The ME in Mentor

mentoring-pic-1Since I believe every knife should be a sharp knife, I keep a good edge on the one I carry in my pocket.  Whenever I sharpen it, I think of an analogy from the Proverbs: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Psalm 22:17).

You can validate the truth of this analogy by walking down the aisle of your local grocery store.  The shelves are stocked with many products that bear the Procter and Gamble name.

William Procter was a candle maker and James Gamble made soap.  The two of them became in-laws when they married the Norris sisters.  Through the encouragement of their father-in-law, they formed a partnership, and Procter and Gamble has been selling household products since 1837.

My HP computer is another good example.  Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were classmates in Stanford’s engineering program.  When they graduated, Fred Terman, a professor at Standford, encouraged them to pursue their dreams, and they founded Hewlett and Packard in 1939.

Neither of these famous partnerships may have been formed had it not been for the guidance and encouragement of an acquaintance or mentor who helped to hone and fine tune their skills. With this in mind, let me share the razor-sharp wisdom of two men:

  • John Maxwell: One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.
  • Isaac Newton: If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

I encourage you to invest in the lives of others.  Allow them to stand on your shoulders; pick your brain; lend a listening ear; nudge them in the right direction; and, help them to clarify their vision and pursue their dream.

Everybody needs somebody to help them along life’s journey.  If there had been no Ben, would Jerry have ever made ice cream?  The world of comedy would be different if  Abbott  had never met Costello. How would Calvin have survived childhood without Hobbes?

Where would you be if someone had not been the ME in Mentor for you? Make this year the year you make a difference in the life of another.

As we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith. ~Galatians 6:10

Abbott & Costello Who’s on first skit.

Making Sense of the Nonsense

birdGrief and anxiety can be so powerful that you can melt in the heat of their presence like a dip of ice cream on a 110-degree day.   When the trials and tragedies of life assault you, God can seem so distant that his voice is inaudible and His care and compassion inconspicuous.

When you feel like you’ve been bullied by misfortune and beaten down by fickle friends, you can be blinded by a pervasive sense of loneliness and a warped perspective on life.  This was the case with Asaph when he wrote Psalm 73:

My feet almost slipped; my feet almost slid out from under me. For I envied those who are proud, as I observed the prosperity of the wicked. For they suffer no pain. . . They mock and say evil things; they proudly threaten violence. They speak as if they rule in heaven, and lay claim to the earth.

Whenever you find that you are walking with Asaph down the path of misery, you need to recalibrate your compass.  Instead of focusing primarily on your internals, you need to take an eternal perspective on life.  This is what Asaph did to reorient his direction in life:

When I tried to make sense of all this nonsense, it was troubling to me. When I finally looked beyond myself and quite beating myself down. I looked up to God and I entered His temple, and then I understood the destiny of the wicked (my paraphrase of Psalm 73:16-17).

In times like these, God may seem to hide, but He is still present to present you with what you need.  “Sometimes God gives us a gentle push of courage; sometimes He mercifully numbs us so we don’t experience the full intensity of our pain; at other times He carries us when we cannot take another step on own (Bruce Carroll, Sometimes Miracles Hide).”

One of the more comforting sections of Scripture that may help when you are feeling the pain of lingering bruises is Psalm 121:

I look up at the vast size of the mountains—from where will my help come in times of trouble? The Eternal Creator of heaven and earth and these mountains will send the help I need. He holds you firmly in place; He will not let you fall. He who keeps you will never take His eyes off you and never drift off to sleep. What a relief! The One who watches over Israel never leaves for rest or sleep. The Eternal keeps you safe, so close to Him that His shadow is a cooling shade to you. Neither bright light of sun nor dim light of moon will harm you. The Eternal will keep you safe from all of life’s evils, from your first breath to the last breath you breathe, from this day and forever. ~The Voice

Make Mine a Double Dip

coneThis time each year, I get a little nostalgic.  I have to admit, it doesn’t take me long to yearn again for the wonderful days of July, and I’m not thinking of the 4th of July.

I’m one of the people who take notice of the true significance of July and do my best to celebrate it.  July, in case you’ve already forgotten, is set aside as National Ice Cream Month.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and declared the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.

The USDA reports that the USA produced some 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts in 2013. The sales of ice cream and frozen desserts add about $5.4 billion in sales to the economy—don’t ask how much it adds to the waistlines of Americans.

All of this talk about tasting has reminded me of Psalm 34:

“God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray. Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.  Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness (The Message).”

When you pause to reflect on God and His goodness, remember to thank Him for the many blessings associated with gift of taste ….. you might also praise Him for ice cream too.

A Joyful Heart

Beautiful smiling cute babyMy concept of God might be different than yours.  I believe God is loving, caring, and full of joy.  God gave us our sight so we can have the pleasure of seeing rainbows,  butterflies, and majestic mountain ranges.

I thank God that He blessed me with the sense of smell, so I can enjoy the aroma of a freshly baked cake; and I am overjoyed that He created me with taste buds, so I can savor the flavor of apple pie topped off with a big dip of vanilla ice cream.

On my journeys into the wilderness, I’ve enjoyed the solitude of silence that is only interrupted by the chirping of a bird, the whistle of a quail, or the refreshing sound of a flowing river.

I’m glad that God wants His people to experience the wonder of joy and the fruit of happiness.  Solomon wrote of this in the Proverbs: “A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit . . . a cheerful heart has a continual feast (15:13, 15).”

A couple of chapters later, Solomon draws a contrast between the joyless and the joy-filled:    “One with a twisted mind will not succeed, and one with deceitful speech will fall into ruin. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (17:20, 22).”

Since a joyful heart is good medicine, here’s a medicine chest full of quotes:

  • The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
  • I think I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others. ~ Booker T. Washington
  • If we try hard to bring happiness to others, we cannot stop it from coming to us also. To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it. ~John Templeton
  • You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; this is why God, Your God has anointed you with the oil of joy. ~Hebrews 1:9
  • I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. ~John 15:11-12

The key to living a life of joy is found in the words of the Psalmist:  “You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” ~Psalm 16:11

Three questions come to mind when I think of the verse above:

  • Since God reveals the path of life to you, why take a detour?
  • If abundant joy is found in His presence, what do you have when you refuse it?
  • If eternal pleasures are in God’s right hand, what is left? Temporary and unfulfilling worthless worries?

I’ll close with the words of Paul:  “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” ~Philippians 4:4

The WOW Factor

If you were to bring up the topic of the creation of the universe in a crowded waiting room, I’m certain you would find the opinions on this subject as diverse as the crowd of people in the room.  There would be some who would say they believe in a random Big Bang form of creation, others would espouse a view known as intelligent design, and then there would be some who whole-heartedly embrace the Genesis account of creation.

I find it hard to look at the intricate design of the world and believe it just happened by chance.  In Psalm 8 we find the author contemplating the role of man and his place in the world.  In the next Psalm, David writes:  I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

When was the last time you paused and reflected on the marvelous works of God.  I mean, what would a flower be without its fragrance?  How dark would the night skies be without the light of the moon and stars?  How different would be birds be if they were drab in color and whistled and sang out of tune?

The sunrise, the sunset, and the rainbow all act as a canvas on which the Master Artist paints in vivid colors.  The day would be much different if it began and ended in a colorless brown instead of a fire-red hues.  Speaking of fire, what would fire be without its warmth on a cold night or water without its refreshing coolness?

How about food?  What would chili be like if there was no spice or a breakfast roll without cinnamon?  And, it’s almost too painful to consider a world without ice cream!

How mundane would life be without this complicated, yet marvellous thing we call love?  Isn’t love the WOW factor in everything that God created?

When you read the book of Genesis, you see all that God created.  After He had spoken the physical world into existence, God formed Adam out of the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life.  Next in line was the creation of the animal kingdom, but God wasn’t finished until He created woman.

Adam thought he had seen it all, but when he saw Eve, he saw the marvellous WOW-inducing works of God

I hope you’ll take the time, sometime this week, to consider the marvellous works of God.

 

Cravings

Due to my love of ice cream, I often joke and say I have a body by Braums.  I have a particular fondness for their yummy Rocky Road.  Because I have trouble controlling my ice cream cravings, I keep very little of it at home.

My craving for ice cream is not hunger related.  There are many times that I feel hungry, but I have never felt the pangs of starvation.  The hunger I feel is directly connected to the fist sized part of my body that I call my stomach.

Even though the average stomach is just the size of an adult’s clenched fist, it has an above average capacity to influence the behavior of the rest of the body.  When a person is really hungry, he wants to eat his food.  When a person is starving he may even riot or steal to get food.

When we look at the ministry of Jesus, we find several cases in which he fed the people.  One of the more remarkable stories is when He used the bread and fish of the small boy to feed many people.

A key point of this story is that Jesus did not take the bread from the small boy, but the lad gave what he had to Jesus.  Even though the little guy had very little himself, he had a craving.  His craving was to help others who were hungry.

This young boy gave a swift kick to the can of logic, and showed his faith through his actions.  He craved the will of God, and he did what he could do.  And God, I think He smiled.

Then, there is you and me.  What about us?  Will we allow our lives to be controlled by the desires of our belly?  Let’s learn from the lad and crave the presence and will of God for our lives.