Where Is Your Treasure?

Treasure Chest

Physicians in general seem to be special targets for investment specialists who rightly or wrongly believe doctors have lots of disposable income. The average doctor spends the first 3 decades of his life in training for his professional work while often living on near poverty wages. Most of them don’t even consider learning investment strategies. During the early years of post-medical training and then practice most doctors are using their above expenses income to reduce and pay off the indebtedness of those training years.

I discovered soon after beginning my practice in general surgery in El Dorado, Arkansas I was receiving 1 or more phone calls per day from people wanting to sell me something. It ranged anywhere from life insurance to disability insurance and from “great” stock options to an “investment that will make you a lot of money.” I even had one person wanting to sell me part interest in a cemetery. After listening to a few of these well-intentioned salesmen, I began to think I really could become rich! I was forced to have my receptionist screen and block all those types of calls. Fortunately for me at the time my income was just barely enough to pay our bills with enough left over to plan a modest vacation once or twice a year with Cathy and our children.

Early in our marriage Cathy and I agreed to set aside a portion of our income as gifts for charitable organizations and purposed to increase that amount each year as our income increased. We vaguely knew something about the principle of Biblical tithing but didn’t know exactly where that imperative was located in the Bible, except it was somewhere in the Old Testament. As we listened to messages in church concerning giving and studied the Biblical text given, our understanding began to increase somewhat. The significant change occurred in us when we invited Christ into our lives and became Christians in 1977, which was 12 years after we were married.

Cathy and I became convinced and convicted the Bible teaches us all things we possess (including money) are gifts from God, and we are to be good stewards of those gifts in addition to becoming generous (hilarious) givers. There is disagreement among Biblical scholars exactly what is meant by a tithe which is commanded in the Old Testament. We once asked a strong Christian couple who were good friends what they understood about the Biblical mandate for tithing. Their answer was something like this; “We purpose to pay our bills monthly and whatever is left we give away. We are trying very hard to reduce our monthly bills so we can give more.” Cathy and I didn’t ask them any further questions concerning giving!

From the day of our spiritual conversion we have purposed to become generous and cheerful givers. (II Cor. 9: 6,7). Cathy has had an easier time with this, because she is by nature a giver while I am more of a hoarder (stingy)! We are in complete agreement; however, it all belongs to God, and we must be faithful stewards. For a period of time following our conversion I was convinced the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 6:19-21 were directed toward avoiding making retirement investments. Jesus said, “Lay not up treasures for yourselves upon earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” During that period of about 7-8 years we did just that. At Cathy’s urging and the counsel of several wise men we trusted, we did change direction regarding retirement funding and began a retirement savings account. It proved to be a very wise decision for us.

Late one afternoon while sitting at my desk completing the day’s necessary paperwork my phone rang, and I was speaking to a salesman from Little Rock. He somehow had gotten through our front desk screening, and he introduced himself and the company he represented. I patiently and politely listened as he told me about a wonderful bond opportunity his company was offering, and he anticipated it had an unlimited earning potential. When he asked, “What do you think?”, I said we didn’t make investments in stocks or bonds. He continued by asking, “Do you mind my asking what you are doing with your disposable income?” I said I didn’t mind at all his asking and said, “We send it all to heaven.” There was a stunned silence as he tried to process what I had just said, and he responded, “How do you do that?” “Fairly simple. We give it to people who are going to heaven!”

He hardly knew how to respond when he said with somewhat of a chuckle, “That is very noble. My mother also gives to the church.” By his reply I was fairly certain he did not understand anything I had said, but still I wanted him to grasp the most important reason for our belief. “We don’t give to try to be noble, but rather to be obedient to our God who made us and owns everything we have. We want to please him by being faithful stewards of His money.”

He said, “It was nice to speak with you Dr. Moore. I hope you have a great day.” My prayer for him as we hung up was he would fully process what I said and consider exactly where he kept his treasures. That is where he will find his heart.

Dr. John

 

 

 

 

 

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“Do You Have A Brother Named Berry Lee Moore?”

Heart Cath. Lab

Heart Cath. Lab

This question has been asked of me on many occasions and under lots of different circumstances throughout my life. This past week I was asked about Berry Lee (Bubba) in an unusual setting, and the conversation that followed brought me a lot of peace and comfort.

For the past 6 weeks I have been adjusting to one of the health problems of advanced aging for the male members of the Moore family; heart abnormalities. My paternal grandfather, (Granddaddy Moore), my Dad (Pop) and my brother (Bubba) all had coronary artery disease of varying severity, and it ultimately caused the death of all three. Pop had other health issues which combined with his heart disease led to his seemingly premature death at age 63 years. Because both Bubba and I were keenly aware of our genetic weaknesses we became regular aerobic exercisers from our mid-thirties until late in our 70’s. Neither of us were smokers nor did we drink beverage alcohol in any form, in part because those two bad habits are huge risk factors for heart disease.

Recently I have experienced a marked decrease in exercise tolerance which has concerned both Cathy and me. I plead guilty for acting like many physicians in that I have not seen a doctor for my health in at least 7 years, so had no idea what was happening, although I suspected advancing coronary atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). At Cathy’s insistence and the pleading of our children I agreed to consult a cardiologist, Dr. David Churchill in Fayetteville. I had known him and about his excellent reputation when we lived there over 10 years ago.

At our first consultation I discovered I had developed atrial fibrillation (abnormal and uncontrolled heart rate) which was part of the overall problem and totally unsuspected by me. So much for my cardiac self-diagnosis! Dr. Churchill set into motion a series of invasive examinations over the next several weeks, and I was plunged deeply into the modern medical world where I was now the patient and not the provider. I decided early on I would be completely compliant to my doctor’s orders and not become a grumpy and demanding old doctor with heels dug in! Having the loving encouragement and complete devotion of Cathy at my side combined with the concerns and sweet prayers of our children, grandchildren, other family members and friends have made the journey so far a lot less uncomfortable.

This week I was scheduled for a TEE/DCC (Transesophageal echocardiogram/Direct current conversion) which in simple terms is shocking the heart back into normal rhythm. This was done at the Walker Heart Center, a highly sophisticated heart center in Fayetteville. Cathy and I had been there the previous week when I underwent a left heart catheter (diagnostic) procedure which went well, and this next procedure was to be therapeutic (treatment) and not diagnostic in nature.

The Walker Heart Center is quite large with as many as 20-30 patients having invasive and non-invasive procedures done daily. We arrived 2 hours early for the usual preparation procedures such as health history, acquiring vital signs, placing the intravenous line and drawing blood for the appropriate tests needed. At approximately the correct hour a nurse entered the room telling Cathy she should remain in the holding room because the planned procedure would only take 20-30 minutes, and I would be back in the room within the hour. At this she wheeled my gurney down the hall and up one floor on the elevator.

My gurney was placed in the hallway of the multiple procedure rooms awaiting my designated room, when the nurse announced “we have come up a little early, and there will be another 15 to 20 minute wait here in the hallway.” As I lay in that hallway feeling exposed and vulnerable numerous professional people passed back and forth without ever acknowledging my presence. It was near the lunch hour, and I assumed some were headed to the cafeteria. At one point, my cardiologist passed by, and I don’t think he recognized me because he simply say, “Hi”, and that was the full extent of his greeting. I had the overwhelming sense I was simply a specimen and not a person; more specifically a diseased heart needing a shock. I don’t believe it was a case of self-pity because I don’t think I was treated any worse (or better) than any of the other patients in the heart center. At this point I quoted to myself the wonderful verse from I Corinthians 6: 19,20 reminding me my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and I am not my own! I am to glorify God in my body which is His! My spirit began to immediately lift despite what was taking place around me.

I was then moved into Procedure Room #10 filled with gigantic and highly technical equipment of which I had no professional knowledge. The technicians in the room, although efficient and knowledgable were not particularly personable. An older technician, perhaps in his mid-40’s in age passed by the gurney holding my health record and disappeared into the control room without speaking.

In a minute or two the older tech. came walking over to me and said, “Do you have a brother named Berry Lee Moore?” My initial thought was he was too young to be a contemporary of Bubba, but he might have once been one of Bubba’s patients back in El Dorado. I said, “Yes sir, Berry Lee was my brother and we practiced medicine together for many years.” This man then said something totally unsuspected; “My grandmother was Dr. Berry Lee’s office nurse as long as he lived and I am Marty, her daughter’s son. You Moore’s are just like family to my family!” I was pleasantly stunned by his introduction. Mary Alice Cross was Bubba’s nurse for the entire 55 years he practiced general medicine, and now her grandson Marty was bringing me great comfort in the flood of memories of those years past. I shook his hand and thanked him on behalf of his family heritage, while on the inside I thanked God He just “happened to have Marty in the room” where I was feeling a bit lonely. I could hardly wait to get through this examination and cardiac conversion and back to the room to tell Cathy who God had waiting for me in Procedure Room #10! The accounts of my experiences as a new heart patient are ongoing.

Dr. John

 

 

Remembering Marsh White: God’s Gentle Giant

Christ Follower, Bible Teacher and Evangelist

Marsh White: Christ Follower, Bible Teacher and Evangelist

Cathy and I first met Marsh White in the early 1980’s at Kanakuk Kamp in Branson, Missouri. We had heard there was a former outstanding football player at the University of Arkansas working as a counselor at the summer camp our son John was attending. As we looked out across the athletic field that afternoon someone pointed to a large African-American with 3 or 4 young, skinny campers who were either clinging to him or being carried by him. We were told, “That’s Marsh White doing his thing!” We were introduced to this shy, gentle man who would have an impact on our family in the years to come.

After we got to know Marsh on a personal level in the ensuing years we learned he had been recruited by Coach Frank Broyles of the Arkansas Razorbacks to play football, and he was the 2nd African-American to play football for the school. Marsh was an outstanding high school football player in his hometown of Bonham, Texas. Marsh said he was living with his grandmother in Bonham, and coaches from TCU were also heavily recruiting him. Two of the black coaches at TCU told his grandmother, “A white coach from Arkansas is coming down here to steal your grandson and take him back to Arkansas.” According to Marsh when Coach Broyles arrived she was waiting on the porch, and when she saw the Arkansas license plate, she ran him off with a broom! Coach Broyles had never received such an ingracious reception. Obviously the coach returned and Marsh went on to have a distinguished career as a Razorback. Following college he was drafted into the NFL to play for several years for the New York Giants before retiring completely from football.

Marsh worked in the summers as counselor to young campers at Kanakuk Kamps in Branson, Missouri while attending Bible college in Dallas, Texas. His heart for ministry involved personal evangelism, Bible teaching and preaching, and the Dallas- Fort Worth area offered many opportunities in every area. His teaching ministry included Southwest Bible Baptist Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary.

In the late 1980’s I received a telephone call from Bill Burnett who was then a Christian counselor living with his family in Van Buren, Arkansas. He and Marsh had remained good friends since football days as Razorbacks at the University of Arkansas. Bill said Marsh was very sick with a kidney disorder in Parkland Hospital in Dallas, and with no medical insurance was in a bad place financially. Bill gave me Marsh’s telephone number and I connected with him to recommend he come to El Dorado where I could arrange hospital care and consultation with our excellent urologist, Dr. Robert (Mickey) Murfee. Marsh came immediately and was found to require a kidney operation which Dr. Murfee did while I assisted him. Marsh was such a large man the operation was physically difficult for us, but Dr. Murfee did an excellent job and Marsh began healing quickly.

He spent the next 2 weeks in our home with Cathy and our children providing loving post-op care, and all of us enjoying the sweet fellowship with him. It “just happened” our youth group at First Baptist Church had a mission trip planned to inner city Chicago, and when time for the trip arrived Marsh was strong enough and agreed to go as one of the chaperones. All who made the trip said they never felt any sense of danger or threatening looks from any of the people in south Chicago because of the imposing presence of gentle Marsh White.

Marsh made many personal mission trips overseas including ministry into Russia, Africa and England. He told me of episodes of smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain into Russia when such an offence usually resulted in imprisonment. On one occasion when standing in the custom’s line for inspection of his luggage in Moscow, Marsh had 2 huge suitcases full of Bibles. He related, “Here I am a large Black man with 2 monstrous suitcases surrounded by white Russians, and I couldn’t have been more conspicuous had I been waving an American flag! Just before I was to be checked, the customs agent who was to check me was called away and the man in the other line told me to “go on” without ever opening my suitcases. Only God could have done that!” Marsh said.

In the ensuing years Cathy and I would occasionally get ministry updates from Marsh and letters of encouragement for our ministry in El Dorado. Marsh moved around so much he was hard to track, but we always knew he was ministering Jesus in every place. We lost track of him for the past 8-10 years while living in Branson, and were not aware of his final illness until we received word he had departed this life. His obituary stated he died quietly on July 13, 2016 in the Baylor Scott White Hospital in Rowlett, Texas, having closed his eyes to this world and opening them to his God and personal Savior.

My remembrance of Marsh White will always be of the gentle giant we first saw carrying a bunch of kids at Kanakuk Kamp and later watching him as he engaged with people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Whether he was carrying or leading, he was always pointing people to the Lord Jesus Christ, and when he finally saw Him on July 13, 2016 he heard Him say, “Well done my good, gentle and faithful servant. Now you may enter into your rest.”

Dr. John