The loud call to prayer rang through my ears and through the boat I was currently on. I was heading to my room to grab my Bible and suddenly the “call” could be heard everywhere. I remember walking by the ship’s gift shop and seeing the gift shop worker kneeling on his prayer rug praying. So many stopped and prayed during this time and I had grown accustomed to seeing it over the past five days. Egypt had a way of making the unaccustomed seem so normal to a stranger.
The sandaled feet walked slowly along the pathway. It was a long, dirty pathway that was well trodden by the feet of the thousands of daily mourners. These feet dragged a bit and were devoid of energy. They were dirty, sweaty, and worn. They were the feet of the weary, the hopeless, and the tired. Such a dreary walk for any man or woman to have to make.
Suddenly, the feet stopped. The pathway was still long and weary but these feet had arrived at their destination. The feet shuffled and suddenly seemed very nervous. They stepped back. They tried to move forward but something seemed to be wrong. Muffled voices spoke quietly and quickly.
Suddenly, like lightning, the feet rushed forward into the dark tomb only to find it empty.
The tomb was empty!
What is the most precious thing you ever lost? People lose things every day. Some things are not all that valuable, while others are priceless. For instance, what would you rather lose, a toothbrush or a tooth? When it comes to losing items, much is determined on the basis of value. While we might not bat an eye at losing a penny, no one really wants to lose a sack full of them. Value makes a lot of difference, but it is not the only thing of importance. Another qualifying concern in losing things is how that loss will change your life. Take that same toothbrush versus tooth scenario and add in a severe toothache. People do not have that many teeth to spare in life, but if one is hurting bad enough, the cheapest toothbrush can be of more value.
Do you ever consider life a grind? Sometimes we hear people talk about their jobs or school studies as being a grind. On Sunday nights, at the end of a nice and peaceful weekend, you may hear someone say, “Well, it is back to the grind tomorrow!” In other words, it is back to doing the jobs we do to maintain life’s continuum. For some, “the grind” extends beyond the mundane tasks of daily work activity. Some may see that their home life, their marriage, the daily regime of caring for children, or the routine of maintaining a home falls into that which is considered a grind. Just maybe, there are some who extend their sense of “the grind” to spiritual events that take place on a weekly basis. Sadly, some see having to make the effort to get up on a Sunday morning, get dressed, get the family ready, get in the car, and go up to “that church house again” as “the grind.” Perhaps even yet, there is a worse consideration for some that life itself is just one big, mundane, dull, ordinary, humdrum, and monotonous grind-kind of life.
I remember the first time I truly felt inspired. I was watching the movie Independence Day and the President of the United States jumped up on top of a military truck and grabbed a microphone. He began to speak one of the greatest speeches in movie history. I was floored! I wanted to jump up from my seat in the movie theatre, grab a fighter jet, and help stop the alien invasion. I was ready to take on the world whatever the cost!
Now, the reality is that it was just a movie. It was a speech written to motivate men and women alike into action. It was meant to spur us all out of our seat to fight, cheer on, encourage, and exhort our fellow soldiers in the battle that lay ahead. But, it was just a movie. A good movie...but still a movie.
Today, I sit in my office feeling the same way. I feel inspired. I feel called into action. I feel ready to stand and fight the good fight. I feel ready and willing to charge into the breach of darkness and to vanquish the one who stands against us all. I truly feel inspired.
What is a teacher? I’ve asked myself that a lot over the past couple of years and I’m amazed by how many answers there really are to the question. And I’ve spent so much time on what makes a good teacher that I sometimes forget that the content is just as important as the teacher.
In the church we have struggled for years to find good, qualified, passionate teachers. It seems like every quarter there is a plea for people to step forward and accept the challenge of teaching the kids, the teens, and the babies. We beg and beg for people to step forward into these roles knowing that most will do it reluctantly.
Now, I know exactly why people struggle to step into these positions.
A recent viewing of a billboard revealed an advertisement for a doctor who was offering his services. Of the several specializations shown on the sign one item of interest suggested that he is a “Trusted Doctor.” It got me to thinking about what causes folks to trust people in white coats with stethoscopes hung around their necks? Why is it that any doctor, or for that matter, any person deserve to be trusted? For some, the fact that he looks like a doctor may be enough, but for most, there has to be a sure method of detecting trust. Many people say, “Trust me!” But, how many people in the world have said similar things, yet were discovered to be untrustworthy? Perhaps, within this question is part of the answer to what qualifies one to be able to present themselves as trustworthy. Discovery is an integral part of declaring and maintaining trust.
I remember waking up on the floor of the church building in downtown Bangkok, Thailand and wondering to myself, “Why did I choose to sleep on this hard floor?” My back hurt badly and I could barely sit up without a lot of pain. I rubbed my back as best I could and then realized my neck hurt even more than my back.
This was going to be a long day. A very, very long day.
But the day before was even longer.
I awoke the day before in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and boarded a bus…well, lets call it a bus. It wasn’t really a bus inasmuch as it was a large vehicle that we shoved 40 people into. Kyle and I sat with our massive travel bags under our feet and I had my knees against my chest. There was no air conditioning and it was close to 95 degrees on the bus. I began to pray because I knew that the journey we were about to make was going to be a rough one. In fact, it was going to be an incredibly dangerous one.
The fascination Americans seem to have with what goes on in the lives of other people borders on the level of obsession. Most folks just seem to like to know what others are up to all the time. Add in the media’s presentation of the “facts,” and the armchair judge and jury has all he needs to make the “correct” decision about guilt or innocence. Right? Perhaps, the jury is still out on that one. No pun intended!
Recently, the courts in Florida found one of its residents, George Zimmerman, not guilty in the shooting death of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. It may be that you have been following this story and subsequent trial. It has been in the news for the last year and a half. You may have followed it closely, or you may have ignored it all together. In any case, it has been in the news almost every day, and has created quite a stir in many circles. The outcome is highly controversial in the public eye to say the least.
I sat quietly in a café in downtown Catania. This was my normal stop on my morning commute to work. Each and every day I would walk the ten blocks from my eleventh floor apartment to the church building and, on the way, I would always stop at the “bar,” or coffee café, for my morning breakfast.
As I sat quietly this morning drinking my coffee, the waiter, whom I’d never met before, came out and asked me if I needed anything else. His Italian was pretty good, but I could tell he was from the Middle East. I told him that I was fine and thanked him for asking.
As he walked away from me, I heard another patron at the café speak.