We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, who he has not seen. And he has given us this command: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:19-21
Who are your peers? In parenting books, I read a lot about the influence of peer groups, but what exactly is a peer?
Is it someone you consider equal to you? Or someone you want to hang around with? Maybe it’s someone who thinks like you or who gets you?
But then again, maybe that’s too limited a definition.
Not long ago, I met a dear friend who became my critique partner (a person that I swap work with to evaluate it). Certainly, she’s my peer in writing, but we are very different. Different age, different race, different life stage (my kids are young, hers are grown), living in different states. And yet, we have a great time together.
Is it the writing that bonds us? Yes.
Is it our mutual love for Christ? Yes.
But are my peers only Christian Writers? Of course not.
In a very real sense, my peers are everyone. Why? Because Jesus considered everyone His peers.
When I look around at people who are different, I shouldn’t focus on the differences. I should focus on what’s common to all of us—the God-shaped hole inside every person.
Dear Lord, help me to see the need for You in others. We are all cherished in Your eyes and we are all empty until we let You fill us up. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
1 Corinthians 4:2-4
For years, I have noticed blackbirds swooping at hawks, basically attacking them in the air. This year, I saw the phenomenon six or seven times, much more than usual. I felt sorry for the hawk, such a beautiful and majestic animal. I imagined the hawk out on a leisurely flight, when out of nowhere three blackbirds dive bomb him. The hawk would fly away with the other birds still pursuing. I wondered if they ever gave him any peace.
Then, I realized how many judgments I had made in that scenario. Maybe the hawk had attacked the blackbirds first. Or perhaps the hawk had swooped in on the blackbirds’ nest, intent on having a baby blackbird for breakfast (try saying that five times fast). How was I to know what happened before the scene that I witnessed?
This became a lesson to me in judging. How can I judge another person when I don’t know what’s going on in their life? And even if I think I know what is going on in someone else’s life, I still shouldn’t judge because I don’t know what they’re thinking about what’s going on. My judgments are probably wrong.
And we can flip this around also. Don’t worry about what others think of you when they judge, because they don’t really know you, they don’t know what you’re going through, and they’re probably wrong.
God is the only one with true sight—internal and external. Make your peace with Him and move on.
Dear Lord, help me to remember that You are my only judge and You show me mercy whenever I ask for it. Help me to release other people to Your judgment, not subject them to mine. In Jesus’s name, amen.
The beautiful Fall weather and the only time of low humidity and mild temps in Iowa has brought with it a terrible pest—the minute pirate bug (and maybe also the closely related species of insidious flower bug—no, I’m not making these names up). I’ve lived in Iowa for 18 years and have never heard of a pirate bug, although I must say it is aptly named as it terrorizes every creature around.
This bug is so small it looks like a flea (To see a minute pirate bug picture, click here), but its bite is more painful than a mosquito. On a recent bike ride, we literally couldn’t stop biking without being swarmed by the little pests. I am usually a let-the-bug-live kind of girl, but I found myself grateful these guys didn’t fly away after biting so I could smack them. Only thing is, they smear when you smash them. Blech!
The reason these bugs come out to bother us in the Fall is because they feed on the larval stages of other insects which are maturing by the Fall, so their food source is diminishing. Add to that, the fact that most of the crops are harvested at the same time, leaving the bugs without a home, and you get a swarm of pin-head-sized black monsters heading into suburbia (which admittedly is only yards away from farmland in Iowa).
Thankfully, these little guys aren’t dangerous. Their bite does not exchange fluid or draw blood. The painful part, when they poke their sharp, needle-like beak into our skin, is really them searching for either nectar or the fluid inside a larval-stage bug.
I’m told these are beneficial to the ecosystem because they eat other bugs. Well, God created the ecosystems, so I’m not going to argue with that, but they seem to me to be getting a little out of control here. And their behavior is just not good for their survival rates. I know I assassinated at least 20 of them on my bike ride home.
What about you? Have you ever run into these six-legged villains?
References: http://www.entomology.wisc.edu/mbcn/kyf101.html, http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/iiin/minutep.html
Photo Credit: ID 27281708 © Vyacheslav Biryukov | Dreamstime.com
Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me for you are my rock and my fortress.
I’ve studied the craft of writing for many years. One of the things suspense writers work on is leaving a scene at the moment of the most tension.
Imagine a scene from the novel I just finished. The heroine is kidnapped by the bad guy and he is forcing her to climb a large mountain, tethered to him by a rope. Partway up, she falls into a hidden ice crevasse—a huge crack in a glacier—where she dangles above the darkness suspended only by the rope the bad guy holds. That’s where I leave the scene.
Rather than end the chapter with her getting out of the ice crevasse and all is well, I leave the reader desperate to turn the page and find out what happens next. Tension keeps the pages turning.
Aren’t you glad God doesn’t do that to us?
He never leaves us at the moment of our highest tension. He doesn’t set us swinging at the end of a rope wondering if anybody is around to help.
He is always right there, using one hand to hold us up and the other to wrap our heart in his peace. If you are struggling today, cry out to Him. He is able to take all of your tension upon Himself.
Dear Lord, thank you for Your faithfulness. You never abandon me. Your perfect love surrounds me always. Help me to remember this truth. In Jesus’s name, amen.
At a conference I recently attended, I sat next to a woman who told me about the terrible side effects of drinking diet soda. I’d honestly never thought much about my love for Diet Coke and how it might be affecting my body. So, I decided to see if she was right (and not just some naturalist espousing the philosophy that I should only drink water and only eat tree bark with a side of seaweed).
Turns out, she might have a good point. Here are some of the results researchers have seen in studies on diet soft drinks.
- Kidney trouble—processing the chemicals in diet drinks stresses the kidneys. A Harvard Medical School study found that women who drank two or more diet drinks per day doubled the risk of kidney decline. This concerned me because I’m prone to kidney stones already.
- Metabolic Syndrome—according to a University of Minnesota study, consuming just one diet soda a day puts you at a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome (symptoms include belly fat, high cholesterol and higher risks of heart disease).
- Headaches—most of the evidence on this one is anecdotal, but drinking diet soda has been known to trigger headaches and migraines in susceptible people (some of this may also be due to the caffeine in the soda, not the artificial sweetener).
- Teeth—all soft drinks are acidic and diet soda is no exception. The citric acid in soda (pH of 3.2, compared to water with a neutral pH of about 7) will weaken and destroy tooth enamel. A case study in the journal General Dentistry compared the mouths of cocaine/methamphetamine users with habitual diet soda drinkers and found similar levels of tooth erosion in both.
- Bones—the phosphate in diet drinks leaches the calcium out of your bones, putting you at higher risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
- Type 2 Diabetes/Obesity—this is the big one (pun intended). Drinking diet soda can actually make you gain weight. Researchers have seen these effects but aren’t sure exactly why it happens. The leading theory is that the artificial sweetener in diet soda fools the body into thinking it is sugar, which triggers a flood of insulin to counteract the sugar in the blood stream. This then causes the body to go into fat storage mode, turning anything you eat into fat, plus it makes you more likely to overeat. One study from the University of Texas found that over 10 years, diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference when compared with non-diet drinkers.
Whew! That was a long list. Based on all of this, I have started a Diet Coke fast. It’s only been a week and it’s been harder than I thought it would be. Apparently, there’s something in there my body is craving (I don’t think it’s the caffeine because I usually drink caffeine-free diet). But I’m determined to stick with it for at least a month and see how my body feels after that.
How about you? If you’re a diet soda drinker, are you up for fasting with me?
As more research is done on the chemicals in our food and drink, it becomes more obvious to me that what God put down here for us to eat originally are the best things to put in our body—water, fruits, vegetables. I get it. I really do, but I just wish all the other stuff didn’t taste so good.
References: http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/diet-soda-bad-you/obesity, http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/10/29/10-reasons-to-give-up-diet-soda/
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