Low Inventories of Walmart 50 Count Reli On Prime Test Strips

aarts walmart reli on test stripsI use the Reli On Prime glucometer and test strips. Without health insurance I have grown to rely on them. Yes, that pun was intended. However, the last couple of trips to two different Walmarts in the southwestern Pennsylvania area has yielded slim pickings for the product. The first Walmart was completely out. The second Walmart only had two of the 100 count boxes of Reli On Prime blood glucose test strips.

I asked an employee in the pharmacy at the second Walmart if there was a supply problem with the Reli On Prime test strips. He said that he thinks that the 50 count test strips are being discontinued, and that the 100 count product size is going to be substituted. The 100 count box contains two 50 count bottles.

There is a green circle on the barcode label on the Walmart shelf for the 50 count boxes. The employee said this makes it likely that version has been discontinued. He said he would look into it to get more information. The green circle on the shelf label must have an internal meaning in the store that indicated to the employee I spoke to that the product was being “phased out” as he put it.

The issue I have is that there was no warning of this. A supply line interruption that is unforeseen obviously cannot come with a warning that inventory can get low. However, this appears to have been foreseen – to have been planned, actually. If that is the case, then this is a major issue. Why? Permit me to explain.

The consumers purchasing these test strips are likely to not have health insurance or have a high copay or other out-of-pocket expense for glucometer test strips. I am very grateful for the Reli On brand of diabetic supplies including the different test strips they make. However, since I use an insulin pump and absolutely have to test several times per day, I would really have appreciated a notice on the shelf that the 50 count product was going to be phased out, and to expect a possible supply shortage.

Fortunately for me, I found two 100 count boxes at the second Walmart. They had no other Reli On Prime test strips behind the counter. The shelves were empty of the 50 count boxes, and only the two 100 count boxes remained. I purchased them both. If worse came to worse, they did have other Reli On test strips for other meters made by that manufacturer, and I do own one of the other meters. Plus, the actual Reli On glucometers are not very expensive. I would not like to have to buy another one, but I could if necessary.

For insulin-dependent diabetics, running out of blood glucose test strips can be a problem. It can lead to dangerously high or low blood glucose readings. We rely on testing to adjust insulin dosing and carbohydrate intake. Using an insulin pump I need to have an accurate reading to know if I need to give a correction bolus if my blood glucose level is high. Also, with the changes I have been experiencing with hypoglycemic awareness, I need to know when to drink some juice or eat some glucose tabs.

I get a little nervous when my supply of test strips runs low. I test even in the middle of the night! If Walmart knew there was going to be a potential supply issue, they should have told all the diabetics buying their Reli On blood glucose test strips.

I do not want to end on a bad note making it sound like Walmart is the bad guy. If they made a mistake with this, maybe they will not do it again. I do want to be clear that I thank and applaud them for providing a line of affordable diabetic testing supplies. Without the Reli On brand, I would not be able to test my blood glucose levels as much as I need to. The other brands of test strips are just too expensive.

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About the Sinner’s Prayer

There is no actual prayer in the bible to recite that saves you from sin or hell. Christian prayers are not incantations that have some sort of magical effect. Prayer is worship and speaking directly to your Creator. A prayer without faith is just words without meaning.

The prayer that is often referred to as a sinner’s prayer is a template for praying a prayer of declaration of faith in Jesus as your Savior. Paul the apostle, in all of his teaching, reiterates over and over in numerous ways how it is faith in Jesus that saves (1 Corinthians 1:18). The typical sinner’s prayer includes words of acknowledgment of sin and asking for forgiveness. The prayer usually has a phrase declaring that the one saying the prayer is “repenting” of their sins.

Being sorry for past offenses (sins) against God is appropriate when praying this prayer. However, repentance means more to turn away from—to think differently. It is one thing to be sorry for your sins, but it is another thing to abandon the behaviors that lead to sin and to live a life of service unto God.  In Romans 12:1 Paul tells us that Christians should present their bodies as a living sacrifice and that it is our “reasonable” service. That means turning over yourself to full service to the perfect will of God. In Romans 12:2 Paul lets us know that we are not supposed to be “conformed to this world” but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

The prayer is written or recited in slightly differing versions. Some are more brief than others. In most live services where an altar call for salvation is given, the preacher leads new believers in a prayer they recite word for word as the preacher prays. I have never seen a preacher read from a printed prayer of salvation at an altar call for salvation. Even though there are different written versions, and each speaker leading people in a prayer of faith uses different words, the prayer follows a pattern.

Before a prayer of salvation is prayed, people hear the Gospel message preached. Understand that all believers in Christ are preachers of the Gospel message (Mark 16:15-16 Romans 10:13-14). Gospel means “good news,” and the good news is that we can be saved. By default the spirit of mankind knows of their lost state and that there is something to be saved from (Romans 1:18-20). God, the Father, draws human beings unto faith in Christ (John 6:44), and his Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin (John 16:8).

When that spark of faith rises up to put faith in Jesus for salvation, a prayer declaring it is usually what is next. And the first part of the prayer that follows hearing the Gospel includes recognition of being lost or separated from God, that there is something to be saved from. The second part has words that declare sorrow for a lifetime of sin along with a statement of repentance. Repentance simply means turning away, so whether the words “I repent” or other words that mean the same thing are said, fundamentally the person saying the prayer is declaring intent to abandon sin and turn to God to receive salvation through faith in Jesus.

The third part should include words spoken in faith—in belief—that this is only possible through what Jesus has done on the cross. Namely, that he died paying the penalty for the sins of the person praying, and that three days later he rose again from the dead. It is based on Romans 10:9-10. The last part of the prayer is the declaration in faith in Jesus as their Savior. It is this faith in the free gift of grace that is the catalyst for the transformation (Ephesians 2:8-9). The prayer usually has words of invitation for Jesus to come into the person’s heart who is making the prayer. Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:20 correlate with this part of the prayer.

It must be clearly understood that the prayer is not an incantation that causes something to happen to save a lost person. God forbid such a thought arise in the minds or hearts of those praying this prayer. However, I have seen situations where some people think it is the recitation of the words of an actual prayer that activates their salvation.

Paul is quite clear in Romans 10:9-10 where he says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” The heart is the inner person where the thoughts and feelings reside.  Not the organ that is pumping blood throughout your cardiovascular system. This inner person—your living spirit—is where the initial faith begins. The spirit that is the person doing the praying takes control of the mind of flesh and accepts the fact of what Jesus said in John 14:6.
The guilt and judgment of sin is satisfied instantly through faith in the sacrifice Jesus made by shedding his blood. I am referring to the courtroom kind of guilt here, not the shame kind of guilt that we should also have when repentance is declared in prayer. We are guilty of our sins against God in the same manner as criminals who commit crimes worthy of death are guilty and deserve punishment. Apprehended criminals who are guilty of crimes eventually stand before judges who pass judgment of guilt along with imposing a sentence—a penalty that must be paid for crimes.

Though criminals who violate the laws and statutes of man may evade the discovery of their guilt, as well as the judgment and penalties of human courts, no one escapes standing before and facing the eternal judgment of God. The bible is clear in Hebrews 9:27 that it is appointed unto men to die and then face judgement. We can run from God for a lifetime in our flesh, but we cannot escape the eternal nature all of us have been granted. Some will enjoy eternal life with God, and others will be separated in a place of punishment referred to as the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).

Some who pray the so-called “sinner’s prayer” are concerned over whether they said the right words or believed strong enough to be saved. Permit me to tell you what really happens at the time that prayer is said. If you have prayed such a prayer in simple faith, you escaped a death sentence! You had to be drawn by God to salvation to even have an inkling of accepting the free gift in the first place.

The Bible is clear that the wages or payment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Then those who have not accepted God’s free gift of eternal life with him face the second death in judgment.  The who of what you really are is more than your physical body. There is a thinking, feeling, conscious eternal you that continues on uninterrupted even after you leave your physical body. Spiritual death is total separation from God in a place of punishment. Initially it is a literal hell, finally to be the lake of fire when death and hell itself are cast into it (Revelation 2:11 Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:14 Revelation 21:8).

Imagine for a moment you committed a crime in human society that has a death sentence. You know you did it, and you are hoping you will not get caught. Then you do get caught and hope the judge will find you not guilty, or at least only give you a life sentence for your crime that is worthy of death. However, the rules of this court are never corrupt, nor does this judge ever fail to judge correctly. There is no getting away from the guilt due to a legal technicality, nor is there hope of a savvy lawyer poking holes in spotty testimonies of  eyewitnesses. This judge happens to know everything about you from before you even began to form inside your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). In fact, this judge spoke you into existence (John 1:1-5)!

With nothing you ever did or failed to do being hidden from this judge, and no way out of the guilt of the crimes that come with a death sentence, what is your hope? It is one that is hard to imagine because of the sacrifice involved. The rules require payment for the crimes. There is no getting around that. There is no selective enforcement in this court. No earthly treasure can buy you a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict. You are guilty, and that is final.

The penalty is death, and it must be paid. However, this perfect judge who has never made a mistake about the guilt of a single person who will ever stand before him has, from the beginning, intended to provide a way for the guilty to have a second chance. Actually, second chance does not quite explain it. No, this judge actually wants the guilty to be made as new (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

It turns out this perfect judge is actually the one who made you. He also happens to love you to an unimaginable degree. So much does he love you that he paid the penalty for your crimes—your sins—for you. Now he is only asking that you believe that he is offering that saving option to you to escape the death sentence, and to willingly receive it with an honest intent to turn away from the life of crime that brings judgment.

He offers this saving option to every criminal—every human being. Unfortunately, there are some who love their lives of crime so much that they choose to live in them all the way up to the point when judgment is final and the penalty is carried out. Others are under the false impression that the judge will accept other things in payment for their crimes. Crimes that have been fully declared in this Holy Judge’s Word that death is the penalty.

There are some who are wrongly convinced that at the moment when judgment is meted out the judge will weigh the good things done in life against the crimes, and will waive the penalty if the good things offset the bad things. However, the Judge has already declared that all are under sin (Galatians 3:22 Romans 3:23). And with everyone guilty, the wages, or payment, for sin will be paid, and that payment is a penalty of death—separation from God in a place of punishment (Romans 6:23).

The best sinner’s prayer is one spoken from the heart. The confession with the mouth is valid even with those who cannot speak. It is just a declaration that comes forth on the outside of what is happening on the inside of the person. Those who can speak should pray out loud. Those who cannot speak are still heard and acknowledged by God. Romans 10:10 reveals that the sequence begins on the inside. Faith begins internally at the level of your spirit. The confession or declaration comes out clearly even if the person praying the sinner’s prayer has no mouth to speak.

In other words, the sinner’s prayer does not start from the outside of man and penetrate to the inside. No, the sinner’s prayer begins in the spirit of each and every one of us who confess that Jesus is the Christ, and then comes out of us in word, deed, action and our very lives. So, do not fret over whether or not the prayer of salvation you prayed was sufficient to save you. The wording of the prayer was never going to save you anyway. It is truly as simple as faith and confession of that faith in Christ with repentance (turning away from sin). It is your faith in Jesus applied daily that is the mark of grace on your life (Matthew 10:22 Matthew 7:20-21).

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Be Careful Of Using Worldly Examples

I heard someone using a parody of “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. I saw the parody video, and it was actually appropriate in content for the biblical lesson. The parody did not contain any profanity like the original lyrics of the song contains.  The original, unless I am missing something, is making reference to larger backsides and other anatomy on girls who are plus size, and how that is preferable to that of “skinny” girls. The song contains two instances of outright profanity. On Facebook I saw a picture of a sports car with a wide rear profile, and it had text over the picture saying, “It’s all about that bass.” So, I would say the meaning is obvious.

Does the song encourage larger females to not be ashamed of their bodies? Yes, it does. Should females who are larger than what society might consider the norm be ashamed? I give an unequivocal no as an answer to that question. Still, would I recommend Meghan Trainor’s song to be used as a teaching tool in any way for our daughters? Absolutely not. Not even a parody because it intimates an approval of the original.

The song melody is really catchy. It is no wonder it is so popular. I can hear elements in the structure of the song that have made other songs very popular. As an aside, music is mathematical, and certain elements of popular tunes have a lot in common. Anyway, using even a parody of this catchy song is not something I would recommend. Why? Well, our witness to the world is fragile. People who do not yet know Jesus as their Savior continually look for reasons and examples of why there is no need to repent—no need to change. By repent I mean to think differently. That is, to change the way we think and act. Repentance is a key factor after putting faith in Jesus for Salvation. In Luke 6:46 Jesus himself said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

Is it wrong to use a worldly reference in teaching the Gospel? No, it is not. Even Paul referred to the Cretan poet Epimenides in Titus 1:12. I am just advising believers and teachers to be careful when doing it. Consider how what you use in teaching will be received, interpreted or acted upon. Do not get me wrong. Of course it is okay to point out worldly things that are ungodly, using the examples of worldly behavior and even examples of the worst depravity. Of course, when using such examples it is often necessary to carefully choose the words used.  What I  am referring to is using things that may not be all that innocent or benign to make a more godly point even if the examples have been altered in parody. In other words, avoid letting anything you use in teaching the Gospel be used or interpreted as a license to yield to the flesh.

What do you think? I invite your comments.

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Make A Joyful Noise!

“To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.”
Psalms 66:1-2

How many times have you heard about singing  in church that we should be singing whether we have great voices or not? We probably hear someone encourage us to just make a joyful noise unto the Lord quite often. Many have probably heard it said in a humorous way when someone missed a note or was singing way off key. But what does it really mean? I heard a worship team member at a church tell me how they make a joyful noise. They did not have great confidence in their ability to sing.

The word “joyful noise” is translated from the Hebrew word rûa‛ pronounced roo-ah’. The Strong’s Lexicon defines it as:

“A primitive root; to mar (especially by breaking); figuratively to split the ears (with sound), that is, shout (for alarm or joy): – blow an alarm, cry (alarm, aloud, out), destroy, make a joyful noise, smart, shout (for joy), sound an alarm, triumph.”

I really like that part about splitting the ears. I have a hard time singing out loudly, especially when the song is not in a comfortable key for me. When I am alone I can belt out all kinds of tunes. I will admit that I am even embarrassed to purposely sing in front of my wife. However, I make up goofy songs all the time and sing them. They are usually about poking fun at something. Our two dogs are often targets of my little ditties. If it just me and the dogs at home, I will sing loudly. The dogs just look at me funny.

Then there are the times my wife will put me on the spot to remind her how a serious song goes and I just cannot find my voice. On top of that, I have a serious problem with my voice. I can only talk or sing for a few minutes before I get a bad pain in my throat. I begin to cough and then my voice is not right for several hours.

Up until I actually saw the definition of “joyful noise” I pretty much thought it best to leave the singing to those who can do it well. After all, who wants to be the object of a sideways look or that closing of eyes so tightly you know the person is trying to close their ears by closing their eyes. It is the same face people make when one runs their nails down a blackboard. Yes! That one you just made!

Taking a close look at the definition has me thinking that maybe all the good singers I have heard in my life who sing praises unto the Lord have been doing it all wrong. Okay, I’m kidding. Of course the Lord honors praises sung to him that come from the lips of those who have practiced and learned to sing well. Those who sing praise in that manner are a joy to us and the Lord. However, the truth of the matter is that the singer who in his heart is truly praising God is heard by the Lord as if his voice were perfect.

Think about it. The voice we have is made of flesh. The vocal chords in the voice box in your throat are just human tissue. The lungs that force the air over those vocal chords are just flesh. The spiritual being (YOU) who is taking control and driving that flesh to live out Godly purpose is the part that will remain. It is the YOU that will go to be with the Lord one day. It is the YOU that will be clothed upon with a new body one day.

Regardless of the the ability or disability we have in the voice of flesh, we should all stand and make that joyful noise. Go ahead . . . Split some ears!

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Fear

Fear is just plain awful. I really cannot think of a better word to describe it. As believers in Jesus for our salvation, we know that fear is not of God. The apostle Paul tells young pastor Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The Greek word that “fear” is translated from in this verse seems to be related more to timidness as opposed to other instances in the New Testament that use “phobos” and “phobeo,” which are defined to be associated with alarm or fright.

Still, who wants to be timid in the service of God? I’m talking about fear that has its root in the wiles of that devil who is our enemy. The one who is seeking to steal from us, kill us and utterly destroy us by attempting to cause us to lose our faith (John 10:10). Fear is oppressive. It starts small and builds like the sound of applause. One person in an audience who starts clapping gets another to begin and soon a thunderous sound is heard. Fear starts out with an initial thought or feeling, and can build until it cripples our minds, bodies and spiritual lives.

Most fears are not rational either. They are just a whisper of the enemy who is trying to get us to believe something that God has not said. Fear can be based on potential or possibility, but the enemy is the one speaking and not God. For example, recently I was very afraid of surgery to remove my gallbladder. I knew I was saved, and that I have an eternity with God. However, I feared everything from having a guy with a knife cut into me while I was asleep to leaving my wife behind all alone.

That initial fear has given rise to my enemy trying to pound me with fear lately. I am telling it here because I am finding out I am not alone in experiencing this evil onslaught. The spiritual attack from our enemy on the church has been intense for some time now. I take it as an indication of God weeding out the church and strengthening the faithful who remain. Still, going through this valley is tough on us all.

Brother Frank Menhart Jr. told me that a verse he quoted when he was facing a fearful time reminded him of the truth that the devil is a liar. He said he would stand on the truth of  John 8:44 where Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

Fear is all about our enemy lying to us. He is desperate to get us to not live the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10). His goal is to get us to turn our backs on our faith in Christ. I know what fear feels like. I know what it can do to our bodies and our minds, and how it can wreak havoc in our spiritual lives.

We have to determine in ourselves to not fear a defeated enemy whose judgment has already been established. One day we will look on our defeated enemy and be amazed that we were ever afraid (Isaiah 14:12-18). We have to determine to give proper fear toward God understanding that it is not Satan, the world or any man that determines what happens to us, it is God (Luke 12:4-7).

Let us pray each other through these times so that we can be prepared to be a shining light to the lost.

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Souvenirs

Gift Box gift shop in Olcott Beach, New York. Photo Copyright © 2013 AldersonArts.

Gift Box gift shop in Olcott Beach, New York. Photo Copyright © 2013 AldersonArts.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines souvenir as “something that serves as a reminder.”

In the fall of 2012 I was privileged to be able to go on a trip to Olcott, New York. We stayed in a cottage next to the Newfane Marina. I was within a short walk of Lake Ontario. My father-in-law paid for the trip, and it was a real blessing to be able to go. He and some friends were going for the fishing, and I was going for the opportunity to take some photos.

This photo is of the Gift Box souvenir gift shop not far from where we were staying. A short walk down over the hill and you are face to face with the grandeur of Lake Ontario looking from New York into Canada. I also got to see Niagara Falls for the first time in my life. I really enjoyed the trip, and the souvenirs I brought back were photos like this one and good memories.

Most souvenirs from trips are small items such as a keychain or the ever present snow globe that is probably sold in gifts shops around the world. Souvenirs most often get put away, and it may be years before they are seen again. When we do run across an old souvenir from a long ago trip, fond memories come flooding back.

We remember the sights, the smells, the laughter and all of the good times. However, there are other events in our lives that we take souvenirs from that are not so pleasant. We can hang onto reminders of our past. After all, they are memories no matter if they are unpleasant.

The thing is that our enemy really likes to take any opportunity that he can to dig up those old souvenirs from wounds or sins of long ago. He wants to build offense and fear, and he also wants to make us feel worthless. When he tries to do that, keep in mind what Jesus said in John 10:10. Also, remember what Jesus said about Satan being a liar in John 8:44. Let Psalms 103:12 be a comfort to you.

You may not be able to forget the past, and maybe even some unsaved friends are more than willing to remind you of it. However, none of those old souvenirs are yours anymore. Jesus paid the price for all of them on the cross. Remember what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17 about you being a new creation in Christ!

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What Will You Do With Your Will?

Scripture records that Satan five times declared what he was going to do, and it got him cast out of heaven. In Isaiah 14:12-17 we read that he said:

1. I will ascend into heaven . . .
2. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . .
3. I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north . . .
4. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds . . .
5. I will be like the most High.

Jesus set the perfect example when he said in the Garden at Gethsemane ” . . .[N]evertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Samuel said, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22 NIV).

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