Assigning Blame

To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult.

Plutarch

 

The year was 1971, and I was about eleven. The ramp had been set about five feet from the curb and all of the neighborhood's engineers, stunt men and advisers to the engineers and stuntmen were present. I sat astride my green stingray bike with the banana seat and cheater bar and prepared for the jump . I can remember to this day the thoughts that raced through my head as I sped towards that ramp: "Do I need more speed so that I can make a grass landing or less speed so I can land in front of the curb?"

 

This is the type of technical analysis that really should be completed before one gets on the bike.

 

I hit the curb with the front wheel of my bike and then I hit the sidewalk... with my head. Some time later my Mom found me wandering through the house hollering, "It's hatching, it's hatching!" She rushed me to the doctor's office where The results of the CAT scan confirmed Dad's long-held suspicion: Nothing there. Now all that was left was to assign blame.

 

Today it would much more complicated. The proper authorities would have to determine if I was wearing the proper safety equipment. Other government agencies would be called in to determine if Mom and Dad were providing adequate parental supervision. The lawyers would want to know where we got the wood for the ramp, who manufactured the bicycle, and who poured the concrete for the curb. All would have to be brought to justice.

 

But in 1971 it was clear to me what the problem was: I should have built up more speed - any child of eleven could see that.  I would not make that same mistake again. The blame was mine!

 

We live in a world where it is important to assign blame, for it is always someone else's fault. So we train more lawyers and build more prisons and  open more courthouses and pass more regulations. Then we are surprised to discover that bad things still happen. We need to learn what Plutarch discovered 1900 years ago (and what I discovered 40 years ago): The secret to life is not in finding out what is wrong with others - it's in taking responsibility for our own shortcomings. Jesus knew that even before me and Plutarch came along.

 

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own?... You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. 

Matthew 7:3&5, NIV

 

Today is day 6 of the 30 day challenge, with the reading for today being the 8th through the 14th chapters of the Book of Mark. I pray that God will richly bless your efforts as you seek His will through His word!

 

Are You Narrow Minded?

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it." Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14, NIV)

Are you narrow minded? Most of us would be quick to claim the exact opposite. Why, we would never be narrow minded - we are broad minded. Our minds are open, open, open! So open, at times, that we are in danger of having all of those fantastic brains just slipping clean out of our heads.

There are some areas that we need to be narrow minded. We need to be narrow minded when it comes to sin. God defines sin and He does so very explicitly, so why do we sometimes act as if sin is open for debate? And why, when it comes to the path that God has laid out, do we act as if the wide path is better?

You have heard all of the popular arguments: "We are all going to the same place, just by different paths" or, "I'm OK, you're OK" or "It's just an alternate lifestyle". These are all fine and good in our broad-minded, politically correct religious world... but it was Jesus who said to take the narrow way, not some narrow minded, bigoted preacher.

There's one more thing to consider when it comes to that narrow path that Jesus said few would find: He also said that those who looked for it would find it! Maybe Jesus isn't so narrow minded after all. Maybe He just wants to spare us from the pain and eternal loss that has always been found on that broad path. The "many paths to the same place" arguments sound so enticingly open-minded. But Jesus recommends the narrow path. Which will you choose?

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find... for everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds... I am the Way...,  Matthew 7:7-8, John 14:6, NIV

 

A Record in Honesty

The great hope of society is individual character. Channing

Have you ever noticed that they don't pass out trophies for the truly important? Oh, sure, they give them to sports champions, spelling bee winners and best of show pigs, but not for character - maybe that's why there are so few people who are truly accomplished in this area. And then there are people like Bobby Palacio.

Bobby was a Jr. High student whose #1 goal was to set the school record for the rope climb. It seemed that he had worked forever towards this goal when finally the day arrived. He stood beneath the rope and awaited the coach's signal. The whistle blew, Bobby scrambled up the rope and reached for the top. The stopwatch revealed what Bobby had dreamed about and worked toward for so long: A new school record.

The coach had only one question - he was not sure that Bobby's hand had actually touched the top beam. It was very close and only Bobby knew for sure. Still, the question had to be asked: "Bobby, did you touch?" Bobby, still a boy but with the integrity that many grown men never achieve, simply shook his head no. "Bobby", his coach said, "you still have one more attempt. This time I want you to jump just a bit higher and give it all you have." The whistle blew, Bobby jumped and scrambled up that rope and hit the top with his hand. The result? A new school record! A new city record - perhaps even a new state record!

But, the coach was later to comment that he had been in the presence of greatness - not because of the record set for speed, but for the record and example that a Jr. High boy had set for honesty. The really fine thing about such character is that you don't need a trophy to prove that you have it. And, no amount of awards or trophies can ever compensate for the lack of it.

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Proverbs 12:19, NIV

 

A Quiet Place With Jesus

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.

Anne Frank

Some of the most difficult challenges we will ever face will come during times of noisy confusion and turmoil. I think moms can relate to this on the days that the baby is fussy and needs more attention, the same day the washer goes out, the same day that Dad needs her to run an errand, the same day that little Mary or Johnny come home crying from some great catastrophe at school, the same day that...

Dads can relate on the day their car breaks down in traffic, the same day that their boss is a terror because they are late from said breakdown, the same day they come home to a frazzled wife because she has been staying home with all of the above mentioned problems. So, how do we handle these things?

We get away to a quiet place.

Now, we all know that you cannot just drop everything and leave, so we will have to wait for the right time - but when the right time comes, grab hold of it with both hands! Maybe you can't get away to a serene mountain top or quiet brook, but you can go outside to the back porch and star gaze for a moment or two. You can slip away to your bedroom and kneel before God for a quiet minute of prayer. Or you can get up while everyone is still sleeping and take a peaceful walk. I do that just about every morning and I can assure you that it is far more refreshing than the few minutes of sleep that we miss from getting up a half-hour early.

The point is that we need to find quiet times to spend with our Lord or life will not work as it should. One more thing about this: You should not feel like those few minutes alone with God and Christ are "stealing" time from those who need you. A refreshed person with a proper relationship with God will become far more able to meet the needs of those around them in this busy, noisy world that we call home.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even get a chance to eat, He said to them,

"Come with me by yourselves to a quite place and get some rest". 

Mark 6:31, NIV

 

 

A Prescription for Peace

Peace is the deliberate adjustment of my life to the will of God. 

Anonymous

Ever had one of those days where everyone seems to need something from you? Since you are eager to help, you try to please everyone - only to find out that there are not enough hours in the day. Then you go to bed too late and then get up too early the next day to catch up on the things left undone. Then January somehow turns into December, and you still haven't slowed down. Sound familiar?

I read several years ago about such a man. He had an important job and felt that only he could handle  the really vital matters, so he burned the candle at both ends. Finally the stress caught up to him and he went to the doctor for help. The doctor listened to his symptoms, as well as his lifestyle, and made his diagnosis. He told the businessman that he could give him a prescription that would take care of his nerves, but went on to tell the man that he probably wouldn't follow his recommendations so there was no sense in giving the prescription.

The man, desperate for relief, promised the doctor that he would follow his orders - if only the doctor would give him the prescription. This is what the doctor ordered: Take the afternoon off and visit the cemetery. The man was furious and told the doctor that the suggestion was ridiculous and that he would not agree to such folly. But the man was reminded that he had given his word so, reluctantly, he agreed. Do you know what he found?

He found grave after grave of important men who thought the world could not function in their absence. He passed tombstone after tombstone with names of people whose lives were over but whose eternities had just begun. These men had been just like him. And the important businessman realized that the things that he thought so important, really weren't that important at all. And, the man changed. Could you use such a change?

Then... breathe! Take a quiet moment and start your day with God's word and just see if your life doesn't change. Take a few precious moments and thank our Father for your incredible blessings. Instead of going to a cemetery for a few hours, why not allow the Lord to lead you for a few minutes each day beside those still waters. And, may I recommend, that you see for yourself what it means to be a child of the King, rather than the too-busy master of your own universe. Take this prescription and find the peace that you have been seeking.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul... 

Psalms 23:1-3, NKJV