Monday, November 27, 2006

Jesus Was On NBC's Today Show!

Did you see him?

Jesus made a surprise appearance this morning on NBC's Today Show!

In the spirit of the holidays, Today Show producers decided to share a video from NBC's Minneapolis affiliate. It was part of a series called "Land of 10,000 Stories," an obvious play on the Minnesota state motto. The piece by KARE-TV's Boyd Huppert is called Art of Compassion and it painted a living portrait of Jesus. Who knew he lived in Utah?

The article hardly does justice to the video segment aired nationally by Today Show. It literally moved me to tears. Here is a woman, moved by compassion for others and her passion for the arts, who is being the earthly representation of an unearthly kind of Love.

If you read or have read the New Testament accounts of Jesus, then you know that he said to look for him in some unlikely places. Well, NBC found him on a farm in rural Utah, loving complete strangers and bringing healing to their inner wounds. I was humbled by the unlikely appearance.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

In everything give thanks...

Today I am thankful for my wife...for her courage, strength, optimism, perseverence and her love.

Our marriage has overcome some mountainous obstacles, not the least of which was a seemingly insurmountable challenge we faced over the last six months. With God's grace, we made it over the summit and are carefully navigating the steep, rocky decent on the other side.

I am thankful that our marriage did not succumb, like so many others, to the perils of infidelity, insecurity, apathy, depression, grief or pride. We fought through as a united front to get to where we are today.

And though our next challenge was self-made, we face it with more courage, excitement and unity than we've ever had in our married life. I am thankful for this next adventurous leg of our journey, and that I have such a willing and competent partner with which to share it. I am doubly thankful for the two blessings we carry on this leg of the journey with us--namely Merikathryn and Makenna. For their sake, as much as ours, I am thankful that God helped us over the summit in September of this year.

Thanksgiving has a whole new meaning this year, like it did in 2001.

Because I have received so bountifully, I want to learn to be a more cheerful and active giver. Generosity has not always come so easy for me, but I am slowly learning. I hope that you, too, have plenty to be thankful for this holiday season. I also hope that you remember the poor and the downtrodden in your community. Don't let this opportunity pass to be a blessing to someone in need. That said, I encourage you with the following:

The Cheerful Giver
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written (in Psalms 112:9):

He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. (2 Corinthians 9: 6-11, NKJV)

Proverbs on Giving
Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed. (Prov. 28:27, NLT)

Blessed are those who are generous,
because they feed the poor. (Prov. 22:9, NLT)

He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker,
But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. (Prov. 14:31, NASV)

Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor
will be ignored in their own time of need. (Prov. 21:13, NLT)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Human Trafficking? C'mon it's Slavery!

Let’s be real and just call a spade a spade, for once. Human trafficking is nothing more than modern-day slavery. The “trafficking” of human life in any era sickens me, whether it is Asian women sold today on the black market as prostitutes or the African male sold years ago as a slave. People are not disposable commodities to be bought and sold or traded for, period.

The fact that this is part of our American heritage saddens me. I hate that I cannot raise my daughters without facing this grotesque reality. Sure, while they are young, I can try to teach them to be colorblind and to treat all people as they would want to be treated, but the sad truth is, we’ll have to cross that bridge one day.

One day, when my daughters are old enough to understand and make rational judgments about such matters, I will have to explain to them what racism is and how it festers like an open wound on the soul of America. When my daughters hear racial slurs at school or one of them is taunted or teased for being 50% African-American, I will have to tell the story of slavery, discrimination and hate that mars our collective, national past.

I hate that.

I want my daughters to believe that all people are created equal like it says in our Declaration of Independence. I never want them to look down on others for reasons of race, religion, gender or nationality. I want them to learn how to love all people no matter how different they are. But in being honest with them, I have to teach them about our history. I have to let them know the events that have shaped our society. I have to let them know about the prejudices that helped to shape our family. Maybe they will learn not only from their parents’ and grandparents’ mistakes, but from the mistakes of our forefathers, as well.

I wish I could teach my girls to be colorblind, but history and society won’t allow it. Maybe their generation will finally put an end to slavery once and for all. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll have the courage to call things as they are, and not hide behind politically correct, yet morally reprehensible terms like “human trafficking.”