MLK: The Ultimate Measure of a Man

On a recent trip to Wichita, I took the turnpike, and as I entered the access ramp, I saw a bright orange sign with a warning:  Right Lane Closed Ahead.RightLaneClosedLarge

As I contemplated the message of the sign, I thought:  If the right lane is closed, does this mean I have to drive in the wrong lane? 

Sometimes decisions are difficult, and we have very few options; but, others can be made by the simple flip of a coin and either heads or tails decides a course of action.

Success and failure are the results of the decisions we make and the paths we take in life.  Robert Frost wrote of this when he penned The Road Not Taken.

Some people find comfort in going along with the crowd, and they choose the well-traveled path. There are others who are either more adventurous or who are willing to challenge the status quo, so they take the road less traveled.

Today is a day set aside to honor Martin Luther King Jr; a man who had a dream; a man of determination; and a man who chose to walk the road less traveled

Dr. King understood that, Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

While darkness and hatred are a challenge to the ethos of the present day, they’re not race specific. There are elements within each race who inflict acts of darkness and hatred upon their own race as well as others.

To drive out the darkness with love, we need to think intelligently and respond with passion. Too many people, black and white, are reacting with an impassioned zeal that torches buildings, shoots the innocent, and who call evil good and good evil.

As Dr. King said: The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. To be a part of the solution and to help spread the light, we can either be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

My Pinky Finger or My Whole Hand?

flowerWhen you think of the stories of the Bible, which one pops into your mind?  Is it Noah and the ark, or Jonah and the big fish?  One of the more familiar stories is the account of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10).

To help you remember this story, let me remind you of the main characters.  It involved a thief who beat a man and the reactions of a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan.  Each of these people pondered a question.  The question asked by the priest and the Levite was: “What will happen to me, if I stop and help this man?”  The Samaritan asked the question from a different perspective: “What will happen to this man, if I don’t stop and help him?”

Both the priest and the Levite barely noticed the injured man, but the Samaritan was eager to help bear his burdens.  Of the three, it seems that the Samaritan was better acquainted with the words of Solomon:

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.  Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?  And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).”

I’ve wondered how much this story influenced the thinking of William Penn, who said: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

Some of the simplest acts of kindness, like lending a helping hand, are the most noble.  The following quotes focus on this kind of ministry:

  • Martin Luther King Jr: “Life’s most urgent questions is: What are you doing for others?”
  • Booker T. Washington: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

God calls us to try to see each other through, not to try to see through each other.  We do this best when we labor together; lift each other up; and, support one another.

The Truth About Truth

truthianmAs I watched the evening news last night and the skilled manner in which the politicians spun the truth, I thought of the words of Jesus and Solomon:

  • John 8:32: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
  • Proverbs 12:17: Truthful witness by a good person clears the air, but liars lay down a smoke screen of deceit. ~ The Message

If the truth will make you free, can you make the assumption that a life of habitual deceitfulness leads to bondage?  To be free, you need to have the courage to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Some people have lived a life characterized by manipulation and deceit to the point that they wouldn’t recognize truth if it appeared to them as their firstborn child.  To help you recognize it and understand it, take note of a quote or two:

  • G.K. Chesterton: “Right is right even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong about it.”
  • George Orwell: “In a time of universal deceit — telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
  • Albert Einstein:  “Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.”
  • Augustine: “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”

I’m not sure if Billy Graham had Martin Luther King, Jr in mind when he made the statement above, or if King was thinking of Graham; but the two of them made complimentary statements:

  • Billy Graham: “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
  • Martin Luther King, Jr: “Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency ask the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But, conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

I’ll close with Psalm 85:10 from The Message: “Love and Truth meet in the street, Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss! Truth sprouts green from the ground, Right Living pours down from the skies! Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty; our land responds with Bounty and Blessing. Right Living strides out before him, and clears a path for his passage.”