Archive for February, 2014

Why Can’t We Just…

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

…love each other? Today as I walked I listened to a podcast interview between folks in support and against the proposed Arizona law that would allow business owners, as long as they assert their religious beliefs, to deny service to gay and lesbian customers. I’m in a bit over my head because I’m not really sure what the law does or does not do. But after listening for an hour, I can see both sides of the issue. On the one hand, I don’t think it is right for a business that serves the public to refuse to serve any law abiding customer based on race, creed, nationality, color or sexual orientation. On the other hand, with a world full of options, why demand to be served by the few that will refuse your money simply to prove a point? I learned many years ago that for me life is too short to fight to stay where I was not wanted, even if I could have won the fight.

I often serve people whom I do not approve of the way they choose to live their lives. As a pastor that goes with the territory. I have found that some of the folks that I initially thought were the most despicable were actually good and honorable people. After I got to know some of them, it occurred to me that I much preferred their company to some of the others whom only appeared to be good and honorable. For me, in these kinds of issues I have no question.  Jesus would serve anyone whom stood before him. I am sure He did not approve of the woman caught in adultery, but He sure did love her.  One of the great problems today is that we are consumed with “my rights”. On the other hand many of us claim to be saved by the One Who gave up all of His for us. I find that paradox puzzling.

Something to think about

No Wiggle Room

Monday, February 17th, 2014

The USA Today carried the remarkable story of Rosaria Bankundiye and Saveri Nemeye neighbors in the village of Mbyo in Rwanda. The bottom line of the story is that sixteen years ago Saveri along with others of his genocidaires murdered Rosaria’s entire family and left her for dead; yet, today they live side by side and Rosaria has forgiven him. After his release from prison Saveri sought out Rosaria seeking her forgiveness. Astonishingly his request was granted! The way Rosaria saw it she and the murderer shared a common connection. Calling herself a sinner too, she considers forgiveness not as an option but as a requirement. In our “get even”, “tit for tat” culture most will find her forgiveness mind-bogglingly incredible. But the story doesn’t stop with the “required” forgiveness. No, Rosaria has gone the extra several miles that most would not even consider. Today Rosaria and Saveri live as graciously interactive neighbors in complete reconciliation.

This year I am celebrating twenty-four years of ministry. Over those years I’ve counseled countless people who have been abused, neglected, betrayed, maligned, ignored, abandoned, cheated and double-crossed among multiple other wrongs. What I have observed is that folks who have come to the point of forgiving their offender continue to thrive despite the offense; whereas, those that refuse forgiveness set themselves out on a self-imposed descent into the black, hopeless abyss of deterioration, destruction and depression.

When I was young I figured that the rules in the Bible were put there to take the fun out of life. Today, as a survivor myself, I know that they are put there to afford us the greatest opportunity for the life we’ve always wanted.  Jesus clearly taught without any wiggle room whatsoever that we are to forgive anyone and everyone who offends us — no asterisks, no footnotes, and no disclaimers. Unless you have forgiven everybody, then Jesus is not Lord of your life. You are! Who are you allowing to control your life by withholding your forgiveness?

Something to think about.

More OJ

Friday, February 14th, 2014

A few years back Hudson, our grandson, was over for breakfast and he was drinking orange juice out of one of those Sippy Cups.  After drinking just a little he said, “More orange juice”.  Cathy explained to him that his cup was still full and that he would first have to finish what he already had.

Immediately, he turned the cup up and chugged it like a pledge during rush week.  Guzzling OJ from a Sippy Cup takes quite a bit of effort. Those flow holes are really small you know! With a great sucking noise and without pausing to breathe or to take time to enjoy what he already had in his hands, Hudson determinedly sucked his cup dry.  Before the last trickle of juice cleared his throat, he again said “More orange juice”. More, more, more —- the mantra of humanity from the cradle to the grave. Surely it is preloaded into our genes.

We all want a bit more don’t we? Perhaps most of the time, like Hudson, we don’t need more.  Our cup is full, yet we still crave more. So we embark on an endless journey to the Land of More, clinging to the illusion that if we can get just a little more we will surely be satisfied. Sadly, as we relentlessly reach out for more, the result is often considerably less —- less in our relationships, less in our quality of life and less in God’s plan and purpose for each of us. All too often our memories will recall times along our journeys of life when we chugged the Sippy Cup of more with great gusto, but what we actually ended up with was a great deal less.

Something to Think About

Who Would Have Ever Thought?

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

As usual we were on our way to the “Y” just before 5 PM.  As we crested the hill behind Publix, we saw the black smoke soaring high into the late afternoon sky. “Somebody’s house is on fire,” I thought. As we turned into the driveway of the Bellevue YMCA we saw the flames. They were not regular flames and we could tell that it was not a house burning. I recall thinking, “Why aren’t there any sirens?” About that time a shaken “Y” employee told us to turn around and leave because a plane had just crashed and the building was being evacuate.  At that moment the wail of emergency equipment seemed to erupt in perfect sync from all directions as first responders rushed to the point of impact. They came in waves and then they came some more. So many came that I feared that perhaps an airliner had gone down. We knew nobody could survive the flames and were praying that it was not a big plane.

As we sit there in bumper to bumper traffic amid the unfolding chaos, I thanked God that the plane had not hit any buildings. From what I learned later, that was probably not by chance but a final act of love from Glenn Mull, the pilot.  I wondered who the victims were and what must have been going on in that doomed plane. I wondered if they were prepared for death and if they had any unfinished business. Was there something they needed to say? Was there someone they needed to forgive?  Was there something they needed to let go?

Who would have ever thought that a plane would crash at the Y, in a small patch of grass, outside a building I spend so much time inside? Your next breath could be your last; do not put anything off that you need to do. Do it right now.

 Something to Think About