Please Stop Knocking Me Out

I Don’t Like Being High.

So, two weeks ago, I was knocked out several times. That Thursday and Friday, they loaded me down with fentanyl. Some days before that it was some type of general “loopy” drug that they never told me the name. And, I discovered after 48 years of never needing to know this about myself, that I don’t like being sloshed out of my gourd. Also, I am (apparently) a loud person who has no inhibitions when he is ‘high as a kite.” However, some protein will calm me down. So, in the days ahead, if you see me with a medical bracelet indicating recent surgery, feed me eggs, bacon, and chicken. That seems to sober me up.

We only now realized this after Andrea left me alone long enough to procure some of this aforementioned sustenance while I alertly recognized one of our county commissioners and subsequently had a delightful chat with him in my dazed condition. If there is a video of this, I may never pastor again.

To recap, I had three medical procedures, one visit to the oncologist, followed by a wonderful visit from my brother, mother, and sister in law who all happened to be carrying our wonderful daughter Allison home from school. It was Christmas. I don’t know that I have ever been happier to see my family than I was last Friday.

Wednesday of last week was my first chemo appointment. Blood work, more details about the horror of cancer in my body, and then quickly into the chair for the next 5 hours. They gave me Benadryl (downer) to help with anti-rejection and steroids (upper) to help my body prepare for the chemicals and help my lungs. It was not unlike the feeling of being awake for 24 hours after flying all night internationally in stormy weather- very tired and yet full of adrenaline. Then, they gave me four different kinds of chemo to combat my aggressive lymphoma.

On top of everything, I missed lunch.

Right now, I will receive this chemo every other week on Wednesdays so that my body can have enough time to recover in between the truckloads of chemicals. The doctors and staff at Tennessee Cancer Center are just so kind and professional. They have gone above and beyond to help us be comfortable in what is undoubtedly an uncomfortable time in our lives.

We have seen God answer prayer as a lady was saved this week, He is providing speakers for our services when I will be unable to preach, and our people are taking more and more of the responsibilities for the ministry. The Lord continues to bless our church as we had guests for the last two weekends and a good spirit in the services. Chad Kivette​ and Todd Parrish​ have ministered to Hardin Valley Free Will Baptist Church​ in a providential and pastoral way. Our folks are still hurting, but we are hurting together as we cling to the God who is good and wise.

Hopefully, our slower rate of posting is not confusing to the many hundreds who are concerned and praying. We feel like we have missed several messages and phone calls during these days, and we are trying not to neglect anyone who has taken the time to call or write. Similarly, we are cautious about the facade of social media – the ability to edit and put out the best possible version of events in public. Our lives have never resembled “social media perfect” as we are fallen, depraved sinners in need of the great grace of God. We have our good moments and fits of gloom. It is neither practical nor plausible to share all of these. So, as we write and share, we hope to put the “perfect” on the Savior.

  1. Please pray for the tumors to shrink around my throat and windpipe in particular as their freeloading is really beginning to tax my patience.
  2. We rejoice that my bone marrow was healthy so now we can fight the lymphoma on just the one cancer front.
  3. Please pray that I stay healthy and able to keep up the regimen. I have some cardiology tests tomorrow (9/10/19) to see how my heart is doing with my cancer and chemo. Please ask the Lord for wisdom for the doctors as pain management is now becoming an issue.
  4. Please pray that God would be glorified and that souls will be saved. We want to keep the spotlight on Him.
  5. Finally, please pray that I will not be “high as a kite” in public ever again.

Overwhelmed and Thankful

Overwhelmed and Thankful
We are unable to begin to thank you for your support, calls, messages, and offers to do “anything we need, anytime we need it” from just so many.
Over the last 48 hours, we have been reduced to tears so many times as you have communicated your love to our family and our church. God is so good to show His love to us through His people. Thank you for helping to bear our burdens during this season of our lives.
Today began the next part of our marriage adventure as we met with my oncologist. The meeting went well with lots of explanations of what is going on in my body, the stage of my cancer, along with what seems to be ahead for us. God has favored us with a doctor who is a Christ-follower and an expert in this field.
He has scheduled me for a port for my chemotherapy and a bone marrow biopsy. This is all happening quickly, and then we will start my fight in earnest. In God’s good providence, I should take my treatments less than 5 minutes from our church and also where Andrea is employed.
Our urgent prayers are that the (1) bone marrow will be healthy, (2) the med port installation will not result in infection, and that (3) the most substantial “dessert plate-sized” tumor will not impede any further than it is upon my lung or windpipe. (I have grown rather fond of breathing.)
Truly, our most urgent prayer is for God to use this in our lives for His glory.
Our family is so glad to be a part of the family of God. Thank you for joining us in praying that we will ‘Love God, Trust God, and Live for God.” We continue to be in awe of His grace and goodness and overwhelmed by your love for our family.

Thank God for Pneumonia — I Have Cancer

Thank God for Pneumonia — I Have Cancer

Out of all the words I have ever spoken to my wife, these may have been the hardest yet. On Tuesday, August 20, my Pulmonologist’s PA told me I needed a CT scan immediately. I had been dealing with fluid on my lungs and pneumonia that seeming would not let go since the first of July. As I argued and said I was tired of writing checks to doctors, getting x-rays, and feeding hungry vampire phlebotomists, she simply said that I HAD to get the test done.

As it turns out, the multiple doctor visits and repeated x-rays uncovered at least 2 malfunctioning lymph nodes. On Thursday, by using the scans as a type of flipbook, you could see the tumor spreading out towards my lung and encroaching towards my windpipe. Then, he said we needed a bronchoscopy, a PET scan, and some oncologists. My doctor proceeded to empower his staff to get it done. I saw three total strangers throw themselves into getting everything he asked for my care. I am forever grateful to the Statcare people in Knoxville. They not only got me the PET scan with half a day’s notice, but they also did it in one of the most advanced facilities in the region. It was read that afternoon and they conveyed it to me by 3PM. Rarely, has a phone call ever been so frightening as they summarized all the rest that is going on in my body. They have booked me a “crack” team to do the biopsies on Monday and will have a pathologist in the surgical room to examine the samples right then.

They went after the oncologist that no one could get into and would be months to see if I did get on his list. They said I should pick an alternative cancer doctor. I told them I didn’t have another name. By noon on Friday, waiting under a warm blanket with my body full of radioactive dye, they called and said I had the appointment with the man no one could get into and I had no chance to see on Tuesday morning at 8 AM.

We have spent these past days telling our family and others of our news about my aggressive lymphoma. I feel like I have made more people cry than at any time in my life combined. Today, our church learned of what was in our path. They cried too.

Tomorrow, I will take a good nap and wake up with a sore throat. Tuesday at 8 AM, we will start the rest of our journey together.

We are simply overwhelmed by the love and outpouring of calls and messages from people in the states and around the world. We cannot thank you enough. Thank you for praying. To all of those we did not get to contact personally, we hope you will understand. It was just impossible to contact all of those we love who mean so much to us.

Our new family motto is that we will “Love Jesus, Trust Jesus, and Live for Jesus.” Regardless of this outcome, I don’t want to waste this cancer. If this is the next thing I do for Jesus or the last thing I do for my King, I want to do it well. Please pray that we glorify God in the next stage of our adventure.

Our children, in particular, need your love and support. Our church is hurting mightily tonight as well as our extended family. Andrea and I are in the chaos of the storm, with emotional waves of all kinds tossing us about. With every deluge of fear, doubt, confusion, and the nagging sense of future loss, we cling tightly to the God who is greater than our storm.

2017 Defend 17 Sponsor Session – Looking for Answers in All the Wrong Places

Here are the handouts, speaker notes, and links to various books mentioned at the conference.

Speaker Notes, Handouts. Made God than a Carpenter — Answers Books for Kids (8) Why You Believe What You Believe — What does the Bible really teach about sexuality? — Is Jesus the only way? — Can I trust the Bible? — Why do bad things happen to good people? for Christ

What about the Olympics is so Different…

What about the Olympics is so Different…

Have you considered the raging contagion sweeping the globe and particularly in the Western world? Business men, bag boys, hairdressers, and haberdashers all equally afflicted and enjoined. TV networks are putting up half-hearted programming as they realize the juggernaut just cannot be stopped.

Of course, we are talking about the 2016 Olympics held in mosquito free Rio! Between internet updates, late night replays, made for television moments, and the Twitterverse/Facebook reaction, we are experiencing an increasingly rare shared event.

Growing up in the 70’s, our television was occupied by the major 3 networks and the occasional PBS (when we could pick it up.) Everyone saw the same things, experienced much of the same information — nationally and regionally. The advent of cable television followed by the individualizing factor of the Internet has almost ensured that majorities of peoples will have demonstrably few of those shared experiences and emotions so common 40+ years ago.

These facts have been illustrated and debated at length by others and I do not wish to further add to that analysis. If possible, could we learn something vital as we have this wonderfully rare moment of shared experience?

What is it about the Olympics that brings so many together with so much passion?

Nationalistic fervor? Sure. Sports fans? Of course. Non-sports fans? Yes. To be honest, for each noun or adjective one could list, an antonym would fit just as easily. So, the Olympics are not just a unique shared event, they are an anomaly in that those who follow the triumphs and tragedies do not neatly fit any of the typical demographic boxes.

My explanation and the teachable moment for those of us called to leadership roles — one-word “marriage.”

The Olympics is the perfect marriage of head and heart.

It is the back story of overcoming incredible hardships, the abundant statistics for the number lover, the drama of last-second or split second finishes, the what and the why! It is not just an event or a sport, it is the perfect marriage of all that coupled with intense emotion. We feel it. We want it to happen… We are upset to the point of tears for those who lose and jumping around in our pajamas for winners who names we cannot pronounce! We know the schedules, how many medals, who is the underdog, favored, long shot, last time competing — we are overwhelmed with data but the data only furthers our fervor.

Simply put, we must always understand that we are communicating words and data constantly. To be sure, our presentations need polish and our graphics can always be sharper. We may need to take a page from the Olympics and go for the gold in communication by aiming for the head and the heart. Let’s help our volunteers and congregations feel the importance of what they are doing and be motivated by the passion that they belong to something bigger than themselves.