listening



A Facebook conversation this morning reminded me of this thought from the bible:
"let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger"
It has been said that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.

I like what this picture quote says. 80% seems to be a good goal for us when we are having a conversation. That said, it is challenging to do when we are the more outgoing person.

I think that listening is an art form of sorts. My wife is a great listener.

In my counseling days I tried to use the phrase 'what I hear you saying' to communicate that I am listening and that I am wanting to know what the talker is actually trying to communicate.

On several occasions Jesus spoke about having ears to hear. That is a challenging thought. It speaks to me about how difficult it is to hear ideas that challenge us. The underlying thought seems to be to keep open to new ideas and different concepts.

I think that listening is a form of love. Most of us want to really be heard and when someone listens to us it shows us that they really care. I think that a side effect of listening is that it turns our focus away from ourselves. And that is a good thing. Especially for people like me. ツ


Good Friday Reality Check



I think that the images at the left represent the different ways that people see the scourging of Jesus on that first Good Friday when He suffered at the hands of the religious and political leaders of His time.

In truth the image on the far left is the one that I want to cling to - the one of a super-human man who endured a beating and walked triumphantly to death.

The other image just breaks my heart. It haunts me. It challenges me. It confronts me with a reality that I don't like.

I pray that this will cause you to ponder the reality of Jesus' sacrifice for us.
It is a good thing to do on this Good day.


- I first posted this in 2010. Seemed appropriate to republish today.

Palm Sunday Meditations



The entrance into Jerusalem [on Palm Sunday] has all the elements of theatre of the absurd: the poor king; truth comes riding on a donkey; symbolic actions... even parading without a permit! Also, when Jesus "set his face to go to Jerusalem," what was involved was direct action, an open confrontation and public demonstration of the incompatibility of evil with the Kingdom of God. -David Kirk

But everyone who lined the streets had a different reason for waving those palms. Some were political activists; they'd heard Jesus had supernatural power, and they wanted him to use it to free Israel from Roman rule. Others had loved ones who were sick or dying. They waved branches, hoping for physical healing. Some were onlookers merely looking for something to do, while others were genuine followers who wished Jesus would establish himself as an earthly king. Jesus was the only one in the parade who knew why he was going to Jerusalem - to die. He had a mission, while everyone else had an agenda. -Bill Hybels


messy grief




I love the representation of grief presented in this image.

It communicates to me that grief is:

  • anything but neat and tidy;
  • different for each person that experiences loss;
  • multifaceted and often repetitive;
  • not limited to the five Kubler Ross steps.
In my experience grief is one of the most chaotic experiences of life.

If you are experiencing it I pray that you will be able to find peace in the chaos.


what it means to stay positive



These words speak to me about having a resilient attitude.  They remind me to keep going in hard times.

I have had a rough week. I needed to be reminded that success often looks like just keeping on keeping on.

So in the coming days I will purpose to live one day at a time and find joy in things both small and large.


developing my inner voice




A few thoughts that I recently shared with a friend ...

It has been hard for me to discern and develop my own inner voice. Here are a few thoughts about my journey:

  1. Acknowledging the existence of my beautiful inner heart/self/voice seemed to be the starting point. Getting past the idea that my heart was actually trustable and not desperately wicked was a good start.
  2. Trying to figure out why I have done, or am doing, things is sometimes hard but necessary. My big discovery was that I did a lot of things because I was a rules follower. I still love rules and principles but now understand a tad more about how impotent and limiting they can be.
  3. Focusing on becoming more loving seems to sometimes identify the battle between head and heart. I am always aware about how much fear is a part of my journey. Even today I struggle with the future because I am fearful of future health problems for Ann and me.
  4. Being open to change has been really been hard for me. I retired at 49 from a job that I loved. A few years later I left a ministry position that I did not want to leave. Each time I tried to lean into the still small voice of my inner self. In each case I was glad that I did.
  5. In my early years I really judged myself harshly. I had grace for everybody but me. Being comfortable in my own skin and owning who I am seems like a cliche but it took a long time for me to get there.
Hoping that this might help someone who struggles finding their inner voice. I welcome your input.


Losing sleep over losing an hour of sleep?



Just a reminder for you in the United States and other places that observe Daylight Savings - this weekend is the time that we proverbially spring ahead. I am a big fan of DST. I love having an extra hour of daylight in the evening.

The idea of daylight saving time was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 but some think it was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson. It was first implemented by Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1916. The US began implementing it in the 1940s.


How about you? Are you a fan of this practice or will you lose sleep over losing an hour of sleep tonight?


a christian litmus test


A few excerpts from an article by Stephen Mattson titled "Not Everything 'Biblical' Is Christlike".

"While the Bible can be manipulated to say and mean almost anything, the words, actions, and life of Jesus aren’t as pliable."


"For Christianity, the litmus test should always be: Is this Christlike? Imagine all of the times were read, see, and hear the term ‘biblical’ used. Now practice changing the wording to ‘Christlike’: Would you rather your church be biblical or Christlike? Would you rather a political policy be biblical or Christlike? Would you rather someone’s actions be biblical or Christlike? Would you rather have your beliefs be the most biblical or the most Christlike? Would you prefer a life that is biblical or Christlike?"

I recommend the article to you. You can read it here.


God’s Dream for the World



“Christ in Silence” by Odilon Redon circa 1897

"God’s vision for humanity is nothing less than for us to be participants in the perfect love that he is throughout eternity. He wants the love of the Trinity to be the replicated toward us, among us and through us to the whole world. God’s dream is for us to be in him, and he to be in us—in the same way the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. The dream is for humanity to be loved by God, and to in turn love God, with one and the same love that is the eternal triune God." -Greg Boyd, God’s Dream for the World. Read more here.


Weird Lincoln / Kennedy Trivia



Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost a child while living in the White House.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head.

Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1838.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.

Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.

Lincoln was shot at the theater named "Ford."
Kennedy was shot in a car called "Lincoln" made by "Ford."

Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.


The Glorious Mystery of Christmas




The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. -John 1:14 MSG

There is a divine mystery that has surrounded humanity since the very first Christmas. Doubtful that anyone in that stable where baby Jesus was born really understood the significance of what had just happened. Who could have grasped that God Almighty had taken on human flesh? Who could have understood that this was not an earthly king come to sit on an earthly throne? Who looking at this helpless babe could have ever imagined that he was the the One to save them from their sins?

Yet John says here that he was one of the ones who saw the glory. He knew the Messiah and he embraced the nature of his divine mission. As John writes you get the impression that he was looking back and realizing that he walked with God and saw his glory for many years. John witnessed the miracles, remembered the teachings, agonized over the cross and saw the resurrected Messiah. These verses bind together the miracles of Christmas and Easter. They reveal to us the mystery and glory of Christmas.


spiritual possibilities



Where there is freedom there is the possibility of love.
Where there is love there is the possibility of pain.
Where there is pain there is the possibility of a savior.
Where there is a savior there is the possibility of redemption.
Where there is redemption there is the possibility of a restoration.

-Ravi Zacharias


how to be happy



Dear Stranger,

You don’t know me but I hear you are going through a tough time, and I would like to help you. I want to be open and honest with you, and let you know that happiness isn’t something just afforded to a special few. It can be yours, if you take the time to let it grow.

It’s OK to be stressed, scared and sad, I certainly have been throughout my 66 years. I’ve confronted my biggest fears time and time again. I’ve cheated death on many adventures, seen loved ones pass away, failed in business, minced my words in front of tough audiences, and had my heart broken.

I know I’m fortunate to live an extraordinary life, and that most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought me happiness. But they haven’t; in fact it’s the reverse. I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy.

So many people get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy but, in my opinion, this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being. In order to be happy, you need to think consciously about it. Don’t forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too.

Kids are often asked: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ The world expects grandiose aspirations: ‘I want to be a writer, a doctor, the prime minister.’ They’re told: go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, and then you’ll be happy. But that’s all about doing, not being – and while doing will bring you moments of joy, it won’t necessarily reward you with lasting happiness.

Stop and breathe. Be healthy. Be around your friends and family. Be there for someone, and let someone be there for you. Be bold. Just be for a minute.

If you allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment, happiness will follow. I speak from experience. We’ve built a business empire, joined conversations about the future of our planet, attended many memorable parties and met many unforgettable people. And while these things have brought me great joy, it’s the moments that I stopped just to be, rather than do, that have given me true happiness. Why? Because allowing yourself just to be, puts things into perspective. Try it. Be still. Be present.

For me, it’s watching the flamingos fly across Necker Island at dusk. It’s holding my new grandchild's tiny hands. It’s looking up at the stars and dreaming of seeing them up close one day. It’s listening to my family’s dinner-time debates. It’s the smile on a stranger’s face, the smell of rain, the ripple of a wave, the wind across the sand. It’s the first snow fall of winter, and the last storm of summer. It’s sunrise and sunset.

There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. As human beings we have the ability to think, move and communicate in a heightened way. We can cooperate, understand, reconcile and love, that’s what sets us apart from most other species.

Don’t waste your human talents by stressing about nominal things, or that which you cannot change. If you take the time simply to be and appreciate the fruits of life, your stresses will begin to dissolve, and you will be happier.

But don’t just seek happiness when you’re down. Happiness shouldn’t be a goal, it should be a habit. Take the focus off doing, and start being every day. Be loving, be grateful, be helpful, and be a spectator to your own thoughts.

Allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment. Take the focus off everything you think you need to do, and start being – I promise you, happiness will follow.

Happy regards,

Richard Branson
https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/how-be-happy