Tag Archives: encouragement

Fireproof

I was looking at the gun in my hand at the shooting range the other day and a thought came to mind: guns have safety features that prevent most, if not all, spontaneous firings. Without effort on the part of the operator, like me pulling the trigger, the gun is no more harmful than the monitor in front of you. But point it in the wrong direction, push the right buttons, or mishandle it in any way, and it can become a deadly weapon.

I wish I had some of the same safety features on my mouth. I’ve been known to shoot off at the mouth a time or two. I have learned that words can be as harmful to one’s self-esteem as guns can be to one’s life. Words have the capability to shoot down aspirations, hurt feelings, and kill the dreams of many well-intentioned people. And just like the gun, my mouth is harmless apart from my own actions. Don’t I decide what comes out of my mouth and what direction my words take? If I am as careful and responsible with the words I fire out of my mouth as I am with the shots I fire from my pistol, then no one should get hurt.

Here’s the great paradox: Words have as much potential to generate good as bullets have to create danger. They can be used to speak hope into hopeless, desperate situations; possibility into impossible circumstances; potential into powerlessness; victory in the midst of overwhelming odds; life into a miserable, mortal existence; and light into darkness. Words can be affirmative ammunition to penetrate and ignite a weary soul. Words have power, the power to butcher or the power to nurture; the power to annihilate or the power to stimulate. The power does not rest in the words themselves but in the people using them.

The takeaway:

Words don’t kill, people do. How will you use your words today?

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell . . . but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. ~James 3:6,8

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. ~Proverbs 18:21

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. ~Proverbs 21:23

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. ~ Luke 6:45

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ~Ephesians 4:29

No one will ever remember what you say or what you do but they will never forget how you made them feel. ~Unknown

What if we related the Gospel to people on the basis of how awesome they could possibly be in Christ more than how screwed up they presently are without Him? ~Pastor Steven Furtick

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Manure Happens!

Playing outside at my grandparents house one weekend as a kid, my brother and I discovered a pile of dirt over a little embankment that lead down to the garden. The knoll was the perfect launching pad for us to jump right into the cushiony pile of dirt. I’m not sure how long we played in the dirt but by the time we were finished, we had dirt in our ears (and every other orifice not covered by clothing). When my mom and grandparents came outside to see what we were up to, they made us aware of the painful reality that what we thought was dirt was actually manure for fertilizing the garden. I haven’t jumped in any unidentified piles since.

Manure happens! Don’t sit there and waller’* in it. Stand up, clean yourself off, and move on. You can let your past either haunt you or help you; one way or the other, it will determine your future. These situations are not meant to shake you as much as they are meant to shape you but the choice is yours. Nobody likes manure but it happens. Get over it and leave it behind (no pun intended)!

*waller’: southern for wallow, meaning to roll about in the mud; to indulge in something uncontrollably.
I am not southern but I am in the south and “when in Rome, you do as the Romans do!”

23 or Bust

resolution

That is, the 23% Club, those who tend to keep their New Year’s Resolutions each year. About 35% break their resolutions by the end of January. So how are you doing? Have you already steered off course? Did you even make a resolution? Do you feel like it’s too late?

It’s not too late. Whoever said you needed a celebration to jump-start your goals anyway? Life change is time-sensitive. It is rarely done out of convenience but out of necessity, that is, when you realize you need it and your committed to fixing it. We don’t choose to lose weight [or enter own flaw here] because it’s New Years. We choose to lose because we’re plump and need to make a change. Who needs the new year to roll around to realize that your rolls make you round? You only need a mirror and a decision. Stop beating yourself up about falling off the wagon. Lord knows there are plenty of other people out there waiting to do it for you. (By the way, nobody is perfect; shouldn’t “Mr. Negativity” be on his own freakin’ wagon anyway?)

If you fell off the wagon, don’t just lay there, get back up! If you’ve already missed your wagon, don’t get discouraged. There’s another one coming whenever YOU’RE ready. And when it does, it’ll be a better one anyhow because it will be on YOUR time with YOUR commitment––it’ll be YOUR wagon, not the party bus that comes around when the bell tolls 12.

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. ~1 Peter 2:15

Giving up is what makes defeat permanent. ~Stacy Allison, first American woman to climb Mt. Everest

You can’t go back and make a new beginning, but you can start today and make a new ending. ~Unknown

A bend in the road is not the end of the road. . . unless you fail to make the turn. ~Unknown

And our assignment for the day is to permit the courage of Christ to override the condemnation of the critic. ~Steven Furtick

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Practical Advice

Get the 3 C’s:

Commitment: If you don’t commit, you will quit!
Cheering Squad: To help you celebrate your victories and conquer your setbacks.
Christ: With Him, nothing is impossible! He’s the confidence you need.

Make SMART goals:

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Timely

Out With the Old, In With the New

For many of us, a new year tends to be a time to think about some of the things in our lives that need a change or improvement. Years ago during my stint in dialysis (I did it for 7 years so I guess it was a little more than just a “stint”), we received thirty brand-new hi-tech machines at the bargain basement price of $14,000 each. Picture an ATM machine with many fancy buttons and features on them used to cleanse the blood of people with kidney failure. The life-saving nature of the machine with its electronic features make it both very valuable and fairly fragile. As you can imagine then, they are shipped in huge, sturdy boxes with plywood bases and fitted with large pieces of styrofoam. They were such that it required a large construction dumpster to dispose of them. During the process, the employees used the dumpster as an opportunity to rid themselves of some old, unused, and unneeded junk that was just cluttering up the facility.

The new year is a similar time in our lives. A time to open the box that holds new possibilities. A time to rid ourselves of the “junk” that clutters our lives and often bogs us down from our true potential. Do you find yourself holding onto the past? Do you have a difficult time trying new things or trying things a new way? Do you carry around extra “baggage” that weighs you down? Do you like your cheese right where it is (Read “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D.)? Do you have ideas in that untapped potential of yours that you have not acted upon? The start of the new year is the perfect  time to fill up a “construction dumpster” with your problems and make room for your potential. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Like Tony Little says, “You can do it!” (Think obnoxious exercise equipment infomercial.)

Speech Impediment

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. ~ James 1:19-20

This is my prayer for me. This is what I’m asking you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to stand in agreement with me on, that is, keeping my trap shut; it’s what I really suck at. I continually tell my daughter not to say anything if she doesn’t have anything nice to say but find that I don’t really practice what I preach. I am sometimes (or maybe even more often than I recognize) callous with people, including my own family. There have been several occasions in the last couple of weeks that have brought me to this realization. I detest this about me, or more importantly, detest how it likely makes people feel; I am sick of myself and need a change!

Don’t get me wrong, in spite of myself, I’m still a “success” by most people’s standards. I still have friends (that aren’t necessarily like me), I develop great rapport with my patients, I am a trusted and respected team member at work and church, my wife and daughter love me anyway, and most of my family still speak to me. But is it because they have learned to overlook that about me? And how many people have I hurt in the process of “being myself?” Would I even like me if I was my own best friend?

When used with discretion, being direct with people can be a good quality. That’s just not me though––I‘m abrasive instead of assertive, my comments can be hurtful rather than helpful. When I look back over the years, I think I’ve been (and am) a real horse’s rear at times. You may not see it (thank goodness) but that’s because writing is a little different. I have time to formulate my thoughts, proofread what I’ve written, and hold it to rigorous standards. That’s exactly the kind of model that I need to apply to the words I speak. Easier said than done.

Like the praise song, please pray that the Lord would change my heart to demonstrate the righteous life of God that is within me. That He would give me the discipline and ability to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, saying only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs and benefiting those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).

That’s the “speck in my eye” right now. Do you have a vice or shortcoming for which we can stand in prayer together?