“Daddy, the Internet isn’t working. Can you fix it?”
Of course I can. I’m a guru. I’m a tech wizard. I’m capable of restoring all things electronic to functionality. Or I can at least unplug, wait, and re-plug the WiFi access point so the boys can get online again to watch the latest Nugget Noggin video.
They used to think that I could fix anything. Though they are now ten and seven respectively, they have learned that there are broken things even I cannot fix.
On the other hand, Angela can ask me to fix a lot more things now than she could when we first got married, lo, those 23 years ago. My plumbing, electrical, mechanical and woodworking skills have increased immensely. And yet, there are still broken things I cannot fix.
You know what’s amazing, though? There is never anything broken you can take to God that He cannot fix. If your life is in a million pieces, He can put it all back together. In fact, He loves it when you ask Him to fix the broken parts of your life. He loves that you would trust in Him and believe in His ability to right what is wrong… to mend what is torn… to repair what is wrecked… to fix what has fallen apart.
His Word says we should bring ALL our cares… ALL our worries… ALL our concerns… ALL our problems… to Him because He cares about us. We should hand Him all the pieces, and simply ask, “Daddy, will you fix this for me?” That kind of dependence melts a father’s heart and causes him to set about fixing what is not working.
You can trust Him with whatever is broken in your life today. He loves you. It would make His day to make things right in your life. And unlike me, you can count on Him to do it right every time because He’s the Ultimate Mr. Fix-It!
I once worked for a leader who was quite the wordsmith. He was not nearly as loquacious as me. He was simply very attentive to learning new words and using them effectively in conversation and public speaking. He had one of those “word-of-the-day” calendars on his desk, and he would often regale us with the words he had learned that day. It seemed he always knew the right thing to say in every situation, and always had the apropos word to make what he was saying clearer, or more powerful, or more heartwarming. With my own love for an expansive vocabulary, I have always been amazed and mesmerized by his command of our language. I suppose I’d like to be like him when I grow up.
Apparently, he was familiar with the words of Solomon found in the tenth chapter of Proverbs. Solomon paints a picture in those powerfully pithy statements of how godly people speak. He writes of the words they choose to use. In fact, he lists five types of words they choose to use:
1) Life-giving words – verse 11
2) High-quality words – verse 20
3) Encouraging words – verse 21
4) Wise – verse 31
5) Helpful – verse 32
I’d say that is a pretty good selection of words. Anyone who speaks that way is certain to be loved and appreciated. Someone who chooses their verbiage based on that list would most certainly sound more like God, and would make me want to listen.
What’s interesting is that Solomon doesn’t say that we need to know a lot of fancy words. He doesn’t say our words need to sound impressive the members of MENSA. He simply points out the kinds of words any of us can use in our everyday lives to reflect God’s character… and benefit others.
So, while I hope to learn some new words on a regular basis, I’m going to be sure to make my higher goal to elevate my speech to level Solomon outlines in Proverbs 10.
If each of us reading this today will make an effort to use these kinds of words on a daily basis, I believe and declare that we will soon see a difference in how people respond to us. In fact, they just might want to hear what we have to say.
“No one is so poor that they cannot at least pay attention.” – Unknown
One of my goals in life is to be more and more generous. However, like most of us, there are times when I feel like I cannot give as much as I would like. Perhaps it’s finances… or material possessions… or even time. But at that exact moment, I’m not able to give all that I would like to give.
There is a way, however, in which each of us can be generous at any given moment. It’s a gift any of us can afford. It is the ability to pay attention.
Everyone needs attention. Many long for it because they rarely receive it. People nod and wave. We often ask, “How are you,” as we keep walking right past a person. And so, many people go through life depleted in the reservoirs of their soul because they have experienced a drought of attention. Yet, we can all afford to pay attention in almost any given moment.
Years ago, a man I worked with in ministry taught me this valuable life lesson. He said it had been handed down to him from an mature minister whom he had watched practice it on many occasions. I had shared with my co-worker how, at the events we led, I felt so inadequate at giving everyone some time so that they knew I was interested in them and cared about them. What he shared that day helped me from that moment on to live generously in those times.
He said that I would never be able to give everyone as much time as they would want with me or as much time as I would want to give them, but I could always pay real attention to the person right in front of me. I could look them in the eye, and not look over their shoulder to see who else I needed to talk with. I could listen to what they were saying, and not try to formulate what I would say in response till they were done. I could focus on them, and let them know they were special. And when those few moments were done, that person would feel special… cared for… noticed… respected… loved… acknowledged. When I finished paying genuine attention to that person, I could feel free to move on to find the next person to whom I could give the gift of attention. Sure, there would be the casual greetings because too many people and too little time meant there was no way to do this for everyone. But for those to whom I could give the gift of attention, their day would be better, and my relationship with them would be deepened.
He was right, of course. I began right away to do my best to practice generosity in the form of genuine attention. No, I wasn’t always successful. I would sometimes get caught up in the chaos and allow myself to get too busy to give this gift, but I did my best. Years have passed since he shared that affordable gift idea with me, and I began trying to be generous in that way. Interestingly, I received a text just this past week from someone who shared how much it meant that I had paid attention to them and to others back then. It mattered to them. It still matters to this day.
So, the next time you think you don’t have anything to give… the next time you want to be generous, but aren’t sure you have a $20 bill in your wallet to hand a college student… or a car to donate to charity… the next time you desire to make a difference by giving… give the gift anyone can afford. Pay attention to the person in front of you at the moment. It may be your spouse, your kids, your co-worker, a neighbor, or the person on the aisle in Walmart who just wants someone to talk to. Whoever it is… whenever it is… just do your best to be generous with your attention. I promise… you can afford it!
We have several friends who are currently serving as foster parents. It is amazing how they are investing their lives in the lives of these children and teenagers. It is temporary investment for permanent life-change.
Recently, I was talking with one of my foster-dad friends, and he was telling me about one of the kids they are caring for having a total attitude meltdown. Whether you are in favor of physical disciplining of children or not, you cannot discipline that way with foster kids for a lot of serious reasons. So he told me about how they handle correction in their family now…
When one of the kids displays a bad attitude or a wrong action, they address the issue by stating what was wrong. Then they do something powerful… They ask the child if he/she would like a do-over. If the child accepts the do-over and makes things right, they reinforce that right attitude and action with encouragement.
As my friend told me about an actual instance when this had been applied, I couldn’t help but blurt out how that is exactly how God treats us when we display our own bad attitudes or wrong actions. He’s not waiting to strike us down with a plague or fire from Heaven. He lovingly, patiently points out where we were wrong and then asks us if we would like a do-over. He’s the God of second chances… and third chances… and hundredth chances. But He doesn’t stop there. When we finally get our attitudes and actions right, He lovingly reinforces our right choice with encouragement.
Sure, you were wrong, but you don’t have to stay wrong. Take the do-over today. You don’t have to live in guilt and shame today. God is not waiting to take you out back to the woodshed and give you the whippin’ of your life. He stands ready instead to give you a do-over and a dose of encouragement. And isn’t that what we really need?
To all my foster parent friends, thank you for the amazing example of God’s love and grace you are to me! Keep up the great work. You are making a difference for eternity.
This past weekend, we had a massive garage sale. Friday in particular was brutally hot, and we spent most of the day outside. Although I must admit, I tried to stay in the actual garage with a fan blowing on me as much as possible.
In the middle of the day, a dear family friend stopped by and visited with us for awhile. She is the sweetest lady you could ever meet. She is thoughtful, gracious, considerate, and never to be outdone when it comes to generosity. After her visit, we all commented how fun it was to have her stop by.
Later that afternoon, she texted me to let me know that she was picking us up some ice cream and would be by to deliver it to us shortly. I told her she didn’t need to do it, but she insisted. And sure enough, about ten minutes later, she rolled into the driveway with her delivery. For the record, it wasn’t just ice cream… It was Blue Bell. I grew up in Texas, and so the jingle… “Blue Bell, the best ice cream in the country,” actually means something to me.
I thanked her profusely, as did the boys. What she didn’t know until I told her, was that when I slipped inside to gobble down a quick lunch earlier, I wanted some kind of dessert. I had thought to myself, “It is so hot, some ice cream sure would be good.” But I knew none of us would be going to the store that day because of the garage sale, and so I figured ice cream was just out of the question. It was just a fleeting craving and a fanciful whim… so I thought. Until she brought ice cream.
I had not said a word to anyone about ice cream. I didn’t have to. The One who knows all things delights in every detail of my life, according to Psalm 37:23. He knew that He could nudge her heart to buy ice cream, and she would do it. So He did.
She did not know that I needed that ice cream reminder that day to remind me that if my Heavenly Father can cause someone to bring me the dessert I wanted on a whim, then He can tackle the other part of that verse, which says He also directs the steps of my life. It was a subtle reminder, but it was not lost on me. He threw it, and I caught it.
So when is ice cream not just ice cream? When it reminds that person receiving it of how intimately involved God is in their life. You see, it wasn’t just ice cream she delivered Friday… It was love… It was encouragement… It was hope.
So, this week, let’s be sensitive to those nudges… because we never know when it is not just ice cream.
Benjamin Franklin kept a journal in which he would ask and answer two questions each day… one at the beginning of the day, and one at the end of the day. At the beginning of the day, he would ask himself, “What good shall I do today?” And at the end of that day, he would ask himself, “What good have I done today?”
I love that because he planned to do good everyday. He didn’t just hope to do good… He strategically planned it out.
And then he held himself accountable to his goal. He knew he would have to answer that question at the end of the day, and it motivated him.
What if we each took ol’ Ben’s concept and used it as our own each day? What if we strategically planned to do even just one good thing tomorrow? What if we wrote it down? And what if we then held ourselves accountable to it tomorrow evening to make sure we followed through? Imagine how different our tomorrow might be! My guess is that we would be so glad that we did good, we would want to do it again the next day.
According to Ephesians 2, God planned for us to do good works. Seems like if we would just put Ben Franklin’s plan into practice, we would find ourselves getting on God’s plan and making a significant impact on those around us.
Ben Franklin asked two really good questions. My question today is… Will we do good tomorrow? I plan to, and I hope you do also!
When you go to a restaurant to eat, and you place your order with the server, they typically bring you exactly what you ordered. You asked for it and expected it, so that is what they brought you. What’s interesting is that you can also tell that server you believe they are going to do a great job serving that meal… and they will do just that.
People will rise to the level to which they are challenged to rise. It’s because they believe that someone else not only believes they are capable, but that someone believes in them.
We all struggle from time to time in believing in ourselves. It’s part of the human condition. Yet, within each of us, there is this ability to help others rise out of that struggle and achieve all they are capable of being and doing.
I have chosen to believe the best in people… to hold them to high standards… to cheer them on and believe in them… to let them know all the potential I see in them. And you know what? They typically respond by becoming exactly that… or more.
This is what Jesus did with the disciples He selected, and with basically anyone He met. He called them to a higher standard. Those who were genuine may have faced challenges and struggles along the way, but for the most part they rose to the occasion and became more than anyone else expected.
Whose challenges will you look past today in order to see their potential? And what will you call them to? How will you cheer them on and celebrate them as they begin to make progress? And how will you both feel when they reach that potential?
It’s time to stop reading for today and start reaching. You get what you order!
When the house is orderly, PR31 feels at peace in her soul. When it’s not, she feels like she needs to do something about it. So recently, she took to cleaning and organizing closets and cabinets around the house. Obviously, we all had the privilege of helping out because we all had stuff stuffed in said closets and cabinets.
Interestingly, even though we had a garage sale within the last six months before this cleaning out of clutter, we still found bags full of stuff we no longer use. What’s crazier is the amount of stuff we found which we couldn’t use… things we consider trash now. At the time we put those things in the closet or cabinet, we saved them because we thought they would be useful to us later on. Perhaps we felt we could use parts from them to fix something else. Maybe we felt like they had some type of sentimental value. But they built up over time, and today they are hinderances… clutter. As we went through the closets and cabinets, we would hold something up, look at each other and simultaneously agree that it needed to be tossed. Something we used to deem so important wasn’t even worth saving to put in another garage sale or donate to the local thrift store.
The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews points out that the same thing can happen to us in our spiritual lives over time. We accumulate stuff which weighs us down and trips us up. So he/she instructs the reader to “strip off every weight that slows us down.”
It’s so easy to collect extra stuff over time which hinders us from being our best and living at the level we really want to in our relationship with God and with others. We hold onto broken things… attitudes, hurts, losses… thinking somehow they may be of use to us down the road. Yet they only serve to clutter and weigh down our lives, robbing us of peace.
Today, let this be our wake-up call that it is time to do a little cleaning of our own. Let’s clean out the closets and cabinets of our spiritual and emotional lives. Let’s find the stuff that is getting in our way and keeping us from having peace, and let’s get rid of it. It’s time to toss it! And when we do, we will find a renewed sense of peace and calm as we reorganize and make room for the new, good things God wants to store up in us.