Monday, May 28, 2012
What are you willing to die for? For what cause or person would you be willing to sacrifice your life? That's a good question to consider today, because this Memorial Day weekend is set aside to remember those who have died in the Armed Forces of our nation.
What are you willing to die for? You might ask that of Hilbert Schauer who grew up in Kansas during the dust bowl depression. Being from a large family, he saw the hopelessness that came from crop failure, banks closing and dust sifting through the cracks and into the home. It hit his family most terribly when Hilbert's father died from dust pneumonia, leaving a large family behind.
When America was attacked in WWII, Hilbert entered the Army and was commissioned an officer in charge of a company of black soldiers. Though he'd hardly even seen a black man before the war, he was now ranking officer in a company of them.
And hardest of all, their task was munitions disposal. His company was there to get rid of unexploded bombs, shells, grenades and anything else that blew up. Many in his company including some officers, died in the course of their duties, but Hilbert made it through the war okay.
He became a lawyer and then was appointed a district court judge, and eventually even a judge in the Colorado Supreme Court where he served many years until he retired. I am certain his response to the question, "What are you willing to die for?" would have included a variety of answers. Hilbert is a fine Christian man and a fellow member of my church. He helped to establish three Lutheran congregations in the Parker, CO, area.
Maybe another question we might ask is, "What was Jesus willing to die for?" Would the people He died for be the good people, the noble, the well educated or the wealthy? Or would He also be willing to die for the poor, the sick and the sinners?
We know that answer to that one. Jesus died for us all, the rich or the poor, the wise and the wise guys, the good guys and the bad guys. Jesus was willing to die for them all. And that includes you and me!
That ought to make our Memorial Day a little brighter.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
It was 8 AM as the young man stood next to a trash bin at a train station playing a violin. Dressed in jeans, T-shirt and baseball cap, for the next 45 minutes he expertly played six classical pieces as 1,100 people passed him by on their way to work one morning in Washington, DC.
Of all who passed by, only six people stopped to listen for more than a moment, and they were mostly children whose parents forced them to move on. Only one man stood and listened for several minutes.
No one knew that the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro station was Joshua Bell, one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on a near-priceless violin once owned by virtuoso Fritz Kreisler. Just two days before this, Bell had sold out a Boston theater at $100 a seat. That day a few folks tossed change into his violin case and kept moving.
This true story happened in 2007 as an experiment by a local newspaper. Joshua Bell, 44, is now the musical director of St. Martin In The Fields of London. He played the finest violin music by Bach, Brahms and Max Bruch on his 1713 Gibson ex Huberman Stradivarius violin for which he paid nearly $4 million. And almost no one stopped to listen.
In such an ordinary setting at an inconvenient time, would you have noticed the beauty you had heard? I am ashamed to say I probably would have kept walking also.
If we do not have even a moment to hear one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written on the finest musical instrument ever made, how many other excellent things are we missing in life?
"Sing a new song. Shout and play beautiful music." (Psalm 33:3)
Monday, May 14, 2012
Just before returning from Arizona, Carol and I drove out into the desert to see the giant Saguaro cacti in bloom. Native only to the Sonora Desert, the Saguaro is the largest of all cacti, growing up to 50 feet high, weighing up to two tons, and living 150-200 years. It can only start to grow from seed, unlike most other cacti which can take root from parts just stuck in the ground.
The Saguaro uses desert moisture wisely and thrives where others will perish. Its large white blossoms open on top of the cactus arms, and when pollinated become juicy red fruit for birds and animals. They can also be prepared in special dishes by the Tohono O'odham (People of the Desert), a native American tribe of the Sonora.
A few years ago, the Desert People built a casino in Maricopa. Their relatives, the Akimel O'odham (People of the River), built a casino just south of Phoenix. I recently wrote of how some things are not what they seem, which is especially true of a casino. People go in thinking they will be winners, but they end up losers. It is a rare casino visitor who comes away winning more than was spent. Most stay until all their gambling money is gone.
Some will say, "No problem - it's just a for fun."" I personally believe life would be better without casinos. Yet, if you enjoy gambling for fun, go ahead - it's your choice. But if you think you will come out a winner, think again.
St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, "All things may be lawful, but not all things are helpful, and not all lawful things build you up."(paraphrased). Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should. Legal or lawful actions still need right motives and purposes.
All our blessings come from God, and He wants us to be good stewards. A good steward works hard to earn a living, investing wisely, and using what has been given to help others in the best way.
May God move us all to be good stewards of what we've been given.
Monday, May 7, 2012
There is a story told of a nobleman who went hunting with his Christian servant who had been witnessing to him by telling him of the goodness of God's plans. During the hunt, the nobleman was attacked by an animal and lost a finger from his hand. He angrily told his servant, "If God is good, I would not have lost my finger." The servant replied, "Despite this, sire, I can only tell you God is good. He knows why this has happened to you." In a fit of anger, the nobleman had his servant imprisoned.
Awhile later the nobleman went hunting again and this time was captured by pagans who practiced human sacrifice. Just before being offered on a pagan altar, it was noticed the nobleman was missing a finger, so he was let go. He did not meet their religious requirement that a human sacrifice must be sound of limb and body.
Upon return to his escape and return to his castle, the nobleman had his servant released and told him, "Your God is good, for I was spared." He then added, "But why did He allow you to be put in prison for a year?" The servant replied, "Sire, if I had not been in prison, I would have gone with you, and I would have been sacrificed, for have all my fingers!"
You and I may complain about our life and the negative things that happen to us. But we must remember that nothing is random for those who believe and trust in Jesus. Everything has a purpose, so every morning, offer your day to God. Ask Him to guide your actions, inspire your thoughts and ease your negative feelings.
St. Paul tells us in Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Do not be afraid, for God is never wrong!