Thursday, November 27, 2014

'Tis the Season...to Be Thankful!


Does it ever bother you how Christmas seems to start a little earlier ever year?

I know I fall into that camp.

Seriously…it’s like our culture is allergic to Thanksgiving.
Fall arrives…and it’s Halloween for two months. Halloween ends…and it’s Christmas for two months.
Yet, lost in between…within the crazy carousel of “to do” lists, peppy parties and shopping sessions is the most underrated holiday of the year…
 … (*turkey drumstick roll please*)…Thanksgiving.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love me a cup of Yuletide bliss. I’m not trying to undercut the most wonderful season of all.
It’s just that I balk at the idea of jumping on the premature Christmas celebration bandwagon.
And note: for those who don’t know, yes, I do consider pre-Thanksgiving Christmas celebration to be premature.
I mean…think about it. Our American calendar is not friendly to ‘Turkey Day’ at all.
Not only is it sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, but every year, you have Black Friday encroaching on its territory. In fact, one might as well call Thanksgiving, ‘Black Friday Eve’, just because our culture is more consumed with ‘getting stuff’ than not ‘for-getting’ the very things that make it possible in the first place.
But I guess…in the end, it’s less about the timeline and more about what’s overlooked.
Cause I’ll be honest. I think it’s all too easy to miss out on the true spirit of Thanksgiving…what the day stands for…and its place as the front door to worship…
…whether it’s the inundation of consumerism or the white noise of masses trying to convince others they’re worth buying into… no matter how you slice it, there’s just so much competing for our attention this time of year.
It’s almost as if our culture exalts gratitude as a secondary priority…along with the notion that if there is any “relevance”, it’s because we somehow earned the “right” to appreciate the attitude.
But only if we’d be willing to celebrate the life we’ve been given*…imagine how the world around us would change.
If we just took more time to reflect on the privilege of being alive…of being created…of having a unique purpose…and having the opportunity to live it well…
…that’s ultimately what Thanksgiving is all about!
And sure, I know we should be thankful every day of the year. It’s not like Thanksgiving is the only day we can demonstrate gratitude.
But that doesn’t mean we downplay the day as a fun, little extra that primarily serves to jumpstart Christmas.
‘Cause truth is: Thanksgiving is not Christmas’ footstool.
It’s not a holiday filler to get us through the dog days of fall.
And it’s certainly more than a day to [solely] rejoice in what we have.
For if we truly dig deep into the stuffing of Thanksgiving, we find its first and foremostly a day to celebrate who we are.
For what we have is a byproduct of not only who we are, but who we reflect. And hear me, I’m not saying it’s meaningless to be grateful for achievements and milestones; however, if we limit expressions of thanksgiving to just the people in our midst and the roof over our head, then we’re not quite hitting the bullseye of why we celebrate what we celebrate.
Thus, I contend the best way to be thankful is to applaud God…to bring a gift of laughter…of joy…and lay it at His feet. You may not be musically inclined, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sing yourself into his presence (Psalm 100:1-2,MSG).
Because what matters most…is knowing God is God, and God, God. He made us. We’re His people…the well-tended sheep of an all-generous Shepherd with the blessed opportunity to enter His gates with thanksgiving (v. 3-4, MSG).
How flippin’ awesome is that?
So I guess…upon further review, maybe it’s not such a bad thing that Thanksgiving comes one month before Christmas.
‘Cause bottom line: The heart of Thanksgiving is the gateway to embracing the reason why we’re here…in understanding why God would send His only son to take on flesh and die for us.
In other words, Thanksgiving positions us to know the real reason for the season**…and calibrates our entrance into the year’s most joyful month.
I don’t know about you…but I’m super grateful to rest secure in that fact.
And on that note, I bid a fond Thanksgiving/Thanksliving farewell to you and yours.



Be blessed in all you say and do,

~ Cameron
Footnotes:
*as opposed to saying “life we have
** i.e. the Christmas season
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Friday, November 14, 2014

A Brewed Awakening

We’ve all been there before.
  • The crave for caffeinated fulfillment…
  • The mid-afternoon coffee rush…
  • The anticipation of one cup of steeped goodness igniting the day’s doldrums…
When you think about it…it’s pretty amazing how a single coffeeshop stop…and a demitasse of brewed bliss with its steamed satisfaction…can seem to alter the day’s course.

Granted, not every pitstop can afford to be so rewarding.

Take yesterday, for example, when me and some TDOT colleagues moseyed down to a local Starbucks to take advantage of a ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ holiday drink special.

As we approached the main entrance, we noticed  the coffeeshop was highly congested with a line nearly extending out the door into the brutal cold.

Thankfully, having purchased coffee at the store before, and seeing how the line progression worked, I was able to educate my group in navigating the shop’s awkward floor plan. Essentially, to keep upcoming guests from waiting out in the cold, we decided to walk through a second entrance (a signature mark of a downtown corner Starbucks) and wait at a point in the store where the line should have been.

Yet, despite what may have appeared as an anomalous maneuver, under no condition were we trying to cut our way ahead in line. We were simply trying to stay ahead of the curve (pun intended) and recalibrate the line to honor future guests.

Unfortunately, our move was severely misinterpreted by a pack of…well, let’s just call them an older, alterative version of “mean girls”.   

PshWe were here first,” cried the alpha.

Yeah, we were definitely here before you guys,” said another.

Oh, yeah. I know. It’s just the line usually starts back here in the mornings,” I replied. “I wasn’t…”

“Well, it starts right here today! So…move aside.”

I was stunned…
…crossed between my inner Madea and my external suavity.

 

Seriously, I was thinkin': those chicks are gonna brew the day.

I mean…goodness gracious…you talk about brazen barking and a nasty, condescending attitude, completely contraire to an otherwise serene ambience…let me tell ya, they were settin’ the bar high.

After taking a few more snarky pelts, I decided to leave the premises before I was tempted to give them a generous piece of my mind (which may or may not have been partially inspired by this iconic scene from Disney's Brink).

After all, it’s not like I was the one running on an assumption and using it to falsely accuse a complete stranger as if his moral character could be so easily appraised.

But though my intent had been brutally misjudged, even though a gesture intended for kindness had been falsely interpreted, I realized there was only one thing to do…
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Yes, that's right.

I had to shake it off.

No way around it.

Even as one far removed from the Taylor Swift bandwagon, I recognized some powerful truth when applying the lyrics to the situation.

‘Cause truth is: Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate.

They might even berate, berate, berate…

But under no condition, does this mean we have to deflate, deflate, deflate (i.e. internalize unjust criticism)

Instead, in those moments, we just gotta shake, shake, shake…shake it off! Shake it off!

 How freakin’ awesome is that?

We can’t control the liars and cheats of the world…we can’t prevent others from misjudging us from time to time…

…but what we can do is turn the other cheek in a way that says, my dignity, my value is found in Christ. I don’t need to retaliate or prove my innocence, when my heart is perfectly known by my Creator. Besides, respect from men doesn’t validate my identity, my call or my will. Thus, I don’t need to exert power to prove a point, but rather rest in the soothing lounge chair that is God’s heart…with my holiday expresso in hand.

‘Cause if we truly trust God, then we’ll give Him the honor of dealing with those who persecute, violate and disrespect us for His sake. In other words, we don’t have to steal God’s thunder by striking back in the same spirit when we trust that He will ultimately confront everyone’s humanity. This is why, when we zoom out and think big picture, we should rejoice when God convicts and disciplines us, as opposed to the blind man who has no clue of his ways.

Going back to Taylor Swift, I have no idea whether or not she had Matthew 5:39 when she wrote her acclaimed hit. Regardless, the provoked takeaway is: Don’t underestimate the value of the left cheek. It will ultimately keep your hands free so you can not only hold on to your coffee…but give someone else a cup of the life you have inside you.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Love by Association

Recently, I was reading in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, discussing the passage with LEGACYouth, when a coupled things jumped out at me.

When Paul says in v. 11: "I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one"...it can be easy to misinterpret or misapply this passage. 

Paul isn't saying 'wall up' against those who are backsliding or lost. He isn't saying ignore or cut off all ties with those who are struggling in their faith/to live righteously. On the contrary, he is saying don't associate...don't join in with the decisions they're making...with the lies they're buying into. Again, we have to remember to filter our interpretation of Scripture through the lens of Ephesians 6:12, in the sense what we wrestle with is principalities and powers of darkness, not flesh and blood. When we remember the real war is not with man, then we should find greater strength to show compassion for the unbeliever, while speaking the truth in love to those who do believe.

In essence, this is what Paul is getting at.

We can love the person without loving their choices.

In other words, we can love unconditionally without tolerating or associating our lifestyle with those mired in pride or self-centered forms of gratification.



Thus, we can eat a meal with our lost friend without the shame...'cause when we examine the ministry of Christ at large, we find Jesus living this out in full. Time after time, he intentionally went out of his way to pursue the idolater, reviler, drunkard, adulterer and swindler, knowing they needed the light of his love the most. Yet, with his disciples and close followers, who already believed in him and were consistently exposed to his light, Jesus spoke firmly and honestly (i.e. "Oh, you, of little faith", "Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things", etc). In other words, they already had the hope, they just needed the correction. 
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Note how Jesus addresses both crowds in the clip below:


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So whether we're looking to communicate hope (demonstrating love through compassion) or direction (speaking the truth in love), the point is we need to be intentionally loving in the process, without putting ourselves in any compromising situation.

And I believe if we aim to live both of these charges out, we'll be more effective in being like Christ and reaching others in a transformational way.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Flash Weather: Get Ready for Frozen Turkeys

When it comes to long-term weather forecasting,  as I've said before to quote the great James Spann: "There's simply no skill in pinning down details past seven days."

In other words, while it takes specialized training to know how to dicpher real-time computer model data, when the conversation changes to, "Will we see snow on Christmas Day this year?", it's really anyone's guess.

Thus, I completely understand if one considers long-term forecast specialists to be professionals in "crap shooting". After all, the weather can seem to have a mind of its own.

However, as the clock has turned into November, there's been considerable buzz surrounding the weather pattern for Thanksgiving week...which is only fair as it's one of the most traveled weeks of the entire year.

And though I remain fairly conservative in posting any resemblance of a forecast 2-3 weeks out, I have to admit, I'm pretty impressed with model consistency regarding weather happenings in the 18-25 day time frame.

Seriously, I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

'Cause bottom line: I can't remember the last time there was so much model agreement on an large-impact event over 14 days out. Regardless if this event is currently overhyped (or even downplayed), it's pretty incredible what's going on in the weather world right now.

With that said, let me just cut straight to the point: If you live in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., we're headed for a pretty cold month...at least by November's standards. No, this isn't going to be like January, when the polar vortex trended almost the entire month; however, we could see several days with January-like temperatures.

Thus, in terms of negative temperature anomalies, I wouldn't be surprised if we a) end November around five degrees below-average and b) experience the coldest November since...(*gulp*)...1976.

Now, I won't go into any detail on the epic winter of 1976-77; however, I have heard several credible sources remark on how that winter is showing up as a top analog year for the upcoming winter. For those who are unfamiliar, when I say 'analog year', this simply means a featured year from the past that best resembles the current year, taking into consideration the state of current teleconnections (the ENSO, PDO, QBO, PNA, AO, NAO, etc.). So when a meteorologist says the atmospheric stage for winter 2014-15 is most comparable to 1976-77, this should be music to any snow lover's ears.

But enough bambling about.

For the remainder of this blog, I'm going to harp on three reasons why this month is going to be cold and why we should keep a close eye on Thanksgiving week.

1) The Arctic Oscillation

Check out the AO forecast chart to the right...and note how the AO starts to tank in just a couple of days. Pretty remarkable how amplified the AO outlook looks right now. For all you weather geeks reading this, you may notice how a similar drop occurred one month ago in early October...and how it helps ignite a stretch of below-normal temperatures and our first frost of the season. Being we're one month closer to the start of meteorological winter, it's fair to wonder how low the temps will go next week...and if they will be tolerable for wintry precip.

Now, some of you may be wondering: What does a falling AO mean? Fair question. Basically, a falling AO, especially once it drops into negative territory, means higher pressures set up in the polar regions, in turn, promoting weaker zonal winds and polar, continental air to dive southeastward from Canada into the eastern third of the conus. This is a) why a negative AO is virtually synonymous with colder-than-normal temperatures for this part of the country and b) why the GFS's depiction of the AO's behavior for the next week has caught many meteorologists' attention.


What's triggering such a drastic plunge? We'll get to that in just a moment.

But first, I want to provide a little visual refresher concerning the difference between a +AO and a -AO. Check out the graphics below. When it comes to comparisons, the key is where the ridging and troughing axises set up (which is influenced by lower pressures setting up at high latitudes and higher pressures setting up at mid latitudes).

With a +AO, the dominant players are the Aleutian and North Atlantic polar vortexes, which combine to maintain a strong, fast moving jet stream around the Canadian/US border. In essence, this becomes the dividing line between polar air locked up to the north and the mild, Pacific air caught up in a zonal flow to the south. Note how the jet stream is oriented west to east, with little amplification. This is a trademark of a +AO. See how all the cold air is confined to the arctic circle? This is why the majority of the U.S. experiences warmer-than-normal temperature whenever a +AO is established.

However, with a -AO, the pattern is practically reversed, where the polar jet is much weaker and more susceptible to blocking patterns, such as the Greenland Block and the East Pacific Ridge. With lower pressures at mid-latitudes and higher pressures at high-latitudes, the Aleutian polar vortex is displaced further west, while the North Atlantic polar vortex becomes a non-factor. This allows the Hudson Bay polar vortex to take center stage and deliver much colder air further south. In extreme cases, a cross polar flow can establish itself through the 'Siberian Express' and deliver record-breaking or record-threatening arctic outbreaks. This is essentially what happened back in January.

2) Typhoon Nuri, The Bering Sea Rule & The Lezak Recurring Cycle

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon_Nuri_(2014)Typhoon Nuri - According to NOAA officials, forecasters are watching the development of what could be the strongest Bering Sea storm on record. Despite recent weakening, not only does the storm maintain strength equivalent to a category 4 hurricane, but will likely "bomb out" and encounter a period of rapid intensification. In fact, this past Monday night, the European model was forecasting the extratropical cyclone's barometric pressure to plummet down to a record-shattering low of 916 mb on Saturday morning, while other models, like the GFS-parallel, show an even stronger storm setting up at 914 mb (Note: These graphics below denote two things: 1) the geopotential height values in color and the mean sea level pressure (MSLP) values with the black pressure contours).

Folks, if this forecast verifies, this will easily break the all-time Bering Sea record of 927 mb set at Dutch Harbor in 1977. But while the ECMWF ensembles (a collected average of 52 members) forecasts the storm to be a little less strong at 938 mb, the main takeway for those thousands of miles away is that the most accruate forecast models in the world all show this very powerful cyclone merging with other atmospheric teleconnections to produce a series of arctic outbreaks across the central and eastern U.S. the next 2-3 weeks.
And just for perspective, check out the ECMWF MSLP Anomaly graphic to the right. See that giant black spot west of Alaska? That's the monster storm we're talking about. Note how much deeper the pressure is compared to other low pressure systems in the vincinity. There's really no comparison.

For those who read my 2014-15 Winter Weather Prediction piece, you'll remember how inferences on long-term weather outcomes can be determined by assessing the state of Pacific Ocean temperature anomalies at various locations. When we talk about low pressure events, this translates into colder, stormier conditions, while the opposite can be said about high pressure events. So even though we're talking about a more immediate scenario, the atmospheric principles still apply.

The Bering Sea Rule The Bering Sea Rule, a term that became popular when Joe Bastardi was still working at AccuWeather, takes the occurrence of high and low pressure systems in the Bering Sea and extrapolates their re-occurence over the US 2-3 weeks later. Thus, if a typhoon recurves north and east as it approaches Japan, say...by means of a strong cold front, the weather in the eastern US is often teleconnected to the event a couple weeks out.

This is why it makes sense to monitor what happens with Typhoon Nuri. If we take the storm in the image above (valid on 11/8) and apply 2-3 weeks to it, we can see how there could a significant storm in the November 23-29 time frame. Talk about crazy timing, IF the BSR happens to verify in this case.

The Lezak Reocurring Cycle - According to the theory developed by Gary Lezak in the late 1980's, the Lezak's Reocurring Cycle refers to the unique weather pattern that sets up between October 1st and November 10th every autumn. During this time, "long term" longwave troughs and ridges become established over the northern hemisphere, marking the weather pattern in a way in which it repeats itself every 45-60 days until it slowly weakens and falls apart in the summer.

3) Sudden Stratospheric Warming - When we talk about a SSW event, it means we're talking about temperature anomaly behavior at the 10 millibar level (almost 20,000 meters up). According to this animation from CPC, last month featured a very early stratospheric warming event expanding across Eurasia and the North Pacific. Like the Bering Sea Rule, there's a rough time period between pattern emergence and encountered effects. In this case, when we find evidence of a SSW, especially on the other side of the globe, it takes roughly 2-4 weeks for this to translate into a colder pattern in our neck of the woods. Essentially, what a SSW does is weaken the polar vortexes enough to the point they become more mobile and displace further south towards to the U.S., thus, reinforcing lows setting up at the low-lattitudes. As mentioned above, this correlates to a -AO, which is necessary if the mid-south/southeastern quadrant of the U.S. are to have a decent shot at seeing any snow. So overall, we can see how the duo of Typhoon Nuri and the ongoing SSW is going to radically shape the AO (and NAO) pattern for the rest of the month.



Conclusions

Perhaps you've scrolled down straight to this section just to get all the juicy details without the mumbo-jumbo. Well, when we combine all three of the forementioned ingredients together (Typhoon Nuri, the current SSW and the state of the AO), it translates into the increased likelihood of a blocky, cold pattern establishing itself pretty much everywhere east of the Continental Divide for the next few weeks. Thus, it's no wonder why the Climate Prediction Center is so confident with how the weather will fare in the medium and long-range. How about a 80% chance of middle Tennessee seeing colder temperatures in the 6-10 day time frame for starters? If you check your weather apps, you'll see how highs in the low 40's/upper 30's start to pop up next Wednesday. But this is only the beginning! What happens next week will, for the most part, stick around for the majority of the month. Could middle Tennessee see some early snow like we did last year? It's becoming more of a possibility, though climatology says: Don't get your hopes up too soon.


While the map above assesses the probabilities of temperature anomalie beheavior, the ECMWF map (valid through 11/13) below accounts for the actual temperature anomalies at 850 mb (or ~5,000 feet) in ยบC. So if this map is correct, mean temperature values for the next week should be ~10-11ยบ F below normal.


Believe it or not, the CFS ensembles suggest the colder air will likely continue into early December! By the look of the map below, you can see how temperatures way out in the 25-35 day time frame run 5-7 degrees below normal. So essentially, this cold pattern will not be a transient one. Such a notion lines up well with the -AO and the SSW/Bering Sea storm combo platter. 


So keep the winter coats handy...and stay tuned for a wild ride of weather as we approach the holiday season. As always, I will keep you posted & ahead of the storm...

~ Cameron

Sources
  • The Weather Centre
  • The Weather Prediction
  • The Washington Post
  • Kentucky Weather Center
  • Climate Prediction Center
  • Tropical Tidbits

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Silent Gospel - 5 Things the Bible Doesn't Talk About

Gambling

One of the most opaque 21st century ethical topics not explicitly addressed in the Bible is gambling.

Clearly, most people gamble in hope to cash in on 'Lady Luck', as well as a completely different life with less work and more fun; however, although the Bible doesn’t directly mention "gambling", this doesn’t mean the activity is sinless. In fact, by that philosophy, issues like pornography and illegal drugs would be considered tolerable, when in reality, both violate God's laws.

When we look at God's Word, we find what our attitude should be with respect to money and work:

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” ~ Ecclesiastes 5:10

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." ~ Luke 16:13

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:10

Essentially, what these Scriptures tell us is that gambling contrasts the call to persevere, to be faithful, to work hard…and earn a healthy living. As it states in 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12: “For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”
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Masturbation

Like gambling, the Bible doesn't mention masturbation verbatim; however, it does have plenty to say about the heart and spirit behind the activity and how it contrasts God's best intention.

The challenging question regarding the issue is if the physical act can be detached from lust. Even if one is unsure if masturbation is acceptable or not, we can know lust to be an egregious sin based on what the Bible proclaims:

"But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." ~ Matthew 5:28

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." ~ Galatians 5:16

"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body." ~ 1 Corinthians 6:18

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God." ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

If one wants to know if it's possible to disconnect masturbation from lust, then understanding what constitutes "desires of the flesh" is important. Ultimately, by asking, Does masturbation qualify as "desires of the flesh", we find the answer to be "Yes", since masturbation is an applied action to an established sin, whether impurity, lust, idolatry and/or fear. In other words, one cannot masturbate and separate it from some type of spiritual stronghold. Truth is: masturbation is an indiciation of unrepented sin, regardless of one's moral awareness with respect to the issue.

Thus, if one is wrestling with the habit, a key question to ask is: Am I depending on God to meet not only my spiritual needs, but also my emotional and physical needs? At the end of the day, am I trusting God to satisfy the desires of my heart?

'Cause once we realize masturbation is a forced means to independence from God and a temporary, self-centered solution to an everlasting call to live purely, only then will find the breakthrough to overcome.

As it says in Romans 6:11-14: "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace"...

...and 2 Timothy 2:22: "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."
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Smoking

Many place smoking on the same level of alcoholism, given the Bible is ambiguous with regards to smoking (which is no surprise considering smoking wasn’t an issue at the time the Bible was written). But while I've heard both sides of the argument concerning if legal drugs is a sin or not, my belief is smoking is a sin if it’s being used to medicate.

Far too often, smoking, like alcoholism, develops into an uncontrollable addiction and a means for emotional dependence; however, unlike modest alcohol consumption, smoking is not considered a celebratorial action. As the Bible says about alcohol, consumption centered on celebration in an accountable social environment (see Psalm 104:14-15 and Amos 9:14) can reap positive consequences.

Yet, unlike appropriate alcohol consumption, smoking is often more of an individualistic activity. Thus, it can be difficult for the smoker to smoke in a way that is detached from a desire to be satisfied. On a spiritual level, the issue is comparable to masturbation in the sense smoking is a choice that does not honor the body as a “temple of the Holy Spirit” as outlined in 1 Corinthians 3:17 and1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Ultimately, the sinfulness of smoking boils down to where the heart is and what the motive is. Although the Bible may appear to be silent on the matter, common sense and Spirit-led decision-making can deduce the act to be unholy, as it does not glorify God in and through the body. Furthermore, it could be said that smoking is one of several acts that conflict with a desire to worship God.
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Embyronic Stem Cell Research/Study

One of the modern-day issues not covered in the Bible due to its historic placement is embryonic stem cell harvesting and research. Unlike abortion, a case where the principles surrounding the act should be fairly clear, embryonic stem cell therapy is a hazier topic; however, when we look at the life of Jesus, we find a major feature of ministry to be His healing power (Matthew 4:23-24). And it’s the healing benefits of embryonic stem cell therapy that often warm up proponents to accept it is as legal and efficient. But the real question is: Is it right…and does embryonic stem cell therapy line up with God’s will?

When we consider embryonic stem cells are derived from human embryos and that in order to harvest them, an embryo must be destroyed, we can immediately know it conflicts with the Biblical teaching that human existence begins at conception (Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:45).

Thus, when look at the ethical question of, ‘Is stem cell therapy God’s will?’ it’s clear to see how it’s a flawed practice, since there’s no Scriptural evidence that advocates the killing of humans for medical advantages. However, when it comes to research on adult stem cells, this does not require the loss of human life, thus, qualifying as a sinless act. Especially if the research is geared towards finding alternate solutions that do not involve the destruction of embryonic stem cells, then I believe the study falls even more so within the will of God.*
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Sabbath Work [...in the 21st century]

One of the toughest questions, especially among young retail, restaurant or entrepreneur workers, is: Is it okay to work on the Sabbath day? Granted, for many, our work schedules aren’t something we can control. Yet, to answer the question righteously, one must probe God’s intent for the Sabbath itself. When we look at Mark 2:23-28, we find Jesus emphasizing an important truth: the Sabbath is intended for us to set time aside to reflect on what is holy, our relationship with God…and our family and friends. It’s about being intentional to thank the Lord for all he does for us.

In his ministry, Christ often combated the legalistic viewpoint of the Pharisees, who held a twisted view on what it meant to keep the Sabbath day holy. In fact, in Matthew 12:9-13, we find Jesus exposing the heart of the Pharisees, questioning their love of falsely accusing people. When Jesus brings up the lost sheep illustration, one can apply this to modern times through the lens of “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” It’s not about a bunch of religious rituals as compared to intentional rest and meditation. Even if a doctor has to treat an emergency patient on a Sunday afternoon doesn’t mean he is incapable of holy reflection. As it says in 1 Samuel 16:7, God cares more about the heart than external elements.

In conclusion, it is okay for one to work on Sunday; however, in order to keep the day holy, it’s important we find time either on the day or surrounding it to rest (i.e. not work) and to be engaged in family life, in church and community.
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At the end of the day, even though the Bible doesn't address each present day issue verbatim, all men can know the principles surrounding them. That's the beauty of the Scriptures. Although its authorship is confined to a specific historical context, the content speaks on how to navigate ethical and moral issues that far exceed the limitations of time (at least how we perceive it). Thus, we can know the ways of God when we seek to know His heart on the principles surrounding any issue we contend with today.

* Paraphrased from http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-stem-cell-research.html

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