“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
This maxim has certainly been true in Dallas, where our temperatures this week were thirty degrees below normal. And in the Southern Plains, where Winter Storm Billy (I didn’t know we are now naming storms) has brought snow and ice into New Mexico and parts of Oklahoma and Texas.
It has been especially true on the US Gulf Coast, where Louisiana has already been hit by two hurricanes and two tropical storms this year. Then Hurricane Zeta made landfall in southeastern Louisiana yesterday afternoon before passing over New Orleans. Two deaths so far are blamed on the Category 2 storm, which is causing massive power outages in Georgia this morning.
In fact, the maxim feels metaphorically true to more of life than I can remember. Apart from voting and praying, there is little else I can do to determine the outcome of next Tuesday’s election (and America’s reaction to the outcome). Apart from praying and taking measures to be safe, there is little I can do to stop the coronavirus pandemic. Apart from interceding and working hard to be productive, there is little I can do to restore the nation’s economy.
In this context, I saw a story this week that surprised and inspired me.
A TV star goes back to school
Curt Menefee is known to football fans as host of the most-watched NFL morning pregame show in America. However, at the age of fifty-five, he is also a first-year graduate student at Northwestern University, with plans to receive a master’s in Public Policy and Administration in two years.
Menefee has long been interested in local and national issues. He began college as a political science major before changing to history and American studies. He says he has been to ninety-two countries and seven continents to educate himself about the world.
Then came George Floyd’s tragic death and other events of the summer, which spurred him to do what he can to make a greater difference.
Menefee notes that his years working in sports broadcasting have helped develop professional relationships with elected officials and people in federal, state, and local governments. He hopes to use these relationships to forge a better life and future for others.
Here’s the part of the story that especially interested me. Menefee said, “When you use your platforms, all you’re doing is asking someone else to make a change. Even protest in the streets, all you’re doing is saying, hey, someone else do something. In order to make a change, you need to be part of the policymaking aspect of it.” This is why he has gone back to school—so he can be part of the process of making a greater difference in the world.
From outer space to the Colorado Territory
On this day in 1998, John Glenn returned to space at the age of seventy-seven. Thirty-six years earlier, he orbited the Earth and was given a ticker-tape parade in New York City. He then served four terms in the US Senate before going back into space as part of a NASA study on health problems associated with aging.
On this day in 1929, the Stock Market crashed on what is now known as Black Tuesday. On this day in 1858, the first store opened in the Colorado Territory in a small frontier town that later became known as Denver. The market eventually recovered from the Great Depression; Denver became one of our nation’s great cities.
Responding to frustrations over media coverage of the Hunter Biden emails and fears of escalating censorship, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat notes that “power lies in many places in America, but it lies deeply, maybe ineradicably for the time being, in culture-shaping and opinion-forming institutions that conservatives have little hope of bringing under their control.” In light of repression faced by conservative students in many of America’s colleges and universities, an article in the Federalist laments that “free speech on campus barely exists.”
However, it is always too soon to give up on God. Or on his ability to change our hearts. Or on our ability to change our culture as a result.
“The TikTok Generation of Televangelists”
As we face an uncertain future, God assures us: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). How can we answer this call to courageous engagement with our fallen culture?
Christianity Today reports on “the TikTok Generation of Televangelists,” young influencers who “want to #MakeJesusViral” through short videos. At the other end of the age spectrum, eighty thousand Southern Baptists, most of them older adults, have been trained in disaster relief. Since January 2019, they have responded to 136 disasters across the country. One said, “I just serve the Lord and here I am.”
God’s word is clear: “Through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). He calls us to do what we can and to trust him to do what we cannot.
Max Lucado observed, “From heaven’s viewpoint our earth is populated by sightless people. They do not see the meaning of life or the love of God. How else do we explain the confusion and chaos? How else do we explain the constant threat of world war, plagues of hunger, racism, and the holocaust of the unborn?
“Billions of people simply cannot see. The Scripture says, ‘The devil who rules this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe. They cannot see the light of the Good News—the Good News about the glory of Christ, who is exactly like God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4 NCV).
“We need a spiritual ophthalmologist. We need Jesus to do for us what he did for the man on the side of the Jerusalem road. He restored his sight, and he will do the same for us.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky stated: “To love someone means to see him as God intended him.”
Will you “love someone” today?
NOTE: If you’d like to delve deeper into how to be a civil person in an uncivil time, we’ve recently released a free discussion guide for my book, Respectfully, I Disagree. Its questions are intended for use in a small group, but they may prove helpful for individual study as well. Download this free discussion guide today.