Posts filed under ‘Testimony’

Driven to perform….

Most of my Christian life can be summed up with one word: PERFORM. You need to pray more, read the word more, be at church more, give more to the church, witness more, more obedience, more, more, more. The Christian life became all about ME, ME, ME. This (certain thing) happened to ME because I had failed God here, here, and here. This (certain thing) didn’t happen to ME because I hadn’t kept up my end of the bargain. And so, back to the endless cycle of trying to please a God who demands nothing short of total perfection.

It came to our attention a few years ago, that we (my wife and I) had fallen into a trap. We were trying to earn our way with God. It’s a subtle thing. After all, your heart really wants to do the right thing, and your flesh is oh so willing to take you another direction. So there’s this constant struggle. As much as we all may be able to identify with all of that, the trap is this: My right standing with God has nothing to do with how well I’m doing as a Christian, how well I’m doing morally, how well I’m doing spiritually, or how well I’m doing at anything. If my righteousness is based on my performance – then I have fallen into this trap. When my right standing with God is based on what I do – when I’m good – I’m looking down my nose at others who have not quite attainted to where I am. When I’m not so good – I’m a rich young ruler who hasn’t quite got what it takes to follow Him, so I go away totally crushed. I have to admit that I’ve spent more time in my life discouraged than I have spent with the elite. But I also have to tell you, being among the elite is something I no longer value, but in fact disdain.

My right standing with God is based on one thing and one thing only: Jesus Christ is my righteousness – not what I do.

There are things that I call life lessons. These are situations that you’ve been in that are extremely difficult. I’d have to say a congenital heart defect that wasn’t diagnosed until I was almost 50 is one of those life lessons. You see, I was born with this heart problem, and there wasn’t anything I could do to change it. That’s what I call the human dilemma – a messed up heart that is not fixable. As much as I would like to be something or someone else, it’s not going to happen because of my own effort. It’s not like I can start eating granola and this thing is going to get better. Peter came to the same conclusion at Cornelius’ house when God poured out His Spirit on a bunch of lawless Gentiles:

“God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?” (Ac 15:8-10 NIV)

The issue is this: Are we going to trust in our own efforts on reaching God or are we coming to God exclusively by faith – based TOTALLY on the finished work of Jesus Christ? That Great Surgeon who performed an operation on Adam and extracted Eve from his opened side is the only one that has the ability to take a heart like mine – and turn it into something better. Won’t you turn from your ME centered gospel – and turn to the real gospel that is centered entirely and totally on JESUS CHRIST?

February 6, 2010 at 8:23 am 1 comment

Your Wound is Incurable

“There’s nothing I can do, no drug I can give you, no exercise that will help you, nothing about diet that will make any difference. There is no clinical solution for your problem”.

These are the words spoken to me by the Cardiologist on call (Dr. Polly) in the hospital on Sept 24, 2009, the day after I went into the ER with some intense chest pains and shortness of breath. I had just finished an extensive cardiology workout where Dr. Polly (Saint Polly I affectionately call her) had ordered test after test to determine why I was in so much pain, and why (after an echocardiogram) the right side of my heart was so enlarged. Their conclusion?

Partial Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (PAPVR) – or Scimitar Syndrome with Atrial Septal Defect (hole between left and right sides) was the diagnosis. This is a rare (1-3 in 100,000) congenital defect where one of the veins from the lungs is (incorrectly) attached to the right side of the heart – thus feeding the NON-oxygenated side of the heart with a fresh supply of oxygenated blood – and the loop goes on.

I have always considered the following passage of scripture to be my “life scripture”. I received it sometime in 1982 or 1983 – not quite sure when – but the Lord was so all over me at the time that I cried for 4 or 5 hours. I had been reading Jeremiah – and I came across this:

Jeremiah 30:12-19.

“For thus says the LORD, ‘Your wound is incurable And your injury is serious. ‘There is no one to plead your cause; No healing for your sore, No recovery for you. ‘All your lovers have forgotten you, They do not seek you; For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy, With the punishment of a cruel one, Because your iniquity is great And your sins are numerous. ‘Why do you cry out over your injury? Your pain is incurable. Because your iniquity is great And your sins are numerous, I have done these things to you. ‘Therefore all who devour you will be devoured; And all your adversaries, every one of them, will go into captivity; And those who plunder you will be for plunder, And all who prey upon you I will give for prey. ‘For I will restore you to health And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘Because they have called you an outcast, saying: “It is Zion; no one cares for her.”

 “Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob And have compassion on his dwelling places; And the city will be rebuilt on its ruin, And the palace will stand on its rightful place. ‘From them will proceed thanksgiving And the voice of those who celebrate; And I will multiply them and they will not be diminished; I will also honor them and they will not be insignificant.
 

When Dr Polly said what she said to me, I have to admit, it blew me away. Since I was in my 20’s – I had had people pray for me over and over and over – I had been to doctor after doctor in that last 20 years – and I had given up completely on the medical community (which was my employer more often than not in the last 20 years) – and no one could find anything wrong with me. My wife thought I was a hypochondriac – always thinking something was wrong when nothing was wrong. I think most people thought that about me. I would literally beat my chest and fall down on my knees begging the Lord to help me. (And you know what – He did – time and time again). I went to the Elders, I went to my friends, I went to some of the most anointed men and women in the Charismatic circle of believers – some of their names are well known. When they asked me what was wrong – I couldn’t tell them. They would pray for me, sometimes I even fell down under the power (of the Holy Spirit), but would get up the same old person. And do you know what – there was no healing, no recovery – just like the verse (and Dr. Polly) said. Now, I was approaching my 50th birthday. I had so spiritualized this verse – but now I was facing the reality that the Lord wasn’t just speaking to me spiritually, He was speaking to me in the natural. Wow – He had told me 25 years ago and I had just not gone deep enough with it to really get it. When the Lord says something to you – He so means it – He’s not flippant or careless with words !!!!!

THE FIX: Open heart surgery, reroute (actually extend) the errant vein into the left side of the heart and seal the hole between the two sides. This was accomplished on Dec 3, 2009 in Cincinnati using the daVinci robot as so capably operated by surgeon Dr. J. Michael – yes, also a saint, and also a worker of miracles (and that without a daily TV show).

I have to say my brief stays at St Francis Hospital in Indianapolis and Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati was like being in the arms of Jesus. I dearly loved both nursing staffs (and all of the diagnostic people at St Francis). They took very good care of me.

11 days later – after open heart surgery – I went back to work and worked a 10 hour day. (which was a big mistake). Right now – I’m taking it a bit easier and going a day at a time. I have to admit, as I’m sitting there in the morning at my desk – I’ll lean back a little and take a deep breath and be amazed at what I’ve been missing for so long – maybe always in my life. In fact, there have been some moments in the last week or so that I can say, “I really feel GOOD”. I can’t remember feeling really GOOD in my whole life.

 

This is the start, this is your heart, this is the day you were born.

This is the sun, these are your lungs, this is the day you were born.

And I am always, always, always yours.

 

These are your scars, deep in your heart, this is the place you were born.

And this is the hole where most of your soul comes ripping out

From the places you’ve been torn

 

Hallelujah, I’m caving in. Hallelujah, I’m in love again.

Hallelujah, I’m a wretched man. Hallelujah, every breath is a second chance.

 

(Always – Switchfoot – Release date 11/10/2009 –

I heard this the first time two days after I got home from surgery)

 

In the next few posts, I’d like to share out of all of this some of the revelations that have come to me. I have to say that the Lord has been with me in a way that I can even feel His presence, and at times I’ve even been able to hear Him speak quite clearly.

 

 

 


January 5, 2010 at 6:10 am Leave a comment


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