“It Will Be Good Preparation!” (Jeremiah 12:5)

During the summers before my freshman and sophomore years in college, I was privileged to do research at a hospital medical laboratory. The first summer, my physician leader was a young resident physician, training in general surgery. He was arrogant, cocky, and overbearing…and that was when he was in a good mood!


It was a rough summer but I learned many important lessons. The next summer, I had a different physician leader. He was an experienced surgeon from South Africa and the exact opposite of the first physician. When we first met, he looked over my resume and wryly commented, “So you worked with Dr. Smith last year. How was that?”


“It was good.” My quick reply surprised him.


“Oh…well! Glad you thought it was good. I heard he was a terror to everyone, especially the students.”


I answered cautiously, not wishing to offend. “It was difficult,” I slowly began. “But I figured that I should get used to this type of treatment now, before I enter medical school. It will be good preparation.”


The surgeon grinned, “Good optimistic philosophy!”


It was true. My experience taught me that I needed to have a tougher character if I were to survive in the world of medicine and life. And it is even more relevant when I serve God.


If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?

Jeremiah 12:5 (ESV)


God reminds us that to serve in His Kingdom, we must prepare ourselves, above and beyond what we think we can or could do. And this is only possible if we yield our lives to Him in complete submission. Only by confessing our sins to Jesus Christ, repenting, and turning to Him as our Lord and Savior, will we be able to compete with what the world and the enemy confront us. It is a solemn and sacred duty that God calls us to follow. But it will be good preparation for a lifetime in eternity with Him.


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

“It Does Hurt!” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Recently, I had one of my dermatology residents freeze several flat warts on my hands. This very common procedure utilizes a precisely directed thin stream of liquid nitrogen, directed on the lesional skin. The effect is instantaneous, permanent, and painful! It was only a few seconds per wart but I complained like a spoiled child. After the procedure, I queried the other residents if they have ever undergone this procedure and if they thought it was painful. Several of them nodded and laughed. “Yes, it does hurt, doesn’t it?”


Yes it does!


It is a simple treatment, one that is prescribed thousands of times a day, throughout all dermatology offices. I have recommended it many times without giving a thought to the potential discomfort. I only knew the treatment was fast, inexpensive, and effective. After having the procedure done on myself, I was willing to at least reconsider my nonchalant attitude. Is the short term pain worth the long term gain. In this case, yes.


We hear the phrase, “No pain, no gain.” We balance the short term pain with the long term benefits. Sometimes, God deals with us in the same manner.


In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith —more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire —may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV)


Trials often cause us pain. Can I accept God’s promises that He is using these short term trials for long term gains in my life? Do I trust God that He is working through all circumstances in my life and He is control? Or do I doubt God’s sovereignty over all of Creation? Who is more trustworthy? Me or God?


It does hurt! But if God is using the pain to mold me into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, it is more precious than gold!




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


“Doctors, Engineers, and Pilots” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

One of my employees has an interesting take on occupations. He lumps doctors, engineers, and pilots in the same category. When I queried him about the reason for this association, he stated, “Because if a mistake is made by anyone in these occupations, someone could immediately die.”


I am sure others could think about other occupations that may have an equally devastating impact upon a person’s life if a mistake were made, but I would have to agree with his sweeping statement. Knowing many in all of these occupations, I can attest that all take their work very seriously and are cognizant that if a mistake is made, the results could be tragic.


When we live with the knowledge that any decision we make could end tragically, how does that alter our behavior? We choose our words carefully, we think before we act, and we review our actions after completion. We revisit every encounter making sure we did not miss any critical step or bit of information.


In my spiritual walk with God, should my behavior be any different? The Holy Spirit guides my life but I need to choose to obey. My words, thoughts, actions all need to be controlled by Him. And I must continue to review my actions, testing them against the Word of God.


And I do so because I realize that all of my actions have an eternal significance, not only for myself but for others.  While any decision may not lead to an immediate tragedy, if I neglect any step in my walk with God, it may lead to sin and backsliding. It may lead to a hardened heart unwilling to assist a neighbor. It may lead to ignoring the Holy Spirit’s direction in my life. The end result would indeed be tragic.


Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

2 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV)


All of our actions have an eternal significance. I must continue to hold all of my thoughts and actions captive to the Word of God. Whatever my occupation, I am first and forever a believer in Jesus Christ and a fellow heir with Him to God the Father.


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

The Encyclopedia (2 Peter 1:3)

When I was about 6 years old, my parents purchased a gift for me which still resonates to this present day. They presented me with an encyclopedia. It was a somewhat surprising purchase since I was not an avid reader at that time. But I soon became one. I had forgotten, but my parents reminded me that after I received the gift, I would spend every free moment reading the encyclopedia. There is no question, the encyclopedia ignited my love for learning.


I am grateful to my parents for the foresight they had in providing me with the proper resources and surrounding me with a supportive environment for learning. Learning was not a task, it was a joy.


God has also surrounded me with a supportive environment and given me His resources. He has placed me in a Bible believing church, surrounded me with a church family, and has provided the Bible to instruct me. Most importantly, through belief in His Son, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior, He has given me His Holy Spirit to keep me in His ways.


His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…

2 Peter 1:3 (ESV)


My parents provided me with the resources to learn. God provides me with resources to live. And it is all for His glory!


Praise His Holy Name!


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

“We Thought You Should Have This!” (1 Peter 4:10)

When I was 11 years old, my parents sat me down in the living room. Their serious demeanour worried me since the living room was only used for guests  and I wondered, “What did I do now?” My father began. “Son, you’re getting older now and your mother and I thought you should have this.”


They produced a suitcase-shaped object from behind their chair and placed it on the table in front of me.


“What is this?” I asked in obvious confusion.


“It’s a record player!” My dad was excited as he demonstrated the device. “See, the speakers fold up over the turntable.” The suitcase opened and the two speakers detached from the turntable. It was a portable record player!


“Wow! Thanks! This is a cool gift. Is this an early birthday gift?” I asked since my birthday was only 20 days away.


“No,” my parents both smiled. “We just thought you should have this.”


They gave me $10 dollars and told me to buy any record I wanted. I already was listening to songs on the radio but the record player now captured my attention and I listened to it everyday. With time, my parents helped me to add and improve this system. To this day, I have always owned a good audio system to enjoy my music collection.


Although my parents did not create my love for music, they significantly enhanced and accelerated my desire. God works within us in a similar manner and takes our good desires and magnifies them to be used for His glory. God took David’s skill as a shepherd and transformed him into the greatest king of Israel, foreshadowing the coming of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. God used Saul’s zealousness to persecute the early Christians and transformed Him into the mightiest and most zealous missionary the Church has ever witnessed.


As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…

1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)


When God offers to give something to us, gladly accept it and ask Him to help you use it for His glory. Like the wonderful gift that my parents bestowed upon me so many years ago, it may ignite your desires in ways you never expected.


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

Smog Check (Romans 8:28)

It should have taken fifteen minutes. It was a routine smog check, something I had performed upon all of my cars, dozens of time ever since I first starting driving in California. There are a plethora of smog check stations, but for the last eight years, I have only used two, and within the last two years, it was only one of these. Thus, the other day, I found myself running errands in a part of the city where I do not often frequent, but it was close to the smog check station that I used for nearly six years. I pulled into the station, expecting to be greeted by the owner. Instead there was an unfamiliar face. His demeanor was cold. I asked if Dave, the previous owner, was around. He looked at me suspiciously and said, “Dave?”


“Yes, Dave. He used to own this place.”


“Dave hasn’t been here in 3 years.”


Flustered, I sheepishly muttered, “Oh, I guess I haven’t been here in awhile. Anyway, I am pleased to work with you.”


He took my paperwork and proceeded with the inspection. At the end of the ten minute test, he turned to me and said, “You have a problem.”


I had never heard these words uttered at a smog inspection so I was naturally perturbed.


“The light on the sensor should have gone on but it didn’t. I need your car manual.”


I fished the manual from the dashboard and handed it to him. He spent the next ten minutes poring over the pages, looking for what, only he knew. He then proceeded to spend another 15 minutes under the steering wheel, searching for something. Then, he spent another 15 minutes under the passenger’s dash, removing things with his screwdriver. I was growing suspicious.


“Umm…how much longer will this be? It’s not like I have an unusual or old car.”


That did it!


“What are saying? You have a problem. I have to fix it!” he snarled at me.


“I’m just asking how long will this be. I need to leave by 2PM.”


“What time is it now?”


“It is ten till two.”


“This test takes ten minutes.” his voice was rising in anger.  “I usually charge customer $50 to make this kind of repair.”


My antennae went up. I smelled a scam! I searched for an exit strategy.


“Listen, I appreciate what you are doing but I need to get back to my office. I am a physician and I need to attend to my patients.” I wasn’t sure if I should disclose my occupation but I wanted to speak the truth.


“Fine. You go. I usually charge $50 for this.” He repeated himself, emphasizing his disgust.


“Thank you.” I wanted to salvage this entire interaction. “Listen, I apologize if I seemed like I was questioning your expertise. It’s just I have never had this happen before. I thought this would take ten minutes.”


“Go.” He dismissively proclaimed.


I got into my car, anxious to leave this nightmare; it should have been a routine smog inspection. But it seems this inspector was determined to mark his territory. I started the car and to my horror, the entire dashboard was dark and the odometer, speedometer, fuel gauge, and battery gauge were not moving. I restarted the car, hoping this was a weird aberration. It was not. Fortunately the car seemed to work and I quickly drove away.


As I drove, I debated my options. I could take the care to the dealer and hopefully they could fix the issue. But I decided to take a chance and take it into my usual smog check station. I would explain the situation to him, I reasoned with myself, and hoped he would have compassion and fix the problem.


As I drove, my feelings alternated between anger and anxiety. But God intervened at that moment. He spoke to my heart and asked me to trust Him. He brought to mind the familiar verse from Romans.


And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 (ESV)


After I recited it out loud and prayed, I said, “Ok Lord. You are in control. I know that all things work together for Your good. I honestly cannot see the good in this situation. Perhaps You are preventing me from being in an accident. Perhaps, You are protecting my daughter the next time she drives this car. Perhaps I will never know. But I will trust You and not grouse and complain like I usually do.”


I brought the car in to my usual smog check station. When I pulled in, I was chagrined but explained the entire episode to him. At the end I looked at him, searching his eyes for any compassion, and said, “I am so sorry I didn’t come to you first. I feel like I betrayed you!”


With a serious face, he said, “You did!” As his face broke into a smile he said, “Let’s see if we can figure this out!”


Within five minutes, he isolated the problem. It was a burnt out fuse. There was also another fuse missing. All signs pointed to a manipulation by the first smog check station. I quickly drove to an auto supply shop down the street and returned with the two fuses. He replaced the fuses and the dashboard instantly lit up. He then completed the smog inspection.


God used this surreal experience to teach me about trusting Him. Instead of lashing out in anger and frustration, I turned inward and upward to God. Looking back, I realize that my faith is still so weak and I stubbornly cling to old habits. God has to use absurd situations like this to rivet my attention.


Praise God for His faithfulness to me even when I so often turn my back to Him.


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

“But It’s Not Real!” (2 John 1:7)

I love jellyfish.


Whenever I visit an aquarium, I always make a beeline to the jellyfish exhibit. I can spend hours watching the different jellyfish, fluoresce, riding the currents of the water. It has a great calming effect upon me. Not surprisingly, I have wanted to raise jellyfish in my home or office. But I know that this is an extremely difficult task. Until now.


In my office, there sits an aquarium that contains seven jellyfish, circulating the water via two pumps. There is a changing array of lights which dance off the tentacles and body. During every break, I glance at the tank and delight in their dance. My staff and guests to my office are equally mesmerized. It is soothing and entertaining. But it’s not real!


I found this aquarium through an online site. It is really a child’s toy but many of the online comments came from adults who were absolutely taken with the realism of the toy. From a distance, it is virtually impossible to discern that this is not real. The manufacturers did an outstanding job of imitating the real thing at a fraction of the cost.


In my Christian walk, I have encountered many situations that were close imitations, and I wanted to believe it as genuine. I read books written by well-known Christian evangelists, but the theology is not solid or grounded in God’s Word. I have attended churches that had wonderful worship teams and all the support programs for families. Yet the pastor’s preaching was not based upon God’s Word. I allowed myself to be caught up in the organization of the church but not focus upon what was most important, the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.


For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

2 John 1:7 (ESV)


My jellyfish tank is a close mimic, but I know it’s not real. I need to be even more discerning when I read or listen to anything that appears to be expounding Christian values and teachings. Satan is far more devious and subtle than I can imagine, and I need to hold every teaching to the light of God’s Word. Only through the illumination of the Holy Spirit will I be able to discern whether it is real.


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

“They Deserved It!” (Obadiah 1:15)

Whenever I read of a heinous crime or hear about it on the television or radio, I have a satisfying feeling if I learn that if the perpetrator has been caught and convicted. Justice has been served! And I think to myself, “They deserved it!”


Indeed, we reap what we sow. These incidents should be enough to deter anyone from deliberately breaking the law or violating another person. Yet, since Adam and Eve, we have rebelled against God and God, could, at any moment, exact His judgment against all mankind. One chilling example is found in the book of Obadiah.


For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you;

your deeds shall return on your own head.

Obadiah 1:15 (ESV)


The prophet Obadiah pronounced God’s judgement against the Edomites, the sworn enemies of the Israelites. As the Babylonians swept into Judah, destroying Jerusalem and taking the citizens captive, the Edomites assisted the conquerors by helping to capture any fleeing Israelites. The Edomites were full of pride, thinking their mountain fortresses of Petra protected them. But the Edomites did fall, as God commanded.


God is in control of all events. Like the Edomites, I deserve punishment for my sins against God and others. But thanks be to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have confessed my sins and repented and have been sanctified by work of the Holy Spirit.


They deserved it? No, I deserve it. Only by the grace and mercy of God am I saved from the punishment I justly deserve.


Praise God!


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

“It’s Time for You To Play a Musical Instrument!” (Jeremiah 29:11 )

When I was eleven years old, I fondly remember a discussion with my parents that forever changed my life.

“Son,“ my father began. “We think it’s time for you to play a musical instrument.”


Oh boy, I dismissively thought! It’s going to be the piano and I hate the piano!


“…And your mother and I have decided it should be the guitar.”


Whoa! A smile came to my face as the words sank in.


“Wow!” I stammered. “I would have thought you wanted me to play the piano.”


My parents smiled. “We did. But we thought that we would rather have you play an instrument that you can carry with you. We thought the guitar would be great to bring to a friend’s house and to parties.”


I was elated! Playing a guitar was cool! From the moment I first touched the guitar, I fell in love with it. It is a love that continues to this day. I have played the recorder and ukulele in elementary school and the violin in middle and high school orchestras, but no other musical instrument ever captured my heart like the guitar.


My parents had a keen understanding of my abilities and interests. Although I had never voiced a desire to play guitar or any musical instrument, they picked the right fit for me.


God is much like this. He may present a situation that does not fit with my preconceived notion of what I can accomplish. But He gives me what I need, not necessarily what I want or desire.


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)


My parents knew what was good for me. God knows me better than my parents and even more than I know myself. I should accept all challenges and opportunities He places in my path because He has my best interests in His heart to give me a future and a hope.


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