Pearl's Paradise

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled teams yearning to breath free…"

November 9, 2016
by Steve Pearl

Making Peace Amidst the Chaos

Christians shoulder an enormous responsibility in the aftermath of this election. Some Christians celebrate this as a victory. Others lament it as a loss. Either way, God calls all who believe in Jesus Christ to be peacemakers and mediators in times of great crisis.
Here are a few thoughts about how Christians can become peacemakers and mediators in this time of deep division within our country.
  1. Don’t gloat. If your candidate won, your candidate won. Do not forget that by some estimates 60% of the people who voted for the winner did so more out of hatred for the loser, not because they thought the winner was a great candidate. Both candidates had historically high unfavorable ratings.  There was no “winner” in this election, only a “victor.”  History has shown us that those who do not respect and embrace the voice of the losing minority – especially when it represents nearly half the country – risk losing the power they fought so hard to attain by the very next election.
  2. Don’t whine. If your candidate lost, your candidate lost. Like it or not, your neighbor just sent you (and the rest of the country) a soul-piercing message with their vote. You may not like that message, but you would do well not to ignore it. Now it is time to move on, to engage in constructive dialogue with your neighbor, and do the hard labor of pursuing your passions for your causes without whining or complaining.  The job of winning converts to your cause just became monumentally more difficult due to the viciousness of this campaign.
  3. In every meeting and in every conversation, be gracious in speech and deed. No matter how difficult it may seem at the time, hold your tongue (and your keyboard) when provoked. Elevate your rhetoric above the rancorous partisan divide and do everything in your power to seek common ground before battleground. Ask questions and seek understanding before demagoguery. Leave demagoguery for the politicians and instead reach out to people you don’t understand or to whom you do not relate so you can understand them better.
  4. Live your life according to the guidance of Scripture, not our perverse, repugnant, Reality TV culture. Re-read Romans 12, Micah 6:8, Galations, James, 1 Corinthians, Matthew 5-7.  Take your pick. The Bible is full of guidance for how we can live our lives as salt and light to a dark, craven world. Do not put false hope in those who, by the evidence of their life’s work and their words, do not share your faith. Do not let your steadfast commitment to the hard work of a life in Christ become watered down as the powerful and mighty tickle your ears with words that may sound appealing, but ultimately lead to destruction.
  5. Seek the wise counsel of other Christ-followers, diligently pursuing fellowship with those who would hold God up for the world to see and who embrace their own brokenness at the foot of the cross. Seek out and bond with earnest believers, whether you understand their political bent or not. Build fellowship up within the church, becoming of one mind in Christ even if we are not of one mind in politics.
  6. Look in the mirror and be ready to take accountability when you use rhetoric that you know is intended to inflame, not defuse.  If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is your guide, pricking your conscience when you are about to open your mouth and launch a crushing salvo.  Yes, there is a time for inflammatory rhetoric. There is also a time for words that bring peace. The Bible makes it clear that all who call on the name of Jesus Christ will face attacks and abuse for our commitment to God and holy living. Let’s be certain we are not attacked and abused simply because we brought it on ourselves out of arrogance, fear-driven hatred, or selfish ambition. Save your inflammatory rhetoric for the times when it is need most; for when the marginalized are further marginalized by a society steeped in fear and suspicion, for when the poor are made poorer by those who could not care less, for when the weak are discarded because they cannot contribute as much as the strong, for when the powerful are falsely lauded to curry their favor, and for when the humble are ignored because they choose to seek God’s power over the power of man.
  7. PRAY! PRAY without ceasing, seeking a heart molded and crafted by Christ, lifting up the name and person of Jesus Christ so high that you become a mere speck in the background and all that remains is His heart and His presence.
We are imperfect creatures, sinners saved by grace alone. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Now it’s up to us to show the world the joy that comes through a life sold out to Christ.

December 19, 2012
by Steve Pearl

Haunted by an Image of Innocence Lost

(WARNING:  After the break this posting contains descriptions that may be too visceral and too fresh for readers who have lost loved ones due to gun violence.  I urge you to read the remainder of this post with that caution in mind.)

There is one picture from the Sandy Hook massacre I just can’t shake.  I see it when I put my head on the pillow at night.  I see it when I wake up in the morning.  I saw it dance before my eyes as I drove to the office the other day.

It’s not a picture of one of the dead children, those beautiful, smiling kids whose lives were snuffed in the blink of an eye.  I can’t forget those images, either, but they don’t haunt me in quite the same way.  If God is truly as merciful as He promises, then I must believe they are with Him in paradise.

No, the image seared in my memory is the picture of a chain of children being led from the Sandy Hook Elementary school.  I think the third girl in the chain is the one whose face I can’t shake.  It’s the face of innocence lost, of adult horrors bestowed on too young a child.  Her mouth is gaping, her eyes clamped shut.  She is clearly sobbing.  The trajectory of her life has been altered permanently by actions of unspeakable evil.

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April 4, 2012
by Steve Pearl

Learning about Love, One Day at a Time

Recently I was prompted to go back and look for resources that would help me do an extended study on the subject of "Love."  We all think we know what love is, right?  It's that gooey, warm feeling you get when you meet someone you think is your "soul" mate and then you start to plan your life together.


The infatuation that comes with that first meeting, that "love at first sight" encounter, is nothing but a passing fancy.  The first time you hit a speed bump you realize all is not well and perhaps, just perhaps, your "soul mate" really isn't all that and a bag of chips.

Perhaps you survive the speed bump.  Things get back on track and you move forward.  So you stop worrying about it and life gets back to "normal," whatever "normal" represents for you and yours.  Of course "normal" might not mean "healthy" and there might just be festering yuckiness lurking under the covers of your relationship.

Then you hit a bigger speed bump.  

This time it's a whopper.  You hit the wall at warp speed and this time things get really bitter, really fast.

Click to continue reading “Learning about Love, One Day at a Time”

December 9, 2011
by Steve Pearl

Still Crying for the “Unknowns”

My wife learned a long time ago that I cry at the drop of a hat.  It used to be embarrassing.  Now it's just a family joke.

Yes, I am a sap, a wimp, and a mushy-wushy softy over the silliest things.  

You remember the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life"?  Well I actually cried when Jimmy Stewart went running around the town yelling, "Merry Christmas!" at the top of his lungs. 

How about the Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant period piece, "Sense and Sensibility"?  I remember sitting behind my wife in the movie theater in the Chicago suburbs, crying when Emma Thompson exploded in tears of joy upon learning that Hugh Grant wasn't married.

"Die Hard"?  

Just kidding.

Which is why I also learned how to compartmentalize really, really important stuff worth crying over versus sappy, wimpy, mushy-wushy stuff worth crying over.  I never lose sight of what's really important in life.  Those cries are worth having.

Tonight I had one of those moments when real life collided with fantasy and I went right over the edge to tears.

Click to continue reading “Still Crying for the “Unknowns””

May 31, 2011
by Steve Pearl

“Another Year Wiser…”

I celebrated my latest birthday last week.  (49th, in case you were wondering.)  It's funny, I really don't feel any older.  I think it was actually my birthday in some alternate universe somewhere and we just celebrated it here in this space-time continuum.

(Okay, I admit I watched a little too much, "Star Trek" as a child.)

Celebrating the event was a huge blessing in a lot of ways.  At the end of the day Leah, the kids, and I got together for Blizzards and other tasty grub at the Bear, Delaware DQ Grill-n-Chill.  It was the perfect birthday present to cap off the day, packing on the pounds with the family.

BTW…  To Mr. Don Graham, you run a really nice establishment at that Grill-n-Chill.  Good people, high-quality food, great time!

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January 23, 2011
by Steve Pearl

It All Starts With a Good Mirror

Romans 3:9-18 (New International Version, ©2010)

9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”  “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

John 8:7 (New International Version, ©2010)

7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

I don't know how or why I acquired this character trait – some would call it a "flaw" – but I am a critic at heart.  Restaurants.  Movies.  Music.  Preaching.  Leadership.  Community planning.  Politics.  Finance.  Marketing.  You name it, I've probably criticized it.

Then again, who of us isn't a critic?  We live in a world where we are told that our opinion matters and that we are afforded the right to trumpet that opinion as loudly as possible.  We can say pretty much whatever we wish these days and get away with it.  We trumpet that notion of entitlement under the guise of "free speech" as if we never need to think twice about who or what we are criticizing, never concerned about the potential to lay unjustified waste to someone's character.

Those who know me best know that at times I can indeed share my opinion a little too quickly.  Not one of my most endearing qualities.

That's the bad news.

Now for the good news.

Click to continue reading “It All Starts With a Good Mirror”

July 29, 2010
by Steve Pearl

Where There’s Smoke, It Might Just Be A Smoke Machine – Part II

(Editor's Note: This is Part II of a multi-part series offering a new take on the age old question, “Who do you trust?”  When selfish motives often lurk in the shadows, how can you really know whether spoon-fed “truth” is really “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”?”)

Just the Spin-Free Facts, Ma'am.

Selective truth telling – “spin” – masquerades as trustworthy “fact” with alarming frequency these days.  We see it in White House press briefings, from Republican and Democratic administrations alike.  We see it in those BP oil spill briefings which virtually nobody takes seriously.  We see it in Wall Street financial reports when a company highlights its up-tick in earnings while downplaying the fact that it just laid off 1000 workers to reduce expenses.  We see it every day on C-Span as both sides of the political spectrum bash each other, pretending as if the very solvency of the Union is teetering on the brink of disaster if one ideological slant is not pursued to the exclusion of all others.

Carefully selected snippets of targeted facts and figures are used to bolster this position or that, making one person (or company, or special interest group) look really, really bad while another looks really, really good.  What is thoroughly messed up about all this spin-mongering is that honest, hard-working reporters, pressed by rampant cost-cutting and a general lowering of editorial standards, regurgitate hand-picked “spin” as if it is hard-edged fact.  This new editorial expedience means that people or organizations with narrowly-targeted agendas get away with monopolizing the thought cycle of the day, often to the detriment of exposing deeper, trickier truths that get swept under the rug.

So perhaps it’s the awareness that we increasingly tiptoe through a “spin-controlled” world that gives me a more jaded sensibility about what gets offered up as “truth” these days.

Click to continue reading “Where There’s Smoke, It Might Just Be A Smoke Machine – Part II”

July 12, 2010
by Steve Pearl

Two Little Words with the Power to Hurt or Heal

Matthew 18:21-22 (New International Version)

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"  22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Today we ponder the power of words. 

No, I'm not talking about great works of literature.  Even as we approach the 50th anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee's ground-breaking, "To Kill a Mockingbird," I thought it was time to get a little more elemental, to dig deeper into the underlying meaning and power of smaller, more discrete building blocks of language.

Today, we consider two, inconsequential, three-letter words and the ways in which their placement in a sentence can either destroy a shaky relationship or heal a longstanding rift.

Today, we consider the sublime importance of those tiny, building-block words "did" and "you."

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June 7, 2010
by Steve Pearl

Before I Dumped facebook, I Paused…

As promised, I dumped facebook first thing Monday morning.  Before I did, though, I paused.  I went back and gave a long, hard look at the list of "friends" I had accumulated during my time on facebook.  The sad truth is that with very, very few exceptions I will miss being a part of that rich social network.

But there are exceptions.  No, I won't "out" people here, running around like some petulant child shouting, "You're not my friend!"  I will, however, share a confession that might shock some of you.  You might find yourself in the same boat and be as afraid to admit the truth as was I.

Merely being on facebook made me feel a degree of subtle peer pressure with that whole "friend" thing.  I felt almost compelled to accept some folks as "friends" even though I really didn't know them well enough to call them "friends" in the classic sense.  I mean…  It's not like I ever chowed down over beef barbecue and corn on the cob with them, you know what I mean?

That's my problem with facebook.

Who is a "friend," really?

Click to continue reading “Before I Dumped facebook, I Paused…”

May 17, 2010
by Steve Pearl

Dear Friend, Your Perfume is Killing Me. Literally.

Church and I have a sort of love/hate relationship going on.

On the one hand, I love the very experience of going to church.  I get to be around other like-minded, passionate believers, reassuring my heart in the knowledge that my family and I are not alone in our walk as Christians.  I get to come into the presence of God in a more intimate way as the worship leader moves us, if for just a few moments, closer to the throne of grace.  I get challenged to think more deeply about how my life is either sharing a true reflection of Christ or, tragically, is driving people further away from Him.  I think in fresh ways about how I can strengthen my own service to the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords.

And then…

There's that vague notion that the very next time I step through the doors of my church I might wind up taking a trip to the local ER.

Click to continue reading “Dear Friend, Your Perfume is Killing Me. Literally.”

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