Monday, 19 July 2010

Aunty Gwen 100 hundred years not out

Last week my Aunty Gwen was 100 years old.  She still  lives alone in her little bungalow and her neighbours kindly put on a street party for her-it was lovely. Here she is enjoying the party.
Doesn't look bad does she?

Life is very precious and a long life is a great gift. Although of course for many ageing is quite a challenge and caring for an ageing relative can be very wearing. And then, sadly many die 'prematurely'. This current life can have many joys, but ultimately in 'ageless' universe,  it's just so short, 

I'm so relieved that the resurrection of Jesus gives me great hope of a renewed world, expressed in the timeless words of the book of Revelation (from the King James version) chapter 21
 Tom Wright  (currently Bishop of Durham) is a fine theologian and speaks and writes helpfully on the resurrection. It's not as unbelievable as you may think. Take a look at this very short video

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

How Great Thou Art

Last Sunday I went to Bedford Pentecostal Church with my wife Liz. It was a nostalgic and lovely time since it was the church where we both became Christians whilst in our teens.

We sang the well known song How great thou art to start the day and although I have sung this song many times, I found myself strangely moved. Especially by the words of the third verse
'And when I think that God his son not sparing, sent him to die. I scarce can take it in. That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, he bled and died to take away my sin'  
I had never quite thought about Jesus gladly bearing the weight of my sin.  But as I stood and listened to others singing I recalled the words from the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, 'who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross' (Hebrews 12.3). Believe it or not, the Lord Jesus experienced joy in paying the price for my sin. And of course for yours too!

When it comes to giving, whether our time or talents or money, we are often rather reluctant. Thank God for a saviour who generously and gladly gives. He puts us to shame-but still welcomes us.

Amazing grace!

'It's only words, and words are all I have..'

'Drink 6 cups of water today' is better than saying, 'Drink more fluids'. So saith the Oxford Handbook of Clinical medicine.

When doctors think about communication skills they are usually thinking about the way that we use words to speak to patients. But what about the words that patients use when speaking to us?

Many a time I've been alerted to an unknown fellow medic or health professional by them slipping in to the conversation phrases like, 'I think I've got a uti' or 'what do my bloods show?' or 'what do you make of this lesion?' Words that just give away some experience or knowledge.

Today I was taken aback by a wonderful 87 year lady of French extraction whose English is imaculate but whose accent is wonderfully French. When disucssing her cough she told me that it was difficult to  expectorate. I really don't think that anyone in my 32 years as a doctor has ever siad that to me before. I commended her for the excellentchoiceof words and she smilingly said, 'well it's from the Latin, I learned Latin for 7 years.'

Indeed as I pondered with her I dredged up my 3 years of Latin and just about worked out that the ex means something like from or out of, and of course pectus must mean chest, as in 'look at his pecs'!! I'd never thought of it before. Not exactly a Nobel prize winning disocvery, but just one of the many happenings in the life of a family doctor that makes life and work so vaired and enjoyable.

GPs don't have a huge amount of hi-tech at their disposal, but words remain a vital tool and are like the pen, are still mightier than the sword!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Christianity and Environmentalism

Climate change, sustainability, environmentalism, global warming, and so go the various buzz words we hear so much if.  What is a Christian believer to think?

For an excellent talk and a surprising angle on how God is committed to the earth he has made, listen to this talk entitled Can faith be green? by Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

More reading in Croatia

One of the first 'grown up' books I remember owning is a small hardback translation of the New Testament. It was J B Phillips New Testament in Modern English. My mother has lovingly inscribed my name and address in the frontispiece, David Bartlett 5 Mareth Road Bedford 1965. 5 Mareth Road, the house I was born and lived in for my first 17 years.

J. B Philips began his work of translating the New Testament (NT) into modern English whilst a young curate in a South London parish during the second world war. His youth group struggled with the King James version, so Phillips set about the task of bringing the language up to date, giving one morning of every week to the work. He started in 1943 and completed the NT in 1946.

It's not particular well known today although certain phrases within it have found their place, of note is his translation of Romans 12.2 ;
Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its mould, but let God re-mould you from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of try maturity'.

Whilst in Croatia I have enjoyed reading Phillips' translation of Mark's gospel alongside some comments by the translator, it's called  Peter's portrait of Jesus, and it's well wroth getting hold of a second hand copy.

In writing about the incident in Mark 1 where Jesus is confronted by a man who is, 'in the grip of an evil spirit', Phillips comments,

Mark is at pains to point out that various spirits of evil recognise the power of  Jesus in our cleverness nearly all of us reject the idea of possession by an 'evil spirit'. All can be explained by psychology etc. But the deep set evil that spoils our common life cannot so easily be explained away.

And then when speaking of the subsequent verses when Jesus speaks to the afflicted man, 

Jesus speaks in a sharp rebuke, and,  if we take the Greek word literally, he tells  the evil spirit to 'be muzzled'. It is not a polite expression and I must say I was tempted to translate it by the modern slang, 'belt up'!

I've enjoyed reading the thoughts of a translator grappling with the text-and not just any old text. As Phillips recounted in his book describing the translation process, 'it's been rather like being an electrician rewiring an old house without being able to turn off the electricity at the mains'.

The New Testament is that powerful. If it's been a while since you picked it up and read it why not  get yourself a modern translation like Phillips, or the more readily available NIV translation and give it a go. You might be 'shocked'!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Homoeopathy, Boots and the 10:23 campaign!

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I have formally bidden farewell to homoeopathy.  At the time I didn't realise how strong was the groundswell against it, but I've now come across the 10:23 campaign. A vociferous group who campaign on the  slogan, 'homeopathy:there's nothing in it'. They seem to particularly have it in for Boots plc who continue to stock and sell such products despite their own professed acknowledgement of it's lack of efficacy.

Personally I don't wish to be too hard on the homoeopathic fraternity. By and large I take them to be thoughtful and sincerely wishing their patients well. But sadly their is an undertone of anti-orthodox medicine which, I believe, goes too far-especially when parents are, for example, advised against immunisation for their children. And ultimately thoughtfulness and kindness is of reduced value if it is promoting a completely invalid form of medicine. There's a good comment on the potential harm of homoeopathy on the 10:23 website, interestingly written by one of the co-authors of the book Trick or treatment which I mentioned last time.

However I do wish the 10:23 campaign would get their spelling right! It's homoeopathy not homeopathy. We're Brits not Americans or French. Hence it's the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Reading in Croatia

Just back from two relaxing weeks in Croatia with Liz. We were joined by our youngest, Hannah,  for the last few days.It was lovely  How fortunate we are to have the resources for such a treat.

One of my great joys is reading, and preparing my reading list for holiday is half the fun. I try to mix things up somewhat and I got through five whilst away . A brief comment about each this week will suffice.

Firstly A Painted House by John Grisham. I've only read a couple of his previously (The street lawyer and The last juror) and was expecting something similar, but what a surprise. It was like reading a 21st century Nevile Shute! I absolutely loved it. OK somewhat slow moving, but atmospheric, intriguing and with believable characters. I guess part of the joy was being transported to early 1950s rural Arkansas and the travails of a struggling cotton farm.  It was all so fresh to me and a helpful reminder of some of the challenges of living before mobile phones, air conditioning and Big Brother.

There are some wonderful scenes. The carnival and the unbeaten Samson, challenging all comers to survive 60 seconds in the ring, the annual baseball match between the Baptists and Methodists, the gathering round the radio on Saturday to listen to the crackling commentary for the baseball, and the formidable Reverend Akers,  'he liked the carnival it gave him something to preach  against'!!  Perhaps the least believable part of the book was the world as viewed through the narrator-7 year old Luke Chandler. He just seemed to have too mature view of the world and it's complexities.

A great read.

A message from the other side

No, not that side! But thank God got through surgery ok yesterday. And thanks to all for love support and prayer.