Make It Personal, Make It Real

Like many of you, I’ve been praying for our world, our nation, our state, those in the trenches who are at risk for COVID-19 and my family. But surprisingly, I’ve lost little sleep over this pandemic. My Father in Heaven has given me peace. Why is that?

I know He can eradicate this virus because He is the Almighty Creator. I also know that nothing that brings death originates from God. His intent for us at Creation was life, not death. It still is. So why, in His sovereignty, did He allow this to infiltrate the world?

The answer is LIFE. Not life in the here and now but forever life. Almighty God wants us to live eternally. He doesn’t want us to live only in the finite where idols sneak in to rule our lives. Things and experiences that we covet and enjoy–new cars, vacations, sports, entertainment, food, fitness, etc.

None of the above is inerrantly wrong. But when those activities and items consume our time and energy, we forfeit how God wants us to live.

What’s our next step? God’s prescription is simple yet profound: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

My role: Humble myself; pray and seek His face; turn from my evil ways (thoughts, actions, apathy, critical spirit, self-indulgence, self-pity, self-righteousness, self-absorption. . .)

God’s response: Hear from heaven, forgive my sin, and heal my land.

photo credit: Thank you, my friends, Adam! Broken Wing via photopin (license)

Tower of Babel

Last week when I was praying for our country, the story of the Tower of Babel came to mind. The Holy Spirit-inspired Genesis 11 account described a whole world with one language and common speech. Sounds like real unity, doesn’t it?

These people decided to build a huge tower not out of stones but out of brick and mortar. Their reason? “So that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole world.” Sound familiar?

Nothing wrong with that! Or is there? God saw the pride they had in their achievements and what it would lead to. Because we are sinful people, our achievements basked in arrogance most likely lean toward evil, even if it’s subtle and seemingly justified by circumstances.

Call me crazy but comparing our nation and the folks back in that primitive time is overwhelmingly parallel. When I hear “Make America Great Again,” I understand that if America was ever great, it was because of God. One nation under God should mean we follow His goodness and precepts.

The political schism we are experiencing could be God letting us go our own way, drifting from unity into a self-created chaos due to our arrogant, Godless actions. Corporate lobbying, despicable labor practices overseas, and the elevation of power over public service have corrupted our democracy. Going back further, dislodging American natives, enslaving Africans, and using abortion as birth control add to our communal confession.

 Consequently, our self-made Tower of Babel is crumbling.

As the 2020 election heats up, meditate on the story found in Genesis 11:1-9. Then confess our corporate sins—ones that are biased, selfish, and stiff-necked stubborn—”for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

God isn’t Republican or Democrat! He is the God of All and His love extends past our differences. Most of all, He’s called us to love like He does—unconditionally! All of us need to confess our sins and pray for our country to commit to godly obedience.

To quote the great Jewish leader Joshua, “Observe them (God’s commandments) carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”

Deuteronomy 4:6

Eva Kor’s Legacy

Al and Joyce with Eva Kor at CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors–www.candlesholocaustmuseum.org);
1532 South Third Street, Terre Haute, IN

Thursday, July 4, 2019, just a few miles and minutes from the former Nazi concentration camp near Krakow, Poland, Eva Mozes Kor passed away at 85. She had just led a group tour through Auschwitz—an ironic yet fitting last activity for Eva, an American advocate for forgiveness.

I met Eva 20 years ago at Greenwood Middle School where she, along with my army veteran father, explained their World War II experiences to the student body. When teaching the Holocaust in March 1999, I was finishing seven consecutive years of teaching 8th grade language arts with my favorite lesson plan, The Diary of Anne Frank. Can you believe this is no longer offered in the curriculum? Neither can I.

My father and my mother, also named Eva, had forged a close relationship with the woman who had along with her sister Miriam, survived Dr. Mengele’s cruel medical procedures focusing on twins. They encouraged her when she opened CANDLES, a Holocaust Museum and Education Center. I knew a lot about Eva Kor before I ever met her.

When in Poland during spring break 2003, I felt firsthand the evil aura of Auschwitz,  where Dr. Mengele conducted horrific experiments while attempting to develop the perfect Ayran race. There Eva and her sister Miriam, separated from their parents forever, became specimens to be pricked and probed. Only by God’s providence and the girls’ sheer determination were they able to survive.

Display at CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center

For years Eva carried the heaviness of her past. That changed after Miriam Mozes’ death from kidney cancer in 1993. Eva knew she needed to overcome her emotional scars and embrace forgiveness to honor her sister’s memory and release personal bitterness. Two years later, CANDLES was founded.

Through this and her extensive speaking circuit, Eva Mozes Kor left behind an amazing legacy, one that teaches all of us to overcome evil through forgiveness.

Fencing at the Nazi Concentration Camp Auschwitz

*************************************************************************************************************************************You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ‘  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.  – Jesus, Matthew 5:43-45, NLT