A majority of people on earth know that Americans go to the polls on Tuesday to elect a president. Around the world they are watching, because it is not business as usual. There is almost universal agreement that this has been the most contentious U.S. election in memory.
Friedrich Schleiermacher. Yes,
I know. You never heard of him. He died in 1834. He is sometimes called the
father of modern liberal theology.
The German theologian was on my mind a couple of weeks ago because I was teaching a class on the origins and content of liberal theology; not something I do that often. When I googled him to see if
his name was showing up in any recent articles, oddly, there it was in a June
27 Washington Post article about Donald Trump.
The following is an
updated version of a MCM published some time ago
Sometimes we need a mind change to overcome a challenging
circumstance like an illness or a loss. Sometimes we need a mind change to
overcome an obstacle that could stop a good work. But very often we need a mind
change because our minds are leading us to some wrong behavior.
James writes: “My dear brothers,
take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow
to become angry…” (James 1:19).
From time to time I need a reminder of the point made seven years ago in
the following Mind Change Moment:
Seven billion people now live on this planet. Each day they go in at
least seven billion directions. There is no shortage of activity in our world.
It is one busy place. But is there a plan? Is there any purpose behind the
universe? Are we here for a reason? Did someone put us here who had a plan for
our lives? When we ask such questions we are wrestling with one of the greatest
philosophical and spiritual issues of all time.
Life brings us some exhilarating moments as well as some
tough disappointments. It is interesting to look at the latter word:
dis-appointment. You thought you had an appointment with something good,
encouraging or uplifting. But you were “dissed.” Disappointments are so
hard to take that they are often described as “bitter disappointments.”
Recently, I heard someone share a
thought that is so valuable and helpful to me that I feel it must be passed on,
and I have asked for her permission to share it with all of you.
Our sister in Christ shared about a
particularly difficult patch of life that she and her husband had been through
and how as different challenges mounted up, she thought of how many years they
had sought to be faithful to God and how their lives surely demonstrated that
faithfulness. But in the midst of the recent problems, she thought resentfully,
“I don’t deserve this!” With that posture, she resisted efforts being made to
bring resolution and help.
are a few unusual people who seem to thrive on conflict, most of us would
rather avoid it. We are attracted to things pleasant, and we look forward to
happy interactions. Dread is the emotion that most of us feel in anticipation
of conflict or before some planned time to resolve conflict. Some of you may
be feeling it right now because of some situation in your life.
When I was
first definitively diagnosed with MS twenty-six years ago it was a confirmation
of what had been suspected ten years earlier by the second neurologist I saw
because of my recurring symptoms. I was just 42 with still plenty of parenting
left to do for our three daughters. I was involved in a busy ministry and
trying to meet lots of needs. I had to wonder if God was giving me more than I
recently I have seen the phrase “unethical amnesia.” I discovered that this
refers to our human tendency to forget our own moral lapses and bad behavior, crowding them out
of our minds with thoughts of what we do right.
Some years ago, the Journal
of the American Medical Association published an article on “Vending Machine Rage.”
It described fifteen injuries in a short period of time, three of them fatal,
as a result of angry men kicking or rocking machines that had taken their money
without dispensing the drink. Maybe we
can understand the injuries, but how about the fatalities? In each case it seems the machines fell over
on the men and crushed them.
We say a good deal in this space about overcoming because there are any number of health problems, relationship conflicts, financial challenges, and sundry other matters that threaten to push us back, press us down or just generally rob us of life. We need words, perspectives, thoughts and truths that help us continue and overcome. There is a lot heavy lifting for us.
At 6:58 p.m. on April 16, as thousands of people were doing
what they normally do on a Saturday night and as tourists ready for dinner filled
restaurants in towns along Ecuador’s Pacific coast, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake
struck, changing thousands of lives forever.
James Baldwin, the great African-American
novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet, once reflected on the pain the artist
has to face, and wrote these words:
“And what is
crucial here is that if it hurt you, that is not what’s important. Everybody’s
hurt. What is important, what corrals you, what bullwhips you, what drives you,
torments you, is that you must find some way of using this to connect you with
everyone else alive. This is all you have to do it with. You must understand
that your pain is trivial except insofar as you can use it to connect with
other people’s pain…”*
got my first set of golf clubs at age 11 after my dad had given up fishing and
started taking me to the course. I fell in love with the game. It has now been
19 years since I have been able to play, but I still love watching on a day
like Sunday when the pros were hitting their shots with the dogwoods
and azaleas of Augusta National in the background.
Recently, I counseled a person
who was coming to grips with sinful behavior. The person felt sorry, foolish
and embarrassed, very aware of damage done. But also, the “Let’s see how much I can beat myself” mode was
kicking in. My advice was to reject that option in favor of the “Let’s see how
much I can learn” mode. Yes, theremust
be sorrow and repentance. But then there needs to be an acceptance of grace and
a decision to learn from what happened so a better road can be taken going
I first want to thank those of
you who commented on last week’s post and added many thoughtful comments. If
you haven’t read what others said, it is not too late. You can go the “comment”
section under “Hard”ly True.
But this week I want to respond
to a comment that you will not read there. It was added and then removed by the
person (I assume a mother) who posted it, but I was able to see it before she
took it down. The pain she felt in her heart made it difficult for her to even
write and then she must have decided she should not put it out there.
I remember sitting on our basement couch in Concord, Massachusetts, circa 1997 and writing out a simple description to sum up the challenge of life. Later on I did a message on what I had written. But that night on the couch I listed four points:
In a sermon I heard on Sunday a
good friend of mine spoke some about the biblical idea of talking to yourself.
I thought of his words just an hour or so ago when I had misplaced my mobile phone
and found myself talking to myself as I tried to retrace my path and locate
that most indispensable of all items.
In 1857 workers were unearthing a
building in Rome on the Palatine Hill which was once used by the infamous
Caligula possibly as an imperial palace. As the work proceeded they came to a
room where they found what may have been the first known depiction of the
crucifixion in Christian worship. But the graffiti artist was no fan of Jesus.
News out of the Netherlands is that the Dutch National
Police force has begun training eagles to intercept small drones during an
emergency, when another capture device might put people below at risk. Working
with a raptor-training company called Guard from Above, they are teaching
eagles to recognize small drones and swoop in and grab them with their powerful
talons. The belief is that eagles might be used when rouge drones or those
being intentionally used for nefarious purposes are presenting a security risk.
(See video) .
When I picked up my Bible today, my eyes fell on the
“Yet they [the chief
priest, the teachers of the law and the leaders of the people] couldn’t find
any way to do it [kill Jesus] because all the people hung on his words.” (Luke
The statement that “all the people hung on his words” hit
me. It seemed like a modern day idiom. I doubted that this is what it literally
said. So, I asked my husband, Tom, “Is this an exact translation of the phrase ‘hung
on his words’”? He looked it up and said, “Yes it is.”
Last week the nationwide “Powerball” lottery in the U.S. was offering a jackpot that had grown to $1.5 billion. That is $999 million plus another $501 million. That is a staggering number of millions. This largest jackpot in history drew tremendous publicity and sometimes long lines made up of ticket buyers. If you live in the States, no doubt you heard about it.
Every 60 seconds, 258 babies are
born across the globe. In the next hour that
means there will be 15,480 new lives on earth. A year ago those would have just
been interesting statistics. However, in one of those seconds and in one of those
hours in November, one of those babies was our first grandchild. Most of our
peers already have quite a collection, but this little girl was our first.