October 6, 2017

The Los Vegas Massacre: Where Was God?

Sunday, October, 12017 was a dark day in American history planned and executed by the depraved Devil's puppet, Stephen Paddock. In the Los Vegas Massacre, the worst mass shooting in American History, Paddock killed fifty-eight people and wounded hundreds of others who were enjoying an open air concert. Undoubtedly, Paddock's loathsome act prompted some people to ask, “Why doesn’t God prevent human suffering?”

In her newest book, Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?, author Rhoda Janzen writes: 
“None of the world religions promises fewer problems for people of faith. In fact every major world religion observes that suffering is inevitable and constitutive. We suffer as part of the human condition. Think about it: If we didn't suffer, would we still be human?"  
God created us as free moral agents who are able to move toward him or away from him as we choose. Within each of us are the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence.  For some few, the result is evil beyond our comprehension and belief.

In response to unimaginable tragedy, people also ask, "Where is God?”  The answer is apparent to people of faith. God is in the same place he's always been, ready and waiting to comfort and support us. In times of trouble, God is right where we need him, readily available to lift us up and touch the hearts of others who help us ease our pain.  

We gather strength from our faith in the Lord. Let us be bold in our witness and our belief that God can heal all wounds
  The Lord upholds all who are falling, And raises up all who are bowed down.
Psalm 145:14

September 20, 2017

We Can Learn from Our Pets

In her internet article, Animals Teach Us Spirituality, Dr. Mary Lou Randour suggests “ . . . animals can teach us about love: how to love, how to enjoy being loved, how loving itself is an activity which generates more love . . .”

Many years ago, I learned a similar concept summarized in the phrase, “God gave us dogs to teach us how to love each other.” Based on our experience with Strump, Frisky, Deacon, Bo and Cody, Nancy and I believe that is a wise observation. 

Recognizing how our dogs interact with us will help us to be better partners in any relationship. For example, our dogs love to show their affection for us. Our dogs constantly show their love for us and tenaciously seek demonstrations of our love for them.  Couples in a relationship may say, “I love you.” a dozen times a day, but demonstrations of love always speak louder than words.

Our dogs are forgiving creatures. If you accidentally hurt your pet, just tell him you’re sorry, and he’ll wag his tail and all is forgiven. In any relationship, there will be times when one partner will disappoint the other, and seeking forgiveness and forgiving are absolutely essential in a long and happy relationship.

Our dogs want to be with us. If we leave them alone for any length of time, when we return, they are quick to let us know how much they missed us. They are happy to see us, and they show it. On her high school photo that Nancy gave to me in our senior year, Nancy wrote, “I’m always happiest when I am with you.”  We still feel that way about each other after sixty-nine years in love.  We are still happiest when we are together. 

Dogs have other characteristics like commitment and faithfulness to be admired and emulated in any human relationship. So forget about reading any of the half million books on relationships available at Amazon.com. Just get a dog, or even two, and observe how they treat each other and you.

God made us in His image. Then he created dogs to teach us how to love each other.  

September 5, 2017

Closing the Door on Your Worries

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asks the question, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

The fact is anxiety can reduce our life span considerably. It can cause ulcers, high blood pressure, strokes, asthma, angina, migraine headaches, indigestion, irritability, tremors, fatigue, insomnia, depression, diarrhea and a host of other symptoms.

Dr. William Osler, one of the most famous physicians of the 19th Century, was on an ocean liner during a drill when all the ship’s many compartments were sealed. If damage caused one compartment to leak, the watertight doors to other compartments would allow the ship to remain afloat. Osler suggests we learn to master our worries by sealing them in compartments.
“Touch a button and hear, at every level of your life, the iron doors shutting out the past - the dead yesterdays. Touch another and shut off, with a metal curtain, the future - the unborn tomorrows.  Then you are safe - safe for today!” 
I like Osler’s proposal for coping with worry and have used it often, but I also love to be reminded of God’s mercy and protection in the words of hymns of faith like Day by Day. Here are the words to the first verse of that great hymn:
Day by day, and with each passing moment,   Strength I find to meet my trials here; Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,  I've no cause for worry or for fear. He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure, Gives unto each day what He deems best, Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure, Mingling toil with peace and rest.

July 28, 2017

Cell Phone Addiction

At a college night program in Sunbury, Pennsylvania in 1957,  a representative from Bell Telephone predicted that in the future  everyone would carry a small device which could fit in a pocket or a pocketbook. 

The device he described would enable people to call or receive calls from anywhere in the world. We were still doing dial up in 1957, so what we heard was the stuff of science fiction.   

The first thing I look for in the morning are my glasses, and the second is my cell phone. I check my messages and check the temperature. Most of the time each day, the cell phone is by my side ready to take or make calls or to  answer any question like “Who deflated the New England footballs?”  

I use my cell phone often, but I’m not obsessed with it. I was shocked to read a report that the average American looks at his/her cell phone 150 times each day. That means many people use it even more often. The cell phone is dominating their lives and that’s an obsession. That’s an addiction. 

In Chapter six of Deuteronomy, Moses said this about God’s commandments:
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”  
The Law of Moses has been replaced.  The only thing tied to our heads today is a cell phone!