Too early to be thinking about Christmas?October 28th, 2010
Too early to be thinking about Christmas? Not if you were hoping to purchase the fastest and most expensive Porche ever built—the 911 GT2 RS. It just sold out less than two months after debuting. Price tag? $329,000. Merry Christmas and a big red bow tied on to the 131 Americans who bought it.
Never mind the recession. Reports show that luxury items are once again ringing the cash registers in the U.S. “Consumers are buying more luxury items but spending remains tight for everyday essentials such as food and dental care, a USA TODAY analysis finds, suggesting a growing divide between haves and have-nots. Purchases of TVs, jewelry, recreational vehicles and pet supplies are growing robustly, government data show. At the same time, spending on medical care, day care and education is down in the dumps” (http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2010-10-27-RW_consumer27_ST_N.htm).
The yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots in this nation is widening. And it does not bode well for our future. One in 8 Americans is now on food stamps. At some point within last year, 1.6 million men, women and children (including 170,000 families) “experienced homelessness”—a 7% jump from the previous year. Voice of America this week quoted Henry Freedman, director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. “Freedman says America’s growing income gap could create a two-tiered society that loses its sense of community. ‘People struggling to get by, struggling to survive on the one hand, susceptible to demagoguery; and people on the other hand who put their resources to be separate from society, safe from society rather than participating fully in society,’ he said” (http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/US-Income-Disparity-Highest-Ever-105708773.html).
Did you catch that—“a two-tiered society that loses its sense of community”? The wealthy growing more isolated, the poor growing more resentful The Apostle James predicted just such an economically fractured society before the return of Christ: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! . . . Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.” And then to his impoverished readers, James appeals: “You must be patient. And take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near” (James 5:1, 4, 5 NKJV; 7 NLT).
Will our politicians deliver us from this social fracture? Hardly. They have just spent a record-setting $2 billion campaigning for next week’s election. How then will economic disparity be confronted? I’m not a prophet—but I read the prophets. Watch the labor movement globally. What France has experienced these past two weeks (and Greece earlier)—pent up rage by the lower class—can happen here, too. A century ago this prediction was made: “The trade unions will be the cause of the most terrible violence that has ever been seen among human beings” (Letter 99, 1904).
What shall we do? Let the church of Christ rise up with the compassion of her Lord and reach out to the disenfranchised and economically marginalized. Benton Harbor is 12 miles away. Our fledgling Harbor of Hope congregation desperately needs volunteers. Call Pastor Walter (849-9089). It isn’t new Porches that our world is dying for want of. It is men and women possessed with Jesus’ passion and brave enough to attempt to make a difference. Before he returns. Until he returns.
“Savior Siblings” was the newspaper headline.October 21st, 2010
“Savior Siblings” was the newspaper headline. Molly Nash is sixteen years old now—and very much alive. But in 2000 the promise of any future at all was doubtful. Molly was born with a severe type of Fanconi anemia, “a blood disorder that almost always results in leukemia by the age of 10.” Her only hope a bone marrow transplant. And the optimal transplant donor needed to be a sibling with genetically identical tissue. But Molly was an only child. Until Dr. John Wagner—a bone marrow transplant expert at the University of Minnesota—suggested a brave, novel protocol. Would Molly’s parents be willing to undergo in-vitro (“test tube”) fertilization to create multiple embryos—with the hopes of finding one embryo without the genetic coding for Fanconi anemia?
After multiple rounds of in-vitro fertilization “and tens of thousands of dollars borrowed from Jack’s parents,” at last a genetically “perfect” embryo was formed. Nine months later little Adam was born into the Nash family—and six weeks after that, Molly received her transplant from the blood in her baby brother’s umbilical cord. Today ten years later she’s the picture of health—and seemingly unimpressed with her “irritating little brother” who became a “savior sibling” in order to save her life. (SBTribune 10-20-10)
Two reflections on this news piece. #1—When something is truly worth it, you don’t quit trying. Jack and Lisa Nash, Molly’s parents, apparently thought so. So they invested multiple attempts at tens of thousands of dollars in order for their prayers to be answered. Shouldn’t we do the same? For 53 days now we’ve been asking God to revive our hearts and church and school, and to save our lost friends and family. Shall we quit now? Hardly! Jesus’ command to “ask for the Holy Spirit” (Luke 11:9, 13) literally means “to keep on asking.” And keep on we must! Beginning next week, the opening page of our worship bulletin-booklet will feature fresh ways we can keep on asking. After all, isn’t the promised answer worth it?
#2—Our Creator became our Savior Sibling. On this Creation Celebration Sabbath we remember that the Creator of this universe was born in a manger to become our Elder Brother. “ . . . in these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. . . . For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that . . . he might make atonement for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 1:2; 2:17 NIV). No wonder our Creator is twice worthy of our worship—first he made us, and then he saved us. With our Savior our Sibling, is it any wonder we must never quit praying now?
The rescue of the 33 Chilean minersOctober 14th, 2010
The rescue of the 33 Chilean miners, trapped for 69 days a half a mile beneath the mountain, is a story for the ages, isn’t it? Can you imagine the ecstatic joy that exploded into the cold night air, as that bullet-shaped recovery capsule emerged from out of the ground, transporting the first of the entombed captives to freedom? Desperate hope had become reality. The captives were coming home!
Did you know that one of the miners is a Seventh-day Adventist? Pedro Navia, the chair of the International Language Studies department here at Andrews University, several weeks ago sent to me a scanned copy of a hand-written letter the trapped miner wrote to his pastor. According to Dr. Navia, the church in Chile sent this pastor to the mining disaster site to minister to the miners’ families. The pastor even sent small Bibles down the lifeline shaft for the miners to read every day. Here is the translated letter in its entirety:
Pastor Carlos Parra Diaz,
From down here, my greetings to you and your family. Thank you for praying for us, the 33 miners.
I want to tell you that here we are all calm and I know God, the Mighty God, has protected us since the first day that this happened. Here we pray at 12:00 noon every day since the collapse took place. Here I can see all beliefs and religions, but we are all brothers in Christ. It is hard for me to write… I feel something here inside of me and it is difficult to think… If God has preserved our lives it is just because He has prepared something special for us when we leave this place. Here, there is a lot of time to think and pray.
For you and your family: “Only Jesus gives us rest and our heavy load becomes something light and easy to carry. A scene full of hope opens in front of us where our sorrows become a consoling future”.
Good bye to you and to everyone in your family,
Jose Ricardo Ojeda
I love that line, “A scene full of hope opens in front of us, where our sorrows become a consoling future.” For how could rescue of these entombed miners not be a foretaste of that explosive moment when He who is the Resurrection and the Life will call from their dusty beds of death his earth children one day soon? Listen to the jubilant exclamation of the second miner to be rescued. “I never doubted. I always knew God would rescue us,” Mario Sepulveda proclaimed. “‘I am so very happy,’ added the miner who was surrounded by family members holding his hands or touching him, as if to be sure he was really there. ‘I’m 40 years old and will live many years more now to honor those who helped’ in the rescue” (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-chile-miner-rescues-20101014,0,1311890.story).
For nine days now, Lee Venden has been teaching us that our Forever Friend has already shattered the chains of guilt and fear that entomb us. “A scene of hope opens in front of us.” Knowing we have been loved to the depths of Calvary, we can walk with our Friend Jesus—revived, set free, to live the rest of our lives to honor the One “who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And whether we live or whether we die, “a scene full of hope opens in front of us where our sorrows become a consoling future.” Amen.