Tough choices: No way to evade them

Carl Sandburg said, “There is an eagle inside me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus inside me that wants to wallow in the mud.”

We all get to choose–we have to choose!–every day of our lives whether to soar or wallow.

Chuck Colson once asked a prisoner on death row if he wanted a television in his cell. “No,” he said. “TV wastes too much time.”

Time  was a commodity of which he had little.

We get to choose–we have to choose!–what to do with our time each day.

Thomas Merton said, “There were only a few shepherds at the first Bethlehem. The ox and the ass understood more of the first Christmas than the high priests in Jerusalem. And it is the same today.”

We choose what to do with Jesus.

Someone called our church office inquiring if non-members were allowed to use the sanctuary for weddings. The secretary informed her that the answer was “no.” A few minutes later, the woman called back. This time she wanted to know if the pastor could marry her and her fiance over the phone.

Some people just don’t get it. And others who don’t want to work at their marriage try to “phone it in.”

When you consider entering marriage, you are committing yourself to a lifetime of decision-making.  Those who run from the commitment of marriage are fleeing having to make those choices as much as anything.

Walter Moore is still shaking his head. A student came into his office complaining about his parents. They were controlling his life, making him go to school, telling him what time he had to be in, that sort of thing. He had had taken about all he could stand and had come to a decision.

“What are you going to do?” asked Walter.

“I’m going to run away and join the Army.”

Theologian J. I. Packer, author of the best-seller Knowing God, said, The business of religion in many circles has become trying to make people happy. Anything that enlarges my comfort zone is regarded as good, godly, and to be integrated into my religion.

But true theology challenges the presuppositions of North American culture, both secular and churchly, both of which seem to be primarily concerned with ‘the right to happiness.’ True theology calls on us to deny the claims of self and exalt God instead.

In A.D. 79 when Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, many residents were buried in the ruins. Some were found in deep vaults, others in lofty chambers. Yet, the Roman sentinel was found standing at the city gate. While the earth shook beneath him, he remained at his post.

In the courtroom as the judge and lawyers were attempting to select a jury, a woman stood. “Your honor, I am a psychic and already know the outcome of this case.” When the judge dismissed her, she replied, “I knew you would.” (Some people have all the answers.)

A prominent man went to see the principal about his son who was doing poorly in school and running with the wrong crowd. When he asked the educator for advice, he got more than he bargained for. “I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do for your son,” he said. “Resign from the presidency of the chamber of commerce. Leave that position to someone whose family has grown up and is not in such great need of fatherly attention as is your boy. Your first duty during the next five years, after providing the necessities of life for your family, is at home with your boy. You should help him with his lessons; you should interest him in your business; and you should become his comrade and chum. By giving the same amount of time and attention to your son you now give to the chamber of commerce, you will save him and also probably be the means of doing just as much good for your city.”

Wish I’d done that regarding my over-involvement in denominational activities when my sons were teens.

We make these choices in everyday life, and reap the consequences for the rest of our earthly existence.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have made a decision about His church.  One way or the other.  I leave you with this quote from A. Leonard Griffith, a faithful pastor and author of numerous inspirational books a couple of generations back.

Whoever despises the church displays an abysmal ignorance of history. To be sure, much in the church’s history leaves room for regret and there have been times when the church has ‘bungled.’ But read the story in its wholeness and ask yourself if any single institution has played so decisive a role in the impulse to human freedom and dignity; the challenging of ignorance; the relief of suffering; the conquest of disease; the growth of humanitarian concern for the weak, the helpless, the destitute, the inspiration to great art and literature, architecture, and music; the enlarging of personal horizons; the incentive to more sensitive and concerned moral living; the stabilizing of the inner lives of millions of people through the ages and around the world; the fostering of prophetic attacks by determined minorities on such giant evils as racial prejudice, economic exploitation, and war. You cannot tell the story of the past 2,000 years and leave the church’s influence out. For all its human bungling and blundering, the church has been and still remains the supremely creative, transforming force in human life and the world.

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