Soul Surgery

The patient had complained of unusual symptoms. Heartache. Unfulfillment. Despair. A nagging ache of hopelessness. Unsure where to turn. He was self medicating, but it wasn’t helping. He was searching for help in all the wrong places. All hope seemed lost.

He heard of the master surgeon. He scheduled an appointment. Curiosity brought me here. He said. I’ve heard it’s a radical surgery, but I want to know more. Tell me about the procedure and recovery time. I’m a busy man, and I don’t have time to be laid up. But I’m desperate for healing.

The patient asked about the cost of the surgery. The wise surgeon looked at him and opened wide his arms. Someone else has already paid the price. For you, this surgery is free.

The surgeon noted on the patient’s chart that there was no prep for the surgery. We see best results to this type of surgery when you come as you are. You are welcome in your current state. There was a large note at the top of the chart:

Come as you are. Do not try to change your current routines before surgery. All adjustments to your care will be made during rehabilitation.

The soul is lying on the operating table. The surgeon opens up the soul. There is a hunt for goodness. Kindness. Love. Peace. Joy. Patience. Truth. Honor. But all that can be found is darkness mixed with hatred and anger. Lust and fear. Dishonesty. Greed. Grudges. Gluttony. Adultery. Addictions. The cords of selfishness are wrapped so tightly around the soul that any good intentions are strangled.

It started slowly at first. Seemingly unnoticeable. A white lie led to a bigger lie. Until now, truth is hard to find. Where once peace and love ruled the heart, now grudges and discord run rampant. 

The surgeon tries desperately to find some noble deed that’s worth saving. But the search is fruitless. Life support can’t support a soulless life. The madness must end. If truth be told, truth hasn’t been told in so long that it’s unrecognizable.

As the soul was laid bare on that table, the surgeon saw that this particular surgery would be long and complicated. It was as if time stood still. But for this surgeon, a minute was as a day. And a day was as a minute. For all intents and purposes, this soul would need a miracle. 

During the procedure, he removes every wrong act and thought from the patient. He wipes out all record of wrongdoing. He cleans up the arteries and increases blood flow. Any tumors or growths are cut away. As the surgeon closes up the incision, he covers up the wound with his own red blood. He will not remember what he has seen in that soul he has made clean.


Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13


The surgeon was later asked if it was possible to find any life in this lifeless soul. Was there any reason to hold out hope for a new beginning? Could this soul be saved if fed a proper diet? If specific life saving disciplines were established, could this soul be fruitful and multiply? Was a miracle possible? Oh. He said. Miracles are my specialty.

Recovery would require discipline. Soul therapy would need to be scheduled on a regular basis. This soul’s eternity was at stake. Healing would take a lifetime.

In the follow up appointment, the patient asked about rehabilitation. What is involved? How long will it take? How many sessions? Can you recommend a good therapist? Where will the therapy sessions be held? Does my insurance cover this part of recovery?

The master surgeon sat down and explained that the rehabilitation would be long and arduous. It would be difficult. At times, painful. But, oh the joy when hurdles have been crossed. When victories have been won. When old lifestyle habits have been conquered. When new disciplines have been set in place.

There is no time limit to the rehabilitation, he continued. It will last a lifetime. You, the patient, play a large role in your own success. But you can’t do it alone. You will need help. You will need others who have survived and are still on the road of recovery to help and guide you. But choose wisely where you seek advice. There will be those who have been through the surgery, but didn’t fulfill the rehabilitation requirements. They will try to lead you astray. They will say that the surgery was a mistake. Don’t listen to them. Then there are others who have never had the surgery. They will be as slippery as snakes with their advice. Run from them with every ounce of strength you can find. Stay close to those who continue to seek rehabilitation. Spend time with them.

You will need to schedule daily appointments with me, the surgeon advised. Please make sure to do this, as it is of utmost importance to your survival. Continue to read the prescription that I wrote for you. It will tell you all about me, but it was written with you in mind. Call me anytime you think of me. I am always available. Do not hesitate to call me at any time of the day or night. I cannot stress enough how important this step is in your healing. Many who have come through the surgery with flying colors fall short in this area. It weakens them and opens them up to unnecessary heartache and trials. Please. Please. Please. Remember that this is most important for your recovery and survival.

This surgeon has seen a lot of souls in his day.  His daily schedule is always full, but he’s willing to perform any surgery at any time. Day or night. He is always on call. He reserves time each day for last minute appointments. He is always available for emergency surgeries. He orchestrates each surgery, but he has a band of helpers. A host of heaven’s armies are at his disposal.  Heavenly angels perform at his bidding.

The surgeon inspects each soul as if it’s his favorite. He opens up the soul and does a thorough inspection. He has seen some souls hardened by abuse and despair. Crusty and misshapen by bad attitudes, grudges, lies, distorted truths, shame and regret. Can those souls be saved? Only the surgeon knows. He is the giver of life. And he is the taker of life. He alone decides the final resting place of the soul. It is a great responsibility. Only fit for a sovereign God.

Be Prepared

She said it so casually. I don’t believe in an afterlife. And neither does my husband. And she laughed as she said it. She thinks that there is nothing for her after her last breath.

Her husband doesn’t think the topic is a laughing matter. The way she described the scene in their home led me to believe her husband is petrified of what’s to come. The thing that he doesn’t believe in terrifies him. If he believes in nothing, what’s to be afraid of.

She was brave enough to admit that she could be wrong.

Oh. We have much to talk about. This young woman and I.

I think of the man dying of an incurable disease. I think of another man who just breathed his last breath. One is already in eternity. The other is close behind.  I wonder what they believed and who they believed in.


But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? Romans 10:14-15


I recall a scene a few years ago. I was asked if I was going to the dinner. I was surprised by the question, because I hadn’t received an invitation. And these were close friends. Why would I be excluded? But I was. I didn’t even know a dinner had been planned. The one who shared the news seemed uncomfortable with my explanation that I hadn’t been included in the invite.

How could I go to the dinner if I didn’t know it was taking place? How would I know I was being excluded if I didn’t know of the invitation? How would I know of the invitation unless I received it?

I think of this young woman. My coworker. Perhaps she’s never been told the truth of an afterlife. Perhaps she’s never been included in an honest discussion of God’s plan for her life. Perhaps she’s never been invited to hear of God’s love for her.

How will she know if no one tells her. Perhaps I’ve come into her life for such a time as this. Perhaps I will be the messenger to share the good news with her. Perhaps her heart will soften, and she will be open to hearing the message of truth and redemption. Perhaps she will be interested in the saving grace of our Lord and Savior.

But what if she isn’t interested in hearing the truth? What if she shuns the love of God? What if she decides that Biblical teaching is not truth to her? That is her right. God has given her a free will to decide how to live her life. She can choose to live life without God. She can choose to believe there is no afterlife. But what she doesn’t yet understand is that she will stand before Him some day and give an account of her life. She will live in eternity. Somewhere. There is an afterlife.

So when the opportunity arises, I must be prepared to share the message of hope with her. I must always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that I have. If no one tells her, she will never know. How can I overlook the opportunity to share the free gift of eternal life with her?

The Story of Jesus

I love old hymns. I remember singing hymns at church on Sunday mornings. Sunday evenings. Wednesday evenings. Yeah. It was a lot of church. But I learned the stories of Jesus at church. and at home. I’m not sorry about that.

One of the old hymns that has been rolling around in my head for the past week talks about the stories of Jesus.

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Refrain:
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”

Tell how He’s gone back to heaven,
Up to the right hand of God:
How He is there interceding
While on this earth we must trod.
Tell of the sweet Holy Spirit
He has poured out from above;
Tell how He’s coming in glory
For all the saints of His love.

The words of this hymn written by Fanny Crosby ring true. They’re taken straight from Scripture. They tell the story of Jesus. His life. His ministry. His suffering. His death. His resurrection. They are the message of God’s plan for all mankind.


I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalms 119:11


I read the Bible. I know the Bible stories. I have heard them since childhood. Oh. How I cherish those stories. But to know them and to live them is two different things. I find that I still struggle with using my words instead of God’s words. I find that I still want my way when it’s the easier way. I find that to truly live God’s way is a tough road to walk. But I know the tough road is much more fulfilling. It’s leading to eternal life even when the walk is hard. Even when mistakes are made. and unkind words are said. The story of Jesus is one of forgiveness and mercy and grace and kindness. His love is never ending. That’s what I need.

Oh. I may never perform a miracle. I may never fast in a desert. I may never be nailed to a cross. I may never be raised from the dead. But I do plan to see Jesus someday. I plan to meet him face to face. I plan to go to heaven when I have finished the race. I plan to walk on streets of gold. I will stand face to face with God to give an account of my life.

So this story of Jesus rings true to me. I trust that every word is true. I believe it for my life. This story never grows old.

Mission Field

The ones I work with cheat.  They speak ill of others.  They don’t respect authority.  They speak with crude words.  They lie.  They steal time from the company.  They look out only for themselves.

I wonder why I have anything to do with them.  Then I remember.  I’m one of them.  I’m no better than them.  Oh.  I work hard.  I do my best.

They are my mission field.  The ones I am called to serve.  To love them as Jesus does.  To care for them.  This is my battlefield.  To fight off Satan’s advances in a place where his ways are popular.  If I don’t fight Satan there, who will.  If I don’t share God’s love with them, who will.

I’ve worked with this type throughout the years.  It’s nothing new.  But I find that I must stay close to my Heavenly Father so I don’t become one of them.  Oh.  I’m not better than them.  I’m just like them.  But I’ve found the One in whom my soul delights.  I want to please Him rather than myself.  I want to serve Him rather than myself.

They’re lost to the truth.  They don’t know that God loves them.  They don’t know he’s the one true relationship they’ve been searching for all this time.  But I know it.  I know the truth.  I know the One they seek.  I can lead them to him.  I can help them find him.

After all.  Jesus didn’t turn away from those who weren’t like him.  He loved the unlovable.  He had dinner at the cheating tax collector’s house.  He struck up a conversation with a woman who was shunned by her community.  He stood with a woman caught in adultery.

Jesus didn’t spend time only with those who followed him.  He sought out others who needed what he had to offer.  He made himself available to those who didn’t know they needed him.


You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.  Matthew 5:14


He saw the tax collector sitting in a tree.  Jesus knew this man had gotten rich by cheating others of out large sums of money.  But he still invited himself to the man’s house for dinner.  This man turned his life around and gave half his wealth to the poor and returned money to those he had cheated.  All because Jesus took time for him and showed him the way of  love and forgiveness.

Jesus started a conversation with the woman with the questionable past.  He spoke first, asking for a drink of water.  He told her things about herself he shouldn’t have known.  He loved her in spite of the fact that she had had five husbands and was living with another man.  This woman who was shunned by her community ran to tell them about this man who knew everything about her.  She and her village were changed because of the simple message of love and forgiveness.

The woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus.  Her accusers were trying to trick him, but he didn’t play their game.  They wanted her stoned to death.  So Jesus suggested the one in the group who had never sinned should throw the first stone.  One by one they quietly walked away.  The woman’s accusers were guilty of sins, just as she was.  But Jesus didn’t condemn her.  Instead, in love he told her to leave her life of sin.  He showed her love and forgiveness.

So.  Who do I think I am that I shouldn’t spend time with those who don’t believe as I do?  Why should I surround myself only with those like me?  Why do I think I can ignore those I come in contact with who have sin written all over their face?  For I’m just like them.  I have sin written all over my face, but it’s been washed clean in Jesus’ blood.   I’m no better than them, but I’ve accepted the gift of eternal life.

Yes.  I must be Jesus to those I work with.  Perhaps they can turn from cheating.  From their gossip.  From self-centeredness.  But not only them.  I think of the one who delivers my groceries every week.  Does he need Jesus in his life?  I think of the one who cuts my hair.  My massage therapist.  What about my neighbors?  The people at the dog park.  Who can I be Jesus to today?

Angels Rejoice

I heard the news.  Two people recently made a life-changing decision.  That decision.  To follow Christ.  To turn their back on their sins.  To turn their back on themselves.  To turn their back on their old thoughts.  Desires.  Ambitions.  To place their faith, hope and trust in the God who created them.

They humbled themselves and bowed to the only God of the universe.  They bowed to their will.  Their ways.  They have turned themselves over to the one true God.  They have submitted their lives to God.

Their slate of sin has been erased.  Wiped clean.  Any wrong they have done has been removed as far from God as the sea is from the heavens.  Those sins have been forgotten by God.  Oh.  He’s that good.  Salvation is that good.

I imagine the peace these two people now feel.  The burden of sin they carried has been crushed by the weight of the cross that Jesus carried.  The charred blackness of their hearts has been made white as snow.  The weight on their shoulders has been removed.

Once they walked away from their sins, they walked through an open door straight to a new best friend.  God Almighty.  Now they have the opportunity to build a strong, close relationship with their Maker.  They are now learning how much God is on their side.  The one they once shunned is now the center of their life.  I pray they will continue to build that relationship with him.  He is fighting for them.  He is working for them.  He loves them.

They will learn that they still have free will.  Oh.  They can choose to sin.  There will be times of temptation.  Every day when they wake up, they will have to choose.  Will they follow God?  Will they follow their own will?  I pray that as the sun rises each day, they choose God.


There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.  Luke 15:8


There have been many prayers sent up to heaven for these souls.  There have been tears.  Pleas to God.  Please save our loved one.  Oh.  God was willing.  He’s always willing and waiting.  The decision is in the hearts of each of us.  Will we give our lives to God or will we selfishly hold on to our will and our ways?  We each have a choice.

This news fills me with joy.  It reminds me that God is still bigger and better than all our worries and problems.  It tells me that God is still working in the hearts of men and women.  Teenagers and children.  God is not dead.  God is not done.  He is holding out on sending his son, Jesus, back to earth.  Just for this reason.  He wants all of us to be saved.  He wants everyone who is ever born to join him in heaven.  But we can only do that if we repent of our sins.  If we turn our lives over to him and let him guide us.

Some may think God is not relevant today.  Some may believe God is dead.  Or that he never existed.  Some people think that being good is good enough.  The fact that two more people have made the decision to follow God tells me God is very much alive.  God is still waiting for those who are not yet his followers.  God is still working in the hearts of those who need him.  God is a very patient God.  God is still in the saving business.

Angels in heaven rejoice when a sinner on earth makes the decision to become a Christian.  Heaven throws a party to celebrate new believers.  Has there been a heavenly party for you?  If no, it’s not too late.

 

Flu Season

Have you heard?  It’s flu season.  And this year.  This year the flu is bad.  People are dying.  Children.  Moms.  Old people.  It can strike anyone at any time.  Oh.  There are warnings.  Wash your hands.  Get the flu shot.  Stay home if you’re sick.  But not everyone heeds the warnings.

This is the worst flu season in almost a decade.  It’s not an epidemic.  But almost. That’s what they say.  Oh.  There have been other illnesses and plagues that have been worse.  Much worse.  But it seems when the dying season is upon us it feels worse than ever.  And it’s not even peak flu season yet.   Medical experts are predicting this to be the worst flu season in history.  It’s being compared to a plague of locusts devastating crops from coast to coast.  This flu is called H3N2.

Swine Flu.  Polio.  AIDS.  Smallpox.  Bubonic Plague.  Spanish Flu.  Tuberculosis.  Malaria.  Cholera.  Ebola.

Some of these diseases have been eradicated.  Some are now treatable.  All are to be avoided.  Each one has wreaked havoc across many nations and homes.  There have been casualties.  There have been survivors.  All have a story to tell.


For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:23


There is another disease that’s wreaking havoc all over the world.  Oh.  I dare to call it an epidemic.  Some don’t want to give it a name.  Others call the name to its face.  This disease has many and various symptoms.  It can seem to be in remission and then return.  It can be eradicated once and for all.  If treated properly.

The thing is.  Everyone is born with this disease.  It shows its face early in life.  One never knows when it will become full blown.  It’s different for everyone.  But it will erupt.  It will cause death.  It must be treated.

Some have symptoms of rebellion.  Others are prone to lying.  Or stealing.  Or cheating.  Stubbornness.  Gluttony.  Unfaithfulness.  Murder.  Worshiping false gods.  Disobedience.  The list goes on.

Here’s the thing.  Each symptom has the same underlying cause.  And each symptom has the same cure.  There are differences in every case.  It depends on how long and how deeply rooted the disease has been working.  It’s an internal disease with both internal and external consequences.  Some consequences come at a huge cost.  Others aren’t so public.  They both lead to the same death.  If the cure isn’t applied.

Some take to the cure more easily than others.  Some fight it.  And they fight it hard.  Sometimes their entire life.  Until it’s too late.  And they miss out on the cure of a lifetime.  Those who accept the cure must be diligent about the continual battle.  The disease can recur.  If it does, it can be even harder to eliminate.  But it’s always possible to beat this disease.  Always.

The cure.  It’s very personal.  It’s free. And it’s immediate.  It’s always available.  This pharmacy is never closed.  It isn’t to be taken lightly.  It’s a private act.  Once the cure is applied, the patient is encouraged to share it with others who have the disease.  It’s that treatable.

The disease.  Sin.  The cure.  Salvation.

 

 

It’s Never Too Late

He turned and caught my eye.  He wasn’t sure if he should look.  But he did.  I wasn’t sure if I should return the look.  But I did.

He was pushing his bike in the intersection when the left arrow turned green.  It was my turn to go.  But he was in the way.  I had to wait.

Maybe he didn’t mean to catch my eye.  Maybe he was just checking to make sure I wasn’t going to charge into him.  Or maybe he was checking to see if I was going to make some obscene gesture.  Or mouth some bad words.  I didn’t do any of that.  I just looked at him.  I waited.

I continued to look.  I saw sadness about him.  Uncertainty.  Unhappiness.  Desperation.  I wondered why he wasn’t riding the bike.  I wondered why he wasn’t driving a car.

I wondered what got him to this point in his life.  Had he made some wrong decisions?  Did he have some habits he couldn’t break?  I didn’t mean to judge.  But I did.

I remember someone else I see regularly standing on that same street corner.  She holds a sign.  Need money.  No job.  Please help.  The thing is.  I’ve seen her there for over a year now.  Once a week.  I sometimes see her walking up to that corner.  I always wonder where she came from.  She pulls out her sign and unfolds it.  Like it’s her job.  I wonder if it is her job.   To stand on that street corner and ask for money.  Perhaps she’s standing on a different street corner every day.

I wonder why she hasn’t gotten a job yet.  I wonder if she’s scamming people for money.  And that’s her job.  I wonder if she really is homeless.  She doesn’t look homeless.

I don’t look her in the eye.  I look away instead.  I’ve been known to put on my sunglasses so I can look at her without looking her in the eye.  I don’t trust her motives.  I don’t mean to judge.  But I do.

Then I remember a man who was judged.  He was hung on a cross and left to die.  Three days later he shocked the world and left the tomb where he had been buried.  He could have saved himself.  But he didn’t.  He could have been the judge and jury of those accusing him of things he didn’t do.  Of things he didn’t say.  But he didn’t.

Instead, he showed love.  As he hung on that middle cross, dying.  One rebel hanging with him cursed him.  The other rebel defended him and asked to be remembered.  Jesus looked over to the man and offered salvation.  Later that day, the man was in heaven.  Meeting up with God.  Because one man, Jesus Christ, cared enough to look him in the eye.  To offer hope and salvation and eternal life.  Instead of judging him.  In the last minutes of that rebel’s life, he was forgiven.  He was given eternal life in heaven.

It’s never too late to receive Jesus’ love and forgiveness.  All you have to do is ask.  

It’s never too late to stop judging others.  It’s never too late to share God’s love.  It’s never too late to offer the hope of heaven.

Maybe I need to start looking more people in the eye.