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Archive for December, 2008

Resolutions worth living for.

Posted by MDViews on December 31, 2008

2009 is upon us, for good or ill, and it has me thinking about resolutions. The most common New Year’s resolutions, I would guess, would be to quit smoking, lose weight and get in shape. I’m not a “resolution” kind of person. I figure if something is good enough to be considered worthy of a change in my attitude or behavior on January 1, it is good enough to warrant the same change the other 364 days of the year.

But, I attend Bethlehem Baptist Church in the twin cities area. Our pastor is John Piper and he has a love for the teachings of Jonathan Edwards, the 18th century Puritan theologian and pastor. Jonathan Edwards was probably the greatest thinker and theologian of our time. When a young man, Jonathan Edwards penned 70 resolutions, guidelines for living, which he read every week. Of his resolutions, the following are the most convicting for me. I pray daily that God will draw me close and so fill me with Himself that I find such resolutions achievable. I can tell you from experience (lots of experience), I can accomplish none of these on my own.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

I long to always give glory to God, to be efficient with my time, to live with all my might, to be courageous and to be poor in spirit, realizing that I am the chief of sinners. I strive but fail to study the Scriptures steadily and constantly and frequently, to act as if I had seen both heaven’s glory and hell’s torment, to fight my weakness constantly and never give up, even if I fail, and to never give way to the laziness that pulls my thoughts and soul away from God. For those ends I strive with God’s help every day of the new year.

I would that God grant you, dear reader, a year of seeing and experiencing to glory of our great God.

Posted in Faith and the Glory of God, Holidays, Personal | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

My Psalm 1 prayer

Posted by MDViews on December 28, 2008

I’ve done this before. On my own. It really helps me focus on God. It helps me learn scripture. It helps me realize where I am in my walk, which is always humbling. I put it in a PDF as I couldn’t figure out how to make two columns on this blog. Click on the link. if you like. I hope my prayer helps you as well.

psalm 1

Posted in Faith and the Glory of God | 1 Comment »

Pity the Poor Hospitals…

Posted by MDViews on December 27, 2008

Here is an article that generates in me anger and disgust.  Hospitals have fallen on hard times. This news report cites several hospital closings, cut backs, lay offs and building projects on hold. The article states reasons for this decline as 1) lower reimbursement by Medicare, Medicaid and insurers 2) more people with high deductible plans not paying their bills 3) higher borrowing costs on outstanding debt 4) less return on investments or negative return on investments and 5) higher expenses.

Hospitals are just like every other business in that they have to take in enough money to cover what they spend or they go broke and disappear–unless they are owned by the government (VA system or state or county or city hospitals) in which case they go on and on and just soak the taxpayers for more money.

But hospitals make so many business mistakes that their current plight is not at all a surprise.

Lower reimbursement: True. But reimbursement in my mind is still plenty good. In many areas of the country, Medicare and Medicaid are the best payors of patient services. What about insurance companies? Hospitals negotiate contracts with insurers and define exactly what each company will pay for a particular service. Say, one hospital day in a standard surgical floor may be $500. The insurance company wants to pay less, the hospital wants them to pay more. They reach an agreement. No one puts a gun to the hospital board’s head or the administrators head saying, “Sign this or I’ll splatter your brains on the paper.” (aka The Godfather) It is a voluntary contract. If the hospital cannot exist on what the negotiate rate is, DON’T SIGN! But they do. You, dear reader, may or may not know, that many of those high echelon administrators and board presidents and insurance company presidents are friends.

More bad debt: The article blames higher deductible health plans, and I admit, that may have some bearing on this. But I have been impressed through these 30+ years in health care of the general lack of understanding and ineptitude of hospitals at collections. I have heard story after story of inconsistent billing practices, unnecessary heavy handed tactics, lack of persistence when persistence is required and a general laissez-faire attitude about an activity upon which the very survival of the organization depends. (Then don’t know which side their bread is buttered on.) The waste is really unbelievable. I see it and hear about it (and have experienced it myself with my wife’s illness) at my hospital regularly.

Higher costs on outstanding debt: This is maddening. Why does a hospital go into debt in the first place? Do they really need the luxurious marble foyers, the latest architectural award, the expensive hardwoods, the landscaping and fountains? Do those come free? Hospitals waste money in building costs and maintenance, in ever newer machinery, in expensive (very expensive) computer systems that have not proven to be any safer than paper charts but cost more and decrease efficiency of the doctors and nurses, the only ones generating money, in higher and higher administrative costs, higher and higher union contract costs and the list could go on and on. Hospitals should build practical buildings, use only proven technology, trim top heavy administration, have a strike or two to weed out some union overpayment and save, save, save to cover capital expenditures.

Less return on investment: Return on investment depends on how greedy you are to start. Hospitals are a vital service and are frequent recipients of bequeaths and gifts. They have a responsibility to be conservative with their investments, not put all their eggs in the market.

Higher expenses: Most hospital expenses are wages and salaries for employees. Hospitals for which I have worked and in which I have practiced have had unions, very powerful unions. They basically have given the nursing union pretty much everything they have asked for, so much so that they cannot even have management nurses help out in a pinch if we get really busy or if too many nurses call in sick. They give away the farm every three years, then cry because they’re reimbursement is inadequate! They need tough negotiators and leadership not afraid to handle a strike. There are nurses who will cross picket lines.

So shame on hospitals for crying poverty. It is a problem of their own making.

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When walking through the valley…

Posted by MDViews on December 23, 2008

As one who deals with depression on a daily basis, I have been struck recently by the comfort of Psalm 23. God does comfort, but I find myself unable to see or feel His comfort when the cloud of despair engulfs me. This is my prayer.

Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.   (I am a sheep, Lord, and I need You to lead me.  You know and supply my needs. I want for nothing of value.)

2He makes me lie down in green pastures.   (You, O God, give me rest in a quiet, comforting place. You refresh my soul with Your presence. The green pastures show the abundance of Your care!)  

He leads me beside still waters.   (I am lost and wander in darkness without You. But You lead to a place where I can drink and be satisfied with You. Help me to make You my satisfaction! You are the drink that satisfies forever!)

3He restores my soul.   (My soul stumbles along as if blind. I so long to be restored! Restore me, O Lord, to feel Your comfort and hear Your voice.)

He leads me in paths of righteousness    (The cloud of despair hides Your path, O God.  Lead me along Your righteous path! Help me not sin in my despondency as I am prone to do.)

for his name’s sake.    (O God, help me see the glory and majesty of Your name. I pray I will not dishonor You when I am lost.)

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  (I am there, O God. The valley is dark. My walk falters. Surround me with Your love, Your presence, Your assurance more closely than the darkness about me.)

I will fear no evil,    (I fear the despair, O God, and it is evil. Quiet my thoughts and help me focus only on You, I pray.)

for you are with me;   (The cloud, the cloud, O God, hides You from me! Penetrate the cloud! Be my companion, I pray. Help me trust and walk by faith.)

your rod and your staff,     (Use Your club, O God, to vanquish my despair and Your hook to pull me back from the edge!)

they comfort me.    (Your comfort is eternal and I praise You for it!)

5You prepare a table before me  (Your blood covers my sin and so I am invited to the banquet table of the Lamb!)

in the presence of my enemies;  (My enemy is ever my companion, O God! Give me hope, O Lord, I pray. Grant me confidence that You will sustain me through this.)

you anoint my head with oil;  (How is Your love measured, O God, when You provide such care as this!)

my cup overflows.  (Overflow my cup, O Lord! In my gloom, show me Your bounty, Your all-encompassing grace, Your infinite value! Grant me eyes to see You through the fog.)

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me  (Thank You, God, for Your undeserved mercy, for Your boundless goodness and love, for Your terrible sacrifice that covers me!)

all the days of my life,  (You, O God, have numbered my days and know my path. Give me courage to face each day. Stay my hand from the sin of despair in my remaining days.)

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD  (To behold Your glory will make all suffering here a trifle. Oh, God! To sing Your praises in Your presence! To gaze on Your beauty forever! Keep my heart stayed on you, I pray.)

forever.  (Forever in Your presence, where You are the light. I long to see You clearly, not through this dark glass. Forever and ever and ever.)

English Standard Version (ESV)

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