Advice from Ben Franklin…

February 18, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote that is attributed to Benjamin Franklin – “Those who in quarrels interpose, must often wipe a bloody nose.” 

Franklin was probably referring to those who stick their nose in where it doesn’t belong, or to those who jump into arguments seeking to be peacemakers. It often happens that the anger that was being vented between the arguing parties becomes refocused onto the peacemaker. We sometimes see on the nightly news that some would-be peacemaker in a street argument ends up being shot or injured by one of the parties to the argument.

While being a peacemaker is sometimes dangerous or difficult, it is a role to which we have been called. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Perhaps suffering the occasional bloody nose is the price that one must pay to be a peacemaker. Peacemakers are the “first responders” in life’s brouhaha’s . Defusing a disagreement that could get out of hand requires that one jump in, separate the parties and stop the progression of the situation. Once the escalation of emotions is halted; the peacemaker can determine a course of action by listening to the two sides. Often it is a misunderstanding of what has been said or the words that were used. Sometimes just helping one or both parties understand what it is that they are disagreeing upon is enough to calm things down. Sometimes not.

In some cases, the best that the peacemaker can achieve is détente, a pause that one hopes will lead to a more permanent understanding. Even that may be looked at as a win, since the situation was calmed to the point where it didn’t boil over into physical conflict. Perhaps  the bloody nose that the peacemaker might have suffered that provided the outlet for the anger that was driving the situation.

Whatever the situation, it is better to act, to interpose as Franklin put it; than to sit by and do nothing, even if there is an element of danger involved in acting. Why? Because you know, it is right to do so.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17 )

And, what if you don’t act? Maybe Franklin would have put it this way –

Those who sit by and do not act, most often regret it after the fact.

Do the right thing! Be a peacemaker. Your nose will heal and you will be better for having acted.

Peace be with you.


What is your religion?

February 13, 2020

“When I do good, I feel good.  When I do bad, I feel bad.  That’s my religion.”  (A. Lincoln)

Those were the words of wisdom from today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write that Lincoln was not a member of any organized religion, but he certainly did a lot more good in this world than many of his era that were church goers. Religion is sometimes defined as the practice of one’s faith, what one believes in. One would be hard presses to find a better example than Abe Lincoln of someone who practiced what they believed in.

So, the question, “What’s your religion”, really boils down to what do you believe and do you practice what you believe? Churches tend to build complex sets of rules and rituals for the practice of beliefs, turning them into dogma which cannot be challenged. Disagreements over that dogma has lead to the splintering of churches or religions, not matter what beliefs  they were originally based upon. That is why we have so many different faiths and denominations and sects within faiths. At their core, most are defined by a belief in a supreme being (God in whatever name is used). Once you get past that simple core belief, one begins to encounter the hand of man in the accepted practices of worshiping that God. Let the dogma begin. Most practitioners of religion eventually find a set of dogma that they can accept and settle into one of these groups, secure in their knowledge that they are practicing the one, true religion, while all others are doomed.

At least the religion that Abe Lincoln professed has very simple and straightforward rules – do good and feel good about it or do bad and feel bad about it. Jesus put it that we should love others as He has loved us and do unto others as we would have them do to us.  I suspect that you would end up doing good if you accepted that as your religion. Leave the dogma stuff to the people who are more concerned about perpetuating their institutions than about the faith that underpins their religions.

Perhaps you can reinforce your religion by saying a little prayer each morning asking God to help you practice what Jesus preached – love one another. Another of Jack’s posts came to mind as I am writing this. As much of a reach as it may be to see the connection here that quote from Emily Post was this –

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.  If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” 

If you are sensitively aware of the feelings and needs of others and do something to help (do good) you have good religion, no matter what church (Sect/group/denomination/etc.) you worship in. Just keep the faith and all else will take care of itself.

What is your religion?


Imagine success…

February 10, 2020

In a today’s installment of the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Pastor Jack Freed used this quote –

“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited about what could go right.”  (Tony Robbins)

I’ve also posted here a few times about not wasting your time worrying about all of the bad  things that might happen .

Robbins’ advice isn’t so much about not worrying as it is about completely refocusing your thoughts. Many professional athletes (especially pro golfers) use a technique called visualization to “see” the result that they desire before they even swing the club. They do not stand there worrying about how to get out of the sand trap next to the green. They have trained themselves to see and get excited about what could go right. In their mind’s eye the ball will gently land on the green and roll right into the cup. They imagine success, not disaster.

As you face a new day and a new week, there are probably challenges ahead that you already know about, at work or at home. You could spend your time fretting about what could go wrong or you can visualize how you are going to make things go right. Visualizing success does not completely discount any challenges that may be there, but it does “see” how you are going to handle and overcome them. It give you the confidence to face them, because you have already dealt with them in your mind and see the positive outcome.

Many events that you may be visualizing will have some unpleasant moments – moments of sadness or fear or anger. It is the fear of an unknown outcome that paralyzes many people. Visualizing how you will handle them and get through them allows you to “see” the desired outcome at the end of the event…it removes the unknown from the equation and allows you to imagine success.

Perhaps the best way to “see” success is to first visualize that God is there with you, giving you the advice and help that you need. Pro golfers have their caddies right there with them, helping them determine the right club to use and where to aim. You can visualize yourself walking into the situation ahead with God at your side to give you the strength and advice that you need to succeed. Start your day out with a quick prayer to ask for God to be with you throughout the day. Then visualize what the two of you can do together. Imagine what God can do to help you.

It’s going top be a great day and a great week ahead. Imagine success!


Don’t get spit out; get committed…

January 23, 2020

“There are only two options regarding commitment.  You’re either IN or you’re OUT.  There is nor such thing as life in between.”  (Pat Riley)

That was the quote in a recent installment of the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Riley was referring to being committed in basketball terms, but he was also referring to life in general. Many seem to think that being a spectator in life means the same as being committed. It does not. I am reminded of the old saying , “The chicken was involved in the breakfast meal, but the pig was committed.”

Later is his post, Jack used this short quote from Revelations 3:16 – “Because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out.” Apparently, God wants us to get committed or get left behind.

But, how does one get committed in their faith? Actually, we got fairly specific instructions on that in the Bible. Many passages instruct the followers of Christ to share the Good News.  Some of the faithful take that commitment to the extreme, preaching from a soap box on a street corner; but, for most, there is another way to be committed.  

Two verses from the Bible  that I particularly like are these –

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16) 

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15)

It seems to me that these passages are saying that living one’s life in quiet confidence of salvation and doing what is right for others (good works) is a great way to let the light of Christ shine through you. Showing gentleness and respect while defending your faith is just being consistent with that confidence.

We need not spend or days overtly bringing up our faith and cajoling others about their faith; rather we need to live our lives such that our decisions and actions reflect our faith. Often that will involve making decisions to help others or to do the “right thing” when faced with tough decisions. We should be able to look back at the end of the day and be proud of the decisions that we made and not ashamed of them. Some use the little reminder bracelets with the initials WWJD on them, because they help one stop and think about the decision at hand within the context of one’s faith.  Not every decision involves one’s faith, but many decisions have a right or wrong component to them that can benefit from that pause. The right or wrong component usually involves the decision’s impact upon others.

I have written here before that a good little prayer to start your day my include this line – “Help me make good decisions today.”  That helps you get committed for the day. Don’t get spit out. Get committed. Let His light shine through you.


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.


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.