Archive for October, 2014

Handling Nerves

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles DodgersFew people in the South follow baseball much but the seventh game of a world series is something really special. Last night during the National Anthem as the camera focused on the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner I wondered how he would handle the incredible pressure he would surely face if called on to save the game. Obviously he handled it well with a performance for the ages.

Twenty plus years ago I delivered my first church message. When I’m really nervous I sweat —- a lot. That day torrents of sweat actually dripped off my glasses onto my outline. It is funny to think about it now but at the time it was humiliating. At the time I worked for a pastor who was an outstanding speaker and mentor. Later he told me that he never walks out to deliver a message that he is not nervous. I thought he was kidding, but he assured me that he was not. I now know from experience that he was not.

I learned a lot from that man.  One of the most important lessons was that it is OK to admit that you have butterflies. In other words, being outstanding in your field and a case of nerves are not mutually exclusive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank God! In fact, my life experiences since that day seem to indicate that the people who learn how to deal with their nerves are the ones who also make the most impacts on their world.

Something to Think About

Isolated

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

mobile food_180867803-thumb-380xauto-3210I’m having lunch at Wendy’s. Across from me, there is a couple with a little boy about five; he is watching a movie on a device. Mom and dad are both playing with their smartphones.  Occasionally, one will show the other something on their screen and they will laugh and then go about their separate “smarting”. The entire time they have been over there, other than telling the little boy to stop kicking the table, they have ignored their son. He looks bored and left out as his parents continue to be enmeshed with their screens.

Honesty requires me to tell you that I have been guilty of the same thing. If you spot it you’ve got it, I guess. There is no question, that one of the greatest causes of social ills in this country is our lack of personal communication. Until recently, one of the few places folks actually talked to each other was when eating together. With the near universal preponderance of digital devices, that bastion is now gone.

According to Pew Research today 91% of adult Americans have cell phones; yet, we are perhaps more isolated than at any time in human history.

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Always a Bad Choice

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

6a00d83451b3c669e20163032690e4970d I was at the Y reading the Tennessean, which I must say seems to be getting better. There were three women at the next table. The youngest of the three,  who was attractive and in shape, said her “good byes” and made her way to the exit.  Suddenly one of the remaining women said, “Jan is looking amazing”. The other replied, “Yes and I look like the old woman who lived in the shoe”. I laughed out loud!

Reminded me of my late mom. A few years before she passed at 92, I visited her and she described with excitement and joy the details of a baby shower: the goings on, the gifts, the people she met and how sweet and attractive they all were.  It was obvious that she had enjoyed herself and had a very good time.  Then out of the blue, she said, “But I looked like crap”.  The truth was she did not.  On the contrary, mom was a very attractive ninety year old woman.

Like most everything, looking like the old woman who lived in the shoe or looking like crap is relative.  I think what the lady at the Y and my mom were saying was, “compared to all those younger folks I looked old.”  For some reason, many of us seem to have an innate ability to put ourselves down.  That is one of the reasons why the Bible says it is not a good idea to compare ourselves to anyone else. Galatians 6:4 (TLB) Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work well done and won’t need to compare himself with someone else.  If we look with open eyes, we will always find somebody who looks better, is smarter or is more talented.  That fact in no way means that we are less than they are.  It means “they are them and we are us.”

I’ll never forget a Christmas bonus I got in the early seventies. I was blown away by the generosity of my boss. At the time it was the most money I had ever had at one time. Life was as good as it gets until I learned that someone else got more.  Instantly, my gratitude and elation turned to envy and agitation.  Suddenly, I felt like crap too. Comparing is always a bad choice.

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The Heart of Christ

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

wahabuWhile reading David’s Pratt’s book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream  I recalled an email a friend had sent me years ago. In it he said that his “passion in life is to seek the heart of Christ”.  I can’t say anyone had ever said that to me before; albeit, I’ve read the phrase in religious books. Prominent Christian thinkers down through the ages wrote about it — St. Paul, Augustine, and Thomas Merton to mention a few. David Pratt’s book is all about it. I’ve heard preachers talk about it, usually in esoteric terms requiring more effort to grasp than I was willing to give at the time.  “The heart of Christ” — what exactly does that mean?   Is it a meaningless clique?  Is it more?  Can mere mortals actually have the “heart of Christ”?

I’ve come to the conclusion that to have the heart of Christ is not technically possible on earth. To have it would require perfection. Paul tells us that only comes in heaven. However, I’m just as sure that we can come reasonably close. I am confident that “reasonably close” is what all of these men meant when they wrote about the “heart of Christ”.

For me to have the “heart of Christ”, I must strive for a Jesus style of personal unselfishness and devotion to God. I must become “others focused and God focused” instead of “me focused”. The implications for my life, if I should actually flip-flop that setting, are enormous. Am I willing to let others go before me? What about my plans and priorities?  They will have to come second, third or even further down the chain.  To have the “heart of Christ” requires a radical compassion of a constant outpouring of one’s self to benefit others along with a primary  devotion to God. Without both our “Christianity” is not the Christianity that Jesus himself founded.  Every Christian I know starting with me is in violation of the very first commandment that the Lord God gave Moses. “You shall have no other gods before me”. Our very own wills have become the chief of an assortment of false gods that we daily worship ahead of the Writer of that direct command from on high.

It is like football. When I spend more time reading, thinking, talking and watching football than I do with God, I certainly do not have the heart of Christ and neither do you. For us to actually have Christ’s heart,  first and foremost, He would have to be the Lord of our lives. As long as He is playing second fiddle to any person, place, or thing He ain’t.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got quite a ways to go.

Something to Think About