Life Is Sacred

Life Is Sacred

Years ago when a preacher preached on the sixth commandment, the applicable points of relevancy were looks that could kill, murderous words, and criminal attitudes. Today the stakes are higher. Many of us know people who have been murdered.

Had I been ordering the Ten Commandments, I would have placed this one last. It seems that this is the epitome of dehumanization, the end of a slippery slope of sin. I’d keep the first four in place, because the erosion of life is rooted in a blatant disregard for the God who gives life. If we can make our own idolatrous gods, use God’s name to endorse our will, turn Him into our genie in the religious bottle, then we can de-sacralize the life God created.

First, we erase the Sabbath pattern that is meant to remind us of our relation to God. Then we dishonor our parents who gave us birth, placing ourselves at the center of the familial universe. Next we break our promises to those we marry, then we take from others what is not ours, then we twist the truth for our purposes, then we want their life, then we take it.

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The Wrong Funeral

The Wrong Funeral

When I pastored in Nashville, I became friends with the owner of a local funeral home. Several families in our congregation had used this funeral home and the funeral director had appreciated the care I had given people during the service. He asked me if I would be willing to serve families who had no pastor, and I said yes. If John Wesley was right, the world is our parish.

From time to time he would call me, give me the details, and I would meet with the family and plan the service. It placed me in close proximity to human pain, and I often had the opportunity to begin a relationship that later led to faith.

One day he called with an emergency. A man had died, a substitute pastor had been secured, the funeral had been planned, and the sub had called with an emergency of his own.

Could I rush over in the next 15 minutes and preach the sermon? I could. Grabbing a Bible and a suit coat, I headed to the funeral home and was met at the back door by the funeral director.

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The Danger of Explaining Tornadoes

The Danger of Explaining Tornadoes

Today’s post is the first of two about God and suffering in the wake of this week’s deadly tornadoes.

For some reason we humans believe it is our responsibility to explain everything that happens. And religious people are even worse. I suppose that if we can explain it, we feel that we somehow have mastery over it. Silly, aren’t we?

Life has been lost in Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee with the recent round of tornadoes this week. I remember a few years ago when a tornado tore through Nashville and someone informed me that God was judging the city for leaving her Bible-belt roots and embracing the vile entertainment of country music. Regardless your opinion of country music, I think it is the most theological of all non-religious music because it is blatantly honest about what sin does to people.

So, I ask, is there a connection between the spot a tornado hits and the morality of the people on that spot at a given moment? Are tornadoes a part of a cause and effect world? Are they the consequence of something? Before I answer, come with me to the book of Job.

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