Categories
Christian Living Perspective

Making the Call

As a kid back in the 70’s, one of my favorite Saturday afternoon activities was watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports with my dad.

The show’s opening scene, accompanied by an olympic style fanfare and a collection of sport clips, was unforgettable. For years, I could lip sync to the golden voice of Jim McKay without missing a syllable:

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport… the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition… This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports!

One of my favorite parts of the program was a feature entitled, “You Make the Call.”

A commentator set the scene and then showed a clip of a too-close-to-call play from an epic game. The viewer was then invited to choose from a list of possible rulings by the referees. Finally, the commentator would return (after a commercial break) to share the actual result.

Even at 9 or 10 years old, I loved to debate the possible rulings with my dad. It usually went something like this:

Me: That’s easy, dad. It’s 1st and 10, Packers.

Dad: Son, this is synchronized swimming.

All joking aside, it dawned on me later how chaotic it would be if the fans in the stands actually DID “Make the Call.”

Frazzled Referee: Ok, who thinks it’s 1st and 10 Packers? Raise your hand!


God is the umpire. He makes the call.

“For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:4-5 (NIV)

But why should God ALONE be the judge?

Because humans stink at it! We don’t know what God knows, and that means there’s always at least ONE thing about someone else’s situation that hasn’t been brought to light.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke about loving our enemies and not judging others. As you probably already know, here’s how He made the call:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37 (NIV)

One of my favorite descriptions of the word dogmatism is, “to make the uncertain certain.” For the narrow-minded inquisitor there’s no middle ground; one either agrees with them (100%) or one does not.

But where does such intolerance lead? It leads to judging, condemning and not forgiving.

And that’s why God is the umpire. He makes the call.

“Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. ” Romans 14:13 (MSG)


Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Categories
Christian Living joy

Turning the Key

Photo by Jaye Haych on Unsplash

I was intrigued recently with something DeborahMarie wrote on her blog, Great is God’s Faithfulness. The title of the post was, The Key to Life, and it was all about the choice set before God’s people in Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

Moses challenged them to love, obey and commit totally to God–to choose life over death and blessings over curses. This choice would be the key to life, but God would not make it for them.

OK, I thought. I have the master key to life, but it’s useless until I stick it into a lock and turn it. What motivates me to do that?

I found the answer in another devotional the next morning. Glenn Packiam, writing in Our Daily Bread, shared an article called, Costly Joy. The scripture he spotlighted was Christ’s parable of the hidden treasure.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” — (Matthew 13:44)

The author then connects the dots to reveal the secret of unswerving motivation:

“Joy drives change–not guilt or duty.”

Glenn Packiam

BINGO! The Joy of the Lord inspires us to choose and use the key to life.

There’s a great example of this in action in Nehemiah chapter 8. The wall around Jerusalem had just been completed, and all the people came together to worship God. These folks hadn’t been to church or heard the Word in a long time. So when the scribe Ezra read from the Law of Moses, the congregation fell under conviction and began to weep. But Nehemiah said, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

According to the book of Hebrews, it was this same kind of joy that gave Jesus the strength to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

It may have been Friday night, but the Lord knew Sunday morning was coming!

You and I have read the book: God wins.

And winners go out in joy and are led forth in peace (Isaiah 55:12).

“Joy is the reason; surrender is the response. The treasure of knowing Jesus is the reward.”

Glenn Packiam

Whose Joy?

This joy that I have

the world can’t take it away

It belongs to God.

Categories
Christian Blog

# Be Kind

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” Proverbs 16:21 (NIV)

Think back for a moment to your formative years. Was there a favorite teacher or mentor?

Chances are this person was more kind and caring than harsh and demanding.

“The only good teachers for you are the friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny.”

Brenda Ueland

The old adage, “A child may forget what you say or do, but they will never forget how you made them feel,” is most certainly true. I’ve seen this first hand as a teacher of young children.

It should follow, then, that coming off as kind is the best social strategy for the rest of the world too.

So why does there always seem to be more 😡 than 😇?

I found at least one answer in my favorite read of 2020: The Power of Bad, by social psychologist Roy Baumeister. The author presses a point that is recognizable by anyone who has been “flipped the bird” in traffic:

Bad behavior often gets more attention than good.

People say and do negative things because it works. The power of this “negativity bias” (bad is stronger than good) is well known.

However, for long term positive relationships, according to Baumeister, a healthy balance—between good and bad—is needed.

Here are a few of my favorite fresh angles from the book:

  • Maximizing the good is important, but we must also minimize the bad. Aim for a 4 to 1 ratio: four times as many good interactions as bad.
  • Don’t focus on being perfect in your dealings with others; just be good enough. Consistently plodding along (being good enough) and keeping your promises does more for you than going the extra mile.
  • The Negative Golden Rule: It’s what you DON’T do unto others that matters most.

Maybe the title of this post should have been, “# Be (relatively) Kind.” 😀

Seriously, being gracious to others may not always be easy, but it’s God’s way of doing things.

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Ps. 103:10 (NIV)

Perhaps the challenge for today (and every day) is to extend God’s grace to others–whether they deserve it or not.

After all, He has been gracious to us.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” Titus 3:4-5a (NIV)

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com