It’s flu season. Did you get your Vaccination?

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It is now flu season and, given my profession, I have to deal with vaccination concerns as well as those who contract influenza. Please bear with me as I try to wear two hats today. I promise it will in one manner or another tie in for what I think are valuable life lessons. I am at least hopeful that I am able to do so adequately.

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As I said, it’s flu season and while only seeing a limited amount of cases now, that number will rise of that I have no doubt. And despite what some hear or read a few myths need to be dispelled: the influenza vaccine DOES NOT and CANNOT cause the flu, PERIOD END OF STORY! The flu shots are made with a killed virus that is incapable of causing influenza. Oh some may get some mild body aches, joint pain or headache and perhaps a slight increase in body temperature or as some call it a low grade fever (FYI medically there is no such thing as a low grade fever, a fever is a fever and if you temperature is not 100.4f or above you DO NOT HAVE A FEVER. Next: influenza vaccine has absolutely NOT been shown to cause autism in children (not have any other vaccines) the one publication that indicated that has been proven to have been totally fabricated and very loosely based on highly inaccurate, misinterpreted information. That was compounded by some uneducated celebrities and others jumping on that bad information and spreading the inaccurate information and creating situations where we are now seeing increases of measles, mumps, pertussis and s host of other diseases that only a few years ago were extremely rare. There are individuals that should not get vaccinations but those are a small number. Some will say that they know someone who’s friend’s, neighbor’s, third cousin’s mailman said had a severe reaction to a vaccination. Unfortunately, there are very rare but serious reactions to vaccinations and people have died from those adverse reactions but if one looks at the real numbers the less than 1 in 100,000 severe reactions to vaccines compared to the known complications of any of the diseases we vaccinate for is extremely, extremely small. Simply stated tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands are alive today because they avoiding contracting certain diseases by getting vaccinated. I hate that anyone die but if looking at the big picture far, far more lives are saved than are lost.

There are years where the flu that is present is not exactly the version for which one was vaccinated and, yes, there are time when someone still gets influenza however there is benefit in the form of cross immunity from the strains in the vaccine that one gets decreased severity of symptoms and usually recover much quicker than an unvaccinated person. So that even if the flu isn’t prevented for all at least it’s not as bad as it could be for those who get vaccinated.

Yet another issue about flu, there is no “stomach flu” and flu like symptoms is not nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Flu or flu like symptoms are: fevers, chills, runny nose, cough, body aches and if severe difficulty breathing and possibly wheezing. The same symptoms as a common cold and most people with flu only need the same medicines we use for colds as we treat the symptoms and try to help people be more comfortable as their body fights the flu.

Final comment about flu is that the flu medicine (tamiflu) provides minimal benefit and will slightly decrease severity of flu symptoms and decrease duration of symptoms by 1 or 2 days and that only occurs if it is started within 48 hours of symptom onset preferably before 24  hours has elapsed since symptoms started. I do not use or recommend that it be prescribed except in limited circumstances. The benefit is minimal and the adverse (bad side effects) reactions are likely enough and severe enough that in my mind “the juice ain’t worth the squeeze” in regards to taking it.

Well, obviously I believe in vaccinating against diseases. One can decrease the risks of contracting influenza by washing their hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, avoiding close contact with those who are sick and through good nutrition which helps keep immune systems strong. Massive doses of vitamin C or other vitamins does not cure or prevent the flu or colds. And can cause more problems than they may help. The only definite effect of taking mega doses of vitamins is one has expensive urine since the majority of vitamins are water soluble so are excreted by the kidneys if one takes more than the body needs.

SO…..in order to minimize the risk to get the flu this year one needs to get good nutrition, plenty of rest, practice good hand washing/hygiene and get a flu vaccination. Even then, one cannot be absolutely guaranteed to not get influenza. BUT, doing those things make it much, much, much less likely (YES, I used 3 muches for emphasis!)

 

Okay, great you’re thinking by now. You are saying to get vaccinated but you can’t guarantee we won’t get sick. So what good is it?  And. FINE, we get what you are saying about the flu but what does this have to do with a Christian walk? And, here is where I try to be clever and make analogies. I hope that what makes sense to me actually makes sense to others as well. No one thing will guarantee us to be able to stay on the right path, serve Christ as He wishes we do so and help us avoid sin. BUT, by doing all of those things we can significantly decrease the likelihood that we will have difficulty in our Christian lives and what tools do we have to help us in that process?

The first step is to wash ourselves, rather to ask God to wash us of our sins by confessing to him that we are sinners and asking for His forgiveness.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  1 John 1:7

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.                         2 Corinthians 7:1

After we are clean we need to maintain nutrition by studying the scripture, learning what God has in the Bible to teach us how to live. He does this with straightforward instructions, parables, example (both of how to live and how not to live) and explaining to us how we can maintain the forgiveness and redemption He has given us and to teach us how to life for His benefit and glory.

16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.     2 Timothy 3:16-17

We can also maintain a balanced spiritual diet by spending time in prayer, talking to God, telling Him our issues and problems, our needs, and seeking His wisdom and guidance.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  Matthew 6:6

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:16-20

 

More important than that, since He already knows those things anyway and even though He knows, He does want us to tell Him those things, is that we praise and worship Him.

1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalms 150:1-6

 

The other part of the of maintaining our spiritual health, the vaccination if you will, is making sure to spend time with other Christians in praise and worship and fellowshipping with our Christian brothers and sisters by going to church.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.  Matthew 18:20

And, not only congregating with other Christians for the praise and worship, but to hear His word. I know that people learn through a variety of methods: reading about something, seeing something, doing things and hearing about something. How we learn about Christian life is the same, and if we try to learn the same material using more than one of these methods, or even better, ALL of these methods, the lessons are reinforced and better remembered. So, HEARING is a critical part as well, time sitting in the church pew LISTENING to the pastor, LISTENING to the message He is teaching from the scripture as well as listening to the messages in the songs.

So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.   Romans 10:17

 

SO, just as in needing to do multiple things to help decrease and hopefully avoid catching influenza we need to do multiple things to help avoid “catching sin” rather falling back into sin and thereby falling away from God. It isn’t hard to maintain your Christian life, but doing one or some of these things, while helpful, does not give you all that you need as a Christian. There are a lot of Christians that think by praying, maybe reading the Bible once in a while, they will be able to be strong and spiritually healthy Christian. I know, because I was that way. Some believe all they need to do is go to church on Sundays and then live the rest of the week in whatever manner suit them. Still others believe that once saved, always saved and all they have to do is confess their sins and ask Christ to forgive them. It doesn’t work that way. I, you, WE ALL, fail God daily and sin in some way. Maybe not big sins, but I doubt there is a person alive that doesn’t slip at least a little every day. None of these things by themselves will keep us spiritually strong; doing one or two is not enough, sometimes doing all the things He tells us to do is barely enough and it is only by being diligent in doing all of them do we best insure that we do not get “spiritually sick” and that we instead are spiritually healthy.

 

Lord, I worship You and I praise the name of Jesus who You sent to die and suffer so that I and all of us could live. I thank You for the lessons and the ways You help me see how daily life and spiritual life have parallels so I can better understand what You expect of me and how I can be a better servant for You. I pray You help me keep my immunity intact, with spiritual washing, getting all the spiritual nutrition I need and getting spiritually vaccinated. I ask in the name of Jesus that You continue to work with me and helping me to grow in Christ. I pray that You work in the hearts and minds of loved ones also and draw us all closer to You. Help us all see Your truths for us and how to better resist the temptations of life so we do not become spiritually sick and lost. I pray for several different friends who have issues with which they are dealing and that You help them through the troubled times. Give them the comfort they each need and show them Your path for their lives, how they can correct what they can correct and how to move forward with their lives in the way You have for each.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The fish bites.

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Well, sometimes after travelling and time off work I have a hard time getting back into the regular swing of things, particularly so when I have been essentially off the grid while visiting somewhere with minimal to no internet. Belief it or not there still are a few places like that out there. I was up in Nome, Alaska and while I know it would not be everyone’s cup of tea, I love the place. I must confess, my visits have been in the summer time and I seriously doubt I would ever want to visit in the winter. But, as they say, there is no place like Nome. But, as I said, trying to get used to the time change, get caught up on things at home and work and deal with whatever other issues came up while I was away makes it difficult to get back into the normal flow of life. I am finally caught up, mostly…..I think. But, on to the post of the day.

During my visit in Nome I had the chance to do some salmon fishing and the silver salmon were biting GREAT! One problem I found is that salmon have bigger and sharper teeth than most of the fish I have caught in the past. And, I found out the hard way. Someone, tried to remove a hook from one fish’s mouth before LOOKING and was bitten. A salmon’s teeth are not shark huge, but they are fairly big and very sharp. I had several little puncture wounds from the bite and was foolish enough to have had fingers on both hands in the fish’s mouth. After I finished finding needle nose pliers and removing the hook I washed off my fingers and tried to avoid those teeth on the rest of the fish. As time went I find that I did not wash as well as I should have and some ended up getting infected. I tried washing them better, scrubbing out the wounds, and that sort of helped, but some still got more infected and I ended up needing to start antibiotics and some of the spots needed to be lanced and drained. NO FUN! Now they are getting better and I thank God for that.

I deal with similar issues with patients frequently where the develop cellulitis, basically infection in the skin. Other times where they develop abscesses where pockets of bacteria and white blood cells collect (pus.) Well, some abscesses are small, like the ones I had but others get pretty large. All of these skin infections require some type of damage to the skin, cuts, scrapes, puncture wounds from bug bites, spider bites, thorns, etc. One thing I have noticed, and to me it is interesting, is that the big wounds usually do not become infected. Some is due to a larger amount of bleeding that washes dirt and bacteria out of the wound but a lot is that people tend to take larger wounds more seriously and wash them carefully, try hard to keep them clean, and thereby avoid infections. But, the smaller wounds, well people tend to not worry as much about those but they are the ones that normally get more infected, the infection spreads, and can get very severe. Once treated the infection resolves and the person heals fine but even small areas of infection, if not treated, will get worse and cause loss of tissue and if let go too long, result in death.

SO…..nice you are thinking, he got some fish bites on his hands, gave us a little lesson on skin conditions and such. BUT WHAT IS THE POINT?

I got to thinking how my spiritual life is similar. The big trials, the big temptations, the BIG EVILS when they show up are much easier to deal with for the most part. They are easier to deal with in a way. One can recognize the dangers to one’s spiritual well being when they are the big issues, the temptations and hardships are much more quickly recognized and dealt with by most. Avoid those things, or if a significant hardship is encountered most of us take time to look to the scripture and pray about things for God’s help in dealing with the difficulty at hand and He helps us. But, the little things, the tiny small trials we sometimes ignore and smaller sins are the say way. We sort of ignore the little things sometimes, let them go without addressing them. Now, I realize, sin is sin.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2:10

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.    Genesis 4:7

 

There really are no big or small sins, but most of us consider some things as lesser sins. Maybe it is a little white lie, make a promise we don’t intend to keep; we make little mean comments about others, nothing TERRIBLE, but still negative comments that do not please God, treat others poorly but not really badly. Many ways we make these small sins and we ignore them. But, the small sins still impact our spiritual well being. These acts put barriers between us and God and human nature is such that once one thing is there we justify slightly more significant sins. The effects of these small sins, the progressively worse sins and the person’s ignoring them is they begin to fester. Maybe one fails to forgive someone, not forgiving someone causes the feelings of hurt and anger to remain, eating away at the person holding on to the hurt, creating more intense anger and bitterness. That anger and bitterness builds, it spreads into other areas of one’s spiritual life. It creates a spiritual infection and eventually needs dealt with in a more aggressive manner to rid one of that disease. One must drain the infection and treat it. Spiritually that requires looking to God and His guidance. Read the scripture to see what He wants us to do. As with any sin He wants us to recognize the sin, confess to Him that we have sinned and ask for forgiveness. God is good and faithful to forgive us of those sins and cleanse us. He and His word are our spiritual scalpel that drains the infection from us and the antibiotic that rids us of the sins.

But, as I said, interesting to me is that the more obvious, bigger so to speak, sins are in many ways easier to deal with overall because we more quickly recognize them but the smaller things slowly creep in, spread and cause more problems in the long run. Avoiding completely and seeking His protection can prevent problems, just like vaccinations that protect us from diseases.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:10-11

 

Using protective devices, gloves when dealing with sharp items or getting vaccinations to protect ourselves are a couple examples on how to avoid infections, but spiritually we need to constantly seek the Lord and try to think with the mind of Christ, put on our spiritual armor and let God protect us.

Yeah, sin is sin, big or small, and sin is a spiritual infection, avoiding is best, but when it is present, it must be dealt with and when we deal with it, He will take care of us, forgive us, He redeems us.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3:16-17

 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

 

Lord, I praise You and thank You for helping me understand Your desires for me to avoid sin and if I fail to avoid it, recognize it and deal with it as You wish me to deal with sin. I know I have sinned in many ways and I ask Your forgiveness of those sins. I thank You for Your sacrifice of Your Son Jesus Christ who died for my sins. I thank You for your grace and mercy. I pray in Jesus name that You continue to help me grow spiritually, that You continue to help me in my walk and help me better have the mind and heart of Christ. Please show me how to improve myself for You and how to better serve You. Help my loved ones see their own sins, show them they need to confess the sins to You and ask Your forgiveness. Help them walk away from the sins in their lives so they may better serve You and know You and Your will in their lives. I worship You for your grace, mercy and for all that You are.

Amen

 

Thanks for the visit today. I apologize for the absence and I pray all have been well. Try to be a blessing to others today. He will bless you for your efforts.