Monday, July 18, 2016

My Money Says Trust God

I was stewing over a financial concern recently, when a sales clerk recently handed me a dollar in change. I happened to notice the little inspiring message on the back: “In God We Trust.” It's exactly what I needed to remember!

Do you realize your money is a statement of faith? There it is in plain sight -- stamped on George Washington's backside --  this inspiring declaration --  in God we trust! 

Using money is like passing out little gospel pamphlets:

In God We Trust!
In God We Trust!
In God We Trust!
Your wallet’s full of ‘em!

Even atheists don't refuse them.

Buy a Big Mac at McDonald's or a Dilly Bar at Dairy Queen, and you’re telling the clerk to trust the Lord!

How ironic! We have such a hard time trusting God with our money, when all along our money is telling us that’s exactly what we should do!

It is far better to trust in God than in possessions. Jesus said you cannot serve both God and mammon. If we look to money for security, significance and survival, we will be sadly disappointed.  We get far too uptight over little pieces of green paper with pictures of dead presidents on them.

Money doesn't buy happiness.  The most precious things in life are free.

If we don’t have enough money, we’re afraid we won’t survive. That’s simply not true. We will survive somehow – regardless of our financial situation. I don’t know anybody who stopped surviving due to a lack of cash.

In the poorest places I’ve been in my life (Nicaragua, Egypt and Ethiopia ) people still figure out a way to survive. So, it proves to me that, in the big picture, financial troubles won't do us in.

We may need to cut back a little – but we’re going to survive just fine!   With some adjustments, we’ll make it!
My father had a sign hanging in his office: “The Lord Never Panics.” We should take our money at face value and trust in God! If we do so, we won’t cave in to panic.

Instead of tossing and turning in bed, give your problems to God. He will be up all night anyway!

Friday, July 08, 2016

Prayer for a Wounded Land

Dear Lord,

The brutal events which unfolded across our nation in recent days reveal how torn and divided we are.  The soul of America is desperately wounded and needs healing that can come only from your hand.

We pray for the families of those who were slain so senselessly this week:  Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in Minneapolis, and the five police officers, (Loren Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa.) -- That you would grant them comfort in this dark hour, and strength to face the painful days that lie ahead.

We remember those who were wounded in Dallas, and those who witnessed the violence in Louisiana and Minnesota firsthand. We remember the children who are being raised in communities where gun violence is commonplace. Please overshadow them with your presence and keep them safe.

We pray for those who serve in law enforcement, as they place themselves daily at risk to serve and protect the vulnerable.  Please grant them discernment and understanding for these perplexing situations.  Help them to always cherish life, and to value all people as equals, created in God's image.

We pray for our African American brothers and sisters, as, once again, they suffer violence from the very hands of those who are called to protect them.  May men and women of peace in the African American community arise to provide strong, non-violent leadership.  May they find a pathway to healthy partnership with law enforcement for safe communities and equality for all, rather than viewing them as an army of occupation.

Help us all to remember and apply these words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:  “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

Heal our hearts, O Lord.  Heal our land.  Help us to reach out across the divide, that we may learn to understand and embrace each other.

For Christ’s Sake and in His Name,

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Have We Prayed Yet?

The other day,as we sat at the dinner table, I asked, "Have we prayed yet?"

Saying a quick blessing over food does not necessarily constitute a prayer from the heart.. Prayer is profoundly sacred space,. A meaningful conversation with Almighty God, the Great Creator of the Universe -- the Group of all Being and Essence of Everything, is certainly something to remember. If we can't recall whether or not we've had such a conversation, then we probably haven't prayed yet.

There's a significant difference between really praying and mumbling a few words with your eyes closed.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Storms Are the Triumph of His Art

"Away Despair! My gracious Lord doth hear:
 Though winds and waves assault my keel,
 He doth preserve it, He doth steer,
 Ev'n when the boat seems to reel:
 Storms are the triumph of His art:
 Well may he close his eyes, but not his heart."
 --  George Herbert

Monday, July 04, 2016

The Secret of Getting Along

Some people have a hard time getting along with others.  Wherever they go, they leave a trail of broken relationships, disappointments, and a heap of former friends.

An individual can be highly intelligent, a hard worker, willing to go the extra mile, committed to excellence -- and still fail because of relational problems.

I've often wondered why so many people sabotage themselves.  Is it just the way they're wired?  If so, is it possible to change?  

Yes, we're all wired differently -- and some are easier to get along with than others.  However, applying a few relationship rules can help you get along with almost anybody.

1.  Focus on the positive.  You will find plenty of flaws in everyone if you look for them.  Instead, go mining for the positive, and you will find that too!

2.  Never go fishing with a crab-apple for bait.  If you want people to be friendly to you, be friendly to them first.  Don't wait for the other person to give the first cue.  They might be as insecure as you.  

3.  If you want positive friends, determine to be a positive person.  If you're a grouch, the only people who will want to hang around you are other grouches.

4.  Don't impute motives.  It's so easy to jump to conclusions  -- "He did that because he dislikes me."  Choosing to believe the other person has good intentions lessens the friction in relationships.

5.  Be willing to forgive.  Refuse to let frustrations and annoyances stockpile into a mountain of resentment.  It's best to deal with it right away and then move on.

6.  Believe in others.  Every person you meet is a work of art - a masterpiece -- created in God's image.  This truth should inform how we view and treat those around us.

7.  Follow the Golden Rule:  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

8.  Be genuinely interested in others.  Focus on them instead of yourselves.  An inward focus always leads to unhappiness.

9.  Determine that you will be an encourager and positive influence on each person you meet.

10.  Remember, some people bring joy wherever they go -- and others bring joy WHEN they go.  Be a member of the first group.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Courage to Endure

Recent tragedies in our world have set me to thinking about the courage to endure.

"When Dad died," the young lady remarked, "Mom allowed herself to die along with him. Her body was still alive, of course, but her spirit seemed to shrivel up and disappear." How sad it is when people give up on living before life is really over. 

We have a birth date and someday we will have a death date. It is up to us to make the very most of all the dates in between. 

Sometimes, going on is the hardest thing to do. It would be much easier to give up and quit trying. Cloistered in an emotional shell, life doesn't hurt so much -- but there's no joy in existing that way. 

John F. Kennedy said, "There is, in addition to a courage with which men die, a courage by which men must live." In difficult times, we must possess the courage to live. No matter what happens, we can make the best of it.

Annie Dillard, in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, remarked, "Our bodies are shot with mortality -- our legs are fear and our arms are time. That is why physical courage is so important. It fills, as it were, the holes." 

Courage is not the absence of fear. Someone has said, "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." "When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Psalm 56:3 

One person with courage can make a tremendous difference. 

During the war of 1812, Andrew Jackson observed, "One man with courage makes a majority." Or as Captain McNelly of the Texas Rangers noted, "Courage is a man who keeps on -- coming on! "Yes, you can slow a man like that, but you can't stop him. The man who keeps coming on, is either going to get there himself, or he is going to make it possible for others to get there." 

Stand strong! 
Stand steady!
Be of good cheer! 

With courage, you're like a kite. The stronger the winds blow, the higher you go!

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."