Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Lasting Hope

Where is the hope? Between the financial crisis and multiple natural disasters, the majority of American's have been affected. Then throw in our transition to a new President, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and disturbing events in our communities and families it is understandable why some would wonder.

I define hope as something you need when you are in a situation beyond your control. Your determination, education, passing of time, money and position do not solve your problem. You feel that if there is going to be a solution, it must come from outside yourself.

Christmas is the annual worldwide celebration of the birth of Jesus. From the time of His birth in the first century to the people of today, His birth continues to inspire hope.

His birth was marked with many supernatural events. On one occasion, a heavenly angel spoke to His earthly father, Joseph, about his soon to be wife, Mary, saying, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21)

That divine mission was the hope of all humanity. It was to provide a way for people to be saved from their sin. Why is that hope? Because sin is at the root of hopelessness. The curse of sin, the sin of others and our own sin. Physical death, sickness and disease are all part of this curse. Divorce, drunkenness, lying, greed and sexual immorality may be sins that you or people in your circle of family or friends have been guilty of. It has affected all of us bringing chaos or complete destruction to our lives or to those whom we love.

Jesus birth, His eventual death and resurrection have made a way that we can have real hope. Whether the trials we go through are of our own making or from the hands of others, we do not have to carry the burden anymore. When we turn from trying to save ourselves and in faith call upon Jesus, we discover the lasting hope of Christmas. May you receive His hope this Christmas season.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Cost of Service

In 1977, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act. The legislation helped minorities, low-income families and inner city residents obtain home-ownership through low-income loans. By the year 2000, banks had given out nearly one trillion dollars in loans because of the Act, which had undergone some changes.

Minorities, low-income families and inner city residents all seem to have a target on their back that only some people can see. I firmly believe among elected officials, community organizations and businesses there are some who are genuine and truly seek to serve the needs of others, but there are also some who seek to simply profit at the expense of others.

The current mortgage crisis is an example. The very people who were suppose to benefit from these “easy to get” loans are now its greatest victims. This leads me to wonder, “Are minorities and low-income families just a business opportunity to make money? Are they just a program idea to receive money from the government? Are they more than just pawns in a game of power between political parties?”

I know of a famous and powerful person in world history who spent his life serving the minorities and low-income people of His day – Jesus Christ. In His short three-year ministry career, He quickly became one of the most famous men of his day. Long before cars, marketing and sound systems people traveled miles on foot to hear him speak. Crowds would gather by the thousands in the open air to listen. Yet, He was never lured away into using His fame, power or influence to serve His own personal ambitions. Rather, He continually gave of Himself to minister to the sick, feed the hungry and offer words of hope to all who came and listened. He gave Himself so fully, that it eventually cost Him His life. Jesus once said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (The Bible, Mark 8:36).

May Jesus be our hope for today and our model for service. May we not seek to serve ourselves at the expenses of others, but rather serve others at the expense of ourselves.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Breaking Down The Walls

Long before Vice-Presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin was elected Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, there was Susanna Madora Salter. In 1887, Salter threw open the door for women to hold political office. She became the nation’s first woman Mayor in Argonia, Kansas. The results of the election traveled quickly across the county and even around the world.

The door that Presidential nominee U. S. Senator Barack Obama has walked through was opened by Alexander Lucius Twilight. He became America’s first black elected to political office. In 1836, Twilight became a member of the Vermont House of Representatives.

The humble beginnings of women and blacks in politics have now risen to their greatest heights, with a chance to hold the most powerful political office in the world. When you go to the polls and vote on November 4, you will be part of a milestone in America’s political history. You will help put either our first black as President or our first woman as Vice-President of the United States.

This historic presidential race shows how far we have come in granting equal rights and opportunities to women and blacks. Though we have come far, we still have much to go. Racism and sexism still exists in this country. Far too long, we have judged people’s worth by their gender and race. Fortunately, God does not judge others the same way. We look at the outside, He looks at the heart.

We see how God values people by looking at His Son, Jesus Christ. During His time on earth, history records how Jesus reached out to women and people of different races upsetting the political climate of His day. Due to His teachings and refusal to stop, He was sentenced to a tortuous death. Yet, even death could not stop Him. For three days, He lay in a tomb, then a miraculous resurrection happened and Jesus rose from the dead. When He did, a great wall of separation came crashing down. The wall that separates mankind from God was demolished and the wall that divides people from each other was destroyed. Through Jesus Christ, we find our answer for the barriers that separate us. He is our hope for today. He is our hope for America.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Two Paths, One Choice

At 16 years old, Justin was a hard worker, loved to help others and had a love for politics. That is why a candidate for Governor took a risk and asked him to be a County Chairman for his statewide political race. He wound up doing a tremendous job. He helped the candidate win the county with the highest voter turn out in the state.

Tommy, also 16 years old, led a much different life then Justin. During one weekend, Tommy played a role in slashing 34 tires. He became caught up in a bizarre tire slashing competition with other teenagers. People began filing complaints with the police, who launched an investigation. Soon Tommy’s mother found out and with her direction, he voluntarily surrendered himself to police and was arrested.

As the fall semester begins for schools across America, the classrooms will be filled with Justins and Tommys. These two young men represent two paths in life that bring very different results. One path results in a generous and sacrificial spirit that puts a concern for others above themselves. The other path results in a narcissistic spirit that loves self first and only sacrifices for others if it will provide a personal benefit.

God’s Son, Jesus, spoke of these two paths. He said there is a path that leads to eternal life, but it is narrow, hard to follow and has few people on it. He said there is another path, but it leads to eternal destruction, is wide, easy to follow and has many people on it.

Why does the one path have few people on it? Because there must be a deliberate choice to put a love for others and a love for God above self. As a result, people discover the present and eternal life God offers. Why does the wide path have many people on it? Because it is the easy choice. It is the default path. It leads to a destructive life for people because they want to direct their own life, trust in themselves and put their needs above God and others.

Each path represents a choice. God says to us, “Choose you this day whom you will serve” (The Bible, Joshua 24:15). It is never too late, what path will you choose? May Jesus be your hope for today.