What’s In A Name?

I recently was having breakfast with a very good friend and he asked, “So, why do you call your blog “The Sidebar? What’s the meaning behind it?” I explained it to him and now I feel as though this would be a great time to explain it to you as well.

You see the definition of a sidebar is something along the lines of a ‘thing’ that is written, spoken, or given in addition to something else. Let me put it this way, have you ever been talking to a person and all of a sudden, a thought pops into your head and you interrupt yourself? Something like, “Hey, look at that beautiful German Shepherd—by the way, did you know that German Shepherds are the second most popular dog in America?”

This additional information usually is connected to the original thought and provides helpful details. In websites and newspapers, sidebars help to support the main articles and provide a roadmap for reading the whole issue.

Sidebars are secondary to the main point but helpful nonetheless.

So, why would I want my blog posts to be secondary to something else? Because the Word of God is always the primary, everything else comes after.

If you read and enjoy my posts, praise God! That’s awesome! I am so glad and thankful that you take the time and effort to read what I put together. But please, and hear me on this, please don’t let these Sidebars be a substitute for the real thing, for the main thing. The main thing is and needs to always be the Bible, God’s written word to us. His love letter to us, the people He created.

Psalm 119:9-11 is a passage that is a good reminder of why we ought to be soaking in the Bible on a daily basis.

“How can a young man [or young woman, or old man, or old woman for that matter] keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

We read the Bible in order to draw us closer to God, to keep us from sin, and to guide us in the way of life. The incredible man, D.L. Moody is credited as saying, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

It’s called The Sidebar because it is secondary to the main thing but still helpful. There is another reason why I chose this particular name.

Have you ever sat down with a friend to enjoy coffee and some deep conversations when all of a sudden something that is said catapults your mind in a completely different direction? You begin talking about one subject and by the time you walk away the conversation has changed topics a dozen times.

If you are anything like me then this probably happens to you a lot. It’s not a bad thing. People and things remind us of other people and things. One idea makes us think of another related idea. It’s just how our minds work.

That is the goal behind a Sidebar. As we face various situations, issues, and events may our minds would be continually drawn back to the truth. What if everyday situations would cause us to focus, or refocus, on something relatable and far more important. What if we continually related the real-life situations we face with the real-life biblical truth. These connections between everyday events and the truth we find in God’s Word are not hard to make when we allow God to work in our lives.

Romans 12:2 challenges us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I hope that this quick little Sidebar in your day has drawn you to focus on the incredible God who loves you and the awesome Word He has given you. That has been and will continue to be the goal of this blog.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8

All My Hope

Trust me on what I am about to say, be careful who you trust.

If you are anything like me, a living breathing human being, chances are that at one point in time someone somewhere let you down. Chances are that you put your trust in a person, organization, institution, or any other entity, only to see that trust misplaced as you walked away sadder but wiser.

Now, please understand what I am saying here. I am not advocating that we never trust other people, we actually do need one another. We need to rely on our close loved ones, we cannot, or at least should not, do this “life-thing” alone. But, we should be careful who we do trust. Even then, even if we are careful about who we trust, we still should not be surprised if, or more likely, when they fail us.

So, what do we do during the times where we face disillusionment? How do we respond to people and organizations who misuse our trust? How do we even move forward in the midst of our frustrations?

As always, we take our cue from God’s Word.

First, we need to understand that people, ourselves included, are fallible. We make mistakes, we mess up, we make errors in judgment, we disappoint, we sin. You don’t have to look past the reflection in a mirror to find a person who doesn’t have it all together and who is more than capable of letting others down. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) That means that all of us have sinned and therefore fallen short of God’s perfect standard of living. Therefore, it should not be a big surprise when a human being or a human run organization lets you down. We should actually expect it.

But there is also good news on the “fallible human front.” We actually can be better. 2 Corinthians 5:17 promises that if anyone is in Christ then they are a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come. Does that mean when a person becomes a Christian they are automatically perfect and perfectly trustworthy? No. But, as we let the Spirit work in our lives we will become more and more like Jesus. As a result of becoming more like Jesus, we should become more trustworthy as well. But again, we are still human. Humans will always eventually let you down.

Therefore, our ultimate and unwavering source of hope must be in God alone. We can, should, and need to trust in Him. He will not fail us because He cannot fail us. Take a moment to remind yourself of these truths,

Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 13:5 “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Revelation 21:5 “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

The Lord, He is God and He is trustworthy and true. People will fail you, I promise you that, but God never will. His love has, is, and will continue to pursue you. His steadfast love and kindness is literally following you around everywhere you go.

He will hold you in the midst of your hurt and pain. He will guide you when you don’t know where to go. He will pick you up when you can’t move. He will comfort you when you are alone. He will be trustworthy when everyone else is not.

In fact, Romans 5 tells us the beautiful truth that “while we were weak” and “at the right time” Jesus died for us. He provided for our most desperate need while we were weak and His “enemies.”

If anyone is worth trusting it would certainly be the one who gave His life for you.

As I write all of this, there is a song called, “All My Hope” by Crowder that I just can’t get out of my head, so I’ll link it here.

Our trust is not in men, women, governments, organizations, nor Institutions.

Our trust is in God alone.

 

 

 

 

MLK Jr. & Light in the Midst of Darkness

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. “

This weekend, for many students and teachers, was a three-day weekend. I remember, when I was in school, always looking forward to three-day weekends. Monday holidays were always my favorite. Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, President’s Day, Casimir Pulaski Day, (you only would know that if you’re from the great state of Chicago… I uh, mean Illinois) Labor Day, and of course Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

But I want to take a few moments to remind all of us that yesterday wasn’t just about getting a day off. Yesterday was a day to celebrate and commemorate the life of a wonderful, godly, loving, caring, and courageous man.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born as Michael King Jr. on January 15th, 1929. His father, Michael Sr. actually legally changed his own name, as well as his son’s, after a trip to Germany. During that trip, Michael Sr., a Baptist preacher, was so impressed by the life of the famous reformer that he made the legal switch in names in order to honor the hero of the Reformation.

King Jr.’s new name would perfectly fit his life’s work. He was in every way a true reformer of social, civil, and political norms.

The amazing man lived his life in such a way that inspired others to live in the same way. He truly walked the walk to back up his talk. He was a Christian who followed Jesus not only in word but in action.

King has so many incredible quotes. Yesterday, I was scrolling through my social media feeds and I saw quote upon quote from Dr. King. The extra cool thing was that I rarely saw a quote repeated. This is even more proof that this world changer had so much to say that we all should continue to listen.

It is one particular quote of his that I want to focus on today. It just happens to be one of my absolute favorites. The following is from a sermon that the good reverend gave back in 1957.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. “

Perhaps one reason why I love this quote so much is that it reminds me a lot of another line from a very quotable source.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

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The verse in John is talking all about Jesus-the light who came into the world to bring light and life to those who were dead in darkness. The darkness has not, will not, and cannot overcome the light that Jesus brings.

King’s quote is so impactful because it reminds us that more atrocity cannot put an end to atrocities, more hate cannot put an end to hatefulness, and more sin cannot put an end to our sinfulness. An argument isn’t ended by raised voices, all that results in is a louder room.

Unfortunately, in today’s culture, many things that Dr. King fought for and stood against are still hot-topic issues. However, we must remember that the fight against injustices is an ongoing one. And please, hear me clearly, this is our fight. As followers of Jesus Christ, no matter what the color our skin, we must stand against injustice. We must be light-bearers who, as we reflect the one true light, send darkness packing. We must remember that the root of our issues and frustrations are not caused by politics, nor economic status, not even race…but sin.

Sin is a thing that every single human being (no matter what background, race, intelligence, religion, nationality, or anything else) has in common. Thankfully, the Savior of the world is an equal opportunity rescuer.

In Luke chapter 4 Jesus read a Scripture from the Old Testament.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus then sat back and humbly said, (I’m heavily paraphrasing) “This is all about me. I am now doing all these things.”

Jesus was all about Saving the world, something only He could do through His death on the cross. Jesus was also all about justice, and therefore, we should be too. I’m reminded of a lyric from one of my favorite music groups, Beautiful Eulogy, and their song, “Slain.”

“I’m not afraid to talk about social injustices

Let’s also talk about the throne where perfect justice is

It sounds insensitive and some will hate the stench of it

But the church is not faithful if we fail to mention it

We worship a God who can speak to the world’s pain

Because salvation for us came through the Lamb who was slain”

 

Did you catch that second line? I hope so because I underlined it. Perfect justice can and will only come from God Himself. That truth is something that we believers need to talk about…and not stop talking about.

I think that Martin Luther King Jr. would agree, after all, he did say,

“The God whom we worship is not a weak and incompetent God. He is able to beat back gigantic waves of opposition and to bring low prodigious mountains of evil. The ringing testimony of the Christian faith is that God is able.”