Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Puppies & Sin Nature

We have a new puppy at home. His name is Monty. He looks alot like this little one. He's a nine-week-old Beagle and is so adorable. His face says, "I'm sweet. I'm innocent and there's no way you could punish me."

Surprisingly, he already understands the word "No." He's probably heard it a thousand times in the two days we've had him. But when he hears the word he quits doing what he was doing and walks away, head down, very hurt that anyone could be so cruel to him. Then he promptly returns to what he was doing as soon as I'm not looking.

Can anyone say, "Original sin?" 

I'm kidding, of course, but the puppy does know what he's supposed to do and he chooses not to. That is James's definition of sin. (James 4:17).

How often do we as Christians knowingly participate in that kind of sin? "Oh, it's just a little thing, won't hurt anyone," we might say to justify ourselves. 

I work in the accounting office at a Christian university, believe me it happens all the time, those little lies to get around an uncomfortable situation or to get out of something unpleasant.

In the past, it was shocking to discover such a lack of integrity in someone (though it happened often enough), but it seems to be completely acceptable to this Millennial generation-those under thirty. Maybe "acceptable" is the wrong word. They understand it's not right or at least not the best thing, but somehow they're able to disconnect from the action and justify it.

"I don't say it's right, but that's not who I am as a person," one college student said to me recently. "It was just this situation because. . ."

Don't get me wrong, it's not just the younger generation, it has always been a problem--it's human nature. And, of course, there are always exceptions to a generalization, but however many fit this description in any generation is too many.

Like the puppy, we think we're too cute, or not bad enough, or that God loves us so much He wouldn't punish such a little sin.

Jesus, forgive us!

And may we never return to our vomit like a dog. (Proverbs 26:11)

Friday, February 18, 2011


We've had unusually warm temperatures in Minnesota this week. Yesterday it reached 50 degrees! Snow is melting like crazy and water is running in the streets. We still have quite a way to go before it's gone, but Minnesotans are now eager for Spring. It will get colder again before Spring comes to stay, in fact it will only get up in to the low 30's today, but it's a process.

Ice Sculpture. Winter Carnival. St.Paul, MN
I see my heart in much the same way. Cold to the things of the Spirit, frozen in the ways of the world. But over the years, the warm breath of the Holy Spirit thaws and melts away the hardness little by little. I am renewed and made a little more like my savior with each passing year. Then He breathes again and I'm made aware of another layer of ice. I repent, allow truth to heat me and I melt some more.

This process will take much longer than Spring's arrival to Minnesota, but I have my Savior's promise that when I see Him I will be like Him. He's still working on me.

I'm still melting and Spring is on its way.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Gift of Imagination

Again I find myself in wonder of God's creation. Consider with me the human ability to imagine. Have you ever wondered why God gave people an imagination? I've thought about it often.

Today I read a couple of articles in Whole Living magazine about fear-less (less fearful) living. The article Your Brain on Fear (Whole Living, Jan/Feb 2011 issue) examines the function of our brain that helps us survive.

"It starts in the amygdala, an almond-shaped mass of nerve cells deep in our brains. The amygdala is a small but vital inheritance from our ancestors. It's been called the 'guard dog' of the human brain, activating whenever danger looms. The amygdala plays a key role in regulating all of our emotions, but to ensure our survival, it's wired to process fear first."

This fear function, an instinct also created by our God to alert us to the threat of danger, can be overworked and prevent us from achieving our goals. Fear stifles action and often clear thinking by making our minds focus only on the danger. The article points out that we can retrain the amygdala using visualization and meditation.

This is where imagination comes in. When we visualize ourselves achieving our goals we begin to believe they are possible. Only then will our brain allow us to take the appropriate steps toward achieving our goals. This visualization is a key part of prayer. It augments faith and allows us to pray with confidence and expectation. 

With time and effort we can improve our ability to visualize the answers to our prayers. With this visualizing prayer and the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, we can begin to see God's kingdom come and His will being done.

Begin to imagine what God wants to do, see it in your mind, pray for it and then take a step toward seeing it come to pass.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cholesterol & Flax

I recently learned that I have high cholesterol. This surprised me because I eat healthy and have for years. High cholesterol runs in my family, but I guess I thought diet alone would prevent the problem for me.

The nurse explained that I need to exercise more. Ah, that discipline is a little more difficult for me. But since then I've started a Tai Chi class (which I love, by the way) and tried to be more consistent and more vigorous in my daily exercise routine.
Learn more about Flax here:

Today I read an article about Flax and the benefits it has for cholesterol, menopause and more.  I'd like to share it with you here. You can read this article and other short articles about herbs that heal at this link.


Flaxseed for Menopausal Discomforts and Prevention of Osteoporosis and Heart Disease

Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) is rich in plant estrogens (phytoestrogens). At Laval University, Quebec, researchers gave 25 menopausal women hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or flaxseed (1.5 ounces daily mixed into food). Six months later, flaxseed relieved hot flashes as well as HRT. Flaxseed also mimics HRT’s bone-preserving ability. Oklahoma State researchers gave a placebo or flaxseed (1.5 ounces daily) to 38 postmenopausal women for 14 weeks, and measured calcium excretion in their urine, an index of calcium loss from bone. The flaxseed group showed decreased calcium excretion, meaning reduced bone loss. Recent research published in Drug News and Perspectives also suggests that flaxseed lowers cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
Dosage: 1.5 ounces per day, mixed into food.
Red Flags: Women who cannot take estrogen should consult their doctors before using flaxseed.

Other things for lowering LDL cholesterol are garlic, fenugreek, chromium (nutritional yeast is a great source of chromium. Just mix a tablespoon into a small glass of juice or water and drink), niacin and, of course, exercise or other stress-reducing practice like yoga or tai chi.

Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments section.