Last Minutes with Oden

Posted by tom | Nov 4, 2011

A friend in an on-line discussion group brought "Last Minutes with Oden," (6:15), to my attention. Moving. Thank-you Vern!

The music, the story, the theme of journey . . . released a surprising set of tears.

Eliot Rausch has a number of fascinating pieces. I appreciate the imagery in Sermon on the Mound, . . . what a call, A unique voice of the Kingdom of God in film. As you know, I've been digging into the Amy Purdy story. More on that coming.

This Is Gonna Hurt Documentary and Amy Purdy's Story

Posted by tom | Oct 31, 2011

I came across Episode IV of This Is Gonna Hurt Documentary by Nikki Sixx and Sixx:A.M.,, while exploring Amy Purdy's story. If you're not familiar with how This Is Gonna Hurt Documentary comes at the questions of "What is Beauty?" and "What is a Freak?", then be prepared for a Halloween shock (Warning: If Mötley Crüe's not for you, then you may have to take a pass on the video and go straight to the questions).

How do you understand beauty? How do you relate to those whom are considered "freaks" by those around you, by the larger culture/world? Would you offer a different lens to embracing outsiders and their uniqueness? Stay tuned: more on Amy Purdy and embracing "the outsider" in future posts. . . .

What is our destiny? Asking only for God's grace.

Posted by tom | May 10, 2011

Yes, the songs of Rich Mullins continue to provide healing and prophetic challenge in our house. Be With You is included in the "here in america" CD and I spent some time dwelling in it this morning as I prepared for a day in ministry at PSU-Hershey Medical Center, completing my final paper for "Spiritual Formation in Ministry," and my last "Spiritual Formation in Ministry" class. Below's his Lightmusic performance (May 20, 1987),, and confession of how the song came to completion. A "We're not as strong as we think we are" reminder :-)

On the CD he provides a response to those which critique the song as morose by sharing the joy of death (i.e., being with God), the beauty of creation, working of the land, the burning up the beautiful creation/nations during the judgement. Join me today in asking for God's grace, for the breath of Life to fill homes, neighborhood, campuses, culture, nations, creation ... for the pieces of that what is good, true, pure, noble to be picked up and be at the heart of a new creation which is already in motion ... Lord may your people be the salt, light, and leaven you have called them to be. ... Let every creature sing "Hallelujah!" To the PSU-Hershey Medical Center I go filled with joy, peace, and thanksgiving.

Tomorrow Eden's returns to campus to have her cast removed. "Hallelujah!"

So That God's Works Might Be Revealed in Him

Posted by tom | Mar 12, 2011

As [Jesus] walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:1-2)

If you have chronic illness or a disability of any sort, you have probably had people ask you questions like this one that the disciples asked Jesus. For some perverse reason, outsiders want to blame us for our maladies. It is horrible theology — that our diseases and handicaps are direct punishment for our sin or someone else's.

I am forever grateful that Jesus firmly rejected this erroneous theory when he answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him" (John 9:3). The proper question is not "Who is to blame?" but "What good might God reveal through this affliction?" — and the answer to that question might not even be known in this life. It is a mystery that we will only fully understand at the end of time.

But in the meanwhile, we can be well intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually because we trust the words of Jesus that through whatever illnesses or impairments we might suffer "God's works" will be revealed in us. God's work might be to take us home to be with Himself, but what better work could we imagine? Or the LORD's work might be to reveal his sustaining grace throughout our afflictions. No doubt God has some surprises in store for us as to how the Trinity might act in partnership with us to accomplish divine purposes. The endless possibilities enable us to be well in trust and hope.

—Marva Dawn, BEING WELL WHEN WE'RE ILL: WHOLENESS AND HOPE IN SPITE OF INFIRMITY. Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 2008, p. 67. ISBN 978-0-8066-8038-5. Highly recommended.

Thank-you to Chip Stam, Director, Institute for Christian Worship, School of Church Ministries, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, for drawing posting this quote at Praying for God's blessing and healing upon Chip as he wrestles with cancer and various resultant health complications.

A meditation on the life and death of a friend who called upon others to care.

Posted by tom | Oct 26, 2010

I came across He puts the lonely in families by Neil E. Das in Catapult Magazine. Below's the concluding paragraph. Thinking about it as I prepare to visit PSU-Hershey Christian Medical Society.

I will not pretend that that afternoon was not difficult at times, both because of missing Anil, but also because of a muted struggle (which arose more strongly upon reflection later) to suppress a resentment of sorts that his own family did not take care of him as well as they might.  I longed for their connection to him not to ease our own burden, but because they missed out on him and he them. And, yet, as people filed up one at a time to say a word about Anil, it fleshed out what it means when David says in Psalm 68 that God puts the lonely in families. I cannot see how else that happens except in such mundane, difficult, rewarding ways when, as single or married folk, we crack open our lives and homes and be family to one another.


Explaining Death the Children & Anyone

Posted by tom | Oct 19, 2010

Thank-you to Miller who passed along this story from Peter Marshall, the great Scottish preacher:

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, Peter Marshall preached to the regiment of midshipmen in the Naval Academy at Annapolis. A strange feeling which he couldn’t shake off led him to change his announced topic to an entirely different homiletical theme based on James 4:14: For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away. In the chapel before him was the December graduating class, young men who in a few days would receive their commissions and go on active duty. In that sermon titled Go Down Death, Peter Marshall used this illustration.

In a home of which I know, a little boy—the only son—was ill with an incurable disease. Month after month the mother had tenderly nursed him, read to him, and played with him, hoping to keep him from realizing the dreadful finality of the doctor’s diagnosis. But as the weeks went on and he grew no better, the little fellow gradually began to understand that he would never be like the other boys he saw playing outside his window and, small as he was, he began to understand the meaning of the term death, and he, too, knew that he was to die.

One day his mother had been reading to him the stirring tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table: of Lancelot and Guinevere and Elaine, the lily maid of Astolat, and of that last glorious battle in which so many fair knights met their death.

As she closed the book, the boy sat silent for an instant as though deeply stirred with the trumpet call of the old English tale, and then asked the question that had been weighing on his childish heart: “Mother, what is it like to die? Mother, does it hurt?” Quick tears sprang to her eyes and she fled to the kitchen supposedly to tend to something on the stove. She knew it was a question with deep significance. She knew it must be answered satisfactorily. So she leaned for an instant against the kitchen cabinet, her knuckles pressed white against the smooth surface, and breathed a hurried prayer that the Lord would keep her from breaking down before the boy and would tell her how to answer him.

And the Lord did tell her. Immediately she knew how to explain it to him.

“Kenneth,” she said as she returned to the next room, “you remember when you were a tiny boy how you used to play so hard all day that when night came you would be too tired even to undress, and you would tumble into mother’s bed and fall asleep? That was not your bed…it was not where you belonged. And you stayed there only a little while. In the morning, much to your surprise, you would wake up and find yourself in your own bed in your own room. You were there because someone had loved you and taken care of you. Your father had come—with big strong arms—and carried you away. Kenneth, death is just like that. We just wake up some morning to find ourselves in the other room—our own room where we belong—because the Lord Jesus loved us.”

The lad’s shining, trusting face looking up into hers told her that the point had gone home and that there would be no more fear … only love and trust in his little heart as he went to meet the Father in Heaven.

After Peter Marshall had finished the service at Annapolis and as he and his wife Catherine were driving back to Washington that afternoon, suddenly the program on the car radio was interrupted. The announcer’s voice was grave: “Ladies and Gentlemen. Stand by for an important announcement. This morning the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor was bombed…..”

Within a month many of the boys to whom Peter Marshall had just preached would go down to hero’s graves in strange waters. Soon all of them would be exposed to the risks and dangers of war, and Peter Marshall, under God’s direction, that very morning had offered them the defining metaphor about the reality of eternal life.

—Catherine Marshall, A Man Called Peter, pp. 230-231, 272-273

A "Duty to Die"?

Posted by tom | May 31, 2010

Thank-you to Miller for passing along A "Duty to Die"? (Thomas A. Sowell, Real Clear Politics, 5/11/2010,  Below's the conclusion:

Much of what is taught in our schools and colleges today seeks to break down traditional values, and replace them with more fancy and fashionable notions, of which "a duty to die" is just one.

These efforts at changing values used to be called "values clarification," though the name has had to be changed repeatedly over the years, as more and more parents caught on to what was going on and objected. The values that supposedly needed "clarification" had been clear enough to last for generations and nobody asked the schools and colleges for this "clarification."

Nor are we better people because of it.

The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to ComeQuick comment:  Just received a copy of The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come (Rob Moll, InterVarsity Press, 2010), below's an excerpt.  I desire to explore this topic further in a number of contexts, including our local congregation and our work with budding health care professionals at PSU-Hershey Medical Center. If you have insights/resources to share, please let me know. 

The spiritual preparation necessary for a good, faithful death accumulates slowly over a lifetime. A good death does not occur in a vacuum. Also necessary are a supportive family and caring spiritual community alongside a medical community able to provide quality care consistent with the goals of a patient. . . . Developing a community united about the values we should bring to the deathbed . . . grows slowly as we hear sermons and share stories, as we care for one another and think alone of the fact that one day we too will die. --

David Bailey steps up to the mic

Posted by tom | Jan 10, 2009

Last night David Bailey returned to the stage in Buford, GA.  Below's the mass email update which I received. Please join me in prayer for his healing and strength for continued testimony to living One More Day to the glory of God.  For David's website, visit here


40 days of Modern Psalms & Ancient Hope

Posted by tom | Jan 6, 2009

Check this out.  I received the below email from my subscription to  Great to watch a godly, passionate musician in process!

So I changed my strings and finally started to do a little picking.... grabbed the stack of new lyrics Code-named "40 days of Modern Psalms & Ancient Hope."  Day 10 floated to the top and here it is - raw and unpolished.


In case you missed David's story, visit the earlier post Cancer has returned to David Bailey.

Cancer has returned to David Bailey

Posted by tom | Jan 5, 2009

The Rice family shared with me at Following Christ that cancer has returned to David Bailey, visit Music and Lyrics at david m. bailey: Home. I've found David's material a great encouragement not only during our family's walk with my cancer, but also through the various dark valleys our family has faced with Eden, Elise, and in the fall out of my cancer treatment (where my levels of energy and focus have varied and I've come to see myself only sustained by the grace of God the Father through His various means).*  Please join me in taking a few minutes to meditate upon some of David's 2008 Survival Lyrics and uplift him in your prayers.


Cancer, death, transition, suffering in this world

Posted by tom | Jun 24, 2006
In the coming months, we're going to take some time to look back on the experience of cancer and how it, alongside the death of baby Elise Faith, taught us to live day-by-day in Christ, dependent upon His Presence/Grace, His People, and His Word. An area of particular concern is delving into how our walk with God demands that we relate to the real world, intersect w/the suffering elements of the fallen creation. If you have thoughts on this topic, please submit so they're part of conversation.