“Gotta Get It…” (Matthew 6:9-13)

“Gotta get it going, got it. Get it going, gotta get it. Get it going, gotta get it now! Whoo!”

Say that five times…FAST!

Silly, I know, but I was determined to master this tongue twister in middle school. It was a coordinated yell issued by our cheerleading squad. Over fifty years later, I can still recite it at a very quick cadence, and I still don’t know what it means! At times, I am amazed by the seemingly trivial and useless things I memorized as a child and teenager are still embedded in my rapidly ossifying neurons. There are many other things I recited and committed to memory even though, at the time, they added nothing to my life. Another was the Lord’s Prayer. I attended an Episcopalian school for middle and high school and every Tuesday, there was a mandatory chapel service. We began each service with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, exactly the same words as Jesus spoke in the Gospel of Matthew. 

...Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)

After I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I returned to this familiar phrase. Every morning, before my day begins, I recite it exactly as I heard and memorized it many decades earlier. Unlike the cheer that I also memorized, It was no longer trivial and useless. I regularly ponder the meaning of the words I am speaking. Do I always live up to the expectations that God presents to me? No. However, it does not discourage me from praying. When I fail, it hammers home how wretched my life is when I still succumb to sin. God reminds me how desperately I need a Savior. I need to turn to Jesus Christ every moment of my life. 

Gotta get it!

Indeed, God placed His Word in my heart knowing that someday I would get it. 

Praise God for His mercy and grace!

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

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“The Vietnam War, My Divorce…” (Matthew 28:16-17)

The smell of the hot pizza filled the living room with a soothing enticing aroma. It was the only comfortable moment we had for the rest of the evening. I was a pathology resident in one of my training programs and I joined all of the residents and fellows for a mandatory meeting at the home of the Chief of Pathology. We all knew why we were being summoned. In the prior week, one of the residents had attempted to destroy a microscope slide that had unmistakable evidence that he missed a cancer, even though he gave a preliminary diagnosis to the surgeon that there was no cancer. Another resident who was involved in the case went to the Chief of Pathology who immediately began his own investigation. By the end of the day, that pathology resident was fired.   

There were over thirty people crammed into the parlor of his home. Conversations were subdued as we ate our pizza. Finally the Chief spoke out. “In my life there have been three life changing events-the Vietnam War, my divorce…and now this.”

My eyes bulged. It was an egregious action but to juxtapose this with the Vietnam War and his divorce took it to another level. For the next hour, the Chief of Pathology and other faculty members shared their own experiences of the pressures they face to be perfect. All confessed to making mistakes and how they dealt with their errors. They sought to reassure us that we must be honest to our patients and for all health care professionals involved. After the meeting, I conversed with my co-resident. “I could not believe the Chief placed this on the same level as the Vietnam war!”

My friend shook his head, “I know. That guy has ruined his career forever.”

We have no idea how events will affect an individual. Some brush it off, others are scarred for the rest of their lives. I was very disturbed by the incident but I do not rank it anywhere near the traumatic events of my life-the deaths of my parents, my daughter’s health crisis. At the same time, I respect the perspectives of others and its differential impact upon their lives. 

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

Matthew 28:16-17 (NKJV)

The greatest event in the history of the world was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. For forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to hundreds of witnesses including His remaining eleven disciples. Nearly everyone who was there that day on the mountain as He was about to ascend to Heaven had seen Him tortured and crucified on the Cross. They knew He was dead, and yet, here He was, alive and speaking to all of them. The proof was incontrovertible yet still, some doubted. 

The Bible does not go into further detail as to why some still doubted. Like the incident during my residency, everyone is affected differently by life changing events. Some may dismiss it, others are changed forever. Thanks be to God that I did not dismiss His invitation to confess and repent of my sins and declare Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. This day will always remain the most important and life changing event in my life. 

How will you respond to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

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

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Facial Recognition (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Facial recognition technology has revolutionized security protocols. Sophisticated computer programs and enhanced video cameras can recognize individuals and then track and monitor many of their activities. The Chinese communist party has embraced this technology and now has over 580 million surveillance cameras, one for every two people in the county, using it to closely monitor the activities of its citizens, quickly snuffing any anti-government activities. Christians are considered subversive elements and many have been imprisoned for their faith. 

In this internet connected world, we are continually monitored and observed. Like any technology, mankind will use it for both good and nefarious schemes. Despite the sinister intentions of the Chinese government, it is an incentive for all Christians to be true to their faith. As one Chinese Christian leader counseled his church members, “Of course the government is watching you, and even listening to you in your own home! So make sure that what they are seeing is a true disciple of Christ!” 

Source Voice of Martyrs May 2021 issue

Are we only on our best behavior because we think we are being watched? Christians should not need a reminder that we are always being observed. God is always watching us, knowing our most secret thoughts. Yet from the time of Adam of Eve and the first sin, we foolishly think we can hide from God. 

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

Genesis 3:8-10 (NLT)

God created us, knows us, and is always watching us. Why does He do this?

The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…

2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT)

God is not intruding in our lives. Instead of seeking to punish us like an oppressive government, He is seeking to bless us and strengthen our faith in Him.

Praise God!

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

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One Step Forward…(Jeremiah 7:24)

Jake was my college classmate whom I met through our college Christian fellowship. I did not know much about him except that he was very knowledgeable about the Bible and was raised in a Christian home. I was a nascent Christian, less than one year since I had been saved. I attended the Friday evening college fellowships and saw him regularly. However, by the time I was a junior, I noticed that he stopped attending. He lived in a different part of the campus, in an area I rarely visited, and we had no classes together. One Saturday evening, I was visiting his dorm to see a classmate. A party was going on in the hall and the tell-tale red cups and familiar aromas were everywhere. Someone offered me a drink but I politely turned it down. “What’s the matter, you don’t want to party?”

“I’ll pass. I have to wake up early tomorrow morning.” I hoped my answer would placate him. 

“What, are you going to church?” he sneered. I was about to answer when a familiar voice behind me yelled, “Yeah, he’s a Christian, so of course he’s going to say that!” It was Jake. Obviously inebriated, it was not an appropriate time to renew our relationship. Jake was the first Christian I met who seemingly turned their back upon their faith. Backsliding is the usual term Christians use for this. I was a young Christian and I did not know or understand how to help him. I know others attempted to intervene and help him. Although he attempted to reconnect with his faith during the remaining years of college, he fell back. I later heard that he renounced his faith. We graduated and I never heard from him again. 

Yet they didn’t listen or pay attention but followed their own advice and their own stubborn, evil heart. They went backward and not forward.

Jeremiah 7:24 (CSB)

One step forward, two steps back. A wise person once told me, “Sin is ugly and messy.” Although I did not understand what was happening to Jake at that time, a few years later, I would also backslide. Like this declaration from the Prophet Jeremiah, I listened to my own advice and evil heart and made my life ugly and messy. It was many years before I was able to repent of my sinful lifestyle and re-establish my relationship with Jesus Christ. Like Jake, there were many times I took one step forward and two steps back. However, only by God’s grace and mercy did He rescue me from the treadmill of sin and place me on firm footing, surrounding me with Christian brothers and a church that held me accountable. 

God’s love and power can overcome any backsliding, but everyone must be willing to humble themselves and come to Him on His terms, not one’s own. 

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

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Inclusion (Matthew 21:32)

For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.

Matthew 21:32 (NLT)

Jesus was not condoning the lifestyles of tax collectors and prostitutes, but He was making a very important spiritual point. He was addressing the temple priests and elders who supposedly knew God’s Law and how to live a life that honors Him. Instead they eschewed John’s message and chose to follow their own rituals and regulations, in violation of God’s Law. John the Baptist was God’s messenger to prepare hearts to receive the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Yet these religiously pious people rejected John. Meanwhile, tax collectors and prostitutes, people living outwardly sinful lives, listened to John’s message, believed him, and repented of their sins. 

The Church of Jesus Christ is composed of many different souls. We are all at different stages of spiritual development but we all share one thing in common. We are all sinners. Even if we have confessed and repented of our sins and accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we still sin. Some sins, like a pornography addiction, can be concealed, done in the privacy of one’s home. Other sins, like relationships, are more visible, like couples living together out of wedlock. It was not that long ago that interracial marriages were shunned. Are our conceptions of sin out of sync with the reality of the age? Does the Church welcome everyone regardless of their sinful behaviors?

Christian author and theologian Tim Keller wrote, “Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.” These are many important issues to consider. I have been in prayer about these issues for many years, carefully searching the Bible, reading many books, and consulting with numerous pastors and godly Christian brothers and sisters for guidance and direction. I have friends and acquaintances who struggle with their sins, secret and in the open, just as I do.

I believe this passage from the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible is a starting point. Jesus Christ welcomed all sinners but He would not accept them unless they repented of their sins and believed in Him. Sin is sin and the definition has not changed in spite of the moral relativism that is pervasive in society. Loving the sinner and not the sin, the Church must welcome all who are truly seeking Jesus Christ. 

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

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Freedom Fries (Deuteronomy 29:2-6)

The attacks of 9/11 united America in a manner not seen since World War II. As part of the overall strategy in the war on terror, the United States embarked upon an invasion of Iraq, because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Seeking to establish a united coalition, the United States presented its case to the United Nations. While the majority of the nation members of the Security Council voted to support the United States, France was a notable standout, refusing and even threatening to veto the proposal. Americans were incensed and in 2003, an anti-French movement began with one of its more visible protests renaming the ubiquitous side dish as Freedom Fries. 

Source: Wikipedia

As the war in Iraq dragged on, public sentiment turned against it. The once bright flames of patriotism, were smoldering. Without announcement, restaurants dropped the “Freedom Fries” moniker. It seems that all was forgiven, at least until the next flare up.

The United States and France have shared a long and important military, political, and economic alliance. However, like any close relationship, hiccups can and will occur. When these unfortunate events happen, both parties must take a step back and review the rewards and benefits of their relationship. In truth, both nations realized the ties that bind them are far deeper and more powerful than any temporary disagreement. 

What about our relationship with God? When things do not go the way we expect, do we lash out at God and trash the relationship or do we reflect upon the blessings that He has given to us?  God posed the same question to the Jews as they wandered through the desert for forty years. The Jews grumbled and complained during their trials. God was testing and refining their faith. He asked them to expand their vision of who God is and reflect upon the blessings of their relationship.

Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them, “You have seen with your own eyes everything the LORD did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to his whole country— all the great tests of strength, the miraculous signs, and the amazing wonders. But to this day the LORD has not given you minds that understand, nor eyes that see, nor ears that hear! For forty years I led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other alcoholic drink, but he provided for you so you would know that he is the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 29:2-6 (NLT)

The Jews survived on manna for forty years. It was nutritionally complete and they suffered none of the vitamin and mineral deficiencies that one might expect when eating only one type of food. Just as impressive, their clothes and sandals never wore out! I don’t know of any garment or footwear that I can purchase that has that kind of guarantee! God was blessing them during their harshest trial but they did not recognize nor reflect upon it. 

When relationships encounter friction and disagreement, God reminds us to revisit the blessings the relationship produced. Nations have learned this lesson, can we?

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

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“Trip Around The World!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

My college graduation was held in one of its large campus auditoriums. My father had a fear of flying but somehow, he was able to suppress that fear, and fly from Hawaii to Southern California. As elated as I was to have him attend my college graduation, there was some trepidation that he would do something outlandish. Four years earlier, at my high school graduation in Hawaii, it was a stifling 90 degrees and all the graduates were wearing suits! The only relief we sought was the completion of the exercise so we could shed these uncomfortable and Hawaiian-inappropriate garments. My father had a better answer! He brought an ice chest filled with bottles of Coca Cola. He then proceeded to find all of my friends and hand them the chilled bottles, shaking their hands, grinning, and exclaiming, “Have a Coke and a smile!” recapitulating the tagline of the well-known commercial at that time.

As I was preparing to walk onto the stage to receive my diploma from the college president, my father did not disappoint. He darted out of the audience, a huge double white carnation flower lei in his arms. In front of thousands of people and a roar of laughter, he placed the lei around my neck, hugged me, and whispered in my ear, “Congratulations! Now no more puka t-shirts, a new car, and a trip around the world! By the way, Son, I’m very proud of you!”

You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Matthew 7:9-11 (NLT)

One of our many roles as parents is to provide the tools and resources for our children to succeed in life. My parents certainly did that. My father gave me good gifts and made each milestone in my life so memorable. He celebrated life with flair! Our heavenly Father does the same for all who place their trust and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. God wants to bless His children and like my earthly father, will do it in the most unexpected and beautiful ways.

What a great God we serve!

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

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“Can I Get Another One?” (Luke 17:11-17)

“Can I get another one?”

“Of course, eat as much as you like!” My father cheerfully replied. 

My friend scampered to the counter and ordered a double cheeseburger and a large French fries. My baseball team was being treated to a fast food lunch after our Saturday game. After each game, the parents of each player rotated responsibilities and provided refreshments and snacks for the rest of the team. When it was my family’s turn, my father wanted to do something special and announced that we would be going to a local favorite fast food restaurant. 

There were fourteen players, ranging in age from ten to twelve years, and my father made sure that all the parents were also invited, serving over forty people. Prior to lunch, he arranged with the manager of the restaurant to keep a running tab of everything our team ate. Two hours later, this amazing feast was over and I staggered out of the restaurant to our car. On the way home, my father was unusually distant. “You okay, Dad?” He simply grunted. Arriving at home, he unloaded on me. “You know, except for your friend, Jake, no one even thanked me for the lunch, not even the coaches or the parents!”

I didn’t know what to say. I was so embarrassed for my father and ashamed of my teammates. I knew everyone was elated to have this special treat, yet in their excitement, they neglected to give thanks. 

While traveling to Jerusalem, he passed between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And while they were going, they were cleansed. But one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned and, with a loud voice, gave glory to God. He fell facedown at his feet, thanking him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Didn’t any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And he told him, “Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.”

Luke 17:11-19 (CSB)

This incident when Jesus healed the ten lepers is reminiscent of what happened that afternoon many years ago. Lepers were socially and ceremoniously outcast from society. By healing them, Jesus restored their status. Were they happy? I have no doubt they were ecstatic, yet only one returned to thank Him after he was healed. To add to this slight, this man was a Samaritan, a foreigner. 

God desires to bless us and all He asks in return is gratitude. Every moment of our life, every breath we take, is only by God’s grace and mercy in our lives. How often do we take these gifts for granted? When God blesses us, we may revel with others for our gifts, but do we always remember to thank the Giver?

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 (CSB)


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

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“I Am Also A Sinner.” (Proverbs 30:5-6)

Jesus once said to the angry crowd who was trying to stone a woman who had sinned, “He who is without sin among you, let him cast a stone at her.” When his words came to their ears, they stopped moving forward. When everyone came out, Jesus stoned the woman himself, and said, “I am also a sinner.”

Does this story sound familiar? It is based upon the passage in the Gospel of John. Here is the actual verse in the English Standard Version (ESV) translation of the Bible. 

And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

John 8:7-11 (ESV)

The first translation was taken from a Chinese textbook approved by the Communist government for high school students. (Source Voice of the Martyrs Magazine May 2021 Issue) This Bible translation expounds the core socialist values of the Chinese government and annotates other passages of the Bible with quotations from Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist classics. 

The Chinese government officially declared that there are 44 million Christians living in China. However, as evidenced by this government sanctioned Bible that is being introduced, the Christianity that is being taught through government sponsored churches is not the true Gospel. In fact, many Christian missionary organizations believe the true number of Christians living in China to be much higher, perhaps tens of millions more. However, many true believers are reluctant to affirm their faith for risk of persecution. If the Chinese government succeeds in inculcating the false idea that Jesus is a sinner and not God, it will create a false religion, Christian in name only. 

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Proverbs 30:5-6 (NKJV)

The Chinese government can affirm that they allow Christian churches to read and follow the Bible, but which Bible? It is man instructing God. God warns against adding or changing His Word. The Bible is God speaking to men, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is inerrant and internally consistent. We must continue to pray for the Christian believers and seekers who live in nations with limited or no access to God’s Word and are being lied to by their governments.

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

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“Let’s Try!” (Proverbs 6:27-28)

My buddy, Jake, was anxious to show me his newest find. It was a model rocket engine, a cylinder wrapped in brown paper about the size of a small cigar. “Where did you find it?”

“Those high school kids were launching rockets in the park and they left this one behind.”

“Wow, does it still work?”

“I don’t know, let’s try!”

I was eight years old, growing up in Honolulu. Our family home was located on a dead end street with only ten homes and was bordered by a drainage canal. Jake and I spent many hours playing in this drainage canal, usually riding our skateboards. Today, we would embark upon an experiment. We scurried down the walls of the canal and on the bottom, found a dried bush. We placed the engine in the bush and lit the bush. The rocket engine ignited and with a bright yellow flare engulfed the entire bush. A gray black smoke cloud filled the canal and brought neighbors to their fences to look down and investigate. Unfortunately one of the neighbors recognized me and walked straight to my house. I knew what was next. “Oh great, we gotta clean this up, now!” We scooped up some water from the small stream that was in the canal and extinguished the bush. Too late. My father appeared at the top of the canal and yelled at both of us to immediately get out. 

As I was being scolded and received the punishment of being grounded for a month, the television broadcast a live brush fire burning houses in another part of Honolulu. Perfect timing. “You see that?” My father pointed at the television. “You want to be responsible for something like that? People’s houses are burning because of stupid kids like you playing with fire!” I slunked off to my room and contemplated how stupid I was. It wouldn’t be the last time. 

The aphorism, “You play with fire, you’re going to get burned.” is ripe with applications for my life. It is based upon the Biblical Proverb. 

Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? 

Proverbs 6:27-28 (NKJV)

Over fifty years later, have I learned my lesson? Perhaps I don’t attempt to ignite rocket engines in a drainage canal, but sometimes common sense escapes me and I embark on equally reckless escapades. Why do I think that this time it will be different and I won’t get caught? Why do I think that this time the fire of sin will not burn me as I hold it close to me? Haven’t I learned anything?

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

James 1:14-15 (NKJV)

Let’s try!

God does not lead me into temptation. My friend may have encouraged me but it is my sinful nature that is solely responsible. I do not hate the sins in my life enough to be willing to extinguish it. Instead, I let it smolder, ready to ignite under the right circumstances, inevitably consuming me. 

I must embrace God and hold Him close to me instead of the sins that I have been holding too near.

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

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