Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It Happened!

It is with great measure of self-awareness that I say: It HAPPENED!  
In order to give you a more complete context for this awareness (It finally happened!) I feel it imperative to share my recollections of train commuting for the first time.  Like a young child on the first day of school, I woke with similar excitement and anticipation...My first train ride into downtown Chicago.  Would it be difficult? Would it be scary?  Would I get off at the correct stop?  How would I know where to purchase a ticket?  Are there assigned seats?  Where would I place my Superman lunchbox? (oh, wait! that was my first day of school...oops)  I eagerly await the option to be around other people heading off to the day's adventures in working.  

This being my first train ride I had one serious decision to make...sit on the two person benches (on the main floor) OR head up to the second level taking advantage of  an single-file row of individual seats.  Doors open...Like any good extrovert, I chose to welcome the company of another commuter by sitting on the first open bench.  Doors close.  And we're off.  I look around at the many surrounding comrades and the picturesque scenery racing by my window.  A couple of stops later the crowd is growing.  Finally another human to share my bench with.  As the middle-aged woman sat down, my mind flooded with questions: How has your day been so far? Did you get dropped off or did you park in  the lot?  Where are you off to? Where do you work?  What do you do there? Do you enjoy what you do?  How is the overall work environment?  Would you say that you are generally happy with life?  Tell me about your family and the people who have influenced you most in life!  Taking back control of my mind I said, "Good morning".  She responded likewise.  My excitement was building quickly.  She responded so quickly and politely.  She must be a nice person.  I wonder what her story is.   (turning a bit to more properly address her I confidently said, "Hi, My name is Ryan." 

(insert ridiculously uncomfortable and awkward silence here)

...nothing.  No response, no sigh, no hiccup, no look...nothing...REALLY?!  Nothing?  Yes, Nothing!  How can you be sitting within a foot of someone, shoulders touching, sharing the same air and NOT respond when they politely introduce them self?  I took the LESS THAN subtle hint and turned, faced out the window, with a face exuding my crush spirit (imagine a small child hearing for the first time that Santa is a sham).  Crushing.  And that is when it started...

Fast-Forward to today.  (remember I am just sitting in my seat ready to begin my hour+ journey to work)

It started like any other Wednesday...overwhelmed by the piercing sound of a reoccurring alarm (Could it be that God actually created the snooze button?  Theologically, I'm leaning in that direction.), a rudely-awakening shower, dressing in the dark, mass quantities of hot black coffee, and then a trek into the city: via the trusty (and often delayed) Metra rail system.  I wait like the rest of the lemmings for the doors to open, allowing us to mindlessly step into the over sized transporter.  Like clockwork I step up, head to the second level and take my rightful seat of solitude and silence.  Armed with my mp3 player I effortlessly fall into my commuting coma.  

Then suddenly and without warning or provoking it happened.  A gentle man (mid 60's) began to share his concerns on the current economy.  While his rants were not directed toward me, I was within a 1/4 mile and was clearly able to hear him spout off about the sad leadership and future prospects in our world.  It is not that I agreed or for that matter disagreed with his assessments.  In fact, it did not matter what he was talking about.  The real point is...Why would anyone at that time of the morning, and in such a confined  Not even loudly...just talk.  I mean really...clearly this man did not realize that when you enter through those sacred steel doors, you dwell in a world of impersonal, flat-affect drones...the Chicago work-force of today's economy.  

And THEN "It Happened!"  A flash back to my first train ride...remembering my-"Santa isn't real?"-face, showing my disgust and heartache over the state of "those people" who are so calloused in their selfish, self absorbed world.  

How do people become like that? tell me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After by Chuck Colson

The following is a post from Chuck Colson.  I read it on my friend's blog and thought it would be good though provoking read.  I know that this last month of election hooplah has been trying for all people.  Some were encouraged by our new President-elect...and others felt just the opposite.  Regardless... I hope that you can read this article and be challenged to respond in action...pray.  

by Chuck Colson 

Whether you voted for Barack Obama or John McCain, whether you're recovering from your all-night celebration or drying the tears from your pillow, today's a good day to remember the words of the apostle Paul: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1 Timothy 2:1-3). 

The new President will surely need our prayers because he and his administration face huge, serious challenges to the health of our nation and to peace in the world, challenges that, in my opinion, neither he nor any government on earth will have the power to overcome without divine aid. 

How has America come to this point? Why is our economy on the brink of disaster? Why is our culture so utterly depraved? I can only think of what Alexandr Solzhenitsyn said about the catastrophic consequences of the Russian revolution. "I recall," he said, "hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." 

Solzhenitsyn was right. Indeed, I can't find any better explanation for why we Americans find ourselves in the state we are in. We have forgotten God. 

We have also forgotten that American democracy, indeed Western Civilization itself, is the product of the Judeo-Christian understanding of God and humanity. Without that revelation that man is created in the image of God, our founders never would have recognized the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Indeed, as I and others like Rodney Stark have argued, modern science and education, liberal democracy, capitalism flourished in Western civilization precisely because of the Judeo-Christian worldview. 

The attacks on Christianity these days are only going to intensify in the months ahead. But we must press on all the more to make a winsome witness. Those who would banish Christianity from American life are risking the very survival of American society. 

Friends have asked me whether this economic crisis is God's judgment upon us. I don't know. 
As I've re-read the Old Testament prophets recently, I couldn't help but notice the recurring theme: The people of God turned away from Him and worshipped false idols. The result was always disaster. 

Is God responsible for credit markets collapsing around the world? No. We're responsible. Because instead of worshipping God, we've worshipped false idols of the marketplace, credit card companies and cheap mortgages. We've put our own appetites over our duties to God and neighbor. 

So this is no time for Christians to go into the bunkers. No time to wail or moan over our retirement plans. This is a time to repent, to pray more, to give more. It's a time for Christians to lead, encourage, and minister to a faltering country in a faltering economy. 

This is a time for the Church to get serious about Christian discipleship. Enough cheap grace. 

So pray for the new President and his administration. But most of all, my brothers and sisters, this is a time to love our neighbors and to hunger for God and His righteousness.

By: Chuck Colson - November 5, 2008

Received from: A Moment To Consider
A Ministry of: Harvey and June Schneider
Servant Soldiers Ministries, Daphne, Alabama