1. The first has to do with the consumption of coffee. I saw on the news yesterday a report of a case that is proceeding through a California court. A non profit group wants to see a label on coffee (wherever it is sold in the state) to warn consumers that drinking coffee increases the risk of cancer. How so? It appears that a certain chemical (acrylamide) appears in coffee, and acrylamide has been linked to cancer. Those opposing this push to label coffee as a cause of cancer point to the fact that acrylamide (a byproduct of the roasting process) consists of only 6 parts per billion. This minute amount is far too small to be a serious cancer threat. Others opposing the drive to label coffee with a warning also reference all the benefits to drinking coffee which recent studies have revealed (in the television report I saw, a USC cancer geneticist referenced studies that have shown moderate coffee consumption actually decreases the risk of certain kinds of cancer (the two he specifically mentioned were colon and rectal cancer).
Bottom line, it will be interesting to see how the court rules in this case. My read? There are a lot more things we consume that are far less healthy than a cup of joe! Perhaps if we start by eating a more balanced healthy diet and get more regular exercise ... we will be on path to a healthier future than we would by merely giving up coffee! After all ... what would a morning be without the wake up cup of my favorite brew (which is San Francisco Bay Fog Chaser in case you are wondering!)? I shudder to think!
I also wonder what will be next on the list of cancer causing agents to avoid. Air? Water? What is driving this desire to remove all risk from our lives? Is that even possible? I am all for being responsible. But sometimes we go over the top when it comes to this sort of thing. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater!
2. On a more spiritual note, one of the tools I have been using this new year to enrich my quiet time with God is Tim Keller's excellent devotional book, God's Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs. He suggests that in chapter three of Proverbs, we find "six things that can serve as the marks of a wise person and at the same time are the means for growing in wisdom." The first of these is trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5). Here is a portion of what he writes concerning this:
"You can believe in God yet still trust something else for your real significance and happiness—which is therefore your real God. We hide how we do this from ourselves, and it is only when something goes wrong with, say, your career or your family, that you realize it is much more important to you than the Lord himself."
So all of us must be asking ourselves what we are truly trusting for our fulfillment and happiness in life. For whatever we are trusting is nothing more than an idol (unless, of course, that something is the God who made us!). As Keller points out, "Idolatries of the heart lead to foolishness in the life."
The remedy for idolatry and the foolishness it brings is the gospel of Jesus Christ. For only when we realize just who we are "in Christ" (an often occurring phrase in the Bible's newer testament) will we be free from the bondage to the idols that our hearts so easily manufacture! So let's heed the words with which the Apostle John closes his first letter: "Little children, guard yourself from idols" (1 John 5:22).
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