“What Is Missing?” (2 Peter 3:15-17)

Several years ago, I visited a new church. The greeters were amicable and eager to welcome me and as I entered, I was met with the sounds of an excellent worship team, leading the congregation in a contemporary song. I felt very comfortable hearing familiar songs and receiving warm greetings. As I sat in my seat, I perused the program I was handed and was drawn to the statement of beliefs. Carefully reading it, I was struck by the emphasis on being a family-oriented church. In fact, it explicitly stated their church was focused upon thirty-somethings but all ages were welcome. Polite, supportive, friendly-all familiar and comforting words, but somehow, superficial for a statement of beliefs.


As I listened to the reading of the Scripture, I was confused by the unfamiliar sound of the verses for what should have been a very common Bible passage. I realized the Bible translation the church was using was unknown to me. On my smartphone, I had an app that contained dozens of Bible translations but this one was not found. No worries, I thought, I will investigate later but first,​ I needed to​ listen to what the pastor had to say. The sermon lasted 45 minutes and certainly echoed the themes that were expounded in the statement of beliefs. After the service, I reflected upon the message and statement and reflected, “What is missing?”


There was nothing about Jesus Christ nor was there any mention of the Bible or of the pathway to salvation, the need to confess and repent of our sins to Jesus Christ and accept Him as Lord and Savior. I knew that these omissions did not necessarily mean this church did not believe in this but, if this was their statement of faith, their foundational tenets should be clearly stated. I realized that I needed to learn more about this Bible translation and the denomination of Christianity this church followed.


When I returned home, I researched the origins of this Bible translation and the denomination of Christianity expounded by this pastor and church. The translation was relatively recent, and to my surprise and alarm, nearly all done by one person. Investigating more, I learned that the translator adhered to a fringe sect of Christianity. While it appeared to follow much of mainstream Christianity, major doctrinal differences were present, even with a cursory examination. It was a diluted and watered down version of the Gospel. I reluctantly came to the conclusion that this church, although welcoming, was not following the true message of Jesus Christ.


The Bible is the Word of God, inspired and inerrant. Any reputable Bible translation is the result of dozens of translators, from many different Christian denominations, minimizing the possibility of doctrinal or personal biases. The ESV (English Standard Version) is the translation that I prefer, but whenever I read a passage, I compare it to several other translations including the King James Authorized Version, New American Standard, New International Version, and the New Life Translation. I also examine the English words with Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, examining the original meaning. There are still passages that are difficult to understand, eliciting considerable debate about the true meaning, even amongst theologians. Yet, an overriding principle is allowing the Bible to interpret itself. It must be internally consistent. A passage cannot present Jesus as anything less than God. This new translation fails this test. In several passages, new ideas, foreign or even contradictory to Christianity are added. These passages had no origin in the original Greek and Hebrew texts and were added by the translator to support his theological contentions and sect. Subtle? Yes. Heretical? Most certainly.


And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

2 Peter 3:15-17 (ESV)


Thousands of years ago, the Apostle Peter warned Christian believers about this same danger. Peter even pointed out that his fellow brother in the Lord, the Apostle Paul, wrote things that were sometimes difficult to explain. Instead of consulting with others and praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance and inspiration, false teachers inserted their own interpretations of Paul’s writings, resulting in the dissemination of false teachings.


What is missing?


Christianity will always be centered upon Jesus Christ. Only by confessing and repenting of one’s sins and accepting Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior will one receive salvation. Nothing is missing when Jesus Christ and His true teachings, as revealed through the Bible, are at the center of one’s life.




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


Tough Love (Galatians 2:11-14)

Tough love.


It almost sounds like an oxymoron. Most instances trumpet a noble cause that one party must be stern with the other because of purely selfless and altruistic motives. Sad stories abound of parents placing their child in a rehabilitation center for an out of control drug habit. There are accounts of friends confronting one of their own about a gambling problem that has placed the friend’s family in severe financial straits. Yet, others will use it to exert their will over another, cloaked under the pretext of tough love.


But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Galatians 2:11-14 (ESV)


In this passage from Galatians, Paul recounts one of his early encounters with Peter (Cephas), confronting him about his apparent hypocrisy in eating with the Gentile believers. When other Jewish believers arrived, Peter withdrew from the Gentiles, insisting they follow Jewish dietary laws. Lest anyone accuse Paul of attempting to exert his will over Peter, under the pretext of tough love, Paul concludes the passage with this stirring declaration. He was making it clear that he only confronted Peter to be consistent with the reason Jesus Christ died and was resurrected, to fulfill the Law and show everyone a new life and path to a relationship with God.


For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:18-20 (ESV)


The Apostles Paul and Peter were two of the most important figures of the early Christian church. United in their passion and zeal to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they were a fascinating study in contrasts of temperament, methods, and backgrounds. Not surprising, they also bumped heads. Frankly, I think Paul may have been a very difficult man with whom to work. He had such high standards for himself and, undoubtedly for everyone he met. Although I aspire to be like Paul, my namesake, I usually behave like Peter, putting my foot in my mouth and acting before I think. If I had worked with Paul, I know I would have often disappointed him and be on the receiving end of his tough love!


Tough love.


Thanks be to Jesus Christ that His tough love confronts and leads us to realize that all who confess and repent of their sins will be granted salvation and eternal life in His Name.


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



Necktie Hazard (2 Samuel 18:9)

A recent article published in the medical journal Neuroradiology offered an intriguing analysis of men who wear neckties. The study compared two groups of men, one wearing neckties and one without neckties. A baseline MRI measuring cerebral blood flow was obtained for both groups. Following the measurement, the group wearing the neckties had their shirt collars closed and the necktie tightened into a standard Windsor knot, immediately followed by another MRI. Finally, the neckties were loosened and collar buttons opened and a final MRI was taken. In 13 of the 15 necktie subjects, the blood flow to the brain decreased an average of 7.5%. The study concluded that it may be important to study any immediate or long term cognitive effects and equally important, that doctors should consider not wearing neckties!

Source. Neuroradiology; 2018;60 (August): 861-864.


Neckties have been a part of our fashion ensembles since the 17th century. Four centuries is a long time for a fashion trend to remain but even before this latest medical study, many have questioned the merit and potential health hazards of literally wearing a noose around one’s neck. This study confirms that we need to be cautious with our attire.


Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king’s weight.

2 Samuel 14:25-26 (ESV)


When I think of fashions that may lead to physical harm, I think of King David’s first born son, Absalom, and his glorious head of hair. The Bible records the tragic tale of how Absalom rebelled against his father, attempting to usurp his kingdom. Hunted down by David’s top military commanders, Absalom was on the run when his beautiful and luxurious hair was caught in a low hanging tree.


Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.

2 Samuel 18:9 (NIV)


When he was discovered, he was impaled and killed by David’s commanders. Yes indeed, fashionable attires and appearances can be hazardous to one’s health!


I always marvel how the Bible can insert seemingly minute pieces of historical information that have immediate relevance for the modern world. Spanning thousands of years, the riches of God’s Word never cease to impress upon me the timely relevance of His Wisdom.


Praise God!


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


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“My Dentist Saved My Life!” (Joshua 2:8-9)

“So, I had not seen a dentist for 15 years, but after we became friends with Jake, I thought it was time!”


My wife and I were sharing a festive dinner with several other couples. My friend, a physician at the dinner, was effusive of Jake’s skill, his new dentist, seated next to him. “Jake was great!” My friend continued. “I knew I would probably need a lot of work and before he started, he checked my blood pressure.”


Many of us sitting at the table were physicians and duly impressed by Jake’s compulsiveness. “That’s very commendable, Jake!” I chimed in. “My father was a dentist but I cannot ever recall him checking a patient’s blood pressure.”


Jake nodded. “I know, but we were trained to do this and most dentists don’t check it. I do it with all new patients. Tell you a story?” We were eagerly hanging on Jake’s words.


“This woman came to my office a few years ago. She had not been to a dentist for several years and wanted a checkup. As usual, I checked her blood pressure and noticed an irregularity. I was concerned and told her that I wanted her to be cleared by her primary care physician before we started on her dental work. She was a bit annoyed but she agreed. I didn’t see her back at my office until a year and a half later and she told me an amazing story. Her primary care physician referred her to a cardiologist who did additional testing. She underwent cardiac bypass surgery and extensive rehabilitation. Now she was finally able to see me for the dental problem that started all of this!”


We were astounded by this story!


“When I saw her, she told me, ‘Doctor, if you did not refer me to my primary care doctor, I would never have learned of my heart condition. I tell everyone, ‘My dentist saved my life!’ “


We expect an attorney to assist us with legal matters but most of us would not immediately think of our dentist as the healthcare professional who would identify a heart problem. Help sometimes comes to us in unexpected ways and individuals.


Rahab was a prostitute living in the city of Jericho. When two Jewish men sent by their leader, Joshua, came to spy and survey the city, she protected them. As city officials searched her house, she hid the spies on her roof. After she misdirected the officials to search elsewhere she confided to the spies why she helped them.


she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.”

Joshua 2:8-9 (ESV)


After listening to her testimony, these men promised to save Rahab and her family from the imminent attack of their city. Rahab’s background and profession were unimportant, it was her faith and courage that was honored and accepted by God, placing her in an esteemed position with the great saints of the Bible.


Help from unexpected sources. God will use anyone and every circumstance to break through our cloud of sins to accept His Son, Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.


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


“Going, Going, Gone…” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“Sold for $1.4 million dollars!”


The fabled auction house, Sotheby’s in London, was electrified as the auctioneer slammed the gavel, announcing the sale. It was an artwork by the popular and controversial artist, Banksy. Suddenly, the room erupted into gasps as the painting disappeared from its frame and was obliterated, destroyed by a shredder hidden in the bottom of the picture frame.


At about the same time, Banksy, the artist, posted a photo of the shredding on his social media page with the phrase, “Going, going, gone…” It was an extraordinarily expensive and outrageous prank, concocted and orchestrated by the artist. Art critics and observers, familiar with the artist’s penchant for notorious antics, were flabbergasted. One spokesman for Sotheby’s lamented, “It appears we have been Banksy-ed!” Banksy, himself, later quoted Picasso on his social media site, stating, “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”

Source CNN


Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)


The sale price of this coveted work of art was worth more money than many people make in a lifetime and in seconds, it was gone. It was a poignant reminder of how fleeting our possessions and treasures can be and a modern parable that illustrates the wisdom that Jesus Christ expounded to His followers thousands of years ago.


Going, going, gone.


Only by focusing upon the eternal truths of God instead of the ephemeral offerings of this life will our desires be satisfied. No earthly treasure can compare to the unsurpassed riches of knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.




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


Overutilization (John 12:4-6)

Pathologists are the physician specialists that oversee the laboratory testing of blood and body fluids and surgical biopsies. A residency training of four to five years provides the knowledge and expertise to expertly and cost-effectively manage laboratory testing for all other physicians, patients, and healthcare facilities. For decades, no one questioned or intruded upon this relationship. By the 1970’s, this relationship began to change. Physicians, untrained in pathology, started their own laboratories and began ordering these laboratory tests, without the oversight of pathologists. Soon, test ordering for each medical and surgical subspecialty accelerated. It was a new revenue stream for these physicians and they were not going to miss the opportunity to capitalize on this opportunity.


Not surprisingly, critics and whistleblowers soon leveled charges of overutilization. Denials were issued from several physician professional organizations averring that the tests were necessary for patient care and the decisions to order the tests should be left with physicians, qualified to make these decisions, instead of bureaucrats and insurance companies. Eventually, the federal government stepped in and enacted stricter regulations and selectively limited the ordering of some tests. Nonetheless, the abuses continued. When we are left to police our own actions, it may be difficult to maintain an objective oversight. Compound this with a profit motive, and the effort may be further hampered, in spite of our best intentions.


But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.

John 12:4-6 (ESV)


Judas Iscariot was one of Jesus’ disciples and the keeper of the moneybag that supported their ministry. He was also a thief. Even living for three years with the Messiah, God Incarnate, was an insufficient deterrent for Judas to resist the temptation of stealing from the same treasury that was used to support his Master’s ministry.


Contrast Judas’ behavior with the tax collector, Zacchaeus. In Jesus’ day, tax collectors were viewed with disdain, traitors to their fellow Jews, branded as sell outs to the occupying Romans, for whom they collected taxes from their own kinsmen. The temptation to collect more than was legally required, to line their own pockets, was always present and nearly all tax collectors engaged in these shenanigans. Zacchaeus was not an exception. Yet, when confronted with the Absolute Goodness and Truth of Jesus Christ, he confessed his illegal actions and repented.


And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

Luke 19:8 (ESV)


Two men, both in the presence of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. One succumbed to the temptation to steal and the other repented and atoned of his sins. It is a sobering reminder of how difficult is to be objective when easy money is involved.


Overutilization, lack of oversight, easy money. God knows and sees our true heart. We may attempt to hide our evil desires and sins, cloaking them in lofty and moral language or disguising them with noble motives, but God knows.


Confess and repent your sins to Jesus Christ and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. Let Him have oversight in your life and utilize you for His glory.


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


“It’s The Struggle!” (Ecclesiastes 12:12-13)

The roaring blue-green ocean wafted its familiar and beguiling scent to me. Nearly three hundred yards away, a tiny island of green also beckoned and simultaneously mocked me. My arms akimbo, I surveyed the postcard-like scene. It was the most picturesque and difficult hole on the golf course. Every few seconds, the white surf crashing on the rocks below sufficiently cleared so that I could discern dozens of white golf balls, evidence of years of failed attempts.

Be the ball! Dozens of other aphorisms raced through my mind as I attempted to picture the flight of a perfectly struck ball, sailing over the yawning aqueous canyon, and alighting a few feet from the hole. I confidently stepped up to the tee and after a few waggles and practice swings, addressed the ever smaller white ball. With one final glance at the flagstick whipping in the wind, I swung. Be the ball! Be the ball! I repeated this phrase as I watched the ball disappear into the ocean. My friend and playing partner smiled and patted me on my back. “Don’t worry, it’s not the score that matters. It’s the struggle!”


I often thought the friendly words of advice my friend gave me were just an excuse to justify my perennial bad playing. Yet, when I paused and reflected, I realized that I could probably play every day for the next ten years and still never achieve the level of excellence that would even qualify me to be a ball washer at the local public golf course. I knew the end goal, the score, I was attempting to achieve, but perhaps it was the struggle that was more important.

My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Ecclesiastes 12:12-13 (ESV)

The man who wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes echoed a similar sentiment. Many believe the author was King Solomon, the wisest and richest king that ever ruled Israel. He was willing to experience everything, including a hedonistic and ascetic lifestyle, in an attempt to understand life and what it meant to live in a relationship with God. Along the way, he made many mistakes, including marrying many foreign wives, allowing them to turn his heart away from God and worship idols and false gods. At the end of his life, he could confidently write that the end goal for himself and everyone was to fear God and keep His commandments. However, for him to reach this conclusion, he had to live this life. He had to struggle like all of us. His final conclusion was not a flippant or dismissive statement. It was the result of much pain, contemplation, and prayer.

God honors our struggle when we do it to become closer to Him. We will all make mistakes and there will be many tears but God’s patience with us is infinitely greater than our patience with ourselves.

Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy!

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



“I Was Vaccinated!” (John 10:27-29)

My friend’s mother was just diagnosed with shingles. As she recounted her mother’s plight, I reminded her that anyone who has not been vaccinated or previously had chickenpox is susceptible to contracting the disease since it was the same virus.


“Well, I don’t have to worry, I was vaccinated!”


“Yes, I am sure you were,” I replied. “But did you ever get checked to see if you seroconverted?”


She looked at me with a quizzical look. “Serocon….?”


I nodded. “Yes. Seroconverted. It is biological proof that the vaccine you received is generating antibodies to the virus. You were vaccinated but the only way to confirm that it worked is to get a blood test and test for antibodies to the virus. If present, you have seroconverted.”


“Wow, “ she said, shaking her head. “Didn’t realize it was so complex. Figure all one needs to do is get vaccinated and that’s it, you’re safe.”


Understandably, only someone with a medical background would be able to understand and further investigate the issue of the efficacy of any vaccination. Without this, one may have a false sense of security of protection, when in fact, one is susceptible to contracting the disease. There are many precautions we undertake in life, trusting our actions will make us safer. We purchase insurance; we get physical examinations; we deposit our money in banks. Like the biological nuances of vaccinations, there may be deeper, more intricate layers that do not reveal the complete truth. Insurance policies may not cover every catastrophic occurrence we may encounter. Physical examinations may not detect the subtle disturbance of heart rhythm that may signal an impending heart attack. Banks may fall victim to identity theft or cyber attacks that create fraudulent transactions.


My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

John 10:27-29 (ESV)


I was an atheist for many years. I listened to the preaching of other Christians, expounding upon the simplicity and beauty of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. Could it really be that simple? There had to be a catch! There must be a hidden clause, a back door where I may be shown the exit if I failed. When I first confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was assured that my salvation was secure and eternal. There were no additional layers of complexity or uncertainties. Jesus knows me better than I know myself and because He is God, He will always keep and protect me as His sheep.


There is no false sense of security when we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. It is eternal, secure, and irrevocable. Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God!




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


We Love This Guy! (Proverbs 22:29)

He’s the computer nerd, able to hack into a highly secure network to secure a favor for a girl he is trying to impress but continues to ignore him. He’s the boy genius who completed medical school at the age of 18 years, performing surgeries that would set a veteran surgeon quivering, yet cannot dance on beat.  


We love this guy!


This character finds different incarnations in numerous dramas, plays, musicals, and novels. We are drawn to him because we want him to succeed. He is the ultimate underdog and we all pull for him because we hope, that just this once, he will be the victor, the hero, and the good guy who doesn’t finish last.


Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

Proverbs 22:29 (ESV)

We all like happy endings, so does God! God blesses each of us with unique skills and talents. For some, it may be obvious, such as outstanding athletic abilities or a soaring intellect. I suspect that for many, including myself, the skills that God blesses us with may not be immediately obvious. We can certainly identify talents for which we have an aptitude, but there are always hidden talents, ones that may not be evident until the right moment when God presents us with the opportunity to use them. It may not even be a single talent but a combination of skills, forged together by God as a unique alloy for a single special moment in time. When that happens, God honors that person by placing him before kings and leaders. I think of the Apostle Paul, afflicted with a physical ailment that may have marred his appearance and speech. Paul was beaten, imprisoned, and branded a traitor to his Pharisaical Jewish tradition. Paul gave up all his titles, family name, educational accolades. He traveled the entire known world finally appearing before the Roman emperor Nero. He was an unlikely hero, the ultimate underdog, gifted by God to become the greatest missionary of the Good News of Jesus Christ.


God is the author of happy endings because He is the author of eternal life and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.




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




Too Many -isms! (Isaiah 9:7)

The new election cycle has restarted in the United States as candidates jockey for position in state primary elections, all leading to the November 2018 elections. This cycle is replete with labels of socialism, liberalism, conservatism, egalitarianism, capitalism, egalitarianism, totalitarianism, despotism, misogynism and sexism.


Too many -isms!


I will add one more to this list-American exceptionalism, the principle that the United States is unique compared to other nations because of its guiding principles of democracy and freedom. Exceptionalism is at the heart of many of these debates. The United States is the most powerful nation on this earth and because of its current position, it may be expedient to assume that the principles for which it stands must be good for the rest of the world.


America is less than 300 hundred years old and is only one in the line of numerous empires and countries in the history of this world, all once claiming their brand of exceptionalism. For sure, the principles of democracy and freedom have liberated millions of people leading to greater prosperity. Thus, when pundits voice opposition to American exceptionalism, this is often met with a hostile response, even charges of treason and unpatriotism. The question still remains, is there an ideal type of government? Is there a perfect leader?


Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9:7 (ESV)


When Jesus Christ returns to this earth, He will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will be an absolute monarch with unlimited power. Some of us are preconditioned to think the worst of absolute power, equating it with evil and despotism. Jesus is God and He will have the perfect government.


Too many -sims?


The only true exceptionalism is to look to Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith!

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