Elephants and Rhinos and Fatherless Boys

Elephant portrait

If you can spare about fourteen minutes, watch this documentary. It will make you think. It’s about elephants and rhinos, but it’s about something else, too. It’s an illustration of, if not a scientific parallel to what’s happened in our culture. It really needs no commentary, but maybe this injunction from the Holy Spirit fits, at least for our human species: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

The video is found at the bottom of the following article: https://www.kotafoundation.org/the-delinquents-in-pilanesberg/

 

 

Sister to Sister: Black Lives Matter…There’s No Band-Aid

498484120_1280x720The irony of the Black Lives Matter movement lies in its consistent insistence to assign motives to policemen prior to any process of investigation. While it’s clearly wrong for a policeman to assume, without evidence, that a person of color is a criminal and to act on that assumption, it’s surely the same leap for people of color to assume that a policeman who is making a traffic stop is pulling a person over because he is black and not because he is violating a traffic ordinance.

A young black girl got into the car of a friend of mine recently. This friend has gone out of her way on multiple occasions to transport this young girl, whose family is unwilling or unable to provide transportation for her. The conversation, on this particular day, turned to law enforcement  officers. The young girl commented “I don’t like cops. They don’t like us. They just want to hurt my people, just because we’re black.”

Now the girl is just a young teen. She was, very likely, just spewing forth what she’d heard others say. Surely she didn’t realize, though, that she was saying it to the mother of a young man who puts on that uniform every morning and works diligently all day to protect the people of her city—to protect her. She didn’t know she was profiling. And there’s lot of profiling going on in the BLM movement.

The reason all human lives matter is because all souls matter for all of eternity. God is the soul-giver and He doesn’t make souls in colors or with bank accounts. When we come to understand that in each hoodie and in each uniform is a soul that will live in eternity in heaven or hell, we’re gaining ground toward peace; not because some aura of compassion comes over us when we attach a spiritual connotation to the people around us, but, rather, because when God is recognized as the Creator and Soul-giver, recognition of and respect for His inherent authority necessarily follows. His Word is the prescription for peace in our land. It both ordains and controls law enforcement agencies (Romans 13) and it instructs the citizenry in living with respect and deference to fellowmen. When we remove that Word from our society and make a mockery, on so many levels, of its precepts and authority, surely we should not be surprised when chaos ensues.

Are there thinking people who truly believe life’s better in America now that we’ve divorced ourselves from a national respect for the Word of God? Give me respect for the Word in our land any day and take me back to an era where children could safely ride their bikes all over their communities, where babies were safe in the wombs of their mothers, where fathers worked hard to provide for their families and mothers nurtured children in loving homes. Bring repentance to the hearts of those who have prejudice and malice, and a strong desire in the hearts of God’s people to bring souls to the Cross. The ground is level at the foot of the Cross. But the cross is not an invitation to a free-for-all. It’s for all, but it’s not free. The Cross is not a compromise with sin. It’s an ultimatum.

The men in blue are clearly a part of the Biblical  system of authority found in God’s Word. Christians in the first century church were called on to respect and obey civil authority even though their Roman government was oppressive and persecuted Christians. But when we estrange our government and our citizenry from the One who is at the top of the chain of command, all the links are weakened and governmental systems fail. The reason we can’t find the band-aid to put on the violence that’s erupting around our nation is because it’s really hard to find a band-aid when internal bleeding is quickly draining life away. Our nation, without any respect for truth and righteousness, is under cardiac arrest.

Sister to Sister: I’m all out of “Nice”.

 
nice-cup-of-tea-and-a-biscuits_M156zYu__LI was in a coffee shop the other day, trying to get some work done while waiting for my husband, when a group of thirty-something and forty-something women came in. They congregated and visited near my table. I wasn’t getting much work done, but they were loud, so I got a lot of eavesdropping done. I overheard one of them say this:
“So I’m just about done. I mean yesterday was the worst day at work and I was SO nice to customers all day. ‘How can I help you?’…’I’m so sorry you’re having difficulty.’…’Here, let me help you with that.’… I mean, by the time I got home, I was all out of ‘nice’. My husband started in about one of his little issues and I just said ‘You better just go to bed because I am fresh out of nice. My nice is just all used up.'”
I hope we never run out of nice, as God’s women. This woman’s perspective surely was not a holy one born of a meek and quiet spirit (I Peter 3:1-5).  Her spirit, rather, was one completely divorced from and opposite of kind and long-suffering toward her husband. She really had used up her nice in a context of earning a paycheck and, at the end of the long hard day, she had nothing left for the one who should be the most important person in her world.
I hope we are different as Christians. As God’s woman, I should see my home as my first responsibility; the place that gets the very best of me–not the leftovers. I want my husband to get the best of my nice–not merely because he could demand it, but simply because he’s my husband and I love him (Titus 2:3-5) and because my God has demanded that of me. Even should my husband be having a bad day or, as is the case with some sweet sisters I know who are married to non-believers, even if he’s having a bad life, my commitment is to God to give my husband my respect (Ephesians 5:33).
Where is your nice going when you really think about it?  Maybe you have enough nice to go around. But if you are using it up outside of your house and life with your husband and/or children is suffering as a result, priorities need to be rearranged and adjustments made. This woman at the coffee shop was truly very nice to her friends as she sipped her latte . She had time for them. One or two of them asked her questions and she responded with a smile. It made me wonder if she was going to use it all up again that day before she got home to the one that God has made to be her head (Ephesians 5:23), the one she is to be loving with phileo–friendship love (Titus 2:3-5).
 Surely the hearts of His daughters are refillable. Nice is a commodity that we restore over and over again when we continue to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness and goodness is the natural harvest of a life lived in Jesus (Galatians 5:23)…a life transformed by the Word and from  the world by a renewed mind (Romans 12:2). But if you constantly find yourself struggling to be nice where it consequentially matters most, then contemplate and eliminate, reflect and deflect, consider life carefully and change it prayerfully, trust and adjust. Get your nice on!
A woman can tear down her house with her own hands (Proverbs 14:1). Maybe some of us are building relationships at the coffee shop, the office and even in the church building, while destroying the most important one. If that’s you, let me encourage you to stop right where you are and vow to do whatever it takes to bring nice home to your most important earthly relationship.

The Hoary Head

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how elderly people are treated in our society. I guess it’s the fact that I accompanied my dad on much of a three-week rehab stay that was housed in a wing of a healthcare center. A healthcare center is what we used to call a nursing home. Some of the things I saw there made me very sad. There were some of the patients in the home who never had visitors. There were some whose children came by once a week on their way to the restaurant on Saturday mornings. There were some residents who waited for long periods for someone to come and clean soiled bed linens and there were others who just sat in front of the daytime television (and you know that can’t be wholesome) for hours-on-end each day. There were friendly people to provide bingo and ice cream day and “exercise,” but, unless the resident actually had a family advocate, the opportunities for interaction with people and fun activities were pretty limited. It almost made me feel bad that my dad was inundated with visitors, had 100 plus cards on the wall and more interaction with family than he probably ever wanted.

Lots of lessons come to mind. I’m really glad that I have a family advocate, an older Brother who goes before the Supreme Caregiver in my behalf with my every need. It’s also obvious that the sick people who had constant interaction with well people got lots better, lots faster than those who were on their own. This, of course, is true of spiritually sick people. We just get lots better when we spend time with those who are spiritually mature (Gal 6:1).

But the main thing I’m learning, as I observe elderly people more, is that we, as a society do not always adequately honor the elderly among us. I certainly am guilty of this. Sometimes we fail to apply the golden rule in their treatment. Sometimes we are just so busy that it’s easier for us to place our elderly loved ones in the care of others, who are unrelated to them and can’t possibly care for them in the same way as loving family members can. (I realize that sometimes it’s impossible for families to provide thorough and adequate care.) Sometimes we get frustrated with their slowness of mind or body and sometimes we avoid them because they can’t hear or understand us well. Sometimes, we are self-centered.

Also symptomatic of the growing lack of respect in society are the common financial predators who target those who are elderly and live alone. My father is just one elderly man, but the abuses that have come his way in recent years have been multiple. Like the man who kept coming back to cut trees for my dad for pay. His scam was to call my dad pretending he was the power company and inform Dad that he needed to cut back some trees so that they would be safely out of the area of power lines. The trees in question were nowhere near a road and could not have even been seen by those passing the property. Then the man would come out and ask Dad if the power company had called to ask him to have some trees cut. Sure enough, when we checked with the power company, they had not and do not call to inform people of trees that need to be cut. We now believe this man also poisoned a huge tree and later come back to see if he could cut and remove the dead branches. It was a perfectly healthy oak tree until just before this man made his first appearance at Dad’s to ask if he wanted him to cut this tree– a tree that was completely hidden from the road. One day after being paid by my dad for cutting some branches, this man sat down on a chair on my dad’s porch. The chair broke and the man immediately began to talk about the extreme pain in his leg. He hopped away and then began to call and say he was going to have to have money for a doctor to x-ray that leg that was “just killing” him. But as soon as Dad tried to get his name and information so he could file the incident on his homeowner’s insurance, the man said he would just “give it a little time and see if it get’s better.” We never knew the man’s name.

Then there was the woman who kept coming to my dad’s door in dire need of money to help with her car repairs. The thing is, I’m not sure she even owned a car. She “borrowed” a little money and battery jumper cables and incessantly called to ask for a little more and a little more. She called my dad by his first name and acted as if they were old friends when she first came, though none of us had a clue who she was. When we tried to trace subsequent calls and identify her, we found that the calls were from a pay phone at a Shell station.

The most recent scam was a man who called claiming to be my brother, Dad’s son. He said he was sick and had incurred medical expenses and really needed two hundred-fifteen dollars. Dad kept hanging up the phone because it just did not sound like my brother’s voice. The man just continued to call back and explained, “I don’t sound like myself because I have had a really bad case of laryngitis. But if you can please let me borrow the money I can have somebody come by and pick it up for me.” Thankfully, Daddy did not fall for this despicable lie. Although I had already spoken to my brother that same day, we quickly called him again to ascertain that he was still well. I later called the police to report this persistent caller and found that Dad was the fifth one in that small rural police district who had experienced this same ploy in recent days. Three of the elderly victims had refused to believe the caller. One had, unfortunately, placed the money in her mailbox to be delivered to her “ailing son” in Florida.

A scam artist, of any stripe, must lead a miserable life. Surely he must be driven by tragic addictions to stoop to dealing in deception for profit. But how can anyone do it to those who can remember a time in our country and whose levels of trust were formed in an America in which all the people in a given rural community knew and trusted one another? How can they get their hearts’ permission to do it to those who are on fixed and very limited incomes? How can they do it to those who have spent their lives working hard to provide for their families, given back to their churches and communities and, in many cases, spent portions of their lives in military service to insure the freedoms that the con artists are enjoying? It’s just scraping the bottom of the barrel, morally speaking.

God has no patience with those who would take advantage of the elderly. Hear his command to israel In Leviticus 19:32:

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.

…And again, from the Proverbs:

The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness (16:11).

…And then there’s the somewhat puzzling, but emphatic punishment of the children who made fun of the bald-headed Elisha in II Kings two.

Rehoboam failed to listen and learn from the older men in I Kings 12. Jacob took advantage of his aged father’s failing eyesight in Genesis 27. The sons of Jacob, in turn, tricked him when he was old (Genesis 37). The sons of Belial (Benjamites) took advantage of the old hospitable man and his guest in Judges 19. Eli’s sons disrespected him when he was old (I Samuel 2) and Samuel’s sons did the same in First Samuel 8. Even the aging apostle Paul was forsaken by many who should have stood with him (II Timothy 4). None of these situations turned out well for those who spurned, forsook or abused the elderly people of God.

As much as I would hate to be an elderly person and be abused by a young person devoid of conscience, I’d rather be the abused than the abuser. What a miserable life in the here-and-now and what a fearful thing to face God in the judgment having mistreated the hoary-headed saint!