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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Down Time

I have some down time this weekend. I won’t be preaching tomorrow. The right side of my nose is taped shut, and a band of tape secures a drip pad under my nose. Not a pretty sight!

Two nights this week a gushing nosebleed interrupted my sleep. Yesterday an ENT doctor diagnosed the problem. An artery had ruptured in a few places along the septum. He applied generous amounts of silver nitrate to the culprits, dressed the nasal passage, prescribed antibiotics, and ordered me to cancel all weekend activities. I was supposed to counsel an engaged couple last night, drive to Denver today, and preach tomorrow, but my plans changed. Oh well, no one would want to see me in this condition anyway.

Sitting around the house is not my modus operandi, but a quiet time may be precisely what is best. Psalm 37:23 teaches, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD.” I’m certain the Lord orders the stops as well.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rub Out Rudeness

The sin of rudeness requires corrective action. Left unchecked, it can ruin relationships and alienate potential followers of Jesus. How would you feel if a car displaying a Christian bumper sticker slogan or fish emblem cut you off in traffic? If an irate member of your congregation ridiculed the opinion you expressed in a study group? If someone wearing a JESUS LOVES YOU Tee shirt cut into line ahead of you at the grocery store? If you offered a handshake and a smile to the person sitting next to you at church, but that person snubbed you? If a believer at your restaurant table complained constantly about the food and service and chose not to tip the server? If a letter to the editor resorted to vicious name-calling while extolling Christian values? If a Christian neighbor cranked up his stereo and blasted your eardrums past midnight? These rude behaviors are just a few of the ways some believers alienate others and offend the Lord.

The Bible instructs us to live in harmony with others, to be sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble (1 Peter 3:8). In other words, be courteous!

—From Overcoming Subtle Sins by Jim Dyet, © 2002, The Amy Foundation

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Life Goes On

I mentioned yesterday that a patient declared dead gained consciousness, conversed with her sons and me, and even sang a resurrection hymn word for word. I visited her yesterday. She was tired, and her throat and mouth were dry, but she was in good spirits.

As I was leaving the hospital room, I met the surgeon who had declared her dead. He looked bewildered. “I don’t understand what happened,” he said. “She was gone. I have never seen such a thing. I asked other surgeons if they had ever witnessed such an event, and they all said ‘no”’

I replied, “It just proves that ultimately the Lord is in charge of life and death.”

Tomorrow, I will visit this remarkable Christian woman again. But today I played 9 holes with a young neighbor and two of his friends at the oldest public golf course west of the Mississippi. The temperature was near 70, the sun was bright, the sky was blue, and my game was hot. I shot 41 from the back tees. Not bad for a 72-year-old guy!

After golf, I drove to the airport to bring home my next-door neighbors. They had spent two weeks in South Carolina.

As new life colors our lawns and gardens, let’s be thankful for the new life Jesus has given to us. It is abundant and eternal.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Our Life Is in His Hands

I spent all day Saturday with the family of a 78-year-old woman who went into surgery and didn't wake in the recovery room . After the surgeon reported the outcome of the surgery to the patient’s two sons, I prayed with them, and then I walked to the elevator. It was nearly 1:00 p.m., and I needed to go home.

But, as I was leaving, the surgeon and an O.R. nurse ran to meet me at the elevator. They asked me to accompany them to the family. The surgeon told the two sons their mother was failing quickly and would likely die within minutes. The four of us entered the recovery room, where the two sons saw their mother in an unresponsive state. A few minutes later the wife of one son and the fiancée of the other joined us.

Before long, the medical staff moved the mother back to her room and said her pulse was 6. One nurse said the patient would die within ten minutes. Oxygen enabled her to take labored, shallow breaths.

The patient lingered throughout the afternoon, and I waited with the family until late evening. The head nurse could not get a radial pulse, but when the patient's grandson, a firefighter, arrived, he found a pulse. He announced it was24. His dad, the patient’s son, is a police officer. He and his firefighter son had witnessed many deaths through the years and were certain their loved one was slipping away.

Shortly after 6 p.m., the surgeon entered the room, examined the patient briefly and announced, "She's gone. Her heart is beating a few beats per minute, but the heart is the last organ to shut down."

Later, I had prayer with the family and returned home. I called the hospital room at 9:30 p.m. and learned the patient’s condition had not changed. Her pulse remained near 20.

At 3:30 this morning, the patient woke up. Her son, the policeman, asked, "Mom, do you know who I am?"

"Sure” she replied.

"Do you know where you are?"


“You're in the hospital."

"Oh, yeah. I remember."

At 5:50 a.m., when the other son called his mother’s hospital room, his mother picked up the phone.

Upon hearing his mother’s hello, the son was amazed.

"Mom, they said you were dead!"

"Nobody asked me," she replied. "I've got to go; they're bringing my breakfast, and I'm starving."

I talked to this remarkable woman this afternoon. She sounds like her old self. She wanted to know all about this morning's church service.

Now here's the clincher. When the surgeon visited her this morning, she told him not to leave until she had sung a resurrection hymn for him. She sang every word of "He Is Risen."

She faces a rough road ahead, but what happened when she knocked on death's door proves we are in the Lord's hands and He alone schedules our homegoing.

Isn’t it good to know our moments, days, and years are in our risen Lord’s hands? We may knock on death’s door, but we will not walk through it until He bids us come.