Excellence

Our words to share this week come from John William Gardner, 1912-2002, psychologist, U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.

Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Few have excellence thrust upon them — they achieve it. They do not achieve it unwittingly by doing what comes naturally and they don’t stumble into it in the course of amusing themselves. All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. — Dale Carnegie

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Lengthening Shadows

This week’s reflection is from Dr.  W.  A.  Criswell of Chickasha, OK, who addressed the BTU – Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas March 17, 1938

The subject assigned me is Lengthening Shadows. I presume the committee means by that, “The Influence of Life.”

I read some time ago of a railway president who died, and at the hour of his funeral every train on the entire system stopped for a minute, every workman ceased from his labors, every telegraph key was silent, everything connected with that great system had stopped– except the influence of the man in the casket.

A man’s personality never dies. The body may waste away, the light and flame of his life may flicker and die, but the man himself never dies. His personality lives on to the end of time. Plato, and Socrates, and Alfred the Great, and Bismarck, and Washington, and Lincoln, and Wilson have fallen, but these men all live on. The bodies of Marx and Lenin have crumbled, but through their revolutionary philosophies they have more influence today than Hitler and Mussolini, their satellites, and Stalin their disciple. The influence of such men as Nietzsche of Germany and Machiavelli of Italy lives on. When lives are turned to pernicious ends, one can never recall their influence. One might gather up every copy of Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason and burn them, but you could no more destroy the influence of that book than you could bottle the Atlantic Ocean.

If there is a resurrection of the just, there is also a resurrection of the unjust, and some day every man must face the far-reaching influence of his life.

With what joy we turn to the contemplation of the fact the influence of good men never dies! One of the most triumphant passages in the writings of Paul is found in his letter to the church at Rome: For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). Oh, the matchless, incomparable life of Christ!

Today He is royally, regally regnant in all lands. The question is still being asked, “What shall we do with Jesus?” His disciples through the ages have influenced the world. We think of John the Baptist, of John the Evangelist, of Augustine, of Savonarola, of John Huss, of John Calvin, of John Knox, of Charles Spurgeon, of Dwight Moody, of John Broadus, of B. H. Carroll, and a host of others who were bright and shining lights.  The inscription on the tomb of Dwight Moody, “He that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 John 2:17), applies to every man who walks in the steps of Jesus our Savior and Lord.

Then there are those who live in obscurity, who are unknown to the world, but they likewise have exerted their influence. We do not know the name of the Unknown Soldier yonder at Arlington, but he represents a mighty host of men and women who were loyal to their homes and to their country. Over many a grave in the homeland could be placed the inscription similar to that of the Unknown Soldier, “Here lies a father unknown except to God” … “Here lies a mother unknown except to God.” We do not know the name of the worker who left the Pacific Garden Mission and won Billy Sunday to Christ. We do not know the name of the Moravian preacher who led Wesley to his Savior. Nor do we know the name of the simple preacher whose message opened the heart of Charles Haddon Spurgeon to the Lord Jesus. You remember what Dr.  John Hill said a while ago about the Sunday school teacher back yonder, years ago, who taught a class of boys behind the organ in the little old-fashioned church house. And on and on, we might think of others whose obscure lives have influenced the world for the glory of God.

I am thinking of two qualifications of life: Unselfishness and Faith. These traits have made earth fragrant with beautiful lives and have enriched the world with heroic men and women.

There is a vast difference between a sordid selfish life and a great unselfish, magnanimous soul. The life of Cain was characterized by selfishness; of Abel by unselfishness (Hebrews 11:4).  Covetousness said to Lot, Choose the well-watered valleys; unselfishness said to Abraham, Take what is left (Genesis 13:8-12).  Selfishness said to Orpah, Kiss your mother-in-law good-bye (Ruth 1:13-14); unselfishness led Ruth to say: Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee (Ruth 1:16-17). Selfishness said to Judas, You have followed a lost cause; get what you can — thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16); consecration and loyalty said to John, Stand by the cross (John 19:26). Selfishness led Demas to forsake Paul (2 Timothy 4:10); consecration and loyalty led Luke to stand by Paul to the end (2 Timothy 4:11).  Selfishness said to Stanley, “Go back to England”; unselfish devotion to the black men prompted Livingstone to say, “I will die for Africa.”  Selfishness led a girl to break her engagement to her lover who was going blind; consecration and loyalty led George Matheson to sing:

O Love that wilt not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in Thee;

That in Thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.

 

O Light that followest all my way,

I yield my flick’ring torch to Thee;

My heart restores its borrowed ray,

That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day

May brighter, fairer be.

(from O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go, George Matheson, 1882)

 

Through all eternity we shall never cease to be grateful for men and women whose lives were the incarnation of unselfish devotion.

Consider that other quality, Faith.  The roll call of faith reveals such heroes as Abel, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, and a vast army of others Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, waxed mighty in war, turned to flight armies of aliens (Hebrews 11:33-34). From Abel to the present time, men of faith have lifted the world out of despair.  They have expected great things from God and have attempted great things for God.

One of the men who influenced my own life was Dr. Samuel Palmer Brooks, who during the four years I was in Baylor University touched my life in its most impressionable and mobile years.  Again and again I heard him in the chapel as he summoned the students to faith and consecration and courage.

One day the news came Prexy could not live: our graduating class was bowed in sorrow.  When the appeal came from the members of that class, he signed their diplomas with the last ounce of his strength.  We wanted a message from the president. Now that he faced death would his faith sustain him to the end?  We thought he had left no word for us.

On the day of our graduation, shortly after his burial, we marched into the chapel, stood in line, received our diplomas, then we were seated for the message. The dean arose. He said, “I have in my hand the president’s last message to the class of 1931.” Yes, Prexy had left us a message. What did he say? Well, as we had expected, his faith sustained him to the last.

I quote from that message:

“This is my message to the senior class of 1931. I address also the seniors of all years, those seniors of the past and those seniors yet to be. This I do because I love them all equally, even as I love all mankind regardless of station, creed, race, or religion.  I stand on the border of mortal life but I face eternal life. I look backward to the years of the past to see all pettiness, all triviality shrink into nothing and disappear. Adverse criticism has no meaning now. Only the worthwhile things, the constructive things, the things that have built for the good of mankind and the glory of God count now. There is beauty, there is joy, and there is laughter in life — as there ought to be. But remember, all of you, not to regard lightly nor to ridicule the sacred things: those worthwhile things. Hold them dear, cherish them, for they alone will sustain you in the end; and remember, too, that only through work and ofttimes through hardships may they be attained. But the compensation of blessing and sweetness at the last will glorify every hour of work and every heartache from hardship … As my teachers have lived through me, so I must live through you. You who are graduating today will go out into the world to discover that already you have touched much of what the future holds. You have learned the lessons which must fit you for the difficulties and the joys of the years to come. Then hold these college years close in your hearts and value them at their true worth.

“Do not face the future with timidity nor with fear. Face it boldly, courageously, joyously. Have faith in what it holds. Sorrows as well as happiness must come with time. But know that only after sorrow’s hand has bowed your head will life become truly real to you, for only then will you acquire the noble spirituality which intensifies the reality of life. My own faith as I approach eternity grows stronger day by day. The faith I have had in life is projected into this vast future toward which I travel now. I know that I go to an all-powerful God. I know that He is a personality who created man in His image. Beyond that I have no knowledge, no fear –only faith.

“So I go on not knowing,

“I would not if I might,

“I would rather walk with Christ in the dark

“Than to walk alone in the light;

“I would rather walk with Him by faith

“Than to walk by myself with sight.”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. — Robert Louis Stevenson

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Prayer Time

As we build this community prayer platform, we ask the Lord to listen to our petitions with full confidence they not only are heard but acted upon by God according to His holy will. I know the requests are on my prayer list and I hope you consider putting them on yours as you place your petitions before the Lord Sunday.

We actually have thank yous to kick off our prayer time.

Bonnie and Dave’s great-grandson has gained 3.5 ounces since coming home a week ago.  He has also been released from the dermatologist with a clean slate.  He still has a long ways to go, but this is such wonderful news. She adds, “Please keep up all your prayers, that is what pulled him through this time and that is what will continue to help him.”

Jay is making a slow recovery from double pneumonia … but making progress.

Gavin is doing better, although the last report was he was feeling a little under the weather and drained and his hemoglobin was low so he received a blood transfusion. He is continuing with OT and PT. “We still have some steps forward to take and hoping by the beginning of next week we can go home.” A transplant team is expected to evaluate him.

The nodules on Joe’s lungs appeared to be growing, so they again changed his chemotherapy regimen to gemcitabine and abraxane. He seems to be responding, is still fighting hard and staying positive for everyone, including himself.

Jerry and Cheryl need prayer. Jerry had surgery, but it did not go as planned.

Rosie is hospitalized and having problems with her heart.

Jim and Joe are battling financial demons and attacks.

Brooke  was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and underwent  a double mastectomy.

Nicolle is still battling the pain from tonsillitis and Andrew continues to have more pain and challenges.

We come to You, Lord, because prayer is the least yet the greatest thing we can do for each other. When two or more are gathered in Your name, we confidently know You are with us. What better company can we have? You reign and we trust You! We may be broken and battered but know You heal and quiet the soul. You are the source for all that happens in our lives. We thank You for the progress being made. We thank You for the many blessings we have received this week — some we unfortunately didn’t notice. Nonetheless, those blessings are ever-present in our lives. We thank You for healing. We thank You for slowing us down. We thank You for providing us our daily needs — no more and no less. We thank You for being with us, listening to us, walking with us on this journey. We thank You for the support of our family and friends … for seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary — sunrises, sunsets, flowers, kids laughing, adventures, good news amid the bad news. We also know we can come to You with our concerns and they will be heard. We lift up those family members and friends who are battling various physical, emotional, financial, career or spiritual issues and ask not for Your guidance and healing (although that would be welcomed) but to keep reminding us we are not alone in our battles. Specifically we lift up Gavin, Joe, Jerry, Rosie, Jim, Joe, Brooke, Nicolle and Andrew. We pray for obedience to Your Will so Your “Son” Light shines through us through the power of the Spirit. And we come to You through the confidence of the words taught by Your Son Jesus. Amen.

Keep your joys and concerns coming. They have been and will be included during my prayer time and I trust they will be on your lips as well as you approach the altar. All it takes is a couple of keystrokes under the “Contact Me” button on the top bar {or to the right if you’re not a follower yet}. I hope it becomes your best friend as you navigate around the site so we can all be viable prayer warriors. You can also comment or reach me at wisdomfromafather@gmail.com.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: We may fail, but we are not failures.

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Five Minute Friday — Place

It’s time for my weekly Five Minute Friday contribution.

It’s somewhat appropriate. The prompt this week is PLACE. We actually wrote on the topic about a year and half ago, but I resisted the urge to peek at what I previously wrote. {I did have an entirely different take on the prompt, by the way.}

Our facilitator,Kate Motaung turned the prompt over to the FMF crew to expand and embellish. And, of course, we meet and greet at her place (in the Community section at www.fiveminutefriday.com) to share and network. It’s fun, fun, fun and keeps our neurons sharp.

Ready to join in yet?

Okay, here’s another take from Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat. Don’t listen to me. Listen to Susan.

“I joined the Five Minute Friday Community in 2014. I was in a pit of despair following my mom’s death and a personal disappointment. FMF was a healing balm for my soul — the relationships formed and being with so many like-minded writers brought me great peace and joy.”

There you go. Now to this week’s task. The timer is set. Let’s GO…

Last night before going to sleep, I checked my online bank balance. It was a couple of hundred dollars lighter than I expected, so I dug a little deeper. Sure enough, two automatic payments just happened to hit — at a most inopportune time.

Normally, that might kick me into a panic mode — or at the very least, a what am I {emphsis on I} going to do? What steps do I {emphasis on I} have to take? And of course, it was bedtime, not the crack of dawn so there was nothing — absolutely nothing — I could do.

Instead, as I lay my head on the pillow for my final discussion with the Lord, amid the joys and blessings, this dollar displacement was on my list. But, perhaps because of the prompt, my last words for the night were, “I place this and all things in Your hands, Lord.”

You know what happend?

I slept like a baby — straight through the night. I rarely do that. I was peaceful … I’m convincd because I placed my problems at the … STOP

of the cross.

It’s amazing what peace you can have when you do that. My oft said words — worry steals your peace — finally, finally resonated with me.

Yes, my bank account is a little lighter. Yes, I’ll have to replenish it. But I don’t have to do it alone … because I placed my trust in the Lord — as it should be.

What about you? Where does you place your trust?

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.

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Ready for Spring

First, a statement. I AM a winter person. I love the white. I love the cold. It doesn’t bother me when the first flakes fall in October and stick around beginning in November. I love the landscape of snow mountains. I don’t mind the slush. There is nothing better than sitting comfy at home just watching the flakes fall. I look forward to white Christmases and cold New Years. Nothing beats a fire in the fireplace … even the faux fireplace.

Sure, there are some down sides. There is always the risk of falling — in fact, better than a quarter of our residents here have found themselves snowbound just this winter, including me. However, based on my 70 plus year experience, I’ve learned how to fall — propelling myself toward snow banks. And I don’t even need snow! And I don’t like ice.

With that all being said, I also appreciate the three other seasons — spring, summer and fall. And right now, I’m ready for spring.

It’s been a long winter. I’m ready to see some of the tell-tale signs spring is springing. — like buds on trees, flowers {even weeds} starting to sprout, longer days, birds singing, animals coming out of hibernation. It’s a re-birth each year.

Now, we’re still a little way off for these signs. For the most part we can’t see the trees behind the snow wall. flowers need about six, eight, 10 inches of white stuff to push through. The sun does seem a little brighter and shines a little longer. I’ve seen the pigeons periodically through the winter, but saw crows the other day. I expect smaller birds to follow soon. I haven’t seen any small animals yet, but a neighbor said she saw a skunk and there have been some paw prints in the snow outside my window. If feels good walking the dog in 40-degree weather rather than zero weather. It’s comforting just putting on a coat rather than a coat, sweatshirt, hat and mittens.

So I’m ready … at least right now. I might change my mind next month when the allergies kick in.

And I’m looking forward to summer when Angelina and I can do some exploring and traveling. I’m not sure where we’ll go since we {or at least I} have already visited every county in Maine. I’m thinking New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island might be in the plan. And, of course, I still have five children in five states who keep begging for a visit.

That brings us to fall. I’ve been so blessed to live in areas where fall foliage dominates the bridge from summer to winter. Football. Sweatshirts. Bonfires. These are some of my favorite things.

And as the days start to dim, we cycle back to winter. Ain’t life good!

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Great minds have purposes; others only have wishes. — Washington Irving

 

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Midweek Mirth

One of the misconceptions about being a Christian is non-Christians think we don’t know how to have fun or have a sense of humor. Trust me, if the Big Guy can have a sense of humor when it comes to dealing with us mere mortals, so can we.

The difference for Christians is we don’t have to debase ourselves or others to generate a smile. Laughter at life or ourselves is a gift from God.

So, let’s smile a little!

The Great Writer

There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed a desire to become a “great” writer. When asked to define “great,” he said, “I want to write stuff the whole world will read, stuff people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, wail, howl in pain, desperation and anger!”

He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.

And now for the bonus …

Funny Story

He: “I heard a new story today. I wonder if I’ve told it to you?”

She: “Is it funny?”

He: “Yes.”

She: “Then you haven’t.”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Maturity comes when you stop making excuses and start making adjustments.

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Assessment Time

I was notified yesterday I was on a 72 day post streak. That’s every day this year plus a few stragglers from the end of the year.

Most of the posts have been part of a scheduled plan attempting to make this spot more accessible and interactive. So, it would be an appropriate time to gauge whether the changes are resonating with the most important people in the world — you, my readers and followers.

From a pure marketing standpoint {boy, how hard was that for me to write}, I would rate the daily exposure successful. I have seen both visitors and views sharply increase. We’re about 20% into the new year but about 35% of last year’s numbers and on par with 2017 when there were 10,351 views and 3,615 unique visitors. And I’ve added 65 followers since the new year. Those numbers are amplified because the blog is also being promoted automatically on both my personal and author Facebook pages and on Twitter.

But statistics are statistics, just numbers. They paint a picture but don’t answer the question about value. How much value do readers get out of these words? Do the words resonate with them? And, most important, are the posts compatible with my mission of  sharing the Light of Christ with others … fellow believers and non-believers as well.

The format loosely follows a pattern. Sundays feature a Sunday staple — words from His Word. Most of a time, it is a devotional that caught my attention, although sometimes, I will include my words from the pulpit.

As many of you know, I send out a weekly Words for the Week to family and friends. It started as a way to spend time praying for my family, friends and faith partners and share with them some nugget of encouragement for the week. Sometimes it’s a sentence. Sometimes a paragraph. Sometimes a story. I’ve discovered each one had a special meaning to some one at some time. The message just resonated with them at just the time they needed it most. I never know who until after the fact.

Mondays, I have been expanding the “ministry” here and on Facebook and Twitter to share the words and experiences. Word of mouth is very powerful.

Tuesday centers on all thing related to reading, writing and {just to keep the rhyme} arithmetic. Readin’ included reviews {I’ll be incorporating movies as well}.  ‘Ritin’ will include anything related to writing, like my books Heaven Shining Through and Wisdom From a Father for example. Writing by others will also be included here. ‘Rithmetic won’t be mathematical formulas {I don’t think}, but rather statistical analysis.

One of the misconceptions about being a Christian is we don’t know how to have fun or have a sense of humor. Trust me, if the Big Guy can have a sense of humor when it comes to dealing with us mere mortals, so can we. The difference for Christians is we don’t have to debase ourselves or others to generate a smile. Laughter at life or ourselves is a gift from God. And so, as part of the blog revamp, I’ve been including a category called “Midweek Mirth”. Posts in this category include cartoons, jokes and — well — just some good, clean levity. The purpose is to make you smile at the sometimes absurd way we look at life.

Life & Love — the Thursday anchor — has been and will continue to be personal, usual first person posts reflecting life and the things and people I love. That will not change.

Friday, obviously, is the anchor for Five Minute Friday. Who knows? Thus far it has been  the spark for me to actually write on Friday!

Almost half of my 2018 posts were off Five Minute Friday posts. I looove the exercise. The one word prompt stimulates my mind … and sometimes takes me down interesting writing paths. I love the camaraderie of the community. I love reading others’ takes on the same word. I love the insights from generally a younger female perspective.

Which brings us to Saturday’s Prayer-Care-Share. It’s been a slow transition, but the intent is first and foremost to bring your words of praise and joy and prayer requests and concerns to the foot of the cross. After the public prayer that follows, I invite you to include them in yours as well as you lay down petitions on the Sunday altar.

For this segment to “work”, it needs your input. On the top bar {and I believe to the right if you’re not a follower yet} there is a “Contact Me” button. I hope it becomes your best friend as you navigate around the site.

I don’t want this venue to be one-sided. My vision is to use the platform as a clearinghouse for sharing, caring and, most important, prayer.

That’s where I’m at two and a half months into the new sequence and format. But I am looking for your input. Too much? Too little? Thoughts would be welcomed!

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: We may fail, but we are not failures.

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