Syrian Refugees, Selfless Compassion and Pro Life

My heart breaks, for a lot of reasons.

For teens on drugs, for babies that are killed in the womb. Recently my heart breaks for Paris and Beirut. For all the families that have to move forward without loved ones. My heart breaks for all those who are being displaced by war and senseless acts of violence. My heart breaks for ISIS members, and I struggle between wanting them all dead so their hate can not harm anyone else and wanting them all to come to know Jesus and renounce their acts of hate.

There are a lot of feelings involved in wars and terrorist acts. Fear, hate, sadness, compassion, longing for hope, seeking peace.

These feelings can drive our decisions, like the decisions to set up camps for Japanese citizens during WWII.

There is a group of people in need, and are we just going to shut our doors to them from fear? We are just going to leave them stranded and in need outside, while we are inside where it is safe and warm?

I completely understand the risks involved. I understand that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing, but there are a lot of genuine sheep and very very little wolves. When did compassion become a pick and choose event? When did compassion equate to having to stay safe?

I believe as Christians we are called to selfless compassion, selfless service; not safety. The Savior of the World (Jesus) did not save the world by putting his safety first, but the other way around. So shall our compassion reflect the selfless acts of our savior. Our compassion should not be a reflection of our political party lines, nor should it be used to garner political support.

Our compassion should be rooted in God’s love and given freely out to those in genuine need. And there is genuine need.

And one last thing:

If we are pro-life in the womb, we should be pro-life out of the womb. If we only support fetuses living, but do not support people, what is the point. We will only grow the baby to hate them later. Lets value all life, at all stages of life.

 

 

Advertisements

Guns, Individual Rights, and the Questions We Should Really Be Asking

The shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon brought the 2015 mass shooting total to 294, and at the time that I’m writing this post Shooting Tracker has the total mass shootings at 296. 296 mass shooting this year alone! This includes colleges, schools, theaters, pretty much anywhere. Looking at the raw data, there have been 379 deaths from these shootings, 1094 injuries. An interesting metric of these shootings is that out of 296 total incidents, 192 shootings have resulted in deaths.

These statistics will only grow in the last three months of the year, and more families will be torn with grief and mourning.

Faced with the data, I began to wonder why my position on the Second Amendment is what it is. Why should we have guns? Is there ever a good reason to own a gun? And as I began to ponder these questions (and more) I reassured my stance, that yes Americans should still own guns.

In the rush of emotions that follow these shootings, its easy to blame guns and say they are evil, and no one should use them. But we forget why the Second Amendment is important and why our forefathers added it.

Early Colonials saw the right to bear arms as important for a number of reasons (source found here):

  • enabling the people to organize a militia system.
  • participating in law enforcement;
  • deterring tyrannical government;
  • repelling invasion;
  • suppressing insurrection,
  • facilitating a natural right of self-defense.

This list of six can still be applied today in some form or another, though I think the last entry in the list is the most important today.

There has always been murder in the world; it dates back to the second generation of the human race (Cain & Able). With or without guns, people will kill others; that is a sad sad fact. I think the question we should be asking, instead of debating gun rights, is why are Americans killing each other so much? Why in 2015, are individual people wanting to unleash so much hate on others? Why are people wanting to kill and hate so much? Pondering these questions doesn’t lead me to gun control (we have had guns since the beginning of the country, so that hasn’t really changed), but it does lead me to ponder more on culture; and how we, as Americans and humans, are handling internal and external pressure and feelings. Are the killings a reflection of the hate that is so prevalent in our culture? And is our hate-filled culture a reflection of the individual or some crowd mentality?

I don’t think we as a society want to answer those questions, its just easier to slap some gun control on and feel like we are making a difference. We don’t like thinking about these questions because once we start talking about why we killing each other, we will be forced to look at the ugliness that hides behind the glittery surface of America. We will be forced to face our struggles, our addictions, our sin. We would rather be entertained, and looking out our phones for hours on end.

In a song that I’ve been listening to lately, the rapper says “How could I miss it?” In response to racism in this country. I believe many people are asking these hard questions, but also many others are not.

This country is great, and I love being an American; but this country is also sick. It is in need of a doctor, a healer of both mind, body and soul. We are in desperate need of an awakening. We need Jesus. Only he can give us hope, refresh our minds, give us an anchor to hold on too. Only he can comfort the hurt in our hearts. Only he can restore us. Only he can forgive us and truly shape a future that isn’t plagued by the past.

We don’t need politicians and debates and discussions. We don’t need more gun restrictions, or medications. We don’t need more social media awareness. We don’t need “love” for love’s sake. We don’t need individual truths, we need one universal, powerful truth.

We need Jesus.

We. Need. Jesus

Why in America?

“At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. “

-President Obama

So why America? In a land of abundant freedom, why do we find abundant chaos? Is it the lack of laws? Is it the rednecks with all their guns? (Okay that might have some legitimacy to it, but that’s for another time)

If it stemmed from the lack of laws then did our forefathers encounter this much violence, this much senseless killings?

Or is there another problem plaguing America?  A deeper yearning that aches in violent ways?

A law can only make a man’s actions illegal, but it will never change the heart.

“Desperate men do desperate things”

-For Today Call to Arms

What happened in Charleston was tragic, and can be hard to grapple in terms of why would something like this happen. Its even harder to swallow when we hold it up to the other senseless violence that have occurred in this country in the past year alone, much less five or ten years.

It is clear America has a sickness, and it is not from a lack of laws. We need unity, we need a leader, we need love. And the only person who can offer all this is Jesus Christ. Only in him could you find a rigid religious man, a patriotic zealot, a thieving tax collector and a bunch of blue collar workers together in united community.

How Would Jesus Respond to Caityln Jenner

In the wake of the reveal of Caityln Jenner, I found myself asking how would Jesus react? And as a Christian should I have some type of reaction (or no reaction at all) to this?

It always gets dangerous when we Christians make declarations about what Jesus would do or what he would say. In reality Jesus did a lot of things and said a lot of things that would surprise us and even make us think that he is a jerk. Take Matthew 12 when a person is just telling Jesus “Yo, your mom and bros are here, and they want to speak to you” (I am paraphrasing here). To this Jesus responds “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”

Come on Jesus, the man was just saying your mother and brothers were here.

Jesus loved God, obeyed his will and spoke his truth even when it cost him his life. I know Jesus would speak truth and love in this scenario, but what is the truth in this scenario?

Let me offer this: We want to know our identity. We want to know who we really are. Some people find identity in sports, in the arts, in their jobs. We can find our identity in our spouse or our kids. Others tragically find their identity in more harmful vices like drugs, porn, and gambling. Some of these things might be innocent enough but none of them give us the full breadth of our true identity.

Our true identity is this: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 ESV). If we believe in Jesus Christ we are a new creation and a child of God. Our identity is wrapped up in God, not ourselves. No matter who or what we think we are, God’s opinion is what matters. This was, and continues to be, thee source of strength in battling depression and low self-esteem, definitely through my college years.

So what do I think about how Jesus would respond to Caityln Jenner? First thing is I see Jesus only speaking about people that were with him, not far off (excluding some healings). Second he would do what he always does: 1) forgive sin/confront sin 2) remove guilt and shame 3) restore.

What would he say? I don’t know but I know he would be led by the Holy Spirit and turn her to God. Jesus’ ministry was redemptive, even though it did involve speaking against sin and wickedness.

So how should Christians respond? Let’s not mock her and trash talk her online (and offline). Pray for her, yes do that (out of care), but don’t drag her name through the mud. Don’t villainous her. This can be an opportunity interject Jesus into a cultural discussion.

The point is to bring people closer to Jesus, not closer to “doing the right thing.”

Of Memorization, Standardized Tests, and Passion

This song came to me at a graduation ceremony I attended over the weekend. The class president gave the below remark while giving a speech to his fellow students, in this part of his address he talked about the difficulty of coming up with an original speech for graduation; then he said this:

“…but I didn’t not earn my degree by original thought, I earned it by memorization and mediocre performance on standardized tests.”

This statement sent the crowed roaring with laughter and applause.

Why did it strike a chord in everyone in the room?

Because we know for all our hard work and many many hours that’s what our efforts boil down to: Memorization and Performance on Standardized Tests. The argument can be made that we did actually retain information and we did learn. And I would say yes; but what is the amount that I actually learned compared to the amount that I was tested for, or expected to “know”?

And to the point of Standardized Tests; the way we approach tests is to teach for the test. So basically we only “learn” what is on the test and we learn FOR the test. Once the test is over, what is the point to what we have learned? We only put to use most of the information we learned for only a section or year; so really the only bits of information or learning we ever really retain is what is repeated year after year.

I love history and literature, I can dig science and can tolerate math. I think teachers are awesome. But I also think we should reevaluate why we put our kids through school for 12+ years to only retain what might boil down to 5 or 7 (ball parking that figure).

I get that we should be well rounded and have introductory knowledge to a lot of stuff, but regurgitation does not excite people. I did not marry my wife because I knew information about her, I married her because I loved being around her, I loved joking with her and talking to her. We become passionate about things when we interact, when we get our hands dirty into something. Information always has its place, but if it’s the core of education then we have missed the mark.

I work as a Business Intelligence Developer for a living, my job is to give people information; but to give them information that is meaningful and impactful SO they can retain the information and making insightful decisions. So knowing information is one piece of the puzzle.

It’s time for schools to get the other pieces.

Global Wage Comparison= I’m rich!

No I’m not a CEO, or some athlete or a movie star. I don’t live in a mansion or a house (Shout out to all the renters out there), graduated college so there are those loans. I could complain…..I could…

But I do live in the United States and have a job in IT. I knew I made decent money but today was a good reminder of how well I have it. A friend posted a link to a CNN site (here) that compares you salary to the United State’s average and the World’s average. I decided to  combine my salary with my wife’s and learned (not shockingly but very humbly) we are very well off. We are make about 300% more then the world’s average, which is $19,188 (USD) a year! God blesses me in ways I can’t imagine and in ways I just take for granted.

But what next? What is the use of knowing how you compare if you don’t do anything about it. Since the classes from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace our financial plan has been this (there are more steps in Ramsey’s plan but the main outline is this):

  1. Pay off debt
  2. Set up savings for future/retirement/children
  3. GIVE, GIVE, GIVE
  4. …and MORE GIVE, GIVE, GIVE

This just makes me want to steps 1 & 2 faster. There are people that need our help, and while we can’t care for everybody we should take care of those we can.  

I’m not perfect in this, and there are times were all I want to do is spend everything on myself. But today I have been very humbled, and very inspired.