If we’d all do this, it’d be like Heaven on earth.

This past week I returned to Kentucky to assist in the funeral for a dear friend and active duty Army chaplain who’d died the previous week of a massive heart attack. Even though he’d just turned 50-years-old four days before his death and had passed his Army physical a few weeks earlier, in the blink of an eye he was gone.

How thankful I am that I had the opportunity to have served as his pastor back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He was only 11-years-old when they joined our small, country church, but it didn’t take long to realize God’s Hand was upon his life. And, after he joined my wife and some others for a mission trip to inner-city Detroit, it became apparent that God had big plans for Brian’s life.

Thus, I wasn’t surprised years later to learn that he’d surrendered to preach and gone to college and seminary to prepare for the ministry. Some years later I even went back to preach a revival at his church in Kentucky. Then, a few years after that he was commissioned as an Army chaplain. Last year I even flew to Fort Knox, Ky. to surprise him when he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

So, needless to say, I was shocked and saddened on May 25, when I received word of his sudden death. To me, it seemed he was gone too young and too quickly. But, such is the nature of life here on earth and the reason we should “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16) by investing in things eternal, not temporal.

While back in Kentucky, a longtime friend and deacon in that church of my first pastorate and I went out to visit some who were sick. As we drove around those backroads I used to travel, I couldn’t believe the changes. Fields that used to be rolling farmland are now subdivisions filled with hundreds of houses. Industrial warehouses also fill the landscape in various places, making it difficult to recognize them now.

So, I found myself being a bit nostalgic as we drove around, remembering “the good, ‘ole days.” I’d recognize familiar places, but then realize this person and that were gone. Like Brian, they’d “gone the way of all flesh” — leaving us with nothing but memories.

I guess that’s why I find it hard to cope sometimes with all that’s happening in our society: all of the division, the rancor, civil unrest, loss of traditional values, etc. In some ways I feel like a man without a home, i.e., one who doesn’t fit in anymore.

And, in reality, I don’t. It’s definitely not the same world I grew up in when you could sit on the front porch on Sunday afternoon sipping iced tea. No longer can you leave your keys in your car or the backdoor unlocked at night.

Yes, as someone said, “These times is a-changin’ — and not for the better.”

Can I get an “Amen?”

But, rather than despairing, I choose (as someone else said) to “light a candle rather than curse the darkness.”

What does that mean?

Simply this: anyone can sit around constantly criticizing others, blaming the system, lambasting the sad state-of-affairs, etc. But, much better is doing what we can to change things, even if it’s only a little bit here-and-there.

Look at it this way: if each one of us, in our small sphere of influence, will live by the “Three C’s” — Courage, Civility and Compassion — we can make a difference. Instead of contributing to an already toxic atmosphere by negative remarks, tweets or postings in social media, we can try to look for the good and emphasize that. Likewise, if we’ll have the courage to do right because it’s the right thing to do, then we’ll have no regrets. And, hopefully, it’ll encourage others to do the same.

Even more, if we’ll show compassion towards others, instead of always reacting violently to insults or injustices, maybe, just maybe, we can help make the world a little better. It’ll be like smelling a rose in the midst of stench or lighting a fragrant candle where foul odors are everywhere.

So, be courageous, dear Reader, even when it’s not popular. Act civil toward others, even when you’ve been hurt. And, show compassion — even to those who don’t deserve it. That almost sounds like the Golden Rule, doesn’t it? God bless you.

NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com.