Friday, August 27, 2010

Strange Coffee

I like coffee. I like flavored coffee, especially Hazelnut. And who would have ever thought that chocolate flavor in coffee could be good? And each person has their favorite roast of coffee for their preferred strength. Me? I like simple dark roast Community Coffee -- a strong taste.  But have you ever considered what it took to get those flavors in coffee?

As a scientist I can see many ongoing experiments. I could see someone trying to put pepper flavor in coffee. That won't work. I could see someone trying to put chicken or beef flavor in coffee. That won't work, either. Have you every heard of mixing curry flavor with coffee? I haven't either. I am certain that someone is always trying many experiments to devise a new, great-tasting coffee, thus creating a niche in the market for them to make millions.

But why haven't we heard of some strange flavored coffees? Simple. They just won't work.

It seems to me that some favors are not meant to work with other flavors.

In a similar way there are some patterns of living that are not meant to work in any life. It is one thing to be a Christian in the counter-cultural 'lane', and it is another to be in a 'lane' leading to trouble, heart-ache and death -- the 'lane' God has warned us about.

What are the God-warned 'flavors' of living that won't work? In Rom 1: 19-32, Paul listed some impossible 'flavors', including:
  • men and women in homosexuality
  • unrighteousness
  • wickedness
  • greed
  • evil
  • envy
  • murder
  • strife
  • trickery / deceit
  • malice
  • talking bad about other people (gossip, slander)
  • hating God
  • insolence
  • arrogance
  • bragging / boasting
  • inventing ways to do evil
  • those who don't obey their parents
  • those who don't have (or choose to not to have) understanding
  • being untrustworthy
  • displaying no love for others.
  • displaying no mercy for others.
 Galatians 5:19-21 is another list of awful tasting 'flavors'. They are:
  • being sexually immoral (any sex outside marriage)
  • impure
  • doing anything to excite the senses
  • honoring anything as more important than God (idolatry)
  • 'druggies' (either prescription or illegal)
  • being hostile
  • personal animosity
  • being and creating jealousy
  • emotional explosions
  • the spirit of causing division
  • being preferential to hurt others
  • envious
  • drinking alcohol  and being in parties to become intoxicated. 
And as if these weren't enough, he added a phrase to including everything in-between ("and such like").

There should be no struggle in enjoying good tasting coffee. And there should be no struggle to enjoy life. All we have to do is not 'experiment' by trying to add things to this good life that will make it taste 'yucky!' We have already been told these experiments won't work.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wal Mart Sacks


I write this letter to you so you can know my story and the truth I face.

A few years ago my husband and I fell on financial hard times. He couldn't get a job. My job only kept food on the table. There were no extras. We couldn't buy clothes. For some reason the bank didn't foreclose. 

One day a gentle, sweet, older woman came to our door. She had heard of our situation and wanted to help. "No need to be embarrassed," she said. "Many others were having hard times too." So, she handed us four Wal Mart sacks and left. 

Inside were hand-made pants and a shirt for my husband. I found two home-made print dresses. By the time I wiped my tears away the lady was gone. I didn't get to say thanks. I felt bad.

Then, three days ago, I was visiting my neighbor, Sue. She told me of an older lady, a Jesus follower, had died. Sue said the woman had come to her home while her husband, Jack, was suffering from cholera, and had given them clothes. It sounded so familiar. I asked about the woman's appearance. It was her. Sue said her home was four blocks away. 

I rushed to her house to see what I could do. When I got there, they were waiting for a man named Peter to get there (relative??). I told the people what she had done for me and my neighbor. Several said Dor had done the same for them. Others said Tabby just wanted to help others. I went into the bedroom where they had her 'laid out'. It was her. I cried hard as I left, even though others were saying she was in a better place with Jesus (whoever he is).

Are they crazy? Nothing about death makes for anything 'better'.

Why is it that the good people die? 

Then today, I saw a sweet, gentle woman carrying some Wal Mart sacks. "No," I thought, "It can't be." From behind it looked just like her.

I found myself walking toward her. Her name came to mind. "Dor?" I called.  She turned. It was the same caring eyes. She had the same upturned nose, thin eyebrows, radiant smile, and chipped front tooth. "Dor, is that you?" I asked.

"Sure is," she said.

"But the last time I saw you, forgive me, you were 'laid out' on your bed. You were dead."

"Sure was," she replied.

"So how can you be standing here talking with me," I heard myself asking.

"My fellow-disciple, Peter, got there. They say he ran everyone out of my bedroom. Then he prayed in the name of Jesus for my spirit to come back to my body. Next thing I new, there was Peter in my bedroom! I shushed him out of the room. Can't have people talking bad about me, you know. When the people attending my viewing and visitation saw me, they gave a big 'Whoop'. They hugged me. Jesus, through Peter, had brought me back to life."

"Who is this Jesus," I asked.
This Bible-based fictional story reminds us of four struggles:
  • We need to decide if Jesus can bring people back to life, or not.
  • The effect we have on people when we do simple, kind things for them, especially when they are hurting.
  • The result of disciples doing what Jesus did can (will) change people's attitude about the Master.
  • Our neighbors may not know the real Jesus because we haven't show Him to them.
Which one are you working on?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alcohol's Debris

If I had no religious inclination I would not touch alcohol. Here is why.

The National Institutes of Health's division on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) said in 2004, "We do know that heavy drinking may have extensive and far–reaching effects on the brain, ranging from simple “slips” in memory to permanent and debilitating conditions that require lifetime custodial care." Additionally, ladies who drink during pregnancy contribute to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which "... can lead to a range of physical, learning, and behavioral effects."

A Wikipedia article Short Term Effects of Alcohol adds, "Moderate alcohol consumption 30–60 minutes before sleep, although decreasing sleep onset latency, disrupts sleep architecture" including, "...late night disruptions in sleep maintenance." Even with moderate amounts, "Short-term effects of alcohol include the risk of injuries, violence and foetal damage."

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America list many negative results of consuming alcohol. They list dizziness, slurred speech, disturbed sleep, nausea, vomiting, impaired judgment and coordination, and "increase the incidence ... of aggressive acts including domestic violence and child abuse." To this long list they added headache, thirst, fatigue, severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, convulsions, and "permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and liver," Fetal alcohol syndrome with its cases of "mental retardation and other irreversible physical abnormalities" and "children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other children of becoming alcoholics" conclude their list. says 25,000 people die unnecessarily each year in America from alcohol-related car wrecks.  George Washington Medical Center says, "Alcohol costs American business an estimated $134 billion in productivity losses, mostly due to missed work: 65.3 percent of this cost was caused by alcohol-related illness, 27.2 percent due to premature death, and 7.5 percent to crime."

Each of these problems carries with it its own destructive patterns involving family members, employment, government aid, law enforcement, and psychiatric effects. Who wants any of these problems?

But the fact is I am a religious person. I can avoid all these devil-derived problems if I will listen to God. What has he said about strong drink?
In the Old Testament:
  • Lev. 10:9 The priests should not drink wine before coming to worship.
  • Prov 20:1 "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise."
  • Prov 23:20-21 speaks of heavy drinkers coming to poverty. 
  • Prov. 23:30 and its context reveals who has deep sadness, contentions, complaints, and "wounds without cause."
  • Prov 31:4 reminds kings and rulers not to drink wine or strong drink.
In the New Testament: 
Jesus wants me to have a good life in the here-and-now, and eternity too. 

So what is The Struggle

Is it how much it takes to be drunk, 'buzzed', or unsafe? Can I drink a small amount of alcohol and not effect someone else? Is drinking doing something for the good of others (like Jesus would do), or for selfish pleasure? Who gets hurt?

Why hurt?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

All Good. No Bad.

Today was insane at the Galilee Gazette. It required more reporters than usual and none of the news stories they were bad. It was all good news. Imagine that: more good news than bad. The reporters had to re-think how to cover the stories. And there were so many of them.

This man, from a tough city west of here, was healing everyone of everything bad. If they had diabetes, he fixed it. If they had cancer, it was removed without surgery, radiation, or chemo. Epileptics stopped having seizures.

Take Dominique for example. Two years ago he was bucked off his horse, broke his neck, and hasn't walked since. But today he is walking, thanks to the new resident of Capernaum. His story was inspiring. His joy was unspeakable. His parents cried. His children screamed. Now, which aspect (inspiration, parents, children) should the reporter investigate??

And Jacqueline's story is no less awesome. After having her skull cracked from her father backing over her with the chariot, she has not said a word. Today, eight years later, she is talking clearly without a speech therapist. She told her own story, with her own voice, of being filled with years of pain and frustration, and now completely ok. The reporter thought he had a one-of-a-kind story, of healing relating to the new face in town.

How wrong the reporter was. The same man, doing so many good things, in the same town, with people from all over. And all the reporters were getting the same story.

It didn't matter if the person was a Jew or not. He just healed them all. Even the little girl with leprosy from over near Damascus (more than a two-day walk).

And the local economy has suddenly improved.The T-shirt shop was reported to have sold out of the "He Fixed Me" T-shirts for the third time. They can't make them fast enough. And the grocery store reporting business almost as brisk as Thanksgiving in America. Even the Gazette is considering running a special section if they can get the ads sold and produced by tomorrow's deadline.

Politicians are getting in on the frenzy. They say this man has come to Galilee to escape the certain persecution mounting against the family and followers of John after he was incarcerated recently by Herod. The Gazette's contacts in Jerusalem have not been able to confirm or deny these statements.

We are so ingrained at hearing all the negative things going on in our world. Today, at you can read these depressing headlines: reports Anger rises as adequate aid fails to reach Pakistan

Now, here is a tough one for me to answer. You might have trouble too.  How would I react to real news stories like these?

It might have something to do with my needs. If I was healthy, I might be curious, or indifferent. If I was in pain / sick / hurt/ etc, I might be scrambling to do anything to get there. I might be thinking, "This just might be the one who can help."

He represented hope to many, He was not important to others. But I might be viewing him through the eyes of my need. The greater the need, the more hope. The lesser the need, the more passiveness.

So how would you react?

Please tell us what you might be thinking in the comment box? Let's see if we can help each other.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Standing for ...

The Scene. Saturday, it was very hot under bright sun in Shreveport, Louisiana. Sweat pouring from the 30 PGR members holding American Flags in honor and respect. A green tent covered 15 chairs on green AstroTurf. In front was a two foot tall stand, also covered with AstroTurf. A small granite-looking box (1'x1'x1.5') with shiny brass handles was on the stand. An Air Force Color Guard, holding a folded American flag, stood at parade rest a few feet away. The collared-preacher read from the Bible and a prayer book. He allows a few moments for family or friends to eulogize the Air Force Colonel, whom we will call 'Col. Matt'.

The Speaker. A tall Polynesian man stepped forward. He spoke of the joy in becoming a friend of the cancer-ravaged Col. Matt. They cried over their 'dark' days, and laughed heartily and frequently at their better days.

"A few days ago while I was with Col. Matt, a man I didn't know walked into the Colonel's hospital room, and quietly stood at the foot of the bed. Without speaking, but with tremendous effort, Col. Matt summoned all his strength, enduring intense pain, swung his feet off the bed. I moved to catch him, but he waved me off with his hand and a stern look. With the last ounce of strength he gather himself, braced against his bed, and stood up. Col. Matt said, 'I would not stand for a General or the President of the United States. This is the only man I will stand for. He is my brother.'"

The dark Polynesian choked up, but continued, "No matter how believe in God, stand for something important. Make something worthy of your greatest efforts. Honor it. Stand for it."

I could see most PGR members. I could tell they were struggling with the same lump in their throat that I had.

The Struggle: Somethings are worth 'standing for.'  I want to honor my country by standing when the American flag passes. I want to 'stand up' for quality education. I want to 'stand up' for the young and innocent. I want to 'stand up' for individual efforts toward top quality.

Mostly I want to practice standing up for Jesus. I want to practice standing up for His type of mercy, kindness, compassion, love, etc. I want to 'stand up' in defense of my brothers in Christ. I want to stand up and be counted as one of his faithful disciples. These are some of what I want to do. Therein is my struggle: I must fulfill these 'wants'.

What will you stand for?

Tell us what you will stand for. In the comment box below, write down three (or more)  things, in addition to Jesus, you would stand for. Let's see what is important to the readers of this blog. This could be fun.

And tell your friends about this blog.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bubble Gum Police

Two teachers dealing with Jr. High and High School students were sharing their day's experiences. They disparaged the attitudes of a few superiors at their respective schools. They could not believe all the 'ridiculous' rules that some administrators re-enforce during year-beginning workshops and meetings.

One  made this statement. "When I have children in my class room who are parents, right or wrong, I don't feel it is critical for me to catch them chewing gum. I don't plan on being the 'Bubble Gum Police.'"

Everyone has disappointed God. Certainly that includes anyone who is sexual active outside the marriage relationship and many other inappropriate actions. 'Everyone' includes teachers, administrators, school boards, and communities, too. Students are still children, mistakes and all.

I agree with the teacher. I don't want to be a 'bubble gum policemen' when it comes to how I view other people. I should not condemn anyone for the little mistakes. Both those making little mistakes, AND those making big mistakes are loved by God. What right do I have to condemn?
What do you think? How about making a comment? Join us.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Unexpected Issues

He could not fail. He would not allow himself to fail.

It was true that he did not enjoy mathematics of any kind, but especially College Algebra. It was also true that he had not given the course the appropriate amount of effort for success, but he just couldn't fail.

He knew how his parents thought he was the greatest at whatever he attempted, including College Algebra. It would destroy them if he was not successful.

But now the course was nearing an end, and for him to be successful at this late date would require a miracle of some kind.

What was he to do?

A 'friend' experiencing the same difficulties told him of a third classmate who had a 'rare' copy of THE test.  After few quick looks, he suddenly 'understood' enough to make certain of his success.

What does it take to guard your heart?  This fictitious young man could have protected his heart with additional study throughout the semester instead of needing something extraordinary at the end.  His act of cheating came not from his so-called 'need' to succeed, but from a heart that looked for a short-cut to success.

It is the same with stealing at work, slacking when the boss is not present, or over charging a customer. All these inappropriate actions, along with many others, come from a heart not in tune with God.

Solomon wrote in Prov 4:23, "Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life."

If he had guarded his heart, he would not have needed to cheat. 

So, help me with this question. If the teacher knows students are using copies of old tests to be successful on the current tests (which are very similar), is it cheating? Is this a matter of not guarding the heart?

Become a follower of this blog. Make comments below, and comment on the thoughts of others.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hiroshima -- 65 years ago

At 8:15 a.m. (local) on this day in 1945 the crew of the Enola Gaye, a B-29, dropped the first uranium "atomic bomb" (dubbed by President Harry Truman) on a city of 300,000 unsuspecting Japanese.

I wonder
So many lives. So quickly gone.

What would it have been like to hear Truman's voice, at 11:00 a.m., informing the world about the potential deaths and destruction. After remembering September 11, 2001, I know I would have been in total shock.

There is no doubt Hiroshima was powerful 65 years ago.

What did God see on August 6, at 8:16? Didn't He see thousands suddenly 'popping' into eternity without (or with) knowing His Son? Yes. Did he think it was powerful, as we do? No.

If you think taking so many lives, or the explosive power of the bomb, was powerful, consider this. We have been told of a day when, along with a huge firestorm, everyone (6+ billion) will 'pop' into eternity. Consider how everything you can see (and can't see) will be liquefied (literal translation of 'melt').

My brother Peter asked the right question a few (thousand) years ago. What kind of person should we (I) be....?

Questions: Can you imagine the power of God when he ends what he created? Am I ready? Better yet, are you?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"What's keeping ya'?"

Many years ago I had an uncle who was tormented with physical and emotional problems.  He had to sell so much stuff to pay for his second wife's bills and extravagant lifestyle. Now, she had left him the second time. He had crippling arthritis, making walking painful and next to impossible. The medicine he took for his stomach pains made him either weak, nauseous or dazed. He didn't enjoy the doctor's office, a much too frequent occurrence. Even with his being a vet, he said he could hardly afford all the meds. And, to him, there was no end in sight. A man who had always been physically capable of providing and caring for himself was now loosing control of the only thing he had left.

He must of thought the .38 caliber bullet through his left temple would end all problems. He thought he had found an escape. How wrong he was!

My mother found him lying on the blood-soaked carpet in his little living room. It gave her nightmares. My father, a great man of faith, didn't know how to deal with the lose of his oldest brother. It shook him to no end. And that fact shook me. And all the financial problems of selling all his property was quite difficult for mom and dad. And all the talk around town about why. This was no escape.

Years later, I am like so many. Problems don't seem to know when to stop coming. If it is not one thing, it is the other. I, like my uncle, want to escape. But not the same way---not even close.

You see, I keep asking the Great Man Upstairs why it is taking him so long to get back. He told his disciples more than two millennium ago he would be coming back. Not to sound as though I know better than God when His son needs to come back, a part of me wants to say, "What's keeping ya'?" or "What are ya waiting for?"

If God's son was to show up right now, it would be wonderful. I wouldn't have to experience any more difficulties in this place, and, by His grace, could get a whole new life in a beautiful place with Him forever.

Do you want out? Jesus is the way out if we overcome. Are you ready to go out with me?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How did he get away with it?

How did he get away with it?

First, he wasn't a very promising at selling himself. He went places with very few people, dressed inappropriately, and his eating habits would make most people sick. Furthermore, when he got around the people with clout, he spoke to them in an almost-rude way.

He was the antithesis of political correctness.

And with all this, people flocked TO him. He didn't plead with them. He didn't chase them down. He didn't have any telemarketers. He didn't need any of it. He actually had people tracking him down just to listen to what he had to say. How did he do it?

There have been times when I have expressed my opinions. But unlike this man, sometimes they are looked at with disdain. I plead with people to see my point. I try to do the same things he did, in similar ways, and it is not respected, much less heeded.

So what is makes the difference?

Could it be that his message was one of being different? Instead of hanging on to what they had, he told them to share it. Instead of taking advantage of people in a business situation, he told them to act justly. He even told members of the law enforcement community to 1) don't intimidate, 2) don't accuse anyone falsely, and 3) be content with your pay. He spoke about a political leader's sinful marriage.

Was his message of being different the same as what people saw in him, someone who was different? Could that be what makes the difference?

Maybe I (we) need to look, act and be different so that our message will be heard. But not difference just for the sake of being different. Different in the areas that are truly important.

Oh yes, before I forget, John the Baptizer was not the 'great one' who was truly different. The Man who followed him was more deliberately different.