Posts

Monday; October 16

Do we find ourselves lamenting how bad things have gotten?  While this can be discouraging when it comes to individual behavior, it is awful tempting to look at the Christian church as a whole (and even our individual congregations in particular) and be distressed by the folly we see.  What hope can we have for the future when things are as bleak as they are in the present? While there might be some logic in this negativism, it is important to remember that since the Lord’s church is made up of people there have always been problems.  One of the first great churches (Jerusalem) watched as two of their members were struck dead for lying.  The church in Corinth struggled with everything from overt immorality to idolatry to chaotic worship.  A church leader by the name of Diotrephes was so full of himself that he refused to accept the authority and teaching of the Apostle John.  Do our churches have problems – yes – but, that is nothing new to Christianity!   When Peter acknowledged that …

Friday; October 13

Have you ever heard of “second mile thinking”?  The idea is built around Jesus’ instruction in the Sermon On The Mount, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”.  (Matthew 6:38-42)  The basic concept is that when we voluntarily inconvenience ourselves to help others we find more joy in life.  This philosophy (which is being used in various industries and organizations) basically puts a new spin on service.  The other day I heard someone say, “You cannot enslave someone who volunteers to serve.”.  When we feel compelled to do something as a chore we are apt to feel burdened; but, when we make a choice that b…

Thursday; October 12

As we live our lives, what is our focus?  There are times when it is tempting to just float along on the river of life, but eventually we will have to make some choices about what is important.  I would like to think that most of us would put our relationship with God at the forefront, but what comes after that?   The other day I was reading and came across a compelling passage that reminds us, “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” (Romans 14:19)  As I considered this challenge from the Apostle Paul it got me to looking at my life and wondering if the things I am doing are drawing me closer to people or driving them further away?  Is my involvement in my job, my hobbies and my spiritual life designed in such a way that I am feeling closer to the people around me or more distant from them?  Are the discussions I have with people building a bridge or a barrier?  I should not abdicate my responsibilities to be true to my faith and my beli…

Wednesday; October 11

On July 2, 1881 President James Garfield was shot in Washington D. C. by Charles Guiteau.  There are several interesting aspects to this shooting – one was that President Garfield had been on the job for less than four months – but, the most compelling might be that had lived for seventy-nine days after being shot.  It wasn’t until September 19, 1881 that President Garfield succumbed to his injuries.  If you study this event in history a thought-provoking side note is how the medical practices of the day are often blamed for the president’s death.  In light of today’s advanced practices, many of the things done in 1881 were rudimentary at best and dangerous at worst.  I guess it is important to learn from history so that we don’t repeat it, but this is also vital to remember that “medicine” was not ultimately responsible for his death, the culpability lay squarely on the shoulders of his shooter.  The person accountable for the death of President Garfield was not a doctor who treated …

Tuesday; October 10

One of the things that seems to come out of times of national and international incidents is that everyone seems to feel compelled to chime in.  Another thing that seems to come out of times of national and international incidents is that the media feels the need to publish what some of these people say.  Over the last few weeks we have heard a lot of famous people chime in about the incidents and, while I believe that people should be able to make comments, we must be careful not to believe everything they say.  Just because someone with a recognizable name says something doesn’t mean that it is the truth or that we should automatically believe it. Now, you might think that I am about to blast the comments made by the rich and famous, but I am going to take this in a different direction.  You see, just like we shouldn’t believe everything someone famous says to us, we need to be cautious when we listen to some of the things that we say to ourselves.  Have you ever heard yourself tell …

Monday; October 8

When I was a youngster I was confronted with the reality that not everyone looked, acted or thought the same.  This wasn’t necessarily an easy lesson for me to learn, but through the influence of my teachers, mentors and professors I was shown how to deal with differences of opinions.  Honestly, I can’t tell you who taught me what and I can’t say that I have always abided by their principles, but as I look back there are some ideas that have stuck with me: 1.  Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.  We may not hold the same belief as others, but that doesn’t give us the right to be disrespectful.  Name-calling or belittling another person’s point has never settled an argument.  No, we don’t have to think the same way, but there is no excuse for being a jerk! 2.  Defend another’s right to express their position.  The First Amendment guarantees the legal right to express our ideas freely, but we have a deeper obligation to personally protect the right of others to express their bel…

Friday; October 6

When we read, are we looking to learn something or merely to reinforce what we already believe?  When we engage in a conversation, are we wanting to discover fresh ideas and new insights or are we merely hoping to convince someone of what we think? These questions tend to point to a common malady in today’s society, but the truth of the matter is that mankind has struggled with this for ages.  The wise man of the Old Testament challenged the princes of his day, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.” (Proverbs 18:2)  Since the creation of language man has been tempted to talk more than listen.  When I look back at some of the wisest people I know I realize they have also been some of the most controlled people I know.  Influence isn’t about using the most words, it is about making the most of the moment. Leaders aren’t introverts, but they were willing to wait their turn to speak and plan their message so that it will enhance the mood.  They didn…