November 8, 2016

The Remarkable Human Brain

Most of us remember long tedious hours in libraries researching subjects for papers that were required in our high school and/or college courses.  Today, thanks to the marvel of technology, we type a few words in our favorite search engine, and we are offered more information than we can possibly use.

At a high school program in the late fifties, a scientist told a group of seniors that one day people would carry a small device which would enable them to call anyone with a telephone anywhere in the world. At the time, most students probably considered the prediction to be science fiction, and if the speaker had known what we are able to do with our phones today, he may have regarded that reality as beyond his imagination.

We live in a remarkable technological age when discoveries that stagger our senses are announced every day. Unfortunately, we often forget what it was that created the incredible products and services which we use daily. That marvel of biological engineering is a machine more complex than any smart device available today. It is the human brain. And who or what is responsible for our remarkable inventive minds? 

Deepak Chopra, one of the master teachers of Eastern philosophy in the Western world, has written a new book titled, God. In it he makes this observation:
"The human brain, so far as we know, is the most complex thing in existence. Was it really a product of random choice over the past 13 billion years? To believe in randomness as the only creative force in nature, one physicist quipped, is like saying that a hurricane blew through a junkyard and built a Boeing 777.”
We marvel at the human brain and what it can accomplish. Perhaps we should take a moment and recognize and give thanks to our Creator who conceived it. 

August 24, 2016

Get Out of the Boat

For most of my career, I was a college admissions officer, the school administrator charged with the responsibility for determining which applicants were qualified to study at my institution.

Because of my work in admissions, I was more than a little interested in a conversation I had with the chairman of a church committee appointed to determine the attributes and personality traits a person should possess to qualify for the ministry.

Pardon me, but I always thought people were "called" to the ministry. I didn't realize there were specific qualifications, or, as Max Lucado puts it in his most recent book, Outlive Your Life, "God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called."

Jesus called Peter to get out of his boat and, “Follow me.” With that simple overture, Peter was invited to leave his family, his friends and his way of life to walk with Jesus.

And who was this impulsive fisherman Jesus chose to be a disciple and his Rock? The New Testament describes Peter as a blundering, impetuous, hypocrite whose vocabulary was unpolished and coarse. But Jesus didn’t choose Peter because he was brilliant, well educated, sophisticated or because he scored well on a psychological test or personality inventory. Peter was not called because of what he was but what he could become.

It is astonishing to recognize that when we accept the call to “Get out of the boat,” it’s not because of who we are or what we have done. When we choose to follow Jesus, we are forgiven for the sins we have committed, and we are given an opportunity to change and to live the life Christ wants us to live.

July 12, 2016

Six Simple Rules for a Happy Relationship

David Isay, recipient of numerous broadcasting honors and author/editor of numerous books, is also the founder of a remarkable oral history project called StoryCorps. It’s a very simple idea. With help from a facilitator, a couple in a relationship or any two family members face one another and for forty minutes one asks questions then listens.

When the interview ends, the participants walk away with a CD of the conversation, and a second copy is sent to the Library of Congress so that someday descendants will hear their voices and their stories.

Isay’s newest book, All There Is, is a collection of stories about relationships gathered from those sessions. He calls it a “a testament to the heart’s remarkable endurance."

Eighty-five year old Leroy Morgan’s story is about his long and happy marriage which he attributes to the following six statements he and his wife, Vivian, use with each other: (1)You look great; (2) Can I help; (3) Let’s eat out; (4) I was wrong; (5) I am sorry; and, most important, (6) I love you.

Those six simple statements summarize in less than twenty words the key to any satisfying and happy relationship.

Leroy’s statements can also be paraphrased and applied to our relationship with God:

(1) Appreciate the beauty of God’s natural world; (2) Help those who are not as rich in blessings as you are; (3) Give thanks for your daily bread; (4) Confess your sins; (5) Ask forgiveness for your sins; and most important, the first and greatest commandment: (6) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

Link to StoryCorps

June 12, 2016

Dealing with Stress

Rising costs, increasing debt, lower home values, unemployment, natural disasters, lives lost in two wars and the longest recession since World War II would be enough to create stress for any American. But in addition, we can all have anxious moments just dealing with health problems, the pressures of work and family life, or our relationships with each other.

Stress is a common problem in our fast-paced action-oriented society, and it’s not limited to any income, education or socio economic status. Regardless of our station in life, we all regularly face situations which cause anxiety and even fear.

How is your courage and confidence when you face stressful situations that can make our lives miserable? If you are searching for the inner strength to face your problems, perhaps it’s time to reexamine your faith in God, for if you believe in God, you have the power to face stress and adversity without fear or anxiety. And that power is available to you any time, any place and in any circumstance.

We know because it is written again and again in Scripture. Here are just a few examples:
Joshua said it: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Timothy said it: “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and of self discipline.
And David said it in Scripture we all know: “Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”
In times of stress, in days and nights of trouble, I invite you to believe the Grace of God can help you find the strength and courage to respond with confidence to every problem, every difficulty, every broken heart and every human sorrow.