Posts Tagged 'old man'

The Flesh is Perverse

Our human body is a marvel, to be sure, but it’s also perverse, given to auto immune disorders wherein it attacks itself with its own antibodies intended to defend against outside invaders — like Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, CREST syndrome….

Or, an even better example, cancer, where some region of cells will suddenly start growing all out-of-bounds and out of whack, distorting the organ or tissue where they begin until it can no longer function properly.

Recently an even more egregious aspect of this perversity has emerged in the results reported in a newly released study on the effectiveness of chemotherapy. You probably know that there are various kinds of chemo drugs — powerful toxins — developed and administered to cancer patients with the intent that these toxins will target the cancer cells and kill them. And so they do.

The first time around.

But often after the first round has been successful and the cancer has been eradicated, at some point it will return in the same or a new location. In the case of my mother, the first cancer cells developed in her breast. Surgery, chemo and radiation treatments resulted in her being pronounced “cancer free” some eight months after the cancer was first discovered. But only six months later, it returned, this time in her thigh bone.

This is so common an occurance that at a routine post-cancer visit, the minute she mentioned having pain there — after we’d spent three months going to various other doctors for answers — her oncologist sat up straight and took strong notice. He ordered an immediate CAT scan and sure enough, the cancer was back.

Scientists have long sought to understand why, especially since cancer cells outside the body are so easily killed. Apparently they have finally discovered some answers.

Turns out that while the initial round of toxins are killing the tumors, they are also affecting the healthy cells that surround the tumor, changing their DNA, and provoking them into eventually releasing “a protein that sustains tumour growth and resistance to further treatment.” This protein, called WNT16B, “interacts with nearby tumor cells, [causing] them to grow, invade, and importantly, resist subsequent therapy.”

“‘The increase in WNT16B was completely unexpected,” study co-author Peter Nelson of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle told AFP.”

Indeed, who would expect our own bodies, already killing themselves with the mad growth of cancer cells, to use the intended cure to actually help the mutated cells survive and prosper? Typical of the flesh, though, and the way so many of us, when in its grip, attack our own lives, tormenting ourselves with self-debilitating thoughts, or self-destructive behaviors.

I do not believe this is coincidence, but rather a vivid illustration of the death and perversity that lives in our bodies — the outer man, which is decaying even now — and yet another reason to give thanks for the new life we have received through faith in Christ, that inner man which has the potential of being renewed day by day, regardless of what’s happening to our flesh.

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Wordless, Sort of

I seem to have been wordless for the last few days. Not wordless for my journal or my writing logs, but wordless when it comes to writing a blog post, or answering email, or working on Sky. I know I’ve been tired and it may be that is part of the problem. If being wordless is really a problem.

The biggest thing of late seems to have been to stop trying to do it myself, stop trying to figure out what’s wrong with me and focus on Jesus. We’ve been learning about being crucified with Christ. The old man, the old me, the me with limitations and the one that makes all the problems and fusses. The distractable me. The confused me.

I understand crucifixion — that is, I know what it is. I know that Jesus was crucified. I am familiar with Gal 2:20 which says “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered himself up for me.”

But I only sort of understand it. It’s not a literal crucifixion of my body. It’s a spiritual crucifixion. It means the old me has died, even though experientially it still holds sway over me. Which is kind of hard to understand. Usually if something is dead it just lies there doing nothing. But then, everyone born into this world is born spiritually dead and they don’t just lie there…

So it’s a spiritual crucifixion. And while the old me can have power over me, it doesn’t have to. If I don’t want to be under its power, I don’t have to be, though it seems awfully hard a lot of the time not to fall into it anyway. To even recognize it, is sometimes hard, because not all its impulses and suggestions are obviously bad and evil and sinful. Some of them are good, humanly speaking. Some of the things the old nature can do are the same things the new nature does in the power of the Spirit. Outwardly they look the same. Inwardly, they can too, if my inward sight is not clear enough.

Anyway, I’m grappling with how one goes about living in the fact of having been crucified with Christ, and how that relates to my writing problems… if it does, and finally yesterday I just gave up trying to figure out what I need to do better or different or what have you and just took it to the Lord. “You do it,” I said to Him. “You’ve promised to make all grace abound to me, so I’d have all sufficiency in everything, an abundance for every good deed. If you really want me to write this book, You’re going to have to do it, because I am not able to.

And at the end of the day I looked at the work for about an hour and began to gather various notes on scraps and pieces of paper into a document on the computer. Stuff that might happen in Chapter 6. Stuff I know about the situation in Chapter 6 — a dinner party. (That may be most of my problem. A dinner party is not inherently full of conflict and action…) I know many of the people who will attend. I know in general what may be discussed. I know some secrets to reveal…

Today I added to that document, interspersed with continued reading in my book about life in ancient Rome. I’m getting glimpses.  Small interchanges, images, a sense of place… it’s starting, slowly, to come together.

I have no idea what will happen tomorrow but I’d be an idiot not to go to God again and say, again, “You do it. I can’t. Show me the way I should go here, for to you I lift up my soul.”

More and more He’s showing me — it’s to be a moment by moment thing, where I go to Him, ask Him, stop trying to do it myself… I have limits, I have blind spots, I have no idea where we’re going. He does. And He doesn’t have limits and He has no blind spots. Trusting Him for it all, I think, is living by faith in the Son of God… Faith He’s there, faith He will come through.   Because “Faithful is He who has called you and HE will bring it to pass.”

 

 

The Schizo Christian Life

Yesterday (Wednesday) I spent some time sulking in the morning as I was trying to get to work on Sky. I did a nonstop, whining to God that the reason I didn’t want to work was because with my writing career “sliding into the toilet” what’s the use? Enclave doesn’t seem to be doing very well from my perspective, The Shadow Within and Return of the Guardian King have gone out of print so what’s the point?  Once again I was feeling sorry for myself, feeling like I’d gotten the short end of the stick from God. “All those years of work,” I moaned to Him in the nonstop, “and what was the use? I feel betrayed. I poured out my life for You for decades, and where did it get me?”

Ahem. A still small voice asked me if I was really “pouring my life out” for all those decades writing without publication just for Him, or was it more my desire for approbation (recognition, notice, approval, success) that had driven me?

God always does that. Always knocks the legs of my argument right out from under me.

Yes, He was absolutely right. I was willing to wait and work and wait and work mostly because of the shining goal at the end of the road that would have been glorious success. I was trusting Him to come through, but only as He fulfilled my plan, not His. And my plan was more about having self exalted than Him.

Gross.

But hey, I’ve got a sick head and a deceitful heart and it ain’t goin’ away until I’m dead. Or raptured. Yesterday I liked the analogy of swimming in the cesspool of my sin nature and its human viewpoint. It seemed especially apt for the grossness of my complaints and the greater grossness of the desires of my flesh that sometimes get the best of me. Pastor would probably say “welcome to the human race.” We all want to elevate ourselves in some way when it comes to the flesh. The best looking, the best writer, the best runner, the best mom, the best home schooler, the best children, the best church, the best, the best, the best. Our society is drunk on best-ness. Numbers. Top Ten. Top Five. Number One. Number two is never good enough. There always has to be improvement…. Rah rah. They make that thinking sound like a good thing.

But it’s Satanic all the way. And full of lies. For one thing, I have had success. The Lord did some wonderful things with Arena, and with the  Guardian King books. He gave me four Christy Awards. And was there any doubt that He was the one who had promoted them ALL to publication in the first place? No. But then weirdly, once He’d clearly done it, I took hold of things and began to think I had to do something to maintain it all, even while realizing on some level that I couldn’t. And with that, the fear machine in my flesh chugged and rumbled to life.

Fear of loss meant the approbation I did receive was never enough. There had to be enough sales so the books would not go out of print. But I also know that even if I’d gotten a level of sales that would have prevented the OP problem, it still wouldn’t have been enough. For my flesh anyway. I know that because the Bible says so, and also because I’ve now experienced it. I used to think if only I could get published that would be enough. I wouldn’t even care how many books sold. But it wasn’t long after I had been placed in the status of published author that, as I said, I did begin to care. I checked Amazon rankings daily. I monitored my fan letters. I agonized if there weren’t enough of them on any given day (though how I arrived at an acceptable number is a mystery) and on and on.

It wasn’t happiness. It wasn’t contentment.

Nassim Taleb, in The Black Swan noted that lack of contentment is one of the pitfalls of working in a field governed by extremistan. Where your payoff comes in large, unexpected chunks. He said that our hormonal system does better with a steady stream of small successes. So a stock trader who receives a little bit every day, feels better and more successful than one who receives a huge hunk ever five years, even if the latter gets ten times as much as the former. “It’s better to not to have won anything,” he said, “than to win ten million and lose nine.”

We are such weird creatures. Because I know that statement is true. Left to ourselves we focus on the lost nine instead of the fact that a million is certainly better than nothing.

Another thing Taleb said is that as bad as we are at predicting stock prices, economic futures, and political/national events (and forget predicting the weather!), we are even worse at predicting how much happiness the acquisition of some goal is going to bring us. We lust for a new car, get it and within six months or less, it’s just a car. How long before the new furniture is just furniture? The new job is not as wonderful as you thought it would be? The undying love in a marriage sours? How long before that old phone is no longer anything and now you need the new Apple I-tablet!

Our culture and economy is based on the fact that we’re never satisfied. We’ll always want more, or better or different or newer… Never content with what we have.

True contentment is independent of circumstances. It springs from one’s values and thoughts. It’s something that, according to the Bible (Phil 4:11), has to be learned, and the word for learned there is manthano, which means “to learn by instruction, to be taught” (there’s submitting oneself to one’s pastor teacher to learn bible doctrine), “to learn from experience, often with the implication of reflection – ‘to learn, to come to realize’” (there’s the attempts at application) “and to come to understand as the result of a process of learning” (the final result after many iterations of the cycle).

In other words, contentment is a result of the tranformation of the mind through daily exposure to the teaching of the Word of God. The Word does the transforming and as one’s values and norms and standards change, one’s desires change. Fleshly values and thoughts can only experience the pseudo-contentment of being in good circumstances and even then it won’t satisfy for long as boredom sets in. And should those good circumstances turn bad, the fleshly, pseudo-contentment flies right out the window.

True contentment is something that can’t be shaken. Something that God does, not that we do. I don’t believe we can make ourselves content. All we do is keep exposing ourselves to His thinking and gradually, tiny step by tiny step, His thinking becomes ours and we are changed. I’m not there yet, but way better than I used to be. There was a time I couldn’t even consider the possibility of not being published. Then when I got to the point of truly not caring, God opened those doors. Now, for the most part, I really don’t care what the career does. It’s only when I fall into that cesspool that I start caring again. Get my eyes off the right things and onto the wrong things and I’m miserable. And I do it all to myself.

Fortunately there’s rebound. And daily Bible class, which reinforces the entire process and gets my eyes trained back on the right things.


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