Category Archives: Spiritual Life

Never Give Up

When I was much younger, I used to do some crazy stuff. I really enjoyed off road three wheeling—did it on a Honda 250 SX. I however, had just a tad more sense than this guy.

Honda 250 SX
Honda 250 SX

We were riding in a dry lake bed in Finger Lakes State Park, Columbia, Missouri. There were quite a few people riding that day, but one in particular caused us to just stop, sit back, and watch in amazement. He was riding a Suzuki QuadRacer. No Helmet, no protective gear, just jeans and a t-shirt. Like a madman, he headed his bike up this hill. Well, no, hill really isn’t the right word. It was more like the mesas in Utah. It was over 100 feet high and very steep, even at the bottom. But worse, the last 20 feet or so at the top was essentially a vertical climb. To make it onto the top you had to have enough speed at the top to push your bike into the air at least until your rear wheels cleared the top, and then hope that your arc in the air was toward the top and not away.

Suzuki QuadRacer
Suzuki QuadRacer

He did pretty good…until he lost his forward momentum. Both he and the bike quite dramatically tumbled and rolled back down the side of the hill. That should have been it, but no, he set his bike back on its wheels and immediately took off up the hill, again. And then, that’s right, he and the bike came tumbling back down the hill, again. That gave him pause. He looked at the bike, looked up the hill, looked at the bike, looked up the hill, then flipped his bike right side up and sped toward the top, again.

Amazingly, this time he made it. He however, had shown wanton disregard for his safety and for the preservation of his bike. It was totally crazy. And yet, as with many things, there is another hand. The positive that you can take away from this story is that he displayed a dogged determination to accomplish his goal.

It is with this dogged determination that we must face the trials in our lives. When we lose our forward momentum, we may crash and burn, but we get up and try again. We cannot stop when we fear we might not make it. We cannot back away just because we fear getting hurt. We cannot look at our situation and conclude that we are too exposed or unprotected to go on. We may pause to consider, but we cannot concede. We must take life as it comes, and never give up, never give in.

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Lessons From a Ball Diamond

Baseball Graphic_jpg_475x310_q85

Lynn did something that I have never forgotten—and never will. It happened on a ball diamond a long time ago. Lynn was our 3rd baseman and I was the team bench warmer. Yes, that means that he was really good, and I was really not so good. I could do pretty well with a bat, but my ball handling skills were fairly non-existent. I had no arm, so the outfield was out. Ball handling was critical to first base, short stop, and third; so that is why I was a second baseman whenever I got to play.

This was a church team, playing in a local underhand softball league. I don’t remember all the circumstances leading up to this, but I was on the field, and the coach was pulling me out. It was a real bummer. I was walking toward the bench. Lynn looked at me, motioned to third base, and walked off the field ahead of me. No words—just actions. Actions say so much more.

That impressed me to no end—a lasting impression that has been with me for close to 40 years. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this one simple event that only took a few seconds to play out. I could fill the page with the list and its application. Things like principles of friendship, selflessness, importance of winning, priorities in sports, principles of coaching, the importance of the simple things, and you never know how the simplest act can affect someone for a lifetime. This article could go off into many different directions. I just want to leave it at this. I’m sure something here strikes a chord with many of you. You can take it from here. Leave a comment about the chord it strikes with you.

Happiness

If you marry to find happiness, you will simply go from being an unhappy single person, to an unhappy married person. It is not your spouse’s responsibility to make you happy.

Everyone wants to be happy, but many look for that happiness outside of themselves; as if it is something that can be delivered to them, or provided for them; something that they will find from their situation or the people in their lives. In reality, happiness is a choice each of us make. You can choose to be happy, or you can choose to be unhappy. There is nothing and no one that can make you happy. Happiness, contentment, joy—they come from God, and they come from within.

How do you make this choice? You must choose to dwell on the good things, and let go of the bad.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)

You can choose to be happy, or you can choose to worry, fret, and stew over every problem in your life. Nothing destroys happiness like worry. Worry is the most counterproductive thing you can do.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Present your problems to God, and then leave them there. Don’t try to take them back by worrying about them—leave them with Him. Then, while you are dwelling on the good things, begin to count those good things. Purposefully begin to number the many blessings that have come your way. The traditional hymn, “Count Your Blessings”, says it quite well:

“Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

It is so much easier to remember the bad events. We can keep them in our minds without any effort. To overcome that negative tendency takes a conscience effort of choice on two fronts—don’t dwell on the bad, and remember the good.

When you spend your time thinking about the good things, you won’t have time to think about the bad. Your whole life will take on a much more positive perspective. When you dwell on the good things, you are dwelling on God. When you dwell on God, He will bring you peace. Dwelling on God is praying. Through prayer the answers to the problems will come.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.”

Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)

Time Settings

I have a bad cold today. Makes all the resting necessary from the back surgery seem a little more necessary. Thought I would catch up on a few things. So I’ve been working on WordPress settings, Facebook settings, all the while learning a bit more about both. My computer has been acting up–going slow, locking up–so I went through the program list to look for anything that shouldn’t be there. Didn’t find anything obviously wrong, but I ended up deleting a lot of old stuff I never use anymore. Programs just sitting there, taking up space, maybe even slowing things down. Was having trouble with Firefox, so I finally decided to restore it to a previous configuration–amazing how much better it’s running now.

It’s just like life. Sometimes you just need to take the time to examine your settings. How are the priorities? Got the right things turned on and the wrong things turned off? What is taking up space in your life and maybe wasting your time? Learned anything new lately? Self examination can be a lot harder than figuring out a computer problem, but just as necessary to keep everything in the proper working order.

Incredible how many things can work their way into your life, and then just end up wasting so much time. Doesn’t have to be a lot of things, could just be one thing–a bad habit can be like that. I’ve a friend who once wrote that time lost to addictions is one of the really big reasons to get rid of them. All the time spent with an addiction is time during which nothing is accomplished. Regardless of whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent, regardless of whether it’s a sin or not, look at how much more could be accomplished with our time, with our lives; how much more value we could add not only to ourselves, but the world around us, if we weren’t wasting time with ___________.

God’s Words

I promise I’m not just about pain, but right now that is what is closest to my heart. You look around at your family, and you see people in pain. You see children suffering because of what seems such a senseless act. You see sickness, injury, abuse, why must these things be?

Look at our nation, all the inequity, injustice, crime, an endless list. Look at our world, nations at war–soldiers and the innocent dying every day for some senseless ideal, or just for greed.

Words can seem so hollow. How can words ever bring understanding to the evil all around us? “There is a plan.” “Things are under control.” “All will work for the best.” When these words come from a person, they are so empty and easy to dismiss. People speak so easily about what they do not know. They lie and speak words with hidden meaning or ulterior motive. The only reason there is not total despair in this world is that these words come from God. If you cannot believe in the very depth of your heart that these are God’s words, then there is nothing but total despair.

I believe in God, and I believe that He wants us to understand as much as we can about who He is, what He is, and what He is dealing with. There is a war going on. One with much more significance than any war we have seen between men. It is the ultimate war. The war between good and evil, and we are not just bystanders.

God speaks to us, but He also teaches by demonstration. Words alone are never enough. It takes an object lesson for us to truly begin to understand. Do you want to understand His Love? Then you must first understand the love between husband and wife, mothers and their children, brothers and sisters, family, neighbors, friends. Understand all these forms of love and you will just begin to understand God’s love.

But there is another side. How can He show us the pain and suffering this ultimate war brings to all, including Himself? It is by the same principle He is using to teach us about love. If we were innocent bystanders, it wouldn’t matter, but we aren’t, so we must learn about this side too. And, just as with love, we can look at all the pain around us and just begin to understand the reality of this conflict.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (KJV)

There is no way yet for us to fully understand. I don’t think our minds capable of full comprehension. Many can barely handle what we now see–some cannot seem to handle even that. But if we don’t see just some of what He suffered, what He gave up, how can we ever truely understand how much He loves us? If only people could learn by faith and words alone, but no, we must be shown. And even then we can only see as if wearing dark glasses.

God created a plan. He has things under control, and all things will work to our good. These words mean something because we have faith they are spoken by the Creator of the Universe, our Creator. One who has our best interests at heart, who wants the best for us, His children.

When an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient being speaks, you can know they are words of significance. Words that can be counted upon and allow you to put aside, for now, your total understanding of any situation. Words that can help you know the ultimate outcome. Now there is faith, now there is hope, now there is love.

Value of a Life

Tragedy knows no holiday. Children can die so suddenly, so randomly. It seems so unjust. How can God allow such horror? We know God is in control. We know He has a plan. What we definitely do not know is our or anyone else’s full part in this vast plan.

Remember the parable of the workers? For one hours work, or a full day, the workers were paid the same. Then too, we were all bought with a price–Christ paid the same price for each and every one of us. And yet, one person’s part may be 5 minutes, another’s 50 years.

How can we even attempt to put a value on someone’s life or the worth of their accomplishments–the justice or injustice of their length of time on Earth. Only God is all knowing. Only God sees the heart. Only God can see the ripple effect of each of our lives and know how it will effect every other person in the world.

In our lifetime we will never know how far reaching someones actions will ultimately become. One action from one person can have far more impact than someone else’s lifetime of actions. That is why we must leave the judgement to God. Why we must entrust all to His eternal wisdom–no matter how unjust we may perceive the event to be.

Pain

Pain is an awful thing. A strange thing. Some go through life with relatively little, while others suffer an inordinate amount of pain. I think it all goes back to what we as an individual need to shape us into that perfect child of God. Right now, I’m suffering a lot of pain. God has given a tool to help with that — better living through chemistry — but still, WHY? Seems that sometimes He thinks I can bear more than I think I can. He of course is always right. And you know what? If, in my pain, I turn to God in love instead of anger, my spirit being grows and my relationship to Him grows stronger. He allows me to stand there with him. Standing side by side with the Lord God Almighty. He takes me through it and I’m so much more than I was before.

As much as we might wish it to be so, our God isn’t in the business of saving us from pain. He often does, and we praise Him for that, but many lessons are only learned through pain. Many times our character can only be molded in a fiery crucible. So we praise God when He delivers us from the pain and we praise God when He doesn’t. And we rest in Him, confident that wherever we are, whatever we are experiencing, it is exactly what we need to shape us into the child of God He wants us to be.

That Still Small Voice

That still small voice comes in the night. In the still of the morning, when fears so easily rise. When you can see the pain ahead. When you are so sure within yourself, just how difficult things are going to be. If you think on the pain and difficulty, the fear becomes a dark cloud, growing and enveloping you in its blackness. The pain grows in your heart and brings tears to your eyes. But that still small voice penetrates even the blackest cloud.  That is where your focus must be. God’s voice brings peace and calm, no matter how black things may seem. As your mind stays focused on Him, the peace comes and that dark cloud dissipates into nothingness — showing you the truth. That the darkness must flee instantly from the face of the Light. Continue reading That Still Small Voice

Sandpaper of Life

Know that God brought you here on purpose? That it had to be His plan? That everything just seemed to fall in place? Then, oops, things suddenly didn’t seem so smooth? Every sentence is suddenly a question?

Are you familiar with sandpaper and know it’s function? There are many techniques, and God will use them all as needed. But generally it works best when the object is held still and the sandpaper does the work.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Ps 46:10

You are there on purpose. It is part of the plan. Hold still and let God work. Coarse paper for the tough work — ouch. Fine paper for the most intricate detail. Some sandpaper is so fine it doesn’t even feel like sandpaper. With its touch the surface becomes exceptionally smooth — and that is the point you must reach for the finish to look the best.

Trust Him when you place yourself in His hands. He will take you to where you need to be. Relax in His hands, and let Him do the work. It wasn’t a mistake just because things got a bit uncomfortable.