“They Didn’t Teach This To You In Medical School?” (Revelation 22:18-19)

With the accessibility to the plethora of medical information on the internet, it seems that everyone has become an expert in some area of health care. Many times, lay people have approached me, knowing I am a doctor, and ask me to verify the information they have read or heard on the internet. I am happy to give my opinion knowing that, while the area of medicine may not be my area of expertise, I am probably more qualified to render an opinion on this topic. However, there have been a few individuals who are more belligerent in their questioning of me. One person was particularly agitated over my answer and blurted, “They didn’t teach this to you in medical school? You should read up on this!”


There is not much more I can do in a situation like this. I can agree to disagree and usually politely nod and leave the conversation. Unfortunately, this type of arrogance and self-assuredness carries over to spiritual discussions as well. Like medical information, the internet is replete with advice on how to live a spiritual life. Innumerable articles on prayer, fasting, worship, marriage, relationships, financial management, Bible reading and studies-all written by pundits with a myriad of educational backgrounds and experiences. And there are many well-meaning brothers and sisters who will tout this information as truth. If I was a pastor and unsure of the veracity of the articles, they would be questioning me, “They didn’t teach this to you in seminary?” For some, the Bible is not enough to answer all of the questions of life. They need to supplement the God’s Word with scholarly discussions from other sources.


For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19 (NKJV)


Like medical information on the internet, there are also excellent articles that can assist the believer to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ. But at the heart of any article or advice must be the Word of God and all discussions must exalt Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. On this point, I cannot agree to disagree. God’s Word is very pure and I love it. Nothing needs to be added or taken away from it.




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

“They Live, Breathe, and Eat Pathology!” (Hebrews 5:12)

During my pathology residency, one of my closest friends and colleagues had returned from a national pathology conference held in the mid-west. There was a visceral change in his attitude as he pulled me aside, anxious to update me with his experience.


“Paul!” he gushed. “You won’t believe these other residents! They live, breathe, and eat pathology!”


“What do you mean?” I stammered.


“All they talk about is the latest journal articles, their research papers, and their future fellowship plans.They are 1000% committed to pathology!  We have to be like them!”


I was disturbed by my friend’s revelation. I thought I was diligent about my training but my friend clearly had an epiphany. Within a few months, I experienced, first hand, this passion and commitment that other pathology residents lived when I also attended a national conference. I returned, dejected over my sense of inadequacy and tepid enthusiasm and was inspired to improve. It was a wake up call and fortunately, it happened early in my training so that I could change my habits and re-dedicate my efforts.


For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

Hebrews 5:12 (NKJV)


When I attended my first Christian conference, I experienced a similar sense of inadequacy. I had the privilege of meeting brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ from all over the country. Many were on fire for Jesus. They truly lived, breathed, and ate the Word of God! I wanted to do the same but I was still being weaned on milk when I should have been desiring sold food.


I thought my Christian walk was strong but I was deluding myself because I was not seeking active fellowship with mature Christians nor was I spending quality time in God’s Word and prayer. Like my pathology training, my attitude changed and with time, God led me to a Bible believing church with mature Christians who faithfully mentored me.


I desire solid food but not to compare myself to other believers, but rather, to seek a closer relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


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

Four Times A Week (Luke 24:27)

When I was a resident in pathology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, I attended a wonderful Baptist Church. The pastor loved the Word of God and taught it with a passion. I was so inspired to learn the Bible that I attended the church four times a week: Wednesday night Bible study, Sunday School before the main service, the Sunday morning service, and the Sunday evening service. And during the week, I would devour my Bible, often spending every free moment reading the Bible and memorizing verses. But I was not the only one. I was inspired by many faithful brothers and sisters in that church who shared the same passion for God’s Word as the pastor. Even casual conversations revolved around deep theological themes and the recitation of Bible passages that spoke to their hearts. My heart burned ever brighter for God’s Word with each encounter I had at that church.


And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Luke 24:27 (NKJV)


On the road to Emmaus, two followers of Jesus had the privilege to meet and be taught by the glorified and resurrected Jesus Christ. As Jesus taught them how all of the Scriptures pointed to Him, they exclaimed,


…Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?

Luke 24:32 (NKJV)


I craved the Word because Jesus was at the center of the teaching. I saw the result in the pastor, his associates, and in the members of the church family. I craved my times of learning about the Bible from my pastor in Colorado. But someday, in Heaven, Jesus Christ will be my teacher! How much more wonderful will that be?


Receiving a Bible study from God Incarnate! There is no better teacher!


May our hearts burn with desire to learn God’s Word!


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

A Tool For Only One Job (Esther 4:14)

The microscopes I use for my dermatopathology practice are highly precise diagnostic instruments. Recently, the halogen light bulb burned out and I had to replace it. It had been nearly 10 years since I last did this so the protocol was unfamiliar to me. Through stumbling steps, I found a manual on the internet that explained the procedure for my microscope model. But the first step was vaguely worded-remove the cover for the light source. The only problem was how? The cover was held on by an unseen screw. As I pondered the situation, I remembered the salesperson showing me something about this microscope when he initially set it up for me.


“Now, do you see this tool?” He held up a slender piece of metal, about eight inches long. “This is the most important tool you will ever need. This tool only exists to open the cover of the light source. See!” He deftly maneuvered the tool into the small hole and loosened the unseen screw. In seconds, the cover lifted off, revealing the halogen bulb. “I am going to tape it on the body of your microscope so you will never lose it!”


Indeed, that tool was still taped to the side of my microscope nearly 10 years later. But through the years, I had nearly forgotten the reason why that tool was there…until now! It was a tool for only one job! While it seemed like a waste of material and effort, it certainly solved the problem I had with my microscope.


…Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14 (ESV)


Queen Esther was reminded by her Uncle Mordecai that her actions over the new few hours may be the entire reason God enabled her to become Queen of Persia. Her entire existence may have been prepared for this one action, to save her fellow Jews from annihilation by the hands of the evil Haman.


God uses all believers to accomplish His purpose in this world. For some, serving may be on a grand scale as an evangelist or preacher, speaking and ministering to thousands of people at a time. For others, it may be for quieter purposes, at the bedside of a parent with cancer or comforting a child heartbroken by the loss of their parent. And perhaps for a very special individual, like Esther, their entire purpose is realized in an instant of time. Like the tool for my microscope, God may sometimes use a person, only once, for a very specialized task.


Praise God for His sovereign goodness!


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

Making Decisions Faster and Slower (Mark 1:35)

When I began my own laboratory, I was abruptly thrust into the world of business. I quickly learned that some decisions had to be made quickly. But I also learned that some decisions needed to be made at a slower pace. This become clear when I dealt with personnel issues within my office. My office is small, less than ten employees. Thus, all major human resource issues are funneled through me. When an issue arises, my first inclination is to react and do something. But recently, I have taken a different approach and pondered the issue, and, instead of issuing a company-wide email directive or calling a quick meeting, I did something that I had not been doing as often as I should-I took the time to pray. Not just a quick prayer. I prayed over this decision for an entire week. At the end of the week, God gave me wisdom to deal with the potentially thorny issue, to everyone’s satisfaction.


With many people, there is a fine line between taking the time to contemplate a situation and procrastination. For me, there is an even finer line between making a quick and decisive decision and impulsiveness. God gave me wisdom to approach some decisions by following His timing and making decisions at a slower than usual pace.


Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

Mark 1:35 (ESV)


In this passage from Mark, Jesus had spent an entire day and night healing the people of Galilee. Undoubtedly He was exhausted when He went to sleep, but the very next morning, He arose early and prayed to God. Even His time of prayer was interrupted by His disciples who clamored for Him to help other people. But Jesus did not respond with irritation, as I would have. He kept to His mission and informed His disciples.


But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”

Mark 1:38 (ESV)


Jesus Christ was never rushed or delayed. He was on the time schedule of God, the Father, always in perfect timing with His Father’s will. And as busy as He was, He always found time for prayer. Others attempted to place Him on their time schedules but He was always in control.


Faster or slower. Jesus shows me that all decisions are only meaningful when it is done on God’s timing and by His direction.


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

“I Taught The President To Scoop Ice Cream!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

A high school classmate revels in recounting an incident that happened when he was in high school. After school, he worked part-time at a well known ice cream chain. One day, a new hire named Barry arrived and my friend was instructed to teach him the basics. My friend demonstrated the fine art of scooping ice cream and completing orders to the new employee, who quickly caught on.  It was a summer job and he never saw him again, until, perhaps 30 years later, when Barry became president. Yes, this was Barry…Barack Obama! This happened in Honolulu where President Obama grew up and attended high school. My friend laughs when he tells the story. “I taught the president to scoop ice cream!”


The most powerful man on this planet once scooped ice cream and worked under my friend. I love to read or hear about the humble origins of celebrities or leaders. It makes them more real, almost as if that they are human too, just like me!


But could someone from even humbler origins ever become great? What about a poor shepherd? What about a rejected prostitute? What about someone born in a manger to poor young parents, growing up in a backward town, working as a carpenter, and receiving no formal education? Could he ever become famous or a great leader? Ask the prophet Amos, the prostitute Rahab, or our Lord, Jesus Christ.


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)


Jesus Christ is God. He held the power of the universe in the palm of His hand. But when He became a man and was born on this earth, He gave up everything. He put aside His glory, emptying Himself of His greatness, and became a servant of mankind. The greatness of Jesus is not found in His humble origins, it is found in His character, in His humility and willingness to be obedient and serve God, His Father.


Like a young future president scooping ice cream, do any of us have a chance for greatness? If we define greatness by worldly achievements, the likelihood is slim indeed. Thanks be to God that our true greatness is only defined by our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If I am willing to humble myself, give up everything that I cling to in this life, and follow Jesus as my Lord and Savior, He will begin the transformation of my life and I will live the life I was created to live, in loving fellowship with God. And this is the greatest life anyone could ever aspire…a life serving the God who created me! This is true greatness!




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

“A Lot Of People Are Suspicious Of Me!” (John 7:15)

When I was in medical school, I attended a wonderful Bible-believing church in Honolulu, Hawaii. The pastor was a charismatic man with a kind heart and gentle demeanor. Before he became a Christian, he was a nightclub singer. Because of his musical background, he and I shared a kindred spirit. I spent many hours in fellowship with him, being discipled by him. One afternoon, he shared a startling revelation.


“You know, brother,” he began, with a measured tone, “A lot of people are suspicious of me!”


I was shocked. “What are you talking about? Who would think that?” I demanded to know.


He smiled and calmed me down. “There are some in the Christian community, pastors, teachers, who view me with suspicion. I am divorced. I am a former nightclub singer. I didn’t attend seminary. Through the years, some have tried to bring me down or have questioned my credentials.”


“And what did you do?”


“God is my teacher. I am only accountable only to Him. Everything I do is based upon God’s Word.”


I understood. One of the reasons I chose to become a member of that church was the sincerity and humility of the Pastor. He taught the entire truth of the Bible and didn’t sugarcoat or gloss over sin. We all need to confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Although my pastor did not attend seminary, he was a gifted teacher and preacher and I am grateful for the years of teaching and fellowship I shared with him.


And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”

John 7:15 (NKJV)


Jesus Christ was viewed with suspicion and disdain by His fellow Jews. In addition to questioning His credentials as a rabbi, they made snide comments about His seemingly illegitimate birth, instead of recognizing and believing in the truth of His virgin birth through the Holy Spirit. They chose to ignore the miracles that He did by the power of God. They turned a deaf ear to His teaching of God’s Word. All they chose to see was an illegitimate child of a carpenter and his unfaithful wife, who taught as if He was formally trained, and allegedly performed miracles by the power of Satan.


They judged Him based upon their criteria of success and ignored the words He spoke and the lives that were changed.


Formal training is important, but it is just the beginning. Good character, humility, and honesty before God is what has eternal significance.


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

Reproducibility (Acts 2:21)

Reproducibility in science means that other researchers are able to duplicate the same results that another group has proposed. Research papers are required to document the methodology used to arrive at their results. In theory, if another research group followed this same methodology, it should lead to the same conclusion. However, there is increasing evidence that this is not always the case.


Several investigators have published critical accounts documenting that published methodologies are not precise and do not lead to reproducibility. Upon intensive scrutiny, it was discovered that minor variations in the type of laboratory test animals, slight changes in reagents, even alterations in the statistical analysis, may lead to lack of reproducibility. After analyzing several published research papers, one investigator stated, “People make these flippant comments that science is not reproducible. These first five papers show there are layers of complexity here that make it hard to say that.”


The scientific method prides itself upon its precision. Thus, many scientists are understandably chagrined by these charges of lack of reproducibility within their own research. As I reflected upon this issue, I wondered if there is any spiritual event that is absolutely reproducible?


And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 2:21 (ESV)


Anyone who confesses and repents of their sins and accepts Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior, are forever saved and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. This is absolutely reproducible. The pathway, the methodology that God uses to bring each believer to Him, may radically differ, but the outcome is always the same. Eternal salvation. And there is one more glorious note, once saved, someday, we will all be in the presence of Jesus Christ for eternity.


All praise to the Living God, Jesus Christ, who showers us with His grace and mercy! It is reproducible and the truth!


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

“I Send My Family To Him!” (Matthew 16:26)

The medical director of a large and successful dermatology group in San Francisco called me the other day. My name had been given as a reference for one of my former dermatology residents who was seeking a job with their practice. Although the phone call began amicably, there was a notable hesitation in her voice as she asked questioned the depth of the relationship I had with her new applicant. She was concerned that as a dermatopathologist, I did not have enough direct exposure to his clinical skills. I knew how to remedy the situation.


“Dr. Smith, “ I began. “I want to reassure you that I have observed his clinical skills and they are excellent. In fact, he even treated me when I slammed my ring finger in my car door. All of the other residents gathered around him as he demonstrated how to use a hyfrecator to relieve the pressure of the blood building up below my nail. He performed a digital nerve block and expertly drained the blood. He has a vast amount of experience because he worked with a hand surgeon before he entered his dermatology residency. I have complete confidence in his clinical skills and his rapport with patients is superb. In fact, I send my family to him!”


That did it! She laughed and exclaimed, “Well, that is a great reference! You and your family!” She was relieved and shared, “We interviewed several people for this position but he is the leading candidate. I am sure your recommendation will seal the deal!”


When I am willing to trust my life and the welfare of my own family members with this physician, it sent a clear message about the degree of trust I placed in him. It was more than enough to convince this physician recruiter to trust my judgment and recommendation.


For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matthew 16:26 (NKJV)


My relationship with Jesus Christ is no different. I can chose to place my confidence in my education, my diplomas, my awards, and my job. The world proclaims that these are all worthy endeavours and should be worthy objects of our desires. My patients and other physicians place their trust in my background and credentials to render a correct diagnosis. This is all very important. But the most important object of our trust should be the eternal destination of our souls.


I choose to place my trust in Jesus Christ. I acknowledge and appreciate the background I have to reach this point in my life. But what good is it if I gain the world but lose my soul? If my treasure is contained in worldly possessions and positions, my soul will also be submerged in these worldly pursuits.


I, and my family, place our trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We seek to allow God to use our lives to point others to Jesus Christ.

I pray that our example may encourage everyone to place their trust in Him.


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

Soul Candy (Proverbs 6:20-22)

I spent a relaxing weekend in the Okanagan valley in Northern British Columbia with my wife and some of her family.The sweeping views of Lake Okanagan, surrounded by snow capped mountains, were spectacular. On our first full day there, the sun broke through and illuminated a blissful setting. And as we left the following morning, a light dusting of snow gently blanketed the valley.


It was pure eye candy.


As my eyes savored the views, I wondered, is there a soul candy?


My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother.

Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck.

When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you;

And when you awake, they will speak with you.

Proverbs 6:20-22 (NKJV)


God’s Word is the soul candy. It nourishes, refreshes, and delights. It is sweet to taste, delicious and filling when I consume it, and always satisfying. It leads me, keeps, me, and speaks to me. And I will never, ever, become full. The more I receive, the more I desire. Just like the beauty of the Okanagan valley, God wants me to delight in His Word and in Him, devouring His soul candy. And as He feeds me, He shall give me the desires of my heart.


Soul Candy.


God’s Creation is eye candy. But God’s Word is my soul candy!


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