Category Archives: Behavior

Behavior – is education the answer?

Everything else is broken in Washington, D.C.  Why would it surprise us that their cops can’t remember to retrieve their personal “piece” after going to the bathroom?  These are men and women who provide security for the Capitol and all its occupants and visitors.  Yet at least three this year they’ve left their gun where anyone could find and fire it.  A child found one of them.

A cop’s weapon is his lifeline, so much a part of him it’s an added layer of skin.  It’s his, and our, sole protection against the bad guys.  It’s what distinguishes him from all civilians.  We don’t have to wear holsters and guns because he does.  It’s the “piece” he keeps with him at all times, even when off-duty.  It’s what he surrenders to anyone only if he’s unconscious or dead.

Yet, D.C. cops can’t even retrieve it from the stool, or floor, or sink after using the restroom?  And the Police Chief has to give them “lessons” on how to go to the bathroom so they won’t forget to re-arm after each nature call?  How can you “educate” what should be “instinctive”?

The Chief said he was considering increasing the five-day suspension for offending cops to thirty-day suspensions for the first offense, and termination for any added violation.  “Considering”?  Do it.  San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/21/15

. . .

Isn’t there a spiritual lesson in this story?  Yes, indeed.  Policemen must be judged by the law they represent and enforce.  We can only say to them, “C’mon, guys, get your act together or you’re fired!”

Christians are judged by the far-more merciful Grace Jesus Christ provides.  We can always say to ourselves, “C’mon, guys, repent of your sin, confess it to Jesus, and get back out there and try, try, again!”


Behavior – one political, the other personal

Strange, inconsistent behavior often characterized North and South in the Civil War.  One of the strangest was the “battle of the sexes.”  Northern soldiers repeatedly felt the unmerciful, unladylike vituperation of Southern women.  They spared no vulgar words or gestures, wielded any handy weapon, including saliva, in condemning the disgusting invaders.  New Orleans women became so offensive that General Butler issued his infamous order declaring any southern woman spitting at, or cursing any Federal soldier, would be considered a prostitute.  That stopped the public displays, even as it enraged the ladies.

The women also worked in factories producing weapons and ammunition.  They spied on Federal troop concentrations and sped intelligence to Confederate commanders.  They donated plate and jewelry, managed farms and invented substitutes for imported items.

However, while the girls and ladies publicly, daily and viciously maligned the Federal soldiers, and refused to even acknowledge or address them, except in abuse, once night fell, normal feelings replaced animosities.  With so many Southern men gone to war, and so many Federal soldiers handy and willing, “ardent and unrepentant partisans by day often promenaded by night…arm in arm with dashing lieutenants and captains….”

The shortage of Southern men, and the presence of so many Northern men, may have accounted for it.  More importantly, as in every age, it was “boy meets girl” with the inevitable results.  The change in attitude was also seen in battles between Federal and Confederate troops.  Shooting to kill while in battle, they regularly visited across the lines afterwards to shoot the breeze.

What isn’t as well known, many Southern women considered secession wrong, the War wrong and the South wrong.  They deplored this “awful war” and even publicly denounced the right of secession.  Irrepressible Conflict, 395-397

Discipleship – persistence in, not success in, the essence of

The Western Engineer  served as Stephen Long’s steamboat on his 1819 expedition into western America.  A worse choice could hardly have been made.  The ship’s weak engines had trouble from the first.  It took a month to steam from Pittsburgh to the mouth of the Ohio—and that was all with the current.  It had even more trouble battling the current of the Mississippi to St. Louis.  On the wild Missouri, it had no luck at all.  On one wild stretch of the river, the engineer ran the ship’s engines full blast, and the craft still stood dead in the Missouri’s raging waters.  Sunlight and Storm, p. 171

Sometimes even best efforts fail to achieve desired results.  Nearly all Old Testament prophets experienced it.  They served God faithfully, without many positive results.  They invested time, prayer and preaching, only to see little repentance.  Indeed, the historical situation deteriorated as they preached their hearts out.  The tide of godlessness soared so high and strong that they found themselves “standing still.”

Not every effort for God succeeds for us, either.  It happens particularly in our depraved society.  God’s word doesn’t seem to impact our culture.  Which illustrates the difference between the Western Engineer and discipleship.  Unlike the steamboat, discipleship lacks no power.  Christianity runs constantly at full speed and power.  But human depravity, in a generation that has fallen far from God, resists the effectiveness of God’s word.

Christians, take note.  Our society degrades Christ’s Deity as God’s Only Begotten Son, and our only hope for forgiveness. That adamant objection to God’s truth makes success in getting a positive result difficult; even though some Christians guarantee sure success if we pray long enough and work hard enough.

It can’t always be that way—and isn’t.  America is in a state of decay that’s ripe for God’s judgment, not conversion.  Perhaps wholesale conversion to Christ will come in the tribulation to be shared by all people, Christians included, but not without it.  Until God’s punishment comes, the biggest test of his servants’ effectiveness isn’t in the victories gained but in resolute faithfulness to God’s Son, whatever setbacks are experienced.

Since our faith and efforts aren’t always re-paid in kind; since situations and people can defy repentance, perseverance is the essence of faithful discipleship.  Where we go to the point of discouragement, and past it to further effort; to the point of stopping, but passing the finish line to continue; to the point of knowing we’ll be rejected, but faithfully proclaiming Jesus Christ’s singularity.

Wild Horses

In her 1864 Diary, written on the family’s journey across the Plains to Oregon, Anna Clinkinbeard tells of a horse breaking free of his owners while the wagons were stopped.  The men were not able to harness it once loosed.  It charged through the campground, scattering people in all directions.  It ran straight at the Clinkinbeard tent and baby Charles lying on the ground directly ahead.  The family started toward him but the horse was closer than they.  Completely unrestrained, the now terrified as well as wild animal headed straight for the baby, to cause his certain death.  However,…inexplicably, as he got to the infant, the horse “stepped carefully and slowly over the baby, then ran madly charging away.”  The Paper, 11/28/13

That isn’t the result I remember when, as a boy, seeing dad charging south bound on Union Avenue in Lincoln, Illinois, helpless in a wagon behind two runaway horses.  He finally steered them off the road, across a ditch and into some woods, where they stopped.  It wasn’t the result I had as a young preacher.  While visiting a family in Mt.Vernon, one of the young Morgan daughters, Connie I believe, asked me to accompany her in a buggy ride behind her tame horse.  Not long into the ride the tame became a runaway horse with little Connie and me hanging on for dear life until we mercifully ran into the ditch along the road, turned over and threw us out, the horse still dragging the buggy along.  The family came running to offer their regret and sympathy.  While we were both fine, that was the last time I ever got in a buggy behind a horse.

Like people, animals can’t always be trusted to behave.  And, like animals, people when misbehaving are often irrational.  God may be talking.  That doesn’t mean they’re listening.  Or they may be listening.  That doesn’t mean they’re anxious and willing to obey.