Sunday, September 13, 2015

Always Learning

There is an expression which says, "If you think you're green, you'll grow.  If you think you're ripe, you'll rot."  Essentially this means that if you think you've reached the point in life where you know it all, you'll disintegrate.  This is not a rebuttal of self confidence.  However there is a difference between self confidence and arrogance or haughtiness.  Perpetual humility is always a noble trait.

There is description of a haughty church in the Bible.  In Revelation 3:17, the people of the church at Laodicea were listed as saying, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing."  On the other hand, Jesus sees this congregation in a different light, stating, " do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked" (same verse).   Hence they thought they  were ripe.  Jesus felt they were rotten.

Although I am getting older and am looking forward to retirement one day, it has dawned on me that I will never really retire.  There is always going to be more for me to learn in the future, more ministry, and, hopefully, more inspirational writing.  I should always remain green.

So, still lots of learning to do, whether it comes from life experiences such as cancer survival or general knowledge obtained from the daily struggles of life.  Kermit the Frog sang a song entitled, "It's Not Easy Being Green."  Yet, I would much rather be green than rot on the vine.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Don't Worry

Working as a nurse practitioner, it's a question I hear from patients on occasion. Basically the question comes in many forms but the gist is always the same.  After having heart surgery and being transferred to the step-down floor where I work, a patient will say, "Is everything okay?" or "Am I doing alright?" or "Is this normal?"  Patients may feel like they are not progressing as they should.  Maybe they are a little short of breath, still hurting a good bit, perhaps having an irregular heart rhythm, whatever, thus leading to the inquiring questions. So how do I respond?

First of all,  I explain that most of their complaints are pretty common following heart surgery.  A patient may feel a little short of breath (we don't expect them to be able to run a marathon right after heart surgery...their breathing should progressively get better in the days and weeks to come).   In addition, the pain from the heart surgery operation should dissipate in time.  Furthermore, an irregular heart rhythm is fairly common.  As a matter of fact, we have multiple medications to use to treat this irregular pulse.  The majority of the time, the heart is back to its regular rhythm before a patient is discharged. 

Second, if patients continue to express extreme concern, I tell them "We'll let you know when to worry."  In other words, as healthcare professionals, we know when to be concerned about a postoperative problem.  The patients don't need to worry.  As the old Greyhound commercial said, "Leave the driving to us."  We'll handle it.

Great advice when you're in the hospital.  Also great advice in life.  I heard someone say that worry is  "assuming responsibility God never intended for me to have.".  Absolutely true.  Why worry about something that God is taking care of?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, " not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34).  In other words, God will handle it.  You may rest in peace.  Everything will work out today as God directs.

So, relax, take it easy.  No need to worry when God is in control.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Eat Something!!!

I played golf today with some friends of mine.  Since the temperature was expected to reach 97 degrees today, we decided to start around 7AM before it got horrendously hot.  Knowing I would have to be at the golf course early, I bought some doughnuts last night as a quick breakfast to eat in the car.

On the way to the links, I ate 3 1/2 doughnuts (which may be a lot for some but pretty average portion for me).  I even hesitated before eating the last 1/2 doughnut because I wasn't really hungry.  Yet, recognizing the golf game and the humidity which awaited me,  I figured I needed to eat the last 1/2 doughnut whether I needed it or not.  I needed as much strength as I could muster to attack the course.  In other words, I forced myself.

You can't live without food.  After eating, your body feels stronger and  your mind sharper.  Many years ago I was serving on jury duty.  After deliberating for several hours, it appeared our jury was "hung".  We even sent word back to the judge that we could not come to a unanimous conclusion.  Soon afterward the judge replied with perhaps the wisest words ever to a jury.  He told us to "go to lunch." Some simple words but ultimately had a profound impact.

After we reassembled after lunch, our minds were sharper and we came to a unanimous verdict.  Remember, before lunch, we felt like we were hopelessly stuck.  After lunch, we came together and rose up in one accord.  Feeding our bodies and our brains were just what the doctor ordered (or should I say what the judge ordered). 

So, going through a difficult time?  Eat something.  Have a big struggle ahead of you?  Then eat something.  Having trouble concentrating at work or school?  Stop and eat something.  Going through chemotherapy or radiation?  Then eat something. Speaking of which, I read about someone whose chemotherapy made them extremely nauseous.  So what did they do?  They set their alarm clock and ate a huge meal in the middle of the night, hours before the chemo treatment. As a result, they were able to eat properly and still endure their treatments.  Wise thinking.

Don't try to make it in life without food.  Every meal, every snack, every Peanut M & M or Dr.Pepper can make a world of difference in your mind and body.

Would love to write more but I'm getting a little hungry.  Will write again after I've been properly fed.  I'm sure you get the point.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Finding Shelter From The Storm

I met a sweet older couple several weeks ago who were camping with my in-laws.  In my conversation with them, I discovered how that they had survived the April 27th, 2011 tornadoes which struck central and northern Alabama.  Living in Pleasant Grove (just west of Birmingham), they huddled in a storm shelter while these horrendous storms killed 243 Alabamians, including three of their acquaintances.  To their credit, they had the storm shelter installed several years before because they knew their area historically was prone to dangerous storms or tornadoes.  This decision subsequently saved their lives.

It is always wise to have a shelter when the storms come, a good physical structure in which to hide.  Of course, this is applicable to all areas of life.  A financial shelter is nice to provide when the income is low, some good friends to support you when you are down, and, even most importantly, a spiritual shelter to deal with matters of the heart. 

Matthew 7:24-27 says, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

Clinging to the words of our Savior is the best shelter of all.  No matter how vicious the storm, how frightening the destruction, "the steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Following Through

Golf remains a mystery for me.  I've been playing for about forty years and still am a mediocre player.  As a matter of fact, I have to work at golf just to be lousy.  Hence, I am sometimes looking for ways to improve my game.

Thankfully, with the invention of the internet, I am able to find helpful golfing tips on my computer (these tips even come with how-to videos).  Remedies to practically any kind of golf swing deficiency can be found by a simple internet search. 

I recently found a helpful hint to assist me with my short game.  Gratefully it's a tip which I can put into practice.  Basically I learned that when I hit a chipping shot I need to remember to follow through with the shot.  To a non-golfer, this may not make any difference.  In other words, once you hit the ball, isn't  the ball already headed towards its target?

This is true to an extent.  However, when a golfer follows through with the shot, it helps hit the ball more solid.  More solid hits mean better golf shots.  Better golf shots mean lower scores.  Lower scores mean more golfing enjoyment.  So, it is absolutely, positively, imperative to follow through on my shots.

This applies to health care also.  Having been in the health care field for over thirty years, I am amazed at how many people don't follow through on their health.  They don't take their medicines, don't show for doctors' visits, don't quit smoking, etc.  As a result, their chances of controlling a sickness and living a quality life are reduced.  Why?  Because they didn't follow through.

So, my chances of hitting a better golf shop are improved when I follow through.  Following through with my health care providers for necessary tests and visits has an even better result...sicknesses are kept under check and I can better enjoy the life God has given me.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Restoring Your Vision

Noticed something in my daily Bible reading the other day I had not seen before in Mark 10:46-52 regarding a blind man named Bartimaeus.  As Jesus was passing by, Bartimaeus cried out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (vs 47).  Ultimately, Jesus asks him in simple terms, "What do you want me to do for you?" to which Bartimaeus replied, "Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!" (vs 51).  Immediately, Bartimaeus regained his sight because of his faith and began following Jesus on the road (vs 52).

Great miracle of healing for Bartimaeus but what captured my attention especially was the wording.  I believe every word of the Bible is inspired (to use a great theological term, this is called "verbal plenary").  Notice Bartimaeus said he wanted to "regain" his sight.  Apparently he had vision at some time but it had been taken away, perhaps by trauma or a medical condition.  He had experienced the wonderful gift of vision but now he was desperately blind.  He could no longer see his family or friends.  His previous occupation, whatever it was, had been reduced to begging because of his handicap.  Perhaps he had a lucrative career but now had to ask for charity from travelers along the road for money to fund his basic necessities.  No wonder he cried out to Jesus for help.

Are you blind?  I don't mean this literally, but has your vision been taken away?  I know I've become blind in several ways due to poor choices but also due to unexpected conflicts, e.g. cancer, financial difficulties, etc.  I feel I simply cannot "see" life like I did before.  In addition, in many ways, I've been reduced to begging for daily needs.  In other words, life is not as joyous as it was in days past.

Hence, I can identify with the request of Bartimaeus.  What do I want Jesus to do for me?  If it is God's will, I want to regain my sight.

Promise Keepers has a great song entitled, "Be Thou My Vision", which further echoes this prayer. 
Check it out at:


Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Thorny Issue

Even though the Apostle Paul was greatly used of God and experienced a vision of heaven, he was still haunted by what he called "a thorn in the flesh" (II Corinthians 12:7).  The Greek word for thorn here is skolops, meaning anything sharp or pointed which can produce pain.  "Thorn" can even mean a "stake", so perhaps Paul's thorn was not just a splinter so to speak but a horrific stake or dagger in his flesh.  What exactly was his thorn?  Some people have speculated that his thorn was a physical illness such as a vision problem or even malaria.  Pastor John MacArthur believes this was an actual person, a demonic fellow who hounded Paul's ministry.  Whatever or whoever it was, Paul said his thorn was a "messenger of Satan" which humbled him and kept him from exalting himself.

As a matter of fact, the thorn caused so much distress that Paul prayed earnestly three times that God would take it away (II Corinthians 12:8).  Yet, the thorn remained, continuing to haunt, continuing to torment. 

Consequently, instead of removing the thorn, God gave Paul something greater, that was, the grace and power to live with the thorn.  As a result, Paul began to actually list the thorn as an asset, seeing how God's "power is perfected in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9).  So, in reality this messenger of Satan had a paradoxical or opposite effect.  Instead of weakening Paul and his ministry, it helped him discover God's power in a new way.

Hence, what should we do when confronted with a thorn, whether a physical ailment, emotional distress, financial hardship, etc.?  First of all, pray earnestly for God to remove it.  Nothing wrong with that.  Secondly, and most importantly, pray that God will reveal His power in the midst of the thorn.  Thus, in whatever outcome, we may be able to say with Paul, that "when I am weak, then I am strong."  (II Corinthians 12:10).