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Monday, December 2, 2013

Oh, Christmas Tree

One of my highlights each Christmas is putting up the tree and trimming it out with lights and decorations.  We start at the bottom and wind our way upwards finishing it off with the angel at the top.  Then the drum rolls for the big test – plugging it in.  When it all works and the tree lights up, it is a beautiful sight.  Often I will sit in the living room with just the tree lights on gazing at their beauty. 
The tradition of Christmas lights goes back hundreds of years.  Have you ever heard of the word, Weihnachtspyramide”?  I cannot pronounce it, but it is the German word for Christmas Pyramid.  In the late Middle Ages the people in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) of Germany to set up a wooden pyramid in their homes at Christmas time.  It was decorated with many things then lit up with candles.  As time moved on this pyramid merged with the evergreen tree to become the modern Christmas tree.   

 Today the majority of people see Christmas lights as simple decoration absent the history of where the tradition came from. Why did these early Germans put candles on their pyramids?  They did it to teach their families about the real meaning of Christmas – to celebrate Jesus’ birth as the light of the world.    

During the time of Jesus’ birth (4-8 B.C.), the world was dark, filled with much evil.  Hope was scarce.  Then in the midst of it all a great light came from the heavens where God sent His Only Son to earth.  Then He hung a bright star in the sky above his birthplace announcing to the world that hope had come.  Jesus once said of Himself, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). 

From Jesus’ birth, death, burial and resurrection His light never dimmed, shining brightly always.  To some His light was praised as it guided them out of darkness into a living hope.  To others His light was offensive exposing their evil deeds and corrupt ways.  

The greatest gifts you can give this Christmas season are two-fold.  One, give yourself wholly to Jesus, letting His light dwell in you.  Secondly, give yourself to others letting them see the light of Christ within you.  This Christmas may the Light of the world be your hope for today.    

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wanted: A Loving Family

Fifteen year old Davion Only, looking for a family to call his own, told a Florida church congregation “I’ll take anyone”. As his story made national news, it tugged at the heart strings of a nation. Unfortunately, over the course of human history there have been millions of Davion’s.

History’s first recorded adoption took place thousands of years ago in ancient Hebrew days. Abraham, the biblical Patriarch, had a brother, Haran. He passed away early in life leaving behind a son, Lot. Abraham, as his Uncle, willingly took him in becoming like his own father.

Lot was orphaned due to the death of his parents. Other children are orphaned due to war, abduction, illness, tragedy or simply because the parents are unfit and authorities have taken the children. In the Christian faith, followers are urged to care for these orphans. The Scriptures say, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God . . . is this: to visit [or care for] orphans” (James 1:27).

Beyond the Scriptural admonition, why do Christians concern themselves with the orphan? They do because the desire comes from the heart of God. He is the Creator of all mankind and architect of the family. His heart is filled with compassion towards those who have no family. Therefore, he urges His followers to be His hands and feet to a world in need.

When someone is orphaned there is a natural instinct to search for that missing relationship. The first place everyone can start their search, no matter their family story, is with God. We were born spiritual beings, instinctively knowing we have a Creator, yet separated from Him because of our sinful hearts. The search for Him took us down winding roads filled with detours. We blindly thought relationships, success, religion or addictions would give us we what lacked, but none of it satisfied.

It was for this God sent His only Son – Jesus. He is the answer. He came to show us a Father’s love and wants to adopt us into His loving family. In a sense, we are all orphans in need of a Father. Call out to Him in humble and desperate faith. Then He will welcome you, cleanse you from all sin, come into your life, make you a new person and give you a new family. Jesus said, “For this my son [or daughter] . . . was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24). In your pursuit of family may you discover your Heavenly Father and His Son – Jesus. May He be your hope for today.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

You are not Alone

You are not alone.  That’s right!  According to the National Association of Mental Illness there are 58 million Americans who battle these disorders.  Though it feels like you walk your path alone - you are not.  Though it feels like no one understands – they do.     

What is mental illness?  The Mayo Clinic says it “Refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.”  Even though it is normal to experience difficult days or seasons of life a clinically diagnosed mental illness is different.  It is something that is ongoing where people cannot cope with daily life and no amount of self-discipline or will power can “fix it”.   

Chatter about mental illness rises every time there is a mass shooting like the recent Navy Yard incident, the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre or the Aurora, Colorado, theatre killings.  But not everyone who has a mental condition is going to be the next mass shooter.  Most are responsible, hard-working people, who are good neighbors, good employees and look perfectly fine on the surface.  However, on the inside are conditions that nearly cripple their daily life.  Most folks would be surprised to know who battles with mental illness.  Often people silently cope with only their closest family or friends knowing.  And the care-givers end up bearing a heavy load while trying to understand and care for them.        
 
It can be a lonely and frustrating time while dealing with a disorder.  You may feel as if you are alone and no one understands.  On this journey I believe God wants to send a message, “You are not alone”.   

God understands and is waiting for you to turn to Him.  Yes, we may need to pursue medication, professional counseling or a treatment plan.  Yet, we must not forget the world’s great Liberator.  God, through His Son, Jesus, came from heaven to earth, died and rose again to set us free from the chains of sin and sorrows of this world. He stands ready to grant you an eternal hope in the face of your mental illness.  The Scriptures say, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6).  May Jesus be your hope for today.      

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Stop the Rescue!

During a television interview with former heavy weight boxing champion, Mike Tyson, he said he had lost over $300 million dollars in his career.  Now, after reflecting on a life of costly mistakes he is trying to make some positive changes. 

How did Iron Mike’s life self-destruct?  Outside of his obvious poor choices, some of the people around him are guilty too.

Have you ever just wanted to be “nice” to a family member, friend or co-worker by helping out with an issue they were facing – albeit major or minor?  Maybe you truly felt sorry for them.  Maybe you saw the coming consequences and wanted to step in before it got worse.  Maybe the issue affected you somehow and getting involved was in your best interest.    

I believe there are too many “nice” (or guilt-ridden and manipulated) people who are sustaining and thereby delaying necessary consequences to bad behavior.  Perhaps Iron Mike would have been sitting differently today if some folks would have stepped back and not been so “nice”.          

Today there are too many . . .  
·         Younger parents trying in vain to wake up their 17-year olds for school.
·         Older parents or grandparents doling out gas money to their 30 year olds.    
·         Wives being the middle-person to their kids explaining their dad’s actions. 
·         Employees cleaning up messes from their bosses or other co-workers. 

Ultimately the goal for everyone is to become a mature, independent, responsible adult.  Lovingly stepping back and choosing to allow someone to fail and experience pain is an unfortunate but necessary teacher.  And often our good intentions prevent that from happening. 

When we step back we are allowing someone else to step in.  God.  It is an act of love and trust.    King Solomon wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  We love the person enough to stop trying to rescue with hopes they might change.  We trust God enough to step back and release the person into His care.  Who can do a better job?  He or you?  He hung the stars.  He raises the sun every morning.  He provides the sparrow its food.  What have you done? 

Let us step back and allow God to work.  May He become the hope for today in the lives of the people we so desperately want to rescue.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Pursuit of Fame

Judson Laipply.  Have you ever heard of the name?  He is a comedian who performed a hilarious (and clean) 10-minute skit called The Evolution of Dance.  It was posted on YouTube and became an instant hit.  It is currently the most viewed Internet video of all time, having over 215 million hits.
 
YouTube’s official slogan is “Broadcast Yourself”.  Laipply did just that and he became famous.  According to a Family Circle magazine survey, nearly one-third of our teenagers think they will be famous someday and YouTube, American Idol and many other forms of instant-fame media have provided the vehicle for millions of fame-hungry folks to get there.
However, what happens when you get there?  Then what?  When I look at the news about famous musicians, actors or athletes who have achieved fame I see how their family, health, finances and overall lifestyle is a mess.  It makes me question the blessing of being famous.
What is really behind the desire to be famous anyway?  It is acceptance.  Some people think, “If they see who I really am and what I can do, they will like me.”  The first part of that quote is the problem, “If people”.  Some people and their feelings for us change.  Today they love us, tomorrow they hate us. 
We might consider something else.  Instead of seeking to be known and loved by people, how about seeking to be known and loved by God?  Actually, the undisputed, most-famous person in the universe is God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.  He knows your name and is interested in beginning a life-long relationship with you.  Things operate a little different in God’s world though.  Jesus once said, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). 
Your acceptance by people will be short-lived, but acceptance by God will be eternally-lived.  How do you get it?  Turn from seeking the fame of your name and seek the fame of HIS name.  Humbly and deliberately, place your complete trust in Jesus Christ alone.  Then, you will find your hope for today.

Monday, July 1, 2013

America's Greatest Enemy


President Abraham Lincoln once said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" (brainyquote.com).  An ancient biblical proverb says, "Two things I ask of you (God) . . . give me neither poverty or riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God" (Proverbs 30:7-9).

The idea conveyed is having little or much can affect the character of a person . . . and a nation.   The United States has seen both.  In her early years she had little, while in modern times she has had much.  Today, the U.S. is the leader in innovation, has the greatest university system, the world’s most powerful military, the largest economy and provides unequaled human freedoms.    

Since the late 1800’s, which began the industrial age, America has seen incredible growth and I believe this success has changed America’s character.  Her pride has grown into arrogance.  Her increased knowledge has questioned the need for God.  Her advancements in technology have made her like a god and her hi-tech weapons have replaced God’s protection.     

The principle of abundance leading to a denial of God is a predictable pattern.  When riches, power and success mount there is a quiet shifting of the heart and soul of a nation that when left unchecked leads to its downfall.   

What is America’s greatest enemy?  Ourselves.  The lure of money and power is becoming our Great Destroyer.  Its deceptive appeal has caused us to think too highly of ourselves.  It has created a false sense of security bringing us to believe we are a nation that is indestructible and indispensable to the world.  We have been willingly seduced by prosperity giving birth to the illicit children of ease, complacency and immorality.      

What shall we do?  Let us examine our ways and not walk the paths of other nations.  Let us learn from the downfall of Ancient Empires like Rome, Egypt, Greece and the once vast British Empire.  America’s future is up to its own citizens.  Will we trust in ourselves or Almighty God?  The answer determines our national destiny.  Let us turn to Christ and may He be the hope of our nation.   

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Men at Work

Men, have you ever been told any form of this statement? “You work too much!” Conversely, have you ever been told? “I appreciate your hard work!”

I want to give a cheer to all the men who put in long hours on the job, whose employment puts them on the road away from their families and those who manage multiple jobs. You work hard. Sacrifice. In the end, you have provided for your family and have given a great example of a strong work ethic.

Our Creator gave Adam, the first man created, and every man three purposes. 1- He is to provide for his household. 2 – He is to be the leader of his home. 3 – He is to protect those under his care. These are hard-wired into his DNA. When a man fulfills these purposes it creates a feeling of satisfaction. When a man distorts or flatly shirks his duties it creates the feeling of a meaningless existence.

However, can a man work hard and still miss the mark? Yes! We were created to work, but within God-ordained boundaries of The Great Commandment. These boundaries teach men to love God and others. A man gets it right when through his work he honor’s God and serves others, no matter if he is a CEO or plumber. A man gets it wrong when he works and lives with a selfish ideology. Provision for the family becomes the pursuit of money, success or things. Leadership in the family is shifted to the spouse. Protective instincts become reversed, filtering situations through the grid of, “How will this impact me?”

When men put God and others (family) first, the balance between work and home will be reached. Jesus is the perfect example. He was a driven person who was the hardest working man to ever walk the planet. He once said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34). Yet, as you read about His life, you can see His work was not about Himself, it was about others. No one ever told Jesus to slow down and cut back His hours. Why? Because He got it right. He worked to honor His Father (God) and to serve others. Consequently, everyone cheered Him on. To every man, blessings on you! May Jesus be your example and your hope for today.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Liberator of Women

"Why are you helping me?” The woman said to Captain Nathan Algren, from Hollywood’s block buster film The Last Samurai.  She was carrying some items and the Captain came to help.  In her surprise she commented that “Japanese men don’t help with things like this.” 

The treatment and liberation of women around the world has taken a tremendous leap forward in the last 100 years.  And yes, there is still much work to do.  The first steps toward raising the value of women in society began nearly 2,000 years ago.  It started with Jesus Christ, who is history’s greatest liberator of women.  There are five ways in which He changed the course of history.

Defense.  Jesus had celebrity status, as He gathered crowds in the thousands around Him.  They hung on His every word.  In the midst of this platform He defended women when society tried to demean and dismiss them. 

Challenging the status quo.  Jesus put His life and reputation on the line challenging the unjust but acceptable ways in which women were treated during His day.  Through knowingly opposing cultural rules He became a voice for the voiceless.       

Equality.  Jesus demonstrated that women were as equally valuable as men.  He saw no difference in a man’s worth over a woman’s.  Both were created and loved by God.   

Compassion.   Jesus showed kindness toward women of all ranks in society.  Upper, middle and lower classes.  He showed words and deeds of peace, hope and freedom to all women who would choose to believe in Him.  

Accountability.  Even though Jesus offered promise to women, He also called them to repentance.  He realized true freedom is not just found in changing man’s laws or cultural ideals.  He offered liberation of the soul through forgiveness of sin.  When women are delivered from sin they discover real freedom.   

Jesus and those who follow His example offer a message to women around the world.  Those in abusive relationships, oppressive cultures and feeling on the fringe of society, can find worth in Christ.  While publicly standing against one woman’s accusers Jesus said to her “‘Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?’  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more’” (John 8:10-11).  Across the world, Jesus calls husbands, businesses and governments to honor the God-given value women have.  May Jesus be the hope of women today and forever.  
 

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Great Debate

Based on the results of an extensive survey conducted by The Pew Research Center, “a fierce debate is taking place” across America. What are they are talking about? Gay marriage.

As the movement to legalize gay marriage has gained strength in recent years it has received strong opposition from the Christian community. Arguments have been made against Christians encouraging them to acknowledge that times have changed and to change with them. Helping with that line of thinking the gay movement has utilized acceptable phrases like marriage equality, civil rights, tolerance and diversity. Their compelling and effective campaign has raised two significant issues in my mind - freedom and truth. The gay community wants freedom to practice their lifestyle and pursue measures to normalize and legalize it in our culture, while the Christian community, which is governed by biblical truth, seeks to remain faithful to its beliefs and resists any legal measures to force their compliance.

For over 3,000 years historic Judeo-Christian teaching has accepted the Bible’s position that homosexuality is a sin, just as lying and stealing are. Even though efforts are being made to re-interpret key Scriptures on this issue, modern scholars stand by the accuracy of traditional interpretations. As a result of this time-tested truth the Christian’s conscience is gripped by a conviction that the gay lifestyle and the promotion of it is a violation of God’s standard. Even so, believers do acknowledge the strong passions homosexuals feel for each other. However, this doesn’t take away from the reality of God’s Word, that He condemns all forms of sexual expression – except one. He only puts His blessing on sexual relations between a man and woman in the bonds of marriage.

Christian opposition to the gay movement is on the basis of biblical truth. Similarly, the Christian’s mandate to show kindness to homosexuals is also on the basis of this truth. As a Christian I apologize to gays who have been shunned by the church. We have a divine obligation to lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgenders to show nothing but love, even in the midst of disagreements. The Scriptures say, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).

Ultimately, Christians have a positive and simple agenda. First, we are positively for people and against sin. Second, we simply want to share the love of God through the good news of Jesus with all. My prayer is that everyone will experience freedom through divine forgiveness. This freedom comes by repentance and simple faith in Christ no matter who someone is or what they have done. Indeed, may Christ be our nation’s hope for today.

Friday, March 1, 2013

What if the Resurrection Never Happened?

“A historical fact which involves a resurrection from the dead is utterly inconceivable” wrote the late Dr. Rudolph Bultmann, an influential New Testament German Theologian. Presenting an opposing view is Dr. N.T. Wright. Presently, he is a world’s leading Bible scholar having done extensive research on Jesus’ resurrection. He says, “Because he is raised from the dead, he is Lord of the world, sovereign over the whole cosmos, the one before whom we bow the knee, believing that in the end every creature will come to do so as well.”

From the day Jesus’ tomb was found empty until today, the debate over Jesus’ resurrection has been as divisive as ever among scholars. For the sake of consideration, let us agree with the skeptics who say Jesus’ died but was never resurrected. This presents at least three major problems.

Spiritual.  According to Christian teaching Jesus’ death provided the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of mankind’s sins. His resurrection completed the work. No resurrection would mean no forgiveness. Humanity would be cursed to bear the guilt and shame of their sin forever. All people would be destined to a vain life and fearful death because of no hope beyond ourselves.

Moral.  According to Christian teaching God declares He does not lie and listed it in the Ten Commandments to be obeyed by His followers. If the resurrection never happened then God is a liar. Jesus is a liar. The Apostles are liars. The whole Bible is a lie. The billions of Christians for the last 2000 years (including this writer) are all liars. The entire Christian religion would be humankind’s greatest conspiracy.

Theological.  According to Christian teaching, Jesus was not a mere man but divine and His resurrection was ultimate proof. If Jesus had not risen from the dead it would be legitimate to ask “How could God have died . . . and stayed dead?” If there was no resurrection Jesus was not divine. His miracles were a hoax. His teachings are empty. He is nothing more than an influential historical figure like Socrates, Gandhi or Martin Luther King.

What shall we say in response? His tomb is empty. His bones have never been found. There were eye witnesses to His resurrection. One early follower said, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:32). For centuries billions of these witnesses have been transformed by Him. JESUS IS ALIVE! HE IS OUR HOPE FOR TODAY AND FOREVER!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Special Column - The Christian Church & Gay Movement


It was 1991, I was in my early twenties and landed my dream job. I was a route driver for a big-time potato chip company. One day I received word a new customer was added to my route, a local bar. Never had I been in a bar, let alone tasted alcohol. Needless to say, my first service call to the bar was a bit uncomfortable. In time, as I grew more familiar with the surroundings I was more at ease. Eventually, I learned that it was not like other drinking establishments in town, but was known as a gay bar. My first thought was, “What was a gay bar?” let alone “What did it mean to be gay?” Yes, I was na├»ve.

Much has changed in my life and in our world since then. Both of us have grown up a lot. Nowadays TV shows feature gay characters. Gay public figures are emerging. Various pro-gay legal and workplace measures have been enacted. Some churches have adopted new doctrinal statements allowing homosexuals into their clergy or membership. The gay label has broadened encompassing lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender individuals (LGBT). These advancements have come with a price. Sadly, there have been cases of bullying, discrimination or hate crimes simply because someone was gay.

The Christian church has experienced much division through expansion of the gay movement. Clergy are holding opposite positions, long-time members are walking away from their churches and local congregations are separating from their denomination. Some Clergy have re-visited the Bible’s stance on homosexuality and teach people can now be practicing homosexuals and a Christian. All this has caused chaos in the church. Additionally, some Christians who have opposed actions of the gay movement have been labeled homophobes, pressured to change their views or faced legal action.

The tension in our culture and especially in the church is off the charts when it comes to gay issues. Despite modern changes to some church doctrinal statements, historic Christian teaching has affirmed homosexuality is a sin, just as lying and stealing are. However, it has gone beyond a sin issue. Now the church is facing a highly organized and well funded effort to normalize and legalize the gay lifestyle in America. These efforts are putting immense cultural pressure on the Christian community forcing them into a moral and theological dilemma. The pressure goes beyond the church. Christians in business, education, media and other arenas are feeling it too. How should one who affirms the biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality respond?

The Bible has been the worldwide textbook for Christian living and teaching for millenniums. Christians believe it is the very words of God. During Bible times homosexuality was already in practice. However, God spoke prohibiting His people from engaging in the lifestyle. He considered it sexual immorality just as adultery, fornication and other forms of sexual behavior were. He condemned all forms of sexual expression – except one. He only put His blessing on sexual relations between a man and woman in the bonds of marriage.

The organized gay movement and Christian church are two groups holding firmly to their positions. May I offer a word of understanding to the gay community about Christians? Understand when most believers oppose actions that advance your movement it springs from their commitment to the historic Christian faith not prejudice. In such cases they must be silent and go along, change their beliefs or object. This puts them in a moral quandary. Christians respectfully ask for understanding in consideration of their beliefs. Their disagreement is not rooted in bias but commitment to the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality. In the same way, let me offer a word to the Christian community. Owe lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgenders nothing but love. As you stand for truth in the public square, have disagreements and engage in debate, follow the example of Jesus. Do not shun, speak evil or slander, rather, show kindness, compassion and mercy. The Scriptures say, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). As Christ has loved you, love. As Christ has forgiven you, forgive. Additionally, reach out to the gay community and build friendships. Learn their names, where they are from and the stories of their lives. Invest your life in theirs.

As a Christian writer and speaker I have a positive and simple agenda. First, I positively am for people and against sin. Second, I simply want to share the love of God through the good news of Jesus with all. I want everyone no matter who they are, what they have done or how they live, to experience divine forgiveness through repentance and faith in Christ. Then as people turn towards Him and walk in His ways I believe God’s blessing will cover our nation.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Searching for Love

I coached myself saying, “If I make this basket then she loves me.” After the ball slammed against the rim and bounced to the asphalt I said, “Ok, the best out of 10”. Just like when I was a teenager, every one of us is in search for love. Experts say more than 2 billion minutes a month are logged online by people searching for love. Additionally, many of the top songs on the Billboard Charts deal with love and the most successful movies each year always feature a romance between the leading man and woman.

Where does this universal desire for love come from? Observe the myriad of relationships around us. From birth, a baby needs the love of a father and mother. As a child grows, they develop friendships often finding a best friend. Then when our son or daughter enters into middle and high school they discover “boys” and “girls”. This begins their search for that special guy or gal.

In most cases, whether we are young or old, our search for love is pretty one sided. It is more about our needs and our dreams than the other persons’. Even so, we can still manage to find someone and experience true love . . . at least for a moment. But then disillusionment shows its heart-breaking face and we find ourselves standing speechless as our dreams for true love fall to the floor shattering into thousands of pieces. When emptiness, disillusionment and shattered dreams become the symbols of our search for love it is because we have missed the mark.

God our Creator placed the desire for love within us. Why? To drive us home. In other words, to drive us back to Himself. When we try to find perfect love anywhere else we miss the mark. It is written that “love is from God” (1 John 4:7) because “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Ultimately, it is not the perfect man or woman we are searching for it is God. Mistakenly however, we exchange the pursuit of something heavenly for something earthly, something eternal for something temporal.

True love ultimately finds its fulfillment in knowing God. He embodies all that the human heart, soul and mind longs for. When we find God and follow Him we find love. May God through His Son, Jesus Christ, be your hope for today.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Value of Life

"Will you pray for us? My wife and I wish to have children.” Several years ago I went on a mission trip to India and heard this request many times as I ministered among the people. They wanted to exhaust all means in trying to have a family. It made a deep impact on me. The Scriptures say, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)

This experience hammered home the value of life. We see it everywhere in our world. Young couples facing the inability to have children, trying to save the life of an unborn child when there are complications or when a little boy or girl has a tragic accident or a serious health problem. There are no mountains high enough, no seas deep enough and no dangers terrifying enough to make us give up.

The value of life. We also see it in our grief when a life is lost. A soldier having life-long nightmares of lives he has taken in defense of our country. A parent’s heartache because of their child who was taken in a tragedy like the Sandy Hook shooting. The secret and silent tears of an abortion.

We were made to save life and value it. God our Creator made human beings and called them “good”. He then commissioned us to have families and fill the earth. Life is part of His plan. When we follow it there is joy and peace.

When life is unfairly taken or destroyed it only brings pain and suffering. This is part of the terrible curse of sin in our world. It falls on the just and unjust alike. There is a sense of mystery to it that no words of eloquence could ever satisfy.

Let us do three things today. First, we must give ourselves permission and time to grieve loss. Because we value life, naturally we grieve when life is taken away. Second, let us never go against God’s plan. Nothing good will come upon a person or nation that does not uphold the value of life. Third, let us agree that everyone is valuable, from the disabled child to the beautiful movie star. So precious is life, that God sent His only Son, Jesus. He came to save us from the greatest evil that still is yet to come upon our world. May we receive Jesus and make Him our hope for today.