hot topic: Ferguson shooting

Recently, there was a shooting in a suburb of St Louis where a white police officer shot & killed an african american teen, Mike Brown.  There has been massive outrage, demonstrations and upheaval from this altercation with lots of accusations being thrown around.  The National Guard has been called in to the area, curfews have been enforced and there’s a tremendous amount of anxiety, pain, frustration, anger, hostility and even some violent reactions to these events.

My goal with this blog is not to throw more fuel into an already intense inferno.  Rather, I would ask you to join me in praying a few brief but powerful points for this situation:

  • peace and clarity
  • comfort and healing for the family who lost their son / family member
  • wisdom, strength and grace for the leaders in Ferguson & those who are involved in these events

from and through

If you’re like me, I often pray that God would deliver me from stuff (hardship, struggles, etc).  But often, I experience that God brings me through stuff (hardships, struggles, etc).  While I prefer to not have to go through stuff, I’m grateful that God helps me regardless of how – from or through.

The value of through is that I often get stronger, learn more about God, deepen in my faith, understand who I am better & become more grateful for God’s help and moment by moment presence :) – Noah went through the flood, Paul went through the storm

The value of from is that I often stand amazed at God’s power, preservation & wisdom :) –  God delivered Daniel from the lions, God delivered Israel from Pharaoh, but through the Red Sea :)

From & Through – both are important ways that God participates in our lives!

a quick secret to stay happy :)

When I woke up my son today to get ready for school, he wasn’t happy by a long shot.  He was cranky & grumpy and unfortunately, by the time he got in the car, he was still in the doldrums – a very yucky way to start off on a Monday morning :(

We all have times, seasons, days and moments when we are grumpy & here’s a potential quick fix:  be thankful.  Rather than looking at the grumpy stuff (back to school, bills, tired, physical pain, hardship, emotional stressors, relationship difficulties, job / school challenges . . . . ), take some moments to be thankful.

Thank God:

  • that the sun came up this morning
  • for the oxygen that we breath
  • that God’s love is vast yet personal
  • that God is both faithful and good
  • for a nice blog to give you this helpful reminder ,)

a secret for transformation

Seems like all of us want to grow & improve in at least a few ways.  We want to be more skinny or more muscular.  We want to be smarter, more athletic, less impatient, . . . . . .  All of us have things in our lives that we want to improve.  If there was a magic wand that we could wave to make the wanted improvement appear, we’d go to great lengths to get that wand & ultimately the improvement that we want.  But alas, there is no magic wand.

But here’s the golden ticket for the improvements that we want:  routine.  Yep, the nitty, gritty and daily incremental efforts that we can integrate into our daily routines can produce life changing transformation.  Diets, fads, trends, cool & swanky techniques and mental gyrations often lack the power to improve that comes from just the daily, small decisions that we incorporate into routine living:  

  • A deeper walk with God:  plan to go to bed 30min earlier everyday for two weeks, so you can get up 15min early to read your Bible & pray – spend some time training your body & soul to make spiritual investments
  • being more healthy:  chose to decrease or eliminate a cup of coffee (gasp), the afternoon treat, the evening snack for two weeks;  
  • physical fitness:  chose to walk more (rather than the drive for that close errand, park in less conveninet places that require more walking, take a walk in the evening rather than watch the 30min of TV that turns into 2hours, . . . .)
  • be smarter:  reading is a great path to help us with the smart stuff;  consider joining a book club, get a library card – check out a book;  read something that you don’t agree with or isn’t in the normal interest list (broaden your horizon)

Small but steady changes often create the sustained improvements that can seem elusive.  You can do it!! :)

hot topic: Robin Williams death

I was really sad to learn about Robin Williams’ death & it’s even more tragic to learn that he committed suicide.  For my generation, he was a very significant person who made many valuable contributions in the entertainment industry and many other areas.  When I learned of his death, I of course thought of all the different roles that he played and only recently learned about his struggle with addiction & depression.

Depression is nasty stuff & we would be wise to be sensitive to people who are struggling in this area.  Cliche’ & quickie one-liners don’t usually help people who are depressed.  The “snap out of” talk, “pick yourself up by your boot straps”, “it’s all in your mind” along with other band-aid phrases can sometimes be nothing more than vaporous cotton candy, frothy & flimsy.  If you know someone who is wrestling with depression, here  are a few helpful tips:

  • be gentle & patient
  • genuine prayer is always valuable!
  • giving them some company can sometimes help

If you’re struggling with depression, here are some things that may help:

  • keep some regular routines: prayer, Bible time, church, going to sleep & waking at normal times
  • make healthy choices – food, sleep, water, relationships, . . . .
  • stay connected – isolation often makes depression worse

Let’s be sure to pray for the family of Robin Williams!

hot topic: Christians in Iraq

I’ve been reading recently about how many Christians have been under very severe persecution in Iraq from the ISIS (or IS) expansion & attacks.  According to the news, Christians in certain areas of Iraq are being given the choice to leave their homes, convert to Islam or die.  I find this to be very troubling for Iraq given it’s long & strong history of Christian & Jewish presence in this area.  From a broader perspective, Christianity has always faced varying degrees of persecution throughout the world at various times.  For example, currently North Korea, is a very dangerous place for a Christian to try & survive without denying their faith.  For that matter, it seems like sometimes Christians are the best at eating their own – being judgmental, exclusive, elitist and capricious, but that’s for a different blog ,)

Here are a few things to consider:

  • pray for our brothers and sisters – Paul talks about bearing each others burdens in Gal 6:2;  As the body of Christ, let’s be very prayerful for our fellow members who are in such difficult situations
  • persecution grows the church – hardship forces us to clarify our priorities & the right choices help our roots to go deep;  deep roots create great strength & healthy fruit
  • Gal 5:15 talks about being careful not to bite & devour each other – there’s enough external persecution that we don’t need to tear each other down;  let’s build up more than we cut down :)

hot topic: Gaza & the ceasefire

I’ve been watching the situation with Israel & Palestine over the last month & I was very happy to read this morning about the ceasefire and what seems to be the ramp down of the military conflict between Israel & Palestine.  If you have looked into any of the history of this area, you’ll quickly see that this area of the world has been unstable to varying degrees for millennia.  Regardless of which side of the conflict you sympathize, its good for everyone that they constructively work toward a peace that can be realisticlly achieved between these neighboring countries.

With that being said, I don’t see how you can be a neighboring country, endeavoring to build trust while concurrently telling your population that your neighbor is the enemy – both sides do this.  I also don’t see how you can build trust when an underlying tenant of your political existence is the obliteration of your neighboring country – there has to be mutual respect for mutual sovereignty.  Finally, you can’t build trust without first creating an environment for constructive conversation.

Let’s pray for peace in the middle East!