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.
“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!
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:
As long as I can remember, Dad had a garden. I mean a BIG garden. I think it came from his growing up years when times were hard. In spite of those hard times, he absolutely loved planting a garden! I remember him coming home from an 8 hour day at the local Reynolds plant and working until dark. His Saturdays found him working in the garden. And when they decided to build a new home in a subdivision he purchased 2 lots–one for the home and the other for the garden.
Even after my sister and I grew up and moved away, Dad continued his garden. After he retired, I remember my Mother fussing because he was working so hard in that garden. At first I suggested he slow down; but then I realized if he died working the garden, he would have died happy. Lord knows I’ve seen enough people die in misery. But as the years passed, he made his garden smaller. The only way he could do that was to plant some fruit trees so there wouldn’t be room to plant something else.
Finally, time did catch up with Dad and he just couldn’t garden the way he wanted. So he would plant in buckets and the inside of a washing machine tomato plants, squash and sometimes a cayenne pepper. But this spring, I was worried about him. Recently I asked him about his tomato and squash plants he told me, “I don’t think I’ll be doing them this year.” Understanding my Dad, I knew this wasn’t a good sign.
A bit of context. Dad just turned 94 years old. My Mother, his wife of 72 years, died 2 years ago come May. He still lives in that house he had built in 1962. It is filled with many wonderful memories, for him and us. He sounded tired, and I know he is; at times his grief is almost overwhelming. And for him not to plant at least 1 tomato plant and 2 squash plants meant he didn’t see a future for himself here on earth. I know he longs to go home to be with The Father.
But this week, 3 plants changed everything: 1 tomato plant and 2 squash plants. When I called him he proudly told me that he had put out his “garden”. That, my friends, is what is known as hope. Hope doesn’t blossom and become fruitful in the best of times–but in the most difficult of times. My Dad’s hope has grown. I realize that at 94 years old he may not eat a single tomato sandwich or fry up a skillet of fried squash–but he is planning on it. That is when hope becomes visual.
And the lesson, my dear readers, is clear in these days. COVID-19 is scary and there are many, maybe some of you, who have ONLY hunkered down and you do not see a future filled with hope. Let me ask you this question: What are you doing right now to plan for the future? I’m not talking about hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer. What are your plans WHEN this pandemic is over? And are those plans simply a reflection of what you are doing now? Where’s the hope in that?
So start “planting” now how to enjoy life more than ever. “Plant” those plans of spending more time with family and friends. “Plant” those plans of reconnecting with the Body of Christ. “Plant” those plans of being kinder in public. “Plant” that plan of a special trip with your family. Don’t wait until the pandemic is over to “plant” your hope. Do it now! Otherwise, your current mindset will continue to control your life. Three plants changed Dad’s perspective. It doesn’t take a whole lot to change your perspective. After all, only you can determine your perspective.
Usually I post my Sunday message scripts, but here is from yesterday’s message, via Facebook Live:
I’m doing my Sunday message live on Facebook. I invite anyone who would like, to join us. And I would appreciate any prayers you would offer on my behalf. This soon to be 64 year old man is doing yet another first. Join me at https://www.facebook.com/randy.burbank