Saturday, July 9, 2016

Dan's 7 Simple Rules for Surviving Life and Being a Better Person

How are you doing in coping with the dangerous world in which we live? The following are my 7 simple rules for survival and being a better person in the process. Sit back, relax, read on, and I hope you find something practical in this post. Here we go...

1. When hiking, stay on the trail. Resist the urge to venture into the woods. You are not Daniel Boone. 20 yards off the trail surrounded by thick forest and you can easily lose your sense of direction. You then have no idea how to get back to the trail. You shall then be featured on the 6:00 news as a swarm of rescuers search for you in an effort to save your life. I once hiked alone through Red River Gorge in Kentucky and I lived to tell the tale because I stayed on the clearly marked trails.

2. Don’t bully people or pick a fight with anyone - ever. That person you are so sure you can beat up just might turn the tables and beat you to within an inch of your life. Remember that Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” This truth may save you a needless trip the hospital and a wounding to your body and your pride. And, most likely, someone will video you getting your hat handed to you and you will be humiliated before a worldwide YouTube audience. Just remember, you are not Chuck Norris.

3. When swimming in a lake or river, wear a lifejacket. There is no shame and nothing unmanly in taking steps to assure you do not drown. Many people have drowned because they overestimated their swimming ability. Do not make this fatal mistake. You are not Mark Spitz (If you’re under 40, please Google search him – he was an Olympic gold medal swimmer - the best).

4. Be kind. The world is a mean, hateful, and harsh place and growing more so all of the time. Jesus said we reap what we sow. Sow kindness and it will come back to you. You aren’t Jesus, but you can follow His example and you will be blessed for doing so.  Lend a hand, give a nice word, go the extra mile, be patient, be less judgmental, and be forgiving.

5. Try listening more and speaking less. Someone has said we have one mouth and two ears and we ought to use them accordingly. You do not have to be the life of the party. You are not Jim Gaffigan, nor should you attempt to be. You do not have to be the center of attention. Stop topping everyone’s stories. Learn to sit back, relax, listen, and allow others to have the glory. People will love you for it and you will be a more relaxed, laid back person whose perspective is ever growing and expanding to the greater needs all around you.

6. Try being more positive. No one likes being around an incessant complainer. We all know life is hard, difficult, and we all have problems and frustrations, which is why we all benefit from positivity. Stop and consider what you are saying and the nature of your conversation. Be honest, because complainers and critical people (you criticizers are next) rarely see these traits in themselves, but are quick to point them out in others. Instead of griping and complaining, try listening (please review #5), and when it’s your turn to speak, say something positive and encouraging. I know you get no respect, but you aren’t Rodney Dangerfield (please find him on YouTube kids), and your complaining isn’t amusing to anyone.

7. Don’t be critical. Being around critical, complaining, and negative people is exhausting because they drain all our emotional resources. Are there people whose numbers appear on your caller ID and you sometimes don’t answer because right then you lack the emotional strength to handle them? Strive to not be such a person. Work toward being the kind of person that your friends and family welcome your call because you rarely complain and you never criticize others. Instead of criticizing others, seek to learn from them. Rather than criticize people, try seeing life from their point of view. Rather than criticize your boss, co-workers, friends, and whoever else is on your list, try praying for them instead. Everyone is carrying a hard burden. Stop being critical, hateful, and judgmental. You are not a politician running for public office. Well, most likely you aren’t.

I hope all of this is helpful. It is going to be a great day.

As always, comment are encouraged.

God bless you.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dear Lord, Just Get me Through This!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair.  II Corinthians 4:8

Have you ever prayed, "Dear Lord, please get me through this?"  All of us have at some time or another.  Life gets hard, challenging, and difficult, and sometimes we wonder how much more we can take.  My friends, take heart, for the Lord is faithful and the Lord is with us.  God is on our side and wants to help us through whatever trials we are facing. 

The following video devotion is about trusting God and pressing on when we feel we can go no further.  God calls us to victory, not to just get by.  Be encouraged today, and while you are here, check out my version of one of my favorite songs, Boy Like Me, by Rich Mullins.  I pray you are blessed and encouraged by your time today here on my blog. 

God bless you, my friends.  Keep looking up and keep trusting God.  A better, brighter day is coming.  It's going to be a great day.

God bless you.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Don't be Overcome by Emotion, but be Guided by God's Spirit

Something we will never regret is practicing godly patience.  Have you grown impatient lately?  We all have at some point - many times.  Do not worry, for the Lord understands and wants to help us grow in faith, grace, and patience.  I pray the following thoughts encourage you and make your day a little better and your outlook a little brighter.

God has a plan - keep trusting Him, for a better, brighter day is coming.

God bless you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Matthew 12:34, Out of the Overflow of the Heart the Mouth Speaks

Be blessed my friends.  It's going to be a great day!  Trust God and keep moving forward, for a better, brighter day is coming.  God bless you.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Have You Become Bitter? Overcome it With a Thankful Heart

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  –Philippians 4:11

We are finally experiencing the first truly cold weather of winter, and like it or not, we are bound to have to deal with it for the next few months. I was outside yesterday breathing the cold air and considering how it felt.  This air has an arctic feel to it, which makes sense, because according to the people who are weather experts, the freezing air is blowing down from out of the north and we are indeed feeling it. 

I was sitting on my couch the other night, looking at my two dogs, one curled up beside me on the couch (she isn’t supposed to be on the furniture), and the other snoozing comfortably on the floor.  We are the type of dog people who allow our dogs to reside indoors, much to their delight, especially on cold nights like that one.  I know there are many of my friends who have dogs and while they may not allow them inside the house, they make sure they have a place to sleep outside to escape this harsh weather.  I admit there are times when I feel a little guilty about how comfortable my dogs live when there are countless people in the world, many in my own community, who go without proper food, clothing, and shelter.  Assisting those in need is an ongoing challenge and Jesus said we are to reach out to those needs however possible (Matthew 25:35-40).  Jesus also said the poor we will always have with us (Matthew 26:11), so the needs will always be there.  Christ calls us to be aware of the needs around us and seek to reach out to others in any way possible.  We can all be involved by assisting local charities, food drives, and volunteering at homeless shelters.  Compared with millions of people in the world who go daily without basic life necessities, I live like a king.  Therefore my dogs, who reside with me, do as well.

I write often of how we all go through life struggles, and in the midst of them we easily become discouraged.  Never forget there is hope in the Lord; He brought you through and He will do so again.  Unless we are careful, we become bitter, and bitterness is an ugly condition, especially for anyone desiring to walk by faith and live victoriously.  Recognize the signs of bitterness:

  •       Negativity
  •     Cynicism
  •     Unwillingness to forgive
  •     Misdirected anger towards those we love
  •     Disrupted sleep patterns
  •     Loss of appetite or seeking comfort in food
  •     Anger at God

All of these are warning signs that bitterness has taken hold of us.  God’s Word warns us of ever being on our guard lest a bitter root take hold in our hearts (Hebrews 12:15).  By faith, we rise up and with God’s help overcome bitterness and all its ugly characteristics.  When you feel bitterness setting in, stop and take a look at what you have.  Like me, most of you reading this have much to be thankful for.  Stop and count your many blessings.  Learn daily to develop a thankful heart, which leads to a positive outlook.  I am striving to learn, as did Paul the Apostle, that with God’s help, I can be contented in any and all circumstances.  

Look up, be thankful, and trust the Lord each day.

God bless you.

Monday, January 4, 2016

God Brought you Through, He Will do so Again

Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."  Luke 9:62

One of the blessings of living in the neighborhood in which we reside is having quiet streets to walk our dogs, Ada and Leon.  I have a common route I follow for nearly every walk, call me a creature of habit, and the dogs and I can cover it in about thirty minutes of brisk walking.  Midway through the walk is Green Hill Road, part of which traverses a steep upgrade.  By the time we reach the top, I am usually winded, but my walking companions trudge playfully up the hill as if they had hardly walked at all.  It’s a great walk and I always feel a sense of accomplishment every time I make it to the top of that hill.  I will sometimes glance back over my shoulder to see what was accomplished.  A feeling of gratitude follows.  “Thank you, Lord, for helping me up this hill, and thank you I’m alive and healthy to experience it!”  Our walk continues with renewed strength.

Jesus spoke of ever moving forward in faith, summarized in the verse about those who put their hands to the plow and look back are not worthy of God’s Kingdom.  What about the farmer who plows a row and then looks back over what he has done?  Why might this be a problem?  The act of looking back only becomes problematic when our attitude becomes one of regret and longing for what used to be.  As Jesus’ followers, we abandon old attitudes, bad habits, and self-centeredness.  We move forward daily growing in Christ’s love, grace, and mercy.  We become keenly aware of the people around us and their hurts, pain, and personal anguish.  The focus is off of us and instead we look to how we can make a positive difference in the world.

All the while we are of course going through our own unique struggles.  We all have trials, frustrations, family problems, financial pressures, and challenges at our places of employment.  Yet, despite our own struggles, Christ empowers us to new hope, renewed strength, and peace that passes all human understanding (Philippians 4:7).  Problems do not disappear when we receive Christ.  Instead, we have spiritual power for rising up, confronting our trials, and going forward in victory and power.  Thus, God empowers us to shine Jesus’ light to a lost and hurting world that desperately needs hope.

I often look back, but not in longing for the man I was before I knew Christ.  i do not long for the sins of my youth.  Rather, I look back and rejoice over the battles, struggles, and difficulties the Lord brought me through.  You can do likewise.  No doubt, you have been through all sorts of difficulties.  Have faith, for God will bring you through whatever problems you are facing right now. 

God brought you through before; He will do it again.  Look ahead and trust the Lord, for He has a plan for your life.

God bless you.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Never Get Over the Wonder of Life

There was a time in my life when I wasn’t at least a little tired; I think it was when I was seven. Kids always have unlimited energy, like fully charged batteries that never drain. Eventually, we become adults with grown-up responsibilities, such as jobs, spouses, kids, and a mortgage, and suddenly we realize the stamina all this requires. The naps we hated as children become something longed for like mirages in the desert. We are dying of thirst, and fatigue, and if only we could lie down in that blissful oasis, even for a short while, we would be re-born. Ah yes, we would recline in streams of cool water, close our eyes in ecstasy, and emerge refreshed and ready to take on the world. Like David facing Goliath, we could whip anyone.

When I was seven, I was never tired. Such boundless energy has a source, which is the wonder of life. Children today have lost touch with said wonder, and therein lies the tragedy. When I was seven, my brother and I received Superman suits as gifts from our parents. Someone in the copyright department was sleeping through this epoch of my childhood because I remember well that Superman logo screaming “copyright infringement” to a slumbering world, yet somehow no one noticed or sued anyone. We ripped the plastic covers off our suits, donned our costumes, and flew about the house, arms outstretched before us, bright red capes streaming behind us, like super heroes seeking dangerous criminals. Numerous passes through the kitchen and dining room perhaps caused our parents to reevaluate the wisdom of their gift. Right before takeoff, I recall reading a warning label printed in the cover of our Superman suits, which said, “Warning: this suit does not give wearer the ability to fly.” I said, “Hey Tom, look at this; someone thinks wearing this suit will make him fly.” My brother returned my derisive jest with a pitying gaze, and then he raised his arms before him and was again in flight.

I doubt any seven year old kids today would surrender their IPod, laptops, video games, or smartphones, even for a moment to fly around the house in a Superman suit. That is a shame, because they do not know what they are missing. They would discover overlooked delights. They already possess the energy. They simply need a positive outlet.

I am always looking for a positive outlet or something which will give me energy. Maybe I will find a Superman suit and go for a fly around the house. I wonder if the neighbors would think it odd if they saw me cruising the neighborhood, arms outstretched, red cape wildly flapping behind me as I ran down the street seeking to right the world’s injustices. My wife would not blink an eye. She has already lived through my phases of, I want a motorcycle, I think I will get a Corvette, I am certain I can climb Mount Everest, perhaps I will become a mixed martial arts fighter, and the latest, I am certain I could be the next “American Ninja Warrior” champion.

Never be fearful of dreams, for they are energizing. Live, dream, aspire. Thank God for every day. Make the most of life and redeem the time we have. Never get over the wonder of life.

God bless you today.