A Bad Friday

By now you all know that another school shooting has happened—this time in Santa Fe, Texas. Closer to where I live, in the town of St. Martinville, LA, my wife’s hometown, several students died this morning in a car accident. Fun events for seniors, who were anticipating their last day, have been canceled. As I sat down to put some thoughts down, I got a news alert that a plane has crashed in Cuba.

Meanwhile, high school graduations in my area are happening all weekend.

Keenly aware that these graduating seniors aren’t reading my blog today or any day, if I could address every graduating senior, my words would go something like this.

Be Thankful. Life is fragile. Life is short. Life is far from perfect. The only way to live life to the fullest is to be thankful. Be thankful because you know you didn’t get to where you are by yourself. Be thankful for parents, teachers, coaches, ministry leaders, the military, police, first responders, doctors, dentists, nurses, and many others. Most of all, give thanks to God. I went to a high school sports awards program the other night put on by our local paper. I was thankful and impressed that most every student gave thanks to God.

Alex Haley, author of Roots kept a picture of a turtle sitting on a fence post near his desk. He said about the picture, “Anytime you see a turtle sitting on a fence post you know that the turtle did not get there without some help.”

Every single one of us is just like that—we did not get to where we are without a lot of help, including the help of God.

Keep Seeking Truth. This is probably not what high school seniors want to hear as they graduate, but “You are never finished learning.” We are always learning. We will face tests every day of our lives, and we better know truth to face these tests. My college roommate is a medical doctor. He studied hard as a college student, medical student, and resident. When he had finished all of his formal education and had begun his medical practice, I said something really stupid to him. “You must be so happy to know that you will never take another test again?”

I will never forget his answer. “I am studying harder than ever before. I take a test with every patient that I see, and if I fail that test, the result will be much worse than a failing grade.”

He’s right. Life is a test. School is just the preparation for us to take tests the rest of our lives. Today is a test. How do we process all that is happening in our world today? We must know truth.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. This gets us through these tough Fridays. Life is hard to explain. We better be armed with fundamental truth for the complexities of life.

This is not just for graduating seniors. This is for all of us.

God, help us. God, help Santa Fe, Texas. God, help St. Martinville, Louisiana. God help Cuba. There’s a lot of hurt in our world today.

The More Things Change, The More Things Stay the Same

Billy Graham

Billy Graham

I have been enjoying on Satellite Radio the preaching of Billy Graham. I have noticed several common denominators in Graham’s preaching. Regardless of his subject, he made, as some have said, “a straight line to the cross.” Whether his subject was heaven, hell, sin, or a topic like loneliness, Graham made his way to the cross as soon as possible.

Another thing that I have noticed is how Graham used contemporary events. Graham was truly a man like the ones spoken of in 1 Chronicles 12:32, who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”

One other thing I have noticed, that I knew already, but I have paid special attention to it, is that Billy Graham closed all of his messages in essentially the same way. He called people to a decision. Not only did he call people to a decision, but he used almost the exact same words every time. He called people to believe, and then he explained what Biblical belief is. And then, he called people to repentance, and he explained what repentance is. Repentance is a change in your view about God, in your view about yourself, and in your view about sin. He called people in repenting to make a change.

I remember reading years ago of Graham’s answer to a reporter’s question about the difference in preaching at the beginning of his ministry and the end of his public ministry. His answer is classic:

Nothing has really changed in terms of the needs of people. Whenever or whatever you preach, you must remind them of their sin, speak to them about Heaven and Hell, show them to the cross, and urge them to come to the Savior.

Truly, the more things have changed, the more things have stayed the same.

Showing Kindness

Think with me about 3 questions.

  • What does it mean to be kind?
  • What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?
  • What can you do to show kindness to someone else

In 2 Samuel 9:1, newly anointed King David posed this question: “Is there anyone remaining from Saul’s family I can show kindness to because of Jonathan?” If you read the rest of the story, you will discover that the someone is Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth was the almost forgotten son of Jonathan that carried with him the horrible tag, “lame in both feet.” However, because of the kindness of David, “the one lame in both feet” spent the rest of his days always eating at the king’s table. Mephibosheth’s story is a great story of grace. When I think about his story and my story as a recipient of God’s grace, two principles are abundantly clear.

First, those who have experienced grace (kindness) ought to exhibit great grace.

Second, the greatest acts of grace target those who could never repay with their own act of grace.

Now, take these two principles and go show kindness to someone today—not for Jonathan’s sake, but for Jesus’ sake!