“I Wish I Could Have Been More Uplifting.” (Proverbs 26:11)

A few years ago, a high school friend from Hawaii visited our family at our home in Southern California. He brought his wife and two teen-aged children. I had not seen them for at least 10 years so I was quite happy for the reunion. As we exchanged the usual pleasantries, our conversation drifted to high school reminiscences of mutual friends. One particular person was a sore spot for me. He never missed an opportunity to put me down. I still carried bitter memories and within a few minutes, I was a teen ager reliving the same worn out episodes. My friend politely laughed but his wife excused herself and slinking off to the sofa. I should have picked up on the body language but I was determined to state my case and prove that I was right and our friend was wrong. The evening ended on a mixed note and my expectation that I would see them again, any time soon, evaporated.


The next morning, I emailed my friend. I was chagrined and wrote, “Sorry that the conversation degenerated into a rant. I wish I could have been more uplifting to you and your wife.”


He was polite and wrote, “Don’t worry about it. My wife understands.”


Perhaps, but I was chastened. I reverted back to my childhood, harping on distant memories and relationships that no longer mattered. I could not let it go.


Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.

Proverbs 26:11 (ESV)


I am a fool. Given an opportunity to move beyond my past, I reverted to my old habits and let pride and resentment take over. The event reminded me how desperately I need Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I continually see the struggle between my old nature and the new nature I received when the Holy Spirit entered into me. The process of sanctification continues and in spite of unpleasant reminders of my old nature, I am confident that God is transforming me into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. But it will take a lifetime.


Thanks be to God that He is always uplifting me even when I do not honor Him.


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

“If You Only Knew Greek!” (2 Timothy 3:16)

One of my roommates in college was from Greece. We met when I was a young Christian and he frequently saw me reading the Bible in our dorm room. At times, I would attempt to witness to him but he was usually dismissive. One day after I was sharing a passage with him, he shook his head and said with disdain, “If you only knew Greek.”


I knew the New Testament was originally written in Greek and had been translated into english and nearly every known language. But he spoke in such a denigrating tone, I pushed for clarification. “What do you mean?”


“If you only knew Greek!” He repeated. “The Bible is very different if you read it in the original language!”


“And what? It’s not God’s Word?” I was even more confused.


“You would be surprised by what is written. You would understand if you only knew Greek!”


Once again! I persisted in asking him what he meant. Could he give me some examples? Did he mean that he didn’t believe the Bible? All my inquiries were met with a sardonic smirk, that answered my queries.


All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)


I have never formally studied Greek but use a Greek concordance and dictionary when I study the New Testament. I have also read many commentaries written by learned scholars who are experts in Greek. There are some theological points that are open to interpretation depending upon how the Greek is translated. But the core principles of the Christian faith are unwavering. Jesus Christ is God! Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior!


My study of Greek has deepened my love for God and His Word. The Bible is God’s Word. No matter what language the Bible is translated, the Truth will be declared by the Holy Spirit who will illumine the words and make them come alive with relevance and direction for my life.


If I only knew Greek!


Whether Greek, English, or any other language, the Word of God is the same.


Thanks be to God that I know Him!


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

“Money Makes People Do Funny Things!” (1 Timothy 6:10)

My dad shared many aphorisms and witticisms with me as I was growing up. One that he repeated quite often had its application in many different settings. We observed it with shady business dealings with formerly close business partners cheating one another to gain control of the business. We observed it between family members fighting over an inheritance that each felt rightfully belonged to them. After each episode, my dad would shake his head and state, “Money makes people do funny things.”


The longer I live, the more I see the veracity of his words. Perhaps it is not that money makes people do funny or strange things but rather, it reveals their true character. I, too, have fallen victim to this mindset. It does not take the form of heated arguments over inheritances or swindling a business partner or customer. No, my sins are more insidious. I may justify a purchase of something I don’t really need, but I easily convince myself and others of the necessity. I convince myself to purchase something deeming it  necessary for my Christian ministry when in reality, it is benefitting my personal comfort and feeding my ego far more.


For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV)


The love of money is at the heart of so many sins. The only solution to this wandering from the faith is to return to Jesus Christ. It is only by confessing and repenting of my sins and accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior that the vicious and desperate cycle of chasing after money will be broken in my life. I still fail, but with the Holy Spirit empowering me, the victory becomes easier to reach each time I am faced with temptation.


How I desperately need Jesus Christ to keep my love burning only for Him.


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

“It’s the Kids!” (Revelation 2:4)

During my third year of medical school, I had my clinical rotations in pediatrics. For two months, I was exposed to numerous cold and flu viruses afflicting dozens of sick children. And like generations of medical students before and after me, I got sick, several times.


One blessing from this experience was the buildup of my immune system. For many years, I was far less susceptible to catching colds or contracting the flu because my immune system had been rigorously strengthened by constant exposure.


However, that all changed when I met my wife. She is a pediatric dentist and is exposed to countless sick kids coughing and breathing on her. Although she rarely gets sick, she is carrying many of these viruses and bacteria and they inevitably find their way to me. During the first few months of our relationship, I felt like my pediatrics rotation all over again. I was repeatedly sick as I was exposed to a new round of pediatric germs. With resignation and reluctance I proclaimed, “It’s the kids!”


Sometimes, tracing the source of illness is easy. In other occasions, experts like public health epidemiologists, are needed to trace the source of the infection. In every case, it requires a careful and honest retracing of steps to identify the sources.


In my spiritual walk with God, a similar degree of honesty and sleuthing is sometimes needed for me to identify to source of my sins. My life has wildly swung from periods of intense activity and devotion to God to coldness and indifference. The reasons are many but at the heart of many of these periods was the choice I made to substitute other activities, people, or possessions for the love of Jesus Christ.


Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

Revelation 2:4 (NKJV)


Like the Ephesian church that Jesus addressed in this passage from Revelation, I left my first love-the love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I left His love, He did not leave me. Thanks be to God that He is always faithful to me and welcomes me back with His endless and perfect love, even when I am so selfish to take it for granted and even reject it.


Like tracing the source of my illnesses during medical school and dating my wife, tracing the source of my backsliding ways is not difficult when I am honest with myself.


I need a Savior. I need Jesus Christ. He is my first love.




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

“Do As I Say…!” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23)

“Can overweight doctors really help patients lose weight?”


A recent study examined this question. It probably comes as no surprise that doctors who are overweight do not inspire confidence in their patients when told they must lose weight. Many patients thought their doctors hypocrites for instructing them to lose weight when they could not do the same. It was a rehash of the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do.”


But the results of this study are not as straightforward as it seems. The study also found that some overweight doctors may actually may have more success in prescribing diet medications to their overweight patients because these patients may perceive that heavier doctors may be more empathetic to their own plight.


There appears to be a fine line between patients accepting advice from a physician who does not appear to follow their own admonitions versus accepting advice from a physician whom they feel can empathize with them.


In my spiritual life, I have experienced a similar response from those to whom I have witnessed. Some look at me and question how I could empathize with their life situation? “Have you ever been homeless? Have you ever gone for days without eating?” With these people, I do not have any credibility nor do they feel I have the right to share the gospel or assist them. With others, they see my background and occupation and arrive at a completely opposite conclusion. “Wow, you are a physician and you are taking the time to help me out. I appreciate that.”


For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.

1 Corinthians 9:19 (ESV)


To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (ESV)


I understand and respect the opinions of both groups. The Apostle Paul succinctly outlined his goals when he shared the gospel. He tried to identify with all groups he encountered. Was he always successful? No. But he allowed the Holy Spirit to lead and guide him so that he could share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was more concerned about witnessing God’s grace and goodness than worrying about what others thought of him. I would do well to emulate this great saint of the Bible.


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


A Reality Party (Psalms 51:4)

“Yeah, it’s really easy to get the alcohol. If you know the person at the store, they will let you buy it. And everyone has a friend who is over 21.”


The young teenaged girl cooly described how she and and her peers were able to obtain alcohol for their parties. My wife and I were attending a reality party. Held in a private home, a group of teenagers from the local high school acted out a variety of scenarios that involved underage drinking, drug use, and sex. As the groups of parents migrated from the different rooms, we witnessed drinking games, fights, medical emergencies, even discussions of rape.

I am thankful for the high school administration and concerned parents who orchestrated this reality party for our community. It is a wakeup call to every parent that underage drinking is a pervasive and deadly problem and unless parents and families work together and confront this tragedy, it will continue.


It was disturbing and alarming because it is real and happening in every community, ruining lives, sometimes for a lifetime. It was ugly.


Sin is always ugly.


We may try to sugarcoat it and cloak it under different names and banners, but it is still detestable and repulsive. We may think it is someone else’s problem or child. We may think that this would never happen in our community or home. But it is a problem for everyone and every family. When confronted with these facts, we can chose to look away or do something about it. But it IS our problem.


Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Psalms 51:4 (ESV)


Like the reality party, the Bible confronts us with our own sins. We may sugarcoat our sins and shift the blame to our parents or an abusive boss. We may blame our schools or the media. We may even blame our genetic makeup. But unless we take responsibility and acknowledge that sin is our reality, it will continue to ruin our lives and those whom we love. We need to deal with sin immediately and decisively. It is not someone else’s problem. It is ours. And we need to answer to God, who created us, and confess and repent of our sins and seek His forgiveness and direction.


This is the reality party for our life.


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

“I Can’t Wear A Hat!” (Matthew 10:30)

My voice teacher shared an amusing anecdote. Several years ago, he was invited to sing in an opera. It was a period piece and the performance required him to wear a hat with a brim. After a few minutes of singing, the musical director yelled out, “What are you doing?”


Confused, he replied, “What do you mean?”


“Your voice is completely off!”


My teacher quickly surmised that the hat was altering the way his voice sounded to his own ears. When he sang, his voice bounced off the brim of the hat in a way that subtly altered his perception of his own voice. Without knowing, he was changing the way he sang simply because he wore a hat! He confided in me, “I can’t wear a hat when I sing!”


His story reminded me of how just slight changes in our daily routine can completely throw an entire day out of balance. Recently I was ill with the flu. To fight off the nausea and vomiting, I slept for over 12 hours. The rest did me well but it completely threw off my usual routine. The evening before, I set my alarm to an incorrect wake up time. That morning, I went downstairs to make my coffee but soon realized that I had not put my contact lenses on, usually my first action when I awaken. When I got to my office, I forgot my electronic passcode to the door, one that I used for the past 2 years, and had to look it up on my smart phone. For the rest of the day, the glitches continued-all because my usual routine was interrupted.


But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Matthew 10:30 (NKJV)


Thank goodness that God is not susceptible to any distractions that could take His attention away from me! He is always thinking about me, praying and interceding on my behalf. The depth of His knowledge of me is so deep, so profound, that He even knows the very number of hairs on my head. And this is just me. What about the details of every living creature who lives or has ever lived or will live?


Little changes in our routines can have a significant impact upon our daily activities. Thanks be to God that He is unchanging and immovable in His attention to me and the details and direction He has for my life!


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

“Ah, The Good ‘Ol Days!” (Romans 10:2-3)

When I began my medical residency in 1988, a famous lung research institute was located next to the university hospital. This lung institute was renowned for its pioneering work in the field of lung disease. But apparently, the focus of their research may have been different several decades ago. In the office where the residents worked, a faded black and white framed photo hung on the wall. This photo, taken in the early 1950’s, showed several white coated physician researchers, enjoying a cigarette break. In the background, clearly visible, was the name and facade of the famous lung institute. One my chief residents remarked on the photo, “Ah, the good ‘ol days!”




Medicine has quickly evolved, even within the past few years. Ideas or habits that were once accepted are now shunned and recognized as harmful. We can laugh and shake our heads at examples like the photograph of the cigarette smoking physicians but deep down we may wonder about whether any of the activities which we currently engage in may actually be harmful.


When I first became a Christian, I was on fire and determined to share the Gospel with anyone who would listen. While this was admirable, it was also offensive to many people, including my father. I was eager to share my new faith with him but I would not stop there. My father was a dentist and I placed a number of small pamphlets explaining the Gospel in a few pages. The booklets had titles like, “Who is Jesus?” and “Can I Trust the Bible?” But I also placed some additional booklets entitled, “Are Mormons Christians?” When my father discovered these booklets, he was rightfully upset and demanded to know if I placed them there. When I admitted I did, he chastised me and said, “You know, I have a lot of Mormon patients and they would be highly offended if they read this. You should have first asked my permission before placing those pamphlets there.”


He was absolutely right. In my enthusiasm to share the Gospel, I was not sharing love or compassion. I was more concerned about sharing and not addressing the true spiritual needs of those whom I met.


For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

Romans 10:2-3 (ESV)


I still share the Gospel with whomever I interact. However, the Holy Spirit has allowed me to emper my sharing with love and compassion. I seek to know the person with whom I share the Gospel rather than launching into a sermon on how to be saved. I now realize that my zeal was without knowledge and, like the Jews whom the Apostle Paul was describing in the passage above, I was seeking to establish my own righteousness instead of God’s.


We are commanded by Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations. Like the good ol’ days of my youth, I still have that fervor to share the gospel, but I must continually yield to God’s direction and guidance to provide me zeal with knowledge.


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

It Takes Time (Jonah 4:3-4)

“Mom! Dad’s being impatient with me again!”


“Honey, why don’t you be nice to me?”

“Dad, be gentle with me!”


The familiar cries of my family, all documenting my crude and impulsive behaviors. I fail so often, sometimes I wonder if I am really saved? How could Jesus Christ be working in my life when I exhibit such pettiness, even toward my own family?


The prophet Jonah had to be swallowed by a great fish, spending 3 days in its belly, before he finally repented of his pride and arrogance and sought God’s forgiveness and obeyed His commands. I would have thought that after such a horrific experience, Jonah would never again let those selfish thoughts enter his mind. Yet just a short time later, Jonah is bitter that God showed mercy upon the thousands of people in Nineveh and spared the city.


Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.

And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

Jonah 4:3-4 (ESV)


It is easy for me to shake a finger at Jonah and question why he would be so petty. But I need to look in the mirror. God has showered me with His mercy, countless times. After each time, the “glow” of His love remains with me for a few days, and then, I lapse into my usual selfish and prideful behavior. I am impatient with my family, inconsiderate of other’s needs, and looking to satisfy my desires first.


I am saved by grace through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The sanctification, the setting aside of my life for God’s purposes, began the moment I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and will continue until I am in His presence in Heaven. I lament that the process is not complete or progressing at a quicker pace. But I am, once again, exhibiting my selfish desires to act like God and take matters into my own hands. I want to be completely sanctified, now, but it is my sinful nature that keeps putting up roadblocks.


It takes time.


God continues to work in my life demonstrating to myself and others, that sanctification is a lifelong process. Sometimes the transformations are dramatic but most of the time, the Holy Spirit is working within me, slowly and inexorably transforming me into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. I fail, many times, and disappoint and exasperate my family. But I pray that God will also grant to my family and other believers who interact with me, the same grace that He extends to me.


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

“Slow Down Now!” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

My daughter learned to drive and just passed her drivers license road examination last month. In addition to driving instructors, my wife graciously and bravely assumed the responsibility of being her primary teacher. During some of these lessons, I sat in the back seat of the car, attempting to hold my lip. As a parent and experienced driver, it was difficult for me to remain silent. I saw danger lurking at every turn and I hoped and prayed that she and my wife also saw it. On more than one occasion, I blurted out, “Slow down now!” much to the irritation and annoyance of my wife and daughter. At that point, my wife would interject, “Do you want to sit here and teach her?”




Chastened, I slumped back into silence. I reflected upon my daughter’s experiences. The driving lessons were a vivid reminder of my need to be ever vigilant in my spiritual drive through life. There are many dangers-emotional potholes, worldly temptations that clog my spiritual engine, and material distractions that curbside me. Too often, I find myself in unfamiliar surroundings, in need of a teacher or guide to alert me to the dangers that are lurking, and provide directions to successfully navigate these roadblocks.


Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV)


Like my daughter who relied upon my wife and her driving instructors to guide her through her first tentative steps in driving, I need a guide in my spiritual walk. Thanks be to God that He has given me His Holy Spirit. He convicts me, through my conscience, when I need to speed up or slow down. He helps me navigate the road of life.


And just as important, He reminds me when I need to keep silent!


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