Old Brain, New Tricks: Romans 8:1-2

Many consider Romans 8 the greatest chapter in the Bible. I am not qualified to opine, but I cannot think of any better.

I’ve been challenged several times in my life to memorize Romans 8 (what?! an entire chapter!) In the past I’ve failed miserably, blaming my old brain. I’ve been challenged again recently and will take up the flag again.

Romans 8:1-2:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8

Life in the Spirit

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Heirs with Christ

12 So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i]against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The 7 Secret Habits of Baby Seals

During a discussion recently I misheard someone talking about the 7 secret habits of ‘baby seals’: He really said ‘7 Secret Habits of Navy SEALs‘, a must-read article.  Below is my adaptation for baby seals.  While everyone agrees on their extreme cuteness factor, failure to practice these 7-habits can often lead to baby seals only fulfilling their extreme tastiness factor.

  1. Be loyal. Navy SEAL loyalty to the team starts at the top. SEAL loyalty is about leading by example, with unconditional support for team members.  But loyalty also starts with some idea of what you stand for. Baby seals don’t get the idea of loyalty, often swimming off on their own, making them more likely to be a tasty snack for a Great White.  When they discover loyalty it often has them blindly following other baby seals, which also lead to becoming a tasty snack.
  2. Put others before yourself. Navy SEALs get up every day asking what they can do to add value to their team.  As cute as they are, the only time baby seals put others before themselves is when the pod of Killer Whales is chasing them: “Don’t need to swim fast; just faster than the NEXT seal”!
  3. Be reflective. A Navy SEAL reflects on mistakes to make sure they don’t repeat them.  Baby seals’ shiny coats are reflective but beyond that they make mistakes over and over again without any reflection, a fact polar bears rely on.
  4. Be obsessively organized. Navy SEALs know that organization is critical, and they need to fanatically find a system and make it work for them!  Anyone that has watched baby seals know that beyond swimming in a line – a veritable automated sushi line for Leopard seals – baby seals like many other young animals are clueless about organization, nor the perseverance required to maintain it.
  5. Assume you don’t know enough. A Navy SEAL understands that training is never complete, that those who assume they know everything should be eliminated, and that those who spend time inside and outside of the workplace developing their knowledge and skills provide the momentum for their team’s forward progress.  Baby seals exhibit this behavior when they are young and stick closely to their parents.  But too quickly the baby seals take off swimming on their own and stop learning from those more experienced.
  6. Be detail-oriented. Navy SEALs pride themselves on their attention to detail, asking all team members to be obsessed with detail in their execution, to ask not ‘what’ you are going to do, but also ‘how’ you are going to do it.  Baby seals rarely get to the ‘what’ question, instead choosing to live each moment chasing that little squirrel fish on their way to becoming a large marine mammal play toy.
  7. Never get comfortable. Navy SEALs always push themselves outside of their comfort zone, maximizing their potential for a positive impact in their team, their mission and their community.  Baby seals too quickly snuggle up to their parents where safety and comfort are plentiful.

So where on the Navy SEAL / baby seal spectrum do you find yourself?  Are you relying too much on your ‘cute’ factor?  Or are you becoming a finely-tuned, precision instrument that can be used to benefit your circle of influence?!

I’m Not Dead Yet Day #8

Thanks to all who prayed!  I’m convinced your prayers miraculously healed me and changed my PETScan results:  other than lymphomas found on face, no other areas of concern!  Stage IIAE Nongastric MALT Lymphoma in the parotoid glands is the detailed diagnosis. Treatable (radiation), not curable, 75% non-recurrence after 5 years.  I’ve copied the NCCN treatment plan for this below.


Next steps

  • Bone marrow biopsy Wed 8/30 11:00 to eliminate chance of different, more-serious issue (rare, <3% of cases)
  • Radiation consultation in 2 weeks for approximately 10 rounds of radiation therapy probably in September.
  • Johns Hopkins 2nd Opinion in 2 weeks.
  • Depending on test results, rheumatalogist for Sjogrens Syndrome.
  • Find a new caffeine delivery mechanism.

Observation #1

Did I already say my wife is the best?!  She still is..  But NO CRYING IN McDONALDS!!  😉

Observation #2

I continue to be impressed with Dr. Reninger and the entire Hematology & Oncology Consultants organization!  Thanks to Beth Persun for the recommendation and referral, and Kevin Lutz and Greg Willis for their great insights!  Thanks to all who passed on their recommendations!

Observation #3

I originally posted on Facebook because so many were asking me for updates, I thought I’d get the info out faster that way.  What I did not expect was the FB avalanche of prayers, best wishes, etc.  THANK YOU ALL!  I will continue to provide updates via FB for those of you interested in my saga.

Observation #4

I remain convinced that my extreme regimen of Diet Mt Dew somehow contributed to this condition.  I’ve given up all aspartame and am looking into other options for daily caffeine delivery.  Not a huge water or coffee drinker, and I learned that VitaminWater is just fancy sugar water (say it ain’t so).  Would love to know what YOU do.

Doc said that my poor BMI doesn’t help me increase those 75% odds either so I hope to be dropping some LBS in the near future.

Observation #5

My original post made reference to the Mark Twain misquote “Rumors of my imminent demise are greatly exaggerated”.  My apologies to those who took that as a dire statement, and to those who know it was a misquote (he actually wrote “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”).  Today’s post celebrates those who fought through the Black Plague and an Arrow in Arthur’s England.

While obviously a terrible condition, mine pales in comparison to some of the people I am praying for (some listed below).  My prayers to them for healing, strength, peace.

  • My dad
  • My wife (putting up with me!)
  • My friend Kevin (family cancer and other issues)
  • My friend FR (cancer)
  • My friend Tom (cancer)

Observation #6

My devotions this week centered on the concept of ‘yielding’ to God.  So often I try to make decisions for this, for that, for God, against Evil.  This cancer experience – the sheer ‘this is out of my control’ feeling – has re-enforced my need to yield to God:  He is in control.  When I yield to Him I experience His peace and strength.  This devotional based on Matthew 3:11 may give you some insights into my current thinking.  If you want to learn more, a rebel force of men meet in Mechanicsburg every Mon 6:30am at the Panera near Chick-Fil-A, or in Harrisburg every Fri 7:00am at The Hub, 2225 Sycamore St.

Treatment Guidelines


Imminent Demise Day #5

Thanks so much for the prayers, the encouragement, the guidance from friends and family.  I am truly surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses!


1.       Lymphoma diagnosis is a ‘non-hodgkins MALT’ lymphoma, supposedly slow growing and high probability of cure.

2.       I am working with 2 local oncology/hematology groups (Dr. Reninger, Hershey Med Cancer Inst), and may reach out to a third (Andrews Patel)

3.       PETScan on Thu 8/24 10:30am, Dr Appt Fri 8/25 2pm.  The PETScan will reveal how far it has spread.

Observation #1

I have always had the greatest respect for Hershey Med.  My ENT team did a great job!  However, after my ENT specialist notified me of my imminent demise on Thu, I was disappointed in what happened next:  no info (phone calls, emails, text); I called to find out what was going on and what I should expect and they said triage of patients was done on Mondays.  On Tue I got a call to schedule an office appointment on Thu.

Compare that to Dr. Reninger:  weekends calls from friends and doctor that referred him, Mon 8am call from him, PETScan scheduled in 3 days, appointment after the scan.

I grew up with MASH and totally get the idea of triage, and the fact that in this domain I might be the guy who gets aspirin and is told to wait in the waiting room.  But the little things go along way.

Observation #2

I continue to be amazed at how God is before me on every front.  If you do not have a church family and/or are not meeting with a bunch of guys on a regular basis, you should be!  Thanks to all my friends and brothers on the Monday Panera team, the Tue & Thu Tremendous teams, the Fri Hub team, and the Sat Matthew Bible Study team, and of course the great saints at Aldersgate in Mechanicsburg!

Observation #3

My apologies to the rest of you who may the 2nd best wife in the world, but I have THE BEST WIFE IN THE WORLD!  Love you Sheryl!  (How God arranged that one remains possibly the biggest miracle/mystery in my life).

Observation #4

Everyone should have a sibling that is a doctor:  Thanks Delmi for always being there and providing great insights and comfort!