October 26, 2009

Taking Yourself Apart


I recently heard stand-up comedian Jeanne Roberts say to her audience, “I have looked each one of you in the eyes at least once, and some of you need to make changes or I won’t look your way again.”  Then she added, “You need to take yourself apart and leave some pieces out when you put yourself back together.”


Apparently, some people in her audience didn’t think her jokes were funny.


Jeanne Roberts raises an intriguing question.  If we could take ourselves apart like a giant Leggo construction, what would we leave out when we put ourselves back together?


Among the personality traits I would leave out would be the tendancy to talk too much and listen too poorly. And surely, I would omit my tendency to feel sorry for myself when my life doesn’t go exactly the way I hoped or planned. 


As with most things we don’t appreciate about ourselves, these character flaws can be fixed, and admitting them is the first step in changing. I think I just did that.


Among the characteristics I would be certain to leave in when I put myself back together would be my enduring love and appreciation for my family and my firm and unwavering belief and faith in my Lord Jesus Christ.


What would you leave out? What would you leave in?


October 17, 2009

Pollution of the Heart


In Genesis, we read that God created the world and when he was done, he saw that it was good. Well, it was good, but we and generations of our ancestors have selfishly changed that. Through the ages, we have killed , burned, ravaged, abused and contaminated our lands, our waters and our air.


But there is another kind of contamination that few people other than clergy speak about.  That is pollution in our hearts.


A church congregation was looking for a new minister, and one of the requirements was that the candidates have a Ph.D..  


After nearly thirty years in higher education, I am convinced there is not an absolute correlation between degrees earned and the quality of teaching. And I wonder what the members of the pulpit committee would say if they realized their requirement would exclude the Reverend Billy Graham from consideration.


Arrogance and vanity, as well as  jealousy, lust, greed, indifference, anger or bitterness are pollutants of another kind that can affect the lives of each one of us.


Let us never forget they can kill the love in our hearts just as pollution in God’s natural world can kill your heirs and mine.


Blessings from Gp Westerdahl


October 8, 2009

Predicting Success


Many years ago, when I was a college director of admissions, I created a formula for predicting a student’s grades in the freshman year at my school. The prediction was accurate in seventy-five percent of the cases within half a letter grade, so if I predicted a 3.0 average, the chances were three out of four the student would earn a grade between 2.5 and 3.5.


The formula depended on two factors ——  high school rank in class and the results of the College Board Scholastic Aptitude Tests. 


The one factor which couldn't be measured but would more accurately estimate a candidate’s level of achievement is a student’s determination to succeed. As a matter of fact, if resolve and commitment to succeed could be measured, the other factors would be much less significant.


In almost anything we do in life, determination will often define the degree to which we are successful.


God has endowed each of us with varying abilities, but no one is limited in the desire and effort to accomplish his goals in whatever he chooses to do.


These wise words from the Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda say it well: “The determination to win is the better part of winning.” 


Blessings from Gpa Westerdahl


October 1, 2009

Selecting Disciples


Imagine you are living 2,000 years ago, and you have been chosen as a member of a selection committee to determine who will assist Jesus in his ministry.  These are the men who will walk with Jesus, hear his sermons and witness his miracles. 


Yours is an awesome responsibility, for no one will know Jesus as well as the people you select for discipleship.


Unfortunately, none of the candidates you interview are qualified to assist Jesus.


Peter is a a blundering, clumsy and impulsive fisherman with a lurid vocabulary and a terrible temper.


James and John are impatient, ambitious and arrogant. Judas is volatile, unpredictable and dangerous.  Matthew is only interested in money.


The fact is none of these men or any of the rest of the candidates are qualified to walk with Jesus.


But these are the men Jesus chose ___ rough, crude, selfish, impulsive, quick tempered, cautious, greedy and vain. But when they became disciples of Jesus, they were changed, and they became one body in Christ.


When we walk with Jesus, we also become one body in Christ, and our guilt and shame, fears and despair, frustration and indecision are washed away and we begin a life-changing experience.


Blessings from Gpa Westerdahl