Tag Archives: Prevention

Death Where is thou Sting?

Living in the Spirit
November 10, 2017

Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Sunday worship comes naturally to me. My first congregation met in one of the schools located every three miles in rural areas in preparation for homesteaders. Most of these schools serve the dual purpose of being a church. Mine disbanded when I was five, and my family moved to a church in the small town of about 300 people located near our farm—a town about half the same size as Sutherland Springs, Texas.

I attended church on Sunday, November 5, 2017, in a church with a membership larger than my hometown. Returned home after worship to my normal routine of watching the previously recorded Sunday news programs only to hear the news that a man had entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and killed Twenty-some people with others injured. The presumed shooter eventually, apparently killed himself. He had a history of violence and assumed mental disorders. 1 Corinthians 15:55 popped into my head as one woman asked, “Can you feel your heart break?”

‘Where, O death, is your victory?
   Where, O death, is your sting?’

Such senseless death indeed stings those left to grieve in the moment of its occurring, and our hearts go out to all those caught in the pain of such loss. I am emboldened to continue the fight for improved mental health services and not to allow so many to fall through the gaps. Anyone with a traceable history of mental health issues or even violence should also have a traceable treatment history. Most of our nation does not have the services available to treat the most serious chronic mental health problems let alone those flying beneath the radar.

Prayer: Lord, strengthen us in the quest to heal troubled souls and offer new life to those lost in the struggle of mental illness. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Presence of God

Living in the Spirit
October 30, 2017

Scripture Reading: Joshua 3:7-17

The Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, “When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.” ’ Joshua then said to the Israelites, ‘Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.’ Joshua said, ‘By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan. So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.’—Joshua 3:7-13

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.
I can feel His mighty power and His grace.
I can hear the brush of angels wings.
I see glory on each face.
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.*

 I was surprised to see that Lanny Wolfe wrote this song in 1977. I seem to remember singing it all of my life. It is a good song reminding us of whose we are.

We tend to recognize the presence of the Lord in crises and at times of big events like the Israelites crossing into the Promised Land. I think we need to work a little harder at practicing the presence of God in all that we do. I am a strong believer in prevention first. I was a child welfare worker and supervisor. Guiding young people to recognize having children should be a decision, not an accident would be a good starting place. Providing parenting education for all youth as early as junior high would make a difference. Early identification and intervention to help current parents improve their skills would be beneficial.

Most areas of human endeavor could develop a similar listing of ways to prevent bad situations. Joshua prepared the Israelites for the next major step of their journey. He underscored the role of God in each segment of its development. Building and sustaining our relationship with God is the key to living the abundant life God provides for us. Stumbling alone finding our way until we get into trouble rarely turns out well.

Prayer: Lord, be present to us as we make ourselves present to you. Amen.

*Chorus of Surely the Presence by Lanny Wolfe see at https://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Music/Hymns/Presence-of-the-lord.html

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Spiritual Weeding

Living in the Spirit
July 22, 2017

Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ –Matthew 13:24-30

One thing learned from gardening; it is a continuous process: preparing the soil; planting the seeds; watering, if needed; protecting plants from bad bugs and encouraging good insects; weeding; keeping critters from eating the plants or their produce, and harvesting. One cycle ends the next begins. All the things designed to get good plants produce a wealth of weeds.

Weeds need removing when they are small. Left to develop, weeds rob plants of vital nurture including water. If weeds are allowed to grow, their roots become entwined with plant roots. Their removal most likely results in killing the plants as described in our scripture today. Much like the garden with plants and weeds, we live in a world of both good and evil. We are free to choose which path we take. We pay the consequences or reap the rewards of our choices.

Individual choices are important, but what responsibility, if any, do we have regarding the negative impact evil inflicts on others? It seems that creating a world where evil is plucked early in development would not only benefit each of us individually but also all of us together. Evil rarely, solely resides in an individual. Evil’s continuing existence is as dependent on transmission to others as is Love’s.

Failed education systems are pipelines to prison, and our prison systems tend to turn out harder core criminals rather than people restored to wholeness. Our outlandishly expensive health care system makes some rich but limits the availability of affordable, accessible care. Those who cannot afford it often wait to seek help until it is too late and much more costly. We pay a heavy price for our greed as we reap its consequences.

Prayer: Lord, instruct us in the way we should go. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.