Friday, April 30, 2010

Love the Least

Take great care not to align yourself only with those in high and influential places; recall that Jesus dined with and cared for the outcast, not limiting himself to the company of the king’s court and temple priests. If you enjoy the love of Christ you will faithfully minister to the least. Called to a heritage of blessing you must live a life of blessing. Having contempt for the least, rather, for anyone, only encourages the unbeliever. Love the least.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dose of Wisdom #3

Listen carefully.

When listening to anyone, what you hear depends in large part on how you hear. You should be quick to listen, but slow to speak and even slower to become defensive or angry, for neither reaction will bring out the best in you. Some of the best conversations you’ll have in life will be the most difficult ones. Strive to understand that criticism is as valuable to you as praise, and take care to represent yourself as one who is willing and able to listen to both. Praise tells you what you do well and that which you should maintain, but criticism tells you what you do not do so well, and that where you should focus your efforts for improvement. Remember, just because you don’t want to hear it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth hearing.

Your To Do: Think back to occasions when feedback angered you. Consider how you might handle similar feedback in a more calm and productive fashion, and how you might use feedback for self-improvement. Ask someone for constructive yet critical feedback; listen and use what you hear.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Love Your Neighbor

Though you may exhibit what the world calls charity and kindness in the highest degree, unless you are filled with love, your deeds are nothing. It is in our love for our neighbor, moreover, all our brethren, that we continue Christ’s work of spreading the word of God. Go, be a disciple, love your neighbor and bear good fruit. Love each other so well that there will be mutual service and helpfulness, all for God’s glory.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cherish Your Spouse

Marriage is a state of mutual obligations. Each spouse must yield to the other what those obligations require. Your spouse is a great blessing given to you so that you may more fully enjoy your life not only on earth, but in heaven as well. Honor and cherish that blessing. You are called to love your spouse just as Christ loved the church, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. Cherish your spouse.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Help Others Succeed

If Christ encourages and blesses you, be like-minded. Serve not only your own interests, but also the interests of others, all the while spurring them on toward their own good deeds, not letting them fall into the neglect of their brethren. Help others succeed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Do Your Share

Let each do as he is able according to his blessings, no matter how high or low the task may be, with joy in his heart, knowing he is a model of Christ’s love and mercy. He who is able to work, should. It pleases the Lord for you to do your share and to do it well.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dose of Wisdom #2

You cannot make someone love you, but you can be someone who can be loved.

You may now or will one day wish to have someone to love, someone who will love you in equal return. You may even currently be in a determined search to find that person who would fulfill your romantic dreams. But do you know who you are looking for? An eligible single who best meets your criteria yet whom you must convince to become interested in and attracted to you? Or someone who sees you, understands you, and loves who you are? Think more about who is interested in you than who you wish were interested in you. It is far better to be readily loved than to work hard to cause someone to love you. The former is indeed a gift; the latter is indeed not.

Your To Do: Take a thorough, objective inventory of yourself and discover those characteristics and attributes which draw others toward you. Work to enhance those appealing assets, and then wait patiently for that special someone who will one day find you, and love you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One Act

We cannot adequately demonstrate the love of Christ in the privacy of our homes, among only our closest friends or within the walls of our church. Instead, just as Jesus walked from city to city imparting mercy and grace to all he came in contact with, we are to be similarly intentional about imparting mercy and grace to others. We should do this as every opportunity arises, even if in unlikely places. As in when standing next to someone on a street corner, while in line in a grocery store, in the break room at work, during rush hour traffic jams, and even more far reaching places and occasions.

Being a disciple, an ambassador to Christ and a willing minister to others, is a dynamic life process. Yet for some, putting his or her theology into action may at first be an awkward, even uncomfortable, process.

Many of us go through life averting our eyes from unfamiliar and dissimilar people, missing an opportunity to speak to or literally touch someone who may be in great need or agonizing pain. But imagine a world where you demonstrate one loving, selfless deed every day, and your deed inspires good deeds in others, which in turn inspires more good deeds in still others. Your one act of Christian loving-kindness may ripple across the workplace, your neighborhood, even your entire community, resulting in immeasurable Kingdom impact, all for the glory of God. How awesome would that be!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Do Good Works

The Christian code is to do good; by your good works you bring glory to God. Your faith in God if that faith is without works is not enough. Care for others and exhort them to love and to do good works, for through good works Christ’s love is shown to still others. That love must not be an empty profession, but an active and practical love, a love that identifies you as a faithful child of God. Do good works.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Meagan Turns 20!

Today my dear daughter turns 20! In her honor, today I'm posting the introduction to my first book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, written twelve years ago for one reason: to let her know how much I love her. Enjoy!

I have known from a very early age that I wanted to be a father, and particularly the father of a daughter. I’m not sure that I really know why, but I have been certain that I would be blessed with a girl child. My heart has always melted when I held little baby girls or grew envious when I watched them as toddlers crawling into their father’s laps to cuddle. I’ve been touched while listening to women speak fondly of their fathers and moved by the grief of women who have lost their fathers. The love shared between a daughter and a father seemed to me to certainly be special, and was something I wanted very much to experience for myself.

When my wife told me she was pregnant I was overjoyed and quick to believe that the baby would indeed be a girl. Throughout the pregnancy I spoke of the baby as “her” or “she,” never as “it.” When I saw the first sonogram I could tell that our baby was a girl. Even though the doctor said it was too early to tell, I was convinced and thereafter believed my hopes and dreams about fatherhood were coming true. I was in the delivery room when she arrived. The first person she looked at was me. I was smitten instantly.

After the delivery an exhausted mother slept while Meagan Katherine and I bonded. She slept on my shoulder; her face nestled under my chin. We spent her first night in the world together, asleep in a big recliner. Today, nearly twelve years later, Meagan still lays her head on my shoulder and turns her face into my neck. I still pull her close and make sure no harm comes to her.

Over the years Meagan and I have done much together. We have daddy-daughter dates, she travels with me, and we play together, learn new things together and do sweet things for one another now and then. Sometimes we sit on my bed and look through the contents of the “Meagan Box,” a cardboard box overstuffed with pictures, her artwork, keepsakes and notes we have written to each other. In that box resides the reassuring evidence of our close relationship. Her mother and I divorced years ago and Meagan lives with me half time. During the weeks that she is with her mother, I go to that box often. For a long time I have wanted to capture those memories and put them together in some form to give to Meagan, to reassure her that when we are not together, that I think of her and I love her.

With the same certainty that I had about having a daughter, I have also been certain that the relationship Meagan and I have would be a changing one. I knew, and people told me, that one day she would be a little less affectionate, more interested in friends, less entertained by me, and that she might perhaps even find me embarrassing. It has surely come to pass. Now when I take her to school, she kisses me good-bye, and never on the lips, before we leave the house. I may not listen to my music from the moment the car enters school territory. I am to keep both hands on the wheel, my gaze fixed straight ahead. I should wave just at other parents, and only if they wave first. If I must say, “I love you”, it is to be nearly whispered, and never if the car door is open. Sometimes I go to the Meagan Box to reassure myself.

When I first began this book I intended to create a different kind of “how to” book, a book daughters could give to their fathers to tell them what they wanted from them. I sat and thought of the things my daughter and I have done together. I remembered what my father had done with my sister, and my uncles with my cousins. I asked Meagan for some ideas. Then I wrote it all down. The first time I read what I had written I saw a list of what a daughter might ask her father to do for her (just as I had planned). The second time I read it I saw a list of all that I hope to do for my daughter. The third time I read it I saw myself telling Meagan that she would change but never outgrow me. When I read it the fourth time, I knew I was holding the Meagan Box.

With this book Janet and I hope to inspire new fathers and experienced fathers to embrace the important role they have in their daughters’ lives, and give them the love, nurture and support they seek, and to enjoy that which is reciprocated in kind. With this book I tell my child how very irreplaceably important she is to me. With this book I comfort and reassure myself that I will always have the pleasure and honor of being in her life. I love you Meagan Katherine.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Dose of Wisdom #1

Seek the regular counsel of someone better equipped than you.

As competent as you may be, your knowledge and experience is limited to that which you have been exposed to. While you may often draw from your prior knowledge and experience to help you reach wise decisions, you are likely unable to handle anything since you have not yet been (and are most likely not to be) exposed to all things. Consequently, when confronted with a unique and unexpected challenge or circumstance, you may be inadequately equipped to handle the matter appropriately. In such times you would do well to turn to a trusted, mature advisor, seeking his counsel, thoughtfully considering his advice given based on his greater wisdom and experience.

Your To Do: Identify a person you can rightfully consider wiser and more experienced than you, preferable someone older and with life experiences different from your own. Ask him to be your mentor and begin spending regular time together in discussion and disclosure, presenting to him your questions and challenges. Listen carefully, learn from him, and equip yourself with his wisdom.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Commissioned

Last night I had the pleasure and priviledge to help commission ten new Stephen Ministers, Christian lay-counselors, into our Perimeter Church fold. It was a wonderful experience, and reminded me of my own commissioning last year. I'm reposting today what I wrote in April '09:

So now I’m a Stephen Minister; the commissioning ceremony was last night. Twelve others and I met with the other ministers and officially accepted into the ministry. It really was a powerful evening.

First of all, I went alone because Linley had come down with tonsillitis that day and was feeling pretty bad, so she and Jill stayed home but they did send me off with hugs and smiles of pride. I know I have their support.

We began with a brief social so that new and old ministers could get to know one another, and then went into the prayer room. Perimeter has a prayer team that meets at the church several times a week to pray for the church, congregation, community and more. Before this group we took our oath, answering “Yes, with the help of God,” to each question. It was a reminder to us that we are not healers, only messengers. God is the healer. Then we received our Stephen Ministry certificates.

After the formal commissioning, each new minister was lead away by two members of the prayer team who asked what weighed heavily on us, and then prayed for us individually. It was overwhelming to hear two people pray so earnestly and personally for me and my family. I am rich with blessings already, but if God finds favor in me as these two people asked him to, I’m going to be hard pressed to describe my gratitude. I tell you, it makes me want to serve Him even more.

Next we gathered in a circle and were asked to hold our hands out palms up. An Elder went around to each of us and anointed us, making the sign of the cross in each palm with francenscence oil. As he did so another Elder read to us the story of Stephen from the book of Acts. After each of us was anointed, we were asked to hold hands. As we did the prayer team gathered around us, laid hands on our shoulders, and took turns praying out loud for us.

I kid you not, warmth filled my hands, and I felt warm vibrations radiating from their hands on my shoulders into and throughout my body. Their words lifted my heart. The ceremony was as powerful as when I became baptized.
When it was over we all congratulated each other, Carla, my prayer partner during the training, and I hugged and made plans to meet with our spouses for a glass of wine next week, and then everyone went their separate ways.

As I got into the car I found two notes sitting on the passenger seat. Jill and Linley had driven to the church to deliver them, wanting me to know they were there for me even though they couldn’t attend the ceremony.

What a night. I’m proud to be a Stephen Minister.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Use Measured Words

Words can be either lasting solace or lethal poison. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. Let not your mouth utter both blessing and cursing, good and evil, as it is an insult to God, the creator of all people. Choose your words with care and let them lift others up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tell The Truth

Simply let your Yes be Yes, and your No, No. You are a member of the Christian household, and every member has a right to the truth; do not lie. You have taken off your old self with its ill practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed. Tell the truth.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Listen With Understanding

Take heed that you might faithfully hear the Word and use the Word to glorify God in all other things that you hear and answer to. When listening to man, what you hear depends on how you hear. You should be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry, for anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Always sympathize with the joys and sorrows of others. Listen with understanding.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Ease Other's Burdens

There are many burdens: financial, spiritual, emotional, and physical. Fulfill the law of Christ and help carry others’ burdens as you are able. Bear in mind that you yourself are not infallible, so judge others’ burdens gently.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Lend Helping Hands

Honest labor is the best antidote to a dishonest life. Every man is to labor in order that he may not only supply his needs, but have that which he can give. To do something with your own hands for someone in need is pleasing to Christ. When you do, your faith will grow and be witnessed by many. That pleases Christ too. Lend helping hands.