Safe Place (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

“Do you have a moment, I would like to talk to you.”

“Sure thing Jake.”

Jake’s eyes nervously shifted as he sat down in front of me in my office. Jake was a clinical laboratory scientist  in the hospital for which I was associated at that time. Over the preceding two years, we had developed a close professional relationship. He often spoke to me about his future career development and I assumed this was what we were about to discuss. 

“I don’t know if you heard but I recently came out.”

His disclosure caught me by surprise but I remained expressionless, aware that he was gauging my reaction. “I have struggled with my sexuality for most of my life. I know I am gay.”

I smiled as I reassured him. “Listen Jake. I know this is a very difficult time for you. If you need a place to chill and just have some alone time, you are always welcome in my office. This is a safe place.”

“Thanks Doc. I appreciate it.”

I have never hidden my Christian faith from my co-workers. Some Christians do have a reputation of being anti-gay so I was grateful that this work associate was willing to confide in me. I struggle with my pride and temper. Others may struggle with drug addiction and still others may struggle with their sexual identity. Sin is sin and we are all sinners. In God’s eyes, no sin is greater or less than another. If someone feels they have the right to judge another, they should first look to the example of Jesus Christ. He spent more time with the sinners and outcasts of society than anyone else. He met them exactly where they were in life and offered them compassion when everyone else rejected or ridiculed them. In today’s society, we are faced with ever changing gender roles with confusing terminology. We should seek to be like Jesus Christ, who accepted and embraced all who came to Him so that He would allow them to see the truth of the absolute goodness and mercy of God, the Father.

This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life. 

1 Timothy 1:15-16 (CSB)

The beautiful Truth is God deals with our sins, not by condemnation, but by grace and mercy for all who are willing to turn away from our sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. God demonstrates His patience and love to us by always providing a safe place for all who seek salvation and eternal life through the forgiveness of one’s sins. 

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

Mighty Warriors (2 Samuel 23:8)

These are the names of David’s mightiest warriors. The first was Jashobeam the Hacmonite, who was leader of the Three—the three mightiest warriors among David’s men. He once used his spear to kill 800 enemy warriors in a single battle.

2 Samuel 23:8 (NLT)

At the end of his amazing life, King David could look back and fondly recall many great warriors whom God used to assist him in establishing the Kingdom of Israel. This chapter from 2 Samuel begins a remarkable list of names followed by a description of some of their mighty deeds. God honored the faith of these men by naming them in the Bible. 

Through the years, I have met many mighty warriors for God. My friend Jake just celebrated twenty years of sobriety. He candidly confessed to me, “My wife told me she would leave me if I took one more drink.” He knew he had to make a radical change in his life and he did. He confessed and repented of his sins and accepted Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. Through strength and faith in His Name, he gave up drinking, saved his marriage, and now was a successful businessman. There is Sally, who conquered her opioid addiction through faith in Jesus Christ and was reunited with her family. There is Stuart, who asked Jesus for courage to forgive his wife of adultery and restore his marriage. These modern warriors may not make the headlines of newspapers but they will be recognized in God’s Book of Life for their unwavering faith in God when their circumstances seemed bleak and hopeless. 

Mighty acts of faith by trusting in God will always be recognized by Him, in this life or the next. Someday in Heaven, I will be able to meet David and his mighty warriors who helped him conquer his many enemies. I will also be reunited with my many brothers and sisters who lived their lives as mighty warriors, conquering their private demons through faith and trust in their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

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

“Fresh Bread!” (Exodus 20:4-5)

The young man clad in a red apron emerged from the swinging door of the kitchen.

“Fresh bread!”

On cue, a dozen customers swarmed the man holding a tray of the freshly baked loaves. Seconds later, the tray was empty. There is something intoxicating about the smell of freshly baked bread, surpassed only by the explosion of senses that follows when one bites into it. 

I know this experience very well. For over twenty years, my mother baked fresh bread every week. Recently my wife has started baking bread, bringing back a rush of pleasant and delicious memories from childhood. To continue to receive this treat, one must keep the bread starter alive. If one does not “feed” the starter, refresh it with flour and water, it will not be able to be used after one week and the yeast will die. For my mother, it was a true commitment and she never traveled for more than a week out of fear that her starter would die. Of course, she could have asked someone else to feed her starter but she insisted on doing it herself, jealousy determined to keep it alive. 

You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods…

Exodus 20:4-5 (NLT)

The Bible often speaks of God as a jealous God. Isn’t jealousy an egregious sin? Is God a sinner? Of course the answer is no. Jealousy is a sin depending upon the context. If we covet someone else’s possession, something that does not belong to us, then it is a sin. God created all of us and we belong to Him. When we turn away from God and follow after the idols of this world like money, titles and awards, or physical gratification, He desires to prevent us from hurting and destroying ourselves. God’s love is perfect, complete, and all-consuming. It is a jealous love for us.

My mother’s jealous devotion to her starter was admirable and every week we were the grateful recipients. God jealously is devoted to His children and will do everything to demonstrate His love, even to send His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a Cross for the punishment for our sins which we rightfully deserved. 

Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy through faith and belief in His Son, Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. 

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

Psychiatric Consult (Job 6:24)

It was 6 PM and I had been at the hospital for twelve straight hours. It was dark when I arrived and when I left. I was doing my clinical rotation in obstetrics and gynecology as a third-year medical student. I never left the labor and delivery area, not even to get a meal. As I staggered to my car, I realized that I was bordering on clinical depression. I was initially astounded by the beauty and excitement of helping to deliver a new life into this world but after eight straight weeks and every third night on call, my enthusiasm was gone. I lost interest in patient care and the sleep deprivation changed my behavior. I was short-tempered and lashed out at friends and family members for insignificant issues. I argued incessantly with my colleagues and even began to hate medicine. I wanted out but saw no exit. As irrational as it seemed, I was about to throw away all my years of preparation to get into medical school because I could not cope with this one rotation.

What a difference the next month made when I began my clinical elective in psychiatry. I now had relatively normal hours and began each day in a hospital nestled at the base of a beautiful mountain range. Every morning as I drove to the hospital, I was greeted by a sunrise, illuminating an idyllic scene of green forests and waterfalls. It was exactly what I needed to recharge and reconnect with God and myself. In this tranquil setting I was able to quiet my mind and listen to God. Within a few days, God redirected my life and priorities. I needed to be in a residency and career with regular hours but there was a problem. By that point, I had already submitted my applications for residency. I wanted to be a pediatric hematologist-oncologist, a specialist in childhood cancers. My applications were already sent to about a dozen pediatric residency programs in the country. My dreams were being shattered. What could I do? 

Once again, I retreated to the solitude of prayer with God and He answered with a creative solution. He showed me a new pathway, one that I had not even considered, and did not even know existed when I began medical school. I would become a pediatric pathologist. I always enjoyed surgical pathology and this career would give me the best of both worlds. I immediately withdrew my pediatric applications and reapplied to pathology. Although I later changed my sub-specialization to dermatopathology, my career path in pathology was set. 

Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.

Job 6:24 (ESV)

…Be still, and know that I am God.

Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

My medical specialty as a pathologist is the antithesis of psychiatry but ironically, it was a clinical rotation in psychiatry that brought me to my present career.  Psychiatry is derived from the Greek and literally means healing of the soul and mind. A psychiatric consult from God, the Great Physician, re-routed my career goals! Once again, He healed my broken and confused soul and realigned my priorities with His direction. All I needed to do was be silent and listen to Him.


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

A Time Bomb (Matthew 16:26)

I just sold the car that I owned for nine years. It was unquestionably the finest driving experience I ever had but it was a conditional joy. Whenever I was driving the car, I was elated but after a few thousand miles, I knew an expensive repair would have to be made. It was a terrible feeling knowing that whatever happiness I experienced was ephemeral, soon to be replaced by the fear that it would fail…again. I was driving a time bomb. I finally had enough and sold the car, vowing to never again waste my money on a depreciating material possession. 

After the sale, I breathed a sigh of relief and reflected upon the experience. Is this the way I should live? I am always learning but never coming to the complete truth. The great evangelist, Ravi Zacharias, succinctly and eloquently described our forlorn state. 

The loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced that which you thought would deliver the ultimate and it has just let you down.

Ravi Zacharias

Some of us cling to our possessions, careers, even people, hoping that any or all of these will bring us the happiness we so desperately seek. God understands our desperate state and asks all of us to ponder His question.

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

Matthew 16:26 (NLT)

God definitely answers His own question. 

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

Anything we cling to, outside of a relationship with God, is a time bomb, destined to self-destruct and let us down. Only by confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior are we able to free ourselves from the inevitable pathway to disappointment. When we seek a relationship with Jesus Christ, He will give us everything we need, much more desirable than anything we want. 

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

Crisis (Numbers 13:30-32 )

As this country is recovering from the COVID19 pandemic and grappling with the chaos and destruction of protests against police brutality, there are many questions that are being raised from all sides of the political and cultural spectrum. 

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” This quotation has been attributed to many people, most recently, Rahm Emmanuel, the former Chief of Staff to President Obama. In reality, the ancient Chinese had created a written character for their word for crisis and it was composed of two characters signifying danger and opportunity or a changing point. 

When a crisis occurs, one can panic or recognize there are opportunities to heal and move society forward. Unfortunately, evil competing forces are also seizing upon this crisis and co-opting it for their own nefarious schemes. Under the banner of protesting for racial justice, thugs are using it as a pretext to loot business and even murder innocent people. 

Thousands of years ago, the Israelites faced a crisis. After forty years of wandering in the desert, they were now on the border of the land that God promised to give them. Moses chose twelve men to spy out the territory. While it was lush and rich in resources, ten of them balked at the task that was before them, fearful of the inhabitants of the land. However, one of them, Caleb, supported by Joshua, spoke up and attempted to encourage the Israelities. 

But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.”

Numbers 13:30-32 (NLT)

Every crisis brings danger and an opportunity for change. How we respond will mean the difference between fomenting more crises or moving forward to a better solution that can prevent future ones. Caleb and Joshua trusted God’s promises to deliver them. The others succumbed to their fears and used it as a pretext to disobey God and add to the crisis.

The Bible always reminds every believer in Jesus Christ that God never abandons us. During the most serious crisis, He is always walking alongside us. Even if we cannot see His presence, He will make His guidance and power known. We are to respond by relying upon God’s promises to deliver us through every circumstance, no matter how hopeless it first appears. When the situation appears the darkest is an opportunity for a Christian to be salt and light to a hurting and broken world. 


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

Knowledge Expert (Colossians 1:15-17)

Many years ago, I was hired to be a consultant pathologist for a laboratory in a small hospital. There were eleven people in the hospital administration and all directly reported to the medical director, who was also one of the owners of the hospital. Ten of these people had official job titles like Director of Nursing or Director of Human Resources. One woman, who was the medical director’s executive secretary, always bemoaned her lack of an official title, claiming she was just a secretary. One day at a staff meeting, the medical director had enough and turned to her and declared, “Sally, you are always complaining that you don’t have a title. You keep me organized but you do much more for this hospital. You make sure the departments speak to each other. You know the life story of every employee who has ever worked here. You know how to get things for our hospital when others do not even know where to begin.” His face beamed as he made this proclamation. “You are the Knowledge Expert! This is your official title!”

Every organization seems to have someone who has their finger on every granular aspect of operations. They are the glue for an organization and while they may not have an official title, they are the true knowledge experts within their sphere of influence. In the administrative hierarchy of the company, she was the lowest in rank but her importance was undeniable, second only to the owner. She held everything together. This sounds familiar!

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:15-17 (ESV)

Jesus Christ holds Creation together; He is literally the binding glue that allows the Universe to exist. He did not come to our world as a rich man, a ruler of a nation, or even a professional like a lawyer. He was born to a poor couple, the son of a carpenter. He lived the life of an itinerant preacher and was executed on the Cross like a common criminal. His humble position belied the glory of the God Incarnate, living amongst us as a Man. 

If an organization is fortunate to have a knowledge expert, operations will undoubtedly run smoothly. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have the true and perfect Knowledge Expert as your glue to hold your life together. 

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

“It’s Not The Charcoal!” (1 Peter 2:2-3)

The analysis showed that while the lighting was four stars, the ash and burn time were three stars, but the maximum temperature only was two stars. I shook my head. This did not seem to be an ideal charcoal. I moved on to the next. 

When I first began seriously barbecuing and smoking, I submerged myself in the specialized world of the pitmaster. I devoured books on the subject, subscribed to numerous online forums, and researched my fuel. There are dozens of scholarly websites all dedicated to the nuances of charcoal. The hours that were spent sifting through the numerous brands of charcoal was impressive and confusing. One pundit declared one brand while another proclaimed another. I needed direction from an expert. 

A short time later, I was privileged to take a barbeque and smoking class from a true pitmaster, one who has appeared on numerous cooking shows and he and his students have won countless national and international contests. During our class, one of the participants asked him what brand of charcoal he preferred. He smiled thoughtfully and said, “I know that there are a lot of people who will spend hours researching and arguing which charcoal is the best. I’m going to tell you a secret.” Like a famous brokerage commercial from the Seventies, we all quieted down and leaned in to hear his words of wisdom. 

“It’s not the charcoal! It’s the quality of your meat!”

He further elaborated that while the choice of charcoal is important, the quality of one’s meat will always be the most critical factor. “If you start with poor quality meat, it does not matter how good your smoker or charcoal is, you will not have a good finished product. Conversely, if you start with good meat, I can teach you the subtle things to make it a great meal.”

Since that class, I have definitely found his statement to be true. It resonated with me since the applications of my teacher’s statement are much broader than he intended. Like being consumed by the choice of charcoal, at times in my spiritual life, I have been distracted by peripheral issues that I think are important without realizing that I was neglecting the core reasons for my belief in God. I have been distracted by details such as achieving the right musical balance on the worship team rather than focusing on the message of the praise song. I will be bogged down by managing the interpersonal conflicts on a church committee rather than seeking to redirect the focus upon God and the harmony in the Body of Christ. All of these are important but if these activities lead me to lose sight of the overall goal, to draw closer to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, then I need to re-prioritize my actions.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

1 Peter 2:2-3 (ESV)

I should always be seeking and drinking the pure milk of God’s Word rather than nibbling at tidbits and morsels, believing they have profound importance, but later learning they only have the appearance of spirituality. This is the true meat of a relationship with Jesus Christ, to taste and see that the Lord is Good!

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

I Would Like To Have This (1 Peter 4:2-4 )

It was Spring Break of my sophomore year in college and my best friend and classmate invited me to his home in Los Angeles for a week. It was my first time visiting many of the tourist landmarks of the City of Angels and a special treat was an intimate visit through Koreatown. He and his family were first generation Koreans and lived a mile away from the largest Koreatown in the United States. He was excited to share his favorite restaurants and markets of his childhood. It was an amazing week of food, surpassed only by his mother’s superb cooking. Every dinner was a banquet of Korean delicacies, sparing no expense. I knew these were special meals since my friend’s sister kept remarking, “Mom! You haven’t made this in years!”

Their generous spirit made a deep impression upon me but it was their faith in God that moved me. Devoutly religious, the family always said grace before each meal. Led by the father, the prayers were conducted in Korean. Although I spoke no Korean, I viscerally felt the intensity of his prayers within my soul. Dinner was often filled with conversations about how God was teaching them lessons about life. I politely listened, having nothing to add, but intently interested in hearing about a slice of life for which I had no background. 

After dinner, the father sat down in front of the television, while my classmate and his younger sister sat on either side of their mother on the sofa. They both lovingly grabbed the closest hand of their mother and gently held it as his sister leaned her head on her mother’s shoulder. As I gazed upon this tender scene, I didn’t know what was happening but I knew I would like to have this.

You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you.

1 Peter 4:2-4 (NLT)

Until that point in my life, I was vehemently anti-Christian. My life was entirely self-centered, fixated on instant gratification and achieving success at any cost. Meeting my friend in college was one way God began to change my heart. The visit to his home was a major turning point and within a week after I returned to my college campus, I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. 

I wanted to have what my friend and his family so graciously shared with me. God’s grace and mercy granted my deepest desire, to find salvation and eternal life through faith and belief in Jesus Christ. 

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

This Is The Time! (2 Corinthians 6:2)

“My father is being cared for by the top infectious disease expert in the country. He is a classmate of my sister who just arrived there.”

My close friend was sharing the tragic news that his father was just hospitalized with COVID19 infection. He was stable in one of the top hospitals in his home country and being cared for by the top physicians. However, he felt helpless, unable to travel because of his own medical condition that placed him at high risk for infection. In addition, a mandatory one week quarantine was in place for all visitors that arrived in  that country. Through a series of complicated connections that included friends from high school and high government officials, my friend was able to secure special travel provisions for his sister, a physician, to travel to the country. Through other connections, he was able to secure several units of blood that his father desperately needed because he had a relatively rare blood type.

“Yes.” I agreed with him. “You must use all the connections you have, all the favors you can call in. This is the time.”

It had been a difficult few days and my friend was being pulled in dozens of directions. Even during the time he was sharing this news, he was being texted by several family members and business associates concerned about taking care of his father’s financial affairs. I empathized with his situation and recalled a similar time of crisis in my life when I needed all the connections I could muster. 

My life completely fell apart when I was completing my second year of residency. For a series of complex reasons, I found myself without a residency program, without an apartment, and even without a church. All of my usual connections were gone and I had to dig deep to find someone who could help me. I desperately cried out to God who came to my aid through several connections of my father who put me in contact with attorneys and financial advisors. Through an unlikely connection, a Christian brother from another state put me in touch with a local Pastor who accepted me into his church. It was a harrowing time but within a few weeks, I was back on my feet. My residency program was secure; I had a new apartment; and I had a supportive Pastor and a new church. This was the time to call in connections and God dramatically answered my prayers.

We should not wait until a life-changing crisis intervenes in our lives to call upon those who can assist us. Sadly, I often treat my relationship with God in the same manner. God is always ready to shower me with His blessings but in my arrogance, I think that I can handle things on my own. God is my last resort instead of my first choice for any issue, no matter how large or small. 

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV)

This is the time-every moment of our lives. Our eternal destiny depends upon it. 

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