Category Archives: David Martin

Eternal Music

I am a song

Color bursting

Upon the ear

Sometimes a song of quiet strings

Haunting melodies or flowing streams

Sometimes a piercing blast on a trumpet

Calling “awake! Awake!

Come play and dance

To the song I hear

It is joy or sorrow

Glee or pain

Do you dare to dance with me?

Or choose your own melody, but dance.

Dance with abandon

Stare deep within

And don’t be afraid

Of the wildness there

That seeks a melody

Your melody to aria bring

And chorus swell

With angels throng

The song.

The singing

Of joy to the world

For which we all long.

                                                                                         -David F. Martin

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Finding God in Our Mortality

 

With each passing year, death seems more tangible.  Physical losses shout loudly to those of us who have traveled not years, but decades.

I noticed weakness first in my hands.  In the first half of life, hermetically sealed bags of food were torn, ripped and defeated with aplomb.  Now, scissors find their way onto my fingers before morsels can be applied from bag to tongue.  The strength is no longer accessible, and though I dutifully squeeze a rubber ball, time and age seem to have their way.

Gary Shandlin, a comedian of note within my generational orbit, recently died.  He was just 66. I say “just” because, at 60, it seems so “around the corner.”

Why do we begin to notice obituaries?  Our mortality beckons us to consider the kingdom of God, and how we participate in its existence.

I am drawn to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25.  Here Jesus describes his followers as those who visit the sick and those in prison.  Often modern preaching focuses on negative aspects of those who will miss the kingdom of God, while omitting the theological fact that kingdom work is in place to happen now!

Bono, of the band U2, once said:

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house.  God is in the of silence  a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives.  God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war.

As a hospital chaplain, I might add:  “God is in the hospital room.”  It is there that the sick…people just like me, like you…consider their mortality.  When we arrive in those rooms to connect, God is already there.  The kingdom of God is among us.

So join me in re-imagining communing with God in the everyday—sometimes mundane, sometimes dramatic—daily lives we live.  There we are invited to find a most uncommon Presence, one already blessing us in surprising ways.

–David Martin, D.Min.,BCC

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What My Boston Terrier Taught Me About Theology

Boston_Terrier_11_months_9Now that I have your attention, what does a dog have to do with faith, after all?  Here’s the deal.  In the mornings, I sit in my prayer nook, looking over my backyard.  Butterflies flit about on hot summer mornings.  Hummingbirds occasionally visit my feeders, and bright red Cardinals steal seed (and I don’t mind at all).

My Boston Terrier sits by my side on the love seat, eyes half shut and content.  She is named Blue because one eye is blue, and the other black, making for a bizarre alien appearance.  Boston Terriers have a blunted face, squashed as if they have run into a brick wall, and their snoring is a bit disconcerting while I am trying to enjoy quiet moments with the good Lord.

Yet I accept her noise as part of the song of life.  Her presence comforts me as well, and I cannot resist stroking her soft coat.  This crusty west Texas farm boy has to confess loving old Blue, now 12 (and in dog years that makes her about 84).  I feed her, give her medicine and keep her water bowl filled.  She does nothing to deserve this really.  In fact, she is a bit of a pain.  When we go on vacation, we have to pay Pets Plus a fortune to babysit her.

But I love Blue just the same.  This morning I thought that God loves me like I love this silly dog, except a whole lot more!  I don’t do anything to deserve it.  I make funny nosies, complain, and as I age, I must admit that I am not a candidate for GQ magazine.  But just like old Blue, I let God’s gentle caress come to me in moments of quiet and rest.  God will take care of me, feed me and lead me to quiet waters.

Not a bad deal for God’s creatures, and are we not much greater than the beasts of the field, or the pets upon which we lavish so much affection?

Much more, indeed.

 

 

 

The Healing Touch

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WHAT MAY HAVE HAPPENED

Jesus and his followers were walking a dusty street.  Children danced about them with glee, giggling as Jesus would would toss them dried figs.  Once a dog snatched the sweet treat in mid air, and the happy band added their laughter to that of the children.  It looked like another joyful day to listen to this unique rabbi, who had such an appeal to the poor of Palestine.

But then came the cry, “Unclean!  Unclean!”  The crowd around Jesus froze in their tracks as the diseased man approached, then shrunk back dismayed as Jesus strode forward to meet the leper.

“Has he taken leave of his senses again?” one man snorted derisively.   Another, this time a woman, implored, “Let us see what the Master will do.”

Jesus glanced at his followers, now a full fifty meters behind him, as the leper fell to his knees and begged, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean!”  The heart of Christ went out to the man, while his anger burned bright at the pain of a fallen world.  The crowd saw his jaws clench for a moment, then his shoulders relaxed as he said, “I am willing.”  He reached forward with his hand, and to the horror of the crowd, touched the rotted flesh, saying, “Be clean!”

As if by magic, (or should we say), by the power of God, the man’s leprous hands turned from white to a healthy pink.  He leapt into the air thanking and praising God, while some of the women began to creep closer for a glimpse of yet another miracle performed by this very strange rabbi.  Others stopped following that day, no longer willing to risk exposure to the worst disease known to humanity.

WHAT DID HAPPEN

Mark 1:40-45 (MEV)

40 A leper came to Him, pleading with Him and kneeling before Him, saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, extended His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will. Be clean.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, the leprosy immediately departed from him, and he was cleansed.

43 He sternly warned him, and sent him away at once, 44 saying, “See that you say nothing to anyone. But go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news around, so that Jesus could no more openly enter the city, but was out in remote places. And they came to Him from every quarter.

Are you suffering illness?  Ask for healing.  It may come as you hope, or health may arrive in other surprising ways.  But by all means, ask.  The anger of Jesus burns, not at you, but at the illness that afflicts you.

He is willing to heal.

Written by: David Martin

 

 

Diagnosis Terminal

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Cancer.

Stage four.

No more.

I will be no more.

Surgery removed much

In an effort to buy time.

But the cost was high.

A feeding tube was inserted

No more eating.

No more.

How much more time?

No one could tell him.

Forty-eight seemed so young.

And he had a sixteen year old at home.

He wanted to see him graduate, no less.

But no more.

Too much pain.

Too much sickness.

Too much.

No more of this,

But more of that

Which he struggled to say.

As he spoke of God

Heaven and hope.

More.

 

 

When Helping Literally Hurts

Pulling a double shift at the hospital wasn’t a habit Nurse Gambol wanted to develop, but the comp time was nice.  Heading out to the parking garage, Wendi heard the screams of a female.  What she saw sent a jolt through her body.  Two young men were beating a grey headed woman.  Wendi never hesitated, and yelled at the two perpetrators, “The police are on their way!”

Later, in the hospital room, she admitted this wasn’t the best idea, for the attackers turned their attention to her.  The ensuing assault ended with a stab wound, a split jaw, and the fracture of her fourth and fifth vertebrae.injured nurse.jpg

Fortunately for Wendi, someone else had witnessed the crime and called the police.  Her life was ebbing onto the concrete floor, but the emergency room was only steps away.  Though Wendi survived, she lives in constant pain, clinging to life for her three grandchildren, whom she adores.

In addition to her physical scars, she lives in fear that her attackers will be released someday to revisit the horrors of the crime.  Violence does it work on the mind as well as the body.

As a chaplain, I feel that if the patient’s spiritual resources can be identified and brought to bear, healing can begin.  While listening to this woman’s story for twenty minutes in jaw dropping silence, I wondered.

But I drew a deep breath, and felt my body relax.  One cannot not undo history, nor can I heal the deep psychological scars from such a horrific crime.

However, I could listen and offer to pray.  How does one describe the holiness of Wendi’s tears as I prayed, her hand trembling in mine?  Such moments can only be experienced when the Great Physician is invoked.

The power of that experience is sacred ground.  LifeLine chaplains bring the healing of Christ to the broken body, and the wounded spirit.

It will change you…for the better.  II Corinthians 1:5 – “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort, too.”

As Long as Our Hope Beats

As Long as Our Hope Beats

By: Luke Schumann
Submitted by: David martin

What do you do when you have lost all hope? Is hope what keeps us alive? Would we be able to even take a breath if we lacked every concept of hope?

Hope for ourselves.
Hope for our loved ones.
Hope for humanity.
Would we still be fighting for each new day if we did not have hope?

What if we were the last source of hope for a loved one? For our sister. For our mother. For our spiritual kin. Would that be enough?

What could we do to show our loved ones that we care? How can we convince them that there is more to life than our present suffering—that though the end may be near, there is more that lies beyond it?

To where do we direct their hope (or lack thereof)? In a God they can’t see? In a future that’s dwindling as quickly as they are? In a paradise that seems all but uncertain? In themselves? In their loved ones, if they have any? In those who have been tasked with providing their healing and care?

I had never been able to imagine a life without hope until I encountered it head-on. I had felt hopeless in my task as a pastor, as a shepherd for the sheep that I loved so dearly.

And yet there was a present strength found in this woman’s sister. Peace that had exceeded all comprehension. Hope that was blind to the reality that reigned supreme in her sister’s heart. Love that grabbed ahold of [Elizabeth] and refused to let go. This love told her that her life had meaning. This hope that ever peaked its way into the blinds of her shuttered eyes told her that love had not left her. Faith was still there. Hope had not departed.

Perhaps that which keeps us going today is something more than a beating heart, be it real or artificial. This thing is invisible, yet its impact is obvious and astronomical. It affects each and every one of us, and because of that it is a universal unifier. Hope builds a wall around fear, doubt, and uncertainty, and, when placed on a firm foundation, remains strong in the midst of adversity.

So may we remain firm in hope. May we surround our loved ones who may have forgotten hope and help their shuttered eyes to see light again. May we, like the psalmist, never cease to sing,

“We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.”
(Psalm 33:20-22)

May we continue to fight for love, faith, and peace for as long as our hope beats.

 

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