I have certainly heard the lament of Christian leaders who assert that we are living in a "post-Christian" era. That may be. But what I am seeing is more "Christian-phobia" than anything suggesting Christian beliefs, morals, and values are obsolete. The latest installment comes from Pennsylvania.
September 16, 2014|
By Rev. Dr. Bob LeFavi
If you've been in Effingham more than a few decades, you've likely heard the refrain of long-time residents: "We gotta keep all those folks from Chatham from coming up here and messin' up our county." Crime and crowding are often key flashpoints in the conversation. On the other side are new residents who ask for a little grace, given the fact that they are paying taxes and increasing the property values of those long-time residents and landowners.
September 11, 2014|
By Rev. Dr. Bob LeFavi
Septimius Severus, Roman emperor from 193 to 211 AD, was a psychopath and sociopath. Citizens in his empire who had religious views different from his, particularly Christians and Jews, were persecuted severely during his reign. He made Nero and Domitian look like Girl Scouts, sane ones.
During my seminary days, I wrote the following words in my notes. I believe I was studying an Orthodox priest at the time. So, these are likely a paraphrase of his thoughts. I have found them helpful in my Christian walk and have referred to them often. Unfortunately, when I review them I realize how much I fall short.
I write this having just said goodbye to the producer and camera crew of the TV show "Inside Edition." They contacted me a few weeks ago, asking for an interview about my biomechanics research on local weightlifter CJ Cummings.
Since the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, it has been an attraction for those wanting to commit suicide. Only 2 percent survive the jump. It is 220 feet down and when jumpers hit, they still have to contend with the cold, extremely swift water.
She felt nothing but sadness, though there was little in her life to warrant such sadness. She had trouble getting out of bed, yet even when she did, she could barely muster the energy to perform even the most basic daily chores. This troubled woman - a middle-aged graduate student who came to see me years ago - was in a black hole a mile deep and could see no way out.
In my work facilitating support groups for people in crisis, I have become acutely aware that forgiveness promotes recovery. However, it's not just crises that bring about the need for forgiveness. I've seen many people who haven't been through tragedies look as if they are the "walking wounded."
Being a teen has never been easy, but being a teen in 2014 is especially tough with the epidemic of school shootings, cyber bullying, drug use, teen suicide and other serious issues throughout the country.
I write this on a train from Verona to Bologna, Italy, as my wife, son and I go to visit one of our former exchange students, Michela Scomparin. Tomorrow we are in Siena to visit Arturo Turillazzi, another of our former exchange students. And as we travel, Sue is in communication with a third former exchange student of ours, Daniela Kuesters, who is back in her home country, Germany. These are three wonderful people of other cultures the faculty and students of South Effingham High School have had the privilege of encountering.
This past Monday, a young man came to see me at Armstrong. He was referred to me and my department in the College of Health Professions because he had been essentially kicked out of the professional health care program in which he was enrolled, and he was looking for a new major. He was simply told that he wasn't cut out for that job.
If you ask a local pastor the phrase he is most likely to hear when counseling a couple struggling in their relationship, my bet is that somewhere in the top three is the statement, "he (she) has changed."
In the book of Acts, chapter 8, we find the account of St. Peter witnessing to an Ethiopian eunuch, baptizing him and presumably sending the faith back with this new Christian to Ethiopia. Regular church-goers know the story. We can also presume that this convert was the forerunner of the Ethiopian church, which we rarely hear much about, at least not until recently.
One of my favorite radio personalities is the late Paul Harvey, who died in 2009 after 65 years in broadcasting. To me, Harvey was exceptional at getting to the heart of any matter in his topical broadcasts, called "The Rest of the Story."
Sometimes we pastors are humbled by the wisdom we find in others. We think that we, having been schooled in scripture, have a monopoly on wisdom. And then we hear someone speak on life and truth from a deeply personal experience, and we realize we have no such monopoly and our pontificating may be lacking something. Here is an example of a true account that leaves me feeling humble.
NBC's advertising of the "Today" show's Monday morning segment on prayer caught my attention. While the promotions were run continually and ad nauseum, at least they signaled a possible shift by the usually highly secular show toward an acknowledgement, if not appreciation, of things spiritual.