Only Vietnamese People Are There! (Titus 2:7-8)

One of my foodie friends is Vietnamese and she recently was raving about a restaurant that featured a delectable version of the traditional Vietnamese Banh mi sandwich. Her business was located in the same city as the restaurant and she was excited for our family to sample this sandwich. On this day, she texted me with the following, “Let me know if you want me to pick up some Banh mi for your family. Sooo good!”

I had not heard about this restaurant and a quick search through social media sites had very few reviews. I texted back. “I know you have been there so I trust you! Yes, get us four sandwiches of their best seller!”

She immediately texted back. “Don’t worry. I promise you it’s good. Always a good sign, when only Vietnamese people are in the restaurant!”

My Vietnamese friend is very picky about her native cuisine. In this age of political correctness, such a statement is sure to raise eyebrows and lead to woke pushback and inevitable shaming. Yet there is truth in her statement. If natives approve and believe the food to be an accurate recreation of their homeland’s cuisine, they would certainly endorse and support the restaurant. Simply because foreigners also enjoy the food does not disqualify a restaurant as authentic but it would be more encouraging if natives also supported it. 

When we see other Christians whom we respect, engage in different activities that we have not experienced, we may be more willing to follow their lead since their involvement may lend credibility and acceptance. In my spiritual walk, I have read books that were recommended by evangelists and Bible scholars whom I respect. I have visited their home churches and participated in seminars that they recommended. I did this because I trusted their judgment. They are mighty saints of God and I was confident that the decisions they made were based upon a solid faith in God. 

…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Titus 2:7-8 (NKJV)

We do make decisions based upon the actions of others whom we respect. Thus, we should always pay heed to how we behave with others. God encourages all believers to set a godly example to non-believers. It is not always easy but if we set this as our goal, God will always honor our efforts.


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

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Proper Advice (1 Timothy 4:12)

It was the first day of our dermatology residency interviews. For five hours, I and the rest of the dermatology faculty would interview twelve applicants, all vying for our one residency position in dermatology.  On this interview day, I was paired with my colleague Sally, a renowned dermatologic surgeon. During the interviews, we offered the applicants an opportunity to ask us questions. One applicant asked the following, “Can both of you tell me how you have mentored residents who are interested in following in your respective subspecialities?”

It was an intelligent question and we both happily obliged the applicant with our answers. 

After the interview, I turned to my colleague. “Sally, did you ever tell a resident to not pursue a career in dermatologic surgery?”

She thoughtfully smiled and said, “No, I have never told a resident not to pursue a career in dermatologic surgery but for some, I knew they did not have the proper skill sets to succeed in this speciality. For those applicants, I would gently help them to focus upon their strengths and guide them to other possibilities.”

I understood. I love basketball but at a towering five foot two, it is highly unlikely that I would ever be successful in the game. The old adage, “Surgeons are born, not made.” still has merit. Excellent manual dexterity, the stamina to work long hours under grueling physical and mental demands, all mated with intelligence and the ability to make quick decisive decisions-a surgeon must be a physician with a unique set of skills to successfully fulfill these demands. 

The Apostle Paul mentored many great Saints in the Church. Timothy was his adopted son in faith and he devoted two letters in the Bible to instruct him in his faith and ministry. Timothy was a young leader at the church of Ephesus. 

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

1 Timothy 4:12 (NASB)

Like my colleague’s thoughtful answer, the Apostle Paul gently guided his protege Timothy in his career. He acknowledged Timothy’s physical limitations but chose to focus upon his strengths. He knew that it was these attributes that would allow him to succeed. 

It was proper advice. 

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

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Actions Speak Louder (1 John 3:18)

The radio broadcast the grim news as air raid sirens blared. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. My mother was only six years old and while she could not fully comprehend what happened, she saw the fear on the faces of her parents and her older sister. She was confused and frightened but my grandmother knew what to do. Without speaking a word to my mother and her family, she took the photograph of the Japanese emperor and the Japanese flag and burned it in the backyard. 

Many years later, my mother recounted to me this harrowing account of that dark day for Hawaii and the United States. My grandmother spoke little English but her actions spoke far louder than any words she could have spoken.

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

1 John 3:18 (NKJV)

My grandmother’s swift actions made an indelible impression upon my mother. Many years later, the unselfish sacrifice of my college classmate made a similar impression upon me. For an entire semester, he spent hours with me explaining the Bible and showing me that Jesus Christ is God. No friend or teacher had ever devoted so much time to me. This meant more to him than studying and even spending time with his other friends. Through this brother’s example, God led me to confess and repent of my sins and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. 

Actions do speak louder than words. 

God calls every believer to set an example of faith working in our lives and that of others. As the great Protestant theologian John Calvin stated, “Faith alone saves but faith that saves is never alone.”


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

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“I Am SOOOOO Sorry!” (John 18:10-11)

When I trained in karate several years ago, one of my teachers channeled a lumberjack. His muscular neck and head was a formidable solid block on his shoulders. Although his visage was usually stern, he was quite subdued in the dojo. Yet, I sensed a smoldering hostility that could explode on demand. Reinforcing my suspicions, other teachers mentioned that I shouldn’t cross him or I would definitely regret it. With this in mind, I was extra cautious whenever I worked with him. On one occasion, when I was paired with him, he was tasked to teach me the finer points of a roundhouse kick. He carefully gave me instructions and then asked me to attempt the kick. He was a foot taller and outweighed me by at least a hundred pounds. I intended to kick with my right foot and aim for his left shoulder. In a perfectly timed burst of adrenaline, my foot landed squarely on his left jaw. 

I was horrified!

He stared straight ahead and did not say anything. Slowly he raised his right hand and rubbed the left side of his face, opening his mouth to flex his jaw. I did the only thing that any rational person would do in my place. I threw my arms around him and hugged him and exclaimed, “I am SOOOOO sorry!”

He forced a smile, still looking straight ahead and mumbled, “Yeah. No problem.”

It was a fluke. Inexperienced student gets a lucky strike on his teacher. Strategists sometimes warn that the most dangerous opponent is the inexperienced one since they are the most unpredictable. They may be willing to try anything but lack control of their techniques. Zeal with no control or discipline.

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

John 18:10-11 (NKJV)

Jesus’ disciple, Simon Peter, desperately wanted to defend His Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, when He was arrested by the Pharisees and the high priests in the Garden of Gethsemane. In a bold and wild effort to defend Jesus, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. We know this was without the approval of Jesus since Dr. Luke records in his gospel, the miraculous action of Jesus a few moments later.

But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.

Luke 22:51 (NKJV)

Zeal with no control or discipline. Peter’s three years with Jesus were marked by impulsiveness but good intentions. It would take the Resurrection and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit given by the Risen Christ to transform Peter into one of the pillars of the early Church. 

Like Peter, I have struggled with control and discipline, with my feeble attempts at karate and more importantly in my spiritual walk with God. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit am I able to learn to control my zeal and direct attention away from my actions and honor God with my life. 


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

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Do You Know What This Is? (Exodus 28:30)

Do you know what this is?

If you gave a presentation during the 1960’s through the early 1990’s, it is very likely you used Kodachrome slides projected onto a screen with a slide projector. It was a time before personal computers, laptops, and smart devices. Digital photos did not exist. Here is an example of a Kodachrome.

When I was a resident, I gave many presentations, all with Kodachromes. I had two metal files filled with thousands of these, documenting rare diseases and the outlines of my presentations. 

So what is this strange contraption?

It enabled one to take a digital photograph of the respective Kodachrome slide by sliding it into the slots on the white side of the device. Once inserted, the device is placed on a light box or strong light source. The camera lens was inserted into the hole on the black side. By taking a photo, one would be able to create a digital image of the Kodachrome. At the dawn of digital cameras, this was a quick and inexpensive way to perform this digital conversion. Of course, now there are automated devices to rapidly scan these analog photos and digitally convert them.  Presentations can now easily be given using computers, smart devices, and even live streaming through the internet. It led to the demise of this technology and by 2009, Kodachromes were no longer produced. 

Most of my staff are in their twenties and thirties and they were mystified when I used the term Kodachrome. My associate is ten years younger than I am and she still remembers using Kodachcomes for presentations but she did not know what this peculiar device was to create a digital image.

It is fascinating that in just under thirty years, a technology and device that was once ubiquitous is now nearly unknown. The Bible also describes one thing that was very commonly used and familiar to all Jews-the Umin and Thummim.

And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the LORD. So Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually.

Exodus 28:30 (NKJV)

What were the Urim and Thummim?

The priests of Israel used the Urim and Thummim whenever important spiritual decisions needed to be made. From this initial description in the Book of Exodus, they were likely small and placed behind or within the breastplate of the priest. The Old Testament contains several accounts of the Umim and Thummim being consulted. It was clearly very familiar and important, yet to this day, Bible scholars are still unsure what it looked like. 

When digital images replaced analog images, the Kodachrome ceased to be relevant. When Jesus Christ came to our world, He showed a more excellent way to enter into a relationship with God. We no longer had to inquire of priests who used the Urim and Thummim. By confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit indwells within every believer and guides us in our decisions to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. 

Praise God for His grace and mercy to all who call upon the name of Jesus Christ to be saved!

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

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“It’s The Economy, Stupid!” (Zephaniah 1:10-11)

“It’s the economy, stupid!”

James Carville, former strategist for President Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 Presidential Campaign

Carville persuaded then presidential candidate Bill Clinton to use this line as a focus point for his campaign, railing against then President George H.W. Bush and the recession the United States was experiencing. It’s success led to its adoption in many succeeding political campaigns. 

For many, the economy of our respective countries and our financial well-being often take precedence when we reflect upon our own well-being. As the adage states, “We vote with our pocket books.” 

And there shall be on that day,” says the LORD, “The sound of a mournful cry from the Fish Gate, A wailing from the Second Quarter, And a loud crashing from the hills. Wail, you inhabitants of Maktesh! For all the merchant people are cut down; All those who handle money are cut off.

Zephaniah 1:10-11 (NKJV)

It is instructive that the Prophet Zephaniah proclaimed God’s judgment upon the financial livelihood of the citizens of Jerusalem. They were focused upon their economic well being and had little regard for prophesies to repent of their sins and return to God. Thus God issued a prophecy through Zechariah that, in no uncertain terms, hit them in their pocket books. The Fish Gate, the Second Quarter, and the Maktesh were the main areas of business and commerce in Jerusalem. So long as their businesses were thriving, the Jews were unlikely to fear God and return to Him. God would make sure He had their attention. 

It’s the economy, stupid.

Indeed, sadly, sometimes this is the only way God can get our attention. 

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

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Cigarette Wrapper (Ruth 1:16-17)

Many years ago when I was a child growing up in Hawaii, my father and I were watching a documentary about World War II. It chronicled the homefront and the sacrifices that everyday Americans made to help with the war effort. All metal was in short supply and nearly every family contributed scrap metal to assist. My father’s family was poor but that did not prevent him from doing what he could.

“I remember what I used to do.” At that time in my life, my father smoked cigarettes. He held up a cigarette wrapper and pointed to the top of the package. “You see this foil? I used to go around the neighborhood streets and sidewalks and pick up used cigarette wrappers so I could collect the foil. When I had several hundred of them, I would turn them in to the metal collection sites.”

I was impressed. “Is there a lot of metal in that foil wrapper?”

My father shook his head. “No, but every little bit helped. Your grandpa was in Burma, serving as a translator, helping the Americans and British against the Japanese. Your uncle Tsutomu was in Europe fighting with the 442nd against the Germans and Italians. I wanted to do my part.”

My father was a Nisei, a second generation Japanese-American. It is ironic that he was helping with the war effort against his ancestral homeland but he had no conflict or hesitation. He was proud to be an American. I was proud of my father’s patriotism and equally proud of my family’s contribution to help end the war which threatened the liberty of our adopted homeland. 

Thousands of years ago, an alien woman also pledged allegiance to her new homeland and people. Ruth was a Moabite, a kingdom that was often in conflict with Israel, despite having a common ancestor through Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Ruth was the daughter-in-law of the widow of a Jewish woman, Naomi, whose two sons married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Tragically, her husband and both of her sons died. Seeking a better life, Naomi decided to return to Jerusalem, her homeland, and instructed her two daughter-in-laws to leave her and remain in their homeland of Moab. Orpah left but Ruth clung to her mother-in-law. 

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”

Ruth 1:16-17 (NLT)

In spite of being raised in Moab and worshipping other gods, Ruth, through her relationship with Naomi, recognized the One True God and was determined to serve Him, even turning her back on her own people. Her faith in God was rewarded and she later married a wealthy distant cousin, Boaz, and became the great grandmother of King David, the ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

The world is a beautiful family of different ethnic, cultural, and political backgrounds. While we should celebrate and embrace our heritages, there are times when our loyalties are challenged and we may have to choose, turning our back on our own. Throughout this broken world, millions like Ruth, have chosen Jesus Christ over their native religions and country. Many are persecuted, ostracized, tortured, and killed for their faith. Yet, it is their belief in the Truth that is greater than their belief in their heritage that compels them. In Jesus Christ, we are not divided by race or country but united through faith and belief in His Name. 


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

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Sexy! (John 7:46)

“Hey, I heard you attended Dr. Smith’s conference! How was it?”

“Oh wow! Amazing!” My dermatology colleague beamed.

“I’m sure!” Dr. Smith was recognized as one of the top dermatopathologists in the world. Generations of dermatologists and dermatopathologists had learned his erudite approach to diagnosing skin diseases. His conferences were always sold out months in advance. I had attended a previous conference and was envious of my colleague for being able to attend this latest meeting.

“You know what he looks like, right?”

I nodded. He was slightly taller than six foot, bald, and his glasses completed the professorial visage. Always dapper in a three piece suit, wing-tips, and Italian ties, he was an old soul with an affinity for words drawn from Shakespearean English.

“I don’t know what it is, but when he talks, he is so eloquent, so intelligent…he becomes very sexy!”

I chuckled. Sexy can be translated in many different ways, but I knew what she meant. His baritone delivery, the content, all of it created an aura of power and knowledge. He was charismatic and he immediately commanded attention. This sounds familiar!

The Bible does give us an idea of what different saints of the Bible looked like. Saul, the first king of Israel, was described as follows:

And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

1 Samuel 9:2 (NKVJ)

His successor, King David, also was physically captivating. 

So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking…

1 Samuel 16:12 (NKJV)

But for Jesus Christ, the Bible is silent about what Jesus looked like when He lived amongst us. Regardless, for thousands of years, artists have rendered their interpretations of what they imagined He looked like, but truthfully, no one really knows. All we know for sure is that His glorified Body will be awe inspiring.

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;

Revelation 1:14-15 (NKJV)

These are powerful images and undoubtedly would cause anyone to collapse at His feet in fear and respect if we saw the glorified Jesus Christ. Yet, when He walked this Earth, Jesus commanded attention, not because of his physical attributes but by the words He spoke. Even His detractors acknowledged this.

…No man ever spoke like this Man!

John 7:46 (NKJV)

Jesus Christ was charismatic and He always drew crowds wherever He went. My colleague was correct about her impression of the renowned dermatopathology professor. It is not the physical attributes of a person that attract us, it is the content of their message. This is what draws anyone to listen to another.

Praise God for the Living Word of Jesus Christ!

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

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Wisdom Wasted (1 Kings 11:1-3 )

It was an intriguing article comparing the IQs of some of the most brilliant minds who have ever lived. Isaac Newton, Einstein, and Thomas Edison were just a few of the names on the list. As I surveyed the impressive lineup, I thought one name was missing. Solomon. After all, the Bible states that God gave Solomon wisdom that made him the wisest man of the known world at that time. 

And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt.

1 Kings 4:29-30 (NKJV)

The Bible lists many of Solomon’s formidable achievements.

He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish. And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.

1 Kings 4:32-34 (NKJV)

During his reign, Israel achieved its greatest power, both in territory and wealth. If Solomon lived today, he surely would have been at the top of the list of high IQ’s and acclaimed as one of the greatest leaders. Yet within a year after his death, the Kingdom of Israel split in two. How could a mighty kingdom, ruled by such a wise man, suffer such a sudden downfall?

But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites— from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.

1 Kings 11:1-3 (NKJV)

God sternly warned Solomon that if he turned his heart away from serving God, He would tear his kingdom away from him. Although Solomon was wise, he allowed his carnal desires to supplant his faith and trust in God. He no longer acted with the wisdom that God bestowed upon him but rejected it in favor of appeasing his many wives and concubines, and following their foreign gods. 

It was wisdom wasted.

Even the wisest man in the world fell victim to sin. It is a sobering reminder that all of us, regardless or our education or IQ, need to come to Jesus Christ to confess and repent of our sins and acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior. Only through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit indwelling within all believers will be able resist the temptation to turn away from God’s wisdom and follow the wisdom of the world. 

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

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“Dad, I Love You.” (Psalms 94:19)

Okay, I need to finish the new protocol for the new COVID guidelines for my office. Have to follow up on that consult case that my residents sent me. Oh, and I need to call Jake and…

“Dad, I love you.”

I looked up from my dinner plate at the smiling face of my son. I was so preoccupied with my own concerns, I was completely ignoring him during our dinner together. Lesson learned. I fist pumped him and said, “I love you too, son.” He grinned as I added, “Thanks son, I needed that.”

It was an embarrassing lesson, one of many that my son teaches me. When will I learn to savor the time I have with my son and my family instead of focusing upon my selfish needs? It is the same with my relationship with God. I am so preoccupied with my life, I sometimes forget the reason why I am even able to do anything. It is not to exalt myself, it is to honor God.

Be still, and know that I am God…

Psalms 46:10 (NKJV)

Dad, I love you.

I heard my son speaking to me. Do I hear God just as clearly?

In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

Psalms 94:19 (NKJV)

Praise God for His grace and mercy to me through faith in Jesus Christ. 

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

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