Tag Archives: heart

When There’s Been a Heart Change

Above is the view from my hospital bed at Coliseum Medical Center in Macon, Georgia. It’s not a view that compares with those my friend David Welford posts on instagram, but at least it’s a view – there were no windows in the ICU.

However, this morning my wife and I will be driving the 4-or-so hours back to Chattanooga, enjoying the view through the windshield. FREEDOM!

A  New Era

Last Friday I entered a new era in my life, one that will require lots more medication, a radical change in diet, and a physical therapy program that will probably turn into a regular workout program. I went from living life a certain way to living it a totally different way. I went from life as usual to life unexpected.

That’s what happens when you have a changed heart.

How It Happened

My heart began to change the moment I realized I was in trouble and admitted my need for help.  Had my pride said, “I can handle this…I’ll be OK,” I would have been dead.  But the painful feeling in my chest convinced me nothing I could do was going to change my condition – I needed a doctor.

The next step in my change of heart came when I submitted to the recommendations of those with whom I consulted. There was the doctor in the first hospital in Washington County who told me: “We got the results of your blood test…there’s something going on…you need to see a cardiologist tonight.” Then, several hours later, after a long ambulance ride and a lot more tests in another hospital (Coliseum), there was the cardiologist who said, “You need surgery.”

If I had rejected the recommendations of either, I would not be writing this; someone else would be writing my obituary.

The final step came when I submitted to the wisdom and ability of Dr. Nisreen Jallad and allowed her to fix what was wrong by weaving a wire up through my wrist and arm, all the way to the blocked arteries in my heart. Had I just agreed to what was needed, nothing would have changed. It was only when I put my life in her hands and allowed her to perform the scary, painful, life-saving angiogram and arterial surgery that change actually occurred.

Reassurance

Over the next couple of days, as I lay in the intensive care unit (ICU), there were times when I felt pain in my chest. Was I having another attack? More surgery?

That’s when Dr. Jallad calmly reassured me, “You came in with problems, but you are fixed…don’t worry.” All I was feeling were a combination of soreness and anxiety, not a heart attack; my heart was working fine.

What’s the next step? Live like my heart has been changed.

Evidence of Change

With a changed heart I will no longer consume the same foods; I will be on a healthier diet, one which will demand I think before I eat.

With a changed heart I will require an ongoing relationship with a cardiologist, someone who knows how the heart works and how to keep it working.

With a changed heart I will have to maintain a very specific regimen of medications for the rest of my life, else the devices in my heart will cease to perform as designed. The change was permanent, but its usefulness could be thwarted by my complacency and lack of discipline.

Spiritual Change

Can you see any comparisons to the spiritual heart? Some people claim to have had a change, but where’s the evidence?

Was there ever a moment of crisis? A moment of need? A time when you realized something was seriously wrong and there was nothing you could do to fix yourself?

Has there been a change of diet and discipline? Has the change been taken seriously?

Was there ever a surrendering to the Savior’s surgical hand, or did you simply continue as you were with only His words to contemplate?

Is there an ongoing communication with the Great Physician, the Cardiologist of the soul? Or, was that one trip to His office enough for you?

Then did a heart change really take place?

All I know is that everything changed for me the day my heart was changed.

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Filed under Christianity, fitness, Life Lessons, Life/Death, salvation

I’ve Been Sick

It may be news to you, but I have been a little under the weather. To put it another way, I have been sick. But who hasn’t, right?

It can get depressing.

However, I have also been experiencing some unexplained pain in my chest. After a couple of trips to the E.R. and a few visits to doctors, I am still no closer to a diagnosis. All I know is that nothing shows up as a heart attack.

I didn’t want to tell many people, though. The last thing I wanted was worried people calling me all day and night asking how I felt. I feel OK, other than that nagging little pain.

Don’t Pray?

It was only a couple of years ago that I had a cancer scare. I was told that a mass in my chest might be a tumor. When people began finding out about the potential diagnosis, I had to say something. I said, “Don’t you dare pray that I be healed! If you pray anything, pray that God gets the glory through whatever He is leading me through.”The same message holds true this time.

Now, if you are an atheist like Andrew Marburger (my most prolific antagonist), then withholding your prayers for my healing shouldn’t be a problem. But if you are a Christ-follower, then you may be tempted to pray that God heal me and take away my pain. I wouldn’t blame you, for I believe that God is fully capable of doing just that. However, what I desire most is to be full of the Holy Spirit and yielded to the will of my Savior.

Just think, it might be His will for me to take the love of Christ to a nurse who is searching for hope. Maybe God wants me to look into the eyes of a surgeon and say, “I know in Whom I have believed?” You see, sometimes, when those in the hospital won’t go to church, the Lord puts the Church in the hospital.

It Is Well

140 years ago, in 1873, Horatio G. Spafford lost his four daughters to the icy Atlantic when a ship they and his wife were on sank in only 12 minutes. Only a short time before he had lost his only son, a 4-year old, to illness. Then he lost most all his wealth to the Chicago fire. It is hard to imagine the grief he must have been going through.

But it was during his mourning, while sailing to meet his grieving wife who survived the sinking, that Spafford looked over the rails into the waves where his daughters had drowned and wrote the following words…

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

If you want to pray for me, then by all means, pray! Just let it be, “SOLI DEO GLORIA!” (To God alone be the glory!).

It is well with my soul.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Faith, Life Lessons, ministry, Struggles and Trials

Yes, I Get Stressed

“How are you doing, Mr. Baker?”

What a question to ask a person lying on a hospital bed, attached to a bunch of colored wires, and aching from a harpoon in the back of his hand!

“Well, If I was doing good I wouldn’t be here, that’s for sure.”

Long story short, my wife took me to the ER because I was experiencing chest pain. The pain (a sharp, sickening feeling in my upper left chest) began to look suspiciously like a heart attack. It wasn’t, though. It’s all related to a possible ulcer, or whatever. Mostly stress.

Stress

Stress can cause a lot of problems, and pastors are subject to some of the most stress of any vocation. Bi-vocational ministers experience even more. And, because I’m lying here as the result of stress, causing my family to worry, racking up more medical bills, and wasting valuable time, I can’t help but feel guilty.

“If stress is the cause of all this,” I said to my wife, “then it makes me wonder how ‘backslidden’ I actually am?”

Now, why would I say that? Well, we’ve all been taught to “cast our burdens upon the Lord.” I’ve preached plenty of times how that “worry is a sinful” because it is “not of faith.” You see, of all people I should be an example of worry-free living. I should be able to testify to the fact that “His grace is sufficient.” But the fact is that I’m human. I do get stressed. I do worry.

Physician, Heal Thyself

It’s easy to say, “don’t worry.” It’s easy to say, “don’t get stressed.” But it’s a totally different matter when you find yourself charged with the keep of men’s souls. It is not only for myself and my family I contend, but the spiritual welfare of many, who at times, could care less.

Some have said, “Well, that’s your own fault…don’t worry about me…you live your life, and I’ll live mine.” What they don’t understand is that watching out for their lives IS my life.

For what it’s worth, if you have a pastor, keep in mind that he cares for you (or at least he should). It’s not only his job, but it’s his heart.

(NLT) Hebrews 13:17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

In conclusion…I’m doing OK, but I need to keep in mind my God is in control. Other than that, thank you, Liz (my nurse) for getting me out of that “second stick.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, fitness, God, ministry, Preaching