TJ Knutson, MD

Dr. TJ Knutson is a graduate of Loma Linda University School of Medicine. He currently lives in Northern California and works as an ER physician in Redding. When not working, he enjoys gardening, cooking it up in the kitchen, jumping in ice-cold water, and many other outdoor activities with his wife of 12 years and their 4 children.

In addition to medical evangelism, his passion is to make plant based food that is 100% healthy & 110% delicious. He frequently tests out recipes on co-workers & friends. Feel free to contact him at if you would like to brainstorm.

From Band-Aids to Life More Abundant

in Winter 2018   |
Published on 01/01/2018   |
10 min

The thief cometh not, but for to steal and to kill and to destroy, but I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10

Sirens screaming, the ambulance pulled up, and the ER doors flew open. “Dr. Knutson! This boy is gonna need more than a Band-Aid. He’s gonna need a prayer,” said the paramedic. With 15 stabbings all over the kid’s body, it was likely he wouldn’t make it. There was blood everywhere, open wounds all over his young body, thus my job was straightforward this time. I knew exactly what to do. Instinctively, my fantastic team and I went to work.

My job in the emergency room is simple: it’s to save life. But how complex this can be. I never know what will come through those ER doors. It could be anything from a victim of a car accident to a chain smoker having a heart attack. I do my best to preserve life, to help the dying, to troubleshoot mysteries of pain and misery, and to encourage, to comfort, and to care for my patients. Every doctor, every nurse, and every medical caregiver knows what I’m talking about. We care for every life because life is sacred and special. God made it that way.
Life and death situations constantly fill the ER. But what is perhaps more common is the ambiguous, perplexing, “seemingly no cause” problems patients come in with. These are what I call the lifestyle and emotional related issues: chronic pain, chronic fatigue, gut and digestive issues, debilitating migraines, arthritis, diabetes, life-destroying depression, and suicide attempts — all of which are on the rise. These are typically the patient charts we docs shy away from. I like the straightforward problems, the “I know I can fix it” stuff, the “I’ll stitch you up and send you on your way” patients; “Here’s your Band-Aid, adios.” Thirty patients in a nine-hour shift is my limiting factor. I don’t have hours to spend with each patient counseling them, educating them. I just don’t. All I have are minutes. That’s it, or so I thought.

But I quickly saw a much greater work that was needed in the lives of my patients. People are suffering for a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), a lack of understanding the health laws, made by God, that are as true as the law of gravity. The need to know the huge importance of a plant based nutritious diet (NUTRITION), of vigorous blood moving, muscle building (EXERCISE), pure, refreshing life-giving (WATER), blessed disease destroying, vitamin-D producing (SUNSHINE), of abstaining from everything bad and judiciously using that which is good (TEMPERANCE), fresh out-of-door (AIR), getting hours of (REST) before midnight and keeping the holy Sabbath day, and (TRUSTING) in a incredibly good, loving Heavenly Father. Eighty percent of the time, people are reaping the seed sown of violating some basic, foundational health law. As I constantly teach my kids, choices have consequences. So it is true with one’s body, mind and spirit.

Something more than my usual round of treatment must be done. People need help. God started impressing me in my devotional time, “TJ, your patients need more than a Band-Aid, they need more than a pill, they need the health message, they need the everlasting gospel.” Clearly, I needed to do more than just tell them to watch the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” as I had been doing, as good as that film is. I want my patients to understand the true foundation of health and happiness. The only way to do this is to include God in the picture.

As I prayerfully asked God for wisdom, He gave me an idea for sharing the health and gospel messages in a short but powerful 2-3 minutes. I was excited. With renewed conviction I started venturing into lifestyle counseling with patients when I sensed an open door. As I began doing this, I was encouraged by how receptive and grateful my patients turned out to be. Patients were hungry for knowledge. They were so appreciative. “I’ve never heard that before doctor, ” quickly became a recurring theme. And God brought me further. I began to view the typically difficult patient charts as opportunities to share more about the health message. Chronic abdominal pain, a commonly dreaded chief complaint in the ER, soon became a chart that I would immediately pick up. When the routine labs, ultrasound and CT studies frequently and recurrently come back without a diagnosis, I now have a different answer for my patient. I no longer leave them with, “Your tests came back normal, take these prescribed medications for pain and nausea for a few days and follow up with your regular doctor.” Instead, I feel compelled to give them the ultimate prescription: life more abundant.

When the door of opportunity opens, I take it.

“Mrs. Jones, all of the testing we have done, including labs, urine, and a CT scan have not shown any abnormalities. That’s good news. However, this does not mean there is not a problem. It just means we will have to do a different kind of testing. Have you considered the possibility that what you eat and drink on a daily basis could be contributing to how you are feeling?” I ask. “No. Tell me more,” she says.

So I proceed as follows:

“Well, Mrs. Jones, let me tell you a short story and you tell me if any of this sounds familiar to you. The average American lives a stressed out and hectic life. They wake up in the morning, grab a cup or two of coffee and maybe a bagel or donut for breakfast, and then rush off to work. After a half-day of work they grab a ‘lunch’, usually consisting of a packaged meal or fast food, both of which, undoubtedly have GMO and other highly refined, objectionable ingredients, and then finish their work day exhausted. They come home and eat a huge meal because they are starving, and then watch TV for a few hours before going to bed. Unable to fall asleep because of how their day has gone, they reach for alcohol, Ambien, Benadryl or some other sleep aid, and this same process is repeated every day.”

Mrs. Jones answers, “Doctor Knutson, you just described my life! How did you know?”

“Now Mrs. Jones, let me ask you this question. Doesn’t it seem strange that this person is too tired to wake up in the morning without being put into a chemically induced state of wakefulness (caffeine) and yet they are ‘too awake’ to go to sleep at the end of the day without being put into a chemically induced state of sleepiness (alcohol, etc.…)?”

“Yes doctor, when you put it that way that sounds like a terrible way to live!”

“Mrs. Jones, to contrast the health destroying lifestyle I have just described, I would like to share with you a health promoting alternative that is beautiful and simple. Would you like that?”

“Of course Doctor, who wouldn’t?”

“To understand health Mrs. Jones, you need look no further than the author of life, who is also the author of health. 3 John 2 says, ‘Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health even as thy soul prospereth.’ God wants us all to have the best health possible, not only physically but also spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. The greatest benefit of being physically healthy is that your mind is clearer and more able to discern between right and wrong.”

“In Genesis chapters 1 and 2, you see the blueprint for health and the abundant life. God created Adam and Eve (husband and wife), put them in a garden and told them ‘stay together’. They were to drink from the water of life, not out of vending machines, soda fountains, or coffee shops. They were to eat of all the trees, every fruit, grain, legume, and nut they could see except one (the tree of knowledge of good and evil). They were to play with the animals and name them, not eat them. They were to rest every 7th day Sabbath and spend extra special time with God and with each other. Notably absent in the Genesis account, God does not tell them that ‘the pharmacy is around this tree, bureau of insurance is around the next tree, and the urgent care clinic is around the last tree.’”

And so, the course of my life and the way I practice medicine has forever changed. I still keep current with evidence based practice, but I see so much more potential in the realm of true prevention, by living how our Creator has ordained that we should, and I will not hesitate to give any patient that better option if they have any desire to know more. Additionally, by planting a seed and introducing someone in a practical and tangible way to Christ is the highest calling of all, and my ultimate goal in the ER.

Even more exciting than sharing this beautiful health message with a patient is when I also get to share it with a co-worker, who just so happens to be caring for the patient with me and listens to the above conversation I have with the patient. To have someone who I work with on a regular basis come up and ask more about the benefits of these NEWSTART principles, and then come back and tell me 2 months later, “Dr. Knutson, you won’t believe it, but I have been off all dairy, all refined sugar, all caffeine for 4 weeks!”

“Wow, I’m so proud of you”, I respond. “How do you feel?”

“Well, the first week was hell, but now I feel fantastic. I have lost 20 pounds without even trying. I am sleeping better and my husband has noticed I am happier!” Praise the Lord! This is why I decided to go into medicine.

As God so often likes to do, just when I had settled into a routine, He impressed both my wife and me to move. Exciting doors appeared to be opening out of state and we put our house on the market by owner. Amazingly, four days later we were in escrow and I put in my notice at work. We planned our travel route, and as I was looking at my last month at work, the Lord distinctly impressed me to give my co-workers the present-truth Advent message. With all the prophetic events transpiring around us (and the 500th year anniversary and reportedly the end of Protestantism this past October 31, 2017) the time to be silent was over. I wrote a letter expressing appreciation for working with each and every one of my co-workers and also provided a short introduction to the book The Great Controversy. During my last few shifts, I passed out nearly 80 copies, which I wrapped and gave with my letter. Little did I suspect that just before our trip, which we still took, our house fell out of escrow and the out of state opportunities fell through as well. God surely has a sense of humor, but more importantly, He knows how to lead us to the point that we will be willing to go beyond our comfort zone for Him in His cause. Praise be to His name. As of now, I have found myself working part-time (by choice) at my old job with my same group of beloved co-workers, some of whom have expressed heartfelt thanks for my sharing that book.

Not only did some express appreciation for the book, but there were about a half-dozen additional co-workers who, upon my return, excitedly came up telling me of their new journeys to better health. “Dr. Knutson, I have given up eating meat,” said one of my scribes. “Dr. Knutson, my husband and I have gone completely plant-based for the past month,” reported one of my favorite nurses. “I have given up all refined sugar,” said another. “I have completely gone off caffeine,” and on it went. If we sow seeds, God, the master gardener, will nurture the soil. “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”
– 2 Corinthians 9:6

And so it is, that we are to grow. From the beginning of my “witnessing,” which was mostly limited to recommending secular documentaries on healthy living, to now feeling comfortable, as the Spirit leads, to giving a short but pointed Bible study to patients in the couple of minutes I have with them, God has grown my faith. I have also been greatly blessed by, and love to share, the magazine “Amazing Health Facts” which beautifully shares the NEWSTART principles and introduces people to Christ. There has never been a better time and an easier time to share our literature as now. Find one that you especially like, be it a health magazine, Steps to Christ, The Great Controversy, Desire of Ages, Ministry of Healing, or any of your favorite GLOW tracts.

Have you recently felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit to take a bolder stand in your workplace or in your neighborhood? Pray for courage. Pray for creativity. God will give you the ability to share tactfully, skillfully, graciously, and yet boldly. He has been so gracious in entrusting us with such great light. Now go and share life more abundant with someone!

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and
the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
– Isaiah 60:1

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