“What Are You Waiting For?”

What are you waiting for? The truth is that most of us spend the vast majority of our lives waiting for something.

Maybe it’s a birthday. A vacation. A holiday. A graduation. A wedding. An anniversary. A retirement.

Maybe it’s when the baby is finally born, or the student loan (good luck waiting that out!) or car or house or business loan is eventually paid off.

You waited—even as you were working all the necessary hours and many more—to achieve that hard-to-reach business goal or rank. You waited—even as you trained, practiced, sweated—to finally earn that coveted professional certification. It took all of the knowledge, skill, and experience you possessed—and more—for you to finally finish that massive multi-year project, but you did.

Maybe what you’re waiting for right now is not warm or fuzzy, not exciting at all, but you’re waiting nonetheless. Waiting for the chemotherapy to be over once and for all. Waiting for the divorce to be final and that corner turned. Waiting to be dismissed from rehab and praying to keep the freedom you’re working so hard to find.

Waiting can be a big part of the adventure on the journey toward a goal. It can be a sweet blessing. Waiting can be the cask in which the draft is aged and infused with layer upon layer of flavorful complexity. It can be precious time, essential time. Waiting can be filled with anxiety as each day, each hour, each moment seems to bring its own ominous question mark. It can be excruciating.

Scripture overflows with examples of waiting and wait-ers. We read the amazing story of the patriarch Joseph and see him waiting in a pit, waiting in a prison, waiting, unbeknownst to himself, to save his family (and many more), bless the whole world, and be a major link in fulfilling God’s promise to us all.

How many long years did David wait before he actually began to reign as king of Israel?

In a rather negative example, we see a surly prophet named Jonah waiting for three interminable days in the belly of an oversized fish and then waiting, scowling, grinching, sweating on the top of a hill hoping against hope that God might ditch mercy and scorch and destroy a city He seemed determine to save.

Nine months of waiting became for the Virgin Mary precious, invaluable time.

Jesus himself waited for thirty years to begin his primary ministry and, as it began, spent forty days in the wilderness being tested and, I think we can also say, waiting.

Saul of Tarsus was stopped in his tracks on his way to Damascus by Christ and a blinding light. But becoming Paul the apostle also entailed spending three years in Arabia, waiting, learning, being molded by his Lord; the waiting was essential to what he would become and do.

Whenever you find yourself navigating an “in-between” time, a time of waiting, well, you may find that it’s actually priceless time God can use to shape and hone your life into a far richer blessing than it could ever be apart from the waiting.

Pastor and author John Ortberg’s words are wise: “Who you become while you’re waiting is as important as what you’re waiting for.”

 

 

    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 

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“Sensdistra Is Good for What Ails Ya!”

A good commercial can be a lot of fun. I’m thinking about the TV sort. You know—cave men, lizards with British accents. That sort of thing.

But I am full to overflowing (yea, verily, to nausea) with two other TV ad-types—those pumped out by slime-oozing lawyers and those peddled by drug pushers. Let’s tackle the latter.

I am very thankful indeed for the availability of needed medications that make our lives much better. But whatever side of the political spectrum you find yourself on, is it hard to figure out that our medical system is messed up, wasteful, unaffordable, and in need of massive change?

Case in point: drugs. How helpful are drugs if you can’t afford them? And just a few of the reasons you may have a hard time affording them are legitimately high costs in research and development, much higher costs because attorneys are involved, and the kind of stinky skullduggery that always attaches itself to big bucks and big institutions.

Ah, yes, and the cost of commercials. The commercials must work, or the folks spending big bucks on them wouldn’t spend big bucks on them. They can’t be targeted just at doctors, but I liked it better when my physician just told me what medicine I needed. If it might cause “oily discharge” or gruesome death as a side effect, he’d probably mention it. It’s laughable that company lawyers, who’d rather their clients not get out of bed and thus manage “risk,” force half of the stupid commercials to be devoted to listing atrocious side effects. Just stuff it! I mean, the brochure. Into the box. Just get off my TV! Your commercials make that vast mind-numbing wasteland even more vapid.

Alas, the never-ending drug ads just keep piling up. Lest they drive me nuts, I just laugh at them. (Is it possible to be amorous to much effect in two separate bathtubs?)

As word guy, I can’t help but wonder how much money the drug companies spend naming their concoctions. I can help them, I think, and for less than a cool million.

I’ve started keeping a list of drug trade names. Filled a page of a yellow pad with just 78 of the better-known. (You can easily find around 4000 on the web at lists such as http://www.needymed.com.)

Most (not all) are three syllables. The emphasis is usually on the first. Some make sense. Allegra® has to do with allergies. Some are take-offs on the chemical name. Paxil® is Latin “pax” for peace and sounds a little like paroxetine. Where they got Xeljanz® for tofacitinib, Jardiance® for empagliflozin or Kystrexxa® for pegloticase, I don’t have a clue. (Those are all patented trade names; leave ’em alone or the lawyers will be after you.)

I wrote drug names on slips of paper, put them in three bowls, one for each syllable, and then drew, combined, and laughed. So here ya go, drug pushers. These are free for the taking, and there are scads of combinations. But I’d accept a check.

Spitavtyx. Crestoppa. Lotaflo. Humnocol. Oproqura. Vyervo. Tretilor. Lipfexty. Orrevia. Wellfypro. Valuvia. Neudivnax. Elitrin. Migcardya. Celtrudgrix. Levlasmax. Sensdistra. Litavtor. Shinazi. Alvanpril. Glalartik. Eljanztix. Trexlicort. Viliquin. Remdaxia. And on we could go. (If I’ve stumbled onto any real names, it’s accidental!)

The real fun might come if we were to try to postulate what maladies might be connected with each of my cobbled together drug names. At least one needs to be for “oily discharge.”

The Creator of our universe has lots of names. I’m particularly fond of Lord, Father, Abba. Whatever the number of syllables, the emphasis—first, last, and forever—is on love.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


Tripping Over a Logical Fallacy Can Cause Bruises

 

I don’t have a clue what the rules are now at most universities regarding graduate/teaching assistants. I do know that when I was working on a master’s degree and serving in that capacity, teaching assistants actually taught. A lot.

It was not unusual for me to teach three or more sections of English 101 (Freshman Composition) per semester. The departmental goal for English 101 was that each student write ten 500-word essays.

Somehow I managed to get through college and a graduate degree without taking a single math course, but I can tell you that if each of three classes had 20 students (we often started out with more), that translates into 600 essays per semester for the TA under my hat to grade. For obvious reasons, we didn’t always make it to the ten, but we got so close that my own spelling suffered from running in such bad company. I almost began to believe that “alot,” as in “My students used that non-word word alot,” was a word. As I recall, when I was sitting in the labor room with my wife as she was doing the work of getting our first child here, I was grading essays and/or working on my thesis until her groans became distracting.

English 101 students will drive a teacher to distraction/despair with spelling and grammar errors, but a big problem with many of those essays was not mechanical; it was a problem some of my fellow TAs and I tried to address with a unit on “Logical Fallacies.” (We meant breakdowns in logic, not fallacies that were logical.) Good writing not only needs to be free of grammar errors, it needs to make alot of sense alot (even most) of the time. (Oops.)

Logical fallacies abound. Whether we’re writing or not, we all bump into them or fall over them regularly. Once we learn to recognize a few, we’ll be a bit more wary and a lot more humble, even as we begin to see more of them lurking about than we’d ever dreamed existed. I’ll list a few below. (A Wikipedia article lists more than 100.)

Either/or sets up two extremes as the only possibilities when many others actually exist. “If we don’t elect Senator Bluster as president, the country is doomed.”

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, Latin for “after this, therefore because of this,” jumps to draw conclusions from coincidences. We chuckle about the rooster who noticed that the sun came up every day after he crowed. He developed serious neurosis, paranoia that he might oversleep and, at great inconvenience to the world, the sun would not come up because he forgot to crow. To assume that since many children who develop autism received vaccines, the vaccines cause autism is no more logical, but it is more dangerous.

Non sequitur, Latin for “it does not follow,” means that your conclusion does not necessarily logically follow your premise, as in, “If you hate this column, you are mean and ignorant.” (And here, I jump right into the ad hominem, “to the man” fallacy, too, by resorting to name-calling rather than rational discussion.

Oh, and don’t forget the fallacy fallacy. Reasoning for an argument may be fallacious, but that does not necessarily mean the conclusion is false. (Even a broken clock is . . .)

Jesus says that we are to love the Lord with “all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.” I’m not sure which is hardest, and I’d like to avoid the either/or fallacy, but I’ve not found the “mind” part to be the easiest.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my webpage at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


When “War” Comes to Worship, All Sides Lose

I try to avoid ever firing any shots in what have been called the “worship wars.”

“Worship” and “war.” Those two words together, not held at arm’s length from each other by a conjunction, form a jarring contradiction.

We know what the Apostle Paul would say because we know what he did say in Philippians 4:2 to two squabbling gals named Euodia and Syntyche (who some wit has christened Odious and Soon-touchy). He doesn’t describe the “issue” or take sides. He just says, “Get along.” The mere fact that Christians were fussing was shameful, as out of place as a cow patty on a cheesecake. It still is.

Our Lord Jesus went to the cross, completely emptying himself, laying aside his own will, out of his love for his Father and us. How ludicrous, how deeply wrong, it is for those saved by his sacrifice to refuse to sacrifice their own rights—maybe even to shoulder the unbearable burden of singing a song or two that we might not like but that might very much bless someone else?

I wonder. In times of persecution, do people worry and fuss about such minutia? I wonder how long we could endure the real thing if our idea of suffering is to sing a song we don’t like or endure a service with the thermostat set a bit too high or too low for our personal comfort. (Oh, it’s impossible to ever get that one “right.”)

I do understand why some fine pastors I very much respect and some great churches have chosen to offer separate “traditional” and “contemporary” services, particularly when the whole congregation can’t fit into the building at the same time anyway. I’d likely do the same thing. But, ideally, I much prefer a “blended” worship where we sing a variety of styles and thereby inch up on something called sacrifice. Or love.

As the disparity between styles widens, though, I admit that “blended” is a challenge. “God of Our Fathers” cries out for an organ. “Kumbaya” equivalents, soundly Trinitarian (that’s good) with three hundred verses (fine for the first 150), need a guitar (and maybe a campfire). And the latest coolest Christian Luv Radio Top 40 or sorta sacred rap songs call for calisthenics, maybe some amazing riffs, and perhaps a good deal of other jumping about. It can be a tad jarring to go straight from some of these into others of these.

Yes, and I suppose church folks have always been like all folks. Everyone is somewhere on a continuum from dyed in the wool and pretty much calcified traditional (danger: ossified folks bend poorly and break easily) to folks burdened by carrying about a heavy load of coolness (danger: cool marches on, and we look silly chasing it). The fact that the former folks on one side of that continuum have usually paid the freight and are the reason the church exists perhaps should at least not be totally forgotten but never brandished like a club.

But the One who truly paid the price, the Reason the church exists, is Jesus. And if we ever catch ourselves fussing about worship, we’ve already lost the fight and are utterly defeated. Claiming to see better than our brothers and sisters in Christ’s family, we’ve already poked out one eye and are half-blind and stumbling; we’ve lost the focus of all worship, and we are denying the Cross. Then whether we’re doing so with a pipe organ, a cappella, or a heavy metal guitar makes precious little difference.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“So, Bob, Would You Hand Me That Thingamajig?”

Thingamajig. Doohickey. Dillybob. Whatsit.

Those are, of course, all words we use to refer to things for which we are unsure of the actual word, if there is one, for the thingamajig in question.

There. I’ve written “thingamajig” twice now, and my spell-checker has thus far resisted the impulse (do spell-checkers have impulses?) to squiggle a red line under the word, thereby calling my spelling into question. “Thingamajig” is evidently now a bona fide word for something we don’t know the word for. Ditto for doohickey.

Yes, but dillybob and whatsit still get red squiggles. Since I usually write these columns using software which, perhaps like its owner, tends to straddle American and British English spelling a bit—its preference for “anesthesia” or “anaesthesia” is mostly anesthetized, not to say completely anaesthetised (red squiggle just appeared; the “s” did it)—I often double-check the spell-check.

So I just did. Now the gate arm swings up and whatsit strides on past the spell-check check point. Dillybob is still being held at the border, though the Urban Dictionary (not, I admit, the highest authority) recognizes its usefulness. The Oxford English Dictionary must be dilly-dallying and hasn’t given dillybob its official papers yet.

Still, you know what I mean when I use the word. We need words for thingamabobs, whatchamacallits, doodahs, and hoobajoobs. (Sea of red squiggles now, but I’ll stake my English degree that these whatsitsname words for things unknown or as yet unnamed exist to answer, rather creatively and with a touch of heart-tickling whimsy, a real need.) The language would be much poorer without them.

We need a word for the crunchy little tidbit left on a corn dog stick when the dog is doggone. And along that line, what about a word for that little smidge of chocolate sticking to an ice cream stick until you lick it off?

What about a word for that disgusting little puff of smelly air that hits you in the face when, after delaying a bit too long, you bag the kitchen trash and then lean over and pull the plastic drawstring tight?

Often you discover that a word really does exist for the whatsit you wondered about. It was a fine moment when author Madeleine L’Engle taught me that dragon droppings are called “fewmets.” It’s a shame to accidentally step into something and not know its official name. Now I’m fewmetically safe. (Definite red squiggle.)

And is there a one-word description for a dweeb with a weird sense of humor? I guess so. (See dweeb. Or dork. Or nerd. Maybe doofus.)

I stepped right into that one, but I’m still smiling. Words can sting a little or a lot. But they can also morph wonderfully into delightful whimsy. And they can fly to heights of breathtaking beauty and awe-inspiring mystery.

And, yes, sometimes you just need a word and don’t have one. But our heavenly Father knew exactly what this world needed when, out of infinite love, he sent us his Son, the Word.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


“Trendy,” By Its Very Nature, Can’t Last

“Trendy” can’t last.

Whether you’re talking about clothing and hair styles, the latest instructional “cure-all” in education, technological whiz-bang devices, automobiles (think Pacers and PT Cruisers), tattoos still affixed to one’s epidermis long after the tatt has sagged past its coolness date, “cool” marches on.

No surprise, words and phrases also have a shelf life; the trendiest end up the moldiest most quickly.

For years, no mission statement (speaking of trendy) was complete without some form of the word “excellence” in the paragraph that could have been a horse until a committee turned it into a camel. It was enough to make one want to settle for “fair to middlin’” so as to give real excellence a shot at the same time as giving the word a rest.

You may have noticed that everybody’s “reaching out” these days. In times past, reporters asked for, requested, or sought interviews. Now they reach out. Continually.

And we’re in love with “systems.” Good luck finding a hospital; you’ll have to settle for a system. I’m sure your tooth paste is now part of your “dental wellness system.” (Wellness. Another trendy slinky overly-impressed with itself hot air sort of word with questionable credentials.)

Of course, shampoo is integral to your hair care system. And where would a carpenter be without what I assume is now a nail installation system? (Just hand me my hammer.) Got facts? If you need more, head to your handy dandy information system. You can even buy special food for your cat if she has a “sensitive system.” (Personally, I’d just buy a new feline.) It’s all a little too much for my system.

And here’s an increasingly trendy phrase for you. I’ve been trying to figure it out for a long time: “spiritual but not religious.”

I’m not sure what that means. Is it like “I’m a fan of sports but not athletics” or “I‘m sick but not enough to be contagious”? But make no mistake: it’s definite and certain. It definitely partakes of the seriously indefinite. It certainly feels deeply, albeit vaporously.

I only have two problems with “spiritual but not religious.” One is with “spiritual” and the other is with “not religious.”

I’m not sure what “spiritual” in this context means. Maybe it has something to do with liking sunrises and sunsets, mountains and birdies. (I do.) I think it may have once included a little New Age-tinged mysticism, 90 per cent of which was old warmed-over Eastern religion all dressed up as new. Define “spiritual” in this context. Good luck to you.

And “not religious.” Phooey! You’ve never met anyone who doesn’t worship something by making it their focus. It may be God, fame, fortune, success, work, pleasure, science, creation, or just themselves. We all worship something; we just don’t always name our God.

But that “jello nailed to the wall” phrase may hold some advantages. I’ll betcha “spiritual but not religious” folks get to sleep in on Sundays and never tithe. (If so, a lot of Christians got there first.) It must be handy to believe in an impersonal force who set this world in motion but can’t ask anything of you. Good luck, though, in getting that force to love you. You’ll get as much love from a carved piece of wood or chiseled stone. (That’s already been tried; it didn’t work.)

The God of the ages, our Creator, our Father, is changeless. Real. Strong. Not trendy at all, he is 100 per cent love. Now and always.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


A Home Renovation Is Easier Than a Soul Upgrade

 

It was a joy last week to finally come out of the closet.

Well, perhaps I’d better rephrase that lest you get the wrong idea. And, to be completely accurate, I probably should say “out of the closets.” Two of them.

For clarity, maybe I’d better back up and take another run at this.

One of my sons and his sweet family are moving into a new old house. New to them. But very old. And they’re involved “up to their eyeballs” in serious renovation.

Part of the renovation involves the kind of wall work required when you take out old wall furnaces, ducts, and vent covers, alter some existing walls and deal with various imperfections in old ones. This involves sheet rock and drywall work. And that means slathering on mud (gypsum joint compound), putting on drywall tape, floating it out with two more coats of mud, and matching the old texture.

Call me weird, but I like “taping and bedding” sheetrock. I’ve made this deal with several folks: I’ll do the sheetrock finishing if you promise me I’ll never have to touch a paint brush. I do not like painting. By the way, want to watch a real craftsman? Take a look at any of the YouTube videos featuring Laurier Desormeaux. Poetry in motion with mud!

So, that deal made with my son (oh, did I remember to mention that deal specifically before I jumped in?), I got started. And I was quickly sent to a closet. Patched some holes. Re-sheeted the ceiling and a wall or two. Then finished it. (This description was time-altered. Drying between coats takes time.)

Then I was sent to another closet. A really small one with three walls and one needing to be built. Repeated the process above.

But with that one, I ran into a problem my son says he has already repeatedly hit head-on in this house. (Did I mention that it is a very old one?) Do I try to agree with Earth and gravity with regard to what is truly level, square, and plumb? (Folks may think everything from gender to the Ten Commandments is alterable depending upon the latest opinion poll, but the Earth is amazingly close-minded when it comes to items such as “square.”) Or do I give in and match the sags, pitches, and yaws of the old house? Or opt for a combination thereof and go for a split decision?

Well, for the closet in question, I went with Earth, deciding that inside that closet one door frame board that tapers from 3 inches to 1/2 inch will rarely be seen anyway. The real challenge there was to suck in enough of my girth to be able to climb in, turn around, occasionally change my mind or my knife angle, and not mud myself into the wall. Coming out of that closet eventually was a joy.

Maybe I like working with sheetrock occasionally because there’s really not much about it that can’t be easily fixed with a little mud. That sort of progress and healing in my own soul and those around me is not as easy to see. Sad to say, even that old house is far closer to plumb, square, and level than my life has ever been.

But the renovation that I need in myself is underway, and my hope is in the finest Carpenter of all. It’s amazing to watch him work!

 

 

    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Strong Faith: How Badly Do We Really Want It?

If God exists and is all-powerful and all-loving, why does he allow suffering in the world he created?

Life’s biggest questions, the ones that truly matter, can be condensed into a few that can be counted on one hand. The question I’ve just asked is one of them. It, and the very few more in its league, are worth asking. I’m convinced that our God will help us face such questions in his strength if we really want his help.

But if we’re fat and sassy, dollar-blinded and bloated and quite comfy, swimming along in the warm stream of our society’s sea of selfishness . . . If, most of the time, pretty much our highest goal is to get through life with more and more stuff and not lose too many golf balls . . . Well, then we easily shove out of our consciousness the questions that matter.

Yes, but then one hope-withering medical test, one terribly sick child, one life-shaking tragedy is all it takes to toss us out of the hot tub and into very deep, cold, and turbulent waters indeed. Then the questions that really matter really matter, and easy answers and “throw-down,” “Facebook-faith,” TV-preacher platitudes will never weather the storm.

I hope you’re not in such a storm right now, but we don’t have to live long to know that we will all go through times that shake us to our core. Before the time of testing, it’s best to remember that strong faith cannot grow in a heartbeat. However badly I want a 50-year-old oak tree to shade me from oppressive heat, I won’t get it this afternoon by planting a seedling this morning. As G. K. Chesterton said, “No one ever grew a beard in moment of passion.” Some things just take time. Possessing faith that is strong and mature is one of those things.

Don’t misunderstand. You can sincerely give your life to the Lord in a heartbeat and your contrite heart will be accepted into the Father’s warm embrace. Even mustard-seed faith, Jesus said, can be real faith.

But if we think “baby faith” is all the faith God wants to build in us, and if we think genuinely trusting God is easy, we’re mistaken. For our faith to mature, we need to yield our wills to God and follow our Lord in practical ways. The Son worshiped the Father. He spent time in prayer. He was steeped in Scripture. He lay down his will, wrapped himself in a towel, washed the dirty feet of those who should have been washing his, and, because of his deep love for and trust in his Father, went to a cross.

If I want strong faith, I’ve got to walk the way of the cross. Can I carry a cross if I can’t even go to worship? How can I expect to grow in selfless, mature faith if I’m chafed by singing a song I don’t like in worship (but that might bless someone else)? More spiritual still, how strong is my faith if I won’t carry out the trash for my wife or switch off the TV to read our kids a Bible story?

God wants us to love him with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. He’ll help us to grapple with hard questions and live through hard times. But for our hearts, minds, and souls to be strong and integrated, real relationship and growing faith is required—not to buy God’s favor; God’s people already have that. No, we need faith to help us through life’s storms. And the question is unavoidable: how badly do we really want it?

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


God Chuckles and Says, “Time for Bed, Child”

When I learned that CBS’ 60 Minutes news program was doing a story on sleep, I was interested. Sleeping is one thing I’ve always been very good at. But if anyone has pointers to help my technique . . . So I made sure to watch what was a fascinating program, and I learned a lot.

In 1980, a study was done using rats who were kept awake indefinitely. After five days, they began dying. They needed sleep as badly as they needed food. All mammals do.

Modern folks in our society have been a little snooty and dismissive about sleep, as if needing to snooze at all is something of an embarrassment, a luxury we could likely do without if we weren’t lazy and unmotivated.

Not so.

Studies show that sleep is every bit as important to our health as diet and exercise, and that adults need around eight hours of it each day. The lack thereof seriously impacts our memory, our metabolism, our appetite, and how we age. A recent study at the University of Chicago School of Medicine restricted the sleep of young, healthy test subjects to four hours a night for six consecutive nights. At the end of that time, tests showed that each of the subjects was already in a pre-diabetic state (which would be naturally reversed when they resumed sleeping normally).

They were also hungry. Lack of sleep caused a drop in levels of leptin, a hormone that tells our brains when we’re not hungry.

A lack of sleep? No problem. If you don’t mind being fat and sick. One researcher said that sleep deprivation should definitely be considered a risk factor for Type II diabetes. The program host went on to mention studies done all over the world linking lack of sleep to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke—not to mention the mood swings that make sleep-deprived people “hell on wheels” to harmony in their homes and workplaces, and whose brain activity on MRIs mimics that of the severely psychiatrically disturbed.

To those who say they have trained themselves to do fine with little sleep, the researchers reply, “Nonsense.” For a day or two, artificial “counter measures” such as caffeine or physical activity may mask the problem, but it is cumulative and real, and can’t be hidden for long.

“People who are chronically sleep-deprived, like people who have had too much to drink, often have no sense of their limitations,” said Dr. David Dinges at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “It’s a convenient belief,” he says. But he issues a standing invitation for “any CEO or anyone else in the world” to come to his laboratory and prove it.

We easily adopt society’s lie that our true worth is in what we produce. We’re so impressed with ourselves, our indispensability, our strategies and plans. We quit “wasting time” by sleeping much. Then the wheels come off even as we slog on physically and emotionally as if through molasses. And the God who is real Rest and Peace but who Himself never needs to sleep, chuckles and says, “Time for bed, child. Go to sleep and let me do within you what you can’t do for yourself.”

I think there is a lesson in that, but right now I need a nap.

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“How to Think” Is Worth Some Thought

I’ve been enjoying reading a fine book by Alan Jacobs, a professor in the Honors Program at Baylor University. When I tell you the title of the book, you’ll likely smile and tell me that, obviously, I read it none too soon. It’s titled How to Think.

If you just peruse our social landscape very briefly, you’ll certainly recognize the need for better thinking. Often any attempt at cogent thought at all in the midst of our culture’s loud battles would be welcome. In a day when a deep fear of genuine freedom of speech is gripping many university campuses so tightly that they feel a need to establish “safe zones” for students apparently traumatized by the outcome of elections or diverse opinions, Professor Jacobs opts for teaching students (and others who will listen) to think more clearly rather than to run from facing reality at all.

I’m planning to read the whole not-very-long book, but, after reading the first chapter or two, I cheated and flipped over to the last one, “The Thinking Person’s Checklist.” Jacobs gives twelve great points there, ending with “Be brave.” Thinking requires courage, mostly because the loudest folks around us don’t do much of it. I’ll just mention here a few of his other points.

First, he says that “when faced with the provocation to respond to what someone has said, give it five minutes.” He suggests taking a walk or pulling some weeds. I think he’s recommending using that five minutes not to think much at all; better thinking will be more likely to occur after a break, and it will stand a better chance of being actual thinking, not just reacting.

Need I mention that this is particularly important with regard to social media? Off-the-cuff fly-off-the-handle flaming Facebook posts or middle of the night tweets or texts are rarely ever the fruit of much thought. If the tweeter talks like a twit, walks like a twit, and tweets like a twit, it’s probably a twit, and a twit’s lack of impulse control is rarely improved by sleep deprivation.

Along that same line, Jacobs also advises, “As best you can, online and off, avoid the people who fan flames.” Yes, and don’t be one! “Remember,” Jacobs writes, “that you don’t have to respond to what everyone else is responding to in order to signal your virtue and right-mindedness.”

Might I suggest that, before firing of a fiery Facebook post or a bird-brained tweet, it might be good to run it by a mature 8-11 year old? Their hormones haven’t kicked in yet and they usually have a pretty clear idea of what is fair, what is mean, and what is crazy. If you’re particularly courageous, you might even give them the power to curtail your Facebook or Twitter privileges if they determine that you can’t behave.

Professor Jacobs would agree that St. James was thinking very well indeed when he counseled, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (1:19). Yes, but that will require more thought and more courage than we might at first think.

 

 

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Copyright 2018 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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