|Thursday, February 21, 2019|
She doesn’t walk—she stomps.
She doesn’t run—she lunges.
There is more subtlety in a stick of dynamite than in the two-year-old we know and adore as Ava. But once those magnificent blue eyes of hers lock with yours—especially while she flashes her impish grin—you will be reduced to play dough in her chunky hands.
Ava recently spent a Saturday with us, amusing and entertaining my wife and me from breakfast through late afternoon. The two-year-old tutor also tried to teach me a lesson along the way.
It started when I coughed. Ava immediately whipped her head away from what she was doing and asked, “You okay?” Her extended eye-contact lent a sincerity to the moment that caught me off guard.
Later that morning she heard my wife, Diana, sneeze. “Are you okay?” she again intoned, a living picture of care and comfort. Sensing my struggle in attempting to repair the door of our mailbox she once again inquired, “You okay?”
Ava is soon to be a big sister, and she practices her “sistering” and “mothering” on two dolls we keep in the toy room. Once, in a moment of pretend troubles, I overheard Ava asking her dolls, “You okay?” The dolls must have signaled they were fine, as there was no further dialogue on the matter.
But what if you and I asked each other the same question with the same sincerity as Ava? What if we regularly looked lovingly at our spouse and inquired, “You okay?” And what if we put down our phones and tablets long enough to really listen?
What if all day long friends and coworkers heard from our mouth, “You okay?” And what if we followed that question with that rarest of gifts—our undivided attention? What if the one thing that defined our reputation was the willingness to ask—and listen—for the answer to that lovely question, “You okay?”
Wouldn’t the world outside find the Jesus inside us irresistible?
|When Trains Talk
|Thursday, February 14, 2019|
Freight trains are as common as cats—and for some, more preferable.
Stepping off the commuter train I ride every day, I walked parallel to a freighter rolling toward the stock yards. With no fence between me and the goods-laden train just a few feet to my left, I chose my path carefully, intrigued by the sounds I was hearing. Or not hearing.
A series of gondola cars eased past, eerily silent. One could barely discern the press of their steel wheels on the rails. Hardly a whoosh.
But other cars creaked. Flat cars shuddered, tankers shrieked, while box cars groaned. Some rumbled as if their metallic insides were fighting a rail car version of intestinal flu, their insides heaving and jangling.
I was immediately puzzled. Why the extreme difference in sounds? These train cars were all on the same track, heading the same direction, pulled by the same locomotive all traveling at the same speed. Why such disparity in the way they hugged the track?
I’m hardly a railroad expert like my friend, or a physics teacher like my dad. But after pondering the rolling stock for some time, I made the following basic observations :
Forgive my over active imagination as I suggest there might be a spiritual analogy in this, ur...train of thought.
Sadly, I must confess, I sometimes look at people and wonder, Why is he making such a racket about that issue? Why such noise over something so “small?” Or—Why can’t she just deal with this quietly, minus all the moaning and groaning? I’m sure you would never be so unspiritual and think those kinds of thoughts, would you? 😊
Turns out people share more in common with freight trains than you might think. Just like train cars…
It's tempting to look at exteriors or circumstances or other visible triggers and presume we know what’s going on inside another person. But we don’t. Nor should we be consumed with guessing.
Our Heavenly Father has built us all differently. And we don’t carry the same load. So some of us may at times come across like our insides are being jangled. We may shudder or shriek or groan.
Seems to me we need to give each other the grace to be who we’ve been built to be, carrying whatever burdens our Father has asked us to carry. More than that, let’s remember the huge advantage we humans have over train cars. We can actually help carry the loads our sisters and brothers are bearing.
All aboard! Next stop….the twin-cities of Grace and Mercy!
|Missions without Jesus
|Thursday, February 07, 2019|
The word missionary seems to have evolved. And I’m not sure it’s for the best.
I understand a missionary to be someone who uses their gifting (preaching, teaching, translating, nursing, music, construction, administration, arts, etc.) to share the central gospel message: that our sins now separate us from God and we are in desperate need of the Savior, Jesus.
As we support several different missionaries, my wife and I enjoy reading their updates and newsletters. But Jesus seems to be getting less and less press. We read about construction projects, clean water initiatives, ministries to the poor and other good things. But there’s often very little said about the gospel. How we long to read, “This girl we talked with seemed far from the kingdom. And then she met Christ. Now her life is so different because….”
Drilling wells, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, freeing sex slaves—are surely noble tasks—and certainly in line with the heart of Christ. Indeed, Christians must be leading the world in these efforts. But they are not in themselves the gospel!
I'm not saying it’s either/or—that we should only preach the gospel and not bother with humanitarian relief or biblical justice. I am asking: Where is the problem of sin and the solution of the cross in our good-deed-doing?
To be clear, we ought never to offer our service, our medical care, our food or water conditionally (“if you accept Jesus, then we will help you”). Christ made no demands before healing or doing good of any kind. He simply helped or healed. But nor did He fail to let people know of their fundamental need to repent, with Himself as the solution to their sin problem.
If there isn’t God in our good or Jesus in our justice, we offer a lesser gospel fashioned of feel-good causes and hipster compassion. For, in the end, there is no real justice without Jesus, no good apart from God.
So let our hands dig wells—while our mouths speak of Christ. Let us advocate for the poor—but be unfailingly courageous in connecting Jesus with our justice. May our spirits be welded to the task of meeting physical needs so that we might address the ultimate need of every heart: Christ and Christ only.
|The Wishing Trees
|Thursday, January 31, 2019|
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International airport. You’re familiar with it, aren’t you? It’s the airport that spans the border between Luzerne and Lackawanna counties in northeast Pennsylvania.
Actually, I’d never flown there myself until this week. Couldn’t help but notice there were still a few Christmas decorations around, including a lovely set of brightly lit “Wishing Trees.” The ornaments on these trees were round cardboard discs upon which people wrote their wishes for the new year. Here’s a sampling of the wishes I discovered:
There were a few wish zingers from kids. Among the many adult comments, I observed these wee wishes:
Some wishes were haunting. Or profound. Like these:
But the best wish I found wasn’t so much of a wish as a declaration. See if you don’t resonate with this one:
May your “Wishing Tree” be bright with the light of this kind of love—all year long!
|He Did What He Could
|Thursday, January 24, 2019|
He sniffed the winds and smelled trouble.
When Georges Loinger heard Hitler on the radio, he shuddered. When he saw Hitler’s book in the store, he gasped. And began to prepare.
In the late 1930s, Loinger, an engineer by background, became a physical education teacher with the intention of “preparing and training Jewish youth for the ordeal that awaited” (UK Times). When the Nazis invaded France in 1940, Loinger—who fought with the French army—was captured and hauled to a prison camp near Munich. After escaping, he joined the French resistance force.
The blond-hair, blue-eyed Loinger routinely lead groups of Jewish kids on soccer trips “conveniently” hosted near France’s border with neutral Switzerland. “Amazingly,” the ball would often be kicked toward the border, where several students would dive into the woods in pursuit (following their teacher’s careful instructions to flee for their lives). It happened again. And again. And again.
With his excellent command of German, Loinger once convinced a group of Nazi officers that the group of 50 children he was escorting had fled the Allied bombing of Marseille. Reportedly, the Germans gave the Jewish kids candy, even joining along with their singing. Georges Loinger simply did what he could, ultimately saving hundreds of Jewish children.
Earlier this month, Loinger died at the remarkable age of 108, his reported last words, “Nobody can destroy Jewish culture.” He surely deserves our heartiest salute as a selfless rescuer.
But might there be a lesson or two for Christ followers in the example of Georges Loinger? Consider:
You don’t have to be a hunting dog to sniff the winds and know that trouble is on the way again. For Jews. For Christians. For many.
It’s time to prepare.
|Records per page First Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 of 72 Next Last|