Choices (1 Samuel 9:1-2)

“It’s our choices, not our abilities, that determine who we are.”

Dumbledore from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

As a physician, I have the honor of working with extremely intelligent people who were educated and trained at the most prestigious institutions in the world. As expected, most of my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. Yet, there are a few outliers.

Many years ago, I worked with a surgeon at one of the hospitals for which I was on staff. He was technically very proficient but his personality was distracting. Whenever he engaged anyone in a conversation, he would never fail to bring up the institutions he trained at or the people who trained him. He also boasted about the superiority of his training, even derisively stating how he had to sometimes dumb down and simplify his conversations when speaking to other physicians and physician extenders, like nurses and physician assistants. Needless to say, this did not endear him to the hospital staff. In fact, operating room nurses would deliberately try to reschedule themselves if they found they were paired with him.

This surgeon had all of the abilities one would expect with someone of his excellent training, yet because he chose to arrogantly boast about his credentials, he alienated everyone who worked with him.  With his abilities, he could easily have been elected chief of the medical staff, or even become a thought leader in his specialty. Instead, he made poor choices and ultimately it directly impacted patient care. 

There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin. His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land. 

1 Samuel 9:1-2 (NLT)

Saul was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the first King of Israel. The bible introduces him as a man coming from a wealthy and powerful family. He was the most handsome and tallest man in Israel. He literally stood out! He had the correct background to be a King. He had a promising start, obeying God and leading the Israelites to defeat the Ammonites. However, soon after this victory, Saul began making a series of poor choices. When God did not answer his immediate prayers, Saul grew anxious and took matters in his own hands and offered sacrifices to God, a task reserved only for priests like Samuel. When Samuel arrived, he chastised Saul. 

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. Had you kept it, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” 

1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NLT)

Saul continued to make bad choices until they led to his defeat and demise, dying an ignoble death on the battlefield by falling on his own sword. Saul’s life is a warning to all who are blessed with abilities and privilege. God blesses all of us but how we choose to use these gifts will determine who we are. 

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

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Stairway To Heaven (Psalms 62:1-2)

I played the last note of my solo jazz guitar rendition of “Somewhere, Over the Rainbow.” Working on it for several weeks, I was pleased to complete it without any mistakes. Smiling, I looked up at my friends who were gathered to hear me perform, eager to see if they agreed with me. Most nodded politely but one impatiently blurted out, “Great…hey can you play, ‘Stairway to Heaven’?”

“Sure thing.” I attempted to look downward so they could not see me rolling my eyes. It didn’t matter how skilled I was on jazz guitar, if I wasn’t able to play “Stairway to Heaven”, I simply wasn’t a good guitar player. My skill was solely judged by the perception of what others thought it should be. Thus, although it was not my preferred choice of music, I reluctantly learned many popular songs of the day so that I would be accepted as a guitar player. I know of many singers and other instrumentalists who are faced with the same dilemma. 

For much of my youth, I learned songs only to please others, attempting to keep up with the latest musical genres and fads. My spiritual life was no different. When I first accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I wrestled with often conflicting views as to what I perceived how others expected me to behave as a Christian. No swearing. No smoking. Always optimistic. Always self-sacrificing. All the stereotypes that are familiar to laypeople. There is nothing wrong with these stereotypes but I found I was behaving in this manner, not to honor God, but to simply please others. Like learning the popular songs that my friends wanted to hear, I was adopting the same behavior with my relationship with God. Something had to change.

I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken. 

Psalms 62:1-2 (CSB)

God, through His grace and mercy, helped me to realize that I had to calm my restless mind that was always seeking the approval of others. My salvation, my rest, my hope is only in Him. The only approval I need is from Jesus Christ!


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

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What Cap? (2 Timothy 3:7)

“I have a new one for you to tell your daughter!”

“Yeah? Let’s hear it!”

“No cap!”

I chuckled. “What does that mean?”

“It means you’re not lying.”

“Really? Wow, I would never have guessed that! Okay, I will use it the next time I speak to her.” One of my staff members is a few years older than my daughter in college and he is fond of sharing the latest urban slangs with me since he knows I like to keep up with her lingo. Unfortunately by the time he shares things with me, the term is already outdated thanks to the hyper accelerated evolution of language through social media and the internet. I am still stuck on “hip” and “cool” that betray my boomer generation. Words like “lit” and “dope”, which I thought were current, are already passé. No cap! This time I would impress her!

I got my opportunity the next day when my daughter called and asked me to help her with a small project. I seized the moment to show her how hip her old man was! “Sure thing, Sweetheart. I’ll take care of it. I’m cap!”

An awkward silence followed. “Dad, did you mean to say, ‘No cap?’ “

I blew it!

It was not the first time I attempted and failed to integrate the vernacular of my daughter and her peers into my everyday speech. No doubt this will continue to plague me, and why not? These are not idioms that I use in everyday language. The meaning escaped me and the context in which I attempted to insert it was awkward at best. 

My spiritual life has been no different. When I first became a Christian, there were many words and phrases that I used, particularly when speaking to other Christian believers, but I had no true understanding of what the words meant. Justification, sanctification, redemption. I conflated meanings and casually inserted them into my conversations. Like my futile attempts to impress my daughter, I used the words inappropriately, leading to more confusion with my listeners. 

…always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

2 Timothy 3:7 (CSB)

Timothy warned against false religions teachers who were preying upon gullible women in the Church, deceiving them with their blasphemous teachings and leading them to sin. This same verse could be applied to me. Instead of making the effort to understand and inculcate these important principles of Christian theology and living into my own life, I casually tossed out these weighty words, misinforming many who heard me. It was an egregious period in my life and I have since confessed these sins and repented to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

The words I choose to speak are important and whether I am attempting to fit in with a certain peer group or instruct others, I must always be mindful that God will judge me by every casual word I speak.

No cap!

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

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“Please Help My Son!” (John 19:25-27)

“Your grandmother really hustled for me when I started my practice.” My father wistfully looked at his dental office. “We had no patients and you were just born. We all had to stay with her while we got our feet on the ground. Everyday she would go around and ask her friends, ‘Please help my son!’ “

“Wow.” I pictured my grandmother catching the bus and visiting her friends throughout Honolulu. A strong woman, she raised five children alone, supporting the family as a barber, while my grandfather fought for the United States Army during WWII. 

“Yes, she helped me get started. We all owe so much to her.”

I was in my teens when my father shared this story with me. I was proud of the unswerving devotion my grandmother showed to her son. What parent would not do the same for their own children? My two children are now adults but if they ever have a need, I know that both my wife and myself would not hesitate to assist either of them in any way possible. But what would I do if everything I did for my children was of no avail? What if my children were in a situation when I could not help them? The Bible shares this tender moment between Jesus Christ and His mother at the Cross.

Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. 

John 19:25-27 (NLT)

Mary, the mother of Jesus, stood at the foot of the Cross. How could any parent bear the agony of seeing their own child tortured and executed? Did she cry out? Did she plead for mercy? No. There was nothing she could do for Him. She suffered in silence. It was Jesus, God Incarnate, who spoke to her. He knew the pain in her heart and reached out to her by having His beloved disciple John become her adopted son and care for her for the rest of her life. 

When we can do no more than is humanly possible for our children, God will take over. But we do not have to wait until we have exhausted all of our resources. If we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He is able to exceedingly abundantly accomplish more than we might ever think or ask! He promises to care for us and those whom we love by His grace and mercy.

Praise the Almighty Living God!

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

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“Why John?” (Revelation 1:1-2)

At five foot two, I was never the kid who got picked first when team captains were choosing sides for the after school basketball game. Jake, who was five foot eight, was always the coveted choice. I didn’t have to wonder if it was my personality or lack of basketball savvy, the reason was simple why I was always picked last. I was too short!

In life, individuals are preferentially selected over others for different tasks depending upon their intellectual prowess, physical strengths, and personality traits. In business and social situations, these choices are commonly made. The local churches are established like many organizations with a board of directors. There are pastors, deacons, elders, and lay leaders. All are appointed or elected based upon the position and their qualifying traits. Through prayer and thoughtful discussion, it is hoped that the best qualified person is matched with the correct position. What about the Church, the Body of Jesus Christ? How did God choose the great saints who wrote the books of the Bible? Clearly many of the authors were great leaders or prophets. Paul, Peter, Isaiah, Moses are just a few of the honored authors. Yet, the one author that I have always wondered about is the author of the final book of the bible, the Book of Revelation. 

The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatever he saw.

Revelation 1:1-2 (CSB)

Why did God choose John? Why not Paul, the author of the most books in the New Testament? Why not Peter, the leader of the first church? Why not James or Jude, the half-brothers of Jesus? The Bible tells us that John was the disciple Jesus loved and when Jesus hung on the Cross, John was asked to care for Jesus’ earthly mother, Mary. Certainly, John qualified as a trusted disciple. The Bible does not give us a direct answer and as I pondered this, God spoke to my heart. As is so often in my spiritual journey, I found that I was asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, “Why John?”, I should be asking, “What can I do to allow God to use me like He used John?”

When I was younger I could have worked on my basketball skills and made myself a more desirable pick for the team captains. In my spiritual life, would similar preparations work? I can read and memorize the Bible and participate in many church activities. These are noble actions but is this really what God is seeking?

Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God. 

Micah 6:8 (CSB)

For God to use me, I must humble myself before Him. All of the great saints that God chose to write the Bible, through the inspiration of His Holy Spirit, embodied this. I should stop asking, “Why didn’t you pick me?” and ask, “Show me what I need to do to be used by You!”


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

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Three Times The Size (Luke 3:23-28)

When you fall in love with someone, you want to know everything about them. What is their favorite food? The music they like? Their hobbies? What makes them laugh? Twenty questions played out on a grand scale. When I met my wife, it was no different. Obviously it was successful and although I spent countless hours, it was really no effort at all. I wanted to know!

When I became a Christian, I fell in love with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I wanted to know everything about Him and the best way was to read the Bible. Like so many new believers, I only focused upon the New Testament and it was no effort at all. Familiar stories I grew up with, like the Nativity and Jesus feeding the five thousand, were now seen in a vibrant new light. Yet, there was the gnawing issue of the Old Testament. Three times the size as the New Testament, it was filled with unusual customs and named cities and empires that even challenge modern scholars. I was frustrated. Where is Jesus mentioned? Why should I spend my time reading it?

The great saints who wrote the New Testament only had the Old Testament to base their writings. Every book of the New Testament liberally quotes the Old Testament. It is the history of the Jews and starts with the creation of the universe. Scientists estimate the age of the universe at over 13 billion years, and before it existed, God always existed! Thirteen billion years is but a moment in time for our Almighty Creator! God chose to reveal it in the Old Testament. If I ignore the Old Testament, I ignore the same foundation that molded these great saints into the pillars of faith they became. And if I ignore the foundation, I ignore the reasons why Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. It is common sense yet, how often do I ignore this simple fact? 

As he began his ministry, Jesus was about thirty years old and was thought to be the

son of Joseph, son of Heli…son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.

Luke 3:23-38

This long passage from the Gospel of Luke traces the genealogy of Jesus Christ through His paternal line. If I did not read the Old Testament, most of these names would be meaningless to me. Thankfully, God, through the great saints of the New Testament, reminds me of the importance of knowing and understanding the Old Testament. 

Where is Jesus in the Old Testament? He is in every book and mentioned by every author. The entire Old Testament points to the redeeming work of God, the Father, who sent His Son, Jesus Christ to restore the relationship that sin had broken. As the passage in Luke states, Jesus is the Son of God, and only God can be our Lord and Savior.


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

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Rethink Things (2 Peter 3:15-16)

“Learn something new.”

When my daughter was young, we would say our evening prayers together before she went to bed. One of our prayers was this short phrase. With seemingly unlimited information at our fingertips via the internet, this task has both become simplified and complicated. The reason is  ideas that I took for granted when I initially learned them, I now find I need to revisit and rethink. Political viewpoints, gender identity, political correctness. The definitions are literally changing by the moment and even differ depending upon the group and pundits who are espousing them. 

The internet exacerbates this information overload. What has been my response? Either through ignorance or lack of desire to investigate and do a deeper dive, I often accept explanations that fit more with my preconceived notions rather than to keep searching for the truth. I created a filter that does not allow for any internal disagreement. While this may give me peace, it does not always lead to the truth. The Apostle Peter warned about this.

Also, regard the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our dear brother Paul has written to you according to the wisdom given to him. He speaks about these things in all his letters. There are some things hard to understand in them. The untaught and unstable will twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.

2 Peter 3:15-16 (CSB)

In my early years as a Christian, I created a spiritual filter and made assumptions that the Bible was expounding something that were simply not true. Yet, instead of taking the time to pray, research, and consult with Bible teachers, pastors and mentors, I assumed that my interpretations were correct. Shamefully, I even shared some of these false teachings with others. I was the untaught and unstable heretic that Peter warned his readers. 

It was only when God led me through many life experiences did I begin to understand some of the more complicated passages of the Bible. These daily blogs that I write recount how God has taught and continues to teach me about many deep theological and spiritual principles of the Bible through the seemingly mundane events of my life. 

Learn something new. 

God needed to update my understanding of Him by teaching me what it means to live and abide in Him. In this world of rapidly changing definitions, He is the absolute Truth and He needs to be my filter by which I understand life. 

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

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Twenty Eight Years (2 Samuel 9:3-7)

“Sally! Oh my goodness! So good to see you! Do you realize it has been twenty eight years since we worked together?”

I was attending a retirement party for a former professional colleague. We worked together when I was resident and kept in touch during the ensuing years.  In attendance were many colleagues with whom we both worked, most of whom I had not seen since I completed my residency. Sally and I were elated to catch up on each other’s lives. 

“Looking forward to retirement? Planning lots of fishing trips, I bet!”

Sally’s eyes lit up. “Oh yes! But most of my time is spent with the family. With my father passing away a few years ago, I want to make sure I take care of my mother and see my siblings.” She paused then hugged me. “Thank you for recording his song for his memorial service!”

As I drove home, I had mixed emotions. I was gratified to see Sally and other friends, yet there were many others who were no longer with us, including Sally’s father. A few years earlier, another friend and I recorded a song that her father wrote. I did not have the pleasure of meeting him but I learned he was a man of many talents, including a talented piano player and songwriter. When he passed away, Sally asked me if I could record his song so that it could be played at his funeral. 

When my parents passed away several years ago, many friends of my parents, most of whom I did not know, took the time to write me kind letters or send me objects that were meaningful to both of them. They expressed their love to my family by honoring their love for my parents.

So the king asked, “Is there anyone left of Saul’s family that I can show the kindness of God to?”

Ziba said to the king, “There is still Jonathan’s son who was injured in both feet.” The king asked him, “Where is he?” Ziba answered the king, “You’ll find him in Lo-debar at the house of Machir son of Ammiel.” So King David had him brought from the house of Machir son of Ammiel in Lo-debar. Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, fell facedown, and paid homage. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “I am your servant,” he replied. “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “since I intend to show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all your grandfather Saul’s fields, and you will always eat meals at my table.” 

2 Samuel 9:3-7 (CSB)

In this touching story, King David desired to honor his predecessor’s family. This act of kindness was unprecedented in that day and very uncommon even in this day. David showed his love for King Saul by honoring and caring for his disabled son, Mephibosheth.

Isn’t this how God cares for us? His grace and mercy are extended through His creation for countless generations. I am thankful for my enduring friendship with Sally. I pray that all of my friendships will continue to be blessed by God and I will be able to honor the love they have unselfishly given to me.


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

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Spiritual Supplements (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Molybdenum, Cadmium, Cobalt. 

These rare earth elements have been in the recent news since they are desperately needed for the manufacture of semiconductors which are in short supply throughout the world. In medicine, these are also known as trace elements. Present in everyone in minute concentrations, these are necessary components for many critical biochemical processes to occur in humans. Without them, we would become very ill and eventually die. All of these can be obtained with a proper diet but there are situations when these supplements must be given, such as severe malnutrition or patients receiving chemotherapy for cancer. If a little is good, then a lot should be better, right? Not quite. If one takes some of these supplements in large quantities, it can lead to toxicity and even death. A critical balance is required to ensure good health. 

What about my spiritual life? Are there spiritual supplements that I need for healthy growth?

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

2 Peter 1:5-7 (CSB)

As expected, God is proactive to ensure our robust spiritual growth and provides us proper supplements. However, unlike trace elements, these supplements should not be provided sparingly and in minute quantities, but should be lavished upon every believer in Jesus Christ! Goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. A little is good and a lot is much better!

Praise God for His spiritual supplements!

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

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It’s Called Life (Psalms 55:12-14)

The relative who stabs you in the back; the close confidant who discloses the contents of a private conversation about another colleague to that very person; the business relationship that failed because one of the partners was embezzling their own company’s funds. What do we call these situations? Tragic? Despicable?

It’s called life.

I have been involved in each of the three situations. It does not matter how many of these experiences I have endured, it does not get any easier. We have all been hurt by others. How do we deal with life? Some turn to alcohol or drugs, others sublimate their feelings and bury themselves in work or other activities. Still others, like myself, turn to a trusted friend for comfort and advice. But what does one do when it is the same trusted friend who has turned against you?

In each of the above cited situations, I first unloaded my hurt feelings onto my wife who respectfully listened. While she is my soulmate and I value her opinion and advice, I know she has enough problems of her own and I always feel that I am overburdening her with my troubles. Why didn’t I first take my problems to God? He undoubtedly understands my pain and betrayal but how do I take the problems to Him? Do I speak to Him in whispered tones? Do I approach Him with silent prayer? Do I even need to take it to Him since He knows all things? I can take comfort from the great saints of the Bible who faced similar travails. 

Now it is not an enemy who insults me—otherwise I could bear it; it is not a foe who rises up against me—otherwise I could hide from him. But it is you, a man who is my peer, my companion and good friend! We used to have close fellowship; we walked with the crowd into the house of God.

Psalms 55:12-14 (CSB)

When David wrote this psalm, he was hurting and plaintively cried out to God. As he described the relationship, we learn that he was betrayed by a close friend, with whom he even worshipped together with God.  Did David consult with his wives? Did he speak to his other friends? The Bible does not tell us this but it does record his moving words and actions when he took the issue before God. David did not hide his feelings from God and neither should I. There have literally been times when I have yelled out in frustration and anguish. Is this wrong? God gives us the answer a few verses later.

But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. I complain and groan morning, noon, and night, and he hears my voice. Though many are against me, he will redeem me from my battle unharmed.

Psalms 55:16-18 (CSB)

How should I take the problems of my life to God? I should take it to Him the same way David did. I should be honest and freely allow my emotions to be expressed. I may complain and groan, but I do not cry out in defeat, exasperated by my situation. I shout in triumph, confident that He will accomplish what He promises. He sealed His promise to me by sacrificing His Son, Jesus Christ. God will redeem me and protect me if I place my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Praise God!

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

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