Tag Archives: ezekiel

Death

“Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?” – Ezekiel 18:23

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23

“…whosoever comes to me I will never cast out.” – John 6:37

Compared to the holiness of God, Osama bin Laden was no worse a sinner than I am.
I have murdered in my heart. I have separated myself from God. Without the grace of Christ, my justice would be death. He took me, put my sins on Himself, and wiped my slate clean.
The Bible teaches that He would have done the exact same for Osama, had he been willing to accept it.

Thank you, Lord, for Easter and the grace you have freely given.

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Hearts

Today, we’re going to learn about one of my favorite things: hearts. Specifically, we’ll be talking about heart transplants.

Pig heart from a lab in which I worked

There are various ways a heart can be damaged.

It can be born that way (congenital defects). From a medical and engineering standpoint, these defects are fascinating. Blood can take such strange pathways, and the surgeries and devices that have been made to correct such defects are technical marvels. From the standpoint of being a human being, they are heart breaking.
It can become that way. It can be injured in an accident or afflicted by cancer. It can be infected. Poor diet may harden the arteries, potentially causing heart attack and muscle death. The mitral valve can become floppy. The aortic valve can become calcified, sometimes giving a sickening crunch upon dissection. The heart may change shape to respond to other maladies and lose function as a result. The electrical circuitry can be blocked or go haywire. The heart can simply wear out from old age.
I could go on.

There are so many ways physicians can attempt to repair the human heart.
We can give scores of medicines. We can do corrective surgery, open-chest with a heart-lung machine or laparoscopically with a Da Vinci robot. We can reconnect mis-matched vessels and close up openings. We can repair valves. We can transplant valves and arteries – autologous, xenologous, or manufactured. We can implant a whole range of devices: stents, occluders, LVADs, RVADs, continuous flow, pulsatile flow, pacemakers, parachutes, catheters, rings, oh my goodness, the list goes on.

However, many of the devices listed above designed for end-stage heart failure are not approved as “destination therapies,” meaning they can only help support a patient while they wait for something better. There seems to be only one  thing that can “fix” a diseased human heart: a heart transplant. (The link is a video interviewing a transplant patient, not a video of the surgery itself. It’s very moving and informative.)
How wonder-ful is that? We have the best technology the world has ever known, and more comes out every day. Yet the best treatment we can offer a patient is to give them a new heart, a God-designed piece of technology that works better than anything.  Wow.

Now, in the original tradition of this blog, I now transition to extended metaphor.

Extended Metaphor

The human heart, the spiritual heart, is damaged. I have rebelled against God. I have sinned over and over again. People have sinned against me and wounded my heart. Each wound is like a slash across my heart, and a little bit of muscle dies. My repetitive sin slowly calcifies the valves and arteries of my heart, turning them to stone.

I can try to fix it. Oh, we humans are so creative! We can ignore our sin. We can cut our hearts out and lock them in a box where no one can hurt them. We can seek healing from parents, lovers, and friends. We can medicate with drugs, alcohol, sex, money. We can implant beautiful-looking devices: an extra evening church service, another Bible study, or praying 7 times a day. My goodness, the list is as long as human history.

But God designed the only remedy for the broken heart. And unlike a medical transplant, this healing is perfect. Not painless, but perfect (a topic for another entry).
Here is what has become my favorite passage:

I will give you a NEW HEART and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.
– Ezekiel 36:26-28 (emphasis mine)

God is in the business of heart transplants! (In a bit of irony, here we have a God who thinks he’s a cardiac surgeon!)

A NEW HEART! Look at that! Not just some petty medicine or a temporary device to help the old heart limp along. It’s a brand-new, perfectly beating, God-designed heart! And unlike the physically transplanted heart, this one won’t wear out and die. We have a new lease on life: eternal. life.

Lord, I thank you for this new heart that beats and bleeds and loves.  You are so good.

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Memories: Junior Year

I hoped to post pictures of the sticky notes here, since colors jog my memory much more profoundly than words do, but I am encountering technical difficulties. Maybe later.

A late-night conversation with Greg recalled a verse about silver to my mind, but I couldn’t find it. It was no longer in the recesses of my mind. While he waited patiently on Skype, I dug through my things and found a stack of sticky notes from junior year. And now I’m immersed in memories of how God shaped me that year. (Not in any order, logical or otherwise.)


In September, faced with a decision about leading a small group and wondering why I was at Baylor in the first place, I sat on a swing and cried to God. He simply told me, in a voice I could nearly hear, “I brought you here for a reason.” I decided to lead the small group and to wait and see what His purpose was for me at Baylor.


I do my hair in front of a $5 mirror in my dorm room. The mirror is surrounded with brightly-colored sticky notes and various printouts. Seeing His words every day on those sticky notes grew me in more ways than I remembered.


A friend tells me that someone I thought was genuinely interested in being a friend wants nothing more than a physical relationship. I fear going to Matrix Theory.


I learned that I am so weak and broken and prone to failure. God taught me that the only way to survive any of this was to rely on him. He was my strength and I trusted His guidance, though I had no idea where He was leading me.

For God alone,
O my soul,
wait in silence.
Psalm 62:5

It goes on a green sticky note.


Rachel comes over to sit in the papasan as one or the other of us cries.
We yodel on the way to ODE.


I fear so many things, so many people.
I take refuge in the song we sing at Highland that morning:

“‘Cause when we see you,
We find strength to face the day
And in your presence,
All our fears are washed away”

It also goes on a green sticky note.


I learn about God’s discipline. He truly disciplines us for our good. I devour the book of Lamentations.

And it is good for the young to submit to the yoke of his discipline.
– Lamentations 3:27

Pink sticky note.


God begins to kill sinful desires in me.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. – Colossians 3:5

It goes on an orange sticky note.


I watch one He loves blossom and find joy in life again.
I watch another He loves battle so many demons.

Every day we brush past objects of incalculable worth to God: people!

Pink sticky note. Minus the sticky bit.


I try to encourage a friend in too many late night talks in the HRC.
I collapse before my church leadership in fear of this friendship.


I try to convince people I’m not interested. Nunneries start to look appealing…

In repentance and rest is
your salvation,
In quietness and trust is
your strength,
but you would have none of it.
– Isaiah 30:15

Pink sticky note.


I discover life in my CG. I wonder at God’s ability to do anything worthwhile through me. I trust and love them.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.
– Philippians 2:13

Blue sticky note.


I face tough questions and powerful images in colloquium. God uses Ordinary Men to ask me what I would do, and How (Not) to Speak of God to show me how incredibly powerful His call is. I love Him so much.


After fall retreat, I write,

Are your
PRIORITIES
in order?

on an orange sticky.


God uses an incredibly slow-healing wound to teach me that I cannot get out of my own messes on my own.

The Lord disciplines those he loves.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet.
– Hebrews 12:12

Pink sticky note.


This is the first April since I caught West Nile that I’ve made it through without illness.


I encounter Ezekiel and Covenant language. The words about a new heart and a new spirit ignite my soul.


I learned again to follow and trust God completely blind. I see now, as I write this, that these were only the first steps: He turned out the lights when I could follow Him on just a gravel road, barely enough to trip me. With this training, I will now be able to follow Him blindly wherever He leads. I feel like this is preparation for much more treacherous roads.
Oh, Lewis says it much better, in Screwtape Letters. He talks about how when we first begin to follow Christ, He gives us just a taste of His radiance and assurance, and it nearly overpowers our frail hearts. As we mature, we learn to follow Him without these feelings and without seeing the way, all “for the sake of the call.”

And the verse about silver?

Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
You have tested us, O God;
you have purified us like silver melted in a crucible…
We went through fire and flood,
But you brought us to a place of great abundance.
– Psalm 66: 8-12

(On a pink sticky note)

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Raising the Bar

Observation via RZIM:

The “old” command in Leviticus: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The “new” command in John: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Impossible. Love people using this sinner’s heart in the same way God has loved me? What?!
But with the new command comes Christ, who is daily taking my heart of stone and replacing it with one of flesh, with a heart that can love people as He has loved me: completely and unconditionally.

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Broken

The world is broken. “Bent” in Old Solar.

Potatoes can’t fix it.
Simple harmonic motion only allows us to process it.

I move the rocks to their rightful place, because that’s all I have the power to fix.

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel…
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.

YHWH Rapha, God who Heals.

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