Faith of a Father

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised; – Hebrews 10:23


Leave a comment

E-Book Release: Lessons Learned From A Heart Attack

https://faithofafather.com/free-ebook/

New E-Book Release, to get your free PDF file click here or on the ad to the right.  Feel free to share this link with your friends and family and let me know what you think.  Don’t forget to submit your reviews to Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Lessons From a Heart Attack: Family Perspective (Part 2)

Ashley is our oldest child, an active blogger  ( www.stayathomedaughter.com ) and is preparing for her wedding next April.  She guest posts on a number of popular Christian women’s blogs and has a heart for in depth studying God’s Word.  Amber is our middle child and has a passion for horses.  Her life testimony was recently observed on a website bulletin board and was asked by another young lady to share with her more about how to have a deeper relationship with God.   Sherry and I are so blessed.

“When I first heard the news that my dad was having a heart attack my heart stopped too.  It was completely unexpected and something that had never even crossed my mind as a concern.  My eyes filled with tears and I began to worry about the worse possible scenario. I knew what this could mean for us, I knew this could mean life would have to go on with all its special celebrations and every day events without my sweet daddy to share it with.  Who would help me choose a husband?  Who would walk down the aisle with me?  Where would I go to for wise godly council?  How could I live without him?

Though I did worry, though I did cry and my mind began to go numb with the overwhelmingness of it all, something stuck out in my mind.  A lesson I had begun to learn only a few months earlier.  God had started to drive into me a deeper understanding of His love, wisdom and sovereignty and with that the freedom to trust Him.  This lesson secured in my mind that night and stayed with me through the whole ordeal.  Though I was still very concerned a certain peace that can’t be explained came over me and I knew more than I had ever known that God intended good for me and my family.  I realized more fully that however this turned out we could make it through because God was in control and He desired to give us the best.

This trust was further emphasized when I recognized God’s sovereign hand in all the details; He had it completely under control.  How else could my father have been in the hospital with the doctors when the heart attack started?  Or how is it that I had planned to sit at the front of the church that Sunday night but “by chance” ended up sitting by the back door which made it easy to find me and make a quick exit?

Only a loving, all-wise God who is in control of it all could have orchestrate all of these and many, many more details so perfectly together.  My trust in Him was intensely strengthened.

I praise the Lord for His mercy in sparing my father’s life, a gift none of us deserve but will always be grateful for and for His gift of peace and trust that have stayed close by me even months later.”

–          Ashley

“When Daddy asked me to write on his blog it scared me, and for that reason I didn’t want to do it.  But the more I thought about it the more I said to myself “Why not?” So here it goes!

TRUST

Through the long nights of crying and long hours of walking and talking to God the more he seemed to comfort me.  Slowly I began to trust him more and more. Through all of this, God really showed me that he knows what’s going on and he hasn’t and won’t leave me.

I can still remember lying in bed talking to God and saying “God, I don’t know how this is going to end but your will be done! I trust you!” After that I just felt peace! Sure enough God did pull us through and Daddy is doing well!

I owe a BIG thanks to my Grandparents and Chris Cartwright. They were truly a blessing to me through all of that. And I can’t thank God enough for them.

So what did I learn? Trust God! He will never fail you!

I love you Daddy!”

–          Amber

Thanks Ashley and Amber for sharing your heart and thank you for your desire to grow in the Lord and to allowing Him to sanctify you through each life experience.  I love you both.  – Dad


Leave a comment

Lesson from a Heart Attack: I Have How Long? – Part 2

I have how long?

Today we are picking up where we left off from Lesson #5 entitled “I Have How Long”.

In Psalm 90:12 we read,

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

For what purpose does the Psalmist tell us to number our days?  So that we will recognize the brevity of this life and will live out our lives in wisdom.

So let me ask you, how many days do you have left to live?

According to the US Census Bureau, the average length of life in the US is 78.3 years and it is expected to go up to an “amazing” 79.5 by 2020.  If you lived until the ripe old age of 78 how many years would you have left?   For me, it would be 31 years remaining.  Now take out a calculator and multiply the years you have left by 365 days in a year.  Now you have done partially what the Psalmist asks.  I have approximately 11,315 days left with approximately 60% of my life already over.

What about you, how many days do you have left?

My desire is not to encourage us to be consumed with our mortality, but to take the time to regularly assess where we are in life and apply our hearts towards wisdom.  We so often apply our hearts toward family events like births, graduations, marriages, grandchildren and retirement and while these things are good, our actions and reactions in these areas are only a reflection of our pursuit or lack thereof of godly wisdom to our hearts.

Why should we apply our hearts towards wisdom?  We will not do an in depth study on wisdom but I’d like to provide a little insight for you to study out further.  To answer the question, why, we must first define wisdom.

What is Wisdom?

Wisdom is the ability to properly use and apply knowledge, therefore we must first have knowledge before we can have wisdom.  The application of wisdom in the Bible has three levels:

  1. Level one is defined as to have skills such as a craftsman (Ex 35:25-26, 30-36, Jer. 10:9).
  2. The second level is defined as having insight into life’s issues and problems, a problem solver.  I think of an engineer, an attorney, or a judge when I think of this level.  Here are the facts and here is how to solve the problem.  In many ways King Solomon would fall into this category (I Kings 3:1-15, I Kings 4:32-34).
  3. The third level is defined as a way of thinking and being, orderly and morally upright.  Allowing godly wisdom to flow in and through us.  This is the primary purpose of the book of Proverbs (examples: Prov 4:20-27, 22:6, 24:9)
  4. The Bible says in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” It doesn’t say fools despise knowledge, although some do, many fools, and yes even some in the educational system desire knowledge but they fail to have a level three kind of wisdom.   Have you ever heard someone you know that you consider pretty smart say to you they can’t understand the Bible? Or have you wondered why so many smart people reject God’s Word?  It is because they have a human knowledge and they don’t fear (reverence) the Lord.   They can only get to a level two wisdom because they ignore God’s knowledge (Word of God) and harden their hearts towards godly wisdom.  As we reverence the Lord, we will grow more and more in His knowledge, (reading His Word).  As we grow in His knowledge we recognize our human wisdom falls desperately short and it is His wisdom, His application of His knowledge that we need to live a wise and godly life.  So, we then desire more of His wisdom which we realize comes from knowing Him more – Godly knowledge.  (I Corinthians 2:1-16)
  5. It is a gift from God.  James 1:5 “But if any many lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraidth not; and it shall be given him.”   We cannot receive God’s wisdom but through His Spirit – I Corinth 2:14-16
  6. Wisdom is desired by the world.  This is seen in 1Kings 10:23-24

So now that we have a little better understanding of what wisdom is and where it comes from how do we apply our hearts towards wisdom?  How do we apply our hearts towards a level three kind of wisdom?  Here are 4 steps to doing this:

  1. Desire wisdom  Prov 3:13, Prov 4:5, Prov 19:8
  2. Recognize wisdom comes from God  Col 2:2, Psalm 119:18, Prov 2:6, Daniel 2:20, Eph 1:7James 1:5
  3. Pray for wisdom  James 1:5, Eph 1:17, Col 1:9
  4. Seek wisdom in God’s Word  Psalm 119:98

Additional reading on wisdom from  John MacArthur and John Piper

So how does numbering our days and applying wisdom play out in our lives in a practical way?  I see applying our hearts towards wisdom in two general ways. Come back for part three of this discussion and we will spend a little time on this subject.

Comments and feedback welcomed.


Leave a comment

Lesson #5 From a Heart Attack: “I Have How Long?” (part 1)

There are several reasons that I am writing these blog posts called Lessons from a Heart Attack.  First, for some personal accountability.  It has been six months since my attack and I need to continuously be reminded to stay on track, both physically and spiritually.  We have seen how easy it is to slip with good intentions.  By posting these lessons online, I am in a small way allowing myself to be seen by all and become accountable in a more public way.  The second reason I am posting is a hope that you, the reader might glean something from my ramblings.  I hope that these posts might be a catalyst for you to do more of an in-depth study in areas that are of interest or that may be convicting.

So let continue on…

Several hours after my heart attack and having settled into my hospital room, I still didn’t grasp the severity of what happened.   For some reason I wasn’t overly concerned and I began telling people I was ready to return to work the next day.  Of course that didn’t happen.  I don’t know if it was adrenaline or denial or both but in my mind I truly felt as if nothing serious had really happened to me.  Of course while I didn’t think it was much to get overly concerned about apparently someone wasn’t as nonchalant about the whole situation and being a typical guy, I didn’t pick up on the “hints” from that somebody.  My better, smarter and much wiser half was getting a “little” annoyed to say the least about my “no big deal” attitude.  She recognized the seriousness of what had and could have happened and I didn’t.  (Note to self:  Check to see if there is an online course on how to recognize hints from your wife.) 

To be honest I don’t remember exactly when but at some point during those first few days following my attack our doctor told us that 50% of the people who have my kind of heart attack don’t make it to the hospital.  This comment actually took several weeks to sink in before I realized that every second person who had the kind of heart attack that I had… DIED.    

Here are some stats according to buzzle.com  :

Approximately 1.5 million Americans suffer a heart attack in the United States every year, from which as many as 500,000 die.

Out of these 500,000 deaths recorded in the United States every year, 250,000 deaths occur on the way to the hospital.

In case of heart attack, 50 percent of deaths occur within an hour of the attack before they could get proper medical help.

According to a World Health Organization study, almost half the cases of heart attacks in the world are attributed to high blood pressure.

Heart attack is one of the most common health issue(sic) in the United States, with at least one case of the same for every 20 seconds and one fatality every minute.

Sudden death from a heart attack is more common in women than it is in men. According to the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction, women under the age of 50 are twice as likely to succumb to a heart attack as opposed to their male counterparts.

In 2010, heart attacks are estimated to cost the United States a whopping $316.4 billion in order to provide health care services, medications and, not to forget, lost productivity. (In the first month from my heart attack, mine cost $77,000)  With so many complications to its credit, heart attack is undoubtedly one of the most serious ailment in the world. And hence, it is better off to resort to the practice of healthy living and keep such health issues at bay.

Lesson #5 from a Heart Attack:  Don’t forget the brevity of this life.

My life could have easily been over at the age of 46 leaving a beautiful and loving wife and 5 wonderful kids alone without a Husband or Dad.  The reality of this thought brings serenity to the moment.

We are reminded by the Psalmist that this life is short.  In Psalm 90:10 we read, The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” 

And yet 70 years is not promised to us.  Recently, on two occasions I was once again reminded of the brevity of this life.  One day while at lunch, during the course of my developing this post I received notice that the son of a co-worker was severely injured in a vehicle accident.  He was 20 years old and fighting for his life.  A week past and this young man’s earthly struggle ended.  One moment he was carefree and living his life to the fullest, now he is gone.  Then again almost two weeks ago, I received an email telling me that a 21 year old young man who our family has known for 15 years died after a short battle with cancer.  We all no doubt have similar examples of the brevity of this life.  A young mother dies of cancer with a loving husband and 3 or 4 children grieving their loss.  A soldier, mortally wounded in Afghanistan, or maybe a father in the “prime if his life” dies of a heart attack.  We all have sobering examples.  Death comes so often when we least expect it.

As we continue to look to the Scriptures we read more about the brevity of our lives.

Job 7:1 Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?

Psalm 39:4  LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.

Psalm 78:39   For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

Proverbs 27:1  Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Luke 12:13-21 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.  And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?   And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.  And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:  And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?  And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.  But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

James 4:14-15 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.

I Peter 1:24    For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

At a Liberty University graduation event in 1997, Billy Graham told the students, “The greatest surprise in life to me is the brevity of life.”   Here is a man who lived a full and biblically successful life for God, at this writing he is 93 years old.  He is someone we would say has lived a long and full life, yet he acknowledges life’s brevity compared to eternity.

Many years ago I had the occasional pleasure of ministering with an old time evangelist by the name of B.M. Page.  He had printed up and handed out bumper stickers that said, “Cheer up, you’ll soon be dead.”  While an odd phrase, this saying brought many to contemplate their future and the brevity of this life.  He too lived to be in his 90’s I believe, and he would admit as well that the brevity of life was real.  Most of us will not live as long as these two godly men yet their lives were considered brief compared to eternity.  How much shorter will most of ours be?

Come back soon, to continue on with the second part of a three part post discussing Lesson #5.


1 Comment

Lesson #3 From a Heart Attack: We influence others more than we think!

Image

The day that I had my heart attack there was a whirlwind of events with many people involved.  After our initial visit at the doctor’s office my wife Sherry drove me to the hospital for my blood test.   It was then that we discuss who and when we should contact people to let them know that I was on the way to the hospital.  We figured it was a “just to be sure trip” with nothing important to tell so we figured we’d wait until we had the “all clear” and we’d let people know later what a wasted afternoon we had. 

Once the blood test was done to test for elevated enzymes we were told to get to the ER immediately.  We thought it was kind of odd at the time that we had to ask someone in the lab if they were going to show us the way through the hallways to the ER or if we had to find it ourselves.  Someone came out and we followed them.  Hey, maybe it’s not too bad; they didn’t even bother to wheel me up in a wheelchair.  At least I’m not gonna have a heart attack or something.

Once the ER realized my situation, everything went pretty fast.  Within minutes and while being prepped for a heart catherization I had my heart attack.  Sherry was trying to deal with the admissions person regarding our insurance, both her parents and my mom needed to be called, at church , during the middle of the service, with kids in various locations in the service.  Someone had to figure out what to do with the kids while our parents came to the hospital.  Fortunately, a good family friend, Chris, stayed with the kids that evening to keep them occupied.  While this is going on, I’m in the ER fussing about the consultant that I was to meet that night and all that I had to do in preparation for the next day’s offsite training I was coordinating for work.  There were six or more people in my ER bay, and probably 4 or five people had to be called in to work to staff in the cath lab during my procedure.    

Since my heart attack I have seen many nurses both in the hospital and out.  Of course I continue to have contact with my doctor, I had 12 sessions of Cardio rehab with 3-4 nurses at the rehab center managing all the patients in various fashion each visit.  While I was out of work my HR Coordinator Kristie had to cover for me, and of course my immediate family was a constant source of help and encouragement.   

I said all this to say:  You don’t live on an Island, you influence and affect others whether you know it or not. 

My heart attack affected and continues to affect many people.  The doctors and nurses, the medical staff that had to be called in for the catherization, my employer and coworkers, as well as the rehab people.   Apparently my heart attack has affected several men at church, or at least a number of women have told me it will!  And of course most of all my family was greatly impacted.  Our lifestyle at home has changed.  For one thing, no more do we have 3-5 boxes of ice cream open in the freezer!  My actions of eating what I wanted and as much as I wanted, my lack of regular exercise, and just plain procrastination of doing what was best no doubt assisted in my heart attack which has, as I said, affected many people, most importantly my family.  I am realizing that my heart attack even affects people with whom I will never have contact.  For example, the medical expenses for my heart attack cost tens of thousands of dollars which in turn can affect our insurance plan’s experience rate which in turn, while minimal, could have an effect on future rates.   The trickle-down effect of our influence runs further than we ever think.    

But just as my heart attack has affected many people positively and negatively in many different ways, I am reminded that everything I do and everything you do in the open and in secret will affect someone else.  My wife has a saying that she tells our children regularly, “You can choose your sin but you can’t choose your consequences or who will be affected by them.”  How true.  The things we do every day, those little things that don’t seem to add up to anything big, that candy bar, that extra hamburger, that lie, that secret sin,  affect not only you but those around you.  On the flip side, you can influence many people positively as well.  How you respond to crisis, how you encourage others, or how you exemplify integrity at work or with your family, these are just a few positive ways you can influence others. Stop and think about your day today.  Sit down and make a list of how you influenced others today both positively or negatively. 

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

It is really amazing when we think about it how much influence we have with other people.  Even that cashier you cheered up by saying a kind word or that driver you yelled some “not so nice” words at, you influenced even them.

Now what about your family?  How are you influencing them?  Are you a positive influence or negative influence?  Are you pointing others to Christ or are you pointing others towards the world, the flesh, and ungodliness?  Even as Christians we can become too comfortable at home where we say and do things we know we shouldn’t.  Why do you think so many children that were reared in a home with Christian parents stray from the Lord?  I submit to you that in many cases they see our hypocrisy.

The following are some verses that I have found regarding influence.  I’m sure you can add many more to this list.

I Corinthians 15:339(ESV)) – Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.

Psalm 1:1(ESV) – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.

Proverbs 13:20(ESV) – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

I Peter 3:15-16(ESV) – But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Proverbs 27:12(ESV) – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 22:24-25(ESV) – Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

Proverbs 13:20(ESV) – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

As we can see, there are many Scripture passages that reference our influence.  See more here 

My point is what we do, good or bad, right or wrong, godly or ungodly, in secret or in the open, out loud or only in our minds, everything we do will affect someone else.  It may have an affect short term or it may be years before it affects someone else, but it will.

I came across the following video sometime ago and I thought it would be appropriate here. 


Mom, Dad, how are you influencing those around you, especially your children?  Are you influencing others towards what is right?  What about your health?  Are you, am I, setting a good healthy example?  Do we watch what we eat and exercise like we should?  The Bible says to the Christian, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  What kind of temple do you want the Holy Ghost to live in?  What about your spiritual walk with the Lord, do your children, friends and co-workers see you striving to serve Him or do they see you striving to please yourself or others more?

We all have choices to make in our lives and each choice we make WILL affect those around you.  It may be physically, emotionally, financially, and most important spiritually.  What do others see in you?  A heart attack waiting to happen, or someone striving to be healthy?  Do they see someone serving self or seeking God?  The first to answers in these statements (heart attack and self)  will bring pain, misery and heartache, the second answers (health and God) will  bring contentment, joy and peace. 

The question is not are you influencing others, the question is HOW are you influencing others?


Leave a comment

Lessons From a Heart Attack #2

The day started off like any other normal Sunday.  The plan was to go to Sunday School and then the morning service at our church, spend the afternoon taking a nap and for our evening service as part of our monthly ministry, take the 4 younger kids downtown to the Salvation Army to play their instruments in the service for the homeless men.  But this Sunday evening was going to be a little different in that we were to play a number of Christmas songs, have the men join in the songs and pass out Christmas sugar cookies that the kids baked and decorated.  This was going to be a great day serving the Lord and others.  As you’ve guessed, it didn’t end up as we planned.

We came home from the morning service and had lunch.  Seven out of ten Sundays we usually have spaghetti.  It is quick and easy.  Then it was nap time!  I lay down but couldn’t get comfortable.  No matter how I laid, I couldn’t get this pain in my chest to go away.  I took some Tums assuming that it was indigestion from the spaghetti sauce but it didn’t seem to help.  For about 2 .5 hours I tossed and turned with Sherry sleeping soundly beside me of course.  Finally I thought tea would help so I got up and began making the tea but soon realized that I really needed to see the doctor.  I felt stupid for going to the doctor’s office for something that was probably nothing.  They’d examine me, tell me to take some Pepcid or something and to be careful with what I eat from now on, but I knew something wasn’t right.

At about 4 PM we arrived at the doctor’s office and they began to run some tests.  My chest hurt with intermittent pain and my tongue was swollen and I was very anxious.  After an exam and a perfectly normal looking EKG, the doctor felt that it was an allergic reaction to the spaghetti sauce and gave me a steroid shot, Benadryl and a nasty cocktail of meds to chug down.  She continued to reassure us that she really felt it was not my heart but an allergic reaction and that the meds should help.  During all this time my pain continued to come and go and while I understood what the doctor was saying, something just didn’t seem right.

The doctor could tell I was very anxious and while she felt this was an allergic reaction and not a heart issue she decide that “to help her sleep better” she wanted to send us to the hospital’s lab to test for an enzyme that is secreted during a heart episode.  Was this her gut or training telling her to double check?  Or was it her way of trying to ease my anxiety?  Regardless, Sherry and I fully believe that it was the Lord prompting her to get further testing done on my heart.

stock photo : Drawing BloodWe arrived at the hospital lab and within about 45 minutes we were being told that we need to go up to the ER.  Once there, we stood around for about 5 minutes while my doctor, who had called in to the ER discussed my condition with the ER staff.  Within 15-20 minutes of arriving in the ER and while being prepped for the Heart Cath Lab I had my heart attack.  My EKG spiked showing the attack and then once the meds kicked in it went back to normal, this is what they expected to see with the meds clearing the blockages.  Within 30 minutes from arriving in the ER I was being wheeled into the Cath Lab.  Two 100% blockages were found and two 50% blockages, not what they expected to see with a good EKG.  A long stint was place in the front artery fixing both 100% blockages and meds will be used to treat the partial blockages.  As I said, the odd thing was that after the attack the EKG went back to showing a normal healthy pattern even with the blockages and remember I also mentioned that the EKG at the doctor’s office showed my heart function was normal as well.   As the doctor who did the stint put it, “He couldn’t trust my EKG’s”.  For some reason they were not picking up the blockages.   

Lesson #2:  Things are not always what they appear

You must be willing to consider more then what the initial tests are telling you and seek the root cause.   If you suspect the answer is wrong even when you’re told it is right, pursue wisdom, knowledge, understanding.

The more I live, the more I am amazed at how God has created our bodies and how complex we are.  Anyone that has any remote understand of our body’s complexity surely cannot believe in the process of evolution.  The fact that God has made our bodies to tell us when something is wrong by way of aches, pains, swelling and at times even by a sensation, a taste or odd feeling in an area of our body is truly amazing.   When the doctor told us she believed my condition was an allergic reaction and not a heart attack, I could not tell you why but that answer didn’t seem right, there had to be more to it.  I could not express it verbally at the time but she obviously could see my continued uneasiness and anxiety.  The first answer wasn’t cutting it and I was somewhat relieved when my doctor decided more testing was needed.

Our medical professionals are very educated and have spent years learning about our bodies, diseases and conditions and how to treat us as patients.  They have a lot of wisdom and knowledge and I for one am very thankful for their dedication.  Like all fields of science, a lot of their diagnosis and treatment plans are based on percentages and norms.  (This is because God has created our universe with order but that is another topic for study.  I’d recommend those interested in learning more about our universe and it’s order to visit Anwers in Genesis).  Doctors prescribe treatments and medication based on outcomes that have been consistently tested, verified and proven to work in most instances.  Yet given all of that precision and accuracy God did not create us to be robots but has created our minds to question things when the pieces don’t seem to quite fit.  Fortunately, most doctors are also willing to consider their initial assessments.  Their egos aren’t as big as many of us think.  They are able and willing to factor in additional information (a patient’s anxiety for example) and consider additional options and evaluations as needed.  Sometimes, even they must rely on their “gut” feelings as they too realize that the first answer is not always the right answer even when the test says it is the right answer.  I am living proof of this and am extremely grateful to my God first as well as to my doctor.

Allow me to insert a short rabbit trail here on how the first answer is not always the right answer.             A number of years ago, my wife was admitted to the hospital due to some medical concerns just shortly before the birth of one of our children.  It was time to do another check on the baby’s condition and so they strapped up a nearby monitor to check our baby’s heart rate.  As they watch the monitor panic set in, they couldn’t find the heartbeat!  Our baby was in distress and immediate surgery was being considered.  More medical personnel hurried in and things started to happen quickly.  Fortunately before too much time had elapse, my father in law looked at the monitor and read the sign attached, “Broken, Do Not Use”.  My father in law commented later that maybe they needed a new office at the hospital called the Office of Common Sense.  While somewhat humorous now, my point again is that sometimes we must push past what we initially believed to be true and seek the root cause.  The first answer is not always the right answer.

Let me ask you this question, how much is a husband worth to his wife or a father to his children?  My doctor could have easily assumed the allergic reaction was the only issue based on symptoms and test results and then she could have given me an Epipen injection and sent me home with a prescription.  She could have avoided the more costly, more invasive procedure and stayed with what seemed the most obvious.  But she knew something was not right, and she pursued it, even when the first answer appeared to be an easy one.  She knew a few extra dollars in cost was well worth what was at stake.  For that we are grateful. 

Now consider your spiritual life.  Far too often we live our lives taking the quick and easy answers, answers that are many times comfortable and acceptable; ones that don’t create a backlash or stir up controversy.  We don’t want to “make waves” so we go with the flow, what is expected, what everyone else is saying or doing.  The term tolerance comes to mind.  Tolerance can be a good thing but our society has perverted this term to mean acceptance of sin.  Oftentimes these answers may come in the form of a preacher or pastor expounding eloquently on the virtues of self acceptance and self reliance instead of teaching that man is depraved.  Unfortunately these “comfortable” and “non-invasive” teachings come from world’s philosophies that contradict the Scriptures. 

I’m reminded of a book written back in 1976 entitled “I’m OK, You’re OK” by Thomas Harris.  I’m afraid many self proclaimed Christians have accepted this worldview.  The problem with this Navy psychiatrist’s premise is that we are NOT ok.  We all have a sin nature and come short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) and as Isaiah 64:6 says all our righteousness are as filthy rags.  We need a radical change in our spiritual hearts and that is to willingly commit our lives to Jesus Christ and  be willing to allow His control in all areas of our lives.  In essence, we need to die to self and live for Christ.

Many Christians and unbelievers alike don’t mind the spiritual steroid shots (feel good sermons) and the spiritual placebo capsules (a quick superficial prayer, an all roads lead to heaven worldview or even an “I’m not that bad” attitude) for the “simple” answers to our spiritual needs, but unfortunately our spiritual needs should not be taken lightly.  I can only imagine what my household would be like today if my doctor had taken the “first” or “simple” answer of only an allergic reaction.  Instead of celebrating my birthday several days ago, my family most likely would be still mourning my death.  Just like many people don’t want to be bothered with actually dealing with serious medical conditions, so too many don’t like to pursue the more invasive spiritual answers that pierce our soul and convict us.  To consider that we might be spiritually going down the wrong path, injecting our lives with the feel good but wrong answers and downing the placebos of self and pride are ideas many don’t want to consider.  We don’t want to think ill of ourselves and our need for spiritual heart surgery.  Like my doctor who ignored “conventional” wisdom, we must be willing to count the cost of the pursuit and be willing to allow the action necessary to truly reap the benefits for our soul.

I believe the reason that many believers and unbelievers alike never go past what they deem as the easy or comfortable spiritual answers, is because of one of the following three reasons:

  1. We are afraid to know the truth and try to convince ourselves that ignorance is bliss and therefore we won’t be held accountable.  But we know that this answer is only an attempt to deceive ourselves.  Answer:  I Corinthians 3:18, I John 1:8, I John 2:4, Romans 14:11-12
  2. We don’t know where else to go to get the truth.  Answer: John 8:31, John14:17, II Timothy 3:16
  3. We really know the truth yet we somehow think that if we ignore it, it will somehow just go away.  This is the area where I think so many of those who name the Name of Christ fall.  Answer:  Romans 1:18-32, II Timothy 4:3-4, I John 1: 5-10, James 4:17

We all come to a point in our lives where we have to make a choice.  We can choose the answers that the world tells us is right and only address the superficial needs in our life or we can pursue what our sinful nature wants to reject and yearn for the more invasive answer to satisfy our soul.

Like the event that took me to the doctor on that Sunday, the answers we seek for our spiritual lives will have consequences – Heaven or Hell, in fellowship or out of fellowship with God.

Like my doctor who was willing to pursue her “gut feeling” even though the tests indicated nothing more needed to be done, we too must be willing to look past what the world says about God and His Word and seek the truth.  It is literally a matter of life and death.

If you’re getting that still small voice within telling you there is more to life then what the world has to offer, if it is telling you that the world’s “right” is really wrong, pursue the Lord.  Ask the Holy Spirit to direct your path, ask Him to guide you in your questions and search.  Matthew 7:7-8.  (John MacArthur has a great read on the Ministry of the Holy Spirit here). 

We must be willing to look past what appears to be the obvious and pursue the right diagnosis both in our physical and spiritual life, it really is a matter of life and death.