Luvy (Psalms 84:11)

The ocean breeze wafted the familiar scents of salt and tropical flowers as our family scaled the jagged reef surrounding the secluded Hawaiian beach. Stopping only for the occasional wave that splattered and sprayed against the rocks, we continued to our destination, a small cove. Carved by the elements of nature, it afforded us a safe perch above the pounding waves. My sister handed me a bag and I stared at the powdery grey contents. After saying a brief prayer, I turned to my sister and asked her if she was ready. She nodded and she added her hands onto the bag.


“We love you Dad! Now you can always be with Luvy.”


Together, my sister and I gingerly grasped the bag containing the ashes of our father and tossed it into the ocean. Per his will, we also mixed the ashes of his beloved dog, Luvy, with his. He requested that half of these ashes be spread over his mother’s grave and the rest be scattered into the ocean. The waves slowly enveloped the bag, dragging it into its blue-green resting place.  Tears came to my eyes as I realized that it had been over ten years since my father had been with his dog.


When I was growing up, my father often spoke wistfully of the dog he had when he was a child. No more dogs, he once told me. He was so heartbroken over the passing of his first dog that he did not want to risk a similar painful episode. Yet, when Luvy entered his life, her endearing nature and lively spirit won over his heart. Once again, he was the same little boy, indulging his furry companion with an affection that I only rarely received as his own child.


God cares for us and He knows that the love that we have for our pets is as deep as any human relationship. As a dear friend once confided in me, they provide unconditional love and accept you for all your flaws, more than what some humans are capable of doing. Isn’t this the same message that God gives to us?


For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Psalms 84:11 (ESV)


God unconditionally loves and accepts us when we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Our relationships in this world are a shadow of the complete and uninhibited love we will have in Heaven. The Bible is clear that animals will be in Heaven because God’s love and mercy extend to His entire Creation. Our relationships with our pets are a beautiful example of how God loves us and in Heaven, this relationship will be even more glorious than we can ever imagine when we receive God’s complete favor and honor.


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


REV2221 (Revelation 22:21)

My daughter and I were stuck in the usual rush-hour traffic. Hundreds of illuminated red tail lights cast a hypnotic glow on our windshield and before our captive eyes. As we surveyed the monotonous scene and waited to move, my daughter noted a peculiar sight on one of the cars. “Dad, look at the car in front of us. That’s an interesting license plate!” As we both focused upon the plate, the following symbols came into focus.




“What do you think it means, Dad?”


I was stymied by this odd combination of letters and numbers. “I don’t know….maybe it is the type of car engine? The name of a music group?” And then, inspiration struck.


“Sweetheart, do me a favor.” I handed my daughter my cell phone. “Open my Bible app and look up Revelation chapter 22, verse 21.” A few seconds later, my daughter read the following verse.


The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Revelation 22:21 (ESV)


Could be, I thought. I was intrigued since this was plausible and matched the last verse of the Bible. Why not pick a more familiar verse? Since Christians and non-Christians alike can usually cite John 3:16 and the familiarity of this verse undoubtedly would have led to it being emblazoned on someone else’s personalized plate as in this example: JOHN316


Regardless, I heartily approved of this person’s message and the original selection of the last verse of the Bible. I reflected upon the significance of this verse. In the Bible, the greatest Book ever written, God chose to open and close it with some of the most profound verses ever recorded.


In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 (ESV)


The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Revelation 22:21 (ESV)


The first verse of the Bible tells us that God is the Creator of all creation and this is all we need to know. Science may help us to understand and unravel some of the mechanisms but ultimately, God created something out of nothing, and for one reason, to share His infinite love with all of us. Once He set time and existence into motion, He did not sit back and allow events to randomly occur. He created all life and mankind and guides the events of history. He knew that mankind would sin and turn away from God, His Creator. Yet, God, by His grace and mercy provided an answer to reconcile man to Himself. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a life as a Man. He lived a perfect sinless life, died, and was resurrected to life, Jesus conquered death and lovingly demonstrated that all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will have salvation and eternal life. By His grace, we have been saved through faith.


In the end, we exist only because of the grace of Jesus Christ.




God desires to restore the broken relationship that sin ruptured. What a wonderful message to display to everyone who will take the time to understand it!


May the grace of Jesus Christ be with everyone! Amen!


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


“It’s Been Quite A Ride!” (Psalms 112:7)

High school graduation day.


It is a poignant and bittersweet moment for my wife and me as we transition to another phase of our lives. Our daughter will be attending college in the fall. Even a cursory overview of the blogs that have been written over the last six years will prominently feature our daughter. From memories of her years of gymnastics and debate tournaments, travels with our family, and numerous intimate conversations, God has blessed us with laughter and indelible memories. But the blogs about her that dominated all were written a year ago when she was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.


As I watched my daughter ascend the stage, I remembered just a year ago I was watching her walk her newly adopted dog around our backyard. My eyes welled up in tears as I envisioned the horrible possibility that her impending surgery may not be successful and she would never be able to walk again or enjoy life and her dog in the same manner. Would she even graduate from high school and go on to college? Would I be able to walk her down the aisle for her wedding?


I gently grasped my wife’s hand and held it for a few moments. I then turned to her and whispered, “It’s been quite a ride!”

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Psalms 112:7 (ESV)


Through God’s grace and mercy, He brought together a team of superb physicians and health care professionals who successfully treated her rare brain affliction. Even with the successful outcome, there were many times when the immediate news was bad. Our family came together during that year in a way that would never have happened if it were not for our daughter’s affliction. God does not promise that all news and outcomes will be good but He does promise that whatever happens, He is in control because He loves and cares for us with compassion and tenderness that far exceeds anything we can ever imagine.


It has been quite a ride and it is just beginning. We are holding on firmly to God because it will only get better!


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


Misplaced Confidence (Matthew 18:3)

Opening a bank account, flying solo on an airlines flight, renting an apartment-it was not that long ago that I was a young adult and confronted with these new responsibilities, evoking a great deal of angst within me. With the passage of time, these same situations that had once been so anxiety provoking are now faced with a learned calmness. I have matured and become more self-confident. My spiritual relationship with God has also evolved. When I once had a similar degree of anxiety leading a Bible study or being a worship leader, I now approach these and other responsibilities with a greater degree of self-confidence, but does this correlate with spiritual maturity?


As I pondered this, I became discouraged. Was I substituting self-confidence for spiritual maturity? Living a life of self-confidence means being able to stay in control of life’s circumstances. While this is a laudable goal, this is not spiritual maturity. It is not even the same maturity and confidence that one needs to properly interpret a Bible passage. It is a subtle but important distinction. What is this spiritual maturity and confidence in God?


…Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV)


Jesus set an unusual standard when He held up the faith of the child to the highest level of spirituality. What does it mean to have faith like a child? What is the nature of this faith? Is it naive and immature as we might expect a child to have? Is it a blind acceptance without ever questioning or attempting to verify? Is a childlike faith childish?  If we seek to follow the example of Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, faith like a child means to unquestionably rely upon God’s guidance to shepherd us through life, trusting and obeying Him in every moment of our existence. I can understand this even as I often fail to live up to these standards. My failure also pointed to something critical that was missing from this equation. I found the answer in the following verse.


Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:5 (ESV)


I needed to consider and ponder this from another perspective. If I understand that a child has unwavering faith and trust, what is God’s response to this? God is the perfect Father and He loves me with perfect and unconditional love. He will guide me with perfect judgment. He will teach me with perfect instruction. He will discipline me with perfect love, grace, and mercy. But what about me? Do I behave in a manner that represents my Heavenly Father?


Sadly, I know the answer. How often have I portrayed a poor example before my own children?  I desire to lead them as a godly father yet I allow my petty and selfish desires to consume me at inappropriate times and I lose my temper. I did not understand the faith of a child because I did not understand the true nature of my relationship with God. It is not one-sided; I must embrace the entire relationship. It is not in relying upon my knowledge and experiences, it is being self-confident in God.


Job learned this difficult lesson. In the 29th chapter of Job, he used the pronoun “I” fifty-two times to justify himself and his actions before God. Fifty-two times! That is a mere ten less than I usually use when I attempt to justify myself before God! When God answered and questioned Him in a whirlwind in the 38th chapter, Job began to comprehend the full nature of his relationship. It wasn’t about his self-confidence and pointing to all of his accomplishments and his noble actions. It was about his confidence in God and understanding that we all exist to glorify our Creator and no one else. Only when this realization occurs, can we begin to understand a true childlike faith.


This is true spiritual maturity.


I must be spiritually mature by being self-confident in God, understanding that I must see myself and life through the lens of God’s Word, Jesus Christ. He is the supreme and perfect example of faith in God because He is the perfect Son obeying the perfect Father.


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


Ask A Good Question (John 21:16)

“So what do you consider to be the most significant experience in your medical training that led you to consider dermatology?”


It was our second day of interviewing applicants for our dermatology residency program. My partner, a professor of dermatologic surgery in our department, and I each had a key question we would ask the applicants.


“Excellent question!” The young medical student was beaming, as if he correctly anticipated our question, and leaned forward in his chair. “I have often thought about this question and it has motivated me to become a better doctor. I was very fortunate to train with excellent mentors who encouraged me to enter dermatology. One thing that always impressed me was the reasons they entered dermatology.” With a knowing smile, he asked us. “I am very interested to know what motivated both of you to enter dermatology?”


My partner and I politely began to share our backgrounds and the reasons we chose our particular medical specialty but the time was fleeting and we needed to move on to the next applicant. After the student left the room, my interview partner and I sighed and looked at each other after the encounter. “He never answered any question!”


“I know. So frustrating.”


Ever meet someone like this? They answer a question with a question. While it may be thought-provoking for the questioner, ultimately, the original question is dodged and an answer is not given. It is a well-worn tactic of salespeople and even con-artists to divert attention and give control of the interview to the applicant rather than the interviewer.


Asking a good question is a true art and a sign of great intelligence and wisdom. Unlike the questions the medical student asked us, the questions that Jesus Christ posed to various people in the Gospels are compelling evidence to this point. He provoked the leading religious minds of the day by asking penetrating questions that forced them to re-examine their own faith and beliefs. He challenged people seeking to be healed by Him to understand their true motivations. And in the most poignant of all questions, Jesus asked the following of His disciple, Simon Peter.


…Simon, son of John, do you love me?…

John 21:16 (ESV)


Jesus asked His disciple Peter, this question three times. Each time He asked, Peter undoubtedly felt the pain and remorse of denying His Lord three times before His sentencing and Crucifixion. Jesus’ question was more than a seemingly innocent question about Peter’s devotion to Jesus. Jesus was offering Peter a chance to redeem himself and truly understand the cost of following Jesus if He truly loved Him. It was a good question, one that Peter must have asked himself for the rest of his life, as he gave up everything to serve His Lord, eventually being martyred on a cross.


Jesus Christ asks this same question to everyone, “Do you love me?”


I pray that your answer will not be another question, but an unequivocal, “Yes, Lord!”


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


The Drainage Canal (John 12:3-5)

Where I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, there was a drainage canal that was located across the street from my house. I spent hours in the canal, hiking over large cement boulders, hunting frogs and collecting small fish. It was not safe for swimming and years of neglect revealed jagged rebars protruding at bizarre angles from the wall and floor. During the rainy season, it was not unusual to witness a flash flood careening through the canal, sweeping through tons of dirt and debris.


On one rainy afternoon, my mother and I received an unexpected visitor. It was a teenaged boy, soaked by the rain with a bloody tee-shirt. He was frantically knocking on our door. “Please help us! My friend is hurt!”


My mother and I rushed to the canal where we saw another boy writing in pain. His right foot was impaled by one of the rebars and blood was oozing and soaking the cement block upon which he was lying. My mother quickly turned to me and said, “Quick, get a towel so we can stop the bleeding.” Up to that point in my young life, I had never seen a bloody injury and I was terrified. I bolted back to the house and grabbed a bath towel from the nearest bathroom. I handed the towel to my mother who promptly wrapped the foot, stemming the bleeding. Within a few minutes, an ambulance arrived, thanks to another neighbor who witnessed the accident and called. After the injured teen was transported to the hospital, my mother had an opportunity to reflect upon the events.


“Why did you use our good bath towels? You could have used an old towel!”


I was so flustered by the event, I didn’t even realize I had grabbed one of our expensive bath towels to help this injured teenager. All I knew is someone needed help and I grabbed the first towel I saw. In retrospect, I should have used better judgment.


Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 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?”

John 12:3-5 (ESV)


Mary desired to honor her Lord, Jesus Christ, with a very expensive ointment. We learn from Judas Iscariot that its worth was the equivalent of nearly a year’s wage for the average worker. She undoubtedly was saving it to use for her own burial but instead chose to honor her Lord by anointing Him with it, in symbolic preparation for His death. Instead of rejecting it or counseling Mary to not be so extravagant, Jesus praises her sacrifice.


Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.”

John 12:7 (ESV)


I carelessly used an expensive towel when a less expensive alternative would have been acceptable. Mary willingly chose to offer her most expensive possession, knowing that anything less would have been unacceptable. What I did in ignorance, Mary did in honor and worship to her Lord and Savior. When we sincerely give our absolute best to God, whether it is by our service, actions or finances, God honors our offerings. When we bless God, He exceedingly abundantly blesses us.


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



Incognito (Mark 1:40-44)

My friend recently shared a touching story about a former high school classmate whose son unexpectedly passed away. His uncle is a famous celebrity singer and his classmate asked his uncle if would be willing to sing at the memorial service. The uncle agreed and desiring to not draw attention to himself, the singer arrived incognito. Only when he began performing did the mourners realize his true identity. It was a classy and memorable way to honor the young man and his family when this celebrity took painstaking steps to divert attention away from himself in order to shine the spotlight upon another.


And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

Mark 1:40-44 (ESV)


In several recorded instances, after performing a miracle, Jesus Christ urged the recipient of the miracle to not tell anyone. Instead, He directed him to give thanks to God and honor Him. Jesus’ miracles were a sign of His Divinity but He did not want attention to be drawn to the miracles but instead, focus upon the source of the miracles, God. When the time was right, Jesus revealed His true identity to all who would be willing to see and listen. He was executed on the Cross and three days later, God resurrected Him from the dead. Jesus revealed to all Creation that by confessing and repenting of one’s sins and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, salvation and eternal life would be ours through faith in His Name.


For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

John 6:38 (ESV)


Jesus Christ lived a life completely devoted to honoring God, the Father. Like the celebrity who honored his fallen relative, we should seek to divert attention away from ourselves and to those who deserve the honor. We have the perfect example by following Jesus Christ.


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


666 (Matthew 24:36)

Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
Revelation 13:16-18 (ESV)


666-The number of the beast.


Even non-Christians know of the literary allusions attached to this number. The Bible clearly states that it is a number that has implications for commerce and will be tattooed or branded on the right hand or forehead of any individual that is involved. Without it, no one will be able to engage in financial transactions. Yet, the exact reason for the selection of this number remains a mystery.


What are some of the possibilities? One popular answer is the roulette wheel which has thirty-six numbers, one through thirty-six. If one adds up all these numbers, it becomes…surprise! 666! Life is a gamble and unpredictable, undoubtedly the answer! But the Bible makes it clear that it is the number of a man. Who are some of the candidates? Depending upon the time in history, pundits have attached 666 to world leaders as varied as Nero, Napoleon, and Hitler. Even President Ronald Wilson Reagan (each name has six letters), did not escape the moniker, much to the delight of his political opponents. The truth is no one knows the identity of 666, yet because one disturbing fact is clear, the meaning of the number will be revealed during the Tribulation.


But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

Matthew 24:36 (ESV)


Jesus Christ divulged to His disciples what signs to look for when the end times and Tribulation are approaching. Yet, it is sobering to learn that even He does not the day or hour of the start of the Tribulation. We should heed His warnings about the Tribulation and it is interesting and tempting to only focus upon these cryptic prophecies of the Bible, but when the prophecies about 666, the beast, and the anti-Christ come to fruition, it will be too late. All believers in Jesus Christ will be taken up to Heaven, marking the start of the Tribulation. When this happens, all of these prophecies will be fulfilled and all hell will literally be loosed upon this earth.


Our knowledge of the Tribulation should impress upon all of us of the urgency and brevity of our existence on this earth. As believers in Jesus Christ, our commandment is to share the Good News to all unbelievers and seekers of God. It is of eternal importance.


The meaning and identity of 666 will someday be made evident. I pray that as few people as possible will be present on this earth to learn the awful truth.


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


Promposal (Isaiah 53:3)



It is a formal invitation to invite someone to a high school prom. These invitations have ranged from a simple sign to elaborate staged productions with an entire band playing a musical proposal. Social media is replete with creative examples of promposals submitted by thousands of teenagers all seeking to outdo one another.


Amidst the revelry of the season and promposals, a deplorable incident recently occurred at a local public high school. A young man posted his promposal on a social media site, holding the sign and standing alongside his prom date who accepted. The message was decidedly racist, incorporating a vulgar slur, directed against African-Americans. The outrage was immediate and widespread and by that evening, the principal of the school sent an email condemning the actions and promised the couple and all involved parties would be subject to severe consequences.


Meanwhile, social media chimed in and various suggestions were offered by students, parents, and conventional media. Expulsion? Expelling the students would simply sweep the problem under the carpet. While it may be an immediate response and quick fix, it does not address the fundamental problem. Sensitivity training? Sensitivity training may help to instill greater awareness and broaden our exposure to the problems but unless the couple is willing to listen and change their behavior, it would fall on deaf ears.


What is needed is a way for this young couple and others like them to truly understand the pain and consequences of racism. Only when someone viscerally experiences the type of hate and prejudice upon themselves that their own actions are instigating and fomenting upon their intended target, will a lesson be learned. Can such a lesson ever be learned?


In 1959, a white journalist, John Howard Griffin, disguised himself as a black man, taking medications to darken his skin, and traveled through six states in the deep South of the United States. For six weeks, he experienced the direct and indirect racism that many African-Americans experienced in the still racially segregated south. He kept a journal of his experiences which was later published as a book, “Black Like Me.” Griffin experienced first hand what it was like to be treated as a black man. It forever changed his life and he became an advocate and activist for race relations and social justice.


More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore?

Psalms 69:4 (ESV)


I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.

Psalms 69:12 (ESV)


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 53:3 (ESV)


Who is this pitiful man, despised and ridiculed by so many? It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Racism and prejudice have been with mankind since our creation. If we are to begin to solve this problem and change our attitudes about race relations, we must change our hearts. The only way to do this is to confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.


Why should we trust a man who was rejected and reviled by so many and treated like a second class citizen? Jesus Christ is God and lived a life as a perfect Man. He experienced rejection and betrayal by His own people. He was ridiculed by jealous religious leaders of the day. He was slandered for His humble upbringing and apparent lack of formal education.


Griffin experienced this hatred and pain when he became part of the same group upon which racists attacks were directed. This young couple must also experience the pain of their hateful and insensitive promposal. The proposal of Jesus Christ is to place your trust in Him and allow Him to change your heart and your attitude to begin the healing process. He can give us the solution because He was one of us.


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


“I Don’t Want To Hear This Word!” (Galatians 3:26)

The hallway leading from the parking lot to the lobby of the hospital was adorned with elaborate pieces of artwork, surrounded by columns of marble and granite. The accent lighting flickered off the polished stone creating a lively sparkling dance that welcomed us.  Rounding the corner, we entered a lobby with floor to ceiling windows that afforded an uninhibited view of the orange sunset. It was a palatial setting for our meeting. My daughter and I were duly impressed as we followed the arrows that guided us to a commodious conference room where we were greeted by dozens of physicians and hospital administrators. It was the orientation for her summer program. For two weeks, after her high school graduation, she would join a team of medical professionals in the hospital, shadowing them and learning the nuances of modern healthcare.


Several speakers, who once participated in the program when they graduated from high school, now addressed us. They presently were medical students, resident physicians, and attending physicians at various hospitals. Each ebulliently shared their experiences, pronouncing it as one of the chief motivators for deciding to choose a career in medicine.


After all the presenters received warm applause, the medical director of the program returned to the podium. “Once again, congratulations to all of you! For these two weeks, you will be an important part of the medical team caring for patients.” He paused as he surveyed the audience of young eager faces. “There is one word that I never want to hear from any of you…JUST!” My daughter and I looked at each other, awkwardly smiling as if we knew what he was referring. “I never want to hear this word.” He continued. “When patients or anyone else asks you what your position is, I don’t want to hear, ‘I am JUST a student.’ You are not JUST a student. You are a clinical intern with our program. You are a member of the health care team!”


I smiled as I reminisced about my first day of medical school. The dean of our medical school gave a similar admonition to us, proclaiming that we were not just medical students, we were now medical doctors and must behave and act like one. When we join a larger community or organization, it is important to be immediately accepted as a fully fledged member, regardless of one’s experience. Is this also how God welcomes and accepts us?


I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior during my sophomore year of college. A short time later, a fellow Christian brother suggested I attend a Christian conference for other college students, held at a nearby university. I happily agreed and when I arrived at this conference, I was assigned to a small group discussion with other college students. As a means of introduction, the leader of the group requested that we state which school we currently attended and how long we had been a Christian. When my turn arrived, I sheepishly stated, “I’ve just been a Christian for a month.”


The other students chimed in joyous unison. “Praise God! How wonderful! God bless you!” I was elated and relieved that I was immediately accepted and welcomed into the Christian family. It did not matter how long I had been a Christian nor how I came to this point. All that mattered is I had joined an eternal fellowship with God-His Church. This is how God welcomes all who confess and repent of their sins and place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.


…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Galatians 3:26 (ESV)


I was not “just” a Christian.


I am a Christian, an adopted son of God and a co-equal heir with Jesus Christ.


Praise God, indeed!


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