Sometimes you would never expect a person at the top of her college class to slip into heroin addiction, but that’s just what happened to Nicole at age 20. It didn’t just happen in one day. At age 13 she began using marijuana, alcohol and some drugs. Eventually more drugs entered the picture and she was taking ecstasy, cocaine and then opiates. She lived in Massachusetts which has recently seen an average of four heroin deaths per day, which is twice the national average. Journeys like Nicoles can be devastating to the addict but also to families and communities. After a long road Nicole has now been clean for a year at age 26.
We can often see or hear of situations like Nicole’s being played out all around us, regardless of where we live. When we ask the question of why heroin is so addictive, we are drawn to the research at John Hopkins. In 1972 they found that human brains contain natural receptors for opium. When substances such as codeine, morphine and heroin enter the body they have a natural landing spot in the brain. The active ingredients in opium and it’s derivatives are nearly identical to chemicals we have in our brains called endorphins. It’s what makes you feel good and gives you a sense of euphoria.
While some people exercise to feel good, others can get a stronger feeling by injection. None of the opiates work faster than heroin. When the feel-good response is over stimulated, the brain becomes fatigued and needs even more stimulation to produce the same high. This is why heroin addicts eventually take higher and higher doses until finally an overdose occurs.
Politically-correct people will call heroin addiction a disease. We don’t do that here. Let’s ask ourselves what’s life all about anyway. Much of it appears to be the gravitation toward pleasure and the avoidance of discomfort. We see that in heaven and hell. Jesus tells us people in heaven will have abundant life while those eventually cast into the lake of fire will be in torment. It’s feeling good or feeling bad. Many of our decisions on a day-to-day basis are geared to bringing pleasure or relief in some way even though there could be an attached negative implication for body, circumstances or relationships. Smoking and fast food are two examples that come to mind.
The question really becomes: do the desires and lusts of the body control our actions or do we control the actions of our body by adhering to some standard or purpose? The Bible says a person without self-control is like a city broken into and left without protection. It also says God gives His people a spirit not of fear but of power, love and self-control. Is your life one of self-control? Have you tried Jesus?
Outdoor Christmas decorations have become part of the season for many people. It was no different for John Duffy’s wife who spent two days decorating their front lawn. The main attraction was the nine peppermint lollipop sticks on each side of the walkway. When the Duffy’s awoke the next morning, the illuminated peppermint sticks were gone.
A home surveillance system had recently been installed so John had a video of the thief. He posted the video on Facebook. A local news station picked it up and put it on TV. Within 24 hours, a person called John upon recognizing the lollipop snatcher and her car. The snatcher’s location was just a few blocks away. When John saw his Christmas items on the thieves lawn as he drove by, he called police. Officers arrested the thief.
Don’t think this story is a single occurrence. There are numerous reports of Christmas decorations being stolen this year. In addition we also see reports of people stealing packages from front doors. Many people see this as a time to take.
When we hear of stories like this, we are reminded that the Bible tells us that love is kind and not self-seeking. It also says love does no harm to a neighbor. Clearly the activity reported here lacked love. Have you thought about your day-to-day encounters with other people? We could ask if you give or take, but the real question is if you love.
Sometimes it’s tough when hardship strikes. Sa’fyre Terry had periodic placements in foster homes when an arson fire killed her father and three siblings when she was five years old. Even though her father cradled her in his arms, she had burns over 75% of her body, claiming a foot and a hand. Three years later, Sa’fyre said the only gift she wanted was Christmas cards from all over the world. Dolder, Sa’fyre’s aunt and legal guardian, posted a message on Facebook requesting cards be sent.
When one card came in Sa’fyre was overjoyed like someone winning the lottery. Then a few dozen arrived. Soon about 195,000 letters, cards and about 3,000 packages arrived in one day. It took two mail trucks and a rented cargo truck to deliver mail to the family that day. In all, more than 300,000 letters have arrived so far.
In another news report, we see that Virginia Rose, a four year old from Virginia, was diagnosed with leukemia. Back in September her father was told she might not see another Christmas. She celebrated Christmas early this year and the family is trying to have Christmas for her every weekend. When the neighbors found out, there was caroling and cards for Virginia and a fund-raiser to throw the little girl a Christmas party the family wouldn’t forget. Virginia looked happy when she saw all the neighbors singing in her front yard, though she was very tired. The whole community got together to encourage Virginia and her family.
In each of these stories there was an outpouring of love from people who did not know or hardly knew the recipient. If you read the full details of these stories, you might need a tissue box handy, like I did.
These stories remind me of the greatest gift of all. It was God the Father sending Jesus to earth to pay the price for rebelling mankind. The result for all who trust His Son is not only abundant, but eternal life. The Bible says “God is love”. Love always involves giving. Do you give or do you take?
Oftentimes when things seem to be going so well, they can reverse into unpleasant life-changing circumstances.
Lanita Harris was an exemplary teacher, who even got a Teacher of the Year Award in 2006. When a new principal took over at Hunters Lane High School in Nashville, Tennessee, Lanita was assigned to teach English II to a group of struggling students. In 2012 Lanita says an assistant principal brought a message from the principal instructing her to pass all students, giving them at least a 70 grade. After Lanita filed a complaint with the school board, the issue was brought before the Chief academic Officer, Jay Steele’s office, who decided there was no violation of policy.
One student who was passed, would repeatedly throw the work on the floor and use foul language to the teacher. Another attended only one day of class during its nine weeks. There was even a student on the books who assaulted her a few months before. All students in the class passed. An investigation revealed that other teachers were asked to do the same thing. Lanita has decided to move to another school district.
The school district was experiencing year-over-year declining graduations until a new principal was installed. At that time graduations for the district began to skyrocket, making the school look better.
It was only changing a grade from fail to pass, but is that as far as it goes? The students were being given a lie. The parents of the students were lied to. Perspective employers would be misled because they would assume these students were on a par with those who really earned their grade. The grade change could cause the students to become more belligerent and always expect a bail-out.
One of the Ten Commandments tells all people not to lie. Here we see one self-serving action rippling out into society and potentially causing harm to many people. We are glad God gave us His laws so that all people could have a better life. Do you want to abide by His laws?