“I Don’t Deserve To Be Here.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Silver haired and sharply dressed in a navy blue blazer, his eyes twinkled as he greeted everyone. I recognized him from his many albums and live concerts I had attended, but this was the first time I had been introduced in person to this Grammy nominated jazz pianist. I was the guest of a family friend who invited me to dinner to celebrate his son’s 17th birthday.  I had been giving guitar lessons to him for the past year and his parents wanted to surprise him by having me over for dinner and bringing my guitar so we could have a jam session. I did not know they were friends with this jazz pianist, who was also invited. I was embarrassed and quietly confided to the parents, “I can’t play guitar in the presence of this master!”

The parents reassured me that he loves playing with everyone, regardless of their level of talent. Reluctantly I agreed. The three of us launched into several well known jazz standards. As the music swirled through the room I marveled at his musical artistry, deftly crafting his own melodic and harmonic re-workings of these familiar tunes, making us all sound much better than we were. He is a world class jazz pianist. I am an amateur jazz guitarist. Although I was grateful for the opportunity to play with him, one thought repeated in my mind. “I don’t deserve to be here.” 

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)

When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I received salvation and eternal life. However, I continued to struggle with recurring doubts. I was burdened with my sins. I felt so unworthy to receive salvation and eternal life. The blunt answer and stark reality is I AM unworthy. God knows this. There is nothing I or anyone can ever do that can earn salvation. It is a gift from God, given to me and all who believe in Him by His grace. 

I didn’t deserve the graciousness of this master jazz pianist who allowed me to play with him. I didn’t deserve the salvation my heavenly Father graciously extended to me through faith and belief in His Son, Jesus Christ. In both instances, I am thankful for the opportunity that was given to me.

Thanks be to God for His magnificent grace and mercy!

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

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Contact Tracing (Genesis 4:8-9)

Contact tracing is an epidemiological and public health term that has been thrust into the public spotlight because of the COVID pandemic. Simplistically, it is a process by which all of the contacts of an infected person are traced. By identifying these persons, they can be notified of the possibility they have been infected and seek additional testing and possible self-quarantine. It also may provide clues by whom the person may have been infected. While this seems to be a laudable and effective protocol, it is far from perfect. One of the failings is it depends upon individuals disclosing personal and private information to a government agency. In countries with strong centralized governments, such disclosure can be easily mandated. In countries with decentralized governments, individual rights and personal privacy issues can create a roadblock. Even for a noble purpose such as limiting the spread of a COVID infection, some may be unwilling to share this information. In many countries, we are wary of authority. But what if we had no choice but to submit to an omnipotent authority?

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Genesis 4:8-9 (NKJV)

God is the ultimate authority. Omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. He knows everything about us; nothing is hidden from Him. Yet, when we sin, we still think we can hide the truth. Cain attempted to do this when he murdered his brother. It is absurd yet, how often do I do this same action? It’s just a little sin, I rationalize with myself, surely God will overlook this? If I smile and hide my emotions, God will not know that I still resent that person who was rude to me last week. The list is as endless as my sins. 

Is it any wonder that contract tracing fails? Even when I know I cannot hide anything from God, I still am wary of His authority, unwilling to surrender the knowledge of all of my actions. How desperately I need my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

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

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Ollas (John 3:5-8)

This is an ollas. 

Source: Using Ollas in Pots – The Urban Homestead

I came across this clever invention as I was seeking ways to reduce my home water bill. Burying unglazed terracotta pots into the earth next to the plants one is growing, water will slowly diffuse through the porous material, moisturizing the soil below the surface. An additional benefit is it does not add moisture to the surface layer, preventing weeds from implanting. Hidden and out of sight, providing nourishment, and invented thousands of years ago. The ollas is a marvel of efficiency and allows plants to flourish and reach their full potential.  Nearly two thousand years ago, God provided an even better answer for our spiritual well-being.

Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 

John 3:5-8 (CSB)

When we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God sends His Holy Spirit to indwell within us. Hidden and out of sight, the Holy Spirit empowers everyone who is a child of God. He nourishes and allows us to grow as long as we abide in Jesus Christ. He is the vine and we are the branches. Slowly, like the plants in my garden nourished by my ollas, we will grow and be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. 

Praise God!

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

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It’s In Her Genes. (Romans 5:12)

My daughter and wife were coming home from work. As they entered the doorway, both were wearing their medical scrubs. My wife is a pediatric dentist and my daughter recently decided to pursue a career in dentistry. I beamed as I saw my daughter following in her mother’s footsteps. “It’s in her genes.” I thought to myself. 

It’s in my genes as well. My father was a general dentist but I did not follow in his footsteps. We are all born with certain behavioral tendencies and personality traits, many of them genetically wired through complex genomic and environmental influences. While this can be important to understand and explain some of our actions and inherent skills, we are not trapped and irreversibly programmed by these genes. We have been endowed by God, our Creator, with the freedom to choose. We can choose to follow God, which is the reason we were created, or we can choose to disobey God and follow our own desires. 

I am thankful that my daughter is following in her mother’s and grandfather’s footsteps. She may have been influenced by her genetics but she chose this career path. Neither I nor my wife encouraged her to follow this career. As proud as I am for her choice, I am most proud and grateful that many years ago, she chose to confess and repent of her sins and accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. We did not force this upon her. She read the Bible for herself, listened and learned from her Pastor and church, and chose to follow Jesus Christ. 

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

Romans 5:12 (NLT)

No one is born a believer in Jesus Christ. We are all sinners. The destructive power of sin has corrupted our genetic makeup. Left to our own efforts, it is impossible to escape this fate. Thanks be to God that He has given us a solution. Faith and belief in Jesus Christ will restore the sacred relationship with God, our Creator. This is sanctification, the process by which Jesus Christ transforms and conforms us into His image. We can choose to follow our natural inclinations from our corrupted genes, leading to the inevitable path of death and eternal separation from God, or we can exercise our gift of choice that God has bestowed upon us. We can choose to follow God and live the life that He created us to have. 

The choice is yours. 

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

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Understanding One’s Limitations (Exodus 33:18-23)

The first time I performed CPR on a person was in my freshman year in college. During my certification classes, I performed CPR on a dummy. It was realistic, but I often wondered how it compared to the actual experience.  A few years later, I would find out when I volunteered in an emergency room at a hospital located close to my college campus. The majority of my duties centered upon greeting patients who had non-urgent medical complaints. I would take a brief history, check their temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. As a premed, this experience was an excellent opportunity to experience direct patient care and shadow physicians and was an invaluable experience in confirming my decision to apply to medical school.

One day, a very ill patient was admitted to our emergency room, unconscious and suffering from a heart attack. As the paramedics wheeled the patient in on a gurney, they were performing CPR. As care was transferred to our team, the attending physician looked at me and said, “Do you want to perform the CPR?” I nodded and quickly switched positions with the paramedic who was doing the chest compressions. I continued for several minutes, pausing for a few seconds as the defibrillator was engaged and the EKG reviewed. The patient never awoke and a few minutes later, the lead physician called the code and pronounced the patient.

It was a jarring experience and I was upset for several days. It was the first time I had ever used my CPR and the first time I had ever seen anyone die. As I reflected upon the events, I wondered if my technique was to blame? I wondered about who this patient was. I even questioned whether medicine was the correct career choice for me. In spite of my best efforts and that of the emergency room team, this patient did not live.

An important first step before embarking upon a career or task is understanding one’s limitations. Medicine has made tremendous advances and the diagnostic tools and treatments have revolutionized the management of many diseases, once considered terminal and hopeless. Nonetheless, there is still much more to learn. Like my patient whom I was unable to resuscitate, I reluctantly accepted my limitations. This sad experience helped me to change my perspective and understanding of what a physician could do. It was the beginning of my pathway to a career in medicine, one that still challenges my understanding of my limitations of what I can do for my patients. Are there any spiritual limitations with God?

Then Moses said, “Please, let me see your glory.” He said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name ‘the LORD’ before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But he added, “You cannot see my face, for humans cannot see me and live.” The LORD said, “Here is a place near me. You are to stand on the rock, and when my glory passes by, I will put you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take my hand away, and you will see my back, but my face will not be seen.”

Exodus 33:18-23 (CSB)

Moses had a very close and intimate relationship with God, the Father. Yet, he wanted more and boldly asked God to allow him to see His face. God limited what Moses would be able to see, only allowing him to view His backside. Even Moses, the man whom God chose to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt, needed to understand his limitations. God is too pure and too holy for any sinful person to look at His face and live. 

When we understand and accept our spiritual limitations, we gain a better understanding of who God, our Creator, is. His thoughts are not our thoughts nor are His ways our ways.  


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

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Honor The Creator (Genesis 1:31)

My fingers ran over the polished wooden handle of burled wood, expertly grooved to ergonomically match my grasping fingers. It tapered to an attached metal point held in place by a sturdy rubber grip. It was a wine/bottle stopper. It was gifted to me by a dear Christian brother who made it in his own workshop. As I marveled at the workmanship, I was overwhelmed by his generous spirit. In my thank you letter to him, I extended my gratitude. “Thank you for your thoughtfulness and time to craft this precious gift. This will be proudly displayed and used in our home and I will delight in telling everyone that you are the creator.“

I am overjoyed from receiving this exquisite handmade gift and I want to share it with others. I wish to honor the creator. Our relationship with God, the supreme Creator, is no different. In the Creation account recorded in the book of Genesis, God created the universe, the earth, and most living creatures in the first five days. After each day, God said that it was good. On the sixth day, God created man. However, instead of simply stating it was good, God went one step further and made the following declaration.

…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. 

Genesis 1:31 (CSB)

Very good indeed! Are WE not God’s greatest creation? The Bible states that we are made in God’s image. We are imbued with a conscience and a personality. We are created with a soul that was designed to know and worship God, our Creator. Sin has marred this relationship but all of us still have a longing and need to reconcile this relationship with Him. We know things are not the way they should be. We know this is not the world that God intended for us to live in. We want to restore the relationship that sin has marred with our Creator. God has provided the answer.

God gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Lord and Savior. When we confess and repent of our sons and accept this invitation from God, we honor our Creator. He has restored the relationship that sin has broken. 

And I delight in telling everyone that He is the Creator!


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

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Hokule’a (Revelation 22:16)

Nestled on a shelf in my office is a model of an ancient Hawaiian double-hulled canoe. It is a replica of the canoe that was built in the 1970’s-the Hokule’a. It was gifted to my father, a dentist, by his patient, who was a member of the original crew. Before my father passed away, he gave it to me and I proudly recount the epic story to all the visitors to my office.

Source www.hokulea.com

The Hokule’a is an important part of Polynesian and hence, Hawaiian history. For years, historians questioned whether the ancient Polynesians were able to successfully navigate the Pacific ocean without modern equipment. Meticulously researching the ancient ship building and navigation techniques of the Polynesians, the crew of the Hokule’a built an exact recreation of the ancient canoe, using the same materials. 

Hokule’a is translated from the Hawaiian language as “Star of Gladness or Joy.” It refers to Arcturus, the brightest star in the constellation Bootes. Many ancient peoples, including the Polynesians, navigated the ocean by following this star. Thousands of years ago, it led them from Tahiti to the big island of Hawaii. The modern-day Hokule’a recreated the same journey in 1976, navigating by the same star, proving the ancient Polynesians had successfully accomplished this same feat over five hundred years earlier. 

Following the stars. 

It seems that man has been following stars to guide them to their destiny for thousands of years! When we are searching for revelation, when we are searching for the answers to life, when we are searching for the Truth, we often look to the heavens.  

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world.

Psalms 19:1-4 (CSB)

A special star led the wise men to Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Is it any wonder that Jesus Christ is the bright morning star? Jesus Christ is our Hokule’a!

…I am the Root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.

Revelation 22:16 (CSB)

Praise God!

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

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Hero Is A Jerk (Psalms 146:3-5)

I love the Beatles. Their songs. Their musicianship. In my opinion, nothing in pop music has ever been equaled since they were together. John Lennon, one of the Beatles, was one of the immediately recognizable faces of the Beatles. As I followed his career, memorizing his songs, and witticisms, I began to see a darker side. It erupted during a very difficult period of John Lennon’s life, one that biographers and reporters have dubbed, “The Lost Weekend.” For a period of eighteen months, Lennon’s life spiraled downward and he was often drunk, belligerent, and unproductive as an artist. The final straw was a public event when he heckled a well-known comedy duo, disrupting the performance with a drunken tirade. The waitress who served Lennon and was inadvertently hit by a glass that Lennon threw, lamented, “I wasn’t hurt by his assault. It’s finding out one of your heroes is a real jerk.” 

We all have people whom we admire. We call them heroes, role models, people we place on a pedestal. It may be one’s parents, teachers, friends, or an athlete or celebrity. The common element is they all possess a character trait or skill which we would like to emulate. John Lennon was one of my heroes when I was young. But what I was attempting to emulate? His song-writing skills? Definitely. His moral character? Like the hapless waitress, we can be quickly disappointed.

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the LORD their God.

Psalms 146:3-5 (NLT)

While it should be evident that putting our trust in people may lead to disappointment and failure, what alternative do we have? Is there any person who will never disappoint us? Is there any person who lived a perfect life? If there is, wouldn’t he be worthy of our admiration, our accolades, and our allegiance?

Only Jesus Christ fulfills all of these conditions. He is the perfect Man and God. He lived a sinless life. He held the universe in the palms of His hands but allowed nails to be driven through them to reconcile the relationship that sin had destroyed between man and God. He is the supreme example of love, compassion, and sacrifice.

My hero is God, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

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

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“I Needed To Get Used To It.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college and I was engaged in surgical medical research at a university medical school hospital. I was meeting with the surgeon who was in charge of my research team. I was fortunate to have worked in this laboratory the previous summer, participating in a research group led by a surgery resident. He was curious about my experience with that resident and queried. “I’ve heard things about that resident, that he was difficult to work with. How did you get along with him?”

“It was challenging.” I carefully chose my words. “I figured this is how it will be in medical school, so I knew I needed to get used to it.”

The surgeon chuckled and thoughtfully nodded. “Good, philosophical approach.” 

The cumulative experiences from those two summers of research helped to solidify my decision to apply to medical school. It also introduced me to a broad range of physicians at many levels of training. There was a professor of surgery from Australia, a surgeon from the United States Army on sabbatical leave, and several professors of surgery from the local medical school. There was also a resident who had completed his first year of surgical training and was taking a research year for his program. His ego was inflated far beyond his knowledge or surgical skills. Yet, that did not stop him from denigrating everyone in the research lab. A day never passed when he did not berate me or another member of the team. It was an arduous summer but we did manage to complete our project. 

Although my ego and pride were squashed many times in medical school and residency, it was never quite as bad as my experience with that surgical resident during that summer of research. The experience, while unpleasant, did toughen my hide, serving me well throughout the rest of my medical training. 

For much of my life, I relied upon my own strength to see me through trials and tribulations. While this allowed me to successfully navigate these early challenges in life, I soon encountered situations that surpassed my ability to persevere. I had no lifeline, no easy out. I needed help. I needed a Savior. 

We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (CSB)

God understands our afflictions. As Pastor Randy Alcorn writes, “Some people cannot believe God would create a world in which people would suffer so much. Isn’t it more remarkable that God would create a world in which no one would suffer more than He?” My Savior is Jesus Christ, who received the weight of all the sin that has ever or will be committed, upon His broken body. He suffered so that we may have hope through the power of His Resurrection. 

I have learned to endure some of the sufferings of this life. However, in spite of my best efforts, I will never get used to it. I will only successfully conquer these trials if I allow Jesus Christ to guide and lead me. What an amazing God I serve!


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

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A Big Break (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

Susan Boyle exploded onto the world scene with her performance on the television show, “Britain’s Got Talent!” in 2009. Before she even began her performance, the expression on the faces of the judges and the crowd were telling. She didn’t belong there and was not even given a chance to succeed. But it was her big break!

Susan Boyle’s Magical First Performance On Britain’s Got Talent!

Whether it is a chef given an opportunity to work under a world-class Michelin-starred chef, an actor starring in a series that explodes in popularity, or an unknown singer receiving a chance at stardom, the big break is often a life-changing event. For many, the confidence and assurance they receive sustains them for the rest of their lives. 

Most of us may never be given a big break, but perhaps, this is short-sighted and needs to be re-examined? If one defines a big break as fame and prestige, then such an opportunity may indeed be rare and even fleeting. God gives us a better answer.

Working together with him, we also appeal to you, “Don’t receive the grace of God in vain.” For he says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation! 

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (CSB)

A big break is defined by God. God created us to be in continual fellowship with Him but our sins have separated us from birth from our Almighty Creator. God responded with a love so great, that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to reconcile us to Him. When should we accept His invitation? When we first hear of God? On Christmas or Easter? On our deathbed? While these are all possibilities, none of us know when our time on this earth will end. The acceptable time to accept His invitation is now. It is our big break! Do not let it pass you by, your eternal destiny depends upon this decision. 

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

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