Tag Archives: race

Lighten Your Spiritual Baggage!

My Expedition fits 8 people…well, it is possible to get 4 adults and 4 children into the car with the 3rd row up. I found this out last week when we had friends visiting from overseas. It was a tight squeeze, but we managed to fit both our families while traveling to NC and TN. I’m glad to say our friendship survived the trip!

At first, it seemed so simple: 8 seats for 8 people. But it was complicated by one obvious issue – luggage. Several rounds of “luggage Tetris” were needed to put bags in small spaces, under feet, and in laps…and that was with packing bare essentials only!

Truth is, most of us need luggage when traveling. That’s obvious. Still, we probably bring more than we need. Lightening our load would make things easier.

But as much of a nuisance as luggage can be, spiritual baggage is an even greater burden. And the worst thing about carrying spiritual baggage is that it is unnecessary! With size 14 shoes, I need a big bag for my stuff, but big spiritual luggage doesn’t help anyone.

Spiritual baggage comes in many forms. We cram past hurts in our backpack; we haul sins in a suitcase; we strap Satan’s lies to the luggage rack, and we schlep our worries and fears everywhere we go. No wonder many people don’t want to begin the journey to recovery!

The Hebrews writer tells us to:

lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Running the race is easier when we unload our baggage.

Isn’t it time you dropped a few bags? Jesus told the weary and heavy laden to come into His rest and unburden themselves (Matthew 11:28-30). What could you unload today at the foot of the cross? Live in the freedom Jesus provides. He carries it all.

And if you want to know how, get in touch; I’d love to help.

His Dignity Is The Real Deal

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

It’s about dignity. Simple, human, dignity. And yet, actual dignity is often hampered by human involvement. Consider recent examples:

Most people know that all races should be treated with dignity. Yet, as recently seen at Fenway Park, we have a long way to go before dignity prevails. The Boston Red Sox and the Mayor are still apologizing to Orioles’ Adam Jones for racist taunts and items thrown at him during Monday’s game.

Most people know that both men and women should be treated with dignity. But, we still have a long way to go before men and women receive equal dignity. Recent news, even from a progressive company such as Facebook, shows that coding by women gets rejected much more often than that of men for the same quality of work.

Most people know that rich and poor should be treated with dignity. But recent news from United Airlines has proven that many people still determine how to treat others based on finances. When a passenger was violently ejected from a flight, it wasn’t just his forcible removal that made headlines. The more sinister revelation was the math that proved that less dignity is regularly given to customers who are worth the least to the company.

None of this is surprising. We live in a sinful world where people, even those with good intentions, will fall short of the glory of God. But does the Christian have a solution?

Yes, Jesus is the answer!

In Christ, all have dignity. It doesn’t mean that we get it right all the time…because we’re human. But there is a goal. There is an ideal.

We strive to be like Jesus. He died for everyone, regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic background. All have equal opportunity to receive eternal life in Him. And if change will ever come in this world, it will be through our efforts to conform to His likeness.

A Destructive Vengeance

ward-jr-from-facebookjpgNo one will ever know exactly why Kevin Ward, Jr. thought it was ok to get out of the safety of his car. As he chased down Tony Stewart’s speeding car, we can only assume that one thought was in his mind – “even the score.” After all, growing up, he watched role models like Stewart chase after people when they wronged him! When someone makes you mad, you get even…right?

You see, moments earlier, Stewart had bumped Ward into the wall and Ward spun out of the race. Unfortunately, Kevin Ward did not stay in his car, he didn’t calm down, and he didn’t forgive. Instead, he got out of his car and ran toward Stewart’s vehicle yelling. As Ward ran to confront Stewart, Stewart’s tires swung out, Ward was pulled under the car, run over, and killed.

The Wards are in our prayers, and we grieve their loss. By all accounts, Kevin was a fine, young man, and this action was not indicative of his life style. In a moment of anger, he made a very dangerous decision. But perhaps there is something that can come from this sad loss of life that can help us to avoid devastation in our own lives.

You see, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, and regardless of who did what to whom that night, we all experience anger. And, when angry, our first reaction is usually to “get even” by hurting the other person. That is why the apostle Paul said, “be angry and yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Even when our anger is righteous, or in reaction to injustice and sinfulness in the world, anger serves only to feed the beast called revenge…and typically causes us to sin.

Wanting to “even the score,” or take revenge, usually leads to one of two things: sin on our part or hurting ourselves further. In Romans 12:19, Paul reminds us of God’s command:

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

But more often than not, people think they know better. Either they are unwilling to wait on the Lord’s justice, or they are unable to trust in it. Or, worse still, we don’t wait on God because we know that God is a forgiving God and we don’t want to see others forgiven (Jonah 4)! But scripture reads:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

In 1 Samuel 25, we learn of a man named Nabal, and his wife, Abigail. Nabal insulted David, and David was on his way to kill Nabal, when Nabal’s wife Abigail intervened. She convinced David not to take revenge on Nabal, saying that his actions were those of a fool (Nabal even means fool). David agreed, seeing the wisdom in her argument. About 10 days later, Nabal, whose heart had failed him, was struck by the Lord and fell dead.

David, in a moment of passion, insult, and anger, almost made a horrible decision to do harm to someone because of the perceived damage Nabal had done to him. When he heard Abigail’s words of reason, David said in 1 Samuel 25:33:

“May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.”

David realized something that we forget too often – Vengeance belongs to the Lord. Most of us heard it this way growing up, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Holding anger in our hearts, despising and hating others, trying to bring about revenge on our own, in this lifetime, will never result in glory to God. Those are the actions of the fool. Rather, trust in the Lord. Forgive those who have trespassed against you. Live your life fully for the Lord. And know, in that day, that justice will be served.

And the truth is, none of us will live up to the perfect standard by which we will be judged. All fallen short; we all need forgiven. Know that the blood of Jesus was shed for the forgiveness of those who would ask, seek, and knock. Have you heard the gospel? Have you turned away from a life dedicated to sin? Have you confessed Jesus as the Son of God? Have you been baptized for the forgiveness of sin? If not, why not seek His Word and learn more about the grace and mercy of God.

#stewart, #ward, #forgiven, #revenge, #vengeance

Interrupted, but Pressing On!

Terrorism, in any form, is one of the lowest, most cowardly things that one human being can do to another. The ultimate purpose of terrorists is to inflict fear. One of the best ways to inflict terror is to take something that seems happy, safe, and predictable and turn it into something painful and chaotic. This is exactly what the recent bombers of the Boston Marathon hoped to accomplish.

In Galatians 5:7-10, the apostle Paul deals with terrorists who were interrupting a different kind of race. When he sees runners in the Christian marathon stumbling, he asks, “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?” He then warns terrorists that the judgment will be harsh for those who interrupt, bomb, and terrorize those who are running for God. Paul says, “The one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is.”

While the Boston terrorists were successful in causing harm, it remains to be seen what our reaction will be. If the past is any indication, Americans are very resilient. Marathons will continue, and many will come to cheer runners in the future. For most of us, life will go on as before with the exception that a little more innocence has been stolen from us.

My heart and prayers go out to the families of the victims, the participants in the Marathon, and the citizens of Boston for the recent terrorist action. At times such as this, we are comforted in the knowledge that neither bomb, nor terrorist, “nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

No matter what happens along the way, no matter what our enemies try to do to stop us, we must “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). For those who remain faithful despite all challenges, there is a “crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).