Wednesday, February 29, 2012

PERCEPTIVE?


FM:  Leaving the Light On

Sixth grade hadn’t been a banner year for Eric. Never very confident in school, he had a particular dread of mathematics. “A mental block,” one of the school’s counselors had told him. Then, as if a mental math block wasn’t enough for an eleven-year-old kid to deal with, he came down with measles in the fall and had to stay out of school for two weeks. By the time he got back, his classmates were multiplying fractions. Eric was still trying to figure out what you got when you put a half pie with three-quarters of pie … besides a lot of pie.

Eric’s teacher, Mrs. Gunther – loud, overweight, terrifying, and a year away from retirement – was unsympathetic. For the rest of the year she called him “Measly” in honor of his untimely spots and hounded him with ceaseless makeup assignments. When his mental block prevented his progress in fractions, she would thunder at him in front of the class, “I don’t give a Continental for your excuses! You’d better straighten up, Measly, them ain’t wings I hear flappin’!”

The mental block, once the size of a backyard fence, now loomed like the Great Wall of China. Eric despaired of ever catching up, and even fell behind in subjects he’d been good at.

Then came a remarkable moment.

It happened in the middle of Mrs. Warwick’s ninth grade English class. To this day, some twenty-five years later, Eric still lights up as he recalls the Moment.

The fifth period class had been yawning through Mrs. Warwick’s attempts to spark discussion about a Mark Twain story. At some point in the lecture, something clicked in Eric’s mind. It was probably crazy, but it suddenly seemed like he understood something Twain had been driving at – something a little below the surface. Despite himself, Eric raised his hand and ventured an observation.

That led to the moment when Mrs. Warwick looked straight into Eric’s eyes, beamed with pleasure, and said, “Why, Eric … that was very perceptive of you!”

Perceptive. Perceptive? Perceptive!

The word echoed in Eric’s thoughts for the rest of the day – and then for the rest of his life. Perceptive? Me? Well, yeah. I guess that WAS perceptive. Maybe I AM perceptive.

One word, one little positive word dropped at the right moment somehow tipped the balance in a teenager’s view of himself – and possibly changed the course of his life. (Even though he still can’t multiply fractions).

Eric went on to pursue a career in journalism and eventually became a book editor, working successfully with some of the top authors in America.

Many teachers are well aware how praise motivates children. One teacher said she praised each student in her third grade class every day, without exception. Her students were the most motivated, encouraged, and enthusiastic in the school. I remember what happened when my high school geometry teacher began to affirm me regularly. Within six weeks my D average climbed to an A.

It’s wonderful when a teacher has the opportunity to inject a word of affirmation into a child’s life. But after years of counseling, we have concluded that the most powerful form of affirmation takes place close to home

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

STILL, SMALL VOICE


By:  J. Meyer

Someone once told me of a one-act play with three characters – a father, a mother, and a son who had just returned from Viet Nam – who are sitting at a table to talk. The play lasts thirty minutes, and they all get their chance to talk. There’s only one problem: No one listens to the others.

The father is about to lose his job. The mother had once held just about every office in the church, and now younger women are pushing her aside. The son struggles with his faith. He had gone to war, seen chaos and death, and now is bewildered about life.

At the end of the play, the son stands and heads toward the door. “You haven’t heard a word I’ve said,” is his parting remark, as he walks out of the room.

The parents look at each other, and the mother asks, “What did he mean?”

What the parents didn’t get – and the audience obviously does – is that the son struggles to believe in a loving, caring God. Every time he tries to explain, one of the parents interrupts with something they want to say. The soldier needed to hear from God. Hoping his mother or father would be the channel through which God would speak, he went to them. However, they were not available for God to use because they were not quiet enough to hear Him. All three of them were so distraught and noisy that they all left the same way they came. What might have happened had they really listened to one another, and then quietly prayed and waited on God? I am sure the outcome would have been very different and much more rewarding.

In the closing scripture, I quoted part of the story of Elijah to make this point clear. That deeply committed prophet had defied the wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel for years. The big moment came on Mount Camel when Elijah destroyed 450 prophets of Baal. Later, when Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him, he ran away, apparently in terror.

He must have been worn out by the powerful events. Then suddenly the man was alone, with no crowds, no one trying to kill him, and no one to talk to. Just before the two verses mentioned above, Elijah had gone into a cave to hide out. When God asked him what he was doing there, he spoke of his zeal for God. Then he told God that the children of Israel had gone astray, killing prophets, “And I, I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away (v. 10).

God brought strong winds, falling rocks, an earthquake, and fire. I think that was the way Elijah expected God to appear – in the miraculous and powerful. But the writer tells us God wasn’t in those things.

This is really the spiritual principle of God at work. We can find the devil in the noise and the shouts. We can find the devil with big attractions to lead us astray. But God likes to speak in the still, small voice – the voice that not everyone will hear – the voice that only the committed will listen for.

As long as Elijah sought the dramatic, he wouldn’t hear God. But when he pulled back and listened for the inner voice, the soft, non-demanding voice of the Holy Spirit, Elijah would communicate with God.

What kind of voice from God are you listening for? Will you recognize the still, small voice when you hear it? Do you take time to be quiet and just listen? If not, there is no better time to begin than right now.


And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire (a sound of gentle stillness and) a still, small voice. – 1 Kings 19: 11-12


Wise God, like Elijah and many others, I often look for the loud, the exciting, and the showy. I know that You sometimes use healings and miracles, but I ask You to help me listen most of all in the soft stillness for the quiet ways in which You speak. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

THE GREATEST FEAR OF THE FUTURE


By:  Z. Ziglar

The greatest fear of the future held by many is the fear of death. I remember immediately following the events of September 11, 2001, people asked me how my travel schedule would be affected. I said, “Not at all.”
I live my life looking through the windshield, not the rearview mirror. I believe the words of Psalm 139 that say the days of my life were ordained before I even existed (see verse 16). If that is true - and I believe it is - then no terrorist can touch me until God grants permission. Nor can any other harm befall me. And when it is my time to be promoted to heaven - regardless of how it happens - do you think I live in fear of that hour? Why, heaven is what I’m living for on earth!

Until one has conquered the ultimate fear - the fear of death - no lesser fear is worth worrying about.

I encourage you not to be stressed about the future … We may not know what the future holds, but we definitely know Who holds the future. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WHAT IS HAPPINESS?


By:  F. Kong

An English newspaper asked this question: “Who are the happiest people on earth?” These were the four prize-winning answers:

A craftsman or artist whistling over a job well done.
A little child building sand castles.
A mother, after a busy day, bathing her baby.
A doctor who has finished a difficult and dangerous operation, and saved a human life.

Notice something? No millionaires among these. No kings or emperors. Riches and rank, no matter how the world strives for them, do not make happy lives.

Here’s something from the Internet.

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough and we’ll be more content when they are. After that, we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are  out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire. The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges.

It’s better to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. Alfred D. Souza said, “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin-real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life”. This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness.

Happiness is the way. Treasure every moment you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, and remember that time waits for no one. So, stop waiting until you finished school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first of fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you’ve had a drink, until you’ve sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

The Nazis in World War II imprisoned Dr. Viktor Frank l, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, because he was a Jew. His wife, his children, and parents were all killed in the holocaust.

The Gestapo made him strip. He stood there totally naked. As they cut away  his wedding band, Viktor said to himself, “You can take away my wife, you can take away my children, you can strip me of my clothes and my freedom, but there is one thing no person can ever take away from me - and that is my freedom to choose how I will react to what happens to me!” Even under the most difficult of circumstances, happiness is a choice, which transform or tragedies into triumph.

So you said you got a difficult boss? Your savings is running low?

You’ve got problems? Welcome to the club! It’s your choice. You can either groan, moan and whimper or you can choose to appreciate God’s blessings and be happy.

Your kids? They’re gifts from God. Your wife? She’s your helpmate. Your family and loved ones? You’ll never find people who would care for you the way they do. Yes! And that includes your in-laws! Don’t take these daily miracles for granted.

Work like you don’t need money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. And dance like no one’s watching.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

THE MOTIVE OF TRUE LOVE


By:  M. Munroe

Most of the people who say they love you may just be tolerating you. The rest of them probably have ulterior motives. As humans, we do things for others so that we can get things done for us. If it is one thing that the world needs now is a big dose of genuine love.

As numerous scholars have researched and discussed, the Greeks have identified four kinds of love. Those four kinds of love are an attempt to describe the different motives for love. “Eros” is the Greek word for sexual or carnal love. It is simply pleasure of the flesh. “Philio” is friendship love. The third word used for love is “storge”, which is family love. The Greeks also distinguished another kind of love, which they called “agape.” Agape is the type of love that the Greeks tried to define as divine love. Jesus also used this word to describe the love of God for humanity. This love is also possible between two people.

Scripture shows that God made love a law. Why? He made it a law because He could not trust us to do it ourselves. He stated to His disciples, “This is My commandment that you love one another…” (Jn. 15:12). A command is not debatable because it is your duty. Duty is absent of feelings. In other words, we think that love has to do with feelings. However, the love that Jesus commands us to have is one that is above feelings. In other words, in the Kingdom of God, the law is that you love them first and then learn to like them. Valentine’s Day is a day when you give flowers or candy to someone that you like. Unfortunately, the intent of this type of love falls short of the motive behind the kind of love that God says to give.

Agape refers to unconditional love. Therefore, if anyone attaches conditions or reasons to why he or she loves you, then agape, unconditional love, has ceased. If someone uses the words “if,” “when,” or “because” when they say that they love you, this is not an unconditional perspective. Wherever there is a reason, there is a condition. Wherever there is a condition, there is expectation. I estimate that 99% of all the problems in relationships have to do with expectation.

For instance, consider this condition: “As a husband, I expect you to cook for me.” What happens when you both work from nine to five, and she is exhausted when you get home? Expectation guarantees disappointment. Disappointment leads to division, which leads to divorce. Divorce can take place in any type of relationship and not just marriage.

Therefore, we need agape love, which is love without reason or condition. I challenge you from this Valentine’s Day forward to examine your motive for loving others and destroys these conditions because reason runs the risk of destroying your relationships.

Monday, February 13, 2012

LOVE


By:  Blackaby

The problem with love is that so many people don’t have a clue what it is. Love is not a feeling; it’s an attitude. Basing love on emotions, as the world does, has caused immeasurable pain to countless numbers of people. It’s like building a sand castle on the beach. It might look solid, but when the high tide rolls in, the sand castle isn’t strong enough to hold up, and it washes away.

Feelings come and go. We all experience a wide array of emotions on any given day. Obviously, basing any human relationship strictly on feelings is asking for trouble. Parents who love their children only when the mood hits them are poor parents. A friend who remains loyal only until a better offer comes along is not much of a friend. A husband who deserts his wife and children because he finds another woman more attractive has missed the point of marriage. The world gives love a staggering amount of attention. Movies, songs, and books about love generate billions of dollars in revenue. The problem is, love is presented as something to be “fallen into” and “fallen out of.” There is no solution given for what to do when emotion fails you and the warm fuzzies are gone – other than bailing out and starting over with someone else. You can recognize worldly love by how unpredictable it is.

The Bible offers a different kind of love. This love says I am committed to act lovingly toward this person regardless of how I feel. You’ll be able to recognize biblical love: It is unselfish, patient, and loyal. It doesn’t keep score; it assumes the best motives. It gives without seeing in return; it always seeks to honor God, and it endures through thick, thin, and in-between. Feelings change. Feelings don’t last, but biblical love is eternal. Ask God to take you beyond the world’s way of loving so you can love others in a totally new dimension, as God does.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” – 1 Cor. 13:4-8

Saturday, February 11, 2012

SPARKY


By:  E. Nightingale

For Sparky, school was all but impossible. He failed every subject in eight grade. He flunked physics in high school, getting a grade of zero. Sparky also flunked Latin, Algebra, and English. He didn’t do much better in sports. Although he did manage to make it to the school’s golf team, he promptly lost the only important match of the season. There was a consolation match; he lost that, too.

Throughout his youth, Sparky was awkward socially. He was not actually disliked by the other students; no one cared that much. He was astonished if a classmate ever said hello to him outside of school hours.

There’s no way to tell how he might have done at dating. Sparky never once asked a girl to go out in high school. He was too afraid of being turned down.

Sparky was a loser. He, his classmates … everyone knew it. So he rolled with it. Sparky had made up his mind early in life that if things were meant to work out, they would. Otherwise he would content himself with what appeared to be his inevitable mediocrity.

However, one thing was important to Sparky -  drawing. He was proud of his artwork. Of course, no one else appreciated it. In his senior year of high school, he submitted some cartoons to the editors of the yearbook. The cartoons were turned down. Despite this particular rejection, Sparky was so convinced of his ability that he decided to become a professional artist.

After completing high school, he wrote a letter to Walt Disney Studios. He was told to send some examples of his artwork, and the subject for a cartoon was suggested. Sparky drew the proposed cartoon. He spent a great deal of time on it and on all the other drawings he submitted. Finally, the reply came from Disney Studios. He had been rejected once again. Another loss for the loser.

So Sparky decided to wrote his own autobiography in cartoons. He described his childhood self – a little boy loser and chronic underachiever. The cartoon character would soon become famous worldwide.

For Sparky, the boy who had such a lack of success in school and whose work was rejected again and again, was Charles Schulz. He created the “Peanuts” comic strip and the little cartoon character whose kite would never fly and who never succeeded in kicking a football – Charlie Brown. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

SMILE IT ADDS TO YOUR FACE VALUE


By:  John L . M.

Christians should be the happiest, most enthusiastic people on earth. In fact, the word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word “entheous”, which means “God within” or “full of God.”

Smiling, proof that you are happy and enthusiastic, is always a choice, not a result. It is a decision that must be consciously made. Enthusiasm and joy and happiness will improve your personality and people’s opinion of you. It will help you keep a proper perspective in life.. Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadow.”

The bigger the challenge you are facing, the more enthusiasm you need. Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” I believe that Jesus was a man who had a smile on his face and a spring in His step.

Our attitude always tells others what we expect in return.

A smile is a powerful weapon. It can break the ice in tough situations. You will find that being enthusiastic is like having a head cold; both are very contagious. A laugh a day will keep the negative people away. As enthusiasm increases, stress and fear decrease. The bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Many people say, “Well, no wonder those people are happy, confident, and positive; if I had their job and assets, I would be happy too!” Such thinking falsely assumes that successful people are positive because they have a good income and lots of possessions. But the reverse is true. Such people probably have a good income and lots of possessions as a result of being positive, confident and happy.

Enthusiasm always inspires action. No significant accomplishment has ever been made without enthusiasm. In John 15:10-11 we have a promise from the Lord that says, “If you obey my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

The Lord’s joy and love are yours – so smile!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

EARTHQUAKES EVERYWHERE


By:  F. Kong

Max Lucado in his book entitled “When Jesus comes” wrote of an earthquake.

The 1989 Armenian earthquake needed only four minutes to flatten the nation and kill thirty thousand people. Moments after the deadly tremor ceased, a father raced to an elementary school to save his son. When he arrived, he saw that the building had been leveled. Looking at the mass of stones and rubble, he remembered a promise he had made to his child: “No matter what happens, I’ll always be there for you.”

Driven by his own promise, he found the area closest to his son’s room and began to pull back the rocks. Other parents arrived and began sobbing for their children. “It’s too late,” they told the man. “You know they are dead. You can’t help.” Even a police officer encouraged him to give up.

But the father refused. For eight hours, then sixteen, then thirty-two, thirty-six hours he dug. His hands were raw and his energy gone, but he refused to quit. Finally, after thirty-eight wrenching hours, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He called his boy’s name, “Arman! Arman!” And a voice answered him, “Dad, it’s me!” Then the boy added these priceless words, “I told the other kids not to worry. I told them if you were alive, you’d save me, and when you saved me, they’d be saved, too. Because you promised, “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you.”

What faith! To stand on the promise of a father. The father made good his promise and the kids never wavered in their belief. Now don’t you wish that the same thing happens to the community of believers?

Lucado continues:

God has made the same promise to us. “I will come back …,” he assures us. Yes, the rocks will tumble. Yes, the ground will shake. But the child of God needn’t fear – for the Father has promised to take us to be with Him. But dare we believe the promise? Dare we trust His loyalty? Isn’t there a cautious part of us that wonders how reliable these words may be?

Perhaps you have no doubts. Congratulations, then. Others, however, could use a reminder. How can we know God will do what He said? How can we believe He will move the rocks and set us free? He’s already done it once, that’s why.

He was crucified on the cross, and His body brought down and kept in a rich man’s tomb. It was sealed with a boulder but no rock is big enough to contain Him. No grave is deep enough to keep Him. He rose up, conquered death, and moved the boulder away. He’s done the impossible before and He’ll do it again.

The book of Revelations pictures the destruction of this decaying world and earthquakes will be used to accomplish this. But do you realize that these will be utilized not only for destruction but also for the formation of the New Heavens and the New Earth?

Would it be so impossible to believe that the shuffling and rearranging rock formation would propel Mount Zion to be the earth’s highest point? And there you find the King of Kings reigning in His rightful throne. I don’t know, do you?

Wouldn’t you think exciting days are ahead of us?

One translation of the Bible says, “Christ rose first; then when Christ comes back, all His people will become alive again.”

Guess what? Even rocks and graves won’t be able to hold us either!

Monday, February 6, 2012

FIRST THINGS FIRST


By:  M. Munroe

The greatest secret to living effectively on earth is understanding the principle and power of priorities. Life on earth holds no greater challenge than the complicating daily demand of choosing among competing alternatives for our limited time. Our life is the sum total of all the decisions we make every day, and those decisions are determined by our priorities. How we use our time every day eventually defines our lives. Life was designed to be simple, not complicated, and the key to simplifying life is prioritization. So then, what is the principle and concept of priority?

Priority is defined as: the principal thing, putting first things first, establishing the most important thing, and primary focus. It is also defined as placing highest value and worth upon. If our priorities determine the quality of life and dictate all of our actions and behavior, then it is essential that we understand and identify our priorities.

The greatest tragedy in life is not death but life without a purpose—life with the wrong priorities. Moreover, life’s greatest failure is to be successful in the wrong assignment. Success in life is measured by the effective use of one’s time. Your time is important because your time is your life. And the key to effective use of your time is establishing correct priorities. First things first!

The principle of priority is important to the concept of the Kingdom of God. Why? Because if priority is the essence of life, then we should want to know what our priority in life should be so that we can live effectively. It may surprise you to know that most of the people in the world are driven by incorrect priorities that occupy and control their entire lives.

God established His priority at the beginning of creation and made it clear by His own declaration to mankind. Jesus Christ came to earth and reestablished God’s number-one priority. During His first discourse introducing His primary message and mission, Jesus established God’s priority for all mankind with several powerful and straightforward statements: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matt 6:25).

Jesus’ admonition to us not to worry implies that these basic needs for maintenance should not be the primary motivator for human action. Our confidence in our Creator’s obligation and commitment to sustain His creation should lead us to transfer our priority from our basic human needs to the priority of cultivating and maintaining a healthy relationship with His Kingdom and with Himself.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

GOD’s INSTRUCTIONS TO THE RICH


By:  H. Dayton

Are you rich? Sometime I feel rich and sometimes I don’t. It usually depends on whom I am around. Most of us define a rich person as a person who has more money than we do. But if we compare our living standards to all the people who have lived throughout history or even with the rest of the billions of people living on the earth today, the majority of us who live in this nation are rich.

The Lord knew the rich would face serious spiritual danger. So Scripture offers three instructions for “those who are rich in this present world” (1 Timothy 6:17).
  •  Do not be conceited.

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited” (1 Timothy 6:17). Wealth tends to produce pride. For several years, I drove two vehicles. The first was an old pickup truck … When I drove that truck to the bank drive-in window to cash a check, I was humble. I knew the cashier was going to double-check my account to make certain that the driver of that truck had sufficient funds to cover the withdrawal. I waited patiently while she checked. When I received the money, I was so grateful. I drove away with a song in my heart and praises on my lips.

My other vehicle was a well-preserved, second-hand automobile that was expensive when it was new. When I drove that car to the bank, I appeared to be a different person. I deserved a certain amount of respect. I was not quite as patient when the cashier examined my account, and when I received the money, I was not as grateful … Wealth stimulates conceit.

James 1:9-10 addresses this issue: “But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away.” The poor should be encouraged as children of the King of kings, while the rich are to remain humble because life is short. If you are rich, you need the constant reminder to be humble before the Lord and other people. 
  • Put no confidence in your assets.

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not … to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). This has been a tremendous struggle for me. It is easy for us to trust in those tangible assets we have accumulated. I know that money can buy goods and services. It has so much power that it is easy to be fooled into thinking that money supplies our needs and offers security. Money can become our first love. We tend to trust in the seen rather than in the invisible living God. This is why we need to constantly remind ourselves to walk by faith rather than by sight.
  •  Give generously.

“Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:18-19).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

THERE BUT NOT THERE


By:  F. Kong

Thomas Carlyle lived from 1795 until 1881. He was a Scot essayist and historian. During his lifetime he became one of the world’s greatest writers. But he was human and humans make mistakes.

On October 17, 1826, Carlyle married his secretary Jane Welsh. She was an intelligent, attractive and somewhat temperamental daughter of a well-to-do doctor. They had their quarrels and misunderstandings, but still loved each other dearly. After their marriage, Jane continued to serve as his secretary.

After several years of marriage, Jane became ill. Being a hard worker, Carlyle became so absorbed in his writings that he let Jane continue working for several weeks after she became ill. She had cancer, and it was one of the slow growing kind. Finally, she became confined to her bed. Although Carlyle loved her dearly, he very seldom find time to stay with her long. He was busy with his work. When Jane died they carried her to the cemetery for the service.

The day was a miserable day. It was raining hard and the mud was deep. Following the funeral, Carlyle went back to his home. He was taking it pretty hard. He went up the stairs to Jane’s room and sat down in the chair next to what once was her bed. He sat there thinking about how little time he had spent with her and wishing so much he had a chance to do it differently.

Noticing her diary on a table beside the bed, he picked it up and began to read in it. Suddenly he seemed shocked. He saw it. There, on one page, she had written a single line.

“Yesterday he spent an hour with me and it was like heaven; I love him so.”

Something dawned on him that he had not noticed before. He had been too busy to notice that he meant so much to her. He thought of all the times he had gone about his work without thinking about and noticing her.

Then Carlyle turned the page in the diary. There he noticed written some words that broke his heart.

“I have listened all day to hear his steps in the hall, but now it is late and I guess he won’t come today.”

Carlyle read a little more in the book. Then he threw it down and ran out of the house. Some of his friends found him at the grave, his face buried in the mud. His eyes were red from weeping. Tears continued to roll down his cheeks. He kept repeating over and over again, “If I had only known, if I had only known.”

But it was too late for Carlyle. She was dead.

After Jane’s death, Carlyle made little attempt to write again. The historian said he lived another 15 years, “weary, bored and a partial recluse.”

Carlyle was there, near his wife but he was never there. Such a touching story but a sad one indeed.  This makes me think. I don’t get out of the house and I don’t have a very active social life either. I’d rather stay home before you come to the conclusion that I am such a family man, I have to be honest.

Lilia and the kids are with me. But am I with them? With all those hours I spend behind the computer I may be in the house but I’m not with them either. Maybe you’re there in the house but just like me you’re not there either. As I spend so much time with my Microsoft Word program, you may be spending more time with your favorite basketball stars than with your wife and kids.

Carlyle saw the truth but it was too late, I shared the story hoping that you will not make the same mistake. While our loved ones must have the money we make to live, it is the love we have that they really want. So give it now before it is too late.

Frank Crane says it beautifully in a poem entitled:

Beauty Of A House

The beauty of the house in harmony,
The security of the house is loyalty,
The joy of the house is love,
The plenty of a house is in the children,
The rule of the house is service,
The comfort of the house is God himself.

Love of our family is spelled T-I-M-E. And there is no fitting substitute.

Friday, February 3, 2012

ONLY ETERNITY IS ULTIMATELY IMPORTANT


By:  W. Kroll

It looked as though both the hero and the heroine of the Western movie were doomed. They were surrounded by a pack of cattle thieves intent on making sure neither left that place alive. One of the little boys in the front row of the theater sniffed, “If he had kept his eye on the gang instead of the girl, this never would have happened!”

Unfortunately, all of us are guilty of having our eyes on the wrong thing – especially when it comes to the matter of eternity. We get so caught up in the here and now that we forget eternity is far more important.

Eternity will last an awfully long time (in fact, using eternity and time in the same sentence is an oxymoron; they don’t logically belong together, like sanitary and landfill). God’s wisdom urges us to face the fact that the earthly part of life is brief (Prov. 27:1) and that we will spend far more of our life in eternity than anywhere else. Therefore, we need to look at our accomplishments as we will see them on eternity’s morning, when our earthly years will be behind us. What will be important on that great and glorious morning? Money? No, that will be gone, never to come back again. Position? That will have passed away forever as well. Pleasure and comfort? Those, too, will be irrelevant.

But we will value two things with all our being: the first is to know that God had His way and His will in our lives, and the second is to know that precious souls whom we influenced are standing around God’s throne.

We make an eternal investment when growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is a priority in our lives. We have an eye on eternity when we give of our substance and of our time to help others come to know Christ as their Savior and Lord. Jesus commanded us to “lay up for (our)selves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20). All other monetary investments pale by comparison. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A REAL LOVE STORY


By:  F. Kong

Thomas Crum has a story to tell. In his book entitled “Journey to Center” he describes his own personal encounter with a great love story – a story of unending love and undying commitment.

One evening I found myself at a conference in Washington, D.C. And as fate would have it, Inventor Bucky Fuller happened to be making a presentation that evening at another conference in the very same hotel. I got to the ballroom in time to hear the end of Buck’s lecture. I was in awe of this little man in his eighties, with his clear mind, deep wisdom and boundless energy. At the end of the talk, we walked together through the underground parking lot to his airport limousine.

“I’ve got to go to New York City for another presentation,” he said, looking at me with an anxiousness that I had rarely seen in Bucky.

      “You know, Annie’s not doing well. I’m very    
        concerned about her.”

We hugged.

Bucky Fuller had once confided to me that he had promised his wife Annie to die before she did, so that he could be there to welcome her when it was her turn. I took the comment as a hope, not a commitment. Which shows how greatly I underestimated Buckminster Fuller.

Shortly after Bucky’s presentation in New York, he was informed that Annie had lapsed into a coma in a hospital in Los Angeles.

Doctors felt that there was a good chance she would not regain consciousness. Bucky took the first flight he could get. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, he went immediately to Annie’s bedside. Sitting beside her, he closed his eyes. And quietly died.

I was reading this story inside my car. I usually do that – beats traffic every time. But the moment I got to the end of the story I simply heard myself saying, “Oh man! Man, oh man.!” Talk about love. Talk about commitment. How did he die? I don’t know. Don’t ask me. The story didn’t tell. What was the cause of death? I don’t know, don’t ask me. It’s no longer important. But it’s one of the most touching love story I have ever read.

What makes it so touching? Think about it. Is it the romance? The emotional glitz? I don’t think so. It’s all about commitment isn’t it?

Today’s understanding of love and romance is so cheap and shallow it’s no longer funny. Boy meets girl, arms lock in embrace, passionate kissing and hugging, behind a scenic spot as boy ran arms outstretched and girl on the other side doing the same then both embracing each other rolling across the sand with the golden sun slowly setting in the horizon. Cheap. Again I say it’s cheap. Happens only in the movies.

Real love is about commitment. Real love is hanging on in there when the pay envelope stops, when sickness takes over health and when the situation goes from difficult to impossible. Real love is all about integrity.

It takes more than romance to have this.

Romance is cheap, commitment is priceless.

Love keeps on going even when times are tough. Husband and wife have to know this.

So the pink slip comes and you’re laid off from your job. Both of you hang in there. So the doctor’s pronouncement confirms what you dread. Your husband’s confined to the wheelchair for the rest of his life. Both of you hold hands and hang in there.

So the business goes down the drain and the debts pile up. Both of you hold hands and hang in there. That’s what love is all about.

One day husband goes home thoroughly shaken and depressed. His wife knew what happened. Husband said, “I’m sorry sweetheart. They’ve let me go. I don’t have a job anymore. We’re poor and we don’t have money.”

The wife held his hands and said, “But you’re wrong my love. We’re rich! The money will come later!” Now that’s love.

Let me give you another example of what love is. It’s got something to do with three words.

The three words from the mouth of the Saviour are: “It is finished!” That’s God’s love when He gave up His Son for us. Jesus didn’t bail out. He hung in there, in fact He hang on the cross.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

TAKE CARE OF THE LITTLE THINGS


By:  J. Maxwell

     When I teach at a conference or go to a book signing, people sometimes confide in me that they desire to write books too. “How do I get started?” they ask.
    
     “How much writing do you do now?” I ask in return.
    
     Some tell me about articles and other pieces they are writing, and I simply encourage them; but most of the time they sheepishly respond, “Well, I haven’t really written anything yet.”
    
     “Then you need to start writing,” I explain. “You’ve got to start small and work up to it.”
    
     Leadership is the same. You’ve got to start small and work up to it. A person who has never led before needs to try to influence one other person. Someone who has some influence should try to build a team. Just start with what’s necessary.
    
     St. Francis of Assisi said, “Start doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” All good leadership begins where you are. It was Napoleon who said, “The only conquests which are permanent and leave no regrets are our conquests over ourselves.” The small responsibilities you have before you now comprise the first great leadership conquest you must make. Don’t try to conquer the world until you’ve taken care of things in your own backyard.

What one small, specific leadership step can you take today?