Friday: 2/27/15

I’m sitting here listening to Stryper and having a cup of coffee (decaf in case you’re wondering). Today has been an odd day. I have been overly emotional ever since reading something that a friend posted on Facebook this morning. Once I saw his post it seemed like everything I clicked on or read brought tears to my eyes.

I spent the better part of this morning thinking about suicide (not committing it). I had the unfortunate task of ministering to two different families last year as they coped with the suicides of two young men. There was also the situation with Robin Williams that got worldwide attention so it has been a timely topic.

I looked up some stats this morning and they really floored me. I’d like to share just a few of them.

In 2013 (the most recent year for which full data are available), 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. In that year, someone in the country died by suicide every 12.8 minutes.

In 2013, the highest suicide rate (19.1) was among people 45 to 64 years old. The second highest rate (18.6) occurred in those 85 years and older. Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults. In 2013, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 10.9.

After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death.

(from https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures)

HERE is another page filled with statistics. Here are some especially troubling ones:

Suicide takes the lives of nearly 40,000 Americans every year.
Over half of all suicides occur in adult men, ages 25-65.
For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
The highest suicide rate is among men over 85 years old: 65 per 100,000 persons.
1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 die by suicide each year.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. (homicide is 16th).

My heart is heavy as I think about these things. I pray that the God of Love, Grace, and Mercy touches those who are hurting and desperate. I pray that His people love those who feel unlovable.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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Good Boy

IMG_1492

Dogs are funny creatures. Well…my dog is. His name is Kobi and he’s about fifteen months old. He’s grown from a cute little ball of black fur into the lazy beast you see here. We had dogs when I was growing up so I have always considered myself a dog person. I still am. I missed having a dog and am glad that I am finally in a situation where I can have one. Kobi is a good one.

You’re Blessed

You’re Blessed
5 1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Matthew 5:1-12 (The Message)

I like reading from Eugene Peterson’s The Message. I realize that it is Peterson’s own paraphrase but he is a scholar and has a pretty good grasp on the original languages. He admits that he is deliberately trying to put the Bible (and all its quirks) into a contemporary English. Most of the time…I like the way he does it. This passage is one of those that I love. Peterson’s spin is matter-of-fact and simple.

I know that a lot of folks don’t appreciate what he has done and truthfully…I do not use The Message as my primary Bible…but I do enjoy reading it to get a different take on things. Often times it helps me to look at a very familiar passage in a totally new light and to see things that I have either missed or forgotten.

I’ll be sharing a bit of what I’m reading up here over the next several posts. Hopefully it will jump start my blogging and give me something to think (and write) about.

Break Their Bows And Break Our Hearts

12 The wicked plot against the godly;
they snarl at them in defiance.
13 But the Lord just laughs,
for he sees their day of judgment coming.
14 The wicked draw their swords
and string their bows
to kill the poor and the oppressed,
to slaughter those who do right.
15 But their swords will stab their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

Psalm 37:12-15 (NLT)

I confess…I randomly chose Psalm 37 this morning when considering what passage to read. It seems incredibly relevant when one considers all of the violence in the world today. I know that violence has been around since the beginning…but with the technology and media we have now…we are more aware of it.

The American Church sits and complains about being persecuted (and in one sense it is) but it doesn’t face death the way the Church in other places does. I don’t have any deep thoughts or words of wisdom concerning this. The only think I have is God’s word and He says that He sees and He eventually take care of it.

My prayer is that those of us who worship Christ comfortably will become less comfortable.

A Brief Absence

I apologize (are you tired of that word from me yet?) for the brief absence. Our internet was down for nearly two weeks so I was unable to get up here. I do have a couple of things that I am working on that should be ready to post in the next couple of days.

Today I want to share a tribute to Dean Smith. For those who don’t know who he was, he coached the UNC basketball team for many years. He passed away over the weekend. Here is a nice article discussing his impact.

Smith Impacted Hoops, People