Saturday, January 25, 2014

Honor the face of an old man

Maybe you saw this piece of news somewhere else, or perhaps you're seeing it for the first time here, but recently, a three story retirement home in Canada caught fire and burnt down. The firefighters were able to rescue some but there are still 22 unaccounted for. Unfortunately, because it is winter, the water the firefighters were using has turned to ice, some of it two feet deep, all over the building. Thusly, anyone who might have survived the fire is now stuck in the ice! The police chief doesn't hold out much hope that anyone is still alive in there but he can't declare them all dead until the bodies have been recovered. I know I am sounding pretty point blank here but I just wanted to catch you up on the situation before I veered into a more emotional writing style.

There are a couple of things to think about here: the number of lives lost and just what we are doing to the aged. First, this is a three story facility that was home to about 52 people, thirty-seven of whom were thought to be over the age of 85, many of whom were in wheelchairs or using walkers and dealing with Alzheimer's. Ten of them have already been declared dead, twenty-two are missing. That means that there are only twenty of them
left! It's pretty sad, for sure, but what's more sad than that, in my personal and slightly humble opinion, is that they were living in that institution in the first place. We've become a world that does not care about our unborn children or our elderly relatives. We'd rather relegate them to death before arrival, or death away from us; either way, we're killing them, it's that simple.

When I was in college, an elderly lady (in her 80's) whom I adored, ended up in a nursing home after she'd fallen and broken her hip. I prayed that she'd be able to get out and back to her old, very independent (she still drove) routine but laying in that residential facility, smelling death every day drained every ounce of gumption she had left. The sadness was palpable on her face at every visit and I desperately wished I could do something to light a fire of hope in her but it couldn't be done; the dismal nature of a home for those sent out to pasture is just too much even on the lightest, sweetest of spirits. We kill our grandparents, people! They don't have to die tragic and fiery or icy deaths, we kill them slowly as soon as we place them in a nursing home. We tell them, essentially, "You're too much of a burden for me, someone else is gonna have to deal with you."

Listen, I know that most of us aren't nurses and that we aren't perhaps physically or emotionally
equipped to deal with someone in the throes of Alzheimer's disease but if we are Bible-believing, Christ-following people, then it doesn't matter what we think we can or cannot handle. Listen to what we are told in Leviticus, friends, "“You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD." (19:32 - ESV). Fear God, do you notice that part of it? We aren't just respecting our elders we are doing it because He is our King and He told us to and we fear Him. If you've got an elderly person in your family who is struggling or in need, reach out to him or her, don't push him/her off on your other relatives, don't stand idly by while he/she gets carted off somewhere to die. Save him/her; God will see the things you are doing and He'll provide all you need to do what He's directed; and that's the truth.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Murder- Supremely Selfish

I live in Florida, as many of you know, and so when there's a murder in a movie theater in a pretty decent area of town I have to tell you, I'm appalled. I don't personally frequent the theaters namely because they are expensive and generally the movies are full of subject matter and/or language I'm not interested in exposing myself or my family to. That said, I have many friends that do enjoy a Sunday afternoon flick. Thusly, a murder over texting and popcorn throwing has me a little bit alarmed for the sake of those I hold dear.

If you aren't familiar with the headline, the Bradenton Post put it this way: "Retired Tampa police captain accused in Wesley Chapel movie theater shooting." Please note that the
person accused of the fatal shooting is a retired cop! Let me recap the incident for you: Seventy-one year old Curtis Reeves is accused of shooting 43 year old, Chad Oulson. Reeves told Oulson to stop texting (I guess the glare from the phone was bothersome). Oulson informed Reeves that he was texting with his three year old daughter! Words were exchanged. Reeves got up and walked out, everybody assumed he went to complain to the management. After all, silence is golden in a movie theater. But, you know what's more golden? LIFE!

When Reeves came back, Oulson confronted him from across the theater wanting to know if Reeves
had told on him. At that point an eyewitness says popcorn was thrown, though he wasn't sure who threw it first. Then, according to that same witness, Reeves pulled out a gun. Oulson's wife put a hand on her husband's chest and WHAMO Reeves shot through her hand and into Oulson. He died in the hospital and her wounds aren't life threatening. So, let's consider this shall we? This 71 year old man, who was also at the theater with his wife, will now serve jail time. I assume his wife is probably in the same age bracket. He didn't consider what his action would do to her at her age. On top of that, he allowed a minor irritant to enrage him to the point he became supremely selfish.

Murder, my friends, is supremely selfish! It dictates that someone else's life is of no value. It screams: My happiness is worth more than everyone else's heart. I mean seriously, Oulson's wife and daughter are now without him, and over a cell phone and popcorn argument? What is wrong with people? Well, I can tell you: the world is a desperately wicked place, one in which it's dog eat dog, look out for number one, if I'm not happy no one else is. This is such a me oriented planet that we have lost all respect for one another, for life itself and not just for each individual person but for the expanse of people in which each individual's life comes in contact. Oulson's death is more than just his own, it's a loss to many people and Reeves, an ex-cop, should have at least had some concept of the severity of his actions. With cops like that, who needs bad guys?

We have been warned about the condition of the world and the degree in which it will morally decay. We are told: "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,"
2 Timothy 3:1-4 (ESV)- emphasis mine. Friends, these are true words, this is a real warning and all you have to do is watch a little of the five o'clock news to know that Paul was right. I hate to tell you to stay out of the theaters, and the schools and the airplanes and well, pretty much anyplace anyone else might actually be. So since that kind of paranoia is not useful, just be warned that the end is near and if you don't know Christ you'll be spending eternity with all the other bad guys who chose to reject Him too!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Products of their environment...

While several people in the article we are about to discuss would wholly disagree with the title of my piece here it is my belief that children are very often products of their environments. There are certainly instances in which children have faced great adversity and yet accomplished tremendous feats of heroism and moral fortitude. However, the vast majority of those raised in troubling circumstances are indeed troubled. When I was in college there was a statistic that blew me away (and frequently comes to mind) and that was: 80% of abuse victims become abusive themselves. I suspect you've seen the truth in this. Walking away from the negativity one has experienced, or been taught, is an intentional act; it is a conscious decision and when a two year old is bombarded with extreme obscenities and thereby repeats them upon the encouragement of adults, there is certainly a higher likelihood that such language will become part of his everyday discourse.

I suspect some of you are wide-eyed at the imagery therein and while CNN also posted the video-proof to support their article, I will refrain. I can tell you that as a mother of a two-year old I did not even feel ok watching such heinous behavior. Thusly, I did not play the video which apparently shows the two year old cursing and shooting birds at the adults in the room who are egging him on and cursing at him as well. He's two! Yet, there are people that not only don't have a problem with this behavior but are instead boasting about it by putting it on their Facebook pages. Thusly, when the Omaha Police Officer's Association posted it on their site as a warning that toddlers raised in such a manner might very well become the thugs their parents are laughing about now, it has received a lot of flack. I'm not going to pretend to know all the issues the Omaha Police Department has had with racial relations and I am certainly not insinuating that I am an advocate of government intrusions into our lives. What I am saying is that if you are going to publically post something that shows a young child acting in an offensive manner and enduring equal verbal offense, then don't get all riled up when someone implies you're raising your kid incorrectly.

That said, this particular article brought to mind the verses that imply what the world will look like as we close in on the end times. Here's the one that specifically screamed in my mind as I read about this poor kid's upbringing:

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."

(2 Timothy 3:1-5 - ESV) 

Scripture tells us to avoid such people...hmm...something to think about at the very least. I just want to conclude by imploring you to cautiously consider, carefully contemplate, every word and deed you say and do before your children; they are little imitators and they will (more than likely) become a lot like you. I mean, seriously, think about how many times you've said or done something and thought, "Ah, man, that was so my mom (or dad)!" I know I do it a lot; we have a great duty and responsibility to the children entrusted to our care. We do not own them, they are on loan from God and I believe we will be held responsible for any idle word spoken, particularly those that cause them harm.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Freeze us out of our insolence

CNN posted an article about the extreme nor'easter that's about to hit the continental United States. Apparently more than half the US will feel temperatures colder than they've felt in twenty years. I wonder what that does to the whole global warming concept? The article says that people have already died due to the unusual cold, be it in car accidents, street salt tragedies or simply freezing. It warns that things are about to get significantly worse as this air mass takes over.

I'm not gonna lie, I love the fact that I live in Florida! Especially since the article insinuates that the nearly 0 degree temperatures are going as far South as Alabama. I live in Central Florida and the low on Monday is 29! That definitely shocked me when I saw it posted on my lovely smart phone, I mean that's below freezing and I'm in Florida. So, when I saw this article it all made sense; we're getting hit too but not anywhere near what the rest of the country is about to experience.

Obviously the article is much longer than that paragraph summation but really, it can be packed into one sentence: It's gonna get really cold in North America and a Super Bowl prep game is providing free hot chocolate and coffee so people watching the game don't freeze to death in the 50 below wind chill! It's a long sentence, fine, but still just one sentence. I wonder though, if perhaps all the crazy weather and natural disasters we're experiencing on this continent are a direct result of the coldness and craziness in our hearts?

Are the decisions we the people are allowing in our government directly related to the decisions the King of Kings is making about the state of our country? Do these tragic moments reflect His heart as we murder babies, torture prisoners of war and walk all over marriage as He designed it? Is He showing us that all the things we think we know (like global warming and stem cell research) aren't squat to Him? Israel spent plenty of time walking away from Him throughout the Scriptures but there was always a point in which they went too far in their disobedience and disregard. Careful study of His Word will show that He always steps in, and it usually hurts.

I suspect that as we continue to move into icy territory within our hearts and minds, God is going to allow us to freeze in far more ways than we have ever imagined. Consider what will happen when our monetary systems freeze; when all the countries that we import our food from freeze their support? There are so many ways that our negligence, ignorance and down right middle-finger-flipping disobedience is going to land us in big trouble as a nation. We can't continue to disregard Him and His laws, it's that simple! It's time for a wake up call and if a nor'easter is what it takes, then let Him bring it! Perhaps He will freeze us out of our insolence.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Can of Worms

The end of the article I am about to discuss throws off the truth just a little bit. I'm not really sure how I am going to rectify that issue, but I will tell you that what we are about to delve into is a highly controversial arena. The title of the article reads: Homeless transgendered woman murdered in Rome honored by Jesuits. The last sentence says: "While Andrea's dream of a white church wedding was never possible -- at least in death she was accepted by the religion she believed in so deeply." Yep, I am opening up this can of worms, care to squirm with me?

Here's the summation of the article, a Columbian man who felt like a woman moved to Rome in hopes of a greater level of acceptance and yet actually found less. This individual ended up homeless and was frequently beaten at the railway station that was shelter. Ultimately, Andrea Quintero, who was described as "a gentle soul and a devout Catholic," was beaten to death in that same station. Andrea's body remained unclaimed for months.

Interestingly enough, on the same day that Andrea was murdered, the Pope made the following statement in reference to homosexuality, "Who am I to judge?" Now, a lot of people would grab hold of that and run (something like what happens at the close of the article) these same people would ignore the rest of what the Pope said, "while homosexuality is still a sin, gay people should not be marginalized."  No one should be marginalized  ( Merriam-Webster definition: to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group), however loving all people, treating them as human beings (since they aredoes not equate with accepting the sinful choices they have made for their lives.

That said, I am glad that the Jesuits provided Andrea with a funeral, though perhaps someone should have reached out to her in life so that death did not claim her in the midst of sin. Jesus treated everyone as though they were valuable, He did that because every person that walks this earth is of value to Him; He created each and everyone of us but He also died so that we could walk away from the sin that so easily entangles us. So, while Pope Francis uttered his do not judge philosophy he also made it clear that homosexuality is still sin and the wages of sin is death. We can change our laws, we can ratify our politics and alter our perceptions but we cannot, no matter how many meetings and votes we participate in, change the Word of God. God doesn't change and those things He called sin remain thus, period.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I woke up SELFISH

Happy New Year! I woke up selfish. Yes, the woman who told you to make 2014 more about Jesus than about self, woke up sinning. I know, it's a hard thing to admit, but Scripture tells us if we know what to do and don't do it, then it's sin for us. Thusly, being selfish is sinful, that's why we're told to kill self (Mink translation) .

I'll tell you again,  I woke up selfish. I whined (picture a two year old's voice) to my husband as we lay in bed, the baby between us, "Why do you do this to me?" He looked at me like I had four heads and one of them was big enough, mean enough and ugly* enough  to bite his head off. Now, I was referring to his propensity to pat, pinch and otherwise disturb our sleeping seven month-old thereby causing him to stir and then wake. That might not be a problem except it necessitates my rising to tend to him. See, I told you I woke up selfish! I considered including some oh-woe-is-me statements in here too. Like, the baby had already been up at 12:30 am and 4:00 am, but it wouldn't make me less guilty, or less in need of repentance.

Ultimately, I ended up apologizing to my husband and my King. I tell you this because it's so easy to wake up self-centered, self-absorbed and selfish. Recognizing that tendency, admitting it and striving to rectify it rather than justify it, is where the struggle begins. So perhaps we'd be better served to take  small steps towards perfection instead of hoping for immediate change wrapped up in the pretty bow of a new year and all the other decorative (yet, 
useless) resolutions that come with it.
*When the Korean ladies at the nail salon are offering you botox, nips and tucks rather than an eyebrow wax, you've earned the title, ugly!