Since When is “Good” Bad?

2015_WBB_Champsgolden stateRecently, a Boston Globe columnist; Dan Shaughnessy, wrote that the dominance of the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team was bad for the sport! As of the writing of this post, it is the day after they soundly defeated Texas to get into the final four of the NCAA tournament for the ninth year in a row! They are two victories away from their fourth national championship in a row and their record 11th!  This particular team has won over 70 games in a row and an edition of the team had a streak of 90 games without a loss some years ago! Talk about good; these young ladies and the coaches of this team are not just “good,” they are excellent!

And in the course of human history, excellence has always been a problem! A prime example was what happened to Jesus! According to the biblical text, Jesus was not crucified alone! There were two criminal crucified along with him! On that day, that society crucified the very best and the very worst! People don’t seem to have a problem with you if you are just average, mediocre, or ordinary. It’s when you are either very bad or very good that you prick the consciousness of the culture! I can understand the concern for the very bad, but when the very good suffers the same fate as the very bad, that does not speak well at all!

So, what’s the problem with the very good? I would like to suggest that the root of the problem is the fact that sin (Yes! I know it’s an old fashion word and even most church people don’t believe in “sin” anymore. But, nevertheless, the Word of God is true!) has corrupted and twisted the minds of men. It’s evident in our public education system: When I was in school, every student strived for good grades and excellence, now our children are systematically being conditioned to settle for being average because being too good and making too good grades will injure the self-esteem of their under-performing classmates! When I was in school, when we had competition, there were only three (3) medals or ribbons given: First place, second place, and third place! Now, just so nobody will “feel bad,” every person is given a medal or a ribbon for just participating!

We have a problem with the very good and the concept of excellence because, for the most part, instead of trying to improve to reach the standards, most people today want to lower the standards so that everybody wins! That is why there is criticism of the University of Connecticut’s women basketball team! That is why the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry are criticized: Their excellence and success shows up the failures of others!  I remember once when my son came home from school complaining about the fact that he had failed a test! He said the test was too hard and that it wasn’t a fair test! I asked him if any of his classmates passed the test. He said that some of them did. I told him, that if had been an unfair or too hard of a test, then none of the students would have passed. But the fact that some of them passed, meant that all of them could have passed!

Instead of criticizing the UConn women’s basketball program and the Golden State Warriors, we should be taking lessons from them! They should be upheld as sources of inspiration and hope, because if they can do it; that means it can be done by others! And if others aren’t doing it, that’s not the fault of those who are doing it! Leave the girls alone! Leave Steph alone! They are not bad for the sport! They are not bad at all! They are good for the sport and they are good for life! They are inspirations and shining stars to those who are yet wallowing and floundering in the wilderness of mediocrity!

Advertisements

The Incredible Faith of Abraham

man on camelWe often talk about Abraham as being the “father of the faithful,” but have we ever thought about just how faithful Abraham really was? Usually, faith is built on trust and trust is developed from prior experience. But, when we read of the initial encounter the Lord had with Abraham, it seems that there was not much of a track record between the Lord and Abraham prior to that time! In Genesis 12:1-4a, we read: “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram went, as the LORD had told him.” (ESV)  Abraham or Abram as he was known at that time, left home in obedience to the word of a God he had only recently met and had had no prior experience with! In our day and time and in our culture, it is considered foolish and ill-advised to trust someone you don’t know or someone you just recently met! (However, we do this all the time, every time we get on an airplane and into a taxicab!) Yet! Abram believed God and left home based on the promises of a God he hardly knew and just had recently met! That was incredible faith!

But if you think that was incredible, look at the text again! Not only did Abraham leave all that he was familiar with for the unfamiliar, the Lord told him to go to a land that he would be shown! In other words, not only did Abraham leave home in obedience to a God he hardly knew and had no real experience with, he left home, not knowing where he was going! The Lord didn’t tell him a specific place to go! No! The Lord told him to leave and the Lord promised to show him where he was going as he was going! Oh my! Most of us wouldn’t dare leave home until we at least knew where we were going! But the incredible faith of Abraham is shown in the last words of the passage we selected: “So, Abram went, as the LORD had told him!” Wow!

Now, when we look at the faith of Abraham, it is incredible in its own time and context, but it is even more incredible when we compare it with the faith we should have in our day and time! Abraham had little or no prior experience with the Lord, yet Abraham believed God! We have the witness of Abraham, and many other biblical examples, in addition to the authority of Scripture, yet many of us struggle to believe God! Abraham trusted a God he hardly knew and had little experience with, yet we know the Lord through the testimony of the Bible, the testimony of the saints of old, and through our own personal experiences, yet often, we still struggle to believe God! In addition to all of that, we have the witness and the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within!

We struggle today with the simple elementary stuff when it comes to the things of God! But the Lord is looking for people of strong faith so that mighty exploits might be done through them! But, it’s hard to do big things with people who have little or no faith! We have the witness of Abraham and all the saints of old! We have the witness of those who have gone on before us in our lifetimes! We have the witness of the Bible! We have the redemption from sin, purchased by the life of Jesus! We have the indwelling witness and power of the Holy Spirit within! Abraham had none of that, yet the faith that Abraham had back then, still far exceeds the faith that many of us have today! Abraham had incredible faith! But, with the advantages of historical witnesses, biblical revelation, salvific redemption, and spiritual infusion, our faith today should be even more incredible than Abraham’s!  

Liar, Liar; Pants on Fire!

Pants on Fire

Have you ever noticed what happens when you lie? Ever noticed how you feel in your body, in your mind, and in your spirit? Normally, when a person is being deceptive (lying), there is a change in the heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and electro-dermal activity (sweating). Some other reactions are; attempts to avoid direct eye contact, the movement of the pupils of the eyes in a certain direction, and a change in speech rate and pattern. These are just some to the reactions that happen when we lie!

But why is there such a reaction to lying? I believe it is because we were created in the image and likeness of God. All throughout scripture, the word of God is portrayed as being indicative of the very character and nature of God. God is a God of truth, therefore God cannot lie! Now, since we were created in the image and likeness of this God of truth, then it stands to reason that since it is not in the nature and character of God to lie, then lying is against and therefore, undermines and somewhat diminishes our very nature. So, the physical symptoms of lying are really indicators of an even deeper spiritual response to lying!

Simply put; we were not created to lie! Created in the image and likeness of God, we were created to speak truthfully. Just as God reveres and honors His word; we were created to revere and honor our words. We were created to say what we mean and to mean what we say! Therefore, when we lie, it weakens us at the very core of our being.

Now, the amazing thing is that our present culture is so inundated with lying that lying is accepted, normal and expected behavior! Politicians lie to get elected! The crazy thing about it is that many times; the people know they are lying, but they vote for them anyway! Married couples lie, governments lie, athletes lie! Lying has become so expected and normal that when people actually tell the truth, most find it hard to believe!

But if we are to have any real personal power, we must quit lying! We must quit lying to each other and we must quit lying to ourselves! Lying weakens us emotionally, physically, and spiritually! Lying puts us at odds with the God of truth who created us!

So, there really is much more to the little chant than we realize. When we lie, it may not actually be our pants, but something; our soul, our essence, our purpose, our reason for existence, is on fire!