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Wait A Minute Fear!

Suddenly without warning a dog was running at me barking as he came.  His owner was calling his name but to no avail.  The dog seemed determined to get to me.  I guess years ago I wouldn’t know what to do but at my age I’m more experienced.  Instead of putting fear in me the dog put more of an annoyance.  I’ve heard that a charging dog can be defused by not doing anything. The most natural thing to do would be to attack him before he attacked you.  The other natural thing to do would be to run.  Either way is not the advice of experts.  Attacking the dog brings on a fight and you might get hurt by a mean and energized dog.  Running let’s the dog know you fear him and he most likely will chase you down like a scared rabbit.  The thing to do they say and what I did was to stop in my tracks and not look the dog in the eye.  This leads to hopefully a non confrontational feeling for the dog and he most likely will sniff your leg and be more likely to listen to his masters pleading.

angry dog with bared teeth

I can think of situations in my life where I was truly scared, fearful, and anxious.  One situation that really frightened me along with millions of other people was the financial crises of 2008.  I was very fearful of my financial future and spent a lot of time troubled and scared.   It got so bad that it was on my mind all of the time.  The fear of losing everything that I had was so powerful that it completely swallowed me in it.  What could I do about it?  Who could I talk to to help me cope with this powerful fear that I was feeling?Image result for 2008 stock market crash photo

Franklin Roosevelt made a statement concerning the times at hand during the Great Depression.  Millions of people were out of work and things looked as bleak as they ever had.  Roosevelt knew though that even in bad times that we could compound our problem.  He mad the statement that “The only thing to fear was fear itself.”   What did he mean by that?  He knew that when people are fearful the natural thing to do is nothing.  It’s like the saying of burying your head in the sand.  There are times that doing nothing is the right thing to do but it should not be an automatic response.  It should actually be one of many options.  Roosevelt stated that our main problem was getting people back to work.  By being fearful people that could offer jobs would become paralyzed about the future and not want to expand their business.  Likewise people would become dependent on the government and not dream for a brighter future.  He offered help from the government but it was a temporary fix until our non fearing attitude could turn the ship around.

If you are living in fear it is time to turn your ship around.  The first thing that you should realize is that God loves you and wants the best for you.  I was listening to a radio show and somebody called in and was telling how she had been always fearful.  When questioned why she stated that she feared what people thought about her.  She said that this condition went on for years until she discovered in the Bible that fear is not from God.  When she realized all of the trouble that God went through to make a path for us to get to heaven she discovered that he had her back.  Instead of fearing the future and anything going on now her faith increased.  She became at total peace with who she was and who controlled her future.  Her call that day was a call for victory and a testimony for anyone listening who was in the grasp of fear.

We all go through fearful times.  Some of us are fearful all of the time.  This is not good for our health or our future.  Don’t get me wrong fear is a natural thing.  Some things we should be fearful of.  However living in fear is never good.  When I was living in fear I took some action.  I made a decision of what I was going to do.  It wasn’t a popular view with the so called experts but in my case it was the right thing in my heart.  It’s amazing that when you make a stand whatever it is you are back in control of the situation.  There is something very powerful in standing up to the fear that is within you and controlling it.  That decision was made by my heart and what I felt was the right thing.  I prayed with my pastor about the situation but he did not really understand because he was not in the midst of it.  At the end of the day it was up to me and what I felt God would have me do.

So I ask you today if you are living in fear to stand up to it.  Do not be paralyzed by fear.  Consider your options and pray to God for guidance.  If you listen to that still small voice within you he will direct your ways.  Take action on what you feel.  It is not good enough to think about solutions and then not implement them.  Take control of your life knowing that the God of the Universe only wants what is good for you.  “Peace I give to you”, Jesus said.

So the dog that was charging at me got to my ankle and like I figured he started sniffing my leg.  He was not out to hurt me like I could have feared.  However if I made the wrong move it could have propelled him into vicious actions.  His Master was finally able to get his attention but as I started walking again I heard him calling out his dogs name in a loud and hurried tone.  The dog was right back on my heals and I stopped immediately.  Finally the Master got the dogs attention for good.  There was no fear on my part, just the annoyance of something trying to take the joy of life away from me.

Isolated on blue background angry annoyed man frowns look at camera holding smart phone having problems with wi-fi no wireless connection, need repair broken phone, unpleasant message received concept

Delivering Kindness

They say no news is good news.  The same can be said about the mail at times “No mail is good mail.”  How many times have we walked to the mailbox only to find bills?  Common sense tells us that we can’t blame the mail person who delivered our mail.  In fact isn’t it good that we received our bill and know that we owe it?  Wouldn’t it be a bad thing if we came home on a blustery winters day only to discover that our power had been cut off?  The people that deliver the mail are like the offensive linemen in football.  We take the job that they are doing for granted.  The times we pay attention to the mail service is when we are expecting something.  When we feel that a delivery is slow that is when we question the functionality of the mail service.  Otherwise we expect to get our mail promptly whether it is a bill or a check or something in between.

Assorted pieces of mail on a plain background

When I was a kid people always looked forward to seeing the mail truck come by.  We had quite a few older people in our neighborhood and the sound of the mail truck could be uplifting to them.  Back then people actually wrote letters to each other.  We didn’t  have Email usage to instantaneously talk.  Calling someone on the phone when they were out of our area code could get pretty expensive.  Even though it was slower people wrote and received letters.  These letters along with other mail items broke up the boredom for a lot of families in my neighborhood.  When the mail truck passed you would see people going out to their mail boxes.  It was almost like they were patiently waiting for the mail to add excitement to their day.

Everyone had a mail box in our neighborhood and they also had a garbage can.  The garbage cans back then were not the big dumpster type we get today.  They were aluminum little silver cans that would fit maybe 2 or 3 bags of garbage.  We had a dog back then and he along with all of the other dogs hated the garbage man.  The garbage man would actually get out of his truck and pick up your little can and dump it in his truck.  We weren’t required to put the can by the road either.  The garbage man would walk right up to our house and get the can.  Of course the dogs caged up in their pens thought that the garbage man was stealing good stuff.  Our dog would give his angriest low voiced bark to express his displeasure as the garbage man did his work.

The mail person was virtually ignored by the dogs in the neighborhood.  Very rarely did they have to get out of their truck.  The dogs just accepted them as passing traffic every day.  Unlike the garbage person mail deliverers are usually giving us something.  I have found that as a whole the mail people are some of the most friendly people I have met.  Although we usually don’t get to know them completely they seem to always be happy and in a good mood.  If we happen to be out there when they arrive they are always open to conversation.  They realize that they have a job to do but don’t take for granted the people that they are serving.

Mail Truck

I have a friend who had a very unusual experience with his mail carrier.  Unlike most mail carriers his was always grumpy.  He didn’t go out of his way to be of service either.  If there was just a little snow blocking his mailbox or if a car was parked somewhere close to my friends box his mail didn’t get delivered.  This is very unusual behavior for the mail service.  Although it may be inconvenient they know how important the mail is and have compassion on people who haven’t shoveled the latest blizzard completely.  It was frustrating to my friend whose mailman’s grumpiness and unwillingness to make the effort delayed his mail.  He tried to be nice but it got to the point where he concluded the mailman didn’t like him and didn’t treat him right.

One morning on a cold snowy day my friend heard a loud motor sound on the street in front of his house.  He looked out the window and saw the mail truck.  The truck wasn’t moving like normal.   It was stuck and no matter how hard the driver was pushing on the gas pedal he could not free it.  My friend looked out the window.  I’m sure the thought went through his head that “it serves him right for treating me badly all of the time.”  After watching the mail truck struggle for about five minutes my friend said a prayer.  “Lord, send someone to help  the mailman get unstuck.”  As he waited for someone to arrive he had a strong thought.  He knew that it was the Lord talking to him.  “You go help him!”  But Lord, you know how bad he has treated me and you know I’m comfortable here and don’t want to get cold.  “YOU GO HELP HIM!”  Reluctantly my friend put his coat and boots on and headed out.  It was a struggle but he was able to free the mail truck from the snow.

From that time on my friend and the mailman had a good relationship.  His mail was delivered on time through all of the obstacles.  Not only that but he had a smile on his face when he saw my friend.  The mailman got comfortable with my friend and told him something that none of the other customers knew.  “About three months ago my wife passed away.,” he stated.  “Since then it has been hard for me to carry on.”  “I’m in my seventies and I wonder why I am still doing this job, but I know I have to.”

It’s easy to judge someone by their actions but seldom do we try to get to the heart of the matter.  My friend reluctantly helped his mailman and with that kindness he found the key to understanding him.  Unlike my friend, most of us will never know why people do what they do.  What we need to realize is that God loves everyone, whether they are treating us good or bad.  He asks us to deliver love to them and be kind and compassionate  He wants us to love them as they are.  After all that God has done for us is that too much to ask?




You Are Right But You May Be Wrong

A couple of weeks ago I was delivering some mail to another department in another building.  I tried to open a door to the office but it was locked.  I heard voices in the office so I knocked on the door.  When nobody came I knocked a little louder.  Suddenly someone from the office came out another door and in a mean tone told me that they don’t use that door.  After making me feel like a complete idiot she walked away only to turn around and ask what I wanted.  I handed her the envelope and before I could get away she called “this isn’t ours”.  I have to admit I was very upset at the way she treated me.  I guess she figured that I was wrong so she could make me feel small.  The fact is I was wrong on two counts.  I knocked on the wrong door and I was in the wrong place with the mail.  A person who I have befriended from other visits to the building heard the whole exchange.  Little did I know that she would report the incident to the employees supervisor.

Image result for photo knocking on a door

The reason that I told this story is to make a point.  I am sure that many of you have faced the same type of circumstances.  Maybe you felt belittled because someone raised their voice or got upset at you.  Maybe like me you were wrong.  Or you may have even been in the other persons shoes.  Maybe somebody annoyed you in some way because they were completely wrong about something.  Maybe it upset you that someone could act or think the way they do or totally disagree with you.  Maybe you could easily prove your point on GOOGLE which is how people try to settle arguments in today’s world.

I remember growing up there were two kids named Pat and Lloyd that had constant arguments.  Look out if they saw each other because they would start right in.  It didn’t matter what the topic was.  If Lloyd was for something Pat was against it and vice versa.  With voices raised they tried to make their points as to why the other one was wrong.  It was kind of comical listening to them.  Their encounters  were entertaining and funny but nobody really won.  They were always a continuing series that picked right back up the next time both were together.  Through all of those arguments I never heard one of them say to the other “you are right.”  To them admitting they were wrong would be giving power to their opponent.  In their minds it would be admitting defeat and neither wanted to do that.  At the time Lloyd and Pat were just kids.  Unfortunately these endless attempts to always be right divide us adults today.

Image result for picture of 2 boys arguing

Many times someone will make a mistake in driving.  I have made the mistake of turning wrongly onto a one way street.  We have a lot of one way streets downtown and if you are unfamiliar with them it could be easy to do.  Did the other cars plow into me?  No, I realized right away my error and quickly righted myself.  I’m sure that someone could have enlarged my situation and laid on their horn for all to realize what I did.  Fortunately they just gave me a chance to turn around.

Image result for cartoon of driving the wrong way

I remember years ago there were guys that would take the Gospel into their own hands.  They would pick a spot on campus and start preaching to all who would listen.  Their message though was not a message of love.  It was always quoting verses in the Bible and telling everyone in no uncertain terms that they were doomed to Hell if they didn’t come to God.  Of course the students would be on the defensive and would come out firing questions to their accuser.  It turned into an argument that nobody would win and created bad feelings all around.

Image result for campus preacher photo

Maybe these examples of bringing on arguments and hurt could be turned around.  Perhaps kindness, compassion, and a caring voice could have helped my situation. What if that lady sweetly said to me with a smile “I’m sorry, we didn’t come to the door. Actually we don’t use this door anymore.  How can I help you?”  Instead of being happy that I was in the wrong place what if she stated with compassion “Oh I hate to have you walk all the way up to the fourth floor but this is actually for another department.”  I would have said with a smile “Oh dear, I must have got my departments goofed up.  No problem, thank you for your help!”  It wouldn’t have taken much of an effort to be nice and compassionate which helps everyone feel better about the situation!

Years ago I was attending a church where a drifter came in and started disruption.  He showed no compassion as in a Sunday School class he stated that people were not healed because they lacked faith.  Of course he had Bible verses to prove his point.  His attitude and accusing comments touched a nerve with the pastors wife.  She was suffering from serious breathing problems and had been praying fervently along with the rest of the church for her healing.  After a couple of weeks the drifter left and never came back.  He stayed just enough to cause discourse.  On a side note it was discovered a long time later that the parsonage was spewing poisonous air which was causing the pastors wife to be sick all of the time.  Once that problem was solved so was her sickness.

Many of us even as Christians are spewing bad air.  We are making others literally sick with our attitudes.  Many times we can justify it by stating that we were right.  I have learned that being right is very overrated.  There is an old saying that states “You can draw more flies with sugar than with vinegar.”  Be kind and compassionate.  Think about how you would feel if you were walking in the other persons shoes.  Look for the good in people and show love always even if they are totally wrong.  If you do that you will find that not only will they be happier but you will be too!

If you're wrong in the way you're right, you're wrong even if you're right. - James MacDonald



Let’s Hear It For The Noise!

There are sounds in life that most of us just love!  The sound of a soft rain, the sound of a baby laughing, the sound of a beautiful song, and the sound of someone telling you that you just won the lottery.  OK I just threw in the last one.  It surely would be a pleasing sound and yet probably is a sound relegated to our dreams.  We cannot limit the wonderful sounds of life to a short list.  They come at us from everywhere and make little things better if we take time to listen.

I have been paying closer attention to sounds as I take my walks.  I’ve noticed that when I focus on my hearing I hear the wonderful sounds of nature.  I’ve been hearing the birds in all of their different voices.  I’ve been hearing the sound of voices in normal conversation.  I’ve heard the sound of the wind and the sound of the cars going by.  All of the sounds of life that are mostly taken for granted have been on my mind lately.  It is truly a blessing to be in this world and enjoy the sounds of life.

What If Someone Walks Away from Restoration?

Through this journey into listening closely I have come to certain conclusions.  For instance most people do not really pay attention to the sounds of life.  In fact I am most people because very rarely have I truly appreciated them.  I think the reason most of us don’t is that we take them for granted.  We tune them out and concentrate on our problems at hand.  Our mind is on things that we think are important at the time.  We may be worrying about some situation we have no control over.  All of these things keeps us from thinking about the sounds of life around us.  We treat the sounds like white noise which means it is background stuff we hear but don’t listen to it.  We are so busy fiddling with our phones that we ignore the beauty of the sounds of life.

I find this white noise phenomena interesting.  I am one of those people who like a little noise when I sleep.  Usually it is a TV but some people cannot sleep without a fan being on.  It is just the noise in the background.  Even when not paying attention it can be nice to have the TV on in the background.  Maybe that kind of thing trains us to ignore certain sounds.  Even now at work if someone turns off the copy machine it gets deathly quiet.  I don’t like that quietness.  It feels kind of eerie to me.

Years ago Neil Diamond wrote a song called “It’s A Beautiful Noise” which describes how I feel when rediscovering the sounds of life.  It came unexpectedly as Neil was with his 2 little daughters and he had promised one of his future band members that he would write a song.  The song was to convince the guitarist to work with Neil.  As they were in a New York Apartment on the 4th floor a Puerto Rican parade went by on the street below.  With the windows opened they heard the beautiful music full of rhythm and joy.  One of his daughters said “What a beautiful Noise.”   Suddenly Neil knew what the song would be and the words flowed.

What a beautiful noise
Comin’ up from the street
Got a beautiful sound
It’s got a beautiful beat

It’s a beautiful noise
Goin’ on everywhere
Like the clickety-clack
Of a train on a track
It’s got a rhythm to spare

It’s a beautiful noise
And it’s sound that I love
And it’s fit me as well
As a hand in a glove
Yes it does, yes it does

What a beautiful noise
Comin’ up from the park
It’s the song of the kids
And it plays until dark

It’s the song of the cars
On their furious flights
But there’s even romance
In the way that they dance
To beat of the lights

It’s a beautiful noise
And it’s a sound that I love
And it makes me feel good
Like a hand in a glove
Yes it does, yes it does
What a beautiful noise

It’s a beautiful noise
Made of joy an of strife
Like a symphony played
By a passing parade
It’s the music of life

What a beautiful noise
Comin’ up to my room
And it’s beggin’ for me
Just to give it a tune

As you can see some of the sounds he writes about are not necessarily pleasing to the ear.  I was talking to a fellow worker about an unpleasant sound we were hearing.  Actually it was more about me complaining.  I think it was the sound of a weed whacker or a lawn mower.  The message that they mentioned back to me was something I hadn’t thought of.  “I like the noise” it was stated.  “It is the sound of life and people living.”  It is in contrast to the term I mentioned earlier “deathly silence.”  So I’ve concluded from this rediscovery of my listening that the sounds of life are a beautiful thing.  Of course the sounds that we always loved are beautiful, but also the unpleasant sounds say something.  They say that I am alive and a part of life.  I am in the game, much like when I saw my first baseball game and the sounds of the fans, the crack of the bats, and the pop of the gloves was so pleasing to my ears!
Baseball Player, Shortstop, Infield, Sport, Playing
We live in a world of noise and it is easy to turn off some of the noise around us.  Invariably we treat it like white noise. It is also easy to turn off God’s voice when he is trying to talk to us.  It may be a thought that we have to do something that gets ignored.  Many times we have a feeling that we should help someone or reach out to someone.  If that feeling gets any kind of root many times we dismiss it as not being practicable, convenient, or timely.  It’s true that God usually does not talk to us through our ears.  More often than not it is through our heart.  When we follow through with what he is telling us we start seeing lives getting changed.  When we don’t it is like the white noise we so often ignore.  When we ignore that sound we are missing so much.  Listen to the sounds of your heart.  It is like my rediscovery with listening with my ears.  It truly is a beautiful noise!

Image result for helping hand photo

I Believe In You

One of the best things as a parent that you can tell your children is how much you believe in them.  We see it beautifully stated in the graduation programs at our University.  Proud parents leave tributes for their graduating seniors and it is wonderful.  Many times the tributes mention how much they believe in them and how proud they are of them.  This belief they speak of goes to the heart of the word.  I believe that you will be a great success they might say.  I believe that you can accomplish everything that you want.  In other words the belief is that they are sold that their son or daughter is great already and they will succeed in whatever they do!

Image result for graduation picture

Years ago we traveled through Kentucky and Tennessee.  It was just a week or two after a major tornado had hit down on the area.  We happened to stop at a store and were talking to the cashier about the incident.  We were told that most of the people there did not bother to heed  the warnings.  “We get warnings all of the time here”, they mentioned to us.  I’m sure that their belief was shaken and although they believed a tornado was sighted they didn’t believe it would affect them.  Sadly there were injuries and fatalities because the trust factor wasn’t there. Photos: Storms Cause Death, Damage In Kentucky, Tennessee

In Acts chapter 16 verse 31 Paul and Silas were asked what they must do to be saved.  “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved and your entire household”.  Many times when people are asked if they are a christian or they think they are going to heaven they reply “yes I believe in God”.  However the Bible meaning for believe is far more extensive than just the belief that there is a God.  When Jesus said believe in me he was talking about believing in what he said.

Can you imagine a husband saying that he believes that he has a wife?  Wouldn’t you think that if he is married that would be a crazy statement?  In the same way just believing that there is a God in itself does not mean we have a relationship with him.  That would be the same as the parents in those tributes saying that they believed that they had a son or daughter.  If you think that just believing that there is a God will get you to heaven consider this fact: Even the Devil believes that there is a God and we know where he will end up.

'Okee-dokey... Let's just see how your diagnosis and treatment plan compare to what has to say...'

In James Chapter 2 starting with verse 14 we are told that faith without works is dead.  It is like those tornado victims that might have believed that there was a tornado but took no action.

Faith Without Works Is Dead

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [a]your works, and I will show you my faith by [b]my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is [c]dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?

It is useful in reading the Bible to substitute the word trust when you see the word believe.  Sometimes in the translation from the original Greek the words get watered down and they lose their meaning.  It doesn’t make sense that if we merely believe that there is a God that we are saved.  It is as obvious as that husband that states “I believe that you are my wife.”  The determining factor in that marriage and in our relationship to God is not the fact that they exist but learning to trust them and truly believe in everything they are about.  That belief on our part will lead us to follow the path given to us trusting that our Lord and Savior has a plan and purpose for our lives!

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