A Very Special Olympics (Psalms 139:14)

A few weeks ago, our family attended the Southern California Special Olympics held on the campus of Cal State Long Beach University. The event was amazing with athletes of all ages gathered for this annual event. We spent time watching the track and field, basketball, and gymnastics.


One touching moment occurred as we watched the gymnastics competition. It was standing room only as four different events-floor exercise, balance beam, vault, and horizontal bar competed. We were sitting next to the balance beam when a middle aged woman mounted the beam. With a steely and determined look, she began her routine. She was a bit unsteady at the start but quickly gained her composure and advanced halfway down the beam. As she briefly paused to begin the next major move, she looked out into the audience and saw her family. Her face broke into a huge smile and she happily waved. She then went on to complete her routine to the cheers of the appreciative crowd. Dismounting the beam, she rushed into the audience, embracing her family.


The Special Olympics is a tribute to their competitive spirit and to the families that support them. And this is the message of the Special Olympics. The athletes all have special needs but special is not designating a disability. Special is honoring the spirit and attitude of the athletes. Special is celebrating the gifts and talents that God has bestowed upon them and all of us.


I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalms 139:14 (ESV)


All of us are uniquely gifted by God. For these athletes, mere competition and completion of an event is just the beginning. It is using their gifts and talents to the best of their abilities. It is a reminder to me that God expects all of His children to use their gifts in His service. The goal is not the outcome, it is the service. We are special because God made us in His image.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

“You Have Nothing to Fear!” (Acts 2:38)

A few months ago, I delivered a eulogy at the memorial service of my uncle. As I sat in the church pew, awaiting my call to the podium, a distant relative sitting next to me, chided me and said, “You know the number one fear of all Americans is speaking in public. But you have nothing to fear! I’m sure you will be fine.”


His sardonic wit was completely inappropriate for the moment, but it did not rattle me. I calmly delivered the eulogy and returned to my seat. His nonplussed comment betrayed his disappointment that I didn’t fail. “Good job.” he said begrudgingly.


This relative did not realize that as a professor of medicine, I give many speeches to diverse audiences. This eulogy, although a somber occasion, was no different. What allowed me to be at peace with this speech was the knowledge that no one in the audience would be asking me questions. The occasions before a major speech when I do get nervous is when I know someone in the audience may challenge my views. I attempt to anticipate all questions but I can never be in complete control, regardless of the numbers of speeches I have given.


This is why I continually marvel at Peter’s first sermon, on the day of Pentecost. Peter, the fisherman, the rough leader of the disciples, always putting his foot in his mouth. Now, empowered with the Holy Spirit, he delivered an eloquent speech, quoting from memory several Scriptural references from the book of Joel and Psalms. At the end of the sermon, Peter challenged his audience.


And Peter said to them, “ Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38 (ESV)


At any moment, someone listening could have raised an objection or question. But Peter, who had never given a public speech was resolute in his purpose. He had nothing to fear because he was assured of his salvation and empowered by the Holy Spirit. He was in complete control because he had God on his side. And God mightily blessed and three thousand souls accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!


Do you have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? You will have nothing to fear when God is with you.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in y0ur life.

A Beautiful Legacy (Esther 4:14)

For the past 22 years, I have had the privilege to teach and work with many pathology and dermatology residents. Southern California is home to one of the largest populations of Jewish Persians immigrants and some of them have been my residents. As I have worked with them, I cannot help but think that some may be descendants of the Jews taken captive and transported to Persia after the fall of Jerusalem. And I as think upon this, I am reminded of the heroic story of Esther.


Haman, a court official, hated the Jews and tricked the King into signing an edict to kill all of the Jews. Esther was the queen and unknown to the king, a Jew. Her uncle Mordecai delivered the shocking news to her and asked her to approach the King to attempt to stop the potential bloodshed. His words to Esther reverberate through the centuries.


And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14 (ESV)


Esther knew what she must do. In that critical moment in time, Esther bravely approached the King, knowing she could be executed on the spot if she approached without being summoned. But God was in control and allowed the meeting to take place. Through a series of stirring events, Esther saved the entire exiled Jewish nation in Persia by exposing the plot of the evil Haman who had tricked the King into signing an edict to kill all of the Jews.


Esther’s bravery and trust in God saved an entire nation of people. Today, I am witness to this beautiful legacy. As I reflect upon her actions, I realize that, like Esther, every decision that I make, gives God an opportunity to work His will through my life. And who knows if God will place me in a particular situation that creates a legacy?


Esther’s actions have left a beautiful heritage. In my walk with God, I pray that He would continue to open opportunities to serve Him.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


“Go Out and Bless Others!” (Acts 1:11)

The first church I attended in Hawaii after becoming a Christian was small and close knit. The pastor was ebullient and energetic and he had a twinkle in his eye whenever he spoke. It was the perfect setting for me during the four years I returned to Hawaii for medical school. After I left and relocated to California, I heard that the church had grown and tripled in size and had moved to an abandoned department store. I was happy that God was blessing the church and the pastor.


The years passed and I lost touch with the pastor and members who were my friends. The passing of a close mutual friend, brought me in touch with the pastor as he sought to inform me of the sad event. I was grateful to reconnect with him after more than 25 years. As we reminisced over the phone, I asked him what happened to the church. “Brother,” he began. “The church has been dispersed!” For over a year, the church worked to transition the leadership to a new pastor. But at the last moment, this new pastor declined. The existing leadership of the church was old and there was no left to take over. After much prayer, the pastor and board decided to close the church. At the last service, the pastor commanded the members, “Go out and bless others and other churches!”


As I reflected upon the story, I was saddened at first. But I realized that this is what the Bible commands us to do. The pastor was more concerned about the spiritual lives of the church members than creating a legacy for his church. He later worked to help place all of his members in other Bible believing churches throughout Hawaii. He didn’t leave a building. He left a legacy of faith.


Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

Acts 1:11 (ESV)


The church is more than a building and a pastor. It is the Body of Christ on this earth. It is empowered by the Holy Spirit. As members of the Body, we are commanded to go and make disciples of all nations. And if we are in a church that disperses, we are not to be standing around and gazing at Heaven, waiting for Jesus to return, nor should we wallow in self-pity. We are commanded to go out into the world.


Every day we live in Jesus Christ, we should go out and bless other churches. We should go out and bless everyone we meet!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Healing At Multiple Levels (Psalms 103:2-4)

As a dermatopathologist, I have the privilege to look at diseased tissue on the skin of the patient and at the microscopic level. Recently, I had several flat warts on my hands treated with liquid nitrogen. The treatment is quick and effective, essentially creating a localized frostbite on the lesional tissue. Within a day, blisters occurred at the sites of treatment. Within a week, the blisters had popped and the exposed skin began to grow back. I have examined skin biopsies at all the different stages of this process but to witness it on my own body was intriguing. It gave me a much clearer understanding of how healing takes place.


Viewing the healing at multiple levels reminded me of God’s work in my life. God heals me from within and without. Recently, I have struggled with an issue of conflict between myself and other church members. The first level of healing came from within. God spoke to me in times of prayer and through His Word. Simultaneously, God was moving from the outside through several members of the church family. Emails, text messages, and phone calls all voiced their prayerful support. I saw the healing taking place at multiple levels.


Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.

Psalms 103:2-4 (ESV)


God promises to heal us at multiple levels. This psalm reminds us of God’s healing of the external disease and physical pain and the internal struggle of sin-all through His love and mercy.


God is always working in our lives if we allow Him. And when He does, we will see His love and healing at many different levels. Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy to all who place their trust in His Son, Jesus Christ.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Shifting the Blame (Proverbs 17:14)

During a recent difficult time of my Christian walk, I wrestled with a confrontation that occurred between myself and several members of my church. It was an issue that had arisen in the past but this time, something about the encounter struck a very raw nerve and I left extremely upset.


As I sulked and replayed the incident in my mind, my first inclination was to shift the blame to the other parties. I wanted to grouse about this with my wife, get her to take my side. But this time, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and reminded me of this verse.


The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.

Proverbs 17:14 (ESV)


Strife is a slippery slope. When I feel wronged, even if I am part of the problem, I want to shift the blame to others. I want to line up my allies to support my position. But not this time. I meditated upon this verse and asked God to deal with the situation. I quit before I could foment a crisis. I did not speak to anyone, only God. Over the next few days, I did nothing to fan the flames of this strife. Whenever my thoughts drifted to this incident, I meditated upon this verse. And during my times of prayer and reading God’s Word, He gave me great peace and comfort during this difficult time.


Strife and conflict are inevitable. But with God in control, I can take steps to mitigate the damage.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Data Mining My Prayers (2 Timothy 2:13)

Data mining is an important tool for businesses and organizations to strategize and seek new opportunities and markets. For a business, it may entail reviewing customer purchasing patterns including location and mode of purchase, types of purchases, and items that were purchased together. Anyone who has done online shopping has witnessed a small sliver of what data mining can provide as an astute website will immediately flash product suggestions based upon one’s prior purchases.


Data mining does not have to be limited to businesses. Any collection of data can be mined.  My daily prayer list is outlined on a spreadsheet that is kept in a cloud based storage. Wherever I am, I have immediate access through an internet connection. As I reviewed my daily prayers, my eyes shifted toward the bottom of the page where all of God’s answers to my prayers were listed. Dozens of prayers over the last few years were listed with the answers. The thought occurred to me, what if I data mined my prayers? Could I understand myself and God with greater clarity and insight?


One immediate fact that was gleaned was not all of God’s answers were positive, in fact, nearly 20% were negative. But as I dug deeper, mining these negative answers, the exercise revealed even more interesting observations. Although God’s answers to my prayers were negative, within a few weeks to months after His answers, the reasons became very clear that God had my best interests in mind when He said no. One example was a client who had been with me for over 15 years. He abruptly left my practice and established a relationship with another consultant. I was about to call him and attempt to re-establish my relationship with him, but as I took this up in prayer, God very clearly spoke to my heart and said, “No. Don’t do this.” When I asked God why, He answered me through prayer, “I am protecting you.” I was disappointed since this went against every notion of what I thought I needed to do. But I was obedient and did not make the phone call. Several months passed and I later found out that his office was undergoing a serious schism with lawsuits, hurled between the former senior management and the physicians, alleging fraudulent billing practices. His office had degenerated into an ugly civil war and God protected me by preventing my name to be associated with that practice.


If we are faithless, He remains faithful —for He cannot deny himself.

2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV)


Data mining my prayers. God is faithful even when I am not. I question God’s answers to my prayers when I should be continuously thanking Him for faithfulness to me. Take time and review God’s answers to your prayers. Through the lens of time, you will see God’s promises to bless you!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

“Speak American!” (John 13:35)

I was watching a parody of American life on television. One person was angry with a group of recent immigrants who were unable to speak english. In obvious disgust, he yelled, “You’re in America! Speak American!”


This obvious racist rant needed an answer! I yelled at the television screen, “So we should all speak Navajo or Aleut? After all, these are some of the original native Americans!”


What defines a country? There are legal and lay definitions. Some have stated it is defined by a shared language, borders, and culture. America has never legally defined a national language but english has become the de facto standard. We are a nation of immigrants with millions of citizens speaking their mother tongue in addition to english. What binds us all together is our citizenship and belief in this country’s ideals and principles.


What binds us together as Christians? We are millions of believers speaking different languages, embracing a wide variety of cultures. We do not live in a country with borders. We live in an unlimited Kingdom. What binds us all together is belief in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And how do others know we follow Jesus? By our love for one another.


By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:35 (ESV)


We’re in God’s Kingdom! Speak Christian!




Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


Reading the Blogs (Psalms 77:11-12)

This past week has been a particularly difficult time in my spiritual walk. So many times in my past, I would wallow in self-pity. Sometimes I would transfer my frustration to others, including family members. But this time, it was different.


Over three days, I spent several hours a day, re-reading these blogs I have written. I was surprised to learn that since late 2013, I have written 501 blogs. We all have our favorite or preferred methods of communication and writing is mine. I have written these blogs to remind myself of God’s provisions. I have written them during times of suffering and joy. During these past few days, I have received great solace in re-reading many of the blogs. They continually remind me of God’s provisions and faithfulness to me throughout my entire life.


The blogs are based on all experiences of my life-past and present. I was surprised by the total number of blogs but not by how God has sustained me since the beginning of the writings. I write these blogs during spare moments in the workday. Sometimes, an idea strikes me or a Bible verse inspires me, and I quickly jot down the notes in preparation for later completion of the blog. Whatever the circumstance, God has never failed to inspire me with His Word and how it applies to the circumstances of my life, and this is the true testimony of God’s promises in my life.


I am far from perfect but I am willing to continue to submit to God’s Word to continue to conform and transform me into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. I pray that these blogs will give witness to my struggles and how God answers me triumphantly and victoriously.


I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

Psalms 77:11-12 (ESV)


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

“Test Us and See” (Malachi 3:10)

My spiritual life has been challenged this past week. Several brothers and sisters in the church, who heard or witnessed my struggles, sent me encouraging texts and emails, to let them know they are praying for me and my family. One particularly poignant email ended with this statement, “We love you and are here for you – these are not just words – test us and see.”


I reflected upon this last phrase-test us and see.


I have never placed a friendship or relationship to the test in this manner. There have been many friends and family members with whom I have spent countless hours in support-visiting them in hospitals, sitting in quiet support in a hospice, or communicating via phone or emails. But I have never asked someone to put my friendship with them to the test. Perhaps it is because I think that I may fail or disappoint. This loving sister in Christ was sincere in her support of me. She was determined to do whatever it took to support me during my trials.


Am I as sincere in my love for God? Would I have the confidence or audacity to say to God, “You know I love you. Test me and see!”


I may not speak to God with such vainglorious verbiage, but I do put God to the test in more subtle ways. I may rationalize certain actions and behaviors by stating, “God, I have done these good works for you. Will you bless me for this?” or “God, I have kept my Bible studies and prayer times everyday this week. Can you overlook that off-color remark I made this morning?”


Putting God to the test is bargaining with God. And all of this is done in direct opposition to what the Bible states. Do not put God to the test!


Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Matthew 4:7 (ESV)


Jesus was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16. The Bible has many other admonitions against putting God to the test.  But there is one verse that does challenge us to put God to the test.


Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Malachi 3:10 (ESV)


God, through the prophet Malachi, exhorted the Israelites to be unselfish in their tithes and offerings. It is insightful that God does challenge us to put Him to the test when it involves giving and offering our financial and material possessions. I would aver that this also encompasses the giving of our time and resources to support others who are suffering. Jesus reminded us that when we care for those who are hurting, we are caring for Him.


I am grateful for the the prayerful support of many brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. They are the Body of Christ. Their unselfish love and support of me represents Jesus’ love within all believers. I do not need to test their words because I know they are supported by the unfailing love and power of God.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.