The Three R’s

The Three R’s (1,138)

May 6th, 2011

Readin’, witin’, ‘rithmatic—dubbed the “three R’s”—although spelling has obviously been ignored.

As I finished up my show last night with the absolutely delightful folks from Bethlehem UMC in Hutchinson, Minnesota, I realized there are also three R’s that entice us to excellence and three R’s that vex us into perplexity. It depends on what we do with information universally provided to us all. Candidly, no one gets more blessing or cursing than anyone else. As Jesus said so well, “It rains on the just and the unjust.” Somewhere in there, you and I find coverage. So it becomes an issue of perception which determines our action.

Somebody asked me the other day if people in Texas were different from people in Minnesota. Not by circumstance or faith potential—but sometimes the uniqueness of a region is manifested by how the individuals living there have been taught to perceive the surroundings of their own journey.

I looked into the faces of my brothers and sisters last night and realized that all of us have the same choices and depending on what we select, we either begin to inhabit a place of joy or one of lamentation.

Information arrives. At that point we either receive it or we reject it. Two very different R’s—receive or reject. I suppose a case could be made that if we receive everything that happens in our lives, we just become wishy-washy, compromising holiness in favor of convenience. But I must warn you that the danger of becoming a rejecter is that it is much easier for the human spirit to become negative than it is to maintain a positive twist. So once you start rejecting what you consider to be bad stuff, your list of bad stuff just grows. Call me Pollyanna or call me a flip-flopper—whatever you want—but I tend to receive things as “good” until it’s obvious that they have played out as “bad.” What have I got to lose? Oh, I might occasionally look foolish—but my fear of rejecting something that God has blessed is much stronger than my trepidation over looking a little goofy.

So after we receive, we have a chance to repent. The trouble with rejecting is that it forces us into a situation where we tend to retreat back into our common, everyday ways. If that was working for us, why did God send the input in the first place? If we already have everything we need, I guess the sentiment is to just retire. I see people in their twenties retiring into a cocoon of self-absorption based upon a few little notions that they hold dear. Not me. After I receive I want to repent. And by repentance I don’t mean falling down at an altar and squalling about how bad I am. I mean “repent” in the sense of trying to melt down the bulk of the information provided to me into truths that will make me free.

Can I learn from everything? The Apostle Paul said he was “debtor to barbarian and to Greek.” What a powerful statement! And I admit I have learned a lot from people other folks would consider to be barbarians. “Repent” means to move towards what works better—and to do it with jubilance. Wouldn’t we be a better nation if we became receptive and repentant? This is what II Chronicles says we need to do—“humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways” if we expect our land to be healed. Wow. That means I have to stop rejecting information that comes my way and retreating back into my own understanding, but instead, receive and repent.

So—if we get this far in the process—when we’ve received the knowledge provided and we’ve repented, adding into our lives those things worthy of praise, then the final R is to regain. We regain our energy. We regain our status. We regain our flexibility. We regain friendships with people we might have passed over due to the “different” style of their character—in short, we regain the favor of God and man. But if we reject and retreat, all we end up doing is living a life of “repeat.”

I hear people complaining that they’re bored as they purposely repeat the same actions, mannerisms and theology every single day, never questioning whether it is fulfilling, only continuing to take the identical action out of habit and well-rehearsed play-acting.

I love the folks I minister to every single night and I have only one goal: that is to see them stop the three R’s of reject, retreat and repeat and give the other three R’s of receive, repent and regain a healthy opportunity. Because like reading, writing and ’rithmetic, these three R’s come up every day.

And, if you don’t know how to work them real well you just might end up flunking out.

Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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