Archive for April, 2014


The Road


It was a hard, cold, snowy winter in the mid-west this year. Historical temperature and snowfall-level records were broken and new ones were set. And schools in my area surpassed their allotted levels of cancellations several times over. Some have even said that the students are going to have to go well into the summer break in order to make up for those cancellations.

And many people continually fussed about the depth of the cold. In fact, it seems that complaints about the winter of 2014 far exceeded the appreciations.

But I chose to take a different tack. This year, I am learning to count my blessings and to appreciate the winter, the cold, the snow, and all other parts of life. In fact, for four weekends in a row, my wife and I had to travel between Chicago and Toledo round-trip. We experienced icy roads, sub-zero temperatures, white-out conditions, cars and trucks driving too fast and dangerously, and a doubling of travel times.

But rather than complain, I learned (and am still learning) to embrace this winter. I learned (and am still learning) to appreciate the cold, the snow, the wind, and the long travel times.

Why?

Because the Bible tells us that we are to focus on “what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

Our attitudes must be transformed from the negative, sorrowful ones that many display into that which is full of hope, purpose, and vision. In fact, one of my favorite Christmas movies expressed a similar attitude as Bing Crosby sang:

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

As I looked at the snow, felt the coldness, experienced the wind, and drove through the extreme slowness of the traffic, I chose to count my blessings, and to enjoy the journey of being blessed by Him.

I embraced this winter season.

Can you embrace the winter season of your life? And THEN move beyond it.

Deadlines


As I write this, I am aware that recently, the last night of late night show host Jay Leno was on the air. My favorite part of his show has always been his Monday night "Head lines."

But in this blog, I want to mention something that sounds similar, but plays out much differently:

Deadlines.

Deadlines are those things that many of us hate and yet, others of us love.

The deadline is that final moment when all must be said and done … And all must be turned in and submitted.

As I said, many hate these things. For those of us, these bring unneeded stress and pressure. These have driven men and women to do things they would later regret or to live in such a manner that one’s life could be shortened or caused to be less than full.

And other people love deadlines. For those of us, deadlines bring something similar to an adrenaline rush … And cause greater and more concentrated focus of attention and on detail.. Somehow, the need to finish by a certain time causes that time to be a motivator.

We all respond differently to deadlines.

But I want to suggest to each of us that deadlines are nothing to be played with. In fact, we each have an appointed time when life as we know it will all be over and all will have been said and done.

For that reason, I urge each of us to respond more intently to that focus of the journey of our life.

Our journey is not about what we have done right or wrong. It’s not about what we have planned and dreamed. And it’s not about what we have succeeded in or failed.

Instead, it’s about how we have lived. It’s about how we love God. It’s about how we treat others.

As Martin Luther King Jr. has said (and others have repeated):

    • It’s not about how long you have lived …
    • It’s about how well you have lived.

And Hillary Cooper once said,

    • Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take
    • But by the moments that take our breath away.

So I ask you today as you live, as you breathe and as you enjoy the journey:

    • How have you loved God?
    • How have you treated others?
    • How have you lived and forgiven yourself?

Answer those questions before the deadline is upon you

… while you still have time to do something about them …

While you have time to truly love and honor God …

While you have time to show and tell those whom you love that you really do love them …

While you have time to stop beating yourself up for all your shortcomings and failures …

While you have time to forgive yourself and to love yourself …

You know the time I’m talking about …

I’m talking about that time …

Before the deadline is up.

Bumper Sticker Religion


We have a lot going around of what I call “Bumper Sticker” Religion. By this, I mean we tend to fill our lives with short, snappy statements that really sound good and really seem to make sense.

Such statements include: “John 3:16”, “Forgive and Forget”, “Let go and let God.” Of course, there are a whole lot of other, similar statements.

Obviously, few things are rarely as simple as they seem.

Surely, “John 3:16” is a simple statement that refers to the Scripture and is somewhat separated from these others but it is my fear that other such statements often do more harm than good.

I want to set the record straight.

Faith in Jesus is the beginning; faith in short, pithy statements is often a distraction.

Relationship with God is not initiated with cuteness and conciseness of communication; instead, relationship begins with revelation from God Himself and that revelation comes through prayer and/or the Word of God.

Relationship takes intentionality and some degree of work. And by work, I don’t mean accomplishment and defeating the impossible; what I do mean is that series of efforts of knowing Him.

(Of course, we could never get this part right on our own; we need His strength and His grace.)

And we are further equipped with the knowledge that as we draw hear to Him, He draws near to us. (And that’s the effort I’m talking about: drawing near.)

Never rest upon the concept that uttering the right words is enough.

Never rely on the thought that the summation of spiritual healthiness is achieved by a bunch of verbal gymnastics.

Instead, let us each draw near to God … let us establish a habit of seeking Him … and let us enjoy the journey.

If this article interests you, write me with your comments at: jgarrett1958@hotmail.com