Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)
My son Jon is truly a gifted writer. A 25-year-old, he truly writes like one of the greats. I sincerely hope he gets a book published at some point, because if he does, I think that could be a lucrative career for him. I get compliments about my writing, but in comparison to Jon’s, mine is quite amateurish. It’s gotten better, however. When I read things I wrote in in the early ‘80s, I feel pretty embarrassed because that stuff reads like something written by a high school Sophomore! In fact, in high school, I took a “Creative Writing” class. I hate to admit it, but the material I wrote while in high school read like something by a Sixth Grader! I’m thinking about that high school Creative Writing class as I write because I’m pretty sure this piece would have received a bad grade! I’ve got so many topics on my mind this morning, and I can’t decide which of them to write about, so I’m going to touch on all of them!
No, I just don’t seem to be able to stay on track today! Speaking of on “track”, I stopped by a Christian bookstore yesterday . I needed to pick up some greeting cards and some tracts. (For the uninitiated, a “tract” is a short leaflet urging a response. A Gospel tract urges the reader to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In some cases there are “tracts for Christians” urging them to read their Bibles more, pray more, and that sort of thing.) I went to the stores tract rack and noticed several computer generated signs taped to the rack. They read: “TRACKS 14 cents; packages of twenty $2.75”. I guess I would have embarrassed my wife on this one, but with a silly smirk on my face I asked the proprietor, “Incidentally, what’s the correct way to spell ‘tracts’?” She was shocked at the misspelling and told me the sign had been produced by an employee. I guess the whole thing of whether one should point out an error like that or let it go is debatable, but I thought the owner would like to know.
The topic of “debating” brings up all sorts of thoughts today. A hotly debated issue on talk radio for the past few days is whether college professor and former terrorist Bill Ayers should have been invited to speak at Boston College. In fact, he was originally scheduled to speak there last night, and my understanding is it was canceled. WTKK’s Michael Graham brought the issue to the airwaves last week. Graham believed there’s no way B.C. should provide any sort of a forum for Ayers and called for the cancellation of the event. At least three of his colleagues at the station strongly disagreed. They felt Ayers should have been allowed to speak but that an opposing spokesperson should have been allowed to debate him. There’s been all kinds of debate (there’s that word again) about whether or not Bill Ayers’ right to free speech was violated. I’ve found myself on both sides of that issue, but I’ve concluded that we’ve got to consider EVERYBODY’S rights when we try to decide something such as this. I think if Bill Ayers wants to proclaim his opinions, he has the right to do that, but I have the right to NOT invite him to do so in a setting for which I’m responsible. I’d never have Bill Ayers speak at the church I pastor, speak in my home, or speak in any venue for which I was responsible. I think I can understand where Michael Graham was coming from. For a Catholic college to have a guy like Bill Ayers speaking there just doesn’t seem appropriate. I guarantee he’d never be speaking at Michael’s alma mater (Oral Roberts University). I’m sure there are many other places Bill Ayers can speak and would speak, so his “free speech” really is not violated.
Another big issue to debate is the government takeover of General Motors and Chrysler. I never thought I’d live to see something like that in this country. It’s not just conservatives who are wringing their hands about that, either. I noticed that this morning’s MetroWest Daily News (which is mostly liberal and mostly Democrat on its editorial pages) ran an editorial which was highly critical of the government takeover. The precedent of government takeovers of private businesses is frightening. I will now put on my “end time preacher hat” and say I believe it’s just another sign of the times.
Still another debatable issue is whether you “call” somebody on something inconsistent they say or do or whether you just let it go. This is another radio matter (and I know some people do say I’m too focused on talk radio!) but I’m shaking my head at Don Imus. A couple of weeks ago he announced that he’s got stage 2 prostate cancer. A day or two later, he launched into a long monologue about how he refuses to be defined by his disease and that he doesn’t want anyone treating him any differently because he has cancer. So, you’d expect he’d say very little more about the cancer, right? Wrong! Each time I’ve tuned in to the Don Imus Show since then he’s been going on and on about the fact that he has cancer! He reminds me of a guy I knew who used to go on and on and on, saying, “I’m just going to keep quiet. I’m not going to say much. I’m just going to keep quiet.” The guy would incessantly repeat those words. Finally, I’d want to yell at him and say, “Well then, just be quiet!” Why does somebody say they don’t want to focus on their cancer and then do nothing but focus on their cancer?
It’s not just Don Imus. In life, I’ve observed that sort of behavior quite a bit.
I’ve also noticed there are people who just can’t get along with other people. They blame everybody else, but the problem is THEM. I have to keep it all totally anonymous, but one way or another I’ve found myself in several situations like that, even recently. Conversely, I’m struck by the example of an older couple I know who NEVER get into relational problems like that. Never! Look at these verses from I Corinthians 13 in the New Living Translation:
<<4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.>>
That’s what characterizes that elderly couple. I think 99% of problems among Christians (especially) would be solved if we just read that, thought about it, and LIVED it! I admit I frequently fail in this area, myself, and it’s something I’m taking to heart this morning.
Towards the beginning of this piece I was writing about tracts or tracks! I think of my friend, Ed Duddy. He is what I call a “model railroading nut”. He had model trains set up in his dorm room at Central Bible College. Sometimes, he walk around the dorm passing out little pieces of model railroad. When asked what he was doing, he’d reply, “I’m passing out tracts!” (or is it “tracks”?!)
It occurs to me that this piece which started off rambling and flowing all over the place may actually BE a “tract” as such. It’s led me to write about how we should think and act (i.e. I Corinthians 13 in the New Living Translation). It actually has continued the thoughts of my opening Bible verse:
“Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)
So maybe this really WAS a tract which somehow managed to stay on track!
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