Why I chose the name ‘The Expanding Shrink’ as my blog title

The Expanding Shrink: E. Daniel Martin, M.D.

The Expanding Shrink

I have had a shrinking sense of what I can do in my own strength and wisdom and an expanding sense of what God can do in and through the person who lives and moves in faith. The Apostle Paul said it best, ‘ Without Him I can do nothing.’  But ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’

I grew up in a conservative Mennonite farm family near Hagerstown, Maryland.  My parents were humble people. They had no inflated sense of what they were to do in the world. They believed life was simple. They were called to obey God by obeying the principles laid out in the word of God; and they were called to be faithful to the church in which God had placed them.

My parents loved me unconditionally; but they sometimes struggled to understand me when I talked of wanting to further my education beyond the tenth grade. I had dropped out of high school at my father’s request after completing the tenth grade.  From speakers outside my insular Mennonite community, I heard a ‘new word’. I heard that as Christians we should expand our horizons; we should get an advanced education and like Daniel in the Bible, we should become influential at the highest levels of community and national life.

I decided to become a medical doctor and a psychiatrist.  Then in the process I also was called to be a minister. I took a year in the seminary before I started to medical school. I became a licensed pastor of a new church plant in my first year of medical school.

As a psychiatrist I continued as a faculty member at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine where I had trained. I trained medical students and psychiatric residents in psychiatry. In time I became Psychiatry Residency Training Director and later Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry.

In my role as a pastor I saw the church plant become a growing congregation. I was often asked to speak at various places across the country on topics related to faith and mental health. Eventually I was ordained as a bishop and was influential at regional and national levels of the denomination.

Along with the above I was also involved in starting a faith based drug and alcohol treatment program called the Naaman Center and a treatment program for persons with sexual and relationship problems called Day Seven Ministries.

But in spite of recognition and some degree of success in these various areas, I found myself deeply dissatisfied with what I was experiencing. I had come to believe that the ‘gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes.’  Yet I was not seeing the transformation in people’s lives that I believed God wanted to bring.

I became aware that I was operating from the assumption that if I were to become educated enough or wise enough or experienced enough I could change people. In other words, if I could expand as a psychiatrist and minister, I could more effectively ‘shrink’ peoples’ problems.

I came to see, however, that I needed to shrink my assessment of what I could do and expand my faith in what God can do when we give Him the space to do it.

Approximately 14 years ago I followed God’s call to leave the University, not knowing what I would do next. God arranged for me to take a job working for a company that provided medical and psychiatric care for local jails.  My psychiatric training had been that if I could spend one to two hours a week with a patient for several years I could help them to change. Now I was in a setting where sometimes I only had five minutes with a patient.

I prayed, “Oh God, would you please change people in five minutes because I know that I cannot do it”  God answered this prayer in an amazing way. I will share more about this in a future blog. But I can say with confidence, “ God can and does make a difference in people’s lives in five minutes.”

I believe that the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God is essential for expanding what we do for God. Without the anointing of the Holy Spirit we are limited to the best we can do in our own efforts and discernment. With the power of the Holy Spirit within us we see that Jesus description of us is true, “ These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons….they will place their hands on sick persons and they will get well.”

Yes, my faith has been expanded. I am amazed at what God can do . But I can also say that I have only seen a fraction of all that He wants to do in us His children. Paul says in Ephesians that Christ is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us.”

In some ways I have come full circle to my parents’ rather limited assessment of what man can do. But I have come to a greatly  enhanced sense of what God will do in response to the faith of a man who has been ‘shrunk’ and has died to himself but lives in the faith that God is not limited by our limitations. He is only limited by our lack of faith.

And so I sign off from this my first blog as,

The Expanding Shrink

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Blessan Abraham
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 06:11:47

    blessed to read the blog..keep writing uncle! Blessings

    Reply

  2. Joel E. Yeager
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 09:55:31

    E. Daniel,

    I love the title; I love it even more now that I’ve read your reasons for it. Thanks for beginning these postings from your heart. I will look forward to more and to my own shrinking expansion.

    Blessings,
    Joel

    Reply

  3. Wayne & Mary Lou Lawton
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 12:04:29

    Thank you, E. Daniel, for this – your first blog. It is encouraging to read what
    God is able to do when we give Him the opportunity to use us. You have been a blessing to Mary Lou and me and we know that God has used you to make a difference in our lives. We also know that you a married a wonderful lady who enhances your ministry to others.

    We like the title of your blog – the scripture that it fulfills would be in the words of John the Baptist “He (Jesus) must increase but I must decrease”

    Blessings to you as you share more of Jesus !

    Wayne & Mary Lou Lawton
    Elizabethtown, PA

    Reply

  4. Mary
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 14:37:26

    I enjoyed reading your blog. It encouraged me to press on in expecting to see great things from God

    Reply

  5. Emily
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 20:55:36

    Incredible testimony, E. Daniel. I did not know your whole story. Thank you for sharing, and I think your blog title and the explanation behind it are “divine.”

    Reply

  6. Tom & Helen
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 00:18:32

    Very good E. Dsniel I liked it and was blessed. Helen

    Your inspirational comments about the power of God in belivers are very encourging to us who with tears and prayer present the Gospel to none belivers. In hopes that they will receive and expirence Christ and bring a new life of peace and rightteousness to their daily life. Your story demostres the ability to disciple new belivers in Christ. Tom

    Reply

  7. Penny koval
    Jun 25, 2011 @ 17:42:30

    E.daniel,
    I am appreciating the beauty of technology. May God continue to encourage you to share all that God has deposited within you.
    Your writings are wonderful.
    Blessings, penny

    Reply

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