Exciting News

October 12, 2014 — Leave a comment

It gives me great honor and joy to be able to share the news that Rod’s long awaited for textbook is now in hand. Reading Koine Greek from Baker Publishing Group is now in my hands. Unfortunately, the public will have to wait a few weeks before it is available. When it arrived, I sat down and quickly skimmed through it and knew Rod would have been very pleased with it. It was a bittersweet moment as the excitement and joy of having it in hand was hard to contain, but knowing Rod would never have the opportunity to see or use it brought tears so I had to set the book aside so as not to ruin it.

The joy of seeing the product of many years (about 25) of work of formulating his style and teaching as he broadened his understanding of Greek over those years through expanding the material as well as techniques of teaching, allowing it to grow into this volume. Then thinking of the past few years of actually getting it into a publishable format, proof reading it ourselves over and over, checking grammar, and on and on, and to see it finally in print was a bit overwhelming.

Baker has done an excellent job in the actual printing and overall presentation of the book. I was surprised at the size of it, but shouldn’t have been after the many times of working through it in the proofing stages. The illustrations (although Rod’s) have been displayed in such a way that it adds to the overall look of the book. My hat’s off to the editors at Baker who so graciously worked with us (yes, I feel I had a part in this too) and kept us informed and have continued to keep me posted even after Rod’s home going. They shared with me that when the book made it to their hands, work literally stopped as the editors stood around in the hallway, paging through it. They too struggled with that bittersweet moment of seeing the final product, but knowing Rod would not share in the joy of seeing it himself.

Oh, that God would take a farm boy growing up in a pastor’s home and use him to help others learn the language of the Bible is a definite proof of God’s mercy and grace to mankind. Rod would never have thought himself worthy of God’s grace and never thought highly of himself in the things he did. Our prayer as a family is that God would take this piece of work that he burdened Rod to write and use it for generations to come so that others might understand the Word of God, but even more that those in our colleges and seminaries would understand the importance of knowing the biblical languages so they may better teach it in our churches. That was Rod goal in life and in writing–to challenge men to be prepared to preach the Word in such a way that God would receive the glory and people would understand what the Word said.

I hope in sharing this that I’ve not come across as bragging about this new book as that would totally be against what Rod and I would desire. My purpose in this post is to share the excitement and the purpose of Rod’s writing. As he would always sign his work, Soli Deo Gloria.

A person’s outlook on life is often a matter of perspective. Over the past four months as our family and close friends deal with our loss of Rod, I’ve noticed that perspective plays a big roll in how we deal with Rod’s promotion/death. I prefer to use promotion as that is what has happened to Rod. Death tends to be a negative concept and perhaps gives a sense of finality when working through losing a spouse, a child, or anyone close to you. As a believer, one’s death is not final for the Bible tells us that our loved one (if a believer in Jesus Christ) has been promoted to heaven where we will one day be, not only with our loved one, but with our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ which will be far better.

In his book, Reflections of a Grieving Spouse, H. Norman Wright often referred to living without/life without his spouse who died of cancer. A big change comes with the loss of a spouse especially if the children are grown and on their own. There are the times without someone to talk over the days events; times when you cannot ask him a question; times when you find you are the sole decision maker; times when you wonder “how would Rod have responded?”; times when you have to keep going to places alone; times when the house seems like it’s missing a vital part–all due to life without that special person. It’s a new way of life and not one we would have chosen. True, it’s inevitable, but most of us think we will live forever together. Learning to live without is real and a big part of working through the grieving process, but this is where perspective comes to play. It’s all a matter of what we focus on as we deal with loss. If I choose to dwell on my life without, my focus is on me and all I’ve lost. That path leads to self pity, thinking only of me (and what I’ve lost) and tends to cause feelings of doubt, loneliness, defeat and many tears. These are definitely a part of the process but lately I’ve come to realize that my relationship with my husband, which was a great one, was only a temporary earthly pleasure that God blessed me abundantly to have with Rod. Our marriage isn’t eternal, but life is. So looking at our loss from a different perspective really changes the whole outlook on life. Rather than looking at life without I’m seeing that life with is far better. Yes, I miss Rod’s presence and will for a long time, but I’m beginning a new walk of “life with” God as my husband because Scripture tells us that God is a husband to the widow. I’m finding that a life of serving in our local church can give as much fulfillment as the presence of a mate. I’m finding life does go on and my perspective of that life determines how I cope with each day. Rod isn’t here when the car has a flat tire so I have to see that it gets fixed. My children have been great in supporting me and helping me with things, but I need to step up to the plate and do things I can do also. Rod was such a picture of God in our married life that now I’m able to see that God is the one that I depend on–not Rod because I’m living without him. But God never leaves so I have life with Him until He calls me home too.

Perspective is a matter of choice. I’m not forgetting about Rod or living as if he never was a part of my life. He exemplified God too much over the years for me to just put the memories away. I have no intention of packing those memories into a box to be stored in the basement to be forgotten but neither do I plan to dwell on how much I’ve lost when God took him home. I choose rather to dwell on life and all that God plans to do with me. I don’t even know what that might be but I know I can trust Him to use my feeble attempts at serving Him because I choose to go forward in a life with Him.
Life is a matter of perspective.

A Word of Thanks

August 20, 2014

Over the past three months, since Rod’s promotion to glory, much has been happening at the Decker home. I’m afraid I’ve not been keeping communication open here on the blog. For some, my academic and theological input wouldn’t be as challenging as Rod’s was so I’ve not attempted to keep that area up to date. However, many of you that read his blog on a regular basis have been gracious to send words of comfort and continue in prayer on behalf of the family and myself. I’ve been remiss in sending a thank you for remembering us in such a way. So please know that we are grateful to each of you for your kindness and prayers. God is answering and giving strength to keep pressing on.

This past week we completed the sorting and cleaning out of Rod’s home study and have gotten his office at the seminary close to being finished. The books are ready to be boxed and passed on so others may use his library & his office space. The process was tough emotionally at times but here is where God answered your prayers and helped give strength to sort out all the material as well as cleaning off his computer. I’m amazed how many backups and paper copies Rod had of his soon-to-be published books. But the thought of losing it to a power outage or other mishap probably encouraged his diligence in making sure he had copies to fall back upon should something happen.

I never cease to be in awe of his thoroughness in everything he did. Many of you know that side of him in the academic realm but he carried it over into the home as well. Knowing death was inevitable over the last year of his life, he was so helpful in leaving behind a paper entitled “End of Life Wishes” (probably his only paper without footnotes!) which also included details for me and the family as to things that needed to be done and how to do it. He was a faithful husband and father and we praise God for the almost 40 years we shared with him.

I don’t understand what God’s purpose was in taking him (other than that his work on earth was completed) any more than some of you, but I do know that God has more in store than I can imagine at this time. He is stretching me to learn things (doing things on the computer I’ve never done before–like this blog), and helping me realize that even though the team has been cut in half, there’s still much to do for God. Rod is missed at church, the seminary and by friends and family, but life does go on and that is what Rod would have desired.

I’m realizing that God can still use me. It had been 4 years that I had been unable to attend church, teach Sunday School or Bible studies or even attend Bible studies on a regular basis due to caring for Rod’s father’s and Rod. Now I’m so excited to be back on a regular basis and involved in our local church. I missed that the most but wouldn’t have traded church attendance for the care of either one of them. I was able to witness two men age and deal with death in such a graceful and godly manner that I felt blessed to have had a part in their care.

May God bless each of you as you strive to serve our great and faithful God. After going through the loss over the past three months, I can’t imagine how people who don’t know the Lord personally deal with their grief. God is our strength and refuge, an ever present help in time of trouble. Great is the Lord! Our hearts are filled with gratitude for each of you.

Just a note

May 31, 2014

Now that Rod has been promoted to glory, this blog will be somewhat in limbo. Many of you have gained much from Rod’s blog and he hated to see it come to an end. Perhaps in the future there will be some additions but that is a work in progress and might be a few months before it comes to fruition. Rod’s desire would have been for his readers to continue stretching themselves in their studies and use God’s word to bring honor and glory to God rather than man. May each of you carry on Rod’s legacy by being faithful to our great God who led Rod each day and each step. Nothing would please him more (both God and Rod!).

Arrangements

May 26, 2014

Many have asked what the arrangements are for Rod’s funeral. As many of you know, Rod had unique ideas regarding death and burials. His desire was to have a direct burial–not because we couldn’t afford otherwise, but because so much to do is made about the person and he didn’t want the focus to be on him.There will be a grave side service for family and a few close friends on Thursday (no that’s not two days but there were some schedule conflicts so that had to be altered but we are honoring the rest of his wishes). There will be a memorial service at the Northmoreland Baptist Church on June 7 at 2:00 that any who can attend may do so.

Rod’s desire in both services is that God be the focus and that he would be the one honored–not Rod Decker. I guess that should not be a surprise since that was the way he lived. God alone is the one to whom glory and honor should be given. Rod was just an instrument used by God and the kids and I count it a privilege that we reaped even more than most of you.

On another note, the family thanks each of you for your prayers and notes of encouragement. We are coping well most of the time and it’s easier than I expected it would be to deal with the loss. Knowing he is pain free and with the Savior allows us to rest and know that God will care for us and fill that void. Personally, I’m looking forward to getting involved in our church once again after a few months away as I cared for Rod. One doesn’t realize how much the body of Christ/local church means until you can’t be a part of it. I’m thankful I was able to care for Rod to the end and don’t regret a minute of it or that I “had” to miss church, but I am now ready to return and pick up my responsibilities and add new ones from what I’ve learned through this journey.

Our final promotion

May 25, 2014

Oh death, where is your sting? Death is swallowed up in victory.

It is through hurting hearts (the frail, selfish side of us) that I write this post to inform our dear friends that Rod has been promoted to glory. He is now absent from a body consumed by cancer and is at rest and present with the Lord. We hurt for our loss but are rejoicing that the battle is over and the victory won. God granted Rod the desires of his heart and he died as he lived. He was fearful of dishonoring God in the last days and I can praise God that he remained faithful to the one he loved and served to the end. He went peacefully in his sleep on May 25, 2014.

The children and I are doing as well as can be expected at this point. Even though we knew death was coming and inevitable for us all I don’t think we can ever be fully prepared when it actually happens. We feel God’s strength even in our tears as we cling to each other and talk through the “need to’s”, the plans, and laugh as we realize that it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t fit in his best suit to be buried. Rod was never a person who did things for show and we will honor that in his death. We talked much over the past couple years and the past few months especially and his (& our) desire is that all the focus will be put on God and Christ for his memorial service. Rod did not want any attention drawn to himself as a man or to anything he might have accomplished on earth. It was all done for God and to God goes the glory.

We all have lost a man of integrity, a man of humility, a man much wiser than even he knew but we’ve gained so much more in his death. Heaven is more real and our perspective of losing his earthly body is much different from what we thought. He has just begun life while we remain on earth to experience more suffering, death, and human perspectives. His goal in life was to lead people to the Word and understand that it makes a difference in how we live. If he has accomplished that in lives other than his own family then the honor goes to God for using a humble man as an instrument to carry that message. Rod would say, “Go deeper, don’t grieve for me but take what I’ve taught and grow more in tune with God.”

We as a family thank you for your prayers over the past months. God has answered even if we don’t know who you are. He continues to strengthen us and we plan to continue the legacy Rod left behind and serve to the end.

According to the dictionary trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. As believers, our first attempt of trust is when we accept Christ as our personal Savior. However, over the past couple years and even more so in the past couple weeks, Rod and I have experienced a totally different level of trust.
More than 50 years ago, we put our faith in Christ and “trusted” him as our Savior. Looking back at that trust now, it seems like it was so simplistic. Sincere as it was, it is far different from the trust we are experiencing daily. As we face the few remaining weeks (2-3 from a medical perspective) of Rod’s life on earth, that child like trust becomes much deeper. As children, I doubt we knew all the ramifications of trusting, but were more concerned with making sure we were safe from an eternity in hell after some teacher let us know how horrible it would be. These days as cancer, pain, and drugs tend to take over the body and mind, we are now faced with a different level of trust.
During the night when the effects of the cancer and drugs seem more complex and difficult to deal with, and are inclined to throw us off course, we are reminded anew that trust is more than an escape from the fear of eternity in hell that scared us into trusting God’s plan of salvation. God is God and his attributes do not change when our emotions do. He is truth, a refuge and our strength (to name a few) when events in the course of the day/night seem to overwhelm us and we search for understanding. In our desire to finish our course on earth by remaining faithful to the end, trust has become a more complex idea. The God we have taught about, served and love, now asks us to trust him when death is knocking at the door; when cancer and medications are causing the body and mind to focus on things other than reality and truth. During the night when sleep evades us, we spend hours focusing on the God who is truth and realize afresh our trust is more of a conscious effort to acknowledge God and rest in the fact that he alone is our refuge and strength. When the mind plays games to undermine us so we lean toward fear, we find we need to trust that our God is worthy of praise and worth resting/trusting in him because of who he is.
Rod’s health continues to decline each day. He says he isn’t in much pain and for that we continue to praise God. We are drawing near the end and we are preparing for that. For Rod it will be a glorious release from the body and he will be present with his Lord. For me it will be a release from watching my dear husband lose ground daily. Life for both of us will go on. For though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we can do so without fear for God’s rod and staff comforts us. We will trust in the one who is ever present, ever knowing, and ever powerful.

Praying for those with terminal disease. you must hold two things in tension: God can (and often does) choose to heal through medical means. This appears to be his normal method of bringing healing. But it is also true that God can heal supernaturally apart from such human means. When he works in this way, we call it a miracle. Just because God can heal in either of these two ways, does not mean that he is obligated to do either. He may choose either means of healing or he may not choose to heal at all—even if many Christians pray asking him to do so. God is not a cosmic vending machine waiting for us to put in the right change. Instead we trust the Good, Sovereign Creator of the Universe to do what he knows best.

So how does one pray for someone who appears to be securely in the incurable column, someone whom it does not appear that God is going to heal? We can’t know that for sure, of course, but when the terminal condition persists, the doctors appear to be unable to anything more, and God does not show any indication of intervening, then what? You may continue to pray, hoping that God will heal “at the last minute,” or you might consider praying for that person’s physical and spiritual needs as they face death. Or both.

A few suggestions (for prayer and otherwise), not in any particular order… (See the pdf for suggestions.)

PrayingForTerminalPatients.pdf

Update, 5/4/14

May 2, 2014

After several weeks of being largely confined to bed, I’m finally beginning to function a *bit* more normally. I’m still very weak, but can at least begin to process some content-heavier material. (For those aware of my oncologist’s request for a one-page “testimony” as to what is helping me cope, I actually finished it yesterday —though @ 4 pgs, not 1! (See below for link.) Pray that God will use it in his life.) I’m also regaining some appetite. Limited visitors from the area are fine, but contact my wife first to make sure that I’m awake and can handle them (833-7017). Emails are fine; please use rod period decker at g mail com.

LifeAndMeaning4.pdf

If you’d like my wife’s perspective (she has been an invaluable help to me this past year and especially March-April 2014), see the following 1=page essay:

Cancer_CaregiverPerspective.docx

Rydbeck, Lars. “On the Question of Linguistic Levels and the Place of the New Testament in the Contemporary Language Milieu.” In The Language of the New Testament: Classic Essays. JSNT supp. series #60. Edited by Stanley E. Porter, 191-204. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991.<1> [My comments are included in the at the end. -RD] The thesis of Rydbeck’s article is that in the first century A.D. there was an intermediate level of Hellenistic Greek between that of the vulgar or popular Greek and the literary.

Rydbeck_andNotes.pdf

Misc. Grammar Papers

May 1, 2014

As I have the time (and energy) over the next few days or maybe weeks, I’ll be posting some Greek grammar materials that I don’t think I’ve posted before.

I’ll begin with a summary of Buist Fanning’s chs. 1-2. Buist was the external examiner for my dissertation, now quite a few years ago. I’ve always appreciated his gentle spirit and detailed work.

FanningVA_smry.doc

Dated 2013, but presented in chapel by a surrogate reader April 2014

This is a controversial topic even among non-pacifistic Christians.

Due to the controversy and my failing health that prohibit moderating any comments, I have closed comments for this post.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/skcdiykozcy91h8/SelfDefense_FacForum2013.pdf

The following is a draft that represents a sketch of what might have one day turned into a full fledged grammar—and perhaps would have been sufficiently substantive to have been designated as a “book”— so, though it is not large, perhaps you will find it useful in the range of an intermediate (2nd year) grammar. Much of this represents material written and/or rewritten over the course of 25 years and then rewritten together into one unified file this past winter.

New Short Grammar of the Greek Verb

Apr.22 update

April 22, 2014

Praise the LORD, all you nations, extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. (Ps.117:1,2)

Our hearts are filled with praise to our God who continually remains faithful to us. We know many people are praying around the world for Rod (& the family) at this time when life is so uncertain–but then isn’t that the case for all, not just us dealing with cancer? Rod’s first week on hospice care was not a good one, but since then he’s rallied some and tends to spend a portion of each day out with the family either at the table for a meal or in his recliner. He tires easily, but his smile and dry humor gives us much encouragement that he’s functioning so much better.

His oncologist continues to follow up with house calls–yes, you read that right. He comes at least 2-3 times a week. He has become a friend in this process over the past year and Rod has shared much about Scripture with him. Its a new field to him so he’s curious but also interested on an intellectual basis. He is the head oncologist for the area and is a busy man so it means much to us that he takes time out of his busy schedule to check on us (it’s a 45 minute drive one way for him to come). We can honestly say he’s not doing it for the money but out of compassion. God knew what he was doing when Rod got transferred from his other oncologist to this man. After his visit this evening, he commented that he was surprised and pleased to see that Rod is doing so well. He really expected by this time Rod would be going downhill and that isn’t the case at this point. We know that this could still end in Rod’s Homegoing unless God intervenes in a miraculous way but we are still thanking God for this extra time when we as a family can enjoy our times with him.

Rod is ready to go if that is God’s plan and to that end we are preparing. Some things are hard to work through, but glad he can think clearly enough most of the time to be able to help with decisions. Sunday found him out on the porch with the family talking about what needs to be done to finish the inside of the porch. I found the three of them later locked in the bedroom with Rod’s coffin (which Rob, our oldest son, built).* Rod wanted to see it, so the boys brought it up to show him.

Our oncologist has asked us to write a one page paper (imagine the challenge that will be for Rod!) on how cancer has impacted us, how we deal with it, and how we’ve reconciled ourselves to it (with Scripture to back it up). Please pray that Rod would have some time to finish this for the doctor. He needs a couple clear days to get it down on paper so we covet your prayers regarding this one thing. It would mean so much to both Rod and the doctor to have this paper.

Thank you all for your prayers and encouraging words. It is overwhelming and humbling to both of us to know how many lives have been impacted by this quiet scholar.

*Cost: $-0-; built from Hemlock cut and milled on the farm.

Rod’s health

April 16, 2014

As of Wed., April 3, both radiation and chemo treatments have been stopped as part of the treatment plan for Rod’s cancer. Over a year ago, we were told it was treatable but not curable. God in his infinite wisdom and grace has given us many blessings through that year but the cancer has continued to grow and spread due to its aggressive nature.

Rod is now on hospice and from a medical perspective looks like the cancer will take him home before long. Could God perform a miracle? Absolutely! Will he? Only he knows that. We continue to press on to serve him for any remaining time and strength he gives.

We covet and appreciate your prayers. The past few days have been stronger ones for Rod but his body is still showing signs of the cancer’s progress. He is not in pain for which we are praising God.

Our family is enjoying this time with Rod. We cry together, laugh together, and just cherish this time that God is giving us with a man who has led us, loved us, and encouraged us for many years. He exemplifies the one he’s served even through this time when life is drawing to a close.

God continues to be faithful and good even in times like these. Great is our God!