Sunday, December 5, 2010

A happy dance...

For the last couple of days, I've been doing "the happy dance" even though I have no idea how to do it. To understand why, I need to give you a bit of background. Hopefully, it will be understandable.

Since having been treated for prostate cancer in Summer '08, I need to have a psa (prostate specific antigen) test every 3 months for three years to make certain my psa number is low. Without getting technical, when it comes to psa numbers, lower is better.

With the kind of therapy I had (proton beam radiation), you still have prostate tissue when you're done being treated, so still produce psa. The assumption is that over time, the radiation slowly but surely destroys all the cancer cells. So unlike surgery, where your number is instantly 0.00, with any form of radiation it will slowly go down until you reach your "nadir" (low point) by 2 yrs or so (though it can take up to 3 yrs). A continuing low number is a strong indication that the cancer has been destroyed. On Saturday I got the results of my 27 month check, and my number was 50% lower than 3 months ago, and it has been pretty darned low for the last year anyway. That is absolutely incredible, and I am filled with praise for what God has done. So you can see why I'm dancin'!

Through this process, I've been reminded of an important lesson . We really are all different, and the only helpful thing is to compare ourselves to ourselves, and not to anybody else. I say this because some of the guys I went through therapy with hit lower numbers than mine much more quickly than I did, and that bugged me. While I knew that we didn't begin with the same numbers, and our bodies are different, nonetheless, it was way too easy to do the comparison thing, and worry about the fact that my number wasn't dropping as fast as somebody else's. Frankly, that is neither helpful nor of any value. The point is not "is my score as low or lower than somebody else's," but rather, "is mine doing what it's supposed to do - go down"?

How easy it is for us to assume our lives are supposed to work like somebody else's, even in our spiritual lives. We worry that we aren't as prayerful as somebody else, or as compassionate, or as knowledgeable, or whatever, when God is not comparing us to anybody else at all. The point isn't how do we stack up with somebody else; rather, it is how are we doing now compared to how we were doing a year ago, two years ago, five years ago. God sees each of us as unique individuals, and works with us exactly where we are. As for me, I'm asking the Lord to do with me what he wants to do with me, not what he wants to do with somebody else. How about you?



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

God is good all the time...

Sometimes it's a challenge to remember that "God is good all the time, all the time God is good." Why? Because it's easy to get overwhelmed by challenges of the day, things that seem greater than your ability to cope. At those times, deep down inside, most all of us wonder: is God really good all the time? The answer, of course, is "yes." It's just that we don't see his goodness at the moment.

As we navigate Betty's breast cancer, we've hit a few bumps in the road. But for us, it causes us to draw back, catch our breath, and trust God more. Figure it out: we'd be hitting the same bumps with or without him. How much better that he is walking with us!

I hesitate to continue to write about Betty's treatment because so many other people are facing difficult issues. Our lives are no more important than anybody else's. At the same time, I know that we are to bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. How can people be expected to do that if they don't know what those burdens are? So with that in mind, I continue to update, usually on Facebook.

Today Betty had a good second chemo treatment. The first went sideways, and she ended up in the hospital. Then one of her surgery incisions began to separate, so she had to go back for another surgery. That caused the chemo to be postponed. On and on it went. So finally we feel like we're back on track. Thus far (about 6 hours into it!), things are going much better than they did the first time. The doctor tweaked one of the chemo drugs a bit, and changed the drip solution they use, hoping this would make things work more smoothly. It appears his decision was the right one. Coupled with all the folks who are praying, it should work well!

If you're like me, you're getting pretty tired of cancer! Every time I turn around, I bump into somebody else who has just been diagnosed with one form or another. In the last two weeks, I've come across 3 gals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer of one form or another, and are in the throes of deciding what to do. We feel blessed that Betty has already been able to share with them in that process.

While all this is going on, God is drawing us closer and closer to himself. Though we have more than a few candles on our cakes at birthdays, it's like we are in a fresh time of learning with the Lord. How good that is! If only we can pass on a fraction of what he is teaching us, we will feel most blessed.

May the Lord be your strength,


Monday, August 16, 2010

Time to think

Betty and I had the joy of spending this last week
with our entire family in Idaho. One of the things
we did while there was the 17-mile bike ride on the Trail of the Hiawatha. Not only do you have to go through a 2 mile tunnel with only the light on your bike, but you cross over a series of bridges like the one in this picture. It is breath taking in every sense of the word! A great time was had by all.

During some of our down time, I was reading a most fascinating book on my iPad. One of the chapters dealt with the value of intergenerational ministries, something that has been a concern to me for a number of years. For some time now, the church seems to have become far more comfortable with "silo's", i.e. self-contained ministries for each age or interest group, than it has with the "Body of Christ" truly being the "Body of Christ," embracing and celebrating all ages.

One of the things noted in the book was the fact that recently the Fuller Youth Institute released a report stating that many young people who were once highly involved in a church youth group during middle or high school stopped participating in church as young adults. Why? Well, it seems that while teens, these folks were in their own worship services, with their own music, fellowship, and teaching, and rarely if ever engaged with the Body at large. Hence, when they left high school, they didn't know how to connect with the larger church, and thus failed to do so. What a pity!

How many ways can we say that we need each other. The younger need to hear the stories of the older, and vice-versa. We all need to know what we're going through, and learn to pray for, encourage, and support one another. This past week as we were together as a large family, there were three generations of us. The diversity that represented made for a whole lot of fun. I'd like to think we all not only enjoyed each other, but learned more from and about each other as well. We even had the opportunity in a bunch of ways to serve one another. That was a good thing! Surely, that is how the whole church is supposed to look but doesn't. Think we can do something about this? More thoughts about this later.

I hope you're having a great summer. May you be blessed!


Friday, July 23, 2010

The Barking Dog

A little book arrived on my desk earlier this week that drew my attention. As I glanced through it, I read a statement that I found both provocative and true. Here is is, written by Paul Scanlon, pastor of Abundant Life Church in Bradford, England:

The Barking Dog:

"I hate the fact that much of the church has become famous for its intolerance of the world. We are known for what we are against, whether it's abortion, homosexuality, smoking, alcohol, or Harry Potter.You name it, the church is against it. Now I'm not particularly advocating any of the above, my point here is that we have become the angry dog that barks at every passer by. Eventually the dog just becomes an irritant in the neighborhood. The neighbors avoid the dog, but can never forget it because like all barking dogs, much of the time it just barks for no reason.

I don't want to 'bark' at my city or the people in it. I want to appreciate it, love it and learn to live amongst the people of my city as a revolutionary for positive change.

Jesus was not known for what he was against. he was not known as the 'Pharisee hater' or the 'Tax Collector's worst nightmare'! Instead he was famous for the good he did for people. He was called the healer, one who spoke with authority and wisdom, the great teacher. But most notably, he was called the 'friend of sinners.' What a reputation to have! And we, Christ's Body in the world today, should have the same reputation.

The church is not a resistance movement; it is a replacement movement. God so loved the world that he didn't send us an ultimatum but an alternative."

Paul Scanlon

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another Godportunity

Since I began my day with a "forget everything" drug for a medical procedure, I figured I'd better write this down before I "forget it."

After the procedure, I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. When I was on my way out of the pharmacy, I almost literally ran into someone who is very well known, actually all over the world. I'd met her before a number of years ago, so I reintroduced myself to her, and asked her how things were going for her. I had heard she'd been struggling with a lot of "demons" from the past, things that don't just go away. Having been victimized in more ways than she could count while growing up, there's no question it has been hard for her to see life in any other way. She "accepted Christ" some years ago, but making the decision, and actually embracing all that is true about new life in Christ, are two very different things.

When she told me some of the stuff she was dealing with, I asked if we might pray about it. She jumped at the chance, and right there in the middle of Walgreens, we went for it, going right to the throne of grace. When we finished, she grabbed me and gave me a "hug of hugs." I said a couple of other things encouraging her in Jesus, and before turning around, she hugged me again.

Man, I hate the devil. I hate the things he does in the lives of people, especially when he convinces Christians they aren't really free, can't truly have a brand new life. And when other so-called "believers" jump on his bandwagon, piling on when people like her have their struggles, it's even worse. Why would a believer want to play on his team??? She may have issues, but she belongs to Jesus, chosen by him. As far as God is concerned, she's priceless!

"When anyone is in Christ, she is a new creation. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become brand new!" Praise God!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Busting buttons...

It was truly a moment in time that was awesome to behold. It was one of those "you had to be there" experiences. This last weekend, Easter weekend, was a time that our church truly made me proud. Perhaps it was best symbolized in the choir, which was totally intergenerational. You hear people talk about this, but seeing it in action is something quite different. High schoolers, mixed with grandmas and grandpas, and everybody in between, led us all in fantastic worship.

One of the things that really struck me happened right before I came out to speak for the last service. Just before going onto the stage, I overheard one of the younger choir members thanking the various orchestra people for their outstanding contribution. What a joy to know that kind of encouragement was being expressed with nobody having to make it happen. Proud? You bet!

The Church is the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ has all kinds of people in it, young people, and not so young people, babies with full heads of hair, and grandpas who forgot how that feels. In too many places today, the church doesn't look like this. What a shame!

You bet I'm proud of our people. Praise God for the wonderful church he allows me to pastor!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Godportunities revisited

This week I heard about a most amazing way in which God worked in the life of an individual. After hearing the story, I'm sure that he did something powerful in more than one life.

I have a friend who, for a variety of reasons, is terrified of sedation. This past week, she had to have a procedure done that demanded the very thing she feared. As she lay on the table in the operating room scared to death, she revealed her struggle to her surgeon, asking for help. Instead of simply trying to talk her fears away, this angel from God masquerading as a physician took my friend's hand, and right there in the operating room, in front of the other professionals hovering around, she began to sing a hymn. After finishing that, she launched into "His Eye is on the Sparrow." Perhaps you know that old song. As she was drifting off to sleep for her procedure, my friend her these incredibly comforting words filling her ears, her room, and the lives of all present:

Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely
And long for Heav'n and home,
When Jesus is my portion?
My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

This sensitive physician obviously has a close walk with the Lord. She senses when doors fly open, and she walks right through. May we all be encouraged by such a great model!

Have a wonderful weekend, filled with "Godportunities"


Thursday, March 4, 2010


Recently at church, we have been speaking about power tools. No, not electric screwdrivers or drills, but rather the "tools" God gives us to express his power, otherwise known as "gifts of the Spirit." Among those power tools, one we found
particularly exciting was that of "miracles."

Personally, I have found it more helpful to use the word "godportunity" when speaking about miracles, because the very thought of being involved in a full-fledged miracle just seems too overwhelming for some folks to handle. A "godportunity," however, an opportunity for God to express his power through a person's life, seems so much more manageable. Any of us could get into a godportunity. All we need to do is show up, ask God to use us, and go for it when and where he opens the door.

A week or so after sharing the whole concept of godportunities, I received an email from one of our folks that pretty much had me falling out of my chair laughing. Let me share it with you:

"I was in Safeway last week and saw an elderly woman struggling to get a can on the top shelf so I went over to assist. The lady then asked about the brand and which brands I thought were the best, where certain items were located in the store, and then commented on the weather. She was lonely and obviously just wanted to talk! Aha! A Godportunity! I told her that I wasn't sure about the brand because I buy the same brands over-and-over since my husband is a picky eater. She stopped me and asked if I thanked God daily that I had a husband to prepare a meal for. I confessed "no". She then shared how people don't know what they have 'til it's gone. The lady then asked if she could pray for me!! So right there in the canned soup section of Safeway the lady prayed for me. Hmmm, I don't think this was the way the Godportunity was suppose to go (maybe she heard your message)."

When I read this email, besides laughing uncontrollably, I realized that whether it was the widow in the soup aisle, or our wonderful member who chanced to meet her, they both got to take part in a real-life godportunity!

I hope this week finds you looking to the Lord for the great things he might want to do through your life.

Pastor Bill

Monday, February 1, 2010

Too blessed to be stressed...

This last Sunday, we had a wonderful guy with us at church who shared some simple things he's learned through his life, and communicated them in such a "street level way" that lots of folks were able to hear what he said, and immediately put it into practice. Among the many nuggets that Al Egg, chaplain of the Trail Blazers, gave us was the fact that regardless of what he was up against, when he kept everything in perspective, he realized he was "too blessed to be stressed." Isn't that a great way to live? He went on to say that subsequent to his sharing this concept, various people have stated it in different ways like, "I'm too redeemed to be steamed," or like Travis Outlaw opined, "I'm too anointed to be disappointed."

All of this is simply the outworking of taking Jesus at his word in John 16.33: "In the world you will have tribulation, but cheer up; I've overcome the world!" He said it, but will we believe it? How about you...are you too blessed to be stressed?