The Face Of Suffering (Luke 22:41-44)

As the world watches in horror as Russia invades Ukraine, the news and social media have given us stark images of the terrible toll on human lives. There are desperate stories of heroism in the face of overwhelming odds. We hear chilling interviews with families forced to flee to neighboring countries. 

My neighbor in my business complex is from Ukraine and his associate is from Russia. Over the last thirteen years, we have become friends. Both are incredulous at the tragic unfolding of events. Most of his family and friends fled to safety in the Western portions of Ukraine, before the invasion began. As he texted me, he solemnly wrote, “Unbelievable this is happening in this day and age. Please pray for us.” For some Americans, the events in Ukraine may seem distant and removed. However, when there is a face associated with these horrific events, it becomes very personal. 

The Bible records many battles and wars but it seldom portrays the human side of the suffering with one important exception. On the evening when Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He was entering His final battle with Satan who was always lurking to attack both Him and His disciples. 

He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. 

Luke 22:41-44 (NLT)

Jesus sees the pain and suffering of millions of Ukrainians. He knows the tragic sacrifices that billions of others have experienced through countless wars. He experienced the full weight of all the sin and suffering that has ever been or will be experienced as He was tortured on the Cross. As He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, no one but Jesus would ever know the pain He would soon experience. He prayed so fervently that His sweat became like drops of blood. It was a grim foreshadowing of the blood He would soon shed for the world. 

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, is the face of the suffering of all Ukrainians and the only hope for this fallen world. 

Let’s join together in prayer for an end to this war in Ukraine. 

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Mercy (Psalms 119:121)

After surrendering, they threw themselves upon the mercy of their enemies. This is not always the best decision but sometimes we have no other choice. In most of these scenarios, mercy usually means a cruel death at the hand of the victors. The Bible also recognizes the harsh reality of this action. 

Don’t leave me to the mercy of my enemies, for I have done what is just and right. 

Psalms 119:121 (NLT)

The author of this Psalm was pleading to God to rescue him from an expected cruel fate at the hands of his enemies. He did not anticipate their mercy would be compassionate. Is there any situation when we can be assured that mercy will lead to a blessing? What does it mean to do what is just and right in the eyes of God?

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. 

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)

What are grace and mercy? There are many definitions and I have found the following to be helpful. Theologian J.I. Packer wrote, “Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves.” Pastor and Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee, further added, “Grace is the way God saves you. Mercy provided a Savior.” The great Preacher Warren Biersbe wrote. “God in His mercy does not give us what we do deserve, and God in grace gives us what we do not deserve.”

There is only one way to receive mercy and always receive a blessing. We cannot do it by our own efforts. We must humble ourselves and acknowledge that we are helpless and lost sinners. God’s grace took the initiative to save us by His mercy. Only by confessing our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, will we be able to receive salvation and eternal life. This is God’s grace and mercy working together when we need it most.


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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

W.I.N. (Romans 13:14)

In 1974, many politicians were wearing buttons sporting the acronym, “W.I.N.” It was not an encouragement to support our Olympic team, however. It was an acronym for “Whip Inflation Now!” With inflation raging over 12% and unemployment very high, then President Gerald Ford wanted to encourage the American public to take matters into their own hands and institute inflation-reducing measures such as carpooling, turning down thermostats, and creating their own vegetable gardens. He favored this approach to government intervention and price controls. The government even produced these buttons to encourage solidarity in this program to battle inflation. 


It seems ludicrous now and I thought it was nearly fifty years ago. Media outlets castigated the campaign with one labeling it “one of the biggest public relations blunders ever”.

Source Washington Post.

As America and many other nations battle inflation, it is appropriate to remind all of us how futile some of our past actions have been to solve a very complex problem like inflation. Simply wearing a button is meaningless unless all the stakeholders and citizens support the effort. And even if that were to happen, there are many moving parts that cannot be addressed by the feckless interventions that President Ford recommended. 

Sin is an even more complex problem. What should we do when we are faced with temptation and sin? Do we recite a prayer or offer up a penance? Do we dismiss or hide it beneath the facade of a pious lifestyle? God provides the answer. 

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

How does God show us a way out of sin and temptation?

Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires. 

Romans 13:14 (NLT)

How do we battle sin? We don’t wear a button. We clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ. Let the armor of God protect you! 


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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Directions (Galatians 3:24-25)

It was one of the highlights of our first visit to Japan. It was a fabled sushi restaurant, visited by royalty from throughout the world and lauded by top chefs as the most elegant and lofty example of this favorite Japanese delicacy. Although we knew it was nearly impossible to get a reservation at the 10-seat counter, we endeavored to take a photograph in front of the restaurant, but first, we had to find it. We obediently followed the directions that our guidebook provided. We circled the same address several times. We were at the correct location but we did not believe we were there. Using my broken Japanese, I asked several of the locals if this was the location of the famous restaurant. They nodded and pointed in the same direction. Even more confused, I shook my head as we revisited the same address. This time, however, an almost hidden door on the side opened and a man, dressed as a chef, stepped outside. Could this be the restaurant? To our delight, we had found it. It was the most inconspicuous facade, tucked away in a corner of an underground subway station in a major city in Japan. There were no signs directing the searching public, no banners or photographs parading the award-winning chef. It was just a white cloth with black Japanese characters hanging over a plain Japanese rice paper screen door. We followed the directions and passed by the destination several times without realizing we had arrived at our destination. 

…The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. 

Galatians 3:24-25 (NLT)

From the beginning of their existence, the Jewish nation has been waiting for their Savior. The irony and tragic truth is their Savior did appear, nearly two thousand years ago. Jesus Christ fulfilled all of the prophecies that were written by their own Kings, priests, and prophets. Yet, like the directions in my guidebook, the prophecies were meant to lead them to their Savior but could not take them to their final destination. All of their laws could not give them righteousness. The laws were meant to lead them to their Savior. Only He could give them righteousness. 

My spiritual journey to Jesus Christ was no different. God revealed Himself to me through many different experiences. I attended a Christian high school, took many religion classes, and played in the orchestra for numerous Christmas and Easter pageants. These were all directions and signposts to lead me to know my Creator but it was my stubborn reliance upon my own will that ignored these directions. God finally sent a dear brother who directly witnessed to me and led me to understand who God is.

All of the signs and directions led me to Jesus Christ but it was only by faith that I reached my final destination by confessing and repenting of my sins and accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. 

Praise God for His grace and mercy!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Not Allowed To Attend The Same Church (2 Kings 2:11-12)

“Sally told me that when the pastor of her church retired, he and his family were not allowed to attend their old church, they had to find a new one.”

It was interesting but understandable. When a pastor retires, he should do everything possible to smooth the transition for the new pastor and be as helpful as he can be. This may include transferring membership to a new church. This allows the new pastor to create their own leadership style. This does not mean the pastor cannot offer advice to his former church board or to the new pastor, if called upon. However by remaining in the same church, the retired pastor may be a distraction and at worst, a hindrance, especially if his style clashes with the new pastor or the board sides with the retired pastor on critical church issues. 

As I reflected upon this, I realized that I have attended several churches that adopted this policy. I also remembered this interesting account from the Bible, chronicling the transition of one great prophet to another.

As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” And as they disappeared from sight, Elisha tore his clothes in distress. 

2 Kings 2:11-12 (NLT)

Elijah literally passed the spiritual and physical mantle to his successor, Elisha, who was chosen by God. Instead of leaving the ministry and moving to another location, Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a chariot of fire sent by God. No awkward transition here! This is the most definitive way to ensure the pathway is completely clear for the next leader! 

There is no passage in the Bible that directly states that the retiring pastor of a church should transfer membership. However, there are sound reasons to follow this principle. I am thankful for the many pastors who have successfully transitioned from being a shepherd of God’s people to becoming another sheep in the Body of Jesus Christ. Any church that receives them is quite fortunate. 


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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

“Look At The Photograph!” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“Look at the photograph!”

We dutifully rose from our desks and walked to the front of the room where a black and white photo was posted. It was a photograph of a native American Indian. With a feather in his hair, it looked very similar to other photographs I had previously seen. As we studied the photo, our teacher declared. “Indian men didn’t need to shave!”

My classmates and I recoiled and randomly shouted. “What?” “No way!” “C’mon!”

Such a conversation would immediately be canceled and shamed today. However, this was 1976. I was in 8th grade and the man who told us this was my history teacher. I had no reason to question him and growing up in Hawaii, I had no exposure to native American Indians. I was exposed to many such inappropriate teachings when I was young. Although I was raised and educated to question everything I heard, some ideas were questioned more readily than others. It was not until several years later when I discovered how narrow minded and misinformed my teacher was. 

My spiritual journey was no different. I attended a Christian school from the sixth grade. During these seven years until I graduated, I attended a chapel service twice a week and took my mandatory religion classes. It was assumed by all that I was a Christian as I studied the parables of Jesus Christ, the great kings of Israel, and learned about the Patriarchs of the Bible and the origin of the Jewish civilization. However, I never learned that I was a sinner. In fact, just the opposite. I learned that we are all basically good people. God gives us rules to live and by following them, we go to Heaven. Like my history teacher, I never questioned these teachings. However, when I matriculated to college, I quickly became disillusioned with my comfortable world view.  I lacked discernment. God soon showed me how to find it. 

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 

2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)

A wise person once stated, “Discernment is the ability to see things for what they really are and not for what you want them to be. The heart of spiritual discernment is being able to distinguish the voice of the world from the voice of God.” Only when I began to read the Bible with an eye to spiritual discernment rather than to fulfill a homework assignment, did I begin to understand who Jesus Christ is and what He means to me. I am a sinner, hopelessly lost in my own wretched state. No amount of good works or acts of kindness would ever change my forlorn condition. God knows this and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross for my sins. When He was resurrected three days later, He showed that all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will receive salvation and eternal life. 

This is such a different message than what I learned in my middle and high school! I was exposed to many inappropriate teachings during my formative years. However, none was more inappropriate than never revealing the truth that I desperately needed Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Praise God for His grace and mercy!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Just The First Step (John 4:5-9)

“So how is Sally?”

“She’s very happy! She is working for an aerospace company as a design engineer!”

I was speaking to a dear brother and sister in the Lord who were beaming about their oldest daughter’s latest job. I was elated that she was working in a company where she could utilize her impressive engineering skills. However, there was more to this story.

“Yes, we are very happy. She had a rough time before she got her current position. She was previously working for a company that looked down upon women. All older men, typical of an engineering firm, and they would not give her a chance. She finally left when she found this new job.”

High schools and colleges have done an admirable job of encouraging and supporting young women to enter careers in engineering. While it has opened doors, once they walk through that door, some find themselves in the same room they thought they left behind. It was disheartening to learn that some of these previously male dominated occupations still created a toxic work environment for women. It did not matter whether the women were qualified or had successfully worked in other major engineering firms. This was their domain and they would not surrender it without displaying their male chauvinism. 

After speaking to my friends, I realized breaking down educational barriers was simply the first step. The workplace also needs to change and that requires a reset of management and the culture. As my friend’s daughter discovered to her dismay, this is easier said than done.

Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” 

John 4:5-9 (NLT)

In this touching passage from the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ broke down many barriers: cultural, racial, and gender. He interacted with everyone from all levels of society, all races, and opened the doors for women. As was alluded to in the passage, there was a long history of animosity and racism between the Jews and Samaritans. Compounding these issues was the fact that a Jewish man did not usually interact with a Samaritan woman in this manner. Did Jesus succeed in creating a society that accepted everyone as readily as He did? We learn a few verses later that a transformation in the Samaritan society had indeed begun.

Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.” 

John 4:39-42 (NLT)

Societal change is difficult and takes time. As Jesus Christ demonstrated, He opened the door and took this first step in an ancient society, breaking down barriers. We, as part of our society, can assist in breaking down more barriers, but it takes more than the first step, it requires a change in the heart. Only faith and belief in Jesus Christ can change our hearts. The complete change will come when all declare that Jesus Christ is indeed the Savior of the world.


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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Stress Testing (Psalms 119:140)

I had been running on the treadmill for five minutes, hooked up to an EKG while being closely monitored by a physician assistant. Although I was completely asymptomatic with no other risk factors for heart disease, because of my father recently dying from a sudden heart attack, my personal physician thought it prudent for me to undergo a cardiac stress test. I successfully passed the test as we both hoped I would. I did the stress test to prove that I was healthy as I appeared to be, reassuring myself and my physician. 

Stress testing is not only useful for cardiac health. There are many situations that require stress testing in order to prove and reassure others that the reported claims are valid. Spacecraft are stress tested to verify it can withstand the extreme temperature and pressure changes. Software programs are stress tested to verify its stability and reliability during heavy use. What about spiritual stress testing? The Bible records an extreme example. At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus Christ fasted for forty days and was then led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Satan beguiled Jesus with fame, wealth, and power. With each temptation, Jesus resisted and clung to the Word of God. 

Why would Jesus have to be stress tested with temptation? Some cynically state that this isn’t fair! After all, isn’t He God? How could He fail? This is too simplistic an analysis. Once again, the Bible gives us the answer. 

Your promises have been thoroughly tested; that is why I love them so much. 

Psalms 119:140 (NLT)

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NASB)

The promises of Jesus Christ can be trusted because He was stress tested under the most rigorous of conditions. Directly tempted by Satan while in a weakened physical state, Jesus Christ clung to His faith in God, His Father, and rebuked Satan’s temptations by quoting the Word of God. 

Stress testing. 

Why would Jesus need to be tempted?  It was not for His benefit, it was for our instruction. Jesus was completely human and because He was tempted in all ways but did not sin, He proved that one can live a life of complete obedience to God. He underwent the ultimate stress test and emerged triumphant and sinless in the face of temptation. During our spiritual stress testing and temptations, we can also emerge victorious if we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Praise God!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Nightly Sushi Dinner (Isaiah 43:25)

“Yes, I have to plan my strategy!”

“Strategy for eating sushi?”


Over thirty years ago, I was the medical director for a laboratory in a city that was a two hour drive from my home. My pathology group agreed to put me up in a hotel for a week at a time and issued me a meal allowance. I gladly obliged and ate my favorite meal, sushi, every night at a wonderful sushi bar located close to the laboratory. There has never been a time before or since when I ate so much sushi! In a short period of time, the sushi chefs got to know me and expected my arrival at 6PM every evening, often reserving special items for me that they received from the fish market earlier in the morning. 

It was all in jest when I was speaking to one of my colleagues, but it was exciting to plan a sushi eating strategy. Should I begin with the o-toro (fatty tuna) sashimi then move on to the hamachi (yellowtail tuna) or should I opt for the raw oysters in ponzu sauce then move on to the fish? Should I then break it up with a grilled snapper head or a chawanmushi (steamed and savory egg custard)? And of course, the nigri was saved for last. The nigiri are what most consider sushi, fermented rice paired with a protein, usually wrapped in nori or seaweed. So many permutations and I tried many of them during my stay there. And let’s not even start with the sake pairings! Oh yes, it was a very special time.

I remember these sushi dinners so well because it dramatically contrasted with my professional work in that laboratory. It was grueling with excessively high caseloads and seemingly endless administrative issues with which to deal, overseeing a laboratory with several hundred employees. In contrast, during my dermatopathology fellowship, I never worked harder but it was exhilarating to be in such an academically stimulating environment, working with world class experts who literally wrote my textbooks. I have many fond memories of that time and remember many of my cases, but I do not remember the meals. I was on a tight budget and often ate a bowl of ramen for breakfast and dinner. No meal allowance there! It was a very special time as well, but for completely different reasons. 

When I was in high school, I was taught that we retain all of our memories. If we cannot remember something, it is because the proper neural pathways have not been stimulated. Neurobiologists are now discovering that memory is not so simple. Memories need to be stored in the parts of our brain that are biologically adapted for long term memories. When we recall the memories, each time we do this is strongly influenced by the events at the time of the recall. Thus, long term memories may subtly change and even be forgotten. There is evidence in other animals that neural connections are actually destroyed, leading to loss of certain unpleasant memories. Instead of retaining all memories, forgetting may actually be a vitally important protective mechanism of the brain. 

All of us retain memories of blessings and sins. Like the examples I shared, we love to hold on to pleasant memories and try to rid ourselves of unpleasant ones. Many times, unpleasant memories deal with sins. These sins may weigh heavy upon our consciences. While the brain may have a physiological process to help us forget some sins, it is only a cosmetic patch. How do we deal with the guilt that sin inflicts upon us? 

I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. 

Isaiah 43:25 (NLT)

What neuroscientists have only recently discovered, God decreed thousands of years ago! When we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, through His saving grace and mercy, He remembers our sins no longer. It is more than a rewiring of our brains or filtering memories, God blots our sins from His memory granting us forgiveness. This is how He deals with sins and guilt in our lives. He replaces our sins with the peace and comfort that surpasses all understanding through faith and belief in Jesus Christ. 

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Telling God What To Do (Psalms 78:19-20)

“God can do anything!”

“No! He can’t!”

“Can He make a knife so sharp that it can cut anything but it can’t cut itself?”

“No, because that statement does not make sense. God cannot contradict Himself!”

I was in college and my classmate was playing with words, using a nonsensical and illogical statement to prove that God did not exist. He was not the only one. Since that conversation, I have encountered many who love to play word games and utilize fuzzy logic to prove that God does not exist or is not the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Being that He is. 

The accusations do not stop there. Others may casually accept the idea of God but limit His abilities or doubt that He is in control of everything in the universe. A truly omnipotent God wouldn’t allow evil to exist, therefore He is not in control of everything. These arguments are not new. Thousands of years ago, the Bible recorded a sad incident when the Israelites were wandering the wilderness after God had rescued them from hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt. God struck the Egyptians with ten plagues forcing the Egyptian Pharaoh to initially allow them to leave. However, Pharoah reneged on his promise and pursued the Israelites. God protected the Israelites, miraculously leading them through the Red Sea which was parted and then caused the sea to swallow up the pursuing Egyptians. But all of these miracles were not enough! When later confronted with diminishing stores of water and food, their faith faltered and the Israelites complained and quickly forgot all that God had done for them. 

They even spoke against God himself, saying, “God can’t give us food in the wilderness. Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out, but he can’t give his people bread and meat.” 

Psalms 78:19-20 (NLT)

It is easy to fault the Israelites but I need to stop and look in the mirror. Am I any different? God has exceedingly and abundantly blessed me but when trials and tribulations confront me, how quickly do I wither, forget His provisions, and question God if He will provide for me again? Instead of trusting God, I tell Him what to do. “God, you helped me before but you can’t save me from these colleagues who now slander me.” My complaints are no different than the Israelites and I should be ashamed.

Whether it is by intellectual word games or doubting God’s authority, when we question God and tell Him what to do, we create God in our image. Our faith will be weak if our God is a weak and capricious being, who does not keep His promises and is limited in His ability to minister to us. 

Thanks be to God that this is the antithesis of who He is.

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. 

Hebrews 7:25 (NLT)

Jesus Christ is the exact representation of God. By placing our faith and trust in Him, we can break through the doubt and temptation to tell God what to do and learn to live the fulfilled life that He intended for all of us to live, to have God tell us what to do.


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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses