A Cure for His Wife's Temper Problem

A man went to the doctor, worried about his wife’s temper.

  The doctor asked, “What’s the problem?”

  The man said, “Doctor, I don’t know what to do. Every day my wife seems to lose her temper for no reason. It scares me.”

  The doctor said, “I have a cure for that. When it seems that your wife is getting angry, just take a glass of water and start swishing it in your mouth. Just swish and swish but don’t swallow it until she either leaves the room or calms down.”

  Two weeks later, the man came back to the doctor looking fresh and reborn.

  The man said, “Doctor, that was a brilliant idea! Every time my wife started losing it, I swished with water. I swished and swished, and she calmed right down! How does a glass of water do that?”

  The doctor said, “The water itself does nothing. It’s keeping your mouth shut that does the trick.”
  (Thanks to my brother, Steve, who shared this funny joke with me.)

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…

When You've Bitten Off More Than You Can Chew

Occasionally, all of us find ourselves overloaded. Sometimes, it’s the result of circumstances beyond our control. Often, however, it’s because of poor energy/time management on our part. As Momma said, “You’ve bitten off more than you can chew!”
This is particularly true for “can do” people with a bias for “yes.” They get a lot accomplished, and occasionally find themselves swamped in the process.  As one of those “can do – bias for yes” people, I’ve found myself in that condition numerous times along the way. I’ve gleaned a few insights from those experiences, and offer a few suggestions to consider when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
1)Ask yourself – “Why am I doing this?” We assume unnecessary responsibilities because we don’t want to disappoint someone, or because we haven’t mastered the art of gracious refusal. If you don’t have a good reason why you’re carrying the load, that’s a good clue that you shouldn’t have picked it up in the first place. Of course, if you made a…

His Bite is as Bad as 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…

Build a Fence of Trust

One day, after making a hospital visit in Duluth, Minnesota, I was drawn by the spire of the old First Presbyterian Church. A kind secretary opened up the sanctuary for me to sit and pray for a while.

 Gazing around, my eyes fell upon a beautiful stained glass window. It was the picture of a gravestone with dark purple and black hues overshadowing it. But at the top of the window, squarely in the center of a black night, shone a bright golden star -- which seemed to exude hope and light. The star was the focal point of the window.

 At the bottom, the following words were inscribed: In memory of Sarah Agnes Graff  1853-1889  Build a little fence of trust around today.  Fill the space with loving work and therein stay.  Look not through the sheltering bars upon tomorrow.  God will help thee bear whatever comes, of joy or sorrow.
I wondered what the story was behind Sarah Agnes Graff -- who passed into eternity at the tender age of 36. What was it about her that inspired such a beautiful wo…

Understand Your Board

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…

A Few Thoughts on Pastoral Prayers

If you are given the task to lead the congregation in prayer on Sunday morning, I encourage you to consider the following:

1) You are the representative of the people -- bringing their prayers and the concerns of their hearts before the Father. It is not just your own personal prayer -- so instead if saying, "God, I love you so much" say, "God, we are here to tell you how much we love you."

2) Be sure you don't pray the same phrases every time. Change it up. If you don't prepare and think about the prayer, you will automatically resort to old familiar cliches -- which wear out quickly in public usage.

3) Say "thank you" to God early in the prayer. "O Lord, we thank you today for providing strength, peace, and contentment for each moment. . ."

4) Don't preach at the congregation through the prayer. Don't yell. God is not hard of hearing. 

5) If you use an ancient or other written prayer -- let it stand alone. Don't add to it. If it…