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Without Jesus all is for naught


Lance Armstrong at the 2005 Tour de France.

Lance Armstrong at the 2005 Tour de France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lance Armstrong has finally decided to come clean. After years of passionate denial, the man had backed himself into a corner where he had no other alternative but to come clean. He admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France. Still, I would like to think Armstrong’s confession was not news to most Americans. Many of us have long suspected that Lance was on the juice, yet we cheered every time he won. After all, he is one of us. He is a winner, and we love him.

So, instead of self pity and isolation, poor Lance has embarked on an apology and reconciliation tour, to repair his tattered image. No doubt, this must be the toughest time in his life. However, shameful this might appears, I Applaud him, and I pray for him. I just wish he had done this sooner. My only hope is he will use this experience to turn his life over to the true and living God. Because even though, his actions were despicable and disgraceful, he is not different from anyone of us. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Roman 3:23).

Sin is the reason Lance Armstrong cheated, and sin is the reason Jesus died. There is a way out for all of us (sinners). Jesus says, “I am the Way the truth and the Life. No one come to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Further, Jesus also directs us to, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

It is a fact that lightening travels the path of least resistance. Similarly, it is not a secret that humans like to get things the easy way. Like many of us, Lance Armstrong chose the wide gate and the broad way. It brought him much success, fame and fortune, but in the end all was for naught.

Let’s have a candid debate on gun violence


Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shootings like the one in Newtown, Connecticut have become common place in the American society. Still, every time a maniac goes on an ego trip and massacred innocent people it is increasingly difficult to come up with a motive. The question is always why. Why would anyone in their right frame of mind committed such despicable and horrendous acts?

The Newtown massacre hits close to home. I happen to live in Connecticut, and while I do not live in Newtown, I feel divinely connected to the victims, especially the defenceless kids. That is the reason I get mad when I ask myself this question: “What on God‘s earth did twenty innocent kids, ages 6-7 years did that deserve to have their lives cut short senselessly?” At the same time, I am fully aware that we will never know the answer–the alleged shooter is dead. However, as is customary in mass murders, so-called experts believe mental health is a factor as well as the lack of stricter gun control.

It is déjà vu all over again. Another mass shooting has occurred, and the question of stricter gun control comes up. We have seen this movie before. Have we not? One can bet his last dollar that, as soon as the news media turned its TV cameras and microphones off and the anti-gun passion has died down the issue will be gentle swept under the carpet. Gun rights activists and lobbyists have done a marvelous job of neutralizing the argument for stricter gun control. Their strategy of ‘no comment until we look at the facts’ is unadorned but hugely effective. Nevertheless, no one with a heart and a soul can truthfully deny that we have a gun problem that needs discussing.

The problem of guns and gun violence is not a new phenomenon in America. Even though, if one listens to and reads some of the comments about the Newtown massacre one would think otherwise. The only new trend in gun violence over the past five years or so as it relates to mass shooting is the drastic change in the locations and the faces of victims. Where as in former years the victims of mass shootings were mostly minority, gang bangers and drug dealers who lived and operated in urban communities, today the victims also include white Americans who lived in suburban communities.

All in all, it is time to have a serious national discussion on guns and gun violence. The scourge of gun violence is no longer an urban problem. It is everybody’s problem. Therefore, politicians can no longer look the other because of fear of loosing their seats. They must stand firm and do the right thing. I do not know how, or what but for the sake of those twenty kids who died in Newtown and every other victim of gun violence–do something!!!

May the souls of the dead rest in peace!!

Do you want to be a winner?


Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

At a Dodger Stadium news conference on Tuesday December 11. 2012 , the Los Angeles Dodgers introduced their newly acquired $147 million Baseball pitching star, Zack Greinke to the news media. Majority owner, Magic Johnson was asked whether money was no object with the Dodgers. He responded with four words, “We want to win”.

Everybody wants to be a winner. Winning is everything in the secular world, especially in sports and athletics. It is not enough to compete. One has to win, and win now! Otherwise, you are deemed a loser, and since no one wants to be a loser, the pressure of winning becomes greater.

Unfortunately, not everybody can be a winner. There is only one spot on the podium for the winner, so some of us have to settle for the unpopular also ran position.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Instead, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. . . Hebrews 12:1-2

However, unlike the secular world, everyone can be a winner in Christ and in the Christian world. In this sacred world, the race is not awarded to the swift nor the battle to the strong. This race is a marathon, and the winners are those who run with patience and endure to the end. There is no controversy in the Christian race. No doping scandal and no false start. Everyone is on equal footing.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10

There  is no so-called superstar in the Christian race, and there is no mention of judges or referees. There is only one Judge–the righteous JUDGE and He cannot be bought. He does not take a bribe. He calls the race as He sees it. It does not matter how popular you are, and how long you have been running. He does not curry-favor.

Here is how a winner in the Christian world sounds at the end of his race:

I have fought the good fight, and I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing”. 2 Timothy 4.

My fear for breast cancer forces me to do a double mastectomy.


Editor’s note: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Author Allison Gilbert shares why she chose to undergo a double mastectomy after testing positive for the breast cancer gene.

(CNN) — I’m not a helicopter parent and my children would tell you I don’t bake cupcakes for their birthday parties. But I’d readily cut off my breasts for them — and recently, I did.

Removing breast tissue uncompromised by cancer is relatively easy. It took the breast surgeon about two hours to slice through my chest and complete the double mastectomy seven weeks ago.

The time-consuming part was left to the plastic surgeon who created new breasts out of my own belly fat so I could avoid getting implants. Total operating time: 11.5 hours. And I don’t regret a second.

The decision to have surgery without having cancer wasn’t easy, but it seemed logical to me. My mother, aunt and grandmother have all died from breast or ovarian cancer, and I tested positive for the breast cancer gene.

Being BRCA positive means a woman’s chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer is substantially elevated.

“Patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have 50%-85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and up to approximately 60% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer,” according to Karen Brown, director of the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

By comparison, the lifetime risk of breast cancer for the general population is 13% and 1.7% for ovarian cancer.

CNN iReport: Tested for the breast cancer gene?

At my gynecologist’s urging, I tackled the threat of ovarian cancer first. Because the disease is hard to detect and so often fatal, my ovaries were removed in 2007, a few years after my husband and I decided we were done having kids.

The most difficult part of the operation came in the months that followed: I was thrust into menopause at 37. Despite age-inappropriate night sweats and hot flashes, I was relieved to have the surgery behind me and wrote about it in my book, “Parentless Parents: How the Loss of Our Mothers and Fathers Impacts the Way We Raise Our Children.”

The emotional release was short-lived. Less than a year later, my mother’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and died within four months.

Aunt Ronnie’s death set me on a preventive mastectomy warpath. I had already been under high-risk surveillance for more than a decade — being examined annually by a leading breast specialist and alternating between mammograms, breast MRIs and sonograms every three months — but suddenly being on watch didn’t seem enough, and I began researching surgical options.

Regardless of my family history and BRCA status, I still went back and forth on having a mastectomy. I vacillated between feeling smug and insane.

Over the years, I’d read too many stories like the one in the Wall Street Journal last week, on doctors who make fatal mistakes (up to 98,000 people die every year in the United States because of medical errors, according to the Institute of Medicine). I was anxious about choosing a bad surgeon and a bad hospital.

The stakes felt even higher after I decided to go an unconventional route to reconstruction. Implants generally offer a quicker surgery and recovery, but they’re also known to leak, shift out of place, and feel hard to the touch and uncomfortable.

I would also likely have to replace them every 10 years — not an unimportant consideration, since I’m 42.

Ultimately, on August 7, I underwent double mastectomy with DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) flap reconstruction. The benefits would be that my new breasts would be permanent, made from my own skin and flesh, and I’d be getting rid of my childbearing belly fat in the process.

I had multiple consultations with surgeons who explained every reason not to have the procedure. They warned me that I’d be under anesthesia unnecessarily long and I’d be opening myself up to needless complications.

While every concern was valid, it wasn’t until I was six doctors into my investigation that I realized the likely reason why I was getting such push-back. The plastic surgeons I was consulting, despite their shining pedigrees and swanky offices, couldn’t perform a DIEP. The procedure requires highly skilled microsurgery and not every plastic surgeon, I learned, is a microsurgeon.

It also requires a great deal of stamina. The doctors I interviewed who perform DIEP flaps were generally younger and fitter than those who didn’t. On average, a double mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction takes 10-12 hours, while reconstruction using implants can take as little as three.

In total, I met with 10 surgeons before choosing my team, and while I am now thrilled with the outcome, all the years of research and worry took a toll on me.

The worst moment came one night when my husband and I were in bed. I began to cry uncontrollably and wished I could talk with my mother and aunt about which procedure to have, which doctor I should choose, and whether I should even have the surgery.

Then a moment of bittersweet grace clarified what I needed to do. It struck me that the reason I couldn’t speak to my mother and aunt is exactly the reason I had to have the surgery.

Undergoing a prophylactic double mastectomy was a great decision for me. It’s clearly not a choice every woman would make, but I’m convinced without it I would have been one of the estimated 226,000 women the American Cancer Society says is diagnosed with invasive breast cancer every year.

I could have tried to eat my way to a cancer-free life, but even Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the popular vegetables-are-key-to-health book “The China Study” admits diet may not be enough to protect BRCA patients from cancer.

“We need more research,” Campbell told me. “Conservatively, I’d say go ahead and have the surgery, and eat a plant-based diet after.”

I also could have waited for a vaccine, a pill or some other medical advance to come my way that would have made such a radical decision avoidable.

Perhaps MD Anderson Cancer Center’s newly announced war on cancer will produce positive results for patients who are susceptible to triple negative breast cancer, the type of aggressive disease likely to afflict BRCA1 patients and the kind my aunt most likely died from.

But every surgery substitute seemed locked in hope, not statistics. And as I’ve told my husband and children, I wasn’t willing to wait. I love them more than my chest.