Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chemotherapy Session #2

20170327_090159 (768x1024)Joyce and I are back home from my latest chemotherapy session.  It went well and so far there are no side effects.  Actually my red blood count was .1 points too low to do the session but the doctor gave the go-ahead to proceed with it. I thought the second session was easier than the first one. We will see if the side effects are also easier. The doctors seem pretty confident that this session would take care of the swelling from my edema. My hair is falling out even more as you can tell from the picture.  Thank you again for praying for me. We are praying that the T cells will die, the lymph nodes will shrink, and my body will be able to handle everything.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Weekend Visitors

 20170325_210057_002 (1024x768)We were happy to have Jim and Kay Sawyer come up and visit us this weekend. They live in San Leandro, but Jim is our Seminary Dean at PIU and comes out every semester for a few weeks to participate in meetings, teach Seminary classes and spend time on the campus with the students and faculty. They c20170326_135327 (768x1024)ame up for the weekend and spent some time with us Friday and Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning.  It was nice to have somebody to talk theology with.  I especially enjoyed  worshipping with them on Sunday morning.  We watched a Francis Chan  sermon on YouTube and then spent some time praying together. It was really great to have some good fellowship  and have some people praying over me and an opportunity to pray for them too: very encouraging.

I am also beginning to lose hair in bunches. So Joyce basically just cut off  most of my hair and left it very short.  At least when it falls out now there's not long hairs everywhere. I'll keep taking pictures of it as it falls out. Here is the latest. Tomorrow is my second chemotherapy session. I would appreciate your prayers for that.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reading Through the Psalms #8 (107-118)

Psalms volume 2We now move into the fifth and final book of the Psalms (107-150) today accompanied by Psalms, vol. 2, The College Press NIV Commentary, by S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn. These psalms look forward to the hope that God will end the exile by sending his priest-king Messiah who will restore the kingdom. I am posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

Psalm 107 begins the final (5) book of the Psalms. Books 1-3 have recounted the establishment of the covenant with David, but also the failure of the Davidic dynasty. Book 4 admits the justice of the exile, but asks God how long it will be before He forgives the nation and renews the blessing. The seemingly unsolvable problem is the sin of the nation which must be judged. The answer to the problem is God's passionate commitment, hesed, to His covenant people. He will make a way by becoming a human king Himself and saving His people. 107 opens with this theme, emphasizing that our only hope is to cry out to God in our helplessness and trust in Him alone for deliverance. 108 merges two older psalms into a new psalm praising God's hesed. 109 laments that even close friends will reject hesed and asks God to vindicate the psalmist and bring about justice according to His hesed. YHWH will do this through a coming Davidic descendant (110) a great priest-king who will lead His people to victory over evil, judge the nations and extend God's kingdom throughout the earth. What people could not do, God did by becoming human, through Jesus.

It appears that God’s ḥesed is exercised on behalf of his people at his pleasure, on behalf of those who are absolutely helpless by their own fault or not, sinful or not. The trigger in each situation is the “cry” to the LORD. God hears or sees and responds by “delivering,” “saving,” or “bringing them out” of their distress. These are demonstrations of God’s “wonderful deeds”—his ḥesed. Psalm 107, 303

The perspective of Psalm 108, like that of the Psalter as a whole, is eschatological, for it simultaneously celebrates and asks for God’s help.… Renouncing human help, it affirms that human life and the life of God’s people depend finally on God (vv. 12–13).” Psalm 108, 306

The psalmist...is confident that Yahweh God stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him (v. 31). Hence, “standing at the right hand of the needy one” is God’s normal position, a comfort to all who find themselves part of the “poor and needy.” Psalm 109, 313

It is best to view the term “sit” as a pronouncement of an enthronement at God’s right hand, a corulership with God Himself! Yahweh is king (Psalms 93, 96–99), but now he invites the Lord, a Davidic descendant, to reign with him in order to defeat all his enemies. It is guaranteed! Psalm 110, 320

Psalms 111-112 invite the reader to meditate on God's great works of the past. When the new priest-king comes (110), he will be bringing in an even greater "exodus" than the one from Egypt. 111 celebrates God's mighty works in the exodus and His wisdom in giving the torah to  His people. 112 urges us to respond to God by imitating His just, merciful, gracious and generous character. This is the means to a productive and happy life.

The works of God are worthy to be studied and sought after. They must not be neglected, rather one should “delight in them.” Psalm 111, 337

Those who fear Yahweh learn what true happiness and fulfillment in life is all about: being upright, gracious, and compassionate toward the sinner, generous in giving to the needy, and seeking what is fair and just for the helpless. Psalm 112, 344

Psalms 113-118 are called the "Egyptian Hallel" and invite the reader to praise God for his deliverance in the past from Egypt. 113 calls us to praise the "Name" (character) of God. 114 recalls the parting of the sea and the Jordan River after the Exodus. When God acts amazing things happen! 115 contrasts YHWH and his worshippers with false gods and theirs. Only YHWH is really able to make things happen. In 116, the psalmist vows to serve God because God has delivered him from certain death. 117 calls on everyone, in all nations, to praise YHWH for His covenant loyalty and truth. 118 sums up the themes of the Egyptian Hallel and celebrates God providing victory for their king. It also reminds the exiles that God's past victories give hope for a greater exodus to come and an even greater king.

Only those truly devoted to God have an inner knowledge of God’s Name—Yahweh—its meaning and significance. They have a sense of the great I AM, his divine Presence. Those who know God’s name can say: “He knows my name!” No matter your humble beginnings at birth, your needs at present, or your unfortunate circumstances that linger, you as God’s servant know God’s name. Psalms 113, 345–346

Throughout the psalm ironic twists are presented as a result of the presence of God...bodies of water such as a sea do not “flee,” and a river never stops or turns back. But at God’s presence these two bodies of water did move in miraculous ways. And so the psalmist reasons, “If God can do these things in our past, what could he do in our future?” There is always hope for the people who have such a God. May God’s Presence always be with us!  Psalm 114, 349–350

While the pagan myths present the creation of mankind as an afterthought and as “slaves” for the gods, the Hebrew understood mankind as the crown of God’s creation, corulers on the earth, responsible for its upkeep and care. Only a God who is free to do what he pleases can do this! Psalm 115, 354

God watches over the “little people,” in this case, the psalmist who has experienced a near-death sickness and/or some affliction that he would cry out, “All men are liars” (v. 11b). For emphasis the psalmist literally says: “Me he saved!” In other words, “God helps those who cannot help themselves." Psalm 116, 356

This psalm is a great universal appeal for all nations and peoples to praise the one true God—Yahweh! Yahweh does not exclusively belong to Israel. Rather, Israel’s “chosenness” by God is only a means to an end. All nations will be blessed through Abraham’s seed. Psalm 117, 361

Another double phrase emphasizes the need to take refuge in God rather than mankind (cp. Ps 2:12; 34:8) and to trust God explicitly (Ps 84:12). The term “princes” represents the wealthy political leaders who are able to do their own will with a word or a “gift.” One must not trust in such human power for it corrupts and destroys in the end. It is the choice between two types of power—divine or human. Psalm 118, 366

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Friday Morning Medical Update

It is Friday morning in California and we have just returned from the doctor, or I should say doctors.  We first went to the urologist to take a look at the nephrostomy hole in my back. It seems that I did not have an infection. It's just irritation from the normal wear and tear on the entry point into my body. So I took the  antibiotics for no reason and got a rash for it. Oh well, it is prudent to play it safe with a compromised immune system. So now I need to drink lots of water to flush the antibiotic out of my system. Nevertheless,this was good news. The second piece of good news that I got was at the oncologist’s office. I was there for a blood draw.  First, my white blood count number was 6.25.  Since the minimum number is 5, that was very good news. Thank you all for praying for my white blood count this week. Your prayers were answered with a “yes.”.  My red blood count was still a little bit low but right on the border. The nurse thought that I should be able to proceed no problem with the  chemotherapy on Monday.  Again thank you everyone for praying. Please continue in prayer for my chemotherapy that's coming up on Monday. Also it seems my hair is coming out and bunches. I will take a picture of that for a later post.

Affirming the Apostle's Creed by J. I. Packer #2

packerWe are continuing to work through J. I. Packer's little book, Affirming the Apostle's Creed. In this post we finish up the section about God the Father and move into the section about God the Son. I am posting from my reading in New Testament theologies and devotionals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday..  I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book.

The creed affirms God as "Maker of Heaven and Earth." The great difference between the Triune God and everything else is that God is eternal, uncreated, unlimited, while we, and the rest of creation, are time-bound, created, limited and dependent. This affirmation acknowledges our absolute dependence on God for our life and being. We own nothing. God is gracious and merciful to include us in the management of His world.

It was to show us the Creator rather than the creation, and to teach us knowledge of God rather than physical science, that Genesis 1 and 2, along with such celebrations of creation as Psalm 104 and Job 38–41, were written. 54

The Creator-creature distinction reminds us that God does not depend on us as we depend on him, nor does he exist by our will and for our pleasure, nor may we think of his personal life as being just like ours. J. I. Packer, 55

The world exists in its present stable state by the will and power of its Maker. Since it is his world, we are not its owners, free to do as we like with it, but its stewards, answerable to him for the way we handle its resources. 56

The affirmation that we believe "in Jesus Christ" is what makes Christianity unique in the world. Jesus identifies him as a fully human historical person. Christ describes his "office-title" as the expected prophet, priest and king who would set up and rule over God's kingdom. Lord identifies him as the 2nd person of the Trinity. In Jesus, God Himself has come to earth in human form. This is the claim of the whole New Testament.

Christ” is what Presbyterians would call an “office-title,” identifying Jesus as God’s appointed savior-king for whom the Jews had long been waiting. Since the Christ was expected to set up God’s reign and to be hailed as overlord throughout the world, to call Jesus Christ was to claim for him a decisive place in history and a universal dominion that all men everywhere must acknowledge. 60

If Jesus is God the Son, our co-creator, and is also Christ, the anointed savior-king, now risen from death and reigning (sitting, as the Creed puts it, “on the right hand of God the Father almighty,” in the place of authority and power), then he has a right to rule us, and we have no right to resist his claim. 63

Next, Packer discusses what it means that Jesus is God's only son. First it means that Jesus is fully God. Jesus has no less power, authority, position or any other Divine attribute than the Father because both are fully God. Second, he is "begotten" not made. That is He is just as eternal as the Father. The Father-Son relationship denotes a familial love relationship, not a time bound or hierarchical one, into which the Son, through his incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension, brings us.

Jesus was not just a God-inspired good man. Nor was he a super-angel, first and finest of all creatures, called “god” by courtesy because he is far above men. Jesus was, and remains, God’s only Son, as truly and fully God as his Father is. 67–68

The pre-mundane “begetting” of the Son...must be thought of not as a momentary event whereby God, after being singular, became plural, but as an eternal relationship whereby the first person is always Father to the Son and the second is always Son to the Father. 69

Understand it or not, the fact remains that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14); that was the supreme, mind-blowing miracle. Love prompted it; and our part is not to speculate about it and scale it down but to wonder and adore and love and exalt “Jesus Christ … the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). 70

Friday, March 24, 2017

Another Update: End of Resting Week

20170323_084029 (768x1024)Well it's Thursday here in California and it's the end of my week of “rest.” The biggest issue has been trying to get rid of the infection in the hole in my back. The doctor switched me to a stronger antibiotic and it seems to be doing the job. The infection has been getting slowly better, but the antibiotic seems to be causing a nasty rash. We are trying to call the doctor for this one. I would appreciate your prayers for this. We will be going to the oncologist office tomorrow for a blood test. They mainly will be looking at my white blood count to make sure that I'm ready and able for the chemotherapy session on Monday.  This will be my second chemotherapy session. It'll be interesting to see how it compares with the first one in terms of side effects etc.

I was able to have a nice online conversation yesterday with Howard Merrell and Nino Pate. We discussed the future of our Seminary  and the just completed board meeting. It was great to see them and to be involved, just a little bit, again. PIU is greatly in need of your prayers. The main issue is the need for  an Academic Vice President.  We need to find somebody who has a doctoral degree and some experience in school administration.  This is required for our accreditation. Also please be praying for student applications.  Even though we try to make the school as affordable as possible, many of the students are unable financially to come up to the Guam campus. Thank you for praying for PIU.

This weekend we will be meeting with Jim and Kay Sawyer. Jim serves as our Seminary Dean on Guam  and teaches Theology and church history for us. It'll be fun to meet with them this weekend.  Joyce and I appreciate your prayers and especially pray for us as we move into the second round of chemotherapy next week  God bless.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Another Update: Resting

20170321_084345 (768x1024)I'm at the beginning of the third week after the first chemotherapy session.  This is my “week of rest.”  My next chemotherapy session is scheduled for March 27th.  So right now I'm resting.  There are a couple things going on.  The infection in the hole for my nephrostomy is doing better and under control by the  antibiotics, but it's still a little sore. I would appreciate your prayers that the infection would completely disappear. It also looks like I'm beginning to lose my hair. Everywhere I go I'm finding my hair on the ground, in my cereal bowl, on my shirt. I guess I'll document that with some pictures.  Edema is getting a little better but it's still  a major annoyance. (Below left you can see the lymphoma lesions and swelling on my lower legs.) I was hoping it would go away a little faster. It probably hampers my activity more than anything else.

20170315_112322 (768x1024)With the rest comes the temptation to overthink things.  My mind tends to wander and make plans  dealing with things I have no control over whatsoever. Psalm 131, in my morning devotions, was a good reminder to quit doing that and trust the Lord.  My words from the Lord are still “wait” and “trust.”  It really bothers me sometimes that I'm not in control of anything in my life. Of course, any thought of control in my life before all this was an illusion anyway.  Maybe I'm seeing things a little more clearly.  So, thank you for keeping Joyce and I in your prayers.  We appreciate we appreciate them very much.