All posts by Dr. Nick

The Lord Thy Surgeon

Hamilton and Perfection

It has been a long time since the last blog post.  Thank you to one encouraging reader who said, “Are you still posting on your blog? I keep checking the website to see if a new one is up.” I’ve been so busy recently moving up into a leadership job at the hospital that I work at. Secondly, I feel an overwhelming sense of the need for perfection when writing.  At times, I feel paralyzed at writing the wrong thing or typing something that I won’t want on the internet FOREVER…

But I truly believe that we cannot be afraid of failure.  Failure is the beginning of new growth.  Failure is an opportunity for improvement. As Michael Jordan said, “”I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.” Is he not considered one of the best of all-time at basketball? Failure allows us to see our needs in Christ.

Recently, I was in Chicago and had the opportunity to watch the Broadway show “Hamilton.” I think I had been spending more time thinking about how special our country is prior to going to the show but the forethought that the founding fathers had to keep the Union together is overwhelming and inspiring.  Can you imagine 13 “united” states trying to decide on a “Constitution” or agreement of how they would govern themselves together?  As Hamilton states in the first Federalist Paper, “The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

Can men govern themselves? Can they reflect on the important questions and choose how their government would look rather than being pushed around by the forces around them?  After Jacob wrestled with God, God gave him the name Israel (Genesis 32:28). Israel means “God governed.” The people were under God’s government until they demanded their own government and chose King Saul.  It was downhill with Saul as the “people’s choice.” I’d argue that we’re in the same situation now.  If it were not for God holding this Union together, we’d have destroyed it already.

What amazes me so much about the founders is how they knew how bad men were.  Or at least they knew even good men could go bad.  Hamilton, in the first federalist paper, also says this, “So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society.” I truly believe that there are good men on both sides of the spectrum that are truly misguided.  And in the age of Twitter, the information just whizzes by us in such rapid fashion.  How could we possibly fact-check all the information that might “give a false bias to judgement”?  Perhaps some cooler heads might prevail in polarized political debates if we first see that we both want the best for our nation but have different ways of solving the problem.  I believe we frequently assume bad intentions of our neighbors rather than poor plans.  Are their motives really hateful or just misguided?

Finally, in closing his first Federalist paper, Hamilton writes, “I propose, in a series of papers, to discuss the following interesting particulars: THE UTILITY OF THE UNION TO YOUR POLITICAL PROSPERITY, THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE PRESENT CONFEDERATION TO PRESERVE THAT UNION, THE NECESSITY OF A GOVERNMENT AT LEAST EQUALLY ENERGETIC WITH THE ONE PROPOSED, TO THE ATTAINMENT OF THIS OBJECT THE CONFORMITY OF THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTION TO THE TRUE PRINCIPLES OF REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT, ITS ANALOGY TO YOUR OWN STATE CONSTITUTION and lastly, THE ADDITIONAL SECURITY WHICH ITS ADOPTION WILL AFFORD TO THE PRESERVATION OF THAT SPECIES OF GOVERNMENT, TO LIBERTY, AND TO PROPERTY.”

The pace of Hamilton and the Federalist papers was furious with 51 essays in not even a year. For me, perhaps the paralysis of trying to attain perfection will pass and the passion for posting will return. Perhaps, we’ll call it writing by faith about faith.  One other interesting observation from the Broadway play, Hamilton, was the reflection of Aaron Burr and his legacy.  (He did so much and basically, he is remembered only for shooting Hamilton.)  May God help us press on by faith to have a legacy of faith.

Therefore, I propose that I continue writing to show you the utility of union with Christ to your eternal prosperity, the insufficiency of the present confederation with the world to preserve yourself, the necessity of a relationship with Christ to the attainment of Life proposed in the Bible to true principles of God, its contrast to your own state of confusion, and lastly, the eternal security which your adoption as son will be to your preservation of liberty and prosperity under God. (Eph 2:8-9, Rom 3:23-28, Rom 8:31-39, Heb 7:25, Rom 5:10-11)

The Lord Thy Surgeon

Eve: Retweeting the First Fake News

Eve: Retweeting the First Fake News

This past week, my attention was caught by a podcast on “fake news.” I frequently listen to the podcast “Intelligence Squared” which also has a debate podcast that brings up interesting topics that are debated by experts in the field being discussed.  The title of the podcast was “Fake News: The Facts.” It was interesting to hear the panel’s discussion and their views on what “fake news” was and whether it was “bad” and who was to blame.  Much of the discussion revolved around Donald Trump’s tweets, climate change, Russian meddling, Facebook censoring/flagging, free speech, and defining what “fake news” really was.

Two things struck me regarding the discussion: 1. We are becoming terrible at debate. Instead of debate, we insult the other side and do not try to think from another’s position.  A good position should be able to withstand debate and attempts to discredit. 2. “Fake News” sounds a whole lot like “half-truth” which is not truth at all but a lie or deception. Many of the panel felt that the “fake news” had become a dangerous and pressing issue today.  One of the commentators disagreed, however, stating that “fake news” was nothing new under the sun.  My mind then went to pondering where “fake news” originated and the book of Genesis came to mind.

In Genesis 2:15, God tells Adam, “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.” Adam had only one command: Don’t eat of one tree. Was this fake news? Was God to be trusted? Was it TRUE that he would surely die? Now, Eve comes on the scene and everything is perfect in the garden until the serpent enters with his deception.

“Now the serpent was more shrewd than any of the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Is it really true that God said, ‘You must not eat from any tree of the orchard’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the orchard; but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it, or else you will die.’” (Gen. 3:1-3)

Is it really TRUE that God said you will die…? Is this not a twist on the actual truth? The woman saw that the tree produced fruit good to eat and she took some and ate it and then gave some to the man.  (Gen. 3:6) Does the “fake news” look good and juicy? And do we not consume it readily and share it with our brothers and sisters? Absolutely, we do.  It seems to me we have an insatiable desire for the “fake news.” Have we gone so far with Immanuel Kant that we believe truth does not exist? Absurdity sells papers.  A lie can position one for political gain.  Ultimately, truth will stand the test of fire.  A laying bare of the facts will show truth for what it is.  Truth is reality.  Truth is the way things really are.

In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.” In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word emeth (אמת) is our word for truth. It means “stability, certainty, truth, trustworthiness, assuredly, establishment, faithful, right, sure, true, and verity.” The Greek word for Truth, aletheia (ἀλήθεια), has similar meanings of portraying reality or being judicially upright. You see whatever reality is, God is truth. In the Psalms, David frequently refers to God as the God of Truth and he refers to God’s truth sustaining him.  God is the originator of Truth.  If there is anything stable and firm, God is it.  The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology puts it this way, “The word truth denotes something that conforms to actuality, is faithful to a standard, or involves sincerity or integrity. The ground for truth is reality itself.”

Jesus is that reality.  We can think of it in a different way in John 14:6. Jesus says, “I am the way, the reality, and the life.” Was it not the “fake news” that lead us astray? All God wanted was our trust in His word. In the beginning, everywhere was life and God was speaking about death. After the fall, everywhere is death and God is speaking about life.

I would argue that the historical evidence for the resurrection is sure and withstands the test of further investigation.  For more information, read “Who moved the Stone?” by Frank Morrison or “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis.  With regards to “fake news” as it pertains to “climate change”, Russian investigations, or whatever the topic may be, perhaps we would be better off to investigate and lay bare the facts rather than to just retweet the “news.” It seems silly to me that one side or the other will only insult the other for their “ridiculous” ideas rather than having an open debate.  Even Einstein had 100 scientists tell him that his Theory of Relativity was wrong and line up against him.  His reply, “Why one hundred? If I were wrong, one would have been enough.” Perhaps, we need less of the hundreds of thousands of tweets and retweets of “fake news” and we need more of the Good News.  The One who is Truth.  May we always turn to God for all Truth. For He IS Truth! Feel free to retweet and share this Good News!

The Lord Thy Surgeon

Passover and Jesus

What does the Passover have to do with Jesus?

What does the Passover have to do with Jesus? The Eucharist or Holy Communion is a celebration of the Passover.  About 10 years ago, I attended a celebration of Passover with Messianic Christians while in Arizona during medical school.  The celebration of Passover with the group Tikvah Ba Midbar (Hope in the Desert) changed my life.  For the first time, I saw the connection of our Jewish roots as Christians.  I always wondered how eggs and bunnies made it into the celebration of Easter.  What do eggs and bunnies have to do with Jesus raising from the dead?  Really, not much.  It turns out that our word “Easter” comes from the pagan goddess Ishtar.  Ishtar is a fertility goddess.  She was a goddess of love, war, and sexuality and known as the “courtesan of the gods.”  The celebration of Easter as the resurrection of Jesus Christ should not be discounted however.  Since nearly the second or third century, Christians have been celebrating Easter as the resurrection of Christ.  However, is it surprising that the Enemy would weave in eggs and bunnies to pollute the meaning of this time?

There is still much debate about Easter and when it should be celebrated. Western and Eastern Christianity set the date using different calendars.  Western Christianity (Roman Catholicism and most Protestantism) set the date using the Gregorian calendar and Eastern Christianity (Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox) set the date using the Julian calendars.  Easter is a moveable holiday and occurs in the spring between March 22nd and May 8th.  It is dependent on the equinox of the sun and which calendar one is using.  Passover, however, is always celebrated on 14 Nisan (in the Jewish calendar). It begins at sunset on 14 Nisan and goes until sunset on 15 Nisan.  Passover is technically only a one-day celebration.  However, it is usually observed together with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which goes until the 21st of Nisan.  Within the Feast of Unleavened Bread is another feast, the Feast of First Fruits on 16 Nisan.  Why so much time discussing dates? Because, these feasts are prophetic of Christ’s resurrection.  They were implemented more than 3000 years before Christ came on the scene of history.  They were and are celebrated by God’s chosen people, Israel.

Let us get back to the Passover story now.  I had heard the story of the Exodus before but until going to the Passover Seder (say-der) in Arizona, I had not realized that the entire story of redemption by Christ was packed into the Passover.  Each year, Jews all over the world celebrate the Passover in their homes.  The Passover is the really the story of the exodus of the Israelites.  However, after the Israelites escaped from captivity and were delivered into freedom, God proclaimed the remembrance of that deliverance by celebrating the Passover feast.

The Story of the Passover:

The Israelites were in bondage in Egypt.  They were enslaved and treated cruelly by Pharaoh.  They were forced to make bricks from clay and straw in hard labor.  God promises the Israelites with four “I will’s.” He says, “I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with might acts of judgment. I will take you as my people and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:6-7)

God had already chosen his people and told them that he would deliver them and make them free and take them as their God.  Moses then went by God’s command to speak to Pharaoh to ask for the Israelites freedom.  God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and made him resistant to Moses’ request.  So, God sent ten plagues on the people.  God first made the water of the Nile into blood, then sent frogs, gnats, flies, cattle disease, boils, hail, locusts, and covered the land with darkness.  Finally, God sent the death of the firstborn.  However, before God sent the tenth plague, God instituted the Passover. On the tenth day of the month, the Israelites were to bring a 1-year-old unblemished lamb into the household.  They were to care for it for 4 days and then on the 14th day, cut its throat, take the blood and put it over the doorpost.  They were to roast it over fire and eat it in haste with their sandals on their feet and staff in hand. They were to be careful not to break a bone in its body and any uneaten portions were to be burned in the fire.  (Exodus 12:1-15) God also commanded that they put away yeast from their households and to eat bread that was baked without yeast (unleavened bread, i.e. matzo) for 7 days.

The blood of the lamb was placed over the door and the death angel literally “passed over” the house and the firstborn of the house was spared.  This is where the term “Passover” comes from.  Finally Pharaoh released the people.  God delivered them through the Red Sea through the wilderness and eventually after 40 years to the Promised Land.

Passover and the Lord’s Supper

As we have previously discussed, the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist or Holy Communion IS the Passover celebration revealed.  In Matthew 26, we find Jesus celebrating the Passover with his disciples.  In the Passover meal, we find 4 cups that are taken during feast. The first two are taken before the meal.  These are the Cup of Sanctification/Freedom and the Cup of Deliverance.  There is then a meal and a breaking of bread together.  After the meal, there are two more cups taken together. These are the Cup of Redemption and the Cup of Thanksgiving.  Before the third cup, half of a matzo called the “Afikomen” which was previously hidden by the father of the house is found.  The Afikomen is the portion of matzo that Christ took after/during the meal and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.”   After the bread, He took the third cup, the Cup of Redemption stating to His disciples, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:27-29).

What is interesting is how perfectly Christ fits the prophesy of the Passover. We refer to Christ as the Passover Lamb. (1 Cor 5:7, 1 Pe 1:19) If one looks at matzo, we find that it has holes (piercings) that are in lines (stripes).  Isaiah 53:5 states that “He was wounded (pierced) for transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (NKJV).

Now let us clarify the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah.  The Jews look back at their deliverance in the past that God promised. But they also look towards a future deliverer, a Messiah.  Jesus, who is God incarnate, steps in as the perfect sacrifice to cleanse the people of their sins.  Hebrews (4:14-16) clarifies Jesus’ status as a high priest.  Each day required that the priests offered animals for their sins and the sins of themselves.  But even the priests were imperfect and the animals were a stand-in for a coming perfect sacrifice.  Jesus, living a completely obedient life, offers Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the people.  He celebrates the prophesy with His disciples that HE is the redeemer.  The Cup of Redemption is a celebration of His blood spilled to cover the sins of all.  The bread, which was broken, is a representation of Him who was pierced for our transgressions.  The Jews were required to take the blood of the lamb and offer it at the temple each year during the Passover.  However, after the temple was destroyed, Orthodox Judaism finds that the bread stands in AS the lamb because there is no place to offer the sacrifice for Passover.  Again, let me emphasize, Jesus takes the “Afikomen” (αφικομην) which is a Greek word meaning, “Coming one” or “I am come” and he says, “Take, eat, this is my body.”  This is the lamb that made the Israelites strong and ready to be delivered.  It is the lamb that healed them.  It is the blood that kept them from death.

Let us get back to the dates and connect what Passover should mean to the Christian.  Passover has been celebrated for nearly 5000 years.  It is always on the 14th of Nisan.  It is based on the lunar calendar and it is unchanged.  It is not based on a solar calendar or in an Eastern or Western church.  Passover was implemented before Christ came.  For the Christian, Passover is a prophetic sign of Christ’s coming and resurrection.  For the Christian, Passover is also a historical remembrance of Christ’s coming and resurrection.  Christ is our Passover Lamb. The Eucharist, the “Thanksgiving,” the “Communion” is what Passover entails. We truly are celebrating the death angel’s “passing over” us when we place Christ’s blood on the doorpost of our hearts. We commemorate His intercession for us as we participate in the Eucharist, which is truly the Passover.

Grander RoundsThe Lord Thy Surgeon

Death: A Gateway to…

An aneurysm ruptures as an 85 y/o woman talks on the phone with her only relative, a niece, 150 miles away. She dies hours later in my Emergency Room. A 40 y/o woman and her 6 y/o child have their passenger side destroyed by a driver running a stoplight. They never make it from the scene.

At times, it seems as though I am (we are) surrounded by death. I joke with my staff and residents to ease the tension, “All of us are dying. Some of us just get moved to the front of the line.” Death is experienced by all of us. Sometimes we look in. Sometimes we endure the loss. Sometimes, we are up. All of us deal with it differently. We all fear the unknown.

My wife worries about something happening to me. Finishing my will seems morbid and is difficult to complete. Though important, I know that when the will is “executed” I will be dead. It is a plan for what I hope won’t happen, at least not any time soon. My parents are essentially my oldest relatives. One by one, my grandparents departed.

“I’m ready to meet my Jesus.” A few nights ago, I prayed with a patient for the first time in a long time. The words proceeded from my mouth jumbled and awkward. It was short and not so eloquent. “Watch over this child of God. Comfort her in her pain. Bring Mrs. H to be with you,” was the gist of it. I had just diagnosed Mrs. H with pancreatic cancer at age 89. She had been trying to get a CT scan for the past several weeks with insurance not approving it because certain tests had not been ordered yet. She showed up in the ED with worsening pain and looking for answers with her daughter. She seemed otherwise content but desiring to know why she continued to have persistent abdominal pain. A CT scan a few hours after her arrival delivered to me the answer, “Pancreatic mass concerning for pancreatic adenocarcinoma with severe dilation of the pancreatic duct.” This diagnosis hits me like a train. As we have been told in medical school and on our surgical rotations, “Don’t mess with the pancreas!” (Using slightly more colorful language typically.) I knew that this was likely a terminal diagnosis. For a 30 or 40 year old, it might be a diagnosis of struggle and a year or two of intense pain before the inevitable death. Or if extra lucky, a longer course with the constant fear of return of the cancer of the “Whipple procedure” (which again is one of the most intense surgeries one can have.) In the face of death, this 89 year old didn’t ask about surgery or how long she had to live or what chemo she could have. She didn’t even ask for more pain medication. After I had explained to her daughters about the mass, she succinctly said, “I’m ready to meet my Jesus.”

I’ve met death many times in my emergency room. Some people fear it fiercely and others, like the 89 y/o woman above, seem relieved. For the Christian, death is a departure. Physical death is the body releasing the soul to be with God. The early church fathers viewed death not as the endpoint but as the beginning. Paul states, “For I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for me to depart is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day – and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.” 2 Tim 4:6-8

Nearly 50 executed in a nightclub. Dozens shot in a theater. Schools seem unsafe. This year freshmen in high school will learn about 9/11 as history. I feel old(er).

For the atheist, death is “the end.” It is nothingness. What does the atheist have to say at your suffering and dying? Is death (and this life) not absurdity and meaningless? “I’m glad it’s you and not me.”

As Christians, do we not have a different outlook? What have we “to fear”? Christ conquered death. For the Christian, spiritual death is put to death by Christ. Spiritual death comes from the fall.   Christ, who knew no sin, took on the likeness of sinful flesh and was sinless. Hosea and Paul exclaim, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Cor 15:55

Our favorite comedians die of overdoses. 5000 abortions happen every day in America. Every day. A prominent and influential Christian writer is diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. A 28 y/o is on hospice, dying of ovarian cancer. A toddler dies of methamphetamine overdose after he puts a filter paper in his mouth in a rat infested basement while his mother gets a pop with her boyfriend at the local gas station. At times, it seems like death is on every corner and takes the most innocent.

In my emergency room, there is no shortage of those suffering and dying. In some senses, we only prolong the inevitable. I think it would be a grim profession if this was all we did. There is hope. The only place I know of this hope is in Jesus. We fell away from God when we transgressed His Law. Only one command existed at the beginning, “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or you will surely die.” We did. It has been separation ever since.   Spiritual death reigns over us. The consequence is physical death. HOWEVER, God gave His only Son. Christ died that we should LIVE. Death is not the end. Christ resurrected from the dead. Death is a gateway to eternity with God for all who believe in Jesus. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. John 14:6

For the Christian, death is not to be feared. Death is a reunion with God. We will shed off this body of death and live with Him in eternity. This life is only the beginning. As Paul states, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean productive work for me, yet I don’t know which I prefer: I feel torn between the two, because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body.” Phil 1:22-24

The word “depart” is just like a ship leaving harbor. The journey is just beginning. May we have confidence that Christ paid the price that we may be united with Him. Christ is our forerunner. He has conquered death. We have nothing to fear about death. As my 89 y/o sister said, “I’m ready to meet my Jesus.”

The Lord Thy Surgeon

Don’t Fret When Terrorism Comes!

Don’t Fret When Terrorism Comes!

I am not sure what the next course of action is in this tumultuous time that we live in. I came across Psalm 37 and it seemed fitting. Commit your way to the Lord! Trust in Him!

Psalm 37 – By David.

1 Do not fret when wicked men seem to succeed!
Do not envy evildoers!
2 For they will quickly dry up like grass,
and wither away like plants.
Trust in the Lord and do what is right!
Settle in the land and maintain your integrity!
4 Then you will take delight in the Lord,
and He will answer your prayers.
Commit your future to the Lord!
Trust in Him, and He will act on your behalf.
He will vindicate you in broad daylight,
and publicly defend your just cause.
Wait patiently for the Lord!
Wait confidently for Him!
Do not fret over the apparent success of a sinner,
a man who carries out wicked schemes!
Do not be angry and frustrated!
Do not fret! That only leads to trouble!
9 Wicked men will be wiped out,
but those who rely on the Lord are the ones who will possess the land.
10 Evil men will soon disappear;
you will stare at the spot where they once were, but they will be gone.
11 But the oppressed will possess the land
and enjoy great prosperity.
12 Evil men plot against the godly
and viciously attack them.
13 The Lord laughs in disgust at them,
for he knows that their day is coming.
14 Evil men draw their swords
and prepare their bows,
to bring down the oppressed and needy,
and to slaughter those who are godly.
15 Their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
16 The little bit that a godly man owns is better than
the wealth of many evil men,
17 for evil men will lose their power,
but the Lord sustains the godly.
18 The Lord watches over the innocent day by day
and they possess a permanent inheritance.
19 They will not be ashamed when hard times come;
when famine comes they will have enough to eat.
20 But evil men will die;
the Lord’s enemies will be incinerated –
they will go up in smoke.
21 Evil men borrow, but do not repay their debt,
but the godly show compassion and are generous.
22 Surely those favored by the Lord will possess the land,
but those rejected by him will be wiped out.
23 The Lord grants success to the one
whose behavior He finds commendable.
24 Even if he trips, he will not fall headlong,
for the Lord holds his hand.
25 I was once young, now I am old.
I have never seen a godly man abandoned,
or his children forced to search for food.
26 All day long he shows compassion and lends to others,
and his children are blessed.
27 Turn away from evil! Do what is right!
Then you will enjoy lasting security.
28 For the Lord promotes justice,
and never abandons His faithful followers.
They are permanently secure,
but the children of evil men are wiped out.
29 The godly will possess the land
and will dwell in it permanently.
30 The godly speak wise words
and promote justice.
31 The law of their God controls their thinking;
their feet do not slip.
32 Evil men set an ambush for the godly
and try to kill them.
33 But the Lord does not surrender the godly,
or allow them to be condemned in a court of law.
34 Rely on the Lord! Obey His commands!
Then He will permit you to possess the land;
you will see the demise of evil men.
35 I have seen ruthless evil men
growing in influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil.
36 But then one passes by, and suddenly they have disappeared!
I looked for them, but they could not be found.
37 Take note of the one who has integrity! Observe the godly!
For the one who promotes peace has a future.
38 Sinful rebels are totally destroyed;
evil men have no future.
39 But the Lord delivers the godly;
He protects them in times of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and rescues them;
He rescues them from evil men and delivers them,
for they seek His protection.

May God watch over you wherever you are! Commit your path to Him! Trust in the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul!  I can only attest that He has always brought me through.  When there seems to be no hope in a hopeless world, trust in Him!

(Picture: Raft of Medusa by Jean Louis Theodore Gericault)

The Lord Thy Surgeon

2016 EM Convocation Invocation

Graduates,

Thank you for asking me to do the invocation. Now, that you are almost finished, let me take a moment to ask you to never forget why you chose this noble profession of medicine. Don’t lose sight of your purpose as a physician. T.S. Eliot so eloquently put it, “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” Keep focused on your mission to heal others and comfort them in their time of need. Guard this profession with integrity with your goal being that at the end of your life you can hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Proverbs 2 says this,

1 My child , if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,

2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;

3 For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;

4 If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;

5 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

8 Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.

9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.

10 For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

11 Discretion will guard you, (and)
Understanding will watch over you.

Let us pray together:

Heavenly Father! Watch over these young men and women as they move on in this profession of medicine! Thank you for bringing them this far through many trials and tribulations! Bless their eyes that they may see the problems that their patients face. Bless their ears to listen attentively to their staff and those around them. Bless their mouths that that they may give sound instruction and comforting words! Bless their feet that they may go quickly to those in distress. Bless their hands that they may heal those who desperately need them. Most importantly bless their minds that they may know Your purpose for them! Fill their heart with courage and endurance to carry on when there seems to be no hope! And when they complete their tasks, let them be joyful and satisfied; knowing that true healing comes only from You! Thank you for this meal. Bless each one gathered here to celebrate the hard-work of these physicians! We ask all these things in Jesus name!  Amen

The Lord Thy Surgeon

Doing Justice: What is Legal is not always Right.

What is Legal is not always Right.

Does the law determine what is right? Where do we determine what is right? Is our country based in majoritarianism or are we in submission to God? Much debate surrounds the appointment of the next Supreme Court justice to replace Justice Scalia. Will the Republicans confirm Obama’s appointment? Will the next President choose the appointment? Five of the eight current justices are Catholic (Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, Roberts, and Sotomayor) The other three are Jewish (Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan) One might expect them to come to overwhelming decisions that reflect that true justice can only be obtained if the law comes from God. This seems not to be the case.

Let us back up though. Arthur Leff in 1979 may have framed the situation best in an article in the Duke Law Journal regarding constitutional law. “I want to believe—and so do you—in a complete, transcendent, and immanent set of propositions about right and wrong, findable rules that authoratively and unambiguously direct us how to live righteously. I also want to believe—and so do you—in no such thing, but rather that we are wholly free, not only to choose for ourselves what we ought to do, but to decide for ourselves, individually and as a species, what we ought to be. What we want, Heaven help us, is simultaneously to be perfectly ruled and perfectly free, that is, at the same time to discover the right and the good and to create it.”

By “findable” rules, he’s referring to the Torah. It is the law of God written down. It is a natural law of the universe that is found by man and written down. Something that is more eternal than creation. However, we want to rule ourselves. We want to create the law that fits us best. However, we cannot escape the sensation to want to find an order that is right outside of ourselves. As Leff puts it, each law that is written down ultimately someone may ask, “sez, who?” Who will enforce it? By what authority does it come?

We can think of many different setups of government. 1. A majority of the people decides what is law. 2. A committee of people decides the law. 3. A tyrant decides. If we talk about a democracy or majoritarianism, does the majority always choose what is right? Put another way; is the majority always in the right? In our country, blacks and women would have a very different position if the majority were right. If a minority had not pointed to a higher law, blacks and women would have much different standing.

If we speak of a committee ruling or communist party or socialist group or even a republic, or ultimately a small group of people, either chosen by the people or not, do they decide correctly what is right? Or perhaps a king, dictator, despot, or supreme leader, can they decide what is right?

Where do these people come up with the law? Is it in nature? Is it from God? Is it from inside themselves and how they feel? Eventually, we find that the speaker(s) of the law must have power. It is the ones with power ruling over the ones without. Even if those with the so-called “power” may be minority groups. The question of law comes down to, “sez who?” These are the legislators of the law.

The judges of the law are to determine what the law says. They are to judge whether any action is lawful or not. In the United States, we separated the powers of the legislators of the law and the evaluators of the law. My question is: how do we know that the law is right if God’s Word is not the foundation? How do we keep a legislator (or group) from deciding something “legal” but that does not agree with the natural law? How do we keep the judge honest? If they are not submitted to God, does not their power come from themselves? God is the only one who is the Ultimate Legislator and Ultimate Judge.

God’s speech is in the form of “performative utterances.” An example of a “performative utterance” is “I apologize” or “I promise.” The act of saying the speech is the action as well. God is the only one Who when He says, “Light be!” light instantly appears. He is the ultimate backer of His Word. He will judge those in eternity whether they have met the requirement of the law. Only in Him can we find true justice.   He determines and judges what is right.

The law of our world today is about power; not about justice. I would argue that everyone knows that “the taking of an innocent life is wrong.” What we have done today is to add-on qualifications for that understanding. We redefine what “innocent” is and what “life” is. “Life begins at 24 weeks…err…sometime around then…” “Having cystic fibrosis or Downs syndrome is not really a good life. It is a life of suffering.” Where do legislators and judges get their power to say when a life begins? Scientifically we know that an implanted fertilized egg has everything needed chromosomally and environmentally to grow into an adult person. How is removal from the uterus premature not unlike suffocating or starving an adult? Why is convenience (99% of the time), whether be it financial, emotional, or social convenience, a justifiable reason for ending this human’s life? To be an ethical abortionist, one would have to set out with the premise that “life is utterly absurd and meaningless.” It would not be hard then to ethically end any human life.

“But I don’t have the resources.” Or “this child will be suffering and deformed.” Is not all life about suffering? Does not suffering tell us that something is wrong? Where is the justification not to finish off any one who might break an arm or even stub a toe? Even the most deformed person can bring a joy to those around them.

Before 1973, every child born had the “right” to exist. After 1973, every child was “chosen” to exist. It was your “legal” right to end your pregnancy after 1973. It disagreed with the natural law that “all life is sacred.”

But what if I’ve fallen short of that natural law? What if I’ve had an abortion? Here’s the good news, the Ultimate Judge and Legislator is also the God of mercy. He is able to heal your wounds. We know that all have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) and the penalty (wages) for sin is death. (Rom 6:23) But God established His righteousness apart from the law in Christ. (Rom 3:21-22). He paid the penalty for our sin. He established your right to life by Christ’s faithfulness.

What is legal is not always right. The founders of this nation knew that we had the “right” to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All of the current Supreme Court justices claim to come from Judeo-Christian beliefs. The law of the court and the judge of the justices may not agree with the natural law. Some may not find justice in this world. It took over a hundred years for us to recognized that a black man/woman had the “right” to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We set out knowing that “all men are created equal.” We had to relearn what we already knew that a black man is a man. We have redefined what is “innocent” and what is “life” in order to justify our convenience. Where will it end if any “minor defect” will be criteria for ending a pregnancy? Between a Muhammad Ali or a Stephen Hawking in utero, who would we choose? Should we discard a man with Marfan’s-like characteristics with multiple endrocrine neoplasias; a man with a large jaw, drooping eyelids and “pseudo-depression”; a man that likely has MEN2B malformation? Would we be better off without that tall intermittently depressed Abraham Lincoln?

And what about liberty or freedom? “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) Christ set us free for freedom’s sake. He set us free so that we are not under the bondage of men. If the law is from God, we are FREE to serve Him. We are not free to do whatever we want. (Gal 5:13-14) True freedom is granted in serving Him. And for the Christian, happiness is tied up in trusting the Lord. “Taste and see that the Lord is good. How Blessed is the one who takes shelter in Him” (Psalm 34:8) How happy is the one who trusts in Him!

It may be legal but it isn’t always right. Nevertheless, “He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love.” (Eph 1:4) We were deformed and imperfect but He adopted us as His own through Christ. (Eph 1:5) What shall we do now then? “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

 

Arthur Leff’s “Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law”

The Lord Thy Surgeon

The Resurrection: A Concise Proof for an Unlikely Event

Christianity is about one thing: The Resurrection.  Dr. Gene Scott studied the resurrection in detail and preached frequently on the evidence of the resurrection.  “You don’t have to cut your head off to be a Christian,” he would say. His research parallels the book “Who Moved the Stone?” by Frank Morrison.  Having studied the evidence myself, I find it difficult to deny that something miraculous happened and Jesus rose from the dead.  Most people that argue against the resurrection, argue in a circle. They say, “A resurrection can’t occur.  Therefore it didn’t occur.  Anyone saying a resurrection did occur can’t be trusted because we know that a resurrection can’t occur.” And on and on, ad infinitum.  What is it that makes Christianity different than all religions? The Resurrection.

Founders of Religion

Many people lump Jesus into the same category as other founders of religion.  Jesus is a “good and wise” teacher, they say.  Many would say that Jesus is no different than a Muhammad, Confucius, or Buddha.  The problem with this is that Jesus did not give a lifestyle or a way to God.  He claimed to be God.  He didn’t claim a way of living; He claimed to be ‘the Way’.  He makes statements such as “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matthew 28:18).  And He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim a “path.”  He put Himself as the center.  Muhammad never claimed to be God.  To Islam, there is one God “Allah” and Muhammad is his prophet.  Buddha was a prince in India. He lived the life of excess and lived the life of poverty and determined “the middle way.”  He said, here is the eightfold path and in a trance-like state he achieved “Nirvana.” Essentially he said, ‘it worked for me, maybe it will work for you.’ He said that he wasn’t God. However, a small sect of buddhism claims that he wouldn’t have been able to do what he did had he not been God.  His followers grafted divinity onto him after the fact.  Jesus is the only one that comes out and claims divinity from the start.

4 things we must agree on before we can talk about whether the resurrection happened:

  1. Jesus was a real person.
  2. Jesus died by Roman Crucifixion.
  3. No one has survived a Roman Crucifixion.
  4. Jesus was buried in a known and accessible tomb.

These four facts are much easier to prove than the resurrection. Scholars agree that these things are true. So before we go any further, we need to understand that these things should be taken as the foundation for the proof of Jesus’ resurrection.

The Empty Tomb

Moving forward from these facts, we come to the empty tomb.  The empty tomb is the main focal point of the entire resurrection.  There have been multiple theories that have been propounded with regards to how the tomb became empty.  Ultimately, all of these theories boil down to two options: The disciples lied or told the truth about what they saw.  First, we will discuss each theory and then discuss whether the disciples lied or told the truth.

Theories for Empty Tomb:

  1. Disciples stole the body
  2. Jews stole the body
  3. Romans stole the body
  4. The women went to the wrong tomb
  5. Disciples were hallucinating
  6. Jesus didn’t actually die.
  7. The disciples made the whole story up.
  8. The disciples told the truth about what they observed.

Option 1:

The disciples stole the body.  If the disciples stole the body, then they lied about their story.  They made up all of the testimony.  

Option 2:

The Jewish leaders stole the body.  First of all, the Jewish leaders stealing the body makes no sense.  The disciples were going around making “ridiculous” claims that Jesus had raised from the dead.  All that it would have taken to silence them would be to present the body.  The Jewish leaders really had no reason to steal the body.  If the disciples continued to tell their story, then the disciples lied.

Option 3:

The Romans stole the body. This goes along the same lines as Jewish leaders stealing the body.  Here you have disciples telling a story that the Roman leaders would know to not be true.  All they would need to do is produce the body.  The Roman leaders would have not wanted any of the political uprising that a wrongful death would have produced and the stories of a leader that was still alive.  They would have produced the body to quash the stories and stop the testimony.  Again, if the disciples persisted in their story, they would be lying.

Option 4:

The women went to the wrong tomb.  If they went to the wrong tomb, then they could be pointed to the right tomb.  This was a known tomb.  This would not explain the testimony that Jesus was seen among the disciples in the flesh and that he also appeared to several hundred disciples after the resurrection.  Again, the body would be produced in the right tomb and the stories could be stopped. If the disciples persisted, they would be lying.  (An interesting side note is that “women” were the first to report the resurrection. Women at this time were not even considered a reliable witness.  This testimony from the disciples would have weakened their story.  Personally, I think this also shows God’s emphasis on women’s importance that they were the first to see the resurrected Christ and to testify of His throwing off of death.)

Option 5:

The disciples were hallucinating. This again leads us back to an incoherent story by the disciples.  Being a medical professional, I understand that typically when people are hallucinating they rarely go from disorganized to organized.  In this case, all the disciples were telling the exact story.  There is no evidence that any one of them reneged on their story or changed their story at the end.  If hallucinating, we would find vastly different stories or these stories could again be quashed by production of the body. One would go the tomb, show the disciples the dead body and this would be the end of the hallucinations.  Multiple disciples “hallucinating” the same story is highly unlikely.  If after their “hallucinations” ended, they would still be lying about the truth if they persisted and the body could be produced.

Option 6:

Jesus didn’t actually die. No one in the history of Roman crucifixion has ever survived.  This was one of the most tortuous deaths one could imagine. The Romans designed crucifixion to humiliate their victims.  Crucifixion guaranteed death.  There would be no “resuscitation” in the “coolness” of the tomb.  Crucifixion started with flogging.  Flesh was literally ripped from his back using a flail.  If you didn’t die from the flogging, they nailed you to a cross.  The victim of crucifixion would eventually suffocate from not being able to breathe. Inhalation requires expansion of the chest wall. With the arms over the head dangling, taking in a breath becomes very difficult if one is unable to push yourself up to help expand the chest. Most victims would get tired and suffocate from pushing themselves up by the legs each time to take a breath. In order to expedite crucifixion, Roman soldiers would break the legs of the victim rendering the victim unable to push themselves up to breathe.  If each of these still failed to bring about death quickly, a sword in the side would pierce the heart or cause a pneumothorax to bring about certain death.  Jesus not dying as the reason for the empty tomb (a.k.a. A crucifixion hoax.); essentially impossible.  If perhaps he had “resuscitated”, it would not explain the story the disciples told of a man in strong health walking around.  The disciples again would be lying.

Option 7:

The disciples made the whole story up.  “The disciples were scared after their leader died.  They spent 50 days in hiding to come up with a story and on Pentecost they put their story out to gain power.”  Again, this boils down to the disciples lying.  If the disciples were lying, it would be as easy as taking the lying disciples to the tomb to see the dead body.  There would be no social uprising. No pillar of Western Civilization that describes most of European, American, and World history for the last 2000 years.  The stories would stop and we wouldn’t be talking about Jesus raising from the dead.

Internal Evidence

It is psychologically impossible that the disciples lied.  The evidence points to them telling the truth.  The Bible has internal evidence for the veracity of scripture.  If the disciples made the story up, they would want their story to be perfect.  Mark is considered Peter’s gospel.  In Mark, we find Peter the most poorly represented of all the gospels.  Peter at one point says, “Far be it from you Lord to wash my feet.” Jesus replies, “If I don’t wash your feet, you can’t have any part with me.” Peter says, “Wash my entire body!” Peter is acting before he is thinking.  Peter doubts Jesus when walking on the water. Peter says that he’ll never deny his Lord and yet, Peter is the one who is denying him 3 times before dawn.  The disciples include evidence in the gospels even though it hurts their story. Peter looked like a fool so who would believe him after the resurrection. He’s all over the place mentally. He nearly cut a Roman soldier’s head off. This hurts the disciples story so why would they included it?

We then find Jesus asking Philip when they come to Bethsaida, where to buy bread. Why would he ask Philip specifically? You go to a different gospel and find that Philip was from Bethsaida.  The story is told from several different perspectives with emphasis on different portions. This is what we would expect rather than a story that was repeated verbatim from a script.

Evidence for Truth

The disciples after the resurrection stand as the greatest evidence for the truth of the resurrection.  Before the resurrection, we find an incoherent, scared, and inexperienced group of disciples. After the resurrection, we find all of them telling the same story and dying for telling it.  Now, the disciples lived in an age without cell phones, fax machines, cars, airplanes, Twitter and Facebook.  Perhaps they did come up with the story together and made the whole thing up.  Remember, every one of the disciples died horrible deaths in farflung corners of the known world.  They died as martyrs for their story.  Knowing the whole time that all they would have to do is say, “we made the whole thing up,” they could have saved face and gone about their way.  Now, I could believe that maybe if you kept them all together a small area and they were being persecuted together that none of them would want to break ranks and be the first to lie.  However, they didn’t die together. They would not be able to get in contact with each other. For all they knew, they had seen each other for the last time when they departed from Jerusalem.  Perhaps they did renege and met up though. (Andrew, “You keeping up the story Peter.” Peter: “Yep, strong as always. I’m telling it how we came up with it.”) But there is no source that says that they ever reneged.  However, we do find each of them dying telling the story to the death.  Thomas takes the gospel to India and is run through with a Brahman sword. Andrew is crucified on the cross that bears his name (St. Andrew’s cross).  Some were skinned alive.  Peter was crucified upside down.  All of disciples, except for John (who was exiled to Patmos), died horrible deaths alone.  All they had to do was change their story and say, “we made it all up.”  My challenge to you is to find any source that shows even one disciple changing their story.  They don’t exist.

Option 8:

The disciples told the truth about what they observed.  So what, if Jesus did resurrect from the dead? If He did, they were telling the truth.  They were telling about the Way, the Truth and the Life.  If the man claiming to be God really did come out of that tomb, He’s not just another founder of religion.  He’s not just a “good and wise teacher.”  He’s the Son of God.  If he did conquer death, perhaps it’s time to take another look at Him.

 

Grander RoundsThe Lord Thy Surgeon

Where has the doctor-patient relationship gone?

“We used to treat patients. Now, we treat computers.”  Such is some of the frustration facing the 21st century doctor today.  In 2014, implementation of Electronic Health Records was mandated across the board in healthcare facilities in the United States.  This was done with the goodwilled hope that quality and efficiency would improve. Legible and easily transferable records would ultimately help the patient and decrease costs. Unfortunately, these systems have increased costs everywhere. Doctors are now less efficient because of tedious interfaces and the necessity of documenting unnecessary information.

One thing that has improved: monitoring… Now CMS can monitor doctors’ performance, and on the basis of what they’re [not] doing or documenting [in]correctly, decide their compensation.  It takes coders on both sides to determine the right codes to describe what the doctor did in order to bill correctly.  Entire degrees have been created just to become a medical coder.  What happened to the good ol’ days of seeing your doctor and just paying him what you could afford for your visit? Perhaps you could have bartered a goat or a chicken with your doctor.  Honestly, I can’t even tell you exactly what it costs to come see the doctor.  At our hospital, we have a 24 hour nurse (probably more than one) that is there just to determine whether your admission is “observation” status or “full admission” status.  Their daily job is to review the status of a patient’s admission because the hospital may be partially paid or forfeit payment if it is listed incorrectly. Have we really come so far that our job as healthcare workers is to make sure that we collect enough costs and document thoroughly so that we can keep our jobs?  I’m not against collecting money for services but it seems like we’ve lost the heart of what medicine is: The doctor-patient relationship.

Obstacles, barriers, curtains, walls.  These are what we have set between our doctors and the patient.  We have so many middlemen in the temple of healing now.  What occurred to me this week is that men are great at setting up barriers.  Our new emergency department (about 5 years old now) went to completely private rooms. There are 2 doors to enter the ED waiting area, 1 door to get to the back area of the ED, 1 door to get into the patient room, 1 door to get into the inner core of the ED pod, and 1 door still that can separate the doctor “fishbowl” from the inner core.  6 doors separate the doctor from the patient outside the hospital.  The suffering patient can be physically separated from the healer.  It is easy to see how, to the doctor, the patient could become just a name on a list in the computer, sitting in a room down the hall.  Even while in the room, the computer’s information may dominate the words coming out of the patient’s mouth or sound of their lungs in the stethoscope.  Is not being a doctor more than processing the data in a computer?  Why are politicians, bureaucrats, administrators, coders, and everybody else telling the doctor and the patient what their relationship should be? Yes, clinical decision aids are helpful in computers. Yes, legible data that is easily transmittable is good.  But have we forgotten what was basic to the healer-healed relationship?

I think the same is true in our spiritual lives.  We have forgotten the Doctor-patient relationship.  We have set up barriers to our worship and praise.  We have set up barriers in our relationship with God.  We do not want to be naked before our Creator.  We put doors between God and our transgressions.  We put gowns over our iniquities.  We put traditions and religiousness in place of intimacy.  But isn’t orthodoxy a good thing? The priests, pastors and congregation can then monitor our holiness!?… Is this the kind of relationship our Creator wants?

At first, it was from a distance. It was for our own good. The temple of Israel had regulations. God’s holiness was separated from us because He could not identify with our sinfulness.  Sin was utterly sinful and God completely Holy. To approach Him, certain steps had to be taken.  The entire book of Leviticus is filled with the regulations for worship in the temple.  Wash here, purify there, separate here, slay there, pour blood here, sanctify there.  Most importantly, separate the holy from that which is stained.  Keep them apart! In fact, “holy” means “set apart” or “to be sanctified.” How could He Who was Holiness identify with a fallen creation?  How could He possibly have a relationship with us?…It is because HE TORE DOWN THE BARRIER!

In Christ, God tore the curtain between man and Himself! (Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45, Matthew 27:51) God came in the flesh and suffered with us! He had compassion on us. Compassion is made of two words. “com-” or “con-” or “co-” prefixes meaning “together/with” and “pathos” meaning suffering.  “Path-ology” is the department we send diseased tissue.  It is “the study of suffering.”  It is He Who identified with our suffering. He suffered WITH us. He knew what the pain felt like. He was tempted in the same ways.  As Hebrews states, “For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” (Heb 4:15-16) Jesus was offered as the perfect offering to God so that we could have relationship with Him!  (Heb 9:11-25) This is the meaning of the communion.  It is the Thanksgiving offering. It is the Passover.  It is togetherness with Him.

Why do we set up these barriers? Why do we make excuses? Why do we not just turn to Him in our time of need? Why do we make everything a complicated procedure? Faith and trust is what He is looking for.  As Habakkuk says, “My righteous one will live by faith.” (Hab 2:4) And to David He said, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:14) In Hebrews it says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 10:6) And to Micah He says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Mic 6:8) Should we not walk closer with Him?

John explains our relationship with Him well. “Now this is the gospel message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.” (1 John 1:5-2:2)

Why do we continually set up barriers between the doctor and the patient? Why do we set up barriers between the Lord thy Surgeon and ourselves? A doctor must take a history and do a physical examination.  It requires talking with and touching the patient.  As doctors, we use light to see where the problem is.  It is hard to see exactly what the disease is without being in the room.  I cannot tell you if you need stitches if you don’t show me your laceration. So why is it we do not want to come into His light to show Him where our problem is? Our sin is painful. We are ashamed of it. It is the part of us that is ugly and deformed.  But the Surgeon has the healing we need if this sin is exposed to Him. He provides the sin covering in the blood of Christ  He provides the healing in the body of Christ.

Computers and technology are not bad. Orthodoxy is not bad.  The temple was not bad.  The temple was complicated.  So, let us (as doctors) get back to listening to the patient and examining them and identifying the problem. Let us stop treating computers and and go back treating to the patient. As patients, let us seek a doctor that listens to our problem and examines our iniquities. As patients, let us seek the Surgeon in prayer and seek His Word.  Let us seek the intimacy that He wants.  Let us go by boldly to the throne of grace. (Heb 4:16) Let us restore the Doctor-patient relationship by communion with Him.  It was God Himself Who established Doctor-patient relationship when He tore the veil on Calvary. (Mat 27:51)  It is God who is our Healer. He is the Lord thy Surgeon.

 

The Lord Thy Surgeon

This sentence created itself.

“This sentence created itself.” Does that sentence have any meaning? Is it correct? It is grammatically correct English. It has a subject, a verb, and a direct object. However, the sentence is utter nonsense. It has no intrinsic meaning. It has as much meaning as “A potato unhinges exuberantly on lava tree paintings.” The second sentence is nonsense because the words don’t really make any sense together. The first sentence is nonsense because by experience we know that sentences do not create themselves.

If one were to stretch a strand of human DNA out, it would be approximately 2 meters long. It would be comprised of approximately 3 billion base pairs of adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. About 1.5% of that DNA would code for 20,000-25,000 proteins that allow for all of the functions of human life. The ENCODE project found that over 80% of the rest of the DNA has regulatory function and is transcribed but does not directly code into proteins that are used. The proteins are coded by 3 letter sequences in the DNA. 20 amino acids are coded to assemble the proteins. These proteins have primary, secondary, tertiary, and even quaternary structure. Meaning that these proteins are folded and combined at several different levels into their functional formations. The DNA is replicated with an error rate of 1 error in 10 billion base pair transcriptions. This is the equivalent of copying about 3,200 KJV bibles and only mistyping 1 letter. Did I mention that each of the 37.2 trillion cells in the body have this DNA folded up inside it and functioning properly? It is one of the most complex sentences that one could imagine. Did this sentence create itself?

It takes a lot of faith to believe that this magnificently well-orchestrated chorus created itself. Having just had our first child, it is nothing short of a miracle that we brought a new person into this world. Think of all the possibilities for malfunction of this biochemistry and physics. But my daughter is more than just biochemistry and physics; she’s a new person. Reproduction may be the godliest thing that we can do. But our creation is different from His creation. It doesn’t take a biochemistry or physics degree to create a baby. The machinery of life is already in place. We create from that which is already given. The substance that we live in is already present and available to create a new human being. The Bible says that God created from nothingness. He said, “Light BE.” And from nothing came everything. The Bible says, “For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” (Psalm 36:9) Isn’t life more than cells working together? Are we not more than just meat? (“They’re made out of meat” by Terry Bisson.) Isn’t the mind more than a brain? Where does the body end and the soul begin? I wish it were so simple.

Science must start with some basic faith statements. Yes, science starts with “faith.” Let us first define two terms: science and scientism. Science and Scientism are different. Science is the study of the natural world. Scientism is the “belief” that the natural world is all that there is. Scientism believes that nothing exists outside of the natural (i.e. the supernatural). Scientism starts with this faith statement. All science must function within faith. Faith and science are not enemies. To do science, we must believe that the universe is an ordered universe. For example, if we do an experiment and we know all of the variables, the substance of the universe will behave in an orderly way.   If we repeat the experiment, we will obtain the same results. We can deduce certain principles about the universe from these experiments. We also must have the faith premise that the universe is worth studying. We believe that there is some benefit to understanding the universe around us. If the universe were not orderly and worth studying, how could we possibly even start to do science? However, would not an orderly God make an orderly universe? And on what basis can Scientism tell us that the universe is all there is? At the bottom, science has Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. (In a nutshell, you can know the position of a particle or the speed of a particle but not both.) We don’t understand gravity. We haven’t found the “God Particle” or ultimate substance that makes up all the substance. We cannot know it completely because of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. (Side note: “Atom” means “indivisible. “ We are now “dividing the indivisible” and haven’t found the bottom yet…) At the bottom, we have scientists telling us about “invisible” particles because they have faith that the machines that they created are reporting correctly readings from their experiments. Nobody has ever actually seen a proton or an electron, not to speak about quarks or Higg’s bosons. We believe that these exist on faith. But there is obviously evidence for that faith.

At the top, we have only the known “visible” universe or the observable universe. What is beyond? We do not know. Science has told us many things. We have traveled the world on wings of great airships. We have harnessed electricity. We communicate instantaneously around the world. And yet as much as science has told us, it cannot tell us what is beyond what we can see with a telescope. Isn’t it true also that the things that are most important to you can’t be measured scientifically? Things like love, beauty, and goodness? Science can tell you what “is” but it cannot tell you what you should do or what is good. It cannot tell you what is beautiful. It cannot tell you what true love is, just as it cannot tell you what is beyond the edge of the 28.5 gigaparsec (or 93 billion light-year) wide universe.

And the atheist asks, “But how can you believe in God without evidence? I need evidence to believe. How can you be so unreasonable in your beliefs?” And now, they’re hooked… Is not reason the tender balance between believing everything and doubting everything? If one were to doubt everything, we would call them insane. You could not even leave your bed with so much doubt. You would doubt that gravity would work. You would doubt that your food wasn’t poisoned. You would doubt that you would float when jumping into a pool. You could not live with so much doubt. On the other side, if you believed everything, you would be paralyzed as well. You would believe that almost all food is bad for you. (Even water can be deadly in high quantities…) You would believe everything was a conspiracy. You would believe all sorts of other things that would keep you from being able to function. Reason is the stability found between doubt and belief. Reason expects some things and doubts others. Reason keeps our ship upright.

Is not “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” just as good of a starting point as “the natural is all there is?” (Perhaps when God said, “Light BE,” there was quite a BANG!) Science makes theories of what we think happened historically. However, science cannot rule out God. At the bottom and the top, science has no answers. Science cannot tell us what is good.   It takes a lot of faith to believe in the infinitesimally small possibility of life existing and continuing without God. A Christian’s faith is based in Christ faith.  It starts with Christ resurrecting from the dead based on the evidence. The historical accuracy of the Bible has been well studied. At the same time, the Bible is not a science book.   Based on the evidence, the Bible gives a better explanation of our experience than Scientism. Much of the science of today would not have been possible had men not believed that their Creator was orderly. It takes an orderly universe for a miracle to be possible. The resurrection defies what is natural. It is supernatural. But my belief in the resurrection is based on the evidence, not on blind belief. The evidence for the resurrection is enough for another post so I would recommend, “Who moved the stone?” by Frank Morrison for a good overview of that evidence.

Did this sentence create itself? What about the 3 billion base pair sentence of human DNA? The evidence stands high against life happening by “chance.” When I look at my daughter, it does not occur to me that she is only meat or only physics and biochemistry. She is a real person. At so many levels, the universe is amazingly complex and interesting. Is He not the God of wonders? If you want to feel tiny and insignificant, then listen to science tell you how vast the universe is and how cold and dark it will become. But you’re not insignificant. God created you and knew you before you even were. God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. (Eph 1:4) The miracle of life is no accident. God created us in His image. (Gen 1:27) This sentence did NOT create itself.

Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:1-16