Five Life-Changing Lessons from Major Surgery

My docs teased me last night with the possibility of discharging me today. No such luck. Just as well. I don’t want out of Camp Jackson South until we can stay on top of pain at home. So, another day in the hospital. And, as promised, part two of yesterday’s post.

vastly improvedThe Lord has graciously given me five lessons so far from “Operation Robojaw.”  With them come wisdom responses so as to make the most of the opportunity and not waste the sorrow. Two down; three to go.

Lesson Three: How Proud & Self-Reliant I Still Am

Hospitals humble a person. Big time. You have so little control. And you can need so much help. You lose all dignity–though I’ve fought hard to minimize my number of “Dancing Henrys.” Think Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give.

But some personal matters just go flat-out public in ICU. Thank God my nurse was male! More than that, I rediscovered once again my self-reliance idol. Pure pride drives me to think I can do whatever all by my lonesome. Trauma surgeries get you in touch with that arrogance fast.

Response? Remember the example of the Lord Jesus. Facing His darkest trauma outside Gethsemane He took three of His band of brothers to watch and pray with Him (Matt. 26:36-46). He needed their community in the furnace of the cup.

I know only one way to escape the gravitational pull of pride or any other sin issue. I must drench myself continually in the gospel river of the One who humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8).

Lesson Four: How Meaningful & Refreshing a Visit Can Be

Please understand. I’m in Miami–Kendall–to be exact. I can see Cuba from here. That’s over 250 miles from my home in Orlando. And yet every day but one on this delightful little healing assignment visitors from my church have fought the traffic and spent precious time, not to say gas money, to come see me–even in ICU where I could barely talk.

Just today two other brothers camped out for a few hours–even did my laps with me around the floor. I get what Paul felt when he wrote: But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus (2 Cor. 7:6).

Never underestimate the significance of hanging out with someone in distress. You too can be an Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 1:16).


Lesson Five: How Powerful & Necessary the Prayers of Others Are

Now I know that. Pastors preach that. But this week again I came to treasure it all over again. Paul boasted this confidence from prison in Phil. 1:19–for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.

Not for a moment would I try to minimize the degree of difficulty associated with this week. But the prayers of God’s people from all over the country and even other nations–thank you Hungary!–have played a huge role in my light speed recovery.

Response? Build a community of relationships, especially in your church. Pray for one another, particularly in trauma. God hears and answers. To Him be all the glory.

Question: What help has served you well in surviving some trauma. You can leave your comment here.

Nearest When Most Needed


Yesterday some of us from Orlando Grace stood watch at the hospital. One of our own waited in suspense while her husband, a much treasured servant in our church, underwent a heart catheterization procedure. She got “bad” news. Even as I write this, her man faces bypass surgery in a matter of minutes.

After the shock subsided some, we prayed together. We thanked God for watching over our brother, who does strenuous work as part of his job, that his condition came to light before the worst may have happened. We asked God for His mercy in the procedure to circumvent the triple blockage. Finally we believed God together that our sister and her family would experience the all-sufficient grace of God as never before. He has pledged to be our helper.

So says Psalm 46:1. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (emphasis added).” Charles Spurgeon commented about this massive promise in God’s word:

All creatures have their places of refuge. “ As for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high hills are a refuge for the Spurgeonwild goats; and the rocks for the conies.” All men also have their places of refuge, though some are “refuges of lies.” But God is our refuge and strength,” the omnipotence of Jehovah is pledged for the defense and support of his people. “A very present help in trouble,”- one who is near at hand; always near, but nearest when he is most needed. Not much entreaty is required to bring him to the aid of his people, for he is close at hand and close at heart, “a very present help in trouble.”

What need, extreme or otherwise, prompts you to say “Help!” Make God your refuge in it. Always near, but nearest when most needed.

You Alone Can Help Us

Concert of Prayer

In thinking about this month’s Concert of Prayer on Sunday night at 6:00 PM, I got quasi-inspired and wrote the following:

You Alone Can Help Us

To the tune of “You Alone Can Rescue”

Who, O Lord, will pray with me
Storm the throne of grace
Bring to You our many needs
In simple hope and faith

Who, O Lord, will heed the call
To ask and seek and knock
Who, O Lord, will join the cause
To plead for your dear flock

You alone can help us
You alone can save
You alone can loose our binding chains
If we do not ask You, we will not have from You
Free us from our self-reliant ways

Who, O Lord, will pray with me
Come in Jesus’ name
Who, O Lord, will use this means
Promote the Savior’s fame

Who, O Lord, will feel the need
Souls lost near and far
Who, O Lord, will make the plea
Melt the scarred and hardened heart

You alone can help us
You alone can save
You alone can free the captive slaves
When you answer for us, we will bless and thank You
We’ll glory in your kind and giving ways
We’ll glory in your kind and giving ways


We call on Your name
We call on Your name
You’re the Giver of gifts
We call on Your name
We call on Your name
You’re the Giver of gifts

Hoping for a number of intercessors to do all of the above each and every time we call a time of corporate prayer.

Good Counsel for Helping the Bereaved

Today I learned of another couple in a different state who lost their nine month old son about three years ago.

They offered this testimony of what help brought comfort in their time of need:

For us, meals was essential as I had no appetite to cook, grocery shop or even eat unless someone told me to eat and placed food in front of me. We had meals delivered to our house, in a cooler outside so I didn’t have to answer the door and talk. We had meals for months, which was such an answer to prayer. Maybe going to the grocery store weekly or just bringing over essentials like paper products, milk, eggs, etc would also be so helpful. I know for me it was the cards, the emails and the love that people demonstrated to us that really meant so much. reminding the parents monthly weekly or daily that you have not forgotten and that you are praying is so encouraging. Knowing that people were praying was essential. The other thing is to talk about the child and not try to ignore it or not bring her up. It is so painful when people try to avoid talking about our son like he never exisited. I tell people all the time that it is not helpful when they avoid the subject or exclude him from our life. Of course it is painful to live without him but keeping his memory alive is what I need. People do not cause us more pain when they bring up our child as it is on our mind constantly. I think just embracing their pain and being willing to grieve along with them is what means the most.

May the Lord give us grace to love the Waltons at least as equally well.

Nothing for Which Jesus Cares So Much (Part 5)

Today’s message from John 14:15-24 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

I summarized the flow of the argument this way:

We could spend multiple messages unpacking the doctrine of the Spirit, but I will resist that temptation for we will encounter His ministry nuymerous times to come in this discourse. But before we move on next time to the role of the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead, I do want you to see in verses 16-18, in addition to the identity of the Spirit as Helper, four other particulars that Jesus identifies about Him – His perpetuity, His priority, His exclusivity, and His intimacy. All of these contribute to the force of the advantage that comes to Jesus’ followers upon the loss of His presence in so short a time (John 16:7).

Praise God for the extraordinary help of the Holy Spirit in whom we find rest, are filled, and enjoy intimate relationship!

Nothing for Which Jesus Cares So Much (Part 4)

Today’s message from John 14:15-24 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

Here’s how I attempted to capture the gist of the section:

Now in campaigning for their correct understanding of saving faith as issuing in devoted obedience and no easy-believism, I mentioned in part three that Jesus further shows His care by outlining for the disciples the stunning provision made for them/us to enable that obedience. Indeed I called it a Trinitarian provision for Jesus goes on here to describe how all three members of the Godhead come into play in what we might call operation saving faith resulting in treasuring obedience. They are the giving of the Spirit (15-17), the coming of the Son (18-21), and the abiding of the Father (22-24).

Praise God that the Helper, Jesus, remains our advocate before the Father’s throne in heaven ANd another Helper, the Spirit, perpetually adds His aid as our advocate, friend, counselor, and comforter as well.

My thanks to Greg Willson for his poignant testimony about advocacy from his recent experience in federal court!