Yogi not Yoga

yogiMy love for the game of baseball started at an early age.  It’s a game I played with my dad, my brothers, and my friends.  Summer nights were spent at the ball diamonds where I was either playing or shouting words of encouragement to my buddies who were.

One of baseball’s most loved players is Yogi Berra.  During his 19 years as a catcher for the Yankees, he played in 14 World Series.

While Yogi is remembered for the way he played the game, he might be better known for his Yogisms:

  • This is like déjà vu all over again.
  • A nickle ain’t worth a dime anymore.
  • When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
  • Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical.
  • You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.

Yogi also said, I never said most of the things I said.  Like Yogi, some people will remember us more for what we said than for what we accomplished in life.

Words are dynamic, and they have the power to hinder and to humiliate, and they are also endued with a robustness to help and to heal.

Solomon reminds us that, Pleasant words are like a honeycomb: they drip sweet food for life and bring health to the body (Proverbs 16:24).

Everyone needs to hear a pleasant word at some time, and there will be someone, somewhere, who will begin today as an indigent pessimist due to the overwhelming trial they are facing.  When you meet them, will you simply smile, turn your back and walk away or will you engage them with words of encouragement?

mogher tMother Teresa has said: Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

If words are an echo, may our’s resonate with a melody that is loving, positive, uplifting, encouraging, and life-giving

Getting a Grip on Worry

gripIf you could look inside your head, would you find the thought center of your mind dotted with the warts of worry and the ulcers of anxiety? If so, you might find some comfort in the potent promise of Isaiah 26:3: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Here’s the simple truth of this verse: If your mind is not staying on God, it’s straying from Him, and it’s easily disoriented by the worries of life.  Undisciplined thoughts leave room for unfounded arguments that foster fear; however, Christ-centered thinking augments your faith and smothers the fires of anxiety.

Billy Graham has said, Historians will probably call our era “the age of anxiety.” Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and His will for us.

Worry and anxiety are expressions of fear and both can be attributed to a sense of lacking or loneliness. The next time your mind begins to agonize over thoughts like these, mobilize by taking these steps:

  • Focus on God: I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. ~Psalm 34:4
  • Claim the promise of God’s presence: Be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do. ~Joshua 1:9
  • Believe God loves you: The Lord your God is in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; and, He will rejoice over you with singing. ~Zephaniah 3:17
  • Get a grip on life: For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” ~Isaiah 41:13

As you begin this week, it might help to remember that God is holding your right hand, so you don’t have to worry about holding the wrong one.

Jesus said:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

~John 14:27

 

 

Putting On A Show

doggyI’m not sure where we had been, but when John Hayden drove up his driveway, his little mutt ran off the porch and begin to bark with the attitude of a junk yard dog.  John looked at me with his characteristic ear to ear grin, and said:  “That’s the best little watchdog I’ve ever had.”

I chuckled, and said: “John, that dog is just putting on a show for you.”   I went on to tell my mentor and friend that his little watchdog never barked or even moved off the front porch when I approached his house.

This incident reminds me of Paul’s instructions in Colossians 3:22: Obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.

The word eyeservice is found only in the King James Version, but I like this unique rendering of Paul’s instructions.  It clearly explains the modus operandi of some people: Some are known as men-pleasers while others are noted for their sincerity of heart.

Sincerity is the ethic that inspired the Apostle Paul, and Philippians 1:21 is the maxim that guided his life:  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Paul lived for Christ because he loved him, and we would do well to accept his challenge to, Be imitators of God as dearly loved children  and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. ~Ephesians 5:1-2

From POW to Ambassador

11755266_873460132744096_7210495943791147530_nFor several years now, veterans have gathered at El Dorado Lake to renew friendships and to reminisce.  The event began 30 years ago as the Kansas Vietnam Veterans and Family Reunion, but the name was changed to the Kansas Veterans and Family Reunion in 2007.

As I thought about this annual event, I remembered a man I’ve never met.  His name is Pete Peterson.

During Viet Nam, Captain Peterson’s plane was shot down during a bombing raid and he spent the next 6 years in the Hanoi Hilton as a POW. He returned to Hanoi on May 9, 1997 on a different mission; he returned as the first post war Ambassador to Viet Nam.

Peterson believed God had saved him for a purpose.  He resolved to use the remainder of his life to be an agent of healing and the power of his office to accomplish his mission.

Among the many citizens of the USA, very few will ever be appointed as an Ambassador; however, there is a higher calling and an office open to all; and, that is to be an Ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20):

We are now Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were appealing direct to you through us. As his personal representatives we say, “Make your peace with God.” ~Phillips

Peterson’s mission was to bring peace and healing to the people of Viet Nam.  Our mission is a message to the world and it is one of hope and reconciliation between man and God.

When Air Fare Isn’t Fair

ann-coulterOver the weekend, Ann Coulter raised a ruckus on Twitter because Delta re-served the reserved seat she had booked and paid for in advance of her flight.  Evidently, it never dawned on Delta that Coulter had a good reason for booking the adjoining seat.

While Delta was a bit fickle and forced the bellicose commentator to bid adios to her rightful seat, there’s a promise of another one that Peter said is an inheritance that’s imperishable, undefiled, unfading and reserved in Heaven for God’s faithful.

The Coulter-Delta brouhaha reminds me of something Paul said to the Colossians: If you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth. Or, might I say, not the seat below.

Seeking Peace

seek-peace-and-pursue-it-2Some people live their lives wildly chasing dreams that eventually leave them feeling empty and hollow.  I thought of this yesterday when I read five words from Psalm 34: Seek peace and pursue it.

As I thought about this verse, it occurred to me that a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction is the result of what we pursue in life.  The writings of Paul validate this statement:

  • Romans 14:19: Pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another
  • I Thessalonians 5:15: See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.
  • I Timothy 6:11: Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.

It’s been said that whatever catches your attention, catches you.  Have you been ensnared by the false hopes of groundless dreams or have you captured the peace of God that is beyond human reasoning?

As you start a new week, I hope the words of Peter will encourage you to focus your thoughts on the peace of God. He said: Seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer (I Peter 3:10-12).

Christmas in July

christmasWhen thermometers record the sizzling summer heat in triple digits, and people seek the shade instead of the sun, they are rarely thinking of Christmas.  For several years now, some merchants have been trying to refocus your thoughts and stoke the fires of your holiday spirit by offering Christmas in July.

The always sentimental Hallmark runs a series of Christmas-oriented movies during the month of July.  Their hope is that their feel-good movies will get you out of your recliner and into their stores to make a purchase for that special someone in your life.

The powerhouse of seasonal sales is Amazon—the behemoth who is bringing brick and mortar stores to their knees.  Amazon’s annual Prime Day sale, set records again this year. The e-commerce giant has said that last week’s 30-hour event surpassed last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Even though events like these are experiencing success, there will be some things that we will always associate more with Christmas and less with July.  One these is a prophecy found in Isaiah 9:6-7:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

The words of this prophecy might be the gift you need on this July morning.  When you unwrap this gift from God, you will discover some timeless truth:

  • Jesus is more than just the Wonderful Counselor, He is your Counselor, and you can turn to Him at any time. You can approach Him with confidence to find the grace and mercy that you need.
  • Jesus is the Mighty God, and the pages of the New Testament are a record of His magnificent and miraculous power. He gave sight to blind, healed the crippled, and calmed the raging seas.
  • Because He paid the price of peace, Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and you can experience both the peace with God and the peace of God.

Whether it is December or July, the gift that keeps on giving is Jesus; and, He can make every day a Prime Day.

Truth: A Graphic Contrast

truth-2One evening last week, I read Psalm 85 a few minutes before I watched the evening news.  There was a graphic contrast in the manner in which the two considered the subject of truth.

As I watched interviews of politicians and their proficiency in spinning the truth, I wished they had taken the time to read Psalm 85 and to consider the words of both Jesus and Solomon:

  • John 8:32: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
  • Proverbs 12:17: Truthful witness by a good person clears the air, but liars lay down a smoke screen of deceit. ~ The Message

The need for honest assessments and truthful dialogue has been the subject of discussion since the advent of man, and I’ve selected a comments as examples:

  • K. Chesterton: “Right is right even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong about it.”
  • Albert Einstein: “Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.”
  • Augustine: “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”

Stephen Covey has said: Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. Trust, however, can be victimized when we are too casual with the truth, and too comfortable with deceit.

The life motto of some people seems to be a question: Why tell the truth when a good lie will do?

The spiritual environment of Ephesus was a polluted atmosphere of toxic distrust due to a litany of lies perpetrated through the worship of Artemis. Because of this, Paul encouraged the church to no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes, but speak the truth in love, so you will grow up into Christ (Ephesians 4:14-14).

I will end this post where I started, and that is with the words of Psalm 85:

Mercy and truth have met. Righteousness and peace have kissed.

Truth sprouts from the ground, and righteousness looks down from heaven.

The Lord will certainly give us what is good, and our land will produce crops.

Righteousness will go ahead of him, and make a path for his steps.

Psalm 85:10-13

Words Like Honey

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Nitro’s Elhew Legacy: “Hank”

I enjoy the outdoors, and I usually take at least two walks a day with Hank as my companion.  Regardless of the season, Hank is smelling the air, and checking it for the scent of quail.

This time of year, my attention is less on quail and more on song birds and cardinals crested in red; however, I’m easily distracted by the buzzing of bees as they meticulously go from flower to flower harvesting pollen.

The bees prick my mind and enliven the memories of Fern—not the plant, but the person.  Fern was my great-aunt and she was a beekeeper and a woman who crafted elderberry-based home remedies.

I was reminded of Aunt Fern this morning when I was reading the Proverbs: Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (16:24).

I know Aunt Fern could be firm when necessary, but I remember her more for her pleasant words of kindness, for her love, and for her shelves full of large sticky jars of honey that she had collected from her bees.

When today is history, will people remember you for your pleasant words that were healing and helpful or for tirades that were hurtful? Today may be the last chance you have to make a positive difference in the life of someone you meet; so, I challenge you to take these next few words to heart:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ~Ephesians 4:29

The Secret to Happiness

smileA recent Gallup poll surveyed the happiness levels of Americans and has found that the levels are at a four-year high. Almost 60 percent of Americans say they feel happy, and they do not have a lot of stress or worry.

The Center for Disease Control looked at another aspect of life and found that about 40% of Americans haven’t discovered a satisfying life purpose, and almost 25% of Americans report they do not have a strong sense of what makes their lives meaningful.

The quest for happiness and the search for meaning have different results. Researchers agree that when a person engages in a single-minded quest for happiness he discovers a pot of dissatisfaction at the end of his rainbow.

This was the sad case of the prodigal son. Victor Frankl showed an understanding of this paradox when he said: “It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

Frankl’s understanding of meaning, life’s purpose, and happiness was formed under the harsh conditions of a Nazi concentration camp. Frankl wrote of his experience in the 1946 best seller Man’s Search for Meaning. He had come to the conclusion that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing—meaning. His fellow prisoners who had found meaning in the dire conditions of the death camp were much more resilient than those who had not.

Frankl’s conclusions have been supported by research that shows the value of having purpose and meaning in life:

• It increases overall well-being and life satisfaction
• It improves mental and physical health
• It enhances resiliency, and self-esteem, and it decreases the chances of depression.

The Journal of Positive Psychology reported on research by Jennifer Aaker of Stanford Graduate School of Business. Aaker and her colleagues, found that “Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker.”

The Apostle Paul knew a little something about givers and takers: “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

How about you? Are you a giver or a taker? When you find the answer to this question, you may find your purpose in life.