What if I stumble?

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today
Is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips
Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.
That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.

Preface to “What if I Stumble” by DC Talk

Click image for "What If I Stumble" by DC Talk Youtube Video

Click image for “What If I Stumble” by DC Talk YouTube Video

So, I ask my friend, “When you’re driving and a car pulls in front of you, do you ever speed up to make them think they might not make it in time and then drive really close to their bumper just to scare them a little?”

“Oh, no, I’d never do that,” she says.

“Me, neither,” I say.

I  should probably remove the fish sticker from my car. It’s not effective advertising. My flawed character often does more harm than good toward promoting a patient and merciful God.

A pastor friend offered strange comfort.  He shared that being a fisher of men is sometimes a stinky job — that serving the church is often “more like working in a fish-cleaning shack than a seafood restaurant.”

He reminded me that it’s God’s job to clean the “catch”, but He doesn’t always clean us immediately — before things get smelly.  He said it’s easy to mistakenly assume that church is a refuge for perfect fillets, but you won’t find them there — or anywhere.  We’re all on the same journey where everyone needs continual cleaning — but we can’t clean ourselves.  He added that church provides the best scale removal opportunities through the supernatural grace that comes from the sacraments, prayer, worship, study, and fellowship.  And, the cleaning service is free.

My reverend friend was confronted by an angry man who said he never went to church because it was full of hypocrites. The pastor replied, “Oh no, it isn’t full.  We can always hold one more.”

Seems there’s room in the net for everyone–even for stinky, crazy, tailgating grandmas.

Twenty-eight souls

Hurricane Sandy Tribute

This October we mourned the plight of the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Sandra Humphrey. Click above for the news story. Then click on her name in the blog text for Brian and Sandy’s tribute from their family and Sandy’s web site, where you can learn more about this beloved and inspiring author.

This Thanksgiving our MN SCBWI members mourned the death of children’s book author, Sandy Humphrey, in a house fire.  And now, another “Sandy” draws us to our knees — the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Our sympathy, love, and prayers reach out to offer consolation to those affected by all three tragedies.

All three events have impacted us — yet, this most recent tragedy cuts us deepest.  When a human hurts another human it hurts everyone.  When a human kills defenseless children, it steals life, peace, and joy from all humanity.

After Hurricane Sandy, we could offer tangible help with rebuilding.  When Sandy Humphrey and her husband, Brian, died, we could find comfort that no malice was inflicted upon them.  But, there’s an innocence lost in Connecticut that can’t be recovered.  In light of such unfathomable violence, what can we do?

Monsignor Stuart Swetland advises, “Hatred is an absence of love.  To overcome hatred, replace it with love.”

This might have worked in a feel-good movie with the Staypuff Marshmallow Man leading the way, but how can we do this in real life?

CNN interview of Robbie Parker

Many of us saw an example of extraordinary love in a television news interview Robbie Parker, the young father of Emilie, one of the six-year-old shooting victims.  He immediately looked past his own pain and offered his deepest condolences to all families directly affected, including the family of the perpetrator.  He selflessly noted that he couldn’t imagine what they must be going through.  Then he noted that Emilie would have been one of the first to stand before them and offer comfort.  She was that kind of compassionate person, “not because of any parenting that my wife and I could have done…but because those were the gifts given to her by her Heavenly Father…The world is a better place because she has been in it…I’m so blessed to be her dad.”Such mercy and humility…It takes your breath away.

Those who believe in the power of prayer for the deceased will pray for the 27 victims.  But, this father’s empathy challenges us to reach even deeper.  We can and should pray for the soul of the perpetrator as well. Who knows the state of his heart? Only an irreparably wounded, emotionally bankrupt soul could do such a horrific act.

Yes, let’s hug the children and teachers in our lives, but let’s not stop there.  Let’s shake the hand of a stranger and offer an ear to the lonely.  Who knows what troubled soul may need to be filled with love today.

The Voice  Sandy Hook Tribute

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen