various body systems

With all of the benefits of helping others it seems that we cheat ourselves of many blessings when we are self-centered and focused only on our own distress. God prepared situation to give us opportunity to help others!

Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Compassion is the motivator that moves us to help others. Compassion does not occur randomly, but is nurtured and cultivated in the believer’s life. The key to developing compassion in your life is to make it a daily practice.

Compassionate acts are generally considered those which take into account the suffering of others and attempt to alleviate that suffering as if it were one’s own. Most of us have needed help with something at some point in our lives. The old adage “no man is an island” is most definitely true. And where would we be if someone hadn’t been there to help us through?

God has chosen His children to work through to bring comfort to those who need comfort…

2 Cor. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 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.

Who will you help today? It’s worth thinking about.