Small Things May Seem Useless, But “A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned” Still Applies Today.

A goal reminder posted near the checkout register of a national retail chain store promotes a program called “Strive for 5”.  Each checkout clerk is to strive to place at least 5 purchased items in each bag.  The clerk should try to never send out a bag with 3 items or less.  She should also try to never bag containers with a ready-made handle, or to bag bulky items.

The program is designed to encourage each employee to help the company save money by decreasing the number of plastic bags given to customers. Each bag probably does not cost the company over a penny, if that much. Saving one bag per customer may not seem like much to the clerk working at one of the smaller community stores. But when one considers the fact that this company operates over 13,000 stores in 44 of the 50 United States, if every clerk in every store saved one plastic sack per customer, the benefits for the company would amount to a hefty chunk of change.

It is reported that while touring one of his plants, John D. Rockefeller, the founder of the Standard Oil Company, saw a man operating a machine that soldered the tops onto 5 gallon containers of kerosene. He asked the man how many drops of solder the machine applied, and the answer was 40 drops per can. Rockefeller told the man to try 38 drops, but the buckets leaked.  However, when 39 drops were applied, none of the buckets leaked.  According to Rockefeller, using one less drop of solder per can saved the company $2,500 the first year in the early 1870’s.  As the company continued to grow, that omitted drop saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Small things can often make major differences in our own lives, as well as in the lives of others.  We often desire to help others who are in need, but we can’t think of anything to do for them which we believe will make a significant impact upon them. We can think of several small things (a card, a call, a meal, an offer to babysit for a few minutes), but we deem these as being too insignificant.  We are looking for that one big, unique, beneficent deed that will change their lives forever.

Sometimes, in our own lives, we are searching for that one major decision which will prove to be the turning point in our happiness and destiny; the point at which we cease to sink deeper into the depths of despair, and we begin to rise to the mountaintops of joy. Yet, we can’t find that one major issue which will prove to be the pivot point.  Sure, there are a lot of small problems which we can resolve to improve, but these seem to be merely inconveniences. In our minds, improving them would not make a major difference in our circumstances or outlook.

But we would be wrong on both counts.

Just as the smallest efforts made by employees can produce significant numbers in a company’s bottom line, so the smallest benevolent act can often be just what is needed at the moment in the life of another.

Just as the smallest change in procedures can benefit a major company’s fiscal health, so, often, the smallest changes in our own lifestyle can prove beneficial to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

A cup of cold water. A warm winter coat. An encouraging word. A given up seat. An offer to hold a baby.  All of these can make a major difference in everyone’s lives.

“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42) ESV

“9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21) NIV

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Crossword Puzzle Clues Sometimes Stretch The Meaning Of A Word Until It Breaks.

Crossword puzzle producers face the challenging task of interlacing words based on shared letters.  The producers try to use a balanced mixture of words consisting of everyday terms, occasionally-used expressions, and rarely-spoken words. They sometimes use initials, acronyms, and shortened versions of terms. To make the puzzle interesting and challenging, the crossword producer must create clues which are clear enough to lead a person’s mind to arrive at the correct response, but which are vague enough to force the puzzler to mull over the various possible answers.

Apparently, some words, terms, and acronyms consist of often-used letters which help the crossword producer to more easily interlace all the other words.  When a puzzle creator stumbles upon these easily blendable words, she will use them in almost every puzzle she creates. However, this repetitiveness produces the possibility of boredom rather than interest within the individual completing the various puzzles. To fight this, the producer must generate a variety of challenging hints. The need for a variety of clues may cause the puzzle creator to sometimes falsely stretch the meaning of a word so that she can have one more hint in her arsenal.

Examples may be:

  1. (Puzzle one) A type of academic test.
  2. (Puzzle two) The form of many final exams for a higher education degree.
  3. (Puzzle three) A type of hygiene exam.
  4. (Puzzle four) The founder of Roberts university.

Or another example may be:

  1. (Puzzle one) The shortened form of a pilot’s announcement.
  2. (Puzzle two) A column heading on a flight information board.
  3. (Puzzle three) Information on an itinerary.

And a third example:

  1. (Puzzle one) A female rock star.
  2. (Puzzle two) A biblical city.
  3. (Puzzle three) Lennon’s first lady.

Regardless of the puzzler’s response, the crossword producer must be cautious of overusing a blendable term to the point of its backfiring into boredom, or to the point that she begins stretching its application beyond its meaning.

Spiritually, some terms and biblical concepts may appear to be more easily understood than others.  In the believer’s mind, one term may more readily help to explain and aid in interlacing other concepts.  When this occurs, often, the easily understood idea becomes the foundation for every spiritual conversation in which the believer is involved.

This can happen to preachers.  It is referred to as riding a hobbyhorse.  When a preacher begins to ride a hobbyhorse, every sermon he presents contains at least one reference to the blendable doctrine. Every topic that is discussed will lead to at least a brief discourse concerning the blendable doctrine. And every passage read can only be applied through a proper understanding of the blendable doctrine.

It can also happen to any zealous christian.  When one believes a biblical concept to be foundational to the interlacing and connection of many other biblical concepts, he may begin to use this as a standard of judgment concerning the faithfulness of other Christians.  He may make sure that the doctrine is included in every conversation.  He may view every scripture in the Bible as necessarily agreeing with his belief concerning that doctrine. So much so, that he begins to stretch the meaning of the Bible’s teachings concerning the “foundational belief” so that it fits into every passage.

May we always be sure that we do our best to present ourselves approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, but one who rightly divides the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6) ESV

“The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6) ESV

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Every Scene Our Eyes Behold Has The potential To Produce A Masterpiece.

As I was driving to town yesterday, I passed a young lady who is trying to establish herself as a professional photographer.  She, camera in hand, was walking along a fence line, staring out into the pasture field.  She stopped and began to snap several photos. Of what, I have no idea.  My speed and distance made it look as if there was nothing of interest there.  But something had caught the young lady’s eyes and she was trying to establish the best angle and positioning, in hopes of capturing a masterpiece.

Every landscape and panorama which our naked eye takes in has the potential for a masterpiece.  We may not be able to identify the potential due to our lack of artistic appreciation, the speed at which we are traveling through life, or the distance between us and the potential award-winning photo, but every item our eyes behold has the potential of producing a masterpiece.

Sometimes the potential lies in the entire width of the landscape.  A talented photographer can visualize the best focal point and the placement of that focal point on her digital screen.  She can either make her focus crisp and clear, while blurring the peripheral backdrop, or she can bring attention to the main subject by altering its appearance, while making its surroundings draw the eye of the beholder to the subject.

Sometimes the potential for a masterpiece requires a macro view of the world.  The subject may be a raindrop clinging to a fence wire, a honey bee with pollen stuck to its legs buzzing over a flower, or a hummingbird flitting from one feeder to the next.  Sometimes, the most interesting photos capture the smallest details of life.

But every scene which an eye beholds has the potential to produce an award-winning photograph.  Finding the best angle, the best distance, the best lighting, and capturing the best moment are the secrets to capturing that masterpiece.

Spiritually, every scripture in the Bible has the potential to create a masterpiece; yes, even the so-and-so begat so-and-so passages.  Sometimes it’s one’s ability to see the passage in its fullest, broadest context which frames the beautiful meaning of the scripture.  Sometimes, it’s one’s ability to use a macro lens which draws out the more difficult, yet just as beautiful teaching of the passage.  But every Biblical scripture contains the potential for a masterpiece of application to one’s life.

The trick is identifying, unlocking, and capturing that potential.

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18) ESV

“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” (Psalm 119:15) ESV

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” (Psalm 11:37) ESV

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Why Am I So Spiritually Tired? I Would Have Thought That I Would Be Strong Enough By Now Not To Feel So Worn Out.

Our Trailblazer has enough power to easily pull itself down the interstate at 70 MPH.  When the cruise control is set at 70, the tachometer averages about 2000 RPMs and rarely goes above 2500 RPMs, even on major inclines.

The Trailblazer came equipped with a towing package. Today, I pulled an empty single-axle, medium sized lawn mower trailer to Bowling Green.  The trailer is fairly new.  It is well balanced and light weight. It tracks beautifully. It produces very little drag resistance.

Yet, when I activated the cruise control today, the tachometer varied from 2000 RPMs to as much as 4000 RPMs.  The amply powered engine maintained the set speed of 70 MPH, whether I was traveling on a level strip or up a steep incline, but it had to work much harder today than the times the vehicle has made the trip solo.

Today’s experience surprised me.  I would not have thought that the light weight, well-balanced trailer would have placed such a strain on a SUV which was designed to tow.  Yet, it did.

Spiritually, we may be struggling. We may be wondering why.  The reason may be that we are pulling along baggage; baggage which we believe we were meant to drag with us. It may be that the resistance the baggage produces is far more intense than we realize.  This baggage may be the result of sin and guilt. But it may also be the result of non-sinful cares, worries, and anxieties.

No matter how spiritually strong we are, even the lightest load of unnecessary luggage can cause us to work far harder than God intends us to.  It can cause us to doubt, to become burned out and worn out, and it can cause us to quit if we continue to drag it along with us.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) ESV

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6,7) ESV

“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’ As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (Psalm 40:16-17)ESV

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Sin. Does the Bible Teach That Jesus Will Not Condemn Me Even If I Am Living In Sin?

“Neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11)

This verse concludes a story in which a woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. (John 8:1-11) The Law of Moses, God’s law which was in affect at that time, required that adulterers bear the consequences of their sins. Some men publicly brought an adulterous woman before Jesus. They did not bring the man with whom she had been caught.  These men did not care about doing what was right and carrying out the law.  Their purpose for dragging the woman to Jesus was to set a trap in hopes of catching Jesus in his teachings. The woman was the bait with which the men hoped to lure Jesus into their snare.

The accusers did not care about the woman.  They did not care how much they embarrassed or humiliated her. They did not concern themselves with the circumstances which prompted the adultery. They were not concerned about keeping God’s law; had they been, they would have brought the man as well. They were not concerned about the woman’s soul.  As far as the accusers were concerned, this woman was just a pawn in their efforts to conquer Jesus.  There was no love found within the hearts of the fault finding predators.

But there was love flowing from the heart of the intended prey.  There was compassion and empathy streaming from the appointed judge.

Jesus used his divine powers to read the hearts of all concerned, both the accusers and the accused. In his wisdom, he defused the potentially violent situation by calling upon the accusers to condemn themselves through self-examination. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  One by one, beginning at the oldest, the men slunk away until no one was left but Jesus and the woman.  Each of the faultfinders realized that he had done things that were just as bad as those the woman had done, and which deserved just as extreme consequences. Each realized that he was currently sinning in using the woman as bait.  So, each walked away without further accusation.

As Jesus looked at the woman, he asked her where her accusers had gone. When she said there were none left, Jesus told her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Many people read this story and they stop with Jesus’ words, “Neither do I condemn you.” They hope to use these words to try to justify their desire to remain in sin.  They point up the fact that Jesus put to shame those who found fault, but he pardoned the one who was caught in the sinful act. In their minds, this proves that Jesus does not expect us to come out of sin, but he will save us in our sin.

When we read and meditate upon this story, we need to make sure that we do not overlook the reason why Jesus put the accusers to shame.  It wasn’t that the woman was innocent, it was that they were attempting to use God’s law to fulfill their own agenda. There was nothing noble about their intents and purposes. Today, when anyone uses scripture to promote and fulfill his own agenda, especially at the expense of another person, he too needs to realize his own sin, and drop the rocks.

Once Jesus had dealt with the faultfinders, he then turned to the woman who had been caught in her guilt.  He knew her heart, just as he knew the accusers’ hearts. What he saw within her, we are not told. We can imagine what he outwardly saw; a tear-stained face, a trembling, fear-filled body, and a humiliated soul.

In his love Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.” But then he added “Go and from now on sin no more.”

Jesus’ love was never designed to cause people to remain in or to go deeper into their sin. Jesus’ love does not negate the need and expectation of  repentance. The cross was designed to draw people out of a devastating  lifestyle of immorality and wickedness. As Jesus is holy, so his followers are to be holy. (1 Peter 1:13-21)

Mouse over scripture reference to view entire scripture text.

We err if we fail to preach, practice, and expect repentance. We err if we do not listen to God’s word as it calls us to repentance.

Often, we excuse our own sin under the banner of Jesus’ love.  We reason that since Jesus died for us while we were sinners, it must be alright for us to remain in sin while claiming him as our savior. We may even become angry at another person who encourages us to give up our sinful lifestyle. We may reason that they are just as much a sinner as we are.

When we are tempted to become angry at another person who points up the scriptures which convict us of our sinfulness, we need to remember that even if love itself is trapped in a house slated for destruction, it will beg, plead, command, and demand that another person flee the house and its inevitable ruin.

Jesus never loved people deeper into their sins, but out of them.

May we ever follow His example.  And may we ever love those who sincerely try to help us to leave the devastation of sin.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” (Ephesians 5:2-12) ESV


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Thanksgiving: Is This The Holiday Which Best Expresses One’s Feelings For Having The Opportunity To Meet You?

As far back as I can remember, Thanksgiving has always been an anticipated time for family get togethers.  The earliest gatherings I can recall involved my Mom’s extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and siblings.  We would either gather at our house, which was the old homestead, or at the home of one of the aunts.  Lively conversation, early Christmas gifts from our great aunts, huge meals, tossing a football around, visiting the sheep pens, and rabbit hunting all made the day special.

As time progressed, the extension and geographical spreading of the different family branches led to an evolution of the Thanksgiving family traditions.  We began to gather with only my Mom’s immediate family; her parents, her siblings, and our first cousins.  I can still recall the different recipes for which each lady was best known and some of the containers in which they were annually served. The extracurricular activities became more centered around watching football on TV and shooting pool if we were in an urban setting, or stripping tobacco and other chores if we met on one of the farms.

When I met and married my wife, this led to a further evolution of our Thanksgiving traditions.  The food was different.  Her family liked casseroles, and “odd” vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, and Brussel sprouts.  Everyone drank tea made from a syrup. They played games such as charades, and everyone was expected to participate. The make-up of the group consisted of extended family from two or three different branches of the clan. There was also generally a couple of senior citizens who had been especially invited because they had no close family of their own with which to gather.

It took me a while to adapt to these “strange” new customs, but I learned to appreciate their value, especially that of inviting those who needed the fellowship even more than we did.

Throughout the years, as our immediate families have grown, our Thanksgiving traditions have changed and evolved.  For 4 years, Sarah and I have been privileged to share this holiday meal with our oldest daughter’s “in-law” family in Wisconsin.  This is something I would have never dreamed of 13 years ago.  Experiencing this family’s traditions has taught me much as well, especially about being truly thankful to God for all the blessings with which he has bestowed us.

If we live very many years on this earth, our lives will be filled with changes in traditions, people, and personal outlooks.  This year, as we enjoyed our meal with a beautiful christian family far from the geographical location of our own home, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the hundreds of people who have influenced my life.  Some have been family members. Some have been teachers.  Some have been fellow students and coworkers. Some have been mere acquaintances. Some have been spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ. Some are still influencing my life.  Others have gone on, either in death, or in a different direction of life.

But all have made some type of mark on my life.

I am thankful for these people and our encounters.

But if it is true that they marked me in some way, then it means that I have left some type of mark on each of their lives as well. It may have been a brief scratch or scribble, but it was a mark that can be specifically attributed to our encounter.

Knowing this makes me want to do everything I can to be sure that whatever impression I leave on the life of another person, it will be one worth fondly remembering and one for which he can always be thankful.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) ESV

“Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:13) ESV

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6) ESV



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Hay For Sale! But Can You Afford It? That May All Depend On How Much I Think Of My Hay.

I had to buy hay every year that I operated the dairy.  Some years hay was plentiful.  Some years dry conditions caused hay to be scarce.  I bought hay from several different sources.  The sources ranged all across the country, as far away as Wisconsin.,

Every person from which I bought hay was honest.  Each would correctly represent the quality of the product. Each would provide the exact quantity of bales.  Some would even occasionally throw in an extra bale.  So honesty was never an issue with anyone.

However, with some folks, I often found myself bartering to pay more than the asking price for the hay.  This was especially true during the drought years. These people knew that I was going through a rough time.  They knew that I had cows to feed, and could not find hay. Often, they didn’t have much invested in the hay; just a cutting and rolling bill.  They didn’t  have livestock and thus didn’t have a use for it. And deep down, they really had rather given the hay to someone in need than to sell it to them. So these often asked less than market price.

With others I found myself either bartering to pay less than the asking price or walking away. These people knew that I and several more were in need of the hay. They knew that there was a hay shortage. Although they may not have had much invested in the hay nor did they have a use for it, they considered the low supply and the high demand to be a lucky break on their part. They had really rather see the hay rot than to take anything less than asking price. As far as they were concerned, it was absolute top dollar and nothing less.

Few things can nullify honesty more rapidly than can greed.

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17) ESV

“17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 
18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 
19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19) NIV
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She’s Showing Her True Colors!

“She’s showing her true colors.”

We use this phrase to describe someone who is acting in an uncharacteristic manner.  Usually, the uncharacteristic manner is an emotionally-charged, negative reaction to an undesired, unexpected circumstance. When in public, the person normally displays a happy, cheerful, positively-charged outlook on life. But for the moment, he is demonstrating anger, meanness, drama, or disapproval.  Generally, the statement is uttered by someone who has previously witnessed the negative displays; someone who has been with the frustrated person behind closed doors. He is saying, “This is what the person is truly like.  This is his/her character.”

Our 21-month-old granddaughter’s emotions change at the flip of a switch.  One moment she can be happily chattering and energetically tottering from one toy to another, and the next moment she may be dramatically, tearlessly crying, having thrown herself on the floor.

During one of these fits, one of the family members observed, “She’s showing her true colors.”

But is she really?

The statement implies that the rare emotional displays of disapproval demonstrate the true character of the young child, and that her energetic explorations and exuberance are nothing more than a mask donned for the benefit of those around her.

I believe a child this age possesses nothing but true colors.  When she is happy, the energetic, wide-eyed explorations and incessant chattering are the expressions of her true colors. When she is unhappy, the dramatic displays are her way of expressing who she really is at that moment.

It is true that it won’t take her long to begin to develop other shades of expression, but for now, what she is is what she shows you.

This may be one of the points Jesus had in mind when he said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17) ESV

We don’t develop true colors of expression until we gain the ability to identify, control, and manipulate our attitudes, our emotions, our philosophies, our visions for the future, and our desires for relationships.  When we reach this point of maturity, then we begin to show the world a veneered side of our personality, while we let those closest to us see the stripped, natural side of our persona. The applied façade we hope the world sees is positive, happy, and likeable – a regular public relations poster child.  While many times, the true colors demonstrated behind closed doors are anger, frustration, and unhappiness – one which sounds much like a raging WWF challenger who has just been defeated.

Almost all teens and adults have true colors and fake colors; the persona which they display to the world, and the personality which stares them in the face when they look in the mirror.  For most people, the distance between the two is not as drastic as that described in the last two sentences of the above paragraph.  But regardless of the distance between the two, because there is a difference, most of us are miserable.

We dislike and are dissatisfied with ourselves.  We want to be like the small child.  We want to be pure.  We want the happy, energetic, optimistic person to be our true colors. On the other hand, on the rare occasion when the world sees our other side, we want those negatives to be our true colors as well.  We do not want to be a hypocrite.

So, how do we accomplish this task?

The best start is to look toward Jesus as our example and our motivation.  What a person saw of the public Jesus was what a person would see in the private Jesus.  His persona displayed his character and his character daily renewed his persona.

Jesus claimed, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)

When we can get to the point that we had rather do God’s will than to eat, then we will be like the example. This change in lifestyle doesn’t come easy.  It is much like beginning a physically healthy diet.  As long as we see it as just a change in what we eat, and not a change in lifestyle, then we may realize some short-term, temporary success, but eventually we will go back to our old ways.  We must change our thinking, which leads to a change of lifestyle, which leads to a new us.

May we all be able to remember and apply the following verses:

21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:21-24) NIV

14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16) NIV


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The Modernization of a Dairy – A Satire

The 60-cow family dairy on which I was reared operated for about 50 years; from 1960 till 2013.  My family members, especially my dad and mom, provided most of the labor throughout those years. Daddy enjoyed reading about the newest technologies, but the last true modernization of the dairy was completed in the late 70’s and early 80’s. When I sold the cows in 2013, the daily operation of the dairy was very simplistic and labor efficient. One man could run the whole show.

Today, if a farmer were to begin a dairy, patterning it after modern-day business models, he would implement the following practices:

Hire and maintain at least four specialized milk hands; one to milk the healthy cows, one for the 3-quartered and lame cows, one for the sick cows, and one for the cows with personality problems.

Hire and maintain at least three sanitation people; one for solid waste, one for general housekeeping, and one for clean-in-place pipeline sanitation since it involves two types of corrosive chemicals.

Hire and maintain a specialized supervisor over feeds, a specialized supervisor over fencing, one over pasture, one over housing and comfort, one over newborn calf care, one over adolescent heifer care, etc. A specialized bachelor’s degree would be required for each supervisor.

Provide counseling for both human and animal employees since traumatic circumstances occur daily; these range from conflicts, to rebellions, to crippling accidents, to death.

Provide 1-3 assistants and 1-3 substitutes for each supervisor and employee.

Provide compensation and benefit packages for each employee which would include, but not be limited to: a laptop, a cell phone, a company truck, a company matching or subsidized 401K, company provided insurances, 1-4 weeks paid vacation time, 180-250 annual contracted work days, 1-2 weeks paid annual sick and personal days, incentives such as bonuses, profit sharing, continued education or certification reimbursements, etc.

At first, after these modernization were implemented, consumers would wonder why milk jumped from $2/gallon to $100/gallon almost overnight. No doubt, their first reaction would be to boycott the audacity of expecting them to pay such exorbitant prices. However, considering the increase in the quality of the product, I’m sure the consumer would eventually come to their senses, and gladly accept the consequences of the necessary modernization.

Spiritually, no matter how complicated the world around us becomes, the simplicity that is found in Jesus never changes. May we always strive to maintain that simplicity. And may we always be thankful that the price of our salvation never increases.

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) KJV

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) ESV

“But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) ESV


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That’s Why The Cliche, “Easier Said Than Done,” Fits So Much Of Life

I once watched a video to learn to cut a hole in a kitchen counter top in order to install a sink.  The woman who demonstrated the technique was an older lady with a grandmotherly face.  She was apparently quite experienced, and  meticulously explained each step.

For the visual instruction, the lady demonstrated the technique on a piece of flat particle board that had not been laminated, nor did it have a back splash.  Several times, she stressed that the cut needed to be made on the laminated side of the counter top, not the underside.  After cutting the hole, she  secured the sink with clips, and she explained that all models of clips install the same way.

“It’s easy!” she exclaimed.

The next day,  I spent quite some time measuring, marking, and taping the laminate side of my daughter’s new counter top.  I drilled the pilot holes and used my jigsaw to make the first cuts just as the grandmotherly woman had said.

Then I came to the back splash.

That’s when I figured out why the woman used a flat board for the demonstration.  Cutting an actual counter top is not easy.  You can’t use a jigsaw or a circular saw to cut along the back splash. The shoe of the saw is too wide and it is impossible to cut as closely as is required to create the proper sized hole for a standard sized kitchen sink.  So, I had to figure out a way to transfer the measurements onto the underside of the counter top and miter it upside down.

As for the sink clips, they do not all install the same way.  In fact, the ones I bought would not begin to secure the sink the way they were designed so I had to use a little ingenuity to keep from wasting my money.

The moral of the story?  Don’t trust anyone who says, “It’s easy.”  Not even a grandmother.

Spiritually, there will be many who will make living a faithful christian life sound and/or look easy.  For them, it may be easy.  But for the rest of us, it may very well prove to be the most difficult project we ever undertake.

This does not mean that we should give up.  Never give up. That’s the message within the book of Hebrews. It simply means that living the christian life may prove far more difficult than we have been led to believe. However, when we persevere, our appreciation of the reward will prove to be far greater than it would have been had the journey been a piece of cake.

“32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Hebrews 10:31-39) ESV

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