“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (Jesus, John 13:16)
We see it all the time with patients. Physicians ask them to take their medications, follow a certain regimen, and so on, only to see those patients disregard their orders to their own detriment. Advice only works if we take it in the trenches of everyday life! If we’re honest, of course, we know it’s easier said than done.
So, now that it’s been roughly one month since Dr. David Levy gave his Intermed talks in Philadelphia, I wanted to review what he talked about and see if we’ve continued taking the ‘medicine’ he prescribed.
In my mind, here are the main takeaways from Dr. Levy’s time in Philadelphia:
Who we are matters more than what we say. Dr. Levy gave some of the best talks I’ve heard in a long time. The content was tremendous. But, the thing that made them so great is that they flowed out of his living, dynamic relationship with God. Even though he’s a highly-trained neurosurgeon, it’s immediately obvious that he understands – really – that God is absolutely vital to every moment. During our rides in the car to and from events, he would often spontaneously just offer short prayers of thanks or need. And so, his talks were essentially just an outflow of who he is, and his walk with Christ, each day.
We need to make our relationship with God real and specific. During each of his main talks, Dr. Levy invited his audience to imagine they were with him in his office. He then walked us through exercises he uses with patients, such as a declaration of forgiveness. The issues he addressed were important in and of themselves, but more generally he taught us to move beyond a vague, lifeless faith to one that is specific and (therefore) full of life. For example, it’s very different to say, “Lord, I forgive Joe” versus, “Lord, I forgive Joe for the ways he keeps criticizing me and never returns my phone calls.”
Our hope lies in God, not our abilities. In ways big and small, Dr. Levy really modeled that the difference-maker in our lives is God, not us. We believe that on one level, but our lives often show we really don’t. There was a moment where Dr. Levy mentioned a passage from Isaiah where God talks about revealing new things to his people for their benefit. Reflecting on that, Dr. Levy mentioned that he’s been thinking, “You know, that’s what I need… for God to show up and show me something new, something I can’t come up with on my own.” Dr. Levy has recaptured this idea that God can break into our lives at any moment and take us way further than we ever could on our own.
After listening to his talks, you may have your own takeaways. The key, though, is asking God to help us start living it out. (I’m working through the declaration of forgiveness pretty regularly). That’s where life becomes exciting, where we go beyond information downloads to real-life change. That should be true whether we’re listening to a talk, a sermon, or just looking around us (see Proverbs). When we do that, each day becomes a new adventure.
What one thing is God leading you to start living out?
After a nice break for the Christmas season, it’s good to be back for another year. As the year begins, I want to pass along an online devotional blog (Morning Glory, Evening Grace) that’s simple and refreshing.
Twice a day, posts containing very short bible passages – with no commentary – are grouped around important topics. For example, yesterday’s posts were about the words we use and took me just two minutes to read. (Although I’m feeling convicted by what I read!) Since I subscribed, future posts will show up in my inbox.
That’s it. I know that, as the year begins, I need to give more attention to what God says and invite you to join me in taking this simple step.
The talk is longer (1 hour), but well worth the listen. You’ll learn a lot about prayer, but more importantly, be in the presence of someone who knows God deeply and come away reminded that you can, too.
I’d love to hear about your thoughts and prayer journey in the comments section.
A local physician made me aware of a pro-life event to be held near Penn’s campus on November 20th. Participants include contemporary Christian singer Bebo Norman and abortion survivor Gianna Jensen. More information, and tickets for the event, can be found by following this link.
Are you a leader on campus, at work, and/or somewhere else? If you’re not yet, do you want to be? It can be really hard to keep growing in this role when we’re busy, but we need to keep chipping away at it.
To that end, I just discovered these short leadership posts and videos by Mark Driscoll, Senior Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. They’re quick and very helpful. You may need to adapt them a bit to your context, but that’s part of what leadership is all about – pulling ideas from a million different places, talking them through with God, and figuring out how He wants you to use them right where you are.
Here in Philadelphia, many of us stay up-to-date with developments in medicine through the New York Times through contributors like Dr. Pauline Chen and its broad Health section.
At the same time, since healthcare training is so intense and consuming, it’s easy for our lives to shrink down to the size of medicine. Here are four online resources I like that may help you expand your own horizons.
Arts & Literature Daily – aldaily.com. This site gathers thoughtful articles, book reviews and opinion pieces from all over the web. Generally not bedtime reading, but it will make you think. No surprise, as Dr. John Patrick put me on to this some time ago.
Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF) – ccef.org. Insightful, shorter posts on how the Christian faith connects with where we live everyday. Great for your own personal growth, as well as helping the people around you.
First Things – firstthings.com. Published by an interreligious, nonpartisan research and education institute that aims to shape society through a religiously informed public policy. Some of the pieces are free, while others require a $15/year subscription.
Kevin MD – kevinmd.com. Founded by primary care physician Kevin Pho, this blog will help you stay up on current trends in various areas of medicine. The blog features detailed commentary as well as shorter posts by many other contributors. Voted best medblog of 2008 and regularly cited by major media.
As you sift through the million different pieces you could read, don’t get overwhelmed. Feel free to pick-and-choose and have fun (link to Webster’s definition provided for those whose training / career has caused them to forget what this means).
Now you can follow Dr. Erik Lystad (PGY-1, Family Medicine) as he blogs about his journey on cmdaresident.blogspot.com. I enjoyed getting to know Dr. Lystad during his time in Philadelphia, and think that you will find his posts insightful.
This month, CMDA is rolling out our new monthly student newsletter. You’ll find a link to our Life Support Podcast, which currently features an interview with Dr. David Levy, a neurosurgeon who’s learned a lot about the impact of praying with his patients. He’s written a fantastic book on this subject called Grey Matter, which I can highly recommend.
Ever wonder if it’s appropriate to talk about spirituality with patients? Many people believe that “science” and “spirituality” are incompatible, but a growing body of research (over 4,000 studies) shows that they belong together.
In this video message (see above), given at a recent MCO Healthcare Fellowship gathering, Dr. Josh Uy helps us navigate through, and apply, the current research. (Thanks to Dan Mirsch for providing the video).
Dr. Uy has also made other documents related to his talk available: