Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beating The Odds

                                                      Beating the Odds
Have you ever faced a challenge when you knew odds were stacked against you? How about a time when you had to take some action or make a decision when the possibility of failure would be devastating. For me, deciding how to treat prostate cancer was an example of this. I beat the odds in that I chose a course of treatment that cured me.
 For someone else, the challenge might be working up the courage to ask someone on a date, or to marry you. There are many times in life we are up against a choice of whether we will take a risk in order to beat the odds that we know in advance are stacked against us. When we purposefully go against those odds, we take the risk knowing if we fail we will suffer a costly loss, financially, relationally, emotionally, or otherwise.

When my wife and I began writing “I Left My Prostate In San Francisco-Where’s Yours?”
our mutual goal was to share our personal experiences in order to help other couples face this disease. 1 in 6 men will receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer in their lifetime. Approximately 240,000 men received this diagnosis last year.

As we were writing this book together, I didn’t realize I had a much better chance of being cured of cancer than I did writing a successful book.

Today 10/30/12 I read I this:
… the statistics for self-publishers prove dismal. The largest author services companies report: An average of 100 copies sold per title. 14.3% of authors sell more than 200 copies. 3.4% of authors sell more than 500 copies. (Marvin Cloud written in:
(accessed 10/31/2012)
This means 96.6% of those who self-publish their books sell 500 copies or less. Clearly the odds are against us. We invested $6,000 purchasing an editorial and publishing package from Westbow Press. To design our website: we spent another few hundred dollars. We stand to lose $5,000 or more if our experiences are within the statistical norms.

That’s one way to assess the odds of whether we will succeed or fail. Fortunately our faith gives us an entirely different way to view our situation. If you are able to view the same situation with the eyes of faith, your worldview is turned upside down.

I’ll use an event in the bible to illustrate my point.  Imagine 2 powerful nations are aligned against one another in battle.  You are with your family and loved ones. You must make an important decision and the stakes are very high. One of these nations is going to lose the battle. You must chose which nation you, your family and loved ones will go to for protection. If you choose the losing side you and everyone you love will be slaughtered.

The battle between these nations will be decided on a fight between 2 people. One nation sent their mightiest warrior. He is 9 feet tall. He is wearing 125lbs of armor and a helmet of bronze. His spear is approximately 8 feet tall with a 10lbs tip. He carries a shield and a sword.

Against this mighty warrior, the opposing nation sends out a youth who is by trade, a shepherd. He has no armor or any experience in battle. His only weapon is a slingshot. Before this battle begins, it’s up to you to choose which nation you will rely on to protect you and your loved ones. Choose wrongly, you and everyone you love dies with you.

Common sense would lead you to believe the giant has to win and lead you to go to his nation for protection. Here’s the problem with that choice.

The tall guy’s name is Goliath, The small guy is David. As they face each other the big guy Goliath says:
And the Philistine said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!" (1 Sam 17:44)

David says this to Goliath:

You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you.
(1 Sam 17:45-46)

Both men are confident of their victory. If you only see the world through the eyes of common sense and logic, you’d side with Goliath. If you see the world through the lens of faith, David is your man.

Brenda & I see our world filtered by our faith. Despite the awful odds we believe we can and we will beat those odds. Time will tell.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Becoming unstuck with small beginings

  Luke 13:18-19
What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches."

When starting out a new project, investment, business or any endeavor, I prefer instant success. When a great new movie is released, I’m delighted when box office records are broken on the first weekend after the movie is release. I’m not as big a fan of small, slow steps along a path that takes time in order for the journey to yield success.

Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a mustard seed, which is about this size: (.)
How does it grow? It’s grows gradually. Not only that, certain conditions must be met in order for any tree to grow. The soil must contain the right nutrients. The tree must receive the right amount of mositure and sunlight in order to thrive.

What’s that mean to me. It means there are many important things in life that must start off the size of a mustard seed. Certainly our emotional and intellectual abilities start off small. Just like a mustard seed, it isn’t only the passage of time that matters. I’m 60 years of age. Unfortunately, there are times I act as if I’m 3. All of us know someone who routinely acts well below their chronological age every day of their lives. It’s very possible to get stuck in such a way the passage of time doesn’t matter.
In 1 Cor 3:2-3 Paul says to members of the Church:
I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.

No matter our age, we don’t start on the journey of faith as an adult ready for solid food. We start as a spiritual babies needing milk.  Paul knew those he wrote to were stuck. Enough time had past where they should have matured to the point where they were ready for solid food, but they lacked the capacity to receive it.

From this passage, I’ve learned how important it is to FREQUENTLY ask yourself this question in many difference contexts. I’m trying to build some anticipation and excitement as I delay posing the question. It’s a simple question. It may disappoint you once you hear it. It won’t disappoint you if you put the question into the right context. “Here’s the question: Am I stuck?”  That doesn’t appear to be a life changing question, but it has the potential to become one if asked in the right context. Some examples:
1. Am I stuck emotionally? Or Am I growing and demonstrating evidence of that growth
2. Am I stuck relationally? Are there destructive patterns I get stuck in, do I involve myself with the same type of destructive people?
3. Am I stuck professionally? Am I using my God given talents and abilities to the fullest?
4. Am I stuck in anger or bitterness? If so, what do I need to let go of and who do I need to forgive?
5. Am I stuck in destructive patters of relating to the people I love or who love me?
6. Am I stuck spiritually-Is my life bearing the fruit of my age, experience and wisdom, have I grown the knowledge of our Lord, or am I stuck.
7. Am I stuck because I haven’t done something the Lord has called me to do?
8.  Am I stuck with old voices in past defining who I am, so I can’t become who God wants me to be.

These are potentially life-changing questions.  Since my diagnosis of prostate cancer Brenda & I know what it’s like to be stuck in destructive relational patterns. We recently returned from an amazing vacation,which helped us become unstuck. After you read this, be challenged to find the areas of life you’ve been stuck at. I hope you’ll leave me some comments to tell me about them and what you plan to do to get yourself unstuck.