Archive for June, 2014

Lamenting

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

complainLast week two guys were sitting in the steam room at the Y discussing their consternation over the room not being hot enough to suit them.  There wasn’t enough sweat to drip. Oh, the agony and disappointment of it all!  I was one of them.  About that time a woman came in and immediately said, “Gee, not much steam in here; do you fellows mind if I open the door to trigger the thermostat?”   Thank God for sending the woman; she saved the day!  We soon had plenty of steam, sweat and humility.   The truth is I had actually thought about getting a cup of cool water to throw on the thermostat but I didn’t have a cup. It never entered my mind to simply open the door.

So often we go through life lamenting this or that, but doing absolutely nothing to make our situations any better. Instead, we settle for our default setting which, more often than not, tends to be the complaining one. That also happens to be the one that requires the fewest functioning brain cells.

So, here is my take away from my steam bath: When life doesn’t suit you do something besides complain. Secondly, the simplest solution is usually the best solution.

Something to think about

 

Rationalizing

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

lance-armstrong-livestrong-shirt-1Often in my messages, I’ll talk about my “rationalizing machine” as a means of illustrating how easy it is to con ourselves into thinking our bad is really good. While working on a project, I compiled a list of some of my classic rationalizations. Some were quite harmless; others were not. Several were mean. Nearly all were sins.

As fallen human beings we have the unique ability of conning ourselves into actually believing that our bad is OK. Humans are the only creatures on earth that do that.  Since we seem to behave that way with such regularity, perhaps we are trying to make up for the critters that don’t have this ability.  Not sure about that, but I do know that when we flip the switch on our rationalizing machines to full blast, we are capable of off the chart conduct which often comes back to bite us in the butt.

When we let our own miscalculations, projections, hate, envy,  or insecurities float our boat, the boat invariably goes aground and the damage is always pretty extensive to ourselves. How many lives have been irreparably changed by things that made so much sense at the time?

The moral of this story is that rationalizing machines always lie; so beware when you turn yours on because bad is never good and things done in darkness are most always bad. Just like the sun, sooner or later the light will be turned on so that all can see.

Something to think about

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Head of the Stream

Monday, June 16th, 2014

yangtze-river-headwaters-rapidsI ran into, Bill, one of my old friends from Father Ryan High School at McDonald’s Saturday morning just after six.  He had a long face because he had lost his wallet the night before.  As he was getting ready to leave for his brother’s house, he had received a phone call. When he answered he put his wallet on top of his car and forgot it. He then drove off.  At his destination he realized what he had done. Bill retraced his route Friday evening and again at first light on Saturday without finding the missing wallet. As he was telling me about it, he mentioned that he had prayed to St. Anthony for help in the recovery. I replied that I was sure St. Anthony  was a wonderful man but that he was just a person with no power to help him.  I suggested that he cut out the middle management folks and go directly to the top by praying to Jesus for help. He replied that his mother had taught him to, “pray to St. Anthony whenever you lose something”. At that point I paused for a second and asked Jesus to help him find the wallet.  We then went our separate ways.

As I was driving along Hwy 100 I thought I caught a glimpse of a wallet on the side of the road. I tried to talk myself out of turning around and going back. But I could not. At that point I had an overpowering certainty that I had seen a wallet. When I got back down the road there it was. I was praising Jesus as I picked it up. Empty! The air quickly left my balloon. Then I looked down into the ditch and saw what looked like credit cards and a driver’s license. When I picked up the license there was Bill’s picture. I called to tell him the good news. His first words were, “you are lying”. I then offered to read him his Visa number. I told him to come meet me in the ditch. When he arrived we were able to find all of the contents. The takeaways are two. Never put a wallet on the roof of your car but if you do always go to the Head of the stream first thing!

 Something to think about

Vitamins

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

037At the Y, on the check-in desk, there is a small plastic bucket containing what they call “Spiritual Vitamins”. In reality, they are small multi-color slips of paper with assorted Bible verses printed on them. As folks come and go  some will grab a “vitamin”. It is amazing how they can speak to me. This morning mine read, “Let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).  As I was working out, I began to think of the implications for the world if everybody heeded that simple ten word command.

Instantly, most of our problems would be solved. There would be no war, hate, lies, envy, lust, pride, hidden agendas, broken relationships, crime, greed, abuse, betrayal, or selfishness. In short there would be no sin. We would have no need for locks,  cops, guard dogs, prisons, lethal injections, NSA, CIA or the FBI. Sadly, on a global scale, thousands of years of recorded history demonstrate that, more often than not, folks have failed miserably to adhere to that particular Biblical vitamin.

As I moved to the bench press, I shifted the context of my thinking from global to personal. While adjusting the weights, I realized that I am one of those aforementioned folks with an “F”.  Most of the time I do pretty well, but the ten words on the “vitamin” are not about most of the time, nor are they about “global”. They are personal. They are about me and how I choose to spend my time.  Each of my days is my choice. Will I obey God or not?

Something to think about

http://www.nashvillecrossroad.com/

Change

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

imagesI seldom like change at first.  Seems like my defenses always go up when I sense that change is coming.  Then nine times out of ten, after the change, I see and feel the benefits.  Like  a few years ago I finally got enough of being jerked around by my cable provider and switched.   I  had held on to it way too long simply because, as bad as it was, I knew how to use it. My bad.

Many of us spend great quantities of time thinking about making tweaks in our lives that require change of more or less degrees. We can talk a good game, but we also know that most change is going to involve pain for us and often for others.  It is miles and miles from talk to action. Sadly, many of us don’t make it that far. Quite often, when we began the journey of change, we may have to pull some scabs off.  When you mess with a scab, you bleed a little and sometimes stuff oozes out, but a while down the road you feel much better.

It is interesting that the older I get the more introspective I have become.  I seem to be noticing areas of life that I need to do differently. Most often they are simple tweaks like rearranging my office; sometimes they have been major shifts in how I do life. In the last several years, my changes, both major and minor have served me well.  I expect that maybe you have some areas of your life that need some change too. Maybe it is the area of anger, resentment, pride or envy.  Perhaps for you, it has to do with remorse or shame or maybe guilt or fear that someone will find out and won’t love you anymore.  It could be anything, but I expect we all could do with a few changes.

Perhaps you need to do what many of us have had the courage to do.  Say, “God I’ve had enough, I’m powerless over me”. I found that God isn’t powerless over me or any problem in my life. If we are willing to allow God to work his changes in our lives, then a while down the road, there will come a morning when you look into the mirror, you will see the man/woman you always wanted to be. Only through change does that miracle take place.