Joe's Fourth Epistle
Today's update brought to you by Tullian Tchividijan's book Do I Know God?
November 24, 2014
A few years ago, I took my family on a work trip to Gulfport, Mississippi. [I was] working for my friends at Hartson-Kennedy and, specifically, my very good friend Edmund and his team. I absolutely love the South and became quite fond of the Biloxi-Gulfport area. The people are delightful, and the seafood is amazing (Mary Mahoney’s, Half Shells, Cap’n Al’s, Shoo Fly Inn, Back Bay, Beau Rivage, Aunt Jenny’s, with my friend Glenn, and last, but not least, Saki, with Bruce and my dear departed friend Doug).
While there, we stayed in a beautiful condo across from the beach and were able to take in a few of the sights over the weekend. On the way to work, I would pass over the Tchoutacabouffa River. I never learned how to pronounce [the name] despite my several attempts with Edmund. I even have it recorded on my iPhone. As many of you know, I like to have fun and make challenging games. True to form, with the family in tow, I told them that we would soon be approaching a river and there would be a sign of its spelling. If anyone of them could pronounce it correctly, I would present them with $100. But they only got one shot. Oh my! Allie, who is now 18, was so close they said I lost all color from my face. Do you know how to pronounce it?
Today is Day Four, post first-chemo treatment. For the next 25 Wednesdays, I will be going through chemo. I am praising God that the side effects have been minimal so far. But more than that, I am praising God because He has given me a vision and purpose to use my cancer and redeem my time.
These past three weeks, I have gone from deep anguish, where my fervent prayer has been, “Lord, take me home now,” to “Lord, use me up for Your Glory until it pleases You to take me home.” Specifically, I am praying for the miracle that He spare me of all the typical side effects of chemo so that He can accomplish these things through me. (Certainly, I see the selfish side of this petition and I am praying that this is not my feeble attempt to negotiate my selfish desires with God).
Here is the vision and purpose He has given me:
First, to become the spiritual leader in my home to my wife and children that I have neglected for, oh, so long, making Him the center of our home every day. Second, to share my testimony of my great hope in the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ to my extended family, friends, church body and all those to whom He has put in my path every day possible. Last, for the strength, energy and clarity of mind to accomplish these purposes.
I think of Paul, when he said in Philippians 1:21, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”. While I don’t fully understand this, God is revealing more of His truths to me each day. This miracle of clarity of Scripture and a deeper understanding of the attributes of God is a direct result of my current condition and, as I again told my family, I thank God every day for this lousy bone marrow cancer!
So, my praying friends, please join me in my fervent prayer to accomplish what He has given me until He takes me home.
My mind is random today, so I am sure my writing is, as well. So back to the top. Many of you have asked and offered to let you know if there is anything you could do to help me and my family. And as I have reported to you, the Church and God’s people have come to our aid on so many occasions and we are left not needing. Thank you, dear friends!
But today, I am excited, as I have discovered there is something that you could do for me. I would like to invite you into a discussion centered on a book that I am going to read. Reading for some reason is very difficult for me these days and I am only able to read in short spurts. My plan is to read a chapter a week and then engage in conversations around that chapter for another week. So, a chapter, 12-18 pages every two weeks with discussion. Eleven chapters. The way I figure, that will get me to the end of my chemo treatments and will give me many hours of rich conversations with my friends and family while I am battling this cancer with sleepless nights and 20-plus hours flat on my back. One of the most amazing things I have discovered during this cancer is that I detest TV. I am only able to tolerate an hour a day and that is only if I’m watching with my whole family and a show like Dick Van Dyke or Carol Brunette. The shows I used to love and could watch endlessly nauseate me. As a result, I have what seems to be an endless number of hours to fill each day. And what better way to spend then with you!
The way I see this working is for me to present some questions, thoughts, ideas to you out of the book and if you are moved to engage then you can do so individually via email. Talking is still a problem for me, so email and texts are it. I have always been a man of action with set goals and a purpose. This will help me immensely as I seek to redeem the time I have left. Certainly, I understand busy schedules and life getting in the way and you have much grace to not engage me in this invitation. For those who choose, well then, let’s get started!
The book is Do I Know God by Tullian Tchividijan. Tullian is the grandson of Billy Graham.
1. You need to buy a copy. I bought one from Amazon for $6.
2. Email me that you are in! [Leave a “Comment” that includes your email address, and I, Sharon Kirk Clifton, will call it to Joe’s attention.]
3. Read the first chapter.
4. We will engage in conversation.
5. Consider inviting others to read with us. Wouldn’t it be fun to have hundreds of people involved? Although the reality is that I will be pleased with just one that is faithful.
If you have already read it, read it again with me! I appreciate authenticity, vulnerability, transparency, and sincerity. What I don’t value is insincerity and doing this with me out of guilt, pity, or duty. If you commit, then please see it through with me. I would rather you not start than to start and then stop.
You may think that you don’t need to read this. You may think you already have this question answered. You may think I have a hidden agenda. You may think--? Here’s the deal: it doesn’t really matter. I am inviting you to go down a journey with me to help you discover the TRUE answer to “Do I Know God?” And in the process of discovering that answer, you will be filling one of the purposes God has given me. How’s that for laying it on you?
Trusting In Christ Alone,