Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lord Acton is credited with the quote, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Our nation has been gripped by examples of the force of power. Herman Cain, one of the front-runners in the GOP presidential candidate race, has been accused of using his position of power to sexually harass women in the workplace. It has been grueling to listen to the charges leveled against him.
And – all eyes are on Happy Valley, Pennsylvania as one of the nation’s most respected athletic programs now is reeling in the wake of the explosive news that one of Joe Paterno’s long-time assistants is alleged to have engaged in several acts of the sexual abuse of children. It is awful. Each successive report seems to give more graphic details in a sordid chain of events that allegedly has occurred over the course of years at the revered Penn State University.
I have no idea how much of any of this is true. I don’t know what Herman Cain has done or has not done. I don’t know for sure what has happened at Penn State. However, I do know that the abuse of power is nothing new to the human race. Fallen humans have a difficult time in stewarding power in productive and healthy means. It is easy to exert power over others in ways that victimize the weak and vulnerable members of society.
All of this is another reminder to me of just how broken humanity really is. Innocent children and adults suffer every day due to the abuse of power by those who are in power. Many of these victims suffer in silence because their voice has never been heard. Or, because their voice has been silenced by those who know better.
All of this to say – we need to be good stewards of the power entrusted to us. Are you in a position of power? Are you a boss, leader, employer, etc.? If so, how are you handling your position of power? Are you striving to be Christ-like in your exercise of the duties associated with your position? Are you sensitive to the needs of those who are less powerful? Are you self-critical and self-aware as you exert influence?
For those of us who are in positions of power, may we be guided by the Spirit of God and may our actions be tempered by the grace of God.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Week 2011 - Monday
Matthew 26:1-30

Today's reading contains 4 distinct scenes - each of which is worthy of examination:
Scene 1: The Palace of Caiaphas
Word of Jesus' entry to Jerusalem had spread to the religious leaders in Jerusalem. No doubt they were threatened by the response of the people to Jesus. These leaders discuss their plot to kill this interloper. They were not going to allow Jesus to continue to influence the Jewish people. The only answer was to kill him. But -- the question was, "How?"
Scene 2: The Home of Simon the Leper
This event actually occurred on Saturday night prior to the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday. Matthew places it here for thematic emphasis. John puts it in chronological order for us. In any event, this was quite a gathering. Simon (presumably cured of leprosy) and Lazarus (cured of . . . death!) were in attendance. At some point in the evening, Mary annoints the body of Jesus with pure nard. It was an incredible act of worship. Certainly this was Mary's most prize possession. How she had obtained a flask of pure nard (from the Himalayan region) -- who knows? Regardless, it was worth more than anything she possessed. She felt led to offer it to Jesus in a spontaneous act of pure devotion. Jesus received this gift and blessed her for offering it to him.
Scene 3: Meeting with the Chief Priests
Judas Iscariot commits the dastardly deed of betraying Jesus to the Chief Priests. How much was the life of the Son of God worth to Judas? 30 pieces of silver. In Exodus 21, we read that this is the amount to be paid to a slave owner if the slave was gored to death by a bull. By the time of Jesus, this was considered a tip -- a small amount of cash used for cheap purchases.
Scene 4: The Lord's Supper
Jesus shares His final Passover meal with His closest friends. In the midst of the celebration, he offers a re-interpretation of the bread and wine. From now on, the bread will symbolize his body and the wine will remind His followers of His blood. This celebration will be known as The Lord's Supper and the followers of Jesus participate in this symbolic rite to this very day.

Four very distinct scenes.

Plotting. Annointing. Betraying. Celebrating.

Mary gave the best she had.

Judas got whatever he could get.

Jesus gave His very life.

The Chief Priests missed it all.

As you and I begin Holy Week 2011 -- may we be inspired by Mary's gift. May we be challenged by Jesus' obedience.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Snowed/Iced In
We have been snowed/iced in here in the DFW metroplex for a couple of days now. And it is bitter cold outside still. A few more days until the temperature rises above freezing. Here a few of my reflections while I have been "home-bound."

We are not in control. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are not in control of everything. This week is the biggest week in many years in the metroplex. The Super Bowl is here! Can you imagine the hours spent in planning for the events of this week? Or, the incredible amount of money invested in special things planned JUST for this week? And, guess what? We are not in control. Now, don't get me wrong. I want Arlington and the whole area to be great hosts to this event. Sure, I want our area to benefit economically from it all. And, I want us to have the chance to show people the love of Christ while they are in town. But -- I can't help but stop and think about how we can plan and plan and plan and plan -- and yet, we ultimately are not in control of everything.

Rest is good. Many of us have been off work or out of school for a couple of days now. For those of us who "go pretty hard" at life, rest is a good thing when it comes. Sometimes we are forced to rest. I'll admit that I have taken full advantage of some down time. I have rested. I hope you have!

Relationships are important. When we are "forced" to stay home, we have the opportunity to develop our family relationships a bit. Relationships are the stuff of life. We all need healthy relationships. It is good to sit and talk, listen and just enjoy each other's company. Our busy lives often are so full of activity that superficiality rules the day. So -- this is a great chance to deepen the connection you have with the people who are truly most important to you.

TV needs help. I'm not the biggest TV watcher in America anyway. I definitely am not an expert on daytime TV since I have a JOB. But - I have flipped through the channels a couple of times in the past two days. Lots of channels -- U-Verse channels. And . . . TV just needs some help. There are plenty of options for viewing -- just very few good options.

Nameless people keep things running. While I am at home, sitting by the fire, sipping coffee, reading, studying, hanging out with my family - whatever ---- there is a host of people working across the metroplex. For most of us, they are the nameless people. They are keeping the roads clear, keeping the electricity working (even with the occasional outages), handling traffic problems, keeping the natural gas flowing, keeping telephone service intact, etc. Yeah, the nameless folks are making it all happen everyday -- and particularly today.

God is good. If you are reading this blog, you are blessed. If you have a warm house with a roof over your head, you are blessed. God is just good, y'all. He just is. He has provided so much for us. We take Him for granted so often. He is good. All the time.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Space Shuttles

I remember where I was when the first Space Shuttle launched back in 1981. I was working for a funeral home in Alabama and I had been dispatched to the crematorium on Birmingham's south side. The company I worked for at the time had 17 funeral homes in Alabama, but only one of them actually was equipped for cremation. Anyway, I was there to pick up the remains of the deceased -- and the morticians were all gathered around a TV to watch the launching of the Columbia. I remember that it seemed like a science fiction movie. Human beings were going to orbit the earth, return to the atmosphere and land the space craft at an airstrip. It was incredible.

I had just returned home from a seminary class in 1986 and switched on the TV in our apartment and watched the Challenger accident. It was surreal. Obviously, the fact that a school teacher was aboard the space craft heightened everyone's awareness of the launch and added to the grief of the whole experience.

I moved to Huntsville, Alabama in 1995 and became more knowledgeable about the space industry due to NASA's presence in that community. The NASA folks in Huntsville take all the space tragedys very personally. Generally speaking, the Marshall Space and Flight Center in Huntsville is in charge of each launch until the space vehicle leaves the atmosphere. Then, Mission Control in Houston takes over. So, the Challenger accident was principally connected to the Huntsville branch of NASA. It is a tough anniversary each year in Huntsville, to say the least.

Then, I was awakened early one Saturday morning in 2003 when something struck our roof. It was such a strange sound that I got up and went outside to look around. We then received a phone call from one of our friends to alert us to the fact that Columbia has been obliterated upon re-entry into the atmosphere. Parts of the shuttle were strewn across north Texas. Again, it was surreal.

We have certainly benefited from NASA's space exploration program. However, like most significant endeavors, it comes with risk and cost. Unfortunately the cost has been measured in more than dollars and man hours. It has actually resulted in the loss of several lives. These folks are heroes to us. They were willing to risk their lives to be involved in one of the most adventurous and daring enterprises in scientific discovery -- exploring outer space. Today, we remember them and pay tribute to their contributions.


Sunday, January 02, 2011

Should Old Guys be Blogging?

I think it is a legit question. I mean -- guys over 50 (that would be me) -- should we be blogging? The good bloggers all seem to be hip, cool and aware of the latest trends. They also have cool graphics and just good stuff on their blog pages.

What about us old guys? I don't really know how to put cool stuff on here. I'm not too good at adding links, photos and such.

But -- I'm going to try blogging for a while. See what happens. I guess I'll answer my own question -- at least for me.

Today, I preached on Ephesians 4. It is an awesome passage of scripture! So rich in meaning. The imagery is profound. Connecting "worthy" to the use of scales in the market was a brilliant stroke of Paul's pen (stylus or whatever he used). Recognizing our connectedness to one another is also a powerful word from this passage. And -- I love the challenge to progress toward maturity.

Yeah, Ephesians 4 is a great place to start the new year.