Alcohol, The Good Things In Life, And The Holy Spirit

A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God…

– Ecclesiastes 2:24, NIV

So today, my Bible reading was from the last two chapters of Proverbs, 30 and 31. Besides the account of the wife of noble character, the readings were generally very troubling and depressing. It’s often a slight discomfort for me, whenever I come across Bible verses about the bleakness and frailty of life. Hevel. In my readings, I came across a couple of verses:

Alcohol is for the dying, and wine for those in bitter distress.
Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more.

– Proverbs 31:6-7, NLT

I was curious and intrigued, as per the meaning of these verses. The bible in itself does not put a blanket statement saying that drinking in all its forms is a bad thing. Jesus himself drank alcohol. A lot of people tend to get this wrong. But in the context of this verse, it seems to portray alcohol as an adjuvant treatment or a supplementary medication that people can use as they go through certain phases of distress and discontent in their lives. I was reminded of what Paul told Timothy. I gained the impression that the practice of drinking could be acceptable, maybe even beneficial, as one could take from the context of both Old and New Testament.

Then afterwards, I went to Sunday service, where a guest speaker Dr. Harold Sala visited to share the word with our church. He spoke very fervently and very openly today about the topic of being filled with the Holy Spirit. About how we can only make an impact as followers of Christ if we accept and live by his empowering gift of the Holy Spirit. This is not just some privilege that is reserved for the highest members of the church hierarchy–His Spirit is someone that Jesus gives freely to us all, so that we can go forth and share His love with all! Then, he spoke again on the topic of wine and alcohol, referencing it in a verse:

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.
Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit

– Ephesians 5:18, NLT

It hit me, that this is what my reading earlier today meant. Alcohol, or anything at all in this world that is good, is not bad in itself. Alcohol has a place in our lives. Work, fun, even life itself, has a place in our lives. (Life has a place in life… Lifeception wew) Things, however, can and will go bad when we make these little good things become the center of our lives. They are hevel, meaningless, and it is pointless to make our life revolve around these. God is gracious and gives us a wiser option–to live life by the Holy Spirit.

What the Bible tells us is that we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices for the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn up completely. Dr Sala said that failing to do so would be like writing a deal and selling your entire house to a buyer, but still stowing away your stuff in the attic. The buyer would be annoyed, to say the least. Likewise, if we are to give ourselves up to the Holy Spirit, we are to give up everything. Not just our sins, though that’s very important, as we are instructed to confess our sins to God and allow him to cleanse us from our sins. But yielding to the Holy Spirit means everything–our food, our drink, our calling, the way we handle our relationships–everything. As living sacrifices, being burned up completely is scary, and we have a natural tendency to crawl off the altar. We must make an effort to tell God everyday, “I want to live for your will, lead me where you want me to go.”

Turning away from idolatry means to seek God’s kingdom first and foremost, before all else. Because though all the good things in this life are not bad in the themselves, they are all temporary. Hevel. Meaningless. Everything of this world is destined to die. To find true meaning in life means to live something that is far greater than the temporary nature of the things in this world. It means to live completely for God. And in living for God, we can live for a purpose.

So grab a bottle of beer. Eat your favorite burger, and enjoy spending time with the people you love. But if you are a Bible-believing, Christ-saved, redeemed-by-grace, Spirit-filled person, then remember what–Who–you live for, before all else.

The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.

And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.

– Isaiah 40:7-8, NLT



verb (used with object)exhumed, exhuming.
1. to dig (something buried, especially a dead body) out of the earth; disinter.

2. to revive or restore after neglect or a period of forgetting; bring to light:
to exhume a literary reputation; to exhume old letters.

So, I joined my obstetrics professor’s Bible study today at SM Megamall. The topic was leadership, and the reference verse was the parable of the talents. We all know the story, right? What’s amazing about Bible studies is that, whenever we read through God’s word, we realize that we don’t actually know the story. We learn something new each time about ourselves, and more importantly, about God.

So in the account, the three servants were given different amounts of money, respectively. The first and second servants, given 5 and 2 talents respectively, worked hard and doubled their money; the third, given 1 talent, just buried his underground. Their boss celebrated the resourcefulness of the first two, while he fired the third servant and confiscated what he was given.

It should be worth considering that the money that one talent was worth 16 years worth of wages in the setting the parable was narrated.

The first question raised was, “What was the attitude of the first two servants? How did the first two servants approach their master?”

When they received their talents, each of the two took the immediate initiative to work and maximize what they were given. And when they presented to their master, each of them started off by humbly saying, “Master, you gave me…”, acknowledging the source of their talents. They returned their earnings to their master, acknowledging likewise that he was the source of what they were able to produce.

The master was fair and just, and when he received them, he did not respond by saying, “Why did you just earn 2 more? The first servant earned far more than you did!” Instead, he acknowledged each servant for what they were able to produce.

Another question was raised, “Why did the third servant bury his talent underground?” The story says that the servant gave the reason that he was afraid, thinking that his master would get mad at him if he lost what little he was given. He was afraid to take a risk to do what was necessary to make a profit for his master. And as the first two were rewarded for their drive to grow, he was punished for his fear and lack of initiative. He acted out of disrespect, fear, and selfishness.


It’s funny how both ‘humility’ and ‘humiliation’ are derived from the same word that means “earth”. The ones who did not bury their talents were the ones who were most humble. And likewise, the one who buried his talent was the one who was least humble and yet most humiliated.

Humility is acknowledging that what we have isn’t ours to begin with. It’s all God’s.

Are my talents my talents?

I drew several personal insights from reading this parable one more time. The first thing I would like to point out is that for the three, it was not their possession of talents that preceded their being servants. Rather, it was their being servants that preceded their being given talents. They were never instructed to grow something that they already owned. They were given something due to their being servants of the master in the first place.

They were his servants. They initiated. They acknowledged. They glorified.

God blesses us all with gifts and talents in this life. As Christians, we must understand that when we serve Him, it is never out of our own merit that we can please him. We understand that before all else, we are His servants, and hence He blesses us with things that we never truly own ourselves. Because He is our Lord, we are to manage everything in our life with full knowledge that these are not our own, but His resources for us to steward.

A good servant will use all resources towards the interests of their master. Likewise, by merit of Jesus being Lord of our life, we are to manage our blessings bearing in mind His commands for us. At the end of the day, our goal should be to honor Him.

To exhume what I have buried

When God blesses us, he does not tell us, “I want you to copy so-and-so. If you don’t then I will be so disappointed.” He wants us to be fruitful with whatever he gives us. He is faithful to bless us with whatever he knows we are capable of managing, and does not compare us with his other servants.

I am reminded of the disciple Simon-Peter’s jealousy towards the disciple John. A lot of times, we are envious of what God’s other servants are blessed with. More than that, we (I) tend to want so much of “the good things in life”. We demand from God. In wanting them so much, we forget about the good things that God has already given us. We forget that God blesses us with so much, with a jealousy that disrespectfully tells him, “You have not given me everything I need to make a good profit.” We are fearful that what He has given us is inadequate.

Resources, relationships, opportunities, status, these are all things we can want that are not bad in themselves. And it’s bad to ask these from God. But when we obsess too much over what we don’t have, we say that what God gives us is not enough. These things, more than God, become our god.

And in such, we bury our blessings deep




beneath all these fears and anxieties.

Something I need to remind myself everyday, God’s perfection completes my imperfection. I need to remind myself that God is my forever companion whenever I feel lonely. God is my power to accomplish His perfect will, whenever I feel inadequate. And whenever I remember, only then am I able to glorify Him.

I am not perfect. He is.

So I can truly live and move and live life to the fullest, if I can keep this truth to heart: that He is my solace in everything.

A Life Undeserved

If only academic problems were the only problems plaguing me. If that were the case, life in medical school would be so much easier. It’s true, and I always knew it was, that following God’s calling for my life would be no walk in the park. But I never expected it to be this bad.

It is as they say, that the race would be riddled with entanglements. Distractions. Things that trip you and make it so difficult to get back up again. When you finally do, what is left of your energy and motivation is but just a few drops of oil dribbling down to the bottom of a steaming gas tank. And instead of running the race, you end up shuffling. Crawling even. Desperately wondering how you’re going to reach the end with your heart shattered into a thousand pieces.

Sometimes the things that trip you aren’t necessarily evil. It’s not always sin. A lot of times, it’s a gift that God himself gives you. Something good, like an opportunity, favor in the eyes of men, a dear friend, or even a childhood dream. Something that draws you to thank him for each and every day.

And when all is perfect, and you feel that nothing can go wrong, there’s a plot twist, and God takes it away from you. And in an instant, your whole world shatters, and walking the road to the kingdom becomes just a little bit harder. A little bit lonelier.

I am currently reading the book of I Samuel, I saw the faith of David when he went up to King Saul and said that he would challenge Goliath, saying that because God helped him kill the wild animals who threatened his sheep, he would be able to slay the giant who threatened God’s people.

And I’m torn inside. On one hand, I’m thinking, “Wow, what amazing faith, this David has.” I knew how he would swear by the name of God to defeat the Philistine who threatened Israel and become a powerful and mighty king.

On the other hand, I’m thinking, “He has something terrible coming up.” I’m thinking of his entire affair with Bathsheba, his inborn child, the rebellion of his son, and the rape of his daughter. I’m thinking of how even a righteous man, in an instant, can have his entire horizon to warp into obscurity.

But then I stop and think. Could there ever be anyone righteous enough to deserve God’s blessings? Is there any one man who can dare go up to God and make a demand by his own merit? There is truly none. I am a child of God and a follower of Christ, but even then, I can never demand that from him. Even if I have plans and dreams, it is God who ultimately determines what happens in my life.

Even Jesus Christ himself, a man wholly righteous and One with God the Father, did not get what he wanted. He could have been a great earthly king, ruler of many kingdoms, and respected and honored by all men. But in obedience and humility, he conceded to His Father’s will, giving himself up to death on a wooden cross. Because of His obedience, He was glorified. And because of His sacrifice, I am set free from death’s power. I am destined for an eternity in the Father’s embrace. An embrace undeserved.

By this truth alone, I am thankful. By that, I am humbled. I realize now that even my wildest dreams, I do not deserve. Fame, acceptance, glory, I deserve none of that. All the blessings I have in my life are undeserved. Yet, in God’s love for me through Jesus Christ, I am accepted as His son and destined for a wonderful life lived serving Him. A life filled with blessing, promise, and wonders I could never dream of. A life undeserved.

God does everything for a reason. And when my life is shaken up, I can see now that it’s only so He can bless me more. When I remember again that He died and rose from the dead to bless me with freedom and eternity, I am reminded that I have been blessed with something that can never be taken away from me: a part in God’s loving plan. And with this renewed sense of identity, I get back twofold whatever was lost: more opportunities to serve Him, favor in the eyes of God, more chances to love, and more creative ways to dream.

It is through my identity in Christ, that I am being continually transformed into a new creation. And with this transformation is the hope that I may become more like him.

Seeing my problems now from His eyes, it’s almost like they were never there at all. He has given me a renewed sense of purpose, and a renewed perspective on my life.

A life undeserved.

On Antibiotic Resistance

Why would I need a prescription, if I wanted to buy antibiotics? I’ll try to answer your questions in this blog entry.

You might have the question, “Why do I need a prescription if I want to buy antibiotics?”

There’s actually a broad history to this. In essence, i’s all about antibiotic resistance, but I was thinking you’d appreciate it more if there was more detail on why prescriptions are necessary.

There’s a TLDR at the end if you’d like to check it out. 🙂

The classic antibiotic penicillin was developed long ago as a remedy to bacterial infection. It’s a beta-lactam antibiotic, meaning it ruins the bacteria’s cell wall which makes it easier to kill. Penicillin was hailed as a “miracle drug”, and it was often used for bacterial infections. However, because it was rampantly used, bacteria also began developing resistance to the drug.

In a lot of cases, antibiotics are not necessary for patients’ treatment. Doctors avoid prescribing due to factors like allergies and side effects. (Look up Steven Johnson Syndrome, it’s scary.) And when antibiotics are necessary, there is an entire plethora of antibiotics that can be prescribed. Each antibiotic targets a certain type of bacteria/fungus/virus. Medical students spend at least two years studying drugs in the classroom setting, and even more after that, just so they can find out which drugs are appropriate for particular diseases. In addition, data is continually updated as per which species develop resistance for certain antibiotics, so doctors in turn update the way they give prescriptions with the emergence of new research.

How do bacteria develop resistance? Well, bacteria multiply in a way far different from humans and animals. Instead of just copulation, bacteria make clones of themselves and make copies of themselves at exponential rates. This is an advantage for them because it makes it much faster for them to grow their population and transfer their genes.

In addition to their core DNA, they also have another kind of DNA that’s called plasmids, which allows them to exchange new information with each other. For example, if just one individual bacteria mutates in such a way that it becomes resistant to a certain drug, it can easily transfer its newfound genes to other bacteria.

Because of these mechanisms, entire populations of bacteria can become resistant to certain drugs in a short matter of time. Self-medication of antibiotics, stopping your antibiotics prematurely, or over-dosage of your antibiotics can contribute to the process of developing antibiotic resistance.

Drugs like Amoxicillin and Coamoxiclav (which itself is a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid) are given as if a bacteria is no longer susceptible to certain drugs (such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria), or if a patient has allergies to first line drugs. Giving these prematurely is like sending a blueprint of a weapon of mass destruction behind enemy lines, giving them a strategic advantage in the overall war.

Self-prescribing antibiotics (a.k.a., buying antibiotics without a prescription) is not advisable because just giving the wrong/unnecessary antibiotic can strengthen your bacteria and will make your body more susceptible to systemic (widespread) infection. Things can get worse if these bacteria spread to other people, as these have the potential to create entire pandemics, wiping out great portions of the earth’s population.

Stopping antibiotics prematurely will give your bacteria a “strategic advantage” when their populations are still not completely wiped out, and will help them to strengthen their arms using what remains of the antibiotic in your system.

Finally, over-dosage of antibiotics can result in development of resistance in other bacteria, making a patient worse off than he was when he first consulted.

In a nutshell, there’s a whole host of things that doctors consider when prescribing antibiotics: the bacteria in question, condition of the patient, the potency of the drug, the duration of dosage, and possible side effects. You can trust your doctor that he will give you the correct prescription, and you can be happy if he does not prescribe you antibiotics. If the latter were true, it’s good and it probably means that you’re in a much better condition than if you would need them in the first place.