Home > Crossway Blog > Archive for September, 2011

Archive for September, 2011

Video: Bloodlines Trailer

This month marks the release of John Piper’s latest book, Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian.

Crossway will also be releasing an exclusive Bloodlines video documentary featuring Pastor John as he walks through his personal story of growing up in the racist South. His personal story boldly champions the transforming power of the gospel and the beauty of racial diversity and harmony in Christ.

Here’s the 2 minute trailer:

September 13, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News,Video | Author: James Kinnard @ 3:07 pm | 0 Comments »

Wisdom for Dealing with End of Life Issues from a Hospice Nurse’s Perspective (Part 2)

Earlier today we posted part 1 of our interview with Deborah Howard, author of Sunsets: Reflections for Life’s Final Journey. If you didn’t have a chance to read part 1, check it out here. Deborah continues:

6. What’s the difference between the way hospitals and hospice approach death?
In general, a hospital is going to do everything in its power to keep the patient alive—including what is known as “heroic measures.” Those include
mechanical ventilation, CPR, defibrillation and emergency surgery. Back in my ICU days, when a patient started to “crash”, we immediately got the families out of the room (if it occurred during visiting hours) and called a code. Then we did everything we could to try to bring the patient back to a stable condition. A code blue is quite traumatic and, unlike attempts you see on TV, most patients still did not survive. Hospice is so different. We know our patients are not going to get better, so the goal is to keep them comfortable. Part of that comfort is allowing them to live out their last days surrounded by family and friends in the comfort of their home. And when the end comes, instead of ushering the family into another room, we call them to the bedside. By that point, we’ve taught them what to expect and what to do when it happens. It’s usually a very peaceful experience for the patient, and a quiet, though emotional, one for the family. But there’s calm, not chaos. Intimacy, not a cold, sterile environment. Hospitals are doing better these days with death. The only time they can ensure a calm passage though is when the patient/family has signed a DNR order. Do Not Resuscitate means that in those final moments, the patient has determined they do not want to be placed on a ventilator, or given CPR, defibrillated or rushed to surgery. So the doctor writes orders for comfort care, emotionally supports the family, allows them access to the patient, and tries to ensure a quiet, gentle passing. That’s why the DNR is so valuable to those who want to avoid heroics to keep them alive at any cost.

7. What are some of the myths about hospice that may be misconceptions?
One of the most prevalent is the idea that you have to actually be on your deathbed to qualify for hospice. Not true. If you have a terminal illness and are no longer seeking curative measures you will, in most cases, qualify for hospice. There is, in the doctor’s best opinion, a prognosis of less than six months, but we’ve had patients for over two years! As long as they are still appropriate for hospice, they stay in the hospice program. But we’ve admitted patients to our service who still travel and garden and cycle, etc. We want them to be as active as possible for as long as possible. We teach and train both patient and family for the time when they will certainly begin to decline. So we’re their advocate! This is one difference between home health and hospice. In home health, the patient has to be homebound. Not so in hospice. Another myth is that it’s a depressing situation to be in hospice. Quite the contrary. People who gravitate to hospice are usually caring, happy, sensitive people who feel a calling to minister to those who haven’t long to live upon this earth. We love to laugh and do all we can to bring joy and light to a patient’s final days. Yes, we’re comfortable discussing death and dying, but we’re equally qualified to enhance the patient’s final days, as well. A slogan in our office said, “We may not be able to add days to your life, but we can add life to your days.” Still another misconception is that many people are unaware that patients can have in-home hospice. Actually, we can see the patient wherever they reside—in their homes, in an in-patient hospice facility, in assisted living, in a nursing home, or in the hospital. Another myth is that hospice “takes over”. Not true. We help manage the patient’s care. But the bulk of our job is teaching families how to care for the patient, not having us move in to take over. To those who are unsure of whether hospice is right for you, I urge you to try it. Most people don’t realize that you can get out of hospice just by picking up the phone and calling the office. That’s it! However, I must say that hardly anyone actually does that. Once they experience the peace and calm of having hospice personnel around, they rarely want to leave our service, even though they know they can.

8. How do you answer the question “Where is God in all of this?” (when people are grieving and suffering)
Some, even believers, find themselves asking, “If God is so good, why is this happening to me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” “Why isn’t God answering my prayers?” “Where is God in all of this?” This is not a question easily answered in one paragraph. I wrote a whole book about it aptly titled, Where is God in All of This?. But Chapter 6 of Sunsets also deals with these important questions. And the bottom line answer is, He’s right in the midst of it! We do not have an impotent God too weak and ineffective to answer our prayers. But we need to keep in mind that sometimes the answer to our prayers is, “No.” Nor do we have a God so vengeful and mean that He sends pain and sorrow our way capriciously. No, our Lord is wise, loving and just. He upholds us with His righteous right hand, according to Psalm 63:8. But since the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, sin and death have been a part of our world. And the result is that we age, we get sick, and we die. But God is sovereign over all of it. He determines our length of days, the means by which we die, and the effect our passing has on our loved ones. But we are told repeatedly in the scriptures that there will be two results of our suffering—good for us, and glory to God. Our pain has purpose! It is not frivolous. We may not always understand the “whys” but then we don’t have to understand them in order to trust and obey God. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28.

9. How do you comfort a family when an unbeliever dies?
This can be a tough issue. You can’t very well say, without providing false hope, “Well, at least now his suffering is over,” or “He’s in a better place now.” What I’ve done is to make the comfort directed more toward the family than the patient. I’ll say things like, “You were there for them the whole way,” or “You did such an outstanding job of caring for them,” or even, “I’m hoping that now you will finally be able to have a life again!” One of my favorite responses is, “You did a wonderful job. Now you need to take care of yourself as well as you took care of your loved one. Get some rest. Do things you haven’t been able to do for so long.” It depends on the situation.

10. Have you ever had to apply these truths to your own life, or is your experience merely going through this with others?
As a matter of fact, just as I was doing my final rewrite on Sunsets, my dear brother, John, was diagnosed with cancer. John and I were amazingly close, so this hit me hard. As I walked this road with my brother, I was so thankful that my mind and heart were already saturated with these truths. Losing him was the most painful event of my life, but I was able to go through it with my faith and trust intact. I never questioned God’s goodness. I never for an instant felt abandoned by Him. I believe this was due to the work I’d already invested in learning the scriptures. When my book, It’s Not Fair!, was released my husband had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. By God’s grace, he is now cancer-free, but even in those dark times after his diagnosis leading to surgery, I never once thought it was unfair that God was having us walk down that path. When, Where is God in All of This? came out, my husband had just retired and we were on the precipice of a new era of our lives where we were faced with living on a pension plus social security and didn’t know just how that would work. The reason I went through all these potentially upsetting things without despair is not because I’m such a wonderful, strong and together human being. It was because I belong to the King of Kings, because my mind is continually refreshed by the truths of His word, and because He’s kept His promise to be with me in the midst of every heartache. His presence is all we need to get through any trial or upheaval in our lives. That’s why my biggest piece of advice to anyone who is suffering is to dive into the Word, my friends. Remind yourself of Who our God is. Refresh your soul by rehearsing the comforting promises of a loving God to His wayward children. That’s the only way to fully place the situations in your own life into a bigger, spiritual perspective that will allow you to walk through life with joy, confidence, faith and contentment, even through the tears of adversity.

Learn more about Sunsets: Reflections for Life’s Final Journey

September 9, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Death,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Trials / Suffering | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 10:00 am | 0 Comments »

Wisdom for Dealing with End of Life Issues from a Hospice Nurse’s Perspective

Interview with Deborah Howard

Deborah Howard’s book, Sunsets: Reflections for Life’s Final Journey, is for anyone with family or friends facing end of life issues or terminal diagnoses. She offers insight that will help you walk through the challenging times that are ahead. She was kind enough to take the time to answer a handful of questions for the blog. Here’s part one (of two):

  1. You didn’t start your career off as a hospice nurse. How and why did you decide to go into this specific field?
    Like a lot of people, I suffered under the misguided conclusion that hospice was all gloom and doom, and death and dying, and I thought it would be really depressing. A friend of mine who was an oncology nurse went to work with hospice and immediately started bugging me about it. She’d say, “I know you, Deborah. You have such a heart for hospice and you don’t even know it. You’d be so perfect working here. Please, come interview.” Twice, I refused. The third time she called, I agreed to come talk. Once I found out what hospice really was all about, I was sold! I traveled around with her one day and saw what she did in all these homes, how she touched people’s lives. I wanted to make that kind of a difference, too. So I signed up with hospice and never looked back. Not only did I NOT find it depressing, but extremely rewarding. There was not a day that went by that I didn’t know, without a doubt, that I had made a significant difference in someone’s life. I often pray for God to use me as a vessel. Hospice gave me the opportunity to be used by Him, and through my experience I was able to write Sunsets.
  2. You mention the importance of believers preparing for and being preoccupied with heavenly things even when death does not yet seem imminent. Why is this so important? What does this practically look like?
    Like the apostle Paul, I encourage people to keep their minds on eternal, heavenly things. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,” Colossians 3:1-2. This is more about the way we LIVE than the way we die. Not only is this attitude of faith honoring to our Lord, but keeping this godly, spiritual perspective in mind sifts through our day to day concerns. If we are right with God, we can “live and move and have our being” in Him, and in so doing, can have joy-filled lives—even in the midst of trials. If we constantly worry about death or sickness or losing our money or possessions, we will live stress-filled lives. What I’ve found is that when we are prepared to join Christ in eternity, we are then able to view the temporal with less of a tendency to cling to the world. We can then hold the things and the people we love with an open hand, trusting God in all things.
  3. What are some practical things family and friends can do to comfort those who are dying?
    Do them the honor of not pretending this isn’t happening to them, that they’re going to get better if they just keep a positive attitude. Friends and family who persist in this attitude actually lose the opportunity to share in their loved one’s burdens. Instead, let them know how much you love them, that they have made a difference in your life and that you’ll never forget them. Offer to take them for a drive (which is often the only thing they have the energy to do), or bring them a milkshake, or mow their yard, or sweep off the porch, or bring a meal to their family, or pray with them, or read from the Bible to them. Even people who have never been interested in spiritual things may suddenly become more receptive when they realize their “hereafter” is nearer and more relevant than they had previously thought.
  4. How can friends and family best serve those who are grieving?
    Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” So my advice would be to come alongside those who are grieving. We should become a splint to add strength and mobility to their lives as they struggle through. There are times when caregivers feel they can’t go through this. Remind them that God will give them the strength to go through it, and that you want to be there to uphold them when they feel they can’t go on. Instead of saying a blanket, “If you need anything, call me,” be specific in your offer to help. “I’m going to the store to get a few things. What can I pick up for you?” Or, “why don’t I come by tomorrow morning about 10:30? I’ll sit with ______ while you go out to lunch or run a few errands.” Or, “Since I’m here, why don’t you go upstairs and take a long, leisurely bath, or a nice, quiet nap or whatever you want to do? I’d be happy to sit and visit with ______.” Or, “why don’t I take your kids home with me for the weekend?” Keep your eyes open. What needs to be done? Flowerbeds need weeding? House need dusting? Laundry or dishes stacking up? Do them! Don’t wait to be asked. Bills piling up? Sometimes a wife who has never paid a bill in her life is left with that responsibility and doesn’t have a clue how to do it. Ask her if you could help pay some bills, teaching her as you go. Be creative with the ways you choose to help others. Even if you don’t do it exactly as someone else would, the effort and the intention will mean the world to someone who is struggling to keep their world from spinning out of control. Being on call 24/7 with a sick, and/or dying person is exhausting and complicated. Doing that and keeping house and cooking meals and doing laundry and . . . well, most caregivers would welcome a little relief, even if they’d never ask for help.
  5. You say that denial is at worst destructive, and at best procrastination. How can grieving people move beyond denial or optimistic wishful thinking? What’s the difference between denial and hope?
    I believe the biggest difference is that denial hinders the constructive progression through a serious illness; hope propels you forward. We are told, in Philippians 4:8, to think about “whatever is true.” When we deny the reality of an illness, we focus on what is false, not what is true. We think things like, “That can’t be,” “The doctor’s got to be wrong,” or “He’s been through worse than this before and come out of it every time. I’m sure he can do it again.” When we do that in the face of facts that say otherwise, we not only deny reality, but we reject God’s providence. The initial step in moving beyond denial is the recognition of it in the first place. Once you recognize you’ve been in denial, you must confess it to the Lord and ask Him to equip you with the strength, knowledge and hope that will make you an asset to your loved one instead of a hindrance. Many people pray for a miracle. But our hope is not in the miracle; it is in the Lord, Who holds our future. Yes, by all means, pray for the miracle, but faithfully trust God to work His will in your loved one’s life—whatever that will is, knowing that God’s will is perfect and that our suffering will result in two things – ultimate good for us and ultimate glory for Him.

Learn more about Sunsets and stay tuned for part 2 of the interview.

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Death,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Trials / Suffering | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 6:00 am | 0 Comments »

9/11 Shows the Value of Human Life

Earlier this week we posted two excerpts from When Worlds Collide by R. C. Sproul (Was 9/11 a Senseless Tragedy? and 9/11 was a Blow to Moral Relativism). Sproul continues to explain how 9/11 proves the value of human life:

We witnessed on 9/11 the absolute wickedness of an assault on human life. We also saw, with the implosion of those buildings, the practical end of macroevolution as a defining theory for the human species. Who really believes anymore that mankind is merely a grown-up germ? Who believes anymore that we are nothing but cosmic accidents emerging fortuitously from the slime and destined for annihilation? If we truly believe that, when we see pictures of thousands of people destroyed by an act of violence, it should merely make us yawn. The mass destruction of grown-up germs who have no eternal significance is no more important than going into our yard and using a cherry bomb to blow up an anthill.

But every human being in America knows that he or she is not an ant. Every person on this planet knows that he or she is not a germ. We all know that human life is sacred and that human life is meaningful, which it could not be if there were no purpose for human existence, as macro- evolutionists believe.

If God does not exist, there is no purpose to human existence. We would be, as Jean-Paul Sartre said, nothing more than a “useless passion.” But if we understand the existence of God and relate our own existence to His existence, we know that every human life is of great value. We know that human life matters. We know that it matters ultimately that human beings were murdered in the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon and on the four planes that went down on that day.

Learn more about When Worlds Collide by R. C. Sproul.

September 8, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Trials / Suffering | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 6:00 am | (2) Comments »

9/11 as a Mortal Blow to Relativism

Earlier this week we posted an excerpt from When Worlds Collide by R. C. Sproul (Was 9/11 a Senseless Tragedy?) We continue today with Sproul briefly explaining one consequence of 9/11 that he is in fact thankful for:

One of the things that I am grateful for as a consequence of the tragedy that befell the United States on 9/11 is something we began to hear on television. Suddenly it was politically acceptable for the media to speak of real, objective evil. Indeed, when I watched the buildings implode, I knew we had marked a turning point of moral relativism in American history. The events of 9/11 were a mortal blow to relativism, because the response of Americans and the response of people the world over, after looking at this heinous attack on human life, was the very “unrelativistic” declaration that “This is evil.”

Recently I saw that same affirmation made by a national news service, where a headline bulletin on the screen proclaimed, “The end of moral relativism.” One cannot have such a shocking encounter with pure evil and walk away, saying, “Well, it’s a relative thing.”

Learn more about When Worlds Collide: Where is God When Terror Strikes? or download a free sample chapter.

September 7, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Trials / Suffering | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 1:00 pm | 0 Comments »