27 May 2011

"You're a good man, Bill Boren!"

She said loudly, "You're a good man, Bill Boren!" These were the last words to which my dad was able to respond.  When Maggie, the speech pathologist at BSA hollered them at my dad, he opened his eyes a little and shrugged his shoulders.  Maggie smiled and said, "Does that mean you already knew that?"  Dad nodded his head, with a bit of a sly grin on his lips.

This happened on Monday morning, May 23rd.  On the previous Friday, about lunch, Mom heard dad fall in the living room, and ran in to find him on the floor, paralyzed and unable to speak.  He'd had what the doctors later called, "A very large stroke."  I was on the road back to Amarillo from some meetings in Albuquerque when she called.  I made it back to Amarillo and BSA hospital just a few minutes before the life-flight helicopter landed with Dad.  He was unconscious, having been sedated by the flight crew for being 'combative.'  I don't doubt it.  He's pretty feisty.  He was a fighter, and continually kept fooling the medical people on his prognoses.

Corporal Bill Boren, ca. 1955

He made some gradual progression in the ER and they moved him up to a regular floor on Saturday morning.  He was able to awaken himself for a few minutes at a time, and by Sunday, was able to stay awake and alert for fifteen to thirty minutes at a time, and could recognize his grandkids and hold their hands.  He also recovered some movement in his right side.  Things were looking positive.

But on Monday, things went downhill.  He could only stay awake for about an hour total on Monday, and was less responsive.  By Tuesday, he was only awake for about 5 minutes total, and even the Doc doing a knuckle-rub on his sternum could not waken him by Tuesday night.  We had been talking about long-term rehab; now we started talking about hospice.  Because of the damage (immediate and residual) from the stroke, he was now functioning at what the doctors called, "a brain-stem level".

We moved him to hospice care on Wednesday evening.  The doctor and nurses at hospice all said they didn't expect him to make it through the night.  I bet them he would, and of course I won.  He just won't give up.  He never has given up on anything in his life.

When he was in high school, he was an outstanding pitcher. He threw nine no-hitters his senior year.  He went off to college at West Texas State College and played both basketball and baseball there, briefly.  He was a math major and had straight As, but decided college wasn't for him and took off for a job.  He met my Mom the next year and married; they bought a piece of land on Saddle Mountain, west of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and settled in to ranching.  He had been hoping to be drafted into Major League Baseball, and actually had scouts from the St. Louis Cardinals at a few of his games, but unfortunately and fortunately (at the same time), Uncle Sam did the drafting before the Cards came calling.

He spent two years in the Army, and was headed for Korea when just a week before the end of basic training, the cease-fire accords were signed at Panmunjom. He did the rest of his tour at Fort Bliss in the anti-aircraft artillery.  He wasn't a slacker in the army, either.  He did so well in basic he was made squad leader, and promoted to Corporal upon graduation.  Instead of one of the mundane jobs that most privates got, he ended up as the driver for a General.

The ranch they bought in Colorado would be worth millions of dollars today had they kept it, but upon being inducted into the US Army, his pay wouldn't allow him to make the payments on the note, and the ranch was sold.  So, he went into farming for himself, eventually ending up on his Dad's land near Kerrick, Texas.  He was still farming as of a few weeks ago, his health notwithstanding.  Not a quitter.  He never considered full retirement...it just wasn't an option.

Dad working his garden, Spring 2000

 As tough as he was, he didn't have enough gas left in the tank to keep fighting the damage from the stroke. He spent most of the week in a terrific struggle just to draw a breath...thirty or forty seconds of Cheyne-Stokes breathing followed by twenty to thirty seconds of apnea.  I don't care how tough you are, that's impossible to sustain for long.  He went on to glory about 7:30 a.m. on Friday, May 27th.  Here's a link to his obituary.

He wanted things simple, and we are keeping to that wish.  We'll have a grave-side service with military honors at the Stratford Cemetery on Tuesday the 31st at 11 a.m.

My kids have been a bit curious why I haven't been emotional and crying and upset and all those things you see on TV when someone dies.  I've tried to use this as a teaching moment.  As I explained to them, I really do believe all those things you hear in church about heaven and grace and faith.  Dad was a believer.  His kids are all believers, and his grandkids are all believers.  He did his job, and did it well.  I have no doubt about where he is now, and the thought of that excites me for him rather than makes me sad.  He's struggled with his health (heart disease, the onset of Alzheimer's, all the stuff that goes with being nearly 80 years old in a body worn out by years of hard work on a farm, etc.) for a long time.  He isn't having to fight that battle now.  He spent the last week expending tremendous amounts of energy just trying to breathe...that's over with as well.  And ever greater (and hard to comprehend), he's no longer struggling with sin.  In the sermon on the mount, Christ told us that, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."  Because of Christ's work on the cross, and his perfect sinless life, imputed to us upon our saving faith in him, we will one day be 'pure in heart', as Dad is now.  That's how he can stand in the presence of the Lamb in glory.  I'm happy for him!

I'm sure there will be times of nostalgia and memories that will bring tears to my heart, if not my eyes, but those are mostly selfish in that I am impatient to see him again.  But see him again I know I shall, because of the faith that unites us as not only father-and-son, but brother-to-brother.  Wow.

Yes, Bill Boren was a good man.  He was a great dad, a good friend, a wise confidant, and a loving Grandpa.  But now, he's not only posse non peccare, he's non posse peccare, standing in the presence of the Lord and praising Him face-to-face...showing us how relative the term 'good' is.  I always hoped I'd be as good a man as my dad.  Now, he's set the standard pretty high, and the only way I'll ever achieve it is through the righteousness of Christ, because I certainly can't measure up on my own, as if I ever could have in the first place.  This process just completes the picture for us.

I'll close with this verse from a favorite hymn, "Valley of the Shadow"-

For the child of God, resting in Jesus
It's just a journey to a heavenly place;
And the sting of death has been defeated
Through the blood of Jesus and amazing grace!

In the valley of the shadow, death will hold no sting for me,
I'll be resting in the arms of Jesus, and with him I'll ever be;
And with him I'll ever be.


24 May 2011

Not Much

I haven't been able to post much this month.  Dad is in ICU after having a stroke, and I've spent most of my time there and at work.

His prognosis isn't very good, and I appreciate any prayers anyone can offer.

14 May 2011

I Hate It When I Do That!

I thought of a brilliant idea today for a blog post.  It was a witty way to start a serious conversation about something important.  It would have been original, which is unusual in the blog world (which tends to be a giant echo chamber).

I didn't write it down.  As Tom Clancy made famous in one of his books, "If you don't write it down, it never happened."  As I get older, that fact becomes more clear.  I guess I must have forgotten it when I had the thought, or I'd have followed my own advice and written it down.

Oh, well. Maybe I'll think of it later.  (Probably when I'm not near the computer and don't have a pen and paper to write it down.)

This brings to mind another idea- is the fall (as in Genesis, Adam and Eve, etc.) partially or totally responsible for our poor memories?  If so, in what ways?  At least I'll be able to look back at this this blog post to see what I forgot I was to write about later. 

At least, I can if I remember where I wrote it down.

12 May 2011

The Microburst

We had our first thunderstorm here since last Fall.  Tuesday night, about 1 am, a storm moved through.  Unfortunately, we got about 0.07" of rain instead of the three or four we needed.  We did get the wind and damage.  Here's the big tree in front of my office.

Sorry about the rotation...no idea how to make the blog editor fix that.

Fortunately, nothing other than the tree itself was broken.  This makes me think of how much damage the Alabama storms did.  According to the weather folks, we had a microburst as one of the thunderstorms was breaking up.  It produced a wind gust of 84 mph.  That's less than half what the EF-4 twister did in Alabama.  Wow.

It's all about perspective.

05 May 2011

What We Need (Obscure Lectures)

I just ran across a set of three talks given by Sinclair Ferguson at a Desiring God conference way back in 1990.  It was on universalism, by the way, which is a hot topic right now...probably a lot hotter than it was in 1990.  There was no way to know about these talks other than finding them by chance.

What we need- a web site that lists links to all these 'lost' talks by good folks like Dr. Ferguson, and like Carson/Dever/Piper/Sproul/Chandler/Keller/Tchividjian/Horton/Ortlund/and-so-on.  I almost never get to hear any of these things live, and can usually only find stuff if it's on a particular person's (or his ministry's) web site.  These talks that get put in obscure places are effectively lost except to those who put them there.

Any of you who read this blog (not many, I know!) and can get the word out to the YRR blogger types please do so.  I'd love to have a way to access these hard-to-find talks, sermons, and conference messages.  These messages are too valuable to lose in the vast expanses of the internet.

03 May 2011

We are the Friend of God, but God is Not Our Friend...Huh?

I ran across a line in D. A. Carson's book, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God last night that really made me think.  Carson says, "No where in scripture is God or Jesus ever spoken of as our friend."

Now, I immediately had the same reaction you might have when you read the title of my blog post.  You remember, just as I did, that scripture talks about us being friends, right?  Well, go re-read that passage (James 2:23 if you've misplaced it).  It talks about us being the friend of God...but not the other way around.  How is that possible?

Carson uses this illustration, which I've edited a bit for clarity.  He uses the illustration of a military officer and an enlisted man.  In one case, the officer has known the man's family for years and watched him grow up.  He says, "Jim, go get the Hummer.  I need you to drive me to a meeting at HQ.  While I'm in the meeting, you can use the Hummer to run around or go catch a movie.  Just be back to pick me up at 1600."  No problem then, if the enlisted man goes to a movie in the Colonel's Hummer.

In the other case, the two are not acquainted.  The Colonel says, "Corporal, go get the Hummer.  I need you to drive me to the HQ for a meeting.  I'll be finished at 1600."

The corporal then responds, "Only on one condition, sir.  I want to take the Hummer and catch a movie.  It'll be over by 1630...just wait for me and I'll pick you up when I'm done."  Problem?  I'd say three-hots-and-a-cot is in store for the corporal.

Do you see the difference between the corporal being a friend of the Colonel, and the Colonel being a friend of the corporal?

Why is this relationship with God important?  Well, we've managed to screw it up pretty royally in our churches today, and this sermon jam from Richard Ganz is a pretty good illustration of why it's a problem.

This is another reason why you (who know me) hear me rail against Jesus-is-my-boyfriend music...it is a theological distortion of significant proportion.  I love the line from The Voice's song, WDJD- "...Jesus is not your homeboy, your dog; he is God and will bite you, hard and right through...".

Click that link and download the song and listen to it...there's more depth in it than any hundred Jesus-prom-songs combined.  And get Carson's book.  It only takes about an hour to read the whole thing.  It's an hour well-spent.

02 May 2011

A Couple Worth Repeating

I noted a couple of excellent blog posts this weekend, and I'll pass them along.

If you are worried you might be addicted to Facebook, Twitter, et al., this blog from Tim Challies is a must-read (it's worth a read even if you aren't addicted).

Then, this post from Trevin Wax on Humility and Humor was just outstanding.  If you only read one blog a day, read Challies'.  If you read two, read Challies' and Wax's.  (Of course, you can always read mine as well!)

Of course, if you read Challies, you've already seen the next one.  But if not, it is worth looking at.

This is an article on why Genesis 1 and 2 are not poetry, but historical narrative.  (Yes, this is important.)

Good reading!