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WEEKLY DEVOTIONS

The Future Today July 2, 2018

It’s Not the Same

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8, NIV). His belly was still swollen, but his pain was better. He lay there reviewing his life as I stood at his bedside. “You know I was the first one in my family to graduate from college. I was rising in the insurance business. I had a nice office and they were grooming me to move up the corporate ladder. I really cared about the people I served. You see, I was a minister, too. One day my boss came and told me, ‘We know that you’re looking both ways. There’s the way we think and the way they think. It’s not the same. You’re going to have to choose.’ I didn’t change my convictions, and after a while I resigned.”

Poblano Pepper Pork

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV). Yesterday was unusual for me in a good way. It was Saturday, a day I usually catch up with charts, or complete work for board meetings, or visit friends who need companionship. But yesterday, after my morning run, I spent the entire day at home with my wife. She wore me out digging up bush stumps in the backyard. And then we decided to cook together. I found a recipe for Poblano pepper pork chops, and she found a recipe for a mushroom antipasto. I asked her to show me how to do it right. We shopped together, prepared and cooked, and then we eventually invited her older sister to join us for the experimental meal. When I lay down to sleep last night, my body was tired. I had worked hard that day, but my spirit was rested and refreshed.

Already Won

“If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one…” (Hebrews 11:15-16, NIV 1984). I decided to visit him at home to discuss the facts around his recently discovered cancer. Michael is a friend whom I have not seen in a while. I was amazed at his smiles and lightheartedness. The first thing he told me was that he had twice been able to use his illness to witness for Christ, “I called my life insurance broker and told him to get plans ready to distribute the funds to my wife and children.” My broker told me, ‘That’s terrible! Are you really dying?’ I told him, “What do you mean terrible? This is what I’ve been living for!”

“Even If He Does Not…”

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your Gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV 1984). As program director for an oncology fellowship, this week I welcomed five new fellows into their three-year training program. Two weeks before they started, one of the new fellows was Facetiming his 36-year-old brother in India. While they were speaking, his brother suffered a heart attack and died. This Friday I received word from another starting fellow. Her previously healthy father had suffered a brain hemorrhage and would be hemiplegic and aphasic forever, if he lived. (He did not.) And, as a backdrop to these tragedies, the 19-year-old son of a local pastor dove into a shallow pool last week and is now paralyzed.

A Home to Get To

“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him’” (John 14:23, NIV 1984). It was a one-half mile walk from clinic to car. Halfway there in the 95-degree heat, I passed an elderly man moving slowly on a walker in the opposite direction. Unkempt and unclean, he asked me how far it was to the emergency room. I pointed the quarter-mile direction and he responded, “I didn’t know it was that far.” I told him I could get my car and take him if he would wait, and he agreed. When I helped him out at the ER, I offered him $20. “You can use this for a taxi to get you back home.”

It Don’t Matter

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1, NIV 1984). Recently returned from a doctor’s vacation, all my kids and grandkids in a beach house on the Gulf Coast. Had a wonderful time. In the old days, one-week vacations were really rough, requiring two days to wind down, two days of relaxation and then the three days of growing stress, looking toward all the work pile-up I would face when I returned. I do it differently now and take about one hour each day on my computer to keep up, thus relieving the pressure of being so far behind when I resume my work. I’m not recommending my solution to anyone, but on the drive back from Florida, we passed the sign of a dining facility named “It Don’t Matter.” I thought about my workload in the week ahead and felt relaxed enough for the sign to describe my future.
Photo: Pixabay

Stoic Expectation

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ ...From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:60-66, NIV 1984).
Photo: Pixabay

Hard Teaching

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ ...From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:60-66, NIV 1984).

TODAY'S CHRISTIAN DOCTOR

Growth Spurt

Sometimes reality is far more awe-inspiring than anything even the most imaginative of writers could dream up. Decades ago, the idea that a woman could become pregnant with her adopted child seemed like science fiction. However, reproductive medicine has long since crossed biological boundaries in ways that once seemed impossible, creating complex problems that require morally sound, technology-driven solutions. Since 2003, the Knoxville, Tennessee-based National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) has been the national leader for one such solution: embryo donation/embryo adoption (ED/EA). The NEDC specializes in honoring life in its very earliest stages and facilitating pregnancies for women who want to carry their adopted children. And these days, the ministry is busier than ever, adding new initiatives and team members to expand the quality and scope of its life-affirming work.

I Got My Joy Back…Now What? A Deeper Understanding of Joy Through a Trip to Israel

In the fall 2017 edition of Today’s Christian Doctor, I wrote an article about burnout stealing joy in my personal and professional life. I am thankful the Lord brought me out of that low place. He has continued to work on helping me understand what I initially wrote: “Joy is not a feeling of happiness; it is a daily commitment. According to Psalm 51:12, joy stems from understanding our worth in Christ and what we receive through His salvation. Joy starts with having the humility of a child that Jesus talks about in Matthew 18:4. Joy continues through an obedient life and trials that lead to perseverance according to James 1:2-3.”

Feed My Sheep

As Christians in healthcare, we are called to take our faith into the workplace, whether it be in a clinic, in a hospital or in academia. My journey in medicine led me from the clinic into academia. I actually consider myself an accidental academician who never meant to end up in charge of training a portion of the physician assistant workforce. This, however, is exactly why I am writing this story, to encourage my colleagues and help them understand who the sheep are, why they need feeding, how to feed them and when to stop feeding them.

Everything That Has Breath

Bubbles billowed heavenward with every measured breath as I adjusted my mask, cleared my ears, checked my depth gauge, and glanced down at my Luminox Navy Seal dive watch. Kneeling on the silt floor of the Red Sea, 41 feet below the water surface, we watched and waited, hoping to spot a dolphin.

Dentally Impacting the World for Christ

Over the last two years, CMDA’s dental outreach has developed into a two-pronged approach, ministering to traditional private dental professionals and also those seeking to serve the underserved, both domestically and internationally. Vice President for Dental Ministries Dr. William “Griff” Griffin focuses primarily on engaging with our dental members, while Vice President for Dental Education Dr. Jeff Amstutz is developing general practice dental residency programs to equip dentists in ministering to the poor in the name of Jesus. Both aspects of CMDA’s Dental Ministries have been made possible by the generosity of the late Dr. Pete Dawson, who we seek to honor in this article, as we trace the Lord’s guiding hand over the last decade.

At the Heart of the Crisis: Personal Reflections on COVID-19

It is no exaggeration for me to say CMDA has had an influential impact on my adult spiritual life. Since 1999, I have been active with CMDA in one way or another. In 2017, my work with the New York City chapter was significantly increasing, and I found myself more interested in ministry activities than even my own private practice in surgery. After a couple years of praying and planning, I officially began my full-time ministry as the NYC Area Director on March 1, 2020. There was no way humanly possible we could have foreseen what would occur in NYC that same month.

Racism in Healthcare: No One is Immune

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” —Psalm 51:10, ESV It must start with us. Many things have been laid bare this year. In late 2019, a novel Coronavirus referred to as SARS-CoV-2 originating in Wuhan, Hubei, China spread to the United States becoming a global pandemic. By mid-July of this year, there were close to 13 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, with around six million active cases affecting more than 200 countries. In the United States, there have been more than three million COVID-19 cases (with more than one million recovered) and more than 500,000 deaths. We would soon learn that African Americans—who make up 13 percent of the U.S. population—disproportionately comprise U.S. COVID-19 fatalities, with many having underlying health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Income and wealth inequalities also tend to create greater disparities within communities of color, making access to adequate healthcare and healthy living an elusive and unaffordable necessity.

Pornography and Interactive Sexual Devices

Pornography is any medium that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to entice sexual imagination. Pornography has no beneficial use but damages human relationships. Mass communication technologies such as the Internet have expanded its reach to an unprecedented degree. Video and virtual reality have intensified its content. The introduction of sex robots that imitate human speech and sexual behaviors and are designed to perform sexual acts with humans are an extreme elaboration of pornography. All of these have dangerous psychological, social, and spiritual consequences.

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