Pardon me….

August 13, 2018

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes today’s little gem – “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”  (Francis of Assisi)

One could substitute the words forgiving and forgiven in that little phrase and it would mean the same. It might also ring a bell in your head about where you’ve heard that thought expressed before. In variations of the Lord’s Prayer the words sins or trespasses are used.

Pre-judging people based upon their appearance or judging them because of their sorry 3actions are trespasses that many of us commit every day, without giving it any thought until later (if at all). Sometimes, it is yourself that you have to pardon, maybe for your thoughts or actions. Getting down on yourself really doesn’t help, but that pardon should also come with a resolution not to make that same mistake again, whether it was an act of prejudice or just one of insensitivity or neglect. Pardoning yourself is the first step to bettering yourself.

In our day-to-day lives there are many opportunities to pardon others for their actions or inaction; for their remarks that were probably not meant to hurt, but which did none the less; for their slights whether real or perceived. There is no positive value to be gained by carrying those things around in your head.. Do not carry their handshakebaggage. Do not let their actions change the course of your life. Pardon their trespasses and get on with life. They probably don’t even realize their trespass and they certainly don’t understand that you’ve forgiven them; but you do and that sets you free from those trespasses.

Maybe this is God’s way of paying it forward. Forgive the person in the line behind you. Resolve this Monday morning to set out this week in the frame of mind that you will pardon those who trespass against you and let the Lord take care of pardoning your trespasses.

Have a great week ahead…

Advertisements

God’s role – is it preventing or coping…

August 12, 2018

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “God is never late, but He sure misses a lot of opportunities to be early.”  (From Mike Watson)

That quote begs the question of what is God’s role in our lives? Do we expect Him to get there early and prevent bad things from happening to us or do we turn to Him after those things have happened as the source of our strength to get through them and go on with life. For most of us the answer is probably yes to both. We may pray for God’s help when facing life’s problems and we most certainly do when handed one of life’s setback.

I’ve shared my use of the little quote from the Bible, “Not my will, but Thy will be done” (Luke 22:42). I find it to be a help both going into situations and for dealing with things that have occurred. One of the main things that it does is relieve the need to feel like I’m in control of everything. In reality, we are in control of very little but our own reactionsbored2 to things and events.  Trying to maintain the delusion that we are in control just causes frustration, anger and self-destructive depression.

In praying to God that His will be done in our lives ahead of some upcoming event or confrontation of a problem, we might best ask Him to help us do the right thing, make the right decisions and handle things the right way. The term “right” will be determined by God as the events unfold, but a good guideline would be to keep that old question, “What would Jesus do?” in mind. Keep in mind, also, that things may not go as we had hoped or wished that they would, but they jesus-as-lightalways go the way that God intended. Sometimes we have to step back from things and try to discern the lesson or good that can come from the outcome.

What is God’s role in your life? Is He the guiding light, showing your the right things to do or do you turn to him as the court of last resort when things haven’t gone according to your plans? The good news is that He is willing and able to play both roles in our lives and will always be there for us. That comes from another saying from the Bible – “I will never leave you or forsake you” – Hebrews 13:5

So, it’s really up to you to decide when you turn to God for help. Most of the time it is less woman-prayingpainful if you turn to him early. It’s not really that God misses lots of opportunities to be early, it’s usually that we don’t turn to Him until it’s almost too late. So, pray early and pray often. God is standing by to answer.


Did anybody die?

August 8, 2018

Admittedly, I’m one of those people who worry and agonize over things that I’m doing or planning to do. That’s especially true if the task that I’m worrying about is something that I signed up to do for others or for an organization. How many of you can identify with that?worried1

Sometimes it involves things like organizing an event on behalf of an organization or maybe it’s a personal commitment to someone, like taking them somewhere or watching their houseplant while they are away. Whatever it is; if you are like me, you may have a tendency to overthink it, over analyze it and over become overly critical of yourself, if things go awry.  You may also become overly critical of your performance of the task after the fact.

Earlier this year, I was one of the two people who organized and presented the annual marching troopsFourth of July parade in our little Village. There are lots of tasks and decisions needed to organize and pull off a parade and lots of places where one can look back and think that they might have done a better job. After what was by all measures a successful parade, I was following my natural tendency to be critical of myself for what we accomplished and what we could have done differently. My cohort in the effort listened to my laments for a while; but, finally, he just looked at me and asked, “Did anybody die?”

As I stopped to think about answering that question, it finally became clear to me that I was agonizing over things, most of which couldn’t be changed and which weren’t life boredthreatening or even all that important in the grand scheme of things. Just taking the time to think about that question changed how I looked at the situation and that has served to keep things in my life in better perspective. I’m reminded of a little quote in a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  (Wayne Dyer)

So, if you. too, let the day-to-day things in life that you face become worries or concerns, maybe asking yourself, “Did anybody die or will anybody die?” because of this decision or your acgreat-jobtion. You may quickly find that the decisions that you’ve been agonizing over, while important to you and others at the time, are not life threatening. Your life and theirs will go on. Given that revelation, you can then focus on doing the best that you can in the situation. Instead of beating yourself up over not doing something or not making a different decision, be happy that you did your best.

No one died! Get on with your life.


Build that bridge…

August 7, 2018

“The bridge between dreams and achievement is built through actions” –  Norm Werner

I thought that I had an original little quote there, but I googled it and apparently many others have had the same thoughts. One that was close is

 “The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.” – Unknown

The things that popped up the most in the Google response to my query were quotes about the differences between dreams and goals. I suppose that it is easy to confuse the two in random musings. I certainly understand that goals are achievable things with deadlines, while dreams are, well, just dreams.

Perhaps dreams are just a starting point, which morph into hopes and then into goals. In any event, nothing really happens until one takes actions to achieve those dreams/hopes/goals. I like the bridge analogy because it forces one to think of the man daydreamingplanning and piece-by-piece work that goes into building a physical bridge. Achieving most dreams/hopes/goals is like that. One must spend some time in the planning stage ( I sometimes call it the “fixin’ to” stage) and break the actions that are needed down into smaller, achievable pieces. It is then possible to start accomplishing those little pieces and to great-jobcelebrate little milestone on the way to the goal.

It is important not only to keep the big picture, the overall; goal, in mind; but, also, it is important to recognize and celebrate the little victories along the way – the accomplishment of those little intermediate steps in building the bridge to the dream/hope/goal. Those little pauses to celebrate allow us to refresh our enthusiasm and strength and allow us to re-evaluate the dream/hope/dream. Sometimes that re-evaluation causes us to see that we were shooting for too little and that we should be dreaming even bigger. Sometimes the cold reality of a good re-evaluation may cause us to shift our dreams and hopes towards a more achievable goal. In either case, we can then set off in pursuit of the next small victory in building that bridge.

Before you start out today, re-imagine your dreams/hopes/goals for the day and think about what small piece of the bridge to that overall destination you can build today. Then go for it. Take action! Build that bridge…


Waste not…Act now…

August 4, 2018

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this ancient gem – “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”  (Aesop)

Sometimes acts of kindness involve money, but most of the time they just involve doing being kind 1something for someone else that needs to be done. Opening a door or smiling and saying hello are example s of very small acts of kindness. Those aren’t just empty gestures and they are usually acknowledged by the recipient. There is no expectation of reward or even reciprocation, but even those small acts can make one feel better about themselves and about their fellow man. They are overt acts that say, “I see and acknowledge you. I see your need and I am happy to help.”

There are other instances in the animal world where individuals help each other, whether it be monkeys and apes grooming each other or herd animals coming to the aid of a member that may be under attack. Those examples could be classified as acts of survival or of shared need by those animals. Humans, however, are the only animals that demonstrate conscious acts of kindness towards each other that are extended not our of need or to survive, but as an expression of concern and love for fellow humans.

jesus-as-lightSo, take the opportunities that you are given each day to extend an act of kindness towards someone else. Your gesture of kindness are not wasted, even if they go unacknowledged at the time. Showing kindness to total strangers is a big part of what bonds us together as humans. Remember the words of Jesus as he taught his Disciples in Matthew 25:40 – “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Waste not…Act now…be kind to one another.


Don’t let tradition be your jailer…

August 1, 2018

From the blog Jack’s Winning Words, comes this sage piece of advice – “Tradition is a guide, not a jailer.”  (W. Somerset Maugham)

Jack went on to write – “We’ve always done it this way” are words often heard when someone suggests a change.  Of course, some traditions are good and worth keeping.  But, new ideas can be good, too.” 

I’m on the Board of Directors for our local historical society and I hear that little phrase jail.png“We’ve always done it that way” a lot. The same can be said about most churches and their services. I’m on the church council at my church, too. Both represent organizations that need to make changes to the way that things have always been done; but both also represent organizations that are in danger of being held hostage to tradition.

Times change, tastes change, options change. All of a sudden Sunday mornings are no longer reserved for church, but rather for sports practices or games. There are tournaments to be played, ice time to be had, away games to travel to and any number of other things vying for the time of the families that used to go to church. In the case of the historical society, the general population finds other, more exciting things to do with their time than going to the local historical museum. “Never change anything” is the rallying cry of dying churches and organizations across the land. Proudly the members stand (usually alone) as bulwarks no-changeagainst modern times, changing tastes and new traditions. Empty and abandoned churches abound as do defunct little community organizations that time has passed by.

Both of the organizations that I’m a part of are attempting some new things to try to reverse the downward spiral that they appear to be on currently. Both represent organizations that are “aging out”; that is, they have mostly older members who are dying off, with few new, younger members to replace them. It’s not necessarily that the current members will defend against change to the last man; many, in fact, would welcome change if it saved the organization. The real challenge is understanding what younger people want from the organizations these days in order to join and support them. Must the church become a rock and roll mega church in order to survive? How can the historical society somehow make the sharing of history exciting and entertaining for younger people?  There are no easy answers to those questions.

new-way-forwardI think the key to solving these problems in the church and in little local organizations starts with the advice of Somerset Maugham. We (they) must not become slaves to tradition, locked in the past. Rather we must figure out how to honor those traditions while changing with the times. The “good old days” are behind us, but there are still good times ahead for those organizations willing to explore new approaches and new ideas.

In my church, we have launched a Saturday evening service once a month for families that cannot attend on Sunday mornings, due to other commitments. Our local historical society has a new program to take history out to the schools and other places through programs that share stories and some of our artifacts from our local history collection. time for changeThose are small steps, but they are steps in the right direction – the direction of change. Perhaps they are not so much breaking with tradition as they are adding new traditions into the mix. In either case, tradition is no longer a jailer.

What are your churches and local organizations doing to stay relevant and viable in these changing times?


Can there be fake truth?

July 31, 2018

We certainly see and hear a lot about so-called Fake News these days. So extend that thought to include the concept of Fake Truths. It was, to a certain extent, Fake News that claimed to the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and therefore an invasion of the country to prevent their use against other countries in the area was justified. That news turned out not to be true; it was based upon faulty intelligence andfact erroneous assumptions and conclusions by the intelligence community – essentially fake truths. The real truth later came out that there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. So, was that fake news? Not really. It was news fabricated out of false or bad information (fake truth) that was provided by normally reliable sources and embellished a bit by politicians eager to justify a decision that likely had already been made. The news media, always hungry for a good story, took it and ran with it.

In today’s post to his blog Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed uses this quote from Buddha – “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” Unlike opinions or assumptions or prejudices, the truth stands the test of time and inspection and is always trying to find a way to get out. William Shakespeare said “the truth will out” in the Merchant of Venice. 

It is interesting that the definition of the word truth leaves some leeway for doubt or later correction. Look it up on-line an you will get these three definitions –

the quality or state of being true.

“he had to accept the truth of her accusation”

that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.

“tell me the truth”

a fact or belief that is accepted as true.

” I believe that is true”

It is that third definition that applied to the Iraq weapons of mass destruction item of fake news that the Bush administration at the time used to justify its action to invade the country. We will probably never know how much the intelligence was fudged or faked to get to that conclusion; but, for a while we all believed that it was the truth.

These days, our attention has been re-directed to the news of Russian interference in the last presidential election. There are almost certainly nuggets of truth within the surprised emojiintelligence reports and more of them are bound to come out as the truth struggles to the surface. It is not hard to imagine a bunch of Russian hackers (be they military, the intelligence community or civilians) deciding to see what they could do to influence the election or undermine our concept of democracy. It is also not hard to imagine that a contact within the political apparatus of any of the candidates would find a receptive ear to anything that might give them an advantage. After all, politics is not practiced to the highest of moral standards. However, it might prove to be as false as the weapons of mass destruction news to jump all the way to conclusions about collusion or conspiracy. Stupidity, yes. Poor judgement, most certainly. Self-serving, of course.

However; leaping to accusations of collusion, or worse, before the truth is fully out, serves only the third definition of truth. I think we need to work our way through theFacingFactsWordCloud first two definitions before we form our beliefs about what the truth really was. The good news is that Buddha and William Shakespeare were both right and we will eventually see the truth come out. Let’s all hope that Jack Nicholson was wrong in the movie A Few Good Men. Let’s hope that we can handle the truth.  The truth will out and there will be time enough then for a reckoning.