Tag Archives: responsibility

Psalms 8-11; Crumbling Foundations

There is so much unrest, so much evil, and hatred, dishonesty and self-seeking people in our county, I could almost take the advice of David’s friends in Psalm 11, and fly away. The wicked are winning. Is it time to fly the white flag?

The school districts in the county where I spent 37 years in public education, have had more than their share of tragedy since school started in August of last year. Nine adolescent suicides and one adolescent murder-suicide have devastated this average American community.

Last week’s shooting in Florida is yet another tragedy that has rocked our world. I am heartbroken as are many of you. Too many of our youth are living like there is no hope.

But this time, in my grief, I am angry. When adults use grieving, impressionable children to further their own political agendas, we’ve sunken deeper into the mire. Those who organized this field trip to Washington are the lowest kinds of abusers, as far as I’m concerned.

Here’s what needs to happen: Instead of focusing on guns, we need to focus on what’s inside the hearts of those who have no hope, who have no respect for life, who cannot see beyond themselves.

You’ve heard it said, it’s not a gun issue, it’s a heart issue. And it is.

I don’t want to glorify the “anti-bullying” mentality, because that whole movement has made victims of everybody. Teaching children that people should treat you fairly has done more harm than good. But I wonder if the classmates of all of the kids who either kill themselves or others, have a responsibility. I wonder if the parents of the classmates of those kids have a responsibility, the school employees, the neighbors of those children. You. Me.

We’ve spent so much time and money teaching kids how to stick up for themselves. Maybe we should turn our efforts into teaching kids how to stick up for one another. In our efforts to stamp out bullying, we’ve given children the idea that they have the power within themselves to stop an evil person from being evil. (If you say this, or do this, they’ll stop being mean to you) And we are lying to them. The truth of the matter is you can’t.

I wonder how many of the students who enjoyed their little trip to D.C. ever reached out to that classmate. I wonder how many of them spoke to him after his mother died. I was in schools long enough to know the cruelest words are often cloaked in niceties. I wonder how many of those survivors said things, laughed at things, saw his social media posts and did nothing, or simply went about their day acting like this boy didn’t exist.

And I wonder how many of their parents, knowing this boy’s situation, ever encouraged their own children to include him. I wonder how many adults reached out to this boy.

I know there were some. And I also know that this adolescent was a troubled, lost boy. One kind word would not have changed the outcome, because there were some people who did speak those kind words. But I wonder if placed on a scale, would the kindness out weigh the cruelty?

I wonder the same in the lives of those ten dead children in my hometown. Has our country become so self-absorbed that we don’t even see the children who are desperate to be heard?

I will not talk about the “system” that failed, or the FBI, or the security guards, or the gun that was used. All of those are byproducts of the problem, not the cause of the problem.

The problem is us. We need to start teaching children how to take responsibility for their actions, that treating others the way they want to be treated is hard, but right. We need to stop making everything a political issue, even though doing that conveniently allows us to blame someone else for our own failures.

We need to boldly proclaim that there is hope. There is forgiveness and unconditional love. There is peace, and joy, and a real reason to live regardless of situations. We need to introduce people to their Savior, Jesus, the giver of life.

The foundation of our society is crumbling, as is seen in the perceived hopelessness of our children. David asks:

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? (11:3)

Rebuild the foundation! Ezra did.

Dear one, we are all guilty about what happened in Florida, and in other parts of our country. Too many of us are either actively destroying the foundation of our country, or we’re sitting back and watching it crumble.

And our children are dying while we play politics, or bury our heads in our phones.

God forgive us.

 

 

July 30 – And We Will Be Saved

2 Kings 18:9-19-37; Psalms 46, 80, 135

O Lord God of hosts, how long will You be angry with the prayers of Your people? (Psalm 80:4)

The psalmist goes on to say that God’s people have experienced hardship and grief, they’ve become objects of contention to their neighbors, and laughed at by their enemies. Then the psalmist says,

O God of hosts, restore us and cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. (verse 7, emphasis mine)

Do my prayers anger God? Do I pray out of selfishness, or pride, greed, or laziness? I am reminded of the great responsibility we who are God’s children have. If we want our nation, and our world saved – we’d better learn to pray.

Not-So-Common Sense

The Proverbs are rich in common sense (or not-so-common these days). Today I read in chapter 16 where it says a whisper can destroy a friendship.

Why is it some people think they have to tell everything they think they know? Why do some stretch the truth or pass on an opinion as fact? Why is it some people are intent on stirring things up, living in drama every day? And how many friendships, even marriages, could be saved if we would learn to control our tongues? (Read what James has to say on that subject in chapter three of his book).

You might whisper the latest gossip into the ear of your closest friend, but once you do you have no control over where it goes from there. And you have no control over the hurt caused by your little whisper. The damage is already done.

It’s like the internet, social media. A hard lesson many people have had to learn is that anything posted can NEVER be completely erased. That picture will always be in cyber space, accessible to anyone. That email sent in private is not so private there on the server.

A whisper, a text, a post can destroy your relationships, can destroy lives. Are you ok with that? Are you willing to be a part of that?

It should be common sense to know that spreading gossip is destructive. It should be common sense to know that the less said, the better on most subjects, especially if the subject is really none of your business or the business of the person you are telling. But God knew we don’t always use the sense we have, common or not.

So he inspired men to write down some common rules of living. Like what I read today in Proverbs. Like what James had to say.

Next time you are tempted to pass on that juicy bit of information… zip it. Show a little not-so-common sense.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for our tongues. That amazing muscle helps us speak, taste, swallow, chew. It’s a pretty handy invention you have there. But God, may we be reminded the power we have in the use of our tongues. May we control them, whether tempted to whisper that gossip in the ear of a friend, or use our fingers to type out the words before we hit “send”. May the words of our mouths and the meditation of hearts be acceptable to you, Lord. And may we use our words to build up, encourage one another rather than be any part of tearing somebody down.

A Tattoo On My Life

Tattoos are the rage these days. I have a friend who got her first tat when she turned 60. I recently saw a boy of about eight with a cross tattooed to his leg. Both his parents were covered in colorful ink.

Tattoos are no longer “Mom” written on a sailor’s arm. Flowers and skulls and dragons and butterflies, even faces and catchy phrases are worn from the scalp to the toes and everywhere in between by a growing number of people.

In Ezekiel’s vision, an angel was given the task of putting a mark on the forehead of the people who were grieved over sin. (Ez 9) Only those few, with the angel’s tat, were saved. Everyone else lost their lives as a result of God’s judgement.

So I ask myself: is there a visible sign in me that identifies me with the Savior? Is it possible to be a closet Christian? Or, like in Ezekiel’s vision, are we to live as though we had “JESUS” tattooed on our foreheads? The Bible tells us there is no other name under heaven that can save us.

I have no plans to ever have a tattoo. I’ve only ever seen one worth having, and that’s my niece’s personal tribute to her brother, who was tragically killed in an auto accident two years ago. It’s the Hebrew word for “brother” that Jesus used when he spoke to his disciples, and it’s on her right wrist.

I don’t want a tattoo. But I want to live my life in such a way that Jesus is as visible as if his name was tattooed to my forehead. May Christ be seen in me by the words I say, the places I go, the things I do, by the very look on my face.

Dear Jesus, I love you. What you did on the cross so that I can be with you is everything to me. Help me live my life so that others know that about me. May they recognize your love, your grace, your peace, your Presence when they look at my life. Convict me when I begin to get off track and may I be quick to confess. I would be honored to represent you today according to your Word. You have tattooed your Name on my heart. May I wear it proudly and truly so that someone will recognize you and want you in their life, too.

It’s On Me

I read Proverbs 25-29 this morning as part of my daily walk through the chronological Bible. Some of the proverbs make me chuckle. Others hit home and convict. I don’t understand some of them. What I came away with today is: be honest, love and obey God, use good sense, don’t get too full of yourself. I am reminded that God wants to bless me today. The only thing standing in his way, is me.

I went to my weekly Weight Watchers meeting this morning. (that’s a story in itself) The instructor asked us to list those things that cause us to slip up in our attempt to lose weight. People threw out things like: other people, snacks at the workplace, depression, fatigue, holidays, etc. We all could relate!

Then she said: none of those things cause us to fail. It’s us. It’s me. It’s my taking that handful of chips, or worse, the whole bag. It’s me eating that candy and not counting it. She reminded us that no one forces food in our mouths, and that we need to take responsibility for every bite. 

I was reminded of that truth as I read Proverbs today. I am responsible for the choices I make: from my attitude, to how I dress, to the relationships I have, to my response to temptation. I can’t blame you… or God.

If I am not being blessed by God, it’s not his fault. Circumstances aside, he wants to bless me in every and all situations, good and bad. He only asks that I trust and obey him. So if I’m not being blessed by God, it’s on me.

My Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for your abundant blessings. Forgive me for those times I miss out on what you have for me because of sin in my life, because I have taken my eyes off of you. Help me to take responsibility for the choices I make every day. And may I choose you.

August 19

Jeremiah 34:1-22, 39:1-18; 2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 36:15-21

We in America talk a lot about freedom. The United States of America was founded on freedom. Thousands of men and women have fought and died to protect our freedom.

But did you know everyone who has ever lived is given freedom no matter where they are born? Jeremiah 34 tells us about a God-given freedom. It’s the freedom to “fall by the sword, plague and famine.”

Gee, thanks God. Who would choose that?

God has granted all people everywhere the freedom to choose him or reject him. We can acknowledge the God of Creation, accept his Word to be true, or we can deny him and live by our own rules. God is plain to say there are blessings for those who follow him and consequences for those who don’t.

But there is something about freedom that we sometimes overlook. With freedom comes responsibility. We’ve seen freedoms erode here in the US because too many of us have not taken on the responsibility of making sure legislators aren’t chipping away at them. We’ve allowed our freedoms to disappear and have no one to blame but ourselves.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to obey God, to be holy as he is holy, and to share the gospel with everyone. Our freedom to choose God comes with the responsibility to live according to his Word.

Yes, we are free to choose. I pray that no one reading this blog will choose to fall by the sword, plague and famine by choosing to ignore God’s Truth. And I pray that all of us will take responsibility for the freedom we enjoy in Christ by reaching out to others in Jesus’ name so they can enjoy that freedom, too.

Holy God, I thank you for giving the human race the freedom to choose. I thank you that I am not a robot with no ability to choose for myself. Father, I choose you today. Help me to obey you. Give me the ability to share your Truth with someone today. I pray that my loved ones will choose that Truth. May my life stand apart as one who loves and obeys the One True God. And may I recognize that, as wonderful as the freedom I enjoy in Jesus, I have a responsibility to obey you. May you find me faithful.