Modified Re-post: First Call

To all the new interns soon to undergo your first offical call, here’s my first call experience! (Modified from a previous post).

Probably the most dreaded thing about residency is taking call, whatever the rotation. Call is when you have to spend the night at the hospital while the rest of the team goes home since someone needs to be around to admit new patients and respond to patient needs and emergencies overnight. Sometimes you just cover patients on your own team. Most of the time, though, you are covering other team’s patients that you have never met before.

I still remember pretty vividly my very first night on call as an intern on my surgery rotation, covering all the patients from the three different surgical services. I was already peeing in my pants, but some time into the night, I discovered that my pager (yes we still use those) was turning off by itself if I didn’t press the on button periodically.

Everything was fine as long as I kept it on by pressing the button. But then I dozed off when things were slow and woke up several hours later in a sheer panic because I realized that my pager had turned off.  I can’t even describe the fear that came over me thinking I may have missed some crazy emergency. I actually went to every single floor where there were patients to ask if anyone had paged me.

I probably over-reacted since there was a trauma team in place over night that would respond to any emergencies (they know better to trust real emergencies to new interns). My job as the intern really was to babysit, but what did I know. Thankfully everything turned out fine and I survived my first call (and every subsequent call).

So, if you ever find yourself in a moment of sheer panic because you don’t know what to do, take a deep breath. You are never completely alone, help is usually nearby (hopefully). You’ll get through that call. And remember that we have a God who is always available to us. He never forgets his pager, and his pager never runs out of batteries. In Christ, we have a direct line to our creator God, and He invites us to come to Him. And not just in emergencies, but in the everydays of life. Thank God that He knows what He’s doing too.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12

Fake it until you make it

The title of this post pretty much summarizes how I felt throughout my residency, especially during intern year. After the novelty of being called a doctor and having a pager on my belt wore off (which wasn’t very long), I quickly realized, in many instances, I had very little idea what I was doing.

Yes, I studied my butt off through four years of medical school, but unfortunately book knowledge didn’t transfer automatically over to real life application. I still remember doing my first lumbar puncture on a baby and having the mom and grandmother both in the room asking me if I had ever done this before. Thankfully I had a great senior resident, and everything turned out just dandy.

It’s a bit of a strange paradox, being officially a doctor as a resident in title, but lacking the skills and knowledge that patients expect you to have. And it is through residency training that you acquire (hopefully) the skills necessary to be a competent physician. In many ways, it is pretending to know what you are doing until you actually figure it out.

It’s interesting how this parallels our spiritual lives. Apart from God we have all fallen short of God’s standards, and as a result, await judgment and God’s wrath. But because of Christ’s death on the cross, through faith in Jesus, all our sins are put onto Him, and all His perfect obedience is given to us. And so, instead of standing before God as sinners, in Christ we are justified, positionally perfect before God.

But yet, in our character, attitudes, and behaviors, we are far from perfect. We still struggle with sin, and we will continue to until the next life. And while Christ’s death made us right with God, the Holy Spirit then comes and makes us perfect within as we are perfect positionally before God, the process of sanctification.

So from this knowledge of who we are, holy and redeemed in God’s eyes, we are then commanded to obey even when naturally we might not. Not that we are to pretend and put up a false image of being all put together(although there might be a temptation to do that). But none of us are as loving, as patient, as considerate, as whatever as we know we should be. And in our obedience, the Holy Spirit gradually transforms us so that eventually the reality of positional holiness will be true of our inner self as well.

We are saved only by God’s grace. Let us not forget that we also grow only by God’s grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit. And while there is nothing we can do on our own to produce this kind of change, let us position our hearts in a way that allows the Holy Spirit to do His work.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5


Medical Training Advice: Starting Internship!

Dun Dun Dun!

With the first day of internship just around the corner, many are pooping in their pants just thinking about the start of the end of their normal existence for the next three plus years. Don’t worry, you are in good company. Patients are probably also shifting uncomfortably in the beds of teaching hospitals across the US. Here are some helpful (hopefully) tips to keep in mind:

1. Make sure you know the location of all the bathrooms, this is very important. Don’t hold your pee; go if you have to.

2. Don’t go to the gym in your scrubs. You just look like you are showing off.

3. Don’t lie. If your senior resident or attending asks if you did something but you forgot, say you forgot. Don’t say that you did it, and certainly don’t make up anything because eventually you will get burned.

4. Remember you are an intern. You job is to learn and people are even expecting you to make mistakes. Don’t avoid things you aren’t good at or don’t know how to do because you might feel embarrassed. It’ll be much worse when you still don’t know when you are a senior.

5. Be nice to the nurses. They know much more than you how things work.

Just a few excerpts from the practical tips section of my book. My prayers go out to all who are starting this journey. It may not feel like it, but the next years will go by so fast so make the most of the experience!

The most reassuring thing someone said to me before I started? “Don’t worry. The human body is resilient. It’s actually pretty hard to kill someone accidentally.” I guess that’s true. You shouldn’t push your luck though.

Post Father’s Day Musings

This is one of my favorite stories about my dad. This happened I think in late high school/early college some decade or so ago. By that time my dad had moved back to Taiwan to work as an anesthesiologist because it would have been too much to redo all his medical training in America. He did so that my mom, my brother, and I could stay here in the states.

I visited him one time over break and he took me out to eat with a colleague. At that time, even though he had been in practice for awhile, he was driving an old beat-up Toyota. We drove to the restaurant, but actually parked a bit a ways away and we walked the rest of the distance. I figured parking was bad there so I didn’t think much of it.

I don’t remember much from dinner, but it was with this young doctor recently done with his anesthesia training. He had used the valet, and as we were leaving, he offered to give us a ride in his shiny new BMW. My dad politely declined, and as we were making our way back, it hit me that my dad parked so far away because he was embarrassed to have his colleague see his car.

In the Asian shame/honor culture, the image of the family is a pretty big deal so this was not a small thing. My dad should have been able to drive whatever car he wanted given how hard he worked and how much he saved. But every penny extra beyond what he needed to get by was sent overseas so that we could have more opportunities, tennis and music lessons, and nicer cars to drive in America. And he gave up not just material enjoyments, but he also sacrificed time away from the family.

Even though my dad is not a Christian, he has been one of the most significant influences in my life in understanding the sacrificial love of God. To me, his sacrifice was a tangible example of the lengths to which God would go for us because of His love. Of course I would have loved it if I could have spent more time with him growing up. But I thank God that He has given me an appreciation for what my dad has done for us and that I am able to see his choices as his way of loving us.

Thank you dad, happy Father’s day.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1 

Careful where your money goes!

I read this article “Above the law: America’s worst charities”  about charities that uses most of the money raised for profit and further fund raising, and very little for actual relief. This article made me pretty mad and sick to the stomach. As Christians, we are called to give generously,  but we ought to be giving responsibly too. Sad to say that there are many “Gehazi’s” (2 Kings 5) that claim to do good things in the name of God, love, social justice, or just goodness in general, but are motivated by their own greed instead.

Looking at the list of these charities, I have to wonder how many of those started with the intention of making money and cheating others. I suspect there were some with good hearts, wanting to do good things, but somewhere down the road the promises of wealth side-tracked their good intentions.

As sinful people, we definitely have it in us to be self-seeking. If you have a heart to serve God, let’s guard ourselves against the material temptations of this world. Let’s be in a habit of coming before God and others to evaluate our motivations so that we do the right things for the right reasons. And let’s remember that our God will hold us accountable for how we have used His gifts in the service of others.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. ” Luke 12:15

What’s your favorite charity?

Sermon Feedback/Discusson – Reasons to Rejoice

Hi Church family! Here’s a recap of the sermon on Sunday. I encourage you to read through the passage again, there’s some great truths and reasons for us to rejoice. As always, feel free to let me know your feedback or how you interacted with the sermon!

Reasons to Rejoice

Romans 5:1-11

We can rejoice because of:

1. What God has done for us in the past: We are justified through the blood of Christ. As a result, we have peace with God and stand in grace.  (v1-2a, 11)

2. What God will do for us in the future: We will be glorified with God when God’s glory is fully revealed. (v2b, 9-10)

3. What God is doing for us now: We are being sanctified, perfected through the trials of our lives. (v3-4)

  • We can rejoice in our sufferings because it matures us and strengthens our hope in God.
  • Our hope in God is sure because it is based on God’s unfailing love. (v5)
  • We can be sure of God’s unfailing love because of
    • The subjective, continued ministry of the Holy Spirit, reminding us of God’s love and our adoption as His children (v5, 8:16);
    • The objective, historical ministry of Jesus Christ, demonstrating God’s amazing and unique love that He would pay the ultimate cost (His Son) to redeem a most undeserving people (v6-8)


  • Be reminded of our future glory as we go through present difficulties knowing that God who took care of the eternal can take care of our day to day struggles.
  • God can use all trials, big or small, to reveal areas of growth in our lives, so be prayerful as we go through even inconveniences or disappointments to see how God can refine our character.
  • Rejoice!

For those who couldn’t make it today, we miss you! In a couple of days, the sermon podcast should be uploaded here. Have a great week!

To all the Graduates!

It’s graduation season! Tonight is my alma mater’s (high school) graduation. Every time this day rolls around, I always think thoughts like: Wow, has 13 years really gone by? I wonder what people are up to? Why wasn’t I invited to my 10 year reunion? Shouldn’t it be easy to find me online nowadays?? Am I still not cool enough??!

Ahem…my thoughts digress; certainly no unresolved issues here. Well, to all the graduates, here’s a little pep talk I gave to our high schoolers at our church’s grad night last week. I thought I would share it again since it applies not just to high schoolers and I also saw some of you sleeping.

Grad night is always a bittersweet time. It is of course a time of celebration as you look forward to your next chapter of life and we are excited to see how God is going to use you. But it is also sad for both your parents and the church to see you leave. Maybe some of the parents are happy about this, I don’t know.

But we are sad to see you go, and our prayer is that as you go, you will find success in your academic pursuits. But much more than that, our more fervent prayer is that you will continue to grow in your walk with Christ and hold strong to your faith despite the attacks of the evil one. And so as you prepare yourselves for college, I want to leave you with this encouragement from the Word. Turn to John 15.

Here is the secret of having a vibrant, healthy, and growing spiritual life, and it’s really not that big of a secret: remain in Christ. Jesus says in verse 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

You want to have success in your spiritual life? Remain in Christ. Notice it is a choice you have to intentionally make. It’s not an automatic thing. Now what does it mean to remain in Christ? We can talk about a lot of different things, and from this chapter we can talk about making sure we are taking in Scripture, or making sure we are spending time in prayer. I hope from your time at SBECC you have learned the importance of reading the Word and praying.

Here Jesus says He is the vine and you are a branch on that vine. Tonight, I want to remind you that there’s not just one branch on the vine. All believers are branches connected to the vine, and we are connected to one another through Christ. Jesus here paints a picture of the family of God, and this image illustrates the importance of remaining in this community of believers.

And in fact, our knowledge of the Bible is to be lived out in our relationships with one another. Jesus goes on in verse 9-12: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love…12my command is this: love each other as I have loved you.”

In the last decade of youth ministry we as the church leaders have had the joy of hearing from people who have gone off to college who are now graduated and doing well in their spiritual walk, being used by God in great ways like. But we have also experienced the sadness of hearing about people who have gone through our youth group who aren’t walking with God anymore.

Thinking over these experiences, we have noticed that those who are doing well spiritually over time are those who make fellowship with other believers a priority. Our spiritual life is not just a private matter. When we were saved, we are saved into this new family of God where we can grow, be encouraged, held accountable, and protected from the attacks of the evil one.

Most of you who are graduating have grown up in the church. You have come to church week in and week out and heard countless sermons. There will be a temptation to “take a break” from church when you enter college. No one will be there forcing to go to church anymore and there will be many more fun activities you can do Friday nights or on Sundays.

Wherever you end up for college, whether just a couple of hours away, or thousands of miles away, our prayer is that you will make finding a new church home a priority. This Christian life isn’t meant to be lived alone. Those who have a vibrant individual spiritual life have a vibrant spiritual community life. There will be plenty of new things to figure out when you get to college. Please figure out your spiritual home first.

Remain in Christ by remaining in the body of Christ. Surround yourselves with godly brothers and sisters who will continue to encourage you and keep you on the right path. Please know that wherever you end up, you will always have a home here at SBECC so please visit often. We will miss all of you very much.

To all the graduates, congratulations. Soon you’ll be wondering how 13 years have passed by and why you didn’t get invited to your high school reunion.


Hep A From Fruit, Cancer From Boba??

Thanks to my wife for sending this warning about a hep A outbreak linked to frozen berries from Costco. Watch out smoothie drinkers!

My mom came into town recently and also reminded me to avoid boba drinks because it causes cancer. I decided to see if there’s any truth to this. After a very thorough investigation (brief review of the first page that came up in my Google search),  I could only find this article about scientists finding a carcinogenic substance in the boba they tested in Germany. Not surprisingly the manufactures in Taiwan questioned the claims.

Does boba cause cancer? Not quite sure. But seems like everything causes cancer these days. According to the WHO fact sheet, cancer is the number 1 cause of death worldwide. It also states  “About 30% of cancer deaths are due to the five leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use.”

Add to that the cancers that are caused by Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C (liver) and HPV (cervical), viruses that are also associated with human behaviors (whether high risk sexual activity or IV drug use) and you got a huge number of deaths that could have been avoided with different lifestyle choices. Add to that the numbers of deaths from cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory problems, and stroke and that number grows even more.

It’s very interesting how the burden of disease has shifted over the years from things that happen to people (infections) to things we do to ourselves (heart disease, cancer, stroke). The root of sickness really is a spiritual problem, and until we actually deal with the underlying dysfunctions that drive unhealthy behaviors, we won’t see healthier people despite the trillions of dollars we are spending in healthcare.

We were created to be whole in relationship with God. Physical health starts with the soul, and until we made right with our creator God, we’ll always be trying to fill our eternal void with everything and anything else. More thoughts about this in chapter 3 of my book! A quick update, it’s being formatted at the moment. I hope to get it out before July, but we’ll see! Thanks for all the prayers.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8