Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Week

Holy Week seems like a misnomer to me.  That's what we call this week leading up to the day that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus but the circumstances of His crucifixion and death are anything but holy.

Anguish, betrayal, arrest, a sham trial, false accusations, false testimony, denied by one of His three closest friends, a violent beating and an even more violent death  . . . somehow the word holy is not the first word that jumps to mind for me.

holy ()
adjective holier -·lier, holiest -·li·est
  1. belonging to or coming from God; consecrated; sacred
  2. spiritually perfect or pure; untainted by evil or sin; sinless; saintly
  3. regarded with or deserving deep respect, awe, reverence, or adoration

However, when I look at the definition of the word, it becomes a little clearer to me why we call this Holy Week.  It's not what happened to Jesus that was holy, it was Him who was holy.  Not what they (and we) did to Him but what He did for us.  

"Belonging to or coming from God, consecrated, sacred, spiritually perfect, pure, sinless, saintly, regarded with or deserving of deep respect, awe, reverence or adoration."  When I apply these definitions to what Jesus did in His final week on Earth, I guess it really is a Holy Week, after all. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Hope Center is a good start

I'm starting to feel my age.  Now that I have a little mileage on me, I seem to have minor breakdowns more often and I've been down with a chest cold or something for the last few days.

This has me thinking about how grateful I am to have access to good medical care.  I can visit a pharmacy within just a few blocks of my house and pick-up some over-the-counter medicine to help me through minor illnesses such as this one.  I can see a physician, if necessary and all of this is a blessing that I often take for granted.  The reality is that an enormous number of people don't share these same advantage with me.  There are people right here in my community who can't afford even the over-the-counter medicines that I have been taking the past few days, who can't afford health insurance, and who just "tough it out" when they are sick.

I'm thankful for facilities like the new Hope Center at Church on the Eastern Shore that had their grand opening last week.  They're already providing limited service to uninsured and low income people in our community and have plans to expand services over time.  Staffed primarily with volunteers, they are already providing minor dental care, medical care and counseling services, with plans to further expand those services as more volunteers come forward to help.

The Hope Center will not solve all of the health care shortages in this community but it's a good start and I'm thankful for their leadership in making this investment.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pardon the break

Sorry for the break from blogging this week but I should be back by Monday.

I've been a bit under-the-weather but I'm on the mend now and am catching-up on my "to do" list.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Texting while driving

I used to be annoyed by drivers who were talking on their phones and not paying attention to their driving but now I realize that those were the "good old days"! I'd take back every bad thing I've ever said about those people talking on their cell phones while driving if they would just stop texting while driving.  Where this cartoon falls short of explaining the potential consequences of this is that it may very well result in the untimely death or injury of others who are also on the road.  

Kill yourself by distracted driving if you must, but do you have a right to kill or injure others in the process?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thirty-five days and counting

Zack & Laura
Our son, Zack and his fiance, Laura Cassels are in town for the weekend with just 5 weeks to go before their wedding.  Every visit seems to have too many items on the agenda but as I write this  Laura is watching a chick-flick with Julia in the den and Zack is lying on the couch here in the living room with me and reading a book.  It's nice to have some quiet time amidst the busyness. 

We've talked a bit about the upcoming wedding, sampled a couple of different cakes that are under consideration for the groom's cake, and looked at the engagement pictures that they had taken last weekend.  They made quick visits to the two grandparents on Friday and had lunch and breakfast with friends today.  All of that is important but we also make time to just sit and talk about nothing in particular, too and I think that's the real value of these times together.

How do you like to spend time with your family?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The power of "being there"

In preparation for my small group Bible study tonight, one of the passages of scripture I was reading was Job 2:11-13 and I was reminded of the power of simply being there for another person.  So many times in our lives we are faced with a situation where someone we care about is suffering and we just don't know what we can do to help them. 
  • Mark's wife left him
  • Mike's father is in hospice care and at the end of his life
  • Sarah's cancer has returned
  • Julia suffers a miscarriage
  • Michelle's grandmother dies unexpectedly
What can I do?  How can I help?  I don't have the answers, I can't fix the problem and I'm left feeling inadequate.  Maybe that's the time we look to see what Job's friends did when they learned that he was suffering.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Warning: Butt-Crack Zone Ahead

Butt crack is only cute if you're the Coppertone kid
I was working in my yard today clearing out some of the lush crop of weeds that have sprouted-up virtually overnight in the beds all around my house.  I feel like I need to warn motorist that they are entering a "Butt-Crack Zone" as they drive down my street.  I haven't been able to figure out how to crouch on my knees pulling weeds and avoid contributing to America's "crack" problem.  I don't have a shirt with a tail long enough to keep me completely covered when I'm hunched-over pulling all these weeds and I can't imagine that it's a pretty sight from the back side.  I spent several hours today weeding.  In fact, I have two thirty-gallon garbage cans that I filled three times each with weeds just today!

Here's the bad news:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Saying, "Goodbye" to someone you love

This week, my daughter-in-law, Heather, had to say, "Goodbye" to her grandfather, Walter Hammack, who passed away on Monday.  It's hard to watch a family grieve the loss of someone whom they deeply love even when that family has a firm faith that they will see him again one day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How 'bout teaming up with me?

If you've read much of this blog, you're probably already aware that I have been deeply moved by the the plight of the people of Haiti since the earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince earlier this year.  I'm now making plans to go to Haiti in June with a medical mission team through the Oaks of Righteousness Ministry and am looking for folks to pray for me as I prepare for this trip and while I'm there.  While we won't be serving in Port-au-Prince, we'll be serving in an area north of there where many of the refugees have fled.  This is not a sneaky way to later ask you for financial support, as I have already sent payment in full for that part of the preparation. What I need is to know that people are praying for this team and specifically for me. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Guest post on an author's blog

I recently wrote a review of Karen Zacharias' new book, Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide? ('Cause I Need More Room For My Plasma TV).  I met Karen a few weeks back at Page & Palette, a local bookstore.  We talked about her book and about my experience in the bookstore business.  She invited me to write a guest post on her blog about how I felt about having had a Christian bookstore that closed after 9 years because it couldn't sustain itself financially.  She wanted to know how that stacked-up against the prosperity gospel that she addresses in her book and if I felt betrayed by God? 

Here's that post if you'd like to see my view of that experience.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Does this make sense to you?

I like Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  He seems like a nice guy to me.  Watch this CNN news segment here where he attempts to explain one aspect of the high cost of medical care.

I appreciate his effort to shed some light on the bottom line of health care but just telling me the prices charged for the various products and services doesn't justify those prices to me.  I assume that he was just reporting the facts as he understands them and that he had no other motive in this segment but, for me, he just made a compelling case for both health care reform, insurance reform, and tort reform.

As a family that's self-employed, the cost of health insurance for a couple like us is enormous.  As a marriage and family counselor in private practice, my wife is also a health care provider and a large part of her services is paid by the insurance providers of her clients.  Insurance companies tell providers like my wife what they are going to pay  . . . take it or leave it.  There's no negotiation involved and it's not a percentage of the health care provider's fee but simply a rate that the insurance company establishes on its own. Increasing her rates would not impact what the insurance companies pay for her services.  One reason that her rates are the lowest in the area and have not increased for many years is that the only people adversely affected by rate increases are those without insurance.  Those are the people that pay the full fee and all others pay what their insurance company determines that they will pay.  It's her position that the uninsured are probably the people that can least likely absorb a rate increase, although her cost of providing services have continued to increase. 

There's something wrong in the health care and insurance industries.  The current legislation being negotiated in both houses of Congress may not be the best solution but doing nothing would be even worse, I think.

You probably have some good ideas of what needs to happen.  Let me encourage you to communicate those ideas to your Senators and Representatives so that they can be better informed about what you see as the problem and what you'd like to see as a solution.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who's your hero now?

We hear a lot by Christians in the U.S. about how we are persecuted.  I know that many people here hold us in low esteem but I've never felt like these complaints about persecution were particularly valid.  In fact, it's always sounded like a lot of whining to me.  Relative to the persecution experienced by Christians in other parts of the world, we have nothing to complain about here in the U.S.  After watching this message from Francis Chan about the plight of the Church in India, I have some new heroes in my life.

What about you?  What do you think motivates some American Christians to complain that they are persecuted?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Be prepared . . .

"..Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3:15,16)

I don't know about you, but I do a pretty lousy job of "always being prepared to give the reason for the hope that I have."   Sometimes I'm prepared but there are certainly times that I'm not. 

I wonder why it is that this can be such a challenge for us?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Will Jesus Buy Me a Double Wide? - a book review

Many great books start with a great title and Will Jesus Buy Me A Double-Wide? ('Cause I Need More Room For My Plasma TV) has a great title, if ever there was one! This book was actually sold to the publisher based merely on the title before even a single word of it had been written.  Like many of us, veteran writer Karen Zacharias had heard the "name it and claim it" theology being preached by some popular preachers and evangelists in this country.  As a professional journalist and writer, she also followed the stories of greed characterized by the likes of Bernie Madoff and she began to see that many people had this whole "God and money" thing wrong.  God is not this super "Sugar Daddy" in the sky and the "abundant life" that Jesus promises us is not measured in diamond-encrusted Rolex watches.