February 25, 2012

Reminiscing

Recently, our favorite station on the car radio playing music of the forties and fifties featured Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers singing On the Atcheson, Topeka and the Santa Fe.  

The song brought back a memory of an event that occurred on August 3, 1948. The date is recorded in Nancy’s diaries, and the event was a party with high school classmates where we danced to the popular music of the day. One of the songs Nancy and I danced to that night was On the Atcheson, Topeka and the Santa Fe. 

When I heard that song again, I got very nostalgic, and I found myself wishing I were seventeen again experiencing the carefree, happy days of my youth.  

Then another memory brought me back to 2012, and I recalled words written recently by my friend, Gary Schwantz, who after a memorable weekend with family and friends wrote:
“Tonight, I am most cognizant of this life typified by hours afloat in the love of family and these friends. Neither God nor life owes me this extraordinary existence and this weekend. I didn’t miss a single moment and for that I am grateful.”
I suggest that we are all “afloat” in God’s blessings, and while it is enjoyable, some say even healthy, to visit the happy days of our past, let us look to each new day remembering the words of the psalmist who wrote: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" 

February 17, 2012

A Guide for the Information Age

Nancy and I were recently watching a situation comedy on television, and after just a few minutes, we looked at each other, shook our heads, and at the same time, said, “This is stupid.” Having checked the other channels earlier and found nothing we cared to watch, we turned off the TV, and read.

According to the National Association of Broadcasters, Americans spend two hours and fifteen minutes each day watching anyone or more of 3,500 TV stations. I confess that I have watched my share, and on more than one occasion, my time was spent on mindless, inane and sometimes stupid programs. But I watched anyway!

In this, the Information Age, when thousands of stimuli in so many different forms seem to attack our brains without ceasing, most of us need a filtering system to screen out the frivolous, uninspiring and senseless messages that bombard us each day.

The Apostle Paul provides such a guide for us in his letter to the Phillipians written about 61 AD from Rome during Paul’s imprisonment there. Though his words were written 2,000 years ago, they still provide a meaningful guide for our lives today.
“Whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think upon these things.”
The next time we watch TV or surf the web, we will try to remember Paul's words. We invite you to do the same.

February 10, 2012

Roots, Values and Family

At some family reunions, each person who attends wears a name tag which features a set of numbers. For example, a tag might read 3 - 2 - 5 - 7. The translation for that number would be: the third child of the second child of the fifth child of the seventh child of the original couple that immigrated to America. Talk about being aware of your roots!

I believe that knowing we are part of an extended family gives us stability and a sense of who we are. I also believe that family is the first place where children learn about right and wrong.

Dr. Frank Harrington, former Pastor of the Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, the largest Presbyterian Church in the country during his ministry, said:

“Family is the place where children learn honesty, truth, responsibility, right and wrong, about God and our relationship to God, how we relate in love to the other members of the family, to our siblings and to our parents and grandparents.”
Thanks to our parents, my wife and I grew up in homes like Dr.Harrington describes. And thanks to Pastor Judy White and the members of the Bluff Point Methodist Church, Nancy and I are part of an extended family where each week, we are reminded of the values first taught to us by our parents.

Nancy and I are grateful to our parents where those values were learned and and to Pastor Judy and the members of the congregation at Bluff Point where those values are reaffirmed.

February 1, 2012

A Capacity for Tenacity

One email I look forward to each Monday morning is from business consultant and motivational speaker, Rick Houcek. Rick’s column is called 2-Minute Monday Motivator, and his message this week is called The Common Denominator for Success. He suggests that people who succeed “do things people who fail don’t like to do.”

I suggest that doing things others don’t like to do requires perseverance, or as I refer to it, a capacity for tenacity. It is the key to achieving any goal such as quitting smoking, finishing your education, staying healthy or preserving a relationship. Perseverance is also required to lose weight.

I am one of twenty-five members of a local diet and nutrition support group, and together we have lost nearly 250 pounds. Each one of us used a different approach to losing weight, but the one characteristic we had in common is perseverance. In our hearts and in our minds, we were motivated and determined to succeed.

In his second letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul suggests that God has endowed each of us with the capacity to persevere. In the final letter before his execution, Paul wrote:

“God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self discipline.”
It was that power and self discipline that allowed Paul to write in the same letter:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”