A 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:
- Persons are more valuable than things
- Infinite persons are more valuable than finite persons
- Complete persons are more valuable than incomplete persons
- Actual persons are more valuable than potential persons
- *Potential persons are more valuable than actual things
- Many persons are more valuable than a few persons
- 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.
With the start of its 6th season, Games of Thrones has been trending on social media. Game of Thrones is a popular television show that is based on a series of fantasy novels written by George R. R. Martin.
The main pot of the show is the civil war between three rival families, the Starks of Winterfell, the Lannisters of Casterly Rock, and the Baratheons of Dragonstone. The story line incorporates swordplay, magic, and mythical dragons, as the backdrop in the struggle for power as each family endeavors to lay claim to the throne and to establish their kingdom.
While I have never read the books or watched the series on HBO, I know there is conflict among existing kingdoms—the kingdoms of light and darkness; and, it takes a certain amount of grit and courage to live walk out of the darkness and into the light. Paul addressed this issue in his letter to the Colossians:
As you live this new life, we pray that you will be strengthened from God’s boundless resources, so that you will find yourselves able to pass through any experience and endure it with courage. You will even be able to thank God in the midst of pain and distress because you are privileged to share the lot of those who are living in the light. For we must never forget that he rescued us from the power of darkness, and re-established us in the kingdom of his beloved Son, that is, in the kingdom of light. For it is by his Son alone that we have been redeemed and have had our sins forgiven. (Colossians 1:11-14 ~J.B. PHILLIPS).
Never allow anyone to tell you they you have no right to this kingdom. Jesus said He came to His own, but His own people did not receive Him. But to all who have received Him—those who believe in His name—He has given the right to become God’s children (John 1:11-12 ~NET).
When you walk with Jesus, you have been given the right to:
- Be God’s Child (John 1:12)
- Be redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14)
- Be a co-worker with God (6:1)
- Be a citizen of Heaven (Philippians 3:20)
- Be able to come boldly to the throne of grace, so you can obtain mercy and find grace to help in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16)
Life is more than just a game of King on the Mountain as you battle to claim a throne. It’s a real fight, and you have a God who stands by your side:
Your arm is mighty. Your hand is strong. Your right hand is lifted high.
Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne. Mercy and truth stand in front of you. Blessed are the people who know how to praise you.
They walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. ~Psalm 89:13-15
On a recent trip to the lake, I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ll give them to you in reverse order: The ugly was the trash that someone had thrown into the lake; the bad was the wasp that kept buzzing my head; and, the good was the honey bee who was pollinating flowers and gathering nectar
My Great-Aunt Fern was a beekeeper, and it is from her that I acquired my love for honey. Whenever I’d visit Fern, I usually left with more than just a jug of honey; I would also leave with some new fact about her precious bees.
I remember Fern telling me: “A bee flaps its wings about 230 times a second while it hovers over a flower.”
When I saw bees hovering over flowers yesterday, I thought of Aunt Fern and the significance of one second: One second of life passes into history in the time it takes you to say: “One thousand one.”
Take another second or two to read these one second statistics. Every second:
- 8,613 tweets are posted on Twitter
- 1,771 photos are uploaded to Instagram
- 1,669 “phone” calls are made on Skype
- 46,610 searches are made on Google
- 96,225 videos are watched on YouTube
- 2,372,740 emails are sent
One second is a brief period of time; yet it’s a moment of eternal significance:
- Psalm 144:4: “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”
- Psalm 90:10: “The days of our lives are seventy years; and, if by reason of strength they are eighty years; yet, their boast is only labor and sorrow.”
Perhaps it’s time to take a second to do a firsthand review of your life, and compare your perspective to Paul’s:
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] ~Philippians 3:10 ~Amplified Version
Four years ago, Peyton Manning joined the Denver Broncos. Before he stepped on the field for the first time, he first waked through the locker room to meet the
In this era of super-sized egos, Manning was a rare gem. He loved and respected the game, and it showed on that April day in 2012 when he shook hands with the guys on the practice squad, the backups, and the starters. Every one of the Broncos already knew who he was, but Peyton wanted to know each of them.
Most people who follow the NFL were pretty sure Manning’s career was over, so no one was surprised when the news began to leak out on Saturday night. To show respect for his fellow Broncos, Manning had sent each of them a text before his final decision to retire became public.
As I think about the way this famous man has managed his life, I’m reminded of a couple of Scriptures:
- Romans 12:3: I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.
- James 4:10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
- 1 Peter 5:6: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time
I hope aspiring athletes will remember Manning less for his signature “Omaha” and more for the manner in which he has respected the game and the way he continues to invest in the lives of others.
When I woke up this morning, to the rhythm and words of an old gospel hymn. The four-line chorus reminded me of a precious truth:
Now I belong to Jesus,
Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone,
But for eternity.
Of the 19 words in that refrain, the word belong stood out more than the rest. It occurred to me that when you belong to Jesus, you should be longing for a relationship with Him.
During a debate with some skeptics, Jesus spoke of the key to this relationship: The one who belongs to God listens and responds to God’s words. You don’t listen and respond, because you don’t belong to God (John 8:47).
When you listen and respond to God’s words it’s evidence that you belong to God, and it’s the first note in a harmonious relationship with Him. Paul spoke of this relationship, and who you are in Jesus:
- Ephesians 1:7—In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
- Ephesians 1:11—In Him also we have obtained an inheritance
- Ephesians 3:12—We have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
- Colossians 2:9-10—As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving, and you are complete in Him
When the feelings of doubt and despair try to take root in your heart, remember that you belong to Jesus. His desire is to have a relationship with you, and He will watch over you as a shepherd does his flock.
Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and we belong to Him;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
Everything about Peyton Manning speaks of a seasoned professional. His off season regime, the extra hours of preparation during preseason, his pregame warm-up drills, and even the carb-filled meal he eats before the game, are all legendary.
Ask anyone on the team, especially the rookies and newbies, if Manning’s focus is just on Peyton, and they will tell you that no one works harder than Peyton; and, no one works them harder than Peyton.
Manning knows he must prepare himself; however, he also knows his preparation is inadequate and incomplete if it doesn’t include the team as a whole.
If you listened to the post game interview, the philosophy of the old pro was heard in the pronoun he used. Manning’s vocabulary was not filled with “me, myself, and nobody else;” instead, he spoke of “our” team, “our” effort, “our” coaches, and “our” win. That’s not to say he never used the word “I.”
With a thought to the sky box where his family was huddled, Peyton said, “I want to give my wife a kiss and hug my family.” While the win was nice, it paled in comparison to the love he has for his wife and family.
A serious neck injury sidelined Manning during the 2011 season, and it required a series of three surgeries. Peyton thought his career was over, but Ashley, his wife, encouraged him to give it one more try. Her urgings were not because the family needed money or because she wanted her husband to take some more bone-crushing hits. She knew Peyton would have always wondered if he could have come back and would have regretted that he had not tried.
When the Lombardi trophy was given to the Denver Broncos and they were crowned champions of Super Bowl 50, it was because of teamwork. The defense played an excellent game; the offensive lineman blocked; the receivers ran their routes; and Peyton called a strategic game with his trademark “Omaha” checkoff.
While I watched the game yesterday I kept thinking of Solomon’s teamwork philosophy, and I think they’re a fitting conclusion to this post:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).”
Proverbs is the one word suggestion I made last night. The first Wednesday of each month is a night I have reserved to meet with the Elders of the church, and last night I suggested that we focus on reading through the book of Proverbs during the month of February.
The practical wisdom that is found in this book provides life principles to help guide your life. Some of them act as “knots” that provide strength and security, while others are “nots” that warn about loose living:
- Principle 1–Let Not: Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart (Proverbs 3:3).
- Principe 2—Lean Not: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5–6).
- Principle 3—Lust Not: Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids (Proverbs 6:25).
- Principle 4—Love Not: Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread (Proverbs 20:13).
- Principle 5—Labor Not: Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven (Proverbs 23:4–5).
- Principle 6—Look Not: Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moves itself aright. At the last it bites like a snake. Your eyes shall behold strange women, and your heart shall utter perverse things (Proverbs 23:31–33).
Proverbs is a gold mine that is rich in principles, and it is worthy of your attention. Join me in reading through this book during February.
My child, if you receive my words, and store up my commands within you, by making your ear attentive to wisdom, and by turning your heart to understanding, indeed, if you call out for discernment—raise your voice for understanding—if you seek it like silver, and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge about God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He stores up effective counsel for the upright, and is like a shield for those who live with integrity, to guard the paths of the righteous and to protect the way of his pious ones. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity—every good way. For wisdom will enter your heart, and moral knowledge will be attractive to you. ~Proverbs 2:1-10
Several years ago Phillip Bump wrote an article for The Atlantic that examined the Christmas Eve workload of the jolly old elf. Using data from the CIA, Bump focused his article on Santa’s deliveries to the world’s 526,000,000 Christian kids 14 years of age and younger.
To get a present to all of these kids, Bump determined that Santa would need to deliver presents at a rate of 22 million kids an hour for the 24 hours of Christmas Eve. If you run the figures on your calculator, you’ll find that equates to 365,000 kids a minute or about 6,100 a second. Not to worry though, we are talking about Santa.
Do you remember your perceptions of Christmas and Santa when you were a child? Did your eager anticipation of Christmas consume you?
I remember how quickly I would hurry home after school, so I could watch Santa’s Workshop in black and white on an old TV. The days from Thanksgiving to Christmas would pass by with the agonizing speed of a turtle.
As a child, I thought Christmas would never come; and, truthfully, I gave very little thought to its significance. The desire that I had for the brightly wrapped gifts carefully placed beneath the bright lights and icicles hanging on the Christmas tree, had little to do with the Christ of Christmas.
So, what is Christmas? It certainly isn’t big box stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, or the pushing, shoving, and elbowing of frenzied shopping. Christmas is the birth of Hope. It is a time to step away from the hustle and bustle of the mobs and the malls to find a moment of solitude to reflect on the miracle of the manger.
Christmas is that day long ago when Jesus stepped down from the glories of heaven to be born in a lowly manger; to live a sinless life; to die the death of the cross; to rise again on the third day; and to return to heaven to intercede on our behalf.
The essence of that babe from Bethlehem is summarized by Paul in the colorful language of I Timothy 3:16:
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: Jesus appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
May you have a Merry Christmas is my wish for you.
With Christmas in the air and the holiday preparations underfoot, how are you doing? Are you feeling overwhelmed by your commitments and underwhelmed by your resources?
According to a survey done by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, you’re not the only one who feels this way. Here are the Top 10 things that people say they dislike at Christmas:
- Crowds and long lines
- Gaining weight
- Going into debt
- Gift shopping
- Seeing certain relatives
- Seasonal music
- Disappointing gifts
- Having to attend holiday parties or events
- Holiday tipping
Even the Psalmist admitted to feeling overwhelmed: If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your loyal love, O Lord, supports me. When worries threaten to overwhelm me, your soothing touch makes me happy (Psalm 94:18-19).
If you’re needing a little soothing, the Psalms reassure you that God will hear the sound of your pleading, and He is your strength and shield (Psalm 28:6-9); and He has promised to be present in the thick of danger, and to preserve your life from the anger of your enemies (Psalm 138:7).