Contentiousness (Proverbs 26:21)

The other day, I was thinking about a particular topic and needed a Bible that had an exhaustive concordance, a tool that allows one to search for keywords in a text with the accompanying referenced passages. The Bible I was searching for was my wife’s and it was always located on her nightstand. As I opened the Bible, the pages opened to the book of Daniel, chapter 10, because something was nestled in the pages. There it was. It was my wife’s diamond engagement ring. Here is the actual photo of the Bible page with the ring indentation, on the concordance word contentiousness.

Contentiousness is the state of being in an argument or disagreement or having a tendency to quarrel and dispute.  God’s message spoke very clearly to me. For a while, I was dismayed that my wife did not wear her engagement ring. She is a dentist and I understood that it was difficult for her to wear it given her frequent hand-washing and wearing of gloves. Yet, when she wasn’t working, I noted that she still did not wear her ring. When I asked her about it, she would always state that she forgot. Now, I suspected the real answer. I brought the ring to her and placed it on her finger. 

She looked at me awkwardly and said, “Oh! Where did you find this?”

“It was in your Bible, on your nightstand. It fell out of the pages when I opened it.” I paused for a moment. “Did you think you lost your ring?”

“Uh…wasn’t sure.” She sheepishly replied. I was about to suggest that she lost her ring and was giving an excuse that she forgot to wear her ring but I stopped myself, remembering the Bible concordance reference. I smiled and said, “Well, now you can wear it.” 

Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.

Proverbs 26:21 (NASB)

My immediate reaction was to allow the incident to foment strife between us. God had other plans and I am thankful for His divine lesson and intervention in my life at a critical teaching moment.

Praise God!

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

The Cost Of Fellowship (Luke 22:15)

Jake is a dear brother in Christ who was involved in a horrific car accident many years ago. It left him with traumatic brain injury and ended his very successful career as a prominent physician. His steadfast faith in God and the support of many friends, family, and the Church during his time of rehabilitation, helped him recover but he still bore many scars, physical and emotional.

Years later, through God’s providence, he, another brother in Christ, and I, meet regularly for a time of fellowship and prayer. One day when we were sharing, Jake expressed how grateful he was to meet on a regular basis, yet the meetings required a great deal of emotional and physical effort, and after we met, he would need to take a nap to rest. 

I enjoyed our times of fellowship but sometimes I found myself bemoaning the fact that I had to work a full day then rush home to join our virtual fellowship. When I learned the great sacrifice that Jake made to regularly meet with both of us, it moved me to tears. I was ashamed that I would even allow myself to think such selfish thoughts when my brother sacrificed his health to meet with us. He understood the true cost of fellowship far better than I did.

Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins.

Luke 22:15 (NLT)

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, echoed this same desire to have fellowship with His disciples. Jesus endured the humiliating pain and suffering of dying on the Cross so that our broken relationship with God would be restored by His Resurrection. Before this happened, He revealed His deep desire to have a meal and fellowship with them. In spite of the suffering He knew He would soon experience, His priority was focused upon spending sweet fellowship with His disciples, the twelve men with whom He shared His life for the previous three years. Nothing, not even death on the Cross, would prevent Jesus from entering into His time of fellowship. 

My dear brother’s desire to have fellowship with us always inspires me. His deep faith in Jesus Christ encourages me to faithfully support him and our other brother through prayers and frequent messages. He embodies the love and devotion that Jesus Christ demonstrated to have fellowship with us. 

May God bless all your times of fellowship with those whom you love. 

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

Lost In Translation (Romans 8:26-27)

When I was growing up, there was an amusing television commercial involving the interaction of a dentist with his patient. With the patient’s mouth numb from Novocaine and an aspirator in his mouth, the dentist was diligently working away. During the procedure, the patient attempted to carry on a conversation with the dentist. With the typical garbled speech of someone whose tongue is numb and several instruments stuck in one’s mouth, most of the words were unintelligible. Nonetheless, the dentist smiled and nodded to everything the patient said, joining in the conversation and interjecting an occasional, “Oh really?” and “Wow, he didn’t see that coming!”

Finally, the procedure ended and the dentist removed the instruments. As he was cleaning up, the patient continued his conversation, this time speaking very clearly. The dentist looked at him with a befuddled look then immediately grabbed one of his instruments, placed it back in the patient’s mouth and asked him to repeat what he was saying. The patient’s garbled speech returned and the dentist smiled and said, “Yes! Absolutely!” It was all very entertaining and true. Somehow, dentists are able to translate this garbled speech into intelligible phrases that are otherwise lost in translation.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27 (NASB)

When I am overwhelmed with multiple simultaneous problems, my prayers are often fumbled and unfocused. Like a dental patient with too many instruments in their mouth, I unnecessarily burden my soul with too many worldly concerns, hindering my prayers. Thanks be to God that although my prayers are garbled, it is not lost in translation with God. His Holy Spirit intervenes in my life and helps me to pray in a manner that only He understands and can properly interpret.

God, who created me, understands my deepest needs and concerns. When I am unable to clearly pray, His Holy Spirit intervenes and speaks through me and for me to intercede on my behalf to my Heavenly Father. No matter my circumstances, if I desire to pray and speak to God, His Holy Spirit will always reassure me that nothing I think or say will ever be lost in translation when I direct it to God. 

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

“If You Are Not Paying For The Product…” (Romans 8:31-32)

“If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.”

Perry Alexander, Ph.D.

This disturbing and insightful quotation has been applied to the rampant and exponential growth of social media in our lives. Numerous pundits have cautioned that the seemingly free services of connecting people through various social media sites have resulted in an inexorable erosion of our sensibilities and ability to freely choose how we live our lives. The information we choose to view, the choice of our friends and contacts, even the items we purchase are being subtly manipulated by sophisticated algorithms and artificial intelligence utilized by these sites. We think we are freely choosing when in reality, all of our choices are adding more data points to  sophisticated computer programs that allow the sites to better manipulate and influence our choices. 

This Orwellian vision generates heated discussions across all political and cultural spectrums. The most sinister and existential predictions envision a world controlled by an elite few utilizing these social media sites to direct and control our actions, all under the guise of free will and choice. 

We are the product. 

This prediction made me reflect upon other things that I have seemingly not paid for. For a time, I was a pantheist, and while I believed in the concept of God, I could not understand the worldview of Christianity and God’s sacrifice for me through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. It seemed too easy. Jesus died for your sins. Confess and repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you do, you will have eternal life and salvation.

That’s it?

It seemed like Jesus was giving salvation away for free. Why would He do this? Like today’s social media sites, was I being manipulated to give up my free will? What about doing good deeds? Being nice to people? Helping charities? Don’t these things make a difference in this world and get you into Heaven? These things DO make a difference in this world but do not get you into Heaven, only faith and belief in Jesus Christ does. How did this happen?

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (NASB)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Romans 8:31-32 (NASB)

We did not pay the price for the free gift of eternal life with God, Jesus Christ did. Why did He do this? He loved us so much that He gave His life that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life. 

We are the product.

Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase and redeem us with His Blood. 

Praise God!

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

The Letter to Portland (Acts 19:34)

Much of the New Testament is composed of letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to churches that He founded or had an important role in establishing. These letters are an insightful look at the nascent Christian church. We learn of the generosity of the Philippian church who provided for his missionary support. We also learn of shocking debauchery of sexual deviancy in the Corinthian church. The letters are a brutally honest encouragement and chastisement of how each regional church dealt with the contemporary issues that each were facing. 

Are the issues that Paul confronted different from what we face today? When Paul was in Ephesus, a city renowned for its temple to the goddess Artemis, Paul’s preaching of Jesus Christ was converting many of the citizens, who stopped purchasing the figurines of the goddess. The merchants and artisans who made their living from selling these figurines were outraged and they stirred the citizens to reject Paul and his teachings, inciting a near-riot that lasted for two hours! 

But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

Acts 19:34 (NLT)

A riot for two hours! The Bible later recounts how the crowd angrily dragged out two of Paul’s traveling companions. It seems not much has changed in over two thousand years! What if the Apostle Paul were writing letters to the contemporary churches in Portland or Minneapolis, sites of continual riots?  What would these letters address? Black Lives Matter? The COVID-19 pandemic? The inclusion of transgender couples? 

One can only wonder what Paul may have written, but one thing is certain. Paul was never reticent to confront people with the Truth of God’s Word. In all of the cities that Paul visited, he encountered those who were hostile or indifferent to hearing God’s Word. He also found a few believers and many of them became leaders of the churches in each city. The Holy Spirit used Paul to bring the key people who could be used by God to establish the churches and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

What would the Apostle Paul have written to your city to address its problems? God provides the very clear answer. The problem is our human heart. We are sinners living in a fallen world. No political leader will solve this. No political party, neither democrat or republican, will solve this. These are man’s feeble attempts to solve a spiritual problem.

We desperately need a Savior to restore our broken relationship with God, our Creator. Only when we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior will we be able to take the first steps to heal the complex problems that confront our cities.


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

“We Were Young And Stupid!” (Proverbs 30:1-3)

It was the summer before our senior year and my closest friend, Jake, and I were returning from the beach on a Saturday afternoon and stopped off at our house to get a snack. As I opened the door, Jake said, “Hey, is your dad home? George? George? Hellooooo George!” Jake was calling my father by his first name. I stared at horror at Jake, shoved him, and whispered. “Dude! My dad is home, he’s probably sleeping!”

Jake’s eyes opened wide. “Ooops! Hope he didn’t hear me!”

From the time we were in grade school, Jake and I were always getting into mischief. Crashing parties, pranking our friends and one another, I was as puerile as he was, probably even more so. Recently, Jake texted me about a current news event. Ironically I was thinking about this incident that I just shared and texted him about it. Surprisingly, he also remembered it and texted back. 

“We were young and stupid. Not young anymore.”

“Amen!” I quickly replied.

I no longer prank my colleagues or crash parties, but I still do stupid things. The list is even longer than what I did before. I sighed as I reflected upon this statement and my life. In that moment, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and brought this Bible verse to mind. 

…I am weary, O God; I am weary and worn out, O God I am too stupid to be human, and I lack common sense. I have not mastered human wisdom, nor do I know the Holy One.

Proverbs 30:1-3 (NLT)

These words are attributed to King Solomon, acknowledged as the wisest man of his day, and perhaps who ever lived. I can take some solace that if he confessed that at the end of this life, he still did stupid things and lacked common sense. However, this does not excuse my actions. No more excuses because I am not young anymore. After all these years, is the only thing that has changed about me? What hope do I have?

Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.

Proverbs 30:5 (NLT)

Thanks be to God that He answers King Solomon a few verses later. If I simply rely upon my own efforts, I will always be disappointed and lack common sense. The only way I can overcome my stupidity is by clinging to God’s Word and asking Him to protect me. This means asking Him to guard my mouth so that no words of gossip are spoken. This means guarding my eyes so I do not look at carnal things. This means guarding my thoughts so that I remain fixated on pleasing Him alone. 

Only by doing this will God shield me from my own puerile desires and help me to gain wisdom. 

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

“We Have That Too!” (Galatians 3:26-28)

It was my wife’s family reunion in Vancouver, Canada. In addition to her extended family, we had two guests, the uncle of a close physician colleague of mine in Los Angeles and his wife. He was Egyptian and two days earlier, my family and I met him and his wife for the first time for a wonderful brunch. Later, we received a tour of his chocolate factory and received tasty samples. At the end of the day, we invited him to join my wife’s family reunion, held two days later.

As the food was laid out on the serving tables at the reunion, my sister in law was scooping the burnt rice from the bottom of the rice cooker. All of us gathered around her, anticipating the treat. Our new friend and his wife were intrigued over what we are doing and when I showed them the prized brown kernels of burnt rice, he laughed and exclaimed, “We have that too! We call it pasha! We fight over it too!”

Egyptians call it pasha.

Japanese call it koge.

Koreans call it nurungji.  

Chinese call it guoba.

Filipinos call it tutong.

Persians call it tahdig.

Whatever the language or culture, everyone fights over the burnt rice!

We were Christians, Muslims, Arabs, Persians, Asians, and Caucasians-all gathered together for a meal and a joyous celebration. Whatever differences we had, the only conflict that was important was who was going to get a portion of the burnt rice!

If only everyone could focus upon the things that unite us rather than divide us!

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:26-28 (NLT)

This unity begins within the Christian Church. If we are unable to put aside petty concerns that divide the Body of Christ, we will not be able to focus upon our true mission, to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and His offer of salvation and eternal life for all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Him as Lord and Savior. Like the love we all have for the burnt rice, the love that all true Christians have for Jesus Christ should unite us as one, transcending the language and cultural differences. This is not an option. This is the command of the Word of God.


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

Changing The Narrative (John 9:24-25)

The story ignited social media. A well-known public figure was being accused of a heinous crime. The evidence was incontrovertible, nonetheless, the pundits took sides. Predictably, his enemies lambasted him while His allies rallied to support him. Some neutral parties pointed out that his allies were attempting to shift the discussion. Instead of focusing upon the crime, they conjured a third party and postulated that they were the real culprit who manipulated events to make it appear it was solely his crime alone. It worked. After a few days, social media sites dropped the story and silenced the rants and postings of his enemies. 

They were changing the narrative. 

This happens whenever one is confronted with an uncomfortable truth that does not agree with one’s sensibilities or expectations. It could be a scandal involving a celebrity or politician or our own personal views. We clamor for the truth but is the absolute truth really what we want to hear or do we simply want to hear a truth that is in line with our expectations?

In this passage from the Gospel of John, Jesus had just performed a miracle and restored the sight of a man who had been blind from birth. The Jewish leaders and priests saw the blind man and verified with his parents that he had been blind from birth. Unable to dismiss the miracle, they attempted to change the narrative and claimed that Jesus was a sinner, performing these miracles by the power of Satan. They pressed their point with the healed blind man who responded with this stinging rebuke. 

So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

John 9:24-25 (NASB)

Jesus did many miracles during His three years of ministry. All of them were proof of His Divine nature and power. Yet, his enemies still doubted Him and attempted to change the narrative. On the Cross, He was performing the greatest miracle of all, taking all of the sins of mankind for all eternity and receiving the full punishment for it on our behalf. He died and three days later, He was resurrected. He conquered death yet there were still doubters. The Jewish elders and priests knew His grave was empty but concocted a story that would change the narrative. 

Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

Matthew 28:11-15 (NASB)

Changing the narrative. It did not work with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and it does not work with today’s scandals. 

We hunger for the Truth. Jesus Christ is the Truth. Are we willing to accept Him?

Your salvation and eternal destiny depend upon it. 


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

Weighing Our Hearts (Ephesians 2:8-9)

In Ancient Egypt, there was a belief that when a person died, the goddess Maat would take the heart of the deceased and weigh it. If it was lighter or equal to the weight of the feather she wore in her hair, the deceased was judged to live a virtuous life and allowed to enter heavenly paradise, joining the other gods. If the heart was heavier than the feather, the deceased was to remain in the underworld.

It is ancient mythology but people still wonder what happens after they die. There are some people who view God like ancient Egyptians. They believe that God is a cosmic judge who has an arbitrary criteria for deciding who enters heaven and hell. What does the Bible say?

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and  books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:11-15 (NASB)

Like the Egyptian myth, there is a judgment, but the Truth is distorted. As compelling a reason as it may seem, our salvation is not based upon the sum total of good deeds in a person’s life. This is the lie of the world, perpetrated by the father of lies, Satan. He is behind all myths and false religions. How does one’s name become recorded in the book of life? What is the Truth?

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)

We are only saved by faith through belief in Jesus Christ. It is not by any amount or type of good works. It is only by confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will we have our names written the book of life. We will have eternal life and salvation and spend eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ in Heaven. 

There are many versions and interpretations of what happens when we die. However, there is only One Truth. Jesus Christ proved it by living a sinless perfect life and dying on the Cross. Three days later, He was resurrected proving that He alone conquered death and forever destroyed the plan of Satan to deceive this world. 

Our hearts are weighed when we choose Jesus Christ in this lifetime, not after we die. 

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

Back Up Singers (Psalms 105:19)

Gladys Knight and the Pips

Diana Ross and the Supremes

Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes

These are just a few of the iconic singing groups that share the common link of a lead singer accompanied by memorable backup singers/dancers. Watch any of these groups and the backup singers will perform a highly choreographed dance with the tune and punctuate the song in harmony with “oohs and aahs” masterfully blending their voices with their star attraction. 

While we are familiar with the lead singers, most of us, including myself, know very little of the back up singers. In fact, if one of the back up singers were replaced with another, it is doubtful whether many people would notice, particularly if we were listening to an audio recording. Yet, a select few have made a name for themselves. Elton John, John Legend, and Cher are just a few of the mega superstars who began their careers as back up singers. Ironically, their careers easily eclipsed the singers with whom they initially began. 

The Bible records many examples when God will take someone serving in the shadow of a famous and powerful person and elevate them to a status even greater than the one they served. Perhaps there is no more dramatic an example than the story of Joseph. He was betrayed by his own brothers and sold into slavery, eventually working as a slave in the household of a prominent Egyptian officer. Yet, he did not remain in the background with the rest of the slaves.

From the time that he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house because of Joseph. The LORD’s blessing was on all that he owned, in his house and in his fields.

Genesis 39:5 (CSB)

A few years later, Joseph found himself imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Yet he did not remain in the background with the rest of the prisoners.

But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him. He granted him favor with the prison warden. The warden put all the prisoners who were in the prison under Joseph’s authority, and he was responsible for everything that was done there. The warden did not bother with anything under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him, and the LORD made everything that he did successful.

Genesis 39:21-23 (CSB)

After God enabled Joseph to interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams, something none of his other advisors or magicians could do, Joseph was elevated to become second in power over the entire kingdom of Egypt, at that time, the most powerful kingdom in the world. 

…“Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit in him?” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one as discerning and wise as you are. You will be over my house, and all my people will obey your commands. Only I, as king, will be greater than you.”

Genesis 41:38-40 (CSB)

In this life, we may be a nameless backup singer or office worker, laboring in the shadow of a great person. Rarely, an opportunity may arise that will allow one to be elevated to a position of great fame. In God’s Kingdom, He will also elevate the lowly and forgotten to positions of fame and glory. However, the purpose is not to bring glory and fame to the person, it is God’s way to test the person’s faith. For Joseph, the many years of persecution and trials, laboring as a slave and prisoner, were used to mature his faith and trust in God’s provision for his life. 

Until the time his prediction came true, the word of the LORD tested him.

Psalms 105:19 (CSB)

Whatever our position in life, if we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be elevated to a position of glory, in this life or in the next, for all eternity. 

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