Oct 31, 2009

Faith, Spirituality and Healthcare (Video)

This video is a brief discussion on the role of faith and spirituality in healthcare. It was produced by Global Awakening Films. Their video podcast archive can be viewed here.

Multiple Sclerosis Healed After 30 Years

This woman was healed of Multiple Sclerosis on Halloween night at Bethel church's healing rooms in Redding, California.

A Holy Ghost Story

On Halloween night, I thought I’d scare you with a ghost story. My patient Jim, (not his real name) was admitted with breathing problems and treated for pneumonia. He also suffered from gradually worsening pain and weakness in his legs after back surgery. During his hospital stay he developed respiratory failure and was intubated. The usual culprits like pulmonary embolus, sepsis and cerebral bleed were ruled out. Despite aggressive treatment, his respiratory failure worsened. He failed spontaneous breathing trials, and was given a tracheostomy. His diagnosis was ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). I was transporting him to a facility for rehab and long – term care. I was grateful they waited a few days for the transfer. My last vent patient still had fresh blood on his tracheostomy.

Jim appeared stable. He had all the usual lines and tubes attached but no IV meds running. This should be an easy transport. The only potential problem was fear. He was extremely anxious about the transfer. The nurse said she’d give him some Ativan. He also had a lot of chronic pain which earned him a Fentanyl patch. His med list showed a few other narcotics he took as needed, and just as many stool softeners to help move things along. The nurse said she’d give him some Dilaudid before the trip...Sweet!

I prefer it when anxious patients are well-sedated. Snowed into oblivion is even better. When I worked as a flight medic we had to institute protocols for mandatory chemical or physical restraints because of a few “incidents” we had in the air. I’ve had a few patients unexpectedly leave the ambulance…on the freeway. That's another story.

As I got my equipment ready, I overheard the RT taking care of Jim remind him of all the things Jesus already did for him to pave the way. She told him to trust God that everything would work out for the best. I love running into fellow-believers in the ICU. I joined in. Together we encouraged him. I told him the story of Scott Buzzell, my friend with ALS, who’s going to be healed. After tweaking the settings and getting Jim accustomed to my vent, we moved him over.

The first ten minutes were spent adjusting the settings on the vent, and trying to keep Jim calm. He was nervous; fidgeting and motioning to me frequently that he wasn’t getting enough of a breath. I’m a terrible lip-reader. I couldn’t understand what he was telling me. But his color and vitals were good, his CO2 was OK. He was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I began to pray for the Holy Ghost to come into the ambulance and bring Jim peace. I prayed with him for the next 10 minutes and encouraged him to trust in God. The more I prayed the more calm he became. I kept telling him to let go of his fears and let God be in control.

I noticed he became very, very relaxed. Too relaxed…now he was unresponsive. I looked at the monitor His sats and heart rate were in the toilet. Crap!! I told my partner, “Pull over, NOW. And get back here.”

I checked his eyes…nobody home. He still had a pulse. As my pilot looked for a safe place to land, I disconnected the vent and grabbed the BVM sitting next to me. Our crash landing kicked up a few large rocks. Nobody got hurt. My partner asked what was going on. I gave him the lowdown. Squeezing the bag, I continued trying to wake Jim up. He finally opened his eyes and looked around, obviously confused. He had no idea where he was. His confusion lasted about a minute. Once I explained what happened and where he was, he was fine.

My EMT shut off the vent and helped me take the Velcro tie off the tracheostomy cannula, spin the adapter 180 degrees and reattach the BVM. I wedged myself between the gurney and the bench seat. My knees were already sore from crouching next to him so I could pray, but I didn’t care. My partner asked if I wanted another unit to help. I said no. We moved things around so I could see them better and told him I’d be fine bagging the rest of the way.

The rest of the trip was a breeze. No worries about the vent settings. I just kept squeezing the bag every time he took a breath. His vitals remained rock solid. I love automatic monitoring. My laptop looked at me with a silly grin. We don’t do paper reports anymore; it’s all electronic. I hadn’t even started yet. It’s nice to get your charting done early, sometimes it doesn’t happen. I didn’t care about anything right now except getting Jim through this crazy ordeal without another incident. Here’s your Kodak moment; two grown men holding hands, praying in the back of an ambulance flying down the freeway at mach 2.

Something happened to Jim while he was away for those few minutes. When he came back, he wasn’t afraid, not even slightly anxious. No fidgeting, no fussing, not a wrinkle on his brow. He was perfectly at peace and wide awake. He seemed like a different man. Later that day I wondered what happened. Why did he suddenly check out? My first thought was that he had too much happy juice in the ICU and it caught up to him. It’s certainly possible. But if he was overmedicated, why did he suddenly become alert within a few minutes? And why was he suddenly at peace? Was it because I was bagging him?

I think something else happened. I’ve never experienced this, but stories about it are common. As I prayed for the Holy Spirit to come into the ambulance, I encouraged Jim to lean on God and trust him with everything; to let go of every fear and rest in God’s love. It was at this point when he became unresponsive. I think maybe he had an encounter with God. I hear a lot of stories about people who leave their bodies and travel in their spirit to hang out with God for encouragement, instruction or other divine business. They often come back with a new perspective on their problems. I hope to meet Jim in the future and get to ask him about the trip. God has ways of putting those people in your path. If I do I'll let you know what happened.

I hope you have a safe Halloween. If you get a chance, pray for someone. Maybe they’ll have a Holy Ghost story to tell, too.

Oct 29, 2009

Praying for Young Women

Praying for people isn't always a smooth road. My daughter and I run into problems from time to time. She's glad I developed a lifestyle of praying for people. She really likes it when I pray for her and some pain is healed. But she's a little creeped out when I want to pray for her friends. Many of her friends in high school aren't into God or religion and have never been approached by someone who wanted to pray for them. She pretty much asked me not to pray for anyone at her swim meets this season. I love my daughter. I see God doing a lot of things in her life. I give her a lot of grace; being a teenager isn't easy.

This week I had an opportunity to show her how prayer works and challenge her fears about it. My daughter has a friend on the swim team who needs healing. Her problem is a stress fracture in her foot. She's been hobbling around on crutches for a month or so. Swimming is OK, but walking is difficult. My daughter and I talked about it and she wasn't comfortable having me ask her friend about prayer. I respected her wishes...for a while. Her friend doesn't have much of an awareness of God, so the question of divine healing causes concern. What if you ask and she says no? What if you pray and she doesn't get healed? Won't it give her more reason not to believe? Teenagers are concerned about how others perceive them. We covered all the concerns she had. I tried to be sensitive to them and for several weeks I put it out of my mind. This was in spite of the fact that I believed I had a word of knowledge about her healing. When my daughter first mentioned the injury about a month ago, I could swear I heard God say, "I'll heal her."

This week God opened the door. As I went to pick up my daughter from swim practice, the girl with the injured foot and a few friends were waiting in the parking lot. I got out of my car and approached them with a big smile. I asked how practice went and talked about the upcoming district meet to build a bridge of relationship with them. I asked my 'patient' about her foot. She filled me in on the latest scoop from her doctor. I asked if she liked hobbling around on crutches. She said no. I suggested maybe she didn't have to. She asked what the alternative was. I told her about a few miracles I'd seen and suggested hers might be the next one. I told her I'd like to pray and ask God to heal her. She said, "go ahead". I didn't really ask for healing. God told me a while back not to beg, but to command healing, so I commanded the foot to be healed. The whole process took about 10 seconds. I told her I wanted to hear about it at the next meet. My daughter and I left; she was all smiles on the way home.

A few days ago was the last dual swim meet of the year. It had been re-scheduled twice. It finally arrived on a day I was off duty, so I went. Halfway through the meet I was surprised to see someone I knew. She's a member of the opposing team. I first saw her last year at one of the home meets. Here's what happened that day. I saw two girls pass in front of me as they walked to the locker room. They were holding hands, one was being led by the other. I immediately noticed something was wrong with the second girl's eyes. It was obvious she couldn't see very well. Immediately as I began to wonder about her eyes and if God might do something, I saw the words "I will heal" flash before my eyes. Later, I asked the team-mate about her friend's eye problem. She told me she's nearly blind and though she's been treated numerous times, there's no procedure to fix it. Her limited vision means she'll never be able to drive or do a lot of things most of us take for granted.

That night I had a vision. Around midnight, I woke up. God showed me an image of the girl with the eye problem. It was something like watching a short video. In the vision I saw bandages being placed on her eyes and the the words "three days." I asked God if this indicated her healing and He said, "yes". I wrote a note explaining what God had told me about her condition and the fact that He wanted to heal her. I hoped to give it to her at the district meet last year, but she wasn't there. I gave to her coach, who gave it to the girl. I haven't seen her since that day.

(Fast forward about a year) Now she's standing in front of me. I introduced myself and asked if she remembered the note from last year. She did. I recalled the day I saw her and what God told me about healing her. She was a little excited, but confessed, "I'm not religious". I smiled and said it didn't matter, God still wanted to heal her. I asked if I could pray with her. She said, "right now?" I said, "yeah, now."  I took her hand and spoke what God put on my heart. I asked Him to bless her in every possible way and restore her vision. It was short and quiet. I didn't want to make a scene.

On the drive home my daughter said, "I saw you praying with the girl who has the eye problems." It never occurred to me she may have been watching. I was busted. But she didn't give me a hard time about it. Everyone in my home has heard me talk about this girl and her healing for a year. She knows I have a tremendous burden to see her vision restored. She may have sensed it was by divine appointment that the last meet of the year was postponed twice so I could be there and finally pray with this girl. My daughter was glad I prayed for her. I think her fears are being resolved. That's good, because I think she may be following in my footsteps one day.

The last story is about one of those everyday things that became an encounter with God. I'm fortunate to go to a church where the pastors are real people. They have cell phones. They answer them when people call. I can even send a text message and they reply to me. I like that. I even harass them on Facebook and they give it right back to me. I haven't attended this church very long, but for some strange reason I feel like these guys actually care about what's going on in my life. It's the first church I've ever attended where I have direct access to leadership. They don't have secretaries or a layer of people insulating them from the flock. I'm still a bit shocked by this.

We get together about once a month or so for coffee to get caught up on things. Today I was with Dennis Teague, Bill Coultas and Matt Evans. Dennis is the primary pastor, but does a lot of missionary work overseas. Bill functions in various leadership roles in the church . Matt is a friend who has fun going out in public and watching God do miracles. He writes the blog about awesome and bizarre God stories listed on this page under "My Blog List". These guys love to pray for people.

As I ordered coffee and a sandwich I noticed the young woman taking my order was wearing a sling on her arm. Inquiring minds want to know...."So why are you wearing the sling?" My usual line of questions revealed a rare condition; she has no connective tissue in her shoulder. The ligaments, tendons and cartilage are missing. Bone on bone. That must hurt. She said she was scheduled for another surgery in a few weeks. (Not if I have anything to do with it) I watched as she made my coffee and rang up the bill with her one good arm. And my heart began to hurt for this sweet person. We had to do something.

I got back to the table with the guys; a group of men who collectively have probably witnessed over a thousand miracles of healing. Dennis and his son prayed for a guy years ago who was raised from the dead. I told them about the gal who took my order. I asked them to join me in praying for her. It was like asking a golden retriever to go after a floundering duck. After eating lunch and engaging in some heavy duty vision-casting we asked our waitress to have the injured woman come to our table. When she arrived I introduced our panel of experts and shared with the guys a few things I'd learned from her while she took my order. I asked if she was looking forward to the surgery. She said she'd do anything to avoid it. I asked if we could pray for her to be healed. Her eyes lit up with excitement. "Yes, I'd love it!"

We had her step a close as she could to the table, all of touched her hand or part of her arm. We prayed in our own way. She was deeply touched that a group of strangers would bother to see her need and intercede for her. With tears in her eyes she thanked us and promised to tell us the results when we came back.

It isn't hard to pray for people. OK, it's a little slow getting started. And at times you won't feel like doing it. There will always be doubts and excuses. I'd encourage you to push past all this stuff and look for people who have a need for healing. Take 2 minutes and build a quick bridge of trust. Take 20 seconds and pray for them. Leave the healing and the relationship issues in God's hands. You'll probably never regret praying for anyone. You'll always regret it when you don't.

Oct 26, 2009

Training For a New Level of Healing

It's a little over a month before God pours out the Holy Spirit on Olympia. The voice in the night warned me to stay here and wait for it. I expected to hear news of revival in other areas by now and thought that was why I was told to stay put. Perhaps the revival will begin here. If you're not aware of the message I'm referring to you can review it here.

I've had so many dreams in which I'm praying for people to be healed. God keeps hammering away at this issue. The coming revival must be a move in which we're going to see a lot of healing miracles.  Right now I'm in training. I hope you are too. I had another dream on October 23rd. This happens to be one month before the date that God said my friend Scott would be healed of Lou Gehrig's disease. I know He said it would happen  November 23rd, but I don't know the year. Please pray for him to be healed this year.

In the dream I was with another medic who looked like a friend named Kevin from AMR. We seemed to be working together as partners in King County. There was a new set of protocols he was teaching me about. We had a patient with a dislocated shoulder. He showed me a (mysterious - non-existent) device we put on the patient that immediately reduced the dislocation. We didn’t give the patient anything for pain, or even start an IV. It happened very quickly. The medic seemed very confident and comfortable in this new approach to treatment. I can only interpret this as God’s way of illustrating a new thing He wants me to do. The county we worked in was King County -  symbolizing this is a Kingdom of God thing. Healing severe orthopedic injuries in the rig is way outside my comfort zone right now. How do you explain to a base station Doc that you just reduced a dislocated shoulder with prayer and want to leave the patient at home? Never done it, so if God wants me to do it without soiling my uniform pants,  I need some training. I'm glad He's able to run me through a few practice scenarios in my dreams. Funny thing about God's practice scenarios is, I never fail!

The dream scenario was about learning a totally new set of protocols. A set means plurality. As in, there are many new things God wants me (may I say us?) to do. The shoulder reduction is just one of them. Who knows what other amazing miracles God wants to show us in the future. I've had several visions about resurrections....come ON! You know you want to see at least one!! Well then start praying for it. Ask God to make you one of the people who will show his wonderful works in the coming revival. And seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness - everything else you need comes as a result of that.

Colon Cancer Healed

This story was aired by channel 7 news in Spartanburg, South Carolina in April 2009. The patient, Bill Pitts was completely healed of stage IV colon cancer. His doctor had no medical explanation for it, humbling suggesting it was probably God.

Angel Visits Girl in Hospital

This is a news story from last December aired on WFMY news (Channel 2) in North Carolina.

Oct 25, 2009

My Friend Katie

About a month ago I transported one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Her name is Catherine; she goes by Katie. She gave me permission to tell her story. I picked her up at St Clare hospital in Lakewood, Washington. She came to the ER with nausea, vomiting and symptoms of a general illness. Her white blood cell count was off the charts. She was being transferred directly to the University of Washington with a tentative (new) diagnosis of leukemia.

She seemed tired during the 45-minute trip. I decided to let her rest. She slept some, but tossed and turned trying to deal with the symptoms while lying on the narrow gurney as we bounced down the freeway. Five minutes before we arrived, I woke her up. I told her I believed God would heal her of this disease and asked if I could pray with her. She began to get tears in her eyes, which made me begin to cry. We spent these few minutes holding hands, asking for God’s healing power and love to be poured out upon her life, and crying.

What amazed me about this woman? It was the boldness of her faith. Here she was with a new diagnosis of leukemia and with firm conviction she spent the rest of her time with me declaring the greatness, love, mercy and goodness of God. That’s something I rarely see. She’s become a great inspiration to me.

Katie said one of the nurses tucked a note in her sheets before we left the hospital. We searched the ambulance but didn’t find it. She was disappointed, but I found it the following day. I wanted to give it back to the nurse. That was a bit tricky, because I wasn’t certain who she was. God led me to her. When I told her about the trip, we both began to cry. She’s going to give the note to Kate in person when she sees her again.

I’ve been praying for Katie’s healing with my wife. We asked a few friends to join us through a prayer ring on Facebook. I’m convinced she’ll be healed one day. But even if she isn't I've made a new friend. Praying for people has many different outcomes. At times it's a healing, other times is an encouraging moment for someone who needs it. Sometimes a lifelong relationship begins. You never know what will come of it. Here’s Katie's story from the two e-mails she sent me:

(Oct 7th)
Hi Dave,
I don't know if you remember me, but you took me from St Clare's to UW Seattle by ambulance at the beginning of September.  I had been diagnosed with leukemia.  I am getting better every day, although I am still not back at work.  Perhaps I will be able to return next week or so.  My blood levels are becoming stable and I have so much love and prayer surrounding me that I know I will be fine soon.
As I was saying my prayers today, I read the following and thanked God for you and all I have met.  I thought I would share it with you. 
"All your movements, your goings and comings, controlled by Me. 
Every visit, all blessed by Me. 
Every walk arranged by Me. 
A blessing on all you do, on every interview.
Every meeting not a chance meeting, but planned by Me. 
All blessed.
Not only now, in the hour of your difficulty, but from this time forth and for evermore."
You remain in my prayers.......God bless,  
Catherine Picard

(Oct 14th )
Hi Dave,
While my given name is Catherine and some people do use that name, others call me Katie, a nickname given me by my father.  
Your response to my e-mail was humbling to say the least.  I am now back at work, although my hours are very varied.  I would love to see you again and give you a great big hug of thanks.  If the nurse at St. Clare's wishes to contact me, you are free to give her my e-mail or phone number.  I have often wondered what the Lord had to say to me in her letter, but He must have thought I would need the words later rather than at the time. Of course you may tell or post my story to anyone where and with whom you think it might make a difference.  We are all here for the same purpose, to bring each other to the Lord.  However, if you have a prayer network, I will ask that you also include my mother and father.  My father has Alzheimer's rather badly.  My parents live in California and my mother is without much of a support network.  They need prayer more than I.  
How are your friend with Lou Gehrig's disease and his family doing?  They remain in my prayers also.
I look forward to seeing you again.  I'm sorry I missed you at Fred Meyer, but I am back now, hopefully full time.  My days off are usually somewhere in the middle of the week, although that changes with the company schedule.  I am difficult to contact at home as my hours, as I said are so varied, but you may call and leave a message or e-mail me at any time.

In Christ,  Katie Picard

Oct 23, 2009

Just Not Myself - Reacting to Error

Yesterday was a nightmare...I never saw it coming. (some prophet, huh?) This post is from the point of view of the guy I turned into while driving to work yesterday. It's gonna sound different because I wasn't myself yesterday. I'm glad crap like doesn't happen every day.

I arrived at work 20 minutes early - that's weird. I'm never early. Wait - let's back up...

I woke up at 4:15am and couldn't go back to sleep. There I was wide awake...what the heck? After 45 minutes of staring at the ceiling I got up, made coffee and logged in to Facebook.

(fast forward)
When I surveyed the parking lot, I noticed my shiny new rig idling and the mechanic outside talking on the phone...Crap! This is not good! Darin (the Sup de jour) gave me the bad news.
Time for an oil change.

Well, it could be worse. Oil changes are quick, Glen can do them in less than an hour - so maybe we'd only be in a back up rig for a short time. I can deal with that : )

Clocked in, coffee in hand, we were told to line up for H1N1 vaccinations. I seriously thought about bailing on it - I haven't had the flu since I played with pterodactlys in the sandbox....but I caved in. (I hate peer pressure)

After milling around for 30 minutes and not getting close to the front of the line, dispatch told us we had an interfacility call...crap! Darin tossed us the keys to the POS back up and told us yesterday's crew moved all our gear over last night...should be good to go....honest.

My partner rolled his eyes in disgust...the seat-belt light glowed dimly, while the engine quietly slept. Crap!! Someone left the battery switch on. Darin told us to have the mechanic (still talking on the phone) to give it a jump. We advised dispatch of the problem, they called the hospital and delivered the news of our delay. 15 minutes later we're under way...late.

We're not used to running late. We usually arrive early, the paperwork isn't ready, the patient isn't ready and no one's called report to the receiving facility. We can bank on 20 minutes of boredom. Sometimes I do 'hot laps' around the hallways, praying for random patients or irritating the nurses with bad humor. The nurse behind the desk was on the phone getting her butt chewed out by the doc who was doing the procedure on our patient. She promised him we were loading him and about to leave. She gave us a quick report, tossed us the paperwork and asked us to hurry as politely as she could.

I did everything on the way - the 5 minute transport was just long enough to get a couple sets of vitals, an EKG, a quick history and ask the patient what was going on. He was very helpful, and even mentioned that the urologist who was doing the procedure called him on his cell phone and bitched him out this morning for not being there earlier. They set up the transfer for last night, because the procedure was slated for early morning, but they rescheduled the transfer. The irate doc called the staff and the patient and threatened to cancel the procedure. Just amazing, I love people who act that way.

After that transport we hoped to go back to the barn and switch out of our pre-Cambrian meat wagon. No such luck. We went to the west side instead to cover another rig's area. The brilliant idea to do a rig check hit my partner. We found the portable and main oxygen tanks bone- dry....Nice. A call to dispatch and we on our merry way back to the barn. We changed out the empty tanks and moved our gear into our normal rig. Our shiny new one had a couple of gallons of new oil waiting to be broken in.

My partner is a good guy. Sometimes his thorough-osity irritates me. (Don't ask if that's a real word) His inspection of the portable o2 tank on the gurney? Stone cold dead. Crap!

It was just the beginning.

We found 12 pillows stuffed under the bench seat. I'm not sure how the guys on the other shift party, but apparently the feathers fly when they get excited. We had (as usual) one backboard - without straps. The garbage can in back was bloated bag of refuse, spilling it's vile contents on the floor. We found no de-fib pads in the monitor and no idea what our predecessors planned to do if they had a code. There was a key broken off in the door of the main o2 compartment. This is becoming legendary. Braun, in their infinite wisdom switched to a spring loaded lock cylinder last year. All the new rigs come with an exciting new "feature". If you don't jam the key all the way into the lock and properly depress the spring mechanism, the key snaps off when you turn it. We've broken off about a dozen keys on our rig alone. Finger pointing is at an all-time high.

Our second patient was...'interesting' We were told by dispatch she lived on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex that had no elevators - only an outside stairwell. They were sending another unit with us to help carry her up the stairs. On scene we were warned by the nurse that she was demanding, controlling, pushy, refused to have male nurses in her room and 'fired' some of the female nurses during her short stay. Our informant added this gem to the rap sheet; "she was no stranger to narcotics". YAY!

I broke out a bottle of Rico Suave aftershave, lit a few candles and sauntered into her room - determined to win her over. It worked...she feel in love with us. We had a fairly decent trip with one irritating exception. She had a beautiful vase of flowers (lillies) that we brought along. In carrying them I somehow got orange pollen all over the front of my uniform shirt. It remained there the rest of the shift. About a dozen people were kind enough to ask what happened. I rolled my eyes in disgust.

Coming out of the hospital with the patient, I shook my head in unbelief. Some nucklehead from AMR parked his rig 4 feet behind ours. How the heck were we supposed to load our patient. Don't their gurneys need the same loading space ours do? The EMT shot me a look and asked if he should back up. I said, "I don't know, what do you think?"

Our next transport was a bariatric. Thankfully, it only required us to swap out gurneys. We grabbed the 'wide load' bed and put it in the rig. My partner's obsession with oxygen bottles continued and (drum roll, please).....the tank was empty. The gurney had no pillow and no blanket. A microscopic exam of the mattress revealed every bacteria known to man. Who knows if it had been cleaned in the last month. Our frustration went into high gear. We cursed the lazy worthless slobs we worked with who couldn't manage to do a single friggin' thing right. Dropping off our (very nice) bariatric patient at dialysis, we maneuvered the wide gurney into the room. A nurse poked her head into the room and sheepishly asked if we wanted help. I said, (a bit sarcastically) "I don't know, what do you think?"

(Warning - rant ahead)
OK...we have a bariatric patient. That means they're around 300 lbs, minimum. A lot are 400 - 500 lbs. Some are over 650 lbs. Why does a nurse think for one minute we're going to refuse lifting help? Get your butt in the room and help us! It's a constant source of irritation for us... people who can't or won't do heavy lifting. We pretty much stopped asking for lifting help at the dialysis unit a long time ago. All we every got was attitudes and excuses. A lot of hospital floors are the same way. People disappear every time a large patient shows up. We come to their floor and like cockroaches when you turn the lights on, people scurry for a hiding place.

We have a few EMT's working for us who request an extra unit to assist in lifting when the patient weighs 175 lbs. Two people who can't lift a patient that weighs 175?? No, I'm not kidding....it's becoming a lot more common. Why are these people even doing healthcare? EMS isn't for everyone. Maybe you like the lights or the drama. Maybe it's driving fast. None of that matters. The job involves lifting and carrying people who are disabled. Some are very big. If you need help every time because you can't or won't lift someone, you're a liability. There are other jobs that don't require heavy lifting. Perhaps you'd be better suited in one of them.
(End of rant)

Coming out to our rig, we noticed a shuttle van parked behind us. Yes, we were parked in the shuttle loading area. I'm sorry, but I think ambulances qualify as shuttles, even if we don't have a wheelchair lift. The shuttle was parked exactly 5 feet off our rear bumper. As we approached with our gurney, a woman materialized out of thin air. She introduced herself as the supervisor who was training the new shuttle driver. She sweetly apologized for his park job. Her smile gave away something of what really happened. (at least in my bewildered mind)

(10 minutes earlier) She explained to the newbie, "The ambulance needs exactly six feet of space to unload their gurney. They are not a shuttle van and thus they have no right to park where they did. Do you understand? Good, as you park the van, I want you to leave exactly five feet of space between our vehicle and theirs."

I waited for my partner to go back inside and get the signature he forgot. Sheesh! The shuttle van prepares to leave. I can't believe what I'm watching in the mirror. The van has at least 50 feet of room to back up before they leave. Instead, the driver cuts the wheel away from the curb and creeps forward in his attempt to merge. He crawls within a couple inches of my rear bumper...I can't watch, I close my eyes and brace for impact.
He clears my bumper without hitting me. I'm simply amazed. Stupidity reigns in the heart of men...I just want to go home.

I call dispatch and remind them I need my flu vaccine. They send us to the barn, I snort the vaccine up both nostrils and quickly leave as the stuff drips down the back of my throat...yum.

We get a call to the homeless shelter for a dude with a massively swollen arm. Been like that for a month. Had a DVT a month ago...looks like he still has it. He tells the fire guys his story, they relay it to us. We begin the drive...6 blocks to the hospital. Vitals are good, sats are great. On the way the guy decides to add a few more pieces to the puzzle...diabetic, CVA, heart problems...yada yada. We check his sugar - almost 500...thanks a lot for sharing, pal. I can just hear them now...why didn't you start an IV?? Why didn't you blah blah blah?? 30 seconds to arrival.

Call the ball...

We did our best to tell the story we had so far. But the dude kept changing it. He told us he was taking insulin, but told the nurse he wasn't. Then he told them he wasn't taking his coumadin or any of his medications. He tossed us under the bus. My partner rolled his eyes with disgust once again. I told him don't worry - he's gonna change the story again when the doc sees him and make the nurses look like idiots. If he sees someone else like a specialist, the story changes again. Guys like him make a career out of telling everyone a different story so we all look like morons.

On the way out the door the nurse asked us if we checked out his breath sounds. "Wow, I've never heard such junky sounds in my life, what did you guys hear?" My EMT informed her that our stethoscope was missing an earpiece and a bloody eardrum awaited anyone who used it. I went in a different direction. I thought the lifters in the engine needed adjustment based on the loud tapping sound I kept hearing in the background. I don't know, maybe we should have started him on Levaquin.

The end of shift was fast approaching. Just when I thought the nightmare was over, we had one more problem. Some dingleberry parked a back-up rig in our spot. We have numbers for our rigs stenciled on the ground in front of the parking spaces. It's management's way of bringing it down to the 3rd grade level of personal accountability most of us operate at. But apparently it's too complicated for some. I fetched the keys, once again trying to fix a problem created by lazy mope. To my dismay, the back-up rig (a different one from this morning's fiasco) wouldn't stay running. It turned over, but when I let go of the ignition key, it died. Maybe I could back it up, holding the ignition key on and grind the starter to a burnt lump of metal! Crap!

I went inside & broke the happy news to the supervisor. He rolled his eyes in disgust. 15 minutes later the offending unit was extricated from it's wrongful location and I backed my rig in. Thank God for the end of this day. I didn't pray for a single patient. I did feel like strangling half the people I work with. I prayed that God would never again let me suffer through a shift like this.

I asked God what happened today. The answer is this: I gave a co-worker some advice the day before about reacting to the situations around us. Today I was given an opportunity to walk out my words of advice. It wasn't easy. The advice came from a man I respect greatly; Bill Johnson. He said (paraphrasing) "If you react to error, you won't arrive at truth, but another error. As long as error is your starting point, you're going to end up going in the wrong direction. We are not designed to react to error - but to respond to truth."

I spent an entire day reacting to the errors of other people. It frustrated me to no end. I could have chosen, as I often do, to seek God's truth in every situation and respond to it. Today I chose to react instead of respond. I hope I never make that mistake again.

Oct 21, 2009

I Prayed – Can I Be Fired?

I’m hanging out in the OR today trolling for intubations. I have about an hour or two between cases, so I thought I’d share some tips on praying for patients. It’s a common concern most of us have when we think about praying for our patients - can we get in trouble if we pray for people on the job? In this post I’ll offer my own experiences and observations along with some information for legal help if you ever need it.

When God challenged me to begin praying for my patients, I had a lot of anxiety over it. I wasn’t afraid to pray silently. That doesn’t take a lot of faith. It was the idea of asking a stranger if they wanted me to pray with them that terrified me. I was also afraid someone would notice, complain to a manager and get me in trouble.

First let’s look at the issue of asking a stranger about prayer. When I began to ask patients about prayer – I wasn’t prepared for what I found. I couldn’t believe how many people not only welcomed prayer, but were deeply touched when I asked. Many people cried tears of joy simply because a stranger thought to ask. This might be due to the fact that western culture views prayer as a private matter, that’s intensely personal. When we take a personal experience and share it publicly, it tends to bring a lot of emotion with it. I’ve even been surprised at how many non- believers, atheists, and people of other faiths who wanted me to pray for them.

In the last year I’ve probably prayed in public for over 1,000 people. About half of these were on the job and half were at stores and other public places off -duty. I’ve prayed for a few hundred more in church settings. That’s right – I pray for many more people outside a church setting than inside. I can only remember two or three people who declined prayer when I asked them. Keep in mind, I live in the pacific- northwest where church attendance is the lowest in the nation. My advice is this; if you’re afraid people don’t want prayer – you’re wrong. I believe many more people are willing to receive prayer than you think. This is especially true when the patient believes they are in dire straits.

The second question is more problematic, but I can report good news. I was called into my manager’s office one day to discuss praying with my patients. A nurse in one of the ER’s saw me praying with a patient and filed a complaint with her manager. Her boss and mine had a talk about it. It’s a bit ironic that this happened in a Catholic hospital. I work for one of the largest private ambulance services in the country. In asking around to his bosses what he was supposed to do about the complaint – my manager revealed some startling news to me. None of the managers in our company can recall ever having to deal with the issue of someone praying openly for a patient.

In the meeting I explained that God asked me to pray for the people I transport. The subject of how I actually heard from God didn’t come up. (Whew!) I told him I always ask permission before I pray. I actually ask both God and the patient. And yes, sometimes God say “don’t bother”. I told my boss that I always respect the wishes of those who say no. He said our company had no policy regarding prayer on the job and nothing is in the works to my knowledge. My manager’s position was very reasonable. His only concern was to avoid behavior that would generate complaints from our customers. He respected my convictions about prayer. He said I’m allowed to continue praying for patients under two conditions; first, I have to ask permission and second, I agreed to confine it to the back of the ambulance. Although in practice, the second provision is more difficult to do.

I recently had an intubated patient on a vent that I was taking directly to surgery for a risky procedure. She developed a pneumothorax in the ICU. When the doctor inserted the chest tube, he accidentally punctured her lung and the trochar became embedded in the lung. She went downhill and was sedated, intubated and placed on a ventilator. We transferred her to the trauma hospital for emergency surgery. During the transfer between hospitals I asked if she wanted me to pray with her and she nodded in agreement. We prayed in the rig. But when we were on the elevator inside the hospital, with 2 firefighters and 2 nurses looking on, she suddenly grabbed my hands with hers and made a motion as if we were praying. I asked if she wanted to pray and she frantically nodded her head. So I got to pray with her in front of a few surprised people. I told my manager about it. He was cool and didn’t seem to be concerned.

Most fire departments and hospitals have some type of chaplain service for their customers, even hospitals with no religious affiliation. Becoming a part of the existing service may open doors for you to ministry. The fact that we have these services reveals a belief that the spiritual needs we have are real and meeting those needs is a legitimate part of the service we provide to the public. I’d like to know how an organization that advocates spiritual care in one sense, can reprimand people for providing it in the normal duties of their job. The government provides these services in it’s corps of military chaplains that serve our troops all over the world. There is no reason to think that we should receive disciplinary action because we pray for people who request it. And there’s no reason to believe that any special training or certification is necessary either. Although western culture holds college degrees and ordination in high regard, there’s no biblical basis to believe these things qualify us for service. Jesus used simple, uneducated people to work miracles of healing. We should follow that example today.

One fear we have is that of suffering discipline for praying with a patient. I had that fear and it proved to be unfounded. I’m not saying you won’t catch some flak from your boss – it’s certainly possible. But the constitution guarantees us certain rights that we don’t surrender when we clock in for work. There is no legal basis for discipline of employees who pray for their patients. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is a non-profit law firm that defends people who are persecuted and disciplined for carrying out their religious convictions in the workplace. They often oppose the ACLU in discrimination cases and they’ve had a lot of favorable rulings in this arena. It’s illegal to discipline employees for praying in the medical setting, and the courts know it. If you think you need legal help, you can find their contact information on the web.

I don’t advocate militant or defiant behavior concerning prayer. Romans 13 tells us to respect the authorities placed over us and that includes supervisors at work. Humility and a spirit of cooperation go a long way. God opens doors and changes people’s hearts. I do a lot of prayer in the area of asking God to grant me favor with people as I step out in faith and pray for the sick. If God wants you to pray, He’ll generally make the way safe for you, though you’re almost certainly going to encounter a few problems now and then.

I had a dream a few months ago about this situation. In the dream, I was on the run from the enemy and took refuge in a hospital. I wore scrubs and blended in with the staff. I slept in a bedroom on the top floor of the hospital where the resident rooms were located. I was there for days. Occasionally an agent of the enemy showed up. When I saw them, I’d pull a surgical mask over my face and duck down a hallway or get on an elevator. As long as I didn’t draw attention to myself, the enemy never noticed me or caused problems. This was a dream of major revelation to me. It was God’s way of telling me that I was protected and given favor in the setting in which I worked. I could pray for my patients with confidence as long as I didn’t make a scene or draw attention to myself. I think we are a lot safer than we believe in the realm of praying for our patients and I believe God will reveal strategies and obstacles if you ask Him.

I’d like to ask a few questions for consideration. If its God’s desire to heal and healing comes as we step out in faith and pray for people – is there someone who might want to stop us from praying? What kind of tactics might he use to prevent us from accomplishing God’s plan? Would our fear of praying and disciplinary action be something the enemy would create to prevent us from working with God? Is it possible that our fears are without a legitimate basis?

I’d encourage you to pursue God’s heart for your situation. Ask the Lord if you’re supposed to be praying for your patients. Look for opportunities to test the waters. If you begin praying with patients, expect to see a few miracles. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t. It was only through many months of praying like crazy that I finally started to see a few testimonies of healing. The nature of our job doesn’t always allow us to follow up with people. Some people are healed immediately, but don’t realize it. Some are healed weeks or months later. Don’t give up. God is faithful. He will honor your obedience, in time.

Oct 20, 2009

Distractions, Dreams and a Surprise Healing

When the weather turns cool, cloudy and wet in the northwest - our call volume usually drops off. I'm still waiting for the change. It was a busy weekend on my unit. I've been drinking a lot of coffee to help keep me going. Somehow it's losing it's effect. I find myself very tired in the middle of the day, dozing off while sipping a cup of Starbucks - I hate that.

Friday was busy. We ran steady most of the day. I had a lot of distractions - people calling me asking me to fix their problems. Being a people- pleaser by nature, it's difficult to say no. Even when I'm swamped with other things. I came home with a headache at the end of shift. My usually social attitude turned inward. Soon after getting home I crashed on the bed. Saturday was a repeat. When we weren't running calls, we were driving all over town covering for other units. I had a lot of phone calls again, with people wanting help for various problems. I came home with another headache.

I don't often have headaches. I knew something had changed for the worse. It was time to identify and remove the problem. Saturday evening at bedtime, I heard God telling me all the phone calls and hassles of the last two days were distractions coming from the enemy. Hmmm...really?

He reminded me of the story of Elijah and Elisha. The student and mentor were going to be parting ways. Elisha's request was a double dose of miracles. Elijah said, "If your eyes are on me when I leave - it's yours". The day Elijah left was a day of constant distractions. A gang of prophets began bugging Elisha -telling him his master was about to check out. He told them to shut up. Elijah repeatedly tried to ditch Elisha. "Hey, you stay here, while I go to such and such a place" Elisha never left his master. Then God sent a chariot of fire out of heaven. It must have been awesome to watch - but Elisha's eyes were on Elijah. Then suddenly, Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind. Because his eyes were fixed on his master, Elisha received the mantle and his request for a double portion of miracles. (See 2 Kings 2)

God told me to keep my eyes fixed on Him because He is moving. Jesus was always on the move, going from town to town. That's how God is, always moving. He's about to make a major move in the northwest. A tremendous wave of His presence will soon hit us. Miracles of healing and signs and wonders will increase and many will come to know God in the coming season. But I have to put aside the distractions of the enemy and keep my eyes focused on the Lord.

I prayed for a few of my patients this weekend. I didn't see any of them miraculously healed. I met an amazing older woman who has a lot in common with me. She receives revelation from God about people's medical problems and believes many of the conditions we suffer from are spiritual and emotional in origin. We transported her husband home. He's suffering from a potentially life-ending condition. She told me he's ready to go home to be with God. She asked me to pray at his bedside and tell her if I saw anything indicating healing, or a home-going. As I prayed I saw the heavens open, with a large black cross silhouetted by brilliant white light behind it. I believe it indicates he'll be going home to heaven soon.

Sunday night I had a dream. I didn't remember this one until I was driving to work Monday morning. It was about a co-worker (Teresa) who sent me an e-mail. I remember opening the e-mail in the dream, but I don't remember what the message was. When I got to work, I told my partner about the dream. He looked at me with a smile and said "Well, Teresa did send out an e-mail last night". I said, "Are you kidding me?" He said, "Nope, she was asking crews to stop stealing food from other people's quarters." I checked my e-mail after he told me this, and sure enough, there was one unopened e-mail in my inbox, from Teresa. I believe God gave me this dream to show my partner something about dreams and God's ability to give us information in advance.

Finally - I witnessed an amazing healing yesterday. While lifting a patient onto the gurney, I pulled a muscle in my back, between my shoulder blades. I felt a sharp pain, then the muscle tightened and began to spasm after the lift. My partner knew something was wrong by the look on my face. After getting the patient situated, we had to raise the gurney from the lowered position to the highest. He suggested we switch ends to make the lift easier for me. During the lift, I felt some dull pain. I began to envision a couple of days of Advil and lying on cold packs waiting to feel better. Then a few more days of lying on a heating pad. Dang! I hate that.

But as we left the patient's room I noticed the pain was suddenly gone. I flexed in every direction and felt no pain at all. I was pain-free the rest of the shift and this morning there's still no sign that I was ever injured. I've suffered so many injuries like this over the years, I can't count them all. But yesterday, God healed me instantly - and I never even asked for it!

That's a wrap for my weekend. I met some wonderful people, did a fair amount of vision-casting between calls and built a few bridges. God is awesome - always moving and wanting to heal, sometimes in unexpected ways. He's always speaking, even if we aren't listening. He's always in love with the people we transport. We need to let them know that.

'till next time -

Oct 15, 2009

Healing at Home - Body, Soul & Spirit

Last weekend was my weekend off work. I’ve been praying for about 3 or 4 patients a day when I’ve been on duty. I didn’t see any miracles of healing last week, but patients I pray with are beginning to write and share their stories. I’ll be posting one in a day or so. I spent a busy weekend around the house with my wife and kids. God decided to do a few cool things at home last weekend.

I know we humans are a three-fold being; body, spirit and soul. But think I suffer from spiritual amnesia. I often forget about the reality of the spiritual dimension and the fact that my spirit is the most important part of my being. I don’t like the fact that I’m involved in a constant spiritual battle. But that's a fact of life I'm learning to accept. This is a discussion about the body, spirit and soul and how the problem of pain is treated in each one.

My daughter came home from swim practice on Saturday with pain in her ribcage. We thought she may have muscle strain from the long workout. A year ago I would have grabbed the Advil and a glass of water. I don’t do that anymore; it’s not the way I roll. Because of what I’ve seen in the last year, my first reaction to everyday injuries is different. I knelt beside her with my eyes closed, placed my hand on her ribs and commanded them to be healed. Within a couple of minutes the pain was gone. God didn’t show me anything in the spirit.

The same day, my son Danny developed abdominal pain while doing homework. Lying curled up on the couch, unable to go on, he told me he was tired and felt sick all over. I walked over to him and closed my eyes, placing my hand on his abdomen. I saw a vision of something like a man wearing a black hood. It resembled someone dressed as an executioner. I commanded it to leave and spoke healing into his body. Within a minute or two the pain and all his symptoms were gone. He got up and continued doing his homework. About 30 minutes later he developed pain in the middle of his back. I repeated the process, again seeing a spirit and telling it to leave. We went through this same process with him about 6 months ago.

My son has many dreams of being in battle. God is constantly trying to sharpen his awareness of the spiritual battles in life. He had some visions in church this weekend. He began to ask God to show him some things to build his faith. He received some prophetic words about his spiritual gifts. The previous weekend an angel woke him up to tell him to write down a dream that he had. He’s growing in the spirit – it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the enemy would try to put the fire out. That’s the nature of the battle. God is always at work, helping us to grow but the enemy sends messengers of gloom, pain, or discouragement.

At the spiritual hunger conference a few weeks ago, I was healed of chronic shoulder pain. The woman praying for me asked if I was carrying a burden that wasn’t mine. As soon as she asked, the Holy Spirit showed me that I had allowed problems my wife had at work, to become my own problems. I unknowingly transferred the burden to myself and with it, the pain. I told Jesus I was sorry for carrying a burden that wasn’t mine, and released it to him. The pain in my shoulder was immediately gone and hasn’t returned. This was an issue of the soul, which is responsible for our mind, will and emotions. I was holding onto emotions of anger because of a situation my wife was dealing with at work. The emotion of anger cause a physical pain to be manifested in my body. Once the emotion was dealt with, the pain left. I suspect many people suffer chronic pain syndromes, like perhaps fibromyalgia, because of emotional issues that are never properly identified and resolved.

What I’ve noticed is that there are physical ailments with no apparent spiritual or emotional issue, as in the case of my daughter’s rib pain. It’s just a physical injury. These things can be healed with simple prayer. Advil will probably work, too - so would a cold pack - and yes, I still use them sometimes. But I'd much rather allow God to do it.

Then there are times when a physical problem has a spiritual or emotional root to be to be identified and dealt with. A pattern of recurring pain that leaves and returns or pain that occurs without injury should be suspect. The same is true for conditions in which multiple exams and testing reveals no physiologic cause for a condition. They should probably be treated as spiritual or emotional issues.

Sometimes God reveals a spiritual being that brings the condition with it. Spirits have no physical body - they prefer to hitch hike on us. Attitudes of the heart like sin, rebellion, bitterness, hatred , unbelief and many others provide a shelter for spiritual hitch- hikers and the pains and diseases they carry. It all gets transferred to us. We may need to get rid of a certain behavior or attitude to get rid of the critter and be healed. That makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but Jesus healed multitudes by removing demonic parasites. I believe he knew a little more than you or I do.

These things don't make sense to the natural mind, particularly if you're schooled in modern medicine's approach to healing. But there are spiritual laws in effect that aren't taught in med school. Spiritual laws (like gravity) are like natural laws; they can't be broken. Apparently one of the spiritual laws goes something like this; if you shoulder a burden that doesn't belong to you - it creates the same pain as if you were dragging a telephone pole around. In the natural, you would advise your patient to stop carrying heavy things around for no reason. Concerning the spirit we must do exactly the same thing.

I hope this post helps you grasp the realities of spiritual warfare a little better. It’s real, it’s all around us, and we have the tools to wage the war victoriously and win the battles. Awareness of the battle is the beginning of victory. I hope you win the battle you’re in today.

Oct 12, 2009

God's Plan for Healthcare Reform

I heard Randy Clark say recently, that he feels there's a "Mt Carmel showdown" coming between healthcare and God's power to heal. I believe he's right. The reference was to the battle for supremacy between The prophets of Baal and Elijah- the prophet of Jehovah. The story is told in 1 Kings 18. There had been a division in the land; confusion reigned over which deity was the most powerful God. Though greatly outnumbered, as the prophet usually is- Elijah persevered in the showdown and proved to everyone that his God, Jehovah was in fact the only God.

Healthcare is on the minds of nearly everyone in this season. There's constant discussion on capitol hill about reforming the nation's health care system. Many Americans have no insurance. Those who do aren't too pleased with how it works. I have a long list of aggravating problems that stem from the medical insurance my employer provides. Drug company profits are running high. Many would accuse them of duping doctors into following their greed- driven plan to steer healthcare further into a pharmaceutical fix for everyone. State of the art trauma care is simply not possible in many areas. Its far too expensive. And while breakthroughs have been made in cures for some diseases, drug-resistant diseases like MRSA and pandemics like H1N1 threaten to cripple our ivory towers of healing.

What will the future of medicine look like? I believe I've seen it, and it's a marvel to behold. God often reveals the future to us in dreams and visions. He showed me something in a dream last year that I believe was a small taste of what we're about to see in the near future. I posted the dream once before, but I'll post it again, because I now understand it's context better. This is the dream, taken from my dream journal:

I was walking through a St Joseph's Hospital in Tacoma. There were an incredible number of patients there – many of them were not being seen for a medical problem. They were just there to get a health check up. The patients were sitting in hallways and lobbies socializing and they were all excited about the same thing. They knew that miraculous healings were about to take place, and they wanted to have their healings documented by their doctors. I was seeing patients I had not seen in years. There was a joy I have never seen in a hospital. The air was buzzing with conversation – everyone wanted to have their present medical state verified by their doctor so when they were healed there would be proof of it.

I was very excited when I awoke from the dream, because I thought I'd be involved in a mass healing event. As I've reflected more on this dream and listened to what other prophetic voices are saying, I believe it involves much more than this.

First, I believe God actually took me in the spirit to this particular day in the future to show me what was about to happen. (Something like what the apostle John experienced when he wrote the book of Revelation, see John 16:13)
. I believe I was witnessing history in advance. Second, what had taken place was a paradigm shift. People were no longer coming to hospitals for healing - they were coming mainly to have their conditions documented by empirical testing. I didn't actually see anyone in the hospital who was there for treatment. The healing was firmly in the hands of God, and everyone knew it. What could have changed a long standing tradition like this? Why would people come to a major hospital and completely reject the idea that they could be made better; expecting only to have their conditions verified? Could it be there was an outpouring of miraculous healing on an unbelievable scale? Something like this must have happened to transform the expectations of so many people.

I think God is about to show the medical community its weakness like never before. Well, perhaps since the days Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem. Many prophetic voices have seen a world-wide revival coming. They know the power of the Holy Spirit is at issue in the coming season. It's about God's power to heal in unprecedented ways and in unbelievable numbers. And when God brings His healing to our streets, people will apparently have little need for hospitals, insurance premiums or pharmacies.

There are so many positive things that can come from such a move of God. His healing doesn't cost a penny. He doesn't bill insurance companies or require a co-pay and no one who operates in the gift of healing better be charging for it. Many incurable diseases will be dealt a death blow. There is no risk of infection to either the healer or those healed. There was a recent study published in JAMA pointing out that complications from medical procedures is the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. When God heals, He is able to heal body, spirit and soul - that means mental illness and emotional trauma as well as physical illness and injuries can all be healed. Finally, when God heals we all know it - and He's the only one we can give the praise to, and that's how it ought to be.

Am I just dreaming? There's only one way to find out. My money is on the Lord in the coming battle for supremacy in healthcare. Every one who is called by His name is able to heal. If every believer healed two or three people a day, we'd soon have no need for hospitals at all. That's a sobering thought. It may be a reality one day.

Oct 6, 2009

My New Heart

I’ve suffered from a heart condition called PSVT since 1985. The EKG strip above was recorded earlier this year. My heart rate was 208 beats per minute. My heart has an extra pathway that allows electrical impulses to flow through its conduction system at a very fast rate. It comes on for no apparent reason. When I was younger, I could make an episode go away by coughing or holding my breath. The last 3 episodes haven’t responded to it. I’ve been fortunate that they’ve happened at work and I’ve been able to manage them myself with help from a co-worker. I had to have IV medication (Adenosine) that stops my heart for a few seconds, allowing a normal rhythm to take over.

My condition is treatable with medication to control the heart rate or by having an ablation done, which destroys the pathway causing the arrhythmia. I’ve discussed treatment options with a cardiologist and an electrophysiologist. I’m around them professionally, but I've been reluctant to be examined by them, preferring to manage it myself. But the problem is getting worse as I get older. The symptoms are more severe and the usual methods of ending it no longer work. In the last year I became convinced that God wants to heal us of our medical problems. So I began to ask Him to heal my heart.

I attended the Spiritual Hunger Conference in Spokane on the last weekend of September, 2009. My wife and I went there hoping to be healed of some chronic neck and back pain. My heart condition never crossed my mind. On Friday the 25th, a man was giving his testimony about the faithfulness of God in blessing him after he gave extravagantly of his finances. While he was speaking, God began to tell me to give a large donation tonight. I saw a vision of a credit card and silver and gold coins. I asked about a specific amount but God didn’t give me a number. I began to discuss the donation with my wife. As we talked about the amount, an episode of PSVT began. This time I wasn’t at work – there was no way I could fix it myself.

I tried coughing and holding my breath but it wasn’t working. My wife and some friends began to pray for me. I broke into a sweat and the pounding in my chest became very uncomfortable. A volunteer asked if I wanted them to call 911. I sensed God was trying to do something and the last thing I wanted was a visit to the ER. I told her no. About 20 minutes went by and nothing had changed. I began to hear God speak to me again about making a large donation. I sensed my healing was hovering over me and it would come when I took a step of faith. I told my wife to stop praying for me and put our credit card number on the donation envelope then write in a large amount. She asked the woman sitting next to her to take her place praying while she filled in the information on the envelope. I was watching her write and as soon as she filled in the dollar amount, the episode of PSVT ended. We all breathed a sigh of relief and gave a shout of praise to God. I had a feeling as though I was healed permanently of my condition.

But there’s more to the story.

After my heart rate slowed down, I noticed that my pulse was irregular. It wasn’t fast; it was just very irregular - like I’ve felt when checking the pulse on a patient in atrial fibrillation. I’ve never had an irregular pulse, not even an occasional skipped beat. But my pulse remained irregular the remainder of the night. As I pondered what might be causing it, I had a few questions for God. I told him I never had an irregular pulse before and wanted to know what was going on. His reply sounded something like this; “Are you telling me your old heart never had an irregular heartbeat? Maybe your heartbeat is different now because you have a new heart.” I was full of joy and wonder the rest of the evening. I knew I was healed and I believed it was permanent, could it be that God had really given my a new heart? When I went to bed after midnight, I checked my pulse and it was still irregular. When I awoke in the morning my pulse was normal again. I believe the irregularity of my pulse for several hours was a sign to let me know something in my heart had been permanently changed.

Jesus defeated Satan in the wilderness. He took his private victory and shared with all who would receive it. Its a spiritual principle that applies to other things. Having been given victory over heart disease, I can now share that victory with all my patients who have it. This week I prayed with a man who was going to have quadruple bypass surgery. We asked God to give him a new heart so he could avoid surgery. I'm waiting to hear his testimony.

I’d like to state that I don’t believe we can ‘buy’ healing from God. No amount of money or good works can secure divine healing; it’s an act of grace. All we can do is ask and receive. I didn’t know what the end result would be, nor did I even ask for my heart to be healed. I came to the conference for other health problems. But God knows which take priority and I’m happy to yield to his greater knowledge. Having said this, I also know that God rewards faithfulness and obedience – sometimes in unexpected ways. God asked me to make a donation and I responded. To my surprise, He healed my heart. Another surprise was waiting for me when I got home from the conference. I received an unexpected refund check from the state. It was for twice the amount we gave the night I was healed. God is faithful in all things.

Oct 5, 2009

Spiritual Hunger Conference

My wife and I attended the Spiritual Hunger conference the last weekend of September. We expected to see some cool things. We hoped to receive instruction and impartation. What we received was an incredible experience. It far exceeded our expectations. And it was more about giving than receiving. Bill Johnson was the keynote speaker, giving a message on the kingdom of God each of the first 3 days. I noticed something unique about him. During the opening night’s message, he mentioned the kingdom of God at least 20 times, but never mentioned the church once. I’m coming to realize there is a difference. I won’t go into it now, except to say that Jesus was a passionate teacher on the kingdom of God but only rarely mentioned the church. It’s worth thinking about.

I brought my guitar along hoping to get some practice in…what was I thinking? We left the hotel room early and came back late every night; tired, but spiritually stronger. I also brought along a few books. It’s not really a vacation unless you return home with clothes you didn’t wear and books you didn’t read. We were busy from morning ‘til night making friends, worshipping our hearts out, praying for the sick and prophesying. I was surprised at something God did to me during worship. I saw many people laughing, jumping and being uninhibited during the conference. I was kinda jealous. So God came after me with a feather and tickled me during worship. The spirit of laughter came over me repeatedly and I went into fits of uncontrollable laughing. The joy I experienced was greater than anything I’ve ever known.

I had a dramatic increase in visions while I was at the conference. For a long time, I’ve seen things in the spirit realm every time I closed my eyes. In the last month of two, I haven’t had many visions or words of knowledge. But at the conference my spiritual eyesight went into overdrive. I saw waves of power sweeping over the crowd during worship as well as a mist or fog settling over the crowd during a message. I saw a lot of heavenly scenes and demonic images. I became much more aware of nature of spiritual battle we are in.

We were involved in the ‘Treasure Hunt’ workshop Friday afternoon taught by Marc Buchheit. Having done them before, we were asked to lead a group who hadn’t. We spent a few minutes asking God for clues then set out. I had a couple of visions – a bend in a river with geese on it and two people, one with red hair and one with black hair. The river was right behind the conference center. One of our guys had an impression of flowers. There were hanging flower baskets on the bridge over the river that led to a park. We took off across the bridge and found my two women sitting in the grass on the other side of the bridge. We prayed with them for healing.

One of the men in our group, Robert had some very specific clues. He saw the Washington monument, an alligator purse and the word ‘patient’. We walked a block and came to Washington Street. We could see an optometrist office 2 blocks away and felt that was where the ‘patient’ might be. There was actually a sign above the door we entered that said, ‘patient entrance’. There were two women in the waiting room – both had alligator purses! The first woman didn’t want prayer, but the second one suffered migraines. After we explained what we were doing she let us pray with her.

We continued the hunt at a cafĂ©. We weren’t picking up any more leads so we decided to give our waitress some encouraging prophetic words that she gladly received. Friday evening was a special night for me. God healed my heart of the condition I’ve had for over 25 years. I’ll post my testimony about that when I collect all the evidence. We witnessed about 200 people healed each night at the conference. I wish I could say my wife and I were healed of our chronic neck pain, but we weren’t. She received prayer from many people that weekend. We met Cal Pierce, who prayed for her on Saturday night. She still has neck pain. But I believe we’ve heard from God about the timing of her healing, we believe its coming in November.

One of the main callings God has upon my life is healing. John Lake was one of the most prolific healers ever. He started the healing rooms; his grave in Spokane. Cal Pierce visited that site monthly before God called him to his present ministry. I heard the Lord tell me to go to Lake’s grave. He said He’d meet me there.

We clicked with a group of new friends; Robert whom we met on the treasure hunt and his son Jeramy and a woman named Gwendolyn. The five of us drove to the cemetery. We spent a few moments in silence seeking God’s presence at the grave site. Benni Johnson told an amazing story of waking up angels at strategic places. We decided to wake up a few angels at Lake’s grave, and yelled out WAKEY WAKEY!

The spirit of prophecy descended on the group. We spent the next 3 hours prophesying to everyone who came near us. People drove up one after another and parked, saying that God told them He’d meet them at the grave site. The company of prophets grew to about 10 or 12. As people left, a few more would arrive. We encouraged one another with dozens of words from God. As we put my wife in the center, people gave her the impressions they received from the Lord. I saw an image of a beautiful lighthouse and told her she was a bright light to those around her. As I was speaking a man drove up and parked. He told us he saw a bright column of white light coming from the center of our circle. He said, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it.” The five of us remained together for the rest of the conference. We went to lunch and dinner together and prophesied to the waitresses. Between speakers we sat in the grass outside the conference center and prophesied to friends and strangers.

As I left the hotel each morning, I heard about the continued flooding in the southeast US. Atlanta had 21 inches of rain fall in just a couple of days. God told me on Friday to make a prophetic declaration to stop the rain. I heard Him tell me again Saturday morning. I didn’t really believe in this kind of thing. Robert, Jeramy and Gwendolyn told me of some cool experiences they had making prophetic declarations about the weather. Bill Johnson said something Friday that gave me more confidence. He said, “When you’re hearing God’s voice and you declare what you hear from heaven, you become the voice of God. All creation obeys you.”

We decided to go for it.

Saturday morning we stood on the conference center lawn and declared an end to the rains in the Southeast. God’s been teaching me to command things to happen. I commanded the winds of change to move the low pressure system out to sea over the Atlantic Ocean. The others made similar declarations. When we checked the weather Sunday morning, we watched the radar loop with amazement. You could plainly see the storm front that had been stalled for weeks moving out to sea. Sunday’s forecast was for plenty of sunshine.

We went to the conference expecting to receive from others. Although we're young in the prophetic life, God used us often to bless others. That surprised us. We see ourselves as newbies who require more training and mentoring before we’re really able to be used in ministry. Apparently God doesn’t see it that way. It was amazing to see the hand of God moving in power as we stepped out and followed His lead. We’ll always be growing and learning and always be unaware of something until God shows it to us. We’ll always have need of spiritual fathers and mothers. But God can use us (and you) every step of the way. It’s an awesome adventure. We can’t wait to go back next year!

Oct 4, 2009

Set Free

She sat in a chair crying. Her tank-top revealed two arms covered with large bruises. We were called after she came to a clinic looking for help. When she mentioned that she cut her wrist intentionally, the receptionist called 911.

She poured out her heart to us over the next half hour, relating her long battle against alcoholism and drug addiction. She then turned to prostitution. It was the only way she could get money for the things she needed. Her life had become one long nightmare of abuse, neglect, addiction and numerous attempts to kill herself. “I’ve tried to kill myself so many times I can’t count them anymore.”

As I walked through the clinic door, I felt the presence of God arrive. That meant He had a strategy. I was no longer the lead paramedic, but His partner; trying to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. I sensed it was going to be an evangelistic assignment.

There are many models of personal evangelism used in the church; some lead a new convert in saying the sinner’s prayer, some explain the 4 spiritual laws, the ‘Romans road’ or the ‘good test’. I seldom use these approaches. They seem rigid and tend to assume a great deal about the person, which may not be true.

I see every encounter as unique. I prefer to let each relationship develop naturally, without a predetermined direction or goal, unless God has given me His strategy in advance. I let the Holy Spirit guide me in the right direction, set the pace and determine the issues.

Sometimes all I do is buy my new friend a cup of coffee and interpret a dream or give them a prophetic word. With others I might answer a few questions they have about God. Sometimes it’s a prayer for healing and a hug. I never really know where an encounter will lead.

When I’m with people who don’t have a relationship with God, I try to approach the situation with only one thing in mind; I know God loves them and want to give them one positive experience with Him. It may be the only one they ever have. I believe I owe that to everyone I meet.

As I listened to her story, I tried to gauge where she was at spiritually. In my mind I ran through a list of questions; How much did she know about God? How desperate was she for change? How did she feel about Jesus? Did she have any negative church experiences? Has God been speaking to her through dreams? Did she want to be delivered of demonic oppression?

In the ambulance, I could tell she was desperate and ready for a serious discussion about God. I told her there was only one thing that could change her life permanently. She beat me to the punch line and blurted out "It's God, isn't it?". In her spirit she knew what the solution was.

Most people in this place have serious identity problems. I spoke to her about the fact that she was created in God’s image, that she wasn’t created an addict or a prostitute and that God would restore her completely to the beautiful woman of strength and virtue she was meant to be. I hammered this topic for quite a while. I find it helpful to speak positively, lovingly and authoritatively against the negative things people believe and to declare the great things God says about them. It seems to break yokes of bondage.

Before we took her inside the hospital she said she wanted to have the new life that I'd told her about – and she wanted it now. I felt it was time to lead her in a simple prayer. This wasn't a time to remind her of her sinfulness. She knew how horrible her life had been. I didn't want to make it worse. We asked Jesus to come into her life and permanently change her in every way. We asked Him to remove her craving for drugs and alcohol and for the new, eternal life that He promised everyone who follows him.

It was a very special moment I’ll never forget. She became very peaceful and relaxed as we transferred her to the emergency room bed. She couldn’t stop thanking me for helping her. I love the way God opens doors.

Will she live free of these things in the future? I can't say. That's a limitation I live with. My influence is small, my time with a patient is short, and I seldom know what will happen years from now. I'm a sower of the seed - one who doesn't know what the harvest will look like.

Our nation is in a tight spot right now in regard to caring for people like my patient. A major problem in our society is the ineffectiveness of our mental health treatment. Most patients are in a revolving – door lifestyle that never ‘cures’ their condition. All we can offer them is medication – and if they stop taking it, they’re back through the revolving door again.

Most people with severe addictions and mental illness are unable to work and have no insurance other than what the government provides. And our government is fast running out of money.

What’s the answer?

Jesus. He's always been the answer. He is the great physician.

When Jesus heals, He doesn’t ask for an insurance card or a deductible. Prescription plans aren’t needed, only divine appointments, and the great physician is always available – He never takes vacations.