Encouragement, Issues of the Day

Do I Really Have to Love my Neighbor?

images-5Sometimes I wish Jesus had picked an easier second commandment to follow like not worshipping idols. That would be really easy to do these days. I think it would provoke me to no end to bow down to a statue and thus, I would not suffer in my flesh or my emotions in obedience. He didn’t give us that option, however.

Love your neighbor, let’s see…the one that screams, yells and swears at his kids so loud that we can hear him in our house? Can’t wait until those kids grow up.

The one that burns copper wire in his burning barrel at night while my wife and I choke on the fumes in our bedroom? Geez, get a real job.images-4

The one that can’t pick up a stick when mowing or when he does throws it in my yard? That lazy one, Lord?

Or, how about the one that refused to allow me to pray for him when he lost his job because he wanted to “collect unemployment” for a few months. Pride-filled arrogance.

Then there was the neighbor who was a pastor, but refused to talk to me because of what he believed to be our beliefs on the Holy Spirit. Boy, won’t he be miserable in heaven?

What about those neighbors’ who are Muslim, do I have to love them?

What about that neighbor who deals drugs, him?

How about the two young women who live together and I think they’re, well…you know. Do I have to talk to them?

And what about that neighbor who walks  by all the trash in his yard everyday, that one too?images-3images

Yes, all of these without exception. Love them like you love yourself. That means help them, serve them, build a relationship with them, bake them treats and sow the truth of the gospel, the good news, into their lives. It isn’t enough to be just a “good neighbor.” We represent another kingdom and we are responsible to share that kingdom with them in love. Ask the Holy Spirit for favor and ways to love unique to your neighbor’s need. You’ll not regret it.

Encouragement, Issues of the Day


imagesThankfulness is a decision. On a recent trip outside of the country, I was talking to a lady who was undergoing chemotherapy. She told me how thankful she was for her health and her life. Her condition and her smile seemed incongruous, but thankfulness oozed from her spirit. Thankfulness made a difference in light of what she was suffering. I stopped to think about how a thankful spirit is so different from that of a critical one. In the Scriptures we are encouraged to give thanks at all times and I suppose she was fulfilling that verse literally, but beyond that she seemed genuinely happy and at peace.images-3

When we lose our thankfulness, we lose the ability to see the good. We remove our eyes from what God is doing and get our eyes focused upon what we feel God is not doing. We then begin to entertain a critical spirit. This Thanksgiving as you sit around the dining room table, take the time to allow each family member to share in brief what they are thankful for or what they see God doing in their lives. It will set the mood for a more positive meal time together.

images-4Another idea might be to celebrate communion together as a family and together rejoice in what Christ has sacrificed for us.  Perhaps you might want to even read the following verses together before you pray and give thanks to God for all of His blessings:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Ps. 100: 3-5)

Encouragement, Issues of the Day

Failure: One of the Positives in Life

images-6I read a true story about a company vice president who had a very close personal assistant. This personal assistant was trusted implicitly, exposed to every level of information that his boss, the vice president was exposed to. Their relationship was tight, full of trust and full of integrity. This personal assistant would do anything for his very kind and generous boss. They seemed inseparable. The VP repeatedly told his assistant he was being groomed for greater and one day he would see the reality.  However, the day came when the president of the company experienced a major difference with his VP. It took some time, but eventually the president began to tell lies about his VP to the board of directors. He was slowly and methodically working toward the firing of the VP, even though every accusation was false. The only one who could stand up for the integrity of the VP was his personal assistant.

That dreaded day arrived when the board of directors would call upon the personal assistant to testify and the very real rumor was that if the VP was fired, the only way the assistant could maintain a position with the company, and not lose his employment, was to side with the president. The personal assistant didn’t realize that on the day he would be called into the boardroom, both the president and his boss, the VP, would be present as well. In his heart, the assistant was prepared to stand up for and defend his boss, but out of his head and through his lips came only words that aligned themselves with the president. Call it what you will, but at the very least it was self-preservation. His boss slowly turned his gaze toward his long time friend and looked deep into his eyes. They both seemed to drop their heads in disbelief at the same time. Pain struck the assistant in his gut and chills ran down his spine, his face became flush red, his heart pounded with disbelief and his palms were sweaty and stuck to the table where he was seated.

Immediately he knew he failed his long time friend, his family and himself. He still had a job, but he lost all incentive with the company and one day, not long after this very meeting, he just walked away, returning to his prior profession as a commercial fisherman.images-7

What was the name of the personal assistant? How can you and I identify with him?  (See Matthew 26:69-75)

Encouragement, Marriage, Postmarital

Husbands, Stop Trying to Fix Your Wives

images-5Sorry guys, but your wife does not desire you to fix her like you fix the car or repair the broken dryer. But what she does desire is for you to attentively listen to her. I learned this lesson late one evening after a long day at the office counseling couples and individuals. Still in my “counseling mode,” Mary was running her day by me while I kept interrupting her with what she should have said or what she should have done in each case. Finally, in exasperation she quipped, “Oh, you’re the GREAT counselor swooping in to fix me and others!” What…? I was thinking, “She didn’t just respond that way when I was simply trying to help her did she?”

From that point in time and after that rebuke I learned that my wife simply wanted me to listen to her and not counsel or correct, fix or repair her. Listening is a developed skill and a wise husband will learn when to use it. I now ask her if she desires my input before opening my mouth. Do I understand this concept? No, not really, but then I don’t have to understand as much as I have to be understanding.images-4

Read this:  Proverbs 12:15   Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen others.

Just for fun, Uncategorized

Forty-Five Things You May Not Have Known About Me

images-6Every once in a while I throw in a blog that has little or nothing to do with my normal subject matter, like toilet seat ramblings.   In this entry I thought I would take some time and reveal to you 45 things you might not have known about me in random order, just to let you into my life a little deeper. So, here goes…

  1. I grew up in Lancaster County, PA, USA.
  2. My mother was a Lutheran and my father was of the Russian Orthodox denomination.
  3. I grew up in the country (three miles outside of a small town) for the first 17 years of my life and at heart, I am a country boy.
  4. At age 16 I was introduced to the gospel for the first time and at age 17 I asked Jesus into my life.
  5. I spent four years in the US Air Force during the Vietnam conflict.IMG_1436
  6. Since around age 45 onions and garlic hate me.
  7. In the first year of marriage, I was diagnosed with a blood disorder (I had to experience a bone marrow test) and in the first year of my marriage I was totally healed of the very same blood disorder by the only One who heals.
  8. I have now been married to the love of my life and my best friend, Mary, for forty years.IMG_1423
  9. I am enjoying the experience of my sixth decade of life.
  10. I love fast cars and fast motorcycles.
  11. I actually raced motorcycles (enduros) for a few years of my life.images
  12. I bought my first motorcycle when I was 15 and I rode that bike everywhere without a license plate or a driver’s license.
  13. I lied about my age and secured my first “real” job at 15, washing dishes in an elderly care facility and, yes, I rode my motorcycle to work.
  14. While in the military, I became a Non-Commissioned Officer and graduated first in my class.
  15. Many years of my childhood I spent in a tent in the “woods” or down by the creek and camped there every weekend.
  16. I have one sibling, a sister who is eighteen months older than me.
  17. I love the mountains, the fresh water streams, the majestic trees, the animals, the sounds and the smells.
  18. I have now walked with my Lord for 44 years and He has been nothing but faithful to me.
  19. Mary and I lived and served as missionaries for eight years of our married lives.
  20. My worst job ever was baling hay at a neighbor’s farm as a kid and getting paid $1.00 per day.
  21. Writing does not come easy to me.
  22. My favorite pie is shoe-fly. I will choose it over cake any day of the week.
  23. I was in a rock band as a teenager.
  24. I have made many mistakes (failed) many times and realize that failure is a great teacher.
  25. I am a “saver” for future investment of course.
  26. I have a used car business on the side.
  27. I hunted white tail deer for over 30 years and was fortunate enough to bag many bucks and does.
  28. I like old things like furniture, cars, trucks and motorcycles.
  29. I enjoy creating things with wood, building and renovating.IMG_1043 IMG_1030
  30. I really enjoy fixing things.
  31. I built (with lots of help) my own house in 1987.
  32. Saving water and electricity, any utility, is something I try to do while caring for the environment God has given us to steward.
  33. Don’t hate me, but I think Apple products are great (as I write this on a MacBook Air).
  34. I enjoy flea markets.
  35. I rebuilt a 1953 Chevy 3100 pickup truck and successfully got it on the road.
  36. I am crazy about living debt free and helping others to enjoy the same.
  37. I love any kind of nuts, except pecans.
  38. I lived in two other states before returning to my roots in Pennsylvania.
  39. I continue to find areas of insecurity in my life.
  40. I enjoy NASCAR and actually drove a stock car at the Dover Delaware Monster Mile track once.
  41. I really like to read books that challenge and grow me as a leader.
  42. I tend to stay away from people who promise you the world and deliver nothing.
  43. I am told that I am tenacious and I actually see that as a positive.
  44. I struggle, over analyze and think too much when someone I love is going through a difficult time in their life.
  45. I love Jesus more than ever and continue to grow in the realization that He loved me first.

There you have it. I am sure I have 45 more, but I’ll not bore you any further. Thank you for reading my blog and sending your comments. Keep forwarding them if you find something helpful for others.

Encouragement, Marriage, Postmarital

Wives, Stop Trying to Change Your Husbands

images-15Some women get into relationships thinking they will change him – they will not. Some women get married thinking they will change their husbands – they will not. Ladies, here is what you can do. You can affirm him, encourage him, speak life to him, honor him and esteem him. If your husband just mowed the lawn, find him and tell him, “You mow better than anyone I know.” You will turn a boring, mundane job into a lawn to conquer. When he cares for the children while you grocery shop, let him know he’s the greatest dad ever. When he comes home from work tired and feeling all used up, let him know he is one great provisionary. When you see him praying, reading his Bible or serving the Lord in some way, let him know how important that is to you and how secure you feel when he does those things.

Your man will respond to those words of affirmation before any word of criticism. He will feel better about himself and be drawn closer to you. He will want to spend time with you and maybe even take you on a special date. Your man is geared and created for compliments from his wife. You are the most important person to him on this earth and you have the power of building him up or tearing him down.

And, if in the end you still feel the need to change him, follow James 4: 1-2 – pray.