Out of the Blue – now on Audio featuring Bob Goff and interview with Greg Murtha

Out of the Blue Audio Book Now Available featuring Bob Goff and interview with Greg Murtha

After a lot of hard work, the audio version of Out of the Blue is now available—and with several special features, including (features we don’t believe you can find in any other books):

  • Bob Goff reads his own foreword – its masterful and so special to hear Bob’s own voice,
  • Greg’s good friend, Regie Hamm narrates the book,
  • THE KICKER…we’re including an interview of Greg on the back end of the book.  If you are like me, you just want to hear Greg’s voice again and this was a way we could help you do just that.

You can get the audio version of Out of the Blue at Amazon (Audible) or iTunes.


An announcement like this about Out of the Blue is bitter-sweet—hard and yet, exciting on multiple fronts.  It’s hard because we all miss the author of Out of the Blue.  Yet, it’s exciting because Greg’s book is really impacting people.  We hear from a lot of folks who never had the privilege of meeting Greg and yet the book is striking a deep cord – and continuing to grow in influence – just as Greg had hoped.

Trust in You

One of my pet peeves (this actually makes me angry so I guess it’s a bit more than a pet peeve) is when I read on Facebook or hear someone say, “God is so good…I prayed the test results would return negative and he answered my prayers. He. Is. So. Good.”

To me this feels like a bubble gum theology. If I grab a quarter and place it in the gumball machine, then I am certain to receive the gumball. The only real question is…what color or flavor it will be.

Tracey and I have had a stellar day. We slept in, took a few calls from a couple of organizations who are attempting to serve us by helping us navigate the health care maze we are facing.

Currently, we do not have a solution for when Cobra lapses at the end of June.

We drove 12 miles out Castle Creek Road and took in the incredible scenery that surrounds Aspen. There were snowcapped mountains, stunning meadows, just off the road there were deer grazing, and ducks swimming in streams.

My friend, James Keenan said, “How could anyone drive that road and not believe there is a God?” To which I say, I have no idea.

This afternoon we grabbed a glass of wine, a plate of meat and cheese, and completed the culinary delight with a terrific latte. Following this snack, we walked around snowy Aspen, a town with mountains rising at every corner. It was simply stunning.

Over the past few years we have prayed the following specific prayers.

When we discovered I had Colon cancer we had no idea how bad it was. Generally, if you have Stage I Colon cancer it can be treated and, for the most part, you can be healed…it essentially goes away.

Everything looked great. We prayed we had beaten this beast. My surgery went without a hitch. I felt terrific, yet when we received the lab results, from the procedure, we were informed the cancer was aggressive Stage III and it has since progressed to Stage IV.

Did God not answer our prayers? There were hundreds of people praying, yet we didn’t get what we asked for.

Last year, when we discovered I had a heart issue, we raced to the hospital. Following the heart attack, we prayed God would restore my heart to full functionality. This often occurs when you are able to restore blood flow to the affected areas, however, my heart didn’t recover.

Again, did God not answer these prayers? We didn’t get what we asked for in this case either.

In January, we discovered we had missed a loop hole in our Cobra policy. We were supposed to inform TriNet when we were approved for long-term disability, however, we did not because frankly, no rational person would know to do this unless they took the time to read the policy, which can be found on TriNet’s web portal. For the record, this stipulation can be found on TriNet’s site in their policy document on page 64.

Following this discovery, we petitioned TriNet and Aetna and prayed God would have them show mercy and extend our policy, yet the determination letter we received, from TriNet, simply stated we were denied.

Yet again, God did NOT answer our prayers. Or did he?

Where’s my gumball?

A few minutes ago, Tracey and I watched a video of Lauren Daigle singing, “Trust In You” on YouTube. The fact is, I have heard of this artist and I would have probably recognized the song, but as we read the lyrics my eyes filled with tears and they fill again as I type these words.

It appears as though Lauren, and her co writers, know what it feels like to pray specifically for a desired outcome, yet receive what appears to be something less.

Check out the chorus.

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you

Can any of you relate to these lyrics?

When you don’t…
…give me the answer my friends and I prayed for, which would have been Stage I.
…restore my heart to full functionality.
…prompt the insurance company to show grace and extend our coverage.

Please read on…

Truth is you know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead you have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what you want Lord and nothing less

This is the truth. Personally, I (too) want what you want Lord and nothing less.

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foudation
The rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood

God loves you and he loves me deeply. He is especially fond of both of us and he wants what’s best for us all and I trust him, I hope you do too.

Frankly, it is frustrating my cancer is stage IV, it is disheartening my heart functions at 60% capacity, and I have no idea how my insurance predicament will play out; however, I do know, when it is all said and done, I will spend an eternity with a God who loves me deeply and knows what’s best.

Do you trust him? I do. I trust him with everything in me and I know, from experience, he is trustworthy.

Take a moment to listen to Lauren Daigle singing “Trust In You.” There’s truth, and a deep faith, to be found in this song, however, there are no gumballs nor is there a gumball theology.

Amen.

Faith vs. Fear

Faith Defined – The assurance of things hoped for and the certainty of things unseen.

In a continued effort to remain completely candid and vulnerable with you I am going to share what my family is dealing with as it relates to our Health Insurance concerns. These things are being shared in such detail in order to inform you so you are better equipped to pray with us, so you know what one real live, living, breathing family is dealing with who happen to be caught up in the US healthcare maze, and you may possibly have ideas that would be valuable for us.

COBRA Extension Denied
You are already aware, due to a loophole, we have been dropped from our current AETNA policy. We are covered until Friday, June 30, 2017. We have an advocacy group and a few friends exploring the possibility of a reversal of this decision for us.

Window of Need
Medicare will be available for us on May 1, 2018. With this being the case we will need a bridge of coverage between July 2017 – May 2018 (10 months).

The Exchange
We were recently informed Vanderbilt does not accept a single policy offered through the exchange. This happens to be where all my doctors are.

Private Options
Vanderbilt offered us three options that could provide a solution, however, it doesn’t appear to be very promising.

Cigna LocalPlus Bronze
Yesterday, I called and was unable to speak to a human being. Application for this policy must be done online. We will do so today.

Farm Bureau
Spoke with a human and received policy description.

$750 Monthly Premium
$2,000 Deductible
20% CoPay after meeting Deductible

The fact is, every two weeks I receive chemotherapy and the fee for this treatment is $19,500. This would cost Tracey and me $3,900 per treatment and on disability income even I know these numbers don’t add up.

TN AETNA Bronze Deductible
AETNA will not allow us to review this policy until I experience a qualifying life altering event. A qualifying life altering event, according to them, is losing your Insurance policy. Interesting, AETNA is causing this life altering event by choosing to not extend COBRA. We will be able to apply and assess these policies on June 1, 30 days prior to said life altering event.

Self Insure
A Vanderbilt Financial Counselor shared I could pay for the treatments / services Vanderbilt offers out of pocket and they will take 60% off their billing rate. As a patient, I would pay 40% of the amount they bill insurance.

$19,500 Treatment (.40) = $7,800 every two weeks

Obviously, this is not an option.

This happens to be an issue the Murtha family is dealing with. Each of you have a burden, something you are carrying and for the most part you are probably carrying your burdens alone. Susan Ashton had a song a few years ago, I believe it was written by Wayne Kirkpatrick, called Suffering in Silence.

My family and I have chosen to live out loud. We have chosen to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. We have chosen to trust God and the body of Christ with our predicament.

The fact is, I have never been more alive. Never have I understood what it means to surrender, to say yes to Jesus, and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I feel a boldness and joy I have never experienced and we are seeing fruit from our efforts, from this way of living.

Allow me to encourage you to pray for the ability to live in this way. You will never be more alive. There is no better way to live. Simply slow down enough to hear God’s still small voice and do what he asks you to do…join me on the adventure.

The Apostle Paul said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” I believe this with everything in me.

If God wants me here, and if he has continued work for me to do, on this earth, then he will provide a way. If it’s time for me to pass from this life to the next, then I am ready.

As my friend Clark Millspaugh said over 5 years ago, “Either way…I’m golden.” Clark is now in heaven with Jesus and I am certain, when it is my time, he will be one of the first to meet me on the other side.

Thank you.

Kelle Mills – Thank you for your great idea to reach out to Congressman French Hill.
Kristen Marie Grimm – Thank you for introducing me to the TN Justice Center.
Renee Rizzo – Thank you for your willingness to reach out to Congressman Marsha Blackburn for me.

Thanks to the rest of you for your prayers and continued encouragement.

To God be the glory!

Amen.

What Would Have Been.

If life had gone as planned…

  • I would be 51 years old and, deep inside, I would be living a timid and somewhat fearful life.
  • I would have been gainfully employed and focusing most of my time and energy on exceeding next quarters earnings.
  • I would be attempting to follow Jesus using my plan in my way.
  • I would have been working as hard as I could to gain God’s approval, your approval, and the approval of others while being overcome with fear knowing I would never measure up.

The fact is…I would have never understood the joy (the life) found in following Jesus with reckless abandon. I would have never experienced the joy of sensing the promptings of the Holy Spirit and acting in obedience to what He asks me to do.

In God’s grace, He allowed me to get sick so I would slow down and abandon my personal plans thus moving out of the way and learning to love and trust Him by just being. Frankly, I would rather enjoy life this way, the way God intended, if only for a few years than exist for 50+ more years wrapped up in my own small timid plans and the insecurities present in that lifestyle.

“The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians–when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.”
-Sheldon Vanauken

It is my fear, outside of illness, I would have forever been that somber, self-righteous, smug, narrow minded Christian. The one who judges instead of loving others and again…the one who missed the joys found in following Jesus, and His teachings, in the manner in which He intended.

Amen.

Sister Mary Olivia of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia

Sister Mary Olivia of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia

Over the years, while receiving treatment, I have had the privilege of praying with friends from all walks of life. Friends who were Asian, African American, Hispanic, Indian, Middle Eastern, Christian, Agnostic, Jewish, etc. There have been people who were wealthy and poor, successful and day laborers, young and old, a formerly incarcerated inmate covered in tats and today I met and prayed with two nuns.

Sister Mary Olivia is a nun with the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia and while she does not have cancer she is wrestling with a chronic auto immune disease which is treated using chemotherapy. This sister and her friend and fellow nun are passionate followers of Jesus and they are full of love and energy. It was an absolute blast for me to meet them and pray with them.

This is yet another reminder chronic illnesses are no respecters of race, creed, nationality or faith. Illness is an equal opportunity offender, but while illness is set on destroying those it targets often it has the opposite effect on their spirit. Like the sisters I met today.

Yes, there were those today who were dragging around and throwing up in wastebaskets, heck…I’ve been there. There were also those who are attempting to squeeze the life out of every moment, even while enduring a treatment. Sister Mary Olivia is one of those.

She promised she would invite my family and me to their home here in Nashville and I cannot wait to go. Yes, cancer sucks but there are benefits to suffering and today I experienced one of them first hand, I made a friend.

There’s no doubt in my mind God was looking down on the nuns and me this afternoon with a smile. When our kids get along and play well with other kids it brings us joy and I don’t think God the Father is any different.

Amen.

Historically, how has God used you?

Historically, how has God used you?

A number of years ago I was staying at the Montage in Laguna Beach, CA for a Halftime Institute event. The hotel was full of friends, from around the globe, and being in that setting with those friends was magical.

Waking early, as I am apt to do, I grabbed my journal and bible and headed to the lobby in a quest for the world’s best cup of coffee and a comfortable chair. The coffee station was located near a wood burning fireplace so that is where I was drawn.

After making my coffee, I grabbed the corner of a sofa, near the fireplace, and opened my journal when my friend Dave Jewitt sauntered over. Dave is an executive coach from Tulsa, OK and founder of YourOneDegree.com. After a cordial greeting Dave began pouring himself a cup and said, “I have one question for you then I will leave you alone.”

The question is, “Historically, how has God used you?”

True to his promise Dave, fresh coffee in hand, walked away as I was stuck wrestling with his profound question. Why do I believe this question to be profound? Because, if you can truly answer it then it will instruct and guide where you are most likely to be used again and you can then be intentional about where you invest your greatest asset, your time.

Personally, I have never been more alive than when I have obediently done what God, through the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, has lead me to do. From buying beer for men in Kentucky to praying with fellow cancer patients in hospitals and clinics across the country.

One of my favorite quotes is from the book “Wild at Heart” by John Eldridge. The quote is, “Don’t do what the world needs…do what makes you come alive…because what the world needs is for you to come alive.”

From personal experience, I can share there is nothing better than being used by God. There is nothing better than being where your unique, God given, skills meet the worlds need.

If you have seen transformed lives when leading women’s groups, then allow me to encourage you to make time for more of this activity. Or maybe you have seen lives changed as a result of mentoring young men. The ideas and outlets are limitless and whenever you are able to honestly answer the question then allow me to encourage you to double down and go all in.

It reminds me of the parable from Matthew 13, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

This morning, as I ponder Dave’s question, I realize God uses me when I slow down and commit to listen to his still small voice and obediently do what he asks. Often this occurs when I come alongside and meet the need of one fellow patient.

Following these encounters, he uses me as an observer. Someone who is tasked with the responsibility to authentically and vulnerably share what I see and what he has taught me as a result of saying yes to his invitation to join him in his work.

Interesting, he lets me be involved in his work. It is not labor, to the contrary, it is a blessing. It is what I should be willing to embrace with my entire being because it is what brings me life that is truly life.

Over the last 5 years these opportunities have obviously occurred in hospitals, waiting rooms and doctor’s offices. Today is round 66 of chemotherapy, so I am asking you to join me in praying God will allow me to be a part of his plan to bless at least one fellow human being as I make my way from labs to the doctor’s appointment and finally infusion.

Thanks in advance for your prayers.

Amen.

P.S. Historically, how has God used you? Please share your answer to this question below. Your answer could be as simple as – As a foster mom or when I sing, or as a mentor. Please share and do not be humble in your answers…these are God’s gifts to you anyway.

For God so loved that He gave…

Life is found when we give…not when we get. Jesus himself said in Acts, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Yesterday afternoon Tracey and I read chapter 5, “Becoming the Gift the World Needs – and You Need” from “The Broken Way” by Ann Voskamp. This chapter is about how she and her family spent her birthday – giving. It is amazing how far they went to bless their entire community.

Following is a list of things and ways in which they gave.

The gift of…Gladiolas to the residents of the local Nursing Home
“I fill it (the bucket) with water and glads and schlepp a bunch of jar vases over to the nursing home. The kids and I leave them in the doorways of the residents’ rooms, and there’s no missing the beauty of what these have held and what they’re containers for now— or how entire wings of the nursing home light up in these thousand-watt smiles.”

The gift of…song
“When we’re standing in Room 112 with Mr. Bender, he leans worn and tall over us and asks us to sing one more hymn, and I choke it back a bit when he says right at the end, just before we leave that Mason jar of glads with him, ‘Promise you won’t shed a tear when I finally come to the end of my run and I’m not here but have up and gone? You’ll know I am finally home with my God.’”

The gift of…cookies
“Leaving the nursing home, we pass the police car on Main Street in front of Chocolates on Main, and those crazy boys of ours want to leave a box of cookies there on the hood of a sunning police cruiser.”

The gift of…pie
“We grab a pie at Zehrs Markets and drop it off at our doctor’s office and thank him for catching babies.”

The gift of…coffee
“We head to the local coffee shop and pay for a line of coffees behind us (‘Yes, really. Yes, we’re serious. Yes, for real!’).”

The gift of…donuts
“We grab a dozen donuts to deliver to the fine folks at the town office.”

Ann shares, “And there’s this moment, a glance catching my reflection in the coffee shop window, and this grinning, birthing thought: learning the art of living is learning the art of giving. For God so loved that He gave . . .The art of giving is believing there is enough love in you, that you are loved enough by Him, to be made enough love to give.”

The gift of…dinner
“When you walk into a diner across the street and tell the waitress you’re paying for that family’s dinner, it’s a thing you don’t forget, and it feels like an act of re-membering. The waitress laughs and you wink and leave before they’re finished at the all-you-can-eat buffet.”

The gift of…tennis balls
“The boys gift the tennis court with a whole bunch of tennis balls (‘Don’t you think some kids are gonna be surprised, Mom?’).”

The gift of…service & groceries.
“…then the whole lot of us circle over to the grocery store on Mitchell Street, put away grocery carts, grab a few bags of groceries, and drop them off at the food bank.”

The gift of…bubble gum
“Stick quarters into bubble gum machines at Walmart.”

The gift of…groceries
“Scope out the grocery store to buy a cart of groceries for someone.”

The gift of…parking fees
“Tuck parking fees into envelopes, and slide them under windshield wipers for those in the hospital parking lot.”

The gift of…dollars at the Dollar Store
“I don’t even know who has the audacious idea to go up to the dollar store and leave dollars up and down every aisle, but our kids watch unsuspecting kids wander in. Smiles break up every aisle.”

The gift of…lollipops
“This boy in a ball cap stops at the counter and picks up a lollipop we’ve taped a note to: ‘Here’s a dollar. Pick any color. We’re Giving It Forward Today. #BeTheGift.’ His face explodes in this smile.”

Ann goes on to share her daughter, “Hope-girl leans into me, smiling at the sucker-licking boy, and whispers, ‘Don’t you think giving is the greatest?’ She’s smiling like her heart might burst. ‘Look at him! I mean— giving is the most beautiful of all.’”

“I reach over and find Hope’s hand. ‘A good day, Mama, a good birthday day.’ She swings my hand high like those kids at the park. Her smile feels like grace. ‘Nah.’ The Farmer (Ann’s husband) grins, Shalom swinging from his arm. ‘A great day. The best day.’ ‘The kids at the park, at the dollar store, the family in the diner,’ Shalom singsongs the day back to us, all our boys ahead of us walking back to the van. ‘That old man behind us at the coffee shop, those mamas with the babies in the strollers, the family at the grocery store we surprised by buying everything in their cart, and Mr. Bender at the nursing home and all his songs.’”

“We lost the day in love. You can be glued to a screen or glued to your schedule or glued to your stuff— and maybe that’s just a bit of lost living. You can be a slave to getting ahead, a slave to the clock, a slave to convenience, a slave to some ill-advised American dream— and maybe that’s a lot of lost living. Maybe even in a bit of brokenness, grace moves in you to get up and give to people you love and people you’re learning to love, to go to the park and laugh with your kids or any kids, to give an elderly woman a hand and a listening ear and the gift of presence— that’s large living. The greatest living always happens through the givenness.”

Earlier today Bob Goff shared the following quote on Facebook,

“The way we love each other today, lets everybody know the baby in the manger wasn’t just a decoration.”

What if those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ picked an afternoon, between now and when the kids have to go back to school, and went on a gift blitz? What if we prayed for God to open our eyes to how we could be a blessing to others and we went for it?

The Murthas will do this in Brentwood over the next few days and then we will report back what we experienced. Will you join us? Let’s let everyone know that Jesus is much more than a decoration.

Merry Christmas, friends! Merry Christmas, indeed. It is not too late to give.

Amen.

A lot of today’s post is from – Voskamp, Ann. The Broken Way (with Bonus Content): A Daring Path into the Abundant Life. Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Over the holiday’s Jackson, Tracey and I have received Christmas Cards, texts, FaceBook messages, framed lyrics and stories, emails and calls from family and friends and we have loved every one of them. As a matter of fact, they are still arriving.

These cards and messages remind me of the basket Uncle Billy carried into the Bailey home at the end of the film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” When, at the end of the year, the Savings & Loan was thousands of dollars short and faced potential foreclosure. As you already know…word got out and everyone in the community stepped up, wealthy or not, to help George Bailey and his family.

The more I live the more I understand the greatest gift anyone can give, or receive, is the gift of friendship. Consistently I go back to Clarence’s note to George…

Dear George,
Remember no man is a failure
who has friends.
Thanks for the wings!
Love,
Clarence

Why is this movie so moving to me? Why do I cry every time I see Uncle Billy arriving at the Bailey’s home with that basket of money? Why? It’s, I assume, what the money represents.

The money represents a life filled with generosity, service to others and faithfulness. A life of passing on trips, passing on college and passing on moving to more exciting places. Instead, George chose to serve those in his community who may have been stuck under Mr. Potter’s thumb if he hadn’t been faithful to his calling and the Savings & Loan hadn’t existed.

George Bailey stayed in Bedford Falls and he loved and served others in a way that truly made their lives better. He was a friend to all and he believed in his neighbors. It was natural for him to serve others in this way…it was a way of life, if you will.

Was he as wealthy as Sam Wainwright? Not in dollars and cents, but I would venture to say he was the wealthiest man in Bedford Falls and candidly, that’s how I feel.

This year my family and I have had people invest in my health by praying and by giving through a GoFundMe account, set up by friends, to help offset the expenses we incurred pursuing alternative forms of treatment. We have also had friends invest their talents and treasure in helping us start, “Leading with a Limp.”

While it would have been easier to avoid treatments for cancer and the two heart attacks I experienced in 2016, I can honestly say, I feel as though this suffering has placed me exactly where I am supposed to be. It has given me a story of God’s faithfulness and his ultimate provision.

If Uncle Billy hadn’t lost the deposit, there wouldn’t have been a crises. There wouldn’t have been the opportunity for family and friends to step up and let George and his family know how they felt about them. Often the trial and suffering serves as a conduit for blessing…my suffering certainly has.

Today, on December 28, 2016, I am a blessed man.

Yes…I have lost my hair, I no longer have olive colored skin, it is difficult for me to breathe deeply, I have lost the feeling on the bottom of my feet and I have round 66 of chemo scheduled for January 5, but I am blessed. I am blessed with family and friends and opportunities to continue to follow Jesus by acting in obedience to what he asks me to do in service to others.

You have the same opportunity. Allow me to encourage you to listen to Jesus and do what he asks. There is no greater joy this side of heaven.

It truly is a wonderful life!

Amen.

Heart Attack. II Book. II Friends. II Ultimate goal.

What a week!

It is Saturday morning in Brentwood, TN. There is not a cloud in the sky and it is a clear brisk 54 degrees. It has been a great week.

Heart Attack.
Who would have ever thought the week would begin with a heart attack and a quick trip to Vanderbilt? Certainly not me, but that is exactly what happened.
Monday evening, at around 7:30pm, I felt the tightening of my chest and pain shooting down both arms and realized I was having another heart attack. Immediately, I took 2 Nitroglycerin tablets and a Bayer aspirin and Tracey and I headed to the hospital.

Upon arrival the doctors at Vanderbilt wheeled me back to the Cath lab where they were able to solve the problem. The stent I had inserted in early April w
as 100% blocked so they replaced it with another one and I immediately felt 100% better.

The doctors kept me in the hospital until Wednesday afternoon, just for observation, but I feel great. When I mentioned to the cardiologist I was excited to return home so I could get on my bike for a ride he encouraged me to wait a few weeks for that level of activity.

The great news in all of this is there was absolutely no new damage to my heart. So as Bob Buford used to say, “Yeah God!”

Book.
Finally, I feel as though we are making progress with the book. We have actually been making progress all along just now it FEELS like it.  It takes numerous steps to make something like this a reality.

  • Building a team (God has done just that.)
  • Organizing thoughts and categorizing over 300 blog posts (Done.)
  • Drafting additional copy (We are well on our way.)
  • Developing funding (This is going extremely well…thank you.)
  • Etc.

We have a placeholder site at www.LeadingwithaLimp.org and we are working towards a functioning site that will be valuable for people wrestling with embracing who they are, or who God made them to be, and those dealing with chronic / life altering issues. We’re working towards clarity in this space and will get there in God’s timing.

Friends.
God is bringing people into my life who I am excited to know better. People who share a passion for following Jesus and for using their one and only life to change the world. A few who come to mind from this week are Josh Patrick, Joey Lankford and Derek Bell.

Josh PatrickGreg Murtha's photo.
Josh is a fellow cancer patient who is a father, husband, friend and pastor. Josh and I met over a year ago on Facebook (he was here in middle Tennessee and I was in Dallas) when we realized we share a diagnosis and an Oncologist, Dr. Jordon Berlin.

Josh too has Colon cancer and has been through 32 rounds of chemotherapy, I have endured 62. We are able to share common thoughts, concerns, struggles, victories, dreams, etc. It is a Godsend to have a friend who has been there, who understands what 5FU chemotherapy feels like or what it feels like to take a pump home that will administer chemo for 48 continuous hours.

Josh is a good man and he is focusing his energies and efforts on making the most of what he has been given, as am I. He isn’t wasting his cancer and I look forward to hopefully years of challenging one another to be who God created us to be, cancer and all.

Joey Lankford.Greg Murtha's photo.
Joey and I met in the early voting line at the Brentwood Library in Brenthaven, Derek Bell made the introduction. Years ago I had read about Joey and his family selling everything and moving to South Africa to serve the poor, by developing sustainable farming practices. After 6 years in Africa Joey returned to middle Tennessee to establish the same practices here.

Joey has launched www.cul2vate.org and is developing models for churches, government and others to use farming to provide education and an opportunity for prisoners and those in rehab to learn a transferrable skill while providing organic vegetables for restaurants, grocery stores and directly to the most underserved communities.

Yes…while I am trying to follow Jesus, and personally make the most of what I have been given, God graciously sends people my way to walk with me, to challenge me and to help me understand this world is not my home. Derek Bell has been sent my way and God is using his skills and abilities to make what He has called me to do, and be, a reality. Thanks, Derek.Greg Murtha's photo.

As I have shared before, Bob Buford said on a number of occasions, “Gentlemen…I have done the math and eternity is longer than time.” He was right.

Ultimate goal.
The fact is, I believe most of us aren’t giving it all in following Jesus because we are attempting to make our heaven here on this planet. We build monster homes, buy fast cars, invest in vacation properties, take no risks and attempt to make our existence here as pain free as possible.

This will never be our home. It is Hotel Earth, at best and until we realize and embrace this we won’t live the adventure God himself planned in advance for us to experience and enjoy. We are missing out…not him.

Finally, when the cardiologist came by to inform me I would be released from the hospital, on Wednesday afternoon, the first thing he said was, “You have more physical ailments than anyone your age should be wrestling with.” Yes…he was right…what I am dealing with could be overwhelming, but to me it is not. It just happens to be God’s plan for me and I am ok with that.

When I reflect on the people God used to change the world I am brought back to the reality that some of the greatest men in the world weren’t the ones who lived the longest. No. They were the ones who lived with the most intentionality in obedience to who God created them to be and in what he had created them to do.

The fact is they didn’t HAVE to stay here any longer than they did because what they were created to do was done and they were going on to a MUCH better place.

Who were these men?

  • Jesus Christ – Died at 33.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. – Died at 39.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Died at 39.

There are many more.

I am convinced our goal here shouldn’t be longevity, but obedience as this leads to impact and adventure. This leads to LIFE!

Yes, it has been a pretty incredible week. I’ve shared this before, but I’ve never been more alive and for that fact I am thankful.

Amen.

Thank you, Lynda.

Last night Tracey was helping her mom buy a car in Murfreesboro so for dinner Jackson and I were left to fend for ourselves. At Jackson’s encouragement we headed to Cracker Barrel.

Great choice.

As we entered the restaurant we met Lynda. As a hostess, it is her job to welcome us, select a table and lead us to it. She did a stellar job on every point.

Lynda was very kind and we had a spirited conversation about their giant fireplace and my history of not opening the damper, in our home, and filling it with smoke when I try to start a fire. A few weeks ago Tracey filled our home with smoke as she was making beans at midnight. She fell asleep and the rest was history – smoke alarms screeching at 12:40am is absolutely no fun, however, the stories after the experience are.

Lynda shared she was originally from San Antonio, Texas but she has been in Tennessee for over 30 years. She is a big fan of Franklin, as am I, and she said her move was precipitated with God telling her Tennessee was for her. God and I have had a similar conversation.

After a few minutes of conversation Lynda left us with Troy, our waiter, and headed back to the front to serve the next guest. What a sweet woman and that was it…or so I thought.

A half hour later Lynda came to the back of the restaurant, where Jackson and I were, to tell us good night and good bye because she was leaving for the night. We told her how great it was to meet her and out of nowhere I shared we too had lived in Texas.

See…last year, at this time, we were in Dallas, but we chose to move back to middle Tennessee because the cancer I had been battling had moved to my lungs. It was then we decided to focus on our family and to battle cancer in an environment that brings me life.

Lynda shared that, although I have lost my hair, due to the spirit of God and the life he gives me she would have never guessed I was a cancer patient. It was then she leaned into Jackson and me and asked…do you believe in the healing power of Jesus Christ?

Yes, we do…I responded.

Lynda shared the same power that raised Jesus from the dead was available to me. She shared God is still in the healing business and she asked if I would be ok if she laid hands on me and prayed.

Of course…I responded.

So right there, in the Cracker Barrel restaurant, at 7:30pm the back dining area became a place of prayer. Jackson bowed his head and Lynda came over and placed her hands on my shoulders and she prayed God would heal me.

This wasn’t just a little silent affair, no, Lynda approached the throne of God as if we were at the local Assemblies of God church. She begged God to do what only he can, she quoted scripture and she blessed me by taking the time and showing she cared in the best way possible.

As I type I have tears streaming down my face because I know what Lynda did for me could have actually jeopardized her job. I am certain there are protocols she overlooked and rules she broke, but she didn’t seem to care. No…what she cared about was doing what she had been led to do and that was put me first by praying for my healing.

In the past I have shared there is a gift that comes with cancer and this is just another example of that gift. All I can say is thank you Lynda and thank you God for demonstrating for me you care. Thanks for modeling what obedience looks like, to me and to my son, in the back dining area of Cracker Barrel.

Just…thank you.

Amen.

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