Have you ever stepped in a hole? Hopefully you recovered quickly and had the presence of mind to look around to see if anyone was watching. Stepping in a hole is not a first choice. Bad things can happen when you step in a hole, even a little one. It is never done on purpose.
Once Dorothy and I were walking down the sidewalk in Baguio City, Philippines. Our ultimate destination that day was the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary. We were with a mission team from our church which included Mrs. Avo Boes, our church’s Woman’s Missionary Union Director. We had been serving a church in the northern Luzon area and were invited to take this side trip up near the volcano. Typical of most tourists, we were walking, talking and looking around at all of the sites and shops. Suddenly there was a squeal and Avo disappeared. When we looked down, she was shoulders high in a hole. She had stepped into an uncovered manhole in the middle of the sidewalk. Miraculously she was not hurt. We somehow extracted her from the hole and helped her assess the situation. Some scrapes and bruises were located; then she said she was ready to go on to the seminary. The infirmary there gave her a couple of Band-Aids and let her rest for a little while, but she didn’t want to miss a single thing. For the rest of the trip and for some time after, she noticed every manhole.
Temptation is like an open manhole in the sidewalk. Step in it once and you might just blame the manhole. Stepping in that same hole in the sidewalk again? Well that is a different story. How many times are you going to purposefully step into that open hole before you realize it’s you, not the hole that has the problem. A couple of solutions come to mind: take a different sidewalk, or get someone to help you put the lid over the hole.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Watch where you step. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
After completing the macramé phase of my life, I turned to cross-stitch, with an occasional adventure in needlepoint. After all, you can only make so many hanging flower pot holders for all of your friends and relatives. New friends and more relatives were gifted with little pictures, sayings and Christmas stitchery. Some were graciously received. I stitched one piece that is framed and hangs in my office. It is about four letter words.
English is a very rich language consisting of approximately one million words,* yet a handful of vulgarities seem to lace daily life with too much regularity. Why does it seem to take weeks and weeks to teach a child “please and thank you,” or “Yes, ma’am or No, sir,” and only one time for a misplaced ugly word to be instantly memorized and utilized by that same child? It is probably time to upgrade our use of the four letter word.
“Four Letter Words that Change the World”
Love. Hope. Care. Help.
Heal. Work. Play. Feel.
Duty. Home. Good. Kind.
Pity. Rest. Seek. Pray. Live.
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Speak true and holy. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
We seem to be the only house in our neighborhood with an outdoor nativity. Most of the houses around us are decorated with all kinds of lights and displays, with an occasional star mounted up high. Santa and the reindeer are everywhere. So are snowmen and miniature Christmas trees. But the display on your lawn or in your window does not mean much unless Christ is in your heart. So I look to some of my favorite carols to point the way to the newborn King.
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. The unsuspecting town, filled with grumbling taxpayers and weary travelers, becomes the focal point of God’s divine plan of redemption. The King is coming.
Come Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free. From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee. The King is born with a kingdom mission of forgiveness, salvation and grace. Cast your deepest, darkest burdens before Him, and He will give you rest.
O come, desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind. Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease; fill the whole world with heaven’s peace. The King, who is the Prince of Peace, longs to heal the broken hearted, mend broken relationships and fill the world with Good News of great joy. Trust His word. Trust His love.
Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break, for a slave is our brother, And in His name all oppression shall cease. The King’s life example, His unmatched wisdom, His cruel death on our behalf, and His resurrection overcoming all sin, guilt and even death itself, cause us to bow before The King of Kings on this O Holy Night.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Rejoice! Rejoice! And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
How well are you doing on your goals for 2013? Looking back over my notes from last year, I discovered I did pretty well in most of them, but slid backwards and into a ditch on a couple of others. I did a couple of rewarding things I did not know I would do when 2013 began, like deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and fly fishing in Virginia. I completed two complicated community assignments that have turned out well. (New goal: No new community assignments in 2014.) Dorothy and I discovered an amazing thing about goals—if you write down 5 or 10 goals and put them in a drawer somewhere, at the end of a year most of your goals will be achieved. It is not magic. It is inspiration. How do you set goals?
Broaden the definition of a goal. Some goals are wishes. Others are challenges. Do not limit your goals to finances, health and fun times. I use areas like family, projects, learning, spiritual growth, adventure, work and relationships. Naming a goal or two for each category gives me more than enough for a new year. What do you really want to do with your life? Pray about it. Write it down. Dream a little more about it. Then start living on purpose.
Narrow the target of a goal. The secret to having accomplished a goal is to make it very specific. Set a goal like, ‘Go fishing four times this year,’ ‘Read three books’ or ‘Have a family reunion.’ Lose weight, exercise more and earn more money are not goals. They just burden you down with guilt. Give up soft drinks, park the car farther away from the store, and have a spring yard sale are goals. Do not be afraid to launch out into the deep.
Review your goal. At some point it is good to take a look back to see where your life has gone in the past few months. Things happen. A crisis or two or three may show up. Are you spending your days battered by the winds, or resetting the sails? Press on toward the ultimate goal, the prize of the high calling of your life.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Set sail. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
I am always looking for time. That is because I am always losing it. Time that is. I think I have plenty of it, only to discover that it has gone, vanished. Turn around and where did it go? Where does time go? One person told me they are living on borrowed time. Another said they had too much time on their hands. Is that where it went, or did they just take time and not tell me? Where do I get time? Is there a workshop some place near here where I can possibly make time?
One day I found time. I confess. It was just there so I used it. I was waiting somewhere when I realized I had time—time to listen, time to learn, and time to think. It was great. I ought to do it more often. Now it is winter time. Ice and snow are on the way. At least I hope so, for that is a good time to find time. There is a downside to being shut in, like feeling lonely all by yourself, or, trapped with too many close relatives. But the break in the routine can give us the perspective to see the value of time well spent.
Time is not consistent. When absorbed in a project, book or activity, it speeds on by us. When burdened by conflict, illness or fear, it slows almost to a halt. Some nights I barely close my eyes before the alarm starts ringing. On other nights I hear every tick of our grandfather clock. Psalm 90 encourages us “to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” For me this means that I am to use well the time allotted to me today. Time is a gift of grace. Apply it with wisdom.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Find the time. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
Abram V Leonardson
Of all the books in my bookcases, one has a treasured place in my heart. It is called Bible Biographies, edited by Robert Sears and published in 1848. It belonged to Rev. Abraham V Leonardson, my grandmother’s grandfather on my mother’s side. He received it as a gift of appreciation in 1880. Abram Leonardson, as he called himself, was a Methodist circuit-riding pastor between the Civil War and World War 1. I have a couple of his Bibles, a small number of scrapbooks and this volume on the lives of the people of the Bible that is illustrated with hundreds of engravings. He and I are living about 100 years apart. He was licensed to the Gospel ministry in 1867 and I was licensed in 1966.
My great-great grandfather served churches in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. He would pastor as many as four churches at a time, preaching one Sunday a month at each, taking his wagon, later his buggy, to the next church. He is remembered fondly in some of the local church histories. He was also a writer and turned many of his thoughts into newspaper articles, which he kept in his scrapbooks. Many of the scrapbooks were lost to time but of the few that I possess I can say he focused his articles on holy living, temperance, and prayer. His Bibles are filled with sermon notes and outlines, and even the occasional illustration.
In many of his sermons he cried out against worldliness. He longed for people to find holiness. To him worldliness was another word for materialism. For our day materialism has been dressed up and passed off as consumerism. Move out of the way Thanksgiving, the world of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and consumer greed is heading for Christmas. Same old sin, just way more costly than ever.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Seek holiness this holiday season. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
Like everyone from my generation, I remember where I was fifty years ago today. As a charter member of the Baby Boomers, I was sitting in the school auditorium with a hundred or so classmates in our history class. Televisions were placed throughout the auditorium for a class with a public educational broadcast. As the TV host was talking about the violent nature of mankind, the camera focused on a model of a caveman with a club. Then the narrator stopped mid-sentence. The camera did not move. After a long pause he announced that a bulletin reported that the President had been shot. Immediately one of our teachers turned the channel to hear the report. We sat in disbelief. Finally the class bell rang and I went to last period, Latin. We talked about what was unfolding and waited together. Later the principal’s voice announced that President Kennedy had died in an assassination in Dallas. Class ended and we all went home to a very surreal weekend.
Like the generation before me who knew where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor, or the generation after me of students watching with great expectancy the launch of the space shuttle Challenger carrying a school teacher into space, or this generation’s horror we call 9.11, we can close our eyes and still see the events unfold as if they were yesterday. This week we are rummaging around in our memories of November 22, 1963. We are reflecting on the unanswered questions of that day and the
“what if’s” of shattered lives. Walter Cronkite, wiping his eyes with the telling of the news, mirrors our own grief in the retelling of these events.
Now Thanksgiving Day is before us. The holiday season is already in full swing. For too many there is an empty chair at the table this year where once there was a love. We remember our own turning points of shattered dreams and anniversaries of pain that time really has not taken away. Dying is a part of living, but our stories do not stop with the tears. Living is hard on us, yet we are a people of hope and faith. We are loved with an everlasting love. No matter what has come, or what may come, God is always with us!
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Joy comes in the morning. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.