Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Such As I Have, I Give Unto Thee

One thing about working at a radio station, you always have a prize closet you can pull things out of.  In all my years in radio, there’s been a never-ending supply of things to give away:  CD’s, books, tickets to concerts, shows, theme parks, special events…there’s just always something to give away.

I love it when you give something away that someone truly appreciates.  A few weeks ago we gave away tickets for a concert at Wild Adventures Theme Park.  A young woman showed up in the front lobby to pick up her tickets, and I’m told she started crying.  She was so blessed to get those free tickets, tickets that she couldn’t afford on her own.

Often when I give away something I’ll say this, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, I give unto thee.”

Think of that phrase, “Such as I have.”  For you, what falls into that category?  What have you been blessed with? 

Now how can you give it away?  “Such as I have, I give unto thee.”

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Maybe you’re like me.  I’ve always been in that “silver and gold have I none” category.  But we are all in the “such as I have” category.  We all have something to give.

I got an e-mail yesterday from a woman who truly inspired me.  She is like most of us, working down here in the trenches of the middle class.  No silver or gold, so what does she have to give?

She told me how the other day she spent a couple of hours praying for people.  Then she said she felt like God gave her specific words of encouragement for certain people.  She went so far as to actually write down those encouraging words on cards, and delivered them. 

What a neat thing to give!  First of all, to spend all that time in prayer.  Then to actually step out on faith, write it down and deliver it - all in order to give some encouragement.  I love that story!

I remember one day someone went out of their way to give me a little booklet, five dollars worth of McDonald’s gift certificates.  Such a tiny gift, really.  But it meant a lot that they even thought of me.  What a beautiful gift!

A while back we received a letter from a relative, with a nice check in it.  Apparently he had been given some money, and he decided to pass it on to others.  He could have kept it, or saved it, or invested it, or bought some new clothes or a new TV or whatever.  But instead, he took what he had received, and gave it away! 

I have always loved photography.  Over the years I have taken pictures at various weddings and events, but I have never charged a dime.  For me, an interest and ability to take pictures falls in the category of “such as I have.”  It’s not my profession.  It’s just something I can do, so I give it away. 

I remember as a child my mom baking cookies for old folks and giving them away.  When my daughters were small, my mom used her sewing abilities to take fancy prom dresses from thrift stores, and somehow shrink them down into little frilly dress-up play clothes for my girls.  She took what she had, her sewing skill, and gave it away.

I say all this to inspire you today.  Look around.  What have you been blessed with?  Money?  Time?  Talent?  Well such as you have, give it away!

Like Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Color of Thanksgiving

Thoughts are the colors that paint our day.

The things we dwell on – these become the dominate colors.

If we think dark thoughts, we end up with a dark day.

If we think bright thoughts, we end up with a bright day.

Imagine Michelangelo, standing there with a brush in one hand and a color palette in the other.  What colors will end up on the canvas?  Only the colors that are on the palette.

The canvas is your day.  Each day is like a blank canvas, and you can paint it any way you choose.  And the colors you use are your thoughts. 

Here is one primary color that must always be on our thought palettes:  thankfulness.

This is Thanksgiving week, so I want to point out to you the incredible power of being thankful.

Colossians 2:7 says we should be “overflowing with thankfulness.”

It’s hard to have a bad day when you are overflowing with thankfulness.

It’s hard to be negative when you are thankful. 

It’s hard to be proud when you are thankful. 

Being thankful is a great way to control your tongue, because you know what?  It’s hard to say negative things when you are overflowing with thankfulness.

It’s hard to feel lonely when you are thankful, because being thankful is a way of recognizing, “Hey, I’m not in this alone.” 

It’s hard to feel covetous or jealous when you are thankful, because instead of looking at what other people have and feeling dissatisfied, being thankful means looking at what you have and feeling grateful.

Listen, thankfulness inoculates us from all kinds of ills.

We talk a lot about depression in America.  Well it’s hard to be depressed and thankful at the same time.

When your palette is overflowing with the color of thankfulness, it doesn’t leave room for a host of more negative colors.

You might say, “Well you don’t understand, Doug.  This will be my first Thanksgiving without a special loved one.” 

Well what color will you put on your palette?  Dark, ugly colors?  Does that honor them in any way?  Is that what they would want?  Would they say, “Yes, please have a terrible holiday in memory of me”? 

If our palette is to overflow with thankfulness, then maybe instead of focusing on our loss, it’s time to be thankful for the precious time we had with them.

Thankfulness brightens the most mournful day. 

“Well, Doug, I’m more of a realist.  And realistically, there is just not much to be thankful for.”

Au contraire!  We are to be overflowing with thankfulness!   That doesn’t mean we ignore problems or stick our head in the sand.  Yes, we must still work to solve problems.  But it’s so much easier with a healthy dose of thanksgiving.

Sure, we can walk around with a monkey on our back all day.  We can let our thoughts drag us down into a pit. 

But honestly, it all comes down to what we choose to dwell on. 

So imagine your thoughts as a color palette.  It’s our thoughts that will color our day.  And if we want a brighter day, we need to think brighter thoughts.

And one very versatile color, good for brightening any canvas, is that beautiful color of thanksgiving!

(as heard on Wave 94.1 FM)


Friday, November 02, 2007

When You Get Married, Stop Looking

People are waiting longer to get married these days.  Why?  There are many reasons, but one reason I read about was that some people are waiting to get married because they want to make sure they get the very best person they can get.

Now on the surface that sounds fine.  “Marry the best person you can get.”  Compare that to “I married the first loser that came along.” 

The problem with this thinking is, what happens after you are married? 

Recently I read a marriage book with a Q&A section at the end.  One young man asked, “What if I get married, and then someone better comes along?”

The answer was simple yet profound:  “When you get married, stop looking.”

Marriage is not like buying a car – you get a sharp one this year, but then trade it in for a new model in a few years.  Once you are married, it’s quite simple.  The shopping ends.  If you are not ready to stop shopping, don’t get married.

Marriage is a big commitment.  You are making vows.  Vows!  Those are promises you swear to die before you break.  You NEVER break your vows. 

“But shouldn’t I make myself happy?”

That’s a stupid, selfish thing to say, “…make myself happy…”  If making yourself happy means breaking your vows, absolutely not.  Happiness is not the god that we Americans make it out to be. 

God is God, and happiness is not.  And besides, happiness doesn’t come from chasing happiness.  Happiness is a byproduct of following God, of living honorable lives, of keeping your vows, of being loyal to your spouse.

Would you like a beautiful flower garden, year after year?  Then you need to tend to it, year after year.  You want a beautiful marriage over the years?  Then tend to it, and don’t be daydreaming about someone else’s flowers.

I had lunch with a couple of men yesterday, and the topic of marriage came up.  One of them has been married for many years, and is now in that “empty nest” stage, where all the kids have moved out.  He said they were basically reinventing their marriage to adjust to a life where children were no longer the focus. 

Some people at this stage start shopping for a new romance.  That is wrong and not in anyone’s best interest.  Remember, happiness is not found by chasing happiness.  Happiness is a byproduct of following God, and in this case, being true to your spouse. 

Is it time to reinvent your marriage?  Then do it! 

I got an e-mail yesterday from a man who told me that he and his wife have been married for several years, but that in the last few months things had become strained.  They decided to go on a marriage retreat, and, quote, “I’m not exaggerating when I say we received some of the most important, if unexpected, breakthroughs we’ve ever experienced in our marriage.”  He concludes, “Isn’t it amazing that when you finally choose to listen to God’s leading, He blesses your socks off?  Go figure.” 

See?  He said God blessed their socks off!  And He’ll do the same for you and your marriage.  Just take time to focus on Him and on each other, and amazing things will happen!

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)