Less is More, Loss is Gain

whatsyourstory“Losing my leg was the best thing to ever happen to me.” 

I was going about my usual fast-paced day at the clinic recently and trying to keep up with the schedule. Like many people, the routine gave way to a full face confrontation with reality. It was one of those encounters that makes you slow down, think deeply, and then remember it is not always that you are teaching someone else. Those kind of encounters teach you, if you take the time to listen.

Upon entering the exam room, it was not a scene too uncommon at all. A man was sitting in his wheelchair, but not the usual more advanced age person. This forty-something year old sat there as we talked about his medical conditions. He looked a little tired, but had a smile on his face throughout the discussion and examination. As we talked, he then tossed me this surprising statement: “Losing my leg was the best thing to ever happen to me.”  I sat there for a few seconds as I contemplated what he had just said and was trying to decide what would be the best way to respond to this heart moment.

Many times people who have been through traumatic circumstances find it hard to find anyone who understands their life’s journey. Their plight has been one in which they have been in such a bind they either get bound up or get freed from the chains that tried to lock them up for good. It makes you think of when Peter was in prison (Acts 12) and then his chains fell off and he was released by an angel. The very people who were praying for Peter did not believe that he was released when he showed up at their home. How many times are we the same way when the very thing we have been praying for is right there in front of us? Do we do as these early Christians did and not open the door to someone knocking who wants to share with us that very thing we prayed for earnestly? When we hear that heart moment in front of us, do we leave the door still yet unopened while the knocking continues trying to get us to listen?

When there is an inclination detected that a listening ear is near that might understand, a nugget of truth slips out to test the environment and see if their heart can be safely shared. If that knock on the door results in it being opened, then real truth can be heard that can do both the speaker and listener some good. It also does the person a lot of good who is sharing to feel and know that their condition is not without some benefit to someone else. As all of us are walking, or sometimes running, done the road of lives that may be shorter than we think, it pays to take some time to sit on a bench with a friend and share.

This man shared about his journey of working hard and going about the routines that many of us take for granted when one day tragedy struck.  He was left with one good leg and an amputated one. The loss put him in a wheelchair as prostheses were not tolerated well by him. He shared about how this sudden slow down of his routines had changed his life not in a harmful way, but had resulted in him having a deeper walk with God than he had ever had before. He had a demeanor that reflected what he said with a worn, but settled and peaceful look about him. His time of being thrown in a jail did not last long as he had been set free through the experience and then came to knock on my door that day in the clinic. I’m glad I opened the door.  Many times, less can be more and loss can be gain.

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Just Hanging by a Thread

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As we get up out of bed each day, we really never fully know what the day ahead will hold for us. We all hope and pray that it will be “a good day”. One thing is clear, although, that what most of us think of as a good day is not always what our Creator has in mind for each of us sometimes. I was reminded again this last week of how we are all just hanging by what is a thread of existence. In Ecclesiastes 12:6-7, we can read about this cord or thread, “Or ever the silver cord be loosed…Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Life is so fragile and those we love can be gone so quickly. Given this fragile nature of our lives, what is it that holds us all together?

My son, Grant, had gotten home from work and I was doing some work in the house. We were enjoying visiting for quite a while while I was mortaring some blocks into place and Grant was sitting on the floor nearby while we we talked. When he tried to get up and go back into the main part of the house, he fell backward and we both thought he had just lost his balance initially. However, he then proceeded to attempt to walk further and fell quicker than a greased pig on an ice skating rink. He actually had to drag himself up the steps to his room. He kept falling with even a few steps attempted. We took him to a hospital and a workup ensued where we discovered the cause of this to be severe myositis (muscle inflammation) with hypokalemia (low potassium), renal failure, and elevated liver enzymes. He started improving with treatment, thankfully, but not soon enough for us to not have time to think about how life would be without him.

One thing that held us together is knowing that Grant is saved and if something did happen, we would see him again one day when he is made perfect. Our lives would not be the same with a tremendous void until then although. What else holds us all together? Is there something more? Besides what we learn spiritually from Scripture, is there something physical in our own creation that is a sign to us? Like much of our fallen and cursed world, there are clues to His existence all throughout what He has made. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

Looking further into Scripture, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth , visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together(emphasis added), Colossians 1:15-17. Is there something on a deeper level in our physical world that points to how He holds it all together other than by watching a sunset or sunrise and seeing the perpetual cycles of our world?

Right within all of our bodies is a reminder of who really does hold it all together for each of us. Without it, we would surely not be in existence. As much as secularists, atheists, and those against God want to deny this scientific fact, it cannot be removed. Don’t you already just love this? I find it quite humorous. There are proteins in our bodies called laminins that are a major component of what is called the basal lamina, which is part of the basement membrane of most of our cells and organs, and influences how cells differentiate, migrate, and adhere to one another. The proteins that make up the molecular structure for this larger protein actually intersect with what results forming a crucifix-like structure. The three shorter arms of the protein help it to bind to other laminin molecules and allows for sheets to made of the protein. The long arm enables it to bind to cells and anchors it to the basement membrane. If this protein is defective, conditions such as nephrotic syndrome (a kidney disease), muscular dystrophy, and epidermolysis bullosa (fatal skin blistering disease) result.
Just look at the picture below of the laminin protein’s molecular structure and tell me that is just a coincidence! I’ll never believe anything other than our Creator knew that one day we would have microscopes power enough and scientific study good enough to allow us to figure it out and then see His handiwork even in the smallest details. Even more interesting is that a subunit of the laminin protein, called beta-1, is encoded by the LAMB1 gene. A human named that gene, but is not that just amazing also? This beta-1 chain has seven structurally distinct domains and has been demonstrated to have a capacity to inhibit cancer formation. This is so rich and all of it makes one want to worship our Creator who truly does hold it all together. He holds it together so well that He even thought to put this into our structure to remind us of His presence on almost the smallest scale.

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Go Ahead, Make My Day

20151121_005336The catchy phrase, “Go ahead, make my day”, usually conjures up images of Clint Eastwood in a shoot-out scene, or maybe even the same actor during a recent political speech he made. Someone else actually first came up with that phrase, but it was popularized by Eastwood. However, as we know that, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), we can look further backward to realize our Father has shown us that He has in a way told His children the same concept. Too often, we don’t take Him at His Word in this, but we most assuredly should because we really are His children.

“What?”, you may be thinking, “Are you trying to say that God wants to make my day?” Well, “Yes!” First of all, you have to accept the life-changing, (no, scratch that – change it to eternity-changing) fact that if you have accepted in faith Jesus Christ of Nazareth as your Savior, then you are, without a doubt, adopted as God’s child. Has that sunk in yet? You are a child of the King and you have  access to the great throne room above. It is where you don’t cower down, groveling on the floor, in front of someone who you fear will sentence you to death if you say the wrong thing, such as it is in front of some earthly kings. This King invites you to come and sit in His lap. He invites you to come and have a chat with Him, to be held in His arms, to receive His love for you, to lean on His chest while He holds you as you cry, to watch His smile as you tell Him the successes you have had, to see His loving concern when you tell Him your failures. You see, this King is not like any other earthly King, this King of Kings is also our Father. He wants to make your day! He wants to make your eternity!

While speaking with someone recently in my medical practice, he told me that when he prays he doesn’t ask God for anything, but is just thankful for what he has. That sounds very humble and it is certainly a great and Godly thing to learn to be content with what one has. However, I asked the young man, who is a father, does he expect his own children to be content with what they have to the point of never coming to him to ask for anything? He just looked at me for a second and then admitted that he certainly did not expect them to think that way. He wanted them to come to him if they wanted something. He took joy in hearing their heart’s desires and in being able to then decide what would be best for them at that point. He wanted to see them with joy in their heart and growing up to be mature one day. He wanted to see them not being him, but like him one day. This young father then realized that he needed to expand his concept of who God is to him.

To some right now, you may be thinking, “Well, this sounds like prosperity preaching.” To those who would think that based upon just what is written thus far, I want to remind you again to think of the relationship with your own children or grandchildren. I would imagine you don’t grant every request that is brought to you by them because if you did, you would spoil them, but you surely do want to hear what is on their heart. Sometimes you can just look at them and you already know what they are thinking without them even telling you, but you still would like for them to speak it to you anyway as you listen with understanding and love them in a way that you want to always help them in any way that a good father would want to do. That is not prosperity preaching, it is just fatherly love. No child who is raised properly and with good character is going to come to his earthly parents with greedy intentions, but surely should feel welcome to come to them with whatever is on their mind. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11).

The phrase, “Go ahead, make my day” is actually credited not to Clint Eastwood first, but to Charles B. Pierce, an independent filmmaker who wrote this in the 1983 film Sudden Impact. While Eastwood was the actor in the film who spoke it, it was Pierce who wrote it and Pierce’s father, Mack, gave him the idea based on what he had said to him when he was a child. Prior to Mr. Pierce although, I think we can see that our Creator came up with this idea first and not so someone could be shot, but because a Father wants to bless His children. It is just a matter of whether we want to believe it or not. It is written, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15). Also, we can read in other scriptures, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (Ephesians 1:5) and further that “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:5). He wants us to come to Him.

We should not buy a trick of the enemy to think that we need to sheepishly hide in the corner of our little space and timidly poke out our head to receive our rations like we are in jail. We are free! We should act like it. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16). He is patiently waiting. Go ahead, make His day.

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Target Accommodates Muslims, But Not Christians

Target Accommodates Muslims, But Not Christians

With all of the publicity given to Target lately for their support of men being allowed to go into women’s restrooms and vice versa, and their support for the latest assault upon conservative, Christian values, it would be interesting to delve into what drives a company that is obviously committed to losing millions, if not billions, of dollars of revenue to support their adopted agenda. With a boycott that has gained over 1.2 million adherents now, Target is not going to benefit from their new policy for sure. Certainly if there is that level of commitment to a cause, one would expect some consistency in their policies. Even if one disagrees with a position taken by another, if there is sincerity present, there is still some degree of admiration for being committed to something, although being sincere is not everything because it is very easy to be sincerely wrong.

Target recently issued an April 19, 2016, statement1 to reaffirm their policies: “we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.” According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune2, “Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman, said it is not a new policy, but the retailer wanted to clarify its position given questions it has received from both customers and employees amid the national debate. Executives sent an e-mail to store leaders earlier this week to convey the message. ‘It’s a restatement of a policy,’ she said. ‘It’s just us being very overt in stating it.'” They are very committed to what they consider “equality” and “inclusivity”: “Inclusivity is a core belief at Target. It’s something we celebrate. We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day.”3

Target is putting forth statements to appear to be so gracious to anyone, no matter what they believe or do; customers of all types should just come in their stores because they just don’t want anyone to feel offended or out of place in their stores. That is how they are trying to publicize their position. Just back in 2007, Target took a position of accommodation when it came to Muslims who work in their stores and do not want to handle pork.4 According to the NBC News article, “The Star Tribune reported this past week that some Muslim cashiers at local Targets had declined to scan pork products such as bacon because doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs. They would ask other cashiers to ring up such purchases, or sometimes customers would scan those items themselves, the newspaper reported. Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has now offered its local Muslim cashiers who object to handling pork the option of wearing gloves while cashiering, shifting to other positions or transferring to other nearby stores. ‘We are confident that this is a reasonable solution for our guests and team members,’ Target spokeswoman Paula Thornton-Greear said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press on Saturday. … Suhara Robla, who works at the SuperTarget in St. Louis Park, told the Star Tribune that more than a dozen Muslim cashiers were asked Thursday to do other jobs.

‘They told all of us who don’t touch pork to go to the sales floor,’ she told the newspaper. ‘They really didn’t say why. They just said it was a new policy.’”

However, that same equality and inclusivity does not seem to apply to anyone who just wants to be able to go to the bathroom or fitting room and not have a male voyeur next to them filming them or worse567. Target is causing much worse inequality and loss of inclusivity with their policies which do nothing more than promote immorality while attempting to shove it down the throats of conservative Christians who they do not mind shutting out of their stores. Target can figure out a way to accommodate Muslims and their faith practices, but according to an August 2014 article from OneNewsNow8, “Target is filing legal briefs in court cases intended to win marriage rights for homosexuals and lesbians.” Target wants to put forth that they just want everyone to feel welcome, but actively are working toward tearing down conservative, Christian values. If Target cares so much, then why not just have a third bathroom for those who want to claim a different gender or don’t care while accommodating the vast majority of people who want to feel safe in a bathroom. They now have policies that make many people feel very unwelcome and if objections are voiced, they just don’t seem to care, unless it is possibly from someone of a different faith other than Christianity.

Mississippi and North Carolina Democracy versus Liberal Totalitarianism

Mississippi and North Carolina Democracy versus Liberal Totalitarianism

Totalitarianism is defined as “a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible. Totalitarian regimes stay in political power through an all-encompassing propaganda campaign, which is disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that is often marked by political repression, personality cultism, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of speech, mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarianism). This definition actually describes the type of actions desired by those who want to punish Mississippi and North Carolina for wanting to let their citizens be able to decide for themselves what they want to think and do with their own lives. These liberals want a totalitarian government, not a republic, and not a democracy. They seek to force their viewpoint upon everyone any way they can.

Most of these companies who are voicing public objections to the laws passed by states, which want to allow religious freedom, are solely acting to protect their bottom line financially as they see it and will shift their actions to whichever way they think the wind blows if it will make them money. The same activists who threaten Mississippi and North Carolina also threaten these large corporations if they don’t comply with their demands. If it is okay with people to demand adherence in such a totalitarian fashion, then some other questions should also be asked.

Should Teva Pharmaceutical Industries be boycotted and people be asked to do no business with this company because they refuse to allow propofol to be sold for executions? They are discriminating against what their product is used for on the basis of their belief system even though the death penalty and executions are legal. If Christians should be forced to participate in matters that conflict with their belief system and violates their conscience, then how can one argue that these companies should also not be forced to sell their products without “discriminating”? If it is okay to sue Christians who solely don’t want to perform a service out of moral objections based on their faith, then should not the states who cannot get the medications sold to them for legal executions be able to bring lawsuits against these companies and force them to do what the law states is okay?

Should physicians who have moral objections to participating in abortions be forced to perform them since abortion is legal and physicians who refuse are “discriminating”? How about pharmacists who won’t fill a prescription for an abortifacient drug and are “discriminating”? Should all of these physicians and pharmacists be labeled as promoting “hate”, and boycotted for their “discriminatory” practices?

What about the pastors who refuse to participate in a homosexual “wedding”? Should they also be labeled and treated in the same way? Are these pastors to be listed on a “hate group” registry and hounded for just not wanting to participate?

What about Muslims who will not sell pork, or prepare it for sale, to others based upon their religious beliefs? Should all the pork-loving people all get together and bring boycotts and lawsuits to force the discriminatory Muslims to participate in what they deem objectionable based upon their faith practices?

Should Jewish owned businesses who choose to close their doors on Saturday be forced to stay open and not “discriminate” against those who want to shop on Saturday? Is it offensive to those who don’t hold those beliefs and places undue burdens on those who only can shop on Saturdays since it is possibly their only day off from work?

It is not people of faith who are bringing lawsuits and attempting to ruin others through tactics of fear and intimidation. These are the actions of the liberal, totalitarian activists who people of faith need to be protected from. Should peaceful non-participation be now made illegal also? That is also what totalitarian governments do. No dissent is allowed without retribution.

People of all faiths should be allowed to follow their conscience and faith practices as their traditions commonly dictate and not have their belief systems trampled by totalitarian demands. The pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to followed their conscience while the states are free to pursue other options without forcing adherence. Physicians and pharmacists should be free to practice in ways that do not violate their faith while those who want something different are always free to seek to have services they legally want elsewhere. Pastors should continue to be free to choose whom they will agree to marry as they always have. Jewish people should be free to practice all aspects of their faith as there are other options for those who live under different practices. Muslims should be free to practice portions of their faith practice as they desire to do so and people who want something different can do business with others. Those who want to label these laws as hateful only reveal their own heart toward those whom they disagree. For people of faith, it is about protecting their own conscience by not participating and it is not about doing anything to hurt anyone else. It is about having respect for other people’s faith choices in their lives and giving them the freedom to live their lives with having a conscience intact, unlike those within totalitarian regimes who historically could be argued to have lost any conscience they might have had.

Israel: Nov. 2015 Walk the Jesus Trail Trip Journal

Journal of November 2015 Trip to Israel on Walk the Jesus Trail (includes all days and more pictures, but large file)

Separate smaller documents:

Journal of November 2015 Trip to Israel on Walk the Jesus Trail – DAY ONE

Journal of November 2015 Trip to Israel on Walk the Jesus Trail – DAY TWO

Journal of November 2015 Trip to Israel on Walk the Jesus Trail – DAY THREE

Journal of November 2015 Trip to Israel on Walk the Jesus Trail – DAY FOUR

Journal of November 2015 Trip to Israel on Walk the Jesus Trail – DAY FIVE – AM

Journal of November 2015 Trip to Israel on Walk the Jesus Trail – DAY FIVE – PM

The Seasonal Script Shuffle

pillbottleDuring the first few months of every year, everyone is used to dreading the tax season of preparing those wretched returns, but now physicians and other providers of primary care can also look dreadfully forward to the yearly change of the formulary with its compulsory deluge of forms requesting medication changes. What is accomplished with this fruit basket turnover of medications is nothing that usually improves anyone’s health, but solely serves to help the financial bottom line of the insurance companies who send them while they continue to raise yearly premiums and co-pays to levels hardly imaginable. Physicians loathe these forms because little is accomplished that is worth our time and training. We want to improve our patients’ health and get to care for them, not just serve as liaisons to enforce insurance company policies for their own financial benefit. It leaves one feeling thoroughly unfulfilled and used like a pawn.

Requiring us to change within classes of medications, as if all of them are the same chemical compound with just different names, reveals the naivete of the people who are making the decisions for us now. Any physician can give loads of examples. What is worse are the physicians who work for these companies who actually are aware of what they are doing and have pushed aside their conscience for mammon while foisting this charade upon us underlings, the grunts who toil among the patient masses, while they sit in their ivory towers thinking of what their next cost-saving measure, labeled as a quality measure, will be.

In the past, most of this rigmarole was confined to forcing us to choose a generic medication instead of a brand name medication. It was not that difficult to accomplish and most of us were able to go along with it without too much of a problem. Nowadays, however, this has morphed into an out-of-control prior authorization (PA) scheme designed to prevent patient care, not just alter it, while it is done in such a way where the physician can be blamed for the lack of supply of the medication to the patient; we simply do not have the time to complete all of the forms the insurance companies want done. They know that and have learned to keep those road blocks in the way so that they can keep their costs down. The number of these PA requests continues to escalate and take our precious time away from doing what we were trained to do, just to help the insurance companies have a better profit.

In addition to the PA system they have shifted to full tilt, their strategy for more control and more profit has started pushing into full throttle the forced acceptance by patients of mail order pharmacies. Most patients like their local pharmacy and want to continue to use them for their medications because they know them and trust them. Patients are now being forced to pay outrageous prices if they try to use a local pharmacy and it is not the local pharmacies’ choice, but is arranged this way by the insurance companies who now have their own centralized pharmacy chains. If physicians were behaving in this manner, we would be hauled into court on felony charges, but not so for the large insurance companies who can pay for lobbyists and campaign contributions to keep this legal.

How can we fix such broken system? First, if insurance companies want to force medication changes through financial pressure, require them to accept the liability for their decisions if the physician opts to disagree with them. Second, require the insurance companies to pay a fee to physicians to cover the cost of these forms being completed and submitted, which is not reimbursed, and costs us all a lot of payroll expense. If they have to start paying something for this to be done and share in the liability for their decisions, I think they will start thinking twice about continuing this game where they seem to be able to make all of rules as they see fit. Patients and physicians need our leaders to help us reclaim our health care, not help these profit-driven insurance companies take further advantage of us all.