Updates from the back of the pen
I have been writing this newsletter for about six months, and I thought this might be a good time to share a bit of my own story.
I have always been a bit of a black sheep, but not just because of my troubled youth. Yes, I made a good many foolish choices in my high school years. Like a lot of kids in the late sixties and early seventies, I did my share of experimenting on the wild side. I made a mess of things and hurt and embarrassed a good many of my friends and my family. But God in his mercy saved me from myself and set my feet on a better and different path.
Surprisingly, when I started following Jesus, I discovered that there was a good part of my black sheepness that God actually wanted to redeem and use for good. That took me aback, because one of the biggest hurdles for me about Christianity was the presupposition that my commitment to Christ would translate into a straight-laced, straight-faced, unexciting existence.
It has been anything but!
My favorite parable is found in Luke 15. In it Jesus talks about a shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep in the pen, in order to seek out the one that lost its way. It’s my favorite story because I readily identify with the one that strayed. But once the Lord brought me back into the fold, he said, Piet, you know what it’s like to feel like an outsider. You know the experience of having disappointed people dear to you. You know what it’s like to live with regret. If you will allow me, I’d like you to use you and your story to reach other lost sheep. In fact, I’d like you to shepherd these black sheep types on my behalf.
It never ceases to amaze me that God would allow me a place in his redemptive work in the world and that he would continue taking pleasure in using me in the cause – because even as a Christian and a pastor, I have made my share of poor choices. Nevertheless, I have known his favor, and through the discipline of his loving correction and leadership, I have known so much joy in his service.
My prayer each week, is that every less-than perfect black sheep messenger, who knows the shame and heartache of being seen as less-than, will also be reminded that God really does take special delight in using imperfect people as purveyors of the message that his grace really does cover it all!
Word of the Week
Noun: serious thought or consideration
Looking back can be a helpful exercise, and this is the time of year when people tend to do that. We look back to evaluate. It’s a good practice. It reminds us of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. But it’s also easy to get stuck in the past, revisiting poor choices, obsessing over things we wish had gone different and injustices that ought not have taken place. Those preoccupations quickly become a state-of-mind where the past defines our present. It need not be so. Shift the focus. Learn whatever lessons need to be learned and move on. Let’s allow our preoccupation to be centered on a purposeful remembrance of God’s goodness and faithfulness, and may those memories be our source of hope and strength as we look to the year ahead.
Health Experts Worth Listening To
Hubermann, Attia, Patrick, Lyon
CNI: Conflicting Nutritional Information is negatively associated with exercise behavior and dietary choices… (National Library of Medicine)
I am sure I am not the only one who is frustrated by the conflicting information ‘out there’ about health and fitness. It is confusing and extremely demotivating. Since my cancer diagnosis, I have done a good bit of research on the topic and have concluded that attending to your own health is a personal matter. Everyone must figure out for themselves what works in/with their own body. And I believe the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth – even when it comes to how we care for our bodies. That said, I do think it is helpful to access good information from people and sources you can trust. After listening to and reading a lot of different people, these are the folks that I have found most helpful Andrew Huberman, Peter Attia, Rhinda Patrick, and Gabrielle Lyon.
A personal request
Pocket Prayer: O Lord, complete the good work you have begun in me!
This is my friend, Stacey Gorham. This past week was her one-year anniversary of her cancer diagnosis. On December 15, 2022, she was told that she had a rare form carcinoma, aggressive, invasive, Her2 breast cancer. Though devastated by the news, she mustered up the courage to explore a variety of treatment options and decided to deal with it holistically. I met her at Hope4Cancer last January. Since then, she has noticed significant improvement in all her numbers, and has been declared NED (no evidence of visible or detectable cancer at the moment). She continues to stay faithful to her nutritional disciplines to prevent recurrence. With a heart of sincere gratitude she asks that we join her in those prayers.
Pocket Prayers Backstory
“Even a black sheep knows that the soul needs to be fed…”
Thankfully the devotionals have been shipped and should arrive sometime this week. For those who ordered advance copies they will be shipped to you ASAP. For those who live in the Austin area, we also have pick up locations around town. Details will be released on my Facebook page. Also, for those who have an interest in knowing a bit of the backstory of how the devotional came to be, I gave a talk at Shoreline Church a few weeks ago, that might be of interest. You can watch it HERE. Message starts 23 minutes in.