Archive for May 2014

A Lesson With Contractions

May 30, 2014

The English language can be difficult even for those who are born and raised on it. An example is the way we tend to confuse the words “can’t” and “won’t.”

A little boy had climbed the tree in his back yard with no problem at all. Finding a way to get back down, however, was another challenge altogether. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and, like most boys with a whole day of opportunity, Timothy’s adventures had led him to the idea of climbing among the limbs of the Mulberry tree.

After enjoying a few minutes sitting on the limb and watching the world from way up high, or so it seemed to him, three attempts at climbing back down were frightening and difficult. Beginning to panic, the boy called out, and then cried out, “Dad. Dad! DAD! Help!” At Timothy’s age, Dad was still a hero who could do absolutely anything.

Dad quickly came to the rescue. He was amazed that Timothy had climbed so high. Standing beneath the tree and directly under his son, Dad instructed, “It’s okay, Timmy. I’ve got you. Just slowly scoot yourself toward the edge of the limb and let go. I will catch you.” He had a sense of confidence in his voice, but Timothy was not so certain.

Then he determined, “Dad, I can’t!” Now, you and I know that statement was not true. There was nothing physically hindering the boy from doing as his Dad suggested. What he meant was, “I won’t!” He could have said it in other ways: I don’t want to; I’m afraid to try it; I don’t believe you can catch me. Yet, his words and thoughts were, “I can’t.”

Well, after some coaxing and reassurance, Timothy finally discovered and proved that he could do it, and he was brought safely back to earth by his Dad, who came through one more time.

The mind is a powerful instrument. It can convince us of almost anything if we allow it to do so, whether positive or negative. Athletes, entertainers, writers, lawyers, teachers, soldiers – – they all will agree that confidence enhances performance, and lack of confidence can derail performance. Of course, we should acknowledge and accept that there actually are some things we cannot do, some things we cannot know, and some things we cannot see.

We also should admit that too often we fall short of our best by convincing ourselves that “we can’t” when we really do not know that to be a fact. We are so confident in our knowledge of probabilities that we give up too easily. Someone inquires of us, “Have you asked Bill?” Our response often may be, “No, but he’ll probably turn me down.”

William F. O’Brien is credited with the statement, “I’d rather try and fail than never try at all,” and Henry Ford declared, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.” This reminds me that after working through negative probabilities and self-doubt, the Little Engine finally believed he could, and he did.

Where’s the Fire?

May 23, 2014

JUST THINKING:  In 1899 Jacob German of New York City became the first driver to be arrested for speeding.  The posted speed limit was 12 miles per hour.  He was really in a hurry!!!  On one of my recent trips I was cruising along at 70mph enjoying some quiet time with the Lord and the beautiful scenery of His world when, seemingly out from nowhere, a vehicle swooshed by me headed to a fire (I presumed…”where’s the fire?).  It happened too quickly for me to see the driver, but I can tell you that he was in one of those little “Smart” cars that appeared to have his tires about 2 feet off the pavement!  He had to be doing 85 or 90!

     Anyway, Jacob began a long list of men and women who would be cited for excessive speed in a vehicle.  In fact, there is a strong chance that the majority of our readers today are on that list!  Yes, I confess that I am one of them 😦    Whatever it is in us that wants to go faster, farther, quicker, is what makes it so very difficult to “wait on the Lord” and to “be still” and know Him as God of all the heavens and earth.

     Back in Jacob’s day people sat on their front porch on Sunday afternoons and many evenings to simply relax and unwind.  Oh that we could find an hour to just stop – no cell phone, no hurrying here or there – just a slow quiet, waiting with the Lord.

“C” Words We Try to Avoid

May 9, 2014

by Steven J. Callis

I attended the memorial service of a lifelong friend last week. What he thought to be severe sinus, then a wisdom tooth problem, then TMJ, turned out to be cancer in the neck and throat. He would have preferred dental surgery over chemo and radiation, for sure. The battle lasted less than a year.

Cancer is a cruel enemy. It likes to be in charge. It demands its own way. It gives no thought to setting its own time schedule and ignoring one’s priorities. It is painful and debilitating. It refuses to succumb even to the pleas of the wealthy and healthy and powerful and beautiful. It cares nothing for age, gender, ethnicity, education, or politics. It is a friend to no one.

Commitment is another “C” word many people like to avoid. It, too, is very demanding. It insists on being number one. It expects to be permanent; to be written in stone. It has no room for slackers and half-hearts. Like cancer, it will not be compromised by age, gender, ethnicity, education, or politics. It will not give in to the rich and powerful. From the least to the greatest of those who choose it, commitment demands absolute loyalty.

My friend is an example of what these words can do to a person. He did not choose cancer, it chose him. In its normal fashion, cancer turned his world upside down and did a number on him physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is a disease that cannot seem to help itself. Yet, its havoc-wreaking attack did not cause complete devastation. That was its goal, but it failed.

For in the midst of this intense battle, priorities of life were examined and commitments were evaluated. Despite all the bad it caused, the battle led my friend to a place where his faith in Christ and his love for others were solidified. Oh, he had faith, and he had friends and family, but these changes in his life circumstances made his focus more about others and less about self. His Cancer became a Catalyst for Complete Commitment.

We would expect a bleak prognosis such as untreatable cancer to send its victim into a frightening, dangerous, downward spiral of emotions and energy. Not so for my friend and others who become motivated to settle their debates and unanswered questions. His newfound commitments gave him a peace, a positive outlook, and a heart for those around him.

Cancer is not the key to that equation. Commitment is the key. It is a “C” word that will be your friend and take you to the better places of life when you give yourself to it. That is especially true when your highest commitment is to your relationship with Jesus Christ.