“Everything is Father-Filtered”

 

Hands of Jesus

Hands of Jesus

My wife Cathy has been my greatest encourager in my Christian walk and service. God gave us a unique ministry together when we were both saved at a Bill Gothard seminar in Dallas in 1977. At the time we were both religious in our attitudes and faithful in our church attendance but did not have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Our reasons for attending the Bill Gothard seminar were different from each other, and neither one of our reasons involved a conviction that we needed to be saved. We both thought that because of our proper attitudes and good service for the Lord, our God had already given us His favor at some point in the past. For me going to a 5 day meeting in Dallas gave me a break from a very busy and sometimes hectic medical practice and would allow me to rest and relax for those few days. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to listening to a Christian speaker for as many hours as he was  scheduled. Cathy said she was going to use what free time we had shopping in the myriad of stores that were available to her. In encouraging us to attend Bubba had told me that if, at the end of the conference we weren’t completely satisfied with what we had experienced, he would pay for all of our expenses.  I thought perhaps we might have a 5 day vacation in Dallas and Bubba would get to foot the bill! Needless to say both Cathy and I were very surprised at the work God did in our hearts that week and the transformation that occurred when we humbly submitted ourselves to Him.

Everything inside of us changed, and we were empowered with a hunger to not only know His Word and hide it in our hearts, but also to do His Word. There is a distinct difference between doing good works and doing His Word, and we were beginning to make that distinction. We were discovering spiritual growth and Christian service are life-long commitments of obedience to Him. In grasping the significance of the principle of the sovereignty of God we affirmed God allows everything and superintends all events whether good or bad. For things we consider bad He promises to work all things out for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28) It is important to firmly fix this truth in our minds when we are in the light, because when dark clouds appear and great trials or tragedies occur, it is hard to think anything good can come from it. Part of the reason for our struggle with this is because we live in the now and do not see the tomorrow, which God clearly sees and knows. In simple language the principle is this; everything is Father-filtered.

One of the times when Cathy would have to remind me of God’s sovereignty involved taking emergency calls at the hospital. When my surgical practice was at its’ busiest, I was on call every 4th night and that usually meant 2 or 3 trips to the emergency room. There might be a person with acute appendicitis, or an abscess needing to be drained or a deep laceration too complicated for the emergency room physician to properly handle. A trip to the ER might last only an hour or so, or it could take the entire night to resolve more complicated problems. This would not have been such a problem had it not been I would have a full schedule of operations and clinic patients the following day. Spending the night giving emergency care meant no sleep until the following evening, and a big part of the training of a surgeon is learning how to maintain maximum efficiency with very little sleep.

I can remember vividly on several occasions when around 11 PM as we were preparing for bed, the phone would ring and it was the ER nurse. She would inform me that she had an individual with a gunshot wound to the abdomen requiring emergency surgery, and I was needed as soon as possible. Several things I would immediately know as I was dressing to go to the hospital; I would be at the hospital for the remainder of the evening, and I would not receive compensation for my work because without exception, gunshot victims were uninsured. It actually cost me money for these types of operations, because I had to pay my nurse and surgical assistant for the time they had to spend at the hospital. The more I focused on those two factors, the more distraught I would become which resulted in grumbling and murmuring to Cathy and to myself. As Cathy would snuggle down underneath the warm covers on the bed, she would remind me that “everything is Father-filtered.” If I were in a particularly foul mood, I would respond with something like; “that’s easy for you to say as you settle in for a good night’s sleep!” What I didn’t know until later, was that on more than a few occasions, Cathy would remain awake and pray for the safety of the patient,for my strength, and that I might have the chance to lead someone to Christ.

I have said that the road from our home to the emergency room was paved with words of forgiveness I had to pray for my occasional sour attitude when facing an all-night operation. By the time I got there, my heart would be right and my mind would be rightly focused. I was able to witness God’s love on many occasions to my patients and saw some converted to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. None of this would have been possible apart from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit which was partly actuated by Cathy’s prayers and her reminder to me that it was all filtered by our Father! As I remember all of these events I can more clearly see God’s hand in all of them.

Dr. John

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The Quality Grocery Store

Similar to Quality Grocery

I received my first up-close experience with the grocery business when my Mom and her sister Aunt Tooky (Thelma) bought the Quality Grocery Store in El Dorado in 1948. Aunt Tooky was a very special aunt from St. Louis, Missouri, and at that time was the wealthiest person I had ever met. Her husband, Uncle Max Manne owned the Artistic Furniture Company and had made his fortune building moderately priced furniture. He once told me that he had invented the sofa hide-a-bed concept, but the Simmons Company had stolen the idea from him and had made millions with that product. Aunt Tooky was the one who personally introduced me to 2 of my heroes at that time; Stan Musial and Roy Rogers.

Neither Mom nor Aunt Tooky had any interest in groceries other than personally buying them, but their brothers, Ed and Paul West had just returned from serving in the U.S. Army in World War II and needed jobs, so this seemed like a good option for them. After the purchase was finalized and the store was operational, Aunt Tooky decided to live with us for several months to help Mom with the management of the store while Uncle Paul and Uncle Ed handled the meat market and the produce portion of the business. They had one other employee; a delivery man named Clarence who was probably in his early 20’s in age. As a young black man, he became the brunt of many pranks of my uncles who were masters at that sort of thing. They were always telling Clarence he needed to “find a good woman to marry,” and they were going to help him find just the right one. Clarence would usually tell “Mr. Paul” and “Mr. Ed” that he wasn’t ready to “take that step just right now.” Because the store was not making much profit, they were not able to purchase Clarence either a truck or a motor scooter to make deliveries, so he had a bicycle with a basket on front which was large enough to hold most orders. The majority of his deliveries were within a 2 mile radius, so bicycle deliveries were manageable. Needless to say, Clarence had very little time to spend at the store which prevented him from suffering too many jokes and pranks.

At that time Bobbie Fike was working as a maid in our home, and her service was invaluable to us since Mom spent most of her days in the grocery store. Sister Bobbie not only kept the house spotless, but her noon lunches were so delicious my sister Marilyn and I still reminisce about them whenever we are together. Mom had known Sister Bobbie for several years before she and Pops married because Sister Bobbie had done domestic work for her back in the early 1940’s. Both Uncle Ed and Uncle Paul had known her since those days, and she also became the object of a few of their practical jokes.

Mom’s personal grocery shopping became much easier while managing the store because she could call Sister Bobbie for the things needed at home, and then have Clarence deliver them to her on his bicycle. Our home was about a mile away and usually there was another order close-by which would make his deliveries more efficient. By the time Clarence had made 4 or 5 deliveries to our home, he commented to Uncle Paul that Sister Bobbie had not been very friendly to him. Uncle Paul teasingly said to him, “You had better be careful how you treat Bobbie Fike. She is one of the meanest women I have ever known.” Clarence responded, “She don’t look all that mean to me, and I ain’t gona’ try to make her mad anyhow.” Uncle Paul said, “If you don’t believe me, ask Mr. Ed just how mean she is. He has known her a long time and remembers one of her former husbands.” When Clarence got Uncle Ed alone, he asked him about Sister Bobbie and told him what Uncle Paul had said. He picked up on the joke and began laying the ground work for another prank. He told Clarence, “Bobbie Fike has a terrible temper and once when she got into a fight with one of her husbands, she stabbed him with a butcher knife. He was lucky to live, and he got a divorce from her the next week.” He expanded on the story, “Another time, a delivery man knocked on the back door and when she didn’t hear, he knocked so hard on the door, it made the door rattle. She came to the door with a pan of boiling water and threw it in his face through the screen door telling him he shouldn’t make so much racket. It caused all the skin to peel off his face and he was in the hospital for 2 weeks before he could even eat.” Clarence said, “You and Mr. Paul are telling a big story on that woman, and I don’t think she could be that mean.” But the seeds of doubt had been planted.

About a week later, Sister Bobbie called Mom and told her she needed a large number of groceries and in particular, some items she needed that morning to prepare lunch. Mom gathered the 2 sacks of groceries and asked Clarence to deliver them to the house. Uncle Paul overheard and decided to spring the trap on Clarence. Mom didn’t know anything about the tale that her two brothers had told him. Uncle Paul then called Sister Bobbie and said they wanted to pull a joke on Clarence. He told her this; “When Clarence knocks on the back door, wait an extra minute or two to make him knock louder and longer than usual. Get a small pan of cool water, and when you go to the door, throw it through the screen door and tell him he is making too much racket.” In about 30 minutes when Clarence arrived, he found Sister Bobbie was not in the kitchen as usual, so he began knocking louder, and at the same time calling out her name. When she finally arrived he noticed the small pan in her hand and he began backing up, remembering what Mr. Ed had told him. When Sister Bobbie shouted the he shouldn’t make so much noise and threw the cold water through the screen, he was so far back that very little of the water got to him. Both sacks of groceries were thrown in the air and he made a scramble to get to his bike and away to safety. Sister Bobbie called Mom and told her that Clarence had dropped both sacks on the back steps and had made a big mess! The only loss was the quart of milk which was in a glass bottle. When Clarence got back to the store, he told Mr. Paul and Mr. Ed that she really was the meanest woman he ever met. As the two jokers laughed about the incident, they told Clarence that they had put her up to it and she was not really a mean woman. In fact they told him that Sister Bobbie was such a good cook, she might make him a good wife. Clarence dismissed the idea completely by saying, “she is way too old for me.”

Over the next year or so that the Quality Grocery was in our family, Clarence continued delivering groceries in the neighborhood and also to our home. He knew that he had been the object of a prank that day and understood that Sister Bobbie did not intend to harm him; however when he arrived at our home, he would set the groceries on the back steps, knock on the door and by the time Sister Bobbie arrived to open the door, he was already on his bike headed up the driveway.

Dr. John

Meeting Roy Rogers

 

Roy Rogers and Trigger

Every young man whom I knew as a pre-teen had a western hero. Prior to television the prime source of entertainment in El Dorado on weekends was attending movies at either the Rialto or the Majestic theaters. Both these theaters in the 1950’s were segregated and the only integrated movie theater was the Ritz. We didn’t call them “theaters” in those days; instead they were known as “picture shows.” The Rialto was a more sophisticated picture show and generally didn’t feature the western (cowboy) movies that we loved. The cowboy movies were shown at either the Majestic or the Ritz, so those picture shows were our favorites. There were a number of potential wild-west heroes such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tom Mix, Johnny Mack Brown, Joel McCrea, The Durango Kid, Lash La Rue, The Lone Ranger, Sunset Carson, and the favorite of many, John Wayne. I loved all of them, but have to say that my favorite by far was Roy Rogers. That became especially true after I got to see him in person.

I was fortunate to have an aunt in St. Louis who took great interest in the things that were important to me. Aunt Tooky (Thelma) was an older sister of Mom, and she and Uncle Max, who had been married for many years were not fortunate enough to have  children. Their marriage relationship was always a little strange to me, because Aunt Tooky lived alone in a very exclusive and beautiful apartment and only saw Uncle Max on occasion. Mom told me they had been separated for many years but were not divorced. At the time Aunt Tooky was the wealthiest person I had ever met, and all I knew was she had “millions.”

My parents received a phone call from Aunt Tooky in the summer of 1949, and she informed them she knew I loved Roy Rogers and had just read that he was bringing his rodeo to the large downtown arena in St. Louis. She suggested they take a few days off and bring me to the rodeo so I could see him in person. Pop said he needed a few days off and would enjoy going to St. Louis, but bargained with Mom whereby she and Aunt Tooky would be responsible for taking me to see Roy Rogers. The decision was made to take the train to St. Louis which left El Dorado about 8 PM and arrived in St. Louis at 8 AM. The excitement of spending the night on the train was huge and only added to the enormous thrill of getting to see Roy Rogers. I had my finest cowboy outfit in my suitcase for the event.

The trip was uneventful except for the fact that I could hardly sleep thinking what was laying ahead. The noise and the swaying of the train were a little disturbing at first, but since I noticed neither Pop nor Mom were concerned, I decided the anxiety of the travel was a small price to pay for what I was going to be able to tell all my buddies back home!

Aunt Tooky met us at the train station, and she could immediately tell how excited I was. si I had donned my cowboy suit and wanted Roy to know I was just “one of the boys” just in case I accidentally ran into him. The rodeo was scheduled for the afternoon of our arrival so the wait was not quite so long, although it seemed lunch would never end. Mom, Aunt Tooky and I headed for the downtown arena about an hour and a half before the scheduled time of the rodeo so we could park and find our seats. Aunt Tooky had reserved our seats, and I have no idea how much they cost but were some of the finest seats available. At the appointed hour the arena lights dimmed and the giant spotlight focused on one end of the arena while the announcer shouted; “Now heeer’s Roy Rogers!” As the crowd roared I could hardly catch my breath when I saw Roy riding Trigger into the center  of the arena while waving his hat to the adoring crowd. Aunt Tooky said I never took my eyes off him for the entire first part of the show, and she had not seen me so focused ever before. Intermission came far too soon for me, but Aunt Tooky asked, “Would you like to go with me and see if we can meet Roy?” “Yes Ma’m!!” I quickly said. The question was like asking a starving man if he would like to find something to eat!

Mom decided to remain in our seats, so Aunt Tooky and I made our way down a number of long corridors which seemed to lead toward the basement area. The number of people we encountered became smaller and smaller until it seemed we were the only ones present. Suddenly a guard appeared and said we were not allowed in this part of the arena. Aunt Tooky told him her nephew had come all the way from Arkansas to see Roy Rogers, and wondered if he could arrange that meeting. As she spoke, I saw her reach into her purse to get a $100 bill and slip it into the guard’s hand. In our present economy, that would amount to approximately $600. As he placed that bill into his pocket he said, “Stay right here, and I’ll see what I can do.” In less than 2 minutes, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was Roy Rogers riding Trigger down the corridor and approaching us! He said, “Son, I hear you have come all the way from Arkansas to see Trigger and me.” From that point on I don’t remember a thing I said. I think I just listened. With my mouth wide open from sheer disbelief he asked, “Would you like to climb up on Trigger?” as he extended his hand and pulled me into the saddle behind him. I wanted to just touch those beautiful pistols in his holster but dared not. He said a few more things to both Aunt Tooky and me, and then said he needed to get back so the 2nd half of the show could begin, while letting me down off Trigger. As we walked back to our seats for the remainder of the show I was trying to think just how I was going to tell all my buddies back home I now had a new pal in Roy Rogers. They would just have to dream about what I had gotten to experience first hand in St. Louis because of the generosity of Aunt Tooky.

Roy Rogers died in 1998 at the age of 87 having lived a life of providing clean, wholesome entertainment for millions of young people over many decades. I always regretted as an adult I never wrote Roy a thank you letter for the act of kindness and love he showed an adoring 9-year-old fan. He certainly had nothing to gain from our encounter except the sheer joy of seeing in my face how much I loved him. I’m certain the guard never told him about the $100 bill from Aunt Tooky.

Dr. John

The Consultation With Dr. Larkin Wilson

Dr. Larkin Wilson was one of the best internists I had the privilege of knowing. Along with a number of other excellent primary care and specialty physicians, we served the medical needs of the people of El Dorado, Arkansas and surrounding area for the 29 years I practiced general surgery there. The other physicians in my family that served the people there beginning in 1898 until my brother retired in 2001, included my grandfather, Dr. John Aaron Moore; my Pop, Dr. Berry L. Moore, Sr; and my Bubba, Dr. Berry L. Moore, Jr.

I met Dr. Wilson initially when I was a second year surgical resident at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. I had the misfortune of developing serum hepatitis, probably from a needle or scalpel puncture wound. As a very busy surgical resident, it was not unusual for me to be either the surgeon or assistant in as many as 5-10 surgical procedures per day. Even a physician is hard pressed to diagnose himself with hepatitis because of the initial slow progression of the illness. I began feeling tired to the point of exhaustion and attributed those symptoms to my difficult work schedule. I developed a low-grade temperature after a few days and assumed I had the flu. When I finally agreed to “have a check-up” at Cathy’s insistence, the doctor in Lake Charles, Louisiana asked me how long I had been jaundiced. Cathy and I were on a 3 month rotation to the Charity Hospital in Lake Charles. When I carefully looked into my eyes in the mirror, I finally noticed that I was deeply jaundiced; so the doctor admitted me to the hospital. The disease became progressively worse, and there was some doubt that I would survive because my liver function tests were getting steadily worse. Cathy and I had only been married 11 months, and she was very frightened by the doctor’s reports. When my Mom heard the news, she insisted that I be transferred by ambulance to El Dorado so Bubba could care for me. At that point, I was too sick to object to such a plan. Cathy agreed with Mom to get me back to familiar surroundings, so the transfer back home was made. Bubba called in Dr. Larkin Wilson as a consultant, and he and Larkin both agreed that it was best that Larkin assume my care in case I went into complete liver failure.

Larkin was very business-like in his care of me, and there was not much frivolous conversation. After a few days I began improving to the point that I was beginning to worry about the cost of my hospital stay, since Cathy and I were living on poverty-level wages, and we had no medical insurance. One morning I mentioned that fact to Dr. Wilson while he was checking my lab results for the morning. Without looking up he said, ” I’m interested in your health and not your wealth.” I said, “Yes sir, and I appreciate that very much. However, as my wealth sinks deeper into poverty, my health will quickly follow that downward spiral.” My logic did not move him. Years later after I had been in private practice in El Dorado, I recognized that Larkin was indeed not only an excellent internist, but had a dry sense of humor that was beloved by his family, friends and patients.

After Cathy and I moved to El Dorado and I was well-established in my surgical practice, I thoroughly appreciated the daily interactions I had with my medical colleagues . I was especially close friends with several internists, and they were the source of regular patient referrals. By this time I had gotten to know Dr. Wilson much better, and we had regular and occasionally daily conversations, usually about mutual patient concerns.

I was making my rounds at the hospital one morning and while sitting at the nurses station writing my notes on a patient chart, Larkin came out of another patient’s room and agitatedly asked me, “Where is that brother of yours?” I knew he wasn’t in the mood for levity so I answered, “I don’t know. Is there a problem?” Bubba had one of his long-time patients in the hospital with a heart issue that needed some additional care, so he had consulted Larkin who had a special interest in heart problems. Larkin did not know the lady and was polite in his introduction and familiarization with her particular problem. He did a thorough evaluation which took about 30 minutes, and when completed he told her that he would present his findings to her doctor, and then Dr. Berry would help her make the final decision on the best treatment. As he was about to leave the room, she gently held his sleeve and said, “You are not through yet.” He said, “Yes mam, I have finished my exam and will now report to your doctor.” She said again, “But you haven’t finished. When Dr. Berry comes to see me, he always prays with me before he leaves.” Larkin smiled at her and said, “I’ll just let Dr. Berry take care of that for you today,” thinking that would satisfy her. She then announced to the stunned Dr. Wilson, “Well, I’ll tell you this; if you don’t pray with me, I’m not going to pay you!” Larkin told me that he was so shocked at her announcement, that he mumbled some brief prayer that he couldn’t even remember what he had prayed. The patient must have been satisfied with his effort and graciously thanked him.

Larkin said he was certain that Bubba had “put that patient up to having him pray for her.” I told him that Bubba had done that to me all the time, until I gave up and began praying with every patient. (He actually never put patients up to forcing either Larkin or me to pray with them, but I thought it sounded good for that moment.) Having been a patient myself on several occasions, I know how uplifting and encouraging it is to have one’s doctor pray for your treatment and recovery.

I don’t know whether Larkin used that incident to encourage him to begin ministering to his patients through prayer in their presence, but I do know that he continued serving the people of El Dorado and Union County as an outstanding internist of excellence and integrity. I also know that he would acknowledge that it was God who had gifted him to serve and allowed him to continue his service for many more years. It certainly was my privilege to have known him and served with him.

Dr. John