After two years of writing this blog, a definite pattern has emerged. I post often in the summer, but slow to a stop once school starts. Once stopped, I don’t resume until the NEXT summer.
My plan going forward is to post every Saturday at 6 pm. To keep this going, I am writing and scheduling posts now —when I have more time to write. My goal for this fall is to set a time-slot every week to write. This way, I’ll be more consistent with content.
I enjoy applying scripture to stories from my own life and others. Thanks for reading my blog, and I look forward to reading yours. God’s best to you. David
As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.
My mother grew up on a 160 acre cotton farm in the sandy hills of southwest Oklahoma. The nearest town, of any size, was 15 miles away. Such isolation made self-reliance a given.
Because the farm was a ‘far piece’ from anywhere, as my grandfather liked to say, grandmother often served as a country doctor. Cuts were wrapped in a clean rag soaked in turpentine, and the cure for almost any internal ailment was a substantial dose of castor oil.
Grandmother also had a curious way of determining a diagnosis prior to treatment. If you told her you weren’t feeling well (I did this only once) she would say, “Let me see your tongue.” This was the only time I was allowed to stick my tongue out at my maternal forebearer.
You see, Grandmother believed the color of one’s tongue revealed their general state of health. I tried to tell her about the green Jolly Rancher I’d been sucking on, but she STILL brought out the castor oil.
Jesus knows a thing or two about tongues as well.
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. (Matthew 15:18 NIV) For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 NIV)
The REAL me is reflected in my words.
Here’s how I picture it:
The tongue is like a thermometer, while the heart is like a thermostat–the former is effected by the latter.
This connection between words, actions and heart is as real as death and taxes.
I love how the psychedelic NYC street performer, Matthew Silver, talks about human beings. He’s quite the philosopher.
You’re already doing, you’re always doing what’s in your heart; you can’t get away from your heart.
Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
“Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.”
In the early 1990’s, social psychologist Roy Baumeister began exploring the negativity bias–the widely accepted belief that bad has a stronger impact on people than good. His team conducted extensive research, hoping to find situations where a single positive circumstance was actually stronger than a negative one.
They couldn’t find any.
In fact, Baumeister and his colleagues discovered that negative life events are typically three to five times stronger than positive ones. In other words, it takes four compliments to make up for one put down.
He lays it all out in his 2019 book, The Power of Bad.
Here’s my favorite take away: our brains are hard-wired to focus on bad, but the rational mind can take this in stride by finding the good.
Baumeister recommends a positivity ratio of 4 to 1 (4 good to 1 bad).
Finding the good isn’t a new idea; it’s as least as old as the 1913 novel, Pollyanna. In the book, a young orphan named Pollyanna uses the “glad game” to cope with the circumstances and sorrows of her life.
Here’s how to play:
Always look for something to be glad about in any situation.
This makes sense. Maybe it’s why gratitude journals are so popular, while keeping an ingratitude journal is a non-starter.
But let’s take it all the way back to the first century. The apostle Paul reminded the Christians in Rome that God uses EVERYTHING for the good of those who love and serve Him (Romans 8:28).
“Child, I got this. It’s ALL good.”
Finally, brothers, Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Many people considered famous today were once oddballs who refused to do their art the established way. The painter Jackson Pollock laid a humongous canvas on the floor of his barn and dripped paint on it. The critics thought he was nuts–until people started calling it art. More recently, there’s Lindsey Stirling, who was told by the judges on America’s Got Talent that her unusual combination of dancing and playing the violin was not marketable. After being voted off the show, she took her skills to YouTube to prove the naysayers wrong. Her channel now has 12.4 million subscribers!
Personal expression doesn’t have to be justified to hold value.
Come to think of it, Jesus was somewhat of an oddball during His days on earth. His ‘art’ was unappreciated by the religious experts, but people with the ears to hear believed (John 1:12). He now has over two billion followers!
If Christ completed the good works God prepared in advance for Him to do, you can too (John 14:12).
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
You are God’s workmanship, and God doesn’t make junk!
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”
My uncle Wayne lived alone on a hardscrabble Texas panhandle farm. It was a forsaken piece of packed dirt with more tumbleweeds than trees. His ‘home’ was a tottering old shack with a rusty roof, complete with natural skylights. The front pasture, lunar-like in its geography, was punctuated with scattered pieces of tired farm equipment.
But the ‘dead broke farm,’ as my uncle called it, was also a place of alluring beauty. On cloudless nights the stars were so thick it seemed you could reach out and touch them! And the crisp mornings were a great time to catch a dazzling sun rise from the precariously tilted front porch.
Finding myself so often immersed in God’s creation, it was overwhelming to consider where I fit into it all. There wasn’t always a Bible handy, so I stammered out a prayer–my paraphrase of Psalm 8:3
“When I see Your handiwork: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, it makes we wonder why You’d want to know me.”
Fast forward to the present.
These days, I am so ‘connected’ the only time I’m truly alone with God is when I’m asleep!
But all is not lost. Sometimes, early in the morning or late at night, I put my phone down, step outside, and listen.
“Holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3 NIV)
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17 NIV)
I got my first life coach when I was fourteen years old. Orville Lambert was a 70 something year old deacon at my church who willingly volunteered to teach a bunch of middle-schoolers! Every Sunday morning he stood before us, his soft grey eyes meeting our stuck-up attitudes with a smile.
No matter what we threw at him during the Sunday School lesson, Orville always landed on his feet. He had the remarkable ability to answer any question with a higher caliber query of his own. And the final outcome was always therapeutic.
Like Orville, God asks great questions. The first one in the Bible occurs in Genesis chapter three. Adam and Eve have just eaten the forbidden fruit and hide when they hear God walking in the garden, but He calls out to them:
“Where are you?”
Isn’t this an amazing statement? God could have said something like, “What have you done?”
Instead, with three words, He reveals the true depth of His love. God seeks connection with us AFTER we fall. He wants to be our friend, even if we don’t accept His friend request.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
God is on a search and rescue mission, not search and destroy.
The little boy in my music class pounded the tambourine on the floor. This was AFTER I’d demonstrated to everyone how to properly play our classroom instruments. Visibly frustrated, I confiscated the instrument and commented (in jest): “If you break this tambourine, I’m going to come to your house and break one of your toys.” The offender gazed at me blankly. However, another little boy nearby spoke up matter of factly,
“God doesn’t do bad things. He doesn’t break toys.”
Five Year Old Super Sage
OUCH! My young friend had me there. I sheepishly admitted to everyone that he was right and I was wrong.
Even a shallow dive into the Bible, reveals that God is fair in his dealings with people (Psalm 89:14). Furthermore, He is loving (1 John 4:8), patient (Exodus 34:6), and merciful to the max (Lamentations 3:22,23).
“And the point is?”
God is indeed good, but we are prone to blame Him for the evils that touch us personally. For example, I have a friend who lost faith in God after her father died during a routine medical procedure. She feels her dad’s life was taken; how could a loving God allow this?
Truly, this is a tragic situation, but is God REALLY to blame? Perhaps it makes more sense for my friend not to believe in doctors.
With due respect to those who grieve (that’s all of us at some point), aren’t good and bad simply two sides of the same coin?
“Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” (Job 2:10b)
In the quest of making life’s music, there is going to be a broken tambourine or two. Perhaps our goal should be to recognize (that for most of us) our lives contain more lemonade than lemons.