Tag Archives: life

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

15 and Gone – Why?

Tragedy.

It’s the only word that can describe a 15 year old’s death.

After months of bullying and harrasment, on Jan. 14, Phoebe Prince chose to end her life.

Heartbreaking.

There are so many questions. Why? What made her feel as if there was no hope? Could it have been prevented?

I don’t know if we’ll ever have all the answers. All we know is that at some point she was pushed to the edge by the constant torment of kids who chose her as the target of their derision.

In 2006, there were 33,000 suicides in the United States. 594,000 others were treated for self-afflicted injuries.

Many of these people may have friends and family who stood steadfastly beside them through thick and thin, but many don’t.

Every suicide can’t be prevented, but I just wonder what statistical change would happen if we as “the church” took to intentionally noticing and loving people who are being pushed to the edge. Too often, our friends consist of people who look and sound an awful lot like us. I admit. That describes me in a lot of ways.

Jesus stood with the downtrodden. He healed the sick. He found himself confronted with a lot of messy situations. But he looked neither left nor right. He refused to overlook, ignore, or forget about them. Instead, he graciously provided for their phsyical and spiritual needs.

Now, we’re no Jesus. But we can love people. The question is: Are we willing to?

Phoebe’s death is a sad, tragic reminder that our world is broken. Please pray for her family as they cope with the loss of their daughter.

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Filed under In the News, making a difference

Time Reveals Our Priorities

This week, time management has been the theme. We all have many ideas about what we want our lives to be like, but sometimes we get swamped. Yesterday, we took a time inventory. Today, we ask ourselves an important question:

Does the way we use our time match what we claim to value?

We’re all familiar with the saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Our priorities and values can normally be understood by looking at how we spend our money. I believe the same holds true for how we spend our time.

Think of it this way. I tell my wife I love her. I could text it to her, say it to her, email it to her, and shout it from the rooftops. But what if I went out and spent all my time with other girls? What if I never opened the car door for her, helped clean up the house, or bragged on her to friends? We all show love in different ways, but wouldn’t she begin to question my love if I never showed it. Love is more than words. It means sacrificing your time, priorities and rights on behalf of another.

Take a minute. Brainstorm. What do you value? What are you passionate about? Write it down.

Yesterday, you wrote down how you spent your time. Do the two lists match? If not, why not?

If we say that family is really important to us, but we find we never spend time with our kids, is it true?
If we say God is important and never spend time with Him, is that true?
If we claim to love the poor and needy, but do nothing for them, is it true?

I know work takes up a huge part of our week, but how we spend the rest of our time does say something about us.

What does your time say about you?

Tomorrow, we look at being intentional with our time. Hope to see you back.

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Filed under Challenges, Time

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

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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Filed under Uncategorized

Are You Called?

I subscribe to a newsletter from the Daily Good. Each day, they’ll send a quote and an inspirational story. For the most part, it’s pretty good stuff. Today, the quote resonated with me.

Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.

Augustine of Hippo

Pay attention to what Augustine is saying here. We can’t help everyone. Most of us know that. We have limitations like money and time. We’d love to help, but it’s just not possible. But here’s where Augustine differs from our normal thinking.

He’s saying, we may not be able to help everyone, but there are people specifically designed for us to help. And they aren’t hidden.

They are right in front of us.

For whatever reason, we like to complicate things. We make loving others more difficult than it should be in a variety different ways. But the one I’ve been thinking about lately has been “the calling”. Normally, this calling is thought to be accompanied by a “sign” or “feeling”. I want to be careful, because I think we can be called to do certain things, but hear me out.

I’ve told this story before, but when I was in college there were many times I didn’t exactly want to go to class. I’d get in my car and brainstorm plenty of reasons why I shouldn’t go. I would go so far as to search for a sign not to go. I’d say to myself, “If I get stopped by a red light, that’s it” or “If I circle the lot twice and there’s not spots, I’m gone.” Of course, the lights would be green and there would always end up being a great spot! I’d know the right thing to do, but I would search for a reason not to do it.

Unknowingly, I think we do this same thing when it comes to laying down our lives for others. We want to have a holy heart attack when we see someone or get that really big gut feeling or have something miraculous happen to confirm that we should indeed help them. Again, I’m not saying there aren’t times people are called, but I think there should be a better way of determining to help someone lest we get our signals mixed up with indigestion.

The awareness of a need and the capacity to meet that need: This constitutes a call.

John R. Mott

There is some wisdom to what Mott says there. Obviously, we can not help everyone. However, there are needs that are placed in our lives on a daily basis that we may overlook or leave for someone else. Sometimes God calls people to be the answer to a prayer.

How intentional are you about listening for needs?

Do you find yourself waiting for that calling when maybe it’s right there in front of you?

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Filed under Challenges, Excuses, making a difference, Realizations, Serving Others, Uncategorized, Websites