Don’t be a part of the Blame Game

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”—Galatians 6:2 (NIV).

dietdetective.com 

Anger. Disbelief. Grief. Finger pointing. All responses to the February 14 shooting rampage at a Florida high school. Some reports say it’s the 18th incident of gunfire at a school campus since the beginning of 2018. Regardless of the numbers, this week’s column is meant to convict our hearts, including mine.

At this writing, 17 were killed in the rampage and another 13 were injured. Questions abound. Responses reported in and by the media, both traditional and socially, call for more gun control, more assistance for the mentally disturbed and higher levels of school security.

For 30 years, I was a public educator. Beginning my career in 1975, I was naïve enough to believe I could make a difference in all of my students’ lives. Years later, I had a reality check. I couldn’t save everyone; I couldn’t meet every need. Still, I knew I should and could do what I could.

A 19-year-old has confessed to the most recent shooting rampage. News reports paint a picture of a disturbed young man. One of his former teachers said he was a quiet student, a loner. The students familiar with Nikolas Cruz were not surprised by his actions. His attorney has called him a “broken human being.”

In Search of the Living Water

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life”—John 4:13-14 (NIV).

desertstream.org

Plucking the gold paper notice from my door knob, I expected to see an advertisement. Instead, it was a notice from the city. To complete some necessary work on our water lines, the city would be shutting off our water for approximately seven hours the following Monday.

Seven hours seemed like a week. I was frustrated at the thought of the inconvenience. So were my neighbors. We prepared, using containers to hold drinking water and filling up our bathtubs, just in case the work lasted longer than expected.

Monday morning dawned. Stumbling into the bathroom to wash my face, I turned on the tap. Nothing happened. I’d forgotten we wouldn’t have water for most of the day.

Although it was an inconvenience, I was convicted by my attitude when I read a newspaper article that morning about the drought in Cape Town, South Africa. The intense drought in Cape Town began in 2015, bringing the community closer and closer to what is called “Day Zero,” which is the point when the water in the reservoirs will no longer provide safe drinking water. The date for the turn off of all water taps to about 3.2 million people in this community is around April 12.

We take for granted the conveniences in our country. Flip a switch and the lights come on. Turn on the tap and water flows. Hook up a water hose and a sprinkler and the results are a green lawn.

Good news: 13-year-old donates toys to hospital

For six years, a 13-year-old Columbus, Ohio, boy has been raising money to buy toys to give away at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This year, Caleb Silvia raised $5,000 to buy 500 toys for those who are hospitalized at Christmas.

Caleb, who founded Caleb Cares 4 Kids, which is an Ohio nonprofit LLC,  knows what it’s like to experience hospital smells and lie in a hospital bed. For Caleb, his fundraising and helping others is personal.

When Caleb was 2-years-old, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Kawasaki Disease and spent time at Nationwide where he recalls the toy cart. Although he’s been free of the disease for years now, he recalls what it’s like to be in the hospital.

At 8 years of age, Caleb decided to donate some toys to the children in the hospital at Christmas. Now, his efforts have grown. Recently, Caleb and his family brought two vans overflowing with toys. They were met at the door by hospital employees who helped load up the carts and distribute the toys.

Says Caleb, “The ability to give back to a place close to my heart … it’s just something I feel passionate about.”

 

Would you give up giving gifts this Christmas?

“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world”— 1 John 2:16 (ESV).

http://theconversation.com

Why all the Christmas stuff? We haven’t had Thanksgiving yet!”

You might expect these words from an adult who has become disenfranchised with the commercialism of Christmas. However, I overhead a boy, approximately 12-years-old, make this statement several weeks before Thanksgiving. I was attending a local charity event where some of the vendors had their booths stuffed with Christmas gifts and décor. While I tend to agree with the youngster, I understand the purpose of these events.

What I don’t like is seeing Christmas merchandise on display in businesses before the calendar reveals it is still September. I understand the “why.” However, I don’t have to like it.

What the polls say

A recent “Atlanta Journal-Constitution” story headline touted the following: “Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say they’d give up gift-giving this holiday season. Would you?”

According to the news article, a recent Harris Poll survey revealed that “69 percent of Americans said they would.”

The online U.S. poll, conducted over a three-day period, included responses from 2, 158 American adults, ages 18 and older, with 1,986 respondents saying they spend money on holiday-related items. However, 43 percent of those polled said “they feel pressured to buy gifts and spend more money than they can afford.”

The poll also revealed that with “the extra time and money saved by eliminating gift-giving, 60 percent of Americans said they’d spend more time with loved ones, 47 percent would save money or invest it, 37 percent would pay down debt and 25 percent said they would use the money on activities with friends and family.”

We are the Hands and Feet of Jesus

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality”—Romans 12:13 (NLT).

https://thebreakthrough.org

Newspaper photos, social media posts and live TV coverage depicted the devastation. Those viewing the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey could only imagine what the Texas victims were experiencing. For those of us who have experienced the aftermath of a hurricane, the reality is familiar.

However, anyone who has either viewed or experienced a disaster like this is familiar with the sacrifices of those who respond to the call for help. As responders poured into the southeastern Texas areas hardest hit, I marveled once again, not only at the sight of trained rescue workers, but the volunteers who leave their jobs, homes and family to provide assistance to those affected by the flooding.

Stories continue to reveal those moments when all hope seemed lost. Then, someone who refused to give up, showed up and answered the call for help.

I listened to TV coverage as victims and rescuers were interviewed. One man, a volunteer rescuer, paraphrased 1 John 3:17, which states, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

We Are One in Christ Jesus

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus”—Galatians 3:28(NLT).

FIU News

The video of the speeding car slamming into a crowd of protesters left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Three died, including two police officers. More than 30 were injured in a Virginia riot on August 12.

Immediately after the event, people took to social media, pointing fingers. Too many, including Christians, began to assign blame for what happened. First, let me say as a former school teacher that pointing your finger doesn’t solve problems. A relevant adage reminds the pointer that three more fingers are pointing back at you. Jesus reminds us of the same.

Matthew 7:5 tells us, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

We’re all to blame if we haven’t followed the teachings of Jesus. If we treat others with contempt, we’re mistreating a person created in God’s image. All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination dishonor the work of Christ on the cross.

What Can Unity Accomplish?

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”—Psalm 133:1(NIV).

unityoffortmyers.org

These people are not drowning today!” This thought entered Jessica Simmons’ mind when she watched as six members of a single family struggled after a powerful riptide had swept them away at a Panama City Beach.

Others had tried to reach the family in trouble, but each previous rescue attempt left more people stranded. A lifeguard was not on duty. A rescue boat had not yet arrived. People began to use boogie boards, surf boards and their arms and legs to attempt a rescue.

When someone shouted, “Form a human chain,” five people volunteered, followed by 10 more. Then dozens more joined as the rescue mission grew increasingly desperate. Simmons and her husband, Derek, swam past the 80 or so human link and headed for the stranded swimmers. The couple managed to reach the children first, passing them via the human chain toward the beach.

Nearly an hour later, through the efforts of the growing human chain, linked together with wrists, legs and arms, the last of the 10 stranded swimmers were rescued. One of the adults rescued said, “It actually showed me there are good people in this world.”

Whether all of the rescuers that day were believers or not, their selfless act should be an example to everyone. Through their unified actions, 10 people are still alive.