Category Archives: Society and Culture

Today In The News: Istanbul Terror Attack

Not quite today’s news (this happened yesterday), but important nonetheless. Yesterday, 36 were killed and 147 were injured in a terrorist attack that occurred earlier yesterday in Istanbul, Turkey.

You can read about it here.

Unfortunately, these attacks are becoming more commonplace. Multiple attacks have been happening here in the United States and in many places abroad.

No matter who perpetrates terror, the goal is always fear. The impact of terror is far greater than the number of people killed or injured. Fear has the capacity to paralyze entire groups of people, even if they are under no actual threat of violence.

So, what to do? Since terror is reaching across the planet, how is it that this needs to be dealt with? Can it be stopped? What should our response be as Christians, who are called by our Lord Jesus to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44)?

I believe there simply needs to be a distinction between the faith that we as Christians hold, and the countries that individual Christian citizens might belong to. This does NOT mean that we, as Christians, shouldn’t attempt to influence the countries in which we live. On the contrary! I am simply suggesting that we as Christians cannot hold our countries/governments to the same standards with which we live.

Countries and Citizens

We live in an imperfect world, filled with imperfect people, There is good in this world, as well as evil. In human society, we must create solutions for the problems we face, even if those solutions are imperfect.

There is NO perfect system for managing politics, economies, poverty, wars, or anything else. But, some systems are better than others!

With regards to terror, countries have the right to do everything in their best interests to protect their people from terror, going to the root cause of the source of such terror if at all possible. Without involving details of the politics of all this, the current fight against ISIS (ISIL, Daesh) is absolutely necessary, since terrorists need to know that there are consequences for their actions.

My prayer with regards to this attack in Instanbul is that justice is served on behalf of the victims of these attacks. And remember, the victims of terror are not only those killed or injured. The victims include all those who are filled with fear because of these senseless attacks.

Christians

Now, as Christians, how must we respond? While countries have the complete right to function and operate as necessary for the protection of their citizenry, what must we do? And while many Christians may participate in the armed services of their respective countries and have a duty to be a part of that process, how do we respond individually to these acts?

One Bible verse in particular comes to mind. 1 John 4:18 states, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

Those who are afraid need to experience the perfect love of Father God that has been expressed to them. Only by living in the eternal confidence gained by knowing Christ are we able to live lives without fear, since our future for all eternity is secure in him. Dying today or dying tomorrow means being with Jesus.

Our job is to love and engage those who do not know the love of Christ…it is only with this love that fear may be removed.

But, even for the terrorists, we must understand that many times their motivation is not only to cause fear in others. On the contrary, they are so filled with fear themselves that they believe it necessary to commit their acts of violence.

We must love terrorists as well. 

Yes, we HATE what they do. What they do is pure evil and we hate all that is evil. And yes, they must face consequences and justice for their actions. Absolutely! There is no room for doubt here.

But, these terrorists are God’s creation. So, we pray. We pray for God to rescue their souls, to fill their hearts with their love, to transform entire societies through revelation of the abundant grace of God.

Does love include justice? Absolutely!

Love includes (1) Love for those impacted by acts of terror (2) Love for those who committed the acts of terror -and- (3) Justice for the victims. All of these combined are an expression of true love.

May the love of Christ dwell richly in all of you!

 

 

Today In The News: The Supreme Court and Abortion

The Supreme Court of the U.S. decided today against protections for women who use abortion clinics.

Click here to read the story.

From the USA TODAY article linked above:

The state had argued that the restrictions — requiring clinics to meet surgical-center operating standards and doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals — were necessary to protect women’s health. Abortion rights advocates said that by adding delays and distance to the obstacles women face, the medical risks would only rise.

Some would argue that Texas was trying to place “restrictions” in order to limit access to abortion. Well, that would certainly be true. If we are to value ALL of human life, then we must choose to do whatever is possible to limit the destruction or devaluation of human life in all the ways that it happens.

But, if we simply look at the merits of the case itself, what we see here is a desire to protect the lives, not only of babies, but also of women who go through an abortive procedure. Abortion can lead to potentially major health complications for the mother and her child in future pregnancies. Go here to find some links to books and articles written on this subject.

I am not an expert on everything having to do with abortion laws, but I do know this: God is the author of life. From the very first chapter of the Book of Genesis we know that God is a Creator. God values human life above all else. Multiple times in Genesis chapter 1, God declares that his creation is good. But, right after he creates humans and assigns them a specific task, God finally declares in verse 31, “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!”

Only after his creation of humans does God consider his creation to be exceedingly good. My hope and prayer is that God continues to change hearts in our nation to value ALL of human life, protecting, guarding, and caring for those who are most vulnerable.

Why You Should Watch “Noah”, the Movie

I must start by saying that I still have yet to see the movie.

You might be wondering, “How can you tell me to go see a movie that you haven’t seen?”

First, I do plan on seeing it. Second, I have read articles, blogs, and even Facebook posts by people who have seen it. I’ve talked to people who saw the movie. Third, my perspective today is NOT a review of the movie. Rather, it is a perspective about what the movie means for us as believers who are on mission.

Let me make one thing clear: If you are a follower of Jesus, this post is geared towards you.

I have heard many Christians lament the fact that Noah does not represent the bible accurately. They talk about how there are many extra-biblical or unbiblical elements in the movie.

There is an important distinction to be made. “Extra-biblical” is different than “unbiblical”. There is much tradition to including elements not found in the Bible in order to bring color and perspective to the stories in the Bible. This is what I call “extra-biblical”. This has the potential to be powerful and effective. Something that is unbiblical, however, would go directly against the content and the purpose of the story in the Bible.

Now, I’m sure that you, my reader, could debate your point of view about the movie, especially if you have seen it. That is not the goal of this post (but your comments are welcome)!

Here is why I encourage you to see the movie: because the world is watching it. It earned over $40 million in its first weekend. This most likely includes friends and family members of yours. And it quite possibly will include people you know who do not yet know Jesus.

There are many movies that have good morals. Others that do not. But it is not every day that we get a movie seen by millions of people that ALSO claims some type of connection to the Bible. Whether that connection is good or bad, it is still a connection.

We, as believers, are called to be on mission, bringing the light and life of Jesus to the world around us. By seeing this movie, you have the perfect opportunity to engage those who don’t know Jesus in conversation about the real story of Noah.

You might think, “Well, sure, but I don’t have to see the movie to talk about the Noah story from the Bible with those who don’t believe”. True, but you would be missing something important: truth is found in the conversation, not just the presentation. Would you rather engage in a conversation with a person, or simply present what you believe to be truth, hoping that they might agree with you?

Watch the movie, then use it as a tool to engage others about the amazing, loving, grace-filled God that you and I believe in. That’s what I plan to do.

Some Thoughts About What Grand Theft Auto Means For Us

Many years ago, while at a Target store, I happened to be looking through the video games section.  And yes, that IS my favorite section of the store.

While there, a young kid (maybe 10 or 11 years old) came up and went directly for the Grand Theft Auto game (I’m not sure which version it was) and told his dad that he wanted the game.  The dad apparently was ok with it and they went off to purchase the game.  To this day, I still wonder if the dad really knew what the game was about and what it contained.

A few days ago, I ran across an article about young students imitating the rape and drug scenes from the game.  You can read the article here.

It reminded me of this simple truth: There is NO DOUBT that media has an effect on us.

Whether that effect is one that is seen in a person committing those actions in real life   -or-

Whether that effect is one that is seen in a person acting out those things for play (as in the article above)   -or-

Whether that effect is one that is seen in a person who is simply emotionally affected by the experience…

Media has an effect on us.

Ask yourself this question: If media had absolutely no effect on us, then companies wouldn’t bother spending millions and millions of dollars to influence the choices that we make.

So, what does this mean for us today?

1. Know what your values are.

2. Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.  If what you watch or play starts to have a negative impact on your life (or on the lives of those around you), it might be time to make an intentional decision for your own benefit (or the benefit of others).

3. If you have kids, look at everything before agreeing to let them see something.  If you can’t watch or play something first, at the very least read some reviews that will give you a better idea about what is there.

What else would you suggest?

Have We Lost Our Humanity?

Recently, the pope commented on his belief that unemployment can cause many problems.

I agree. (You can read an article about it here.)

It’s not just that the lack of jobs causes financial problems.  I believe that the ability to work combined with the actual doing of work is one of the fundamental gifts given by God to man (by “man”, I mean man and woman).

When we are able to work, we feel that we are contributing something significant to society.  We feel that ultimately there is something of inherent value inside of us that is useful.

When we don’t (or can’t) work, we are left feeling as if there is no purpose for us to exist.  After all, if you or I do not have anything of value to offer, then what’s the point of being here?

In Acts 20:35, Paul mentions the words of Jesus, saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

When we work, we know that we are going to receive (payment, awards, recognition, etc.), but the value that we feel is directly related to the fact that we contributed something.

We feel good about the pay because we contributed something in order to earn it.

We feel good about the award or recognition because we contributed something of value that was recognized by others.

At the end of the day, everything we get back is directly related to the fact that we accomplished or contributed something.

With this in mind, it reminds me of some other articles that I read recently.  They talked about how federal government programs that exist to help people are actually hurting people.  You can read about them here and here.

My goal here is not political.  But, the reality is that we are in a difficult economic reality in our country.  My hope and prayer is that BOTH parties (Republicans and Democrats) will find common ground to do work in such a way that will actually increase the availability of work for other people in this nation.  The unemployment in our country is still stubbornly high (check out one of those measures here).

Jobs help create value.  May more people find more work.

Soon.

 

Justin Bieber Arrested!

There are plenty of people who love Justin Bieber.

And plenty who hate him.

Just look at the Twitter feeds surrounding his arrest, or any comments at the end of various articles and you will realize there are many who fall into both categories.

I don’t know where you stand. I don’t know whether you’re a Belieber or not. And I don’t care.

With his recent arrest, opinions have been out in full force!

And here’s the truth: most all of those who love him will continue to love him. Those who hate him will simply hate him more.

So, not much has changed in the grand cosmic sense of everything.

Justin Bieber may have wide influence, yet he still remains as only one person, with a heart and soul, on a journey, finding his way day by day.

Being in the spotlight, especially at his age, is a completely different level of pressure than most any of us have experienced. I wouldn’t have wished that on myself and I definitely don’t wish it on my children. So, what do we do as believers (not Beliebers) in Jesus?

I simply recommend one thing: PRAY.

Pray for God to lead him clearly. Pray for God to put the right people around him. Pray for God’s abundant grace to meet him exactly where he is at.

What do you think?