Immortal Jellyfish (Hebrews 5:12)

A recent article in a scientific journal touted an immortal jellyfish species. When the organism is stressed or old, it can revert to an earlier polyp stage of development, essentially beginning life over again. The organism was dubbed, the “Benjamin Button of the Deep”, alluding to the movie where the main character grew younger with the passage of time. Of course, many scientists have speculated whether there is a substance in these jellyfish that can be adopted to humans, to also enable us to reverse aging.


For centuries, humans have pursued the elusive fountain of youth. As countless numbers of estheticians and cosmetic surgeons can attest, it can be a lucrative business. Looking younger and retaining all of our knowledge and experience would be ideal. But growing younger and losing the wisdom gained in a lifetime would be a tragedy.


For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food…

Hebrews 5:12 (ESV)


The writer of Hebrews bemoaned the spiritual immaturity of the believers to whom he was addressing. Instead of growing in knowledge, they were regressing, growing younger in knowledge and more naive in spiritual discernment, needing to revisit and relearn the fundamental principles of God.


We only have one life to live on this earth. Once we die, there will be no further opportunities to gain spiritual maturity. In fact, our rewards in Heaven will largely be determined by how diligently we pursued the study of God’s Word and spiritual excellence.


If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your salvation and eternal destiny are assured. But the assurance of salvation does not excuse you from studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual maturity. As believers in Jesus Christ, we need to move forward seeking the solid food of God’s Word instead of being complacent, languishing in our laziness, and reverting to the milk of a baby.


Immortality is not just for some jellyfish species. Our souls are immortal. Will we chose to live in Heaven, showered with many rewards, because we diligently studied God’s Word in this lifetime? I pray this for all believers in Jesus Christ.


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


“It Would Be So Easy” (Matthew 13:55)

When I was in high school and college, my father, a dentist, asked me to work in his office during the holiday vacations. I would help in the front office, filing patient charts, mounting x-rays, and calling patients to remind them of their upcoming appointments. Ostensibly, the job was to give me a real-world experience of working and earning some pocket money, but I knew my father wanted to cultivate an interest within me to also become a dentist. Family and friends would inquire if I was going to follow in his footsteps and take over the practice. At times, my father would say, “It would be so easy for you, everything would be set up for you. You would just walk into a practice.” All things were pointing my future career in this direction.


During any downtime, I would quietly position myself in an operatory next to where my father was attending to a patient. I would observe what he did, listen to how he interacted with his patients. I tried to imagine myself in his position. I would look at his old dental school textbooks, attempting to kindle an interest. But it was of no avail, I was just not interested. I knew we had to discuss this issue.


“Dad,” I slowly began. “I appreciate you allowing me to work in your office. I have learned a lot. I have really tried to like dentistry but….it’s not for me.” I waited for the other shoe to drop.


My dad nodded as if he expected this disclosure. “Ok,” he said with resignation. “It would be so easy…everything set up for you.”


“I know Dad.” His oft repeated line gnashed at my conscience.


When I shared with him that I wanted to seek a career in medicine, it mollified him a bit, but the disappointment was still palpable. Several years later, my father sold his practice and retired. He was able to see me begin my career as a physician and although I could see that he was pleased with my career choice, it was tainted with a pang of regret. I did not follow in my father’s career path, but I am grateful that he taught me equally important lessons of dedication and compassion for patients.


Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

Matthew 13:55 (ESV)


In the time of Jesus Christ, it was common for the eldest son to inherit the family business, apprenticing and learning the trade from their father. Jesus was undoubtedly trained as a carpenter, as the townspeople of Nazareth pointed out in this Bible passage. But at the age of about thirty years, Jesus began His ministry, leaving His mother and siblings.


So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

John 5:19 (ESV)


Jesus was undoubtedly influenced by the godly example of His earthly father, Joseph. Although Jesus was trained to be a carpenter, He chose to follow the path of His Heavenly Father. Without sounding irreverent, I wonder if his mother and siblings were disappointed or upset by this decision? His family, at that time, did not understand why He chose to do this but Jesus was very deliberate and sure of His actions. His new career choice, so to speak, was not easy. Persecution, rejection, torture, and death. But He was faithful to follow His Father and for this, salvation and eternal life are available to all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.


In college, I was adopted by a new Father through faith in Jesus Christ. It was a different set of expectations from my earthly father. Instead of an occupation, it was a complete surrender of my will to God. How could I do this? By my own efforts it is impossible, but thanks be to God that He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell within me to strengthen and guide me to live a godly life.


Living up to a father’s expectations is often difficult for many families. I tried to take the best qualities and attributes my father modeled and imparted to me, but ultimately, I disappointed him.  Only Jesus Christ completely fulfilled His Father’s expectations. Praise God that He did!


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


“Can You Call A Cab?” (John 1:1)

On my recent trip in Spain, my wife and I were preparing to leave for dinner. I went to the hotel lobby and found a hotel doorman and asked him, “Can you call a cab?” He looked at me, puzzled, and repeated, “A cab?” I assumed he did not understand my english and I did not know how to say this request in Spanish. So, I said, “Yes, cab….you know, taxi!” There was a flash of understanding and the cab was hailed. I later found out that using the term “cab” is distinctly uncommon in Spain and “taxi” is the preferred word.


It was a simple lesson and a reminder that when speaking to different groups of people, subtle substitutions of words may lead to confusion and potential conflict. It was also a reminder to me that Christians are not immune to similar misunderstandings of the Bible.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1 (ESV)


This well known Bible verse has been twisted by a variety of other religious groups, claiming to be Christians but denying the deity of Jesus Christ. By substituting the words “a god”, the verse in their Bible translations changes to:


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.


To a casual observer, there is no difference in the meaning. But to any committed believer of Jesus Christ, it is heresy. It denies the eternal existence of Jesus Christ as God and reduces Him to another created being, a god, like an angel or demon.


Subtle changes and substitutions of words may lead to conflict and confusion. Changing or substituting words in the Bible will lead to heresy. Jesus Christ was not a god, or one of many gods. Jesus Christ IS God. There is no compromise or substitution.


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


47 (Luke 15:4-5)

At my college alma mater, the number 47 holds a special place. The first graduating class had 47 students, the school organ has 47 pipes, even the nearest freeway exit to the college is exit 47! Even a retired mathematics professor, inspired by the mystique of the number, published a tongue in cheek “proof” that all numbers are equal to 47! Some students and alumni were convinced that the number 47 hold an even more special numerical significance, far beyond the college occurrences. They cite the following examples: Jesus performed 47 miracles, the Declaration of Independence has 47 sentences, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are located 47 degrees apart.


But it does not stop there. One alumnus of the college is  a well-known Hollywood screenwriter and wrote many television episodes of a well-known science fiction series. He deliberately inserted the number 47 into many episodes, ranging from 47 alien ships destroyed to the knowledge of 47 medical officers programmed into the emergency medical computer.  When the producer of the series was informed of this scheme, he put an end to it. Nonetheless, the number keeps reappearing with greater than expected frequency in many movies and television shows.


Whether the number 47 is wired into a grand design of Creation or intentionally planted by mischievous artists and writers, is certainly debatable. There are certain numbers that recur within the Bible with greater frequency than others. There are 3 (the Trinity), 7 (seven days of Creation), 10 (commandments), 12 (disciples), and 40 (days of the rain for the great flood)-just to list a few. Bible scholars have speculated for centuries on the significance of these numbers. Regardless of the true reason, God has clearly placed an importance upon some numbers in His Creation.


What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

Luke 15:4-5 (ESV)


I am amused by the recurrence of the number 47. But I am in awe of the number 1. Of the billions of souls who have lived and died on this earth, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, would put aside His Glory in Heaven and come to earth as a man, to redeem my life from an eternity of being lost and separated from God. My life…1 of billions. But it matters to Him.


And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Luke 15:6-7 (ESV)


Numbers are important. God loves every person who has ever lived, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to eternal life. Confess and repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. And the moment you do, there will be rejoicing in Heaven!


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

”Dad, Please Move The Pest Controller!” (2 Corinthians 5:2)

A few months ago, we had a problem with raccoons. After finally trapping one of them, I decided to implement a system that would prevent the raccoons and other pests from returning. I found what I thought was an excellent solution, an ultrasonic alarm, triggered by movement. The high frequency was supposedly only heard by animals such as raccoons and would drive these pests away from the home. It apparently worked. But it kept other animals away as well…my daughter. I could barely hear the sound but from the start, my daughter complained to me how the sound was annoying and distracting. “Dad, please move the pest controller!” Here’s to my aging ears and the vitality of youth!


Ultrasonic frequencies are not the only things that have grown dim with time. I have noticed, like others my age, that my memory is not quite as sharp as it once was. A senior moment becomes an increasingly common and unwelcome phrase. All of these events remind me that age respects no one and the brevity of life is a surety.


For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling…

2 Corinthians 5:2 (ESV)


With each passing year, I do groan. But it is not a groan of resignation or defeat, it is a groan of impatience. I look forward to the promise of a new body and a new home in Heaven, with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I do so with confidence that when I confessed and repented of my sins to Jesus Christ, He was faithful and just to forgive me and grant me salvation and eternal life. It will be a life that is free of physical frailties or despair. It is a triumphant and victorious life and it is available to all who place their trust in Jesus.


My aging ears may not hear as well as my daughter’s. But thanks be to God that He has a perfect body waiting for me when I will hear more clearer than I ever could have believed! And I groan with eager longing for that day!




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


Nolinda (Ephesians 3:14-15)

My associate and her husband are expecting their first child. It is a surrogate pregnancy and is expected to be a girl. The company they founded sponsored a contest to provide the most creative name. One popular choice combined their first names, Noah and Belinda…Nolinda!


We all laughed at the quirkiness of the name but in all seriousness, the name does communicate a shared desire amongst all their friends and associates that the child will combine the best traits of both parents.


We always name our children at or closely around the time of birth. We chose names that signify desirable traits or to honor people who have played important roles in our  lives. But what if we named our children after they were a few years old, or even more absurdly, when they were adults? By then, personalities would be evident and a name might be reflective of a person’s true nature, rather than potential.  If I was to be named as an adult, my name might be Pride or Selfish.


For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named…

Ephesians 3:14-15 (ESV)


Jesus gave His disciples new names when they joined Him. The names embodied noble and encouraging personality traits such as steadfastness or boldness. I often wonder what kind of name Jesus would have given me had I been present as one of His disciples. Would it have been a name that combines the best traits of my Heavenly Father and my earthly family? Would it have been a name given in anticipation of the potential that Jesus saw in me? I am thankful that God sees my potential rather than focusing on the state of my present life and my many failures.


When she is born, Nolinda will be given a new name, one that will embody the best traits of her parents and look forward to a blessed life. When I was born again as a child of God, I can look ahead to the day when I will learn the name that God has given me. I no longer need to be ashamed of my past but can stand sanctified and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.


By God’s grace and mercy, my name will be a reflection of who He wants me to be.


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

“Are You Crying?” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

The other day, I was watching a television show with my daughter. It was a show about a young doctor in training and she had recorded it, in anticipation of a time when she and I could view it together. As we sat on the sofa, we bantered and joked about the realism of the situations and medical plausibility of some of the scenes. There were hardly any moments when we were not conversing or laughing. The episode ended on bittersweet note and at the end, tears began to well in my eyes. My daughter looked over at me and asked, “Are you crying?”


“Yes,” I nodded. “But not for the reasons you think.”


I am very sentimental. I cherished the moment I just shared with my daughter. No deadlines, no work, no school- just a moment when time stood still and we enjoyed each other’s company. As the moment ended, I lamented the fact that moments like this were all too rare and would be become even more infrequent in less than two years, when my daughter leaves for college.


…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (ESV)


The Bible reminds us life is an endless progression of seasons of change. This is not an extraordinary revelation. Secular, religious, and Christian scholars and writers have all noted the inexorable march of time. And indeed, if this Bible passage ended here, I would continue to drown in sentimental gushings and self-pity. For much of my life, there was no lifeline of hope. But God, through His grace and mercy, showed me the Truth.


My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12:12-13 (ESV)


The hope we have is in God alone. Our lives are not a series of random occurrences or chance encounters. God did not create us and then allow us to randomly wander through this life, seemingly powerless to control events. No. He is directing every moment of our life. He makes sense of the times of weeping, of laughter, of pain, and of sorrow. And if we seek His Kingdom first, He promises to bless us, exceedingly abundantly.


The fleeting moment of joy I experienced with my daughter is a beautiful prelude to an eternity of peace and comfort with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I eagerly anticipate new moments to share with her and someday, we will both be in Heaven. And like that moment in time, no deadlines, no work, no school-just a moment in time enjoying each other’s company in God’s presence.


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

“What Does That Cross Mean?” (Galatians 5:13)

One of my former dermatology residents participated in a medical missions trip to Vietnam, sponsored by a Christian organization. Upon her return, she gave a presentation to my laboratory, documenting several patients who received medical care from their team of physicians, dentists, optometrists, and nurses. Many treatments and procedures which we take for granted in the United States were unavailable and improvisation and creative collaboration were needed to care for many of the patients. I was presented with the microscope slides of an unfortunate patient who was afflicted with a lymphoma (cancer) of the right eye that had now spread to his left eye, leaving him completely blind. The nearest hospital that could adequately treat him was over 4 hours away by car.  The hospital pathologists had requested a consultation with me to assist them with the diagnosis. I did email the pathologists and a few days later, received a terse but polite reply. I have only received three additional consultations from this group of pathologists. Whether it was by their choice, a restrictive email and communication policy with outsiders, or some other reason, communication has been rare.


My resident confirmed my suspicions. She later told us, “There were several instances when patients would point to the cross I was wearing and ask, ‘What does that Cross mean?’ I had been warned by my medical team leader that some of these patients were government plants, probing us to see if we would share the gospel with them, an action that is specifically prohibited. If we did openly share the gospel, we would have been asked to immediately leave.”


For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:13 (ESV)


My resident’s recount was a sobering reminder that the religious freedom that exists in the United States can never be taken for granted. Our laws guarantee freedom of religion, a privilege that is increasingly under attack by a variety of activist groups. Yet, this very activity of fomenting attacks against Christians is protected by the same laws that protect Christians, a fact that is conveniently overlooked by these groups.


The price of freedom is costly. We must continue to pray for the persecuted and oppressed people living in countries, hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only by confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, will we be truly free.


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

Chinese Subtitles (1 John 4:1)

When I was growing up in Hawaii, a favorite activity was to take the bus to Chinatown and watch a Chinese Kung-fu movie. The movies were always entertaining but one aspect that intrigued me was these Chinese language movies displayed both Chinese and English subtitles. Upon further inquiry, I learned that nearly all Chinese language movies and television shows will provide Chinese subtitles. A variety of explanations have been given. The most common and reasonable is that while China has an official national language, Mandarin, there are numerous dialects. In order to minimize confusion and potential misinterpretation by the listening audience, the dialogue is presented with the Chinese subtitles. An analogous situation in the United States would be to provide English subtitles for a show set in the Hawaiian Islands with the characters speaking pidgin english.


The irony is a similar confusion arises when people reference the Bible in their conversations or teachings. Most people are familiar with some Bible passages but many incorrectly quote them, either by errors of omission or commision. But the listener may also be at fault, sometimes hearing or interpreting only what they wish to hear.  If only a Bible were present during this incidents. Like the subtitles, we could immediately compare what was spoken to the actual text.


Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1 (ESV)


We must always hold up any discussion of the Bible or Christianity to the light of God’s Word. Everyone, especially Pastors and Bible teachers, must be held accountable. The Bible is our subtitle of the Truth for life.


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


One More Second (Luke 12:19-20)

My associate came to work the other morning appearing quite flustered. He just witnessed a horrific car accident that occurred at the intersection leading to our laboratory. A car was careening down the street, swerving through traffic at a high speed. Fortunately, he managed to see it in his rear-view mirror and quickly changed lanes to avoid being hit. The car jumped the median strip and flipped over, leading to a five car crash. Sadly, one person was killed in this tragedy and several others were hospitalized.


If my associate had been in a slightly different location on the street or had not looked in his rear-view mirror, he may have been killed. One more second would have made the difference between arriving at work and arriving at eternity. In one more second, we could be behind the wheel of a car, grousing about the rude salesperson who just served us at the coffee bar and the next moment, we could be ushered into eternity. But would this be an eternity spent in Heaven or hell?


And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

Luke 12:19-20 (ESV)


I do not know the spiritual condition of the person who was killed nor of the injured people. I pray for their souls and for God’s mercy on their lives. These tragic events remind us that, while we live in this world and deal with many seemingly mundane or annoying circumstances of life, our greater perspective must always be focused upon the eternal. At any moment, our souls may be demanded of us and we need to be absolutely sure of what our eternal destiny will be.


Some people think they can delay their decision about believing or accepting God until they know their death is imminent. Perhaps. But like the car that narrowly missed my associate, will one second be enough time for any of us to make such a decision?


Don’t delay any longer. If you have not confessed and repented of your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, do it now. Your eternal destiny depends upon your decision.


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