Tuesday, May 31 2016
In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Good morning, friends! I hope you are full of grace this morning. I wanted to connect yesterday (Memorial Monday) but my technology at home is not the same as at work so I yielded to today. Grace, please.
In honor of Memorial Day I chose this quote from President Roosevelt, the second. Enough words were shared over the weekend of the importance and meaning of Memorial Day. My intention with this quote is to think about the connection of the quote to the rest of our lives.
Freedom, as we all know, is not a “thing” but an idea, a concept, a belief. When we fail to commit to the idea of freedom the risk of losing it is far too great. But so too is the experience of the best and most important realities of life. Is not love an idea rather than a thing? Is not health an idea rather than a thing? Is not joy and happiness an idea rather than a thing? Are not relationships ideas rather than things? Is not peace an idea rather than a thing? You get where I’m going? The best and most important things in your life are ideas, concepts, beliefs, not things. Let’s leave aside for today the overwhelming addition we have for chasing things; let’s consider our commitment to the better ideas of our lives.
In our desire to acquire we look for ways to acquire the achievement of these better ideas and we are disappointed. No matter how hard you try to collect these higher ideas they are not tokens. So how can you achieve these better ideas as realities in your life? I know no other way than to commit to “being”: be love, be healthy, be joyful and happy, be relatable, be peaceful. As you commit to being the better ideas your personal atmosphere will begin to reflect the very ideas your espouse. It will always be a fragile atmosphere, though. Its strength will be your commitment to it, just like freedom.
What will you espouse to be today that is a better idea? What fragile desire will you commit to today? How will you be the you that you desire? Whatever your step, I encourage you to commit. It may be the best decision of your year, so do it! And have a great week!
Monday, May 23 2016
“Be who God meant you to be and you’ll set the world on fire.”
Catherine of Siena
Good morning, friends! I hope this beautiful Monday morning has greeted you with a blessing. I know not everyone reading this encouragement is well today but I pray this note will lift your spirits.
Just this past week my wife and I were commenting on someone who is struggling to be themself. It seems like it’s more than simple, isn’t it, to be yourself? I mean, who else would you want to be? Ahhhh, there’s the rub.
Let me clarify any hypocrisy thoughts before they gain ground. Many, many weeks in this Word I encourage readers to create a vision of who you want to be and then chase it with a passion. And I mean that, every week. What I don’t mean is to take the lazy way out by chasing someone else’s dream. Yet how often do we find ourselves chasing someone else’s dream, attempting to become a version of someone else? Too often.
In almost every area of my life where I want to improve I have an example of a friend who is doing much, much better than me. Preaching. Healthy. Dad. Husband. Friend. You name it, I have friends who excel in areas I admire. I’ll bet when you think about your areas of desired improvement you have examples of excellence, too. A key of success is to remind ourselves that while we may be inspired by examples we hinder our success by attempting to imitate examples. You have a path that leads to your own success, not someone else’s.
This week, ferret out the lazy decisions you’ve made to chase someone else’s dream. Then do the harder, and yet infinitely better, work of creating your own dream that fits you. And then begin to become the better person you are. No one else can be the good and great you are and will be, and soon enough you will be someone else’s example. Just remember to course correct them, too! Have a wonderful week!
Monday, May 16 2016
“It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.”
W. C. Fields
Good morning, friends! A cool breeze has blown across my part of the country but it is refreshing, especially considering what’s coming. I hope your day has begun refreshingly, too.
How many titles do you have? I’ll bet it’s more than you realize once you begin to count. Me? Let’s see. Son. Husband. Father. Pastor. Friend. Brother. Nephew. Uncle. Neighbor. Student. Teacher. Coach. That’s a pretty long list. I’m sure your list is long, too. We are called many things in life and most of the time it’s something we’ve chosen or like. We quickly recall and gladly answer to the titles and names we like.
But we are also part of many systems of people who are trying very hard to label us. Our groups want to title us based on what they see, think, like or dislike about us. In each church I’ve pastored someone or ones has decided that I’m their enemy. In other groups where I’ve not lived up to expectations I might be titled loser, bad, wrong, worthless, anemic, harmful, and a host of other negative titles. It is no joy to think about this dark side of our life, but it is there. What has the dark side of your life called you? What negative titles have you been given?
One difference between the positive titles and the negative ones is that we choose the positive ones; the negative titles are attempted to be forced on us. This calls the question: will we allow other persons to define us or will we define ourselves? It is super easy to begin to believe what is consistently said about you, but will you give away your identity that easily?
Fields makes a powerful point. “They” can call you anything “they” want to, but it doesn’t matter. You only begin to become the thing “they” called you when you begin to answer to that name. Answer to the names you aspire to be, to the ones you truly see in yourself, to the ones that reveal the best in you. And sooner or later that narrative of you will win! And I call you friend! Have a great week!
Monday, May 09 2016
“Be kind because everybody is fighting a huge battle.”
Philo of Alexandria.
Good morning, friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend; I sure did. Or at least I made the best I could of it. That’s a worthy goal.
Yesterday while running a few errands I listened to a podcast of “On Being” by Krista Tippett. She is the host of this wonderful podcast but yesterday she was the guest, discussing her own book while being interviewed by a famous author. And during the interview she shared today’s quote and I was mesmerized.
So much of my own life is a focus on and reaction to my own battles. “To do” lists, stress, emotional experiences, disappointments, elations… all these efforts and more are simply reflections of the fact that my life (yours, too, perhaps?) is an ongoing series of battles. And occasionally a battle gets large. So easy it is to focus inwardly and keep my eyes on the bumpy road of life I travel. Do you ever feel like you are constantly focused on the stream of battles you face?
Ministry and life have each taught me that it doesn’t take much to get a person talking about the challenges they face. A simple opening will typically evidence a deluge of challenges. Apparently we are all facing challenges. So how do we live as common strugglers in this challenging world? The only reasonable and intelligent option is to be kind, to love, to see each other through eyes of grace and mercy. Surely that’s how we want other persons to see us, isn’t it?
Most of us want to make our way through life with ever growing peace but an inward focus will never get us to the peace we seek. How we relate to other persons, especially the mass of casual interactions of everyday, will have much to do with our peace. So be kind to everyone you meet or encounter. Show love when you have the chance. Forgive the small slights that come your way. You may feel at first like you’re doing some incredible good for other persons with these actions but in time you will learn that the greatest good you are doing is for yourself. Give it a try, and be blessed! Have a great week!
Monday, May 02 2016
“I forgive you. Now you forgive yourself.”
Good morning, friends. Have you washed away? I think I saw Noah’s ark this morning. Strange day indeed.
Have you ever been hit between the eyes by a comment? I’m not talking about political punditry or silly banter. I mean the genuine comments between honest people. Has one of those comments ever hit you right between the eyes?
I won’t go into the sordid details but last night I encountered a friend who I felt I had wronged. I stumbled and stammered to express my apology when my friend stopped me cold to express today’s quote. He could see the burden I was carrying for my guilt and shame and that whatever wrong I sensed I had done to him had multiplied into a heavy load of negativity on my back. As the bigger person he implored me to drop the load I carried. It was a powerful moment.
I wonder… are you carrying any loads of guilt or shame or self-recrimination? Too often the hardest and last person we forgive is oneself, yet only we pay for our lack of forgiveness. I was blessed by my friend’s generosity of spirit but how much more healthy would my life have been in the past few months if I had shown generosity of spirit to myself? How about you? Could you use a bit of generosity of spirit to yourself? I’ll bet you can.
Forgiving self isn’t to redefine right and wrong; it is to admit to self if wrong was done and to relieve oneself by forgiveness of the burden of guilt and shame. Could you use a bit less burden carrying in your life? I think we all can. Give it a try… forgive yourself. Everyone else who matters to you already has. And have a great week.