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 Pastor's Blog 
Monday, September 24 2018

“Life is not simply holding a good hand.

Life is playing a poor hand well.”

Danish saying


Good morning, friends!  With a heavy heart for people struggling now and for the foreseeable future, still, let’s get to it.


The only card game I play is cribbage.  I learned the game from my father when I was eight; we played thousands of games in eight years.  Now I’m teaching my kids.  Like any card game there is a luck factor with every hand.  Sometimes the cards are with you and winning is easy.  There isn’t much learning to be had when every hand is great.  Sometimes the cards are against you.  That is when the game gets interesting.  How will you play?  How will you make the best of it?  How will you eke out points here and there until a better hand comes along?  Long term success in cribbage is more a factor of how one plays the bad hands than the good ones.  So too is life.


My mother taught a young boy in rural North Carolina when he was in first grade.  He was a hard working country boy, studied hard, did well and became an Army pilot.  One year he applied to be an astronaut.  It is a grueling application process that takes a year or more.  He was denied.  He applied again.  Failed again.  He eventually applied six times and failed every time.  At some point his became a bad hand, but he played each of those bad hands as well as he could.  And when he applied the seventh time, a time by which most of us would have quit, he was approved.  He eventually few three times on the space shuttle and a fourth time spent six months on the International Space Station.  I’d say that’s a pretty good hand!  But imagine what he would have lost had he not played his bad hands well?


* How do you play your bad hands?

* How do a few band hands in a row affect you?

* What is a little more good you can make of the next bad hand?


Our language contains plenty of clichés that convey the reality of everyday life: getting by, keeping up, same old same old, etc.  That’s just another language for life as a majority of mediocre hands.  How we play those hands has a powerful influence on our ability to win when the good hands come along.  Your next good hand may not take you to the stars but if you haven’t played the bad hands well it won’t get you very far, either.  Try making the best of the days you have and soon enough a winning hand will come around.  Now, how about a game???  Have a wonderful week.


Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 08:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 17 2018

“We all are failures – at least the best of us are.”

J.M. Barrie


Good morning, friends.  Thank you for the grace of yesterday; I was on the road for a day with my wife.  I know some of you are struggling from a Florence hangover.  My prayers are with you.  Let’s get to it…


Failure.  I’ll bet even the word scares you.  It does at times scare me.  Most of us have been conditioned to fear failure.  Our childhood systems, from parents to education to religion to everything, tell us that winners are good and losers (failures) are bad.  So we grow up into timid adults, praying for success while avoiding failure at all costs.  But if we were lucky there was someone in our childhood or young adulthood who taught us that success is a product of learned failure, that the only way to succeed is to learn from failures and the certain way to fail is to avoid failures.  Most of us didn’t get that lesson, so we slog on through adulthood satisfied with mediocrity.  But at least we minimized our failures!


Yet no one wants to objectively begin a journey to failure-land.  And that’s not the point.  The journey to success-land is filled with risks and there we run smack dab into our fears.  The question is: do we want to succeed?  Recently I’ve been thinking a bit about dreams, not sleepy dreams but goal dreams.  We all have them.  They come in packages labeled, “I wish I could…” or “I sure would like…” or “Why can’t I…” or “Someday I’ll…”  I have those packages and so do you.  But I don’t know more than a person or two who opens those packages.  Most of us minimize our lives to fit our circumstances rather than change our circumstances to fit our dreams.  And the packages pile up.


* Open up one of your dream packages today.

* What will it take to begin moving in that direction?

* What are you willing to change about your circumstances to make a success of your dream?


If you look behind any true success story in the world you will find a trail of failures.  What makes those successful people different from you and me is that they weren’t afraid of their failures or even focused on them.  They were focused on success, and they learned from certain failures, and they eventually overcame them.  That’s the definition of practical success.  So start opening your dream packages.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Have a wonderful week, and if you are struggling, may God be with you.


Luke 19:1-10

Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 08:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 10 2018

Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 08:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, September 04 2018

“Know what you want.

Find out what you’re getting.

Change what you do until you get what you want.”

Nicholas Boothman


Good morning, friends!  I hope you are well this Tuesday morning.  We missed yesterday due to Labor Day doings, so let’s waste no more time.  Let’s get to it!


One of the common conversations I encounter is that of frustrating situations.  Sometimes I’m the talker and other times I’m the listener.  Either way, the conversation starter goes something like this: “I’m unhappy with “___” (fill in the blank).  I wish things were different.”  It’s not often those words are used but that’s the gist of a very common conversation starter.  It is the awareness of difference between what is wanted and what is experienced.  And it can be anything; whatever we are experiencing, getting, doing, feeling, etc. is fine for the blank. 


What is not very common, however, is a systematic thought about that awareness.  That’s where today’s quote comes into the picture.  It seems simple, but I find it’s not as simple as it seems.  I think the only place we are typically clear is in the second step, knowing what we are getting.  While many of us feel the angst or pinch of frustration or dissatisfaction, not many of us at all are very clear on what we want.  We only know what we’re getting is not “it”.  I compare it to the conversation my wife and I have about supper many nights: What do you want?  I don’t know.  How about “this”?  No, that’s not “it”.  We know we’re hungry, and we know when the eaten meal is not satisfactory, but we couldn’t clearly state what we wanted in the first place.  Now apply that thought to many areas of your life.


* Are your financial experiences satisfactory?

* Are your relational experiences satisfactory?

* Are your family experiences satisfactory?

* Are your health experiences satisfactory?

* Are your work experiences satisfactory?

* Etc. etc. etc.


Knowing what you want is challenging but it pales in comparison to making the change to get what you want.  Is it easier to simply complain about dissatisfaction?  Is it more pleasing to be a suffering martyr?  I don’t think so, yet the third step, while intuitive, is wildly daunting.  What I love about today’s quote, however, is that it focuses change not on some arbitrary objectives but specifically in the desired direction.  Figure out what you want in the first place, be objective in the awareness of what you’re getting, and then boldly make changes in the direction that creates satisfaction.  Take these steps towards success and start having more days of joy.  Sounds good to me, and I’ll have Indian food tonight, thank you.  Have a wonderful week.


Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 08:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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