Do People Matter: Part 1

Earlier this year there was a video that hit the internet of a group of middle school students verbally abusing and berated a 68 year old bus monitor for over 10 minutes. What a horrific video! Words that come to mind about this video are atrocity, mean spirited, evil, cruel, crude, and anything but funny. (Here is the video: WARNING strong language)

We are seeing more and more things like this happen.  Last October in China there was a toddler that had wondered out into a city side street as her mother was in another building washing clothes. This toddler was hit and ran over by a van and if this isn’t bad enough 18 people whether by foot or vehicle passed by her including another truck that ran over her again. I thought about showing one or both of these videos but it is far too graphic. (Here is the edited video)

Another example is Black Friday in 2008 in New York at a Walmart. As the store was about to open at 5am the crowds broke down the store doors trampling a store employee. Hundreds of people stepped over, around and on the 34-year-old worker as they rushed into the store. It is reported by one shopper that “Nobody was trying to help him, they were rushing in the store, rushing, rushing, rushing.”

What is happening? Do people even matter? If they do why are people so callous and indifferent to other’s suffering?

Do people matter?

What do you think? Why are people so callous and indifferent to other’s sufferings?

 

Hacking Up A Lung

Over the past several days I have been ‘hacking up a lung’. I have coughed and coughed and coughed. I have felt bad. I have even slept a night on the couch to prevent my wife from ‘hacking up a lung’.
We all know that it is miserable to be sick. You feel bad, you can’t do the things you want to be doing or need to be doing, and you just don’t feel like yourself. We’ve all been there, we’ve all moaned and groaned about being sick, and we’ve all wished for those better days of not ‘hacking up a lung’.
Yet it is through days such as these I believe we can relearn two valuable lessons.
First, we learn the value of health. So often we take our health for granted. We feel good so we don’t really think about it, yet when we don’t feel up to par it reminds us of the value of our health. It reminds us that it’s great to feel great. It reminds us of our need to take care of ourselves when it comes to our health. Now I’m not a health nut advocating a stringent diet and exercise plan. What I’m suggesting is do we generally eat in a manner that we are health conscience, and do we generally keep ourselves active in our lifestyle being up and about and moving. Here is my question for you, “Do you consider your health a blessing or is it something you take for granted.”
Second, we learn the value of time. So often we take time for granted. We waste whole days doing nothing. Now please here me, I believe we need down days to recuperate from a busy week or season in our life, yet what I’m speaking of is not taking advantage of the time allotted to us. Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV) states, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Think about this, “Do you take advantage of the time given to you or do you find yourself wasting time?”
While I may not be 100% and I hate being sick, I am reminded of these lessons of health and time. My hope is without being sick that we would be reminded constantly of these lessons.

Welcome????

Who should be welcome at church? Does one have to have the ‘right’ clothes? Does one have to have the ‘right’ look and that includes tattoos or piercings? Does one have to have the ‘right’ Bible? Does one have to have the ‘right’ beliefs? Does one have to live the ‘right’ life? I wonder who should be welcome at church?

I’ve been thinking about such questions as I have been contemplating the traditional church. Yes there are some traditional churches that are making some great strides in being relevant both in method and culture in today’s world. I applaud these churches for seeing people as individuals who are desperately need the love and salvation of Christ. I applaud these churches for seeing that the world is changing in relation to customs, dress level, and cultural taboos and being sensitive to these culture changes. Now, I am in no way advocating for being footloose and fancy free with the gospel message, yet what I am advocating for is being sensitive to the culture in relation to the methods we as the church uses in order to be the salt and light to the community and world in which it ministers.

So who should be welcome at church? The Bible answers this questions in this way, “Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. ‘What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?’ Jesus, overhearing, shot back, ‘Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders (Matthew 9:10-13 The Message).’” In other words everyone should be welcome, whether this be the three piece suit guys with the hair that is just perfect, the person in the blue jeans, the person with body piercings, or the person with the million tattoos. Further this also includes those who are black, yellow, white, or even polka-dotted. All are welcome!

Think about this verse whenever someone different shows up at your church, “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts (James 2:1-4 NIV)?”

So here is my question for you. Who is welcome at your church? While no one may voice it but who isn’t welcome at your church? Why? Is this Biblical?

Dealing with the Horrific

Nearly a week ago we woke up to the horrific news of another indiscriminate murdering rampage in Aurora, Colorado as patrons of all ages crowded into the movie theater for the premier of the newbox office block buster, The Dark Knight Rises. I remember waking up in horror as the news spread of the dozens of individuals shot and a number killed. I remember asking the questions. Why does something so awful happen? What could drive someone to such heinous behavior?

These questions haunt us as we struggle to live in a world that seems be coming apart at the seams. In another example it wasn’t that long ago that egregious video of the middle school students taunted and cursed unrelenting at a bus monitor for no other reason that to put a video on Youtube. What do we do in situations such as this? How do we respond? How do we cope?

Before we jump into questions such as these it must be said there is no doubt that evil exist in the world. Not all people have good intentions, in fact there are some that have evil intentions. We see evil in this latest murdering rampage. We see evil sense beatings. We see evil monsters in the like of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, or Pol Pot. Simply put evil exist and there are some who do evil things.

Some people in the face of such evil say they can not believe in a loving God. I would argue that it is because of such evil that we must believe in a loving God. For better or worse God gives us the choice between good and evil. We see this in the beginning in the garden as God gave the first man and woman a choice.  Genesis 2:15-17 states, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die (NASB).” God did not create us without a will. God did not create us to be automatons.

Now back to the original questions. What do we do in situations such as these? I see we have three choices. First, we can put our heads in the sand and pretend it didn’t happen. For the record this response doesn’t help matters, even if we pretend it didn’t happen it still did. Second, we humanity and more specifically believers can go hide in the corner, shrink down into a fetal position, and suck our thumbs. In other words we can see it, isolate ourselves, and be too scared to say anything. To be honest this has been our general modus operandi and we see where this has taken us. There must be a different way to respond. There must be something better than to be frozen in fear as a deer in the headlights.

The third way we can respond is to first recognize evil for what it is. These types of events don’t happen without reason. Evil exist. We must also respond with courage. We mustn’t stand around and just let things happen around us. We must step up and speak out. Edmund Burke once stated, “Evil prevails when good men do nothing.” How long will we see evil and just walk by as if nothing is happening?

The final question is how do we cope in situations such as these? Psalm 16:1 states, “Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You (NASB).” I want to encourage you my friend cope in situations such as these by taking refuge in the Lord. Find your hope, strength, and courage in the Lord. Let’s be honest with ourselves, if we try to find refuge, hope, strength, and courage in anyone or anything else, they or it will ultimately fail you. Yet, when you find refuge, hope, strength, and courage He will never fail you.

Hope and Blessings of a Birthday

Today is a birthday. Happy Birthday to me! Another year in the books and another year older, this can be depressing or hopeful. Which shall it be?

For some birthday’s are depressing because it serves as a reminder that they are aging. For some a birthday is depressing because it is a reminder of where they wanted to be in life by that particular age and where they truly are in life. Maybe this is in their career of were they wanted to be at a certain place by age ___. Maybe this is in their personal/family life were they wanted to be done with school or started a family by age ___.

Yet for some a birthday is uplifting. They see it as a reminder of the hope and blessings they have in life. They see it as another chapter in the exciting story of life.

I choose to see it as a reminder of the hope and blessings I have in life. I choose to see it as another chapter in an exciting story of life. I know all too well that every chapter in life doesn’t end with “And they lived happily ever after,” unfortunately I have been there and done that. You and I are going to have seasons in our life where things don’t seem to go as planned. There will be those times in life where tragedy strikes. We are not promised that every chapter in the story of life will end on a high note. Yet, the truth is that the chapters that don’t end with ‘happily ever after’ are chapters that simply sets up the next chapter to be great.

The choice is yours, how will you choose to see a birthday? Depressing or hopeful? I choose to see a birthday as hopeful. I choose to see a birthday with hope because of the hope I have in the Lord Jesus Christ. What about you?

Psalm 71:5- “For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.”

Save Your Work

I can hear the resounding repetition of the words, “Save your work!!!!,” ringing in my head. I’ve heard it from teachers and professors. I’ve heard it from professionals. I’ve heard it from those who didn’t heed the words, “Save your work!!!!” If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a million times. In fact I’m sure you too have heard this phrase a million times as well.

I must say that I have always done a great job of backing up my papers, sermons, and the like with the exception of this blog. I did NOT ‘save my work!’ To my utter dismay I didn’t heed the phrase I had heard so often.

On Sunday when I was loading my sermon manuscript to the blog, WordPress wanted me to do an update. Unfortunately, I did not do an backup before completing the update. To further complicate matters, when I write these blogs I typically type them straight into the blog instead of typing them in pages or word and then transferring them to the blog. Because of this I have lost nearly all my work…sigh. (Can you envision the tears of heartache flowing?)

What I do have saved elsewhere in rough form I will work to repost, especially the series on grieving, yet the vast majority of the post are forever lost. So I conclude with this challenge for both you and I, “Save your work!”