Read the WORD

TIP 5: Read the WORD

My friend Lloyd has been a such a blessing and inspiration the past couple of weeks.  He recently resolved to read the Bible, cover to cover, and his enthusiasm is contagious.  Each day we talk, he shares new insight from his readings.  Hearing him talk about Abraham, Joseph, and Moses tempts me to abandon my personal studies to review their stories.  Truly, the WORD of GOD is exciting!

King Josiah, the keynote speaker in today’s recharge, discovered another property of GOD’S WORD: it’s enlightening.  Prior to this text, the people in Judah were in a season of rebellion – they had abandoned GOD to worship idols and pursue their own interests.  But things changed once King Josiah heard GOD’S WORD.  The words were so convicting that King Josiah initiated a national, spiritual reform.  This text shows us that reading GOD’S WORD will help us do right in a “do wrong” world.

The WORD is our road map to heaven; it’s our guide through darkness.  No wonder David called it “a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105, New Living Translation).  Read and obey the WORD, and you’ll have integrity in an immoral society.

Read the WORD, daily …


TIP 4: Forgive

I’ve been more attentive to politics lately, and Jesse Jackson seems to be the conversation of choice.  People have said harsh things in response to his comments toward Senator Obama.  I’ve heard people say, “A preacher shouldn’t have said that.”  Others have even dug up his past, “And he shouldn’t have had a child outside of marriage, either.”  I’ve searched for compassion, for someone to forgive and restore Jesse Jackson, but to no avail.  Sadly, I think I’ve reached a principle: we tend to hold people hostage to their mistakes.

Everyone deserves forgiveness, and JESUS models it wonderfully in this text.  Judas, one of JESUS’ hand-picked disciples, betrayed HIM.  When Judas arrived with the militant host, JESUS could have exposed his confidential sin file.  HE could have dispatched legions of angels, and it probably would have felt good – to HIS flesh, that is.  But JESUS took the high road – HE called Judas a friend.  Wow!  HE forgave Judas to please HIS FATHER and exemplify love for us.

In a world conducive to bitterness, grudges, and retaliation, we must be compassionate and forgiving.  A friend shared a thought that concludes this email beautifully, “When you don’t forgive, you give GOD a license not to forgive you”  (thanks Hannah!)

… and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us (Matthew 6:12, New Living Translation)

Have faith

TIP 3: Have faith

I saw a Rex Healthcare / UNC Hospitals commercial this morning that helped refocus my perspective.  A woman, recently diagnosed with cancer, had joy beyond comprehension.  Her joy was so powerful that she said, “After the initial diagnosis, life goes on.”  I wondered how she had joy despite numerous reasons to be upset.  Later in the commercial, she disclosed the root of her excitement – her faith in the Rex Healthcare / UNC Hospitals practices and research.

When survival seems impossible, you need a voice of reason – someone to transport you to the realm of possibilities.  That’s the role Joshua and Caleb played in this excerpt from Numbers.  10 of the 12 spies who investigated the Promised Land returned with negative reports.  Their words were so convincing that the Israelites panicked and wanted to return to Egypt.  But Joshua and Caleb had a different outlook: they had faith that GOD would uphold HIS promise.

We live in an age where worry is more prevalent, and contagious, than ever.  A sure vaccine for the “worry syndrome” is faith, or confident, unshakable trust in GOD.  Have faith, and watch GOD work wonders in your life.

Once I was young, and now I am old.  Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread (Psalm 37:25, New Living Translation).

Don’t compromise

TIP 2: Don’t compromise

An episode of Between Brothers – starring Kadeem Hardison, Tommy Davidson, Dondre’ T. Whitfield, and Kelly Perine – came to mind as I considered the main point of today’s recharge.  Charles Winston (Kadeem Hardison) had received an interview for a job with a major publication.  One of his ex-girlfriends conducted the first interview, and she clearly expressed how Winston could secure the job.  If he’d be intimate with her, then the job was his.  Despite numerous invitations, Winston refused to give in.  He wouldn’t compromise his standards to secure an employment opportunity.

Refusing to compromise is a sure way to do right in a “do wrong” world.  That’s what Daniel did in the text cited above.  King Darius had signed a decree forbidding prayer to GOD.  Daniel could have compromised his standards, but he refused.  Prayer had worked wonders in his life, and he refused to abandon GOD now!

Opportunities to do wrong will always be abundant, but you don’t have to accept the invitation.  Don’t compromise your values to advance professionally or fit in, because each compromise makes the next compromise easier.

Don’t compromise …

Take a stand

TIP 1: Take a stand

February 1, 1960 marked a monumental moment in the American Civil Rights Movement.  While many African-Americans had accepted the onset of segregation, 4 young men (aka the “Greensboro Four”) decided enough was enough.  Consequently, they organized a sit-in at the “whites only” Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, NC.  They were convinced that segregation was wrong, and they took a stand for justice and equality.

Sometimes, doing right in a “do wrong” world is as simple as standing up for what you believe.  That’s what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did in the text cited above.  King Nebuchadnezzar had issued a horrible command to the people in Babylon: “When you hear the sound of the (music), bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue” (Daniel 3:5, New Living Translation).  Immediately, and without thinking, nearly everyone obeyed the command.  But not Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; they took a stand for GOD and refused to worship a graven image.

If you’re going to survive in a corrupt world, you must be willing to take a stand for what you believe.  Your boldness may inspire opposition and ridicule, but keep standing for what’s right.  And as you stand, remember GOD is with you; HE promised, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, New Living Translation).

Take a stand … especially for righteousness!