Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This is Why Leaving the Door Open in Winter is a Bad Idea

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fowl Prejudice

A Dozen Un's

There are a lot of things that get messed up pretty bad when you put an “un” in front of it.

For instance, “grateful” is pretty lousy when it becomes “ungrateful” and “faithful” is bitter when it becomes “unfaithful.”

I searched the Bible the other day, digging for “un” words, and came away with quite a load of them. I was surprised, however, to discover than not ALL of the “un’s” are negative. In fact a few of them are excellent qualities to possess.

On the negative side, the Bible speaks clearly against the following “un’s”:

Faith is a central foundation for life. That’s why Jesus rebuked his disciples for their unbelief when they acted or spoke out of fear and mistrust.

We were made to love. When somebody behaves in an unloving way, it always hurts. We are commanded to love our neighbors.

A foul spirit and inner ugliness always go together.   Impure motives lead to selfish manipulation. Negative speech reveals a bitter heart. The Bible says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  What's been coming out of your mouth lately?

Wavering between two opinions brings instability. When we live in fear, trying to please everybody, we won’t stand strong. The secret to standing firm is to get your feet planted down on the solid ground of truth.

When we do things that aren’t right, we know it deep inside. Our conscience tells us so. We are called to live uprightly – to do the right thing – to make the right choices -- regardless of the price. If you live right, you won’t have to cover with lame excuses.

We are called to care about the important issues of life, and for those around us who are hurting. Lack of concern demonstrates  love shortage.

On the other hand, there are a half dozen positive “un’s” the Bible encourages:

A divided heart wobbles. No one can serve two masters.

This requires listening without jumping to conclusions.

In a sense of humility, receive the blessings of life as a gift, rather than “what I deserve.”

The Scripture demonstrates God’s undying love for us. It will never end, and nothing can separate us from it.

This is the beauty and glory of our lives as we live by faith. Even as we grow older and we begin to fade away, our inner beauty will always be unfading.

God’s never fails. He hasn’t failed you yet, and He won’t start failing you now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Word Picture of My Book Filled Up, Poured Out

Wordle: Filled Up Poured Out

You Can Win Over Fear

Fear can really do a number on us emotionally. It hinders our hopes,
cripples our character and destroys our dreams. I recently read that anxiety
(fear) is most common mental health problem for women. For men it ranks
second -- right behind alcohol related issues. (I guess that means guys
drink booze in order to mask their fears.)

Researchers have discovered that one out of nine Americans has a
debilitating phobia. If we don't deal with fear in a healthy way, it takes
over like a cancer of the soul.

Lloyd C. Douglas said, "If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates
through all his thinking, damages his personality, makes him a landlord to a

Whatever you fear has power over you! You must face it if you wish to master
it. As Frank Tyger stated, "Fear fades when facts are faced." We can quickly
spot the "anxiety disease" in others. It's much more difficult for us to see
it in ourselves.

Do you know the difference between realistic and unrealistic fears? My
fears are realistic -- yours are the unrealistic ones!

When dealing with a tough situation, here are four important points to

1. If you ignore a problem, it gets bigger.
Deal with the issue directly instead of attempting to hide from it. If you
run from a difficult situation, it will chase after you.

2. Fear is a magnifying glass -- it makes things appear worse than they are.
"Over most men hangs the sword of Damocles. They have fallen into the
psychological trap of creating their own problems by trying to solve them,
worrying because of worry, being afraid of fear." -- U.S. Anderson

3. Not all problems are problems. Some are merely facts of life.
The difference? You can do something about a true problem. If you can't do
anything about it, you have a fact of life. Problems can be tackled. Facts
of life must be accepted.

4. The best growth occurs during the hard times.
God uses the hard times to grow you. If you don't get bitter, you will get better!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

You Can't Overemphasize Christ's Love

A beautiful thought expressed by 18th Century Methodist leader, John Fletcher, in a letter to his friend,  Charles Wesley:

I have the impression that we can never have too much compassion for sinners, nor overemphasize for them the love of Jesus, when he himself became incarnate and declared redemption and salvation to tax gatherers and evildoers.  I have also the impression that faith shows itself gradually in many hearts, and that it is our task to nourish the weakest spark, the faintest signs.  What is your opinion?  (Reluctant Saint, Patrick Streiff, p. 82)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Big Pig Fight

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.

Over a century later, the family feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys still 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

Monday, February 11, 2013

Beneath the Snow, Flowers Grow

In light of the recent "deep freeze" we've recently experienced, I'm sharing s a little tribute I wrote in honor of February:

Black and white February tends to chill us to the bone.

Summer joys lie torpid in thick ice. Hopes hybernating.

Frozen in distant memory banks, spring flowers lie far  beneath.

In cold and cloudy winter, one begins to wonder whether May will ever show her lovely face again.

But she will!
 She will!
She will!
She always does!

Every spring,
she springs,
and sings,
and brings new life.

The multi-colored days,
pinioned by the bitter greys,
will soon burst forth in light,

Winter is only temporary.

Beneath the snow, flowers grow.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Thank You Lord

Here are the lyrics of a song, written by my brother, Tim.  After sharing the story behind the song in a talk I gave recently, I was asked if I could post this on my blog:

Thank you Lord, for this day that I've been given.
Thank you Lord, for all you've done for me.
Thank you Lord, for this day that I've been given.
Thank you Lord, for all you've done for me.

O Lord you know, that my heart is filled with sorrow.
Lord you know, that my heart's filled with pain.
Although my world has come crashing down around me,
I'll still trust in my Lord Jesus' name.

Thank you Lord, for this day that I've been given.
Thank you Lord, for all you've done for me.
Thank you Lord, for this day that I've been given.
Thank you Lord, for all you've done for me.

Monday, February 04, 2013

To Survive Wintry Blasts, Face Them Head On!

A Wyoming cowboy was once asked what was the greatest lesson he’d learned from his experiences of ranching.

"The Herefords taught me one of life's most important lessons," he replied. "We used to breed cattle for a living, but the winter storms would come and kill 'em off. It would take a terrible toll on the herd.

"Time and time again, after a cold winter storm, we'd find most of our cattle piled up against the fences, dead as doornails!

"They would turn their backs to the icy wind, and slowly drift downward until the fences stopped them. There, they just piled up and died."

"But the Herefords were different than that," he continued. "They would head straight into the wind and slowly walk the other way until they came to the upper boundary fence where they stood, facing the storm.

"We always found our Herefords alive and well. They saved their hides by facing the storm!"

When the storms of life are raging, our natural inclination is to duck and hide. It is easier to turn our backs on reality than to face the brutal facts.

The path of least resistance, however, is a deadly course. Instead, we must face the storm head-on!

When a problem arises in your life, you have to face it before you can fix it. Facing life's storms brings renewed strength, hope, and power for living:

1. Facing the storm strengthens character.
"Softies" who have never experienced any hardship tend to go all to pieces whenever troubles arise. "On no! The sky is falling!" If the sky falls on you a few times, and you're still kicking, you realize that you can make it! You are too big of a person to let the little problems get you.

One day, when I was in a jam, a good friend remarked, "Not to worry -- Your ship was made to sail in seas like these!"

2. Facing the storm sweetens the spirit.
The sweetest people I've ever met are those who have endured much hardship. Somehow, they figured out how to come through it all rejoicing. Of course, negative processing can leave a person sour and bitter -- I've met plenty of those. But if you're determined to stay sweet, the problems will make you sweeter.

3. Facing the storm deepens compassion.
When we suffer, we are more able to identify with others who are hurting. My friend and co-worker, Tim Young, is a good example of that. An accident several years ago, left him with chronic stabbing pain in his back and legs. He bears an unusually heavy cross. Instead of using this as an excuse to stay bottled up in himself, however, he has transformed this pain into a deep compassion for others. Tim is one of the most caring people I've ever met, and is a living example of what Henri Nouwen calls, “the wounded healer.”

4. Facing the storm broadens the horizon.
Hardship helps us to look forward to better days. It makes us realize that our current situation isn't forever, this world is not our home, and the best is yet to come.