Friday, February 28, 2014

With Our Torch Still LIt

My friend, Chuck, gave a tribute at his best friend’s memorial service recently.  In it he used the metaphor of “Bruce crossed the finish line with his torch still lit.”  

I knew Bruce, and his life was an exemplary one.  He lived the Christ-life; he was a model husband and a successful pharmacist, he was active in his community, a reliable Deacon in his church, and an incredibly loving parent and grandparent.  And he even sang exceptionally well. 

In ancient Greece, there was a sporting event that illustrated this concept.  Each runner in the race was given a lighted torch at the starting line.  The objective was to see who could cross the finish line first with their torch still lit.  You could cross with your torch light out, but you would not win. 

Cross with your torch still lit - I love the symbolism this idea offers.  

Perhaps you can add your name to some of these scenarios.

I've gone through bankruptcy.
And my torch is still lit.

I've done the divorce thing.
And my torch is still lit.

My Mom and Dad both have died.
And my torch is still lit.

I've failed in a business or two.
And my torch is still lit.

I've made a few mistakes in parenting my children.
And my torch is still lit.

I've stumbled and fallen in my religious faith.
And my torch is still lit.

I've allowed anger to get the best of me.
And my torch is still lit.

I've cheated on my income tax.
And my torch is still lit.

I've been a few places that I should have avoided
And my torch is still lit.

I've left some things undone.
And my torch is still lit.

I've damaged a few people’s good name.
And my torch is still lit.

I've written a few letters I would love to take back.
And my torch is still lit.

I've got cancer.
And my torch is still lit.

I’m old now, and don’t have much 
strength or energy to do much.
And my torch is still lit.  
(Wilbur, this one’s for you.)

Do you see what is at play here? 


G R A C E !

Yes, we've all failed at something. 

Perhaps we've just gotten old or the body has succumbed to a serious medical ailment.  All that is left is counting minutes and hours.

And we find grace in every moment and in every circumstance of life.

Perhaps, maybe, the flame almost died.  Maybe it got covered over with dirt, slime, or maybe it has been hidden from view and the lack of oxygen has just about snuffed it out. 

And along comes grace, forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, or a second chance and we watch as our flame reignites.  It once again blazes to full brightness. 

That is the grace of God. 

And therefore we rise up, with our torch still lit, and continue to let our light shine.  We do what we can with what we have at hand, and let our light shine.  We say, “If I can shine a little bit for someone else now, maybe that is what I should do.”

And we once again turn toward the finish line with our torch brightly burning.

That’s what I want to do.  I hope I’m writing words of hope and encouragement at ninety-nine. 

What will you do with your torch light tomorrow, next year, or in five years?
P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, February 24, 2014

Can You See It

This saying was in one of my computer files.

If you can see it before you see it,
then you are almost assured to see it.

After a bit of mulling, I hope you get it.  Really get it.

Here are some people who saw it before they saw it:

Ray Kroc - Founder of McDonald's
Abraham Lincoln – Emancipation
Bill Gates & Paul Allen – Microsoft
Bill and Melinda Gates – The Gates Foundation
Jeff Bezos – Amazon
Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook

And let us not forget Walt Disney. 

During the opening ceremonies of Epcot Center in Orlando, Lillian Disney, Walt’s wife, was invited to the guest of honor spot on the platform.  At one point during the opening celebrations, Card Walker, then head of the Disney organization, turned to Lillian and quietly said, “Isn't it a shame that Walt didn't see this.”

Lillian turned to Card and said, “He did.  He saw every bit of this.  Why do you think this is here?”

The ability to see what your dreams will become is an important gift.  Every great enterprise, organization, church, government or university, first had its roots in the mind of some key individual.  That critical person had an inside view of what might be possible.  They dreamed, they envisioned, they planned and they foresaw what could become a reality.

What are you dreaming?
What is your mind’s eye projecting onto your subconscious and conscious?

For these reasons alone, it becomes more imperative that leaders become dreamers, and dreamers set aside time from time to time to work on the dream.  Flesh it out.  Give it color.  Determine how many stories high your dream will be.  What is its name?  Is it on First Street or Baltic Avenue?
What is the name?  It is a national or international entity?

Paint it first in your mind, and then some fine day you will paint it in living color.

Let’s revisit our opening question:

Can you see it?

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Gift - a Story

Once upon a time there was a small boy age eight.  His mother lay dying at home and he was sent out to get her some medicine and a few vegetables for vegetable soup.  At the local market he found he was short on money and attempted to run away with the stolen goods.

The shop owner caught him and demanded payment, creating a ruckus right in the middle of the market.

A shop owner across the way heard the noise and came out to investigate.  After hearing the story, he pulled out the money owed from his pocket, paid the other shop owner and let the young boy go free.

Time passed – thirty years later.

A man is lying in a hospital bed with an IV in one arm, and a respirator around his face and nose.  His daughter is sitting quietly by his bedside. 

The heart monitor is beeping quietly, and she lowers her head in grief and sadness.

In the next scene, we see the daughter at home sitting at the kitchen table.  She has two pieces of paper in her hand and as we get a closer look we see that it is her father’s hospital bill.  And the amount on the last page is a staggering sum of over $792,000.

She allows the papers to slip from her hands and we hear her sob softly. 

Next day, she is sitting by her father’s bedside in the hospital.  She put her head down for a brief rest.  When she awakened, there was a white envelop lying next to her arm.  She opened it and it was a hospital bill just like the one she was looking at the night before.

And as she looked at the last page, she saw in amazement that the sum now owed was $0.00 and there was a note scrawled across the bottom.

“All expenses paid thirty years ago
with three packs of painkiller
and a bag of vegetable soup. 
Best Regards.” 
Dr. Prajak Arunthong

I think you see what happened, but in case – the doctor was the little boy who was trying to get pain medicine and vegetable soup for his mother.  The patient was the second shop keeper who paid his bill and sent him on his way.

Never underestimate the power of an act of kindness done for another human being.

I love what Dr. Seuss says in Horton Hears a Who!

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

We never know how one small act of grace will turn into redemption at another time and in another place.

If you wish to watch the full video click here.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, February 17, 2014

Got Faith in Self

We have an important topic for today.  It lies at the core of everything we are, everything we believe, and everything we might hope to accomplish in the future.

It is the subject of faith in self.

Do you see yourself as a worthy and credible human being?  Do you see that you have skills, innate abilities unlike any other person, that you have your own individual sound to your voice, your own finger prints, your own DNA?  You are unlike every other person on earth and for that reason, you are a unique human.

The topic of developing a wholesome self-concept is a crucial one.  What do you believe about you?

A perfect illustration of this point is found in an old Shoe cartoon strip.  Shoe, the somewhat grouchy news editor is the pitcher on the mound in a company baseball game.  He and his catcher are in conference and the catcher says, “Shoe, you just have to have confidence in your curve ball.”

As the catcher walks away, Shoe is silently saying, “That’s easy for him to say.  When it comes to believing in me, I’m an agnostic.”

Therein lays the problem.  We don’t believe in self.  We don’t accept ourselves as being valid, and we don’t value self.  Often, we resort to the “poor me” syndrome and use self-defeating self-talk.

John Maxwell adds some insight.

“People believe they will fail.  If they see a light at the end of the tunnel they believe it is a train.  They see a difficulty in every responsibility.”

What should we do about that?

Somewhere, somehow, we must find good and accurate input to help shed light on our predicament.  There are many fine books on self-esteem development in bookstores, and there are some incredibly gifted therapist who can guide us through the tricky maze of self-development and wholesome self-image. 

If I start naming books, for every book named, there are dozens that are omitted only for space sake.  Do some research and ask others who have a handle on this aspect of life.

There are some wonderful aphorisms that many find useful.  They include thoughts from the Bible as well as from other learned men and women.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“God is with me.”
“Nothing is impossible with God.”
“God loves me just like I am.”

“I am somebody.”
“I can.”
“I will.”
“I approve of myself.”
“I am a worthwhile human being.”

A personal story:  I too have suffered with a lack of self-faith.  One day, not too many years ago, I began using the phrase “I approve of myself.”  I cannot begin to tell you the powerful effects of this simple phrase.  It worked for me. 

And now a word for those who have friends and relatives who suffer with a lack of self-belief:

Most people do not have even one person to whom they can turn who demonstrates faith and confidence in them.  How can you demonstrate that one aspect to your friend?  Find one or two strengths you can immediately see and point those out. 

I heard of a derelict that once had someone comment on how neatly his shoes were laced.  The next day, he appeared in front of his friend.  He was cleaned up, shaved, dressed and the transformation was remarkable. 

When a person feels esteemed enough that one other human being cares and believes in them, it can change his/her life.  How can we become the catalyst for this kind of life transformation for someone else?

John Maxwell gives us this important insight:  “Your job is not to get people to think more highly of you.  Your job is to get them to think more highly of themselves.” 

Back to our original question:  Got Faith in Self?

Ultimately it is an inside job, and often that starts with some outside help.

Religious Faith

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ants In Your Pants

When I was a kid in Tennessee, we loved to play Cowboys and Indians.  One day, I was a Cowboy and got shot, so I did the honorable thing and lay down pretending I was dead.

Unfortunately I lay on an ant hill.  My death was short lived, for I jumped up rather quickly and began the dance of my life.  The ants were everywhere they should not have been and I was bound and determined to get them off of me and out of my clothes as quickly as possible. 

It was not a pretty sight.  I had ants in my pants.  Ug!

Don’t you hate ants in your pants? 

Ever had doubts?  Frederick Buechner says this about that.

“Doubts are like ants in the pants.”
~Frederick Buechner

God has me in a grip of “who do you trust” in these days.  I sometimes boldly confess “I trust you God” and the next day the fears come, along with doubt, and I cry out, “Okay God, some things are coming up and I’m gonna need this, and this and this.  Are you there?”

Inside I imagine I’m doing my little dance jig like I mentioned above.  All the while, God is watching, probably smiling to Himself, and trying to say to me, “Hold on there son.  I've got this.”

And along comes the answer, or the deposit, or the idea or whatever it was I needed.

This trust thing is sometimes hard work.  Our human nature says “go, do, build, work hard, call, worry, fret, and stew.”

And God?

He only says, TRUST!

T R U S T ! ! !

What exactly are we trusting when He answers us in this way?

…His goodness
…His watchful eye
…His steady hand on the wheel of our lives
…His abundance
…His ability to meet every need

And above all, we trust His consistency. 

Here is my paraphrase:

“I have been young, and now, not so young, however, HOWEVER, never have I seen the child of God abandoned or his descendants begging for bread.”

This, my friend, is the remedy for ants in your pants. 

He really is worthy of our trust.

Always has been.

Always will be!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, February 10, 2014

Live Past Today

Sometimes we take a backward glimpse of our past life and see a zigzag trail that looks discouraging at best.  On our worst day we might find ourselves thinking, “What’s the use?  Cash it in, for goodness sake.”

Or perhaps we find ourselves in a deplorable situation in this moment and we see no way out.  Maybe we wonder how we can make it just one more day.

Have you ever felt that way?

A favorite book of mine is Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.  I find tremendous insight when I read this book.  Today’s thought is this:

“Man can only live by looking to the future.”

In his book, Frankl observed the bleak and desperate responses of some of the prisoners of war he saw all around him.  Once a prisoner gave up on life, he/she gave up on self.  Once hope was gone, life quickly ended. 

Rather, his discover has great implications for us today.  We must look toward our future.  We never give up, give in, or succumb to what is.  We fight for every inch of ground we can claim and every mountain we can successfully climb.

We LIVE!  We find some kind of hope, some kind of anchor and we hold on. 

Hope is the critical piece.  We see the possibilities in a glimmer, a ray of hope, and we fixate on that one glimmer.  And if that dims and fades, we find another.

Do you want to know how to live past today?  Dream of what tomorrow may bring.  Believe in your tomorrows and hold on for dear life.

What drove Dr. Frankl to survive that horrid experience was the image he carried in his mind of his beloved wife and his hope for their future.  Frankl said he saw many succumb who had the opportunity to survive because they lacked will, and they lacked will because they lacked hope.

It all came down to CHOICE.  Those who survive to face another day choose to endure, and to hold onto hope.

Make that choice today. 

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Friday, February 7, 2014

God's Nature

We are mere human beings.  Merely flesh and bone with blood flowing through us, and a brain than can, on occasion produce some amazing thoughts.  We are different.  We speak differently, some of us eat strange foods, we dress differently, and look differently with a variety of skin tones.  Some are poor and impoverished.  Some are rich beyond measure.

We are human beings and every one of us has been created in the image and likeness of God, meaning there is a God spot inside each of us that can only be filled by God himself.

When I watch the Olympics, I am often reminded that though we are different, each athlete, coach and support team member has a name and is known by God.

Philip Yancey provides us with this insight.

“God loves people because of who God is,
not because of who we are.”
~Philip Yancey
What’s so Amazing about Grace?

If God judged us on our bank account size, many would be left wanting.
If he judged us on looks, where would we rank?
What if he favored a particular climate?  Is the equator hell on earth?  Is Siberia the most desolate place God could come up with and he never visits there?

The answer is “NO” on both counts.  

Part of the answer is found in Psalm 8:4.  He favored us, considers us, trusts us, redeems us and calls to us.

I grew up in a small town in Tennessee.  It was not a thriving metropolis like New York City or LA.  If God were to favor a region, surely it would be an area like that, don’t you think?

He is much bigger than that, thankfully.  The God that I write about is no respecter of people.  He doesn’t grade on money or looks. 

He doesn’t grade at all.

His standard is “you are my child, I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name.” Isaiah 43:1

That has universal appeal. 
That one verse includes everyone – all the athletes, all the good guys who wear white hats, all the bad guys who wear guns concealed beneath their clothing.

That seems to include you and me.  How about that?

I am loved because of who God is. 

Enough said!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Word about Picky People

Today I want to talk about “picky people”. 

They are the good guys.  They wear white hats. 

The “picky people” I am speaking of are those rare individuals who are very picky about the words they use with family members, friends, associates, employees and common man/common woman in everyday life.

You know the ones – you always feel better after having been around them.  They find ways of adding value to your life.  They lift you up when you are down.  They encourage you.  They tell you something good about you.  They are often the first ones to speak when coming into a fresh situation, and they offer a smile, an acknowledgement and awareness in the moment that you are the most important person around.

You know – picky people.  People who are picky about the words they use and they way they treat their fellow man.

Picky people in management help lower the risk of stroke in their employees by 30%.  Proven fact – (see How Full Is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton)

Picky people in leadership have a higher employee retention rate. 

Picky people who walk the streets of any city are the ones who make a difference in everyday life.

Our words, our demeanor, and our attitude matters in...
~Air travel
~Wait-persons who take your breakfast order today
~Sales clerks who serve you
~The McDonald's order taker and the one who hands you your food
~The policeman walking his beat
~The Meter-Maid/Meter Mister who gives you a ticket you know you deserve
~The medical staff attending to your needs today

Be a picky person.  Pick your words carefully and add to someone’s life experience today.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time