Word Games

In elementary school I was knocked out of the school-wide geography bee in the final round, when asked for the correct word for a person who leaves one country for another.  I answered "emigrant," but the scorer heard "immigrant," and I was out.  There wasn't any opportunity to explain myself, and I was a bit embarrassed that I hadn't enunciated clearly enough, and thus lost on a technicality.  The answer they were looking for was "refugee."  I still remember thinking at the time that there wasn't enough information in the question to infer that the person was leaving under duress, and had to be a refugee.

It's strange to me that I still remember that story.  It's stranger still that it has gone from a silly anecdote about the stresses of a child in school, to a very important question for us as Americans in the 21st Century.

So as North Americans, what do we call a person who has fled one country for another?  If they're Syrian, we probably call them refugees.  Likely the same if the are from Afghanistan, Burma, or Somalia.  There are millions of people from these people living in refugee camps.  Our country sends tremendous amounts of real and financial aid to the countries that are housing them.  Most churches around the world pray for these people, and many try and fund solutions to meet their basic needs and address the underlying problems.

What, then, do we call the people who flee Central American countries to Texas, Arizona, and other border states?  Can we admit to ourselves that we have refugees living in detention camps in the United States?  Does it change our feelings about these people if they are fleeing war, gangs, poverty, sex trafficking, labor exploitation, or other atrocities?  Do we stop to consider that most of these people aren't choosing a path of convenience, but are escaping a life we can barely imagine?  Do we care if they are children, teens, single mothers, or families?

As Americans, it's time to stop talking about the "Illegal Immigration" problem, and start talking about how we can help these very real refugees that we work so hard to either turn away or imprison.  One day, we'll each face our Father in Heaven, and I assume that eloquent discourse about whether the strangers in our midst are "illegal aliens" or "refugees" will seem kind of silly.  Of course, no one is excited about having refugees in their state or country!  Much worse must it be to actually BE a refugee in a country that doesn't want you there.  There are no technicalities that relieve us from our responsibilities to love and care for each other; calling people by another name might ease our guilt about the situation, but doesn't change the reality of it.

Remembering Lewis

50 Years ago today, a man that has re-shaped eternity passed away.  Very few writers have impacted me at different stages of life as he has.  Even today, vibrant societies are named in his honor, to both study the truths he shared, and make it a priority to share those same truths with others.

In the scope of time, while politicians and leaders fall into obscurity, I do believe that future children will come to love God more, theologians to consider him greater, and lay people to understand him better, because of the writings he left behind.

Today, I'm thankful for C.S. Lewis' life and writings.  I can't imagine a world where men smarter than me didn't write down their thoughts, in ways that I could understand the very nature of God, better than I could before.

Amazon Prime

If you've not already tried, here's a link for a 30-day trial period on Amazon Prime.  We use it at home and work, for things as varied as tools, cleaners, parts, and yes- books.  The streaming movies are handy too, with lots of free options for the kids included, and new releases for a reasonable charge.

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I Walked a Mile With Pleasure

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.
-Robert Browning Hamilton

"The Still Small Voice"

The Still Small Voice

I longed to walk along an easy road,
And leave behind the dull routine of home,
Thinking in other fields to serve my God;
But Jesus said, "My time has not yet come."

I longed to sow the seed in other soil,
To be unfettered in the work, and free,
To join with other laborers in their toil;
But Jesus said, "'Tis not My choice for thee."

I longed to leave the desert, and be led
To work where souls were sunk in sin and shame,
That I might win them; but the Master said,
"I have not called thee, publish here My name."

I longed to fight the battles of my King,
Lift high His standards in the thickest strife;
But my great Captain bade me wait and sing
Songs of His conquests in my quiet life.

I longed to leave the uncongenial sphere,
Where all alone I seemed to stand and wait,
To feel I had some human helper near,
But Jesus bade me guard one lonely gate.

I longed to leave the round of daily toil,
Where no one seemed to understand or care;
But Jesus said, "I choose for thee this soil,
That thou might'st raise for Me some blossoms
rare."

And now I have no longing but to do
At home, or else afar, His blessed will,
To work amid the many or the few;
Thus, "choosing not to choose," my heart is
still.

--Selected


As Quoted in L.B. Cowan's, Streams in The Desert

On The Importance of Development


"The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection."  Teddy Roosevelt

A Sleepless Night Psalm

This is one of my favorite Psalms, maybe even favorite chapters in the Bible.  I love the steady progression from a man who can't sleep at night, "you hold my eyelids open," to the call to meditation in verse 12, to an omnipotent God who controls all creation while still leading his people, in the final paragraph.  

"Selah" is usually thought to mean "pause and reflect" and might have been a place for a musical interlude for emphasis.  I love to read this meditatively, and pause where the text suggests it.

Psalm 77:  The Consoling Memory of God’s Redemptive Works
I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted.
3 I remembered God, and was troubled;
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.      Selah

4 You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
6 I call to remembrance my song in the night;
I meditate within my heart,
And my spirit makes diligent search.

7 Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
8 Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?      Selah

10 And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;
Who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God who does wonders;
You have declared Your strength among the peoples.
15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph.      Selah

16 The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were afraid;
The depths also trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
The skies sent out a sound;
Your arrows also flashed about.
18 The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known.
20 You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.