Thursday, August 14, 2014

They fought our battles, now they fight theirs . . .

Photo Credit - U.S. Army

We sign them up. Promises of bright futures, benefits, bonuses, a military that will cherish and be there for them. 

They get their uniforms, their weapons, their training on how to kill and not be killed. 

We send them to war. MRE's. Thrills. Tragedies. Boredom. Chill. Sweat. Camaraderie. Dirt. Always dirt. Care packages of toothpaste and deodorant. They volunteer.

We tear them from their families, and then war and the system chew them up and spit them out. Changed men and women walk off the planes. Back to something that used to be home.

Banners wave. Welcome homes and red, white and blue and little children running into multicammed fathers and mothers. Smiles all round.

They go home to places they don't fit anymore and into the streets of America that offer cold sidewalks and averted gazes. We equip them to fight our battles, but discard them when they need help to fight their own.

Without their uniforms, they are just another body who can't quite get it together. 

But that body stood up, stood in the way, absorbed the stress, the sweat, the fears, the horrors, the loneliness, for teenagers and mothers and fathers and business men and women and caseworkers and secretaries and fast food workers and salespeople and salon owners and pig farmers and little girls just learning to walk and little boys running across playgrounds and couples at the altar and mountain climbing tourists and professors and songwriters and builders and anyone in America who has ever had a dream. They stood between us and . . . 

They - hardened, hurting, proud, confused, independent and sometimes broken servicemembers - stood between Americans and fanatic murderers who cried "Death! Death to you all!" 

Dignity. Respect. Appreciation.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Wolves among Sheep - Why Are We Paying People to Mislead Us

Picture by George Gastin

I'm saddened by our spiritual leaders today, by many who have the Bible at their fingertips, who are paid to study and commune with God and then teach. ... Why do they tickle our ears and give us only what we want to hear? Why do they seek to draw crowds and the laud and praise of men while God's face saddens? Why is success calculated by numbers, persons and monetary? Why is it about what God can do for us, and not about who he is and how we can become a living sacrifice for him? 

What would that look like? If for one minute we stopped and fully contemplated what truly believing in God looks like, that he is who he claims to be, wouldn't we be down on our knees, quiet, worshiping? Not this gaudy, "Claim Jesus and live the American dream" that I hear so often. If we truly believed (think about it - just stop and think about even one of the claims of Jesus in the Bible - like the one where He rose from the dead, or the one where He created the world, or the one where he gave sight to blind people, legs to cripples, food to the hungry, life to the dead), wouldn't our fears dissipate? Wouldn't our worries climb the stairs to rest on his shoulders? 

And yet, we hear spiritual leaders, mike to mouth, hyping up a crowd on "claiming Jesus's power for ourselves" and like blind, itching-ear sheep, we follow believing in our impassioned moments of euphoria. Jesus has power and he blesses and uses it in our lives, but this lemming rush towards getting that power for ourselves, for our own benefit, reminds me of Simon trying to buy that power in Acts 8:18. Slow down. It's not about the American dream. ... (Quick disclaimer - this is not in regard to the church I attend.)