The Greatest Tool I learned From Medical School

I have been tutoring student recently in a variety of math and science. Therefore I find myself doing a bit of studying. It has made me reflect on a large majority of my life. Life as a student. Given I worked through both a doctorate and masters degree, I have spent more of my life as a student then not. So what is the greatest lesson I learned through those years, particularly the later years as a medical student?

I learn a great deal about the science, the human body and medicine. But the greatest tool I learned is how stay in relationship with Jesus in the midst of all the studying.

When I was in undergrad I often struggled to feel connected with God. I often felt like he had forgotten me, left me or I did not feel his presence. Of course God never left me. It was my perception. I eventually learned ways to help live each day more aware of God. There were periods of time I succeeded and other times not so much. I would describe it like this. If you have someone sitting right next to you, they are there but you never acknowledge them, talk with them, spend time with them, rather are always looking off in the opposite direction giving them the cold shoulder then how connected would you feel to this person? They are present, they are there, they have never left but you do not feel near to them. In my undergrad there were times I did this with God. There were other times I turned around and such. My ignoring God did not come out of a lack of desire for God or a lack of love. It came from the fact that my nose was stuck in a textbook trying to prepare for exams and such. My lack of acknowledgment of God came from my trying to be a good friend to others and succeed in gymnastics. So rather than starting with God then moving to the tasks I had as a student, I was bypassing God. The result was I lost touch. I felt distant from God. Disconnected. I basically was sitting next to God, giving him the cold shoulder and saying God where are you?

As I matured through my undergrad then went into medical school the Lord worked in me and developed a healthier style. I learned how to be a student with my nose stuck in a book but also turned so I was facing God, aware of him and his presence. This brought much peace, fulfillment and joy despite the challenges as a student. So how did I learn to be “mindful” of God while studying all the time?

-Starting each day spending some time in prayer and reading either a devotional or the Bible. I can have problems falling asleep, having poor concentration, etc. I found that writing helped me be more alert. Writing scripture and then writing thoughts on the scripture was my most common way of helping me focus. The Bible was the textbook and my journal was my note taking. Plus I could let out all my thoughts, desires, wishes, struggles, etc. I often needed this from my emotional well-being. God did not mind hearing about it all. Jesus is my healer.

⁃ I learned to take pauses from studying. No one can study for hours on end. We pause to go the bathroom, eat, etc. Well we also need to pause to talk to God. So I took several 5-15 min breaks every so often to talk with God and maybe meditate on scripture. Maybe the scripture you read that morning. Nothing wrong with repetition.

⁃ Even though I was a student I needed some hobbies, I needed exercise. I was a runner. I used my time running to listen to sermons, pray or listen to worship music. I could have used that time to listen to lectures. But I needed that time away from all the school stuff. Running was devoted to God. I also painted. Painting was relaxing and gave me a break from studying. It was a way to be still and know that God is God.

⁃ Watch who you are spending time with. It does not matter who you are. The strongest person or the weakest person. The people you spend the most time with will rub off on you. So make sure the people you are spending the most time with are encouraging you in your walk with the Lord. Make sure they are loving, supportive people. Ask in prayer for the right community for you and always remember the Lord wishes for you to be in a community that is supporting you and loving you so you can grow into the person God created you to be.

⁃ Do not be afraid to say no to things that are not life giving. Not every invitation you receive is from the Lord. I found that when I was more in touch with God and asking him his opinion I was better able to tell the difference between a not so good invitation and a life giving invitation.

⁃ Life as a student is stressful and in some ways it is easy to become consumed with yourself and lose touch with the needs of others. Ask the Lord to show you a way to serve in some form. Even if it is only once a month. It is good to be reminded that your studies although important are not everything. Serve others and it will be life giving and refreshing to you.

These were the main lessons I learned as a student. It does not just apply to student either. It really is settling you up for a healthy foundation in Christ no matter where he leads you. I went to medical school and never dreamed the Lord would lead me down the path I have taken. This path was not in my minds eye. But Gods perfect will is much better than our own. To know Gods will we have to following Christ. How do you follow Christ when you are giving him the cold shoulder?

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Don’t Judge, Walk the Walk

A couple of weeks ago I came home from church to find my iPad had been eaten by my dog. The phrase, “my dog ate my homework,” had never been more real. As I called my dog Coco, rather irritated, he ran to me tail wagging and all excited. Not at all remorseful for the destroyed property. It had been a challenging week with several other unexpected events requiring me to use a good bit of savings. The iPad is necessary for me to work. I wanted to yell at Coco, “Ipad equals work, work equals money, money equals food,” you just destroyed your source of food!!!!!! Or course Coco did not understand such language, he was just glad I was home from church.

Coco destroyed a piece of my property. I rather important and expensive item. My instinct was to be angry, frustrated and judge his behavior. His behavior was wrong. No one can deny that his behavior was wrong. But the question is my response.

Do I respond by judging Coco, saying he is a bad dog and then punish him in a way that does nothing to help him learn a different way? Or do I recognize the behavior was wrong but it most likely came from a place where he was left alone when he has separation anxiety, he had no bone and who knows maybe the iPad was making noise. I don’t really know. I can judge Coco harshly accomplishing nothing or I can help him and love him in a way that means the next iPad is not destroyed and he has the needed love and care.

We as people judge. I will be the first to admit I struggle to judge others. It is often challenging to know where the line is between recognizing something that is not good and judging. When we judge we condemn. We do not facilitate healing or meaningful change. We do not help people grow in their relationship with Christ. Judging tears down while healing transforms, changes and rebuilds.

Judging is like looking at Coco and saying your a bad dog. Healing is looking at Coco and through prayer and love saying how can we prevent this from happening and help you succeed. Is your judging tearing down Gods kingdom? Or are you recognizing things that are not good and helping people to overcome thus building up Gods Kingdom?

“Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you ,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin .” John 8:1-11 NIV

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When I give my two dogs dog food I have a specific bowl for Coco and Itsy. Coco is trained to not eat out of Itsy’s bowl because he eats like a horse. He eats everything there and does not stop thus making himself sick. Itsy is particular about her eating and time. The food has to always be sitting out. So when I place food in both bowls and Itsy goes to eat she cannot see so she eats out of both bowls. Coco stands back watching her eat his food from his bowl mouth watering. But he waits, never fights, growls or anything. Somehow he knows she needs the food more than him. He is actually patient for once. He is giving her what she needs. How beautiful.

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

I had an interesting conversation recently about giving. The Bible is full of scriptures about money, giving, etc. So much of the Bible is devoted to this topic. So summarizing this topic in a few words is a bit challenging. But here are some thoughts.

In order to understand giving I like to first acknowledge where the money and provision came from. God is the one who allowed you to earn the money in the first place. He is the ultimate giver of everything you have. Thus you are the steward of the resources you have. To me keeping this mind set is important for giving. When I realize everything I have has been given to me by God it helps me more easily look to God for wisdom on how he would have me allocate the resources. The Bible also gives us wisdom in this matter. There are a couple different types of financial giving discussed in the Bible.

1. Tithe- Christian’s are encouraged to give 10% of their income to the church. Typically it is said that you tithe to the local congregation you are a member and involved. This practice if found all the way back to genesis. It is an act of faith and worship of God. To give up 10% of our earnings to Jesus we are worshiping Jesus rather than money and trusting we can live sufficiently on the remainder. (Read for biblical references Genesis 14:20, Genesis 28:22, Leviticus 27:30-33, Malachi 3:10 and many more)

2. Other giving (charities, giving to poor/needy, support of missionaries, etc) everywhere you look people are asking you to donate money. There are an abundance of charities and organizations. I have to admit I get overwhelmed because I cannot give money to everyone. I would not be able to eat. Plus how do I know that the money is going to a good cause, etc.

Here are some scripture that help me to think through what I should give towards. I also think asking for God’s wisdom through prayer and following the Holy Spirit’s prompting important.

⁃ those that work to share the gospel often give up jobs, financially security, home, family, etc to share Christ love. They work in harsh environments potentially exposing themselves and their families to dangers. To mistreat them, turn them away or not support them is like denying Jesus. (Matthew 10:9-15, Luke 10:2-12) For God’s love and kingdom to be shared we need workers to do the work. They need to be clothed, feed and cared for. There are a variety of ways to do this. Specific individuals ask for support before going out. You can give to missions organizations specifying the person/family, country or just let them decide how the funds are most needed. Churches also have missions boards for caring for those working on the front lines.

⁃ Giving to poor and needy- I think these speak for themselves. I personally have the view, if someone in need, I will do my best to cloth them, feed them and such but I won’t give them money. I will give money to an organization that is dedicated to helping the individual grow as a person so that they can overcome whatever is causing them to be needy or help them find a long term healthy solution. So I will give a homeless person a bag of goods but I would give my money to an organization that is helping people get out of homelessness. Or I will give a friend who is depressed a couch to sleep on and shelter but give my money to an organization that will provide them he medical care and counseling they need. I think you get my point.

“In any of the towns in your land the Lord your God is giving you, if there is anyone poor among you, do not let your heart be hard and not be willing to help him. Be free to give to him. Let him use what is yours of anything he needs.”
-Deuteronomy 15:7-8 (NLV)

“What if a person has enough money to live on and sees his brother in need of food and clothing? If he does not help him, how can the love of God be in him?”
-1 John 3:17 (NLV)

“All those who put their trust in Christ were together and shared what they owned. As anyone had need, they sold what they owned and shared with everyone.”
-Acts 2:44-45 (NLV)

Warning for What Giving Is Not

Giving should come out of a heart of love for God, thankfulness for the resources he has blessed us with and love for other people. When we give to look good, gain attention or be seen in positive light this just reflects the sin in our our heart that says I want to be acknowledged. So rather than worship of Jesus it becomes a tactic to worship self. This is one of the reasons the Bible encourages secretive or anonymous giving. Our giving is not about the amount, it’s about our hearts who are worshiping God.

“Be sure you do not do good things in front of others just to be seen by them. If you do, you have no reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to the poor, do not be as those who pretend to be someone they are not. They blow a horn in the places of worship and in the streets so people may respect them. For sure, I tell you, they have all the reward they are going to get. When you give, do not let your left hand know what your right hand gives. Your giving should be in secret. Then your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
-Matthew 6:1-4 (NLV)

“If I give all my possessions to feed the poor…but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
-1 Corinthians 13:3 (NLV)

Good luck practicing generosity. Giving is so very rewarding and God is faithful to his children.

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Light and Dark

I started a garden on my little patio. I have been ecstatic that so far, things are growing. Lets hope and pray the lord sends me a good harvest of vegetables. Gardening on the patio is nice but I sometime worry the plants do not get enough light. There is a covering and many trees that provide shade. The plants never get fun sun. But then I was reading how plants also need darkness. If they have sun a full 24 hours it stresses them and causes problems. Plants need darkness just like humans. Who knew? Not me. We as humans need darkness to help our brains sleep and keep a healthy balance. We need the light hours and the dark hours.

The Bible is full of references of light and dark. The dark is typically referred to as representing evil and the light as Gods goodness. Jesus Christ is referred to as the light of the world. Those who walk in darkness are considered to be evil and not of the Lord. We as Gods children are called to walk in the light.

As a child of God the light of Jesus has been so bright at times. At other times it seems like things are dark, clouded and full of hardship. Sometime life is challenging and things just do not seem to be going well. We are faced with trials and tribulations. It’s easy to feel like the light of Jesus has disappeared? The truth is Jesus light is still there we just are not seeing it because of the darkness clouding our vision. How do we walk in the light of Jesus when everything seems like darkness?

I want to go back to my little garden. During the day the sun shines. The light is apparent. But at night, it is dark. It is during this dark hour that the plant takes all the sunlight it absorbed from the light and uses it for growing roots, flowers, fruits, etc. It is in the dark hours that the energy gained from the sun is used to produce something. What a beautiful process.

When the Bible refers to darkness it is talking about the evil in this world, sin and the enemy. We often are attacked by these evil things. As we walk in the light we experience darkness. For there is a battle surrounding us. It is during those times we are experiencing darkness that we have to be carful to abide in Christ so that we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us producing growth. The product will be the fruits of the spirit that builds Gods kingdom of light and fights the darkness.

We experience darkness. But instead of falling victim to the darkness we should focus on using what we have absorbed from the times of light to allow the Holy Spirit to produce something wonderful.

Walking in the light of Jesus does not mean you will not experience darkness. It means that through abiding in Christ the Holy Spirit will use you to become the light of Jesus in a dark world.

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Can Something Good Be An Idol?

We as humans invest ourselves in a variety of things. We invest time and energy into our work. We invest time and energy into our hobbies, music and sports. We invest time and energy into our friends, family and loves ones, even our pets. I myself devote a good amount of time to my 2 dogs because I call them my babies. If we are not doing these things and have no motivation to do so then I would argue you are sick. For it is normal and healthy for humans to be active, engaged, and working towards something.

In the Old Testament after Moses lead the Israelites out of slavery he left them to meet with God on mount Sinai. This is the placed he received the 10 commandments from God. The first commandment being…

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3

While Moses was receiving this commandment the Israelites melted down precious metal to form a golden calf in which they started worshiping. They exchanged the God of the universe who had performed miracles to free them from slavery for a gold calf.

This is the sin of humanity. To forget about God and start worshiping something else. It is not challenging. Even something we consider “good” like a career can become bad if we exchange our God and worship of God for that career or hobby or something else.

What is the cure? In the New Testament people asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment his response was this…

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37-39

For when we are truly loving the lord our God with all we have we will have no space for idol worship. There was nothing wrong with the metal that made that gold cafe. There was nothing really wrong with the gold calf itself. What was wrong was the heart of the people that loved, worship and devoted themselves to this gold calf over God.

If you would like to share a prayer request you can do this online here!

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