Radical Risks Are Rewarding!

Some risks we take are fairly safe.  Other risks can be radical.  It takes a radical risk to love other people as we love ourselves (Mat. 22:39).  John reminds us that “the one who does not love does not know God” (I John 4:8).  Here are some simple, but radical, examples:

Last year a fifteen-year old boy, Yasir Moore, went for a job interview at a local Chick-fil-A in Raleigh, North  Carolina.  He stopped at a department store to buy a tie so he would look more professional.  The store didn’t have any clip-on ties, but one of the employees, Dennis Roberts, showed Moore how to tie his own tie.  He then offered some advice on the interview.

Yasir Moore was so appreciative that he reached over to hug Dennis on account of the advice and how to tie his tie.  Another customer had been observing this and quickly took a photo of this encounter.  Immediately, it went viral.

Yasir was so appreciative, he said, “In the world today you don’t see a lot of good things happen where people help each other.”  Yasir is a black man; Dennis is a white man.  The ability to help and receive help transcended racial lines – as genuine caring always does.  That’s radical!

Genuine caring isn’t restricted to a certain race, age, occupation or gender.  Last year in Fresno, California, several members of Hell’s Angels lived up to the last word of their name.  They waited in line for five days to buy bicycles for needy local kids.  They were going to take advantage of Black Friday sales so they could purchase over 200 bikes from a local WalMart.  They gave the bikes to kids who couldn’t afford a bike.

One member of Hell’s Angels commented, “It’s not the jacket I wear; it’s not the motor I ride, it’s not a glove.  You ain’t got enough money wearing anything to make me feel the way I feel when I give these kids these bikes.”  The greatest feeling in the world comes when we do something radically loving for someone else.

Maybe you read about the President of Kentucky State University.  He elected to take a big pay cut so the other school employees could get a raise.  Dr. Raymond Burse knocked $90,000 off his salary to give the University’s minimum wage earners a $3.00 bump to $10.25 an hour.  That raise will also apply to all new hires even after Burse goes out of office.  That’s radical!

Burse says his reasons were simple.  “You don’t give up $90,000 for publicity.  I did this for the people.  I didn’t expect any publicity.  This is something I have been thinking about from the very beginning.”

Radical caring for others is mathematically sound.  It will add volumes of joy and happiness, subtract loneliness and depression, divide your grief and adversity, and multiply your blessings and rewards. (Tweet this)

My friend, Anne Graham Lotz, reminds us that in dealing with others, “Our first concern is usually for our own well-being and having our needs met.  And our second concern is that others respond positively to our overtures.  If they don’t, we refuse to continue to love them.  But Jesus outlined a radically different kind of love – a love that puts the needs and well-being of others before our own to the extent we would sacrifice our time, our energy, our money, and our thoughts in order to demonstrate it.  We demonstrate it to others whom we may not like or with whom we may be incompatible or who may respond negatively or who may never do anything for us in return!  Now that’s radical!”

How radical will you risk being?

What Is Really Valuable?

One of the most difficult things in life is determining the value of any item.  When you go into a store, price tags indicate how much a certain item is worth.  Sometimes a store’s price tags get mixed up.  In life sometimes the price tags on values get mixed up.

How much is something worth?  Recently an antique photograph collector went into a flea market in Fresno, California and purchased a photograph for two dollars.  When he looked at it more closely he discovered that it was a rare picture of the legendary Billy the Kid.  The photo has been called “the Holy Grail of Western Americana,” and it is currently valued at $5 million.  A $5 million item was purchased for two dollars!

David Gonzales bought a dilapidated house in the town of Elbow Lake, Minnesota for $10,000.  He was going to fix it up.  As he was removing some of the newspapers used to insulate a wall, he found an old comic book tucked in with those newspapers.  He looked at it and thought it might be worth something.

He was amazed to discover that it was one of the rarest comic books of all time – the 1938 Action Comics #1 that introduced the world to Superman.  The comic book will be auctioned for about $200,000.  How much was that $10,000 house really worth?

In January 2014, 26-year old Ken Hoang was visiting Chicago and using his cell phone to take photographs of the icy Chicago River when he dropped his cell phone on the ice.  When he tried to retrieve the cell phone, he fell into the water.  Lauren Li, one of his friends, then dropped down to help him, but she slipped into the river.  They began to yell for help and another friend came and stepped on the ice and fell into the water.

Ken Hoang was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  Lauren Li was missing for a couple of days before her body was pulled from the water.  The third friend was found alive, hospitalized, and released.

Cell phones are important.  People get attached to cell phones, but are you willing to swap your life to try to retrieve a cell phone?  Are you willing to follow a friend into icy water to help them retrieve what they think is valuable?

Jesus was always encountering people who were asking questions about life.  One day some people confronted Him and asked Him about the values of life.  Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Every day we are exchanging precious time for something we consider to be valuable.  The question is – is it worth $2 or $5 million?  Is it a $200,000 treasure or just a $10,000 dilapidated house?  Are we so attached to some things that we swap our lives for something that is not worth giving a second thought?

There were some missionaries who had to be evacuated from a country recently.  They had to flee for their lives.  They were not allowed to take any of their possessions.  All they could do was get out themselves.  When they were interviewed and asked how tough it was to leave all their possessions behind them, they commented, “We carry our possessions in our mind and heart, not our hands.”

What is really valuable?  What are you spending your life for?  Check out Jesus’ answer in Mark 8:34-35.

Leaving a Legacy

How do you want to be remembered?  What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?  What memories about you will live longer than you live?

There is an interesting group known as the National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art (NAPSA).  This group has concocted a way that folks can leave a legacy.  They have devised a plan to allow people to have their tattoos posthumously removed, preserved and framed so they can be hung on a loved one’s wall.

This is the way it works:  When a tattooed person dies, NAPSA sends over a preservation kit to be brought to the funeral home.  The tattooed area of skin is sliced off and sent to this organization.  It takes about three months to have the tattoo framed and delivered to the family.  NAPSA says “Your story, your spirit and your legacy can live on for generations to come.”

I don’t want a tattoo to be my legacy.  Actually, I don’t want a tattoo! There are far more important things for which I want to be remembered.

In his book I Almost Missed The Sunset, Bill Gaither writes about teaching school in Alexandra, Indiana, where he had grown up.  He and his wife wanted to buy a piece of property where they could build a house.  He noticed some property he liked.  It belonged to a 92-year old retired banker named Mr. Yale.  He owned a lot of other property, and he always told people he didn’t want to sell “because I promised the farmers they could use it for their cattle.”

Bill and Gloria Gaither visited him at the bank and inquired about the property.  He said, “Not selling. Promised it to a farmer for grazing.”  Bill Gaither told him they were teaching school and thought he would consider selling it to somebody who would settle in that area.  Mr. Yale then asked him his name.  Bill said, “Gaither.  Bill Gaither.”

Immediately, Mr. Yale said, “Are you any relation to Grover Gaither?”  Bill said that was his granddad.  Mr. Yale said, “Interesting.  Grover Gaither was the best worker I ever had on my farm.  Full day’s work for a full day’s pay – so honest.  What did you say you wanted?”

Bill told him the acreage he was wanting to buy.  A week later Mr. Yale told him he had the property appraised and said, “How does $3,800 sound?  Would that be OK?”  Bill first thought he was talking about $3,800 an acre.  Mr. Yale was going to sell him all fifteen acres for $3,800!  Bill Gaither knew it was worth much more than that.  He got the property!

Thirty years later Bill Gaither and his son were strolling on his beautiful property that had once been pasture land.  Bill Gaither said, “Benjy, you’ve had this wonderful place to grow up through nothing that you’ve done, but because of the good name of a great-granddad you never met.”  What a legacy!

I seriously doubt tattoos will last very long.  If they do, that’s a poor legacy to leave.  I’m completely confident that a good name is a wonderful legacy to leave.  “A good name is more desirable than great riches.  To be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Prov. 22:1).  “A good reputation is more valuable than expensive perfume.  And the day you die is better than the day you are born” (Eccl. 7:1).  “Finishing is better than starting” (Eccl. 7:8).

Leave a legacy that will honor God and bless people!

Is It the Whole Truth?

Some statements are factually true, but they don’t tell the whole truth if you look at the bigger picture of what is being communicated.  Witnesses in court swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Here are some examples from sports of how something can be true, but not totally true.

Alabama State University built a state-of-the-art college football stadium five years ago.  I went over several times to speak with the coaches and football team.  Let me give you a trivia question – Who coached the first Alabama State University football victory in the new Hornet stadium?  People immediately answer, “Coach Reggie Barlow.”  That is not true.  People then have a puzzled look on their face.  The first game played was the Turkey Day Classic with Tuskegee, and Tuskegee won.  The next year, Alabama State did win, but it wasn’t their first win.  Following the first game against Tuskegee, the next game played was the Black and Gold game ending Spring practice.  I was invited to be the honorary coach for the Gold team.  My assistant was Roger Schultz.

I had Isaiah Crowell on my team.  As you may know, he has a great future with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL.  We got the ball and let Isaiah run it.  He made several large gains and scored.  We got the ball back and we kept giving the ball to him.  He scored again.

Coach Barlow came over to me and said, “John Ed, you can’t run Isaiah every play.”  I asked him, “Why not? He’s making yardage and we’re winning.  Unless you say differently, we are going to keep running him till the defense can stop him.”  The Gold team, my team, won the Black and Gold game!

So I coached the first Alabama State victory in the new Hornet Stadium.  As a coach, I am undefeated.  I have a 1000% record.  I don’t plan to coach anymore and am retiring with a perfect record!

To say that I coached the first victory for ASU in Hornet Stadium is the truth, but it doesn’t tell the whole truth about the bigger picture of Alabama State University football in the games that actually count on the books.  I did get doused with Gatorade, and I did help Isaiah Crowell get to the NFL, but that wasn’t the whole truth.

One of the great basketball players of all time is Kobe Bryant.  He is retiring at the end of this year.  Any place that the Lakers visit is sold out because people want to see Kobe for the last time.  He recently played in his last game in Phoenix.  The Phoenix Suns won 119-107.  The interesting thing is that the Suns have a 19-year old rookie guard who scored 28 points in his one and only game against the retiring Laker star Kobe Bryant, who played in his Desert Finale and scored 17 points.  Devin Booker tweeted “I am 1-0 vs. Kobe.  That is the memory I get to tell everybody, and there is going to be proof of it.”  When Bryant started his NBA career, Booker was not even born!

Booker is 1-0 against Kobe and outscored him.  That is a true statement, but it doesn’t tell the whole truth about the basketball accomplishments of Devin Booker and Kobe Bryant.  It’s the truth, but not the whole truth.

Stacey King was a great college and NBA basketball player.  Towards the end of his career, he played with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  In one of his last games, Michael Jordan scored 69 points and was taken out of the game with less than a minute to go.  Stacey King replaced him.

With a half-minute left in the game, Stacey King was fouled and made two foul shots.  He retired right after that, and at his retirement he was asked the question, “What is the greatest moment in your basketball history?”  Stacey King replied, “The night Michael Jordan and I scored 71 points together!”  That’s the truth, but it doesn’t communicate the whole truth.

Jesus begins many of his teachings with “I tell you the truth.”  In John 8:32, Jesus says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Truth is not always absolute in our conversation, but it is in Jesus Christ!

Anger Is Like a Bomb

In November 2015, a British mom and dad photographed their two kids climbing and jumping on the barnacle covered buoy that had washed up on the beach.  They did not realize it was a World War II bomb.

Kelly and Gareth Gravell were playing on a Welsh beach when they found the three-foot wide metal ball and their kids Erin, 6, and Ellis, 4, happily climbing over the object.  A few days later a local official announced that the buoy was in fact an old military mine and called in the Royal Navy to blow it up.  Garrett said about his kids, “Oops.  Thankfully they are fine and still here.”

Anger is like an inconspicuous bomb on which we allow our kids to play and sometimes play on them ourselves.  Anger looks harmless at first, but it has a destructive potential if detonated.  Especially dangerous are bombs and anger that have been around awhile.  In his 1994 newspaper article “Wars’ lethal leftover threaten Europeans,” Christopher Burns writes, “The bombs of World War II are still killing in Europe.  They turn up – and sometimes blow up – at construction sites, in fishing nets, or on beaches fifty years after the guns fell silent.  Hundreds of tons of explosives are recovered every year in France alone.”

Thirteen bombs exploded in France in 1993, killing 12 people and wounding 11.  Yvon Bouvet, who heads a government team in the Champagne-Ardennes region that defuses explosives from both World War I and World War II, said “I have lost two of my colleagues.”

Unexploded bombs become more dangerous with time.  With the corrosion inside, the weapon becomes more unstable, and the detonator can be exposed.

The most dangerous bombs are those that appear to be something else – like a barnacle covered buoy.  Anger is most dangerous also when you don’t recognize it for what it is.  But when it explodes it hurts every person near it.  It can close doors of opportunity – it can impair relationships  –  it can cause tremendous damage.

Frederick Buechner said, “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun.  To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue at the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come . . .  in many ways it’s a feast fit for a king.  The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself.  The skeleton at the feast is you.”

The person who receives the greatest destruction is the one who is playing with anger.  Anger is an acid that does more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to the vessel in which it is poured. (Tweet this)

There are a lot of anger bombs lying around from the past.  Don’t admire them or play with them.  They can explode at any time!  You better know how to deal with them.  Call in the Expert – Jesus Christ – who knows what they are and how to carry your anger bombs to a safe place to detonate them.

Listen to God’s instructions:  “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent” (Ps. 4:4). “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov. 16:32). “A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted” (Prov. 12:16). “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Prov. 15:1). “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” (Prov. 25:28).

Examine carefully what you are dealing with – is it an undetonated military bomb or undetonated anger?  Both can do tremendous damage.

Shouting Time!

Rev. Robert Barnes was serving a church in Philadelphia, PA.  His church had just bought a lot nearby so they could expand their parking lot.  A small patch of Easter lilies had been growing on the lot for several years.  The paving company came in and bulldozed the lilies, they then poured the asphalt.  It wasn’t long before the congregation was using the new parking lot.

But an interesting thing occurred.  The following Spring they began to notice something strange.  The pavement of the new parking lot was starting to buckle and crack.  Sure enough, the Easter lilies were poking up through the asphalt!

The meaning of Easter is that hope is always stronger than despair.  It’s the fact that possibilities always exceed problems.  It’s the fact that life is stronger than death.  It’s the fact that God is in charge of everything.  You can bury life in the ground, but sooner or later it will spring up once again.  Life is poking up through the asphalt of death!

My friend Leigh Ann Raynor has written these words –

Easter Changes Everything

Every sorrow and every joy

Every battle, every defeat, every victory

Every fear and every act of courage

Every worry and every assurance

Every illness and every healing

Every conflict and every resolution

Every weakness and every strength

Every selfish act and every act of generosity

Every sin and every act of forgiveness

Every doubt and every belief

Every life and every death

Easter is something to shout about.  The great British minister W. E. Sangster became ill in the 1950s.  He developed an incurable disease that caused progressive muscular atrophy.  Eventually, his voice failed and he was unable to swallow.

On Easter morning, just a few weeks before he died, he wrote a letter to his daughter.  In it he said, “It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice to shout ‘He is risen,’ but it would be even more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”

Easter is shouting time!  Paul writes that the Lord will return with “a mighty shout and with the soul-stirring cry of the archangel and the great trumpet call of God” (I Thes. 4:16).  It’s shouting time! Easter lilies are breaking through asphalt.  Resurrected life is breaking through the chains of death.  Hope is breaking through the cement of despair.  Victory is breaking through the scoreboard of defeat.

Let’s shout!

Anger Is One Letter Short of Danger!

I was preaching in a revival February 28 – March 1, 2016 at First Baptist Church in Eufaula.  Dr. Ken Bush has invited me every third year for the past 18 years.  Jay Wolf at First Baptist in Montgomery also goes regularly.  I told a church member I love going to Eufaula but was surprised that the Baptists keep inviting me back.  He told me that they keep inviting a preacher back until they hear a good sermon!  Guess what – they have shortened the cycle to two years (probably because of my age) and invited me back in 2018!

The church schedules noon worship services as well as evening worship services.  On Monday at noon, I left my cell phone on the front seat of my car.  It was a really hot day, and my cell phone was in the enclosed car in the sunlight.  When I got back to my car about 1:30, I started to make a call.  My cell phone didn’t respond, but a message popped up saying “Cell phone is overheated.  It must cool off before it is used.”

I was surprised because I couldn’t talk on the phone or use it until it cooled down.  It made me think about how we deal with life when we get overheated and become angry.  We tend to talk when we are angry and overheated, and then we really get into trouble.  I think I (and perhaps you) need a sign that pops up and says “Leave me alone as long as I am overheated.”

Anger is one letter short of danger!  (Tweet this)  Anger is an emotion that we all have at some point.  We have to be very careful how we handle our anger.

When I allowed my phone to cool off and could use it, I looked at the news app.  At the top of the news list was an article about a man who was killed in Union Springs as a result of “road rage.”  It happened on Saturday, February 27, 2016.  I drove through Union Springs en route to Eufaula on that Saturday at the time of the murder!

Danny Parker, 29 years old, was gunned down in the neighborhood by a 17-year old teenager.  Parker stopped at the intersection of March Street and Hardaway Avenue to visit with some friends.  The enraged driver stopped and sparked a fight.  The suspect then pulled a gun and shot Parker twice, killing him.

The suspect is a senior at Bullock County High School and is charged with murder.  The police asked him what started the deadly chain of events.  The high school senior said he felt Danny Parker had looked at him the wrong way when he drove past him.  He then followed Parker to the street where the shooting took place.  When I drove through Union Springs coming home I didn’t look at anybody!

Danny Parker’s family says they hope the case shows other drivers how anger behind the wheel can have dangerous and deadly consequences.  On a Saturday afternoon in a quiet neighborhood, a young man was “overheated,” and an innocent father of three children will no longer spend a Saturday afternoon with them.  Uncontrolled anger turned a beautiful Saturday afternoon into an almost unbelievable tragic situation.  Anger can quickly lead to danger.

We live in an angry culture.  The Super Tuesday March 1, 2016 Primary exit polls showed that almost 50% of voters in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia are very angry at the government.  Uncontrolled anger can lose ballgames, cause domestic violence, break up families, populate prisons, etc.

The Bible speaks a lot about anger.  “Don’t sin by letting anger control you . . . for anger gives a foothold to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27). “Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool” (Eccl. 7:9).  “A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them” (Prov. 15:18). “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness” (Prov. 14:29).

Anger and Danger go hand-in-hand!

Stewardship

When you say the word stewardship, many people think immediately of money.  Stewardship is not money.  Stewardship is looking after, managing with accountability, and being a good steward of all that God has entrusted to us.  That includes our health, our time, our talents, our financial resources, our bodies, our environment, etc.

It is important for us to be good stewards of all of these.  Let me focus just on our money.  I wish our government offered us better leadership in how to handle our money as a good steward.

It was recently reported that our Department of Defense spent nearly $43 million of taxpayers’ money building a single gas station in Afghanistan.  Some experts have suggested that is about 140 times more than it should have cost.  While there are a lot of extra security costs, that looks to be a poor job of taking care of our money.

The Social Security Administration has been under a lot of discussion in recent months.  This government agency needs to do a better job of taking care of our veterans.  It also could do a better job of how it spends its money.

It was recently reported that the Social Security Administration spent three times more money than it collected while trying to recover accidental overpayments.

A report of the Inspector General found that between 2008 and 2013 the SSA spent $323 million in an effort to recoup $128 million in overpayments.  They actually recovered only $109 million.  I am not very good at math but that is over a $200 million deficit!

The first thing to do is to stop making overpayments.  The second thing is determine whether it is worth spending three times as much trying to collect those overpayments.  Good fiscal stewardship could be practiced.

It is easy to criticize the government and the way it handles money.  We all need to do a better job of being good stewards of what is entrusted to us in our businesses, churches and non-profits.  For that reason the John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries elected to join ECFA – Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.  This is one of the most stringent financial accountability systems available.  It was started by Billy Graham years ago.

When I was pastor at Frazer and some non-profit group came asking for money, our first question was whether they were a member of ECFA.  If they were not a member, we were very reluctant to proceed with the request because of the accountability issue.  If they were members of ECFA, that was the first and biggest hurdle for that ministry to receive financial support.  It helps to be accountable.

We all need to be more accountable in the way we handle our finances individually.  There are a lot of excellent programs available.  Years ago one of the pioneers looking at the Biblical way to handle finances was Larry Burkett.  We used his literature and tried to follow his guidelines as a church.  Through his leadership we became debt free as a church.  Some good teachers on financial accountability are Ron Blue and Dave Ramsey.

Stewardship is about life.  It is about managing Biblically everything that God has given us.  Read Matthew 21:33-46.

Life Is Lived for a Purpose

There is a YouTube video that has been viewed 1.1 billion times in the last year.  It is referred to as “Unboxing.”  I am told it depicts people (or just their hands) taking products out of their packaging and examining them in obsessive detail.

Doesn’t that sound exciting – viewing hands taking objects out of boxes and examining them?

These videos are most popular with very small children.  It didn’t take long for toy makers to create lucrative sponsorships for some of these videos.  They are also offering free products for the most popular unboxing practitioners.

People today must be terribly deficient in finding ways to spend time purposefully.  Simply watching hands taking products out of a package appears to be extremely boring.  A Harvard scholar, Harlow Shipley, made up a list of “possible causes of the destruction of civilization.”  His list included nuclear war, natural catastrophe, and widespread disease.  Ranked third on his list was boredom.

In January, British movie censors had to sit through a ten-hour film that was made to protest the UK’s rating laws.  The film consisted of a single shot of white paint drying on a wall.  They had to watch it for ten hours.  It finally got a rating of “Suitable for viewers age four and over.”

Watching paint dry on a wall – isn’t that an exciting life?   I don’t know if it is ahead or behind watching hands uncrate a product.

One of the things that the Christian faith does is it gives purpose to life.  God told the people of Israel, “But I have spared you for a purpose—to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth” (Ex. 9:16 NLT).  It gives meaning.  There is a reason we are alive today and a reason we have time.  It is not to watch paint dry or watch hands unpack a product, but it is to do something useful with our lives.  Warren Buffett said, “The most successful people in the world have learned to say ‘No’ to the things that pull them from their purpose.”

For many people, life is nothing more than a merry-go-round of meaningless activity.  If we become caught up in just going through the motions of getting up, walking through the day, going to bed at night – if there is not meaning attached, are we really alive?  If we have to take something to help us go to sleep at night, then something to help us get started in the morning, then we are becoming dependent on an artificial way of looking at life.  Jesus designed it to be different.  Paul wrote, “So I run with purpose in every step.  I am not just shadowboxing” (I Cor. 9:26 NLT).

I once saw a picture of a sign on the front door of a store which read “Gone out of business – we didn’t know what our business was.”  A business will fail if its leaders don’t know what its business is.  Life is wasted if it doesn’t engage in the purpose for which it was created.  It’s time to get down to business!

Jesus said “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10 NLT).  Every day is a gift from God.  Every day God puts something in front of us that He wants us to accomplish.  The greatest joy in life comes when we fulfill God’s purpose. (Tweet this)

Help with Obeying

The Old Testament is a record of how God dealt with a group of people whom He blessed richly, but had a tendency to disobey Him.  This always led to their getting into trouble.  It all started in the Garden of Eden when the perfect plan was laid out for Adam and Eve, but they could not obey.

One of the problems of healthcare today is that people don’t obey their doctor in taking their medicine.  This especially occurs with people when they get older.  There is now help in this area.  Stephanie Lee from Silicon Valley’s Proteus Digital Health is making a “smart pill” to help people obey their doctor.

This “smart pill” wirelessly alerts an app after it has been swallowed.  The pill uses digestive sensors made from copper and magnesium that react with stomach acid “to send a tiny electrical signal.”  This signal is picked up by a Bandaid-like patch worn on the skin.  That patch alerts the Proteus app and sends reminders to the patient and the doctor if a medication dose is missed.

It seems there has always been a long-standing medical problem with knowing whether or not patients actually take their medication.  It has been estimated that missed medication causes about 125,000 deaths annually in the United States.  This pill can be a big help.

What we need is a “spiritual smart pill” that we take every day which will alert us to the need of obeying what God has commanded for us.  We do have an internal conscience which goes off when we fail to obey.  The problem is our conscience can become dulled.

Throughout my ministry, I have carried a little cross in my pocket to remind me who I am and Whose I am.  Several times during the day, I touch that cross, and it sends shock waves to my mind and my body of what its meaning is.  I also carry an Armor of God coin reminding me to wear the spiritual armor God provides.  I don’t plan to swallow that little cross or coin, but carrying them in my pocket can be extremely helpful.  These coins and crosses are available through our website.

Obeying God should be our first priority.  I read of a missionary in Africa who one day saw his young son about 20 feet away.  Right above the boy was the limb of a tree with a huge snake poised to strike the boy.  The boy didn’t see the snake.  His dad quickly commanded, “Hit the ground, Bill.” Immediately, the boy obeyed and hit the ground.  He told the boy to crawl to him, and he came to safety.  His obeying saved his life.

What if the little boy had responded with, “Why do I need to hit the ground? I’ll get my clothes messed up, or I might get hurt.”  He could have asked questions and made excuses – but instead he just obeyed.

The Great Physician has the prescription for any ailment we have, but a prescription that is not taken does no good.  Paul writes “For it is not merely knowing the law that brings God’s approval.  Those who obey the law will be declared right in God’s sight” (Rom 2:13).

Obedience is the key that unlocks the possibilities of what God can do in our lives.  It is not a pill to swallow, but it is an invitation for God’s Holy Spirit to guide and direct us.  The old Gospel hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”