The World Without You

You've been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you. Clarence, from "It's a Wonderful Life"

One of my favorite movies of all time is "It's a Wonderful Life". It's about a man about to commit suicide because he thinks that the world would be better off without him. So an angel is sent to show him what the world would have been like if he had never been born... and the world was a much worse place for his having never existed.

How about you? Would the world be worse off had you not been here? A lot of people would be quick to think like George - believing that their influence doesn't amount to much... but it really does. Every act of kindness that you perform, every thoughtful word you give to a discouraged soul, every helpful act you do, has a rippling effect. Like a stone cast into a pond that creates ripples far from its point of entry, your influence carries much farther than you could possibly imagine.

So, if you've been thinking that the world would be better off without you - think again! God created us for a purpose, a very great purpose, and we must not depreciate that fact. If you haven't been living up to that potential for greatness, then wake up and start doing something now! The fact is that every act that is motivated from love has the potential to change lives. It is a wonderful life, when you think about it, and it is high time that we started living it for the purpose that God put us here for. He is watching and considering our deeds, you must know, and He will help us every step of the way.

But, in order to experience this wonderful life, we must start. The past is gone. Today is a fresh beginning with endless possibilities. May we all take full advantage of these blessings. It can start with a small kindness, or a thoughtful word of encouragement, or a helping hand to someone who needs it, or...

From the heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth - He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. Psalms 33:13-15, NIV 


The Weight of the World

You cannot be expected to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Ancient Proverb

How often this world will get us down if we allow it to. We hear of the deeds of evil men and we think of the seemingly endless procession of those who suffer in this world, and we become discouraged. We want to help ease the pain and suffering, but there it is just too much of it for one person to handle. So, we begin to feel the weight of the world pressing down on us because we simply cannot help everyone. At times we might go so far as to wonder if there really is a God, because we see all of the suffering and injustice and we just cannot conceive that a loving God would allow such circumstances. 

But God does not want such circumstances. If there are evil consequences for evil deeds, it is only because evil people are violating God's laws by doing evil in the first place. If there are people suffering from famine and disease and other curable difficulties, it is only because someone is not doing their part.

In fact every time we think that God should do something about all of the bad things happening in the world, maybe we should realize that He already has done something - He has sent us! Perhaps we should realize that the cure for hunger is food - something that we could provide if we really wanted to. Maybe instead of accusing God for permitting the innocent to suffer, we should stop committing the evil acts that result in such consequences.

The reality is that God has a solution for all of the world's curable ills... and that solution is us. You and I cannot change the world, but we can do something about our little corner of the world. So, instead of trying to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, why not instead seek to ease the burdens of those whom God has put us here to help in the first place? It's really not that hard to do, when you think about it. God will take care of His part if we will just take care of ours. Sometimes... it is as simple as giving a drink of water to someone who is thirsty.

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. Matthew 10:42, NIV


The Way that Seems Right

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Solomon

This passage found in Proverbs 14:12 has been one of the greatest motivators in my life. It scares me to realize that I could be spending my life in what I thought was the right way, only to find at the Judgment that I was on a path to destruction. Does this bother anyone else? If so, welcome to the club! Now let's do our best to see if there is some way to increase our chances of success instead of just giving up and believing that no one can really know what God has commanded.

Perhaps an application from school will help. A few years ago I was asked to fill a vacancy in our local high school's math department. The vacancy came open about two weeks before a TAKS assessment test given to our kids to see if they have learned what they are supposed to learn. In some instances, TAKS determines whether the student can advance to the next grade or even graduate, so it's a pretty big deal. Given the importance of the task, when asked to teach, I did what you would do: I said. "no".

Unfortunately, our administrators were as deficient in their listening skills as they were in their discernment when asking me to teach, so I taught math for about six weeks (It has taken a skilled math teacher - a brilliant man who is a former teacher of the year - three full years to help the kids recover from those six weeks). Regardless of my shortcomings, the kids did amazingly well for one simple reason: In math, there is a right answer. Since this is a fact, the right answer can be obtained, and obtained every single time, if the problem is done in the right way. The kids who figured this out passed with flying colors.

The application to our spiritual lives is this: If those who have discovered the unchangeable truths concerning math can pass them along in a way that can be understood, then why can't we see that the our loving Father can do the same with the things He wants us to know? Or do we think that He was somehow inept in getting His message across? It is when we realize that God is capable, that He loves us and that He has made no mistakes with His word, that we will begin to earnestly dig into the Bible in order to discover the truth. It can be done, and it will be done by those who are willing to put forth the effort that obtaining knowledge has always required.

Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you really are my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."  

John 8:31-32, NIV


The Time to Plant

The best time to plant an oak tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is now. 

Dave Chilton

There is a vital lesson in this proverb that we all must learn if we are to achieve true success in life: Real achievement takes time. Too many people have the "I want it now" or "get rich quick" mentality that can only lead to want and poverty. Whether it be the mob's numbers game of old, or the government's lottery game of modern times, there have always been those who are ready and willing to take the time and money of those who seek shortcuts to wealth and success.

The problem with shortcuts in life is they bypass the important steps of planning and hard work. Have we not observed that those who become rich quick or are thrust into positions of importance without being ready are usually cursed in the end, rather than blessed? Those who want it all without having to pay the dues now always seem to pay those dues, with interest, in the end.

And then there are those like my Granny. Granny planted two pecan trees when she was eighty years old. Most people would laugh at such an idea, but Granny planted those trees anyway. Why, you might wonder, would she do such a thing? The reason might surprise some: It was because she expected a harvest. Now, Granny did not presume on her own future, rather, she counted on what she had learned in her eighty years of life: If you want a harvest, whether it be for yourself or those who will follow, you have to plant. And, Granny enjoyed at least ten harvests of those tasty pecans before she breathed her last at 98 years of age. More important to her, there will be many more harvests for the generations that are yet to come.

How about us? Will we idly wait for our ship to come in or our number to come up, or will we roll up our sleeves and get to the hard work of planting of those trees today? Our service for God will not only reap a personal harvest of blessings, it  will also bless the live's of the generations that follow. If you have not already planted that oak of service to the King, can you think of a better time to begin than now?

A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 28:20, NIV


The Source of True Beauty

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. Emerson

I like to travel. I like to explore new places and see things that I haven't seen before. I especially enjoy going to see the beautiful works of the Master. I have been so fortunate in my lifetime to experience scenes of beauty that many have never experienced.

I have seen the power of God's Pacific Ocean as it crashed against massive rocks with a mighty roar, and then watched the same ocean, still and placid, as the sun set over it like a giant ball of red flame. I have seen God's awesome Teton Mountains, reflected so perfectly in the clear waters of Jenny Lake that it was difficult to tell where the mountains ended and the reflection began. I have had the privilege of seeing God's Grand Canyon, God's Red Forest and God's mighty Mississippi River.

I've sat at the edge of a placid beaver dam, had a baby possum approach me to see if I was "Mother", and chased a bear away from our picnic table. I've stared into the eyes of my loving mother and father, witnessed the approach of the most beautiful bride ever as she came up the aisle towards me (of all people), and was present at the births of the three most beautiful children in the history of the world (though my grandson has given me pause to think there might be a 4th).

In short, I have been blessed by my Creator with such a continual display of His majesty and splendor that it is hard to know where to begin, when it comes to recalling the beauty that I have been witness to in my life. But the one thing that is constant in all of these varying items of beauty is the fact that they all came from the same source - God. And, no matter where I go in this world - even if I become blind or am locked away in some dark dungeon - I realize this one thing:

I will always have beauty in my life.

At least I will as long as I remember the Source of all things that can truly be called beautiful, and as long as I remember to carry that beauty in my heart wherever I go.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV