Something to Think About

This morning, I received the daily verse and voice from Sojourners. I believe this verse to be one that might spark some prayer-filled thought and conversation.

While listening to the healthcare debates, I’ve found that one of the great concerns for many has been health coverage for illegal immigrants. I believe there has been a great deal of mis-information in this area of the debate. I believe this verse might inspire some to think of this portion of the debate differently.

You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.Exodus 23:9

I am one who truly believes that quality healthcare should be available to everyone…regardless of race, sex, socio-economic status, citizenship, etc. I understand some of the concerns. Yet, I believe that if we truly see every person as created and loved by God, we would not want to withhold healthcare from them. Jesus call is for us to care for the “least of these”. I’m pretty sure he did not imply to put limitations on who qualifies as “the least of these.”

Isn’t It Ironic…And Something about Kanye

Last night, in light of Serena Williams’ outburst at the Open, Emily shared this quote with me. It appeared in Reader’s Digest.

“Now’s your time to shine. Be confident. They want to see you angry. Be angry, but don’t let them see it. Play angry, but let them see confidence. Play angry, but let them see patience. Play angry, but let them see certainty. Play angry, but let them see determination.” ~ from On the Line by Serena Williams.

And, seriously, was anyone truly surprised by Kanye West’s outburst at the VMA’s last night? He has a certain pattern of behavior that would have all in attendance expecting some kind of immature display. He’s an incredible artist, but his ego is huge and sense of respect for others is limited. However, I would agree that I’m not sure Taylor Swift should ever win an MTV award. But, I’m not called on to judge that. Also, I heard on the radio this morning that Swift had been warned that something like this good happen. So, was this really West being ridiculously rude (okay, I don’t know if he was ridiculously rude, as he grabbed the mic he did say something along the lines of “congradulations…no disrespect”) or was it simply an attempt by MTV to create controversy and buzz (as with Eminem and Sacha Baron Cohen at the last awards show)? Kanye’s antics really go in line with some of what I spoke about at church Sunday. What he said was true…But, when, how, and why he said it was kind of wrong. He did more damage than good.

Let Them Know…

Sometimes, you need to let people know they are special.

I’m sitting at the Mean Bean Caffeine Lounge in Delaware, Ohio working on my sermon outline for Sunday morning. I’ve been able to get a lot of work done. Well, let me say that I was able to get a lot of work done…

That all changed when a couple of businessmen sat down next to me. One is obviously a salesman. The other is the potential client. The salesman is loud and over-the-top in his pitch. The client seems a bit disinterested. But, I can understand.

About every three minutes, the salesman’s cell phone rings…loudly…with an annoying song (seriously, it’s a Black Eyed Peas songs…and the guy must be 45 years old…there it goes again). Every time it rings, he pauses his presentation, looks at the phone, lets it ring a couple of more times, and then silences. Of course, about every third ring, he answers it, making it sound extremely important.

If I was the client, what this on-going cell phone saga would communicate to me is that I’m simply not that important. If a person sets up a meeting with me, but can’t silence their cell phone for 55 minutes, I would not feel that the person really has time for me or is all that interested in getting my business.

So, when you sit down with your friends, family, business partners, etc…make sure that you let them know they are important. Silence you cell phone…or better yet…leave it in the car.

On Health-Care

As I’m listening to President Obama deliver his address to Congress, I continually keep coming back to the phrase, “Well said, Mr. President.” Now, let my ranting begin…

The plan continually comes back to a public option for those without health care coverage. I am saddened when partisan politics keeps some from supporting the idea of giving an option to those who cannot currently afford coverage. This is not about a take-over. Those in the health-care industry making ridiculous profits will continue to do so (however, the President does desire to hold this industry accountable…as it is a bit out of control…seven figure salaries, eight figure bonuses). This is simply about providing an option for those who currently have no options.

I would venture out to say that many of the career politicians whose campaign pockets have been fattened by big business and the health-care industry have not experienced what it is like to be unable to afford adequate health-care coverage.

Upon graduating college, I fell into the category of those who could not afford health insurance. Because I was no longer a student, I was booted from my parents policy. My place of employment, while working towards providing a health-care plan for it’s employee’s, did not have a health-care plan. The major problem was being able to find an affordable, high-quality plan for a small group of employees. So, that left me looking for single-person coverage. I made too much money to qualify for government-assited programs. I did not make enough money to justify coverage on my own.

For the most part, I’ve always been a healthy person. So, instead of purchasing insurance, I bought a membership to a health club and worked out on a daily basis. That worked for a while…until I got an illness that over-the-counter self-medication could not overcome. I found myself at an urgent care center because none of the family practice doctors in town desired to take on an uninsured patient. The cost of the visits, medication, and procedures to promote health wiped out any savings I had and made it difficult to keep up with my modest standard of living at the time (a one-bedroom apartment, a used car, and the usual utilities). And, that was only one mild illness. I found myself wondering how other individuals and families without health insurance managed to cope with illnesses and the costs of treatment.

I know too many people who are not following their dreams simply because they cannot afford health-care. They are in jobs that they despise simply because their art or call does not provide enough profit to supply adequate health care coverage for their families. I know of too many older adults who would have retired years ago, but have to continue working because they cannot afford or do not qualify for coverage. I know of too many people who simply go without treatment because they cannot afford insurance. And, I know of doctors who have their hands tied because the insurance companies dictate how they should treat patients. Enough is enough.

Currently, I am fortunate to have adequate, yet ridiculously expensive health insurance. While I am also fortunate that the church has to bear the largest responsibility for our coverage ($1,000), we are still responsible for over $600 a month for coverage (this will go into effect in October after Emily takes a leave of absence). Yes, our health-care plan costs just under $20,000 a year! I am thankful, yet this is out of control.

Reform is needed. Public options for those who go without coverage is needed. Referring to this as socialism is irresponsible! I better stop before I get out of control.

In reality, what troubles me the most is that this really indicates a great failure on the part of the Church. I believe Jesus said something about looking after the sick. All around the world, people are suffering because they do not have access to adequate health care. While the Church makes great strides in missional service, we obviously aren’t fulfilling our responsibilities to care “for the least of these.”

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'” (Matthew 25:36-40, The Message)