Thursday, 28 July 2011

Health update

Just a wee update on my progress. 
You can read about the background in two earlier posts here and here.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Gospel and the oncology waiting room

by Mike Pohlman

I recently sat with my wife in the waiting room at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. We were there to meet with Dr. Lupe Salazar to receive the results of Julia’s latest PET/CT scans. The goal: to determine if the cancer was progressing. This drill is an example of our “new normal” since the diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer on Mother’s Day weekend in 2009.
Julia and I talk a lot. In fact, there is no one I would rather visit with on a daily basis. But in oncology waiting rooms, we often find ourselves quiet. Cancer clinics have a way of making you measure your words. And as you consider and feel the weight of why you’re there, common conversations often yield to silence.
Of course, the iPhone is never far away, and in the silence of one’s thoughts the urge to tweet can become irresistible. Here’s what I wrote that day: “Seminary course suggestion: spend three afternoons a week for a semester in a cancer clinic with your mouth shut watching and listening.”
I was moved to write those words because of what I was witnessing in the waiting room all around me. Emotions such as concern, despair, anger, and bitterness were obvious as I studied the faces, watched the body language, and listened to some of the spoken words. But there were also clear examples of hope and joy as individuals and families came and went. Amid all this, I was gripped by the fact that one of the front-desk assistants spoke to us freely about the “bad day” she was having and how unfortunate it was given that it was not yet noon. Clearly the fact that the couple dozen people in the waiting room were fighting cancer was lost on her — at least for the moment. The cancer patients in that waiting room could just as well have been waiting for haircuts. Alas, for this employee, it was just another day at work filled with mundane tasks of checking in and scheduling people.
The pastorate is all about God and people. As pastors, we have the wonderful (and terrible) privilege of shepherding people to God in Christ every day. Cancer clinics are an indispensable resource for pastors as we strive for faithfulness in our calling, because they keep us grounded in the greatest realities in the universe... 

Read the whole article here

Saturday, 9 July 2011

A beginner’s guide to living, and dying, in joy

I thoroughly enjoyed heading east to the Faith Mission Convention last week. The highlight was hearing Alistair Begg preach on Romans 12:1-3.

During his message he mentioned the first two questions found in the Heidelburg Catechism:

What is your only comfort in life and death?                                                                  


What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

Big questions, it’d be worth stopping here and thinking about how you’d answer, but here’s how the catechism tackles them:

1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?                                                                   
 A. That I am not my own,[1] but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death,[2] to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.[3] He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.[5] He also preserves me in such a way[6] that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head;[7] indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.[8] Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life[9] and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.[10]
[1] I Cor. 6:19, 20 [2] Rom. 14:7-9. [3] I Cor. 3:23; Tit. 2:14. [4] I Pet. 1:18, 19; I John 1:7; 2:2. [5] John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14, 15; I John 3:8. [6] John 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; II Thess. 3:3; I Pet. 1:5. [7] Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18. [8] Rom. 8:28. [9] Rom. 8:15, 16; II Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14. [10] Rom. 8:14.
2. Q. What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?
A. First, how great my sins and misery are;[1]
second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery;[2]
third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.[3]
[1] Rom. 3:9, 10; I John 1:10. [2] John 17:3; Acts 4:12; 10:43. [3] Matt. 5:16; Rom. 6:13; Eph. 5:8-10; I Pet. 2:9, 10.

You can read the rest of the Heidelbueg Catechism here

Kevin DeYoung has written a really good book on the Heidelberg Catechism called ‘The good news we almost forgot’ preview available here.

Here’s something of what he has to say about the first question:

Heidelberg is asking, "What is your solace in life? What is your only real security?”…

…it poses the most important question we will ever face. What enables you to endure life and face death unafraid? Is it that you read your Bible every day? That you attend church every Sunday? That you give to the poor? That you have a cushy retirement account saved up? That you haven’t committed any of the big sins in life?

 We live in a world where we expect to find comfort in possessions, pride, power and position. But the Catechism teaches us that our only true comfort comes from the fact we don’t even belong to ourselves.

 How countercultural and counterintuitive!

 We endure suffering and disappointment in life and face death and the life to come without the fear of judgement, not because of what we’ve done or what we own or who we are, but because of what we do not possess, namely, our own selves.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Happy Anniversary

Happy 5th anniversary Debs!

None But You

Whose tears have soaked my collar dark?
None but yours, no, none but yours.
Whose sorrows leave the deepest mark?
None but yours, no, none but yours.

Who gave herself to me alone?
None but you, no, none but you.
Who is the only one I’ve known?
None but you, no, none but you.

There is no other I desire
None but you, no, none but you.
Till death my deepest friend, my fire:
None but you, no, none but you.

John Piper from Velvet Steel
Available for free download here