State of Emergency Declared: Heart of America Aflame

fdireSeveral years ago, Barber County, Kansas was home to me.  I lived in a spot in the road called Hazelton, and I was a frequent visitor of Anthony, Kiowa, and Medicine Lodge.  When I needed to stock up on groceries, I would drive to Alva, Oklahoma. Alva also had a tasty hamburger served at a café on the town square.

As I watched the news yesterday, I followed the raging prairie fire as it devoured rain-starved pastures and some 72,000 acres. I thought of my old friends in this rural pocket of Kansas, and I prayed for their safety and well-being.

The voracious appetite of a fire is a graphic illustration of some scripture found in James 3:6-10:

 A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!  It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.  This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!         ~The Message

The words you speak are ripe with the potential to be either healing or harmful. 

Think about the way you have spoken to people this week:  Have your words beaten them down and left them battered and bruised, or have you use the gift of language to encourage, instruct, and build them up?

If your tongue is in need of taming, it might help to ponder the principles below:

  • Foolish words cut like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18)
  • Pleasing words are like honey. They are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24)
  • A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth causes ruin (Proverbs 26:28)
  • Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29 ~The Voice).

Give some thought to the brute strength of your words: They can be as devastating as they are delightful, and even though they may be forgiven, they’re rarely forgotten.

Will people remember you for your soothing words that helped them to heal, or for language that was so heated it left them scorched and scarred…like the fires that have swept across the Kansas prairies?

Are We Drinking Ourselves Dry?

Are you an average American?  If so, you are now using 270 plastic bottles to consume an average of 35 gallons of bottled water a year.  The Beverage Marketing Corporation believes that by 2017 that number will climb to 300 bottles each year.

I’ll ask the question again:  Are you an average American?  If so, you probably don’t know that it takes about 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water—for the metrically challenged 1 liter equals a little over a quart.

According to the American Water Works Association, almost 2/3 of all bottled water sales are single 16.9 oz. bottles and are sold at a cost of about $7.50 per gallon. You might find that figure amazing, but it is staggering when compared to the cost of a gallon of tap water or the cost of a gallon of gasoline.

With the on-going droughts in California and other places around the world, and the inefficiency and high cost of bottled water, I have to ask:  Are we drinking ourselves dry?

I’ll ask the question one last time:  Are you an average American?  If so, you might be unaware of a wonderful life-giving source of water . . .

John 4:13-14

Jesus said:  Drink this water, and your thirst is quenched only for a moment. You must return to this well again and again.  I offer water that will become a wellspring within you that gives life throughout eternity. You will never be thirsty again.

The woman replied:  Please, Sir, give me some of this water, so I’ll never be thirsty and never again have to make the trip to this well.

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.

One Hand and One Drink

images (4)I had one of those nights.  I went to bed at my usual time and woke up at the normal hour.  Based on the number of hours I was in bed, I should have been able to call it a good night’s sleep.

But, it was one of those nights.  I had one crazy dream after another.  They were random and senseless, and I awoke feeling like I had not rested.

I did discover a new word.  It’s a word I’ve never heard before, and I wonder if there was something in one of those weird dreams that lead me to the word GURFA.

The origin of GURFA is Arabic.  It is used in reference to the amount of water that a person can hold in one hand. Other than discussing it here, I doubt I will ever give much consideration to GURFA again.

I’m not too concerned with the amount of water that person can hold in one hand.  I am, however, very interested in the one person who can hold, in one hand, all the water you and the rest of the world will ever need.

Jesus is this person, and He said:  “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life (John 4:13-14 ~The Message).”

Water: An Essential of Life

kenya-water-crisis-projectI think it was Abraham Lincoln who said that, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”  Whenever I think of this quote, the subject of statistics comes to mind.

People use statistics for different reasons. Someone has said that, “Figures don’t lie. But all liars figure,” and I think it was Vin Scully who said, “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”

Some statistics are profound and purposeful, while others are simple and of little value.  I’ll let you be the judge as to the value of the list below:

  • Studies show that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the population.
  • More than 10 people a year are killed by a vending machine.
  • The most children born to one woman was 69, she was a peasant who lived a 40 year life, in which she had 16 twins, 7 triplets, and 4 quadruplets.
  • During the first year of its life, a new baby will deprive each of its parents around 350-400 hours of sleep.
  • The human eye blinks an average of 4,200,000 times a year.

I think this second list contains some statistics that are truly worthy of your attention:

  • 783 million people do not have access to clean and safe water. 37% of those people live in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • According to the World Health Organization, for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return of between $3 and $34.
  • Nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths in children under the age of 5 is due to a water-related disease.
  • 1 in 9 people worldwide do not have access to safe and clean drinking water.

When I washed my truck today, I wasn’t thinking of the few people who die because of a vending machine.  I did, however, wonder about what I should do to help the 283,710,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa who don’t have access to clean and safe water.

I also thought of something else.  It was the discussion that Jesus had with a woman who was drawing water from a well.  In His typical fashion, Jesus used a common site and a traditional practice to teach a spiritual truth:  Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:13-14).”

Based on what Jesus said, 100% of all people need to look to Him for salvation (John 14:6).  Take a close look at Him; study Him intently, and drink the cup of salvation that He offers you.

Water of Life

People are more focused on the weather and the lack of moisture then they have been for a long time. I inquired last week about the water levels at El Dorado Lake and was told we are down more than 4 foot.

Even though we are in a drought, our water woes are nothing compared to the global need for water. The following facts are from water.org:
• More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world.
• Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours.
• Of the 60 million people added to the world’s towns and cities every year, most move to informal settlements (i.e. slums) with no sanitation facilities.
• 780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people.
• An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day.
• More people have a mobile phone than a toilet.

Knowing that water was a precious commodity in His time, Jesus used it to illustrate a truth: Everyone who drinks this water will become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water that I will give them will never become thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give them will become in them a spring that gushes up to eternal life (John 4).

The next time you open the faucet to get a drink of water, think of the less fortunate around the world; and, think also of the Living Water.