Trips to bookstores are one of my favorite ways to relax and even splurge occasionally. I enjoy lingering through many sections just to see what interesting books are being published. I have even been known to purchase a children’s book so I could read it for myself.
There is one section though that disturbs me. The next time you walk into a place selling books, amble over to the teen section. Most likely, you will find it overflowing with very dark books. Yes, the covers are almost all dark now, but what lies inside the covers is often worse. Stories are crammed with demons, wizards and dark magic. Not to mention the ones encouraging ugly behavior or making girls think they are somehow defective if they aren’t experimenting with alcohol, sex and/or drugs.
It’s hard to tell in this picture, but these lemons are huge. Not just a “that lemon is nice” large, but anywhere from the size of a large orange to the size of a grapefruit. It is not genetically engineered fruit, but fruit that was grown in the richest soil on earth. Volcanic soil, in this case that of Mt. Vesuvius.
If I lived in a slightly warmer climate, I could have a lemon tree in my yard. I could read up on how to care for a lemon tree. I could water the tree, fertilize it and talk to it. No matter how well I tended it, my tree would never produce lemons the size of the ones in Pompeii. Why? Because the soil in my yard is red clay, possibly some of the worst soil for growing wonderful lemons.
The back to school season is one of the busiest times of the year for families with children. There are clothes and supplies to purchase, meetings to attend, teachers to meet and all of those wonderful forms to complete. It is easy to look up and realize it is October and God has somehow slipped to the bottom of your family’s priority list.
It’s not that you meant to ignore God. You love Him and really do want to obey Him. He somehow just didn’t seem as urgent as the teacher who sent home daily reminder notes. Now the school year schedule is entrenched with classes, homework and extra curricular activities. There is no time left for Bible studies, devotionals or most weeks even worship services. You feel good if you remember to pray at meal times (which rarely if ever happen at a table with the entire family present).
Recently our family took a very special trip to Europe. We had been planning this trip for years. It was designed to introduce our daughter to Europe before her senior year of high school. What I saw while there both broke my heart and frightened me.
We saw a boy about eight years old, a fellow tourist from another country, walking down the street with his parents. A dog walked peacefully by him and suddenly the boy kicked the dog as hard as he could. His parents looked on and didn’t say a word to him.
We watched as men from various countries treated the women and children in their lives as if they were mere chattel. Any needs the women and children had were obviously of no concern to the men whom God designed to love, protect and cherish them.
One of my favorite parts of any new year is listening to people talk about all of the crazy new diets they are trying. I especially enjoy the ones where people eat like “____”. I think I have heard everything from a Hollywood star to a “Paleo” to someone in the Bible. My guess is that each of these people represents people who were thin because they ate less and moved more in some fashion or another (personally I would hate to be the one who lived off of kale soup forever!).
What if, instead of focusing on what we eat (although, I could use a few more veggies in my diet) or what our children ate, we focused on really teaching our children to live like Jesus lived? Would it change the way the world views Christians? Would we and our children need to make drastic changes in our lifestyles? What would it even look like?