Tuesday, April 24, 2007

God Helps Those That Help Others

My cousin Linda says,

"God Helps Those That Help Others"

My Grandfather always said to me "to whom much is given, much is required." He wanted to make certain that I understood that our world revolves on reciprocity. Those things you believe, say, and do will come back to you. As Grandpa would often point out, Jesus has everything. There is nothing we have to offer that he doesn't already possess. The best way to honor and worship him is to do and care for those he loves -our fellow men. So what have you done for God lately? Have you written the check for that charitable pledge you made, checked on your elderly aunt just to see if she's okay, volunteered your time and expertise to the young people in your area, cleaned out your closet for Amvets, Salvation Army, or Goodwill, offered your neighbor a ride to church? There is so much need in our society that you don't have to look very hard to find someone and/or some way to help.
Promise yourself today to find a way to be a blessing to others. When you do, you'll be blessed!
John 15:13
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Do What is Right . . . In and Out of Sight

My cousin Linda says.

"It is better to abstain than to have your blessings retained. Do what is right . . . in and out of sight."

I think those words would serve Ken Lay, "Scooter" Libby, and perhaps Attorney General Gonzales as well. When tempted to do or say something illegal, unethical, or immoral, they should've taken a page from the book of a former Republican first lady, Nancy Reagan, and "Just Say (said) No."

One of my favorite childhood stories as a youth was about a very precocious little girl who adored her teacher but treated her mother horribly. The little girl was sugar and spice and everything nice for her teacher. But for her mom, she was a rude spoiled brat. The climax of the story comes when unbeknown to her daughter, the mother asks the teacher to dinner but hides the teacher in a corner off of the living room where the daughter can't see her. After the daughter has set the table for mom -dishes helter skelter, flatware in the wrong places, napkins not folded, her mother asks her to advise the guest that the dinner is ready. Mortified the little girl turns around to see her adored teacher standing there with a look of shock and disappointment. The little girl apologized to the mother and the teacher and from that time forward, behaved as if there were guests in the home at all times. The moral of the story was to remember that Jesus is an unseen guest at every meeting, in every corner of your home and heart. He sees, hears, and knows all of our thoughts and actions.

Ask yourself it you are saying and doing those things of which Christ would approve and abstaining from those Christ wouldn't approve?

Mark 14:72

And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times." And he broke down and wept.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Never stoop to their level of ignorance . . . Lift them up to your level of intelligence

My cousin Linda says,

"Never stoop to their level of ignorance . . . Lift them up to your level of intelligence"

We've all heard the story of King Solomon solving the dispute of two women over the rightful parentage of a child. When both women claimed the child, Solomon knew that the real mother would never do anything to allow her child to be harmed. The woman who was lying and jealous foolishly agreed to have the baby split in two when told there was no other way to settle the dispute. The real mother was ready to walk away heartbroken but knowing her child would remain intact and alive. King Solomon understood human nature at its best and worst.

In our everyday lives, there seems to be a constant onslaught to bring us down to our more basic instincts. Pornography, Trash TV, Gangsta Hip Hop lyrics, etc all seem to want to drag all of us down into the gutter from which they came. Don't let them. God made humankind with a higher nature and a higher calling. Counter frowns with smiles, lies with truth, discrimination with determination, and witlessness with wisdom.

1 Peter 2:15

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

When You Open Up Doors for Others, God Opens Up Doors For You

My cousin Linda says,

"When you open doors for others, God opens doors for you."

The concept is as old as time itself. The universe operates on a system of reciprocity. To say it more simply - you get out of the world what you put into it. If you are kind -kindness comes back to you. If you do evil things -evil things come back to you. etc. For such a simple and timeless concept, it is surprising how many of us never seem to get the message.

How many people have we seen get to positions of power, money, and influence and suddenly forget all of the people that helped them get there? Kenneth Lay and the other Enron executives seem to have forgotten all of the "little people" whose life savings made up their multibillion dollar empire when they bailed with their "golden parachutes". The empire crumbled into a million pieces,taking with it the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. When they closed the door on the dreams of others, the prison doors soon closed behind them. Clearly, they didn't get the memo that the evil you do to others . . . comes back to you.

Those who did "get the memo" can attest to living more fulfilled and happier lives. My father whose professional career ranged from a first job as an entrepreneur shining shoes at the age of 10 to retiring from USPS as the Regional Director of Commercial Accounts for the USPS- Midwest Division, was a great example of someone who had doors opened because he helped open doors for others. When he passed away in 2003, nearly 3000 people came to pay tribute. He's been gone 4 years and still people call and come up to me to let me know how much his words of wisdon or act of kindness meant to them. My Dad lived by the motto, "Each one-Reach one" by helping thousands of people get jobs, homes, money, encouragement, and the ever illusive "second chance." He never forgot to thank the many people in his life who gave him the opportunity to succeed, love, thrive. He paid them back by passing their lessons AND their actions forward. In turn, God opened doors for him.

What have you done to pay your good fortune forward? What doors have you opened for others?

2 Corinthians 9:6

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Man's Insurance is Good. . . But God's Assurance Is Better!

My cousin Linda says,

Man's insurance is good. But, God's assurance is better . . . and the premium has already been paid!"

So often we rely on only those things we can control. We rely on our money, our instincts, our inside connection, our "friend in high places". We try to secure our belongings and our future by relying on the "Good Hands" people or those organizations that are "Like a Good Neighbor. As we've seen in the past year with damaging storms that have ripped and torn families and communities apart, sometimes the security we thought we ensured was not. Those in the world will say that the only things certain in this life are death and taxes. While who have found the key to eternal life know that the only true constant is God. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever. Blessed assurance isn't just a song title, it's a fact. When you have God's assurance you can and should lean on the most reliable insurance given to humankind. So, if you've lost your health -lean on the Lord, lost your job - lean on the Lord, lost your love - lean on the Lord, lost your way - lean on the Lord. God is the "ace in the hole", "friend in high places", and "inside tract" so many people search for and never realize was with them all along. We've all read the Footprints in the Sand poem where the weary pilgrim asks why, during the lowest points of his life, there was only one set of footprints that appeared in the sand. Jesus' reply was, "because it was then that I carried you." We all have times when Jesus is carrying us. Why rely on "good hands" when the "best hands" are available to you at all times.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Life Takes More Than Eye Sight . . . It Takes Insight!

My cousin Linda says,

"I don't see with my eyes . . . I see with my heart. It doesn't take eye sight to walk through life. It takes insight . . ."

How many people do you know who physically have 20/20 vision but never seem to see the reality of the situation in front of them? In our fast paced, highly visual, and instant gratification world, we often tend to view things in "sight bites." Just as we listen to speeches and comments out of context, we tend to see things out of context as well. The nightly news is a great example of this. The media would have us believe that all of the important news of the day is found in the condensed 15-30 second "sound bites" that are edited for speed and impact. We're so accustomed to this habit that now we are viewing things in the same way. That could go a long way into explaining why the death of Anna Nicole is repeatedly covered as the lead story and the war in Iraq is buried in the middle of the broadcast. The tragic face of a beautiful but troubled celebrity and her sordid life are more easily conveyed than the complexities of war. As children of God, we should try to emulate our heavenly father by looking at ourselves and our peers from the inside out. When you make a practice of taking the time to look at people and situations from their most basic internal element and move forward from there, you'll find that you get a better and more complete picture and/or image of them. Mandela, King, Gandhi have all set great examples of what it is to lead a life looking first with your heart and then with your eyes. All of them illustrate how beautiful the view and how profound the impact can be when you see the world with insight and not just eye sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Prejudice Impedes Progress - Be Part of the Solution. . .Not The Mess

My cousin Linda says,

"Prejudice Impedes Progress. Be part of the solution . . . not the mess."

A wise man once said when referring to all of the different racial, ethnic, and cultural groups in the U.S. that,

"We may all have arrived on different ships. But we're in the same boat now."

No truer words have been spoken. You would think that in 21st century America we would've learned by now to appreciate the vibrant threads of differences that make up our rich tapestry of citizenry. But, that just isn't the case. In post 9/11 America, we seemed to have quickly united and now, war weary, are quickly unraveling the strands of tolerance, inclusion, and integration that were carefully woven in just 40 short years ago. For a while now, our country has been polarized on almost every modern day issue, war, religion, politics, etc. The pendulum of political correctness has swung from the extreme end of "don't say anything or do anything to offend" to the current mantra of "anything goes." People hurl innuendo, verbal assaults, racial and ethnic curses and slurs like ripe green peas at a high school cafeteria food fight. No group or person seems to be singularly immune or singularly at fault. Whites insult blacks, blacks insult whites, gays insult straight, straight insults gays, Christians insult Jews and Muslims, Muslims insult Jews and Christians. Those bigots expressing their venom in public have fallen into a cycle of the 4 "Rs" - Reveal, Recant, Rehab, and Recover. The time to complete the cycle seems to shorten everyday. But one has to wonder will 3 weeks of counter programming really undue 40+ years of homophobia? Will a 2 day intensive diversity session overturn 25 years of racism? Will 2 hours of sensitivity training overcome 14 years of sexism in the workplace? Some would argue that at least its a start. But given our long history with these issues, isn't it time we moved beyond "starting" on a solution. As a nation, our strength is in our diversity. We should be fighting hard to preserve and nurture that. When we embrace everyone and fear no one but the Lord, we close the door to prejudice and open the window to opportunity - together.

Mark 12:31

And the second is like, namely this: `Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."