BILL COSBY: Now That We Know

I need to say this for many reasons and they are by no means offered to justify or otherwise forget what Bill Cosby may be guilty of among the many accusations and now charges that have been filed against him.

But I am curious! Are Bill Cosby’s jokes any less funny now that we have been made aware of his faults and failures? Can we no longer laugh at the hilarious stories he has told to entertain thousands across the land? Did we not feel something good from the clean and non-profane gestures, faces, and one-liners that brought smiles and joy to our hearts? Can we in no way now relate to the common stories of family life that we could say, ‘yeah, I’ve done that,’ and then laugh at him and ourselves?

Does the Cosby Show not carry any moral influence or weight as modeling family values? Now that we all know, do we all agree that the long running and popular family show we all watched and loved without filtering has no value to us or the current generation? Surely there is something to learn that will influence some positive outcomes to children and parents when watching Cosby! And why haven’t other shows whose stars have been found guilty of heinous crimes, faults and failures been met with cancellation?

What about his money?  Is it not still green or does it spend well knowing of his improprieties?  Do the benefits gained from donations mean nothing now . . . Or, has anyone returned his ‘tainted’ money now that we know ‘the whole truth?” Should students return their diplomas, or institutions their scholarship funds, endowments or buildings resulting from his donations?

Should foundations, corporation boards, committees, etc. retract every suggestion, proposal, idea, or influence Dr. Cosby may have contributed toward improving their values, performance, policies, product or presentation?  Surely, if this man is as evil as he is now purported to be, there should be no hint of him or his thought and absolutely no gain to any he may have assisted or worked with in some way.

Is he guiltier than the rest of us and therefore doomed to condemnation without any thought of mercy or forgiveness?  The rest of us, who may not be guilty of executing such horrendous crimes against women, but perhaps used charm, deceit, manipulation, or by some other means achieved the same results, are we less guilty? What about the ones of us who thought about these things but lacked the wherewithal or means to actually carry out the thought?

And what about the rest of us?  Now that we all know, have we become so righteous and without fault or sin that we can erase everything there is to know or recall of Bill Cosby?  Do we all look better in the light of this news about Bill Cosby?  Instead of a ‘scarlet letter,’ shall we act now as though he never lived and made any difference while he lived?  Maybe we ought to ask, ‘are you a Cosby unknown?’ What are we all hiding from view of the world to see? Can we so easily shut down an entire human experience without any thought of ourselves? Surely not?!

I don’t know if Mr. Cosby is guilty or innocent! I do know of my own failures (as you know your own) . . . and we all need mercy. Especially now, that time has accumulated a great number of failures over the years. Somebody needs to write on the ground for a few moments to give time for reasonable and rational consideration to take place on the thought, ‘he that is without sin, cast the first stone.’ The eldest of us may lead a caravan away from this court of condemnation!

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HYDR . . . Heavens Yes, We Care

As a part of the Ole Miss Family, I’m compelled to write the following words in light of recent news about the Nkemdiche brothers.  Robert Nkemdiche and his brother Denzel Nkemdiche need us.  They deserve a chance to become great men in life as they are great players on the football field.

We’ve heard the news . . . as well continued inquiry, speculation, criticism, condemnation, or projections for their future? Should we be concerned about more than ‘eligibility’ or ‘projected values’ to the NFL?

Let’s face it!   As a part of the Ole Miss family, these two need our compassion and genuine caring concern!  They need our prayers, as do their parents, as they face these personal failures.  They need real friends, not mere fans who only desire to exploit their talents, notoriety or favor.  And they need people who understand the vulnerabilities of youthfulness, the sometimes youthful improprieties, or scathing public sins that bring shame open their families and themselves.

Their challenge now is to learn how  to rise up to face real life challenges and struggles to live wholesome, contributing lives.  As  ‘stars’ on the football team, it is clear they have mastered football.  Now, to be ‘stars’ in life, they will need room to make their mistakes and time to correct them without so much scorn from us or the public.  They need mercy from us and those who have cheered them on, to deal with the harsh realities of life off of the field of play.

I’m pulling for these two young men to make it and I am praying that the same focus and intensity with which they’ve played the game will now be applied to this struggle to rebuild their self-esteem and restore their confidence. But like so many of us who’ve lived longer and have been given opportunities to rehabilitate, regroup, or be restored, these two deserve to be given the same.  Especially those of us who have enjoyed the ride in this new season of Ole Miss Football.

HYWC  . . .Heaven’s Yes, We Care

“WHAT SHALL I CRY?”

The season’s festivities have already begun for another Holy Day celebrating our Lord’s miraculous birth! He is Emmanuel, God with us; here to bring us into fellowship with the Father. Bless the day of His arrival to Bethlehem!

The season’s greetings and celebrations this year, more than ever, will be shrouded by a cloud thoughts and feelings of terror and fear. Our reality almost every day is some form of violent and tragic incidents inflicted upon innocent everyday people somewhere in the world. We’re all afraid that one day it may be our town, our neighborhood, or our family.

What are we to do in the light of all of these harsh realities and deep rooted feelings of fear? What are we to say in the face of the world’s cynicism, hopelessness, and fear?

Isaiah faced a lost nation with the same desperate inquiry: “A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’” (Isaiah 40:6 ESV)

The answer is clear and powerful for a generation long removed from Isaiah’s reality: “Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength; O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’ Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.” (Isaiah 40:9-10 ESV)

Listen to His promise to a people lost under pretentious religious formality, insensitive consideration of their own countrymen, and where wickedness abounded. It is a word fresh with life for a new millennial age of skepticism, unbelief, fear, and moral bankruptcy. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to Him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)

It is an old and familiar word to the church! Above all, it is relevant to where we stand in the midst of terrorist violence that is being imposed upon the entire world. We are all vulnerable in this global reality. As Christians, we are also blessed that our God is still on the throne and changes not. He is both aware of these latest happenings among us and He has us on His mind to care for us whether alive or facing death.

Choose Him today, as His promises still live with assurance and power for these days of uncertainty. Our strength is in the Lord!

OVERCOME THE CIRCUMSTANCE

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair.”  (II Corinthians 2:8). Don’t allow desperation to drive your decisions.  “Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord.”  (Psalm 27:14)

The circumstances of life are not your destiny.  Find your place of service and determine to walk in it, “be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 15:58)

IT’S COLD!

The cold of winter is upon us!  Everyone can appreciate a warm and safe shelter from the cold, stormy blast that is now being felt across the land.  It’s cold!

Worse yet, however, is to live with a cold heart evidenced by the chilling insensitivity that seems to be the order of the day.  Cold from within the heart will alienate us from one another and cause ‘I don’t care about you’ attitudes.  People inflict pain and agony upon others from a cold heart.  Horrible acts are committed upon others, sometimes in mass, because of cold hearts.

The chill of frigid weather is no comparison to men who have hearts frozen to the cares of others and  who inflict agony and sorrow.

Seek today to be a person with a warm heart to love God and others.  Don’t allow yourself to become victim to “. . . the love of many will grow cold.”  (Matthew 24:12 NKJV)  

THE GATE IS OPEN KOATCH!

Penned in and left alone, Koatch was both angry and frustrated.  He barked his chagrin loudly for several minutes.  After an hour in the dog pen, the gate was opened so that he was free to go in any direction.  But, unfortunately, he didn’t realize it and continued his ranting and running from one corner to the other.  He was especially annoyed that I walked past the pen to a distance beyond it so that he ran faster and ranted more loudly, of course, to no avail.  After a while of this behavior, he stopped to notice that the gate was open and proceeded to sniff his way to his master and cause of all of this commotion.

But, the gate was open and he actually saw it opened but was so overwhelmed with the dynamics of the situation and his frustration, that he did not take notice of it.

Too many people spend the better part of their lives ranting and raving about one issue after another.  They feel penned in by entrapments of their own making or by boundaries and limits set by others.  Some are angry at the world about dreams deferred or lost while others make little or no attempts at seeking deliverance or freedom.  Depression and misery have become the order of the day for many.

But the gate is open.  Stop!  Cease from troubling yourself!  The gate is open!  You are free and you’re free right now to be all that you are capable of being and to do all that you are called to do.  Cut the drama!  Stop looking down!  Halt the comparisons to others!  Refuse bitterness or envy and jealousy.  Forget about blaming everyone for your slow start or failures even.

The gate is open!  John 8:36 ESV:  “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  Jesus has already paid the price for our freedom.  Follow Him!  The gate is open for everyone that seeks to follow the Son, Jesus the Christ, to access and experience freedom.  You may be running from corner to corner in your own penned up existence, but God wants you to know that the gate is open to new opportunity and possibility.

Galatians 5:13 ESV – “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh . . .”

Change your perspective and change your outlook on things.  Try a new approach and take notice of the opportunities for you to realize your potential and possibility.  You are free to go because the gate is open!

BE CAREFUL OF YOUR PLAY!!!

Koatch was enjoying some time outside in the sunshine and playing with small objects on the ground.  At first it appeared  that he’d taken notice of a small leaf being blown along by the gentle breeze.  Upon closer observation, it became clear that this was a red wasp that this little novice of a creature was sniffing and pushing around with his little nose.  This little puppy didn’t know that he was playing with danger.

If you’ve never had a close encounter with red wasps or felt the intense power of one of their stings, then you may not appreciate the use of the term danger.  They hurt . . . the really hurt.  They are not red for no reason.  They are dangerous!  Therefore, my little almost newborn canine friend Koatch had to be rescued, and immediately.

There are times in each of our life journeys when we are playing with fire and innocently exploring new adventures.  Someone with more experience and understanding about things has to come to our rescue and even then some of us will not listen.  We can be so engaged with the newness of things that we cannot be objective to assess the dangers that lurk beneath.  Dangers, which, if ignored, can impact the quality of our lives for the rest of our lives.  Or, at least for too long a period of time, it may change the appearance of things and our feelings, causing great pain and sorrow.

Be careful that you not toy around with seemingly small things in life.  Or, don’t treat things that matter as though they are nothing.  There are painful consequences to playing and not recognizing the danger involved or the importance of it all.  Life could change forever because of a moment of play.  Sometimes the pain is too deep to overlook and may affect other people’s lives as well.

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”  Ephesians 5:15 KJV

THE STARS STILL SHINE AT NIGHT!

I saw the stars last night.  They were brilliant and shined brightly with amazing beauty!

And they took me back to days out in the country when under the cover of darkness, these same stars shined brightly to capture my attention and wonder.  It was amazing then and they were amazing last night.

Some things never change!  Some things shouldn’t change and the stars never change.  Men have charted their course around the world by them on land, water and even in the air.  They can be counted on to stay in the same place through time and circumstance.

I know this to be a fact.  Fifty years ago as a little boy I chased the ‘lightnin’ bugs’ during the dusk of evening and later would look up into the skies to see the same exact tapestry I saw last night.  They shone with the same brilliance in the exact same place . . . all of them; every one of them scattered in the sky from the eastern horizon toward the far western.  No wonder exploring travelers could count on their guidance to navigate through the seas and over the terrain to lands and places with such precision.  “Lift up yours eyes on high and see Who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing.” Isaiah 40:26 NKJV

They’ve been there all this time, at times covered by a layer or layers of clouds, shrouding them from view.  Other times, the lights of the city made viewing them difficult to near impossible to see and capture their beauty.  But, they were there all the time.  And once again, last night, they captured my attention with amazement.  I stopped to see, with my childlike wonder and now maturing faith, what caught my eye 50 years ago.

I was reminded of the surety of God!  The One who has been with me these 50 years and still captures my heart with the creative things that He has made.  Most of all, those stars remind me of the steadfast love of God, which, just like the stars, remains there all of the time despite my difficulties seeing it because of the sometimes shrouded covering of life’s darkness of night or the sometimes overpowering nature of all things superficial.

His love is always there!

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39 NKJV

DESTINATION UNKNOWN

Every day, travelers head in most every direction in the skies with designated departure times with expectation of arrival to a destination at an appointed time.  The jet and its passengers move definitively and determinedly through the heavens to places unknown.

Those travelers are much the same as those on the ground, pondering their movements among people as they go here and there in cars, buses, trains, or trucks.  Destination unknown:  We can only wonder where they’re all heading.

Such is life.  As we make choices and decisions about our likes, dislikes, preferences, ambitions, hopes, dreams, we’re moving deliberately to somewhere developing and growing a life and legacy as we go on a fast track that quickly adjusts to the right or the left, up or down, or perhaps just straight ahead.  The destination isn’t clear, but we’re on our way!

Be careful how you travel though.  Excess baggage can ruin the trip.  Be careful what you pick up along the way.  Travel comforts can affect others.  Don’t create travel discomforts by insisting on your own comforts creating burdens for other travelers.  Be nice, assistance may be needed down the road.  Someone you neglect or ignore may be the one person with the very skill needed to help you to carry on with your journey.

Life has a way of returning favors.  Be sure to offer them as you travel because the journey will take turns without warning and there will be need for favor in your adjustments in those turns.  And the travel really does bring adjustments.  A gate change or seat adjustment, comforts, discomforts, physical challenges, or health issues can all make the journey so different.

The journey does end somewhere at a yet undisclosed location.  The means of travel does not matter, the journey ceases somewhere in time and space where travelers will get off of the bus one last time, leave the car parked for one last time, exit the train or plane one last time, or back the truck up for one last haul.  As was once said among the ‘mothers of the church’ or the elderly faithful, ‘when I’ve gone in my room to come out no more,’ that too will be a last.

Travel so that you can leave with dignity on the last ride.  Move along in life with meaning and purpose achieved only by interacting peaceably with others and helping others to journey to their end.  Because, at the end, everyone discover that this journey is not about us individually as much as it is about others that we can help, meet their needs and demonstrate caring concern.

The destination is determined by how we are willing to submit to someone bigger than ourselves to love other people.

Destination unknown?  Not really!  The treasures of the heart tell us where we’re headed.  They remind us daily whether we’re about ourselves or others.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV

COMMITMENT ISSUES? REALLY?

There seems to be trouble with the word ‘commit’ these days.  It is highlighted by the National Signing Day and all of the hustle and bustle for the best high school football players available by schools all across the land.  Many have committed (or so we thought) while some have decommitted (a new word I think).  Now we’re hearing of a university decommitting from their scholarship commitment to a young athlete, leaving the young man to search for someone else to commit to him so that he can commit to them.

These are the young man’s words:  “I felt lost and hopeless.  I mean, I had shut down my recruiting and basically gave everything to those guys – my commitment, my word and everything.  Now my commitment and your commitment isn’t the same thing.”

This is too much.  What happened to the phrase, ‘your word is your bond?’  What happened to a contract being sealed with a handshake?  What is the problem with the word commit?

It’s showing up everywhere!  More and more people have commitment issues related to their ‘love’ interests, friendships, business relationships, and even with relationship with God.  Longstanding institutions are finding it difficult to survive because of commitment issues.

I love you but I can’t commit (Isn’t that a misnomer?)  I want you on my team but I want to grayshirt you (after offering the scholarship).  We can do business together but . . .  I believe in the Lord, but I am not ready to ‘commit.’

It seems there is always but . . . not the one with two t’s, just one, which communicates ‘no commitment.’  There is always an underlying current, a risky possibility, a remote chance, a shred of doubt or something that keeps people from using the word or execute the action of commit.

Committed?  Really, are you all in with no holdouts, no hidden agenda, no reluctance, no hesitancy or doubt?  Really, because if you’re committed, doesn’t that mean to entrust something (That is a form of trust I think).  Commitment carries weight because each party realizes it is binding upon both of them. (Usually!  But, the language is in transformation, obviously.)  And, the agreement obligates (It did at one time!) parties to perform certain acts or to deliver on certain matters mentioned in the commitment.

Well, National Signing Day is almost here and we will see how these commitments pan out.

But every day presents opportunities to demonstrate our commitment to some things such as our relationships, our institutions, our businesses, values and principles without which our whole society will be in turmoil.  Do we really have society without trust or commitment?

That may explain some things.