Looking For Errors (2 Peter 1:20-21)

The limousine sped along the dirt road. The next scene followed the car from a different angle, but there was something different. I paused the movie and replayed the scene. Yes! The roof of the car was missing the satellite antenna, present in the first but not the second scene. It was a movie from 1973 and car phones were a rarity, reserved for the rich and powerful and required an antenna conspicuously placed on the roof or trunk of a car. Because of this, the error was obvious, at least to my eyes. 

It was the first time I noticed an error in a movie. I am sure if I looked for these errors, they would be easy to find as dozens of social media sites can attest. Many popular movies and television series have entire websites and social media pages dedicated to pointing out the errors and inconsistencies. Some are minor like the missing car antenna. Others are serious, like an actor wearing a wrist watch when the setting is ancient Rome. 

Not surprisingly, there are many websites also dedicated to exposing the supposed errors in the Bible. These sites are an attempt to prove the Bible is fallible and therefore, God is also fallible. Before I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I pored over much of the Bible looking for errors and read books that would challenge the inerrancy of the Bible. My premise was how could a book written by fallible humans contain the infallible and inerrant Word of God? How indeed?

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:20-21 (NIV)

As is so often the case, I was asking the wrong question. The Bible was physically written by fallible humans but they were directed by God, the Holy Spirit. In other words, God Himself, wrote the Bible. Many so-called errors can easily be resolved when reading the original Hebrew or Greek texts of the Bible. Others can be resolved by the still emerging archaeological records. But the vast majority of so-called errors can be disproven if one simply reads a Bible passage within the context of the entire Bible. For example, in the Gospel of Luke, it is recorded that two men (angels) were in the empty tomb of Jesus.

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

Luke 24:4 (NIV)

In the Gospel of Matthew, only one angel was mentioned.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

Matthew 28:2-3 (NIV)

Critics are quick to point out the discrepancy and error, but is it? Luke recorded two angels present. Matthew only mentioned one but this does not exclude the possibility that there were two angels present. As in any eyewitness account, there are different viewpoints. Reading both accounts shows the harmony and consistency of the Bible.

Looking for errors. 

Everything that we create will inevitably have errors. Everything that God creates is perfect, inerrant and infallible. The more one investigates, the more the absolute Truth of the Bible is confirmed. 

Amen!

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

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We Had A Cat! (Psalms 123:2)

It was a Saturday afternoon and I came home after spending the day playing at my friend’s house. I was nine years old and when my mother heard me enter the house, she called out to me. “I have a surprise for you!” Intrigued, I went around to the backyard where my mother was hanging clothes on the clothesline. Nestled at her feet was a cat. She had short hair with calico-like coloring and an irresistible need to snuggle in your lap. I was ecstatic. “Can we keep her, Mom?” I anxiously asked as I stroked her back. 

My mother nodded but said we needed to make inquiries around the neighborhood to see if anyone lost a cat. We did but there were no responses. She had no collar or license and it was an era before microchipping. We decided to keep her as our own. We had a cat! I will never know why this cat chose my mother, instead of all other humans, to be her new owner. Perhaps, like myself, she sensed the caring spirit that my mother exuded. If a stray cat was intelligent enough to seek out care and comfort from a being greater than itself, shouldn’t humans also have as much common sense? One would hope but sadly, the opposite is often true.

Humans, like other animals, have an innate need to seek care and comfort. Yet humans so often turn to material comforts and even themselves before realizing that these are only cosmetic and ephemeral solutions to a deeper spiritual problem. This is what I did as I sought care and comfort in my career and many broken relationships. It was only when I realized that I was seeking someone beyond what I or other humans could provide, did my futile quest for fulfillment with these other relationships end, and I turned to God. 

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He has mercy on us.

Psalms 123:2 (NKJV)

This beautiful verse from the Book of Psalms captures the tender love and compassion that God has for His creation. My cat instinctively knew to whom to turn when she needed mercy, love, and protection. God created all of us with the same need; we are unfulfilled until we turn to Him. I pray that unlike myself, others will not have to suffer many wounds, pain, and abandonment before looking to God to receive His mercy.

Amen!

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

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Supporting Your Arm (2 Chronicles 6:12)

I learned an interesting sign of respect from my Korean friends. When Koreans shake the hand of a superior or elder, they support their own arm by placing the opposite hand under their elbow or forearm. It signifies deference and respect to the person you are greeting, acknowledging their weighty presence and personality. Here is an illustration. 

Source Aminoapps.com

What a lovely and practical way to show respect to another! As I reflected upon this, I wondered if there is a proper way to physically show respect to God?

There are many examples of the great saints of the Bible praying before God. Lying prostrate on the ground or on one’s knees are two common examples. Yet one that has always stood out to me was King Solomon when he dedicated the temple to God. It was a seven year undertaking and when it was completed, it was a temple like none other in the ancient world. He prayed to God by stretching out his hands and audibly praying before God. 

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the entire congregation of Israel and spread out his hands.

2 Chronicles 6:12 (CSB)

Would God have been honored if Solomon fell on his knees and prayed to Him? The Bible does not tell us but I am quite certain Solomon’s prayers would have been received and honored by God. Why? God knew Solomon’s heart and his true intentions. The most important physical sign of respect to God is not with the position of our limbs or body, but with the position of our heart. 

…Humans do not see what the LORD sees, for humans see what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 (CSB)

For some, it is physically impossible or not practical to kneel or raise one’s arms in prayer. It is reassuring to know that from whatever position we chose to honor God with our prayers, He honors our prayers when it comes from our hearts with the purest of intentions.

Praise the Living God!

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

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Who Gets The Credit? (Judges 8:1-3)

When I was a resident, I was fortunate to work with many fine mentors in surgical pathology. One of them was a paternal figure to all the residents in training. His open door policy encouraged us to frequently stop by and review problematic cases with him, even if he was not the attending physician on the case. One day, I had a troubling case with an unusual pattern that I could not match with any of my textbooks. Perplexed, I brought the case to him and pointed out the areas on the slide that were concerning to me. After a few thoughtful moments he declared, “This is a rare find. You found the key features.” He paused and smiled at me. “You made the diagnosis!”

I was flattered but embarrassed. I didn’t make the diagnosis, he did. Yet, when we presented the case at our weekly surgical pathology conference, he was quick to give me the credit. He did this with all of the residents. He had no ego; all he desired for us was to always keep the wonder of discovery and joy of learning in our hearts. It was a positive reaffirming experience. Many years later, I still attempt to emulate this and pass it along to my residents.  

Then the people of Ephraim asked Gideon, “Why have you treated us this way? Why didn’t you send for us when you first went out to fight the Midianites?” And they argued heatedly with Gideon. But Gideon replied, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t even the leftover grapes of Ephraim’s harvest better than the entire crop of my little clan of Abiezer? God gave you victory over Oreb and Zeeb, the commanders of the Midianite army. What have I accomplished compared to that?” When the men of Ephraim heard Gideon’s answer, their anger subsided.

Judges 8:1-3 (NLT)

Gideon was one the judges of ancient Israel, chosen by God to lead the Israelites in a victory over the Midianites who were oppressing them. Inexplicably, the people of Ephraim, one of the tribes of Israel, did not equally share in the revelry and complained to Gideon that he excluded them. How did Gideon respond? He swallowed his pride and pointed to an earlier accomplishment of the Ephraimites, claiming their victory was far greater than his. Hearing this mollified the Ephraimites and stabilized Gideon’s leadership. 

President Ronald Reagan stated, “There is no limit to what a man can accomplish if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” This is exactly what Gideon did.  Just as my professor in residency did for me, Gideon gave others the credit. This is an inspiring life lesson. God calls upon all of us to approach Him and life with a humble heart. If we do, at the appropriate time, He will honor us for our faithfulness and trust. 

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. 

James 4:10 (NLT)

Amen!

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

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Living Close (Hebrews 10:24-25)

I have an acquaintance who deliberately purchased their home in close proximity to their temple for their religion for which his family follows. While it was for geographic convenience, since their family participated in many activities that occurred at this temple, he also believed that their family would be protected by literally living within the shadow of the temple. They were not alone. The property values of the homes around the temple had outpaced similar homes in the same area. 

Does living close to a house of worship impart spiritual blessings upon a person and their loved ones? Our current church is located just five minutes from our home. In the past, I have attended churches that were as far as an hour away by car. The deciding factor for me was never the geographical proximity but the spiritual proximity of its members. 

And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (CSB)

The COVID pandemic has radically changed the way many Christians, including my family, currently worship. For over 18 months, we have been attending our church worship through online services. Of the several churches we have attended, we connected with several members in one church. This led to more connections and interactions. While we do not meet in person, we have been encouraged by their text messages and emails. But it is not only this church, many brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, from other churches we have attended in the past, have reconnected with us during these difficult times. They encourage us in our faith in spite of the physical distancing and challenges. 

The Church, the Body of Jesus Christ, will never be limited by geographic boundaries. Living close is always possible when we are united as brothers and sisters through faith and belief in Jesus Christ. 

Amen!

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

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“Quick! Grab The Candle!” (1 Chronicles 29:12)

“Happy birthday to youuuuuuuuu!”

I made a wish and blew out the candle.

“Quick! Grab the candle!” Before I could soak in the moment, my wife grabbed the candle and wiped off the frosting. It was ready for the next birthday celebration!

Yes, we recycle our birthday candles. Is this excessively cheap? Perhaps. I have an acquaintance who washes his used paper towels and hangs them up to dry so that he can reuse them. Is that excessive? Who decides when an action is frugal and thoughtful or simply ludicrous and excessively cheap? Clearly if the action endangers one’s health or the health of others, that should be a warning. Reusing paper towels is borderline acceptable. But there are many other examples that are worthy of our attention and effort. Conserving water, recycling garbage, and composting our organic waste are simple but efficient means of wisely using our resources. Yet there are many who make it their life’s mission to point out that we can all do more, and if we don’t, we should be publicly shamed on social media.

I am gratified that God does honor frugality and the wise use of our resources. He asks us to examine the motives for our actions. 

Riches and honor come from you, and you are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all.

1 Chronicles 29:12 (CSB)

Everything belongs to God. Thus, the true motive for our actions should be clear. Everything we do should be to honor God and the wise use of our limited resources is no exception. This is my motivation, not to acquiesce to the shrill voices of a woke crowd, but to answer to the omnipotent voice of God.

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

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See My Teacher’s House (1 Peter 2:4-5)

Like many children, I always looked up to my teachers with awe and respect. They seemed to be on a different plane of existence, unreachable and unapproachable, different from my parents or family members. And why not? Teachers are very knowledgeable. They have the difficult task of synthesizing difficult topics and presenting it in an understandable and entertaining format for kids like myself, with an attention span measured in seconds. I am greatly indebted to many of my teachers for helping to instill within me a love for learning, which continues to this day. 

One day when I was in the car with my mother, she pointed to a house a few miles from ours, and informed me that my teacher lived in that house. I was enamored at seeing my teacher’s house for the first time. There was something deliciously exciting, almost clandestine, as I gained an intimate view into the private life of my teacher. She lived in a home, not too different from my own. She no longer seemed so distant and unreachable. Perhaps we had more in common than I thought! 

My experience with God is very similar. Before I became a Christian, I envisioned God as some cosmic grandpa, sitting on a throne and directing the events of the universe. He was distant and unreachable. When I became a Christian, my understanding of God greatly expanded. God,the Holy Spirit, actually dwelled within me. I became a part of God’s spiritual temple!

You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 

1 Peter 2:4-5 (NLT)

God, through His Holy Spirit, allows me to see how He directly works in my life. He is my greatest teacher, the One who inspires me to continue to learn more about Him. I esteem Him on the highest pedestal and yet He is not distant, but continually with me.

What an amazing God we serve!

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

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Enslaved (2 Peter 2:18-19)

When I first began my professional career, I outlined an ambitious five and ten year plan. During that period in my life, I was not walking with God and turned my back on Him. The passion and drive for my career was my substitute for a life that was previously spent in obedience to God. I convinced myself that I could find fulfillment in my career. Once that happened, everything else would fall into place. I would buy a house, find a wife, and all my dreams would come true. Simple. 

The irony is that what initially seemed to be the answer became the problem. While my professional success grew, my personal losses accelerated. I was dissatisfied with everything. Many personal relationships, including with my father, were in ruins. A life apart from God was not the answer. 

The late evangelist, Ravi Zacharias, eloquently summarized the problem. “While pain can often be seen as a means to a greater end, pleasure is seen as an end in itself. And when pleasure has run its course, a sense of despondency can creep into one’s soul that may often lead to self-destruction. Pain can often be temporary, but disappointment in pleasure gives rise to emptiness-not just for a moment, but for life.”

God reminds us, through the words of the Apostle Peter, of this same fate. 

For by uttering boastful, empty words, they seduce, with fleshly desires and debauchery, people who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.

2 Peter 2:18-19 (CSB)

Enslaved to whatever defeats them. 

How easy and seductive it is to be ensnared by the very values that we believe enlighten and free us! I learned a painful lesson, one which I am still reaping the consequences. Thanks be to God that through His grace and mercy, He brought me to my knees and I repented of my carnal lifestyle and recommitted my life to serving Him. 

My five and ten year plans of the world have been replaced by my eternal plan of salvation through faith and belief in Jesus Christ. 

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

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“What Have You Done For Me Lately?” (Psalms 78:18-20)

“Yes, Jake helped us out, but that was over five years ago. What has he done lately? He makes excuses and assigns other people his work and then he takes credit for it.”

I was listening to my laboratory manager of a hospital for which I once worked, lamenting the performance of one of the section supervisors. When he first began in the laboratory, he was an uncorked bottle of champagne, seemingly everywhere, always willing to help out. Yet over time, his enthusiasm waned and he got by with minimal effort. 

When someone is performing at an elite level, expectations are high for that person to continue their performance at the same or higher level. These individuals have to find ways to reinvent themselves. While some are successful, some simply rest upon their laurels and hope that memories of their former accolades will be enough to carry them through. It happens to professional athletes, people in business, artists and musicians-every activity or occupation that requires skill and creativity to succeed and thrive. No one is immune, not even God. 

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

Psalms 78:18-20 (NLT)

Thousands of years ago, the Hebrews asked the same question of God. Sure, God miraculously rescued them from slavery in Egypt, leading at least a million of them through the Red Sea. Yes, God also closed the Red Sea on the pursuing Egyptians, completely destroying their army. God also fed them manna, a nutritionally complete meal, for forty years as they wandered through the desert. But all of that didn’t matter. That was then, this is now. What have YOU done for me lately?

I often have the same arrogant attitude. Like the Hebrews, my long term memory of God’s grace and mercy in my life often shrinks to short term memories. Sure, you cured me of my allergies that I suffered from for over thirty years. Yes, you blessed me with a job and family. That was then, this is now. Pitiful and pathetic. Instead of complaining and asking God, “What have YOU done for me lately?” I should be repentant and thankful to Him and ask, “What can I do for YOU?”

Amen!

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

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“They Support The Dodgers!” (John 15:18)

“We need to fill up, where’s the nearest gas station?”

“There is one at the next intersection but I don’t want to go there. Let’s go to the one closer to the mall.”

“Why?”

“They support the Dodgers!”

I was driving with my friend who was an avid Los Angeles Dodgers’ fan. While I knew that he attended many games and rarely missed a television or radio broadcast, I did not know his passion for the team extended to businesses that also supported the Dodgers. While I did not share the same values as he did, I respectfully agreed to abide by his wish and drove to the gas station he suggested. I admired him for his loyalty to something he believes in. 

Unfortunately, in these divisive times, support for different businesses have taken on violent overtones with different activist groups publicly shaming and canceling individuals and businesses for the values which they support. Christians and the businesses they support have been victimized. Ironically the very groups that clamor for inclusiveness and tolerance act in the complete opposite manner when it involves Christians. While these groups could simply boycott and refuse to support businesses that proclaim Christian values, they take it one step further, clamoring for social ostracism, shutting down their business, or worse. 

In America and many democracies, we have the freedom to choose which businesses to support. If we perceive its values do not meet with ours, like my friend choosing to support gas stations that support his favorite baseball team, we can simply choose to not do business with them. I wish it could end there but it will not. Something more sinister than a woke cancel culture is happening. 

If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you.

John 15:18 (CSB)

For many Christians, the attacks feel personal. They are, but are not directed at individual Christians. They are directed at the person of Jesus Christ. Our Lord stated this thousands of years ago and it is more true today. God’s Truth is absolute. The relative morality of the world is diametrically opposed to God’s Word. Christians must stand firm and defend our faith, even if it means persecution.

There is no compromise. Christians support Jesus Christ. 

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

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