Water: Cool and Fresh

Fichtner-MainwaringSprayPark1Oh what a relief it is!  The cooler weather and the nice rain has been a welcome relief from the scorching temperatures.

It’s been so hot and dry, my garden has been withering, and I’ve had water on my mind.  How often and how much should I water?

While I was trying to find the answers to my questions, I found that the average household uses about 408 gallons each day and about 148,920 gallons a year.

So how is this water being used?  Most of it goes down the drain through:

  • The toilet……………….26.7 %
  • The Clothes Washer…21.7 %
  • Showers & Baths…….16.9 %
  • Leaks……………………13.7 %
  • Kitchen use ……………10.7 %
  • Cleaning………………….5 %
  • Dishwasher ……………..1 %
  • Other ……………………..4.3 %

As I was thinking of this, I remembered a conversation that Jesus had with a woman at a well.  She had come in the heat of the day to draw water from the public well, and Jesus said to her: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The water bill has already been paid, so come to Jesus and drink deeply.

Someone Is Watching

01eye

When I woke up this morning, I was thinking of God and how He watches over us and cares for us.  I realize there are those times of heartache, and we wonder where He might be, but life is not a Wizard of Oz experience. We can’t peak behind the curtain to see who is pulling the strings that form and fashion our lives.

If you think God is good and God is great in the wonderful moments, how great is your faith when pain causes you to doubt?  In times of trials and temptations,I find comfort in knowing that God is the Someone watching over me:

  • Chronicles 16:9:  For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him
  • Psalm 34:15:  The eyes of the Lord are on those who do what is right and good. His ears are open to their cry.
  • Proverbs 5:21:  For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, And He ponders all his paths.
  • I Peter 3:12:  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Three quick thoughts from the verses above:

  1. God is always watching you.
  2. God is always ready to hear your prayers.
  3. God always has enough power to give you the strength you need to manage your situation.

At times I’ve prayed:  “God I don’t understand the why and what-for of my situation, but I know that you know and I see that you see, so I’ll not fear because you hear–you are attentive to my prayers.”

A Sweet Aroma

young-chefI’ve never thought of myself as a gourmet chef, but when I need to I can prepare a decent meal.  I also know that if you add too much of one ingredient and not enough of another, a recipe can be ruined.

When Peter wrote his second letter, his advice was to never add-a-vice to your life.  Instead he advised people to add the right ingredients to their faith.  He said a compliment of “good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love” is a good recipe for life (I Peter 2:5-11).

I encourage you to devise a plan that can de-vice you of your vices, and I advise you to add-a-vise of strength to your faith.  When you add a cup of good character, and stir in some spiritual understanding, you might begin to smell the aroma of “passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love,” your life will have a sweet aroma that’s pleasing to God.

Fry Now. Pay Later: When the Sun Tans Your Hide

how-to-choose-sunscreenWhen you step back and take a good look at the frenzied journeys and unfounded fads that have caught the attention of the American public it makes some sense out of our sometimes senseless antics.  If a little is good then a lot must be great can be flawed logic, and the opposite can be just as true.

A case in point is the way that some within society have morphed from being sun worshippers to sun haters.  The Food and Drug Administration must have thought the sun was ultra-violent when it labeled ultraviolet sun rays as carcinogens.  This struck a chord of fear and created a sun-related paranoia focused on sunlight.

Many parents now anoint their children with sun protection more frequently than they change the baby’s diapers. While it is true that the sun can be deadly to some, the “Fry Now. Pay Later” campaign of the American Cancer Society might be a bit overzealous.

This is a care and careless paradox:  Over-protection can lead to under-production.  Without enough sun exposure, your body can become vitamin D deficient.  A deficiency of this vital vitamin has been linked with a number of serious health concerns—even cancer.

I became more attune to this subject a week ago today.  After a visit to the skin clinic at the VA, the doctor treated several places on my face, and gave me some advice:

  • Get rid of your baseball cap and start wearing a broad brim hat.
  • When outside either wear a long-sleeved shirt or apply a liberal coating of potent sunscreen.

Michael F. Holick is a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University Medical Center, and he says:

  1. Melanomas cause more than 9,000 deaths each year, but they account for only 5 percent of skin cancer (most occur on the least sun-exposed parts of the body).
  2. The Institute of Medicine recommends that children over the age of 1 and adults up to 70 should receive 600 units daily of vitamin D.
  3. Holick advises his patients to go out in the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  while covering the face and hands with sunscreen but leaving other parts of the body exposed (very little if any vitamin D is produced outside those hours).

Research has found that the sun’s UVA rays produce nitric oxide. Holick explains that, “This causes smooth muscle relaxation, leading to a widening of blood vessels and lower blood pressure. It improves circulation in the skin, thereby enhancing wound healing, especially in patients with diabetes. It also causes gastrointestinal smooth muscle relaxation and is involved in learning and memory. UVA radiation causes immune suppression, decreasing inflammatory skin conditions and allergic asthma.”

I’m not sure if a person is to take the bad with the good or the good with the bad, but Holick went on to say: “It would be wrong and foolish, of course, to say that sun exposure isn’t dangerous. Just as sunlight triggers the crucial production of vitamin D, it also sets in motion negative processes. Excessive exposure to the sun damages DNA in skin cells, which in turn can cause nonmelanoma skin cancer.”

While sun exposure can be beneficial as well as harmful to your body, a lack of Son exposure, spiritually, is downright deadly.  Jesus said, “God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life (I John 5:12).”

As I wrote this article, I kept thinking of my little buddy, Peyton.  I pray for him every day.  He is afflicted with Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP).  At present there is no cure for this rare disease that strikes only 1:1,000,000 in the United States.  If your child is numbered among the only, it can be a lonely journey as you fight for funding to pay for research to help your child.  Please join me in praying for all the XP kids.    

Apples, Tomatoes, and the Curse of God

fruitYou’ve probably heard the story.  It’s the one about Adam, Eve, and the tree of knowledge, and it took place in the Garden of Eden.  In an act of disobedience, Adam and Eve took of the forbidden fruit, and they were banned from and booted out of the Garden.

The myth of that Eden experience is that Adam and Eve ate an apple, but the Bible doesn’t specifically name what it was that they ate.  I disputed the apple assertion earlier this year after I had purchased a tomato.  It had such a deep red and luscious appeal that promised a taste bud-tingling-experience.  I took it home, sliced it, and added it to a sandwich.

After I took one bite of this fine-looking tomato, I drew a deep theological conclusion.  When God cursed the Garden, He must have also cursed a certain variety of tomato.  I’ll call it the supermarket variety because they all have one dominant and pervasive feature:  They are tasteless.  There is no flavor to savor.

The dilemma of tasteless tomatoes is explained in part by author Mark Schatzker in The Dorito Effect.  According to Schatzker, for the past 70 years commercial horticulturists have been focused on yield, pest resistance and appearance at the expense of flavor.

While store-bought tomatoes are no longer tasty, manufactured flavor has been added to Doritos and your munchies, so you’ll crave more.  Schatzker says: “Synthetic-flavor technology makes bland ingredients attractive without supplying the myriad benefits of the real thing. The twin forces of flavor dilution and fake ­flavor have short-circuited the biological basis for mutable appetite . . . Our bodies learn to draw connections between flavors and the physiological responses they signal . . . We can seek out and find what we need, nutritionally, and stop eating once we get it”

Schatzker seems to suggest that it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.  I would add that perhaps we shouldn’t try to improve on the design of the Master Designer.

Psalm 84:11

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

The Sweaty Truth

Don't sweat the small stuff

I’m not trying to raise a big stink about your sweat; however, I would like to share the sweaty truth about your perspiration:

  • Men sweat about twice as much as women, and both sweat less with age.
  • Your sweat contains an antibiotic peptide, dermcidin, that hinders the growth of bacteria on your skin.
  • Your feet have about 250,000 sweat glands that can produce up to a half pint of liquid each day.
  • You have two types of sweat glands: The eccrine glands which cover most of your body.  The apocrine glands are the second type, but they are only found in your armpits and genital region.
  • Fortunately your body produces very little apocrine perspiration: It’s the source of your stinky smelly body odor.

By now you may be asking yourself:  “What does Stan find so inspiring about perspiring?” Here’s your answer:  There is a correlation between the interaction of the apocrine sweat and the eccrine sweat and a statement that Jesus made.

  • Your body produces eccrine sweat in much larger quantities. This is good and bad.  It’s good because of its cooling effect; however, it is bad because when it spreads it mingles with the apocrine sweat and spreads it over more of your body; and, the smelly odor goes along for the ride.
  • The apocrine sweat has the same effect as the yeast that Jesus and Paul spoke of in the New Testament.

In Matthew 16, Jesus warned the disciples about the “yeast” of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  Paul taught the same concept when he wrote to the church at Galatia:   “A little yeast leavens the whole lump of dough.”

In the Bible, yeast is symbolic of sin, and Jesus and Paul used this symbolism to warn of the harmful effects of false teaching.  A little bit of it has a tremendous amount of influence.

What effect does the leaven of sin have on your prayer life? In Revelation 8, John likened the prayers of the saints to the sweet smelling incense that was burnt on the golden altar.  When they find their way to the throne of God, do your prayers have the smell of incense or do they have a stench?

The next time Mother Nature cranks the thermometer up to about 100 degrees and your shirt is drenched in sweat, you might want to give some thought to this stinking blog.

Blessings: It’s Time To Take Inventory

countWhen was the last time you paused to think about the many blessing that you have?  Have you taken the time recently to “name them one by one” as the old hymn says to do? I asked myself these questions after reading Psalm 68:19:  “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!

There are several verses in the Psalms that remind us of God’s many blessings:

  • Psalm 1 speaks of relationship: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
  • Psalm 2 speaks of faith: Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him
  • Psalm 28 speaks of prayer: Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!
  • Psalm 31 speaks of God’s kindness: Blessed be the Lord, For He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city!
  • Psalm 32 speaks of forgiveness: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

I’ll close with this link to the song Count Your Blessings and the words of Psalm 33:  “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”

Ophidiophobia: The Fear of Snakes

snake1Ever since Adam and Eve listened to the smooth talking serpent in the Garden of Eve, and they were snake bit by listening to his bad advice, people have been wary of snakes.  Evidently a man in San Diego should have exercised a little more caution.

When Todd Fassler was bitten by a rattlesnake earlier this month, he joined the ranks of the other seven or eight thousand people who will be bitten by a venomous snake this year.  Of that number only 5 or 6 will succumb to the poison and die.

Since he was bitten, Fassler has learned that snake bites can be both painful and sickening as well as expensive.  He almost relapsed when he learned his hospital bill came to a total of $153,000.

Some snake bites can take a toll on a person’s physical health, but there is another one that is even more deadly when the discussion turns to spiritual consequences.  The snake bite of sin only has one cure and it is Jesus.

To illustrate this, Jesus, referenced an incident in Numbers 21 when he was speaking to Nicodemus:  “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. In the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up; then all those who believe in Him will experience everlasting life.”

Before you toy with temptation and tinker with sin, you may want to think about the consequences:  The price might be much higher than $153,000.

Discreetly Discrete

character_stonesSometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with strange or random thoughts on my mind.  When this happened recently, I was thinking of two statements that Jesus made:

  • The first is an admonition to be discreet: Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
  • The second is a command to be discrete: Be in the world, but not of the world.

As I thought about these two statements, the words discreet and discrete came to my mind.  Even though these words are homophones, they are not synonyms.  Discreet implies wisdom in your behavior or speech.  Discrete means: distinct or separate.

What section of the Bible outlines a discreetly discrete Christian life?  I think it’s the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

What change can you make to help you become a discreetly discrete person?