A book extract, for fun.

Beyond understandng.jpg

I thought today I’d share a fun story from my new book which will be published shortly. It is called Prayer, Medicine and Miracles, will be free, at least for a while, and is similar to God in the ICU, but also different.

——–o ——-


Those were primitive days in some ways and I hasten to say that the method being taught to us more than half a century ago would never be practiced today.

For a general anaesthetic, the patient sat in the dental chair and a small mask was strapped to his face to cover just his nose, thus allowing the dentist access to his mouth. A curved connection allowed the mask to be attached to the tube of the anaesthetic machine, which delivered the anaesthetic gas to the patient. Usually the patient received a small dose of intravenous anaesthetic followed by nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and a vapour similar to ether, via the nasal mask.

On this day, the anaesthetist elected to use a different method. She would fill the patient’s lungs with 100% oxygen, she said, by getting him to breathe it for a full five minutes. Then she would turn off the oxygen and give him pure nitrous oxide and nothing else. The oxygen in his lungs, as it dissolved in the blood passing through, would pull the nitrous oxide deep into the lungs and the patient would rapidly go to sleep.

That was the theory.

Nitrous oxide, however is a very weak anaesthetic. For this reason it is always combined with the modern equivalents of ether and choroform. Only a small, frail individual who goes to sleep easily would be a candidate for the type of anaesthetic our teacher was proposing. True, she had chosen a gentle, soft spoken man, but he was heavily built, with a florrid face that betrayed his drinking habits. Habitual alcohol use makes one resistant to anaesthetics.

All went well as she strapped on the nasal mask and curved connection and attached it to the anaesthetic machine. He sat placidly breathing in 100% oxygen. Then she turned off the oxygen and turned up the nitrous oxide.  His eyes glazed over and his lids drooped.

Suddenly, with a roar like a bull he jumped out of the chair. The mask and curved connection detached from the anaesthetic machine and he ran out of the room. Roaring all the way — and looking like an angry rhino with the mask and connection still attached — he tore down the corridor past the line of terrified patients sitting awaiting their turn, a horde of white-coated students, a dentist and a doctor in hot pursuit. The roar echoed nasally through the mask as he bellowed his way out of the building and into the car park. By then the nitrous oxide was losing its effect and as the white coats caught up with him, he became docile once more, peering at us with a puzzled expression while still wearing the little mask and curved connection on his nose.



Tears from the Heart


The Bible says< “As in water, face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man”(Prov. 27:19)

Sometimes we try to hide our hearts, but they are reflected in the water of our eyes.

It is that thought that prompted this piece:


What made you cry? What made the wellsprings of your heart overflow through your eyes and trickle down your cheeks? Was it something sad? Or were they tears of joy? Did the deep pool of your memory render up the death of a romance, the pain of a dying child or the wandering wilderness of a rebellious son? Or was it the glowing memory of an unexpected act of love so spontaneous you knew it was straight from the heart?

The heart is so private – so deeply hidden within. Who can know the heart of another? Yet, for a moment, as happens in a brief touch from heaven that pulls the drapes back a little, it showed in your glistening eyes, the trickle down your cheek and a stifled sniffle. It betrayed a softness – a heart of flesh, not stone; a vulnerability at once endearing and shocking in one as strong as granite.

What made you cry? How I long to pull the curtains back a little more; to see the child within – the real you. Not that your solid dependability is not you, but there is a part I long to hold close, to embrace.

Oh, what made you cry? Open up your heart. I want to cry with you. Whether in joy or pain, I want to be there, our hearts knitted, our tears like confluent streams in the same valley.

For when we cry together we will laugh together.

A Sleeping Child

All the images, from the Christmas just past, of Jesus in the manger or held by his loving parents prompted me to think of the wonder of infants — how they touch the heart by their very mannerisms, and delight with their first unsteady steps, the unfettered glee at something that amuses them or their first hint at an uttered “Dada”.

I suppose that is why the manger scene has had universal appeal down the ages, even in the secular world.

Obviously,as Christians we see more than a sleeping child. We see the wonder of God confined — nailed to our poor planet — as Luci Shaw puts it in her wonderful book Listen to the Green   Also we see the Calvary Cross casting its shadow across the crib.

Nevertheless, it is wonderful the way the Lord has encrypted into our DNA a tender response to any small child and a desire to protect. It prompted me to write the following as a tribute to God’s doing this: 



I do not suppose there is a peace and serenity quite like it; eyes closed with the lashes brushing a soft new cheek; rosebud mouth relaxed, taking the soft waft of each little breath from a softly rounded nose.

A child asleep! All the innocence of that fresh new life brought to the surface for anyone to see. No petty squabbling, no little tantrums  (patent reminders, even at that age, of our fallenness). Just an angelic repose.

What thoughts are moving across that newly forming mind? What images flit through the windows of his soul?

He stirs. A little sigh. The mouth moves, momentarily half forming inexpressible words, sucks a little and settles. There is contentment and rest in every posture of the rosy cheeks, the closed lids, the hand resting on the pillow, halfway to the mouth.

Tomorrow there will be new challenges, new things to explore, to experience and absorb. But for now there is the peace of a body at rest, a mind unsullied from without and a soul at rest, overseen by the Prince of Peace – the One who ordained that it should be so. He made this model of how we should approach Him – of how we should rest in Him.

There can be nothing so tangible as the peace of a sleeping child. The shadow of his guardian angel hovers over the resting form and all seems safe; all seems good; all seems redeemed.

If ever I desire to absorb sweet innocence, to inhale its aroma and stand reverently in its purity, take me to a sleeping child.

Extraordinary ordinary Christmas

Shadows dance on the stable wall, leaping and receding with the flickering flame. The man, candle held high, draws his wife close. Together they gaze adoringly at the soft new face, the puzzled eyes blinking slowly, uncomprehendingly, at the first perception of light. Banished are the memories of the frantic, fruitless search; the desperate plea, “Even your stable will do.”; the hastily spread blanket to soften the straw; the contractions, the rush of water and blood; the first cry; trembling, unfamiliar masculine fingers tying the cord, severing the afterbirth, wrapping the child. For now, there is wonder. Wonder at the miracle of that first breath, at perfect little fingers and toes bending, straightening, trying out this new world.

Humanity at its most poignant, most vulnerable, most heart-warming.

Yet hardly earth-shattering. Not to the passer-by.

So much to overwhelm, with the census. So much to engage the crowded dusty streets for: Accommodation, provisions, registration. No time for a second glance at the new family. History is made at Caesar’s census booths, not in a stable.

Yet heaven holds its breath, angels gaze in awe, the scene reverberates through the cosmos and history tilts upward as He, who once hurled galaxies, lies helpless in a mother’s arms.  The extraordinary wrapped in the ordinary.

How often God wraps the extraordinary in the ordinary:

The leader of God’s nation hidden in a stammering old refugee.

A king clothed as a shepherd boy.

The very Word of God enclosed in personal letters from prison.

Angels entertained as strangers. (Hebrews 13:2)

Creator of all He spoke to; of all that now shone upon him from the heavens; of all that nourished and preserved his family, packaged as a carpenter’s son.

And now, recreated beings in the wrapping of ordinary citizens; Creator’s children; God-bearing vessels; channels of His very Spirit mingling unnoticed with the ordinary. Yet extraordinary. (2 Cor 5:17, 1Cor 3:16)

God, give me eyes that look beyond the wrapping.

Beyond the cantankerous old woman to the bearer of Your word to me for today.

Beyond the brash young boy to Your sonnet, scripted exclusively at the dawn of time. (Eph. 2:10)

Beyond the criminal, the patient, the hungry beggar to an entrance to Your heart — treasures hiding in the world’s trash. (Matt. 25:37-40)

And beyond the stumbling, imperfect church to a glowing, resplendent Bride treasured and transformed by her majestic Groom of Glory.  (Eph.5:25-27)

Making Christmas Real

God gave His Son that all the world
Would have the chance to be with Him.
His glorious presence now was curled
Within the confines of a womb.

His gift to Man took history
And pulled its course away from Hell
Unfathomable mystery
A love that has no parallel.

And now we celebrate His gift
With presents under Christmas trees
With parties, dinners, Christmas cheer
And reunited families

Yet often in this crazy world
We give our gifts, not knowing why.
We break the bank to buy the best
We worry it won’t satisfy.

We party with our families
We eat and drink and stay up late
But if in this we exclude Him
There’s nothing left to celebrate.

It all becomes an empty show
That merely gets us deep in debt
And all the feasting and the hype
Can’t heal our pain, nor our regrets.

For though we share our human love
Forget our woes with food and wine
Our loneliness requires a heart
That’s grateful for a love divine.

We need to know a God who cares
Who wants us all to worship Him
To celebrate the way He’s made
To rescue us from all our sin.

If we party,  give our gifts
Ignoring Him who’s paid the way
Then ‘Happy Christmas’ is just words
Whose meaning fades with Boxing Day

For always when we celebrate
A God who came to be with us
The next act hovers in the wings
A Saviour hanging from a Cross.

It’s not His birth that gives us joy
But why He came — what it was for
That’s why we’re grateful, celebrate
The Baby on a bed of straw

So ‘midst the joy and family fun
Remember God with arms stretched wide
It was for us that He was born
It was for us He bled and died.
As Jesus entered Planet Earth
So give Him entrance to your feast
Let all the laughter and the mirth
Be ‘cos you’re from your sins released.

My Upcoming Book


When Jason Langley, MD arrives at a rural hospital to do his community service, a new witchdoctor (sangoma) has moved into the village and children in the hospital are dying unexpectedly . Is he using his black magic to kill these children? Or can there be a more rational explanation? As Jason applies his medical skills and an inquisitive mind, he enters a world of intrigue and danger as he pits himself against dark forces of evil.


Abundant Grace (It is well with my soul)

Golden light on dew-kissed roses

Heralding the grace of day

Cooing doves, at morn’s awakening

Dusty hooves of foals at play

Wheat fields, like a tawny ocean

Rippling with the wind’s caress

Dancing streams, their spray asparkle

Pensive pools in quiet rest

Air perfumed with scent of jasmine

Wind chime’s soft melodious ring

Dappled earth through filtered sunlight

Gamb’lling lambs at start of spring

Miracle of baby’s birthing

Brand new breath, a lusty cry

Old man resting, children’s chatter

Puff balls in a dreamy sky

Cells and segments of an orange

Neatly packed with tasty bliss

Warm embrace of two young lovers

Tenderness of mother’s kiss

These and countless other blessings

Are bestowed on us each day

Pointing us to God’s compassion

Showing us His love-filled way.

He surrounds us with His beauty

Fills our souls with untold wealth

Lifting them from deep depression

Into happiness and health.

Yet His greatest gift of goodness

Starts its journey steeped in death

Wounded Saviour hanging, dripping

Blood for us with His last breath

Cursed that He might buy our healing

‘Tombed to fight for all our souls

Breaking forth in glorious vict’ry

Empty grave, and men made whole

What a song our hearts are singing

Let the church bells toll and toll

Jesus is our Lord and Saviour

‘Tis indeed well with my soul