Posted tagged ‘life’

Purpose Above Circumstance

May 26, 2016

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

                Setting aside such logistics as finances, practicality, and suitability, what is that one vehicle that you would be driving today?  I was driving behind a car that might fit your dream, or mine.  It was one of those higher-end automobiles whose sticker price would cause many of us to wince.  What would a car like that do to your insurance premium?  Nevertheless, it was a very nice ride. 

                So I had to chuckle at the bumper sticker it displayed – yes, I thought the same thing: “Who in their right mind would place a bumper sticker on a 6o thousand dollar vehicle!  The message was simple:  “I’d rather be driving a Titleist.”  For those of you who may not know, Titleist is a brand of golf ball.  So apparently, he drives a dream car, and golf drives him.

                If people are passionate enough about a thing to warrant branding their vehicles with bumper stickers, we can learn a lot about them!  “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”  What about those proud parents: “My child is an honor student at …” I saw one that read, “If you can read this, thank a teacher;” and a similar one in a small print, “If you can read this, you’re driving too close.”

                What is it that drives you when your feet hit the floor each morning?  We awaken with certain obligations which call for our attention, but what is your true passion?  There may be three or four passions in your life, but likely not more than that.  True passions tend to consume us; they are the matters of life around which everything else exists.

                Recently in the news was an elementary school teacher.  Most teachers I know love their job, and many see it as more of a calling than a career; and they love their students.  Hearing of her high school daughter’s tragic accident less than a mile away, she immediately left her class and was at her daughter’s side in only a couple of minutes.  Even our passions are set by priority.

                What do we do, then, when circumstances bring significant challenges in to the mix of life?  How do we cope with discouragement, with setbacks, and with what the world might call failures? What is our response when it all seems out of whack?  Does your frustration ever push you to the edge?

                A passion is usually some matter in life for which we are willing to sacrifice, to bleed, possibly even to die; it drives us, motivates us.  Our passion provides for us a point of reference when we become uncertain about who we are or what we are supposed to do.  A bumper sticker for it might read, “Purpose above circumstance.”  Our lives should be driven by purpose, and not by circumstances.

                Looking at it from the perspective of Christian faith, Lloyd John Ogilvie writes, “When we are filled with the depression we often feel resulting from our own judgments on ourselves and others, He comes and shows us that He has a task for us which is part of His strategy for changing the world.” 

                Too often we allow circumstances to distort our perspective which alters our thoughts and emotions.  It is true that there will always be challenges in life that upset our plans and practices.  Rather than living ‘under the circumstances,’ I choose to live within my purpose.  Therein is found the will to persevere, the courage to keep moving forward, and a peace of heart and mind, knowing that I have stayed the course of my life’s passion.  

How Long is a Long Time?

November 23, 2015

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

They advertised that is was long lasting. Apparently, my definition of long lasting differs from theirs. Certainly it is a relative term. The claimed it is also circumstantial depending on the frequency and quantity of usage. They really are not to blame, however, as there are other battery brands that make a similar assertions.

In fact, batteries are not the only product on the market that boasts of endurance. Many products in the cosmetics line consistently use the term “long lasting” in promoting their products; lipstick, eyeliner, eye shadow, and even perfume. Then there are building products such as siding, shingles, and lumber. A certain brand of kitty litter claims to have long lasting odor control, and I even saw an ad for a “long lasting temporary tattoo.”

That reminded me of when I was a kid and my mom would make an appointment to get a permanent put in her hair. I was puzzled as to why she had to go back a couple of weeks later to have it done again. I thought she should get a refund and find a new salon! The truth is that she was making an appointment to get a temporary.

It is not a regular practice for me to junk the old and replace with new when the old continues to function satisfactorily. I have had my GPS for 7 years. I had no plans to purchase one, but it was gifted to me by a friend. It has cost me lost time on occasion, but for the most part it has been a worthwhile and helpful companion on the road.

It began to “act up” last Friday night in downtown Atlanta and I spent 45 minutes trying to find I-20 on my own. The diagnosis is fatal; there is no cure for its malady. I mourned to the service technician, “But it’s only 7 years old, just a baby!” He was not amused, and in fact seemed surprised that I had kept it so long!

A man being interviewed was asked how long he expected to live. His reply was thoughtful: “For the rest of my life.” The Psalmist wrote about the limited time each of us has on earth, and exhorted his readers to make the most of every day while the opportunity is before us. For me, I want to do the best I can with what I have while I have it (and while it still works!) in this world. Let’s work together to better our community.

A First Time for EVERYTHING?

July 1, 2014

Steven J. Callis

It was her first time. Emotions ranged from squeals of delight to shrieks of fear. The supervisors were filled with anticipation and excitement. I expect that several years from now her memory of it will be vague and intermingled with similar events. It was, however, fun to experience it with her.

Yes, it was our granddaughter’s first time to visit the beach. Not yet two years of age, the initial sight of the vast ocean and a seemingly endless sandbox did not leave her awestruck, but she realized this was something new. At that age, much of what she encounters is “new” to her, and a person cannot live in a constant state of amazement!

She enjoyed the feel of the sand, putting small scoops of it in the bucket. At low tide she found her own little pond on the beach where she could splash and play. Her mom took her for early morning strolls on the beach. Shells from the ocean were momentarily fascinating.

Then there were the waves. The sight and sound of the rushing water can seem ferocious to a small young girl. Even in daddy’s arms the fear did not quickly subside, but she did manage to sit with mommy close enough to allow the water to ease its way onto the toes. Overall, it was a great “first time” at the beach; she did well.

Do you realize that everything you have ever done or experienced in this life began with your first time? First step, first word, first solid food, first kiss, first clap of thunder, first paycheck, first car ride, first haircut – – even your first breath. Things that you do every day, almost instinctively, you once did for the very first time.

Can you imagine your life without a particular thing you truly enjoy because you were afraid to try it the first time? Almost every day our granddaughter experiences something new. Often it is accompanied by a level of skepticism or fear, but babies are risk takers. The level of trust eventually outweighs the hesitation, and the new thing all too soon becomes routine.

There is a two-fold lesson hidden there: step up to embrace new opportunities, and remember to enjoy those things that have become second nature to you. Wake up and smell the coffee; stop and smell the roses. However you choose to say it, life is too precious and exciting to let it pass as boredom or to take its blessings for granted.

Life is a Gift

November 15, 2013

Life is a Gift

By Steven J. Callis

Do you recall the first words Frosty spoke when he came into existence? “Happy Birthday!”  He knew this was something very special.

As a child, waiting for my birthday to come around made it seem more decadal than annual.  That it was close in proximity to Christmas made the wait seem even longer, whereas my two brothers opened presents at Christmas and then again about 4 and seven months later.  But I had to wait 11 months to get more presents!

As an adult, it seems as though birthdays come much more quickly, and the anticipation has been replaced with dread for some, apathy for others.  While it is not the big deal it was as a child, I still enjoy having a birthday – especially considering the alternative!  But I would be satisfied with simple acknowledgement…oh, and my annual Hershey’s Double Chocolate Cake that my wife makes so well!

A few years ago I attended a birthday party for someone who was turning 100!  It was a very special occasion.  He was dressed in traditional formal attire.  He looked adorable.  The entire family was dressed “to the hilt” for this honorable event.

The celebration included a dinner, nice Korean cuisine.  The cake was a beautiful white Bundt cake. I carried it to the dining table, and it must have weighed 5 pounds!  I discovered that it was a kind of rice cake, called baekseolgi.  It tasted somewhat like angel food cake, but with its own unique texture.

Then there were the presents!  How exciting.  Oh, I neglected to mention that this celebration was not for 100 years, but 100 days.  It is a Korean tradition referred to as Baek-il.  It carries tremendous meaning in the Korean culture.

Long ago in Korea, childhood diseases were common and the survival rate for children was very low. To protect their children, parents refrained from taking the baby outdoors until the 100th day after his or her birth.  It was not until baek-il that the baby was introduced to neighbors, friends and relatives. They believe this event helps to protect the child’s life. They also pray for the child’s continued good health.

It was indeed a special honor for me, the family’s pastor, the offer the prayer for this little guy.  Further, it was a reminder that while many of us take it for granted, life is a precious gift from God that should be treasured and celebrated.

The psalmist David understood this truth.  He wrote his song to God, “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

I may have lost count in the numbering, but I know the date, and I am thankful to celebrate another year of life, and I will express my thanks by living it for God, my Creator.

Saving a Life is Pretty Cool

August 20, 2012

Saving a Life is Pretty Cool – Steven J. Callis

“Saving a life is pretty cool.”  These are the words of Bryce, a 19 year old college student who endured a painful week-long procedure to donate bone marrow to a 47 year old leukemia patient in need of a transplant.  The young man’s mother said the pain he experienced during the process actually brought him to his knees.  He compared it to severely straining a muscle while lifting weights, except all over his body.

            As if this story needs another mark of character in it, Bryce knowingly sacrificed a starting position on his collegiate football team this fall in order to serve as a bone marrow donor.  Because of the procedure, his bones will be too weak to risk playing football this year.  How did he feel about that?  “When you compare losing a passion to losing a life, they are pretty easy to weigh against each other,” Bryce said.

            Bryce’s friend since elementary school is also fighting a battle with leukemia and is in need of a transplant.  While Bryce was not a matching candidate for his friend, he was able to transfer that life-saving desire to help someone else, having learned about the potential while attending a donor drive for his friend.

            This reminds me of a similar story about a little boy whose brother needed a life-saving operation.  The parents explained to him that he had the same blood type as his brother, who would need blood during surgery in order to survive.  Agreeing to give his own blood to save his brother’s life, the nurse made the necessary preparations and then began the procedure.  After a few seconds the parents noticed tears running down his cheeks.  Asking if he was in pain, his quivering lips spoke, “How long before I die?”  In his mind, he thought giving up his blood to save his brother’s life would end his own.

            The Christian faith believes in the crucified and risen Christ, whose volitional, sacrificial death on a cross made atonement for the sins of humankind, by which those who believe receive His gift of eternal life.  Through one man (Adam), sin entered the world, and through One (Jesus), sin is pardoned.  I don’t mean this sacrilegiously, but I think Jesus would agree with Bryce: “Yes, it’s pretty ‘cool’ to save a life.”

If you have not experienced this life-saving gift, I urge you to contact a local church pastor to find out more about God’s gift of life. 

By the way, donating blood could save another person’s life, and you can find more information about that act of kindness through the Red Cross.  Also, doing a simple kind deed for someone else may not save the person’s life, but it could rescue a moment of it.  Reach out and give someone else a reason to smile today.

This Old House

May 8, 2012

This Old House

             Preparation for construction next door to our church building included the demolition of a house that had rested on its foundations for decades.  I can only imagine the many changes it has seen while standing on the corner of that intersection.  Businesses have come and gone, roads have been improved, traffic lights installed, and countless memories existed within its walls over the years.

            While I have no personal connection with the house, it was somewhat heartbreaking as I sat in my parked car and watched the large shovel dismantle that old house with so little effort.  The wood siding, the cement foundation, and even the old brick chimney were no match for the tonnage of equipment which leveled the house in a matter of a couple of hours.  Knowing the house had been in the same family for all its years, I could not help but imagine the stories that lived inside that dwelling – stories we likely will never hear. 

            The words “house” and “home” are synonymous, each referring to a place of dwelling.  In my mind, however, there has always been a technical distinction in that a house is made of bricks, stone, or wood, but a home is made of people – a house can be purchased, but a home must be made.  That idea seems to be shared by some realtors who advertise “homes for sale,” because a home sounds more inviting than a “house for sale.”  So, what is it that makes a home?

            In part, a home is made of events and memories and passages of life.  It is built through sorrows and joys, failings and successes – marks charting growth on the bedroom door frame, Kool-aid stains in the carpet, Christmas mornings around the tree, Thanksgiving dinners, birthday parties, wedding anniversaries, baby’s first steps – people bring life to a house and make it a home.

            What are some of the stories your house would tell?  Often when I phone a particular friend and ask, “Hey, what are you up to today,” I hear his standard response, “Just making memories.”  The powerful Deere 330CL can destroy a house in short order, but the home, built on love and strong moral values, can withstand an incredible barrage of attacks life throws at it.  The home is a significant investment of money, time, activity, and emotion.  Let’s not be too quick to abandon our “home” when tensions or dysfunctions arise, because it is worth saving.  Before you rent the big shovel, remember the old adage, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”

Dr. Steven J. Callis, January 2012


Love What you do

March 30, 2012

Love What You Do – by Steven Callis

I once attended a PGA golf tournament in Charlotte, NC.  Near the clubhouse was a walkway where all the players must travel to reach the golf course.  I stood there for about 45 minutes seeing players walk within 3-5 feet of me, and I wondered what was going through their minds as they were either beginning or ending their round of golf.

Several of the players acknowledged the fans as they passed, and a few of them acted as though they did not even see the crowd.  Fans would sometimes wish a player good luck or “Go get ’em, Phil.”  At one point a well-known golfer in his twelfth year on the Tour walked by and one of the fans said, “Have fun out there.”  Without stopping or missing a beat the player continued walking as he replied, “Can anybody really have fun playing golf?”

I realize many things could have been in his mind at that moment.  He may have been joking, or he may have been missing his family, frustrated by something that happened in the preliminaries, or not feeling well – I certainly do not judge him on that single comment, but it did cause me to think:  man, you get paid to play golf everyday on the world’s most beautiful courses!  The weekend golfer would jump at the opportunity to play free golf, especially on such high caliber golf courses.

Understandably, no matter what a person does for a living, it can sometimes feel like a burden, a routine, joyless, and unappreciated.  Professional golfers work very hard, and their work takes them away from home and family for 5-6 days every time they enter a tournament.  They spend more time practicing and training than they do playing the actual events.  Their paycheck or reward is based, in part, on how well they perform, but also on how their competition performs.  It is very hard work, but I believe they turned professional because they love the game.

Whatever one’s role in life, there likely will be days when the role seems more of a challenge and duty than a blessing and privilege.  Discipline gets us through those difficult days, but desire and a healthy perspective restore the joy and appreciation for the role we are called to play.  Despite those occasional days when it feels like an uphill battle, following my call and fulfilling my God-ordained purpose makes it possible for me to love what I do.

In the movie, The Rookie, Jim was recruited by a minor league baseball team, but was homesick, tired, and financially stretched at home.  Weary of the game he loved and feeling defeated by the process of moving up to the big leagues, he decided to quit baseball.  However, something happened that night to change his mind and perspective, and he entered the locker room the next day with a smile on his face, “You know what we get to do today, Brooks?  We get to play baseball!”