Wednesday, March 30, 2011

OT Salvation

Somewhere Christians of the NT era have come to the understanding that OT people were saved by works. Is the origin of this idea found in our incorrect interpretation of John 1:17? Where do we get this idea that somehow the OT believers could appease the wrath of God by doing works while we in the NT generation who are serving the very same God of the OT are totally inept at accomplishing the same feat?
How can that be?
This morning I was reading in Isaiah 1, and it hit me. Isaiah 1 is sort of a synopsis of the book of Isaiah. From 1:1-15 Isaiah summarizes the dreadful state of Judah's relationship with God. It's not a pretty picture!
In 1:10 Isaiah presents the solution: "Hear the word of the LORD!"
Ok, all is well, correct?
Now notice 1:11-15. Notice all their works of righteousness? These verses are a brief summary of their religious fervor. It surely seems they are doing all the regulations as outlined in Leviticus. They are doing all the things that we modern Christians think they need to do in order to merit salvation. They are hearing the word of the LORD! They are giving ear to the instruction of their God! Are they not? Look how they are fulfilling the sacrificial commands of the Mosaic Law!
Only they're not!
Something is missing. All those Levitical laws that they are observing and obeying- God says it all sucks!
Their works are not saving them!! They are not saved by works!
Where are we at in all this? Isaiah 1 strangely looks like our churches! Oh people have not so much of an issue to come to church on Sunday morning- unless it's good biking, camping, or fishing weather, then church attendance takes a back pew. Oh people will come to church on Sunday morning, but don't ask us to attend any function during the week. Mid-week prayer meetings? Can't find a baby sitter (but finding a baby sitter so we can go to a Moose game or shopping or whatever- not a big deal!) Membership meetings? Are you kidding? Visit the lonely in the Old Folks home? Visit the widow? Witness to our unsaved neighbor? Invite a stranger for Sunday lunch? Oh we NT-Christians-saved-by-faith are pretty good at keeping Isaiah 1:11-15. Trouble is, that's not going to cut it.
In our community everyone whose dead body gets rolled up the aisle for its final attendance of an Isaiah 1:11-15 gathering is automatically construed as being saved and glory bound.
I hope that is true. I hope everyone we think was saved is safe in heaven today.
Sometimes I wonder!
Folks, unless we surpass the "obedience" of Isaiah 1:11-15, we are dead in our faith without greater works than that.
Not to many chuckles in that squealing was there?
Just something to ponder on.
OT saints were not saved by their works anymore than we are!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Puff Wheat

Remember Puff Wheat? It was the breakfast cereal that was affordable. I am eating puff wheat these days. Makes for a nice snack. I have become disillusioned with the whole health food thing in fighting cancer. Every person I know of in my community, and beyond, that has beat cancer has done so apart from a rigorous health food regime. Ever person, including myself, that has fought cancer with diet as a major alternative is still dealing with cancer or has died.
So I am eating puff wheat. I think it is technically called puffed wheat. It's just wheat that has been puffed. It's like popped corn, except popped wheat.
Next week I might eat chips. I no longer trust that food is going to get me healed of cancer. I no longer place my hope in foods.
Today as I was sitting getting chemo there was a person sitting a few seats over who was talking with the dietitian about foods, about alkaline levels in the body, about sugar and how it apparently feeds cancer, about milk being good or bad or red meat or pink meat or sardines or beans or... and so it went, and I thought, yep, we were there about 15 months ago. And now, what I have learned in the past year or so.....
Hang on while I scoop another tablespoon of puffed wheat....
Hmmm, I took 2 spoons full! Tastes great!
About food I have peace.
Yep, the internet is full of sites where people "claim", and that's the key word, they make claims that asparagus has healed them of cancer. Others say baking soda with syrup. Cottage cheese with flax oil. Lemons. Live foods. Raw foods. One site says we should only eat raw food, and nothing that comes from something that has a head. After all, which animal have you ever seen cook its meal? And to that I ask, which animal have you ever see live to be 85 years old? I know many individuals in this region who eat like they did prior to their cancer experience, and they are still cancer free. Muffins, doughnuts, white biscuits. Biscuits and gravy. Gravy and potatoes.
My heart went out to that person today at cancer care. I felt like telling him, enjoy life and eat for pleasure!
The treatments are harder on me than I thought they would be. I thought I would just breeze through this regiment, but it is not that way. They pump me so full of ben-a-drill that I am zonked out by the end of treatment. I am taking some drugs I got from Melvin Friesen that the doctors don't know about (what they don't know they can't warn me about) but these drugs are legal and everything, and I don't have to inhale anything in taking them, their long-term use have side-effects that I want no part of. They do make me feel uppity up and strong, but these drugs eventually can severely weaken my legs so that I might have to use a walker.
To much puff wheat might eventually bring about such side-effects also! Who knows!
So I have to be cautious and discerning on how much I really need. I can notice that when I come off these drugs, I certainly sense my legs are weaker.
But in general the treatments are not so hard on me as the others were. For that I am very grateful.
But soon the battle will be over.
Then I will chuckle with holy joy.
This night I was quite bothered by the itch. Finally at 4:30 am I got up and studied. One of my personal projects is working through the text of 1 John, and composing a commentary on the text. I still have a vision of being able to teach a Bible study after the semester is completed at Prov Sem. I would so love to do this, but we will see how it turns out. I have spent about 6-8 hours on just trying to figure out what 1 John1:1a means- "what was from the beginning." I think I finally got it. I am looking at the text primarily through my own eyes as directed by the Holy Spirit. In other words, I am not chained to commentaries. I want to find out the truth through the Holy Spirit's direction, not from what others have said.
Anyways, I had a great time with that for about 2 hours this morning before breakfast.
So there was good reason why I was so bushed.
Anyhows, thanks so much for your prayers. They are so very deeply appreciated.
There are times when I really have a difficult time praying. I don't know how to pray at times. At times I wish I could have a good crying spell, but I am not sure what I am to cry about.
Thanks for praying! Thanks so much! Please don't stop. Thanks!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

High on Drugs

This morning I had had enough of this fatigue and crap. So I took some steroids. Dexmethesome or something like it. Has nothing to do with meth, at least not that I know of. I got these pills from Melvin Friesen. Sure, why not swap medication? After all, he gave them to me. I can still see value when I see value. So I took one this morning, and it worked. At least, I had energy.
Hey if drug users can share needles, cancer patients should be able to share medication.
It's just drugs, and you know, they have a drug should this drug from Melvin give me adverse side effects. They would just give me another drug.
Besides, Mel does not need these pills anymore, so let's see if I can use them. It's called recycling.
I did have a good day of good energy, and a fabulous, fantasticanus, marvelous visit with my adviser at Prov Sem. I shall write about that soon.
I had a busy day, and I thank Jesus for the energy I was given today to accomplish my work.
You may chuckle at this, but I think I will take one of Mel's pills tomorrow again.
You have any pills you don't need anymore?
Sorry, not interesting in your expired viagra.
And thanks for your prayers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sticky Roads

This morning I woke up feeling like I could do the running of the bulls in Spain, or wherever they do that stuff. By the evening I was feeling like I could do the lying on the couch. I don't know what happened. I had chest pains, stabbing, sharp pains on my right side (opposite of the heart), and a feeling of lethargy. I have these anti-feeling-like-I-don't-have-cancer-treatment-pills, but they boast about having parkinson's like side-effects. I tried one today. I don't know what side-effects they gave me. I don't like it, but I guess things happen that way. Tomorrow is a busy day, and I can't afford feeling like a retired sloth. I made supper, but it all tasted like something nobody eats. Taste buds are somewhere where the food doesn't go. Not many chuckles today.
Too negative?
Well ok then, I did not fill my pants. I did not puke. I did not pee into my pants. I did not wash my feet in the toilet bowl. I did not eat any yellow snow. I did not fall off the roof. I was not on the roof. I had a good visit with a former pastor about some Mennonite teachings of days gone by. My zipper was never open in public, unlike yesterday at the hospital, but are zippers not to be open in hospitals anyways? I can see. I can hear. I don't have to wear a diaper. I can walk. I can sleep. I can read. I have a wife. I have people who actually claim to read this blog. Others may read it but don't admit it- can't blame them! I am not driving a truck in some blizzard. And I have a mom who loves me. And Jesus is building for me a mansion.
And for you too!
That's something to chuckle about.
Have a good night.
And thanks for your prayers!

First Round of Treatment

Yesterday was the first treatment on this new regime called Ceteximab or something like it. I had no bad reactions to it. I had no complications, no bad side-effects, no heightened sex drive. Each round of treatments, and there will be 8 of these treatments each week for 8 weeks, begins with a CT Scan so they can get a baseline to see where things are at. Like taking a measurement before one does the Charles Atlas course and then taking them after to see if the gains, or lack of them qualifies you to get your money back. The CT Scan of a week ago showed that between January and last Thursday, a period when for about 8 weeks I had no treatment of any kind, the tumors in the liver were growing. I asked the doc if the cancer was wildly out of control. That is not the case, he replied. But the cancer showed growth. There is no spreading of the cancer to other organs. So that is positive. There were some more lymph nodes that seemed infected, but that's just lymph nodes. I got more of those.
It did not surprise me. I can feel the cancer has grown.
Too negative?
Sorry, that is where it's at.
Treatment yesterday, as I said, had no complications. I slept well in the night. I am still coping with itchy spots. The doc said that has nothing to do with cancer. Itchiness does occur when a person gets jaundiced but that I am not.
There is not much to say really. We just keep going on. I know that at the end of this mud road is a street of gold. Hammer down.
Thanks for all your prayers!!

Jonah Complex

Monday's class at Providence Seminary involved a discussion about Jonah. The guy that got swallowed by the whale. That's what most people remember about Jonah. Now I have read Jonah a few times in my life, but it had not occurred to me how prevalent death was in Jonah's mind. Subsequent to his fleeing to Tarshish, in his attempt to escape from the Lord's presence, a storm batters the ship he is on. His solution to the problem: death, his death- just toss me overboard and everything will be alright. Instead they toss cargo overboard. Wow, I am not going to ship my Harley overseas with that shipping company. I wonder if the shipper had Lloyd's of London as their insurance agency?! Imagine the ship coming into port and Wal-Mart of Tarshish had a number of crates missing in the shipment. Perhaps some Emerson brand TVs that were going on special for next weekend's Tarshish State Fair Sale. Perhaps a new line of clothing that featured a daring new low cut blouse that actually revealed the ladies' Adam's Apple. Or how about a throwback outfit from the days of Solomon when capri pants were so short you could see the lady's ankle bone as she stepped up to get on her horse. Gone, all new items from the world renown designer in Joppa, all down the toilet of the deep blue sea. Greenpeace would have been outraged. International boycott of all shipping companies! Throwing cargo into the sea did not help. So they finally toss Jonah to the fish. What's Jonah thinking? "Ah, it's better for me to just die!"
The whale, an agent of God, saves Jonah, and Jonah does not die. God's first act of grace.
Now the bizarre. Jonah preaches to a very evil nation. Assyrians were not nice people. They did bad things to Israel. But they repent. Oh how Billy Graham, Corny Loewen, the Sutera Twins, Barry Moore, and other famous evangelists would have liked to have a Nineveh experience. Imagine holding evangelistic meetings in Las Vegas and what resulted from your revival meetings was the closure of the casinos. You would be higher than a kite on a breezy spring day in Lethbridge. You would chuckle all the way back to your home church and attain instant fame, and you would most likely even get a spot on It's A New Day. You would be booked for decades to come.
Not Jonah. He was ticked. And the solution to his angry? "God, kill me! Just let me die for death is better than life."
This guy is delusional.
God's grace the second. Jonah's life is spared.
Next the tree incident.
God's grace the third. He sends a tree to give Jonah shade.
The tree dies.
Jonah gets sun-stroke. His solution. "Just let me die, for death is better than life."
This guy's all about dying.
Here is the irony. The guy's a bit of a coward. In the very face of death, in the belly of the whale where he is about dead, he turns yellow. "Help. Lord, I am dying Save me!"
Jonah, I thought you wanted death.
And now I have written myself into a predicament. You know, painted myself into a corner!
I have often had a Jonah complex. "Lord, just take my life. I would rather die than live like this. God, I am tired of this battle. It would be better to just die."
Jonah never talks about taking his own life, however. He is not suicidal. He could have jumped into the sea. But no, he was tossed overboard by the sailors. Jonah never indicates he is going to kill himself, but he wants God to do the honors.
I have never thought about killing myself either, but I have thought that God should let me die.
But what would I really be like in the face of death? Would I cower like Jonah and beg for an extension on my life?
Hmmm, some thoughts about Jonah.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Monologue on John 8

I trust you all had a very good weekend. We at Pleasant Valley EMC had a truly moving monologue by Cindy Schultz that focused on John 8, the woman caught in the very act of adultery. We were all given a chance to take a stone at the beginning of the service, and then we were presented with the opportunity to get rid of our stone which signified an issue we liked to throw rocks at in condemnation of a person's sin. In this we were acting like the self-righteous accusers of John 8, when they dropped their rocks knowing they also were guilty of sin, and in dropping our rocks, we heard the thud of God's grace as our granite hit the floor. It truly was moving to see so many people respond in this act of faith.
Somehow one can get to a website and listen to a service from PV, but it's more complicated then the protocol Duane Rempel follows in Road King bug removal..
And then there is Tuesday.
That is the day the new Cetuximab treatment begins at Boundary Trails Health Center in Winkler.
So many of you have come and personally expressed how you are praying for us.
We cherish your prayers!
Just a tip for you who read these blogs, but are to shy to respond to them. That's ok. If you would rather just drop me an email so only I can read it, go for it.
Currently, I think I am doing quite well. This past week I was not nearly as tired as the previous week. I realize that I have to monitor my eating intake as yesterday I overate on BBQ Ribs at friends' place, and so this past night I heard the hourly chimes of the imaginary cucko clock.
I have peace. I am mostly not depressed. Seldom actually am I really down. I know I am getting closer to heaven, and I can't wait to go. My next big trip will be to get the keys to my Heavenly Mansion. The Mansion Builder is building for me a mansion. It will make a house on Wellington Crescent look like a cardboard shack stuccoed with old dentures. And I don't think I will need central vac! I won't need to repaint anything, or redo the flooring. After all, how fitting that the Master Builder was a Carpenter at one time in His life. I start to chuckle in glee when I think of going to my Mansion in Glory. One thing is for sure, I will have a great view of the Throne of my God YAHWEH!
I don't think I am far from going! Naw, don't try to talk me out of it. I want to go. I am ready to go. Come, Lord Jesus, come! Come tonight! Ya, come tonight, Lord Jesus!

Friday, March 18, 2011


There are certain rules that I tried to establish regarding the surface of road that my Hog will not travel on. Gravel is a forbidden. (Check back to my Utah off road experience- that was more or less sand, not gravel!) So in 2007 Julia and I head out to Brandon to meet some friends, and we were going to travel together to Alberta. Being a trailblazer, I took Hwy 2 knowing that the bridge was out near Wawanesa. Not a problem. There was a good road north of Wawanesa and we headed up that ‘away. Then the pavement ended. And we did not have time to make a long detour of many miles and make it in time to our friends’ house. Our only option was about 5 miles of gravel. This was nothing to chuckle about! What do we do? Well, first I let out a long στεναγμός.
The word στεναγμός (and the verb στενάζω) means to sigh or to groan because of an undesirable circumstance; it expresses the deep distress of the soul. Sighing, or στεναγμός, takes place due to a condition of oppression under which we suffer and from which we long to be freed from because it is not in harmony with our nature, expectations or hopes. Stephen uses στεναγμός in his story of Israel in Egyptian bondage. God heard the groans of His people. The Israelites were in an undesirable circumstance, and they groaned (Acts 7:34).
A characteristic of a Christian is groanings and sighings. Are we not to be happy, joyful and full of optimism? Sure, but it depends about what! Romans 8:18-27 offers a rather bleak portrait about life on earth. Here we find a triple sighing, that of creation, of Christians and the Holy Spirit. What is the cause of all this groaning? Sin! We are not living in a circumstance that we were created to live in! We were created to live in Eden! God wanted us to stay there, but we chose otherwise, and sin now has everyone groaning. Yes, Christians are new creations in Christ, but we have not fully experienced the redemption of our bodies. We are like Israel wandering in the wilderness, free from Egyptian bondage, but not yet in the Promised Land!
So what is our response to this debacle?
Follow Paul from Romans 7 through to the end of chapter 8. Romans 7 is the dark chapter of the failings of the flesh, the doing of the things we don’t want to do. In plain words, the ongoing groaning of the sin issue is our lives. Romans 8:1-17 is the wonderful work of the Spirit in our lives. We are set from the condemnation of the Law! Romans 8:18-27 remind us that while we are reconciled to God, we still live in a world that is not redeemed and we all yearn for the coming of Christ when we will experience redemption in full. Romans 8:28-39 is comparative to Romans 8:1-17 in that Paul describes how we Christians will overwhelmingly conquer this state of groaning. God is not going to leave us. His love will never be severed from us- no matter how deep the groanings may get. The day of His coming is coming, and we will be set free from our groanings.
2 Corinthians 4-5 voice the same theme as Romans 7-8.  This present life on earth is marked by affliction and persecution. Our physical bodies are constantly decaying. This undesirable circumstance is the cause of our groanings. 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:4 are certainly verses of gloom, but such is the Biblical view of this present world. And search as one might through these passages (Romans 7-8 and 2 Corinthians 4-5), there remains strangely absent any hope that in this life, on this side of eternity, in this post-Eden pre-redemption world, that a Christian will find the resources by which to end the present groanings. That simply is not Biblical. The groaning ends when redemption is fully revealed, at the coming of Jesus Christ.
I had coffee yesterday with a fine, excellent Christian man whom I deeply respect as a brother in Christ. He is healthy, fit and running a successful business. He is a picture of prosperity in every way. But my brother longs, deeply, deeply longs to go and be with Jesus. But I reminded him of how pleasant his life is and how he had no ball and chain that seeks to drag him down. He shared how he is just tired of the fight against evil. Always there is the presence of temptation. Once I think, he said, I have conquered one sin, it suddenly comes up again, and I wonder where that came from. The constant rat race, the constant harassment of Satan, the ongoing reminder that life is not what is ought to be, these are the things that made my friend long for heaven.
That, my dear reader friends, is the sign of a true Christian!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Treatment Begins

This afternoon I received a call from Boundary Trails Health Center in Winkler (where they say rebuzzen instead of just rebuzze). Julia and I have been to Winkler so often that we might soon also place the "n" and the end of our low German words. I still don't know why Winkler doesn't have a Safeway or two Tim Horton's! Anyways, treatment on the new regime is scheduled to start next Tuesday, March 22. I don't expect Vic Toews to be there for the ribbon cutting but your prayers would be more appreciated anyways. The procedure is typically easy on most patients, but as our cousin said to us yesterday, "Each person is different!" We got a chuckle at that one. Everyone is different just means we hope for your best but it could turn out for the worse.
We are trusting God for His intervention, and His will will be done. Is it not so relaxing not to have to fight with God and not having to repeat senseless mantras in seeking to woo His favor? I am relaxed! God sees the big picture and He will do with me exactly what He wishes, and because He is a good, kind, loving God, I trust Him fully that He is in charge.
The Bible refers to Christians as sheep.  Sheep follow. Sheep do not tell the Master where the cradle of the cat's at. We follow. We do not lead the Shepherd, we follow the Shepherd. We follow, and we shall not want. Why? Because where He leads us, He will supply for us.
I have no desire to be healed if that is going to screw up God's grand design. I am a pawn on His chess board. Move me to the place where You Lord are most glorified.
Have a good day, eh!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Absence of Hermeneutics

Everyone who reads the Bible interprets what he/she reads. Each version of the Bible, even the King James Version, is guilty of some interpretation. Take for example Acts 13:48b- καὶ ἐπίστευσαν ὅσοι ἦσαν τεταγμένοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. (Literal translation- “and whoever believed were appointed to life eternal.”) Trouble is, not one version “interprets the verse the way I did! All the versions show the residue of Calvinism in their “interpretations.” All versions I consulted read like the RSV- “and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” You see the difference? I am not a Calvinist, so I interpret it differently. I believe one first believes and then is ordained to eternal life; Calvinists would opt for one being first ordained to eternal life and then one believes.
Interpretation is shaped by what one believes
But at times the process of interpretation, or the principles, rules or laws of interpretation (called hermeneutics) border on pure stupidity. Sorry, parents! I know you are trying to keep your children from using the “stupid” word, but bear with me.
Take 1 Corinthians 15:29: “Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?” Now please don’t chuckle at this, but this is true. Based on this one verse, the Mormons construct a very, very elaborate theology and very, very thorough genealogical search system so that they can ensure that all possible dead relatives can be baptized for. One verse, totally, radically, and absolutely taken out of context and given a meaning never intended by Paul is ordained as a linchpin teaching of that cult.
But such is the nature of bad hermeneutics.
There is another cult that uses the cut-and-paste method of hermeneutics to support what they wish to believe. Take for example their teaching that says God intends for us to live to the age of 120 years old. One verse in the entire Bible says that “the days of man shall be 120 years” (Genesis 6:3). Well, it pure heresy. And it’s not at all consistent with the Scriptures. Noah lived to be 950 years old (Genesis 9:29). Hey, why stop at 120! Why don’t these “health believers” take Genesis 9:29 as one of their verses to support the teaching that God wills us to live a long life? Genesis 11 gives quite a list of people. Of the entire list, Nahor died the youngest, at a modest age of 138 years. The others lived well past 200 years and many even over 400 years.
So what’s with the 120 years? Well, I imagine that’s what the leader of the church teaches, and cult leaders demand conformity, and so to question the leader is not in keeping with church protocol.
The point is that taking any verse out of context and building a teaching out of that is sheer heresy.
Take Isaiah 57:19 as another example. The paper I was given listing 101 verses (most taken out of context and the rest misinterpreted) that supports the teaching that God WILL heal me of cancer has these 4 words from Isaiah 57:19: “I will heal you.”  Nobody is sick in the chapter. Nobody is dying of cancer in Isaiah 57! Isaiah is a book addressing the spiritual bankruptcy, or spiritual disease of Israel- there is nothing about a physical illness! Isaiah 40-66 is all about spiritual healing of Israel-not about curing cancer, migraines or bed-wetting!
Do not make the Bible say what it doesn’t!
Here, let me demonstrate the opposite side of the coin. Using the same hermeneutics that the “health and wealth cult” does, I will show you a perfectly logical interpretation, using health and wealth cult hermeneutics, of Job 5:7 that teaches that man is destined for trouble. The health and wealth cult talks a lot about one’s destiny. And they pick and choose verses out of context and misinterpret verses to support their view. Now watch this. Using the same logic they do, I take Job 5:7 and say that the Bible teaches that “man is born for trouble.” I am using exactly, precisely the same hermeneutical principles as does the health and wealth cult. They cannot throw stones at my logic, since by so doing they are stoning themselves.
I am not angry at the health and wealth cult followers; I am here to defend the truth of Scripture. I love the Word of God, I love Jesus Christ, and I will defend the truth till my dying day.
 And it starts somewhere very, very near to good hermeneutics.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Exodus 5

Moses and Aaron have just received the pep-talk (Exodus 3-4) of their life with one salient promise from God- "I will deliver Israel from out of Egypt!" With renewed energy, strength and confidence they approach Pharaoh with this message, "The God of Israel says, 'Let My people go!'" One problem. Pharaoh has no clue Who this God is, and he is not about to let this God's people go!
Exodus 5 follows. Exodus 5 ain't so hot of a chapter. In fact, it's a lousy chapter. I can feel with the Israelites. Moses begins to feel for his people as well. They are promised deliverance, and the only result has been increased labor thanks to Pharaoh. Or should we say thanks to Moses. Moses' frustration finally erupts in Exodus 5:22-23: "O LORD, why hast Thou brought harm to this people? Why didst Thou ever send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Thy name, he has done harm to this people; and Thou hast not delivered Thy people at all."
Has that ever happened to you? A great "spiritual" event followed by nothing but trouble, pain and anything but deliverance.
Last night Julia and I were lovingly invited to join a Small Group Bible Study from a neighboring church so they could lay hands on us, anoint us and pray for us personally. It was a fabulous evening of intense prayer and a fantastic experience of God's love in action. This is the first time any group invited us to come and be prayed over! This is truly the church in action.
Today I felt like Exodus 5. So many are praying. So many are supporting us. So many of you are on your knees interceding for us, and today it all seemed to just get worse. I was fatigued, tired and discouraged.
Today we had another oncologist visit at Health Sciences with Dr. Fatoye (who confesses to attend Calvary Temple in Winnipeg and he confessed to believe in Jesus Christ). The KRAS test is back from Toronto (where the Maple Leafs are not doing so great, chuckle, chuckle- sorry Mom). The test showed that I am a candidate for the next treatment regime called CETUXIMAB INJECTION. This is a drug used to treat some kinds of cancers. It is a monoclonal antibody, a type of protein designed to target and interfere with the growth of cancer cells. This is the biological treatment I have been talking about. Cetuximab does not attack the blood cells, so the White Blood count will not be affected. Side effects include heightened visual acuity, restricted mental differentiation, reduced inhibitions, increased sex drive, increase drive to drive Hogs, and eye lash growth. Only one is the right answer! The treatment happens once a week for an eight week period and then assessments are made on its effects. For some it works, for some it does nothing. Just like a well done steak at a drive-by diner. We were told that this treatment is not very tough on most patients. Just like a Ronald's value meal on a family budget. This initial treatment would be administered at Health Sciences Center since there is the danger of an allergic reaction and they are best  trained to deal with such an unlikely event at HSC. So folks, this is the treatment we are hoping that will do wonders for my situation. With God, nothing is impossible.
Today I was discouraged and the thoughts that brought me down were that nothing has helped so far. Please, step into my shoes for just a moment before you cast the stones from your edifice of glee. For 19 months we have been going to Cancer Care and we have NEVER, did you hear that, NEVER had a positive report. NEVER! Never have we heard that the cancer is shrinking. We have never had conclusive evidence of there ever having been a positive effect on cancer death in my body. The tumors have continually grown from the first report we ever got.
I can just hear it that some of you are saying you are too pessimistic Chuck. I am stating to you that truth, and to do otherwise is a lie.
So for 19 months we have juiced vegetables, watched what we ate, we have become social misfits because we eat like tree huggers, we have paid more for groceries by buying organic and we have bought herbs after herbs after herbs and it all seems not to have helped get rid of the cancer. 19 months and not a single solitary lone positive doctor's report!
I guess the Tamp Bay Buccaneers can feel with me. They joined the NFL in 1976. They went 0-14 that season. The next season started the same. They went to 0-12 and somehow managed to win the last two games. They had 26 game losing streak. And then they won. That's what I am hoping for- a win! This I hope will give us a win.
So we went to Safeway to shop for organic juicing veggies and I felt lower than Toronto Stock Exchange on Black Monday. I knew I had to get out of my depression. Julia and I spent time praying in the car pleading for God's mercy and help.
He did. Praise God He did.
We press on! Exodus 13 is coming soon!
Thanks for your prayers.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Personal Note

On a bit of a personal note on which we would covet your prayers is an appointment with the oncologist this Thursday. They called me today on this matter. I am thinking this is relating to the next medical procedure that we have been waiting for. I believe we will be informed if it is a go or a no-go. We have peace about either or. Whenever I get a letter with the return address marked McDermit Ave. I get a chill going through my body. It is always from cancer care, and it still is raw to the surface. We sure appreciate your ongoing prayers.
Otherwise, I had a very good weekend. This afternoon the wheels kind of came off as I had one of those wicked gut attacks. I have no clue what sets them off. The attacks are writhing painful and basically last 5-6 hours and then it's over. They do not occur very frequently, and I have yet to find a way to relief the pain. Wine, baking soda water, hot tea, tylenol, nothing seems to do away with the pain. But the pain always leaves and then life continues as if nothing happened. And we march on towards victory. 1 John 5:4-5 says ὅτι πᾶν τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ νικᾷ τὸν κόσμον: καὶ αὕτη ἐστὶν νίκη νικήσασα τὸν κόσμον, πίστις ἡμῶν. 5τίς [δέ] ἐστιν νικῶν τὸν κόσμον εἰ μὴ πιστεύων ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. (Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world is not the one who believes continually the Jesus is the Son of God [my translation]).Our faith overcomes the world! Praise God! Like that old hymn says, "Faith is the victory, faith is the victory, O glorious victory that overcomes the world."
My favorite song I learned in Africa goes like this (I will try to preserve the beautiful African accent): Maa-ching ta vik-taw-wee da Lawd has konk-ka-ward, maa-ching ta vik-taw-wee we aaw moi dan konk-a-wers. I can still hear them sing, and they would sing it over and over and over and over. Remembering this gives my heart a Godly warm chuckle! I would love to hear them sing that again. "Marching to victory the Lord has conquerored marching to victory we are more than conquerors."
Thanks for your prayers.We are marching on to victory.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cherries, Brazier Queen and Biking

July 2007 Julia and I had a number of firsts in our marriage. We took our first extended Hog trip. We met Albert and Sandy at Brandon and headed west up the Yellowhead to Saskatoon, then Red Deer, Saskatchewan Crossing, AB (on the Banff-Jasper Highway). The weather till there was mostly cool and windy. Then the sun came out and we had extremely hot weather. Alberta and Sandy headed north, and Jule and I went south.I had never ate cherries off the vine so to say- I know that they grow on trees, but I had never picked and ate cherries. On this trip I was determined to do just that. And I ate my first bing cherries off the trees at a cherry u-pick-and-eat-as-you-pick cherry orchard. That was a treat. The lady of the orchard had a unique ability to engage in personalization nondiscrimination conversation. I don't know if we were the first visitors she had had in a while or not. You know how it is. If you have not seen a human being for a while, you just wanna talk, right? They say we have two ears and one mouth because we are to listen twice as much as we talk. I never occurred to me to tabulate her mouth count, but both our ears, Jule and mine, sure had a lot of receiving to do as her oral shipping orifice overloaded our retention receptors. How we got her to talk about her cup size- no, I am not talking about that essential device hockey players wear that makes going to the washroom a leviathan of a chore- I have no idea. Heavy near her heart, it became very clear, were her boobs. I don't know if you ever have met a perfect stranger and before you know it you are on the topic of maternal nursing facilities. I my past conversations with strangers I find it a rather significant achievement to just get past the weather phase. These days one hardly knows what to talk about lest one get accused of some type of racism, begotism, intolerance or sexism. Apparently not so with this Brazier Queen. Now I was there for the cherries, and I do not recall the shadow she cast for her feet, but I'm guessing Dolly Parton may have had to take a number to get in line behind her. Now I have never worked in a cherry orchard so I don't know how that works on one's psyche. Here in Manitoba our tourist attraction- back in the days when I was still farming- was the odd car stopping on the shoulder and running into our field to grab some wheat stalks. Now picture me happening to be at the right spot at the right time and being able to chat with these folks. Now imagine how I could enhance the farmer image by talking to these grain header collectors about the size of my- you get where that would end up? It would have solidified the confirmation that indeed farmers assuredly are quite cognitively inept. The fact is our orchard bust girl could also fall under the nomenclature of farmer, a fruit farmer, but she was indeed quite willing to voluntarily expose the truth about her breast size. I have often been amazed how freely people reveal their deepest needs with me. So what if my undergrad studies majored in psychology. Do I have the resemblance of some tabloid columnist who answers kooky questions from fringe hacks divested of sociological hegemony? I would gladly try to assist the lady with her burden and try to give her a lighter yoke, but perhaps we could start with her childhood potty training regime and advance from there. Well, I did not come there for a therapy session with this lady. I was concerned about cherries at the time, and no bra or bust was going to get between me and them cherries. I don't recall how the topic came to the forefront or how we got out of there with just cherries, but Jule and I had quite a chuckle about that lady. But she was friendly, and we had a good time picking cherries. There were actually two firsts for Jule and me. Picking cherries and talking about breasts sizes with a personal stranger of ours all in the same day. Sorry, I forgot where that was. She was talking about getting a breast reduction so I'm sure the carnival moved to another town.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Day without Gut Aches

This day was the first day in quite some time where I did not have such a bloated gut ache. There are days when my gut just seems to want to explode with pressure. A typical day starts off with being hungry in the morning and having a good breakfast which is usually the start of the gut getting "full." A mid-morning snack followed by a modest lunch just increases the bloated feeling. By supper it is a struggle to just eat something.
Today was different. I never had that debilitating bloated gut ache syndrome that has been so typical of late. I took some digestive aid herb pills at each meal today. Maybe that is the ticket! Whatever, I am thankful to my Lord Jesus that I could enjoy each meal today without the discomfort.
I still have no word about the next chemo treatment whether that is a go or not. In the meantime, I went for a consultation at a naturopath doctor. She did a battery of tests all which indicated proper bodily functions were still happening. Even my weight was up a little since the last time I was weighed. That made me chuckle. My next visit is the coming week, and she will present what she thinks is the best treatment plan for me.
Anyways, there is a bit of a personal note informing you of how my health is doing.
Again, a huge thanks to all who pray for Julia and me. God bless you so much for your support.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wrestling with Faith and Healing

This is a topic that has had a long gestation period. It’s time for conception. These are questions, and do I have questions. It’s about healing and faith.
First, I do not believe God asks us to have faith in something He has either not revealed or explicitly stated. For me faith always has a basis. There is no such thing as blind faith in my theology. O for sure, what I am asked to have faith in may seem far-fetched, but it is still “something.” A simple example to buttress my point.  In Acts 16:31 Paul and Silas give the method by which one receives salvation (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν, Πίστευσον ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν, καὶ σωθήσῃ σὺ καὶ ὁ οἶκός σου [And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household {NASB}])). Πίστευσον is the imperative mood, the mood of command. The verb is in the aorist tense meaning that an action is to be commenced, and is correctly translated as “start to believe in the Lord Jesus.”
OK, so the word “faith” is not used there, but πιστεύω (believe) is the verb for the noun πίστις (faith). And Ephesians 2:8 is pretty clear how we are saved, τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως (for by grace you have been saved through faith [NASB]). To believe and to have faith are synonymous actions.
My point is this: the NT gives very clear instruction how to be saved. And the wonderful thing is that everyone who follows these instructions will be saved! Faith/belief are always based on something concrete that God has revealed, and never are faith/belief to be placed in something God has not revealed.
How about an example of this? Nowhere in the Bible anywhere will I find a command for a person to specifically go to Thompson, MB to be a missionary. It’s just not there. There is a general principle in the NT that Christians are to be missionaries everywhere. But if this person were to tell me that God told her to go to Thompson to be a missionary in that community, I would say to her, “How do you know? You can’t prove it!” Everything of faith can be proven by Scripture. Yes, she sure can prove from Scripture that she is to be His ambassador, but to use Acts 13:2 as her missionary verse for proof that God is commanding her to go to Thompson, please, and pardon my chuckle, that’s just not correct.
I am not trying to be funny, sarcastic or arrogant. I really am attempting to deal with what is for me a serious issue of faith and Biblical teaching, and an issue that I think is inappropriately dealt with by many pious Christians.
Likewise, I can’t prove from Scripture that God told me to specifically marry Julia. Marriage to her lines up with everything that Scripture teaches, but it never says I must marry Julia.
What does this have to do with healing?
Here it is; here is my issue, and I plead for your careful attention. Where in Scripture can I drop my anchor of hope, confidence, trust and absolute certainty that God will heal me of cancer?
Ok, I imagine some readers came up with some verses. Fine. At this point I am not interested in what they say. And here is why.
Are all saved who believe in Jesus? Yes! Why?
Are all healed who believe in God’s healing? No! Why not?
Before anyone goes there, let me go there. Well, if only those who were not healed had believed more! Ok, what does more belief look like? And how does one apply more belief in terms of salvation? Do we ever say, “If only he/she had believed more they would have been saved?” We never say that of Christians. I know of a person would believed God could heal him/her till the day the person died. How could this person believe more?
I was so relieved when at the Springs Church Healing Class this Monday the instructor said nobody should ever say to someone “If only they had believed more they would not have died.”
If both dynamics, salvation and healing, are based on faith or believing, then why does one dynamic- salvation- always result in its intent when faith is applied while the other situation- healing- does not always result in the intended action even though faith is also exercised?
Of course, this is a terribly simplistic treatment of salvation. I realize faith/believing includes obedience. John 3:36 says, πιστεύων εἰς τὸν υἱὸν ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον: ὁ δὲ ἀπειθῶν τῷ υἱῷ οὐκ ὄψεται ζωήν, ἀλλ' ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ μένει ἐπ' αὐτόν. (The one who continually believes in the son continually has life eternal but the one who does not continually obey the son will not see life but the wrath of God continually abides on this person [my translation]) It is rather obvious that ὁ πιστεύων [believes] and ὁ…ἀπειθῶν [obeys] are synonyms. The NT also gives clear guidelines how to exercise our faith/belief/obedience in the outworking of our salvation.
Again, my point is this- everyone who believes is saved- no questions asked, and we have been given clear guidelines on how to live in obedience.
Alright, back to my question about healing. Does everyone get healed who believes God can and will heal? And how much belief is required? And how do I enact this belief? Does the NT give me clear guidelines how I can exercise obedience in this belief that I will be healed? No, it does not! There is no “healing formula” in the NT as there is a “salvation equation” in the NT. The formulas for healing are all unique. One person got mud applied to his eyes, the woman touched the edge of Jesus’ garment, the blind man asked for his sight to restored and Jesus did it without any props, the centurion was told to go home and his son would be healed and in many cases we are not told how healing specifically was given; there does not seem to be a repeating method of how people were healed.
Do you see my frustration?
Healing is a hope everyone has but it is not a hope that is certain. One simply cannot go to a verse and say that verse says that Chuck will be healed of cancer!
The Faith of Salvation is different than the belief for healing. It’s not the same. If it was, then either not all who believed are saved just as not all who believe are healed, or else all who believe are healed just as all who believe are saved. I just don’t see there being the same proof of my healing taking place as there is of my salvation having assurance and absolute certainty.
Do you understand what I am saying?
Does anyone hope in healing with the same hope as that saint hopes in spending eternity in heaven?
And we are right back to the Thompson, MB missionary candidate. She is operating in the same realm of “belief” that the ill person “believing” for healing is functioning at.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


In July of 1983, ya, that's a long time ago, my cousin Lawrence Dueck and I each bought new '83 Gold Wings (Sorry, I came to the brotherhood later! It happened in 2003, 100 years after the brotherhood was born.). We were planning to go "north to Alaska, go north the rush is on!"  The list of essentials in biking vary from rider to driver. One essential I have valued over time is proper footwear, especially in rain. My faith in rain-footwear rests on one proven product- rubber! (Although in 2008 Julia and I ran in torrential rainfall and plastic hog barn boot pull-overs keep me dry- but that's for a later story.) All the hype about- and I don't care if it's Harley's footwear or bike boots made in Turkey, China or Vancouver (where it rains almost constantly)- RAIN PROOF FOOTWEAR has me unconvinced. If it's made of leather, it's not going to keep my feet dry. We get leather from cows, bulls and steers, and they sweat and that's water that is coming through what manufacturers are building "rainproof" footwear out of. It doesn't work. One might as well advertise how absorbent saran wrap is or how fantastic wax paper is in soaking up spills. Rubber is used for a variety of applications- to keep out moisture in many cases.
Lawrence and I are on our way to Alaska. And as we stop to gas up our stomachs at MacDonald's people come- those who dare encroach the personal space of mean bikers [we were on Gold Wings- why do people equate leathers with murderers and bikers with the mission field- we were God loving, Jesus honoring, Spirit filled Christians just looking for a good vacation]- and asked the usual questions. We said we were going to Alaska. We did not receive an overbearing amount of encouragement. Alaska Highway and bikes went together about as well as lament Psalms and comedy sermons. And it rained, and it rained and rained. Yes, our leather, oil enhanced, weathered cowboy boots did not keep our feet dry no matter how much snake oil we plastered on them. Wet feet and a mind bombarded with negative resumes about the Alaska Highway left us pretty much melancholy. 
In Philemon 7 Paul says this about Philemon:
χαρὰν γὰρ πολλὴν ἔσχον καὶ παράκλησιν ἐπὶ τῇ ἀγάπῃ σου, ὅτι τὰ σπλάγχνα τῶν ἁγίων ἀναπέπαυται διὰ σοῦ, ἀδελφέ. (Philemon 1:7) For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother (NASB).
The word ἀναπέπαυται translated "have been refreshed" implies relaxation, refreshment, as a preparation for the renewal of labor or suffering (Rienecker). It's akin to the coffee break.A rest from work to refresh for the next shift. Like a line change in hockey. The change does not mean the player's job is done for the game. It's a rest from the previous shift to prepare for the next shift. The saints are not out of the fire, not drafted out of the fight. No, they are still in the fight, but they have had a refreshment, and now they are ready for the next series of fights and encounters with the evil world forces of darkness. That's the meaning of ἀναπέπαυται
We finally arrived in Grand Prairie, AB. Wetter than the salivations of Pavlov's mutt, we squeaked into the local Zeller's with our soggy boots and socks looking for one item- rubbers. Fashions were out the door. We wanted function, not form. The lady must have had a chuckle as we came into the store. Our dampened spirits from all the negative publicity of bikers going on the Alaska Highway and our extremely humid feet had us ready for a refreshment. It came from the most unlikely source. The lady servicing us was old enough to be our mother twice over, but her spirit was fully tuned up with the optimism of a neonate. She assured us over and over again that the Alaska Highway was not an issue. She gave us new hope. She refreshed us. We needed exactly that lady's enthusiastic prophecy. Dry socks. Rubber boots. Refreshed spirits. We never looked back.
I am going to something as nice to someone today as that lady did to us some 28 years ago.