While walking home from Irving Middle School in Lincoln, Nebraska last year, 14-year-old Frida Aguilera was ambushed and attacked by a classmate while other kids circled around and videotaped the incident.

“My face was full of blood and at that point I guess they just thought that was enough,” said Aguilera.

Frida’s attacker got a week suspension and was prosecuted in juvenile court. But the passive bystanders taping the entire incident were not punished.

Unfortunately, Frida’s story isn’t the only one. In December, 9th grader Jared Williamson was leaving school when he was involved in a brutal and unprovoked attack that left him with a concussion and cervical sprain. Students watched and filmed the incident, egging the attacker on. Within minutes the fight was posted to Facebook. After Jared’s attack, he was diagnosed with PTSD and now has to be home schooled because of it.

After Frida’s attack, Frida’s mother contracted Thomas Inkelaar of Inkelaar Law Firm. Inkelaar says Nebraska has no cyberbullying or bullying laws on the books. Nebraska only has an anti-bullying law stating that schools must put policies and procedures in place. “To actually say hey it’s illegal for someone to bully someone, there is actually not a public policy on the record,” he said.

Inkelaar Law is petitioning for stronger state legislation against bullying what is being called ‘Frida’s Law’. If passed, this law would include criminalizing bullying behavior as acts of violence and hold kids videotaping the incidents accountable. “The goal is to stop this, put it in place where we can have safety in our schools,” said Inkelaar. “At minimum, the goal for Frida’s Law is that the aggressor’s sentence includes counseling and community service.”

But what is happening in our schools now goes beyond bullying. It is assault, plain and simple!

Students who engage in violent assaults are more often suspended for a short time when they should be expelled from a school or district, as well as face criminal penalties, including jail time. School districts should also face civil law penalties, in the form of hefty monetary fines, if it is proven that they failed to prevent or punish certain types of behavior by students within their district.

When a teacher is threatened with violence or suffers the same type of attack from a student, the student responsible for the attack is expelled and quickly arrested and charged with assault. Should not students be allowed the same protection under the law?

Research has shown that violent assaults on students can end up causing lasting damage to its victims. I too was bullied as a kid, and I found the experience to be pretty ugly. I’m in my 60s now; and although it’s been years since I experienced getting beat up by three bullies after school for two weeks, that experience has never left me.

I don’t think about it much these days, but I know that that experience has affected me as an adult—and not for the better. Because no one was willing to protect me I felt I had no choice but to quit school in my junior year. As an adult I suffered from depression, low self-esteem and experienced many failed relationships. Even after I surrendered my life to Jesus, it was still years before I was able to see my own worth as a person.

I know that I am not alone in this. Our world is filled with people who continue to suffer from emotional problems because they were victims of physical attacks in school.

How did we come to this point? What causes our children to become such uncontrollable beasts who brutally assault each other without conscience?

The apostle Paul warns us that whatever a person sows, they will also reap the same. (Galatians 6:7-8)

Look at what we have sown: We’ve exchanged the security of family values with immoral ideas and attitudes. Sanctity of life is no longer fought for, and more often is legislated against. We’ve replaced the Bible and prayer in our public schools with metal detectors and police security….Welcome to the harvest!

Addressing these problems with positive parenting and by teaching problem solving skills and anger management may help to reduce violence among some teens, but until we repent as a nation and turn back to God and teach our children to do the same, I’m afraid that nothing will change.

Remember God’s warning through the prophet Isaiah: “Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him… Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Come now, let us settle the matter, says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:4; 16-20)

WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  WORLD WAR II/WAR IN THE WEST/THE HOLOCAUSTThe Nazi Holocaust began in 1933 when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany and ended in 1945 when the Nazis were defeated by the Allied powers. It is estimated that 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust. Six million of these were Jews.

Many people around the world were shocked and angered to find out that during World War II, a number of German physicians conducted painful and often deadly experiments on thousands of concentration camp prisoners without their consent. Typically, the experiments resulted in death, disfigurement or permanent disability.

“Be sober; be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

From reports of the kidnapping, rape and slaughter of innocent women and children and the beheadings of western journalists by Islamic terrorists, it appears that the devil is still walking about like a roaring lion.

But have we been any less evil?
The devil and the demons seek to know our weaknesses so that they can attack our most vulnerable position. Just like Uncle Screwtape says in the book ‘The Screwtape Letters’ by C.S. Lewis: “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one. This is the road taken by quiet people, responsible citizens, religious people, our neighbors and even people participating in the Christian church.”

Japanese-internment 2The 1st American Holocaust
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which permitted the military to circumvent the constitutional safeguards of American citizens in the name of national defense. The order set into motion the evacuation and mass incarceration of over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom were U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens.

These Japanese Americans, half of whom were children, were incarcerated for up to 4 years, without due process of law or any factual basis, in bleak, remote camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. They were forced to evacuate their homes and leave their jobs and businesses. In some cases, family members were separated and put into different camps. President Roosevelt himself called the facilities “concentration camps.”

Some Japanese Americans died in these camps due to inadequate medical care and the emotional stresses they encountered. Several were killed by military guards for allegedly resisting orders.

At the time, Executive Order 9066 was justified as a “military necessity” to protect against domestic espionage and sabotage. However, it was later documented that “our government had in its possession proof that not one Japanese American, citizen or not, had engaged in espionage, not one had committed any act of sabotage.” (Michi Weglyn, 1976)

It took almost 50 years for Congress to pass the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 that acknowledged that “a grave injustice was done”. Even then, each victim of the internment was only paid $20,000 in reparations along with a signed apology from the President of the United States on behalf of the American people! The period for reparations ended in August of 1998.

ToxicThe 2nd American Holocaust
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the declassification of top-secret studies, the “Human Radiation Experiments,” done over a period of 30 years, in which the US conducted radiation experiments on as many as 20,000 vulnerable US citizens. Victims included civilians, prison inmates, federal workers, hospital patients, pregnant women, infants, developmentally disabled children and military personnel—most of them powerless, poor, sick, elderly or terminally ill.

Eileen Welsome’s 1999 exposé The Plutonium Files: America’s Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War details “the unspeakable scientific trials that reduced thousands of men, women, and even children to nameless specimens.”

In 1950 an experiment to determine how susceptible an American city would be to biological attack, the U.S. Navy sprayed a cloud of bacteria from ships over San Francisco. Monitoring devices were situated throughout the city in order to test the extent of infection. Many residents become ill with pneumonia-like symptoms.

In 1994 Senator John D. Rockefeller issued a report revealing that for at least 50 years the Department of Defense has used hundreds of thousands of military personnel in human experiments and for intentional exposure to dangerous substances. Materials included mustard and nerve gas, ionizing radiation, psychochemicals, hallucinogens, and drugs used during the Gulf War. That same year, the U.S. Government admitted that it had offered salaries and immunity from prosecution to war criminals and scientists who had performed human medical experiments in exchange for data on biological warfare research.

baby_20_weeksThe 3rd American Holocaust
From the Nazi concentration camps to black slavery, to the human experiments in America—there was one common thread: A belief that there is a portion of society that are non-persons.

Forty-one years ago the infamous Roe v. Wade decision became law which legalized abortion-on-demand nationwide. The aftermath of this tragic ruling is the deaths of over 55 million innocent unborn babies!

Today it is the unborn child—tomorrow it may be the elderly or those who are incurably ill. Who knows if a little later down the road it may be anyone who has political or moral views that do not fit into the distorted reasoning of the day?

How many physicians, scientists, teachers, artists, musicians, pastors, missionaries, engineers, and other notable contributors to society have been murdered in the womb since abortion-on-demand was legalized in this country?

Today, Matthew 23:37 could be translated: “America, America, you who kill the prophets and those who are sent to you! How often I wanted to gather you together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

It is Satan’s subtle devices that are the most dangerous. That is why in our society, which is so given over to materialism and hedonism, we need to be even more aware of his schemes so that we can better stand against him.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.” (Romans 13:1-3 NIV)

Many in the Church have interpreted these verses to mean that all believers should obey the government because its authority has been ordained of God for our good. This particular view is a gross distortion of the truth. And the most dangerous lie is the one that is the closest to the truth, but is not.

We should learn what Romans 13 really means. I’ve found that when a certain text that doesn’t seem logical, it’s useful to look at the actions of the writer and the context in which it is written to see if it is consistent with your interpretation of his teaching.

Paul writes that “whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” But the book of Acts shows Paul repeatedly doing just that! So there must be something wrong with our understanding of the text.

Some modern translations make Bible verses more clear than the King James Version, while others misinterpret the true meaning. The Greek word used in Romans 13:1 for ‘governing authorities’ is ἐξουσία (exousia) and refers to the authority instituted by God, or what the King James Version refers to as ‘higher powers’. So the obvious question is just who or what are the higher powers?

Obviously, in the spiritual realm, there are good and bad powers. On one side we have the Lord and his great angelic host. In the other group, we find Lucifer and the fallen angels, who most certainly qualify as a ‘higher power’ for Satan is referred to as the “prince of the power of the air.” (Ephesians 2:2) Later in that same book, Paul tells us, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Common sense should tell us that Paul is not telling us to be subject to the satanic higher powers in the spiritual realm, so why do we assume he is telling us to be subject to evil earthly powers? How could it be scriptural for us to cooperate with the earthly agents of spiritual wickedness?

The next verse says “Whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” If we resist the evil in the spiritual realm, it’s clear that we won’t bring judgment on ourselves as a result. How then, could this verse mean that if we resist evil in the earthly realm we receive judgment from God? In other words, in cases where the evil is vested in government, the idea that we are to no longer resist this evil is ludicrous!

When Paul had been beaten illegally by evil men within the Roman government, he refused their command to come out of the jail and defiantly says, “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” (Acts 16:37) Isn’t that resisting the earthly governing authorities?

And after Peter and the apostles were released from jail they were brought before the Sanhedrin and were given strict orders not to teach in Jesus’ name. (Act 5:12-29) Peter told them, “We ought to obey God rather than men. “ The NLT is translated as, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”

The second time that Peter is assisted in a jail-break by an angel, (Acts 12:7) did he bring judgment on himself because he left his jail cell without permission? How is breaking out of jail obeying the government?

Paul is telling us we must not resist the righteous power of God when it is manifested in the various earthly sectors of government. But as far as I can see, God’s righteous power is rarely manifested in government. While corruption can exist in any human organization, it seems that corruption in government is the worst. The 2013 Global Corruption Barometer, published by Transparency International, reported that people worldwide have the perception that the five most corrupt institutions are: political parties, the police, public officials, the legislature, and the judiciary.

King David gives us definitive instructions when he tells us to “Defend the poor and fatherless.” (Psalms 82:3) Wouldn’t that include a baby that is murdered as he is trying to be born? Under the current law, a doctor can legally murder a baby while still in its mother’s womb. Yet it’s against the government’s law to even protest this hideous crime within so many yards of the murderer’s so called, medical facility! Where do we draw the line?

We are expected to obey God rather than the government – regardless of what the government tells us is legal or illegal.

For example, a 90 year old Florida man, Arnold Abbott, was arrested for feeding homeless people. Abbott and two pastors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were charged for feeding the homeless in public, a new ordinance banning public food sharing. Now they face possible jail time and a $500 fine! But they chose to “obey God rather than men.” Abbott said the threat of charges won’t stop him from doing it again. “I’m not afraid of jail. I’m not looking to go, but if I have to, I will,” he said. On Dec. 2 a judge ordered the city to temporarily stop enforcing the law. Judge Thomas Lynch told all sides to enter into mediation during a 30-day period. That mediation has not yet begun.

We must always remember that God’s Kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36) And if we become conformed to the ways of this world, how can we then be “counted worthy of the kingdom of God” for which so many are suffering? (2 Thessalonians 1:5)

“Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—a throne that brings on misery by its decrees? The wicked band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the LORD our God will destroy them.” (Psalm 20-23)

The question you need to ask yourself is, are you committed to obeying God rather than man, or are you committing spiritual fornication by obeying the corrupt government of man rather than God?

January is not yet over and many of our New Year’s Resolutions have already been forgotten. After all, most will have to admit that our New Year’s Resolutions are just a feeble attempt to fix ourselves to make ourselves more acceptable to others. And when we cannot live up to our own expectations to make ourselves better, we tend to give up and store those resolutions in the deep recesses of our conscience.

Fortunately, God loves us just as we are, not as we should be. God’s love for me and his commitment to me does not depend on my resolve to change, but on God’s resolve not to give up on me.

The good news that gets me through bad times is that God’s devotion to me is not dependent on any attempt of mine to change myself—it’s knowing that my messes are always met with God’s mercy, my failures with his forgiveness, and my guilt with his grace, that helps me survive my daily disappointments with me.

The Gospel of Jesus is good news to those who’ve been crushed by the trials of life—unpaid medical bills, foreclosure notices, the death of a loved one, a wayward child, and so many others; because in our weakness He is made strong in us! (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) Jesus makes the ordinary extraordinary; and because Jesus succeeded for you, you cannot fail!

So, as this New Year gets under way, I’m still going to try and get better, but it’s much less stressful to know that I can live my life dependent on God rather than on myself.

That’s why I refuse to give up!

The Columbine High School massacre, the Sandy Hook shooting, and the mass shooting at the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, were all perpetrated by white males, who obviously suffered from mental illness—Stark reminders that crazy people live among us. Many have debated whether we should create more institutions for the mentally ill in order to protect us from these dangerous individuals.

But what should we do about the typical gang violence in major cities that we see broadcasted on the local news? Every night it seems that a similar story is told: “Police have responded to the scene of a shooting; Police believe the shooting was gang-related; No suspects have been arrested.”

People living in neighborhoods with known gang populations where these types of shootings frequently happen represent a legitimate fear of private citizens, parents, children and business owners who live, work, and go to school in these neighborhoods.

Five year old Payton Benson was killed when three callous gunmen peppered her street with a barrage of bullets and one of the bullets shot and killed the little girl as she sat eating her breakfast.

Stephen Arps and Johnnesha Brown were shot just outside Brown’s parents’ home near 45th Street and Grand Avenue in Omaha, Ne.

Even those trying to change the gang environment in their neighborhood are not immune to it. An anti-gang activist’s 16-year-old son, Charles Trotter, who has acknowledged ties to the 37th Street Crips in Omaha, has been charged in the shooting deaths of two men at a party.

Can we just pray it away?
An Omaha group called ‘First Responders’ have been meeting together at places where community members have been violently murdered. They meet to pray for the victims’ families and believe they will help reduce violence in Omaha by mobilizing people from churches and neighborhoods all over Omaha to pray together. Two prayer walks were already held in Omaha soon after the New Year began in response to two shootings that left three people dead.

Unfortunately, prayer alone won’t deter gang violence. It hasn’t worked in Chicago, It hasn’t worked in Detroit, and it won’t work in cities where the minority black population works overtime to fight against violent crime in their neighborhoods.

Don’t misunderstand, I believe in prayer. And I believe that we should rally around the friends and families of victims of gang violence and support them in prayer. I also believe that many of God’s miracles are wrought in the bowels of the prayers of godly men and women. But if prayer alone would stop violence, then we should be holding prayer-walks along the Mexican/ US border and in every country where violence is destroying lives.

We need to understand that gang violence grows out of a distorted mind-set. When David Wilkerson went to New York to minister to the gangs there, he didn’t hold prayer-walks at the scene of murders. Instead, led by God’s spirit, he reached out to the gang members in order to change their mind-set of violence.

Sometimes, one of the biggest hindrances to reducing gang violence is the news media sensationalizing every gun-related crime that happens. These stories get played over and over again with the pictures of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes plastered across the TV screen until they’re burned into peoples’ memory. They give these criminals their 5-minutes of fame while the victims are barely mentioned!

Most people recognize the names of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, but how many would recognize the names Kelly Fleming, Matthew Kechter, or William Sanders? Many in the Omaha area will recognize Nikko Jenkins’ name, but do they know who Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz and Juan Uribe-Pena were?

During the time of Noah, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) There it is—the people of Noah’s day had a mind-set of violence! All the bloodshed, murders, etc. that take place are the fruit of a mind-set of violence. And God blames all violence on a mind-set. (Thoughts and intents of the heart) “In your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth.” (Psalm 58:2)

It starts with the children.
Changing a mind-set has to start with the children. If a child grows up with love, attention, compassion and understanding, then he will not pull out a gun and kill others when he is older.
Being a parent is the most important job in this world. And we need to take seriously the responsibility of teaching them love, respect and everything else that will assist them in growing up to be moral and loving adults.

How can we expect a teen or a young adult to be an asset to society if he is brought up in an environment where there is no love or respect in the home? Many of those that kill are hurting—and they’re angry. They hate their life, and because they cannot stand it, they lash out in violence.

As Christians and as fellow human beings, we should look out for those who are hurting, sad and angry, and let them know that they are not alone. Usually, we ignore the signs because it’s so much easier to walk away.

Robert Wildeboer, a criminal and legal affairs reporter, discovered that the city of Toronto has about one seventh the number of murders than Chicago, even though the two cities are of equal size. He observed that a key difference is that the public in Toronto demands a crime-free society, and that this expectation filters through the neighborhoods, the news media, politicians, lawmakers, and law enforcement. http://www.wbez.org/series/under-gun-murder-chicago-and-toronto
To me, this observation suggests a striking possibility: that by refusing to accept criminal behavior as acceptable, we can actually reduce it.

David Wilkerson saw firsthand the advantages of using the weight of his thoughts on the side of respect, love and forgiveness. Rather than thinking of individuals as irredeemably corrupt, or concluding that violence will always be a part of their life, he believed that God’s constant influence of calm, clarity, integrity, and goodness would have a better and lasting effect. http://www.historymakers.info/inspirational-christians/david-wilkerson.html

Separating the crime from the individual is difficult, but without addressing the underlying cause, the crime will continue—and there will be a thousand others to carry it out. The prisons are already filled with them.

Instead, each of us must think properly and prayerfully about the issue of violent crime. Rather than responding with fear, we can insist that violence in our cities and our lives is not an unavoidable fact of life.

I believe that if we join hands in prayer with our neighbors facing violent crime we can succeed in separating crime from our humanity and realize that violence is not a “necessary evil.” There is no criminal legitimacy. Crime is opportunistic, cowardly and non-intelligence. Our responsibility to our neighbors around us is to reject the idea that crime has any legitimacy, and separate it entirely from our humanity.

This prayerful approach will not only enable us to support our neighbors, but will also lead to appropriate law enforcement measures to curb violence and give us safer cities and neighborhoods. It is only then that our communities will begin to be filled with good citizens and neighbors and bring us all closer to our rightful inheritance.

A wind-chill advisory was in effect today until noon for the Omaha area and parts to the south toward Nebraska City, Falls City and Beatrice and sections west that included Lincoln, Grand Island, Kearney and Hastings. The advisory was also issued for extreme northwest Iowa and most of southwest Iowa.

As a bitter cold front is making its way into the Metro area in Omaha this week, furnaces will be set on high, and people will be bundled up trying to keep warm as they venture outdoors. Wind chill will set record temperatures as low as 30 below zero. With temperatures forecast to be below zero for highs, being outside can be deadly.

The cold ripped through my body in just the few minutes it took me to take out the trash today—so how can someone survive for long periods of time outdoors in this? Where do the homeless go when temperatures get dangerous?

Local shelters have been preparing to absorb more people because of the cold.
Mike Saklar, Executive Director of the Siena/Francis House in Omaha said, “This is very dangerous weather.” Mike has seen this before. He sees the homeless every day and knows that when the weather gets dangerously cold like it means that some will show up suffering from the cold. Although Mike and the staff at the Sienna/Francis House always expect an increase in visitors in cold weather, it’s an overwhelming challenge now because of the already extreme overcrowding.

The Sienna/Francis House has a policy of never turning anyone away who shows up. Rather than referring to visitors as clients, Mike and his staff refer to the homeless as guests. Mike considers himself as a kind of Shepard; and like any good shepherd, he knows that he’ll have to try and look for some of the lost sheep on the cold streets of Omaha. “We’ll send out patrols every hour looking for people.” He said. “And we’ll do it all night.”

Teens are especially vulnerable when the weather turns cold. Because of young people aging out of foster care system or an abusive family situation, many youth end up on the streets to fend for themselves. Shawn Miller of Youth Emergency Services said he would locate shelter for any teenager who needed it. He expected 60 or more teens to show up for Tuesday’s pantry night near 26th and Harney Streets. “We’ll do whatever we can to make them safe for the night,” said Miller, outreach coordinator for YES. That includes transportation to a shelter, a friend’s home or anywhere else they’ve found to stay.

It only takes a moment.
It can only take a matter of minutes for someone to suffer from frostbite in bitter cold. Dr. Mindy Lacey, of UNMC, said, “The most common areas that we see that get frost bite are the ears, nose, fingers and toes.” The worst effect of frostbite is with the onset of tingling or numbness and not understanding what’s happening. For the vulnerable or those who simply don’t know better, waiting too long after being exposed to the cold, could cause them to suffer irreparable damage.

Places like the Open Door Mission in Omaha are seeing a lot more people who need a place to keep warm too. “All of our beds on campus are filled, but we can always drag out another mat, we can get more blankets, linens and pillows,” said Candace Gregory, CEO of the Open Door Mission. “The Open Door Mission is already overflowing.” She said. “All of the shelter’s 860 beds are full, and on Monday night there were nearly 200 men, women and children sleeping on mats.” The Lydia House, a shelter for women and children at the Open Door Mission, has also seen an increase of 37 percent. They are maxed out at that facility.

Del Bomberger, executive director of the Stephen Center, said his shelter has plenty of mats and floor space in the gym at its temporary location in the old St. Mary Catholic School, at 5310 S. 36th St.

There are approximately 2000 homeless men, women and children in the Omaha Metro Area each night. Brutal weather has left workers scrambling to provide enough space, blankets, coats and gloves for those seeking refuge from the cold.

How you can help
Below is a list of critical needs for homeless shelters. You can drop these off at any of the local shelters in your area.

• Blankets, sheets, and pillows
• Gloves, hats, and coats of all sizes
• Men’s and women’s wool socks
• Thermal underwear – size small, medium, large and X-large
• Winter boots of all sizes

Living on the streets is dangerous any time of year, but that’s especially dangerous when temperatures dip below freezing. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, approximately 700 homeless people die from hypothermia every year. But unless someone is underage, you can’t force them to come inside. If you know someone is living outside and you can’t get them to seek shelter, call the police and let them know, so they can take them to one of the shelters, because…

No one should die just because they’re homeless.

Their stories are as varied as their circumstances. Some of the homeless have graduate degrees; others served with honor in the military; still others once held high-paying jobs. What causes homelessness? A serious illness or disability, a lost job, and domestic violence are among many reasons. But even so, there are some important lessons we can learn from the homeless:

1. Be content with what you have
You might be surprised to know that there are a lot of homeless people who are quite content with their lot in life. Many are happy to be out of the rat race and free of the trappings that the rest of us have in our lives. Not only that, many homeless people remain upbeat and positive despite what life has thrown their way.

2. Be Thrifty
Homeless people know the value of a dollar in a way few of us can understand. And they know how to make it last. Every quarter, dime, nickel or penny that comes their way is used in the most efficient way possible. You won’t ever see a homeless person paying for a $5 coffee at Starbucks when they can get it for free at any day shelter across the city. We could learn a thing or two from them about spending wisely.

3. Be Resourceful
We’re conditioned from a pretty early age to get a good education, work hard, earn a good paycheck and then buy what we want. But many homeless people don’t have the benefit of a good education—or a good paycheck. But they do know where every food pantry and soup kitchen is; when every bakery disposes of their day-old products; and where the best thrift stores are. They feed and clothe themselves on their own initiative and savvy. We should all try to cultivate this kind of resourcefulness.

4. Help others
Being homeless is no picnic for those unfortunate enough to find themselves on the street. However, if you were to watch them closely you would discover that many of them share what they have with other homeless people. This should challenge us to share what we have with those around us as well. There are a thousand daily comforts we take for granted that homeless people never get to enjoy. We have these luxuries that we keep to ourselves while others go without. We should share with others out of the abundance that we have, because in the end, we’re no different than anyone else, and tragedy could befall us as well.

5. Persevere
A homeless person will stand at a corner all day begging for change or for any kind of work. I know there are stories of some people begging on street corners who are not really homeless, but they are the exception rather than the norm. Most of those you see on street corners really are homeless. They tough it out for as long as it takes, every day, to get enough money to eat and maybe a bed for the night. They don’t get sick days or vacations and many of them refuse welfare handouts, choosing instead to work for every penny they get.

Many of them look at their homelessness as a ministry. They persevere because they know that they are homeless for God’s greater purpose—the same purpose that God put us in our homes, at our jobs, and with our families. No matter what our economic status is, we should all be willing to learn from the homeless.

The Bible speaks plainly about homelessness:

“If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.” (Leviticus 25:35-36)

“Then the King will say to those on the right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, `Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will tell them, `I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:34-40)

Many people ignore the homeless, I think because they believe there is little they can do to “fix them”. But it seems to me that we’re the ones who need to be fixed. Anyway, it’s not God’s intention that we “fix” the homeless any more than it is His intention that the homeless fix us.

The apostle Paul wrote that we are one body in Christ. (Romans 12:5) Everyone—rich, poor, every race, every age—has a legitimate role to play in that body. We may go to a homeless shelter, or an orphanage, or a nursing home with the intention of helping someone else, but ultimately, we will be helping each other become the body God envisioned from before creation.

Mother Teresa, who worked with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta for most of her life said, “God makes no distinctions between rich and poor. In fact, the rich are often poor in spirit, while the poor may have many qualities the financially wealthy lack.”

Think about this: Every one of us is spiritually homeless. We live in temporary bodies, in a temporary house, on a temporary planet. No matter how modest or grand our living situation is now, we are all waiting to take our permanent places in God’s kingdom.

The most important thing we can learn from the homeless is that God has not forsaken them—and He’ll not forsake us either.