A Time Bomb (Proverbs 28:13)

A surgeon colleague of mine recently shared the disturbing news that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He discussed the prognosis and treatment with numerous experts and decided that he would not opt for immediate surgery, but instead, follow the serological or blood markers of the cancer. If there was a change and elevation in this marker, this was presumptive evidence that the cancer was advancing and surgery would be needed.


I admired the courage of my colleague as he dealt with his cancer diagnosis. His decision to delay immediate treatment of his prostate cancer was well-supported in the medical literature and by his urological peers. Yet, I was unsettled by his decision. Everyone is wired differently, with different thresholds for what they would accept for their treatment. For myself, I cannot accept such an option. I would literally be sitting on a time bomb. Its presence would gnaw on my soul, occupying my daily thoughts and influencing many of my daily decisions. I would choose to have the cancer removed, immediately.


How ironic that I cannot tolerate a diagnosis of cancer within me yet, I will still tolerate many sins and excesses in my life. I will suffer through the pain and travails of a radical surgery, yet, I will still tolerate the soul killing and destructive effects of unconfessed sins, a far more destructive and deadly disease. How hypocritical!


Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Proverbs 28:13 (ESV)


I ignore, deny, and conceal my sins. These sins, which erode and destroy my very soul, I continue to tolerate, at the expense of my very existence. What hope do I have?


Thanks be to God that He has given me and all of mankind His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer of our sins. If we confess and repent of my sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins. In my life, the ticking time bomb of my sins has been defused and I can begin to live the life that God created me to live.


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


“Trust Me, I’m A Doctor!” (John 8:44)

It was a luau in St. Louis, displaced several thousand miles from Hawaii. During the year I lived there for my dermatopathology fellowship, the president of the local Hawaii club at Washington University, invited me as his special guest to attend their annual gathering. I was delighted and when I arrived at the luau, I was greeted with a lei and seated with other professors and faculty members. I was the only one from Hawaii and I took on the role of ambassador to Hawaii for my new tablemates. As the food was served, I explained the nature of the dishes. When the poi arrived, three of the women, all Ph.D. professors in the departments of english and anthropology, recoiled.


“Ewww,” one of them exclaimed. “This is poi, right? It looks gross!”


“Well…you know you’re not supposed to eat it!” The woman looked at me, confusion rippling across her face at my declaration.


“But don’t they always serve this at luaus?”


“Yes, of course.” I maneuvered in front of the bowl of gray pasty goo and held it up. “Hawaiians only serve it at luaus when haoles, or visitors to the islands, are present. They never eat this stuff!”


Now they were really confused! “Then what do they do with it?”


I stuck my finger into it. “The Hawaiians use this for building material, kind of like the stuff we use for caulking.” I pulled my finger out, the poi tenaciously sticking to it. “See, it’s a great glue and adhesive agent.”


“Come on!” The women were all laughing, wise to my charade. “Is this true?”


“Trust me, I’m a doctor!” I winked.


“So are we!” The three women giggled and draped their arms around each other.


Whom do you trust?


I was on a table seated with physicians, Ph.D. scientists, and scholars-all experts in their respective fields of study. Although I was jesting about the poi, I initially sounded very authoritative and likely could have succeeded in convincing some of them of my lies. And why not? I was a professional like them and I hailed from Hawaii. Their guards were down. Why wouldn’t I speak the truth?


…He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44 (ESV)


No rational person would knowingly trust themselves with Satan. Even for non-believers, Satan is portrayed as the embodiment of evil. Yet, trusting Satan is far more subtle than we may realize. Ridiculous! This is the 21st century! We don’t engage in lurid idol worship or sacrificing animals upon a pentagram.


We may not. We live in age when pundits state the only reality is what we can empirically measure and see. We trust with our eyes, mind, and heart. And this is the problem. In circumstances we may deem safe and non-threatening, Satan may attack with subtle lies, whispered innuendoes. Like my jesting at the luau, it may begin innocently with true facts but can radically turn tangential, seducing and devouring everyone in its path.


It happened to Eve when she was confronted by Satan in the Garden of Eden. Satan twisted and added to God’s Word and commands to her to not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. He convinced her that God surely did not mean everything He told her and was, in fact, hiding a secret blessing from her. She would not die but instead have her eyes opened, knowing good and evil. She would be…just like God!


When I trust my own desires, when I allow my goals to supplant God’s, I am trusting Satan. He wants to convince me to be…just like God. We can never trust Satan. He subtly encourages me to divert my attention away from God and onto myself. The only hope I have is to confess and repent of my sins and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Satan knows he is already defeated but he will do everything he can to convince me otherwise and trust him.


Trust me?


No. Only Jesus Christ is worthy of our complete trust.


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



Client Alert System (Romans 5:3-5)

Many years ago, my former partner created a sophisticated computer software program that tracked client alerts. This system was installed on every computer in the laboratory and whenever a client and/or physician’s office called with a complaint or suggestion, it would immediately be logged into the program as a client alert and categorized by urgency and importance. The most urgent alert meant the client was going to switch laboratories and leave our service. Obviously these received immediate attention. Other alerts were similarly categorized and were reviewed on a daily and weekly basis at our quality improvement meetings.


This laudable system identified many serious and simmering issues on a more timely basis than we had previously accomplished. However, I always had a nagging doubt this system was not capturing issues that were annoying or troublesome to the client but went unreported to our laboratory. How many of these smaller issues would have to be experienced by the client until finally, one seemingly small incident was enough to cause the client to leave our laboratory services? If we reviewed the reasons why the client left, we would be befuddled why a minor incident was the reason for the departure. One could easily arrive at the conclusion that the client was too sensitive or finicky while in reality, it was a litany of poor service that had accumulated over time. The seemingly small incident was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.


Conflicts in personal relationships are like a client alert system. There are certainly serious issues that can immediately break a relationship. But what about the small nicks and bruises that one receives over time? It is the neglected thanks for a job for which one has labored; it is the boastful comment by a colleague praising his work while denigrating yours. So many examples which alone may seem insignificant or petty to a casual observer, but over time can amount to an explosive crisis.


Frustration and suffering can foment ingratitude which can lead to hurt and anger and eventual rejection of that person or relationship. In this life, what hope do we have?


Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)


There is a chain of events that leads to many of our behaviors. For every frustration or suffering, one can choose to descend into the morass of self-pity and grousing or one can break the chain and look upward and outward to God rather than downward and inward to wallow in a sea of misery. God shows us the better pathway by giving all believers who have confessed and repented of their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The moment that happens, the Holy Spirit indwells within us and starts the sanctification, the transformation into a child of God. God promises to bring the healing and peace to our souls we all desperately need and desire.


All praise to the living God!


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


Welcome Home! (John 3:30)

“The cross shows us the seriousness of our sin—but it also shows us the immeasurable love of God.”


“God proved his love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’ ”


“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”


Billy Graham (1918-2018)


On February 21st, 2018, the Reverend Billy Graham went home to be with His Lord, Jesus Christ. Accolades from around the globe, from all ages, and from countless leaders quickly poured in. Our brother Billy was a great man. Millions have come to Jesus Christ because of his ministry and the hundreds of other believers he led to the Lord. Yet Jesus, Himself, said that even the greatest man on earth is least in the Kingdom of God. Jesus was referencing and praising the life of John the Baptist who was His cousin and the prophet who prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist recognized he was simply a servant of God and humbly declared the following verse, a verse that should be the clarion call for all believers in Jesus Christ.


He must increase, but I must decrease.

John 3:30 (ESV)


I believe our brother Billy lived such a life of devotion and servitude to Jesus Christ. His sole purpose on this earth was to point everyone to Jesus Christ and the Cross. There are many quotations of which Brother Billy is famous; I have only chosen a few. These quotations spoke to me because they all point to Jesus Christ as the only path to salvation and eternal peace with God. I honor his life with one more quotation, one that encapsulates the Gospel of Jesus Christ and places the grace and mercy of God above any works or good behavior that any of us could or ever will do in this life on earth.


“I am not going to Heaven because I have preached to great crowds or read the Bible many times. I’m going to Heaven just like the thief on the cross who said in that last moment: ‘Lord, remember me.’ “


Brother Billy is a great saint of God but we are still, all sinners, saved only by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the Cross. I am looking forward to meeting you in Heaven, Brother Billy, in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


Welcome home!




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


Diamond Jim Brady (John 15:13)

American history is replete with colorful characters notorious for their lifestyles of excess. Few captured the imagination of the American public as Diamond Jim Brady. A railroad tycoon at the turn of the 20th century, Brady was renowned for his prodigious appetite as well as his business acumen. His favorite restaurant was Charles Rector in New York City. The owner boasted that Brady was his “best 25 customers”. A typical dinner was as follows:


Two or three dozen oysters

Six crabs

Few servings of green turtle soup

Two whole ducks

Six or seven lobsters

A sirloin steak

Two servings of terrapin

A variety of vegetables

A platter of pastries

A two pound box of candy


Source (http://www.gourmandizer.com/ezine/brady/)


This was all washed down with a gallon of orange juice or lemon soda. And this was only dinner! Brady had an equally voracious appetite for breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, and a late afternoon snack!


His love of food was further piqued by a colleague who boasted of a famous dish at a Parisian restaurant. The recipe was a closely guarded secret but Brady was insistent on having the dish served to him at Charles Rector. What could be done?


The owner responded by yanking his son out of Cornell University and sending him on a secret mission to the famed Parisian restaurant to work as a dishwasher. Within two years, the son worked his way into the inner circle and learned the secret recipe. As soon as he procured it, he returned to New York city. An anxious Brady met him at the pier, shouting, “Did you bring the sauce?”


The dish was Filet de Sole de Marguery. After devouring nine portions, Diamond Jim Brady is reputed to have said, “If you poured some of the sauce over a Turkish towel, I believe I could eat all of it.”


Brady’s request sent into motion a series of events where the owner of the restaurant sacrificed the career of his own son so that he would embark on a clandestine operation to secure the secret recipe of a fabled dish that he had not even tasted himself.


How far would one go to preserve a relationship? Three of King David’s top military commanders risked their lives to procure a drink of water from a well in Bethlehem after he expressed his longing to once again taste of it (2 Samuel 23:13-17). Jonathan disobeyed his father, King Saul, to protect his best friend, David, and enable him to escape his father’s wrath (1 Samuel 20). These beautiful and touching examples of friendship and loyalty and all point to the love that our Lord Jesus Christ has for all of us.


Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13 (ESV)
Jesus Christ endured the torture and humiliation of the Cross to secure a pathway for salvation for all who confess and repent of their sins and place their trust in Him. What is the ultimate cost of loyalty to a friend? Jesus gave His life so that we may live eternally with God.


All praise to the living God!


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


“Don’t Hurt Your Family!” (Proverbs 28:19-20)

Over ten years ago, I began the process to start my own business. I knew it was an arduous route, in fact, some colleagues thought me crazy for even considering this. No one starts a medical laboratory by themselves!  Unfazed, I meticulously planned and sought the advice of many successful friends in business and physician colleagues, all of whom imparted sage advice to me. One of them, an entrepreneurial plastic surgeon with a thriving practice, offered to take me out to lunch because he wanted to hear the granular details my business plan. After listening to me present my plan, he nodded and gravely whispered, “Whatever you do, don’t hurt your family!”


I was startled by his statement. “What do you mean?”


He looked up and sighed. “I have seen so many docs, dentists, business people…they all have ambitious plans. Either they dream too big and sink too much money and time into their new business, or they don’t have the experience to do this. When things start falling apart, they don’t listen to the advice of others. Their careers and families are a mess. They hurt their family. They should have been content with what they had but they were impulsive, didn’t plan properly.” The wise counsel of my physician colleague correctly admonished me; my priorities needed to be for my family, for my loved ones whom God has blessed me rather than for myself and to satisfy my ego.


Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.
Proverbs 28:19 (ESV)


How many well-intentioned plans go awry because of poor planning or selfish ambitions? Why do so many blindly follow a dream  or worthless pursuits instead of first counting the cost? Why are so many families hurt or torn apart because of futile gambits and risky ventures? The answer is given by God in the very next verse.


A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 28:20 (ESV)


Many hours of prayer, alone and with my wife, preceded the start of my business. I had a business plan but my priority was, and still is, my spiritual plan; God must be at the center.

I must always plan and proceed at His pace.


Seek God first! Don’t hurt your family!




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


Blog Index


The Manna Cookbook (Deuteronomy 8:3-4)

“Okay! Who’s ready for manna pancakes?”


“Manna wrap with goat cheese, anyone?”


I don’t know if conversations like this ever transpired but if manna was the only food the Israelites ate for forty years wandering in the dessert, I would not be surprised if creative and innovative recipes were circulated through the families and tribes. Perhaps there was even a manna cookbook!


Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

Exodus 16:31 (ESV)


Now that sounds good!


Manna was a complete food. It was a miracle that God provided sustenance in the dessert. And when God provides, he does so completely! Not even subtle nutritional requirements, completely unknown to the ancient world, are overlooked.


And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years.

Deuteronomy 8:3-4 (ESV)


As a physician, if a patient informed me that they were only eating one type of food for forty years, I would be concerned about malnutrition. There are many vitamin deficiencies that can occur. The last description in this passage of the Israelites feet not swelling reminds me of beriberi, a deficiency of vitamin B1. In severe cases, heart failure can result and one sign is lower extremity edema or foot swelling.


Like manna, what additional benefits does God provide for me when I am obedient to Him? By His grace and mercy, He has given me eternal life and salvation when I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Isn’t this enough? He has further blessed me with my health, a family, and a job. These additional benefits were not promised to me but God provides exceedingly abundantly so that I am complete and lacking in nothing. And yet, after time, I am sometimes embittered toward God for not offering additional options. How shallow and ephemeral is my gratitude! Like the manna, I have grown accustomed to the bountifulness of God’s provisions, still seeking more, and failing to be grateful that He is preparing an ever greater eternal weight of glory for me when I enter Heaven.


I am seeking a manna cookbook and greater variety; what I need is more manna! I need more of Jesus Christ, my manna, my Bread of Life.


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


“Why Didn’t You Tell Me This Before?” (Matthew 18:15-17)

One of my dermatology clients recently fired his office manager. Although his manager was very intelligent and performed his job with aplomb, there was an edginess to his style. He was cocky, often rude to my staff and his brusqueness extended to me as well. On more than one occasion, he not so subtly questioned my expertise. I responded by biting my lip, restraining my urge to defend myself and chastise his audacity. This dermatologist would often publicly praise his manager and out of respect for my relationship with the dermatologist, I never brought up these episodes. But whenever I or my staff heard these accolades, our eyes would roll.


Thus it was some surprise that a few weeks ago, our laboratory learned that this office manager had been fired. Through a series of emails and phone conversations, I learned that several patients and vendors had complained about the manager’s rudeness to them. I didn’t want to appear as though I was piling on but I also disclosed to the dermatologist that this manager had exhibited similar bad behaviors to myself and my staff.


Exasperated, he questioned me, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”


“You always spoke so highly of him,” carefully choosing my words. “I didn’t want to offend you. I knew how much you depended upon him.”


Miffed, he replied, “I wish you told me about all of this. I could have avoided a lot of problems that I am now facing.”


Yes, I should have told him. I was torn between my loyalty to my dermatologist and my perceived loyalty that he had with his office manager. I did not want to create a problem in his office if everything appeared to be operating smoothly. In hindsight, this was clearly the wrong decision.


If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Matthew 18:15-17 (ESV)


As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to hold one another accountable before God. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the steps that we should follow when a fellow church member sins against another. The directive is clear with a definite chain of command. Egregious behaviors, such as theft or physical assault, can and should be immediately dealt with by the local church. But what about seemingly lesser bad behaviors? While we should aspire to address all active and potential conflicts, bringing some of these issues to light may be viewed by some in the church as petty or even hypocritical. If ignored or buried, these behaviors may continue and foment strife, increasing uneasiness between church members. I definitely struggle with this issue. Like the dermatology office manager, there are sometimes more shades of gray than one would like to acknowledge. And at the heart of my own reluctance is the uneasy feeling that others may be feeling the same way about me. First take the log out of your own eye! Indeed.


Why didn’t you tell me this before?


Only when I hold my sins and those of others before the light of God’s Word will I have the spiritual discernment that I need to deal with all interpersonal conflicts. It is not easy, but shades of gray are what God transforms into black and white.


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



“Let’s See What Is Going On In The World!” (John 19:30)

My wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this year. Our wedding was a spectacular lunchtime celebration and continued to nearly 4 PM. After the reception, when we finally had a moment to ourselves, we collapsed upon our bed, completely exhausted from the festivities, and napped for about two hours. We awoke at about 9 PM and decided to order a dinner. As I awaited the delivery of our meals, I remarked to my new bride, “Let’s see what is going on in the world!” I turned the television on and, to my horror, saw the tragic events of the day-a beautiful young woman and her fiance, killed in a car crash.


The date was August 30th, 1997- the date of Princess Diana’s death.


In less than 24 hours, the world turned upside down for us and so many others. At the beginning of the day, the couple were celebrating their engagement. In a flurry of events, the happy couple was now dead. From great pomp to utter tragedy-were they or anyone truly prepared for what happened?


Nearly two thousand years ago, an even greater tragedy occurred in the span of less than 24 hours.  When Jesus Christ was arrested by the Jewish authorities, he just observed the Passover with His disciples. The entire city of Jerusalem was celebrating and a mere few days earlier, Jesus had entered the city in great pomp, riding on the back of a donkey, honored with palm fronds by the crowd who rejoiced, “Hosanna! Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” Now, on trial for blasphemy, Jesus is vilified by much of the same crowd who, just days earlier, proclaimed Him the Messiah. They clamored for Him to be crucified and a convicted murderer to be released in His place. In less than 24 hours, a hastily arranged and illegal trial convicted and sentenced Jesus Christ to death. His disciples were confused over what was happening and some even fled from His side. From great pomp to utter tragedy-were they or anyone truly prepared for what happened?


…He said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30 (ESV)


As Jesus hung dying on the Cross, He knew exactly what He was doing. He willingly allowed Himself to be arrested and led to the Cross. He took the sins of all mankind upon His broken and bleeding body: past, present, and future. These sins came upon the only man to live a sinless life and in that moment, He was separated from God for the first time in His life and became the sacrifice for our sins, to reconcile and restore the broken relationship between God and man. He did this for us. Only He could do this and only He understood what was truly happening.


It is finished!


In less than 24 hours, our lives went from a blissful wedding to witnessing a tragic death. In less than 24 hours, the entire fate of mankind was forever changed. Death and sin were defeated! Jesus’ entire life on Earth was prepared for this moment. Are you prepared? Don’t hesitate. Confess and repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He has prepared an eternal home for us in Heaven.




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

Music Theory 1B (Psalms 25:4-5)

During my senior year in college, I attended a class in music theory. My background in classical and jazz guitar and violin had prepared me well but because I did not play piano, I did not meet the entry requirements to take the music theory class that all music majors were required to take. Thus, I was quite pleased that my college offered a music theory course for non-music majors who could read music and play a musical instrument. There were frequent assignments that critically analyzed great classical compositions. I was elated, thankful to learn to properly evaluate these great works of music.


One assignment analyzed a symphony written by an obscure composer. With dissonant harmonies and odd time signatures, it was difficult to identify and follow the theme. Disheartened after several hours of analysis, I sought the tutelage of my professor. He kindly ushered me through the first few measures of the composition. “Look at the bass line. See the movement?” I nodded. “It continues in the melody a few measures later.” The light was beginning to go on. “See now it is in the harmony, displaced by a few beats.” Whoa!


That was the theme!


The theme was subtly reworked and reimagined, brilliantly knitting the entire composition together. As I re-listened to the recording while analyzing the orchestral score, it became glaringly evident.


Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation;

for you I wait all the day long.

Psalms 25:4-5 (ESV)


Do I allow God to lead me when the path is not a straight line and filled with seemingly dissonant choices and off-beat displacements? Many times I grow frustrated, losing sight of the path that God has prepared for me. But what I perceive as distractions and roadblocks are part of a far more intricate and beautiful plan. The providence of God is masterfully woven into the fabric of my life. Like a complex musical composition, the theme may not be immediately obvious but it is always present, leading me to a triumphant and glorious finale in the presence of my Lord Jesus Christ.


Lord Jesus, please increase my faith and help my unbelief!


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