Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Is a Team?

What is a team?
What is a winner?
Where do competitiveness and cooperation meet and merge as one?

You need to watch this video first, and then let’s continue with our thoughts.  It takes six minutes.

Sara, as you can see, was out of the game.  If a player on her team even touched her, the homerun she had just hit would end up as a 2-run single.

But in the midst of a competitive game of softball, along came two very brave and generous young women who put care and cooperation ahead of the scoreboard.

This story touches me and moves me on so many different levels. 

It has the agony of defeat and ultimately the thrill of victory, and in this case, both sides won that day. 

What is a team?

A team is a group of individuals setting aside their own agenda to support and aid one who can’t cross the finish line on their own.

We see teams in action often.
-Humanitarian groups and church groups feeding the homeless
-Social services groups offering a warm bed and safety from the dangers of the street
-Missions-minded groups offering their skills to build a school, a church, or a home in a deprived area of our world.
-Medical doctors taking personal time off to serve in a poverty area offering medicine and healing

What is a team?

A team is you and me banning together in love and community to offer a cup of water to someone who is thirsty. 

Someone near you may need your team to help them out this week.  Will you be a team player?

I’ve befriended a young man named Michael who is homeless on the streets of Seattle.  We occasionally talk and I’ve bought him more than one meal in recent months. 

He stopped by to see me last week and just wanted to let me know he was okay and that he was now living in an apartment.  During the times Michael and I talked I often wondered if anything I was saying or doing was making any sense.

Something worked right, for Michael came to me last week just to say “thanks” and let me know he was doing better.

I became Michael’s team on those days when we talked. 

What is a team?

It’s you and me reaching out a hand to help, an ear to listen and a heart that loves.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sometimes I Have a Dirty Mind

Sometimes I have a dirty mind.  Do you?

Before you jump to bad places let me explain.  By “dirty mind” I mean sometimes I let junk accumulate in my mind as to how I view myself.  My mind gets cluttered with junk, and I get bogged down into dirty thinking.  Zig Ziglar called it “stinkin thinkin”. 

I am a big believer in having a good mindset and a positive attitude.  Attitude is often the critical deciding factor in many of life’s circumstances.

Here are some examples of a “dirty minded person.”
-"I’m no good to anybody."
    -"I can’t do anything right."
        -"Who would hire me?"
            -"My life sucks pretty much all the time."
        -"If you look up the word 'Loser'
          you’ll find a picture of me."
    -"If I disappeared would anybody care?"

Well, enough of that. 

We have to remember how critical our mindset is at all times.  We make or unmake ourselves every minute in every transaction just simply based on the conversations that go on between our ears.  We talk to ourselves constantly, but what are we saying?

The Bible says “Take every thought captive.” 
(II Corinthians 10:5)

So, my friend, allow me to offer all of us a reminder of who we are, what we might accomplish and some good directions in which to take our minds.

13-16Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
You formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
You know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made,
Bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow
From conception to birth;
All the stages of my life
Were spread out before you, 
The days of my life
Were all prepared before I'd even lived one day. 
(The Message
Psalm 139:13-16)

If the God of the universe gives that much thought to you even before your birth, do you think we can have a touch of respect for God’s wisdom and give ourselves a chance? 

Don’t despair.  Hold on to your future with hope.  I love this text from the Bible.  Jeremiah 29:11. 

“For surely I know that plans I have for you, 
God says.
Plans for your prosperity 
and not for harm.
I want to give you a future with hope.”
 (MB paraphrase)

Thought leaders down through the ages have expressed the idea of “As a man thinks so is he” in a hundred different ways. 

“You become what you think about.”  (Earl Nightingale)

“Only those who can see the invisible can accomplish the impossible.”  (Dr. B. Lown)

“Vision is what we see when we close our eyes.”  (Kevin Hall)

The mind is everything.  A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”
(Marcus Aurelius –Roman Emperor)

“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

So, what kind of mind do you have?  Is it still dirty, cluttered, and clouded over with the nasty, the ugly, the self-defeating?

Feast on these words.

I am Somebody
I may be poor
But I am Somebody

I may be young
But I am Somebody

I may be on welfare
But I am Somebody

I may be small
But I am Somebody

I may make a mistake
But I am Somebody

My clothes may be different
My face may be different
My hair may be different
But I am Somebody

I may be black, brown, or white
I may speak a different language
But I want to be respected, protected
Never rejected

I am God’s child
I am Somebody

Rev. William H. Borders,
Written in the 1950’s. 

Stand up, man, woman, boy, girl.  
Change your mindset.
Make up your mind today 
that you are SOMEBODY.
And remember - 

God don't make junk!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Too Many Too's

Have you had statements like these said to you?
Do people around you, friends we call them, say “you are too ‘something’”? 

You are TOO

Let’s take a look at some famous men and women who have overcome odds and the negative press of the day.

--When John Kennedy announced that we were going to the moon the naysayers said “it’s too far, man can’t stand that kind of pressure, we can’t afford it, and we don’t have the proper equipment”.   Look what incremental steps brought about.

--When we lost the lives of astronauts on three different occasions those lacking foresight said “that’s too many lives.  We can’t afford any more loses.”  But look what we have learned.

--Franklin Roosevelt was told he was too crippled to be president.

--Lance Armstrong was told he was too infested with cancer to ever ride again, yet he won seven Tour de France races.

--Abraham Lincoln lost election after election.  He was tall and gangly; not a handsome man at all, yet he became one of our most revered presidents.

--Mary Kay Ash was told to liquidate her business just days before she launched her first products.

--Arnold Schwarzenegger was told by family members to give up becoming a world class body builder, yet he became Mr. Universe.

--Ray Charles was told "you can't sing and you can’t play the piano.”

--Diana Ross was told “you have a nice voice, but it’s nothing special.”

--James Michener was once told, “you’re a good editor, but why would you want to throw it all away and become a writer.  I read your book and frankly, it’s not all that good.”  (This was said of South Pacific, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.)

--Akio Morita, then president of Sony was told, “no one will buy a tape player that doesn’t record.”  (That idea became the Walkman.)

Some people once said …
“Personal computers are a hobbyist fad.”
“People will rent videos but they will never buy them.”
“A global twenty-four hour news network will never work” was once said to Ted Turner.

How strong is your faith in whatever it is you want to accomplish?
Do you believe in your idea, regardless of what others say?

When I read stories such as these my heart is encouraged.  I begin seeing possibilities anew for my own hopes and dreams.  Do you?

Here is the take away today…

If you can dream it, plan for it and stay the course, you just might accomplish whatever it is you set out to accomplish.  It has nothing to do with age, ethnicity, or locale.

--First:  See it in your mind’s eye.

--Second:  Work at it every day.  Think about your magnificent obsession; plan for it, dream about it and move toward it every day of your life.

--Third:  Learn, study, read and talk to others who have pursued similar interests.  Gather all the information you can.  You are arming your homing device to move you on a strait path to success and accomplishment.

May you become the next great one in pursuit of your dream!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

There Is Enough Love

There Is Enough Love
(I related this story back in November 2011 and it is such a significant story that I repeat it again with a slightly different slant.  Thanks for understanding.  (Based on Brennan Manning’s story as told in The Furious Longing of God)

“Once upon a time there was a college student named Larry.  Larry was rather large; fat actually, and unkempt.  He wore clothes that were dirty and ragged at best.

He suffered with a very low self-esteem.  He dated no one, for others labeled him as “ugly”. 

One year at Christmas time, Larry went home to visit his parents in Rhode Island.  Larry’s father was a typical lace-curtain Irishman.  That meant that on the hottest of days he would come to the dining table with a tie and suit on, and he spoke in subdued tones. 

As the New Year approached, Larry told his Dad that he needed to get back to school the next day. 

“What time, son?”


“Well, I’ll ride the bus with you as far as I can.”

The next morning Larry and his father got off the bus at Dad’s work place so Larry could catch another bus to go to the airport. 

There was a group of men in front of Dad’s work place and they begin making loud and degrading remarks about Larry. 

“Oink, oink, oink.  Look at that fat pig." 

Another man remarked, “if that slob was my kid, he’d be out the door so fast, he wouldn’t know if he’s on foot or horseback.  Hey pig!  Give us your best oink.”

The harsh words continued.

At that moment Larry’s father, for the first time in his life, reached out and embraced him, kissed him and said, “Larry, if your mother and I live to be two-hundred years old, that wouldn’t be long enough to thank God for the gift He gave to us in you.  I am so proud that you are my son!”

What amazing and transformational words those were. 

Here’s what happened. 

Larry went back to school.  He began to clean up, and he began dating.  Soon Larry became the president of one of the fraternities.  He also pulled off a 4.2 grade point average.  He had a brilliant mind. 

On June 14, 1974 Larry was ordained a priest in the diocese of Providence, Rhode Island.  After being ordained, he spent the next twenty years as a missionary in South America, living a totally sold-out life to His God. 

Why the transformation?  Why did Larry turn from being a fat slob and an aimless nobody?

In one defining moment in time, Larry felt unconditional love from his father.  That moment changed his life forever.  His father healed him.” 

Larry found and felt enough love in that one embrace from his father and that love proved to be enough. 

My, oh my!  Have you ever experienced enough love?

I had to attend the funeral of my brother-in-law recently.  As we went through that experience I kept thinking "There is a lot of love here today.  Enough love to make it through such as time as this.”

I am married to Carolyn.  Never have I been loved to the degree that she loves me.  We are discovering enough love to make it through life, together. 

I’ve attended a few AA and Al-anon meetings.  The one thing that strikes me about these meetings is that there is enough love in each of those meetings to help the participants make it through another day and night.  Just enough love to make it through.

I believe that someone near you today needs a sense of ‘just enough love’ to make it through whatever they are facing.  They need you.  They need your love.  They need your word or touch. 

May you find the grace to extend just enough love to someone near you today.

After all, there is enough love for you and me!