Try to understand…

August 30, 2017


From my usual source for inspiration, the Jack’s Winning Words blog, comes this bit of advice –

“If you would judge, understand.”  (Seneca)

Understanding the point of view and motivation of others for the actions that they take or the things that they say is perhaps one of the hardest things for us to do. We hear alljudge things sorts of sage advice about walking a mile in the other person’s shoes; and, of course, there is that old saw, “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. The truth is that we all rush to judge the actions and words of others based solely on our own point of view. Even if we pause to ask ourselves, “What could have made them do that?”, it is hard to really understand the perspective from which the other person was viewing the situation.

How then can we make use of Seneca’s advice? Perhaps if we understand that we are judging something or someone it will give us some time to consider that judgement in a different light. Why does whatever just happened need to be judged? Did it offend me or threaten me in some way? Did it disparage something or someone that I hold dear? Does my opinion or the action or the person really matter or change anything? How can I try to see and understand the motivation and point of view of the person who committedno judgement the act that I felt I must judge?

Mentally going through even a few of those questions or more that you might think of can take the edge off of your need to render judgement and may even help you see the other side of the issue that caused the incident. You still may not understand the other side; but, if you can at least acknowledge that there is an “other side”, you are on your way to understanding.

Many times judgments are snap decisions rendered out of the emotions of the moment. Going through that small mental exercise of questioning the need to react can take the arrogantsituation out of the emotional realm and puts it into the intellectual realm, where logic and intelligence tend to blunt the need for a reaction. It turns the reaction into an exercise in trying to understand. You may never truly understand the other person’s point of view and actions, but maybe you will also hold your judgement of them in acknowledgement that you really don’t understand. I’ll bet Seneca understood that when he coined his little phrase.

Have a great, judgement free day…

Hold up your end of the totem pole…

August 29, 2017

This morning a post from the blog Jack’s Winning Words and a little inspirational quote that I’ve had laying around for a while just seemed to fit together to express what I wanted to say.

Jack’s post – “Many people need someone on the totem pole below them.”  (Dr J’s mom)  A “totem” is a family, or a group, and a totem pole is a way of telling something about that group, using images.  Typically, the most important person or thing is at the top.  That’s the way most of society is structured today.  But, some poles have the most important person on the bottom, supporting all of the others.  Biblically, the humble are the strong.  “Blessed are the meek, etc.”    😉  Jack

And the little quote from my files – “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” —Booker T. Washington

We all strive to be at the top of the totem pole, but only a few ever make it that high, so Itotem pole really like the thought about the importance of the people holding (lifting up) those above them. It brings to mind the strong people at the bottom of human pyramids, whether it be a high-wire act or a groups of cheerleaders. While the spotlight may focus upon those at the top of the pyramid, it is the people below them on the totem pole that make it possible. Truly great people who make it to the top never forget that; and, those who do forget eventually topple from their lofty positions.

For the truly blessed, it is sufficiently satisfying to and uplifting to be one of the people lower on the totem pole who gets satisfaction out of doing their job well, so that others above them can succeed. They lift up others and out of that are lifted themselves. That same feeling of satisfaction comes from helping others around you who need help. When you follow your heart and do what you know is right to help others the reward is the warm glow of satisfaction in your heart. That is the uplift that you get from lifting up someone else.

There are always many people volunteering to be at the top of the totem pole. I find it helpermost uplifting to find volunteer jobs that others may not want to do and volunteering to do them. Usually those are the jobs that nobody sees. Those are the jobs that don’t make it onto the evening news. Those are the jobs for which no trophies or medals are given out; but they are also the jobs that can be most uplifting to do. Those jobs are almost always near the bottom of the totem pole and they usually involve serving others in some way. Most are behind the scenes; but, what is goin

dish washer

g on out front (at the top of the totem pole) could not get done unless someone at the bottom holds the whole pole up. Find things like that that need to be done and volunteer. You will be surprised how rewarding it feels to hold up your end of the totem pole.

Create your own sunshine…Let the Son shine through you…

August 21, 2017

Amidst all of the eclipse, Jack Freed posted this thought today on his Jack’s Winning Words blog –  “Somedays you just have to create your own sunshine.”  (Unknown)

Jack went on to write…Here’s a thought:  Why not do something to bring sunshine into a person’s life?  It could be making a phone call, or sending a text, just to say, “Hi!”  Or, doing an unexpected good deed.  Make the world brighter, today!      😉  Jack 

Currently, many people in the U.S. are obsessing about the eclipse, which is now only a couple of hours away. I am not one of those people. I’ll probably just sit on my front porch and watch it get dark and then light again. I don’t have eclipse glasses and don’t soldiersplan to look up at the sun. I suspect that the partying associated with the various gatherings across the country is the real draw that attracts people to travel to get to a site in the path of the total eclipse. Given the choice of being totally in the dark or being in the sunshine, I would choose the sunshine every time.

I get a notice from Facebook every time that someone has a birthday (assuming that they have filled out their Facebook profile correctly) and I always take the time to wish them a happy birthday on their timeline. It seems like most people appreciate that and it’s such a simple thing to do. Maybe that is bringing a little ray of sunshine into their day. Perhaps a better way of looking at it is that it is bringing a little ray of Son shine. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the thing that Jesus (the Son) would do.

We all have dark times in our lives and we see others going through dark times. It is in those times that we need to let the light of the Son of God shine through us to create our own sunshine and to be the sunshine in the lives of others. It is impossible to stay in the dark if you let the light of the Son shine into your heart and out through you to others. christ lightYou just don’t have time for self-pity and dark moods if you are doing God’s work in the world and spreading the sunshine of the Son.

So, go ahead and watch the eclipse, if you must; but, don’t wait for the sun to come out on the other side of the moon before you get back to spreading your own sunshine or Son shine, as the case may be.

Live your faith; be a sermon today… 

August 19, 2017

A couple of quotes that I’ve had lying around for a while seemed to jump out at me this morning…

“If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing anything for anybody.”  (Malcolm Bane)


“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” —Ronald Reagan

Be the somebody who helps somebody else today. The who is unimportant. The how is unimportant. The what is unimportant. It’s the doing that’s important. The need is all around you.

helperDon’t just say that you’d like to help. Opening your wallet to help is good; but, opening your eyes and heart and jumping in to actually do something is better. By your actions, those in need shall know that you are a Christian. By your actions, you shall know that you are a Christian. By your actions, Jesus shall know that you are a Christian.

In James 2: 14-17 we read – “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Edgar Guest out it this way – “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.” Let the world see your sermon in the good works that you do for others.

Be a sermon this weekend. Find a need and fill it. Find someone wanting and be their giver. Do something for someone.

Can I get an Amen to that?

Be somebody…it matters…

August 18, 2017

The two quotes that inspired me today both came from my favorite source for inspirational quotes – the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”  (Mother Teresa)

– and –

“How you matter is defined by the things that matter to you.”  (John Green)

The first quote by Mother Teresa is the trap that most of us fall into most of the time – being a nobody to the people that we meet in our day-to-day lives. It’s not that we consciously set out to be a nobody; it’s more that we don’t make the effort necessary to be a somebody in the lives of those that we encounter during the day. Perhaps you could understand this better by asking yourself this simple question – “Who do I remember encountering from yesterday and why do I remember them?”

handshakeI suspect that you will begin to realize that those who made a lasting impression upon you were those who took the time to interact with you, to greet you and to listen to you when you spoke. That is normally an interaction with more content to it than just a cursory “Hi, how ya doing?” exchange as you passed. The second quote comes into play at the point when you realize that what matters to you is your interaction with others that you meet. If you place your relationships with others above your pursuit of money or things, you will find that you matter to them, too.

At the core of Green’s quote is the concept of your moral priorities – the things that matter to you. Basing those priorities on anything other than a strong belief in God as the bedrock for your life is like building your house on sand. It will be a life of shifting values that will eventually collapse. If you start out with your number one priority being your relationship with God, through your acceptance of Jesus as your savior; you will not find the accumulation of material possessions anywhere on your priority list of things woman-prayingthat matter. You are more likely to have a list of things that you want to do for others and priorities based upon loving, sharing and helping.

Once those things become what matters to you and you starting acting on those priorities, you will find that you matter a whole lot more to those whom you meet and they will matter a whole lot more to you.  You will no longer be a nobody to anybody that you encounter. Being somebody isn’t about what you have in life; it’s about what you do in life that impacts others. There ae tons of bible verses about caring for others and sharing with others; but, I don’t think there are any about making as much money as you can and buying as many things as you can. Those things didn’t matter to Jesus and God; why should they matter to you? It’s better to be somebody who matters to somebody else.

Have a great weekend and go out and be somebody.


August 14, 2017

As seen in a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “All I do is accept people as they are.”  (Joan Rivers) Jack went on to write about people who accept who they are and make no pretensions to the world. He used the cartoon character Popeye as an example. Jack wrote –  Popeye had a sense of self-worth:  I like that in a person.  “I yam who I yam!”  In this-is-memore modern terms it would be WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get.

Do you have a good sense of self-worth and value and do you accept people as they are? I’ve written her before about people who have a sense of self-loathing, mainly brought on by their tendency to compare themselves to others, instead of just accepting who they are and living happily with that realization. Wayne and Garth in the movie Wayne’ World repeatedly used the phrase “We’re not worthy” when in the presence of rock stars. Sometimes people go through life with a “I’m not worthy” chip of their shoulder.

A simple way to overcome the “I’m not worthy” syndrome is to change the persp

introducing friendective of that statement.  Ask yourself in whose eyes are you judging your worthiness?  Then take the time to recall that you are so worthy in God’s eye that He gave his only son to atone for your sins and to save you. That should make you feel worthy in any situation and free you to live a WYSIWYG life. If you can do that, the next step of accepting others as they are is easy.

Have a great week ahead.

Entitled to nothing; but, thankful for everything…

August 12, 2017

Today’s quote is one that I saw on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently – “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”  (Tiny Buddha)

I would have added the words “they have” to the end of that quote. It is the human tendency to covet what we don’t have that causes dissatisfaction and dissention in our lives. Perhaps the most over-abused term in our modern language is the word “right”, as in it is my right to have (put in anything that you have heard lately using that phrase). Many people feel that they are entitled to or have a right to things that they don’t have and they somehow come to the conclusion that the society that they live in have some sort of obligation to provide them with that things or service or whatever it is that they feel entitle to. In fact, this feeling has become so prevalent in America that news casts often capture people characterizing things like access to health care or a clean water supply as “basis human rights.”

Let’s be clear. There are no such things as basic human rights or entitlements. One has only to journey to the wilds of the South American Jungles or the jungles of Africa to find primitive tribes living hard-scramble subsistence existences to find examples of peoplei want living in the most natural state of human rights. Anywhere else, where people are given, or have free access to, things above the subsistence level by the society they live in, is an example of privileges being extended by that society and not examples of people having rights to those things.

Those people living without entitlements in the wilderness are very happy when the tribal hunters return from a successful hunt or when what crops that they might plant bear fruit. They may wish for an easier life, but they may also be happy with what God has provided them from the land around them, even if their concept of God is somewhat murky.

No one wants to return to a crude, subsistence level of living in the jungle; however, all of us could learn to be a little more thankful and happy with what God has provided and be less focused upon what we don’t have. That is not to say that we need put up with cases of overt discrimination or criminal activities, such as happened in the Flint water crisis; however, we should couch our response to such activity in the proper terms. It was not that the Flint residents had a basic human right to clean water so much as it was that the residents who were paying for water to their houses had the right to expect that the water would be clean and safe to drink and use. That was not the case in Flint and is perhaps not the case in other locations in America. In some cases, it involves ineptitude on the part of the governmental bodies that supply the water and in others it involves criminal conduct by those who knew that they were doing wrong, such as in Flint.

woman-prayingOne can get in the right frame of mind about life by starting each day with a little “thank you” prayer to God for allowing you to awaken to another day. You weren’t even entitled to that day, so right away you have been given a gift to enjoy. Everything beyond that is just something that you should enjoy and be thankful for having. So, take the advice from today’s quote and make the best of everything that you have; rather than spend your time and energy worrying about things that you don’t have. God has just given you the most precious thing that money can’t buy and which isn’t a right – time. Use your time today wisely; be thankful and happy and make the best of what you have.

Good luck today…

August 8, 2017

This little saying from the Dalia Lama is a wonderful way to see life – “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

The landfills of America and the garage sales in your neighborhood are filled with things that someone “wanted” and just had to have. We sometimes even pray for the things that we want, when we should be thanking God for providing the things that we need.

Wanting things, desiring things and obsessing over getting things is both a waste of our time and ultimately fruitless. As soon as we obtain whatever it is that we have been chasing goalchasing, some other shiny thing catches our attention and off we go again. Most people will probably admit that getting the thing of our desires was not as satisfactory as they thought that it might be. In fact, quite often, they will say that the pursuit was the real satisfying part. But, is the pursuit of material things that we don’t really care about once that are obtained really a good use of our time?

Perhaps the stroke of luck that the Dalia Lama was talking about comes along with the realization that the object of that desire was not all that important in the grand scheme of things. That allows you to move on to thinking about what is important in life. I’ve posted here in the past about the importance of interpersonal relationships and making others feel good (see

Why do you think doing things to help others or make them feel better also makes you Gods work our handsfeel better? We have a little saying in the ELCA church that is used in many churches – “God’s work, our hands.” The real significance of that saying is that, by doing those things that need to be done in your community to help others, you bring yourself closer to God by becoming the hands through which He achieves his miraculous work. This world that we live in is the job site and God is the site manager, doling out the jobs that need to be done and helping direct their accomplishment. You can’t find a better boss to work for and the benefits are great, both now and later.

So, the next time that you don’t get something that you’ve been wishing for, take the time to thank God and ask Him what it is he has in mind for you to do. Not only will it help put that disappointment out of your mind; but, it will give your life new purpose and probably result in an experience that will end up as a fond memory rather than a garage sale item. Good luck today!

Listen and help, listen and learn…

August 5, 2017

Two quotes from recent posts to the Jack’s Winning Words blog seem to fit together nicely to illustrate the benefits of being a good listener.

“All people want is someone to listen.”  (Hugh Elliott)


“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.”  (Wilson Mizner)

It seems like there are nightly stories on the news shows about people complaining that no one in their local government is listening to them or at least ignoring what they have to say. Much of the psychiatric and psychological practices in modern medicine aredebaters based upon careful listening. It would seem that many of the problems in politics today could be attributed to the two main sides not taking time to listen to the other. In our daily lives we encounter many opportunities to listen to others; but, how many of us really put the effort into listening, rather than getting ready for the next things that we want to say?

We often greet others with trite little sayings for which we don’t really expect much of an answer, and certainly not a full conversation. Saying “Hi. How are you?” is not really an invitation for the other party to go into an in-depth medical report. However, seeing someone you know who has been through something in their life that was disruptive and saying something like “How have you been since you go out of the hospital?” is an handshakeinvitation to a conversation and an expression of concern and care about that person. That conversation will deserve a good listener and there will be therapeutic value in the attention that you pay to the other party. They may rally need to share with someone who is willing to listen.

The other potential benefit of being a good listener is that you learn things and it builds you knowledge base. Good listening is a constant process of hearing, evaluating, sorting and storing or discarding the information that you hear. Listening is not considered to be as strong of a learning experience as seeing and perhaps that is because so few people really listen well. It takes commitment and concentration to listen well. That means that you suspend for the moment your thoughts about what you want to say next and focus on that is being said by the other party. For most of us that is a hard thing to do.

In poker the players watch the others in the game intently looking for what are called “tells”, which are visual clues that manifest themselves in the other players’ facial expression or body language to give away whether they have a good or maybe are just bluffing. In conversations there are “tells” that indicate whether the other person isarrogant really listening to you or just thinking about their next opportunity to speak. You can see their lack of eye contact or the expression on their face. It’s that look of, “Oh God, I really didn’t want to hear about your problems; I’ve got problems of my own.” Good listeners will be paying close attention to your words and may interject some words of encouragement or understanding as you speak. Good listeners may also ask questions about the topic that you were expounding upon, because they are processing the information and want to learn more about it.

listenAre you a good listener? Do you commit to listen when engaging others in conversation or do you just do join the conversation so that you can interject your point of view without real regard for their position? That is the unfortunate situation in the political environment in our county today. The Bible has this to say about those who do not listen, but only want to talk. “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” – Proverbs 18:2.


“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” – Proverbs 18:13

Don’t be the fool who dos not listen, but chimes in with his/her answer before the question is complete. Take the time to listen. The speaker will appreciate it and you may even learn something. Have a great weekend.

Keep God as the one constant in your life…

August 4, 2017

The only thing constant about life is that there are no constants…everything changes – that’s vaguely what the ancient philosopher Heraclitus was alluding to when he said that “life is flux”.


Every now and then I stop and think about how things, little things, change in my life from day to day or week to week. For a while I was going to gym and working out every day. Then it became three times a week and now it is maybe 2-3 times a week. It’s not that I consciously decided to stop going all the time, but life changed and I got too busy to women looking at watchgo every day and then too busy to go 3 times a week and now I really have to make a special effort to go twice a week.


The same thing happened to my blogging. For a while I was posting to this blog every day, then maybe 3-4 times a week, then maybe 1-2 times a week and now maybe 1-2 ties every two weeks. I didn’t stop loving to do blog posts, but I ran out to time because I let other things take precedence over spending that hour to write a post.


There are many other examples that I could expound upon and many examples in your life that might come to your mind. Life changes and our daily routines change with it, sometimes causing things that we used to like to do to fall by the wayside. Our faith and churchthe practice of it in our daily lives can become victims of life’s changes and distractions, if we don’t make a special effort to recognize God as the central constant in our lives.  For most that means taking time out once a week to attend church.


I’ve posted here a couple of times (perhaps the posts might be considered to have been rants) about the hegemony of sports, especially youth sports, on the practice of religion in America. We certainly didn’t see that change coming.  Whole families are taken away from church because of soccer or female soccer playerbaseball or other sports (hockey in the winter) that are now played or practiced on Sunday mornings. One could hope that somehow the families involved took time later in the day to home school their children on the importance of God and religion in their lives, but I suspect that is more of a dream than a real hope.


So why make God the one constant in our lives? I would ask in reply to that question; what else do we have, if not God, to serve as an anchor, a constant, in our lives?  God is the only thing that we can imagine or point to that never changes. Our beliefs may waiver and our minds may wander from time to time; but, every time that we turn back to God, He is the same. He never leaves us and He never stops loving us, even as we wander away, distracted by other demands in our


It is worthwhile to take a moment each day and at least acknowledge that fact, that God is the one constant, in our lives. Just reaching out to God as the touchstone in our lives on a daily basis will serve to keep us grounded in values that will also serve us well in meeting life’s challenges. I have shared here before the very simple, yet immensely powerful little prayer that I use to reach out to God – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” That simple little sentence incorporates belief, acceptance, surrender, and hope all in one phrase and is a great start to any day. Try it yourself. It will help you keep God as the one constant in your life and you will begin each day unburdened by the concerns and fears that you just handed off to God.