Getting a Handle on Germs, or Vice Versa.

Hand WashingWhen I was in my 20’s I laughed at people who used a paper towel to open the bathroom door.  Then I went to nursing school and took microbiology.  I don’t laugh anymore. Now I AM the one holding the paper towel.  I’m not germophobic, I just have a healthy respect for germs and the damage they can do.

Coming from a nurse, here is how you should wash your hands:

  1. Turn on the faucet and get your hands wet.
  2. Get some soap and rub it all over your hands for about 20 seconds, working up a lather. Make sure to get in between your fingers and under your nails. Here’s a tip: singing “Happy Birthday” twice is about 20 seconds.
  3. At this point, you will be tempted to reach out and turn off the water, because of your public school education where you learned that wasting water is akin to beating baby seals.  Don’t do it.  Consciously remove your hands from the water, and reach for the towel/paper towels/air dryer.  If the air dryer has a button, hit it with your elbow.
  4. After your hands are totally dry (sometimes it takes two cycles of the dryer), then you can use the paper towels to turn off the water. Voila! Your hands are clean!

This brings up a problem I’ve noticed in the last several years: the lack of paper towels in some bathrooms.  Now, am I anti-hand dryer?  No.  Actually I really like the Xlerator hand dryer by Excel.  If you’ve ever used one of those, it feels like the dryer is forcibly removing the water from your skin at Mach 2.

The problem exists when there are no paper towels, and the bathroom door opens IN.  That means you could have been immaculate, washed your hands like a surgeon scrubbing in, and dried them off completely with the blow dryer, but the instant you touch that door handle, your hands are as dirty as if you hadn’t even washed at all, assuming someone else didn’t wash (and we know this happens).

My local library is trying to be as hygienic as possible: You go in the bathroom and the toilet flushes itself.  The faucet and soap dispensers are both motion activated.  The hand dryer is also motion activated.  And then you look at the door handle.

Let me give you an illustration.  Let’s say Jim is the first person to use the bathroom that day.  Let’s say good ole Jim doesn’t wash his hands, and gets his germs all over the handle.  Let’s say 50 people use the bathroom after him.  Now how many of those people have clean hands?  Zero.

What is the answer? If businesses are really serious about hand hygiene, they need to either make the doors open OUT, or provide some kind of entryway that requires no door, but still ensures privacy.  Movie theaters do this.  For now, I guess I’ll just keep grabbing some toilet paper to open the door, and throwing it on the floor near the door.

EDIT:  Evidently hand dryers are bad too. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Maligned

For those of you who didn’t read my last post, go read it so you know what frame of mind I was in this weekend.

After the internet drama of the past few days, this morning I read the July 20th devotional in the devotional book I’ve been reading, “Strength For Today” by John MacArthur. Today’s devotional had a relevant passage, which was interesting, because it’s the passage for today’s date, not cherry-picked by me. I’m always amazed at how God gives me the message I need to hear exactly when I need to hear it.

Peter noted the reason for the world’s hostility to Christians when he wrote,

[Unbelievers] are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you” (1 Peter 4:4). Christians’ lives are a threat because they rebuke unbelievers’ sin and remind them of coming judgment.

Now I’m not making any claims about who is saved and who isn’t, but I find it interesting that this verse specifically addresses the issue of the attitude of unbelievers to sin. Reading the above verse in context, it says:

“…having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

 So the passage basically says that unbelievers won’t like it when you, as a believer point out their sin.  It also says that they will be held accountable for their sin, but not to me.  They will answer to God for their choices.

And so I say that the biblical thing for husbands to do is this: stop looking at other women.  Stop ogling bikini-clad babes and women wearing low-cut blouses.  If someone tells you that there’s nothing wrong with looking at a woman in a lustful way when she isn’t your wife, then you can know that these are the people Peter was talking about in I Peter 4:4.  They don’t understand why you don’t enjoy sin like they do, and they will mock you and “malign” you (which means to speak about someone in a spitefully critical manner). As someone who has recently experienced this, I can tell you that taking a stand for what is right is not always the popular choice. But it is the right choice.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blogs and Lust

This is a long one. Buckle up.

There is a blog I used to frequent. I share a similar sense of humor with the author of the blog. He is a conservative (like me), he has a family (like me), and he is a Star Wars geek (like me). He is only a blogger part time. He has a day job. His job is dangerous, and I have the utmost respect for him for doing it. In the past several  years I have exchanged a few emails with him. I wouldn’t say we were “friends” but we were friendly acquaintances, especially given the fact that we never actually met in real life.

The only problem was that his blog contains frequent pictures of half-naked women (wearing bikinis, in suggestive poses, etc). For simplicity, I’m going to refer to these from now on as “lust posts” since the obvious intent of showing these photos is to incite lust in the viewer. He used to post one of these photos every now and then (I don’t know, a few per month, maybe). When reading his blog, I would quickly scroll past these photos so that I wouldn’t have those women in my mind.

Several months ago it seemed to me that the ratio of lust posts to non-lust posts had increased to where it seemed about every third post was a lust post. I decided to stop reading his blog as a result.

Yesterday I clicked on the bookmark to his blog (which I hadn’t done in a while) to see if anything had changed. The very first picture had the word “Naked” in the title and had a picture of a woman (fully clothed). Not encouraging. So I scrolled back through his recent blog posts. Four out of the previous seven days had a lust post. I decided that I had had enough.

With any other blog, I would have simply deleted the bookmark and forgot about the blog. But I had some history with this guy. I had been reading his blog for several years. I had communicated with him personally. And so I sent him an e-mail letting him know my concern and my problem, and telling him why I was no longer reading his blog. This is what I said:

You used to do police stories, funny stories, news stories, entertainment stories (Star Wars, etc) with the occasional hot babe thrown in the mix. For the past several months, your blog has turned into a regular pinup collection. Seriously, go back and count how many pictures you posted a year ago, and look at one of the past few months and compare numbers. I don’t know how your wife feels about this, but it really irritates my wife, and I don’t need to be tempting myself with looking at women who aren’t my wife, and that’s why I haven’t been frequenting your blog.

You may call me a prude, a Puritan, or what have you, but Jesus Christ is my Lord, and He said in Matthew chapter 5 verses 27-29, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

That seems pretty clear to me that if I am going to be faithful to my wife, I need to not frequent places where nudity and partial nudity are prominently displayed. Unfortunately your blog is now one of those places. And so I have removed your blog from my bookmarked page. Please let me know if you ever decide to go back to your former habits of posting news and entertainment stories without posting half-naked photos along with them.

I thought I had made my case pretty clearly. I thought I had been respectful and polite. But today I looked at his blog one last time, and I found that he responded by turning my private email into a blog post, printing most of the letter and stating how angry my email made him, and how I said he was probably going to hell. For the record, I never said he was going to hell. What I said was that Jesus said adultery isn’t just PHYSICAL. Adultery is MENTAL. Adultery is VISUAL. And then Jesus says (basically) that if there’s something in your life that is encouraging you to sin (in this case, to commit visual adultery), you should get rid of it.

And he asked his readers (of whom I used to be one) what they thought. Here are their thoughts about me, and my response to them:

1. “I do feel the readers comments are a reflection of his marriage and the demons he may be fighting.”
“Seriously it sounds like this guy has other issues if he thinks reading a PG rated blog is adultery.”
“It sounds like he has issues in his life beyond your blog.”

Am I fighting demons? Yes. Do I have “other issues”? Yes. Actually these readers understood my e-mail as I intended it: not as a condemnation of the blogger, but as a statement that I have a problem with lust: a problem that every man I know struggles with.

2. “That couple needs to learn how to live life. They need to sleep in, have a little Woo-Hoo or a lot and then go have donuts for breakfast! Better yet have the donuts in bed.”

For the record, my wife and I are very happy in our marriage, and she was glad that I sent him that e-mail, because it showed her that she is important to me, and I am trying to be faithful to her, and the vow that I made the day we got married. Am I sinless? No, but I am forgiven, and I am trying to sin less.

In addition to these, three readers assumed I was struggling with secret homosexual thoughts about the occasional pictures of half-naked men. Let me just say this in response to that: no.

Let’s do an exercise in perspectives. Let’s say you eat at a restaurant once a week. You’ve eaten at this restaurant pretty much every week for several years. Now let’s say that the quality of the food starts to decline. The food doesn’t taste good anymore. You go away for a few months, and return, only to find that the food has gotten even worse. If you like the owner, do you simply walk away, never to return? I wouldn’t. I would say, “Hey, just to let you know, I used to come here all the time, but something happened, and I wanted to let you know why I’m not coming back. Please let me know if you ever fix the problem, because I value our relationship.”

Now let’s say you are the owner. You have a patron that eats at your restaurant weekly. But then he disappears for a few months. He returns finally, and he tells you the message above. As a business owner, should you get angry? If you can’t take constructive criticism about your restaurant, people will start disappearing, and you won’t ever know why. If I were that business owner, I would want to know why.

In conclusion, he was hurt by my e-mail, but instead of emailing me privately, he made it public. And so I am responding publicly. I am truly sorry that he was angered by my message. It was not my intent to offend him.
I will be praying for him, because I truly believe that lust is evil (according to the Bible), and by posting what he does he is encouraging others to lust. This is not a good place to be. I will miss reading his posts. But not as much as I will enjoy the absence of added temptation.

PS: For the record, all these people who think watching porn isn’t affecting their relationship with their wife are deluding themselves.  Here is one website that discusses the negative overall effects of porn.  Here is an article from the Journal of the American Medical Association detailing the effects of pornography on the brain (it shrinks the brain).  Turns out Jesus knows what he’s talking about. Makes sense, Him being God.

EDIT:  In attempting to afford him the same courtesy he afforded me by not naming me in his blog post, I had decided to keep the other blogger anonymous, but he has stated on his blog that he does not appreciate the fact that my blog post does NOT name him, and so I am now naming him, in keeping with his wishes.  He goes by “Wyatt” and his blog post about me can be found here.  Again, I have nothing but respect for Wyatt, I simply disagree regarding the issue of lust.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Nonverbal Communication

This is how messages are passed on, at the most basic level.

This is how messages are passed on, at the most basic level.

I have a problem. We all do, actually. The problem is that we read things and think we know exactly what the writer is saying. Sometimes we don’t. Here is a perfect example. Ray Bradbury wrote a book, intending to convey an idea: Television is dangerous. The students he was lecturing about this started arguing with him that the idea he was trying to convey was censorship. Let me restate that: He wrote a book with a message in mind, and the readers told him that he meant to say something else.

See, communication happens when one person sends a message (verbal, nonverbal, written, etc) and the other person receives that message. The person receiving the message has to pull out his mental “Secret Decoder Ring” and figure out what the other person is trying to communicate. This is a complicated process that I’m not going to cover in detail. Suffice it to say that person A sends a message, and person B has to decipher the message. Approximately 93% of communication is nonverbal. That means that when you are talking face to face with someone, you are able to receive 100% of their message (you might not receive it all, but the information is there). When you are reading something written down (like this blog, for instance), you are actually missing 93% of my message. That leaves a huge amount of information missing.

93% of the Gettysburg Address, “Four … on … dedicated. Now … whether … dedicated, … battle-field … portion … those … live. … do… dedicate … ground. … have … or … what … they … to … who … is … great … we … gave … highly … vain … of … people, … earth.”

This is a legitimate problem, because more and more in our information age, communication takes place by text. We text each other on our phones. We send instant messages. We post to Facebook. We tweet. We write and read blog posts and opinion pieces. The potential for miscommunication is staggering.

Case-in-point (identifying information removed): There’s a guy that I’m related to by marriage who has only ever talked to me on Facebook. We have seen each other in real life, but have never spoken. And we have had two conversations in the past four years. Both of them ended badly. I’d like to think I said nothing offensive, but I’m positive that he took offense at things I said, because he told me so. Last night was our second conversation, and he said, “Ah, Steve, you are so right. I just wish I could have the clarity you do”. I replied, “Was that sarcasm or are you serious?” And he said, “You really are as pompous as I thought! Just. Wow.”

Now was I assuming that he actually thought I was a much clearer thinker than he? Absolutely not. I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt by asking him if he really meant to be sarcastic/rude when we were trying to have a conversation. But he WAS being sarcastic, so he took offense at what I said.

Most people receive my message and assume the best. If I say something that could have more than one meaning, they assume I meant the one that was NOT offensive. This guy read everything I said to him and assumed I was being offensive, so to him I was.

I ended the conversation by stating, “I have never had anyone misunderstand my messages more than you do. Every interaction we have ever had has been on Facebook, even though we have seen each other in real life. Given the level of misunderstanding that we both have experienced, I am letting you know with this message that I will no longer respond to anything you say on Facebook: comments or private messages. This goes for your wife … as well. If either of you want to talk to me about something, it will have to be either face to face, or you are always welcome to call me directly. My phone number is … This is my final text message to you. May God bless you (and your family) in all that you do for Him.”

Because sometimes you just can’t talk to people online. Too much message is missing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Music Philosophy

I made a Facebook comment on an article a friend shared.  The article is here. My comments were twofold:  first of all I said “Christian Rock” is a contradiction in terms.  Secondly, I said that my music philosophy “is that worldly music styles are not to be used in worship, and some music styles are not to be enjoyed at all. Unfortunately, most of modern Christendom disagrees with me.  I’m in the Ron Hamilton/Frank Garlock camp, if that helps.”

One of my Facebook friends asked me to clarify my position, and I started typing an answer to her comment.  It grew.  It got so big that I thought, “This isn’t a comment, it’s a blog post.”   So here we are.  Nicole, here’s your answer:

It’s a complicated topic that Scripture doesn’t address directly because Rock music didn’t exist back then, but the guiding principles for how we should live our lives are there. From my perspective, music is NOT amoral. There is music that is uplifting, inspirational, and good, there is music that points our spirits to God, and there is music that facilitates a downward influence, causing us to act more like the world.

Because of this, I personally believe that you can’t pigeonhole all musicians into “good” or “bad” categories, but each piece of music must be individually judged. However, certain styles of music and musicians are so consistent in their worldliness and ungodly philosophies, that we don’t even need to consider them (I’m looking at you, Death Metal). For instance, there are country songs that I listen to that have good messages, aren’t syncopated, and are uplifting (Examples: “Skin”, “I Lost It”.) Then there are country songs that utilize blasphemous lyrics (using God’s name when they aren’t talking to Him or about Him), or songs that encourage or glorify behavior that is blatantly sinful (Examples: lust in Dierks Bently’s “What Was I Thinking?” and “Alcohol” by Brad Paisley.)

Now that just covers music in general (what you listen to in your car or at home). I was specifically addressing music used in the church worship service. I’m going to preface this by saying that I have friends who disagree with me (they use drums, guitars, etc in their churches). I respect these people and do not question their commitment to Christ, I simply disagree with their musical stand.

For worship, my philosophy is this: All aspects of the worship service should be held to a higher standard than your car or home. You are focusing on worshiping God and not on being entertained. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a modest swimsuit at the pool, but you would never wear it for a church service. This is just an example showing that certain things are appropriate for every day, but not for church. Look at it this way: if you received an invitation to the White House to meet the President, you wouldn’t wear flip-flops and a tube top, would you? You would want to look your best to show your respect for the audience of the President. Church to me is the same way: I believe personally that a Christian showing up on Sunday in cutoff jean shorts and a Budweiser t-shirt is not only inappropriate, but disrespectful to God.

This philosophy translates to my worship music philosophy: certain music is not “wrong” or “bad” for everyday use, but is inappropriate for worshiping God. Here’s a personal example: Back in February I visited a church where I have known the pastor for almost 20 years (he is actually one of my FB friends). I did not care for the music. Even if I didn’t mind “Christian Rock” music, I would not have enjoyed their “song service” because the praise band was singing in such a way as to make it hard to follow, most of the congregation was just mumbling along. Many people were simply standing and watching the musicians. I didn’t feel like I was participating in worship. Rather I felt like I was observing a musical “act”. When I contrast this with the music at my current church, the difference couldn’t be more obvious. We sing songs with lyrics that are rich with doctrine, uplifting melodies and harmonies. We use tempos for each song that match the theme of the song which allows a consistent tempo so that nobody has trouble following along.

Anyway, that’s my position. You are free to disagree with me since, as I said, this isn’t something I’m going to be dogmatic about, it’s simply what I believe to be true. As Paul says in Romans 14:5, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

For a more detailed answer, read this guy’s post.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Butter

ButterWe don’t bake with margarine anymore.  We use butter.  It really makes a difference.  Sure, it costs three times as much, but which would you rather: eat nastiness for $1 a pound or natural tasty goodness for $3 a pound?  If you figure out how many pounds of margarine you use per week (including spread), and then calculate the difference, it’s not that much.  In my family I think we use about 2-4 pounds a week (depending on baking, etc).  That means over the course of a month we are spending $24-48 on butter instead of $8-$16 on margarine.  The average month we are therefore spending $36 instead of $12. That’s $24 a month to be healthier AND enjoy our food more.

Health tip: go to your refrigerator, take all the margarine and throw it away.  Replace with butter.  It’s better for your and tastes better as well.  We used to use Country Crock.  Now we have a butter dish that sits on the counter with two sticks of butter in it at room temperature.  It doesn’t need to be refrigerated to stay good (it will last at room temperature for several week…but it never lasts that long at my house).

Also, throw out your canola oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, etc.  There are studies indicating that these oils (including margarine) actually cause inflammation, which is what causes atherosclerotic heart disease.  It’s not the saturated animal fats, people, it’s the inflammatory process.

Use olive oil or peanut oil instead of vegetable/canola/corn oil.  Use non-hydrogenated lard instead of shortening.  Your heart will thank you. Oh, and your taste buds.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

STI’s

Warning: Adult Post warning

Seriously, if you aren’t allowed to watch PG-13 movies, don’t read any further.

In my nurse practitioner classes we have covered sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). We talked about them last semester in Adult Health. Now we’re talking about them in Women’s Health. With every picture more disgusting than the last, with every description of symptoms and treatments, my conviction grows regarding the rightness of God’s original design for sex: one man, one woman, for life.

I’m going to say this once: If every human on the face of the earth would stop having sex with people who aren’t their spouse, within 100 years every single STI would disappear. Do it God’s way: Stay a virgin until you’re married, and then only have sex with your spouse.

A nurse once asked me what kind of “protection” I use. I said, “Monogamy.”  It’s 100% effective if used by both spouses.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment