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“Hey, I dig that shirt!” “Cool bike!” “Nice shoes!” “I like your glasses!” “That’s a cool sweatshirt!” “Love your school spirit!” “I like your hustle!” “Very nice purse! It’s very large!”

Those are the types of exclamations that you would likely hear enthusiastically offered by Brett Westcott and Cameron Brown if you walked past Wetherhill Lab of Chemistry on the campus of Purdue University on Wednesday afternoons between 12:30 and 2:00 p.m. That’s where the civil engineering major and the management major, respectively, began stationing themselves last Fall for a weekly appointment to shower passersby with words of affirmation and encouragement. They were quickly dubbed The Compliment Guys. Though there were some early skeptics who sought to attribute ulterior motives to their actions (picking up girls, a fraternity initiation ritual, a sociology project, etc.) most people came to accept Westcott and Brown for what they proposed to be: just two guys who wanted to interject some positive vibes and good feelings into a world dominated by bad news, a national economy in the doldrums, and campus life filled with test anxiety, research pressures, social complexities, tuition, and fees. It worked. People started rerouting their trips across campus to have a smile put on their face and a little pep put in their step. Word about The Compliment Guys quickly spread beyond West Lafayette, Indiana, and Westcott and Brown did the circuit of nationally televised morning news programs, appeared with Oprah, and are concluding a tour of major U.S. cities. All of this resulted from two undergrads with a simple agenda: take some time every week to spread a little sunshine.

It’s not a bad mantra to follow. I’m not suggesting that we all become Pollyannas, ignore the harsh realities of this world, or refrain from having the “hard conversations” that life sometimes demands. But, could we lighten up on the negativity just a little, or, better yet, a whole lot? We rag on everyone from the President to the pizza delivery guy, church leaders to checkout clerks. We celebrate sarcasm and have elevated insult to an art form. Doesn’t Scripture teach us better than that?

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear,” (Ephesians 4:29).

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person,” (Colossians 4:6).

I wish that more Christians were known as The Compliment Guys rather than be noted for our judgments, critiques, and condemnations.

Nice laptop! Excellent speed on the keyboard! Is that an iPhone? Cool! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog! Have a great day! Jesus loves you! Seriously!

P.S. Check out The Compliment Guys at

Back in 1986, I had an opportunity to visit a nature preserve on the east coast of Australia near the city of Bundaberg. This stretch of protected beaches served as a favorite nesting area for sea turtles. When nesting time arrives, female sea turtles pull themselves onto the beach, safely out of the reach of crashing waves. They use their flippers to dig a sizeable hole into which they lay 150-250 eggs, then cover their clutch with a heavy, sandy blanket. After a couple of months of incubation, the young turtles tear through the membrane of their shells and struggle their way to the surface of the sand. Once on the beach, they instinctively head for the ocean. Researchers have discovered that it is not the sound of the surf or the smell of the salty spray that lures the little turtles into the sea. Rather, they have an innate drive that directs them to the distant horizon. Even at night, they can distinguish the barely visible line between the lighter sky and the darker ocean. God has given them a divinely-implanted GPS to lead them to their home.

Occasionally, a careless sea turtle will dig her nest beyond the crest of a dune. The sad result is that the hatchlings will totally ignore the roar of the ocean behind them and begin scampering toward the inland horizon, away from the protection and provisions of the life-giving water. Armed with flashlights that night on the Queensland coast, my friends and I assisted park rangers in looking for poorly placed nests. We picked up hatchlings that were headed for certain doom, carried them back to the sea-side of the dunes, gently placed them on the sand, then watched in amazement and amusement as these darling little turtles waddled their way into the waves.

God created us to be in fellowship and relationship with Him. He “set eternity in our hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) so that we might look to the Horizon beyond this world of danger, despair, and death. Yet, our view of Home is frequently obscured by the dunes of this world that place idols before our eyes and fan the flames of sinful desires within our hearts. Ignoring His will, we have sought our own, foolishly setting a course that will only bring us harm and destruction. Rather than just leaving us to the consequences of our own devices and decisions, our Father graciously and mercifully sent His Son to seek out the misdirected, the wayward, and the lost. If we allow Him, Jesus will gently turn our hearts toward Home and lovingly lead us to the river of the water of Life.

My great-great-great-grandfather, Levi Garrison Pyle (an “s” was added to the family name in the following generation), signed his Last Will and Testament on March 20, 1851, in the Ebenezer community of Marshall County, Tennessee. He directed that his “much beloved wife” Stacy receive his farm of 163 acres, along with “my sorrel mare, one cow and calf, one wash pot, two beds, and one woman’s saddle.” Remaining property was to be sold and the proceeds used to pay off debts. Levi’s will also stipulated that if Stacy remarried, the land was to be sold and the proceeds equally divided between her and their children. Within the next month, Levi was dead, the will was probated, and an estate sale was held on April 19, 1851. That was over 150 years ago. I don’t know of anything that remains of Levi’s estate. The mare, cow, and calf would have only lived for a few years. The house has long been gone. Who knows what happened to the wash pot, beds, and saddle? The land has changed hands several times since then and is now owned (along with a total of 2,000 surrounding acres) by a media magnate from Maryland. Such is the nature of earthly possessions and inheritance.

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, he proclaimed a new message, “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). His teaching revealed God’s plan and designs for a new covenant, a new testament, a new “will” of God, not just for the physical descendants of Abraham, but for all nations, tribes and tongues. Just as with an earthly will, these new divine directives from Jesus would only have full binding force and authority upon His death (Hebrews 9:16-17). With His “blood of the covenant” that we memorialize each Lord’s Day, Jesus made available “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” which is reserved in heaven for us (I Peter 1:4). The few family heirlooms that I possess and value will one day fade away just like every other physical treasure upon this earth, but through Jesus I have the assurance of a heavenly inheritance “where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-21). “Lord, help my heart to dwell where my true treasure is!”

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July 2009