Lessons Learned Teaching Sunday School (cross-post)

About two weeks ago, FCBC Walnut‘s blog published a post I wrote reflecting on my year teaching Sunday school to the 11th graders. It was a huge blessing to be able to share my thoughts and conclusions after a fruitful year with the Walnut juniors. Read the post in full below, and check out the rest of the FCBCW blog for content from other writers in our church. By the Lord’s grace, I hope to continue writing for the FCBCW blog in the future!

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Devoes in Disney: Moana

One of my good friends from college had a mini-series he wrote for his blog, entitled “Devoes in Disney”. As a fan of Disney’s various animations and films, I enjoyed reading the connections he drew from the characters or plot as they relate to the life of a Christ-follower. When Disney’s Moana began showing a little over a year ago, I prodded him to write devo. Jokingly, he told me that I should write one instead. I decided I would. Over a year after its release, it’s finally here… heh.

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USMLE Step 1 Practice Session Reflection

In preparation for the first part of my board certification exams, I signed up to take a practice exam at a Prometric center. There probably isn’t anything super exciting about reading a reflection on a testing experience, but I wanted to record some notes for future reference to look back upon when I start gearing up to prepare for the real thing.

The Testing Experience

Unfortunately I tested at a different Prometric site (Anaheim) than the one that I’ll be testing at for the actual exam (Diamond Bar), but hopefully some of these things will carry over to the other site–though I guess there aren’t any guarantees.

  1. The testing room was a good temperature for what I was wearing: an undershirt, a 32ºC Heat shirt, and a light jacket on top, with jeans on the bottom. I didn’t feel too hot or cold during the exam.
  2. The facilities had restrooms that weren’t too far from the testing area, and there was a water cooler in the lobby. I wouldn’t be allowed to eat my lunch in the lobby, but there were some tables in a downstairs foyer that I could use. (There didn’t seem to be a microwave).
  3. Coming in and out of the testing room wasn’t too much of a hassle. I was wanded with a metal detector and had to roll up my sleeves, roll up my ankle cuffs, and turn my pockets inside-out for inspection. Overall, it probably wouldn’t take me more than a couple of minutes to go in and out.

The Test

The practice exam was three hour-long sections, which is significantly shorter than the actual exam (seven hour-long blocks). I started in the afternoon (1:30pm), rather than in the morning (8:00am).

  1. As usual, timing and pacing isn’t really an issue. This could also be because this practice exam wasn’t for real, so I didn’t take as much time as I may actually need, but I ended the exam an hour earlier than I was scheduled to.
  2. I ended up scoring the highest on the middle section, while performing worse on the first and third (last) sections. I’m not sure if this is due to time needed to ramp up my brain and/or fatigue. I did feel that the second section may have been easiest question-wise, but it’s an interesting trend I should keep an eye out for on future practice tests.
  3. There were a number of GI system-related questions that I didn’t know, and we haven’t yet covered that material in class so I can forgive myself for missing them (for now). Derm was also asked and hasn’t yet been covered in class, but there were only a couple of questions whereas there were significantly more GI questions. For the concepts that I did cover, I found that I had difficulty answering questions in immunology, microbiology, and biochemistry (specifically cell cycle and anti-neoplastics).
  4. Pharmacology questions were more straightforward than I was expecting them to be. They usually weren’t too complicated and I could answer them as long as I knew the MOA, indications, and major side effects.

“Thank You for the trials”

Over the past few months, I’ve found a lot of comfort through listening to Sovereign Grace Music‘s album Come Weary Saints. It’s an oldie but a goodie! Throughout some recent trials and difficulties in life, the album has reminded me to fix my eyes upon Christ and Him crucified, and to look upon my trials with a new lens–a perspective that seeks to honor and glorify God for who He is, even through the midst of life’s challenges.

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Choosing a Life Science Major at UCLA

Quite a while back, I was talking to a close friend of mine about my desire to update my blog more often, but not having the time to invest into writing a meaningful and insightful post on a regular basis. He suggested that if I so desired, I should simply blog about things that interest me and are a part of who I am, which would probably not nearly require the amount of effort to polish and post.

That being said, I decided that I wanted to share some of the experiences I’ve learned during my time at UCLA—specifically, my career pursuits in the health care field and some of the practical aspects of that at my specific school. Knowing my current readership, this probably isn’t applicable or helpful to the vast majority of people that presently subscribe to updates from my blog, but hopefully it will help the one or two students that might come across this post from a search engine or referral in the future!

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“Found: God’s Will” by John MacArthur

For many, high school is a time where decisions about career paths are made, and for me it was no different. Yet, there was always an element of indecisiveness for me because of my uncertainty of the future. Thus, when asked about my future plans for career or ministry, it was easy, simple, and mindless for me to reply, “Oh, I don’t really know. I’m praying that God will reveal His will to me for my life.” Or sometimes I would even turn this into a prayer request: “Could you pray for me, that God would reveal His will for me to me?”

A lot of the material I wrote in a previous post hinges on the presupposition that God’s will is perspicuous and can be found in the pages of Scripture. I was first exposed to this idea in MacArthur’s book Found: God’s Will during my freshman year in college. Up until then, an element of immaturity may have played a role in my indecisiveness, but a full and accurate understanding of what the Scriptures teach on the will of God helped me to grow in this regard.

Briefly, as long as five presuppositions are fulfilled, Ps. 37:4 stands as the basic principle by which we can live our lives: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (ESV). There are a couple of different ways that I have interpreted this:

  1. Previously, I had believed that if I delighted myself in God, He would satisfy the preexisting desires that I had in my own heart.
  2. More recently, the view that I hold to now is that if I delight myself in God, He would place new desires in me as a reflection of His will in my life.

I don’t believe that these two interpretations are entirely mutually exclusive. It’s possible that preexisting desires in our hearts may indeed have been God’s will all along, and that He will fulfill them when we seek to honor and please Him first. But from my own experience, my preexisting desires were selfish in nature–I didn’t necessarily want those fulfilled because of His glory, but because of my own gain.

Thus, our desires are placed deliberately by God, and we should follow them! Of course, this hinges on the premise that you have “delighted yourself in the Lord”. John Piper discusses making Christ not only Savior and Lord, but Treasure and greatest delight, in Desiring God:

In recent years I have asked, “Do you receive Jesus as your Treasure?” Not just Savior (everybody wants out of hell, but not to be with Jesus). Not just Lord (they might submit begrudgingly). The key is: Do you treasure Him more than everything?

To expand upon this premise of “delighting yourself in the Lord”, John MacArthur pens Found: God’s Will. From Scripture, he presents five explicit instructions that God has commanded of us, which are His will (Scripture references are provided here):

  1. Saved
  2. Spirit-filled
  3. Sanctified
  4. Submissive
  5. Suffering

Within the pages of the Bible, God has clearly spelled out His will for us. Beyond these things, if these five conditions are true of our lives, then we should do what we so desire, for it is in those desires that God brings about His will for our lives.

Knowing this, our decision-making efforts is a practical implication of these God-given desires. When we live in such a way that desires to honor and please God in all that we do, fighting sin and suffering for His name’s sake, we can know that our desires are placed within us by God and should not cause us to do anything that would cause us to violate our integrity or to misplace our priorities.

Thus, we can go forth and know that whether the outcome of a decision turns out well or not, God is working our circumstances for our good and His glory–we only need to be faithful to act on those desires, because He placed them there for us.

Taking a step back, can we even say that the will of God, as revealed in the list of five items, is manifest in our own lives? I would ask these questions of myself:

  1. Am I saved?
  2. Am I filling my mind with Scripture?
  3. Am I actively fighting sin?
  4. Am I living lawfully?
  5. Am I suffering for professing Christ?

It is only when we glorify God in the specifics that He has prescribed in Scripture, can we then glorify Him in the desires that He gives us in our hearts.

Quick Reflections on Honduras Medical-Mission Trip

I recently returned from a medical-mission trip to Honduras, working with an organization called World Gospel Outreach (http://www.wgoreach.org/) and sponsored by New Life Community Church of San Jose, CA (http://www.newlifesj.org/).

While I’m still working on putting together a newsletter for family, friends, and supporters, I recently shared with them two of the biggest lessons that God taught me during my trip.

1) The medical services we offered pale in comparison to God’s great gospel. This was something that I definitely knew and had in mind coming into the trip, but wasn’t really solidified in my mind until after I had arrived in Honduras and began helping during the medical brigades. We were blessed with the opportunity to offer numerous services to those that had come to our brigade sites (medical, optical, and dental) but the things we could give them to heal them of their physical ailments would soon pass (medications would need to be refilled, glasses could easily be lost/misplaced, and pulled teeth are gone for the rest of their lives). It’s because we could only help the Hondurans with these temporary things that the gift of greater value, the gospel, shines forth from the perspective of eternity. By the end of the trip, 219 people professed new faith in the Lord and 117 others made recommitments to Christ!
2) Christ’s example of humility and service should spur me on to do the same. One verse I had to constantly remind myself of is Matt. 20:28: “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”. During the beginning of my trip, it was easy to be selfish even in my selflessness. Even when I was serving others, I wanted to do so in a way that was comfortable and easy for me, and it was easy to grumble and complain in my own heart and mind when I didn’t have it that way. By the middle of the week, the Lord had convicted me of my selfish heart of service and I hope that by the end of the week (and even back here in the States) the Holy Spirit will have grown me to be selfless in my service, giving and spending my all for the sake of those who have yet to know Christ.
As I get settled back into life in the States and prepare for upcoming exams as well as the new school year, I hope and pray that the Lord will continue to grow me not only in these two ways, but also in other ways that He has equipped me as a result of this trip.