Thinking about love…

January 16, 2020

Today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog is one of those short little ditties that gets you thinking about all of the other things that you have seen about it or could say about it. The quote was  –

“The duty of love is to listen.”  (Paul Tillich)

Almost immediately, the famous movie line “Love is never having to say you’re sorry” popped into my mind. Then came a flood of thoughts that might be quotes of their own from someone..

The opportunity of love is to share.

The reward of love is reciprocation.

If the duty of love is to listen; then the requirement of love is to act.

The opposite of love is not hate; it is apathy.

Once you start thinking about love, you eventually come around to Jesus final commandment that we “Love one another as I have loved you”.

He went on to say in the next verse of John 15 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

What do you think about when you read today’s quote? Hopefully those thoughts lead you down a happy path.

If you start down the path that Jesus laid out in John 15 it will lead you to a warm, secure and confident place where you know that you are loved.

Think about it.

But, you didn’t…

January 15, 2020

“You can’t regret making what you thought was the best decision at the time.”  (Carol Channing) – quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog tody.

We call it second guessing and sometimes we do it to ourselves. You coulda (but, you didn’t). you  woulda (but, you didn’t), you shoulda (but, you didn’t). Spending time regretting things that are already over is a worse waste of time that spending time worrying about things that may happen in the future. One can rationalize time spent worrying about the future as being time spent in planning, and some of it may be just that. There is no way to rationalize the time that you spend in regret for decisions actions of the past. Spending some time to learn from a mistake or poor decision is alright, so long as you accept that it is over and there is no way to change whatever happened.

One side benefit that can come out of trying to learn from your mistakes is the opportunity to examine your decision making process. Are you basing your decisions on sound evidence and facts, or do you allow pre-conceived notions or prejudices to creep into the process? What are the beliefs that you base your decisions upon – what provides you with your moral compass?  Do you have the courage of your convictions; or, do you just find a way to go with the flow of the crowd, even if that direction is bad?

Every decision that you make has an alternative that you need to weigh, sometimes many alternatives. At a minimum, there is usually the “do nothing “alternative. Doing nothing, when you should have acted is probably the most regretted decision that people make. So, perhaps your first decision is that you will do something. We see stories all the time on the Nightly News about people who rush in to help someone out of a burning car or house. They made the quick decision to act, rather than just standing there pondering the alternatives. Of course, there are usually those who decide to take out their smartphones and capture the events on video rather than jump in and help. One has to wonder if they regret that later. If you remember the final episode of the Seinfeld TV series, you know, as they did, that it is wrong to be a voyeur in life.  

So, learn from your past decisions, but live for the future. Coulda, woulda, shoulda about the past is as big, if not bigger, waste of time than Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt is about the future. Perhaps you should start each day by putting the past behind you and focusing upon making good decisions today. One way to do that is to check your moral compass before you set out and asking God to help you make those good decisions. Saying a little prayer that asks for God’s help in your decision-making brings Him out of your subconscious and into the conscious process that you go through to make those decisions. The impact of that can be dramatic and certainly cuts down on the regrets that you might otherwise have later on.

Have a great day. Ask for God’s help. Make good decisions. Have no regrets.

Don’t pass by on the other side…

January 13, 2020

In his post today, Jack used this quote, which is apparently from a source (book?) titled 3Minutes a Day“What do Shakespeare, the Bible and The Rise of Skywalker have in common?”  You can read Jack’s answers at his blog – Jack’s Winning Words. Spoiler alert – all three involve mercy.

One dictionary defines being merciful as “bringing relief”.  Using that rather generic and all-encompassing definition, one is being merciful when they put a dollar in the Red Salvation Army Kettle at Christmas. While the definition above is pro-active in nature, mercy may also be shown by what one does not do – swerving or stopping to avoid hitting and animal in the street may be seen as an act of mercy.

All of us have multiple opportunities during any normal day to be merciful – to provide relief. Why then does so much need persist all around us? One reason may be that we have trained ourselves to not see the need, to avert our eyes when we encounter those is need, whether they be the homeless man sitting on the street corner or the co-worker whom we know is going through rough times. We look away because we “don’t want to get involved” or maybe, “I don’t have time for that right now.” How inconvenient of someone in need to impinge upon your life.

Of course, if the shoe was on your foot, instead of theirs, you might wonder how so many people could just ignore your plight and pass you by. It is easier to imagine and maybe accept the excuses that the travelers who encountered the man in Luke 10 had for passing him by. It might be harder to imagine how that man felt as they passed him by, until the Good Samaritan stopped to help. It’s really not that the others didn’t see the need. Indeed, they made a special effort to pass by on the other side of the road, so they must have seen him lying there. They didn’t want to get involved or they just didn’t have time to help.

The point is that we have as a society become more like those travelers who passed by on the other side and maybe worse. We have convinced ourselves that we don’t have time or don’t want to get involved. Maybe we have even become cynical. We may say, “I have my health care that I paid for; let them pay for their own” or maybe “ I don’t want them in my neighborhood because that may decrease my property value.” We find many ways to pass by on the other side and not show mercy- not provide any relief.

Perhaps you would react and provide relief, if only you saw the needs. It is all too easy to send school kids home for the weekend and not be concerned about the fact that they have nothing to eat until the next school day on Monday or to not think about that elderly neighbor that you so seldom see. They are all too often out of sight and out of mind. You don’t have to see them to know that the need is there. Groups like Blessings in a Backpack and Community Sharing know that they need help to make it through the weekends, so they have programs to provide healthy meals or run food pantries to provide assistance. The Meals-On-Wheels program does the same for seniors and shut-ins. You can support those programs or be an active participant in preparing or delivering those much-needed meals.

Of course you alone cannot solve the problems of homelessness or hunger in the world; but maybe you can help in your neighborhood or on your block. Those backpacks that are sent home to feed needy children over the weekend don’t just load themselves p and those meals that will be delivered to a grateful senior don’t just make themselves and then drive themselves to the homes. People just like you who decided not to pass by on the other side perform all of those tasks, and more, right in your neighborhood. Google and call Blessings in a Backpack or Meals on Wheels or any other volunteer group that you see is taking action to provide relief to those in need.

Show the mercy that is in your heart. Don’t pass by on the other side.

If you live in the Milford, Michigan area I’ll save you the effort of the Google searches –

The Huron Valley Blessings in a Backpack may be found on Facebook at –

Livingston County and Western Oakland County  Meals on Wheel serves this area and may be reached  on Facebook at –

Anonymity is overrated…

January 12, 2020

In his post yesterday to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Jack Freed used thisquote – “What makes you different or weird, that’s your strength.”  (Meryl Streep)

Many people, especially in their teenage years, worry about being different or somehow standing apart from others. Some of our most popular and well-known actors and actresses tell stories about feeling that they were somehow different as children, some even experiencing bullying or other forms of teenage discrimination; yet today they are far more successful than those who mocked them back then. All they sought back then was to blend in, to be part of the crowd, to be anonymous. Many still seek that anonymity today, so that they can function in society without being hounded by fans for autographs or being asked to pose for selfies.

Streep and other actresses have related how they felt different, some even feeling ugly as teens. Julia Roberts, the ultimate Pretty Woman, related in an interview how insecure and different (even ugly)  she felt as a teen. Many actors have related their young struggles with their self-image and their need to fit in better. They too just wanted to be anonymous. Now the people who are anonymous in their movies are the “extras” who make up the background or context for the movie.

Sometimes, being anonymous equates to being lonely. One can just fade into the background of life so much and become so anonymous that no one else bothers to talk to them or relate to them. We see stories on the news from time to time about some person being  found dead in their home months after they had passed away. They were so anonymous that no one missed them when they died. That is taking anonymity too far.

I often relate the story that back when I first moved to Milford, in 1999, I was effectively anonymous. The only people that I knew in the Village were my son and his wife, who had been there for a couple of years. I spent the first 2-3 years in relative anonymity. I could go into any restaurant or business in town and pretty much know that they didn’t know me, nor would anyone else who was there. That changed when I joined the local Chamber of Commerce and became active in its events. I soon became an ambassador in the chamber and started going to all of the events that they ran. Within a year or so, I had met so many other locals that now I cannot walk into any place in the Village without someone saying, “Hi, Norm”.

I must admit that, for me at least, this is a good feeling. Knowing the business owners and the locals who frequent the local restaurants makes one feel like they belong. It’s not like blending into the background or being and “extra”, because you have a speaking role in this movie called life. You get to greet and exchange with the others who have speaking roles in your life.  I recently missed one of the Chamber coffee club events that I normally attend. Later that morning I saw several people who did attend. They all related how people at the event were wondering where I was and what happened to prevent me from being there.  It is gratifying to be missed when I fail to show up for a Chamber event.

So, I have concluded that, while anonymity has some benefits in terms of privacy, it is far outweighed by the friendships and relationships that one builds by not being anonymous. I would much rather have people in the restaurants in town greet me as they often do with “NORM” from the old Cheers TV show, than to be completely anonymous. Anonymity is overrated.

Still, the only autograph that I usually sign in the Village restaurants is on the bill; but, I am available for selfies. I’ll see you around town.

Light up the world…share the love.

January 9, 2020

I need to share Jack’s entire post from today’s entry in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words –

“Love multiplies and adds as we divide it with others.”  (Arthur C. Nielsen –adapted)  A leader was trying to illustrate the truth of this quotation to a group of young people.  Each person was given an unlit candle.  The leader then lit a candle and passed the flame to a candle that was unlit and that one passed it to the next…and so on.  Then she commented: “Look at all of these candles…from a single flame which is not diminished.  “Love multiplies” as we share it!

It seems to me that the two key words in that whole post are the words “love” and “share”. Jesus came to earth as God’s way of expressing his love for his people and recast their perception of Him from a God to be feared into a God to be loved and embraced through His Son. Jesus preached a message of love for one another and in deed left that as his final commandment in John 13:34 – “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.”

God, as interpreted by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day was a God to be feared. Those same leaders created and imposed rigid instructions for keeping God happy by following the rituals that they designed. Jesus threw out those rules and substituted love for the fear that was the foundation of the beliefs at the time.

Jesus may be thought of as that first candle in the story that Jack related in his post. The light of that first candle was the love that Jesus shared even unto His death on the cross. That light has been passed from person to person and from generation to generation ever since. That original love is undiminished, just as the light from the original candle was undiminished as it was shared.

Our mission, it would seem, is not to sit there with an unlit candle or a candle whose light we keep to ourselves; but, rather, to share the light and the flame of our candle with others. Sharing the good news of Christ is not about preaching at people, it is about sharing the love that we inherited when we accepted Christ and lit our candle.

You need not get up on a soapbox to share that love. If you just reach out to others who may be in need, you are sharing the love. If you greet others with a cheerful voice and a sincere interest in them, you are sharing the love. If you live your life as an example of the love that Christ has for you, you will naturally share and spread the light of your candle.

As you start out each day, take a moment to turn up the wick of your candle through prayer, then go out, and light up the world by sharing your love. The world will be a brighter place because of your light. Share the Love.

But, what ought we to do?

January 8, 2020

Jack Freed used this quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“There are two freedoms…the false where one is free to do what he likes; the true where one is free to do what he ought.”  (Charles Kingsley)

I suspect that, upon reading that quote, most immediately thought of the first example of freedom that the quote references. Indeed, it is that self-centered, self-righteous and uncaring definition of freedom to do whatever we like that is at the root of much of today’s political and social turmoil. The “freedom” that some proclaim they are seeking is really a form of anarchy, with little to no concern for the welfare of others. They say, “I’ve got my health care covered and I don’t care about you having none” or maybe, “I’ve got a home and food on the table. Go find your own place to live and food to eat, but don’t bother me.” That is not really freedom; it is a formula for the failure of a society.

So, how is doing what one ought to do – caring for others, helping others, sacrificing for others – the real freedom?  It begins by first accepting Jesus into your life, as written in John 8:32 – “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

But, free to do what?We can see what we ought to be doing in the Bible in Galatians 5:14 –  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And, again in Galatians 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Maybe figuring out what we ought to be doing isn’t that hard after all. The hard part is letting go of the self-interest and self-centeredness that is so prevalent in our society today.

Freedom is not all about you doing whatever you want. It’s about you seeing what needs to be done to help others around you and taking what actions you can to provide that help. Maybe you are barely providing for your own family with what you make at work. You probably still have some spare time that you could use to help others. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, drive for Meals on Wheels, work in the local food bank sorting food or maybe stuffing food in backpacks for the local Blessings-in-a-Backpack program. There are tons of ways to help others available in any community.

Do what you ought to be doing and what you know is right. Start by embracing Jesus in your life and the rest will come naturally. Set yourself free.

Stepping off in the right direction…

January 7, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed shared these quotes – “Tip-toe if you must, but take the step.”  (Unknown)  Laurie sent this quote along with the advice…“Sometime the smallest step in the right direction turns out to be the biggest step of your life.” 

Back in May of 2014 (doesn’t that seem like a long time ago, now), I wrote about taking the journey to success – see I was focused then upon the planning and  preparatory steps, as much as the journey itself. The movie What about Bob, was about Bob learning to take “baby steps” in his journey through an angst filled life.

But what about me or you? Maybe the key word in Laurie’s quote from above is the word “right”. How do we know what is the right direction in which to step off on our journey through life?

When it comes to directions, most of us have abandoned the use of maps and embraced the modern convenience of GPS systems, either in our phones or in our cars (or both).  We just poke in an address and the GPS system shows and tells us how to get there, with turn-by-turn instructions . If only navigating through life were as simple.

Perhaps it is. We all have a life directions GPS available to us, if we only know how to use it – it is called faith. If we call upon God to guide us through life we will never be lost and we will always get to the destination that he has in mind for us. We may not always understand the route that he is taking us on; however, if we trust in Him we will get to where we are supposed to be. The interesting thing is that we start out the journey with an unknown end- point, but we have faith that we will end up at the right place. If we really trust God we can then relax and enjoy the journey.

Perhaps we should start each day by checking in with God to set our direction for the day. It’s OK to let him know where you think you’d like to end up – what your goals are for the day – but you need to end your daily GPS reset by resetting your belief and faith that where ever you end up is where God wanted you to be. The easiest and quickest way to reset you r GPS for life is by saying the little prayer – “Not my will, but thy will be done.”  Then step off in the direction in which God has pointed you and enjoy the journey. Perhaps that will be the biggest step in your life.

Step off in the right direction today.