A daunting, but successful trip

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In July, it was exciting as the date of our second trip to Nazareth, Israel, was approaching.  I had spent over a year getting a medical license to be able to practice medicine and work on the staff of the Nazareth Hospital there.  However, have you ever been in your basket with your balloon ready to take off, then the balloon starts deflating right when you are about to embark upon your eagerly anticipated journey?   Two days before leaving, the entire computer system crashed at the clinic here.  Prior to that, I had to accept going by myself due to problems with airline tickets.  The entire trip was at risk of being derailed.  It was quite difficult to leave my wife and daughter at the airport, but when you know you are meant to do something, you have to keep forging ahead.  Then, the late-arriving flight in Tel Aviv did not contain my luggage and the driver to Nazareth could not be found resulting in a costly taxi ride.  When I arrived at the hospital at 4:30 a.m. with little sleep, my rudimentary Hebrew finally resulted in enough communication for the hospital campus apartment to be located where I learned that there was no A/C for the entire time in the heat of July.  Then, my laptop crashed and I had to use a hospital computer for writing then.  Times like that will make you question things, but I knew my level of obedience was being tested.  “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12, NKJV).  Despite all of that going on, I had a peace on the inside of knowing I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.

Most of the trip involved working at the Nazareth Hospital and I met many of the committed physicians there who work under much more austere conditions than we do here.  I gave a presentation to the medical students and residents at the hospital, made rounds with the staff there, worked a great deal on a collaborative research study that we are developing to start at the hospital next year and which has an evangelistic component to it, delivered a presentation at the hospital chapel service, and even taught some English while learning more Hebrew.  I attended an Arabic speaking church in Nazareth and although I could not understand the words of the singing, a packed, warm room with 200 people in it exuded a palpable, supernatural joy that could be understood in any language.  The translated sermon was understood and was just what I need to hear that day after walking for an hour to get there.

The most exciting part was visiting Camp Ichay, a tent camp and medical clinic for refugees on the Israel-Syria border, where I heard twelve bombs explode within a three hour time period and felt one of them shake the ground.  The IDF escorted us in and out with minefields and extreme security measures surrounding the place.  The stories of the people who came to the camp were heart-wrenching.   The Syrian Army was taking back southern Syria right at that time and even in Nazareth I daily was awakened with fighter jets heard racing back and forth.  Camp Ichay was closed only one month after I left because of the decline in the situation, but the camp had helped thousands of Syrians with many Israelis providing donated food and clothing in abundance.

We are now focusing on trying to help raise funds for the Nazareth Hospital to acquire a mobile clinic to take into the West Bank area where people live in tents with dirt floors and there is very limited medical care available to them.  Nazareth is only 25-30 miles from this area and many people could be helped in this region if there were a better way to help treat them than trying to examine them while they are laying down on rugs in the dirt with limited equipment and resources.  The residents there have to buy bottled water and are malnourished, but the children still smiled and were thankful.

After all of those experiences and many more on this trip, the problems that I had certainly paled in comparison.  We are truly much more blessed in the USA than many here realize.  I got to see God help a good number of people while there, but I was helped even more.  Life is truly short and we should make the most of what time we have.  Sometimes we have to make some major changes as God does not call us to do only what pleases us, or is most comfortable, or easy.  If you want to learn more or help, visit www.saintpantaleon.org.

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God is Always at His Work (07/08/2018)

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I am still trying to get used to this new time schedule here. I got up this morning earlier even though it was hard to get to sleep last night due to not being used to this time. I thought I knew somewhat where I was going this morning, but somehow missed a turn in my walking and ended up walking for one hour before I got to the church to attend today. They started at 10:00 with me arriving at 10:40. That didn’t bother anyone there at all and I opened the front door of the building to some glorious singing that was full of joy. I had just about given up trying to find the church and then it was right before my eyes. It was just about a packed house with around 200 people in the building. The A/C was stressing trying to keep it cool. I was sweating a lot from walking that far and welcomed the rest of stopping. The service lasted until 12 noon. I heard about their 6 hours (wow!) of prayer meeting they had on Saturday that they will be doing for the next several Saturdays through August. I heard about the dreams of people who were being led by God to find faith in Christ and leave Islam. He preached from Genesis 37.
Even though I could not understand the music which was sung in Arabic language, I could understand the Spirit of God in the church through it. One song I could tell they were singing at the end was How Great Thou Art. There was very visible joy expressed in the worship in music and the message. Pastor Nizar Touma at the Church of the Nazarene here preached from the Word with passion and conviction; his message spoke to me in a personal way and I appreciate him following God’s leading in his messages given. You can tell he loves his flock that God has given him.
The people were nice and I wish that I could have understood Arabic language enough to visit with them more. There is an English translator available for everything except for the music; a wireless headset enables that.
Next Sunday I plan on going to a local Southern (yes, can you believe it?) Baptist Church here in Nazareth which has a school (K-12). A friend of the spiritual director, Frank, here will be driving and I will go with him, so I won’t get lost walking this time!
I went to the hospital cafeteria today and got to eat some shredded cabbage, rice, a small piece of chicken breast, and some tomato and peppers (yes!) soup. Upon leaving, the lady sitting there in the cafeteria smiled when I told her, Tov, tov, tov ! Toda raba! (phonetic spelling of טוב טוב טוב! תודה רבה!) which means “Good, good, good! Much thanks!”
This evening will be chapel time at 18:30. I look forward to seeing a good number of folks who know English. My Hebrew skills are limited, but I am getting some practice in with it. Most of the people know Hebrew and Arabic with many also knowing some English.

 

Seeing Things From a Different Height (07/07/2018)

Since it is Saturday and my time in the clinic starts on Monday morning, I decided to visit Mount Tabor today. I first went to the hospital emergency department which serves as the call center for us to call a cab. While standing there, this very sick young lady came in with who I assume was her mother and sat down, but quickly started acting delirious and then fell out of the chair in which she sat onto the floor. She was unconscious, but I managed to pick her up and put her back into the chair before everyone got busy really quickly and had a wheelchair around there before whisking her away to the back area where the staff awaited. After that excitement, the taxi showed up and off I went.
The cab driver was an Arab man who told me during our discussion on the way that he actually lived in Alabama, of all places, until he moved here to take care of his elderly father who lives here. He stated that he was a Christian and we enjoyed getting to know one another; he told me he loved America and wished he was back there!
When we got to Mount Tabor (see pictures below), I got to talk with the monk of the Franciscan Monastery there and even though we did not have a common language that each knew well, it was easy to tell he was a brother in Christ.
After coming back to the hospital campus, I went to the cafeteria and had a simple meal of plain potatoes, tomatoes, and a small serving of tuna. They don’t feed you here like in Mississippi. I am used to lots of hot spices and can’t find anything readily around here more than salt and pepper. After eating, I walked around the hospital a bit learning where the various clinics and departments are located.
The evening was spent visiting with Grant, who is in Iraq, and then with Autumn and Haylee in Missisippi, via an app on my phone that enables video and audio so we can see and talk with one another. Isn’t the internet and technology amazing?
Tomorrow I will be going to a local church in Nazareth and then relax before going to chapel service here on hospital campus. Then Monday awaits!
Have a great day!

 

Getting Settled in Nazareth, Israel (07/06/2018)

IMG_1271I have gotten settled in here in Nazareth after many troubles getting here. All of the problems not overcome yet will be! After finally getting some decent sleep when I got into room here with no A/C (a Southern boy just ain’t used to this) around 04:30 AM here (we are 8 hours ahead of MS time), I slept from about 05:30 AM to 13:30. Around 14:00, I went to the chapel here on the hospital campus (see video below; they have renovated it since our last visit and it looks much nicer) and met with Dr. Suzy Srouji, one of the physicians here, and Frank Kantor, the spiritual director of Nazareth Trust which runs the hospital here. We went to the office then and had a lunch together (my first good meal since leaving MS).
It is truly wonderful to hear stories of how God is working mightily in the lives of the people here and I am enjoying that.
I heard from Frank stories of those Muslim faith having dreams which have led them to Christ. Just as I have read about, the Lord is coming to people through their dreams when they can’t understand any other way and showing them the way if they seek it. One of the stories I was told is about a couple who knocked on the door of the chapel here and came in with a story of a dream in which the lady stated someone in white told her some words that she told someone in the chapel. They showed her that it was almost exactly “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” of Matthew 11:29.
Dr. Suzy and I visited a good bit and I met many of the hospital leadership this afternoon. They will get me a hospital badge this weekend, give me some time to rest, and then I will get to work on Monday AM in the hospital seeing patients in the medical clinic along with whatever else I can do here. On Saturday, I plan on trying to visit Mount Tabor in the area here along with checking out Nazareth more; on this Sunday and next, I plan on going to two different local churches and getting to know some of the people in the area that way also.
I will keep a daily update on here so my prayer partners back home can keep updated and aware of the happenings here. It is 18:25 here so you will see these in the AM times there. There will be many pictures forth-coming in the days ahead.

Southern Culture Versus Christian Character

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We all like to know, if we possess something considered valuable, whether it is authentic, or is it just a fake.  When it comes to questions of faith, it is easy to see flaws for we all have them.  Even the original disciples of Christ certainly had their problems early on until they decided that they were truly going to surrender their lives completely at whatever the cost.  When we examine the effects of any religion on general society or a large segment of society, we should be able to find a general effect upon that society that is measurable and consistently attributable to the influence that the religion has upon its adherents.  With regard to the Christian faith, when we look at different regions of our country, we should be able to find that areas of the country in which faith is claimed also have a resultant effect that is measurable and consistent with the tenets of the Christian faith.

Marriage between a man and a woman with children born after that relationship is solemnized, followed by raising of those children together as mother and father, certainly are well accepted as being consistent with effects of Christian faith upon people’s lives who state that they are Christians.  While it is more difficult to look at individual lives, the general effect of claimed Christian faith upon society as a whole should be able to be seen when examined.  If that effect is not seen when scrutinized, it naturally brings forth questions.  The first question that many ask, certainly among those who do not accept Christian faith, is whether that faith is fake and not effectual in the lives of those who claim it.   Another deeper way to examine this would be to consider whether that, without the faith, the measured effects would be much more negative without it at all, with the measured effect biased by differences in segments of society.    Considering that we are looking at general statistics, if an area of the country has a higher claimed rate of faith, one would expect a difference to be seen with regard to rates of unwed pregnancies and homes without a father present in the home.  To get more specific, should we not see positive effects, in areas of our country that have higher claimed rates of Christianity, with lower rates of unwed pregnancies and fathers present in homes more commonly?  Sadly, this is not the case in these examined areas.  Many in the secular media immediately leap upon that easiest of answers and claim that Christian faith does not, therefore, have any positive effect, but actually is detrimental in societies in which it is more widely embraced.  Should Christians just brush these accusations off and not address them?  Certainly not.  “’But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15; NKJV).

According to Pew Research Center, a little over 70% of Americans identify as Christians with evangelical Protestants being most common at 25.4% followed by Catholics at 20.8% of the population.  According to the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (https://www.namb.net/Population_Church_Ratios), Mississippi has the highest per capita rate of Southern Baptist churches in the nation at approximately 1,300 people per church.  In comparison, the state of Delaware has about 23,000 people per Southern Baptist church.  In regard to the relative number of places of worship in general, West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, North and South Dakota, Alabama, & Utah have the most in descending order; Delaware is at 16th on the list and Nevada is the lowest.  If you look at statistics of how many people click that they “Like” prayer on Facebook, in descending order of incidence, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Wyoming occupy the top seven spots.  Looking at the top seven states with the highest to lowest relative number of those attending worship services, the list changes somewhat:  Utah, North Dakota, Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and South Dakota.    In Maine, only about 28% of the population regularly attend worship services while in Utah, about 79% of the population does.  Looking at a county level, every state has at least one county where at least 45% attend worship services regularly.  There is great variability among the counties, but on a state level, it is clear that many southern states top the list with claimed adherence to many qualities that one would expect with Christian faith.

Now the rubber meets the road.  Does the car drive good or does it just look good from the outside?  Jesus Christ stated, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28; NKJV).  Jesus Christ also stated, “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7: 17-20; NKJV).  Therefore, it important for us to know what we should know, but also to know how we are known.  “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”  (2 Corinthians 13:5; NKJV).  We need to examine ourselves and look into the mirror to see our own reflection.  Is how we think we look, how we really look?  Is it cultural, or is it true character?  James 1: 22-24 (NKJV), reads, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”  Let us take a look into the mirror, analyze what we see, learn from it, remember it, and then work on changing, with God’s help, what we see that we do not like to even think about, much less behold.

Pew Research lists Mississippi and Alabama as the highest the nation in regard to prevalence of religious people (77%) versus 33% in Massachusetts and 39% in many other NE states where they also have the lowest unwed pregnancy rates, such as Delaware.  Mississippi has the highest rate in the nation of unwed pregnancies (despite similar sexual activity rates in Mississippi and Delaware (powertodecide.org)) with a rate of 53% versus 39% for country as a whole; some counties in Mississippi have rates of 70%.  Mississippi leads the nation in the percentage of single mother households with no father present (https://www.statista.com/statistics/242302/percentage-of-single-mother-households-in-the-us-by-state/).  With surveys showing that 80% of young, unmarried Christians have had sex, with 2/3 of them within the last year, it is apparent that there is disconnection between what is being practiced and stated in belief; according to a Gallop survey, 76% of evangelical Christians still believe sex outside of marriage is morally wrong (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/premarital-sex-and-our-love-affair-with-bad-stats/).

It is very easy to make associations, but properly interpreting those associations is harder.  Many times, what people see is what they are wanting to see.  Many secular media seize upon the material just presented as evidence that their non-biblical worldview is justified.  Just because someone walked down the same street as a murderer during the same hour means that there is an association between them, but not any more than that they walked down the same street.  So, how are we to look at these facts that paint a poor picture?  That depends upon who is doing the painting and also who is looking at it.

Part of the answer with regard to higher unwed pregnancy rates, but similar sexual activity rates, between Mississippi and Delaware, for example, is the rate of abortion (https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/state-indicator/abortion-rate).  Also, Mississippi has a lower rate of birth control usage relative to other states.  Maybe some of it is a psychological effect of being told not to do something so much that it is thought about more and then acted on more than if it were not being fought against as much (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-human-beast/201208/do-religious-people-have-hotter-sex-life).

The “National Survey of Reproductive and Contraceptive Knowledge” shows that 42% of unmarried evangelicals ages 18-29 are currently in a sexual relationship compared to 52% of everyone else.  Ten percent of young, unmarried evangelicals have had sex, but not in the past year, while 20% have never had sex. The percentages go down to 6% and 12% respectively when looking at the sexual patterns of all other unmarried 18-29-year-olds.  However, to look at this survey in more depth, there is an oversampling of minorities which is occurred in their survey methods.  Using 2010 census numbers, 63.7%, 16.3%, and 12.2% of the population, representing whites, Hispanics, and blacks, respectively, are present, but in their survey, the representations were 50%, 22%, and 20%.  When it is considered that 24%, 40%, and 67%, of the same respective households are single-parent homes (http://datacenter.kidscount.org), this has the ultimate effect of making it appear that there is greater promiscuity than it really is, although this does not diminish the fact that it is large percentage anyway.

These same ethnic groups which have higher rates of unmarried pregnancies and single-parent homes appear to make conservative, southern states (which have higher proportions of these ethnic groups) look as though a Christian lifestyle is only preached, but not lived: “Red states such as Alabama and Texas, on the other hand, have lower levels of teens growing up with married parents both because they have lower education levels and because they have high proportions of black or Hispanic residents, whose families are less stable on average than white and Asian families. The educational and ethnic factors overwhelm the predominantly conservative orientations of the state populations in these Southern states. Thus, the red state model does not appear to be successful in the American South” (https://ifstudies.org/blog/red-state-families-better-than-we-knew).  Brad Wilcox wrote in his article, “No, Republicans Aren’t Hypocrites on Family Values” (https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/28/no-republicans-arent-hypocrites-on-family-values-215873), “What’s also fascinating about looking at the individual data is that it suggests that the relatively fragile state of families in the Republican South does not apply as much to individual Republicans in the South. Indeed, in both the North and the South, Republican parents are at least 9 percentage points more likely to be in their first marriage, compared with Democrats and independents. The figure also reveals how the ecological fallacy works: Just because the Republican South has more family fragility does not mean that Republican families are fragile. In fact, Republican parents in the South are more likely to be in their first marriage than Democratic and independent parents in the North.  In other words, even though Southerners in general are at greater risk of family instability than Northerners, Republicans in the South enjoy markedly higher levels of family stability than their fellow citizens—a family stability advantage that puts them above Democrats and independents in the North. Another way to put this: It’s blue and purple Americans in the South who are really pulling down family stability in the South, not red Americans.”  Even though these articles are discussed from a political perspective, it is true that general statistics cannot be applied on an individual level.  However, given the fact that many Southern states claim such high rates of adherence to Christian practices and ideals, the variance in the more general, state-based statistics is not completely explained by the individual differences of race and ethnicities, although the effect is very significant to explain the higher state-based rates of unwed pregnancies and fatherless homes.  Political party identification is one way to look at this issue, but identification with Christ is very high in Southern states, as discussed in the beginning of this article, and more than the “red” versus “blue” state method of analyzing this takes into account.  Could this also be explained from the standpoint that in many southern states, it is fashionable and culturally acceptable to proclaim faith in Christ, to state that one attends church somewhere, to talk about prayer, and acknowledge God?  Those who get serious about really believing what they say they do are religious fanatics though to many.  In 2 Timothy 3, we can read about the characteristics of those “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (verse 5; NKJV).  “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” (Titus 1:16; NJKV).

What can be done about this?  Many people offer up the usual reply that we just need more birth control.  With that, we see sexually transmitted disease rates continuing to rise despite the higher rates of birth control methods used.  Lower teen pregnancy rates are attributed mainly to higher rates of contraception.  However, just preventing pregnancies with higher rates of birth control has not resulted in lower rates of unwed pregnancies and fatherless homes, which are continuing to rise.

Another approach is what is being done through Crisis Pregnancy Centers across our country.  One such example is at Parkgate Pregnancy Clinic (http://parkgateclinic.com/) in Tupelo, MS.  Jessica Roy is the Development Director at the non-profit that offers ultrasound & pregnancy confirmation to women and men facing an unplanned pregnancy.   They teach WAIT Training Curriculum (Center for Relationship Education) through their MPower Program to over 4,000 students each year in schools in their area.  Jessica recently shared that the clinic has seen a 15% increase in the number of students who state that they made a decision to wait until marriage for sex.  They have seen 79% of those with “risky” behavior make decisions to “start with a clean slate”.  Also, the clinic has recorded a 13% decrease in the number of students who believe it is okay to have sex before marriage if in a relationship.

Preventing unwanted pregnancies is certainly one way to reduce fatherlessness but preventing the behavior that causes it is only possible through changing the mindset of people.  Educational programs such as that provided in the previous paragraph help, but only an approach that involves a change of heart affects the mindset to a greater degree.  Christian based programs certainly focus on trying to influence those who are aided by their ministry to seek a change of heart through acceptance of Christ’s offer of forgiveness and the changes that come through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when salvation is experienced.  No one can really change their own heart; that is something only Christ can do.  Understanding this, it brings us back to the beginning of this article:  Is the faith that is claimed by so many, especially in the South, truly authentic?  If it were, works consistent with the Christian faith would verify it.

How can people in the South who by and large claim to be Christian live the faith that they claim to have?  By actually being a Christian in the beginning is the means of living out the faith that is attested to in those surveys which show the Deep South states with such high rates of Christian faith.  Churches have largely forgotten discipline within the churches and it is easier to join many churches than it is to join a social club in the same city.  When people do not feel that something costs them something, they are likely to value it as worth just what they paid for it.  This is not preaching of salvation based upon works, but salvation evidenced by those works.  In James 2:18 (NKJV), we read, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

If the rate of religiousness is going to translate in better behavior, it cannot be from a source of just religiousness, but of the Holy Spirit dwelling within the true, authentic Christian enabling that person to live out the Christian life as exemplified in the Bible.  “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7; NKJV).

The Relative Passage of Time: Memory Retention Theory

Why does time pass so fast?

timeAlmost everyone has heard the statement, “Time flies when you are having fun.” Our brief time living our lives does go quicker than we think. We are young one day and old seemingly the next. “Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?” (Psalms 89:47). Why do we perceive time this way? Have you not wondered about an explanation for that enigma? One explanation for this could be called the memory retention theory.

When I was a child and my brothers and I would get off of the school bus at around 3:30 p. m., it seemed to us like a long time until we had to go to bed that night. We would get chores done, play, run around in the woods, ride our bikes, make our cardboard box forts, build little cabins out of small trees in the woods, and experience all sorts of activities before it was time to come inside for the night for the dreaded bath time and then settling down. The time we had passed the same for us as it did our parents, but I can assure you that as an adult when it gets to be 3:30 p. m. now, it seems like the day is almost over with little time left for much. We can look backward and it is like a patient told me this last week, “Everything from 30 to 60 years old just seems like a blur.” This is no recent experience we all have for it is mentioned in Psalms 90:4: “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

Other times in our lives although do seem to last a longer time and we find this scripture in Lamentations 5:20, “Wherefore dost thou forget us forever, and forsake us so long time?” If you have been in pain or anguish before, you have probably noticed how time seems to drag on while you are hurting. Have you ever had an accidental injury and noticed that you remember everything in detail while time seems to slow down? You can recall it almost in slow motion and remember the most intricate details of it. What is the explanation for this difference?

Think of a movie being played with the old films of yesterday when the reel whizzed along with multitudes of still images that when played fast enough seemed to have motion to us in our minds. It played as a movie when shown in rapid sequence, but if you looked at the images on the reel of the film there were still images. Our eyes are like cameras of a movie recorder and life is before us to record it all. However, when we play back our “movies”, we do not have the ability to play them at slower or faster speeds like an old movie reel could have done, but play them at the same rate of frames per period of time. If we record many frames, then the movie lasts longer, but if there are few frames, then it is played back much faster. How many frames we record depends upon our memory capacity at the time of our experience.

When we are very young, our minds are like brand new, empty computers with clean hard drives except for the operating system. A new computer always functions so fast and efficiently with a quicker recall of whatever we try to access. If you let that computer get too much on it or the wrong “memories” on it that use up too much background processing power, then you will have a very slow functioning computer with poor recall ability. Our human brains record everything in detail more readily when we are young, so the playback with a very high number of frames makes it last a long time as we live it or perceive it later over the same time period. As we get older, our memory capacities slowly diminish with the number of frames captured being lower. Therefore, our experience seems to pass faster. You have probably heard many people state that the older one gets, the faster time passes.

Now that we have a basis for how to think about why time would be perceived differently, some questions would naturally come up then such as to why would times of extreme pain or joy seem to last longer to us adults when everything else seems to be the usual speed. This can be explained by the ability of our bodies to enable the “fight or flight” mode when we are stressed, endangered, or just overly excited for pleasant or painful reasons. When entering “fight or flight” mode, the blood flow in a body is diverted away from our intestinal tract and directed toward our brains, muscles, and heart. With the greater brain blood flow comes an increased functional capacity. A vehicle wreck, a life-threatening experience, or some other traumatic experience is remembered many times in complete detail and time seemed to slow down. Those times of life that are the most pleasant seem to pass fast because it is during those times that we are most relaxed with normal blood flow.

The loss of memory that occurs as we age is mainly due to vascular disease that slowly develops over time; the nervous system is the first to suffer when the microvasculature becomes diseased. Just ask a diabetic; they get this type of disease faster than other people. Some of the nerves of our bodies have blood vessels only one red blood cell in diameter.

If we want to experience life to the fullest while keeping the time from seeming to pass so fast, it is important for us to live as healthy a life as we can. God’s word has a lot to say about how to live healthy because God does want us to live up to our potential so that we can glorify Him in the process.

Rescued from Addiction

fatherembracingsonWith all of the headlines lately regarding the opioid crisis, it is nice to get to see some good news. Working with patients who have problems with addiction is challenging, but there are rewards that come with seeing success stories. Such is the case with a young man who decided that he needed to get help and came many months ago to get started on a program to get free from addicting behaviors that were ruining his life.

The wide array of substances that people use to get away from reality is an insidious evil plaguing our country. While people are different and some do have predispositions toward addiction that other people do not have, there is still the choice that must be made on the part of the user to take a substance or medication against the advice of their physician and/or the law. Once that choice is made, for many it is a seemingly never-ending, downward spiral. For those with little or no support to help them when and if they want to seek recovery, the chances of making it be free from the chains of addiction are slim. Watching someone slowly deteriorate as this evil takes their life away from them, to hear their heart cry deep from within to be free from the dungeon encasing it while darkness swirls about them trying to keep them from hearing the truth, to see them reach out and then fall back discouraged, to look at those children who don’t have their parent(s) anymore because they are dead from an overdose is to feel some of their pain. It is more than enough to drive me to my knees in prayer.

For this young man, he was traveling down the road of his life when he came upon a detour that took him places he had never been and wondered if he was ever going to find his way back. For him, it was his mother who came with him the first time, and many times after that, as she was not going to sit idly by while her son’s life was taken away from their family. His wife had left him a while back, but his children still needed him as their father. His parents still needed him as their son. God still loved him just as He always did, if he could just see the light shine through. As time passed and changes occurred, the real person beneath the chains began to emerge more clearly. The medication used to help him slowly get away from the illegal substances was being withdrawn from him a little at a time until on this last visit, he was written his last few doses to finish his treatment with this medication. While this achievement, with God’s help, is encouraging, he faces many temptations ahead and must continue to be dependent upon God to help him daily.

The best reward for me was to get to see his father come with him on this most recent visit. As his father sat in front of him and told his son that he would have given his right arm to see him saved, tears streamed down both of their faces. It was a heavenly scene as this son seemed to realize more than he ever had before of his own earthly father’s love for him and to experience from him love, grace, acceptance, and forgiveness. I will never forget watching that unfold and I told him how blessed he was to be able to have that relationship because so many do not. They got up and were leaving to check out when I happened to come back down the hallway and right in front of everyone were embracing one another in the nursing area in a way that made me recall the story of the prodigal son being received by his father who had run to meet him. Despite all of the bad news, the Good News of the Gospel is still the answer for what ails many in our land.