Monthly Archives: October 2013

Medical Part Four

Medicine must be more of a ministry than a business
When I was about nine years old my family made a trip from California to Kentucky to visit my Aunt Becky and Uncle Doc. They live in a small town in central Kentucky. My Uncle is the town Doctor in addition to owning a large farm. While we were there, Doc was always in and out, mostly out. I remember one day in particular when Uncle Doc came in after a long day at the medical office. As I recall we had just sat down to eat dinner when the phone rang, one of his patients had gone into labor and he needed to leave. I heard later that he had come home in the early hours of the morning after having delivered this woman’s child. It was her sixth, and Uncle Doc had been there to deliver all of them. The woman was poor and had never paid for any of the deliveries. I am sure that it bothered my Aunt and Uncle some, but it was just part of the job—or should I say ministry? You see my Uncle had grown up in the area. As a young man he had felt a calling by God to serve his community by being the town doctor. For him it was a calling, a ministry. Sure it was a business too, and he made good money at it, enough to make him one of the richest men in town. But for him practicing medicine was primarily a ministry and the business aspect was a distant second.
I am sure that there are still a lot of “Uncle Docs” out there, but it seems to me that over the years, medicine has made a large shift away from ministry and toward business. There are a number of reasons for this. I must make a disclaimer at this point. I am not an expert, I have not researched this industry, and I don’t work in the medical field or even any related field. All of the following are my own observations and opinions. I welcome comment by anyone with a differing opinion or first-hand experience in the field.
The following list in not in any order of importance:
• An increase of doctors pooling resources and working together through medical center and hospitals. This has increased the likely hood of a patient seeing someone other than his family doctor. The ministry approach is closely related to the building of rapport and trust that builds through repeated contact over time.
• The growth in specialization. This has two impacts:
o The first is that often medical students are encouraged to go into a specialty because they can earn more money. This attitude places money as the primary goal and ministry as a secondary goal.
o Specialists tend to be brought in to treat a particular ailment. The focus is on the ailment not the person. The relationship is often viewed as temporary and therefore not important. The approach is task oriented rather than person oriented.
o This is not always true because even doctors with specialties can have a ministry approach. Some Specialists treat chronic conditions and end up forming a closer relationship with their patients than the primary physician.
• Incorporation
I am primarily talking about hospitals but this can apply to any type of medical corporation. By definition a corporation must work for the benefit of the stockholders. Maximizing the return for stockholders establishes business as the primary focus and ministry must take a back seat.
• Insurance
I my opinion insurance is the problem, not the solution. Insurance more than anything made medicine a business. The growth of insurance created the need for insurance billing. Doctor’s offices, hospitals and others are spending up to 30% of their time and staff on medical billing rather than medical service.
The insurance companies have stepped between the medical provider and patient. Insurance companies are exclusively about making money; they have neither personal attachment to nor interest in the patient or the doctor as people.
Insurance companies have separated the medical service from the billing. Now the doctors are providing the service and a separate entity is handling the billing and collections. The patient has less opportunity to question costs or the cost vs. benefit of a particular procedure. By the same token, doctors and medical providers feel justified in charging more and more, because they are not extracting the money from a particular patient instead it is coming from a large, wealthy, insurance company.
• High-Tech Medicine
Modern medicine has become increasingly dependent on very expensive equipment and drugs. The large companies that provide equipment, medicines and supplies to medical service providers are detached from the patient. It is almost impossible for them to see their work as a ministry. Ministry happens one on one between people; it doesn’t happen through equipment, medicines or other supplies. Those items are commodities bought, sold and traded by businesses.
In addition, an increasing amount of “medical care” is done outside of the doctor’s office. Often you are sent to a lab for tests or a scan. Once again these are not part of the ministry of medicine they are detached technical functions to identify a disease. Now I can look up my test results on-line so the doctor will not need to interact with me directly. All of this is done in the interest of saving money (supposedly for the patient).
• Lawyers
Lawyers have thrown themselves into the mix; suing doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and others. Of course there are times that these suits have been justified, but the end result has not been better medical treatment. For the most part it has led to a business decision to purchase medical malpractice insurance. Now if a doctor happens to injure a patient there is no interaction between the doctor and patient. Nothing is resolved on a personal level. Instead it is purely a battle between disinterested parties over money. The doctor patient communication is replaced by, “Have your lawyer talk to my lawyer.” Not only does ministry not happen, we have developed a system that prevents it from happening. A doctor cannot admit to wrong doing because it may give ammunition to the opposing lawyer. No correction happens, no restoration, nothing happens that is truly emotionally and spiritually healing.
Both my brothers and my wife have worked in Church ministry. Churches exist to minister to people, but there are business aspects to churches also. Facilities have to be managed, resources allocated, payroll met. There are a thousand ways in which a church functions as a business. What I have observed is that the more business there is in managing a church, the less ministry happens. Business and ministry seem to fight one another.
I think it is easy to see that our medical system has come a long way, but the direction we have been moving is away from medical ministry and toward medical business. Everything is judged based on money. Often the discussion is framed in terms of saving money for finding some way to more efficiently treat the patient. These are all business viewpoints. Gradually the doctor patient relationship is being eroded away. Doctors are treating diseases not people. Even medical care providers who have a heart to perform their services as a ministry are finding that the system gets in the way. There must be a way to simplify the medical industry and allow doctors to be ministers. We must reverse the trend and more from medical business and back to medical ministry.

Medical Part Three

The Role of the Church in Healthcare

The Skimmer Version—Just the highlights—for those who won’t take the time to read the full article

  • Leading question: “Should the Church be involved in healthcare?”
  • Answer:
    If God is the source of Life, Health and Healing (see Medical Part One) and
    If all illness is the result of sin (see Medical Part Two) and
    If humans are body and spirit, rather than just animated bodies (see Medical Part Two)
    Then the Church is the only group properly equipped to deal with all aspects of human health
  • Historically the Church has been deeply involved in health care by training doctors, nurses and medical missionaries. We have also been responsible for building and running hospitals and medical clinics throughout the world.  It is only recently that the Church has withdrawn from medicine.
  • Warnings:
    The Church providing healthcare must supplement our overall goal of making disciples rather than detract from it.
    The Church must provide health care for the whole person physically and spiritually. We must not provide secular healthcare with a Christian name attached.

The Full Article

Should Churches be involved in health care?

The answer is quite simply—YES. If God is the source of Life, Health and Healing  (Medical Part One), and All illness is the Result of Sin (Medical Part Two), and humans are both body and spirit, then it follows that the Church should be at the center of health care. Not only should the Church be involved; we must be involved. No one else in all the world is equipped to deal with the whole person, body soul and spirit. No one else is equipped to deal with sin and extend forgiveness. No one else is a proper channel for the power of God’s healing. No one else is equipped to train people to be disciples of Christ and to live lives which honor Him, avoid sin and its consequences.

Not only should the Church be involved in health care, we have been, up until recently. Healing has been a part of what God does from way back. We can trace it back at least to the time that Moses fashioned a brazen serpent and placed it on a pole in the wilderness so the Children of Israel could look at it and be healed from poisonous snake bites. Later Jesus referred to that as a symbol of His death on the cross. Now it has become the symbol of the American Medical Association. Throughout the Old Testament prophets of God healed people. Men like Elijah and Elisha. In the New Testament Jesus healed the people before He preached the Gospel. He also showed the need to heal the whole man by calling people to repentance, forgiving their sin and healing their diseases.

Nursing traces back to Florence Nightingale.

The missionary movement of the 1800s often brought medical care and healing, hand in hand with the Gospel; and that trend continues all the way up to the present.

In my area of the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California there are a large number of hospitals. There is the Presbyterian Hospital in Glendora, the Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, Queen of the Valley Hospital, founded by the Catholics, in West Covina. In fact if you look into the founding of the hospitals in the area you will find that nearly all of them were founded by Christian denominations or small groups of Christian Doctors.

It was understood that healing was part of the work of Christ and that the Church should continue to caring on that work. We understood that heath care is a Christian ministry to the community.

There were a number of things that reversed this trend. One is the deterioration of denominations. This happened in two ways. Many, not all, of the large denomination wandered from the truth and became much more liberal in their theology. This led them to deny the power of Christ and turn to secular means to solve community problems. The distinction between Christian medicine and secular medicine was lost. A second way that denominations deteriorated it that key churches cut their ties with the denominations. The denomination was viewed as dragging down the larger churches. The churches would contribute money to the denomination but they saw little benefit. Denominations began to break-up and the hospital and medical clinics went too. Without large amounts of money pooled together through the denomination the hospitals could not function. They were sold off.

Of course there were a number of other factors, businesses moving in to medicine, Doctors looking for new ways to make money, health insurance coming in and driving up the cost of medical services, lawyers deciding that they can make money by targeting doctors and hospitals with malpractice law suits, the development of expensive diagnostic equipment, and pharmaceutical companies developing new high price drug treatments. Everyone recognized the medicine was a growing field, full of new opportunities. The business of greed took over. The Church unknowingly surrendered to business.

Healthcare is primarily a ministry, not a business. Business cannot do something that only the Church is equipped to do. Healthcare will only continue to deteriorate unless the Church provides clear direction and leadership to fix the problem.

A Word of Warning

The Church has only one mandate; “To go into all the world and make disciples”. We are not called to create hospitals or to run medical clinics. That is not the goal of the Church. It is true that the Church being involved in healthcare could lead us away from our primary objective and that must be guarded against. Another danger is that we would provide healthcare according to the popular naturalistic secular model, instead of following a Biblical approach to healthcare. We have been away from the Biblical approach for so long that we need to learn it all over again.

We are called to make disciples. All too often that statement is simplified down to mean “make converts”. A disciple is much more than a convert. A disciple is a fully devoted follower of Christ. A disciple wants to emulate Christ in all he does. He studies God’s word and knows how to apply it to all of life’s issues. If the Church is making true disciples wouldn’t we see it in how Christian doctors do medicine? Wouldn’t we see it in how Christian hospital administrators do their work? Wouldn’t we seek to minister to the whole person rather than just their body? Wouldn’t we deal with the problem of sin? Wouldn’t we demonstrate to the world God’s plan for life, health, and healing?

We, the Church, have become very small in our thinking. God has the answers to all of life’s issues. It is time we learn the answers and apply them to everything we touch. Those areas that we have surrendered we need to retake. Medicine is one of those areas.

The Debt Ceiling

The Skimmer’s Version—Just the highlights for those who won’t read the full article

  • Step #1—Live above your means
    It starts by living above our means. We want something, that we truly can’t afford and we want it now. Leave no money in reserve for an unexpected crisis.
  • Step #2—Borrow money to address a Crisis
    Encounter a crisis for which we are not prepared and borrow money to address the crisis
  • Step #3—Don’t pay off the debt when you can
    When things are good we want to enjoy our high standard of living rather than cut back and pay off the debt.
  • Step #4—Assume continuous growth
    The American expectation is one of continuous and growing prosperity. We always assume that home values will go up, wages will go up, we will get promotions, stock values will go up and the next generation will do better than the last. Recessions are temporary and growth is normal.
  • Step #5—Borrow to maintain a high standard of living
    When times are bad borrow to maintain the high standard of living to which we are accustomed. We even borrow to create the appearance of continued growth.
  • Step #6—Borrow to pay your regular bills
    After decades of continuous borrowing there comes a point that we can’t pay our regular monthly obligations. Once we reach this point we are in serious trouble.
  • Step #7—Take pride in your clear credit history and your appearance of wealth
    We can reach this point and still look like we are wealthy. There can be a tremendous amount of money passing through our hands. We can also have an excellent credit rating. It is possible to have always paid our bills on time.
  • Step #8—Demand more credit
    At this point we begin to think irrationally. We sense that we are in a financially desperate situation but pride, arrogance and an emotional commitment to living above our means causes us to see the only option as borrowing more money to get us through the tough time.
    The real solution is to drastically cut spending, but irrational thinking makes us behave like a compulsive gambler. “I have a sure bet. If I can just borrow some more money to gamble, I will be able to pay it all back and more.”
    This demanding of more credit (raising the debt ceiling), views the lender as the responsible entity. The attitude is, “I have a perfect credit rating. If I can’t pay my bills now, it is there fault, because they won’t loan me more money”.
  • Step #9—The End
    This will end when we stop borrowing money. That can happen in one of two ways. Either we decide for ourselves to stop borrowing. We must, suck it up, cut spending and begin to pay off the debt. It will be very painful and take a long time. Or we continue to try to borrow. At some point the lenders will decide that we are a bad credit risk and they will refuse to lend us any more money. This won’t happen right away. For a time we will continue to borrow and make the situation much worse.
  • Conclusion
    Most of us have no problem understanding this scenario in our personal lives. Many of us have gone through it or have watched a close friend go through it. Why can’t we see that the Government raising the debt ceiling is totally irrational? Either we fix the problem now under our own control or others will “fix” it for us and we will have no say in the matter.

The Home Version

Sometimes we hear about the US Budget and think of it an amazingly complicated thing that only someone with a PhD in Economics can understand. The US budget may be big and complicated but the principles for handling the national budget are the same as handling your household budget. So here is a little home budget metaphor to help us understand the national debt problem.

Our story begins with a young family in 1998 buying their first home. They looked and looked for a home that they could afford. There was nothing in an area in which they would feel safe raising their family. Finally the Real Estate agent found a house that they loved. It was small and more than they thought they could afford but the Real Estate agent assured them that with the tax write-off and some creative financing they could do it. Bank fudged some numbers and did some creative financing and they were in.

It was a financial struggle but it looked like they were making it until both cars broke down. They ended up buying a new car on credit. Then school was starting and they took out a school loan. It would be ok because a degree would mean a better job and more money. In a few years they would be sitting pretty. Kids were starting school too so they took advantage of the back to school sales by using their credit cards.

They limped along for the next 5 years. They always paid their bills on time, but often they resorted to buying things on credit in order to make the mortgage payment. They were piling up a ton of debt; using one credit card to make the minimum payment on another. They had to do something.

They received an offer from the bank to consolidate all of those high interest credit cards by taking out a second on their house. This was the answer! They did it.

Five years later they found that they were in the same boat; a first, a second and a mound of credit card debt. They had to do something. They called the bank and asked if they would raise the debt ceiling on the second. The bank agreed. Ahhhh some breathing room.

This time it only took two years before they were in trouble again. They called the bank but they wouldn’t raise their debt ceiling. Another bank offered a signature loan. They jumped on it even though the interest rate was high.

Quickly they realized that it wasn’t enough. Based on their current method of budgeting they would need to continue to find a new source to borrow money every year. Their credit rating was good. They always paid their bills on time (with the minimum payment), and someone was always willing to loan them money.

I am sure you can see that this cannot continue forever. At some point they need to actually reduce the debt. It will probably mean some pretty desperate cutbacks; sell the house, sell a car, stop eating out, put the kids in public school, no vacations. It may even mean they need to move in with family. The future will be tough, but it is the only thing to do.

That is what the financial counselor told them, but they just refused to accept that change in lifestyle. The counselor explained that their current lifestyle was not real. They had been living in luxury on borrowed money.

It didn’t matter. They called the bank and demanded that they raise their debt ceiling. They said they had to borrow money to meet their obligations. They told their friends that the bank and credit companies were going to ruin them if they didn’t let them borrow more money. They pointed to their stellar credit rating and that they had never missed a payment ever.

A bank officer told them flatly that either they get their spending under control or the bank will do it for them by not extending them any more credit.

This is the situation that the Federal Government is in. They have accumulated so much debt that ever increasing amounts of the budget are going to cover the interest on the debt. There are fewer and fewer dollars for actually running the Government. There is not enough money coming in, and every year they are borrowing more money to pay the bills. Years ago Congress established a cap, a debt ceiling. They determined that when we reach that point we can no longer borrow or we will never be able to pay it back. We will fall into a never ending debt spiral. Well, now it has become a regular thing to annually raise the debt ceiling. We are not dealing with reality. Just like you cannot continue to borrow money to balance your personal budget, the Federal Government cannot continue to borrow money. Someone must tell them NO!. It will either be the Congress, backed by the American people, or, at some point the nation will become such a bad credit risk that no one will loan us money.

I say that the time is now to enforce the debt ceiling.

Medical Part Two

All Illness is the Result of Sin

Skimmer Version—Just the main points for those who won’t take the time to read the full article

  • All illness is the result of sin
  • Original sin which entered the world through Adam and resulted in a curse on all the earth, including the introduction of illness and disease into the environment.
  •  Personal sin leads to disease. Obvious sins which lead to disease would be STDs which are passed by not following Gods standards for sexual behavior. Other more subtle sins would include things like, gluttony, greed, worry (lack of faith), anger, bitterness, selfishness and others.
  •  Personal sin which affects and infects others. Personal sin not only affects the person sinning, it also impacts those around them and society in general. Disease doesn’t stay with one person. It spreads. “Good people” suffer because of the sins of others.
  •  Jesus not only healed people’s illnesses, He also dealt with their sin.
  • James teaches us to call for the Elders, confess our sin, and pray for healing.
  •  God formed a nation from the Children of Israel. He taught them how to live and promised them healthy lives if they followed His laws.
  • A Naturalistic World View tries to deal with illness apart from sin.
  • A Christian World View demands that we deal with sin as the root cause of illness.

The Full Article

All illness is the result of sin. That statement makes a lot of people bristle. The response is, ‘You mean to tell me that I am sick because I have sinned?’ Well yes and no. So let me explain.

The Bible teaches that in the Garden of Eden the Serpent deceived Eve and Eve ate the forbidden fruit then Adam willing ate the fruit along with her. That is known as original sin. In chapter 3 of Genesis God deal out His judgment for sin. For the woman it means that she will experience pain in child birth and her desire shall be for her husband and he shall rule over her. The curse for Adam was not directly on him but rather it was on all that God gave him to rule over making his ability to subdue the earth much more difficult. It says that the earth would bring forth thorns and thistles and that he would earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Most theologians see this as a general cures that puts the world into a system of decay which includes the advent of all diseases. So the first way that all illness is the result of sin is that original sin led to original disease.

Some will say, “That is not fair. Why should I suffer for some sin done by Adam?” Paul explains this in Romans. He says that we were all in Adam when Adam sinned. Quite literally all of mankind was present in Adam when Adam sinned.  So that when Adam sinned we all sinned.

There is a second way in which sin causes illness. That is personal sin. We know this well. The most obvious examples come from sexual immorality. There are more than 30 different venereal diseases. All of these are spread almost exclusively by personal sin. If people would follow God’s design of sex exclusively between a man and a woman in marriage then these diseases would virtually disappear. Of course extramarital sex is just one example. There are numerous other examples of more subtle sins which directly contribute to illnesses. One example would be gluttony, which we seem to view as a virtue rather than a sin. We even have food TV shows where people are rewarded for gluttony.

Back to the issue of sex; some people will say, “What about the woman that is faithful to her husband, but he has an affair and ends up bringing home a venereal disease”. That is a great point. In that situation the illness is not due to the wife’s sin; it is due to her husband’s sin. It is still due to personal sin. It is the husband’s personal sin. So often we forget that the problem with sin isn’t that guilty people are hurt by it. The real problem with sin is that everyone is hurt by it. A person’s infidelity destroys whole families. A person’s alcoholism or drug addiction doesn’t stop with them. It affects their family, friends, coworkers and those in society who pays for and cleans up the damage. Sin affects everyone. The illnesses that result from sin don’t just affect the sinners the illnesses spread into the environment and affect everyone.

Our current medical system doesn’t address the issue of sin at all. In fact now we go to extremes to not address sin. This became most apparent when AIDS started to make the news. At the time it was normal to have contact tracing for many sexually transmitted diseases. This was done to try to control the spread of the disease. People would reveal the persons with whom they had recently had sex. Those people would be contacted and informed that they had been exposed to a dangerous disease. They would be tested and discouraged from further spreading the disease. They would also reveal their sex partners and the further actions would be taken to curtail the spread. That is not how it happened with AIDS. Instead personal privacy (the right to hide one’s sin) took priority over public health. Contact tracing was abandoned. Even spouses would not be informed that they were in danger of being infected. Amazing!

The focus in the medical community is to cure the consequences of sin without addressing the sin itself. If all illness is the result of sin shouldn’t we be addressing the root cause? Instead we are doing everything we can to continue sinning.

It is important to address a common misinterpretation of sin. Some have the attitude that the problem with sin is that it produces negative consequences. With that viewpoint the goal becomes removing the negative effects of sin. If promiscuous sex leads to unwanted pregnancy and STDs then condoms and abortions are the solution. If sin leads to feelings of guilt, shame, rejection and worthlessness then maybe the answer is psychotherapy. Or the problem is society. We need to celebrate our sin and get society to accept us and our sin as valuable contributions to a diverse culture. Gluttony is dealt with by pills, surgery and insulin injections.

The Bible doesn’t see the consequences of sin as the problem. No! Sin is the problem. In a way the consequences of sin are a blessing. They are a protective mechanism put in place by God to make sin less appealing. It is the fear of the consequences of sin that helps us to avoid sin.

If we truly understand that all illness is the result of sin it should lead us to want to rid ourselves and our communities of sin. Illness is not something to be treated it is something to be prevented. The Books of the Law in the Bible (the first five books of the Bible) were written in the time between the Children of Israel coming out of Slavery in Egypt and before they entered the Promised Land. They were between two civilizations. During this time God formed a new nation with new Laws. He taught them everything they needed to know to be successful. He even purged a whole generation of people. This was a totally new beginning. In Deuteronomy 27 and 28 God gives the Children of Israel a pep talk. It is a list of blessings and cursing. It is done as “If—Then” statements. Part of it goes something like this. If you will obey My Laws and Statutes then you will experience none of the diseases that you experienced in Egypt. IF you disobey Me then I will visit upon you all of the same illnesses of Egypt.

There is another aspect to this. The Children of Israel were not only leaving Egypt behind they were also entering The Promised Land. This land was populated by an extremely wicked people, the Canaanites. This was not just one group of people it was actually ten nations. God had given them plenty of time to repent and reform, He actually gave them an extra forty years, but they didn’t change. They only got worse. By the time the Israelites came to the edge of the Promised Land God had determined that the Canaanites would need to be totally exterminated. They were not to be driven out. No. They were to be killed; all of them, men, women, elderly and children; not only the people, but the animals too. And everything was to be burned. Why so much destruction? Why complete annihilation? Could it be that their sin was so great that everything was affected and infected? Could it be that the only way to rid the land of sin and illness was to wipe it totally clean? I think so. God was setting the stage for a people to live righteous lives and to be free of disease.

There is a popular verse that is often used to call the nation to repentance. Most of you have heard it but you probably never noticed what it says about healing. It is found in 2 Chronicles. It is God’s response to Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple.

2 Chronicles 7:14
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

God’s pattern is prayer, repentance, reform, forgiveness and healing.

All illness is the result of sin. We will never have good health or a good health care system until we are willing to address the problem of sin.

Medical Part One

God is the source of Life, Health and Healing

Skimmer Version–Just the main points for those of you who won’t take the time to read the whole article.

• God is the source of Life, Health and Healing. A simple word study of scripture using Biblegateway.com will show this to be true
• We have adopted a naturalistic world view that sees illness and health in terms of physiology and germs.
• Doctors not God have become the go to solution for health problems
• We must adopt a Christian World View that puts God back in the center.
• Future articles on this subject will give a deeper understanding.

The Full Article

I have been sick for the last couple of weeks. It has been a strange illness consisting of a slight fever and extreme fatigue along with a half dozen of other random symptoms. Last week at church people came up to me and asked two questions in this order. “How are you feeling?” To which I respond, “I am doing better, but I am still extremely tired.” Their next question was always, “Have you been to the doctor?”
I find it funny that as Christians we think that doctors heal us. It is clear from scripture that God gives life health and healing. In the Old Testament persons went to the Temple for various medical examinations. In Deuteronomy the Children of Israel are promised that if they follow God’s Law they will not experience any of the diseases that they had in Egypt. In the Gospels people flocked to Jesus to be healed. Later in the Book of Acts sick people lined the streets in hopes that Peter’s shadow would fall on them and they would be healed.
I understand that these were miraculous healings and were given as evidence that Jesus and the Apostles were messengers of God. These types of healings are the exception and should not necessarily be seen as God’s normal way of dealing with us. But still the basic understanding is that God heals. In James the instruction is that if you are ill call for the elders, confess your sins and they will pray for you and you will be healed.
Of course there were doctors in the Bible and there are many subtle references to medicines, oils, balms and other healing agents, but those are all secondary to God.

What has happened to us? It seems that after the advent of germ theory that we have increasingly viewed illness in purely biological terms. That is not the Biblical view. In the Bible illness or health is primarily a spiritual condition with physical manifestations. In a Christian World View  Germs are not the cause of disease, rather germs are part of a complex set of physical mechanism  which affect health. If we were only physical beings then the physiological chemistry would be the whole story. But we are not just physical beings. We are much more. We are body and spirit, or body, soul and spirit. The physical is only one part.

What has happened is that we have taken on a naturalistic world view. We view medicine in terms of body chemistry and we go to doctors to give us a chemical solution. Doctors have replaced God. We don’t expect God to heal. We have no faith that God can or will heal us. I am as guilty as anyone. I make a superficial prayer that God will heal me. I have faith that God can heal me, but I have no expectation that He actually will. I fully expect my illness to run its natural course as if I live in a naturalistic world, without God’s intervention. Isn’t that the way we approach illness. We take a purely naturalistic view point. Illness is the effect of germs or chemical imbalances. If we take the right types of medications they will kill the germs and we will return to normal health. Or we need some other medications to bring our bodies back into normal balance. We place all of our faith in doctors and medicine.
We have turned everything on its head. The process goes like this. We get some small symptoms of an illness. At first we may see if it gets worse, but more often we run to the drug store to try to get an over the counter medication to head off the illness. Maybe if I take some Echinacea, Airborne or some other remedy. If that doesn’t work then we go to the doctor. He/she will prescribe some drugs and usually in a week or two we are back to normal. If it is a more serious illness we go through extensive treatments. If the treatments fail and the doctors are running out of options, then we call for the Church Elders.
When all else fails—PRAY.
Isn’t that the opposite of what we should do? We should begin with prayer. We should have some expectation of healing, supernatural or natural. We should examine ourselves to see it there is some sin in our lives. We should examine our spiritual state to see if there is something out of balance there that is affecting us physically. These are the things that need to be dealt with first in the same way that Jesus said to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you.” Before He said to him, “Rise up and walk.” Of course sometimes it is as simple as the environment and germs. God designed our bodies to heal themselves. Often we just need to let our bodies do what they were designed to do.
I am not suggesting that we stop going to doctors. I am suggesting that we get our perspective straight. No doctor has ever healed anyone, only God heals. We need to turn to God first. We need to acknowledge Him as the giver of life, health and healing. We need to place our faith in Him. We need to acknowledge doctors for what they are, agents of God, who occasionally assist in God’s healing process. I wonder how your doctor would respond if you told him that. We need to stop attributing god like qualities to doctors and medicines. Doctors do not preform wonders. There are no miracle drugs. Miracles are the realm of God and no one else.
What do you think? If Americans really had faith in God would we stop being so worried about our health? If we saw God as the key to our healing would we be so worried about our healthcare system? I think our obsession with health care is a clear indication that we have turned away from God and have placed our faith elsewhere.

Marriage as a Sacred Union

We have all been to weddings enough to know the standard introduction. It generally goes like this.
Dearly beloved we are gathered together before God and these witnesses to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony.
You have heard it many times but its my guess that you have never given much thought to what it means. What does it mean to be joined together in Holy Matrimony? Well let’s take a look at it. We will look at the word matrimony first. It is easy matrimony means marriage, a joining together. But marriage isn’t just any union. It is a “holy” union. So what does holy mean. It mean sacred, or separated for a special purpose. Generally it means separated to God for a special purpose.
So what makes marriage special or holy?
The following list is qualities of a marriage the way that God intended it. As you read through the list you will likely think of marriages that don’t meet these standards. Most likely you will realize that those marriages are typically in serious trouble or the husband and wife have developed a way of tolerating one another but not truly uniting.
MARRIAGE IS AN EXCEPTIONAL RELATIONSHIP
Marriage is not like other relationships, it is special. We hold our marriages above other relationships. We hold marriage in higher esteem. If it is a choice between either our marriage relationship, or other earthly relationships there is no contest the marriage relationship always wins out.
MARRIAGE IS AN EXCLUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
This understanding is usually viewed in terms of sex. We expect or at least hope that people will be sexually intimate with their spouse and their spouse alone. We even talk of this in terms of faithfulness. That is being faithful to your marriage vows. Exclusivity in marriage includes things beyond sex. We expect marriage to include other intimate aspects beyond sex. This includes other physical behavior, sharing secrets and personal revelations, and shared experiences. There is a level of friendship in marriage that is unique and should not be shared outside of marriage. A husband or wife will become jealous if their spouse becomes too intimate in a friendship with someone else; and rightfully so.
MARRIAGE IS ORDAINED BY GOD
Most of us are familiar with the Biblical account of Adam and Eve found in Genesis chapter 2. God creates Adam and later says that “It is not good that man should be alone…” so He creates Eve. Scripture says that the two became one flesh. Often we see this as referring to the sexual union, and it does, but there is something deeper. The woman was taken out of man. A man and woman were created as one. Unity is their natural state. They were always designed to function as one.
Jesus alludes to Adam and Eve when He talks about God’s intent in marriage. He says, that the man and woman became one flesh. Then He adds “What God has joint together let no man put asunder.” This phrase is often included in the marriage ceremony. The point is that a marriage is not simply a union of a man and woman. Marriage is a holy union, ordained by God.
There are two sides to this. One is that marriage is not to be entered into lightly. It should reflect a relationship that is honoring to God. In the Old Testament people were required to bring a sacrifice to the Temple, but they could not bring just any lamb as a sacrifice. They were required to bring a lamb that was healthy, and without defects. The sacrifice was holy to the Lord. In the same way a marriage union has some requirements that make it holy. The basic requirement is to not ‘be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever’. This is both an Old Testament and a New Testament concept. The Jews were not allowed to marry persons from the surrounding unbelieving nations. A marriage is a union that is dedicated to the Lord and as such it is to be structured in a way that is honoring to Him.
The second aspect of a marriage ordained by God is that once the marriage union is created it is considered a relationship created by God. In the same way that a person could not dedicate a sacrifice to the Lord and then take it back; a marriage union is one direction. It is a union holy to God and must not be taken back. This is one of the reasons that often in the marriage ceremony you hear, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:6). Because God is the one that ordained marriage, the marriage union is an act of God. For man to break that union is to act against God; or worst yet it is to usurp God’s authority.
We understand that God is holy. Part of the holiness of God is that certain things are under His authority alone. One of those is life. God gives life and God takes life. For us to take life is to step beyond our realm of authority (except for some specific cases where God delegates that authority). Another area is vengeance; God says, “Vengeance is Mine says the Lord”. For us to take vengeance is to step beyond our realm of authority. The same is true of marriage. Marriage is the realm of God. Marriage is holy and there should be the understanding that to enter into marriage is to enter into the realm of God. Marriage is not ours it is God’s and He allows us to participate in His holy union.
MARRIAGE IS AN EARTHLY LIVING OUT OF A HEAVENLY REALITY
The temple of the Old Testament was the most Holy place on earth and yet scripture says that it was just a reflection of the true Temple which is in heaven. See Hebrews 8:1-6. The same is true of marriage. Marriage is holy because it is a reflection of a heavenly relationship. Often in scripture God talks about His relationship with Israel in terms of marriage. He speaks of Israel’s unfaithfulness and His unfailing love. In the New Testament Marriage is an illustration of the relationship between Christ and the Church. This is not just a convenient illustration, like Paul saying to himself, “what could I use here as a good analogy”. No. It is so much more than that. Marriage was designed by God from the beginning to be a living illustration of His relationship to us. He has His hands all over it.
Ephesians 5, and other scriptures, gives a pattern for marriage based on Christ’s relationship to the Church. Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her. The husband is to love his wife with the same type of self-sacrificial love. The Church is the body of Christ. The husband is to care for his wife in the same way he would care for his own body; nourishing it and cherishing it. The Church is the body of Christ In the world; doing His will and accomplishing His purposes. In the same way the wife is the help meet to her husband seeking to accomplish his will.
There are so many things that are just beautiful about this. We are given the privilege of living out a spiritual reality in our daily lives. We are given a pattern ordained by God for a successful marriage. We live at a crossing point between the physical and the spiritual. We get to experience a physical, earthly relationship that gives us deep insights into a parallel relationship that we have with Christ. It doesn’t stop there. The family that comes out of marriage is also a, holy, living illustration of heavenly relationships.
To live out marriage in a way that properly reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church is a holy experience. To live out marriage in a way that is contrary to God’s holy design is to distort the image of God. It is a form of blasphemy.
The goal of Satan is to discredit God in any way he can. Satan wants to tear down and distort the image of God. He wants to attack anything that is holy. I believe that Satan is working overtime to completely destroy marriage at every level.
Marriage is a Holy union before God. It is time for us to recognize that marriage is holy and to treat it as holy. We must stand against those who would seek to defile and degrade marriage and make it anything less than a Sacred Union.