Tag Archive: family


Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children.

Walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us………..

Ephesians 5:1-2a

In Genesis, we read that the Lord God told Adam, “because you have listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, Do not eat from it: the ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

Now many will say, after reading this passage, God is mean, unjust, and just cruel. If He is so nice, you would think He would have told Adam, this is only your first mistake, I will give you another chance.

But God is just, and if you are just, you have to do the right and just thing, the law demands it. If you did not, then you are not just.

The Lord God, who created Adam told Adam up front, before hand, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For on the day you eat from it, you shall certainly die.” What did the Lord God actually say to Adam, “All these trees, here in the garden, you can freely eat from; all of them. But there is one that will cause you to die, don’t eat from that tree. I have given you life, but this fruit, that offers the knowledge of good and evil (Law), causes death.”

Before Adam gained the knowledge of the law. In God’s holiness, God only had to share His grace with Adam, not His justice. Paul clearly gives us the reason the Lord God told Adam not to eat from that tree. The law produces wrath. And where there is no law, there is no transgression. Romans 4:15

What we also neglect to read, and understand, is the Lord God firstly told the serpent (Satan), “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility(enmity) between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. (just a note: the woman does not have seed, the man does. The Lord God was letting us know right from the beginning that a miraculous (virgin) birth would occur). He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. ”God was telling Satan that a man, born of a woman, will someday deliver a mortal blow to Satan. In this same verse, the Lord God is telling everyone, that Yeshua the Messiah (the Christ), Jesus Christ, will someday come and defeat Satan, along with the sin that Adam just committed, and death because of the knowledge of good and evil. In Christ, the Lord God would once again, in grace, meet, walk, and talk with His creation

I have been a Christian now for 38 years. I put my faith in Jesus Christ when I was 34 years old. Over these last 38 years, I have heard a certain theme about God. He is mean, demanding, unjust, angry, kills people, often good people, and even lets children starve. Many who think this, who believe this, I have found never studied, much less read, the only Book that actually reveals who God is.

There are some who claim they have read the Bible, but also say it was for the purpose of finding errors in it. And there are others who have started out with that same purpose, and have come to believe the Bible is the perfect, inerrant Word of God. There are others who believe, but do not read the Bible. Often I have found that it is because they are just not readers. However they believe and are often eager to hear and know more about the Bible. Then there are others who were told about the wonderful love that God has for them. And because of His love, He sent his Son, to pay for the sin Adam did, and all the sins they have done. They believed what they heard, and then began reading about it, in the Bible.

Of course there our also those that I have met, that do not believe there is such a thing as sin, or say they have never sinned. To these people I only remind them of what the Apostle John wrote. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1John 1:8. With that said, I cannot stop there, but must tell you the next thing John said. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9

One does not have to read the Bible to be saved, it is Jesus Christ who saves. Yet by reading about this love that God shows to His creation, in Christ; gives the believing reader the opportunity, and ability to grow in that faith.

If one reads the Bible, one would find out that it is the devil that had the power of death. Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself (Christ) in like manner partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is the devil. And might deliver all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:14-15.

It is Satan that hates what the Lord God created and has always wanted the human race dead. It is Adams original sin that caused a curse on the earth. It is because of that sin, we see disease, sickness, hate, and everything that lends itself to the destruction of human life. The good news is, Christ took the power of death from the devil, and offers life, health, and His love to all.

Now as for God being mean, demanding, unjust, angry, kills people, often good people, and even lets children starve. To those accusations, I say the law is demanding, we are unjust, and usually angry. People kill people, and it is people who cause children to starve.

God causes the crops to grow every year in most places around the world. The world grows more food for every man, woman, and child than we can eat. The world produces enough food to feed everyone. (www.worldhunger.org) The principle problem is that many people in the world still do not have sufficient income to purchase (or land to grow) enough food.(www.worldhunger.org)

Yet, the United States alone sends thousands and thousands of tons of free food to starving nations every year, yet the children continue starve. Those who receive and hand out that food though, seem never to starve. The leaders of those poor starving countries, never look like they are starving. Why is that? Have you ever asked yourself that question.

Let me finish with this; why do so many hate God and will not read the Bible? Well the Bible gives us the answer. For when they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor were thankful, but became vain in there imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds and four footed beasts and creeping things. Romans 1

This same Bible tells us also how much God loves us, and His whole creation. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

 

 

 

As most of you know by now,  I have CLL (Chronic Lympocytic Leukemia) and finally found out what the percentage of my 17p deletion was, I calmly accepted it, realizing once again that God has known from the beginning what it was. I know it did not come as a suprise to Him.

With that in mind I was reading a article from my favorite pastor, Pastor John Glenn.  I saw myself in this article, so I would like to share a few of these thoughts as well as some of mine own.

Hebrews 12: 1,2, “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doeth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

These words were given to all believers to help them realize the significance of their lives here on this earth. They were written to encourage everyone, but as I read them, I saw them as being written clearly for my encouragement.  I, as well as every believer in Jesus Christ is viewed by the writer as Olympic athletes running a race in front of a heavenly crowd of those who have gone on before us. So I am told to “lay aside every weight” or the bondage of the law, and the “besetting sin” of my natural unbelief so I may run with endurance the race that I am in. In short, I am to run my race in the grace of God rather than the energy of my own religious flesh.

The key to my victory in this race is looking unto “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith“. He is the author and originator of my faith, and he is the finisher, the one who will complete it in me. It is in his strength that I can run the race and his joy that gives me the endurance I need to finish my course.

Even though it appeared to all that Jesus was losing, especially as he hung on the cross; his resurrection from the dead and ascension to the throne of God proves that he was victorious. The writer of Hebrews tells me that what motivated Jesus through the difficult times was the joy he experienced in submitting to the will of the Father. Because of that joyful and confident expectation of his ultimate victory, Jesus was able to “despise the shame” by enduring all that was involved in his sacrifice on the cross and completing his work of saving humanity.

 As I run the race that is set before me, I too may experience some difficult times in which it looks like I am going to lose somehow. I should not expect to avoid the hard times, but seek to endure them in the same joy that motivated Jesus.

When I finish my race, it is my hope and my prayer, that my grandchildren know that I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.

Each of us has our own unique race to run in the grace of God. All who believe on Jesus are called to do his works and greater because he has gone back to the Father and left us here to love one another.

Thanks be to God who has made all who believe in Jesus Christ, more than conquerors.

My Journey

Another beautiful day here in a place where the sun shines over 300 days per year. The day started out in the low 50’s, but has rapidly risen into the 70’s. I am feeling great, and thank God that I do feel so good. As I read what others, with my SLL/CLL depletion say, I must thank God, who keeps me feeling healthy, normal, and enjoying everyday just as others do, even when my body is sick. As I think of the four years, going on five now that I have had this cancer, I really have found no physical changes, nor things I cannot do that any other 68 years would do. I also realize that many have and are praying for me, and I am very thankful to all of you.

Yesterday I was at the VA Hospital to give some blood for a new research program that is starting. My DNA will be taken from my blood sample, and research will be done, looking at my health background, and my DNA, hoping to be able to use the research to find cures for many different diseases in the future. The VA is hoping to have one million veterans participants in the research program. If they achieve their goal, it may be one of the largest research programs ever done.

If you are a veteran, and learning about this program for the first time, call your VA clinic and you will be able to get more information.

In earlier posts I have commented on the success enjoyed by FCR (fludarabine, cyclophosphamide and Rituxan) as the present day “gold standard” in the treatment  of previously untreated patients. For those of us with the 17p deletion the success enjoyed by so many with FCR combination looks not to be so good. Unfortunately this gold standard does not work well for the 17p deletion and can even cause more severe results in some cases.  So, if FC + Rituxan is good, how about substituting the other FDA approved monoclonal Campath in place of Rituxan?  If FC + Rituxan is good, would FC + Campath be even better – since Campath packs more punch and is also thought to work in 17p deleted high risk patients?

After a trial, for FC+Campath, in Germany, the results 8 deaths among 29 responding patients due to disease progression, Richter’s syndrome (2 patients), and one major late infection (tuberculosis). Progressive disease was the cause of death in 11 cases among 14 non-responding patients, shows it is not better and personally, seems real bad to me. Fludarabine and Campath (also known as alemtuzumab ) are extremely immune suppressive. Of all the drugs you are likely to encounter in your CLL journey, these two drugs are most justly infamous for destroying T-cell counts. And not having sufficient number of T-cells leaves people wide open to opportunistic infections and even secondary cancers – just think of the health issues associated with advanced AIDS patients and you get the picture.  Using both of these drugs (Campath and fludarabine) at the same time would be doubling down on the risk of extreme immune suppression. Patients would be at significantly higher risk of infections and even secondary cancers, when their immune defenses are down for a prolonged period of time. So for those with 17p deletion, neither FCR or FC+Campath is very acceptable. I guess if I had to decide on which one I would take, it would be FCR even though the average remission time, if obtained, is usually less than a year, but can last as long as three years. Of course being on watch and wait, I do not have to be concerned nor consider those remission times yet.

I think that a stem cell transplant is probably the best way to go, but it is not always possible. Age is a factor, cost another, and finding a donor is not always easy. Stem cell transplant technology is a rapidly developing field. The good news is that survival statistics and cure rates are increasing slowly but surely, year by year.

There are two types of stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells ( hematopoietic stem cells found in the baby’s cord blood),  Adult hematopoietic, (Adult stem cells) or blood-forming, stem cells from bone marrow), and the other is embryonic stem cells created when a human egg is fertilized by human sperm.

Being aware that I may need a stem cell transplant at some time, made me look into the matter more closely, and knowing what I now know, about adult stem cells, harvesting Embryonic stem cells seems senseless. This push for the use of embryonic stem cells, is hard to understand for me, considering the medical fact that, although there are over 100 effective treatments using adult stem cells (which are in ample supply), no treatments have resulted from even the embryonic stem cell lines that have already been established. Embryonic stem cells have never cured anything, and in many cases where they were tried, on animals, caused only tumors.

SLL/CLL is only one disease where  hematopoietic stem cells are used, and can make all the different varieties of cells present in your blood. HSC can make red blood cells, platelets, lymphocytes, macrophages etc. They have been found to be very successful when used. When I first found out that I had SLL/CLL and then was told, at some time in the future I may need a stem cell transplant, my heart dropped. Not knowing about adult stem cells, and there success, I knew when I was told, that I would not accept any embryonic stem cell. I accepted the fact, right there and then, if that was my last chance to live, then I would die

Hematopoietic stem cells needed for transplants are obtained from two sources and only these two sources (1) willing and healthy adult donors who are doing it for no other reason than generosity and desire to save lives (2) Umbilical cord-blood, a “waste” product that is generally thrown away after a baby is born. The baby is born, alive, going home with his or her mom and dad..

We now have non-myeloablative (also called “mini-transplant”, “transplant-lite”, or “reduced intensity transplant”, is a stem cell transplant from a donor (allogeneic) that uses a less aggressive combination of chemotherapy and/or radiation to prepare the patient for the transplant) pre-conditioning. It still uses massive amounts of chemotherapy, and many institutions still use low dose radiation as part of the protocol. But it is nowhere as high impact as earlier myeloablative procedures. The result has been that older patients, like me, are now eligible for transplantation, as well as those who are not quite marvels of good health and fitness.

There is a lot more information about stem cell transplants, however I will stop here. I am not there yet, although my Oncologists did mention it again, after telling me I had a 17p deletion.

After reading what I just wrote, I thought of the following Bible verses – For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3.

My Journey

February is almost over, time does not stand still for anyone. This month has been a very joyous one for my wife and me. We had visiting with us one of our daughters, her husband and their three children, our grandchildren.

We spend several days at the Magic Kingdom, and had a wonderful time. The weather was perfect, not to hot, with low humidity. We could not have asked for better weather, or better times. We were able to go on all the rides, and see all the other sites we wanted to see. We stayed there until 1:00 am and all of us had a great time. I have been a blessed man.

I have been feeling really good, just like I felt several years ago. I am finding that I do not lose my breath as quickly as before, I have not bruised for quite some time now, and I have no pain at all. My lympnodes have gone down a bit, and I have no pain in my spleen, even though the sonogram showed it was at 20 cm. I have not changed anything I had been doing, but something seems to have changed. My numbers had been falling rapidly for several months, and just when I thought I would have to start chemo, my numbers leveled out. My doctor, who was preparing me for FCR in January 2012, said lets stay on w&w.

I do not like to go to the doctor’s office, and I have not changed on that. However, I am looking forward to seeing my Oncologist in April, really believing that maybe my blood counts may be somewhat better than before. I have no way of telling, but feeling the way I do, I am hoping for the best. I know that with what I have, everything points that this may not be the case, but hope is a wonderful thing. It is  one of those things that God makes available to us.

Romans 5:1-5 – Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that,  but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Again I want to thank all of you who have been praying for me. I am so grateful that many of you think of me often.

Hezekiah’s Life Extended 2 Kings 20:1-6

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’”

Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. 6 And I will add to your days fifteen years.

In the following verses, Hezekiah asks for a sign, and is granted one. My wife did not ask for a sign, but I did get up and leave the hospital on the third day, after being told I would have to start chemotherapy immediately. It has been over a year now, and I am still on watch and wait, and in my fourth year of having SLL/CLL with a 17p deletion.

My wife found these verses the night I was told I had cancer, late stage cancer, and she has held fast to these verses, living with fear some days, but not doubting that Gods promise to Hezekiah is also a promise to me. She has been an anchor, for me, in a very serious storm.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much.

Here’s to another wonderful day, in this beautiful creation, that God made.

My Journey

Today is Jan. 18, 2012, it is sunny, and close to 80 degrees as I begin writing this blog. I have just returned from riding my motorcycle, which I enjoyed immensely. I had the new stator put in, (not cheap), but the bike is running great. My wife helped me wash the bike two days ago, so the chrome is really shining. I was visiting one of my biker friends the other day, who was working on his classic Harley when I got there. It’s a nice bike, and being old, he has been rebuilding the bike, starting with the entire engine, right up to a new seat, actually same seat, just newly padded and recovered,  and cargo trunk. He rides it, but upgrades it every chance he gets. He has another Harley there also, this one is a 1200 Sportster, that has been modified to look and travel like a larger cruiser. As most of you know, I ride a 1500 Boulevard, fully dressed, and it is sweet on the highway. About three years ago, two of us took a 3000 mile trip, on our bikes, and it is really the way to see the country. My son once rode his motorcycle from Colorado to Florida, alone. I was going up north last year on my bike alone, but only got about 300 miles from home. Thinking something was wrong with my bike, I decided to turn around, as I did not want to breakdown in the middle of nowhere. It turned out to be physological, not mechanical, so I have to give my son a lot of credit, you certainly feel safer when you have someone else riding with you.

Some of the family will be visiting soon, so my wife and I are really excited about seeing them. I really love it when the family comes here for a vacation, there is so much to do, I wish that they could stay for several months at a time. We are hoping to do lots of things while they are here, like the beach, parks, golf, deep-sea fishing, but I don’t think there will be time for that. One week goes by very fast, and as you get older, those weeks seem to go faster and faster.

I was reading this article earlier this morning, and thought it may be of interest to some.

  • Are you a CLL / SLL patient that has not yet received any therapy?
  • Perhaps you do not even have CLL / SLL (yet), but you have the tell-tale signs of MBL we just discussed in the last Updates article?
  • Do you want to get state of the art monitoring for this confusing and still incurable cancer?  And I mean really cutting edge stuff, some of these tests are not yet available from commercial labs.
  • Do you want to get full slate of prognostic testing done, including bone marrow biopsies etc, with zero hassle?
  • Do you want to have access to gold standard therapy options down the road when and if it is time to treat? Up to and including stem cell clinical trials at the National Cancer Institute, if that is what your clinical situation indicates?
  • Do you worry about the ever-increasing co-pay components of your health insurance?
  • Do you even have health insurance?
  • Are you worried about losing your health insurance if you get laid off in this miserable economy?
  • Last but not least, do you still have enough idealism left in you that you want to do what you can to help the CLL patient community?

If some or all of the above bullet points describe your situation, then see this link for more information – http://updates.clltopics.org/544-a-clinical-trial-perfect-for-our-times

I am a very fortunate person with SLL/CLL, I am a Vietnam Veteran, so my costs are fairly low, in comparison to so many others that have to pay for their tests, hospital visits, medicines, chemotherapy and more. I have to admit, when I volunteered to go into the United States Air Force at age 19, I had no idea that in the future, I would have so many experts in the field of cancer, available to me, at a cost that is very affordable.  I know that we were not welcomed home at the time, but wow, now I am very thankful I joined. Of course like so many of us back in the early 60’s, we believed we were blessed for being born in a country like ours, and as I got older, I have realized that belief was correct. I owed my allegiance to this country, and wanted to serve this nation. By doing so, I grew out of my childish ways and became a man, who realized there was more to life than just playing.

That last statement reminds me of a verse in the Bible – When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. I have learned to read the Bible using the principles of interpretation in 2 Corinthians 4:2 Paul speaking: “Instead, we have renounced shameful secret things, not walking in deceit or distorting God’s message, but commending ourselves to every person’s conscience in God’s sight by an open display of the truth.” Also Proverbs 8:8-9. God speaking here:  “All the words of my mouth are righteous; none of them are deceptive or perverse. All of them are clear to the perceptive, and right to those who discover knowledge.”

In other words, we are to read and understand the Bible in a plain or straightforward manner. This is usually what people mean when they say “literal interpretation of the Bible” Reading the Bible “plainly” means understanding that literal history is literal history, metaphors are metaphors, poetry is poetry, etc. The Bible is written in many different literary styles and should be read accordingly. This is why I understand that Genesis records are actual historical events. It was written as a historical narrative.

I had someone tell me, “to interpret the days in Genesis, you need to read 2 Peter 3:8, which indicates the days are each a thousand years.” This is what 2 Peter 3:8-9 says: Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

This passage employs a literary device called a simile (a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared.) Here, God compares a day to a thousand years in order to make the point that time doesn’t bind Him, in this case regarding His patience. God is not limited to the time He created—that would be illogical.

Enough for today, I am awaiting my beautiful wife to get home. So to all of you, may this day bring peace, joy and good health.

There is a lot to be said when dealing with lymphoma/leukemia. One of the first things, is beginning to doubt your own worth. You are no longer able to do all the things you used to do. You need your wife to do things you always did, because you were the man of the house. You may even look at others, who offer there, “how are you doing”? Or “I will be praying for you,” and sometimes find yourself wondering if they really mean it. For over a period of ten years, I had become hardened, by lies and cheating, that hurt me far more than I had ever realized. My mind hardened, so I would not be hurt so deeply anymore. Since those years, I have only been loved, by my family, and even with all the love my wife and children showed me, it was still hard to really believe that I was really important. I had become hardened to many feelings, so I would not ever be hurt like I had been. This is harsh I know, and has been wrong, even when I became a Christian, and tried to welcome others into my corner of the world, it did not happen. On the surface, it may have looked like I had, but in my mind, I was not secure enough to trust or let in many people. With all of this said, what happened to me last year, on Dec. 26th, changed me forever, and has caused an internal war within me, pertaining to the truth of my own worth.

That was the day I was told that I had cancer, (non-hodgkins disease), as most of you have already read, it turned out to be SLL/CLL (small lymphocytic lymphoma/chronic lymphocytic leukemia) a subgroup of Non-hodgkins cancer, same cancer, just takes longer to kill you. I recall after being told, my wife came in the room, and when I told her, a unimageable sadness came over me. As she was crying, uncontrollably, it came to my heart(mind) that Jesus Christ had just shown me what His love was all about. I had been a Christian, (believer in Jesus Christ) for 33 years, and over the last several years had come to realize, that as a child of God, I did not have the love for others, that God, my Father has told me, by His Word, that I would have. That night, in that hospital room, He showed me how to care for and love others, and what that meant. I must with all truthfulness, thank Him for answering the prayer I had prayed for so long, “Take away the anger, insecurity, and distrust I have for others, and let me love them as I should.””Lord, please help me love others, like you do.”

Have I fallen on my face since then, oh yes, but finally I know when I do. I am now aware of the war that rages within me, just as Christ said in the Gospel of Matthew, that what comes out of a man, comes from his heart and defiles the man. The war that is within myself, that old man who was crucified with Christ, died with Christ, buried with Christ, and the new man who I became when I rose again with Christ, righteous, loved, worthy, secure in Christ, who is no longer subject to the law, and sin. I know that old man died, but my new self, was also left in this body, that has not died yet, and still has its leftover desires, wants, fears, anger, anxiety, selfishness (what the Bible calls the flesh). So when I get up in the morning, feeling down, because of what I have physically (SLL/CLL), and the mind battle I face of being worthy enough for my wife, my family, and others, I look in the mirror with complete assurance, and I choose to know that I am loved, secure,  and worthy, not because of anything I have or have not done, but because of Christ. Now I can believe others when they say they care, why because I care. Before, like most of us, I cared for me, I cared not to take a chance on being hurt, lied to, and cheated again.

The renewal of our minds is a necessary process because our hearts are filled with the “traditions of men” (the natural mans way of thinking), rather than the truth of the Word of God. By “traditions of men” I mean the natural humanistic world view conditioned into each of us as we grow up. Jesus exposes them as being the root cause of all our problems, in Matt. 15:1-20.

In these verses, you see the account of Jesus in conflict with the religious leaders of his day. It was not unusual for him to be embroiled in a heated controversy involving the tradition of men. His entire message to the nation was summarized in one word, “REPENT,” —change your thinking (the traditions of men) that has been encrusted in you and me since we began understanding as a child. So we find him again in controversy because his disciples violated the traditions of the elders when they failed to wash their hands before they ate bread (verse 1-2).

Jesus’ response to the accusations of the religious authorities was to simply divert attention to the real problem. A problem which existed with them then, and now with us. He pointed out that our traditions themselves tend to violate commands of God, and can, therefore, cause us more damage by keeping them than by violating them. The specific example he used to illustrate his point concerned the way in which the traditions of the elders allowed for refusing to care for aging parents, if one had given all his extra money to the temple. Such a tradition permitted the Pharisees to avoid their family responsibilities before God, and still appear righteous before man.

Such hypocrisy brings to mind Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the real problem we human beings have with our traditions. He said “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. The problem with our natural understanding of how we ought to live and function in a healthy way is that our “hearts” are miles away from God. Instead of knowing and sharing God’s heart, we find ourselves in all sorts of self-inflicted wounds, religion and traditional bondage; “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (verses 7-9)

To bring his point home Jesus returns to the issue of failing to keep the tradition of the elders by not washing. To the multitudes, he made the radical statement that it is really not what goes into a man that defiles him, but rather what comes out of the man. The dysfunction or defilement of sin does not come about by eating or drinking or drugging. It is not what goes into the body that defiles the person. True dysfunction (defilement) arises because of what is already in us that comes out (verse 11).

This statement was so radical that Jesus’ disciples were afraid Jesus had offended the authorities, and they would suffer because of it. To fully appreciate their fear, we must realize many of these traditions concerned the dietary laws given by Moses in the first five books of the Old Testament. Certain foods were strictly prohibited by the written law of God, and Jesus appeared to be contradicting them by his last radical statement.

After assuring his disciples that the religious authorities were “blind leaders of the blind,” and encouraging them to “let them alone,” Jesus went on to explain what causes us to become dysfunctional. It is not the things we eat or drink (the things we do). The real source of defilement is what naturally comes out of our heart or subconscious mind. The prophet Jeremiah warns the heart is “desperately wicked and deceitful above all things,” and contained in it is all the “evil thoughts that lead to murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies. . .” It is the “evil thoughts” springing up from within our subconscious minds that defiles us, and causes both personal and relational dysfunction in our lives (verses 15-29).

As a closing note in this study, let’s define “evil thoughts” in terms more easily understood, and applied to our lives. An evil thought has at its core the idea —“I will be worthy if . . .” (In my case I will be worthy if I never let anyone know how really scared I had become of being hurt again). Regardless of how we may complete the sentence, the thought is evil. It is evil, because according to the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is a lie. To say “I will be worthy if . . .” implies we are right at this moment worthless, but if we can obtain something (whatever follows the if) we will be worthy. Continuing this further, it ultimately means we need something more than what God has already provided for us in Christ. This is the core of the evil thought.

The truth of the gospel says, “I am worthy (secure and significant) because of who God has made me to be in Christ!” To see the evil character of such thinking, we have only to realize that when we think, “I will be worthy if . . .,” we are really calling God a liar, and rejecting Christ as being sufficient to make us worthy. Instead of believing God has joined us, inseparably, to his son Jesus Christ, we may choose to believe that we must have someone or something more than what God has given us in Christ to make us worthy.

It is this evil thought springing up in our hearts that actually defiles us and, underlies all our dysfunctional emotions and behavior.

My thanks to Church in the Woods, for these thoughts in Matt: 15.

My Journey

Some of you who may be reading this blog today, may not find the first couple of paragraphs very interesting, as I thought I would update some of my SLL/CLL buddies out there about some of the new drugs that are currently being  researched. Later in this blog, I do have some thoughts that I hope will be of some value to all of you.

Research into new therapies for chronic lymphocytic leukemia is leading to the development of several new agents. These new agents are showing significant activity in clinical trials of patients with CLL. One drug currently being investigated for the treatment of CLL, is lenalidomide. It is currently approved in (clinical trials) for use in patients with previously treated multiple myeloma and for certain patient with myelodsplastic syndromes (MDS). In 2006 Chanan-Khan and colleagues published result of a phase 2 study of single-agent lenalidomide in patients with relapsed or refractory CLL, showing  almost 47% of patients responded to this drug. Later clinical trials have continued to show the (good) activity  of lenalidomide in CLL, but also revealed an immune response called tumor flare reaction that occurs in a large proportion of patients receiving this drug. (Signs of  tumor flare reactions include painful enlargement of the lymph nodes or spleen, rash, and bone pain). The problem is, that these reactions, under the current trial endpoint markers, (MRD-minimal residual disease) show more aggression in the disease, but has also found that those who have tumor flares, have a significantly higher complete response to this therapy than those without the tumor reaction.

Another investigational compound that is showing activity in CLL is CAL-101, it is an orally administered drug that inhibits P13K, a molecule that is central to the development of B-cell malignancies. However the same problems are being found with this new therapy. Even thought CAL-101 is showing significant activity in reducing lymph node swelling in all 32 patients tested, and many of these patients had other benefits, including resolution of  CLL related liver and spleen enlargement, lymph node enlargement, trombocytopenia and anemia. But along with these good effects, came another effect – a rapid increase in the number of circulating lymphocytes in the blood stream. This increase has been called rapid redistribution as it involves the movement of lymphocytes from the lymph nodes into the blood stream. With this effect showing itself, some have concluded that using lymphocyte count alone to define disease progression may mischaracterize the clinical benefit of CAL-101. Researchers have suggested that lymphocytosis, in the absence of other signs of disease progression, should not be counted as a disease  progression event. However more research is needed to fully understand the clinical relevance of lymphocytosis associated with this new drug.

The conclusion of those attending the new drug therapy workshop have concluded that they must take steps to ensure that these new agents are being evaluated carefully and objectively. That way, new drugs that are found to be safe and effective in rigorous clinical trials can undergo the FDA review process smoothly, and hopefully reaching patients as soon as possible.

With all of the above, one must begin to look positively at all the advances that are being made for helping we, who have SLL/CLL. I know as well as you do, that even though these new drugs may save our lives, they come to us, often very slow, and to late for some. So we must, as well as our loved ones understand how our mind thinks. Realizing that the way we think, is the way we will behave, and how our feelings will affect us, being either beneficial or damaging.

The biblical proverb, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. . .,” illustrates the importance of understanding the operation our mind. If we are going to understand, much less change, our behavior or feelings, we must look at the underlying thought processes of the mind. Since our thoughts determine the quality of our emotions and our feelings determine our behavior, it is important to clarify and, ultimately, change our thinking, in order to affect any lasting changes while fighting this cancer.

The concept of the mind may be best understood by divinding it into two components.The part of our minds that we are aware of at any given moment is called the conscious mind. This includes all the perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and reasoning that we are aware of during our waking hours. Although most of us would tend to deny that we talk to ourselves, research indicates that eighty-two percent of our brain activity involves speaking to ourselves in words and sentences known as “self-talk.” Each day we talk to ourselves about how we relate to what we see going on in the world around us. What we say to ourselves will let you, and me,  know the way you view your place in any current situation and environment.

The second component of the mind is the part which is below our conscious daily awareness. Psychologists call it the subconscious mind because it operates beneath the surface of our personal awareness, and we are normally unaware of what is going on in the subconscious mind. However, because the subconscious mind serves as a storehouse or reservoir of all our experiences, it constitutes the greater part of our minds. Just as the greater mass of the iceberg is found beneath the water level, so also is the greater mass of the mind found below our awareness level. Included in subconscious mind are all the memories from past experiences regardless of their nature and all we have learned in order to survive and cope with life. The subconscious mind is the deepest part of our being, and, therefore, may be equated with the biblical concept of the “heart.”

The Bible is invaluable for shaping the heart and mind for personal growth and development, it is not simply a rule book for successful living, or a manual for emotional health. The written word is a revelation of the grace and truth of the Living Word, Jesus. It is meant to lead us to true repentance and faith. The word “repentance” comes from a compound Greek word (metanoia) which literally means “to change your thinking.” Thus, the Bible is concerned with the renewing of the mind in order to effect lasting changes in our emotions and behavior.

In Ephesians 4:17-24, we are given a summary of the process involved in changing our natural state of worry, fear, hate, (dysfunctional life) into a supernatural healthy state; and doing it from the inside out. The Apostle Paul begins with a description of the need to change by telling us we are not to “live” (behave) like others who live (behave) “in the vanity of their minds.” This last phrase of verse 17 refers to the emptiness of dysfunctional thinking, of both the conscious mind and the subconscious mind, and is further described in verse 18. The natural state of mind is dysfunctional because of confusion (darkened understanding), dissatisfaction due to ignorance, and the inability to live in reality (hardness of heart).

Such dysfunctional thinking will naturally produce serious emotional and behavioral problems which are described in verse 19. “Being past feeling” refers to the overwhelming flood of sinful emotions which simply cast aside all good intentions in favor of doing anything to make one feel good. In other words, when hatred, self-pity, and anxiety have become so intense that we can no longer stand it, we forget everything else and naturally set a goal to feel good at any cost. When the single most important thing in our lives is to feel better, we have given ourselves over “unto lasciviousness, to work uncleanness with greediness.“ We become totally self-centered and obsessed with making ourselves feel better regardless of what the long-term consequences may be. We must remember that our family, friends, and cancer partners are going through the same emotions, feelings, fears, anxiety, self-pity, and even hatred, that we are going through. Some may hate God, for what has happened, some, other family members, and even some, themselves.

With a note of reassurance concerning our true identity in Christ, Paul goes on to describe the biblical process of becoming healthy and functional. By personal experience with Jesus Christ we can learn there is a better way to live. As the truth concerning our worth in Christ is understood and believed, we are able to shed the naturally corrupt life-style of emotional and behavioral dysfunction. The critical step is emphasized in verse 23 which reveals we must be “renewed in the spirit of your minds.” This means there must be renewed thinking (consciously and unconsciously) that will free us to take on a brand new identity (clothe yourselves with the new self) in Christ. The psalmist summarized this process when he cried out “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10).

About a week has gone by since my last post. I have been busier than usual, busier in good ways, like having an old friend visit my wife and I for several days. Spending time in a wild life preserve, with my friend, taking pictures. Also eating out more than usual, and enjoying every minute of it. Yes, it has been busy, but I needed that, as I have found myself turning in on myself more and more. I would not have noticed it, except a good friend of mine, asked me if all was well, and after replying, yes, was confronted with a statement that went something like this, “You seem to be placing a cocoon around yourself.” Without realizing it, that is what I was and am doing, turning inward more and more. I must fight what I am doing, and break out of the mood I have found myself in, even though I did not realize it.

I write and study several different subjects, for the purpose of sharing my faith, as well as keeping my co-harts (SLL/CLL) more informed on what we have, what’s new in the research of this particular cancer, and also it helps me to stay positive. It is so easy to look at yourself with self-pity, when you have an uncureable cancer. You want to be left alone, spending your time with your own thoughts, fears, questions, and sorrow. Yet it is exactly what you should not be doing. Family, friends, activities, laughing, and engaging in many different things is the correct medicine. So I am thankful that someone noticed where I was heading, and told me about it, I hope that I will do the same for others.

Well enough of that, for all you SLL/CLLer’s out there, chin up, keep the faith, and keep on keepin on.

Sinful emotions such as hatred, self-pity, and anxiety can destroy us personally, and our relationships with others. Although we naturally defend ourselves from such experiences through what psychologists call defense mechanisms (denial, projections, repression, etc.), these serve only to keep our rage, hurt, and worry out of our conscious awareness. The “bottled-up” emotions from past and present experiences will, sooner or later, find expression through psychosomatic disorders, personal dysfunction, and relational difficulties. So I want to comment on ways we may cope with these sinful emotions. One I have been going though, without even knowing it.

Moving from Self-Pity To Joy – In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, reveals the manner in which we may learn to cope with real pain, without becoming bitter and hateful. As he entered the garden Jesus experienced a shock wave of grief and astonishment (Matthew 26:36-45). How he dealt with his personal agony that night offers us a helpful model for coping with ours.

First, it should be noted that Jesus was willing to face his pain and be honest with the Father and others about it. Our natural defenses will often seek to minimize pain through denial. I recall telling my Oncologist in October, that “I guess I had better start taking this disease seriously, I guess I really do have it.” Jesus honestly embraced his pain without pretending it did not affect him—he was honest with the disciples who were with him. In verse 38, he said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” This open admission of his suffering is in strong contrast to the religious pretense of so many who deny their own hurt to avoid looking unspiritual. If we are going to learn to cope with pain we must learn to honestly face the pain without any pretenses whatsoever.

After honestly facing his own pain, and openly sharing that pain with others, Jesus fully acknowledged his agony to the Father. His words, “O my Father, if it were possible, let this cup pass from me,” (kjv) reveal the intimacy he had with God that would allow him the freedom to be honest about his own feelings. This is especially true when our feelings run contrary to what God has called us to do or permitted to happen to us. We do not need to play religious games with God, pretending he does not know how we are really feeling. He knows! We need to fully express and admit openly our true feeling to him.

In addition to fully admitting how he felt, Jesus immediately submitted himself and his suffering to the sovereign will of the Father. His statement, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (kjv), demonstrates the highest faith possible. Jesus completely surrendered his own will into the hands of his Father because he fully trusted in his goodness regardless of the pain he suffered. Likewise, when we are willing to trust the Father’s will, rather than our own, we will also submit ourselves to him. We will quit seeking to save our lives in favor of trusting his plan, even though it involves suffering and pain.

The personal benefits of giving up control of our lives to the heavenly Father are seen in Jesus immediately after his prayer. In his gospel, the physician, Luke, tells us Jesus’ agony was so intense that he suffered the psychosomatic response of bleeding through his sweat glands. Following his prayer to the Father, however, angels appeared to strengthen him in the garden. Having received such comfort Jesus was able to return to his sleeping disciples, and actually minister to them in spite of his own agony. Because of his faith in the goodness and will of the Father, Jesus was filled with the joy that was necessary to free him to minister to his disciples.

However, the account of Jesus’ agony in the garden is more than a beautiful example of how we may face our pain. It is actually the record of Jesus fulfilling an ancient prophecy concerning our suffering. In Isaiah 53:4, the prophet tells us that Jesus would actually bear our griefs, and carry our sorrows. The shockwave grief and astonishment Jesus submitted himself to in the garden that night was really all the pain of the human race. “O, my Father, if it were possible, let this cup pass from me.” This cup, he could not avoid, held all the hurt we will ever experience. As Jesus experienced the full weight of our sufferings, it was so intense that his words, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” were not an exaggeration, but a true statement. Had he not submitted to his Father’s will, and received supernatural strength, our collective stress would have surely killed him, physically.

Because Jesus won the victory in the garden, he is referred to by the author of Hebrews as our High Priest who knows, by personal experience, all about our pain. “For we have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15,16).