Beat my Swing Coptors score?

swing

Ok it’s not that high but I am pretty darn proud of it. It took many bathroom sessions to accomplish this.

Sorry I haven’t posted for quite a while. It is kind of sad that the first post on return is about an app game, but I think I just need something to get the creative juices flowing again.

From the maker of Flappy Birds comes another instrument of torture, Swing Coptors! I must say that this is quite the infuriating game. I haven’t gotten this worked up over losing since Mario Kart and Street Fighter 2 Turbo on the SNES. I usually don’t get into these app crazes, but this game is strangely addictive.

If you haven’t played, you control this little guy wearing a beanie coptor hat, and with each tap he switches directions. It sounds and looks easy, but it gets tricky because the further he goes in one direction, his momemtum makes it harder to get him to straighten out. Those swinging hammer things don’t help either. The game was so hard that an update was created to make it easier.

Given how much time I have already wasted on this game, I should try to redeem that by drawing out some spiritual insights. The most frustrating part of the game is trying to get the guy to go the direction you want. Once he gets going towards one direction, if you are too slow, then it’s almost impossible to get him to switch back without crashing into the wall.

Trying to fly this guy through these little openings brought to my mind Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:13: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

This verse is a reminder that the Christian walk isn’t easy, that yes salvation is found through faith and grace alone, but after one enters into faith, there’s a lifestyle of godliness that accompanies genuine faith that we are to grow into as the Holy Spirit gradually sanctifies us.

Even with a regenerate heart, our sinful tendencies still pull us to one side and the other, and to make things worse, Satan throws in those swinging hammers from time to time to knock us down. But praise be to God that we don’t have to do life on our own power, that there is the Holy Spirit that lives in us to call us back to the straight and narrow.

Just as it got easier to control the little guy the more I played, the more we practice walking in step with the Spirit, the easier it will be to turn quickly from sin and remain on the right path. And for those who stray and get knocked down, my prayer is that you (and me) will get back up and start again, each and every time.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want… Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16-25

By the way, I think the maker got the idea for this game from me. I’ve been drawing “Beanie Man” since Junior High.

beanieman


 

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

 

To Circumcise or Not?

You probably don’t think about this question very much unless you are a parent or a health provider, but this is a topic of long-standing debate. Throughout the last century, the pendulum has swung back and forth, with at one time in the mid 1900s, something like 90% of male infants were circumcised. The latter part of the 20th century saw a decline in the procedure as concerns about safety and benefit resurfaced.

Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their policy statement on male circumcision, which was last revised in 1999. Their stance over the last decade has been there is not sufficient evidence regarding possible benefits so the decision is up to the parents’ cultural and religious preferences. The newest update after a review of evidence reflect a more positive stance, citing potential health benefits (i.e., decreased risk of urinary infections, HIV transmission) that outweighs the risk of the procedure. But the evidence, though positive, is not enough to recommend universal circumcision of male infants. The AAP still leaves the decision up to the parents. If interested, you can read the policy statement here.

This past Sunday at church we talked about how God chose the nation of Israel to be His vehicle to bless the nations. He commanded the Israelites to be circumcised as a physical sign of their covenant relationship (Gen 17:10-12) and later through Moses gave Israel the laws that they are to live by. The possession of God’s law and the sign of circumcision reminded the Jewish people that they were a special people belonging to God, chosen for the special purpose of displaying the glory of the true living God to the world. The rest of the Old Testament tells us that instead of doing that, they kept God’s blessings to themselves, and even started to worship other gods.

Eventually, God judged the people of Israel through exile, taking away all the blessings of land, power, and His presence. The New Testament tells us that God’s desire for all the nations to be blessed by Abraham is ultimately fulfilled through the coming of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, those who believe now become a new people of God, set apart through faith, made holy by the forgiveness of sins. With Christ, there is now a new covenant manifested not by outward circumcision, but a circumcision of the heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 2:28-29). Paul warns the Jewish people in Romans 2:17-29 that having God’s laws or circumcision will not save them on the day of judgment. Everyone will need the righteousness that comes through the faith in Christ, resulting in the forgiveness of sins.

Living in the 21st century not many of us will be tempted to trust having the Mosaic Law or being circumcised to save us when God judges the world. But we still fall into the same trap; our misplaced objects of trust are just different. Now we have the entire Word of God, yet our reading the Bible can puff up our intellect rather than deepen our realization of sin and dependance on Christ. God makes us His new people through the church, but one can come to church simply for the community or the opportunity to serve apart from a saving relationship with Christ.

It’s pretty scary how we can do a lot of Christian things, yet miss the whole point that we need Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. My prayer is that we will not not be deceived into thinking our good works, Bible knowledge, and church attendance will make us right with God, but only the work of the Holy Spirit in our inner heart, made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What Christian things have you trusted in to make you right with God instead of Christ Himself?

A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Romans 2:28-29

 

Unfailing Spring

Doing God’s work is hard, especially if it involves loving people. As Christian medical providers, we are called to serve with the love of Christ, patient after patient, day in and day out. We won’t last long if we are not receiving from the source of love. Unfortunately, people in medicine are great at taking care of everyone but themselves.

We have a great promise from God, that believers who truly live out their faith through caring for those in need will be renewed by God to continue loving. Isaiah 58:11 says that those who practice true religious acts by pouring out their lives in service for others “will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” God will continue to fill up the believer in order to continue God’s work.

This of course is realized in its entirety with the giving of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus says in John 7:37-39: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” We have the source of love living within us, empowering us to continue God’s work of love.

But the busyness of life has done much to quench the Spirit’s work in our hearts. Many well-intentioned Christians desiring to serve God with their gifts end up living lives of duty, spiritually dry and wondering where the living water is at. We need to tend to the Spirit’s presence in our lives if we hope to love as Christ did and do God’s kingdom work.

How is your relationship with the Lord? Is your serving out of your own strength or in dependence on the Holy Spirit? What can you do to make room for God and make the living waters a reality in your life?