Tab List

Friday, November 2, 2018

Make Your Life Better

If I could guarantee to make your life better, would you let me?  Well, not me exactly, but would you follow some advice and give it a shot for 30 days?  

During a recent commute to work, I was listening to a sermon given by Rev. Paul Rasmussen, Senior Pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church.  I highly recommend you watch or listen to the message.  

There was one phrase that made me immediately hit the pause button.  It was one of those “I have got to hear that again.”  “Did I hear that right?” moments.  I’ve backed it up and listened to it at least a dozen times since then.  Someone had finally explained something I have never been able to find the words for.

The statement was this:

“It [reading the Bible] will make your life better; it will make you better at your life.”

I am not sure if this is his original thought or the concept of someone who influenced him, but it does not matter.  Whoever said this for the first time is not at all worried about who gets the credit.  Not seeking credit is a sign of true humility, but true humility deserves space to unpack in another chapter on another day.

Let me be clear about one thing.  I do not read scripture day and night.  I do not read scripture daily when life gets in the way or I’m not being intentional about doing so.

What I do know and my proof that this profound statement is true comes from my confession.  When I am not in God’s Word my life gets messy.  Most will never notice it, but I do not like who I am when my day doesn’t start with bible study.  Without it my life resembles the words of the Apostle Paul from Romans 7:15. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do what I hate.”  [NLT]

I think the meat of the statement lies in the “make you better at life” part.  What that means to me is that we would be much more prepared to deal with life’s adversities having consistently spent time in God’s Word.  We can panic or we can turn to God for help.  No, God’s not going to pay the rent.  God is going to provide understanding, hope, friends, and peace.  And with those, the solution for hardship is more easily found

The truth is that the better we are at dealing with the rough patches of our lives, the better our life will be.  I contend the only way to get there is to get intimate with God and His Word.  

30 days isn’t going to do it or create the depth that we all wish we had, but you will feel different.  Each year my life gets better.  I attribute this to God making me better at doing life and that makes life more fun.


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Bad Compliments

You may not know this, but we are all pretty clueless.  The only way to avoid this is to be nonverbal.  Never speak and you’ll be fine.

Pay attention as others speak to strangers and you’ll quickly understand what I’m suggesting.  The conversations spiral downward with the passage of time as they fill space to “be polite”.  At some point a disjointed phrase will be uttered.  If we would only quit while we’re ahead or better yet, never get started at all.

I was at the return counter at Lowe’s a few weeks ago when the cashier called a manager for help with a customer.  No issues or friction between the two ladies just a simple override or something.  Within minutes an older gal in an electric wheelchair motored over.  She unhooked a banana colored plastic chain and wheeled through.  Then came a quick 180 degree spin and a hook of the chain back at home.  Some managerial master keystrokes were entered which allowed the return to move along.

Once things were back in shape, the manager reversed her previous course.  Spinning, almost dancing, with the chain and latch.  It was a thing of pure beauty.

The customer, observing the amazing pirouette, said “I’m impressed.  I don’t think even I could do that.”

“I’ve been doing this awhile” came a sarcastic reply from the manager.

Right then it hit me.  I did all I can to choke back a laugh.  Wait.  Was that a compliment?  Of course you couldn’t do that.  Really?  Was she saying she couldn’t do that right now or after a lifetime in a wheelchair?  Without the circumstances added to the statement it sounded like she didn’t think she could do that right now.  I wanted to say, “Come on, give it a whirl.  How do you know if you don’t try?”

To be fair, she didn’t mean any harm by it and remains clueless to this day of what she said.  She meant it as a compliment.  Nice try.  Sort of like “You look nice today” or “Have you lost some weight?”  Meant to be kind, but could be mistaken as “You look a heck of a lot better than you normally do”  and “You’re fat, but I want to encourage you to keep trying.”

Maybe just a simple Thank You would have been a little better received?

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

National What Day?

Scanning through the paper over the weekend, I saw an article drawing attention to a very special day.  National Handwriting Day on January 23rd.  Seriously, such a thing exists. The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association established the holiday in 1977.  It is true; stationers and corporate America thought a promotion of pens, pencils and paper would line their pockets with cash.

But who am I to judge?  I celebrated by penning an entry into the posterchild of the manual craft of writing.  A Moleskin narrow lined black journal.  It was about as boring as the one the day before and all the entries last week.  No matter.  Something about writing comforts me.  It might be the slower pace that I find medicinal.  It allows my thoughts to ruminate in my head as I manipulate the pen to make the proper strokes.

Late in the day my excitement waned.  Overshadowing this most important of Days, another “National” day was getting all the attention.  January 23rd is also National Pie Day.  Just a child, established in 1986, the Day of pies clearly takes advantage of modern weakness to sweets.  There might have been a day long ago that people ranked writing as equally important to human existence as pies, but no longer.  The youth want pie.

I just hope the irony wasn’t lost when you kids ordered your piece of pie and your waitress at the local diner wrote it down on a pad with a pen.  Yeah, who’s laughing now.  National Handwriting Day gets the last laugh afterall.


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Do You Know How Blessed You Are?

“So, tell me everything” he suggests.
“Everything about what?”
“About your job, what you do here, and about you.”

This makes me uncomfortable.  It is so much easier to let others talk about their everything.  Part of me doesn’t want to bore the guy and part of me fears I may disclose too much.

The request came from a guy who runs a Christian based organization that recruits executives to take part in peer groups.  I don’t know much about it other than they want to get business leaders approaching business with a Kingdom mindset.  Sort of a Do business as God would do business.  The world could sure use more of that.

At the end of a rambling version of my everything, he was silent for a moment and then said “Do you know how blessed you are?”

Wow.  “Yes, I am very blessed.”  A generic and wholly inadequate response to such a question.  Do I know HOW blessed?

The question has been rolling around in my head for 48 hours.  I can’t seem to answer the question with any level of satisfaction.  Just when I think I’ve tallied the blessings and thanked God, something else will occur to me.  No, do you know how blessed you are?  Is it even possible to know such a thing?

The timing of all this is perfect.  I am preparing to head on vacation to the mountains with one of my top ranked blessings.  My family.  There is no better time to noodle on something than when standing in a trout stream surrounded by beauty.  That in itself is a blessing.

Maybe standing in the Conejos I’ll find the answer that has eluded me.  Or maybe it will continue to be like vapor within my grasp.  I can reach it, but can’t quite grab hold.  Either way, the question itself is a blessing.  Happy pondering.


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Then...God - Part 1

I’ve never been more unprepared to die than last Tuesday.

The moment I rolled into the crosswalk, I turned to see a white Lexus hurling toward me.  What happened next is a bit fuzzy.  All I remember is pressing down hard on the pedal clipped to my shoe.  Silence.  So this is how it’s going to happen?  An instant after what should have been impact I turned my head to see the car whiz by.  

I just glared at its back end.  No taillights.  Black windows so no chance to see a facial expression.  The driver never slowed down.  Did they even see me?  No.

How did it miss me?

The drivers in the other three lanes of traffic looked at me in wide-eyed shock.  They almost saw a horrific event.  Was this even real?

I must have been in shock because I clipped in my other foot and wheeled on across.  After looking back to be sure this even happened, I glanced up at the traffic light to my left.  Yes, it was red.  Yes, the WALK signal was still lit up.  A driver gazed at me and mouthed something to the effect “Are you okay?”

After a timid nod of confirmation, I resumed my evening bike ride.  For the next hour I rehashed the moment countless times.  Was it my fault?  God must have pushed me?  Maybe it wasn’t that close.  What if….?  No!  Yes, but what if….?  What about…?  Who’s going to…?  NO!

The Lexus ran the red light.  No doubt.  What were they thinking or doing?  It was careless of me not to make sure the driver of the car was stopping like the others.  I either never saw it or it was far enough away that there was no visible threat.  I can’t remember which.  And therein lies my contribution to this near-death moment.

At first I was angry with the driver.  That anger increased when I stewed about making no attempt to stop or even slow down to check on me.  Surely someone chased him down and gave them a talking to.  What a jackass!

Then…God.  I thanked God for pushing me out of the way.  There can be no other explanation.  Wow, God, why do you keep saving me?  He didn’t answer me on that.  I think that’s just his way of saying “That’s what I do.”  And so it is.

When I said I was unprepared to die, it is based on being so self-absorbed at that particular moment.  Didn’t folks realize I am extremely busy doing stuff.  Things were in motion at work that only I could handle.  How had I prepared my family for this sudden end?  I have much left to do.  The chaos that occurred with each WHAT IF scenario I conjured up in my head was crippling.

Then…God.  He wanted my mind elsewhere.  God asked me about the driver.  How do these WHAT IF’s impact him?

Anger with the driver is easy.  Had something tragic happened, that is where the blame would land and land hard.  I can hear the speculation about texting, drinking or old age being a factor.  But answer me this:  If you were that driver, how could you live as the dealer of that ending?  When it replays in the mind a decade later all you can see is tragedy and death.  

Of course the driver was completely in the wrong.  But the penance for that mistake would certainly outweigh the crime.  We all make mistakes.  I guess it just depends on how close you are to the wrong end of the mistake to deem eternal torment as just punishment.

So by the time I got home, I was thanking God for saving us both.  Saving both our families from living through something so senseless.  Something that doesn’t fade away with a good night’s sleep.

****

I’d like to say that I left all this in the past and no longer play the WHAT IF game.  With each ride comes total recall.  Vivid and real.  I try desperately to see the driver.  Do I know you?  Why can’t you see me?  I’m right here.  The white giant is once again on top of me.  Then…God.  A flash and my mind is elsewhere.  The memory leaves as quickly as it arrived.  

The other day I was running and saw a white Lexus approaching.  I peered inside and this time saw a lady starring back at me.  That’s her!  Then…God.  He tells me this innocent woman is not the driver.  But that’s not all.  He explains that I can see her because her windows aren’t tinted.  He tells me to forget about the other driver.  That it is not important.  Let it go.

And so I do.  

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace