Getting Rich Slowly (Proverbs 19:2)

Several years ago, Brian Chesky, the current CEO of Airbnb, shared a story about advice that Jeff Bezos, then CEO of Amazon, was given by one of the greatest investors of all time, Warren Buffet. Bezos, in one of his first meetings with Buffett, asked him: “Your investing thesis is so simple. Why doesn’t everyone just copy you?”

“Because no one wants to get rich slowly,” Buffett replied.
Source: YouTube

For those who are unfamiliar with the investing style of Warren Buffet, he is a classic value investor. He is not distracted by current stock prices or making a quick profit. He invests in companies that have the potential to grow in value over decades. His success has made him one of the richest men in the world. His advice is sought after by numerous CEOs such as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.

Buffet’s advice is a variation of the proverb, “Slow and steady wins the race.” and “Haste makes waste.” This advice is also echoed by theologian, Dallas Willard, who states, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

It is dangerous to have zeal without knowledge, and the one who acts hastily makes poor choices.
Proverbs 19:2 (NET)

In today’s world, we have nearly instantaneous retrieval of information. However, this does not necessarily mean we need to immediately act upon this knowledge. If we seek to eliminate hurry from our lives, we must replace it with faith and trust in God. God should direct the pace of our actions. He is patient. After all, He is willing to offer salvation and eternal life to all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He does not force His will upon us but will hold out his offer until the moment we die. If we make that decision, the unimaginable riches of God’s Kingdom are ours.

Unlike Warren Buffet’s sage advice, we don’t have to get rich slowly when we follow God’s advice. Of course, God had it right from the beginning! 

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

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Godly Real Estate (Joshua 19:40-47)

It is a lovely vista with spectacular modern high rises overlooking a pristine beach. This is Tel Aviv, in Israel. Modern. Wealthy. Cosmopolitan. What if someone offered you a chance to own the entire area for free? Who wouldn’t want to live in an idyllic playground like this? 

Source: Wikipedia

Thousands of years ago, God made such an offer to the tribe of Dan, one of the twelve tribes of the kingdom of Israel. 

The seventh allotment of land went to the clans of the tribe of Dan. The land allocated as their homeland included the following towns: Zorah, Eshtaol, Ir-shemesh, Shaalabbin, Aijalon, Ithlah, Elon, Timnah, Ekron, Eltekeh, Gibbethon, Baalath, Jehud, Bene-berak, Gath-rimmon, Me-jarkon, Rakkon, and the territory across from Joppa. But the tribe of Dan had trouble taking possession of their land, so they attacked the town of Laish. They captured it, slaughtered its people, and settled there. They renamed the town Dan after their ancestor. 

Joshua 19:40-47 (NLT)

Source: Wikipedia

The map above shows the location of the twelve tribes of Israel. The tribe of Dan was tasked by God to take control of the land. However, they wavered in their faith and did not trust God to lead them to victory. They rejected God’s commands and instead attacked and conquered the town of Laish. It was located in the Northern Jordan river valley and renamed it Dan and eventually settled there, far away from the territory promised to them by God. Had Dan obeyed God’s commands, they would have lived in the location of modern day Tel-Aviv. God gave them one of the most pristine real estate properties in the world, and they rejected it!

When God blesses us with His promises, we should never hesitate to accept the task. Whatever obstacles we may face, we should trust God to fulfill His commands through us. Whether the blessing is a real estate location in one of the most valuable beachfront cities in the world, a new relationship, or a job, God is always faithful to us!

Amen.

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

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Short Lives (1 John 4:9-12)

My father loved dogs. His last dog, whom he named Luvy, was very special to him. When she passed, he cremated her and instructed us to combine her ashes with his when he passed away. Many years later, we obeyed his last wish and scattered their combined ashes into the ocean. Luvy lived fourteen years, a relatively long time for a dog. I recall having conversations with my father about why dogs live such short lives. While there are biological reasons, no answer was ever satisfying to me.

Recently, I read a social media posting that gave the best answer I have ever read or heard. It was posted by a veterinarian, allegedly of a conversation between himself and a six-year old boy. The parents of the boy brought their 10 year old dog in to see the veterinarian. He broke the sad news that their dog was dying from cancer. Heartbroken, the parents agreed to have their dog euthanized but requested their six-year old son be allowed to participate so that he could learn from this experience. When the day arrived, the entire family solemnly witnessed the passing of their dog. Their son calmly accepted the event, much to the surprise of their parents. After the passing, the veterinarian and the parents wondered aloud why dog lives are so much shorter than humans. Their son spoke up, “I know why. People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The six-year old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay for as long as we do.”
Source: Facebook

Regardless of whether this story is true, the sentiment is real. Dogs love their owners with unconditional love. Every dog owner knows this. We should certainly learn from dogs. God gives us glimpses of His magnificence through His creation and animals are a vital connection. We are capable of love but it is an imperfect love, hindered or distorted by our sinful nature. What is real love?

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 

1 John 4:9-12 (NLT)

Although we have longer life spans than dogs, all of us live relatively short lives when compared to the expanse of eternity. God loves us unconditionally and offers us salvation and eternal life through faith and belief in His Son, Jesus Christ. In Him, we have the complete expression of love that all of us were created for and yearn to experience.

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

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End Of A Career (Deuteronomy 34:5-7)

His melodious voice filled the venerable concert hall. I was viewing a concert by one of the greatest singers of the twentieth century. Although the performance was lovely, it was a bittersweet moment for me. I have listened to numerous recordings of this great artist. This concert was recorded near the end of his career. He sang with great emotional energy but his voice could no longer carry the familiar tunes that endeared him to so many. 

If one were to judge his singing abilities on this performance alone, it would be mediocre at best. However, this would be unfair. He may have been a shadow of his former self but the audience and his millions of fans were there because of a lifetime of artistry and excellence that earned him his stellar reputation. His will and passion were unabated.

It is not only singers. Great leaders sometimes experience a decline in their power toward the end of their reigns. The Bible records the declining power of several great saints like King David who was continually shivering with cold in his old age. Isaac was nearly blind and feeble. While their physical strength was diminished, their spiritual power and energy were unabated. This physical decline is not inevitable. It is encouraging that at the end of his life, Moses was still vigorous.

So Moses, the servant of the LORD, died there in the land of Moab, just as the LORD had said. The LORD buried him in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab, but to this day no one knows the exact place. Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever. 

Deuteronomy 34:5-7 (NLT)

Moses was a great leader. He led the nascent nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and took them to border of Canaan and the land promised to them by God. At an age that most of us will probably never attain, Moses was still going strong!

As we age, many of us may lose the strength and power of our youth. If this happens, pray that God will preserve your will and passion to serve Him. Delight yourself in God’s Word and He will prosper you.

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. 

Psalms 1:3 (NLT)

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

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Too Many Voices (2 Corinthians 11:24-29)

“This will be very exciting and I am happy to be associated with this!”

Many years ago, I was asked to participate in a new skin cancer center associated with a local hospital. The medical director, Dr. Smith, was a dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon and he wanted me, a dermatopathologist, to perform all of the diagnostic work. Because the cancer center would be part of the local hospital, it was agreed that I would join the medical staff and be credentialed as a member of the pathology department. I was acquainted with the president of the pathology group, Dr. Jake Rogers, through his stellar reputation in the community, and I was pleased to have an opportunity to work directly with him. 

For several weeks, I interacted with over a dozen different individuals involved with varying stages of the cancer center. Dr. Rogers was proactive in drafting a contract between his pathology group and myself before the others presented their contracts to me. As I reviewed the final draft, I was concerned about a detail which I had previously spoken to Dr. Smith. If I was ill or on vacation, I wanted to have my two dermatopathology colleagues, who work for me, also become credentialed, assuring there would always be coverage for the cancer center. I brought this up with Dr. Rogers on a phone call, asking if we could add this provision to our contract. His tone, usually cheerful, turned decidedly cold. “I understand you need coverage and this is something we need to work on.” He paused and then continued. “You know, I would appreciate it if you came to me first to discuss contractual issues. I am spearheading these talks and I don’t appreciate being pushed aside by you or anyone else. Dr. Smith is not overseeing your contract, I am.”

He was absolutely correct; I was chagrined. “I am very sorry, Jake. I meant no disrespect nor was I trying to sidestep you or go over your head. It is my naivete regarding this entire process.”

There were too many moving parts, too many voices, associated with this negotiation. There were hospital administrators,  medical staff, human resources, Jake’s pathology group, the laboratory manager, and Dr. Smith and his cancer center. I had separate verbal and email discussions with some but not everyone at the same time. Although ostensibly all of the discussions were to support the new cancer center, each party had their own agenda which were not all congruent.

Many voices pull us in different directions. Whether we are students, working in a job, or retired, life is often complicated by numerous competing interests. The Apostle Paul understood this. 

Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? 

2 Corinthians 11:24-29 (NLT)

In this passage, Paul defended his ministry and answered his critics at the church within the city of Corinth. If he seemed distracted or preoccupied, he was! He endured numerous physical trials and harsh persecution while shepherding the nascent church at Corinth. Yet, he never lost his focus. In fact, he welcomed any perceived weakness that he experienced because it was an opportunity to show others the power of Jesus Christ in his own life. 

If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 

2 Corinthians 11:30-31 (NLT)

So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

Unlike the Apostle Paul, who remained focused on the only voice that mattered, His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I lost control of my situation. I learned a painful lesson through those negotiations, distracted by the many voices clamoring for my attention, potentially jeopardizing the negotiation. How desperately I need the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ in my life to help me to remain focused on what is most important in every situation I encounter.

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

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Hump Day (Ephesians 5:15-17)

“Happy Hump Day!”

My co-workers flashed a thumbs up as they greeted me. It was Wednesday morning, the middle of the week. But everyone says hump day, we can be different. On that Wednesday morning, instead of the usual greeting, I told them, “Happy Dromedary Day! Double D!“

What?

A dromedary is a one-humped camel, distinguished from a Bactrian, which is a two-humped camel. Here is a photo of a dromedary to illustrate the obvious point. 


Source: Wikipedia

One popular quote accurately captured the feeling. “Hump Day. Not as depressing as Monday, not as exciting as Friday.” Regardless of whether we work in a job, are a student, or even retired, there will be days that may seem mundane, even grinding. While we may try to add a humorous twist and whimsical labels, this is just a band-aid. What is a godly response when we feel this way?

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 

Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)

The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon, gave this practical advice. “Serve God by doing common actions in a heavenly spirit, and then, if your daily calling only leaves you cracks and crevices of time, fill them up with holy service.” Our attitude determines our actions. When we seek to understand the will of God in our lives, seemingly routine and mundane activities will take on a new life. It is no longer a grind, attempting to get over a metaphorical hump, it is an opportunity to become closer to God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

Amen!

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

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“He Sings Gospel Songs!” (1 Corinthians 4:4-5)

I was listening to the familiar strains of “Amazing Grace” with a friend. It was a beautiful interpretation and rendered even more special since it was performed by a well-known pop singer. After the last note, we both nodded in agreement over the superb interpretation. My friend smiled and declared, “He sings gospel songs! I know he is very religious and a Christian.”

I respected my friend’s observation. Yes, this artist did record an album of gospel songs but very little of the rest of his life suggested that His relationship with God was important. My friend’s observation was not unique. Others have reached the same conclusion when they hear other entertainers perform a gospel song or a song praising God. It is admirable and refreshing to hear popular singers singing Christian songs, however, singing a Christian song does not make one a Christian, any more than attending church makes one a Christian. 

What about the converse? If a committed Christian believer sings a popular secular music song, does that imply they are not a Christian? While only God knows the true faith and commitment of each believer, singing a secular song does not automatically make a Christian a non-believer, any more than attending a basketball game makes one a basketball fan. Yet, there is an important caveat.

Many years ago, I attended a church that advocated a restrictive view regarding the type of music to which its members should listen. Some members, including myself, found the guidelines to be harsh and Puritanical. However, it did cause me to carefully reflect upon my own choices and after much prayer, I realized that I had been careless with the music to which I was listening. Many of the songs contained lyrics that were undeniably ungodly. It did not matter if other Christians sang these songs. God was speaking to me and He was the only one to whom I was accountable. I needed to change.

My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due. 

1 Corinthians 4:4-5 (NLT)

In this passage, the Apostle Paul was answering his critics who were questioning his credentials and qualifications as a minister of Jesus Christ. Rather than directly arguing with them, he pointed to Jesus Christ, the only true Judge qualified to examine his heart and true motives. Like Paul, I needed to come before my Lord, Jesus Christ, and admit that I was being ignorant and insensitive with my choice of music.

If I am willing to obey, God will bring to light all of my secret sins and reveal my true motives. His Word is the sword of Truth that cuts through my soul and spirit. 


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

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Telephone (Matthew 16:5-12)

“Sally! How are you?”

“I’m good! Listen, sorry to call you on a weekend but I need to speak to you about something. You know our dermatology community is very small and tight and I have been hearing things that were quite alarming and I needed to talk to you about it.”

Sally was a dermatology colleague who occasionally used me as her dermatopathologist consultant. Most of our phone interactions dealt with mutual patients and diagnoses that I have made. I was not expecting this. “What’s going on?”

“I am hearing from some colleagues that you want to hire away my dermatopathologist. You know, I have spent a great deal of time building my practice and we have a really good group now. If you did that, it would really hurt us.”

“Wait, what?” I was flabbergasted. “Sally, that is the exact opposite of what is happening.” I explained to her that I reached out to her dermatopathologist colleague who had recently completed her dermatopathology fellowship and had been hired by Sally’s dermatology group. I reasoned that she may know of other younger dermatopathologists who may be interested in joining my practice. In addition, this dermatopathologist’s husband and father were both surgical pathologists and through their expanded network, may also know of someone who may join my practice. At no time did I attempt to solicit her dermatopathologist to join my practice. Somehow, my intentions and message were misconstrued. I was hopeful my explanation would mollify her anxiety.

“I see. Well, next time you do something like this, I wish you would contact me first and ask my permission. I really don’t appreciate what you did.”

“But Sally! There was no reason to contact you because I wasn’t attempting to hire away your dermatopathologist. As I told you, I was seeking her help in connecting me to her network. I can even forward my text messages to her documenting the entire exchange. I would never do that to you and undermine your practice! I don’t know the source of who told you this but you really need to go back and question that person because nothing could be further from the truth.”

After I got off the phone, I was left with an uneasy feeling. Even though I thought I thoroughly and honestly explained what happened, this dermatologist colleague was convinced that my motives were less than honorable. Through various unknown communications, my message was twisted and distorted into something malevolent. I have been down this road before. Even when I produced a paper trail documenting all my discussions with another party, somehow my message was misinterpreted with a similar outcome that I just experienced with my dermatologist colleague. It was the childhood game of telephone, except the stakes were much higher. 

Nearly every conflict is due to lack or miscommunication. The Bible records such an example. 

Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’” Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 

Matthew 16:5-12 (NLT)

There are no higher stakes than our eternal destiny and relationship with God, our Creator. The words of Jesus Christ and the Bible have been misinterpreted, twisted, and distorted. At times, it was an innocent misunderstanding, like this example with the disciples. However, at other times, Jesus’ words were taken out of context and used against Him, even as evidence in the sham trial that led to His Crucifixion. 

In life, our messages may be misinterpreted or twisted and the result may be a lost business relationship. With God, if we misinterpret or ignore His message, our salvation is at stake. When God speaks, it is always to draw us into a closer relationship with Him. Watch out! Don’t fall into the trap of superimposing your interpretations over the absolute Truth of God’s Word.

Amen.

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

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Confidence In Large Numbers (James 2:19)

In medicine, when a clinical study is examining a new treatment for patients, there needs to be a sufficient number of patients to be included in the study, otherwise, there may not be statistical power to claim efficacy for the treatment. Statisticians use complicated formulas to determine the proper threshold of patients to achieve statistical significance. In short, the more patients one can enroll in study, the greater the likelihood the results will be statistically significant and relevant, and not a random chance occurrence. There is greater confidence in larger numbers and participants.

A similar principle may exist with some of our daily activities and choices. We may feel comforted and reassured when we know many others are also participating or doing the same actions as we are, such as aligning with certain political parties or following certain sports teams. What about our spiritual lives? One may feel reassured to attend a large and popular church, especially if one’s friends and family attend. One may feel reassured if one was raised in a Christian family. One may even feel more reassured if one has read the Bible and taken advanced religion classes with others. However, even if we join other Christians who participate in these activities, is it relevant? Do these larger numbers equate with salvation?

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

James 2:19 (NLT)

No one knows how many demons exist, but undoubtedly thousands upon thousands. Demons are fallen angels who were banished from Heaven when Satan fell. Demons obey Satan and also know that God exists but they do not believe that God is their Lord and Savior. If there was a true safety in mere numbers, then knowing about God and associating with others who know Him would be sufficient for salvation. Yet even the demons know who God is and they are not saved. 

Larger numbers may be important for medical clinical trials and social activities but with Jesus Christ, the only number that matters is one-YOU. Have you confessed and repented of your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

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

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Organizer (Job 12:7-10)

Books. Stickers for use. Rulers. Science stuff.

I was looking at a large desk organizer, perched on my desk at home. There were twenty four slots and each was identified with a sticker label, describing the contents of each slot. The categories and labels were created by my daughter over fifteen years ago. This was once her organizer and once I acquired it, I placed my papers in each slot. However, I never changed the stickers even though it had no association with the papers I now placed in it.

I reflected upon the categories she made. I recalled a time in my life, about the same age she was when she created this, when I labeled a similar organizer. My categories were not dissimilar from hers! Decades later, I have created a similar filing system in my office. Although my categories have changed, the desire for organization is the same. The complexity of the categories and organization are a direct reflection of our lives at different stages of development. 

It is instructive that the Bible gives numerous examples of efficient principles of organization. God created the universe in an orderly progression, one that is still being verified by modern scientists. The complexity of the creation speaks to the even greater complexity of the Creator. Antony of Padua, a priest from the 13th century, wrote, “If created things are so utterly lovely, how gloriously beautiful must be He who made them!”

But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; And let the fish of the sea declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind? 

Job 12:7-10 (NASB)

The heavens declare the glory of God. He knows every hair on your head and on everyone who has ever lived or will live. He is the creator of organization and it is not surprising that He is the God of order and not confusion. When we stop and ponder how God’s hand was involved with every living thing, how can we not be in awe of God and bow down before Him and worship Him?

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

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