Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Evangelicals and Scientists Unite for the Environment

"Great scientists are people of imagination. So are people of great faith. We dare to imagine a world in which science and religion cooperate, minimizing our differences about how Creation got started, to work together to reverse its degradation. We will not allow it to be progressively destroyed by human folly."

--Rev. Richard Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals, and a member of a coalition of evangelical and scientific leaders who've joined together to speak out about protecting the environment. At a news conference in Washington, DC, earlier this month, the group shared their concerns about climate change, habitat destruction, pollution, species extinction, and the spread of human infectious diseases. They issued a statement calling for "fundamental change in values, lifestyles, and public policies required to address these worsening problems," which was sent to President George W. Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, bipartisan congressional leaders, and national evangelical and scientific organizations. The coalition plans to distribute information about environmental issues to churches, including a Creation Care Bible study guide, and will hold a Summit on Creation.

FULL STORY: Evangelical, Scientific Leaders Launch Effort to Protect Creation

Friday, January 26, 2007

Was It Really a Miracle?

What constitutes a miracle? I had to define the word "miracle" for myself recently because I asked God for one. And I knew if I asked, I'd better be sure I knew what I wanted. It seemed pretty rotten to ask God for something and get it, but not recognize the gift.

We've all seen this happen in our human relationships. We ask our friend or sweetheart for something, then we're disappointed with their response. Maybe our loved one didn't understand the request. But sometimes, our disappointment results from not being specific enough in making our request. And sometimes, we simply don't know what we want.

For Christmas one year, I asked my husband for a digital camera. He did a little research and bought me an awesome one. Yet I felt deeply disappointed when I saw the bill for the camera--it was a lot more expensive than I'd imagined. In my mind, I figured hubby would buy me a low-end, cheapy model because that's the kind of person I am: I'm frugal, I'm intimidated by pricey gadgetry, and I like to buy cheap stuff so I won't worry about breaking it. Of course, I never told my husband those expectations. So he gave me an awesome camera, the one he truly believed would be best for me. And I didn't appreciate his gift.

I later discovered I love this camera. It's perfect for me--the right size, the right features, and it's sturdy to boot. If my husband had bought the cheapy camera I'd wanted, I wonder whether I'd still be using it. Or perhaps I'd have broken it by now.

There was a reason I wasn't more specific about my requested gift: I wanted my husband to figure it out himself. I wanted him to prove how much he loves me and how well he knows me by buying the exact image I had in my mind. Now that I think about it, that was pretty silly. I should have just talked with my husband about the gift I wanted. And I know he would have told me, "Honey, I know you only want a cheap camera. But trust me, there's a camera you will appreciate even more if you just let me give it to you."

I'm pretty sure you're following the analogy between my husband and God here. So let's get back to that miracle I asked for.

Last fall, I started seeing a flashing light in one of my eyes. I had my eyes checked and was told this was a relatively normal phenomenon, and there was little cause for concern. A few months later, there was a drastic change in my vision. Everything in my left eye looked several shades darker at night. The center of my field of vision was blurry in the left eye. I couldn't read a book or see the digital numbers on our alarm clock in that eye. When I returned to my regular doctor, we were both shocked I couldn't see the big "E" at the top of the eye chart out of my left eye. He immediately referred me to a specialist.

The specialist told me there was permanent damage to my eye, and that it would not get better. He also told me my vision could worsen, and the symptoms might even spread to my right eye. The news hit home when I tried to read something on my computer. I was so thrown off by the difference in vision between my two eyes, I had to turn the computer off. That night, I told God how sad I was. I also told him I could accept this vision loss if he would just provide some meaning in it. I immediately felt a deep sense of peace.

My friends and family tried to find comforting words. Some talked about how I would someday have perfect eyes in heaven. That was comforting. Some shared their own struggles with illness or pain. That was comforting. And some talked about supernatural healing. That made me uncomfortable. I wondered, Should I really be accepting this? Or should I be asking God for healing instead? I fully believed God was capable of healing me. Asking for it seemed a step I wasn't ready to take. Part of me thought, God already knows what I need. If it's his will to heal my eye, he'll do it.

Thing was, I knew if my eye got better, I wouldn't know whether to attribute it to God's doing, or chalk it up to natural causes. I knew what I'd say--that it clearly was God's doing. But in my heart, I knew I'd believe it was something natural that was going to happen anyway. That made me extremely uncomfortable.

Even more than healing, I wanted a change in my heart. I wanted to trust God. I wanted to believe every good and perfect gift truly did come from him. I wanted to feel him working directly in my life. So I prayed a new prayer. I told God I wanted to observe a miracle. I told him, "God, I don't care what the miracle is. I would love for it to be healing in my eye. First and foremost, though, I want to feel you. I need to know you are near me. I need to feel your presence. So please give me a miracle. Let me know, without any doubt, that this is a miracle. Show me this thing you have for me, and let it be exactly what I need right now."

I also was honest with God about how my eye was affecting me. It was keeping me from serving him with my writing. It was making me very sad when I struggled to read and write, the two things I love best. I prayed, "God, please give me enough--enough strength and physical ability to do the things I long to do. Whatever you give me, let it be enough."

A couple weeks ago, I received two emails from the editors of two Christian magazines. I'd told them about my vision problems, and they asked if I needed to cancel the writing projects I was working on for them. Instinctively, I told them both, "I'm going to write the stories." My left eye was bad as ever, but I believed God would give me enough of what I needed to finish the projects.

I booted up my computer last week, expecting it would be a struggle to write. I was a little amazed at how well I could see the words on the screen. I'd smiled, knowing God was meeting my need. As the week went on, I felt more and more confident each time I went to the computer, believing God would be right there with me. At the end of the week, a thought popped into my head, Could I read out of my left eye? I covered my right eye. My vision wasn't perfect in my left eye, but it was easy enough to read the words on the page. Later, as I was setting my alarm clock, another thought popped into my head, I wonder if I can see the digital numbers on the clock. Sure enough, I could. I peeked at every digital clock around our apartment out of my left eye. I could see all of them.

On Tuesday night, I got into my car and noticed my night vision was even--no darker shade in my left eye. At that moment, I was 100 percent certain this was the miracle I'd asked God to give me.

My return appointment with the ophthalmologist was on Wednesday. When I told him about the improvements in my eye, he told me he didn't know what was wrong with my eye, and he was "surprised" my sight was better. "I have no idea why your vision has improved," he said.

I recently began reading C.S. Lewis' "Miracles." I wanted to know how Lewis defined a miracle, but shortly after I began reading the heady text, I decided it didn't really matter as far as my feelings about my eyesight. Regardless of the word I used to define my vision's improvement, I'd gotten exactly what I'd asked for. And it was more than enough.

While I hope and pray my left eye will stabilize, I've decided my sight matters less than my miracle. Whatever happens next shouldn't lessen the fact God met my need and allowed me to deeply feel his presence. This always will be a miracle to me.

I've learned some big lessons about prayer this week. Now I know I can ask God for stuff. Now I know I'm able to be honest with God. Most importantly, I've learned that prayer goes two ways. It helps me to understand and trust God. I know he wants to give me good gifts, and I want to make sure I'll recognize and appreciate what he gives me. Just like my husband knew to buy that awesome camera, God knows the perfect gift to give--even if we don't yet see how truly perfect it is.

To ponder:
How do you define "miracle"?

2) Think about a gift from a friend that exceeded your expectations. What made it so perfect? What gifts has God given that exceeded your expectations? Try making a list of God's gifts to you.

3) What are some "natural" ways God intervenes in our lives (ie. a friend encourages us when we're down)? Think of some everyday events God has used to encourage or help you. Thank him for those blessings.

4) Some people want to define "miracle" solely as "a supernatural act." Their idea is that we should fully acknowledge moments when God intervenes in a supernatural manner. So, they say, we shouldn't casually proclaim, "It's a miracle!" every time anything remotely good happens. And we shouldn't call something a miracle if there's any way it could happen by natural means, some say.

There are many words we struggle to define throughout our lives: miracle, Christian, faith. Do you rely on definitions from other people? Does the way someone else uses these words lessen or strengthen them for you? Who do you trust to help you figure out such definitions?

5) Think about your deepest need. How can God meet it? What would it take for you to recognize God's involvement?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Staying (Spiritually) Healthy Requires Diet and Exercise

I'm overweight. It's a medical fact; doctors first began telling my mother this when I was a toddler. I've heard it from physicians all my life.

Weight is one of those taboo topics you're not supposed to discuss because it makes people squirm. Stick with me here a minute. There's a spiritual point to be made that involves my waistline.

Now, I've been told for the past couple decades I should lose 10-15 pounds to reach an ideal weight for my height. Cancer and heart disease run in my family, so I've tried to follow my doctor's suggestions. This includes eating a high-fiber diet, drinking eight glasses of water daily, and exercising four days a week. I've been relatively consistent with this routine for many years. Despite my best efforts, my weight hasn't changed much.

In the last couple years, I've heard media reports that differ from what my doctors have told me. Health reports state the majority of Americans are overweight, and most tote around an extra 10-15 pounds. According to those reports, mildly overweight folks, like me, are normal--we really don't have to worry about our excess flab, they say. I've heard that a pear-shaped body, like I have, allows a gal to pack on a little extra poundage and still remain healthy. I've heard that waist size is a better indicator for health than weight. By the waist standard, I'm doing great.

Still, my doctor continues to suggest I try to lose weight--with an emphasis on the word "try." Even if the pounds don't come off, my efforts are good for my body, the doc says. So who do I listen to: my doctor, who has tested and measured my body, or those random health reports that were written by people who've never met me?

I know my doctor is the wise one here. But it's often frustrating to try so hard and not see the scale budge. Sometimes, I'm tempted to listen to those health reports. Sometimes I'd like to believe I'm average, relatively healthy, and that I don't need to worry about my weight one bit. That I'd be OK if I dropped my diet and exercise programs altogether. If I did that, I'd just be ignoring the most basic health truth: that everyone, regardless of their weight, should be eating right, drinking lots of water, and exercising. I'd be deceiving myself.

This got me thinking about how we Christians can water down our faith (spiritual point now delivered as promised!). We talk about God's love, Jesus' sacrifice, and how anyone can have eternal life just by asking. But too often we leave out the parts about how Christians must continuously seek a relationship with God, and we must strive to be like Jesus for the rest of our natural lives. We do tell folks they're accepted as-is, but fail to explain that God expects us to always try to be a little better. (Again, the pivotal word here is "try.") It may not be intentional, but when we omit God's expectations from the message of salvation, we are deceiving others.

I often feel I'm deceiving myself in spiritual ways, too. I overindulge on raunchy television shows, telling myself, I'm keeping myself culturally informed! I laugh at a comedian's dirty remark or jokingly let a swear word fly, then rationalize, I'm a funny person--I'm just being true to myself! I angrily tailgate in traffic to ensure no one dares cut me off, thinking, My actions are justified by others' bad behavior!

A recent Scrubs re-run opened my eyes. The TV episode featured a character who seemed to be the perfect Christian. Everyone tip-toed around this Christian, watching their language and trying to act just as moral and clean-cut as they perceived her to be. But then the Christian uttered a swear word. Suddenly, everyone relaxed and began acting normal toward her. Others now perceived her as a "cool Christian"--she was, in their eyes, basically just like them.

At times, I've likewise convinced myself it's OK to do or say whatever I please. I've thought, Maybe non-Christians will see me as down-to-earth and approachable if I swear a little or do something "sinful." Maybe they'll feel at ease if they see I'm just like everyone else ...

Uh oh. Suddenly, I remember my commitment as a Christian is to obey and serve the most high God. It's not my job to make sin seem benign or make people feel less sinful. (Equally, it isn't my doctor's job to make me feel good about myself--her commitment is to honestly tell me what I need to do for good health.) I remember God has called me to be different: "Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him" (Romans 12:2, CEV). And to be changed: "Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new" (2 Corinthians 5:17, CEV).

Admittedly, it's frustrating to keep trying to live like Jesus, and to continuously fail. Sometimes, I don't see immediate results. It doesn't seem my faith is deeper, or that God can trust me to handle bigger challenges in life. But I've got to keep on trying because my efforts boost my overall spiritual health. Above all, I need to look to the Master Physician, who will always give it to me straight when he's assessing my heart and soul.

To ponder:
1) Do you overindulge on something that's not good for your spirit?

2) Is something missing from your spiritual diet?

3) In trying to fit in with friends who aren't Christians, Holly's made some bad choices. Think about how you act around friends who aren't Christians. Do you act differently with your Christian friends? Consider Romans 12:2: "... let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him." Ask God to change the way you think. Then let your actions always be natural around all your friends--they will see you as real and transparent, and they will see God is present in your life.

4) Joining forces with a buddy helps many people stick to their diet and exercise routines. Consider finding buddies within your church. For spiritual growth, seek out discipleship programs, or ask a more spiritually mature person to mentor you. For support and fellowship, join a small group. For accountability, find a friend to confide in and pray with.

Monday, January 08, 2007

H-n-T Celebrates One Year of Blogging

Happy Blog-iversary, H-n-T!

Here are some stats for the year:

H-n-T was birthed January 8, 2006.

H-n-T had 91 posts in 2006.

From April (when Site Meter began tracking traffic to the site) through the end of 2006, there were 1373 visits to the blog.

About one-fifth of the total visits in 2006 occurred in October, after Clay Aiken was mentioned in the post "
Where on Earth are All the Missionaries?" Several Clay fan sites posted links to H-n-T. This piece also received the most comments--eight--of any single post this year.

Perhaps the most debated post was "
Mainstream Media Offers Definition of Christianity." That post itself received six comments, and was followed by three more posts that further discussed and expanded on comments, along with yet another post on the topic of faith and works. What a great discussion!

Holly chose "Angels, Revisited" as her favorite post of 2006. What was your favorite post this year? Post your comments here, or e-mail Holly at
contacthnt@gmail.com and let me know.

Mucho thanks to everyone who read, pondered, commented, and forwarded posts on H-n-T in 2006!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Offering Our Best: H-n-T's Pick of 2006

H sez: This was the most personally meaningful piece I wrote in 2006--perhaps even, ever. In 2003, I think I may have encountered an angel. Or maybe it was simply a test of my own human compassion. Either way, I blew it. I've been trying to write this story for the past three years. Each time I began, I'd get sidetracked. Then my notes always seemed to get lost. The story came full circle this year. I pray God will make this personally meaningful to everyone who reads it.

"Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:1-2 (NIV)

Angels, Revisited
(H-n-T, Nov. 13, 2006)

I blew it. Again.

I was in a hurry, pushing a cart full of groceries through the parking lot as fast as I could. A list of errands was running through my mind. Still had to stop at another store, pack for my weekend trip, and make sure my husband had enough clean socks and underwear to last through the days I'd be gone. With my mind focused on the tasks ahead, I was hardly aware of the man standing in front of my car. I heard his voice before I saw his face.

"Excuse me, ma'am. Could you help me with something to eat?"

He stood at some distance from me, probably well aware I might freak out if he came closer. And though he was safely at least a dozen feet away, and both my shopping cart and car were barriers between us, I'd still felt a rush of fear. His face was oily, and his faded black pants and t-shirt were rumpled and dirty.

"Sorry." I tersely dismissed him with that one word, then immediate returned to the task of loading the groceries into my car. I anxiously hoped he'd disappear.

And as soon as I said it, I regretted it. As he walked away, I felt a heaviness in my chest. I knew in my heart I needed to stop what I was doing, run after the man, and tell him I would get him some food. For goodness sake, I had a whole cart full of groceries right there, including some I'd bought to take to my church! Go find that man right now! my heart demanded.

But when I looked down at my groceries, I thought, I can't just leave these here and run after some stranger. I'll put them in my trunk first, then go find the man.

This is the point where I knew I'd blown it. I knew the man would be gone. I knew I'd look for him, and that I wouldn't find him. I knew he would disappear from that little parking lot, as if he'd mysteriously been zapped off the face of the earth.

I knew all of this would happen because it's all happened to me before.

About three years ago, I was driving by a different grocery store in Illinois. It was cold and drizzling, and I just wanted to get home because I knew it would start pouring at any moment. My husband and I had just bought a new car, and I was terribly nervous about driving it on a dry street, let alone a slick, wet one. I didn't want to be driving when the serious rain began. When it rains in Illinois, water falls from the sky in sheets, not droplets. Heaven help the person caught walking on the street during a storm--it's like having buckets of water forcefully thrown at you from every direction.

Heaven wanted to help an elderly woman that day. I saw her walking out of the grocery store and couldn't take my eyes off her. In one hand, she carried a few bags full of groceries, in the other, she attempted to keep her little umbrella upright as the wind tossed it backward. She could barely walk; she dragged one foot a bit as she inched down the sidewalk with tiny, strained steps. The signal on the street turned red, and I watched as she slowly moved in my direction.

Offer her a ride. Help her. The words in my head were as clear as if they'd been said by someone sitting in my passenger seat. The feeling I had was more than just a nagging conscience; I knew God was directly instructing me to help this woman. All I had to do was pull over to the curb.

The light turned green. I can't stop for her, my head rationalized. There's no parking lane on the street. The cars behind me will honk. She'll think I'm a lunatic and will be scared--what if I give her a heart attack? I came up with a dozen excuses as my foot moved from the brake to the accelerator. I watched her in my rear-view mirror as I drove past. There was still time to stop for her.

I turned at the corner. I've got to get home before the rain starts pouring down.

And then it hit me: I hadn't stopped. Nearly every part of my body had urged me to stop. My foot had been resting on the brake. My left hand had been ready to flip on the turn signal. My arms had been ready to turn the wheel. My heart was thudding so strong and deep I could hear it in my ears. Yet I hadn't stopped.

I pulled over and turned my head to look over my shoulder. I couldn't see the old woman anymore. The rain began to pour down.

I hadn't stopped. I'd said "no" to God. I began to bawl and howl like an injured animal.

And I knew I had to find the old woman. I had to make things right. I had to get her out of the pouring rain. I had to do what I should have done in the first place.

I sped around the corner. I figured I'd find her right away. At her snail's pace, she couldn't have gotten more than 100 feet from where I'd turned. I drove past the intersection where I'd seen her. Not there. I drove another block. I drove down the side streets, then through the parking lots of nearby businesses. Even as I searched, I knew I wouldn't find her. I knew God had offered me an opportunity, or rather, a test. And I'd failed it.

I bawled all the way home, trying to comfort myself with the thought someone else had picked her up, or that she'd found refuge at a bus stop or under a store awning. Those thoughts didn't soothe me. I prayed, "God, I missed what you put right in front of my face. But I'm going to be aware now. I'm going to listen when you ask me to do something. I won't blow it again."

For the next several weeks, my actions played over in my mind like a CD stuck on repeat. I begged God, "Please give me someone to help! Please give me something to do for you. Please let me make up for my inaction." I thought about Jesus' illustration of the
three servants who were given different amounts of money to invest for their master. And I thought, "I'm the foolish servant who buried the master's money and didn't even earn basic interest from the bank." In the weeks that followed, I looked everywhere for an opportunity to help another person. I held every door open, told everyone who sneezed, "Bless you," extended kind greetings to every passerby. Every day, as I drove by the intersection where I'd seen the elderly woman, I looked for her. Nothing gave me peace.

But as the days passed, the memory gradually faded. I got caught up in work and my never-ending to-do list. I'd almost forgotten about the old woman when I read an article, "
The Test," in Today's Christian magazine. In it, a man shared his memory of an elderly homeless man who'd visited his church. The homeless man had come in during a Sunday service on a freezing, winter morning and asked the congregation to help him get some food. No one offered to help him. So he walked back out empty-handed. As soon as he'd gone out the door, a few church members ran after him to offer their assistance. But he was gone. He'd seemingly vanished. Afterward, the senior pastor got up and told his congregation:

"Something terrible happened here today. We missed an opportunity to prove ourselves, and I fear we may never receive it again ... I believe we received a visit from an angel today. My mother taught me, when I was just a boy, that God sends his angels down to look after us and to guide us … but he also sends them to test us, to see what kind of people we really are. I think we were tested today. And I think we failed."

I bawled three years ago when I read that story, and I ache as a read it again today. Because I know I've been tested many times now. Many times I've "passed"--I did what I knew God was asking me to do. I'm thankful God softened my heart and opened my eyes during those moments. When I help someone, I almost always feel wonderful afterward. I feel connected to God and to humanity. I feel more like a person, and less like a machine that's programmed to never deviate from its routine.

Last week, I was a robot, following my usual pattern of ignoring people, rushing to complete chores, and strictly sticking to schedule. With a fat wallet, a full belly, and a cart full of groceries, I turned my back on a hungry person who simply asked for something to eat.

Today, I feel that old familiar pain of heartbreak. I hurt, knowing I left an old woman to walk in the cold rain three years ago, and a homeless man to wander on last week, with his stomach still empty. I hurt, knowing my lack of compassion perhaps made those two people feel a little less loved and cared for by God. I hurt, and I welcome the feeling. I hope it lingers for a long while because it reminds me of who I am--a child of God, with billions of brothers and sisters who are hoping some "stranger" will offer them the tiniest bit of kindness. They pray God will send them someone who can give them enough hope to get through one more day.

Today, I'm a little bit more human.

To ponder:
1) Do you believe God tests us? How has he tested you?

2) What are some typical excuses people use to avoid helping someone in need?

3) Most of us have had some bad experiences when we've helped others: Maybe you've given money to a con artist, or perhaps someone you've helped has returned your kindness with a lack of thanks or even cold words. Perhaps that bad experience makes you to hesitate to serve others now. Read the true story, "
You Ain't No Better Than Me." Then think about the person who conned or insulted you. How did their actions differ from the way you expected them to react? How do expectations sometimes hurt us, especially in regard to the lessons God's trying to teach us?

4) Think about the typical human motives for helping others. Compare this to Jesus' motives for dying for the world. What might have happened if Jesus had made his decision whether to die based on typical human motives, and if he had used typical human excuses?

5) Make a list of 10 ways you can help others. Here are a few to get your creative juices flowing: bringing canned goods to a food drive, helping an elderly person put groceries in their car, saving pennies for the local school, babysitting a child for a couple hours to give a parent some free time, having lunch with someone who is lonely.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Atheists Get Vocal When Christians Get Arrogant

"[Atheism] always makes a comeback, I think, when religious people get too arrogant, when they begin to look as though or speak as though they know it all, when they begin to impose themselves in ways that are unwelcome to other people in the society. Then atheism is a kind of, for me, welcome critique of this arrogance."

--Professor Harvey Cox of Harvard Divinity School. The quote is from "The New Atheists," a segment on PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, which presented viewpoints of several prominent atheists including bestselling authors Dr. Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and Dr. Sam Harris (The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation).

H sez: I've been writing about this topic a lot lately because it well reflects the interactions I've had with atheist and agnostic friends. My friends have told me they feel Christians look down on them. They believe Christians see non-Christians as bad, immoral people. Thus, they feel Christians are judgmental.

I've often told my friends these ideas of superiority that some Christians put out there don't come from Jesus or God. I've told them Christians and non-Christians are equally sinful and flawed. I'd like to believe that Christians and the church as a whole aren't projecting a holier-than-thou attitude. In my heart, I know I'm wearing blinders. In "The New Atheists" segment, reporter Betty Rollin says, "And what about morality? Many people think religion is its only source."

Yikes. For a reporter to make such a broad statement, the statement generally has to be accepted as fact. While this statement--that a majority associate morality solely with religion--is highly uncomfortable for me, I can't honestly say it isn't true.

Funny thing is, one of the most moral, ethical people I know is agnostic. I'll call him Jim. I recently asked Jim if he wanted a photocopy of an article. He said, "No, I couldn't accept it--it's copyrighted material. I'll buy a copy. Thanks for letting me know about it." The idea of copyright infringement had never entered my mind. And photocopying published material seemed natural and normal because, well, it's done all the time. Many of my Christian friends have noticed Jim's high morals. Jim doesn't go to church and I don't think he's ever read the Bible. Yet, he's consistently a far more moral, ethical person than regular church-attending, Bible-studying, copyright-infringing Holly.

Many people equate religion with morality. Non-religious folk are, understandably, put off by that notion. So where does that leave us?

I don't want someone to be repelled by Christianity simply because they think Christians are looking down on them. But what can we do? First, we can let individuals know we see them as just as good and moral as we view ourselves. We can tell them that, regardless of whether they believe in God, that in the Christian faith all people are loved by God--even though none of us measure up to God's standards. Hard as it may be, we can point out our own failures and moral lapses, how despite our faith we continue to be imperfect people.
I resolve to be a little less arrogant this year.

Yup, I talked about this topic a lot in 2006. You'll likely hear much more about it in 2007--at least until reporter Betty Rollin's statement is no longer generally accepted as fact.

To ponder:
1) What causes some Christians to be arrogant? Is there any benefit to arrogance?

Think about a statement or action an atheist or agnostic person has made that offended you. Why did it offend you?

3) Now, attempt to step away from your feelings about that statement or action. Consider: What do you think motivated the atheist/agnostic person to make that statement or act in that way?

4) Is it difficult for you to interact with people who have different beliefs than you do? Why or why not?