Posts Tagged ‘goals’

What I Did for Love

February 14, 2016

“If any of you wants to be my follower, He told them, you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely.”  Mark 8:14

How many remember the title of this post as a song?  That might be dating yourself, as its quite an old classic.  1975, to be exact.  It was from the Broadway play “A Chorus Line”.  It isn’t about love for a person, but about what one is willing to do to reach a goal or fully realize a talent.  Much sacrifice is required for greatness.

Why are there not more Olympic records broken by Americans?  Why are there not more great scientific discoveries by Americans?  Why are there not more great inventions by Americans?  Why are there not more Americans with advanced educational degrees?  Why are there not more Americans with lifelong marriages?  Why are there not more Christians doing truly great things for God?

I think Jesus provides the answer in the quote above.  To be Jesus follower will cost you.  Oh surely, He had many fair weather followers, and many quiet, hidden followers, but for the disciples who would physically follow Him everywhere He went, the sacrifice was very great.  It meant leaving home and family, familiarity, comfort, bed, meals, security, and so on right up to giving one’s life.

By the way, the answer to all the questions in paragraph two is the same–too much sacrifice.  We always have people who admire or envy those who achieve greatness, but they do not achieve all of which they are capable or all which they dreamed, because they felt the sacrifice was too great.


Needing the Big Picture

October 27, 2015

Someone once asked “Would you be open to letting God use you if you had no idea about what He was doing?

Our culture is a very goal oriented, achievement oriented one.  The majority of us are type A personalities, and some of the things we think we can’t live without are:  Having a goal, having a deadline, having steps to reaching the goal, having a deadline for each step, and so on.  We like to see we’re making progress toward the goal.  We also need:  to know the goal is worthwhile, and worthy of all this time and effort.  We want an assessment of the probable return on our sacrifice. We want to see the big picture before we commit.  This is often as true of relationships as it is to career, educational or other personal goals.

What if God just planted a situation in front of us.  What if a huge need just landed at our feet.  What if a longtime friend was suddenly left homeless and unemployed?  What if our neighbor is an automobile accident and needs some help for awhile.  What if a parent or a sibling suddenly needs help–a whole lot of help.

These situations don’t fit in with our goals at all.  No matter how worthy our goals are, these situations throw a big monkey wrench into our plans.  We may very well help out, but with what kind of joy?  We may do it out of guilt, but have no enthusiasm for it.

What if, these situations are part of God’s big picture–not necessarily for just us, but others as well.  And what if He doesn’t share with us what His plans are?  Can we give wholeheartedly to Him, and let Him use us, even if we don’t even see the good in what we’re doing, or if we never get to see the results.

Maybe if God let us see how He is using us, we would begin to try to organize it–set goals and deadlines, establish steps to accomplish it and all we are so familiar at doing.  Maybe we would get in our own way.  And maybe the biggest plans and the biggest pictures aren’t all about us.

The Top of the Mountain

December 30, 2009

Once upon a time a young man was told by the wise man of his village that he was to receive a great gift.  Just outside his village was a beautiful, very tall mountain.  Every young man in the village climbed this mountain as a rite of passage into manhood.

The young man strained his eyes to see the mountain peak.  Some days it was covered with cloud, and other days the peak was very clear.  The day after he was told about the gift he would receive, he saw a glint upon the mountain top.  He got a pair of binoculars and looked.  There was a beautiful package on top of the mountain, wrapped in gold and silver and tied with gold and silver twine.  There was no gift tag he could see, but he was sure it was the gift that had been foretold for him.  As he started out to climb the mountain, he saw beside the road, a very large brown sack with his name on it.  He was sure someone was joking about his wonderful gift by leaving such a plain old bag, and he passed it by.

He climbed all day, and in the night he was hungry and thirsty and cold.  He wished he had thought to bring a blanket, water and food, but he remembered that the next day he would receive the great gift on top of the mountain and his discomfort wouldn’t matter then.

He didn’t sleep well for he was very cold.  In the morning he was very hungry and not a little thirsty, but he shrugged it off and began to climb again.  By noon he was very, very weak from hunger and thirst, but he anticipated reaching the package by late afternoon, and by then every need would be satisfied by his present.  By late afternoon, as he approached the gift,  he could see writing on the silver and gold wrapping paper.  The writing said: “wealth, fame, success, admiration”.  His heart beat a little faster as he was sure this package would contain everything his heart desired.  He became weaker and weaker, but at last he reached the package–a box bigger than he was.  He was nearly blinded by the glitter of it all.  He saw the written words, “wealth, fame, success and admiration”, were repeated many times all over the box.  With his last bit of strength, he opened the box, and to his great dismay, it was empty.  He nearly fainted from weariness, weakness, thirst and disappointment.  As he lay near the open box and all the glittering paper, a little creature came by.  Whether the creature was a fairy, an angel or a  human, he couldn’t tell.  The little creature said, “what good are wealth, fame, success and admiration now when you are now dying for what you really need? Nevertheless, I will give you food, water, and the warmth you will need to get back home.  You have climbed the mountain after all, and you are now a man in the eyes of your village”.  “But where is the present I was promised”, demanded the young man.  The creature struggled as it pulled out a large brown bag with the young man’s name on it.  It had a cask of water, food and a big, very warm blanket.  Without this present, he knew, he would never get back home.

What Really Matters After All

November 19, 2009

When you become older, there are many more funerals to attend.  My contemporaries are beginning to leave life.  I celebrated the life of yet another friend today, and it gave me a lot of food for thought.   A half century ago, I would have thought of this person as old, but today he is younger than me.  Where did the time go?  Life passes swiftly.  I was always told that truth when young, and I never really believed it.  But its true.  And I wonder, given the swiftness of life, what really matters, after all.

Here are some thoughts from a senior citizen on what really matters.  I write this from the perspective of someone who believes in eternal life with Jesus Christ.

1.  If  life is really about an eternity with Jesus and not so much about a rapidly ticking life clock down here, asking myself the question “How important is this issue in the light of eternity” solves a whole lot of worries for me.

2.  If all I can take with me is people and relationships, I want to be sure the people I love know Jesus.  If those who run from Jesus will persish, then being sure as many people as possible know Him is the most important issue of life.

3.  I would worry a whole lot less about my resume.  God has always used the willing, not the accomplished.  He always prepares people to do what He has planned for them.  Its impossible to prepare myself when I don’t know what He will eventually ask of me.  He knows, and He is already doing the preparing.

4.  I would worry a whole lot less about what I’ve accomplished in life.  God is accomplishing things through my life provided I am willing and obedient to what He puts in front of my nose.  Only as I am obedient to what He obviously wants me to do, will He show me more of His plans for my world.

5.  I would worry absolutely not at all about what people think.  In the light of eternity its not important at all.  Only what God thinks will last.

6.  I would worry less about the state of the world, how bad things are, politics and the economy.  God is still in charge, and unless there is a moral issue on which He wants me to take a stand, or a problem I can fix or someone I can help, I need to remember all this is passing away very quickly.

7.  My relationship with Jesus is the most important thing of all, since it will be the primary relationship in eternity.  I need to nurture that relationship ahead of everything else.

8.  I want to leave things to my grandchildren and great grandchildren that strengthen their own walks with Jesus.  Thats the one gift that will keep on giving after I have moved on.

I loved how the service was called a Celebration of Life.  For a Christian, its really more like a graduation than a death.  We weep because we will miss our loved one, but we also weep for joy because we know where they have gone.

How to be more productive in retirement

January 1, 2009

Retirement is a wonderful thing.  It is a time to be ones own boss and set one’s own goals.  At the same time one may find oneself undirected, having fuzzy goals, and eventually becoming bored and depressed as days become less meaningful.

It helps to stop and think about ones purpose in life.  We were all gifted in some way, have values and interests, and these things were meant to be fulfilled.  When we determine our larger purpose, the area where our abilities, values and interests intersect, and we see a need we can fill with our unique purpose, voila, we have our calling, ministry or meaning.

Now, we have to stop puttering.  We need to look at our days in light of our meaning, and set some goals for ourselves.  If we still seem to be drifting, it helps to look at each day and see where we spend our time.  Are we getting distracted and frittering away our time on useless things like long-winded phone calls that go nowhere, surfing the internet with no purpose in mind other than entertainment, watching too much tv, playing games etc.  We need to look at how we spend our time in relation to our overall calling, and our general callings such as family needs, and see where we simply waste time.  Then we just have to be mindful of the big picture as we organize our days now that we are our own boss.  Being our own boss still means we have a boss.

A joyful heart

March 1, 2008

I think the tenth most important thing in life is to cultivate a joyful heart–a joyful attitude toward life.  I look around at my contemporaries–old as anything, and also at my granddaughter and great granddaughter’s contemporaries and I see a whole country of people on anti-depressants.  I’m no doctor, and I’ll admit there are probably a lot of good medical reasons why people take these medications, but in my day, “depression” was called “the blues” and people were supposed to get a handle on it.  Most people did.  Thats not to say there weren’t plenty of people in mental hospitals with severe depression, but nowhere near the number of people who are now taking anti-depressants.

The bible says “a merry heart does good like medicine” and I believe that is true.  I used to struggle with my moods when I was a younger person, until I studied some of the non-medical indicators of depression.  People who are depressed have a number of these things in common.  Notice I don’t say “all” these things, but depressed people will have a number of these things in their life.

First of all, their care of their physical body will be sub-par.  They will eat junk, use either caffeine or sedating substances or both, and they won’t exercise.  They have a lot of unhelpful thought processes: they have unrealistic expectations about what other people should be doing, they have a persistent negative outlook on life, they have withdrawn from social contact, they have withdrawn from things that they used to enjoy, they have stopped or never did look for a power greater than themselves, they have stopped or never did look to be involved in something bigger than themselves, and last, but not least, they are almost totally self-absorbed.

I want to offer “Nonni’s recipe” for getting over this kind of depression.

1.  Get up early, no matter how you feel.

2.  Thank God that you can walk and talk, see and hear, take care of yourself, and that you had a bed to sleep in last night.  Thank Him for every good thing you can think of.  Take about 10 minutes.  Write these things down.

3.  Dress and take a brisk walk.  Walk about 30 to 60 minutes at a good pace.  Look at things around you.  Thank God for the birds, the green growing things, and smile and wave at the people you see.  Stop to say hello to whomever is outside.

4.  Have a good breakfast.  Keep it healthy.

5.  Drink enough water.  A lot of “droopiness” could be dehydration, especially in warm weather, but even in winter as some of our heating systems are very drying.

6.  Ask yourself what meaningful thing you could do today that would make the world a better place, or that would at least help some individual.

7.  Do something uplifting.  If you don’t feel the energy to do anything, then at least read something inspiring.

8.  Call someone, and try to lift THEIR spirits.

9. Add something beautiful to your surroundings.  Pick some wildflowers.  Bring in a blooming branch.  Play some music that makes you feel good.

10.  Think ten positive thoughts about your life, your future, the people in your world, and write them down.  Where possible turn them into goals for something good, happy, meaningful or beautiful that you will do.  Thank God again for these 10 things.

11.  Periodically do a mental housecleaning, and forgive everybody who has hurt you.  Everyone has their demons.  Forgive yourself.  Write down everything you are holding against others and everything you are holding against yourself.  Take the list and throw it in the fireplace or the paper shredder.  Now resolve to live in the future.

12.  Tell yourself that you will be a “worry procrastinator”.  If you can DO something to insure a more secure future, do it, but put off worrying.  Its a time waster, especially since 9 out of 10 things we worry about never happen.

13.  Do what Martin Luther did, and ask God to protect your mind as you sleep.  Ask Him to remove old negative thoughts and refill your mind with thoughts that are pleasing to Him.

14.  Go to bed early.  Fall asleep with a thankful heart.  In your mind, re-visit a favorite place.  Re-live the sights, sounds and smells of this beautiful place.  You will be asleep before you know it.

Give my recipe a try for a couple of weeks.  If you don’t feel better, feel free to comment me.