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August 2012

Dear Partners in Ministry:


Recently, I received this email that seemed very apropos:


“The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a Methamphetamine lab had been found in an old farmhouse in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question.


Why didn't we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?' I replied, I had a drug problem when I was young:


I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals.  I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather.  I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults.  I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher, or if I didn't put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me.


I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profanity. I was drug out to pull weeds in mom's garden and flower beds and cockle burs out of dad's fields. I was drug to the homes of family, friends, and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline, or chop some firewood; and, if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, she would have drug me back to the woodshed.


Those drugs are still in my veins and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, or think.


They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin; and, if today's children had this kind of drug problem, America would be a better place.


God bless the parents who drugged us.”


We can read the preceding email with a knowing smile but do we really want to just chalk it off to cute humor?  If we take a candid look at our lives, I believe that we will see that each of us, in fact, also have a major “drug” problem.  The questions we must ask ourselves is, “Who or what is doing the drugging?” and, “Do we want to continue being drugged or are we willing to take charge and struggle for the needed change in our lives?”


What difference would it make if the major question we attempt to address before embarking on any venture or activity is “What difference in the lives of others will this make in 20 years or for the work of eternity?”  This simple question raises a continual awareness of our mortality and a desire to make a difference.  For instance, in the course of your life, what are the items or activities that have impacted you to be who you are today?  Think about it.  To be sure, many of these items are good and some could be considered not so good, but they still have a significant role in making us who we are. 


What we may not realize is that we are the ones that need to make a difference.  Instead of being drug through life’s experiences and all the nonsense that consumes us and our energy, we are the ones who need to be “drugging”. In other words, bringing others to experience the faith we claim to share, celebrating the Creator rather than just consuming His creation.  Remember when parents and adults drug their children to their activities instead of today, when many parents are being drug into their children’s endless races?  Remember when, as adults, it was more important to be on time for, and involved in, functions at church than it was to be on time for your favorite program, sporting event, or child’s activity? 


To be sure, Satan is working very hard at every turn to distract us from having time to be about God’s work, and I fear the consequences if we do not invest our time and energy in turning the current trend around.  In this time of Olympic fervor, it might be a good time to ask ourselves these questions.  Is secular team work or even personal accomplishments really more important than a conscious relationship with Christ?  Is the joy of entertainment, whether it is Saturday night carousing, or the endless trap of the television, or any of the other venues we use to enjoy God’s creation, ever a valid replacement for the work of developing a clear faith walk?  What is your mission as a family?  What do you really want to teach your children about life and the pursuit of happiness? 


Currently, we are beginning discussion of the 2013 confirmation class process, where we ask each student to write their individual confessional statements that they will use for their confirmation during the Reformation 2013 confirmation celebration.  As an adult, if you were asked to put together a statement of faith regarding what you believe about God, the Holy Spirit, about Christ, how would you reply?  Would it pass the “drugged” test?  Give it a try.  Then, let us know what we can do to help you help those God has entrusted into your care to become the children God wants them to be. 


In Christ’s Service, 


Pastor John





Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110        412-466-7773