Second Edition

From the day I first received the hard copied of my book I began finding typo’s and small errors. Many of these were things that only I would notice, but it bothered me. I also came across passages that that could be worded better. This is probably an inevitable part of self-publishing. So, when I began running low on printed copies I decided to do a second edition. I went back through the book with a “fine toothed comb” looking for changes that needed to be made.

I truly believe the second edition is a much better product. I am almost afraid to read through it though, since I will always find things that could be worded better. With the workbook and the new edition, I truly believe these are excellent tools for churches considering their future. I have walked through the book and workbook with two cohorts of pastors, and with a church. In each case, we had great dialogue, and they began making concrete changes in their churches. This is what the book is all about.

I am currently looking to offer another cohort this fall, and I am looking for another church to walk through the process with. The book (and workbook) have eight chapters. We cover a chapter a week, using questions and discussions from the workbook in an interactive format.

I have also had the opportunity to present material from the book is several local church networks, and in many individual churches through one-day workshops.

I am glad to see that not only have people bought the book and workbook, but that they are using these tools to help shape the future of their churches. Please let me know if you would like me to come to your church for an evening, or to present the material over several weeks.


 

SOME GOOD NEWS AND SOME SAD NEWS

I don’t want to “bury the lead” so I’ll start by saying I got good news from the doctor today. Many of you know I had to have a CT scan about a month ago, which led to a biopsy about a week and a half ago. Which led to a bunch of new pain in my throat. The doctor was concerned with something she had seen on my PET scan. The CT scan wasn’t conclusive, so she did the biopsy. The results came back that it was fibrosis and scar tissue. Fibrosis is a buildup of fibrous tissue. It is a common side effect of radiation. So, they didn’t find any leftover cancer. This was such a huge relief to us! Of course, they will continue to follow up for quite some time, but it appears that I can put this behind me and get back to healing up.

If they had found ANY cancer cells they would have done surgery. It would have been very invasive – taking out my tonsils, cutting up into the muscles in my jaw, and taking out part of the base of my tongue. In other words, the surgery would have to go everywhere the cancer had spread. It was my doctor’s goal from the very beginning to avoid this surgery if at all possible.

This past month has been a new lesson of living with uncertainty. I am not a very patient person. But times like this force you to be patient. The reality is that none of us has certainty when it comes to physical life. I just learned last night of the sudden death of a colleague and friend, Harald Aadahl. Harald managed Eastover, the retreat center owned by our association. He was out splitting wood on a pleasant afternoon just before dusk. He died suddenly and was found beside his truck. Harald loved working with his hands – and I imagine he was enjoying the day. He either had a massive heart attack or aneurism. He went doing what he loved to do – but way too early in life from our perspective.

I am reminded of Matthew 6.27, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  No, we cannot. We need to learn to live today. Take what comes our way. Be thankful for what we have. In this same message from Jesus, he tells us that God knows what we need. If we truly believe that God is in control, AND that a better life waits for us when we die – we shouldn’t worry. To once again quote blues guitarist Albert King, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”

I don’t know about you – I still worry! I’m not an optimist or a pessimist. I am a realist. I could die today. I know that. And on one level I’m OK with it. Yet, I’m not homesick for heaven. I’d just as soon be around for a long time to come. I’ve still got ministry to do, and fish to catch. I want to grow old with Peggy spoiling our grandkids. I’m hugely relieved to hear my medical good news. And once again, am very grateful for all the wonderful medical people who have fought hard to get me here. I don’t take it for granted for one moment. At the same time, I hurt for Harald’s family who I am sure are left wondering why. We all know he is in that better place. But for selfish reasons, we wish he were still here.

Heavy stuff…

Anyway, thanks again for every one of you who constantly tell me that you have been praying for me. It means more that you can ever know.


 

REMISSION!

I had a PET/CT Scan last week. This scan looks for places in your body that have unusual activity. This is done by sending some radioactive sugar into your blood stream and tracking where it ends up. In my case, I had to lay perfectly still for two 30 minute periods back to back while the machine took pictures.

Today, I went to Dr. Mattern to get the results. We had to wait for what seemed like forever, since the PET Institute had forgotten to send the results over. They finally faxed it over. The results were that the tumor has shrunk quite a bit, and the two lymph nodes have gone back to normal size. I am officially in remission. So this is good news. Of course, I will need to have more PET scans in the future. The next one will probably be in 3 months. I don’t feel like I can really celebrate until this thing is totally gone.

Meanwhile, I have been suffering for several days with a nasty ear infection. I’ve never had an ear infection before. It really hurts, and it aggrivates the sore in my throat left over from the radiation. Other side effcets are stubbornly hanging on as well. I am so impatient to get back to “normal”!