Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Being bullied is no fun

They bullied a girl so much she took her life

I was saddened when I heard the news about Phoebe Prince, the 15 year old Hadley, Mass. girl who committed suicide after being bullied. At first, I wondered how being talked about could result in a suicide; then I read the facts.

There were nine youth charged for bullying her. They participated in "a nearly-three-month campaign" of verbal assaults and physical threats against Phoebe. Phoebe's picture was scribbled out of a student-body photo hanging on a classroom wall. The bullies slammed her on Face book and sent her mean text messages. The attacks culminated on the day of her death in a "torturous day" during which Phoebe was harassed in the library, in the hallways, and walking down the street on her way home. On the afternoon of her death, a few of them reportedly drove by her while she walked home, shouted "Irish slut" and "Irish whore," and threw a soda at her.

She couldn't take it anymore.

I remember being bullied in school. I was short and nerdy. It was easy to crack on me. I felt bad even though I was not suicidal.

Often youth don't think how their actions make others feel. Everyone wants to be accepted, approved and to some degree assimilated. None of us like personal attacks.

There is a verse in Matthew 7:12 that says, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."

Maybe the bullies who pushed Phoebe to her death by their taunts should have learned the lesson of Matthew 7:12

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Who wants to be Carlton anyway?

Who wants to be Carlton? We all want to be Fresh Prince!

I watched an episode of The Fresh Prince last night. I recalled a study that was done about that revealed the subtle, negative message black youth are given about achievement and success. The study noted that through many images, many perhaps unintended, youth are prompted to frown on education. The Fresh Prince was a glaring example given.

It appears that Carlton is a highly educated, scholar who speaks foreign languages and is skilled in the arts, economics and other areas. However, rather than being the hero of the series, Carlton is depicted as "Not cool" and a "Nerd." On the other hand, Will Smith is depicted as not too smart,fun loving, popular, street wise and loveable. Despite the fact that he is a dropout and non-achiever, he is the one that kids most want to emulate. The suggestion is clear: Education means Nerd; dropping out and being street wise means being "The Fresh Prince."

That's not the shows intended goal but the results are clear: No black kid admires Carlton but most admire Will Smith. Such shows give the impression that learning, discipline and achivement will turn them into Carlton, a nerd.

What a subtle suggestion! It's powerful.

Our youth should be urged to hang with those who are trying to climb higher and to do God's will, not those who are doing just the opposite.

There are two verses in the bible that speak to this subject. Psalms 1:1-2 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God. But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely.

People may laugh at Carlton because he can't dance, but he'll probably end up owning the dance hall and the rap group that provides the music.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

We picked up their meal ticket

They got a free meal on us!

Members of our church fanned out across the city to perform a kind act for we did not know.

Yesterday we passed out little gold cards that informed the recipient that they were being treated to a free meal today as a reminder that God loves and provides. The card asked them to return the act of kindness by doing the same for someone else, leaving them the same message. Sunday it was meals. Sometimes we do other things such as leaving love packages for the trash collectors or slices of cake and a glasses of water for mail carriers. They are small acts of kindness but if multiplied by thousands they could make the world a better place.

Yesterday, my wife and I met a man and his daughters in a restuarant. He was not indigent, but the absence of the mother was obvious to that family picture. We introduced ourselves, passsed him our card and picked up his ticket.

We only asked that he pay it forward to someone else and light up their world in the name of Christ.

When we do kind acts of love, we let our light shine and God is glorified. Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

The man and his daughters looked at my wife an I with an unbelieving eye; but they didn't turn down the offer. The entire bill was $59.00!

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Friday, March 26, 2010

The "I'll bust you in your mouth" syndrome

Vulgarities, threats and acts of vengeance are becoming common. Even children are learning its ugly ways.

The nation is extremely divided over the health care issue. This week congressmen, both Democrats and Republicans, have received threatening phone calls, bricks thrown through windows, a gas line cut at a home and effigies hung. People who are angry because of their votes on the issue have taken matters in their own hands. Threats of violence and violent acts have resulted.

As those threats hit the news there are reports of police officers being targeted by gang members in California in what the governor is calling urban terrorism. Driveby shootings, and thuggery are on the increase. There seems to be a trend toward violent retribution in the nation.

It starts personally when one person calls another and threatens them verbally or physically.

It starts globally when one nation threatens to drop bombs on another or one president pledges to capture or kill the leader of another nation. Retribution inspires more retribution and violence inspires more violence.

When a perceived evil has been done we should work to correct it using every legitimate channel at our disposal; but retribution and violence should not be an option.

Romans 12:19 says, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

Even as I think on this, there are two children on the playground with their fists balled up and chests bumping yelling threats, "Say something! I dare you! Say something and I'll bust you in your mouth."

And the cycle of violence continues...

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Once, twice, three times a lady

What's the definition of a lady these days?

During our bible study last night the subject of Lionel Richie's song "Three times a lady" arose in connection with a bible lesson about Ruth as an example of a young virtuous woman. When adults and youth were asked their definitions of a lady there were striking contrasts: Adults spoke of integrity, chastity and discipline. Youth spoke of tasteful dress, not being ghetto and education as standards. Adults said a lady would not accept gifts from a man; youth quickly said gifts could be accepted if they were not stolen. Youth never associated chastity or integrity as a criterion; they focused more on public appearances.

It soon became obvious that the definition of a lady has changed for this generation. The youth were on the verge of saying that being a lady may be best but ladies are not popular because ladies don't sport visible tattoos, dress sexy, flirt or engage in the fun of gossip. They say being a lady is a downer but it is more respectable.

The Isley Brothers asked the question, "Who's that lady?" and the bible points us to Ruth: A Lady by virtue of her loyalty to her husband, personal integrity and sense of decency in all matters.

Ruth 3:11 says, "... for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman."

Lionel Richie put it this way, "She's once, twice, three times a lady."

Regardless of age a true lady has three characteristics: A sense of responsibility, virtue and decency in all matters.

She's three times a lady.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A place with free health care

There's a place with no health care worries!

The whole country seems to be divided over the health debate. Yesterday, The president signed into law a bill that will make sweeping changes in the way the nation responds to health care issues. Some like it; it seems that the overwhelming majority of the nation does not like it. The debate continues as people yell at each other, break out windows, threaten Congressman and prepare to campaign against the Democrats who voted for the changes.

As the debate continues, health care remains out of reach for millions who won't be covered by the new law either.

The frustration makes us all yearn for the time when health care won't be a concern or a need for that matter. Is there such a time coming? Is there a place free of health care concerns?

The bible renews a promise to all believers that in the kingdom of heaven there will be no health issues such as: arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer's, high blood pressure, heart failure or any of a thousand maladies. There will be no sickness at all.

Symbolic of this health care victory will be a tree that will sprout leaves that heal the nations. It'll be symbolic because there will be no sickness.

Revelation 22:2 says, "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."

The best part about what's coming is that there will be no monthly premiums, denials for pre-existing conditions or increasing rates.

It'll all be free; paid for by the blood of the lamb.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Between frigid and hot flashes.

I nearly froze Sunday, it's scorching hot today!

The weather is really strange. Sunday it snowed in March; not enough to stick but nevertheless it snowed in Louisiana in March. The next day it was 65 degrees. Today it was 75 degrees. Natural phenomenon is highly unpredictable. It seems that all of us are constantly swinging somewhere between frigidity and hot flashes. We don't know whether it will be hot or cold. There are earthquakes, wars, and even if not real wars there are rumors of wars. The ice cap is melting and things are getting topsy turfy. What does it all mean?

It could mean that we are getting close to the last days.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:7-8 "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."

It looks as if scripture is fulfilling itself. The closer we get to the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, the more unusual occurences we can expect. We should prepare.

Until then keep your coats ready for one day and your swim trunks ready for next. We don't know what each day will bring. However, we go forward, knowing whose in charge.

Our God has the whole world in His hands!

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Monday, March 22, 2010

The free toothpick sample was tasty

I almost filled up on the samples..almost!

After worship yesterday, my wife and I went to Walmart to get a few items. There was an attendant who offered shoppers free samples of a tasty chicken recipe, bathed in a delicious sauce. The sample was on a toothpick. I tasted the sample, walked around and returned for a second sample, then a third. I liked the samples so much I finally bought a box for myself.

I think that was the whole idea of the samples; to get customers to tryout a product with which they are unfamiliar. Hopefully, they would like the sample so much they would buy the product. It worked.

That's the way it is with God and the wonderful joy he brings to our lives. There are many who do not understand the happy life we live as Christians. It's a life that does not need the world's artificial sweeteners such as booze, drugs and loose living. They won't know unless they trust God for themselves. Just one taste and they will never turn back.

There is a bible verse in Psalms 34:8 that says, "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him."

Just one taste and we will want more of the abundant life he promises.

I have a whole box of those chicken pieces now. Now that I have my own I don't have to walk around in circles and eat from a toothpick!

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

When I turn 99, it'll be fun

He turned 99 and looked well.

I attended a birthday party for a man who turned 99 years old yesterday. He was surrounded by his wife, all of his children, all of his grandchildren and great grands; all in the same place at the same time. He was alert, walked in the room and was fastidiously dressed for his 99th birthday photo. It was an inspiration.

It made me wonder about my 99th birthday. That'll be in the year 2048. Things will have changed then. I hope to be of sound mind and still planning for the future, obviously not mine, but those of my grandchildren and beyond.

What is more important than a long life is living a productive life. We should show God's love everyday, help the poor, show the lost the error of their ways and challenge injustice in high places. At the end of the day, we will be blessed.

Psalms 41:2 has a word of promise to those keep doing God's will despite advancing age, "The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies."

As for my 99th birthday party, I think I'd like some lemon ice cream and a slice of butter soaked, home made pound cake.

After that, I'll get on my wristband computer, call up a digital visual screen and begin plans for my 100th birthday!

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

A house full of junk

They accumulated so much junk in their homes they could not move around!

I watched a CNN news report yesterday about people CNN called hoarders. For some strange reason these individuals feel the need to accumulate what can only be described as junk. One man could not get to his kitchen, see his sofa or climb a stairway in his home because of junk. A woman ate her food in a small junkless space in her living room because the rest of her spacious home was filled with items she picked up on the side of the road, at rummage sales and Goodwills. Their homes were filled with every room, including their bathrooms!

They all have a disorder that prompts them to collect junk. They can't help themselves.

Most of us may not be hoarders but we do allow junk to accumulate in our lives. Our junk may be leftover baggage from a prior relationship, bad habits, impure thoughts and hatreds, jealousies, etc. As the years pass the junk accumulates quickly. Soon our junk overwhelms us, suffocates us to the point that we can't really live.

Jesus said in John 10:10, ".. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

Those who truly follow Christ accumulate those things that will contribute to the abundant life. It means we get rid of the junk and start to really live.

As I watched those hoarders on CNN I thought about my closet; I have some junk to throw out too!

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Friday, March 19, 2010

I couldn't find the light switch

The seat was laid back and the music was throbbing, but worse of all, I couldn't find the light switch!

My son borrowed my Expedition to make a short trip out of town; he left me his 2005 Ford Escape. Last night when I got in his SUV, the seats were laid back and the music was on a 1970's groove jam station that blasted as soon as the motor turned on. For about two minutes I fumbled around in the dark looking for light switch. (In the Expedition the lights automatically turn on when its dark). My hands felt in all the usual places unsuccessfully. I finally found the switch on the steering column when I expected the windshield wiper to be. Click! Lights!

There are many people who are fumbling around looking for lights. They are looking in all of the places that custom says should allow them to see clearly, move higher and lead happier lives; but they are fumbling. Drinking, gambling, sex, and greed based ambition are all located where the light switch should be, but they can't shed any light on what's really important.

In John 8:12 Jesus said, "I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have light of life."

There is no need to fumble in the dark if we follow Jesus. Where is the switch that will turn us on to him? He's only a prayer away!

I'll give my son his Escape back today; it's OK but at least in my car, the lights know when to come on!

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

She buys 100 lottery tickets every day!

It was hard to believe, but yesterday I watched a woman purchase 100 lottery tickets at one time.

The line at the convenience store was long and patrons were getting restless as we waited for the machine to print one hundred .50 cent lottery tickets for a woman who patiently waited, then handed the cashier a $50 bill. She was excited. Apparently she won $2,500.00 the night before and averages between $3,000 and $4,000 a month playing the "Pick Four game."

She explained to the attendant that she buys 100 tickets a day, spending about $1500 a month. The odds are in her favor she says, and so far she has doubled her money. She uses the first $1,500 she wins to pay for the next month.

She has no job. She plays the lottery for a living and on a good month clears about $2,500 a month. She says she never has a completely losing month, but there is always a chance.

I smiled as I watched her and thought about the millions of people who take chances with their salvation in the same way. In a cruel game of spiritual Russian Roulette some gamble on their salvation, rejecting Christ and refusing salvation; hoping to gain eternal life by chance.

Acts 4:12 reminds us that there is "none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." We should not take a chance on anything else.

We won't get to heaven by lottery and we can't devise a strategy to gain admittance. We must accept Jesus, repent from our sins, and live for him.

The lady who bought the lottery tickets says she has a fool proof plan for guaranteed income without working, but there is no guaranteed way to get to heaven without Christ.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"I'll never kiss a frog!"

"I'll never kiss a frog!"

Those were the words of the heroine in the new Disney movie, "The Princess and the Frog." It tells the story of a black girl in New Orleans who had big dreams of finding prince charming and business success, but they would required her to kiss a frog to find her prince. She began the movie adamantly saying she would never kiss a frog.

It was a children's movie. Since we have grandchildren, my wife and I previewed it last night, in preparation for for the numerous times we will probably have to watch it as they watch it over and over again. Among the ideas the movie subtly passed along is to never say what you won't do because often you must do the unthinkable to succeed.

Life is that way too. We often have to "kiss the frog" to climb the ladder that reaches to our dreams. Many have said they would never work for a certain company, never go back school and never perform certain tasks, only to change later, especially when it became obvious that "kissing the frog" was the only way.

There are some who are trying to get to heaven without Christ. There are no ways Him. Jesus said in John 14:6, "no man cometh to the father but by me." Many have pledged that they will never be a Christian, never go to church or believe in God.

Like the movie however, they'll find out that when it comes to divinely anointed dreams, you must "kiss the frog."

The princess found out that when she kissed the frog the first day of her abundant life began as a beautiful princess.

Those who accept Christ have it even better. He promises eternal life and abundant fruitful living by faith.

Thank God for faith, that means we claim heaven and the "happily ever after" but we won't have to kiss any real frogs!

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My pork chop is on the grill!

"I can't go, my pork chop is on the grill!"

That's what one of my scouts told me last night when the whole troop moved out at 7 p.m. for an evening activity. The pork chop had all of the prospects of being a great meal. The coals were just right and the chop had just begun to sizzle on one side. The aroma was filling the air feeding anticipation as hunger pains churned.

Yet, despite the time an energy he put in preparing that pork chop, the call still came, "We have to move out, now!" Perturbed, the scout pull the pork chop off the grill and joined the procession.

Life has a way of calling us away to answer to higher orders. When sickness, tragedy or the unforeseen occur neither waits for an opportune time; they simply burst in uninvited. It doesn't matter what we are doing or how important it may seem, when life interrupts we must change our plans.

And when God calls us into his service or redirects our path we will stop whatever we are doing and follow that call.

In Mark 1:17 Jesus said, "Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men."

When God calls us into service or even if he calls us home, we won't have time to think about it; when he calls we will answer.

That pork chop looked tasty on the grill, but there was a higher call.

Pork chop or no pork chop, when God calls we must answer.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

I went camping in a suit and tie!

I went camping in a suit, tie, and spit shined shoes!

I've been a Boy Scout leader for 43 years and in that time have encountered a chest of memorable occasions, among them are the times when I've had to go to camp a wearing suit and tie. Yesterday was one of those occasions.

Our troop scheduled to leave for camp on Sunday at 1 p.m. however, we had an unusually long worship. After fellowship and handshakes ended it was 11:45 a.m. before I left the church. There was no time to change because there would be 40 scouts waiting at 1 p.m. So, I showed up ready for the journey to the campground in a blue pinstripe suit, monogrammed blue and white shirt, cuff links and spit shined shoes.

My wife had packed changes for me, but that would be later. For the rest of the day I built fires, pitched tents, and cooked a delicious Hamburger Helper meal over the campfire, still wearing my necktie.

I'm sure it looked strange to anyone who may have seen me.

In a larger sense those involved in Christian ministry do many strange things and often undergo many strange experiences to reach out to others. It comes with the territory.

1 Peter 4:12 says, "Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you; as though some strange thing happened to you.' That means we really shouldn't be surprised at anything we have endure, anything we have to do or anyplace we have to go to reach others for Christ.

It may seem strange to others, but we shouldn't feel strange.

I have two more days to go with these youngsters, I won't look strange today.

Yesterday however, I was a sight to see.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

The time changed on me

The time changed today, I almost missed it.

Daylight savings time changes on the Second Sunday in March but for some reason, I didn't get the message until about nine O'clock last night. My cell phone will automatically update and so will my computer, but I'll have to set my watch, micro-wave, vehicle radio and everything else that is not synchronized.

That's when I thought about it.

If our lives are out of sync with God, it's possible to miss great opportunities and blessings.

I usually, miss a clock or two somewhere whenever the time changes, but those that are synchronized are always on time. I guess that has a message, too. If I try to do everything myself, I'll miss something and still leave something, but if I stay in step with God; He'll help me to take of things right on time.

Eccl. 3:1 says, "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the sun." It's good to know that God keeps track of all of my seasons and sets my pace so that I spring forward or fall back in the right season, right on time.