Something Was Not Right (1 John 2:15-16 )

When I was a fourth-year medical student, I was participating in a pediatrics elective and was shadowing my Professor in his outpatient clinic. As we proceeded to examine the next patient, he quickly read the chart then turned to me and said, “Why don’t you see this next patient without me? Don’t ask him for his diagnosis, just tell him that I asked you to listen to his heart and then tell me what you heard.”

“Uhhh…okay.” It was an odd request but I knew he was testing my physical examination skills. I entered the room and introduced myself. The patient was a happy ten-year old boy with no obvious physical abnormalities. Carefully, I began my examination and placed my stethoscope on his chest. My mind raced through different diagnoses as I attempted to discern any subtle abnormalities in the rhythm or sounds like a murmur. Nothing. The heart sounded normal but I knew something was not right, I just couldn’t identify it. I repeated my examination and asked the patient to shift his position. Again, nothing…but something was not right, but what? 

I thanked the patient and returned to my professor who was awaiting my assessment. “What did you hear when you listened to his heart?”

“Well… I didn’t hear any murmurs or rhythm disturbances.”

“Good, good!”  Dr. Smith’s eyes twinkled as he listened to me fumble with my answer. “Did his heart sound different to you?”

I was attempting to discern the answer by his leading question. “Yes..but I couldn’t identify why it did.”

Dr. Smith chuckled. “The patient has situs inversus. I like to have my first-year pediatric residents examine this patient without knowing any history. It always rattles their confidence and encourages them to be more precise in their physical examination skills!”

Situs inversus! 

This is a very rare congenital condition in which all of the major organs are reversed in position, literally a mirror image of the normal patient. Thankfully, the majority of patients live a normal healthy life. Not surprisingly, unless the health care professional examining the patient is astute or additional radiologic studies are performed, the condition may go undetected. When I attempted to listen to the patient’s heart, I reflexively placed my stethoscope on the left side of his chest. It sounded normal, just softer, and why not? This patient’s heart was on the right side of his chest! 

Something was not right!

How often have I entered into a situation where the circumstances seem to be completely normal but upon closer inspection, things are reversed, even upside down? Tragically, this is happening in the Christian Church. Doctrines that were once unquestioned are now under attack. Recently I was listening to an online sermon of a popular Christian pastor. He was pleading with his congregation to donate money so that he could purchase a private jet plane. He further supported his case by selectively quoting verses from the Bible, completely out of context, that Jesus Christ was not a poor man and God wants all of His followers to be rich. As I listened to these heretical teachings, I noted his surroundings were indistinguishable from the vast majority of churches I have attended. He was reading from the same Bible translation that I used. Even the songs the worship team sang were the same that I have performed. Yet, my soul was disturbed. The pastor was replacing God’s message with the twisted message of the world.

Something was not right!

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

1 John 2:15-16 (NLT)

Isn’t this exactly how Satan tempted Adam and Eve to beguile them to sin for the first time in their lives by eating the forbidden fruit?

“God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.

Genesis 3:5-6 (NLT)

Satan twists the truth by insinuating that God is keeping the best from us because He does not want us to share in all of His blessings. Satan used the fruit to tempt Eve to question God’s promises, giving in to the lust of her eyes and the pride of her senses. Like the patient with situs inversus, everything was reversed. 

Something was not right! Only God can right the wrong that sin has created. God has created us with a desire to know Him. He seeks to reconcile the relationship that sin ruptured. Allow Him into your life to restore the relationship that we were all created to enjoy?

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

Hate Watch (Judges 16:15-17)

“I love to hate watch it!” My daughter was sharing a link with me from social media.

“What? You mean you watch it just because you hate it and it’s fun to criticize?”


I am still stuck on the latest term “shaming”…now, it’s hate watch! My daughter continues to introduce me to the burgeoning lexicon of today’s language, growing faster than an internet virus. In this case, however, I completely understand and share her views. It is watching something so deliciously annoying, that one cannot resist viewing it. 

There are many movies of famous Biblical events that can readily be found on social media. The story of Samson and Delilah is one example. Most are familiar with the tale of Samson whom God chose to be a Judge of Israel. Although powerful, he had many tragic flaws including an impetuous nature and a weakness for women. The seductive Delilah is used by the Philistines to entice Samson to divulge the secret of his strength. Three times she attempts to entrap him in an obvious ploy and each time, Samson lies to her, teasing her. In spite of this, the Philistines still attempt to capture him after each time. Somehow, he is totally clueless over her intentions and she persists a fourth time and is ultimately successful.

And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.” And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”

Judges 16:15-17 (ESV)

I am so annoyed whenever I read this story or watch a presentation of this. How can Samson be so stupid and gullible and give in to Delilah’s pleadings when he knows what will happen next?  I yell out, “You idiot!” I would never be this gullible, right? Oh no, never! I would never ignore navigation assists to get to a location because I think I know how to get there, in spite of numerous past incidents that have proven me wrong. I would never lose my temper in front of my family, even though I am completely aware of the trigger points that have caused me to fall many times before. Never!

Hate watch.

Look in the mirror! I need to re-examine my behavior because if I’m not careful, my life will be on display for others to hate watch. Thanks be to God that He is still able to use a person with as many flaws as Samson. It encourages me that God may still be able to use a broken vessel like myself.

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

Perpetua (Matthew 10:37)

Perpetua was the daughter of a Roman nobleman during the third century. She was married to a fellow nobleman and had a young child. She led a privileged life until she heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and converted to Christianity. At that time, it was illegal to worship any other god other than the emperor, punishable by imprisonment and execution. Her father pleaded with her to recant her belief but Perpetua clung to her faith, bravely declaring, “Neither can I call myself anything else than what I am, a Christian.” Perpetua was imprisoned for her faith in Jesus Christ and a short time later, she was martyred by the Romans. Her story is venerated to this day as an example of the ultimate sacrifice the early Christians paid to proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ. 

Who would sacrifice the bond between other family members for the sake of their faith? Isn’t this too much to ask of anyone? How can we celebrate such a sacrifice? 

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:37 (ESV)

When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in college, I truly did not understand the potential cost of my decision. Certainly, I knew of this verse from Matthew but it did not resonate in my soul. Only over thirty years later am I beginning to truly understand the staggering implications of a life dedicated to serving Jesus Christ. I marvel at other believers who made the decision to follow Jesus Christ at a very young age, even in childhood. They understood the cost when I was completely self-absorbed in living my life in the manner I desired.

I have lived a relatively sheltered life in my spiritual life with my most difficult decisions wrestling with issues like workplace and family relationships. I have never been challenged with a decision that would require me to sacrifice my life for my faith in Jesus Christ. Would I have a faith as strong as Perpetua? Would I have made the same decision she made if I knew what it may cost me, to forsake my parents, my spouse, my children, and my closest relationships? I pray that God will give me the strength to do so if the moment arises. 

God sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, for our sins. He understands the cost of obeying and loving God. Perpetua is Latin for perpetual, meaning never ending or changing. The cost to follow Jesus Christ has never changed. It demands our complete devotion to Him on a level that transcends our daily grind and should force us to reconsider everything we do in the light of what it cost Him to save us from our sins and eternal separation from God. Only then, can I join with Perpetua and state, “Neither can I call myself anything else than what I am, a Christian.” 

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

Sibling Rivalry (Genesis 4:8)

“They ended up fighting and the younger brother gave the older a bloody nose and the older bruised the younger’s rib cage.”


I was listening to my friend recount a recent argument between his two sons. I was alarmed by the escalation of tensions and violence but my friend reassured me. “But it’s okay! They’re brothers. They fight all the time but they love each other.”


“Yes, they later hugged each other and apologized.”

I breathed a sigh of relief and reflected upon my relationship with my younger sister. Six years younger than I am, we continuously fought when we were growing up. It was not physical abuse but verbal abuse, usually instigated by me, her bullying older brother. It began as light-hearted teasing but over the years, it escalated to name-calling. One day, when we were both adults, my sister confronted me and told me how much I hurt her during those years.  I was mortified and apologized. Just as it took many years to slowly build to a tipping point, our relationship needed a long time to heal but we eventually reconciled and now we are very close. 

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

Genesis 4:8 (NLT)

The Bible does not tell us the details but I wonder if the fatal action of Cain killing his brother Abel was the culmination of a long-standing, simmering rivalry? They were the first siblings and certainly faced obstacles that were unique, similar to every family. Perhaps it began as a snide comment or a perceived snub. Whatever the initiating cause, it may have escalated, leading to the calculated murder. 

God knew what was in the heart of Cain as this rivalry fomented and tortured his soul. At this critical moment, He warned Cain about the sinister consequences but to no avail. 

“Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT)

Sibling rivalry.

For my friend’s sons and for my own sister, reconciliation and forgiveness were an option. For other siblings, it may be too late. I pray that God’s grace and mercy would enter into every sibling relationship and allow each side to master their desire to inflict more hurt and turn to one another in love and forgiveness.

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

Now, I Knew! (2 Samuel 15:21 )

Many years ago, I left my former pathology group to set up my own company. In spite of my best efforts to avoid any conflict and keep relations cordial, strife soon appeared. The pace of change was breathtaking. Within days, people whom I considered close colleagues and allies turned hostile. Even people who had a few years earlier, invited me to their weddings, now conspired against me. It was a painful experience but not completely unexpected. It was also illuminating.


For the first time in fifteen years, now I knew who my true friends and supporters were.

When King David was betrayed by a coup orchestrated by his son, Absalom, he was forced to flee Jerusalem. He needed to carefully select those who were loyal to accompany him. David had conquered many kings and foreign lands to establish the Kingdom of Israel and in the process, created many enemies. As he soon discovered, there were many sycophants within his inner circle who only gave lip service to him. The moment they saw that he was in a weakened state, they struck and allied themselves with his enemies. But a few unlikely loyal supporters remained. Ittai was a military commander from Gath, part of the Philistines whom David conquered. Although David had elevated his status to serve alongside his own generals, he did not expect him to join his side as he fled.


Then the king turned and said to Ittai, a leader of the men from Gath, “Why are you coming with us? Go on back to King Absalom, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile. You arrived only recently, and should I force you today to wander with us? I don’t even know where we will go. Go on back and take your kinsmen with you, and may the LORD show you his unfailing love and faithfulness.”

2 Samuel 15:19-20 (NLT)


Ittai’s response is a breath of fresh air arising from the foul odors of disloyal subjects. 


But Ittai said to the king, “I vow by the LORD and by your own life that I will go wherever my lord the king goes, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.”

2 Samuel 15:21 (NLT)


I was also fortunate to find a few supporters like Ittai amongst my former colleagues. They remain close confidants to this day and I will never forget their loyalty to me, in spite of the hostile actions of their colleagues. Like David, many people abandoned me in a short period of time but God opened the door to reveal who were my Ittais. Now, I knew and am grateful to God that He revealed the truth to me. 


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


Subconscious Plagiarism (Psalms 16:10-11)

I was listening to a radio station that showcased pop songs from the seventies. At that moment, an acoustic guitar was strumming a familiar chord progression followed by a melodic electric slide guitar solo. It was George Harrison’s monster hit, “My Sweet Lord.” Ahh, great song, I thought. Yes, it was a good song, even when it was first released eight years earlier.


George Harrison’s recording, “My Sweet Lord”, was one of the biggest hits of 1971 and of his career. However, as soon as it was released, the public and critics alike pointed out a striking resemblance to the song The Chiffons released in 1963, entitled, “He’s So Fine”. A lawsuit was soon filed by the publisher of “He’s So Fine” suing George Harrison for plagiarism. The lawsuit was settled in 1976 and the judge ruled that George Harrison had committed “subconscious plagiarism” claiming that since Harrison had admitted that he previously heard the song, even if he did not deliberately copy the original song, it was still the same song with different words, and this constituted plagiarism and copyright infringement. 


It was a clever phrase with broad applications outside of music. In truth, there are very few original ideas, instead, what is often observed is an established idea or invention, applied in a novel situation. Same melody, different words. Same idea, different application. 


What about Christianity? Some pundits and atheists claim the message of Jesus Christ is not unique. They point to the ancient Greek religion depicting stories of heroes such as Asclepius, Achilles, and Aristeas dying and then being resurrected by the gods. Even the concept of a god dying and resurrecting is found in Egyptian religion with the god Osiris and in the Canaanite religion of the god Baal. Is Christianity the same idea, different application? Is the Bible an example of subconscious plagiarism by its authors?


There are ideas and stories in the Bible that may superficially resemble other religions. Yet, if one critically analyzes these stories, all lack the coherent and complete message of the Bible. Jesus Christ died and was resurrected by God but this was prophesied by King David in one of his psalms, written a thousand years before the life of Jesus Christ


For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Psalms 16:10-11 (NLT)


This is but one of dozens of passages written in the Old Testament that prophesy the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you take the time to truly investigate these and other passages, God will illuminate your search and point you in the direction of the Truth. There is no subconscious plagiarism in the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word. 


Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

2 Peter 1:20-21 (NLT)




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


Ala Carte Medicine (Philippians 4:19)

“Let me give you some advice.”


Several years ago, one of my dermatology colleagues was enthusiastically sharing the story of his recent encounter with his personal physician. He was fifteen years my senior and was planning on retiring soon. 


“We doctors are the worst, right? We know medicine and think we can confidently self-diagnose, but we tend to ala carte it, don’t we? If we have a back problem, we refer ourselves to an orthopedic surgeon. If we have a problem with digestion, we call our gastroenterologist. Most of the time, we are correct, but what we really need is an annual comprehensive physical examination and complete blood work by a good primary care physician. We need to know our baseline before we go self-referring to specialists. I’m so glad I did. He found stuff that I wouldn’t have even noticed! My advice to you, find a good primary care physician and stick with that person.”


He was correct. It had been over ten years since my last physical examination and complete laboratory evaluation. Inspired by my colleague, I immediately called a trusted internist who was also a good friend and scheduled a comprehensive physical examination for myself. 


When we have knowledge or expertise in an area of life, we may grow overconfident in our own abilities. I am guilty of this. Perhaps in medicine, it is understandable, but I have fallen victim to this in my personal and spiritual life as well. I think my organizational skills are sufficient to navigate a difficult crisis in my office. I think my years of relationships gives me sufficient knowledge to handle a prickly issue with my children. In my spiritual life, I may read financial or martial books by Christian authors. While these are important, it is taking the same ala carte approach that I do with medicine. I need a God who will oversee my entire life, every moment I exist.


This is the danger of self-confidence. Like my medical ailments, I cannot ala carte God and berry-pick areas in my life where I think I need God’s help. I must always depend upon God, not when I think it is convenient or when I think I have exhausted all my resources. 


And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19 (ESV)




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


No Extra Information (Proverbs 10:19)

These are your acceptable answers:



I don’t know.

I can’t recall. 

I don’t understand the question. 

I was reviewing the notes my attorney had given me to prep me for my deposition. He further advised me, “Just answer the question. Do not give them extra information, this does not help you!” It reminded me of the famous television character, Sgt. Joe Friday, in “Dragnet” as he liked to implore the women he was questioning, “Just the facts, Ma’am.”

A deposition is used to gather information outside the courtroom. It is a legal statement, taken under oath and the penalty of perjury. It is part of the discovery process as attorneys probe witnesses to find points to support their positions for their clients. Although I was a minor witness in this lawsuit, the apprehension I experienced was quite high and I was quite relieved when it was over. My attorney reassured me that I did well and made no major gaffes. 

In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.

Proverbs 10:19 (NKJV)

There are times to be effusive in our words and there are times to be measured in our speech. A deposition is a serious testimony and words must be chosen carefully. When it comes to sharing the Gospel with others, the consequences are even more dire. One’s eternal salvation may depend upon how one responds to the invitation. Yet, so often, instead of succinctly proclaiming the Good News, as I should, it becomes an exercise in theological verbiage, leaving my listener more confused than when I began. What if I had only a few minutes to distill the Good News of Jesus Christ to someone, what would I say? 

Five years ago, I was faced with a tragic situation. My father suffered a massive heart attack in Hawaii while awaiting a routine outpatient cataract surgery. He never recovered as he was transported to the hospital by ambulance. I was in Los Angeles and my sister and my father were in the ICU at a Honolulu hospital. After twelve hours, the cardiologist called me and informed my sister and me that there was no chance for recovery and we needed to make the decision to discontinue his life support. I instructed my sister to hold the phone to my father’s ear. I was completely unprepared for this rapid turn of events but knew this was the last opportunity I would ever speak to him. 

“DAD! I hope you can hear me.” I was desperately fighting back my tears and attempting to keep my voice steady. “I love you but you need to know that as much as I love you, God loves you even more. He has been reaching out to you for your entire life. He has been patient with you but now you have to make a decision. There is no tomorrow. God is waiting for you to accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior. I love you Dad! There is nothing more important I can tell you at this moment!”

Those were the last words I spoke to him. We waited a few minutes for some glimmer of response but when none came, everyone in the hospital room said their goodbyes, and he quietly passed. He never awoke from his comatose state. I do not know if he heard me and if he did, whether he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. 

For over thirty years after I became a Christian, I witnessed and shared the Good News of Jesus Christ to my father. There were moments when I thought we were making a connection but too often, my message became muddled with extraneous facts and details and I lost my father’s interest. How I wish I could have been as succinct and direct as I spoke to him in the last moments of his life. 

No extra information, just the facts.

I pray that God will have mercy on my father’s soul and all who hear the Good News of salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. 

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

“What Is That Around Your Neck?” (Isaiah 58:7-8)

Several years ago, one of my dermatology residents returned from a short term medical missionary trip, joining a medical and dental team that served in a communist country. After two weeks, she returned and was eager to share her experiences with my office staff.


For half an hour, she projected images of the patients she and her team treated. One tragic case, for which she brought back microscope slides and I reviewed the pathology for their local pathologist, was a malignant tumor that had consumed the patient’s right eye and had now spread to his left eye. The closest medical center that could give him a chance to preserve the sight in his left eye was four hours away by car traveling on an unpaved road. It was a sobering illustration of how thinly stretched medical resources were for that country and its citizens.


After her presentation, I attempted to lighten the mood and remarked, “Well, I am glad you and the team were there. They were getting great medical and dental care with fresh supplies.” She nodded and pursed her lips. “Yes, we were happy to be there but for the first three days, the only patients we were allowed to see were government officials and their families. Some of the police also posed as patients and they would ask us questions like, ‘Tell us about the religion your organization believes in?’ or they would point at the Cross I was wearing and ask, ‘What is that around your neck?’ Our group was strictly warned to not engage in any talk about Christianity, which is a crime in that country. If we did, we would immediately be asked to leave.”


It was a two-fisted pummeling to our senses-scarcity of medical resources and suppression of religious freedom. My dermatology resident and her co-workers, all Christian believers, obeyed their organization’s directive. In the United States, we enjoy the right to openly worship the religion of our choosing. But what if we lived in a society where even the mention of religion or God was a crime, punishable by imprisonment or even death? Would we be willing to comply with the government or would we even dare to openly declare our faith?


Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.

Isaiah 58:7-8 (NLT)


It is a delicate balance to serve God in an environment that is hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and other religions. While we are respectful of the laws of the land, we can still preach God through our actions. Even if the world imposes its own restrictions upon who is preferentially served, we are all sinners, living in a fallen world. Everyone, including government workers and the sick, need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. God’s Word and love is never bound by human restrictions and bureaucracy. Salvation through faith and belief in Jesus Christ is available to all who call upon His Name.


Praise God!


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

“I’m Not Stressed!” (Psalms 31:9-10)

“Dad, do you have some vaseline ointment?”


“Why Sweetheart?”


My daughter pointed at the corners of her mouth. “It’s getting cracked and red.”


“Ah, no problem. I have some lip balm in my office that has a mild topical steroid in it to assist in healing. I’ll bring it home tomorrow night.”


“Thanks, Dad!”


“Sure thing.” I looked at my daughter and smiled. “You know, Sweetheart, I know the weather is getting drier but what you have could also be caused by stress. It’s called angular cheilitis.”


“But Dad!” My daughter protested. “I’m not stressed!”


I laughed. “Say it LOUDER!”


Angular cheilitis is one of many diseases that can be activated or worsened by stress. Just last month, I self-treated a stye on my left lower eyelid, another condition that can also be caused by stress. Even if we do not feel or actively show our stress, we internalize much of it. There are blood tests like measuring one’s serum cortisol levels that correlate with one’s level of stress. Over time elevated cortisol levels may increase one’s risk of stroke, hypertension, heart disease, and even cancer. Whenever we start discussing a contentious issue, a physician friend of mine likes to say, “This is raising my cortisol levels! We have to stop!”


I’m not stressed!


I can convince myself and others that this is true, but God created our bodies to be an accurate and precise barometer of our true nature and the state of our souls. He gives us warning signs, both biological and spiritual. God gave our bodies elevated blood cortisol levels and angular cheilitis and God has given us our conscience, which convicts us of our sins through the action of the Holy Spirit.


Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am in distress. Tears blur my eyes. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within.

Psalms 31:9-10 (NLT)


We internalize many emotions and stress and this may lead to further stress and disease. As God’s Word graphically describes, when we do this, our body and soul literally wither away. Why would we continue to allow this to happen? Why are we are unwilling to give these burdens to God and stubbornly cling to our solutions, which inevitably fail? God always has the answer!


But I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, “You are my God!” My future is in your hands….

Psalms 31:14-15 (NLT)


God created us, He knows how to cure us. All we need to do is…


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