State of the Union

State of the Union

Ken Burns, in his now famous series The Civil War, pointed out that before the war typically you would hear “the Untied States are…” and after the Civil war you would hear “the United States is…” United but separate, then divided, and then reunited as one. We are still struggling for the dream of equality and opportunity. We have not learned how to define that. How do we care for and create a way up for those who are not as privileged as others? We are equal in God’s eyes but the struggle to find equality still eludes us. Is it “are” and “is” that still defines the struggle? Our nation surely has it’s divisions but they are along different lines today.

Tonight there will be another “State of the Union” address. I thought it was a bit humorous that the invitation to the event was misspelled as the “State of Uniom.” As though we still can’t get it quite right as a nation. While we find news that is not always fact-checked and successes that are touted as reality but are questionable in fact, we continue to search for truth somewhere in the middle of it all.

In our search for truth there is something that makes us one that is as old as time. We too often overlook Genesis 1:27 where it says, “So God created “humans” in God’s own image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them.” Men and women are made in the image of God. Not one sex – both. Not people of one race but all races springing from the loins of these humans. That is the truth that we are faced with. Some call this ‘fake” but why not clearly understand that deep implications here – the very truth of that Word?

It’s not money that makes us successful, or fame, or race, or gender – God sees us, loves us, and wants all of us to know the truth that makes us one. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” If we have a calling at all as these United States it is to be true to our origin as a beacon of hope and equality. There is more than one speech by one president that defines us – we need to still realize this truth that is the very soul of our nationhood.

Be Well…

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Indianapolis and Amazon

Indianapolis and Amazon

Could it be? Might it be? Does it have the right infrastructure, workforce, and cool vibe to be the next HQ for Amazon? The NCAA is there, right? Will there be drones delivering packages all over the city? Will Bezos have a second, third or fourth home in Carmel? (And how do you pronounce that anyway?) The Irish betting site Paddy Power gives it 20 to 1 odds – that’s not the New England Patriots type odds but it’s something. So many questions and so little time.

Work is a good thing and when there is an opportunity for people to be employed and care for themselves and their family it is great news. I’m pulling for Indianapolis and Indiana in this mega-opportunity but I realize we are a little like the Charlie Brown of states. Lucy has the football and we are running at it – will she – could she? We shall see. I’ve always loved this passage from the Bible: “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3) I’m no Jeff Besoz but I love my work and I want it to be God honoring. It’s good on what many call TGIF to give thanks for work and the ability to do it. It’s also good to have a little time off – the Sabbath was made for people remember.

Be Well…

 

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160 Women

160 Women

How can a doctor who’s oath is “To Do No Harm,” harm so many women emotionally and physically? I an age where we seek equality and the rights of women to be displayed more clearly, we have to ask why this kind of abuse could take place for so long under the “watchful” eyes of Michigan State officials and the Olympic Gymnastics program. Dr. (I hesitate to use that title) Larry Nassar victimized 160 women who have now seen him sentenced to 70 to 140 years in prison. I harken back to what I wrote yesterday. Our society (if we can call it that) has lost its way spiritually, morally, and ethically. Anger, violence, and abuse are the results of this loss of direction. Certainly this abuse of the women is at the same time violence.

The book of Proverbs often refers to Wisdom as a woman: Proverbs 31:26 says, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” From a Christian perspective we read in Galatians 3:28 says, “There is no longer…male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We are one. We are equal. We are created in our own uniqueness by God. If we had a viable society that could live out such ethics it would be healthier and we would seldom read about such stories.

Let’s keep reminding ourselves what scripture shines the light of truth on – God made us equal and complimentary with a variety of gifts. Use the light of truth to guide our ethics and all aspects of our life.

Be Well…

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Shootings

Shootings

There is plenty of blame to go around but there have been eleven (11) school shootings in the first three weeks of January 2018. My soul cries. I don’t want to blame the NRA anymore, I don’t want to talk about people who hold on to their guns and bibles, I am not going to attack or try to redefine the second amendment, I simply want to cry out and say that our country has lost its spiritual and ethical moorings and no longer should we use the word society to define us. We have become a rabble. Our leaders fight, anger is the normal intercourse in Washington, and religious institutions are thought of as relics of the past.

We have removed any normative way of agreeing on a set of ethical principles. “Thou shalt not kill,” Martin Luther interpreted that commandment in a positive tone when he wrote, “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.” It goes beyond hurting or harming; it means in a positive sense that we want to help our neighbor. Jesus said of the commandment about murder, “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” I’d say that amplified things.

Where do we teach children the spiritual value of human beings?

Almost everything we see devalues life. We face the horror of murder almost every day in the news, atheist want to rid our nation of any religious conversation that teaches that murder is wrong, some teach that babies can be terminated near the moment of birth, video games and movies portray that life is cheap and expendable, and law enforcement is often humiliated because of the actions of a few.

My friend says we are living in a Post-Christian Era. Our churches are emptying and family ties are continuing to weaken. So there is a reason to cry from my standpoint. Eleven shootings in schools in the first three weeks of January. Shame on us.

One of many Founders of the United States, John Adams, wrote, “We have no government armed in power capable of contending in human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” I cry out for our nation to regain it’s roots of faith and love for one another.

Be Well…

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Blanket

Blanket

A blanket of snow covers the ground this morning. Last night I walked my dog in 52 degree weather and today he didn’t want to go out. I couldn’t blame him. However, in spite of the change there is an artistry to the way it falls in the first dusting. It covers the pine needles of the bushes in front of my house and coats the railing of the deck. I try to remember that it is January here in the north and that this is normal. The normal high is 33 degrees and the record high for this day was only 59 degrees in 1967.

So I sit, coffee in hand, keyboard sitting idle for a few minutes, cat perched on the sill, read the Word, and pray.

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

The prophet describes the deep stains of rebellion as scarlet or crimson – like blood stains. The gift of God is that they are made white as snow. It all begins though with reasoning together. We dialog. We communicate with God and each other. I’ve always believed that faith was like a conversation. It was ongoing and not relegated to a set time of day or night. Likewise it seems that in education, business, family, or religious institutions reasoning together is a good idea. There is an honesty and forthrightness in reasoning. And then God blesses the reasoning and honest communication with a pure white coating of artistic love – like snow covering the dead of winter.

Be Well…

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Dead is Not Dead

Dead is Not Dead

A section of the Dead Sea Scrolls was just translated recently. These mysterious fragments discovered in a cave give insight into a religious community that existed near the time of Jesus. The BBC reports that, ” the sections of the scrolls were pieced together by Dr Eshbal Ratson and Prof Jonathan Ben-Dov of Haifa University. They were written in code and some of the fragments were smaller than 1 sq cm (0.155 sq inches). They detailed special occasions celebrated by the ancient Jewish sect, which observed a unique 364-day calendar. These included festivals of New Wheat, New Wine and New Oil, which were related to the Jewish festival of Shavuot.”

 

The priceless Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves in Qumran on the western shore of the Dead Sea between 1947 and 1956. They were reportedly first discovered by a young Bedouin shepherd searching for lost sheep. Lost sheep – does that ring a bell? Jesus was always talking about looking for lost sheep. How he loved the lost – the forgotten – the estranged. Perhaps we could learn something from that.

Some have suggested that Jesus may have been an Essene but that is pure speculation. He did turn the world upside down. I guess looking back in history has its advantages. We learn what is priceless and vital to being fully human. That is what I think of Jesus most often – a fully human – fully developed person. God wanted to show us an ideal as well as to forge a New Covenant with us. He wanted to love the hell out of us, so to speak.

Be Well…

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Good Fridays

Good Fridays

Most people say “TGIF” but I say “TGFGF” – thank God for Good Friday. Most of us value independence but I can not forgive my own sin. Jesus shows me what a kind and loving parent does – how forgiveness – deep down real forgiveness feels. He even forgives his enemies. I’d like to see more of that. Dependance on God, our family, and our friends is the way we are designed to live. That design is good not just for individuals but for society. We love the slogan, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but we act as if “everyone is an island.” We are not fully independent people nor should we be. Even our system of government is designed for us to work together and compromise – as well we should. The Church is built with the idea of community at its core but we are suffering from the cacooning of society. Independence is not good for everything.

As the weekend draws near, think about community. You may like your privacy and independence from time to time but we are built to depend on one another. Seek out that community this weekend. Let Church become what it was always intended to be – true community. A place of dependance on love generosity, service, praise, learning, sharing, support, meditation, and prayer.

Be Well…

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