The Wonder of Bees

February 24, 2015

I’m sure we are all familiar with how amazing (and important) honey bees are, right? I mean, if you have never seen a PBS special, or a Discovery channel show on these remarkable creatures you need to do so. It will blow your mind! And are you familiar with the staggering benefits and characteristics of honey? Mind blower # 2! I found much of the information I am about to reference on: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/10/20/health-benefits-honey.aspx

Not sure if it’s all accurate since the post at the end advertised the sale of a book but it is on the internet after all. And if it’s on the internet, well, it must be true right?

Did you know that if it were not for honey bees pollinating our plants we would all starve to death in short order?

It takes about 60,000 bees, collectively traveling up to 55,000 miles and visiting more than 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey.

  • Honey Makes Excellent Cough “Medicine”
  • Honey Can Treat Wounds
  • Help Boost Your Energy
  • Reduce Allergy Symptoms

And then my favorite:

Honey Lemon Cough Syrup

Lemon helps promote health by quickly alkalinizing your body, and honey will kill most bacteria while soothing your throat. This is a perfect choice for a quick cough remedy.

  • Put a pint of raw honey in a pan on the stove on VERY low heat (Do not boil honey as this changes its medicinal properties).
  • Take a whole lemon and boil in some water in a separate pan for 2-3 minutes to both soften the lemon and kill any bacteria that may be on the lemon skin.
  • Let the lemon cool enough to handle then cut it in slices and add it to the pint of honey on the stove.
  • Let mixture cook on warm heat for about an hour.
  • Then strain the lemon from the honey making sure all lemon seeds are removed.
  • Let cool, then bottle in a jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator.

This syrup will keep for 2 months in the refrigerator. To soothe a cough, take 1/2 teaspoon for a 25 lb. child and 1 teaspoon for a 50 lb. child, about 4 times a day, or as often as needed. Adults can take 1-tablespoon doses.

I particularly like the fact that this is a “quick” cough remedy because it only takes several hours to prepare!

And this all comes from those little buzzing, flying varmints that sting you. Pretty cool! I actually did the math on the quantities we should consume. I know it says adults “can” take a 1 tablespoon dose. I suspect that means a “normal sized” adult. So as the instructions say a 25 lb child should take ½ teaspoon then I should take… well let me say I just sterilized the bucket we use for mopping our floors.

Did you know that honey can last for literally thousands of years? It crystallizes and then simply needs to be reheated to return to its liquid form.

So what does this have to do with anything? Simply this… isn’t God’s creation AMAZING!! I know that many people want to debate the origins and development of our universe and our planet and bless you if you have the inclination to do that. But there are so many things in nature that just seem to defy any sense of “unsupervised” evolution. Whether you hold to a “long earth” science (i.e. the earth is billions of years old), a “short earth” science, or a “middle earth” (for all you Tolkien fans) there are just too many inexplicable things in our world that make no sense when we try to attach some form of random “evolution” to them. Honey bees and their ability to “know” are only one example.

Admittedly this is not my field so “experts” in the origins of the Universe might scoff at what I have said above. Of course they once ridiculed the thought of a round earth… but that’s an argument for another day.

I teach our confirmation class at church. One thing the students learn is the word “revelation”; in particular the theology of how God reveals Himself to His creation. There are two types of revelation: general and special. “Special” refers to specific intervention of God into the lives of individuals and peoples, i.e., through voice, prophets, etc. “General” on the other hands refers to the revelation of God through nature and a few others means. General revelation refers specifically to the notion that we can peer out a window and see some order to the universe. It embraces the idea that even indigenous/isolated tribes of people in parts of our world still worship gods even though they have never been taught “religion” by other human beings. Why? Because they see God at work through nature! Is it any wonder then that they worship the sun, rocks, trees…

One doesn’t have to search very far in the scripture to see the emphasis on creation. It begins at the beginning right? Genesis 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And of course the Psalmists were enamored by the relationship between God and his creation.

Psalm 65:8

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

Psalm 68:8

the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel.

Psalm 69:34

Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them,

Psalm 72:8

May he rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

So, next time you look out the window or get a fright from a honey bee, wonder at God’s creation because you get to be a part of it! Oh yeah, suck a little honey down too… it’s good for you.

Blessings.

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Marriage 101

February 18, 2015

As many of you know (especially since I wrote about this last week) Ellen and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. A sincere thank you to all who expressed congratulations to the two of us. A few of you said something like this: So, what’s the secret? I know that the question was generally asked in a good-natured way and without the expectation of a response but, well… let me say something about that. First, it is very hard to respond to that question knowing that some great, fine, wonderful people whom I love and respect have been unable to hold their marriages together for a variety of reasons. And I run the risk of sounding arrogant, as if I have some corner on the market of marriage wisdom that others just haven’t figured out. As sincerely as I can say this, I have no particular wisdom. As a matter of fact, there are folks who have experienced dreadful circumstances under the heading of “marriage” who have much more insight than I do about what to do and what not do!

That being said if I could only tell new couples two things that I knew they would embrace and seriously consider, they would be these. First, choose wisely. I know that sounds really elementary but we all know folks, many of whom got married at 18 or 19 and later said something about being too young to make a decision that major. For some it works, but for many… well, I don’t need to tell you do I? Telling the difference between who might be a lifelong partner, infatuation, and lust is as confusing as… well… really confusing things. The other problem with choosing wisely is that there are no guaranteed clear guide lines or rules on how one goes about doing that.

The second thing I would tell them goes counter to so much of our culture that I’m not sure there is any ability to grasp it. If you are going to take someone as your life partner, be prepared to sacrifice almost everything to make the relationship work. I say “almost everything” because there are betrayals; abusive, dangerous situations that people should not abide by or stay in. I am always stunned when I hear stories of pastors who counsel women to stay in abusive relationships because the Bible says “men are the head of women”, or “women are to submit to their husbands.” At the risk of sounding harsh… those pastors are idiots! That being said, one of the words for “love” in the Bible refers to a “self-sacrificial” kind of love, i.e., we love our partner to the extent that we are willing to give up our own desires in order to please them. Don’t get me wrong. I especially struggle with this, but I know it to be true… in theory.

A couple of weeks ago I was preaching on the verse from 3 of the Gospels where Jesus says, “If you want to be one of my disciples you must take up your cross and follow me.” This notion of taking up our “cross” implies sacrifice and denial of self. Think about that for a moment. We in our culture, do all that we can to NOT be denied what we want and to NOT have to sacrifice. So how do we talk about sacrifice in marriage when we know NOTHING of sacrifice in our lives? I often say to couples during the marriage ceremony, “The problem with sacrifice is that my generation knows little of sacrifice and your generation (assuming it’s a younger couple) knows less.” In almost every marriage I know of that has failed, it’s because one or both of the partners have decided to no longer sacrifice. They want what they want first and “then we’ll see.”

So, did I choose wisely over 40 years ago? Are you kidding?! I was 18 years old when we decided to get engaged. I didn’t know anything! But, providentially I stumbled onto one of the most amazing women in the world. Am I a sacrificial husband? Truthfully I try, but it’s a never ending and at times undesirable task.

I have asked many people over the years what their “secret” is and the answers are as diverse as those being queried. Much of the success of marriage in the end has something to do with an indescribable chemistry that very few people can predict. It may also require a few years under a couples’ belt to know if that chemistry is there or if it will materialize.

What I have just said is no guaranteed formula, but it has worked for Ellen and I… along with a number of other disciplines. Before we got married the minister who joined us said this, “Marriage takes work.” I had NO IDEA what he meant! Both Ellen and I do now.

Wedding anniversaries

February 11, 2015

I remember when Ellen and I were first married and we attended a Sunday school class together at a church near where I was stationed in the Navy. One week the teacher of our class told us that he and his wife were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Honestly… I could not imagine that. 30 years! My maternal grandparents were the only model for long marriage that I was closely related to and I don’t ever remember any fuss being made over their anniversaries. I’m assuming they got married around 1920 and my grandmother died in 1967 so they had 47 years or so invested in each other. But again I have no memory of their longevity being recognized in any way.

This Sunday, February 15, 2015 at sometime after 2:30 in the afternoon Ellen and I will have been married for 40 years. 40 years; or exactly 2/3 of my life. What do I think of that? First, I recognize that it is not a unique experience. Many folks have surpassed that number by decades. And many are on their way to matching it. So I’m not boasting about anything.   But what do I think?

First of all, I guess what I’m about to say is different for different couples. At some unidentified point in a marriage you cross a line. And the line is this, “I can no longer imagine life without you. Nor do I want to.” It makes perfect sense to me now why long term couples often die within weeks or months of one another. The trauma on one’s psyche by having their lives literally torn asunder is real. It’s not that someone you love has died. It’s that part of you has died! For some the “injury” is too profound. There is nothing that can be done to heal it. And maybe nothing that should be done.

I remember that after my grandmother passed away in 1967, my grandfather was NEVER the same. Oh he hung in there, but he was never again as he had been. I recall the day I found an album of his by Bobby Goldsboro. The hit song on the album was “Honey.” (Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW1GpxB0LH8 if you are unfamiliar with it.) I tried to play it but the needle on the record kept sliding over that song because he had played it so many times the grooves were worn out. I wept for him.

For those who have endured 40 years… but only endured it? I weep for you also. On occasion I say to young couples “I know folks who had a wedding 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, but they NEVER had a marriage.” How sad is that?

And for those who never made it to 40… I’m so sorry. No matter the reason. If someone died… that’s tragic. If someone abandoned the relationship… that’s tragic. If someone was emotionally ill… that’s tragic. If someone was abusive in the relationship… that’s tragic. If they just “fell out of love,” well, that’s just lazy and probably selfish. Sorry, not too sympathetic or “understanding” on that one.

Two words then on 40 years, “Joy Unspeakable.” I have done nothing in my life to deserve the honor and blessing and love of Ellen Thompson Little. She always dismisses me when I say the following but it is absolutely true. I would NEVER have accomplished anything of significance without her. College, Seminary, Doctorate, David, Rebekah, Benjamin, Alissa, two long term pastorates… and the list goes on. Ask anyone who knew me when and they will confirm what I just said. She has encouraged me, inspired me, and believed in me when I rarely believe in myself.

I hope it’s not inappropriate for me to write these very personal things. But my intent is to inspire others who may find themselves in situations where they are unsure if they will ever make it to 40… or 5, or 10, or 20. Don’t give up! (I am not speaking to those in abusive relationships!) Hang in there! Both of you work hard. Find out what “sacrificial love” toward your spouse and children means. Husbands, do not stop courting your wives. Wives, tell your husbands how much you “appreciate” them. I can only tell you this. 40 years is worth it. It really is.

Thank you for your patience with my meanderings. I am exceedingly aware that I am a blessed man.

Stupid & important things we do

February 2, 2015

So where have I been you ask? Please humor me and say you have at least thought of that! Anyway for the past 2 1/2 weeks now, I have been hacking up a lung, pancreas and a small unidentified object that looks like the remnants of a toy from my childhood. They call this condition an “upper respiratory infection.” I just call it a whole lot of congestion, coughing, mild fever on occasion and my teeth and eyes hurting from the pressure. But that’s just me. Feeling much better now… thanks for asking. On to more important things.

Like most people, I have done a few, shall I say, irresponsible, unwise, maybe even stupid things in my life. Like what you ask? Well, for example I remember as a young kid my best friend Tommy and I hitting an aerosol can of white paint with an ax to see what would happen. I seem to recall we were in his garage. Wannna know what transpired? Well… wait… I have a better idea. Why don’t you give it a go yourself? You can get a can of paint at The Dollar General for not much more than a buck. And if you don’t have an ax, a hammer will probably work. I would recommend using the claw end. Lay the can on its side, preferably beside your brand new expensive car, or in your living room where you were already planning on painting and replacing the furniture. Anyway, one swift whack ought to do the trick. Get back to me with the results. Lest anyone want to try this little trick remember I began this segment with the words “irresponsible, unwise, maybe even stupid.”

On another occasion I jumped off of the roof of our house holding a sheet by the four corners. Yeah, you get it. Here’s what happened. No, wait… why spoil it for you? Anyone can do this and you don’t even have to buy anything. I will say that the higher the roof the better, since it gives more chance for the sheet to open and theoretically slow your very rapid descent. If my memory of physics will help I think you will fall at the rate of F=mg but you’ll find all that out for yourself. I should say by way of warning, that if you have had a recent knee or hip replacement, this is not the activity for you. But if you want a joint replacement… grab a sheet!

I could go on. But let me say this… even with the dense, doltish, reckless, stupid, harebrained, crazy things I and many others have done, I will at least not go down in history as the coach who called the dumbest play in Super Bowl History! You didn’t see that coming did you?

Seriously?!?!? What the heck were they thinking? They have the possibility of running 3 plays to pick up one yard. They have the most brutish running back in the league in their backfield. One or two timeouts left. Do they run the ball? Nope, they decide to throw it. Where? Right into the middle of the field where everybody and their mothers are lined up. Yeah, seriously their mothers were there too! Well, we all know what happened.

Okay I know that there are way more important things in the world. I know that there are people who have little if anything to eat. I know that children are dying by the thousands from disease and lack of proper nutrition. I know that countries are at war. I know that crazy people under the banner of their religion are murdering innocent women and children. I know there are deep concerns about economic realities around the world. I know that North Korea is an unpredictable mess. I know that the Middle East is an irresolvable nightmare. I know that concerns about nuclear weapons are a reality again. I know that in the time it took me to write this paragraph thousands around the world have died with no hope because they have never known Jesus Christ.

All of that being said, there are times when we have to remove ourselves from the grave and depressing realities of our world and allow a distraction now and then. But let’s keep in mind that these things are only diversions from the things that we as Believers ought to be very concerned about. If we live in the emotional moments that are caused by sporting events or other forms of entertainment, then our lives are shallow and one wonders if our skin is worth toting around. What is important to you today? What is something in your life that is worthy of your passion? Let’s get back to it. The Super Bowl is over.

Speaking of the Super bowl…I don’t know about you but the whole thing made me feel downright deflated.