Thursday, May 31, 2012

One Does What One Can

There is an old Arab story about a young man who one day was riding on his donkey. He came upon a sparrow lying on its back in the road. The tiny creatures had two tiny legs pointing skyward.

At first the young man thought the sparrow was dead. But then he saw the bird move. The young man dismounted, went to the tiny creature, and asked, "Are you alright?"

"Yes," the sparrow answered. "Then what are you doing lying on your back with your legs pointing to the sky?" asked the young man.

"Haven't you heard?" asked the sparrow. "Soon heaven is going come crashing down to earth.."

"If it does" responded the Arab young man, "surely you do not think you are going to protect our world with those two scrawny legs."

The sparrow looked at him with a solemn face for a moment and then retorted, "One does what one can."

That little sparrow had a point. We cannot do everything, but we can and we should do what we can.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Texas once had a Governor named Pat Neff. He served the state from 1921-25. It is said that once a year he would go to one of the prisons to make a speech. Afterwards he would linger to speak with anyone who wanted to make a case for his early release.

One by one they would file by to tell him they were innocent victims of a flawed judicial system. But on one trip to a Texas prison Mr. Neff heard a different story.

The man said, "Governor, I don't want to take up much of your time. I just want you to know that I was guilty of what they convicted me for. But when my debt to society is paid I intend to live an honorable life."

Governor Neff stood up, turned to the prison warden and said, "I hereby commute this man's sentence to the time served. Get this guilty man out of here before he corrupts all these other innocent prisoners!"

Sometimes when you are guilty you are better off to admit it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I want to report something I read recently in the New York Times, not exactly a conservative, Christian publication.

"Most young couples now live together as a safe first step before marriage," wrote Meg Jay, a NYT writer. "But research shows that cohabiting is anything but safe. It makes couples less likely to be satisfied with their marriages, and more likely to divorce later. ...Without saying so, women usually think of living together as a step toward marriage, whereas men tend to view it as a way of auditioning their partner while postponing commitment. As years slide by, the two people find that despite the trial nature of their relationship, they have become bound together by shared leases, wireless contracts, furniture, pets, and friends. Those who work up the courage to split find that the setup and switching costs are nearly as wrenching as a divorce. Others drift into marriage, while secretly wondering whether they have consciously chosen their mate. To increase your chances of a satisfying, lasting relationship, it is best to start with "I do," rather than , 'Maybe we will, and maybe we won't.'"

How 'bout them apples!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Say Something Nice

We are supposed to say kind and loving things to people, aren't we? And the opposite of kind and loving remarks are unkind, cutting remarks, right? Here are some examples of unloving personal comments I suggest you do not make:

  • You never have anything to say and you say it often.
  • If your I.Q. slips any lower we will have to water you twice a day.
  • You suffer from delusions of adequacy.
  • I remember you before you were a virgin.
  • You have the backbone of a chocolate eclair.
  • If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong.
  • Try to imagine how little I care.

Here are a few better things to say:

  • You are a unique, precious person.
  • The angels sang on the day you were born.
  • You are the Creator's beloved child in whom He is well pleased.
  • I love you, and nothing you could ever do will ever be able to change it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rules Don't Apply to Me

What do you suppose would happen if you were arrested driving 90 mph on I-10? The arresting police officer asked why you were speeding and you said, "Your rules don't apply to me."

Or if the IRS audited you and discovered you had not paid income tax in 10 years? When the agent asked you to explain your dereliction of duty you said, "Your rules don't apply to me."

Or, if you explained to your husband or wife that being faithful to one person was too confining for you, that the rules of marriage don't apply to you.

How do you think those things would work out? Let me answer that question: not very well! The universal life rules, focused primarily in the ten commandments, can't be cheated. And they are not multiple choice. When you fudge on the ten commandments, you injure all of humanity and decrease your personal security. When you live by these rules you strengthen society and increase your personal security.

Freedom is not about having no constraints. There is no liberty without responsibility. We all live with restraints, imposed on us by government, relationships, or good judgment. Freedom is about having a range of choices within agreed on moral obligations.

So the next time you hear someone say, "Your rules don't apply to me," call it what it is: immaturity.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Time Changes Things

When I was growing up in Cedar Bayou I had a friend who was the smartest kid in the class. One day while I was visiting his home, we sneaked his mother's medical book out of the house and into the garage so we could learn more about sex.

The pictures brought me to the point of amazement. I said to my friend, "Our parents didn't do that did they?" "No," he answered, "but I think they do that in Houston."

I felt safe because I lived in Cedar Bayou. I would not be called on to do such things.

Boy, how time changes things.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I am fascinated by tears. Do you know that there are three chemical components of tears?

The first ingredient is salt. The saline content of tears is roughly the equivalent of the salt water in the ocean.

The second ingredient is made up of a combination of vitamins, minerals, and oils which bathe the cornea and keep the eye moist.

And the third chemical component of tears is natural antibiotics that keep the eye germ free.

Now here is the most interesting thing about tears. The chemical substance of our tears change based on why the tears flow. When we weep because of deep hurt or traumatic loss, the chemical substance of our tears change so they become a natural pain killer.

In other words, when we weep because we are in pain, our body tries to sooth us. As the Good Book says, "We are fearfully and wonderfully made."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Someone You Are Not

Sometimes we spend large quantities of time, energy, and money convincing people we are something we are not.

I like the story about the man who was sitting on a bench waiting for a bus. A nun came and sat down beside him.

"Sister," the man said, "can I make a confession? I have always had a secret desire to kiss a nun. If you could find it in your heart to let me kiss you, I will die a happy man."

The sister's response was surprising. She said, "It is an unusual request, but I will grant it on two conditions: that you are Catholic and single."

"It is my lucky day, sister," said the man. "I am both Catholic and single."

With this the man planted a long, passionate kiss on the nun.

"Well, sister," laughed the man, "the joke's on you. I am a Baptist and I am married."

"No, the joke's on you," retorted the nun. "My name is Kevin and I'm on my way to a costume party!"

Never spend your time, energy, or money trying to appear to be someone you are not.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The "Platinum Rule"

You have heard of the "Golden Rule," haven't you? Well, there may be an even higher behavioral rule. It is called the "Platinum Rule." The "Platinum Rule" calls for us not to do unto others what we would have others do to us, but to do unto others what they would have others do unto them.

Let's say you are hardwired such that you don't like large, loud social get-togethers. You prefer small, intimate gatherings. But you have a 40th birthday coming up and a friend wants to throw a birthday bash in your honor. And because of their inner wiring they prefer large, loud parties.

If your friend practices the Golden Rule-doing to you what they would want others to do to them-he or she will throw you a large, loud party. But if your friend practices the Platinum Rule-doing to others what they would have done to them-the birthday celebration would be a small, intimate affair.

Do you get the point?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Listen to Your Gut

Consider these thoughts from my stream of consciousness:

It is easier to hurt children than to bless them.

Children are keen observers but poor interpreters.

You never stop loving people you have loved. Even when you hate people, you really love them. If you didn't care about them, they couldn't hurt you.

Gratitude is not getting something new. It is valuing what you already have.

Most of what you need to know about what is right and wrong you already know. Just listen to your gut.

If you are going to give advice, be indifferent about whether people take it or not.

Monday, May 21, 2012


If you want to make a difference in the world in which you are living, learn to compliment the people around you.

Praise is to the human spirit what sunlight, water, and good soil are to a seed. People need others to notice the good things they are doing and commend them for it.

One of the commodities in life most people can't get enough of is compliments.

The ego is never so secure, so intact, one cannot find room to plug in a little praise. The problem is compliments, by their very nature, are highly biodegradable. They tend to dissolve hours or days after we receive them - which is why we can always use another one.

So if you truly want to help people, catch them doing something right and affirm them. Go ahead and go overboard. You won't spoil them; you'll help them reach their highest potential.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Human Behavior

Human behavior is completely predictable. People always act consistent with the way they view themselves. People who see themselves as thieves, steal. Folks who consider themselves liars, lie. You tell me how you think of yourself, and I will predict your actions and decisions. Conversely, if you change the way you see yourself, you will change your behavior consistent with this new self-understanding.

If you know who you are, you know how to act.

And how would you like to alter the way you see yourself? Here's how: by interrupting your negative self-talk - the negative internal conversation you have with yourself about yourself - and substituting positive confessions.

In other words, when you mess up, instead of saying to yourself, "You stupid idiot!" you say to yourself, "Stay calm. The world is not going to end. Everything is going to be all right."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bad Things Happen Quickly

Here are a few of my most recent random thoughts:

The main things which prevent us from discovering the truth are convictions we hold on to tenaciously which are false.

The statute of limitations has expired on our childhood traumas. It's time to give them up.

Our weaknesses are the flip side of our strengths. Our strengths inevitably boomerang on us and become weaknesses.

Ninety percent of success is about awareness and focus.

If you have to guess someone's age, use this governing principle: if you think they are under 25 years of age, guess high; if you think they are over 25, guess low.

Only bad things happen quickly.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mental Health

Gordon Allport, the famous psychiatrist, observed that mentally healthy people bear six personality traits. As I read these to you, ask yourself about the status of your mental health.

First, a positive concept of yourself. Do you think of yourself positively or negatively?

Second, seeing value in all people, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomics, or physical wholeness.

Third, enjoyment in helping people. Is assisting people one of the sources of your joy?

Fourth, mentally healthy people have a realistic perception of the world. They are realists, not being deceived by superstition or delusional thinking.

Fifth, they have a sense of humor. They regularly enjoy belly laughs.

And sixth, they have a unifying philosophy of life which defines their purpose for living.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


A few years ago I lived in Lubbock, Texas. During that time I served as the unofficial chaplain for the Texas Tech Red Raider football team.

One day a 350 pound lineman came to see me. He was in academic trouble at mid-term, and he wanted my counsel.

I asked him, "What are your mid-term grades?"

He answered, "Well, sir, so far I have four 'Fs' and one 'D'."

"What do you think the problem is?" I inquired.

He thought a minute and said, "I think I'm spending too much time on one subject."

I nearly fell off my chair laughing. Nevertheless, there are times when we spend too much of our time and energy focused on negative things - problems, obstacles, opposition. We'd be better off focusing on the possibilities and the opportunities.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Seven Myths

Here are seven myths unmarried folks have about marriage:

Good marriages are made in heaven.

There is one right person for us.

They will change after we marry them.

It doesn't matter what our family and friends think about the person we want to marry.

The fact that we have come from two entirely different family backgrounds is irrelevant.

Their temper problem is no big deal. Our religious differences won't make a difference.

These aren't just myths; they are lies.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Everybody knows commitment is the key to a lasting relationship. But what kind of commitments?

Three commitments are necessary.

First, a commitment to stay married.

Second, a commitment to work hard for as long as it takes to make the marriage all that it can be. There are no seven easy steps, no quick fixes. Having a great marriage takes time and hard work.

And third, a commitment to obtain whatever help is needed to learn the necessary skills for marriage. A good counselor is a teacher. And don't tell me you can't afford a counselor. They're a lot cheaper than a divorce attorney.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Discussion & Dialogue

Years ago, a fellow named Ruel Howe wrote a remarkable book called The Miracle of Dialogue. He talked about the two forms of communication: discussion and dialogue.

He said discussion is a head-level enterprise. It is the sharing of thoughts, plans, and values.

Dialogue, Howe said, is an emotion-level communication. It is about feelings, fears, and needs.

Dialogue is the one which is absolutely necessary for a marriage to survive and flourish. Marriages fall apart not because of intellectual problems, but because of emotional problems.

What blood is to the body, dialogue is to the soul.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Try it

Most people believe when romantic love is lost, it is impossible to restore. But this is not true.

It doesn't sound very romantic, but what most of us call love is an emotion; emotions rise and fall according to what we are doing for one another, or with one another, to produce the emotion.

When couples say, "I don't love you any more," what they are confessing is that they have stopped doing the things which produce the emotions of love.

More importantly, if you start doing the things again which produce the emotion of love - even if you do not feel like doing it, love will return. Try it.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mutual Ownership

Here are some random thoughts I've had lately.

There is no such thing as an insignificant person.

If you find it difficult to love other people, the problem is you do not love yourself.

The best way to discover yourself is to let someone get to know the real you, then ask them to tell you who you are.

Marriage is mutual ownership.

Intimacy is being emotionally naked without fear or shame. There is nothing to hide or guard against.

People who have a loving relationship often disagree, but they accept their disagreements as something which enriches the relationship.

Venting anger doesn't make it disappear. It makes it grow.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Why is it people are unwilling to go to a counselor? We seek help in every other area of our life. We do not think twice about going to a professional with our medical or legal concerns. Why shouldn't we seek help for our relationship needs?

Here are the reasons: We are ashamed because we are unable to solve our problems all by ourselves; we are afraid of what we will discover; sometimes we are in denial about the existence of problems.

A good counselor can provide us with tools which can offer time-saving assistance. A counselor is like a tiller. If you want to plant a garden, you can break up the ground with a hoe, but it will take you a lot longer, and it will not be very effective. Better to rent a tiller.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

False Results

Let me tell you a secret: Living together prior to marriage decreases the likelihood of marital success. Don't take my word for it. Check the secular statistics. Couples who live together prior to marriage have five times as great a divorce rate as do couples who do not live together.

Co-habitation is not like marriage. It is not a binding relationship. It leaves the door open to separation. Marriage is different; it raises the commitment stake. It is, …for better or for worse until death do us part.

Most people in our culture think living together tests a relationship. Actually it is likely to produce false results.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Paint Job

More random thoughts.

If more husbands were self-starters, fewer wives would be cranks.

A potential new friend is someone you meet who seems to have a lost piece of you within them.

Live as if everything you do and say will eventually be known. The character of an institution can be seen in its attitude toward its detractors.

A good marriage is made up of two good forgivers.

The things in life which have the greatest potential for blessings also carry with them the greatest potential for pain.

Marrying someone for his or her looks is like buying a car for its paint job.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thirty Years

A woman said to her husband, "Do you know what today is? It is our thirtieth anniversary."

Her husband started to cry.

She asked him, "What's wrong?"

He answered, "Do you remember when your father caught us in a compromising position? He said if I didn't marry you he would have me thrown into prison for thirty years."

"Yes, I remember," said his wife.

Her husband wept a little more and then said, "Well, today I would be free."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cruise Control

A man had always wanted to own a pleasure van loaded with all the extras. He finally saved enough money to make his dream a reality. With a sense of profound fulfillment, he drove it away from the dealership.

But within an hour, the wrecker brought the totaled van back to the dealership where the owner demanded his money back.

"What happened?" asked the salesman.

"I pulled it out of the dealership, went directly to the interstate, set it on cruise control, and went back to the kitchenette to make a cup of coffee."

Many marriages are wrecked because someone put it on cruise control.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Single and Dating

A friend described to me what it is like to be single and dating.

He said, "You are driving in your car through a small rural town in East Texas. Suddenly you have a blow out. You realize you do not have a spare tire. Fortunately you see a service station. You walk over and ask the operator for a fourteen-inch radial tire. But they don't sell new tires. The attendant offers to let you rummage around in a pile of used tires in the back. He says, 'If you find one, you can have it - free.' So you look at one used tire after another, searching for the one with the most tread and the least out-of-round."

My friend says, "This is what it's like to be single and dating."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Three Word Phrases

I'd like to teach you four three-word phrases which will save you thousands of dollars in counseling and perhaps a divorce. Here they are:

I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.

Don't try to figure it out. Just trust me. Swallow your pride and say these words sincerely and often.

Come on, say them with me:

I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.

Say them again, until you have memorized them:

I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.

Friday, May 4, 2012


A friend tells about a single woman who had a bizarre habit of praying nightly for a husband. Every night she took a pair of men's trousers and hung them over her bed. She held on to them with one hand, knelt in prayer, and offered this prayer:

"Father in heaven, hear my prayer, And grant it if you can; I've hung a pair of trousers here, Please fill them with a man."

I don't want to hear about any of you guys hanging a bikini over your bedpost and praying a prayer like that.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Random Thoughts

Here are a few more of my recent random thoughts.

A curious reciprocity runs through life. What goes around eventually comes around.

If we knew every word that people have said about us, and if others knew all the words we had spoken about them, we would have no friends.

There is a time to let things happen and a time to make things happen.

Just because you are good at something doesn't mean you have to do it.

The core problem most of us struggle with is selfishness and self-centeredness.

The tragedy of life is that most of what we learned the hard way dies with us. We find it impossible to give it away.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Your Picker

The other day I was talking with a friend who seems to go from one bad relationship to another. I said to him, "Do you know what your problem is? Your picker's broken."

A lot of people's pickers are broken.

Neurologists say that when you are in love, your brain releases endorphins which create a natural high. I have a friend who says if we were not drunk on love, no one would ever get married. Sometimes the high prevents us from seeing clearly. We can't see the obvious flaws which will poison the relationship because we are drunk on love. Only when romantic love dies down and the endorphins stop kicking in will we see the problems.

If your picker is broken, get some objective counsel before you get too deeply involved in a relationship.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What's the Problem?

An elderly, slightly deaf couple showed up at a lawyer's office to file for divorce.
The lawyer said to the woman, "Do you have grounds?" "Of course," she replied. "We have a full acre in Spring, Texas."
To the husband the lawyer asked, "o you have a grudge?" The old man smiled. "Yes, we have a two car garage."
Again, to the woman the lawyer addressed a question: "Does your husband beat you up?" "Nope," she answered. "I get up a full hour before he does."
Exasperated, the lawyer asked the man, "Then what's the problem?"
"I don't know," he answered. "My wife says we have trouble communicating."