How to Find Your Calling

January 24, 2017

It was once estimated the majority of people are unhappy in their occupation.  If it were possible to start over, most would choose differently–making it wise to choose correctly the first time.  How do you know where to begin?

There are basically 4 things to know about yourself:

  1.  What am I good at?  There are all sorts of vocational aptitude tests.  The Armed Forces ASVAB is given at many high schools and gives students a starting point when choosing further training.  Life experience may point out areas where we perform much better than average.
  2. What are my interests?  While we usually like what we’re good at and vice versa, oftentimes within our aptitudes are more than one interest area.  We will be much happier if we are operating within our interests as well as our strengths. Interest inspires us to learn more and excel further.
  3. What do I feel passionate about?  We often have areas that excite as well as interest us.  I may be interested in science, but passionate about animals, or plants, or medicine.  Past experiences may have me wanting very much to do something in a particular field.  For instance,  I may have a “cause” I care about because of something I saw or lived through, or that affected someone I loved.
  4. What is my basic personality?  Do I like to work with people, things or ideas?  Am I an introvert or extrovert?  Am I a leader or a follower?  Do I like to work with structure and routine, or am I highly spontaneous?  Do I like procedures or am I highly creative? All these things can help a person decide on specific areas within a field.  For instance, just within the medical field there are areas that will fit any personality type from the solitary researcher to the emergency room personnel, and things in between.  Someone who loves science yet finds the research lab too quiet, may enjoy pharmacy.  Someone who needs lots of drama and excitement might prefer the Emergency Department to routine operating room areas.  Someone who is highly creative might enjoy the inpatient mental health unit, or if artistic, the plastic surgeon’s world.  The possibilities are endless, but wherever one explores, it is important to find out what “a day in the life” consists of, and what personality traits are called into play.

Happy searching!  Its important as a young person to try on different roles to see how they fit.  This can be done through volunteering or “shadowing” someone working in a field that interests you.  Ask lots of questions and imagine yourself doing this work.  Don’t just do something because you admire someone else who is doing it.  Do it because you see yourself doing that job with confidence and joy.

Politics and Religion

January 23, 2017

I couldn’t help but marvel at the passion of the inauguration weekend.  I hadn’t seen so much emotion in 40 years at least.  I see government has become a god for many people–what they look to for significance, protection, care, security and so on.  And politics has become the new religion.  I can’t help but wonder if people loved God with the same passion and loved their neighbor with the same intensity, what kind of a world there would be.  I think of Mother Teresa multiplied by the 2 or 3 million who demonstrated, and wonder what would happen if those who count on government to help the poor, or who focus on ideology or sectarianism exchanged that for simple love and selfless service.

A Prayer for Christmas

December 20, 2016

Lord, it seems somehow selfish or greedy to ask you for a gift on Christmas.  After all, you have already given us everything you had when you came to earth as a man to live and die and redeem us.  But the gift I would ask honors you.  I would ask that you give a renewal of hearts to this earth for Christmas.  Warm our hearts with love for Jesus and each other.  Change us to be less about ourselves and more about you.  Give us insight into your heart’s desires, into what matters most to you, and let us model our lives around that.  Let their be conversions in high places this Christmas.  Let your spirit overshadow all the great ones of this earth.  Warm their hearts with love for you, and compassion for their fellow man.  Let these conversions be the kind that makes all take notice.  Drastically change the most unlikely of us–as the fictional character Ebeneezer Scrooge was forever changed by his night visions, yes, and even more like the apostle Paul was changed on the Damascus Road by an encounter with you.  We need these things so much, Lord, and ultimately they will bring you glory, when these people who live for self and not for you, change to transparently show love for you.  Let the warmth of love that brought us Christmas descend on this cold world like a blanket and warm all our hearts, Amen.

The Gravity of Christmas

December 19, 2016

Last week someone asked me why I thought the Old Testament was so harsh concerning the Law and Sin.  After a lot of thought, I believe it is so we will appreciate the age of grace which the New Testament reveals.   The Old Testament was so hard, it required the death penalty for some sins and animal sacrifice for others.  Many sins required blood atonement.  And we wonder, with the Age of Grace to come just a few centuries later, why was God so adamant about punishing sin severely.

Our culture doesn’t understand this because America and the West of the 21st century wink at sin.  We joke about adultery, other sexual sin, and our sexuality in general.  And yet, God considers sexuality, and particularly marriage and procreation to be his greatest masterpiece.  He considers marriage to most resemble his own heart.  Think about how we value our human artistic masterpieces.  They are surrounded to guards, alarms, and in some cases represented by replicas because the originals are locked away–considered too irreplaceable to even be displayed.  But what do we do with God’s Masterpiece of marriage and procreation?  It is like launching paintballs at the Mona Lisa and laughing while we do it.  We have lost so much sense of what is sacred and holy.  We have lost our ability to fathom the vastness, greatness and otherworldliness of God.

Only when we read in the Old Testament of God’s righteous indignation at the disastrous damage we do to his Holy Order, His Magnificence, His Beauty, do we even begin to appreciate all He did in restoring us, ransoming us from evil, and extending grace.  Otherwise His grace seems cheap to us and we fail Him all over again in not valuing the greatest of gifts.

How to have a Happy Christmas

December 18, 2016

  1.   Remember why you are celebrating.  Christmas celebrates God coming to earth in human form to be with us and to redeem us.  Without Christ, the reason to celebrate becomes obscure

  2. Be grateful.  There are so many things to be thankful for, from the beautiful gift of life itself to the people who make life worth living, the creature comforts we have, the abilities we have, and so on.  If we get nostalgic at Christmas, we can remember happy times of Christmas past and be grateful for those times.  Enjoy them again in memory.

  3. Remember people who are not happy or not blessed this Christmas.  Make it a project to do something special for someone else–an individual, a family, or be part of the Christmas plans of a church or social ministry.  Some people volunteer with the Salvation Army or go to a retirement community, a hospital or a shelter and bring some cheer.  You can even celebrate the 12 days of Christmas by doing an unexpected kindness or giving an unexpected gift to someone each day for 12 days.

  4. Remember happiness isn’t a goal, but happiness grows in the process of living your best life.


A Christmas Prayer 2

December 6, 2016

Lord, as I come before you today, I can’t help but think about what your becoming human means for me.  So many times prayer is pictured as an address to our Father who is on his throne in Heaven.  And that’s perfectly right and good.  Except when we pray that way, we hope our Father is paying attention to our situation, we hope he is listening and not attending to something else, and most of all we hope the God of Heaven understands what our situation is like for us.  By faith we believe He does understand, but how can someone so far above us, and so unlike us possibly feel with us what we feel?

But you didn’t stay in Heaven.  You came, and you became one of us–not like us, but one of us.  You came as a baby, totally helpless and dependent.  You experienced cold and hunger, pain, and as you grew, you experienced every emotion we feel.  You experienced the physical manifestations of emotions as well.  You loved, you wept, you were angry, you laughed.  And you experienced disappointment.  The only things you did not experience were fear and worry, but then, those are things you don’t want us to experience either.  All during your time walking this earth, you said ” Fear not” and “Do not worry”.  However, you did experience the cold, hunger, pain and danger we all experience that give rise to those feelings.  And so you do understand the root of even those things.

Because you became one of us and lived among us, we don’t have to wonder what God is like.  You, who acted with such love and compassion, told us that if we had seen you and known you, we also have seen the Father, for you are one.  This is such a marvelous mystery.  How could God remain God, Jesus be God, and yet they are one. You are greater than our minds can fathom.  You are beyond our thoughts and our ability to comprehend.  To  fully understand You and your mysteries, we would have to be God, and we will never be there.  As a 4 year old, no matter how gifted can’t comprehend the theories of quantum physics, its even a bigger chasm for us to comprehend You..  But its good we can’t, for then You dear God would be no bigger than we are–a very puny god indeed.

Thank you for coming to us.  Thank you for loving us that much.  Thank you for caring so much for us you would give up your glory and your home to come be one of us.  You gave all you had.  No greater gift can be.

A Prayer for Christmas 1

December 5, 2016

Lord, I come before you, in awe of what you did in coming to live among us.  As much as I have loved dogs, I have never wanted to be one—ever!  When I think of what you did in becoming human like us, the chasm was much wider and deeper than it would be for me to become a dog.  Yet, you left your home, your companionship with the Father and the angels of Heaven, and journeyed not only to a foreign place, but into a fallen world, not at all like the paradise you had planned for mankind.  You gave up your power, and even some of your knowledge.  You limited yourself, and even though you had powers far superior to ours, including power over nature, you gave up the glory of your godhood.  And you did this knowing you would eventually die as the price to be paid for our redemption and you did it knowing many, indeed perhaps most humans would reject you.  But for the love of those who would accept it, you gave up so very much.  What more could you have given?  Lord, in this Christmas season, help me realize the enormity of what this all means.  Amen.

Are People Poorer Today?

November 29, 2016

I was talking with a Walmart checker the other day, talking about Christmas gifts for children.  She was probably about 45, and told me she was a single mother.  She made the comment “People today have to work twice as many hours as your generation, and we will never be as well off as you when we get to your age.”

I thought about that a little, and wondered what is different now.  Our generation bettered ourselves by trying to move up in the world of work.  We either got into programs that allowed us to move up, gained a skill, went to college or went to vocational school.  The emphasis was on moving up–at least for most of us in the middle class.  The middle class also tended to be married, which was a big economic advantage.  The idea of being a single mother and still being a Walmart checker in our 40s just didn’t occur to those in the middle class.

The other big difference, however, is the cost of college.  When I was in college, a semester’s education was worth about a month’s rent for an apartment.  We could usually work extra hours and save up for our tuition each semester, even if it meant graduating in 5 or 6 years instead of four.  We did graduate without debt.  The cost of college today has increased so exponentially as to be out of reach of many.  Something has to be done to make it affordable.  Having the government pay won’t stop the inflation, which is just unbelievable.  Government may provide free education, but like Europe, it will limit the number who can go to college, and things won’t be any better for the person who is spending a career in low wage jobs.


November 29, 2016

Someone once told me the fastest growing population of homeless people was women veterans.  I was dubious, because I knew that while veterans have become the “poster children” of the homeless advocacy groups, veterans in general are only half as likely to become homeless as the population in general.  There has been an attempt by some who don’t like the military to portray veterans as unstable people who might even be dangerous.  Nothing is further from the truth.

Anyway, it took quite an internet search.  I learned the number of homeless women veterans hasn’t increased nationally at all, but over a period of years, one populous county in California saw their population of homeless women veterans increase from 100 to 200.  This was out of a population of homeless of over 250,000 in that county.  Neither of these numbers represents who is homeless on any given night, but who is homeless during the whole year.  On any given night, the homeless population averages 78,000.  The population of this county is over 10 million.  However, a journalist can say that if you served 100 homeless women veterans in one year, and 3 years later you served 200 homeless women veterans in that year, you can extrapolate from that the news headline that homeless women veterans are the fastest growing group of homeless.

Sometimes it helps to research a little to gain perspective.

Its a Small World

November 29, 2016

I once met a person who was so angry at the world she shut out every  person in her life, except when she would single out one to send a barb their way.  Her world became all about herself and justifying herself to herself.  All her sad life was the fault of others, no matter how hard others had worked to try to help her.  Finally, it seemed her world had become so small she had managed to squeeze all the joy out of it.