Explaining Sin (Acts 16:30-31)

How do I explain sin to my child?


Sin can be defined in so many terms-missing the mark, doing something bad, following our desires instead of God’s. A theological definition may be any transgression of the law of God or lawlessness. The Bible makes this very clear.


Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3:4 (ESV)


But do any of these ideas truly resonate with a young child? As I prepare my son for baptism, I want to make sure that he understands the concept of sin and that he, and everyone in this world, is a sinner and needs a Savior, Jesus Christ, to reconcile and restore the broken relationship between himself and God. This is the Gospel and the Truth. But the Holy Spirit may present the truth to a seeker through many different ways.


Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Acts 16:30-31 (ESV)


The Philippian jailer had a dramatic conversion because he saw the difference in the lives of Paul and Silas. Beaten and chained, they responded to their torture by praying and singing hymns to God. When an earthquake rattled the prison, opening the doors, the jailer was about to kill  himself since he assumed all of the prisoners had escaped. But they didn’t! Paul cried out to the jailer to not harm himself for all the prisoners were still there. Trembling, the jailer understood that he was a sinner and desperately needed Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. He did not recite the steps to salvation but it absolutely clear that He understood the message of the Gospel and because of this, he was saved and baptized.


My son has Down syndrome. My son loves God. He may not be able to articulate this love with scholarly quotations or deep theological insight, but he doesn’t need to do this. God looks at his heart and knows the sincerity of his belief. He knows God created him and this world. He knows Jesus Christ is His Lord and Savior. He knows the Bible is God’s Word. My son loves to pray to God, for himself and for others. He reads His Bible and memorizes verses. He is unabashedly elated to share with others what God has done for him. And when he has done something to disobey God, he knows it is wrong. He understands this is sin. He understands the Gospel.


I wish I had as pure and selfless understanding of God as my son.


For every believer, the path the Holy Spirit leads them to Jesus Christ is different, but the end result of salvation is the same. Praise God for His grace and mercy to all of us!


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


Square Peg, Round Hole (Matthew 16:18)

One of the skills of a good leader or manager is identifying and matching an employee with the correct job and skill sets. When an employee appears to be a square peg in a round hole, a manager should carefully evaluate the situation and not simply dismiss an employee because they were unable to perform their job. Sometimes this may be a premature dismissal if another job is a better match for their skill set. Identifying and recognizing the potential in all employees is challenging but if done correctly, with patience and proper coaching and mentoring, the results may  be impressive and well worth the effort.


In another company that I worked, I recalled one employee who was a social misfit and several co-workers complained that she was annoying, always seeking to insert herself into everyone’s business.  Her strength was her good work ethic and she always completed any task assigned to her.  The manager was torn between keeping this person and attempting to smooth the fractured relationships in the office, or fire her.  Instead, the manager recognized that she possessed above average computer skills and made her the lead contact for a special middleware software integration. Although this added to her existing responsibilities, she thrived in this new position, which allowed her to interact with everyone in the department, as she always desired. As her confidence grew, even her social skills improved! The results justified the vision and confidence her manager had in her.


And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18 (ESV)


Jesus Christ  is an excellent example of a leader and manager of others. When He chose his disciple Simon, He renamed Him Peter, after the Greek word petros, or rock. He recognized the potential in Peter to become one of the future leaders of the Church. But he was not ready, yet. He would fail, many times, even deny he ever knew Jesus. But when the time was right and the Holy Spirit came upon Peter and empowered him, he became one of the most important leaders of the early church. His first sermon on the day of Pentecost led to 3000 people being saved! And it was all because God did not give up on him.


A leader or manager needs to know when to trust their instincts and support an employee. But there is always the possibility that an employee will not flourish, decide to quit, or the manager gives up on them. Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ never quits on us!


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


“Use The Hand Sanitizer!” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

I am very paranoid about getting sick. My preventive medicine is to place large bottles of hand sanitizers, throughout the office. Most bacteria and viruses are easily transmitted between persons by touching and handling contaminated objects-door handles, light switches, tables and chairs, that have been touched by the infected person. Using these preventive measures, I have greatly reduced the risk of getting sick if a fellow co-worker is afflicted. “Use the hand sanitizer!” is the plaintive cry that goes out to anyone who is sick in the office.


And yet, I still get sick. There are always other portals for the germs to enter. The couriers who deliver our cases, the postal workers, the delivery person with packages…all of these are potential sources of germs. I attempt to control and eliminate the germs within my immediate surroundings, but I cannot control what enters from the outside.


Sin is like this. I seek to control my immediate environment, making a convent with my eyes, as Job declared (Job 31:1), and checking my thoughts and speech.  I can be careful about the internet sites I visit, the television programs I watch, and the literature I read. But sin still creeps in unexpectedly and insidiously into my life. It may be through a casual encounter with a rude cashier at a market, a furtive glance at a sexy billboard, or an internet banner ad flashing an exciting bargain, taking my attention from my work.


No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)


What hope is there for me? Like the cold germs, I cannot control all the possible avenues of exposure. I cannot avoid it. All I can do is turn to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He was tempted in all ways but never succumbed to sin. If I place my trust in Him, He is faithful to protect me. And if I do fail, His mercy and grace allow me to come before Him and confess my sins and receive forgiveness.


Using the hand sanitizer does not always protect me. Thanks be to God that He always does!


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

“We Don’t Have That Program Any Longer!” (Isaiah 64:6)

The other morning, I stopped into a neighborhood bagel bakery to purchase a dozen bagels. As I was purchasing the bagels, I handed the cashier my frequent buyer card which rewards 10 purchases of a dozen bagels with a free dozen, happy that I needed only one more purchase to receive the reward.  To my dismay, the cashier handed the card back to me and exclaimed, “We don’t have that program any longer!”


My protest to the cashier to honor this program was of no avail. I was so eager to keep buying bagels at this bakery in anticipation of the future reward, but ultimately, I was disappointed. All of my time, effort, and money was wiped away by this false promise of a reward.


Before Jesus Christ saved me, I viewed my life from a similar perspective. The more good works I did, the more “bagel points” I would be adding to my cosmic ledger of life. Eventually, I would do enough good works, and I would be rewarded with an even greater reward, to go to Heaven. But that is not what God says.


We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Isaiah 64:6 (ESV)


Like the defunct bagel rewards program, God tells me that all of my good works and efforts are worthless. I can’t get to heaven by doing acts of kindness, following rules, or donating money. The only answer is coming before Jesus Christ and confessing and repenting of our sins and asking Him to be my Lord and Savior. And when I did this, my reward is an imperishable and eternal salvation. And unlike the bagel rewards, this program will always exist in my lifetime.


This promise is available to everyone. But you have to participate. Don’t waste the opportunity. Come to the Cross and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior by confessing and repenting of your sins.


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

Losing Your Fingerprints (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Since the 1800’s, fingerprints have been used for personal identification. In this digital age, the role of fingerprints have expanded with many of our smart phones and devices activated by our fingerprints, providing a unique and secure identifier. Thus, it was with some alarm when the medical community was notified that a relatively common chemotherapy agent, Capecitabine, may cause the temporary loss of fingerprints in patients receiving this treatment for their cancers. Fortunately the fingerprints returned within 2-4 weeks after ending treatment. Oncologists were cautioned to warn their patients receiving this treatment of this potential side effect.


I completely empathize with the consternation these patients experienced when this side effect occurred. Fingerprints have become a vital connection to many of our activities of daily living. Just this morning, I accessed three different devices with my thumbprint. Even purchases are now secured with a thumbprint. Losing my fingerprints would be like losing my identity!


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)


The Apostle Paul welcomed the opportunity to lose his identity, to gain a new identity…in Jesus Christ. In fact, he would later boast that all of his schooling, his titles, his prestige and social status were rubbish compared to being a new creation in Jesus Christ. It was not a temporary loss of identity, but a permanent change.


Are you ready to lose your identity? If the change is to become more like Jesus Christ, your answer will have eternal consequences. Take the steps at this moment to confess and repent of your sins and turn to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you do, you will be a new creation and new identity with Jesus Christ.


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

“I Emailed You, Why Didn’t You Answer?” (Romans 8:26-27)

When the internet and email arrived in the mid-1990’s, communication dramatically changed. No longer did one have to wait for days or weeks for a written letter to arrive to its recipient. The message wa immediately delivered. In spite of this remarkable advance in technology, it could sometimes become a problem.


Some email users did not understand that although emails are instantaneously delivered, it does not always require an immediate response. It allows the recipient the luxury to review the message at their convenience. But some senders were impatient.


In one hospital I worked, the secretaries and other physicians bemoaned their experience with their former chief of pathology. He would send an email and if the recipient did not answer within five minutes, he would stand at the door of their office and exclaim, “I emailed you. Why didn’t you answer?”


Of course, none of the staff were brave enough to ask him, “If the message was so urgent, why didn’t you simply speak directly to me?”


God speaks to me in a variety of ways. Most times, He speaks to me through His Word and through the fellowship of other believers. He is patient with me until His complete plan and purpose are revealed. But sometimes, God does require a quick answer. And it is during those times, His Holy Spirit immediately convicts me. This happened when I first accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I immediately experienced a change in my life. When I sin, the Holy Spirit immediately convicts me of my transgression. And when I am distracted in my prayers, God, again, immediately answers me.


Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)


God doesn’t email me but like an email, He sometimes gives me the luxury of time to respond. But if He desires a quick answer, I can be assured He will get my attention through His Holy Spirit!


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

“I Grew Up On A Farm” (Philippians 2:3)

I recently attended a seminar entitled, “LAMB-Learning About My Body.” The series, hosted by a local regional center, focused upon how parents and children with special needs can work together to discuss and explain the physical and emotional changes that children encounter as they become adults. In an introductory session, the parents and children were separated into two different rooms. The parents were handed a questionnaire and asked to give the reasons why we were attending the seminar and the challenges we face with our children. One question elicited a few uncomfortable responses and giggles from the parents, “How did you learn about your body, puberty, and sexuality?”


The vast majority of the parents answered with remembrances of parents, schools, and friends. But two of the parents gave nearly identical and intriguing answers.  “I grew up on a farm so I was exposed to all of this at a very early age. It was very natural to see and talk about it.”


I smiled and nodded in agreement. There are many topics that bring discomfort to the listener or are inappropriate to publicly discuss. Sex is definitely high on that list. But for the two adults who grew up on the farm, there was never any awkwardness; it was an integral part of their upbringing.


As a physician, I have been privileged to experience many things that most people can only imagine or may make many uncomfortable and squeamish. I have held living organs like a liver and heart in my hands. I have resuscitated a person from the brink of death. I have examined life at the microscopic and molecular level. Sometimes I take it for granted and unknowingly allow my recollection of these experiences to slip into my everyday conversations, eliciting a few surprised expressions from the listeners. But there is a greater purpose for my experiences.


Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3 (ESV)


God has used my background as a physician to allow me to enter into very private and intimate conversations which most people would find awkward and chose to avoid. He has allowed me to speak to the parents of an infant just diagnosed with Down syndrome. He has brought me to families with loved ones afflicted with a rare cancer to explain the disease. He has directed me to coordinate the care of families needing multiple physician specialists dispersed over several hospitals. God has taught me that my experiences are a vital link for these families.


Whether one grows up on a farm or is a physician, God gives us life experiences for a much greater purpose than our own development. I am grateful for what God has allowed me to experience so that I may better serve Him in His kingdom.




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

Gosh! (James 4:17)

I am very careful with the choice of words I use when I write or speak. Thus, it was with much chagrin that I recently learned that a word I liberally use in my speech is actually taking God’s name in vain.




Yes, Gosh!


My pastor pointed out to me that “gosh” is actually a euphemism for God. Sure enough, we did a quick internet search and found two sources verifying this truth.






Obviously what I did was in complete ignorance. But since I now know the origin of the word, for me to continue using it is to take God’s name in vain, and I will cease and desist. Am I preaching to anyone? No. Everyone must come to their own conclusion about their usage of “gosh” and other words.


So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

James 4:1 7 (ESV)


There are many situations in life when the choices are not obvious. What is acceptable for a person or group of people may be highly offensive to another. As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, I must hold my life to His perfect standards. When I am confronted with gray areas, with seemingly no right or wrong answer, I must allow the Holy Spirit to convict me and guide me. I am convinced that it is wrong to use this word; thus, for me to use it is a sin. When I choose to honor God, it means honoring Him with every aspect of my life.


I am not doing this because I am attempting to preach or impress others with my choices. I do this because I seek to honor God because I love and respect Him, grateful for what He has done in my life.


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


“How Do I Taunt Thee? (Psalms 118:6)

How do I taunt thee? Let me count the ways!


This 2016 presidential election is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Harsh accusations, charges of crimes, and the taunting! It never stops! As outrageous the claims from both candidates, it seems that elections have not changed very much over the previous centuries.  As I reflected upon the history of previous presidential elections, there have been vicious charges of adultery, children born out of wedlock, even murder.


Flip back several thousand years. The Bible records many harsh taunts. One memorable taunt was delivered by the Rabshakeh, the title of one of the officers of the Assyria, ruled by King Sennacherib. As the Rabshakeh stood outside the walled city of Jerusalem, demanding their surrender, he declared that neither God nor Egypt or any other country would be able to rescue them. He then issued this crude taunt.


But the Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and to drink their own urine?”

2 Kings 18:27 (ESV)




How do I taunt thee?


The Bible holds nothing back, exposing mankind at the darkest and foulest of depths. When taunts come our way, we need to cling to God’s Word and promises.


The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

Psalms 118:6 (ESV)


The presidential candidates need to learn one important truth. Taunts from man will never hurt you when God is on your side!


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


“They Have A Problem With That.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Louisiana has once again been devastated by flooding. Relief workers from many faith-based organizations have rushed to the scene to assist. Many private individuals have also contributed their time and resources to help in any way possible.


One such individual is a police officer, Captain Clay Higgins, who recently visited a Red Cross relief shelter. He was in uniform and brought his Bible and prayed for several of the victims. This caught the attention of some officials at the Red Cross who pulled him aside and informed him they had an issue with him being there. Pointing at his Bible, they bluntly declared, “They have a problem with that.”


He was then asked to leave. He later described the incident to a reporter stating, “I was told that the Red Cross does not allow spiritual counseling in their shelters. The supervisor told me the Red Cross is not a religious-based organization and they don’t allow religious interaction with the residents.”


All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)


We all have a problem with the Bible. As the great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, once stated, “He that reads his Bible to find fault with it will soon discover that the Bible finds fault with him.” God’s Word cuts through to our very soul and addresses our deepest and most profound needs. The Bible explains how our sins have damaged the relationship that God created us to have with Him. And this is the problem. No one wants to hear they are a sinner. The Good News is God knows we cannot repair this relationship by our own efforts. We need a Savior. We need Jesus Christ. And if we confess and repent of our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and allow us to enter into a loving relationship with Him.


Do you have a problem with that? Take the time to read God’s Word. The Bible is not the problem, our sins are.


Let’s continue to pray for the families and victims of the recent flooding in Louisiana. Pray that God will continue to work in the lives of both the victims and workers coming to their aid.


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