The Supposed Faith of our Founding Fathers

I’ve written about this before. I get frustrated every time I talk to a fellow evangelical who has uncritically bought into the mythology that America was founded as a “Christian Nation” by “Christian Founding Fathers.” It’s not their fault…many Christian leaders have made it their life’s work to perpetuate this myth...

  • People like Jerry Falwell and his "Liberty Alliance" which claims that if we examine the Declaration of Independence, we will “discover that our Founding Fathers believed in four basic Christian tenets.”

  • People like D. James Kennedy and his "Center for Reclaiming America" which provides “non-partisan, non-denominational information, training, and support to all those interested in positively affecting the culture and renewing the vision of our Founding Fathers, as expressed in America's founding documents.”

  • People like James Dobson who, on his radio show and his appearances on cable talk shows, talks about "the Founding Fathers’ Judeo-Christian beliefs."

  • People like David Barton and his "Wallbuilders" which stresses “America’s Godly Heritage.”

  • People like Rod Parsley and his "Center for Moral Clarity" and "Reformation Ohio" which make the same claims.

Well, the evidence is very contrary. Anyone who wants to know the facts can easily find them in the book, The Search for Christian America by Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch and George M. Marsden. Noll, Hatch, and Marsden are recognized as evangelicalism’s finest historians. In 2005, Time magazine named Noll one of America's 25 most influential evangelicals; he just moved from Wheaton College to replace the retiring Marsden at Notre Dame (Marsden had previously taught at Calvin College). Hatch is President and Professor of History at Wake Forest University.

They write,

"There were, to be sure, a few founding fathers who affirmed the cardinal tenets of orthodox Christianity: John Witherspoon, Patrick Henry--an evangelical Anglican, John Jay--co-author of the Federalist Papers and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and, like Henry, an Anglican of decidedly evangelical sentiments. Most of the early leaders, however, did not share the Christian convictions of Henry and Jay. The God of the founding fathers was a benevolent deity, not far removed from the God of the eighteenth-century Deists or nineteenth century Unitarians…They were not, in any traditional sense, Christian. What historian Daniel Boorstin, now Librarian of Congress, once wrote about Jefferson and his friends applies to most of the founders: they had found in God what they most admired in men."

For some extended quotes from this essential book, check out my previous post.

A new book by Newsweek’s Managing Editor, Jon Meacham (American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation [Random House, April 2006]) affirms what Noll, Hatch and Marsden have articulated.

Meacham writes,

“However dominant in terms of numbers, Christianity is only a thread in the American tapestry—it is not the whole tapestry. The God who is spoken of and called on and prayed to in the public sphere is an essential character in the American drama, but He is not specifically God the Father or the God of Abraham. The right's contention that we are a ‘Christian nation’ that has fallen from pure origins and can achieve redemption by some kind of return to Christian values is based on wishful thinking, not convincing historical argument.”

To read an excerpt from Meacham’s book, go to the Newsweek website.

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Marvin Olasky’s Conservative Fantasy “World”

A friend of mine gave me a subscription to WORLD magazine, the conservative Christian weekly that Republican pundit Marvin Olasky edits. It is pretty amazing how WORLD offers its readers an alternative universe of facts from that of TIME or NEWSWEEK or BBC or just about any other major news source in the West (except, of course, FOXNEWS). And they revel in it—in the current issue, Hugh Hewitt gives this slant on the generals who have recently criticized Donald Rumsfeld: “The amplification of their comments by the mainstream media is troubling.” Hewitt then makes the “MSM” (“Main Stream Media”) into left-wing conspirators that are “eager to take down Mr. Rumsfeld as part of its never-ending campaign against President Bush.”

A recent cover story featured a smiling John Bolton, offering the softer side of our UN Ambassador than what his critics have offered us (there's a reason that President Bush made Bolton a recess appointment in order to skip around the criticism).

Last week’s cover story on Global Warming (“Greener Than Thou”) was infuriating. In an article that pretended to be an unbiased news story, the predispositions and backhanded putdowns were in just about every paragraph. It was a calculated opinion piece seeking to undermine the credibility of the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), signed by more than 85 evangelical leaders, including bestselling Purpose-Driven Life author and pastor Rick Warren, Foursquare Church president Jack Hayford, World Vision president Rich Stearns, Salvation Army national commander Todd Bassett, Christianity Today editor David Neff and executive editor Timothy George, Wheaton College president Duane Litfin, and former National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson. The article tried to make the case that these leaders were duped into signing something they didn’t understand—that they failed to recognize the implications of ECI’s statement that climate change “is being caused by human activities” and advocates “national legislation requiring sufficient economy-wide reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.” Uncritical readers are led to believe that anyone who signed this initiative are either ignorant or stupid. World is among the few conservative Christian institutions that are absolutely unwilling to believe the scientific findings of the majority of the world's experts on climate.

Olasky’s “WORLD” is a conservative fantasy-land, in which the old battle-lines remain drawn between Conservative Christians (who believe in an individualistic gospel of personal salvation and personal responsibility) and Liberal Christians (who believe in a gospel that changes society and public responsibility). In Olasky’s most recent commentary, he eulogizes the famous advocate of the Social Gospel, William Sloane Coffin, Jr. After talking about Coffin’s "hip sermons" that pleaded for churches to help the poor and to overturn social classes and traditional institutions, Olasky shares his personal story of when, while in college, he personally embraced Marxism. Olasky’s pendulum has seemingly swung the extreme other way. He now writes that when Coffin died this month, “that’s what has happened to the social gospel as well. A few Coffin epigones talk on in an attempt to keep that ol’ time religion alive, but evangelicals rely on the most important change agent of all: the grace of Jesus Christ.” Olasky attempts to build that old, stale wall between the “Jesus Christ Gospel” and the “Social Gospel.”

But I have news for Olasky: That ain’t gonna play anymore.

What I’ve witnessed in the last three to four years is a revival of social concern among evangelicals (especially among the younger generations). They are critically concerned not only about issues like ABORTION and MARRIAGE, but also about issues such as WAR and PEACE (and people like Rumsfeld who lead powerful nations into unjust wars), CREATION CARE (and the effects our exploitation of the earth has had on climate change), the POOR (and economic policies that favor the rich and hurt the oppressed), and many other social issues. Olasky seems oblivious to the resurgent rise in popularity of those who advocated an evangelical version of that “ol time social religion”—people like Ron Sider and Jim Wallis. He seems dismissive of evangelical leaders like Rich Cizik, The National Association of Evangelicals’ Vice President for Governmental Affairs. And he seems to not even know about the whole new generation of leaders who make up “the emerging church” that see themselves as “post-conservative and post-liberal,” refusing to say it must be "either-or," but rather "both-and." These emerging leaders are more appreciative of a Gospel that focuses in on “The Kingdom of God,” which has implications not only for our personal lives but for society as well. It is almost a revival of the theology of Walter Rauschenbusch, who made the Kingdom of God the basis for his “Social Gospel,” in which “humankind [is] organized according to the will of God.”

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A Genuine Desire for Holiness

Reflections from the Edge of Death 3

As I’ve been reflecting on what a precious gift human life is, I have also been struck by the greatest desire in my life for holiness.

Even though I’ve been in ministry for 16 years, I’ve seen the call to purity as a burden. You see, holiness is godliness, and since I’m not God, I found God’s demand, “be holy because I am holy” (1 Pet 1:15-16) to be burdensome, calling me to be something other than human.

But I’ve come to realize that the very definition of being human is to be a genuine image-bearer of God.

"Genuine holiness is genuine Christ-likeness, and genuine Christ-likeness is genuine holiness—the only genuine humanness there is” (JI Packer, Rediscovering Holiness, p. 28).

Life is too short to goof around feeding and obsessing over addictive sin. There is too much joy to be found in submitting to the Holy Spirit.

I had somehow missed that fact that among the fruit of the Spirit is JOY!


Back Home Again!

After a harrowing Easter weekend (in which I had to call 9-1-1 again and visited not only the Mercy Emergency Room but was LIFE-FLIGHTED to the Cleveland Clinic), I’m home tonight and doing well. We believe I had a “Rebound”–when one moves from one type of blood pressure medicine to another, the body may freak out and the BP goes throught the roof. This is very dangerous, especially for someone like myself with an aorta that is trying to heal…

So the prognosis is this:

  • I’m home on a new set of blood pressure medications, monitoring the BP daily.
  • In 3 months, I go back to the Cleveland Clinic for another echocardiogram to see how I’m doing.
  • In six months they will do a heart catheterization and CT Scan and other tests to see if at that time they will want to replace my aortic valve and perhaps even re-do the aorta replacement (eeeks!).
Pray that the Lord would heal my heart in such a way that I will not have to have my chest opened up again.

Resurrection Weekend is all about Jesus Christ–but as one of his followers, I feel that I had yet another mini-resurrection!



This week’s PRISM EPISTLE from Ron Sider’s Evangelicals for Social Action features a review of Sam Van Eman’s book, On Earth As It Is In Advertising: Moving From Commercial Hype To Gospel Hope (Brazos Press). We at the CCO (Coalition for Christian Outreach) are very proud of Sam, he has been on staff with us since 1998. In this book, Sam addresses one of the most pernicious threats to us in our contemporary culture—the “SimGospel” that comes from our media-saturated culture that seeks to tell young people that their identity is found in consumerism. The book is directed to college-aged students, seeking to raise awareness that they are being preyed upon by the marketing empire.

The reviewer, Aiden Enns, after admitting that the blurbs from Sider, Tony Campolo and Bill McKibben offer accolades, takes Sam to task by stating that

My main critique of Van Eman’s book is simply this: It’s too nice. When I consider the global rich/poor gap, North America’s cultural imperialism, and the posture of evangelicalism, I cringe… I’d like Van Eman to deconstruct the discourse of mainstream evangelicalism, especially that of the emergent church, and expose how our sanctuaries mimic the message of movie theatres and our marketing strategies are filled with commercial hype. When choirs become pop stars and preachers do it better on the big screen, the medium subverts the message, I fear. In spite of these shortcomings, the book is definitely worth reading.”

This is certainly something that consistently needs to be done, but it seems to me to be beyond the purview of the book. Sam’s purpose in this book seems pretty straightforward: explain to the college generation that they are being duped and what they need to be aware of in this deception.


Jesus and the Four Cups of Passover, part 2

The Third Cup

The third cup of the Passover Meal, known as the “cup of blessing,” came next, accompanied by another prayer of thanksgiving.

This is what is recorded in Matthew 26:26-29
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying,
“Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Jesus understood the violent and sacrificial death he is about to undergo as the ratification of the covenant he is inaugurating with his people.
Here is the KEY POINT that we must not miss:
Jesus is using the same language that was used when Moses ratified the covenant of Sinai by the shedding of blood in Exodus 24:3-8. Look at it!

When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’S words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the LORD has said we will do.” Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.
He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.”
Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:3-8)

Therefore, what Jesus was saying is this: What we have here is a new exodus! In the Old Testament, God saved the people from the evil of Pharaoh and then created a deep, lasting connection with them by creating a covenant relationship with them, giving them the Law that spelled out the stipulations of this covenant relationship between the people and God. Moses received that Law written on Stone Tablets and in the Book of the Covenant. Moses ratified the covenant with the blood of the animals at that sacrifice. And then he says, in verse 8, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Now, at the “Last Supper,” it is the Passover Meal commemorating that event of the Exodus. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, tells them that the bread is his body, and the wine is the blood of the New Covenant. He says, echoing those words from Exodus, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Christ saves his people from their sins through his sacrificial death. Again, we have a “Covenant” between man and God. Again, it is ratified with blood. But this time it is the “New” Covenant. In fact some of our ancient manuscripts actually has that word there—“This is my blood of the new covenant…” and in Luke’s account of this event, Jesus says, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” This is what the Prophet Jeremiah spoke of—

31 “The time is coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:31-34)

I watched the first part of the new ABC production of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS last night. I always wondered why they showed the old Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner film on Easter weekend every year (it will be showed again this Saturday on ABC).

Here is the reason why: We are to see the Exodus as a "type" of a new and greater deliverance! It is a foreshadowing of the spiritual reality of what the whole Bible points to! The incredible deliverance of the Exodus was commemorated each year with the Passover Feast. The Passover celebrates how God saved the people and led them to the Promised Land in which they can dwell with God in covenant relationship.

The Last Supper, eaten on Passover, and the Lord’s Supper, that we do in remembrance of this event, celebrates that God saves us from sin and is leading us on the exodus to the Promised Land in which we can dwell with God in covenant relationship. Only our experience is grander and more powerful—for we have the Law written on our hearts.

Therefore, this Third Cup, called the “Cup of Blessing” in the Hebrew tradition, truly is the greatest blessing of all! It is the blessing of eternal life!

This is what we celebrate at Communion!

The Fourth Cup

After this, it was customary to sing the rest of the Hallel (Pss 114-18 or 115-18) and probably drank a fourth cup of wine.

And that is basically what we read in Matthew 26:30--
"When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."


Jesus and the Four Cups of Passover, part 1

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. (Matthew 26:17-19)

The preparations about which the disciples were asking were extensive.
Toward mid afternoon of Thursday, the lambs (one per "household") would be brought to the temple court where the priests sacrificed them. The priests took the blood and passed it in basins along a line till it was poured out at the foot of the altar. They also burned the lambs' fat on the altar of burnt offerings. The singing of the Hallel (Psalms 113-18) accompanied these steps.
As opposed to our 24-hour clock, In the Hebrew culture, the next day did not begin at midnight, but after sunset. So, once the sun went down, it became “Friday.” The "household" would gather in a home to eat the Passover lamb.

Searching for the Leaven
According to Leviticus 23:6 and Numbers 28:17, Jews were forbidden to use yeast in their bread for seven days during and after Passover. Exodus 12:18 says that yeast should be removed from the house on Thursday. So, at noon of Thursday, all the leaven (the yeast) in the house was taken out.
This was to remind the Israelites of their hurried departure from Egypt, when without waiting to bake leavened bread they carried dough and kneading-troughs with them, baking as they wandered.
The prohibition on leaven was also used as a teaching device: fermentation implied disintegration and corruption, and to the Hebrew anything in a decayed state suggested uncleanness. Rabbinical writers often used leaven as a symbol of evil and of man’s hereditary corruption. Just as the leaven works its way through a whole loaf of bread, so our sin can and very often does work its way through the entire family of God.

The First Cup
To start out the feast, the head of the household would pray, giving thanks for the feast day (the Passover Kiddush) and for the wine, praying over the first of four cups to be drunk throughout the meal. A preliminary course of greens and bitter herbs was followed by the Passover haggadah--in which a boy would ask the meaning of all this, and the head of the household would explain how the symbols pertain to the Exodus.

The Passover, he would explain, is the celebration of God “passing over” the Israelites when they were in Egypt. He would recount the story from Exodus 11 and 12—of how Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go, and how, as a final blow against the evil of the Egyptians, God would kill every firstborn in Egypt, but would spare the Israelites of the same fate:
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance. (Exodus 12:12-14)

After explaining this, they would sing the first part of the Hallel (Ps 113 or Pss 113-14).

The Second Cup

Then a second cup of wine introduced the main course—the Passover Lamb, which had been roasted with bitter herbs.

It was at this juncture that Matthew 26:20-25 occurred:
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”

The NIV is misleading: it gives the impression that a particular "one" is in view, when in fact most if not all those present would have dipped into the same bowl as Jesus, given the eating styles of the day.

Jesus' point is that the betrayer is a friend, someone close, someone sharing the common dish, thus heightening the enormity of the betrayal. Judas does indeed betray Jesus--in spite of what the "Gospel of Judas" contends (for information that clearly refutes the recent media fuss of the gnostic gospel of Judas, see Mark Goodacre's "megapost" that links to many resources on the subject)

Next: The Third Cup--the announcement that Jesus is offering a NEW EXODUS AND RESCUE to his followers.

One Year of Scot McKnight's JESUS CREED

It's been one year of blogging for Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed.

I remember when he first started--he started with a several-part series interacting with DA Carson's book that criticized the Emergent Church (especially Brian McLaren). I was in the midst of the heat of that situation, having become convinced that "Emergent" and the "Emerging Church" movement had a lot to say about where we can move forward into the "vanguard" of where the church needs to be. And Carson was one of my professors in seminary, a person I deeply respected (I own a shelf-full of his books). How he could miss the point of the EC was astounding to me, and I felt that I was one of the few "emergent-types" to try to take on his critique.

But Scot McKnight came to the rescue. Scot was another of my profs in seminary, and he has the credentials and the more thorough knowledge of theology that can take on a scholar the likes of Carson.

I remember talks on the phone with Scot last year—as he worked on that series, his insights were what I was thinking, only better articulated and better backed up with his expertise in historical theology and New Testament background.

In those early days, Scot was on Blogger, the same as I am. I have figured out how to manipulate the code of Blogger to make the blog look the way I want and to include the information I want where I want it. So I helped him design that early blog in Blogger. Then a friend of his suggested he move to WordPress, and he switched to that (which I understand is much easier to write in and has a few more bells and whistles than Blogger).

Over the past year, Scot has offered some of the best insights into theology and biblical studies on the web. He is very fair in his assessment of the Emerging Church, sympathetic to its missional call and yet not afraid to offer critique where it is needed. Jesus Creed is the best Emerging Church blog going, and that says a lot, since there are a LOT of great blogs at Planet Emergent (Emerging Church Blogs).

On a personal note, I am very touched to know that as I went through my recent brush with death, Scot consistently posted updates as to my medical condition. It is an amazing thing to go back and read those posts and the many different comments from his readers, showing their loving care for me, a fellow blogger.

Thanks, Scot, for a great year! Here’s looking forward to the next!


New Pics added to the Family Page

I just added some new pictures of the family (especially the kids!) to the family page.

Pledging to Live in the Opportune Times

Reflections from the Edge of Death 2

After my surgery, I was placed in the cardio-vascular surgical ICU. But my recovery was not going smoothly. I developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)—a life-threatening condition in which inflammation of the lungs and accumulation of fluid in the air sacs leads to low blood oxygen levels. I had to be on mechanical ventilation to deliver oxygen and a continuous level of pressure (called PEEP [positive end-expiratory pressure]) to my lungs.

During these four weeks battling ARDS, I had to be deeply sedated with medications—basically placed in a medically-induced coma—because if I would awaken, my blood pressure would skyrocket and my oxygen levels would plummet. This was a tremendously stressful time for my family and friends—a rollercoaster ride of their daily asking the nurses, “What’s his PEEP?” The higher the PEEP, the worse the news: my oxygen levels were so low that the machine had to keep my lungs expanded to help get oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream.

At three weeks, 6 days, my wife, Linda asked my pulmonologist when I would be able to come out of the coma, and he said he did not know if or when I would. This was a jolting revelation.

The next day, by the grace of God, I woke up without complications!

That next week I would sleep a lot. But when I was awake, I found myself surrounded by family, friends, and many people I know from different local churches and even the Starbucks at which I frequent. Without my knowing it, they had been visiting me the entire time I had been in the ICU.

And it struck me: These people are precious. My life—every day and every moment—is precious. How many days have I taken life and friends and family for granted? How often have I made it a priority to love the people in my life? Not very often. God has placed me on this earth and has given me opportunities to reach out to people and care for them, and yet I had often just lived as if I’ll always have those opportunities tomorrow or next week or next year. I am not guaranteed a tomorrow or a next week—none of us are.

We named our daughter Kaira—we feminized the Greek word “kairos,” which means a measure of time, often as the “opportune time,” a specific and decisive point, a divinely allotted time or season. Kaira and her twin brother Joel were born at a particularly difficult time in our life, and we wanted to remind ourselves that God’s timing is always good.

While I laid there in the ICU, I thought of the kairos times of life—the times of opportunity that I had allowed to slip by, the opportunities wasted. I pledged to live fully in those kairos moments—While we have opportunity (kairos), let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10) “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time (kairos), because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15). “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity (kairos)” (Colossians 4:5).

The Bible passage that has been a constant comfort to Linda in these stressful times is 1 Peter 5:6-7.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (kairos), casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

What a comfort—God has a kairos reserved for us as well! In those darkest times in the hospital, I wondered if I would ever see a time when I’d be home again—hugging my children, holding my wife, laughing with my friends, talking about spiritual things with my family, doing the work I love, and even blogging again…

And here I am…God has brought me through. He is good!


The Power of Prayer

Reflections from the Edge of Death 1

It was 10:30 PM on Thursday, February 2. Linda had already gone to bed and had been asleep for half an hour when I suddenly felt pain in my chest that radiated to my back. I ran upstairs and woke her up, “Call 911!”

The paramedics treated me as if it were a heart-attack and rushed me to Mercy Medical Center in Canton. It took a while for the ER doctors to figure out what was wrong with me because all the tests for heart-attack came back negative. They took an X-Ray that revealed the problem: My ascending aorta that leads up from the heart had dissected—the tear had ripped through two of the three layers of the aorta and was threatening to burst, which would result in death. The aorta had ballooned, looking like a football.
I was immediately sent to surgery. Dr. Mark Tawil operating on me from 2:30 AM to 3:30 PM (yes, that's 13 hours!).

Linda had my very good friends Matt and Miche by her side (Matt drove her to the hospital; Miche, a nurse at Mercy, was working that night). Linda made some phone calls at 3:00 in the morning to friends and family and the news of the situation spread like wildfire. In those early morning hours, we were blessed to have many, many people already praying for me. By daybreak, Linda had several friends and family with her—listening to her, comforting her, and praying with her at the hospital.

This is the major news of this ordeal: By the time I had come out of surgery and was placed in ICU, there were more people than we can count praying for my life. People were praying for me from several different churches and several different states. The doctors and nurses I’ve spoken to have all said that I should not have survived. One nurse that was assisting in the surgery said that when they opened me up and she saw the aorta it was “as if somebody was holding it together.” It should have burst. Dr. Tawil stated it clearly: "It was your faith and the faith of your family and friends that saved you."

There is ongoing skepticism that prayer works in healing. Many newspapers are reporting this week about a major study published this month in the American Heart Journal—the New York Times had a front page article this past Friday (March 31) that had the headline, “Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer.” The study had total strangers praying for heart bypass patients and monitored the patients’ progress for thirty days. The report concluded that “Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from coronary artery bypass graft, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications.”

But the New York Times reported that “Dean Marek, a chaplain at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a co-author of the report, said the study said nothing about the power of personal prayer or about prayers for family members and friends. Working in a large medical center like Mayo, Mr. Marek said, ‘You hear tons of stories about the power of prayer, and I don't doubt them.’”

I also note that the study did not consider whether or not the prayers were offered in the name of the Lord of healing, Jesus Christ. Christ tells us in several passages (see John chapters 14-16) that there is real power when we make requests to the Father in the name of Christ.

I, for one, have no doubts that it was prayer that moved God’s hand to heal me. God agreed with these prayers that I should remain alive for His glory—so that my wife Linda would not be a widow with three children to raise, and that Joel, Kaira, and Trey would have there daddy to lead them into adulthood. And that I have much more ministry to do with the CCO, the local church, and in various other ways. And that I am to re-develop my relationships with my extended family and with my friends.

This was God’s will. I have a new life to live for God’s glory. Thank you to all who prayed. Praise goes to God for his power to heal.

Next: My Kairos Lesson.