Friday, July 27, 2012

Is There a Real Doctor In the House?

Rewind to April 2009. My parents were living in a little town called Wentzville, MO.

Yep, the 'show me' state. The only thing I 'showed' them during my brief visits was what a thick southern-accent sounded like.

A few years ago my grandfather had become very ill. Around Christmas of 2008, he began having a pain in his leg. My grandmother kept ice on it and ensured he was getting plenty of rest, but the pain just wouldn't go away. That's when the doctor came back with the chilling news. Cancer. It began to spread and left him bound to a hospital bed in the months to follow.

My grandfather had been a Baptist preacher since I was born and I admired him. I looked to him on many occasions for advice; not only in everyday life, but in my spiritual life. He had studied the bible for so many years, preached in the pulpit and baptized people of all ages in muddy creeks. If I was going to ask anyone about God, it was going to be him. I can remember asking him questions like, "how will I know when I'm saved?"...or "how do you think God feels about 'X'". From someone that had preached  & pastored churches most all of his life, one would expect an in depth, complex, theological answer, but more often than not, he would reply that I would just "feel it"...that I would "just know in my heart". Those were powerful statements, but I didn't realize it at the time. You see, God speaks to our hearts; not our minds. Sometimes, His voice rings out as loud as a church bell; but often times, it's nothing more than a whisper and we have to listen very closely to hear it.

The doctors that had been caring for my grandfather told some of the family that his time was limited. My grandmother began making phone calls to family telling them that they needed to come see him. There wouldn't be many days left. I can remember the last few days of his life. I took my son to see his great-grandfather, but as I approached the hospital bed, I quickly made my son go back outside of the room. I didn't want him to see his great-grandfather in this condition. I didn't want that to be his last memory of him.

My parents had thrown some things into a suitcase and were rushing to get to Atlanta. It was an eight hour drive. They were driving down the interstate, when my dad was briefly distracted. He was traveling between 70-80 MPH. Seconds later, he was startled by my mom's screams. As he looked up, there was a car. At a dead stop. You can guess what happened next. They crashed. Shrieking brakes, shattered glass and screams that turned to dead silence. My parents were transported to the local hospital for their injuries. Luckily, there were no fatalities.

My dad never got to see his father. My mom never got to see her father-in-law. My grandfather passed away before they were able to get to Atlanta. Maybe God didn't want my dad to see his dad in that condition. I'm not sure exactly what God's reasons were. Perhaps, we'll know one day.

 In those final moments, it didn't matter how many doctors or nurses were in the room. It didn't matter how much morphine was being pumped into his veins. It didn't matter how many family members were standing by the bedside. It didn't matter how many machines were attached. What matters is what he preached about his whole life - God. He was the one in the room. He was the one standing by his bedside. He was the one feeding the real medicine into his blood. He was the real doctor.

This past Wednesday I received a text from my mom stating that my dad was in an ambulance on his way to the emergency room. I was at my office and had no idea what had happened. I didn't know if this was a life or death situation. I panicked. I jumped in my car and was speeding down the interstate. I recalled what had happened to my parents in 2009. I hit my brakes and slowed down. "God's got this", I told myself. What was I going to do when I got there anyway? I'm not the doctor and I certainly wouldn't be able to 'fix' anything. So, I finally made it to the hospital. It wasn't life-threatening, thank goodness. I spent about 4 hours Wednesday night in the E.R. I was surrounded by people with all types of ailments; some life-threatening. Some of those same people I saw may have taken their final breath that night or the next morning. There were people from all walks of life. There were people from different countries, different races, and different backgrounds. I heard doctors and nurses consoling people and their families. I watched as they hooked up I.V.'s, monitored each person's vital signs and provided medicines. One of the nurses even told my dad that he could press the "little red button" if he needed someone and they would be there.

In all of these situations, God has been there. He was there when all of these emergencies occurred. He was there in the E.R. He was there beside each hospital bed. No matter the race or the creed, he knew everyone. He knew every name. He knew every face. Though not all knew Him. Some may have met him for the first time in the E.R. and in their hospital bed. Some, undoubtedly, sought him with their last breath. Some didn't hear him because they didn't listen to what their heart had been telling them throughout their lives. Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Him. But, He was there.

 If you've read this far, you're obviously still on your journey (well, unless I've bored you to death). But, someday your journey will end. It won't matter how many doctors and nurses are by your bedside. It won't matter how many family members are standing beside you. It won't matter how much morphine they pump into your veins. It won't matter how many times you frantically press that "little red button". There will only be one person that can help you.

My grandfather spent his whole life begging people to be ready to meet Him. I'm glad that I listened to his advice and "followed my heart" 18 years ago when I was saved.  No matter how many times I screw up in this life, I won't have to worry in that final moment. Whether I leave here at 33 or 83, it won't matter.
What you see around you is only temporary. This isn't our home.

Seek Him now while He may be found. Then, in your final moment, you can rest assured that the real doctor is in the house.


Isaiah 55:6 - "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Second Chances

Have you ever felt like you needed a second chance at something?

There have been times that I've just wanted a do-over.

Times when I just wanted to go back a few months and start all over again. Times when I wanted to start my month, my week or my day over. There are even some people out there that wish they could start their life over. But, we can't.

The good news is that no matter who you are, what you've done, what kind of messes you've made...God allows second chances.

There are no do-overs. But, there ARE start-overs.

Sometimes when we are down to nothing, God is up to something. When we are tired...heartbroken...helpless...that's when He shows up...right in the center of it. It's in these times where we find ourselves finally throwing our hands up and giving it to God. Sometimes He meets us in the darkest places and the scariest alleys.

In many cases, what we want and what we need are two different things. It can be a painful transition between the two as he detours us to where we need to be. But, where He's taking us is *so* much better than where we originally planned.

And that, my friends, is what we call God's Will.


If you've never heard the testimony of Jim Monroe, I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to the video below from

And, check out this unbelievable video of Carlos Whittaker's song, "God of Second Chances". During the filming, a homeless man ventures up and joins him. Check it out here:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Do You Mind If I Place You On Hold?

Customer service sucks these days. I hate the automated phone systems. I genuinely dislike calling large companies when I have an issue. Specifically, for these reasons:

1. You can’t understand me because English is your 3rd language, your name is not really Andy and you don’t live in Tampa, FL. I’ve learned that speaking louder into the phone does not resolve any of the aforementioned issues.

2. Why did I press 15 buttons, verify my address, and punch in my account number, only to get an automated system telling me my bill is $237.55? I know what my bill is and it’s wrong. That’s why I’m calling you.

3. Why did I go through 7 departments to figure out that the 2nd department is the one I should be speaking to about my issue? Dude, they just transferred me to YOU.

4. Some of these companies are getting smarter. Pressing zero does NOT take you to a live person anymore. It tells me that I have ‘pressed an incorrect key’. Thanks, Comcast. Let me hang up and start all over again.

5. I love when the automated system tells me that they are experiencing “high call volumes” and I should consider calling back later. I’ve been on the phone for 20 minutes pressing buttons and verifying my information. Yes, I think I’ll continue holding. Thanks.

6. I finally get a real person on the phone and I’m ‘accidentally’ disconnected. Epic fail.

7. That awkward moment when you’re driving to the business that you are on ‘hold’ with. You get there, walk inside (still on phone)…and the person who put you on hold walks up and says, “Can I help you?” Sure. Would you like to finish your phone call first?

8. I like when I’m placed on hold for 10 minutes and they come back and ask me what my name is again. What were you doing while I was on hold, anyway?

9. I’ve been on hold for 30 minutes, but heaven forbid I need to make you wait just a second so I can grab the invoice to give you the little three digit code you need so you can look up my account information. Sometimes I like to say, “Can you hold, please?”, just to see what their reaction is.

10. Sometimes when I’m feeling dumb, I like to talk to some of these customer service representatives. I hang up feeling like a freaking genius.

Before the customer service representatives get all upset, let me just say that I’ve been one before. I got yelled at for 8 hours a day, 5 days per week about a cell phone bill and they know for a fact that little Johnny did NOT call his grandmother…who lives in Pennsylvania…on July 10, 2012…at 2:15pm..and talk for 30 minutes. So, I feel ya.

Have you ever thought about the fact that God is always on the other line, waiting for our call? He never disconnects us; even on ‘accident’. Whenever we have an issue, He’s always ‘live’ and we never have to settle with a recording. No matter how high the call volume is, He doesn’t put us on hold or tell us to call back later. He doesn’t answer our call in the ‘order it was received’. He doesn’t transfer us somewhere else. We can be assured that no matter how many requests He has had today, He answers our individual call with love and not irritability. He also speaks all languages. We don’t have to tell Him our name, where we live, or verify our identity. And, even more importantly, he already knows why we’re calling.

Usually when we’re calling customer service it’s because we need something. Have you ever thought about calling just to say “thank you”? Thanks for everything you’ve given me…everything you’ve done for me?

Sometimes He just wants us to pick up the phone and call Him. I promise you won’t get a busy signal.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Peace, Love and....Kids

It was the 80's.

Cyndi Lauper was dominating the air waves.

I was in the backseat of the Cutlass Ciera, with my sister, rocking the tube socks.

Not just any tube socks -- the ones with the two stripes at the top. Colored stripes.

We were going over the bridge. Windows down. Breathing in the ocean's saltwater which was lingering in the air. It rushed through my body like the heavy dose of benadryl my mom used to give me to stop my crying. Ok, that last sentence was a joke, but you get where I'm coming from.

We were on the strip in PCB (that's Panama City Beach for all you non-southerners). I remember that night vividly. At every red light, my parents would lean into each other and sneak a kiss. At one particular red light, I remember the kiss lasting through the green, yellow AND red light. "Go!" I yelled as the light turned green (the second time). How disgusting it was as a kid to see my parents making out three feet from my face.

Fast forward twenty-something years. I now realize what it taught me. One word. Love.

You've probably heard the old adage that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. Guys...write that down. It may sound cliche', but it's a true story. For all my divorced peeps (this one includes me), we have the same responsibility. I'm not saying that we should be snuggling up to an ex. I'm just saying that we are charged with being a good steward and teaching our children love through how we interact with those around us.

Will children always be exposed to the good and never the bad? Realistically, the answer is probably not. There are studies that suggest that some healthy conflict might actually be beneficial. IF, the disagreement is resolved the right way. In my personal opinion, I think that children can sometimes learn from our disagreements and use them as stepping stones to resolve conflicts in their own lives. This doesn't mean that mom & dad are screaming at each other and then hug and make up after they calm down.

Alas, I regress.

The moral of the story is this -- what are we showing our children? Are we loving each other the way God instructs us to? What actions are our children seeing? Are we showing love to our spouse, significant other, neighbor, random strangers, etc. in front of them? It's not always easy and it's not always natural for us to show constant love, especially if it isn't being shown to us. But, it's a goal we should always be striving towards.

After all, they are our future.

John 13:34-35 - “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Keep Climbing...

It was 104° F. Sweltering heat. I took a day away from the office to clear my head, but I decided that I would at least make my time somewhat productive.


That's what I'll do.

Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time. Of course, I hydrated myself with Starbucks beforehand. A Caffe' Americano. That's Italian for "don't drink before climbing a mountain". So, off I went on my little adventure, just me and my thoughts. Dangerous...I know.

As I started up the mountain, I thought it might be a good idea to jog it. After about a hundred feet of running uphill, I decided I better slow my roll and try a brisk walk instead.

As I continued on, I grew weary. I was tired. Exhausted. The heat seemed to overwhelm me. I had been hiking for a while and knew I couldn’t be far from this beautiful view that I had heard so much about. I forced myself to continue on. But, I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t want to continue. However, I pushed through the pain and continued forward with the understanding that something amazing was at the end of this journey.

As I rounded the last corner...there it was; a gorgeous view! I immediately forgot all about the effort it took to get there. I forgot all about the pain, the heat, the exhaustion. I was focused solely on what was at the end of the journey and it was simply beautiful. It made it all worthwhile.

One Sunday afternoon, I decided to take my son hiking on this same trail. At 12 years old, I figured he would enjoy the challenge and he is certainly more fit than I am. So, we loaded up our backpack with all the know...chips, candy, beef jerky...and oh yeah, I think we had some water somewhere too.  About half way through, my son was growing weary. He was tired. Exhausted. I knew the heat that day was working against us, but I also knew what was at the end of the journey. I wanted him to see what I had saw. Although the trail twisted and turned, became narrow at times, and seemed to get steeper the further we climbed, I knew what was at the top. I urged him to continue on and told him that it would all be worth it. He didn't feel like it. He didn't want to continue. But, we just pushed through the pain. 

During the journey, I started talking to him about God. As we talked, he said, "But Dad, I don't ever feel God. I said, "Son, sure you do. We feel Him all the time. Sometimes you just have to be still and know He is there." Then, I reminded him that we feel the wind, but we can't see it. I continued..."You know...we can't necessarily see the wind, but we know it's there...don't we?" He quickly agreed. I left the conversation at that. My hope is that one day, when he's being 'still', that the wind will blow and he will be reminded of those simple words I told him that day.

In life, we ALL have mountains and valleys to travel. Sometimes it's hot. Sometimes it becomes exhausting. Sometimes we have rocks in our shoes and it hurts to continue on. Sometimes the climb seems so steep that we would rather turn around and go back. Sometimes we just don't feel like it.

What mountain are you climbing right now? Are you going through a divorce? A troubled relationship? Are you battling an addiction? Facing fears that seem immeasurable? 

Keep climbing. 

Push through the pain. 

Even when the climb seems too steep, keep going.  

When you finally make it through you will come out on top of the mountain. 

And the view is out of this world.

Romans 8:18 - "Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later."

James 1:12 - "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."

God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son (see Romans 8:28-29).  ~ Jerry Bridges