July 14th Update: “Never Give Up”

Week five is complete and it has been a semi-rough week.   I had chemo on Monday and have been sick pretty much the whole week. Nausea and tiredness and dehydration have been the three main issues, however it has been hard to control my sugar due to the lack of keeping things down my tummy.  I will be taking extra fluids at the hospital during the weekend

On the positive side I have 15 more radiation treatments and one more chemo treatment. My voice continues to get stronger!  If I have no more delays I will be through with treatment by August 3rd. I do expect my blood level to drop again, but I am hoping we can take any needed shots during a weekend and not have to take a week off.

Please pray for the following: 1) that my nausea and dehydration go away, 2) that my blood levels stay strong and 3) stay on schedule.

I could not sleep last night and God reminded me of my favorite verse of scripture and the story that goes with it.  In the summer of 1969 I met a man named John Westbrook.  John was a former NFL football player and the first black athlete to play football in the old Southwest Conference at Baylor.  In the spring of 1970 John came to our high school and spoke freely proclaiming his love for Jesus.   It was my privilege to get to introduce him that day and after the program he gave me an autograph picture of his Baylor days with these words: “To Keith, Never Give Up! Galatians 2:20.”   I immediately went home and memorized that verse.

A few years later when I was the Director of Student Ministries at Wayland Baptist University, I had the chance to invite John to speak at our chapel services.  John shared his personal stories with me about how hard it was to be a black athlete back in his day.  He was called all kinds of names, screamed at, hated and treated unfairly by people during football games.  That is why he used the phrase “Never Give Up” and Galatians 2:20. There were times it would have been easy for him to quit, but he didn’t.  He ran the race for the cause of God’s glory.  John became a pastor after his football days and was committed to sharing the gospel with anyone that would listen.

When I was restless last night God reminded me of the phrase, “never give up”.  I renewed my commitment to serve Him and to follow Him and to be used by Him in whatever way I can.  I cannot let anything stop me from proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. I must never give up. Christ doesn’t give up on us, nor should we give up on him.

Galatians 2:20    20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me[1]

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ga 2:19–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

July 6th Update: JOY and PLEASURE

I have now gone through week 4 of my treatment, however this week was not what I was expecting.  After having a radiation treatment and my lab work done on Monday it was discovered that my white blood count was too low to administer chemo.  Not only no chemo this week, but radiation had to be stopped because they were going to give me Neupogen shots to boost my white blood count.

I have not felt very good this week and for the first time I was unable to swallow my daily medications. Now I have to crush up the pills I am unable to swallow and administer them through my feeding tube.  We were able to find vitamins and pain medication in liquid forms, which helps a lot.

Today I am feeling good and I am going to have an ear test this afternoon.  One of the side effects of the chemo is hearing loss, so they want to see where I am today and I’m sure after all of this is done I will have another hearing to test to compare.

The good news is that my blood counts are back up and I will resume chemo and radiation next Monday.   A couple of other praises, 1)  my ear pain is gone. 2)  I have a stronger voice today.

I finished the book my cousin Belinda sent to me called “Kisses from My King”  and it was well worth the read.  The author’s cancer was a different kind than mine, however there are a lot of similar feelings and emotions that cancer patients have and I could relate to where she was.  Many of the scriptures that she used are the same ones that I cling to.    However, there was one verse that stuck in my heart and I have committed it to memory this week.

Psalm 16:11

 11 You will show me the way of life,

granting me the joy of your presence

          and the pleasures of living with you forever.[1]

 

It is difficult for people to understand that during a tough circumstance how anyone could find joy and pleasure.  God promises his children that no matter what we are going through that 1) he will be there with us and 2) that we have the eternal hope of heaven.  Those two things are the source of joy and pleasure.

Everything in the world is temporal.  Even our bodies are temporary with souls awaiting the promise of an eternal life with God.  Our joy and pleasures will never be found eternally in the temporal stuff of this world.  Jesus really is the only answer to our life. He is the way, the truth and the life!

 

[1]Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation(Ps 16:11). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

June 29th Update: ABOUND

“Abound”: to be or exist in abundance, with the implication of being considerably more than what would be expected—‘to abound, to be in abundance, to be a lot of, to exist in a large quantity, to be left over.[1]

On the surface “abound”  is a positive word, right?   We all want to overflow with more money, resources and relationships.  Can we ever have too much of a good thing?  Of course we can.

I have completed my third week of treatment and the effects of the treatment is certainly beginning to kick in.   Last Saturday was a great day, I felt good and we went on a little trip in the morning and overall it was just a marvelous day.  But Sunday started out a little rough with nausea and suddenly there was more pain in my throat area.  The chemo and radiation is working!

I am finding it more difficult to swallow  and most everything taste like a tin can.  (metallic and hard to swallow)  So, I have started using the nutritional drinks and putting them down the feeding tube.  The first time I used the feeding tube I used a small portion of the nutrition drink and I thought that it wasn’t too bad. The second time I decided to use a whole can, diluted with water.  I discovered a new meaning in the word “abound” with “a lot of” and “in excess of” nutritional drink.  I put more in than my stomach could handle and of course there was only one way it would come out quickly.  So this nausea experience was on me and a new learning curve has set in.

Next week I have another chemo treatment on Monday.  Please pray for minimal nausea.  I have experienced more nausea than I thought I would.  Also, pray for my ability to swallow.  The speech therapist continues to urge me to swallow by drinking and eating as much as I can.   Also next week I see a dietitian and hopefully they will help me with the right amount of nutrition I need to be taking every day.

Last week I shared Romans 15:13 and I want share that verse again today in a different translation.

Romans 15:13

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope[2]

We should abound with so much hope that it is “a lot of” hope for the world to see.  We don’t have to trust in ourselves to fill our hearts with hope.  The Holy Spirit stands ready and is indeed always filling us with His power.  We should overflow with hope; the world should easily see the hope we have in Christ,

I just got home from a dinner with Roy and Kay Savage and Roy and Sharon Moody.  These two men have been spiritual giants in my life.  Roy Moody mentored me in the 80’s when he was our interim pastor at FSBC Liberal, Ks.  He taught me the practical aspects of being a pastor. He took me by the hand and showed me how to make visits with the lost.  Roy Savage and I met a short time after and he has taught me the pastoral aspects of the ministry, he is always full of encouragement and smiles. Both of these men mean the world to me and it was good to talk about our alma mater Wayland Baptist University.

These men have been friends for a long time and they have had a significant impact on my life.  It is good to abound in friendships that love you and care about shaping you for kingdom work.  I want to express my gratitude and love for these men and  their families.

 

[1]Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains(electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 599). New York: United Bible Societies.

[2]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 15:13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

June 22 Trusting in HIM

I have completed the second week of my treatment.  Overall it has been a good week, however I am starting to feel the effects of the radiation treatment.  I can still eat but I know that it won’t be long before it may not be possible to do so.

We had a visit with a speech therapist to help strengthen my ability to swallow.  She was most helpful and shared a lot of good information and exercises for me to do this week.  We will meet a dietitian some time next week.   Most of my week will be filled with radiation and lab work.

My cousin sent me a book to read about a fellow struggler from Amarillo, TX.  I feel like I should know the couple since they went to Paramount Baptist.  Their story is so familiar to what most families go through when they discover their illness and then reality sinks in.  Their faith sustained them through the journey.  She reminded me of the verse that came to mean so much to Janette and I when we went through her journey with cancer.

Roman 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in you.”

The first book I remember reading of someone dealing with cancer was from a pastor and theologian named John Claypool.  The book was called “Tracks of a Fellow Struggler” which chronicled the story of his daughter who died with cancer.  Bottom line is this, it doesn’t matter if you are a preacher, a CPA, a house wife or a precious little daughter; cancer is not bias as to who it attacks.  And all of us will have similar questions and similar paths as we track through the journey.

We must find hope, joy and peace in every situation regardless of our journey.  It all begins by trusting in God and that He is in control of every aspect of our life.   Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, He will speak to us and He will comfort us in every situation.

June 17th Family and Fathers

I have completed week one of my treatment.   I had a couple of days of nausea, but overall I am doing well.  I also had to make a quick visit on Friday to the cancer center to get extra liquids to help with my kidney functions.  (Need to drink more water)

I was really blessed to have my mother and my wife take care of me this past week. My sister and brother-in-law came to spend the night and pick up mom. On top of that our daughter-in-law was able to come and visit before taking our car back to Colorado where they are part of a church plant. It has been good to have my family close by these past couple of weeks.

Here is next weeks schedule so you can know how to pray:

Radiation Monday through Friday

Lab work on Monday

Radiation Dr. visit on Tuesday

Oncologist Dr. visit on Wednesday

Lab work on Thursday.

Please pray for my blood counts to stay at good levels.

Today is father’s day and for some reason my thoughts moved toward thinking about Joseph and Jacob in the Old Testament.  In Acts chapter 7 Stephen is proclaiming the word of God and gives a quick history lesson to those in attendance.

Acts 7:12-14 

12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. 13 And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. 14 And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all.[1]

After years of being separated Joseph was suddenly in a position to see his family and to do something for them.  He was able to introduce his whole family to royalty. Not only that, but imagine the emotions Joseph felt when we was reacquainted with his father.  His elderly father thought his son was dead, but God allowed father and son to be together one more time before Jacob was called home to heaven.

Tomorrow will be the two months since my father entered into glory.  This is my first father’s day where I have not been able to talk to my dad.  But just think of it, my dad is able to talk to Jacob.  While I am sad and I have shed a few tears today, I must keep my focus on the future promise that God has for every believer.  Someday, my dad will be introduce me to Jacob, Joseph and all of the other patriarchs of faith.

I love my family and I long to see all of them more frequently than I am able.  However I am so glad to be a part of the family of God.   The eternal promise of eternal life with the eternal family of God is beyond my earthly comprehension.

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 7:12–14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

June 14th “Call Unto Me”

Jeremiah 33:3

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.[1]

Today is the fourth day after chemo and will be my third day of radiation.  Yesterday was definitely a day of feeling the effects of the chemo.  I had a little nausea and slept most of the day.  I feel better today.  My radiation doctor spent a great deal of time with us this week and again was very detailed.

We have been overwhelmed with the amount of cards, phone calls, texts and social media contacts telling us they are praying. THANK YOU!

I do believe the words of Jeremiah 33:3.   God invites us to call to him.  I always pray, but our prayer life seems to increase when we are going through extreme health issues.  The task is a simple one in that we should always call out to our Creator.  When we don’t we lose the opportunity to hear his answer.

God will always answer us.  In that answer he reveals himself to us.  Not in visible ways, but in ways that assures us that he is God and that he loves us despite our circumstances. In the revelation he shows us great and mighty things that we don’t know about.

There is much that we do not know about God.  I long for glimpses of our Holy God.  I pray that he will reveal himself to me in ways I have ever known.  I know that God wants to be glorified in every aspect of my life.

My prayer today is simple, “God I call to you, hear my prayer and answer me.  Show me great and mighty things that I have ever known before and I will forever glorify you.”

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Je 33:3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

June 11th 2nd Update

THANK YOU!  I know I had many of you praying for me today.  I have sensed the presence of God during my treatment.  Everything went smooth and I feel very good this evening.   We saw the Doctor for about an hour and then we started with fluids and nausea medicine for two hours and then the chemo was put in until about 4:30 PM.  The nausea medicine helped me to sleep most of the afternoon.

Tomorrow I will go back for two hours of fluids and then I start my 35 days of radiation.

It is simply eye awakening to take chemo and to be in the same room with several others who are fighting for their lives.  My wife is amazing as she is unafraid to go and talk with each patient.  She is a ray of sunshine for me and for all of the other patients.

I leave you with these verses.

Psalms 103:1-3

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

and all that is within me,

bless his holy name!

   Bless the Lord, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits,

   who forgives all your iniquity,

who heals all your diseases,

   who redeems your life from the pit,

who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, [1]

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 103:1–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

June 11th “Immeasurable Power!”

One of my pastor friends reminded me of Ephesians 3:20-21 this week.

 

Ephesians 3:20-21

 

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.[1]

 

Today I start chemo and this passage of scripture reminds me of the power of God.  I like the NIV translation which says God is able to do immeasurably more that we could ever imagine or think.

 

Do I wish God would heal me instantly, YES!  But this journey is a process I must go through, so today I am asking for immeasurable power to go through this chemo with limited side effects.  Please pray for me and for my wife as we go through this.

 

I am so grateful that my mom has come to help this week. It is always good to have your mama close by when you are in need.   It has been a good couple of days already just to spend time together.

 

In all and through all,  “to him be glory.”  May the power of God be revealed in this process and in this journey so that the name of Jesus will be known throughout the world.

 

I have already been prayed over by so many people today. Many have texted me or have placed prayer request on Facebook.   THANK YOU to all of you, you prayers mean so much to us.   We love you all!

 

Hopefully I will be able to update you later today.

 

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 3:20–21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

June 7th Eternal Life

Years ago my dad taught me a verse from the Bible.  John 5:24 was his favorite verse and it goes like this: 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.[1].”  He would go on to say, “Keith, did it say you had or that you will have it? No, it says you have eternal life when you believe in Christ.”

 

I will never forget dad’s life verse.  He clung to that verse; he lived by that verse.  When dad got sick this past spring, I asked him one day if he remembered the verse he taught me years ago.  He started quoting John 3:16 and I said that’s not the one.  I said “verily” and he picked it up from there and very boldly with loudness quoted the verse.  The nurse next to us asked if dad was a preacher too.    I told her no, but it was his favorite verse.

 

There was a great deal of assurance in my sermon when I used that verse for dad’s funeral.   He heard the word of God, he believed in Christ and therefore without doubt we knew that dad was in the holy presence of God when he passed away on April 18 at 1:14 PM.

 

I must admit the news that my cancer is at stage four didn’t sink in until last night.  I have been a believer and a follower of Christ for a long time.  I have been in the ministry most of my life.  I know the right things to say when others are facing these kinds of life issues.  Suddenly last night at 2:30 AM I was keenly aware that this stuff could alter my life. Don’t get me wrong; I am not worried about it. But it was a great time to get honest with God and talk with him for a few minutes about reality, but also surrender to whatever He wants.  My faith is still the center of my life.  I have heard the words of God and I believe in Jesus Christ, therefore I know without a shadow of doubt that I have eternal life.

 

Here is my schedule for next week:

Monday June 11 –  Lab work and seven hours of Chemo

Tuesday June 12 –  Two hours of fluids and check up

Wednesday June 13 – Two hours of fluids and check up

Thursday June 14 –  Lab work

 

Somewhere during this week I will probably start radiation, but I have not been scheduled yet.

 

Please continue to pray as I start this part of the journey.

 

There is extreme joy in Christ.

[1]The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jn 5:24). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

June 6th “Oh How He Loves Me and You”

Today I got the results from my PET scan and I will share the results with you in just a moment. Today I feel good and I am grateful for all the prayers and thoughts coming our way.

Romans 5:7-8

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.[1]

 

This is the best part of this passage in Romans 5:1-8. I always struggled with verse 7 until I committed this to memory.  The truth is none of us are righteous.  The Bible tells us that none are righteous, no not one!  The second part is even more condemning in that we are not even good.  But God loves us so much that even while we are sinners, He gave his one and only Son for our sins.  That is a great demonstration of love.  It is a love I do not deserve, it is a love that God heaps upon His children.  Oh how He loves you and me.

 

Now for the update, it is not the news we wanted to hear. The cancer is in at least two of my lymph nodes making it a stage 4 cancer.    It doesn’t change the treatment plan and I still believe that the treatment will have a high rate of success.  However, God’s demonstration of His love and His awesome power will take care of me. I am sure of this!

 

Billy Graham urged every preacher, every evangelist and every believer to constantly preach the cross.  The world tries to take us down a path of pluralism.  The world constantly removes the power of the cross with the words of agnosticism and atheism.  “Christ died for us,” we must never stop proclaiming the love of God on the cross of Calvary.  Without the cross there is no hope, there is no glory and there is no future.  With the cross there is the hope of glory and an eternal future.

 

My summary of Romans 5:1-8 is this:  God demonstrated his love for me on the Cross.   His perfect Son died because I am imperfect and a sinner.   However, my faith in Christ has made me righteous and justified before God because he has given me the free gift of His saving grace.  I can deal with all kinds of suffering and turn it into joy and hope because of the wonderful promises of God.

 

Perhaps this is a passage of scripture you should memorize too. It gives me great comfort on a daily basis.

 

I love you all.

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 5:7–8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.