Thanksgiving Day is quickly approaching. It is too often skipped because of the Christmas holiday shopping season. The majority of consumers therefore, see Thanksgiving as the day before shopping really begins, black Friday. In order for us to consider our own time of thanksgiving, I wonder if we could just pause for a moment or two and see how Paul uses the term for ‘thanksgiving.’  To whom and/or what are you thankful? Does God make the list as one you direct your thanksgiving?

I have chosen to consider Paul’s writings because of the number of uses of the Greek word εὐχαριστέω. Paul uses this word in almost all of his letters; especially to “express appreciation for benefits or blessings, give thanks, express thanks, render/return thanks” (BDAG, 415).

The typical structure of Paul’s letters includes an element known as the thanksgiving (Roetzel, The Letters of Paul, 72). It is this formal element, found in all of Paul’s letters except for Galatians, which ends the opening salutation and signals the basic intent of the letter. One could say that the thanksgiving section serves as a ‘mini table of contents’ for the letter.

There is no doubt that each of Paul’s letters is different, touching various issues depending on its original recipients within a given historical context. His letters are occasional, and thus intended for specific situations. Although each letter possesses a unique and different purpose, and therefore is structured to fit the context to which he is writing, Paul still maintains consistency in most of his letters by including the thanksgiving element.

So why does Paul give thanks? And how does this affect me, the reader? Paul typically gives thanks for two reasons. First, Paul’s prayers are God-oriented. He often renders thanks to God; that is, God is the object (τῷ θεῷ μου) of the thanksgiving and/or praise, gratitude (cf. Phil 1:3; Col 1:3; Phlm 4). Paul states in the text that he offers thanks to my God, which is represented by the personal pronoun μου, to demonstrate his personal relationship with God. Hansen states, “The personal pronoun communicates the transforming impact of God’s gracious salvation in Christ Jesus on his own life. God’s grace so transformed him that even in prison his gratitude to God guided his prayers, attitudes, and thoughts” (The Letter to the Philippians, PNT, p. 45).

For Paul, God is uppermost in his mind, especially for God’s work in and through Paul’s recipients of his letters. God and His grace is the source of salvation (1 Thess 1:4; 1 Tim 1:12-16). God and His power removes spiritual hindrances and directs, guides the believer’s path (1 Thess 3:11). God and His gospel empowers fellowship with one another for unity and evangelism (Phil 1:3-5). And God and His love provides hope with the promise of growth through His Spirit to glorification in Christ (2 Thess 2:13-14). Due to God’s work in the believer’s life, Paul expresses gratitude to God.

Second, Paul’s prayers are others-oriented. He renders thanks for, or for the benefit of (περί) his recipients; or for the sake of someone, some entity’s interest (ὑπέρ, BDAG, 1030). Paul not only directs his prayers to God but also for others. Over and over throughout Paul’s letters, he is consistently and persistently bearing in mind those to whom he is writing. His prayers are not self-interested; rather the interest of others takes first place. The reasons for his diligent labor of prayer on behalf of others is the recipients’ faith in God (Rom 1:8-9; 1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:3); love for others (1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:3; Phlm 4); hope of Christ’s coming (1 Cor 1:7-8; 1 Thess 1:3, 9-10) and the continued growth in their walk with Jesus Christ (Eph 1:16-19; Col 1:9-11; 1 Thess 3:11-13). Due to Paul’s pastoral and mutual care for the congregations found within his letters, he labors constantly in prayer on their behalf. His joy is found in the growth of others (Phil 1:4-5; 1 Thess 3:6-9; 2 Thess 1:4; Phlm 7) and the love that his recipients share toward for others. This is evidenced through his boasting in God’s accomplishments (2 Thess 1:4).

Paul gives you and I as the reader of his letters reasons to express our gratitude to God for His gracious work in and through us. God continues to show Himself faithful to us, regardless of the circumstances we endure. Are you thanking God for your salvation? For your eternal hope? For your unity with other believers?

He also gives us reasons to offer prayers, selflessly for/on behalf of others. Are your prayers consumed with the list of issues ‘you’ are going through? Or are your prayers also concerned with the growth, mutual care, and love for others? What will God hear from you this Thanksgiving season?

I went through a series on 1 Peter in Sunday school a few years back and came to a passage that is familiar to many Christians (1 Peter 2:1-3). As I worked through the text and read through a few commentaries, I came away asking, “What is Peter admonishing his readers to do?” Are they to “crave, long for” the word of God (τον λογον του θεου)? The question I wrestled with was, “what was Peter’s intention with this command (επιποθησατε)?” In other words, what “is” Peter admonishing believers to “crave, long for?” Is it really the word (λογον) of God?

To most, and this includes several commentaries; the phrase “crave the pure spiritual milk of the word” refers to the word of God previously discussed in 1:22-25 (1:22, λογου ζωντος θεου; and 1:25, ρημα κυριου). But are the words (“word of God,” τον λογον του θεου) in the text? In order to determine what exactly Peter is discussing; the context must be considered; which many commentaries do. They go back to 1:22-25. But what about the ‘immediate context (vv. 1-3 of chapter 2)?’ I think the immediate context (2:1-3) can help provide with a possible understanding as to what Peter is admonishing his readers to “crave, long for.”

Three things within the context point to Peter’s admonition to crave, and it may not be the word of God. Rather, could Peter be admonishing his readers to crave the Lord God who is the believer’s spiritual nourishment? This is especially true in times of suffering and distress, which is the contextual background of the book of 1 Peter).

  • 2:1 – both imperatives deal with attitudes. The participle in 2:1, (αποθεμενοι “put off, lay aside”) takes on an imperatival force of the main verb (επιποθησατε “crave”) in 2:2. Peter is exhorting his readers to do something that is behavioral, or attitudinally related. Their character is the issue. The issue for Peter’s readers may just be that they ought to crave the Lord God, who graciously saved them, by adopting attitudes & behaviors that will help them endure the new life they have begun in Christ. It is clear that these readers will suffer (1 Pet 3:13-17), so Peter is equipping them to reflect the hope that lies within them (1:2). This seems to be consistent with Ps 34:8, of which Peter quotes in the next verse (2:3). Quite possibly verse 8 captures the theme of the whole Psalm (see Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms, vol. 1, p. 743ff); that is, the psalmist urges his audience to experience the protection and provision of the Lord themselves.
  • 2:3 – use of the Old Testament. Psalm 34 is a Psalm ‘of David’ when he was before Abimelech and was released. It is a psalm of thanksgiving for David’s deliverance from affliction. This is similar to Peter’s context in that he too is instructing his readers, who are enduring affliction, ‘to bear up’ through suffering by being faithful to the Lord, who will deliver them. Jobes states, “David was delivered from the afflictions he experienced while he was a resident alien among the Philistines, sojourning away from ‘home’ and outside his place of safety” (BEC, 138). David hoped in the Lord and was delivered. As described above, David’s situation is much like that of Peter’s readers, for they too experienced afflictions outside of a safe environment. They were strangers in a foreign land with nowhere to turn for help or hope.
  • Peter uses Psalm 34:8 and changes the quote from “you taste,” the imperative form to “you have tasted,” the indicative form. He does so to imply that his readers, through their new identity (1:2-3), have already tasted that the Lord is good/gracious. His quote from the LXX begins with the particle ει and introduces a first-class conditional clause; typically relating a condition when reality is assumed (“[since] you have tasted that the Lord is good”). Therefore this OT quote provides a relationship between the tasting of the Lord’s goodness with placing hope in Him. In the context of Ps 34, it is hope for deliverance from shame, affliction, and want. It is these very things that Peter’s readers were experiencing because of their profession in Christ. Peter admonishes them to put their hope in God, or “crave/long for” Him.
  • 2:2 – the word λογικον. This word (λογικον) is in the text and is “not” the same as λογον (“word”). λογικον is used only 2 times in the New Testament, here and Rom 12:1 (“which is your reasonable [λογικον] service”). What is “reasonable,” or “rational – true to ultimate reality,” is that Peter’s readers are reborn into the family of God. Or stated in conjunction with Peter’s use of Ps 34, your reasonable service is to hope [crave, long for] the Lord.

The Logic of verses 2 and 3, then, is “since [first class cond clause] you have tasted that the Lord is good,” = “crave.” Basically Peter is exhorting/admonishing his readers to “crave, long for” a reasonable life, or attitude that reflects a life or identity that has been graciously given to them. Although it is possible that Peter is admonishing his readers to crave/long for the word of God from the context of 1:22-25, I think in light of the context of 2:1-3 and Peter’s use of the OT he is stating that God in Christ alone both conceives and sustains the life of the new birth. They are to crave the Lord God for nourishment, for He alone is their hope.

A New Beginning

October 1, 2015

According to Solomon, “there is a time and season for every purpose under heaven.” Sometimes God moves in a direction or through a situation that causes you to pause, . . . reflect . . . and realize your dependence is solely on Him. I am in this position right now.

This new beginning is one that I do not take for granted, and as a matter of fact, consider it a privilege and honor. It centers on my new administration and faculty responsibilities at Baptist Bible Seminary, Summit University. God has graciously provided me with an opportunity to continue to affect change in the lives of students while teaching them Greek. But to me, it is more than that. I’m following in the footsteps of one of my mentors, Dr. Rodney Decker.

Dr. Decker’s passion was to teach men the Word of God in order that they may also teach others. This too is my desire, to teach men to love Greek and know the God of the Bible more intimately in the process. Part of this not only includes teaching courses at the Seminary, but also the writings on this blog. It is my goal to continue the legacy of Dr. Decker by providing information that relates to the New Testament, Greek, and pastoral ministry. I want the blog to be informative and practical; that is, touching both the academy and the local church.

You will see posts on this blog that strive to teach and encourage others. Although the goal will be to write posts on a regular basis (e.g., weekly), this may not happen. And it is at these times I ask for your patience, . . . more than likely the administrative responsibilities at the seminary have occupied my time. None-the-less I will, as Dr. Decker would often sign his emails to us as PhD students, “press on.”

I want to thank Linda Decker for patiently assisting me through the transition of this blog’s care from her husband to me. I know it was not easy, but I’m thankful for God’s grace that enables both of us in our new roles to move on.

This is a new season for me, one that includes teaching, writing, developing, and growing for God’s honor and glory. I look forward to the days ahead with great anticipation that what God has purposed for me during this ‘new beginning,’ He will supply the necessary grace to accomplish it. But I will also look back each day with humble reflection that what I indeed accomplished was helping others interact, engage, and impact their global society with the gospel, love & service to others, while growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It has been almost six months since I last added a post. It is time for an update as there are a couple things I would like to share. First, I would like to update how we are doing as we complete our first year and secondly, update on the status of this blog.

A year ago today I stood at an intersection on life’s road which left me traveling the road alone. At least that is the way it appeared then and the way it appears to many who find themselves alone after the death of a mate. However, upon the completion of this year, I want to share how different I found the journey. Perhaps I do not fit the norm (I’ve been like that most of my life) but found the journey much easier than I anticipated. I realized as I stood at the intersection that although Rod was no longer traveling life’s road with me, I was not traveling it alone. God’s presence has been evident each day. Finding the strength to face each day comes from God. His Word promises He will never leave us so when moments come that I miss Rod, I realize I switched focus to “poor me” rather than on God’s bigger plan for me. We lost much when Rod died but there’s so much more to life than looking at our losses.
God has blessed me and the family in so many ways this year. Some of the blessings I’ve shared in past posts and space does not allow for me to share them all. His faithfulness has been GREAT. He has provided above all I need. He’s blessed me with great children & grandchildren who make living so special; with a great church family and friends who have encouraged me with their support, prayers and love. A friend of Rod’s sent an email this past week saying he can hardly believe a year has passed and it expressed my sentiments. The out pouring of concern and love, especially during the “firsts” (first anniversary, birthday, holidays, etc.) one faces during the first year was so encouraging and yet there were times when the “firsts” slipped up on me unnoticed until someone reminded me of their concern and support through it. These were a reminder that God was indeed walking with me to help me cope with the changes.

God alone receives the credit for the growth through this year of “firsts” in my life, as well as with the children. I feel we’ve grown closer as a family and appreciate times together even more than in the past just because we know life is short and we never know what the future holds. One thing that has amazed me is the fact that people continue to pray for us. We are so thankful for all the prayers and this update might help in a small way to say thanks and let you know God is answering.

As we start year two, I praise God for all he has done and look forward to another year of growth with him and service for him. There has been much change in the past year and I see new changes coming. One of those I want to share with you relates to this blog. Rod did not know what to do with it during the last days of his life. He had talked with a friend about it but no decision was made. As you have seen over the past year, I do not have the things to offer his readers on the level he wrote. His heart was to give men material that would challenge them to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word and the languages. Unfortunately, I can not maintain that. In the coming months (not sure exactly when) I will be transferring this site to a man who desires to continue Rod’s legacy. In saying that, please know that all Rod’s previous material will remain available.

I would like to introduce him to you now. Dr. Wayne Slusser will be arriving in Clarks Summit in June to become Rod’s replacement at BBS. I hesitate using that word (replacement) as it tends to make one think they have to fit the shoes of the one before. Rod had small feet so there’s no way Wayne (or anyone) would “fit his shoes” and he would never intend for someone to do that. His desire would be for the person to teach the Word and get men excited about teaching the Word to others. Wayne comes to BBS from a Bible College in MO. We first met Wayne & his wife, Missy, when Wayne applied to BBS for the doctoral program in New Testament. Wayne was one of the first PhD grads and is a fine man. It gives me great joy to know he will be filling the hole left by Rod’s death. Wayne has a desire to carry on Rod’s vision. He will be busy settling in to the area and preparing to teach here so please be patient and pray for him as he begins this new chapter in his life. He’s a bit overwhelmed with the thought of being Rod’s replacement, but I know God has put him here–not as Rod’s replacement, but as His servant to teach men to love Greek and to know the Word of God.

This might be my last post on NTResources but not sure how the dynamics will work in the next month or so. Thank you all for letting me share God’s working in our lives over the past year. Most of all, thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement.

To God be the glory, great things he has done!

A Tribute

December 5, 2014

Many men have paid tribute to Rod over the past 6 months. The family appreciates the kind words given on behalf of Rod and his ministry. We are thankful that God can continue to use his work in years to come–but much of that has been said in previous posts.

Those who knew Rod, knew he was a family man and enjoyed his children and his grandchildren. Tonight I would like to share a couple tributes that God has given our family as a remembrance of Rod. On May 29, just a few hours after we had placed Rod’s body in the grave, our youngest daughter-in-law gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. What a precious ending to the day! They named her Autumn Joy and she has been a joy to our family but especially to Grandma. God in his wisdom and grace allowed Sherry to wait through the last few weeks of Rod’s life to give us joy upon his departure. One would think God had a sense of humor.

Then on Dec. 4 at 1:30 in the morning, our oldest son called and informed me they were leaving for the hospital in preparation for the delivery of our 13th grandchild. Later in the day, Sarah Mae was born. Here again it could have been a hard day as Dec. 4 would have been Rod’s 62d birthday, but God’s humor gave a special gift in tribute to Rod. I will never forget these two birthdates. So the family has lost one life but gained two. Our prayer is that these two young ladies will grow up to love the God their grandfather served even though they never knew him.

On another note, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the two volumes from Baylor of Rod’s Handbook on Mark. My apologies to Baylor for the slowness in giving honor to them; serving has kept me very busy! The folks from Baylor were so gracious at the end when Rod no longer had the strength to proof the final copies. Marty Culy did a great job with editing as well as Wells Turner, Mark Mills, and others who stepped in to assist. Word of the impact Rod’s books generated at the annual ETS meeting was passed on to me. How exciting to hear that these two books, as well as his Koine Reader from Baker, were so well accepted. To God alone goes the praise and glory for this.

At times, it has been so overwhelming to see God’s work over the past six months; not just in the books and work Rod had done, but how God’s been working in my own heart and life. When a couple works together as a team for almost 40 years, it seems like any service was done by both. Having grown up on a farm, my father always had a team of horses to do some of the field work. I can remember how important it was to him to have a team that was matched and worked well together. That picture of teamwork so impressed me that I thought 1/2 a team wasn’t a team at all. But it’s not that way with God as he uses a couple as a team but can also use the one left behind. I praise God for being able to find work for this 1/2 of the team so I can serve him still. It remains to be seen what he will do with me, but I’m excited to be a useful servant even though not a team any longer. I praise him too for helping me keep things in focus and to think on Him rather than him (Rod). Many people say that the firsts are the hardest after a death of a loved one and that holidays are hard. I can agree with that, but am also coming to realize that it can become a crutch and cause one to focus on what’s been lost rather than moving on and allowing God to lead and direct as well as fill the void.

Soli Deo Gloria

Exciting News

October 12, 2014

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 Matter of Perspective

October 3, 2014

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!).


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.)


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.


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:


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.