“I Read Differently.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Recently, I have been doing my devotional Bible reading and Bible studies with Bibles that I used when I first became a Christian, forty years ago. While this should not come as a surprise to any Christian believer, it was new for me since for the last five years, I have been using an online Bible. 

One day in my office, I was doing my daily devotional with my Bible opened on my desk. My associate entered my office and saw what I was doing. “Interesting,” she said. “You are reading an actual book.”

I smiled. “Yes. I have been finding much pleasure reading an actual book once again.”

She nodded. “Whenever I am able, I try to read an actual book and not an online version. I find I read differently.”

“How so?”

“Not sure. I find I read things more carefully, even flipping the pages back and forth more frequently. I know I could do this with a digital book but somehow, the experience is different.”

I understood what she was attempting to articulate. I also read differently when it is an actual book. Perhaps it is because I must read slower instead of electronically scrolling. Perhaps it is because there are less distractions with a real book, lacking popup definitions and notes. All of these are possibilities but I think it is something much more primal. 

Reading a book is the way that I first learned. It reconnects me to my past. There is a comforting  familiarity. When we rediscover our roots, we rediscover ourselves. The story of the sisters Mary and Martha echoes this Truth. Jesus was in their home and teaching. Martha was busy with the details of preparing a dinner to later serve Jesus and His disciples. Her sister Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening. Frustrated by her sister, Martha asked Jesus to tell her sister, Mary, to help her with the preparations. Jesus’ unexpected answer was penetrating. 

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” 

Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)

A digital Bible offers instantaneous retrieval of information with numerous bells and whistles, like ready access to Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and maps. However, like Martha, I may become distracted and too reliant on these other resources, that I miss the simple message of the Bible. My spiritual life is no different. It is easy to become distracted by the details of living a life serving God. The fellowship groups. The church activities. All of these are important but if I am not careful, I may allow these to crowd out my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I must reconnect with Him every moment, coming to the Bread of Life to be nourished and sustained. 

Jesus is my first love. He is my root. When I rediscover Him, I rediscover myself.

Amen.

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

“It’s Not The Same!” (Philippians 4:6-7)

My wife and I anxiously followed the directions on our smart phone. “All right, turn right at the next corner.”

We were visiting a new city and learned that it had a gum wall. We previously visited a spectacular gum wall in the city of Seattle and were eager to see another quirky display of chewing gum stuck on a wall by random citizens of the city. We could smell the familiar scent of chewing gum as we approached the wall. “Yup, I think this is it!”

Entering the corridor formed by two walls of adjacent buildings, we immediately knew this would be a disappointment. The gum did not have the brilliant hues of the Seattle wall. In fact, a layer of soot covered some of the wall, obscuring what little color that was present. I turned to my wife and shook my head. “It’s not the same.” I lamented the fact that the experience did not equal our initial encounter with a gum wall. I began to wonder if other gum walls in other cities were equally as disappointing. 

When we have experienced something wonderful in the past, our expectations are high when we learn of another similar event. A great concert by a renowned musician. A delicious meal by a celebrity chef. Given the opportunity, we would gladly accept another invitation, hopeful that the next experience will be as memorable as the first. When the next experience fails to live up to our expectations, it definitely dampens one’s enthusiasm to repeat the experience. 

What about our spiritual lives? Do our expectations of Jesus Christ ever hinder our spiritual progress? I can recall many times when I have prayed to God for something to happen. God always answers my prayers, and when the answer is yes, I am encouraged to pray the same prayer, hopeful that God will answer it affirmatively once again. However, sometimes the answer is no. When this happens, am I as eager to pray knowing He may deny my prayer request?

God does not ask us to pray in expectation that what He has answered affirmatively in the past will again happen. Nor does He ask us to become discouraged when our prayers are not answered in the manner we were hoping. God asks us to pray with thanksgiving for everything. 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)

The world may disappoint us, frequently not living up to our expectations. God’s answer to this disappointment is to pray to Him and His peace, which surpasses all comprehension, will care for our hearts and minds through faith and belief in Jesus Christ.

Amen!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Rabble (Numbers 11:4-6)

The danger to any organization’s stability is always the greatest from within. It does not matter if it is a secular business or a church. Crafty individuals exert their will upon others, eventually gathering enough support to challenge the leadership. I have seen it within several organizations of which I have been a part of and even within my own company. At the least, these individuals are a thorn in the side of management. At the worst, an all-out rebellion may result. 

The Bible records an episode that vividly portrays this. The Israelites had left Egypt, rescued by the miracles of God. Moses was leading them and, at a time they should be grateful for their deliverance, grumblings were beginning to be expressed. 

Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!” 

Numbers 11:4-6 (NLT)

The foreign rabble that are being described in this passage has also been translated as riff-raff and mixed multitude. Who were they? They were gentiles, non-Jewish people, who were traveling with the Israelites. This term has survived into today’s language as a rabble-rouser, describing someone who agitates and inflames the emotions of a group of people, often for political or selfish gains. 

It is instructive that the rabble aimed their complaints directly at God’s goodness and provisions. It was so much better when they were in Egypt, ignoring the fact they were slaves. They soon got the attention of some of the Israelites who quickly piled on, descending down a slippery slope, complaining about the manna, God’s miraculous provision. The rabble in an organization often aim their complaints directly at leadership, complaining that they are uncaring, unresponsive, or both. Once they are heard, they quickly leverage it to foment strife. 

There will always be rabble. It may not be obvious. A casual complaint, even spoken in jest, may quickly escalate. Whatever our position in an organization, we must be alert and sensitive to identify such individuals before it is too late.

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Which Actress? (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

“Which Hollywood actress invented a device that later became the basis for bluetooth and wifi technology? Your choices are: A. Elizabeth Taylor B. Marilyn Monroe C. Hedy Lamarr or D. Michele Pfieffer.”

I stared at my co-workers. We were playing our morning trivia game, asking our office smart device to provide a daily trivia question. This question caught all of us by surprise. In fact, we thought it was a joke. The only unfamiliar name was Hedy Lamarr so we blindly guessed that name. We were correct!

Actress Hedy Lamarr was a popular actress in the 1930’s, first gaining fame in Europe and then in Hollywood. When WWII began, she learned that the Germans were utilizing radio-controlled torpedoes with devastating effect on Allied ships. She also learned these torpedoes could be jammed, setting them off course. With another inventor, she patented an invention in 1942 known as frequency hopping. The U.S. Navy was aware of the invention, but they did not implement it. However, a later generation discovered her invention and this technology forms the basis for today’s bluetooth, wifi, and GPS technology.

Source: Wikipedia.

Why wasn’t her invention widely received? At that time, the U.S. Navy did not readily accept inventions submitted from non-military personnel, much less an actress. In addition, the technology was difficult to implement. Lamarr also had another strike against her, she was not an American citizen. Imagine, a ground breaking and disruptive technology was readily available but not utilized for decades. How would today’s world have been different if it had been adopted when it was first invented?

Sometimes God introduces radical and disruptive ideas from unexpected sources. One might expect God to choose an attorney or polished orator to proclaim His Word to His people. At times He did, but many other times, He chose people who seemingly had no qualifications and would have been otherwise ignored. The Prophet Amos was a sheepherder and farmer from Tekoa, a town in the middle of nowhere. When others questioned his credentials, he even admitted he had no formal training. Yet, he remained obedient to his calling from God. Were there people who ignored the message of Amos because they were prejudiced against his background or the harsh words of his prophecies? Undoubtedly. Yet, for those who listened, they were blessed and saved through their faith. It is a beautiful example of how God works in our lives. 

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NLT)

Like Hedy Lamarr’s invention, there are many ideas and profound messages that have been ignored because of prejudices and biases against the source. The message of Jesus Christ was ignored and ridiculed by many for these very same reasons. He was the son of a carpenter. He was not schooled in prestigious institutions. He may have been born out of wedlock. All these reasons and more prevent many from hearing and seeing the Truth that has the power to change lives and change the world. 

This is how God works in this world. This is how He can work in our lives. Allow Him to work in yours. 

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Half Sheets (Proverbs 16:11)

Several years ago, before shrinkflation was commonplace, I noticed that some paper towel companies were implementing an interesting variation. Instead of the usual size of the paper towel sheets that tore off at pre-perforated sizes, the size of each sheet was reduced in half. The idea was ostensibly to conserve resources, using less paper towel for activities that did not require an entire sheet. While the idea seemed noteworthy, I soon questioned its merit. Instead of using only the half sheet, I found myself tearing two or more sheets to accomplish the same task. Even when I consciously tore off only the half-sheet, I found myself going back and tearing off another half-sheet.

Frustrated, I asked the co-workers in my office if they were using less paper towels with these new half-sheets. All of them said no. It made me wonder, what if that was the intention from the beginning? What if the paper towel companies, under the pretext of being wise users of resources, were actually promoting a method to use more of their product? Of course, no company would ever harbor such sinister plans for its customers, right?

A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; all the weights of the bag are His concern. 

Proverbs 16:11 (NASB)

When the Bible was written, balances and scales were as critical to carry out trade and commerce as they still are. Most of us are familiar with examples of hucksters using falsely low weights to cheat farmers by paying them far less for their goods. The wisdom that God gave us in the Bible, thousands of years ago, is testimony that this has been going on far longer than the appearance of half-sheet paper towels. I am not implying that this was the paper towel company’s ulterior motive.  However, if I have a healthy level of skepticism, it is because the history of the world is littered with companies who have knowingly cheated their customers. Defunct companies like Enron and Worldcom. Existing companies like Volkswagen and Wells Fargo.

It is instructive that this idea of a just balance and scales, quoted in the Proverbs verse above, is repeated at least nine other times in the Bible. Thanks be to God that He is concerned with all aspects of our life, including our business dealings. Half-sheet or full-sheet. Only God always knows our true motives.

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Who Audits The Auditor? (1 John 2:20-21)

The accounting firm of Ernst and Young was recently fined $100 million dollars. Accounting irregularities? Workplace discrimination? No, but it was for something equally as shocking. The firm admitted to knowing about several of its own employees cheating on the ethics portion of their Certified Public Accountants test. As one SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) official stated, ““This action involves breaches of trust by gatekeepers within the gatekeeper entrusted to audit many of our nation’s public companies…It’s simply outrageous that the very professionals responsible for catching cheating by clients cheated on ethics exams of all things.”

Source: CNN.com

All companies have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders. An independent financial audit is part of this oversight and many companies utilize large and prestigious firms such as Ernst and Young. What happens when the auditor cheats? Who audits the auditor?

It is a sad statement when such events occur. Hypocrisy. Malfeasance. Fraud. All of these labels apply to this company and their cheating employees. Yet, it was only because they were caught did the public discover this egregious breach of trust. Otherwise, it may never have been detected. Cynics may scoff and point out that no harm was done to the clients. They received their financial audits which were presumably correct. While this may be true, it overlooks a dangerous precedent. The culture of the entire company is in question. The cheating and lies began at the top. The employees who cheated undoubtedly felt protected since their superiors were doing the same. They were living according to the same corrupted standard. There is a lesson for all of us.

But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth. So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies. 

1 John 2:20-21 (NLT)

If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we no longer live a life beholden to our old nature, following the ways of the world. We are held to a higher standard. When we sin, it is not because God sins, it is because our old nature is rebelling against our new nature given to us by God, through the Holy Spirit, living within us. Even if no one else knows about our sins, we know that God does. We know the Truth and it will set us free. God sacrificed His Son, Jesus Christ, to allow us to live by His same incorruptible standard.

Amen!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

No Backup Plan (Jonah 1:1-3)

“Although I know you don’t want to think about it, but you need to have a backup plan, just in case you don’t get accepted into medical school.”

I have been privileged to mentor many students who are interested in becoming a physician. As critical as it was for them to get accepted into medical school, it was equally important to consider the possibility that it may not happen and be ready with a backup plan. Ironically, in spite of my advice, I had no backup plan when I was in college and applying to medical school. Fortunately, I was accepted into medical school. However, I sometimes wonder what would I have done if I didn’t get into medical school. How many more attempts would I have made to get accepted to medical school? During those years of waiting, would I have pursued a PhD program in molecular biology? A teaching degree? What about nursing school? 

As I reflected upon this, I wondered what options do we have if we fail at a spiritual task? Is there a spiritual backup plan? The Bible gives us many inspiring examples of great saints who initially failed in the tasks that God assigned to them. The life of the prophet Jonah is particularly instructive. God commanded him to preach a message of repentance to the city of Nineveh. Jonah went in the opposite direction. 

The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish. 

Jonah 1:1-3 (NLT)

Most are familiar with the story of Jonah. If we refuse to carry out God’s plan, He may not send a great fish to swallow us alive, but God is not mocked. We reap what we sow. There is no backup plan when we disobey God. However, if we do accept God’s task, He will never abandon us. Even if we encounter initial setbacks and disappointments, God will take our burdens and pains upon Himself. God is our backup plan when we choose to obey Him. Why would He do this?

When we confess our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He promises to never leave nor forsake us. He will be with us until the end of the ages. God’s backup plan for us is sealed with the promise of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Amen!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Never Say Never (Ezekiel 11:19)

“Doctor, could it be an example of the rashes associated with that parasitic infection we were discussing the other day?”

I pondered the question my dermatology resident asked me. As I re-reviewed the microscope slide with my resident, I replied, “Well, I have learned to never say never, but it is unlikely. But let’s keep that possibility in mind.”

Throughout my career as a physician, I have continually been surprised how the diagnostic criteria have changed for many diseases. With some, the causes for the diseases have greatly expanded. With others, new clinical and histopathological variants have emerged. The statement I made to my resident reflects my cumulative experiences. I caution my residents that while this disease does not show the classic reported features of the disease, we should leave open the possibility that a new variant or diagnostic criteria may emerge. 

If it is true with medicine, it is even more true with our spiritual walk with God. If we decide that something will never happen, I am imposing my will over God’s sovereign will. There are no other options, no possibility for God to intervene. Thanks be to God that He does want to intervene in our lives! 

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 

Ezekiel 11:19 (NIV)

God is not an impersonal cosmic being who created the universe then sat back and allowed events to randomly unfold. God is a personal Being who takes the initiative and reveals Himself to His creation through His Son, Jesus Christ. When we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He will change our hearts and put a new spirit in them. Before Jesus, our hearts are divided by the competing interests of the world. After Jesus, He unites our heart to seek His will and obey Him. 

Never say never.

Thanks be to God for His love, grace, and mercy. He never changes!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Quarter Life Crisis (Philippians 4:6-7)

“I was experiencing a quarter-life crisis!”

Whoa! That caught my attention! The speaker was in his early thirties and was recounting a difficult period in his life after he was fired from his first job. I thought the speaker was coining a new phrase until I researched it and to my chagrin, discovered nearly 200 million entries on the internet. 

The more familiar term, midlife crisis, is usually defined as occurring between the ages of forty five to sixty years. A quarter life crisis occurs when a person is in their mid twenties to early thirties. Some surveys suggest that over 80% of millennials have experienced some form of this crisis. What triggers these crises? A midlife crisis may be triggered as a person becomes increasingly aware of their own mortality as evidenced by their own health issues, the passing of loved ones, and the perception that they have not accomplished as much in their lives as they originally set out to do. A quarter life crisis may be triggered by insecurity and doubt over one’s career choice, relationships, and financial stability. 

Regardless whether we call it a quarter or midlife crisis, the common link is anxiety. It is not limited to a quarter life or midlife, all stages of our life are susceptible to anxiety. It is how we respond to this anxiety that determines our action and whether it evolves into a crisis. Sometimes elaborate measures are taken: new wardrobe, new possessions, all to demonstrate relevance and reaffirm one’s self-worth. With others, withdrawal and depression may result. It does not have to be this way. Once again, God reassures us and provides the answer.

Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 4:6-7 (NET)

As the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote nearly a century ago, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” We don’t have to undertake elaborate measures or withdraw when we encounter anxiety. When we bring our issues, concerns, and problems to Him, our anxiety will not turn into a crisis. God created us. He knows our deepest pains and our limits. He promises to guard our hearts and minds 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

Long White Coat (Colossians 3:12)

“Hey! You got a long coat! Congrats!”

The senior medical residents high-fived the younger resident. In this teaching hospital, an old tradition still persisted. It was the last week of June. The new medical students and interns were beginning a new academic year. In addition to the looks of fear and apprehension on all of their faces, they all wore a short white coat. This immediately distinguished them from their senior residents, fellows, and attending physicians. When an intern advanced to become a first year resident, they were given a long white coat. In some training programs, an elaborate ceremony marks this transition. There are some medical schools that will bestow a long white coat to all of their graduating fourth year medical students, when they are sworn as physicians. The sentiment is the same. The long white coat symbolizes accomplishment and advancement.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 

Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

In God’s Kingdom, Christian believers should also distinguish themselves from others who have not accepted Jesus Christ. It is not with clothing made with fabric but an attire adorned with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We clothe ourselves with these gifts to symbolize our new life and nature in Jesus Christ. It acknowledges our accomplishment and advancement but not by our own efforts. Only God can clothe us if we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The medical world recognizes achievement by a pristine long white coat. God confirms and recognizes our commitment to Him by clothing us with his pure Spirit, sanctifying our souls stained by sin. 

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses