Devotion

As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words, that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.

John 12:47-49

God is a God of love …. and judgment.

But judgment is His. Even Jesus said He came not to judge the world but to save it.

If Jesus didn’t come to judge others, why do we think we are able to do it? An even better question: Why would we want to carry that burden? Think about it, haven’t you ever judged someone and then been proven wrong later? If our judgment condemned someone to death, the fear of being wrong would be too much for us to bear.

We all sin and God has the right to sentence any of us to death for it. But instead of sentencing us, He allows us to cover our sin in the blood of Jesus. He forgives us. I’m in such awe of His forgiveness, knowing all He could hold against me. How can I judge and condemn others when He has been so merciful to me?

Dear Lord, how amazing that You forgive us. Thank you that judgment is Yours and I don’t have to carry that burden. Help me to forgive others the way you have forgiven me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Skinny Scare

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Those super skinny jeans so many people wear may soon cause a health crisis of nerve-tingling proportions. A few days ago an Australian woman ended up in the hospital because of her jeans. This woman had been helping relatives move all day in skinny jeans. She had been squatting and working out her muscles and her jeans had felt tighter as the day went on. When she left to walk home that night, her feet wouldn’t move properly, causing her to fall.

She lay on the pavement for hours before receiving help. At the hospital, they discovered her legs were so swollen, they had to cut off her jeans. How on earth had her jeans caused such problems?

Doctors said the squatting was much to blame. As the woman cut off the blood supply to her calves, the muscles started to swell, but they couldn’t swell outward as they normally would because the jeans constricted them. Instead, they swelled inward putting pressure on her tibial nerves and breaking down the muscle fibers. This caused a type of partial paralysis from her knees down.

Her condition could have been serious because a lack of blood flow to the muscles can lead to permanent nerve damage or amputation. Fortunately, this woman didn’t suffer those consequences. After four days in the hospital, she regained feeling in her feet and was able to go home. But I’m guessing she won’t put on another pair of skinny jeans anytime soon.

From painfully high heels to scary skinny jeans, this world would have us believe we must torture ourselves to be beautiful. But that’s not God’s view of us. He says we are all beautiful to Him in our myriad of shapes and colors. We don’t have to suck in or plump up or lift and separate just so we can look like everyone else. Celebrate who you are—who God made you to be—not who your clothes are trying to make you into.

 

References: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/06/22/416487968/painfully-skinny-jeans-land-a-woman-in-the-hospital, http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-skinny-jeans-health-hazard-20150622-story.html

Photo Credit: ID 37779747 © Pogrebkov | Dreamstime.com

Devotion

Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.

Deuteronomy 14:22-23

Okay, so I’m about to talk about money. If you must, go ahead and ignore this devotion. I know money brings up a lot of strong feelings and I understand why. It’s one of the reasons the author of Hebrews said in Hebrews 13:5:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you: never will I forsake you.’

Some people think tithing (giving 10% of your income to the church) is an outdated Old Testament idea. I can see their point since most of the references to tithing are in the Old Testament.

But the New Testament has much to say about money—or rather the love of money. Having money is not the problem. It’s the relationship you have with your money. And you don’t have to be Scrooge McDuck diving into piles of gold coins to have a bad relationship with money (I’m dating myself here, I know).

Buried at the bottom of verse 23 in Deuteronomy 14, we are told the reason for tithing, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.

The purpose of tithing is to teach us reverence for the Lord who provides all things for us. Our money isn’t really our own. Everything we have is given to us by God’s gracious hand. And God wants us to celebrate His provision with Him by partnering in His work. He will continue to provide for us as we walk in obedience with Him.

That’s reason enough for me to tithe.

Dear Lord, thank you that we get to partner with You financially in Your work and also reap the benefits of obedience to You. Help us to be faithful in our walk and to give control of our finances over to Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Giraffe Head Rush

My husband and son when he was 18 months old

There’s something I just love about big things. For instance, my husband is 7 feet tall (keep in mind the giraffe in the picture is bending way down), I love big dogs, especially Great Danes, and I think giraffes are amazing. Giraffes can reach heights of 19 feet tall, making my husband look short.

Have you ever wondered how giraffes get blood up to their head more than 6 feet away from their heart? How do they bridge the distance when they stand without getting a head rush and how do they keep their head from exploding when they lean down?

Scientists once thought the giraffe had an extra-large heart to pump the blood up its long neck. This was an assumption that turned out to be incorrect. At about 25 pounds, the giraffe’s heart is average (if not a little small) when compared with other large animals.

Turns out the giraffe gets blood up to its head the same way my husband does—high blood pressure.

The key for the giraffe is in the construction of the heart. The left ventricle of a giraffe’s heart is very thick and has a small opening for pumping blood. This gives it a strong beat capable of generating twice the blood pressure of a human (about 280/180 mm Hg). Also, the heart beats faster at 150 beats per minute, again double that of a human. This creates the pressure needed to pump the blood up to the neck when a giraffe is standing.

But what about when it leans down? The giraffe has a special configuration of blood vessels called a rete mirabile that acts as a pressure-regulating system. The rete mirabile is a dense network that can temporarily re-route the blood so not all of it flows to the brain and the giraffe’s head doesn’t explode.

It amazes me to see how God designed the complex innermost parts of the stately giraffe. Perhaps my affinity for big things comes from knowing how huge and limitless our God is. Nothing is too great or overwhelming for Him to handle.

 

References: http://www.giraffeconservation.org/giraffe_facts.php?pgid=4, http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8368000/8368915.stm, http://animals.about.com/od/hoofedmammals/a/tenfactsgiraffes.htm

Photo by Janice Boekhoff 2005

Devotion

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.

Luke 8:49-50,52-53

Is trust in God really that hard? If we knew all the details of His plan, if we knew how our pain and suffering would be used to show Him working in our lives, we would agree with His plan.

Let me say that again—if we had all of His foresight, we would agree to His plan.

Have you ever thought about that? He is all powerful and totally loving. That means, no matter how hard things in our life seem, He allows it with a loving hand. This means He uses it to further our spiritual growth and to enhance His kingdom in some way. So if we love Him, we can trust Him and choose to follow His plan.

It is only by His mercy that He doesn’t show us everything in advance. Imagine for a minute that you knew every bad day you would have. Before you woke up in the morning, you would know the trouble that would come. Would you try to avoid it? In our human nature, of course we would.

Even if I knew that day would better me in some way or benefit others, I would still try to avoid it. This makes me think of the prophets in the Old Testament who were shown things that would happen—some good and some bad things. It must have been heartbreaking for them to know the depths Israel would need to endure or the suffering our savior would bear.

Sometimes, it is a blessing not to know. And I’m the scientist type who always wants to know everything. But with God, we don’t need to know, we need only to trust.

Jairus trusted that his daughter could be made well by Jesus. The crowd laughed at them, but they didn’t know Jesus’ plan any more than Jairus did. Jairus trusted and it saved his little girl. What will you trust Jesus with today?

Dear Lord, thank you that You are trustworthy. Give us Your eyes to see when we must know things and let us rest in the blessing of trust when we don’t need to know. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Infectious Poison Ivy?

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My sister called me this week to get sympathy about her persistent poison ivy rash. I suggested that the poison ivy might be spreading through her bloodstream—a diagnosis I’d received many years ago from a doctor after a severe case of poison ivy that made my entire face swell up like a boxer who went three rounds with Mike Tyson. My sister laughed and told me that was a myth.

“No way. I heard that from a doctor,” I said. I didn’t tell her it was thirty years ago when the doctor told me this.

Amazing how some myths can be so persistent. When we hear from a trusted source, we believe and don’t question. That can be a good thing, if the trusted source is God, but anyone other than Him shouldn’t be put on a pedestal of perfection. Everyone gets it wrong sometimes or at least doesn’t have all the information.

So of course I had to do the research on poison ivy and I found more myths out there than I would have thought. Here are some of them. Maybe you’ve been believing these, as well.

MYTH #1: Poison Ivy can spread through your bloodstream.

As a scientist, it hurts to admit I believed this for so long, but poison ivy does not spread through your blood. You must come into direct contact with the urushiol oil on the plant to get a rash. Many of us start out immune to this oil, but become sensitive to it through exposure, which stimulates our immune system. Most people develop sensitivity to the plant in their teens, but there are some people who never develop this sensitivity.

MYTH #2: You can get poison ivy just by being next to the plant without touching it.

To get poison ivy, you must come into contact with the urushiol oil, which then irritates your skin. This means direct contact from the plant or from other sources, like your dog’s fur or the pair of pants you wore or the hedge clippers you used. The only exception to this is when poison ivy is burned because then, the oil can become airborne on the particles of smoke and spread poison ivy to the eyes, mouth and respiratory system. Please do not burn poison ivy.

MYTH #3: The blisters caused by poison ivy can spread poison ivy to the rest of your body.

Actually, the weeping blisters are your body’s reaction to the urushiol oil and they contain no oil inside them (because the oil has already been absorbed into the skin). Even by itching the blisters and breaking them open, you can’t spread poison ivy to other parts of your body.

MYTH #4: Poison Ivy can’t cause a rash after the leaves fall.

All parts of the plant (except maybe the pollen) contain the irritating urushiol oil, therefore you can get a rash by coming into contact with the base of the plant after the leaves have dropped.

MYTH #5: If you eat poison ivy, you will eventually develop immunity to it.

This one shocked me. I’d never heard of eating the plant, but apparently some people have advocated this. Please do not do it. This can be at best irritating to your system and at worst can cause a fatal allergic reaction.

You might be wondering why the rash appears to spread if it can’t spread through your blood or by the blisters. This is because different areas of your skin have a different thickness and therefore take longer to develop the rash. For instance, few people develop poison ivy at all on their fingertips because the skin there is so thick. The oil can continued to penetrate and irritate your skin for one to two weeks. Also, you may be coming into contact with the oil on items you wouldn’t suspect. In my sister’s case, she discovered it was likely her shower puff.

Now that we’ve reached the summer months, be on the look out for that irritating three-leafed plant (see picture above). And for goodness sakes, don’t eat it!

 

References: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/understanding-poison-ivy-oak-sumac-basics, http://extension.psu.edu/pests/ipm/pestproblemsolver/house/lawn-landscape/weeds/poison-ivy-myths, http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=158752&page=2

Photo Credit: N03/3565493876″>Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) via photopin (license)

Devotion

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 1:9-12

Have you ever felt tested, either by Satan or by God himself? I had a period of testing regarding a writing conference. I wanted to go but I felt this oppressive insecurity and fear surrounding the conference. I wrestled with this for a week asking God what I should do. It came down to a question of faith.

I thought God wanted me to go, so that’s what I decided to do. As soon as I made that decision, the oppressive feeling lifted.

I know why Satan didn’t want me to go. I heard God speak loudly at that conference.

Periods of testing aren’t much fun, but I’m reminded of a line in the song “Bring It On” by Stephen Curtis Chapman where he is telling Satan to bring it on. The song says “I’m not going to run from the very thing that will bring me closer to Him, so bring it on.”

Remember, if you’re being tested, God is only allowing it as a way to bring you closer to Him. Don’t be afraid to tell Satan to bring on the trials. No matter what happens, God will bring you through it.

Dear Lord, if I may be so bold as to thank you for times of testing. You use Satan’s schemes to advance Your own plans—how amazing is that? Strengthen us to endure and remind us You are always there. In Jesus’s name, amen.