Archive for July, 2009

Choices

July 23, 2009

I have the exact same amount of time in my day as everyone else.  We all have twenty four hours a day.  So when we say that we don’t have time to do something what we really mean is that we are using that time to do something else.  That “something else” is more important to us. 

When we say that we don’t have time to pray, read the Bible, or attend church; we are saying that the other things that we are doing are more important than developing our relationship with God. 

That is the wrong choice. 

God should be first in our lives, and everything else should come after our relationship with Him. 

I will admit that it is the ordering of “everything else” that can truly be challenging.  I always have more on my to do list than I am able to accomplish.  Life is about choosing what gets done… and what doesn’t.  Those decisions are difficult, because everyone else has their opinions on what is most important.  People are happy to tell us what we should do.  It is also difficult to find the proper balance of work, rest, and recreation. 

May God help us to make good choices in our life.  The first choice is to make our relationship with God our top priority.  Everything else comes after that.

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Try-athlon

July 21, 2009

For over thirty-five years I have exercised regularly using a variety of forms of exercise.  I believe that it is important to maintaining health and managing stress. In addition it helps enhance quality of life issues.  I am able to participate in a wide variety of activities which I enjoy.  I am not so much a competitor, but a participant.

My latest venture has been simply a change in my training.  I have long incorporated running, swimming, and more recently, biking, in my exercise routine.  My town sponsors a triathlon, so I thought it might be fun to give it a try.  First, I thought that I would see how it would go if I combined the three activities in a single workout.  The first try was: swim for twenty minutes, bike for twenty minutes, and then run for two miles on the indoor (cushioned )  track.  That went so well that a few days later, I tried: thirty minutes swimming, thirty minutes biking, and thirty minutes running (a little over three miles ) outside .  I hadn’t run outside for years.

I was amazed at how good it felt!!  Swimming, no problem!  Biking, no problem!  Running….well, that was a switch!!!  The transition from biking to running was rather strange.  My legs felt all wobbly for about the first five minutes.  After that, I noticed that running outside involved hills!!!  It was difficult, but it felt really, really good.

This morning I was expecting to be stiff and sore with possibly pain in my knees,  back or hips. 

I feel great!!!

It turns out that I won’t be able to participate in the local triathlon this year because of a schedule conflict, but I think that I will incorporate this training into my regular routine. Next year I will be fifty and that sounds like a good age to participate in my first official triathlon. 

We’ll see what the next year brings.

The Shackling of American Business

July 16, 2009

A few years ago the newly Democratic congress made it a priority to substantially raise the minimum wage.  I wonder what happened to those businesses that were barely surviving?  When the government forced them to raise their employee compensation I imagine some of them had to shut down.  Those employees who were making minimum wage were then added to the lists of the unemployed, and the businesses were no longer paying taxes, since they could not afford to stay in business.  They were too small to survive the increase in overhead cost.

Now our Democratic president and congress are pushing through a bill that will require “those who can afford it” to provide health insurance for their employees.  Who is going to decide “who can afford it”?  Will it be the same people who have approved spending enormous sums of  money that we do not have ourselves?  I do not trust them to make the right decision.

I am confident that there will be some companies that will not survive this latest burden being placed upon them by the government. 

More people on the unemployment roles.

Less companies paying taxes.

I suspect that politicians forget what life is like in the “real” world.  Most families are two income families.   At least one, needs to find a job that offers benefits.  That means that the other partner could work a job that does not offer benefits, but that still adds to the family income.  There is a place for the job that does not offer benefits, but that still provides income. 

In the world that I live in, you accept whatever job you can get, and then you look for a better one, until you are satisfied with your situation.   

Employers pay as well as they can afford to pay, so that they retain their good employees. 

It’s called free enterprise and it has worked pretty well.

Our government is going to squeeze more companies out of business by placing upon them the shackles of mandatory higher wages and now, health care provision.

RV (resurrected vehicle)

July 14, 2009

My family likes to camp.  Since our first year of marriage my wife and I have gone camping together.  In the early years it was in a large canvas tent that I had bought at a garage sale for twenty dollars.  Then it was a brand new two room tent that we used for years.  The boys had cots, we had an air mattress.  We had some good times, endured a few storms, enjoyed the outdoors, and time together. 

A few years ago we purchased a hard side, pop up, trailer.  It was (again) a garage sale purchase that was within our budget.  It was good to be off the ground.  By this time, the boys had jobs and were not able to camp with us very often.  We went out occasionally as a couple, and sometimes as a family.  Camping is still good, but it is a fair amount of work to set up the trailer. 

This past spring a friend gave us an RV.  The idea of course, is that the set up will be much easier.  The problem is that it is a 1976 that has not been used for seven years. (We think.)  It has required some attention.  Someone had completely redone the inside, maybe ten years ago, so it actually looks very nice.  It was fully functional, we were told, when it was parked.  Sitting for years however, is not good for a vehicle.  This one needed to be brought back to life.

The first three times that I drove it, I had to call for help.  Twice I was towed to my destination.  Oh well.  I have some friends who are mechanically gifted and they have determined to help me resurrect this vehicle.  

This past weekend was our first outing with the RV, which I have fondly decided to call the resurrected vehicle. (As opposed to “The Pit” that someone recommended!)  It went well, although I came away with a list of things that need more work.  Oh… and it took a short rest on the side of the road on the way home.  Apparantly getting all the way to the campground and back was a bit much.  It did start again after a while and the remainder of the trip home was without incident.

This vehicle reminds me to not quit, to not give up hope.  Even if things seem to die, there can be renewed life.  I believe in the resurrection.  I believe in new life.  I believe in the power of God to help restore what once was lost, to bring back to life that which was dead.  This is even more true in the life of people, than in the life of an RV.

Spiritual Disciplines

July 9, 2009

It has been said that the church today neglects spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are an important part of personal, spiritual growth.  The basics are scripture, prayer, and fellowship.

Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments should be read regularly.  It is also good to do more in depth study in addition to casual reading.  The memorization of meaningful passages is also a helpful practice. 

Prayer is talking with God.  It includes worship, supplication, listening, meditation, and fasting.  Worship is giving praise and thanks to God.  Supplication is bringing our requests for assistance or intervention to God.  Listening is being quiet before God and being open to the voice of His Spirit.  Meditation is quieting our minds and bodies and focusing on the an aspect of God’s Word or character.  Fasting is depriving ourselves of some material substance for a time to focus our attention on the spiritual.

Fellowship is gathering together with other believers.  It should be both formally, at church services and events; and informally, in a variety of ways and places.  It may be for worship, instruction, study,  prayer or simply recreation.  Christians are meant to be in community, not in isolation. 

These spiritual disciplines are necessary for spiritual health and should not be neglected.

Buddy Check!

July 7, 2009

There was a tragedy in our area recently.  A little girl drowned while on a school outing to a local swimming pool.  There were more than enough lifeguards.  There was a system that was in place and being utilized, yet this little girl still died.  One of the lifeguards at the deep end of the pool went into the water to retrieve what he thought was a t-shirt, and brought up, not a shirt, but a little girl.  How did it happen?  Why was she in the deep end?  Why did no one see her struggle? 

We will never know.  What we do know is that everyone involved feels terribly about what happened to this little girl.

When I was young my family would send me off to camp every summer for a week or two.  Those camps were all located on lakes and there was always swim time.   Swimming in a lake is different than a pool because the water is not so clear.  Once you are under water, you can’t be seen easily, if at all.  The camps that I went to all used the “buddy system”.  In the buddy system, everyone has a partner.  You are supposed to stay with your partner at all times.  Periodically, there is a “buddy check” where you grab the hand of your buddy and raise it in the air.  It is an effective system of watching out for each other.  If the little girl who drowned, had a buddy, this tragedy might not have happened.

This idea can be carried into the Christian life, and specifically, church life.  If all people in a church had at least one “buddy” who was watching out for them, perhaps fewer people would be lost to discouragement and doubt. 

We are not meant to be alone.  We are a part of a community of faith, the family of God.  We need to look out for each other.

A little consideration please…

July 2, 2009

While I was at summer church camp this year as a counselor there were a couple of things that I did, that were different from previous years.

I waited in line with the campers for meals.

In previous years the counselors helped serve the food.  We were told to help serve, then cut in line; or to cut in line, and then help serve.  Either way the camp director did not want us to wait in line.  He wanted us out and about.  This year the camp hired people to serve the meals, and there was no direction given about cutting in line, so I decided to wait in line with the campers.

The first meal had an hour wait.

I couldn’t believe it.  Part of the problem was that there were a LOT of people cutting in line up near the front.  It was quite a problem because the people who were willing to wait in line patiently (or impatiently!) had to wait longer because of the people who walked in and joined their friends towards the front of the line. 

How inconsiderate!!!

The second thing that was different this year is that I decided to help maintain the miniature golf course.  The first night, after the service, I was walking around outside and noticed that there were a lot of rocks cluttering the greens.  It made the course unplayable.  I decided to start clearing off the rocks, one green at a time.  As I was doing this, a few other people joined me, and in about an hour, the course was clear and able to be played again. 

The part that galled me was that this process had to be repeated several times a day.  I would check on the course from time to time throughout the day and there were always rocks on the course.  (One time I actually caught two boys as they tossed rocks, one by one,  onto a green.  I enlisted their help with the cleanup that time!) 

How inconsiderate!!!

I realize that cutting in line and tossing rocks onto putting greens are small things, but I believe that they are symptomatic of a larger problem.  There is a lack of consideration of how our actions affect other people.  A person doesn’t want to wait in line, so they cut.  Never mind that it means that other people have to wait longer.  Someone is bored, so they toss rocks onto a green.  Never mind that the green becomes quickly unplayable unless someone cleans off the rocks. 

The people who cut in line, and the people tossing rocks were being selfish and inconsiderate.  I am sure that they thought, that what they were doing was no big deal, (and in the scope of things it really wasn’t)  but they were not the ones, being made to wait longer, or the ones doing the cleanup work.

This world would be a better place if we simply acted with a little consideration of how our actions impact others.