Saturday, January 26, 2008

Don't Argue - Just Flip a Coin

Don’t argue about it.  Just flip a coin.

This is not a good way to solve every disagreement.  But it works wonders when both sides are basically even. 

Sometimes fighting to win costs more than losing.  The argument does more damage than the victory is worth. 

If that’s true, then why do people keep arguing?  Sometimes it is just to save face.  No one wants to back down or be defeated, so they keep fighting.

That’s where the coin toss comes in.  The decision is made, the argument is over, and life goes on, yet neither side was actually defeated.  It’s hard to take a coin toss personally.

The coin toss is a very civil way to settle disputes.  Many elections have been decided with a coin toss, which sure beats settling them with a shoot out.

Now you don’t decide your moral convictions with a coin toss.  You don’t choose right or wrong, good or evil with a coin toss.  Save your silver dollar for when both sides are equal.

Let’s say you want to go to the Football Hall of Fame on vacation, and she wants to go to an Oprah Winfrey Show.  Wait a minute.  That’s not even close to equal.

Well let’s say you want to go to Hawaii and she wants to go to Cancun.  You make your list of pro’s and con’s, but are still at an impasse.  You could argue until you’d rather go to Antarctica before you’d go on vacation with them – or you can flip a coin.

A key to the coin toss is that both parties agree to abide by its decision. 

Now kids, don’t try to flip a coin about whether to do your homework or not.  But if you want to flip a coin over whose turn it is to clear the table, fine.  Do it every night if you want.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers…”  One simple way to keep the peace is to flip a coin.

Proverbs 18:18 says, “Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart.” 

Imagine a tied football game.  They go into sudden death overtime, and the most important decision of the day will be – who gets the ball?  How do they make this crucial decision?  A coin toss.

In Acts chapter one the disciples needed a man to replace Judas.  They had two great candidates, Joseph and Matthias.  They prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart.  Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry…”  Then they cast lots.

That seems like an odd way to decide such an important matter.  But don’t forget, they had already done the hard work of narrowing their decision down to just Joseph and Matthias.  But then they were stuck.  Both men were equally qualified.  Now what? 

Now just pray and flip a coin!

“Wait a minute, Doug.  That’s more gambling than godly.”

Then what do you make of Proverbs 16:33?  It says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

I think there is a little more God in this topic than meets the eye. 

Look what else we find in Proverbs 16.  Here is a powerful statement in verse 3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

I think if you come down to a decision between two good equals, then it is Biblical to pray, commit your plans to the Lord, then commit it to chance by casting lots or drawing straws or flipping a coin.  Of course when the Lord’s involved, it’s not really “chance” is it?

Proverbs 16:4 says, “The Lord works out everything for his own ends…”

Verse 9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

God’s hand is usually unseen, but it is moving to carry out God’s will.  And I have no reason to doubt that God moves through coin tosses.

So the next time you’re in this situation, stop fighting and start flipping.  Flip a coin and trust that God will work it all out.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Your Mic Is Open

Tonight’s the big night.  Our church’s music team is making a live recording CD and DVD.  Everyone is excited, and we are expecting a full house.  Last night was the last practice, a time to tie up the loose ends, and to make sure all of the technology is going to do what it’s told. 

I’m not a singer.  I’m not in the band.  I’m one of the behind-the-scenes techno geeks.  So there we were, tucked away in our private little sky box for the video team.  And something wasn’t working right, and somebody had to be blamed.

A name is dropped.  “Somebody” gets dissed.  Then someone remembers - there is an open mic from the video booth back to the media room.  Oops.  Now they imagine that certain “somebody” back there listening, so they start speaking directly to them, telling them to get up there and fix it.  It was all rather lighthearted and harmless. 

But one of the leaders said, “We need to watch what we say.  Remember, there is always an open mic up here.”  And since I can never quite turn off the teacher within, I said, “You know, with God, there is always an open mic.”

That’ll preach.

I think we’ve all been there.  You’re saying something less than flattering about someone, and suddenly, there they are.  Oops.  And we’ve all been on the receiving end, overhearing a conversation about ourselves that was shocking and disappointing.

Just imagine that open mic.  It will help you watch your words. 

Jesus said that one day we will give an account for every idle word.

When I was a kid, I watched a lot of television.  I told my daughter the other day that back then certain things popped up in TV plots all the time, but you never hear about them anymore.  Back then people were always getting amnesia, or messing around with voodoo, or falling into quicksand.  And in the Westerns, what was it that might explode at the smallest nudge?  Nitro glycerin!

What I learned from TV about nitro glycerin is that you have to be very careful, or at the slightest bump it might blow up.  Yes, by the time I was seven I knew how to handle “nitro.” 

Well, our tongue is sort of like nitro.  It could go off at any moment. 

But the tongue can also do great things.  It is the rudder of your ship.  Whichever way you steer your tongue, that’s the direction your life will go.

We all need to work on this, speak more uplifting, positive words, building up those around us, “imparting grace to the hearer.” 

Remember, we always reap what we sow when it comes to the words we speak, so be careful – your mic is open.