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Friday, September 30, 2005
An expected end
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

How is it that one is able to endure trials, suffering, or times of extreme loneliness? What makes those times "bearable"? It is the expected end. Knowing the end result gives courage to face the pain. Is it worth 12 hours of labor to bring forth a child? Is it worth 3 years of orthodontic work to have straight teeth? Is it worth years of intense training to win an Olympic medal? There are those who would answer a hearty "yes!" to those questions.

But what if the end result is unknown? What then? That is when faith kicks in and you look to the Lord who says "I know!" He spoke these words to a nation of people who were held captive in a foreign land. Doomsday prophets predicted they would never return to their homeland. But God reminded them that His good and peaceable thoughts were still with them, that He knew the expected end which He would give them. In the meantime, He told them to continue on with day-to-day business, seek peace, pray to the Lord. (vs. 4-7)

This reminds me of something one of my Bible teachers told me years ago that I have never forgotten. At the time I thought it sounded really strange. She said "Don't waste your suffering." To always be looking back wishing for former days will not only lead to discouragement, but will rob me of the blessing of living this day and learning the lessons God has for me. Whatever purpose God has in the valleys can only be found there. It is enough for me to know that He knows the expected end.

To our prayer partners, I want to say "thanks" once again. The pain Malcom was experiencing earlier this week is gone. I know it is because of your prayers. Among other things these days he is able to do some work on a college course he is preparing to teach. We look forward to the day when we can return to our adopted "homeland" of Taiwan. Keep praying!

posted at 12:39 AM  

Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Does God answer prayer?
"And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive." Matthew 21:22

This is a question that I have struggled with since our daughter Sue drowned last year. At one point I could not even pray, or if I did it was without faith because in my pain I thought, "God is going to do what He wants to do anyway, so why bother asking." Suddenly my prayers seemed useless. I looked in the Bible at those promises which seemed to guarantee that whatever I asked God would do and experientially realized that couldn't possibly be the meaning of those verses! If not, then what do they mean?

I think the answer lies in rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (1 Timothy 2:15) Comparing scripture with scripture I find that answered prayer isn't me telling God what I want and Him giving it. It involves faith, holy living, right motives, asking according to His will, and relinquishing the control or outcome totally to Him alone. Prayer says...God, here is what I want, but You alone are God, You alone know if this is best for me, so I trust You.

Asking and receiving is only a small part of the purpose of prayer. The greater part is recognizing I need Him, realizing He is able to meet my needs, and believing that in the grand scheme of things, He will do what is best for me, His beloved child.

Malcom is into what is usually his "up" week after chemo the previous week. He does have more energy and better appetite than last week. But there is some new pain that has us both a little anxious. Oh how we desire that the cancer is abating, but when there is something new like this, it is easy to begin to fear again. So, I ask you to continue to pray for a miracle. Once again we reaffirm our faith in God's perfect understanding and unfailing faithfulness.

posted at 11:37 AM  

Saturday, September 24, 2005
Pray for our friend
"And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends..." Job 42:10

One of the best ways I've found to pull myself up out of depression, self-pity, or any kind of introspective thinking is to focus outside of "my world" and see those around me who need prayer. Every circumstance of life can become either larger or smaller depending on your perspective. Take Job....he certainly had every reason to feel sorry for himself. After all, he was a just and upright man who endured more pain of every sort than seems humanly possible to endure: loss of material possessions, loss of all his children, loss of his health, loss of his standing in the community, misunderstood by his friends. But it all was about to come to an end. God was fed up with Job's friends. It was only when Job prayed for his friends that God accepted their sacrifices and God turned the page on Job's suffering.

Will you join us in praying for a friend? There is a young man named Michael who we met during one of Malcom's hospital stays. (After that he was sort of "adopted" by several in our family.) Michael has leukemia and was just told today that the cancer is back, it is no longer in remission. I want to ask you to pray for Michael, that God will heal his body and that God will reveal Himself to him in a very real way.

Eyes off self, focusing on a friend, looking to Jesus for health and healing. It's a great recipe for living.

posted at 11:36 PM  

Understanding Holiness
"There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God." 1 Samuel 2:2

God's character is impeccable. He is holy--perfect, pure, not one flaw anywhere and truly unique. This fact of God's holiness is an essential part to the realization of the second fact, that is He is our rock--firm support, stable, dependable. Indeed, God's holiness is the very reason He can be my rock! Because He makes no mistakes, I can continue to stand firm even in the storms of life. So I praise God for His holiness now with a clearer understanding of why it is important to do so. "Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness." Psalm 97:12

Malcom has been somewhat weakend by the continuing effects of the chemotherapy he received earlier this week. He has little energy, sores and infection in his mouth, and pain. We are hoping that these symptoms will resolve in another day or two. Thank you for continued prayers on his behalf.

posted at 12:30 AM  

Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Batting practice
"The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him." Nahum 1:7

The big question often asked is this: How can a loving God allow good people to suffer? A similar question: Why do bad things happen to good people? Many times when someone finds out that Malcom has cancer, this is their reaction. They want to know how it is that someone who loves God, who is serving God, who is busy about the Father's business, can suddenly be struck with a disease that brings everything to a screeching halt. Even I have asked this question in the form of "Why him? Why us? What's going on God?"

As I ponder the answer, first I realize that such a question assumes that being "good" should protect us from harm. Strike one! The Bible never promises such a thing. God's Word is full of examples of good, godly men and women who suffered.

The second thing is that such a question assumes that God is only good when He allows what we consider "good" circumstances to come into our life. Strike two! The Bible clearly tells us that the Lord is good all the time...through the worst and best of times, He is the strong hold and refuge to carry us through. He works things out for a good purpose to those who love Him.

The third thing that such a question assumes is that God should allow bad things to happen to bad people. Strike three! While God punishes sin, He is ever rich in mercy. He says in Ezekiel 18:32 "For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." It is good that God waits and gives people chance after chance to turn from their wicked ways.

Well, I don't want to strike out. Instead of asking "why?" I'll ask "what?" To my God who is good all the time, who is my shelter in trouble, and who knows me personally, I ask "What do You want to accomplish in my life through this trouble?" Finding the answer to that question and doing it will result in a home run!

Thanks for your continued prayers for Malcom. He is currently receiving his 3rd chemo treatment. It will be finished around noon on Wednesday. We praise the Lord that x-rays yesterday showed a decrease in pulmonary fluid around his lungs. "Almost all gone!" the doctor said. The CEA blood test (tumor marker) was 118 down from 147 two weeks ago.

posted at 2:10 PM  

Monday, September 19, 2005
No More Sea
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." Revelation 21:1

Pastor's sermon tonight was from chapter 21 of Revelation, the subject being "Heaven, Our Eternal Home." I was touched by this verse that tells us that some day there will be no more sea. I'm sure the theologians have plenty of thoughts about what that might mean. Let me just tell you what it brought to my mind.

Ever since the accident last year (June 2004) when our daughter, Sue, drowned in a rip tide just off Taiwan, I have had an intense dislike for large bodies of water, especially the ocean. Those idealic pictures or paintings of the seashore are not calming to my soul. The sea represents pain to me. And so, it brings me joy to realize that one day I will be united with my daughter and there will be no more sea!!

I thought of another place in the Bible that mentions the sea. Micah 7:19 speaking of God's mercy and forgiveness says, "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." In the new heaven and new earth that God will create, there will be no need of the sea because our eternal home will be a place of perfection where sin is defeated forever!

Until that day, I can cling to another beautiful promise from His Word: Isaiah 43:2 "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee..."

Monday and Tuesday this week Malcom will be taking another chemotherapy treatment. As you pray, ask God to give him strength, endurance, and continued healing.

posted at 12:44 AM  

Saturday, September 17, 2005
The Marvelous Mundane
"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20

When the landscape of life is totally altered, God has a way of showing us how to appreciate the marvelous mundane. I got a phone call today from Taiwan. Hwei-ping Wu is a faithful member and worker in the Dali City church there. She was absolutely thrilled to hear that Pastor Malcom had felt well enough this week to go to the grocery store for milk! I realized that such a simple, boring, even considered by some a bothersome task, was actually a wonderful thing. Because just a few weeks ago he could not do it. His days had been reduced to just trying to survive. But now the days are just your average days. It's an encouragement to our Taiwan church folk to know their Missionary/Pastor is improving!

Tonight I thank God for the simple joys of life that we are able to share together...meeting dear friends for lunch, shopping for a few items, getting the car washed, watching a baseball game on tv, later him calling and inviting someone to church while I cooked dinner. After the meal, we took a walk in the neighborhood and literally took the time to stop and smell some roses!

Thank God for the marvelous mundane.

posted at 10:00 PM  

Thursday, September 15, 2005
Sustaining Grace
"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee..." Psalm 55:22

The word that caught my attention in this verse was sustain. This concept is quite different than what many Christians want to think. Oh, we want to cast our burden on the Lord to get rid of it! But the promise here is not removal of that terrible thing that is causing such anxiety or pain. No, it is the promise to sustain.

A musician can tell you about sustain. It's the idea of singing or playing a tone continuously, hanging on to it. And the sustaining must be done right--supporting with the diaphram in order to maintain good tone quality and be pleasing to the listener.

In this analogy we can think of our burden as the music to be sung. The Lord is the one supporting and sustaining so that even through the difficulty a beautiful sound is heard.

Music is being heard today! Malcom says "I feel better this week than I have since my surgery on July 12. I believe that this is a direct answer to your prayers on my behalf. Thank you for taking my burden to the Lord!" The burden has not disappeared, but the sustaining is being done, and the sound of praise to our Lord is pleasing to the ear.

posted at 7:14 PM  

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
A look back
"Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer." Romans 12:12

Two months ago (July 12) Malcom underwent a 5 hour operation to remove the malignant tumor from his colon. One month ago (August 11) we were told the cancer had spread to the point that if something wasn't done soon, major organ failure was inevitable within a month. So here we find ourselves on September 12 marveling at what God has accomplished. Malcom is far from being healed, but we are rejoicing in hope. One benefit of journaling is being able to look back at previous entries and recognize just how much God has done, thus receiving encouragement to face the days yet unknown.

We were so blessed today. The visit with our Taiwanese friends ended on such a sweet note, with plans to see each other again later this year Lord willing. And then the day brought forth a wonderful surprise with my Uncle Ed and Aunt Donna coming to see us all the way from South Dakota! God's love for us is very evident as He continually demonstrates it to us through the loving care and concern of so many wonderful people, both family and friends.

A look back--thank you, Jesus, for what You have done.
A review of this day--thank you, Lord, for unexpected joy.
A tentative peek at tomorrow? I cannot predict what challenges the next month will hold. So while we rejoice in hope, we are also prepared to be patient in tribulation, ever lifting our hearts in prayer to God. For He is the source and sustainer of life.

posted at 12:19 AM  

Monday, September 12, 2005
Good things to cherish
"I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1

My apologies for not posting for a few days. In this case, no news is good news! Malcom is enjoying a "reprieve" between chemo treatments feeling more like his old self at times. It's been great spending time the past few days with Karen and Willy Yee. It was an extra special blessing to be able to take them with us to the house of the Lord today. So many good things to cherish: hearing their testimony thanking the Lord for sending missionaries to Taiwan, singing a duet with Karen using both Chinese and English, being fed from the Word of God in 3 services throughout the day, a great song service in the pm service and just being with our church family again.

How blessed we are to have the Lord...our shield, our refuge, our strong tower, our source of strength, our Rock in the storms of life.

In case you have wondered, Malcom still has his hair (the chemo hasn't taken that away yet), the mouth sores are gone (thanks for the prayers!) and he weighs about 138 lbs. We'll try to find a way to post some pictures this week.

posted at 12:20 AM  

Thursday, September 08, 2005
Body and Spirit
"I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14

It is amazing to see the change in Malcom over the last 2 days! He went as an outpatient to the hospital for IV fluids 3 days in a row. By yesterday he was beginning to revive and gain strength and today he is even stronger. Praise God! Even the mouth sores and yeast infection (Thrush) is not as painful today, so he was able to eat several good meals. The Creator did an awesome and wonderful job of intricately designing the human body. What a difference it makes to have the proper balance of fluid and nutrients.

Another thing that surely has contributed to Malcom's progress, reviving his spirits, is the arrival of Willy and Karen Yee, a young couple from Taiwan. Karen is like a daughter to us and we are so happy to see her. It's a joy to have them here and hear the news of our church family and friends back in Taiwan. Good news from a far country is just what the doctor ordered! (Proverbs 25:25)

In the days to follow hopefully Malcom will continue to gain strength. I'll be working hard to make sure he gets good nutrition to build up the good cells again. There will be follow up blood work in the next week and then a third chemo treatment is scheduled for Sept. 19. We are encouraged. Thanks for your prayers!

posted at 10:51 PM  

Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Prompted to Pray
"Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me." Romans 15:30

To maintain a consistent prayer life, especially for an ongoing need, takes work. No wonder the Apostle Paul asked the churches in Rome to "strive" with him in prayer. It seems easy to say "I'll pray for you" but the doing of it isn't so easy. When New Tribes missionaries, Martin and Gracia Burnham were captives in the Philippines, I remember being so burdened for them after I saw pictures of them and realized they were literally being starved in the jungles. After that until the day they were found I never ate a meal without praying for them. Just the act of putting food in my mouth prompted me to pray that they would have something to eat.

Today the Lord spoke to me and prompted me to pray for the ladies in our church in Taiwan who work as caregivers. Sure, I've often prayed for them, but I didn't really know how to pray. The on-the-job experience I'm getting now caring for Malcom has given me a new insight into how I can pray more specifically for those ladies.

Perhaps you can find something--a time or an activity--that you can use as a prayer prompter, a reminder to strive together with us in your prayers to God for us. If you do, let me know about it so that we may be encouraged.

The side affects of the chemotherapy this time are a little more severe. Malcom has been very fatigued, but in addition he has had low blood pressure. To deal with that problem he was given IV fluids today at the hosptial out-patient services. They will do this Wednesday and Thursday as well. He has also developed painful mouth sores. Please pray that this will not become too severe. We need prayer for continued patience and grace for each day.

posted at 9:54 PM  

Sunday, September 04, 2005
Choosing to trust
"My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise." Psalm 57:7

It's Sunday. The previous 2 days of chemotherapy left Malcom very, very weak so we were not able to attend church today. Instead we contented ourselves with finding a church service to watch on television, reading the Bible, and listening to uplifting CDs. Like the Psalmist, I am determined to keep my focus on the Lord. Psalm 112:7 says of the righteous man, "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord." The idea of fixing my heart on something conjures up images of purposeful decison, a conscious determination. That's one reason I write this blog. It gives me a tangible way to fix my thoughts on God, to search His Word for encouragement, comfort, and guidance. Faith is a choice and the object of my faith is trustworthy.

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise, just to know "Thus saith the Lord."
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him, how I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!

posted at 10:46 PM  

A Reason for Hope
"For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name." Psalm 33:21

We're back home again! Malcom was released from the hospital yesterday late afternoon. He was sent home with his chemo pack to finish out the last 24 hours. A "home infusion" nurse came by this afternoon to unhook it. He is fairly wiped out as was expected following the chemotherapy treatment.

He is exhausted and weary from the illness and treatment. I'm worn out too. And yet, we still rejoice in the Lord because our faith is firmly anchored in God's holy name. It makes a world of difference when facing this situation, something that was made very clear to us through observation of his last two roommates at the hosptial. They are also suffering with advanced cancer, they were undergoing very similar therapy, but there was no "hope" evident in their lives by their reactions to these circumstances. Instead we saw denial, anger, an uncooperative spirit, a general aura of hopelessness. Those without the Lord truly have nothing to hope in. They have already become disallusioned by anything the doctors or medical science can offer. If not for the Lord, we would be in the same frame of mind...But God. We are so thankful for the peace that comes from knowing God is in control of the circumstances of our lives. Without it, facing the unknown future would be unbearable.

Our desire is to demonstrate a living hope to a dying world. For now, our mission field is here.

posted at 12:51 AM  

Thursday, September 01, 2005
Good news today
"Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily." Isaiah 58:8

The scripture I chose was in a get-well card Malcom received today. It seemed appropriate to use it for our encouragement from God's Word as the morning began with him having a normal temperature! With the dawn of a new day, we stedfastly look for healing from the Lord.

There were several bits of good news: CEA count is lower (this is the "tumor" marker); white blood cell count isn't too high; he has a good appetite and the CT scan shows a decrease in the abdominal fluid. Today he started his 2nd round of chemotherapy. If all goes well, he should be able to go home tomorrow and continue it there as it takes about 48 hours.

I am in awe of the number of lives the Lord is allowing us to "touch" through this experience. Please pray that God will use me and use Malcom to minister to others who are hurting, that we may point them to the Lord.

posted at 9:38 PM