All of the debate about in vitro-fertilization has made us question again, “What is human life? When does it begin?” We know that each of us is the result of a single egg from our mother being fertilized by a single sperm from our father. The basis of our existence is amazingly mysterious and beautiful.
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Navalny’s death in Russia’s maximum-security prison in the Arctic Circle reminds
us that this generation is like all those that preceded it. Always there have been despots and regimes
willing to commit murder, even genocide, to secure their power. Putin’s chief
rival joins a long line of potential adversaries who have met an untimely death.
The public reaction in Russia is muted. Everyone knows the dangers of resistance. According to news sources about 400 people in 8 cities were arrested by state Russian police when they attempted to attend vigils or lay flowers in tribute to Navalny. A priest was arrested for planning a public prayer vigil. Russia is not the United States. Freedom of speech and public assembly is not protected.
I visited Moscow shortly after the Soviet Union dissolved. It was a bleak place I viewed the corpse in Lenin’s tomb and descended into the depths of the subway system, the deepest subway in the world, built to serve as bomb shelters during the cold war.
Navalny’s death reminds us of events almost a century ago, June 30 through July 2, 1934 when Adolf Hitler consolidated his power by killing adversaries who would oppose him, an event that would come to be known as the Night of the Long Knives.
A few years ago, my wife and I spent the summer in Nuremberg, Germany. While there, we toured the Dokuzentrum, the Document Center that was constructed in post WW II Germany at the Nazi rally site that drew millions during Hitler’s rule. The Center was built to document the atrocities of Nazi Germany, including the Holocaust. We must not forget the depths to which governments can sink and the need for every generation to protect human rights and freedom.
The Cross of Jesus Christ casts a dark shadow across the landscape of human history. The Cross bears witness to the depths of human depravity, the injustices to which individuals and governments can sink. Bound up in the Cross is the innocent suffering in every generation. All of our sins are there, in the darkness that descended upon Golgotha.
The Resurrection of Jesus dispels that darkness. The eye-witness accounts of those who saw Jesus, who spoke with him, ate with him and touched him after he rose from the dead bear witness. Life overcomes death. Righteousness triumphs over evil. Two thousand years of testimony by believers in every age and every nation affirm this truth.
As Isaiah wrote, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, but He merely blows on them, and they wither, and the storm carries them away like stubble. ... Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary,” (Isaiah 40).
Tuesday, February 13, 2024
people live in the world today than at any other time in history, more than 8
billion with another 200,000 added daily.
More people live in the United States today than at any other time in
history, over 335 million with 80% living in cities. We are more connected than ever before, by
cell phone, text, email and social media. And, despite all this, we are lonely.
A recent headline in USA Today, proclaimed, “Americans are lonely and it’s killing them. ”The article went on to say, “ America has a new epidemic. It cannot be treated using traditional therapies even though it has debilitating even deadly consequences. The problem seeping in at the corners of our communities is loneliness.
Perhaps our drive to gather in huge numbers is a symptom of our loneliness. Stadiums and sports venues are overflowing. The Taylor Swift Eras tour has packed out stadiums worldwide, averaging 72,000 per concert in the US. Swift jetted home from Tokyo to join more than 61,000 at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, while more than 200,000 packed the Waste Management golf tournament in Phoenix.
At one time or another we all feel lonely. Even though we are surrounded by other people. Sometimes it stems from a feeling that no one seems to understand, that no one knows who we really are “inside.” Sometimes it stems from having no one in whom we can confide.
Sometimes we feel like we just don’t fit in. This can be especially acute for teenagers trying to find their way, searching for their own identity. The urge to dress alike, look alike, talk alike and act alike can be overwhelming and leave us with a feeling that, for all our efforts to be accepted, we don’t belong.
At other times, loneliness is the result of isolation. This can be especially true for the home-bound, the disabled and the elderly, widows and widowers. Days may pass without having a visitor or someone with whom to talk.
So, how do we respond in this age of loneliness. There are several simple starting places.
First, know that God knows you. He knows you better than you know yourself. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” (Jeremiah 1:5). “Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I get up; you understand my thought from far away. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways, (Psalm 139:1-3). “
Second, seek out a faith community. Go to church. Participate in a small group where you can be known and loved. “Not abandoning our own meeting together but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching,” (Hebrews 10:25).
Third, be there for someone else. Seek out the isolated, the ostracized and the rejected. Be a friend to someone else. Visit the homebound. Pick up the phone. Call someone.
God never intended that we should be alone or feel lonely. From the outset of creation God saw that “It is not good for man to be alone,” (Genesis 2:18). “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy dwelling. God makes a home for the lonely,” (Psalm 68:5-6).
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Tuesday, February 6, 2024
Most of us know what it is to lose a pet: cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, others. They are all short lived compared to our own life expectancy. In our lifetime we will likely experience the emotions of burying one or more of our furry and feathered friends. Two years ago we laid down our tri-color Corgi, Buddy. We never forget these special friends who share portions of our life-journey.
Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Some time ago, I assisted in the funeral for a close friend. He was older by almost twenty years, and became my mentor more than thirty years ago. He was a take-charge kind of guy and I always imagined him going out like John Wayne in The Shootist. Consistent with his personality, he left specific instructions for his funeral, including the passage he wanted the pastor to preach and the three points he wanted him to make. To his friends he wrote, “I want there to be more laughter than tears. After all, I will be in Heaven.”
Tuesday, January 23, 2024
In the Academy Award winning movie, Gravity, astronaut Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, has found her way aboard the Soyuz space craft. The sole survivor of her mission, she is marooned in space without hope of survival. Having lost radio contact with her command center, she scans the frequencies seeking someone with whom she might make contact.
Monday, January 15, 2024
Six years ago, two weeks before Christmas, our daughter-in-law was diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer. Her children were all still at home. She endured the chemo treatments with courage, determination, optimism and faith. Her family and friends gathered around her with encouragement, support, and love. Her faith and marriage with our son grew deeper and stronger.