Saturday, December 31, 2011

Not so bad after all

Do you like yourself?

I heard a well-educated, highly successful man say the other day, "I don't like myself." He was not speaking in self-pity but simply as a matter of fact. He didn't like himself.

The truth is most folks don't like themselves. We distrust our instincts…we wear masks that represent a self we believe will be more acceptable…we quarrel, boast, pretend, and experience jealousy - all because we don't like ourselves. Mostly we do not know ourselves well enough to have an informed opinion about ourselves.

Are there not people who genuinely like you? Why not take their word for it?

Better yet, get to know yourself. Chances are you'll find out you're not so bad after all.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tug in my heart

A little boy was flying his kite high in the sky. Soon a low-drifting cloud engulfed the kite and hid it from view. A man passing by asked the boy what he was doing with a string in his hand. The boy replied, "Flying my kite." The man looked up and seeing no kite said, "I don't see a kite up there. How can you be sure there is a kite up there?" The child responded, "I don't see it either, but I know my kite is up there because every once in a while there is a little tug on my string."

When people ask me why I believe in God, I think of that story. I do not see the Holy One; I can't prove anything; there is no objective evidence. But, every now and then I feel a tug in my heart and I know he's there.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Negative Messages

Someone who counts such things, has written that the average child receives 431 negative messages per day: "Be quiet…Get down from there…Put down those scissors…Watch it…You're too small…Look at this mess you've made…I've already told you, 'no'…Stop playing and eat your food…"

Think about it, 431 negative messages a day. That is a lot of negative feed back. Chances are some of you have done it already today.

Maybe we should find a way to be more positive, more encouraging, and more pleasant with our children. After all, most of the things we get on to them about don't matter. Milk can be cleaned up. What counts is character.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Great People

When life offers you a challenge, don't let fear cause you to stay away from it.

Can you imagine Joan of Arc whimpering, "What? Lead an army? I can't even ride a horse."

Can you imagine Christopher Columbus saying, "How can I be right and all these other people be wrong. I'm a fool to think I know better than they do. What if I fall off the edge of the world or we get eaten by sea monsters?"

Suppose Thomas Jefferson had caved into his fears and said, "What makes me think I should write a Declaration of Independence from England. They are a great country. They will crush us and I will lose my property, my house and my life."

You say, "Yes, but these were great people." Right! But they weren't great people before they took up the challenge.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We Can Change

The famous psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, said that the most important concept we must hold on to while working with people is the conviction that people can change and grow. We should never allow people to get by with saying, "This is the way I am. I was this way in the beginning and I will always be this way." Dr. Frankl said we need to plead with such people: "Oh, no! Please don't say that. Don't think that. It's not true."

Yes, there is a strong current of determination in all of us. Bad habits, particularly habits of thinking, are hard to break. But, we can change. We can change to make different decisions, try new patterns. It's hard. It's painful. It takes a while before it feels real. We are vulnerable to falling back into the old destructive patterns. But, we can change.

Monday, December 26, 2011


The famed psychiatrist, Carl Rogers, talks about our human condition as being like a person who has fallen into a deep, dry well. We desperately try to climb out, but we aren't able. We shout, call out, knock on the side of the well - all this time hoping someone will hear and respond to us. If someone does hear us, we feel relief, even ecstasy.

Dr. Rogers says we feel somewhat like that when people listen to us, hear us, and understand us. We have an explosion of relief: "Someone finally knows where I am. Somebody finally knows what it's like to be me."

The most generous and self-less thing you can do for another person is to listen to them. It says to them, "I care. You are not alone. I am with you."

Sunday, December 25, 2011


We are creatures of habit. Every time we think or act in a certain way, a habit is forming. Like a groove that is being furrowed deeper and deeper, each repetition adds depth to the habit and makes it harder to break.

Our habits rule us. They dictate our actions and reactions. We think we are making choices, but in truth much of our life is predetermined by our habits.

The older we get the more set in our ways we get, so it becomes less and less likely we will change our speech and behavior patterns.

If you have habits that you are not proud of, deal with them now. It will be harder and harder to break bad habits as time passes.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Good Question

In Thornton Wilder's play, "Our Town," a young woman named Emily dies. Emily is allowed to relive any one day of her life all over again.

She chooses to relive the day of her twelfth birthday. When she comes back, she is eager to savor every moment of this wonderful day in her life. She regrets that she just can't seem to look hard enough or experience deeply enough everything that is happening.

Then she notices that the people around her are not sharing fully in her joy in living. She pleads with her mother, "Come on, let us really look at one another!" She soon realizes, with great sadness, that no one else understands. She finally observes, "Oh, earth, oh life, you're too wonderful for anyone to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize the meaning of life while they are still living?"

Good question.

Friday, December 23, 2011


There is a rabbinic story about two brothers who loved each other very much and shared the profits from their family partnership equally.

One brother was a bachelor. The other brother had a wife and eight children.

One night after harvest time the bachelor brother thought, "I have only one mouth to feed. My brother has ten people dependent on him. I will take some of my grain and put it in my brother's barn."

The other brother thought, "My brother has no one to care for him when he is old. I will take some of my grain and slip it into his barn."

That night the two brothers went on a mission of mercy. Even though there was not a cloud in the sky it began to rain. It was the tears of the Almighty who was weeping for joy because two of his children had gotten the point that life is not about having. It is about giving.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Long ago there were two brothers who had been close all their lives. They roomed together as boys and even later in college. After college they entered a business partnership together. They were a model of mutuality for the community.

One day a $1 deposit went missing. A seed of suspicion was planted between the brothers. It grew into accusations and finally the brothers dissolved the partnership and closed their stores. For the next twenty years the brothers became a model of incivility for the community.

One day a stranger came to town. He called the two brothers together and told them how twenty years earlier he had been destitute and passing through town. He confessed that he had stolen a dollar bill from on top of the cash register to buy food for himself.

He offered to make restitution. As he told the story, the two brothers wept. Suspicion kills relationships.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Success and failure are to modern people what heaven and hell were to people in the Middle Ages. We think the greatest thing that can ever happen to us is to be successful, in the eyes of our peers, and the worst thing that can happen to us is to be deemed inadequate before our peers.

So our culture tells us, "Nothing matters except success. Win at all cost. Pay whatever price you have to pay, step on whomever you have to step on. Just get to the top. Happiness is at the top of the mountain."

Unfortunately, our culture lies to us. I know a lot of people who have climbed the ladder and reached the top. When they are up there they discover it's not what they thought it would be. It's hollow, empty, and lonely. There is no Camelot at the top of the mountain. Most of those that reach the top are filled with regret about the people on whom they stepped, injured, or were not present for.

Many things in life are more important than success.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Buyer's Remorse

Have you ever experienced "buyer's remorse"? "Buyer's remorse" occurs when you realize that you have paid too much for something and you did not get enough value for your money.

I've seen something like buyer's remorse happen to people at the end of their lives. They suddenly realize that they have spent their lives investing in the wrong things. They gave themselves to things instead of people, their vocation instead of their family, material values instead of spiritual values. It is a pitiful thing to see someone come to the end of his or her life and realize that they have wasted it.

Someone has said that no one ever comes to the end of their life and says, "I wish I had spent more time at the office."

Wisdom is knowing how to value things and knowing the true worth of things in our lives.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Follow the Leader

Have you ever heard an orchestra tune up? It is chaotic. You wonder about the disharmony and confusion. You know the musicians are skilled or they would not be on the stage, but the music they are producing is anything but pleasing.

Then on to the stage comes the conductor. There is a friendly applause, then silence. The conductor raises his baton and suddenly, almost magically, angelic sounds fill the air. Instead of fighting one another as they were before, the various instruments compliment each other. The symphonic strains stir the hearts of the audience.

So what's so special about the conductor that his presence changes everything? It is not that he or she is the best musician in the room. The reason this conductor changes the musical atmosphere is because everyone in the orchestra chooses to follow his or her lead.

Businesses, schools, government agencies and churches - none of them functions well unless everyone respects the authority of the leader.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Faulty Interpretation

Psychologists say, "Children are keen observers but poor interpreters." They see everything that is happening, but they often misinterpret what it means.

Think with me about some painful childhood memory that you have. Maybe it is about something you saw, something that happened, or something that was said. Listen to me: it is possible that you misinterpreted what happened.

For example, when children see their parents go through a divorce, they often feel responsible. They think, "If I had not been so much trouble…."

Do some work with your memories, my friends. It's just possible that your observations were correct, but your interpretation was faulty.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mature People

Many years ago, Ernest Becker wrote a monumental book called The Denial of Death. He said that people in one culture refuse to confront the reality of death. Let me give you an illustration. How many of you have a will, a power of attorney for health use or a living will? Probably not many of you and do you know why? Because, we do not want to think about death.

Similarly, we also fear the full experience of life. We enjoy life as long as it is filled with beauty and pleasure, but part of life is pain - our own pain and the pain of others. We do not want to deal with that. When someone cries, we say, "Don't cry." Their tears may be cleansing for them, but we don't know how to handle it.

The sooner we stop running from the realities of life and death, the sooner we become mature people.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


If you are having difficulty solving a math problem and I help you, you do not have to take my word that the solution is correct. You can verify it for yourself.

However, if someone tells you that they love you, there is no way to verify it. For example, it is possible for people to treat you in loving ways and not love you. At the same time, it is possible for people who do love you to mistreat you. In the final analysis, there is no way to verify love. We either believe in people's word that they love us or we do not.

Your Creator is saying to you today, "I love you unconditionally. I care about everything that happens to you. You are my son/daughter in whom I am well pleased."

You either have faith that this message is true or you don't. Verification is not possible. The moment you accept that the message is true and act on the basis of it, you become a believer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Mind

Psychologists say that our minds have three levels:

The conscious mind, the thoughts and memories that are part of our everyday thinking;
  • The subconscious mind, the storage center just below the level of our conscious mind that we can bring up into consciousness when needed; and
  • The unconscious mind, the things we have seen, heard or experienced which are stored in our brain but of which we have no conscious awareness.
The unconscious mind is the basement where our memories and emotions are buried alive. The burial process is called repression. We bury our unwanted feelings and memories, we stop even remembering them, and think they are gone but, they are not gone. They continue to influence our thinking and behavior.

Friends, what you do not know about yourself can hurt you. The only antidote is welcoming self-knowledge and allowing things we have repressed to resurface.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


We learn to talk somewhere between the end of our first year and the beginning of our second year of life. But, according to experts, we begin to hear even before birth. And the last organ to survive is our ears. People's ears are technically capable of receiving sound waves after they die.

What is the point? We should talk to our babies even before we welcome them into the world. And, we should talk to our loved ones even when people tell us they can no longer hear us.

Many years ago I was badly injured. I was comatose and hooked up to a breathing machine. I remember the nurses saying to people who were in my room, "He doesn't hear you and even if he did, he would not remember it later." But, I did hear. I'm sure I was in and out of consciousness, but there were times I was alert even though my eyes were closed. I do remember what was said to me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Secret Shame

Most of us feel a strong need to have a portion of our lives remain completely private. There are things we do not want anyone else to know. We want a few things about ourselves and our past bolted behind a door and marked "Private- Do not disturb."

The reason we have a strong need for this private space is because of shame. We are afraid that when people find out who we truly are, they will reject us or humiliate us.

Instead of needing a place of privacy, we actually need a close friend, an intimate confidante, a trustworthy person to whom we can disclose our most shameful secrets. Here's the catch: in order to have such a person, we must risk disclosure. We must be willing to take down the "Do not disturb" signs, and gradually welcome someone into our private space, until finally there are no more secrets.

Remember: our secrets are what make us sick; self-disclosure with a safe person heals us.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


A relationship is only as good as its communication.

When we are in a healthy relationship, we tell the other person who we honestly think we are. This assumes we are reflective enough to have self-understanding, and mature enough to risk self-exposure. And, it assumes the other person is capable of the same thing.

In real relationships we are open to others correcting false self-understandings which are hurtful and destructive. Unless they help us, we cannot grow.

Relationships are about talking of things that matter most to us - our feelings, our needs, our values, and our dreams.

Relationships include bonding and boundaries, closeness and breathing room.

Relationships are covenantal - they are about the "for better or for worse" commitments that make authentic communication safe.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Love Others

The surest way to find God, if you are seeking the Eternal One, is to go out and love others: to get to know them, to embrace them, to accept them, to care for them, to be patient with them, and to serve them. Remember: everyone you meet is created in God's image, and therefore when you love them you love the image of God.

I know, it's hard to do this. Some people out there are obnoxious and not nice. But, some of the time, their misbehavior is their way of shouting, "Will somebody please notice me? Will somebody please love me?" If we could look past their behaviors, see their hurt, and love the image of God in them, both they and you would experience God.

Why don't you at least try it? Look for God in the people you meet today.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Fear is a terrible thing. It is like throwing sand in the equipment of life.
You are never less creative than when you are afraid. It lowers your vision. It deflates your faith.

You are never more selfish than when you are afraid. It causes you to think about yourself instead of others.

Fear is a thief. It steals from you opportunities and adventures that you otherwise would have had.

Fear is the voice in your head that says, "There will not be enough. It is not going to work out. You are not going to have adequate resources to face the 'what ifs' of the future."

There is only one antidote to fear -faith. You can't buy enough insurance, have enough therapy, or take enough prescriptions to deliver you from fear. Somehow you've got to believe the voice of the one who says, "There is enough. I am with you and it's going to be OK."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Love Yoursef

Carl Jung, the great psychiatrist, once reflected on the words of Jesus, "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me."

Jung asked, "What if you discovered that the least of those who needed your love the most - the one you could help the most by loving - the one to whom your love would be the most meaningful - was you? Would you still be willing to fulfill the mandate of Jesus?"

Good question. It is easier to love other people than it is to love ourselves.
I like the way a friend of mine puts it: "The one who created the universe loves you as though there were no one else in the universe to love."

Don't be afraid that affirming your being is going to turn you into a vain person. Go ahead and love the least of these - love yourself.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


One of the great tragedies of life is that when we do not feel comfortable with whom we are, we pretend to be someone else. We wear masks and play roles. It is about self-defense, fitting in and being accepted.

We feel safer behind these facades, but they guarantee a life of loneliness and isolation. We cut ourselves off from genuine and authentic community.

Worse, we start believing that we are who we pretend to be. We forget that we are merely performing a role on the stage of life. The result is emotional immaturity.

Even worse, we adopt multiple personalities. We play one role when we are with one group of people and another role when we are with a different group. This leads to a lack of integrity and the fear of exposure.

Get to know who you are and say to yourself, "It's good to be me."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

True Beauty

There is a fairy tale about a beautiful young maiden who was imprisoned in a tower by a wicked witch. Over and over the witch told the young girl how ugly she was.

One day the young maiden was gazing out the window of the tower. Prince Charming saw her and immediately fell in love with her. The young girl threw her uncut hair out of the window. It fell to the bottom of the tower. The prince braided her hair into a ladder and climbed up to rescue her. Prince Charming showed the young maiden herself in the mirror and she discovered that she was not ugly after all. She was beautiful.

What is true for the young maiden is true for many of us. We are tyrannized by a false understanding of ourselves. We need to see our true beauty mirrored in the eyes of another in order to be liberated from the towers of self-loathing in which we have become imprisoned.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gifts of our Parents

The truth is that much of the way we view ourselves is the gift of our parents. Parents are the mirrors through which we learn to see ourselves. If our parents show unconditional favor for us when we are young, we usually grow up with healthy self-esteem. If our parents communicate to us that their love is conditional on our performance, we become either pleasers or rebellious persons. Fear and poor self-appreciation dominate our lives.

But, there are ways to overcome the deficit of positive parenting. We can allow someone else, whose word we are willing to accept, to speak unconditional love into our lives.

Would you allow me to be that person for you today? Listen to me - you are special and precious. You are worthy of respect. You are uniquely gifted. You are unconditionally loved by your Creator. The one who made you is saying to you right now, "You are my beloved child in whom I am well-pleased."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Basic Questions of Life

The two most basic questions of life are: "Who am I?" and "How do I relate to others?"
It is interesting that our awareness of these two questions begins in infancy.

Babies first discover themselves. They explore themselves - their feet, their hands, their faces. They discover how to get attention and gratification. They wonder: "Who am I?"
Next, children find out they are not the whole of reality - that other beings are not an extension of themselves. Other people are distinct, separate from them, that no one sees or feels what they do. The question is: "How do I relate to others?"

The interesting thing is that most of us go on struggling with these two questions our entire lives.

Let me try these questions out on you: Who are you? How do you relate to others?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Prairie chickens and eagles

There is a story from Native American folklore about an Indian brave who came upon an eagle's egg that had fallen unbroken from its nest. Unable to find the nest, the brave put the egg in the nest of a prairie chicken. It was hatched and raised by the brooding mother hen.

The fledgling eagle could not see himself. He could only see the prairie chickens around him, so he scratched and pecked the way they did. He grew up thinking of himself as an earthbound prairie chicken and acting like one.

One day an eagle flew overhead. Something inside him wanted to leap into the air and fly away like the proud and magnificent eagle overhead but, he thought of himself as a prairie chicken. He could not soar like an eagle.

Often people are shackled by their false beliefs about themselves.

Don't you know you are an eagle?

Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Parrot and the Pincer

A man decided to visit his friend. He had never been to his home. He didn't see his friend's car or any sounds of life, but he decided to knock on the front door anyway. He knocked and heard a voice come from inside saying, "Come in." The door was unlocked. He entered. Immediately, he was attacked by a vicious Doberman Pincer.

The man was being pinned against the wall with the dog at his throat. He called out to his friend but there was no response. Just then he looked up and saw a parrot perched near the ceiling. The bird said, "Come in."

The man was furious. He verbally attacked the parrot saying, "You stupid bird. Is 'come in' all that you can say?"

The parrot said, "Sick him."

Sometimes it's smarter to swallow your anger and keep your big mouth shut.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Nutcracker

One of my favorite memories was taking our young sons to see a ballet called "The Nutcracker." Our boys didn't particularly want to go. They were jocks. They would have rather gone to a ballgame. But, this was important to their mother. She wanted them to be exposed to some culture along the way.

The boys sat as quietly and respectfully as they could. They tried to look interested. When the intermission came they stood up and thanked their mother for bringing them. "This was very nice, Momma," they said. "We enjoyed it."

Their mother replied, "Oh, son, this is only the intermission. It's only half over."

They screamed, "Oh, no! We can't stand this! We've got to get out of here!"

Believe it or not, some of the things that are happening to you now that you consider unbearable will one day be a memory that brings a smile.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where people end up

I serve on a board that examines candidates for ministry. A few years ago a man came before us who wanted to be a pastor. We asked him, "What are your hopes for your future ministry?"

He said, "My grandfather was a switchmaster for a railroad. His job was to take a piece of metal twelve miles long and mechanically move it six inches in one direction or another. He had to know where each train was supposed to go. It wasn't a huge job, but it was important because if he made a mistake, the train ended up in the wrong place."

Then the candidate for ministry added, "I do not have great ministerial gifts, but I'd like to take the gifts I have been given and use them faithfully. I believe that if I do that it will make a difference in where people end up."

We approved him.

You do not need to be the most gifted person around to make a huge difference.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Henry Drummond in his well-known book, Natural Law in the Spiritual World, tells of a fish that lives in the subterranean lakes of Mammoth Cave. These caves are so deep below the surface that no ray of natural light ever gets into them. In other words, the fish has existed in absolute darkness for centuries.

The most interesting thing about the fish is that it has eyes. Yet, it cannot see. Through the years the optic nerve atrophied until vision was no longer possible.

I know people like that. They have eyes and they can physically see, but they do not have the capacity to vision.

Conversely, I have known people who were physically blind but who had tremendous sensitivity and vision about emotional and spiritual realities. Some of the greatest poets that have ever lived were physically blind.

The most famous person to have ever lived used to say of people, "You have eyes to see but you can't see."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Playing Hooky

A little boy decided to play hooky from school. His parents had to work, so he pretended to leave for school and as soon as his parents were gone, he sneaked back into the house. Maybe you remember the movie, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," well; this was Johnny Smith's day off.

Things went pretty well until someone from the principal's office called to check on Johnny. "Is Johnny sick today?" the school representative asked.

"Yes, Johnny is very sick today," came the reply.
The school official, recognizing the youthful voice, asked, "Who is this speaking?"

Johnny answered, "What do you mean, 'Who is this?' This is my daddy speaking!"

Have you ever gotten caught in a lie? It's pretty embarrassing, isn't it? It's better to tell the truth even if it gets you in trouble. Nothing is worth the loss of your integrity.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Medal of Honor

There is a moving World War II story about a conscientious objector who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. It seems that the soldier, who served as a medic in the Pacific theatre, saved dozens of his wounded comrades who were pinned down by enemy fire. He risked his life over and over in spite of being wounded himself.

Afterwards, his company commander asked the basis of his heroism. The conscientious objector answered, "My religious convictions do not permit me to kill, but they do permit me to die."

Sometimes we view non-violent people as cowards when nothing could be further from the truth. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, both pacifists, were certainly not sissies. Jesus and Buddha were not wimps. Sometimes it takes more strength to risk harm without giving injury than it does to strike back.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Half of the Sandwich

Several years ago, I read about a New York City executive who was moving from appointment to appointment all day. He didn't have time to stop for lunch, so he purchased a sandwich from one of the coin operated vending machines. He put his sandwich on a table and went to purchase a soda from another machine.

When he came back to his seat there was a bag lady - one of those people who carry all their earthly possessions in a big bag - sitting there eating his sandwich. He was incensed - furious. He decided to sit down opposite her and glare. Evidently the woman felt uneasy because she handed him half of the sandwich. This made him even angrier.

The woman finished her part of the sandwich, picked up her bag and left. As she walked away he saw his sandwich sitting on a table untouched.

Sometimes things are not what they appear to be. That's one of the reasons we need to be kinder, gentler, and more merciful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


In 1665, the Dutch inventor of the pendulum clock discovered an odd sympathy between the pendulums of two clocks hung together. He discovered that when clocks were hung in close proximity, their pendulums would swing in precisely opposite directions in perfect rhythm. He suggested possible explanations, but he was never able to prove them.

Recently, scientists at Georgia Tech proved that pendulums actually sense an imperceptible movement in the beam on which the clocks are hung, and that movement eventually causes the other clock to swing with opposite synchronicity.

Similarly, I believe people are created to live in rhythm with one another. We are more influenced by the people around us than we realize. We impact them and they impact us. We are not independent agents. We are part of a community.

Monday, November 21, 2011

He who dies with the most toys wins

Malcolm Forbes was one of the wealthiest people to have lived in our time. The billionaire publisher was the one who came up with the oft-quoted phrase, "He who dies with the most toys wins." Forbes had plenty of toys: boats, planes, and castles. He had all the symbols of status that our world has to offer. He had what many of us desperately want: prosperity, power and privilege.

I didn't know Malcolm Forbes so I won't offer an evaluation of him, but I've known a lot of very wealthy people. I'll bet you that if you knew the real life situation of the wealthiest people around - their pressures and their struggles - you wouldn't be interested in changing places with them.

The truth is that those who die with the most toys are just dead.

The One I follow said it this way, "A person's life does not consist of the abundance of things possessed."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Memorizing Massive Amounts

Did you know that if you have average intelligence you have sufficient brain power to memorize the entire Encyclopedia Britannica? That's right; you can memorize massive amounts of material. Here are seven steps:
  1. First, you've got to be interested in the material.
  2. Second, you need to understand what you're learning.
  3. Third, you need to associate the thing you wish to know with something meaningful that you already know.
  4. Fourth, you've got to put it in a logical sequence.
  5. Fifth, make a hand-eye connection. Write down what you want to remember in the way you want to remember it.
  6. Sixth, concentrate on the information. See it in your mind's eye in outline form.
  7. Seventh, repeat it over and over and over and over again.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wrong Number

Did you hear about the fellow who came to work with both ears badly burned? Someone asked him what happened. Here's how he explained his calamity. He said, "I was ironing my shirt when the phone rang. Instead of picking up the phone, I accidentally put the iron to my ear." He added, "The terrible thing is that it was a wrong number."

His friend questioned him further, "What happened to the other ear?"

The response was, "Wouldn’t you know it? That idiot called back!"

I know people just like that. No matter what happens, they blame their errors on somebody else. They specialize in blaming.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Church Bloopers

Here are some bloopers that have ended up in church worship bulletins:
  •  "Immediately after the service there will be a parents meeting at both the north and the south sides of the Sanctuary. Children will be baptized at both ends."
  • "This being Easter, we will ask Helen Smith to come forward and lay an egg on the altar."
  •  "Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church."
  • "After the first hymn turn to someone and say hell."
  • "Do you want to know what hell is like? Come hear our choir."
  • "Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help."


Friday, November 4, 2011

Prosperity, Power, and Privilege

How can a person know when they are a success? For most people success is measured by three "Ps": prosperity, power, and privilege. But these are inadequate measuring tools.

Here is an insight: why not leave it for the next generation to decide whether you've been a success or a failure? After all, if you are still around, you are still in the race.
Sometimes people who look like successes end up proving to be failures. And sometimes people who never see the fruit of their lives end up being the means by which others achieve great things in the next generation.

My whole life I have been standing on the shoulders of others who went before me and made my success possible. On the surface it looks like I've been more successful than they were, but it's not really true.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Memorable Funeral

I will never forget a funeral I attended as a teenager. I went with my Uncle Charlie, who conducted the service. At the graveside ,the grieving widower began to weep, moan, and sigh. He said, "Don't leave me Mary. You can’t leave me, Mary. I can't live without you, Mary." Then he jumped on top of the casket and his moans and sighs became screams.

The whole thing freaked me out. I went home feeling so sorry for that poor old man whose wife died.

A week later I got a phone call from my Uncle Charlie. He said, "do you remember the old man who wailed and jumped on top of his wife's casket pleading for her not to leave him? Well, he got married today."

Write it down: Not every expression of grief is authentic.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Who was that masked man?"

One day I stopped by my house between a funeral and a graveside internment. I never have liked to follow the policemen in those funeral processions. I left immediately after the service and dropped by my house. I checked the mail, got something to eat and drink, and then decided to go to the cemetery. I figured I had plenty of time. As I came near to the cemetery I saw that a line of cars had already moved in and gathered around a body. I was late.

I sped my pace, parked my car, and ran to the graveside, naturally in a reverent way. I walked to the head of the casket, steadied myself, and looked out on the crowd. I didn’t know anyone. It suddenly occurred to me that I was at the wrong funeral.

I lowered my head and made my way to the car as quickly and reverently as I could. As I left I could hear people say, "Who was that masked man?"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Have you ever heard the term "Wrong-Way Corrigan?"

Have you ever heard the term "Wrong-Way Corrigan?" I have heard it all my life. This phrase goes back to a true story from 1938. Douglas Corrigan took off in his plane from Brooklyn, New York, to Long Beach, California. A little over twenty-three hours later he touched down in Dublin, Ireland. Upon getting out of the plane, he asked the airport officials, "Is this Los Angeles?"

For years people made fun of Douglas. "Wrong-Way Corrigan," they called him. But in 1963 – 25 years later - he finally admitted that he violated his flight plan on purpose. He had tried to get permission to cross the Atlantic Ocean in his plane. The authorities refused his request. So he went ahead and crossed the pond any way - accidentally on purpose.

Let's tell the truth: Some of our errors and bad judgments, whether consciously or not, are committed on purpose.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Worst Funeral Experience

The worst funeral experience I ever had was for a woman I didn't know. The old lady had suffered from dementia and been relocated to an out of town nursing home many years before. They brought her back to town to bury her. I was asked to do the honors.

Since I didn't know the lady I met with her daughter to find out something about her. "Tell me some good memories you have of your mother," I asked the daughter.
Her response surprised me."I can’t think of anything. She was a mean lady and a bad mother. I hated her."

I pressed her. After all, even Hitler probably helped a little old lady across the street when he was a boy. No one is completely bad. But she didn't break. She told abusive, neglective stories about her mother.

I’ve thought about that daughter a lot through the years. And do you know what? I think it was the daughter who was mean.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My First Funeral in Houston

My first funeral in Houston was a memorable experience. The deceased requested a New Orleans jazz band at the graveside. It was cool. I really liked it.

When it came time for the service to begin the band became quiet and I started to talk. I don’t remember anything I said. All I can remember is how muggy and how hot it was on that July day. The mosquitoes were out in full force. They had declared war on us.

The mother-in-law of the deceased decided to put an end to the mosquitoes. She reached into her purse and pulled out the "Off". She sprayed it on her legs; she sprayed it on the legs of the people around her; she sprayed it in the air. But it wasn’t mosquito repellent, it was mace. Talk about scattering the crowd!

Leave it to your mother-in-law to have the last word.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


When many family members go to funerals they wonder what they may inherit: money, furniture, and jewelry. I do a lot of funerals and sometimes I can close my eyes and see buzzards circling overhead waiting to see what is available to devour.

When my grandmother died it was different. My grandmother was poor. She didn't have any money and few possessions so all the grandchildren brought a checkbook to the services. We pooled our resources and paid for the funeral.

I didn't inherit any physical assets from my grandmother's estate, but I will be indebted to her for as long as I live. Most of what I know and believe I got from her. And, one of the great joys of my life was helping to pay for her funeral.

Friday, October 28, 2011


I love the story about the man who was anxious and nervous all the time. One day a friend saw him and he was completely transformed. He was calm and serene.

The friend asked, "What has come over you? You seem so tranquil. How did you overcome your nervousness?"

The man responded, "It's an interesting story. I read an ad in the newspaper about a man you could hire to do all your worrying for you. So I hired him and now I do not worry about anything. It has made a huge difference."

"That's wonderful," the friend said in amazement. "How much does he charge you?"

"$10,000 a day," answered the man.

"How can you afford $10,000 a day?" asked the friend. "That's a lot of money!"
To which the man replied, "That's his worry."

Believe it or not, the Bible says we have a Creator who knows us and loves us. He has invited us to cast all our worries upon Him because He cares about us.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Bobby Jones was one of the early founders of American golf. He built the Augusta National where the Masters Tournament is played. He was also a man of great integrity.

One day Bobby was addressing a ball in the rough. His club touched a twig which caused his ball to move ever so slightly. He turned to his caddy and said, "That will cost me one stroke." The caddy responded, "That will not be necessary. I did not see the ball move and I'm sure no one else saw it move either." Mr. Jones answered, "But I saw it move and I have to live with me."

That's the best reason to live in integrity and to always do the right thing that I've ever heard: because you know what the right thing to do is and you have to live with you.
Never violate your own integrity. It doesn't matter whether anybody else knows about it or not. You know about it and you have to live with you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Stress does terrible things to us, doesn't it? You know, we start the day determined to get our eating under control and as the day progresses we eat more and more. Nervous eating, we call it.

For breakfast we have half of a grapefruit, a bowl of low-fat, low-carb cereal with skim milk, and a cup of coffee with non-fat creamer.

For lunch we have a four ounce chicken breast, one cup of steamed zucchini, one Oreo cookie, and a cup of herb tea.

For a mid afternoon snack we have six Oreos and a diet Coke.

For supper we have six pieces of pizza, a Greek salad, two beers, and a triple dip of ice cream.

Then late at night we eat the rest of the package of Oreos, the rest of the pizza, a peanut butter sandwich, half of a gallon of butter pecan ice cream, and three wine coolers.

Stress is deadly.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Miserable People

How would you like to become a miserable person?

No doubt some of you would. If so, just follow my simple, seven-step formula and I guarantee you, you'll be miserable:

1. Think about yourself all the time.
2. Talk about yourself all the time.
3. Never forgive people's slights or criticisms.
4. Always expect to be recognized and appreciated, and, if you don't get it, respond with resentment.
5. Be envious of those who have more and get breaks that don't come your way.
6. Do as little as possible for others and expect as much as possible for yourself.
7. Believe and act as if the whole world revolves around you.

The truth is that the more self-centered you are, the more likely you are to be perfectly miserable.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Greatest Disappointment

My greatest disappointment about people is that their memories are so short-lived. No matter how much you have done for them in the past, they tend to see you only in terms of the issue at hand. The past slate, which involves their indebtedness to you, is wiped clean and you find yourself indebted to them.

Their attitude is not, "But I remember what you have done for me in the past." It is, "What have you done for me lately?"

When someone does something you do not appreciate or approve of, before you write them off or condemn them, ask yourself two questions:

     • Has this person done anything good for me in the past that I need to take into consideration?
     • How would I want to be treated if the situation was reversed?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chadds Ford

The famous artist N.C. Wyeth lived in a rural Pennsylvania village called Chadds Ford. It was there that he illustrated some of the books I read as a child: Treasure Island, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Yearling.

Recently I toured his home and studio. The tour guide told us the tragic story of Wyeth's death. He and his grandson were in a car that stalled out at a railroad crossing. Rather than removing his grandson from the car and running for his life, leaving the car to be destroyed, N.C. Wyeth tried to push the car to safety. The result was that Wyeth and his grandson were both killed and the car was obliterated.

Sometimes in life you have to choose between people and things. If you choose things, people are often destroyed as an unintended consequence. Always choose people.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Goofy Theories

People come up with some pretty goofy theories.

I have a single friend who won't date anyone who doesn't have long earlobes. She says that successful men all have long earlobes.

Not long ago a Canadian psychologist announced that men with index fingers which are short compared with their ring fingers have problems with anger.

When I was a boy, many folks believed that the size of your forehead determined how smart you were.

Silly statements like these are how prejudices are formed. People are all different - the length of your earlobes, your forehead, and your index fingers not withstanding.

If we could spend as much time embracing people with unconditional love as we do categorizing, differentiating and branding people, we'd be a lot better off.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Key To Life

Have you ever heard the name Edgar Bergen? He was perhaps the greatest ventriloquist to have ever lived. Ventriloquism is the art of training one's voice so as to make it sound like it is coming from a non-human object.

Here is the way Edgar Bergen found his vocation. As a youngster he ordered a book on photography. The mail order company sent the wrong book; they sent a book on ventriloquism. Edgar Bergen couldn't afford to send the book back, so he kept it and read it.

Bergen became fascinated with ventriloquism. He made a wooden dummy and called it "Charlie McCarthy." The rest is history. Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy became a world-class entertainment duo.

The key to life is taking what life gives you and using it for something good.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Diplomatic Banquet

There is a story about a diplomatic banquet that was held in London in about 1850. Queen Victoria was hosting a dinner in honor of a visiting African Chieftain.

The evening was going well. The food was good. The table conversation was interesting. But after the meal was over the waiters brought a finger bowl and placed it in front of every one of the diners. They were supposed to politely make sure that their hands were unsoiled.

The Chieftain, bless his heart, had never seen a finger bowl and didn't know what to do with it. So he looked at it, took it with both hands, put it to his lips and drank the water in it.

Well, every one of those high society, dignified Brits were aghast. It was a scandal. The whispering began until Queen Victoria picked up her finger bowl and downed its contents. Slowly each guest followed her lead.

It is more important to make people feel at home than it is to practice proper etiquette.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lie Detectors

Do you know how lie detectors work? They measure your heart rate, breathing, and other indicators from your nervous system to determine whether or not you are telling the truth in response to a series of questions you are asked.

Evidently our bodies are biased toward truth and honesty and when we violate our own integrity, our bodies respond in kind. When we lie, our bodies telegraph "that is not the truth."

Do you know why this is so? It is because we are created in the image of the One who is integrity, truth, and fidelity.

Do not violate your nature. Tell the truth even if it gets you in trouble.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

People Are Watching

Isak Dinesen's book Out of Africa tells the story about a Kenyan tribesman appearing at the door of the book's heroine in Nairobi to ask for employment. She said, "Yes" and he turned out to be a marvelous servant.

After three months of employment he came and asked for a letter of recommendation saying he wanted to go to Mombassa to wait for a Muslim sheik. Upset that she was losing him as an employee, she offered him higher wages.

He said, "No." That he had taken a job with her because she was a Christian. Now he wanted to work for a Muslim for three months. After observing a person of each religion for three months, he wanted to decide for himself which was the true religion.

The heroine was aghast. She said, "I wish you would have told me why you were here. I would have tried to treat you better."

People are watching.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Scott Wesley Brown has a poem I like. It is called Things.

Things on the mantle,
Things on every shelf,
Things that others gave me,
Things I gave myself,
Things I've stored in boxes That don't mean much anymore,
Old magazines and memories Behind the attic door,
Things on hooks and hangers,
Things on ropes and rings,
Things I have that blind me
To the pettiness of things.
For discarded in the junkyard
And rusting in the rain
Are the things that took
The finest years of a lifetime to obtain.
And whistling through the tombstones
The hollow breezes sing
A song of dreams surrendered
To the tyranny of things.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Human Relationships

Let me teach you a little trick about human relationships. When you first meet a person, it is our natural tendency to be negative - to see the person's flaws, shortcomings, and idiosyncrasies. We get defensive, compare them to ourselves, and do our best to come to a positive conclusion about ourselves.

But then after we have known them a while and we see them less as a threat, we start seeing the good things about them - their strengths, their abilities, the special things about them that make them unique.

Here's the trick: when you are in a critical mood, keep your mouth shut. Do not say anything negative to them or about them. Wait for it to pass and for positive thoughts to come. And then speak to them and about them with these admirable qualities in mind.

This is important because what you say about others both reveals who you are and shapes what you become.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"the wisdom of Pooh"

The other day a friend died. She was only fifty-two years old, but she had suffered her entire lifetime. She contracted polio when she was two and spent her entire life in a wheelchair. She had every disease you have ever heard of – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure. You name it and she had it. Yet she was patient, bright, upbeat, non-complaining and grateful.

My friend's secret was that she did not compare her situation with the life of the people around her. She practiced what she called "the wisdom of Pooh."

My friend had two dogs - a small dog and a large dog. The small dog’s name was "Pooh." She was always impressed that Pooh did not compare her food portion with the portion given the larger dog. Pooh simply savored the food she was given, eating it slowly and enjoying every morsel.

My friend practiced "the wisdom of Pooh." So should we all.

Friday, October 14, 2011


When I was a little boy, many shoe stores had an unusual machine called a fluoroscope. It was designed to help customers see whether or not the shoe fit.

The problem was that the fluoroscope was actually an x-ray machine. You see, in those days we did not know that x-rays were dangerous and that the human body can only receive a limited amount of x-rays in a lifetime.

If you have ever received an x-ray, you know that the technicians hide behind lead-filled walls. That means being a shoe salesman in the 1950's was a high risk vocation!
You can see one of those old fluoroscope machines on display at the Children's Museum here in the Museum District of Houston.

I suspect there are things we take for granted as normal and good today that one day we will see was hurtful and destructive. What do you reckon they are?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homes of Famous Persons

One of my favorite activities is to visit the homes of famous persons. Once we visited the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. It was built by William Randolph Hearst, who was a publishing magnate from the 1920s - 1940s.

The house is located in a lovely spot overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but it feels gaudy and chaotic. It is a concrete grandiosity. One of the questions I ask when I visit famous houses is, "Were the people who lived here happy?" The answer is usually, "No."

If you have ever seen the classic movie Citizen Kane, you know that William Randolph Hearst was a rich, miserable guy.

When it comes down to it, I'd rather live in a house and have a happy life with my wife and children by my side than to live a lonely, friendless life in a castle.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Little League Baseball

Not long ago I witnessed a little league baseball game. The kids were all decked out in beautiful uniforms. They had expensive, name-brand equipment. Parents and grandparents were out in numbers to cheer and support.

The only problem was that most of the kids were not very good. At least I didn't see any of them that looked like future major league prospects.

So why would children with mediocre baseball talent want to play on a baseball team? I meditated on that question for a long time and I think I have the answer. It is the uniform. People who participate on the team get a uniform that they get to keep. And that uniform signifies that they belong, they’re part of the team.

The bottom line is that we all need to know we belong. And after all, better a baseball team than a gang.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Conversation at the gym

A fellow walked up to me at the gym the other day and asked, "Hey, are you really a preacher?" I assumed he meant the question as a compliment, that I did not look like a clergy-type, so I answered, "Yep, I'm a preacher."

"Wow," he sighed, "Does that mean like you marry people?"

I drew another conclusion-that he was looking for someone to tie the knot for him. Reluctantly I said, "Yes, I do."

And he surprised me. He asked, "Well, what’s your track record? How many of the folks you marry end up getting divorced?"

I was stunned. No one had ever asked me that question. Finally I said, "I don’t keep statistics on it, but I don’t suspect it’s a record to be proud of."

I’ve been thinking about that conversation ever since. I sure am glad that the One I worship and adore grades on the curve.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Guiding Principles

About fifteen years ago a friend lovingly confronted me with the possibility that maybe I did not believe everything I said I believed. His words pierced my heart. I asked myself, "Could he be right?" After all, I do not want to be afraid of the truth.

Beginning that day I began to revisit my stated belief system. I made two major discoveries.

First, I found out that my friend was right. A lust for certainty had driven me to embrace answers to questions that were not mine. I did not really believe everything I said I believed.

Secondly, I came to the freeing conclusion that I did not have to have an answer to every question.

I am less sure of my positions on controversial issues than I was many years ago. But I feel better about it than I once did, because I’m being more honest.

Hear the good news! You do not have to have an answer to every question.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Guiding Principles

Today and tomorrow I'd like to share two guiding principles that have shaped my adult life.
The first principle is that you do not ever have to be afraid of the truth.

I know people who are defensive about their belief systems. They hold to their stated beliefs with tenacity. They refuse to doubt or to question. They avoid people who call their beliefs into question. When information that contradicts their view is presented, they call the sincerity of the presenter into question. They are like children putting fingers in their ears, refusing to listen.

But being afraid of the truth is a dangerous posture.

I'm not afraid of people losing their faith. I'm afraid of people having a faith that is infantile and undeveloped.

Never be afraid of the truth.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


The only thing constant in life is change.
Most of us operate on the illusion that things are going to stay the same – that what we build: our businesses, our homes, our relationships, and our savings, will endure.

Accompanying this illusion is the false hope that there are things we can do which will cause us to gain control of our future. If we work hard, save our money, and get to know the right folks, then our future will be a smooth, trouble-free existence.

But, my experience is that life never works out the way we drew it up in the playbook. It presents us with problems and ambiguities that we did not anticipate.

Regardless of how much planning we do, we always end up having to call a lot of audibles.

Therefore, the attribute we need most in life is wisdom.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Your Secert Self

If you feel an aversion to someone, chances are it is because you are repulsed by something you see in them that is also within you.

Also, the criticisms that hurt us the most are the ones which echo our own self-condemnation.

Consequently, if you want to understand yourself better, look carefully at two things:
  • the qualities in others that irritate you;
  • and the comments others make that cause you to become defensive.
These two things will tell you a lot about your secret self.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


The reason we get so upset when we have to wait is because we think the only thing that counts in life is the destination. We want to arrive at our destination quickly, with as few interruptions as possible.

But life is not about destinations. It is about the trip, the process, the going - including the interruptions.

Life is not about finishing the degree so that you can earn a living. It is about learning.

Life is not about hurrying through your dating life so you can find the right person to get married to. It is about getting to know a variety of people and enjoying being with them.

Life is not about hurrying down the highway so you can be the first to arrive. It is about enjoying the trip and being at peace with yourself as you travel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Kind of Listener Are You?

President Franklin Roosevelt once became aware that the people around him were not really listening to him. So, he decided to try an experiment. As people came through the receiving line to greet him, he smiled and said calmly, "I just murdered my grandmother."

"Good for you," "I'm glad to hear it." Excellent, keep it up." "We are proud of you," came the responses.

Only one person coming through the line appeared to hear what President Roosevelt had said. It was the Prime Minister of Bolivia. His response was, "I'm sure she deserved it."

Do you pay attention to what the people around you are saying? What kind of listener are you?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Problem Free"

The thing that separates us from people that we want to be near is the desire to appear to have no problems. We do not want people to find out that we are:
  • weak,
  • immature,
  • strange,
  • stupid,
  • undeveloped, or
  • broken.
So we construct a false self – a facade of normalcy.
Once we have established a false self, we have to maintain the secret. Then we start believing that our false "problem free" self is our real self.

Dating is often two false selves trying to be intimate. It is obviously impossible. Sooner or later our sham becomes exposed. The alternatives are then estrangement or maintaining a dysfunctional relationship.

If we could only get comfortable with being who we are and being honest in how we represent ourselves, then we would have a chance at intimacy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

One Thing Life Has Taught Me

If you determine the value of who you are or what you do by the results of your effort, you doom yourself to the fear of failure.

If there is one thing life has taught me, it is that results are unpredictable. Results have everything to do with circumstances, context, and timing - things beyond our control. I have seen people do virtually everything right and get a negative result. Conversely, I have seen people do almost everything wrong and get a positive result. Go figure.

Rather than worrying about results, we should focus on process. If you do your best and your effort is an expression of your true self, you are a success regardless of the outcome. We should be rewarded "in" our actions, not only "by" them.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

More Random Thoughts

Here are a few more random thoughts:
  • Making demands and giving ultimatums creates pressure on people and people crumble under pressure; more important, it's unloving.
  • If you are in a relationship with someone who is opposite from you in almost every respect; you've got the right person; we unconsciously choose partners who are a reposit of our weaknesses.
  • Love is not the same thing as affection; it is how we choose to act regardless of how others act toward us.
  • Charlie Brown was right: "Friends come and friends go, but enemies accumulate."
  • When we are bored, the discontent originates inside us.
  • Each of us carries in our heart the capacity to commit the crimes we read about in the newspaper, provided the right opportunities exist.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More Random Thoughts

Here are a few more random thoughts:
  • The idea that money can protect you is an illusion.
  • The key to effective parenting is in saying "yes" as often as possible and saying "no" as infrequently as possibly; but, there must be a few things, based on values, that you say "no" to consistently.
  • Sexual compatibility is not a weather vane of the health of a relationship.
  • The way to have good friendships is to enjoy your friends.
  • Here is a well kept secret: generosity is more satisfying and fun than greed.
  • One of ten biggest troubles in our world is that stupid people are sure and smart folks have doubts.
  • What you value and consider most important ends up determining who you are.
  • We Westerners are the only ones who think we have so much stuff now that another world is unnecessary.

Friday, September 30, 2011

More Random Thoughts

Here are a few more random thoughts:
  • Judgment sticks evaluative labels on people that create fear, but real love peels them off.
  • If you have a question about whether to say, do or buy something, don't.
  • Professional critics are better at finding fault than at giving praise; so are amateur critics.
  • We chisel our own epitaph by the way we live our lives. The human ego is an addict; it gets hooked on overindulgence or deprivation of self.
  • Be careful how many rigid stands you take on issues; one day you may have to eat a bouquet of previous opinions.
  • Never make a decision because of past regrets or future anxieties; let peace guide your decision process.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More Random Thoughts

Here are a few more random thoughts:
  • There are three stages of friendship: first, we see each other's virtues; next, we see each other’s faults; then we just see each other.
  • The people who irritate us most are often shouting, "Will you please notice me?"
  •  Many times what we call communication is talking at someone or talking about something with them; no, communication is sharing our feelings, longings, and needs with another person.
  • Only when you trust a friend or a peer are you able to occasionally express anger at them without fear of losing the relationship.
  • Never trust a person who says, "I don't care what people think." They will lie about other things as well.
  • We love other people best when they are busy themselves; we love ourselves best when we are being ourselves.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Some Random Thoughts

Here are some random thoughts that have come to me recently:
  • When it comes to a choice of being right or being human, always choose to be human.
  • People are uninformed more than they are wrong.
  • If I have to ask myself if I am hungry, I'm not.
  • Examine your lies and they will tell you in what areas and with which people you feel inadequate.
  • Only when you accept your faults will you be able to accept your virtues.
  • People who try to make general statements that cover every exception are demonstrating their shallowness.
  • Profanity makes the mistake of fixing the other person's attention on words rather than thoughts.
  • Perfectionism is a slow death caused by the fear of making a mistake.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

High School Basketball Game

When I was a junior in high school, my peers talked me into playing basketball for the first time. I was tall, but gangly and awkward.

In one of the first big games, I faced a 6'9", three-sport All American named Randy Mahaffey. He later went on to be an NCAA All American, and spent several years in the NBA.

To say I was outmatched would be a huge understatement. Half-way through the second quarter I became frustrated and balled up my fists for a fight. Randy looked at me and said, "Calm down, Jackson," and proceeded to lope down the court.

The coach took me out of the game. His first words were, "I just saved your life, son."

I learned that day that truly strong people – people who are secure and have nothing to prove can walk away from a fight.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Never get too sold on your own theories. After all, theories are just theories, not realities.
Everyone who knows me well knows that I'm full of theories. People who think manufacture theories. At least that's my theory.

The problem with theories is that they are inevitably proven to be false - or at least to have exceptions.

What do we do with our theories when they do not prove to be fact? Some of us stick with them. We preach them, propagate them, and push them on other people even though in our heart of hearts we know our theory doesn’t work. It is a form of intellectual myopia.

And why do we engage in this mental dishonesty? Because we are afraid of developing new ways of thinking.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Do you believe in miracles?

Let me tell you about a genuine miracle. It is the fact that you are alive. You woke up breathing this morning.

You did nothing to deserve birth. You had no right to live even a single minute. Your life is an undeserved, unrepayable gift.

You have likely had a friend your own age die. Why are you alive when he or she is not? It is not because you are more deserving. Your life is a gift.

You may die tomorrow, and that is okay. We will all die one day. But today you are alive. You have the privilege-the grace-of being here for another day.

And that, my friend, is a miracle.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Some Ideas

Here are some ideas that have floated through my brain recently:
  • Accepting responsibility is not the same as accepting blame.
  • No single person who was ever born was a mistake.
  • Never underestimate the human capacity for selfishness.
  • Habits are changed by additions not subtractions.
  • Marital sex is a form of relational laughter.
  • Getting even is a lazy form of grief.
  • Live as if everything you do and say will eventually be known.
  • There is a time to make things happen and a time to let whatever is going to happen just happen; know what time it is.
  • Make your peace with the fact that when you go to your grave the things you care about most will be unfinished

Friday, September 23, 2011


One fall, a Native American chief instructed the members of his tribe to gather firewood for the winter. Shortly afterward he decided to contact the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to see if the government knew anything about the severity of the upcoming winter.

The representative of the Bureau told him the winter was predicted to be severe, so he told the members of his tribe to increase their stores of firewood.

Again he called the Bureau to inquire about what they knew about the upcoming winter. This time they told him it was predicted to be the coldest winter in many years – perhaps even the coldest ever.

"How do you know for sure?" asked the chief. The Bureau representative answered, "Because the Indians are gathering firewood like crazy!"

That story is a parable about a lot of people I know.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Favorite Athletic Teams

Did you ever wonder why people are so passionately supportive of their favorite athletic team? It usually has something to do with support for their university or their city's professional team. But I believe it goes even further than that.

I believe it is a throw back to an era when humans moved in small, closely-related clans. Each clan had members who foraged for food and fought to protect the group. If your warriors defeated your neighbors' warriors, it meant your clan was superior.

Our athletic teams are our warriors. If you don't believe it, listen to the cheers: "Kill'em!" When we sit in the stands cheering, we are essentially watching our soldiers doing battle against the soldiers of the enemy tribe.

Come to think about it, maybe we take sports too seriously.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Want Inner Peace?

Do you want inner peace? Here are ten suggestions that I believe will increase your peace quotient:
1. Listen to the voice of your Creator saying, "There is going to be enough." Say, "No" to the voice of fear.
2. Walk away from conflicts. Just let things go.
3. Refuse to evaluate or judge the motives of others.
4. Stop competing or comparing yourself with others.
5. Think of something you are grateful for every hour.
6. Smile a lot.
7. Let go of the need to control things or people.
8. Consciously enjoy each moment of your day.
 9. Stop multi-tasking.
10. Pray constantly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Just in case you are not feeling very good about yourself, receive these words of affirmation:
  •  You are unique, precious, and wonderful - just the way you are.
  • You are breathing and alive, so no matter what your situation is, there is hope.
  •  Certainly things are not perfect. Of course you face difficult challenges and hard choices. Nevertheless, you have what it takes to turn the situation you are in into something meaningful, productive, and good.
  •  You have a lot to be grateful for today. You are extremely fortunate to be where you are and to have the opportunities you have. You are blessed.
  •  The path that leads to the best in life is the one you are on. All it takes is for you to do your best.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Would you like to become a more spiritual person? I've got the answer for you, and it is simpler than you likely have imagined. If you want to be a spiritual person, do spiritual things. Spiritual is as spiritual does.

If you want to be a person of prayer, pray.

If you want to be a generous person, start giving away things that your flesh says you need to hold on to.

If you want to be a student of the scriptures, read and study the holy books.

If you want to be a contemplative person, then meditate. It is not about calling yourself spiritual or appearing to be spiritual.

It's about doing spirituality. Remember, spiritual is as spiritual does.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lesson Learned

I'll tell you what I've learned from Alcoholics Anonymous: the best way to help yourself is to help someone else.

People think "the twelve steps" are the basis of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is an important part of the program, but frankly, it was not original to the movement. It got added later.

The most important principle in AA is that we stay sober by helping others to stay sober.
It is a principle that affects every aspect of life. If you are struggling with grief, help someone else going through grief. If you are a cancer survivor, give aid to other cancer survivors. If you are depressed, assist someone else suffering from the dark night of the soul.

The best way to help yourself is to help someone else.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

For No Good Reason

There is nothing in life that feels better than acceptance. Acceptance is unconditional, positive regard. It is the essence of true love.

Acceptance means you don't have to prove anything. You are not being measured, judged, or evaluated. It means you are alright, acceptable just like you are. When you are accepted, it means you're okay; you're not on a performance basis.

When you truly accept people just as they are - with all their issues, faults, and problems, the best way to explain it is not to try to explain it. Why do you accept me as I am? "For no good reason;" that's why.

When you love someone, it's not because of what he or she has or will do. If it is, then that person has to fear not being loved because of not doing or having. The best explanation for love and acceptance is "for no good reason."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Clergy People

If I confess something to you, will you promise not to tell anyone?

Most folks think clergy people-the folks with religious titles on the front of their names-have some sort of special spiritual advantage over the average person. The fact that they've been to seminary or have an advanced theological degree means they don't struggle with the temptations, problems, or desires that their next door neighbors fight. You know what? That's a false assumption.

Clergy are just people. There are not three sexes-male, female, and clergy. There are just males and females. And all of us are subject to the same struggles.

So, when you meet a clergy person, don't put him or her on a pedestal. And remember that you have the privilege of being as close to your Creator as they do.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Live in The Moment

There was once a movement in Greek philosophy called Epicureanism. The bottom line is that life is brief, and we should drink deeply from the well of life now. The Epicureans said, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."

The Epicureans were partially correct. We should live "in the moment" but not necessarily "for the moment." Pure Epicureanism is living "for the moment," which will produce disaster for you now and later.

Conversely, living "in the moment" will help you to appreciate and savor what is happening to you. It focuses your energy on what you are doing. It keeps you from getting stuck in the guilt of the past or the anxiety about tomorrow.
Live "in the moment" – not "for the moment."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Asian Folk Tale

There is an Asian folk tale about an elderly monk who was meditating peacefully when a young monk came up to him to give him a message. The young monk attempted to break the older monk’s concentration. After all, the message he was bringing was urgent.

After several failed attempts to break the elderly monk's concentration, the young monk sat down and waited.

After some time the senior monk stopped his meditation and prepared to leave. The young monk began to question him about why he did not respond earlier. Without hesitation, the elder responded, "My son, when someone offers you a gift. it is not yours until you accept it."

There are a lot of people around you who are going to offer you gifts that you should not take. Do you know what I mean?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Return To Sender

During the dawn of the "rock and roll" era, Elvis Presley sang a ballad called Return to Sender. The song is a lament. He grieves that his girlfriend wrote "Return to Sender" on his love letters and handed them back to the postman. Each one of us who has ever been rejected in love can identify with Elvis' sadness as he sings the song.

But the truth is that when a person no longer wants to be with you, you are better off without that person. To try to hold onto a dead relationship only prolongs the pain. You don't need a love in your life that doesn't really want to be with you.

It stings to be spurned, to have someone tell you that he/she doesn't want you any more. But, in the long run, this kind of honesty is a gift. In this way both parties are free to lick their wounds and move on to a relationship that works better.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Palm Sunday 1865

The day was Palm Sunday, April 19, 1865. General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Confederate Army, mounted his horse, Traveler, and road to Appomattox, Virginia, to surrender his sword to General Ulysses S. Grant, Commander of the Union Army. Lee expected to be humiliated, shackled, herded like a cow to a Union prison, tried, and executed as a traitor. There in that tiny living room, Lee surrendered unconditionally to Grant and offered him his sword. Grant refused it and allowed Lee to leave in dignity and honor. As Lee mounted Traveler and road back to his troops, Grant took off his hat and saluted his vanquished foe.

That occasion left a deep and lasting impression on Lee. As long as he lived, Lee refused to allow anyone to speak ill of Grant in his presence.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Good Thing or A Bad Thing

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether what happens to you is a good thing or a bad thing. There were two middle aged women who encountered one another. They had not seen one another in sometime.

One said, "By the way, I just got married."
"How wonderful," answered her friend.
"Not necessarily; he's twice my age," came the reply.
"Oh, that's bad," said her friend. "Not necessarily, he has built me a million dollar house," said the newlywed.
"That's great," chimed her friend.
"Not necessarily, it burned yesterday," she answered.
"How sad," she said in a comforting tone.
"Not necessarily, my husband was in it."

Do you get the point? When something you think is bad happens, sometimes it is the means by which good flows into your life.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pain is a Two-Person Dance

Believe it or not, you are in charge of how you respond to other people.
  • No one can make you feel inferior without you permission.
  • No one can make you angry without your permission.
  • No one can frighten you without your permission.
  • No one can make you feel guilty without your permission.
  • No one can make your response shame without your permission.
  • No one can offend you without your permission.
  • It takes your participation for someone to suck you under with their words, actions, or attitudes.
Pain is a two-person dance. One leads, and the other follows. The good news is you can choose to lead. You can decide what emotions will govern your life. Nothing can control you without your permission.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Life is Like a Card Game

Life is a lot like a card game. You've got to learn to play with the cards you are dealt.
If you can replace your cards, good, go ahead and do so. If you can't, make the most of the cards you have been dealt.

Let's face it, all of us have been dealt a less than perfect hand. Our parents didn't have halos. We have weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and dark sides. Some of us even have disabilities. But these do not have to doom us.

I'm dyslexic. But, I know dozens of people who have my disability who are high achievers - CEO's, university professors, and business owners.

How is this possible? They learned how to play with the cards they were dealt. They organized their cards, kept their wits, refused to tip their hand, and learned to play a smart hand.

You can do the same.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

You Are in Charge

Has it ever occurred to you that you are not who you think you are? In other words, your thoughts about yourself may be lying to you.

I know people who have negative, condemning thoughts about themselves. They would slap someone else who spoke to them the way their self-talk communicates with them all the time. They are cruel and heartless, not to other people but to themselves.

Don't let your thoughts get away with abusing you. They are telling you lies, and these lies can become self-fulfilling, thus creating havoc in your life.

You are in charge. You can decide today to listen only to the internal voices which speak truth – that you are unique, wonderful, and precious. Tell all other thoughts to get out.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


We put people in categories, don't we?

Italians are emotional. The Scotch are frugal. Football players are dumb. Redheads have tempers.

I've heard physicians refer to their patients by disease and room number—"The hip replacement in 409." Attorneys refer to people as "plaintiff" or "defendant."

We categorize people in order to make life easier for ourselves. By categorizing folks, we can pigeon-hole them and relate to them in a pre-determined way. Never mind if they do not fit all the characteristics. Refuse labels.

Don’t let people categorize you. Choose to be yourself.

I'm Caucasian. I'm an alcoholic. I'm dyslexic. I'm a pastor. No, I'm not. Those are labels. I'm Jim Jackson.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stronger Person

Anything that doesn't destroy you can make you a stronger person.

One of the strongest young men I knew was held back in the seventh grade. For years his greatest fear was having to repeat a grade, and suddenly it happened. But, rather than letting it defeat him, he used it as a benefit. The worst happened, and the world didn't end. So why be afraid of the worst happening?

Today that young man is a professional who owns a successful business. He is an entrepreneur who refuses to allow the fear of failure to rob him of success.

How did he become this kind of dynamic person? By choosing not to allow his early failure to define him.

Remember, anything that does not destroy you can make you a stronger person.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Michelangelo was a genius. He was a philosopher, artist, sculptor, and musician. The secret of his achievements, however, was not brilliance, but hard work. He said, "If people knew how hard I have to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful to them."

Thomas Edison said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." We think high achievers get there because they are prodigies, naturals. That's an insult.

The professional athletes we see on television who make it look so easy work at it long hours every day, twelve months a year.

The professional musicians who make it look so easy work at their craft several hours each day.

So, if you want to be successful, do the work.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Someone said, "If the horse you are riding dies, dismount." In other words, if what you are doing is not working, you’ve got to change something.

Apparently this is a difficult concept for some folks to figure out. So, they go through life repeating the same mistakes over and over. They whine, complain, belly-ache, but they refuse to make the changes necessary to alter the situation.

The principle is, "If nothing changes, nothing changes."

You know the classic definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Stop complaining and ask yourself what needs to be changed. Get help from a counselor if it is necessary. Then, take courage and change the things that need to change.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Surviving a Huge Loss

I buried the child of a church member the other day. How do you survive the death of your child? How do you carry on?

In 1980, a thirteen-year-old California girl was killed by a drunk driver. Her mother began an organization called MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Drivers - which has transformed the legal code and no doubt saved thousands of lives.

Rabbi Harold Kushner who lost his son struggled with the question , "Why?" and wrote his best selling book Why Bad Things Happen to Good People as a result. His struggles with grief have helped countless people.

How do you survive a huge loss? You process your pain and then use it to bless someone else whose wounds are fresher than yours.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Subjective Truth

Earlier in my life, I gave up on subjective truth. I decided to only believe in things I could see, prove, and hold in my hands. But, life has taught me that subjective truth is more real than objective truth.

For example, is a rock real? Not really. Scientists will tell you that all matter is composed of atoms, and atoms are mostly empty space – a few particles circulating in empty space. Even the nucleus of the atom, as well as the protons and neutrons inside the nucleus, are largely empty space.

If you took the massive Rock of Gibraltar and took out all the empty space, it would be microscopic in size. There are no solids in the universe.

I have come to believe that subjective reality is more real than objective reality. So, don't neglect non-material, spiritual things – like faith, hope, and love. They matter more than all the matter in the world.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ability to Foresee The Future

Sometimes it is hard to look at things as they are and imagine how anything good could come out of it.

Who, looking at an egg, could imagine a magnificent eagle coming from it? An egg bears no resemblance to an eagle.

During World War II who could have foreseen that Japan and Germany would one day be friends and political-economic allies?

In my boyhood, the Soviet Union was "the evil empire" and our cold war enemy. Today the Soviet Union no longer exists and the "Iron Curtain" is ancient history. Who could have foreseen this?

Because none of us has the ability to foresee the future, we can never know enough to be hopeless. So if your situation is bad, and it looks like nothing good could possibly come out of it, hold on. Things can turn around

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Helen Keller

When she was only nineteen months old, Helen Keller was struck with a fever that left her deaf and blind. Despite the enormity of her hardship, she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, wrote several books, and worked tirelessly for peace and human rights.

How did she overcome her disabilities and achieve such incredible things? Two forces converged to make it possible. One was the intervention of her teacher, Anne Sullivan. The other factor was the iron will of Helen Keller herself.

You too can overcome any obstacle in life if you have this powerful one-two combination: having a friend who truly believes in you and having dogged determination with the refusal to quit.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Most therapists agree that our self-image is initially formed by the response of others. It is as though parents and other authority figures are holding up a mirror to us. If we see affirmation in their faces, we are likely to think highly of ourselves.

If their facial expressions are unfavorable, we begin to think negatively about ourselves. It's probably a little more complicated than that, but this is part of how our self-image was initially shaped.

Well, we are also image-makers in the lives of others. When the impressionable people around us see our face, what do they learn about themselves? Do they read a favorable or unfavorable impression of themselves on the mirror of our face? Are we giving them a positive or a negative image of themselves?

Watch your face. It is a mirror.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Party Phone Lines

When I was a boy, everyone I knew was on a "party" phone line. There were six families on our phone line. If the phone rang twice, that meant it was for us.

 The favorite indoor sport of all youngsters was to listen in on other people's telephone conversations. I cannot tell you how many times I have had a neighbor shout at me, "Get off the phone! This is a private conversation!"

All sorts of myths developed around having heard parts of telephone conversations. We were convinced that a girl in our neighborhood washed her hair with "Tide" detergent, because she had wild hair and we heard her mention the "Tide" soap powder in a phone message.

Beware of rumors that circulate about people. Be skeptical of them. And refuse to spread them.

Scuba Diving

Some day I'd like to go scuba diving. The people I know who practice the sport say it is wonderful.

 Scuba diving is safe - provided you don't try to dive too deep or stay down too long. You don't want to run out of oxygen. And when you surface, you've got to do so slowly, making periodic decompression stops at various levels. The longer you stay down, the slower you have to surface. This gives your body time to acclimate to the change in pressure.

Life is a lot like scuba diving. We need to learn to pace ourselves lest we run out of gas. The harder we work, the more important it is to chill out - to decompress from the stresses we have been under.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Two Questions

Two of the questions I often ask when people come to see me are, "What do you think you ought to do?" and "So, what are you going to do?"

The first question assumes people really know the right thing to do. Most of the time, I think they do.

The second question confronts folks with their responsibility to live by the highest and best they know.

 Sometime we know the right thing to do. We just don't want to do it. We want to go home, eat a half-gallon of ice cream or drink a bottle of wine, and feel sorry for ourselves. But that doesn't work, does it? The only thing that works is doing what we need to do instead of what we want to do.

 The two questions are: "What do you think you ought to do?" and "What are you going to do?"

Friday, August 26, 2011

See The Blueprint in Your Mind

Recently, social scientists made an amazing discovery. The mind cannot tell the difference between mental imaging and actual physical practice. If you visualize in your mind's eye that you are doing a thing, the mind cannot distinguish it from you actually doing what you visualize.

Athletes have learned this. If you see yourself hitting the ball, it helps you hit the ball. I am not saying that batting practice doesn't help. It does. But part of success in sports is between your ears, and this part can be accomplished as well by visualization as it can by practice.

Each of us needs to learn to visualize what we want. See the blueprint in your mind. See yourself completing the task. See it as already accomplished.

Jesus said, "As you believe, so shall it be done unto you."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Painful Experiences

One of the great secrets of life is to schedule your pain.
People who end up with big problems are the folks who do pain-avoidance. They put off unpleasant things like exercising, going to the dentist, having an annual physical exam, having their will drawn, doing their taxes, visiting a therapist.

It's better to schedule painful experiences. Put them on your calendar. Spread them out so they do not all come at one time. And then do them, whether you feel like doing them or not. It is better to suffer a small amount every now and then than to have greater pain, plus the agony of regret, later.

Trust me, it pays to schedule your pain. And don't forget to follow each painful experience with a scheduled pleasurable experience.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Sports Illustrated"

Have you ever worked hard, hoping someone would notice your achievements, but no one did?

I have a friend who is a high school football coach. One morning, as he was dressing to go to school, the phone rang. His wife said it was "Sports Illustrated." He was thrilled. He had just finished his third consecutive successful season and finally his efforts had come to the notice of that herald of truth, "Sports Illustrated." He gathered his thoughts and went to the phone. The person on the other end asked him to confirm his name and then said, " You can renew your subscription today for a special deal of only $29.95."

When disappointment happens to us, we need to do what my friend did. He laughed, got dressed, and went to work.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Finding Out What Your Core Beliefs Are

Would you like to discover what your core beliefs are? I’m not talking about what you ought to believe, but what you actually do believe. Your core - what's really important to you -what you'd be willing to die for.

Here's how to sort it out. Take a sheet of paper and write down "I believe ___________" twenty five times. Leave space to fill in the blanks later. Then set aside an hour to fill in the blanks. Don't worry about in what order you list them. This is just a free association list of core beliefs.

Then go back and order the list from 1 to 25 according to how important each is to you. At the end of the process, you'll have your core beliefs.

Go back and repeat the process every year to see how you have changed.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Some Hard Questions

Some people never live their life. Sadly, they live someone else's life. They live the life someone programmed them to live. I know people who hate what they do, but they cannot change. Why, you ask? Because someone else owns their life.

Are you living the life you have imagined or are you living the life someone imagined for you? Just who programmed you to do what you are doing? Is it you or someone else - your parents, your spouse, your peers, authority figures?

Ask yourself some hard questions: Who owns my life? Who or what controls my decisions? Am I living the life I imagined or someone else imagined for me?

And do I have the courage to choose the life I have imagined?

Sunday, August 21, 2011


There is a Greek myth about a sculptor named Pygmalion. He chiseled a statue of a perfect lady and then fell in love with it. The goddess of love was so impressed with the sculptor's love for the statue that she brought it to life. And they lived happily ever after.

George Bernard Shaw was so impressed with the myth that he wrote a play about a contemporary version of it called "Pygmalion." It was turned into a musical entitled "My Fair Lady." More recently, it was revised and updated again into a movie called "Pretty Woman."

The point of each of these - the myth, the play, and the movies - is that people can change. And the most transforming force in the world is love.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Internally or Externally Focused

Behavior scientists say that each of us is either internally or externally focused. If you are internally focused, it means your behavior is governed by what is happening inside you. If you are externally focused, it means your behavior is determined by what is happening around you.

It is obvious that externally focused people are not as happy as internally focused folk. They are perpetually reacting to events going on around them. Consequently they feel out of control.

Behavioral scientists say that most of us are 70% one-way and 30% the other. Either the external or the internal dominates in our life. They also say we can choose to shift the locus of control in our lives. Each of us would do well to be less externally focused and more internally focused.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Sometimes people ask me, "How can I forgive people who have hurt me?"

Here's a practical suggestion that might help. Make a list of the persons who have hurt you. Then divide t hem into two separate groups - assassins and idiots. Assassins are the people who purposely wanted to hurt you. They were malicious, cruel and intentional. They wanted to inflict pain on you. Idiots, on the other hand, did not intend you harm. They are just insensitive, bumbling fools.

Go ahead and forgive the idiots. After all, they are idiots.

Steer clear of the assassins. You still have not forgiven the assassins, but at least you have narrowed the list.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Welcome to The Club

I met a man the other day who claimed his problems were the result of being from a dysfunctional family. He blamed all his personal problems on his parents.

I want to let you in on a secret: there are no dysfunctional families. I've been a pastor for many years; I've counseled thousands of folks, and I've never seen a fully functional family. All families are dysfunctional! Welcome to the club.

Happiness is not something you inherit from a functional family. It is how you choose to pick up the broken pieces of your past and make something out of them. Quit blaming your parents. Accept responsibility for your life and choose to make something out of it.

Here is the good news: childhood trauma does not have to doom you to a life of misery.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Consistency and Patience

Sometimes people change as a result of some dramatic, life-altering crisis or trauma. But most of the time real, permanent change takes place slowly, incrementally.

Weight loss, for example. Experts say the only healthy way to lose weight and keep it off is to do it gradually. One pound per week seems to be the mutually agreed target. Sure, there are crash diets that will produce quick results. But soon the weight is back on. The reason why the slow, steady approach works better is that it gives you time to see yourself differently. And our bodies always end up looking like the way we view ourselves. So, one pound a week is about all we can handle. It usually took us years to put on the weight, and it will take time to shed it.

If you've got a habit that you need to break, the key is consistency and patience.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Hurry Sickness."

Many of us have what I call "hurry sickness."

When we are driving and moving toward a red light, we mentally calculate the number of cars in each lane and move toward the lane that we project will move the fastest. If we guess wrong, it makes us angry.

 When we are in the grocery store, we evaluate the lines before we get in one. As the checker processes the groceries in front of us, we calculate where we would be now if we had gotten in another line. Or if we are in one of those "15 items or under" lines, we count the items in the baskets of the people in front of us.

I call it "hurry sickness." We need to relax, breathe deeply and enjoy the trip. It doesn't matter who finishes first. Your great need is not to be faster but to live your life better.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Brand Consciousness

When children are small, they are immune to brand consciousness. They are more focused on substance than style. For little girls, it is a blue shirt. For boys, it's just a shirt. But neither of them cares what the label in the shirt says.

But it doesn't take us long to teach them brand consciousness. Pretty soon the label is more important than the shirt. In fact, in your person OK-ness, acceptability is dependent upon the label in your shirt.

Soon brand consciousness spreads out to affect everything in our lives - the car you drive, the neighborhood you live in, the school you go to. You are in or not in, cool or not cool, based upon these significant, economically driven criteria.

Let me say this clearly: Don't poison your soul with brand conscious thinking.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"The Gospel of Wealth."

In 1889, Andrew Carnegie, then the wealthiest person in the world, wrote an essay called "The Gospel of Wealth." In the paper, he laid out the core principles by which he lived.

Carnegie said he believed the wealthy were only temporary custodians of their bounty and they had a moral obligation to use their wealth to accomplish some common good. Mr. Carnegie said wealthy people should set an example of modesty, shunning ostentatious lifestyles and displays of extravagance.

Furthermore, Andrew Carnegie said the person who dies rich, dies disgraced - that people should give away their wealth while they are still living.

I grew up going to a library Mr. Carnegie's money built. His wealth built thousands of libraries all over America. Before he died, the Scottish immigrant had given away 95% of his wealth and blessed millions of people like me.