“Even For Thirty Seconds” (Nehemiah 2:4-5)

“Thanks for the dinner, Brother! It has been too long!”

I did an air pump with my friend as he sat across the dining table. It was my first meal at a restaurant since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic. Although we had communicated frequently with text messages and emails, I had not personally met with this dear Brother in the Lord for over six months. Thus, it was a welcome reunion and the hour and a half sped by and as we shared about our respective companies and personal issues that we were both facing. As we began to wrap our dinner, he looked at me and asked, “How is your wife and marriage?”

I smiled and pursed my lips. “Thanks for asking. You know, always a struggle. We have such different hours and she is so busy with her dental practice. We barely have time to pray.”

He gravely looked at me. “Brother, you must find the time to pray! It is so important.” His eyes softened. “But I’m embarrassed, I don’t have to tell you this.”

I shook my head. “It’s okay. I need to hear this. Do you always find time to pray with your wife? I know you are always traveling and you keep very odd hours.”

He sighed. “Yes, it is very difficult. There are days that I miss praying with her, but I always try. I will call her sometimes during the day and pray with her, sometimes even for thirty seconds.”


“Yes. Sometimes it is as simple a prayer like, ‘Dear God, thank you for blessing me with my wife and family. Please take care of them this day and keep them safe.’ ”

It was a revelation. “Wow, so brief.” I nodded in agreement. “I can do this.”

My friend chuckled. “You are a perfectionist. I know you always want to find the right time and right words to pray, but we don’t always need that.”

He was right. I often put off praying with my wife because I did not want it to be an informal phone call during the day between patients or while preparing a meal, but this is exactly when I should take the time to prayer with her, if even for thirty seconds. The next day, in the middle of my cases and her patients, I called her and I prayed with her over the phone for thirty seconds. When we saw each other for the first time a day later, she thanked me and told me it was very meaningful. I apologized to her and told her that I would be a better husband and head of our family, finding more opportunities to pray, in spite of our unconventional schedules. 

Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.”

Nehemiah 2:4-5 (ESV)

Nehemiah was a great man of prayer. He was a Jew and held the esteemed and dangerous position as cupbearer to the Persian King Artaxerxes. Throughout his book are several prayers that can serve as models of prayer for all of us but the one that made a deep impression upon me is this prayer that was recorded just before he made his request to the King to return to Judah. Nehemiah’s heart was troubled when he heard that his fellow Jews who had returned to Jerusalem were having great difficulty rebuilding the broken city walls because of their numerous enemies and interpersonal conflicts. He was concerned for their safety and wanted to ask the King to also allow him to join them. However to make such a bold request by a servant of the King was unheard of and could be answered with imprisonment or execution. His brief prayer just before he makes his request to the King is a beautiful testimony of how we should pray unceasingly, no matter the circumstances or how brief the opportunity may be. 

…Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Romans 8:34 (ESV)

Jesus Christ continually prays for us. Surely, I can pray with my wife, even for thirty seconds. 


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

Bachi! (Galatians 6:7)

“Don’t do that! That’s bachi!

My mother yelled at me as I stomped on a mound of ants that festered in our backyard. I was only six years old but I was already very familiar with this admonition. Whenever I did a naughty or mischievous action, my parents would yell out this phrase. 


This Japanese word is the shortened version of the phrase, “Bachi ga Ataru!” Loosely translated it means if one does something bad or evil, a similar fate will return unto the person. It is based upon the Buddhist and Hindu beliefs of karmic retribution. Because of the rich Asian culture in Hawaii, where I grew up, it was adopted by most of the natives, regardless of one’s ethnic or religious upbringing. This principle remained with me for many years and it still emerges at family gatherings or when I am with my friends from Hawaii. After I became a Christian in college, I began to rethink this common phrase especially when I read verses in the Bible that superficially appear to be expounding the same principle of karma. 

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

Galatians 6:7 (ESV)

There is an important distinction between what other religions and cultures believe and what Christianity teaches. The doctrine of karma teaches that if the sum of our own good actions outweigh the bad, we can ultimately achieve salvation. Christianity teaches us that none of our actions have any worth or merit and apart from Jesus Christ, they are like a polluted garment or a filthy rag.

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Isaiah 64:6 (ESV)

It is only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we can achieve salvation. None of our good works or deeds will ever achieve this. Once we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will have salvation and eternal life. Any good work we do is out of gratitude for what Jesus Christ has done for us, not to earn our way into Heaven. 

The Bible verse expounds a very important Truth but it is not karma. We will reap what we sow if we willingly choose to reject God’s offer of salvation through faith and belief in Jesus Christ. 

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

Lady Byng (Philippians 2:3)

“What professional sport awards the Lady Byng Trophy for best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability?”

I was playing a trivia game with my cousin Jake and was stymied by this question. After a thoughtful pause, my cousin said, “Hockey.”

“Correct!” replied the moderator.

I was impressed. “Jake! That was amazing! How did you know that?” We were both teenagers growing up in Hawaii, a state not known for its avid following of professional hockey.

Jake smiled and said, “I just reasoned that it would have to be a sport that was known for its rough play. For me, it came down to football and hockey and since I never heard of this award in football, I chose hockey!”

Very perceptive.

Years later, I still find it ironic that an award has to be given for good sportsmanship. This principle of playing or watching a sport and treating all participants with respect should be inculcated in all participants from day one. Sadly, there are far more examples of the opposite attitude and it is not surprising that this bad behavior has extended far outside the playing field and sports arenas. If we fail to display these characteristics in sports, why would our everyday lives be any different?

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

Like the Lady Byng trophy, we need to celebrate good behavior. It should not be an annual award but an everyday occurrence. If we attempt to accomplish this by our own efforts, we will often fail. Only by surrendering control of our lives and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, will we be able to begin the healing that this world so desperately needs. Life, like sports, can be very rough. We can rise above our circumstances and refuse to accept the low standards of acceptable behavior that the world has seemingly embraced.

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

Would You Believe It? (1 Kings 8:56)

Before my maternal grandfather passed away, my cousin embarked upon a high-school ancestry project. She interviewed him and managed to map our family tree back through several generations. The tree began with our maternal great, great, great grandfather who lived in Japan. Our family was humble farmers and for centuries, they lived in the small town of Niigata. In 1912, seeking a better life for his family, my grandfather traveled alone on a merchant ship from Japan to Honolulu, Hawaii. Speaking no English, he managed to find a job as a milkman, marry another Japanese immigrant and settle down in a suburb of Honolulu. Over the next seventy years, he raised four children who all attended college, married, and gave birth to five grandchildren. 

If hundreds of years ago, someone told my ancestor that his descendants would someday be living in a country that did not exist and be spread throughout this new land, would he have believed it? I doubt it. It sounds as absurd as the promise that God gave to Moses. The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, oppressed, and destitute. God sent them Moses who would lead them out of bondage and wander in the wilderness for forty years. God assured His people they would be delivered to a promised land and be made into a mighty nation. Yet as the months dragged into years, it may have seemed like a failed promise from God.

Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.

1 Kings 8:56 (ESV)

King Solomon uttered this exalted prayer before thousands of Israelites when the first great temple of Jerusalem was dedicated. It was over 480 years, after God delivered Moses and the Israelites from the Egyptians, that God’s promise to give rest to His people was fulfilled. Solomon looked back in awe over the faithfulness of God’s kept promise. 

God’s timeline stretches into eternity. There are many promises that God makes to us in the Bible. Sometimes our expectation is that He will instantly fulfill them and in some cases He does, but in other cases, we may not see His fulfilled promise in our lifetime or even for many succeeding generations. This sweeping prayer of King Solomon reminds us that God keeps His promises, even after hundreds of years. 

Over two thousand years ago, God made another promise to His people. His Son, Jesus Christ will someday return to rule this entire world as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In these dark days of global pandemic and rioting, it may seem like this is a failed promise of God. 

Would you believe it? 

We should take comfort from the numerous examples that the Bible gives us that God is faithful and He always accomplishes what He promises to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.


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

Twenty-One Gun Salute (Philippians 2:5-8)

The cannons fired in succession to honor the President of the United States. As I viewed the impressive and solemn display, I wondered about the origin of the military custom of the twenty-one gun salute. The precise origins are unclear but most historians place it around the 14th century when warriors seeking peace with their rivals would discharge their cannons, essentially rendering them ineffective. It began with seven cannons firing from warships. Land cannons could fire at least three rounds for every round from a warship, hence, the shore salute was a firing of twenty-one guns. With time and advancing technology, the warships adopted the twenty-one gun salute. In 1842, the United States officially adopted this as the Presidential salute, joining most of the major nations of the world.

Source: US Army Center of Military History 

The salute is a sign of submission, literally placing oneself in a position of helplessness as a show of deference to the person being honored. It symbolizes trust and vulnerability. Isn’t this what our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, did for us?

Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8 (CSB)

At any point in His life on this earth, including the agonizing hours He was dying on the Cross, Jesus could have called upon God, His Father, to rescue Him. Yet He alone chose to bear the burden and punishment for sins. 

For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11 (CSB)

The twenty-one gun salute is one way to honor another person by symbolically placing oneself in a position of submission. Jesus Christ did far more than symbolize His submission, He willingly placed His divinity aside, emptying Himself, receiving the full wrath of God for the punishment of sin that we all deserved. Jesus Christ honored God, His Father, by dying on the Cross so that He would be resurrected in glory three days later to be eternally exalted. 

If Jesus Christ, who was fully God did this for me, I salute Him and willingly submit my life to Him to be my Lord and Savior. 

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

Mood Ring (Proverbs 20:27)

In the seventies, there were many fads that seemed to consume the general public. From streaking to pet rocks to CB radios, it seemed the public’s hunger for something new was insatiable. While I ignored most of these fads, one did intrigue me-the mood ring. 

A clever entrepreneur placed a liquid crystal, that supposedly changed colors with one’s temperature, within a ring. As one’s emotions changed, the dubious claim was this would lead to a corresponding temperature change in the wearer, changing the ring’s color, and giving rise to the clever moniker. With a glance, anyone could discern a person’s mood by noting the ring’s color. It was a hit, selling millions, and I joined the gullible throng. No more deception! We will all finally know how someone is feeling. 

Of course, it didn’t truly work and in reality, most of us do a very good job at concealing our moods. The expression, “Wear your emotions on your sleeve.” only applies to a few and how is one to know if the emotion or mood that are being expressed are actually intentional or meant to confuse or cover up our true thoughts? I don’t think an authentic mood ring exists or will ever be invented. Our minds and hearts are too adept at creating layers of deception and denial, even to ourselves. Is there anyone that can truly know our true moods and feelings? 

Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief.

Proverbs 14:13 (NKJV)

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.

Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV)

The mood ring ultimately failed since it didn’t work. However, a deeper reason for its failure is why would anyone want to let others know what their mood is or how they are truly feeling? We choose to hide or disguise our moods and feelings for fear of revealing our true attitude or a myriad of other reasons known only to ourselves. Only to an omniscient and omnipresent God can we be completely transparent and honest, even with ourselves. God knows everything about us and therefore we can trust Him to understand the origins of our darkest thoughts and help us to navigate the fickleness of our hearts.  


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

“It Weakens My Credibility!” (2 Corinthians 10:10-11)

For several years, I was privileged to work with a colleague who was a national expert in disorders of blood clotting, also known as coagulation disorders. Like many pathologists in the United States, including myself, Jake was board certified in both anatomic and clinical pathology. However, he spent nearly all of his clinical hours consulting on complicated coagulation diseases in the hospital, particularly in the ICU, saving many patients’ lives. Coagulation is one of the major specialties of clinical pathology. Thus, although he was an excellent surgical pathologist, he did not have the time to keep up to date with the latest advances. As a result, his surgical pathology skills understandably declined. One day he called a meeting of the partners and requested that he be allowed to only concentrate on coagulation. He confessed that he was increasingly concerned about making a mistake such as not ordering the proper additional studies because he was not up to date on the latest treatment and prognostic markers. Like the care and expertise he gave to his coagulation patients, he did not want to give any other patient he was caring for anything but his absolute best. 

He sighed and lamented, “Anytime I miss ordering an important study on a surgical pathology case, it weakens my credibility as a specialist in coagulation.”

Although I also trained in clinical pathology, including coagulation, my experience and knowledge, unlike Jake, were still mired at the resident level. Nearly all of my clinical work was spent in surgical pathology, interacting with the surgeons and oncologists. While I had credibility with these clinical colleagues if I were to consult on a coagulation problem with this same group of physicians, my credibility as a surgical pathologist would definitely be called into question because my weaknesses would be exposed.

Regardless of the profession we choose, we will always have our areas of expertise and weaknesses. A gastroenterologist may not be comfortable when confronted with a schizophrenic patient. A labor law attorney may hesitate to accept a case involving a divorce. What about our spiritual credibility? There have been many times when my credibility has been questioned and I expect it, but the Apostle Paul, the greatest defender of the early Christian Church?

For some say, “Paul’s letters are demanding and forceful, but in person he is weak, and his speeches are worthless!” Those people should realize that our actions when we arrive in person will be as forceful as what we say in our letters from far away.

2 Corinthians 10:10-11 (NLT)

Even Paul had to defend his credentials when his detractors focused upon his supposed poor oration skills.  It is disheartening that our credibility sometimes rests upon the misguided or short-sighted expectations of others. Thanks be to God that if we are a true believer in Jesus Christ, we can allow the Holy Spirit to speak for us and defend our actions. God never abandons His children if we are willing to place our faith in Him.

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

“I’ll Do It! (Psalms 56:3-4)

Our third grade class was treated to a memorable and very special tour of our local fire station. We were allowed to climb aboard the massive hook and ladder, slide down the fireman’s pole, and hold a fire hose that was spraying water. We were enthralled to be entrusted with such great responsibilities. 

At the end of the tour, the Captain of the station smiled and shouted, “Who wants to volunteer for a special surprise?”

For some reason, all my youthful inhibitions melted away and I jumped up, raised my hand, and boldly declared, “I’ll do it!” Two of the firefighters escorted me to the safety net, the trampoline-like device that firefighters used to catch people that needed to jump to safety from a burning building. “Don’t be scared!” the Captain attempted to reassure me. “I’m not!” I answered, oblivious to what was about to happen.

For about thirty seconds, the firefighters repeatedly bounced me for what seemed to be minutes. I had no idea how high I bounced but my teacher later told me it was at least 15 feet. The irony is that I am terrified of heights and had I known what was about to happen, I may not have been so eager to volunteer. It was the firefighters’ welcoming attitude and willingness to allow me to enter their exclusive domain that encouraged me to trust them with the unknown. In spite of my fears, I trusted that they would not allow me to be harmed. Isn’t this how God cares for His children?

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

Psalms 56:3-4 (ESV)

I already had great respect for the firefighters before that encounter which further served to strengthen my admiration and trust for them. God does the same for all who place their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Every encounter with the unknown is another opportunity to see His promises fulfilled and to further trust Him to protect and guide us through life’s uncertainties. 

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

Temperature Check (Romans 1:20)

In compliance with the new public health guidelines for businesses that are operating during the COVID19 pandemic, I instituted temperature checks of my employees and screening for cold or flu-like signs and symptoms when they entered my office. The non-contact digital thermometer facilitated these screenings. Of course, these devices have been around for a while but usually my medical assistants or nurses have taken my patient’s temperatures before I have seen them. This was the first time I was using this in my business setting. 

As I held the thermometer up to each employee’s forehead, a quick read of the temperature appeared. It was interesting to see the range of normal temperatures but then an idea struck, what if I checked other areas of the body? I tried it on myself. My forehead registered 97.5F but my bare foot registered 92F. It was a five degree swing!

The first thing that flashed through my mind was gout!

Many of us are familiar with the debilitating signs of symptoms of gout, usually occurring as searing pain and throbbing in a distal extremity like the big toe. There is a reason. Gout is caused by a collection of uric acid crystals, a breakdown product of purines which are found in many meat proteins. If one has a high serum level of uric acid, cooler than normal areas in the body may facilitate this precipitation. The big toe and feet are prime locations. 

It was decades ago when I first learned this fact in medical school and in spite of the dozens of patients I have seen and diagnosed with gout, I never saw actual confirmation of the temperature change until this past week. Yet, I believed it to be true.

There are many facts that I accept because I empirically see it’s effects. I may not understand all of the complicated physics to explain gravity, but I know it exists if I drop an object. What about God? Some atheists and agnostics aver that because God cannot be seen, He does not exist. Yet, even the most strident naturalists and empirical scientists acknowledge the astronomically staggering odds of everything in the universe occurring with such precision for life to occur. One group of theoretical physicists, none of them Christians, published an article that for the universe to begin as the Big Bang and lead to the formation of the stars, planets, and life would require a probability of 1 x 10*120. This is greater than the number of known particles in the universe! To explain how this could naturally occur, without acknowledging an intelligent Creator, they hypothesized that “an unknown agent” likely intervened to create such precision. 

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Romans 1:20 (NLT)

The complexity of Creation should lead one to search for an intelligent Creator, not some unknown agent. Yet man, in his pomp and arrogance, chooses to substitute other explanations that exclude God, even when the empirical evidence is overwhelming. 

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

Romans 1:21-23 (NLT)

We accept many ideas on empirical evidence alone. God left His indelible imprint upon all of Creation so that wherever and whatever we observe, we will find Him. 

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

“Did You Think About Me?” (Psalms 139:17-18)

My friend’s wife once shared with me an endearing exchange that she regularly does with her husband.

“Sometimes when I call Jake at work or if he calls me, I will ask him, ‘Did you think about me?’ ”

Oh my! Talk about pressure! There is, of course, only one correct answer as ANY husband can attest. “Of course, Sweetheart!” She laughed when she told me this story but apparently, she has also shared this with other wives. Now, even my wife has asked me this question. It was an easy answer for me since I am ALWAYS thinking about my wife! LOL!

If I were truly always thinking about my wife, the vast majority of our conflicts would disappear or never begin. Instead, thinking about her sometimes becomes an afterthought, especially after a difficult day at work. But who could ever fulfill such a task?

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

Psalms 139:17-18 (NLT)

The sheer grandeur of this statement is staggering. God loves me so deeply and He continually thinks about me, but not only me, but every living creature who has lived or ever will live, all at the same time. Only an omnipotent and omniscient God can do this. Why? He continually wants to reassure all believers in Jesus Christ that He will never leave nor forsake us. 

“Did you think about me?”

Even with my best intentions, I will never be able to answer this truthfully. All praise to the living God that He is always thinking about me.

What an awesome God He is!

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