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The article on the inherent dangers of sugar made sense. A little bit goes a long way. But, a little bit of sugar just doesn’t seem to be the operational mode for any drink that uses sugar at all.

Finally, some relief.  The featured piece did make an allowance.  Since diet drinks did not use sugar, any of those options were legitimate.

Not long ago I was sipping on my diet drink.  Then, I was reading an article on the dangers of sugar substitutes.  It was even difficult to pronounce the names of these replacement sweeteners.

Of course the point of the article was to try to dissuade people from drinking the suspicious diet drink. Who knows what affects those horrible beverages will have on the innocent human body. But, at least there was some hope in this read as well.

Tea was a good option. Everything was natural. Tea was beneficial in fighting many diseases and illnesses.

Following the health nut recommendation, I was sipping on my bottle of green tea.  Of course I was reading an article. It was a connoisseur of teas that was being interviewed but of course another health tabloid.

She was saying that tea was a wonderful beverage. However, only drink freshly brewed teas. Bottled teas don’t have along shelf life and turn acidic over time. Acidic teas neutralize many of the health benefits from drinking teas.

Being the compliant learner that I am, I set aside my bottled green tea and began brewing my own.  The aroma was wonderful.  A hot cup of great smelling tea was the kind of comfort food that makes our day go along well.

Then, while enjoying a comfortable seat, enjoying the internal warmth from my freshly brewed cup of tea, I casually read the health wise article in front of me.  The missive traced the production of  materials used by many companies selling tea for tea bag brewing.

Shock! This material is cheaply made and massively exported all over the world.  The problem is that the production is unregulated and the materials used are carcinogenic! Good grief!

What’s a conscientious person supposed to drink around here, anyway?

Jesus turned the water NOT into diet soda.  Nor did He turn it into bottle green tea.  He didn’t even turn it into freshly brewed tea.  It was wine!

Pass me a bottle, quickly! I’m thirsty.

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Israel 2014 IFL 401There is a military presence in Israel that we do not experience in America.  Modern warfare and international threat are a part of an Israeli’s daily routine.  They go about their errands and travels without distraction from the weaponry and what those trappings of war could mean in a day that has the potential to erupt into violence.

On my tour I have subtly glanced at the presence of soldiers who were around.  When a man in fighting fatigues is in my vicinity and he is heavily armed for an altercation, I take notice.  Yet, there is something unique about Israel and its presence for battle.

You can look exclusively at the weaponry or you can look into the faces of the soldiers.  The guns and ammunition tell you that these soldiers are ready to fight.  They are colleagues who will fight together and for each other.

Yet, their collegiality supersedes their armament.  There is calm in their countenance.  A joy is pervasive among these young combatants.

They are not nervous about carrying weapons into a crowded square, packed with people from all around the world.  Locals mix in with pilgrims are part of the gathering that these sentinels are to guard from harm.  A successful sense of calm and security come with the presence of these warriors.

Israel 2014 IFL 402Each one carries his armament like he is comfortable with them.  That confidence comes from splendid training and experience.  Preparation like that gives us visitors a peace that frees us to enjoy our visit.

At the same time that sense of peace is held in check.  The very presence of the military reveals that the threat to peace is ever-present.  Contrasting political views vie for dominance.

Some want only peace and have proven their willingness to coexist.  Others are not so gracious.  That tension is the basis for placing these soldiers in our presence.

The spiritual world is the same.  We are surrounded by the trappings of spiritual conflict.  There is an invisible yet clear presence of an enemy who is constantly attempting to derail those in pursuit of righteousness.

We have been given the equipment to battle successfully against the wiles of the Devil.  They are listed for us as pieces of armor.  Each item is effective but we need to practice, train and utilize them until we are comfortable with them.

Our battle calls for truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, Word and prayer.  These are for our protection.  Are we comfortable with each and all?  Being prepared for war is wisdom.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Joshua 21,22
Part 7 of 7

 

When we are in the middle of a misunderstanding and our accusers are vehemently convinced that we are guilty of their imaginations, remember to put your deepest trust in the fact that God knows what really is the truth.  Trust must result in confidence.  Tell the truth but do not fight as the world fights.

 

Say the words “The LORD knows,” so that you hear yourself declare that truth.  Others will try and bait you with their challenge to fight, but do not sink to their level.  They may well resort to anger, vile allegations or even tears, but resolve to maintain your dignity and control.

 

Finally, when all is said and done there may be no resolution to the truth.  Resist being bitter.  God said that we would suffer trials of many kinds.  In the end how He provides and how He leads us will be the best testimony of what is true.

 

Misunderstandings will happen.  People will be divided on what is true.  Tell the truth and let the results be arranged by God’s providential blessing in the lives of the afflicted.  If we follow these instructions, His name will be glorified in our lives.

 

Thanks for walking with me as we live these Scriptures.

Can you imagine the Apostle Paul being embarrassed?  Does the idea of this courageous and bold man of God cowering behind tender feelings seem odd to you?  He was feeling that way when he addressed the Corinthian believers in his second letter to them.

They were in pursuit of the “super-apostles” as if they were the earliest “groupies” in human history.  Whenever one of these eloquent teachers stood on his soapbox in the Agora, they would flock to hear his tantalizing words.  It was not a quiet academic pursuit, they loudly invited their acquaintances and vociferously lauded the unverified credentials of these charmers.

Consequently, Paul had to rein them in by competing on the level that he did not enjoy.  He forced himself to lay out his credentials in comparison, showing that he was not only equal to any of these charlatans but superior to them.  Instead of the Corinthians taking the initiative to defend and acclaim their apostle as the bearer of truth, he had to do it himself.

True apostleship must be accompanied by signs, wonders and miracles.  Paul had more than the minimum that demonstrated these authentic qualifications.   Furthermore, he never imposed himself on the Corinthian believers for any inconveniences, never once being a burden to them.  This ease of relationship should have not been missed by them but it was. 

Nevertheless, the Apostle Paul was planning a third visit to this gathering of Christians in Corinth.  His purpose is not to take advantage of their resources.  He only wanted to win their hearts.

Paul loved these believers as a father loves his own children.  He wanted to take care of them not for them to take care of him.  We who share in the privilege of ministry don’t easily live with this example.  Our hardships and want in life have often left our souls longing for better compensation so that the ministry is not a distraction for us.  Yet, if we love as God wants us to love and live according to that simple principle, God will make it work out.

In Paul’s emotional plea for the Corinthians to consider their loyalties, he taught the valuable lesson.  Will those that serve God among us feel our love as we care for their needs out of our initiative?  When we find a pastor or Christian leader who gives of  himself without selfless demands on us, will we give them our favor and care?

2 corinthians 12.11-18

My field of specialization is theological education.  All of my professional career has been spent helping future and current leaders think critically, reason objectively and then apply their decisions to real life.  This is my world: graduate education.

When a person enters the rigorous world to earn their Masters degree, they are intentionally pursuing a remarkable level of formal education.  Learning will be a massive hurdle and intense challenge to their sou.  Their objective is to then serve others with that heady background.

This is in large part, why it is frustrating to hear monologues, read blurbs or join in conversations where the basis of reasonableness, logic or theological coherence are void or corrupted.  Why would people accept error that is obviously nothing more than flawed human opinion?  How could good people settle for trite explanations or dismiss solid rationale with the mere wave of someone else’s loud opinion?   Are humans so vulnerable?

In the daily struggle for human survival and the pursuit of truth how can we protect what is true?  How can we listen to opinions and choice wisely what we will embrace?  Even further, can we keep from parroting falsehood and spreading the empty words that mislead the minds of  others?

Paul felt this very struggle.  He lived in a day when false apostles gained popularity with their eloquence.  They fed on the audience’s applause.

The Apostle called it foolishness when someone chose the path of a pompous self-centered egotist.  Boasting is opposed to the humility that righteousness accompanies, always.  Yet, Paul was making a facetious point with his method of writing to the Corinthians.

Since they were so caught up with the elocutionists of the day and their self-claims of credentials, he would play their game with the bravado of clarity that this was all foolish.  By pedigree alone, Paul was superior to any of these braggarts. His life experience was so vast in his service for Christ that these competitor teachers had no reason to be even compared to him.

Instead, Paul elevates the qualities of holiness that should be treasured by believers, namely, weakness.  Taking a lowly position is God’s way.  Yet, even then surrounded by danger, God makes a way of escape for those who are called to His purposes.  Paul is a living testimony to this.  Think and reason beyond human experience.  Analyze well what you hear people say and measure it against what God says is true.

2 corinthians 11.16-33

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