Friday, February 01, 2008

Our Dog Dognapped! Returned 7 months later!

In late June, 2007, our beloved min schnauzer, "Elsie" was dognapped after running away from my 3 year old niece. We put up reward signs to no avail...

On January 24th we received a call that someone found our dog. How did they know it was Elsie? She still had our tags on!

The girl asked for $75- and asked that we me her in the shopping center at Florida and Freeman Mill Rd. Though tempted to find out what had happened, I resisted asking questions and made the exchange.

She checked out fine with the vet. Other than a bad haircut she's her old self!

The Saint of the Little Ways

Saint Therese of Lisieux is known as the Saint of the Little Ways. She is called that because she believed in doing the little things in life well and with great love. She is also the patron Saint of flower growers and florists. She is represented by roses.

Prayer of St. Therese of Lisieux

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God
Let this presence settle into our bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Don Imus and The Prodigal Son

A lot has happened in the past several months that is certainly worthy of debate on the blogosphere. So far I've resisted all urges to engage in anything other than reading the actual news... and I can't exaggerate the significance of the inner peace I've found in abstaining from such debates.

There is a great life lesson in one such event that occurred, and I hope my observations transcend political ideologies. My favorite morning show, (the only MSNBC show I watched), is gone forever. I loved the show because it is where I learned the human side of many public figures I often disagree with politically.

Actually, the Don Imus story is hardly a tragedy for him. He is sober. He is a good husband and a loving father. He is wealthy. He is generous. He is loyal. And now he knows who his true friends really are.

Ever read the parable of the Prodigal Son? A central part of that story is that as soon as the young man's money ran out, all those "friends" he enjoyed and who benefited from his wealth disappeared from his life.

In Imus's case, his wealth was his medium. His show was popular and therefore many powerful, well known journalists, executives, writers, authors, publishers, bloggers, musicians, companies, politicians- Republican and Democrat- eagerly made extreme efforts to be counted as his friend. I imagine Russert, Matthews, Gregory, all the execs at CBS and MSNBC have long understood his grouchy demeanor and his contrived bigotry (of which he was constantly called out on by his side kick, Charles McCord.) What's more revealing is just how fast all of Imus's supposed friends and business associates publicly disassociated themselves with his show, as if they would rather be dead than stand by the man who contributed far more to their success and popularity than he received from them.

There is no good reason for Imus to say many of the things he has said. But anyone who watched or listened to his program for more than a week or two could understand that nothing he said was ever meant to be taken personally, literally or seriously. Nothing, that is, but his devotion to charities and to his family and friends.

Maybe we shouldn't allows shows like his. The irony is rich. The very people who claim to be advocates of free speech by defending pornography, flag burning and other culturally derisive forms of expression permanently censure one of their own. Were hundreds of thousands calling for his head? Were religious leaders/organizations petitioning for his dismissal? (Though I'm sure no one would condone it.) No. The Rutgers team asked for a retraction and apology and got it. What about CBS and MSNBC? They allowed themselves to be bullied by a few talented shakedown artists.

Imus was/is careless with his words, and it cost him his job. But he has integrity. He took full responsibility for his words. And I'll bet the girls from Rutgers not only forgive him, but can count themselves fortunate to be called his friends.

Words Have More Meaning Than We Think

"Words have meaning." It may be a cliché in the blogosphere, but our word(s) is our power. I am learning just how powerful my word really is. Looking back at my use of this power, it has been painful to recognize how careless, ambivalent and thoughtless I’ve regarded my word.

The power of our word begins with integrity. Doing what I say I will do, when I said it would be done, and whenever I fail to keep my word I will accept full responsibility. I find most people I share this concept with fail to understand just how important integrity is in every aspect of our lives. Perhaps it is because I am learning about it in the most intimate manner possible, in therapy, I am grasping its significance.

This is not to say most people I know lack integrity. Quite the opposite is true. I think most of my family, friends, and even acquaintances live and work with the highest degree of integrity, as if it is their second nature. For that very reason, a person who has a high esteem for integrity is likely pursue its depth and significance in their lives.

As I said, I am learning the power of my word. It’s a thick book with many chapters, but here is what I want to share with my fellow bloggers; just how powerful our words are to other people.

Counselor: I don’t talk about others or gossip any more, Chip. Do you know why?

Me: Well, it is wrong…

C: I used to do it all the time, until I understood the power of my word.

Me: I guess I don’t understand completely.

C: We have the power to create with our word. You are a Christian, think back to Genesis… God said “let there be light.” And what happened next?

Me: There was light.

C: Absolutely. We have the same power. We say it will be done and we do it. And guess what? We have the power to create as well.

Me: Go on…

C: Suppose I look out my window and see my neighbor do something really dumb. I laugh and share it with my wife. Later that week I share it a neighborhood party, in the funniest manner possible, about what a bonehead this guy really is. I’ve just created a permanent picture of how all those people will view my neighbor.

C: Now that’s power. Once I realized the power my words hold, I quit talking about others.

I have been taught all of my life that it is wrong to gossip and/or speak ill of others. (And yet I’ve always acted as if there’s no real harm in it.) I know the Bible, which I believe is God’s word, says it is wrong as well. But I never understood why until I began to understand the true power of my word.

When I quit blogging on a regular basis, I said I wanted to learn how to write so that people would respond to my written word in the same manner they do with me in person. I don’t know if that is possible for me with my limited skills and experience. But I do know that I want to be regarded as man who is straightforward and kind; smart and humble; positive and encouraging.

If my word holds any power at all, I want that power to be a blessing to all within its reach.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Servant of Christ and Homeless Suffers Stroke

Ever participated in or heard of churches and volunteers serving breakfast at the shelter? Before _____ _____ returned to Greensboro some 20 plus years ago, there were no such services offered. A week ago today, ______ suffered a medium stroke. He's recovering, but his speech is still slightly impaired.

One of ______'s mentors, John Staggers of Washington, DC, was also a humble servant who's "under the radar" ministry touched thousands. John used to respectfully reject any recognition of his good works, "so it won't spoil my heavenly reward." (see references below to Jesus' teachings.) So in that spirit, I am leaving out his name. If you want to learn his name, feel free to ask me or Cara Michele or most anyone at the shelter...

A good friend wrote this short note about _____, encouraging us to pray.

_____ _______ has had a long and compassionate ministry in Greensboro through music and service for many years....His work with the homeless of Greensboro has been very significant. I am sure a number of you know _____ and his wife _____ to some capacitiy....he was a neighbor of mine for several years and has been an example of humble and gracious service for Christ as long as I have known (or known of) him. The thought of _____'s speech being impaired is painful to imagine as _____ possesses an incredible singing voice, a gift he has been sharing for thirty years or more. I could go on and on.....excuse my indulgence, I guess the reality of age and the fallout of a broken world weigh heavy as I consider _____ in the hospital. There is much to be grateful for .... just as there is much need for intercessory prayer.

Matthew 6:2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:1-3 (in Context) Matthew 6 (Whole Chapter)
Matthew 6:4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:3-5 (in Context) Matthew 6 (Whole Chapter)
Matthew 6:5[ Prayer ] "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Matthew 6:4-6 (in Context) Matthew 6 (Whole Chapter)
Matthew 6:6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.Matthew 6:5-7 (in Context)
Matthew 6 (Whole Chapter)
Matthew 6:16[ Fasting ] "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full
.Matthew 6:15-17 (in Context) Matthew 6 (Whole Chapter)
Matthew 6:18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Christspeak Phrase of the Day

"Church Family"

When addressing the congregation, the pastor begins "Church Family."
Church family, please remember to pray for...

I noticed this phrase was used countless times during a sermon preached by my daughter's pastor. He's Baptist. Recently a younger elder in my own church (Covenant Fellowship, we're Associate Reformed Presbyterian) is sending emails that always begin with, "Dear Church Family."

Though it may sound a little country, it is important for believers in Christ who worship together in a Church recognize that they are not merely members of an organization, they are family in Christ. Amen.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

If it quacks...

Has anyone researched the link between the color of coffee and how your breath smells after you drink it?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

If Jesus WOULD be apalled...

It's been blissful, my staying away from politics. Today's post is somewhat political, more important, it is about Christspeak... my term for the language of Christianity. The other day John Edwards said, "I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs," Edwards told the site. "I think he would be appalled, actually."

Jesus actually did call on His followers to consider the poor. Yet, Edwards' statement was shallow and so embarrassingly hypocritical it seems more like something Steve Carrell's character in The Office would say. (Edwards just built a mansion and owns an impressive home at Figure Eight.) It would be wise for Edwards, (and each of us), to ask Jesus how he can best serve God's kingdom, and to politically lead this country by walking the talk.

But more important, Edwards statement is theologically incorrect. In fairness to Edwards, he is not alone. Jesus is not dead. Alot of folks are inspired to do good by first considering, "what would Jesus do." We acually know quite a bit about what Jesus said and did, (though not nearly enough). However, a statement that inludes the phrase, "Jesus would," presupposes Jesus is either dead or unable to know us and communicate His will to us. In truth, Jesus is physically alive and actually initiates communication with people.

Here's some key points to consider:

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Why God Allows Pain

I got this story in an email- one of those mass mailers I never want to read. But I was surprized to learn that Tony Dungy has a son who has a condition that allows him never to feel pain. So here it is- a great story worth the read:

Below is a very touching story about Tony Dungy, Coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and the essence of his purpose in life. It was most amusing to hear Coach Dungy's responses to the TV sports interviewer, when he was asked how great it was to be one of the first "African-American" head coaches to take his team to a Super Bowl? Head Coach "Tony Dungy" responded immediately with: "Yes that's good, but what is really great and awesome, is how God worked this out for us; it's just amazing how He made this all come together!" Thus, (as Paul Harvey would say after reading the following) "and now, you know the rest of the story."

Dungy Makes Super Bowl Stop to Speak at Athletes in Action Breakfast DETROIT, Mich. - They were there for breakfast, and they were there to cheer New York Jets running back Curtis Martin. And it was Martin who received the Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award Saturday morning, but the hundreds who gathered in fourth-floor ballroom at the Marriott Renaissance in Detroit, Mich., on the morning before Super Bowl XL were clearly touched by the featured speaker. That speaker was Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy.

Two hours into the breakfast, emcee Brent Jones introduced Dungy, who was welcomed with a lengthy standing ovation. Dungy thanked the crowd, shared an anecdote about Martin, then told the crowd he was going to speak for about 15 minutes. "It's great to be here," Dungy told the crowd, then adding with a laugh, "I just wish I wasn't here in this capacity so many times of being just that close to being in the game and just being an invited speaker. "My goal is to have our team here one day and have a couple of tables with all of our guys here. Because we have a special group of young men, a great group of Christian guys. It'd be wonderful to have them here so>you could see their hearts and what they're all about. "It hasn't quite happened yet, but we're still hoping one day it will."

He told them he was going to talk about lessons he had learned from his three sons. The crowd fell silent. Then Dungy spoke. And although this was a breakfast - and although at many such events speakers speak over the clinking of glasses and murmurs from semi-interested listeners - for most of the 15 minutes the room was silent except for Dungy's voice. He spoke of his middle son, Eric, who he said shares his competitiveness and who is focused on sports "to where it's almost a problem." He spoke of his youngest son, Jordan, who has a rare congenital condition which causes him not to feel pain. "He feels things, but he doesn't get the sensation of pain," Dungy said. The lessons learned from Jordan, Tony Dungy said, are many. "That sounds like it's good at the beginning, but I promise you it's not," Dungy said.

"We've learned a lot about pain in the last five years we've had Jordan. We've learned some hurts are really necessary for kids. Pain is necessary for kids to find out the difference between what's good and what's harmful." Jordan, Dungy said, loves cookies. "Cookies are good," Dungy said, "but in Jordan's mind, if they're good>out on the plate, they're even better in the oven. He will go right in the oven when my wife's not looking, reach in, take the rack out, take the pan out, burn his hands and eat the cookies and burn his tongue and never feel it. He doesn't know that's bad for him." Jordan, Dungy said, "has no fear of anything, so we constantly have to watch him."

The lesson learned, Dungy said, is simple. "You get the question all the time, 'Why does the Lord allow pain in your life? Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is a God of love, why does he allow these hurtful things to happen?'' Dungy said. "We've learned that a lot of times because of that pain, that little, temporary pain, you learn what's harmful. You learn to fear the right things. "Pain sometimes lets us know we have a condition that needs to be>healed. Pain inside sometimes lets us know that spiritually we're not quite right and we need to be healed and that God will send that healing agent right to the spot. "Sometimes, pain is the only way that will turn us as kids back to the Father."

Finally, he spoke of James. James Dungy, Tony Dungy's oldest son, died three days before Christmas. As he did while delivering James' eulogy in December, Dungy on Saturday spoke of him eloquently and steadily, speaking of lessons learned and of the positives taken from experience. "It was tough, and it was very, very painful, but as painful as it was, there were some good things that came out of it," Dungy said. Dungy spoke at the funeral of regretting not hugging James the last time he saw him, on Thanksgiving of last year. "I met a guy the next day after the funeral," Dungy said. "He said, 'I was there. I heard you talking. I took off work today. I called my son. I told him I was taking him to the movies. We're going to spend some time and go to dinner.' That was a real,>real blessing to me."

Dungy said he has gotten many letters since James' death relaying similar messages."People heard what I said and said, 'Hey, you brought me a little closer to my son,' or, 'You brought me a little closer to my daughter,''' Dungy said. "That is a tremendous blessing." Dungy also said some of James' organs were donated through donors programs. "We got a letter back two weeks ago that two people had received his corneas, and now they can see,'' Dungy said. "That's been a tremendous blessing."

Dungy also said he received a letter from a girl from the family's church in Tampa. She had known James for many years, Dungy said. She went to the funeral because she knew James. "When I saw what happened at funeral, and your family and the celebration and how it was handled, that was the first time I realized there had to be a God," Dungy said the girl wrote. "I accepted Christ into my life and my life's been different since that day." Added Dungy, "That was an awesome blessing, so all of those things kind of made me realize what God's love is all about."

Dungy also said he was asked often how he was able to return to the Colts so quickly after James' death. James died on December 22, and>Dungy returned to the team one week later. Dungy said the answer wassimple. "People asked me, 'How did you recover so quickly?"'' Dungy said. "I'm>not totally recovered. I don't know that I ever will be. It's still very, very painful, but I was able to come back because of something one of my good Christian friends said to me after the funeral. "He said, 'You know James accepted Christ into his heart, so you know he's in heaven, right?' I said, 'Right, I know that.' He said, 'So, with all you know about heaven, if you had the power to bring him back now, would you?' When I thought about it, I said, 'No, I wouldn't. I would not want him back with what I know about heaven.' "That's what helped me through the grieving process. Because of Christ's spirit in me, I had that confidence that James is there, at peace with the Lord, and I have the peace of mind in the midst of something that's very, very painful. "That's my prayer today, that everyone in this room would know the same thing."

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