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By SMH Webmaster on 2/8/2016 10:12 AM
“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night…” John 3:1-2 NKJV   Nicodemus was an important man. He was a “ruler of the Jews”, a member of the Sanhedrin, we might equate him with being a member of the Supreme Court. He had wealth, status, power and pedigree. On the outside it looked like he had it all together, the kind of life that someone else might wish they had. But something was missing.    The text says that he came to Jesus at night. Jesus was a popular teacher but he was not popular among the ruling class of the Jews so it would not have been politically astute for Nicodemus to be seen with Jesus. Therefore, in order to preserve his image, he had a secret meeting with Jesus. Coming to Jesus at night might also have a spiritual implication. Night could be a metaphor for his emotional or spiritual condition.  Nicodemus did not come to Jesus to secure votes to maintain his position. He came because word of Jesus life transforming work had reached...
By SMH Webmaster on 2/1/2016 9:55 AM
“…But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.”  John 8:6b NKJV   This scripture is part of a narrative often referred to as, “The Woman Caught in Adultery”, John 8:1-11.  Religious leaders brought a woman caught in the act and challenged Jesus as to what should be done with her.  The Law of Moses required that she be stoned (the man also but they did not bring him, hmmmm?).  They did this to see if Jesus would uphold the Law and if he did not, they would be able to discredit his ministry.    Jesus’ first response to their challenge was to appear to ignore them while writing on the ground.  When they pressed him to take action he stood up and challenged them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (verse 7), he stooped down again and recommenced writing. The scripture says that each of her accusers walked away one at a time, from the oldest to the youngest.  When they were all gone, Jesus stood up and asked her where her accusers were, was anyone there to condemn her?  Looking up and seeing no one but Jesus she replied, “No man Lord”, then Jesus added “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more”, (verse 11)....
By SMH Webmaster on 1/25/2016 5:09 PM
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”  1 John 2:1   It’s so nice to get wat you don’t deserve sometimes.  I registered to run the 2016 Miami Marathon/Half Marathon and began my training around May of 2015.  I was doing well, making my targets and feeling confident that I would be able to accomplish my goal.  My training was interrupted by a minor surgical procedure in mid-November and I too a short break from training so that I could heal.  The short break turned into a few weeks and I eventually started training again but I found that with the holidays and traveling to visit family I was not training as hard or as regularly as I should have.  When the holidays were over I hit the gym hard and tried to make up for lost time.    Sounds like a bunch of excuses, doesn’t it.  Apart from the surgery and the need for a short recovery time, all of the rest were just excuses.  Life is like that....
By SMH Webmaster on 1/18/2016 4:45 PM
“And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”  Mark 9:35 KJV   I really don’t like this question because it places too much emphasis on being defined by a profession but since it serves my purpose for this reflection I’ll use it.  What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question that many a child is asked by an adult wishing to get acquainted with them.  In answer, most children will tell you of a profession that inspires them such as a fireman or a teacher, some might even say they want to be president.  Rarely, if ever, will you hear the response, “I want to be a servant.”  Yet Jesus teaches that if you want to be the greatest, you must be a servant to all.   The Greek word used in this passage is “διάκονος” (diakonos), which literally means to do menial work, or to wait tables or to follow the orders of a master.  The context suggests that in order to be great one must desire to be, one must choose...
By SMH Webmaster on 1/18/2016 4:07 PM
Did you know that the average American eats at least 2,400 calories during the four to five hours of the Super Bowl? That makes it the second biggest day of gluttony after Thanksgiving.

Even more fun facts: Americans will scarf down roughly 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn and 3 million pounds of nuts, said the Snack Food Association. They’ll eat nearly 1 billion chicken wings on game day, according to the National Chicken Council. An estimated 48 million Americans will also order takeout, predicted the National Restaurant Association, while another 12 million people eat out during the big game.
By SMH Webmaster on 1/11/2016 10:30 AM
“Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”  Matthew 6:31 KJV We are busy people with busy lives that include work, school, children and a variety of social activities.  We all are under pressure to produce more with the same or less resources.  We have to work smarter, be more creative, and stay ahead of the competition.  No wonder, according to a Huffington Post report in April 2014, more than 76% of workers surveyed reported feeling tired at work.  So how do you feel after ten days of 2016?  Are you already wondering if you can sustain the pace of life?  In order for the human body to perform optimally it is critical for us to get regular rest.   The first thing that comes to mind when I think of rest is a good night’s sleep.   But there are those who believe that sleep is a waste of time and pride themselves on getting four hours or less sleep each night.  A phrase that has been attributed to the late...
By SMH Webmaster on 1/4/2016 11:39 AM
“…Behold, I make all things new…” Revelation 21:5   If you’re like me, you enjoy new things.  Most of us gave or received something new for Christmas.  Recall the delight on the faces of the children or adolescent who received a new bicycle, tablet, smart-phone or computer game.  Not only did it delight the receiver but the giver certainly received a lot of satisfaction.  New clothes, even if you buy them for yourself, come with a feel good sensation.  It’s even better if the new dress or jeans are a size or two smaller than you used to wear.  The ladies know what I’m talking about.  What about that new car?  After you have haggled with the sales manager and you feel like you got the best deal and as you’re driving off the lot breathing in that new car smell, there it is, that smile of satisfaction.  Then there is the new home, it doesn’t even have to be the dream home or brand new.  There is a pride of ownership and the hope of raising a family within its walls that just makes you feel good.    New experiences...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/29/2015 8:28 AM
During the holidays, we often have at least one big meal as part of a celebration. Sometimes people will skip a meal, like breakfast, in order to save the calories. However, depriving yourself of food can have unintended consequences on your body, which can impact your health now and in the long run.

Here’s what happens after you skip a meal:

Drop in blood sugar
Your body gets its energy from sugar, and if it doesn’t have the right amount, you tend to feel tired and ill. That plummeting blood sugar not only affects your energy, but your concentration and mood as well. 
By SMH Webmaster on 12/29/2015 8:24 AM
Over the next several weeks, family and friends will be gathering together, whether they’re driving across town or flying across the country. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, getting sick can put a damper on any plans. However, it can be hard to avoid coming down with a bug when you’re exhausted from traveling or visiting with a big group of people. This year, keep these tips in mind to stay healthy for all your holiday celebrations.

Get your flu vaccination
If you haven’t received your flu shot, it’s not too late. The vaccine takes about two weeks to take effect, but it can protect you throughout the flu season, which typically peaks in February and can extend into May. It’s your best protection against getting the flu, which can lead to hospitalization or even death, particularly in the elderly. Even if you’re not in a high-risk group, you should get the vaccine to help protect those who are susceptible to complications, including children younger than 5 and people 65 years or older. 
By SMH Webmaster on 12/21/2015 9:33 AM
“Behold I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him and he with me.” Rev 3:20 KJV So it’s four days to Christmas. The excitement is building. Children are writing their letters to Santa, sitting on his knees is almost every mall and telling him what they would like for Christmas.  Every jewelry store is promoting a diamond this or that and the women in the commercials are acting like this gift will change the world.  The car dealers are telling about sales like, “The December to remember”. Can you hear the booming announcer guy voice?  The dream car is in the driveway with a big red bow on it.   Moms are running down to K-Mart to pick up the lay away they’ve been working on since September.  Lottery vendors are promoting tickets like everyone’s a winner.  And just in case you don’t have time to shop or you can’t get off work early enough, the stores are open ‘til 1:00am and Elvis is singing, “I’ll be home for Christmas”.  So what do you want for Christmas?...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/15/2015 11:20 AM
After a tragic event in the news, like a mass shooting or terrorist attack, we can understandably feel anxious about the world around us. For parents, that worry can also extend to our children. When we feel stressed, our kids often pick up on that and can feel anxious as well. 

It can be difficult to talk to kids after a high-profile tragedy, especially when we’re dealing with our own feelings. Here are a few tips to help kids (and ourselves) to handle the anxiety.
By SMH Webmaster on 12/15/2015 9:41 AM
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty.”  Haggai 2:6-7 NIV  “Yes! Got it!” I smiled to myself as I settled into the most coveted seat on a Southwest aircraft.  Exit row, window, no seat in front of me and legroom for days.  Passengers were still boarding and it looked like it was going to be a full flight.  That was when I notice him.  A tall, I mean basketball player tall, African American man, possibly in his fifties, my assumption was that he was a former athlete but maybe did not get beyond college level.  I watched him squeeze his frame into the aisle seat next to me.  He looked like a Shaquille O’Neal stuffed into a Toyota Yaris.  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t sit there for the next two hours with all the leg room I had but didn’t need, while he suffered in that cramped condition,...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/8/2015 3:27 PM
It’s easy to put off starting a healthy routine, especially around the holiday season. But for some, putting it off could result in weight gain, stress and a bigger hill to climb come January. Here are some tips to get a head start on your 2016 health goals. 

Visit your health practitioner
– Don’t wait until you are sick to see your health care practitioner this winter. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to schedule a yearly visit. Not only will your provider review your overall health status, but he or she can help you set realistic wellness goals and create a plan that works for you.  
By SMH Webmaster on 12/7/2015 8:51 AM
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14 NIV. It was very early on Sunday morning and still dark but Mary was focused on completing an unfinished task.  She and a group of other women had hurriedly anointed the body of Jesus on Friday evening before placing him in the tomb.  They had kept the Sabbath but it had not been a restful experience for neither Mary, the other women nor the disciples who were hiding behind locked doors for fear of the leaders of the people.  All they could think about were the horrible things that had happened to Jesus since Thursday night. Now she was rushing back to the tomb to complete the anointing. When she arrived she found the tone rolled away and the body of Jesus was gone.  She ran back to the house where the followers of Jesus were hiding and share her dismay, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/2/2015 11:22 AM
“The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift.” Genesis 4:4b – 5a NLT   The Thanksgiving holiday marks the beginning of the Holiday season for most people.  Thanksgiving is a time when we say thanks, first to God and then to those with whom we have relationships or those to whom we feel we owe a debt of gratitude.  God does indeed deserve our thanks because without him we would have nothing.  He is the Creator who sends the rain and the sunshine.  It is he who designed the process by which seeds planted grow into plants and produce food.  He created the laws by which the universe operates.  The writer of the Acts of the Apostles declares that it is “by him that we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 KJV.   So how do you give thanks to God?  There is an Old Testament story about two brothers recorded in the fourth chapter of Genesis.  Many of you know it as the story of Cain and Abel.  The story starts out with both brothers bringing a gift to God.  They each offered...
By SMH Webmaster on 12/1/2015 11:35 AM
Many of us had chickenpox as kids and remember trying not to scratch those itchy bumps. Unfortunately, that same virus can cause a painful disease as you get older – shingles.  

Ninety-nine percent of adults ages 40 and older have had chickenpox. The virus that causes it, varicella-zoster, is actually still in your body. Years later, the varicella-zoster virus that’s been lying dormant can become active again in the form of shingles. The virus travels up the nerve roots to the skin and causes a painful rash on one side of the body, usually the torso or face. In severe cases, it can lead to a painful nerve condition called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), which can last for months or even years.
By SMH Webmaster on 11/24/2015 8:44 AM
In a matter of days (or hours, really), we’ll be moving on from pumpkins to Christmas trees. Before you toss that pumpkin off your front porch, don’t miss out on the health benefits its seeds can offer – especially for men. 

Ninety-nine percent of the pumpkins marketed in the United States are used for Halloween jack-o-lanterns. While these varieties are usually too stringy to eat, the seeds can be very beneficial for men’s health. First, prostate health: Pumpkin seeds contain a phytonutrient called cucurbitacins that can prevent the body from converting testosterone into a much more potent form called dihydrotestosterone. By inhibiting or slowing down this pathway, it makes it difficult for the body to produce more prostate cells, and therefore more difficult for the prostate to keep enlarging. More is not better when it comes to the size of your prostate.
By SMH Webmaster on 11/23/2015 12:00 AM
“Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18   We live our life around seasons and events and because of these occasions we can often find it easy to be joyful, prayerful and thankful.  But what I have noticed about people is that unless there is an event, incident or occasion, we are less inclined to practice these spiritual disciplines.  The Apostle Paul’s instructions to us do not come with any conditional qualifiers, such as , be joyful when things are going well, pray when you need something or be thankful when you receive.  He instructs us instead to always express joy, always pray and always give thanks.  These are not just suggestions Paul tells us that this is God’s will for us.   This week we will celebrate one of these annual events, the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Traditionally it is an American holiday that allows us to take some time and reflect upon our lives, and express our gratitude....
By SMH Webmaster on 11/17/2015 9:23 AM
As Thanksgiving approaches, we look forward to spending time with family and eating our favorite foods. But most of us don’t look forward to the extra pounds that come with it. If you’re looking to maintain your weight over the holidays, you don’t have to forgo your usual holiday dishes. Having a plan for your Thanksgiving meal can help you keep off any weight gain this season.

Load up on healthy foods
This might be easier than you think. Thanksgiving dinner typically includes many foods high in protein and nutrients. The key is to fill up on as much as you can on the low-fat versions. Turkey is high in protein and low in fat, especially if you remove the skin first. Vegetables like sweet potatoes are a great choice, as long as they’re not baked with fattening ingredients like marshmallows and butter. Aim to fill about 2/3 of your plate with veggies and fruits. If you eat salad, swap the high-fat dressing with a low-fat vinaigrette.  
By SMH Webmaster on 11/16/2015 9:07 AM
“…The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:37   The Old Testament account of David and Goliath is perhaps one of the most well-known and well-loved stories in the Bible.  Over the years it has become a metaphor for facing life’s difficult challenges or overcoming insurmountable odds.   Phrases like “Facing your Giants” or “Giant Killers” abound in movie titles and sports references all pointing back to the day that David felled Goliath with a sling and a stone.  But that was not David’s first demonstration of courage.  To understand how David prepared for this encounter we have to go back to the sheep pasture.   David was the youngest of twelve brothers who lived with their father Jesse in Bethlehem.  Birth order would have naturally presented him with some survival challenges.  From very early in his life he would have had to learn to develop some self-assertiveness.  The family business was raising...
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