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Apr 28, 2011

The Antidote to Suicide

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What do you do when your guilt is too heavy to bear, your soul is so miserable you can find no relief, you are embarrassed to face your friends and family, and you believe there is no forgiveness or solution to be found? Many today commit suicide. Surprisingly, young people in the prime of their life lead the growing numbers of suicide perpetrators. What is the antidote to suicide?
Of the disciples who survived, none betrayed the Lord worse than Peter. And he knew it. At the moment of Peter’s third denial, Jesus looked at him, their eyes met, and the cock crowed. He who had vehemently protested the Lord’s prediction that he of all people would deny Him not once, but three times before that tell-tale sign announcing the dawn, was pierced to the heart of his soul, and went out into a sudden, dark loneliness to weep bitterly.
All the disciples were living in fear, confusion, apprehension, and were like sheep without a shepherd ever since the crucifixion. Twice the risen Lord suddenly appeared to them as they hid behind locked doors in Jerusalem. But in this text of John 21 they had left Jerusalem, probably surreptitiously, for Galilee where Jesus had already told the women the disciples would see him. The setting could not be more vastly different than the city of “peace, Jerusalem, which had become for them the very opposite in the space of a few horrendous days.
Here the peace and tranquility beside the Sea of Galilee, with the water as smooth as glass as it often will be at the breaking of dawn and the Galilean hills as a backdrop to the beauty, could not be more of a contrast to the turmoil these seven disciples were feeling inside. And add to that the irritation of catching nothing in a whole night of fishing, though fishing was but an abstraction for them then as they dealt with all the unknowns of the previous days. Perhaps it was the aroma of fish cooking on a charcoal fire that first got their attention. In any case they saw a figure on the beach by the fire, who in the early light of dawn called out to them to put down their nets on the other side of the boat. Doing so they immediately pulled in a huge catch of fish; so large, they counted each one to see just how large a catch it really was: 153 John purposefully and precisely tells us.
As they share breakfast with Jesus around a fire on the beach, the same type of charcoal fire with which Peter warmed himself at the time of his last two denials, Jesus asks Peter three times a similar question, “Peter, do you love me more than these. In Luke Jesus had once taught, “the one who is forgiven little, loves little. Here, he is telling Peter a corollary to this truth, “the one who is forgiven much, loves much! The depth of our affection for Christ is inseparably related to the depth of our understanding of that which we have been forgiven. Peter could not have missed the Savior’s point. Having transgressed so deeply with an understanding of his felt “bottomless pit, he now experienced and understood the depth of grace that drew him out. It was far more than mere words that responded, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. There is no pit so deep that it warrants suicide, when there is a Savior capable of drawing us out, and placing our feet on solid ground. Christ in you is the hope of glory, not suicide, nor despair.
And no response or assurance of your forgiveness can be more richly healing and fulfilling going forward than the Lord’s spoken mission for every forgiven sinner: “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep. Every once miserable soul, forgiven and covered with the blood of Christ, has lambs and sheep to feed; at home, at work, by the way, over the back fence, wherever you live, work and converse. Get your mind off yourself and your own ills. Get your mind and heart on Christ, and begin feeding His lambs and His sheep. The antidote to suicide can only be one thing, one person…Jesus.


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Apr 28, 2011

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds

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A national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation — Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds
Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of seven hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week), compared with less than six and a half hours just five years ago — a conclusion that shocked the authors. And because they spend so much of that time “media multitasking” — for example, surfing the Internet while listening to music — they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those seven and one-half hours.
“This is a stunner,” said Donald F. Roberts, a Stanford communications professor emeritus, one of the authors of the study. “In the second report, I remember writing a paragraph saying we’ve hit a ceiling on media use, since there just aren’t enough hours in the day to increase the time children spend on media. But now it’s up an hour.”
The heaviest media users, the study found, are black and Hispanic youths and “tweens,” or those ages 11 to 14.
While most of the young people in the study got good grades, 47 percent of the heaviest media users — those who consumed at least 16 hours a day — had mostly C’s or lower, compared with 23 percent of those who typically consumed media three hours a day or less. The heaviest media users were also more likely than the lightest users to report that they were bored or sad, or that they got into trouble, did not get along well with their parents and were not happy at school. But, the study could not say whether the media use causes problems, or whether troubled youth turn to heavy media use.
[Study Results :: Kaiser Family Foundation]


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Apr 21, 2011

Good Friday Is Good!

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The day the Iraq War began in March 2003 I arrived at my parent’s home in Colorado about 7 pm. They had expected me a day earlier, but one of the biggest snow storms to ever hit the state had snowed-in the conference center not far from them where I had been one of the speakers. The snow was so deep and heavy that a large snow plow had broken an axle trying to clear the roads coming in our direction, and my rental car had to be dug out from under 8 feet of snow. My parents were glad to finally see me, and I them; but the three hours of warm conversation was the last I was to have with my mother this side of heaven. After going to bed around 10 she suffered a massive brain hemorrhage soon after and slipped into a coma from which she never wakened. She was an unusual and godly woman, with a magnificent love for people. As we talked and watched the accounts of the beginning of the war on TV, my father and I suddenly noticed that my mother was in tears. We quickly found out she was crying for the wives, children, mothers and fathers of a large helicopter filled with British and American soldiers that had crashed with no survivors. My father and I were so engrossed in conversation that the chilling words reporting their deaths did not register with us until we saw my mother’s tears and emotional sorrow.
Every day of our lives tragic deaths take place around the world. Heinous injustices are perpetrated by others upon men, women, and children. Truth is dishonored. Values are scorned. Human beings are ravaged and their blood and dignity are trampled in the streets. And in most instances we do not weep. We only are aware of a miniscule amount of personal suffering in the world. The pain of loved ones and friends and acquaintances often move us to tears, but even then, not always. We are removed from personal pain and sorrow by lack of knowledge, distant impersonal connection, and callused emotions that have seen and experienced too much for every occasion of grief to bring tears. When personal grief does assail us closer to home and the subsequent tears seem unending, time eventually salves the wound while increasing the distance between the moments of memory and the consequent sobbing. Life moves on, even though something is missing, and is not yet restored.
As finite human beings we are incapable of bearing the world’s pain and sorrow. We can hardly take care of our own. The cruel severity of the world must impact any sensitive soul when considering that many suffer completely alone with no one to hear or share their tears or hear their cry for justice. And if there really was no one infinitely capable of this, someone with whom we could relate and know personally, life must seem not worth living, and we truly would be wretched, poor, miserable creatures without hope in life or in death.
But this is why Good Friday is Good! There is One who has borne our sorrows and carried our grief when no one else could. Not only are our personal iniquities laid on His back, but He bears the sins of the world on the cross; the people places neither we nor others could reach, or “fix ourselves. The lonely cry in the darkness does not go unheard. The call for justice does not fall on deaf ears. We cannot know, we will not know, until we reach the other shore, what transpires between the lonely soul and the heart of the God-man, Jesus, who died in our place; in the critical moment we do not see, yet He sees. The powerless victim will be avenged. Like the thief on the cross who never had another opportunity to ask forgiveness of those he abused, robbed or killed, yet saw his hardened heart suddenly become tender in the brief moments before dying within feet of his Redeemer. The other faced his Maker with a scorn he carried to his last breath. But He tells us about both that we might come to Good Friday with a heart like one and not the other; that of the thief who entered Paradise with Him from the cross; humble, broken, repentant, thankful, and hopeful of his future even in the midst of his dire situation.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. Not just a common-religious-holiday-name, that lights no “spark in your soul, because you’ve “been there, done that. Real faith is not like that. It works Good in you as you prayerfully contemplate what a dying Savior gives to your life, and all that a dying Savior gives to the world. Jesus died! It is a Good thing. He lives, and so shall we.


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Apr 20, 2011

Is Your Child Abusing Technology?

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Child Abusing Technology

Warning signs that your child may be abusing technology:

  1. Suddenly turning off the phone, computer, or gaming device when you enter the room.
  2. If you have access to their Facebook account or share an e-mail address and notice a decrease in activity or fewer e-mails – this could mean they have set up another account.
  3. Lying about their internet activity, Facebook friends or suspicious posts or pictures.
  4. Usage of computers, gaming devices, or cell phones seems excessive. So instead of technology being a small part of their life, it becomes a time consuming highly valued and prominent aspect of their life which interferes with school, family and other healthy social activities
  5. They are no longer willing to share a password with you or change a password they previously shared.
  6. Internet history and or “cookies are regularly deleted.
  7. Highly defensive or annoyed when you inquire about their internet activity or use of their phone or gaming device.
  8. Secrecy about what they are doing on the computer, gaming device, or phone.
  9. Usage of computers, gaming devices, or cell phones at night or after bedtime.
  10. Unusual amounts of pop-ups begin to appear on the computer that your child is using.

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Apr 14, 2011

The Malcus’ Ear Malady

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The title is a mouthful and hopefully intriguing: The Malacus’ Ear Malady. The text is from the Gospel of John account of the night in the Garden of Gethsemane at the moment Jesus is arrested. The next day, Good Friday, He was crucified just outside the city walls of Jerusalem on Mt. Golgotha. John is the only gospel writer who names Peter as the disciple who drew his sword and nearly killed the servant of the high priest. John is also the only eyewitness who tells us the name of that wounded servant: Malchus. A malady is by definition “an unwholesome or disordered state or condition (i.e., some deep malady of the soul). What I have labeled the Malchus’ Ear Malady is modeled here by Peter, yet it is a malady that infects us all.
Immediately prior to this large contingent of a detachment of Roman soldiers and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees arriving in the Garden with the mission of arresting Jesus, Peter was one of three disciples especially singled out by the Lord to participate in a critical moment in history. Matthew records that after Jesus asked His disciples excepting the three to wait for Him while He went further on to pray, He asked Peter, James and John to come with Him and to “Stay here and watch with Me. (Matthew 26:36f) Within a short time Jesus found the exhausted three sleeping, but it is Peter (Matthew records) whom He chooses to address; “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. This happens two more times! When Jesus awakens them the third time, the crowd sent to arrest Him led by Judas enters the Garden. Peter, now very much “alert, or so it seems, as they lay hands on Jesus to bind Him, impetuously draws his sword and with a swing to the head of the nearest man obviously intends a lethal blow. Fortunately, only the ear is nearly severed, and Jesus restores peace with the healing touch of His hand.
Within hours, the sleeping Peter, and the impetuous defender, is denying His Lord as he stands “alone among hostile and indifferent bystanders and observers. Note the “roller-coaster of temperament and emotions. Peter was, within the space of a brief time, too dull to recognize the spiritual import of the moment, next too impetuous in his defense to think and act Christianly, and finally, removed from the strengthening company of the disciples and Jesus, he is too fearful of what others might think to identify with his Lord. I think Peter exemplifies a malady which infects us all. At times we are too dull spiritually to recognize what Jesus is doing in our midst. At other times we are too impetuous and overbearing in “defending the Lord and the Gospel that we forget to think and act as Christ would (or are even cognizant of His revealed character and behavior), and, finally, when we are “standing alone in the world we become too weak and fearful to identify with Christ and His Word, that those among whom we move, work, and live always know who we truly are in Christ.
This is definitely a malady that needs healing. Peter overcame it, coming out of his crucible refined for leadership in the early church. I do not know what happened to Malchus, but I know what happened to Peter! As you approach Holy Week, in public worship, in private meditation, confession, and prayer, and in rubbing shoulders with the world, give some thought to the Malchus’ Ear Malady in you. There is healing in the cross for all our ills. Direct the eyes of your broken heart there, and never stray far from the cross in any aspect of your life as you “fight the good fight and “lay hold of eternal life.


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Apr 07, 2011

Push-over or Push-through Faith?

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The encounter that Jesus had with a Canaanite woman whom He initially rebuffed will tell you something about your own faith; is it push-over or push-through faith? The question is critical if you are genuinely intent on taking Jesus at His word concerning the kingdom of heaven and your entrance into it. This obviously distraught woman pursued Jesus for the healing of her demon-possessed daughter. Her persistence was so intense that even the disciples could not turn her away. Finally they did not know what else to do but appeal directly to Jesus to get rid of her; yet to this point He had ignored her with silence. His next response was worse than silence; He said to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, which clearly excluded her and her sick child. Now falling on her knees before Jesus, the mother cried out, “Lord, help me. The next words from His mouth could not be harsher in our ears, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.
I can imagine the response of many people today to such deeply cutting words, can’t you? I have heard most of such responses all my life: “I tried Jesus and it doesn’t work; “I tried to speak to Him and all I ever got was silence; “That blankety-blank can’t be the only way to heaven; “He never did a thing for me; “Other stuff works better for me than Jesus and the Bible ever did; and you can add your own, ad nauseum.
The woman’s response to Jesus’ hard words is priceless. It characterized the nature of this woman’s push-through, all-out faith, humble but indefatigable. She simply would not be denied, but neither would she become self-defensive, thinking she deserved more. “Yes, Lord, she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table. Jesus’ whole tone changed, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted. And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew 15:21-28)
The faith of Jesus’ mother was of this very sort. At the wedding of Cana when the wine ran out, Mary said to Jesus, “They have no more wine. In other words, Mary was saying, I know you can fix this problem. Jesus told her, “Woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come. Mary’s push-through faith simply responded this way; she immediately turned and spoke to the servants standing nearby, “Do whatever He tells you, and walked away. Mary knew who her son was, and her faith said as much.
Push-over faith is no faith at all. We have no business approving of it in others’ lives, much less our own. Yet we do and still wonder why so many are spiritually dropping like flies while the kingdom of heaven is forcefully advancing against fierce opposition. The Canaanite woman and Mary were examples of what Jesus meant by “forceful men who lay hold of that heavenly kingdom. Their faith would not be deterred. For them it was Jesus and His word or nothing. It is the only kind of faith that will cut it in the world. In reality this is what faith is. I don’t know what you call the other; whatever one chooses to call it, it’s not faith. “And [yet] without faith [whatever else you do], it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)


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Apr 05, 2011

Five things that parents need to know about their teenage children

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Advise from teens to parents…

  1. The internet has more on it than you can begin to imagine. You can go to websites and learn how to make drugs from everyday items, their effects, danger, etc…to the chemical makeup of LSD or how to make Crystal Meth.
  2. Don’t underestimate a child’s power to deceive. The more they deceive the better they become at deception. Practice paying attention to your child when they’re younger and it won’t seem so strange to them when they are older.
  3. Don’t be in denial about your children and do not think that your child would not do what others do.
  4. Bailing your child out does not help them one bit. Actually, it hurts more than you can ever know. Most kids know this already…they just don’t care because they have already learned that there are no real consequences. Telling them that it’s going to be all right doesn’t help either. They need you (parents) to hold them accountable for their actions.
  5. Sex is happening all the time. You have to know what your kid is doing at your house and what they are doing at other people’s houses. Most things will happen at your house if there is already a history of doing it there. Kids get comfortable with a routine and the only way to find out what is going on is to disrupt that routine randomly. This doesn’t just apply to sex…it is for everything.

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