Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thank You

Two important words: we teach them to our children. We say them automatically. We expect to hear them at the proper time. Yes, hearing "thank you" is important. If we give a gift to someone and they forget to say "thank you," we are disappointed. If we continue giving gifts and still don't receive any words of thanks or appreciation, we just might refuse to give gifts. For, we reason, if they can't even say "thanks," they certainly don't deserve a gift.

A quick inventory of everything we have shows just how many gifts we have been given. We have air, water, food, shelter, life, health, family, friends, occupations, TVs, computers, tables, chairs, couches, and beverages. We have talents, hobbies, interests and our minds. Everything we have has been given to us; most of these items are obvious; others are less so. In the end, however, everything we have is a gift. This being the case, I know I've forgotten more than a few "thank yous" along the way.

Do we thank the Creator for the universe we live in? Do we thank Him for the sun, moon, stars, planets, or the incomprehensible beauty of the world around us? Do we thank the Creator for the abilities we have? Do we thank the Creator for the most perfect gift of all - His forgiveness of our sins through His Precious Son - Jesus?

For that, I'm going to go say "thank You" a lot more often.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If Momma Ain't Happy....

You have heard the phrase, "If Momma Ain't Happy Ain't Nobody Happy."

So how is a real guy supposed to keep Momma happy? Here are a few tips:

1. Don't vacuum the rug with a leaf blower.
2. Don't keep your live bait in the refrigerator next to her pâté.
3. Don't forget to tell her about the nitrous switch on her dashboard.
4. Don't store your WD40 on the bathroom counter next to her hair spray.
5. Don't forget to teach her how to operate the TV remote -- for when you are out of the house.

Guys tend to be self-centered -- it is who we are. It's about us. But guys also need to realize it isn't always about us. There are times when we must put other people's needs or wants above ours, especially when it involves those we love. Sometimes we need to see that "chick flick" even if there is a John Wayne movie on at the same time. Sometimes we might walk with her around Macy's or even put gas in her car. And who knows, with a little practice, we might find listening to her is a good thing and praying (out loud) for her is a very good thing.

As our Lord, Jesus became a human for us. He put our needs first, took our sins to the cross, and was crucified for us. Can we do any less than put other's needs above our own?

Do you struggle with this? Have you found ways to show your love and respect for others?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Get It Right The First Time?

Now, that's a novel idea.

Sometimes what people want more than anything is just to feel like somebody else cares.

While organized denominations (Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, and others) are complex, multi-tiered organizations that function much like any large business, sometimes the rank and file - those of us who sit in the pew on Sunday mornings - are left wondering if too much of the "business" has seeped into the church.

How's your church? Are folks charged up when they get together? Are members enthused when greeting new folks at the door? Do you sense from others or have you experienced yourself any compelling desire to want to invite people to your church?

Or, is it otherwise?

And we all know what "otherwise" feels like - chilly, distant, sluggish - the complete antithesis of what a group of believers united by the cross of Christ should be expressing.

Not a few studies (and a lot of common sense) have shown that positive first impressions are lasting impressions. Nowhere is this probably truer than for the individual attending a church for the first time. The warm handshake, the genuine smile, the attempt (no matter how clumsy it might feel) at conversation - each goes a long way to breaking down barriers and giving people a reason to come back.

And that return trip might just be the start of a relationship with Jesus that otherwise would never have happened in that person's life.

Think about it. What is it about meeting people for the first time you find awkward? What do you wish others would do when you visit them on their turf for the first time? Is it something you can do when others visit your church?

Is it possible to get it right the first time?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Can You Make a Difference?

I know things have been worse in the past, but today's world seems whacked -- high gas prices, unemployment, devastating weather, food prices, an out-of-control stock market, clogged highways and, now an election where both major parties tell us what we need is change. All I know is that we'll get it one way or another - change, that is.

What can one person do? The problems seem so monstrous there is no possible way one person can make a difference.

But one person can make a difference. There is one of those movies circulating the Internet about a grocery bagger named Johnny see video here see video here and how he made a difference in the lives of his customers and in the culture of a simple grocery store. Yeah, it kind of smacks of a "Hallmark® moment," but it does make a point. Who knows if it's true? And, in the end, it doesn't really matter.

But I do know a true story about how one man made a difference in his world -- my Dad. My Dad taught his children to work hard, be honest, pray and trust in God. He expected us to do well and touch the lives of those they met in a positive way. He was demanding but forgiving, loud -- yet with soft edges. He loved God and shared that love freely.

He made a difference in his world and now in mine.

Can you make a difference?