Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Explanation of my prayer list

A few days ago I enlisted the help of several people in a prayer campaign to help me fight some very specific battles that have been plaguing me of late. This evening, as I thought of adding some new items to the list, I realized, I should put up a blog post with the targeted items. If you are looking for the prayer list, please go here:
Prayer List
This way, when/if I made changes/additions, people can simply refer to the same post without having to worry about whether they got the email, if it had gotten sent to spam etc. Furthermore, it may be something others could stumble upon and assist in the process. Right now, I need prayer. We all need prayer. But, if I am to survive my medical condition, I literally need a miracle.

Due to the complexity of my condition, chemotherapy is no longer and option and all I can do it take transfusions and medications. It is a scientific fact that transfusions, over time, will begin to be rejected by the host body for a variety of reasons. At the moment, I am on a pattern where I get transfusions about once every 10 days. In fact, I get transfusions about once every 5 days, but, two different types of transfusions. So, I may do labs on a Monday, and, get a red blood cell transfusion on Tuesday for 2 pints of blood. We will call Monday day 1. I test again day 5, Friday, and, see I need a bag if platelets, so, on day 5 I get a second transfusion, this time, with platelets and platelets alone. I will be fine on red blood cells until about day 9, at which point I do labs, then, on day 10, get 2 bags of red blood cells. Usually, my platelets are dropping at this point, but, still fine. Four days later, around day 14, I do labs, and, it comes out I need platelets, so, on day 15 I get platelets. All this is to say, I have two cycles: days 1-10 (red) and days 5-15 (platelets). So, even though I have two "cycles" I am in this time period refreshing all cell types...just not at once.

This can continue for some time. My oncologist, who is also a hematology expert, pointed out that the body will eventually stop allowing this pattern. If it were as simple as me being able to do this indefinitely, I would not be "dying". However, there is a finite amount of time, the length of which no one knows, during which I can continue this pattern of periodic transfusions to survive. Yet, according to my doctors, this too will come to an end. When this occurs, I will die of one of two things: 1) bleeding out or 2) infection. Either is equally as valid, but, neither are something I am ready or willing to think about yet. Aware of the end results? Yes. Up for pondering them much? No. I guess you could say it's the denial stage, but, I have fought with enough stuff to just not feel compelled to dwell on things I cannot change in the long run. Eventually, I will die because of conditions similar to leukemia. Bone marrow transplants, from what I have been told, are really not an option because there is so much cancer in my bones. To clear out the cancer in my bones I would have to undergo such intense chemotherapy it would more than likely kill me in the process of trying to help me. So, we stand at a cross-roads. And, I see no "natural" solution to the problem. This is why I have come up with the prayer list shown below.

Much of what is written below is verbatim from my original email to folks who are praying for me in this violent prayer assault. I believe that supernatural healing CAN occur. Will it? I do not know. And, honestly, I have had entirely too many thoughts telling me "you can't trust God" lately to want to write much about it. Nonetheless, I return, again, in faith, holding fast to the fact that there are many realms. One is science and another is the divine. They can, and, in some places, do, overlap. Exactly, how, where, when, why. Shoot, I am not God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or any of his angels. I am not a prophet or a saint to whom he has revealed the edges of these two spheres. As a side note, I think saying there are "edges" implies there are distinct, unique, and, separate shapes, wholly different in type and nature. Without getting into a big sidetrack, I would think the interrelationship between science and the divine is like that of brackish water and fresh: at what point does fresh water start and swamp water end? They are both water, but, no single line of demarcation can be drawn. There are infinitely subtle shades of differences, tiny changes, places where there may be more God than science, and, just a little over, a spot where God may pale in comparison to what can be known and knowable. In the very same way, were a person to float into space and try to determine what types of light exist where, lets say gamma rays versus light rays or ultraviolet, is virtually impossible. Are there true, real differences that could be made were one given such power? Yes. Absolutely. But, in the end, how much does ones ability to lay bare the precise, infinitely complex differences matter? I have gotten, in my life, to the point where I no longer feel compelled or driven to be the one who makes such articulate proclamations.

I am, however, at the point where I want to see God's power in action. Live. Real. Transfomation. Healing. Restorative. Eternal and beyond that which even our greatest imagination's fancy can reach. What I want is to be able to tell the world that God has done great things and not just say it, but, show it. Demonstrating, if, with nothing other than my own life, how incomparable God's greatest truly is stands at the top of my list of hopes and dreams. Shortly after being diagnosed, my verse became, "I shall not die but live and declare the works of God." Which works? Any. All. Every. Whatever He would give me the privilege to. It is with a mind focused on God in this way that I composed a list of prayers I sent to folks who are standing with me in prayer.  At times, the shape and specific items in my list with change. I see where some prayers will simply be answered, and, leaving it on the list, would be of no value in this personal metamorphosis from who I am to who God called and created me to be: a spiritual ecologist. This prayer list is my mission statement, my focused plan to move forward, death or no death. Having people stand with me to resist the enemy and the "rare" and "unknown" diseases that threaten to take my life is a joy I cannot share loudly enough. The enemy has come at me long enough and hard enough that he had to INVENT new warfare. I do not take this as a sign of pride. I wish I were not sick. I wish I were an ordinary person. But, by the virtue of my disease alone, it seems that the enemy is up to something and I need EVERY person who is willing to pray to keep me here on earth praying. As I get new prayer requests I will update the existing link to simplify the task for any who wish to follow along. Again, I still need to complete the last portion, but, I wanted to further clarify WHY I have this prayer list and what I hope to accomplish with it. May Jesus Christ be praised and glorified. May the power the raised him from the grave strengthen me and may God and God alone be able to receive praise and honor for the fact that I am still alive.

I should be dead. I overdosed while I was a teenager once. I have almost been killed by cars twice. I suffered complications and a surgery so severe that my survival was questionable. And, now, I stand, beyond the edge of medical care. There is no cure. Not for the first cancer. And, not for the second cancer. If I stop receiving transfusions I die. So, death is not just after me. It is out, in full force, to steal my life, rob my family and kill me. Period. Satan hates me and Jesus loves me. So far, Jesus is winning and pray that the gap widens! Please stand with me. If you have people who are prayer warriors, beg their assistance. I am nothing special. I am but a man. Yet, the amount, depth, length and kind of attack sent against me and my family for such a time as this makes me believe that God truly wants to do something great. It may not be through me, but, perhaps only through someone I come into contact with, or, something I say. But, it is about God and his greatness. Please stand with me that God's miracles would come to pass in order prove He is real. He is alive. And, He loves us. He the God who rules this world and without his love and power we are nothing. Be a part of a miracle and pray that God will do something to SHOUT TO THE EARTH and NATIONS about his goodness.

Prayer list

Good morning all. My apologies for taking so long to get back to everyone on this. Also, if you get two copies of this I am sorry for the duplicates. I think this was precisely what I was worried about happening: getting people ready to help, then, getting sidetracked. That being said, I am going to send the following email, even though it is incomplete, because I think praying for at least some of the things for which I need prayer--but not all--is better than no prayer whatsoever. So, below is some of the story explaining what this is about and the specific prayer requests. I am not going to let me perfectionism overrule my need for prayer and support.

Thank you for your willingness to stand with me and my family in these days. If you do not know my story I will give a very brief summary to catch you up to date so you can see where we stand and why we need your support. In early 2010 I was diangosed with a rare, incurable form of cancer called desmoplastic small round cell tumor. We just shorten it to DSRCT. I did 10 rounds of extreme chemotherapies before partaking in a radical surgery at the end of March 2011. After my surgery there were complications and I was able to return home to attempt further chemotherapy throughout the rest of 2011. In October 2011 I broke my right leg due to osteoperosis and chose not to go back on traditional therapy because of the extremity of the treatments. In April 2012 we discovered, that although the disease had been in remission, it returned. In June we learned it was growing throughout the body as well as a second, never-before-seen type of mutated cancer inside my marrow. As a result the doctors said I would be able to risk some chemotherapries which would more than likely kill me in the process of treating a disease that would not likely respond. I decided to foregoe the therapy and receive transfusions and medications instead so I could enjoy the rest of my days with my family and friends. 

Now, if science were the only thing we were to go by, this would be nearly the last sentances I could write. But, I and my family believe that, while science is powerful and has allowed me significant healing, there is greater power in God to be tapped into. When we received this diagnosis it was essentially a death sentance and since then I have vowed to view this as a lesson in learning how healing works. According to science, I am dying. But, I serve a God bigger than science whose ways are greater than our ways. Do I know I may still die? Yes, I am aware of it every moment of every day. Does that stop me from pressing into God for something more? No. Through your partnership and prayer with me, however, that may look, I am hoping God will restore me in a supernatural, miraculous way for which only God can be given credit. I pray that I am used mightly to demonstrate God's goodness and mercy to the world I encounter. May Jesus Christ be seen through, in and by me. I do not wish to be the focus of this, but, rather, that the great glory me may give would go to God the Father, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. With this as my state and purpose I stand on a key verse, "I shall not die, but live to declare the works of God, in Jesus' name." That, my friends, has been my prayer since this began. And, it is to this day. May his great works be proclaimed! 

To try and overcome the dark spiritual forces that constantly attack me, we have prepared a targeted list of prayers that we pray daily. There is no requirement that you pray these daily. Sometimes we miss days becuase, well, life happens. But, we always return to them. This is not an exercise in religion where the number of times you pray get somehow added up and at a mysterious tipping point healing will occur. At least, that's not how God has me envisioning it. My vision is that God would raise the level of faith in all of our lives that the body of Christ would opperate in its fullness and, as outlined in Ephesians 4, "so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Again, the development of all of us, to the glorification of God and Christ, is my goal. If I am not healed, but, we all are part of a stronger, more unified church, I would be satisfied God's work had been done. If I am healed, but, striffe, division, pride, and, jealousy rose up as a result, I would lament and beg God's forgiveness. For, this whole effort is for God. If I be healed along the way, praise be to Him.

With this being said, here are prayers we are targetting daily. As you feel led, please lift me, my wife, Kerri, and, our three kids, Page, Emma and Liam up, that we, as a family, may be drawn closer to God's blessed presence and holy name.

Below are prayers that we ask you stand with us uttering, declaring and beseeching God with. These may change as attack, mercy shifts. As we need to update it I will send out new emails accordingly.
  • Jesus, help me to fulfill your word to be a spiritual ecologist as you intended it.
  • God, let me write powerfully, creatively, and, transformatively with the prophetic, revelatory and life-giving power that will free souls from the slave trade (Revelation 18:11-17) until we are all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive in Christ (Ephesians 4:14-16).
  • God in heaven, give me a FULL understanding, both conceptually and experientially, of what it means where John writes "the witness of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelation 19:11) Make MY ENTIRE LIFE such a witness.
  • There are four writing works I desire with all of my heart to complete: 1) prophetic portraits of my children, 2) an autobiography, 3) a complete treatise of 100% truth of healing and 4) the fullness of my testimony in Christ.
  • Lord, pour out your mercies upon the Steeles that your grace may give them peace, joy and fruit of the spirit.
  • Lord, allow Will to complete the writing assignments you have placed in his heart and spirit.
  • Lord, give Will the grace to overcome the constant stress of dealing with regular life in the midst of what appears to be the process of dying.
  • Lord, release miraculous love into the lives of the Steele family.
  • Lord Jesus, create a supernatural environment of healing and hope in the home of the Steeles.
  • Lord, give them dreams, visions, words, wisdom, knowledge, and, insight into the various attacks the enemy may be aligning against them. And, more importantly, draw them into your safety and presence when such attacks come. Render these gorilla invasions of fear, distress, angry, frustrations, ignorance and confusion powerless against the Blood of your son Jesus Christ.
  • Lord, release financial providence into the lives of the Steeles that you, Lord, would be honored for your faithfulness and unfailing love.
  • Daily place the armor of the spirit upon each an every person in the Steele family that they may not be attacked or defeated by the weapons formed against them.
  • Lord, allow Will and Kerri to keep the divine order of significance. Let them keep what is important before their eyes and what is unimportant, may it fall where it may.
  • Remove any and all communication barriers between Will and family, friends, support staff, medical professionals and staff.
  • Allow supernatural forethought and vision into the plans which will most effectively glorify you God and stregthen the Steeles. Let them be sensitive to these calls and respond with full obedience to your move.
  • Lord, let Kerri have peace of mind, clarity of focus and freedom from physical, mental, emotional streess usch as 
  • Bring healing from the depths beyond this world to each person in the Steele family. Will's body, soul and spirit. Kerri's body, soul and spirit. And, the body, soul and spirit of Emma, Page and Liam.
  • Lord, you know that I (Will) has framed this entire disease process in the context of one great lesson in healing. God, I pray that you would allow me to live and proclaim you and your great works in the name of Jesus Christ.
  • Let this family use what talents and resources you provide them with to the fullest of their capacities. Allow them, Lord, to do amazing things with so little that you Lord would be praised and glorified.
  • Lord, please allow divine order to permeate the actions of this family. Let their communications be spirit to spirit, deep to deep.
  • God, if life is to be Will's fate, may it be a great testimony to the world that you God are real, that you are alive, that you do heal and that you do care about even the least of us.
  • Lord, release, in complete, perfect form, the messages you have Will to pass on to his wife, children, and, family.
  • Give a supernatural release of the love of Christ into the lives of all the Steeles. We wish to serve you Lord, glorify you through our choices, actions and deeds. Let our lives reflect yours in all things.
  • Lord, let me health be a reversal, a supernatural sign and wonder to the medical community, as I not only return to fullness of health, but, all the conditions from which I suffer.
  • God, you brought Jesus back from the dead, surely you can keep me from going there in the first place.
  • God, help me to honor you in ALL I do.
  • Jesus, I have never been around or through anything like this. Let me be a shining example of your grace, mercy and love in all things.
  • Lord, help me to be honest with myself and others in self-assessment of my condition. Let me be neither to over-confident nor too unsure, but, rather, finding the balance in all things.
  • Lord, let me my life be a work of art glorifying you to the fullest each and every day
  • Teach me, oh God, how to receive your blessings and grace.
  • If, Lord, I am to die, reveal my fate to me that I will be aware of the truth, and, not put my hope and trust in false things. To you be the honor, the glory, and praise for all things!
  • Protect, oh God, my wife, children, family and friends that their faith would be strengthened through this and not destroyed. I fear for my children they will have seeds of anger, hatred, and, rejection of you Lord if you take me away from them. If you do, Lord, please be their guide, their counsel and the shield.
  • God, help me and my family to reveal God's healing touch to the lives of thousands of people watching us to see what you will do God. Stand up and show that you God are the true god.
  • Jesus, give me the strength to rely on my body's natural defense mechanisms whenever possible. While I recognize the value and benefit of medications, Lord, I pray you would give me the courage, strength and supernatural relief from pain without relying on drugs. God, stop me from relying on the spirit of pharmakaea.
  • Lord, let me make the most of every moment I have. Whether it is to use my time wisely, to spend time with my children, to sleep when it is needed and be restored when the time is right.
  • Lord, help me right discern medical symptoms from "hiccups". If I have a problem, Lord, let me know.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  • Lord, distinguish a difference between the spirit of medicinal help and the spirit of pharmakae. Protect me Lord from what is attack and give me peace to accept what is restorative and life-giving.
  • Jesus help me to only expend energy in productive ways, and, to not become frustrated, disappointed or distracted by doing the work of a "busy body".
  • God, grant me self-control, physical normalcy and peace of mind to maximize what time I have in the days ahead. Let manias and depressions neither push nor pull me off this course you have set.
  • Holy Spirit, quicken my mind, senses and will to make wise, life-sustaining choices with my diet, sleep and exercise patterns.
  • Lord, magnify and quicken my senses THAT your voice and will becomes 1) unmistakable 2) my responsiveness and submission is 100% complete without reservation and 3) you will would be accomplished regardless of my perfection (or imperfection). Let me pursue the fullness of your blessing and receive the grace of your forgiveness.
  • Let the creative works you have placed in my God work to such a degree that Jesus Christ is praised and I am TOTALLY forgotten. Praise be to God and Christ through the work set before us.
Added 10/11/12
  • Heal Kerri to the fullness of your capacity God. Remove her headaches, restore fullness of function and energy. And, protect her from the drain and theft stress has been in our lives. Protect her from the enemy's unrelenting attack and give her faith to replace doubt.
  • For Will, give him strength to transform his diet to avoid more medications and "diagnoses". Prevent diabetes (or prediabetes) and hypertension. Let peace and health radiate throughout his body.
  • Let Will find the strength he needs to complete his writing and "assignments". Prevent distraction and weight from pulling him in directions that take away from what  he needs to be doing.
  • Try not to let body's degradation prevent Will from praising God. Things seem to be "shutting down" and I hope to keep my head above water as this happens. Not a great prospect, so, I will need grace in this process.
  • Pray that the kids stay open and communicate as things change, i.e., Will's health declines and Kerri's stress load increases.
  • Find grace and God's provision as short term disability kicks in. We will be working with a lot less income and I don't know if I will be able to go back to work. Honestly, this answer will only come in time. I pray that Kerri and the kids will be able to do okay with my "limited" income. It is a scary prospect, one, I as a the sole provider for the family feel I am failing to provide. Hard to swallow this one as a man. God, please come through.
  • God's protection as we fall out of favor of the "best" doctors into the hands of lesser doctors who are fighting over the scraps. We need wisdom to know what are the best choices as we get passed from team to team.
Praise reports
  • Will, thank you God for allowing me to find a combination of medications that allow me to sleep. This had been a major issue and is now under control.
The following is taken from a book called the Prayer Passport to Crush Oppression by Dr. Daniel Olukoya. We stand on these prayers, not because there is special power in this man, but, because we feel anointing in his prayer gifting and believe his words are true, and, powerful tools of God to be used for freeing bodies, souls and spirits from oppression. This part is important, but, the items listed above are more important at this time.

Dismantaling Cancer

Confesions: Proverbs 4:20-22: My son, attend to my words: incline thine ear unto my saying. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and, health to all their flesh.

2 Tim. 1:7: For God hath not given us a spirit of fear: but of power, and of a sound mind.

2 Tim. 3:3: But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

Matthew 15:13: But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

Mark 11:23: For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be though cast into the sea; and hall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things he saith shall come to pass: he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Mark 11:24: Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Jeremiah 30:15-17: Why criest though for thine afflication? Thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these thing unto thee. Therefore all they that devoir thee shall be devoured and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey. For I ill restore health unto three, and I will heal thee of they wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.
Praise/worship: pray them interceding on my behalf. Change the words as needed to reflect the prayer to be as if it were my own.
1) All the activities of silent killers in my body, die, in the name of Jesus.
2) You the symptoms of cancer in any area of my body, die, in the name of Jesus.
3) Every evil growth
As noted earlier, I just couldn't sit on this any longer. Please forgive the length. I am in all out assault mode. But, please remember, for all that I ask, keep GOD at the center of this. Not Will Steele. Jesus is Lord. I am his servant. The Holy Spirit is worthy of honor and praise. Not me. I am just asking that God would spare my life that I could begin to do the REAL work he has set aside for this day. For without our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, all of these words, all of these prayers, all of these actions are meaningless. Stand with me to keep the foundation centered on God.

Thank you for standing with me. I ask the Lord to cover, protect and hide you from the roving eyes of the enemy. Your brother in Christ,


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Such a night as this...

I woke up. Grabbed a hot diet Coke and some No Doze. If that's any indication as to what sort of morning it is.... Praises of God fail. Curses rises up. Despair stands, oppressive, and, the smell of death, his unmistakable odor, is palpable. Garbage, nonsense, just all in your head. Say whatever you want, but, when you are told, it is time, something shifts. In my case, it was like a tectonic plate of sorrow and shame. Why shame, you might ask? I will leave, in my wake, a family of four. An amazing woman, the likes of which I have only met once on earth. Loving, gentle, courageous, fair, beautiful, inside and out, truly just and one of those rare souls you hear about, thinking, people this good don't really exists. Had I never seen her with my own two eyes, loved her with my heart, and, spent the past decade with here, I would never have believed her to be real. Too good to be true. Smart, funny, cute, sweet, precious, incomparable. President of her sorority, a natural born leader, a woman who turned down a successful future as a doctor to be a mother. The woman who always has THE right thing to say at THE right time. The anti-me. My complement, but, in a positive way, in all things.

How can I, a dying, sick man, unprepared to send her and our three children into the future after I am gone, sleep at peace knowing I never took time to care for her as I should have. We have a minuscule life insurance policy, a large portion of which will be swallowed by taxes. A 401k that will be gutted like a fish as market as soon as we touch it. Over the past few months we have been looking for houses to move into while we still have my salary. Yes, we are a single-income family in the day of double-incomes. We chose as parents to raise our kids as our treasure, not our bank accounts. And, yet, life had taken THE turn for the worst and insulted our brave, valiant choice to be noble be insult and injury. Money will more than likely be a plague for my family as has been for me my whole life. Never having enough. Never knowing what can be done to fend off that immediate fear of, "We just won't quite have enough." There are no television shows swooping into magically help us. We have the mercy and great kindnesses of strangers. Some through churches, others, though compassion, but, nothing, no shallow thread of what tattered hope I once stood so strong in brings me peace. God and his peace are long, distant memories.

I know not who or what He is. Until yesterday, I sat, in a quiet moment of thanks, feeling I had a few months to reflect, to cobble together some semblance of a belief in God again. I was going, as Karen put it, to wipe the slate clean, rebuilt my touch with God and see, with own, bare, bloody, wearied eyes, who this God I said I believed in so much really was any more. And, then, this. The reality check. Danette, our nurse, quietly, but, in a matter-of-fact tone, took Kerri aside and said, "Look, his marrow is gone. He is living on transfusions. And, they will start to fail. When that happens, it is only a matter of time." To write that, to literally type that, and, know, I feel no pain, no sickness, nothing other than a mild tooth ache. Surreal lost its meaning years ago. How care how surreal it is. It is insulting. It is like the rape of the mind and soul and spirit. I hear you are alive, and, just like that, will no longer be. We cannot tell you when this thief will come. Nor, can we tell you what its assault will be like. Only that, when it is said and done, so too will you.

I stop, reflecting. In my office, my walls are lined with books of computers, ideas, literature, philosophy. All these grand things, ideas, pursuits, hopes dreams, things I wanted to become, to achieve and pursue. And, now, when I look at them, I see wasted money fruitless pursuits. Vanity and anger. Loss, depravity and a mockery I made of myself. Musical instruments hang on my wall. Literally, just yesterday, I contacted the worship team at church to see about joining up. Now, I have to backtrack and tell them, "Sorry, I was dying slowly before and thought I had time. The clock suddenly accelerated, like one of those horror scenes in sci-fi movie, where the nuclear bomb's timer goes from counting hours to seconds with one wrong snip of a wire." Once again, my hope and optimism have made me take actions to come across as the unwitting fool. Who was I to think I could go worship this God I, for who knows what reason, I proclaim to love. The one who finally brought me, after a lifetime of alienation, oddity, weirdness, despair and being lost to a place I finally felt at home. And, in a split second, to take it all away. Where, my friends, is that worship song! I haven't heard that one played anywhere, ever.

I try, try and try to lift myself up by my boostraps, but, every time I do, I break a finger, tear a ligament, bust my nose, rip my pants, make a laughing stock of myself, my family, this so-called God and all that I supposedly stand for along the way. So, I begin to wonder, "Why stand?" I am not going to stop living. I am not suicidal. I just wonder, "Why try?" God not only seems to NOT care, he seems to WANT to make sure my efforts at standing firm him are, one by one, hope by hope, dream by dream, destroyed. I have no desire to do or be anything for Him. Honestly, all I have ever wanted to with serve him. First we move to Dallas to help out with a ministry, only, due to new job, ANYTHING I DO EXCEPT but work with ministry. It has been, since we moved here in 2005 like a giant, glass dome has fallen over the CITY and all its spiritual ministries. I have, in the years I have been here to do something with God. At first it frustrated me. Then, it really frustrated.

Three years into this journey. I quit. The dreams, miracles, vision, prayers, the conferences, prophets, apostles. Spiritual people to the hilt. Those doing, as John Wimber called it, the work. I lost faith, not only that they were still alive and vital, but, that I was to have anything to do with them. I reached out, only to be rebuffed an ignored. That was almost 4 years ago. After getting diagnosed I returned more on fire. Desperate. My banner was that this disease was merely God's way to teaching, from A to Z, about healing. I prayed. I fasted. I scarified. We went into $20,000 worth of debut pursuing alternative medicine. I tried eastern medicine. Western medicine. Drugs. Radical surgeries. And, by radical, I mean, I am 17-hour, every organ in my abdominal cavity removed, scoured for tumors, 1/3rd of my tumor resected, no spleen or gall bladder, 90 minute heated chemotherapy wash across my entire interperotenal region radical. Two major complications, and a month and a half later, and, Kerri and I limped home in our little $1,000 Honda home. Shortly after that, three more rounds of chemo, a broken right leg, in the hospital puking first and morphine, getting railed by kidney doctors for not doing dialysis.

All this, and, I stand, working, somehow, not very effectively, less and less able to keep a clarity. my thought less coherent. I promised my friend, and, manager Jeff, when I felt I was a liability to the team I would step down. Running the risk of not only damaging my own career but that of my teammate is not only irresponsible but wrong. When that day came, I promised myself and him I would step down. Well, it has come. I wish I had more to give, but, this is it. I cherish their friendship too much, and, respect them as individuals much to much to let me desire to "hang on" cause them, to cause our product, to cause our company problems. I am the weak link, and, I stepping down. I so wish it was not the case. I have finally found something I really and truly love to do. Perhaps I can consult, do odd jobs, scripts, tasks, random things. But, right now, there is this one project, a conversion of over 3.5 million files. I've never done anything that large, much less by myself. As I start ailing physically and presumably mentally, I am in my position to be a risk to my company. I think God, my team mates, managers and all those involved who have allowed me to continue to help in spite of my health. I told them, when all this was said and done, I was hoping this whole thing would be one giant lesson in healing. Well, I guess it has turned out differently than I expected and I need to give those who have supported me the honor and respect they deserve for standing with me through all of this. So, for those have been with through all this, "Thank you." I have no ability to share how much and how deeply the support of those who have been with me through this has meant. It truly does transcend words.

More to come later. I am in like 100,000 mile an hour mode and have to get the kids ready for school. What a way to start the day. And, it's only, let's see...dawn.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The dangers of reasonableness

In the spirit of the past couple of explanatory posts I want to touch on some basic terms and why I think they are important. Many of my concepts, at least the ones I really think are worth listening too, stem from thinking similar to the work of an American expatriate, Francis Schaeffer. Although Schaeffer's work is not as popular as it was in previous decades, his straightforward, succinct arguments proved to be a style I really took a liking to. My first introduction to his work was through the deceptively slim volume Escape from Reason. In this book, large, complex philosophical topics were discussed in shockingly precise, simple terms which honored the full spirit and technical meaning of the ideas. For an author to attempt a feat is rare in small books, especially books attempting to cover that large an historical date range.

Schaeffer really goes after it in some of his titles and it shows. One example, from Escape from Reason, is the use of a prolonged metaphor of nature. Having seen him attempt to capture some extremely big ideas and succeed invited me to try, to a lesser degree, to write about a few of my own topics. For example, returning to my own blog's three themes, faith, rationality, and, the unknown, I would like to touch for a moment on my personal take on one of these works: rationality. The word ratio comes from Latin. It can be seen here,
and it rose in the usage listed below starting in 1630,
1630s, "reason, rationale," from L. ratio "reckoning, calculation, business affair, procedure," also "reason," from rat-, pp. stem of reri "to reckon, calculate," also "think" (see reason). Mathematical sense is attested from 1660.
In reviewing the etymology for ratio more closely, I see a meaningful correlation between the third meaning,
early 13c., "statement in an argument," also "intellectual faculty that adopts actions to ends," from Anglo-Fr. resoun, O.Fr. raison, from L. rationem (nom. ratio) "reckoning, understanding, motive, cause," from ratus, pp. of reri "to reckon, think," from PIE root *re(i)- "to reason, count" (cf. O.E. rædan "to advise; see read). Meaning "sanity" is recorded from, late 14c. Phrase it stands to reason is from 1630s. Age of Reason "the Enlightenment" is first recorded 1794, as the title of Tom Paine's book.
In fact, one, "to reason, count", hits the nail right on the head. Now, before I dig into it too far from the angle of "to reason, count", I want to say that many of the terms apply to me at other times. But, as for this one term it really zeroes in on a key usage of them term as I want to emphasize it.

Going back earlier to philosophy, however, I see a curious phenomenon. For example, Newton's use of ratio was to measure. As I am fond of quoting, "One is not engineering if they are not measuring." "Why is this important?" you might ask. Platonic philosophy has a major root itself in Pythagoreanism. Yes, that Pythagoras. Why the obscure philosophical footnote? When Platonism, and, later, rationalism, sought to universalize truth as a quantifiable substance, this proved to be a major, revolution in philosophy. Why? Because numbers carried with them remnants of the Egyptian priestly caste's mystical roots. Numbers, as it were, possessed, in and of themselves, a sort of transcendental power previously reserved in other faiths for other entities and other entities along. For example, in Judeo-Christian faiths, goodness was a divine attribute of God and God alone. When pythagoreanism sought to overthrow the theistic model of a divine God and a divine order based on that God with a naturalistic model based in the transcendental nature of quantity and numbers.

Now, I recognize that was a lot of heavy conceptual stuff, but, even in today's science, whose roots can be traced back to the pythaogreanism. Let's take an idea we can examine from both a Biblical and pythagoreanism. The majesty of God can be seen in a divine characteristic of nature: the paradoxical unfathomability of who God is. For instance, when Christians look at something like an unfathomable truth, it glorifies God. Because we are limited and recognize the unlimitedess of God, we can conclude God is of an entirely different spiritual order of being. In this sense, nature proves God's greatness because it demonstrates our limitedness. We intuitively recognize, for instance, that God can, with his power, known the depths of an abyss and, in simple terms, demonstrate such knowledge, whereas we humans, when we attempt to conceptualize, or, more rashly, understand and conceive, of such a truth, perhaps imagining lines measured in miles, from one point to the next, and, after some point in time, failing to realized, we as humans simply cannot know this.

In reality, we stand, measuring, reasoning, reckoning, trying to grapple with how great He is and, the truth is, we can't. There are questions of which we can conceive, for instance, how large is your love Lord, and, if He tried to provide some physical analogy, like my love for you is infinite, our human minds cannot get around this. It is this, the fundamental inability of human reason, to grasp the magnitude of God, his ways, his love, his nature and being, that make reason itself a poor human trait upon which to hinge our estimation of God. Another way of putting it is to focus on what reason, as used popularly in human thought, works to do. Reason measures, reason analyzes, and, reason tries to quantify truth. But, there are some things which are not meant to be measured, analyzed or quantified. Love is not a number. Grace is not a thing best understood in bar charts and graphical models.

Reason is, by many a man, held to be the highest human virtue we can possess. Yet, I contend that reason, because it attempts to transform the invisible into something tangible, is an inferior pinnacle. If you have to reduce one thing to something else in order for it to be the best you can have, it cannot be the highest form attainable. The problem is that there are things which cannot be known, which cannot be fathomed, and, which do not yield to man's powers and this belittles us, it reminds us of our place in the universe. Many would rather create this false distinction between the reality, there is more than us which we cannot control or grasp, and, that scares us. And, yet, some accept what is greater than man at face value and live with the more honest stance that our knowledge, power and place in the grand scheme of things is limited.

Sure, this mystical attempt to reduce the universe to a set of characters, as used by language, whether that is ordinary spoken language, or, the more abstruse languages of science and math, is noble. We are attempting to take this universal experience, life in the cosmos, the unknown and the wholly unknowable, and, put it down into codified symbols so we can prove to each other, we really are seeing what we see. Yet, is it necessary that we have proof of life when to demonstrate it we must in fact be alive in the first place? Why do we dread that feared concept, the unreasonable, so much? Death, love, life, all the great mysteries that make being worth experiencing would somehow be lost in the codification of truth known as reasoning. Beyond reason is a place of reality that approximations, ideas, and, understandings with which our minds cannot contend. Pure life, as it is living, is unreasonable, irrational, and, the premise that reason is in fact the greatest measure of man is merely a control mechanism people try to put on each other.

When we fail in our reasonings. When we cannot fully explain, that is, put into words, something, it gives people an opportunity to swoop in and take advantage of our "inferior" intellects. The constant war for meaning and importance rages on, and, knowledge--with our pursuit for the power it promises to give control over others--beckons us forth. We stand, together, ashamed at our powerlessness and utter dark truths, realities and bold declarations of what is, was, and, will be, hoping that our utterance, our mark on the universe, will make us stand out. That it will someone differentiate us as ones more understanding, more in control, more powerful, in the ways that matter. This, I fear, is the dark side of reason: a way for men and women to rank and order each other, even if only in their own minds, so as to create an unnatural form of order, ambivalent of truth and built on artificial grounds.

Counting, ordering, organizing, ranking, and, defining are not supernatural truths, although, at times, supernatural functions of being mandate the mind and reason be used. However, when reason, used as a means to dehumanize people into orders of things, and, to rob life of its raw, visceral power, is seen for what it was meant to be, a way to observe and study life, its original nature does not seem so mechanical and lifeless. In my mind I see reason, as it used today, as a clinical instrument, a tool meant to attempt to grab raw life and put it in a jar for study, reflection and observation. Sadly, this is not what life is. Life is meant to be lived, not analyzed, broken down into particles and reduced to lesser truths. Something is lost in the translation from reality to concept, from truth to idea.

In today's world, it would seem, reason has replaced real inquiry and dialogue with objectification and computation. Although there has been a shift in the highest ranks of physics talk from Newtonian billiard ball mechanics to Einstein's world of endless shape-shifting forms, there has not been a similar movement in other areas of inquiry. In fact, the methods of inquiry used by the sciences hundreds of years ago proved to be so effective people temporarily suspended the theological divide between the domain of God and the domain of creation as if it were all the subject of science. Sadly, many people are erroneously conducting theology, more in the informal arenas of their own personal lives, as scientists than theologians. Holiness, awe and reverence have been substituted for rationality, practicality and pragmatism.

What good, it now seems, is the goodness of God if it cannot be defined? What is love if we cannot map it to a biochemical model of human being? How valid is truth if it cannot withstand the rigors of prepositional logic? The cart has been put before the horse and reason is now the God of man. Whereas truth once prevailed, even with its humbling realism and the inevitable frailty of mankind being made known immediately upon beginning the search for truth, reason presupposes, and, forces with its supposition, the arrogance of man. Results are determined valid only before the inquiry is started and the measure of man is in a way the mirror. What we deem true must meet criteria before we can actually start exploring and that sort of pre-fabricated exploration of reality, where the destination is known from the first step, can never foster real understanding. For, there are truths reason cannot grasp. There are ways man cannot know in this mortal shell. And, there are reasons which divine law prevents us from ever seeing this side of death.

I face death. Reason cannot tell me, no matter how hard I try, what lies on the other side of that great chasm. There are countless myths, poems, symbols, and, allegories indicating this. But, unable to live with our frailty, people have robbed life of its mysterious unreasonableness and chosen to throw away the key to truth. Such a transformation, from thinkers as mystic explorers at one time to android machines in the present, leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Reason I must at times, for making sense is the job of the philosopher. But, as all honest men and women must do, I have to, at certain crossroads, admit, even I, for all my preparedness, all my maps and gear, cannot always see or know what it is I face. Death, being my most recent enemy combatant reason demands that I be honest yet again. I could pretend like I have all the answers and give myself the thin blanket of delusion for the sake of temporary peace of mind. I, rather, chose to live, as God made me, unable to reason myself out of this one. God, help me to find that greater function of which reason is but a shadow and for which truth is the natural language.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Belonging and life without it

Rather than my usual idea-laden post, I will only dip my toes into the deep waters for a second, but, touch the rest of the time on a little "life as it is today". The past two weeks have really been a blur. No, this isn't just the busyness that has come about because of introducing hospice, beginning (again) to work from home full time, and, school starting up. Those things are all grounds enough to keep us on our toes. But, as a part of trying to find that seemingly mystical line between medicated-but-functional and nacroleptic-but-at-my-desk I have really been going back and forth on my medications a lot and it has messed up my sense of time a good bit.

The main medication I use for pain management is something called dilaudid. As I learned recently, it's basically opium. Now, I am not a fan of the opiods because I think, with me, addiction could be a real, potential issue. I was reminded of this the other day. I had been scheduled to get (and been getting delayed from) a transfusion. Monday was labs, and, it was late Wednesday afternoon before all the confusion (or incompentence on one person's part) had been resolved. As I got ready to leave and drive down--it takes about 30 minutes in decent traffic to get to what we call big Baylor downtown from the house--I felt okay. Within 5 minutes of leaving the house one of these fits I had been having where I literally get so tired I canno keep my eyes open kicked in. After stopping to get something to eat I debated on whether to tempt fate and drive in spite of my condition. Thankfully, what two firing brain cells I had still working fired and I called Kerri to see if she could drive me down.

After picking me up we left. I threw up in the car, which I never do, unless I'm sick (very, very rare) or on chemo (which I have been off of for almost 11 months now). Either way, something else was going on. When we got there I started to feel better, but, in general, I felt horrible, couldn't keep my eyes open, was literally falling asleep at the keyboard. Just, nothing good. I was really worried my disease was progressing A LOT faster than everyone thought. And, then it hit me, the sweats, the bouts of fatigue, the out of it sensation.  Ah, the dilaudid. I had been incrementally uping the doses. I was drugging myself to sleep. So, I vowed not to take any more. Voila, the next day, I was an achy dude, but, only got a little tired in the morning...which, with as much drugs as I had been taking, would not have surprised me. I seem to get tiny packets of this stuff stored in fat reserves, and, I'll hit one of these and basically, I'm dosed up again without actually having had taken any medication. Yay, the funs of drugs and daily life.

So, with my main problem identified, I met with a pain management specialist from up here. Time for a little rabbit trail. I consider myself to be a reasonably bright person. Not a genius most of the time but sparkling moments on occasion. And, not an idiot with bouts of stupidity from time to time to make me wonder. But, capable of recognizing smart people. The pain management doctor showed up after much fanfare was made about him. The nurses seem to be like groupies with regards to this guy. They get all excited and call each other to come bask at his presentation. I kind of cracked up watching this dynamic having seen the "brilliance effect" before. Nonetheless, I figured, hey, I can get some help from a good doctor and maybe have a good conversation along the way. I don't get real, deep conversations a lot. Most people either can't or won't engage in them, and, when they come along I cherish those moments.

With that anticipation in mind I went into the conversation with a keen awareness of this one little observation I have made over time: really smart people come in two types: 1) those with whom you can truly interact, and, have real conversations. There is dialogue, interchange of ideas, collaborative thinking, and, imagining. and 2) those for whom you are a part in their reality and they just put on their "show". The show I refer to here is whatever this person is brilliant at. If it is science, you learn science not from interacting with and sharing ideas. You learn from them by just being around them and watching them do their presentation. They don't share. They perform. Now, I recall hearing that 2 years play along side each other not together. They may appear to play together, but, it is not really interaction, but, more just being present in the same space. The whole thing here is that when you meet a smart person, you are either a person or a thing. There rarely seems to be a crossing between these two worlds. And, I have little tolerance for smart people who like to perform. I have more important things to do with my life, especially now, than to watch you do a song and dance.

Well, it took me about 5 minutes to realize this guy had a show to perform. The funny thing was he actually had a part in the show where he stopped and talked about how he was here to learn from me, the patient, and, it was really our show where they were there to learn from him. I had to give it to him. It was a well-done presentation. It even had the trappings of humility, but, it was just a part of the show. At any rate, I tried to actually interact with him and there was no real dialog. I would try to interject, but, the thing is, I had to have the right answer to the question for the show to go on. If I didn't answer correctly, he would answer his own question as needed and move on. Again, I watched the display of human nature in action. It astounds me at times. Honestly, I would rather I were wrong about smart people. I wish they all truly thought of others as others. I just see it all too often. I have to be honest with myself and realize that what I am looking for is a rare combination of traits and I shouldn't expect to see it that often. And, as I said earlier, I am very thankful for those relationships where I can find someone to share ideas with.

The last notable thing has to with my general sense of what's going on. As has been the case for some time now, no one really knows how long I have. In a sense, I am like everyone else in the world. I am dying. But, then, so aren't we all? My challenge is living with disease. Knowing I do not have "unlimited" time and energy I live with the awareness that I am neither blissfully unaware of this mortality that plagues us all nor am I am the cyclops clearly able to see my day of death approaching. It is as if this dark shadow has been released into my life. I look at all things with a slightly dimmed perspective. This morning, while lying in bed, I realized, had I not been sick, I'd probably have been up at 5:30 running some 90-120 minute workout getting ready for a fall racing series. Without thinking much about it I could loosely envision what part of my training season I would be in. How I would have felt from my workout. What sort of times I would have run. How the weather would have felt on my skin. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera. And, in reality, I lied in bed.

Is it this stark contrast of the alternate, imagined reality I live in my head--a world in which I had no cancer and life had continued on its merry way--I have this reality, the one I inhabit. With those opaque orange bottles and white tops. Sweat from drugs. Huge holes in my days and weeks spent talking to people I have no desire to see or know. The inability to play with my kids. The slow letting go of hopes and dreams. The constant restraint I have to exert in life when it comes to my willingness to join things I would enjoy, but, know, in the back of my head, I could never have the energy to truly partake in. This so called life I inhabit is one I do not know how to call home or in which I belong. In my alternate reality, I finally felt a sense of belonging. I had come to peace with who I was, what I did and life in general. Now, I neither belong among the living, for theirs is a limitless world, nor the truly dying, for theirs is but a singularity, focused entirely on an end. No, I am a man of limited means. One who belongs neither here nor there. And, in this place, I know not who I am or how to belong.

What is it in us that seeks belonging? Why do we need to feel at home? I know Jesus tells us we live in the world but are not of it. This, however, speaks to a different point than the one I struggle with at the moment. I see life very confused and am lost in my response to life. I have vowed to not let death or dying stop me from living. In the process of discovering what the means, however, I keep coming to dilemmas, paradoxes, crossroads, and, questions. Some of these are unanswerable. Some can only be answered by God, either on this side of the dissolution of being and others on that side when we are with Him in fullness. Either way, the regularly scheduled visits of uncertainty, confusion, and, puzzlement is not like one from normal life, perhaps something you may encounter in intellectual puzzle or everyday life. These carry with them a different weight and swagger. It is this weird authority, this weird stance such questions take I do not know how to contend with yet. In seeking answers, that is, resolution, familiarity, and, the secret handshakes of understanding that come with having warred in an amicable way, there is an end to be met. In my world, ends seems unfinable and that, I believe, is the root of my unbelonging. When in a strangeland no one tells you the rules and you must invent your own, how would you define belonging? Or, would you even try?

There is that temptation to push back to the world of the known, the familiar. In being bound by disease, that never goes far. And, a darker temptation, one I am not drawn to, to go down the darker roads, the ones that end with no more life, sits at the other edge of the crossroads. So, you grow weary standing in a place. The light is seemingly half lit. You have no candles, flashlights, visitors with torches or anything to change the landscape into something more known and familiar. You bump into things with eyes dimly lit and focus weak and never truly adjusting. This is the life of being between worlds. No angels of light have come for you to whisk you  away to a greater place and the landscape around you, with all its unknowns, unfamiliarities and hiddenness, never warms enough to give you that comforting sense, the peace of mind and satisfaction with knowing the lay of the land you knew before. Instead, you must live, every moment of every day, in the shadows, accepting if you are to find any peace at all, this place may not be one of belonging and you will never feel at home. For we are light and life and darkness is not a place for us, not a place for me. Lord, help me know what to do with this so called need to belong where I am. In this place you have me, I do not see the compromise or the mixture of temporary solutions I can fit for myself to rename my so-called life as one which has a sense of purpose and place. Indeed, perhaps it is you who makes me feel I do not belong, and, rightfully so. With that, Lord, I need your help.