The Ripple

It seems that we have become a society of isolationists. I wonder how your life would change if you lived with a constant awareness of community.

What would happen if, instead of staring straight ahead, you nodded your head to the person stopped beside you at the traffic light? Every traffic light. How would it affect your day – or theirs?

What if you greeted with a smile every person you passed on the sidewalk?

I wonder if you would get better service at your favorite lunch spot if you were friendly to the hostess and servers from the moment you stepped into the building.

Truthfully, your community is affected in some way by your mood, your attitude, your behavior, and your decisions. There’s no need to live as if no one cares about you or as if it doesn’t matter what you do. Many times throughout this day you are making or breaking somebody’s plan or somebody’s heart or somebody’s future. There’s a ripple effect that begins with one of us and reaches all of us.

I’m trying to do my part. Thanks for returning the favor.

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What Time Is It?

Remember the pipeline controversy that was making headlines last year? Once the cameras and reporters left, you stopped caring about the possibility that a leak could contaminate the water of a reservation downstream. I bet you didn’t know that the pipeline is now open.

There’s a whole list of soapboxes you’ve been on. I hopped on a few myself. I climbed down when I realized the facts weren’t really facts at all. The photographic proof wasn’t that at all. The firsthand accounts? Nope, fabricated stories. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still passionate about justice and mercy and love and humility, but I’ve smashed my social media soapbox. It never changed your mind any more than yours changed my mind.

If we’re really concerned about an issue we’ll probably be more effective by DOING something rather than just SAYING something. I say you should speak up when your words will make a difference, but don’t forget, “There’s a time to hear and a time to be heard.” Let’s consider if it’s time to act or time to speak before we grab another bullhorn.

I’m Not Much

If there has ever been any question about who I am, I’m just flesh and blood.

If there has ever been a question about my abilities, I’m weak.

If there has ever been a question about my endurance, I’m subject to falling often.

If there has ever been a question about my wisdom, I have little of my own.

I’m not much to talk about, but let me explain why I’m still here.

There has never been a question about my Father, and since He still calls me His son I can hold my head high.

There has never been a question about His power, and when I submit to Him I see Him do amazing things.

There has never been a question about the beauty of His grace, and that allows me to get back up again when I fall.

There has never been a question about the truth that sets us free, so when I am confused I turn off the loudest voices so I can hear His more clearly.

We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours. Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. We may be knocked down, but not out. We continually share in the death of Jesus in our own bodies so that the resurrection life of Jesus will be revealed through our humanity. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Love ’em or Leave ’em

No, I’m not talking about your spouse, I’m referring to your friends. I think it’s important for us to evaluate our relationships and, when necessary, step away from some of them.

How do you know who to love and who to leave?

Do they add value to your life, to your day? Do you feel better by being with them? Love ’em! Does the relationship drain your energy? Leave ’em!

Do they listen to your advice and respond in a way that makes them a better person? Love ’em! Do you have to repeat the same advice in every conversation to no avail? Leave ’em!

Do they see things from a perspective different from yours? Love ’em! Are they just agreeable to make you happy? Leave ’em!

Do they offer helpful advice and encouragement? Love ’em! Are your conversations with them filled with gossip, or negativity? Leave ’em!

Do they respect your boundaries regarding time? Love ’em! Do they take up time that would be better spent doing something else? Leave ’em!

Do they push you toward your dreams and goals? Love ’em! Do they distract you and pull you off track? Leave ’em!

I think you get the point. Regularly evaluate your relationships – not just the close ones, but you may need to rethink the people who in your outer circle too.

What other questions would you ask to determine who needs the boot?

Jesus is Coming

There are Christians who do not believe that Jesus will return to earth. But His disciples did. They posed a question to Jesus, “What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” Regardless of what you may have read elsewhere, they did believe that one day life as they knew it on planet earth would change, and that change would be precipitated by Jesus returning.

Jesus did not chide them, rather, he answered their question with a list of things that would be commonplace at the time of his return. Here they are:

  • False messiahs and false prophets performing amazing, impossible feats and attracting followers.
  • Wars breaking out and nations threatening to go to war.
  • Famine across much of the world.
  • Earthquakes in unexpected places.
  • Jesus’ followers being hated, persecuted, arrested, and even killed.
  • Some of Jesus’ followers renouncing their faith, hating and betraying other Christians.
  • Rampant sin.
  • Tenderhearted, loving people becoming callous.

Jesus left no doubt as to what these signs precede, “Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.”

Later, when Paul wrote to Timothy about the last days, he also had a list.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people…” 2 Timothy 3:2-5

As I said earlier, some Christians don’t believe this word. If the disciples did, if Paul and Timothy did, if Jesus himself did, so do I. The signs are showing me that it’s true.

My hope is found in Jesus’ promise, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:13

I Don’t Just Want You To Be Happy

You’ve heard your friends say it – over and over. You may have even said it, but I bet you didn’t really mean it.

“My son has moved back into our basement, but as long as he’s happy…”

“My sister decided to quit her job and start a band, but as long as she’s happy…”

Sometime in the second half of the 20th century, happiness became a life goal, and we won’t let it go. Let me say it, I’m ok with losing the phrase, “I just want you to be happy.”

It’s not that I don’t want you to be happy, I just want happiness to be a byproduct of better things. What I really want is for you to make a difference in your world. I want you to be kind to your fellow citizens. I want you to be productive with your hands and your mind. I want you to learn and teach. I want you to work hard and accomplish missions. I want you to reproduce yourself and your abilities. I want you to be curious and ask questions. I want you to explore and discover.

Those things won’t always be fun. They may even be painful, but they will produce moments of joy, and joy outweighs happiness by far.

I want you to love and find love. I want you to live in contentment. I want you to be dependable and establish a good reputation. I want you to slow down and see what others miss. I want you to take time to hear what others are saying to you. I want you to avoid anger and resentment. I want you to forgive and not hold onto bitter feelings. I want you to know the truth and not let your thoughts deceive you. I want you to avoid gossip and ignore stupidity.

I want you to hear God’s voice in the thunder and the rain. I want you to see his face in the sun and moon. I want you to feel his arms on the starless nights. I want you to see his artistry in landscapes and in yourself. I want you to experience for yourself his love and follow his direction.

Do I want you to be happy? Sure, but I don’t want you to be happy at the cost of what really matters.