Ragged Genes

genesSilly me, I thought the Washington Post article, “Cheating May Be in Your Genes” was speaking of unfairly playing a game.  You know, bending the rules to get an advantage; however, the focus is on cheating as in having an affair.  I guess that sounds a little nicer than calling it adultery or breaking one of the 10 Commandments.

According to research done by Brendan Zietsch at the University of Queensland in Australia, “an individual’s genetic makeup in general influences how likely he or she is to cheat.” The researchers at Queensland could have saved themselves a lot of time and money.  The answer to their hypothesis is in the Bible.  Ever since Adam and Eve messed things up in the Garden of Eden, 100% of men and women have been struggling with their desires and emotions.

Whenever a person, like these researchers, overlooks the obvious, I remember my old friend Ted and how he expressed his frustration.  His language in such instances was so razor sharp and electrifying he left the recipient of his diatribe shockingly bewildered.  His language was so colorful, it would make your teeter, totter.

My language won’t be nearly as graphic, but I will state the simple truth:  Your nasty sin nature wants you to wallow in the pig pen of life.  It lies to you, and tells you it’s okay to cheat, swindle, steal, and do whatever you feel like doing.  It’s the author of the bestseller: If It Feels Good, Do It.

Here’s a little secret:  It doesn’t make any difference whether you call it your genetic makeup, your DNA, or your sinful nature, you’re still responsible for your actions; and, there are consequences to your behavior.  Sin will always takes you farther than you want to go; it always promises more than it gives and, it always costs more than you want to pay.

It’s time to dial down the static noise and be emphatic about the truth:

  • When you cheat, you rob yourself of your character.
  • When you lie, you exist in a delusional environment.
  • When you steal, you rob yourself of your integrity.

If you will ask yourself these questions, they will help you temper your temptation:

  • Is 15 minutes of pleasure worth risking an eternity of joy?
  • Is the self-soothing value of false pretense worth losing the value of a good name?
  • Can I find genuine satisfaction and fulfilment in stealing something that belongs to another person?

Fortunately failure is not final, and you can learn this from the example of the Prodigal Son.  He was starving and stuffing “himself with the food the pigs were eating.  When he came to his senses he said, My father’s servants have more food than they can eat and here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go back to my father .’”

When you come to your senses, you can come back to your Father—He still loves you.

Kaden’s Cure: Spinal Muscular Atrophy

3D DNA colorful“I’m not used to someone seeing Kaden just for who he is and not for his disability.”  These are the words of a mother who is as grateful as she is heartbroken.

Katie Myers is the proud mother of an 18-month-old son named Kaden.   Katie’s joy of motherhood was interrupted when she learned that Kaden was born with  (SMA).

If you are like me, you know very little about SMA.  According to information at Kaden’s website, his disease:

  • is the number 1 genetic killer of children under 2 years of age. More than half of babies diagnosed with SMA won’t see their second birthday.
  • destroys motor neurons controlling voluntary movement and can hinder the ability to walk, crawl, sit, roll over, or exhibit head & neck control.
  • has the statistical probability of afflicting 1 in every 6,000 live births

The gratitude of Katie Meyers and her appreciation for the manner in which another boy interacted with Kaden is easily seen in the note she posted on Facebook:  “To the little boy at the science museum, I don’t know who you are, but thank you for being amazing. You let my son play and engage with you. You helped him pick up balls from the floor when you saw that he could not. You didn’t ask what was wrong with him or why he couldn’t walk, you just saw him. Kaden is a lot like you, he is very curious and wildly smart. He wants to know how everything works. Thank you for helping him turn the lever when you noticed he was too weak to do it himself. You will probably never see this but just by being you, you make this world better.”

I don’t know Katie or Kaden, but I do know that we can learn a lesson from them:  We need to focus on the innate dignity of the people we meet.

We can do something else:  We can pray for them.

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.    

An Instrument of God

images (5)When I read John 9 this morning, seven words popped into my mind:  “The absence of Jesus demands my presence.”

When faced with the dilemma of a blind man, Jesus said:  “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world (John 9:5).”  Because He is no longer in the world, I am responsible to proclaim the principles of light in a world of darkness.

God has equipped you and me for this ministry.  Peter said:  “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9 ~Amplified Bible).”

This theme was developed in the life of Noah who Peter referred to as a “preacher of righteousness.”  The world had witnessed wickedness, but God called Noah out of that darkness and into his marvelous light.  Noah was chosen to speak of the excellent qualities of God that were revealed in a single word picture—the rainbow.

In the language of the night and day or light and darkness, The Message emphasizes ythe ministry of those God has chosen:   “You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

Last week I spoke to a friend that I had not seen in several months.  I said:  “Good to see you.”  He replied:  “Good to hear you.”   He has lost what most of us take for granted—the ability to see.  His blindness gives him the unique perspective to contrast the experiential difference between light and darkness.

In a spiritual sense, the believer also has a unique perspective.  He has been “chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (GWT Version).”

It is difficult to explain the wonderful sweetness of honey to someone who has only tasted the sourness of a lemon. Because you have lived in a sour world and tasted the sweetness of God’s Spirit, you are God’s instrument and you have been chosen to reveal the “night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”