Categories
Life

Monday (Just Before Noon) Humor

There were probably state and federal laws broken for taking video in the bathroom, but I’m thankful it happened:

HT: Kevin DeYoung

Categories
Ministry

Today is World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day.  Here is a email I received today from Blood:Water Mission, written by Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay.  Let’s pray for the Church to lead AIDS victims to Jesus, the only true hope for their lives, and ours.

I was not really prepared.  As I turned the corner, my eyes took it in, and I felt my lungs fill with air, and let it all go,  as if I had just beheld a great waterfall, or a mountain vista.  It was nothing of the sort.  But it was still breathtaking.  It was around 3:30pm.  I looked at the sky, which had turned a woolen gray, and then back at the paper where I had scribbled the information.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My oldest son draped in a replicated Union army cap and coat, and my youngest bundled up against the short bursts of winter wind, and spray of cold rain, walked with me, the two blocks from our house to a quaint little house and barn that had been preserved as a reminder of a great and bloody battle.

It was the anniversary of the Battle of Franklin, one of the most gruesome battles of the Civil War.  We were the first spectators to arrive.  The busy street had been blocked off for hours, as a small handful of volunteers placed a candle in a white paper bag for each of the nearly ten thousand soldiers that lost their lives during that fateful day of November 30th, 1864.

We walked slowly down the rows and rows of white bags that stretched out of sight, and down the street.  Perhaps it was the combination of gray clouds, misty rain, and the fact that history becomes decidedly more important to me when I am walking along with two little people who represent the future. But I was struck by the magnitude of such a display.  I was sobered by a visual of what “ten thousand” looked like.

I began to consider what it must have felt like to be there.  Both sides fighting, moved onward by a sense of purpose and conviction that was worth overcoming fear and entering even unto death.  Have I ever experienced or even witnessed two passionately opposing forces at the climax of purpose? Have I ever felt the weight of the kind of upholding of a belief that springs from the core of their souls or the urgency to protect something that rests as the very foundation of humanity?  I have never been to war.  I have appreciated it’s brutal power, and have even hovered around the ripple effects of it’s deadly sting, as friends have dealt with the loss of loved ones.  But I was humbled by the view in front, and all around me as I walked, and counted and imagined the faces and stories of each of those soldiers.  It is regretable that the story of American History must hold the Civil War in it’s pages.

Today is another day to remember.  There is another battle that our streets are not lengthy nor wide enough to hold the number of luminaries to represent all that have fallen during the fight.   It is the fight against HIV/AIDS.  And today, I remember the hands of men that I have held while doing my best to comfort them in their dying hours.  I remember the stories of hopelessness, of fear, of despair that blanketed the air of entire communities like the gray clouds of November in Franklin, TN.

But there is so much risk in thinking about too many stories at once.  Without a way to visualize millions of faces, I am reminded that AIDS is a disease that kills one person at a time.  It is a disease that destroys the body, one blood cell at a time.  It destroys families one person at a time.  It creates a void, a deep emptiness where hope and health should be,  one story at a time.  And so today,  I am thinking about how I can help one person.  How I can love and act, and advocate on behalf of one person.  And in the midst of this great and challenging fight, we may one day realize that we have the opportunity to not be able to visualize the millions of stories that have regained their threads of hope, and sustained their health.

Can you think of a person?  Can you put yourself in the place of someone wrestling with HIV/AIDS?  Do you wonder what their fears might be? Do you wonder what their families might be going through?  Do you consider the moment that they have to bring the news of their illness to their family? Is there room in your heart,  in my heart to feel what they feel?

Today is World AIDS Day.  To most of us, it is just another day.  What would it take for us to remember there is no such thing as “Just another day.”  And what would it look like to do our best to ensure that those wrestling on this day under the weight of this disease can make it to the next?

It is in our hands.  It is our ideas, our passion, our willingness to learn, to fail, to search, to love, and to fight that will bring forth the ideas and the designs to beat HIV/AIDS.

It is my hope that we will continue to feel the urgency of this great need.  It is my desire that we will continue to open our hearts to the stories of people all around the world that suffer.

I believe that God has given us this great privilege to be a part this great act of healing.  Please join us in praying, in knowing, in loving, and in serving.

And maybe we can one day celebrate by saying, “Happy World AIDS Day!”

Peace to you,

Dan Haseltine
Categories
Life

Thirsty? Don’t Drink From the Toilet

In Hosea 5, God gives a bone-chilling indictment to Israel and Judah.  He says, “The spirit of whoredom is within [Israel and Judah]” (v. 4)  That’s not what you want to hear out of God’s mouth.  If you read this entire chapter, the outlook doesn’t get much better.  In fact, it gets worse.  Israel will stumble in its guilt (v. 5); God has withdrawn himself from Israel (v. 6); Israel’s joyful festival times will now be a curse to them (v. 7); God is going to pour out his wrath on Israel and Judah (v. 10); God will be like a moth and pus-filled sores to Israel and Judah (v. 12); and God will tear apart Israel and Judah like a lion and carry them off so that they cannot be rescued (v. 14).

That’s not very encouraging.  In fact, if this were the last chapter in the Bible, I might just doubt the joy and purpose of this whole Christian thing.  Thank God it’s not the last chapter in the Bible.  It’s not even the last chapter in Hosea.

Amidst all those afflictions that God is bringing on his people, I noticed something significant in verse 11.  It says, “Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, because he was determined to go after filth.”  What’s significant about that?  Ephraim (which is another name for Israel) deserved this punishment because they were determined to do evil.  The “spirit of whoredom” had taken them astray so they pursued dirt instead of God.  They were so far gone that muddy, clouded toilet water looked clean, clear, and refreshing.

The phrase for “go after filth” in Hebrew is literally “to follow human precepts.”  Now that narrows it down a bit.  “Human precepts” sounds a lot like religion.  This is very similar to an issue Paul addressed in Philippians 3.  There, Paul lists his pedigree as a Jew and Pharisee.  But what does he say after his list of accomplishments?  He writes, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (v. 8).  A lot of controversy has been spilled out over the word “rubbish.”  Daniel Wallace, Ph.D., is a professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary and he argues that the word “rubbish” is somewhere in between crap and s**t.  Whatever the case (but for the record, I side with Wallace), Paul makes the point that his Pharisaical and fleshly accomplishments are filthy compared to the person and work of Jesus Christ and his righteousness.

Hosea and Paul communicate the same truth in two different ways: If you are thirsty, don’t drink toilet water.  It’s disgusting.  Go to the Fountain that gives the living water, which will never leave us thirsty again.

In light of this, where is the hope of Christ in Hosea?  Where is the deliverance for God’s people?  Read ahead to 6:1.  “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.”  Israel is honest: God has caused their harm.  They are confidently persuaded that God is a just God and that he will by no means let the guilty go free.  But they are just as confidently persuaded that God is merciful and he will forgive the people that he has purchased for himself.  He has done it for their good and his glory.  Still, this seems to be an insincere cry.  Verse 4 says, “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim…O Judah?”  Nevertheless, God is a good dad who loves his kids and wants them to be holy like him and so often discipline is required in order to bring about holiness (Heb. 12:3-11).  He says in Hosea 6:11 that he will restore the fortunes of his people.”  Therefore, though God slay us, let us praise him (Job 13:15).  More than that, let us praise him for his Son, Jesus, who was crushed and grieved by the Father so that he might bring us peace with God (Isa. 53:4-6, 10).

By the way, what does the last chapter of the Bible say?  Five verses from the end, it says, “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’  And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

Our application?  If you are thirsty.  Don’t drink toilet water.  It’s gross.  Drink the water Jesus gives.  It’s the most satisfying, most clean, most free, and most important drink you’ll ever take.