Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 22 -- Vocal Polyps

February 22
Vocal Polyps
"If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.." -- Proverbs 25:16

"Rolling in the deep," "set fire to the rain," and other vague, perhaps symbolic phrases have become standard colloquialisms in the English language, thanks to singer-songwriter Adele.  The British star quickly sprung to fame in both the United Kingdom and United States, and she gained rapid popularity for her moody lyrics and edgy voice.  However, in November 2011, Billboard's Artist of the Year took a break from her singing career to undergo surgery on a hemorrhaging polyp on her vocal cords. 

Many singers, teachers, and telemarketers deal with vocal polyps each year, as this painful condition stems from overusing or straining the voice on a regular basis.  Popular singers like Adele are known for their loud, over-the-top singing, but they sometimes fail to realize that this extensive abuse can actually harm their vocal cords and prevent them from using their voices correctly in the future.  The problem does not lie in the fact that these people sing and speak; the problem occurs when these inherently healthy activities are carried to excess.

Solomon wrote about this issue in the book of Proverbs.  He said, "Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste" (Proverbs 24:13).  However, in the next chapter, he added this clarifying statement: "If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit" (Proverbs 25:16).  Solomon knew the importance of balance and moderation.  This virtue has an important place in every area of our lives.  Even good things must have their limits.  Our careers, relationships, and ministries honor God only when they allow us to serve Him first.  When we feel overwhelmed with the stress of all things to excess, we can remember Solomon's words -- and Adele's voice -- and re-balance our lives to more fully honor our God.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

January 29 -- Strep Throat

January 29
Strep Throat
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." -Romans 6:23

"She's contagious!"  my friends sang loudly into the phone.  "Olivia is contagious!"  My seven-your-old self felt devastated that I would miss our choir practice that night, but I had to obey the doctor's orders.  Strep throat meant NO socializing, NO singing, and NO happiness.  I was to stay indoors and drink thick pink liquid twice a day until the pain in my throat subsided.

Normally, I don't go to the doctor's office for something as minor as a sore throat or stuffy nose, but strep throat is a different story.  Besides the obvious sore-throat symptom, strep throat brings about fever, coughing, headache, and chills.  And it won't necessarily go away on its own!  Unlike the common cold, strep throat should immediately be treated with antibiotics to prevent against the possibility of rheumatic fever and other serious conditions.  Something that starts as small as a scratchy throat can sadly lead to serious illness and even death.

Sin often begins with just a small thought or attitude, but like strep throat, it must be treated immediately.  Jealousy, pride, or greediness can quickly contaminate our actions and our habits, and the Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death.  We must ask God to treat our seemingly small attitude maladjustments before they lead us down a dangerous path.  No thick pink liquid necessary!  Simply call on Him today.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January 8 -- Pink Eye

January 8
Pink Eye
"Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." Proverbs 13:20

The Sochi Olympics of 2014 provided Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with a wide array of jokes and sneering comments.  Athletes poked fun at their hotel accommodations, criticizing their half-built rooms and non-potable water.  Photographs flooded the internet with images of dangling internet wires, side-by-side toilets, and other situations deemed inconvenient to the many athletes, reporters, and guests who bombarded the city for the Olympic games.  One of the most popularly mocked #sochifails, however, revolved around Bob Costas, an NBC reporter who contracted pink eye while covering the Olympic events.  By the time his infamous left eye healed, it had its own Twitter account, was a trending topic, and starred in countless memes that still circulate the internet today.  

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, may have received gloriously catastrophic attention in the media last year, but in reality this malady is blandly common.  The infection often stems from the same bacteria that cause the common cold, and redness and itchiness easily rank as its worst side effects.  Pink eye has no lasting effects on one's vision, but because of its annoyances, discomfort, and occasional pain, most people wish to avoid it at all costs.  This proves difficult, however, as pink eye is ravenously contagious.  Those with pink eye often rub their itching eyes, spreading the bacteria to their hands and everything they touch.  If someone nearby comes in contact with the germs, the epidemic can quickly spread.

Pink eye and character share this quality.  Both are contagious and can spread unintentionally.  Solomon said in Proverbs that "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm," and Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that “Bad company ruins good morals.” Pink-eye victims, out of courtesy, usually stay home while afflicted, but bitter people with negative influences always show up.  We must somehow determine which attitudes we will allow close to our hearts.  Most of us can't avoid hostile people altogether, but we can choose to have close friends with positive spirits and uplifting attitudes.  Criticizing, gossiping friends may encourage bad behavior, but companions who continually look to God for peace and joy will often lead us to do the same.  If we find friends who will spread the right kind of influence, we can have an attitude we will be proud to call contagious.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

January 1 -- Ingrown Toenail

January 1, 2015
Ingrown Toenail
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."  Romans 12:2

A couple of years ago, celebrity Mark Wahlberg confessed a secret while on national television:  he announced that he had recently suffered from a serious case of in-grown toenail.   Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres did the honors of inspecting his bloody but bandaged toe, and this quirky but common malady was brought into the limelight once again. 

Many teens and adults suffer from in-grown toenails, a condition that occurs when the corner of a toenail grows into the soft skin surrounding the nail.  The intruding nail causes intense pain as the toe swells and reddens, and the only way to alleviate the condition involves chopping off the obtrusive nail.  Depending on how far the nail has grown into the toe, surgery may be required to remove the nail.

If the world were toes, Christians would be the toenails.  As Christians, we are called to live alongside our fellow citizens, just as a toenail rests upon its toe.  Christians can't -- and shouldn't -- avoid the world anymore than a toenail should fall from its toe, but we must be careful not to get too cozy with worldly influences.  When we care more about how we fit in with recent trends or how we can keep up with the popular crowd, we have become "in-grown."  Instead of attaching ourselves to the materialism  of the world, we should instead keep a healthy detachment as we serve the world through love.  The toenail's purpose is to protect the toe, after all.  We too can do our part to share the message of God's grace -- the only thing that can save the world.

The Hypochondriac's Devotional, January 1 -- Ingrown Toenail