Memo: A Critical Few Days – April 2021

Yesterday, April entered a critical phase in her breast cancer battle. As many of you know, she began her new treatment plan this past Tuesday, April 27. But before the first pills had time to dissolve, April began to develop a discomfort on her right side. Over the last 72 hours, that pain has gone from the level of a muscle ache to a life-altering level of anguish. After spending a few hours talking with April’s medical teams, we know that the cancer tumors in her liver are producing this intense pain as well the nausea and the general sense of unwellness that has slowed her a halt. Thankfully, April’s liver has not yet reached the point of failure. That line is still a some week’s walk away. The plan today calls for April to keep taking her new potent regimen of the new clinical LY drug and the Everolimus. If the medicine works, the cancer should begin to shrink over the next few days and her liver function should increase, resulting in a far better quality of life. As we wait for that day, April will have to continue to manage her pain and nausea with prescription painkillers and nausea pills. On Tuesday, her blood tests will provide some indication of the effectiveness of the new drug. We pray that that day will bring good news.

If this plan fails, April can still fall back upon a chemotherapy treatment plan which promises to quickly shrink the tumors in her liver and elsewhere. But the move towards Chemotherapy while expedient would also exhaust most of her treatment options, shifting April’s breast cancer trajectory into a less favorable position. With a heart full of fortitude, April is pressing forward on the dark path of pain and anguish, hoping today’s suffering will produce health tomorrow.

Please pray for God to reduce the tumors in her liver. Pray for God to sustain her body as she suffers. Pray for God to comfort her soul as her body remains at war with itself. Pray for our kids to know the comfort of Christ during this time. Pray for April and me to have wisdom as we parent our children through this time. And pray that these critical days will conclude with good news.

Thank you for all of your love, support, and your messages. However, we may be slow in responding to them due to April’s health at this time. As always, we will continue to post updates here.

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The Aroma of the Gospel Will Refresh Your Soul

the hope of the believerOur souls breathe better when the air contains the aroma of good news.

But we seldom have the opportunity to breathe such wonderful air. If we are honest, the air we breathe often contains no blessed smell. Our noses know only the stinks of rotting relationships, crummy bank accounts, and guilty consciences that drift up from the basements of our dark hearts.

Naturally, we want the smells gone and light the candles of social media, major news outlets, and human friendship. But as the sounds of the T.V. flood into our ears and the images on our phones capture our eyes, the foul smells of discouragement do not dissipate. They grow because the world is filled with broken people who disagree with our political, economic, and social choices.

John Kransinski of “The Office” fame has tried to counter all foulness of the world with his 15-20 news segments appropriately label “The Good New Network.” He fills the air with positive stories, impromptu weddings, and an overall fun helping of positive goodness. Though delightful, these moments fail to knock out the fouls smells that enrapture our hearts.

We need a stronger, longer lasting aroma. We need the good news of Jesus Christ.

The author of Psalm 107 directs us to that everlasting hope when he calls us to,

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good for his steadfast love endures forever!

And it is not just a hope we passively consume with our eyes and nose; it is a hope we joyfully proclaim to the world with our mouth. The redeemed are to join in on the good news network of Jesus Christ. They are to proclaim the goodness of God, highlighting the great value of public singing, praying, and proclamation. Though pastors should preach, the beauty of the church consists not of one person proclaiming the gospel but of the whole church proclaiming the gospel. Indeed, let the redeemed say so.

Why is the gospel so great?

Why does the aroma of Jesus have such staying power? The aroma of Jesus fills our souls with hope because it is a hope of personal salvation that addresses our sins and every human struggle. God does not save us and then leave us until we get to heaven Heaven. Jesus stays intimately involved in our earthly lives.The redeemed praise God because God has saved them from homelessness, oppression, sickness, and storms. To relight hope in our hearts, we do not need the social media plugins, we need the candle of gospel remembrance.

“He has redeemed them from trouble and gathered them in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.”

To remove the odors of uncertainty, fear, dread, and boredom that stink up our lives, we need to remember the saving power of God. We need to contemplate God’s wondrous works of redemption expressed through his divine justice.

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord. 

Christians Should Be Confident People

confidentChristians should be confident about life.

Such confidence is not derived from ignorance nor from an over appreciation of one’s ability. The faithful Christian is not the person who thinks himself or herself adequate to every task whether that be run-blocking for the New England Patriots or trading commodities in Tokyo. The Scriptures clearly state that God has given people specific talents to specific people for the purpose of blessing humanity. Though equal in value, we are not equal in function.

When God zeros in on his people, the church, he describes them as a body. God designed us to work in unison with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not competent for every task. But we should be confident in the Lord regardless of what we are doing and what is going on around us.

In short, our emotions should be determined by our understanding of the Lord and not our circumstances. And those who understand the power of God cannot help but be confident in their God.

In 1 Samuel 14, Saul and his army had become so petrified that they can no longer act like an army. Their fear is not without merit. The Israel’s army had 3,000 men who had recently assassinated a Philistines governor and his security detail. Responding to Hebrew’s bravado, the Philistines sent 30,000 troops crashing into the Hebrew countryside. Saul’s small and terrified force was no match for the Philistine army. Saul who had boasted of his military muscle only few days earlier now sat motionless. While he waited, His nation and army feel into disarray. People were literally running to the hills for safety. Saul had no hope because his circumstances contained only gloomy clouds of despair.

But not all in the Israelite camp were despairing. In 1 Samuel 14:6 we read,

Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.”

Jonathan knew that God was not limited by Jonathan’s circumstances. God did not need his health, money, power, abilities, or connections to carry out his plans. God rules. He controls the stars, the waves, the hearts of men and women, the birds, and even the tiny blades of grass. God reigns! But God is more than sovereign, God is good! Jonathan’s God had promised never to “abandon you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers, which he swore to them by oath (Deut. 4:31).” Though the odds were stacked against Jonathan, he went forward boldly for he knew the power and character of his God.

Friends as we wrestle through life, we should have Jonathan’s confidence times two. Jonathan went forward knowing the promise of God’s power. We go forward having experienced the fullness of God’s power. Jesus has died on the cross for our sins and he has risen from the dead, delivering us from the power of sin. Because of Christ work, Christians have a confidence that atheists, Mormons, and Muslims can never have. We have the confidence of knowing that we are right with God. We know that nothing can change that status. Nothing take away our hope of salvation. As Paul writes in Romans 8:31-38:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christians should be confident people. Even when we feel the pain of cancer, the pressures of being jobless, and hardships that come with broken relationships, we can be confident in the power of Christ.  Like Jonathan, we can say, “Let’s see what glorious thing God will do today!”

Our circumstances do not define us. Our God does!

We should expect our God to work. God hears Jonathan’s expression of faith and gives the prince an incredible victory over the Philistines. Jonathan, his armor bearer, and the discombobulated army of Israelites defeat an army of 30,000 well trained troops. God does the impossible.

God is not done doing the impossible. He has not kicked off his shoes and sat down to play Candy Crush while we eek out an sad existence in the twenty-first century. Paul reminds us that our God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.”  Our Lord and savior is still in the business of healing the sick, redeeming the broken, and sanctifying the redeemed. God used Luther to begin the reformation, Wilberforce to overturn slavery, and Jim Eliot to reach the Huaorani people. If you find yourself overwhelmed by circumstances that seem beyond rescue, implore the Lord for help! P. B. Power reminds us, “Man’s expectation is generally a prelude to God’s action.” Expect God things from God! 

This is not to say we expect God to do all our holy will. Yet, we should expect God to do all that is good and all that is best for us. We should always be confident of God’s goodness and love. We should be confident in our God!

Do you have the confidence of Jonathan?