Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Name of Jesus

"Christmas forces people to face the reality of what they believe. If your belief isn't changing your life, then is it really belief at all?"

This question was posed to us as we sat in church last weekend. Talk about causing someone to think hard about what it is they believe...

Maybe you know what you believe in your head, but oftentimes have difficulty connecting it to your heart day in and day out. Maybe you don't know what you believe. Maybe you've been hurt by the church and people who claim to be Christians.  But here is the beautiful truth: God is not afraid of our doubts and questions, no matter where we fall on the spectrum.

Here is what I know I believe:
I believe is that the name of Jesus has the power to save, heal, restore, and deliver.
I believe that Jesus has no rival, no equal, and He reigns now and forever.
I believe that the name of Jesus brings peace to every situation, calms my heart when I'm stressed, and helps me dwell on truth.

Do these truths make it from my head to my heart every day? No. But the good news is that my inability to recognize those truths doesn't nullify the fact that Jesus is still all of those things.

The song "What a Beautiful Name" is jam-packed with truths about who Jesus is and the magnitude of what His name embodies that help remind me of what I believe..

"What a beautiful name it is, the name of Jesus Christ my King."

Beauty has to do with the things that are appealing or attractive to us. God is the epitome and essence of perfection and the most beautiful being in the whole universe. Think about the most beautiful thing your eyes have seen on this earth... snow capped mountains, the power of waves crashing on a shoreline, the smile of a child on Christmas morning, the most stunning sunset.. all things find their source of beauty in Him. And while we find beauty in all of these things, it is Jesus' characteristics and works and attributes that make him the most beautiful: his goodness, kindness, compassion, love... the way he relentlessly seeks out the people the world says are unlovable and irredeemable.

"What a wonderful name it is, the name of Jesus my King."

The name of Jesus has the ability to invoke wonder. We are given the opportunity and ability to live as new creations in Christ.... my tiny brain can hardly begin to wrap itself around that concept. It truly is amazing beyond comprehension!! We are walking miracles.

It is so easy to go through the motions. "Yes, Jesus died for me and forgave all of my sins. Yes, he rose from the dead to give me life. Yes, he is my everything" and the list goes on... but I never want to lose my wonder at the work that Jesus has done and is continuing to do in my life, in the lives of the people around me and the lives of people around the world.

"What a powerful name it is, the name of Jesus."

The words we speak have power. The most powerful word we could ever speak is the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus literally means, "God saves".. and not just as our Redeemer, but as our Protector, Comforter, Guide, Healer and the One who sets us free. The power of his name creates miracles, brings peace to any circumstance, protects from harm, heals the blind, makes the deaf to hear and sets people free from the things that burden and enslave them.

Praise be to the One who came to earth in the form of a baby, laid out in a dirty manger so the lowliest of us could have access to Him and be reconciled to Him forever. He is the God of hope and healing. The God who can breathe fresh life into anyone or anything. The One who is faithful to be all He says He is.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

grad school lessons: semester 1

i blinked and the first semester of grad school is almost over. it went nowhere close to the way i thought it would go, but the peace, love and faithfulness of jesus has overwhelmed me every day since i moved into my little home here in san antonio.

lesson #1: it's okay to not know.
i started the semester with a stupid amount of self-induced pressure on my shoulders to be "good" at grad school. wake up early, spend time with jesus, drink my coffee, make my bed, look presentable, go to class, ask great questions, do homework all afternoon, then have the rest of the night to myself. sounds ideal, doesn't it? life never goes the way you plan it.

instead, i started the semester that way, then realized that everyone in my class seemed to be a lot smarter than me. they understood concepts that i was still having a hard time grasping. i was insecure because i possess strengths that didn't seem to be applicable to the traditional world of healthcare administration. why should anyone care that i'm empathetic, harmonious, a developer or love to connect with people? they can comprehend financial statements, understand payer mixes, and ace their statistics exams.

it turns out that when you're vulnerable and open with people, you discover that people "don't know" things just like you "don't know" things. when that happens, it becomes easier to trade knowledge with each other and work together to make one another better. if you don't know the answer to something, find somebody who does. learn. grow. do things. make mistakes. don't be afraid to fail. the only way you'll ever wind up learning is by doing these things.

lesson #2: hold your plans lightly in your hands.
it is okay to wrestle with, cry to, shout at and question jesus. it doesn't change the fact that he loves you more than you could ever imagine, and that all he has in store for your life is good. pain is an invitation to draw close to him. let him love on you... let him heal you. then pick yourself up, set your eyes on things above and walk in freedom. his plans far outweigh what we could conjure up for ourselves.

lesson #3: surrender leads to joy.
the more i want what jesus wants, the more my desires will come into alignment with his. every day this semester, i have had to surrender something. it hurts, it's hard, and at the same time it is the most freeing thing in the world. trusting that jesus loves me and remembering that he has never ever ever once been anything other than faithful allows me to follow him in joyful anticipation for what my future holds. and speaking of which, the future doesn't have to be scary. hallelujah!

lesson #4: people are fascinating. 
i have loved getting to know everyone in my class. we are all united by the fact that we want to ultimately make a difference in the healthcare industry, but at the same time we are so different. we have different interests within the field. our upbringings were all different, we studied different things, we hold different religious and political views, some of us are married, some of us are dating, some of us are single. none of this changes the fact that we are all human beings who are deeply loved and are worthy of respect. everyone has a story. life is hard and it is messy, but when i take my eyes off of myself and focus on jesus and the people that he has placed around me, it puts everything in perspective.

lesson 5: discomfort is beautiful. 
the words that are defining this season for me are "refinement" and "hope". despite uncertainties, newness and transitions, i can trust that i am not alone and that joy can be found in every circumstance. "for i know the plans i have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you -- plans to give you a hope and a future."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hospitals: a Place of Miracles

People often think of miracles as being supernatural events where no human could possibly be involved. People also think that the miracle of modern medicine is exclusive from these supernatural events, such as Jesus healing the blind or cleansing the leper with the sound of His voice.

Today I spent time in the trenches of the hospital and got to see things I never thought I would get to see. I watched a cardiologist perform two heart cath procedures where he so tediously threaded a catheter into people's hearts to ensure that the organ that keeps their blood pumping and bodies alive was working properly, and if there was a problem then he could do something to help heal that person. I also watched as an electrophysiologist performed an a-fibrillation procedure where a man's heartbeat was restored to its regular rhythm after dealing with a very irregular heartbeat.

I have always believed that God can perform miracles, but I always thought of them in the context of the Bible where Jesus would touch a person or say a word and that person would be immediately healed. But since Jesus is not here in the form of a man, and he still performs miracles today, then so often He will use His people to work through in order to heal people. He can use any method He pleases to perform his miracles, and there is no place I have seen this truth more clearly than in the hospital.

God has gifted each of us with unique abilities and skills and passions, as well as means by which we can heal people in both our professional and personal lives as well. It doesn't matter if it's a nurse, physician, surgeon, or administrator... All of these employees are reflections of the Great Physician.

What really amazed me was the sweet reminder that Jesus gave me when I was walking through the shock/trauma ICU this afternoon. I was incredibly nervous to walk over there-- what would I see? Hear? Smell? I've seen almost every Grey's Anatomy episode ever made and could stomach that for the most part, but I had convinced myself that I couldn't deal with the stereotypical hospital/sick person smell, and don't even think about asking me to deal with blood and body fluids. It was just too much for me. But as He so often seems to do, Jesus  so kindly, gently and patiently reminded me that not once has he ever backed away from me in my human state, in my sickness, or at any time that I reek of anything other than what flows directly from His spirit living inside of me. Each and every day, He presses in to me and cares for me, provides for me and loves me. How could I possibly tell myself that it was okay to just "hold my breath and look away" when I encountered a patient that looks deformed or smells bad?

So I will continue to press in. Even though I am not healing patients at the bedside, I want to press in to every person I encounter-- coworkers, patients, families and friends-- because Jesus has pressed in to me, loves me and has healed me.