Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Drink, Steal, Swear & Lie - 4 rules to live by?


I met this guy while I was in Albuquerque and he has a motto he lives byeveryday. He said listen carefully and live by these 4 rules: Drink, Steal,Swear, & Lie.

I was shaking my head 'no', but he then told me to listenwhile he explained his four rules. So here they are:

1.. "Drink" from the "everlasting cup" every day.
2.. "Steal" a moment to help someone that is in worse shape than you are.
3.. "Swear" that you will be a better person today than yesterday.
4.. And last, but not least, when you "lie" down at night, thank God youlive in America and have freedom.

I am not as good as I should be; I am not as good as I could be; but THANKGOD, I am better than I used to be.

- Author Unknown

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Baby Carriage on the Beach...

The other day we went to the local beach here in Florida, Pine Island.

Something struck me at this beach that I wanted to pass along to you. We were sitting in the sun, I was reading, the kids were swimming, and a man walked by dragging a baby carriage through the sand. He was yelling to his wife how hard it was to drag that carriage with those tiny wheels through the sand. He even said, "I don’t think this thing was designed for use in sand." What struck me was that this man was only twenty feet from a sidewalk – walking parallel to it. Only twenty feet to his left, he would have found a very smooth path for his carriage. But he continued struggling.

We are God’s workmanship. But so often we drudge along, finding it very difficult to do things that we were never created to do in the first place. And often the solution is so close. But we are so stubborn…

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Good Morning Grace...

I am on vacation these weeks - actually halfway through at the time I finally get to write something.
We are going to Florida to see my parents, and on the first night out, we stopped to see our neice in North Carolina. She has a new dog since our last visit, named Grace.
We spent two nights with our neice, so we could have an entire day with her and her husband, and that first morning when my wife came down the stairs, the dog, Grace, went crazy to see her, excited as only a dog can be. She shouted out, "Good morning, Grace" as she saw the dog coming.
That stuck in my head. Good morning grace! We know that God's grace is new every morning. And I can easily imagine God's grace as excited each morning as the dog was. Can you? God's grace as happy to see you as a pet dog might be.
Imagine that tomorrow morning. As you get up, greet God's grace! And imagine how excited God is to give you that grace today!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Random Reflections...

When I started this blog about a year ago, it was to be a daily reflection on the being a part of the Body of Christ. Lately I haven't been doing to good at the daily part, and I apologize for that.

Since then, in the last year, we have had over 2800 page views from people in 19 U.S. States and 23 countries.

That is amazing to me. Thank you for reading this blog. Thank you for waiting and watching for what might come next. I thank you most for your faith in God, for without faith, you would find other things on the internet to read.

I find it very interesting that direction that God takes our lives. I praise Him for his work in me, and I will be available to Him as long as He can use me. And after that, I guess I'll have to trust Him all the more...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Trusting in God

Sometimes as I read Scripture, I find something that causes me to pause and reflect.

That was the case this morning. I was reading Psalm 41. In this Psalm, David’s enemies are pursuing him, saying evil things about him, and devising evil plans against him. Even his best friend has turned against him. He is all alone, and fears that death is near.

Yet he looks to God. All of his hope is found in God. He believes that God will lift him up and deliver him. And his proof? Verse 11: “By this I know that you are pleased with me, that my enemy does not triumph over me.”

How does David know that God is still with him? Because his enemies, while hotly devising evil schemes, have not yet killed him!

I find that pretty incredible. Today, so many people want God to deliver them from every bump in the road. Every hitch, every setback, is cause for wonder if God is still there.

Have the faith of David. God is with you! The fact that you are still here is all the proof you need. Live your life for God now, no matter how difficult it might be. Because you’ll probably never be as bad off as David was when he wrote Psalm 41. And David still knew of God’s love for him.

Though you may face trials of many kinds, God is with you and will deliver you. Trust in that!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Closing thought on Social Regression...

I have been passing along some thoughts over the last few days from Roberta Gilbert’s book, The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory, that show that our society today may be in crisis. Today, I would like to pass along one final thought on this (Again from Gilbert's book)…

How many people would it take, doing just one of the following -

  • Connecting with their generations, eliminating family cutoffs
  • Educating themselves as to the facts in our society – the regression (the social crisis)
  • Becoming clear on their guiding principles, being guided by them instead of political correctedness or groupthink
  • Taking a stand, after careful consideration
  • Defining a self in their families
  • Becoming principle-guided parents, rather than projecting a worried focus

- to bring the regression to an end? One can only guess how many it would take, but it is a fascinating question.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An answer to Social Regression...

Yesterday, I looked at some statistics from Roberta Gilbert’s book, The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory, that show that our society today may be in crisis. That, according to Family Systems Theory, or Bowen Theory, we may be in a time the theory refers to as Social Regression.

What do we do about it? How can change the course of society? In a family system, in order for the system of change, one person in the system, preferably a parent, will need to make a stand for higher and better functioning of self. They will begin to function better in the system, and in time, the system will react differently and change in the system will come about. Can we apply this to Society as a whole?

Roberta Gilbert makes the following suggestions of how we can make a difference:

1. Learn the facts and begin to make a difference. If societal regression is to turn around, people will have to get out of denial and start learning what is really taking place in society. This will mean reading more books and searching outside the usual media sources for facts. There is little time on TV for imparting the big picture – all the facts.

2. Learn to “think systems” in families and in organizations. Under the effects of heightened anxiety, people tend not to see the “big picture” or to think systems.” Rather they tend to think “cause and effect,” laying blame (on others).

3. Get clear on one’s guiding principles and learn to think according to them rather than what society tries to dictate. If one believes the family to be important, for example, one will already be standing contrary to what much if not most of society dictates.

4. Take a stand, after careful consideration address the problems in accordance with principles. With clarity on the facts, and as much information on the process as possible, guided by one’s best principles, a stand must eventually be taken.

Tomorrow, one final thought on the problem of social regression according to family systems theory.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Social Crisis?

I have just finished a class in Family Systems Theory, and have been doing some further reading. Essentially this theory, also called Bowen Theory after its founder, Murray Bowen, indicates that we are part of a system, and we operate as part of a system. As one person in a system changes, we react to that change, and the whole system changes. I find this very interesting in that when we change, we can change the system. I can use this in counseling people to help them realize they can change the family by changing how they react in the family.

One of the concepts in Family Systems Theory is that the theory also works to affect the emotional processes in society as a whole, not just members of a family or work system. To support this concept on a society wide basis, Roberta Gilbert, in her book, “The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory,” Gilbert suggests that we are in a period of social regression. To support this, she brings out some interesting statistics:

In 1940 the teachers in California were polled to find out what they considered the most troublesome problems they faced. The results were: Talking, Chewing gum, Making noise, Running in the halls, Getting out of line, Wearing improper clothing, and Not putting paper in the wastebasket.

Again, in 1990, fifty years later, they were polled. This time the answers were quite different: Drug Abuse, Alcohol abuse, Pregnancy, Suicide, Rape, Robbery, Assault.

In fifty years our society has changed a great deal if the schools are any indication.

Consider also that between 1963 and 1993 the crime rate went up 360%, youth crime is up 200%, teen pregnancy is up 600% and teen suicide is up 300% (now the second most important cause of death in teens, after accidents). One in five teens attempted suicide, single parents increased by 300%, SAT scores are down 7% and drug use is up over 1,000%.

These statistics show an overall deterioration in our society. If the theory is correct, and we are in a time of social regression, what can do about it? We’ll look at Gilberts ideas in tomorrow’s post…

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Olympic protests...

I have been watching the news reports and getting a little discouraged.

I guess humans have a way of politicizing anything. The protests over China holding the Olympic competitions this year are an example of this.

I have seen, in country after country, protestors attacking the runners who are carrying the torch, grabbing at the torch and trying to get it away from the runners.

I agree wholeheartedly that China is a great violator of human rights, that the situation in Tibet is a terrible of example of how a government should govern, and that real change is needed.

This situation has been going on for many, many years. Perhaps the Olympic Committee should have seriously considered this before awarding China as the host site. I realize this decision was made years ago, but the atrocities of Chinese human rights have been going on far longer.

However, the decision has been made. Like it or not, China will be hosting the Olympic events this summer. And young athletes, who have sacrificed everything for this chance, will be gathering to compete on the world stage.

Don’t let your political views spoil this once in a lifetime chance for these young athletes. You can’t protest the games without protesting the athletes, who didn’t make the decisions on where they would meet. You can’t boycott the opening ceremony without boycotting the athletes who sacrificed everything to be involved in this celebration.

They are the best of the best. Let’s support the Olympics. When they’re over, perhaps we can pressure the Olympic Committee to make wiser decisions in the future, and to find peaceful ways to influence these decisions.

But these protests now can only put a stain on the games and mar the medals awarded to gifted athletes all over the world.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Sunday's Message...

Almond has been rocked by several tragic deaths in the last two weeks. This weeks message looks at death and suffering from a Biblical perspective. Essentially, it reflects some of the things that I have been thinking about through all this.

To read the message, click the link below:

April 6 - Some Random Thoughts on Suffering

Thank you.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Does our faith make a difference?

I was thinking about this the other day. Does our faith really make a difference in our lives?

I think that it should. And in most cases I suppose that it does. As I was reflecting on this, I began remembering statistics that I heard in the past. I don’t have the references for these, but they should be available on the Internet. For example…

Statistics show that people in the hospital recover quicker when other people pray for them. The amazing thing to me is that they don’t have to know that others pray for them, they still recover quicker when people pray for them. This is part of the reason why you almost can’t find a hospital with out a Chaplain. You may not think you need God, but statistically you will recover quicker if you believe.

Statistics show that people who go to church have far fewer divorces than people who don’t. They first did this study comparing evangelical Christians against the rest of the population, but they asked if respondents were evangelical Christians, and took their word for it. That suggested that the rate of divorce was even slightly higher for evangelicals than the rest of the population. But if you apply one more filter, you see a huge difference. Those who actually attend church regularly have a dramatically lower chance of divorce. So you might not think you need God, but statistically, you are much less likely to get a divorce if you believe – and attend, a Christian church.

Our community has suffered a fair number of untimely deaths recently. I can't imagine not having faith. Thinking that death is the end, that there is nothing else, would be tragic in my mind. My faith tells me that death is not the end. There is hope, there is promise. There is eternity.

I have seen other statistics that look at longevity, at various measurements of happiness, and a host of other things. If you look at those people who believe and attend church, you will live longer, be happier, be healthier, and your marriage will be stronger.

Our faith really does make a difference!

Faith First

  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Taking him...