Do You Need Some Help?

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Most people want to improve. We are unhappy with some aspect of our life or personality.  We suffer from a host of ills that just need improvement. How can we be a better speaker? How can we be a better father or mother?  How can we become a better writer?  How can we become rich? The list is endless.

According to Kyle Francis, Director of Marketing and Data Analytics at My Peak Plan, Americans spend $10 billion on motivational products every year.  Francis says this:

The problem is that 50% of all traditional motivational books are never read past the first chapter and 90% of motivational books are never finished.  This means that people really want to improve but don’t know where to start or how to finish reaching their goals.

Francis is right. We all want to improve our lives but just don’t know how to do it.  We get stuck looking at how to improve from within.  We are looking for some great strength  inside of us, fooling ourselves to believe that we can really change by ourselves.

But what if there were a way to really change within each of us that involved something bigger than just you and me. Suppose we looked to God for that change.  Rather than looking to a self-help book written by others who probably read self-help books themselves, let’s look to the creator of the universe for help.

The writer of Ephesians (4:22-24) says this:

…throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

A new nature, renewed thoughts and attitudes, created to be like God, throw off your former way of life…there is a powerful message here.  Think about the possibilities for your life.  Don’t look internally for a life change.  You can’t do it by yourself.  Let God be your driving force. Then you will experience a real change from deep within.

 

They Loved Deeply

Our recent November 6thelection had people pointing fingers in every direction.  One candidate telling us why we should not vote for their opponent and the opponent telling us why we should not vote for the other candidate.  The news and social media were mostly about the negatives.  There was very little positive.

If we are always tuned to the latest news stories and social media, this electronic rudeness seems to be the foundation of much of what transpires in our culture.  However, don’t be fooled.  There is still real goodness in the world.  Today’s story authored by Rose Minutaglio, is about two people who found remarkable love.  Here they are below…Isabell and Preble Staver.

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Isabell and Preble met in the 1940’s and were married in 1946.  They were married for 71 years.  Even after all this time together they would still take naps together just holding hands.  It was clear they deeply loved each other and had loved each other through all their years together.

One morning Isabell died. She was 95.  Preble’s daughter told him that his wife had just passed away and that “It’s OK for you to let go now”.  Meaning, of course, that it is OK for Preble to pass away.  His job on earth was complete.  At about 8 PM on that same evening Preble passed away. Together for 71 years both husband and wife passed away on the same day.  They existed for each other.  Preble spent his life making certain his wife was OK and Isabell did all she could to take care of Preble through the years.

When you hear this story don’t you just wonder about your priorities?  Don’t you wonder why as a culture we spend so much time on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram instead of taking time to talk with our spouse or children about something important to them? Do you wonder if the best use of our limited time on earth is to engage in rude interactions about politics?  We spend our time talking about things with so little lasting value.

Preble and Isabell got it right.  They knew that life was about kindness, generosity, selflessness, and love.  They spent a lifetime refining these traits and caring for each other and their family.

We can all learn many lessons from the Stavers.  Let’s spend less time watching funny videos on Facebook, less time staging the perfect shot on Instagram, and less time arguing with people on Twitter.  Instead let’s focus on things that enrich our lives, the lives of those in our families, and the lives of those who cross our path.

 

 

Please, It’s Time To Stop Crying

I spent the last few days watching the country react to the presidential vote. I read of a Yale professor who made an exam optional because the professor was “getting many heartfelt notes from students who are in shock over the election returns.”

Yesterday students from American University burned a flag as part of their protest. I suppose they really didn’t think about the name of their University and the respect it deserves as they began the name-calling and standard protest jargon. What a great way to protest the election of a United States President…burn a flag. That accomplishes a lot for their cause.

Protestors took to the streets in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington D.C. and other major cities across the country. I don’t even know what that means. What are they protesting? What’s the argument? That they didn’t get their way? The country voted. So you don’t like the results? That’s life.

I read articles from folks fearing for their safety as a result of the election. Really? Do you believe that because the country has new leadership you are now suddenly going to be physically assaulted? We could sure talk about some countries where physical safety is a real issue but let’s not pretend that election results bring shadows lurking in the dark ready to pounce on you.

Come on now. We need to toughen up and teach our college students how to make a real difference in this world. Let’s grow a spine and move on with life. How will college students function in the world if election results put them in shock? If this is the training students are getting for tuition dollars in colleges across America we are in trouble.

America is supposed to be a leader among nations. Yet here we are protesting, crying, writing letters to our children explaining how this election went wrong, calling each other names, watching news sources write articles about living in Trump’s America. We really need to get a grip. America doesn’t belong to any President. It doesn’t belong to Donald Trump any more than it belonged to Washington, Lincoln or any of our other previous Presidents. This is our America and it’s time we start acting like it.

At Toccoa Falls College we teach students that life is about developing character. We teach students that sometimes we just don’t get our way. We learn to move on to issues where we can make a positive difference in this world.

At Toccoa Falls College we don’t burn flags. We respect our government officials, we don’t go into shock when things don’t go our way, and our students solve problems…they don’t create them.

I Never Thought of That

Several years ago John Maxwell wrote a great book titled, Thinking for a Change. I know that this implies many of us don’t think very often but I wonder if Maxwell is right?

When I first read his book several years ago it made me stop and really question the last time that I took deliberate time to think. How about you? When is the last time that you scheduled time in your calendar just to think. We all get so busy with the routine tasks that we seldom think about strategy…about the future. Instead of thinking about where we are headed with our lives we find ourselves tied up in meetings, handling the daily emergencies, and putting out the daily fires in our lives and businesses.

So…how do you change your thinking process? First, schedule time just to think. Some folks believe that unless they are physically doing something they aren’t working. May I say to you if you aren’t taking time to consistently think you probably aren’t doing the right things anyway. Block off time every week where all you do is think. If you don’t schedule this thinking time I guarantee you won’t do it.

Second, Maxwell recommended something I have done and it really helps me. I have a special thinking place. It’s a chair that I use just to think. I try not to use it for anything else…just thinking. If I neglect my thinking time the chair just seems to call out to me asking me where I have been. This works for me but do whatever works best for you. Go for a walk. Find a place where you will not be interrupted and then just let your mind think about your personal goals, business goals, personal improvement ideas, solutions to problems you are facing, business strategies for the future, you name it.

Remember what William Arthur Ward said about thinking. Here it is:

Nothing limits achievement like small thinking; Nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking.

So…change the way you think and expand your possibilities.

A Story of Love In Action

When you think about love what do you think about? Hearts, flowers, holding hands? Well today I’m not talking about romantic love, I’m talking about loving your neighbors. I’m talking about what scripture means when it says in Mark chapter 12, verses 30 and 31. Here is what those verses say:

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

Let’s talk a bit about loving your neighbors. This year at TFC we have a student who struggles with mobility. She uses a walker and it is really a chore to get around a campus as large as ours. One of our staff members put out a request through social media to locate an electric wheelchair for this student. Let me tell you what happened.

Our Stephens County Sheriff, Randy Shirley, saw the request and made some contacts on his own. He located a beautiful red electric wheelchair that had barely been used. He contacted the owner, made the donation arrangements, and picked up the chair. The Sheriff’s Office cleaned the chair, charged the batteries, and delivered it to the student here at TFC. I only wish you could have seen the student’s face when she took her first ride in that chair. Her life was just changed.

All of us at TFC want to thank our Sheriff and his staff for demonstrating to all our students what loving your neighbor looks like in action. In a world that now records law enforcement conducting their daily business and looks to criticize their every move, it’s too bad someone didn’t record this special delivery to our student in need. I do know this…our student recorded it. She recorded this in her memory and she will never ever forget the love and kindness shown by our Sheriff’s Office.

They Really Said That?

The world is full of gossip…it’s everywhere. It’s not just at work anymore. With the use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, gossip has spread like wildfire.

Eventually, someone is going to talk about you in a way that hurts and they most likely will not do it to your face. It may be something they say to a friend who just needs to make sure they tell you. It may be something they say on social media. Face it…it’s going to happen to you. Your first instinct might be to get revenge but we know that is not a Biblical response.

So how do you handle the drama and gossip in a Biblical way?

First, when someone wants to gossip to you about someone else tell them you’re not interested. I can tell you this…people who gossip about others to you will gossip about you to others.

What does scripture say about gossip? It says a lot! Here are three verses that address the issue of gossip:

Proverbs 20:19 says:

A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.

Ephesians 4:29 says:

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

How do you handle it when someone is talking about you? Let’s look at Matthew 18.

If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.

Sometimes people tell me this scripture doesn’t apply because no sin was committed. However, it’s usually the gossipers who say this. I think it’s very clear from the verses I just spoke about that gossip is sin.

So, dealing with drama and gossip is pretty straightforward in scripture. Proverbs makes it simple…don’t hang around with gossips. Second, if someone does gossip about you, go to them and follow the Matthew 18 principle. You might be surprised how much can be accomplished by talking with someone face to face.

It’s pretty evident that God dislikes gossip. Run from it, don’t be a part of it. Instead, as we read in Ephesians, Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Hey…I’m Off to College!

College freshmen…this one is for you. It’s almost time to be dropped off to start your first year of college. I have been watching parents and new freshman go through this ritual for almost twenty-five years.

The scenario looks like this. A car that is completely stuffed comes through the entrance to the college. In the car are mom, dad, and as many brothers and sisters as can possibly fit. Mom and dad look apprehensive. You look a bit nervous but are trying to portray that cool college look. You know the one I mean.

You arrive at the residence hall and begin unpacking. Mom wants to see the dorm room. Dad is making sure everything gets unpacked properly. The brothers and sisters simply follow along. You are looking around to see who is watching and to also make sure you continue to maintain that cool factor through this entire process.

Soon mom wants to get the dorm room organized…new sheets on the bed, towels hung up, and pictures on the wall. Dad is pretty quiet just walking around looking at everything. A part of you feels a little bit embarrassed that your new dorm friends will think your family is a bit weird. You might even want your parents to stop helping so much.

May I give you some advice? Of all days just let your parents dote on you today. Let them get your room set up, let them go to the store for you, let them talk with everyone in your dorm. Your parents need this. Today is hard on them. They are saying good-bye to you. They have spent the last 18 years taking care of you and when they drive away from your dorm today their lives, like yours, have changed forever.

Make it special for them. Let them take a million pictures. Let them pose you for the pictures, let them hug you; let your dad give you his last bit of advice. Let them love you. Let them pray for you. It’s a tough day for them too.

As you think about the excitement of the future your parents will be remembering the day you were born, when you were six and broke your arm, when they taught you to drive, your first date…it will all come rushing in on them.

So today, hug them when you don’t have to. Tell them you love them. Thank them for shaping your life. Thank them for the years of investing in you. Thank them for sending you to college.

…and right before they leave tell them you love them…again.