Growing up my brother, sister and I thought our mother had “eyes in the back of her head.” What we meant was simply that she so aware of what we did we could not get away with anything. Our mother had that ability because as her children we had her attention. She turned her attention away from her needs and desires to focus on our needs.
Recently I was in the audience when a person conducted some business for the whole group. In terms of the presentation, it was good. But when she concluded someone near me said, “That wasn’t about our group or our business, that was all about her!” She was so preoccupied with herself and how people perceived her that she missed what the group needed her to do. Her leadership in that group failed. Continue reading →
There have been a number of recent events involving shooters who kill one or more people in public outbursts with guns. The speculation rages that maybe these events have the ability to stimulate others to similar acts. This is especially true when events are highly publicized. One theory is that the publicity is a reward in itself. Everyone wants their fifteen seconds of fame, even if it results in being shot by the police or a lifetime in jail. Another kind of logic suggests that someone who is on the edge sees the publicity and is pushed over the edge. Anecdotally, it does seem that one violent event seems to spawn others. We call them ‘copy-cat’ incidents. Continue reading →
What do you think of yourself? Who and whose are you? It has been said that we think of ourselves as we think others see us. That is, our self-image has a lot to do with the value we believe other place on us. This past week as I prepared for the sermon I was preaching I delved into Jewish betrothal and marriage customs at the time of Jesus. One of the aspects for that process was for the prospective groom to negotiate an appropriate price to be paid to the girl’s family to marry her—the dowry. It reminded me of a story I heard several years ago about a ‘ten-cow wife.’ Continue reading →
Picture from TODAY
I want to suggest we do not know what the word ‘love means. Love is an easy word to throw around. Love is one of those things we talk about a lot in Christian circles. Jesus says, “Love one another.” We let ‘love’ easily slip off our tongues. I talk with young couples preparing to be married who would be incensed to think that anyone might challenge that they love one another. I can’t remember who said it, but I remember a definition of love that took me up short: “True love means giving something to someone they don’t deserve at a cost to you.” It is a thought-provoking definition that eliminates a lot of what we call ‘love.’ It would suggest that we rally don’t love someone until it costs us something—something maybe we didn’t even intend to give. Did I really love my wife when I was breathless and eager to be with her, full of all kinds of emotions or was that infatuation? You may have seen the story of a 41-year-old single mom, Stacie Crimm. She had come to believe that she never would be able to have children. But surprisingly she learned she was pregnant and shortly after learned she also had cancer. She had a chance at beating the cancer, but the chemotherapy would put her baby at risk—probably kill the fetus. She skipped the treatment and the aggressive cancer raged through her body. Stacie collapsed and Dottie, her daughter was born early. Stacie had three days with her daughter before dying. The article asks Stacie’s brother, “When Dottie Mae grows up, how will you explain Stacie’s ultimate sacrifice?” He replies, “I don’t think I’ll have to tell her anything,” he told Lauer. “I think she’ll kind of figure it out on her own.” Jesus’ model of love cost Him dearly. He told us that real love is like that: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 Taken like that, I don’t love much. I have a hard time giving up something (or having it taken from me) for or by a person who does not deserve it. Maybe we really don’t love our spouses or families until we intentionally sacrifice for them even when they don’t deserve it. Maybe we don’t love our community until it costs us something. But I have a suspicion that like little Dottie Mae Crimm, I think folks will figure it out on their own. Maybe that will be the image of Jesus in us.