Let's get serious about Jesus

In the late spring of 1994, as I rooted on the Houston Rockets on the way of the first of two “Thank you, Michael Jordan, for trying to play baseball” world championships, most of the world was watching another sport.  The World Cup had come to America.  (That’s a big soccer tournament, in case you were unaware.)  And the American home crowd got a thrill when the Yanks pulled off an upset victory over traditional power Colombia.  The 2-1 win was helped along when Colombian defender Andres Escobar scored an “own goal,” giving a point to the Americans and effectively eliminating Colombia from the tournament.

In related news, Andres Escobar was shot and killed in his hometown of Medallin a few days later. 

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Flashy

There is a barber shop in India where they will set your hair on fire.  On purpose, I mean.  People ask for it.  They douse your hair with fragrance to retard the smell of smoke (as if that were the main objection).  Then they blowtorch you.  The top of your head ignites.  Flames shoot up, maybe six or eight inches.  Then the barber just sits back there and combs and cuts, combs and cuts, like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

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Drama at Mark 16:16 Airlines

The scene is the lobby of Mark 16:16 Airlines.  A worker stands behind the counter, smiling, waiting to assist someone.  A man approaches.

Worker: Good morning!  Welcome to Mark 16:16 Airlines.  How can I be of assistance?

Customer: Yes, hello.  I would like a ticket, please.

Worker: I would be glad to assist you.  Would you like a ticket to heaven or to hell?  We are proud to offer both.

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If at first discipline doesn't succeed, ... Try, Try Again!

Discipline fails oftentimes because the disciplinarians quit too early.  Junior is grounded because of bad grades, then he goes and sulks in his room, determined to do even worse the next test just to spite Mom and Dad.  Junior makes out on both fronts; he does do worse, and Mom and Dad get so frustrated that they quit grounding him because it “doesn’t work.”

It’s not supposed to work.  Not like that, anyway.

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Important

A school shooting was foiled this week in the Chicago area.  A former student crashed a graduation practice and opened fire when a police officer confronted him.  The officer returned fire, and the incident was quelled.

“Nobody important was injured in the shooting.”  That’s a quote from the article I read, posted on an unapologetically pro-police website.

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Abandon Faith! Three arguments, asked and answered

Following up with last week’s article in this space: The “sister” in Christ to whom I referred — the one who prompted the article regarding society’s idea of “sex education” vs. God’s idea — claims now to have lost her faith entirely.  Whether her views on this particular subject helped her along those lines are not, I could not say.

I asked her what was the specific cause of her apostasy, and she was glad to answer directly and respectfully.

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Requests

I always appreciate getting requests for articles and sermons.  I do not always follow through; sometimes I think the subject is best left alone, and sometimes I just forget.  Sorry.  But the requests themselves are a blessing, in my eyes.  One of the ongoing challenges in my position is coming up with new material.  If a subject is thrust upon me, it naturally comes with the benefit of having at least one person interested before I ever put pen to paper.  Nothing wrong with that.

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Abstaining from Sin: 100 percent effective 100 percent of the time

American efforts at sex education are ridiculed by many for a strong emphasis on abstinence.  “We know kids are going to have sex,” the argument goes, “so we should teach them a safer way.”  Whether this curriculum “works” or not is irrelevant in my view, as it avoids the central issue.  The problem is not kids getting pregnant or getting STDs; the problem is kids going to hell.

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Receiving Jesus

I was called on the carpet recently for using the term “receiving Jesus” — a term frequently used by those in the denominations to refer to finding grace, particularly in the absence of baptism or any other concrete act of obedience.  I then caught myself saying it twice in the very next sermon I preached, so I suppose the observation is valid.

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Walkouts

I have to admit, I am not a big fan of walkouts.  And I appear to be in the minority.  Everyone seems to be staging walkouts these days.  Generally, as I understand it, a walkout involves people abandoning their proper, useful activity such as school or work and spending their time instead telling people how righteous their cause is — as though school and work are not righteous causes themselves.

I’m not doubting the sincerity of the people involved, nor am I necessarily casting aspersions on their respective causes.  I’m just saying, it’s very convenient to pat yourself on the back for taking a day off.

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The Rules for Mercy

Those who follow women’s professional golf (and there’s bound to be one of you out there somewhere) are no doubt already acquainted with events regarding Lexi Thompson earlier this month.  She was two strokes up on the 12th hole of the final round at the ANA Inspiration tournament, which is a “major” for the ladies.  A rules official approached her and said she had incorrectly replaced her ball on the 17th hole the day before.  She placed her marker.  She picked up the ball.  She placed it about an inch away from its previous location.  That’s a two stroke penalty.  And it meant she signed an incorrect scorecard.  That’s another two strokes.  Suddenly she was two strokes behind, not two ahead.

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Read the signs!

Social media has given a voice to people who take great pleasure in being obnoxious.  Space fails to provide a comprehensive proof of this concept; for our purposes here, I will limit my frame of reference to those who take pictures of themselves doing precisely what a sign is instructing people not to do.  Walking on the grass, swimming, smoking, the situational prohibitions run the gamut.  And the existence of the sign more or less implies that the behavior is not necessarily unlawful; people are simply asked to choose a different time and/or place.

Nope.  “Look at me!  I’m a rebel!  I break rules!  No one can tell me what to do!”  As the saying goes, it’s all fun until someone gets eaten by an alligator.

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