What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Hunger Games

I just finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for the second time. And, I’m angry.
Wait. I’m not angry at the quality of the book, the plot, the characters, or the author. I’m angry because of the quandary posed to us by the existence of good and evil, whether it is in the fictional world of Panem or the real world of Earth. Some things are just inherently good while others are inherently bad. Knowing the difference shouldn’t be hard.
The anger comes from the uncertainty of many situations that come up in life. Some situations do not have an obvious right or wrong answer. The problem I have is with people who think they know what is right and what is not in EVERY situation, whether they are faced with the decisions or not. In The Hunger Games, the authorities have a set of principles they live by. When those principles are questioned, no matter how subtly, the authorities cannot adjust their views. The question of life or death becomes a political decision for the authorities. But, it is not for the main characters. The question becomes quality of life or death and politics play no role.
There are times when I am faced with decisions where there are no totally good choices, just choices of good or bad in degrees, far from perfect choices. Yet there are people who think they know the only possible right or good choice in these hard decisions and callously hold onto their principles without listening to possible other views. My decisions may not be life or death, but they do involve quality of life or death. Those that would dogmatically say my decisions are bad, evil, or wrong without listening to my views are no better than the government authorities in Panem who declare murder to be a spectator sport.
I could get specific in my examples, but I would rather leave room for each to determine for his- or herself where his/her views may need adjusting. Care must be given to think outside the box of whatever earthly authority one claims to fall under. Is murder your spectator sport? I hope you can adjust your views if necessary.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Take Action

Wow. Your master just sent you out in pairs to preach and perform healings and other miracles. You do it. People get better because you ask God to heal them. Demons run away from people they have been tormenting because you ask God to send them away. People invite you into their homes and feed you because you ask in the name of Jesus. Every situation brings a new surprise. You ask and you are answered. Amazing!

After a time, all of you regroup and join Jesus again. Everyone is talking at once. Everyone experienced the same kind of miracles. Yes. They were miracles brought about because you prayed. Of course you are just doing what Jesus said to do. Of course He made sure you wouldn’t look stupid praying and getting no results. He knew what He was asking you to do and He wouldn’t make you look foolish.

But now a crowd has gathered again. Over 5,000 people are hanging around, listening to Jesus preach some more. They are waiting to see what Jesus will do next. He’s been healing and preaching all day and they don’t want to miss a thing. You are hungry. You think it is getting time for dinner. The people don’t have food with them. They didn’t plan ahead – but neither did you. You looked for food and only found five loaves and two fish – barely enough to feed the twelve of you and Jesus.

You go to Jesus and suggest that He send the people away to go to the towns to get food and shelter for the night. Jesus doesn’t say, “Hey that’s a good idea.” He says, “You feed them.” You glance at each other out of the corners of your eyes and mouth, “What? What is He saying?” to those looking to you for answers. Jesus says, “You feed them.”

You think, “How can we do that? We have only five loafs of bread and two small fish.” Jesus looks at you, one by one. You can’t read His expression. You can’t tell if He’s angry, joking, teasing, or serious. But He looks serious. Did Jesus just let out a sigh? Maybe. He asks for the bread and the fish. He gives thanks to God and tells us to feed the people. As we go from group of people to group of people there is always bread and fish in the baskets. Every person there, all 5,000 plus, get enough food. We meet back on the hill by Jesus with twelve extra baskets full of food.

You sit back and are speechless. When Jesus said, “You feed them,” He meant we should feed them. But, He fed them, fed them all. He doesn’t say anything to you and you don’t know what to say to Him. You just healed people and preached the good news about Jesus, but you didn’t take the opportunity to feed the people, do a miracle. You don’t get it yet.

Thank God He is so patient with us. I don’t get it much of the time. But, like with the disciples, Jesus doesn’t get sarcastic with me, call me names, or ridicule me. He patiently waits and shows me Who He is all over again. He patiently waits for me to get it. He patiently waits for me to take the opportunities He gives me to give honor and recognition to Him. Do I hear His sigh? How many times each day is He trying to get me to take action? How many times today did He wait, see I wasn’t getting it, and do it Himself?

My response is to pray: Lord, help me see the opportunities to preach you and take action.

[Based on Luke 9.]

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Choices. It’s a high-class problem to have to make choices. It means there are options. More than one option. Many options.

It hasn’t always been that way. I may have thought I had options, but I was only fooling myself. Sure I could decide which substance to drink – to get drunk on – but in reality it didn’t matter because the goal was the same: get drunk. I wasn’t making a decision as much as I was giving in to the compulsion.

Today I have choices. I have choices starting with the choice not to take a drink. I’ve made this choice each day (sometimes many times a day) for the last 13 years. Making the choice to stay sober opens up a lot of other options leading to more choices, choices between good things, many good things. Having this many choices means not being able to do everything – at least not at the same time. It leaves options for tomorrow or the next time a similar situation comes up.

Last week I celebrated my 13th sobriety anniversary. No party. No cake or ice cream. Just quiet thankfulness to the God who has all power and helped me when I could not help myself. I’m celebrating the choices and the ability to make healthy choices. I’m celebrating the choice to stay sober for another 13 years, one day at a time.