April Fool’s Day

Funny-April-Fools-Day-PhotosToday is the day of practical jokes and epic spoofs—it’s April Fool’s Day.  I learned early in life that the spoofer seems to get more joy out of this day than does the spoofed.

While under the influence of an older sister, poor little innocent me was persuaded to put salt in the sugar bowl and sugar in the salt shaker.

I snickered when I saw Mom slice a grapefruit in half, get a spoonful of salt out of the sugar bowl, and spread it on her grapefruit.  I laughed out loud when she took the first bite and quickly spit it back out.

Mom didn’t see the humor, and my laughter had implicated me as a guilty partner in this devious plan that was hatched in the mind of my older sister.  Shame on her for being such a poor influence on poor little innocent me.

The public has been duped on this day on more than one occasion:

  • On April 1, 1996, Virgin Cola issued a warning to consumers in the British newspapers. They announced that on the sell-by-date, a new technology would cause a reaction that would turn the can blue.  This spoof was a slap at Pepsi who had recently unveiled its newly designed bright blue cans.
  • Also on April 1, 1996, Taco Bell ran a full-page ad in six major newspapers to announce it had purchased the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. This spoof outraged patriotic citizens across the USA, and many of them called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia to express their anger. Nerves were calmed after Taco Bell revealed it was just a practical joke
  • On April 1, 1987, the Daily Mirror broke the startling news of a romance between Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. To support the fabricated story, the newspaper had hired models that looked like Thatcher and Gorbachev.1987thatcher_400

God may have a sense of humor, but He doesn’t think the life of a fool is a laughing matter.  Since this is April Fool’s Day, I thought I would post a verse or two about fools from God’s perspective:

  • Psalm 14:1: The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
  • Proverbs 1:7: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of much learning. Fools hate wisdom and teaching.
  • Proverbs 13:20: He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the one who walks with fools will be destroyed.
  • Proverbs 14:16: A wise man fears God and turns away from what is sinful, but a fool is full of pride and is not careful.

I think this last verse is a fitting conclusion: He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be kept safe (Proverbs 28:26).

Barbed Wire and Ballerinas

ballerinaSince I live in the land of bluestem grass, it’s a common sight to see cattle grazing in pastures.  Many times these cattle are seen with their necks sticking through a barbed wire fence to eat grass just beyond their reach; hence, the cliché:  The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. 

I think the old cliché is the life philosophy of some people.  They’re not content with what God has given them, so they keep searching for that elusive something that is just beyond their grasp.

When God designs a person with the body of an NFL lineman, He never intends for them to dance in the shoes of a famous ballerina.  If God christened you as an acorn, don’t feel like you’ve been slighted because you don’t have the fragrance of a rose: rejoice in the deep roots you’ll grow.

Grasp this truth—you’ve not been manufactured on the assembly line of life.  You’re a unique creation; the handiwork of God; designed for a specific purpose; and, blessed with the appropriate amount of grace to accomplish the mission to which you’ve been called.

Let me remind you that God has blessed us with gifts that “vary depending on the grace poured out on each of us, so it’s important that we exercise the gifts we’ve been given (Romans 12:6).”

You can exercise these gifts by slipping on your shoes, lacing them-up with the grace of God, and running the race that He has set before you.

God is able to make all grace overflow to you, so that, in all things and at all times, having all you need, you may overflow in every kind of good work.   ~2 Corinthians 9:8

Faith, Fractures, and Football

romodow1.0As the camera focused on the face of Jerry Jones, the agony of the Cowboys owner was only exceeded by the pain of his quarterback.  Tony Romo had just been sacked, and the force of the tackle had broken his clavicle.

While I watched Romo walk off the field, I wondered about the severity of the break.  I also thought of a phrase in the New Testament where Paul instructed Titus to “set in order the things that are lacking.”

This phrase describes the need of Romo.  “Set in order” is the Greek word epidiorthoo, and it is a construction of three words:

  • Epi which means upon.
  • Dia which means through.
  • Orthos is the main part of this word, and it means to straighten or make correct.

Orthos is the prefix of words like:

  • Orthodontist who is focused on the correct alignment of teeth
  • Orthopedist who is concerned with a straight skeleton
  • Orthodoxy which is associated with the correct teaching of the faith or of theology

In Romo’s case, the doctors will make sure the clavicle is aligned and straightened, so it will mend properly.   Romo will also need to give the injury time to heal.

Some people invest more time caring for their physical needs than they do their spiritual fitness.  This mindset can lead to a fractured faith.  To prevent this from occurring, the book of Hebrews says you should “strengthen your tired arms and your weak knees, and straighten the paths of your life, so that your lameness may not become worse, but instead may be healed. Pursue peace with everyone, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:12-14).”

If you fail to do this, you may be sidelined along with the Cowboys quarterback.

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.

GNAT: Scripture That Bugs Me

Gungus Gnat - Boletina species - Mycetophilidae - 012340

If you are outside much in the Summer months, you know how pesky a little gnat can be:  They get in your face; draw attention to themselves; and, they won’t leave you alone.

Because they are just as pesky, there are some sections of the Bible that I refer to as GNAT Scripture, and Psalm 19:1-4, is one of these.  This Psalm is small, but pesky, in the way it prods you with its important principles.

When you read the verses below, notice the GNAT (Great, Noble, And Truthful) principles it contains:

The heavens are telling of the greatness of God and the great open spaces above show the work of His hands.  Day to day they speak. And night to night they show much learning.  There is no speaking and no words where their voice is not heard.  Their sound has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

Here are a few of the pesky thoughts that prod me whenever I read this Psalm:

  • Just as the heavens testify of God’s greatness, the fruit you bear reveals your relationship with God . . . are you sweet, tart, or bitter?
  • Notice the frequency of the testimony . . . day after day and night after night. There is no room for a Sunday Saint in the understanding and application of this Psalm.  Do you live and breathe in such a way that the love of God flows from within you and is easily seen?  Is it the rhythm of your life?
  • Notice the far-reaching influence . . . through all the earth and to the end of the world. How far-reaching and powerful is your influence for Christ?

If your voice was the only voice that could be heard and your testimony was the only one that could be seen, how would your influence change the world?

The Man With The Better Idea

thomas-edisonI have always been amazed at the brilliant and inventive mind of Thomas Edison.   During his lifetime, Edison developed many devices including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and his discoveries were the prototype of the modern day power grid.

To offer some insight into the mind of Edison, I have selected five simple but intriguing quotes that are credited to this wonderful man:

  • The man who doesn’t make up his mind to cultivate the habit of thinking misses the greatest pleasure in life.
  • The world owes nothing to any man, but every man owes something to the world.
  • I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.
  • Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
  • I believe that the science of chemistry alone almost proves the existence of an intelligent creator.

In 1914, Edison’s factory burned to the ground destroying his one-of-a-kind prototypes.  Edison’s response to the catastrophe revealed his character: “Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start fresh again.”

This remarkable statement by Edison, reminds me of Paul’s assessment of his life.  Notice the value he places on what he lost and what he gained, and how he contrasts the earthly and the eternal:  “But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ.  More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith (Philippians 3:7-9).”

What do you value most, the earthly or the eternal?  Paul said: ” For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

The Sinister and the Saint

eyeI’m not sure if I should label it progression or regression, but I have gone from wearing no glasses, to bi-focals, and for several years now I have moved into the tri-focal stage.

Each step in this vision process involved a trip to the eye doctor and a prescription for new glasses.  The last time I got a new prescription for eyeglasses, I noticed the abbreviations OS and OD. The OS is for the left eye, and it is a Latin abbreviation that means “oculus sinister.”   The right eye is OD and is the Latin “oculus dextrus.”

The fact that I have a sinister left eye, made me curious, and I looked at the etymology of oculus sinister and dextrus:

  • The Latin meaning of sinister speaks of that which is “contrary, false; unfavorable; to the left.”
  • Dextrus has the meaning of being “right or ready.”

In these two words, we see the struggle that each of us face.  It is the conflict between evil and good or flesh and spirit.  In Romans 8:5, Paul said:  “For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”

Since your “outlook” is determined by the flesh or the spirit, you may want to take an “in-look” at what the Bible says about desire:

  • James 1:14-15: Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him.  Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin. When sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
  • Proverbs 27:20: Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
  • 2 Peter 2:14: Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, they entice unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices.

Which one of your eyes guides you?  Do you see the world through the sinister side or the saintly side?   I encourage you to take a look at your life, and consider using the words of Psalm 119:36-38 as your prayer for today:

“Turn my heart toward Your Law, so I will not earn money in a wrong way.  Turn my eyes away from things that have no worth, and give me new life because of Your ways.  Keep Your promise to Your servant, the promise You made to those who fear and worship You.”

Is A Name Just A Name?

Hello_my_name_is_sticker.svgLike many people, Psalm 23 is a favorite of mine.  As I was reading it earlier today, the last four words of  verse 3 caught my attention:  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

When left to themselves, those last four words, “for His names sake” are just a vanilla phrase.  To really see the beauty of God, it helps to take a quick look at His name.  As written in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the names of God are colorful and explicit in their terminology, and they emphasize the way He interacts with His creation:

  • Jehovah-rophe (the Lord who heals you)
  • Jehovah-raah (the caring Shepherd)
  • Jehovah-jireh (the will provide)
  • Jehovah-shalom (the Lord is peace)

Take these four names of God and make a personal application to your life:

  • When you are struggling with emotional or physical issues, you can call out to Jevovah-rophe.
  • When you feel like you’re alone and no one cares, Jehovah-raah is present.
  • When you don’t know where to turn or what to do, Jehovah-jireh will provide.
  • When the world seems to be shattered and crumbling beneath your feet, Jehovah-shalom is the peace in the eye of the storm.

I hope a focus on “his name’s sake”  will be at the center of your thoughts today.

Indexing The Heart

images (2)Many years ago, I was told that good speakers have at least three characteristics in common:  They stand up, speak out, and sit down.

The book of Proverbs is full of good principles for you and the way you speak.  Proverbs 4:24 is a good example:  “Remove dishonesty from your mouth. Put deceptive speech far away from your lips.”

When you consider the underlying principles of this verse, you see that:

  • Dishonesty needs to be removed: Whenever it moves in you need to move it out.
  • Dishonesty is a nasty dish of lies that should never be allowed to nest in your mouth.
  • You should never be receptive to deceptive speech: Put it far away from your lips.

In Proverbs 10, Solomon highlights the benefit of wholesome speech:

  • The mouth of a righteous person is a fountain of life (verse 11).
  • The tongue of a righteous person is pure silver (verse 20).
  • The lips of a righteous person feed many (verse 21).

If you’ll take the time to compare the words of Solomon to the teachings of James, you’ll see a well-defined contrast:

  • Solomon likened the tongue of the righteous to pure silver.
  • James said the unrighteous use of the tongue will “defile the whole body.”

Listen to the manner in which you speak and the tenor of your conversation.  When you become more aware of what you say and how you say it, you get a better idea of the real you.  This is because your speech or your tongue is the index of your heart.