Category Archives: Uncategorized

Courage in the Face of Cancer

I hope you’ll find this story as inspirational as I did. I ran across it while visiting HelpOthers.org.

I work at a Care Center where most of the people are elderly. About a year and a half ago a 59 year-old lady came to us who had cancer. She had to have her right leg amputated and she didn’t have a family to take care of her after the operation.

This lady was a quiet lady who mostly stayed to herself. But in the afternoons, when she was feeling well, she would go visit the other residents in the home. She would visit a lady who was blind and read to her. She would go into the room of a young girl with severe cerebral palsy and sing to her. In her quiet gentle way, she would go about the Care Center doing good.

She passed away last Wednesday and after her passing, stories are coming forward of her quiet acts of kindness in her own hour of sorrow.

We never know what impact we have upon others. She had every reason to be bitter, to be angry, or to be swallowed up in her own grief.  But she wasn’t. She didn’t have a family and probably felt forgotten, but her small and quiet acts of service made an impact upon the entire Care Center.

Each of us are better people for having known her. We have pledged to be more aware of the service that we can offer to others.

What an amazing outlook on life! She had every reason not to love and serve, yet she did. Small, silent acts of service speak volumes about a person’s character.

Do you share the same attitude? What things tend to paralyze you from serving and loving others?

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Filed under Challenges, making a difference, selflessness, Serving Others, Uncategorized

Are Dogs the Best Christians?

The epitome of a Christian?

There is an unfortunate myth that perpetuates itself throughout church communities. It can be fairly well summed up in an old saying I once heard: “I don’t drink, smoke, chew, or date girls that do.” The myth is that Christians are just supposed to stay away from a lot of things and they’ll be good.

Don’t drink. Don’t lie. Don’t have premarital sex. Don’t cheat. Don’t gamble. Don’t…..and the list grows depending on which church you attend.

Unfortunately, many people ascribe to this belief. But, that is NOT Christianity. If it were, your dog would be the best Christian around. He doesn’t cuss. He doesn’t get drunk. He doesn’t go out doing bad things. What a great dog! He’s so good.

But no, that is not Christianity. Paul addressed this issue in the letter to the Galatians. Listen to what defines a Christian life for Paul.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,         faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

Paul is telling them that their individual lives and their community (the “church”) should be defined by these things. How many people in your community, when asked to describe your church, would even mention this list?

Fact is, we spend so much time trying to “overcome” sin on our own that we miss out on the fruit of our relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Abiding in Christ, relationship with God – that is what produces that fruit Paul talks about.

And I found this interesting: The word “fruit” in Paul’s passage is singular. Love, joy, peace, etc. is one package. They are not just a bunch of individual things we work really hard on. They are a bundle of fruit blossoming from the vine. Think of it like a bunch of grapes. One fruit, just a bunch of it. That’s the fruit of the Spirit.

What if our church was known for its love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? People long for that kind of community. Instead, we spend the majority of our time focused on the “shall nots.”

Do you see this fruit in your life?

Does your Christianity consist mostly of no’s?

Do you abide in Christ each day or work on your own power?

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Filed under christian, Scripture, Uncategorized

Redeeming Time

We all wish we could add time to our day. The reality is…we can’t. It’s just not possible.

But, what we can do is make intentional efforts to make the most of the time we have. This is part 4 in thinking through time management. You can find the first three parts here, here, and here.

Today’s post is an easy read. Here’s a simple list of things you could do to free up time to show people God’s love.

  1. One Minute Email Rule: My email is a complete fail. I have thousands of emails just taking up space in my inbox. I can’t remember where I read this rule, but I love it and I’m going to give it a shot. Open your email and do one of three things. First, if it’s trash, delete it. Second, if you can respond in under a minute, do it and put it in a “processed” folder. Don’t put it off. Third, if it requires more attention, then put it on your list of things to do. The reality is most email requires a minute or under to respond. Simply clearing out those emails will make you vastly more efficient and disciplining yourself to respond immediately means less people go unanswered.
  2. Schedule Time to Serve: Most of us have good intentions. We want to serve, but our week is packed. BUT, most of us have no idea what we’ll be doing June 5 (pick any random day in the future). Sign up for Habitat for Humanity, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or whatever. Just put it on the calendar. Make it part of your schedule and that will give you time to find a babysitter or get other work accomplished. Make serving a priority by intentionally scheduling.
  3. Make the Most of Meals: A common refrain I hear from pastors and leaders is that they have no time. But we eat don’t we? You’ve got three meals a day. Make the most of that meal by not going it alone. Invite someone to lunch. Meet someone for breakfast. Welcome another family into your home for dinner. Some of the best conversations people have are around meals. It’s a chance to listen to people, learn who they are, and you may learn of a need you could meet.
  4. Serve as a Family: Many times, especially at churches, we separate our families. One night, dad will go somewhere. The other night, mom…and so on. Seek out, discover, and invent ways to serve and volunteer together. I recently heard a friend of mine whose family sponsored a cookout to raise money for people in Haiti. That’s a great way to not only serve, but also to invest in your family. Time well spent.

Those are just four simple ways to start getting the most out of your time. There are a million more out there on the internet, but those hit home with me.

Got any time management tips that you think are essential? Don’t be bashful, share them!

Have a great day and don’t forget to ask yourself the question:

How can I Become Last today?

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The ‘Why’ of Faithfulness

Faithfulness is one of those words we have to be careful with. As Christians, we have a tendency to cut things out of Scripture and then assign our own meanings to them. Oftentimes, when we discuss faithfulness, we jump right into our own responsibilities and duties toward God. We figure out when, how, and in what way we must obey. And this is all good, we should be faithful. But what we often forget is why…

The ‘why’ is just as and probably more important than anything else. It’s the reason and the foundation for our faithfulness. Without the why our faithfulness is futile and our efforts will only lead to exhaustion and frustration.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Faithfulness is a fruit of our relationship with God. This list in Galatians was not meant for Christians to parse out all the words and figure out ways in which they can make themselves more faithful, gentle, or loving. Paul was telling the Galatians that these things come from a relationship with God.

Our Christian lives begin at the cross with the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. We worship Him for His sacrifice, His love, and His mercy. But then we tend to drift. We move away from the power of Christ and the love of God into a me-centered religion of “I’ve got to do this for God. I’ve got to be faithful.”

God certainly wants our obedience. He loves faithfulness, but we must not ever rely on our own efforts to make ourselves good. When Peter walked on water, he was focused on Christ. It was when he turned and focused on the wind and waves that he fell. I can almost hear him thinking, “Jesus called me out here, but it’s windy and stormy. I’m scared, but I’ll try really hard. Maybe I can make myself buoyant.” Of course, that didn’t work. He sank. Focusing on Christ allowed him to be faithful as he walked across the water.

As we seek to love others, remember to cling to the one who sacrificed his life for you. Remember, it is He who gives you the strength, perseverance, and passion to be faithful. We should be like the psalmist who shouts:

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  Psalm 63:8

* This post was part of a blog carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read other posts on faithfulness, click here.

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Take a Time Inventory

This week, we’re taking a look at time management. If we’re going to effectively love and serve others, time is a resource we need to make the most of!

In this first post, I want to encourage you to fight the idea of time apathy. DO NOT settle for doing just o.k. or even good. I’m fond of the saying, “Good is often the enemy of the best.” You’re on this planet for a reason (several, really). But so often, we become content just doing things the way they’ve always been done. We get used to living our life a certain way and it becomes comfortable.

I heard a great illustration yesterday. Apparently, there is a sign on an Alaskan highway that reads, “Choose your rut carefully. You’ll be in it for the next two hundred miles.” Yikes! That’s also a pretty accurate description of the way we use our time. Being creatures of habit, it’s important for us to constantly reflect on our time usage and see where it could change.

Maybe Your Day Looks Like This

In order to do that, we need to take a time inventory.

They say the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. This is why it’s so important to count up our time. Seriously, this may seem basic or tedious, but until you figure out where your time is going you’re never going to be able to maximize its effectiveness.

To do this, take a 7 day week and count how you spend your hours. Don’t make a schedule, just divvy out the hours. Here’s an example:

There are 168 hours in a week so we start with that. Now, how do we use them? Your numbers may vary from mine, but you’ll get the point.

8 hours of sleep per night = 56 hours
8 hours a day at work for 5 days = 40 hours (most people work more)
Time spent preparing, eating, and cleaning meals = 11 hours
Time spent driving (commuting, going to friends, church, etc…) = 12 hours
Time spent watching tv or movies (if you don’t watch tv, insert whatever hobby you have) = 20 hours
Church/Religious activity/Volunteering = 7 hours
Recreation with family/friends = 8 hours
Time on Internet (News, Email, Facebook, etc) = 14

Clearly, those are just rough estimates. They vary from person to person. But think about how you spend an average week. Count up those hours and see what you do. Make sure it adds up to 168. Try to be as accurate as possible even if takes you a few minutes to think through each thing you do. You may be amazed at how much time you spend in certain areas!

A few months ago, I realized I spent 15 minutes of my morning on the internet (games, Facebook, sports, news) before work. I did this 3 times a week. That’s 45 minutes. I challenged myself to use that time in some other way. I could pray, write someone an encouraging note, read the Bible, clean up for my wife. The options are limitless. Sad to say, it’s much easier to get on the internet and so most of the time I do! I’m still working to change that, but I never would have realized it had I not done some self-examining.

That’s the point. We must know where our time is going. Challenge yourself to count your time up honestly. Maybe I’m alone. Maybe I’m the only one who feels he wastes our most valuable resource. But, I expect some of you will do a double take as you count up your hours. Regardless, you’ll find this exercise to be useful guide as we discover more practical advice each day.

Besides sleep and work, where did you find most of your time went?

Did you discover anything shocking?

Am I a nutball for counting up my time? (don’t answer that!)

Do you think you could use your time more effectively?

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Filed under Challenges, Time, Uncategorized

Death in Nigeria

A child in Abuja, Nigeria

My small little world is being expanded these days. In earlier years, world news didn’t matter much to me. It was distant, foreign, and seemed irrelevant. Lately, though, my soul just hurts when I read some of the news reports from other countries. We have had the earthquakes in Haiti and Chili. There are always people dying of hunger and thirst (that alone is crazy and sad). Then, there are news stories like I read today.

According to the article, there were over 200 dead and 32 injured in Nigeria last night. From an earthquake? No. Drought? No. Hunger? No.

It seems these people were killed by a machete-wielding group who set fire to houses and businesses and hacked people to death with the machetes. That’s hard to even process.

Can you imagine waking up at 3am to attackers in your village? Then, for 2.5 hours, seeing people you know and the place you live terrorized? Unimaginable.

You can read the article and form your own opinions as to why this happened. It just befuddles me that events like this happen.

There’s no word on how many kids were hurt or left orphaned by the attacks. Where would the orphans? Do they have anywhere to turn?

It’s time like these that I really esteem those who sacrifice their lives in America to go and help people in need in other countries.

As you get back to work this Monday, take time to pray for these people. Pray for those whose family was killed. Pray for aid to arrive in that town. Pray for safety for those people. Pray that the violence would stop. Pray for those who commit such atrocities, that their hearts would be changed.

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Humility

There’s been one word that won’t escape my mind recently: humility. It’s one of those words we use a lot, but is typically left up to the interpretation of the one using it. We all have this idea of humility in our minds. We can see it being displayed and recognize it, but it’s difficult to define.

Even more difficult is recognizing that we are often not nearly as humble as we wish ourselves to be. Maybe we don’t stare at ourselves in the mirror in vain. Maybe we don’t spend our time bragging over our accomplishments. At first glance, it’s easy to come off as fairly humble, but are we really?

Some things to think on:

Do you feel the need to one up? I had a conversation recently where, no matter what I said, the guy would come back with a bigger, badder story. “Disc golf? I used to be ranked in the state!” “Baseball? I hit over .400 one time until the coach sat me down for some reason, but I was so good” “Hopscotch? National Champion in 4th grade…” O.k., kidding about the hopscotch, but there was always this tension of him wanting to one up any part of the conversation. I’m completely guilty of this sometimes. I think we just have this tendency to feel validated and so we look for ways to share our exploits. You want to make someone feel good? If they are excited about their accomplishment or something their kid did, just affirm them. Be excited for them. Don’t just look for the next opportunity to jump in with your even crazier, awesome story.

Do you compare yourself to others? Many times people think about this in physical terms. That’s certainly true. But, I’m more referring to when we verbally use other people as affirmation that we are better. Recently, it’s Pat Buchanan and Tiger Woods. If you want to score some points with the crowd you are around, just throw out a random Buchanan or Woods bashing statement. It automatically sets up this moral hierarchy where you are above them. We’re always going to talk about the news and that’s not necessarily wrong. But here’s the question. Do people’s moral failings tend to validate your own self-righteousness or do they remind you of how easily we can screw up? I think a proper response to stuff like that is worship. “God, I screw up all the time. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy.” Humility doesn’t use others to prop itself up.

Humility is certainly not self-hatred. We can be proud of our accomplishments. We can even hold each other accountable, but I think we have more of a tendency to automatically assume we are humble rather than think about it.

Have a great Thursday.

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