This is directed to all those angry posts on social media revolving around politics and political parties by those who self-identify as Christian. I have a question for you: “Do you think God is really glorified with those negative political posts? Do you think those posts reflect HIS Character?”
Truth time: You are dishonoring His Character and misrepresenting His Kingdom. Shame on you! Change my mind about this!
This is the last in my reflections of my recent medical emergency. If you haven’t read the first one, then click here.
When we are hurting–whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or relationally–we want the pain to go away and go away quickly. And here is another lesson I have learned in my most recent episode:
The quick-fix rarely, if ever, works.
In my situation of my ruptured appendix, Dilaudid made the pain quickly go away. And for a little bit the quick-fix solved my problem with pain. But guess what? The effects of Dilaudid wore off and the pain returned. Other than making me feel comfortable, the Quick-Fix did nothing to solve the real problem. Can you make the connection here?
In case you did not, allow me to explain. There are things that will help us numb the pain but cannot treat the real condition causing our pain. It’s not just in the realm of physical pain–but all other forms of pain. For example, holding a grudge against someone who wounded you deeply can hide the pain momentarily–but the pain returns. Trust me on this one; I personally know about holding grudges–it won’t heal the pain.
There are a lot of ways–chemical, emotional, and mental–to numb the pain. Yet they fail to heal the cause of our pain. This is why we turn to God in times of pain. God doesn’t offer us a quick-fix–but He does offer us wholeness. And sometimes, wholeness requires both time and a process. In the case of my ruptured appendix, they did not immediately remove that vile and evil beast. To have done so would have exposed my entire body with poisonous toxins that would have put me in further danger. By treating the poisons in me first, it decreases the probability of further complications when they will remove my appendix.
Next Wednesday I revisit my doctor. Hopefully he will tell me when they will schedule surgery to remove my appendix. Doctors have helped me understand why I need to wait–and I trust their knowledge and skills. And you can trust the knowledge and skills of the Great Physician to restore your whole health–spiritually, emotionally, mentally and relationally. You can trust Him because He created you–and offered you redemption through His Marvelous Grace. God doesn’t offer us a day-trip with a quick-fix. He offers us a journey–filled with His more than sufficient Grace–and His Presence to help us when we can’t help ourselves.
Today I’m continuing to reflect on my recent medical emergency and the lessons I am learning. If you didn’t read the first one, here is the LINK to where this all started. So here is today’s Lesson:
Get Rid Of That Poison!
As you probably know, when the appendix ruptures it release a toxic poison into the abdominal cavity. No one really knows the exact function of the appendix–lots of hypotheses–but no certain conclusion. That’s right, our body is locked-and-loaded with poison. As long as it stays where it belongs, no harm, no foul. But when it gets out–the story line changes.
Here’s how it continues to change my story line. I still have a drainage tube which requires my attention. Twice a day I take a 10-cc syringe of sterile saline, take an alcohol wipe and clean the connection, attach that syringe, turn a value and inject half of it into my abdominal cavity, turn the valve again and flush the line, and return that valve to the original position. It may sound painful but it’s not really painful. Then I measure what’s in the drainage bag and record it in a journal for my doctor.
Some may think this is another inconvenience–but my perspective tells me it’s necessary for my healing. If this poison remains in me then sepsis will set in. Sepsis happens when an infection you already have—in your skin, lungs, urinary tract, or somewhere else—triggers a chain reaction throughout your body. Untreated it is fatal. Knowing the outcome of what happens if I don’t flush out my abdomen, it’s not really inconvenient.
And it’s not just the body that internal poison is harmful–it also happens in the heart and mind. Some of those poisons are greed, fear, bitterness, resentment, guilt, shame, anger, lust, revenge, unforgiveness–these are just a few of the poisonous toxins. If untreated, they are as fatal as sepsis to the heart, mind and spirit. And as in my physical case, there are ways to get rid of those poisons. We can’t get rid of the poisons alone–we need our Heavenly Father to show us how to get rid of that poison. And they are worth the effort–because they work.
So, don’t allow those poisonous toxins create spiritual sepsis. Jesus delivered us on that Cross–and He continues to deliver us. It’s not always instantaneously–but He always makes us whole!
Today I’m continuing to reflect on my recent medical emergency and the lessons I am learning. If you didn’t read the first one, here is the LINK to where this all started. So here is today’s Lesson:
We All Need Help!
Have you ever looked at someone and either thought or said out loud: “You need help!” Well, guess what, cupcake: So do you! So do I! Back to room S704 at University of Alabama Birmingham Medical Center. Each time a nurse, patient care tech, doctor, or other staff came in my room they would always ask, “Can I get you anything?” Not just once while they were in my room, but 2 or 3 times before they left my room. And if I needed anything, it was only a minute or 2 when they came back with what I was needing.
Nurses and staff showed me the very thing I needed: Compassion! They did not come in my room and say, “Hey! You have a ruptured appendix!” This I already knew. I didn’t need that reminder. The care team also knew I didn’t need that reminder. They knew exactly what I was needing: Compassion! They didn’t tell me, “If you had went to the ER Sunday night instead of Tuesday afternoon, you wouldn’t be here!” They cared for my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs without placing blame.
Yet, when it comes to the Body of Christ, many feel the need to point out where people did or went wrong rather than giving hurting people what they need; namely Compassion. That week I was vividly reminded by the actions of those around me the value AND the importance of Compassion. The Compassion of my care team wasn’t in their words or attitude. It was in their Actions! Saying you are Compassionate and Being Compassionate are not the same.
Look at Matthew 14:14 (NLT)–“Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Compassion from Jesus always involved An Act! This crowd? He made them whole. The woman weeping on His feet? He released her from her sin and guilt. Have you made the connection? Feeling without action is worthless. Seven days in Room S704 reminded me that it’s not enough to feel for others–but to act on their behalf.
Anyone who insists they do not need help is lying. Plain and simply lying. We all need help. It doesn’t take special training or a degree in theology. All it takes is to have the same desire as my care team, the same desire as Jesus–do something that restores and lifts up others. Plain and simple. Plain and simple.
Well, in the immortal words of Jack Nicholson. . .
It’s been a while since I’ve put my thoughts, emotions, and questions in blog form. This respite has been intentional; I’ve been in a season of observation and reflection. At this stage of my spiritual journey I have come to understand how priceless observation and reflection are navigating this world as a citizen and warrior of the Kingdom of God.
Some of the observations and reflections resulted in my previous and current sermon series. Some of my observations and reflections have been planted in my “thinking about it” garden to see what grows out of it. And honestly, this was not going to be my “return to blogging” article. But then. . .real life happened.
It started on the afternoon of Sunday, July 12. After preaching 2 services I engaged in my Sabbath Discipline, A.K.A. a nap. When I woke up, I just didn’t feel good. Tried doing a couple of things and nausea set in. Nausea turned into more pain and then vomiting. All Sunday night the pain only intensified. But late Monday the pain eased up and I thought the worst was over. So much for my thinking. Finally, I told Debbie I needed to go to the emergency room. The rules at our small rural hospital meant she could drop me off, but not stay with me. But my high threshold for pain had been exceeded.
I signed in and then had to wait even though, on a scale of 1 to 10, my current pain was at 12.5. When they finally called me back the first order of business was a COVID-19 test, and then the reason why I was there. An injection of Dilaudid became a gift from God to me. Then things started happening pretty fast. A CT-Scan with contrast revealed a ruptured appendix. The nurse came in with the bad news and said “The helicopter will be here in just a few minutes.” It seems the hospitals closest to me that had the facilities to care for me didn’t have any beds.
When I arrived at University of Alabama Birmingham Medical Center, another COVID-19 test, conversation with some doctors, I was sent to the appropriate unit. Once there I was hooked up to IV antibiotics–and constant care. Wednesday was another day of pain and pain killers. Thursday morning was another whirlwind. I was taken for another scan; returned to my room, only to be turned around and taken back for 2 drainage tubes (one of those tubes was inserted into an orifice that shall remain unnamed).
In this same time my IV stick had to be moved 6 or 7 times because my vein had blown. My daily routine was pain, pain-killers, more IVs, and walking the halls for my physical therapy. Sunday morning I was feeling a little better, so I took a shower and even shaved. I was feeling a bit hopeful, that is, until the usual returned on Sunday night. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually I had been on the Roller Coaster From Hell.
Finally, on Monday, the numbers started moving in my favor. The pain was subsiding and I was feeling hopeful again. Tuesday morning one of my doctors came in and removed the most invasive drainage tube (remember the orifice I mentioned earlier?) and I wanted to sing the doxology. A little later he cleared me to go home with the other drainage tube. After a “how to flush the drainage tube” lesson and extensive discharge orders, 1 week later I arrived back to where this all started. Now I am home reflecting on these part 2 weeks. Allow me to share one of the lessons I have been learning.
We have no control over most of what happens to us in life
The need to be in control is only adding to the anger and chaos that is consuming and destroying our nation. I looked all through my calendar and to-do list and no where have I found “ruptured appendix” in my plans. The need to be in control over life, relationships, other people, families, even church–goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Satan offered that lie to Adam and Eve. Now I want to really upset some people:
We are not equipped to be in control!
Now that the bad news is out of the way–there is one thing over which we have absolute control. No thing or no one can control it for you. It is your reaction to what happens that you and you alone control. No whining and no excuses. Your reactions come from your perspective and no one can give you or choose for you that perspective. While lying in that hospital bed did I have a pity party? Of course I did! In fact, I had more than one. But I had a choice–do I choose to live in that pity party or do I choose to change my focus? I chose the later–and when I focused on God’s faithful presence, which at times I doubted; the pity party ended because I know that regardless of how I feel–God hasn’t abandoned me–and He is loving on me. Tomorrow I will share another lesson.
“There is no such thing as unintended consequences! Never has been, is not now, nor will it ever be!”
We are experiencing the devastation and fallout of another myth: UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. In case you forgot, a myth is a widely held but false belief or idea. You’ve heard people say, maybe you’ve said it: “That not what I meant. I didn’t intend for it to happen like this.” It’s as if that statement absolves and forgives that person’s choice, actions or words. The slate is wiped clean. It creates the illusion that the damage caused by those UNINTENTIONAL CONSEQUENCES is lessened.
Let’s get it out in the open: “There is no such thing as unintended consequences! Never has been, is not now, nor will it ever be!” I have a deep seated suspicion that many disagree with my assertion. Well, guess what? Your disagreement doesn’t change the facts. Do you need proof that this is the truth? I refer you to Newton’s Third Law of Motion: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Denying the reality of Newton’s Third Law of Motion doesn’t change the reality of this Law. “How does this apply to unintended consequences?” Glad you asked this question.
Every choice you make, every act, and every word spoken has a subsequent equal and opposite reaction. Good or bad, it happens. This is NOT affected by your intention. Unintended Consequences are nothing new. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden with Eve’s choice and Adam’s silence. I don’t think their intention was to get booted out of the Garden. They only intended to be a god. How did that work out for them? Allow me to show you a recent example.
COVID-19 PROTOCOLS! If these protocols had been followed, we would be seeing a decline in the number of cases. But, no! Social distancing? “What’s that?” Face masks and gloves? “You’re kidding right?” Stay at home and go out only for what is essential? “Well what I want to do IS essential!” Don’t panic buy and leave important supplies on the shelves for others? “You’re hilarious Preacherman! I’m taking care of me and to hell with everyone else.” Being out in public may expose you to the virus? “You’ve lost your mind. I’m invincible!”
Well, I could go on, but let me get to the point of the INTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF THIS WAVE OF SELFISH IGNORANCE HAPPENING HERE IN THE U.S. Bear in mind, with the exceptions of narcissists and sociopaths, this is not what these selfish, ignorant people intended; it is, though, the consequences–and because they made those decisions–THEY ARE THE INTENTIONAL CONSEQUENCES OF ALL THOSE WHO IGNORED AND VIOLATED THE PROTOCOLS! Here’s a few of those INTENTIONAL CONSEQUENCES:
- People have lost their jobs. Some employers and still paying their employees, but this can’t go on indefinitely. Others are NOT receiving a paycheck.
- Family and friends are unable to visit loved ones in a nursing home or skilled care facility. Imagine, if you even can, the loneliness of those residents.
- We have family in hospitals with other illnesses, but we can’t be there with them! I’m one of countless others in this situation. We can’t be there for them. A friend of ours, Krissy, shared with me that her grandfather is in ICU but she can’t be there for him and with him. It’s all because of all you who violated the Protocols. This is what you intended!
- People with autoimmune diseases and respiratory conditions cannot find disinfecting supplies. Those with autoimmune diseases and respiratory conditions are highly susceptible to other conditions. A common cold or “ordinary” flu can devolve into pneumonia and respiratory failure resulting in death. A part of me secretly wishes law enforcement could find these hoarders and charge them with at least manslaughter; preferably second degree murder.
- Families who have had a death in the family are restricted from the love, care and comfort of friends in a time they really need it. A couple of weeks ago I did a graveside service for a good friend. Only a limited number of people could gather in the parking lot, and only 10 at a time could go in for what we in the South call “a viewing”. At the cemetery it was only a limited number of family members who could be there. It broke my heart.
- Couples who planned that special wedding day have had to postpone or do something different, without friends and family. Weddings are a time of great and shared joy. But they can’t happen because of you who violated the Protocols.
- Children who live in an abusive home could look forward to being at school for a few hours of respite from their abusers. And now they are trapped with their abuser 24/7. This is what violators of the Protocols intended to happen.
- Spouses/significant others who are abused could look forward to going to work or their abuser going to work, but if they aren’t “essential workers” they are trapped with their abuser. This is the intent of those violating the Protocols.
- Violators of the Protocol who bring their children with them to the stores still open are abusing those children. They are intentionally exposing them to grave danger. In my book, they are child abusers. And we know what Jesus said about abusers of children!
- Medical personnel cannot hug their family members; some even staying away from their home to protect their loved ones. Numerous cases of COVID-19 have happened within the medical community. Violators have put at risk and added stress to the very ones who are trained, skilled and committed to taking care of you. That’s the equivalent of you cutting off your toe because you have an ingrown toenail.
- First responders–law enforcement personnel, fire and rescue personnel, EMTs and paramedics are risking their lives even more. Their jobs are to protect you and there were already enough dangers they face to protect you violators of the Protocols. Now they are facing even greater dangers and us family members are worried even more about them.
Well, I could go on; feel free to add other INTENTIONAL CONSEQUENCES in the comments section below. But the point is clear! Every decision, word, and action, as in Newton’s Third Law of Motion, has consequences. Your intentions are absolutely meaningless. Now, you can continue to expand the chaos. . .or. . . you can think things through beforehand. Your choices. . .your words. . . your actions carry with them CONSEQUENCES THAT ARE UNINFLUENCED BY YOUR INTENTIONS. Perhaps the death of this myth will be another consequence of this pandemic. And that would be more than good. . .that would be, as Tony the Tiger would say: GRRRREAT!
When I say “P.C.” I’m not talking about Microsoft Windows 10 or any microprocessor platform. This late Sunday afternoon I’m about to go on a rant about Political Correctness, hereafter simply called PC. And here’s the reason why.
Before 3:00 a.m., I woke up to the sound of my wife Debbie falling. I jumped out of bed to check on her. She was incoherent and disoriented. I finally helped her to her chair in the living room. It reminded me of when she had double pneumonia and her oxygen level had dropped to 72 percent–critical. Her oxygen level was good but she wasn’t. I called 911 for an ambulance, and of course, I couldn’t go with her because of the COVID-19 protocols.
She is diagnosed with a serious urinary tract infection. Over the past 16 years I have been at her side through 7 stents, even more arteriograms, 1 heart attack, 5 days in a pulmonary intensive care unit, and a few other surgeries. And this evening she is alone in the hospital getting treatment and I cannot be there. And here’s why:
We have an over preponderance of idiots in this nation. These idiots have cleared shelves of hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and disinfectants; leaving the most vulnerable without necessary supplies. These idiots walk the aisles of Walmart, Sam’s, Costco, and grocery stores like nothing is going on. These idiots bring their children by the carload. These idiots have proven they do not care about anyone but themselves. By now the curve of COVID-19 cases should be going down. But. . . these idiots out there are making life difficult. I have a friend who told me this morning on Facebook that her grandfather is in ICU, alone and they can’t be with him. People have family members in skilled nursing facilities and unless their relative is dying, they can’t visit with them. And it is ALL BECAUSE OF THESE IDIOTS.
Some of you may think I am being way too harsh. The PC rules say I am being mean for simply telling the truth. “They say” you can draw more flies with honey than vinegar. Well, what has all this honey done but create a sticky mess with dead flies everywhere. And that’s exactly what PC has created in our culture! We are so afraid of “offending” someone that Idiots are given free-range against society. It’s time we started calling things as they really are and stop pretending that being nice will change people. If you know a COVID-19 Idiot, be they family, friend, coworker, neighbor, or stranger, do them, and the rest of us a favor: Call them out for being an idiot!
And if someone reading this is offended that I called them an idiot, then I apologize because I thought you knew you are an idiot! Yes I’m angry and for good cause. Now, do I love idiots? Absolutely! But they are still idiots and I will no longer contribute to their delusion they aren’t idiots! Now excuse me while I find something to calm me down!
Community is broken. May that community never be seen again.
Since everyone else is either saying something or writing something I thought I might as well put my two-cents worth into the fray. Due to the inability of the vast majority of Americans to stay home when they have symptoms of even the flu or even the common sense to wash their hands, the government has been forced to step in with this thing called quarantine and social distancing. Some states and municipalities have gone further than the Federal Guidelines and moved into total lock down.
Florida has even closed it’s borders to outsiders unless they have a Federal Certificate of being a necessary person. Of course native Floridians say it’s too little, too late because of the damn Yankees. In case you are wondering what that term means, I will explain. A Yankee is someone who goes down South but then goes back north. A damn Yankee is someone who goes down South and stays. A good friend of mine once said that we should round up all the damn Yankees, put them in cattle-cars and ship them back north. But in all fairness, there are a few damn Yankees who are good; few but nonetheless good. They have adapted to our Southern Culture. They have repented of and renounced their Yankee ways. If there was only a way for them to get rid of their accent you wouldn’t even know they were once a Yankee. I am digressing so I will get to the point.
Due to social distancing and quarantine, community has been broken, well except at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club Costco and the local grocer. But the fact remains that what once was known as community is now broken. Not only in the sense of towns, cities and counties, but it has become illegal to assemble as the Community of Believers. And the very nature of The Kingdom of God requires being and living in Community. And many Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters are bemoaning this current reality. And now the first penny of my two-cents worth.
The Community known as church, at least in the U.S., was already broken. Long before it was known as “church” the word used to describe this gathering was “kononia”. Kononia means a shared life, fellowship, and a sense of each contributing to the welfare of others. The U.S. church has been turned inward–and though it considered itself a “community”, it wasn’t the kononia community. It had already quarantined itself from a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit and had socially distanced itself from the very ones we are designed, called and commissioned to reach. This social isolation and quarantine only revealed what already existed–Real Kononia Community was broken. My first penny. Now, for the second penny of my two-cents worth.
Community, as it HAS BEEN defined SHOULD NOT BE fixed. If the COMMUNITY that HAD BEEN was the right kind of COMMUNITY, we would not be seeing the fear, panic, hoarding and complete disregard for their fellow human beings. There! I said it! Community BEFORE COVID-19 was defective, mean, ugly and it sucked at being Community. And not just outside the church. Many congregations who cherished their buildings and traditions in those buildings more than people in their community now have neither! And the social distancing now in place has been in practice by many congregations BEFORE COVID-19–and I pray it does not continue after the all-clear is given.
Truth Time! Can you handle it? We do not need community as it has been. My deepest prayer is that out of this calamity, there will be a Resurrection of Koinonia Community–This is Community as God designed it to be in the beginning. A Community unmarred by selfish desires and behavior. A Community that longs to be defined by the Creator rather than the created. A Community that reaches out to make sure no soul is left behind. A Community that celebrates together and that mourns together. A Community that isn’t defined by buildings and habits–but IS DEFINED by the heart that is completely surrendered to God.
Community is broken. May that community never be seen again. And may the Community of the Kingdom of God rise in its place. And it will happen if each of us heeds the words of this song:
Most people in the United States are found GUILTY of Having No Common Sense And Are Acting Stupid!
As of last night the CDC reports there are 122,653 of confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC since January 21, 2020 in the United States. This number is up from Saturday evening’s number of 103,321. People in the U.S. are panic buying. It started with toilet paper and hand sanitizer and now it’s milk, bread, eggs and God knows what else. People are scooping up self-rising flour who have never made a biscuit in their life! And the jury has reached a verdict.
Most people in the United States are found GUILTY of Having No Common Sense And Are Acting Stupid! It took the jury only 3 seconds to reach this verdict. When you consider the evidence it is no surprise at all. Just look at the evidence:
- You ask a student “You have 3 apples and give 1 apple to your friend, how many are left?” and rather than the student imagine 3 apples, take away 1 and count what’s left, which is 1 then 2, 2 apples left, they have replaced it with common core math. To find the answer you take the circumference of Saturn, divide that by the number of species of ducks, multiply that answer by the temperature on the surface of Mercury, then subtract the number of Wal-Marts in the world, divided by 7.68345690 and subtract the number of people who will buy eggs today and Voila! The answer is 2!
- Participation Trophies! You have achieved greatness by simply being present. Forget effort. Forget skill and ability. Besides, it’s plain meanness to reward success!
- Entitlement has become the norm. Who needs perseverance? What’s the value in trying and learning from failure? You exist therefore you deserve!
- Administrators tell teachers, “You have to teach for the state tests. Forget knowledge and wisdom–it’s the scores on those tests that matter most. NOT the students needs, but OUR need to score high on those tests!”
- Many school systems have taken out vocational/technical schools because it’s more important for the students to go to college in order for them to ask “Would you like a fried apple pie with this order?” The number of high school students who receive a college degree looks great on the paperwork!
- Speaking of college, OY VEY! Professors have concluded that they are the experts in their fields and are the sole depository of knowledge, and expect their students to be their little minions who perpetuate their jabber and twaddle. (if you don’t know the meaning of twaddle, look it up!) Cemetery Professors, excuse me, that should have been Seminary Professors, are the absolute worst!
- And parents? OY VEY! OY VEY! OY VEY! They want to be their child’s friend! Great gobbledygook! This is enough evidence by itself to arrive at that Guilty Verdict!
- Morality, what is right and wrong, good and bad, is determined by the individual rather than proven standards, such as the Bible. They even encourage their children to find their own gender rather than accept what nature gave them.
- Consequences? What’s that? People are protected from the consequences of their choices and actions. There is always someone else, something else to blame. Oy gevalt! Bupkes! That’s mishegas! It’s bupkes! Go ahead and kvetsh if it makes you feel better! (I love Yiddish!)
- And finally, it’s more important to be kind than truthful–especially when truth hurts. A president once challenged this nation to be a kinder and gentler nation. Well, people accepted the challenge, and look at the mess we’re in!
Look at this nation now. More and more people are thinking more and more about themselves while thinking less and less about others. I heard one story of a shopper who was buying up milk. The business only allowed 2 gallons to be purchased. So she bought 2 gallons; then went back in a went through the self checkout with 2 more gallons. This continued until she had her minivan full of milk. Another shopper was doing the same with toilet paper until an astute associate saw what she was doing and cut her off!
There was a time when you didn’t need a declaration from the government to stay at home if you were sick. It was called Common Sense and Decency! There was a time when people cared more about others than themselves. There was a time when valor and restraint were considered virtues. There was a time when hard work was noble and the dream people held dear. And there was a time when it was appropriate to call out, in a kind way, stupidity in others. Well. . . what can I say? Too many people are null and void when it comes to common sense–and are stupid, I say, absolutely stupid! They make the 3 Stooges look like clones of Albert Einstein.