This article is part of a series which might be better understood by starting at the first post.
Pistis Means Having Faith AND Being Faithful
faith" in the New Testament is the Greek word "pistis". Strong's Concordance definition states:
1) conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it
2) fidelity, faithfulness
When people speak of having faith in Christ, they often make it appear to be a one-way street. They use it to express their beliefs about God and what He will do for them. But embodied in the word Pistis is not just our belief in God, but our simultaneous faithfulness to Him. In fact, I would venture to say that you cannot have one without the other. IF you have faith in God (believe He is who He is), then you WILL be faithful to Him (obey what He says).
This made the decision to obey God in my cancer treatment a pretty easy one for me. Although some thought it took a lot of courage, I am almost embarrassed to say that it felt like the easy way out. What? You mean God is telling me what to do? Great! What else is there to wonder about? It simply doesn't get any easier than that. :-)
My first lesson: Faith IN God is expressed by being faithful TO God's words.
Not everyone was so supportive. Deciding to follow God's direction taught me about a world with which I was not familiar. I had no idea about the conflict of interests that exist between the medical community, the FDA, the ACS, and the pharma companies. Until then, whatever the doctors said, that is what I did. Afterall, they were the experts, right?
I did not know that in some places in this country, doctors can lose their medical license if they recommend any cancer treatment other than chemo and radiation. I didn't know that ties between the FDA & Pharma companies creates real conflicts that prevent successful alternative cancer treatments from being fully vetted for the public arena. What does any of this matter? It served as a reminder to me that the whole world lies in the wicked one (I John 5:18-19). Through this experience, God was showing me the borders of my faith and allowing me to see just how much I still unconsciously depended on aspects of the world.
Pam Hoeppner (author of The Breast Stays Put) is another woman who successfully battled cancer using the Protocel treatment. In an interview about her experience, she once shared, "God leads, the devil pushes." This is so true. Once a cancer diagnosis is given, you barely have a minute to think. Within my first day of diagnosis, I was asked to sign-off on a plan that included surgery in 2 weeks, followed by 2 months of chemo 2 weeks after that, then 5 weeks of radiation, and unknown months on a chemo pill. Declining to pursue this plan dumbfounded my doctors. While they agreed to continue to monitor me, in their opinion I was "doing nothing" about my cancer and needlessly playing Russian Roulette with my life. Each visit I was faced with the same scenario, "When would I be ready to begin real treatments of chemo and radiation."
My second lesson: Someone else's impression of what we should do - even brothers or sisters in the Lord - is NO substitute for being obedient to what God has said. We should never choose the word of man over the word of God.
When I explained to the director that God had told me to take Protocel, his response was, "Well, you must do as God says." I was amazed and felt that this would be the perfect place to help monitor my progression. There was only one isssue, the treatments this center offered (while clearly effective) were not compatible with the Protocel treatment God told me to take.
I shared the info I had on Protocel with the director, for he was not familiar with it. He promised to read up on it and create a treatment plan built around the Protocel. However, on my next visit, his news was devastating, "The Protocel was a very good anti-oxidant, however there was nothing in Protocel that is going to fight cancer." I could still take it, he said, but I should not use that as my sole means of fighting cancer. He recommended a regime of treatments offered by His center that I knew to be counter-effective to Protocel. Now what was I to do??
I had found a medical center led by a God-fearing man, who I knew had effective alternative cancer treatments based on the patients I had spoken with. However, even this Christian man did not believe I should use Protocel for my cancer treatment. I felt like the man of God from Judah in I Kings Chapter 13. In this text, God had given the man specific orders and told him that to stray from these directions would result in his death. He followed God's orders faithfully until he was confronted by another prophet with a different message. That prophet stated:
"I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him." (I Kings 13:18)
Who was the man of God to believe? The words he had heard from God Himself, or the "prophetic word" from a man who claimed to have had a vision? Had God changed His mind from what He said originally? Although the doctor's news stunned me, I knew I was being faced with a similar choice. Would I obey what God had told me or would I rely on someone else's thoughts about what I needed to do? Had God led me to this Christian doctor in the exact type of facility I was hoping for? Or, was this merely an opportunity to do what I wanted at the expense of what God had told me? In the end of course, I Kings tells us that what God proclaimed occurred and the man from Judah died for his disobedience.
My third lesson: When God gives direction, be strong enough to walk it out with Him...alone if necessary.
God was silent. Afterall, why should He repeat what He had already stated? Like the man of Judah, I could either obey or I could turn and put my faith in another man of God as justification for me doing what I had really wanted to do all along.
I realized just how tempting this was. As long as we have a "Moses" - someone else who is responsible for hearing from God and giving us instruction - we can duck accountability. We can do what we want while claiming to be Godly, and at the same time blame the "man of God" who gave us the direction if anything goes wrong. This is the basis of most religious activity. We don't take the time to truly know and follow God because deep down inside we want to do what we want to do. So instead of dealing with God directly, we find a "man or woman of God" who allows us to have our own way and just follow them.
The only problem is that Moses died. God is calling all men to come unto Him through repentance (turning away from) our own ways. We can no longer hide behind the calling of another as an excuse for our own disobdience. I had to stop trying to find someone to "go with me" other than God. Jesus was my doctor and my healer. Who else did I need? Yet, the flesh was crying out for someone else to take the burden and responsibility of managing this for me. I had to find the resolve to follow what God said regardless of whether the world accepted and received it.
My fourth lesson: Silence the voice of the devil. Do not entertain thoughts that sow doubt.
Through the fear and anxiety of loved ones, the devil continued to try to instill fear into me. They would question, "What if it doesn't work? What doctor is going to monitor you? How often are you going to be tested? Why don't you come talk to other specialists? What if the test results come back worse?" I finally had to take a strong stance with these individuals and tell them that I would no longer entertain their questions or doubts. There comes a point and time when the doubt of others can start to steal your peace. Fear is not an inanimate emotion, it is a spirit. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (II Timothy 1:7). Satan desires to impart a spirit of fear into you through the words of others.
During this time, I had a dear friend and sister in the Lord who was also battling cancer. She was diagnosed years before me and had been following a chemo regime; however, her cancer had continued to spread and grow. Of course, there were lots of opinions about what she should do for her treatment. All the voices and all the options proved to be very confusing for her. Her doctor had one opinion, her husband another, her family and friends had others still. She tried a variety of herbal treatments, alternatives, conventional treatments, etc.
The hardest thing to watch in her treatment was not even her deteriorating health, it was her lack of certainty about what to do. She seemed to search for an answer, and my heart ached to give her one, but it was an answer I could not provide. My only advise was to seek the Lord for what she should do. I would have loved to tell her to take the Protocel treatment that God had led me to, but I could not. I had no knowledge whatsoever that this is what Jesus wanted her to do, and I could not assert otherwise.
This dear sister went on to be with the Lord this summer, but prior to that she told me, "I believe that the results you are receiving is because you have been faithful to what God told you to do." I agreed. It was not the treatment I was on as much as it was hearing from and obeying God's direction. It was by the blood of Jesus that I was healed, and I had accepted this as fact once I made up my mind to follow His commands. Seeing this also helped to renew her faith in God and gave her mind rest. It was a joy to see the peace and confidence in Christ that she had in her latter days. In spite of the frailty of her body, her spirit remained strong and she was a mighty witness to Christ until the end.
My fifth lesson: Do not fear death. Know that this life if temporal but that eternal life awaits those who love and serve the Lord.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." (Hebrews 2:14-15)
It is the fear of death that makes us subject to the bondage of the devil. Once we begin to understand that the end of this life is only the beginning of true eternal life, then the devil has no hold on us.
Death is not this horrible occurance for those who are in Christ; it is not a great sorrow to die. Paul stated in fact that he would prefer to be absent in the body so that he could be present with the Lord. The world seeks to captivate you because the god of this world - Satan - wants us to believe that this is all there is. So what does he do? He attempts to keep the people focused on the world while searching for things in this world. He wants you to believe that this world is your home.
This is why prosperity doctrines, kingdom now theologies, and other false, worldly gospels are so dangerous. They set your mind on things below, and not things above. God is not trying to redeem this world! He is redeeming a precious treasure out of this world (John 15: 19; John 17:6). The purpose of the Gospel and indeed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is not so that we can have "good lives" here in the earth (however that is defined). The purpose is to address Satan's rebellion by reconciling the world unto Him through the righteousness in Jesus Christ.
If the devil cannot woo you with worldly rewards, then he will attempt to threaten you with a worldly demise. However, Jesus said, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28) Facing the cancer diagnosis made my mortality just that much more clear to me. I had to ask myself, "Am I prepared to die?" After some reflection, I was able to say, "Yes."
Now before someone starts claiming that I have a death wish, there is a difference between not caring about being alive and being prepared to die. I know who holds my life and I know that when I leave here, I will go to be with Jesus. I was and am prepared to die. While there were reasons why I still wanted to live (my family, additional purposes to fulfill in serving the Lord, etc.), I knew that death had lost its sting. I was not panicked about the prospect of leaving this earth.
My life and my death are in the hands of the Lord. Knowing this is a true freedom maker. The threat of death is an empty one because this life is temporal anyway. God has not promised us tomorrow. But He has promised that nothing shall harm us...and that includes death. Not because you won't die, but because you will yet live after death with Christ. Whether it is cancer or some other cause, you will die one day. All that matters is whether you have died in Christ.
Read the next part of the article