You Think You Know

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“You think you know, but you just don’t know, and you never will.” – Jim Mora

The fact that so many people think they know what is happening with others amazes me. No one really knows what others are thinking. I hate when watching football, the commentator sees someone on the feel and tells you what he is thinking. For all I know, he may be thinking he wants to eat pizza after the game. I am a person that prefers facts, not assumptions. This doesn’t mean that I never assume anything. I am human. We all do it. That does not make our assumptions right.

The most recent thing in the news is the Supreme Court confirmation hearings amid sexual assault charges.  This has been a circus, to say the least. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone seems to know every detail about what happened in 1982. The only thing I remember about 1982 is I changed schools. I am not talking about the parties involved. I am talking about the rest of the nation.

On one side of the equation is  Brett Kavanaugh, the nominee. Nearly every conservative claims this man is squeaky clean and a perfect fit for the Supreme court. I don’t know if he is or is not. I have never actually met the man nor have I ever heard of him before his nomination. Claims against him suddenly appear about a possible sexual assault from 1982. His supporters say this is preposterous. Those that oppose him have demonized him. I have no feelings toward him one way or the other.

On the other hand, we have Christine Ford, the accuser. Nearly every liberal claims that she is courageous for coming out with her story and has no political agenda. I do not know if she is telling the truth or not. I have never actually met this woman nor have I heard of her before her accusations. The timing of her claims may be suspect, but her supporters say her timing is not politically motivated. Those that oppose her said she is lying to push the democratic vote in the mid-term elections and to squash the nomination of a conservative. I have no feelings toward her one way or the other.

The one thing that I do know is no one really knows except the two of them. Everyone else seems to be casting judgment based on political leanings.

Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

I would like to defend both of them. I am glad that I have not been judged on my actions when I was in high school. When people are young, they make stupid mistakes. I am not saying he did or did not.  Justice in this country is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Many people listened to bias news stories and cannot see any possibility that he is not guilty. There are no facts that have been exposed, just opinions. I would like everyone to put themselves in the shoes of people that have been falsely accused. I pray no one does that to you.

On the other side, people claim that there is no reason to keep sexual assault quiet for so many years. As one who has experienced sexual assault in 1981, I can say there are many reasons that people do not come forward. In fact, until the writing of this post, I had only mentioned it once to my wife for the first time just a few months ago. I do not talk about it. It does not define me. However, I can understand the people that keep quiet for so many years. Though innocent in the matter, there is a shame, grief, disbelief and even fear. Not talking about it makes it seems like it never happened. For me, I still think about it. I hope that Dr. Ford is lying. I hope she never experienced sexual assault. However, I do not know, and neither do you. I pray that you walk in her shoes if she has. I hope you never experience the trauma that goes along with this type of event.

While both people involved in this political circus, I hope that the one that is right, can forgive the one that has wronged the other. Forgiveness can bring healing, but it is a choice. I chose to forgive.

Ephesians 4:32 ESV  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you

 

 

 

 

 

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A Hot Mess: A Different Perspective

A Hot Mess: A Different Perspective

In my last post, A Hot Mess, I explained how making coffee when the top is still on the travel mug is a bad idea. Today, I would like to revisit that same mess that was made but from a different outlook.

This week, I thought about how that cup represents people today. I have several coffee cups and travel mugs, but I tend to use the same ones most of the time. My favorite travel mug has pictures of my wife and grandkids. My favorite cups to use at home are from Spain and France. While I do not use these exclusively, I use them more than the rest.

Every morning I drink coffee on the way to work. All of the travel mugs I use have lids, and all hold at least 12 ounces of coffee. More than anything, the cup is a tool used for a fundamental purpose. That is if you believe holding coffee so I can drink it is important. However, coffee mugs do not serve their purpose until there is coffee poured into them.

AAA3We may not realize that we all serve a purpose, but we do. Some of us may not even know what that purpose is yet. Some of us overthink our mission and get frustrated when we don’t come up with a purpose that seems important to us. Your purpose may not be as crucial to you as it is to others.  Some reasons for being here may be to help others, to cause some to laugh or enjoy life, or to make this world a better place.  There are many reasons to live. Like the coffee mug, we just need to be there ready to be put to use.

Part of being a useful mug is to be empty until it is time to be used. No one wants to pour coffee into a mug that is filled with something else. Can you imagine a mug being filled with oil and then you add coffee to it before drinking? Yuck. That would be a problem.

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The same is true of us. Sometimes we are filled and cannot be put to our proper use. We may have allowed ourselves to be filled with things like bitterness, anger, hatred, selfishness or jealousy. It is hard to be useful when you are already full.

Now, I would never allow oil to be poured into my coffee mugs. The same is true of my life. I need to make sure I don’t let things into my life that render me useless. I need to fill my life with things that can help me serve my purpose.  Things like love, joy, kindness, goodness, and self-control need to be poured into my life so I can do the things like helping others or whatever.

Everyone seems to take their coffee in different ways. Some people like cream and sugar. Some like it black. Some like it with more milk than coffee. My coffee cup needs to be filled with what will serve my preferred taste.

I know a successful businessman that once said he would prefer to hire someone off the street with no college education that he could train himself. The college graduates came in with preconceived ideas, thinking they knew everything already and were not open to the ideas that were already working for the company. Those graduates were like cups that were full but did not serve the preferred purpose of the company.

It is better to be an empty vessel that can be filled with what is useful to this life.

“Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also those of wood and clay; some for honorable use and some for dishonorable. So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”    2 Timothy 2:20-21(CSB)

                               

 

A Hot Mess

A Hot Mess

a1Some mornings don’t start in the desired fashion. I am a person that likes routine. I do the same thing the same way every morning on workdays. I have found that if I deviate from that routine, the chance of me forgetting to do something dramatically increases. There was a substantial deviation from my routine yesterday. Fortunately, I did not forget anything. However, it did cost me some extra time before leaving the house.

Part of my routine after leaving my room in the morning is to get my coffee brewing then start getting dressed in the next room. When I return to the kitchen, I add my creamer to my coffee and continue with the rest of my routine.  This was the place when my routine came apart.

When I walked into the kitchen, I saw brown liquid covering a large portion of my counter next to my coffee maker. My first thought was that the cup was too small for the selected portion. I thought it overflowed. When I removed my travel mug, it was light, as if it was empty. That is because it had no coffee in it, at all.

It did not take long to discover the problem. The top of the travel mug was still on the top of my cup. An unfortunate mistake made a big mess.

There are various ways that people would handle this problem. Some people would blame the cup for having a top in the first place. While this makes no sense to most of us, we probably know someone like this. Some people refuse to admit that they had any responsibility for the problems. I have discovered that I usually have at least some fault in the mess with which I find myself.

Others would cry about the mess, but not actually do anything abouta2 the problem. They would even tell friends about their unfortunate situation so they can cry together. There is nothing wrong with crying. It just does not solve anything. After the tears have fallen, you still have a mess. Some people would prefer to cry until someone else cleans the mess for them. Even if someone else does clean your mess, you still have not learned to handle messy situations. We all know that one messy situation will not be the only one we have.

Some will see the mess and pretend it did not happen. This also does not fix the situation. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away. When you return to the scene, it is still there. Most of the time, the issue has become worse because of the neglect.

My choice for yesterdays mess seemed like a no-brainer, though I know many that would have chosen the other options. I cleaned the mess. Paper towels and wet rags were readily available, so I used them. I may not be the best at cleaning, but I must have done a decent job because my wife did not complain about sticky counters.
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We should take after Jesus when it comes to fixing problems. When people were hungry, he did not ignore them. He handled the issue and fed over 4 thousand people once and over five thousand another time. He also taught those around him not to wait for others to solve the problem but to deal with it like in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The problem may not be your fault, but if there is a problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just solve the problem, teach others to solve problems.

Everyone has problems. Some problems are more significant than others. Some cannot be handled alone. Get help. Know that you are not alone. Most of all, trust God to get you through.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17)

When did the people in the United States start hating freedom?

AAA4When did the people in the United States start hating freedom? I thought this country fought wars so that we could be free. I thought we went to war on behalf of others so they can also be free. Yet, every time someone uses their freedom to do or say what they want, they are quickly opposed to their right to say or do it.

The problem is we want our freedom. We just do not want those with whom we disagree to have it.  Addidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Chick-Fil-A, The NFL, and Nike have all been parts of “boycotts” in the last few years because people do not like them exercising their freedoms. Now, you have the right to boycott. I’m not taking that away from you. I just hope your liberty to express yourself is not taken away.

We seem to be self-righteous. Our way is not only better than your way. It should be the only way. It is the best way. We may not say those words, but our actions definitely scream them.

We call others weak because they are offended. We tell others to toughen up and get over themselves. Yet, we get angry when others express a different opinion. When people say we get offended, we deny it because that places the blame on us. We say, “I’m not offended, I am just standing up for what is right.”

An offense is defined as annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles. That sums up almost everyone I have ever spoken to that says they are not offended.

I do not agree with many things people say or do. I have chosen not to boycott or break ties with them. Last time I checked, the Bible speaks many times about unity, forgiveness, and love. Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8) How does separating ourselves from people or even companies with whom we disagree display any of those principles? Separation does not show unity. Continually criticizing others does not demonstrate forgiveness. Hoping a person is fired and never works again does not display love.

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I have a Christian friend of mine that had a Muslim open a business near his church. Most people could see that there is a different perception in the way these two men would think. My friend did not have his congregation boycott the business for his beliefs. He actually went to the man and asked if he could pray for the man’s business to be successful.

That is how we should be. I do not have to agree with everything you believe, but I should hope and pray for your success, not your ideas, but your business and your well-being. We should desire and pray for the best to happen to people. I think many of us believe that God cares more for values rather than people, but Jesus died for the people. He told them not to sin anymore, but he gave his life because he loved the people.

Yes, I am an American, but primarily, I am a follower of Christ. I believe in unity. I think that Christians should be in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:2)

However, not all Americans are Christians. That is their prerogative. We do not have to be of one mind with everyone else. Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. (Luke 11:17). I do not want the church to fall, but I also do not want the United States to collapse. We need to put aside our differences and pray for each other to succeed.

 

Not Broken

aaaaSometime back, our coffee maker quit working. This was not a good thing. My wife and I are coffee drinkers. We start our mornings with coffee. We sometimes end our days with coffee, and on occasion, it is how we make it through the day. When the piece of equipment that gives us our coffee goes down, we go into emergency mode.

I am thankful for the internet and YouTube. You can find out how to fix almost anything aaaon here. That information was a lot harder to find when I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s. We followed the steps the video demonstrated, and we were able to get the morning coffee. The repair did not last, and we bought an entirely different coffee maker.

People say things are not made the way they used to be. That is mostly true. Things seem to be made cheaper to replace but cost more to repair. It seemed to be that things were built to last back in the day, but when they broke, they could be fixed more efficiently and cost-effectively.

There is one thing that has never changed. You cannot fix what is not broken. We can destroy it. We can try to improve it. However, if it is not broken, you cannot repair it.

I have seen companies pay big money for computer programs and then try to change it to do something else. This often causes the program to go down costing many man-hours to repair it. It seems to me that you would buy customized software to do what you want. Trying to fix what is not broken is costly.

aaPeople are the same way. We see people that are different than us. They may be in better shape, have a better sense of humor, and be more financially sound. The possibilities are endless of what others are that we may want to replicate. We have seen people try to change who they are. They think there is something wrong with them. Trying to transform into something they are not can lead to many other problems including depression or self-loathing.

Quit trying to fix what is not broken. You are not defective. You are you. You were not created to be anyone else but you. That does not mean that you cannot be the best you that you can be, but don’t try to be an imitation of someone else.

You need to love yourself. You are worth loving. There are enough people in this world who won’t love you for you, but their opinion of you does not matter. What matters is God loves you, and if you are good enough for Him to love, then that should settle it. You are loveable.

God does not just love you, but he likes you. He was willing to lose his only son because of his love for you. God wants to spend time with you because He likes you. He likes when we talk to Him telling him how we feel and how our day is going. He wants to go with us to help us through the fires of life.

You are not broken. You just need to do you. God created you how He wanted you. If things that work for everyone else doesn’t seem to work for you, try it a different way that works only for you.

People can only be fixed if they are broken. You are not broken.

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Blinded

AAA (2)I can’t imagine being born blind. I can barely get around my house without tripping on something that is always there now. When driving through Ruston, Louisiana, I noticed people with their eyes covered walking around with sight sticks. I later found out that Ruston was the home of the Louisiana Center for the Blind. The center teaches students the tools necessary to live life independently.  Finishing the program requires students to dropped off at a random location where they must find their way back.

My trip to Ruston was years ago, but I recalled this while reading a novel whose main character was born blind. She used echolocation to get around. Echolocation is the “ability of humans to detect objects in their environment by sensing echoes from those objects, by actively creating sounds.” The protagonist in the novel I am reading used clicking sounds from her mouth to “see.”

2Throughout our lives, we will encounter many who are blind, though most of them can see. Their eyes may physically work, but they are blind in other areas. Jeremiah 5:21 says, “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.” This verse tells me that God wanted them to know something, but they chose not to hear it for some reason.

There are a variety of reasons that people do not see. Ignorance is one of those reasons. Ignorance is not stupidity. It is merely a lack of knowledge. If you saw a cow for the first time, you would not know what it is unless someone tells you it is a cow. The same is true of other things. If you have never been taught a truth, how can you know it? I have experienced people training me on the job that did not want to explain something because they preferred to be the only one with that knowledge. They thought it made them more valuable to the company. When the time came for me to use that knowledge, I could not. I was blind to that truth.

One truth that I learned over the years is God loves us all. We are sometimes ignorant of aaathat truth. If we do not demonstrate God’s love to others, then how can they know. Treat people the way God loves and tell them about the God of love. Knowing the truth can change their lives. John 8:31-32 states, “So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” You cannot be set free if you do not know the truth.

Sometimes we do not see the truth in our lives because we are too busy looking at the problem in everyone else’s lives. We choose to look at the negative in people without understanding what we need to correct ourselves. Often the thing that aggravates us about someone is the same trait that we have. We just don’t see it. We complain about others being close-minded, but we don’t listen to their point of view. Matthew 7:3 says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

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Image source: Seasons of Life Ministries.

Some people can become blind after being able to see at first. Something changed to make them blind. Often we do not know the truth because we have experienced something that distracts us from that truth. It is hard to believe that the Father loves you if you were abused by your parents. The abuse does not change the fact that he loves you. The experience blinds us to it. God did not want you to suffer. Sin brought into this world brought the suffering. We want free will, but blame God when someone uses the free will to hurt us. Often these experiences lead us to blindness caused by resentment. Matthew 11:28-29 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” If we seek the Lord Jesus, he will reveal the truth and open your eyes to the reality that will bring you peace.

While many have learned to live with blindness, there is a better way. Quit holding on to things that hide the truth. See the truth. Do not choose to remain blind.   aaa3

Blessed are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear. (Matthew 13:16)

 

 

One Lucky Day

aaaI have been quite busy for the last month and a half. I have had visitors, staycations, out-patient surgery, and conferences. Don’t get me wrong; I loved them all except for the operation. However, I had to return to work so having one day to rest and do nothing seemed like a great plan. That planned day off did not go as planned.

I love my dog. My dog appears to love me, as well. He is an 8-year old, 75-pound lap dog named Lucky. He likes to lie on the sofa next to me, and all of his weight rests on my leg. After being gone for several days, Lucky could not wait to cuddle with me. That moment of smelling him helped me decide to bring him to the groomers.aaa2

Having Lucky groomed professionally is something I have contemplated for some time. I have even emailed this particular business about the process. I explained that my dog is a sweet dog but nervous. He has never been to a professional groomer, and the only human he has tried to bite is the veterinarian when he gets his annual shots.  They assured me it would be no problem.

Lucky was excited to go for a ride. He even went into the little business with no hesitancy since he did not recognize this place as the vet. I again explained his temperament and helped him get into the kennel until it was his turn. They assured me he was in good hands. I went home with an estimated time for when I could retrieve him.aaa3

Two hours later, they called and said they could not groom him. I rushed to go pick him up. When I arrived, he was neither in the kennel nor on a leash. There was a leash on his back that was not connected because he would not let them near him. They tried getting him back in the kennel, but he attempted to bite them, and his 75-pound frame is awkward to handle when his nerves are on edge.

The moment I walked in the front door, Lucky became the happiest and most calm dog around. I connected his leash to the collar, and he sat next to me acting sweet. The groomers could not believe the change in his behavior. I took him home, and my wife and I did what the groomers could not.

What was the difference in the few minutes? He reunited with his “father.”AAA4

Maybe we should be a little more like Lucky. All the other dogs were calm and obedient, but it was strangers that were making the changes to them. To Lucky, the groomer was the enemy. Lucky would not let the enemy even come close to him.

This world has a lot to offer people. Some of it may be good while others aspects are not beneficial. We sometimes let strangers make changes to our lives. We should be careful of what or who influences our thoughts and behaviors. We cannot afford to let the enemy have his way with us.

So who should we let influence us or even make changes to our lives? The answer for me is my heavenly father. He alone can bring peace to my situation. He teaching and direction should be the source of my influence. He brings me comfort and life, while the enemy, the devil, brings turmoil.

John 10:10 – A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.

1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

Romans 12:2 – And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.