March 27, 2014

Beyond the Cross

On a Sunday in Lent 2014, the men in the Bluff Point United Methodist Church choir sang one of my favorite Easter songs. This is the chorus:
Beyond the cross is a tomb that is empty.You won’t find me there any more, and beyond the tomb is life everlasting and hope forevermore.
The cross is a sign of our faith and a sign of Christ himself. When we are burdened by guilt and seek forgiveness for our sins, the cross is where we are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. 

Just a few steps from Golgotha, where the Savior suffered and died for our sins, is an empty tomb. It is there that we are reminded of the Risen Christ and given new energy and strength to meet the pressures and stresses of our lives. It is there that our faith is restored and renewed and we are re-energized. It is at the empty tomb that we find hope.  

The empty tomb reminds us of the power of God who is the source of our strength, our courage and our confidence. This Easter celebrate the victory of the empty tomb

March 20, 2014

On Loving the Unlovable

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, but how can he expect us to love the unlovable like the fanatical terrorists who killed almost 3,000 people on 9/11 or the gunman responsible for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Yet, Jesus told us to, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” and  “Love one another as I have loved you.”

These are not suggestions, proposals for our consideration or motions for a vote. Love your neighbor, period, exclamation mark!

But Jesus whipped the money lenders, called the Pharisees’ vipers brood and threatened harm those who kept the children from him. 

I conclude that having compassion for my neighbor (agape love) does not require me to forgive rapists, terrorists, murderers, then set them free. As every parent understands, love for our children also involves rules, obedience and discipline.

Thomas Kempis whose book The Imitation of Christ inspired John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace wrote:
"To love someone you don’t like for the Lord’s sake is to walk as the saints  should walk."
And it is a commandment that came right from the Son of God himself!

March 12, 2014

A Comment on the Me Generation

I recently read a piece by Anna A. Rogers who wrote, “The rock upon which most of the flower-bedecked marriage barges go to pieces is the latter-day cult of individualism, the worship of the brazen calf of Self."

Rogers’ comment obviously refers to the "Me Generation,” Millennials and Generation Xers who believe they are the center of the universe. They are self absorbed, free thinking, arrogant and spoiled.  A Time Magazine cover in 2013 labeled them the “Me, Me, Me Generation.

The only problem with that analysis of Rogers statement is it appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in September of 1907!

Turns out, there is evidence to suggest that every generation has been labeled a “Me Generation.” Pick any period in history and some psychologist or sociologist described young people as arrogant, narcissistic, and self serving. 

When Jesus commanded us to “Love our neighbor as we love ourselves,”  he obviously, did not refer to an arrogant, conceited or egocentric love of self. Instead, he anticipated our self-love will be caring, respectful and affirmative.

Despite all the psychological and sociological babble about a self-centered Me Generation, I believe people today demonstrate their love for their neighbors in generous acts of time and resources unmatched in human history.



March 5, 2014

Imagination and Hope

In his newest book, The Four Doors, Richard Paul Evans writes about “The Cage of Paradigm” which the best selling author defines as the inability or reluctance to consider anything but the traditional way of doing something.

Evans suggests that innovations in every walk of life are the result of someone with imagination and initiative who escapes the “Cage of Paradigm.”

In his book Road to Grace Evans also writes “the success of our lives is more determined by our imagination than our circumstances.”

Unfortunately, the “Cage of Paradigm” has the power to hold captive those who  have lost hope, believing their current condition cannot be changed. But with imagination, hope and optimism escape is a possibility.

Clarissa Schilstra, a student at Duke University and a former cancer patient, made this observation about imagination and hope : “When there was no hope, I used my imagination to create it.” Fueled by hope, Clarissa is a survivor.

Numerous medical devices provide the analytical information doctors use to evaluate a patient’s condition. There is no way to measure someone’s level of imagination, hope and heart.