Monday, September 30, 2013

8 Ways to Make a Good Day

1. Determine to have a good day.
Make up your mind that you are going to make the best of this day, no matter what! A firm decision to live positively is half the battle.

2. Start your day with a prayer. 

Before you get out of bed, pause and thank God for your life and ask for guidance and wisdom.

3. Don't sweat the small stuff. 

Isn't it funny how we can become so uptight about non-essentials? My friend, Eunice Walker, calls these petty frustrations "bugs on the windshield of life." Refuse to let minor annoyances get the best of you.

4. Look for postcards from heaven. 

Every day God sends postcards that say, "I love you." He hides them in the most unexpected places - and you have to search in order to find them. Each day is packed full of blessings for you to enjoy. Look again!

5. Release your resentment and regret. 

Some people are hostage to the past. Regret and resentment (the Siamese twins of misery) bind us up so we cannot enjoy the present. Yesterday is history. You can't go back and change it - but you can do something about today. Make the most of your moments - and do not allow bandits from your past to rob your joy.

6. Invest your life in service to others. 

One of the best ways to be happy and fulfilled in life is to be a blessing to others. Look for ways to help and encourage other people, and you will be rewarded with happiness. I've never yet met a generous grouch.

7. Always tell the truth. 

Honesty brings freedom to the soul.

8. Nurture your most important relationships. 

Be sure to cherish your faith, family and friends. Don't get so caught up in the hectic pace of making a living that you forget to make a life. The human heart is rich, indeed, when full of love.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fearless

Author, Eric Blehm has written a truly inspiring story of valor in the biography, Fearless.  He relays the account of Adam Brown, a young Arkansas man, who overcame his inner demons and a troubled past to become a Navy Seal Team Six Operator.

Adam's wife, Kelly stood by his side throughout the entire ordeal -- believing in him, helping him overcome drug addiction, and cheering him through the grueling process of becoming one of the nation's most elite warriors.

This is a story of redemption, courage, humor in adversity, faith and ultimate sacrifice. A very compelling read.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Billy Graham in Quotes

When a wise person speaks, pay attention.

I recently obtained Billy Graham in Quotes,  a fabulous resource for speakers and writers.  This excellent work captures thousands of inspiring thoughts from Dr. Graham's books, articles, sermons and personal works.   There are nuggets of wisdom concerning just about every topic related to spirituality, relationships, and life in general.  It's a real treasure trove, and has already proven itself useful for the new book I'm writing.

Purchase here

Change the Channel

You and I were created to be thankful. Deep down inside our hearts and minds, we know we're supposed to be content. Unfortunately, envy, resentments, and various circumstances of life can derail us along the way.

Instead of being positive and thankful, we find ourselves being negative, ungrateful, and petty. (In other words - hard to live with!)

Think about it for a moment. If you were to measure your uplifting thoughts of gratitude v.s. your mental visits to the "complaint department" during the last week, which would win out?

Most people would find that the complaints outweigh the praises.

I don't think anybody is grumpy on purpose. Nobody intends to be ungrateful. Discontentment sneaks up on us and attacks us from behind. Often, we don't even realize when we are being a negative pain in the neck!

The Bible recognizes this fact of human nature, and reminds us to "Give thanks in all circumstances." (I Thess. 5:17)

Here are a few thoughts for those who wish to nurture a grateful heart:

1) Declare war on petty negativism!
As soon as you are aware of its nasty presence in your heart, evict it immediately and lock the door. Why keep a smelly skunk in the house?

2) Count your blessings.
There are many things going right in your life. Focus on these, rather than the annoyances.

3) Refuse to compare yourself with others.
The comparison trap breeds selfishness, self-pity and greed.

4) Change the channel!
Your mind can broadcast the day's events through Channel P (positive) or Channel N (negative). You get to choose your announcer. In our house, if someone is being a grouch, it's not uncommon for somebody else to say, "It's time to change to Channel P!"

5) Keep God at the centerand you will not dwell on the garbage.
A person who habitually complains, gossips, and criticizes needs a spiritual tune-up!

6) Commit yourself to encouraging others.
As you focus on helping others, your heart will be filled with sunshine! I've never met a negative encourager.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Take a Hike

A long walk in the woods is good for the soul.

"I went out for a walk,and finally concluded to stay out till sundown" said naturalist John Muir, "for going out, I found, was really going in."

The forest brings the majestic symphony of God's orchestra alive -- a far better production than anything originating from Carnegie Hall.

The heavens declare the glory of God. The birds, trees, sunsets. and lakes remind us that all is well.

Want a good remedy for a troubled heart? Go take a hike! Get out into nature and observe - watch - listen. You will find peace there. It's hard to be all worked up when you are quiet in a woods.

The Bible says, "Be still and know that I am God." Somebody bigger than me is in charge of the universe. I don't have to panic when situations arise beyond my control. Watch the birds. You'll see!

Joy is the natural state of the soul. The absence of joy indicates some kind of soul disease.

"Entanglements" keep us bound in turmoil. Sometimes, we let our negative emotions get the upper hand, and distract us from the path of peace. Fear and anger are both major entanglements, which can tie us up in knots before we even realize it. It's hard to be fully alive when anxiety and resentment are squeezing the soul.

Consider the lilies

Joy is internal, not external. It depends not on circumstance. "Stone walls do not a prison make, not iron bars a cage." A free spirit can never be imprisoned.

Hardships will come - but then they will pass. Yesterday's tears are merely passing showers. We should not dwell on the dark clouds. The sun always is shining behind them.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Two Very Different Obituaries

I guess folks are getting creative with obits these days.

This week, I stumbled across two very different obituaries which have been making the rounds on the internet.

The first one was of a beloved and colorful 85 year old, Mary "Pink" Mullaney.  After reading this, I wish I could have known her.  One would be hard pressed to find a tribute of greater beauty.

On the other hand, the second obituary, of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick, was shockingly ugly.  In this final "eulogy", her children painted a horrifying picture of abusive violence and torture.   I cannot recall ever seeing such a tragic summary of a life.

I'm struggling with the appropriateness of the second obituary.  Momma always said "never speak ill of the dead", and  "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything."

However, it does raise awareness concerning the evils of child abuse, and certainly provides a good example of what not to do.

A couple of lessons we can glean from these two departed souls:

1)  Live your life in such a way that they will say beautiful things in your obituary.
2)  Be nice to your kids.  They are the ones who will write it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Just Forget It

A few years ago, I had the privilege of spending the evening with a saintly author, Wesley Duewel who was in his 90’s. In the course of our conversation, I happened to mention a recent scandal involving a well known religious figure, which made national news.

Dr. Duewel seemed confused for a moment. 

“I’m sure you remember. . .” I said and added a few juicy details. Then, the kind minister smiled and said, “Oh yes. ..it was completely out of my mind  until you brought it up.  I chose to forget about that.”

I was appropriately rebuked. 

Rehashing another person's failures doesn't do anybody any good. Sometimes, the best alternative is just to forget the whole thing.

Forgetting things can be rather frustrating. All of us know the stress of attempting to pull a lost memory from the dark, cobwebbed corners of the mind.

Some people are more forgetful than others. I hate to admit it, but I'm a member of the "forgetful club." We've organized "Forgetters Anonymous" - but nobody remembers to go to the meetings! 

Fortunately, I haven't forgotten too many earth shattering things along the way. Probably the worst ones were: when I forgot about a funeral I was supposed to perform or when my brain blanked out and I forgot to write my column for the newspaper- or perhaps the time I forgot to take the offering at church! I was finishing the service with a benediction, when the ushers finally caught my attention by waving the offering plates like crazy.

So far, I've done pretty well remembering important stuff like my wife's birthday, our anniversary, funerals, Christmas and Packer games. Actually, forgetting isn't as bad as it's cracked up to be. 

Sometimes, it's better to forget than to remember.

It's better to forget the hurt someone has caused you.
It's better to forget to "rub it in" when you were right.
It's better to forget what others "owe" you.
It's better to forget the minor annoyances - the bugs on life's windshield.
It's better to forget your failures, your past sins, and your losses.
It's better to forget to toot your own horn.
It's better to forget your resentment and disappointment.
It's better to forget to complain.

In this regard, choosing to forget is good medicine for the soul.

"Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize.." Phil. 3:13

Friday, September 06, 2013

When You Suffer a Setback

Back in 2011, when the Kansas City Chiefs snapped our Green Bay Packers’ 19 game (over two seasons) winning streak, I was extremely disappointed, and grumbled all over the house,

 That afternoon, my son, Ryan brought some perspective to the situation.  He reminded me the Colts had just won their first game of the season, after a long losing streak.

 “The Packers are 13 and 1 and the Colts are 1 and 13,” Ryan noted, “And I wonder what’s going on in their locker rooms right now?”

 I imagined defeated Packers slumping to the lockers under gloomy clouds of sullen despair.  Meanwhile, I pictured jubilant Colts cheering, slapping backs, and congratulating each other.

 Then Ryan said, “But despite how they’re feeling today, the fact is the Packers are still 13 and 1 – and on top of the league, while the Colts, at 1 and 13, are still in the basement.”

 And I needed to hear that.

 Sometimes, like the Packers, We end up getting beat by perplexing problems.   When life takes a negative turn, we tend to sag in discouragement.  If we’re not prayed up and filled with positive juice, the negative stuff can sink into the human spirit like a brick,  It is easy to let yesterday’s defeat describe today’s reality.

 The truth is, you are not a failure if you experience a loss.  When you lose, it doesn't mean you’re a loser – only that you’re a human being.  In reality, the only true failure is failing to try again.

 Come to think of it, only one team in NFL history had a perfect season – and that was four decades ago.  Those guys are all carrying AARP cards now.  The 1972 Miami Dolphins impressed the world with a 17-0 record, but even these gridiron titans fell to the Raiders the following September. 

 Nobody wins all the time.  Everyone has to face defeat sooner or later.  The question is, how will you respond to failure?  What will you learn from the experience?  Is it a stop sign or merely a detour?
 If you've suffered a recent set-back, step back and look again.  You might just realize you’re still 13 and 1.