I’ve never been an avid reader. In fact, it was always a way for me to fall asleep quickly if I had a bout of insomnia. But recently, in 2014, I set a goal or ‘reading’ 52 books… that’s right: one book per week!
Now, how did I go from reading 5 books to 52 books in a year? Here is how I did it:
13 years ago, I lost a friend on the 93rd floor of the North Tower.
I delivered his eulogy about a month later. I was 26 years old and was tasked with honoring my friend’s life, making sense of the senseless and comforting the mourning. It remains to this day, the hardest message i’ve had to deliver.
Every year, as this day comes around, I try to remind myself of the lessons that I’ve learned since then. I repost my thoughts every year to as an exercise of reminding myself (and hopefully some of you, too) of what it was like. I guess I am trying to take that #neverforget hashtag seriously.
My hope is that through reading this, you are reminded of God’s goodness and sovereignty.
Earlier this week, a bank sent a contractor to fix the roof of a house on which they had foreclosed. It was then and only then, that the previous owner of the house was discovered, mummified in the backseat of her car, still parked in the garage.
She has been dead for 6 years.
What sort of solitary and lonely life is that the only reason someone notices you are not alive anymore is because your roof developed a hole! Think of how many people you come across every single day. Think of all the opportunities for personal contact, where you can make an impression on someone, that you have every time you leave the house. Your co-workers, your neighbors, your family…
If you were to die today, how soon would anyone know?
On the morning of Friday, December 14th, I dropped off my 6 year-old daughter at her kindergarten class for the day.
Just a little over an hour later, my perception of elementary schools as safe havens would irreparably violated. The tragedy at Newtown cuts deeper and lingers longer than other stories of shootings because of the age of the victims. The idea of terrorizing 6 and 7 year olds is seemingly inconceivable and unforgivable.
On Monday, Fort Lee residents and clergy gathered for a candlelight vigil in Monument Park (video). The passage I shared that night was from Habakkuk 1 and 3.
How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
~ Habakkuk 1:2-3
The prophet Habakkuk found himself amidst a society that had increasingly become rampant with violence and injustice. He called out to the Lord for salvation but felt that his cries went unanswered. Many hearts of the people in this nation today must be echoing the cry of Habakkuk.
Where are you, God? Why is there so much evil around us?
We have been told from all parts of society that we should not mix politics and religion, the church and the state. However, for Christians, faith is meant to be instructive to them in their relationships, their careers and all aspects of their lives. So, why should we cordon off politics from our faith? The truth of the matter is that many Christians today don’t know how their faith affects their vote.
Instead of shying away from the issue. I would like to tell you how I think all Christians should vote. No, I’m not gonna just come out and say vote Republican or vote Democrat. That would be too easy… and too polarizing. Instead, I will outline the principles by which I believe all Christians should vote.
Planes exploding like missiles, skyscrapers falling like waterfalls, and debris scattering like sawdust. Eleven years ago, I turned on the TV and saw the same pictures that you have seen.
Andy, my closest friend at that time, worked on the 93rd floor of the North Tower. No one had heard from him. During the week, I drove around to local hospitals to see if there had been any unidentified victims, dead or alive. But I was grieved to realize that there just weren’t any remains to be identified.
By the time Saturday arrived, I had come to grips with the fact that I would never see Andy alive again. This was not a sudden realization, it was a slowly diminishing hope. I, myself, had to make the decision that he was dead. There was no one to tell me, no one to decide for me. I had to be the one to kill the possibility of his survival. Some decided before me and some decided after me. But when I decided, I decided alone.
In my mourning, the impulse was to stare at the injustice of it all—What had Andy done to any of these people?—and blame someone. I wanted to climb to the top of the tallest building still standing and shake my fist at God and yell, “How could you do this? How could you let this happen?”
And then I remembered something that stopped me dead in my tracks.
Yes. James Holmes waited until the most anticipated movie of the Summer filled up a movie theater. Then, dressed in a ballistic helmet, a ballistic vest, ballistic leggings & gas mask, he deliberately and deviously opened fire on Theater #9 at the Center 16 Movie Theater in Aurora, CO. The death toll stands at 12 and the wounded at 59 (11 in critical condition).
But, is that the face of a killer?
No. That is the face of a doctoral student in Neuroscience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (nationally ranked #5 for Primary Care). It’s the face of a University of California honors graduate in neuroscience. It’s the face of a neighbor, a friend, a colleague and a son.
Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, Seung-Hui Choi, Jiverly Wong. And now, James Holmes. The faces and names have been seared in our conscience. They personify evil and they violate our peace.
As we read the eyewitness reports, we discover that people see things that they should not see. They see faces of people who have been shot, faces of people who died and the face of a killer. When you stare into the eyes of James Holmes, what do you see?
If you’re one of the mega millions of people that played the lottery last week, then you’re familiar with those numbers.
I was, along with all of you, not one of the winners. But unlike all of you, I couldn’t be happier that I didn’t win. Of course, I guaranteed my ‘success’ at not winning because I never bought a ticket.
There are three main reasons that I have never played the lottery and I never will.
When a noun becomes a verb, it has reached a level of transcendence in the vernacular of the culture.
Go and Xerox a memo. Facebook me. Just Google it.
Tim Tebow has now reached that rarified air that few nouns reach. His name has now become a verb. “Tebowing” is now the word that people use to strike a pose in the prayer position above. It is most often used derisively of the Broncos QB. (“Tebowing” has a website dedicated to it. It has become a mild internet phenomenon, a la ‘planking’) But his name has now transcended the football culture.
The fact that Tebow has transcended the NFL is clear. He’s been written about in the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, and countless other news outlets. And I’m not talking about their Sports sections. In fact, in the perhaps the most telling evidence of his transcendence, a woman in my church just ‘facebooked’: Out of curiosity I googled Tim Tebow cause everyone has been talking about him lately. Woah, I gotta start watching some football!
Even if you’re not a football fan, you’ve probably already heard about Tim Tebow and wondered what the big deal is about him. You’ve probably heard 2 things.
These are the words that are used to describe Jerry Sandusky after allegations of his sexually lewd behavior surfaced. Truly, this story, if corroborated, is troubling on so many levels.
And first let me say, that my heart and prayers go out to all of the children, their parents, their future wives and their future kids.
If the allegations are true (even Penn State’s acting president called them ‘victims’ not ‘alleged victims’) then the hatred and vitriol that Sandusky faces seems justified. Perhaps the monikers of ‘monster, pedophile & deviant’ are deserved.