The Holy Land is literally blowing up. Rockets from Gaza into Israel, bombs from Israel into Gaza, Israelis and Palestinians fighting in the streets.
Whenever I see this violence escalate I’m reminded of a trip I took years ago with my father to Israel. One day I had coffee with an Israeli at a coffee shop in an incredibly quaint part of Jerusalem. Not long after we returned home to the United States, that same coffee shop was on TV having been blown up my a suicide bomber.
I met people on both sides. They were good, kind people. But if you get divided enough, it doesn’t matter how smart or civilized you might be, there will be violence.
Pray for peace both in Israel and here. The same storms of division that disrupt Israel are happening right now in our own backyard.
A pipeline is hacked and boom, 5 hour waits for gasoline. People are panicked. It reminds me of the beginning of Covid lockdowns and toilet paper panic buying.
A year of masks and lockdowns has created a neurotic culture. Culturally, we won’t find peace soon.
But how can you find peace in the middle of this storm, or any other?
These are truly heavy times. The medicine won’t be easy.
“Peace is liberation from passions, which cannot be attained without the action of the Holy Spirit.” St. Mark the Ascetic, born in 360 AD.
Are you willing to fight your passions - (self-love, gluttony, lust, love of money, sadness, fear, and pride) - to find peace, with the help of the Holy Spirit of God, in any storm?
You’ve been energized, hope is ringing in your ears, you are ready to make changes and move mountains! So where do you start?
You must create forward momentum, and to do that requires one step then another. Much will try to distract and discourage you, so you must stay focused. Focus is your mantra.
As the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, said:
"That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."
Or to put this type of focus in the spiritual dimension:
Matthew 17:20 - He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
One place you might focus this week, an act of gratitude toward's law enforcement. This is National Police Week, started in 1962 by President Kennedy.
Home from work, my wife asked me to walk down to the creek with her and our youngest, Julius. The weight of the world made me feel as if I had no time, but I had time. Thankfully, I listened to the better angels and took that walk.
My wife was sitting on a boulder overlooking the creek when I arrived and Julius was sliding down the mud bank into the water. The sun danced off the budding green leaves of the spring trees. We spoke little but laughed a lot.
The entire episode took maybe 15 or 20 minutes. A priceless small slice of the day. Why do I let them happen so infrequently?
I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 4:4 - “And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
Julius is 4. What does he care about fame and fortune, the opinion of others? He cares about mom and dad, brothers and sisters, family and friends that loves him. Everything else is meaningless. Why can’t I remember that?
We are all vulnerable to a world in a turmoil, and a desire to judge and blame others. How do we understand and practice our faith in times crisis?
The great Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred by the Nazi’s, has some answers for us:
“In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things the figure of Him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger and is at best the object of pity…The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought that takes success for its standard.
Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.
The first service one owes to others in a community involves listening to them. Just as our love of God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives God’s Word but also lends us God’s ear…We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them.”
Lately, there have been many articles written about a workforce that doesn’t want to work. Especially, small local businesses can’t find labor. Our local newspaper did a long feature on all the local business limiting their hours because they couldn’t find workers.
One reason, the incredible unemployment benefits offered to people, encouraging them to stay home. Another reason, in a culture where the employer gets portrayed as the enemy, people feel entitled. When government then provides them all they need to live, and technology provides cheap escapist fantasies, you have created an environment that easily allows people to enter a sort of Matrix.
To fix this will take tough love. But do we have it in us as a country? We are so PC, the President in his National Day of Prayer message today didn’t use the word God. No doubt, he didn’t want to offend. It’s the opposite of tough. We are at risk.
As reported yesterday, Rolling to Remember, formerly known as Rolling Thunder has been shut down:
“You may remember the veteran biker group known as Rolling Thunder. They have since changed their name to Rolling to Remember.
They were planning to ride into Washington, DC on Memorial Day and end their ride at the Pentagon, as they have done for years.
The Biden administration denied event permits for the Rolling to Remember motorcycle ride held every year for the past 30 years in Washington, D.C., prompting outrage in Congress.
The charity event, formerly known as Rolling Thunder, is a Memorial Day hallmark in the city, bringing scores of veterans and others to the area to commemorate war veterans, including prisoners of war and those missing in action.
The Pentagon approved the permit in March and then rescinded the decision this week without any explanation, according to Issa and Rep. Ken Calvert (R., Calif.), who also criticized the Biden administration’s decision.”
This decision is hurtful to me because I love veterans and I love motorcycles. Motorcycles represent freedom, the open road, charting a course to somewhere over the horizon. Shutting it down is fear at best, partisan politics at worse. Either reason is a slap in the face to veterans who were willing to die for us.
If I were them, I’d ride anyway. Shut down the streets, fly your flags, gun your engines. Live free or die!
You might have heard about a police discovery in Houston of 90 illegal immigrants confined to a 2,300 sq. foot home.
It is estimated drug cartels make $14 million dollars a day smuggling people.
Why do we put up with it? Politics and money. Some people benefit from the votes, some people benefit from the cheap labor.
It’s the same for China. Why do we put up with them? Politics and money. They are in the pockets of our politicians, and we are addicted to cheap goods.
Our nation turns a blind eye to it all. How can we not ultimately suffer?
How do you respond? You speak up and you talk with your wallet.
Read an article today on Apple News about how some popular fitness trends fit the definition of a cult – Crossfit, Soulcycle, Power Yoga, etc.
Now “cult” is a broad word that can mean anything from devotion to someone who thinks they are Jesus to undying loyalty to a sports figure.
Let me suggest one definition today from Merriam-Webster and share a couple experiences I had this weekend:
“great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work ”