Greetings from the southwest corner of Wyoming

This blogspot is a way for our members and friends around the globe to stay informed. Make yourself at home. Create yourself a bookmark, friend us on FaceBook and join in as we keep the crucified God ever before our eyes.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

No Excuse

One week ago this morning (July 22, 7:00am EDT) the church of college football preached a sermon without words. At Penn State University a work crew fenced off, covered, and  then removed a life-sized statue of the winningest coach in the history of college football. Next day, we learned that the removal of this icon of Joe Paterno's achievements foretold the removal of the achievements themselves. In an unprecedented step, the NCAA expunged  fourteen years of his coaching career from the record books. 111 wins are no longer wins. They are, rather, failures. Failure to defend children too weak to defend themselves.

What did Paterno do to deserve such a draconian punishment? Not enough. That's the problem.

Paterno is not a sexual predator by any account. No doubt he would be utterly appalled to learn the results of his inactivity. But that matters nothing to Sandusky's victims. The Louis Freeh Report is unequivocal.
The most saddening finding by the Special Investigative Counsel is the total and consistent disregard by the most senior leaders at Penn State for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims... Four of the most powerful people at the Pennsylvania State University -- President Graham B. Spanier, Senior Vice President-Finance and Business Gary C. Schultz, Athletic Director Timothy M. Curley and Head Football Coach Joseph V. Paterno -- failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade. (p. 14)
As a result, their lives were damaged in irrevocable ways.

By the removal of an icon, the message was articulate and clear. You ARE your brother's keeper. And this silent sermon resonates in every human heart. The propriety of the punishment is still under debate. But the outrage itself is beyond debate. The right thing was left undone. It should have been done. There is no excuse.

All of us are truly saddened. All of us truly hope and pray that the sanctions of the NCAA might help these victims heal a little bit. Finally their screams have been heard. Finally someone stood  up to acknowledge their existence and the pain they have endured in silence. Finally someone has  publicly said: You needed our protection. You deserved our care. We could have protected you. But we  did not. I pray God's peace and blessings on their recovery.

All of us are also looking toward Penn State University. We want them, and college football generally, to learn an important lesson. No entity, no program, no way of life is so important as to absolve  you of your responsibilities to even the smallest person. Mark Emmert, President of the NCAA, made  this plain: “Our goal is to not be just punitive, but to make sure that the university establishes an athletic culture and daily mindset in which football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing, and protecting young people” (Press Conference, July 23).

All of us should also be looking to ourselves. This lesson is not only for programs and institutions. It is a lesson for each and every one of us. You are your brother’s keeper. When your brother needs protection, no social program, no political loyalty, no peer pressure is a legitimate reason to fail him. Whatever the cost, whatever the inconvenience, whatever the sacrifice to success, reputation, friendship or social standing, every human being, no matter how small, is your brother; and you are your brother's keeper.

So, who exactly needs your protecting? Every reader of this column will be able to name certain people smaller, younger, more vulnerable than you. Their cries for help move you to action. There are also the nameless and voiceless. Every day 3500 new victims - people - are killed without being able to scream for help. Ignorance of their names and inability to hear their screams does not lessen our responsibilities. Nor do your personal feelings about abortion matter to the victims. Powerless victims are not helped by your affirmations. They need your voice. They need your care. They need your protection.

When a decade of coaching achievements are counted as nothing, it is a sermon we all must take to heart. To paraphrase Mark Emmert: "Our goal is not to be just punitive, but to make sure that our society establishes a culture and daily mindset in which partisan politics, personal ambition, or peer pressure will never again be placed ahead of defending, caring for, and protecting even the weakest of people."

For Sandusky’s victims, it is too late. Opportunities lost can never be regained. But, by God’s grace, this tragedy can open our eyes to the countless opportunities still before us. It is not too late for these people. We have our voice, we have Jesus’ compassion and, now, we have this lesson to spur us on. Today we see with the clarity of hindsight: Those unable to defend themselves must be defended by those who can. The right thing can be done. It should be done. We have no excuse.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

CrossTalk: The Joy of Meaning

Without meaning, life is unbearable. That's a fact. No matter how strong, healthy, rich or popular you are, without purpose life is depressing, painful and profoundly sad. More than money, more than material, more than a mood change, the most joyful gift that a person can receive is the gift of meaning.

Apart from a God who directly creates your life, meaning is hard to come by. If our life is nothing but the result of chance, it is impossible to find any lasting meaning. Some might live for the pleasures of today. But that only works until tomorrow comes. Then, yesterday's self-centered choices become today's overwhelming problems. Others live for the future fulfillments of health and wealth. But these, too, pass into meaninglessness in the hour of death.

When, on the other hand, your life is directly because of the will of God, it is inherently meaningful. The very fact that you exist means something to God. This fact alone, changes everything. All at once, you have both a responsibility and a freedom. You are responsible to live as one created by God. You are free from the burden of meaninglessness. This is the joyous state of the Christian. This is the joy of a creature before its Creator.

But even here joy is elusive. Even believing in the God of creation, feelings of meaninglessness plague us. How can this be? What causes this sadness?

The problem here is that many people think that for life to have meaning we must see the big picture. We want to see how our daily drudgeries have meaning in the great scheme of things. Why must I do this? Why do I have to endure that? It all seems so meaningless.

Jesus came not only to give an ultimate meaning for the end of life. But Jesus came to redeem each and every event of your life from the morass of meaninglessness. He took the most common events of life and invested them eternal meaning. By His many miracles, Jesus proclaimed meaning in the simplest things of life: weddings, walking, seeing, talking, fishing, eating, serving and worshipping,

So, whether you are at work or at home, you are not simply marking time and waiting for something meaningful to happen in the future. Christians are not only waiting for the last day. Rather, your life right now, today, has eternal, cosmic importance because it is the life that God has given to you. It is the place where God has put you. Here Christ is at work. Here Christ is doing for you what He does best -- creating, shaping, renewing, and cleansing you. In short, here God is loving you.

Life received from God is not random but brimming with meaning. Circumstances redeemed by Christ are not hopeless but God's gracious gift to you. Every moment sanctified by the Holy Spirit is not a delay of salvation but a moment of eternity. “For this is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What will persecution look like in the modern West?

It won't be lions in amphitheaters and certainly won't be incense and the genius Caesaris.

The devil and the world have all they need already to inflict persecution on the Church through bureaucratic busybodies and zoning laws...

All of us in the increasing bureaucratic West play along to get along as much as we can. We seek to live quiet, peaceable lives which means attempting to keep all the bureaucratic regulations for the sake of peace and good order. But when is it time for churchmen to say enough is enough? When is it time for the Church to speak up for the 7th Commandment and property rights seeing as how they directly affect the Church's ability to due her work?