Words of Praise

It does no harm to speak a friendly word.                                                                                                              

Louis L'Amour

Think of someone that you admire or enjoy being around and chances are they have been an encouragement to you. Think of someone that you would just as soon avoid and the likelihood is that they rarely have anything encouraging to say. I was taught this truth by a group of nine year old girls.

Now, girls are different from boys. I learned this important lesson the first day I ever coached a team of little girls. I had coached many boys teams, so I thought I knew how to coach. Make a boy run a lap after he's got himself in trouble and he takes it as a badge of honor. He's been bad, but he's man enough to pay the price.  Girl's, however, take it personally as I found it when I had one 4th grader run a couple of laps for a minor discipline problem. She ran her laps quick enough but then collapsed in a heap of tears. The other little girls gathered around and patted her and spoke soothing words to her - I just stood there, dumbfounded. Girls are different from boys!

After that, I came up with "the speech". I explained to the girls that whenever they did something wrong, they would run. Once the laps were finished, everything was okay. I was not mad at them and, when the lap was over, all was forgotten - I still liked them and we were still friends. From that day forward I gave the same speech on the first day of practice and never again had this particular problem in all the years I coached little girls.

I also learned something else that day: Little people, like big people, need to hear praise. It's not that there is aren't times for criticism, but I have found that encouragement is far more powerful in motivating people to the type of behavior that is desired. An added benefit is that people love and respect someone who encourages them, if for no other reason than it takes love and respect to offer encouragement. And, most of us generally love those who love to us. If you haven't already, why not find some word of genuine praise for someone today. It will make their day and yours!

Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.                                                

I Thessalonians 5:11, NIV


Why People Don't Strike in Small Towns

This one will probably get me in trouble, but here goes anyway.

Like a lot of people, I have been watching with interest the goings on in Wisconsin. In case you've been away from a T.V. or radio for a week, you know that the teachers are on strike. You know that some lawmakers  have left the state in order to prevent a vote on teacher's pensions. You know that many teachers have called in sick, then showed up in a snow storm to protest their plight. You know that doctors have been openly committing fraud by signing sick notes for these teachers. What I have been wondering is why do you never see teachers pull these type of shenanigans in small towns?

Maybe it's because they are already used to making sacrifices. Maybe it's because the people whose kids they teach appreciate their effort. Maybe it's because most people in a small town only dream of getting a pension, but don't mind providing a reasonable one for their teachers as long as these teachers are willing to do their part. Maybe it's because a teacher in a small town wouldn't think of calling in sick, and then showing up in public, because public liars are not considered to be cute or clever or smart - just liars.

Maybe it's because teachers in small towns wouldn't think of insisting that the kids that they teach be burdened with providing them with a rich retirement. Maybe it's because... they believe in God.

You see, when you believe in God, you are not as likely to commit fraud, or lie, or leave your job, or bankrupt the kids you are teaching before they are even old enough to vote or have a job. I know that the situation in Wisconsin is a bit complicated, but not so complicated that it requires dishonesty.

So, to all you teachers in small towns and large who have never felt the compulsion to break God's laws or man's to get what's coming to you - thank you! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We pray that you will get what is coming to you. And, to those who do feel compelled to lie cheat and steal to make sure you get what's coming to you, we pray for you as well. We pray that you will repent so that you don't ever have to get what is coming to you!

The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward. 

Proverbs 11:18, NIV


Why Four Year Olds Have Parents

What is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.   Edmund Burke

My parents may have never heard of Mr, Burke's quote when I was four, but they understood the meaning of the quote every bit as much as Sir Edmund. You see Mom and Dad had a four year old that loved liberty, but who had yet to get the hang of wisdom and virtue.

We were on our way home from the worship and I was ready for my freedom. It's not that I didn't like worship and Sunday school, it's just that the clothes they put me in were quite restrictive.

Church clothes were invented by mothers who wanted their four year old heathens to look like saints. I suspect that the advertising executive who came up with the phrase, "Let's put some lipstick on the pig", had a four year old boy.

Anyway, we were on our way home from the worship and I was dying to get into my play clothes - when it hit me! I could get out of my dress clothes much faster if I got a bit of a jump on the way home. Soon, everything that could be untied, unbuckled, unbuttoned or unzipped... was. The problem was that when I got out of the car and started clunking up the walk in my untied shoes while clinging all of my loose garments to myself, my parents noticed. And, meddlesome people that they were when I was four, decided that it was time to impart another of their seemingly endless lessons on wisdom and virtue.

I didn't understand discipline when I was four, but I think I do now. I have witnessed many people through the years who seemed to have fun for a while but who, in the end, suffered greatly from their lack of restraint. It makes me grateful for parents who understood the importance of restraint, and it makes me eternally grateful to my Father in Heaven for doing the same.

You see, God's laws give freedom. However, many people look upon His instruction the same way I looked upon restraint when I was young - as something that limits freedom. It's not until we learn to appreciate our freedom in Christ, that we will ever appreciate the wisdom of restraint.

Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:17-18, NIV


Why Do You Believe What You Believe?

Any fool can believe what he wants to believe... and most do! It takes a wise man to believe what God wants him to believe.

Leroy Brownlow tells the story of an experienced marksman who was walking down a country lane . As he approached a village, he noticed targets that had been drawn all along that road. They were everywhere - on trees and fence posts and barns - and the man was astounded to see at the very center of every one of the targets was a bullet hole.

The man was so impressed that he simply had to find the person who had performed this incredible feat of marksmanship. When he got to town he was soon directed to the man who had done the shooting and he asked him to what he attributed this amazing skill. Was it continual practice? Some extraordinary, inborn talent? A new, sophisticated rifle? The man just smiled and said, "It's nothing, really. I just shoot first and draw the target afterward."

Have you ever known anyone like that? I have to admit that it's a trait far too common among those in my profession. We are all human and we all want to appear to be right, so we sometimes form the opinion and then surround that opinion with any facts that might lend their support to our way of thinking.

But, we must realize that this is something we cannot afford to do as God's servants. This is why our daily Bible readings are so important. Each day we have the invitation to sit at the feet of the Creator and receive His perfect instruction. There will be times that we don't understand a specific passage, but that's okay - just keep reading. God inspired the writers of His word, so we can be confident there are no mistakes. He loves us dearly, so we don't have to worry that He is somehow trying to trick or mislead us in any way.

So if you and I can refrain from shooting first and drawing the target later, it is very likely that we will come to understand the Gospel of Christ, rather than the gospel according to you and me. This one practice might prove to be the difference in determining whether we will live as wise men or as fools.

Have you read your Bible today? 

Seek and you will find.

Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 7:7, NIV


Would You Trade a Million Dollars for What You Have?

God brings men into deep waters, not to drown them, but to cleanse them.


Harold Abbott had just lost his store due to a severe downturn. Depressed and more than a bit desperate, he was walking to the bank to borrow $100 so that he could go to another town to look for a job. On the way to the bank, he had an experience that would change his life forever. He came across a man without legs. The man pushed himself around on a cart with roller skate wheels. He had just crossed the street and was lifting himself onto the curb when he saw Mr. Abbott looking his way. Catching his eye, the man gave Mr. Abbott a beautiful smile and in a spirited voice said, "Good morning, sir! It is a fine morning, isn't it?"

This chance event changed the way Harold Abbott viewed his own circumstance. A minute earlier he had been walking down the street, tired and defeated. Yet, in the time that it took for one man to greet another, his entire outlook on life was dramatically changed. He had met a man with a true handicap - a man with genuine troubles. Yet he was not discouraged, because outside factors did not dictate this man’s outlook on life.

How about you? Would you take a million dollars for your legs... for your sight... for your family... for your faith? If your answer is no, then you are rich! Instead of moping when we are feeling a bit poor, we should fall to our knees and thank the Lord for the wealth that He has heaped upon our lives. We all have countless blessings that we would not take any amount of money for, so why can’t we see it? The fact is that we are rich and we are going to Heaven, if we will remain faithful to God's plan. How could we not be thankful for all that the Lord has given us? Would you trade a million dollars for what God has given to you?

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 

Colossians 2:6-7, NIV