Monday, June 20, 2016

How to Find a Better Life

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, an acclaimed plastic surgeon once wrote a best selling book, New Faces, New Futures, describing the tremendous changes in individuals' lives after having plastic surgery.  He told many stories about "ugly ducklings" who were given a new life by receiving a new face.

Unfortunately, after the publication, Dr. Maltz discovered he had made some serious errors in his book.  A careful study of all his patients revealed that people were generally no more happy with life after a plastic surgery than before.    He found that a face lift did not automatically bring a better life.

So, Dr. Maxwell Maltz quite the plastic surgery business and devoted the rest of his life to helping people find inner beauty.  He discovered that true happiness comes from the inside.  It isn't obtained with a new face.

This is not a new concept.  The Bible has lots to say about inner joy and peace.  Building a better life is an inside job.

Many people miss this point.  A quick Google search for "Better Life" brought the following results:

"The Better Life Health Spa will take your problems away!"  
"Take our herbal vitamins daily for a better life!"  
"55 and retired --Now, that's the way to a better life!"  
"SWF, 29-45 seeking relationship with SM, 29-45, I want to give you a better life!"   From a rock group -- "A better life means more noise!" 
Finally, my favorite:  "For a better life -- try cheese!"  (Wow!  What a breakthrough!  When life unravels, all I need to do is run the refrigerator.)

Actually, the only way to a better life is to become a better person -- and the only way to do that is to let the Perfect Person (Jesus) direct it.

He can transform you into a better person --with better thoughts, attitudes, and actions.  It's an inside job.  He, alone, can bring the better life." 

Saturday, June 04, 2016

What's More Important?

 Your place is not as important as your perspective.
 Your position is not as important as your disposition.
 Your standing is not as important as your understanding.
 Your reputation is not as important as your character.
 Your challenges are not as important as your gumption.
 Your career is not as important as your family.
 Your difficulties are not as important as your determination.
 Your money is not as important as your peace of mind.
 Your gratification is not as important as your ultimate satisfaction.
 Your outer looks are not as important as your inner beauty.
 Your impressiveness is not as important as your honesty.
 Your success is not as important as your integrity.
 Your conditions are not as important as your choices.
 Your grades are not as important as your education.
 Your pet peeves are not as important as your kindness.
 Your preferences are not as important as your respect.
 Your coolness is not as important as your authenticity.
 Your fear is not as important as your courage.
 Your circumstance is not as important as your reaction.
 Your self-interest is not as important as your love.
 Your life on earth is not as important as your eternal soul.
 Your beginning is not as important as your ending.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Homemade Happiness

Here are a dozen ways to have a happier home life:

 1. Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire, or someone is hard of hearing.

 2. Use the 7:1 ratio -- It takes seven positives to counteract the force of one negative -- It could even be more like 10:1. Make sure you speak at least seven affirmations and encouragements for every criticism.

 3. Make up your mind not to allow petty annoyances to become barriers.  Always ask, "Is it worth it" before you react.

 4. Accept those in your home for who they are, and not what you assume they should be.

 5. Determine to brighten up your home whenever you walk in the door.  Some people bring joy wherever they go -- and others bring joy when they go!

 6. Express your appreciation and love often. "Please" and "Thank you" are more precious than gold.

 7. Hug a lot. Meaningful touch provides a sense of security and belonging (If course, if someone doesn't want to be hugged, it's best to be sensitive and resort back to #4)

 8. Be honest and keep your promises.

 9. Delete whining, complaining and negative criticism from your daily vocabulary. If you must say something negative, then refer to #2 (7:1 ratio.) Praise is the language of heaven.

 10. Be kind and live by the Golden Rule: "Do to others as you would have them do to you."

 11. Don't allow too much time to go by before you resolve conflicts. Of course, we all have negative emotions and reactions -- but it's best to keep short accounts with those we love.

 12. Focus on what you can do for others instead of what others should be doing for you.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Someone is Praying for Me

When the sad news of Shirley's unexpected death arrived, I immediately called her husband Dannie.  Before their move to Missouri a couple of years prior, Dannie and Shirley were pillars of our church, and we missed them dearly.  Now, Shirley was gone.

" I'm so sorry to hear about Shirley."

Dannie was glad to hear from me.

I continued, "All of your friends up here in the Northwoods are praying for you."

"I can tell," he replied, "I've been amazed at the peace and strength I've felt all the way through this terrible ordeal. It has been just unbelievable. How could I possibly have such peace at a time like this? Then I thought, 'I know why! Someone is praying for me.'"

Dannie continued, "You know, Pastor Mark, light travels at 186,282.397 miles per second. But I've discovered something that travels even faster than that -- the prayers of God's people!"

"Losing Shirley is the hardest thing I've ever experienced, but with good Lord's help, I'm going to make it. Actually, when you think about it, I didn't really lose her, because I know right where she is. She's rejoicing in heaven. Someday, I'll get to see her again."

Tears filled my eyes as we finished this amazing conversation. How ironic;  I had called to encourage Dannie, but this dear man turned it around and encouraged me.

Three "take-home" points from this conversation:

1) Faith in God brings peace in the face of life's most bitter circumstances.
2) Praying is the most important thing you can do. It covers the distance and expresses our deepest love.
3) Since this is the case, I encourage you to stop right now, and whisper a prayer for somebody.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

You Can't Do Everything

You can't do everything
 You can't have everything
 You can't know everything
 You can't fix everything
 You can't change everything.
 You can't be everything

 But. . .

You can do something
 You can have something
 You can know something
 You can fix something
 You can change something
 You can be something

 So. . .

 Do what you can
 Have what you can
 Know what you can
 Fix what you can
 Change what you can
 Be what you can. . .

 Without complaining or comparing. . .then leave the rest to God.

Prayer Lays the Track

"Our prayers lay the track down which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails." -- Watchman Nee

Monday, May 23, 2016

His Bite is Worse Than His Bark

A man was bitten by a rabid dog and ended up in bed seriously ill.  He mustered up enough strength to request a pen and a pad of paper.  Then, he began to write furiously -- page after page.  "Honey, are you writing your last will and testament?" his wife asked.  "No," he replied, "I'm making a list of people I'm going to bite!"

 "His bark is worse than his bite" has been said both of dogs and grumps.  Unfortunately, there are some people who can pack a pretty vicious bite.

 Perhaps, you have been "bitten" by someone.  Maybe you felt the sting of gossip or the barbs of unjust criticism.  Such encounters leave us wounded and in need of emotional first aid.

 How do you handle "attack dog people"  -- the ones who snarl and snap at you, and will take a hunk out of your behind if you turn your back?

 1.  Remember, hurting people hurt people.  When they lash out, it reveals their deep inner pain.  It is almost as if they are announcing their pain to the world.  "I'm hurting right now, and so you need to hurt right along with me!"

 2.  Receive the kernel of truth.  Most criticisms contain at least a sliver of truth.  Think of criticisms as walnuts.  You don't need to swallow the hole nut.  Just find the helpful kernel.

 3.  Refuse to quarrel.  Nobody wins an argument, and if somebody jumps in the mud, you can't clean them up by jumping in the mud with them. In situations like that it is best to hold your tongue.  You won't regret the angry words you didn't say.

 4.  Refuel your emotional tank.  An encounter with a negative, critical person can poke a hole in your tank, leaving you spent and exhausted.  Be sure to take the time to replenish the depleted supply. Whatever it is that fills your tank -- do it!  I have found prayer to be the greatest tank filler available for the human heart.

 5.  Remain positive.  Keep doing the right thing, even if someone is taking pot shots at you.   As Teddy Roosevelt said,  “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."

 6.  Reach out.  Our wounds come through relationship, and they are healed through relationship.  Those who strive for peace and understanding generally find them,.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Ministerial Association

Three pastors, attending their monthly ministerial association meeting,  shared what was happening in their congregations.

"Things are starting to look up for us," said the Baptist preacher, "we gained three new members last month."

"We did better than that!" said the Methodist, "I think revival may be coming! We gained six new people last month!"

"Well, we did even better than that!" exclaimed the Presbyterian, "Revival has come! We lost nine of our biggest troublemakers!"