Why I Wrote This Book

IMG_4633The official release date of the book is tomorrow! Thanks to all who pre-ordered the print copy or downloaded the Kindle version.

I realized that some of you had no idea I was working on this so I figured I would share a bit of my motivation for writing and how this process came about. I start with an apology. Part of the reason not many people knew is because I am terrible at keeping in touch. For that, I’m sorry. But also I was quite insecure about undertaking this project since I have never done anything like this, so I didn’t tell many people.

Just to preface this whole thing, I don’t consider myself an author. I have never thought about writing a book. Like I mentioned in the last post, the crazy idea of publishing a book popped into my head about a year ago during one of my first classes at seminary. I had just finished my faculty development fellowship thinking I was going to pursue academic medicine, but felt God’s prompting to invest more in my church. And so, I decided to find a flexible part-time position so that I could take some classes to be better equipped for ministry.

One of my first classes had me reflect on my life journey, how I ended up in seminary and what were the major events God used to shaped my life. Obviously, medical training was a giant chunk of my life, so much of my thoughts were focused on that. I finally had time to start working through experiences I just stuffed aside in order to get through training, but never dealt with. I didn’t realize how draining emotionally, spiritually, and physically the training process had been, and it was quite the therapeutic exercise to write out my thoughts.

So that process, coupled alongside of being asked by students and parents about how to get into medical school, prompted me to write this book about the hidden costs of medicine. I’m not sure people know what they are signing up for. Sure a doctor is a great job, but there are serious sacrifices people should consider before embarking on this journey. It is an expensive proposition and asks of you the peak years of your life. But more concerning is that medicine can consume your soul in the process if it is pursued without a regard for your emotional and spiritual health.

I hope with this book to stir up some prayerful consideration of one’s purpose in life, and what motivations are driving you to pursue a particular career. As a Christian, I believe that God has created me to participate in His kingdom work here. But the world calls out to us with many false promises that can side-track the best-intentioned follower of Christ into living a meaningless, self-centered life trying to build up a “kingdom” that will amount to nothing in the light of eternity.

I write about medicine because it is what I know. But this really applies to any career path we choose, that any training we pursue has the potential to destroy our lives  when done apart from a relationship with our creator God and out of sync with how we were created. A little dramatic, I agree. But how we choose to live our lives do have impact on not just our eternal destiny, but on the eternal destinies of the people around us.

I am by no means an expert. I am simply sharing what I have found helpful, and I hope to learn from you as you interact with the book through the lens of your own experiences. I would love to hear from you so please leave a message on the Facebook page or email me!

There’s still a chance to pre-order at the discounted price at Amazon! Kindle and Nook versions also is available.

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Matthew 16:26.

 

 

 

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Finally Finished!

IMG_4633

If you haven’t been bombarded with my emails yet, the book is set to release October 1st! Check out the Facebook page and “like” it for a free preview! And please pass it along to anyone you think would be interested.

I think it was about this time last year that the crazy thought of perhaps writing a book popped into my mind. And the thought was quite crazy given my lack of experience in these things. My first blog was basically a collection of funny typos and the blog I was working on I didn’t post for almost an entire year. Writer’s block, I suppose.

But that thought didn’t go away, and I just started writing. First it was random stories and lessons I learned, but then it began to take on some semblance of coherence.  It has been so amazing seeing how everything has unfolded, and I’m humbled by God’s grace that I could be a part of it.

And now, one year later, with the book ready to go, it seems like the journey is just beginning. There has already been some neat opportunities for ministry that has opened up because of this book. It definitely is exciting, but it’s pretty scary too thinking about how people will respond to what I wrote, and whether or not I’m up for what’s to come.

The doubts and fears still come now and again, but I’m reminded of the little boy with the two fish and five loaves, how Jesus used what he made available to feed thousands (John 6:9). Has God put something crazy on your heart that hasn’t gone away as you have prayed for confirmation and guidance? Maybe it’s time to take a little step out in faith in that direction.

Of course I am not advocating being irresponsible so we want to make sure we have godly counselors around and that our relationship with God is right. But I think sometimes what’s “crazy” may actually be just what normal Christians living for God would do. After all, the world does say “look after yourself,” but Jesus says “take up the cross.”

I have no idea where all this will go, but I just want to be faithful with what God has given me. To those who have offered encouragement, feedback, and prayer, thank you. I would love more of that!

 

 

 

 

Rollerblading to Health!

I got into rollerblading recently and it’s been a lot of fun! I think ever since I watched The Mighty Ducks as a kid I have secretly wanted to play some sort of hockey. But alas, hockey is not one of the typical sports for growing Asian boys. Now I get to live out my childhood dream.

And even better is that rollerblading is actually a good way to work out. According to this article, skating is the number 1 way to burn fat! The author writes:

1. Inline skating Burns 425 calories in 30 minutes

Surprised? While skating might be so much fun you forget you’re actually working out, it’s also numero uno on our list when it comes to blasting fat and calories.

The big burn stems from the side-to-side movement of your thigh and butt muscles (demanding more from your body than the straightforward motion of our number-two activity — running). And your core gets involved in a big way to keep you balanced.

What’s more, you get all these benefits without putting too much stress on your knees and other joints. Skate at a strong, steady pace. Don’t forget your helmet, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads.

Boost the burn: Alternate one minute of hard skating with one minute of medium-paced strokes.

Reid, Su. “The 7 Best Fat-blasters.” CNN. 6 October 2010. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.

It seems like after you hit 30, something turns off and it’s no longer easy to maintain the weight. I blame it on the fall corrupting our natural bodies. (And probably my extra helpings of ice cream play a role, but only a small one.) And even though we await a glorious heavenly body when all things will be made new, we are given a physical body now to carry out God’s kingdom purposes.

Dr. Nick Yphantides, one of my mentors and heros, once said, “Your health, your life is a gift. Honor your God by taking care of it.” Let us be good stewards of all that God has given us, and that includes our health. By the way, if you have tips on rollerblading, let me know!

What are you doing to take care of your body?

 

An Ounce of Prevention…

I’m currently doing my last (Lord willing) proof on my manuscript so no time for a longer post today. I did come across this article today that reminded me that what I’m doing in providing basic, preventative care actually matters. According to the CDC, a quarter of the 800,000 annual  deaths from cardiovascular disease is preventable.

That’s pretty tragic.

Hopefully we can see that number go down as more people get access to health care with the upcoming changes. Unfortunately, even if people do have insurance, most don’t go to their doctors when they feel fine. Don’t be fooled, though. Your blood sugar and blood pressure can be pretty high for a long time before you feel any different. If you have insurance and haven’t seen your doctor in the past year, go make an appointment!

 

Do We Need to Keep the Sabbath??

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

This is the fourth of the Ten Commandments, and there’s a bit of debate whether this still applies to Christians today. In the spirit of Labor Day, I thought this might be a good topic to think about. To our loss, many Christians don’t spend much time in the Old Testament. Probably because some of it is difficult to understand because we are so far removed from the original context.

While it may be difficult, understanding is not beyond us if we are willing to put it some work (pun partially intended). Of course this is not the only verse that begs the question of relevance to us. How do we know if something in the Old Testament still holds true for us? I like to ask the following questions (at least):

1. Is the command repeated in the New Testament?

The books of the Bible come together to paint the whole picture of God’s salvation plan, a plan that is unfolded and made more clear throughout the course of history. Paul talks in various places about the “mystery” of Christ (e.g., Romans 16:25, Eph 3:4) that is now revealed through the cross, and so the New Testament does shed new light on what was written previously.

What does the New Testament say about the Ten Commandments? I won’t go through the references, but nine of the ten can be found repeated in some form. The one missing? The command to keep the Sabbath. In fact, something that greatly offended the Jewish religious leaders of the day was that Jesus did not keep the Sabbath, at least not the way they thought the Sabbath should be kept. On one occasion Jesus said, “Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12b) after healing a man with a deformed hand.

2. Has the command been satisfied by the work of Jesus?

Life would be very different if all the laws of the Old Testament were still applicable to us. For one, my allergies would go insane everyday because of all the animals that would be around for the many different sacrifices. Clearly we are no longer required to offer sacrifices in order to atone for our sins. Why? Because Christ, the sinless God-man, came and died on our behalf as the perfect sacrifice, once and for all.

And as the books of Hebrews make clear, many of the commands of the Old Testament served as a temporary foreshadowing of what was to be achieved permanently in Christ, particularly the many rules about temple worship and animal sacrifices (Hebrews 9-10). Hebrews 4 also speaks about entering a Sabbath-rest that is separate from something physical here on earth, in this passage the Promised Land. While this chapter is a bit confusing, I think it is an exhortation to enter into the permanent rest of God that is made available through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Colossians 2:16-17 also says, Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

 3. What is the purpose behind the command?

Like I mentioned in my previous post about tattoos, some commands that seem weird at first make sense when we understand the reasoning behind them (i.e., avoiding certain hair-styles/headgear associated with pagan worship). More broadly though, it is important to keep in mind that the purpose of the Law in its entirety was to set apart the nation of Israel from her neighbors so that God could be made known.

The Law was given as part of a special covenant that God made with this particular ethnic group. And so, not everything given to Israel is a direct command to us. The New Testament repeatedly emphasizes that we are under a new covenant (for example, 2 Corinthians 3:7-18). While there are laws that are repeated that we should obey (see #1), those in Christ are no longer bound by the Mosaic Law as a whole.

But we should…

My conclusion? We are not required to keep the Sabbath. But having said that, I do think taking a Sabbath is a great idea, and in some ways is actually vital to our spiritual lives. God rested not because He was tired, but He carved out a time that was holy, dedicated to Him who is the Creator God. Well, we do get tired, and we should set aside a time for us to take a step back from our busy weeks in order to rest in God and marvel at His hand in our lives.

Christians honor the Sabbath by going to church, spending time on Sundays worshipping, fellowshipping, and listening the the Word. But if we are honest, especially those who serve, church can be the opposite of rest. And it can be very easy to go through an entire Sunday doing Christian things but not connect with our God.

It is a battle in our hyperactive culture to slow down and reorient our hearts towards God, even at church. And beyond the couple of hours we reserve for God on Sundays, we need to also carve out times that are just set apart for God. The thing I miss the most about the retreat I just went to was the blocks of undistracted and protected time I had just to be with God.

The big cliche of Christianity is that it is a relationship, so we need to find the time to connect relationally with our God. Just as I need to be intentional about scheduling meet ups to catch up with friends or date nights to connect with my wife, we need to put some thought into how to connect with God. Maybe it’s time to plan a hangout time with God, perhaps a couple of hours, or even a whole morning, just to be with God in the Word and in prayer. For those of us fortunate enough to have the day off, maybe we can do that today. Happy Labor Day!

What can you do practically to stay connected to God?