Friday, October 21, 2016

what do you call the person who graduates last in their medical class?

I haven’t heard from Biker Jim in awhile, which means he is probably doing OK.  We both grew up in Jersey, about 12 miles apart, and the Jersey Factor has carried over into our walk with the Lord.  Jim is a good friend, and we don’t have to talk often, we have a trust and friendship that goes beyond Facebook postings or constant emails.  But when he does call, it is because he is having a hard time, and has been very sick over the years.  Some of his maladies I cannot spell or even pronounce, but let’s say for the last 5-6 years I can remember he has been on a list for a replacement liver.  That kind of sick.  So many of our visits were in the hospital, me visiting for a change.  And we have shared many things that only a Jersey person would understand, let me just leave it at that.  But keep him in prayer, from what I hear he is still waiting, he moved to Tennessee because the wait is shorter, but he keeps getting better, his scores, dropping down on the list, then getting worse and moving up in the standings.  So I see him from bad to worse, his physical condition may change, but his friendship and love of Jesus don’t.  He may not know it, or even admit it, but he is an encouragement to me, which goes way beyond our common Jersey Factor.
Jim spent one Christmas Day with us, and translated the Italian parts for us on The Godfather.  He has helped out and ministered with me with his motorcycle and Harvest events, this big man lifting little kids onto his Harley.  But the one event if you can call it that, my favorite, is one evening in the hospital, waiting for his liver doctor to arrive.  We joked, “what do you call a person who graduates last in their medical class?”  Answer-a doctor, and that night his new doctor made his first call, entering when we were laughing.  He was from Madison, Wisconsin, which he explained is one of the major liver transplant areas in the US of A.  But we were laughing when he walked in unannounced, and when we stopped, he wondered why.  So we told him, and he got a laugh out of it too, and then I asked him, “where were you in your graduating class?”  And he got serious, at east for a moment.  “We had no class rankings, it was pass or fail.”  And so I asked “and....your answer is...” and he started laughing again, “don’t worry, I passed,” and we all hit it off.  A lot can be said for bedside manner....
When I mentioned the other night at Bible study about the second book of Luke, Cookie Monster hung around after and wanted to know which book I referred to.  I explained that Acts was written by Luke, and he is also mentioned a few times in Paul’s writings.  And we find Luke to be an interesting man, with a bedside manner reflected in his writings.  It was not uncommon for a doctor to be a slave in those times, with little or no training, yet we find Luke very well informed and skilled. Not a slave.  And a unique man among the Jews, he was a Gentile, who they hated.  We find in his writings details that only a trained scientific man would know, and those details give us insight not only to Jesus and the apostles, but to the man who witnessed them and wrote about them.  His is the only gospel that tells of the prodigal son, and the good Samaritan, found only among the 20 or so parables he writes about.  We can tell from Paul’s writings that he may have accompanied Paul as a doctor, maybe even attending to Paul’s physical thorn in the flesh, among Paul’s other ailments.  See even Paul went to the doctor.  And spent time in prison with him, God placing the right man in the right place when needed.  His is the only gospel telling of Jesus circumcision on the eighth day, medical background showing again, and it is believed he believed early on in the God of Jacob and Abraham, just never got circumcised into the Jewish religion. His medical background of being a non-Jew, a professional, and a doctor gave him insight, and credentials that enhanced his writings, and led by the spirit, wrote two books of the Bible.  Which we see demonstrated in his first book, Luke, that he had perfect understanding of all things from the first, although he wasn’t present like John Mark or John.  Inspired by the holy spirit, he went on in Acts, after being told not to preach the gospel any further or risk death, shows how he is also a creationist, believing that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,”  that later the spirit gave shape and life too.  Which may have been translated as he got all things from above, again referring to the Holy Spirit.  And when imprisoned prayed “thou art God who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that is in them,”  and later “that with all boldness they may speak the word.”  I wonder if when he was growing up that his parents bragged “one day my son will be a doctor,” never knowing that he would become a doctor, scientist, historian, brilliant and inspired writer, Christian apologist, and Biblical creationist.  I wonder when he read about how he can do all things in Christ that strengthen him he already knew that? 
And so we call the person who graduates last in their medical class doctor, and we never know what to expect when we ask about their credentials.  We never knew where or when Luke graduated, or where he was in class rankings, but in God’s eyes he was a major player, but humble in knowing it was all about Jesus.  Can we say the same thing, or has our talent given by God become a source of bragging?  Titles may be important, but the man behind them, and the spirit that drives us is more important.  Years ago a man bragged to me “I’m a doctor,” and my answer was “really, I have one of those,”  but do we all have Jesus?  Luke the physician knew all about medicine for his time, but when confronted with the great physician, was humbled and inspired, knowing he could maybe heal, but only Jesus could save.  And even the best doctor cannot resurrect the dead.  Something to think about the next time you read Acts or the book that bears his name.  The only gentile to write a book of the Bible, maybe we don’t have this God thing figured out.
Sometimes the best medical advice is simple, as Gerald my doctor friend once showed me, when I told him my arm hurt in a certain position, he told me “then don’t do that.”  For good medical advice is like the gospel, simple so I can get it, and free so I can afford it.  If only Obamacare were so simple....and with Jesus you can keep your own doctor!
love with compassion,

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Gus Wilson-proprietor

He was the owner of the Model Garage, in an unnamed small town north of New York City.  He was known as the go to guy for problems with your car, but also served as Santa Claus, an advisor to both doctors and politicians, and for over 40 years, we got to know him via his problem solving in Popular Science.  He had grown up with the first cars, and retired some 70 years later, but from 1926-1970, he showed us how to solve problems, diagnose concerns, and fix the problem, not the symptom.  His name was Gus Wilson, proprietor, and every month thousands turned to him for entertainment and enlightenment.  From the time he opened his shop in the morning, to locking up late at night, he kept the small town’s autos running, the truckers on the road, families on vacation, and last minute emergencies from turning into catastrophes. 
His first cup of coffee often was found later by lunch half empty and cold, a cruller with two bites out of it, duty called.  A half eaten burger, cold fries, and more cold coffee often were remnants of his lunch, his only breaks came when contemplating and diagnosing while he lit and relit his pipe.  Rain never slowed him down, he owned the snowplow, and in hot weather would stand in front of his big fan.  Through him we met many of the townspeople, Stan his helper and pump jockey, business man Harcourt who stood over him intently watching, Trooper Corcoran always there in an emergency, Dr. Evants and his car Gabriella, Regan and Bert who were always questioning Gus, Crawford and Silas Barnstable looking under the hood wondering when will Gus arrive, and Senator Bombey, and many others, who by their name and disposition we came to know.  Gus taught us about carbon monoxide poisoning, safety first in garages, getting shocked if not careful, and the importance of having patience.  His whole life he lived in a small house behind the shop, his shop open 7-5, but he was always available.  He took us to auto shows, introduced us to hot rods, showed us how new fangled diagnostic equipment worked, and how it always came down to fuel and spark. 
As the world of autos changed, so did Gus over the years.  And finally in 1970, his ways were deemed old fashioned, and he was retired, but his stories live on, giving hope to the man in a hurry, the family on a trip, and the young girl who needed help, but didn’t know who to turn to.  Times were changing, even on TV, as some of the most popular shows, still with high ratings such as Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, and Hee Haw were cancelled, America was moving away from the country, and away from family values.  We laughed at That Girl, and Mary Tyler Moore, but who would they take their car too since Gus was gone?  Where did Archie Bunker take Munson’s cab when it overheated?  Gus had always been there for them, what were they going to do now? 
Today AAA tells us the most important safety tool we can take with us is our cell phone.  But it cannot diagnose, or rescue you, but it can keep you on hold after pressing 1 for English.  It cannot comfort you like a human voice can, or listen to you and ask questions.  It has taken the human element out of humanity, and reduced us to speeding up a process while increasing the waiting time.  Gus knew how to deal with emergencies, what to do and prioritize his work, he was available and always there when needed.  But both time and progress passed him by, who needed an old mechanic when you could have a certified technician?  Who needed experience when you got an education?  How many stop when they see a motorist in need?  In the rain?  When your car needs fixing, do you consult the internet, then right click to fix it?  Do you even have a mechanic or even a service advisor, or do you just get the next available person when needed, who listens, but without that personal touch Gus gave it?  What about your relationship with you even know his name?  Do you wonder if he knows yours?
Many address God as Lord Jesus Christ when praying.  But that isn’t his name, but his name and title, and position.  It would be like calling me Mr. Mike Mohn Biker every time we talked, very impersonal.  So let’s make it personal, his title is Lord, for he is Lord of all creation, his name is Jesus, and he is the Christ, the prophetic messiah.  But his friends just call him Jesus, for he is that personal.  And we can talk to him at any time, for he always has time for us, and knows our name, situations, and how to handle them.  He listens, then answers, much like Gus did, and his diagnosis deals with the solution, not just covering up the symptoms.  Last night a man approached me after Bible study for prayer.  He wanted to get closer to God, and wanted me to pray with him.  He had waited all week for me to pray with and for him, and was surprised he could talk with Jesus at any time.  His church told him he needed two or more to be gathered, and didn’t know the holy spirit was with him always, so he always had the two needed, and so he had waited for me.  And was excited to go pray that night, just him and Jesus.  He had also fallen behind in his Bible verse memorization, and was feeling bad, his church wasn’t helping any.  I reminded him that Jesus writes his word on our hearts, and the holy spirit gives him the words when he needs them.  He was so wrapped up in studying to find himself approved by man, they had gotten between him and Jesus.  He had followed the teachings of the Bible but without the spirit giving it life.  He knew about Jesus, now he was getting to know Jesus.  Just like Gus’s customer got to know him, when they came to him with a problem.  They expected him to fix it, and Jesus always does for us.  Is that the personal Jesus you know, or is he still The Lord Jesus Christ only?  People knew to ask for Gus, Mr. Wilson would have confused them.  What do you call Jesus?
He is all the above and even more, wonderful, counselor, mighty God, king of kings, and Lord of Lords.  But his friends call him Jesus, for by no other name, not title, can you be saved.  Jesus tells us trials are common to all, we are all the same, born into sin and need a savior.  His name is Jesus, call on him today and be saved.  Get to know him personally, and find he is always with you.  And as you get to know him, become like him, showing his love, compassion, and forgiveness to others.  Gus couldn’t be everywhere at once, although he was very good, he was only human.  Jesus although man was God also and can be there, just for you.  Right now even.  Get to know him, introduce him to others, and as he writes his word of love on your heart, the right words at the right time will come forth.  Gus Wilson we hardly knew you, don’t say the same about Jesus.
love with compassion,

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

the ultimate driving machine is not a BMW

My Dad, he not the car person, bought his first BMW, a 1969 1600, the smaller engined 2002 after reading it was one of the ten best cars in the world.  He wasn’t looking for performance, but longevity, and it was a big step up from his 1963 Bug.  Back when BMW was an unknown, “British what?” was often the question asked when he told others what he bought, and BMW owners would respectfully flash their lights at each other.  A far cry from the yuppie standard of today, they were thought peculiar, but offered great performance, at a semi-reasonable price, you could buy a Camaro for the same money, and all my friends knew what they were.  But in 1972 after getting my license, he sold it to me for the trade in value against his knew 2002, all of $1900!  And I can say my first car was a 1969 Turf/green BMW.  No yuppie then and not one now, it was about performance, and R&T, CD, and MT became the guides for parts, accessories, jackets, and anything else that said BMW on it.  The sports car guys knew what I had, and that was enough, even if the rank and file didn’t.  And one quick ride through the curves, the sound of the engine, and German engineering made them believers.  Yes we were thought of as strange, normal can be so boring, my first and last BMW...
Now BMW dealerships were few and far between, so we frequented Foreign Car Repair Shops, with owners named Bruno, Hans, Dieter, and Wolf.  Men who loved cars,and had us as a captive audience.  Although Markham Motors had sold my Dad both his cars new, he was too far away in Bernardsville, his shop an old livery stable, so we visited Continental Motors, or the new, first BMW only dealership we ever heard of, JMK Motors.  New and bright, but plain as were the cars, all conversation was interpreted by one of the owners, whose English was not much better than my German.  But trust, exclusive dealership, and location made it the go to place.  The world of BMW was changing, Max Hoffman who originally imported them and put them on the map had given way to BMW of North America, a factory importer, and the customer base was changing.  As you will see.....
I was sitting in the waiting room getting an oil change, and looking at the pictures in the German magazines, all in German of course.  A young girl and her mother were across from me, and the girl had been crying loudly when I entered.  She quickly composed herself, probably embarrassed, and in a few minutes started up again.  The loud sobs, the tears, the temper tantrum about to explode, I wanted out, but my car wasn’t ready.  I tried to look away, but her mother made eye contact with me, and told me “I don’t know what to do, we bought her this car for her birthday and she doesn’t want it.”  Didn’t want it, how many jobs and paper routes did I have just to earn the money to buy one, and she had one given to her, and she didn’t like it?  And then the daughter cried out “Mother I told you I wanted the blue one, why didn’t you listen?  I hate the red one!”  Hey lady, trade you a respectful son for your piece of trash daughter, if you throw in the car.  Red will do just fine.  And my first taste of what BMW would become, a far cry from the driver’s car it was to the yuppie overpriced semi-status symbol of today.  My BMW is long gone, but I can still see that wretched daughter throwing a fit, pity the fool that marries her.  Wanna bet she has a purse dog?  Or should be one?
Perhaps the saddest statement here is she didn’t appreciate what she was given.  She only knew what she thought she wanted, and would be miserable either way.  A lesson I have seen others live through.  Whether it be cars, motorcycles, I know guys who trade every year for a few more horsepower, their low mileage trade in a great bargain for the next person, and still don’t enjoy it, looking for what is coming next year.  Unsatisfied, more concerned by what their peers think, they are miserable, and never can get enough, or at least what they think they want.  They never look behind them, and see the trail of debris they leave, including the values they leave their kids. 
When I first entered ministry, I sought advice from those in it, and found two competing views.  One the church based, or religion based told me to establish a base, i.e. income from donations before I start.  It only makes sense.  But the one I chose to follow was from men who followed God, and were led by his spirit, “don’t give your vision to the church, they will try to control you and take it away.”  And truer words were never spoken.  So I prayed, and God promised me manna for my garage, my refrigerator, and my mortgage.  No budget for ministry, no special offering, he would provide, and I wouldn’t have to ask, for he gives good gifts, and if I asked it wouldn’t be a gift.  Try that one on organized religion....
But he reminded me of Paul, who rarely ever took donations, stayed up late making tents so he could support himself and not be a burden to others. Nor dependent on them, for whoever feeds you also has power over you, and he had all the power from God he would ever need.  And would do this his heart led him to do, and set an example for me. 
I have come to trust God because he is trustworthy, dependable, knows my needs, and takes care of me in love.  I have never asked for anything for the ministry, and yet he meets all our needs, surprising us all along the way.  Last night I was reminded of how he stretches our small incomes for his glory, as when the Dustin Arms pantry was bare, I had some money I had saved for awhile for just such an occasion.  And that was the occasion, and when I gave it I said “watch Jesus multiply it,”  I had seen it before.  Last night, a month later, I was shown an accounting of how the money was spent, and how God had multiplied it many times over.  It seems that trusting God was the best investment, and after many trips to the market, $20 still remained, enough to buy a man sheets and a pillow.  A big deal if you haven’t any, and we both marveled at what the Lord had done.  He truly is Jehovah Jireh, our provider.  A lesson from Paul, I hadn’t realized I had been taught, sometimes the day to day life and finances overwhelm me, but they don’t Jesus.  If he could pull a coin from the mouth of a fish, if he could feed 5000 with no money, if he could meet all my needs according to his riches and glory, why would he not do it for me?  Or you?
And so the doxology tells us to “praise God from whom all blessings flow,”  and I do.  Manna from heaven, when we need it.  Manna which means what is it?  I can tell you it is a who, and love from a father who loves his children.  Who takes joy in blessing them, and who desires they minister as they go, being a living gospel about his son.  Is his love included in your budget?  Many cars have come and gone in my life.  I even spent a good part of my career in automotive service, and the lesson learned that day from that spoiled brat has stuck with me.  That day I didn’t know it, but I learned appreciation for what I have, and also for what I don’t have.  Her greed and selfishness was her ultimate driving machine, driving her away from God, and never letting her enjoy the blessings.  I rather boast of Jesus as my ultimate driving machine, whose spirit drives me to see things, do things, and share things impossible without him.  His spirit drives me to love, forgive, to share, minister, and not beg for money.  He takes care of it all.  And I have an appreciation of what he gave up so I can live.  No car can do that, no matter what color.  Paul knew it wasn’t about money, but meeting needs, the basis of ministry, seeing a need and meeting it.  He would rather do without than become a burden, that is love.  That is Jesus in action.  That is putting feet to your faith, that is trusting God.  That is the parable of the two BMW’s, and why BMW is not the ultimate driving machine, and why Jesus is. 
Like scripture says, “praise God from whom all blessings flow...”  The gospel of Jesus Christ, simple so I can get it, free so I can afford it.    If only my Dad knew what he started that day....
love with compassion,