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Archive for the category “Is there a Doctor in the house?”

Filling Our Tree With Love

The old oak tree looked fine.  It was over 100 years old and stood tall and seemingly sturdy.  People marveled at it’s beauty and yet one stormy night it came crashing down.  A friend and his wife heard it at around 4 in the morning.  They thought it was an earthquake the noise was so loud.  Fifteen feet from the ground the tree shattered.  Fortunately nobody was hurt as the once beautiful 70 foot tree became a 15 foot stump in the ground.  The rest was lying there for all to see.  The next morning it was alarming what was discovered.  The insides of the tree that came down had been eaten away by a disease.  It was hollow and could not stand the rigors of the wind that night. 
My dad in addition to working a full time factory job and many hours of overtime found the time to build three houses.  The only houses we lived in were ones that he built.  Since he had never built a house before he took advice from an acquaintance who had built many of the houses in the neighborhood.  The first and most important thing he learned was to build a deep foundation.  It started with digging a basement that was deep and then using cement blocks to make the foundation strong.  In all of his houses dad followed the same recipe.  Above anything else that foundation was the thing that made the house sturdy and strong.  With help from my mom they worked tireless with much faith in the process.  After the strong foundation was set they went to the next process.  He shared with me that it was one step at a time, one project at a time.  They needed to be jacks of all trades in the process.  What they didn’t know they got advice and learned what to do.  It was a work in faith but it began with building that strong foundation.  Although that first little house was not a sight of beauty to most it was strong and sturdy.  That first house was the foundation of their faith to build another.  This time the house would be bigger and better.  Yet the other two houses were built on the faith they had acquired building the first one.  Faith that told them that if they worked hard and believed it could be achieved.
 
At one time that oak tree had a good foundation.  It was solid and healthy and looked like it would live forever.  Then over time a tiny bit here and there things began to change.  A disease got into that tree.  Slowly it started chipping away.  Even though the tree looked strong and healthy it was neither.  Though it looked strong and sturdy it was really weak and brittle.
In our Christian walk we need to ask ourselves “How deep is our faith?”  Is our foundation solid and strong?  Like the oak tree many times our foundation is strong.  The problem is we let little things chip away much like the disease in the tree.  Instead of forgiving others of their trespasses like Jesus told us to do we try to hold them accountable.  We  become bitter when things are going right for them in spite of the wrong they caused us.  Because we haven’t forgiven them of whatever they did our foundation slowly starts to rot.  The good material that we started with gets poisoned in the mix.  Instead of trusting God to take care of situations and leaving all of our burdens with him we become the sin police.  We become revengeful and hateful.  Before long we find that our faith in God and people are suddenly in doubt.
Is there someone who has hurt you?  Is there someone that seems to glorify in the wrong they did to you?  We all have people in our lives that are like that.  However Jesus tells us to love our enemies.  When we follow that commandment there is peace in our hearts and not bitterness.  The disease is cured and we are able to move on in love and peace.  The tree lives on and doesn’t die inside.  In fact it grows stronger in time.  Something like this is not easy.  It is not natural to love our enemies.  It is not natural to wish them well.  However, it is not natural to die inside either.  The quickest way to lose our life spiritually is to harbor hurt and bitterness.  Send them on their way in the name of Jesus!  Give God all of your burdens and forget about them.  Love your neighbor even if your neighbor has done you wrong.  In that way you are being like Christ because he died for us even though we didn’t deserve it.
Sometimes I drive through the old neighborhood.  Since the three houses are on the same block I pass them all and marvel.  Many memories come back of the things that we did and the fun we had.  None of that would have been possible except for the sound houses we lived in.  Most of all I marvel at the old houses still standing tall after all of these years.  On the other side of the coin is the old oak tree that is no more.
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Teammates For Life

“Maurice was all alone, something had to be done and someone had to do it, I was the only one around so I became that someone.”  Those are the simple words of Jack Twyman as he described what he did for Maurice Stokes for twelve years.  It wasn’t like they were best friends before the tragic day.   It wasn’t like they had alot in common.  Maurice was a 6’7  240 pound black man who was a power of muscle on the basketball court.  Nobody had ever seen his combination of quickness, bulk, and jumping ability! Jack was 6’6 but he was a skinny white guy and his skill was shooting the basketball.  They both came into the NBA in 1955.  For the first three years in the league everyone knew that Maurice was playing out a Hall of Fame career.  He was such a force that he was voted the rookie of the year and later he led the league in rebounding!  He was 24 years old and improving every year when the tragedy occurred.

It appeared that Maurice had many years of greatness ahead of him!

It appeared that Maurice had many years of greatness ahead of him!

It was the last game of the 1957-58 season and Maurice and Jack’s Cincinnati Royals were playing the Minneapolis Lakers.  Maurice was going up for a rebound when his feet got pulled from under him by a Lakers players shoulders.  Maurice came down head first on the court and was knocked out.  If this incident happened today Maurice would have been sent to the hospital and checked out.  Back then though they gave him smelling salts and called him good to go.  He actually came back into the game.  Two days later after the Royals played the Detroit Pistons in a first round playoff game the team boarded a plane to go back to Cincinnati.  Maurice, who was still groggy and sore,  had a very underwhelming game for him with 12 points and 15 rebounds.  On the plane Maurice became violently sick.  He began to perspire heavily and the pilot called ahead to have an ambulance ready when they arrived.  When the plane finally landed Maurice was unconcious with a 106 temperature.  Maurice was rushed to St. Elizabeth hospital where he slipped into a coma.  The next day the Royals were eliminated by the Pistons ending their season.  While the other players hurriedly scattered back to their hometowns Jack remained.  Cincinnati was his hometown.  For that Maurice would be forever thankful! 

Things were so different in the NBA back then.  The average player made ten thousand dollars if that.  Maurice being way better than average was making twenty thousand.  With Maurice unable to play anymore that salary would be lost.  Maurice’s parents Tero and Myrtle didn’t have the means to pay for their sons expensive hospital bills and the hospital was losing their patience.  Someone had to act right away to stem the tide.  In Jack’s own words, he became that someone.  “I became his Guardian”, Jack stated.  He had a bank account that nobody could touch.  He also had a brand new car that needed to be sold. 

The final diagnosis for Maurice was Post-Traumatic Encepholopathy.  He was paralyzed from the neck down, unable to speak, and stricken to a wheel chair for the rest of his life.  He was later transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital where his vigorous rehab therapy would take place.  He was able to re-gain use of his hands and was able to learn to speak again years later, though it was hard for people that were not constantly around him to understand.  The therapy at the hospital was very expensive.  Jack looked down every possible avenue to raise money.

Not only were salaries low in 1958 for NBA players but they didn’t have insurance.  There was no workmans compensation benefits.  Jack hired a lawyer who brought a lawsuit against the NBA and won.  In doing so Jack invariably had to risk his own status in the league.  Jack was still a player getting paid by the league to play basketball.  He didn’t think of himself and his status.  He had a single minded goal of raising needed money for Maurice. 

Maurice and Jack

Maurice and Jack

Still so much more was needed.  Jack worked with the NBA Public Relations man Haskell Cohen and Catskills Hotel owner Milton Kutsher to create a benefit game for Maurice.  Catskills was a Jewish resort that later became home to very competitive basketball games with stars from colleges competing.  Kutsher had the venue and when he heard about Maurice’s plight he wanted to help!  The league came together as one to help also.  Many of the leagues stars participated in the annual Maurice Stokes game and thousands of dollars were raised every year.  Maurice got to a point where he was able to attend some of the games.  Maurice took the time to make ash trays for all of the participants!  It was a big highlight of Maurice’s year to attend and share his infectious smile and gifts with his long past rivals.

The Maurice Stokes benefit game raised over $750,000 over the years but still it wasn’t enough.  Jack approached every media outlet in the towns the Royals played in to tell  Maurice’s story.  Through his efforts donations poured in.  Every Christmas he appeared on Howard Cosell’s radio show to share Maurice’s story again.  His story was featured in Sports Illustrated and another $200,000 was generated!  Through all of Jack’s efforts Maurice’s expenses were getting paid.  Maurice for his part continued the rigorous regiment of rehabilitation that was before him.  The results seemed small but Maurice was never discouraged.  The hospital actually brought victims of serious crashes and other traumatic experience to Maurice because he could cheer them up with his loving inspired attitude!  Sometimes when Jack was feeling down he visited Maurice because Maurice always had a way of putting a smile on Jack’s face!

Maurice suffered a massive heart attack in 1970 and died at the young age of 36.  Undoubtedly he was strained by his situation and his attempts to keep  upbeat in the midst of his troubles.  After twelve years the burden on Jack was now removed.  He had retired as a player and was working as a game commentator for ABC.  In 1983 Jack was inducted into the Naismith NBA Hall of Fame!  Later Jack would become a food company executive and made more than three million dollars when he sold the company in 1996!

In 1973 a movie was made about Maurice.  It didn’t receive great reviews as the critics labeled it as a tragedy displayed with “soap opera effects.”  A special viewing was reserved for Tero and Myrtle (Maurice’s parents).  After the viewing Tero broke the silence.  “It was sad but it was also beautiful”, he said.

The Bible speaks about the Good Samaritan.  In this case Jack went even beyond the Good Samaritan’s deed.  Jack was the Good Samaritan to Maurice for twelve years!  Although Jack was extremely successful financially after his NBA career and received the highest NBA honor in the Hall of Fame, his legacy with Maurice will always be his shining glory.  Jack was always humble about the experience saying “anybody would have done it.”  I’m sure it was Jack that was placed there because his other teammates wouldn’t have. 

There were a couple of other issues not mentioned.  Jack was white and Maurice was black.  Back in 1958 racial opinions were far different.  Jack never let the opinions of others get in his way of helping Maurice!  The other factor was Jack’s family.  He had a growing family at the time of the accident.  There was a time when Jack questioned whether he was neglecting his own family.  His family proved to be very understanding though and Maurice became a part of them too!

One of the happiest days for Jack was when Maurice got named to the Hall of Fame in 2004 and Jack accepted the award on his behalf!  After playing only three years in the league such an honor was unheard of.  Yet because of the very special circumstances Maurice will forever have a plaque in the Hall of Fame for all who visit to see!

Jack Twyman died last year at the age of 78.  In his and Maurice’s honor this year the NBA has named a new award.  It is called the Twyman-Stokes Teammate Of The Year Award.  The first winner of the award was Chauncey Billups.  The award has a sculpture of Twyman helping up Stokes his fallen teammate.  After finding out that he won the award Chauncey did some research of Twyman and Stokes.  Chauncey was amazed at the story and the dedication involved.  He considered himself a good teammate but he was very humbled to be mentioned in the same breath as what Jack Twyman contributed. 

Twyman-Stokes Teammate Of The Year Award

Twyman-Stokes Teammate Of The Year Award

When Maurice had undergone so many hours and years of rehabilitation he was finally able to use his hands.  It was decided that maybe a typewriter would be a good gift for him!  Studiously and slowly he typed out a message.  It was the first thing that he typed on that typewriter and it was the most memorable!  He typed out a letter to his friend Jack.  The text was this:  “Dear Jack, How can I ever thank you?” It reminds me of a question we should all ask Jesus for dying for our sins.  The answer of course is you can’t, but accept this gift because I love you!

My Spiritual Exam

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Just like I need a physical
to find out how I am
It’s time for me to ask my Lord
for a spiritual exam

He’ll ask me many questions
Can I be honest with myself?
Thinking that I’ve got it made
could be harmful to my health

Is my gear shifted into drive
or is it stuck in park?
Does my light shine on others
or do I leave them in the dark?

Is my salt being poured out
or is it all for waste?
Does it flavor when it’s poured
or has it lost its taste?

When he gives me the vision
to see how I can be
will I make excuses
or let the Lord use me?

Will my spirit be broken
so my life he then can mold?
Or have I pushed the button
to put the Lord on hold?

When I leave the great physician’s room
will I be better than I came?
Or have I made my mind up
to keep my life the same?

“…I desire to do your will, O my God,
your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:8

Doctor? Please!

Nobody I know likes to go to the doctor!  Sometimes it is something we have to do because of illness.  Other times it is just a yearly visit.   The fact is I don’t see many people excited about these visits.  There is always the fear of bad news as the reality sets in that we are not getting any younger!

How many times do you go to the doctor and get right in?  Usually it seems that everything is backed up.  You have an appointment at 2 and you don’t get in until after 2:30.  Sitting in a waiting room when you are feeling ill isn’t good!  The knowledge that sick people have waited in the room before you may make you feel sicker than when you came in!  Finally you get in and in 5 or 10 minutes you are through!  You wonder how you can be charged so much for so little!

 

Then there is the advice we don’t want to hear!  Joe said to Tom “What did the doctor tell you at your last appointment?”  “He told me I was too heavy”, Tom replied.  “He said I need to start eating right, quit smoking, get off the couch and get moving, and quit drinking too!”  “What are you going to do first?”, Joe inquired.  Tom blurted out “I’m going to get another doctor!”

Doctor

As important as it is to get a physical exam, a spiritual exam is even more important!  The nice thing is we don’t have to wait and this exam is free!  When we are ready the doctor is ready too!  He is even waiting for us!  Sadly, the case above also may hold true in this exam. We may not want to hear the changes that must be made!  As in the case of the medical doctor though, the advice is for our own good!  As always God leaves the choice completely up to us.  We must be willing to change, and seek the help of the one who can change us!  When we put our trust in the great physician and follow his guide he will make the changes that will put us in right standing with him again!  It’s a healthy choice for our spirit!

Coming up next:   My Spiritual Exam

My Spiritual Exam

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Just like I need a physical
to find out how I am
It’s time for me to ask my Lord
for a spiritual exam

He’ll ask me many questions
Can I be honest with myself?
Thinking that I’ve got it made
could be harmful to my health

Is my gear shifted into drive
or is it stuck in park?
Does my light shine on others
or do I leave them in the dark?

Is my salt being poured out
or is it all for waste?
Does it flavor when it’s poured
or has it lost its taste?

When he gives me the vision
to see how I can be
will I make excuses
or let the Lord use me?

Will my spirit be broken
so my life he then can mold?
Or have I pushed the button
to put the Lord on hold?

When I leave the great physician’s room
will I be better than I came?
Or have I made my mind up
to keep my life the same?

“…I desire to do your will, O my God,
your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:8

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