Tuesday, November 26, 2019

God's Helping Hand

So often we think of God as the cosmic cop, looking for all the ways you mess up. We hide from that kind of surveillance. And we resent it.

But God is not really like that. The word "satan" actually means "accuser." God is not our accuser. He's our helper.

"For I am the Lord, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
Do not fear;
I will help you." --Isaiah 41:13

With divine tenderness and compassion, God reaches through all the clutter, busyness, sin, rebellion, fear, and anger in our lives. He reaches through and takes us by the hand. He is for us. He is with us. He longs to help us, right where we are.

God is reaching out his hand to us in the midst of all the pressure, travel, temptation, expectation of this holiday season.

Take his hand. He is with you. He is for you.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Tears for America

This morning I was reflecting on Veterans Day, and I thought of all my friends who have served in the U.S. military. I thought of the great privilege of living in our country. It really brought me to tears. My father, grandfather, and other ancestors fought for our freedom.

In our land, we live in peace. I don't have to worry about marauding gangs coming through town, breaking into houses and businesses. Soldiers don't stand watch on the corners because we don't need them there. People from all around the world long to live in the U.S. because of the great opportunities, resources, and freedom here.

We celebrate innovation in America. We allow creative minds to benefit from their inventions. Inventors can patent and market their new creations, bringing new products and technologies to the rest of us. We expect every gadget to be improved every year, from cars to vacuum cleaners to cell phones. And we also expect to be able to get any item in the world delivered to our door, often overnight. Our culture is all about better, faster, cheaper.

We are also a generous people. As charities thrive, our country shares love with all kinds of needy people--those with medical needs, financial needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs. When there is some disaster, we respond with food, medicine, equipment, workers. We do that across the country and around the world.

Our great blessings bring tears to my eyes. But there are also other kinds of tears. We incarcerate more people than other countries. We don't always live up to our belief that "all men are created equal." Our free market has rewarded greed. There are high rates of suicide and addiction. We can monetize virtually any endeavor. We tend to be materialistic. We claim to value life, but often fail to protect people until they are born. We believe in equality, but minorities find that some are more equal than others.

We long for society to be just, fair, and free. Our highest ideals are lofty, and we often fall short of them. In spite of our imperfection, we also like to "encourage" other cultures to take on our ways of life and government, assuming that our way is best for everyone. Doesn't everyone think like we do?

At home, too many are at each others' political throats. The "gotcha" culture sets a trap for everyone who takes a stand. Our principles say that everyone has a right to free speech, no matter how absurd or offensive that speech may be. But some self-appointed guardians have created arbitrary rules of political correctness.

There is a gap between our principles and our reality. But our principles really are worth fighting for. Thank you to our Veterans for taking that stand and putting their lives on the line. May we seek to honor that sacrifice by living into the real American values of truth, honor, and justice.