Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An inspirational story for a Wednesday

One of the features of my blog is that I try to include an inspirational story on Wednesday ... i.e. HUMP-Day. Personally, I found that Wednesday was always the hardest day during the week to get through. More challenges were faced on a Wednesday than on a Monday or a Friday. I found myself trying to find a story or two that would lift my spirit and carry me through the day. So, why change now ... here is one dealing with adversity.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up; She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see.' 'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, 'What does it mean, mother?'

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Quote for today: “Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness.” Malcolm Muggeridge

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Finding a purpose in life

There are a few questions that I just cannot run away – no matter how hard I try. The question that causes me to pause is, “Why am I here? What is my purpose in life?” I kind of backed into my struggle with the “purpose” of living.

While serving as the senior pastor of First UMC, Gainesville it hit me one Wednesday evening in an unexpected way. Every 5th Wednesday evening the youth sponsored a Spaghetti Supper as means to raise money for one project or another. As a parent who had a child in the group I volunteered. So there I was in the kitchen, with cole slaw up to my elbows when someone comes in to inform me that the woman’s toilet was backed up. Our evening custodian had been given the night off because of his sick wife so I turned to the associate pastor and the youth director, who were just standing around talking, and asked one of them to see what they could do to fix the problem. Both of them said, in unison, “I don’t think so. It’s not in my job description!”

That is when I decided to implement something that I had been struggling with for many months. We would eliminate job descriptions and go to mission statements answering the more difficult question: “Why has God placed you on this particular church staff at this particular time in history?” In other words, what is your purpose here at the church … not what is your job. Well, the change wasn’t well received. It was a lot easier for a committee to tell people what their job was instead of determining what your own purpose was – especially in light of God’s call.

Another way to understand this was illustrated by Dr. Dale Turner when he told the following story: “John W. Gardner, founding chairman of Common Cause, said it's a rare and high privilege to help people understand the difference they can make -- not only in their own lives, but also in the lives of others, simply by giving of themselves. Gardner tells of a cheerful old man who asked the same question of just about every new acquaintance he fell into conversation with: ‘What have you done that you believe in and you are proud of?’ He never asked conventional questions such as "What do you do for a living?" It was always, "What have you done that you believe in and are proud of?"It was an unsettling question for people who had built their self-esteem on their wealth or their family name or their exalted job title.

“Not that the old man was a fierce interrogator. He was delighted by a woman who answered, ‘I'm doing a good job raising three children;’ and by a cabinetmaker that said, ‘I believe in good workmanship and practice it;’ and by a woman who said, ‘I started a bookstore and it's the best bookstore for miles around.’

‘I don't really care how they answer,’ said the old man. ‘I just want to put the thought into their minds. They should live their lives in such a way that they can have a good answer. Not a good answer for me, but for themselves. That's what's important.’"

I continue to struggle, even more so now in retirement, with an answer that makes sense. God will not leave me alone on this issue. Just this past Sunday, an usher stopped me on my way into worship, and asked, “Why are you retired? You should still be preaching every Sunday!” Good question for which I really didn’t have a good answer. And the struggle continues!

Dear Lord, give guidance and insight into a life driven by purpose. Amen

Quote for today: “A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder--a waif, a nothing, a no man. Have a purpose in life, and, having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into your work as God has given you.” Thomas Carlyle

Monday, March 29, 2010

Underdog - rooting for and being one

Then there were 4 – four teams filled with hope and possibility; four teams looking to next weekend as their appointment with destiny; four teams of young men looking for glory; four teams of dreamers, finger-crossers, starry-eyed, talented and very athletic basketball players who are ending up where few will ever be. Only one of the #1 ranked teams is still in the mix. The underdog team that I had picked, St. Mary’s of California, is no longer among the survivors … but Butler is.

I’m not sure if I am more taken with the team or their coach. Both are underdogs! Brad Stevens is only 33 years old, but has the calm demeanor of someone who is much older and wiser. Mr. Stevens left a very promising business career to follow his dream just 9 years ago. He has achieved a success level that few in the ranks of college coaching have ever seen … and he has done it as an underdog.

Rooting for the underdog is an interesting process. We all do it (unless we have a connection with one of the other teams as a student, alumnus, etc.) because maybe, just maybe we all feel to some degree we are the underdog. Plus, it really does feel good when the underdog beats the odds. So here is to all the underdogs of the world … may you find the success that is coming your way and may it arrive sooner than you can imagine.

As the spiritual study “Experiencing God: knowing and doing the will of God” teaches, we need to “God size our dreams” – meaning that we need to set out a goal much bigger than our abilities can ever achieve on its own. While leading this dynamic class I came upon a spiritual insight: God never asks us to do something that we can do! … because, if we can do it on our own then we don’t need God, but by including God in the process we can move mountains. Therefore, by “God sizing” our dreams and hopes we are reaching beyond our limits and abilities causing ourselves to stretch our souls to the height of what God intended when he created us in the first place. In other words, to “God size our dreams” is to state upfront that we will not be the underdog any longer for we are truly “somebody because God don’t make junk!” ... to quote a little girl in a picture which hung in my office for a number of years.

Quote for today: Instead of just one, I found many quotes concerning this subject. I am thankful to for them:

Irving Babbitt: A man needs to look, not down, but up to standards set so much above his ordinary self as to make him feel that he is himself spiritually the underdog.

Kate Beckinsale: Everybody likes the underdog, because everybody feels like the underdog. No matter how successful you are, you always think, No one's being nice enough to me!

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.: I never expect to lose. Even when I'm the underdog, I still prepare a victory speech.

Jessica Hagedorn: I'm an underdog person, so I align myself with those who seem to be not considered valuable in polite society.

Zac Efron: I'm very competitive by nature. And I like to be the underdog - It's the best way to win. To come from behind and win is a great feeling!

Steve Guttenberg: If you're an underdog, mentally disabled, physically disabled, if you don't fit in, if you're not as pretty as the others, you can still be a hero.

Lakhdar Brahimi: There is also a natural and very, very strong empathy with the underdog, with people who have suffered, people who have been pushed around by foreigners in particular, but also by their own people.

Happy Chandler: We Americans are a peculiar people. We are for the underdog, no matter how much of a dog he is.

Johnny Weissmuller: With but few exceptions, it is always the underdog who wins through sheer willpower.

Maria Sharapova: Well, fans always root for the underdog.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Holy Week perspective

As Holy Week begins today here is just one perspective on the hands of Jesus … I begin with a popular e-mail that continues to make the rounds and end with the lyrics of a popular youth song of several years ago.

Hands! Author unknown
A basketball in my hands is worth about $19. A basketball in Michael Jordan's hands is worth about $33 million. It depends whose hand’s its in.
A baseball in my hands is worth about $6. A baseball in Roger Clemens' hands is worth $475 million. It depends on whose hand’s it's in.
A tennis racket is useless in my hands. A tennis racket in Andre Agassi's hands is worth millions. It depends whose hand’s its in.
A rod in my hands will keep away an angry dog. A rod in Moses' hands will part the mighty sea. It depends whose hands its in.
A slingshot in my hands is a kid's toy. A slingshot in David's hand is a mighty weapon.It depends whose hand’s it's in.
Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches. Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in Jesus' hands will feed thousands. It depends whose hand’s its in.
Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse. Nails in Jesus Christ's hands will produce salvation for the entire world. It depends whose hand’s it's in.
As you see now, it depends whose hands it's in.

So put your concerns, your worries, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, your families and your relationships in God's hands because... It depends whose hand’s it's in.

One of my youth choirs once enjoyed singing the once popular song by Anderson Lynn:

Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea … Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently by puttin your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.

Every time I look into the Holy Book I wanna tremble … When I read about the part where a carpenter cleared the temple … For the buyers and the sellers were no different fella's than what I professed to be and it causes me shame to know I'm not the gal that I should be.

Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water … Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea. Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently by puttin your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.

Mama taught me how to pray before I reached the age of seven and when I'm down on my knees, that's when I'm close to heaven … Daddy lived his life for two kids and a wife, but you do what you must do but he showed me enough of what it takes to get me through

EASTER is the time that we are reminded about some nailed pierced hands that turned the world upside down and changes lives.

Holy Week … Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black or Dark Saturday, Easter … the journey of Holy Week – it can be just “another week like all weeks, but you are there” or it can be a life changing week like none other.

Quote for today: “When we get full of ourselves, we get empty of God.” Shared by Geneva Nelson

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A lighter side of life

The late Rev. Dr. Gene West had been assigned to the historical Quincy Methodist Church. It was his first Sunday as their new preacher. Neither he nor his wife nor his young sons knew all of the in-and-outs of their new congregation. One of those little bits of information that wasn’t communicated was that the balcony was closed during the summer months and that is exactly where his two boys headed for worship. They had never been to a church with a balcony before and were really excited.

It came time for the morning offering. The ushers didn’t know that Gene’s two sons had slipped up into the balcony so they didn’t make it up there to receive their quarters. Gene said that he was standing up front of the sanctuary watching all of this transpire and couldn’t do anything but watch.

His boys knew that they had quarters for the offering plate. They remembered well the instructions of both their parents that they had to place it in the offering plates. The ushers didn’t come and receive their money … so … being creative and innovative thinking young men they simply leaned out over the rail of the balcony and waited for the ushers to emerge from under the balcony. With perfect timing and aim they let loose their quarters, the quarters hit the offering plate which startled the ushers who reacted with surprise by throwing up the offering plates … money went everywhere and Pastor West’s children were introduced to the congregation.

Gene shared that first impressions are kind of hard to live down.

Quote for today: After Abraham Lincoln became president, before the days of civil service, office seekers besieged him everywhere trying to get appointments to various jobs throughout the country. Once, confined to bed with typhoid fever, exasperated, Lincoln declared to his secretary, "Bring on the office seekers; I now have something I can give to everybody." Author unknown

Friday, March 26, 2010

Being blessed by others - Part 2

Continuation of yesterday’s blog …

She was one of 35plus shut-ins that fell within my responsibility as the associate pastor. In my regular monthly visits I learned that she was in constant pain. She had been one of the earliest recipients of radiation and unfortunately, the flesh in her lower back had literally been fried to the point that it had to be cut away. Everything that she wore was caught by the bones of her spine. The pain was so bad that she could lay down, sit up or stand for only 15 to 20 minutes a time … and yet, what a spirit! She was admitted to St. Anthony’s hospital. I was making my hospital visits. When I entered her room it was filled with nuns, two priests, numerous doctors and nurses. I thought that I had walked into a death situation when a nun quickly shared, “Oh, no pastor, when we hear that this dear soul is back in the hospital we just want to come in and simply be in her presence. She is just a true blessing.”

Then there is Randy and Cynthia who co-founded the Helping Hands Clinic for the Homeless. They were nominated to receive recognition for their unselfish volunteer ministry through President Bush’s “Thousand Points of Light” program. It was my privilege to unite them in marriage and to work beside them at the clinic on Monday evenings along side two of their children. What a real blessing.

My family and I were blessed, in the same church, by being exposed to J.J. – he simply saw life from a total different perspective. He was always looking for a funny take on a situation. He was always watching my back and was deeply appreciate. His wife, Jo, was constantly exposing me to new and different reading material.

And then there was Mrs. St. Johns who took in a young preacher and his family with two very young children on moving day because the parsonage was being tented for termites.

Or, Mr. Hazelton who kept us in fresh fish during those two years in that parish.

There were two cantankerous older gentlemen, who I didn’t always appreciate at the time, but later came to see as a blessing. Harvey could make statements during church board meetings that would make anyone literally stop and say, “What?” or he would be shaking my hand after worship and drop one of his pithy statements that would make you wonder if he had really heard the sermon. Roland, on the other hand, simply would ask some of the most difficult questions during Wednesday night Bible Study. They were the type of questions that were more of a challenge to the preacher than seeking direction or information. Both of these gentlemen played the game of “Keeping Them Honest.”

And then there is Sam … a man with more bark than bite. I love him like a brother, but we sure do not agree when it comes to political matters.

When talking about being blessed by people there are those who are simply at the head of the list. Nanny Pearl and Grandpa Tom along with Buck and Sunny are angels in disguise. God brought them into our lives at a crucial and painful time – during the illness and death of our son. Words truly fail me in expressing just how much they have blessed our lives. They went well beyond the call of friendship and became a part of our extended family. We couldn’t have made it without them.

I could write a year’s worth of daily blogs about all the unique and various people God has placed in our lives … some for just a season, others for a lifetime. God continues to bless us with all sorts of people and for that I am eternally thankful. It gets kind of interesting to be looking around the next corner to see who he is bringing into our life next.

Thank you God for populating my world with a wide range of people! I pray that I can return the favor by being a blessing for them. Amen.

Quote for today: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” Robert Merrill and Jule Styne

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Being blessed by others

God blesses us in some wonderful and unusual ways. One of the major blessings is with the great people that he brings into our lives. Some come for just a season, while others come and stay for a long time. Each one is a channel of blessing, as well as a means of blessing for them because God brought us into their lives also.

Yesterday, I was blessed by driving Al Konetzni for the American Cancer Society. Al is a Walt Disney Legend – an actual distinction granted to him by the Disney organization in 1999. He is 94 years old and such a warm and wonderful person. It was my honor to be able to drive him to his appointment. Al is still bringing joy through his artwork by using it to help abused and disadvantaged children. Because of his cancer he is starting to think that he might be able to lift the spirits of cancer patients via the same method.

A couple of years ago I was blessed by Mary H. (another American Cancer Society person). Mary didn’t have any great honors bestowed upon her and yet she was as tremendous as Al. What struck me as special about Mary was her spirit – against unbelievable odds and a cancer that wouldn’t or couldn’t be defeated – she persevered … always with a strong, positive attitude. It was a blessing to pick her up each day and to simply be in her presence. It was amazing to sit back and witness the way she “worked” the waiting room at the doctor’s office. She spoke to everyone, bringing cheer and happiness, as the spirit of God touched their lives through the conduit of Mary H.

Then there was Mrs. Thomas – my first shut-in in my first parish. Mrs. Thomas had crippling arthritis. It was so bad that she had been bedridden for the last 15 years. I had gone, in that first visit, to bring comfort and a little sunshine and came away with being the one who was comforted for I had the privilege of sitting in the presence of pure light of God through Mrs. Thomas. She had her own unique ministry. Every day, as her son left for work, he would place in her deformed hand a pencil. With that pencil she was able to make over 75 telephone calls to other shut-ins all through Carroll Country. If she didn’t get an answer she would then call the police department to go by and check on the other person. Mrs. Thomas was credited with saving numerous lives via her telephone reassurance program. She found purpose in living when others would have found defeat.

And then there was the little Catholic lady in Hudson that Mrs. Kirby, our elderly baby-sitter, had asked me to visit in the hospital. The lady had to have both of her legs removed because of cancer. I wasn’t sure what I would find when I entered her hospital room, but what I did find really surprised me. I was prepared to bring a sustaining word from God and a good word from scripture, but ended up being sustained by the incredible spirit of the patient. I approached the subject carefully about her double amputation only to have her say, as she lifted both of her stumps, “Pastor, this is the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Because of these two stumps I’ve been able to witness to more people about my relationship with Jesus Christ than all of my previous 81 years. I thank God every day for the tremendous opportunity that he has given to me.” What a blessing to be in her presence.

(to be continued tomorrow with more stories of other people sent from God)

Quote for today: One morning R.C. Chapman, a devout Christian, was asked how he was feeling. "I'm burdened this morning!" was his reply. But his happy countenance contradicted his words. So the questioner exclaimed in surprise, "Are you really burdened, Mr. Chapman?" "Yes, but it's a wonderful burden--it's an overabundance of blessings for which I cannot find enough time or words to express my gratitude!" Seeing the puzzled look on the face of his friend, Chapman added with a smile, "I am referring to Psalm 68:19, which fully describes my condition. In that verse the Father in heaven reminds us that He 'daily loads us with benefits.'" Source unknown

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seeing all that we see

Unless a member of your family or a friend is blind you probably would have had little reason to be exposed to a marvelous organization called Lighthouse for the Blind. During my formative years my parents supported this charitable organization with regular contributions. I’m not really sure how they came to be involved, but they were.

Well, yesterday I provided transportation, through volunteering for the American Cancer Society, for their receptionist. She is a cancer survivor and needed to have her annual check-up. She and her husband are both blind and are both employed at the Lighthouse. He teaches computer skills for the blind. What a fantastic organization that provides a full range of living skills for those who happen to find themselves without the gift of sight.

Yesterday’s connection reminded me of one of my favorite stories. I’ve used it regularly in many of my teaching and preaching opportunities. It is a story from the life of one of my sheros, Helen Keller.

Ms. Keller was visiting one of our college campuses. After her presentation she opened up the session for a Q & A. Sometime during this dialogue a college student stood and asked her, with some sensitivity, if it was so bad to be blind. She responded, “No, it isn’t so bad to be blind than to have two good eyes and see nothing.”

So much of life is taken for granted. It passes us and we either simply do not see it or, even worse, we fail to recognize just how marvelous it all is. Even though we have two good eyes, we see nothing. At its best, life is short … too short … and, at least for me, I really do not want to miss any of it, but sadly I do.

Dear Lord, open my eyes that I might see; open my ears that I might hear; open my mind that I might understand; open my heart that I might feel; open my soul that I might experience all that you are sending my way. Amen.

Quote for today: “Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand." St. Augustine

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A need for national healing

When a person is physically ill they can turn to a physician to be healed. When there is mental illness a psychiatrist is one of the sources that can help in bringing about healing. When a spiritual matter arises and healing in this sphere is needed then a pastor can be called upon. But when a nation is in need of healing where does it turn?

It was recently shared, as the congress moved closer to the historical vote that took place Sunday evening, how deeply concerned this person was about our nation. Concerned not because of the health care issue and vote, but because of the pervasive anger, rising bigotry, all-inclusive mistrust and outright hatred being expressed by an increasing number of people and groups. America is need of a healing, but where does it turn … and who begins the healing process?

I don’t believe that it begins with electing new political leaders. Nor, does it begin with bringing prayer back into the schools. Nor, does it begin by posting a copy of the Ten Commandments in our courtrooms. Nor, does it begin with passing a new law or by overturning an existing law. Nor, does it begin with appointing different judges to the Supreme Court. Nor, does it begin with … (and you can fill in the blank with whatever you believe should happen next to bring about healing). Why doesn’t the healing begin here, because these issues and things are all outward and “quick” fixes to a much deeper problem.

A national healing begins with each one of us. It begins with feelings that we allow to grow within us. It begins with the language that we choose to use concerning other people and groups. We have to move away from our anger, bigotry, mistrust and hatred. Our attitude has to change. Our vocabulary has to change. Our feelings have to change. And, in so doing, we become the change agent … and then our beloved nation just might begin to heal.

Quote for today: “People need people. Laurie was about three when one night she requested my aid in getting undressed. I was downstairs and she was upstairs, and ... well. ‘You know how to undress yourself,’ I reminded. ‘Yes,’ she explained, 'but sometimes people need people anyway, even if they do know how to do things by themselves.’" William C. Schultz

Monday, March 22, 2010

A reflection on basketball

Now there are 16 teams. Since Thursday we have been spectators to some incredible basketball with a couple of games going into over time and others determined by the last shot taken. Oh, there have been too many runaways, but they truly pale in comparison to the cliffhangers and upsets.

There are the underdog teams such as Cornell, Washington, Missouri, and Old Dominion. But, then there is the giant killer Northern Iowa and the Cinderella team St. Mary’s, California.

We have witnessed incredible athletic ability, unbelievable coaching, and deep emotions of young men who have had “their card punched” for the next round or painfully saw their journey end on the hardwood boards of a basketball court.

The game itself continues to grow. In 1891 the number of pages in the rulebook for basketball was 2 pages. In 1991 it had grown to 114 pages. The game is kind of a reflective life itself.

Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Sometimes we are out of control, sometimes, sometimes we find our rhythm. Sometimes we are able to make the long-shots, sometimes we miss the sure dunk. Sometimes we get to play, sometimes we have to sit on the bench and simply watch. Sometimes we should take the shot, sometimes we need to pass the ball ... but at all times we really should give it our best regardless of our energy level remembering that we may never come this way again.

The one thing that is required from all of us is to get in the game … we were not created to be spectators!

Quote for today: “It is almost as presumptuous to think you can do nothing as to think you can do everything.” Phillips Brooks

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The ligher side of life

I’ve blogged this week about life so – because it is Saturday and time for my “lighter side of life” – here is my favorite story about when does life begin …

A priest, a protestant minister and a rabbi where discussing the matter as to when does life begin. The priest states, “I do not understand why there is even a question since the Holy Father, who is the very voice of God, has emphatically declared that life begins at conception. End of story!”

The protestant minister just shook his head and shared, “I’m sorry but you and the good Pope are wrong. Life doesn’t begin at conception, but rather at the point of birth itself.”

To which the rabbi finally raised his voice and said, “I’m deeply sorry, but you both have got it wrong. Life begins when the last child leaves and takes the dog.”

Quote for today: “I’ve met a lot of people who died at the age of 45, but unfortunately they just hung around until they were 70 to leave.” Source unknown

Friday, March 19, 2010


Have you ever asked yourself how you spend the 24 hours of each day? It is kind of sobering if the answer is driven by an honest response. My oldest brother, for a short period of time, was time-management possessed. He kept a little pocket notebook into which he would enter how he spent every second of his day … that is until he calculated how much time he was wasting making all those little entries.

Tom Heyman wrote: “In an average lifetime, the average American spends 3 years in business meetings, 13 years watching TV, Spends $89,281 on food, consumes 109,354 pounds of food, Makes 1811 trips to McDonalds, Spends $6881 in vending machines, Eats 35,138 cookies and 1483 pounds of candy, Catches 304 colds, Is involved in 6 motor vehicle accidents, is hospitalized 8 times (men) or 12 times (women), Spends 24 years sleeping.” Now that is sobering.

In the little monthly devotional booklet, Our Daily Bread, the following was included: “Someone has calculated how a typical lifespan of 70 years is spent. Here is the estimate: Sleep - 23 years or 32.9%; Work - 16 years or 22.8%; TV - 8 years or 11.4%; Eating - 6 years or 8.6%; Travel – 6 years or 8.6%; Leisure - 4.5 years or 6.5%; Illness - 4 years or 5.7%; Dressing - 2 years or 2.8%; Religion - 0.5 years or 0.7% … Total 70 years for 100%.” This too is very sobering.

The thing that strikes me as interesting in both of these quotes is that family time is not listed. Playing with your children is not listed. Dating your spouse is not listed. Meditation is not listed. Reading a book is not listed. Doing for others is not listed … nor is flying a kite, walking on a beach, recycling our stuff, enjoying a sunset, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and lonely, searching for the lost, lifting up the downtrodden … well, I think you get my drift.

How we spend our precious moments of life can make for some interesting reading … as well as, a rather twisted set of priorities.

Quote for today: "Someone once asked Tom Landry why he had been so successful as a football coach. He said, 'In 1958, I did something everyone who has been successful must do, I determined my priorities for my life — God, family, and then football.'" Source unkown

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On March Madness

And let the MADNESS begin … that is March Madness … NCAA Men’s Basketball … round ball! I’ve always cheered on any and all teams from the state of Florida, any SEC team, plus an underdog. I haven’t picked my underdog team yet, but it will be chosen before 1 pm this afternoon. This year I am looking for two surprising upsets – one against Kansas and one against Kentucky. It will make the tournament very interesting if either of these teams lose especially since it seems that all of the sports writers and commentators have already declared that it will be these two teams in the finals.

Confession is good for the soul … come the end of March I become a “coach potato” – TV set broadcasting the games, some fresh popcorn and a decent novel for the commercials. I enjoy all sports – even Winter Olympics Curling. What I especially like about college basketball is the pace of the game, that it is decided within a fairly short period of time, a game can change - thanks to the 3-point shots - quickly AND they DO NOT drench the coach with a bucket of Gatorade if they win! What I do not like about the game is that they can stretch the last 12 seconds of the game into 10 to 15 minutes … go figure!

Another thing I like about basketball is that you never know … you just never know. From a New York Times article is this story as quoted in the March, 1987 issue of “Reader’s Digest”: “Les Henson, a six-foot, six-inch senior forward on the Virginia Tech basketball team, will never forget a game against Florida State University in Tallahassee last year (1986). With two seconds to go and the score tied at 77 to 77, Henson grabbed a rebound off the Florida State backboard a foot from the baseline and threw the ball overhand toward his own basket. ‘It was eerie--you couldn't hear a thing in the arena,’ Henson recalled later. ‘Then it just swished through the hoop’ --from 89 feet, 3 inches away, making it the longest field goal in college basketball history. And Henson, who shoots with his left hand, had done it with a right-handed throw.” In college basketball you never know … and so bring on the Madness and enjoy a little escape from the daily routine of life!

Quote for today: “The psychology instructor had just finished a lecture on mental health and was giving an oral test. Speaking specifically about manic depression, she asked, ‘How would you diagnose a patient who walks back and forth screaming at the top of his lungs one minute, then sits in a chair weeping uncontrollably the next?’ A young man in the rear raised his hand and answered, ‘A basketball coach?’" from Bits & Pieces

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Two stories to ponder

Following up on yesterday’s blog here are two stories on the same theme.

Number 1: It is believed that this story first appeared in an Ann Landers column:

A professor in a world-acclaimed medical school once posed this medical situation -- and ethical problem -- to his students: "Here's the family history: The father has syphilis. The mother has TB. They already have had four children. The first is blind. The second had died. The third is deaf. The fourth has TB. Now the mother is pregnant again, The parents come to you for advice. They are willing to have an abortion, if you decide they should. What do you say?"

The students gave various individual opinions, and then the professor asked them to break into small groups for "consultation." All of the groups came back to report that they would recommend abortion.

"Congratulations," the professor said, "You just took the life of Beethoven!"

Number 2: This appeared in a letter to the “Wall Street Journal” and quoted in the February 1990 issue of “Reader’s Digest.”

Charles McCarry can claim a varied career. In addition to being the author of The Tears of Autumn and The Last Supper, he served as assistant to the Secretary of Labor in the Eisenhower cabinet and has done two stints in the CIA. But he almost wasn't born. Says McCarry, "My mother became pregnant with me at the age of 39. She had nearly died while giving birth to my only sibling. Her doctor, who believed the second pregnancy was a serious threat to her life, advised an abortion. The advice made sense, but my mother refused to accept it. Just before she died at age 97, I asked her why. She replied, "I wanted to see who you were going to turn out to be."

Two stories to ponder on a difficult subject.

Quote for today: “If anything is sacred the human body is sacred.” Walt Whitman

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Concerning the debate on abortion

The pundits make it sound so simple – so cut-and-dry – but the issues surrounding abortion is anything but. Herein lies my struggle.

Julie, the wife of my then district superintendent, shared the story and struggle of their daughter and her husband. In the first trimester the doctors discovered, through multiple tests, that the child she was carrying would be severely mentally and physically handicapped. Many hours were consumed in discussing all of their options, in praying through a most difficult decision and shedding more then their share of tears. The final painful decision was to carry the child to full term. The 2nd and 3rd trimesters were filled with pain, anxiety and self-doubt. But, when their daughter was born she was not like what the doctors and all of their testing proved – in fact she was just the opposite. She was a vibrant and alive young child with an IQ that was literally off the charts.

Further, as a pastor, I have walked with several young women and men through the deciding process concerning having verses not having an abortion. Through this process I have made one discovering – the emotional, mental, relational, spiritual and physical problems are identical for those deciding to keep the pregnancy as it is for those who decide to end the pregnancy. There are no simple answers when it comes to abortion – regardless of what the pundits would have you believe.

Still further, when I was in high school – back in the dark ages – before the Supreme Court made that landmark decision in Roe vs. Wade – there were several girls who had gotten pregnant and because of botched back alley type of abortions didn’t get to experience their graduation nor the rest of their life. It isn’t simple and it isn’t so cut-and-dry.

Do I believe that a woman has the right to make her own decisions concerning her body? Most definitely, but what rights does that life growing inside of her have? It isn’t so simple is it? Even the position that I have long taken, namely that abortion should be available in cases of incest, rape or when the mother’s life is threatened, is filled with challenges because I have walked with members of my churches when those three issues were present and they were confronted with making the difficult decision. It is tough. It is not simple. And, it is definitely not so cut-and-dry. The toll it takes on the people involved, regardless of what they decide to do, cannot really be measured.

The conclusion that I have arrived at is that the church and people of faith should stand with all individuals who are confronted with making such a decision regardless of what that decision is going to be. Further, where our energy and resources should be put to work is trying to understand and help those unmarried young men and women who, for whatever reason, decide to climb into bed with each other resulting in a pregnancy. What are the issues that caused this to happen and what can we do so that it won’t happen again?

As our congress continues to debate the pros and cons of the health care bill much of the recent comments surround the issue of abortion. As one old pastor, who has assisted individuals in the decision making process, I don’t think that they really know what they are talking about. For them it is just words, but for the rest of us it is lives “lived in the trenches” – so to speak. It is time for us to speak up and be heard.

Quote for today: “In Germany, they first came for the Communists and I did not speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me and by that time, there was no one left to speak up.” Martin Niemoller

Monday, March 15, 2010

Integrity in life

Something is really amiss in our society. There is an overriding negativity greeting us at every turn in life. Simple human trust and integrity is sorely lacking. Who can we believe? Who can we trust?

I should have seen it coming because way back at the beginning of my ministry – over 40 years ago – one of the teenagers from the church’s youth group got caught shoplifting from the local convenience store. He was sorry or so he said when in actuality he was only sorry that he got caught. This scenario was to repeat itself in every church that I served. Both trust and integrity were lacking.

In the last issue of TIME magazine (March 22, 2010) the feature special is: “10 Ideas for the Next 10 Years.” Number 9 – “The Twilight of the Elites … Why we have entered the post-trust era,” begins with this sobering observation: “In the past decade, nearly every pillar institution in American society … has revealed itself to be corrupt, incompetent or both. And at the root of these failures are the people who run these institutions … But after a cascade of scandals and catastrophes, the implicit social contract lies in ruins, replaced by mass skepticism, contempt and disillusionment.” (page 56)

Skepticism … contempt … disillusionment … How do we recover? How can we re-build the trust and integrity which are the fundamental building blocks of a healthy society?

The many e-mails that flood my in-box bear testimony to this reality. There is a lot of anger, hatred, prejudice, and bigotry being peddled all for the single purpose of allowing “their side” to win. Or, as one person shared his reasoning in forwarding these negative and offensive emails: “I just hope to open your eyes to the truth.” When are we going to realize that society cannot be built on negativity? Negative thinking destroys both the person and the object of their attack. Nobody wins.

Yes, it is possible to point an accusatory finger at Democrats or Republicans, at Wall Street or main street, at the Liberals or Conservatives, at the Supreme Court or selected set of laws, at the President or Congress, at labor unions or big corporations, at the greed of sports figures or CEOs, at mainstream media or radio talk shows, at the Catholic Church or mainline denominations … etc. … and state, as strongly as we can, “It is all your fault! If you would only agree with us then we will get back to being the country we once were.” BUT, once a person or institution has lost their integrity there is nothing left and on the altar of greed or fear we have sacrificed our integrity.

To rebuild the trust once shared, integrity in all matters must be rediscovered by each and everyone of us. John Bennett in “Social Christianity” defines integrity as the harmony between a person’s inner purpose and their outer actions.

Quote for today: “We believe in man’s infallibility, but it is restful to feel sure one man’s integrity.” Charles H. Spurgeon speaking of Gladstone

Sunday, March 14, 2010

About Self-worth

It has often been said, but seldom fully realized that too often we have defined ourselves by what we do instead of who we are. There are numerous roles, positions and standings that we have allowed to place boundaries around our spirit stacking out territory of definition.

Why? Well, speaking personally it has always been easier to go down that trail of “stuff” than work on personal integrity and/or the relationship with others and the Divine. These roles, positions and standings include, but not limited to, things like senior pastor, parent, grandparent, spouse, political party affiliation, the values of a financial portfolio, size and/or location of home, type and style of car driven, and/or the victories of our favorite sports team.

Said in another way it would be like measuring our self-worth by what we possess instead of what possesses us.

As we have painfully seen these past couple of year all of those “things” can be taken away by forces beyond our control blurring the defining lines of our territory. And, thus, one purpose of Sunday morning worship is to re-define those factors in our lives that really do matter most. Sunday morning worship provides us an opportunity to once again discover what really matters … a re-discovering of our true self-worth!

Quote for today: “When the peg of material civilization upon which we have hung everything is wrenched out by economic dislocation, and gives way, then everything we have hung on it – our plans, our hopes, our futures – gives way with it and goes down in a crash.” E. Stanley Jones

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The lighter side of life

Because I believe in a laughing God and because I believe that laughter is a basic building block of human nature and because I believe that laughing can and does heal all wounds … I offer each Saturday a “lighter side of life.” Have a great and enjoyable Saturday – celebrate today like there is no tomorrow!

One of favorite preacher stories goes like this:
The preacher was into his sermon when a young mother with a crying baby gets up from her pew and begins to leave the sanctuary. Just before she reaches the back door the preacher stops his sermon and states, “Madam, you don’t have to leave. Your crying baby isn’t bothering me!” To which she responded, “No, but your preaching is bothering him!”

And then there is the old story – told probably too many times from the pulpit:
The four gentlemen were playing their regular Friday afternoon round of golf when at the fifth hole a funeral procession passed by. Upon seeing the funeral procession Tom stops playing, takes off his hat, covers his heart and bows his head. The other three men were surprised and said, “Tom that is such a respectful and decent thing to do. We didn’t know you were so religious.” To which Tom responded, “Well, it is the least I could do after all we were married for 35 years.”

And finally, a new one to me is this one:
“His wife’s graveside service was just barely finished, when there was a massive clap of thunder, followed by a tremendous bolt of lightning, accompanied by even more thunder rumbling in the distance. The little old man looked at the pastor and calmly said, ‘Well, she’s there.’”

Quote for today: “The seven ages of man: spills, drills, thrills, bills, ills, pills, wills.” Richard J. Needham

Friday, March 12, 2010

Walk to Emmaus

A gentle rain was falling last night at Camp Florida in Brandon, FL as I gathered with other Christians from the Tampa Bay area to send 35 female Pilgrims on a journey of a life time ... an experience that they have never had before. These ladies ranged in age from early 20s to early 60s (here I am just guessing as to their ages). The two young women who are in their 20s were mere children when I served their home church as a pastor.

This 72-hour journey that they began is called Walk to Emmaus. In other denominations it is called Cursillo. The teenage version is called Chrysalis. There is also a unique prison version called Kiaros. But, they are all basically the same. Maybe you have seen an Emmaus bumper sticker “De Colores,” which means “Of Colors” – it is a Spanish word and speaks of the many colors of God’s love and grace.

Cursillo/Walk to Emmaus began in the Catholic church in Spain and was later brought to the United States. Nearly every major denomination has embraced this rich and dynamic religious experience.

The Walk contains 15 twenty minute talks about God’s grace, the disciplines of discipleship and what it means to be the church. In reality they will not hear anything that they haven’t already heard before, but it is the context in which they will be hearing these familiar concepts that makes the difference. The context is Fellowship – true, loving, caring, non-judgmental, fellowship … an experiential fellowship that defies words of explanation.

As the gentle rain felling I remembered an old gospel hymn, “There shall be showers of blessings sent from the heaven above …” and so my pray became just that for these pilgrims on a journey that will change them spiritually as well as emotionally.

Quote for today: “I want the whole Christ for my Savior, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church for my fellowship, and the whole world for my mission field.” John Wesley

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The desire for "do overs"

Do you ever wish that there was a “do over” button for life? The two hand-held video games that live at our home have a “new game” button and so, if you simply don’t like the score or the direction the game is taking you just push the “new game” button and BINGO the past is past moving you on to something new. In golf you can take a mulligan and pretend the shot never happened.

Life doesn’t have a “new game” button nor does it allow anyone to take a mulligan – unfortunate. My youngest daughter though has a basic philosophy which goes something like this: “Just forget about it and move on. Cannot change what already has happened so why bother yourself with thinking about it. Just move on!” I wish I had her ability.

Wouldn’t it be great if our life was a giant white board – where our past could simply be easily erased – wiped clean – as if it never happened. But, unfortunately for most of us humans we play the game “what if” living with regret for having made or not made decisions in the past. We waste valuable time and energy imagining a world where our mistakes never took place.

Was it the biblical Paul who stated that we should forget what is in the past and press on to win the prize.

Here is to moving forward … I believe that this is called maturity?!?

Quote for today: “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am 50, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things -- including the fear of childishness and the desire to be grown-up.” C.S.Lewis

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An inspirational story

Here is just a story that caused me to pause and think when I first read it:

There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, 'If I could only see the world, I will marry you.'

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.

He asked her, 'Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?' The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn't expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.

Her boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: 'Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.'

Quote for today: Responding to a college student who asked if it was so bad to be blind Helen Keller said: “No, not have has much as to have two good eyes and see nothing.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lisening to our bodies

Well, I’ve entered the “get-plenty-of-rest-drink-a-lot-of-fluids-and-gargle” phase of a winter existence. When I was serving the church full time people would share, “Well, preacher, your body is just telling you that you need to slow down and allow it to catch up.” But, now the “slowing down” part IS my profession. The fortunate part is that this “phase” comes only once a winter instead of two or three times.

Listening to our bodies is not something that we do on a regular basis. I’ve been trying to get a sore throat for about 5 weeks now and haven’t done the “gargling bit” so a full-fledged winter cold should not have come as a surprise to me … but it did. I should have listened to my body.

I believe it was Dr. Bernie Siegel who shared in his marvelous book, “Love, Medicine and Miracles,” that the body has a tremendous communicative ability. Long before any minor or major illness overtakes us, our body is sending little hints that something is about to take place that we should address. The built in fear is that we could become little hypochondriacs and so, we simply go on with our lives, ignoring those persistent little aches and pains (or in my case the little discomfort in the back of my throat) until our body is taken over by the illness.

If we would but listen to what our body is sharing we would be better off physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is this old preacher’s belief that God uses every cell of what he has created to communicate with us ... but are we listening?

Quote for today: “If you are an adult of average weight, here is what you accomplish in 24 hours: your heart beats 103689 times; your blood travels 168,000,000 miles; you breathe 23040 times; you inhale 438 cubic feet of air; you eat 3.25 pounds of food; you drink 2.9 quarts of liquids; you lose 7/8 pounds of waste; you speak 4800 words, including some unnecessary ones; you move 750 muscles; your nails grow .000046 inch; your hair grows .01714 inch; and you exercise 7,000,000 brain cells.” Source unknown

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thinking positive

Trying to think positive as another cold front brought more cold weather to our region I asked myself what did I like about cold weather.

1. I get to wear my sweaters which I love.
2. I like the feel of sleeping under blankets – the more the better. Plus, the warmth of the bed verses the cold room.
3. I like our fireplace.
4. There are certain cold weather foods that I like such as a big bowl of chili.

Well, that is about it. It isn’t much, but it is better to embrace the positive than curse what you cannot do anything about. Actually that is a pretty good approach to all of life. We can either bemoan the facts of our life or celebrate the good we find in it. As an old movie asks, “What if this is as good as it gets?” Or, as the old cliché goes, “work with what you have instead of wishing for something that will never come.”

A joke for today: "It was so cold where we were," said the Arctic explorer, "that the candle froze and we couldn't blow it out." "That's nothing," said his rival. "Where we were, the words came out of our mouths in pieces of ice and we had to fry them to hear what we were talking about." Source unknown

Sunday, March 7, 2010

An interesting observation

One of our theological professors was very fond of pushing us so that our theology was a logical progression of thought. His statement was, “Make sure that your theology is not a nonsequitur.” An interesting word which means: “an inference that does not follow from the premises.” One of his challenges was for us to listen to people talk about their faith to see if it held together. The observation of this listening theologian was that people’s belief systems were nothing more than a collection of random ideas that all too often are in conflict with their thought process.

It is this kind of reasoning discipline that I bring to the current debate over the health care proposal. Without getting into the pluses and minuses concerning the actual bill before congress what I find interesting is that those who oppose it often bring up the idea of socialism as to their reason for trying to defeat the bill. Interesting since all of them – and I mean all of them – approve of Medicare, public schools, police and fire departments, military, VA hospitals and clinics, social security, etc. Their thinking is a nonsequitur because the services mentioned, plus a huge truckload of more services offered by city, county, state and nationally are all prime examples of public funded programs and therefore are examples of socialism already being enjoyed by us. Can we really have it both ways, i.e. accepting social services in some aspects of our lives while opposing other social services? Or, is my thinking all screwed up?

The other driving force is a biblical mandate. I am convicted when I hear Jesus share; “As you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me.” How can I turn my back on over 30 million fellow Americans who do not have medical insurance? Aren’t they the “least of these”? I’ve been truly blessed in my life and am fortunate that my family and me are all covered by medical insurance. I don’t know what it would be like to be sick or injured and not have the freedom or security in reaching out for medical attention … and I don’t want to know! Further, ever since I took “Introduction to the New Testament” in seminary and found in the “Acts of the Apostles” where it states that, “they held everything in common” I have felt that as a Christian I have no alternative but to care for the least, the last and the lost … regardless of the personal cost – physical, emotional, or financial ... and regardless of the decisions that they might have made which causes them to be in their medical uninsured predicament.

At least that is my humble thoughts on the subject …

Quote for today: Amy Carmichael when criticized for her humanitarian work in India, responded, "One cannot save and then pitchfork souls into heaven...Souls are more or less securely fastened to bodies...and as you cannot get the souls out and deal with them separately, you have to take them both together."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Letting loose the joy

An interesting little note about NBC’s TODAY programs recent visit with some the old TV sit-com families. The “Partridge Family” whose theme song was, “Come on be happy,” segment was cancelled because two of the daughters couldn’t be in the same room because of an on-going feud. The disagreement, according our newspaper, has been going on for a great number of years and is only getting worse. How sad … to bad that they couldn’t fulfill the message of their own theme song.

What is there about happiness and joy that simply escapes many of our grasps? How can we allow “the joy of the Lord to become our strength”?

Bruce Larson tells this story about releasing the joy within. “A conference at a Presbyterian church in Omaha, people were given helium filled balloons and told to release them at some point in the service when they felt like expressing the joy in their hearts. Since they were Presbyterians, they weren't free to say ‘Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.’ All through the service balloons ascended, but when it was over 1/3 of the balloons were unreleased. Let your balloon go.”

It’s Saturday – let out your inner joy and embrace the happiness within your soul!

Quote for today: “Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.” Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Infected with a virus

The word is such a simple word, but oh what havoc it can play. The word is VIRUS! Thus began Wednesday morning … a virus had slipped into my computer past all of the protective software that had been installed. It came in a disguise which used much of the same type of computer language that my “anti-virus” software uses. It is particularly ugly in nature.

I am thankful for my son-in-love who just happens to be into computers for a living. Actually God in all of his divine wisdom knew that I was computer challenged so into my life he brought this person … but the truth be know God brought Eric into our daughter’s life I just happen to come with the package. Poor Eric!

Anyway, the short of it all is that he ran the computer in safe mode to find what was going on. That is a long process and the computer ran Wednesday evening, but didn’t show any virus. I said earlier that it was a particularly ugly virus. So, Plan B began last night and the computer ran all night. BINGO – three infected files. Hopefully tonight, after he gets off work, the problem can be solved.

All of that causes me to arrive at this life conclusion: Wouldn’t it be great if we could “infect” the world with love and grace as easily as my computer got infected – simply riding on the coattails of a message or two. Actually it is easy … just start with the person closes to you. Shower that person with hugs and adulation's. As their self-esteem grows it will spread to someone else and so forth and so on. As the song lyric goes: “Spread a little love …”

Now, if I can only figure out how to get my e-mail message via web mail my world would begin to look a little bit better …

Quote for today: “Dr. John Geddie went to Aneityum in 1848 and worked there for God for 24 years. On the tablet erected to his memory these words are inscribed: ‘When he landed, in 1848, there were no Christians. When he left, in 1872, there were no heathen.’” J.O. Sanders

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Life is a gift

Too many times we simply take life for granted. We move from day to day, moment to moment without giving much thought to just how precious life really is. Every now and again something might be said, read or done that reminds us that we really do have an extremely precious gift in the life that we have been given. Embrace it, celebrate it, enjoy it and share it because Life IS a Gift!

An unknown source has written such a reminder:
Today before you say an unkind word - Think of someone who can't speak.
Before you complain about the taste of your food - Think of someone who has nothing to eat.
Before you complain about your husband or wife - Think of someone who's crying out to GOD for a companion.
Today before you complain about life - Think of someone who went too early to heaven.
Before whining about the distance you drive - Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.
And when you are tired and complain about your job - Think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job.
And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down - Put a smile on your face and think: you're alive and still around.

It is an age old question, but one which we should ask ourselves each and every day: "If I knew that today would be my last day on earth what would I do differently?" And, your answer is?

Quote for today: “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” Richard L. Evans

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Modern philosophy statements

If you had to put your philosophy of life on a bumper sticker what would it say?

Ever since seeing the bumper sticker which read: “Come back to Miami we weren’t shooting at you!” I’ve been in love with bumper stickers. Not for my car mind you, but as a testimony to the kind of individuals who would place such statements on their cars for the world to see. I’ve also wondered about the individual who literally plaster the back of their vehicles with too many bumper stickers to read while driving or stopped at a traffic light.

Here are just some of my favorites:
-Grace Happens
-Don’t believe everything you think
-Drive carefully so you don’t need me … I am a blood donor
-Cowboy up OR go sit in the truck!
-When at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tired
-Always drink up stream from the heard
-Where in heavens name is EAST STREET?
-If you are not outraged you’re not paying attention
-My reality TV is called: BASEBALL

And then there was the bumper stick on the back of a yellow VW bug – “Honk if you love Jesus” – so, I did and … well … let’s just say that the driver’s response was not necessarily appropriate considering the invitation of the bumper sticker.

I call bumper stickers – nutshell philosophy! Simple, direct and some of them you really do need to be a nutcase to put them on your car – but they are out there for the world to see. They’ve been placed upon the car because the driver really does think that way – which in some situations is a little bit more than scary.

Anyway – what would your bumper sticker say? Also, I would love to hear about your favorites.

P.S. T-shirt statements are an entirely different ball of wax. Most of them I wouldn’t put into print, but I do find myself wondering what kind of person would actually put on a shirt that makes those kinds of statements!

Quote for today: “There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it.” Cicero

Monday, March 1, 2010

When the cheering stops

The 2010 Winter Olympics is now history. The Olympic flame has been extinguished. The hundreds of athletes will be heading home today as Vancouver tries to return to a more normal existence. Some of the athletes will bath themselves in the glory of their victories while others will nurse their bruised egos as they continue to believe that they were somehow robbed of their medal. And then there are those athletes who will be able to turn their gold, silver and bronze metals into some mega commercial/endorsement deals while others will be thrilled that they had a chance of a lifetime to simply compete.

What happens now?

The city in Russia is well on their way in preparing for the gathering of the Olympians in 2014. Some of the heroes and “sheores “ of this year’s competition will return to their training facilities while others will return to a more “normal” lifestyle. As for the thousands of spectators – well, we will find something else to occupy our attention, something else to receive our praise, something else to cheer about, something else to talk about, and something else to glory in.

But will the world be any different – really?

Here is a novel idea? What if the world would – could – simply replace all of the tanks, guns and fighter jets with a continuation of friendly athletic competition? What if the world could really come together and allow all of our differences simply to be drowned out by the cheering of our voices? What if … it is nice to dream of a more perfect world!

Quote for today: “A winner says, ‘There ought to be a better way to do it’; a loser says, ‘That's the way it's always been done here.’" Source unknown