Higher Standard (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)

As this country is presently embroiled in legislative proceedings determining whether President Trump should be impeached, I think back to President Clinton’s impeachment twenty years ago. It was an equally volatile and politically charged time that also divided the public. One encounter I had was with a colleague with whom I worked in one of my hospitals. As we were discussing the sordid details of President Clinton’s affairs with then intern Monica Lewinsky and Paula Jones, my colleague, an avid Clinton supporter, emphatically stated that the entire impeachment was ridiculous. 


“This is a private matter. It should never have been allowed to go this far.”


“But, isn’t this an egregious moral and professional failure for the President? Just the other day, you were railing against that actor who cheated on his wife. This is far worse, isn’t it?”


“No…it isn’t.”


“It isn’t?” I looked at her in disbelief. “You don’t think the President should be held to a higher standard than everyone else?”


“No…I don’t.” She winced. She knew the truth but understandably wanted to excuse the President’s behavior, even though she was going against her own principles. Does God hold our leaders to a higher standard?


And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

Deuteronomy 17:18-20 (ESV)


God holds all leaders to a much higher standard. In the Bible, God commanded Israel’s kings to read and follow the laws that He gave them. The kings were to be humble rulers, justly administering God’s law for all people. It is not just leaders who are held to a higher standard, all believers in Jesus Christ are held to this same higher standard. When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are a new creation. We are separated so that our very lives will be a testimony to the rest of the world of the saving grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.


But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)


There is a higher standard, for all leaders and all believers in Jesus Christ. 


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


Carbohydrate Loading (Luke 4:1-2)

Carbohydrate loading.


The physiological rationale is well-studied and supported. There are a variety of regimens but the basic premise is the same. Before an arduous physical task, such as a marathon race, consuming a diet rich in carbohydrates, one to three days before the physical test, enables the body to store additional energy reserves in the form of glycogen. Athletes who fail to carb load may exhaust their normal supplies of glycogen, reaching fatigue much sooner during their time of extreme physical stress.


Is there a spiritual equivalent to carbohydrate loading? Can we increase our spiritual reserves by “consuming” the proper sustenance and ensure that we don’t weaken during times of temptations or spiritual struggles?


And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil…

Luke 4:1-2 (ESV)


Jesus Christ faced one of His first great tests at the start of His ministry.  After fasting for forty days and in a weakened state, Satan confronted Him in the wilderness, tempting Him with the desires of the eyes, flesh, and the pride of life. But Jesus Christ was filled with the Holy Spirit. Full of the power of God, Jesus successfully prevailed over Satan’s temptations and began His ministry. There are many other examples. Before He selected His twelve apostles, He spent the entire night in prayer with God, the Father. And on the eve of His Crucifixion, Jesus prayed so fervently that the sweat on His forehead became drops of blood. Jesus actively sought to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 


We, too, as believers in Jesus Christ, need to seek to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. We need to always “spiritually load” our souls with the unlimited power of God through the Holy Spirit that indwells within everyone who has confessed and repented of their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 


We will never weaken or fail when we partake of spiritual loading through God’s Holy Spirit.


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



“What Is That?” (2 Chronicles 29:3-5)



The scream came from our bathroom and I knew what elicited it.


“What is THAT?”


My roommate and I looked at each other and snickered. His girlfriend had discovered our secret. In the summer before my senior year in college, I lived on campus, doing research in molecular biology.  I shared a campus apartment with my classmate who was also doing research in the same laboratory. The apartment was not designed to have a kitchen and we cooked our meals in a hot pot and electric skillet. This arrangement was generally adequate except that we had no sink to wash our dishes, utensils, and appliances. No sink, but there was a bathroom! The excess grease was dumped into the toilet and we left the rest in our bathtub. Whenever we took a shower, we let the water rinse most of the remaining food and then we would each take turns washing some of the dishes. Meanwhile, the accumulated grease and food oxidized and stained the bathtub and toilet. After a few weeks, even we were appalled by the conditions, but neither of us wanted to clean it, we were content to live within our own filth. We were too stubborn, lazy, and selfish to take care of each other or own lives. We both hoped that my friend’s girlfriend would clean it when she encountered it. Our plan worked!


In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place.”

2 Chronicles 29:3-5 (ESV)


When King Hezekiah became the King of Judah, he was determined to serve God faithfully, renewing his nation’s holy covenant with God and re-establishing orderly worship by repairing and cleaning the temple. He had a monumental task, cleaning up the filth and blasphemous idol worship that had replaced the true worship of God, largely started by the previous King Ahaz. From erecting idols to false gods in the temple to sacrificing his own son to the false god Moloch, Ahaz allowed the Hebrews to wallow in their own filth for sixteen years. Hezekiah knew what he needed to do because he studied and obeyed the Word of God which repeatedly warned the Hebrews to not follow after false gods and worship idols. God knew that if He left the Hebrews to follow their own desires, they would be content to wallow in their own filth. Am I any different?


In my college apartment, I was able to tolerate living in my own filth for a few weeks. Sadly, my spiritual life was even more filthy and I not only tolerated it but embraced it for many years. It was only after I could no longer stand the putrid odor of my own life that my defiant will was broken and I called out to Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. He rescued me from own filth and cleansed my soul with the regeneration and sanctification of His Holy Spirit. 


I never want to return to the filth that I wallowed in, either physically and spiritually.


God’s plan for my life does work!


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


Mylar Balloon (Hosea 13:5-6)

When my son was born, my daughter was nearly three years old. Suddenly our family was a foursome and she was an older sister. It was a slightly difficult adjustment and I wanted to smooth the transition as painlessly as possible, reassuring her that she was still very special and loved within our family. Every weekend, I would take her to a new outing such as the aquarium or park and the weekend was never complete until one final stop. On the way home, I would purchase a big helium-filled mylar balloon, with my daughter picking the design. For weeks, her room would be filled with these balloons and the smile on her face was confirmation that she knew she was special.


Years later, I recounted the story to my daughter, hopeful she would recall the memories with joy, but unfortunately, she only remembered a few isolated events. I was disappointed but it was the same story with her own father. When I was about five years old, my parents were informed by my teachers that my physical educational skills were lagging behind my peers. Determined to not allow this situation to worsen, my father would come home early from work every day and would pitch baseballs to me, working on my eye-hand coordination. I did improve, good enough to join the local baseball team. Many years later, my father reminded me of what he did for me, but sadly, I could barely remember it at all.


It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.

Hosea 13:5-6 (ESV)


The Israelites forgot how God rescued them slavery in Egypt and safely delivered them through forty years in the desert. How could this happen after all that God did for them? How indeed? Look in the mirror! Like the Israelites, I quickly forgot the blessings of my father. My memories are fleeting because my focus is centered squarely upon myself. I also take God’s blessings for granted not realizing or understanding the love and sacrifice that He has bestowed upon me.


Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

Isaiah 49:15-16 (ESV)


Is it any wonder that the Bible continually reminds us to remember the blessings God has given us. If I spent more time remembering God’s blessings I would live a life in gratitude, looking upward and outward, rather than downward and inward, drowning in my own sorrows. 


God has engraved my name on His very hands. If God is for us, who can be against us?


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


Happy Birthday! (John 13:13-15)

I recently read the touching story of a company CEO who handwrites a birthday card to all of his employees. While this is certainly a kind and personal gesture, his company has 12,000 employees! He began the tradition in 1985, when his company had a mere 19 employees. As his company grew, he continued the practice, undaunted by the size of the company. Along the way, he noticed something interesting about his employees. They began collecting the birthday cards and embracing the same tradition. “They, too, pass on that to others, and I think, again, a culture is the most important thing for a business and the biggest asset you’ve got is the great people who run the business.”

Source: Fox Business.com


What began as an act of kindness and thoughtfulness by one man has become the corporate culture and spawned a new generation of birthday card givers. I have never received a personalized birthday card from the CEO of any company I have been an employee, but if I did, I have no doubt I would share this story with as many people I knew. Kindness is infectious and contagious, especially when it originates from a servant-leader. 


You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

John 13:13-15 (ESV)


If Almighty God, Jesus Christ, stooped down and began washing my feet, I would be overwhelmed with so many different emotions. I would be embarrassed, confused, and humiliated that my teacher for the past three years, whom I had witnessed countless miracles, was now stooping at my feet and washing them with His own hands. But after thoughtfully reflecting upon what He did for me, how could I not want to do the same and serve others in the same manner that He set such an example? What about the Apostles, were they changed by His actions? They were transformed from a group of defeated and cowering men in a hidden room to boldly declaring that Jesus Christ is God and Savior for all who place their trust in Him. They were transformed from followers who fled when Jesus was arrested, to standing for His Name, even after being imprisoned, tortured, and executed. 


How indeed?




Jesus Christ-Fully Man and fully God. 




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


“And What Are You Going To Do?” (John 6:12-13)

“Can I speak with you for a moment?” My laboratory supervisor was flustered as the redness of his face betrayed the smoldering intensity of his feelings. I nodded and motioned to the chair in front of my desk.  Plopping himself in the chair, he shook his head as he shared his disapproval of one of our employees. 


“I gave him a stack of work to enter the information into our EMR (electronic medical record). He just sat there for a second then rolled his eyes and asked, ‘And what you are going to do?’ “




Rule number 1 from Workplace 101, don’t question your supervisor when handed an assignment. Rule number 2, don’t ask what they are going to do. The corollary to both of these rules is if you break either of them, you probably will not be working there much longer. 


This incident happened many years ago, in one of my former laboratories. As surprising a story that it is, I have heard similar stories repeated in other workplaces. It reinforces my long-held belief that many of the skills needed to successfully navigate the world of business are not learned in business school but simple common sense.


After Jesus had preached to a crowd of at least five thousand men, they were hungry and needed to be fed. Yet, the only resources that His disciples thought they had was a young boy who had five loaves of bread and two fish. Unfazed, Jesus directed the crowd to sit down in groups of fifty. He then took the five loaves of bread and two fish and proceeded to feed the entire crowd and instructed his disciples to do a seemingly impossible task. 


And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” John 6:12 (ESV)


Can you imagine if the early followers of Jesus Christ bickered and complained in a similar manner as this former employee? “Gather up the leftover fragments from these FIVE THOUSAND men, not to mention the additional thousands from the women and children? Sure, Lord! And what are YOU going to do?” 


So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

John 6:13 (ESV)


Thankfully, the disciples put aside any doubts or reservations they had and obeyed their Master, although I wonder what was really going through their minds? After all, it was not the first time that Jesus asked them to do something that was out of the ordinary. Walking on water, calming a raging storm, healing a demon-possessed boy with seizures, and now, feeding over five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. All of these seemingly impossible tasks that were given to the disciples, they failed to accomplish. It was Jesus who successfully completed the task but they soon forgot the miracles that Jesus performed and, once again, doubted His promises and assurances. 


When God asks me to do something that I perceive as burdensome, sometimes I roll my eyes and complain, “Why God? And what are You going to do?”  I am no different than the disciples and the employee. 


What will God do? He will perform another miracle in my life, humbling me because of my arrogant pride, and showing me a better way to live by looking upward and outward to His guidance rather than downward and inward to my fallen and sinful desires. Only by surrendering my will and obeying Him, will He allow me to successfully complete the task He gives me, to teach me a lesson in faith that would have been squandered if I questioned Him.


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


Red State, Blue State (Acts 2:8-11)

The media and political pundits have polarized the United States into Red states (Republican party) and Blue states (Democratic party). These designations have labeled entire communities and are weaponized by each party to demonize the other. Is it accurate? Like all sweeping statements and generalizations, the truth is grossly distorted. There is diversity in every state and even amongst individual voters, there are some shared common values. Yet the pundits insist on applying labels that foment strife instead of fostering understanding of differing opinions. Was there ever a time when mankind was united in a common belief?


And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.

Acts 2:8-11 (ESV)


Read these verses once again, but this time, substitute your own city, state, or country. Californians, Missourians, and Floridians. Don’t stop there! What about political parties? Democrats and Republicans. What about religions? Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists. The list is as endless as the diversity of this world, and that is the point. 


On the day of Pentecost, nearly two thousand years ago, several million Jews and other visitors made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Passover. In the most unexpected manifestation of God’s power, His Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and empowered them to speak in an unknown tongue. Miraculously each visitor to Jerusalem clearly heard the Word of God in their own native tongue. It was a powerful sign that God had intervened. 


This was as diverse a gathering of people and different cultures that one would ever see at that time in the history of the world and God chose this setting to first demonstrate the power and promise of the Holy Spirit by empowering the Apostles of Jesus Christ to declare the mighty works of God, as manifested by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 


In this hyperpolarized time when so many are willing to assign a label to different groups of peoples and cultures, I can take solace in the hope that one day, all people will be unified and worshipping God. Jesus Christ will return to earth as the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. On that day, God’s glorious Kingdom will begin on this earth and all of mankind will be united as one. The promise of Pentecost will become a reality. 


No more red state or blue state, only the state of God.


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



Cleaning Before Sealing (Titus 3:5-7)

I was recently cleaning my patio deck which was covered in stucco and noticed that cracks had appeared, potentially leading to water damage in the underlying deck. After researching the topic, I decided to place a waterproof sealant on it. The first attempt was a disaster. The sealant clumped and did not spread evenly to cover the entire surface. Undaunted, I decided to try again but this time, a few days later, as I was about to begin the sealing, I re-read the instructions on the container, and, much to my chagrin, discovered the following, “Before applying the sealant, please ensure the surface is clean by using our special cleaner.  The cleaned surface must be bone dry before using the sealer.”


Cleaning before sealing.


It is the same for our souls. 


….he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:5-7 (ESV)


We cannot come to Jesus Christ for salvation and eternal life until we first confess and repent of our sins. We need to cleanse ourselves, but not by good deeds, acts of kindness, or sacrifices of money or gifts. All of these have the appearance of cleansing but they do not get to the source of the problem. Our souls are stained with the rebellion of sin and we are powerless to rid ourselves of this stain. We need a supernatural intervention. Only God is powerful enough to intervene on our behalf. Only God is merciful enough to save us. Only God is graceful enough to allow this to happen by sending His Only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and be resurrected, forever securing our salvation. 


Cleaning before sealing. 


Praise God that through faith in God’ Son, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will wash and cleanse us and seal us in the eternal security of salvation and eternal life. 


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



“It’s Just Numbers! (James 3:17 )

It was my junior year and I was immersed in my preparation to take the MCAT a.k.a. the medical college admission test. While I was comfortable with most of the subjects, one area always caused me consternation. As I was struggling with solving some of the problems, I didn’t realize that my college classmate was hovering over my desk in the library. 


“Oh…studying for your MCAT’s?” as he surveyed the numerous review books piled around me. 


“Yup. Got one more month.” He was a senior and had taken the MCATs the previous year, doing very well. He was now applying to medical schools. 


“Don’t worry, it’s all stuff you know.”


I weakly smiled. “Yes, I know, but it’s math and physics. It has always been my weakest area.”


My friend chuckled at me and shook his head, “It’s just numbers! Nothing to be afraid of!”


“Nope. Just numbers.” I sighed. 


My friend was attempting to encourage me. Numbers can be the most objective science and if the issue were only solving equations, it would be simple, just numbers. The difficulty, as most students know, is applying the principles of math in world problems. The issue is two-fold: properly interpreting the question and then applying the proper math equations to solve the problem. My problem was always reading too deeply into the problem. My mind would race through numerous permutations, bogging me down and often leading to the wrong answer. 


This is why I take some comfort over my unease with math after I learned of the posting of a particular math problem on a social media site, that, oddly enough, has become a viral sensation on the internet.

Source Twitter

Depending upon how one will group the numbers with the parenthesis, the answer is either 1 or 16. It has ignited a firestorm of debates over the true answer. Mike Breen, the Public Awareness Officer for the American Mathematical Society wrote, “The way it’s written, it’s ambiguous. In math, a lot of times there are ambiguities. Mathematicians try to make rules as precise as possible.”


With a field of study as precise as math, we would expect much less confusion. After all, it’s just numbers. Nonetheless, the way many things are written, including mathematical equations, are ambiguous. If God were writing it, would we expect any ambiguity? Would we expect confusion?


But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 3:17 (ESV)


God’s Word is pure and complete wisdom. It is living and active and is able to change the life of anyone who takes the time to read and understand it. Why? God’s Word solely points to His Son, Jesus Christ. All who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by confessing and repenting of their sins to Him will have salvation and eternal life.


There is no ambiguity, just pure love, grace, and mercy given to all by the God of all creation. 


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


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“It’s The Little Old Lady…” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

“I know you are not in the market for this model, but I have to show it to you.”


My wife and I rolled our eyes as glanced at each other. This is going to be another typical hard-sell from a car salesperson, we both thought. We turned a corner in the parking lot and beheld a pristine vehicle. “This is a used car!” My wife and I were surprised. It was immaculate and flawless, the rubber hairs on the tires obvious to even a casual observer.


“Looks brand new.” I exclaimed.


The salesperson nodded and smiled. “That’s because it is! This woman from Pasadena came with her grandson looking to buy a new car. I actually tried to talk her out of this model because I did not think it was practical nor her style but she insisted on purchasing it. Sure enough, three days later, she returned to me and said she wanted to sell it back to me and purchase another car.”


“Wow!” I exclaimed. “She took a big loss!”


“Yes! But her loss is your gain. Even though it has only 89 miles on it, I have to sell it as a used car, but all the warranties, everything, is intact. You are getting a brand new car at a huge discount!”


“There are only 89 miles on it?” I grinned as I looked at my wife and the salesperson. “So this car really did belong to a little old lady from Pasadena?”


The salesperson winked at me as my wife groaned at my joke and I proceeded to hum the familiar tune.


Life imitates art. 


We smile when we encounter examples in our everyday activities. Art is more than paintings and sculptures; it is represented in song, literature, and the media. The pervasive influence of art influences our behavior and even shapes our moralities and sensibilities. Not surprising, in many colleges, there are courses entitled, “The Bible As Literature.” The premise is the Bible should be read and evaluated as any other work of literature, on the same level as Shakespeare, Aristotle, and Homer. The Bible should be studied as a work of literature but it would be a severely narrow and limited analysis. It is not simply another work of art. The Bible is the template, the blueprint for how we should live our lives through faith in God.


All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)


The Bible is not life imitating art. It is our life imitating Life. 


This is the Bible, God’s sacred and eternal Word.


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