Water of Life

People are more focused on the weather and the lack of moisture then they have been for a long time. I inquired last week about the water levels at El Dorado Lake and was told we are down more than 4 foot.

Even though we are in a drought, our water woes are nothing compared to the global need for water. The following facts are from water.org:
• More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world.
• Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours.
• Of the 60 million people added to the world’s towns and cities every year, most move to informal settlements (i.e. slums) with no sanitation facilities.
• 780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people.
• An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day.
• More people have a mobile phone than a toilet.

Knowing that water was a precious commodity in His time, Jesus used it to illustrate a truth: Everyone who drinks this water will become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water that I will give them will never become thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give them will become in them a spring that gushes up to eternal life (John 4).

The next time you open the faucet to get a drink of water, think of the less fortunate around the world; and, think also of the Living Water.

Death In a Dumpster

As I watched the news last night, I heard the disturbing story of a dead baby that was discovered in a dumpster at the Eastgate Shopping Mall in Wichita. This story reminded me of an incident in October of 2010 when a live baby was found in a dumpster in Emporia.

How should society react to events such as these? Has there been a violation or transgression of some standard, moral, or ethic?

It seems that whenever morals and ethics are called into question, people today call for tolerance. My questions is this: How can we determine the how, when, what, and where of tolerance?

In his book True Tolerance, University of Texas professor, Jay Budziszewski helps to define the issue: The specific virtue of true tolerance has to do with the fact that sometimes we put up with things we rightly consider mistaken, wrong, harmful, offensive, or in some other way not worth approval.

The Free Online dictionary defines tolerance as: The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others; Leeway for variation from a standard; The permissible deviation from a specified value of a structural dimension, often expressed as a percent.

Notice this portion of the definition: The permissible deviation from a specified value. When a machinist makes something, he has the standard and the allowable tolerance. Anything that deviates too much from the specified standard will not function properly or will breakdown too quickly.

How do we apply this to the present social context in which we live? How do we know that a mother is wrong when she leaves her baby in a dumpster? Most of us would agree that an act such as this is morally irrehensible.

To say that some things are wrong and that some things are right is to say that there is some standard to which we can appeal. Does society define its standards or do individuals determine the rightness or wrongness of their choices.

Once again: How can we determine the how, when, what, and where of tolerance? I know how I approach this, and I would be interesting to read your comments.

The Healing Power of Touch

Just three insignificant letters form in the mind and reverberate off the vocal chords to ask a painful question: Why? This question is not asked in our moments of joy and happiness; it is in the seconds of sorrow that seem to last for eternity that we ask: Why?

Due to the nature of my work, I am often present when someone is overcome by the power of some gut wrenching and heart rending tragedy or trial. While a person is languishing in the fog of grief, he may turn a deaf ear to the cold language of theology, and at the same time listen for the warm sound of the first language he learned—the language of touch.

In Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, referred to touch as “our richest means of emotional expression” throughout life.

Research conducted by The University of Wisconsin and published in the National Academy of Sciences, found a link between children who had been deprived of close physical contact and lower levels of social-bonding hormones. The research seemed to indicate that the first language of touch or infant cuddling is vital to a child’s emotional well-being.

Evidence suggests that a warm touch can trigger the release of oxytocin. This hormone does a couple of things: It helps to create a sensation of trust, and it also helps to reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Does this mean there is a biological benefit to burden-bearing words of Jesus in Matthew 11? Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light

The next time you or a friend get punched in the gut with the combined power of three little insignificant letters, W-H-Y, remember there is some spiritual as well as biological benefit to embracing this principle of Scripture: Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ . . . as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6).

The Infamous and the Inconspicuous

Earlier in the week, the body of the infamous was claimed by the inconspicuous. The body of Adam Lanza was claimed for burial by some unknown person.

Long after we have forgotten the name of this deranged mass murderer, we will still remember the lives that he cut short. The tragic truth is that Lanza altered the lives of the survivors robbing some of their innocence and wounding the hearts of all associated with this day of infamy.

Who was it that wanted to give Lanza a proper burial? Was it his father, brother, or some relative or friend? Did this person claim the body out of a sense of duty, devotion, or love?

I will probably never know the name of this inconspicuous claimant; however, I do know this: His actions run parallel to an event involving another person who also desired to be inconspicuous. The man I speak of was named Nicodemus. In the third chapter of the Gospel of John we learn that Nicodemus came to Jesus during the night and under the cover of darkness.

The actions of Nicodemus were motivated by his curiosity surrounding the messianic claim of Jesus Christ. When he questioned the salvation rhetoric of Jesus, he was told that he must be born again.

The inconspicuous Nicodemus is not seen again until just after the infamous events surrounding the crucifixion. Nicodemus laid aside his cloak of secrecy and went public with his faith. Motivated by love and devotion, he claimed the body of Jesus and prepared it for burial.

The contrast between the lives of Lanza and the Lord are as deep and wide as the Mississippi River is long. Lanza died as a guilty man with the blood of the innocent on his hands. The Lord Jesus died as an innocent man shedding his blood for the guilty.

I hope this is enough to keep you thinking.