Hardened Heart (Ezekiel 36:26)

During an early years in my Christian walk, I would occasionally listen to Christian talk radio. I didn’t like it. The shows were provocative and informative but it did not resonate with me. I pondered over the possible reasons. Perhaps the shows were not intellectual enough for me? Perhaps the hosts were too dull and pedantic? I could not find an answer but decided that Christian radio needed to catch up with me! Years later, I understood the reason. It wasn’t the programming; it wasn’t the hosts; it was me. Yes, I was a Christian, but I was living a carnal backsliding lifestyle, preoccupied with professional successes, finding a wife, and catering to my material desires. With all these worldly ambitions, there was no room in my heart for God. The more I heard God’s Word, the more it pushed me away from Him.

God did not rob me of my free will nor did He make my heart resistant to hearing and accepting His Word. I hardened my heart. My heart was hardened by the truth of God’s Word. The more it revealed my sins, the more resistant I became to hearing and reading it. I didn’t want or need to be reminded of my despicable state. There was nothing wrong with me! Didn’t God understand that? He did. It was only by the grace and mercy of God that He changed my heart and led me to repent in tears and sorrow for my backsliding lifestyle.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV)

Today, I am an avid listener of Christian talk radio. I often marvel how my heart is receptive to the same preachers and programs that I once dismissed. It only happened when God changed my heart of stone and gave me a living heart, one that beats for Him and with Him!

Don’t harden your heart to God. Confess and repent of your sins and ask Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior. The moment you do, your hardened heart will be softened by His irresistible love.

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

God Is Always Blessing! (Isaiah 55:8 )

I recently hired a new employee. On the first day of work, he received an emergency call from his family. His mother was in the emergency room. She was the primary caregiver for his young daughter with special needs so both of them needed his attention. He politely asked if he could leave at lunchtime to attend this crisis. The next day, he called and informed me that while his mother was stable, she would be unable to continue her duties as his daughter’s caregiver. His wife had a full-time job and his siblings were unwilling to share in the care of his mother. With great sadness and frustration, he submitted his resignation to me, not even completing one day of work.

I was greatly disheartened by the rapid turn of events. I asked if there was any way he could work part-time. He said no. I then asked him if he knew anyone else who may be looking for a job. He mentioned a woman who was familiar to me since she used to work in my former company. A brief series of emails ensued and she was scheduled to come in for an interview the next day.

After this, I prayed. I prayed for my employee’s family and the health of his mother and daughter. I prayed for his job situation. I prayed that God would take this entire situation and show His glory. I prayed for greater faith to allow me to follow God’s leading and not try to impose my control and will.

The next day, I interviewed the other woman. She was definitely qualified and interested in the job but was only interested in part-time work due to family issues. I reluctantly acknowledged her request even though I knew I needed a full-time employee. After she left, my first employee called and informed me that his mother-in-law was able to watch his daughter. However, she could only do this after she finished her job at 10AM. Thus, if I was still interested, he could work for me, but only on a part-time basis. I was floored!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

Isaiah 55:8 (ESV)

How does God work in our lives? How does God answer prayers? In this one small example in my life, God took a serious health situation and used it to bring two employees to my company. I needed one full time employee and, instead, received two part-time employees. The situation now gives me the flexibility to advance both of their positions to full-time depending upon my company’s needs. What initially seemed to be a setback was simply a step in God’s perfect plan.  I could never have conceived such a complex and amazing story. But God can!

Praise God that He is always blessing me, even when I doubt His sovereignty!


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

“Can I Get That App? (John 16:13)

My wife and I recently brought our smartphones in to be serviced at the local repair shop. We met with a very knowledgeable young woman who spent a few minutes listening to us describe the problems. She then confidently declared that she would hook up our phones to a smart pad that would allow her to diagnose the problem. Within a few minutes, we had isolated the problem and ruled out a variety of other problems which may have caused the issue.

I was impressed with the elegance and efficiency of that app and asked her, “That is very cool! Can I get that app?”

She laughed. “No, it is only for employees of the company! My family and friends are always asking me to use this app whenever something happens to their smartphones or smart pads.”

I can imagine! Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app that could troubleshoot my spiritual walk with Jesus Christ? I could plug it in and it could diagnose the areas of weaknesses and problems. Too much pride; too little compassion; not enough time spent in prayer; reading the Bible superficially. I would love to have that app!

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

John 16:3 (NKJV)

Fortunately I don’t need that app! As a believer in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell within me the moment I placed my faith in Him. The Holy Spirit searches my soul and convicts me of my sins. He directs and guides me in my walk with God. He encourages and comforts me when life is bearing down upon me.

Can I get that app?

I don’t need it!  I have the Holy Spirit through my faith in Jesus Christ!

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

So Old, It’s New! (Isaiah 40:8)

One of the pleasurable tasks I have as a leader of one of the worship groups in our church is to select the songs for the service. The selection process begins with the title of the sermon and  the Bible verses our Pastor will use to preach. After praying over the passage, I select songs that I feel are appropriate to set the correct mood and facilitate worship. Recently, our worship teams have been given the directive to introduce new songs to our repertoire. Many of the suggested songs are currently popular on the contemporary Christian music scene and I am happy to oblige. I have also introduced several songs that are much older. These were songs written in the 1980’s and 90’s, popular when I first became a Christian in 1982. I led many small worship groups with these songs and I have fond memories of them. To my surprise, when I introduced many of these songs to my worship team and the congregation, they were unfamiliar with most of them. The songs were so old, they were new!

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:8 (ESV)

The older songs resonated with all ages within the congregation.  Music styles and genres come and go. The songs were old but the message was still fresh. God’s Word is eternal and His message is relentless. It never fails to change hearts and never returns void!


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

“It’s Not Fair!” (Matthew 5:45)

“It’s not fair!”

Everyday, people of all ages and cultures, proclaim these words. We think the world should follow rules of justice, organized by cause and effect. If evil is done, it should be punished. If good deeds are performed, it should be rewarded. But how often do we see just the opposite occur? Criminals escape prosecution. Kind actions are ignored and backfire. God cannot possibly be in control of this world! It’s not fair!

…for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:45 (NKJV)

This same plaintive cry has been uttered for thousands of years. Jesus spoke these words to His disciples on the Sermon on the Mount. He wanted to make it clear that our lives should not be based upon looking for evidence of cause and effect. We need to acknowledge that God is in control of His entire creation. If we do not see an immediate cause and effect, it does not mean that God is not there. We should be thankful for God’s mercy and grace and realize that all hell and chaos would literally break loose if God were not in control. God is operating on His time schedule to accomplish His purpose and none other. God cares for everyone, the good and evil, the just and unjust. If He seems as though He tarries, He is giving all unbelievers and seekers time and an opportunity to repent of our sins, and come to His Son, Jesus Christ, and acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. Not fair? This is fairness in its most supreme and eternal manifestation!

It’s not fair!

Don’t look to the world for cause and effect. Look to God to pause and reflect!

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

Canceled Subscriptions (Revelation 2:4)

This morning, I was renewing a medical journal subscription. After I confirmed the renewal, I entered the transaction information into a spreadsheet. As I was about to close the spreadsheet, I noticed the last several rows were devoted to discontinued journal subscriptions. My, my! What a wide variety of interests I have circled through over the last decade! About a third of the journals and magazines were medical. The rest were distributed over topics such as business, music, audio and home theater, and food.

During one period in my life, I spent far more time reading secular literature than I did reading the Bible. I justified my actions to myself and God by affirming that I was doing was important for my occupation, and roles as a husband and father. I needed to know the latest medical literature for my patients. I needed to know the latest financial and economic trends to make wise investments for our family. I needed to take care of myself and relax and entertain my mind with food and music.

After several years, I was chastened by the Holy Spirit as He convicted me of my warped sense of priorities. I had read the Bible many times over during this period of time, but it was just that, reading. I knew the stories, I knew the characters, but I could not quote verses. When crises arose, the Word of God was not upon the tip of my tongue. When I was faced with a difficult decision, I could not bring to mind a Bible verse that would help me in my decision process. Frustrated and embarrassed, I was determined to change this pattern. I set the daily goal of spending at least as much time reading the Bible as I did my medical and secular articles, journal, and magazines. I didn’t always accomplish this but I was persistent. And the more I persisted, the easier the goal was reached. Today, I crave and jealously guard my time with the Bible.

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

Revelation 2:4 (ESV)

Being well-rounded and well-read is definitely important, but not at the expense of time with God. I needed to return to my first love. I needed to be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. I needed to reaffirm my love to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy to me, for changing my heart and bringing me to confession and repentance of my sinful neglect of His Word.

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

“We Thank Thee” (Isaiah 26:3)

My mother was a special education teacher and was comfortable speaking before large groups in her classrooms. But I witnessed a completely different side of her when she prayed. When she hosted a family dinner in her home, she would gather everyone together to say grace before we ate. In a very formal and measured voice, she would begin. “Almighty God. We thank thee for this food we are about to receive. Thou has taken care of this family. Thank you for thy bountiful blessings. Amen!”

I loved her prayers. They were brief, honest, and heartfelt. But what always stood out was her use of old english, particularly pronouns such as thee, thou, and thy. There was an effusive formality and deep respect for the God whom she loved. I witnessed it in her life and it was manifest in the way she addressed God.

Of course, no one speaks with this old english in everyday speech. But when it is used, it certainly commands attention. It evokes memories of the King James Bible and Shakespeare. There is a grandeur and rhythmic quality that is sometimes lost with modern english translations.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)

This verse from the Prophet Isaiah encapsulates my mother’s life. My mother loved God. I thank my mother for her deep enduring faith in God. Her noble use of language honored the God we love and serve.

Thank you Mom! I thank thee!

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

“The Security Are Disguised!” (Proverbs 15:3)

I recently took my cell phone into service. The young woman who helped was extremely knowledgeable and friendly and within an hour, we had resolved most of our problems. The conversation and interaction was lighthearted and at the end, she thanked us for coming in and making the experience a pleasurable one. I was amused by her comment and asked her, “Do you ever get customers who get very angry and violent?”

Her eyes widened, “Oh yes. We have security remove them.”

“Really?” I shot her a puzzled look. “I didn’t see any in the store.”

She lowered her voice and smiled, “The security are disguised!”

“Wow!” I exclaimed. “Just like federal air marshals on an airline flight!”

“Yup,” she said, searching the floor space. “I see two of them right now!”

Interesting! I left the store with renewed confidence that I was protected and secure, even if I did not know the location and identity of my protectors.

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Proverbs 15:3 (ESV)

This incognito security force reminded me of God’s providence and protection in my life. There have been many times when I felt abandoned or endangered and God has responded by bringing a Christian brother or sister with an uplifting word or kind act. It happened on a random taxi cab ride in Denver, Colorado. I was interviewing for my pathology residency and arrived the weekend before my Monday interview. I did not know anyone and was feeling lonely. As I was being driven by a taxi driver, we engaged in a friendly conversation and discovered we were both Christian believers. He introduced me to his Christian brothers and sisters who took me to church the next day and invited me to a lunch.

God is always present. Protecting, comforting, and guiding. I may not see His presence, but He is always there, working through the Body of Jesus Christ.


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

“That’s The Worst Southern Accent I Have Ever Heard!” (Acts 21:37-40)

We recently had a get together with the parents of our son’s school classmate. Both are attorneys and met in their first year at Duke University Law school. The husband grew up in New Jersey and the wife grew up in Louisiana. At one of the first social mixers, the two were introduced. She still spoke with a heavy Louisiana southern drawl. As he listened to her, he exclaimed, “That’s the worst southern accent I have ever heard!”

She was shocked and nearly in tears, but he continued. “So many people who come to Duke are not from the south, but they adopt a southern accent to fit in. Yours is the worst I’ve heard!”

She laughed as she told us, “I thought he was a jerk!”

The couple confided that the story had been repeated countless times, eliciting much laughter and hilarity!

Sometimes we are unfairly or incorrectly judged by our appearance or actions and may be indiscriminately lumped with others when we are speaking or acting truthfully. The Apostle Paul found himself in a similar situation.

As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language…

Acts 21:37-40 (ESV)

Paul used the mistaken identification as an opportunity to preach the Gospel to the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem. No matter where he found himself, in chains, in a shipwreck, in a prison, Paul always preached the Gospel. And if someone confused him with another, it was just another opportunity to witness!

Mistaken identity. It may lead to tears, laughter, or it may lead to an opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Praise God!

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

My Journals, My Bible (Colossians 3:23)

One of my professional websites, The Doctors Doctor (www.thedoctorsdoctor.com), provides medical information to non-medical lay people. For about 10 years, this site was very popular, capturing the attention of such publications as The Wall Street Journal and search engines like  Google. I was invigorated by the success and spent every free moment reading medical journals and adding the information to my website. I was the Doctor’s Doctor! Needless to say, during this period in my life, I spent minimal to no time reading the Bible. I justified this behavior by reassuring myself that God had called me to be a physician and this was how I could best serve Him. My spiritual walk was a crawl and my relationship with God atrophied. Not only was reading the Bible pushed aside, but fellowship with a church and other Christians was a rare event. I certainly reaped what I sowed.

My journals became my Bible. My work became my church.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

Colossians 3:23 (ESV)

No matter how noble the task, nothing is more important than spending time with God. I convinced myself that I was doing everything for the greater good of mankind, but instead I was doing it for myself.

The website did help many people but who was helping me? It was only through the grace and mercy of God that He turned my heart and brought me to my knees in repentance for my sins. He showed me how selfish I was in spite of what I portrayed to the rest of the world.

I turned to the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. He is truly the Doctor’s Doctor!

Thank you Jesus!

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