Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Love - Acting in the Best Interest of Another

It's been a quarter of a century since I sat in a religious education class at Southwestern Seminary, but I still remember something my professor, Rick Yount, said about love. He defined it as "acting in the best interest of another." This definition is emphasized again and again in Scripture, but one of my favorite passages is 1 John 3:16-18: 16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

John reminds us that true love shows itself by our actions, and that we are to "act" toward others according to their needs and for their benefit, not out of our own convenience or self-preservation. Christ is, of course, our ultimate example of sacrifice for the benefit of another, but it is interesting that following this ultimate example, John gets VERY specific and VERY basic in how Christ's love manifests itself in us every day as we respond to human need.

Two of our most urgent physical needs on an international level have to be the earthquake victims of China and the cyclone victims of Myanmar. Here is the link (for my fellow Baptists..or anyone for that matter) to our International Mission Board's global response efforts to which you can donate:

Earthquake survivors are seen here in tents among the rubble of collapsed houses in Shuimo, in Wenchuan county in southwestern China's Sichuan province, Sunday, May 18, 2008. A friend sent me this link for helping the earthquake victims (and especially the children) of China. This charity is based in SC by the way. The link:

Do You "REALLY" Care?

I'm asked from time to time, "what do you say to someone who is experiencing a major tragedy?" I think all of us can gain some insight into loving people through difficult times by understanding the origin of the simple word, "care," as set forth by Henri Nouwen.

“The word ‘care’ finds its roots in the Gothic ‘Kara’ which means lament. The basic meaning of care is: to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out. I am very much struck by this background of the word care because we tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless, of the have’s toward the have not’s. And, in fact, we feel quite uncomfortable with an invitation to enter into someone’s pain before doing something about it…The friend who cares makes it clear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is what really matters. In fact, it matters more than pain, illness, or even death…Therefore, to care means first of all to be present to each other.” Henri Nouwen

When someone you love is hurting, hurt with them. You'll be hard pressed to find any combination of spoken words that beat that.

The Principles of Florence Nightingale

I was doing some research for my commencement address that I'm scheduled to give next week and found this quote from Norman Cousins.

The Principles of Florence Nightingale

The first principle: the world is run by those who show up—be where the action is.

The second principle: you get more done by working with others than just yourself.

The third principle: count what counts.

The fourth principle: you don’t have to be seen to be heard.

The fifth principle: plan to get dirty.

The sixth principle: when there is darkness, light the way.

The last principle: answer humanity’s call.

“The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside us while we live.” Norman Cousins

I think there's some wisdom here for all of us... for more info on Florence Nightingale go to:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Unexpected Day at The Hospital

"X" marks the spot from which I'm blogging right now! I'm in the "Observation Stay" unit of the University Hospital (Augusta, GA) in room 13 rejoicing that my mother had two gall stones removed today! She has been uncomfortable from time to time over the past several months, and finally the mystery has been solved. This was the BEST possible outcome; to have found nothing would have continued the uncertainty that has plagued her for several months.

The stones were measured in milimeters and very tiny, but because of their location, they became very painful, and very threatening to the liver itself. Her doctor was kind enough to show my brother and me x-rays and photos from the procedure. It was pretty amazing that he could go almost into the liver itself with a tube placed down my mom's esophogus and through her stomach. The lesson? Something doesn't have to be huge to disrupt our lives, it just has to be in the right (or wrong) location.

It reminds me of how powerful words are in bringing good or bad. James knew this as he wrote, "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body." (James 3:5,6)

We underestimate the power of words. I was reminded several weeks ago during a Sunday night discussion at church by a church member about how just a few words given by an influential person in our lives can destroy us. How many kids have been damaged by words like, "you'll never amount to anything," or "I wish you had never been born," fill in the blank.

My church member's point was that if negative words can have such a powerful impact, so can they have a positive one. I wonder how the thief on the cross felt when he heard the words, "Today you shall be with me in Paradise?" (Luke 23) or the woman caught in adultery when she heard the words, "
neither do I condemn you...go now and sin no more." (John 8)

The remarkable thing is that words, even a few words, can also have the power to encourage, to teach, to correct, and they can even be used by God to draw people to Him! So I thank God today that my mom's gallstones are history and her health is going to return, but also that my words can, if I choose, bring health to others! Go and help someone with the right words might be surprised at what a few words can do!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ever Seen a Kuvasz. ?

I posted a video preview of Disney's "Beverly Hill Chihuahua" earlier this week. Now here is a dog that is more my style...the Kuvasc...nice dogs, huh?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

WARNING! Preview of Scary Horror Movie!

WARNING! This preview is not for the squeamish! I could barely sit through the 90 seconds of sheer terror. Watch it if you dare!

Thank Goodness I Didn't Jump into Getting a Dog!

From time to time I contemplate getting a dog. I know of the obvious health and emotional benefits of having a dog, but I also know how much it takes to care for another life in my home. Well, technology has come to my rescue again. Soon after the highly anticipated release of Pixar's new movie,Wall-E, home versions of the robot star will be available for a mere $189. If any of my friends win the lottery or come into a large inheritance, you now have the ideal thing to get me for Christmas. I could, of course, use Wall-E for numerous children's sermons, for toting my Bible around, spicing up nursing home visits,etc. Here's a preview... (For a preview of he movie, go here:

I know, I know...not as cute as a puppy; no real emotional bond; but no mess, no grief, no chewing. Still..I have time to weigh all the options. Oh, speaking of puppies; here is Max, my friend Joel's newest family member. This was taken on a recent visit to see Joel and his family. I even accompanied Joel and his son, Benjamin, and Max to obedience school!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wish We Could All Be More Like Pauline Jacobi

What would you do if someone got in your car with a gun with the intention of robbing you? Ninety-two year old Pauline Jacobi found herself in that situation, and her response could teach us a thing or two about trusting the Lord, living without fear, and loving our enemies! Just watch...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Our First Annual Inter-Generational Derby Race

Though not as serious in tone as our annual RA Race for Meals on Wheels, our race on May 6th was a fun time for all, and introduced our youngest members to the ups and down of speedway competition!

And part two...(there is a limit to how many pictures you can put in a slide show!)

A Tribute to My Mom

Anyone who knows me already knows that my mom is an amazing mom just to have put up with me for all these years. Until now, however, I have kept secret many of her accomplishments as her humility forbade my coming clean with her true past. I can no longer keep secret the wonderful accomplishments of my mom, so I have compiled this video that touches on just a few of the many, many ways my mom has made life on this planet better for all of us!!! (Note: It may take a few seconds to load, but it will be worth it!)

Don't send a lame Mother's Day eCard.
Try JibJab Sendables!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Setting of the Sun

I caught the sun going down last night (050508) in Bamberg. Thought it was cool to have the "Horizon" sign with the real horizon. If you need a verse to go with this one, how about...

"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised."
Psalm 113:3

Seeing Reminders Everywhere

Recently I was trying out a new camera in Columbia, and got these shots which reminded me of these verses in Scripture.

Downtown with Finley Park Fountain

" Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13,14

Riverside Park

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
Matthew 5:5

As I looked at this old dam and generator, it reminded me of how often we don't really "get it" with regards to being meek. One of the uses of the Greek term was power under control with a purpose. It was the term used to tame a horse so that it could be used. Water sustains us biologically, it gives beauty to our cities, but when it is channeled properly, it can generate great power with new and almost infinite possible uses...sort of like the untapped energies in our lives.

When we trust God to "channel" our personalities, talents, resources, etc. in the right ways, all sorts of new energies are unleashed; and with those energies come exciting new purposes. As a wise believer once said, "there is power in submission." God is smarter than we are; more loving than we are, and more powerful than we are. Since He has our best interests at heart, it only makes sense to let Him channel us for the best possible life.

Another verse that comes to mind with these pictures is this one...

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Cor. 4:7-9

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."Acts 1:8

This reminded me of how we as the church are called by God to be transmission lines of His love and power! He doesn't give us all this energy just so we can entertain ourselves, but to bring His light to a world struggling in darkness!

World Missions Conference and Friends

Right after (like three days) I returned from Florida, I joined with our church and other churches in our association for an On Mission Celebration. Randy and Kittie Trail, long time friends, came to be a part of this emphasis on missions.

We had a great time together, and they both did an excellent job in telling folks about their mission experiences in Africa and Mauritius and in letting them what mission experiences are available through our International Mission Board.

I did scare one of the toddlers from my church in the Liberian tribal gown Randy conned me into wearing at the missions fair. I must admit it IS pretty scary!

100+ Years And Counting

This year I was privileged to be one two of my church members on very special birthdays. Mr. Beaty and Miss Adeline are 100 and 103 respectively! Mr. Beaty still has the same positive attitude he's had ever since I've known. His advice to young people...DON'T SMOKE!

Miss Adeline still knows me enough to say, "you need to lose some weight and stop eating so much rice!" Oh, Miss Adeline is on the right, Elizabeth is another church member who went with me to wish Adeline a happy 103rd birthday. And, yes, Adeline is our oldest member!

Was I Crazy or What?

As if you didn't have enough reasons to doubt my sanity, here's another one... that's me in the third seat from the left, top row. (Click on image to enlarge; and no I'm not completely bald, but the sun glaring off my head makes it look that way!) I am "hanging" at the top of a 200 ft. drop...a second later, I took the plunge! I am proud to say that I rode this thing and still managed to hold on to the contents of my stomach! This video doesn't really give you a "feel" for the experience, but it can give you another reason to doubt my sanity! (WARNING: Turn your volume down some as there is a good bit of crying and screaming! I haven't heard any out right profanity so don't listen too closely! One rider sums up the experience with repeated WOW....WOR...HA HA HA!!!!)

And You Thought Your Job Was Depressing!

When you think your job is depressing, think about these guys. I took this at Busch Gardens, and I couldn't help but think, "what are 'they' thinking about?" I thought about how unfair it seemed to have what are obviously "thinking" creatures who don't deserve to be a tourist attraction. I hope I'm wrong and that they aren't thinking sad, depressing, "why are these people staring at me" kind of thoughts, but I don't think so. So no matter what kind of job you find yourself in, it could always be worse!