Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Know What Prayer Can Do

While watching the University of Alabama Crimson Tide take on the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, I was struck by how the stadium was filled to capacity with fans wearing red. As both teams have red and white in their uniform colors, fans came to the game in red to support their respective teams. Interestingly enough, from an aerial view the stadium actually looked like empty red seats from above when in actuality it was fans donning red shirts. The thought that came to my mind was how amazing it was that we can fill a stadium to capacity about something that really doesn’t matter and yet if this same crowd were asked to fill that same stadium to pray or come together to do something that would really have an impact on the world, my guess is it would indeed be empty red seats that I would be looking at instead of a stadium filled to capacity with red shirts.

As I watched this sea of red shirts my mind went back to the time immediately following September 11, 2001 aka 9-11 when Yankee Stadium was filled to capacity with people of all religions and faiths coming together in a multi-denominational healing/prayer service to pray. Oddly enough, I have not seen an effort like this since September 2001. Gospel artist Neal Roberson sings a moving rendition of the song “I Know What Prayer Can Do,” and I agree with him and wonder why we as a nation do not come together in stadiums around the country and hold prayer services like the one held after 9/11. If I recall in that gathering were Reverends, Bishops, Priests, Rabbis, Archbishops, Ministers, Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Pastors, Elders, Overseers, etc. etc. etc. Your religious belief or faith did not matter. We were all united as one by the horrendous acts of a few; united as one by the three thousand plus lives that were lost.

It’s amazing how we all recognized the need for a multi-denominational healing/prayer service during that disaster and seemingly have not held a session like it since. (At least not to my knowledge.) Given the state of the world today, wouldn’t it beg the question of why we do not hold more prayer sessions in large venues like athletic stadiums around the United States? Wouldn’t it be something to fill a stadium full of red shirts not for a football game, but to petition God to really bless America. Every president closes his speech with “God Bless America,” (which I personally think is selfish. Why not ask God to Bless the World?) and yet we don’t do anything as America to seek God (I am well aware of the separation of Church and State). Interestingly enough when you think back to September 2001, the separation of Church and State didn’t seem to matter at that multi-denominational healing/prayer service. Oh well what does this Critical Thinker know? I trust it won’t take another disaster like 9/11 for us to realize what prayer can do. I welcome your feedback in the comment section.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Be Careful Who You Call Pastor

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:11 (KJV)

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1 (KJV)

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15 (KJV)

Ironically I start this edition of The Critical Thinker quoting from the Bible given the impetus of the post being the threatened Koran/Quran burning by Terry Jones, a Gainesville, Florida “pastor.” I place the word pastor in quotations because my goal was to not draw any more attention to Mr. Jones than need be and at the same time help us to understand that we really must be careful who we follow and call pastor. As a result of Mr. Jones’ threat to burn Qurans on the anniversary of 9/11, several news agencies investigated his history and allegedly, Mr. Jones is a Jim Jones wannabee. James Warren "Jim" Jones was the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple, which is best known for the November 18, 1978 death of more than 900 Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana along with the deaths of five other people at a nearby airstrip in Georgetown, Guyana.

If we were to look in the dictionary to define pastor, it states as follows:

1. (noun) pastor - a shepherd; one who has the care of flocks and herds
2. (noun) pastor - a guardian; a keeper; specifically (Eccl.), a minister having the charge of a church and parish

Now let’s juxtapose our dictionary definitions with the Biblical passages I quoted above. In Jeremiah 3:15 God says that He will give us pastors according to His heart which are to feed us with knowledge and understanding. God also said in Jeremiah 23:1 that there will be woe unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep in my pasture. According to news reports Mr. Jones had 50 plus members in his church in Gainesville and 30 of them scattered upon learning of his idea to have a Quran burning day. I don't know about you but I have yet to see the knowledge or the understanding that any of us would get from burning the Quran, the central religious verbal text of Islam,

Let’s face it, there are preachers, pastors, ministers, etc.who are truly “sent,” and there are others who just “went.”  There is a difference. We must be very careful who we allow to have spiritual charge over our lives. It could cost you your spiritual and your physical life. Ask the 900 Temple members in Jonestown, Guyana. Everyone who hangs out the shingle with the title “pastor” is not a pastor. As Matthew 24:11 makes clear to us many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Please do not become one of the many who will be deceived. Pray for discernment because the life you save may be your own.  Something to critically think about and as always I welcome your commentary.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Parents Please Make Sure Your Children Behave On The School Bus

In accordance with state law, N.J.S.A. 18A:39-1, all public elementary school students (grades K-8) who live more than two miles from their school and all public secondary school students (grades 9-12) who live more than two-and-a-half miles from their school are entitled to transportation. These students are said to live “remote from school.” Whenever a school district is required to provide transportation to students attending regular public school programs, students attending nonpublic schools who meet those distance requirements may also be entitled to transportation services. In addition, any student classified with special needs who either meets these distance requirements or for whom transportation is required in the student’s Individual Education Plan must be transported.

While this is the law, it is a great enabler of horrible behavior on our school buses. If a child refuses to behave properly on the bus, we ought to be able to remove that child from the bus and hold the parent(s) accountable and responsible for getting their children (who refuse to behave on the bus) to school. I have witnessed students on these buses; running; throwing things out of the windows; spitting out of the windows; fighting on the bus; hitting the bus aide; jumping up and down on the seats; etc, etc. etc. and all of this is while the bus is in motion. Parents please help your children understand the importance of their behavior when they are traveling to and from school on their school bus.

Most (if not all) of our students are operating under the mindset that it cannot happen to them with the “it” being a fatal school bus accident, when in reality it can indeed happen. Children who are doing anything on the bus other than sitting and talking quietly become a distraction to the bus driver thereby increasing his/her likelihood of becoming involved in an accident. The following link provides traffic safety facts through 2008 It can happen to you.

Attorney Mark Bello in his blog The Injury Board BlogNetwork offers the following tips for safety when riding a school bus that I agree with:

1. When you see the bus coming, line up about ten feet from the curb. Wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the driver advises it is safe to board. The driver is the only one who can view all traffic on the road.

2. If you must cross the street to board the bus, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and for the driver to flash the red lights; look both ways before you cross.

3. Once aboard, listen to the driver; don’t rush or push others out of the way.,

4. Behave on the bus; do not do things that will distract the driver. Some examples:

■Stay in your seat

■Keep the noise level down

■Keep head, hands, and feet inside the bus

■Don’t throw things inside the bus or out the windows

■Keep the bus clean

■Cooperate with the driver; always follow his or her instructions

■Stay out of the ‘Danger Zone’–anywhere within 10 feet of the bus

■Don’t try to stop a moving bus to retrieve something you forgot.

■Don’t try to pick up something that you dropped underneath the bus.

If our children follow these guidelines, it will go a long way towards ensuring safe passage between home and school and school and home. Again, I ask parents to speak with their children and require them to behave on the school bus. Their life and other lives are at risk when they do not. As the old saying goes, “The life you save may be your own.”