Monday, December 30, 2013

Snake's on the loose

If you live in Florida, or are at least slightly familiar with the influx of non-native species therein, you will recognize the seriousness of the increase in the python population located in the Everglades. I say all that to make you start considering the potential, and possibly fatal, impact these serpents might have on surrounding areas. Why am I bringing this up to you? Well, apparently a security guard in Bali, Indonesia was killed by one while another guard watched.

I know, I know, it sounds hard to believe. I mean, if you saw someone being slowly suffocated by an enormous, cold-blooded killer, a scaly, slithery snake, wouldn't you do something about it? Perhaps you have guessed where I am going with this? Friends, this world is full of serpents; it has been invaded by these death bringers, these life suffocating vermin.

The enemy and his minions are far more invasive than we realize and while we shake our heads at the thought of watching someone die a slow death, we do it every day! I want you to think about the people you know that are sexually immoral, addicts, liars, thieves, greedy, selfish, full of any iniquity you can imagine, and then realize that each one of those improprieties is a snake slowly stealing life breath from those people as you watch!

So, before you go pointing fingers at the guy in Bali who watched a co-worker die, realize that you're equally guilty and that if you don't do something then the results will be the same. People will die and, as the CNN article points out, "The python remains on the loose..."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Carefully Considered Pleasantries are Not Fake

This is going to veer from the whole news with a twist of Faith concept established on this site. I just wanted to forewarn you in case you thought you might find some quote from CNN in here. That said, something has recently been revealed to me and while it might seem insignificant to some, it is quite relevant to me.

Have you ever desired to avoid certain situations or people simply because you didn't want to be fake? Have you ever been bothered by fake people to the point you wished you could stab them in the eye with a screwdriver when their insincere smiles accosted you? I suspect we've all been bothered by such instances and people. No doubt, it is more desirable to surround oneself with those who are authentic. This is where my eyes have been opened.

I used to talk extra sweet to the lady on the other end of the microphone in the drive-thru at the bank. I asked my son, once, if it bothered him. He said it did, because it wasn't my normal voice and therefore it came across as fake to him. Like everyone else I know, being labeled fake is not at all appealing and thusly I made a point of retaining my normal voice (though I am still nice) whenever in the bank line. But, the real question for me is, when am I being fake and when am I being sincere and authentically kind?

So I ask you, does every instance of purposeful, chosen kindness, every decisive smile and carefully considered pleasantry, equate with what most deem fake? I submit to you that the answer is, no! I have come to believe that we are being taught by the world that when we choose to smile at strangers, when we purposely step out of our comfort zones to speak to cashiers cheerfully, that we're being fake and I think it is that lie that has eliminated a vast majority of Christ-like kindness from our lives.

Yesterday I went to Publix (a grocery store in Florida in case you're unfamiliar); I go there a lot. I spoke to the lady serving samples of some delicious crab appetizers, I waved at the people in the deli. Then we arrived at the bakery where I chose some bread that, unfortunately, had not been pre-sliced. Thusly, I requested, with a smile, that the woman behind the counter slice it for me. She joked with me sarcastically saying that she wouldn't. Of course, she took the bread and then walked to the slicing machine. She then asked about our Christmas. I told her it was good and returned the question. She shared that it had been a difficult one, the first one without her family. That she'd had to share it with her roommate and so she'd made a "from scratch" pumpkin cheesecake that was gluten-free due to her roommate's intolerance for gluten. She was surprised at how well it turned out.

It was a lengthy conversation I guess, since most people don't chat up grocery store employees. When the bread was sliced and repackaged, we were on our way and then there was a conversation with the lady in front of us in line. She had the bagger checking a price for her and said, "I'm holding up the line," as if she were ashamed.

I assured her that it was no big deal, "we hold up the line all the time," I told her.

She was amazed by that attitude, as was the cashier. When she left, the cashier continued chatting with us. However, the bagger had disappeared and so I told Jaidyn (my ten year old) to bag our groceries, "You should learn to do it anyway so you can get a job here," I told him. The cashier revealed to us that this would be possible once Jaidyn is fourteen years old.

Yet, as we were leaving the store I informed him that his attitude, his frowny, my-life-is-the-worst-ever countenance would never get him hired there. "Well, I don't want to be fake!" He declared and this opened up the conversation that led to the writing of this piece.

"Was I fake in there?" I asked him and he told me that I was.

"People don't go to the grocery store and talk to the workers," he informed me, "They don't make friends everywhere they go," he adamantly scolded. I took a moment to consider the condition of my heart as I'd been in the store. I do sometimes (more often now than ever before) evaluate my own motives.

"J.," I said, "I was being genuinely kind to those people. I chose to smile at them and talk to them. Jesus wasn't fake; He talked to people He didn't know all the time." I went a step further for him though, "Remember the girl in the bakery?" I prodded.

"Yeah," he responded reluctantly.

"That girl needed someone to hear her." I told him.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"She needed someone to know that this Christmas was a sad one for her, that she missed her family; she needed someone to hear that." I explained.

Here's the thing I guess I'm learning. Just because I'm not always full of smiles, just because I am not always kind, considerate, caring or even willing to listen, that does not negate those instances in which I choose to be so for the sake of others. That does not make my smile, my verbiage, insincere, fake or screwdriver-stabbing worthy. Sometimes we have to step out of ourselves, our goals, our needs, our comfort, to reach out to other people. And, when we do, if our hearts are right and our motives pure in those actions, then we will be just a little bit of Jesus for those who are hurting, for the young woman who missed her family at Christmas, or the lady that needed a little bit of grace because she really wanted that $1.50 off her soda purchase but need the price verified.

Purposeful kindness, actions that are premeditated for the sole sake of being nice, are not inauthentic, they are not fake and it's time we stop believing that they are. The world is preventing us from loving each other because we can't say that we are always loving. Jesus probably wasn't always interested in healing but He chose to do so anyway because He knew He was benefiting other people. Sometimes a random smile, a kind word, can heal multitudes of wounds. Don't worry about being fake, make up your mind to be kind and let your children see you do it so they learn the dying art as well.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

People Injured in Fish Attack

Yes, you read that title correctly. According to CNN, 70 people were attacked by carnivorous fish while swimming in an Argentine river. The fish, apparently, is related to the piranha. Interestingly enough, the name of the river that is home to these flesh eating fish...Parana, different spelling, same pronunciation! Not exactly a river I'd be prone to diving into but the article says that it's a busy spot this time of year as it's summer in Argentina.

Thankfully, no one was killed; though a little girl did lose part of her pinky finger, and the picture in the article shows a man with a nice chunk out of one of his toes. This incident happened on Christmas day but the president of a local fisherman's group and the sub-secretary of Natural Resources all played down the incident saying it's only an occasional thing. As in: occasionally you'll go swimming here and flesh-eating fish might decide to take a nibble, no biggie! I bet it's a big deal for the 7 year old missing a part of an appendage.

So, here I am reading about these fish attacking people and I'm wondering if perhaps believers should be a little more aggressive in their attempts to reach people with the Gospel. Not that I am saying we should go up and take a bite out of them but neither should we be hiding behind our bumper stickers and cross necklaces. There's got to be more to us; our lives should be a little bit more impactful, putting holes in non-believers' comfort zones. Being so radically pure, kind, patient and loving that people are thrown off by our presence; that our differences infiltrate their happy little apathy, their blissful ignorance, and the Light we shed on them leaves them bleeding for a Healer so that our Savior can swoop in and rescue them from the world's piranha field.

I know I'm a little off; I never claim to be anything but. So, when I see the whole fish attack from a Spiritual perspective it's so much bigger than the ichthus swallowing the Darwin footed fish; it's a full on assault on the lies that people are blinded by. Another thing that grabs me here is that the people in Argentina frequently swim in a river named Parana; it's like the people that named the river were warning each other and yet nobody cares. So, when violent fish attack, people shouldn't be surprised. Thusly, when everything in the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, then people shouldn't shake their heads in disbelief, because God warned them it was all going to burn. I think that's why the King wanted us to be fishers of men; we've got to pull these guys out of the Parana pits!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I lost count of the amputations

In Syria more than 100,000 people have been murdered since 2011. That's a lot of people for a country that covers less than 72,000 square miles; that's only slightly larger than Florida (which is just under 66,000 square miles). Think about that for a second, let that sink in, what if 100,000 people in Florida were murdered over the course of a few years? Would people here be a little more active on the help-front? Let me put that in perspective for you, ok? In two years, the murder rate for Florida was 1,993 people. I hope your jaw dropped like mine did.

The Syrian government has gone crazy, they are killing civilians without any consideration or contemplation, they're just killing whoever they desire, while claiming they are targeting terrorist groups within the city of Aleppo. Dr. Ammar Zakaria told CNN that there was a big massacre today, supposedly 166 died. These bad guys are using helicopters to drop barrels of explosives filled with shrapnel on innocent people and these barrels have enough strength to take out entire buildings! People are dying in the streets, not able to even make it to the hospitals in which there is no room for them anyway. The article says there are pictures of doctors trying to operate in pools of blood. Can I get your attention here, people!!!

We are sitting here cry-babying about Obama-care, Duck Dynasty and the fact it's 80 degrees in Florida rather than nice cold weather for Christmas while there are so many people being dismembered that the doctors have lost count of the amputations they are having to perform! Our Babylonian ways disgust me, I make myself want to hurl because I am more worried about whether or not my highlights are even than I am concerned with spending that money to assist a refugee in a war torn, wholly destroyed country. What's wrong with us? Why are we so blind? Why do we feign ignorance, and grab hold of stupidity?

"The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good." (Psalm 14:1~ ESV) America, Americans, we are those fools! "Even as fools walk along the road, they lack sense and show everyone how stupid they are." (Ecclesiastes 10:3~ NIV) The world knows how stupid we are and that's why they keep selling us their wares while we destroy ourselves from the inside out focusing on everything but that which matters. "For the fool speaks folly, and his heart is busy with iniquity, to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the LORD, to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink." (Isaiah 32:6~ ESV). We are indeed depriving those who need us, we are ignoring the hungry, the thirsty and the bombed!

I really hope you'll go read this article but here's the stuff that really accosted me:

"There was a big massacre today," Dr. Ammar Zakaria told CNN via Skype on Sunday from the country's largest city and rebel stronghold. "We were treating shrapnel wounds, deep abdominal and brain injuries. I just lost count of the amputations."...Images taken by Zakaria show a mangled ambulance stopped in its path and doctors operating in pools of blood, watching children cling to their last breath through a breathing tube."

Father, help us grow some; help us desire to do Your will, to make a difference in this world; help us stop being so self-centered and ambivalent when others are dying and in need of Your love, Your assistance, Your people! Oh Mighty King, we are terrible examples of Your Son and we need You to change who we are so that we will better represent You to those in need. Also, Father, stop the war and violence in Syria, protect Your children there. We ask this in Jesus' Name. Amen!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Cook that Can't Eat: Chelsea Wheeler

We often crave things that are so far out of our hemispheres that the continued desire will ultimately result in excessive amounts of dissatisfaction with the lives we lead. Yet, that truth doesn't seem to hinder us from developing and chasing our dreams like children. This evening I read an article about a child with a tremendous, glorious, farfetched, wish-upon-a-star worthy desire. I'd like to talk to you about Chelsea Wheeler.

Chelsea is 10 and has some crazy health issues! According to the CNN article, she's been diagnosed with: mitochondrial disease, tachycardia and intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Big words, I know, but basically she can't eat food and her intestines have failed, she has an energy production problem and an overactive heartbeat. This kid has to wear a backpack full of intravenous food for 16 hours every day and, here's the knockout part, she wants to be a chef and open her own diner!

Chelsea's situation is far more difficult than most of us could ever imagine.  In fact, she's currently in need of a small bowel transplant.  Given the intensity and rarity of her ailments it'd be easy to understand a significant level of depression however she seems amazingly calm. She says, "I'm all messed up, but you know, I just have to wait for my transplant, and then most medical things will go away." She is certain that she will be healed and that one day she will be able to eat the food she so dearly loves to prepare.

I wonder, if I were without hands, let’s say, and I felt God’s call on my life to write, would I have the courage to pursue that dream or would I listen to the world telling me that it’s impossible? It makes me curious about this little girl (she’s the same age as my eldest son), has she heard His still small voice gently coercing her to learn everything she can about the culinary arts so that she can indeed someday attain that heart desire? Her parents say that she spends all her free time watching the cooking channels. She’s so convinced that she will open a diner that she’s named it and even come up with its niche, "You don't need to be a millionaire to eat there every night," she says as her eyes light up, "but you will feel like a millionaire when you eat there."

I guess what’s kind of awe-inspiring here is that Chelsea is so sick there’s a huge chance she may not make it the six months to three years she’ll have to wait for a transplant and yet it hasn’t hindered her goal oriented thought processes in the least. It chides me, it berates me and it shames me because I so readily make excuses not to do things that I am wholly capable of achieving for the glory of my Savior. I suppose it would behoove me to pray for less chicken-little-ness and more Chelsea-Wheeler-ness!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jesus is no hoax

I'm going to break the mold today and rather than sharing with you a piece of news, I want to discuss something I heard today. Perhaps you have been gifted with the ability to hear David Jeremiah speak, if not you should definitely check him out. However, prior to listening to him this evening, I heard Stephen Rummage who was discussing Christ's birth and death given the fact that we are rapidly approaching Christmas. He discussed the fact that people are forced to deal with the Truth of Christ and that they do so in one of three ways: they get angry, like Herod, they are apathetic like the innkeeper or they are awe-struck like the wise-men and all that have followed after them.

Rummage made some really excellent points but what struck me more than any of that was the fact that he was right, when faced with Christ we must make a decision, do we get angry? I mean a lot of people will get down right feisty and heated if you try to talk to them about the necessity of salvation through Jesus. Herod killed every little baby boy born in the same time period for fear he'd have to bow before the King of the Jews. People get ticked when you tell them that they aren't good, that they can't do enough good to warrant entry into Heaven. Then of course there are those who don't care at all; they shrug Jesus off like hippies shrugged off jobs. He's not anymore important to them than the car the person next to them drives, in fact He may actually be less important than that.

Finally we reach the third group of people, the group I hope you fall into, those who are radically changed by the revelation that Christ is all they need in this life, that He came to die for their sorry behinds, that He loved them enough to endure the worst torture possible and that He desired relationship with them so extremely that He stepped down from His prominent position as King of all, Lord of Lords, and visited them in the form of a wee baby in a manger. Here's where the David Jeremiah piece kicks in. He was talking about the fact that he really believes that Jesus was born of a virgin, that He was and is the King, the Son of God. Obviously if you're a believer then you adhere to those faith-based concepts as well but he had an interesting way of proving it (for lack of a better word).

David Jeremiah said that Jesus was nailed to a cross for the crime of claiming to be the Son of God (and he provided Scripture to back that statement though I didn't write it down because I didn't know I'd be relaying it to you and since it's after midnight while I am writing this I think I will forego looking it up). So, he said, there isn't a single human mother that would allow her son to die for something untrue. He said if it had all been some elaborate hoax, if Jesus had been off His rocker, then all Mary had to do was step forward and say, "He's not God's Son, I remember the night I conceived Him..." she could have gotten Him off that cross if He'd been anyone other than Who He really is. She knew He was on that cross not because He only claimed to be the Son of God but because He was and is! WOW!!

As we enter this season that we affectionately call Christmas, let us remember that if Christ had never come this time wouldn't exist and the joy that fills our souls would be nonexistent. Without Christ we are without hope. Praise Him for loving you enough to come here and endure all the persecution that still abounds today. This is not a happy holidays time of year, it is MERRY CHRISTMAS and thank You JESUS! Jesus is no hoax and you need Him!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tonsil surgery can kill you!

This one is sensitive, and wholly terrible. Apparently a 13 year old eighth grader, Jahi McMath, went in for tonsil surgery, a suggestion made by her doctor in hopes that it would alleviate: sleep apnea, weight gain, uncontrolled urination, short attention span and inability to concentrate. The surgery was performed and the girl was ok, asking for popsicles due to a sore throat. Then, next thing they knew she was bleeding profusely and is now declared legally brain dead. The coroners wants to go in there and take her off life support so that they can determine the cause of death. They argue that while she's on the ventilator and other support machines her body might heal and cover up any evidence if there's some sort of malpractice situation. The family on the other hand, is deeply disturbed and hopeful that a miracle will occur. They think they should determine when to pull the plug.

Have you ever been in a situation like that? Chances are pretty slim and while you might not be too inclined to believe me, the truth is, I have. You see, in 2000 my little brother was in a heinous car accident that left him with third degree burns over fifty percent of his body. It caused him to lose half of his left arm via amputation and it completely altered his facial qualities as his nose and ears were mostly burned off. That said, there was a point, during his medicinally induced coma that the doctors declared the swelling in his brain was too extensive, that he was going to be brain dead due to it (this is what they are saying about that little girl too). I sat in a room with my immediate family (and our significant others at the time) and we discussed what my brother would have us do; he was only 19. I spoke first and shared that I knew he would not want to live on a machine. Everyone agreed. Thusly, we had determined that we would indeed have the doctors disconnect him, end his life, say goodbye without him ever knowing (unless of course brain dead people can actually hear). I cannot tell you the extent of pain that caused but I was certain it was what he would want.

Here's where things got a little weird. We all sat in that room in silence. I am certain that there were prayers being lifted up. I know that I was not walking with the Lord as I should have been; I was living a life He definitely wouldn't and didn't approve of and I suspect our conversations were severely limited but I'm pretty sure I asked Him to save my brother that day. Obviously I can't tell you what was occurring in the hearts and minds of all the other silent people in that room but if I were a betting woman (and I'm not, thanks to my Pappaw, but that's another story in itself) I'd say mine wasn't the only prayer that day. Anyway, shortly after we'd made that heart-wrenching decision, the doctors came back in and told us that they'd made a mistake, that they'd misplaced the gauge, and that when they'd done a second test the swelling was nothing like they'd thought; he was OK. While the depth of relief that flooded that room was immense and quite tangible, there was a sense of, "we almost killed him." Imagine that for a little while, will you?

I know that the concept of vegetables and life-support is controversial, I get that, look at all that went on with the Terri Schiavo (it was big news in Florida). I even get how difficult the decision is when someone you love is being sustained by machines, when they can't eat on their own, when they can't breathe on their own; I get it, really and truly I do! But here's what I'm thinking, people don't leave this world without the Father's approval (and some people will be bothered by that thought I'm sure). He has to OK all deaths, all mishaps, accidents and tragedies. I'm not saying He likes them or is happy about them, but He allows certain things to happen, it's that simple. We cannot pretend to know why He does allow horrific calamities but if we love Him, then we know He has our good in mind even when it makes NO sense. When I think about this little girl and all the things she was enduring prior to the surgery, I suspect her life wasn't the most enjoyable, maybe He was taking her out of her own tragedy? Something to consider I guess. By the way, if you want to read the article here it is: Jahi McMath.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Orwellian Spies....

So everyone was in a tizzy about Edward Snowden, the supposed traitor. Now, I don't claim to know a lot about that whole situation but based on what I just read out of Yahoo! News, I'm glad he's a whistle blower. Here's the basis of the story: The NSA (National Security Agency) has been collecting data on all American citizens via their phone conversations. How do you like that? Anyway, Snowden (an ex-NSA contractor) apparently let the American people in on the situation and now this Obama approved set-up is under scrutiny and being dealt with in the courts.

The government is saying that they need to do this surveillance in order to prevent terrorism. However, Judge Richard Leon says, "The Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature.” He went so far as to say that James Madison (one of the Founding Fathers) would be aghast if he were here today. He also said, that the government's ability to spy on its citizens was "almost Orwellian."

In case you are unfamiliar with the whole Orwellian concept, I'll try to break it down for you. George Orwell wrote a book, 1984, which he published in 1949 (by the way, his real name is: Eric Arthur Blair). The book predicted, quite freakishly, exactly what we see going on today. He called the government Big Brother and basically they controlled everything, could see you wherever you were (GPS in cell phones) and could hear your conversations (apparently the NSA). If you haven't read it, feel free to pick it up and be disturbed by his uncanny prophetic like vision.

That explained, Judge Leon is rallying against the NSA, Edward Snowden is cheering him on and hopefully the rest of the sheepish American republic will grow some and stand up against the socialism that is quickly eroding our Constitution. Leon said, "I cannot believe the Government would create, maintain, and so ardently defend such a system.” And Snowden added, "I acted on my belief that the NSA's mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans' rights. It is the first of many."

Certainly this is a politically volatile piece and while I suppose I could debate the issue with you all I really want to do is point something out. Please note that Snowden concluded that exposure to the light brought about change. Read it again, "when exposed to the light of day, (it) was found to violate
Americans' rights." Nothing can resist the light, no depth of darkness, no massive weight of evil, no pitch black soul can remain hidden when exposed to the Light of the One who made the day. I know we like to think that the things we do, think and say that no one else is privy to are therefore off limits, the Truth is, the Bible tells us that all things will be made known, that nothing that is hidden will remain thus. Our government can be as sneaky as it wants to be but it's got nothing on God. There is no one in power that wasn't given that position via the divine discretion of the Deity.

I know people get concerned when they find things out like what was discussed previously, but if we believe in our Savior, if we adhere to His Word, then we understand that no matter how many battles evil appears to win, God who is good, wins the war. Friends, if you want to know what happens in the end, if you want to know where this world is headed, and if you want to know how to secure your eternity all you have to do is pick up the best selling book in the world. Only God's Word could maintain such prolific support. You need Jesus, not a bomb shelter, doomsday prepping skills or a big-wig connection. Jesus is the answer, He sees more and hears more than our government could ever hope to.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Universal Collapse!

According to some scientists in Denmark, we stand the chance of seeing the universe collapse on itself and destroy everything within it. In fact, according to them, "Maybe the collapse has already started somewhere in the universe and right now is eating its way into the rest of the universe …"
Perhaps you're not one for scientific jargon, but they've basically claimed to prove that a subatomic particle known as, Higgs boson, could very well be the end of life as we know it. They speculate that it creates some sort of "bubble" that essentially adds mass to everything it comes in contact with causing some type of weighty-implosion.

The article, found on, definitely uses some scare tactics. The writer tells readers, "mankind and everything we know could cease to exist and the process might already have started." In fact, readers are warned at the very beginning of the article that they should take their vacations now because the universe is about to collapse and be squeezed into a tiny ball. Fear is the goal here and I suspect that if you are uninformed, Biblically uneducated, it might work.

Here's the thing, yes, the universe and everything in it will come to a tragic end; we've been warned in Revelation (should we choose to muster up the fortitude to read it). Fear, however, is not a necessity when looking at and anticipating this calamity. Certainly there's the Scripture that tells us that we haven't been given a Spirit of fear (and continues by sharing what we have been given) but even more important than that is people fear the unknown, the things that can surprise and shock them. Eternity is not unknown, the end of creation is not shocking, nothing of that level of significance has been hidden from us if we trust the Maker of it all and if we believe His every Word. He told us the end from the beginning.

Fear is the world's method of making us squirm, it keeps us uneasy, it makes us choose not to trust others, it makes us focus on ourselves. Fear is in direct revolt and complete rebellion when it comes to the way that God wants us to live our lives. Yes, He says we should fear Him and that's really so that we'll learn to respect Him, not so that we can cringe. Listen, if He wants to use some subatomic particle to make the universe swallow itself that's His prerogative, He's God, but He's already told us that the end will come in the form of fire. It's all going to burn, but if we want to sit around nit-picking how it's going to do so I guess we're entitled to that level of time wastage. However, I suspect every moment would be better served teaching other people that fear is not necessary but salvation is!

By the way, in case you don't go read that whole article, they conclude by saying, "If the universe contains undiscovered particles, the whole basis for the prediction would prove false." What a ridiculous piece of scientific proof!