“Keep Your Friends Close…” (John 8:44)

“What? Really? He said that?”


I was speaking on the phone to a dermatology client with whom I had a professional relationship for over 15 years. Recently, the laboratory that was processing their tissue biopsies to produce their microscope slides had closed. I contacted another laboratory with whom we had a working relationship with two other dermatology clients. They happily agreed to speak to the dermatologist, eager to obtain a new account. The were so eager they aggressively attempted to steal the client away from me. Working within their lab was a rival dermatopathologist and they were using this opportunity to sell his credentials to my dermatology client. I learned of this when my client called me to complain about this predatory behavior.


“All they want to talk about is sending my cases to their dermatopathologist.” he shared with me on the conference call. “I told him that I am happy with you but they kept insisting. Finally I told them to stop calling and I would find another lab to process my biopsies.”


Angered by the betrayal of my presumed business associate, I bit my lip and with a measured voice replied, “Thank you for your loyalty to me! I will make sure we find an excellent tissue processing lab for you by next week.”


Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.


This quotation has been attributed to a variety of sources, including Sun Tzu and Machiavelli. However, it is probably most familiar as quoted by Michael Corleone in the movie, “The Godfather”. I naively trusted this laboratory while they were maneuvering to steal my clients.  After this revelation, I was proactive to monitor any hostile overtures this lab may take with my existing clients. The admonition is to know one’s enemy.


The Bible is replete with examples of betrayal. Adam betrayed Eve, diverting his responsibility of sinning against God and blaming her.  King David was betrayed by his son, Absalom. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, was betrayed by Judas, one of His own disciples. The source of the betrayal? Satan. He goads and tempts us with sin.


…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)


God is infinitely more powerful than Satan and Satan is keenly aware of this. Thus, he will do everything possible to convince us otherwise, even cloaking himself as a friend or trusted colleague. Satan is the enemy of God and of our souls. Know who your true enemy is. Always be wary of his schemes.


Greater is God within all believers than Satan who is in this world.


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


“I Don’t Speak English! (Acts 28:7)

“Turn there!”


The road was not registering on our GPS. In fact, very few of the roads were. We were in Burgundy, France, home to some of the most fabled wineries in the world. Acres of slopes of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes beckoned and we were eager to visit the chateaus for a wine tasting. But at this moment, all we truly desired to visit was a bathroom! Unfortunately a public bathroom was a rarity in this part of France and even more elusive in the middle of thousands of acres of grape vines.


“What about this place?”


It was a small house, set below the main road. An inconspicuous sign displayed the name of the winery and next to the sign, what looked like a bathroom or outhouse. I turned to my wife sitting next to me. “Let’s stop here and ask if we can use the bathroom!”


As we entered the gravel and dirt parking lot, a middle-aged gentleman emerged from the house. I exited my car and inquired in broken French whether we could use his bathroom. “Oui!” He nodded, pointing to the door. Within a few minutes, my wife and I were refreshed and ready to continue our excursion through the wineries. As we prepared to leave, I surveyed the current location, not even mentioned in our guidebooks, and suggested to my wife, “Let’s visit this winery!” We knocked on the door of the house and spied our host behind the counter, pouring wine tastings to two guests. We sat at the counter, nodding and smiling to the gathering and asked whether they had a price list for the wine tastings. My faltering attempts at communication were answered by our host, “I don’t speak english!” Several more futile attempts were to no avail. Disappointed, we rose to leave, just as one of patrons at the counter perked up and declared, “Ah I can help!”




He exchanged a few words in French with our host who then smiled and waved his hands.


“There is no charge!”


“No charge?”


A few more words were exchanged and our bilingual patron explained. “He said there is no charge for the tastings! Drink what he pours and if you like it, you may purchase it. No pressure!”


For the next two hours, we enjoyed the hospitality of our new friend. Singing, laughing, and sharing an encounter that would never had materialized if we had rigidly followed our guide book. Travel is indeed, so broadening! The most memorable times during our vacations are the unexpected surprises. The hidden village discovered on a wrong turn; the obscure restaurant frequented by only the locals; bonding with the winemaker and owner of a lovely boutique winery in Burgundy.


Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days.  It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him.  And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.  They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.

Acts 28:7-10 (ESV)


The Apostle Paul was being transported on a prison ship to Rome where he was to plead his case and present his testimony before the emperor. Although he was assured by God that he would make it to Rome, several life threatening disasters intervened, including a shipwreck on the island of Malta. God used this seeming detour to allow Paul to witness to the Roman governor, Publius, by using Paul to heal the governor’s father. Because of this, Publius and many others accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. History later records that Publius became the first Bishop of Malta.


So often in my spiritual walk with God, I want to have my pathway completely mapped out. I view detours and potholes with frustration and impatience. But with my retrospective eye, I realize that it is during these seemingly annoying reroutings, that God is creating yet another opportunity to demonstrate His Majesty! His Providence overrides my preconceived map of what I expect my life should be. And Praise God that He does this!


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


“Aren’t You An Expert?” (Luke 5:4-6)

As a physician, I am frequently curb-sided by strangers eager to share their expertise with me regarding health-related issues. The internet has exponentially expanded the information available to the health professional and layperson alike and, although I am chagrined to admit it, there have been occasions when I have learned about a new treatment or diagnostic test from these random conversations. If I divulge that I was unaware of this information, I am sometimes met with a snide comment like, “You didn’t know this? But aren’t you an expert?”


And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.

Luke 5:4-6 (ESV)


Simon Peter was a fisherman before He met Jesus Christ. I can just imagine the irritation and resentment Peter must have felt when Jesus instructed him to cast his nets, once again, after a fruitless night of fishing? Who is this amateur telling me how to do my job? I’m the expert here, not you! What was Peter’s response when he realized that Jesus’ advice was correct?


But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

Luke 5:8 (ESV)


Knowledge and expertise are important, but it must always be accompanied with a healthy dose of humility. I sometimes think I understand my situation and problems in life better than anyone. I may arrogantly refuse to listen to advice from others and even presume to think I know better than God. Needless to say, I am always proved wrong by Him. In the end, I am on my knees before God, asking for His forgiveness for my arrogant and sinful attitude.


Aren’t you the expert?


No. I am a sinner in desperate need for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to forgive me of my sins.


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


A Theory of Everything (1 Corinthians 15:16-20)

The late professor Stephen Hawking recently died, leaving behind a legacy of work that revolutionized astrophysics. His theories on black holes and the multiverse theory have inspired a new generation of scientists. What drove his passion? It was his pursuit for the theory of everything. In his own words, “A theory of everything would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we should know the mind of God.”


Hawking did not believe in God and died believing that he would simply cease to exist. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark…I believe the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe, and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife, either.”


For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:16-19 (ESV)


Skeptics like Hawking existed even in the first century, doubting that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. The Apostle Paul agreed that if Jesus was not resurrected, all Christians should be viewed with disdain and pity, believing a futile lie.


But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:20 (ESV)


It was not a lie! There were over five hundred eye witnesses to the Resurrection; there were hundreds of prophecies all fulfilled by the life of One Man. And what about the lives that were radically changed? The disciples of Jesus were transformed from cowering men, hiding in the shadows, to boldly proclaiming the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, willing to die to proclaim the Truth.


I can state with complete certitude that Professor Hawking now knows the Truth. The theory of everything is no longer a theory for him because, ironically, he now knows the mind of God. He will have the rest of eternity to contemplate this, separated from God who mercifully offered His only Son, Jesus Christ, to him as Lord and Savior.


The theory of everything is solved by Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.




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