Counting Down

Calendar with strikethrough crosses fields. Vector ImageAn annual rite of the holiday season is the Christmas countdown. Each year, children count the days to Christmas with an eager expectation, that is only matched by their mothers’ stressful preparation.

Now that Christmas has passed, other countdowns have begun. Some people are counting down the days until the start of the new year, and others have already circled the number 14 on February’s calendar in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.

The number 14 is significant to another group of people.  They are counting down the 91 sunrises that stand between them and the start of the baseball season.

When they hear the number 14, they think in terms of a Rose and and a Banks. Pete Rose was a gritty presence on the diamond during his professional career; however, he was given a lifetime ban for committing baseball’s unpardonable sin.

Like Rose, Ernie Banks also wore the number 14, but his legacy remains untarnished. Even though he had not played for over 40 years when he died in 2015, Banks remains a cherished favorite of the Cub’s fans to this day.

Professional athletes know their fans can be rather fickle and their celebrity status is the result of their performance.  If they do not measure up to the expectations of their fan-base, they are quickly booed.

Fortunate for us, this is not the case with God—His love is not performance-based. He will not bench you because you strike-out, but He will toss you another bat, and say, “Ok slugger, give it another try. Focus and remember, you’re the eye of My, and I’ll be in the batter’s box with you; so, swing away (Psalm 17:8).

Valentine’s Day: Spoiler Alert

hqdefaultTHE WORLD ENDS TOMORROW!  If you want to do something special for your sweetie, you better do it today.

You may ask: “Why has Stan become a prognosticator of end time events?”  The answer is easy, and I’ll give it to you in one word:  “Ghostbusters.”

If you have about 12 seconds, you can watch the 1989 prediction that is the inspiration for this post.

 

While I have serious doubts about Ghostbusters ability to see into the future and the credibility of the movie’s prophecy, I do place great value on a time-related statement from Proverbs 27:1:  Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

I agree with Solomon: It’s best to make the most of today and don’t waste time in a boast about what you will do tomorrow. 

 

Lip Service: In Name Only

rhino-trumpI guess it’s somewhat fitting that the date of the Iowa caucus is just a few weeks ahead of Valentine’s Day.  Both are love-hate events, and the language of the participants is characterized by loving phrases of praise or acerbic accusations that are as sharp as Cupid’s arrows.

When lovers and politicians just talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk, they’re labeled as an in-name-only person. This type of false sincerity was the focus of John’s admonishment to young Christians (I John 3:18):

  • Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. ~NKJV
  • Don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love. ~The Voice
  • Let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words]. ~Amplified

Donald Trump and a few others vying for the office of President have been accused of being a RINO or a Republican In Name Only.  Individuals like these paint themselves in the colors of the Republican Party and sport a freshly inked GOP tattoo, but they don’t walk the party line.

On Valentine’s Day, a spurned loved may be accused of being a LINO or a Lover In Name Only.  The offender can try to persuade the offended with a box of chocolates and a dozen red roses, but the scent of the flowers can’t undo the smell of betrayal.

My concern is not so much that you might be a RINO or a Lino, but whether or not you are a CINOChristian In Name Only.  Are you a lip-serviceChristian, or are you sincere in your commitment to Him?  As you think about this question, you might want to examine your love-lines and wrinkles in the mirror of John 13:34-35:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Delightful and Frightful Goodness

GhirardelliChocolate-4You may want to take a look in your rear view mirror to assess the bottom line aspect of Valentine’s Day.  When I wrote Friday’s blog, I didn’t have the heart to do a lead story on the lead contamination of chocolate. An examination of this delightful treat may have frightful consequences.

A California based watchdog group has released a study concerning your chocolate yearning. An independent lab examined 42 products, and it found lead and/or cadmium in 26 that were above the levels considered safe by California standards.

The findings of the report have been disputed by several people:

  • Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications for Hershey, has said: “People have been eating cocoa and chocolate for centuries with no evidence of a single incident of concern regarding these naturally occurring minerals.”
  • Susan Smith of the National Confectioners Association offered this rebut to the study: “Heavy metals such as lead and cadmium are naturally-occurring elements found in the Earth’s crust. Since these elements are present naturally in the soil and water where plants are grown, there are unavoidable traces occurring in virtually all foods, including fish, meats, grains, fruits and vegetables. Like these other foods, cocoa beans, one of the main ingredients in chocolate, may also contain small amounts of heavy metals depending on the natural conditions in which it is grown.”

Diets have been debated since the creation of Adam and Eve.  If you remember, there was quite a discussion over what could or could not be eaten in the Garden of Eden.

There was also a controversy in Corinth concerning what was permissible to eat, and Paul said:

“I’m not going to walk around on eggshells worrying about what small-minded people might say; I’m going to stride free and easy, knowing what our large-minded Master has already said. If I eat what is served to me, grateful to God for what is on the table, how can I worry about what someone will say? I thanked God for it and he blessed it!

So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too.” ~The Message, I Corinthians 10

There is no need for a state of gloom when you consume that piece of dark chocolate because most research speaks of its benefits.  A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber.
  • 67% of the RDA for Iron.
  • 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
  • 89% of the RDA for Copper.
  • 98% of the RDA for Manganese.

My conclusion?  “Please pass me another Ghirardelli.”

Valentine’s Day

images (4)Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so this is your reminder to get a little something for that special someone who brightens your life.  Let me share some statistics with you to give you some insight into the 14th day of February:

  • Some 180 Million Valentine’s Day cards will be shared
  • 85% of the Valentine’s Day cards are purchased by women
  • Somewhere around 196 million roses are used for Valentine’s Day
  • 73% of the flowers that are purchased are bought by men
  • The average consumer will spend about $116.21

What is Valentine’s Day worth to the retail industry?  It is estimated that $403 million will be spent on flowers, and the jewelry stores will ring up sales in the area of $2.2 billion.

With all of the petal-pulling-she-loves-me, she-loves-me-nots, keep this truth in mind:  Regardless of the day of the week, God always loves you!

Jeremiah 31:3 is God’s Valentine to His people: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”  God’s love will not tarnish like metal, wilt like a flower, or grow dim like a gem.  It is constant and eternal, and you are the object of His love.