Killing the Innocent to Save the Innocent

harambe-22A trip to the zoo can be an adventure of expecting the unexpected.  Whether it’s the chimps, the giraffes, or the elephants, somewhere at some time, one of these animals will do something unusual to the delight of the visitors.  No one, however, could have expected the series of events that occurred on Saturday and resulted in the death of, Harambe, a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo.

When a 4-year-old boy climbed under a fence and fell into the gorilla’s enclosure,  Harambe, grabbed him and dragged him around his pen.  Even though the western lowland silverback gorilla is an endangered species, the zoo’s emergency response team shot him to save the child.

Some posts on social media have been angry outbursts directed towards zoo officials and the parents of the 4-year old boy. Some think the gorilla should have been spared at the risk of the child.

While it’s sad that zoo officials had to shoot the gorilla, I think they took the right course of action.  The question for you is: How do you make decisions. Do you have a decision tree that you follow or some hierarchy that directs you?

Dr. Norm Geisler has developed some principles to help guide him, and he refers to them as the Seven Principles of Ethical Hierarchy:

  1. Persons are more valuable than things
  2. Infinite persons are more valuable than finite persons
  3. Complete persons are more valuable than incomplete persons
  4. Actual persons are more valuable than potential persons
  5. *Potential persons are more valuable than actual things
  6. Many persons are more valuable than a few persons
  7. Personal acts which promote personhood are better than those which do not

Geisler’s Seven Principles, support the actions of the zoo’s officials:  Humans have more value than things or non-humans.  As much as I like my non-human dog, I recognize that humans are moral beings and animals are amoral; moral beings have rights, but non-human, amoral creatures do not.

I spend more time with my dog that I do most human beings; watch his diet closer than I watch mine; and, I’ve been known to cry when one of these, magnificent creatures dies; however, when choosing between the life of a 4-year old child and a non-human, I’ll spare the child every time.



*Some people draw the conclusion that Geisler’s view seems to imply that a developing child is of no value and that abortion on demand is justified.  This is not the case; Geisler has said: “An unborn baby is a work of God that He is building into His own likeness,” and he cites Psalm 139:13-15, which speaks of God’s providential care for the unborn.

The Cadence of His Voice

cadenceSome people misinterpret the 10 Commandments and the principles of the New Testament as rigid walls erected by God to deny them access to the pleasures of life.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Whenever God says, “Thou shalt not,” it’s to keep you from stubbing your toe or skinning a knee.  Every time He say, “Thou shalt,” He’s inviting you to skip with joy and whistle a tune of happiness.

When you hear the cadence of His voice and walk in step with Him, you discover that He is your strength and shield.

Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore, my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him (Psalm 28:7).


integSometimes I’m asked to comment on the ills of society or to meet with an individual who is in need of counseling.  The common denominator that frequently links the two is a lack of integrity.  Whether it’s a politician, a musician, an actor, or an individual, the lack of integrity can be at the root of their problems.

Earlier today, I read about a sting conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that focused on sex trafficking.  Two ministers were arrested in a sex for money scheme. The actions of these men is indicative of their lack of integrity.

Integrity is defined as an “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”  It is an important trait that should be highly valued, and it is a part of Warren Buffet’s screening process: “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

Buffet’s quote reminds me of the people of Berea and the manner in which they validated the ministry of Paul and Silas—they did an integrity check:

“The people of Berea were more receptive than they had been in Thessalonica. They warmly and enthusiastically welcomed the message and then, day by day, would check for themselves to see if what they heard from Paul and Silas was truly in harmony with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11).”

The Bereans didn’t take the teaching of Paul and Silas at face value.  They checked it to see if it adhered to the principles of Scripture.

Searching the Scriptures was a daily habit of these people, and I suggest that it’s a practice you should adopt as well.  When you read a passage of Scripture, I recommend that you ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • Is there a promise I can claim?
  • What lesson can I learn?
  • Is there a command I should obey?
  • Is there a sin I should avoid?
  • Is there a blessing I can share?

These questions will help you focus on the principles of the Bible and apply them to your life, so read them through; think them clear; pray them in; live them out; and pass them on.

Words of a Particular Kind

154451011How long would it take you to make a summary statement of your life?  How many words do you think it would take?

Robert Frost said he could sum up everything he had learned about life in three words: “It goes on.”  There’s a lot of truth to what Frost said, but it’s also true that what you say can determine how far you go in life and how your life “goes on.”

Mother Teresa was more concerned with the nature of your words than she was with the number of them: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”  David, like Mother Teresa, was well aware of the power of the spoken word, and he prayed: “May my words and my thoughts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my sheltering rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).”

When I think about David’s prayer, I’m left with a couple of questions:

  • Are my words and thoughts acceptable to God?
  • If not, what can I do to make them more acceptable?

Joshua gave the answer to these questions, when he said: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success (Joshua 1:8).”

When you think about your words and thoughts, I encourage you to contrast them to the principles of God’s Word in general, and these words of Paul in Particular: “Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29 ~The Voice).”

Going Full Circle: Agony After Victory

horseI can still remember Jim McKay’s famous tagline: “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” It was an invitation to stop what I was doing and to watch the weekly edition of ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  McKay’s famous words went full circle this past Saturday in the world of horse racing.

Trainer Francis Campitelli was enjoying the “thrill of victory’ as he watched Homeboykris cross the finish line in first place. A short time later, Campitelli’s thrill turned to agony as his horse collapsed and died while walking to the stable.

This sad incident lends credence to Solomon’s observation in Proverbs 27:24: “Riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.”

If you know anything about horse racing, you should know that fame and fortune can be fleeting; it’s a dangerous sport that is prone to deadly accidents. In 2012, the New York Times reported that each week 24 horses had died on racetracks from 2009 to 2012.

I doubt the Apostle Paul was thinking of horse racing when he spoke of the uncertainties of life; however, his statement is interesting: “Tell those who are rich in this age not to be arrogant and not to place their confidence in anything as uncertain as riches. Instead, let them place their confidence in God, who lavishly provides us with everything for our enjoyment (I Timothy 6:17).”

Paul’s words to Timothy were no aggrandizement of the truth; they were based on a statement that Jesus had made: “First and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also (Matthew 6:33 ~Amplified Bible).”

I’ll close with Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Jesus’ logic: “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers — most of which are never even seen — don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you (The Message)?”

Strength, Confidence, and Courage

Courageous-posterAfter the death of Moses, Joshua took the leadership reins of the Israelites and guided them along the path to the Promised Land.  In one of his first speeches, he admonished them, saying: “Only be strong and very courageous to ensure that you obey all the instructions that my servant Moses gave you—turn neither to the right nor to the left from it—so that you may succeed wherever you go (Joshua 1:7).”

Joshua’s call to courage reminds me of the words of Alfred North Whitehead: True courage is not the brutal force of vulgar heroes, but the firm resolve of virtue and reason.

Some people act courageously because they assess a situation and move forward with confidence in their abilities.  There are others who are just as confident, but for a different reason; their available resources give them a sense of boldness.

David is a good example of both forms of courage.  In Psalm 27, he said: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Who is there to fear? The Lord is my life’s fortress. Who is there to be afraid of? Evildoers closed in on me to tear me to pieces. My opponents and enemies stumbled and fell. Even though an army sets up camp against me, my heart will not be afraid. Even though a war breaks out against me, I will still have confidence in the Lord.

Courage, as David used it in this Psalm, is resource-based. He speaks of his trust in the presence and power of God.

Earlier in his life, David displayed courage that was focused more on his own ability.  This was the  skill he used to kill the wild animals as attacked his sheep.

There may be times when you doubt your ability, but you should never doubt God’s availability.  Just as God was present to walk David through the trials of life, He is present for you as well:

  • God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble—Psalm 46:1
  • God is the shield of Your salvation, and His right hand will support you—Psalm 18:35
  • God will deliver you because He delights in you—Psalm 18:19
  • The Lord is near the brokenhearted, and He saves those crushed in spirit—Psalm 34:18

While there’s not a single one of us who can look to the future and know for certain what challenges await us, each of us can be confident in knowing that God is waiting to guide us.

Solomon believed this, and he wisely said: “The heart of man devises his way, but the LORD directs his steps . . . He that follows after righteousness and mercy shall find life, righteousness, and honor.”

Never Never Land or The Land of Never

never-never-landWhere are you living?  I don’t mean the place where you park your car or the address that your GPS takes you to when you touch the HOME button.  Where do you live in your thoughts, fantasies, worries and wants? Is it Never Never Land or the Land of Never?

Thanks to Peter Pan, most people have some knowledge of the fictional place called Never Never Land. It’s that place that’s fixed within the framework of your imagination where everything is so wonderfully pleasant and perfect that is far beyond the scope of reality.

The Land of Never is also an imaginary place, but it’s one of a harsher existence.  The boundaries of the Land of Never are marked by signs that reflect a contempt for self, others, and the truth:

  • Sign #1: I will never be loved or respected.
  • Sign #2: I will never get a job.
  • Sign #3: I will never be able to go home again.
  • Sign #4: God will never forgive me.
  • Sign #5: My life will never get better.

If you believe the lies of the Land of Never, you will be chained to your past and you’ll never live in the present.  Words like “never” and “always” are usually void of the truth, and they’re lies that limit you.

The only “never” that really matters is found in Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

If you’re living in the Land of Never, isn’t it time to pack your bag, move out, and start abiding in Christ? Jesus said, “If you continue (abide) in My word, you really are My disciples.  You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).”

As you begin the move, I encourage you to focus on a promise found in the Psalms:

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Psalm 9:9-10

Happiness: A Key or a Principle

keyHe’s no locksmith, but Michael Porter thinks he has discovered an important key—the key to happiness. Porter, a Harvard economist, has been researching social process and how to measure it.

Through his research, Porter has found the key to a person’s happiness is the opportunity to change and better one’s life:  Porter’s research suggests this “is a crucial but elusive ingredient to a smoothly functioning society—or what, at the individual level, one might call happiness (Quartz).”

Another researcher, Dr. Stephen Post, has studied the different components of happiness for several years.  He believes the key to genuine happiness is found in living the Golden Rule.

When you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, there’s a good chance that you’re a person who volunteers to help those in need. The willingness to help others can enhance your sense of well-being.

A study found that 41% of people who volunteer an average of 100 hours a year report a greater sense of well-being, saying that volunteering

  • 68%: “has made me feel physically healthier
  • 92%: “enriches my sense of purpose in life
  • 73%: “lowers my stress levels,”
  • 96%: “makes people happier,”
  • 77%: “improves emotional health,”
  • 78% also reported that volunteering helps with recovery “from loss and disappointment”

Typically, people who give of themselves to others have less trouble sleeping,  and they experience less anxiety, less helplessness & hopelessness.  They also report better friendships and social networks, and sense of control over chronic conditions than people who are more self-centered.

In his, It’s Good To Be Good, research, Post says:  ….as one achieves a certain shift from selfishness to concern for others, benefits accrue.   His research suggests that a person may feel good when he gives a financial gift to an individual or a cause; however, the benefits of helping others are most pronounced in direct person-to-person “hands on” activities.

The key research by Porter and Post simply validates the principle posited by Jesus over a thousand years ago:  Treat others the same way you want them to treat, and you both will be blessed.

When we embrace the words of Jesus and begin to live the Golden Rule, a satisfying life is within our reach.  According to Post, one way to elevate happiness is to reach out in helping behaviors and contribute to the lives of others. That happiness in turn elevates giving, which in turn elevates happiness. The two fuel each other in a circular fashion – a classic feedback loop.

The words of Dr. Albert Schweitzer leave us with a thought worth thinking: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve

KKK Plus 17

maxWhat thought comes to your mind when you think of a K or a series of them?

  • If you are a fan of the Kansas City Royals, you probably think of Kauffman Stadium when you think of a K.
  • When most people think of KKK, the Ku Klux Klan comes to mind.
  • The KKK plus 17 may have never entered your mind until today.


The 20-K club is one of the world’s most exclusive groups, and it consists of just 4 members.  The 4th member was added last night in an amazing performance by Max Scherzer–he struck out 20 Detroit Tigers last night!  When Scherzer trotted off the mound last night, he walked into the record books, and his name now appears alongside of Randy Johnson, Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens (who recorded 20 K’s twice).

While Scherzer’s 20 K performance gained him admission into an exclusive club, it’s not the most significant membership in the world. The one of most significance is not entered by performance, but through a person—Jesus Christ:

Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  ~Romans 10:13

The K in the case of Romans 10:13 is the Kairos.  The ancient Greek’s defined the right or opportune moment in which a person could do something or make a change as their Kairos moment.   The present is always the Karios moment to join the “whosoever” club:

“Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day might bring (Proverbs 27:1).”

What Am I Missing?

life-of-faithWhen I hear a puzzling story or a comment about someone or some event, I wonder about the specifics of the situation and ask:

  • What happened?
  • What are the facts?
  • What details am I missing?

The mention of the name Demas stokes the fire of my curiosity.  Of the three passages that refer to Demas, two are positive and one is negative:

  • Philemon 23-25: “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
  • Colossians 4:14: “Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:10: “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”

What happened to Demas?  How could he go from being a co-laborer with the Apostle Paul to being classified as a Christian who went AWOL?  Had his Christian experience been a mere dalliance with no true alliance to Christ?

Was Demas like the sunshine soldier that Thomas Paine spoke of when he addressed the difficult times in which he lived?

 “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country.” 

Contrary to what many people believe, living a life of faith is not for the frail of heart.  Paul suggests that it takes guts, courage and backbone:

  • I Timothy 6:11-12: Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.
  • 2 Timothy 2:3 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
  • I Corinthians 9:24-25: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
  • Hebrews 12:1-2: “we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

Demas dismissed the principled and dedicated life that Paul modeled, but a man named Jim Elliot embraced it.  Sixty years ago, Elliot was martyred on the mission fields of Ecuador. A daily practice of his was to write in his journal, and his notes give a glimpse of his dedication to Christ:

  • “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
  • “Rest in this: it is His business to lead, command, impel, send, call or whatever you want to call it. It is your business to obey, follow, move, respond, or what have you.”
  • “God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life that I may burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life but a full one like You, Lord Jesus.”

When you consider your life and the faith factor, what do you see.  Is your Christian walk little more than a dalliance of dedication, or does it reflect a true alliance with Jesus Christ?