Showing posts from May, 2016

Homemade Happiness

Here are a dozen ways to have a happier home life:

 1. Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire, or someone is hard of hearing.

 2. Use the 7:1 ratio -- It takes seven positives to counteract the force of one negative -- It could even be more like 10:1. Make sure you speak at least seven affirmations and encouragements for every criticism.

 3. Make up your mind not to allow petty annoyances to become barriers.  Always ask, "Is it worth it" before you react.

 4. Accept those in your home for who they are, and not what you assume they should be.

 5. Determine to brighten up your home whenever you walk in the door.  Some people bring joy wherever they go -- and others bring joy when they go!

 6. Express your appreciation and love often. "Please" and "Thank you" are more precious than gold.

 7. Hug a lot. Meaningful touch provides a sense of security and belonging (If course, if someone doesn't want to be hugged, it's best to be sensitive and re…

Someone is Praying for Me

When the sad news of Shirley's unexpected death arrived, I immediately called her husband Dannie.  Before their move to Missouri a couple of years prior, Dannie and Shirley were pillars of our church, and we missed them dearly.  Now, Shirley was gone.

" I'm so sorry to hear about Shirley."

Dannie was glad to hear from me.

I continued, "All of your friends up here in the Northwoods are praying for you."

"I can tell," he replied, "I've been amazed at the peace and strength I've felt all the way through this terrible ordeal. It has been just unbelievable. How could I possibly have such peace at a time like this? Then I thought, 'I know why! Someone is praying for me.'"

Dannie continued, "You know, Pastor Mark, light travels at 186,282.397 miles per second. But I've discovered something that travels even faster than that -- the prayers of God's people!"

"Losing Shirley is the hardest thing I've eve…

You Can't Do Everything

You can't do everything
 You can't have everything  You can't know everything  You can't fix everything  You can't change everything.  You can't be everything
 But. . .
You can do something  You can have something  You can know something  You can fix something  You can change something  You can be something
 So. . .
 Do what you can  Have what you can  Know what you can  Fix what you can  Change what you can  Be what you can. . .
 Without complaining or comparing. . .then leave the rest to God.

Prayer Lays the Track

"Our prayers lay the track down which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails." -- Watchman Nee

His Bite is Worse Than His Bark

A man was bitten by a rabid dog and ended up in bed seriously ill.  He mustered up enough strength to request a pen and a pad of paper.  Then, he began to write furiously -- page after page.  "Honey, are you writing your last will and testament?" his wife asked.  "No," he replied, "I'm making a list of people I'm going to bite!"

 "His bark is worse than his bite" has been said both of dogs and grumps.  Unfortunately, there are some people who can pack a pretty vicious bite.

 Perhaps, you have been "bitten" by someone.  Maybe you felt the sting of gossip or the barbs of unjust criticism.  Such encounters leave us wounded and in need of emotional first aid.

 How do you handle "attack dog people"  -- the ones who snarl and snap at you, and will take a hunk out of your behind if you turn your back?

 1.  Remember, hurting people hurt people.  When they lash out, it reveals their deep inner pain.  It is almost as if they are an…

The Ministerial Association

Three pastors, attending their monthly ministerial association meeting,  shared what was happening in their congregations.

"Things are starting to look up for us," said the Baptist preacher, "we gained three new members last month."

"We did better than that!" said the Methodist, "I think revival may be coming! We gained six new people last month!"

"Well, we did even better than that!" exclaimed the Presbyterian, "Revival has come! We lost nine of our biggest troublemakers!"

Take This Job and Love It!

According to Gallup, 71% of American workers hate their jobs (other polls even claim figures as high as 80%.) Now, with so much job hating going around, and it seems like something should be done about it.
If you hate your job, then you are the somebody who should do something about it. Things won’t get better if you just sit around wishing it would.
Now, I understand that some work environments are toxic and intolerable. In situations like that, the best thing you can do is seek an exit strategy. If you really hate your job that bad, then look for another one.
Often, however, job dissatisfaction has much more to do with the worker’s attitude, than a dysfunctional environment. It is with this basis of understanding that I propose the following suggestions for learning to love your job:
1.  Examine your attitude. Are you allowing negativity to poison your spirit towards those you work with? If so, the problem may be more about you than it is about them.
2.  Start your day with prayer. Ask G…

There's No Excuse for Making Excuses

Excuses are a dime a dozen. You can come up with all kinds of them to explain why you haven't been your best.

You can blame the boss.
You can blame the environment.
You can blame your family.
You can blame the clock (I just don't have time.) You can blame the situation.

If you're looking for a way to weasel out of what you should be doing, you'll find it. The human mind has the uncanny ability to rationalize anything.

The bottom line, however, is that if you continue making excuses for mediocrity, you will never realize your true, God-given, potential. It does no good to dream about what you are going to accomplish tomorrow if you're unwilling to pay the price today.

Inspiration without commitment vanishes at the first hint of difficulty. A vision without careful planning is only a daydream. An idea isn't worth much unless it is accompanied by shoe leather.

Refuse to cave into "somewhere over the rainbow" thinking. Your "ship" isn’t coming in. Might …

The Other Side of Nowhere is This Side of Somewhere

"The other side of nowhere," said Charles Kingsley, "is very likely to be this side of somewhere!"

 Have you been passed over? Are you slighted, neglected and ignored? Do you find yourself overworked and under-appreciated?

 You're on this side of somewhere!

 If things are looking down -- look up! Help is on the way!  Discouragement is the fertile soil where new hope blossoms bright and grows.

 You're on this side of somewhere!

 The answer does not come before the question.
 The solution requires a problem.
 The victory is gained through struggle.
 The mountain top comes with a corresponding valley.
 The spring always follows winter's chill.

 You're on this side of somewhere!

 Have you been forsaken by loved ones? Are you feeling left behind and lonely?

 Take heart, my friend! You're on this side of somewhere!

 Is your mind bound up by anxious care? Are you burdened with tomorrow's fear? This is a good day to let it all go. Bid farewell to regret, resent…

Holiness is a Symphony of Love

God is love—love lived out through the power of the Holy Spirit in a community of gifted individuals playing one musical piece in different parts, a holy symphony. 
 Holiness is life lived by people in the fullness of the Holy Spirit who are empowered to offer a drastic alternative to the world around them. Love is the melody running through the community, underneath the community, and all around the community. 
 The Christian community is not a place of jarring instruments singing different songs, or a place of gossip, conflict, rejection, pain, strife, and hatred. It is a place where the Spirit’s fruit is present in abundance, so much so that the world around the Christian community can’t help but join the melody. It is a community that is so unified, so melodious, so beautiful that it stops others in their tracks. Those on the outside can’t help but peer in, and watch with awe and wonder, and notice the unity of the symphony. 
 Instead of the emphasis being on the solo Christian stri…

How to Get it Done

I discovered long ago, that a wish or desire is not enough to get something done. Every accomplishment starts with an idea, of course -- but the idea, alone, won't make it happen.

 Even a very strong "want to" won't bring the follow through. If you want to get something done, you have to do something about it ahead of time!

 1. What Gets Scheduled Gets Done.
 Not long ago, I shared a great vacation idea with my wife, Cathy. "Hey, we should go to Florida sometime!" (I think our long winter had something to do with that inspiration.)

 "When are you thinking we should do this?" Cathy wondered.

 "I dunno. Just sometime next January -- or maybe February . . ."

 Cathy replied, "Well, the only way that's going to happen is if it gets on the calendar."

 For years, I said I wanted to author a book, but never seemed to have the time to write it.  Then,  I actually did it.  Here's what made the difference.  I put" book writing"…

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

 When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

 When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.

 When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

 When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

 When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing, and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.

 When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyon…

Healthy on the Inside

Sandy was visibly upset when she approached me after church one Sunday. “I have an urgent prayer request. My friend, Pam, was in a terrible car accident last night. She’s in intensive care at St. Mary’s with a broken neck. It’s uncertain whether she will ever walk again.” Then Sandy added, “Ironically, she was planning to come to church with me this morning, and now this happened.”

That afternoon, I made the long trek to Duluth to visit Sandy’s friend.

Pam, strapped and bolted in a Stryker frame, recognized me immediately as I entered her room: “I was going to visit your church this morning.”

“Well, I came to visit you instead.”

We had a deep, meaningful conversation and concluded with prayer. I could tell her heart was especially tender toward spiritual things.

As I headed toward the door, she said, “Don’t be surprised when I walk into your worship service some Sunday.”

Several months later, I was preaching, when the sanctuary door opened and Pam entered. After extensive therapy, she…