"...and I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever!"

Monday, March 28, 2011

Convicted by a Camera?

As we watch the news, we quickly learn that national conversation drowns with debates. Different issues are tossed around like dust in the wind. Statements like "What's Your Opinion" or "What's Your Stance" control most discussions. Some of these debates are important, others are pointless, but this debate in South Carolina grabbed my attention.

On Intersate 95, South Carolina Law Enforcement has installed High Definition cameras that catch speeding cars. These cameras have caught thousands of motorists and won countless awards for highway safety, but they have also attracted heated opposition from law makers and angry drivers. Last month, a Mercedes with South Carolina license plates sped by a camera going 83 mph, 13 mph over the speed limit. The camera fired pictures of the license plate and driver to a computer monitor viewed by Law Enforcement. The driver of the Mercedes happily continued north, only to find a ticket in the mail two weeks later for $133.00. Larry Grooms, South Carolina Senator and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee said, "We're absolutely shutting the cameras down." Grooms claimed the camera was promoting Unconstitutional Selective Law Enforcement. Convicted drivers agreed with Grooms and added these thoughts to the discussion, "If you get a ticket you should be stopped by an officer, informed why you have have been stopped, and have an opportunity to state your case." I see why they're frustrated, but it's hard to justify their frustration when I see the statistical results from the cameras. From January to July of 2010, before the cameras were installed, there were 55 crashes and 4 fatalities in South Carolina on Interstate 95. Since August of 2010, there have been 38 crashes and no deaths. There has also been a 50% decline in the number of motorists driving 81 mph or more. Numbers don't lie. The cameras seem to be doing their job!

I don't care to get in the middle of the "lion's den", but these cameras do "capture" some truths about the Christian life. We often ask, "Is it right to do this? Is it wrong to do that?" Well, here's the answer: If you behave like you should, you don't have to worry about what cameras or people "catch" you doing. Perhaps that's what Paul meant when he wrote in Romans 13:13, "Let us behave decently, as in the day time..." If we truly seek God's will for our life, we shouldn't worry about being "Convicted by a Camera", but with confidence we should say, "Go ahead. Take the picture. You'll like what you see."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Listening for Life

With heavy hearts and saddened spirits, we've all seen the horrific images from Japan. The piles of rubble give us a sense of Japan's broken lives and desperation for brighter days. As the death count continues to raise, our fear of this tragedy occuring on American soil quickly increases.

Even though Japan is full of heart break, a little "miracle" shined through the gloom. In Ishinokami City, a small northeastern town of Japan, at least 2,000 bodies washed up on the shore. As the Japanese Defense Force continued to go from door to door pulling bodies from demolished homes, they heard the sound of a baby's cry, but they passed it off as a mistake of exhaustion. For hours, they had been hearing the sounds of crunching ruins and sloshing mud. The chances of a baby crying out for help were slim to none! Then they heard it again. The crew quickly made its ways over to the pile of debris and carefully removed all the wood, slate, shattered glass, and there she was--a four-month old baby girl in a pink woolen bear suit. As the baby was re united with her joyous father, a Japanese Civil Defense official said, "Her discovery has put a new energy into the search. We will listen, look, and dig with even more diligence after this."

Through the chaos and disasters of our own lives, Jesus' voice will always cry from the wood work. With a soft, yet vibrant sound, He will say, "Come Unto Me!" Like these Japanese officials, let's diligently look and dig for the Savior. In our world full of darkness that leads to death, if we listen for the "Anointed One", He will lead us to life!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Categorizing Calories?

Last week, Natalie and I broke out of our shell and we went to Jack in the Box. I can't make any sense of it other than that's what "Little Hawk" was craving, and "Little Hawk" already takes priority in our family! I've always enjoyed Jack in the Box, but I've never been a huge fan. Obviously, it's fast food which demotes it on the "delightful" scale, but what do you expect? Have you seen their prices? 99 cents for two tacos; Come on, who can beat that? Then again, it does make you wonder what's in those tacos if they are willing to sell them for less than two quarters a piece! But when I was standing in line struggling to decide what "dish" I wanted to clog my arteries, I couldn't help but listen to the woman in front of me. As she was searching the menu, which seemed like half an hour, she finally decided on a #4. The worker at the counter who was equally as tired as I was asked the usual question, "Would you like fries with that?" To which this woman responded, "No, I don't need the fries, but I will take the bacon cheddar wedges!" Now that's the way to cut back!

I'm afraid that we often live in this same world of self-denial. As Christians, we don't necessarily "Categorize our Calories", but we seem to "Categorize our Sin!" We convince ourselves that it's wrong to committ "that" sin, but it's ok to committ "this" one. Since when? God detests all sin, and every short coming stunt of the flesh is equally wrong in the eyes of God!

So next time you step up to the "menu" of sin, please remember: It's ALL bad, NONE of it's worth it, and it will CERTAINLY catch up with you! Better yet, just step aside and don't even order! Stick to the "Bread of Life."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Disheartening Discovery?

In our current political climate, the Presidency is constantly under rampant fire. Words like "impeach" and "remove" easily roll off America's tongue. It's refreshing to reminisce about a President the majority of America holds in high regards. His face is portrayed on our currency and precisely carved into a mountain of American champions. He sternly sits on a throne of justice, staring at the reflecting pool and Washington Monument. At his feet, another innovative icon stood years later shouting to the masses, "I Have a Dream!" His name is Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln was the "glue" that held the nation together during the Civil War. As a social pioneer, or even "rebel" of sorts, Lincoln freed slaves with his powerful "Emancipation Proclamation", proving that the United States really was a land where ALL men were created EQUAL.

But as the nation celebrates the 105th anniversary of Lincoln's first inauguration, some troubling news has come to light. Some historians claim that Lincoln supported colonization and segregation, rather than the integration of all free men, regardless of their color. Newly uncovered documents found at the British National Archives and the United States National archives quote Lincoln stating to a group of free blacks standing outside the White House in 1862, "For the sake of your race, you should sacrifice something of your present comfort for the purpose of being as grand in that respect as the white people." In other words, Lincoln believed free blacks who envisioned their future in the United States were selfish, because Central America was an ideal climate for someone of their ethnicity. Now on the other hand, some historians disagree with this new evaluation of Lincoln's character. They say Lincoln might have originally supported colonization, but towards the end of the Civil War, his views changed. I sure hope they're right. Any man who promotes social justice and equality is high on my list of heroes.

This debate about Lincoln does make me wonder, if we show Christ to the world through the integrity of our lives, what does the world see? Do we illustrate the "lamb without blemish", who was "full of grace and truth", sent to do the "will of the Father?" Or, do we illustrate a persona that fasely represents the Messiah? From time to time we will make mistakes, and we'll fail to be the exact "blue print" of Christ. But even though we aren't divine, our mistakes don't give us the excuse to distort who Jesus really is!

Take a long, hard look at your life. Does it portray Christ correctly? Make sure there aren't any "disheartening discoveries" about the Savior!