Month: June 2011

God and Science

Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind. – Albert Einstein

A few weeks ago, I underwent open heart surgery to replace my pulmonary valve. As a part of the protocol, I also went through four other cardiac procedures that were all designed to diagnose and correct various issues in my heart. I am also the owner of a Defibrillator, which was installed in my chest and will restart my heart should it stop for some reason.

This is not my first encounter with the marvels of medical science. I was born with a faulty valve in 1967 and because of a legendary doctor named Denton Cooley, I survived when most other children did not. In fact, there were five other children who had surgery on the same day as me. A girl from Romania and myself were the only survivors. At the time, Cooley’s approach to surgery on children was considered bold and brilliant.

I am a pastor of a church that most would call conservative and evangelical. We certainly place a high value on the Holy Scriptures, we pray for miracles, and we trust that God is in control of our lives. I also believe in the power of Science. Not because Science somehow trumps the sovereignty of the Almighty, but because, I believe science is the created expression of the God I follow.

When I realized surgery was inevitable, my first response was to pray. I told friends, my family and then I told my church family. Our first response was to pray. Then, I began to look for the best possible surgeons, cardiologists and hospitals. I ended up at a hospital that is considered the best in my state, my surgeon has over 30 years experience with my type of operation and my cardiologist is double board certified and uniquely qualified to care for my particular case.

I never once thought that embracing medical science was somehow denying my faith. I actually believed my faith was leading me into into good science.

On the morning of the surgery, my family gathered around my bed, prayed for me and then left for the waiting room. I never felt a moment of panic and fear. I was at peace because I knew my prayers had led me to the best care possible. My ultimate trust was not in the people wearing hospital scrubs, but in the God who had given them unique minds to understand and implement medical science.

I don’t remember talking with the hospital staff about church or theology before the surgery and I don’t think any of them knew I was a pastor. Afterwards, some of the local media reported on my surgery and then a few of them shared their faith with me. They all believed that God had led them into their field, so they could help people.

I realize there are some Christians who will judge me as someone with little faith. I will lose no sleep. These are the same people who drive across bridges without giving one thought to the miracle of engineering that is required for such convenience. They will also get on an airplane without any understanding of how a machine weighing many tons can lift off the ground.

We cannot admire some fields of science, while demonizing others. All of it is a gift from a creative God who formed each of us in the womb of our mother with special abilities. Science is not a replacement of God, but an expression of his complex and compassionate nature.

Could God completely heal my body, preventing me from a 6-week ordeal of surgery and recovery? Yes. There is plenty of documented evidence of God breaking into our fragmented bodies and restoring the broken places.

God also uses His own creations to bring healing to people. He uses technology, medicines, and the marvels of the human mind to bring Him the glory he deserves. He is the God of science, not the servant of science.

I am on the way to a full recovery. Looking back, I am thankful that God led me into the care of some great medical professionals. I am also thankful that God was with me every step of the way. I trust the wisdom of the prophet Isaiah who also saw God at work, even among those we call wise.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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The Shallow End of the Pool

After 15 years of serving as a pastor, I still get mildly aggravated when someone says they wish I would teach on deeper topics and not camp out so often on the stuff the mature already know. I do believe there are a handful of scholars sitting each week in a crowd our size and I can see their point. I have never been mistaken for Wright, Peterson or Nouwen, although I read their stuff. What most people are really saying is this: “Would you speak more often about the narrow list of topics in Scripture that I think are most important.”

I will pause here for a moment for you to repent. Selah.

When I stand before my fellowship, I see a big swimming pool, with a shallow end, a deep end and a kiddie pool off to the side. The shallow end is full of young, wide eyed, babies and toddlers. Some of them of them have those giant floaties that make their arms stick straight out. Their parents were wise enough to not take them down to the deep end and just throw them in the water. That would be at best foolish and at worse, lethal.

Most of these parents are expert swimmers who could easily navigate the deeper end, but they are actually content down in the shallow end, splashing about with the young they have produced, hoping the water will not frighten them away from an aquatic world of fun.

The kiddie pool off to the side is there for the very young who probably are years away from learning to swim. Most of them them are lugging around a diaper that’s as large as a Scion. They probably tried the shallow end, but all the amateurish splashing scared them away so they retreated to the safest of all places which was only few feet away.

Before you tell your pastor you want deeper teaching, consider a couple of questions.

1. When was the last time you brought a spiritual baby to church and saw them get the baby stuff for the first time? In fact, instead of asking your pastor for deeper teaching, go ask him who you could help teach. I promise he will have a long list of candidates for you to prayerfully consider helping.

2. Are you solely depending on a 30-40 talk once a week to go deeper? Because of the internet, we literally have millions of hours of study from the worlds best scholars. At New Life, we have small groups, an extension campus for Kings College and Seminary plus other classes taught by really smart people who tackle some of the deepest stuff imaginable.

Most pastors I know are fascinated by the deep topics and would love nothing more than to explore these with you each week. But the deep end is not for everyone, not yet. Because I am pastor of the expert swimmer and the toddler with the floaties and Scion diapers, I need to spend time in both ends of the pool every week. Splashing babies almost always become swimming adults, I promise.

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Surgery Update – Brady Comes Home

I finally checked out of a Denver hospital after 8 days and arrived home for continued recovery yesterday (June 17). It is really great to be with Pam and the kiddos and surrounded by the familiar sounds of my own home. Surgery to replace my pulmonary valve was successful. I now just have to get over the guilt of eating beef, since a cow’s aorta was used as the replacement.

Six days after my surgery, some additional tests were run and it was determined it would be best for me to have a Defibrillator, which was installed on the same day. This device simply corrects any rhythms that could be harmful to me in the future. It is better to have one and not need it, than to need one and not have one.

Thanks for all your prayers. Here are some requests for right now.

1. Pray that my body will receive the defibrillator without any complications or infections.

2. Pray that that my heart will adapt to the new and improved function and that my strength would increase.

3. Pray for Pam who to has to give me care.

I look forward  to seeing all of you soon. God bless.

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Heart Surgery Update

Thanks for all your prayers, Facebook posts, emails, text messages, Tweets, voicemails, and even the snail mail cards. I really appreciate all the encouragement as I move toward heart surgery this Friday. I am thankful for each of you, I promise. I, as well as Pam and the kids are completely at peace about this surgery and believe the best days are still ahead for all of us.

Some of you have asked how to specfically pray in the next few days and weeks, so here is a short list.

1. Pray for a smooth and unenventful pre-surgery procedure on Thursday. I will be in the Cath Lab of the hospital most of the day as they check the electrical functions of my ticker. Pray I get to go home with no complications.

2. Pray for the surgery on Friday, which begins at 1pm. Pray for the surgeons, the nurses, the anesthesiolgist, and anyone else who has a role in the surgery.

3. Pray for minimal pain in the recovery. The heart will be great, but the sternum needs to heal quickly so I can get back to normal routines, like walking, coughing, hiking, and preaching.

4. Pray for Pam because I am not good at being still at home for long periods of time. She is super gracious, but this may be her biggest test yet. 🙂

 

Thanks again for all the love and support. Turbo Brady is on the way, and I cannot wait to get back to living alongside you and not talking about surgeries, pulmonary valves, etc.  Remember, I may be on pain meds when I write my next blog, so I ask your forgiveness in advance for any crazy thoughts that may be posted.

Peace and blessings to all of you.

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