WHERE TO BEGIN
In my first “Why God?!” article (Why God? – The Right Place To Start!), I noted that this question typically, comes with crying out over hearing of some horrendously evil act in the world or a natural disaster or a friend’s life-threatening illness or a family member’s untimely death or some other form of suffering. I went on to offer encouragement that looking to The Creator is the right place to start in seeking answers to such questions and that He gives us the reassurance of His loving intentions.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
– Jeremiah 29:11
THE PATH TO TAKE
With the second article in this series (Why God? – The Right Way To Go), I admitted that my honest answer to “Why God?!” questions about evil and suffering in the world is, “I do not know.” However, I pointed out that all the related answers we really need can be found in God’s Word. And, I indicated that in looking for these answers it’s important to start with the understanding that “… from the beginning it was not so.”
Tragically, it was the choice man made with the ability God gave us to love and specifically, the free will He gave us to decide whether to love or not to love that led to evil and suffering coming into His creation. With that understood, I drew attention to the fact that, though it was beyond us to recover from what is commonly known as “the fall of man”, even in His condemnation of that first choice of man, He revealed that He had prepared a path to redemption. Detailing that path and where it leads is what I have in mind with this, the last in my series of “Why God?!” articles. Continue reading
A few months ago, I heard Pastor Dave Rolph start his Sunday morning teaching on Matthew 7-1:6 with an anecdote about people watching. Comments in his opening remarks included: “People watching. It’s fun. It’s really easy to read people and categorize them. But sometimes you can be really wrong.” To illustrate this, he told the following story:
One Sunday morning, when he was an Assistant Pastor at another church and he was with a group of Pastors who had gathered to count the Offering, he started talking about, Pastor Don, a widower on staff who had a new girlfriend. Other Pastors talked about how beautiful she was but Dave said, “Yeah, you know, but there’s something weird about her. The way she looks at you is kind of strange. You ever notice they always sit on the front row, like they just want to be seen? But the creepiest thing is, you guys, if you notice, when you’re up there praying at the pulpit, she starts to bow her head and then she just stares at you. She’s like obsessed with you the whole time you’re praying and then, right at the end of the prayer, she bows her head like she had her head bowed the whole time. That’s just weird.” Then, a couple of the other Pastors joined in agreement, saying, “Yeah, that’s strange!” Shortly after that, Pastor Don arrived to help with the counting. Of course, the other Pastors changed the subject and as they did that, Don mentioned, “My girlfriend, Leslie, because she’s deaf, …” With that, of course, the gossiping Pastors realized, as Pastor Dave said, “She sits on the front row because she reads lips! She stares at you while you’re praying because she’s reading your lips and she looks kind of funny because she’s just intently reading what it is that you’re trying to say.” Continue reading
LIVE IN HARMONY
This past week, I got to spend a little time with a First Grade Teacher who is also one of my very favorite people. She was teaching our class to join her class in singing and signing a song called The World Is A Rainbow. This was in preparation for an assembly that, I assumed, was related to the upcoming Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although it would be an oversimplification (and somewhat outdated) for me to say that her purpose in this was to teach racial harmony, that was certainly a part of what she had in mind.
My first lesson in racial harmony came when I was First-Grade-aged or younger and it took place in church, not in school. Then, the song we sang was entitled Jesus Loves The Little Children. As I thought of these differences in experiences between the kids of today and the kids of my day, that led me to consider the ramifications.
ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD?! Continue reading
Filed under Christians, Church Issues, community, Culture, diversity, Education, faith, Family, God, Jesus, Love, race, religion, society
In the recent controversy related to Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, there were two major learning opportunities (one for each of the opposing sides on this issue) that seemed to be completely overlooked. I know, considering the Second-Coming-level of attention this was given, it’s hard to believe that even the slightest detail could have been missed. However, particularly with the reactions I got to my stated position on the matter, I did see a couple of openings for teachable moments that I thought, if utilized, could result in a very meaningful silver lining coming out of this brouhaha. So, now that A&E has reversed their original decision, before the dust completely settles, I want to explore these learning opportunities, in hopes of capturing the gain they may hold.
LESSONS FOR ROBERTSON’S OPPONENTS
One of the first related discussions I heard was among the panel members on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program, the Kelly file. Their focus was on the comments made by Phil Robertson, in the GQ article entitled “What the Duck?” The apparent anti-Robertson participant was Bernard Whitman, who described himself as a double minority, “… gay and Jewish.” Hate was the word he used to sum up his views on Robertson’s comments related to homosexuality in the article. He, also, said that the behavior exhibited by Robertson in the article was not Christian. Neither of Whitman’s stated positions rang true with me. I had read the GQ article word for word and I couldn’t see how anyone could come away from reading it with a sense of hatred on Robertson’s part unless they went into their reading looking for something to interpret as offensive. And, I think my take on this is soundly supported by the fact that the article’s Writer, Drew Magary, doesn’t give even the slightest hint that there was hatefulness in Robertson’s words and behavior, though Magary wasn’t in complete agreement with Robertson’s views. Furthermore, though I suspect Whitman may only be Jewish ethnically, even if he is a devout practitioner of the Jewish faith, I don’t see him as having authority to define what is Christian behavior and what isn’t. Continue reading
When my Wife and I approached the entrance to Macy’s, in making our first visit to the local mall for the 2013 Christmas-shopping season, something seemed to be missing. As we got closer, I recognized what it was. A Salvation Army Volunteer was present, along with his kettle for donations, but there was no sound of bell-ringing. With our arrival, the volunteer opened a door, wished us a Merry Christmas and offered an apology, saying, “I’m sorry there’s no ringing, someone stole my bell.” With that, I shook my head and said, “Someone stole your bell?!” and I thought, “What has become of the Christmas spirit?!”
Upon completion of that Christmas-shopping outing, we found ourselves at that same Macy’s doorway. But now, as we neared that exit, we could hear the distinctive sound of a bell ringing. As we stepped outside, I looked at the Salvation Army Volunteer and said, “Great! I see you got your bell back.” His reply was, “No, another shopper went in and bought this for me.” To that, I said, “No kidding?! That’s wonderful!” and I thought, “There it is, there’s the Christmas spirit!”
What a heart warming experience that was?! As we drove home, though, I found that my happiness over the bell-ringer event was becoming mixed with feelings of guilt, as I considered, “Where was the Christmas spirit in me? Why hadn’t I thought to get a replacement for the Salvation Army Volunteer’s stolen bell?” In order to answer these questions, I realized that I needed to reexamine the question, “What is the Christmas spirit?” Continue reading
What comes to mind for you when you hear the name Dick Butkus? Immediately, I think along the lines of the caption on this Sports Illustrated cover … “Dick Butkus of the Bears – The most feared man in the game (NFL Football)”. No doubt, many others (especially those of my generation) share that same first thought. And, there’s ample justification for that line of thinking. The 6 ft 3 in, 245 lb Butkus, was known as one of the most feared and intimidating linebackers during his nine years as a player for the Chicago Bears.
Next, you may think of Dick Butkus as a celebrity endorser and actor. That’s my next thought too. And, here too, there’s plenty of good reason for thinking that way. The “most feared man in the game” persona of this Pro Football Hall of Fame member has been very effective in promoting brand names, from his Miller Lite commercials with Bubba Smith to his “I’m sorry, Dick Butkus” spots for FedEx. And, Butkus has had numerous roles on TV and in the movies. He was even the namesake for Rocky’s English Mastiff, in both the Rocky and Rocky II movies.
So, if you met him today, wouldn’t you expect to meet a somewhat older version of the Dick Butkus you’ve come to know about over the years? That is, an imposing figure who still lives in his hometown, Chicago, whose time is mostly spent enjoying the leisure activities of retirement, along with some dabbling in the worlds of sports and entertainment. That’s what I thought when my Wife, Ruth and I had the pleasure of meeting him recently at a MarriageTeam Tailgate Party & Auction. I will say that the qualities I expected to find in his makeup all seemed to be present and undiminished. However, I also got to start becoming acquainted with some dimensions of the man that were a pleasant surprise. One of these is a campaign he started, called Play Clean™. It’s a program that encourages teens to “train hard, eat well, and play with attitude”, instead of resorting to illegal steroids. His willingness to take this stand against steroids caused USA Today to comment that Butkus may have a greater impact on the game in his 60s (now 70s) than he did playing in his 20s. Continue reading
Filed under character, commitment, community, Culture, entertainment, faith, Family, ideals, Love, Making a Difference, Marriage, society, Sports, Substance Abuse, values
Ronald Ray Cox, a friend from the time of my birth, passed from life on Earth to life in eternity at about 8:32 a.m. (EST), October 19, 2013. Knowing that, it’s likely for you to think that I’m writing this to honor my friend and to tell you wonderful stories from a relationship that stretched out over nearly 70 years. Though I do want to honor my old friend, since there was a gap in our relationship from the time we finished college until about five months prior to Ron’s passing, when he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, I don’t have those nearly 70 years’ worth of stories to share. Thankfully, I do have the story to share of how I was blessed in reconnecting with Ron at the end of his life and getting to witness how he and his Wife, Kim, embraced God and each other through their final season together.
Filed under Bible, Christianity, Christians, church, faith, Family, Friends, God, Heaven, Jesus, Love, Marriage, religion, Salvation, Sin