“I Never Said That!” (2 Samuel 15:2-6)

Many years ago, my former laboratory made an acquisition of another laboratory. As the medical director, I was tasked with interviewing the senior managers who oversaw different departments in the acquired laboratory. One of the managers strode into my office with a confident gait and extended his hand.


“Dr. Shitabata? Hi, I’m Jake!”


Returning his firm handshake, I launched into our interview. “I reviewed your resume, you have a great deal of experience. I am sure you will fit in very well with our laboratory.”


He nodded but appeared to ignore my comment. “I need to be honest with you. I’m used to running things my way. I’ve been running my department for twenty years. I do good work. I would like you to put me in charge of this department.”


Whoa. That was an unexpectedly brash request that I was not expecting. I cautiously replied. “Well, Stuart has been in the manager in that department for about the same amount of time. He is excellent.  I think the two of you would get along fine but he is in charge there, you would work under him.”


“I see.” His face fell. “I think you will be very impressed what I can do for you. I already spoke to John, the laboratory manager, and he was supportive of my idea.”


“Oh really?” I smiled. “Let me meet with John and we will see what can be done.”


“Super duper!” He shook my hand and exited, as confidently as he had entered.


Later that afternoon, John, my laboratory manager, stopped by my office. “Dr. S? Do you have a minute?”


“Sure thing…what’s up?”


“I need to talk to you about Jake. He said that you promised him that you would make him the manager of his department.”


I looked at John who had a perturbed look on his face. “Jake said that?”


“Yes! Why would you do this and go over my head and hurt Stuart as well?”


Things were quickly unraveling. “Hang on! I never said that! In fact, Jake told me that he already had spoken to you and you approved the changes!”


We both realized what was happening, we were being played by Jake. We immediately called a meeting of the senior management and recounted the events. Jake eventually left our laboratory after two weeks, disgruntled that we were unable to see the vast potential he was so self-assured he possessed. Welcome to the world of business relationships!


Duplicitous behavior, clandestine relationships, lies, and deceit. In business and in life, nearly all of us must deal with these and similar incidents. I was fortunate to find out about the circumstances from my manager, but for every lie that is exposed, countless others are perpetrated and relationships irreparably damaged.


And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,”  Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him.  Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

2 Samuel 15:2-6 (ESV)


King David discovered too late that his favorite son, Absalom, was plotting to seize the throne from him, by stealing the hearts of the people by spreading lies that his father did not care for them. Although David eventually regained his throne, it cost Absalom his life.


Duplicitous behavior led to the loss of one of our employees, it cost David his son and betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ to the Cross. God understands the hurt and scheming that we are prone to perpetrate upon one another. Secular psychologists blame our genetics, our environment, everything but the true source.


It is our sinful nature and there is only one solution. We must confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Only then, can our lives be held to an absolute standard of Good. There are no secrets before God and only He is worthy to judge our intentions and actions.


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



Comfort Assured! (Romans 8:38-39)

I have a cousin whose hobby is graphic design. I first viewed her work when her mother, my aunt, sent me a Christmas card. It was stunningly beautiful, complete with a matching envelope and a personalized message.  When my aunt informed me that my cousin designed it, I immediately contacted her and ordered several sets for gifts and announcements, delighting all who received the decorative creations.


Recently, I asked my cousin to design some sympathy cards utilizing a similar design theme. Through successive emails, we worked through various envelope and card designs and I simultaneously submitted different wording that would be printed on the inside of the card. After several exchanges, I sent her the following:


May God Surround You with His Peace and Comfort


However, I was still having second thoughts and wrote below the phrase, “Though I am still unsure….”


She sent me a mock-up of the card and after viewing it in the card, I approved the final draft. A few weeks later, she stopped by my office and presented me with the finished version. Elegant and dignified, I was pleased with the envelope and card cover. I then opened the card to read the following…


May God Surround You with His Peace and Comfort

Though I am still unsure…


We both laughed uproariously, realizing what happened. It was no problem to change the insert of the card and delete the last phrase. However, I insisted on keeping one to show to others as a joke.


For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39 (NASB)


My message is the antithesis of God’s promise to us. I may be unsure but thanks be to God that He never is!


God’s comfort is always assured, even when we are unsure!


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



“I Need To Speak To Billing” (Genesis 4:7)

“I need to speak to someone in billing!”


The woman on the phone was obviously perturbed. My biller politely responded to her call. “How may I assist you?”


“I have a bill that I need to pay you but I want to explain why I am late on the payment. I placed the check in a US post office receptacle, you know, the ones on the corners of the street?”




“Well, I just found out today that someone broke into the receptacle found my check and whited-out the amount I wrote in and your company name. I owed you $107.74 but when I viewed my online statement for the bank, it stated that I owed $600 to this thief! After I resolved the issue with the bank, I realized I still owed you the money so this is why I am calling you, because I don’t want you to think I am late and you will send me to collections.”


My biller was stunned by the revelation. “That is terrible what happened to you! Of course, we understand and we thank you for calling and informing us.”


When she shared this story with me, I simply shook my head. “I am surprised, but not surprised. People will go to great effort to lie and steal.”


If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.

Genesis 4:7 (ESV)


In this passage from the Book of Genesis, God directly spoke to Cain and warned him that his angry thoughts were leading him down a slippery slope, one that may end in disaster. Did Cain listen? A brief time later, Cain killed his brother Abel-the first murder. Cain was resentful of his brother but God warned him that he did not have to act upon his thoughts. Cain willfully ignored God and began a bloody tradition that haunts all of humanity to this day.


Cain had a choice. He was angry but he chose to act out his resentment. We all face temptations in this life, this is no sin. If we act upon it, then we enter the point of no return. We must rule over it.


The thief who defrauded our patient was confronted with several choices, whether to break into the postal box or walk away. Even after breaking in, the thief did not have to fraudulently alter the check. There were many opportunities to avoid sinning or compound the sin. All were squandered.


We do not become a sinner because we sin. We sin because we are sinners. We desperately need a Savior, one who can rescue us from this deplorable state. Only by confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior can we break the vicious cycle of sin and deceit. Only then will be able to rule over sin.


Thanks be to God for his grace and mercy in giving His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Redeemer.


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




College Lore (John 5:2-4)

“It was one of our school’s worst losing streaks.“


The college tour guide was shaking his head as he surveyed our group of prospective students with their parents. We were standing in front of a bronze statue of a revered football coach who led the college to numerous national championships. After he passed away, the school honored him with this statue and after its completion, eagerly looked forward to more national championships, inspired by this heroic statue. Unexpectedly, the school entered several years of consecutive losing seasons. Everyone was dismayed and searched for an explanation.


Our tour guide directed our attention to another part of the garden. Emerging from the foliage was another statue, a beautiful woman, almost angelic in appearance. Pointing at the statue, our guide instructed us. “Look at the statue of the woman. It is in a direct line of sight with the coach. Some students were concerned the coach was being distracted from watching over our football team and that’s why we were losing. One day, before our first football game of the season, they placed a blindfold over the eyes of the statue of our beloved coach. This way, the coach couldn’t gaze at the statue of the young angel across the garden and be distracted.”  The tour guide was now grinning. “Well, you all know what happened. We began one of our longest winning streaks in the history of our school!” Chuckles erupted from the group. “Now, before every football game, a blindfold is placed over the eyes of the coach so he won’t be distracted and he can focus on helping his school win!”


College lore.


Every college and university has unique stories and traditions. I love listening and learning about these historical windows into our great educational institutions. It is a direct emotional connection to the past, beyond the academic and athletic accolades that can readily be found by researching a school’s website or publications. It places a human face on the structures and campuses.


The Bible is replete with fascinating stories that were undoubtedly passed down through generations of believers. Like the amusing story of the statue of the coach, we may smile and wonder if there is any truth to this seeming coincidence of events. Is this a supernatural occurrence or merely an amusing coincidence?


Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.  In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

John 5:2-4 (NKJV)


In this passage from the Gospel of John, a tradition of unknown origin had emerged from those attending the pool at Bethesda. Many were there at the pool that day, including one man, sick for thirty-eight years. He had seemingly missed his opportunity to be healed, but an even greater miracle was about to happen.


Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.

John 5:5-9 (NKJV)


While there may be doubt over the authenticity of past healings at the pool of Bethesda, there can be no doubt over what happened when Jesus appeared. He healed a paralytic who then witnessed to all who knew him about his miraculous rebirth. This was no amusing coincidence, merely being in the right place at the right time. This was a supernatural intervention by the God of this universe! This man was miraculously healed by Jesus.


Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

John 5:14-15 (ESV)


Jesus Christ entered into the lore of the day and created His own Truth. He showed us that by confessing and repenting of our sins, we will be redeemed and saved. We will be made well and whole through the power of His resurrection.


Jesus Christ is no lore. He is the Eternal Truth!


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


”Everything Is Good!” (John 16:33)

​The restaurant was completely filled, unusual for a Wednesday night. I surmised that the food must be good to attract such a large crowd. The menu offered several tantalizing choices and I needed help from our server who appeared after a few minutes.


“Are you ready to order?”


I nodded and asked her, “Almost. I need some help in deciding. So, what’s good?” I asked the question, expecting the usually polite and often disingenuous, “Everything is good!” Instead, she replied, “I would highly recommend the short ribs and the squid ink pasta.” Pausing briefly, as if unsure whether she should continue, she said, “But I would not recommend the meatloaf.”


“Really?” I was shocked. “You know, I really respect what you just said. Most servers would give me a blanket statement and tell me everything is good when I know that couldn’t possibly be true. You’re actually telling me the truth!”


She laughed. “Well, everything is good!” She winked and smiled. “But almost everyone who has this meatloaf dish tells me they don’t like it.”


I felt like ordering that dish just because of her honesty but decided upon another.


No. Not everything is good.


There are some Christians, including pastors and theologians, who expound that the Christian life means no more worries. All financial woes, health issues, and relationship problems will be solved. Everything is good. This needs qualification.


I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 (ESV)


When I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, my life dramatically changed. I did expect things to go smoother and many things did, but God never promised me that all problems would disappear. Jesus bluntly told His disciples that by following Him, they would have troubles and tribulation. They may not have understood what that meant at that time, but they soon learned it meant separation from family, beatings, torture, and even death.


Was everything good?


And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:38 (ESV)


Titles, education, wealth-the disciples knew that all of these were worthless compared to the unsurpassed knowledge of knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They gladly accepted salvation and eternal life in exchange for any temporary hardships they may face in this life.


This relationship with God is available to you if you confess and repent of your sins and call upon His Name. He promises to never leave you nor forsake you. Once you do, everything is good because God will conform and transform your life into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. He will allow you to see that everything, even pain, and heartache, happens as part of His beautiful and perfect plan for your life.


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



”Stand Up Straight!” (2 Chronicles 32:24-25)

The usual morning rush was at a peak in our home. As I was rushing out the door, my wife called out to me. “Hang on!” I was standing next to my daughter when my wife noticed something. “Stand up straight, both of you!”


My daughter and I looked at each other, shrugging our shoulders, then obeying my wife’s request. My wife eyed both of us and declared, “Sweetheart, you are now the same height as Daddy!”


My daughter was always conscious that she was just a few millimeters shorter than I but also aware that she had stopped growing, so she countered, “But I’m not growing anymore!”


I shook my head and said, “No sweetheart, you’re not growing. Daddy is shrinking!”


An unfortunate and inevitable consequence of aging is we lose height. Our vertebrae, through years of compression and the effects of gravity, are compacted and this results in a discernible and measurable loss of height, one that my family was now aware. To paraphrase John the Baptist, my daughter was increasing and I was decreasing!


There are many thrilling and inspiring stories of great saints of the Bible finishing well. Abraham, Moses, King David, and Steven are just a few who died with a legacy of faithfulness. Others were not as fortunate. King Hezekiah led the Kingdom of Judah and enacted sweeping reforms of the religious life, restoring the temple worship, reinstituting the celebration of the Passover, and rallying the people to withstand an assault by the  Assyrian army. God even healed Hezekiah of a mortal illness, granting him an additional fifteen years of life. Hezekiah was very blessed by God for his faithfulness but at the height of these blessings, he stumbled over his pride.


In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death, and he prayed to the Lord, and he answered him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 32:24-25 (ESV)


In this last quarter of my life, I am physically diminishing, this is inevitable. I pray to God that I will be able to finish strong not be spiritually diminished. God has given me so many reminders of the great saints who rested on their laurels and grew lax in their spiritual discipline and devotion to God during the final years of their life. Hezekiah turned his back upon God which led to decisions that led to the disclosure of vital strategic information of Jerusalem’s defenses and their eventual capture and destruction by Babylon.


Stand up straight! I will and seek the Lord until, by His grace and mercy, I stand in His presence in Heaven.


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



“One Hundred Eighty-Eight and a Half!” (Revelation 4:8)

The mellifluous musical strains filled the theater as the familiar melodies of The Phantom of the Opera were being performed. It was a one-man show by the great stage actor and singer, Davis Gaines. Mr. Gaines has the singular distinction of playing the role of the Phantom the longest of any actor in a major production. His remarkable career spanned over forty years, garnering numerous awards for his artistry. For myself, his career was defined by his incomparable performance of the Phantom. Apparently, I am not alone.


Before Mr. Gaines began the final set of his performance, a tribute to the great songs of The Phantom, he addressed the audience, “How many of you have seen the Phantom?” The entire audience clapped as every hand was raised in unison. Mr. Gaines smiled broadly and began randomly asking people in the front rows, “How many times have you seen it?” Various answers were shouted, “Six…Three…Ten!”


“Ten? Very nice!” Mr. Gaines was beaming.


“One hundred eighty-eight and a half!”


A gentleman in the front row had shouted what seemed to be an outrageous number. “Wow! One hundred eighty-eight and a half. Why a half? Did you have to leave to go to the bathroom?”


The theater erupted in laughter. This gentleman was obviously obsessed with The Phantom and he proudly declared it. When we love something, it does not matter how many times we repeat the experience. It can be watching a favorite movie, participating in a favorite sporting activity, or attending a cherished musical. It never gets tired or old because we can always extract enjoyment and pleasure from the event.


And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

Revelation 4:8 (ESV)


Someday in Heaven, I will be able to join the multitudes of angels and saints who stand before God, continually worshipping and praising Him. Time will be meaningless as my sole activity will be to repeat my praises and thankfulness to God. Will I be bored? Will it get old? How can it be? If God did not offer me salvation and eternal life by confessing and repenting of my sins and accepting Jesus Christ, His Son, as my Lord and Savior, I would be condemned to an eternity of torment and separation from God. I would be in hell, forever tortured by my refusal to accept the greatest offer of love and sacrifice that the Creator of the universe could ever offer me.


One hundred eighty-eight times!


In Heaven, this will only be the beginning of endless praise!


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


My First Microscope (2 Kings 6:16-17)

It stood about one foot high, an intricate composition of metal, glass, and plastic. A small mirror reflected light to illuminate a single eyepiece. It was my first microscope, my Christmas present from my parents, and initiated me on a journey that continues to this day.


My father helped me set it up and to my delight said, “Let’s go to the drainage canal and get something to look at!” I was intrigued and eagerly followed him as he knelt before the stream and collected a sample of water. Taking a medicine dropper, he placed a drop of the water on a glass microscope slide and carefully positioned a coverslip over it. Deftly adjusting the focus, he scanned the slide for a few seconds and found what he was seeking.


“Look at this, son!”


It was my first time using a microscope and I clumsily fumbled with it, eager to explore my new toy. My eye focused upon the image my father had isolated for me, two microbes were battling. “The smaller one is the paramecium and the larger one is an amoeba.” I marveled at my father’s knowledge. “Watch what happens!”


In a few seconds, the paramecium wandered into the pseudopod extensions of the larger amoeba and was engulfed by it. Like an animal caught in quicksand, it wiggled and writhed until it slowly began to disappear, digested by the amoeba. It was so much drama contained in a single drop of water! My senses were immediately expanded to appreciate the unseen world, to respect the possibilities that could be experienced beyond what my unassisted senses were able to perceive.


He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

2 Kings 6:16-17 (ESV)


The Syrian army was bearing down upon Israel, causing widespread panic because of fear of their impending slaughter. The prophet Elisha reassured the Israelites that God’s armies of angels were protecting all of them. It was a vision of the spiritual world, one which human eyes are only rarely given a glimpse.


When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was introduced to the unseen spiritual world. As a physician, trained in the empirical sciences, I only placed my faith and trust in data and phenomena that I could verify and experience with my own senses. This was further reinforced when I became a pathologist. As I daily peered into a microscopic world and dissected an increasingly complex collection of cells and organelles, I was convinced that all the intricacies of life could eventually be understood, given the proper equipment and technology.


God, through His Holy Spirit, slowly changed my heart. I witnessed lives changed and relationships restored when all hope was abandoned. I experienced events in my life and in others that could not be explained by purely empirical reasoning but only by answered prayers to God. My spiritual eyes were open and I believed.


Our world is natural and supernatural, physical and spiritual. May we all see this world with spiritual eyes through faith and belief in Jesus Christ.


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



Crosshairs (Proverbs 16:6-7)

Several years ago, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur quipped that a company is not truly a success until it is sued by another for a patent infringement. Whether true or not, success invites competition. It can be healthy or destructive depending upon the players. I recently found my company in the crosshairs of several competing laboratories.


My laboratory is not large but it is strategically positioned and aligned with several academic teaching centers. These other laboratories have decided that my laboratory is a point of entry to expand their businesses and client base. For the past month, my character and reputation have been under attack by people that I am only casually acquainted. The attacks have focused upon minimizing my importance to the centers where I teach, denigrating my expertise and experience. It is bewildering and disheartening that these people would so readily cast aspersions through emails and external phone conversations and be unwilling or uncaring to directly confront me. Without lifting a finger, I have acquired a cadre of enemies.


By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Proverbs 16:6-7 (ESV)


It is not surprising that the Holy Spirit placed these verses next to each other. It is a reminder that through faith and love, we come to God to atone for our sins. In so doing, He gives us the strength and fortitude to turn away from evil and even makes our enemies to be at peace with us.


As I write this, I am still uncertain how these events will ultimately resolve. Meanwhile, I will cling to the promise that God gives me through His Word and pray and remain faithful to God. I will not return these evil actions with evil but will seek to be wise and wait for God to act, to reveal options that I can use or even gain new alliances. I will not limit God’s work but will limit my usual impetuous behavior to attempt to control a situation. Whatever the outcome, if I remain faithful to God, He will be honored and His will be done.


I wait upon you Lord.


Thank you for your Word which is always faithful and true through faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.


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


“Is It Worth It?” (Luke 15:4-7)

The other day I was grousing to a friend over the phone about some clients who make my life very trying. After several minutes of venting, I concluded, “You know, I love my job but at times, it is really painful. It’s those few customers that I can never seem to please, no matter what I do.”


My friend is a successful businessman, highly skilled in the sale of medical equipment. He has successfully navigated the polarizing world of hospital politics, able to bridge the behavioral chasms between physicians, nursing staff, and hospital administrators. After listening to my rant, he offered his advice. “So I heard two things you said. First, you love what you are doing and second, there are a few customers that make your life unpleasant.”




“Let me ask you this. Is it worth the hours of aggravation to preserve these few relationships, or is it better to let them go? If these clients comprise 10% of your entire customer list but cause you so much grief, do the math. Is it worth giving up 10 minutes every hour to have this much anxiety, anxiety that lasts much longer than 10 minutes?”


“I don’t know…” I mumbled.


“Listen, I have clients who are never happy with what I do. I used to agonize other what I could for them and ending up expending a tremendous amount of mental energy. One day, I realized that life is too short to let 10% of my life cause me so much heartache, so I dismissed these clients and you know what, I have never been happier!”


I nodded at the disturbing but sage revelation. In business, no one ever wants to lose or dismiss a customer, but sometimes a difficult decision needs to be made and a relationship must end by agreeing to part ways. I reluctantly agreed with my friend to consider his advice.


“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. 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 15:4-7 (ESV)


What a contrast in behavior Jesus Christ gives to those who criticized Him for eating with sinners. His reply to his critics was a beautiful example of the expansiveness of the love He has for all of us. We are the lost sheep, wandering away from Jesus, our Great Shepherd. Jesus makes the effort to find us and bring us back into a relationship with Him.


Is it worth it?


Jesus Christ gave His life for those who hated and cursed Him with their dying breath. He did it because He loved us so much and did not want any to perish but for all to have eternal life and salvation by confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.


In business, some relationships need to end. Thanks be to God that He will never end His relationship with us and will go to the ends of the earth to offer us the opportunity to restore the broken relationship that sin has wrought between God and man.


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