As Christians, Do We Believe That Jesus Can Do What He Has Promised?

Today I awaited the result of my next test for prostate-specific antigen, better known as PSA. In the past, this wait has many times been accompanied by some degree of anxiety. But this time, I had purposed in my heart and mind to release the outcome to the Lord’s care whatever the result may be. Which reminded me of a recent devotional from Dr. David Jeremiah entitled “I Didn’t Know”.  It focused on the familiar story of Jesus’ disciples being in a boat and encountering a storm.

During the three years the disciples spent with Jesus, they had personally witness Him multiply five loaves and two fish to feed thousands, heal the sick and lame, cast out evil spirits and even raise the dead. Many times the disciples seemed to say “I didn’t know He could do that”. Another thing they didn’t know was that Jesus could walk on water – and allow them to do the same. In this instance, during a vicious storm, they spotted Jesus walking on the water toward them. Peter boldly said, “Lord, if it is You, bid me to come to You on the water.” (Matt: 14:28)  I recently read that the word “if” could better be translated by the word “since“. The word “if” can sometimes carry with it some degree of uncertainty. But the term “since Jesus said it,”  implies a higher degree of trust.  Jesus implored Peter to come but he began to sink in the waves when he took his eyes off of Jesus. However, Matthew 14:31,  records “and immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught Peter and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'”

Life with Jesus is a never-ending discovery of His love and power if only we will trust Him. If we practice the commands to “trust and obey”, a beautiful cycle begins. According to Dr. Charles Stanley, “trusting the Lord makes obedience easier, and obedience produces ever-increasing trust.” Perhaps we may have never trusted God completely for unusual needs, medical or otherwise. May we explore, trust and discover life with a miracle-working Lord who can deliver what He has promised. Remember the words of this familiar hymn. “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word. Just to rest upon His promise, just to know “thus saith the Lord.” To start a personal relationship with God, see the following link. By the way, my own test result came back as good as I could have hoped for.

 

Can God Use Our Prostate Cancer? Yes He Can!!!

New day breaking over Balestrand, on the northern shore of the Sognefjord, west coast of Norway; photo BJ Gabrielsen.

As I write this post, it constitutes the 1,000,000+ hit on this website which I can only trust has been a help and a blessing to some of you since I was prompted to share my personal story via a blog.

As I write it, it has been 23 years since I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer. While I am classified as having advanced disease, I am asymptomatic, am feeling well and my PSA is undetectable. But there will probably come a day when I will have to read my own website admonitions and apply them to my own life. Can God use my (our) disease to glorify Him? Emphatically, Yes!

What has God told me to do about my condition? The answers are three-fold: a) to yield it to Him; b) to trust Him completely in what He has told me in His Word, and, c) be cognizant of any opportunity to share my story with others that regardless of any outcome, God is to be glorified. In the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah was alone told by God to confront the hundreds of prophets of the false god Baal, whom many of the Israelites had been worshipping as instructed by the evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. First, Baal’s prophets placed a sacrificial ox on an altar and in a vain attempt to induce Baal to ignite the sacrifice, they invoked the name of their god to the point of yelling, and cutting themselves for hours to no avail. It now was Elijah’s turn and he went several steps further. He put his ox on a stone altar, made a trench around it, put wood on top of the altar, laid the ox on the wood, poured several pitchers of water on the ox and saturated the wood around it. He did the latter not once but three times. Then he filled the surrounding trench with water. The goal was of course to ignite the burnt offering as a sacrifice to God. Then interestingly enough, Elijah did not pray the obvious prayer namely for fire to come down and ignite the offering which is what one might expect to pray. He merely prayed, “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel (Jacob), let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am your servant and that I have done all these things at Thy word. Answer me, O’ Lord, answer me that this people may know that You O’ Lord are God and that You would turn their heart back again.” (I Kings 18: 36-37). Notice that Elijah did not pray specifically for fire to fall. But it did, spontaneously consuming the offering, the wood, the stones, the dust and licked up all the water in the trench.

How does this relate to offering my prostate cancer? Like Elijah used a sacrificial ox to demonstrate God’s power, I am to lay my body down as an offering according to Romans 12:1 which states “I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God to present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your reasonable service of worship.” I should then be attentive to whatever circumstance I would find myself where my personal disease sacrifice could be viewed by others including any medical personnel. While it is normal to do so, I should not pray that God would heal my disease according to my plans and scenario. Remember Elijah did not pray for God to send fire and devour the animal sacrifice. But instead, I should pray like Elijah, listen and follow whatever God has told me, and pray that God would somehow demonstrate His presence and power through my disease and thereby be glorifed. Then step back and leave the results to Him.

Jesus Himself made a similar prayer in John 12:23-28. He knew He would soon undergo a painful death by crucifixion and be totally cut off from God, His Father and bear the penalty of the sins of everyone who ever lived and would ever live. Jesus demonstrated His humanity by saying in v. 27, “Now my soul has become troubled and what shall I say, ‘Father save me from this hour?'” In other words, He asked God if He could be spared all this pain and suffering? But then like Elijah, He concludes “But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy Name.'” Like Elijah and Jesus, may the same be said of us. God can indeed be glorified through our disease state. If you, the reader, cannot identify clearly with this scenario, you too can have an intimate and personal relationship with God much like Elijah. See the following link.

Thank you all for putting this site over the millonth mark.

What to Do with Our Worry

When all is going well, I don’t usually get anxious except perhaps when I am due for my next PSA test or scan.  Faced with upcoming medical decisions and testing, I confess that in the past I have had a bad habit of anticipating the worst scenario because then the final outcome can only be an improvement. I know that has been a very negative and distrusting way of thinking. Worry often creeps into all of our lives seemingly without warning. However, over the last 23 years, I have learned to release these events and results to God. So the following might be a good word for all of us.

When we worry we are focused on possibilities that have not yet happened or are beyond our control. In the weakness of our fears, we can be comforted knowing nothing comes into our lives apart from God’s knowledge. It’s an opportunity to accept His offer to be our strength and hope regardless of what happens.

I know it can sound like a cliche but remember God is in charge. Nothing happens beyond the knowledge and control of God. When we worry, we are actually acknowledging the truth that in ourselves we are not adequate to meet the demands of life. This is our moment to remind ourselves of some important truths about God. He is everywhere. “Can a man hide himself so I do not see Him, and do I not fill the heavens and the earth declares the Lord?” (Jeremiah 23:23-4). He knows everything. “The Lord looks from heaven and sees all the sons of men” (Psalm 33:13). He is all-powerful. “Jesus said ‘with men this is impossible but with God all things are possible.'”(Matthew 19:26).

Believe He can carry our burdens. But how do we place our cares on the shoulders of God? The answer lies in what we are trusting – in our feelings or in the character of our all-powerful, trustworthy God. “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22).

Admit He is greater than our fears. In Psalm 31, David wrote of being forsaken by his friends and attacked by his enemies. Yet he could say in verse 15 “my times are in Your hand”. David knew God’s goodness and love from experience.

Trust He can sustain us. Advertisements for most things from investments to medicinals all come with disclaimers. Some ads on TV and radio recite disclaimers so fast their words are intelligible. In this broken world we have no guarantees except that God and His Word can be trusted. He wants us to draw on the depths of His love and grace.

Count on Him to never forsake us. If we are God’s children, we are never apart from our Father’s care. “He Himself has said ‘I will never desert you nor will I ever forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).

If you cannot personally relate to these truths and principles, you can have a personal relationship with the God who stands behind them. See the following link.

The above was adapted from the Our Daily Bread monthly devotional series, August, 2018.

Gadolinium Contrast Agents in Prostate MRI’s and the New FDA Warning

For the most part, MRI imaging for prostate cancer is safe. In some cases, contrast agents are needed to be injected into the human body in order to get a better picture or scan. Many of the contrast agents utilized contain the heavy metal, gadolinium. These injected agents help physicians see internal organs, blood vessels and other tissues more clearly.

In late 2017, the FDA declared that all gadolinium-containing contrast agents must carry the warning about how they could be retained in the body and potentially cause kidney injury. Most of the gadolinium is eliminated by the kidneys. If one’s kidney function is normal, there has been no direct link with these contrast agents to any specific health issue.  The brand name Gadavist (gadobutrol) is often used for MRI screening of prostate cancer and active surveillance. Much lower levels of this agent are used compared to other agents. The FDA is now asking the manufacturers of gadolinium agents to conduct more human and laboratory studies to determine the safety of these agents. Thus far, the one real adverse effect noticed with these agents is in a small group of patients with pre-existing kidney failure, a condition known as nephrogenic systemic fibrosis. More recently, researchers in Belgium and Japan expressed concern that gadolinium-based contrast agents showed preliminary evidence of depositing in the part of the brain called the cerebellum.

Here is a list of eight (8) of the most widely used gadolinium contrast agents and their brand and generic names and levels of concern. The following three have lower levels of retention and are of less concern; a) Dotarem (Gadoterate Meglumine); b) Gadavist (Gadobutrol); and, Prohance (Gadotridol). The following five have high levels of retention; a) Eovist (Gadoxetate Disodium); b) Magnevist (Gadobenate Dimeglumine); c) Multihance (Gadobenate Dimeglumine); d) Omniscan (Gadodiamide); and e) Optimark (Gadoversetamide).

The body retains less gadolinium when using agents that have what is known as a macrocyclic (large rings) chemical structure, as in Dotarem, Gadavist and Prohance. Gadolinium agents that have a linear chemical structure have higher levels in the body after using them.

So the next time you have an MRI with contrast, inquire which of the gadolinium agents are being used. If it is one with linear structure or higher retention, one should ask for alternatives or seek out another imaging facility.

This post is an excerpt from an article written by Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, Jenkins / Pokempner Director of Alternative Medicine, University of Michigan Medical Center. It was published in the summer 2018 issue of the Prostate Digest, Volume 21, Issue 2, published by the Prostate Cancer Research Institute.

P.S. So now you know how to respond when you see one of those notorious lawyer ads on TV asking if you “have ever taken an MRI with contrast and developed _______. You may be entitled to substantial compensation.”