We Eat With Our Eyes (Psalms 34:8)

We eat with our eyes.

 

Every successful cook and chef knows this. The presentation of the food is part of the entire culinary experience. But it is not just the plating-the tableware, the decor of the dining room, even the servers are part of this presentation.

 

The other day, my daughter surprised me on my birthday by baking my favorite chocolate chip cookies. With her usual humility, she cautioned me, “Dad, it may not be as good as ones that come from your favorite bakery.”

 

I smiled, hugged her, and then took my first bite. It was delicious! It wasn’t just the sweetness of the cookie, it was the overwhelming affirmation of my daughter’s love for me as she watched me eat. I was eating with my eyes as I lovingly looked at her. It was, without a doubt, the best chocolate cookie I ever ate. “You’re right, sweetheart,” turning to hug her once again. “It is not as good as the ones from the bakery. It is waaay better!”

 

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalms 34:8 (ESV)

 

God presents His love and blessings to us through many different means. Perhaps this is why the psalmist rejoices in the safety and comfort of God love by appealing to our senses of sight and taste. Like the blessings I received from my daughter’s baking and her adoring face, God engages all of our senses when He blesses us. It is not just an intellectual knowledge of His Goodness, it is a blessing that overwhelms our senses!

 

We eat with our eyes. Taste and see that the Lord is good!


Amen!

 

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

VIP Suites (John 14:2)

The Rose Bowl!

 

After 55 years, I finally attended a football game at the Rose Bowl! To make this an even more special event, I sat in the VIP section. My cousin is married to the athletic director for a major university and they were the visiting team. He kindly offered my family four tickets to join him, my cousin, and about 20 other VIPs. What a thrill it was to ascend the elevators and be ushered to these special rooms. The suites were air conditioned with trays overflowing with food and drinks! A large television screen simultaneously broadcast the game and there were luxurious leather chairs and sofas to lounge. The room opened to outdoor shaded seating, where we could experience the full excitement of the crowd and game. From our vantage point, I could see the other VIP suites, all with similar amenities. This was very cool!

 

In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

John 14:2 (ESV)

 

As special a day that this was, it does not even begin to approach the glory and splendor of the day when Jesus Christ brings me to my eternal home in Heaven. His promise to me and all believers is that He has prepared a room for us. Air conditioning, gourmet food, an exuberant crowd...the Rose Bowl has nothing to compare to God’s Home!

 

Would you like to be there? The entry qualifications are also through a family member, but not a cousin. If you confess and repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, He will send His Holy Spirit to indwell within you. At that moment, you will become a child of God. You will have the privilege to address God as your Father in Heaven. Jesus, Himself, will usher you to your eternal and glorified room in Heaven.

 

VIP suites.

 

The Rose Bowl was amazing but I can’t wait to live in God’s home!

 

All praise be to the living God!

 

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

Eight Hours of Sleep (Ephesians 3:20)

Since high school, I have managed to get by on 6 ½ hours of sleep, with most evenings diminishing to 6 hours or less. But I have always wanted to get more sleep and on some Saturday mornings, I am sometimes able to get 8 hours. There have been many a morning when I awaken and think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could sleep 8 hours every night?”

 

Recently, my sleep schedule has been dramatically altered and I begin my day much later, due to changes in workflow in my office. Instead of arriving to work at 5 AM, I am now arriving at 8 AM or even later. I still go to sleep at 10 PM but instead of awakening at 420 AM every morning, with just under 6 ½ hours of sleep, I now awaken at 6 AM, getting a full 8 hours of sleep.

 

It has been exhilarating and I have never felt so well-rested. But there has been additional benefits, I get to spend quality time with my family in the morning. The first morning this happened, neither of my children knew I had changed my schedule. I heard my daughter say to my wife, “Do I hear Dad’s voice?” To her surprise and my joy, she came downstairs and gave me a big hug. Then my son, quietly crept down the stairs and peered into my office, equally surprised to see me. He, too, gave me a big hug. Now, my new routine is to see my daughter and son off to school. I also have time to speak to my wife who is now awake and preparing to leave for work.

 

These blessings came because of a change in workflow, a loss of an important client that needed their completed reports early in the morning. Without the client, there was no reason to continue to come in early. God has blessed this loss by re-charging me with additional sleep, allowing me to spend precious time with my family in the morning, and in a most unexpected turn, gave me additional business and new clients, more than making up for the lost revenue.

 

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us...

Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV)

 

What began on a somber note of a lost client has become another opportunity for God to bless me. And when God blesses, He does so exceedingly abundantly!

 

All praise to the Living God!

 

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

"Name Your Favorite Bible Verse!" (Proverbs 17:17)

“Please call me when you have a chance. I want to share with you what your son said at our church retreat.”

 

The voicemail message was intriguing. Our family had just returned from our annual Labor Day church retreat, held in the San Bernardino mountains. A dear brother in the Lord was the guest speaker for the youth and my son and daughter were privileged to hear his sermons and gifted teachings. We frequently spoke with him at the retreat so we were surprised to receive this message from him. When my wife and I called him on the phone, he was in a jovial spirit.

 

“Well! I have to tell you what your son shared at our last session. I asked all of the guys to name their favorite Bible verse. Most of them said things like ‘John 3:16’ or ‘Genesis 1:1’ but when it was your son’s turn, he unhesitatingly stated Proverbs 17:17! It caught all of us by surprise! And then he recited it for us!”

 

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17 (ESV)

 

I was beaming! I have been creating a collection of Bible verses for my son. Above each verse, I place a photo that illustrates the meaning of the verse. For that particular verse, I placed a photo of my son with one of his closest friends, a dear sister in Jesus Christ. Everyday, we review the Bible verses and at least once a month, we review this particular verse in Proverbs. My son has memorized other Bible verses such as John 3:16, John 14:6 and Isaiah 40:28 but he has never quoted Proverbs 17:17. Since he has hundreds of verses in his folders, I did not expect him to have many other verses memorized. I told my friend that I am thankful to God for bringing this sweet young lady into the my son’s life. I was sure that because of her kindness, my son remembered the Bible verse.

 

It was a very special God moment and this verse in Proverbs is a beautiful reminder of how God works through the different members of the Church to bless one another.

 

God has truly blessed my son and my family with caring brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

 

Thank you Jesus!

 

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

"I Give You Your Freedom, Go!" (John 8:36)

It was the summer of 1982 and I had returned home to Hawaii after completing my sophomore year in college. Since my last return at Christmas, there were many changes in my life. For over a year, I had been following the teachings of a woman known as “divine mother.” She taught a universalistic religion declaring that all religions were different paths to the same god. Krishna, Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha... all of them were prophets, different manifestations of god.  She also claimed to be a prophetess and, while acknowledging the truth of all other religions, claimed that her path was the most direct path to god. When I began my sessions with her, I eagerly accepted what she taught. I bemoaned the conflicts between the many different religions and sought a way to harmonize the different religions. I found her teachings to be intellectually satisfying and refreshing.

 

I augmented her teachings by delving into advanced studies in Hinduism and Buddhism. I even began reading the Bible. After all, if all religions are paths to the same god, I naively believed that all religious writings should point to the same truth. Initially, I was pleased to find complementary ideas between the religions and its respective writings. But with time, some cracks began to appear. I kept stumbling upon the verse from the Gospel of John in the Bible.

 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 (ESV)

 

If all religions are paths to the same god, then how can one reconcile what Jesus emphatically states with the teachings of this woman? I realized that I needed to have this answer completely resolved. I spent many hours asking God for answers. God responded and sent a dear brother in Jesus Christ who faithfully met with me every weekend, explaining and clarifying the truths of the Bible. Slowly, God changed my heart and opened my eyes to see the Truth. A week after Easter in 1982, I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. God had given me the freedom to seek Him and He blessed me exceedingly abundantly. All of the doubts were gone, but there was still one more task I needed to do. I had to confront “divine mother.”

 

With some trepidation, I met with her. After a perfunctory exchange of pleasantries, I began to share some of the changes in my life. It was almost as if she were not listening to me as she nodded and smiled. I persisted in updating her and began to share the Gospel with her, pointing out the inconsistencies between her teachings and what Jesus Christ taught. I was so intent upon sharing my faith, I did not realize the change in her countenance. The smile disappeared and a glare replaced the formerly serene visage. In a burst of anger, she exclaimed, “I give your freedom! Go!”

 

Divine mother was having a very human tantrum!

 

I was free, but for the first time in over a year, I felt separated from God. But which god? Was it the universalistic pantheistic god that I and every particle of the universe was a part or was it the Christian God who created the universe and every living creature, a Creator, separate from His Creation? There was a twinge of doubt as I fell on my hands and knees and asked God to reassure and confirm my faith. In a moment, God affirmatively and decisively answered my prayer and filled me with His peace and comfort. It was a freedom to choose and a freedom to love God who gave me His Son, to die for my sins.

 

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:36 (ESV)

 

In Jesus Christ, I have found the greatest freedom that I have ever desired. My earlier misconceptions of Christianity, encompassing a set of rules and do’s and dont’s, was shattered once I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. There were no rituals, no good actions or good behavior that could earn my salvation. No one is good enough, only God. This seemingly uncrossable gap between man’s sins and God’s perfection could never be bridged by my actions. No, God would have to bridge this gap. In the greatest act of sacrifice and love the universe will ever witness, God became a man and lived a perfect life, without sin. This is Jesus Christ, who took the punishment for all of my sins and for all Creation.

 

Only God gave me the freedom to be the man that He created me to be.

 

Thanks be to the Living God!

 

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

"I Never Want Issues of Money To Come Between Us" (Colossians 4:1)

I have several dermatopathologists working for me. At the end of each month, I direct my billing supervisor to produce a spreadsheet that documents the dates they worked for that month, the patient reports they produced, and the payment received for each case. As soon as I receive this spreadsheet, I review it and forward it to the respective dermatopathologist. I then issue a check for the previously agreed upon percentage of collections for the work they completed for me. This entire process appears to be the most efficient and transparent way to accurately document the work that was performed and match it with the received payments. I explained to my colleagues that I never want issues of money to come between us.

 

My grateful colleagues informed me that with other laboratories and dermatology offices where they have worked, all they receive is a check at the end of the month. There is no spreadsheet or statement that documents the work done or the payments received. It is all based upon trust. But that trust has its limits. One of my colleagues kept track of the patients he saw and the anticipated payments he should receive. In more than one instance, he found discrepancies between the services he performed and the payments the office received. Upon further investigation, his employer admitted he had not been as compulsive to follow up with some payors and receive all of their payments on time, erroneously entered wrong billing codes resulting in decreased reimbursement, or even neglected to bill for certain procedures.

 

Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Colossians 4:1 (ESV)

 

This command of the Bible can be updated to today’s workplace. “Employers, treat your employees justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.”

 

God holds me accountable to be completely honest and transparent with my colleagues and my employees. While they work for me, I work for God. I honor God by being a just and fair employer. Transparency is more than documenting financial transactions, it is being completely open and honest with my motives, something my employees can witness, but most importantly, something only God can see.

 

Money should never become an issue between myself and my employees and colleagues who work for me as long as I seek to put God first in my company and my life.

 

Amen!

 

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

Bonan Matenon! (Zephaniah 3:9)

Every morning, one of my staff and I engage in an interesting twist on the perfunctory, “Good morning!” She gives the salutation in Japanese or Korean. I happily oblige and use the opportunity to learn how to say the phrase in other, less familiar languages. We have done Farsi, Hebrew, Finnish, Albanian-just to name a few. At times, we can discern the language and/or the region of origin. But this morning was different.

 

“Bonan Matenon!”

 

What?

 

German? Dutch? Nope. This time, the language was Esperanto! This is one of the most successful artificial or constructed languages. It was conceived by a Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist, L.L. Zamenhof in 1887. The word esperanto translates as one who hopes. Zamenhof hoped that this language would be used to simplify the process of learning a language, unbound by any nationality.

 

It was a laudable goal and although it has not been universally adopted, it has steadily grown in popularity throughout the world. Countries as diverse as China, France, and San Marino currently use it for some of their publications. Even Google has added it as one of their translated languages!

 

For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.

Zephaniah 3:9 (ESV)

 

For a long time after Adam and Even first live on the earth, all humans spoke the same language. God scrambled their speech at Babel and people were dispersed throughout the world. I believe there is a deep longing within all of us to be able to effectively and clearly communicate with one another. One day, God will allow this to happen and the entire earth will once again speak the same language, a pure speech. But this will only happen when our Lord Jesus Christ, returns to earth and establishes His Kingdom.

 

As glorious as that day will be, it also comes with judgment. For on that day, all who have not confessed and repented of their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be condemned to an eternity in hell, forever separated from God’s love, grace, and mercy. God is love but God is also holy. He must judge sin and He extends His offer of salvation to all who place their trust in Him.

 

Bonan matenon! Whatever language you speak, if you confess and repent of your sins to Jesus Christ, you will be saved!

 

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

"Yes, I Trained With Dr. Smith!" (2 Timothy 1:5)

My professor was sitting across from me at the double-headed teaching microscope. I was a fellow in dermatopathology and we were examining a recent case of mine. I was pointing out some of the salient histopathologic features of the case when he suddenly looked up from the microscope and registered a quizzical look.

 

“That term you used!”

 

I was equally befuddled. “Which one?”

 

“That term...I have only heard one other person use that term before, and that was back in Boston. How did you…?”

 

And then the realization struck him. “Right! You trained with Dr. Smith when you were a pathology resident. And she trained with Dr. Brown, who used that term in Boston when I trained with him!”

 

“Yes, I trained with Dr. Smith!” I beamed. “She always used that term. Now I know where she learned it!”

 

That day, I learned the origin of a diagnostic pathology term that has been passed on through three generations of pathologists. The episode reminded me of my Christian faith. My mother was a believer in Jesus Christ. She raised me with Christian values, teaching me to love and respect Jesus Christ. Only through God’s grace and mercy did this message eventually reach my heart and I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Now, I have the privilege of guiding my two children, both of whom who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Three generations of faith in God.

 

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

2 Timothy 1:5 (ESV)

 

The Apostle Paul commended his young protege Timothy for the evidence of his faith in God that had also been evident in his mother and grandmother. Like the diagnostic terminology of pathology and medicine, the evidence of the faith was passed down through generations. But while faith may be evident in each generation, it cannot be inherited. A nurturing and caring environment, introducing each generation to God’s love and mercy may be created within a family, but each person in every generation bears the personal responsibility of accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

 

I am thankful that my mother began a tradition of faith in Jesus Christ within my own family. I pray that it will continue for many more generations with my children and theirs as well.

 

Amen!

 

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

"My Son Is A Catholic Priest And He Knows Who I Am!" (Matthew 24:24)

She sat on the floor, cross legged. Her serene face with closed eyes revealed a glimmer of a smile. She was the woman who I had been following for nearly a year, attending her meditation sessions. I was a freshman in college and not a Christian but was searching for spiritual answers and direction in my life; I thought she could provide both. She taught a universalistic religion declaring that all religions were different paths to the same god. She claimed to be a prophet and that her path was the most direct path to god. Her teachings were liberally sprinkled with quotations and doctrines from the Bible, Buddha, Hinduism, and Baha'i faiths.

 

Since she claimed that Christianity was one of the paths to god, I asked her if I could read the Bible to assist me in my studies. She agreed and when I first began reading the Bible, I was pleased to see familiar phrases and concepts that she taught. But within a short period of time, I began to note inconsistencies between her teachings and the Bible. I wrestled with these issues and assumed my ignorance and rudimentary understanding of religion was the source of my confusion. I was sure that all would be resolved once I spoke to her.

 

She listened to my questions that I had been struggling with for several months. I brought up several passages from the Bible and asked her to explain them through the lens of her universalistic understanding of god. Her answers did little to mollify my uncertainties and I pressed her for more detail. After listening for a few more minutes, she closed her eyes and proclaimed, “My son is a Catholic priest and he knows who I am!”

 

Whoa. Really? Though I did not doubt her disclosure, I found it difficult to reconcile, even with my limited understanding. How could a devout Christian who believes in Jesus Christ also accept this woman’s teaching? Was my understanding of religion even more primitive and limited than I realized?

 

She informed me that I needed to continue to learn from her and expand and broaden my understanding of god. Nonplussed, I continued to read the Bible. And within a few months, I had my answers. All religions were not the same and did not lead to the same god. There is only one true God, and, through His grace and mercy, He changed my heart and unveiled the Truth when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

 

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Matthew 24:24 (ESV)

 

Since that day, I have met many people who claim to be Christians, devout followers of Jesus Christ, but who preach and teach a religion that is anything but Christianity. With a superficial listening, the words and doctrines sound familiar. But when it is held up the light of God’s Word, the Truth is revealed. The denials may quietly cast doubt upon the reality of the miracles of Jesus Christ, explaining them away as exaggerations of ordinary events, concocted by overly enthusiastic followers of Jesus. It may be a mixing of science and faith, stating that God used evolution to guide creation from a single cell microbe to the amazing complexity of man. Or it may be as blasphemous as denying the resurrection of Jesus Christ, claiming He never really died and was brought back to life, but only pretending to die. Yes, there are many false prophets who use the Word of God and twist or deny its truths.

 

And what about this woman’s son, the Catholic priest? Several years later, after I became a Christian, I did meet with him. I pointedly asked him how he could reconcile his mother’s teachings with what Jesus stated, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

 

He answered, “There are many truths. She is teaching one of them.”

 

I had my answer. There are many false christs and false prophets and sadly, even those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ may join them. No title or religions position in the Church is enough to guarantee true faith. Only confessing and repenting of one’s sins and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will guarantee salvation. Accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Savior means accepting the Bible as the absolute and infallible Word of God. There are no substitutions, deletions, or additions. God’s Word is complete and inerrant.

 

There is only one Truth and only one God!

 

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

The Office Nameplate (Revelation 2:17)

Our office has a tradition that I began six years ago. When an employee is hired, there is a mandatory three month probation period. There are specific tasks that must be learned and mastered by each employee. But just as important, it is a time that I and the rest of the staff decide whether the new employee is a team player and a good fit for the company. Thankfully, every employee has successfully passed the three month period. As a sign that the employee is officially vested, I present them with a nameplate. The first line has their full name and the second line sports a nickname or character trait that best describes them. Some of the more colorful titles and names have included, “The Salsa Mama” and “A Dog’s Best Friend.” When I introduce my employees to visitors, I always make sure I include their new name that I have given them. It is a sign they are an important member of our company family.

 

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Revelation 2:17 (ESV)

 

Our office nameplate gives each employee a name and title, known to everyone. Someday, Jesus will give every believer in Him a new name. And unlike my company, it is a name that only He will know. He will call us out to be with Him because our salvation and eternal rest in Him is eternally secure.

 

My company will someday fade away. But Praise God, that the promises of Jesus Christ and His new name for us are eternal for all who call upon Him as Lord and Savior!

 

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

She Is A Part Of Me (Ephesians 5:28-29)

This morning, when my alarm clock awakened me, I turned to turn it off and then, like so many other mornings, shifted my position and looked over at my wife. She stirred a little as her slumber was interrupted by the noise. I snuggled next to her and our feet gently touched. This was our only physical connection and for a few moments, I was filled with the warmth of the contact.

 

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church...

Ephesians 5:28-29 (ESV)

 

We have been married for 20 years, known each other for 21 years. We have two teen-age children. We have traveled the world together. And yet, in this moment, I truly understood the meaning of this verse that the Apostle Paul wrote. I viscerally knew that my wife was a part of my own body.

 

I know how often I fail to put this verse first into action and honor my wife as my soulmate and partner with whom God has blessed me. There are so many times I wish I could turn back the clock and begin again with her, not make the mistakes I did, and treat her with the respect and love she always deserves. As I reflected upon these thoughts, God gently reminded me that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins-past, present and future. He knew the hurts that would happen and are yet to happen. But He also knows the joy and fulfillment that our marriage has brought to each of us and will continue to do so. And if I nourish and cherish her as my own flesh, He is honored.

 

My wife is a part of me.

 

Praise God that He reminds me of His perfect truth and love through the quietest and tenderest moments in life.

 

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

Pounding The Toy (Galatians 1:10)

When my daughter was about 1 year old, she loved to play with a toy that required her to use a plastic hammer to pound different objects through the properly fitted slots. When she began, she didn’t use enough force with her hammer and the objects would simply rest on the top of the slots. I attempted to demonstrate to her how she needed to use more force. Understanding, she took the hammer and this time, hit the objects with more force. After several attempts, one of the objects was successfully pounded through its slot. Without missing a beat, she immediately turned to me, her face beaming with pride, eager for me to show her my approval. I was elated and gave her a big hug!

 

I was so touched that my daughter would first seek my approval for something she worked so hard to accomplish. Do I have this same attitude with my Heavenly Father?

 

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10 (ESV)

 

For so much of my life, I sought the approval of others: my parents, my teachers, my friends, my colleagues. Like my daughter, I wanted to turn to them and see their faces shining with approval over what I had accomplished. When I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, this began to change. My desire was now to please God and not man. But it was not works to earn God’s love and approval. He gives His love to me as a free gift by His grace and mercy. I respond by doing things for Him, not because of obligation, but from an honest thanksgiving in my heart. This is the difference that took so long for me to understand.

 

The manner in which my daughter looked to me for my approval so many years ago reminds me how I now look to my Heavenly Father for His approval. It is a beautiful reminder of how God cares for all who place their trust in Him.

 

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

Set the Timer! (John 14:26)

A weekly chore of mine is to make sure our swimming pool is filled to the proper water level. The process involves turning on the water for approximately 45 minutes then turning it off when it reaches the designated level. For years, I did this without a glitch. But one day, after turning on the water, I became busy doing other things then left for an appointment. About 8 hours later, I returned home and the sight of water overflowing the front yard and our drains told the tale. From that day forward, I made it a rule that whoever (am I listening?) fills the pool with water will set the timer! Since then, there have been several occasions when I have set the timer then busied myself with other activities, only to have the beeping alarm remind me of prime responsibility for the moment. Set the timer!

 

My spiritual life could use a similar timer. How often have I started a spiritual discipline with good intentions, only to be quickly distracted by another activity? An early morning prayer and devotional gets derailed as my thoughts meander to the upcoming meeting in a few hours.  My daily Bible study becomes a jump to other books that discuss the passage but take me away from just meditating upon God’s Word. Thanks be to God that He has provided a timer, a spiritual reminder. His Holy Spirit reminds me to keep my thoughts and activities focused upon God.

 

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 14:26 (ESV)

 

When I am distracted and take my eyes off of God, His Holy Spirit keeps me focused. He illuminates passages in my Bible. He brings to mind people for whom I should be praying. He guides me in activities that will honor God and allow me to be salt and light of Jesus Christ  in this world.

 

Set the timer! I am thankful that God has given me His Holy Spirit to keep me on His schedule!

 

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

"Just Because!" (Romans 5:8)

“Next week Tuesday will be a special day, so come home early!”

 

“Ok Dad!”

 

What was this about? A special day? That sounded good but I was confused. I was eight years old and my parents were behaving in a peculiar manner. They didn’t usually play games with me like this. The days dragged leading up to that Tuesday and each day, my parents would remind me of the day. Finally the day arrived and I was anxious to see what it all meant. My parents escorted me into the living room and on the table, was a cake with the words, “We Love You, Paul. Love, Mom and Dad.”

 

“I don’t understand,” I stammered. “Is this for my birthday? That’s not for two more weeks.”

 

My parents smiled and said, “No it’s not for your birthday, We will celebrate it, don’t worry. We just wanted to do this to let you know we love you. Just because.”

 

I was dumbfounded! It was such a complete surprise and such a beautiful expression of their love.

 

Just because they love me.

 

Although my parents showed me love in many other ways, this special day never happened again. And perhaps this is why it is even more meaningful to me.

 

What greater reason can there be to give a gift to someone just to show they love you? No works, no obligation, simply an act of love to be received and cherished.

 

...But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)

 

This beautiful and touching memory points my heart in the direction of God when I think about what Jesus Christ did for me. I did nothing to deserve His gift of salvation. I can never earn His love. I can never be good enough, smart enough, or kind enough to merit any of His favor. It is only by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ that I am a redeemed sinner in the sight of God.

 

My parents created a lasting and beautiful memory for me, just because they loved me. Jesus gave me salvation and eternal life, just because He loves me.

 

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

"What Does Daddy Do?" (Proverbs 22:6)

I have a friend whose wife has a gift for entertaining and hosting parties. The other day, he was recounting a conversation he had with his young son.

 

“Dad, Mom sure loves to plan parties, doesn’t she?”

 

“That’s right, son. She is very good at doing this. This is what Mommy does.”

 

Seizing upon a teachable moment, my friend asked his son, “And what does Daddy do?”

 

With a thoughtful pause, my friend’s son replied, “Get out of debt!”

 

We both laughed uproariously! My friend is fond of listening to Christian financial management programs when he was driving. He is a very successful businessman and owns many properties. He is always finding ways to teach his son about finances and one of his guiding principles is to stay out of debt. With a broad grin, he proclaimed, “I guess all those programs are rubbing off on him!”

 

No question!

 

As parents, we are one of the most important influences upon our children. They are observing everything we do and listening to everything we say. It is a sobering reminder that I must guard against callous comments, always making sure my behavior is consistent with my speech. But the most important life lesson I can give my children is to learn about God.

 

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

 

Even though I did not accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior until I was in college, my mother was wise and kind enough to instill Christian values into me when I was a child. Without preaching, she would demonstrate the Christian principles of love, sacrifice, and humility to our family and others. Years later, when she went home to be with the Lord, many friends of her came to me and recalled with great fondness, her loving and gentle spirit. She was a great example of the love of Jesus Christ.

 

I am thankful for a faithful mother, who loved and feared God. Her faithfulness helped to pave the way for my faith and eventual acceptance of God in my life.

 

What does Daddy do?

 

All I want for my children is to teach them to love and trust the Lord and to keep our family strong.

"Just Like Jake!" (Romans 8:1)

There are certain people I have met that, very simply, rub me the wrong way. They did things like snide comments about how they couldn’t share information with me because it was privileged, even though I was working on the same committee with them. Sometimes it was name dropping, always making sure I knew they were far better connected with other important individuals than I was. The common thread was these people all  reminded me of a childhood nemesis named Jake. He took great pleasure in making my life miserable, tormenting me with a plethora of mind games.

 

“They are just like Jake!” I once concluded when I interacted with these people. But upon further reflection I realized, they are just like me! The same faults that I saw in these people were also mine. Oh, I would deny that I did the selfishness of my actions, convincing myself that I was not as bad as these others. Shades of grey, but I always knew the truth. They were my mirror and I didn’t like my own reflection. I refused to take ownership of my sins.

 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1 (ESV)

 

When I look in the mirror, I don’t like seeing my own faults and sins staring back at me. For many years, I would beat myself up and blame others. But when I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, that all changed. I began to understand the depth of my sins and depravity. I desperately needed a Savior who could take away my sins and my guilt. I no longer had to condemn myself but could confess and repent of my sins to God who took the punishment for the sins of all mankind.

 

My problem with my attitude toward other people was not bad childhood memories of Jake. The problem is me. Thanks be to God that He unconditionally  loves and accepts me, does not condemn me, and continues to transform me into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Just like Jake? No. Just like me.

 

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

I Didn't Miss It! (Matthew 6:31-33)

I am settling into my new physical appearance after a thirtyfive pound weight loss. Since the process took nearly six years, it was not burdensome for me. Now that the weight is off, I wonder why I waited so long to accomplish the task?  I am also quite pleased that it did not require a drastic change in behavior. I simply ate a little less everyday and I increased my physical activity to thirty minutes a day on an elliptical. There were no food cravings nor was I tired or cranky. Thirty five pounds gone...I didn’t miss it.

 

The weight loss made me reflect upon other areas of my life that are out of sight and out of mind. Excess baggage, I have carried a lot of it over the years. There are material objects gone or used only sparingly and, much like my weight, I didn’t miss them.

 

How often have I purchased something, thinking I must have it, only to find it gathering dust in a few months? The latest and greatest cooking appliance or cooking tool! A new fangled wash cloth that cleans everything! A pillow that will guarantee a good night’s sleep! Infomercial marketers love customers like me.

 

But probably the biggest excess baggage I carry is needless worry and anxiety concerning so many aspects of my life. How will I manage the household budget, save enough for college for my children, and save for retirement? How can my wife and I juggle our jobs, spend time with our children, and still have enough energy and enthusiasm for each other? God knows me and my anxieties.

 

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV)

 

And what is God’s solution?

 

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

 

I have spent a lifetime accumulating excess baggage and what has it achieved? There are so many things in my life that I have clung to but God, through His grace and mercy, has allowed me to let them go. If I seek to do His will first, if I seek His kingdom, all of my priorities will be aligned with His and I will truly live the fulfilled life for which He created me.

 

Excess baggage, whether material or psychological,  I don’t miss it when I give it up to God.

 

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

Surprise Me! (Matthew 7:7)

My prayer list chronicles my prayers from the initial date and an accompanying Bible verse. Whenever a prayer is answered by God, I record the date and outcome. As I review my prayer list, I note the varying length of times God has used to answer the prayers. Some prayers have been answered on the same day it was first recorded. However, there are several prayers that are still awaiting an answer after more than five years. Recently, I updated some of these prayers and prayed over them and asked God to surprise me. As the old adage goes, “Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.” I would modify that and state, “Be careful what you pray for, God will surprise you!”

 

God has surprised me many times with answered prayers. He kept my dying mother alive long enough for me to return to Hawaii and spend a last day with her. He allowed me to have one last telephone call with my father before he unexpectedly passed away. But perhaps the most surprising prayer God answered was the first prayer I ever truly prayed to Him.

 

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7 (ESV)

 

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

James 4:3 (ESV)

 

Many years ago, I was searching to know the truth about Jesus Christ. Was He truly the only path to God? I asked God to grant my prayer to reveal Himself to me. It was the most honest prayer I have ever prayed and because I asked from the purest of motives, He answered my prayer affirmatively and dramatically!

 

A wise man once stated, “Pray for something so big that it will only succeed by God answering the prayer.”

 

Indeed!

 

God does answer prayers! And I am grateful that he does!

 

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

"Much Of The World Would Be Covered!" (Matthew 28:19-20)

The two most populous countries in the world are China and India, and their respective languages are Mandarin and English. Spanish is spoken by the majority of nations in Latin America. These three languages could allow communication with at least three billion people, slightly less than half of the world’s population. And this doesn’t even account for the peoples in Europe and Africa which could add another half a billion people who have some facility with at least English or Spanish.

 

English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese.

 

If one is able to speak these three languages, much of the world would be covered! It would be wonderful to be able to visit and communicate with at least half of the world’s inhabitants. Sharing food, music, culture...this is what travelling is all about. But there is an even more important message to be communicated.

 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)

 

The Great Commission.

 

Jesus commands all of His followers to spread the Good News about Him to all nations of the world. To do this, we need to be able to communicate in their native languages. Thus, it is important to support the work of Bible translators. One such organization, Wycliff, states on its website, that as of 2017, the New Testament has been translated into more than 1400 languages and the entire Bible has been translated into more than 600 languages. Yet, it is estimated that there remains at least 1600 languages that still need a Bible translation.

 

English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. It’s a good start, but there is still much more work to be done. But thanks be to God that He is always with us, to the end of the age!

 

Amen!

 

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

A Spiritual Blood Transfusion (Ephesians 1:7)

There is a new medical study that is testing the hypothesis that when blood is donated from younger patients and transfused into older patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia, it may lead to cognitive improvement and improved memory. The study is based upon similar earlier studies involving mice. Scientists are cautiously optimistic suggesting that proteins present in the plasma of younger patients, and lacking in the plasma in older patients, may be the reason for the benefits.

 

It is certainly an intriguing hypothesis and if successful, could open the door to novel treatments not only for dementia, but for many other diseases. New blood may indeed have significant benefits.

 

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

John 3:5-6 (ESV)

 

When a person confesses and repents of their sins and accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are spiritually reborn as a child of God.The Holy Spirit now indwells within us, sanctifying and transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ. It is because Jesus died on the Cross, taking the full penalty and punishments for the sins of the entire world. His blood cleanses us. Our physical body is the same but we have been given a spiritual blood transfusion!

 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

Ephesians 1:7 (ESV)

 

It remains to be seen whether a blood transfusion from younger patients will have benefits for older patients with dementia. But I have no doubt that the blood of Jesus Christ will give all who call upon His Name, a spiritual blood transfusion. The benefits? Salvation and eternal life with God.


Praise God!

 

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