Happy New Year

Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. — Victor Kiam

It’s not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity. – Francis Bacon

Good Advice for the New Year…

UpLifts – A Christmas Letter From Dad

A Letter From Dad

It’s Christmas time — and you know, this time of year our minds are focused so much on the gifts we need to ‘buy’ for the ones we love. Well, in light of that may I share something that happened not too long ago?

I came home from work after a busy day. And I went upstairs and dropped my stuff — and then I noticed on my pillow a note, and it was written on that kind of paper, that unique kind of paper, that told me it came from my youngest daughter. I opened it up, and sure enough, it was a note from Shaina.

It said, “Dear Daddy, I miss you. I’m having fun here at school … Can I go to Santa’s secret shop. You’re gone too much. You are the best daddy in the whole world. Love, Shaina.”

Oh — oh, you talk about a payday — I loved it! I called her to me, knelt down on her level, and thanked her for the wonderful note. When I told her I loved her too, she threw her arms around my neck and just hugged me tight. It was a wonderful and a tender moment.

Now, a few days later I was with a group of teenagers.

We were chatting casually when, out of genuine curiosity, I asked them, “If you could have anything for Christmas and money was not a consideration, what would it be?”

Well, I have to confess here my shallowness. I expected them to start rambling off all these expensive toys that they would like to have. And to be honest, a few of them did mention some toys they’d like to have. But many, if not most of them, wanted such things as — their families home for the holidays; they wanted to spend time with their families and share experiences with their loved ones. I was surprised by that; I was impressed by that.

One young woman’s answer stood out in particular. She’s a quiet pretty young woman.

In response to the question, she said, “Well, I’d want some money for Christmas, and then I’d want a letter from my dad.”

Well, the ‘money’ answer I expected, but the ‘letter from dad’ — I was taken back by that, and I asked her why she would want that. I mean, I figured of all things that a teenager would want least from her parents, a sentimental letter would be that last thing.

Well, she explained that her father, at least once a year, writes her a letter in which he opens his heart, and tells her that he loves her. The letters have become a cherished tradition for her. In them, Dad bears his love for Christ, shares the experiences of his own life, and gives her guidance, and tells her what he expects from her.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“You mean to tell me, of all the things you could have, you would most want a letter from your dad?”

“Yes,” she said, and she meant it!

You know something? Maybe our loved ones really don’t want the gifts that come out of stores this year as much as they want the gifts that come out of the heart — the gifts of memories.

Now, as a related thought, it was recently explained to me what ‘WWJD’ meant. I had never heard that before. It means ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ Well, may I suggest something new for Christmas this year? How about ‘WWJG’? — ‘What Would Jesus Give?

Merry Christmas to you.

A special thanks to Glenn Rawson for such great stories and thoughts he shares through the year.

Success Thoughts

“Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present.” — Roger Babson

“Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.” — Mark Twain

“Forget about the consequences of failure. Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success.” — Denis Waitley

UpLifts – Greater Love

Potomac

The Savior said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

3:59 P.M., January 13, 1982: Air Florida Flight 90 sped down the runway and lifted off into the worst winter storm Washington D.C. had seen in decades. The plane, bound for Tampa, Florida, banked toward the icy Potomac River vibrating violently as it struggled to climb through the snowstorm.

Suddenly, the pilots saw the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac looming in their view. They were supposed to be 700 feet above it, but instead, they were headed straight for it. Frantically they worked to keep the aircraft aloft, but with the nose up and the tail down, the plane stuck the crowded four-lane bridge. The tail section of the plane was sheared off and dropped into the water on one side of the bridge, while the fuselage of the plane fell in the river on the other.

Rescue crews were dispatched immediately. As the rescue helicopter descends on the crash scene, they see six people clinging to the tail section. They drop so close in their efforts to rescue them that at one point their skids actually touch the water. A life ring is pitched out which settles into the arms of a balding man of about fifty years of age. And then to their surprise, rather than grab the ring and be hauled to safety, he passes the ring to the woman in the water next to him. She grabs that ring and the chopper carries her to safety.

The chopper returns, this time with two ropes and life rings. And again when they throw it out, the rope lands near the same man. And again he presses the ring into the hands of a dazed young woman next to him. She seems unable to hold the ring. Another man grabs that ring and wraps his arm around her and another women still remaining in the water, while the other ring is grabbed by another man. The chopper shudders and shakes under the load, but manages to lift just enough to skim the surface of the water and deliver the freezing passengers into the arms of waiting rescue personnel.

Now, there is only one man left in the water, and they want him; oh, how badly they want him. But before they’re able to return, he slips beneath the surface of the icy black water. He is nowhere to be seen. Through tear-filled eyes they hover and search the water. They are too late. The nameless hero known across America simply as ‘the man in the water’ is gone.

78 people lost their lives in that terrible tragedy, but out of it something was gained that is an inspiration to us all. This man was a hero.

And maybe in your thinking you have thought, ‘If only I could give my life in such a way.’ Now, I’ve thought about this. And you know, few of us will ever have such a chance to lay our lives down in death for another. But I am convinced that in no way does that mean we cannot lay it down. Every day, we are invited by the Master to rescue the dying souls of men. Will it count any less if I spend my life wearing it out to save the souls of men, than if I save only a few in a moment of heroism? I don’t think so.

My dear friends, this is our time, and certainly the season of our opportunity. And I assure you — there is more than enough to do to help our fellowmen in these trying days.
Adapted from Gene Windsor, “The Paramedic,” Guideposts Magazine, August 1982, pp. 25-28) and from Scott A. Moore, “Heros,”

UpLifts – Liberty and Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks

Centuries ago the nation of Israel turned and watched as Moses stretched forth his hand and the walls of the Red Sea collapsed and returned to their strength. In awe Israel saw the mighty hosts of Pharaoh’s army overthrown in the sea, never again to oppress them. Now, with the subsequent restoration of God’s holy law through Moses, and their miraculous deliverance by Joshua into the Promised Land, Israel was once more a nation of free people, free in body, free in conscience, and free in nationality. Is it any wonder that Israel was so filled with joy and gratitude that they lifted their voices in song, thanking and praising God with all the power of their delivered souls? Ever after that and for the centuries that followed, feasts and celebrations were established among the Hebrews, times of remembrance where they would be grateful and remember how that by the power of God He had made them a peculiar people and nation. However, in time Israel did come to forget. Not only did they forget the God who had delivered them, but they forgot and mocked the covenants and responsibilities they had assumed as His chosen people. Eventually they were scattered, destroyed, and oppressed once more.

It has been said that history repeats itself. Our season of feasting and celebration is upon us this week; it’s Thanksgiving. What a blessed people we are! By the power of God we are a prosperous and a free people. Praise be to God for the kindness of His Fatherhood, for the prayers He has answered, and for the privileges He has given us. May we rejoice now in our time. We are the greatest, wealthiest people ever in the history of this earth. Ought we not to thank the God who gave it? Oh, I hope our riches never come to canker our soul.

Further, thank God for the gift of His son; we have a free conscience. Thank God for the miracle of forgiveness and the power of redemption and resurrection. We are free. No tyrant can oppress our soul or destroy our peace unless we let them [him]. Praise be to God for the assurance and presence of a Savior Who is always there, Who will not rest in His atoning endeavors until all of us have become celestial beings.

Thank God for truth, pure unadulterated ‘diamond truth’ that allows us to see and understand, and be anchored in place in a world that has become like a roaring blender of opinions and ideas.

And thank God for America and her liberty. By the power of God and His guardian angels we are a free nation. There is so much more that is worth rejoicing of in America than is worth complaining of. Look around. I see this world we live in and I wonder: My children have never known starvation, many do; my children have never understood slavery and oppression, it’s [they are] foreign to them. They have never known the fear of tyrants, nor the despair of hopelessness and bondage. And yet there are people all over the earth who suffer so much. Why — why are we such a blessed people when so many suffer so much? I cannot help but think that America has the same responsibility as ancient Israel, to lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees. Oh, Heavenly Father, thank Thee for all of Thy bounty.

My dear friends, this Thanksgiving it is my prayer that our gratitude will overflow unto tears of humility and songs of rejoicing for the goodness of God. Oh to grace, how great a debtor; daily I’m constrained to be. Let thy goodness as a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee; prone to wander Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it; seal it for thy courts above.

Have a great Holiday weekend.

UpLifts – 1st Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving

November the 21st, 1621, Plymouth, New England: The pilgrims sat down to feast with 90 of their Indian brethren. Governor William Bradford offered the following prayer:

“Lord God, Thy hand has watchfully brought us to this land and given us friendship with the natives that live herein. We do give solemn thanks and praises to thy name.”

You know, that these stalwart souls were of a mind to offer such thanks is the story I want to tell you this Thanksgiving.

The pilgrims began as separatists from the Church of England. They wanted freedom to worship as they chose. And because of that, they were branded as traitors by the crown and persecuted, sometimes even unto death. And then, moved by the Spirit of God, they set their eyes on the newly discovered land of America. On September 6, 1620 the Mayflower set out with 102 passengers crammed in every inch of space. Consider it: Those pilgrims left all, and they would never return.

Well, the voyage was difficult, fraught with much suffering, sickness, and even death. As the season advanced, the North Atlantic weather grew colder. Food and water became scarce, and it seemed as though that journey would never end. Finally, after 66 days land was sighted at dawn on November the 19th. They dropped to their knees and thanked God.

One of them wrote though, “We now had no friends to welcome us, nor inns to entertain or refresh our weather-beaten bodies — no houses, or much less, towns to seek help.” And then she added, “And it was freezing cold weather.” But they were grateful. Why?

On Christmas day, 1620, they began construction on a common storehouse. But without homes and adequate food, they could never get warm. They weakened and became ill. When they finished the storehouse, it became a hospital.

Disease took its toll on them, and as many as two or three settlers died every day. At one time, there were only 6 healthy people out of more than a hundred who could care for the sick. This was called by them ever after “The Starving Time.” Only 51 pilgrims survived that first winter out of 102. Scarcely a family was not hit. Still, after all that, they gathered every day twice daily and offered prayers of thanks.

And you know, when the Mayflower returned to England in the spring, it is a testimony of the value of freedom to note that not one pilgrim went with her in spite of it all.

And then the Indians — they had feared them. But when the Indians finally came, they came friendly and with a desire to help, which if you consider how the Indians had already been treated by the whites, it was a miracle that they were friendly. The kindness of those early Native Americans saved those pilgrims.

Through the summer the pilgrims worked, and hard with little comfort. And when fall came, their harvest was plentiful; they wanted for nothing.

And so filled with the spirit of gratitude, Governor Bradford proclaimed a feast, and then added, “We will extend an invitation to our Indian friends to join us in the feasting.”

And on the day of the feast, Massasoit arrived with 90 Indians. For three days they prayed, sang, feasted, played, and bonded as brethren in the family of God.

Now my friends, why [was there] a feast of Thanksgiving? What did they have to grateful for? Well, they had a greater faith in God, they had freedom, and now they had food, shelter, and friends. And when you think about it, what else matters?

Their gratitude for simple things changed the lives of millions all the way to your table. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanks to Glenn Rawson for the research of this life changing historic event.

UpLifts – Happy Thanksgiving

The Storms of Life

James, the Lord’s brother, once said, “… count it all joy when ye [you] fall into many afflictions.” (JST James 1:2) Joy? — joy? Where is the joy, pray tell, in life’s storms? What eternal purpose is served by fear, pain, and struggle? Well, there’s an answer to that, and maybe these two stories back-to-back will help.

Years ago a young friend of mine, a former student, was climbing in the Teton mountain range. She and her sisters weren’t far from the top of Table Mountain, if you know where that’s at [located] when they noticed a — a thunderstorm big and black, and coming up behind them.

Now, if you know anything about those mountains, lightning storms in the Tetons are deadly. Stories and legends of killer storms are familiar to anyone who’s spent much time there.

Well, as the storm bore down on them, Sky became anxious and frightened. Should she and her sisters go on to the top and take their chances with the lightning, or should they turn back and get down to lower safer ground?

Now think about it: They had come all this way; they were so close to the summit, but that summit would be the most dangerous in such a storm. This was more than just a fear of getting wet. People have died in these mountains before from just such storms.

Now stop for a moment. Why did that storm have to come in the first place? Couldn’t an all-powerful, all-knowing God have turned it away? He knew it was there. Couldn’t He have turned it away? Well, of course He could. Then answer me this: Why didn’t He? And the larger question: Why does He allow Satan to oppose everything we are and everything we do? What I’m really asking is, ‘Why does life have to be so hard sometimes?’ The answer may be found in another story.

A man was once brought to Jesus who was deaf and had a speech impediment. Jesus took the man aside from the group and put His fingers into the man’s ears. He then spit and touched the saliva to the man’s tongue. Then the Savior sighed, looked up to Heaven, and said, “… Be opened.” (Mark 7:34) The man was immediately healed.

But — but why [did He put] the fingers in the man’s ears, and why [did He put] the spit on the man’s tongue? Well, the man was deaf. In a sense his ears were plugged. By putting His fingers in the man’s ears, Jesus communicated His intent to remove the obstruction so that the man could hear. It was a form of communication. And [why did He put] the saliva on the tongue? Well, then and now saliva symbolizes healing. Touching saliva to the man’s tongue communicated the message that Jesus wanted to heal his speech impediment.

Now, why did Jesus do these unusual and, some would say, ‘disgusting’ things? Well, the answer is this: If there is no faith, Jesus can do no miracle. Within that man, the sleeping giant of faith had to be awakened before the miracle could happen. It’s the same now; it’s no different. God will do whatever it takes to awaken faith in us, even if that means trials, afflictions, fear, and even thunderstorms when we least expect or want them.

As the storm closed in on the girls, Sky and her sisters huddled together, and got down on their knees and prayed, and asked their Father in Heaven to turn the storm away. Their awakened faith was answered as they stood and watched that mighty storm split, and [it] went around them on all sides. Rain fell and lightning flashed all around them, but where they stood it was dry and it was safe. They continued on to the top, and later from the summit of Table Rock [Table Mountain] they watched that storm come back together in all of its fury and lash the peaks of the three Tetons.

That storm became one of the most spiritual experiences in my young friend’s life. So it can be with us. I realize this is hard to say, but don’t curse those storms in life whatever they are and however they come. Use them. Turn in faith and prayer to God, the God whose love never fails, and let Him awaken the sleeping divine giant within you.

My dear friends, this Thanksgiving thank God for One who loves you just as you are, but will never leave you there.

Adapted from Mark 7:32-37 and written by Glenn Rawson