Archive for June, 2015

In August of 2010, communications specialist Judy Rivers went to her local bank to open a new account. As the clerk input Rivers’s personal information, everything appeared to be going smoothly until the woman behind the desk stopped abruptly and frowned.

“That’s odd,” she said, “There seems to be an issue regarding your Social Security number.” Can you imagine the sense of dread Rivers’s must have felt? The bank employee excused herself, explaining that she needed to see her supervisor disappeared to the back room. Several minutes later, Rivers was greeted by the branch manager.

“Ma’am,” the woman pronounced, holding a folded paper, “your Social Security number was deactivated in 2008 due to death.”

Incredulous, Rivers rose from her chair, “You’re trying to tell me that I’ve been dead for two years,” she stammered, “and no one bothered to tell me?”

Surprisingly, what happened to Rivers occurs more often than I would have guessed. It is estimated that more than 12,000 U.S. citizens are declared dead by the Social Security Administration due to “keystroke errors.” In 2011, the Office of the Inspector General conducted an audit of the Death Master File, and found that, from May 2007 to April 2010, some 36,657 people had been added to the master file, making them legally dead — at least according to the Social Security Administration. Those affected become like the walking dead, unable to secure a job, make financial transactions, file taxes, or visit the doctor. For months on end, they must endure the nightmare of convincing a large bureaucracy that they have not yet “bitten the dust.”

This made me think about all the people who think that they are living but who are actually dead. At the beginning of Ephesians 2, Paul wrote, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world” (Eph. 2:1). People without Christ may appear to be living full lives; however, they are dead spiritually. They may go to school, to work, get married, have children, enjoy many of the things of live, but if never embrace Christ, they will face a horrible end — judgment before God and eternal damnation in hell.

I cannot imagine the frustration and inconvenience that Judy Rivers and others like her must have dealt with because, to paraphrase her words, “No one bothered to her that she was dead.” But what she experienced with the Social Security Administration is nothing compared to those who have had someone “bother to tell them” that they were spiritually dead.

I’m glad someone bothered to tell me about Christ and how to find true life in Him! Who has God placed on your heart to tell about Jesus Christ? Let’s follow through and take time to share with them how you came to Christ and how they can as well.

camden-yardsA record that stood for almost 125 years fell on April 29, 2015, when the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox played before an empty Camden Yards. Absolutely no fans filled the seats. Prior to “the zero in attendance” record, the previous low mark came in a professional baseball game on September 28, 1882, when six people watched the Worcester Ruby Legs defeat the Troy Trojans 4-1.

The bizarre development in Baltimore came as a mandate from the Major League Baseball office in wake of protests and outbursts of violence. Here’s how an Associated Press article reported one incident from the fan-less game:

Chris Davis might have hit the quietest home run for the home team in Orioles history. As the slugger pounded the ball deep onto Eutaw Street, just a few feet from where fans normally would have sprinted after a chance a souvenir, there was almost nothing to hear. The only muffled cheers came from a pocket of diehards locked out of Camden Yards yelling, “Let’s Go O’s!”

On this day, 30,000 Orioles fans had been muted. The wild applause had been silenced. There were no fans to stand for a standing ovation. Just Davis’s teammates in the dugout coming over for high-fives. “When you’re rounding the bases, and the only cheers you hear were from outside the stadium,” he said, “it’s a weird feeling.”

No live audience, no cheering fans, no applause — as a Christ-follower, how much does the audience affect your performance? How much does the cheering crowd motivate you to do a good job? Would you do what you do in ministry, if no one applauded for you or patted you on the back? Are you content to live before the Lord, the “Audience of One”?

NEW YORK - JUNE 11:  Actor Denzel Washington visits the

One of my favorite actors, Denzel Washington, gave the commencement address at last month’s graduation ceremony at Dillard University in New Orleans. During his address, Washington urged the graduates to put God first and thank Him constantly: “Put God first in everything you do….Everything that I have is by the grace of God, understand that, It’s a gift…. I didn’t always stick with Him, but He stuck with me…. While you’re on your knees, say thank you. Thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for parents, thank you for love, thank you for kindness, thank you for humility, thank you for peace, thank you for prosperity. Say thank you in advance for what is already yours…. True desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you sent beforehand that it’s already yours…. When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up.”

Not only must we thank God for all He has done and offered to us, we have plenty of thanks to offer to the people in our lives. We should thank our parents for loving us, for providing for us, for teaching us, for playing with us, for showing us how to live, for pointing us to Christ. We should also thank those who have invested in our lives and made it possible for us to be who and what we are today. Teachers, mentors, coaches, pastors, supervisors, and bosses have all contributed to our lives.

This past week at our Vacation Bible School, many adults and teens came together to provide a great week of instruction and fun that I believe had an impact on the children. Some of these kids have been forever changed because they came to know Christ personally. Others had their lives enriched through a deeper relationship with our Savior, and still others had “a little more foundation laid” so that the gospel might one day take hold in them.

Don’t forget to say “thank you.” It really makes a difference. Do you want proof? An airline pilot flying between Spain and England received a very special note from a passenger recently, and he shared it on social media. The passenger, mindful of the recent pilot-caused airline crash in the French Alps, wrote a heartfelt thank you for a safe flight to her family back home, appreciative, perhaps for the first time, of someone she had taken for granted every time she set foot on an airplane. “You’re making a massive difference and you’re the reason I can smile tonight,” she wrote.

When was the last time you truly saw and appreciated one of the “invisible” people who deeply impact your life every day? Perhaps gratitude and mindfulness of such folks will help you see your life in a new light.