March 29, 2011

Do You Walk the Walk?

Recently, Nancy and I wasted nearly two hours watching the movie The American starring George Clooney. We know others watching the same film might think it deserves an Academy Award, but we wish we had used the time more productively.

I have always had difficulty managing my time at work and especially in my private life. Experts suggest the secret to managing our time is to set long term goals according to what is important to us, then devote eighty percent of our time each day at work or at home to accomplish our goals. “Work smarter, not harder” is the mantra we should adopt.

Back in 1977, I prepared a list of long term goals I hoped to accomplish before I die. As I review that list today, I find it embarrassing that the only goal involving my faith in God was a commitment to attend church every Sunday. I certainly knew then, and I’m even more convinced now, that discipleship requires much more than regular church attendance.

Discipleship is reflected in everything we do, every decision we make, every opinion we hold, every amusement we seek and every action we take. Most important, a lifetime goal of discipleship should reflect our commitment to the teachings of Jesus through our devotion to God and our service to others.

In Stanley Kubrick’s award winning film, Full Metal Jacket, a battle tested veteran chastises a pompous new arrival to the Viet Nam War with this candid inquiry: “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?”

Jesus challenges each of us who love him to “walk the walk” of action-oriented discipleship.

March 5, 2011

A Magic Moment

One summer vacation when our grandchildren were teenagers, they created a game they called Bucket of Words. It involved describing a word to your teammates which was contributed by the opposing team. You were given only thirty seconds to accomplish that task, and of course, you couldn’t say the word or any part of it.

Grandson Ryan was an English major and an experienced Scrabble player, so his team won often by stumping the opposition with words like zeolite and zoon.

I didn't play, but if I had, my contribution would have been Selah, a word that appears seventy-four times in the Bible, seventy-one times in Psalms alone. Selah is a difficult Hebrew word to translate, so I suspect it would have stumped everyone.

The definition I like best is that Selah is a prompt for a pause . . . a suggestion to stop for a moment, to think, to meditate, to reflect and to sense God's presence.

Margaret Alexander was an accomplished poet and artist who devoted many hours to capturing the awesome beauty of the hills and valleys of the Finger Lakes. When she sold her home overlooking Keuka Lake to Nancy and me in 1974, Margaret gave us several of her paintings. On the back of one she called Mellow Autumn Haze, Margaret wrote:

"Mellow autumn haze brings peace after turbulence. There is an instant just before sunset when all is enhanced . . . ordinary things are jeweled. We call it, The Magic Moment."

We should all look for the Magic Moments in our lives, and when they occur, may we pause to think, to meditate, to reflect and to appreciate God’s presence in our lives. Selah