My biology professor, Max Dowell, was an unapologetic southerner with a drawl as thick as deep-South molasses. And while I’m sorry to admit that I don’t remember a whole lot of biology (I never was much for the Latin names of frogs and the smell of formaldehyde), I don’t think I’ll ever forget the professor who probably had the words to “Dixie” scrawled on his boxer shorts.
Having grown up in New Jersey, I needed to listen carefully in class since his accent seemed like a whole different dialect to me. But through all the cross-cultural stuff, there is one thing he frequently said that has stuck. I even find myself repeating it with a southern twang of my own. What it had to do with biology I’ll never know, but periodically he would come out with the phrase, “Do right ’till the stars fall!”
We’d all agree that “Do right” is a terrific piece of advice. But coming to grips with that advice may be a challenge. I usually feel pretty good about what I do. And I rarely think I am wrong. But my best-intentioned moves in life are more like ready, fire, aim, instead of well-thought-through strategies on how to do what is truly right. Emotions have a way of pulling the trigger before I fully think the moment through. Rationalizations and excuses have a way of fogging my perspectives so that things that are clearly wrong look like pretty good options. Admittedly, most of the twisted and lame moments of my life have been a direct-connect to times when I have not done what is right. Times when I’ve said the wrong thing, expressed the wrong attitude, caved in to wrong thoughts and desires—and the list goes on. And if you are honest with yourself, you’re thinking that you have the same “Why did I ever do that/say that?” regret now and then as well.
We need help!
God clears the air by reminding us that, if left to ourselves, we are a risk to most anything or anyone nearby! So, admitting our tendency to repeated misfires is a good beginning. But where do we go from there? Embrace the wonderful fact that His will and ways are always right. When we take our clues from Him, we start being right more often than we’re wrong as we measure all we do by His will and His Word. He is right about forgiveness, generosity, patience, tolerance, humility, and giving our boss a good day’s work. In fact He is right about everything! That’s why He is a righteous God.
We nicknamed our professor “Do Right Dowell.”
I wonder if anyone would give you a compliment like that? Try living in such a way to give them a chance!
- What have you done or said recently that you regret? Did you feel that it was right at the time? Did you do it even though you knew it was wrong? What would you do differently if you could go back and do it again?
- Do you believe that God is a righteous God? Do you believe that His will and all His ways are always right?
- Create the habit of checking in with God—who is always wonderfully right—before you trigger your next attitude, action, or speech. Do this at least once a day just to stay in shape!
- Read these additional passages for more insight: Proverbs 14:12 and 1 Timothy 6:11-16.
By one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified —Hebrews 10:14
No matter who or what we are, God restores us to right standing with Himself only by means of the death of Jesus Christ. God does this, not because Jesus pleads with Him to do so but because He died. It cannot be earned, just accepted. All the pleading for salvation which deliberately ignores the Cross of Christ is useless. It is knocking at a door other than the one which Jesus has already opened. We protest by saying, “But I don’t want to come that way. It is too humiliating to be received as a sinner.” God’s response, through Peter, is, “. . . there is no other name . . . by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). What at first appears to be heartlessness on God’s part is actually the true expression of His heart. There is unlimited entrance His way. “In Him we have redemption through His blood . . .” (Ephesians 1:7). To identify with the death of Jesus Christ means that we must die to everything that was never a part of Him.
God is just in saving bad people only as He makes them good. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The atonement by the Cross of Christ is the propitiation God uses to make unholy people holy.
|It’s Winter Solstice, Charlie Brown|
|Good grief, bah humbug, and pooh pooh to the Whos. ‘Tis the season for atheists to complain about Christmas.
New stories come out every year about schools banning candy canes, stores banning “Merry Christmas,” and towns banning nativity scenes for the sake of an over-sensitive minority who want to throw any public celebration of Christmas on the banned wagon.
This year, “Winter Solstice” celebrators are making their appearance in Little Rock, AR. Elementary students from Little Rock Elementary School were scheduled to see “A Charlie Brown Christmas” play at a local church which was holding a special matinee for the school kids.
That is, of course, until one atheist parent decided not to content herself with simply not signing her child’s permission slip lest her child be ridiculed for not attending. She instead decided to take the easier road for her daughter by being the parent that ruined the trip for every kid in the school.
According to ArkansasMatters.com, “The debate touched off in late November when a Little Rock parent told Freethinkers she is concerned her daughter could be subjected to ridicule if she did not let her child go to the show.”
You read that right. The group complaining about children being exposed to religious beliefs call themsleves “Freethinkers.”
The school district, refreshingly, supported the idea of the field trip and rejected the “Freethinkers” blockade of the Christmas story.
“Little Rock School District spokeswoman Pam Smith said the district does not endorse or encourage religious activities.”
So it seems the show will go on? NOPE. In an impressive display of tail-tucking, the church hosting the field trip cancelled the matinee to ensure that no one would be offended by the Gospel of Christ during school hours.
On the other end of the spectrum of Christmas ridiculousness there is Santa Monica, CA which has opted to not allow a nativity scene for the first time in almost 60 years. The city is not cancelling the tradition because of complaints, but because last year another offended atheist put a sign up next to the nativity scene deriding Christ as a “myth.” He must be another one of those “Freethinkers.”
The Associated Press colorfully reports, “The atheist’s anti-God message alongside a life-sized nativity display in a park overlooking the beach ignited a debate that burned brighter than any Christmas candle.”
So while the church in Little Rock wilts at the thought of offending anyone, the atheists in Santa Monica do their best to poke in the eye anyone who believes differently than themselves in the Christmas season. Yet isn’t it the Christians who “push” their religion at Christmas time?
Here’s the pragmatic, unvarnished truth. The only reason the Christmas season is such a big deal in this country is Christ’s birth. It’s not Winter Solstice, Hanukah, Kwanza, or even Santa Claus. People who want to celebrate those things are certainly free to do so, but none of them are the root of the Christmas experience in America.
We may have lost sight of it in our commercialized society, but the reason for the season is the celebration of the birth of the Messiah and that is a fact. That cannot be taken away from those of us who want to celebrate Christmas.
This is the time of year to slow down and remember that Christ was born to die for us stupid, petty, quibbling, and cowardly humans. Christmas highlights the best and worst of humanity. We see the sins that Jesus died for even as we meditate on His sacrifice.
Don’t let the controversies distract you this Christmas. Let them be a reminder of why Jesus needed to be born.
When Joseph was seventeen years old, he and his brothers were shepherds, but he made them angry, for he brought a bad report about them to their father. Now Jacob loved his son Joseph, who was born in his old age; and he made him a long coat with sleeves. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his other sons, they hated Joseph and would not speak to him in a friendly way.
Joseph had a dream which he told to his brothers; and they hated him still more. This is what he said to them, “I dreamed that, as we were binding sheaves in the field, my sheaf rose up and remained standing, while your sheaves came around and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Will you really be king over us? Will you indeed rule over us?” So they hated him still more because of his dreams and his words.
Then he had another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, “I have had another dream, and it seemed to me that the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to me.” But when he told it to his father and his brothers, his father reproved him and said, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come and bow down to the earth before you?” Therefore his brothers were jealous of him; but his father remembered the dream.
When his brothers went to pasture his father’s flocks in Shechem, Jacob said to Joseph, “Go, see whether all goes well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me back word.” So he sent him out, and a certain man found him, as he was wandering in the field, and the man asked him, “What are you looking for?” He said, “I am looking for my brothers; tell me, I beg of you, where they are pasturing the flock.” The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.
When they saw him in the distance, before he came to them, they planned together to kill him. And they said one to another, “See, here comes that great dreamer! Come, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits, and we will say, ‘A fierce beast has devoured him.’ Then we shall see what will become of his dreams!”
Judah, however, when he heard it, saved Joseph’s life by saying, “Let us not take his life.” Reuben also said to them, “Do not shed blood; throw him into this pit, here in the wilderness; but do not harm him.” Reuben said this to save Joseph from their hands so that he could bring him back to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they took off his long coat with sleeves and threw him into the pit. But the pit was empty, there being no water in it.
Then they sat down to eat and, when they looked up, they saw a band of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead; and their camels were loaded with spices, gum, and ladanum on their way to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and hide his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let us do him no harm, for he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” So his brothers listened to him; and, drawing up Joseph, they sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who brought him to Egypt.
Then his brothers took Joseph’s long coat, killed a he-goat, dipped the coat in the blood, and brought it to their father, and said, “We found this; see whether it is your son’s coat or not.” He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s coat! A wild beast has devoured him! Joseph surely is torn in pieces.” Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth about his waist, and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and his daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted, saying, “I shall go down to the grave mourning for my son.” Thus Joseph’s father mourned for him.
A GREAT burst of generosity was here, for Israel had every reason to be incensed against Judah for the raid made on their territory. But, instead of pushing their advantage to the uttermost, they returned good for evil, and anticipated the words of the apostle, “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”
Have you in your life people who have done you injury, and against whom you entertain hard thoughts? You do not injure them in return, but you cannot pray for them. So far as you can, you avoid them; you make no attempt to overcome the evil that is in them. But to act thus is to come short of Christ‘s standard. It is your duty, not merely to keep at a distance and give a wide berth, but by love to destroy the evil, to transform the enemy into a friend, and to create love and friendship where hostility and alienation had reigned. It is God‘s way, and in this we are bidden to be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect.
Will you try it? Will you begin by doing kind acts to those who have harmed you? Not because as yet you feel as you would, but because it is right. Then as you dig the trench in right doing, look up to God, and He will pour into your heart the warm gush of affection. If you sincerely will his will in this matter, and act as the Good Samaritan did to the Jew, and exercise faith, God will came to your aid whilst you clothe others and minister to them, you will find their hard heart melted, and yourselves clothed with the beautiful garments of salvation, and of a meek and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is of great price.