An Ideal World

When I grew up and found the world wasn't always the pleasant place I had thought it would be, I unconsciously decided if it wasn't an ideal world, it should be. And so I painted it that way. Norman Rockwell

What is it that makes certain men stand out from their peers? In the case of Norman Rockwell it's clear that his fame came at least in part from his enormous talent, but thousands of obscure painters whose work the world has never seen have had similar ability. The thing that made Norman Rockwell without equal in his niche of the art world was in his outlook on life: He genuinely liked people and he loved God. We don't have to read these facts in some sort of biography on Rockwell - we see them prominently displayed on the canvas of his paintings.

How about our lives: Do we genuinely like people and love God? Would we have to make some sort of announcement to that effect in order for others to be aware of these things? The fact is that if we truly love both our fellow man and our Lord, then the canvas of our lives will clearly reveal these things.

If we should find ourselves coming to the uncomfortable conclusion that we do not live in a ideal world, then maybe we should do something about it. It begins with letting our lights shine for the Master. What kind of picture are you painting for the whole world to see?

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. 

Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 5:14-16, NIV

 

A Higher Standard

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself.

Henry Ward Beecher

One of my favorite stories is of a young man who held a door open for a woman who, as it turned out, was very sold on the women's lib movement. The woman glared at the man and said, "I hope you're not holding that door open for me because you think I'm a lady!" "No, Ma'm", came the polite reply, "I'm holding the door open for you because I am a gentleman."

I enjoy this story for several reasons, but the main one is that it teaches something about holding ourselves to a higher standard than others may expect of us. Whether it is something as simple and refreshing as common courtesy, or something as critical as a high standard of integrity, our personal standards must be absolute and uncompromising.

It's important that our standards are exercised on the basis of being the right thing to do, rather than impressing the right people at the time. In other words, a gentleman will treat every woman as a lady, rather than try to ascertain her worthiness when it comes to courtesy.

Character, as someone so aptly phrased it, is who you are when you think no one else is looking. If we are in the habit of a high standard of conduct, we will be honest, hardworking and thoughtful as a matter of course instead of as a matter of convenience. It is when we reach this level of character, that we truly become what God has intended for each one of His dearly loved children: A servant worthy of the task to which we have been called.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Philippians 1:27, NIV 

 

A Good Name

A good name is more desirable than great riches.

King Solomon

A number of years ago, a young woman by the name of Nellie was hired as a domestic servant for a well to do family. Prior to Nellie’s first day on the job, her new employer contacted the woman for whom Nellie had worked previously. She found that Nellie had been a good cook and was good with children, but was somewhat sloppy in appearance and was not always thorough in cleaning the house.

Nellie’s new boss called her in and told her what she had learned from the old employer. She added, however, that she didn’t believe it when she said Nellie was sloppy and a poor housekeeper. She told Nellie that it was clear by her neat appearance that she was not sloppy and, furthermore, she was quite confident that Nellie would prove to keep a very tidy house.

And Nellie did!

The truth was that Nellie had been sloppy in both appearance and housekeeping for her old employer, but was the exact opposite for the new one… but why? The reason was that Nellie had now been given a good name to live up to and she was going to do everything she could to live up to that good name.

When you think about it, we have a lot in common with Nellie. Prior to becoming Christians, we had some pretty sloppy habits which we were not too proud of. But now our circumstances are quite different. When we became Christians we were literally given a good name and, like Nellie, we need to do everything in our power to live up to that good name that we are now so privileged to wear.

You were taught, with regard to your former life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 

Ephesians 4:22-24, NIV

 

A Fond Farewell to Superfan

Why can't we get all the people in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to stay good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos. Charles M. Schulz

Today, we say goodbye to Superfan. Everyone from Happy, as well as anyone who watches high school sports in the Panhandle, knows exactly who I am talking about. For the last dozen years or so, Kelly Yowell has been the heart and soul of the Happy Cowboys Football team. Kelly shows up for each and every game in full "Superfan" mode. With black and gold face paint, cowboy hat, shoulder pads and a five gallon drum filled with ball bearings, Kelly leads the "boys" out of the tunnel and then spends the entire game exhorting them on to play their best.

In addition to his Superfan/Hero duties on Friday nights, Kelly helps keep the city of Happy running. Kelly can be seen just about everywhere,from serving on the volunteer fire and ambulance crews, to replacing rusty water lines, to painting the city fire hydrants gold and black. 

Behind every great man is a great woman, and Superfan is no exception. Kelly's wife Dee has also been a full time community servant and always seems to have a smile for everyone she meets. Without Dee, there would be no Superfan.

So to Superfan, and to Mrs. Superfan, Happy will miss you more than you could know. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. And, when our boys make it to State, we look forward to seeing you again, with your black and gold face paint, your cowboy hat, your shoulder pads, your drum filled with ball bearings, and you sweet wife who always seems to have that smile for everyone she meets.

You will be missed!

May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.

Genesis 31:49, NIV 

 

An Appointment with Happiness  

Suppose a man had an appointment a hundred miles north of his home, and if he kept it he would be sure of having happiness and prosperity. He has just enough time to get there, just enough gas in his car. He drives out, but he decides that it would be more fun to go 25 miles south before starting in earnest. Nonsense, isn't it? Dorothea Blande

This quote from Dorothea Blande's book, "Wake up and Live", sadly sums up the lives of far too many people. They know what they need to do to have happiness, but they don't do it. Then, strange as it may seem, they are genuinely surprised when they miss out on the contentment that they so earnestly desire. I'm sure glad that I'm not that dumb - aren't you?

The fact is that most of the failures I have had in my life have not come from a lack of knowledge. Instead, they have resulted from a lack of effort and commitment. The truth is that when things are really important to me I do them, and when they are not, I don't. We might have what seem to be legitimate excuses for not accomplishing the important things but the harsh reality is that we cannot reap that which we have not sown.

I suppose there are few areas in life that we make more excuses for than in our service to God. We haven't become a Christian yet because we want to study some more. We didn't go to worship last week because we felt a cold coming on. We don't study more because no one can really understand the Bible.  If we are honest, however, we have to admit that the reason we haven't become a Christian yet is because we don't want to. The reason we didn't go to church last week (if we were healthy enough to go anywhere else important) was because we didn't want to. The reason we don't study more is because we  don't want to. But...

We do have Heaven waiting for us if we truly want to go. We know this is true for God so loved us that He allowed His only begotten Son to die in our place. If you and I want something as tremendous as service to God and Christ (as well as the happiness that service brings) then we will have to do something about it. And, if we don't, we won't! Do you?

Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22, NIV