Essential Oils And Essential Freedom

The Preamble of the Constitution of the United States is written on the exterior walls of the National Constitution Center.

On September 22, 2014, Gary Young received a letter from the Food and Drug Administration. You may think that that has nothing to do with you. Your name isn’t Gary Young and you don’t have any dealings with the FDA. In reality, this letter could impact the freedoms that you enjoy as an American citizen.

Gary Young is the founder and CEO of Young Living Essential Oils. Over the past few years, essential oils have been popular natural remedies for treating anything from sore throats and cancer to dirty counters in the kitchen. Many people claim to have benefited from essential oils and that’s what got the FDA’s attention.

People have been telling their stories on social media. Some even have Facebook accounts used for selling essential oils. The FDA took notice of those posts. And you thought that the guy from high school stalking you on Facebook was creepy. Well, it turns out that he got a job with the FDA. The government organization decided that it was time to send a message to Gary Young and those who benefit from the services he provides. That message was clear. What you’ve been doing needs to be regulated by us. Or else.

Or else?

What could the FDA possibly do to a guy who just sells peppermint oil.

Probably the same thing they did to an Amish farmer who sold raw milk to his neighbors. That is, raid his property with heavily armed U.S. Marshals and state troopers. You know, all to protect the public from the dangers of lavender oil.

Here’s the thing with essential oils. While they certainly aren’t a cure all, they work. I’ve seen it. They make fevers go away. They help with certain side effects of cancer and arthritis. And yes, they can even be used to clean the kitchen counter.

But what if they didn’t? Pretend with me for a moment that the whole essential oil craze was a sham. Would that then necessitate armed guards coming in to someone’s home and taking away their inventory? Of course not. If it did, those same agents would have to forcibly remove over half of this country’s prescription drugs from homes. You know, those FDA approved chemicals that are great at covering symptoms while doing nothing whatsoever for the actual problem. Yeah, the ones with commercials where more time is devoted to informing you of the potential risks than the so-called benefits.

I know a guy whose job requires him to be one of the first people on the scene when someone in his community dies. One day he was telling me about the number of those deaths that are caused by drugs. In the community where he lives, none of those drug related deaths have anything to do with heroin or cocaine. No, most of them are related to pain killers. FDA approved pain killers. For the record, there have been no deaths caused by too much oregano oil.

The issue here is control. That’s why the same government that likes to tell us that a woman killing her baby is a matter of her body and her private business wants to threaten a man with force for selling you peppermint oil. The FDA can’t have people getting healed apart from the government’s infinite wisdom. If that started happening too much, well, people just might realize that we don’t really need the FDA as it currently exists. And trust me, the FDA as it currently exists doesn’t want that to happen.

One of the more popular essential oils is called Thieves. As legend has it, in the 15th century, four French thieves were caught robbing the dead and dying of their riches and they managed not to catch any of the diseases carried by those they had robbed. In return for a lighter sentence, the judge asked them for their secret. How did they manage to not get sick? It was the blend of clove, rosemary and other botanicals that protected them. Thus the name thieves.

Centuries later, that blend is still protecting people from illness. But the people also need protection from the thieves who wish to steal our essential liberties along with our essential oils. Thankfully, our protection has been in place for a couple of hundred years now.

If only our government would pay attention to it.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Amendment IV, The Constitution of the United States. 

So the next time you have a stuffy nose, look for some peppermint oil to rub under your nose. But if anyone from the FDA asks you where you got it from, tell them that Hillary Clinton sold it to you on her Facebook page.

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Words On A Screen: The Pain And The Power Behind What You Say

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They were words on a screen. But they were so much more.

“You have to just do it. You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never.”

Pretty inspirational, huh?

Couldn’t we all use a friend to tell us something like that every day when we’re tempted to skip a workout or call in sick for work?

Michelle Carter allegedly sent those inspiring words to her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III. But there’s a problem with what Carter was trying to inspire her boyfriend to do. When she told him to, “Just do it,” she wasn’t trying to get him pumped up for a job interview. She was trying to convince him to kill himself.

So Conrad Roy loaded up the cab of his truck with a gas generator and drove to K-Mart. With the text messages from his girlfriend stuck in his head, he was planning on just doing it. He was going to actually go through with killing himself.

When he reached the K-Mart parking lot he started to have second thoughts. He climbed out of his truck. Fresh air started to fill his lungs. He used his phone to text his girlfriend. He was having second thoughts about killing himself.

Her response was only three words.

“Get back in.”

18-year-old Conrad Roy III died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Michelle Carter, who is also 18, is facing 20 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Words matter. Even when they’re written instead of spoken.

We become different people behind a screen. We say things we would never say in person. Somehow, we forget that a real person is on the other end and that words, whether written or spoken, have a lot of power.

They carry with them the power to lift someone’s spirits.

But they also have the power to kill.

I just scrolled through the old text messages on my phone. Some are from friends who are talking about current events and the state of the world. Some are from church members with various questions, prayer requests and words of support. One is from a friend who is also a pastor. He sends me a text message every Sunday morning to remind me that he’s praying for me. I love those text messages. I wish that Conrad Roy had the same kind of people in his life that I have in mine. Maybe then he would have gotten to have a face to face conversation with someone who loves him instead of text messages from someone who killed him.

I don’t know what was going through Michelle Carter’s mind. Is she really evil enough to talk someone into committing suicide or was she just foolish, thinking that her words didn’t really matter? I don’t know. I’ve got my guess but I don’t know.

What I do know is that her words were powerful. And so are yours. Think about that the next time you write a mean comment on someone’s Facebook status. Consider the power of words before you leave your house, drop your kids off or finish texting. For the rest of her life, Michelle Carter will have to live with the fact that her last words to her boyfriend were spent trying to convince him to kill himself. What if your last words to a loved one, or anyone for that matter, were about how they’ve gotten fat or how they probably don’t deserve to have kids anyway? Could you live with that?

As they were texting each other, Michelle Carter told Conrad Roy that, “Everyone will be sad,” if he were to kill himself. She continued, saying that, “They will get over it and move on.”

I don’t believe that.

You don’t just get over the suicide of a son, brother, or friend.

And, no matter how hard your heart is, you don’t just get over being the one who talked him into it.

Sticks and stones hurt.

Words do too.

The difference is that injuries from sticks and stones heal much quicker than the injuries that come from words.

Words can stick with someone for life.

And they can even cut a life short.

So be careful what you say, even if it is just words on a screen.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:6-8 (ESV)

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A Time To Be Silent

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If I published every one of my opinions, my Facebook account would be shut down and I would be taking classes at some government sanctioned reeducation center with barbed wire on the fences.

There is a time to speak up. There is a time to share your opinion. There is a time to boldly proclaim the truth. There is a time to call a wrong what it is. There is a time to point out contradictions and corruptions. Just look outside. The opportunities to speak up are limitless. If you haven’t found anything yet, the government funded Planned Parenthood selling body parts from dead babies is a good place to start. There are plenty of times to speak and speak loudly.

But there is also a time to be silent.

A time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:7 (ESV)

The time to be silent can come even when you’re right.

It can come when those with differing opinions are making no sense at all.

It can come when the clever little thoughts inside of your head would probably shut everyone else up and expose their assumed intellectualism for the foolishness that it is.

There are things worth dying for. There are things worth speaking up for. But there are also things worth shutting up for.

Silence doesn’t always mean that you are sacrificing truth for so-called unity. It doesn’t always mean that you are a coward. Sometimes it means that your love for others outweighs your desire to prove them wrong on some secondary issue.

Words and opinions are powerful. For opinionated loud-mouths like me, it can get you a lot of attention on social media. And it can get your blog post a lot of views. But what does it profit a man if he gains the whole Internet and loses his soul (Mark 8:36)? Or the soul of the guy on the other side of the debate?

It is possible for you to win the argument and still lose. This is especially true of Christians. We can be right about a whole host of issues from the guy we voted for to the team we cheer for while at the same time being so obnoxious and arrogant about our rightness that we function more like the kid with his laser pointer directed toward the screen in the dark theater than the light that Jesus called us to be.

Debate is good. It’s part of what makes our country great. And again, there are hundreds of issues in our world where Christians should share, not just their opinion, but what the Bible says. By all means, we are to speak up.

But there are other issues that the Bible has not even come close to addressing that even good Jesus-loving Christians disagree on. Sure, these issues are important. They matter. But a lot of them will get along just fine without our voice. But if we feel the need to speak loudly on every single issue, we will be less likely to be heard when it really is time to speak up.

I’m writing this to myself. Over the past few weeks, I’ve written and deleted scores of tweets and blog posts in my head. My anger and disgust were pounding away at the invisible keyboard in my brain. The Holy Spirit kept hitting the delete button.

There are a lot of issues that I would call secondary. Who has the better team? Who would make the better president? And on and on. And it’s certainly okay to discuss these things. But as we discuss, we should be willing to walk away without having the last word. We should be more eager to see the man on the other side of our opinion remain in tact than we are with proving him wrong.

Think of how this would change the divisiveness in our country.

What would it look like if more of us said to ourselves, “Wow! That’s really not my thing but I’ll just stay quiet and keep scrolling through my news feed.” Or what if more of us said something like this? “Man, I hate that place. But the Internet doesn’t need to know about it. I’ll just stay away and stay quiet.”

Your Facebook status WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS and ending with, “Just sayin'” probably won’t change the actual issue at hand. But it will change some of your relationships. And it will change the way that others view you and the gospel you represent. And that change won’t be good.

You might need to take a social media break or just hide a few friends who have a way of setting you off.

Truth matters. Please don’t misunderstand that. I’ll say it again. There are tons of occasions for us to speak up and let our voices be heard, even if people don’t like what we say. But there are also plenty of opportunities for us to stay quiet. For Christians, the primary objectives of both our silence and our speaking up are the same.

The glory of God.

Sometimes we glorify him with a microphone and a stage and 10,000 followers. Sometimes we glorify him while biting our tongue, counting to ten and walking away.

But we never glorify him when we love being heard more than we love our neighbor.

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The Proper Response To The South Carolina Church Shooting

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When a tragedy like Wednesday evening’s church shooting happens, there are always two types of first responders. One group of first responders is made up of law enforcement and medical personnel who quickly arrive on the scene, usually at great risk, to do the job that few of us want. We need these first responders. Many times, after all of the dust has settled down, their stories are the ones that provide us with hope and inspiration.

There is another group of first responders and they provide us with something quite different. These first responders don’t usually show up at the scene. In fact, they rarely know anyone involved or any of the details of the situation. But still they respond.

They respond by using the tragedy as a trampoline of sorts to catapult their particular agenda into the spotlight. These are the types of first responders that we don’t need, especially from within the body of Christ.

Thursday morning I made the mistake of listening to people on the radio talk about the South Carolina church shooting. After a grand total of ten minutes, I heard the radio host say that the cops should look into a bomb threat that had been reported at a hotel near the church, “because that’s how it always happens in the movies,” and how the suspect’s haircut meant that he was likely a person of influence who was being protected by powerful people.

First responders at the scene with badges and medical bags are brave.

First responders on their keyboards and microphones are usually foolish.

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:27-28 (ESV)

I, like many people, am a fan of guns. But this tragedy isn’t our opportunity to go on social media and annoy everyone with posts about how this never would have happened if more people shared our passion for firearms.

Nor is this the opportunity to ramble on and on about tougher gun laws.

What we need is a third group of first responders. These first responders aren’t equipped with special training and may never be considered heroic but they are just as important as the men and women in uniform. And these first responders are devoted to something much more important than getting their opinions out to the public.

These first responders, before they do anything else, pray. They pray for justice. They pray for peace. They pray for the hurting.

And they cry with the hurting.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:15-16 (ESV)

They do this because they don’t see what happened in South Carolina as a political event or an opportunity for social analysis. They see it for what it is. Evil. And as a result of this particular evil, nine people lost their lives.

Nine people.

Not nine Democrats or Republicans.

Not nine blacks.

Not nine church folks.

Nine people.

Nine people created in the image of God.

Look, we all have opinions and our own ideas for solutions when tragedies like this happen. That’s good. But at least for a few days we should keep them to ourselves. Or maybe we could just share them with friends over a meal.

The people impacted by this tragedy do not first need our opinions, theories or even our passions.

They need our prayers.

And our tears.

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Your Kid Is Weird

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Face it. Your kid is weird.

She’s the only one in her class without an Instagram account. She’s begged you for one for a few months now. You always tell her no. You feel bad for it. It seems like all you ever say to her is that simple little sentence.

“No.”

You fear that she’ll grow to resent you for it. But you know that no is the best answer for now. So your daughter is the only one in her class without an Instagram account. For that, the rest of the class thinks that she’s a little weird.

It doesn’t stop there. She’s been wanting her own phone for a few years now. And again, you’ve been saying no. Her friends have phones nicer than yours. As your daughter’s friends see it, the phone is an extension of the body. To be without one is to be handicapped. Or just weird. And that’s what your daughter is.

There’s this boy at your daughter’s school. You don’t know much about him. But he knows a little bit about your daughter. He’d really like to take her out on a date this weekend. And she would really like to go. But, once again, you say no. This pretty much closes the deal on your daughter’s reputation in her class. She’s one of the only girls without a boyfriend. She’s one of the weird ones.

And then the clothes. Girls your daughter knows dress like some combination between Daisy Duke and an Olympic beach volleyball player. And that’s in the winter. But not your daughter. She has to go through a thorough process of parental examination before buying any clothing and again before wearing it out of the house. She really doesn’t like that thorough process of parental examination. You remind her that the cheapest cars have the loudest commercials while the finest automobiles never advertise. She just rolls her eyes. And goes on to school where she is the weird girl in the weird clothes.

Face it. Your daughter is weird. No skimpy outfits. No Instagram account. No dates. No phone. Her social life is dead. And you killed it while she’s still in the fourth grade.

You should be proud. Her weirdness means that you are doing it right.

More and more, kids today are acting like adults. They play more baseball games in a week than their professional heroes. They have every gadget that they could possibly ever need. They dress like adults. Their parents give them the freedoms of adulthood without the preparation that can only come with years of training and instruction. It’s ironic really. In an effort to give their kids everything, some parents have robbed their kids of something far more important than any gadget or social life.

They have robbed them of their childhood.

But that’s normal today.

The point is not that you make your daughter wear long skirts all the time and wait until she’s 65 to wear makeup or date. Rigid rules do not offer her the protection that she needs. If anything, they put her in more harm. What your daughter really needs is your love. And quite often, love says no. Even when it means that people will think that your little girl is weird.

So the next time your daughter rolls her eyes when she hears you say no, don’t let it get you down. The next time that she complains about being weird, take it as a compliment. All of that means that you’re doing your job right. Keep it up. Keep on loving.

The smart phones belonging to the other fourth graders in your daughter’s class will one day break. The parents of those kids will buy them another. And another. And another.

The budding relationships between the dating fourth graders in your daughter’s class will one day break too. Those kids will find another. And another. And another.

During that time, your weird little ten-year-old girl will miss out on the fun that comes with smart phones and dating. And she’ll miss out on something else that comes along with those things at too young of an age.

The brokenness.

She’ll really be weird then.

And that’s probably about the time that she’ll stop rolling her eyes at you and, instead, tell you a simple sentence of her own.

“Thank you.”

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Watch What You Say At Chick-fil-A, Cuz

A Chick-fil-a manager has made a splash on social media because of a list of words and phrases he is forbidding his employees to use. Eric, the manager, doesn’t want his employees accusing each other, or customers for that matter, of having Ebola. He doesn’t want them referring to others as cuz or Felicia or claiming to be legally blind.

As you can imagine, the Internet has gotten its collective undergarments in a bunch over this. Eric is the bad guy. He’s taking away his employee’s right to free speech. He’s on the wrong side of history. He’s racist. He’s homophobic. Boo, Eric!

But I say that Eric deserves a big hooray! We’ve all been in stores before where employees  fall all over themselves not to help you. And the one who loses and has to help you has the communication skills and business sense of a bucket of hammers. Eric is trying to stop that. Again, hooray for Eric! And we wonder why the Chick-fil-a parking lot is always full while the crowd over at Hardee’s is just a tad larger than what one would find during the 2nd quarter of a Georgia Tech football game.

Along with saying hooray for Eric, I think that we should carry this plan out in other areas of life. More leaders need to demand proper verbalization and respect from their employees. So with that in mind, and in honor of Eric, I’ve developed my own list of words and phrases that should be phased out in certain areas of life.

The Media

You shall no longer use the phrases boots on the ground, from Wall Street to Main Street, Breaking News, News Alert, Breaking Now or similar variations. I’m looking at you, Fox News. If even 15% of your News Alerts were actually worthy of your hype, we’d all be living in The Walking Dead right now. No one needs to hear a Fox News Alert about how Eminem said something meant to Anderson Cooper.

Church

The word, fine shall no longer be used in church buildings. When you go to church you will be asked how you are doing. This cannot be avoided. But the same old answer can. If you don’t like the question, just give it an honest answer and you probably won’t be asked it again.

Greeter: “Hi, Chuck. How are you?”

Chuck: “Terrible. I stayed up all night in a fit of rage after watching my favorite team, the Auburn War Criminals, fumble away a certain victory. To settle down, I spent a few hours listening to Ray LaMontagne on vinyl. That sent me into a bit of a funk and the next thing I knew it was 10:00 in the morning. I figured that this was as good a place as any to sleep so here I am. How are you?”

Problem solved.

Sports

Athletes, fans and coaches shall no longer be allowed to use the following words and phrases.

“One game at a time.”

“It is what it is.”

“I was misquoted.”

“I apologize to those who may have been offended.”

“Not guilty, your honor.”

“At the end of the day.”

“War Eagle.”

“Roll Tide.”

In other words, there will no longer be any sports interviews and ESPN will have to cut back to two channels and only show the games without their standard six hours of commentary and debate.

You can see my plan working already!

Eric, thank you for your example. Don’t listen to all of the naysayers. Continue to hold your employees accountable. Know that we are all behind you on this one. And together we will never forget one of the most important phrases known to mankind.

“Eat more chicken.”

Those Who Weep

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Here’s something that you can count on in life. Tragedy.

Here’s something else that you can count on. Someone saying or writing something stupid after that tragedy.

I found out about the death of Robin Williams on Monday night. My wife told me from the other room. She said that it was all over the Internet. I told her that I had the sudden urge to watch Good Will Hunting. She said that some of my other friends were saying the same thing on Facebook.

It wasn’t long before other things were being said on Facebook. That’s the way it always works. Whenever a celebrity dies, we can count on someone being there to make us feel guilty for being sad. Those reminders usually come about 7.221 seconds after the tragedy itself goes public. And they’re usually said by the same people who remind us of how many people starved to death around the globe while we were watching the Super Bowl. But in this case, I didn’t hear the reminders until the following morning.

They go a little something like this.

Why is everyone upset about Robin Williams when so many Christians are being persecuted in China?

You posted a Robin Williams clip from YouTube but did you do anything about Mike Brown?

And on and on and on. And on some more.

Where does it all end? Should we condemn a grieving father for crying at his daughter’s funeral because there were so many more deaths in other parts of the world that day?

Should we only respond with grief to the really horrific events and with indifference to the sort of horrific events?

I get it. We live in a celebrity obsessed culture. It’s a culture where the famous seem larger than life and many of the regular folks tend to worship them. And not everything we know about those celebrities is real. Some of them don’t really look the way they do in movies. Others aren’t nearly as nice as they seem on TV.

I get it.

But while celebrities have been known to have fake body parts and fake personalities, they have very real problems. Robin Williams is a reminder of that. In spite of all of his success, he suffered. And he left behind family and friends who are now suffering in his absence. That’s one of the few common links between celebrities and the rest of us. We all suffer.

The alleviation of that suffering is never found in an angry, guilt-inducing tweet about all of the suffering people in the world that we’re forgetting about. As Christians, we know that the only real hope for a suffering world is found in the person of Jesus Christ.

And yes, there is a time to talk about that hope.

But there’s also a time to just be quiet. A time to say nothing. A time to weep with those who weep.

Remember that time when that atheist drove by a church sign that said, “God wants full custody. Not just weekend visits” and dropped everything to repent of his sins, right there in the middle of the road?

Neither do I.

It never happens.

And posting our guilt-inducing tweets about starving children around the world every time people have their attention on some other tragedy is just as productive as those church signs that we all drive by.

So whenever that guy dies who was on that show that you’ve never heard of, try not to remind us all of how rotten we are for feeling a little down about it.

Tragedies are going to happen. Until Jesus comes back, there’s nothing we can do to avoid that.

But there’s plenty we can do to avoid saying something stupid after those tragedies.

We would do well, many times, to simply remain silent.

But if we must make a noise about a particular situation, perhaps we could just weep with those who weep.

In Defense Of The Mission Trip

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If there’s one thing that the Internet is good at, it is the ability to remind us all of how terrible we are.

Take food for example. You want to eat healthy so you make the switch to skim milk and homemade wheat bread. The Internet is there to remind you that you’re pretty much a suicidal moron for coming within two feet of dairy and bread.

What about exercise? You decide to drop a few pounds so you start doing CrossFit. How dare you?! Don’t you know that some guy once pulled his lower tablium muscle while doing CrossFit?

No matter how hard you try, it’s never enough. No alternative is adequate. You are a terrible person.

The latest thing that we’re all doing wrong is the short-term mission trip. If you’ve grown up in church, you know how these things work. A church group goes to a far away location in order to meet some sort of need in hopes of telling others about Jesus. The trips usually last for a week or two.

In the opinion of some, needs are rarely ever met on such trips. Well, except for our need for self-glory, that is. So says, Lauren Kascak and Sayantani Dasgupta in a piece entitled #InstagrammingAfrica: The Narcissism of Global Volunteerism.

“Volunteerism is ultimately about the fulfillment of the volunteers themselves, not necessarily what they bring to the communities they visit.”

To be fair, this is often the case. There are people who go on mission trips just to mark something off of their bucket list or to get a picture taken of them holding an African baby so that they can add some color to their Facebook profile.

But does this justify setting fire to the entire concept of short-term missions? Just because a white volunteer has a picture taken with a black baby at some orphanage?

If so, shouldn’t we also stop preaching sermons, loving our neighbor and moving toward the hurting in our own communities? After all, those are things that can be done from self-centered motives. Am I the only one who has ever hoped that someone was watching while I was doing something spiritual?

The classic theological doctrine of total depravity is not the belief that every human being is a blood thirsty, vile, pervert who is just a moment away from becoming a serial killer. Instead, it teaches us that all that we do, even good things like short-term missions trips, carries the stain of sin. That doesn’t mean that we should stop doing those good things. It just means that we must fight hard against sin and our draw toward self-glory as we do them.

The short-term mission trip is not the problem. The problem is how we look at the short-term mission trip. It’s easy to think that in ten days, we’re going to bring what has never happened in the place that we are visiting – revival, clean water and a new school building. This is rarely the case. When we visit another culture for a week or two in hopes of drastically and fundamentally changing that culture, we are doing it wrong.

Instead, we should be praying for that week in another country to change us as we try to meet whatever needs there may be.

Here’s what I mean.

I’ve led several short-term missions trips. Some have been in this country and a few have been overseas. At some point, during each trip, I’ve heard the following.

“Why aren’t we doing something like this back where we live?”

“I want to go back. For longer. Maybe for good.”

Bingo!

Those kind of phrases are like crack cocaine for pastors. We can never get enough of them. That’s why short-term mission trips are important. They leave the volunteers, those evil imperialists who only care about themselves, with a greater sense of the needs around the world. At the very least, these trips help us to know how to pray and spend our money through the lens of the Great Commission. But in some cases, as I have seen, they leave the volunteer with a thirst for more. He comes back home with a desire to spend the rest of his life in another part of the world and helping others by sharing and demonstrating the gospel.

I am a narcissist. So are you.

But that shouldn’t keep us from whatever task God has put before us.

Some of the greatest acts of generosity I have ever seen happened in my church parking lot. For several years in a row, after our church’s Christmas Eve service, I would walk back to the family car with my mom and sister to find presents waiting for us. One time, someone gave us a car in that church parking lot.

I don’t know the motives behind those acts of grace. Who knows? Maybe there was some narcissism involved on the part of the giver. But I’m sure glad that they didn’t let that stop them from the good that they did.

When it comes to the Internet, you just can’t win. Your clean eating isn’t clean enough. Your new workout plan is too dangerous. Your move to the rough part of town is gentrification, not love. That picture you posted on Facebook of you with a Kenyan pastor standing in front of the school you both helped to build was arrogant and probably contributed to global warming. And on and on and on.

Thankfully, we don’t answer to the Internet. But we do answer to a God who has proven his excellence at taking our sin tainted good works and somehow still using them for his glory and the good of others.

He does it through me regularly as I try to walk the line between narcissism and apathy.

And he has repeatedly done it for me as he delivers his good and perfect gifts to me by the hands of others who are trying to walk that same line.

15 Random Thoughts For Your Friday Pleasure

1. Two weekends ago I saw the original Karate Kid. One weekend ago I watched Pretty In Pink with my wife. If you take out Ralph Machio and the karate parts from the Karate Kid and replace them with Molly Ringwald and scenes about fashion designing you have Pretty In Pink. If you watch these two movies at the same time while listening to Pink Floyd, our planet will be sucked into a black hole. Al Gore should do something to protect us from this potential disaster.

2. I need to start watching better movies.

3. I used to wonder why my grandfather seemed to care less and less about professional sports as he grew older. Now that my kids are playing little league and every pro sports franchise in Atlanta is trying to get tax payers to build them a newer building, I think I see why.

4. All the auto correction in the world won’t keep me from misspelling neccesarry. Knowing the language of origin never helps either.

5. The Spelling Bee was on ESPN last night. The following is the greatest moment in Spelling Bee history.

In second place is this little “secret message.”

6. There should be a Celebrity Spelling Bee. I’d like to see Rasheed Wallace in it just for his reaction when he gets a word wrong and has to sit down.

7. My own private research has determined that it is now harder to earn a failing grade in high school than it is to pass.

8. Pastors, here are three terrible ways to start off your sermon.

“I’d like to start off this morning with an interpretive dance to one of my favorite Bob Seger songs.”

“This is my Bible…”

“I got more rhymes than the Bible’s got Psalms.”

9. As a general rule of thumb, if the movie is about a horse, it’s not going to be a very good movie. I don’t mean to be so harsh. Just trying to save you a few bucks.

10. Remember when that airplane disappeared a few months back? How are we still not talking about this? What kind of a world do we live in where an airplane vanishes in the middle of the sky and a few weeks later nobody cares that it still hasn’t been found? I miss the good old days when life was a lot less like an episode of G.I. Joe.

11. People on Facebook should have to pay a $35 fine for writing sentences that begin with, “That awkward moment when…”

12. I feel sorry for the people I see who are still driving around with Obama bumper stickers on their cars. They’re sort of like the guy who got “Vanderbilt Commodores: 2013 BCS Champs” tattooed on his forehead. Some things are just too hard to get rid of, I guess.

13. A few years ago, everyone was making fun of this song.

Now, every song on top 40 radio sounds just like it. Maybe Rebecca Black was really a genius. Well, either that or top 40 radio is just dumb.

14. Anyone who supported Obamacare has no right to be outraged over the VA scandal.

15. If you are a new parent and you are wondering if you need to change your baby’s diaper, just know this. You should have changed it about three minutes ago. Changing your baby’s diaper is always necesserry.