“The Clown Liked Us!” (2 Chronicles 15:7)

One of my first paid public performances as a musician was a wedding reception. I was in high school and frequently collaborated with an older cousin who played keyboards. Sharing a common love of jazz and pop music, we created a repertoire of well-known jazz standards and Beatles tunes. One day, my cousin phoned me and inquired whether I would be interested in playing music for his friend’s wedding reception. I was interested but uncertain why anyone would want to hire two untested amateurs? He reassured me that his friends did not have much money for a lavish affair, renting out a local gymnasium that had a stage. Sounded harmless. I agreed.


At the reception, we set up on the stage facing about a hundred guests. After being introduced, my cousin and I nervously launched into our set. We quickly settled into a comfortable groove, smiles flashing between us as we were certain the audience was also feeling it. After one hour of performing, we finished our set and waited for a thanks from the emcee and the expected applause. It was at that moment we realized that no one was listening to us.  Well, actually, that was not correct. One person was and he made everyone aware they should also be.


“C’mon everyone, give these guys a hand, they’re great!”


It was the clown, hired to entertain the children. His call for an ovation was met with a tepid polite applause.


“Oh, come on! They were great!” This bizarre figure with a strawberry-red wig, white faced makeup, and loud polka-dot tie, clapped his oversized white gloved hands in a surreal attempt to rouse the disinterested audience. I turned to my cousin, whose forlorn expression did not invite further conversation, and whispered, “At least the clown liked us!”

It was painful and humiliating. Hours of preparation, hopeful and confident that we would be successful, but upon completion, our efforts were not appreciated and ignored. Years later, my cousin and I have reminisced with laughter but other experiences are not as fondly recalled. Completing a project for work, organizing a charity program, creating a teaching program for fellow church members-all of these and more have sometimes been received with indifference, even disdain.


But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.

2 Chronicles 15:7 (ESV)


We should always extend grace to everyone with whom we interact. But although it is my expectation of others, so often I am hypocritical, seeking immediate gratification from others instead of accepting the truth that I am not someone deserving of accolades for my work, but simply an unworthy servant of God, doing my duty as He has commanded of me (Luke 17:10). God continues to change my heart, transforming and conforming into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. My reward is not the accolades from man but the opportunity to serve God who granted me salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.




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


“Can We See The Dessert Menu?” (Revelation 21:4)

Whenever our family dines at a new restaurant, we do so with a deliberate strategy. We research the signature dishes, we engage the server with questions about their tantalizing specials for the evening, and we always ask one critical question, “Can we see the dessert menu?”


Our request usually elicits a bemused response but we quickly explain, “We don’t want to miss the best part of the meal because we have engorged ourselves with your other great dishes. We want to plan accordingly!”


He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4 (ESV)


Our spiritual walk with God is no different. God has given us the menu for life, God’s Word, the Bible. We already know the best part of His plan for our life! Like going straight to the dessert menu, In the last book of the Bible, God promises us that all pain and suffering will be eliminated. Even death will no longer threaten us! All we need to do is confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.


Can we see the dessert menu?


Do you have a strategy for your life? Thanks be to God that He has already promised the best part of it to us! Taste and see that the Lord is Good!




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


No One Is Studying Here! (1 Samuel 9:15-16)

Ahh..the physics library…no one is studying here! I had my pick up of numerous desks and tables and planted myself next to a window. The only other person in the library was another student, one whom I met in my Japanese class. Should be a quiet and productive evening.


When I was in college, each evening I rotated the libraries where I chose to study. Most evenings passed with nary a conversation with other students, but this evening was an exception.


“You’re Paul, right?” The lone student looked up from his desk as I attempted to pass by.


“Yes. You’re Jake?” He smiled and nodded. There was something about him that encouraged me to go beyond the usual pleasantries. “Are you a physics major?”


He shook his head. “No, econ. I’m on work-study so I’m the library monitor at this physics library.”


“Cool.” I surveyed the empty library. “Pretty easy job?”


He chuckled. “Yes. Hardly anyone comes in here at night! I get to study!”


“Me too!” I grinned. “Talk to you later!”


I found a nearby table and a few hours passed when I got up to stretch. As I passed Jake, I noticed he had completed his studying and was reading his Bible. Again, something inside prompted me to ask him a question.


“Reading the Bible?” stating the obvious.


Jake looked up. His expression indicated he was deep in thought, but he politely answered. “Yes. Are you a Christian?”


“No…I mean yes,” I stammered. “I believe all religions are paths to the same god.”


Nonplussed, he closed his Bible and said, “I see.” He again smiled. “Do you read the Bible?”


“Yes. But I read everything! The Bible. The Buddhist sutras. The Bhagavad Gita.” I smugly declared.


Choosing his words carefully he said, “That’s good, man. You should keep reading the Bible.”


“Yeah. Maybe I will.”


At that time in my life, I felt secure in my newly found religion. I was deeply involved in a group that believed all religions were paths to the same god. Thus, I readily accepted the religious scriptures and authoritative statements of all spiritual disciplines, willing to overlook the apparent contradictions. But I could not overlook my seemingly random encounter with Jake. Within a few weeks, we became close friends, taking our meals together. Within a few months, I was in his dorm room every Sunday evening, exploring and debating the claims of the Bible and Jesus Christ. Within a year, God changed my heart and I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.


Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel:  “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.”

1 Samuel 9:15-16 (ESV)


Just like my seemingly random encounter in a quiet university physics library with my brother in Jesus Christ whom God used to lead me to Him, God used a seemingly random search for missing donkeys to set into motion a series of events that led to the anointing of Israel’s first King. Saul was a handsome man from the tribe of Benjamin. One day, he was asked by his father to search for their missing donkeys. At the same time, God spoke to the prophet Samuel and revealed to him that he was sending Saul to him so that he could anoint him as the first king.


Random encounter? Coincidence?


Every event that occurs in our life has a purpose. If the reason or connection is not immediately evident, it does not mean there is no purpose. Sometimes God requires us to be patient, to grow and mature our faith in the process. In my life, within a year of a seemingly random encounter, God brought me into a loving relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.


There are no coincidences with God. His Will is always done!


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




Surprised By Tithe (2 Chronicles 31:3)

Many years ago, I was involved with a local church and became friends with the Pastor. We were going through some budget items for the church when a line item caught my attention. The Pastor believed in absolute transparency to the church family for his personal finances. I noted that he tithed to our church, for which he was the senior pastor, and calculated it to be about 12% of his gross income.


The tithe supports the Church family, its Pastors and leaders. It initially seemed odd to me that a Pastor would also tithe, since after all, isn’t this the money that I and the congregation gave to him and his family to live? As I reflected upon this, I realized that he was following the admonition of God’s Word, like all believers. He was setting a godly example as the leader and shepherd of our church. As he tithes, the rest of the congregation should also be encouraged to tithe.


The contribution of the king from his own possessions was for the burnt offerings: the burnt offerings of morning and evening, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the appointed feasts, as it is written in the Law of the Lord.

2 Chronicles 31:3 (ESV)


In this passage from the Bible, King Hezekiah also set a godly example for his people, contributing from his own possessions to the re-establishment of the worship of God, neglected for many years. What did his people do when they witnessed his actions?


As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.

2 Chronicles 31:5 (ESV)


God honored Hezekiah’s sacrifice of tithe when he set an example that his people gladly followed. What was the result?


And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.

2 Chronicles 31:21 (ESV)


The result was God blessed the Kingdom of Judah. When God’s leaders set a godly example, God blesses, exceedingly abundantly!




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


Impatience (Luke 9:41)

“Be patient!”


Nearly everyday, I hear this echoed throughout our home, uttered by various family members and directed toward me.  Why am I so impatient with others, even myself? Although certainly not justifiable, I will rationalize why I grow frustrated with others, since they are not living up to my expectations, but what about for myself? How can I be impatient with myself? How can I not live up to my expectations? Surely impatience with myself is justifiable? After all, what is wrong with desiring to be better, to improve oneself?


Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”

Luke 9:41 (ESV)


The Bible often speaks of the patience of God. Thus the rare examples of Jesus seemingly acting impatiently, vividly stand out. Why did Jesus exhibit impatience with His disciples? The setting for this searing indictment is an incident when a distraught father came to Jesus, pleading with Him to heal his son, possessed by demons. He claimed that he asked Jesus’ disciples to heal his son but they were unable. While Jesus’ answer seems harsh, it is instructive and a stern reminder of where our true faith should be rooted. The disciples assumed that this was similar to other demon possessions they had successfully healed. They had grown complacent and overconfident in their abilities, relying upon their past experiences and expectations, rather than seeking faith in God through Jesus Christ.


God is love. God is kind. God is patient.


I am selfish. I am rude. I am impatient.


I am all these and more and it is because of my sinful nature. I expect the world to revolve around my priorities for my convenience. I mistakenly believe that because a situation successfully resolved in the past, it should always follow a similar solution. But this is not what Jesus is teaching and it highlights my arrogance and misguided expectations about God and not relying upon my faith in Him. The seeming impatience of God is not because of any fault of God, it solely rests upon my unbelief and deliberate misinterpretation of His teachings and promises. When I am impatient with others or myself it is because I am relying only upon my prior expectations. It is a glaring reminder how I do not trust God and further evidence that my faith in Him is weak and anemic.


Thanks be to God for His everlasting mercy and grace to me through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ!


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


Switching Sides (2 Chronicles 28:22-23)

My favorite basketball team was losing…again. For years, I had followed this team through several championships, watching every game and incessantly talking about every nuance of their plays to anyone who would listen. Alas, it had now been over five years since the team had even made the playoffs. The stars of the glory years were gone and the team rebuilding was not progressing as quickly as management and fans had hoped. It was painful and embarrassing to watch the team play. In fact, I began to watch other teams that were more exciting…and winning. What began as an innocent distraction soon became a firm commitment. After a few months, I threw my support behind a competing team and switched sides.


“Where’s your loyalty?” Completely unforgiving, my friends screamed at me. I had switched my alliances because I selfishly wanted to be with a winner. The only victory I achieved was securing the ire of my friends and branded a traitor.


In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the Lord—this same King Ahaz. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel.

2 Chronicles 28:22-23 (ESV)


When one switches sides and alliances with sports teams, the consequences may be ridicule or scorn from friends and family. The consequences are far more severe when one switches alliances and sides against God. King Ahaz of Judah suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Syrians. What was his response? Did he humble himself before God and ask for mercy and forgiveness? No. He switched sides. He chose to sacrifice to the gods of the enemy who defeated him. Did it work? No. God punished Ahaz by sending the Assyrians to raid and plunder his kingdom leading to more humiliating defeats.


Switching sides against God?


God is not mocked; we reap what we sow. If God is for us, who can be against us?


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


“I Only Believe In The Virgin Mary!” (Luke 1:28-29)

Many years ago, a colleague at work shared with me his disenchantment with his life. His relationship with his girlfriend was ending. He felt he was in a dead-end job. He was dissatisfied with his self-image. At the heart of this resentment was his anger toward God. “I prayed to Jesus, many times, to help me.” He bit his lower lip in defiance. “Nothing! No more! I only believe in the Virgin Mary! I will only pray to her!”


I was uncertain of my colleague’s religious background but decided against questioning him over this theological confession. His emotions were too raw, his disillusionment too palpable. As I walked away, I pondered his statement. Is praying to Mary instead of Jesus Christ acceptable? Is there any difference?


And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God….”

Luke 1:28-29 (ESV)


Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, was definitely favored and blessed by God. Regardless of one’s denominational background or beliefs, Mary should always be held in very high esteem by all Christians. She was the woman chosen by God to be impregnated by the Holy Spirit while she was still a virgin. Her humility and obedience to God for accepting this calling was admirable. Jesus loved her as a devoted son and in one of His last words on the Cross, He instructed His beloved disciple John to care for her as he would his own mother (John 19:26-27).


Like all of the other great saints of the Bible, we are to love Mary as a fellow sister and believer in Jesus Christ. But she is not divine, nor is she in a position to intercede for our prayers to God. There is only one Person who can do this.


For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)


Our redemption and salvation is solely based upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no other Name on Heaven or Earth by which we may be saved. Only be confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior will we be saved. It is only by praying to Him and no one else, will our prayers be heard by God.


Believe in Jesus Christ. He is the answer to all of our prayers.


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


What Were Her Secrets? (Isaiah 53:2-3)

Several years ago, my wife and I had the pleasure to visit France. One of the highlights was a visit to the Louvre, capped with the obligatory viewing of the famous Mona Lisa. Who has not heard of the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci? Prior to the trip, I had read numerous articles hypothesizing who the subject of the painting was, the reasons behind her enigmatic smile, and the lore of its different owners from Italy to France. What were her secrets?


Nearly 10 million visit the Louvre every year and the museum estimates that 80% come only to see the Mona Lisa. I can certainly be added to the list. Although my wife and I did browse many of the other art pieces, we both knew why we were there, along with about a thousand other visitors that day. After waiting in line for 45 minutes, we entered the museum and made a beeline to the painting, following the conspicuous signposts. Predictably, the room was packed and uncomfortably humid. Another 20 minutes passed as we slowly inched closer until we were positioned in front of the masterpiece. There, encased a bullet proof case, the piece de resistance of the Louvre!


It only took a few seconds to realize that she was, indeed, harboring a secret. In spite of everything I read, nowhere did it disclose the size of the painting. Measuring 2 feet 6 inches by 1 foot 9 inches, the familiar visage was hardly an impressive sight. Displaced behind the case, it was further diminished. Thousands of miles of travel and an hour long wait; her unmistakable smile was a smirk, at my expense! Miffed by the anticlimactic experience, I muttered to my wife, “It was better in the photograph!”


My irreverent attitude was unjustified. After years of anticipation, I had projected my inflated expectations unto this experience. Arrogantly, I did not take the time to reflect upon the grandeur and historical significance of the moment nor was I willing to overlook my disappointment. I was seeking my own version of the Mona Lisa rather than seeking the truth.


For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:2-3 (ESV)


For years, I projected my warped and misguided expectations unto God whom I thought He should be. Like the Mona Lisa, I created a god in my image rather than seeking the Truth. I was expecting a god indifferent to my needs, who created the world but expected me to forge my own path through my efforts alone. I created a god who followed a cosmic law of karmic retribution, punishing and rewarding me based upon my actions and behavior.


The Truth was God was born to a humble family in an obscure village. He was a simple carpenter and His ministry lasted three years. During this brief period, He was rejected by His own brothers and sisters and betrayed by His friends. The Truth was God suffered and died for my sins. This was not what I was expecting. Once I understood the selfless sacrifice of Jesus Christ and what He did for me, I repented of my sinful attitude and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.


My limited expectations about God were abundantly exceeded beyond anything I could ever conceive or imagine!
Praise God!


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


“Even When You’re Right, You’re Wrong!” (Matthew 28:16-17)

“Make sure you document the chain of custody with this specimen!”


My staff nodded, familiar with the protocol our company follows whenever a specimen is discovered to be labeled with an incorrect body site. There are at least three potential sources of error that can lead to the mislabeling of a biopsy site: the dermatologist submitting the specimen, the laboratory creating the microscopic slides, and our office that records the site into  the final diagnostic report. After reviewing our protocols and documenting every step in the process, we were assured that our lab was not responsible. After a few more painstaking minutes, we determined the likely source of the error was the submitting dermatologist’s office.


“Well, at least it wasn’t our fault!” My staff all managed a weak smile.


“Yes, it wasn’t.” I nodded to them in agreement, but I knew the issue was far from resolved. My arms akimbo, I resigned myself to the inevitable denial and accusation from our dermatology client. “Call up the dermatologist’s office and explain to them what happened. Make sure you mention the protocols that we have in place to identify the potential source of this error.” I rolled my eyes. “Hopefully, they will acknowledge the mislabeling occured at their office.” My staff looked at one another with perturbed expressions. “But we’ve all been down this road before. We can document every step and show them their error but in the end, they will probably not take responsibility and ownership of the problem and blame us.”


“Yes.” I shook my head dismissively. “Even when you’re right, you’re wrong!” It was another permutation of the aphorism, “The customer is always right.” No matter the documentation or witnesses that are presented, some will never be convinced, regardless of how compelling or comprehensive the evidence.


Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.

Matthew 28:16-17 (ESV)


The disciples of Jesus had spent the last three years of their life with Him. They witnessed His execution on the Cross. Three days later, He was resurrected from the dead and eventually appeared to all of them. Over the next forty days, Jesus appeared to nearly five hundred others. Many of them were in attendance when Jesus ascended to Heaven as recorded in this passage from the Bible. Yet, the Bible adds this chilling and sobering statement that some doubted. How much more evidence did they need?


Jesus died for all of our sins, but our sins could not keep Him in the grave. God raised Him from the dead, conquering the last enemy of mankind. The resurrection proves that all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior will be saved. The evidence is compelling and comprehensive. Examine it for yourself and be right, not wrong!


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


Polyrhythms (Psalms 94:19)

I love Latin music. The complex chordal harmonies. The lyrical melodies. But if I had to distill it to the one element that I adore, it would be the rhythm, specifically polyrhythms. Simplistically, this is any rhythm that combines two or more rhythms. Imagine three people clapping at different tempos. Now transpose this to a drummer on a drum set beating out four different rhythms with their hands or feet, add other percussionists on a clave or cowbell tapping out another rhythm, add a horn section accenting different beats of a measure, a piano player pounding out chords, and finally a singer, tying it all together with a melody that is introducing yet another rhythm! The sum of the parts is magnificent! If one focuses upon only one instrument or one rhythm, the focus of the entire composition is muddled, the theme of the music confused.


To correctly perform and interpret Latin music, one must master the rhythms. If this is not achieved, the music is simply notes, devoid of passion or direction. My life is no different. Disparate themes and activities, dissonant relationships, unexpected accents-by focusing and attempting to navigate one area, I lose control of the others. By my own efforts, I miserably fail. How can I manage these competing and conflicting priorities in my life? How can I find the rhythm?


When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

Psalms 94:19 (ESV)


God knows my frustrations and insecurities. Christianity is not a religion of do’s and don’ts, rituals, or behaving in a certain manner. Christianity is not a religion. It is not man attempting to reach God. Christianity is a relationship. It is God reaching out to man. By my own efforts, I can never find the peace, strength, or knowledge to understand the polyrhythms of life and make sense of the offbeat curve balls that batter my soul. Only a loving God who lived a life as a human can help me. Only Jesus Christ can help me. Jesus is God and lived a complete life as a human. He experienced the trials, frustrations, pain, and betrayals which I encounter. But unlike my responses, He did not wallow in self-pity and confusion. He continually sought God in everything He did. He lived a sinless life, completely devoted to God, the Father. And because of His faithfulness, if I confess and repent of my sins, and accept Him as my Lord and Savior, He is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins and accept me as a fellow child of God.


The polyrhythms of life can only be interpreted by God, the Master Conductor!


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


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