When Life is too Complicated, Simplify

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo DaVinci

Sometimes I think we make things way more complicated than we should. There was a news story the other day about a little boy who was being disciplined at school for pointing his finger like it was a gun. It seems that the school had a zero tolerance policy on weapons in school and the little boy had violated it. The school's position was based on that thorny issue of where to draw the line on zero tolerance. I have a suggestion for them: Common sense!

I have a friend who traded a kid for his Dad's souvenir bazooka shell on his way to school one morning in the 1960's. Since he couldn't go back home and risk being late for school, he just brought his new prized possession on to school with him. He was quite a hit with the other kids that morning. He was also quite a hit with his principal, who called him into the office to determine if he had lost his mind or just his judgment. When the proper determination was made, the matter was closed. Pain was involved, a lesson was learned, and the matter was settled. No lawyers were needed... when men and women used simple common sense.

Oh, for the days when principals were allowed to use common sense.

Now, I realize that we live in an era where kids cannot be permitted to bring bazooka shells to school, but that's not the point. The point is that when society cannot distinguish between weapons of mass destruction and a six year-old's finger, we may have made things too complicated. It's time to simplify!

The same is true in our service to God. We have so many intellectuals in religion today that we are ruining Christianity. So many people are teaching so many things about Christian living that we begin to wonder if anyone can understand what God's will is. But we can, you know - God was not incompetent in the giving of His word, nor was He being tricky. The solution to the problems of every day life isn't all that complicated: It's to simplify! We don't need lawyers to tell us how to handle six year-old fingers, nor do we need experts in the law to tell  us what God really meant. We just need to read the Bible ourselves and then do what it says.

My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6, NIV

Seek and you will find. Matthew 7:7, NIV


When did Profanity become Acceptable?

Frankly my dear...                                                                                                                                           

We don't even have to complete the sentence as nearly everyone knows the rest of the phrase by heart. It was scandalous when first uttered in 1939, but scandal sells so well... in America. The voices of concern were drowned out by the "adult" voices of that era (insisting that those offended should just grow up) and that hole in the dyke of virtue has since become a tidal wave that has flooded our society with every type of unholy and profane speech imaginable.

When I was a kid, Beaver Cleaver would have been skinned for the mildest profanity, Opie Taylor would have been banned from Mayberry, and Father Knows Best would have been promptly cancelled had father or mother uttered just one of the words that are so frequently heard in the popular "family" shows of our era. Even today's conservative news and talk show hosts would have been banned from the airwaves just a few short years ago, for the type of language that passes for the commonplace in our modern, "grown up" society.

What has happened to us? What has happened is that we have become numb. Even some of our public school teachers, coaches and many of our college professors find it difficult to construct a simple sentence without spicing it up with a choice word or two.  Once a language reserved for the most base of men, profanity is now the playground for many of our teen aged daughters and the proving ground of the modern business woman.

It is time, I believe, for a change. Perhaps we should consider if profanity is the type of language that we would use in the presence of the Lord (and He is in our presence, you know). Perhaps we should once again respect one another, and maybe even have a bit more respect for ourselves. Perhaps it is time to clean up our language again and just grow up.

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Col. 3:7-8, NIV


What Will We Do Without Kindness?

A mistake made by many people with great convictions is that they will let nothing stand in the way of their views, not even kindness. Bryant McGill

I've been trying to figure out exactly where kindness is hiding out these days when it comes to the leadership in America. What passes today for "high minded" debate in the political arena is much more akin to a mud fight between three year olds who have missed both snack and nap times. It would be bad enough if it were only bad manners and childish behavior, but our Republican and Democrat leaders genuinely seem to hate one another.

I confess that I have watched C-Span since it first came out a few decades ago. I remember Senators and Congressmen alike getting up and talking about their  esteemed friends on the other side of the aisle. They might have been on polar opposite sides, but they at least (with some notable exceptions) treated one another with some dignity and respect. But now, the conversations from the smallest town mayors to the President of the United States are often filled with what can only be described as vitriol and hatred.

As I watch these disagreeable men and women acting and speaking as if they are talking about the devil himself, I cannot help but wonder if they remember why they came to Washington in the first place. I know that many came in pursuit of ultimate power, but I like to think that some came to serve. The only problem is that you cannot effectively serve without kindness.

I can honestly say that I have never seen a true friend, a parent, a teacher, a coach, or any politician who had lasting success without kindness. I know that there are times to disagree, but I also know that we can do so without hate. Until our politicians learn this, I wonder if we can ever enjoy even the smallest amount of success as a nation. I am convinced this is one of the pressing issues of our modern times. I believe we should be thinking about it, praying about it, and then voting accordingly for... what will we do without kindness?

The Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone... II Timothy 2:24, NIV


What Will You Do With Your Turn?

It's your turn.  

Jack W. Carter

I still remember the day, over 25 years ago, that I first heard Jack speak on this theme. He talked about how this life is our turn. We can use it in any way we want, because it's our turn. If we should so choose, we can spend it in pursuit of the party life, making our way through life in a drunken or drugged fog, if we want... because it's our turn.

Or, we could spend our efforts in pursuit of lust and physical pleasures. We could live our lives in the promiscuous immorality of adultery or fornication or homosexuality if we want... because it's our turn. We could make it our life goal to pursue the almighty dollar - not caring who we step on upon our way to the top, if we want - and God would let us do it... because it's our turn.

You see God has given us, for lack of a better description, a turn here on earth. He wants to find out if we will serve Him or if we will take this turn for our own selfish desires. He will let us do anything that we want during our turn, but we have to remember two things: First, God will call us to account some day. There really will be a day of reckoning and the wise man will ask himself, "What then?" The other thing that we need to know is this:

We were called to something better!

What about you? What are you doing with your turn? Do you realize the price of the ticket for your turn was the shed blood of Jesus? Perhaps, you don't know... or perhaps you just don't care, but that's okay because God will let you do whatever you want with your turn... until your turn is through.

But, for those in the pursuit of excellence and purity and holiness and joy, there is God's way. So, how about you? What will you do with your turn? 

The length of days is seventy years - or eighty, if we have the strength... Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom.   

Psalms 90:10-12, NIV (Moses)


What to do with a Prodigal Son

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there  squandered his wealth in wild living. Luke 15:13, NIV

One of the most important yet difficult lessons that we must learn as children of God is that He does not enable sin. It's interesting to note how many people will accuse God of abandoning them at the very time they need Him most - yet nothing could be farther from the truth. If God is not with us, it is only because we left Him.

Jesus illustrates this fact in the parable of the prodigal son. In the parable the son comes to the father and asks for his inheritance. A bit bold when you think about it, seeing as how the father was not dead, but the father acquiesced to his son's request all the same. Then the prodigal son did what all prodigal sons do: He left home so he could enjoy some wild living out of the sight and control of his father.

Something else took place that eventually happens to all prodigal sons - he ran out of money. Then the country he was in began to experience a famine (have you ever noticed how there always seems to be a famine in our own lives... whenever we leave God?). Then the son began to starve.

It is vital that we understand what the father was doing during this time. He did not go looking for the son, or wire him additional funds, nor did he in any way enable his son to continue his life of sin. But he never stopped looking for the son to come home. And the son eventually came to his senses and started back to the father - not for more money for more wild living, but to repent and ask to serve.

Here is something else that is vital for us to understand: The moment the son started back the father saw and ran to meet him because he had been watching for his son to come to his senses and to come home.

We as parents (or prodigals) can learn something from this parable. First, if our kids turn away to sin, don't rush after them to clean up their mess. Second, don't invite them back home as long as they are sinning, or they will bring their mess into your home. Third, and this is really important, never give up looking and praying for them to come back... on God's terms for they will come back to do good only if you will not allow them to come back to do evil. We can learn a lot from God, if we will just open our eyes and our hearts.

When he came to his senses, he said... "I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men. So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Luke 15:17-20,NIV