Following simple directions can make life so much easier

Each generation has had trouble with directions in some form. As much as I like to poke fun at the current generation, and it’s easy pickings because I teach in a college, I am reminded of my most embarrassing moment as well.

In 9th grade biology we were given a list of instructions on a page. At the top it read: “Be sure to read all the instructions before beginning.” It was a list of silly activities to do, including writing your name backward on the chalkboard in the front of the classroom.

Of course, 90 percent of us DIDN’T read the instructions all the way through and were completely red-faced when we went through all the instructions, step by step, only to discover the very last instruction said: “Ignore all previous instructions and write your name correctly in the lower right hand corner of the side chalkboard.” About 5 people had done that and then sat back and watched the rest of us look like idiots.

So when I put simple instructions up in a classroom today and find with those instructions staring students right in the face and they STILL don’t follow them… I remember that embarrassing moment in my life.

Following simple instructions all the way through can make life so much easier. God has that in mind for us. He his BEST in mind for us… and we keep wanting to skip certain sets of rules we just don’t like. Or… we just didn’t see them.

Following what is BEST from the Father really does make life quite a bit more manageable.

RIP Dean Smith

Great tribute HERE.

There is a generation of great coaches passing from us. For guys like Dean Smith, it wasn’t just about a game. It was about life. He worked hard to help a lot of young men. He worked hard to help change a culture.

RESPECT.

Christianity isn’t about a search for comfort

“Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort or truth — only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair. Most of us have got over the pre-war wishful thinking about international politics. It is time we did the same about religion.” — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 

Remembering Dr. King

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

— Excerpt, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

A seed falling into the ground

The earthquake in Haiti that claimed over 200,000 lives took place five years ago.

NBC carried a story last night that remembered that tragedy and how one family came out of that tragedy after losing their daughter. She was there on a mission and had texted her parents that she knew what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. Three hours later the earthquake hit and she was gone.

Today, something powerful rises up out of her heart and sacrifice. This is a wonderful story.

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (Jn 12:24)

The Kingdom of God and severe reactions

It’s a bit of an odd world when, in the past few weeks, we’ve had some deep American need to “defend free speech” by going to see a very stupid movie about North Korea.

And now, it’s everyone claiming, “I am Charlie Hebdo” in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris on a satirical newspaper. We’re defending the right to “free speech,” which was all about offending Islam and other major religions.

David Brooks quickly reminds us that “free speech” may be a great idea for a French magazine, but it wouldn’t exist on most college campuses in America.

Islamic fundamentalists have severe reactions as well. Kill opposition. It’s a new Middle Ages the world has been plunged into: “I’m right. You’re wrong. Therefore, you must die.”

The Kingdom of God MUST be different. In every way.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:21)

Christianity will continue to be ridiculed, just as Islam will be poked at. We must be different. We don’t firebomb newspaper offices or kill writers.

At the same time it is the harsh realization that Christians will suffer far more than just a stupid cartoon. It’s the crisis going on throughout the Middle East and some parts of Africa. They are simply killed and cleared out of villages.

It’s also important to note that we don’t overcome threats, real or perceived, by going to stupid movies or supporting poor speech. Free speech allows for poor speech, but that doesn’t mean you call free speech “good” speech. Satirists have a place in society, but as David Brooks points out, they don’t all get to sit at the “adult table.” Rejoice in free speech, but that doesn’t mean it’s “good” speech.

In the Kingdom of God, move toward “good” speech. Move toward blessing. 

It is a more difficult way that must be empowered by the Spirit… but as believers in Christ, THAT is our call.