Blog of Recent Thoughts, Experiences, and Updates

2017 

Feb 8 (Wed):  God's miraculous healing seems to be making some noticable progress, thanks to everyone's earnest, faith-filled prayers. My bladder is back under control, my mucus/phlegm levels are becoming manageable, and I was able to take a much needed shower yesterday without help. I praise Jesus, our Lord and Healer, for His great mercy and steadfast love.        

Feb 6 (Mon):  This past week has been extremely tough:  severely swollen foot and legs, loss of bladder control, increased difficulty breathing and sleeping, inability to take a shower or dress myself, and lots of serious prayer until 2 to 4 a.m.  It has been so severe that I said my goodbyes to my wife in case I died in my sleep, taught her what to do with my corpse, and prepared to write a goodbye blog message several times.  But in spite of all this (including some earnest prayer to God to allow me to die quickly and painlessly), the Holy Spirit living within me keeps telling me to be patient a little bit longer because God still has a few more things that He wants to accomplish through this trial before it ends.  

Then from yesterday, my body started keeping comfortably warm as if my blood has started to circulate better.  And from today, my oxygen concentration levels and heart beats per minute began to significantly improve as if my severe blog clots are starting to disappear.  Sakurako and I --- now closer to God and closer to each other than ever before --- look forward to seeing how this week unfolds, in great hope for more miraculous health improvements.  

 

Jan 30 (Mon):   I have been feeling deeply loved by God and by His godly servants who are praying for me.  My physical condition borders on death every day, and minor improvements in some areas continue to parallel weakening conditions in others.  My spirit remains hopeful, but my physical health is currently very fragile.  My iPhone Bible app today gave me the following verse, however:  "...whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."  (Mark 11:24)  I am confidently taking God at His word and waiting patiently for healing to come, in His perfect way according to His perfect timing.  

Since I had a tiny burst of energy this evening, I updated the Greetings, Home, and Contact pages since there are many new visitors to this site who don't know me and may need some more information.  

 

Jan 27 (Fri):  Yesterday, Satan launched a major attack on me by destroying my interest in living.  Somehow, he destroyed all of my interest in eating, sleeping, and breathing, as well as in people, work, and God. The only ideas that crossed my mind were thoughts of suicide.  The Holy Spirit within me, however, kept me spiritually alert during this attack, enough to know that it was from Satan and so had me ask Sakurako to pray for me, which she did with great earnestness and tears.  Shortly thereafter, I became hungry for some of the organic mochi, dried tomatoes, and dried persimmons that a friend of ours had sent us from Japan just two days before, and after an unusually good night's sleep, I felt totally free of the oppressive force that had tried to destroy me the day before.  What is even more remarkable is that I woke up this morning with perceptibly better breathing ability, as if my lungs are actually starting to heal.  Also, when I opened a Bible app on my iPhone this morning, today's verse was the following:  But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)  This cancer adventure is turning out to be quite an unusual training experience for me and my family.  I wonder what's coming next.  

 

Jan 25 (Wed):  Since I can no longer drive, I ordered a barber's razor from Amazon.com and gave myself a haircut today with Sakurako's help. I cut everything down to 1/4 inch in length, but it looks and feels good. Sakurako says I look like a priest.  

 

Jan 24 (Tue):  I am still alive and SLOWLY improving.  I revised my home page and will slowly add more improvements to this site as God gives me strength and inspiration.  He is showering me with so many valuable observations, perspectives, and understandings that it would be a great waste not to share them with others who could benefit from them.

 

Jan 16 (Mon):  Sunday, God enabled me to miraculously lead our church's small group (in my pajamas, unshaven and unbathed, with my nose fully connected to my oxygen tubes) and be able to talk, discuss, and pray for nearly two hours, when in the previous weeks I could talk for only two minutes until I broke into a violent coughing fit that rendered it impossible to communicate any further. In fact, that is why I stopped answering phone calls and welcoming guests after my hospitalization Dec 24-25, since two-minute conversations tend to be rather unproductive, and rude on my part, when I have to hang up on someone or point them to the door once I begin coughing. 

One excellent benefit from my current situation is that all I have energy for during the day is to sit in my recliner, read the Bible, and pray, which is turning out to be a very rich and precious experience that God has surely designed to prepare me for the next phase of my mission in life after I recover.  I find the English Standard Version (ESV) to be an especially good English translation, since it presents God's Word clearly and accurately, without having to paraphrase anything to make it more reader friendly for non-linguists. I am discovering so many truths that I have not been taught or simply overlooked when reading the Bible previously in a weaker spiritual mode.  It is amazing how the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of God's children when they are ready to believe and obey whatever God shows them. 

 

Jan 12 (Thu):  My body is now a skeleton, thinly clothed in skin; my lungs are covered with cancer and blood clots, which render them barely workable; and my energy level is so weak that I can hardly move from one side of the apartment to another without pushing the blood concentration in my oxygen to dangerously low levels. And although all of my doctors, nurses, and medical friends are ready to initiate my hospice care at any time, God continues to encourage me daily (and nightly when I cannot sleep) that I will miraculously recover. For like Abraham and Sarah, whose bodies were far beyond the age and condition to bare a child, they did not waver in unbelief, but rather trusted what God had told them.

 

In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told... He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also.  Romans 4:18-24 

Faith is not hope in our own abilities, strategies, or goodness.  It is not hope in getting whatever we want.  Faith is trust in God.  It is complete confidence that what He says about Himself, His purposes, and His promises are true, no matter how appearances may suggest otherwise.  Like all of the godly people in the Bible, we must "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7), and this is what I will do.

 

Jan 10 (Tue):  I am still struggling with not being able to sleep or breathe well, and not having enough energy to move my body without severely taxing my oxygen levels, but I still remain hopeful that all of these challenging trials are only temporary since God continues to confirm this from His Word, shower me with the prayers of many godly people, and has placed me in a small apartment with 15 minutes of Trader Joe's, two Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Fresh Thyme, an upscale Kroger, a large Meijer, a natural pharmacy, and a gigantic Market District supermarket -- all of which are stocked with plenty of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, tofu, vegan cheeses, and other products that are ideal for killing off my cancer, according to the scientific literature, which I study daily via nutritionfacts.org. Especially good for healing cancer are the following:  organic cranberries and other berries, lemons, broccoli, kale, spinach and other greens, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, fenugreek, green tea, and hibiscus tea.  And foods that are especially dangerous for me are sugars (white, brown, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, apple juice, fake sugars, etc.), meat, fish, eggs, and all dairy products.

I praise God that my doctors continue to tell me that all of the expensive cancer medications and treatments do not work very well with my rare form of cancer, so clearly God plans to heal me via healthy food and prayer, which is much cheaper and far more effective.   

 

Jan 5 (Thu):  Yesterday, I reached the end of my capacity for endurance after waking up from a terrible night's sleep with my lungs filled with phlegm and lots of pain when I tried to cough it out. I thought that if I am not going to get any better, then it would be good to die soon rather than prolong this kind of suffering.  

Then God rescued me with a warm hug from my wife and lots of bright sunshine shining in on my living room reading chair, just in time for my morning devotions. As usual, God encouraged me powerfully from His Word, and then in the afternoon, gave me some new insights about healthy foods that work especially well for killing off lung cancer that medications and medical therapies are unable to do. Since I also did not have any energy for anything but to sit in my chair, God gave me some new spiritual insights for my future return to consulting, too. 

Today (Jan 5), God has continued to shower me with wisdom and loving promises from His Word and to fill me with hope of complete, miraculous recovery because that is what He seems to have planned long ago before any of my challenges ever started.   

To focus my tiny energy levels on recovery, however, I will continue to not respond to email and FB messages, not answer my phone, and not welcome any visitors to my house for at least two more weeks. I really need to hibernate for a bit so that I will have more energy to reengage with people more fully and properly at a later time.  Thank you for your patience and understand, my friends!

Jan 3 (Tue):  After spending a quiet afternoon with my family on Jan 1 and an even quieter day of rest on Jan 2, I am feeling a little more mentally energetic today.  Consequently, I spent some quality time in the Bible with God, did a little work on the computer, and then walked around the sofa a couple of times to start rebuilding my physical strength. For someone like me who used to run track, jog for exercise, and take long walks up until my foot amputation in Oct 2014, it is hard for me to grasp the reality that one slow walk around the sofa, dragging my oxygen cord behind me, could possible wear me out so much. But I am determined to rebuild my health for the next important phase of my life, so I will continue my tiny workouts until things significantly improve. There are far too many people praying for me, believing in my recovery, and begging me to fully recover, so it would be foolish to let myself get lazy and disappoint all of these precious friends and family members by staying in bed all day, waiting for angels to take me to Heaven.

2016

 

Dec 31 (Sat) 2016:  A few days before my hospital visit, I started to develop a tiny bit of belly fat, which I had not had for many months. This was particularly strange since I had not increased my calorie intake. Then at the hospital it all became clear. My new twice-a-day stomach shots require insertion into some belly fat. Wow! God created some much needed fat at just the right time. God is sooooo good!

My wife and I are overjoyed today that I have miraculously survived all of 2016, and we feel strangely confident that even more amazing things will happen in 2017. We look forward with great anticipation to what our 2017 year of adventure will be. 

 

Dec 30 (Fri) 2016:  God continues to be amazing. Although I was feeling so tired and miserable on Tuesday and Wednesday that my desire to continue living was starting wane, my energy level made some miraculous improvement for my Thursday afternoon hospital appointments. Not only did my health begin to improve without any additional medical intervention, but the new doctor I was assigned to at the hospital clinic is a Christian believer who attends the same church that we do and happens to be in the same small group Bible study and fellowship with our daughter, Christine. She understands my health situation well and will be able to partner easily with my holistic healthcare professional (Nurse Practitioner) who is also a Christian and also attends our church.  

God also took care of our financial concerns about the two expensive shots that I need to take everyday by somehow arranging a special provision for us, which will end up costing us only $50 a month for 60 shots of the best medicine on the market rather than the $4,000-$60,000 range of options we had been quoted earlier.  Wow!  I'm so glad that I did not have the energy or knowhow to try to negotiate a good deal, since God already had a MUCH better plan in mind that did not require any linguistic intervention.  

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:6).

 

Dec 26 (Mon) 2016:  I could not sleep at all from Thursday night to Saturday morning, due to severe breathing difficulties, too much phlegm in the lungs, and the inability to lay down without severe coughing and choking. Consequently, I called 911 very early on Saturday and spent Dec 24th and most of Dec 25th the hospital.  Their CT-scan showed that both of my lungs are now so full of cancer and blood clots that I need to remain hooked up to an oxygen machine 24/7 to stay alive and take 2 stomach shots a day to dissolve the clots and prevent future clots.  They also found a dangerous blood clot in my aorta (i.e., the main artery of the body, supplying oxygenated blood to the circulatory system).  Some amazing news, however, is that there is no evidence of any cancer or damage in my brain, even though there were some symptoms earlier that my cancer had metastasized there, such as temporary paralysis of my right arm and the right side of my face, headaches, dizziness, blurry vision, etc.  If there had been any cancer or damage there earlier, most likely it had been removed in response to some amazing prayer by some of my amazing friends. 

 

God remains very good. I was able to get a very good night's sleep Saturday night and have some excellent conversations about faith and hope with my three doctors (a Muslim, a Hindu, and probably a Catholic) and several others. Also, when I tried to open my Bible to Isaiah 9 on Christmas morning, my hands surprisingly opened the Bible to Psalm 34, where God comforted me with instructions and expectations for the next phase of my life. I was especially happy to see the following: "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles" (Psalm 34:6). Since my shots cost roughly $1000 each (i.e., $2000 per day for the rest of my life), which my insurance will likely not cover and our lack of income and limited savings will make this expense impossible to continue, we rejoice in this new opportunity to watch God work in miraculous ways to meet all of our needs, as He has always done in the past.  Our God is an amazingly God! This is turning out to be a very interesting and beautiful adventure, regardless of the physical suffering that is required to enjoy all of the very precious benefits.  

I will do my best to keep everyone updated here (from time to time when I have the energy), but I will continue to cease responding to FB messages, LinkedIn messages, emails, and telephone calls, since there are far too many for me to respond to warmly and properly -- AND I'm trusting God that my current challenges will merely be temporary, even though my doctors think they will end very differently for me within a few weeks or months. 

 

Dec 22 (Thu) 2016:  Today, I felt a little more energy than usual, so I took a shower, put on some clothes, walked downstairs from our 3rd floor apartment to the parking lot, and then drove Sakurako and me to Ted's Montana Grill for a late 3:00 PM lunch. This used up 100% of my energy, but a warm welcome by the staff (who know us well) and a healthy meal of trout and vegetables restored my energy again in no time.  On the way home, we then bought some gift cards at a nearby shop to start (and complete) our Christmas shopping, drove through a carwash to wash the salt off the car, and then returned home to battle the climb up to our apartment again.  Again, this used up all of my energy, but I can take two days off to sit or sleep to recover some health in time for Christmas.  

 

Dec 20 (Tue) 2016:  My left lung partially collapsed last night (as the right one did a week or so ago), and thus there is a lot of pain, breathing difficulty, and lack of energy.  When I opened the Bible this morning, however, it opened to Romans 5:3-5  "...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."  These words were sweet to my ears because they continue to show God's love and diligence in training me for the next phase of my life mission.

In the meantime, I think I will take a little rest from answering the phone, messages, and emails, as well as from receiving guests so that I can focus on recuperation.  

 

Dec 19 (Mon) 2016:  My late Stage IV lung cancer symptoms seem to have reached their worst and are now miraculously (yet very slowly) reversing themselves toward healing, as so many people around the world have been praying.  We look forward to seeing how this latest adventure turns out.  Perhaps in a month or two, I will be able to walk more than a few feet or lift my coffee cup without feeling totally exhausted by these (and other) simple activities.

Dec 16 (Fri) 2016:  I have had a lot of time to think deeply about terminal illness, and it seems to me that the most typical human response to a serious diagnosis is first surprise, then shock, then fear, then anxiety, then depression, and then self-pity, followed by lots of time, energy and money invested in trying to fix the problem rather than trying to learn what God desires to teach us through it. I have pieced this together, not only from what I have observed but also from what various doctor and pastor friends tell me they have observed.

 

There is a very different response to serious diagnoses, however, by people who know the God of the Bible and have been indwelt by His Spirit when they first decided to believe. This I have not only observed, but I have also experienced.  Since God promises that ALL things will work together for our good (Romans 8:28) and instructs us to count it ALL joy whenever we face trials of various kinds (James 1:2-4) and to rejoice ALWAYS (1 Thessalonians 5:16), the most logical and natural response from our new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) is to be continually filled with joy and excitement because God is taking us on a precious adventure that has been orchestrated for our best interests -- an adventure that deepens our intimacy with Him, strengthens our faith, and equips us for success in the next (and perhaps final) phase of our life mission. Of course, there is room for a little grieving if someone genuinely feels it (1 Peter 1:3-9), but for those who are able to see the grander scheme of things, there is only joy and excitement as we watch God work miraculously and beautifully in all of our circumstances in order to bless us.

One thing that used to puzzle me was why I didn't feel any of the human emotions that seem so normal for most terminal cancer patients.  But then God began to show me that these feelings were simply foreign to my new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) and that much of my old nature had indeed died as God said it would after I began to follow Him.

My prayer is that more people would come to know the Biblical God, who is sovereign over all that happens in His creation, and connect with Him deeply so that all of their past, present, and future circumstances will work together for their blessing rather than for their disadvantage. Life is too short to waste on trying to live independently from the God who loves and cares for us more than we can ever love and care for ourselves. 

 

Dec 15 (Thu) 2016:   Today, I Skyped in the morning for a few minutes with a friend in Japan, fellowshipped with guests for an hour at our home in the afternoon, and then did a little essential shopping with my wife after that.  This used up all of my energy today, so I will go to bed early tonight after reading a few pages in the Bible, my favorite book.  Feeding my heart and mind with good spiritual nutrition is just as important as feeding my body with healthy foods and supplements.  

 

Dec 14 (Wed) 2016:  We visited Alta Skelton (our nurse practitioner) this morning, who checked my body to see how it has been responding to my recent health adventures, which seem to be common to Stage 4 lung cancer patients:  a mini-stroke that paralyzed the right side of my face and right arm, and a collapsed lung that gave me intense pain and great difficulty breathing.  To her surprise, my recovery from both of these seem amazing, to which she, my wife, and I responded in joint praise to God for His gracious answer to the emergency prayers of our prayer warriors. Thank you, dear friends! Faith-filled prayer to our Creator works miracles!!!  

 

We also made tentative plans for hospice care (in case that should become necessary in the future), got additional instructions on new foods to add to my diet (amino acid powder and aronia berry juice from Whole Foods), AND were told that I can now begin to eat organic chicken and turkey to help rebuild my severe muscle loss, if the meat is certified organic vegetarian fed, with no antibiotics, preservatives, or added hormones (something that can be purchased at Earth Fare near our apartment). 

 

MEAT! What a treat after 14 months of only nuts, beans, tofu, and powdered vegan protein. I'm still waiting for our NP to prescribe a deluxe mega-meat pizza, a box of donuts, and all of the Cheesecake Factory desserts I can eat, but I may have to wait a bit longer for that.

Dec 13 (Tue) 2016:  After my family and some of their friends mobilized themselves to pray for the healing of my collapsed lung last night, it miraculously began to heal, and by late afternoon today, it seems to be 90% better. I can breathe better and the pain is nearly gone. Amazing!  Since maturing our faith in God and His teachings is one of God's top priorities for His people, it makes perfect sense for God to continually bless me and my family with opportunities to grow our faith.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Matthew 9:22

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. (Matthew 21:22)

My prayer for all of my Christian brothers and sisters around the world is that everyone who is suffering painfully from severe health and other challenges will discover the good that God has ordained via our trials so that all of us firmly grasp what we must learn, change, and do in order to mature more into Christ's likeness. Spending all of our time, thoughts, energy, and finances on simply trying to recover without ever growing in faith and virtue would be a tragic waste of God's very best training. See Romans 8:28, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7, Revelation 3:19, etc.

 

Dec 12 (Mon) 2016:  God seems to be answering the gracious prayers of many who are praying for us, since my health seems to be making some tiny improvements, after hitting some very dangerous lows this past week. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of these faithful prayer warriors whom God has lovingly motivated to pray for us.  If my brain, limbs, lungs, and energy improve, I will add more value to this website with more essential wisdom and information for the benefit of its visitors.  In the meantime, continue to pray.  My right lung may have partially collapsed this afternoon, which is something that is expected in the final stages of lung cancer.  If it gets more serious tonight, I will call 911. Otherwise, I will call my medical professional in the morning to see what she recommends.

Recommendation:  If you haven't watched this movie yet, I recommend seeing War Room: Prayer Is a Poweful Weapon.  

 

Dec 5 (Mon) 2016:  I was too tired and weak to attend church yesterday so we worshipped online with the live stream broadcast.  Then after a long nap to regain my strength, I got up at 3:00 to prepare for our small group's Christmas dinner and fellowship from 5:00 PM.  The food and fellowship were very enjoyable, and those who stayed late for additional fellowship and prayer made me thankful for God's infinite goodness.

At the end of last night's event, my head started hurting and the right side of my face and right arm went slightly numb. This is likely further evidence that the cancer has probably spread to my brain and started to do some damage there.  

 

Since I need to concentrate on several more urgent matters while I can still think straight and have enough strength in my arms to type, I will turn off my iPhone, take a rest from Facebook and LinkedIn, and stop writing this blog for a few days until I complete the top priorities on my do list. If anyone needs to contact me, send me an email at thomasorrconsulting@gmail.com. I may not answer, but at least I promise to read your message.  

 

Dec 4 (Sun) 2016:  "Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways." (Psalm 119:33-37)

 

Dec 3 (Sat) 2016:  This afternoon, we had a very intelligent young business professional visit us for tea and some intelligent discussion about life, faith, and professional development, as well as about the politics and culture of his home country: Vietnam. He was a perfect gentleman and a very good conversationalist. I hope I get a chance to talk with him again the next time he visits Indiana.  

After our guest left, Sakurako and I suddenly felt hungry for some Vietnamese food, so we drove to a popular Vietnamese restaurant in Indianapolis (35 minutes away) and enjoyed three traditional dishes. After eating, however, we decided that the smaller new Pad Thai restaurant in downtown Carmel (5 minutes away) had higher quality, better tasting food, with considerably more fresh vegetables in their dishes, so we shall stick with our less famous neighborhood restaurant from now on when we get hungry for Southeast Asian food again.

In addition to receiving a lovely Christian birthday and Christmas card from a former Japanese language student of Sakurako's today, we also received a very nice music CD, from Christian friends in Japan, of a famous Japanese pianist, who is currently fighting cancer as I am. These very kind gifts encouraged Sakurako and me very much this evening, when we opened our postbox after returning home from our Saturday night date.

 

Dec 2 (Fri) 2016:  Last night, I slept very well, and today my energy level seems much stronger.  There are many things I need to do, so I will use my time and energy wisely so that I can make nice progress.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

 

Dec 1 (Thu) 2016:  After I got up this morning, I had my morning devotions, a healthy breakfast, and then started to thank more of the kind friends and business acquaintances on LinkedIn and FB who sent me birthday wishes.  After about 30 minutes, however, I felt tired and lightheaded, so I went back to bed and slept until 2 PM.  In the afternoon, Lindy and baby Ellis came to visit, so I took a shower, changed clothes, made myself some vegan pizza toast, and then joined Sakurako and our guests for a nice chat. In my heart, I also thanked  God for giving me such a wonderful wife, godly daugther-in-law, and beautiful little granddaughter.  God has given me a mature and healthy family who deeply loves Jesus and dearly loves each other, which is worth far more than anything I could ever buy or accomplish. I feel deeply grateful.   

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels...She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.  (Proverbs 31:10-12)

Children are a heritage from the Lord... (Psalm 127:3)

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged... (Proverbs 17:6

In today's mail, there were two birthday cards, both containing a little money.  One was from my father and his wife, and the other was from a high school friend whom I have highly respected for many years.  Since I no longer have the strength to earn a living, these kind gifts made me very happy because they allow me to treat my wife to a couple of nice meals and buy her a nice Christmas present, too. God always provides everything we need at just the right time. Once again, I feel deeply grateful.   

Note:  Sakurako read this blog entry and worried that our friends might think that we are poor and in need of charity. So to relieve the worries of our friends, please be assured that God has blessed us throughout my academic career and consulting work in the past as well as through our savings and investments in the present so that we can carry out every mission that God asks us to accomplish, without debt or financial hardship. And whenever we need something additional, God provides it.

God is able to make all grace abound to [us], so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, [we] may abound in every good  work. 

(2 Corinthians 9:8)

Nov 30 (Wed) 2016:  Yesterday, my body was so weak that I stayed in my pajamas until 4:00 PM and napped on and off most of the day. But 250-plus birthday wishes via LinkedIn, FB, and email encouraged me greatly, especially the video messages, which brought tears to my eyes every time I watched them. I feel overwhelmingly honored to know so many wonderful people who invest their time and talents in spreading love, grace, and goodness through all they do. Thank you, dear friends!  The world is a better place because of you.

A joyful heart is good medicine,... (Proverbs 17:22)

 

Nov 29 (Tue) 2016:  Thanks to the prayers of many very fine people, I am able to celebrate my 61st birthday today, which is something my doctors thought would not be possible.  My body remains weak and my Stage IV cancer symptoms seem to be increasing, since the cancer has likely spread to my brain and other locations. But the growth in faith and maturity that all of our challenges have enabled make my wife and me extremely thankful.  

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in [Sakurako, me, and our friends] will bring it to completion... (Philippians 1:6)

 

Nov 28 (Mon) 2016:  Today, when I went online to Pandora to cancel my annual subscription, the hymn Be Still My Soul, performed by Jeff Bjorck on his Impressions in Black and White album was playing. Jesus continues to bless me daily with evidence of His love as I make preparations for my possible death in the near future, while still feeling that somehow I may miraculously live longer than that.  But only God knows His good and perfect plan for me. My soul is at peace with whatever His divine decision may be, for His wisdom and goodness is beyond amazing.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

(Jeremiah  29:11)

My children asked me what I wanted for my birthday tomorrow, so my answer is this: That they would "love the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind and with all their strength" (Mark 12:30) since "delighting themselves in the Lord" (Psalm 37:4) will always satisfy their deepest human desires.  

Tonight, Sakurako and I went to Ted's Montana Grill on 86th Street, one of our all-time favorite restaurants, for a pre-birthday night dinner to celebrate my making it to my 61st birthday -- something we did not know would be possible one year ago. The high-quality fish and vegetable menu items are excellent for my cancer-fighting diet, and the manager and her staff always treat us very warmly. Tonight they even surprised us with a very nice dinner at their expense, which moved me to tears, since I thought this may be my last birthday. Still, only God knows what is best for us, so there may be many more visits to this restaurant, God willing. I highly recommend Ted's to my friends in Indiana -- especially this one in the Trader's Point neighborhood, since the people there excel in warm-hearted hospitality.  

Nov 27 (Sun) 2016:   Today is my favorite day of the week, which I set apart from the rest of the week, to enjoy heartfelt worship, encouraging fellowship, excellent sermons, serious prayer, personal Bible study, and quality time with my wife and one or more of my children and their families. Of course, Sunday is also the perfect day for a nice long afternoon nap.

Yesterday,  one of our good friends, who is a highly knowledgeable medical professional in Texas, gently and honestly recommended that I begin to make serious plans for hospice care (at home or at a medical institution) given my current state of health and its potential for rapid decline over the next few weeks. Because my friend is a serious Christian woman who is quite familiar with my kind of health challenges, I will follow her advice since God knows how long He plans for me to live, and this may be shorter than expected. The length of each person's life is not our choice, but God's, who blesses everyone with multiple opportunities to know and follow Him during the specific length of time He has determined is sufficient for each of us to decide where we want to spend eternity.

You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. (Job 14:5 NLT)

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God (God the Father), and Jesus Christ (God the Son) whom you have sent. (John 17:3 ESV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God  did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes  in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18 ESV)

 

Nov 26 (Sat) 2016:  I slept well last night (Good!), but I have lost more weight (Not Good!). The scales this morning showed 148.2 lbs (67.2 kg) even after eating a large Thanksgiving meal on Thursday (minus anything with starch, sugar, diary products or meat -- except for a couple of bites of high-quality, natural turkey).  I need to research how to stop this dangerous weight decline today after I finish putting up our Christmas decorations, which fortunately take only one hour.  Losing weight from a low-calorie vegan diet is healthy, but losing weight because of extra-hungry cancer cells is not.

Amazon just delivered a nice box of organic rooibos tea from an unknown friend.  Thank you, whoever you are!  This will be very good for my health. I will pray for your success in life, dear unknown friend.

Two Christian friends from Michigan (Japanese husband and American wife) visited us this afternoon to encourage us and pray with us. It was very nice to see them again. They are impressive people. God will surely use them a lot to make this world a better place.

 

Nov 25 (Fri) 2016:  This afternoon, a box of assorted healthy teas arrived in the mail for my upcoming 61st birthday. It was a gift from a Christian family in Japan who has been praying for our family regularly. I feel very happy to be alive this month to receive such a warm-hearted gift from such good friends since my doctors had predicted that I should have already died by now. I will definitely pray faithfully and powerfully for them, now that God has so clearly showed me that this is what I must do. I am confident that they will begin to see some amazing answers to these prayers soon, since God is both loving and powerful. 

Nov 24 (Thu) 2016:  Happy Thanksgiving!  I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. (Psalm 57:9 ESV)  ...as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:14 ESV)

Yesterday afternoon (Wed), my condition sank to its worst ever.  I felt pain everywhere, had no energy or appetite, felt very dizzy, and nearly passed out.  My new medicine (Extra Strength ClearLungs) kept my lungs clear enough to breathe, but the amount of phlegm it had to dry up required the maximum number of pills that were permitted. I told Sakurako that if my body continued to decline at this pace then it seemed doubtful that I could survive past January or February, so we needed to make lots of preparations quickly. Naturally, she cried at the thought of having to live alone without me, and I cried in return for not being able to take care of her. It was a very tough time for us, but we praised God for whatever he had planned, since we both had full confidence that it would be the best plan possible (See Romans 8:28 NLT).

 

That evening, God motivated a Korean family in our Small Group (for Bible study, prayer, and fellowship) to visit our home for prayer and encouragement. My condition was too weak to stay with them for very long. But once I got in bed, I heard them praying loudly for me in Korean and English, along with my wife. Sakurako later told me that they prayed with tears in their eyes -- especially in the eyes of their 11-year-old son, whom I had just given all of my books on math, science, technology, and medicine since he told me he wanted to specialize in medical techology in the future. I was deeply touched by their love. 

At 12:30 AM (long after our guests had left and Sakurako had gone to bed), I suddenly felt wide awake, so I went into the living room to read the Bible and communicate with God, since I wanted to hear what He might want to tell me. I opened the Bible randomly and began to read Ezekiel, Chapter 18, which appeared before my eyes.  After reading this chapter several times in a prayerful spirit, verses 30-32 stood out especially strong:

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.

I then asked God what more did He want to purge from my life so that I might live for Him more righteously. Over the past two years, He had already removed nearly all of my gluttony and greed, envy and selfish ambition, unhealthy thoughts and interests, and disrespectful attitudes toward others who dislike me.  I no longer waste time or money on popular interests of trivial value, I obey all of the laws (including speed limits), and I do not mock or slander any political officials or candidates. I know that all of my sins have been graciously forgiven by Jesus via his punishment on the cross so that I will not be punished for them on the Day of Judgement when He returns again. However, I also know that genuine born-again, Spririt-indwelt faith bears good fruit and discards the old if it is an authentic Christian faith.

 

A short time later, my remaining sins suddenly became more clear: I do not pray enough nor invest my time in knowing the Bible enough. If God is to keep me alive to help people know Him and live righteously for Him, then I must excel in fighting the painful burdens of others with the power of devoted faith-filled prayer and extremely accurate Biblical advice, no matter how odd or radical it may appear.  Of course, there are surely many other sins in my life that I am not aware of yet, but faithful prayer and mature Biblical knowledge are two things that I have to begin improving immediately if I am to conquer my cancer miraculously.  

Later that morning (Thu), my body's condition began to improve, and I embarked on a more serious prayer and Bible study/memorization program. This made a very thankful Thanksgiving Holiday.  

 

Nov 23 (Wed) 2016:  Yesterday (Tues), when I went to the drugstore to buy more NAC (N-acetyl Cysteine), which I have been using at maximum doses to help reduce the excessive phlegm in my lungs (which severely hinders my breathing, sleeping, and oxygen intake), I couldn't locate any, but I found an interesting new product instead:  ClearLungs by Ridgecrest Herbals. It is made from many different Chinese roots and other exotic natural ingredients, and it is working EXTREMELY well!  Last night, I could sleep very deeply and comfortably, and today my coughing and breathing difficulty is nearly gone.  Thank you for your prayers!  Finding this natural remedy made from God's ingredients is making my life MUCH brighter today.  God is good!

I just got off the phone a few minutes ago with a young friend in Nepal, who seeks my advice about life, job-hunting, and faith in Jesus. God is clearly working in his heart and circumstances to bring him a much better life than his former one. It is interesting to see the variety of different people throughout the world that God brings into my life in order to help. It gives me confidence that Jesus has plans to keep me alive much longer so that I can help more people in the future.

 

Nov 22 (Tue) 2016:  Recent research into the final stages of cancer and its symptoms tell me that I am solidly within Stage IV, where the cancer has most likely spread to other parts of the body and is now destroying my appetite, energy, muscle mass, breathing, thinking, and many other aspects of good health. Also, for the first time, I suddenly began losing all of my interest in eating, sleeping, exercising, and communicating, and simultaneously began longing for eternity with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit in Heaven. Interestingly, however, God's Spirit within me seems to keep reassuring me that this serious "terminal" illness will not result in death at this time in my life, but that I will miraculously recover.  However, it would be prudent to get my things in better order so that Sakurako (or our kids) can deal with my (or my wife and my death) when it does come someday in the future. Keep me in your prayers.  

 

Nov 21 (Mon) 2016:  My weight this morning was 150.7 lbs (68.36 kg), which is nice progress toward my 150-160 target range after sinking to 147 lbs. (66.68 kg) early last week. The added exercise and protein in my diet is helping me restore my muscle loss, which is essential for my recovery.   

There are three young people in the small group we lead at church, who not only pray fervently for my healing but who also live remarkably impressive lives.  The 5th grade boy and 4th and 6th grade girls love to read, they work hard to excel in their studies and athletics, pray regularly for their classmates and teachers, are polite and respectful, and possess amazingly mature thoughts and perspectives. If every elementary-school-age child in America were as mature and good-hearted as these three young people are, the future of this nation would be very bright.  

 

Nov 20 (Sun) 2016:  Since God has been surrounding us with many highly educated Asian friends, here in the northern suburbs of Indianapolis, who have discarded their atheist, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, or other upbringings to follow Jesus as new, born again Christians, my prayer for them is the same as Paul's was for the new believers from diverse backgrounds that he prayed for:  

 

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,... And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,... (Colossians 1:3-22 ESV).

 

Nov 19 (Sat) 2016:  Had another difficult night sleeping. However, the beautiful red, orange, and yellow leaves against the cold grey sky this morning made me feel thankful to be alive for another day. The cold winter weather that has just arrived is perfect for reading good books in front of a warm fireplace fire. There is so much I want to learn before I get too weak to read anymore.  

 

Nov 18 (Fri) 2016:  Last night I had another difficult night:  violent coughing, difficulty breathing, and some vomiting.  Strangely, however, I felt thankful for God's persistent training to perfect me and my wife further so that we can grow more like Jesus in every aspect of our life. Teaching people about God's ways without living them out in our daily lives would not only be hypocritical, but it would also be extremely ineffective.  People who teach must live what they teach if they want their words to be received with open ears and open hearts.

Today, God graciously compensated for our difficult night with perfect weather (76 degrees and sunny) and a very wonderful date in Zionsville, a neighboring town. There we enjoyed a healthy lunch, surrounded by flowers, in the brick courtyard of a local restaurant; popped in to a nearby giftshop and found some excellent Christmas pillows for our sofa; and then went for a walk along the river in Zionsville park, where we ran into one of our favorite friends and her dog. Further blessings included the discovery of two excellent Christian books in perfect condition for $0.99 each at a nearby Goodwill store, which I will begin reading tonight.  Since the weather forecast says that winter weather begins tomorrow, it was good to enjoy the last day of an unusually warm autumn, outside with my best friend and wife, Sakurako.  

 

Nov 17 (Thu) 2016:  Last night I slept very well, after suffering for many nights over the past few weeks when breathing difficulties and violent coughing kept me awake. I felt the healing power of prayer from my friends and the healthy nutrition from the raw kale leaf, whole grapefruit, five raw cranberries, and some healthy crackers with tomato-basil hummus and vegan garlic cream cheese that I ate for my late night snack.  

Sakurako and I have been thanking God everyday for the wonderful apartment that God has so clearly led us to rent. We especially like the large terrace that faces southeast and stays 15-25 degrees warmer on sunny days in the colder months when the sun is lower in the sky and thus shines fully into the space to warm it up. Our terrace is my favorite place for morning prayer and Bible reading, checking my email and stock portfolio, and reading the WSJ, over a cup of tea or coffee and some healthy breakfast food (e.g., hummus on rice crackers, raw fruits and veggies, oatmeal with sugar-free dried fruit and almond milk, vegan protein smoothy, fruit and veggie smoothy, or organic peanut butter on multigrain/seed toast). Our current challenges are transforming every aspect of our life into something that is far more enjoyable and healthy than what we would have experienced if our life had remained normal, smooth, and boring. God is good!

 

Nov 16 (Wed) 2016:  One of the unexpected outcomes of my online consulting presence has been the number of young professionals from around the world who have been befriending me in order to seek my advice about life, their career, and about the triune God of the Bible, whom I so dearly love. Many of them live in nations where freedom to know and follow the Biblical God is forbidden by government and religious leaders, or strongly persecuted by neighbors and relatives who have been raised with other religious beliefs. Naturally, my passion is to provide them with as much accurate information as I can about the Bible and its teachings so they have more options to consider when making life's most important decisions.

Nov 15 (Tue) 2016:  Sakurako and I enjoyed long conversations with two delightful people we met today when we went for a walk in Carmel's Central Park. One was a very cheerful young Japanese woman, who works in the park's community center, and the other was a retired engineer, originally from Ireland, who was sitting on a bench next to ours, when we sat down to rest after walking around the lake a bit. We probably talked about 45 minutes with each of our new friends and enjoyed our time with them thoroughly.  

 

I did a little research on the Internet yesterday to investigate the cost of cremations and to check Indiana law on what people are allowed to do with the ashes. The cost of cremations range from $800 - $1800, and Indiana law states that the ashes can be kept by the family, scattered over their own private property, or scattered on uninhabited public lands.  Sakurako and I found the perfect location for our ashes in one of our favorite parks, but we need to check with Hamilton county to see what specific restrictions they might have.  

Nov 14 (Mon) 2016:  Yesterday evening, my son gave me some brandname clothes (that he had outgrown) because I have lost so much weight and need something far less baggy. I was surprised, however, when a very nice pair of brown dress corduroys, which he had purchased when he was in junior high school, fit me perfectly.  I am enjoying my 31-inch waist size very much, thanks to a healthy vegan diet -- although I suspect that I have had a little extra help from some very hungry cancer cells that insist on battling with me a bit longer.  

 

Nov 13 (Sun) 2016:  ...[Jesus] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:26-28 ESV)

Nov 12 (Sat) 2016:  A couple of evenings ago, I was suddenly overwhelmed with tremendous grief for about three hours that made me want to cry.  When I have felt this emotion in the past, it coincided with the death of someone I knew very well, so I have been waiting a bit fearfully for news via email, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other media to tell me who died. Jesus has been developing within me a much deeper love for so many people in my past and in the present that I feel tremendous sadness when any of them pass away -- especially those who have lived their lives in apathy toward their Creator. 

 

Nov 11 (Fri) 2016:  I didn't sleep well last night. I drank too much hibiscus tea before bed and then had too many good ideas for books and articles for my brain to want any rest. Consequently, when my WSJ was delivered at 3:00 AM, I decided to get up and read for an hour before trying to sleep again. I wish I had read more of the Wall Street Journal and similar top global newspapers when I was a teen. After having taught university students and young working professionals from different parts of the world for over three decades, it has become very clear to me that young people who read highly intelligent content in highly intelligent language (in every nation I am familiar with) do so much better in their careers than those who sabotage their futures with shallower content of considerably less value. When I compare students who begin their careers in the $20,000-40,000 salary range to those who start in the $80,000-120,000 range, I find that the quality and quantity of reading material that these two groups have consumed are VERY different. Parents and teachers should consider this seriously if they want their students to enjoy a wider range of job options that pay enough to keep their lives entirely free of debt. 

 

Nov 10 (Thu) 2016:  Since my body is no longer strong enough to travel long distances or to speak in front of large audiences, I want to focus my next few months on writing articles and a book, given the likelihood that my current limitations are gracious gifts from God to keep me focused on this work.  Serious writing is far more demanding than keynote speeches and presentation PowerPoints, but its potential for positively influencing more people is worth the investment.

Nov 9 (Wed) 2016:  Regardless of who won the election today, one of the most positive things about this whole election process and its final results is that more people in the U.S. and around the world have started channeling their energies into prayer for the USA and its leadership rather than choosing to vent negative language and emotions at others who see the world differently than they do. Knowing for a fact that prayer is far more powerful than words, I expect many beautiful new things to begin happening in the USA, thanks to these much needed prayers.  

Nov 8 (Tues) 2016:  Today, after having lunch with a PhD student to discuss his thoughts, strategies, and research, Sakurako and I drove to our voting location in Carmel to cast our votes. Then we stayed up until 12:30 AM (Sakurako) and 2:40 AM (Tom) to watch the election results.  As a new American citizen, Sakurako has been so pleased to see that Americans are far more enthusiastic about voting and their engagement in the election process than people in Japan, who have given up on the democratic processes there and the professional politicians who run the country.  

 

Nov 7 (Mon) 2016:  Tomorrow is election day, so Sakurako and I are studying the candidates and their positions today to determine how we should vote. One of the HUGE advantages of not owning a TV or subscribing to a newspaper (except for the WSJ as of one week ago) is that we have been able to avoid endless hours of political campaign coverage this year so that we could invest our time (and emotions) on much healthier pursuits, while maintaining harmonious relationships with all of our friends and relatives on both ends of the political spectrum.   

 

Nov 6 (Sun) 2016:  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!  Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!  The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:8-10 ESV)

 

Nov 5 (Sat) 2016:  I'm spending a very full and satisfying weekend with one of my former University of Aizu students (and his new wife), who is working for an American software company in Ireland and the USA. Since they both have become Christians, we are enjoying talking about God and how He has been blessing us in miraculous ways.  One week prior, another former UoA student, who has also become a Christian, came to spend several days with us so that we could enjoy talking about God and His amazing work in our lives, too. 

 

Nov 4 (Fri) 2016:  Now that I have been on a fairly strict vegan diet for one year, in order to kill off my cancer cells naturally, I have become a great fan of nutritionfacts.org, which reviews all of the scientific papers on nutrition that are published in English around the world every year in order to offer the most solid nutrition advice possible. I recommend this site to all my friends who want to overcome cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, memory problems, heart problems, skin problems, allergy problems, and many more with the healthy foods that God created for our health and healing.

 

Nov 3 (Thu) 2016:  One of my IEEE friends recently began thinking deeply about the meaning of happiness and its attainment, so I want to post a few thoughts on that topic for his consideration since most of my clients are interested in the same topic.

Happiness:  It seems to me (and the scientific research that I read when I was a professor) that happiness is typically dependent on our circumstances.  Humans seem to be happier on sunny days than cloudy ones, breathing clean air than polluted air, eating delicious food than tasteless food, living in clean beautiful homes than ugly messy ones, working with kind and positive people than difficult and negative ones, viewing beautiful scenery than ugly scenery, engaging in meaningful work than busywork, working in stress-free environments than stressful ones, living with warm and loving family members than selfish and irritable ones, earning profits from their investments rather than losses, having more money in their bank accounts than less, and having life go their way than not. Consequently, if anyone seeks to live a happy life, then they need to find creative ways to surround themselves with as many happiness-promoting circumstances as possible.   

Joy: Since there are many circumstances beyond our control, however, I recommend the pursuit of joy as a higher priority since joy is an emotion that wells up from within us, which is dependent on significantly more reliable circumstances.  These circumstances include a deep and healthy relationship with the triune God of the Old and New Testaments in the Bible, salvation from our ugly sinful nature and its burden of guilt, daily experience of our re-creation into a much better person, overwhelming love and daily blessings from God that are dependent on His unchanging nature rather than our fickle attitudes and behavior, daily experience of God's good and beautiful sovereignty over every detail of our life, answers to our prayers and our deepest godly longings, and the hope we can enjoy from knowing that death will be the beginning of eternal freedom from all that is evil and the start of a deeper eternal relationship with God, who loves us far beyond anything we can ever comprehend.  Possessing this kind of joy is why Christian martyrs throughout the centuries have been able to welcome the severest suffering with a much deeper level of peace and happiness than their persecutors, and why people like me have been able to experience continual joy and contentment in spite of the cancer that has taken my right foot and currently threatens to end my life, now that it has spread throughout my lungs.  I'm sure that anyone else who begins reading the Bible and allowing its God to overwhelm them with His love will experience this same level of joy that far surpasses even the greatest happiness we can possibly orchestrate.  

Nov 2 (Wed) 2016:  O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again;... (Psalm 71:17-20, ESV)

 

Nov 1 (Tues) 2016:  One of my good friends in Peru asked me the following question yesterday, so I will propose a short answer in this blog entry since there may be others who have the same question.  

 

His Question: How can we measure if someone is successful in life?

 

My Answer: Linguistically, success means the attainment of a goal, and thus success in life would mean the attainment of one's life goals. To measure this, one must first clarify, in as much detail as possible, the life goals that someone has set for themselves, i.e., goals for the kind of person they plan to become, the achievements they plan to accomplish, and the experiences they plan to enjoy. Measuring their success at attaining these goals can then be determined through honest self-assessment of their progress toward these goals at whatever age they may be (balanced with reliable feedback and assessment from others) to see if these goals are actually being achieved according to the timeline they have established. In contrast, people who will be hugely unsuccessful in life will be those who have no goals, no strategies, no plans, and thus no reason for living, except to go with the flow of the culture around them, in blind hope that they will somehow be happy during their life without any regrets when they die.

Note: I like this question because I have devoted many years of my life to training and mentoring young people in their 20s and 30s to help them create reasonable life goals, reasonable timelines, and reasonable strategies so they can live their lives in meaningful and satisfying ways. In fact, this remains the core of my consulting work today.

 

Oct 31 (Mon) 2016:  Two years ago today, at roughly 7:30 AM, my current series of adventures began with the amputation of my right foot due to a rare cancer that had developed there, which would then reappear in my lungs one year later. Through all of this, however, God has continued to bless me with an amazing abundance of inner peace, joy, and confidence that all of this is part of His perfect plan for my good, His glory, and the good of many others. Without all of these adventures to transform me and my family, we would probably have wasted the latter years of our life pursuing wealth, comfort, and endless amusements, rather than give ourselves wholly to bettering the lives of others. Praise God that He has had better plans for us. (photos at bottom)       

 

Oct 30 (Sun) 2016:  I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction,... He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3, ESV).

 

Oct 29 (Sat) 2016:  Today marks the one-year anniversary of my doctors' diagnosis that I had a rare form of lung cancer that could not be healed and would take my life within a few months at the earliest to one year at the latest. My family and I praise God that He has had other plans for me. Like the trials of Joseph and Job in the Old Testament, this illness, most likely, is part of God's loving training to deepen my family's faith in Him, increase our passion for Him, and purify our hearts so that we can serve Him more effectively. My cancer symptoms are clearly worse than they were one year ago (excessive weight loss, coughing, overproduction of mucus in my lungs, shortness or breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, less appetite, and occasional pain when breathing), and yet every time I open the Bible randomly, my eyes continue to fall on passages that talk about long life, fruitfulness in old age, training, purification, healing, and renewed strength. Surely this is not coincidental. Naturally, going to Heaven earlier than expected brings great joy and excitement to me, since deeper intimacy with Jesus is my deepest longing. However, too many of my friends and acquaintances do not yet know Him, so I want to live a bit longer to help them experience His unfathomable love. (photos at bottom)

Oct 28 (Fri) 2016:  In some recent junk mail, I noticed an advertisement for a 55 inch, Ultra HD 4K Smart TV with TV stand for only $134.99 (plus tax) per month for 24 months, which they were promoting as an amazing bargain. The tiny print at the bottom, however, showed the monthly payment option raised the actual price from $1,892.98 (if purchased with cash) to $3,239.76 if purchased on the 24-month plan. There were similar "bargains" for appliances, furniture, and other household items in this store that has locations all over the poorest neighborhoods in central Indiana and none in the richer ones. I wonder what percent of our state's poorest residents keep themselves poor by paying considerably more for the things they buy than those who avoid making purchases until they can afford to pay cash for them.  I suppose that if the high schools, technical schools, and community colleges that educate this population required basic financial literacy as one of their requirements for graduation, then family finances would be considerably better for our state's poorer residents. But it appears that discussions on music, fashion, and popular social issues seem to take higher priority in the current curriculums, and that the teachers who teach them suffer from as much unnecessary debt as their students. I pray that those who genuinely know God will have the insight, wisdom, and courage to equip their students with what is actually best for them.    

 

Oct 27 (Thu) 2016:  One of the greatest benefits of my early retirement from academia and the current health limitations on my consulting is that I am able to enjoy as many hours as I want in the Bible and related books or videos on history, theology, and archeology. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, it is the Holy Scriptures that make us complete and fully equip us for every kind of good work. Thus, it seems prudent to invest my time wisely in Biblical studies so that I will be better prepared for the next phase of my career, after I have fully recovered from my cancer.  

Oct 26 (Wed) 2016:  One of the things I have learned during my academic career from my students and clients in different parts of Asia is how vast the variety of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim teachings that exist, and how especially violent and inhumane some of their most devout followers can be at all levels of the socioeconomic hierarchy. Human trafficking, exploitation of the poor, bribery, bullying, theft, murder, political dishonesty, political graft, sexual immorality, drug addiction and its supporting drug trade, violence against Christians (as well as against Buddhists, Hindus, or Muslims who seek to become Christians), and a long list of other inhumane practices seem frighteningly commonplace. Naturally, many mature Asian professionals seek to right these wrongs in their countries, but their challenges are huge and complex.  It would be wise to remember these heroes in our prayers since their success brings peace and prosperity to everyone.  Religious freedom is a beautiful and necessary ingredient for every mature nation, and yet when good teachings are twisted to justify crimes against others, everyone suffers.  

Oct 25 (Tues) 2016:  I have been wanting to add more pages of advice to this website, but at present, I only have the energy and mental clarity to add a few sentences of thought per day.  According to the doctors who diagnosed me with terminal lung cancer around this time last year, I was supposed to be dead by now.  However, thanks to God's amazing provision of excellent natural healing advice and well over 10,000 people who have been praying for me, I am still alive and fighting my illnesses week after week, with full confidence that I will eventually recover. This wonderful training from God is deepening my love for Him and preparing me for more beautiful work than I could have ever imagined.  My foot amputation (Oct 2014), my severe heart attack (August 2015), and my terminal cancer diagnosis (Oct 2015) have been transforming me into a completely different person, who seems to be considerable better than my former self.  I will be eternally grateful for these precious blessings from my Creator, Savior, and Radical Reformer.

 

1st Photo (Oct 30, 2014), 2nd Photo (Oct 31, 2014), 3rd Photo (Oct 29, 2015), 4th Photo (Oct 29, 2016)