Archive for May, 2012

“As a father has compassion  on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:13,14).”

If there has been one mantra in the eight years Dr. Gregory House has been around to utter his philosophies it is,”People don’t change.”  This is why the conclusion of the TV drama”House” was so suprising.

In the final episode House apparently is on a typical path to self destruction, except this time he seems to definitely intend to do himself in for good. This is so he can avoid having to go back to prison for violating his parole.

His suicide is apparently prompted also by the fact that he can’t be there in the last months for his dying friend, Dr. James Wilson, because he has to go back to jail. Wilson has five months to live and House’s remaining sentence lasts six.

As he lies on the floor of a burning warehouse, injured and stoned on heroin, House is arguing with an hallucination. Dr. Cameron, a former subordinate and love interest, is telling him that he is cowardly.

The Cameron in House’s mind is telling him that he is just debating with her as the place burns down around them to let the time pass so he doesn’t have to decide whether to get out and live or just pass on in  the flames, as she is suggesting he does. (He’s earned the right to die and leave this world of pain, she has told him.)

“You’re afraid of this decision, and you are trying to argue until fate takes it out of your hands. You’re taking the cowardly way out. And worse… you’re too cowardly to even admit you’re taking the cowardly way out”, the imaginary Cameron tells House..

House replies,”You’re right. But I can change.” For someone like me who has watched the series for years, this statement comes as a shock. As noted above, this violates a major House life principle.

House stands up to go, yet apparently is too late. The flames seemingly engulf him.

However, as we viewers learn later, he has escaped out the back door. He has faked his death.

Wilson, giving a warped eulogy at House’s funeral, thinks at that point that House is dead by his own drugged out hand.  House’s friend tells the funeral patrons:

“House was an ass. He mocked anyone —patients, co-workers, his dwindling friends — anyone who didn’t measure up to his insane ideals of integrity. He claimed to be on some heroic quest for truth, but the truth is, he was a bitter jerk who liked making people miserable. And he proved that by dying selfishly, numbed by narcotics, without a thought of anyone. A betrayal of everyone who cared about him.  A million times he needed me, and the one time that I needed him…”

Those who have followed “House” over the years would wholeheartedly agree with Wilson’s summation of the curmudgeonly doctor’s character. However, even as he speaks he is getting a text from House that says,”Shut up you idiot.”

Wilson understands from the text that House is alive and well.  He leaves the funeral and meets up with him. When Wilson sees House, he tells him:

You’re destroying your entire life. You can’t go back from this. You’ll go to jail for years. You can never be a doctor again.

House replies,”I’m dead, Wilson. How do you want to spend your last five months?”

The reason House has decided to go on and has engineered this whole circumstance is so he can be there for Wilson. For once, House does something completely out of character, unselfishly giving up his future and right to die (if he wanted to) for his friend. Apparently, people can change, at least according to the writers of this series, who have spoken the opposite through Gregory House for the last several years.

At least they posed the question.  Their portrayal of Dr. House over the years does beg the question,”Can people really change?”

Pastor Bob Merritt was faced with this question when he was confronted by a leadership consultant hired by his church. Merritt had been ordered by his church board to undergo counseling by a man Merritt calls “Fred” as a condition of further employment.

Merritt had watched his church grow from 350 to several thousand in two decades. However, as he describes in his book “When Life’s Not Working”, his method of leadership was brusque and unrelational.

Merritt had to listen to Fred and his assistant read a two hundred page document bearing the results of interviews with friends, family and coworkers which revealed his faults. For two days.

Merritt told Fred, who worked around the country with numerous CEOS, “I don’t know if I can change”.  Fred told him that statistically only 40% of his clients did. The other 60% percent stumbled on to things like lost marriages and careers.

“When Life’s Not Working” reveals that Merritt is one who did change. The key to it, he says, is humility: take the negative feedback you get seriously.

Merritt says two things drive people to consider change: fear and pain. Apparently Dr. House was confronted by both in that warehouse and decided to finally change.

Last week I was also debating with myself if I would ever change. I am not much older than Merritt, who is 53. When you get to this age, change is difficult.

I was fed up with my lack of progress in my character. As a Christian, I was hoping for much more transformation by this time.

I have had the chance recently to do a little gospel sharing with friends, and it occurred to me that I ought to share the gospel with myself to see if I was truly in the faith, or at least to help me review the fundamentals of Christianity.

So as I fought with myself over whether or not I could change, I did that. I sat on my sofa and reviewed some key principles:

* All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory , including me (Romans 3:23);

* The payback for sin is death, both spiritually and eventually physically (Romans 6:23);

* It is appointed for men to face God’s judgment after they die (Hebrews 9:27)

* God sent his Son Jesus to die for our sins so we wouldn’t have to face this judgment, proving His love (Romans 5:8);

* Jesus not only died, but He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-5);

* His resurrection is for me, too, if I accept it through believing in Him (John 11:25,26).

* Believing in Jesus  means receiving Him and entering into his family (John 1:9,10);

* This salvation from my sins and death is not because of my performance, but is a gift that I need to accept by faith (Ephesians 2:8.9).

Jesus illustrated the nature of his salvation when some religious leaders brought him an adulterous woman. Here is the account from the Gospel of John:

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:2-11)

When I get to heaven I want to ask Jesus what he was drawing in the dirt. Some people think he was listing the sins of the religious leaders who were ready to condemn the adulterous woman.

I don’t know, but I am wondering if he was reminding Himself that we humans are indeed dust. This realization of that Jesus understands my frailties as a human being relieves my soul.

Although I want to pursue his command to “sin no more” and change, I am grateful that He cuts me some slack. This makes me love Jesus even more and want to become the best person I can be for Him.


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“My heart has heard you say,’Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘LORD, I am coming’ (Psalm 27:8).”

Gregory House has had many relationships over the last eight years of the TV medical drama that bears his surname. He has had several girlfriends and even a trumped up marriage meant to get a woman her green card. Dr. House has also had complicated relationships with the members of his medical team.

However, the most important connection he has had is the one forged between him and his best friend, Dr. James Wilson. They have been so close that some critics of the show have termed their friendship a “bromance”.

The pair met at a medical convention in New Orleans. As both recounted to a police officer in another state who was holding them on old charges,  Wilson had been arrested for assault and vandalism. (He threw an object through an antique mirror in a bar argument.)

House thought Wilson had spunk and was interesting, so he bailed him out. Thus began an enduring friendship.

Their relationship has hit the skids at times, however. An almost fatal rupture occurred when House indirectly was involved in the death of Wilson’s girlfriend. House didn’t cause the death, but his dysfunctional behavior led to Wilson’s flame Amber being in the situation which led to her demise.

Healing occurs when Wilson becomese part of a plot to make sure House goes to his father’s funeral. The ole curmudgeon has no intention of going because he despises the man and he believes he isn’t  his biological father anyway.

House is drugged by his boss.  When House wakes up, Wilson is driving him along the highway to the funeral location.

They have not seen each other in two months, as Wilson  quit to get away from House’s damaging and self-seeking  influence. When he notices House reviving, Wilson looks at him and says,”This doesn’t mean I care.”

After House confronts Wilson about his dumping him because of Amber’s death, Wilson becomes angry and throws an object through a stained-glass window at the church where the funeral is held.

House’s response? “Still not boring.”  On the way home House provokes Wilson as they discuss a current case:

“This is fun, isn’t it?”, House says, smiling knowingly at Wilson.

Wilson decides to take his old job back. When he tells House in the office, the latter says wryly,”If you’re coming back just because you’re attracted to the shine of my neediness… I’d be okay with that.”

Wilson tells House why he is truly coming back:

“I’m coming back because you’re right. That strange, annoying trip we just took was the most fun I’ve had since Amber died.”

Fast forward a couple of years. House drives his car into the front window of his girlfriend’s house (his girlfriend is also his boss) after she finally has had enough and ends it. In the process Wilson, who is a bystander, is injured.

Eleven months later House is paroled from prison and returns to the hospital. Wilson never visited and is cold as ice to him.

House reaches out to Wilson, telling him that he likes him, has fun with him. “Do what you have to do to get over this”, House says, suggesting a couple of acts of physical violence Wilson could perpretate toward him.  Wilson replies,”The thing is House, I DON’T like you.”

After House solves the case of Wilson’s dying patient, pushing Wilson in the process and making him a better doctor, Wilson walks into House’s office and punches him in the face, flooring him. “Dinner later?”, asks Wilson.

Fast forward in time to what is now the end of the series. The writers of “House” have chosen to sum up eight seasons by focusing on the relationship between Gregory House and James Wilson.

House learns that Wilson has cancer and has five months to live. Wilson refuses any further treatment after a dangerous chemotherapy experiment he requests House to perform “under the table” doesn’t get results.

Wilson is an oncologist and does not want to go through the slow death that he has seen from his patients. House, on the other hand, does everything he can to get Wilson to change his mind. “I need you” he tells his friend.

House is so frantic to keep Wilson around that he conducts a series of hospital pranks aimed at getting Wilson to give in. One collapses a bathroom, injures some doctors and damages an expensive medical instrument.

Wilson in the meantime is upset again with House. Even his own fatal disease is all about House, it seems.

In the meantime, House finally accepts Wilson’s wishes and their relationship is “good”.  However, House is told the vandalism has violated his parole and he will have to go back to jail.

“How long?”, he asks. “Six months”, the hospital lawywer tells him. House will miss any remaining time his friend Wilson has on this earth because of his hijinks.

House apparently collapses from the strain. He goes off to a warhehouse, does heroin with a dying patient. 

Wilson tracks him down after two days. However, the warehouse is now burning and as Wilson stares at House through the window of a blazing room, his friend is buried under the collapsing buillding.

However, House in typical fashion has had it all planned. He has faked his death.

House sends Wilson a text message as the latter is blasting his friend in a eulogy. “Shut up you idiot” the text says.

Wilson now knows House is alive.  He meets up with House, telling him he has thrown his life away. House replies,”I’m dead. What do you want to do with your remaining five months.”

The series ends with House and Wilson sitting on motorcycles. Wilson tells House,”Uhh..when the cancer gets bad..”.

House interrupts, looks at Wilson and says,”Cancer is boring.” They drive off together, presumably doing what Steppenwolf sang about: “looking for adventure and whatever comes our way.”

What a friendship! Despite its ups and downs, the relationship between House and Wilson is an enduring one.

They both get fulfillment and complete satisfaction in it. This is despite the trials.

I was sitting at home a few days ago not feeling particularly close to God.  I believe this was because I hadn’t really met God’s expectations, just as House and Wilson did not fulfill each other’s wishes at times.

I understand, however, that  even though the closeness of these two men is admirable and even to be emulated, a relationship with the my Lord and Master Jesus is of a different kind on one important respect. Jesus told his disciples,”You are my friends if you do what I command (John 15:14).”  If we want God to confide in us like a friend, we need to fear Him (Psalm 25:14).

As I sat there on my couch, trying to have a quiet time, I missed the fellowship with God. There is nothing on this earth like it. 

I asked Him to take me back into His confidence.  He did.

There is nothing so precious as friendship with God. No experience, work, hobby, or any other relationship can replace it.

I was pretty scared when I thought that I might have lost His friendship for good. It gave me a clear perspective on what is important in this life and how to live.

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“Rulers lead with my help, and nobles make righteous judgments (Proverbs 8:16).”

I took a walk though my neighborhood today, as I am wont to do on Saturdays. It doesn’t hurt that I live next to the largest lake in Finland the fourth largest in Europe. This body of water is a beautiful piece of creation and is ubiquitous in this area.

The lake is lined with pleasant  birch forests. So after a few minutes I am in the woods.

Today I had a plan where I wanted to hike and thought I knew where I was going. However, I somehow took a path I had never been on before.

This trail led me right to a small point on the lake.  It wasn’t bare. It had several small birch on it.

Right in from of me on this small point facing the lake was what amounted to a kitchen chair. It was íf God had led me out there and said “sit a spell”.

The Psalmist wrote some  lovely words for this kind of situation:

  “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8  NLT)

In my case though I got the impression I was just supposed to sit there and listen. So I sit in the kitchen chair and watched the current flow out into the lake from the inlet nearby. Finland isn’t the noisiest country at any time, but today out there in the forest by the lake it was silent as a mouse.

Some decisions are staring me in the face right now, and as I watched that current it came to me that much of my life I had been swimming against God’s flow.  When I get into a tight spot as I am in now I tend to go to war and do everything in my power to get out of it. 

The end result is that I end up spending years going down a certain road. Looking back, I am wondering if I made the right choices.

In an episode of the TV medical drama “House”, which is winding to its conclusion in the next couple of shows, Dr. Robert Chase is evaluating his own past decisions.   A patient has made him confront his life.

This particular patient isn’t just anyone. It is the hospital coroner, a man named Dr. Treiber.

In his post Treiber sees all the mistakes. When he does autopsies, he knows which doctors messed up.

As a result, the only doctor in the place he really trusts is Gregory House, for whom the show is named.  Furthermore, even though he is a member of House’s team, Treiber does not like Dr. Chase at all.

While working on Treiber, Chase discovers why. The coronoer had applied for the same fellowship under Dr. House which Chase eventually received.  Here’s their  conversation:

Treiber: Quit my other program, relocated, broke up with my girlfriend. Then your father made a call, and suddenly you had the spot.

Chase: That was almost ten years ago.

Treiber: Do you know what I could’ve done after even three years with House? Gone to the CDC, W.H.O. Started a diagnostics department someplace they’d never even heard of such a thing. You’ve been given everything. Looks, talent, my future. Nine years later, look what you’ve done with it.

Chase is speechless.  He knows Treiber is right.

In a subsequent conversation with Dr. Taub, another House team member, Chase discusses the future -and the past.

 Chase: How long do you think you’ll work for House?

Taub: As long as he lets me.

Chase: When House was in prison, you worked at Mercy in plastics, right? Know what I did? Surfed. For nine months.

Taub: Yes, and if I didn’t have two daughters and alimony, I might have done the same.

Chase: A fellowship’s supposed to train you to stand on your own. Foreman’s Dean of the hospital, Cameron’s head of emergency medicine in Chicago.

What brings matters to a head for Chase is that he suddenly becomes the  point man on Treiber’s case. House has run off with his friend Dr. James Wílson on a road trip. Wilson is dying of cancer and confronting his own issues.

Chase, knowing how Treiber feels about him, doesn’t tell his patient that  House is gone. Treiber is just told that House authorized his treatment. Thus, Chase has lied to his patient.

In the meantime, Chase has told one of the House team doctors he is quitting after the case. Chase discusses his future with his boss and friend Dr. Foremen.

Foreman: You’ve got everybody worried about your quitting.

Chase: You here as my boss or my friend?

Foreman: If I was here as your boss, you’d be suspended by now.

Chase: I’ve learned a lot here. Enough to run my own team. It’s time I moved on. Unfortunately, that’s how I felt last year. And the year before that.

Foreman: Maybe there’s a reason you haven’t left. You need structure. And support. Somebody else calling the shots.

Chase: You didn’t come down here as my boss or my friend. You came down as House. You’re trying to insult me into making a decision.

Foreman: We’ve both seen it work. Either you rise to the challenge and quit, or you stay. As a team member.

Chase is left to ponder Foreman’s charge of  indeciseveness.

Treiber’s condition worsens, and Treiber learns the truth. Typical of the show, however, Treiber’s condtion is solved, but this time by Dr. Chase.

When Treiber tells Chase that he himself probably wouldn’t have come up with the diagnosis that saved his life, Chase credits House’s teaching. Treiber replies, “This wasn’t House.”

Later, Chase sees Foreman in the hall and tosses him his locker key. Foreman makes one last ditch effort to keep Chase on board:

Foreman: “I’ll give you your own team.” 

Chase: “Thanks. But it’s time to step out of the shadow.”

Foreman: “It’s about time.”

Sitting by the lake today I thought the same thing. It’s “about time” I quit making bad decisions based on my own insecurity. 

I have spent many years under God’s tutelage. I know  His methods and ways.

It’s time to get out of my comfort zone.  If I don’t, I won’t be at peace with myself the rest of my days (Isaiah 50:11).

It’s about time I became a leader.

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” ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’ (Matthew 11:28-30).”

I was talking to an acquaintance the other day, complaining about a personal injustice. This conversation got me steamed.

The more I thought about it, the worse I felt. I was more ashamed of my feelings over the matter than the humiliation I encountered when it happened.

So, I took a l-o-o-n-g walk to cool off.  Then I settled down with my books at home.  (This is one of the benefits of having no electronic entertainment, save a boom box. I read a lot.)

After that night of reading, I felt even more ashamed of my complaining.

One of the books I read was called “The End of Poverty”. In it the economist Jeffrey Sachs discussed the condition of the world economically.

One-sixth of the world’s population, says Sachs, is still in extreme poverty. This means that they are not even on the ladder to economic survival.

Sachs cites the female garment workers in Bangaladesh as women who are climbing out of extreme poverty and onto the ladder of opportunity. Of course, they have a long way to go.

They walk several hours a day to and from their homes outside of Dhaka to get to work and back. At their jobs they work on clothes for the Europeans and Americans, 12 hours a day for minimal wages.

On the job and in their travels they are subject to sexual harassment. The life is unimaginable to those of us living at least a minimal good life in a developed country and if we have any heart, it makes us sad, or even angry.

In fact, the media and celebrities regularly decry the treatment of women like those in Bangladesh and shame the companies that employ them. Yet, Sachs thinks this outrage is the wrong approach.

He says that these women are actually on the first rung of economic success. Over time and exponentially, they will improve their lot and those around them.

Still, their plight is unjust. So is the situations of countless other people around the globe in worse conditions.

I wish I had more concern for the injustice done to people like the women of South Asia. Instead, I get caught up in my own petty concerns.

As I read the other night, I continued my progress through aother book, a  Charles Dickens’ classic called  “The Tale of Two Cities”.  Somehow I managed to skip a lot of English lit in school, so I guess it’s never too late.

“The Tale of Two Cities” surprised and moved me. It too is about injustice.

Set in Paris and London during the days of the French Revolution, it details the horrors done to people who were not aristocrats. Indeed, Sachs notes that only in the last 200 years has the world begun to develop economically, with the average worker in Europe earning about 90% of what your average African worker does today.

These peasants were fair game for the richer nobility. Indeed, the plot of Dickens’ novel centers around the consequences stemming from the shocking ill treatment of a serf woman and her family by the boys of a French aristocratic  family.

However, the revolutionaries that took power during the French Revolution are portrayed by Dickens as equal to their “noble” predecessors in terms of their brutality. They took vengeance on anyone who stood in their way, especially if they were associated with aristocrats.

It didn’t matter if they were guilty of a criminal act or not. It was “off with their heads!”

One of the key figures in “The Tale of Two Cities” is a child of one of  the perpetrators of the aforementioned outrage concerning the peasant woman. He grew into a man named Charles Evremonde, called Darnay.

Darnay had rejected his aristocratic upbtinging and moved to England, where he married the daughter of a French doctor who had been imprisoned in the Bastille.  However, to save a former servant of his family imprisoned unjustly by the revolutionaries, he returns to France.

There he is through a series of events sentenced by a revolutionary tribunal to be guillotined. Darnay is a good man with a kind wife and a child and has done nothing to deserve execution, except to have been born into the wrong family.

It appears all is lost for Darnay until an old friend comes along and saves the day. Sidney Carton from England, almost a part of the prisoner’s family and formerly entranced with Mrs. Darnay when she was single, manages to substitute himself through trickery for Darnay at the guillotine.

Carton has led a wasted life and he knows it. He is a man with a lot of bad habits. Yet, he sees in this act the possibility for redemption.

Indeed, as he contemplates what he is about to do, Carton walks late at night along the Seine quoting a statement from Jesus:

 “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die (John 11:25, 26 Kings James Version).

As I read this passage, I thought that the term ‘dead’ could be construed in a couple of ways. One is the common biblical idea of being spíritually separated from God. The other is another common usage, which is that of “death to self’ (Luke 9:23.

Carton was ‘dead’ in both ways. He had left a profligate life away from God. However, now he had also chosen to die to himself and sacrifice himself for his friend.

As Carton contemplated this action, he must have felt very lonely. The words of a current pop hit tell of what must have been in his heart:

 I don’t wanna be left
In this war tonight
Am I alone in this fight?
Is anybody out there?

Don’t wanna be left left in this world behind
Say you’ll run to my side (Artist: K’NAAN featuring Nelly Furtado)

The complete song describes “losers” in this life´. “Mary” isn’t pretty or popular, and she’s insecure.  She  can “point a finger, but there’s three pointing back.”

“Adam” is  a child totally ignored by his father. He “grew up mad and antisocial” and spent his days playing video games. Drugs were the only way out.

“With one last hope he puts his arms up higher
I can see him crying out, yeah
Is anybody out there?”

Sidney Carton in “The Tale of Two Cities” discovers that there is someone out there.  He chooses to believe in His new friend Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life.

Carton gains strength and hope from this verse, taught to him by his father. It carries him through to complete the rescue of Charles Darnay. 

Carton had spent a lifetime not trusting and hurting, a victim of his own injustices in life.  Then he met Jesus Christ. In effect, Jesus says to him the same words of another recent pop song:

Don’t wanna break your heart
I wanna give your heart a break
I know you’re scared it’s wrong
Like you might make a mistake
There’s just one life to live
And there’s no time to waste, to waste

Give your heart a break
Let me give your heart a break
Your heart a break
There’s just so much you can take
Give your heart a break
Let me give your heart a break
Your heart a break (Artist: Demi Lovato)
Sidney Carton believes Jesus. He believes Jesus can and will give his heart a break. He turns his broken heart over to Jesus.
In doing so, he finds a way to right the wrongs he sees in his own life and in those around him. He gives his life, his dead life,  for his old earthly friend,  and to his newfound heavenly One.
I can learn from  Sidney Carton. I see myself in him.
Like him, I am dead in many ways. I am powerless. I know I can’t solve  all the injustices in my ownl life or the multitudinous ones out there in the world.   
Yet, like Sidney I can start to solve some of the wrongs in this world by believing my friend Jesus and giving up my life to Him. I may not have trusted many people, if any, before but now I can trust Him.
When Jesus says it He means  it. When He says He is the Resurrection and the Life, then I can know it’s the truth. His word is as good as gold.
After I believe Jesus and give my life to Him, every day, then I can follow behind Him and give up my life for  those He so chooses.  This may not take care of more than a drip of the injustice drowning me and the world today, but it’s a beginning.

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“Light shines in the darkness for the godly (Psalm 112a).”

“I’m here as a doctor, not a mother”, says Elizabeth Lawson. She says this in reply to Dr. Robert Chase, who connects the last names of their six-year-patient and the doctor when they are introduced.

The doctors on the diagnostic team in the TV drama House look at their boss, Dr. Eric Foreman, with incredulity. However, Foreman insists that they use the woman’s expertise even though she is the mother.

Gregory House, the team head, is not on the case, but with his best friend Dr. James Wílson, whom he discovered in the last episode has cancer. Although Wilson has been trying to hide from him because he doesn’t want his friend involved in his care, House tracks him down.

When Wilson tells House that he doesn’t want him around, House replies,”I’m not here as a doctor, I’m here as a towering pillar of strength.” Wilson doesn’t believe that one of the world’s great diagnosticians can keep out of his case.

Two doctors. Two sick loved ones. Two people struggling with their roles in the relationships.

Dr. Lawson obviously loves her daughter Emily. However, Emily has a genetic illness which gives her a life expectancy of 20 years. Her mother can’t seem to come to grips with that and has spent much of Emily’s life apparently being more of her doctor than her Mom. For example, Dr. Lawson has been treating her daughter with an unapproved drug at home as a test.

The doctors don’t know what to think of Dr. Lawson’s duality. As they are observing Emily in an MRI machine, Dr. Jessica  Adams looks at her colleague Dr. Chris Taub and says,”What do you think of her mother?  She called her daughter ‘the patient’. Taub answers,”If my kids were born with an expiration date, I don’t…”. (He is interrupted by Emily’s cry from the MRI machine.)   

Even though Dr. House and Dr. Lawson claim to be dealing with the medical troubles of  their loved ones in chosen predefined roles (i.e., ” “best friend” and “doctor”), it is of course impossible to prevent leakage from the other realm of their relationship. For example,  in one instance Lawson overrules the medical team, saying,”I don’t mean to pull rank here, but I’m her mother.” Chase comments rather sarcastically that he thought she was her doctor.

House attempts to talk Wilson out of a risky procedure he prefers over the counsel of several oncologists, knowing it could kill his friend. However, when Wilson still insists upon doing it, and away from the hospital, House agrees to supervise the treatment medically at his place.

As House begins administering the high dosage of medicine which could just as easily kill Wilson as push him toward a cure, he outlines for his friend what to expect in terms of side effects.

Wilson let’s House know he is wasting his time, saying,”I know, I’m an oncologist.”

House tells him,”If you did you wouldn’t be sitting here”, and proceeds with a list of other side effects.  He has crossed over from the land of friendship to the world of being a medical doctor. Still, Wilson is determined to have the treatment.

Although it is a journey, by show’s end the doctors have assumed the roles they were meant to have. Dr. Lawson removes herself from the medical debates of the House team and becomes the girls mother. When Emily is cured, Lawson talks of going to the aquarium with her estranged husband and  her daughter.

House, having gotten Wilson through the ordeal of his chemical treatment, reverts to form. He leaves silly pictures of Wilson during the procedure on the latte’rs laptop in his office,accompanied by equally ridiculous music. Wilson bursts out laughing hysterically.  His best friend has come through.

Understanding our identity and our role is a crucial thing in life. It is abolutely essential to live a life in God.

Today I listened to a talk by Christian pastor and speaker Jonathan Welton, who talks of how getting an understanding of who he is in Christ delivered him from a 10-year battle with lust.  Welton notes how grasping the power of God’s grace to give him self control and reign in life delivered him (Titus 2:11-14; Romand 5:17).

More importantly Welton also notes how Christ showed him his identity in relation to the beauty of women. Instead of being a predator, a role regularly assigned to men these days according to Welton, he understood God had called him to be a protector of women and their loveliness.

A few months ago I put on my prayer list a request that God would tell me how He sees me. Gradually, He has done that as I read the Scriptures. Here is what He has said so far:
1) )I am His child (He is my Father). He bends down to listen to me (Psalm 116:1,2) 2) I am His sheep whom He guides, protects and comforts (He is my shepherd)-Psalm 23 3) I am His marvelous creation (He is my Creator).Psalm 139:13,14  4) I am the main character in a book He is writing (Psalm 139:16).

Gaining an understanding of how God sees me, and my role and His role, has made me grasp how valuable I am to him: I am immensely so.  Welton today enhanced my comprehension of this when he said that that the message of the Gospel is that we are worth dying for.

As we struggle through life we learn about ourselves. The fictional Dr. Wilson learned something in his struggle to get through the administration of potentially lethal medicine with horrible side effects. He learned that he was not particularly empathetic beforehand.

His friend House has pain from a leg injury that is always there. He constantly takes pain pills to alleviate it.  After his chemical treatment, he tells House,”So the way I felt, you feel that, what, most of the time? It really does suck being you, doesn’t it?”

Wilson also comprehended how weak his attempts had been in attempting to comfort his own cancer patients in the past. He now understands, having wrestled in House’s apartment with the thought of dying of a disease he treats for other. He now gets  how pathetic his comments  to patients were. He always told them to avoid trying to figure out what their cancer meant.

Wilson’s journey and ours are of the same kind. It’s painful to get to the truth of who we truly are. There are times we have to face up to and set aside old judgments about our identity which we have developed over time, sometimes decades.

I recently told my pastor that I can’t figure out why it has taken me a lifetime to understand the things I know now about God. I believe I said something specifically about the length of time spent learning who I am in His eyes.

Somehow  I think this long process might have something to do with God’s desire for me to grasp who He is. Jesus Himself went through the same struggles I have had to and will continue to face my whole life (Hebrews 4:15).

 I am called to follow in His footsteps, experiencing the same kinds of things He did. As I do, I get an an understanding of Jesus’s heart, and that although He is God, He is also truly human.

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“The Lord said to my Lord,’Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.’  The Lord will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem[you will rule over your enemies. When you go to war, your people will serve you willingly. You are arrayed in holy garments, and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew (Psalm 110:1-3).”

Gregory House has fought many battles in his fictional life as the main character on the TV drama named after him. A recent episode called “Body and Soul” served as a microcosm for these conflicts.

One of the political parties in America is currently being accused of a “War on Women”. The politicos accused of carrying out this war are crying foul, saying it doesn’t exist.

For Dr. House, the shoe fits perfectly. He has loved and lost so many times I have lost count.

In “Body and Soul” his relationship with his wife comes to a boil and is then spoiled. His marriage has been a sham anyway and it ends in disaster.

He married Dominika in a bargain which allowed her to apply for a green card. House is getting renumeration for this matrimony.

However, having been caught faking it by Homeland Security, yet given another change, they have pretended to be the perfect couple. Ironically, they actually have begun developing affection for each other.

House in fact trashes the notice from the goverment telling Dominika she has been awarded her green card. He figures she will walk out the door once she gets it and he enjoys having her around.

Far be if from House to actually talk out his feelings with Dominika. His flawed persona prevents him from coming anywhere close to that possibility.

Upon getting a phone call in which she is informed that the government office issuing her card has been waiting for her, she asks how many notices they have sent. Once she learns that House has obviously been dumping  them, it’s hasta la vista Dominika.

In “Body and Soul” House also continues his usual antics with his fellow team of diagnosticians. The normal berating, game playing and prodding goes on, ostensibly as a ploy to help House come to a definitive conclusion as to what is ailing their latest patient.

The doctors engage in the usual give and take over an Asian boy of Hmong descent named Lue Cheng. The boy has had severe respiratory distress and nightmares.

House would not normally take such a case, but when his boss Dr. Foreman tells him the young man is Hmong and has nightmares which include an old hag trying to choke him, House gets interested.  He tells his team about  a syndrome afflicting young Hmong males which kills them suddenly as they sleep.

As the medical case develops a regular pet peeve of House’s surfaces in the form of the boy’s father-in-law, who suggests that the Lue is not ill but under the attack of demons. Anyone who watches House knows that the doctor is completely dismissive of spiritual things, matters of faith and the people who give credence to such things.  

The father-in-law persists in his claims, explaining that he believes his son, and the boy’s father, ended up killing his boss and going to prison because of the same spiritual oppression. At first, the doctors and the boy’s mother refuse to allow the father-in-law to perform a ceremony to ward off these spirits.

In fact, team member Dr. Robert Chase asks the mother, Lida,  if she believes a spirit could be hurting her son, noting that even suggesting that to Lue could cause physical problems.  Lida looks insulted and tells Chase she is an engineer and that she knows illnesses are not caused by evil spirits.

Along the way Lue exhibits odd behavior. He speaks in tongues and exhibits bruises after a dream. House explains these things away medically.

However, the boy gets progessively worse and when Lue is seen levitating in bed by the doctors and his mother, Lida changes her mind. House is of course incredulous and insists that the levitation was some sort of parlor trick, even demonstrating by showing them he can “levitate” a few inches above the floor.

Even so, faced with a legal challenge Foreman allows the father-in-law to perform his ceremony. The father-in-law begins a ceremonial exorcism.

In the meantime, the doctors continue to argue the medical issues. House indicates that since the mother has given up, so has he. He is now worried that even if they can cure the boy, the ceremony will get the credit and the mother will go off into the world having “faith in faith”. 

However, as they continue to talk  House determines that Lue has an extremely rare condition. which Dr. Jessixa Adams believes is wrong. She notes, however, after calming down that the treatment is simply administering Ibuprofen.

 House is obviously angry and his doctors appear to think his diagnosis is spurious.  Chase says,”You’re not gonna let us save an eight-year-old because one more person might embrace religion?”.  (Chase is a fallen Catholic seminarian.)

House replies,”Does anyone here think my diagnosis is right?” When no one moves or says anything, he continues,” Well, then I have decided for today only, to respect your opinions. We will proceed according to your diagnosis and nothing else. That’s an order. Good luck.”.

When the doctors reenter Lue’s room in the midst of the ceremony, the boy crashes. Adams tells Lida frantically to stop the ceremony and then pushes a nurse out of the way and says,”I’m giving him the Ibuprofen.” The end result is that Lue is cured.

Afterwards House barges into the office of his best friend, Dr. James Wilson for solace. House and Wilson have had their battles over the years as well.

Twice their friendship has shattered over actions of House which directly affected Wilson. However, Wilson is a forgiving type and they are now close gain.

House tells Wilson of his problems. Dominika has left. Adas has defied him. “There’s another religious zealot in the world”, he adds.

Wilson replies,”I have cancer.” Wilson himself is an oncologist.

House blows this remark off as a joke, but Wilson persists:

“Stage II thymoma. I didn’t want to tell you until I had it confirmed. I got the tests back this morning. I have cancer, House.”

The news sinks in. House’s world, normally a chaotic combat zone, has just fallen completely apart. His one refuge in the world, his best friend, may also be taken from him.

After eight years of watching House, the end of “Body and Soul” is like experiencing all the air go out of a balloon. How much dysfunction can one person possess and experience?

As noted at the beginning, House has fought many battles. The one he will always lose is the one he fights with God.

It’s too bad House doesn’t have God as an ally. If he did, he still might have to battle his unhealthy behaviors, but God would have his back.

Even in the midst of unspeakable suffering, which unlike House was none of his doing, Job was able to say,”I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth (Job 19:25).

This is a great promise. The army controlling the battlefield when hostilities are over is the victor.  That’s the hope we have if God is on our side during the midst of our battles.

Tanks are one of the amazingly strong and destructive weapons any army has in its arsenal. In modern warfare, soldiers will gather around them and let the tanks lead the way if they know what’s good for them.

If we’re smart. we’ll let God be our “tank” in the battles that we face.

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The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do (Psalm 12:5 New Living Translation).”

“If this were another time, they would’ve had pitchforks and lanterns in their hands.  They were out for vengeance.”

The reporter on a recent news feature is talking about a crowd in a small town in Ohio gathered around the courthouse. They are after one Chris Coleman.

“Chris Coleman: Loving Family Man or Killer”  reads a headline flashed on the screen. Coleman, the security head for a major televangelist, is accused of strangling his wife and two beautiful young boys in their sleep.

Various parties with an interest in the case are interviewed: the police, attorneys, Coleman’s parents, his wife Sherri’s family, and neighbors. They all  contribute their thinking as to what happened and how they feel.

The crime Coleman is accused of is particularly heinous.  One person interviewed commented,”This crime was about greed, sex, selfishness and narcsissism.”.

Coleman is accused in the program of creating a scenario in which he has been threatened with hate mail because the author wants to get at his  popular televangelist, boss. The writer of the Emails says they will destroy Coleman’s family if his boss doesn’t keep quiet.

As the show progesses, evidence is shown that reveals Coleman is having an affair with one of his wife’s high school friends.  A reporter says, “Investigators believe all this pain was caused by Chris Coleman’s obsession.”

It also presents other evidence which points at Coleman doing the crime.  For example, hate messages created on the walls of his house during the muder, purportedly created by the person sending the threatening Emails, were apparently in fact written in his handwriting. Indeed, after further investigation, viewers learn that the Emails themselves have come from Coleman’s laptop.

Once it is clear Coleman is the main suspect, the already grieving community is torn asunder. For example, one woman tells the interviewer,”I’ve talked to some of the other Moms in the community and their children are wondering if their Dad could do the same thing.”

Coleman’s parents remain adamant that their son could not have possibly done such a thing. The father is a Christian minister. It seems from the facts presented that they are in denial.

The “Christian” aspect of the case gets large play. Highlighted are the fact that Coleman’s employer would definitely not have tolerated his adultery had they known about it.

One close friend of Sherri says,”As a Christian I feel like it is imperative that I forgive because Jesus forgave me. And I want to forgive with my whole heart.”

The interviewer asks,”What makes it so hard to do that?”

The woman replies,”“Because they were so innocent.”

Coleman is found guilty. When the verdict is reach, the large throng outside the courtroom erupts in cheers as if they were at a major sporting event. He still denys his role two years later.

The fallout Sherri’s family is suing  Coleman’s televangelism ministry employer. They claim that the ministry should have investigated him because they had clues to his conduct.

One hundrend and fourteen comments currently are posted on the news shows website. In them viewers express their opinions and attack each other and the people portayed on the show.

Our society abounds with such cases. As one friend of mine has lamented,”Why do I watch the news! There are some sick hombres out there.”

Cases like Colemans not only attract sensational media attention. They also garner sociologists who try to come to some understanding of what is happening. 

“Church Ethics and Its Organizational Context” is a series of essays aimed at learning from the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church which has come to light of late. One of these reports is called “The Sexual Abuse Scandal as Social Drama”, written by Jean M. Bartunek.

In this piece Bartunek lays forth the idea that extraordinary events cause the stakeholders to try to make sense out of them. She says their perceptions of what they thought was reality have been thrown out of balance. 

Bartunek notes that all the “players” in this scandal have different needs and motivations, They also come to different conclusions in an attempt to make sense of the issue and take a variety of actions.

These stakeholders include the victims’ families, the clergy, parents in the community, lay Catholics, attorneys, the Church hierarchy and even perpetrators. She indicates that these different viewpoints create what she calls a “social drama”, which Bartunek  credits  Victor Turner with defining as “an event that revolves around a breach of group or societal norms or rules in some important public matter.”

Further, Bartunek notes that this kind of event is “a volatile episode that interrupts the otherwise smooth surface of routine life in a social setting and reveals underlying tensions there.”  She indicates that these tensions among the stakeholders  need to be resolved in order for the crisis to really completely go away.

Just as it is difficult to come to grips with the idea that Coleman could murder his beautiful family, it is also a tall order to get all the parties involved in something like the sexual abuse of children to come to a meeting of the minds and get at the truth. Frankly, I believe it is well nigh impossible.

Injustice is a given in this life. It will never ever go away until Jesus returns and justice may not really be served until then, even though it apparently has been done in Coleman’s case.

I think God was thinking of this lack of closure when he included the imprecatory Psalms in the Bible.  These are prayers in which the Psalmist asks  God to curse his enemies.

In fact, these “enemies” were in some cases trustworthy companions at one time. Here is an example of this kind of prayer:

 My God, whom I praise,
    do not remain silent,
for people who are wicked and deceitful
    have opened their mouths against me;
    they have spoken against me with lying tongues. 
 With words of hatred they surround me;
    they attack me without cause.
In return for my friendship they accuse me,
    but I am a man of prayer.
They repay me evil for good,
    and hatred for my friendship (Psalm 109:1-5).

The Psalmist goes on to wish all kinds of woe on their opponents. Their desires include that God would cause the antagonist to die, to make their kids into beggars, and for Him to make that their families suffer financial ruin. The Psalmist goes so far as to ask God to NOT forgive their sins.

As the close friend of Sherri Coleman learned, it is a difficult thing to forgive others, especially those who have betrayed our love. The imprecatory Psalms show that God understands that and I believe they are in the Bible so that we can give full vent to our feelings.

These Psalms reveal that it is God who ultimately will judge and get vengeance on wrongdoers. In fact, this principle keeps me from taking my own revenge because I have determined that whatever God dishes out has to be far worse than anything I can do.

My thinking is that if I DO get my own vengeance, then God will say,”Well, you got justice your own way so I am doing no more with this case.” So I stay out of it as best I can and let God take care of things in His time and in His way!

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