The *At-Risk Asterisk

AsteriskSometime during the day, I usually stop by McDonald’s and grab a cup of coffee.  When I made my caffeine pit stop yesterday, a sign caught my attention.  It was promoting McDonald’s 2016 version of the Monopoly game.  At the bottom of the sign a red circle was emblazoned with the words, 1 in 4 Win*.

I’ve learned that a person can be at-risk, if he doesn’t pay attention to an asterisk.  After a quick search about the significance of the 1 in 4 Win asterisk and the odds of actually winning, I discovered the following:

  • The odds of getting the exact combination to win the $1 Million prize is 1 in 513,591,720.
  • The odds of winning one of the instant cash prizes is 1 in 45,000.
  • The best odds of winning are associated with the food prizes, and they equate with the advertised 1 in 4 Win*.

An asterisk offers essential data about information that has been changed, is missing, or has been updated.  It’s a coach that guides you through the mental gymnastics of comprehension.

When I think of the asterisk in this context, it reminds me of the work of the Holy Spirit who will offer an at-risk warning.  The ministry of the Spirit is multifaceted, and he empowers, guides, and convicts of sin.

Jesus said the coming of Spirit would be a great benefit to His disciples:

The truth is that My departure will be a gift that will serve you well, because if I don’t leave, the great Helper will not come to your aid. When I leave, I will send Him to you. When He arrives, He will uncover the sins of the world, expose unbelief as sin, and allow all to see their sins in the light of righteousness for the first time.  This new awareness of righteousness is important because I am going to the Father and will no longer be present with you.  ~John 16:7-11, The Voice

Whenever you feel an impression to take some action or you hear a small voice within you, it might be the whisper of the Spirit attempting to give you a new awareness of righteousness.

Paul contrasted the new awareness with the old nature in Romans 8, and I think I’ll use it as an * to share some essential information with you concerning the transforming power of God’s Spirit:

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. ~Roman 8:5-8, The Message

A Caffeinated Amen To The Rolling Stones

amen_to_that_mug-rca995e47fa6148d7babe2c6351f710e2_x7jg9_8byvr_324Coffee.  I like it!  I usually drink a cup or two before I leave my house of a morning, and then I stop and have a cup with a couple of guys before I go to the office.  Somewhere around 8:30, I’ll usually have another cup and a granola bar while I’m studying.

I’m not done…..due to the influence of my Grandpa Saferite I also drink a cup in the afternoon around 2 or 3.  Depending on what I eat for supper, I might have another cup then.

While I drink coffee, I’ve never really been much of a fan of Starbucks.  I know, however, that more than just a few people think Starbucks is a necessity of life.

Last year, coffee lovers spent $10,000,000,000.00 on beverages at Starbucks—that’s right $10 billion.   Coffee sales were a large part of this number, and the 4 billion cups that were used would be 35 times longer than the Great Wall of China.

If a person was to stop at Starbucks every day, his addiction could cost him over a $1,000 a year.  The problem with coffee or soda is more than the price you have to pay; it’s the lack of lasting satisfaction.

The Rolling Stones were right when they sang:  “I can’t get no satisfaction.”  This world simply has nothing to offer in the way of lasting satisfaction.

But, there is an out-of-this-world satisfaction that doesn’t cost you a dime, and it has long lasting benefits.  Paul said you can now “be saved and set right by His free gift of grace through the redemption available only in Jesus (Romans 3:24).”

Why not pour yourself another cup and think about it—the free gift of grace!

Are You On The Edge?

honingrodEarlier this year, I read the sad story of a promising young man named Logan J. Stiner. Even though he was a healthy 18-year-old and a state-qualified wrestler, Stiner died in May from an overdose of powdered caffeine. The corner, Dr. Steven Evans, said he doubted that Stiner had any idea he had consumed a toxic amount of the powder.

Stiner, a national honor society member who planned to attend Toledo University, may have been influenced by the antics and influence of some of the elite athletes among the ranks of the pros. The NFL has already suspended more than 20 players this year for violating the league’s policy on the use of performance-enhancing drugs and illegal substances. They were trying to get an edge by hedging the rules.

Paul used the context of athletic competition to call Christians to a lifestyle of self-discipline: “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself ( The Message ~I Corinthians 9).”

You can summarize what Paul said in five words: “No sloppy living for me.” It’s hard to get the winning edge when you’re dulled by sloppy living.

I used to make knives, and I know a sharp knife can lose its edge suddenly or slowly. When it is abruptly dulled, you usually know why because you have abused and misused your knife.

When your knife slowly uses its edge, you may not be aware of the dullness that has slowly crept in. Solomon spoke of this in Proverbs 27:17: I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of one who lacks wisdom. I saw that thorns had grown up all over it, the ground was covered with weeds, and its stone wall was broken down. When I saw this, I gave careful consideration to it; I received instruction from what I saw: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to relax, and your poverty will come like a bandit, and your need like an armed robber.”

This type of dullness can be the result of not taking the proper care of your knife or it can be the influence of the wrong kind of friends. The power of friendship is a principle of the Proverbs: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).”

What kind of a friend are you? Are you the iron that hones the life of your friends and posse, so their lives are more polished and glossy? Another key question is: How do your friends influence you?

The Morning Essential: Caffeine

timcupI’m going to confirm what you may have suspected for some time: I’m a head-case. Not only am I a head-case, I’m a government certified, card-carrying, head-case!

Without boring you with too many details, I sustained a head injury while I served in the Air Force, and I’ve been plagued with daily headaches since 1972. Many different formulas have been prescribed to try to help me manage the pain, but nothing seems to work.

One of the pills I’ve tried consists of a blend of acetaminophen, butalbital, and caffeine. The acetaminophen is used to relieve inflammation and pain; the butalbital acts as a sedative relaxant; and the caffeine enhances the effects of the acetaminophen and butalbital.

Without the caffeine, the acetaminophen and butalbital would have some effect; however, for maximum effectiveness, the pill needs the presence of the caffeine.

I see a correlation between the effectiveness of the caffeine and the empowering and enlightening of the Holy Spirit that Paul wrote about in Ephesians: “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.”

I guess you can say my morning routine includes caffeine and more caffeine. I begin by popping a K-Cup in my Keurig, going to my chair, and sipping my coffee as I ask for God’s Spirit to enlighten me as I read His word.

I know that I need to start every day with a fresh cup of His wisdom, and I invite you to join me—sip it in and live it out.