Get Off the Line!

Have you ever seen anyone walking along train tracks? You know that danger can come along from either direction. You want to yell at the person as you walk by, “Get off the line!” 

The same is true for ourselves. We each have lines that we know we should not cross. But sometimes, we like to get as close to the line as we can, maybe even walk on it for a ways. Those that are watching us want to yell at us, “Get off the line!”

Sometimes those lines are obvious to everyone. Maybe, the line of “Do not commit adultery.” We begin to spend time with someone who is not our mate. It seems so innocent at first, but then we like it, we may even prefer to spend time with that person more than we like spending time with our mate! We are walking a line and danger inevitably lies ahead. But just like the person walking on the train tracks, we cannot see it coming. 

Other times, the lines are not so obvious. As believers, we each have different lines we know we should not cross. For some, it may be, “Do not drink alcohol.” For many, it may be, “Do not watch R rated movies.” There are all kinds of lines we know we should not cross.

Whatever the line is, the most dangerous place to be is walking on that line. We think we are so safe, but we are not. We are putting ourselves and our spiritual health at great risk. If we are walking on one of those lines, we need to get off, and fast!

Once we are off, we need to get as far away from that line as possible. Yes, we need to get to a safe place. Break off that relationship and walk away. Dump the alcohol down the drain. Put controls on our Netflix subscription. You know, take action and move away from that line.

Are you walking on any lines? Are you close to a line? Do you need to take action and move away from that line? Only you know, but for all our sakes, “Let’s get off those lines!”

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22

A Praying Mantis

Several years ago, I came home from work and there was a praying mantis on the wall in the living room. I really do not like most insects and this one was really big. Usually, my husband takes care of any insects in the house but he was at work. Feeling a little silly, I called his office. 

Amy, his secretary, answered and I told her I needed to talk to him because I had a problem. She wanted to know if it was urgent and if I needed to disturb him (he was with a patient). I said, “Well, there’s a praying mantis on the wall and I don’t know if it is a p-r-a-y-ing mantis or a p-r-e-y-ing mantis.” She laughed, “Can’t you just catch him in a container and put him outside?” I replied, “Of course not. I would have to get near him and I can’t do that!” My husband called me a few minutes later and listened to my problem. He said, “Valerie…” I knew that meant he would deal with it when he came home. 

In the remaining two and a half hours before he came home, I fixated on the mantis. I closed the bedroom doors and tried to stay busy. I cooked dinner and all the while, kept going in the living room to make sure the mantis hadn’t moved. It seemed to get bigger every time I looked at it!  Mike eventually came home, took a plastic container, caught the mantis and released it outside. Boom! Five minutes and the problem was solved.

This story is not about sharing one of my idiosyncrasies (although there are many). It’s about focus and fixation. I had a choice when I came home (solving the problem was not one of them at the time). I could ignore the rather benign mantis and go about my business or I could fixate on him and lose a couple of precious hours of my life and my peace. 

We all have problems, many of which are quite benign. Sometimes we fixate on them and make them much bigger than they need to be. It robs us of our peace and can certainly ruin a nice day. How much better we would be if we could focus and fixate on something that would give us peace instead!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

Courage

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Have you ever wondered what is wrong with the human race? How can we continue to hate and hurt each other? You’d think that after a while (several thousand years) we would have learned our lesson…apparently not. The killing of George Floyd this week and the subsequent riots (notice I didn’t say protests) are an indication of the hatred and malice that exist in the human heart. 

When I watch the events taking place on the streets of some of our major cities, I just shake my head. I am saddened by the lack of leadership within the ranks of the rioters and it makes me miss some of my heroes. Take Mahatma Gandhi, for instance. He helped liberate his country from English colonialism. His philosophy of non-violent protest changed an entire nation. It took a lot of courage and character to react non-violently in the face of senseless violence but he became the Father of modern India and an example to the whole world.

Gandhi influenced another of my heroes, Martin Luther King Jr. He also believed in non-violence and through his preaching and example, he was able to lead this country out of the dark ages of racial segregation. It took courage and character to  stand toe to toe with the police but he and his followers were able to do it. They received the respect of the majority of Americans who wanted the insidious doctrine of racial segregation legislated out of existence.

If we want to honor the memory of George Floyd and every other American who was killed unjustly by a police officer, we must behave in a way that commands the respect of the people. The vast majority of Americans were appalled by the murder of George Floyd and were more than anxious to see the perpetrators brought to justice. However, the burning, looting and wanton destruction of property have elicited a different reaction to this tragedy. 

Now, all the American people can see are violent protests and angry mobs pillaging and looting. The tragedy of George Floyd is being obscured by the riots and the spotlight that should be on his death has now been shifted to the angry mobs. Make no mistake, it doesn’t take courage to torch a car or loot a business. It takes opportunism, greed and disrespect for the property rights of others.

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. threatened the status quo. Their courage in the face of evil was a shining example of how society could be changed by the practice of non-violent protests. The agitators who are leading the violent protests will not change society; they will only leave a wave of destruction in their path. Nothing will justify their behavior and they are certainly no example of courage or character. 

Image by truthseeker08. Courtesy of Pixabay.

The Race to Create a Covid19 Vaccine

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Photo by Absolute Charm on Pexels.com

Have you ever been to the horse races? If you have, you know there is always a tremendous amount of excitement in the air. At times, the air feels almost electric depending on which horses are running. Today, if you are part of the scientific community or big pharma, you can feel that same excitement in the air. The race to create a viable vaccine for Covid19 (SARS-Co2) is on and the winners will soon be announced.

Those entities which come up with the vaccine first and are approved by their governments will receive millions if not billions of dollars. Make no mistake, this race is real and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Within the next several months, more than one company may rollout a viable vaccine. According to an article I read, the hope is to make it available to frontline healthcare workers first, essential workers next and then possibly to the general public. Some are talking about having a vaccine available for children that will use a microneedle. It will leave an invisible mark on the skin that can be read by an infrared scanner. If you are over fifty, there may not be a vaccine available for you in the beginning. Research will have to be done to determine the the safety of giving the vaccine to those with diminished immune systems as those who are over fifty are presumed to have. 

Each person will have to decide if they are going to take the vaccine or not. At the moment, it will be an individual choice but some employers may require it in order to work for their company. Certain vaccines are already required by healthcare agencies and this one may not be an exception. If you want to travel to certain countries, you may be required to have an Immunity Passport in order to cross their border. Germany is already talking about the concept and it could become law in the near future.

If a person is going to take the vaccine, it will be important to find out some information before taking it:

1. Who produced the vaccine and what is in the vaccine made of?

2. Where was the vaccine produced, specifically which country was it produced in?

3. Are there any biomarkers in the vaccine?

4. Will any of the vaccines have an RFID chip in them?

5. What are the possible short-term side effects of the vaccine?

Because the rollout of these vaccines will happen so quickly, no one will know the possible long-term side effects of the vaccines. It will also be difficult to tell how long the immunity will last or if multiple injections will be needed to establish or maintain immunity. Even as many governments are hoping these vaccines will be a silver bullet to protect their populace from Covid19, there are still many questions that need to be answered about them. Each of us should be diligent about doing our research before we take one.

The race is on and the research is going at breakneck speeds. The stakes are high, not only for the producers but for those who will be receiving the vaccines. We will soon hear who has crossed the finish line and will be receiving the prized billions. If I look through my binoculars, I can almost see them nearing the final turn as they race to the finish line. Can you?

The Check Out Line

woman wearing blue jeans riding red shopping cart

Photo by Jeremias Oliveira on Pexels.com

Early last week, my step-brother passed away, he checked out. He was younger than I am, and by rights, he shouldn’t have been the first one to die, but he was. I hadn’t seen him for years so I don’t really know where he stood spiritually.  He did however, let me pray for him a few weeks before he passed. The doctors told him he had a limited amount of time and so he had the opportunity to prepare spiritually for his turn in line. They gave him six months to live but it was only two weeks before his name was called at The Check Out Line. 

You see, we are all waiting our turn at The Check Out Line. The Check Out Line is not linear and it seems random at times. You would think the first people in would be the first to check out but The Check Out Line doesn’t work that way. Sometimes those who have been in a relatively short amount of time are the first to go. Since none of us knows exactly when our name will be called, we must ask ourselves the obvious question, “Am I ready to check out?”

Lots of people think they are ready to check out but they aren’t. Those that don’t believe in God or life after death think they are ready. Those that believe that “if they are a good person” think they’re ready. Those that believe we have lots of chances at The Check Out Line think they are ready also…but they are not. The Bible says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. ” Hebrews 9:27-28. 

We all need to make sure we are ready for The Check Out Line. There IS life after death and we must all face Jesus, the righteous Judge of the universe when we check out. He will of course look at what we have done with the lives he gave us but the most important question will be, “What did you do with the free gift of salvation I offered you?” He DID die on the cross for our sins and He offers us eternal life with Him in heaven. If we want to spend eternity with Him, we must choose Him before it is out time to check out.

Madison Avenue – Vanguard for Crass Christmas Commercialism

multicolored imax theater

Photo by Jayson Gomes on Pexels.com

Madison Avenue has always been the vanguard for Christmas commercialism. Over the decades, it has moved the cultural needle on Christmas from a religious holiday to one that is secular. I have watched this trend over the years but I was not prepared for what was presented to the public this holiday season. I probably should have seen it coming but I didn’t. Madison Avenue gave us its ultimate goal in crass Christmas commercialism…egocentric giving.

You heard it right. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the majority of commercials on television sent out the message loud and clear. The goal for this season is to give yourself the gift you want. It started with a commercial for a luxury model car. Every person in the commercial had given themselves one for Christmas. Just in case the gullible consumer was not picking up on the message, one man’s car had a tag on it that said : To James, From James. This commercial has continued to air on prime time during the month of December.

The second commercial only lasted a few days. Was there an outcry from the public that it was completely over the top? A woman went into a store and as she passed the kitchen appliance section, she hesitated, then she put one item after another in her cart until it was full. She essentially had spent her entire Christmas budget on herself. Was it too ludicrous for the public to believe? I don’t know, but it was pulled after a few days.

I could give you another example but I know you get the drift. The geniuses on Madison Avenue want us to be completely egocentric in our giving. To say their approach to Christmas is crass is an understatement. There’s not much we can do except contact the company who bought the ad and express our displeasure at the sentiment. 

I for one will reject these not so subtle messages to become egocentric in my giving and I have one word for Madison Avenue this Christmas…REALLY?

Soul Scars

monument-412941_640Image by Nini. Courtesy of Pixabay.

A week ago, I was changing a bandage on a wound. It was about three weeks old and the scar tissue had begun to form. I thought, “Well, I need to put some alcohol on this to make sure there are no germs there.” I got my bottle of alcohol out of the cupboard, put it on a cotton ball and got ready to feel some real pain as I knew the alcohol would sting. To my surprise, there was no pain. You see, scar tissue does not have any nerve endings when it begins to form. The nerve endings have been cut in the surrounding tissue, and initially, a person feels nothing.

I began to wonder about our soul scars. If someone could see our souls, what would they look like? Would there be wounds that had healed completely and others that were in the process of healing? Would there be wounds that were festering and causing us pain? I think if people could see our souls, they would see all three kinds of wounds.

The most obvious would be the wounds that were still open, still in the healing process. Sometimes life wounds us deeply with the loss of a loved one or some other deeply personal loss. These wounds may take years to heal, and only as our grief is felt or expressed can we truly heal. Tears are a valuable form of therapy with these kinds of wounds as they wash them and keep them clean while they are healing.

The least obvious would be the wounds that have healed and the scars have become part of our soul’s makeup. If you look closely at them, you will see that the area around them is healthy and whole and sometimes the scars have healed so well they are difficult to discern. 

A Soul Physician would be very concerned about the wounds that are still festering, where there is infection. We all have those kinds of wounds whether we realize it or not. They are the wounds that have not been taken care of and no healing balm has been applied to them. Usually the infection has been caused by unforgiveness and a person must purposely set out to do their part in the healing process. 

 Festering wounds must be acknowledged and we must be ready to be healed from them. We must be willing to apply the disinfectant of forgiveness to them and let go of all of our unforgiveness and bitterness. Will there be pain when we lance these kinds of wounds? Yes, they may have been festering for years, but as their purulence is released there will be a peace that takes its place.

Oh, the sweet peace of forgiveness, may it blanket our souls and make us healthy and whole!

“Forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone who sins against us.” Luke 11:4