Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Surviving Medical School with Faith intact...

With my first year of med school for the most part finished, I have been reflecting back on the year and having conversations with friends about how this first year has changed us. The most obvious change is, of course, our knowledge of the human body and that is pretty exciting to me. But an experience like medical school changes a person in much deeper ways. When we arrived here we were regularly warned by the deans and by students further along that if we weren't careful many of us would become cynical people who forgot our original altruistic or spiritual reasons for coming to medical school. As usual, I doubted that med school could change me in such a way. But looking back, I think med school has changed my personality and I'm pretty sure that it has not made me a better person. I think that the demands that our coursework puts on our time and energy can encourage a great degree of selfishness to grow in one's personality. I have certainly seen that in myself. Free-time, when I wasn't studying, became so valuable to me that I would rarely think of seeking the Presence of the Lord or of finding ways to serve others. Instead, free-time came to mean watching movies, reading blogs or occasionally working out. I also have thought less about my original ideals that I thought so much about when I entered medical school. Instead of dreaming of a future on the mission-field, I've begun to dream of a higher class rank or the possibility of a more competitive residency. The demands of medical school has encouraged my already perfectionist personality not only to demand more from myself but also to be more critical of those around me.

That all sounds bad, huh? I've told some of my closest friends here, and I really think it's true, that I'm probably in a worse spiritual state than I was back in August. My daily time in the Word and in prayer has shortened and I am less ready than I once was to try to encourage and pray for classmates. But with all of this apparently negative reality, I know that God has provided for me in marvelous ways.

When I told my friends that I thought I was actually in a worse spiritual state now than when I started, I also told them that if it wasn't for the various ministries I'm involved with here, things could have been much worse. The constant accountability and edification I have found in our weekly Christian Medical and Dental Association meetings and in our Men's Group Bible Study meetings have been invaluable. Through those relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ I have been given the opportunity to honestly share struggles, to seek the counsel of my colleagues and their prayers. Having a wonderful church family who I look forward to seeing every Sunday has also been very important.

Another conversation I've had with some of my classmates is a "what if" conversation considering whether we would have gone to some of the more prestigious schools we applied to had we been accepted. And there was a time when I would have said, "yes," that if I had gotten into Harvard or Mayo Clinic that I would have gone there. But looking back on this year and considering things with the eternal perspective of the importance of my soul, I would have to say, "no." Think what you will about Seventh-day Adventist theology, but I have to say that they have founded and nourished an institution where a Christian can become a doctor and where they can be affirmed and encouraged in their faith in Jesus Christ. For this I am very thankful to my Adventist brothers and sisters.

In closing I would say to any Christian entering medical school, do not underestimate the trial that awaits you. Temptations that once may have looked dull because of the vibrancy of your spiritual life may gain a new and enticing luster. But if you can find real Christians to be open and honest with, to pray with and to succeed and fail with, you will make it through with your faith intact.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Joshua Tree

Well, it's been a while. I'm finished with all my exams which means I'm basically finished with my first year of medical school. I am very thankful to God for the multitude of ways that He has provided through this year. For the next three weeks I'm up in the hospital shadowing doctors and then off to Texas for my army training. On Saturday I went to Joshua Tree National Park with two friends from the medical school. Joshua Tree is a beautiful and unique place and hopefully I will return there someday for a camping trip. Here are some photos from the adventure for your enjoyment:
A Joshua Tree - Yucca brevifolia.

Some great rock climbing.

A plain of Joshua trees.

A random lizard.

Aaron, Jon and I on a rock we climbed.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bishop Guernsey visits Christ's Church

This Sunday we were honored at Christ's Church to have Bishop John Guernsey preach and celebrate the liturgy with us. Bishop Guernsey spoke of how in many African churches it is customary to hear testimonies before the sermon and he then proceeded to give his own testimony as his sermon. In many ways I could identify with what he had to say. He talked about growing up in a church where conversion and the power of the Holy Spirit were not emphasized. He talked of the belief he had that there must be something more in this relationship with God and how he eventually found this through a woman at a church he was pastoring who had been filled with the Holy Spirit. After preaching, Bishop Guernsey led the congregation in a prayer of recommitment to Christ and of inviting a greater infilling of the Holy Spirit. I was very impressed with what the Bishop had to say and his obvious gift for preaching. The music also seemed especially good today and I got to sing one of my favorite hymns, "Holy, Holy, Holy."

Monday, May 12, 2008


But Oh, this power could not be bought. All the money in the world could not have purchased it, but to those who humble themselves in lowliness and in sincerity before the Lord shall the Spirit be given freely without money and without price. Oh, tell me, Peter and Paul, tell me John and James, and all you who received this mighty incoming of the Holy Ghost with its attendant power and glory, may we, in this 20th century, receive this like precious gift, or did the Holy Spirit empty Himself of all His power in the apostolic days? Did you consume all of these supernatural wondrous blessings, or did you leave enough to spare for us today?

"Yes, indeed," they answer in unison. "Heaven is not bankrupt. Heaven's storehouse still is full. The Holy Spirit has never lost his power, the promise is unto them that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Did not our Lord say: 'When He is come, He shall abide with you forever'? Doubt no longer, but with open heart ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain. Remember these words of Joel the prophet: 'It shall come to pass in the last days,' saith God, 'I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh.' Remember, too, that when the high priest went in the Holy of Holies the bells rang, and the high priest came out the bells rang again. When Jesus ascended up on high the bells rang and the people spoke with tongues and magnified God. Now this same Jesus, our high priest, is coming forth again for his waiting church, and on earth the bells are ringing, the latter rain is falling, and again those who have received the old-time power speak with other tongues."

- Aimee Semple McPherson

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Brother's Life Preserved!

Yesterday, when I got back from a jog I had just taken in the Loma Linda Hills, I noticed that I had missed a phone call from my youngest brother. I didn't think much of it and I certainly didn't have that feeling of fear that can go with an unexpected call from family. Later my mom left a message saying that another of my brothers, Joey, had totaled his car after swerving to avoid a dog that ran out in the road. After seeing the pictures, I was as amazed and thankful as the rest of my family that he walked away from the accident with not more than a scratch. It goes without saying that my whole family is thankful to God for the preservation of my brother's life.

O Trinity of love and power,
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe;
Protect them wheresoe'er they go:
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

-William Whiting

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Hail the day that sees Him rise,
Ravished from our wistful eyes!
Christ, awhile to mortals given,
Re-ascends His native heaven.
There the glorious triumph waits,
Lift your heads, eternal gates!
Wide unfold the radiant scene,
Take the King of glory in!

- Charles Wesley