Looking for a superhero? Find Jesus instead.

May 14, 2018

In a recent post to his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – Jack referenced the time when Mohammed Ali (then called Cassius Clay) made the proclamation “I am the greatest”. I remember that evening and listening to the boxing match between Clay and the Cassius Clayformidable Sonny Liston. Nobody gave the young, brash Clay a chance against the bigger Liston, who had destroyed the former champion Floyd Patterson. When Clay made good on his boast that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” and knocked out Liston, he proclaimed to the world, in the post-fight interview with Howard Cosell that he was ”the greatest of all time”.

These days we are preoccupied with the super heroes that we see on the screen – Ironman, Thor, Wonder Woman, Superman and the Black Panther. We seem to need, and to revel in, the larger than life exploits of these heroes, many of whom have egos to match their super hero status.

In Jesus’ day the people were searching for (waiting for) a super hero (the Messiah) to come and lead them in triumph over their oppressors. Many believed that the Messiah would be a great warrior, possessing supernatural strength and powers. When that Messiah came in the form of a normal and humble man – Jesus – most could not believe that this was the “savior” that had been foretold. They did not see a might warrior riding into battle on a great horse, but a humble and modest man riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Many had heard of the miracles that he had performed, but they were acts of kindness and concern and not the winning of great battles or the vanquishing of foes.

The people then, as many do now, were looking for a superhero and what they got instead was Jesus, a man who could not even save himself and who died on a cross. When confronted by Pilot with the question “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus did not say, “I am the greatest of all time”; but rather answered humbly, “You say so.”  What most in his day did not see or hear about until later was that he rose again after three days and ascended into heaven. What they did not understand was that the foes that he fought on our behalf were sin and death.

Super_heroesSo, if you are looking for amusement, go see the latest super heroes movie or dress up and go to a convention and enjoy yourself; but, if you are looking for the only true super hero of all time to save you, look to Jesus. With Him on your side; there are no foes that can defeat you, not even death. Now that’s a super hero worth following.

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Let’s make US bigger…get out and vote…

May 9, 2018

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack uses this quote – “All the people like us are, WE, and everyone else is, THEY.”  (Rudyard Kipling)

Recently, as a people, WE have let the differences that we use to differentiate WE from THEY dominate our conversations and our lives. We have let differences, whether real or perceived, split us into camps and set those camps at war with each other. Along the way, accountabilityWE lost the ability to find compromises; the desire through give and take to find enough common ground to allow for peaceful and mutually beneficial coexistence. Instead, we have retreated further and further away from compromise and into heavily armed and fortified positions; our fortifications made up of hate, bigotry and arrogantdistrust and our weapons those of hateful speech and actions.

WE have even let that distrust and hate creep into our religions, where Jesus’ Great Commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you” has devolved into “love only those who practice the same religious beliefs as WE do”. WE allow ourselves to distrust and hate Them – those who don’t practice our Christian faith. We become religious bigots and believe that our God is somehow different from the God that THEY pray to, just because they use a different name for Him. We allow the hand of man to get in the way of the hand of God.disagreement2

In reality thee is only US – the busy little creatures walking, riding and flying around on this little, insignificant ball of rock that is floating in the endless universe. If WE screw this up and destroy or home through pollution or wars or hate there is no THEM to blame, only US. If we are to save it for future generations, it will be US who make the changes needed and find the ways to live together in peace and harmony. That process begins when WE, in this camp, decide that WE need to find a way to reach out to THEM and seek compromise and peace. That starts by going back to the commandment predjuicesto love one another.

As with most things, the needed changes start with each of US. We must break away from the positions of hate and distrust that may have led us into one of the camps and start implementing Jesus commandment to love one another as He has lived us. Do not fear what you do not understand. Rather try to see what you can learn from that different point of view. You may never “understand”, but perhaps you can better appreciate the perspective on life from that point of view and find a way to compromise with it in peace and harmony. No good can come out of fear or hate because of the other person’s ethnicity, or color, or sexual preferences, or religion, or anything else that sets them apart. The enrichment of our lives comes from accepting and learning from those differences. We need not embrace their lifestyle to be enriched by it; but we do need tohands-across-the-gap love them and accept them as Jesus loved us. We need to include them in our US.

WE can all make US bigger this year by listening for and voting for those candidates who truly understand the concept of US rather than spouting venomous defenses of their positions against THEM. Both major parties have lots of WE vs THEM candidates. In fact, both parties have developed “litmus tests” for their potential candidates to help them “purify” and strengthen their positions of distrust and hate. Fortunately, there are still rational voices of moderation and compromise to be found. Seek them out and support them, no matter their party affiliation, for they are the only candidates who may be able to coalesce into a big enough US in the political middle to save US all. They will probably not have the strong support of their own parties, since they likely don’t cow-tow to the extreme party lines; but that is a good testament to their ability to do the right things to find compromise and achieve some level of harmony that is currently sadly lacking.

voteThis election season, let us all try to avoid the WE vs. THEM candidates and find the champions of US that are out there. Get out and vote for US.


Be that person…

May 2, 2018

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote – “Every man has three characters – that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.”  (Alphonse Karr)

I have a feeling that if Karr was alive today he might enjoy adding to his thoughts about character with this modern quote by J.W. Stevens – “Be the person your dog thinks you are!”

We are all somewhat conscious of the character that we are trying to portray to the jerkworld. Most of the time we are trying to appear to be normal and maybe even “cool” (or what we think is cool). Very few people set out each day to be perceived by others as being a dork or a jerk or anything negative, yet many achieve those distinctions through their actions and behavior.

I think Stevens advice may be the best of all. I don’t think your dog starts off thinking about you based upon looks or color and any of the other preconceptions that we allow to creep into our evaluations of people. Instead your dog is trying to give you unconditional love and just wants your attention, care and love in return. Your dog misses happy dogyou when you are gone and is happy when you return. He or she just wants to be accepted and welcomed into your “pack” and maybe be given an occasional treat and a pat on the head.

We can’t walk around patting others on the head and handing out treats, but we can greet them with a smile and a friendly hello. We can extend a hand, ask about their well-being and compliment them. In doing so, we become the person that they hoped they might meet today – someone friendly and open and interested in them. Hopefully, that will bring the character that you are exhibiting more in line with the character that you think you are. Few of us think of ourselves as cold, callous or unfriendly.

So set out today to be the person that your dog thinks you are and see if that doesn’t handshakework for you. Start by putting a smile on your face and being conscious that you are smiling. Greet others when you meet them, rather than just looking away. Resolve to take the time to greet and speak to those whom you already know and to make the effort to meet some new people today. See if being perceived as a friendlier and welcoming person doesn’t make you feel better at the end of the day. Perhaps you will even find that your day was more successful, because more people felt good about meeting and interacting with you.

Be that person who makes someone else’s day and it will make your day, too. Maybe then you will be the person that God hoped you would be.


What Maypole do you dance around?

May 1, 2018

From today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this delightful quote – “Life is like a Maypole.  Life is colorful  Bright  vibrant and always fun   For children and fools.”   (Mason Hartley)

Jack went on to tell about Maypole dancing in May in Scandinavia as a way to celebrate Maypole_Swedenthe end of winter and the arrival of Spring. In a larger sense, it is a metaphor for the celebration of life. As Hartley pointed out, children seem to find fun in life no matter what is going on around them. One can see that in the occasional news stories of children finding a way to play in the midst of war-torn countries. For them life is always fun, bright, colorful and full of things to discover.

Hartley seems to say that, in adulthood, only fools find the same wonder in each day. I would submit that it is not fools who can see the bright, vibrant hope in each day, but rather Christians who wake each morning and thank God for another day. God is our Maypole each day and we should celebrate each day that God has given us with joy and thanksgiving.

When we lose our childhood wonder and the ability to play and “grow up” to be a serious adult, we also lose some or all of our ability to dance around the Maypole. For many that includes losing touch with God. With the growth of the body comes the development of the mind and the rise of our ego. It is from that ego; that springs our need to feel like we are in control of things; and, in that, we lose touch with the God that we innocently accepted as children. We begin to think of each day as ours and not God’s. chasing moneyWe begin to believe that we can control things, manipulate things and decide outcomes to events and not to trust that God is in control. Many may substitute something new in place of the Maypole – success in business with promotions and more money – and dance around those goals in the belief that having more of everything will bring happiness.

It is only when we return to our belief in God that we are free to once again be happy, dance, and celebrate each day. When we finally say to ourselves and to God, “Not my will but thy will be done”, we can regain that childlike wonder at life and find a way to play again and enjoy the life that God has given us. No, we are not fools. Perhaps the fools are those around us who still think that they are in control of things and have lost contact with God.

If God is not at the center of your life, what Maypole are you dancing around? How’s thatgods-hands-2 working out for you? Don’t play the fool; return to the only true thing that you need to center your life around. Dance around God and be happy again, as if you were a child.

Have a wonderful day and find the time to dance.


Find your new beginnings…

April 30, 2018

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog today comes this little saying from Fred Rogers – “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”

Our kids grew up watching Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood and they’re the better for it, I Fred_Rogersbelieve. Fred never talked down to the children; but, instead, he took the time to explain things to them, like how to be a friend.

Today’s quote is another way of putting another old saying – “when one door closes another door opens”. Life is full of things coming to an end, often not a happy one. A competition ends without a win, a relationship ends, a job is lost, a loved one passes away. We notice those endings, but often don’t see that something else has begun at the same time. Perhaps it is just difficult to see through the tears of the moment; or maybe we are consumed by the sense of loss of what just ended.

It is in moments like these, when life has thrown something unexpected at you, something that is hard to deal with, that we must find comfort and peace in our faith. In those moments of fear and sadness we can feel alone, isolated from those who are not experiencing what we are going through. It is important in those moments to be able to woman-prayingreach out to God, who never leaves us, and ask His help to carry on. There are things that we cannot and will not ever “understand”; so, we must ask instead for the faith and strength to just accept them and move on.

Once you find that strength in your faith, you can turn your attention to what God has in mind for you next, to what “beginning of something else” has just opened up for you. Maybe it’s that new person that you just met who could become significant in your life; maybe it’s that new job with its learning challenges; maybe it’s aiming for the next competition and trying to learn from your shortfall in the last one. Whatever it is; take time to thank God for giving you new purpose and new reasons for living. You’re now at the beginning of something new in your life and that’s exciting.

It is a new day and a new week. Find your new beginnings.


Don’t be blinded to the hidden stories around you…

April 24, 2018

Today’s post to the blog Jack’s Winning Words blog is re-posted here in its entirety –

“Everything for me becomes allegory.”  (Charles Baudelaire)  There’s a lesson, metaphor, parable in every event, when you look for it.  The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a lesson in what it means to be a neighbor.  The walk by the Israelites to the Promised Land can be a metaphor for our life’s walk toward Heaven.  The Wizard of Oz has many allegories…the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion, even Home!   Our world is full of hidden stories.    😉  Jack

It is a shame that we do not take the time to even see the hidden stories going on in life all around us, much less try to apply the knowledge and wisdom that is within those stories to our own lives. Those stories are locked up in the people that we encounter; yet we fail to see them because we do not take the time to meet  and get to know those pleasantpeople.

Many times I will return from a business meeting with potential clients about a real estate transaction and my wife will ask me simple questions about things like “Why do they want to sell?” or perhaps “How many kids do they have?” I tis then that I realize that I was so focused upon the real estate aspects of our meeting that I didn’t take the time to explore the human side of things and get to know those people better. I didn’t explore the hidden stories that led them to me in the first place.

Even more revealing of how inwardly focused I can become and how blinded that leaves girl with nose chainme. Worse is to discovering that someone that I may have been avoiding because of some pre-conceived notion or prejudice is actually a very interesting person from whom I might learn or at least enjoy knowing. When we judge someone from afar, based solely on their outward appearance, we blind ourselves to the true value that they have and the hidden stories that they could share.

It is true that a rock or a tree may have a hidden story from which one could learn something, but it is through our interactions with others that we really learn and share life’s most valuable lessons. So, don’t let yourself be blinded by prejudice or pre-conceived notions about those whom you encounter. Take the time to get to know themlisten and to listen to their hidden stories. You’ll be the better for it and perhaps they will gain from knowing you, too.

Seek out the hidden stories from those around you this week.

 


Change the future…touch a life…

April 16, 2018

From today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog post comes this gem sent in by one of his followers. If you want to touch the past, touch a rock.  If you want to touch the present, touch a flower.  If you want to touch the future, touch a life.”  (Sent by Al Weidlich)

That thought about changing the future by touching a life is the foundation of many organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, AA and NA and many more. It is all about touching other people and showing them compassion and caring. Those “touches” have the power to change people’s lives. Coincidentally they also change the lives of those who reach out to touch others.

We have become a society that is distracted and entertained by technology to such ancouple-looking-at-phones extent that we don’t look away from it long enough to see the lives that need touching as they pass us by. How can one see the distress and fear in the eyes of someone in need, if our eyes are glued to the screens of our smartphones? How can one have the conversation that leads to understanding of those needs if one is busy texting someone else with the handshakelatest “news” of our day?

Perhaps it is time to put away our technology and look around to see the people who share our lives. They may not be friends right now; but they could be. They may not need help right now; but they might. You will never know the pleasure of having them as a friend or the joy of helping them with a problem if you never take the time to reach out and touch their life. Something as simple as a friendly greeting may be all it takes to engage them enough to touch their life. Instead of looking away as you pass, look at them and see them as a person that it might be interesting to know.

Sure there is time to touch the past, whether it be a rock or an old photo; and there is time to touch the present, which we do with the things around us every day; but, it is our ability to touch the future and make a difference in it by touching the lives of others that is exciting. Touching things from the past or present has little impact upon them (other than perhaps to leave a fingerprint); however, we can change the course of history by complimenttouching and improving the lives of others. How powerful is that? Nothing else that you will do with your life will have greater impact than changing the lives of others for the better.

So, reach out this week and touch the lives of others. At the end of the day, think back on the opportunities to touch other lives that you took and those that you missed and resolve to do better tomorrow. I think that you will also realize the powerful changes that have occurred in your life because you made that effort and because others have made the effort to touch your life.

Put down those phones and stay in touch.