Benign and Metastasizing (Romans 6:23)

One of the paradoxes in medicine are benign tumors that metastasize. By definition, a benign tumor remains localized to the tissue from which it arises. A classic example is a leiomyoma of the uterus, popularly known as a fibroid. This common tumor grows within the wall of the uterus and may cause considerable pain and discomfort. It may also endanger a pregnancy by compressing the placenta and baby or may prevent implantation of the fertilized egg. It is a relatively simple procedure to remove a leiomyoma but if multiple and very large, the uterus may have to be removed. It is benign but because of the local signs and symptoms, may be problematic.

Women who have a history of uterine leiomyomas may develop an extremely rare condition that leads to a metastasis of one or more of these benign leiomyomas. It is known as a benign metastasizing leiomyoma, an oxymoron if there ever was one. What appears to be a harmless tumor has the potential to metastasize and even kill if it compresses a vital organ like the heart or spinal cord. Isn’t sin like this? We sometimes rationalize away our sins, thinking some as insignificant, essentially benign. The small lie. The random snide remark. It may cause discomfort but surely it will not lead to our death? 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (ESV)

While God does make distinctions between different sins, identifying different levels of punishment for a range of sins, all sin is a rebellion against God. Like a small benign tumor, even a small sin can lead to devastating consequences. It may spread beyond ourselves, wrecking havoc upon others. 

No sin is acceptable. Our only hope is to confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. He is the Great Physician and by the power of His resurrection, we will be released from the bondage of all sins.

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Wedding China (Hebrews 10:19-22)

Nestled in a cabinet in our home, undisturbed for nearly twenty years, are matching sets of fine china we received as wedding gifts. Used only twice, someday it will again be brought out, perhaps to celebrate a wedding anniversary or other milestone of life. Beautiful, precious, and reserved for special occasions-it is a continual reminder of our wedding. Like a wedding gown which is usually worn once and then carefully stored and preserved, wedding china occupies a similar exalted position.

The ancient Hebrews worshipped at a beautiful temple, originally built during the reign of King Solomon. There were many parts of the temple, all reserved for different worship activities. However, the Most Holy Place, also known as the second or inner part of the tabernacle, was only entered by the high priest once a year. Beautiful, precious, and reserved for special occasions-it was a reminder of the holiness of God for all the participants. 

But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 

Hebrews 9:7 (NLT)

What a contrast with Jesus Christ who freely gives to all who place their faith and trust in Him! Jesus Christ is beautiful and precious, but not reserved for only special occasions. He lived his life on this earth and experienced everything that we do. He was crucified and resurrected from the dead. He is our High Priest and if we confess and repent of our sins and accept Him as our Lord and Savior, He gives us immediate access to God, the Father.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. 

Hebrews 10:19-22 (NLT)

Jesus Christ is beautiful and precious, but not reserved for only special occasions. He is with us in every moment of our existence!

All praise to the Living God!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Training Your Killer (2 Samuel 14:25)

“It’s YOU?”

With his dying breath, he pointed his finger at the young assailant. His son was his killer! Many movies and novels have this plot twist at the end. A criminal mastermind or assassin raises their children, inculcating them with a lifetime of knowledge. Hopeful that their child will carry on their legacy, they succeed, but at the cost of their own life. They have trained their child too well!

The Bible records a similar sad tale with King David and his son, Absalom.

No man in all Israel was as handsome and highly praised as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the top of his head, he did not have a single flaw. 

2 Samuel 14:25 (CSB)

Although he was one of David’s favorite sons, Absalom was estranged from his father after he killed David’s first son and his half-brother, Amnon, who raped Absalom’s sister, Tamar, two years earlier. After the murder, Absalom fled Jerusalem and found refuge with the King of Geshur. Three more years passed before David reconciled with him and invited him to return to Jerusalem. However, even in Jerusalem, David did not rekindle the close relationship he once had with him. Resentful, Absalom planned a coup. Charming, handsome, intelligent, and eloquent-he had learned from the best. God blessed David with many skills. David’s own son also learned his lessons well with this tragic result.

…So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

2 Samuel 15:6 (CSB)

Absalom led a successful coup and captured the Kingdom of Israel, forcing David to flee. God protected David and, in spite of overwhelming odds, defeated Absalom’s army, resulting in Absalom’s death.

We train our children with the best of intentions, hoping they will learn the skills that have made us successful and avoid the mistakes we have made. Some families are fortunate to have their children take over the family business. Others, like David, have the misfortune to have their own children take their best skills to be used against them. What hope do we have for our children?

The answer can be found with David. Although he was blessed by God, he had many faults, even orchestrating the murder of one of his trusted military commanders after he committed adultery with his wife. So how could David be called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14)? Even when he was being hunted by his own son, David still loved Absalom and extended his grace and mercy to him. The bond between a parent and child is sacred. God’s heart is filled with grace and mercy for us. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are a child of God, a fellow heir with Jesus Christ. Even when we sin against our Heavenly Father, He always forgives us if we truly repent of our sins and turn from our ways. 

Some of us are fortunate to have received admirable life skills from our parents. Yet, it is still our responsibility to embrace these skills and use them for good rather than evil. 

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

It’s Complicated (Psalms 64:9-10)

Some popular social media sites allow the user to post information about their relationship status. While the standard answer is to declare oneself in a relationship, an equally popular choice is to post, “It’s complicated.” With this laconic statement, a myriad of implications are generated. The poster may be beginning a new relationship, breaking an existing one, or even having multiple relationships. It is an accurate depiction of all relationships; they can be complicated and messy. 

What is true for relationship status on social media websites is true for living the Christian life. If there was a social media option, I could post that I am in a relationship with Jesus Christ, but what does that mean? Is the relationship painless and carefree? No, but this must be qualified. A relationship with Jesus Christ is always satisfying and fulfilling. It is living the Christian life and interacting with others that is messy and complicated, leaving me vulnerable to hurt and pain. The only way to avoid this is to withdraw from the world and lead an isolated and sequestered life. Yet, Jesus also commands all of His followers to go out into the world and make disciples and spread the Gospel, loving our neighbor as yourself. Jesus Christ also warned all believers that following Him as one’s Lord and Savior will be difficult and may result in persecution, imprisonment, and even death. It is complicated. Why would I choose this instead of simply withdrawing?

Then everyone will be afraid; they will proclaim the mighty acts of God and realize all the amazing things he does. The godly will rejoice in the LORD and find shelter in him. And those who do what is right will praise him. 

Psalms 64:9-10 (NLT)

There have been many times that I wanted to live on my own island and avoid the pain of relationships. It took me a long time to understand that a relationship with Jesus Christ was only fully realized through relationships with others. God’s mighty acts are performed through complicated and messy relationships. By remaining faithful to Him during these trials, I will be a witness to everyone, proclaiming the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

It’s complicated unless we have a relationship that begins with Jesus Christ. 

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

I Can’t Study It! (Job 23:10)

When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in my sophomore year in college, I felt that there was a lot of catching up to my peers with my Bible knowledge. So many of my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord had grown up in the Church, attended Sunday school, and had numerous Bible verses memorized. When I met with them, I felt like an unprepared student, walking into a classroom without reading the homework assignment. I was determined to remedy the situation and I utilized the only tools with which I was familiar. After a lifetime of schooling and studying, old habits die hard. I avidly read the Bible, commentaries, and expository works by noted Christian authors. I soon had book knowledge but lacked practical experiences. God had much more work to do in my life. 

But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. 

Job 23:10 (NLT)

It is instructive that Job spoke these words. Job was a great man of faith but God had much more work to do in his life. Job’s life was comfortable. He was one of the wealthiest men in the ancient world, blessed with seven sons and three daughters. He regularly prayed and sacrificed to God and considered himself a faithful worshiper of God. In a short period of time, Job would be tested by God, losing all of his wealth and children. Through these trials, Job’s faith was tested and refined. 

Faith is not something that is studied; faith is only learned by living and living means being tested by the trials of life. I can’t study it! It is important to study the Bible and other resources, but I was using it as a substitute to learn to live by faith. God will continue to refine me through the trials of life, removing the dross and impurities, leaving pure gold!

Amen!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

“Where Did The Years Go?” (Genesis 29:20)

“Here, take a look! My daughter will be 21 years old this month and my son turned 18 this past year!”


“Oh my goodness! Where did the years go? I remember when they were babies!”

I was sharing photographs of my children with a former colleague whom I had not seen in several years. Where did the years go? It is a common observation but I have noticed that most of the time, it is stated with a hint of regret. As I gazed at the photos of my children, that same thought crept through my mind. It seemed like it was only yesterday that I was changing their diapers. Now, they are both adults. Many friends and family members always reminded me to cherish the years when my children were growing up because time quickly passes. How did this happen? Did I waste those years? God gives us some insight with the love story between Jacob and Rachel. 

So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel, and they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. 

Genesis 29:20 (CSB)

Jacob was in love with Rachel but he was tricked by her father to marry her older sister, Leah. Unfazed, Jacob worked another seven years for Rachel’s hand. Seven years, but it seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. 

Where did the years go? Time quickly passed for me because the years were blissful, filled with love for my children and family. If there was no love, the passage of time would not have seemed so brief. Someday, I will be in Heaven and time will have no meaning since I will be spending eternity with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Years, centuries, and eons will pass but it will seem like a brief moment. Why? Jesus Christ loves me with His perfect love and in His glorious presence, time will stand still!

Praise God!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

“What’s Your Secret?” (Proverbs 15:13)

“And are there any couples who have been married for more than fifty years?”

The audience anxiously looked around the crowded reception hall. One couple raised their hands. The emcee of the wedding reception quickly acknowledged them. 

“Ahh…Jake and Sally! Please stand! How many years?”

“Fifty three!” Jake replied. A scattered chorus of “Oohs” and “Aahs” filled the hall. 

“Jake, what’s your secret to a happy marriage?”

Without missing a beat, Jake replied, “Always agree with your husband!” Sally nodded and giggled as the reception erupted in laughter.

Good advice, I thought, as I nudged my wife. However, not too long ago, another couple also celebrating fifty years of marriage, was asked the same question and this time, the husband replied, “Always agree with your wife!” So who is correct?

While both statements may have been tongue in cheek, they illustrated an important point. Humor is an important element for a joyful successful marriage. The ability to laugh at oneself and together is an essential glue that is missing or scarce in many faltering relationships. God gives us these words of wisdom.

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 15:13 (NIV)

God created us to laugh and be cheerful. However, it is not at the expense of another or mocking another’s misfortune. What’s the secret?

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalms 37:4 (NIV)

Amen!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Identity Threat (Acts 10:34-35)

Identity threat.

Claude M. Steele has written a powerful book entitled, “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do”. Steele, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, defines identity threat as “socially premised psychological threat that arises when one is in a situation or doing something for which a negative stereotype about one’s group applies.”

It permeates all societies and cultures and his research has been duplicated and validated by many others. When women math majors were reminded of their gender identity, they performed 4-5 points worse than male math majors when taking the same math tests. However, when reminded they were from Stanford, they performed the same as men. Blacks similarly did worse than whites when they were told a sports test judged intelligence. However, they performed about the same as whites when told that the test was just another task. They did better than whites when told the test judged “natural athletic ability”. The implications are broad and disturbing. It has led to a critical re-evaluation of processes as diverse as college and professional school applications, and job interviews.

Chrisitians have been subject to identity threat since Jesus Christ was born. Presently, some Christians are labeled as racist, misogynistic, narrow minded, and bigoted-and these are the polite descriptions. These threats have changed over time. In the first years of the Christian Church, the original disciples of Jesus faced a raging dilemma. Some believed that one must still follow the Jewish traditions in order to become a Christian. Others believed that Jesus Christ had initiated a new covenant and former Jewish traditions, particularly dietary restrictions, did not need to be followed. Bigoted. Heretical. These accusations were hurled at each other. Yet both groups believed they were honoring God’s Word and were faithful Christiains. Enter the Apostle Peter. In a trance, God spoke directly to Him and instructed him to kill and eat animals that were impure and forbidden by Jewish law. Peter, a devout Jew his entire life, recoiled at the suggestion but God declared to him that all food was now pure. At the same time, Peter was directed to the home of Cornelius, a Roman centurion and gentile who worshipped and feared God. Cornelius had also been given a vision by God to send for Peter so that He could hear the good news of Jesus Christ. When Peter met Cornelius and heard his story, he was humbled. 

Peter began to speak: “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

Acts 10:34-35 (CSB)

Peter’s dramatic declaration was confirmation of the sign that God gave Him. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was for everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike. Peter and the rest of the Apostles carried the Good News to the rest of the known world, unhindered and unencumbered by any cultural or racial divisions. So why doesn’t the entire world have a positive image of Christians? Why does an identity threat exist? Have some abused this calling? 

The identity threat that Christians are faced with may originate from Christians. Sadly, the history of the world is stained with the actions and teachings of false teachers and leaders who have used the noble and sacred banner of Christianity to promote their discordant worldly views, ones that are diametrically opposed to the message of Jesus Christ. Slavery and wars are just a few of the egregious actions that have been instigated by Christians acting in the name of their faith. What can be done?

Christians must return to core values that Jesus Christ taught and eschew the worldly values that others have used to supplant the true message of God. It is not easy but we must educate ourselves to be aware of falling into the trap of identity threats with cultures and religions that differ from our own. Instead of attempting to change others to adopt our culture, we must start by embracing the teachings of the Bible and allowing Jesus Christ to transform and conform us to His image. Only when we take on the identity of Jesus Christ will we be able to silence the threats that have been associated with Christians for so long. 

As Peter stated, “We must obey God rather than people.” 

Acts 5:29 (CSB)

Amen.

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Choices (1 Samuel 9:1-2)

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

Dumbledore from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel 9:1-2 (NLT)

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

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

1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NLT)

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

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses

Stairway To Heaven (Psalms 62:1-2)

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

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

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

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

Psalms 62:1-2 (CSB)

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

Amen!

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

Complete Blogs on WordPress

Complete Blogs Indexed by Bible Verses