Frederick Nzwili of the Religion News Service reported gunmen ambushed a passenger bus in Kenya on December 21, 2015. The attackers, suspected to be Muslim jihadists from the group al-Shabaab, sprayed the bus with bullets, killing two. When they boarded the bus and asked the 62 Muslims to identify the Christian passengers, the Muslims refused and told the militants to kill everyone or leave. Amazingly, the militants left.
The Anglican bishop of Mombasa said, “This is the true meaning of religion, and we congratulate them. True religion protects neighbors and defends the weak and poor.”
Mandera County has endured multiple massacres since 2011. Recent campaigns around peaceful religious coexistence between Muslims and Christians in the county are bringing about “true religion.”
May I be so loving and willing.
My home team, the Cincinnati Bengals, melted into self destructive behavior in losing to the Pittsburg Steelers. Why are sports such an intense event for players.
Depending on the sport, many aspects of our nature as humans are engaged. The body is highly involved, ever pushed to achieve. Mental intelligence plays a factor in learning rules, strategies, and good form. Ability to focus and control ones thoughts and emotions plays out in preparation and performance. All this gets directed in trying to “win,” bringing the contest into a competitive model versus one more collaborative.
Where does the spiritual fit? God is a force beyond ourselves made of love, a love willing to sacrifice on behalf of another, a love willing to transform our being into one that loves one’s neighbor as one self. This is more easily achieved towards one’s teammates than it is the opposition.
When body, mind, will and emotion are so focused in defeating another, there can be dangerously little room for the aspect of loving one’s neighbor as oneself. The danger becomes manifest when the defeat moves beyond score to hurting the person in mind, body or spirit.
The sports person who wants God to be at the center of their life, needs to find ways to bring this aspect into the competition. Preparation for an event includes becoming clear what will be appropriate behavior during the match that honors the opponent and still allows for competition. Prayer, a turning to God, is a way to channel God’s love and wisdom in preparation and contest.
A competitive event offers unique temptations to leave God’s love out of the game. I certainly leave God on the sidelines frequently. The challenge is to make and leave room for God.
What are your thoughts?
I am thankful I do not help create national policy. I see an issue from so many sides it is hard to make a decision. Throw into the mix a deep desire to follow Jesus’ teachings and values and I bog down in conflicting thoughts.
So here we are heading toward Christmas, and national attention is focused on what extent to welcome refugees into the United States. The noise of this debate easily drowns out the words of Luke and Matthew in re-proclaiming the birth of Jesus. Here are two thoughts to hold amid the clamor. How do these accounts affect your thinking?
- According to Luke 2:7, when Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem they stayed in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn. Jesus began earthly existence where there was no room. Much of his ministry can be described as making room for people to come into God’s kingdom.
- According to Matthew 2:13, after the birth of Jesus, his father Joseph dreamed of an angel telling him to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt, as King Herod was coming to kill the child. They refuged in Egypt, until it was save to return and Jesus could save us.
In worship we have explored John Wesley’s advice to Earn all you can, Save all you can, and Give all you can. Bryan Williams who teaches Financial Peace University, put together some simple guidelines to save. How many do you use? What would helpful to use?
Couponing: Use websites and newspaper fliers as sources for your coupons. Use coupons for the purchases that are already needed such as grocery items, haircuts, electrical devices. Don’t use coupons to make purchases just because it is a great deal and you end up making purchases that you never would have made in the first place. In this case, you are spending more money instead of saving money.
Grocery Shopping: Prior to going to the grocery store, preferably at least a couple days in advance, plan the meals and items needed until the next shopping period. Only make purchases that are on the list. Use coupons that coincide with the items on your list. Sometimes you can use coupons while planning your grocery list
Impulse Purchasing: Don’t do it. Use the 24 hour rule. Make it a standard practice to “sleep on it” before making purchases. During this time, make list of pros and cons for the possible purchase. Is it a want or a need. If it is a need, can it be purchased second hand from places like Craig’ List, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Trash to Treasure. Seek counsel from a trusted and responsible friend or relative.
Limit Restaurant Dining: For our culture today, especially for working parents with kids who are involved in extracurricular activities, it is so easy to run through a drive-through on the way to or from practices and games. The amount of money spent on this act alone will shock you. A good way to understand how much a person is forking out for this is to collect the receipts for a month and tally them up. This amount, in many cases, can easily pay for an all-inclusive vacation to a tropical destination. Or how about funding your kid’s college tuition? Or how about the ability to help others that are struggling? Oops, I got on a little rant there.
Take Action: Give effort to knowing how the money is entering and leaving your life. What is happening between those times? Do you feel that you are in control of your financial life? If not, you are not alone because more than half of American households have less than one month of income that is readily available in savings. (source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/your-money/the-dangerous-state-of-americans-savings.html?_r=0) Take the steps that will allow you to see personal finance through a lens from 30,000 feet versus from ground level, in the middle of a thick forest. There are many sources that will map out the steps for people to follow give an understanding of personal finance. The first step that every source will have in common is for you to take action with a desire to move from where you are to where you want to be.
I was in charge of leading devotions one evening for a group gathered for two weeks to learn the art of spiritual formation and direction. They were an intimidating group of spiritually aware people. My preparation existed of flipping pages of the Bible in a frozen trance. What could I share? What would speak to heart and mind?
The evening came and when the singing concluded I stood, opened the Bible and read one verse, Luke 5:15, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” I then stood silent, and they sat silently, as we each withdrew into an expanded time of quiet, communal, refreshing presence.
Tomorrow I leave for a month of spiritual renewal. I am withdrawing from normal activities and responsibilities. I am withdrawing to the ruminations of the oceanshore and the gurgling of mountain streams. In the absence of all I leave behind I hope for a presence of the one who also withdrew to be near to God. And when the withdrawing comes to a close, an opening inviting new engagement will come.