Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How Much Do You Hate?

Penn Jillette is an outspoken atheist, libertarian, and skeptic. He is most noted for his role in the Penn & Teller illusionist act. After one of his performances, a man gave him a copy of the book of Psalms. Jillette speaks about this experience in a YouTube video. (http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JHS8adO3hM)

Jillette asks the question, "How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?" Now that's a question to think about!

Jillette concludes his observation by telling us that he will not change his beliefs, but that he admired the Christian who shared the Scripture.

That got me a-thinking - what motivates me to not share? I run through all the reasons:
I don't know what to say. I don't have time. They will laugh at me. I will see them again. I don't have the gift of evangelism. I don't know any unchurched people. I don't want people to lump me in with all those religious "kooks." Nothing I say will make a difference anyway.

As I review each reason, they seem shallow, unfounded, and just plain wrong. I do know what to say, "We all sin. The wages of sin is death. We deserve to die. God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price of our sins. Our sins are forgiven. We will live forever in heaven because of this."

Perhaps, it is time for me to "walk the talk," and step up with the Good News. I can proclaim it to my family, my friends, those I know at work, those I meet during the day and even send a letter of encouragement, a copy of the Good News, and some prayer to politicians.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Should Happen to Executives?

A recent headline read, "Senator suggests AIG execs should kill themselves." Now that is an attention grabber, so I read the story. Basically, Senator Grassley from Iowa suggested that AIG executives who received billions in federal bailout money and then awarded themselves $165 million in executive bonuses should follow the Japanese example and come before the American people, take a deep bow, say, "I'm sorry," and then either resign or commit suicide.

It seems to me the senator has some passion about his feelings towards the executives who accepted American taxpayer funds to reward themselves. Perhaps, some would say they deserve the bonuses. After all, they did find the money to bail out their companies. Don't they deserve it?

I am curious as to why anyone might be surprised at the actions of these executives. For is that not the nature of what they do? Are not they rewarded for successfully creating a profit for their company? This sort of reminds me of the fable of the Scorpian and the Frog. Scorpions will do what scorpions do (it's their nature) and people will do what people do.

So what can we do? Is there anything we can do? Are we powerless against greed, corruption, dirty politics, broken promises, and the like?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Protecting the Future

Much has been said about the economic stimulus package. Just over half of the American voters made it possible, while just under half of the American voters would not approve of it. Are we a country divided? Controversy swirls around us as bills are passed, predictions made, and the stock market reacts. America is facing the highest unemployment levels in recent memory and more lay-offs are projected. Our news outlets report doom and gloom while conservatives and liberals face off for debate. Everyone wants to secure our future.

But what future will be secure when 1 in 50 of our children are homeless? Yes, according to a report by the National Center on Family Homelessness issued March 10, 2009, there were 1.5 million homeless children in 2005-2006, and that number is rising.

It is interesting to note the study mentioned many homeless children come from families who lost their house, but the parents are working. Minimum wage jobs will not provide enough income for food, clothing, house, and other necessities. The report also states homeless children are far more likely than other children to experience hunger, suffer chronic health problems, repeat a grade in school, and eventually drop out of high school altogether.

So while politicians are busy giving themselves billions of dollars in earmarks, Wall Street brokers cry because their million-dollar bonuses are curtailed, union leaders push back, and bankers buy jets -- we are putting our children out on the streets.

What future will that insure?

Is it time for churches to step up and open free shelters, free education, free day care?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Love the Child - Hate the Deed

Okay. I admit it. The first time I changed my son's diaper I messed up. Well, actually, he messed up. I laid him on his back, took off his diaper, and leaned over. I had to find a towel to dry off. I loved my son, but hated the deed. I also learned to put the washcloth over him when changing his diaper.

So, he grows and starts climbing. He scales up the kitchen table and destroys your tax return, which was left there after an all-night session. You love your son, but really hate the deed.

He gets a little bigger and goes to school. He gets into a fight and gives another boy a black eye. You love your son and hate the deed (but maybe not so much).

Then, you give him the keys to the car and wham! He isn't hurt, but the car is totaled. You thank God he wasn't hurt, but . . .

We love our children, but we hate those deeds based on bad decisions. The older the child, the more costly the bad decisions - especially when they involve relationships. Cars are relatively inexpensive to fix when compared to a baby born out of wedlock.

So what can a Dad do? We need to be a role model of good decisions. We need to have our child sit next to us in church. We need to lead our little ones in prayer and family devotion. We need to train our children to filter out the world. We need to stand up to evil. We need to let the child push back, but we need to remain firm. We need to learn the word, "no" (especially when our daughters start out with, "Daddy, I loooove you"). We need to pray for and with our children - aloud. We need to be involved in their lives. We need to be strong in the Lord. We need to love their mother. We need to keep our word. We need to let them trust us.

At the end of the day, we need to let them go and trust God.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stop the Exodus of Men from Church

Eddie Morris wrote this week's message. He is a DCE/Family Life Director at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He shares with us his design for and implementation of a men's ministry at his congregation. He writes:

"After reading the book, Why Men Hate Going to Church, I believe author David Murrow hits the nail on the head. We have designed our churches for women and not for men. If you have a manufacturing plant designed to put bumpers on cars upside down then you will get cars with their bumpers on upside down. The most interesting thing Murrow points out is that women will be happy with a church that is designed for men, but men will not be happy with a church designed for women.

My "Men's Weekends" changed drastically and were better attended when I began designing them for the men. Please notice I don't call these weekends, "retreats." Men, especially military men, have a negative connotation of the word "retreat." Both in promoting the event and informing others about it the elements of adventure mixed with just a little danger are highlighted. While this has caused a few older gentlemen to drop out, the younger guys involved has risen dramatically. Bible study is one main element of the weekend, but two things that have made the biggest difference are the "Group Initiative Challenge Course" and the "Walk with God."

On the challenge course, the participant is harnessed and involved in doing some risky activities - both physically and mentally. Complementing this is the Walk with God session, where the participant risks himself on an emotional level and comes to better understand that God can and does see the deepest part of him. The evaluations from those attending these weekends have consistently shown these two features have made the greatest impact on the men at my church."

What do you think?