I Love YouTube

YouTube geralt via pixabay

I like to watch flash mob proposals and acapella singing groups and funny movie clips. But what I really love about YouTube is the chance it gives me to watch great sermons, new and old, by pastors from all over the world. I watched one recently by Philip Yancey called Rumors of Another World, delivered at the University of California Veritas Forum several years ago. You can find it here:  Let me re-tell my favorite story from that talk, though, the one that struck me most. 

A group of high ranking US health officials met to discuss the greatest threats to long life and well-being here in our country. They made a list of the top problems, including the seven listed below.

·                Smoking and tobacco use

·                Obesity and poor dietary choices

·                Drug addiction

·                Alcohol abuse, including drunk driving and fetal alcohol syndrome

·                Stress based hypertension

·                Sexually transmitted diseases

·                Violent crime

As they pondered solutions to these life threatening and life altering issues, one member of the think tank shed a very different light on the subject. That man was Dr. Paul Brand, a physician who spent years in India working with those who suffered from leprosy. Dr. Brand explained that, while the list I’ve just shared with you is perfectly valid in the US, a similar committee in India would come up with a very different threat roster. That list would include: 

·                Malaria

·                Leprosy

·                Polio, until very recently

·                Smallpox

·                Yellow Fever

“If I went to that group,” Dr. Brand said, “and declared ‘I can get rid of those problems,’ they would say, ‘Wonderful. Then we would live in paradise!’” 

How blessed we are here in the United States! We’re virtually free of all those dreaded diseases. But what have we done? We’ve replaced them with a whole new set of problems that we’ve brought on ourselves. To this, Philip Yancy says, (my paraphrase) “I’ve come to see that, if God designed this planet and our bodies, he did it to give us life to the fullest…I used to think of God’s way, his definition of sin, as a way to keep us from having fun. Now I see that it’s a way to keep us from hurting ourselves. The church teaches us the best way to live.”

So, today, I challenge us all to take a look at that list of US problems and begin, by God’s grace, to eliminate any still lingering in our lives. God’s way IS the best way, and he means for us to take care of ourselves as we live in obedience to him.

Photo by geralt via pixabay.com

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I Interrupt These Blog Posts..

texting

My post this week is a departure from the usual sort of material you will find at this site. I want to share an article with you about cell phone usage  and driving. Before you say, “Oh, Brother!” consider this:

·       We are to be responsible stewards of the gifts God gives us.

·       We are to care for our bodies, as they are temples of the Holy Spirit.

·       And we are to love one another, which surely must include looking out for one another’s safety.

With all of that in mind, I’d like to share this information from the March/April 2019 issue of Texas Journey (page 9, to be exact.) These bulleted points are findings by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and I’m sure are not a comprehensive list of the facts. Note, also, that this list doesn’t distinguish between hand-held use and hands-free use, as both pose risk. 

  • Looking at a phone for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
  • At a speed of 55 miles per hour, a driver texting for only five seconds will travel the length of a football field, driving virtually blind before looking at the road again.
  • Mental distraction can linger for up to 27 seconds after using an electronic device. 
  • Drivers using cell phones [to either talk or text] are up to four times more likely to crash.
  • The safest way to drive is simply not to use the cell phone when driving.

My friends, I hope you will reconsider your need to multitask. Turn on some praise music and focus on the drive. If we all do that, somewhere down the road many lives will be saved.

photo by StockSnap via Pixabay

 

Learning the Hard Way

rest @rawpixel via Unsplash.com

This post is inspired by the wise words of a good friend who prefers to remain anonymous. It’s filled with lessons she learned the hard way. I’m sharing it here in hopes that you can benefit from her wisdom and escape some of her difficulties.

 

I’ve been learning some difficult lessons about health and rest–physically and spiritually. At this time I’m recovering and determined to take better care of my body–not only by exercising, but also through eating and resting. We all have areas of health where we simply aren’t in control. But, we are responsible for certain aspects such as nourishment, sleep, and saying “no” to good things so we can have balance in our schedules. While stress doesn’t necessarily show itself outwardly, it can manifest itself physically in ways we’d all like to avoid. When we face illness, we ought to trust God for total and complete healing in His time, while still trying to do what we can to become healthier.

For a long time, I deliberately disliked the term “self-care” and considered it selfish. This is false. It finally dawned on me that I’ve been holding myself to nearly impossible standards that I wouldn’t think of imposing on others. Over and over, I’ve physically pushed myself to the limit and beyond. What for? I am not my own. How can I care for others and serve sustainably without a healthy view of who I am?

It boils down to these lessons for me:

  • Caring for my body honors God.
  • Being relatively thin (by U.S. standards) is not necessarily synonymous with being truly healthy.
  • Most of the time, pain is your body telling you that something isn’t right.
  • It’s possible, and Biblical to live missionally and sacrificially while also allowing one day of adequate rest each week.
  • We aren’t created to just survive, but to really live, and that includes doing things we enjoy like running, cooking, reading just for the joy of it, going to a coffee shop, etc.)
  • Christ is honored in our rest just as He is honored in our service.

These seem like the simplest truths, and I’ve shared them with others numerous times, but a time came when I had to learn them the hard way. Perhaps this was the only way I could truly learn for myself. If you’re reading this today, know that you are enough. Your immense value is not tied to whatever occupation you have, nor is it inextricably entwined with your abilities. You are a human being… Not a human doing. I’m reminding myself of this as well.

Tips for a Stunning Life

 

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I can’t take any credit for today’s blog. I got it from my friend Becky, who got it from the Tips for a Stunning Life blog found here:  and used with permission. I love this simple list and hope you’ll choose a couple of these challenges for yourself. Please let me know which are your favorites!

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. & while you walk, SMILE. It is the ultimate antidepressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
3. When you wake up in the morning, pray to ask God’s
guidance for your purpose, today.
4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food
that is manufactured in plants.
5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, broccoli, and almonds.
6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
7. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
9. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Forgive them for everything!
11. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
12. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
13. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
14. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years, will this matter?’
17. Help the needy, Be generous! Be a ‘Giver’ not a ‘Taker’.
18. What other people think of you is none of your business.
19. Time heals everything.
20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
21. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
23. Each night before you go to bed, pray and be thankful for what you accomplished today.
24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed

Photo by Casey Horner via Unsplash.com

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!

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This week, I’d like to share a few favorites with you.

 

 

 

 

Recent sermon:

“Guardrails of the Heart” Ky Faciane, Bannockburn Baptist Church 2/18/18. Listen here.  (If you’re short on time, start at minute 15.)

Recent Movie:

Wonder. Read about it here.

Older Movie:

The Kid. (The Bruce Willis one, no offense to Christ Pratt, who stars in a movie with the same title.)

Recent Book:

Skirting Tradition by Kay Moser (Fun fiction available here.)

Older Book:

All things written by Hannah Whitall Smith.  Here are a few of her wonderful words:

  • The presence of God is the fortress of his people.
  • What is within us makes or unmakes our joy.
  • Pay no attention to your feelings as a test of your relationship with God, but simply attend to the state of your will and of your faith
  • Never, under any circumstances, give way for one single moment to doubt or discouragement.

New Habit: At least 20 minutes of sunshine every day possible.

Old Recipe: Don’t Knock It ‘Til You’ve Tried It Breakfast Smoothie (For the first time in my life, I don’t get hungry until lunch.)

Into a blender add:

  • 1 ½ cups almond or soy milk
  • 3-4 cups of loosely packed baby spinach
  • 1 banana (unfrozen)
  • 2 T baking cocoa
  • 1-2 T ground flaxseed or chia
  • 2 pitted dates or 1 T honey
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 ½ –2 cups frozen blueberries

Blend thoroughly. Serves 2.

Tip: Blend together everything except the berries in the evening and refrigerate. Add the berries the next morning and blend again.

Okay, your turn! What are some of your favorites?

 

More Time to Be Happy

abraham-abe-lincoln-295315_1280 pixabay 12 14 17Time Magazine’s[1] list of “Healthy Habits for Happiness” are right in line with many of the things I believe God would have us do. That list includes:

  • Sleep—an average of 8 hours. Consider this verse from Psalm 127, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.
  • Exercise—increasingly considered a standard part of treatment for depression. Remember, life in Bible times was, by its very nature, filled with exercise. Think no cars, plenty of farming and shepherding and chopping wood.
  • Sunshine—which boosts synthesis of mood regulating serotonin, and was certainly a natural part of life long ago.
  • Diet. (A few more ideas about that here.)
  • Standing up straight and smiling—yep, even on down days, smiling seems to help. Perhaps that’s a physical part of the choice to rejoice, as in “Let us rejoice today and be glad!”[2]

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” We can’t orchestrate our lives to be free of unhappy circumstances. The Apostle Paul said, though, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”[3] He also said, in that same letter, “Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”[4]

According to Dennis Charney, dean of the ICAHN School of Medicine, we can train our brains to think a particular way. (So we can teach ourselves to think like Paul!) If we worry all the time, for example, we create a sort of worry rut. The PhD term is a neuronal pathway. Worry, or fear, or plain old grumpiness can become our default. If we choose more positive modes of thinking, of responding to difficulty, we can create new and better brain ruts, so to speak. But we have to work at making those changes. Something called “mindfulness” is a good place to start, and that’s exactly where we’ll start next week.

 

 

 

[1] The Science of Happiness: New Discoveries for a More Joyful Life, A Time Special Edition, September 9, 2017.

[2] Psalm 118: 24b

[3] Philippians 4:12

[4] Philippians 4:4