Month: July 2014

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

I asked a Christian Missionary who had given her life to Christ, why she was so obsessed with her children’s education. Her answer frightened me and I think it brought some awareness to her as well.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am not against education, or going to the best schools but when we obsess and idolize over anything this becomes a problem. Many Christian Missionaries come to this country to share the Good News as well as to partake in the many amenities this great country has to offer. The problem for Christians begins when we start to adopt the American lifestyle of “taking it easy”, the “I deserve a better life” attitude, the ” I need things to make my life complete” attitude… this is not what Christ has called us to do.

Matthew 16:24  Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  

This Christian Missionary’s new idol was her children’s education… and this literally took up all of her time – her children even said “If I get A’s in my class that means I love Jesus and Jesus loves me more…” This lady was not shy and even bragged about how she struggled obsessively getting her children into the best schools… I began to ask her a series of questions:

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I first asked her, “what if your children say they want to become Missionaries (like you and your husband) teaching the Bible and helping those less fortunate”… this question infuriated her and she said, “My children will go to school, graduate, work and serve God where I live.” I knew this was a touchy subject so I laid off and asked her…

ME: “WHY were you so intent on getting your children into the best Pre-School? and she responded…

HER: “So that they can get into the best Grade School Kindergarten-5th grade”

ME: I asker her “WHY would you want them to get into the best Grade School?” and she responded…

HER: “So that they can get into the best Junior High School”

ME: I asker her “WHY would you want them to get into the best Junior High School?” and she responded…”

HER: “So they can get into the best High School”, I asker her

ME: “WHY would you want them to get into the best High School?” and she responded…

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HER: “So they can get into the best College”, I asker her

ME: “WHY would you want them to get into the best College?” and she responded…

HER: “So they can get into the best Grad Program”, I asker her

ME: “WHY would you want them to get into the best Grad program?” and she responded…

HER: “So they can get the best and highest paying JOB”… I asker her “WHY would you want them to get the best and highest paying job?” and finally she had no response! There was dead silence… as she had run out of answers… so I decided to answer this one for her…

I said to her, “they will have the best job and the most money so that they can one day afford the very best TOMBSTONE when they die.”

My point is simple, what use is education, money, knowledge, resources if we are not using them for the glory of God? I guess living in the USA changes our mindset, there are so many things that distract us and veer us off our path (this was just one example) I am sure you may have another even better example of how subtle sin creeps into our lives and deters us from following our path in denying ourselves, carrying our cross and following Jesus. May God give us eyes to see through these false treasures and look towards the true treasure of the cross.

Matthew 16:25-26 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

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Here’s A Challenge, Who’s In?

The older I get the more convinced I become that as “rich” Americans, you and I are at a tremendous disadvantage to experiencing the depths of the Kingdom Jesus came to inaugurate. Jesus of course is the one who famously said that it’s “easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom”, a verse we often grow up thinking was about them when really it was about us...

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The culture of the Kingdom is a backwards place where, as Jesus described, the “first will be last and the last will be first”. It’s upside down. Backwards. Whatever “the world” does, Kingdom does the opposite.  Jesus of course, reminds us that we can live in the Kingdom right now,and invites us to step away from the comforts of worldly life so that we can experience the beauty of radical life in the Kingdom.

Such a transition, however, is difficult to make– at least it was for me. Radical living is not part of my nature. Giving my life away instead of finding ways to prop it up, was never something I was taught. For this privileged American, entering the Kingdom was hard. This is because the Kingdom of Heaven is backwards on every level. The ultimate reality I discovered was that I was not free to fully embrace this new way of living until I was free from the unhealthy love affair I was having with myself, and with my possessions. The secret to the Kingdom is that you find your meaning through giving your life away– the exact opposite of what empire teaches!

In this regard, if we want to fully embrace the Kingdom Jesus invites us into, we must enact principles of living that free us from the key things that keep us out of the Kingdom: self and possessions. The following are the five practices I’ve been working on over the last few years that I have found to be a path to freedom; these practices have changed my life. If you put them into practice, consistently, I am convinced that you will discover a radical new life that is beyond anything you’ve experienced before… something Jesus (and now I) call, the “Kingdom”.

 

1. Discover the true meaning of LOVE

The primary meaning of the word “love” in Scripture is a “purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another.” In the Bible it is a fact that loving God is equated with obeying His Word. The two are inseparable.

In our day, most define love as some type of feeling. We “fall in love,” or two people meet and it is “love at first sight.” But the world’s love is a selfish matter. If you are attractive to me, be nice to me, meet my needs and love me I in return will “love” you. The world’s love is based on getting something from some else. The world does not give love where is does not benefit themselves. If you do not please me then I have no love for you. Thus for the world love must be earned by making someone else feel good.

Unfortunately, the true meaning of love, as defined in the Bible, has been corrupted in the common usage of our English language and society. Most often, love is confused with infatuation – that elated, “high” feeling we get when we “fall in love.” This kind of “love” is something that lasts typically less than a year, and unless replaced by true love, results in broken relationships.

1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

This indicates that love and God are one and the same. In fact, the Bible says “God is love.” Love is one of the primary characteristics of God. Likewise, God has endowed us with the capacity for love, since we are created in His image. This capacity for love is one of the ways in which we are “created in the image of God.” But do we really know what it is to love? have you ever felt unconditional love?

 

2. Practice curbing your impulse to acquire.

You and I are surrounded by thousands of messages every day that tell us we NEED MORE. 100% of the time, these messages are lies that need to be resisted. Failure to do so invites us into a never ending cycle where we’re always seeking happiness in the next big thing. Such a life is futile and never leads to happiness. However, this is hard stuff as Americans– the only way to beat the impulse to acquire is to starve it to death. This ultimately leads to a freedom from want, which is one of the best feelings in the world.

 

3. Practice fasting.

This is quite similar to #2, but recovering the practice of fasting was a spiritual behavior that helped me progressively learn to better master general “wants”.  The tradition of fasting is simply a predetermined period of time where you deny yourself something without giving in. When you fast, you give yourself a bite-sized opportunity to learn that you’ll really be okay with less. We often think of fasting as being from food, but I would encourage you to think bigger. For example, last year for lent I fasted for 40 days from reading websites that usually just made me angry (but I loved reading them). By the end of the 40 day fast I realized I was free from them, and haven’t been back all year.

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4. Practice radical generosity.

Find opportunities to give money and possessions away, and do it with a good attitude. If this is hard for you, start small (like we learned in fasting) and let the satisfaction it brings spur you to be progressively more generous. Research some causes that you’re passionate about and find ways that you can give to the cause. Find people in your local area who have a need you can meet, and go meet it. Challenge yourself each year to be more generous than the year before, and even become willing to sacrifice so that you can maintain a lifestyle of generosity. The want to be generous is the only want you’ll never have to fight– just give into it.

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5. Practice radical hospitality.

Hospitality is a form of generosity but goes a bit further. Hospitality is what generosity looks like in a relationship. Make your home a place where people can gather and where you serve them. Increase the frequency that you invite guests over, telling them that they don’t have to bring anything “other than themselves”. Through hospitality, you’re not simply being generous but you’re also developing meaningful relationships which are essential to Kingdom living

Here’s a challenge I’ve accepted and I extend this challenge to you as well: to commit ourselves to practicing these 5 things over the next 90 days (just try each of them at least once) and see what changes in your life. Write to me about your experience at the end of the 90 days, and I’ll compile some of your stories to share with the other readers.

Who’s in?

The Discovery Of Vancomycin aka “Mississippi mud” aka Compound 05865

More than half a century ago, the compound now known as vancomycin was isolated from a soil sample collected deep in the interior jungle of Borneo. The isolation was performed by Dr. E. C. Kornfeld, an organic chemist at Eli Lilly, which had begun a major program to discover new antimicrobial agents with activity against staphylococci. Although it had been only 15 years since the initial deployment of penicillin and the subsequent discovery of macrolides and tetracyclines, staphylococcal resistance to these compounds was already a major problem in hospitals throughout the world.

 

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The soil sample from Borneo contained an organism (subsequently named“Streptomyces orientalis”) that yielded a compound in broth fermentation with a high degree of bactericidal activity against staphylococci. The initial compound was labeled 05865, and early laboratory studies showed that staphylococci failed to develop significant resistance to 05865 on serial passage in culture media containing the drug. Because of the growing menace of drug-resistant staphylococci, the US Food and Drug Administration essentially “fast-tracked” approval of compound 05865, which was subsequently given the generic name “vancomycin,” a term derived from the word “vanquish.” The original preparations of vancomycin from fermentation broth contained a number of impurities, and, because of the brown color of the material, it was nicknamed “Mississippi mud” by scientists at Eli Lilly. Despite its early promise, however, vancomycin was not widely used in the decade following its discovery. The major reason was that methicillin and, subsequently, other antistaphylococcal penicillins were discovered and became the drugs of choice for treating staphylococcal infections. Vancomycin was relegated to a secondary role, in large part, on the basis of results of early studies performed during the mid-1950s that showed it to be ototoxic and nephrotoxic. It is very likely that whatever ototoxicity and nephrotoxicity resulted from the use of vancomycin were related to the presence of impurities in the earlier preparations; when newer, purer preparations were retested in the late 1970s, they produced no ototoxicity and little nephrotoxicity in the animal models, unless given in combination with aminoglycosides. Because of the possible toxicity of vancomycin, it was not heavily marketed during the 1960s and 1970s and was relegated to a secondary role in antibacterial chemotherapy.

 

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However, the worldwide emergence of methicillin-resistant staphylococci in the 1970s rekindled interest in vancomycin. It was only at this juncture that the pharmacokinetics of the drug were determined, and the first of several nomograms for dosage for patients with impaired renal function was published. It was also at this point that the initial reevaluation of vancomycin was published as a supplement in Reviews of Infectious Diseases (the predecessor to Clinical Infectious Diseases). The supplement was entitled “Reassessments of Vancomycin—A Potentially Useful Antibiotic” and reflected a cautious, somewhat measured approach to the potential utility of vancomycin. That publication also marked the first quarter century of the existence of vancomycin as an antimicrobial agent—a period during which it was little more than a “slumbering non-giant.”

Things changed rapidly in the 1980s, however, and the worldwide use of vancomycin accelerated. Another glycopeptide, teicoplanin, was also developed and used widely during that time in most countries, except the United States, where it was never licensed. Because vancomycin was no longer patented by that time, it was not subjected to the intense marketing typically associated with antimicrobial agents. Nonetheless, the drug more than “sold itself” because of a very real clinical need. As predicted from earlier in vitro studies, there was initially little emergence of resistance to vancomycin or teicoplanin among staphylococci and other gram-positive bacteria. However, the emergence of vancomycin-resistant enterococci in the middle of the 1980s served as a wake-up call. It took more than a decade until significant resistance to vancomycin was also discovered in staphylococci. These resistant isolates were initially termed “vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus,” because the MICs of vancomycin for these organisms were in the “intermediate” category of the arbitrarily assigned vancomycin susceptibility breakpoints. Nonetheless, these organisms were clinically resistant to vancomycin, and patients infected with these organisms often experienced failure of therapy with vancomycin. True high-level resistance to vancomycin inS. aureus, which is due to the acquisition of vanA genes, presumably from enterococci, first occurred in 2002 in Michigan. Although this event served as a wake-up call that high-level vancomycin resistance in S. aureus was possible, to date, this has not become a significant clinical problem, because only 5 isolates (all from the United States) have been documented. Nonetheless, more subtle hints of clinical failure of vancomycin have begun to emerge, and there is growing evidence that vancomycin may not be as effective against all strains of staphylococci as it was 25 years ago. At this point, the true significance of this apparently diminished clinical activity of vancomycin (and teicoplanin) remains to be firmly defined, but it is of concern.

Thus, 50 years after its discovery, vancomycin remains an interesting and even somewhat controversial agent. However, we know a great deal more about the drug than we did 25 years ago. It seems more than reasonable at the half-century mark to once again reassess the effectiveness and utility of vancomycin. The articles in this supplement deal with a number of important issues relating to the development, pharmacodynamics, safety, and therapeutic efficacy of modern preparations of vancomycin and should serve to provide an effective framework for determining its appropriate clinical niche in the coming years.

There IS A God!!!

On the fifteenth of May, 1950, a group of students from Oxford University gathered for their weekly debate between atheists and Christians. Huddled inside the Junior Common Room at St Hilda’s College the meeting was chaired by CS Lewis.

A young philosophy student named Antony Flew presented a case for atheism. His speech was titled “Theology and Falsification”. It doesn’t sound very exciting but it became the most widely published philosophical paper of the 20th century and Antony Flew went on to became one of the leading atheist thinkers of the 20th century. It has been said that “within the last hundred years, no mainstream philosopher has developed the kind of systematic, comprehensive, original, and influential exposition of atheism that is to be found in Antony Flew’s fifty years of…writing”. (Roy Varghese, Preface to There is a God).

In 2004 Flew dropped a bombshell – he declared he had changed his mind. He had not had a Damascus Road conversion experience. He had not had a personal encounter with God. He simply believed that the evidence from science and philosophy undoubtedly pointed to the existence of a God.

Anthony Flew said, “I have followed the argument where it has led me” he said ”And it has led me to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent and omniscient Being.” (Flew, There is a God)

Reflecting God’s Goodness

In the very beginning of the story, it all started with dirt… God created dirt and formed the earth and then God takes the dirt and forms man out of it. So He’s working with mud and shapes a creature that is made in His own image. God then breathes His Spirit into the man and the man becomes a living creature.

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And this creature is called Adam; which means earth (made of the earth).

Adam is not like any of the other creatures; not only is he made in the image of God, he’s been given the authority to rule over every other creature. Adam is also given authority to name all the other creatures, when you have authority to name something that means you have authority over their life. And so Adam begins naming all of these animals, male and female and there had to be a pounding question in his own mind… where is the female for me? Where is my partner? Where is my counterpart? Where is someone for me?

But Adam was incapable of providing someone for himself, he needed someone else to provide that for him. And then Adam is put into a deep sleep and while he is sleeping, God is forming a new creature for him. IT would come out of his side and this creature would be something his eyes had never seen  — she would be bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh and they would be naked and not ashamed.

So now man was no longer alone… he has his woman and both of them are beautifully designed to compliment one another. The two have become one flesh. Adam says, “this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh…” and then Adam names her saying “she shall be called woman…”

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So here you have the creature that God created in His image and breaking him into two… removing part of him, he becomes two and then the two become one. This oneness is seen most clearly in the birth of the union of the male and female, a child that is half mom and half dad… there is a complete picture of humanity right there.

And then God instructed them to be fruitful, fill the earth and rule over it, subdue all of creation…

Just like God used heaven as a pattern for the Garden of Eden – everything is perfect, everything is provided, everything was very good… Adam and Eve were to use this pattern for the rest of the world to bless the rest of the world, heavenize the world… and make it beautiful.

Adam had one job to tend and keep the garden. In other words to cultivate and to guard, to beautify and to protect… Well, if I said to you “guard this…” “protect what has been entrusted to you…” the obvious question you should be asking yourself is… protect it from what?

And this is the worst part of this story … Adam is in the garden with his wife… the most precious thing in the garden. He named his Wife and he is responsible for her — he is to be protecting her, beautifying her, doing his job to heavenize her… and the serpent enters the garden – this is what Adam should have been watching for… he should have kept watch and ran to him and crushed his head the second that he saw Satan, especially after what he saw what Satan was doing to his wife.

This is the ultimate break down of a mans responsibility… this is the story of a man throwing his wife under the bus and using her as a guinea pig in the human experiment – Adam was told by God “the day you eat of this fruit, you will surely die…” And the serpent says did God really say…? God did not mean you will surely die, He meant that if you eat of this fruit, you will become like Him.

So who is telling the truth here? God or the serpent… and so Adam allows his wife to be deceived by the serpent. He fails to protect her, he fails to guard her and he watches while he stands there with her, the story says, and watches her eat.

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And we all know what happens next, Adam and his wife run away filled with guilt, shame, fear… and they’re covering themselves with fig leaves – and God pronounces a curse on the serpent, and on Eve’s child bearing… and then God clothes them in skins of animals. Why does God do that?

Have you ever thought about this? God clothes them in the skins of beasts because they had just listened to a beast. Maybe it was a reminder of their sin… God is saying if you’re going to act like beasts, you’re going to look like beasts. Because people always end up looking like the gods they follow.

What do you look like? Are you reflecting Gods goodness or is something blocking you from emanating your light.

Cast Your Cares

In one parable (Matthew 10:29) Jesus tells how two sparrows are sold for a penny yet God looks after them and provides for their needs. He then asks us (rhetorically)… do you think you  just might be worth more than a penny to God?

 

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Because God loves you and cares for you, Jesus tells us over and over to not be anxious for anything. This goes of course completely against our grain of thought. I confess that I am guilty doing just the opposite of not worrying… I continually worry about my problems, I go over them again and again in my head, churning and stirring my troubles in the back of my mind until it’s all I can see; rehashing scenarios and imagined mental conversations in a futile attempt to “solve” them for the umpteenth time… IF you’re honest with yourself (you) too are guilty of worrying.

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What does it mean practically to “give” our cares, desires, or needs to God?

Our lives are a lot like little Cornelius Winkelstein a boy who was struggling beneath a heavy weight of a burdens. He strained with all his might against the burden, but just couldn’t hold on any longer. In defeat, he dropped it, but to his astonishment, it didn’t fall! He looked around to see his father (Mortimer Winkelstein), who had been holding the weight effortlessly the entire time. You see… the boy was never lifting it – he had only been straining against something that was already being held.

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Q. Why is it that we cling so hard to our worries? One reason I believe we cling so hard to our cares is the fear that if we give our cares to God — it means that they will be lost. It seems… to let go we need to cease to care, to forget about our needs. Didn’t Jesus said not to worry? and if we don’t worry about it, doesn’t that mean that we don’t care? So goes our reasoning, but giving something to God doesn’t imply that it is abandoned or lost.

Giving in this context means entrusting…

Entrusting as you would entrust an accountant to prepare your taxes for you, not because you do not care about them, but precisely because you do care and are confident that they will be in competent hands. The “abandonment” does not refer to neglect. We should not neglect doing all that we can, nor does it mean we cease to care, but it does mean that we cease to carry the burden ourselves. Abandonment refers to the openness of our heart. It has a lot to do with trust, or better, entrusting our needs into God’s care.

I want to make it clear that casting our cares is not like some magical/spiritual ATM machine transaction where you insert a promise or a faith-token and are zapped with spiritual power.

God is truly personal and He interacts though relationship. In fact, ALL of God’s gifts, and anything you ever receive from God are always through a relationship with Him… Because when we enter into a relationship with God one of the first things He gives us is His love, 1 John 4:8 ” God is love” therefore when God gives us the gift of love, God is really giving HIMSELF to us!!!

When God gives us peace, God gives Himself (because God is peace).

When God reveals His will, it is by sharing His heart with us in a personal and intimate way.

When we come to God with our hearts and needs, they are not met by some impersonal wave of spiritual “power” that is far off and unreachable. God does love us practically and instrumentally, but it is the interaction/relationship itself that leads to intimacy. Through it we get to know God and ourselves better, and thus grow closer.
God has promised to reveal Himself to us — I encourage you to seek Him in your daily life, in your prayer life, where ever you are and wait for that small still voice as you grow in your intimate relationship with God where He will reveal His character to us and we will finally be able to release all of our burdens into His arms for He is willing to set us free.

 

 

It’s Time For Them To Go…

That day when the man and the woman chose to doubt Gods Word, a lot of things happened… Maybe more than they both knew (maybe more than we know).

Genesis 1:27 says when God created us, “He made us in His image…” with the ability to love Him or to reject Him…

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God never intended to create us in order to force us to love Him — because He does not interfere with our free will. This is because God desires true LOVE, true devotion and a real relationship with us.

So that day God knew when He allowed the man and woman to chose (and) they failed He had to let them go — and maybe that’s how it had to be?

It’s almost innate for children to leave and their parents to stay behind — but still, some things are deeper, more profound than time and distance.  These matters require a tremendous amount of soul searching and meditation… Because if you really and earnestly seek with all your heart … in the end you’ll realize that your Father will always be your Father and He will always leave a light on for you.

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I’m Not a Physicist But I Know What Matter(s)

There is this exhibit you can go and see called the Titanic voyage (https://www.msichicago.org/scrapbook/scrapbook_exhibits/titanic/t_voyage.html).

 

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So there’s this pretty sick tour of a titanic replica where visitors are all given a replica ticket with the name of an actual passenger or crew member who, decades earlier, embarked on the trip of a lifetime. After the tour group walked through the exhibit using their sleeping quarters, eating the same meals as the actual passengers decades before them, after they had done this and seen other artifacts, the tour ended with an unforeseen twist.

SPOILER ALERT — A large board listed the names of all the passengers, including their status—first class, second class, crew. As you look for the name of the person whose ticket you are holding, you will see a line across the board dividing the names. Above the line were the names of those who were “saved” and below the line all those who were “lost.”

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The parallel of this tour when compared to our life here on earth is amazingly profound.When it comes down to it — it  DOES NOT MATTER NOR DOES IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE HOW THE WORLD RANKS YOUR STATUS OR SITUATION IN LIFE.

The only thing that ultimately matters is whether you are “saved” or “lost.”

As Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”.

CHRISTIANS: Perhaps you’ve already trusted in Christ for your salvation. But what about your fellow passengers (neighbors, friends, family members etc…)? Instead of sizing each other up by what we have or don’t have, what we look like or don’t look like, we should talk to others about their ultimate destination and demonstrate God’s great love in our life by loving them as Christ loved us.

Ultimately a mature Christian will know that it’s not what they achieve that qualifies them (it does not matters if I gain wealth or fame) The only thing I must be certain of Is “Have I put my trust in Jesus’ name?” 
In light of eternity, what one believes is far more important than what one achieves.