Recently, I sat in Frank’s Barber Shop—the closest thing I know to Floyd’s establishment in Mayberry, N.C.—thumbing through a magazine while my grandson received his quarterly shearing. An article in Esquire from December, 2002, (one of Frank’s newer magazines) caught my attention. The editors listed “36 ways to improve the world.” Some were brilliant, several were tongue-in-cheek, and a few were outrageous. Here is a sample.
1. Parking meters that take credit cards in all major cities.
2. Automatically register American citizens to vote when they turn 18.
3. No punting in football. You play the fourth down, like it or not.
4. No time-outs in any sport.
5. Encourage famous artists to paint medians and guardrails.
6. Presidential candidates must take an SAT test with the results published.
7. Government-subsidized breath mints.
8. In Oscar speeches, actors cannot thank their agents, managers, co-stars, etc., but must say something original and interesting.
9. Customers must step on a scale that announces their weight when super-sizing anything at McDonald’s.
10. Assign every American a phone number at birth that stays with him or her for life.
This all started me to thinking of other ways to improve the planet. Now, lest anyone get super-spiritual on us here and claim that since we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom we should not care about this world, I refer you to Jeremiah 29:7. To homesick Israelis stuck in Babylon, crying for Zion, God said, “Work for the welfare of the city where you live. As it prospers, you will prosper.”
Here’s my list. I’d love to see yours. Click on at the bottom and give me a few of your favorite ideas. Creative, unusual, and thought-provoking are especially welcome.
1. Every A you get in college erases anything less than that in high school.
2. Each promotion you receive in your job erases the worst grade remaining on your college or high school record.
3. All of us give thanks for all the things right in the world. Instead of putting crows in the trees in your yard to drive you to distraction, God put songbirds to cheer you with their melodies. He didn’t have to; He was just doing what He does best. Thank God for songbirds today.
4. Every young preacher will turn to Exodus 20 and figure out why, in the same chapter, God gave the Ten Commandments (law) and then provisions for an altar (grace). He must have intended a balance between the two.
5. Every church member who never greets a stranger to visit 10 other churches where he or she will not be spoken to once; then return home with a passion for hospitality to newcomers.
6. Every church adopt a trailer park—the poor variety that attracts the hard-up and down-and-out—searching for ways to minister to the residents—with groceries, tutoring, clothing for children, and the gospel.
7. Pastors preach on the death and resurrection of Jesus year round, in one way or the other. And preach less about catchy, superficial subjects.
8. Church ushers hand out candy with the Sunday bulletin.
9. We dismiss church some Sunday evening and reconvene at the zoo.
10. A publisher to call me and say, “Can we turn your Matter of Fax articles into a book?” Okay, it wouldn’t change the world. But it sure would improve mine.
11. A delegation of church members to ambush me one Sunday and say, “We had a secret meeting, and we decided we want you to stay on as pastor until you are 80.” Hey, I’m 63, this is my list and I can put anything on it I want.
12. Christians to read their newspapers with a pen in hand, then write letters to people in the news who could use a word of encouragement.
13. Any man who wears a tie to church called before the deacons to give an explanation.
14. No one wear perfume or cologne to church ever again.
15. When church ends, no one to leave for 15 minutes, during which time every member greets newcomers and every committee holds its meetings.
16. All trash thrown onto the side of a highway decomposes in 15 minutes.
17. For healthy people, pounds be easy to lose and hard to gain.
18. Chocolate made non-fattening.
19. Science to make the astounding discovery that all the foods I love best are ideal for perfect health, energy, and longevity.
20. Madonna and Britney to get saved. Then, wait a year before going public, during which time they study the Bible and become grounded in the faith.
21. Oprah to start coming to my church, and dropping a tithe into the plate.
22. Everyone to start reading the New Testament and paying attention.
23. We all decide to laugh at least 15 minutes every day.
24. Editors of newspapers decide that calling oneself a born-again Christian does not make him/her a “fundamentalist extremist” or a nut.
25. Christians decide that nothing newspapers call them shall have any bearing on their obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ in this land which so desperately needs their faithfulness.