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Friends, in today’s odd column, I’m inviting you to join me on an unresolved quest. I’ll conclude with a story about former Gov. Judy Martz.

Using the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI), Google’s DeepVariant builds an accurate picture of each person’s distinct genome. “Now, our ability to measure our biology far surpasses our ability to understand it. The only technology we have for interpreting and acting on these vast amounts of data is AI. This is going to completely change the future of medicine” (Frey, CEO, Deep Genomics). Remarkable – personalized, precision medicine.

Still, however much the power of technology empowers us, we have more. Reader, my life experience and my reading of the Bible has stretched my frame of reference regarding our bodies. May I return the favor?

Considering our hearts

Many years ago, I helped a family when their 16-year old committed suicide. As the years passed, his parents became involved with organ donor families and recipients. They invited me to attend one meeting.

Because his heart was seriously damaged before he was born, the speaker – in his 50s – qualified for a new heart – the heart of an 18-year-old woman. What fresh energy! He told us that his first request after surgery was a cup of coffee. Previously, he’d never been a coffee drinker. But, his donor was. His new heart changed his tastes. What?!

According to some research, more messages are sent from the heart to the brain than from the brain to the heart. Curious!

Enlarging our understanding

When David wrote: “My heart trusts in” the LORD" (Ps. 28:7), did he mean that his heart had some capacity to trust? Did he write truly for himself and for us -- not, as some might say, as one from an unenlightened pre-scientific age that sentimentalized parts of our body?

David writes: “Thank you for making me so ‘wonderfully’ complex (literally, “I stand in awe” -- at the personal unique intricacy of God’s creation)! Your workmanship is marvelous (difficult/intricate work, successfully accomplished). You watched me as I was being ‘formed in utter seclusion’ (literally: “You created my kidneys”), as I was woven together in the dark of the womb -- how well I know it” (Psalm 139:13,14).

When David writes: “How well I know it,” we wonder: because David spoke by the Spirit of God, did he write more truly about our hearts, kidneys and bodies than we know? We can assume superiority over previous generations because of our advances in technology. The gender revolution shows we can give more credence to our thoughts/feelings than to physical reality. But, have we missed the sophistication of God’s creation reflected in the Scripture?

Hearts again

Hebrews used the word “heart” to describe the core of a person’s identity. We limit the heart to being the source of love, affection or emotion. However, David begins Ps.139 with “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.” He concludes with: “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (v 23). “Me” and “my heart” are synonymous.

Sometimes, our translators have tried to address the difference in Hebrew understanding and our culture’s apprehension by changing the translation. They are attempting “dynamic equivalence.” For example, translators make these substitutions for “heart” in Proverbs:

  • “He who commits adultery lacks ‘sense’ (‘heart’)” (6:32);
  • “You who are foolish, gain ‘understanding’ (‘heart’)” (8:5);
  • “A man who lacks ‘judgment’ (‘heart’) derides his neighbor” (11:12).

Reader, do these translations help your understanding or hinder it?


And what about our kidneys? Again, we find translators squeamish about calling our kidneys -- kidneys.

  • A father tells his child: “My ‘inmost being’ (‘kidneys’) will exult when your lips speak what is right” (Prov 23:16).
  • “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? You are near their mouth and far from their ‘heart’ (‘kidneys’). O LORD, you see me and test my ‘thoughts’ (‘heart’) about you” (Jer. 12:1-3).
  • “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the ‘mind’ (‘kidneys’) to give every man according to his ways” (Jer 17:9,10).

More -- flesh/body

In his Pentecost sermon, Peter quotes David: "My body also will live in hope" (Ps. 16:9, Acts 2:26).

Friend, we are left with this question: “Has God imbued our bodies with hope capacitors?” Perhaps. Somehow, David and Peter tell us our bodies hope. They do not say our minds, our hearts or our kidneys hope on behalf of our bodies.

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We are fearfully and wonderfully made – more than we know.

Renewed wonder and relationship

God treats our bodies with profound care. In creation (all made from nothing!) the incarnation (God made man!) -- in redemption (rebels made righteous!) and the coming consummation (heaven made ours) -- our bodies are significant. God’s grand work embraces our bodies.

Let’s respond with David: “I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night, also my ‘heart’ (‘kidneys’) instructs me” (Ps 16:7). Kidneys teach?

David’s words reminded me of our former Gov. Judy Martz. Last March, a physically diminished but personally vibrant Judy spoke at a prayer breakfast in Helena. Later, I saw her at Costco. She and her sister, Penny, were having hot dogs. They waved me over.

As we talked, I asked Judy about the pain of her pancreatic cancer – diagnosed Nov. 11, 2014. She told me that her pain came mostly at night: “That way, the pain is between God and me.” I was astonished at her gracious words! So, friend, I pass them on to you.

Question: Had her pancreas – near her kidneys – instructed her?

And, what a battler – Judy, lived longer than many who face this foe. At 74, she died of the disease, Oct. 30, 2017, in Butte.

Now, Judy declares with David and Peter: “‘I saw the Lord always before me… Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope… you will fill me with joy in your presence” (Acts 2:25 ff.).

Ponder David, Peter and Judy’s remarkable affirmations. Perhaps you’d like to join them.

Steve Bostrom, a descendant of Swedish homesteaders, husband of Via, father of eight, and grandfather of 10, loves Helena and serves here as a pastor at large. The Presbyterian Church in America oversees his work. To contact him, email: If you would like access to previous columns, please go to


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