Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Bridging the Faith Gap Between Old and Young

I live in a time when many young people seem desperate and hopeless. What can I say to them?
Who am I to tell them anything?

I am not young, but I have a God who has kept me from becoming desperate when I confronted challenges I never anticipated, challenges that scared me.

How can I communicate to much younger people the reality, hope, and welcoming spirit of Jesus Christ?

One way I can communicate Christ is having joy and peace when confronting the constraints and trials of old age. This joy and peace is only supplied by Christ himself; it is not something I can conjure up.

When I lack peace and joy I can pray for the same assurance that God gave Joshua, the leader of ancient Israel, when he succeeded Moses:

“Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you … Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” * 

God gave this assurance to Joshua. I am a successor in faith to Joshua. I have inherited this assurance.

I remember a young nurse I met at church. She was working in the ICU** of a local hospital. She said, when describing how she came to believe in Jesus Christ, that she had noticed a difference in the way Christians die.

I ask myself, who has fewer powers of persuasion, fewer ways of influencing people to believe in the reality and goodness of Christ than a person who is living their last moments? Yet Christians surrendering life in the ICU had pointed this young woman to Jesus Christ by the manner of their dying.

If Christians can influence people to seek Christ by the way they live their final moments, then surely I can exhibit the goodness of Christ while I am still up and on my feet, living out old age.


*   Joshua 1, verses 5–9
**  ICU-intensive care unit

Doug Smith, Jan. 23, 2019

Friday, January 18, 2019

Should We Let Fear Govern Immigration Policy?

We should not let fear govern our attitude toward immigration or immigrants, whether they are legal or illegal.

Fear makes us Americans act out of character and pushes us to ignore the real issues, leaving the problems worse.

Illegal immigrants are valuable human beings and their disorderly influx into the United States presents an important problem that must be solved.

Many if not most of these immigrants want what I want - to live and work in a free country. It’s best expressed in the words of a federal district judge I stood in front of in a deportation hearing years ago. I was the prosecutor, seeking deportation of the man who stood on crutches in front of the bench.

Before pronouncing judgment the judge said, “I have a hard time punishing someone who wants to come and live in the country I love.”

Having said this, he applied the law, releasing the man from the local jail where his prosthetic leg had been stolen, and deporting him home to Mexico.

My plan? Stop listening to politicians who act as if the illegal immigrants are exclusively drug dealers, violent criminals, and human traffickers. I imagine most of these immigrants are ordinary people seeking a decent life. 

All the immigrants I met when my wife and I lived in Texas from 2005 to 2016 were extraordinarily diligent and competent. In my mind the challenge we face is assuring an orderly way into our country for immigrants like them, according to our country’s needs, and assuring an accurate way of screening out the portion of humanity that has no respect for people or the law.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Does Heaven Have a Wall?

By permission of author Jeremy A. Watts, as posted on Facebook™
Saturday, January 12, 2019

I have not said much about the border wall in the past few weeks. Believe it or not, this post is not really about the border wall either. Like most of my Facebook friends, I am neither an immigration expert nor a policy-maker.

However, I am a Christian and a Bible teacher, so I feel like I should address this particular meme. I’ve seen it quite a bit from my politically conservative Christian friends, and it seems to pop up in the comment section of just about every immigration-related news article I see.

Unfortunately, whoever made this meme does not seem to have read the end of the book. Yes, New Jerusalem has a wall, but it also has twelve gates – and they are never shut. The nations and the kings of the earth bring glory and honor through the gates to the King. Revelation 21 also tells us there is no Temple; anyone who comes through the gates has equal access to the King. Gentiles, women, commoners – all will see the light of the Holy One. And to top it all off, the Spirit and the Bride beckon, “Come.”

If this meme is your clever argument for a border wall and strict immigration policies, just stop it. Don’t pretend this is a “Christian” response. It’s not. Jesus broke into our world to break down the barriers between God and man, not to raise them up. He descended into Hell to set the captives free. After all, it is Sheol that has a great gulf fixed that no man can cross.

This is not a statement on whether or not a border wall for the United States is a good idea. This is a statement about the beauty of the Gospel. This is a statement about a Lamb that breaks down walls with his own blood so we can sit down at a table with the King. Don’t conflate the enemy-loving, outsider-inviting Gospel of Jesus with the broken, exclusionist policies of Caesar. Debate your wall, but leave Heaven out of it.

Monday, January 14, 2019

A Crisp and Snowy Morning

Today is Monday. Snow has fallen since Saturday evening. Friends are posting photos on Facebook. The consensus is, we have about 10 inches in central Anne Arundel County (MD).

The sun came back this morning. I look up from my breakfast, to the window, and see coverings of brilliantly shining snow topping tree limbs, and also long icicles dangling from the eves of our roof.

The storm has passed, and the view outdoors suggests that we have been delivered into another world. I hope so. May a special snow blanket the quarrelsome spirit of us Americans, cool us, and cause us to open our eyes with a new respect for one another.

January 14, 2019