“What Fortunate Lives We lead!” (Acts 20:35)

“How lucky are we? Every patient today could have been a Grand Rounds patient and we had the privilege of helping them. What fortunate lives we lead!”

Source: Dr. Samuel Moschella. Archives of Dermatology. December 2022.

This quotation was spoken by Dr. Samuel Moschella, who passed on August 21, 2022, at the venerable age of 101 years. Dr. Moschella was a professor of dermatology at Harvard University. When he made this exuberant statement, he had spent an entire day seeing dozens of patients in his dermatology clinic. He was writing his observations in each patient’s clinic chart and with unbridled enthusiasm and energy, exclaimed this to his fellow dermatologist colleague. It encapsulated this remarkable man’s rich life. He was a master teacher, clinician, and researcher. I had the pleasure of meeting him many years ago at a dermatology conference and can attest to everything that was summarized in a tribute article, recently published in a prestigious dermatology journal. Dr. Moschella’s words and life reminded me of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Acts 20:35 (NASB)

To serve others with the gifts that God has bestowed upon each of us is our purpose in life. We serve, not because of financial obligations or compulsion, we serve out of gratitude for what God has done for us. We serve to freely return the love that was lavished upon us through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. 

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

Galatians 5:13-14 (NASB)

What fortunate lives we lead!

Thank you, Dr. Moschella, for your service and commitment to so many patients and health care professionals. May all of us live our lives with this same enthusiasm, serving others with the love and compassion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We live fortunate lives because He first loved us.

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

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Artificial Art Intelligence Generator (John 11:25-26)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 

John 11:25-26 (ESV)

Source: Fotor.com

I was experimenting with an artificial art intelligence generator. This free website, referenced above, will take any written word or phrase and create an image. I do not know the algorithms or the backgrounds of the programmers but when I typed in the verse from the Gospel of John that I quoted, this striking image appeared. Of the many intriguing qualities of this image, is the glow that highlights this image of Jesus Christ. I typed in other phrases that included God or Jesus and obtained a similar image. If there were other people in the illustration, they did not have this glow. I even typed in the names of prophets and founders of other religions but no glow. Interesting. 

There are many descriptions of Jesus in the Bible but in many instances, God’s glory is depicted with light. Perhaps the most profound revelation is Jesus, when He was transfigured before two of His closest disciples.

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 

Matthew 17:1-2 (ESV)

Jesus reinforced this image when He described Himself.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

John 8:12 (ESV)

Is this glow unique to Jesus? It is likely that if I entered more phrases and permutations, the program would attach a glow to other historical figures. Yet, I am pleased that this is a consistent representation of our Lord and Savior. It affirms what God declared since the beginning of Creation. 

Whether it is artificial intelligence or intelligence created by man, all intelligence points to the true source, Jesus Christ, the light of the world. 

Amen!

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

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Reboot (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It was the third time I went through the protocol. I researched numerous websites, meticulously following their instructions, all to no avail. I was stymied by my inability to get a recent software application to properly work on my computer. Finally, I rebooted the computer and to my delight, the application worked. As I savored the moment, I recalled a statement that my IT colleague once told me, “Rebooting the computer solves 90% of the problems.” Indeed! If only all of life’s problems could be solved by a simple reboot and restart! If we are given an opportunity to restart in life, many of us would welcome it. At New Years, it is common to make resolutions, resolving to make a fresh start for the new year. Yet, in spite of our ambitious and earnest beginnings, reality soon sinks in, and we discover a simple new year reboot has quickly failed. The problems we faced before are still there. We continue to agonize over events for which we have no control. What can we do? Can we keep on rebooting? Once again, God gives us a better way. 

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)

When life’s problems overwhelm us, we don’t need an occasional reboot. We need a continual refreshing through Jesus Christ. Only through faith and belief in His Name will we be able to wipe away the old things that have prevented us from living a fulfilled life and begin to live the life that God created us to have. We are new creatures, rebooted in Jesus Christ.

Rebooting a computer may solve many problems but in life, only by rebooting our lives in Jesus Christ will renew us in every moment of the day. It is a spiritual reboot by the living water and bread of life, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen!

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

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Not Too Difficult (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

“You all know this material. This next midterm will not be a challenge. It will all be a review.”

Right! I’ve heard these lines before. My college professor was attempting to reassure our class that there would be no surprises on the examination. However, I was wary. I heard these types of statements before and was completely burned. After my initial experience, I surmised that some professors have a malevolent streak, and was hesitant to trust them. 

What if God told you, “It is not too difficult!” Would you believe Him? Why should you when you didn’t even believe your professor? Thousands of years ago, God said the same thing to the Israelites. 


This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, “Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?” It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, “Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?” No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it. 

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (NLT)

As the Israelites prepared to enter the promised land of Canaan, God encouraged them through His prophet Moses and told them His commandments would not be too difficult or unreasonable to follow. All He asked was to trust Him and His promises. Unfortunately, like the experience with my professor, the Israelites did not trust their Creator and thought they knew better. The result was an earthly kingdom that never achieved the promises that God intended. The kingdom of Israel was to be an example for the entire world, Jew and Gentile alike, to come to God.  Instead, the Israelites squandered and rejected the promises of God and eventually had their entire kingdom conquered by foreign empires. 

It is not too difficult!

If God tells us this, believe Him! He desires to bless us exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we could ever ask or think!

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

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Migration (Jeremiah 10:23-24)

I was born in Fukuoka, Japan, in a hospital on an American Air Force base. Although I have visited Japan twice, I have yet to revisit my birthplace. While I am definitely looking forward to this, it may be a bit difficult. The Air Force base and hospital no longer exist, replaced by a housing development. Thus, while I may not be able to visit the general location, I may be unable to return to the exact spot where I was born. 

In today’s world, returning to one’s exact birthplace may not be a simple task. Gentrification may sometimes radically change a city’s landscape. I have a colleague who grew up near Beijing, China. However, each time he revisits his birthplace, it is unfamiliar to him. Buildings that were in place even ten years ago are no longer present, victims of the relentless new building in China. Yet, some animals have been doing this for millennia.  Scientists speculate that animals such as sea turtles, birds, dolphins, salmon and some insects may have physiological adaptations that enable each to navigate the earth’s magnetic field. For example, sea turtles may have magnetite within their brain, a compound that aligns with the earth’s magnetic field. I wonder if people who have a good sense of direction have a similar physiological change? One thing is sure, most husbands who drive cars do not, as many wives can attest!

I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, LORD, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die. 

Jeremiah 10:23-24 (NLT)

God endowed sea turtles and other select animals with a means to navigate thousands of miles to return to their exact place of birth. Most of us are not as fortunate. We need direction and guidance. Thanks be to God that He provides this for us. While it may not be to navigate to our exact point of birth, He guides us to far more important destinations, our course for our life. He doesn’t use magnetic fields, He guides us by His Holy Spirit, who indwells within every believer in Jesus Christ. He aligns us with the will of God, the most powerful force in the universe. 

Returning to our place of birth may be important for some animal species but for a believer in Jesus Christ, yielding to the will of God is what will bring us home to Him in heaven. 

Amen!

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

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“This Your First Time?” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

The exam room door displayed a complicated diagram of the human nervous system. A small heating lamp was positioned next to the examination table. As I was escorted in by the doctor, I was asked to sit at the table and remove my shoes. 

“This your first time?”

I nodded. “Nothing to worry about.” He smiled. Within a few minutes, my legs, forearms, and ears were stuck with slender needles. It was my first time being treated with acupuncture. For a variety of reasons, I was seeking additional treatment for my tinnitus (ringing in my ears), neck pain, lower back pain, and pain in my thumb joints. I had been evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon who confirmed that my joint pain was due to wear and tear, simply getting old. Surgery was not yet an option and I was already doing core strengthening exercises. For tinnitus, I had been evaluated by several healthcare professionals who reluctantly concluded there was not much to be done for me. Through my research, I found acupuncture to have some success in selected patients for all of my afflictions. My wife had her hip pain treated successfully by this same acupuncturist so I decided to give him a try.

Decades ago, in medical school, I learned of the merit and some of the possible scientific mechanisms of acupuncture. Through the ensuing years, I carefully followed the medical literature regarding the efficacy and role in patient care for a variety of diseases. Now it was time to experience it for me. Thankfully, it was relatively painless and uneventful. After the session, my family anxiously desired to hear about my experience. I glibly responded, “Well, I don’t feel any worse! I am aware of any placebo effect so let me see how I feel tomorrow.”

The next day had an uneventful beginning however, as the day progressed, I had increasing lower back pain that did not subside until three days later. I was unsure whether it was from the manipulation I received at the chiropractor’s office or an activity that I did after leaving his office. During this period, I was so preoccupied with my lower back pain that I did not notice that my neck pain and joint pain in my thumbs had greatly diminished. My tinnitus was unchanged. Perhaps there was some merit to this.  After speaking with the acupuncturist, we agreed to weekly sessions with the understanding that the tinnitus may require more frequent sessions.

As I reflected upon the experience, I was struck by how similar it was to my experience of how I came to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I grew up in a nominally Christian home and attended an Episcopalian middle and high school. Although I studied Christianity, I was not ready to commit to it. Only in college, after I had been involved in a religious cult and seemingly exhausted all spiritual options for my life, was I willing to consider the claims and teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ. I took my first hesitating steps by confessing and repenting of my sins and accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Like acupuncture, I did not feel any immediate change. In fact, in a parallel manner, life initially became more complicated. I needed to find extra time to attend church. My relationship with my father became strained since he still participated in the same religious cult of which I had been a part. I seriously questioned whether I had made a mistake. Slowly, God began the process of sanctification in my life, transforming me more into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. I did not see a simultaneous change in all areas of my life, but like the effects of acupuncture, I definitely began to notice it when I took the time to reflect. My priorities were shifting, becoming more God-centered instead of self-centered. 

Everyone’s encounters with God are unique. Some are sudden and dramatic. Some are deathbed conversions. Still others, like myself, take time and continual reassurance. It was my first time for acupuncture but I had been aware of it for many years before I finally relented. God has been working in my life since I was born. Only through His grace and mercy did His knocking on the door of my heart lead to the first time when I accepted Jesus into my heart.

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. 

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (NLT)

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If God is speaking to you, now is the right time. Now is the day of your salvation.

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

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Thy Will Be Done (Matthew 26:42)

The conference room was filled to capacity, nearly a thousand people were there to listen to several presenters, and I was one of them! Although I had given many presentations, this was the largest group to which I had ever presented. Worse, I knew there were several medical professors in attendance who were experts in the same topic on which I was speaking. 

I spent weeks preparing and rehearsing every possible oddball question that may be hurled at me. Yet, I knew at some point, I would have to trust God that He allowed me to prepare to the best of my ability. Now, it was in His capable hands. Whether it is preparing for a major presentation, an examination, or an interview, we may spend hours in preparation and work ourselves into a frenzy over the “What if?” scenarios. What if I knew for over thirty years that a significant life event was about to occur? How would I prepare? Would I be pushed to utter exhaustion and simply give up?

Our Lord Jesus Christ is eternally God. He came to earth, born as a human child. At all times, He was both wholly God and Man. He knew that He was sent to redeem mankind for our sins. As He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, the evening before He was to be delivered to be executed, He knew what was about to happen. He would be captured, crucified, and tortured to death. All of the sins of the world would be thrust upon His broken body. For the first time in His life, He would experience separation from God. He knew this was going to happen for all of his human life of about thirty-three years. He knew this from the beginning of eternity when He was in Heaven as God, the Son. Innumerable years of preparation. It all came down to this moment. How did Jesus respond?

He went away again the second time and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, unless I drink it, Thy will be done.”

Matthew 26:42 (KJ21)

Jesus knew every possible, “What if?” scenario. Did He succumb to the pressure? Did He freeze? Did He give up? He resolutely responded with the most powerful words anyone can ever speak, “Thy will be done.”

Whatever difficult trial we may face, it will never compare to what Jesus Christ faced on the evening before He was crucified. Let us be encouraged by the courage and strength that Jesus demonstrated for us. For the eternity He spent preparing for it, He completely trusted God and allowed Him to carry out His will for His life. We can do the same.

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

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The Fosbury Flop (1 Timothy 3:16)

The lanky young man approached the bar, running at an angle. Deftly maneuvering his body, he jumped, back facing the bar, and sailed over it, his legs lifting up at the last moment to successfully complete the high jump. The crowd roared its approval. Dan Fosbury won Olympic Gold, set a world record, and revolutionized the sport of the high jump.

Source: Youtube

Today, we take it for granted, but for generations of high jumpers, the usual approach was to approach the bar from the front. Over fifty years ago, everything changed. It was the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City. Fosbury was an engineering student, and he applied his knowledge of the field to the mechanics of the human body, correctly reasoning that his approach would be superior to previous methods.

An innovator is someone who introduces a new product or idea. Like Fosbury, their innovations may literally change the world. What about our spiritual lives? For many religions, the path to salvation is based on one’s works. If one lives a good and moral life, the expectation is one will go to heaven. This sounds like a good plan, and why not? It is a plan that man created. Only in Christianity is the pathway to salvation different. God knows that no amount of good works will ever be enough to allow a person to enter heaven. So, what is His plan?

Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory. 

1 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)

For thousands of years, man has been trying to get to heaven by his own efforts. Innovation in life occurs through the creative efforts of many talented individuals. God created innovation. Is it any surprise that He gives us a path to salvation that is unlike any other religion? God sent His only Son to be born on earth as a human. He lived a sinless life and died on the Cross, taking the penalty of our sins upon His broken body. Three days later, He was raised from the dead, abolishing the penalty of death for our sins. God gave us the most innovative and outlandish plan for salvation. Only by confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior will we gain salvation and eternal life.

God is the source of all innovation. 

Praise God for His grace and mercy through faith and belief in Jesus Christ.

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

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Ainu (Revelation 7:9-10)

When I began to learn of my Japanese heritage in high school, I was surprised to discover an indigenous people that predated modern Japanese for several thousand years. The Ainu people of Northern Japan are thought to have migrated from the Asian continent to Japan around fifteen to twenty thousand years ago. Once thriving, various factors, including discrimination by the Japanese government and assimilation with other native Japanese, have reduced the number of pure Ainu to perhaps less than a thousand. Equally devastating is the loss of their culture. It is estimated that there are less than a hundred who can speak the native Ainu language. It is likely that within a generation, the Ainu language will no longer be spoken. 

When a group of people loses their language, their individuality and uniqueness quickly follow. Linguists estimate that there are presently 7000 languages spoken in the world and by the end of this century, more than half will disappear. Like the Ainu, many of these languages are currently spoken by less than a thousand natives. Presently, there are renewed efforts to preserve the Ainu language and culture. Equally earnest efforts are occurring throughout the world to protect and restore other languages and cultures.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 

Revelation 7:9-10 (NASB)

We give up our sinful life when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. However, we do not need to give up our cultural identity. Some critics launch accusations that Christians promote a groupthink mentality, requiring social and cultural conformity. In fact, Christianity embraces the diversity of cultures and ethnic groups. As this passage in the Bible states, we can look forward to a glorious day in heaven when nations and tribes of peoples and tongues will stand with each other, all praising our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Languages may fade away. Borders of countries may change. The Word of our God stands forever!

Amen!

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

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“They Didn’t Take My Pens!” (Matthew 6:8)

“Can you help me? Any security videos you may have from last night would be helpful.”

Standing at our front door was our neighbor. His home was burglarized the previous evening and much of his wife’s jewelry was stolen. The thieves even found his safe in the upstairs master bedroom and threw it over the balcony into the back yard. Opening the safe, important and sensitive documents like birth certificates and passports were scattered but not taken. In addition, the safe contained numerous expensive pens.

“They didn’t take my pens! The pens are worth as much, if not more, than my wife’s jewelry but they didn’t take them and discarded them in the yard. They could have really screwed us if they used our personal information as well.”

It was another familiar and tragic story that my neighbor shared with us. Home invasions are on the rise in nearly every city in America. Thieves are emboldened by the shortage of law enforcement personnel, liberal or non-existent laws to punish the criminals, and a worsening economy that foments unrest. Although the property losses were substantial, as my neighbor divulged, it could have been far worse. The thieves chose less valuable items either because they did not know the value or because they perceived it would be difficult to sell the other items for a substantial profit. How different is the strategy of Satan, the father of thieves and liars! He knows what we value most and how much we would sacrifice to keep it. He tempts us with our secret desires and possessions, hopeful we will succumb to his wiles. But there is someone who knows us even better, God, our Heavenly Father.

…Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. 

Matthew 6:8 (NASB)

God knows what we truly need and desire. We may think we know but like the thieves, our priorities are often distorted by our sinful nature and selfish desires. Of all of our possessions, of all of our wants and desires, nothing is more important than our soul. God seeks to save it.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 

Matthew 16:26-27 (NASB)

There is nothing that we can give in exchange for our soul. No possession. No skill or talent. Nothing. God asks us a question that everyone must answer. Only by confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior will our soul be eternally saved. What do you truly value? Even if we are unaware or do not want to admit it, God always gives us the Truth.

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

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