May 27, 2010

Words in Action

A little girl stayed for dinner at the home of her first grade friend. The vegetable for the meal was buttered broccoli, and the mother asked if her daughter’s friend liked it. The visitor replied politely, “Oh yes. I love it.”

But when the bowl of broccoli was passed, the little girl didn’t take any. This prompted the hostess to remark, “I thought you said you liked broccoli.” To which the little girl replied sweetly, “Oh, yes mam, I do, but not enough to eat it.”

The first grader’s response reminds me of a line from the 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket: “You can talk the talk (say you like broccoli), but can you walk the walk (eat it)?

Two thousand years ago, the apostle John wrote:

My children, let us love not merely in theory or in words. Let us love in sincerity and in practice.

We are commanded by God to create loving relationships, and that requires action, not just words. In the week ahead, I pledge to demonstrate my love for others in acts of kindness.

Will you do the same?

May 18, 2010

Pollution Stains the Planet and the Heart

Recently, we have been kept well informed of the status of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The latest reports on the disaster suggest that a dense layer of oil 10 miles long, 3 miles wide, and 300 feet thick may enter the Gulf Stream and could eventually work it’s way up the Atlantic Coast.

That news reminded me of a visit to the Florida coast in 1990 when Nancy and I went to the beach, spread our blanket on the sand, and it landed on a pile of black oily glop. Before we left the beach, we were scraping oil deposits off our feet and our shoes, and rubbing both with lighter fluid when we returned to the home where we were staying.

In the first chapter of Genesis, we read that God created the earth and all that is in it, and when he finished he saw that “it was good.” Well it was good, but through the ages, we and our ancestors have killed it, burned it, covered it with garbage and abused it to the point that one day we may become the endangered species.

As we work together to cleanse and purify the planet as we must, it is important to remember there is another kind of pollution ___ the kind that stains and contaminates our hearts. Arrogance, vanity, anger, bitterness, jealousy, lust, greed and indifference will kill the love in our hearts just as pollution of God’s natural world can kill your heirs and mine.

Jesus said, ”Blessed are the pure at heart, for they shall see God.” May we all be blessed.

May 10, 2010

Judging Others

Bill Crawford was a janitor for the U.S. Air Force Academy back in the late 1970s. His job was to empty the trash, buff the floors, clean the toilets and keep the building tidy for the cadets who lived in his dorm.

Bill was a shy man and he did his job well, so most of the time he just blended into the woodwork. In a military school where officers with silver or gold on their lapels were a common sight, you might say Bill Crawford was “just a janitor.”

All that changed one day when a cadet, reading a book about the Allied campaign in Italy during World War II, learned that as a result of his “conspicuous gallantry” ... “above and beyond the call of duty,” Pvt. William “Bill” Crawford had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The fact is the old man, who labored in a young person’s world of future warriors, was not only a courageous patriot but a national hero as well.

Despite Jesus’ commandment to love others as he loved us, we regularly make critical judgments of others based on their appearance, vocation, ethnicity, sexual preference, or other personal characteristics.

Yet Jesus demonstrated the scope of his love in events or parables when he chose to associate with those we might judge to be “only fishermen” or “only janitors.” May we always look at others in a spirit of love as Jesus commanded.