Old Feelings from Newtown

On Newtown Memorialthe 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?

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Thanksgiving & The Little Chinese Boy

last-emperorEvery thanksgiving, I am reminded of a little Chinese Boy. [No, not that guy on the right. Good movie, though.] Instead, I am reminded of a time when I was in Shanghai on Missions back in ’95.

We were teaching English to a bunch of grade school kids from Xian. And we went to a garden in Shanghai to do some sight-seeing with them. After we were all done, we were hanging out and the teachers from the Xian school did a head count. That was when they realized that one of their kids was missing. He couldn’t have been that hard to find, all 30 of the school kids were wearing the same multi-colored striped shirt. We started rushing all around the park, but he was nowhere to be found.
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The One?

one_finger_350oRecently, during my sermon Q&A on the series God Will Hunting, I spoke about the question, “Is he/she the One for me?” If you haven’t listened to that sermon, I encourage you to do so. If you still have a question about it, I encourage to interact in the comments or through email.

However, one thing that I would like to address is something that I have heard more than once since that Sunday. It seems that once you say you don’t believe in the One, then people start quoting Scriptural examples on you. More specifically, “What do you do with Genesis 24?”

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La Danse Macabre

Cemetery

I think I’ve only been in a cemetery once.

About a month after my friend from college passed away, I went to visit her grave. I remember standing over her plot (she didn’t have the gravestone yet) and having mixed feelings. She was a Christian and I wasn’t sure why I was visiting her grave. I was talking to the ground, but wasn’t she listening from above?

To give the others that were with me a moment to themselves, I took a short walk. I was staring at the various tombstones in just the surrounding area. There were some from that year, there were some from 100 years ago. One lasting thought that I had from that day was: Gosh, there are a lot of dead people.

And that was only 1 section of 1 cemetery of 1 town in 1 state in 1 country. There are indeed many countries with many states with many towns each with many cemeteries. Gosh, there are a lot of dead people.

I remember having a conversation with Theresa about how I want to be cremated. The amount of money it saves (possibly 10% of the cost of a ground burial) and the fact that I don’t believe my earthly body will house my soul for eternity lend me toward that conclusion. But another factor is that I don’t want people to associate my eternity with a fixed locale on earth. That’s not where I am, nor should that be where their thoughts of me are drawn.

I can’t drive by a cemetery and wonder that their very existence is society’s inability to deal with death. When someone dies, we don’t know how to deal their demise so we preserve their bodies. And we preserve them in a way that gives them a so-called peaceful eternity. (When, sadly, this is often far from the truth).  Ironically, how we deal with death often reveals our inability to deal with death.

People, let’s face it. We all die. You, me, and the old guy in Green Mile. But we’re not entirely prepared to deal with that.

Whether you get buried or not does not matter. That’s not my point. What I’m trying to say is that people are not proactive about their death thinking about their death. Death, by definition, is not something you are able to react to. Instead, anticipate death, embrace the inevitability of it, and react now.

We all need to deal with death right now. And cremation or burial is not the way we deal. That’s just a symptom of the fact that we are unable to deal appropriately. Jesus promises a way to God in heaven:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~ John 14:6

Deal with that.