God is at Our Side

The past two weeks we have experienced God at work in so many ways that our hearts are full of praise and thanksgiving. We are reminded of Psalm 24:5-6, “God is at our side; with God’s help we will make it. This is what happens to God –seekers, God-questers” (My paraphrase).

Two weeks ago today we discovered that the infuser, what we refer to as the fanny-pack pump, had not been started properly; the result of which was that I disconnected it on Sunday morning, July 12, flushed the lines, injected the heparin and removed the needle! All went well and my worked passed inspection! That was an answer to prayer because Lois and I really wanted her to be able to come to camp. However, the delay meant Lois dealt with the effects longer but still had a great week and was able to attend all the worship services!

On Thursday evening, July 16, she spiked a fever and woke up with it on Friday. One of our key staff, a woman who is very sensitive to God’s leading, took a group to our room and laid hands on Lois and prayed for her. The fever broke! Another answer to prayer and as a result Lois felt well enough to pack and load the car.

We enjoyed a visit from Lois’ sister, Beth, and her daughter Jordan who arrived on Sunday evening. Since Beth was here we had family over on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings and, in another answer to prayer, Lois had the strength to enjoy the whole family.

Wednesday morning Beth and Jordan left to drive back to Colorado Springs just a few minutes before Lois and I had to leave for Iowa City and Infusion #27.

The lab work was OK but nothing to be too excited about and so the Dr. ordered an injection to give Lois’ system a boost. He also told us the CEA number, the tumor marker, was elevated some and confirmed that we would have a CT scan and full labs on August 19.

The infusion and fanny-pack pump went in without any challenges – another answer to prayer! Lois is tired and has some slight side effects but nothing serious. Again, we praise God for His goodness.

Thanks for praying with and for us.

Let God Be God

Carl* had lots of questions. All week at camp he was asking questions of anyone who would listen. He talked to his counselor, me, our speaker; and they were sincere questions.

” What about pain? Dinosaurs? Wars? Aliens? Divorce? If God loves us, why does he let evil exist? How did we get evil and satan in the first place?”

A lot of the questions don’t have concise answers and many don’t have any answers at all! But the search; the quest makes reaching conclusions even more personal and rewarding. Carl wasn’t the only one with tough questions. They came from campers and staff alike.

We live in a broken world and the influence of secularism makes crossing the line of faith significant and life-altering. But isn’t that the way it should be?

Over and over again I found myself thinking and saying out loud: “Let God be God.”

Our finite minds can’t wrap around the thoughts and plans of an infinite God. Our warped understanding of love cannot grasp God’s perfect, unconditional love. Our sin-scarred emotions make taking faith-steps painful and difficult.

But when we let God be God He opens our eyes to see Him in new and wonderful ways; He softens our hard hearts to accept His forgiveness; He opens our ears to hear his words of grace; and He gives us the courage to unclench our fists and give Him control of our lives.

God worked the miracle of transformation in campers and staff and none of us who “let God be God” will be the same.

One of the personal transformations that I witnessed was in my wife, Lois. Everyday her strength seemed to increase and, although she rested often, she was able to attend the worship times and “hang out” at the office. Then, on Thursday evening, she spiked a fever. Friday morning I wondered what the day would be like. One of our staff noticed that Lois did not attend the staff prayer time in the morning and took a couple of other staff and campers and they went to our room and prayed for Lois.

Within an hour the fever broke and Lois felt much better! God is so good! Lois was even able to pack our personal luggage and load the car later that afternoon!

We are now recovering and working on follow-up and re-packing all the supplies for next year. Thanks for praying for and with us. We join with you in a new commitment to let God be God!

Heavenly Father, We ask You to fill us with Your Holy Spirit as we submit our bodies as living sacrifices. We commit ourselves to lives of obedience as we daily renew our minds in the living Word of God. Amen.

*Carl is not his real name!

Infusion #26

On Wednesday, July 8, we arrived in the University Hospital in Iowa City for what we anticipated would be a short day. Lois had an appointment to have lab work done and they go right to the Infusion Unit. No appointment to see the doctor. Then we waited an hour and fifteen minutes for a nurse to access Lois’ port and draw the blood for labs. Then we waited some more – ninety minutes for the labs to come back and for an opening in the Infusion Unit. I keep reminding myself that when we go to a world-class hospital the mantra is, “hurry up and wait!”

At 2:20 all the bags of Chemo and related drugs were empty and the nurse hooked up the fanny pack pump for the 5FU that drips for 46 hours. We headed home.

Friday morning Lois woke up and sensed that the fanny pack didn’t feel any lighter. She looked at the pump and it was still full! We discovered that there were two clips this time and one of them was still crimping the tube! (We hadn’t noticed two clips in the past and wonder if in all the juggling of the multiple tubes they use to infuse the chemo drugs an extra was added.) We called the nurse and started the chemo.

These situations remind us that we are not in control and that’s doesn’t mean the medical community is either! Instead, we need to be awakened to the reality of God’s control. Jeremiah was brought face-to-face with this reality when God said, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Lois is feeling well enough that she is determined to go to camp with me and that includes a special retirement service for a wonderful pastor on Sunday morning. So, when the fanny pack pump finishes about 6 am on Sunday, we’ll be in Excelsior Springs, MO! That means I get to “de-port” my wife! I’ve watched the nurse do this several times and it doesn’t worry either one of us. Chalk it up to another new experience!

We appreciate your prayers this coming week as we lead the team at Tri State Camp. We’ll be at a new facility (for us) just south of Ottawa, KS on I-35. Lois and I will have a motel-like room in which to stay and she decided she can sleep there just as well as at home!

Look Up

The faithfulness of God should never take us by surprise. His power and grace and mercy at work in our lives should not be unexpected and our response should always be grateful trust and humble obedience. Somehow, what we know should be isn’t always what is! Instead, it’s all too easy to be distracted; caught up in the busy activities of life, forgetting that God holds everything together, gives us the next breath and is the giver of every good and perfect gift.

Paul, in his concern for the believers at Colosse, addresses this ageless problem of getting distracted when he writes, “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” (Colossians 3:1-2 The Message)

The penetrating question is, am I serious about living a life marked by the resurrection of Christ? Existing is not an option. Maintaining is unacceptable. The very core of living in the resurrection means we cannot stay the same but must move forward.

Chasing that which Christ modeled as important is now the priority. That means our attention is drawn to single parents and their children – the 21st century equivalent of widows and orphans. It means we learn how to love the people who look different than we do; who get food stamps and are on government programs for housing and medical care. Being like Jesus means we take up the causes of those who have experienced injustice; those who have lost hope that there is anything good in this world.

Even while we are working with “the least of these” we can’t afford to get dragged down in the muck with them and we certainly can’t allow ourselves to have a pity party about our own circumstances no matter how desperate they might be. As the writer of Hebrews teaches us, we have to “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.”

We need to keep our attention focused on the action and Paul reminds us that the action – the really important stuff of life – is going on around Christ. And we, the church, are the body of Christ! This requires the best of our time, talents, and treasures! If we are serious about pursing a Christ-like life, about being where the action is and living life to the full, then we shouldn’t be surprised when it requires everything.

It’s so easy to forget that God through Christ is the object of living. So easy to be distracted by our hectic lives, packed schedules, email, facebook and twitter that we fail to live the resurrection life.  It’s also possible to schedule so many programs and events at church that we begin to isolate ourselves from the very people Christ commissioned us to reach.

Somehow, what we know should be isn’t always what is!

The adventure of the life of a Christ-follower, this faith journey, requires our constant attention, vigilance, and discipline, and although this isn’t easy, it’s our continuing responsibility to “look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ.”