Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blown Calls and God's Grace

The Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football last week.  Well…I need to be clear.  The Seahawks kind of beat the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football last week. 

In front of a national audience, on the last play of the game, the referees made an incorrect call.  That incorrect call awarded the Seahawks six points they didn’t deserve.  As a result, the Seahawks won.

The following morning, news outlets of all shapes and sizes reported the blown call.  They replayed footage of the play over and over and over again, underscored by negative commentary.  News anchors, analysts, talk show hosts, and their long lost relatives complained, criticized, and bemoaned the officiating. The American media was on the attack.

I am glad that the American media isn’t interested in my mistakes.  I would hate it if they broadcast the replay of my worst moments over and over again.  Analysts would find a lot to complain about, criticize, and bemoan.  It would be embarrassing and heartbreaking to listen to.

The Apostle Paul encouraged early Christians to avoid such commentary with other Christians.  He says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Paul encourages early Christians to use the grace God extends to us in Jesus as an example of how to extend grace to others.  Because we have been forgiven much, we forgive much.

As you go through the coming week, look for simple ways to extend grace when people make mistakes.  If a waiter messes up your order, be kind and tip anyway.  Tell them Jesus loves them.  If a co-worker is late filing an important report, point out an area of their work that has benefited you in the past.  Thank them for it.  In a world that loves to complain and criticize and bemoan mistakes, forgive and move on.  If you do, you’ll look back at the replay and find that you made the right call.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hope in Future Success

Teachers are changing their tune about education.  For years, educators assumed that cognitive abilities are the greatest indicator of future success.  If a child could understand and use information, they were thought to be more likely to succeed.  Those who had difficulty grasping the same information were thought to be less likely to succeed.
According to a New York Times article, researchers are finding that those assumptions are false.  As it turns out, perseverance, determination, and character are far better indicators of success.  Those who exhibit the ability to overcome adversity have a greater likelihood of achieving desired ends in the future.

Christians have their own take on this.  The Apostle Paul wrote the church in Rome and insisted that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character and character produces hope.  Overcoming adversity can be an indicator of success.  It just isn’t an indicator of our future success as much as it is God’s. 

As Christians experience adversity, we learn to trust in God.  As we trust in God, we recognize His provision.  As we recognize His provision through life's many challenges, we get a glimpse of the big picture.  We start to sense that a day is coming when every adverse situation will be overcome – a day when Jesus returns and sets the entire world straight.  In this way thinking, overcoming adversity is a huge road sign pointing to Christ’s future success in His second coming.

You may be faced with some hardship this morning.  You may be tempted to throw your hands in the air and give up.  Don’t.  Keep on keeping on for Jesus.  God may not have created your hardship, but He can use your hardship to create a good work in you.  That good work points to a day when Jesus will set every hardship right once and for all.  That is future success is something all of God’s people can bank on.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sabotaging Blessings

A few weeks ago, a fifteen-year-old boy from Columbus, Ohio collapsed from dehydration and exhaustion.  His fatigue wasn’t due to what you might think.  He hadn’t been working excessive overtime at his summer job.  He hadn’t been irresponsible at a friend’s back to school party.  The boy had been playing video games on an Xbox for over four days straight.  Fearing for his health, the boy’s mother took him to the hospital and confiscated the Xbox.

Most of us would agree that there is nothing wrong with video games or an Xbox.  Games can be a fun way to relax and spend time with friends.  We can also agree that playing video games to the point of dehydration and exhaustion is unhealthy.  It is an abuse of what should be a blessing.

We all share that boy’s proclivity to sabotage things that are meant as blessings.  God has given us wonderful things like food, homes, jobs, relationships, and on, and on.  We twist and abuse those good things to the point that they hurt us.  We don’t just enjoy food, but overeat until we have health problems.  We don’t appreciate homes as a place we live, but obsess about the status our address gives us.  We don’t enjoy our work as an opportunity for creativity, but sell excessive amounts of our time to the highest bidder.  Humans often twist and abuse blessings to the point that they are dangerous.

The Apostle Paul understood this about humans.  He encouraged early Christians to avoid the abuse of blessings and, as an alternative, enjoy them as God intended.  Paul wrote, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”  Paul suggests that the freedom to enjoy God’s blessings should not lead to sin, but love.

As you go through the coming week, see how you might enjoy good things for God’s glory.  Look for activities you enjoy and see how they might be freed from abuse.  Honor God with the good things He has given.  That way, you can take pleasure in the blessings of life including the XBox