Chad Calling (Hebrews 11:7-10)



My cell phone was flashing a caller. I knew a Chad in grade school. Why would he be calling me now? And how did he get my number? When I opened my phone, I realized that it was someone from the country of Chad calling me. How interesting! I soon found out that I was joining thousands of others who have answered this false calling. It was a scam.


Chad, Tunisia, Estonia, Sierra Leone, Moldova, Latvia…this is a very short list of some of the exotic locales from which the phone calls have originated. At the least, it has given me a quick geography lesson and I now know where Moldova is located (for you fact checkers, it is a landlocked country between Romania and Ukraine).


A quick search through the internet reveals that I am not alone. Numerous complaints have surfaced about these international phone calls received by people in the United States. The collective opinion is these are part of a fraudulent enterprise, orchestrated by companies that hire an international premium rate number from a local phone company. If one answers these calls, the scamming company receives a commission. Unfortunately, when the scam began, I did answer the call and was greeted with an “Allo!” in an unknown foreign accent, followed by muffled laughter. The joke was on me since my next phone bill displayed a huge charge to this foreign country.


Aside from the annoyance of receiving these calls, since I have no dealings with any of these countries, I never answer them. However, the scam has expanded to many other numbers in the United States, including ones that share my same area code. Since my cell phone is my main contact for my business clients, I must answer the calls. On more than one occasion, it has led to a strange garbled mix of nonsensical words or a telemarketer informing me about an opportunity for a home loan. 


How does one know when a call is truly important? For these cell phone calls, there may never be a foolproof method, however, when God calls, there is no ambiguity. 


By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:7-10 (ESV)

Noah and Abraham were both called by God to make tremendous sacrifices for an uncertain outcome. Noah was asked to build an ark, a task that may have taken up to 100 years. Abraham was asked to leave the security of his home and relatives and journey to an unknown land to become the patriarch of a mighty nation. I am sure both of these great saints had their doubts, but their faith in God was answered and rewarded. Noah and his family were saved from the great flood and Abraham became the father of the Hebrew nation.


Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)


While there may be doubt in my mind when an unknown person calls my cell phone, when God calls, He always confirms His calling with definitive action.




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


Highest Magnification (Matthew 5:21-22)

Recently, my role as a physician was reversed and I became the patient. I had been observing a mole on my the second toe of my right foot. It had been present for years and was small, sharply circumscribed, and of even pigmentation. All of these are comforting signs of a benign mole. Yet over the past few months, it had been slowly growing. When I viewed it with my own eyes, it still did not harbor any worrisome features. However, I showed it to my dermatologist colleague who examined it with a dermatoscope, a special hand-held device designed to magnify subtle clinical features. After photographing it and examining it with a high-resolution computer screen, a few sinister clinical features appeared. In fact, the lesion had several characteristics that overlapped with malignant melanoma. We both agreed that it needed to be biopsied. 


I underwent the biopsy and the next day, I received it in my laboratory. As I reviewed the biopsy with my microscope, something I have done hundreds of thousands of times with other patients, I was struck by one thought. “That’s a lot worse than it appeared to my eye.” There were definitely worrisome microscopic features that were not evident by mere visual inspection. From my eyes, to the dermatoscope, to the microscope-only when I examined my mole with higher magnification was its true sinister potential revealed. 


You have heard that it was said to those of old, ​”You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire.

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV)


For the years before I became a Christian, I thought the ten commandments were a good moral standard by which to live my life. Don’t steal, don’t murder…yup, got those covered, but what about anger? Certainly, I have been angry with others, but it never led to murder. Jesus raised this commandment to the level where it truly needed to be understood. Anger is often the precursor to murder and other heinous offenses. Obeying the commandments was more than works and actions, our very motivations and thought life needed to be under the same degree of scrutiny. Although I attempted to do this by my own efforts, I was powerless, and miserably failed. I needed something greater than myself. I needed a Savior.


I was convinced I lived a good and moral life, but it was a superficial profile. Only when magnified by the most powerful lens of God’s Word did the truly sinister reality of my thoughts like anger and insults become exposed and revealed.


Our lives all need to be viewed through the highest magnification of God’s Word. Only by confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior will we be able to change our heart and free it of the sinful desires that we are powerless to change by our own efforts.


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


“Got The Smallpox?” (2 Timothy 2:9)

In 1980, the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) officially declared the terrible disease, smallpox, eradicated. For those born before this year, smallpox was a feared disease with high morbidity and mortality. It was highly virulent, rapidly spread by direct contact and airborne particles. Because an effective vaccine existed, the W.H.O. began a dedicated effort in 1950 to complete eradicate the disease. In 1977, the last reported case was isolated in Somalia. Three years, later, the disease was declared eradicated. 


As hideous and terrible a disease as smallpox, one missionary chose to use it as a metaphor to depict God, the Holy Spirit, working to convert a sinner into a believer in Jesus Christ. C.T. Studd was born into a wealthy upper-class family in England at the beginning of the 19th century. After his father was converted to Christianity, the younger Studd soon followed, giving up a promising career as a star cricket player for England. He completely devoted his life to the missions field, working in China, India, and Africa.  “True religion is like the smallpox. If you get it, you give it others and it spreads.” While this quotation offended some, he knew it would be understood by his contemporaries.“Got the smallpox?” was a stirring metaphor to compare the work of the Holy Spirit to convert unbelievers to Christianity. 


…But the word of God is not bound! 

2 Timothy 2:9 (ESV)


As virulent as smallpox was, it will never compare to the power of the Holy Spirit. At the first sermon preached by the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost, three thousand souls came to Jesus Christ (Acts 2:41). The infection was beginning. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was being given out and it was contagious and rapidly spreading!


As the great missionary, C.T. Stubbs exuberantly declared, “Got the smallpox?” The Word of God is never bound because God, the Holy Spirit, can never be contained!


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


“Just Like My Dad!” (Colossians 1:15)

My wife and I were watching a television show which featured a well-known actor discussing his latest movie project. After the interview, I remarked to my wife, “Interesting! Good looking guy!” My wife nodded and with an insightful clinical observation stated, “He’s got caps!”


I collapsed in laughter. “You sound just like my dad!” Both my wife, a pediatric dentist, and my father, a general dentist, were, not surprisingly, quite adept at making these types of observations. When I was growing up, my father would often make similar observations about celebrities appearing in popular media. It was amusing to see his professional expertise in action and it was just as refreshing to see my wife exhibit the same perceptive behavior. 


Experts in their respective occupations are able to perceive things that the general population may overlook or are unaware. The supreme example of this is Jesus Christ who had a peerless ability to understand people.


And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ​‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Mark 10:17-22 (ESV)


This man was a rich young ruler. He had everything yet he knew his life was missing something, but what? Didn’t he keep all of the commandments? Wasn’t that enough? Jesus knew exactly why this man came to Him and what was hindering his understanding of a true relationship with God. He needed to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength but his love for his wealth was preventing him from seeing this. Jesus gave him a precise answer but the man rejected His advice. The Bible records numerous examples of Jesus cutting through psychological defenses and years of emotional baggage to deliver the answers that each person was truly seeking. How is He able to this?


He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Colossians 1:15 (ESV)


Jesus Christ is the God-Man. He is fully God and fully Man. He understands our human nature better than we know our own selves because He is the perfect Man, the example to which all should aspire. He is God, the image of God, His Father. He understands our minds and motivations, our hidden and dark secrets, and can perfectly minister to each of us according to our unique needs. 


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


Cringy (1 Samuel 25:23-27)

My best friend from high school and college recently visited with our family. We had not seen each other in two years and we celebrated our reunion with a dinner at our home. As we dined, we began to reminisce over our many shared adventures. Two middle-aged men miraculously became two teenaged boys as the conversation swiftly lurched from high school dances, antics in our dorm rooms, and a spring break road trip in college. I always let my guard down when I am with him and my animated voice grew louder and more raucous. Arms flailing and jumping out of my seat, my wife attempted to calm me down, but I ignored her. At the end of the evening, my wife was embarrassed that I displayed such an uninhibited example of behavior in front of her and our children.


The next morning, I received an email from him, thanking me for the evening. “We had a good time, didn’t we?” I wrote. “You probably noticed how my wife tried to get me to stop at one point?”


My friend replied. “The funny thing is that a lot of the wives have those cringy moments where they want the guys to stop.”


Wives do have a thankless job to cover those frequent cringy moments that their husbands emit. The Bible records a particularly cringy moment just before David became King of Israel. Abagail was the wife of Nabal, a wealthy man. When David was passing through Nabal’s land, David and his men respected Nabal’s herds of animals, protecting them from other poachers. All of Nabal’s men knew David was an honorable man and when David sent a message to Nabal asking him to share in some of their food, they were horrified by Nabal’s response. 


“Who is this fellow David?” Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters. Should I take my bread and my water and my meat that I’ve slaughtered for my shearers and give it to a band of outlaws who come from who knows where?”

1 Samuel 25:10-11 (NLT)


This was definitely a cringy choice of words and unfortunately, ignited David’s anger. David gathered several of his men with the intention to defend his honor and attack Nabal. When Abigail learned of Nabal’s cringy response and David’s intentions, she took matters into her own hands. She quickly gathered enough food for David and his men and personally delivered it to him before they attacked.


When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him. She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests. But I never even saw the young men you sent. “Now, my lord, as surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, since the Lord has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, let all your enemies and those who try to harm you be as cursed as Nabal is. And here is a present that I, your servant, have brought to you and your young men.”

1 Samuel 25:23-27 (NLT)


Abigail’s swift actions saved her entire family. When she told Nabal what happened and how his foolish actions nearly brought complete destruction upon them, he was overcome with emotion and soon died. David was so impressed by Abigail’s strength of character and wisdom that after Nabal died, he took her for his wife. That is quite an ending for a cringy lapse in behavior. Cringy moments seem to follow many husbands, especially me! Thanks be to God that He has blessed me with a wife who does not curse me but protects me and continues to smooth out the very rough edges of my character.


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


Bowling Interview (Ezekiel 4:4-6)

Our dermatology residency program interviews prospective applicants in January of each year. The interview process takes place over two days. On the Sunday evening before the formal interview, only our current dermatology residents meet with all of the prospective applicants; no professors or attending physicians are invited. They meet for a few games of bowling followed by dinner. It is an informal social setting for a formal look at the candidates. We have often learned things about the applicants that would never have been revealed in their resumes or recommendation letters. The next day, after the formal interviews, I usually debrief the residents on their bowling interview experiences. On this particular interview session, the dermatology residents were particularly interested in my impression of one applicant.


“Dr. S. What did you think of Sally?”


“I liked her! Really interesting, bubbly, poised…impressive research and letters of recommendation. How was she on bowling night?” Several of residents smirked and one spoke up. “Uh…don’t ask Jake what he thought of her.”


“Why?” They definitely had my attention.


“Well…” one sheepishly began. “You can ask him but I’ll tell you what he told me. Sally rode with him in his car after the bowling because they carpooled together to the restaurant.”




“Yes, well…as soon as she sat in the car, she began fiddling with the settings on his radio and his air conditioner.”


“Whoa!” Jake was relatively even tempered but I knew he had his limits. “What did he do?”


“He told me that he asked her, ‘What are you doing?’ It was almost like she ignored him and she continued to fiddle with the controls. So he finally told her, ‘Please stop that!’ He was pretty annoyed!”


In the unwritten rules governing the relations between men and women, one sacred text is, “Don’t mess with a man’s controls!” It does not matter whether it is the remote control to the television, a video game console, an audio sound system, and especially the preset settings for the radio and air conditioner in a man’s car.


It may not seem fair to judge an applicant on this one odd behavior but this was a red flag and there were other quirks that also arose during the remainder of the evening and even during the formal interview on Monday that eventually prompted the committee to reject this applicant.


Odd behavior. Sometimes it is a clue to deeper disturbing issues going on within a person. At other times, it may actually be God working in someone’s lives.


Now lie on your left side and place the sins of Israel on yourself. You are to bear their sins for the number of days you lie there on your side. I am requiring you to bear Israel’s sins for 390 days—one day for each year of their sin. After that, turn over and lie on your right side for 40 days—one day for each year of Judah’s sin.

Ezekiel 4:4-6 (NLT)


If ever there was an example of odd behavior, it was the Prophet Ezekiel obeying God’s command to lie on both sides of his body for a total of 430 days, symbolizing the sins of the Jewish people. What a remarkable statement that would have made! Ezekiel was a prophet and he obeyed God’s commands. His entire life was devoted to communicating God’s Word to the Jewish people and at times, God’s commands required an unorthodox and odd message. Does this mean that all odd behavior should be considered or interpreted as a sign from God? Not necessarily.


While this applicant’s behavior was odd, it was most certainly not an indication of divine inspiration from God. Ezekiel, the Prophet, was held to the highest standards that God established for all of His prophets. His prophecies were confirmed by events in the world and eventually by Jesus Christ. It also looked forward to the Millenium and the return of Jesus Christ, in harmony with the other prophecies of the Bible.


As with everything in life, all actions and behavior must be held up to the light of the perfect Word of God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ.


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


More Like Jesus? (2 Corinthians 3:18)

I was sharing photographs of my daughter’s recent graduation with some of my co-workers. My wife had meticulously styled her hair and elegantly applied makeup to her face. Looking resplendent in her cap and gown, her face was beaming with excitement for the grand day.


“My goodness!” one of them exclaimed. “She is looking more and more like your wife with each passing year!”


Indeed! I beamed with pride as I also noticed the resemblance. It was not just her outward appearance, her inner strength radiated the same fortitude and tenacity that my wife possesses. It was a gradual change, one that I could readily observe only with the passage of time measured in months and years. As I reflected upon this, I was reminded of a challenge by a pastor who once asked his congregation, “Are you more like Jesus than you were last week?”


And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)


A wise man once stated, “If you don’t move forward, sooner or later you begin to move backward.” When I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, God, the Holy Spirit, supernaturally entered into me and began the transformation, sanctifying me to become more like Jesus Christ. I didn’t initially feel any different but with time, subtle but discernible changes were evident. It has not always been a straight upward trajectory but God has been faithful to me, even when I have been unfaithful to Him. God does not give me a time frame and if I grow impatient with my progress, or others cannot see the transformation in my life, it is the direct result of my disobedience and unwillingness to submit to God’s will, not a failure of God to keep His promise to me. 


More like Jesus? This is God’s promise to me and everyone who place their faith in Jesus Christ. And God’s Word can never be broken.




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


Senile Lentigo (John 17:17)

As I age, my face and hands are increasingly adorned with age spots, also known as liver spots. The facial age spots are the most obvious. The medical term is lentigo senilis or senile lentigo. The “senile” adds a somewhat pejorative note to the diagnosis and some dermatologists prefer to use the term wisdom spots, a more palatable and acceptable moniker.


It reminds me of my experience with my daughter. When she was born, she had several birthmarks. These are also known by another pejorative medical term, Mongolian spots. The vast majority fade and completely disappear within a few years and are not worrisome. My daughter had a prominent one located over her right wrist. When she was a few years old, she asked me what it was. “It’s a princess spot, sweetheart. Nothing to worry about. It means you are very special.” With time, it did fade away and I gave her the complete clinical medical description. I think she preferred princess spot.


Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

John 17:17 (ESV)


Does God ever use softer or alternative terms to hide the harsher realities of life? God never sugarcoats the realities of life. He reveals His truth through His Word. He gives us what we need, not necessarily what we ask. He never abandons us and always comforts us with His exceedingly abundant love. This anonymous prayer eloquently illustrates God’s providence in our lives.


He prayed for strength that he might achieve;

He was made weak that he might obey.

He prayed for health that he might do greater things;

He was given infirmity that he might do better things,

He prayed for riches that he might be happy;

He was given poverty that he might be wise.

 He prayed for power that he might have the praise of men;

He was given infirmity that he might feel the need of God.

He prayed for all things that he might enjoy life;

He was given life that he might enjoy all things.

He had received nothing that he asked for—all that he hoped for;

His prayer was answered—he was most blessed.




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


No Honor Among Thieves (1 John 1:8-10)

There’s no honor among thieves… except for us of course.

Saul Goodman speaking to Walter White in “Breaking Bad”


A thief is a crook and a liar, therefore making it difficult for anyone to trust them, much less another thief. Indeed, there are numerous examples of thieves double-crossing and betraying each other for their own selfish gains. The quotation above was taken from, “Breaking Bad”, one of the original television series that began the binge-watching craze on the internet. The irony is this series revolved around the main character, Walter White, betraying nearly everyone, including his own family. The aphorism that there is no honor among thieves is very real. Yet, a thief may be the last person to admit this truism. Why?


There is no honor among thieves because they are sinners. The stark reality is we are all sinners and this may be a bitter pill to digest. We may convince ourselves that our actions are not as egregiously bad as a thief, but all sin is an affront to God.


If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10 (ESV)


The most difficult step in accepting Jesus Christ is to acknowledge that we are all sinners, hopelessly lost and totally unable, by our own efforts, to rid ourselves of our sins. There is no honor among thieves because there is no honor among sinners. Our only hope is to confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. If we do, He will forgive us and cleanse us of all our sins.


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


R.I.P. (Romans 5:7-8)

I was picking up my wife from her routine screening colonoscopy. As she was being transported from the outpatient endoscopy center in a wheelchair, I asked the nurse who accompanied my wife if a woman named, Karen, still worked there. She first gave me a quizzical look then asked me, “You mean Karen Smith?”


“Yes, that’s her, she is an endoscopy nurse!”


The nurse stared at me for a second then slowly said, “Karen passed away two years ago from cancer.”


My wife and I stood in stunned silence. I met Karen when I started my medical career at a local hospital. The endoscopy center was next to pathology and our paths frequently crossed. Affable, caring, and compassionate, Karen always had a smile and kind word for me and everyone she met. When my daughter was born, Karen welcomed her with a special blanket which she sewed herself. Over the following twenty years, our careers led us to different medical centers. However, whenever I or my wife had an endoscopy procedure, Karen would make a special effort to come and say hello to both of us.


I was quite saddened by the news and when I returned home, I searched the internet and found a tribute to her, written by one of her best friends, a fellow nurse, who met her when they were both nursing students. Her touching tribute included this moving story of her unselfish kindness, even during her own suffering.


“Karen was always giving and thinking of others and even at hospice continued to make Christmas stockings with her sister to give to her doctors, coworkers and friends.”


I shared the link in an email to my wife and wrote after it, R.I.P. Karen. My friend Karen had a tremendous capacity to love and care for others. I can think of no greater tribute to anyone than to remember them for the selfless sacrifices they made on behalf of others, even when they were in the last days of their own lives. Her life was a very personal reminder to me of the life that Jesus Christ lived when He was on this earth.


For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:7-8 (ESV)


As Jesus Christ hung on the Cross, His broken and tortured Body wracked with pain, the crowd that gathered to watch the spectacle hurled insults at Him. Our Lord did not defend Himself nor did He answer His caustic critics. Instead, He prayed to God, His Father.


…Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Luke 23:34 (ESV)


No one who was there that day truly understood what was happening. At that moment, Jesus Christ was receiving the full brunt of every sin ever committed by anyone who had ever lived, was living, or will live. The sins of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Moses, the Apostles Peter and Paul, and yes, even mine, nailed Him to the Cross. Yet even in His indescribable and unfathomable pain and suffering, Jesus prayed for all of us, beseeching God, His Father, for mercy on our behalf.


How do we remember and honor those who selflessly gave of their lives until their last dying breath? We tell others of their story. Many lives, including mine, were touched by the compassion of my friend. All lives are touched by the compassion and love of Jesus Christ. He offers salvation and eternal life to all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Him as Lord and Savior. His story is still being told, more than 2000 years after his death and Resurrection.


We will only rest in peace when we rest in the eternal peace of Jesus Christ.


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