Archives for posts with tag: Violence

He was sitting in his car outside a CVS waiting for his wife who was inside shopping. He was a successful and generous businessman. He was not in a “bad” neighborhood. He was not involved in any questionable activity. Just waiting for his wife to finish shopping. Then someone shot him and killed him.

A 7 year-old girl was riding in a car driven by her mother. She was still in her pajamas along with her three sisters on a quick run to get coffee on Sunday morning. They were stopped at a red light near a Walmart and someone pulled up next to their car, started shooting and Jazmine Barnes was killed. Just days before the second grader was in the holiday program at her school. Officials say it was a case of mistaken identity.

Several young adults sat around a bonfire together on a cool fall evening. Later that night two of them came back and killed four of the people in the house. They had done nothing to provoke or anger anyone. It seems that the two just came back “to rob and kill.”

After a house fire, a 67 year-old man and a 65 year-old woman were found dead in their home. Fire officials said that the fire was intentionally set. It was later determinded that the married couple had been strangled. Their son has been arrested and charged with murdering his parents.

It’s a normal day at school and then a nightmare. A crowd is enjoying a night of musical entertainment and then shots from a hotel room high above the venue and dozens die. A young man is on his way home from a Braves game when someone cuts him off on the freeway. The two drivers argue as they continue to drive. This encounter ends when one of the men shoots and kills the other. A young girl is in her bed at night when someone kills her parents and kidnaps her.

These are just a few examples of daily occurrences in communities and neighborhoods all across America. What has happened to the value of a human life?

Former President Bill Clinton said, “…each bloodletting hastens the next, and as the value of human life is degraded and violence becomes tolerated, the unimaginable becomes more conceivable.” Have we come to the place in our society where we have come to expect that which was once unimaginable? Has the worth of a person become so small that we see others as dispensable?

Abhijit Naskar is one of the world’s celebrated neuroscientists, an international bestselling author and untiring advocate of mental wellness and global harmony. He suggests that “Human progress isn’t measured by industry, it’s measured by the value you put on a life.” If that is the case, we have not progressed very far.

Rabbi Yanki Tauber says that unless this “trend is halted and reversed…before long, we will be deep in the barbaric woods where everything is relative, where the right to life is entirely relative to power, wealth and physical strength. For unless life has absolute value, it ultimately has no value. And unless we accord absolute moral significance to our actions, they are ultimately of no moral significance, and before long, we’re deep in the jungle.”

The Apostle Paul affirms that God “gives to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). It is thus clear that Scripture regards life as a gift from Heaven. If human life is a gift from God, then it is a sacred essence, and no person has the arbitrary right to take it from another or to destroy it within himself.

God help us to value life as a divine gift and end this move toward absolute destruction.

Jamie Jenkins

 

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My twelve year-old granddaughter is a very positive and happy person. She wants to talk and hear about positive things. At times I understand that she is simply naïve but I appreciate the fact that she has a positive outlook and wants to see the best in everything and everyone. And she tries very hard to be the best person she can be.

Recently I heard a response to the question of why the news media seem to always report only “bad” things. The reason given was because “bad news” is not the norm. There are far more stories of “good news.” The exception to the rule makes something newsworthy. Therefore tragedy, hostility, and other unseemly attitudes, words, and acts are reported because they are the exceptions.

I am not sure that is actually the reality but it is one perspective and possibility.

One of my teachers had a saying that bad news goes around the world twice before good news gets its shoes on. It certainly does seem that bad news travels faster than good news. Word of a robbery seems to spread much farther and faster than a report of a random act of kindness. Road rage makes the headlines but the many motorists who are patient and tolerant are seemingly absent.

I am often reminded that we see and hear what we are looking and listening for. Our ears perk up at juicy gossip and our eyes widen when we see something unseemly.

Today as I was driving I saw blue lights flashing in the distance. Instinctively I slowed down and expected to see an accident or someone receiving a ticket for violating the traffic laws. Maybe even a person being arrested for some criminal act.

But I saw something very different. Two police vehicles were diverting traffic around a stalled minivan and two officers were changing a flat tire for the driver of the stranded automobile. That was a surprise but a welcome sight. The officers were white and the motorist was black. The officers were male and the driver was female.

There are so many reports these days about white law enforcement officers inflicting violence on black citizens and headlines about men exploiting women. Nothing that I say here is intended to make light of these incidents. Violence against any human being is never justified and is even more detestable when it comes from persons in authority or from racist and/or sexist attitudes.

The experience I am reporting is meant simply to remind us that acts of kindness, generosity, gentleness, mercy, and respect occur all the time. We must not allow the “exceptions,” as horrible as they are, to lead us to believe that civility and human dignity have disappeared from our society. That charity and hospitality are things of the past.

What I saw today also sensitizes me to situations where I can be helpful. It reminds me to pay attention to those around me who might need assistance or support. It helps me to remember that no good deed is small. It aids me in focusing on others and not to be so self-centered. It reminds me to look for opportunities to “live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward (me)” (Matthew 5:48, The Message).

Jamie Jenkins

 

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In the late 18th century many European countries were engaged in violent revolution. England was not one of them. Some historians credit a religious movement in that country with creating a climate that prevented such upheaval.

The Methodist Movement, spearheaded by John Wesley and his brother Charles, had its origins in the academic environment of Oxford. They were joined by a small group of other students in rigid religious rituals. Because of their methodical approach in their devotional and charitable activities they began to be called the “Methodists,” a derisive term.

This small group of people became known as the Holy Club. They rigorously practiced the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fasting, and accountability but their religious fervor was not limited to such acts of piety. They regularly visited the prisons and hospitals. They established schools for poor children, offered basic medical care for those who could not afford it, provided housing for poor and elderly widows and their children, and much more.

The long term effect of this movement was due largely to the well-disciplined organizer, John Wesley. To what did he owe his strong faith, persistence, and tolerance?

Much is known about the impact of John’s mother, Susanna Wesley. She has been called the Mother of Methodism. “Her example of faith and religious reverence she set for her children inspired them to become powerful spiritual leaders and to launch the Methodist Movement.” Her constant devotion and strict discipline to the education and spiritual formation of her children certainly impacted John, the 15th of her 19 children.

Adam Hamilton* says, “If John learned about his faith from his mother, he learned how to deal with disagreements from his father and grandfathers.” His grandparents on both sides of his family were dissenters from the established Anglican Church but his parents were committed Anglicans. John “adopted a posture that is often called the via media- a middle way- that found truth on both sides of the theological divide.”

In one sermon that is among John Wesley’s most famous he said, “Though we can’t think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart? Though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.”

Hamilton suggests that this spirit of Wesley leads us to “give them the benefit of the doubt. We assume the best in others, not the worst. We speak well of others, not poorly. We treat them as we hope to be treated. We listen more and talk less. We walk in other people’s shoes and try to understand what they believe and why. This does not mean we give up our convictions, but it does mean we test them.” The focus is intended learn what we have in common and to build bridges not walls.

It was this humble, listening, catholic spirit supported by a strong resolve to follow Christ wherever He would lead that transformed the religious practices and daily routines of people across England in the late 18th century. This helped to create a climate where social changes could be accomplished without widespread violence. One does not have to be a Methodist to see the value and to follow the precepts of Wesley but in doing so we just might make a better world.

Jamie Jenkins

*Revival: Faith As Wesley Lived It, Adam Hamilton, Abingdon Press 2014

 

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Have you ever walked up on a conversation and heard a remark that startled you? Amused or confused you? Since you didn’t hear previous comments or know the context, is it possible (maybe even likely) that you might come to a wrong conclusion about what was really said or intended?

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Likewise I wonder how often we misunderstand a situation since we don’t know the full story. Sometimes we don’t have enough information or maybe we just have partial knowledge and thus cannot fully know.  Partial knowledge or the absence of context can lead to errors of judgment and faulty opinions.

Recently in preparation for a trip we bought a new piece of luggage that was “on sale.” We made the purchase because it was marked down more than 50% of the original price. What a bargain. NOT! After getting home I checked a major online retailer and discovered that the exact piece of luggage was available for $22 less than the “marked down” item at a local department store. If we had known the full story before making the purchase, we probably would have made a different decision.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a news story about violence in the West Bank. Since I have been to Israel many times I clicked on the link (https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2015/10/20/bethlehem-palestinian-israel-mideast-backstory-wedeman.cnn). What I found was Ben Wederman, CNN Senior International Correspondent, explaining how they cover the situation in Bethlehem, West Bank. He explained that he had been covering the situation at the same spot for over 20 years. Every Friday afternoon about 3:00, youth gather and throw stones and other objects at the Israeli soldiers stationed nearby at the wall that separates the Palestinians from Israel. The soldiers respond with rubber bullets and tear gas.

I have watched this orchestrated protest demonstration from my Jacir Palace Hotel room which can be seen in the background. The conflict in Israel and the West Bank is real and I do not intend to minimize its significance. If you watch television news for very long you will likely see scenes of violence in that region of the world. It is not unlikely that you will view the happenings described by this journalist. If you don’t know the full (back) story, it can appear that the entire city of Bethlehem is in an uproar when in actuality just blocks away it is business as usual in the beautiful bustling West Bank city.

When faced with difficult situations where people of faith are compelled to respond, Christians will often ask WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? That is a legitimate question and offers guidance on appropriate behavior but it is all too easy to pull one incident out of the Bible and make it the standard for conduct in all situations. The danger of this “cookie cutter” approach to the Scripture is you often don’t get the full story.

Mr. Sheffield Thompson was a self-taught man with a photographic memory. Although he lacked a lot of formal higher education, he was a genuine intellectual. He told me many times, “We do not know the historical Jesus. We only know the cultural Jesus we have created.” I think he was saying that we looked only at the aspects of Jesus that confirmed our already held beliefs. We failed to see Jesus in full character and used our limited understanding to sometime justify our misunderstanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

God help us to know the full story and pattern our lives accordingly.

Jamie Jenkins

This time last week millions of people were remembering the death of one man and yesterday they remembered another. Their deaths were separated by over 2000 years of history.

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Seven days ago on Holy Thursday Christians around the world recalled the last hours Jesus would have with his closest followers before he was betrayed and put to death. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968.

Although Jesus and King believed in many of the same principles and practiced them at great risk, I am not trying to make them equals. Jesus was the Son of God and Son of Man. Dr. King was a human being and disciple of Jesus. Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected. King’s body rests in a tomb in Atlanta.

When they arrived they found the large stone rolled away from the tomb. (There had been a violent earthquake and an angel of the Lord had descended and rolled it back. The guards were so frightened and shaken they had run off). – Slide 2

Both men championed the cause of the poor and oppressed. They spoke out against injustice and acted on their beliefs. The Bible record shows many encounters between Jesus and the marginalized people of his day. He was accused of associating with the riff-raff of society. And he was intentionally guilty. The life of Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly illustrates his commitment to justice and equality for all. His beatings and arrests are proof that his words were not just pious platitudes but principles by which he lived.

Love and hate were both equally shown to Jesus and King. The biblical account and the news reports describe the intensity of support and rejection for both of them. Each of them died a violent death. One was executed by the Roman government at the insistence of the crowd in Jerusalem. The other was the victim of an assassin’s bullet on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

There are similarities to their life and death, but the immediate reaction to the death of these two men was very different. Jesus’ death left his followers frightened and confused. Their leader on whom they had placed their trust was gone and they did not know what to do. They hid for fear of their lives. In contrast, King’s death sparked violent protests around the country. Those who had followed him were angry and aggressive.

Although the short term result of the death of these two charismatic leaders is different, the long term effect is similar. Over twenty centuries of history has validated the positive effect of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Those who followed his teaching and example carried his message to every part of the world and countless others have believed and their lives have been transformed.

Kevin Cokley, writing in the Dallas News, said, “The assassination of King was arguably the most consequential for the course of American history and permanently changed the psychology of black people and challenged America’s ideals.” The death of this “drum major for justice” gave impetus to a movement that changed the face of America and the world.

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The world is very different 50 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and 2000 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. Their willingness to die for a cause led to much positive change but one does not have to look far to see that there is still much more to be done. We must continue the struggle to insure civil and human rights for all people.

In the beginning God created a perfect world. No reasonable person would suggest that it has remained in that state of perfection but it is the task of all people to work together to make the world a better place for everyone. God help us!

Jamie Jenkins

state of israel | Here’s a map of Israel as things stand today:

You must be crazy. You are going to get yourself killed. That or some similar comment is what I have heard every time I am preparing to visit Israel. And I have been there more than two dozen times over the past four decades.

My first trip to the region (known as Israel, Palestine, West Bank) was in 1981. At that time I spoke with an elderly man who had traveled to the Holy Land every year starting in 1966. He told me that he always was confronted by people who believed he was putting himself in danger and could not believe why he would do something so foolish. Thirty-seven years later I face the same situation.

There is no question that there is conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is even conflict within those two groups. There is no denying that there are incidents of violence as a result of the differences of opinion about ownership of the land. To suggest that there is no tension and no abuse of human rights would be foolish. Nevertheless, I have never felt unsafe or at risk as I have traveled throughout the region. And I know hundreds, probably thousands, of persons who have experiences similar to mine.

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During the time when Manuel Noriega was the de facto ruler of Panama a group form my church went to Panama on a work mission. Noriega had strong political ties to the United States but he was not very popular with many of the Panamanian people. In a conversation with the church leader with whom the team was working the question was raised, “What do the people of Panama think about us Americans?” The reply was, “They love you. They just don’t like your government.”

Peace out. Photo by Sharon Altshul

Over the years of traveling to the Middle East I have found the Israelis and Palestinians to be warm and friendly people. Their opinions about their government and ours does not prevent them from being welcoming and kind. Tourism is one of Israel’s major sources of income and benefits all of the people in the land. One report indicates that 3.6 million tourists arrived in Israel/Palestine in 2017. While the ideological and political struggles are ongoing, people from all over the world are welcomed.

The faithful in prayer. Photo by Jaeheon, Kim.

A shop keeper sits across from his shop in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Israel offers a plethora of historical and religious sites, beach resorts, archaeological tourism, heritage tourism, and ecotourism. One source suggests that Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world. A large percentage of the tourists come to visit sites of significant to three of the major religions of the world- Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Many people are afraid to go to Israel because of the frequent news reports of violence. We hear daily of random acts of violence in schools, churches, shopping malls, and on the streets of cities and small communities all over the United States. But we don’t stop sending our children to school. We don’t quit shopping at the mall or attending sporting events and concerts. We don’t stop going to our places of worship.

We live in a dangerous and violent world. I realize there is a real possibility of encountering violence in Israel but I do not believe it is more likely than in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Newtown (Connecticut), or Sutherland Springs (Texas).That is our reality but we cannot allow this “new reality” to sap us of our enthusiasm for life or the adventure and education of travel.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When someone does you wrong do you get over it or do you get even? The tendency when you are offended or assaulted is to strike back. Retaliate.picture of retaliation - Revenge rubber stamp - JPG

Justification for retaliation is found in the concept of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This is a part of Mosaic Law used in the justice system of the ancient Israelites. The principle of jus talionis or lex talionis is that the punishment must fit the crime and there should be a just penalty for evil actions. Justice should be equitable; excessive harshness and excessive leniency should be avoided.

It has been suggested that if everyone practiced “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” the result would be a world of blind and toothless people.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness…. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

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Is there a better way? Perhaps the law of reciprocity offers an acceptable alternative to the law of retaliation. The law of reciprocity means that when someone does something nice for you, you do something nice for them in return. The act of returning a kind gesture or favor basically goes without saying. Unfortunately the all too often mindset is that when someone does something harsh or unkind, we in turn act in like manner.

Jesus in white robes, sitting on a hillside by the sea, surrounded by a large group of people who are listening to His teachings.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus counters the teaching of personal retaliation: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:38–42).

These verses may be the most difficult verses in the Bible.

On another occasion Jesus taught that the practice of retaliation would not provide any positive results. Instead, he said “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

The Apostle Paul instructed the Christians of his day in this manner: “ Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even… if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:17-21, The Message)

“Evil is powerful, but good is more powerful. In fact, evil is so powerful that only good has the power to overcome evil. Darkness can be driven away only by light” (Jay E. AdamsHow to Overcome Evil). I think Jesus would agree- and so do I.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

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Keeping the rules may be a requirement of an orderly society but it is not enough just to “keep the rules.” Actions are sometimes just a way to put up a front that disguises the real person. Appearances do not always present an accurate picture.

Our actions are often prompted by political correctness or for personal gain. We must be careful not to prejudge the worth or value of something, by its outward appearance alone. A person may “act” right but in unguarded moments their true self is revealed. Judging a book by its cover is often misleading.

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Confucius said, “I have yet to meet a man as fond of high moral conduct as he is of outward appearances.” Jesus suggested that “keeping the rules” is just the starting point. It is the outward manifestation of how one should behave. But more importantly is how one thinks.

The Imitation of Christ by a Kempis Thomas:

“A sure way of retaining the grace of heaven is to disregard outward appearances, and diligently to cultivate such things as foster amendment of life and fervour of soul, rather than to cultivate those qualities that seem most popular” (Thomas a Kempis).

We may obey all the laws and rules of society but harbor hatred in our heart. God calls us to be more than “good law abiding citizens” but to be equally concerned for the best interest of others as we are for ourselves.

Amber Benson is an American actress best known for her role as Tara Maclay on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She says, “There is so much more to this world than outward appearances. Our society basks in the illusion of normalcy every day, and hides from the truth every night.”

Ten Commandments Tablets

Observing the “thou shalt nots” (Exodus) is fundamental to right living. But Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) instructs us more fully on right behavior: He teaches us that

  • Resentment and bitterness is always destructive
  • Lust and violence have no positive value.
  • Faithfulness in marriage involves more than monogamy
  • A person’s word is their bond
  • Retaliation is never appropriate but love and respect is always right

The “Law’ is our school master that teaches us the baseline of right behavior. But it is only the starting point. It important to observe “the Law” but it points us to a deeper truth.

God judges persons differently than humans do. People look at the outward appearance; God looks into the heart.

Jamie Jenkins

 

Recent events in the United States and across the globe could easily plunge one into depression.Suicide bombings, killing of police, military unrest, continued threat of ISIS and other terrorist organizations, violence of all sorts seem to be everywhere. It is not hard to see how discouragement and despair could easily reign.

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In the face of current conditions we must be diligent to guard our minds and spirits. The dark days of inhumanity compete with the light of everyday. If we give into the darkness, then evil wins.

This is not a time for a Pollyanna attitude. An unreasonably or illogically optimistic attitude is not the solution. However, as we face what seems to be our new reality we maintain a positive and hopeful perspective. The glass may be half-empty but at the same time it is also half-full.

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Optimism does not require one to deny reality no matter how harsh it may be. Unless one recognizes things as they are, at least momentarily, one cannot contribute effectively to finding the solutions to problems. Realistic optimism sees things as they really are and hopes, believes, and works to make them better.

Trouble in Mind is a blues song written by jazz pianist Richard M. Jones. The first known recording of the song was in 1924 by singer Thelma La Vizzo with Jones providing the piano accompaniment. Since then it has become a blues standard and has been recorded by many artists including Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Hot Tuna, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Texas Playboys, Dinah Washington, and Hank Williams, Jr.

There have been numerous renditions by a variety of musicians. In many versions, new lyrics are added. However, most usually include the opening verse:

Trouble in mind, I’m blue
But I won’t be blue always
‘Cause I know the sun’s gonna shine in my back door someday

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In spite of the positive expression of hope in the original first verse, Janis Joplin’s version in 1963 and Nina Simone’s 1965 rendition sounded a note of desperation and hopelessness. Recently I was listening to Atlanta resident Francine Reed singing and her version communicated hope in spite of the obvious troubles of life.

If you follow the news reports you can honestly conclude that the world is a dangerous place and fear can overcome you. There are too many stories to ignore the serious implications of the climate of culture in many places. However, all forms evil and violence cannot be allowed to triumph. There is something we can do about the harshness of hatred.

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In a world where unrest and turmoil are prevalent people of faith are called to be peacemakers. In an environment of hatred and prejudice we are called to love our neighbor and even our enemies. Even as darkness hangs over us much of the time we are called to be the light in the midst of darkness. When others look for and point out the worst in others we are called to see the best in everyone and to stand against the worst that is also present.

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I am not suggesting that we ignore or deny the difficulties that are all around but our attitude and action can and will make a difference. There is no doubt that trouble is all around but we can proclaim with certainty, “I’m blue but I won’t be blue always ‘cause the sun’s gonna shine in my back door someday.”

Jamie Jenkins

 

O Lord, we praise you because you are a great and mighty God. We praise you because you are a tender and compassionate God. We praise you because you are an all knowing and wise God. We praise you because you are a God of grace and mercy.

In recent days we have witnessed the unthinkable in Nice, Istanbul, Baghdad, Dhaka, Dallas, Orlando, Minneapolis….

Every day seems to bring a new disaster. Every day people are killed because of their religion, race, gender, lifestyle, or money. Every day children lose their innocence and often their lives. Every day people die because someone chooses to drive under the influence. Life seems to have little value to so many.

With the psalmist (Ps. 13) we ask, “O Lord, how long?” How long will our enemies cause unthinkable pain and suffering? How long will injustice prevail? How long will greed and hatred wreak havoc in our world?

With the prophet Habakkuk (Hab. 1) we know, “There is strife, and conflict abounds… (It seems that your) instruction is ineffective. Justice does not endure because the wicked surround (us) … (and) Justice becomes warped.”

Lord, we confess this morning that it is easy to get discouraged and become despondent because of the evil that seems to be everywhere. But we “trust in your unfailing love; our hearts rejoice in your salvation” (Ps. 13:5).

Our hearts are broken and our spirits are sad because we have experienced the “sin and despair, like the sea waves cold, (that) threaten the soul with infinite loss.” But with the hymn writer, we declare that your grace is greater than anything. In the face of so much pain and sorrow, so much grief and fear, we claim that “marvelous, infinite, matchless grace” to cover us and our world in these difficult days. Our hope is in You, O Lord.

We pray for the victims of violence and injustice everywhere. We pray for those who are responsible for such heinous crimes. We pray for our world and all people that you created.

We pray not as a ritual without meaning but we believe that authentic prayer prompts action. It affects behavior. So, Lord, help us not to conform to the pattern of this world, but transform us by the renewing of our minds. Help us to think right so we can act right. Bring out the best in us. Guard us from becoming so well-adjusted to our culture that we fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix our attention on you, O Lord. Change us from the inside out so that our lives will be pleasing to you. Deep within our hearts we really do want to be like Jesus and we want our lives to reflect Him.

Hear our prayer, O Lord, for we offer it and ourselves in the name of Jesus. Amen.

*This is the Pastoral Prayer that I offered today (July 17, 2016) at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia