I heard a story on the radio recently of a policeman who was searching a man. As he went through his pockets he discovered several bags full of illegal drugs. Before he could say anything, the man gave him an exasperated look and said, “These aren’t my pants!”
Did you know that bugle calls are sometimes used for giving commands to large formations of soldiers? Rather than have the adjutant or commander of troops yell out the command, a simple bugle call suffices. But if the bugler accidently sounds the wrong tone or series of notes, the formation will be in trouble. They might present arms (salute) instead of coming to attention, or go to parade rest instead of making a facing movement.
My son Bryan was invited to share his story at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He was one of two featured speakers on a night when almost every participant in the room shared some kind of disability. Disabilities included Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), asthma, depression, cancer, arthritis, etc. Each person was asked to write a poem about their challenges and to highlight what was bad as well as what was good. Then, throughout the evening, volunteers could come to the front of the room and share what they wrote.
John the Baptist was discouraged. The imprisoned forerunner to Jesus was unable to personally witness Jesus at work. He begin to have doubts as to if Jesus truly was the Messiah. So he sent his disciples to ask the Lord, “Are You the One who is come, or should we look for someone else?” It was an honest question from a godly prophet.
Luke 7:22--He replied to them, “Go and report to John the things you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.
There is a popular phrase passed along by leaders, “Always praise publically, criticize or correct privately.” Unfortunately, this gets violated all too often in organizations where insecure or unthoughtful people publicly criticize employees, family members, or co-workers. I once had a fellow team member complain to the program director over his offense at some of my closing remarks. Rather than just come and tell me, he went “over my head.” When the director mentioned his complaint to me I was surprised and lost respect for a fellow leader who prides himself in leading yet was unprofessional by not speaking directly to me.
AC Stein fought as an infantryman in the Korean War. During one ground battle AC was pinned down in a trench under severe artillery bombardment. His comrades were dying all around him when suddenly the man next to him was shot and mortally wounded. In great fear, AC recited the only Jewish prayer he could remember from his childhood. As he looked up at a bare tree above him he saw an angel sitting there. The angel said, “AC, you will live. Just stay down in the trench.” As it turned out he was the only man to survive that heavily-attacked ditch.
The word eristicis of Greek origin and refers to those who argue simply for the purpose of winning, regardless of the reason. The word animus comes to us from Latin and means strong dislike. We know this as animosity. While these two words share nothing in common, I believe that the former can lead to the latter causing the two to become intricately linked.
Do you remember growing up hearing the rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!?” The intent of that couplet is to steel us against teasing and badgering but, the reality is, words can internally leave nasty marks. Cruel, mean-spirited, or foul comments may inflict enduring damage and color the way we view the antagonist.
Professor Richard Wisemen set up a website where users could submit jokes and then rate the funniest one. The winning joke goes like this:
"A couple of hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, and his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls emergency services. He gasps to the operator, “My friend is dead. What can I do?” The operator says, “Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy’s voice comes back on the line. He says, “OK, now what?”
Often each week I focus time in prayer for my family. Specifically, I ask that every one of my children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews would faithfully walk with God and that they would have a deep love for Him. I am thankful that my parents pray the same thing for me! Living for God is never something we can take for granted. The reality, as you already know, is that we live in a temptation-laced world. Our wills constantly grapple with God’s will. So easily we can be enticed to embrace, chase, proclaim and invite into our lives earth’s delicacies that look appealing, yet leave us sick and empty. How many people wander away from God simply because no one is praying for them?
Coach Lou Holtzwas quoted as saying, “Never tell your problems to anyone...20% don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them.” Holtz has a great sense of humor; let’s just hope his findings are inaccurate! Most people don’t want to spend their time listening to others complain. As I write this, I recall a person I used to avoid taking phone calls from because his pattern was to grumble at great lengths about his circumstances. By the end of the call I was irritated. This person never seemed to be happy feeling only bad things were afoot.
We sang in worship this morning a song that included a desire to present to God an inside that was both clean and committed. It reminded me of the words of another song, “Cleanse my heart O God.” I’ve probably sung that song a hundred times without dwelling on the fact that unless my focus is heart-centric cleansing is superficial at best. In any area that I have not surrendered to God from the core of my being, I continue to struggle. For example, I know that when my wife is talking to me I should listen. Yet, because I am intent on getting my work done or enjoying my activity, I do not give her my full attention. Mentally I ought to be able to fix inattentiveness and focus on what Kathleen is saying but without a surrendered heart it is just not so. The problem at the core is I am more concerned with my things than with her things.
You could hear them screaming at each other five offices away. Heads poked out to see what was going on—I was afraid words would escalate to blows, but fortunately that did not happen. Don looked like he was going to have a heart attack, his face was beet red and he was shaking. Rich’s jaw was clenched and his palms rolled into fists but with three of us coaxing we managed to get them separated and back into their own offices.
Job 6:24—Teach me, and I will be silent. Help me understand what I did wrong.
As the manager of a midsize division, Lu was responsible for millions of dollars of merchandise and about a hundred employees. The CEO was impressed by her tenacity and creative mind in fixing problems. The board saw her as a rising star so almost everyone was shocked when she resigned. She gave her new boss Calvin virtually no advance notice of her intentions and left at a time of major restructuring. Lu had accepted the offer of a smaller division within the same company but located in another state. She felt the job, though less prestigious, was a better fit for her skill set and it was much closer to her family.
In his book, Lincoln on Leadership, Donald Phillips quotes Abraham Lincoln in a conversation with the Assistant Secretary of Navy, Gustavus Fox, “A man has not time to spend half his life in quarrels. If any man ceases to attack me, I never remember the past against him.” Earlier in October of 1863, Lincoln sternly reprimanded Army Captain James Cutts, “No man resolved to make the most of himself, can spare time for personal contention. Still less can he afford to take all the consequences, including the vitiating of his temper, and the loss of self-control.” President Lincoln had little patience for arguments. Rather than let himself get bogged down by incessant disputes he chose to live above the fray. At a time when America was deeply divided in war, his personal conduct created the path to restoring union.