Many in our Pensacola community are asking that very question right now.
Where was God when Naval Air Station Pensacola went under fire this morning? Does God even care? Why would He allow something like this to happen? Where was He when a gunman attacked a classroom full of unarmed naval flight officers training to serve our country?
I don't have all the answers, but here's what I do know...
Jesus doesn’t just simply stand by and watch His people hurt. When Jesus approached Lazarus’ grave He was "deeply moved and greatly troubled” (John 11:33) …then Jesus wept. The people there witnessing Jesus' response said in amazement, “See how much He loved him!” Our Lord, the God who created the Heavens and the Earth, who was there at the beginning of time, is not only a God of great authority and power, but also a God of compassion.
He doesn’t just watch His people suffer from afar, He dwells among us. He mourns at the loss of His image-bearers (Genesis 1:27) actively interceding on behalf of His children (John 17:20-23).
It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be hurt.
Even Jesus did all of those things. But amidst all the sin and suffering in our broken world let us not forget that our God promises He is there with us. We are never alone.
Introduction: Understanding Social & Cultural Views on Women in the First Century A.D.
Jesus’ radically counter-cultural treatment of women within the first century A.D. reveals His value for them despite society's view of them at that time as merely property (SOURCE: Tatha Wiley, PhD) to be controlled (SOURCE: Claudia V. Camp), whose sole purpose in life was to produce and nurture children (SOURCE: Greg, Forbes, PhD and Scott D. Harrower, PhD). Some scholars, like the French-American Samuel Lucien Terrien, believe a women’s status at that time was “slightly above that of a Greco-Roman slave" (SOURCE: Samuel L. Terrien). Women were often considered to be “impure, subordinate and inferior human creatures(s)” in the post-exilic period (SOURCE: Greg, Forbes, PhD and Scott D. Harrower, PhD). Jesus, on the other hand, defies tradition by allowing women not only to be active participants in His ministry but also to be contributors to His ministry.
While Greco-Roman philosophers like Philo of Alexandria portrayed women as mentally inferior (SOURCE: Philon d’Alexandrie), Jesus praises followers like Mary for defying social norms while acting as a student of His teachings (Luke 10:38–42 NLT).
The Gospels record a number of women who are models of faith, including the first evangelist, with whom Jesus shares His identity as the Messiah before anyone else in scripture (John 4:1–42). Jesus defends women (Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–50; John 12:1–8), and He even highlights women’s example at times when His own disciples fall short (Mark 12:41–44, Luke 21:1–4). Jesus chose women to be witnesses of His Word, preachers of His resurrection, and Apostles to the Apostles. While Jesus’ behavior and attitude towards women was considered radical at the time, it is important to remember that Jesus asks the same treatment of women today, as He treated them two thousand years ago.
A few weeks ago, Alabama’s Governor, Kay Ivey, signed the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion bill into a law potentially punishing doctors who perform abortions with life in prison.[Governor Ivey defended the law stating: “This legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
Everyone wants to talk about the rights of unborn children today. Why is there little discussion about defending the rights of the children who are born as a result of unwanted pregnancies?
In 2017, more than 690,000 children spent time in foster care in the United States. Right now, there are 107,918 foster children eligible and waiting to be adopted. My dad and two aunts used to be part of that statistic.
If we truly believe each person is “a sacred gift from God,” as Governor Ivey said. Then why aren’t we talking about defending these children? Only 2% of Americans adopt. Among Christians the number rises to 5%.
People who don’t know me think I’m crazy when I say I turned down an anchor job in one of my favorite cities to pursue a calling as a youth minister. But friends and family have all had the same response: “Finally!”
You know, pastors and journalists actually have a lot in common. Both speak up for the rights of those who don’t have a voice (Proverbs 31:8), both devote themselves to serving their communities (Mark 10:35-45) and both are motivated by something greater than themselves (Galatians 2:20) – at least the ones I’ve had the pleasure to work beside.
The same question continues to pop up though. Why?
In the bush of Northern Uganda, clean drinking water comes in bottles not sinks, the nearest hospital is a 45-minute drive and evidence of the 20-year war against Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army remains everywhere.
3 years ago, the Acholi people had no concept of joy, forgiveness was too risky and the word, grace, didn't even exist in their language.
No smiles. No playgrounds. No hope.
Why would you go to Africa when there are needs here in America? Was it life-changing? Are you glad to be back?
I never thought describing a 6-day visit would be so difficult. But the more I explore outside my comfortable air-conditioned apartment the more I yearn to learn from my neighbors abroad.
Six months ago, I landed back in Birmingham, Alabama. Yet, even now when the Africa trip is brought up the same question unfolds: Did the trip help you see how blessed we are here? My answer doesn’t always get the best reception.
It started last April. My small group and I traveled to Haiti with Mission of Hope. Enthusiastic about what I saw, learned and experienced, I wrote a blog post about the trip to share with family and friends.
Jesus explained in the Parable of the Talents: the only way to misuse your talents is by not using them at all (Matthew 25:14-30). I felt I had missed a great opportunity to share what Christ was doing in Haiti. Even though I don't work full-time at a church or for a nonprofit, as a follower of Christ I am called to live on mission (Matthew 28:18-20)--and that means using my gifts to bring God glory.
I didn't volunteer to coach U12/U14 soccer because I love the sport. I never played in college or high school--and I'm pretty sure I was the bench warmer for the one season I played in middle school. But there's something special about sports ministry.
Through challenging practices and close-games, a team becomes a family. It's in those moments that a coach can have an impact bigger than the sport itself.
Ready: "For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;" -1 Corinthians 1:26-27
“And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” –Luke 9:23
I was recently able to go on a mission trip to Haiti (April 13-20th, 2013). My friends and family supported me as I prepared to work with Mission of Hope Haiti for a week, so I wanted to share with them here how the trip went.
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute."