Tag Archives: motivational

Is Your Window Broken?

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Ever heard of ‘The Broken Window Theory’? I hadn’t until a few months ago when our deputy chief referred to it during one of our fire department meetings. Although ‘The Broken Window Theory’ is based on the premise that disorder leads to crime, within the framework of the theory is a principle that can be found in the book of Proverbs.

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. —Proverbs 24:30-34 KJV

Whether it’s a broken window, things left undone or out of place, or disintegrating relationships, it conveys a sense of complacency and apathy, and can become a new ‘normal’ if left neglected or disregarded. Those directly or indirectly involved are basically saying, “I don’t care enough,” or “It’s not my problem or responsibility,” or “We don’t feel led to get involved”. Neglect leads to disorder, disorder leads to chaos, and chaos leads to tragedy.

We are all a part of something, even if only a part of humanity. We all have a responsibility. If we want peace instead of chaos, happiness instead of sadness, beauty instead of ugliness, success instead of failure, and growth instead of decay, then the little things matter, and it’s up to us to take ownership and fix the broken windows.

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Neglect Destroys

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How Do I Decide? Well, Who or What Do You Want to Be?

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A few nights ago my daughter and I watched a movie, and something one of the characters said caught my attention. I think it can apply to more than just the obvious situation, don’t you? The main character’s best friend said:

“Don’t choose the better guy, choose the guy that’s gonna make you the better girl.” —Trish in This Means War

So who do you want to be? What do you want to be? Are your current life choices keeping you from being the person you really are deep down inside? Are current relationships with people and organizations helping you grow or keeping you stunted?

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” —C.S. Lewis, author

I’m not talking about being a snob.  I’m talking about the people you include in your inner ring, your most intimate of friends from whom you seek advice and with whom there is mutual benefit and not just a one-sided relationship.

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” —Proverbs 27:17

I’m also not talking about micromanaging our lives, and I know sometimes making the best choice isn’t always easy. After all, we’re human, and we make mistakes… sometimes, big ones. We cannot allow fear to keep us from making decisions either, because as Harvey Cox, an American theologian once said, “Not to decide is to decide.”

Don’t allow apathy to make the decision for you. Choose between what will keep you where you are or what will help you reach your goals.

Don’t just sit there. God cannot steer a car that isn’t moving.

“Are circumstances driving you, or are you controlling your circumstances?” —K. Scott Bonovich, author

It’s okay to say no.

Don’t kill yourself trying to fit into someone else’s mold. Do you want to be like them, or do you want to be you and who you believe God created you to be?

I recently made the decision to become a firefighter, and I am pursuing an education to become an EMT. I have been surprised by those who have been supportive from the beginning and those who are still not supportive to this day. One of my family members remarked that it seemed like the fire department had chosen me instead of my choosing the fire department. I assured her that it was my choice, and I worked hard studying the apparatus and equipment so that I could earn my shield and begin riding to assist and gain practical experience. Like anyone who has ever experienced great success, sometimes I had to decide between playing and working. I am grateful for those who also chose to work by taking the time to teach me. We played afterward.

“What are you prepared to do?” —Jimmy Malone in The Untouchables

How badly do you want it? What will it take to get it? Who do you want to be? It starts with a vision and then one decision after another.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” —Socrates, a character in Way of the Peaceful Warrior

Happy New Year!!

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Breaking & Making Habits

Photo credit:  David Gunter

Photo credit: David Gunter


Happiness Isn’t Free

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A recent conversation with a friend about being happy reminded me of a quote I had saved years ago, because I thought it was so profound.

“To be free to sail the seven seas, you must make yourself a slave to the compass.  Every freedom has a corresponding slavery.  We can be free from the toothbrush and a slave to cavities or a slave to the toothbrush and free from cavities.  For everything we want, we must give up something else.” —Quiet Walk Daily e-Devotional

Just as freedom isn’t free, happiness isn’t free either.  Sometimes sacrifices must be made in order to obtain both freedom and true happiness.  Oftentimes we have to give up one thing in order to have what we ultimately want.  Is it worth it?  Sometimes it’s not a matter of having to give up one thing entirely in order to have another, but it may just be a matter of moderation and setting boundaries.  Both moderation and boundaries have to be maintained, and that takes both time and energy, so it’s still a trade-off.   As my friend, Scott, would ask, “How badly do you want it, and what are you prepared to do?”

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” —Thomas Jefferson

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Freedom

Photo credit:  Luca Zaninoni - www.sxc.hu/photo/1330210


Unconditional Love and Grace Are Not Dirty Words

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A few weeks ago I heard a preacher talk about God’s unconditional love as if it was a dirty word. On another occasion, an old friend spoke of grace with equal disdain. I understand where they were coming from. One was coming from an attitude of legalism, while the other was grieving over grace being taken for granted and used as a license to sin. I am grateful that the pastors and teachers at the church I attend preach about God’s unconditional love and grace in a balanced way and without contempt.

 My daughter and I were discussing how people see truths differently depending on where they are in life and through which lens they are looking. For example, a person who truly recognizes his or her own utter depravity and the amazing grace and unconditional love of God, tends to really understand grace and is able to be gracious toward others. They see grace in a very positive way. Those who tend toward legalism and feel justified because they are able to keep certain commandments or live what they consider to be a good Christian life, tend to view unconditional love and grace with less value and speak contemptuously about churches that emphasize God’s love and grace. It is reminiscent of what Jesus said to Simon, the Pharisee, when he scorned Jesus for allowing a prostitute to wipe His feet with her hair. Jesus said:

“Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gave me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but his woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” (Luke 7:36-50)

The preacher I heard also mentioned visiting a fellow Christian, and upon finding out he had beer in his refrigerator, condemned him and questioned whether or not the man was a true Christian. Even if the man was an alcoholic, it does not mean he is not a Christian. What if he is addicted but wants to quit? What if he agrees with God that his drunkenness is sin? Didn’t the Apostle Paul himself say in the very same letter to the Romans concerning there being “therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, that he himself does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants to do? Didn’t Paul call himself a wretched man and thank God for Jesus Christ his Lord? (Romans 7 :14-25)

The attitude of the preacher reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the publican (with modern claims added in italics and parentheses for emphasis):

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Alcohol has never touched my lips, nor my feet entered a movie theater. I am in church every time the doors are open, and I go out soul-winning every week.)” And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. —Luke 18:9-14

Another preacher, who is full of grace, has never condemned his crack addict friend. He does not question his love for the Lord just because his friend is in church for a time and then falls back into his crack addiction. This preacher loves his friend unconditionally and encourages him to never, ever, ever give up. Which one would you say is more like Jesus?

Unconditional love and grace are, indeed, not to be used as a license to do whatever we want. If we do that, then it is fair that our love for God would be put in question. But if we hate when we sin, if we agree with God and try to turn away from doing it again…

and again…

and again,

He forgives us 70 x 7, because He is full of grace and a love that does not put conditions on us, like doing penance, before He will love us again. His love is unconditional. A person who simply dismisses sin and makes light of it because of grace and unconditional love, may need to consider the seriousness of sin, the purpose of obedience, and his/her own love for God. Likewise, people who speak of unconditional love and grace with disdain, may need to consider their own depravity and remember from what they themselves have been saved.

If I err, I would rather err on the side of love and grace.

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Love Sometimes Comes in Waves


Wisdom Wednesday: Use Some Common Sense

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Have you ever heard the phrases, “God helps those who help themselves” or “Let go and let God”? Did you know neither is in the Bible? Well, the principles are there, sort of, but there is a balance. God blesses the diligent, but He also helps us when we cannot help ourselves. Those who tend to be passive, might use the phrase, “Let go and let God” as an excuse to sit back and just pray about it, while those who like to be in control may need to learn to ‘let go and let God’. God expects us to use the wisdom and common sense He has given to do what we can do, and look to Him to do what only He can do.

“I hope none of you who have a garden are praying, ‘God, my garden is getting full of weeds and choking the plants. What do You think I need to do about it?’ You need to pull the weeds! You don’t need to pray about it! Just go pull the weeds!” —Steve Cobb

“Don’t stand by the water and long for fish; go home and weave a net.” —Chinese proverb

“Pray for a good harvest, but keep on hoeing.” —Slavic proverb

“Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” —Proverbs 10:4 NASV

 

If you liked this, you might also like… “Just Do Something” and “Don’t Panic”


Wisdom Wednesday: Wisdom Is As Wisdom Does

"Knowledge isn't power until it is applied."  —Dale Carnegie

“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” —Dale Carnegie

Have you ever known someone who was ‘book smart’ but lacked common sense or thought they were an expert simply because they had the knowledge, and maybe even the diploma, and yet lacked wisdom and experience? There is more to learning than getting a classic education. We can have knowledge without wisdom, but we cannot have wisdom without knowledge.

“Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back of an ass.” —Japanese proverb

“Knowledge is knowing the truth; wisdom is knowing what to do with it. Knowledge is theoretical; wisdom is practical. Knowledge fills your mind; wisdom guides your life.” —Mark Driscoll in Hard Life, Good God

The Hebrew word for wisdom is chokmah and is related to a root word meaning “skill”.  A person with wisdom has the ability to discern between good and bad, right and wrong, and can rightly apply knowledge that has been obtained.  In practical terms it means “skill at living life”.

Every prudent man worketh with knowledge: but a fool flaunteth his folly.”  —Proverbs 13:16 ASV

“The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.” —Proverbs 15:2

If wisdom is the right application of knowledge, then knowledge without application must be foolishness. And even more foolish still is to have the knowledge available but to never take advantage of it.

“Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it.” —Ecclesiastes 7:12 NIV

“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” —Dale Carnegie

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” —James 4:17

“Wisdom is as wisdom does.” —Dave Bruskas in his sermon Jesus’ Wisdom, Your Wisdom

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” —Miles Kington

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Knowing vs. Knowing


“If It Ain’t Rainin’, It Ain’t Trainin'”

“If green grass is in your future, God will lead you there, and he will take you down your own path. The path could very well be a dirt road, and all Marines know “if it ain’t rainin’, it ain’t trainin’.” When it pours, we must learn how to be content in the mud.”  —Jason B. Ladd

“If green grass is in your future, God will lead you there, and he will take you down your own path. The path could very well be a dirt road, and all Marines know “if it ain’t rainin’, it ain’t trainin’.” When it pours, we must learn how to be content in the mud.” —Jason B. Ladd

Jason B. Ladd, a fellow blogger and U.S. Marine fighter pilot, recently published a blog post called The 1 Big Lie That’s Stressing You Out.  He addresses one of the biggest issues that causes stress here in America.  If you’re looking for peace and ways to de-stress, I hope you will check it out.

 


The Key Is Not Perfection, But Direction

“Change is moving in the right direction.  It’s not about speed, distance, or perfection, but direction.”  —David Powlison,

“Change is moving in the right direction. It’s not about speed, distance, or perfection, but direction.” —David Powlison,

The quote by David Powlison, a CCEF Christian counselor, professor and speaker, reminded me of something my good friend, Scott, often says, “God looks at the heart. The key is not the perfection of our obedience, but the direction.”


Crybaby Party!

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Have you ever felt like life isn’t fair, like you’ve been mistreated and misunderstood, and wanted to throw a pity party?  I have.  Last August I posted a story and video featuring “Pops”, a former drug addict known as “El Diablo” by some and “Animal” by others.  The post is entitled Never, Ever, Ever Give Up!.  His son, Michael D. Sidebottom, also a former drug addict, recently published a book entitled On the Road: I Need Not Walk Alone.  Michael, through poems and thoughts, expresses the struggles and victories and the range of emotions he experienced in his fight against addiction and his road to recovery.  He has given me permission to post an excerpt that gives two different responses to dealing with life.

Crybaby Party

The invitations are sent,
The plans have been made,
It’s a crybaby party,
Complete with parade.

Bring your own pity,
Wrapped in shame,
Be prepared to play,
Pin-the-Blame.

The theme of the party,
Is “Poor Little Me!”
It’s a crybaby party,
Admission is free.

We’ll play lots of games,
With pity-pot prizes,
And lament my misfortune,
When the full moon rises.

The cake has been frosted,
The balloons blown up,
It’s a crybaby party,
I hope you show up.

Lose your own problems,
On the dance floor,
It’s not about you,
Leave your smiles at the door.

I’m such a crybaby,
Poor little me,
Please come to my party,
And cry with me!

[Michael’s] Thoughts

Life isn’t fair.  I didn’t deserve the situation my life was put in.  I didn’t deserve my unjust arrest and conviction.  I deserved a better fate.  Why was I so tortured, so abused and taken advantage of, so mistreated and misunderstood?  Poor little me!  Poor, poor little me!

This was my attitude and my way of thinking for the first couple of months of my recovery.  It was the way I truly believed.  If I was such a good person, then why were all these bad things happening to me?

“It isn’t fair!” I told everyone while trying to elicit their sympathy for my situation.  I cried about my problems to anyone who would listen.  I even wrote about it.  I used “poor little me” as a platform for getting what I wanted.  The problem was that my recovery never made any progress during this time.  My life never got any better.  I managed to convince some people to feel sympathy for me, and that in turn made me feel better briefly, but it was a hollow feeling.  Sympathy never makes things better; it just puts a spotlight on the problem.  Being in the spotlight brings a false sense of justification; but when it fades, the problem is still there.

The point where my recovery turned around and finally started working was when I was told, with no sympathy, that I was a whiney crybaby.  My eyes were opened to my selfish attitude; and I finally accepted the possibility of a better life, a life of being responsible for my own fate and finding serenity in the acceptance of my life for what it was.

That was the day I dried my crybaby tears and grew up.

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Disclosure:  I purchased the book myself and was not financially compensated for this post.  Besides the excerpt, the opinions expressed are completely my own and based on my own experiences and preview.


You Never Know

“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.”  --Frederick Buechner

“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” –Frederick Buechner

You just never know what kind of impact you might have in someone else’s life.  The quote by Frederick Buechner makes me think of the “Butterfly Effect”.


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