Thursday, July 31, 2008

Marking Impressions

In his 1930 essay, "Dialogue," Martin Buber distinguished between genuine dialogue and "monologue disguised as dialogue which he has characterized ... solely by the desire to have one's own self-reliance confirmed by marking the impression that is made."
Read the rest here at Tom Peters' blog.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jesus Cheetos

A lady from High Ridge, Missouri, found Jesus (on a cross) in a bag of Cheetos. Soon, the pilgims will be coming by tour bus.

This is not the first time Jesus showed up in a package of Cheetos. Last March a Houston youth pastor was surprised to find Jesus praying as he snacked in the church office.

And here's another: In New Mexico, a praising Jesus came out of the Cheeto bag to encourage Dorothy to lose weight. She has not eaten a Cheeto since.

Maybe we should erect the Shrine of Holy Cheetos. . . then, again. . .

Adios Ninos


At six his morning, our youth mission team departed for Matamoros, Mexico. My sons, Luke and Wes were among the 15 team members. This will be quite a new experience for them: an adventure of grace!

Happy Birthday Allegra


This is a big week for Adam and Allegra (our son and daughter in law.)
Today's Allegra's birthday! Happy Birthday Allegra!! We're blessed to have you as member of our family. We love you.
Also, this weekend, Adam and Allegra are moving into their new apartment near the University of Northern Iowa campus, where they will both be students this fall.
They found a great deal (with trade in) on a set of wheels --low mileage and good on gas. They will pick it up this afternoon.

Guardians of Solitude


A good marriage is that in which each appoints the other guardian of his solitude.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Yesterday's Posts

I wrote both of yesterday's posts last Friday.

The Bammo post was in preparation for Sunday's sermon. "Bammo" is going into my Positively Speaking column in the Sawyer County Record this week. Normally, I stay away from being "preachy" in the column -- as it serves a different purpose than my sermons on Sunday.

However, I felt compelled to share this message of God's Powerful Word with a wider audience and pray that when the good folks of Hayward receive their newspapers on Thursday, that they will understand what I'm trying to say and that hearts will be infused with faith.

As I wrote about "Getting Up on Summer Mornings", I was lamenting the thought that I'd have to get up around 5:30 a.m. on Monday, my day off.

It was for a fun cause, however -- Cathy and I led a group of 23 Bible Quizzers to Valleyfair Amusement Park in Shakopee, MN. We came back around midnight red and slow-moving.

Now, this morning, God woke me up at 5:30 a.m. to spend some sweet time with Him in conversation before the busy day began. I'm so glad!! I love mornings. Bammo!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer Mornings

Why is it harder to get up early on summer mornings?

BAMMO!!

When God speaks, things happen! That's the way it works. His Word is POWER!!

In Genesis 1, God says, "Let there be light. . ." and BAMMO. There was light.

In Genesis 2, God said, "It is not good for man to be alone" and BAMMO -- here comes Eve!

In Genesis 15:1, the WORD of the Lord came to Abraham (Abram) "Don't be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." BAMMO!! There was strength and security.

You see it over and over again in the Bible. God says it and its a fact. He literally speaks things into existence.

Quite interesting that in John 1, Jesus is called "The Word". Jesus shows up and BAMMO!! The Kingdom of Heaven is near!

Jesus declared, "Lazarus, come forth!" (John 11) and BAMMO!! His friend comes hopping out of the grave.

On the stormy Sea of Galilee, Jesus shouts to the raging waves, "Peace! Be Still!" and BAMMO!! All is calm and tranquil (Mark 4.)

No wonder, the Word of God is called the Sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17) BAMMO! Power for living!

No wonder the writer of Hebrews said "the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword ." (Heb. 4:12) BAMMO!!

Now, here's something that will blow your mind, regarding the promises in the Bible. God always keeps His Word. It becomes reality even as He declares it. This means every promise of Scripture packs the BAMMO!

"Peace I give to you. . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) BAMMO!

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will go with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) BAMMO!

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles." (Isa. 40:31) BAMMO!

"God is my refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble." (Psalm 46:1) BAMMO!

------

One final note: here's a word your will never hear God say: "OOPS!"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Special Delivery

Ship Me UPS

Unfolding


It is only a tiny rose bud, a flower of God's design;
But I cannot unfold the petals with these clumsy hands of mine.
The secret of unfolding flowers is not known to such as I.
God opens the petals so sweetly, in my hands they fade and die.
If I cannot unfold a rosebud, this flower of God's design,
Then how can I think I have the wisdom to unfold this life of mine?
The pathway that lies before me, only my Father knows.
I'll trust Him to unfold the moments, just as He unfolds the rose.
(Helen Steiner Rice)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Katie's Wedding

This afternoon, I performed the wedding ceremony for David Riemer and Katie McCracken.

I was Katie's soccer coach when she was only four years old. The kids ran helter skelter up and down the field, and I tried to keep up. Once, the soccer game came to a screeching halt, because one of the players found a toad a midfield. Forgetting the match, they all gathered in a circle (both teams) and marveled at the little creature.

And now, Katie is all grown up and married!! Mrs. Riemer!! It's still hard for me to figure out how she grew up so quickly.

One of the joyful rewards of a long pastorate is to share life's passages with families, and to watch the children grow up. I found myself with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes a few times during the ceremony.

Both Katie and David love God, and hold deep faith. They are both from good and godly families. There is a huge benefit for young people raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

In keeping with Katie's great sense of humor, they played this for the recessional.

Conflict

Christian life involves challenge and conflict whether we like it or not.
-- St. John Chrysostom (4th Century Syrian preacher and martyr)

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Passion for Souls


There is a secret fellowship with God where we get this heavenly fire kindled within, and it makes personal work for souls easy, natural, a relief, and a rest. To linger in God's presence until we see souls, as through His eyes, makes us long over them with a tireless longing.
This passion for souls is probably the highest product of spiritual communion with God. It absorbs us, and even our own salvation is forgotten in that passionate yearning which made Moses ready to have his name blotted out of God's book for Israel's sake, or Paul willing to be anathema for the sake of his brethren.
It seems to me that such passion is the highest form of unselfish love, and the nearest approximation to the divine motive that impelled the Lord Jesus Christ to empty himself of his orginal glory and majesty, and assume "the form of a servant," enduring even the cross.
No man can kindle in himself that celestial fire; it must come from the live coal from the altar above.
-- Dr. A. T. Pierson, evangelist, missionary statesman, founder of Student Volunteer Movement

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Good Time Was Had By All

We returned late last evening from our mini-vacation in Waterloo, Iowa.

It was great to connect with our son, Adam and his sweetheart, Allegra. They gave us a tour of University of Northern Iowa, where they will be enrolled this fall.

The kids enjoyed taking turns spending the night at their big brother's apartment.

Allegra was an excellent hostess and tour guide. While Adam worked, she showed us around. We visited a fascinating museum at the University and lunched at Panera Bread. The girls went to a matinee (Kit Kittredge) while the guys went next door and watched Wall-E

Later in the day, we met up with Cathy's mother, Madelyn, who drove in from Chicago. In the evening, we joined several members of Allegra's family (a party of 17 in total) at Steamboat Gardens and enjoyed tenderloin sandwiches for a buck. (Uncle Clarion, a good-hearted Iowa farmer picked up the tab.)

After dinner, we attended Sundown Serenade, an outdoor concert at Overman Park, performed by the Cedar Falls Orchestra (the oldest concert band in the state of Iowa.) By the way, they have the oldest tuba player in the nation. He's been huffing and puffing for over 60 years.

Homemade ice cream topped off the evening.

After bidding farewell the next morning, we returned home via St. Paul, Minnesota, where we stopped by the Science Museum, watched an Omnimax presentation on "Special Effects" and then visited the travelling Star Wars exhibit. It was fun to see the original costumes and models from the movies, and to do a little "hands on" science in the process.

Luke, Wes and I decided to have a "Star Wars Marathon" night pretty soon.

We took lots of pictures -- but I'm too busy to publish them on my blog at this point.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Visiting Loved Ones

This morning, we're headed to Iowa, to visit our oldest son Adam and his beautiful wife, Allegra for a couple of days. We're going to do some fun stuff together -- and the kids will take turns spending "overnighters" at Adam and Allegra's place.

Sweetie (Cathy's mom) plans to join us from Chicago on Tuesday.

Heading home Wednesday via the Star Wars Exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Roy Rogers' Riding Club Rules


1. Be neat and clean.
2. Be courteous and polite.
3. Always obey your parents.
4. Protect the weak and help them.
5. Be brave but never take chances.
6. Study hard and learn all you can.
7. Be kind to animals and take care of them.
8. Eat all your food and never waste any.
9. Love God and go to Sunday school regularly.
10. Always respect our flag and our country.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Problems for PK's

Phil Coughlin, author of No More Christian Nice Guy writes:

While offering individual instruction for the Christian Nice Guy problem throughout the United States and Canada, I’ve discovered a dangerous pattern: The group of men who ask for help the most are pastor’s sons.

Read the rest here: Hardest Hit: Pastor's Sons

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Good Enough

If you are willing to satisfy people with good enough, you can make just about everybody happy. If you delight people and create change that lasts, you’re going to offend those that hate change in all its forms. Your choice.
-- Seth Godin (via Tony Morgan)

Only In America

. . . do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
(A friend sent this via e-mail)

Friday, July 18, 2008

People Can Change


O Weary Saint

O weary saint cast down,
Who mourns in barren field,
Whose heart and flesh now fail
And naught but weeping yield–
When fears increase as life departs,
Where is the balm for broken hearts?

The weary Savior died
And in the grave was sown
To bear the wrath of God
For sin though not His own
Then He arose from where He lay,
The firstfruits of the harvest day.

O weary saint look up
For from the barren field
Will rise, in Christ, His own
With heart and flesh then healed.
Our hope is this, that death is gain,
Our tears and sighs will not remain.


John Ireland (1918) Reformed Praise

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Prayer of Love

Yesterday, we held the memorial service for Oliver -- our quick witted and fun filled young friend (age 22) who passed away unexpectedly last week.

The church overflowed with people from every imaginable background and belief system.

I knew that this was going to be a challenging funeral, given the wide disparity of perspectives. I hoped we'd all be able to come together in one heart as we remembered Ollie, and I knew my typical funeral message wouldn't cut it.

Before the crowds arrived, Joyce and Dessie showed up to pray with me. I thank God for these mighty prayer warriors.

In the stillness of the morning hour, these two godly women saturated our sanctuary with intercession. Together, we agreed in prayer that God's presence would be manifested in mighty love. We prayed that all the people attending the funeral would feel a deep and overwhelming love surrounding them.

Joyce and Dessie prayed over the pews -- and over the entrance. Then, slipped away unnoticed.

God answered their prayer of faith. When the service was over, everybody marvelled at how much love filled that room.

Love is what brings us together.
Love makes the difference.
Prayer brought the love.

Life

We had the experience, but missed the meaning.
-- T. S. Elliot

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dig a Deep Well

Dig your well steadily and deep., so that you may rejoice in a life that is constantly nurtured by living water

-- Basil Pennington

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hoosier Friends

My Indiana friends, Greg and Keetha Broyles, came to Hayward this week for a northwoods vacation. Keetha is a regular at Revitalize Your Church, and leaves frequent insightful comments.

She posted about her visit to Hayward Wesleyan Church here. . . Little Pastor in the Woods. So glad you could be with us, Greg and Keetha!!

If you poke around, you'll see several good pictures of various Hayward tourist destinations at Keetha's blog as well!

Never Random

Tomorrow, I will be conducting the funeral service for Oliver, a 22 year old, who was a part of our youth group, and attended our church on many occasions. I really liked O. J. We always got along well with each other. He was a bright and friendly young man, full of vibrant life.

His unexpected death is still a mystery. He just didn't show up for work for a couple of days -- and those who went to check on him, found he had died in his sleep.

O. J.'s daddy is a member of our congregation. My heart breaks for this precious family in their hour of darkest sorrow.

In times like this, we are left bewildered. It is in regard to this sort of confusion that Larry Crabb writes:
Our shattered dreams are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story. Pain is a tragedy. But it's never only a tragedy. . . The journey to joy takes us through shattered dreams. (Crabb, Shattered Dreams)

Monday, July 14, 2008

When I Lay My Isaac Down




This morning, I finished a good book by Carol Kent, When I Lay My Isaac Down: Unshakable Faith in Unthinkable Circumstances.
It's the story of how she processed the terrible news that her 25 year old son had shot and killed a man.
It is a good encouragement for anybody suffering through painful and perplexing experiences -- particularly, in regard to their children.
The best thought I found was a question: Are you living closer to Good Friday or Easter Sunday?

Reach for the Sky!

Reach for the Sky!

“To make your life small when it could be great is sin and heresy!” -- Elton Trueblood

When babies are born into this world, they are really cute – and they are characterized by helplessness, sensitivity, and unfulfilled potential. Now, that’s perfectly normal for a baby – but not a grown up.

God gave us all potential so we can discover and live it!

You have to grow to grow up! Maturity means you can’t allow yourself to stay helpless. Don't let yourself harbor hurt feelings. Strive to be your best, and refuse to settle for mediocrity.

As the wise old bard once said “The saddest words in tongue or pen are simply these: It might have been.”

What is Potential?

NA + SD + D + P + FOF + WTL

Natural Ability + Self Discipline + Drive + Persistence + Faith Overcoming Fear + Willingness to Learn = Potential!

How do you determine your potential?

P – Prayerfully determine what God wants you to do with the rest of your life.
O – Organize your life around this mission
T – Take time to develop your inner life (to grow, to learn, to reflect, to pray)
E – Embrace setbacks and failures as learning experiences
N – Never settle for small living
T – Take others with you on the journey
I – Increase your capacity with pro-active learning (stretch your mind with new ideas!)
A – Attitude adjustments must be made regularly (check up from the neck up!)
L – Leave the final results to God

“Few of us ever have risen equal to our best vision. The place at the top is only won by the brave; and the average person’s courage leaks out before he reaches the top.” -- A.P. Gouthey

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In Conclusion

Don't you know how hard it is for some people to get out of a room after their visit is really over? They want to be off, and you want to have them off, but they don't know how to manage it. One would think they had been built in your parlor or study, and were waiting to be launched.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes (The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, 1891, p. 17)

Mark's note: Some sermons are like that. I recently told a young preacher in training: "You should have only ONE "in conclusion" -- not two or three. If you don't know how to land the plane, it's much better to turn off the engine and crash land, than just circle until you run out of gas."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What are You Doing, Brett??

Brett Favre has sure put the Packers in a Pickle, with his "un-retirement."

Their options:

1. Welcome Brett back and let him take up where he left off:
Most Packer fans would like that -- but it would be very detrimental to their relationship with Aaron Rogers who has been very patient in the "grooming process." Also, Brett's dismal performance in the frigid championship game at Lambeau makes me wonder if the gipper still has it in him for the long haul. He had a wonderful season -- with a few horrible moments. At this point, he's still great -- but wouldn't it be better for him to go out in greatness than to continue until he is booed off the field? What if things unravel? How do you tell a legend that he's washed up?

2. Bring him back, but let Rogers start:
That won't go over very well in Packerland. I cannot imagine Brett as a benchwarmer. If they choose this option, poor Rogers will have a huge target on his back. Every mistake he makes will be magnified -- and every decision will be "second guessed." There will be a "quarterback controversy."

3. Release him and let him sign up with another team:
This is what Favre is requesting -- and it's the worst possible option for the Packers. This opens up the possibility that he would end up with a rival like the Bears or Vikings. Packer fans would rend their garments!! Can you image Brett coming back to play AGAINST Green Bay wearing a Purple 4? Can you imagine Brett BEATING us at Lambeau?? ARRRGGGHHH!

4. Trade him:
The fans would scream their heads off in protest -- but it might be the best scenario. Of course they would have to be picky. They would have to trade him to some dumpy team that:

  • Doesn't have a chance of going to the Super Bowl.
  • Won't be playing against the Packers for the next year or two.
  • Has a superstar athlete they're willing to trade to shore up a Packer weakness.

None of the four options above are appealing.

Brett ought to rethink this whole thing. As far as the future is concerned, the best solution is for him to go back to Mississippi, run his tractor, and thank the Lord for all the good memories.

Here's the Packers statement -- which doesn't state anything.

I Love Vacation Bible School

Last night, we concluded Vacation Bible School with a BANG -- the thunder was banging as we drove home!

The boys won the penny offering with a bang (although the girls are quick to point out they won three of the five nights.) We collected several hundred dollars in pennies, which will be given away to Mercy Ships, where children will receive life-saving operations. (When you look at the result, everybody wins!)

I love VBS. It's an opportunity for me to get to know the children -- and to be THEIR pastor. I don't get to do that very often. The grown ups keep me too busy.

Of course, the kids already have an outstanding pastor in Jeremy Mavis, who leads the excellent children's ministry of Hayward Wesleyan Church. He's fantastic.

During VBS week, however, Jeremy gave me the privilege of showing the students a brief film clip (Chadder's Theater) -- and then leading them in prayer. That was the sweet part!

I love the prayers of children. I love their faith. I wish grown ups had half as much faith as that!

On Thursday evening, we "brought in the net", asking the children to open their hearts and give their lives to Jesus. Over 60 of our children responded to that invitation! It was precious.

Last night (Friday), a beaming mother sought me out. She had tears in her eyes. She said, "Something wonderful happened to my little boy! He's had some troubles -- but last night, my son came home from Bible School and announced that he invited Jesus into his heart.

'I'm a NEW MAN now, mom! The empty hole I had inside me has been filled up!'"

Another young fellow (3rd grade) pulled me aside on Wednesday and asked, "Am I too young to ask Jesus to come into my life?" On Thursday, he was the first one to respond to the invitation. Friday, he came -- glowing with joy -- carrying a homemade construction paper card for me. It had a big cross on the front. Inside, it said:

"Pastor Mark, Thank you for helping me know Jesus."

I love Vacation Bible School

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pastor Sells Himself on E-Bay


Chad Smith, a creative, unconventional pastor from Alabama, is selling himself on e-bay. Bidding is up to $2.25 now -- with $3000 for shipping.
This causes deep concern. If this thing works, there will be a FLOOD of churches putting their pastors up for sale.






Luke Gets His Permit

Congratulations to Luke, who got his Driver's Permit yesterday! Watch out world, he's comin' through!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The "We" Relationship

Steve Yastrow shared a valuable insight at Tom Peters' Blog recently:

Here's how I define a "We relationship": When your customer never thinks of you without thinking of both of you. A customer can think that your company is wonderful, as in "They do a great job." But, when your customer can't think of you without thinking of her relationship with you at the same time, then you've achieved a higher level of connectedness.

Read the rest here.

Inspiring Thoughts

In Difficult Moments - Seek God
In Quiet Moments - Worship God
In Painful Moments - Trust God
In Every Moment - Thank God
(My good friend, Harold Adolph (missionary doctor to Ethiopia) recently shared this nugget of inspiration with me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

State of Drinking in Wisconsin


A Gannett report came out this week that said that Wisconsin is the #1 Alcohol State in the Nation -- a dubious honor, indeed. (It made the front page of Monday's paper.) Another article on the same data.

Research results can be found here.
Interestingly, if you click on the "Interactive US Map", you will easily see the states MOST impacted by alcohol problems-- a northern band across the upper midwest.

Likewise, you will note the states LEAST impacted by alcohol problems -- another band, across the south.

Why are the northern states more prone to alcohol abuse than the south?

I'm certain the difference has something to do with THIS map.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Great Read


Just finished Rob Stennett's new novel, The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher. (Zondervan)

It's a funny, fast paced satire about an eager Denver realtor, Ryan Fisher, who expands his business by placing an ad in the "Christian Business Directory." In the process of building a "Christian market niche", he discovers the evangelical sub-culture -- which is completely foreign but somewhat attractive to him.

After a few months of "churchianity" (and pretending to be a pastor) -- he decides to plant a church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, using his marketing, relational and business savvy.

What follows is a humorous but indicting portrayal of American christianity, which raises a plethora of issues about effective leadership, church growth, manipulation, authenticity vs. pretending, and why people attend church in the first place.

It was a great read and I couldn't put it down.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Rahab

I preached on Joshua 2 today, telling the story of Rahab.

1. She had a Hard Life
  • Bad decisions
  • Jericho prostitute
  • Baal worship -- child sacrifice, rampant immorality
  • rejection
  • unworthy, unloved, unaccepted

2. She made a Hard Choice

  • The decision: turn in the spies (be a "good citizen") or hide the spies (be "God's citizen")
  • You can never make the necessary change if you are unwilling to make the hard decision.

3. She reaped a Harvest of Righteousness

  • Her hard decision blessed her family (see Josh. 6) Her mother, father, brothers and sisters.
  • She left a legacy -- married Salmon -- baby was Boaz -- husband of Ruth -- grandparents of David!
  • If Rahab had not made the hard decision, we would not have most of the Psalms!
  • Hebrews 11 -- Hall of Fame -- Rahab is there!
  • Lineage of Jesus -- Matthew 1 -- Rahab is there too!



We had full house -- about 700 people -- with several out of town visitors.

A RUF Life

My friend, Ron Ulmer, recently told me about the RUF Hymnbook -- which is a treasure trove of old hymns with a fresh approach. It's a great worship resource!

I really love the old hymns. (I love the new songs too -- but the old hymns are still my favorite.) They are a special part of my daily quiet time with God.

Here's an insightful article (from the RUF site) by Kevin Twit about why young people are returning to old hymn texts: My Grandmother Saved It, My Mother Threw It Away, and Now I'm Buying It Back.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Missional Washington Redskin

This is good. Malcolm Kelly, the Redskins second round draft wide receiver, went to Liberia with Mercy Ships this summer. In a day where sports heroes are usually in the headlines for steroid abuse, drunk driving, or some other insane behavior, it's good to see a positive role model. May God bless Malcolm Kelly -- and may many young football fans follow his example of serving others.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Birthday America!

On this 4th of July morning, I find myself feeling very thankful for my country.

Sure, she has her flaws and failures. Sometimes I get frustrated and disagree strongly with hurtful policies and decisions made by our national leaders and courts.

But, this morning, I am reminded of how fortunate we are to live in this great land of bounty and freedom. I thank God for America and pray His blessing and protection over her.

I thank God for our president, congress, and supreme court -- convicted that I 've spent far more time and energy griping about them, than praying for them.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Communication

To improve communication, work not on the utterer, but the recepient.
-- Peter F. Drucker

Wilderness Writings

Some wilderness books I've been reading lately are:

1. Helen Hoover's A Place in the Woods.

Hoover and her husband, Ade, left the rat race of the big city, and bought a place deep in the northwoods. This is a description of their life with the animals, birds, forest -- and occasional neighbor. It doesn't really have plot, and moves slowly -- but it's great for relaxation! Also, living the woods myself, I'm inspired to take better notice of the details around me.

2. Listening Point by Sigurd Olson

I have read all of Olson's works, as well as his biography. He is, by far, my favorite nature writer.

"Listening Point" was the moniker Olson gave to the special place he found by canoe near Ely, Minnesota.

In Olson's words, "I named this place 'Listening Point' because only when I come to listen, only when one is aware, and still, can things be seen and heard. It does not have to be in the north or close to the wilderness, but some place of quiet where the universe can be contemplated with awe."

3. Wilderness Visionaries by Dale Vickery

This is a collection of short biographies of several "champions of nature." He highlights the lives of Leopold, Thoreau, Muir, and Sig Olson, along with a few others.

These books help me to grasp the line of William Blake, which says:
To see eternity in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower;
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour.



,

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wholehearted?

To just read the Bible, attend church, and avoid "big" sins -- is this passionate, wholehearted love of God?
-- Francois Fenelon (The Seeking Heart)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Trouble Making Piggy

Randolph McCoy's piggy was a trouble- maker!

When Randolph wasn't looking, the pig escaped from his pen and ravaged the neighbor's garden. The frustrated neighbor, Floyd Hatfield, exclaimed that he would shoot that blasted pig if she ever came close to his property again! He didn't have to wait long. Old "porky" escaped a second time - and the rest is history.

A silly dispute over a pig began a major conflict between the Hatfields and the McCoys, which lasted over thirteen years. The family war claimed the lives of twelve people - three Hatfields, seven McCoys, and three outsiders.

To this day (over 100 years later), the family feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys stands as an example of why it's best to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. If you harbor unresolved conflict in your heart, you are running the risk of crazy behavior. As one sage put it, "Whenever you fly into a rage, you always make a bad landing."

"Discussion is an exchange of knowledge," said Robert Quilken, "and an argument is an exchange of ignorance." The best bet for us is to commit ourselves to healthy conflict resolution. Here are a few ideas to help you develop better relationships with others.

1. Think - win/win.
Is there any way you can make this a cooperation rather than a competition? Is there a way for everyone to win?

2. Seek to understand - then to be understood.
God gave you two ears and one mouth. That means you ought to listen twice as much as you talk. Hear the other person's heart.

3. Search for creative solutions.
Usually there are several possible routes through a difficulty. Don't allow yourself to be locked into "either/or" thinking. Think beyond the obvious!

4. Evaluate options objectively and reasonably.
Try not to let your emotions cloud your judgment. As the Bible says, "Come, let us reason together. . ."

5. Focus on issues, not personalities.
Fix the problem, not the blame. Assume the best in the other person. "Write your grievances in sand and your blessings in marble." -- Benjamin Franklin