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Showing posts from March, 2013

Just in Time for Easter

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Bouncing Like Tigger on the Inside

“I’m Tigger!” little Suzie shouted as she jumped up and down in the back seat of the car.  Her frazzled mother repeatedly asked her to stop bouncing.  “Be a nice little Tigger and sit down.”  “Precious, Mommy wants you to stop being so active right now.  Be a good girl and buckle up!”  Sweetheart, this is getting on Mommy’s nerves!”

Finally, realizing that her requests had fallen on deaf ears, Mother pulled to the curb and screeched to a halt.
“This is IT!” she shouted, “I’ve had ENOUGH!  If you don’t sit down and start behaving this minute, you are going to regret it, young lady!”
Instantly, the little girl stopped bouncing and settled down.
“That’s much better.” Said Mother.
As the car pulled from the curb, Susie muttered under her breath, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m bouncing like Tigger on the inside!”
As a pastor, one of my jobs is to help people behave themselves.  I have witnessed the tragic results of wrong choices and sinful misbehavior.
I’ve preached plenty…

A Poem for Those Who Allow Little Things to Upset Them

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Sometimes we let a little thing
No larger than a midge's wing
Destroy a whole day's happiness.
We give it leeway, more or less,
And let it buzz and nip and sting,
Till one gets cross, and two get mad,
And three or four are hurt and sad.

And then, next day, on looking back,
We spy the microscopic beast.
Alas, alack!
Was that what started all the fuss?
That mite? We should have thought at least
It was a hippopotamus!


-- Nancy Byrd Turner, 1880-1971, Public Domain)

Lent, Lutefisk and Great Faith

An excerpt from my book, Filled Up, Poured Out: How God’s Spirit Can Revive Your Passion and Purpose : Northern Wisconsin is Lutheran and Catholic territory, and this means two things: Lutefisk before Christmas, and Lent before Easter. I didn’t know much about either growing up. Until moving to Hayward, I had never heard of Lutefisk, and figured Lent was stuff you trap in the dryer. Living in the Northwoods, I’ve discovered that Lutefisk is a piece of cod that passes all understanding.(Actually, it’s a rather unappetizing, gelatinous Nordic dish made from dried, salted whitefish and lye.) We’ll let the Lutherans keep it. Lent, however, is something we’ve happily pilfered from our more liturgical brethren. We start with Ash Wednesday, forty days before Easter. I smudge ashes on the foreheads of willing parishioners, repeating, “From dust you’ve come, to dust you shall return.” For a few years, I drove over to St. Joe’s a couple days before the Lenten season and borrowed ashes from my Cath…

Just Think of What You Carry!

"Think of the world you carry within you," said poet, Rainer Maria Rilke.

My friend Emily, a student at Kingswood University, reflecting on this quote, re-phrased:  "Think of the Christ you carry within you."

Eight Thoughts on Board Leadership

1.  Intelligent boards don't mind making complex decisions and they don't want the decision made for them ahead of time.

2.  The higher the engagement and leadership horsepower, the less likely rubber-stamping will be satisfactory.  They will not settle for the first, simple solution.  They need to think it through.

3.  Intelligent boards need good information in order to make good decisions.  This requires a good amount of homework on someone's part, and a clear presentation of options at the meeting.

4.  The best way to frustrate (and lose) intelligent board members is to clog the agenda with trivial non-essentials.  Every meeting should be built around the highest priorities.

5.  Hearty, constructive, debate, expressing differences of opinion is a good way to discover the best answer.  This requires at least some measure of emotional health on the part of all the participants.

6.  Understand that stress and anxiety from home and/or work will seep into the discussion, a…

I Might Have It But It Doesn't Have Me

Last week, at Janet Johnson's funeral service, her cousin, Pat,shared this beautiful observation, "Janet might have had a disease, but the disease did not have Janet."

I was astounded by that powerful comment.  Too often, people allow themselves to be defined by their difficulties.  This breeds a victim mentality.  Because troubles abound, we can find all kinds of reasons to be unhappy and discontent with life.  In the end, however, those reasons are just excuses.  The key isn't what happens to you - but rather, how you respond to what happens.
Here's an important question:  do you really want to be defined by troubles and negative experiences?  If you wish to be miserable, then just go ahead and let life's painful situations  dictate your attitude and perspective.
If, on the other hand, you know you're made for more than that -- then there's a better way.  It starts deep within your soul.  
Speak the truth to yourself.  You are a special creation fro…

I Don't Think it Works Too Well

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Breastplate of St. Patrick

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I bind unto myself today The strong Name of the Trinity, By invocation of the same The Three in One and One in Three.
I bind this today to me forever By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation; His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation; His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb, His riding up the heavenly way, His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today. I bind unto myself the power Of the great love of cherubim; The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim, Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word, The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls, All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls. I bind unto myself today The virtues of the star lit heaven, The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even, The flashing of the lightning free, The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks, The stable earth, the deep salt sea Around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today The power of God to hold and lead, His eye to watch, His might to stay, His e…

Directions for Taking the High Road

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I love these thoughts from John Maxwell about taking the high road:

If you need a little help moving to the high road, then follow these "directions":

1.  Stay on Kindness Street as long as possible.
2.  Turn right on Forgiveness Avenue.
3.  Avoid Get Even Alley because it is a dead end.
4.  Climb to the top of the hill, for there you will see the high road.
5.  Take it and stay on it; and if you lose your way, ask God for help.

Learning to Dance

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"You will lose someone you can't live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved.  But this is also the good news.

They live forever in your broken heart that doesn't seal back up.  And you come through.  It's like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly -- that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp."  -- Ann Lamott

Encouragement and Personality

“We live by encouragement,” said actress Celeste Holm, “and we die without it – slowly, sadly, angrily.”
Every person you meet needs encouragement.  It’s part of what it means to be human.  All of us need a boost from time to time, and nobody lives constantly on the mountaintop.  We need each other for regular upliftings.
Most of us recognize this responsibility, and have a desire to encourage others, but often our attempts misfire.  Perhaps this is because personalities differ, and what encourages one person may not encourage another.
Authors such as Joyce Littauer, Gary Smalley and Tim LaHaye, have identified four basic temperament types:
Sanguine – “Let’s have fun.”Melancholy --  “Let’s go deep.”Choleric --  “Let’s get moving.”Phlegmatic – “Let’s get along.”
Personally, as a sanguine, I’m inspired by inspiration.  Just give me an uplifting quote or idea, and that will pump up my spirit.  Positive thoughts help me combat a sagging spirit.  I peruse books and other resources regularly, lo…

The Only Way to Get There is to Go There

Self examination and difficult conversations are hard.  That's why so few are willing to "go there."  It's painful.

"Going there" means humbling yourself enough to face the truth, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be.
"Going there" is mustering up the courage to say what needs to be said, even if the other person may not react well to it.
"Going there" means caring enough to confront, but often feels uncaring.
"Going there" takes the risk that things will never be the same.
"Going there" forces you to face your fears.
"Going there" reveals your secrets.
"Going there" requires looking beneath the actions to the underlying cause.
"Going there" shows your shadow self.
"Going there" is nerve wracking and gut-wrenching.
"Going there" means seeing or hearing things you would rather ignore.
"Going there" may make you feel defensive.
"Going there" may …

Trusting Through Darkness

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An excerpt from my book, Filled Up, Poured Out:  How God's Spirit Can Revive Your Passion and Purpose: Sometimes, for unknown reasons, God seems distant and far removed from current reality. In fact, some of God’s most treasured and dutiful saints are plagued with what St. John of the Cross called the dark night of the soul. For instance, letters from Mother Teresa to her superiors, published a decade after her death, revealed an inner struggle to feel God’s blessing and presence. “There is so much contradiction in my soul,” she lamented. “No faith—no love—no zeal . . . I find no words to express my pain.” Martin Luther often battled with what he called anfechtungen, a conflicted spiritual state, where God’s absence seems greater than his presence, and his love appears somewhat questionable.The desert monks referred to acedia, the dreaded “noonday demon,” that describes a deep soul weariness and the serious malady of being unable to care.14 Charles Spurgeon warned young preachers of…

Compassionate Candor

Most of us are less than candid. We don’t want to hurt feelings or upset people, so we keep quiet and let troubling things slide by.

Of course, we’re taught that from childhood. Parents and teachers said “good boys and girls stay in their places with zipped lips.” “Tattle tale” is the worst possible childhood crime.

This mindset is reinforced in the workplace, where people who rock the boat often receive the boot. Most bosses are more concerned about “keeping peace” than “making things right.” Of course, as Teddy Roosevelt said, “There is no unrighteous peace.” Thus, the whole environment becomes a haze of unspoken tension and discontent. The very peace we’re trying to attain by silence eludes us.

Usually, everybody knows the issue, but nobody wants to talk about “the elephant in the room.” We’re like the villagers in Hans Christian Anderson’s tale, who gawked at their emperor strutting his stuff in the buff, believing he was fully clothed. It took a guileless child to point out the obvi…

20 Stress Busting Questions

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When you are under tremendous stress, and life feels like a pressure cooker, then it's time to stop and evaluate what's happening inside of you.  Stress is like the red lights on the automobile dashboard.  It indicates a warning that something under the hood needs attention.  Here are a few questions to consider when you feel the tension rising:
1)  What symptoms indicate that I am stressed out?  
2)  What are the immediate and underlying causes of my tension?  Often, the thing that is "stressing us out", is just a symptom and not the cause.  Look beneath the immediate situation.
3)  Am I living at a sustainable pace?  Look back at your schedule over the past two weeks and ask yourself, "Is this sane?"
4)  Do I have enough breathing room between events and responsibilities?  If not, what can I eliminate from my life?
5)  Is this temporary or permanent?  Is there light at the end of the tunnel, or am I just digging a deeper hole?
6)  Am I operating out of my…

Worst Case of Frostbite I've Ever Seen

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Best Presentation of the Bride Ever!

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