Protection

Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.–Psalm 16:1

Two nights ago, the three pictures of the tornadoes above impacted my family somehow. My wife and I, her parents, and my parents all live in different locations, yet last night we were all impacted by tornadoes. Thankfully we were all okay and we didn’t have any property damage. Unfortunately, there were some that did, but there were no deaths.

I’m thankful for the protection, that God showed to my family and I. There is something humbling in the fact that you can’t control the weather. You can’t make it stop. All you can do is rely on God and ask for his protection.

The night of these storms, before they started, we had our small group; we had got on the topic of God’s protection. One of the things that came up was, how many times has God protected us from something and we don’t even know it. A storm comes through or you barely miss a car wreck it’s easy to thank God for protecting us, because we experienced something, we can visually see the protection God gave us.

How often do we thank God for the protection he gives us without knowing he has protected us? Maybe when the traffic light was yellow and you could have made it through, but the car in front of you stopped. We get frustrated, but what if that was God protecting us so we didn’t get into a wreck at the next intersection?

My opinion is that we get protected a lot more than what we think. We are probably completely unaware at how made times God intercedes into events to protect us. Just as I’m grateful that he protected my family two days ago, I’m also thankful for the protection he gives me that I’m unaware of.

Thursday Thoughts: Value of Life

I was driving on my lunch break and it crossed my mind how different the world would be if we valued life more or taught the next generation to value life more.

We talk about how gun violence gets worse and worse. Abortion is a huge headline lately in the news. The past few years bullying has been reported on heavily. There have been many conversations about what is right and wrong, what should be done to correct these issues, and what is in store for our future if we do nothing.

What I want to ask is, how much of this would change if we valued life more? We forget that we are made in the image of God. That should me a lot to us. We have attributes that are the same as the One that made the heavens and the Earth. In the Bible nothing else is stated as being made in the image of God. Humans are different in that aspect. For that very reason we should value life greatly. Life is so precious! As a biochemist, it amazes me how delicate life can be? A little bit of a chemical imbalance here or there and our life is done.

If we taught our children to value everyone’s life more would we have the issues with racism? Would we have the murder rates we have now? Would we have the issues with abortion? Would there be less bullying?

Just thoughts I had while driving. We try to legislate all of these issues, but if we taught the next generations to value life, would that change things more?

Servant To Money

The Rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.–Proverbs 22:7

When we live beyond our means we end up enslaved to our creditors. If we owe someone, they can control what we do. In a way, we become enslaved to them.

Debt is a huge problem for the United States

The United States is over $13 billion in debt. The average American is over $137,000 in debt. Roughly 55% of Americans have credit card debt with the average debt being over $8000 in credit card debt.

At some point collectors will come knocking and wanting their money. If you don’t have the money to pay the bill, that’s when trouble starts and you become a slave to who you own the debt to.

Being prudent

Those who are wise and prudent with their money, will have the necessities of life, while the foolish spend all they have to acquire nonessential things for pleasure. Does money get tight at times even if you’re being wise with it? Absolutely! The biggest thing is saying no to foolish things we spend money on.

For years I spent money on cable tv and watched maybe 5 channels. For 5 channels I was paying $70+ a month, and not even watching those channels very often. We tried out HULU and Sling TV with their live tv packages, both run about $40. We did that for about 2 months and realized we hardly watch any tv, so we dropped the live tv and basically have the equivalent to Netflix for about $6 a month, that is roughly $750 a year being saved. How many other things do we pay for that we don’t really use?

Savings account interest is horrible right now for most banks. There are some banks that offer high yield interest. One that I use is American Express High Yield Savings Account. It gives you 2.10% APY, this isn’t the greatest return on investment, but it’s far better than most banks offer right now.

How often do we buy things that we use once or twice and then get tucked away somewhere never to be seen again. I’ve done it. It’s easy, we see it and think this would great to have, only to find out we don’t really like using it or it wasn’t as fun as we thought.

I know Dave Ramsey is all about not having credit cards. I think it’s more about self control. What my wife and I do is use the points for our card to help with Christmas gifts. Over a year, we can rack up a several hundred’s of dollars to can be used to help with that expense.

Hard times will come a long, that requires us to have the funds to pay for it. The problem for most is, we don’t plan for the hard times. We spend and spend and spend in the good times, then once we run into bad times we have no reserves to dip into and go into debt. Then we become slaves to the ones we barrow from.

Moving Target

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.–James 1:17

Last week we went through half of James chapter 1 and discussed about temptation. I’m going back to James for today’s post, where I want to talk about just 5 words in the verse above and how important they are. Those words are, “with whom is no variableness.” Those words are very important and very powerful and should also be comforting.

I remember back a few years ago they used to have NFL quarterbacks participate in the Quarterback challenge. They would go through all sorts of challenges like running, who could throw the ball the furthest, who was the most accurate, etc. The one challenge I liked to really watch was where they had these big targets attached to golf carts, and each quarterback would attempt to throw the ball and hit the target as the golf cart drove across the field. Even the best quarterbacks in the league had trouble hitting it, even though they all could hit the stationary targets. Why? Because hitting a moving target is hard. It’s constantly changing, you never quite sure where it is going next.

There is no variableness with God. He’s not a moving target. He’s not changing what he wants today and then tomorrow he expects something out of us that is completely different. In Hebrews 13:8 it says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

I have had bosses in the past where you have no clue what they’re going to want that day. One day they want you to not spend any money in the budget or the next day they’re saying spend spend spend. Or they want you to work on this project and then quickly turnaround and want you to work on another project. Those have been some of the most frustrating times at work.

Not only is it frustrating, but it is very inefficient work environment. God is not like that at all. What he wanted from humans 1 year ago, 100 years ago, or 1000 years ago, is the same as what he wants right now. There is no moving target with God, just consistency. We don’t have to spend our time guessing what he wants today or what mood he’s in. That’s why it’s important for us to read the Bible. That’s His word and one of the main ways he tells us what is expected from us.

Just as I appreciate going into a job where I know what the expectations are; I love that God is consistent, and I know what to expect from him and what he expects from me.

What’s your price for association?

Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor. –Proverbs 19:4 The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends. –Proverbs 14:20

What’s your price for association?

So what is our price before we associate with someone? We all have different perspectives of what makes someone “rich”; it could be monetary, it could be power, it could be popularity, etc. How many times do we not associate with someone, because they’re not like us or they’re not like who we think we should hang out with because we can’t gain anything from them? How many times in the work place do we snub people because they’re lower on the totem pole than us? How many times do we snub people because they don’t have as much money as us? How many times do we snub someone because personality wise they’re different and don’t fit the personality that we think is the “cool” personality?

How many opportunities do we miss out on because of this? Not to get political, but how many times could humbling ourselves and associating with someone that isn’t “rich” in the world’s eyes, could deter someone from doing a school shooting or to realize their life has value and not take it?

We miss out on a lot of opportunities to interact with some amazing people because we’ve categorized them into a group, and they’re not like us. We need to be reaching out to the world and showing them what it means to be a Christian. A few years ago the bracelets with WWJD (what would Jesus do) were popular. Jesus hung out with the poor and the sinners. Why? It wasn’t for popularity reasons, it’s because they needed Him. Two thousand years later, nothing has changed. We’re all sinners and we all need him, not matter where we fall in the economic, popularity, or power rankings.

No Soda Challenge After 1 Month

It’s been 4 weeks since I stopped drinking soda. No one has been too badly hurt, joking. Here are my previous posts about why I was stopping the consumption of soda (Post 1 and Post 2)

How do I feel physically?

I really do feel good. I fall asleep a lot faster now, we’re talking within minutes, and sleep through the night. My REM sleep has increased substantially, according to my Fitbit. More REM sleep means that your brain processes memories better, which allows for more clarity.

If I don’t eat properly I will start to feel more tired. I had that before, but I would then down a soda. Now it helps me to eat better so I don’t get tired. All in all, I feel like I do have more energy. To help with that 2 o’clock drag where you feel like you don’t have as much energy, I’ve been using some of that Mio stuff you squirt into your water that has B vitamins in it. That has really helped.

I’ve also lost about 7 pounds, since I haven’t been drinking soda. So that’s always a plus too.

Mentally

I feel like my mind is much more clearer, even if I start to get tired, my thought process is still clear. My mood is much better, since coming off the soda. Even when it gets stressful at work.

Now what?

Now the wife and I are going to start cutting out some of the sugar in our diet. When we start it, I’ll do a post about it and what sugar does to our bodies.

Rewarding Evil

Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house–Proverbs 17:13

We need to be very careful with how we deal with people and the evil we try to bring into their lives. The Bible is pretty clear that if we reward evil, we will be dealing with trouble for the rest of our lives.

An example of this is in David’s life. He “rewarded” Uriah’s integrity and faithfulness with evil. From that point on, evil did not depart from David’s own house. In 2 Samuel 12:10-11 it says, “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house, because thou hast despised me and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take they wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with they wives in the sight of this sun.”

Uriah was a good soldier that had integrity. When David saw his wife and got her pregnant, he tried to get Uriah to come home off the battlefield so he would sleep with his wife and the baby would seem to be Uriah’s. However, Uriah, said he couldn’t come off the battlefield if his men were still there. So David had him moved to the front line so he would be killed. As mentioned in 2 Samuel, 12:10-11, David rewarding Uriah with evil, brought nothing but pain and hardship from God.

Rewarding with evil, means we’re doing evil things to people. Modern day example of what David did are destroying people’s reputation so we can move up the corporate ladder.

We need to be very careful how we treat others. The saying, what goes around comes around is very true. Not only will we have to account for our actions to God one day, but here on Earth we will have to deal with the wickedness we have sewn. God will forgive us of our sins, but there are still consequences for our actions.

Book Review: Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford Hayes was our 19th President and took office after Ulysses Grant. One of the things that was very interesting was how his winning the election was almost identical to how George W. Bush won the election. Both elections came down to the ballot count in Florida. Both had to have the Supreme Court involved. In both of their Florida wins there were questionable ballots thrown out that could have changed the election.

I mentioned this in my President Hoover book review (go here to see), it amazes me how the culture has changed. These men wanted the presidency, but they would not formally ask for it or campaign for it. They would work through friends to get elected and then act like they didn’t want it.

President Hayes was probably best known for bringing the country back together. He was president about 10 years after the Civil War ended. His presidency came right after General Grants administration, which was riddled with corruption. Hayes started what would be years of civil rights legislation in the United States.

As far as the book goes, it was a much shorter book than what most of the biographies I read. It’s a pretty quick read, but very compact. So basically, there’s not a lot of fluff. This book was part of the President series of all the presidents. It’s the first time I’ve read one of their books. If you want a quick read and learn some history, this book would be for you. I’m pretty sure all the books in the President Series are kind of the same, so once again, if you like a quick read with a lot of facts, this be your type of book.

Temptation Part 4: Source

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.–James 1:13

All week I’ve been discussing temptation. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Nobody who sins can throw the blame on God. God may test us in order to strengthen our faith, but never with the intent of leading us to sin. The nature of God shows that He cannot be a source of temptation.

It is us, who falls into sin with temptation. James goes on to say in verse 14, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” We are the ones susceptible to Satan’s temptations because of our sinful nature and its evil desires. If evil desire is not resisted by the help of the Holy Spirit, it leads to sin and then to spiritual death.

It’s our heart that is evil. Matthew 15:19 says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” God may use trials to build our spiritual character, but he always gives us a way out. We should remember that Jesus was tempted. Just because we’re tempted doesn’t mean we have to fail. I hate chocolate with a passion (yeah, I know I’m weird), and someone can try to pressure me to eat it, which is tempting me, but I have no desire for it. Now if you tried to pressure me with starbursts, that’s a different story. That would take some will power not to eat it. The temptation the devil uses is the same, if we don’t desire it, it’s easy for us to say we don’t want it, however, as it says in Matthew 15:19 our heart is evil and desires what we are tempted with.

When we look at temptation like the example with me and chocolate verses starbursts, it gives a different perspective on what temptation is and how we choose to reject it or fall into sin. We are the ones that make the decision, just like any decision we have. We must pray that God helps us cleanse out the evil desires in our heart so that we can reject the temptations we are faced with.

Temptation Part 3: Wisdom

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and unbraideth not; and it shall be given him.–James 1:5

The last two days I’ve talked about temptations. Where temptation is some form of difficulty or pressure in our lives. Click here for: Part 1 and Part 2.

We are to ask God for wisdom in dealing with our trials, not just deliverance from them. As mentioned in yesterday’s post (Part 2: Patience), we need patience when going through trials, and sometimes that means dealing with the trial and working through it; not getting out of it.

Wisdom is the spiritual capacity to see and evaluate life from God’s perspective. It means making right choices and doing the right thing according to the will of God as revealed in His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

When we go through trials or temptations we always want to look at it from our perspective. Why me? Why do I have to go through this? We don’t look at it from God’s perspective that he might be strengthening us, for something bigger in our life. Trials are a lot like weight lifting. When lifting weights, you have a set weight you lift, then some days you add on some more weight. Yeah, you feel a little pain afterwords, but after a few days it goes away and it helps you lift more later on. Trials are the same way. We go through the trial, it hurts for a bit of time, but later on, we can handle more.

Many times we will not know why we had to go through times of temptation until we’re in heaven. That’s were patience and wisdom come into play here on Earth. We have to remember that God loves us and wants what is best for us, not what we want, but what is best for us. Just as earthly parents sometimes let there children struggle through certain tasks or situations, so they are prepared later on in life, God does the same with us. We must pray if its not God’s Will to remove the struggle that He would give us the wisdom, understanding, and patience to get through it.