Monday, November 30, 2015

Wait A Minute!


Looking for a new devotional book for the new year? Wait A Minute - 30 Devotionals Inspired by Life's Breath-Catching Moments is now available at Amazon. Great idea for Christmas. Hope you enjoy this sample chapter:

Stuck at the Bottom of a Box

"For this is what the Lord says . . .without money you will be redeemed.
 Isaiah 52:3

"Better to sell it for a quarter than keep it for nothing." This was the motto purported by the coordinator of our church rummage sale. So, when I found a small saucer hidden at the bottom of a box of donated items, I ignored its appearance and dutifully stuck it with a twenty-five cent label. The plate soon found itself on a folding table holding numerous other cheap things.

Fortunately, another worker with a keener eye than mine saw possible value in the plate. She took it to an antique dealer who gasped when she saw the beautiful flower painted in the center of the dish. “Why this is an original Majolica!” she exclaimed, ripping off the twenty-five cent sticker. “This plate is worth at least $35!” And she bought it. How unfortunate that such a beautiful, valuable plate would end up relegated to the bottom of a box of devalued stuff.

The Lord reminded me of another time when I failed to recognize true value. Only this time it involved a person, not a plate. A woman attended our church for a short time. Her outward appearance was not attractive and her hygiene was—well—in need of serious attention. Her hair was stringy and her clothes ill-fitting. A couple of times I gave her a ride home and, even though it was wintertime, I kept my window down to avoid the unpleasant odor coming from the passenger’s side. The day she told us she was moving and would have to find a closer church, I secretly rejoiced—much to my shame.

Several months later, she called to tell me a woman at her new church was taking her for a complete make-over, including new clothes and a fresh hairstyle. “Wow,” I said, suppressing a little tinge of guilt. “That’s wonderful. What’s the occasion?”

“No special occasion,” she responded. “The woman said she saw value in me and wanted to help me look good.”

Obviously, I had a serious flaw in my vision. I couldn’t recognize beauty when it stared me in the face, and I couldn’t see potential when it sat next to me in my car! Thank God He can spot both beauty and potential, whether He’s looking at an individual—or an entire nation, like Israel.

No matter how rebellious the Israelites were, God never lost hope in them. He always recognized their true value and often spoke through the prophets to underscore that truth. In their original form, the Israelites were God's chosen people, highly favored and set apart from all others. However, they compromised their covenant with the Lord and, after resisting numerous opportunities to repent, ended up in Babylonian captivity for seventy years.

In the midst of their bondage, God looked at the bottom of the box and saw more than a discarded nation. Despite the Israelites’ defects, the Lord acknowledged their true worth and tagged them with a promise to redeem them without money (a prophetic word about Jesus who paid the ultimate price by giving His own life). They didn’t deserve it, but God couldn’t help Himself. He’s drawn to devalued throw-aways because He knows the original value.

Sometimes we may feel like we’re stuck at the bottom of a box—forgotten and worthless. How did we get there? Whether someone else did it to us, or whether we did it to ourselves, it’s not too late to be rescued. The Master is dying to retrieve us and restore our natural beauty. If we let Him, He’ll remove the old labels and mark us as His originals. We may not deserve it, but He just can’t help Himself.

Are you ready to get out of the box?


Lord, thank you for seeing enough value in my life to redeem me with yours. I give you permission to pull me from the bottom of the box so I can fulfill your purpose for my life. Help me treat others with the same kindness you have shown me so I can help them fulfill their purpose as well.  

Copyright 2015, Mary K. Selzer

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Valid Case Against Marijuana

This topic may be controversial, but I just have to speak out. First, let me offer congratulations to the voters of Ohio who last week rejected a proposal to legalize recreational use of marijuana. I couldn't be prouder of our neighboring state.

The subject of drugs seems to have recently become front and center as a topic of news and discussions. Not too long ago I met a retired judge, and in the course of our conversation he asked what I thought about legalizing marijuana for recreational use. I vigorously shook my head. “An absolutely bad idea,” I said. "Why?" he asked.

I told him about the 20 years I spent as a staff member at Teen Challenge, a residential-care program for people with life-controlling problems--mostly alcoholics and drug addicts. Our staff heard countless stories from students who admitted that their journey to hard drugs all too often began with the seemingly "innocent" marijuana.They told us that very few people only smoke marijuana. A majority of marijuana users also pop pills, drink booze, shoot heroin or snort cocaine.
One woman, who had been addicted to heroin for 15 years, described her first encounter with marijuana: "When I smoked my first marijuana cigarette, I felt like someone had undressed me inside. I didn't care what I did or who I did it with. It wasn't long before I was using harder drugs." 
Someone else said, "When I was smoking marijuana, I became so mellow--almost care-free. Now that I'm completely off drugs, I'm at the top of my game. I have a lot of energy and drive, and I have the work responsibilities to go with it. If I were still smoking pot, I'd be so laid back that I wouldn't care about anything. I wouldn't even be able to keep my job."
Another long-time drug addict was asked what he considered the most dangerous drug. "Marijuana," he responded without hesitation. "The problem is that people just don't want to admit that it is definitely a gateway drug."
If the very individuals who enter a rehabilitation program in order to free themselves of their addiction declare that marijuana is a gateway drug, who am I to argue?

Even the National Institute of Drug Abuse cautions that marijuana use causes . . . 
  • altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors)
  • altered sense of time
  • changes in mood
  • impaired body movement
  • difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
  • impaired memory
When I shared this information with my judge friend, he called it all a "theory." "Look at it from a business point of view," he argued. "One man in Denver said the first day marijuana was legalized, he profited over $35,000. That’s pretty impressive. I think legalizing marijuana is a good business proposition, even if it is for recreational use."

I bit my tongue because of the irony in his comment. This same judge had told me earlier that he had  sentenced drug addicts to the Teen Challenge program in lieu of jail time. A high percentage of those individuals began their tumultuous lifestyles using the very drug he wants to see legalized because of the savvy business benefit.

His Honor isn't the only person who wants to make a little profit. Actor / musician Nick Lachey, Ohio native, saw a great business opportunity for himself and a handful of other marijuana moguls if Ohio voted yes to pot. For weeks prior to the election, Nick appeared on television ads encouraging Ohioans to approve recreational use of marijuana because it would benefit the state. In reality, it would have actually benefited Nick and his cronies. If Ohio had said "yes," Nick & Co. would have a monopoly on the profits realized from the sale of marijuana.

With every financial profit, there is a cost. Someone pays so someone else can profit. What is happening in our nation that so many people view opportunities through the lens of money without considering the cost to those who are making them rich? It's a heavy price to pay, don't you think?   

Thanks, Ohio. Your message came through loud and clear. Hopefully other states will follow your lead before our entire country goes to pot.