Dealing with Change

How faith holds up when your world's falling apart

How do you handle change?

Or, put another way, what do you do when everything is changing in your life?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about change. Seems like every week over the past couple of months, I’ve encountered a patient or family who are suddenly faced with a life-threatening illness or situation, and BOOM!, their whole world is different. 

Sudden, major changes in life can be seriously difficult to manage. And sometimes they can wreck our faith. This post will help you learn to process change and keep your faith intact.

Finding Hope in Unexpected Places

How to See Things Differently

Lisa and I went for a drive the other day. I wasn’t on call, and the morning was sunny, clear, and brimming with hope. We needed to get out of the house, so we loaded our son’s dog Dude into the truck and hit the road.

We drove up Casper Mountain Road, through Beartrap Meadow and over the backside of the mountain. We came to a junction of two roads we’d driven before: we could go straight and up to Muddy Mountain, or turn right and wind through gorgeous countryside and back to Casper the long way around.

The third option was a little two-track road to our left. We had no idea where it went, but we both felt adventurous and we had time, so we turned left.

On the GPS, it looked like this road would eventually lead us back to civilization on the east side of Casper. Twelve miles of muddy, sometimes scary, low-4×4 terrain later, we still weren’t sure. But we came around a bend after going through a beautiful mountainous pass and were stopped in our tracks at the view.

Interview on Faith Radio’s ‘Connecting Faith’ Show

FaithRadio.com

 

 

I was interviewed on Faith Radio to discuss faith and science. 

You can read the article below, or click on this link to hear the podcast. Jo Bender and I had a great discussion about medicine, faith, science, doubt, and how the Word of God can help us in times of uncertainty. 

Doctors recommend a routine physical exam to detect and prevent serious health problems. We can do the same for our spiritual health. 

Brain surgeon Dr. Lee Warren uses the example of a stroke to help us to understand the similarities between spiritual health and neuroscience.

“I see an example in my practice after people have had certain kinds of brain hemorrhages, where they slowly develop something called vasospasm. Vasospasm is where the arteries and the little capillaries in your brain can start to narrow themselves and become sort of spastic and over time; the brain begins to lose blood flow and oxygen supply.”

“These people don’t have big dramatic strokes, they just lose little bits of function over time; sometimes they have dramatic strokes, but at first it’s real subtle.”

Dr. Warren says that similar to a stroke that occurs inside of the brain, a spiritual stroke can happen in our spiritual lives.

“Maybe we get busy and we stop praying for a while; we don’t spend as much time in the word, maybe we just haven’t had time to go to church, or connect with small groups. Over time, we begin to find situations that normally we would handle with our faith intact, begin to be a lot bigger of a deal for us.”

“We begin to not be able to recall that verse that we used to call on when we had trouble, and it just feels like our spiritual lives are in spasm.”

Is your spiritual health declining towards a possible stroke? The Word of God can intervene and help to improve the condition of your life.

“There’s a verse in Proverbs 7 that says, ‘if you’re wise, you’ll let the word of God be the lens through which you see your life,’ and if you don’t have the word in you, then you can’t see the world with that corrective lens in place.”

Dr. Warren describes how he is able to keep himself spiritually strong while dealing with stressful situations in life.

“For me, the set of things that I tend to worry about I can only handle if I arm myself for that worry by preparing the first part of every day with time in the word and time in prayer.”

To avoid spiritual strokes that will starve us of the oxygen that comes from God and His word, we need to have spiritual checkups on a regular basis.


Dr. Lee Warren is a board-certified neurosurgeon and a retired major of the United States Air Force. He was only the second U.S. Air Force neurosurgeon to be deployed to a wartime hospital since the Vietnam War, performing combat brain and spinal surgery during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He practices at Advantage Orthopedics and Neurosurgery, providing comprehensive care of the brain and spine. He is the author of A Peek Under the Hood: A Brain Surgeon Looks at Life.

How to Win the Battle of Tomorrow

Want to Win Tomorrow? Cut off Easy Escapes to the Past

The past is seductive, my friend.

Regardless of whether our past is full of victories or stocked with defeat, our inclination is to look back on it. To be defined by it, believe its stories about our future. But if you want to win tomorrow, you have to stop retreating to the past.

Gosnell (Regnery Publishing , 2017)

This is among the most disturbing books I’ve ever read

Kermit Gosnell was convicted in 2013 on three counts of homicide- three babies he tried to abort but who were born alive in his clinic in Philadelphia. Gosnell cut the babies’ spinal cords with scissors and kept their feet in jars for mementos. Although he was only convicted of three murders, police found over forty dead babies in storage containers- some of them cardboard boxes, old soda bottles, etc.- and had witness reports of possibly thousands more murdered babies Gosnell killed in his clinic over his 40-plus-year career. 

The story is shocking, tragic, and unbelievable. But there’s another story here as well: despite Gosnell’s horrific crimes, his trial was given almost no major media coverage until online bloggers and a few conservative writers basically shamed the major media into doing their jobs. 

That’s not an editorial comment, but rather something I learned from passages like this in the book:

Marc Lamont Hill, host of HuffPost Live, readily acknowledged the bias at work. “For what it’s worth, I do think that those of us on the left have made a decision not to cover this trial because we worry that it’ll compromise abortion rights,” he said. “Whether you agree with abortion or not, I do think there’s a direct connection between the media’s failure to cover this and our own political commitments on the left. I think it’s a bad idea, I think it’s dangerous, but I think that’s the way it is.” — from Gosnell

There is a major motion picture coming soon, but the writers are having trouble finding distribution channels for it, another example of the mainstream media’s determination to set the agenda for what we’re allowed to know and discuss. Click here to read more about the Gosnell movie. 

Another documentary, 3801 Lancaster: An American Tragedy, details the story very effectively. You can watch it for free below.

 

Gosnell is a difficult book to read, but it is important to read since it really shines a light on a very controversial subject and helps you see that it is not, as many claim, simply a ‘choice.’ No matter which side of this issue you take, Gosnell will challenge, educate, and shock you. Click on the book cover below to get the book.

Incredible Story About Faith in Action

Breitbart News
24 January 2017

This is an article about the Free Burma Rangers, a group of Christians who are doing relief work in Mosul, Iraq and under daily attack by ISIS. No matter how hard your day is today, you’re unlikely to have to do anything that gets you shot at. Please pray for these amazing people. Powerful article. 

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World (Thomas Nelson, 2012)

Love is not just a noun; it’s also a verb. Love does stuff. 

 

Bob Goff’s book puts hands and feet on a life of really loving and pursuing what’s important in relationships: with God, our families, and other people. Love Does will produce laughs, tears, and moments of the deep tug in your heart you feel when you know you’re being called to something higher in your life.  Love isn’t a feeling; it always does something. 

I was surprised at some of Goff’s spiritual insights. He sees angles in the Bible I’ve missed before about how Jesus loves people in practical ways. If you want to take a fresh look at how important it is to love people with more than just words, how to raise your kids with a sense of excitement about the adventures life holds, and what’s really important in relationships, I recommend this book highly. 

Chapter 11 is a devotional and life-lesson on God’s desire to have community with all of us, and it had the biggest impact on me. 

“When we accept life’s invitation, it’s contagious too. Other people will watch us and start seeing life as something more amazing, more whimsical than before. When you show up to the big life, people (the type who don’t think they’re invited) start seeing invitations everywhere as thick as colorful fall leaves. They don’t think about their pain or their weakness any longer. Instead, they think about how incredible a big life really is and how powerful the one who is throwing the banquet is too.”

Love Does will challenge you to want more from your life and your relationships, especially with God. 

I think the most powerful line is this one:

I’ve realized that I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”         

 

 

 

Bob Goff is the founder of Love Does, a nonprofit organization that operates schools and pursues justice for children in conflict areas such as Uganda, Somalia, Iraq, and other countries. Bob is a lawyer and serves as the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Uganda to the United States. He is adjunct professor at Pepperdine Law School and Point Loma Nazarene University and lives in San Diego with his wife Maria, their kids, and extended family.

If you want to get smarter in 2017, you need to read more. Join Lisa and me in the 2017 Book-a-Week Challenge!

Pick Better Memories: The key to a happy future.

If you want a better future, reshape how you think about the past.

If you want a happy future, you have to learn to pick better memories.

In recent weeks I heard different people I care about say all of the following things:

“Why does everything always have to be so hard?”
“I remember that trip. We fought all the way.”
“She feels like her life will never be good again.”

It’s tough out there, in life. We’re all in it together, but sometimes it seems like we’re being singled out to go through some particularly hard things, or a sequential string of very difficult days (or months, or years).

Eventually, after having experienced enough of these difficult events, we can resign ourselves to that being how it “always” is, or “always” will be.

That’s when we bring out the “never” or “can’t” or “always” labels and start sticking them all over our lives, our capabilities, our relationships, our health, or our happiness. I’m personally guilty of this at times, so I’m not singling you out, but I have to tell you that this behavior is very damaging to your neurochemistry, your psyche, and your future happiness.

What you allow yourself to think about is directly tied to how you feel. It’s not the other way around, although you can let it feel that way.