A Fact A Day

facts-hands-holding-letters-1500_largeMy post today is a simple list for the complex world in which we live.  Instead of hurriedly glancing at the list and moving on with your agenda for the day, I hope you will keep it in mind and take the time to consider each one again on its assigned day for the week ahead.

Fact 1 for Monday: Life is full of obstacles.

You will encounter many detours in your life’s pursuit—be resolute. Don’t allow detours and distractions to become attractions; remain focused on your goals

  • Philippians 3:13-14: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Fact 2 for Tuesday: Small sparks can start big fires, so mind your manners and tame your tongue.

  • James 1:26; 3:5: If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile . . . though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites

Fact 3 for Wednesday: Whatever grips your attention, grabs you.

  • James 1:1:14-15: Each one is tempted when he is lured, enticed, and trapped by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.

Fact 4 for Thursday: You may not be what you think you are, but what you think you are.

  • Colossians 3: 1-2: Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth

Fact 5 for Friday: The world may think you’re a zero, but God knows you’re a hero.

  • Judges 6:12: The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!

Fact 6 for Saturday: God has a plan and a purpose for you.

  • Genesis 50:15, 19-20: When Joseph’s brothers saw their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” But Joseph said to them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.”

Fact 7 for Sunday: It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

  • There are 86,400 seconds in a day and you can use them or abuse them.

I’ve only just a minute; 0nly sixty seconds in it.

Forced upon me, can’t refuse it; didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,

But it’s up to me to use it.

I must suffer if I lose it; give an account if I abuse it,

Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.

~Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

I think this quote is a good conclusion to my list, so I’ll end with it: “Let us take things as we find them: let us not attempt to distort them into what they are not. We cannot make facts. All our wishing cannot change them. We must use them.” ~John Henry Cardinal Newman

An Adventure in the Land of Why

maliLife is an adventure.  Some people seem to stumble their way through it, while others have the ability and agility to bob and weave their way through its obstacles.  Some people have the knack to fall face first into every mud hole that dots their path in life, while others can transform the sourest moments of life into a sweet experience.

Even though he could float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee, there were a few times Muhammed Ali felt the brute force of a punch that was akin to the kick of a mule. On March 24, 1975, Chuck Wepner introduced Ali to one of the universal laws of life:  Sooner or later you’re going to get hit by a punch you never saw coming!

Suffering is a thread that’s woven into the fabric of life, and it’s the sucker punch that can drop you to your knees.  

Peter said you should not, “be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you (I Peter 4:12).”

Even though suffering is anything but pleasant, James said to, “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (James 1:2–3).” 

It’s important to note that James did not say that the suffering or trial is a joyful experience; instead, he said the joy comes in acknowledging the end result of the trial—steadfastness.  The situations that shake your faith are the ordeals that form a faith that’s unshakable.

Your faith is like your muscle tissue—to get stronger, it must be stressed.

In hindsight, Paul could see the boldly colored thread of hope in the tapestry of heartache.  He could see God’s purpose in the suffering he had endured: “We want you to know, Christian brothers, of the trouble we had in the countries of Asia. The load was so heavy we did not have the strength to keep going. At times we did not think we could live.  We thought we would die. This happened so we would not put our trust in ourselves, but in God Who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).”

“This happened”, so Paul would know that God is able and that He would enable him.

Sackomania and The Quarterback Sack

palmerAfter watching the gleefully satisfied look of the defensive players on the Broncos and Panthers, I’m adding a new classification to the list of impulse control disorders.  This list usually includes dysfunctional behaviors such as kleptomania, pyromania, trichotillomania. 

Impulse control disorders are characterized by a person’s inability to avoid behavior that might bring harm to themselves or others. Typically, the pot of anxiety is about to boil over immediately before the behavior occurs.   Committing the act is like opening a pressure relief valve, and in spite of the potentially dangerous consequences, there’s an immediate feeling of relief and even happiness:

  • Kleptomania: People who struggle with this disorder will steal when they get anxious or frustrated and find relief by doing so.
  • Pyromania:  This describes the act whereby a person feels a sense of excitement or relief after deliberately setting fires.
  • Trichotillomania:  This is the person you’ve seen who is constantly pulling and twisting her hair to gain a release of tension or a sense of satisfaction
  • Sackomania is the new classification that I am adding to this list.

Sackomania is usually observed on Sundays, and it most often occurs between the opposing goal posts on a field consisting of 100 yards.  If you watched the Broncos defeat the Patriots or endured the massacre of the Cardinals as they were devoured by the Panthers, you saw a classic case of Sackomania.

Some of the actions of the defensive players were characterized by their inability to avoid behavior that might bring harm to themselves or others.  In these instances, the harm resulted in very little pain to self, but Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, were left in crumpled piles of agonizing pain.

The NFL is the dream of many young boys, but football odds are stacked against them.  Out of the  310,465 high school seniors who play football, only 6.5% of them will make to the NCAA division of football; and, out of that number, just 1.6% of them will make it to the NFL.

Even though you probably won’t make it to the NFL, there is a 100% chance that at some time in your life, you’re going to struggle with an impulse—Mr. Temptation is going to knock on your door and invite you to come outside and play. No one is immune to the enticing power of temptation:

  • David struggled with it, and in the Psalm 46, he found hope in God as his “refuge and strength, and a very present help in trouble.”
  • James said, “Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him. Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin (James 1: 14-16).”

The impulse to yield to temptation can be managed by putting on the “whole armor of God,” and “hiding God’s word in your heart (Ephesians 6:11; Psalm 119:9-11).” The next time an urge or impulse is pulling you away from the safety of the shore and enticing you to engage in some questionable behavior, let me suggest you get into one of God’s RAFTS:

  • Resist the urge:  Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4: 7).
  • Align with God:  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4: 7–8).
  • Follow:  Pursue what has God’s approval. Pursue faith, love, and peace together with those who worship the Lord with a pure hear (2 Timothy 2:22).
  • Trust:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  • Seek God in prayer: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

Big Daddy Bad Day

02There’s no failsafe vaccine for it, and everyone who has ever lived has felt the crushing power of the vice-like grip of Big Daddy Bad Day.  The physical symptoms are nothing like the chills, sweats, and fever that typify malaria, nor the feigned symptoms of malingering. When Big Daddy slaps you down, you feel a nauseating surge of melancholy with its brooding sadness and boiling madness.

The moment you hear Big Daddy whisper in your ear, you need to tune him out, and shake him off before he shakes you down.  If you listen to these mendacious musings, you will succumb to feelings of worthlessness, and you’ll hear him as a voice within that accuses you of being dirty, a failure, a quitter, and unlovable.

These fits of unjustified self-accusing are akin to a-cussing that’s detrimental to your mental well-being.  If you let Big Daddy beat you up and get you on the ropes, he’ll chuckle as you buckle under the weight of his lies.

To beat him, you need to learn to bob and weave, and to counter punch.  When Big Daddy throws a jab that says you are unlovable, give him a stiff uppercut to the jaw with Jeremiah 31:3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”

If he tells you that you’re a worthless failure and quitter, hit with a heavy cross.  Your worth, value, and victory is found in Jesus, who is, “the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).”

By now Big Daddy is weak-kneed, so you can finish him off with a massive 4-1-3 hook found in the book of Philippians:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (4:13).

The next time you hear the whispers of Big Daddy, stop him in his tracks by demolishing his arguments and false ideas, and his worrisome philosophy by taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

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.

What KitKat Learned From Adam and Eve

kit kat bigThe Washington Post ran an article titled CRISIS IN CHOCOLATELAND.  The article discusses the 5 “power” sectors of the grocery store checkout line.  These areas are lined with “grab-and-go items that account for 4% of a stores profit.

Because the checkout process has been sped up. Shoppers are not lingering-longer.  The result is the average shopper is not buying as many of the grab-and-go items, and this has decreased the sales of companies like Hershey’s.

Evidently Frank Jimenez, Hershey’s senior director of retail evolution, has been reading the Bible.  Some of the comments made by Jimenez sound suspiciously like the temptation of Adam and Eve.

Jimenez uses the “Eight Human Truths of Impulse” to explain why people succumb to checkout-aisle-urges. The goodies can delight, indulge, recharge or “rescue”; they can spoil (“I worked hard today”) or charm (“That’s a great idea”) . . .”

The key metric that determines whether or not a shopper purchases the sweet delight is called “dwell time.”  The longer the shopper waits in line and looks at the goodies, the more likely she is to indulge

If you’ve read the story of Adam and Eve, you know that when it comes to temptation, “dwell time” is don’t-do-well-time.  The longer Eve dwelled and listened to the sales pitch, the more attractive the forbidden fruit became:  She could smell its fragrance and imagine its flavor.

The moral of the story is this:  When temptation comes your way, don’t abide—run and hide.  Paul stated this moral in these words:  “No temptation has come your way that is too hard for flesh and blood to bear. But God can be trusted not to allow you to suffer any temptation beyond your powers of endurance. He will see to it that every temptation has a way out, so that it will never be impossible for you to bear it (I Corinthians 10:13).”

Decadent Desires

decadentEven though I’m no dentist, I know I have a serious problem. I have an unusually large and powerful sweet tooth! The presence of this tooth isn’t felt in the form of throbbing pain, but in the desire for food that is salty or sweet.

Sometimes I have an almost undeniable urge to indulge in my favorite foods (ice cream, popcorn, waffles, etc.). I sent a dietitian into orbit one day. I said: “I’ve heard cinnamon is good for you.” She replied: “Yes, it’s reported that it has some health benefits.” I said: “That’s good because since I heard cinnamon is good for you, I’ve been eating two of them every day.” With a stern look and a firm voice, she said: “That’s not the way it works!”

Temptation is a powerful presence that must be controlled. You either control your emotions or they control you. In the book of James, the writer says: “A man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires, which can be enormously attractive. His own desire takes hold of him, and that produces sin. And sin in the long run means death—make no mistake about that, brothers of mine!”

An article in The Atlantic, sheds some light on the temptation to yield to your food cravings. It seems there is a link between food cravings and sleep deprivation:

“In one 2012 study, researchers found that when people were sleep-deprived, the reward centers of their brains lit up more when they looked at pictures of junk foods than when they saw pictures of healthy foods (in well-rested people, the brain response was roughly the same for both food groups). And another study, also from 2012, found that lack of sleep led to reduced activity in the areas of the brain that controlled decision-making—and, as a result, to greater cravings for fattening foods over healthier ones.”

The next time I crave something sweet, I guess I should substitute a sweet dream for the sweet cream. I also need to remember something else that James said: “The man who patiently endures the temptations and trials that come to him is the truly happy man. For once his testing is complete he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to all who love him.”