The educator Bill Cosby was in Tulsa last week. Better known for his comedy, Dr. Cosby (he has a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst) spent the day speaking to students at Booker T. Washington High School, business and community leaders at a rotary club, and to the urban religious community. He was very serious in a naturally funny way.
I remember memorizing and performing his famous Noah’s Conversation with God routine as a teenager. It probably gave me some of the confidence needed to speak before a room full of people. It is a lot harder to write your own material. Cosby has had a significant and ground breaking career as a performer. While listening to him in person it struck me that he passionately wanted to make the rest of his life count. He is heart-broken at the state of family life in America today.
His topic at the clergy session was fatherhood and the role of spiritual leaders. Speaking at times like a Cliff Huxtable, Cosby admonished us that the failure of educational leadership in the home, especially the absence of fathers, is destroying the lives of thousands of children year after year. Sexual promiscuity, early pregnancies, drugs and the gang/prison culture devalue human life, self-respect, and the educational process. “It costs $8,000 to $10,000 to educate a child per year. It costs about $41,000 per prisoner per year.” He said that it was time for churches to equip neighborhood families and take personal responsibility in the well-being of young people. He also stated that he did not want to come back to Tulsa one day and discover that nothing had changed for the good. He meant it.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Let’s step up. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
Actor Michael J. Fox’s latest book is called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned. (All new books out today seem to have titles that long.) The cover photograph is of an upside down skateboard and the feet of someone flat on his back lying just outside the picture. It’s an image gleaned from the first “Back to the Future” movie. Michael J. Fox’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease at the height of his career changed his dreams of the future forever. His book reminds us that our plans and dreams for ourselves can be instantly changed forever either by accident, circumstances, choices, illness or neglect; that we must step up and engage in living fully today; and that happiness is a personal choice of our own making. One person’s suffering can be another person’s challenge to live. Are you prepared to live a different dream, a different future?
This all reminded me of the old sermon illustration called “Ten Lessons from Noah:”
1: Don’t miss the boat.
2: Remember that we are all in the same boat!
3: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
4: Stay fit, then when you’re older you can do something really big.
5: Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
6: Build your future on high ground.
7: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
8: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails and the cheetahs were both on board.
9: When you’re stressed, float awhile.
10: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs who were committed and willing to learn; the Titanic by professionals who thought they already knew it all. (Unknown Author)
The challenge for us is to really live with, through and because of the One who suffers with, through and because of us.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Don’t miss the boat! And let’s experience the love and power of God together.