Friday, August 30, 2013

Take Time for the Important Stuff

Sometimes life seems like an exercise bicycle – we spin our wheels furiously and never seem to get anywhere. Often, we are caught up in a rat race of hectic schedules and deadlines. We become some busy with the urgent that we forget the more important things of life.

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone, including you, would stop right now and appreciate the small, but precious gifts each moment brings? Take time for them and they will deliver much joy.

Take Time To Listen: Most of us are self-centered. We need to step back from ourselves and lend a listening ear to others. God has given you two ears and one mouth. They should be used in that proportion.

Take Time to Learn: Life is a classroom always in session. Never stop learning about your world, your God, your friends and yourself. A living brain is a learning brain. Keep the “learning switch” on all day long and you will make many exciting discoveries!

Take Time To Laugh: Laughter is medicine for the soul. Show me a person who doesn't laugh and I’ll show you a miserable scrooge. How long has it been since you've had a good laugh? If it’s been a while, I urge you to stop whatever you’re doing and “go hunting” for something to laugh about. Funny things aren't too hard to find if you look for them.

Take Time To Live: Some folks are so involved with the business of “surviving”, that they forget to live. We all need to relax and enjoy the journey. Take time for a wide variety of experiences. Meet new friends. Travel. Take a long hike. Join a new organization. Do something unusual every day. Live life to the fullest!

Take Time to Love: Loving and giving bring a sense of destiny to life. When we love, we are doing what matters most. Take time to express how much you cherish your family. Say “I love you” often. Time invested in building relationships is never wasted. The greatest waste is to live without loving.

Take the time for life’s most important matters, and your life will be packed full of joyful surprises! Spread love and cheer to others and they will return the favor.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Uncle Woody's Fishing Method

When I was seven years old, Woodrow Wilson took me fishing. Not the U.S. president, mind you, but my daddy's big brother, who shared the same name.  Uncle Woody, born in 1913, was named after the great commander in chief who had been inaugurated a few months prior.  Whenever we vacationed in southern Indiana, I imagined it to be a White House visit.  It felt presidential, though I never could find the Lincoln bedroom.
One day, Uncle Woody, who reminded me somewhat of the rooster, Foghorn Leghorn, asked me if I liked to fish.  He was flabbergasted upon hearing that I had never cast a line.  “I declare, boy, that’s a tragedy.  Every kid needs to go fishing, and we’re going to take care of that today.”
So Uncle Woody dug up some worms in a soup can, rigged a couple of poles, stuffed my brother, Timmy, and I in his Ford pickup, and drove us to the Lost River.
Standing in soggy riverbank weeds, Uncle Woody, handed us poles with squiggly worms on the hook and said, “Push the button and cast it out there,”
Timmy did great, but I flubbed it.  After four or five miserable attempts, Uncle Woody impatiently snatched the pole from my hand.
“No!  No!  That’s not how it’s done.  Watch closely, boy, and I’ll show you exactly what to do.”
He drew back and let the line fly -- straight up --  into the limbs of the oak towering above us, and let out a few choice Wesleyan Methodist expletives.
“Aw, Fiddlesticks!  Dagummit!  Criminy Christmas!”
The fishing line tangled around a branch, and dangled far above our heads. Befuddled Uncle Woody sputtered, and jerked the pole to no avail.
Eventually he boosted Timmy up into the tree for a climbing search and rescue mission, but the line was far beyond his reach.  I just watched forlornly in the hot August sun.
After a couple hours of futile efforts, Uncle Woody finally had enough.  He yanked hard, and snapped the line, leaving the bobber and worm swinging happily in the tree.  Stuffing us back into his pickup, a sullen Uncle Woody drove back to the White House in silence.  I wondered why his face was so red.
On that dusty drive, I decided fishing was not for me.  “After all,” I thought, “It’s no fun.  It’s hot and miserable,  a frustrating waste of time, and the pressure is almost unbearable.
And that is how most Christians experience and understand evangelism.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When God Shuts a Window

Many times, down through the years, I've quoted the following adage, "When God shuts a door, he opens a window."

In fact, just this morning, I shared that pithy little statement in a Facebook message to a friend who recently experienced disappointment.  As soon as I hit the "send" button, I realized it was an unhelpful platitude.

Squeezing through a window doesn't sound inviting at all.

Quickly, I sent a follow-up message that said it much better:  "When God shuts a window, he opens the door."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Wisdom of the Body

In a 1990 sermon titled The Wisdom of the Body, Dr. Paul Brand said, “I pray that when my time comes I may not grumble that my body has worn out too soon, but hold on to gratitude that I have been so long at the helm of the most wonderful creation the world has ever known, and look forward to meeting the designer face to face.” In flesh and blood such as ours, God silences the arguments of a noisy world. Jesus stood before the masses to show the world that our bodies and our hearts were meant to know healing. Perhaps we can be like the one leper of the ten that Jesus healed, the one who recognized the significance of the man behind the miracle. Falling on his face at Jesus’s feet, he saw the Son of God. And Jesus said to him: “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Old Shoes and Friendship

Some people bring relief when they arrive. Others bring relief when they go!

I like to call the former, “old shoe friends.” When you have an old pair of shoes that are really comfortable, they just go along with you naturally. They’re not squeaky and they don’t pinch your toes with every step. They’re not two sizes too small. In other words, they possess a welcoming, broadness of spirit. After all, as Benjamin Disraeli said, “Life is too short to be little.”

Old shoe friends accept you for who you are, and believe in you. You can turn to them for advice, knowing that they have your best interest in mind, and that you are not their project for “fixing.”

You don’t have to wonder where you stand with these friends. You know they love you, regardless of what happens.

This is not to say that old shoe friends won’t confront you if they see you making a mistake that is hurtful to yourself or others. A true friend will tell the truth, even when it hurts. “Wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy.”

Old shoe friends bring comfort to the weary soul. They understand between the lines, and stand beside you in the darkest times.

A prisoner in New York once remarked, “Friends are those who step in when all the rest of the world steps out.”

Stepping in is what friends are for. “Greater love has no man than this,” Jesus said, “that he lays down his life for his friends.”

Old shoe friends bring courage to the fearful heart. Loneliness, like fatigue, makes cowards of us all. We were not created to face life’s trials alone. This is true from the beginning, and is why the Creator said, “It is not good for man to be alone” and then created a partner for Adam. We need companions for life’s journey – friends who will walk the distance with us.

A true friend living out 1 Corinthians 13, “Always protects. Always trusts, Always hopes and Always perseveres.”

Of course, you and your old shoe friends will have some frustrations along the way. When you know each other well, you have to live with each others’ weaknesses. However, true friendship doesn't let the frustration stand in the way of compassion. We might disagree, but we can learn to disagree agreeably!

Old shoe friendships are forged over time. They survive the disappointments and distances. They find a way to put “charity into the clarity, and clarity into the charity.”

When communicating, there are always two things being communicated:

1) The information you want me to know

2) Whether or not you care about me

The second is by far the most important communication. I believe that couples struggling with communication get hung up on the first one (information) and fail on the second (compassion.) Good communication is not about relating information as it is making a connection.

As author, John Maxwell recently said, “Everybody communicates, but few connect!”

I appreciate these words from poet, Maya Angelou, “I may forget what you said. I may forget what you did. But I will never forget how you made me feel..”

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Times Are In His Hands

It was a frustrating, difficult day. Many issues clamored for my attention, my schedule was packed full of appointments, and my energy level was low. The needs around me seemed overwhelming, the phone rang off the hook, at least a half dozen people were upset with me about something, and I had a headache.

Realizing that I had not yet had my quiet time with God, I decided to escape from the office for a little while and find a place for solitude. A long time ago, I learned that if my soul is not anchored, I’m not much good for anybody.

I drove to a beautiful lake, and spent some time centering my mind on my Creator. It seemed as if my Heavenly Father was speaking his love, strength and peace to my troubled heart.

I opened my Bible and found this wonderful verse, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15.)

What a refreshing thought! All my times are in God’s hands.

My good times,
My bad times,
My glad times,
My sad times,
My stressed times,
My rest times
My best times – they’re all in His hands.

Then, I turned to Psalm 25:5, which states, “My hope is in you all day long.”

All day long! Just think!

God is with me all day long – every single moment of every single day.

All day long, he offers his peace.
All day long, I can rest in his keeping grace.
All day long, He demonstrates his love and faithfulness.
All day long, I can depend on Him.

He never goes out to lunch, never takes a coffee break, and never falls asleep on us. We never get his voicemail. He is always present and available.

Several years ago, my dear friend, Charlie Howe, who faithfully attends our church and spends his life blessing others, shared this beautiful poem he created:

God is there.
And He cares.
So why despair?

My times are in his hands, and my hope is alive -- all day long!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

25 Ways to Start Living

My dear friend, O. J. Philpot, once shared the following 25 ways to start living.  I appreciated this thoughts, and pass them along to you hoping they will inspire you as they did me:

1.  Seek out a forgotten friend.
2.  Help mend a quarrel.
3.  Put new trust in someone you have had difficulty trusting before.
4.  Encourage someone younger than you.
5.  Gift a soft answer to someone who is harsh to you.
6.  Write someone a kind letter
7.  Share a special "treasure" with someone.
8.  Keep a promise you have made.
9.  Forgive an enemy, and let him/her know you have forgiven.
10.  Take time to do one of those important things you have been putting off.
11.  Take time to listen to someone's sorrows.
12.  Say "I am sorry" when you are wrong.
13.  Think of someone else instead of yourself.
14.  Show appreciation
15.  Be kind, gentle and thoughtful.
16.  Laugh.  Don't take yourself too seriously.
17.  Express your gratitude -- be thankful.
18.  Gladden the heart of a child.
19.  Go to church and worship God.
20.  Don't be cross with people.
21.  Let your love show.
22.  Sing, sing, sing.
23.  Examine yourself and the demands you make on others.
24.  Do something you know you should, but is extra hard to do.
25.  Do your best to move beyond yourself into loving service for others.