Wednesday, August 24, 2016

‘If You See Something, Say Something’

It is written all over train stations and airports: “If you see something, say something.”  This slogan is an important safety mantra that reminds us that suspicious behavior of strangers out in public needs to be reported to the authorities.  It can save lives and a million heartaches. 

However, we don’t have to use this slogan only to mean the reporting of nefarious activity.  If we see something good, we can say that too!  How often our hearts have been encouraged by a kind word or an unsolicited “Thank you.” 

Sadly, we are too quick to say something negative or speak up about things that are not going our way. But we neglect to appreciate the carefully prepared communion table, the flowers in the front yard, the faithful clerk at the post office holding your mail while you have been on vacation.

I carefully follow bills that pass through the halls of our state governments that have implications for children, the poor, health, and social justice. Again and again, those who work to lobby for human rights remind us to thank the lawmakers after they fight for a bill that brings a voice to those without power. Often lawmakers and public servants hear more complaints than commendations.  Everyone needs encouragement from top to bottom.

If you see something, say something.  Be like the Apostle Paul who reminds us, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8) And then “say something.”  Give a good word today!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

To those who have been given much

The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are an amazing event, full of wonderful stories of people overcoming adversities and adversaries with sacrifice, determination and love. 

One story I heard recently was about Brenda Martinez, an athlete from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., who is competing in a number of track events. She comes from a working-class family.

She explained in an NPR interview how hard her parents worked to find the money for her training. Her mother sold homemade tamales, and her father took on additional home improvement side jobs to raise the necessary funds. 

Through their sacrifice and hard work, and Brenda’s hard work, too, she was able to compete and make her way onto the U.S. Olympic team. She told the interviewer that she believes in giving back. She is raising money to send low-income young people to camps where they can prepare to compete in sports. 

Every one of us, on some level, has been gifted by God with talent, means, strength, and insight. But it has not been given to us to keep to ourselves. Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48b) 

Too many people receive gifts from God but don’t willingly share them, turning a deaf ear to what God asks of them. They help create or sustain abject need in the midst of abundance.
In God’s economy the world is supposed to operate through human beings sharing with one another. The crisis of world hunger and other shortages that too many people experience on this globe are simply the result of a shortage of heart.

There is enough food to feed the world six times over, but the humans will not share.  The delivery system in God’ economy starts with people realizing that sharing is God’s plan and that we are blessed to be a blessing. It starts with each of us determining daily what it is God has gifted us with that can be shared with another. In so doing we inspire others to do the same, and the cycle of blessing goes on and on and on. 

The greatest joy on earth comes to our hearts when, like Brenda Martinez, we see the good we can do by giving ourselves away.