From Jim O'Brien
August 26, 2016

Hi Friend,

When the World Goes Crazy

If you sometimes think the world has gone to the dogs, you're in the company of good men-many of whom lived in past generations. Jesus said of his time, "This is a wicked generation." (Luke 11:29 NIV)

But it got worse. Next in the line of Caesars were Caligula and Nero, two of the most notorious emperors of Rome that reigned during the 1st Century after the death of Jesus. They were as evil as any men who ever ruled. It is reported that Nero hung Christians from crosses and used them as human torches to light his grounds during evening parties.

The Apostle Paul was stoned and beaten. The evidence strongly suggests that in Ephesus he was once required to fight wild beasts. Eventually he was executed at Nero's order because he believed in Jesus Christ. America is better-at least for the present.

Jesus once reflected, "The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it...." So one wonders how other generations will judge ours. How would, for example, your grandparents look at your world? We have the privilege of hindsight to judge their world. In the judgment they will stand and judge ours. Wonder how we will fare?

From everyone's perspective his or her grandparents lived a long time ago. Mine were born in the 19th century which almost seems like another world. Yet I can go home to the land they farmed or in some cases, the home they occupied. It seems strange in a way, that on a hot summer day they found shade under the same tree that I might rest under today. I have vague memories, maybe aided by pictures, of walking down the sidewalk with my grandfather near his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The same sidewalk still exists. His old house is still there. But the world has changed. If he could come out of the grave and listen to the news, how would he judge us?

But there is a much deeper question. "How do I today respond to the surrounding culture?" Man has little choice about the world he inherits, but he is fully responsible for the choices he makes.

A friend clued me into a book with the subtitle, "The Paradoxical Commandments" which shed insight on this problem. The first paradoxical commandment is, "People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway." Another is, "The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway." And another, "The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway." And finally, "People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway."

Maybe the first major lesson in the life of every human is that man has been cast out of the Garden of Eden. If God intended us to live in a perfect world our ancestors muffed it. This world is flawed. The sooner a child comes to grips with "unfair" situations, the happier he will be.

The psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud was once asked, "What is the most important lesson to teach a child?" He replied, "Teach your child how to lose." Strange advice. Yet the person who grows up expecting an ideal world will always be frustrated. Teach him early that life has failures and disappointments. What matters is how we adjust to them. Success is developed from the inside out.

When the world is going the wrong direction avoid the herd instinct. However few the number, some people will be headed the right way. Be one of them.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien