My Wife Does The Most Disgusting Thing! I Almost Gag Just Thinking About It.

My wife does something that is really disgusting.

It’s so gross that I almost gag just sitting here thinking about it.

I know you’re not supposed to gossip or talk about others, but I just can’t help it.

The thing my wife does is . . .

. . . put a strainer in the kitchen sink drain so that it catches all the food scraps that might clog the drain.  I hate having to empty this slimy contraption when I wash the dishes.

(Now, for those of you who eased up in your seats to get a better view of a tidbit of juicy gossip, you may settle back into your comfortable position.)

A scrap strainer placed over the sink drain is designed to keep particles from flowing through the pipes and eventually building up into a clog. The captured food appears disgusting. But I can tell you from experience, the prevention is far less gross than a repair.

When it comes to our communication with others and about others, how many times would a strainer prove abundantly useful for our mouths, our ears, our eyes, and our fingertips.

If only we could purchase an inexpensive screen to filter our communication before we pass it on to another person.  If only we could buy a wire mesh which would prevent scrap-like communication from entering our minds. If such a device existed, it would majorly decrease our troubles. And it would amaze us just how disgusting the messages we often send and receive truly are.

But we can’t purchase such a device.

All we can do is work toward being quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. (James1:19).  When we realize that the things we say directly reflect the condition our hearts, then we may become more careful about what we send and receive. (Matthew 12:34-37). Being unable to restrain our communication renders our religion null and void. (James1:26).

May we ever strive to make our communication gracious, perfectly seasoned with the salt of Christlikeness. (Colossians 4:6).

(P.S. I received my wife’s permission to publish this as long as I included a disclaimer that I would not have to deal with a gross strainer if I would install a garbage disposal. But that’s another story completely.)


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Life Is Like A Mud Puddle. Or At Least It Is In The Eyes Of A Toddler.

Our 2-years-old granddaughter loves to play in mud puddles.  She runs through them, stomps her feet to make splashes, creates waves with her hands, digs into the muddy bottoms, and casts rocks into them. Her first order of business when we go outdoors is to check each depression to see if there is enough water remaining for one last splash.

The puddles in which our granddaughter plays are not very deep. She may get wet and muddy, but she stands no chance of drowning.

A couple of days ago, her father and I took her to a pond.  When we exited the truck, the little one joyfully exclaimed, “Puddle! Puddle!”  I hovered over her the whole time, trying to stay between her and the pond.  Had I not done so, she would have readily run into the deep water.

Our granddaughter’s childish outlook and wisdom about life did not allow her to understand the differences between her play puddles and the huge “puddle.”  In her mind, the pond simply presented lots more opportunities for fun and excitement. She thought she had everything under control.  She did not recognize the extreme variations between the depth of her mud puddles and the massive body of water.

Watching the world’s tragic stories reported by the mass media; reading rants and opinions outlining solutions to the world’s problems; listening to the members of the older, wiser generation as they opine back and forth as to the best plan of actions for the country; and encountering social media threads written by people who are drowning in the cares of this world; remind me that when it comes to dealing with this world, we are all like 2-year-olds.

We all have our own mud puddles in which we feel safe.  We love to splash and play in our shallow water holes. We feel safe and in control.  We are in our little section of the world.  We are home.

Then, we are introduced to the pond; the ocean of this world. In our minds, it is just a bigger version of our puddles at home. We believe that it is no deeper than our play pools.  So, we try to rush out into it, believing that we have everything under control. But we don’t. Nor can we. For the world is far deeper, and far bigger than we can imagine. So, we panic. We lose control.  And sometimes, we drown.

Thankfully, we have someone available to help us deal with the world. We have someone to help us understand its vastness and depth.  We have someone to help us differentiate between its potential for beneficial good, and its potential for dangerous evil.  We have someone available to help us learn when and how to joyfully play within this world, and when to back away in respectful fear.

“25 My soul clings to the dust;  give me life according to your word!

26 When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!

27 Make me understand the way of your precepts and I will meditate on your wondrous works.

28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!

29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!

30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.

31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord let me not be put to shame!

32 I will run in the way of your commandment when you enlarge my heart!”                                                                                   (Psalm 119:25-32) ESV

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How Much Did That Cost Me? I Thought The Sign Meant I Would Receive That Much, Not Pay That Much!

I recently started playing a scrabble game online. The app provides hints and services through which users may locate an available play, or may exchange tiles without losing a turn. These bonuses may be purchased with coins which are collected by reaching certain goals.

In addition to allowing its competitors to play one another, the game offers “challenges” through which its users can play the computer. One can receive bonuses by achieving different levels against the app.

I have played the computer when I have not been involved in other games.  The play button which accesses each level has a picture of a coin and a number. I thought this meant that I could receive 5 or 10 coins if I beat the app. I discovered today, that the meaning of the symbol was that it cost me 5 or 10 coins.  Each time I chose to play the computer, it subtracted coins from my collection, thus depleting my stash with which I planned to buy more hints.

That which I thought was benefitting me and helping me win at the game was costing me opportunities to win. The advisory signs were plainly displayed, but they were displayed in such a way that I misunderstood them.

Satan presents sin in such a way as to make it appear beneficial. When we look at the advisory label, we think it means that committing a sinful act will benefit us and help us to win at life.  But each time we accept Satan’s challenge, it costs us far more than we thought we would gain.  The advisory label is deceptive.

Jesus came to help us see the truth about sin.  He came to love us out of our sin. He came to shine light upon Satan’s deceptions so that we might make wise decisions.

In the computer game, I discovered my mistake by being informed that I did not have enough coins when I requested to play. I discovered my mistake too late. I had depleted my stash of coins.

Evaluate your life today. Don’t wait until it is too late for you to end sin’s deceptive deprivation within your life. Look to God’s Son for your redemption. That is why he sacrificed his life.

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) ESV

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest their works be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21) ESV


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Hearing Aids and Preachers Can Both Prove to be Valuable Instruments For Understanding God’s Word

Hearing aids are valuable instruments when they operate properly.  They can help a person detect sounds that he would not be able to detect unaided.  They can help a person interpret and understand speech which he would not be able to understand unaided. They can give a person needed confidence to operate in a social setting; confidence he would not possess unaided. Hearing aids are valuable instruments when they operate properly.

But when these tools do not operate properly, they become a hinderance.  The inserts act as earplugs, muffling sounds to the point that one can hear more clearly without the aids than he can with them. The digital interpreters emit static and distort any intended communication. One’s confidence to operate within social settings weakens because he doesn’t know for sure whether to wear the aids, or to go back to his unaided hearing.

Hearing aids are valuable instruments when they work properly, but when they don’t, they become more of a hindrance than a help.

Preachers and Bible teachers are valuable instruments when they operate properly.  They can help a person detect important words and phrases which one might not detect unaided.  They can help a person understand and interpret commands and teachings which one might not be able to understand unaided.  They can help a person build his faith upon truth and properly utilize it as he navigates his way through life.  Preachers and Bible teachers are valuable instruments when they operate properly.

But when these tools do not operate properly, they become a hinderance. Their teachings can act as stumbling blocks, concealing truths that one might clearly see were the word of the preacher or teacher not hiding them. Flawed preachers and teachers can emit static and distort the intended message of God to the point that a person misses plain truths which he would have no trouble understanding through an unaided reading of the scriptures. One’s faith can become weak and unstable when it is built upon a flawed theology which has been emitted from a pulpit or lectern.

Preachers and teachers of the scriptures can be valuable, irreplaceable instruments when they operate properly, but when they do not, they become a hindrance to the masses who are trying to find their way home to God.

“Then I said: “Ah, Lord God, behold the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them to speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.’” (Jeremiah 14:13-14) ESV

“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14) ESV

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4) ESV

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For What Am I Willing to Die?

The “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves” theme song is the tune that keeps running through my head today; especially the part that says, “I’d die for you.” (“Everything I Do, I Do It For You” as performed by Bryan Adams)

Needless to say, it takes me to the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

But it also brings the question to mind, “For what would you die?”

Do you have anything in your life that you would gladly lay down your life for?

A love?

A loyalty?

A belief?

A cause?

If the answer is, “No,” then it may be time to reevaluate some things.

A person who has nothing to die for has nothing to live for.

“As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20) ESV 

“For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13) ESV

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Even Stand-up Comedians Occasionally Demonstrate Deep Theological Insight. (Or, The Emperor Has No Clothes!)

A good comedian creates laughter within his audience by causing each member of the audience to look in the mirror and to see himself in the quirky actions, eccentric behaviors, contradictory beliefs, and foolish sayings which the comic describes. The audience responds with a spontaneous, healthy laughter because it appreciates knowing that each person has been hit by the jabs and that the behaviors being “roasted” are common behaviors shared by the majority of mankind.

Most of the time, the comedian addresses relatively light subject matter; those behaviors that really don’t mean a lot to anyone or necessarily warrant change. Occasionally, a brave, or perhaps foolish comic will begin to take jabs at the deeper held religious beliefs and traditional practices of a specific audience. That’s when the laughter becomes forced and nervous. The audience members may see the flaw in the mirror. They may have seen it several times before. But they do not want to acknowledge it. And they really do not appreciate the comic making them feel uncomfortable by publicly highlighting a long-held contradictory belief, even though they share the belief with the comedian.

Recently, I heard a standup comic discussing sayings and teachings he had heard many times growing up as a child in a specific denomination. In his words, these were teachings that did not make sense to him as a child, nor could he understand them as an adult. From all indications, he is still a member of that religious group, so he was not taking shots at a denomination with which he had issues.

One saying which he highlighted was, “It doesn’t matter which church you are a part of. We are all going to the same place. We are all on different roads, taking different paths, but all headed in the same direction and to the same destination.”

He said that as a child, this didn’t make sense to him, and that even now as an adult it just doesn’t seem to stand up to reason. He challenged the audience to use that logic on the way home that evening; to just start driving, and not to worry about which direction they were headed, not worry about which road they turned onto, or not worry about whom they followed. He also challenged them to practice that philosophy the next time they planned to travel by flight; to tell the ticket clerk it really didn’t matter which flight they were on, to just give them tickets that had been drawn out of a lottery.

During this segment, the laughter was far less boisterous, and was laced with stress.

Yet, if we meditate upon the comedian’s insight, he is correct in his assessment of that common religious statement.

The Bible never teaches, insinuates, or hints that there are many paths (faiths, churches, movements, etc.) within the Christian religion; each one beginning at the same Christ, and each one meandering in a different direction than the others, but all ending at the same destination. Jesus and the inspired writers of the New Testament spoke of the church (Eph. 1:22, 23), the Way (Acts 24:14), the faith (Jude 3), and the body of Christ (Col. 1:18). They prayed that the church would be one (John 17:20-23) and that there would be no divisions among the brethren (1 Cor. 1:10). Jesus taught that there was a straight and narrow road that leads to life and that there is a wide, crooked road that leads to death; one of each; and each person is on either one or the other. (Mt. 7:13,14).

If it really doesn’t matter what the church teaches about such subjects as the definition and consequences of sin, the way one contacts the blood of Christ, the group a saved person is added to, the oneness of the church, and the organization and worship of the church, why were Acts through Jude written?

If just believing in Jesus is enough, and all other aspects of christianity are irrelevant, do not the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) contain enough information to create saving faith? Yet, Jesus himself told the Apostles, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak of His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me for He will take of Mine and He will disclose it to you.” (John 16:12-14) That which the Spirit heard from Jesus concerning the structure and the teachings of His church is recorded in the books we know as Acts through Jude. Nowhere, in any of these books, can we find even remotely implied that God originated and is pleased with the great division and multiplicity of churches that are found today under the label of “Christianity”.

Sometimes, it takes the innocence of a child to realize and to proclaim, “The emperor has no clothes.” In this case, concerning the statement, “We are all on different paths going to the same place,” from the mouth of a child who grew up to be a stand-up comedian – “The emperor has no clothes.”

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Puzzle Pieces And Faith Are Not Meant To Be Forced Into Service.

The puzzle pictured above consists of a double layered wooden base which has animal shapes cut out of the top layer.  One quarter inch wooden pieces, carved to fit the cutouts, form the puzzle part of the toy. To complete the puzzle, a toddler must choose the matching piece for each hole, and then successfully align it to fit the void.

Our 2-year-old granddaughter likes to complete the puzzle. She has no problem choosing the correct pieces.  However, she does sometimes have difficulty aligning the pieces so that they fit the holes.  She will slide the pieces on the surface of the base, turning them several different ways.  The more difficulty she experiences in getting the pieces to fit, the less patience she has.  When this occurs, she will press more firmly and more firmly upon the uncooperating piece, trying to force it into the opening. Her pressured efforts make the task far more difficult.  Eventually, she will throw her hands up in frustration and quit.

Spiritually, we may look at life and christianity as being like this puzzle. Life forms the base. Our faith forms the pieces. When we feel a void in our lives, we try to choose the correct piece of our faith to fill that emptiness. We then try to manipulate the piece until it properly fits our lives. Often, this proves difficult.  So, we press more firmly upon the selected piece of faith, trying to position it to fill the void.  The more difficulty we experience, the more firmly we press, all the while trying to force our faith into our lives.

Frustration and failure often result.  Since the task appears so difficult, and the results seem so disappointing, many throw up their hands and quit.

In order to overcome this problem, we need to realize that placing our faith into our lives is not intended to be like a puzzle.  Jesus never taught us to try to fit bits and pieces of him into our lives whenever and wherever we feel a void.  He taught that serving him is to form the entirety of our lives. If we are going to faithfully be Christ’s disciples, we must be able to grasp this concept and successfully incorporate it into our philosophy. We must intermingle our lives and our faith until they are one; until they are so completely combined that we cannot experience one without the other.

Then and only then, will be able to say, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) ESV

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How Do You React To An Extreme Weather Forecast?

Just a few observations gleaned from experiencing “extreme” weather conditions over the years on the farm:

There are some things not even the most powerful human being or group of human beings can control. The weather is one. We can study its cause, look for trends, forecast its effect, and make feeble efforts to prepare for it, but we cannot control it.

Attitude goes a long way in determining the effect uncontrollable circumstances have upon us. We can control our own attitude, but that’s all we can control.  Attitudes can be contagious. So, if we have a negative attitude toward the uncontrollable, we need to be considerate with whom we share it. And if we are susceptible to developing negative attitudes, we need to be careful about who we allow to influence us.

Young people do not realize how young and inexperienced they really are. Middle aged people don’t realize how “yold” (Yes, this is a made-up word.) they really are; they don’t realize how much they should have already learned, but how little they apparently have. And old people do not realize how much their experiences have changed their ability to deal with “extreme” weather.  Every age group considers itself almost invincible, often making plans, starting projects, or heading down the highway without considering the “what ifs” that inevitably will occur.

Water is essential to a healthy life and can be enjoyed when consumed and used in the proper form and quantity. However, like most any essential element, water can be hazardous and/or fatal when a massive amount is consumed or when a major amount falls from the sky within just a short period of time.

Being able to semi-accurately forecast the future is advantageous, but it can also produce unnecessary fear and dread, especially when we cannot control the events being forecast.

Although written about God’s message to Joshua, Joshua 1:9 might very well apply to us today because we have received many similar promises:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)

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A Clean Nose May Be The Secret To Enjoying Life.

When I was operating the dairy, there would be the occasional cow who would refuse the feed I placed in front of her.  Sometimes this was an indication of an illness or upset digestive system.  But sometimes, the refusal had nothing to do with health issues.

The problem revolved around a foul-smelling substance on the cow’s nose. She may have purposely placed her nose in the substance, or she may have gotten it accidently smeared on her muzzle when her head happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The cow wanted to eat. She would sniff her feed and try to take a bite, but the pungent smell would weaken her appetite. The cow would then look at me as if asking me to give her a new portion.  I would try to help by sprinkling fresh feed into the trough.  But no matter how aromatic the feed, no matter how rambunctiously all the other cows devoured it, this cow could not eat because the foul-odor was present no matter where she placed her muzzle.

As to my helping her with the situation by cleaning her nose, that was generally improbable because most of my cows would not allow me to touch their heads in such a personal manner.  The only solution to the problem was for her to clean her own nose, and to keep it clean.

Spiritually, many ruin their attitudes and outlooks on life by sticking their noses where they don’t belong. These people may want to enjoy the blessings of life, but no matter where they turn, the foul smell of past experiences or of unwise probing into other people’s business rob them of the ability to appreciate the beauty that lies all around them.

Although friends or professionals may try to help these people overcome their distorted view of life, in the end, the person with the dirty nose is the only one who can clean it.

If life constantly smells distasteful to us no matter what environment we find ourselves in, chances are, the problem lies not with life, but with the hygiene of our own nose.

“All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:15) ESV

“But we urge you, brothers, . . .to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-11) ESV

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