2012 Blog Archive

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Faith Moment
November 12, 2012
No Energy for Pouting

In the Ken Burns PBS series on jazz music, Duke Ellington was asked how it felt to be unable, due to segregation, to stay in the guest rooms of the very hotels where he and his band performed.

Duke said, "I took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues."

I’m a big fan of the music of Duke Ellington. In fact, I own the CD of his music that came from the Ken Burns series. Ellington’s blues are great!  The prejudice shown that man, while intended to hurt him and keep in “in his place,” instead produced music that people have loved for generations.

Lately, I keep coming back to Romans 5:3 -- "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character..."

This certainly happened in the case of Duke Ellington.  Similarly, as you study the life of Paul, you can see the growth he experienced as a result of the persecution levied against him for his devotion to the Gospel.  Paul’s empathy toward those in pain is seen in a passage I quote often at funerals. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 has brought comfort to the hearts of hurting Christians for two thousand years:
 
13And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.
15I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. 18So comfort and encourage each other with these words.

This passage grew out of Paul’s own experience of pain.  Paul took the pain of his losses and “wrote some blues.”

Tribulations are unavoidable, inevitable, and inescapable, but you can change how they affect your life with a right response. You can use your energy to pout, or you can use it to make great music. It's up to you.

Every day we face some kind of setback, some kind of disappointment -- and everyday we have the opportunity to invest our energy in something more productive than anger, frustration, resentment, or self-pity. Our challenge each day is to put those reactions aside and focus on every opportunity to make music.

With Love,
Mike

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