Mathematically Minded

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

–          Matthew 25:31-46


“On the day when Christ comes, he will judge all nations.  There will be gathered before him not only Jews, but the Gentiles also.  Not merely those nations who for many ages have heard the gospel but also those to whom it will then have been but lately published, for the kingdom of God must be published throughout all nations as a testimony against them.  Everywhere Christ will have been preached, and then from all regions men will be summoned to stand before him.  This refers not merely to all living nations but to all the nationalities that have passed away as well.  Then those who perished before the flood will arise.  Numerous Gentiles who have died are not lost; they will each answer to the roll call in the great day of the Lord.  The earth, which is now becoming more and more a graveyard, will yield up her dead, and the sea itself will be transformed into a solid pavement.  Multitudes will be gathered together in the valley of decisions (Joel 3:14).  Their bones will come together, and breath will enter their bodies anew, and they will live once more.  Even though they have slept long in the tomb, they will all rise with one impulse and have just one thought – I am about to appear before the Judge.”

–          Charles H. Spurgeon


When we announced that my wife was having open heart surgery, our younger daughter-in-law started sending long messages through Facebook and quoting Scripture.  She was very concerned.  Then, during a Facebook message conversation that she and I had, I said something that did not jive with her thinking.  I clarified.  “Oma (We are called Opa and Oma by the grandchildren.) has a 5% mortality rate for this surgery and a 15% morbidity rate, meaning 15% chance of something bad happening – need for pacemaker or need for kidney dialysis.”  She thought it was a 15% chance of dying.  Now, she was still concerned but less anxious.


I wrote this the day before my wife’s surgery.  I hope to give a positive prognosis here.


How my wife has done since the surgery:  She has had some setbacks.  Some people have a hard time getting adjusted to the new valve.  It sometimes places their heart into afib.  (The heart gets confused as to what heart rate it should have, bouncing from 90 beats per minute to 110, then 80, all within a minute’s time.)  The type of afib that causes the heart to simply shutter, without pumping, is not what my wife has.  That’s good, but as the kidney doctor has said, each time the blood pressure drops low, it is like getting a punch in the kidneys.  Her kidney function has worsened to pre-surgery numbers as a result, but they are showing signs of improvement    This does not negate the miracle in the post from two days ago.  If the kidneys had not shown improvement, she would be getting fitted for a dialysis port about now, and we are hopeful that God will restore the kidney function once the afib is over.  Of course, we need God’s help there too.  She converted to sinusoidal rhythm the first time, but when she had her first attempt at walking down the hall, she went into afib again and did not successfully convert the second time.  (She has had so many problems between the thyroid and the heart that her heart rate could never get about 110 beats per minute, not even on a treadmill for a stress test.  The exercise, then, was an unexpected shock to her system.  The heart now can pump that fast.)  They will be working on that today.  As of this hour, her fib is still there, but less ffluctuation   Recovery is more of a marathon than a sprint.

Her physical strength is a lot better.  Her color is now normal.  She has even smiled a couple of times.  (An arterial port in her neck makes smiling hard to do, but that port stays in until the afib is resolved.)  She had to have her temporary pacemaker reattached due to the afib, but her drain tubes are gone.  That makes it easier for her to move.


The deal was that my wife told our son the numbers on mortality and morbidity rates with the surgery, and he relayed the numbers to his wife.  I don’t know where the miscommunication was, but there was a miscommunication.  I warned my daughter-in-law, “When it comes to numbers, ask me.  When it comes to people, ask my wife.”


I am mathematically minded.  I often think in numbers.  I can forget writing for my blog for a day and spend all day studying the numbers on the stats page for the blog or going through a year’s worth of blog posts to determine how many times I have quoted from the book of Matthew.  (Note to self: Remember to add one under Matthew 25 for today.)


An old professor of mine was often irritated by wasted statements – thus wasted time.  A common one was, “Hey, Doc, I have a question” rather than stating the question without the preamble.  The professor would reply, “Seven”, then turn and walk away without ever hearing the question.  I figured that I was not half as good as my beloved professor, so I chose the response, “Three and a half.”  But I would usually stick around for the actual question, regardless of the confusion I just caused.  I was once challenged by a smarter than ordinary engineer.  “Smart what” is up to you to decide.  He said that a number without units (pounds, miles per hour, kilojoules) lacked intelligence.  I replied that the units for my answer depended upon the unsaid question.  That time, I walked away without hearing the question.


When I graduated from college, I thought that I could boil down any physical process in the world to its mathematics, and then manipulate it.  That is precisely what I did for the next three years, modeling a petrochemical plant and finding ways to save millions of dollars, either in operating costs or ways to increase plant production with less wasted or less valuable by-products.


My wife is different.  My wife can remember the birthday of her best friend in the third grade.  She remembers the names of everyone that she meets, if she has talked to them for at least two minutes.  And beware what you say in those two minutes; the words may come back to haunt you ten years from now.  My wife will remember.  As she says, “If you love your neighbor, won’t you listen to what they say and remember their birthday?”  No argument here.


This post started with the thought of writing about one verse: Mark 4:9, Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”


Jesus said that line often, probably more often than is recorded in the Gospels.  The Mark 8 reference is written a little differently in that we see, we hear, but do we understand?  Everyone that heard Jesus could hear Jesus (the most elementary Logic), so why say that if you have ears, then hear?  Isn’t that a wasted statement, the kind my old professor did not like?  Jesus wasn’t talking about hearing, but understanding what you heard, and even then, spiritually understanding.


I talked to a pastor one time and I used the term “born-again”.  He didn’t get angry, but he cautioned me to find another term.  “Born-again” was a bad term in society today.  “Born-again” people cram it down the throats of the not born-again crowd.  They make the not born-again crowd think that the born-again people are members of an exclusive club.


Okay, the evolution of language is so fast these days, the terms I just used may have a different meaning by the time this post gets published, but my response that day was: “But isn’t being born-again access to the most exclusive club that there is?  And the ‘secrets’ of the club are only revealed after the Holy Spirit illuminates the initiate member after they have joined?”


The pastor laughed and then agreed with me.  Okay, I will not try to cram anything down an unbeliever’s throat, but I will confess to trying in the past – only because I loved that person dearly and did not want to see them lost.  As Evangelists, part-time Evangelists, or just ordinary Christians trying to get by, we walk a slack rope instead of a tightrope.  It wobbles to and fro.  It is a sort of minefield that is constantly changing.  We love those around us.  Okay, with some people, it make a lot of effort, but…  They may be family, friends, workmates, folks at church, or simply people that we meet more than once.  On one hand, you can offend.  On the other hand, they may be transformed from a goat into a sheep.


Ah, now it makes sense starting with the sheep-goat parable, followed by Spurgeon’s comments related to that parable.  But why the title of Mathematically Minded?


If you want to get my attention, use numbers.  If you want to get my wife’s attention, use heart-warming people stories.


People are different.  That’s why Jesus used a variety of parables.  It is the reason why there are four Gospels, in some instances, four different ways of telling the same story.  For example, the only miracle that is in all four Gospels is the feeding of the 5,000, not counting the Resurrection, of course.  Each Gospel has a story about raising someone from the dead, other than Jesus.  Luke has two stories, but the story of Lazarus is only in the book of John.  All four Gospels tell of the Lord’s Supper, but the stories are very different.  It all boils down to what is important to the person reading or listening.  That person could have lived in Jesus’ time or that person could be your next-door neighbor.


So, when you share your beliefs with someone and they brush you off, you could get depressed or you could approach them from a different angle.  Get to know them better and see how their mind works.  Find out what is important to them.  Sometimes love for the person and our emotions in general get in the way of us expressing ourselves on their wavelength.  It could be that God has another person in line to guide them toward Jesus, a person that is better tuned to the way that person’s mind works.  If so, your friend still remembers what you said, and once they hear it from a better angle (for them), their spiritual ears open, and they softly thank you for showing them a little love along the way.


Yet, in the end, there will still be goats.  If you start thinking, “This friend is too dear to me to lose”, remember two things.  God is in control.  And God will ensure that there are no tears in Heaven.  How?  I have no idea, but I trust in God and I trust in His Word.


Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


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