How To Deal With Sin

We all sin.  The Bible teaches that very clearly and we know it.  What do we do with sin?  One of the most crippling diseases is to harbor that sin and let it grow bigger and bigger.  We feel guilty.  We become tied up with emotions that are unhealthy.  We try to rationalize why we did it.  We try to avoid thinking about it.  We make excuses.  None of that works.

The only answer is to confess sin.  It is the only healthy way to deal with our sin.

Elwin Wilson was raised in the South.  He joined the Ku Klux Klan years ago to stop racial integration.  John Lewis was a black Freedom Rider who tried to enter a “whites only” waiting room at the bus station in Rock Hill, SC in1961.  Wilson and several of his racist friends beat him unmercifully.  That memory haunted Wilson.  It ruined his life.  He harbored that sin.

Lewis became a prominent member of the U.S. Congress.  One day Wilson got an appointment and went to his office to personally apologize.  He said, “My daddy always told me that a fool never changes his mind and a smart man changes his mind.  Will you forgive me?”

Wilson became a national symbol for reconciliation and redemption.  He made a lot of public appearances with Lewis.  He tells of this change of heart.  He has publically said, “All I can say is that it has bothered me for years, all the bad stuff I have done.”  He said that his ultimate decision to renounce racial hatred and confess to John Lewis was because of the faith that he had come to experience.  He said he knew “there is no way I could be saved and get to heaven and still not like blacks.”

Governor George Wallace became an icon of segregation when he stood in the schoolhouse door in Tuscaloosa.  He ran for public office.  He was elected Governor of the State of Alabama on a platform of racial segregation.  His famous statement, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” echoed throughout the nation for a lot of years.

In his later life Governor Wallace began to see that he was wrong.  Some people accused him of changing his mind for political reasons.  He publically began to confess to African-American people and ask them to forgive him.

He watched our Frazer worship services on television.  He stayed home and turned the TV up really loud because following the attempted assassination on his life, his hearing had become greatly impaired.  He asked me to come see him several times.  He always wanted to know if God would forgive him.  He knew that people had forgiven him, but he wanted to be sure that God had forgiven him.

I, along with some others, repeatedly assured him that God’s promise is true that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins.”  (I John 1:9)

I remember well visiting with him not long before he died.  He would use a blackboard and chalk to write.  Some of the best words I have ever seen written were when Governor Wallace wrote “I know I am forgiven.”

The only way to deal with sin is to confess it, and God’s promise is that He will forgive.  The Good News is that God’s confession booth is always open!

Fatal Failure Should Be An Oxymoron!

The only way to avoid failure is never try anything.  If we try, enough times, we will ultimately fail.  One derelict sitting on a park bench said to another derelict, “No, I do not consider myself a failure; I never did anything to fail at!”

Failure is not bad.  My friend Kyle Rote, Jr. says, “There are many ways to be a winner, but there is only one way to be a loser and that is to fail and not look beyond the failure.”  The question is what do we do with our failures.

Last year the University of Connecticut won the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.  They were a huge success.  This year they have had to deal with some failures.  One of the biggest failures was when the Huskies lost to Yale and scored only 44 points.  That was a low point for Huskies basketball.

The next game out was against Coppin State.  The UConn center, Amida Brimah, went from that loss to do something that no other basketball player has ever done in Division I history.  He sank all 13 of his field goal attempts, making him the first player in Division I history to score at least 40 points and go at least 13 for 13 from the floor in one game.  He went from a tough defeat to doing something nobody else had ever done before!

Charles Kettering, the father of numerous automotive and medical advances once said, “When you’re inventing, if you flunk 999 times and succeed once – you’re a success.”  He understood that failure doesn’t have to be fatal.  He knew that failing doesn’t make a person a failure.  It depends on how you look at it.

I remember reading about one of the great battles in our military history at Iwo Jima.  We were locked in a deadly combat on a ridge.  Later we were victorious and that battle became history.  Newsmen reported on it.  One soldier interviewed said, “We were forced off the ridge five times – but we came back six.”  That’s the way to succeed.  Come back one more time.  It is not what happened in the last game or the last battle, but what we are doing in the present challenge.

Once polio was a dreaded disease.  Jonas Salk attempted 200 unsuccessful vaccines for polio before he finally discovered the one that worked.  He was asked, “How does it feel to fail 200 times trying to invent a vaccine for polio?”  Jonas Salk replied, “I never failed 200 times at anything in my life.  My family taught me never to use that word.  I simply discovered 200 ways how not to make a vaccine for polio.”

History is full of people who discovered a lot of things that didn’t work before they became successful.  R. H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York stared producing.  The English novelist John Creasy got 753 rejection slips before he started publishing books, and he published 564.  Thomas Edison found that many substances as a filament for a light bulb didn’t work – but he never quit.  He never considered himself a failure.  He finally found the perfect filament.

Jesus has a great record of taking people who have failed in life and restoring them to a productive lifestyle.  Jesus’ disciples had failed at a lot of things in life – but they weren’t failures.  Following Jesus they became a success.  Failure is never fatal or final unless you choose it to be. Let God help you make failure a backdoor to success.

Fatal failure should be an oxymoron!

 

That’s Crazy!

We oftentimes hear a description of something as being crazy.  That word can carry many connotations.  Let me share how it has been used recently in a very positive manner.

I had the privilege of officiating at the wedding for Colin and Alex Henig Jones a few years ago.  They are a wonderful Christian couple.  They had one daughter Adeline who is 5-years-old.  When Alex was pregnant with their second daughter, Maddox, she had a very interesting experience.

Alex kept having a sense from God that she and Colin could bless some couple in some way.  It became apparent that God was leading her to suggest that she become a surrogate mother for some couple who could not have children.  Her first thought was “That’s crazy!”

When she went for her next checkup she said to her Godly doctor, Dr. Greg Waller, “I want to tell you the craziest thing.”  Then she shared about her feeling that God was leading her to be a surrogate mother.  Dr. Waller’s first response was “That is crazy!”  He then told to wait until she delivered her own second child and then they would talk about it.

After Maddox was born Alex became more and more convinced that it was God’s will for her to do this.  Her husband Colin was in agreement.  It is amazing how sometimes God calls us to do things that everybody else thinks is “crazy.”  But Alex was deeply committed to following God’s will for her life.

Dr. Waller understands God’s leadership.  He said he would help her pursue this.  He called a doctor friend of his who is an in vitro doctor in Mobile and told him about the situation.  At that very moment a young man who was a medical rep, who regularly called on the doctor in Mobile, walked in and shared how he and his wife would love to find someone to be a surrogate since his wife could not carry a child.  The in vitro doctor said, “I have got just the person for you.”

The doctor put this medical rep and his wife together with Colin and Alex.  Alex explained to them that she felt this was God leading her to do this.  She also wanted them to be clear that it was her faith that was the key factor in her decision to do this.

When Alex was about six months pregnant as a surrogate, she told her 5-year-old and 2-year-old what she was doing.  She explained that her tummy was really strong, but the other lady’s tummy was not strong enough to carry a baby.  She said that she and Colin had decided to help them have a child by using her strong tummy to carry the baby.  She looked at her 5-year-old who exclaimed, “Mommy, that is really crazy!”

Most folks who know about this have said, “I could never do that.”  God calls all of us to do different things.  The important thing is that we respond positively when God leads us.  While the world might think something is crazy, God smiles and invites us to respond!  Read Luke 1:26-38.

The doctors raised the following question, “Who will hold the new baby first?”  Expecting Alex to request that privilege, in her own self-giving spirit Alex said “I think the parents need to hold the baby first.  I am here to act as an instrument that God uses to deliver them a gift.”  On March 9, 2015, a happy young couple held a healthy baby girl, which was God’s gift through Alex.

Alex also commented about how important Christmas was this year.  Being pregnant as a surrogate mother gave her a new concept of what it means to give.

Is God up to anything crazy with you?

A 13-Year-Old’s Thoughts on Race Relations

For the past five years I have preached each year at the Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church on their race relations Sunday.  This is one of our largest African-American churches.    Dr. G. W. C. Richardson is the Pastor.  In his 35+ years at the church he has had 140 people enter the ministry.  He encouraged people to write essays on race relations.  A 13-year-old young man, Jalen Phifer, who is already an ordained pastor by that church, wrote the following essay I edited for length:

“We live in a country that has seen its share of shame.  From slavery to racism and discrimination, yet America has come a long way.  The civil rights movement was a huge step in the right direction to bridge the gap and bring about equality and unity.  However, as a nation we still have a journey to complete.  I have listed three ways in which I believe America can continue to improve upon race relations.

Race relations can be improved in America if we bring the conversation into our homes and schools.  All education starts at home, but it continues into the classrooms where we spend a good portion of our day.  Parents can talk to their children about other races.    This kind of education will help break down any stereotypes and ignorance that are believed.

I believe it is important to have these conversations in school because if my peers don’t get to learn from each other, then our future is still at risk. As a light skin person, I have heard my share of hurtful and ignorant statements.  Everything from mulatto, to white boy, to what are you anyway?  Hurtful as they are, I have smiled and most times ignored them.  I don’t get to choose my color, but I can choose my character.  At the end of the day, it would be my hope that my character is seen before my complexion.

Secondly, I believe that race relations can be improved in America if we have this conversation in church.  As a young preacher, I believe that we are all God’s children and that He does not have favorites.  So having the discussion in church will make us have to think about what God thinks.  As Christians that should be all that matters to us.

I look around our church and I see mostly us, black people.  But God don’t only have black children, He has white, yellow, and brown.  These are our neighbors but where are they?  We need to seek God’s word on this because I know that He said to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

This unity would open the eyes of the community as well.  The church is a place that the community looks up to, and this would help them to know that race relations are improving.  It’s okay to talk to other races, fellowship and worship with them.

Finally, I believe race relations can be improved in America by our actions.  We can learn about it, we can talk about it, we can preach about it, but it means nothing if we don’t put it into action.  I believe we must be proactive.  Make it a point to go to where other races are and become friends with them.  Go places with them and invite them to places with us.  If we put ourselves into action, this will help get rid of racism and ignorance.  This is the dream I believe Dr. King had.  And for all those who died for our civil rights, I believe it will be pleasing to them.  But most of all I believe it will make God smile because we will be obeying His word when He tells us to love one another as we love ourselves.

In conclusion, I believe race relations can be improved in three ways, education, conversation in our church, and through our actions.  We all have to live in this world together.  If we put God first, then all this will fall into place.  He made us all, and we can learn a lot from each other.  Not only will this improve race relations, but it would make God very happy.”

Thanks Jalen!

The Tip of Your Tongue

Football fans can be fanatics.  The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl on a last minute interception.  Tom Brady won his third Most Valuable Player award in Super Bowls.

Johnny Nichols is a 21-year-old fanatic fan of New England and Tom Brady.  Following the Super Bowl victory he had Tom Brady’s name tattooed on his bottom lip so that the first thing you see is the name Tom Brady.  When he was asked why he did that he said, “I always want Tom Brady to be on the tip of my tongue.”

That’s strange.  That takes football fanatics to a different level.  But it made me start to think.  What do we have on the tip of our tongues?  What is the first thing people notice about us?  It doesn’t have to be a tattoo – but what is there.  Here are some questions:

1. Do we have fear or faith on the tip of our tongues?  This day and age it is so easy to be fearful.  Each day’s headlines produce more global concerns that can create fear.

Someone has suggested that an acronym for F E A R could be Forget Everything And Run.  That is really succumbing to fear.  Let me suggest that a better acronym of F E A R would be Face Everything And Respond!

The Bible is clear that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.  God sent his Son into the world that we might have faith and not fear.  Fear paralyzes – faith liberates.

2. Do we have God or gold on the tip of our tongues?  Each of our coins has the inscription “In God We Trust.”  Is that really true of us as individuals?  I remember speaking to a large patriotic group on the weekend of the Fourth of July and the program was misprinted with the phrase “In gold we trust.”  Was that a truthful misprint?

Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God, and then other necessary things will be given to us.  The priority is seeking God.  Anything else becomes a distraction.

3. Do we have giving or getting on the tip or our tongues?  Life is a choice as we live each day.  We are created with a sinful nature of being selfish and a desire to look out for ourselves.  The joys in life come when God’s grace through Jesus Christ transforms us from being getters to givers.

Jesus made it clear that He did not come into the world to be served but to serve.  He made it clear that it is much more blessed to give than to receive.  A life of getting becomes shallow and mundane.  A life of giving produces riches and joys that cannot be bought.

4. Do we have problems or possibilities on the tip of our tongues?  Anything we face in life can be observed as a problem or a possibility.  It depends on how we look at it.

One day the disciples came to Jesus because there were 5,000 people who were hungry.  They saw a problem because there was no food.  Jesus didn’t see a problem – He saw a possibility.  He took 5 loaves and 2 fish and fed the whole crowd.

In life it is easy to see things as problems.  It is far more productive to see them as possibilities.

What is on the tip of your tongue?

The Coaching Continues

I was preaching 10 days ago in the Raleigh/Durham area at Cary, North Carolina.  The first news that greeted me upon my arrival was the death of Coach Dean Smith, legendary coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

A coach can die – but his coaching lessons can continue through the people he influenced.  You know all about Coach Smith’s National Championship teams, his award from the President, his Hall of Fame induction, his number of wins, the number of famous players he coached – but here are a few things that you might not know that are good lessons to learn:

1.  As a coach he did not use profanity and had a no tolerance policy for profanity in his program.  Wow!  How many coaches and business leaders could learn a real lesson here?

2. He focused on teamwork instead of individual statistics.  Whenever a player made a shot, he always had that player point to the player who passed him the ball.  Getting the ball to him was as important as his scoring.  Anything we accomplish is the result of somebody else’s help.  If you see a turtle sitting on a stump, you know he didn’t get there by himself!

3. 96% of his players graduated.  He didn’t look at basketball as just an athletic game, but as a way to educate young men.  Part of that process was going to class and getting a degree.  And he did a lot of educating himself.

4. He valued his players as people.  He loved them and cared for them.  I heard that on one occasion the University President was in his office talking with him and there was a knock on the door and it was one of his basketball players.  He asked the University President to step outside while he talked with his player.  His players took precedent over even the President!  What if every boss had that emphasis?

5. He was not prejudiced.  He believed that every person was a child of God and should have an equal opportunity.  He recruited the first African-American basketball player to receive a North Carolina athletic scholarship.  It was not a popular thing to do, but he said it was the right thing to do!  When you read the comments of some of his great players like Michael Jordan and James Worthy, you get the sense that there was not an ounce of prejudice in him.

6. He spoke up for issues of justice.  As a basketball coach he could have just been quiet on a lot of social issues.  He elected to speak out.  His pastor, Rev. Robert Seymour, said that he was always willing to take controversial stands on a number of things as a member of his church.

7. He lived his philosophy of life.  The winningest college basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, said, “His greatest gift was his ability to teach what it takes to become a good man.  That was easy for him to do because he was a great man himself.”

8. He supported great causes.  I have two buddies who have been a part of the Tar Heel basketball program.  Both have spoken at Frazer.   Albert Long is the only player in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference to letter in four sports in one year.  He lettered in basketball, baseball, football, and track.  The other is Dr. Danny Lotz.  He was a preacher’s son from New York who came to North Carolina and played on the undefeated National title team.  Danny and Albert wanted to start a Fellowship of Christian Athletes group at UNC.  Dean Smith volunteered to serve as the faculty advisor.

Here are 8 coaching lessons that will be true tomorrow and help anybody win in the game of life!  The coaching continues.  Are you coachable?

Heir or Spare

The announcement shocked me.  It said that Kate Middleton and her husband, Prince William are expected to give birth to their second child “the spare” in April.  The article went on to say that Kate had to curtail most of her official duties because of another bout of acute morning sickness, a condition that hospitalized her when she was pregnant with her first child, Prince George.

The term “the spare” really bothered me.  I understand that throughout royal history women have been expected to have at least two children – “an heir and a spare” – just in case the first child didn’t survive long enough to take the throne.  Regardless of gender this baby expected to arrive in April will be fourth in line to the throne – after its grandfather, Prince Charles; its father, Prince William; and its 15-month-old brother, George.  The new baby will be in line ahead of its uncle, Prince Harry.

Those two children of Prince William and Kate have no choice in whether they are designated as heir or spare.  Every person makes a choice as to whether he/she will be an heir or a spare.  Too many people adopt an attitude about themselves that they are nothing but a spare. God sent His Son in order that every person might be an heir, and never a spare!

Paul wrote, “Since we are His children, we are His heirs.  In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” (Romans 8:17) He also wrote, “You are no longer a slave but God’s own child.” (Galatians 4:7)  God sees you as His child.  You are His heir.  God so loved the world so that nobody should ever see themselves as a spare – but as a possibility of being an heir to all that God has to give.

Too many people settle for much less.  Many people are content to be a spare.  Sometimes we try to blame it on other people.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Sometimes we want to become an heir by taking the wrong course.  We think if we accomplish enough things we can become an heir to God’s abundant living.  Accumulation of things and good works never do that.  If you need an expensive car, or fancy clothes, or a big bank account to make a statement about yourself – you don’t have much to say!

In writing about self-worth R. Schuller cites the Greek legend of Helen of Troy.  Helen was kidnapped.  She suffered from amnesia and became a prostitute in the streets.  She didn’t know her name or that she was of royal blood.

She had a friend who believed in her and wanted to find her.  One day he was wandering through the streets of a strange city and saw a wretched woman with deep lines across her face.  There was something about her that seemed familiar.  When he inquired about her name, she didn’t even know her name.

The man asked to see her hands.  He knew the lines in Helen’s hands.  He looked at them and declared that she was Helen of Troy.  She was of royal blood.  All of a sudden the fog began to clear in Helen’s mind and she realized who she really was.  She hugged her old friend and began to cry.  She discarded her tattered clothes and degrading lifestyle, and once more became the Queen she was born to be.

Because of Christ we are born to be an heir to Him and all He has.  We are not even fourth in line as this new baby will be.  Heirs of Christ are first in line!

Heir or spare – it’s your choice.

What Is Your Name?

What is your name?  Names are interesting and important.

Many people like to name their children after some famous athlete.   Because of the immense rise in popularity of soccer and the success of an Argentina soccer star Messi, his hometown of Rosario has now banned anyone from naming their children Messi because it was happening too often.

An Icelandic 15-year-old girl, for all official purposes, has been called “Girl” all her life.  The reason is that Iceland’s government has refused to recognize the name Blaer, because it wasn’t on the country’s list of 1,853 approved girls’ names.  She did recently win a court battle to get her name.

A British man just changed his name to Tim Pppppppppprice.  He did this to get away from telemarketers.  He said, “When these salesmen see my name on their list of names to call, they’ll think, ‘skip that – I can’t even pronounce his name.’”  Pppppppppprice might be onto a creative way of dealing with telemarketers!

Names carry a lot of meaning.  Recently the American League of Lobbyists wanted to rebrand what they were doing and changed their name to the Association of Government Relations Professionals.  The reasoning was that “Everybody has that misconception that lobbyists are walking around with a pocketful of cash.”  A new name would give a new perception.

Names can also be very tricky.  I heard about an Army recruit who arrived for basic training.  The drill sergeant immediately intimidated everyone by saying “My name is Stone and I’m harder than my name.  If anybody has any other ideas, he’d better get rid of them right now or he’ll regret every minute of the three months he’ll spend here.”

As the drill sergeant walked along the line of men standing at attention he asked each one his name.  When he came to the smallest recruit, there was no answer.  The drill sergeant became infuriated and roared, “Are you ignoring me?  What is your name?”  In a tearful whisper the young man replied, “Stonebreaker, sir.”

Our names are so important.  The famous short story writer O. Henry’s real name was Sydney Porter.  As a young man he was imprisoned for embezzlement and while in prison he met a guard named Oren Henry.

When time came for him to leave prison, he told the guard that his old name was so tarnished, could he take the name of the guard and refer to himself as O. Henry.  All of his marvelous literary work was written under that name.  As he left prison the guard shook his hand and said, “Take good care of our name.”

One of the most precious possessions we have is our name.  Keep it untarnished, respected and appreciated.  Proverbs 22:1 says “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”  Ultimately you and I have the responsibility of one of our precious jewels – a good name.

What is your name?

Running Scared or Walking Confidently

“Running scared” might be the best description of how many people are living today.  Fear is rapidly becoming one of the most dominant emotions that we have.  Present day circumstances really heighten the emotion of fear.

Various pollsters listed some of the things of which American people are afraid.  71% suspect that there will soon be major terrorist attacks in the U.S.  43% fear that they or someone in their family will contract Ebola.  57% worry about being killed in a mass shooting.  69% fear cyber criminals will steal their credit card information.  62% fear that hackers will break into their phone or computer and steal sensitive and private information.   A huge majority of older citizens fear that they won’t have enough money for retirement years.

Andrew Parker, the Britain Security Chief has recently warned that Al Qaeda is planning “mass casualty attacks against the West.”  He goes on to say, “My sharpest concern as Director General of M15 is the growing gap between the increasingly challenging threat and the decreasing availability of capacities to address it.”  Newspapers, television, social media – every day is filled with new threats that would heighten our fear.

Kenneth Benedict, executive director and publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, meeting in Washington D.C. Thursday, January 24, 2015, reported that they are moving the Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight.  Benedict said, “It is now three minutes to midnight.  The probability of global catastrophe is very high.  This is about the end of civilization as we know it.”

Do we have more to fear today than in the past?  I don’t know the answer to that.  One person stated recently that we have so much to fear today that back in the Roosevelt days we didn’t realize how lucky we were – having nothing to fear but fear itself!

The subtle danger of fear is that it appears to be something that it is not.  It is deceptive.  It is false.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous quote that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” was followed by a description of fear as “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

One acronym for FEAR is False Evidence Against Reality.  Fear is not always real, it can be exaggerated.  It doesn’t always fit with reality.  A Russian proverb says, “Fear has big eyes.”  Fear will magnify what it sees – and sometimes will see what is not even there.  Mark Twain said, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’m scared of them.”

The answer to fear is faith.  There are 365 references in the Bible to fear.  I am not real good at math but that is about one for every day of the year.  Each of those references assures us of God’s love and care for us and the importance of placing our faith in Him.  As my friend Jim Sanders signs his letters: Inhale Faith – Exhale Fear.

Psalm 34:4 – “I prayed to the Lord and He answered me.  He freed me from all my fears.” I John 4:4 – “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  Isaiah 41:10 – “Don’t be afraid for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you and hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Life is a choice – fear or faith – running scared or walking confidently.

Extinguished or Distinguished

The 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard had a change of command January 10, 2015.  Colonel Samuel W. Black turned over the command to Colonel Randal K. Efferson.

The opening sentence of the Montgomery Advertiser’s article announcing this said, “Families, extinguished guests and citizen airmen from across the state…”  I am sure the article meant to say “distinguished” guests and citizen airmen, but the word used was “extinguished.”

The article went on to say how many state and high ranking military leaders would be present.  I assume they are the extinguished who should have been designated the distinguished.  I don’t think I want to be an extinguished guest.

The 187th Fighter Wing is distinguished!  Gen. Steven Berryhill said that there was discussion as to whether a Guard Wing could rotate into Afghanistan as the lead wing.  Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke III and four-star Gen. Gilmary Hostage III pushed for the 187th to be the lead unit with no rotations.  With only 6 months to prepare (instead of the normal 12) the 187th Fighter Wing exceeded expectations!

What is the line between extinguished and distinguished?  It is only a heartbeat.  Some day all of the distinguished people will become extinguished people.  That is just the nature of life – and death.

I checked with the Bureau of Statistics in Alabama and the rate of death is still one-to-one.  Nobody avoids death.  The Bible says it is appointed for every man to die once. (Hebrews 9:27) The Book of James also refers to life as being like a vapor on a glass.  The vapor is there and you can see it, but soon it will be gone. (James 4:14)

The real question is – what can we do that would distinguish us before we are extinguished?  If you look on tombstones you always see the birth date and the death date.  The numbers might be 1935-2015.  That tells us a lot about when a person is born and when the person died.  But all of that person’s life is wrapped up in that one small dash.

What do we remember about distinguished people?  Some folks leave a legacy of accomplishments, wealth, accolades, trophies, and honors.  A few years from now, who is going to remember those?

The things that people remember are the investments that people make in the lives of other people.  Distinguished people are people who make a difference.

I know it was a typographical error – extinguished instead of distinguished. All publications like Preachers make errors. Montgomery is proud to be the home of the 187th Fighter Wing.  Their fighter planes proudly display the “Red Tails” because the 187th is home to the historic 100th Fighter Squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen.  Thanks to all of our military who provide opportunities for us to become distinguished and not extinguished.

You can quickly go from being distinguished to extinguished.  The Good News is you can also go from extinguished to distinguished because Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he, who believes in me, shall live, even when he dies.”  (John 11:25)  I’m blessed to be on God’s eternal distinguished list. Everyone has that possibility!