Double (1 John 4:1-2)

“So Jake is a double for the main character. Did you see him in the last episode?”

“I did! Almost didn’t recognize him! All I could see was the back of his head in the car.”

I was speaking to a friend of mine. Her boyfriend is a double for a well-known actor. Doubles are found in every television and movie production. Obviously, their physical characteristics are chosen to closely resemble the actors. However, with close inspection, subtle differences can be detected. Only rarely does a double speak and if they did, most of the viewing audience would know it was not the true actor. The Bible recognizes this.

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 

1 John 4:1-2 (NLT)

The Bible warns of many false prophets, who seek to imitate Jesus Christ. However, they are not called doubles. They are called Antichrist. 

But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here. 

1 John 4:3 (NLT)

God gives us a sobering warning. Like a double, false prophets may resemble Jesus Christ but we will be able to discern the truth by their teachings. Like a double, when they speak, their words will condemn them. During these dark days for the Church, there are many false prophets teaching with the spirit of the Antichrist. We must be discerning to recognize them by holding all of their teachings up to the light and purity of God’s Word.

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

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Do It Justice (2 Kings 2:9)

There are some songs that are immediately associated with one artist or musical group. Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody. The Rolling Stones and Satisfaction. Frank Sinatra and My Way. The list is extensive and many undoubtedly have their own favorites and examples. Thus, whenever an artist or group decides to cover a well-known song intimately associated with another, it may be a risky venture, and only with rare exceptions does the new version do justice to the original version. While I could list some examples, it would only serve to generate more controversy and, ironically, prove my point!

When the prophet Elisha was anointed to take over for the great prophet Elijah, I wonder if similar thoughts of inadequacy went through his mind when he made this request to his mentor.

When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.” And Elisha replied, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.” 

2 Kings 2:9 (NLT)

Everyone knew Elijah. He was a prophet of God who performed many miracles in His name. To be anointed as his successor was an intimidating role to accept. How could Elisha do justice to Elijah’s legacy? He asked for a double share of his spirit! Elisha wanted to be doubly blessed with the same power that God bestowed upon Elijah. What was the result? Elisha not only did justice to the great name of Elijah, but God also used him to perform even more miracles. Elisha’s achievements are spoken with as great reverence as Elijah’s!

Classic songs redone by newer artists will always generate debate and discussion about whether the new version did justice to the original. This is a fallible man re-interpreting what a fallible man has created. When God intervenes, it is our supreme Creator building upon His infallible perfect plan, using fallible man to fulfill His infallible purpose. 

God always does justice to Himself!

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

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Core Temperature (James 1:14-15)

Temperature checks became routine in many public places during the height of the COVID pandemic. Everyone became much more aware of the range of their own body temperature. Most are familiar that the normal body temperature is about 98.6 F with an acceptable range of 97-99 F. There are many variables that may impact this temperature, including the location on the body where it is measured, the level of activity at the time of measurement, and sickness, just to name a few. 

However, there is a temperature which is less susceptible to environmental changes. The core temperature is the temperature of our internal organs. It needs to remain stable since all of our physiological and biochemical reactions in our cells and organs are dependent upon a precise temperature for optimal function. Attempts to measure it include a rectal thermometer or an ear thermometer, measuring the temperature of the eardrum (tympanic membrane). While these measurements are more consistent and reliable than skin measurements, they are still not as accurate as the true core temperature. The gold standard has been a catheter probe placed in the heart or a small capsule containing a temperature sensor which is ingested. Obviously, these are invasive procedures and not feasible for quick or routine measurements. However, the core temperature yields some fascinating information about our physiology and metabolism.

Researchers have found an interesting link between our metabolism and core temperature. In hibernating animals, such as bears, the core temperature decreases and this helps to slow their metabolism and conserve body fat and mass. These differences have been observed in other animals such as larger dogs which have a lower core temperature compared to smaller dogs. What about humans? While the core temperature does not significantly differ in obese and non-obese humans, it is hypothesized that in some obese patients, a decrease in core temperature may have initiated the weight gain and the normal core temperature stabilizes this weight gain. This has led to research focused upon medical interventions that could utilize these slight changes in core body temperature to address the complex physiology of obesity.

A skin temperature difference of 0.1-0.2 F is within the range of accepted variation with no ill effects. However, a core temperature difference of 0.1-0.2 F may have significant health effects. It is the internal change, one that cannot readily be observed, that impacts our health the most. What is true for our core temperature is also true for our spiritual health.

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. 

James 1:14-15 (NLT)

Our actions may portray a pious facade but God sees our hearts and desires. This is the true measure of our spiritual faithfulness to God. Like our core temperature, a slight deviation in our thought life may trigger a sinful action with devastating consequences. God created us as finely tuned creatures, biologically and spiritually. We need to always rely upon Jesus Christ, our great Physician, to enable us to live the life He created us to have.

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

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“Give Me A Draft.” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)

“Doctor, one of my former professors is asking me for a draft letter so that he can simply edit a letter of recommendation for me. What are some things I should mention?”

One of my mentees was applying to graduate school and posed this question to me. I have written many letters of recommendation for former students, residents, and employees. I have reviewed hundreds more in my professional career. However, I have never been posed this question and it gave me pause to reply with a thoughtful and helpful answer. All recommendation letters should include a personal reflection of how the writer knows the applicant. This can include knowledge of their work in their class or in their company. The best letters share a personal story that illustrates a positive character trait that the writer is seeking to convey. It is comforting to know that God does the same.

The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NLT)

The Apostle Paul wrote these beautiful words praising the faithful believers in the church in the city of Corinth. Paul was answering a group of false teachers who claimed that their teachings, and not Paul’s, were correct. To support their claims, his critics brought with them letters of recommendation from some of the church authorities in Jerusalem, vouching for their credentials. Paul answered their boastful claims and stated he did not need any letters of recommendation; the lives of the believers at Corinth were testimony that were following the true teachings of Jesus Christ and not false teachings created by man. 

This is an excellent lesson for anyone writing and asking for a letter of recommendation. If the applicant’s character and lifestyle do not reflect the details in the letter, it is of no merit. The burden is upon both the writer to give an honest and insightful appraisal of what they know but the applicant must live it and continually display these qualities with their lives. As the old adage states, “You talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?”

Once again, God gives us the answers to life through faith and belief in Jesus Christ!


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

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Indeterminate (1 Peter 4:4)

“Are you immunocompromised?”

I was taken aback by the question posed to me by the hospital nurse practitioner. 

“No. I’m in very good health. Why?”

“Well, this is an unexpected result. We need you to return and have your blood drawn again to repeat the test.”

Most of us are familiar with the Tine or Mantoux test for TB, pricking the skin and returning within 72 hours to have the site examined by a medical professional. For years, I opted for a special blood test for my annual TB testing known as the QuantiFERON gold. My blood sample is delivered to the laboratory and the blood’s white blood cells are incubated with proteins from the tuberculosis bacteria. A special analyzer measures a chemical produced by the white cells known as interferon-gamma. A positive test shows an increase in the interferon-gamma and is indicative of a current or recent infection. The advantage of this test is the greatly reduced likelihood of a false negative or false positive, something that can happen with the typical skin tests. However, the test relies upon a competent immune system since white blood cells are needed to produce an immune response. If one is immunocompromised and lacking or having a reduced number of white blood cells, the result may be an indeterminate test. 

As I reflected upon the possible reasons I received an indeterminate test, the answer hit me. Three months earlier, I was on corticosteroids to treat an acute episode of lower back pain. Corticosteroids are an effective and beneficial treatment for many medical conditions because it suppresses the body’s usual immune response to inflammation. However, it also blunts the typical response of the QuantiFERON test and the result was my indeterminate result. 

I immediately called the nurse practitioner and after consultation with infectious disease experts, we agreed that I would return in three months and be retested. By then, the immunosuppressive effects of the corticosteroids would hopefully have dissipated. 

When we benefit from an action or treatment, it may be easy to overlook potential negative interactions. What about our spiritual lives? As a Christian believer, what can we expect when we follow Jesus Christ?

So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. 

1 Peter 4:1-3 (NLT)

Finished with sin! This is good news! How can faith and belief in Jesus Christ lead to bad results or negative interactions? The Apostle Peter answers this in the next verse. 

Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. 

1 Peter 4:4 (NLT)

God created us to have eternal fellowship with Him. To become a believer in Jesus Christ and declare Him Lord and Savior should be the goal of every living person. However, former friends who follow the ways of the world may disagree and even slander the new believer. It may be difficult to bask in the glory of a new relationship with God when many of our former relationships are strained or gone. Thanks be to God that He does not abandon us or our former friends during this transition. He continues to sanctify us, making us more like Jesus Christ. He continues to knock on the door of every unbelieving and searching heart, offering the same peace that surpasses all understanding. And He will never stop.

The benefits and problems of corticosteroids are temporary and indeterminate. A relationship with God is eternal and extraordinary.

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

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Was It All Bad? (James 5:19-20)

The mighty city was besieged by the invading army. Even when the citizens pleaded for peace in exchange for being their servants, the invaders ignored their request. Instead, they were bluntly told that all of their right eyes would be gouged out! Desperate, the city leaders sent out messengers requesting help. No one answered except one man. He brought an army of over 300,000 men and defeated the invaders, rescuing the city.

The man who answered the request for help was Israel’s first king, Saul. Chosen by God and anointed by the priest-prophet Samuel, Saul was a tall and handsome man. He looked like a king! His beginning was very promising and God blessed him with many military victories including the victory, referenced above, against the Ammonites, rescuing the city of Jabesh-gilead. (1 Samuel 11:1-14).

King Saul soon fell victim to his pride. Instead of seeking God first and giving Him the glory as he did with Jabesh-gilead, He took matters into his own hands. He rejected the counsel of Samuel. He fell victim to bouts of mental illness and attempted to kill his son-in-law, his successor and the future King David. Saul and his three sons died an ignoble death on the battlefield, by falling on his own sword. When the Philistines found his lifeless body, they cut off his head and displayed his body on a wall. It was a tragic end to a once promising reign. 

The Bible never sugarcoats its accounts of the leaders and kings of Israel and Judah. Even David, Saul’s successor and described as a man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer and orchestrated a murder. Yet, David repented of his sins and sought the forgiveness of God. Saul never repented. Yet, do we dismiss Saul because of his faults? The people of Jabesh-gilead did not. They always remembered what Saul did for them and courageously recovered the bones of him and his sons from the Philistines and buried them in their city, forever honoring and enshrining his achievements. 

But when the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their mighty warriors traveled through the night to Beth-shan and took the bodies of Saul and his sons down from the wall. They brought them to Jabesh, where they burned the bodies. Then they took their bones and buried them beneath the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven days. 

1 Samuel 31:11-13 (NLT)

Only God knows if Saul’s faith truly saved him and he is now in heaven with Him. However, we should recognize that even with the fallen saints of the Bible, some of their actions were noble and in line with God’s will. It wasn’t all bad. Saul is a sobering reminder that even if God has chosen someone for a special purpose, they may fail and fall from the faith. As Christian believers, we must always support our brothers and sisters during these difficult times. God commands it.

My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins. 

James 5:19-20 (NLT)


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

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“Just Like…” (John 7:46)

“Amazing talent! Sounds just like Amy Winehouse!”

“You’re right!”

I was reading an online exchange praising a talented young singer, Angelina Jordan. At 17 years of age, she had already come to international attention. Here is her debut on American television when she was merely 13 years old. 

America’s Got Talent The Champions 2020 Angelina Jordan Golden Buzzer Full Performance S2E01 – YouTube

Whenever a performer, artist, or public servant gains widespread recognition, there are inevitable comparisons to others who preceded them. These comparisons are not always positive. Some comparisons cite evil and malevolent predecessors. Barely a news cycle passes without some politician being compared to Adolph Hitler. 

What about Jesus Christ? Some scholars state that His teachings are no different than any leader or prophet of other major religions. While some comparisons are valid, Jesus Christ clearly separates Himself from everyone else who came before Him and since. He elevated the teachings of God to a deeper level, averring that it was not only our actions but our very thoughts that are being judged. In His life, He was tempted in all ways by the same beguiling that life offers to all of us, yet did not sin. He conquered death by His resurrection and offered the only true way to salvation to all who confess and repent of their sins and place their trust in Him.

Even His supporters and detractors agreed!

We have never heard anyone speak like this!…

John 7:46 (NLT)

Jesus Christ. Lord and Savior. Man and God.

He is like no one else!

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

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The Peace Dividend (Amos 6:3-7)

It seems almost surreal to realize that during a brief time in our nation’s history, presidential candidates were debating how to spend an anticipated budget surplus resulting from a dramatic change in the politics of the world. It was called the peace dividend. This term, largely attributed to former President George H.W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, described the economic benefit of the fall of the former Soviet Union and the end of the cold war hostilities. For the first time in decades, the world was largely at peace. It was the year 2000 and the candidates, George W. Bush and Al Gore, were engaged in the first of three presidential debates. No one wanted to discuss doom and gloom nuclear scenarios which had dominated politics for decades. Expenditures for the military were on the decline. Discussions focused upon issues like stabilizing the social security system and climate change. 

Less than one year later,  the world was embroiled in a new conflict, the war on terror. In the years leading up to September 11th, 2001, our military forces and readiness were weakened. Politicians of both parties ignored the warnings of our military experts that our fiscal policies were an invitation to our enemies to attack. But what enemies? There was no more Soviet Union. The cold war had ended. 9/11 changed the United States and the rest of the world, an impact that still reverberates to this day. There was no more peace dividend.  

You push away every thought of coming disaster, but your actions only bring the day of judgment closer. How terrible for you who sprawl on ivory beds and lounge on your couches, eating the meat of tender lambs from the flock and of choice calves fattened in the stall. You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David. You drink wine by the bowlful and perfume yourselves with fragrant lotions. You care nothing about the ruin of your nation. Therefore, you will be the first to be led away as captives. Suddenly, all your parties will end. 

Amos 6:3-7 (NLT)

The Prophet Amos had the thankless task of preaching doom and destruction to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. While other prophets had preached a similar foreboding prophecy, Amos’ task was made more difficult because both kingdoms were enjoying times of great prosperity. Who would listen to a prophet when the traditional enemies of the two kingdoms were on the decline? Who would listen to a prophecy of famine and destruction when wealth and prosperity abounded? It was a familiar theme that has been repeated throughout history. Like many prosperous nations, the Jews had grown complacent, overconfident in their wealth and rejecting God who had blessed them. The rich abused the poor and neglected the weightier issues of the law. God would judge both kingdoms for their sins of neglect and injustice. Within thirty years, judgment would come from relentless attacks by rejuvenated enemies. 

The circumstances of the world may lull us into a false sense of security. When we are at peace and prospering, we may fail to acknowledge it is all because of the goodness and graciousness of God. Instead, we exalt our cleverness and wisdom, averring that we are more than capable than God to solve the problems of the world. Pundits pointed to the peace dividend! Sadly, it was gone in less than ten years. Like Israel and Judah, all our lavish parties did end. It does not have to be this way. God has told us what we must do.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)


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

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Quality Of Time (Acts 16:28-30)

He had encountered thousands of men like these two, yet, this time, it was different. As he looked at the bleeding and bruised men, nursing their wounds from a beating they received by the local authorities, they did not cower in fear like others who preceded them. They did not beg for mercy. They were praying and singing hymns of praises to God! It went on for a few hours until an earthquake shook the prison, causing the walls to collapse. The jailer knew that if the prisoners escaped, he would be executed. He decided to take matters into his own hands and was about to kill himself. At that moment, one of the prisoners, named Paul, called out to him.

“…Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 

Acts 16:28-30 (NASB)

We meet many people in our lifetime. Some encounters blossom into lifetime relationships. Others such as those we meet in the workplace or school may continue for a few years. And still others, like the encounter between Paul and the Philippian jailer, may be as brief as a few hours. God brought the Apostle Paul and Silas to preach the Gospel to the jailer. He immediately repented of his sins and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. As many of us can attest, it is not the quantity of time but the quality of the interaction that determines the significance of the relationship.

In my fourth year of medical school, I did my family practice rotation on the island of Ponape in Micronesia. For two months, I had the privilege of working under a surgeon and medical missionary, Dr. John Dreisbach. I previously wrote about the experience in a blog. (Dr. John Dreisbach (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) – The Bereans Blog)

Two years later, I began my medical residency at the University of Colorado. I spent most of that year searching for a church home. It was not until February of that year that I met Pastor Craig Scott of Woodside Baptist Church. Although I left Denver for Los Angeles at the end of June of that year, those five months profoundly changed and shaped my outlook and approach to Christianity and my faith. Here is one of the many blogs I have written about this Pastor and his church, illustrating some of the  lessons I learned. (Four Times A Week (Luke 24:27) – The Bereans Blog)

The Philippian jailer and his family came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through this brief encounter with Paul and Silas. In just a few months, God used my encounters with these two great saints to profoundly shape my professional and spiritual course of my life, one that still influences me today. 

All encounters, however, brief, are arranged by God. Pray that God will use these to reveal His greater glory to serve Him in His Kingdom.

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

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