May I Borrow Your Slingshot?

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Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a fascinating book titled, David and Goliath.  A portion of his book details the rivalry between the Philistines and the Israelites. These two groups were enemies who at this particular point in time had taken up battle positions directly across from each other.

Gladwell noted that typical battle strategy at this time in history was for one army to send out one person who would battle someone from the other army.  Whichever person won would win the battle for their army.  In this particular encounter the representative for the Philistines was a man named Goliath.

Through the research done by Gladwell, he determined the following about Goliath:

  • He stood at least 6’9”.
  • He wore a metal helmet, metal leg armor, and full body armor weighing about 125 pounds.
  • He carried a javelin for throwing, a sword, and a spear for thrusting. The spearhead alone weighed 15 pounds.

Goliath would come out each day and torment the Israelites challenging someone to come fight him. David, who was bringing food to his brothers, showed up and became incensed that Goliath was treating the Israelites like this.  David decided to take on the challenge and fight Goliath.

Remember, David was not a military man.  He was a shepherd.   When the king of Israel, Saul, heard David wanted to fight Goliath he gave him armor to wear and a sword to use.  However, David ultimately refused the armor and the sword. He decided to fight this battle in his own way.

Here is the lesson.  Many times, we feel that God needs to answer our prayers in the way we want things done.  We expect God to give us armor and a sword.  In reality, the way God does things isn’t the way we do things.  Here is what Isaiah 55 says:

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you can imagine.

David realized that he could not fight a battle the way everyone told him to fight.  He realized he needed to simply rely on God to use the skills God had given David.  David needed to fight on his terms…which meant giving the fight to God.

So, with a slingshot and stones David defeated a giant armed and protected with the best that was available to soldiers at that time.  David had used a slingshot before.  He was a shepherd.   David knew how to protect his sheep probably with that very slingshot.  David let God use the skills he already possessed to accomplish the job.

Next time you are facing a challenge let God use what He has already given to you.  Don’t search for the latest armor and sword to solve your problem.  Allow God to work through your slingshot.

Tell Someone Thanks

ben-white-128604-unsplashPhoto by Ben White on Unsplash

I like to run.  I always have.  Where I live now I have two courses I usually run.  One is at Toccoa Falls College which is a beautiful spot to just enjoy a run.  The second spot is a local cemetery.  I know that sounds strange but there is something just peaceful about running there.

Over the course of many miles, I have had the chance to read many of the tombstones.  One family plot really got my attention.  This plot is a small section containing four headstones.  Mom and dad are there.  Dad lived to be 62.  Mom lived to be 78.  One interesting thing is the two small headstones next to mom and dad.  Two children are buried here.  The first is a son who lived for one day. Dad was 24 when his son died.  Mom was 22. The second is a daughter who also lived for only one day.  Dad was 23 when he lost his daughter.  Mom was 21. There is no indication the family had any other children.  I just stood next to the graves wondering about what this family had endured.

It is hard for me to imagine losing a child.  Losing two children when you are in your twenties?  That’s hard to take.  Then going the rest of your life with no children had to lead to some deep feelings for both mom and dad and some interesting private conversations.

So, as we approach Thanksgiving why even talk about this?  Here is why.  Many of us have family members who are still living.  Yet, we get caught up in non-stop work, texts, email, and other things that rob us from spending time with our family.  We get so busy with the daily grind in our lives that we forget to tell our family how important they are to us and that we really do love them.

We forget to ask our kids what is happening in their lives and what is important to them.  We forget to listen.  We get into a routine that keeps us from spending time with our spouse doing something that is important to them.  We don’t intend to let time get away from us but it just seems to happen. I would bet that the family who lost their two children would talk privately about how they would give anything to have their kids with them throughout their lives.

Many of us do have our kids and our spouse with us every day.  They are gifts.  Be thankful for them and let them know it this Thanksgiving.

For those who are not married or do not have children…you have others who care about you.  Mom and/or dad, brothers, sisters, friends, etc. There is someone in your life who really cares about you.  Let them know how thankful you are for them too. I bet someone in your life would love a phone call this Thanksgiving.

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.