Good News

thai rescueYesterday the good news was confirmed: all of the 12 boys from a soccer team and their coach perilously trapped in a Thailand cave for 3 weeks had finally been rescued.

I, like so many others, had been breathlessly following the case of the young boys across the news the past few weeks.

When I first heard about the story the boys were still missing and unaccounted for, disappeared after going on a recreational adventure through the caves with their coach.

A few days later the missing were miraculously found. But it was not clear how or even if the young boys could be rescued.

The best case scenario was the adolescents would be forced to go on a harrowing dive through the complex tunnels that would scare even the most experienced Navy SEAL team. Worst case the 13 trapped might have to wait out the rainy season in Thailand and try to stay alive for a few months until the waters in the cave cleared out.

Incredibly though, all 13 trapped were rescued over the course of the past few days. Thousands of volunteers descended upon the scene to serve, to brainstorm, and to contribute whatever they could to rescue the lives of these brave young boys. Soldiers, divers, cooks, missionaries from all different countries came together to form a rescue superteam.

Humanity at its best.

The real beauty of it all is how no one seemed to question the mistakes these boys and their coach made by traversing this highly dangerous terrain.

No one blamed those who were trapped for their mistakes. No one questioned the worth of their lives, even after a rescue diver tragically died in the midst of preparing the escape route.

The countless volunteers just jumped right into the work and refused to stop until every possible attempt had been made to safely extract the lost.

As I watched the news unfold I could not help but see this entire story as a parallel to Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep.

In Luke 15:3-7 Jesus tells the story of a shepherd who leaves behind 99 sheep just to find one other who is lost.

There is no question in the shepherd’s mind of the value of this lost sheep.  There is no berating the sheep for its foolishness in getting lost. There is no doubt that he will do everything to rescue the animal.

The story is a parable for how far Jesus goes to rescue those who are lost and bring them home to Him, no matter how far gone they are.

When it comes to eternity we’ve all made mistakes far bigger in our lives and gotten lost far deeper than the Thai boys did.

Yet Jesus promises to pursue us with the same around-the-clock reckless abandon of the cave rescue mission. No matter what sort of mess we’ve gotten into with our lives He devotes every last one of His resources to rescue us and redeem us.

I thought of these parallels to Jesus’s teachings before the boys were saved, just reading about the rescue efforts in general. I prayed that all those involved would come out the other side safely. But even if they had not, the message displayed by the rescue efforts would have still told a beautiful story of mercy and grace.

Now with the boys’ rescue the message is amplified. Good news is celebrated.

Of course this good news will fade from the headlines as it always does. Within a few days most of us will have forgotten about all of this business with the boys in a cave (until the inevitable big budget movie is made of this tremendous story, naturally).

Everyone, that is, except for the 12 boys and their coach, their families, and those who risked their lives to rescue some overly adventurous kids they’d never met before.

For them this good news is etched into their timeline – a life-shifting event they will never forget.

And that I think ultimately is the message of the lost sheep story: for the Good News to truly make an impact it must be experienced individually.

For Good News to stay in the headlines, it must penetrate the heart. It must occur through a genuine connection and life event – one person at a time.

We must pursue the lost one by one, proclaiming the Good News to all who need to hear it, whether they deserve it or not. We must fight to bring it to those who are lost deep in the back of ragged caves, whose rescue seems impossible.

We must not judge the lost we are pursuing or question the mistakes they made. We must simply pursue them as Jesus would pursue us and as the Thai people pursued their young boys – seeing value in every individual life, working together despite our differences to do whatever it takes to mount a rescue effort, taking one step at a time into the darkness without losing hope and trusting in the Lord to bring the lost into the light.

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Why Political Ads Work On You

FullSizeRender-7I wonder what would happen if a political candidate ran a campaign with no attack ads.

Can you imagine it – a politician earning votes just on their platform without interrupting every single commercial break for months on end?

As refreshing as this would be, the reality is that candidate would get murdered at the polls. 

You might think you’re immune to these ads. You might think they’re just white noise. You may bemoan their arrival and rejoice at their departure the day after the election.

But no matter how much the majority of America complains about the persistence of negative political ads, the constant commercials aren’t going anywhere.

Why? Because political attack ads work.  Continue reading

How To Change Someone’s Life 35 Years From Now

Here’s the weirdest headline you’ll see today:

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Yep. That’s international recording star Lorde and baseball Hall of Famer George Brett. Of all the people in the world to meet yesterday, they did too.

Here’s where it gets really weird. Apparently Lorde was inspired to write her smash hit song “Royals” because she saw a picture of George Brett in his Kansas City Royals uniform signing autographs to kids. So she wrote her song about fame and success and culled the idea of Royals from Brett’s jersey.

I’m not kidding. Apparently this is all true. 

There is no possible way George Brett could have known back in 1979 the just by doing his day job of playing baseball that he would one day inspire a 17-year-old from New Zealand to write the hit song that would make her famous. But it happened.

Here’s the lesson: Continue reading

How To Handle A Power Outage

remove-ads-flappy-bird-both-android-ios-devices.w654The first thing I did when the power went out was go to my phone.

It’s amazing. Even just a few years ago I would not have had the luxury of another electronic plaything to occupy my brain while the power was out.

But during The Great Ice Storm of 2014, less power at home just meant more power for our mobile devices.

For many the power outages and school closings were an excuse to spend hours playing the latest game craze Flappy Bird.

Of course, if you hadn’t already downloaded Flappy Bird, you were out of luck. And not because the wifi was down. Continue reading

Is The World Getting Worse?

bill_gates_annual_letter_0I once heard a pastor say the world today is worse off than it was 50 years ago.

In fact I’ve read many men wiser than me say there’s more sin in the world today than ever before.

I’m not sure if I agree with them. 

Bill Gates doesn’t agree with them either. This week Gates released his annual letter on the state of our world. It’s a pretty enlightening read. Check it out at GatesLetter.com.

Gates uses the letter to debunk some myths about poverty. He writes that average incomes are rising in almost every country, and that our perspectives on poverty and foreign aid are outdated. Many of these improvements are a direct result of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been,” Gates writes.

I’m not sure if I agree with him either.  Continue reading