Category: Health

Good health care requires widespread use of medical insurance

Forget politics for a minute, as a Jesus Follower I think everyone has a right to good medical care.

In a capitalist society, that means people, not the government, pay for it. So, along comes insurance to help the non-wealthy pay for medical care. That works OK when employers are paying for most medical insurance. As that falls away people cannot afford insurance, so many don’t have it and the result is that have their medical care is subsidized by everyone else who has insurance or pays full costs.

For good health care in a capitalist society people must either pay full cost or be insured at a level that reflects actual medical costs. These costs are high and, as a result, insurance is high, but the vast majority of people must have insurance in order for all of us to receive reasonable medical care.

The problem is many people can’t or don’t want to buy insurance. Medical insurance is essential to our nation and its people because if millions go uncovered the quality of medical care will continue to decline in the U.S.

In short, in a capitalist society, good medical care for all is dependent on the vast majority of people having insurance.

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Daniel had a better way

(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists web site.)

Three members of my family just completed an altered version of the Daniel Fast. It’s a 21-day “partial fast” based on the experience of the prophet Daniel. I learned some things.

First, I’m no Daniel. My version was substantially less strenuous than recommended.

Second, my version was a challenge. I consumed no fried food, soft drinks, beef, pork, eggs, snack food, leavened bread or regular milk. I tried to avoid cheese, but that stuff is on virtually everything. I had only two cups of coffee.

Third, I realized I was addicted to caffeine and sugar. I didn’t think I was a big drinker of soda and coffee, but headaches and drowsiness hit me early in the process. One day, I texted my wife and daughter and said I had to have a cup of coffee to get my work done. When you stay away from caffeine, one cup really makes an impact.

Fourth, there really are alternative ways of eating available today. When I travel for Texas Baptists, there are certain unhealthy food choices, which tend to propel me along our state’s highways. During these three weeks, I discovered vegetable plates and great grilled chicken salads.

Fifth, the further along I went, the less I needed a bunch of food. Water and 100 percent fruit drinks could satisfy and sustain. And bananas became an essential part of my life.

Sixth, and most importantly, the Daniel Fast helped me begin to reorient my way of living. In our world, it is so easy to satisfy any physical craving, but it’s not healthy to do so either physically or spiritually. This effort provided a means for asking God to help me live above animal needs. We are, after all, the pinnacle of God’s creation, but we so often behave just like hungry dogs with no sense of higher calling.

The biblical book of Daniel begins with an important story about this man who would eventually sit with lions and remain unharmed.

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself. … Then Daniel asked the guard whom the palace master had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. … So he agreed to this proposal and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was observed that they appeared better and fatter than all the young men who had been eating the royal rations. So the guard continued to withdraw their royal rations and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. To these four young men God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and wisdom; Daniel also had insight into all visions and dreams. Daniel 1: 8, 11-12, 14-17, NRSV

Parents today try so hard to make their kids exceptional by carting them to organized sports activities, getting them to the best schools and keeping them in church. How did we forget this important story from the life of one of our Hebrew heroes?

In America, most of us today eat “royal rations of food and wine.” What if we adults changed our habits and started setting an example? What if younger folks said, “To heck with how Mom and Dad eat and drink; I’m going to be like Daniel.”

The story of Daniel and his buds shows the spiritual, physical and mental parts of our lives are all connected. There are so many people who just focus on one part of healthy living. They get obsessed only with the spiritual or the physical or the mental. Daniel had and has a better way.

Daniel remained consistently a man of God. His prayer habits landed him in the famous lions den, but God delivered Daniel. That miracle resulted in the foreign King Darius making a royal decree that “in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.” Why?

For he is the living God,
enduring forever.
His kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion has no end.
He delivers and rescues,
he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth;
for he has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.
Daniel 6: 26-27, NRSV

May we live more like Daniel, and may more people be led to worship the one and only God as revealed in Christ.

Smoke on a beautiful day

Another lnch time walk today. It’s beautiful outside. My course took me around a neighboring hospital.

Five lost-looking folks emerge from a vehicle.

Me: “What are you looking for?”

Oldest one: “The cancer center.” Puff of smoke in my face.

Me: “Right this way.”

Her: more smoke.

Me: “What brings you to the cancer center?”

Her: “I have cancer.” More smoke.

Me: “It’s right there,” pointing.

Her: more smoke. And the other four with her doing the same.

I continue on my course. The air is no longer so fresh smelling. The sidewalks and benchs seem full of people smoking. It reminds me of how glad I am that smoking generally is not permitted indoors any longer.

Some of the smokers are obviously hospital workers. They know what smoking does. Yet, they smoke.

A patient wearing a hospital robe with pajama bottoms showing and slippers on her feet sits on a short wall and smokes.

Smoke seem to be everywhere. Sometimes a beautiful walk can bring sadness.