Ignited Passion

passion

A story is told about English actor William Charles Macready. He was once asked a question by a well-known preacher, who was clearly irritated. “Could you please explain to me something that I just don’t understand?” “Well”, said Macready, “What is it? I don’t know that I can explain anything to a preacher. It seems to me that you should have the answers for my questions. However, go ahead, I’ll do my best.”

The preacher, with frustrated impatience said, “Can you tell me what is the reason for the great success you are having? What is the difference between you and me? You appear before great crowds of people and present them with fiction. They come, night after night and buy expensive tickets no matter where you are preforming. I preaching the eternal gospel. I speak the unchangeable, eternal truths of God. These can transform the lives of all who believe, but I am hardly getting anyone at all to come out. Why is that, sir?”

Macready thought for a moment and then answer with an honest integrity that surprised everyone. He cut right to the heart of the matter and said, “This, sir, is quite simple. I most certainly can tell you the difference between you and me. It’s the reason I get the crowds and your get the leftovers. I believe in what I am called to do and I present my fiction with passion, so the people respond as though it were truth. You, on the other hand, present your truth without passion, which makes people wonder what you believe, and so they respond as though it were fiction.”

The facts are undeniable. How someone communicates can be more important than what they communicate. Every speaker or writer knows they must capture the thoughts, the emotions and the imagination of their audience. If they fail to do so, the message is lost in the messenger no matter how true it may be. Passion is a key. It is the reality that unlocks the heart and set the soul and imagination on fire. Without it we have not earned the right to be heard. Passion is what grabs the attention so both the message and messenger are embraced. Anyone who communicates without passion, will simply become part of the background noise in a world that is clamoring for our attention.

Actor Robin Williams killed himself just a few months ago. It was a shock to all of us since he was such a gifted comedian. His talent brought laughter to so many over the last several decades. However, one interview I saw him do a while back left me wondering. He said he loved to act because the truth was that he “became” that person in the script. During a movie shoot he had a focus and life made sense. However, once the filming was over, and he walked off the movie set, he lost his identity and he did not know who he was. In other words, he had a great passion for acting, but he had none for what really mattered, that which gave his life meaning.

All the money, awards and worldwide recognition he had accumulated before men, left him empty and directionless. In the end it left him hopeless and without so much as a reason to live. This begs me to ask the sobering question, “What was Robin Williams really meant to do with that passion?” I ask this because passion is designed to propel us into what we were created for. The success it brings leaves us fulfilled and satisfied. However, if our passion is redirected, and it sends us into other things, the success it brings is not just ungratifying, it will leave our life hollow and devoid of meaning.

When asked about his success, Methodist preacher John Wesley made the now famous statement, “I set myself on fire and the people come to watch me burn”. That statement says it perfectly! You must be on fire and really given over to “your” truth, in order to ignite others with it. When that spark of passion is flashing from your eyes, people know it. That clearly defined personal truth becomes the gyroscopic center of your life. Once that’s been discovered, everything that comes out of you will heat up the atmosphere until the flash point of others passions are reached and it sets them aflame.

The thing that must first be settled within is this; “What do I really believe?” In other words, what in my life am I willing to give myself to with the kind of passion that can set others on fire? What do I believe with such vehemence that my life is empty without it? Once you know the answer to that question, you have found the path to your life’s calling. This truth is so simple. Without it you may have success, but life will have no meaning. With it, you will be successful because there will be meaning in everything you do. My hope for you in 2015 is that you will unleash your passion. You will find your “truth” and use it to build and enjoy the life God intended you to have!

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The Undiscovered Truth Of Change

wright brothers 2 I was born in 1954 and grew up in the post WW2 1950’s, and pre Vietnam 1960’s. It was a very unique time in American history when our culture was changing in many ways for the better. The American dream of owning a home and having a secure life-long job, with a good retirement, was the norm. It was a season of great growth and prosperity where farms and small town America was flourishing, and there was boundless hope for the future. There was a pervasive attitude of “we can do anything” and that was reflected in every community and city across the nation. We felt secure, we had roots and family history in specific locations, and life just made sense.

Then Russia catapulted us into space by launching “Sputnick”, and this sent a shock wave into the world that cut crossed every cultural and scientific community. In a moment everyone knew that we were no longer bound to just this planet. There were other worlds to be explored out there among the stars, and it was our right and destiny to do so. I remember my father taking me out into our backyard late one night. He pointed high above us, and there it was, a tiny white dot moving slowly across the sea of stars. A Russian-made spacecraft circled the earth, and I was witnessing space history. It was just Amazing!

This event took our national imagination to a whole new level, and president Kennedy gave us a whole new vision to match it. He dedicated our national resources to landing a man on the moon before 1970, and the “Space Race” was on. Out of that vision came a transformation of our thinking, and our society, that no one could have dreamed. The development of the aerospace industry had tremendous collateral benefits, and these trickled down into every part of our society.

The most brilliant minds of the day gathered together and tackled the problems of leaving this earth. Such things as space sickness, muscle atrophy and loss of bone density in weightlessness had to be addressed. The need for micro-environmental space suits and things like freeze dried food, computer controls and circuit boards were all created to meet the needs of that which had never existed before. The technology that was birthed to accomplish this mission, inadvertently did something else, it transformed our world. Yet, did anyone ever stop to think where all of this began?

It started with two brothers who owned a bicycle shop.The Wright brothers were convinced that man was meant to fly. Leonardo Da Vinci  believed it was possible, and so did Orville and Wilber. Thus from 1899 to 1903 they put together a series of mechanical systems to see it happen. They decided to mount the new gas engine, bicycle wheels and cloth covered wings to a wooden frame. Then they designed a wooden propeller, an idea they modified from a boat propeller, to pull it through the air.

Slowly, their ideas came together, and the new machine began to take shape. In November 1903, it was shipped to Kitty Hawk for final assembly at the location of their test site. On December 17th, Orville was at the controls of their machine as it rose from the wooden track and covered 120 feet in about 12 seconds. Several other flights were made that same day until a gust of wind upset the fragile craft and it was damaged. As a result, very little press was given to their efforts, and it was nearly forgotten.

The Wright brothers made or attempted a total of 105 flights during 1903. The longest of these lasted just over 5 minutes and they made more than three complete circles of the field in the air. It was not until 1906, nearly three years after the first Kitty Hawk flights, that any important articles began to appear in the newspapers telling of their amazing achievements. That well deserved international fame happened because of one man.

In 1905 Wilbur and Orville offered their invention to the United States government, but the response they received was not very warm. They wrote to their congressmen, describing the flights thus far, and asked whether the government might be interested in purchasing flying machines from them, or even acquiring the information they had accumulated for national defense. Their letter was sent to the War Department, which didn’t believe their fantastic story of men flying like birds, and it was thrown in the trash. Numerous times they wrote to the U.S. government, and their letters were continually ignored, or openly mocked.

Then, President Theodore Roosevelt was informed of the Wright brother’s persistence and he set things in motion to change the governmental indifference. His administration took steps to ask the Wright brothers to write a proposal for supplying just one of their machines for the government to consider. This caused quite a stir among the prominent political and scientific people of the day, but Roosevelt stuck to his guns. A contract was finally signed and the Wright brothers were finally able to build and deliver their new machine.

Roosevelt’s military background, his insight, and his ability to see the advantage that such a machine might have for this nation, made all the difference. Thus, the first demonstration flight, of the first military airplane in history, took place at Fort Myers, Virginia. On the warm day of September 5th, 1908, Orville Wright took his flying machine into the air. To the shock, amazement and delight of everyone, he did indeed fly like a bird.

When it was over, Orville had gone about 25 feet off the ground for just over one minute, and landed safely, to the applause and admiration of all who were present. President Roosevelt smiled, nodded his head, and history was made. In that moment the United States entered the modern age of warfare. It happened simply because first-hand experience with new technology, birthed from the imagination of two bicycle builders, overturned 10,000 years of human history. Contrary to popular belief, man could fly. That undiscovered truth, once uncovered by technology, changed everything!

I wonder what undiscovered truths are yet to be uncovered. What technology is now in it’s infancy that holds the potential to change the world, and create untold billions of dollars of personal wealth? Are there ideas floating around in your head that could bring such a change? Do you have a dream to make a difference that has yet to be fully birthed? If so, then your day is about to come!

I believe 2015 will be the year of uncovered potential. I see it as the beginning of a new season where ideas that have been hidden will come to light, and dreams that have been dormant will come to life. As I prepare to move into this new year, l do so with renewed expectancy. I have rekindled a genuine anticipation for what is about to come. My hope is that you will also move beyond your present limits, and once again be able to look with new eyes into the amazing potential of this new year. Who knows, this could be your year to fly!

Recovering The Truth

truth

As our nation was being built, centers of learning were quickly set up as a priority. These were designed to build men who would secure our foundation on the truth, and sink their roots deep into the bedrock of what we were to be established upon. The quote that follows comes from the “Rules And Precepts” of one of our nation’s primary foundational centers of higher learning. It clearly identifies what that bedrock was to be, and how men were to pin their lives and future upon it.

Please make note that this is a direct quote from those rules. It is not a rewritten interpretation of our nations history by a liberal, atheistic textbook writer. This is part of what was actually set forth as established beliefs when this institution was first set up. Every student who applied had to agree with, and demonstrate the daily practice of this, and several other similar rules. If they were to enter, remain at and successfully complete their studies, there was no other option. As you read this quote, be sure to keep something in mind. This institution was publically established to educate and raise up godly men, and then release them to their place in society.

“Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is to know God, and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord who only gives wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret, to seek it of him, (Proverbs 2:3)”

With power and absolute clarity these words point to Who the source of life and liberty was for America. There can be no doubt that the authors knew with certainty what would make our nation strong, and what would give it’s people the wisdom they needed to live in peace and prosperity. One thing is abundantly clear, as we have moved further away from the above, so our nation has grown darker and more confused in it’s ideology, practices, laws and vision.

In todays point of view, we would demand to know what radical college could have possibly promoted such a narrow, politically incorrect vision for all it’s students. We would want to investigate and prosecute a far-right, fanatical group like this, that would believe such unhealthy, intolerant teachings. Dateline, MSNBC and 20/20 would no doubt, have a field day “exposing” this arrogant, religious cult to the world. So who wrote this, believed  it and supported it 100% ? None other than Harvard University!

This clear commitment to Christianity and it’s principles, is not just historically embedded in the America of the 1600’s, it is firmly established in our modern culture as well. What proof of this do I offer, you may ask. Well, consider what follows. It is the closing paragraph of a very moving speech that can be found in our national archives. These powerful words were to be delivered at an afternoon meeting in Dallas, Texas on the day of November 22, 1963.

“We in this country, in this generation are by destiny rather than choice, the watchmen on the walls of the worlds freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength, with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time, and for all time, the ancient (biblical) vision of “…peace on earth, good will toward men…”. That must always be our goal. For as was written long ago (in the Bible) “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain”. (Psalms 127:1)

Who was to deliver these Scriptural nuggets? Perhaps it was Billy Graham, Oral Roberts or some other high profile religious leader of the day. No, it was our own president, John F. Kennedy! However, he never got to deliver these stirring words of biblical significance. On his way to do so, while sitting next to his wife in an open convertible, JFK was assassinated by a snipers bullet. These words of truth and wisdom, reflected not just the heritage of our nation, but Kennedy’s own beliefs as well. They were on his mind when he died in his wife’s blood stained arms.

To deny our Christian foundation, to rewrite our history from an atheistic worldview, and to selectively eliminate any Biblical reference made by those who made this nation great, is a national disgrace. Even more disturbing than such hypocrisy, is the fact that the denial does not change the truth of our history, yet …… it will most certainly change us! If we continue to embrace and believe those who refute and ignore the very things that made us a free and just nation, we have sealed our own demise.

Kennedy trusted in what God said, that the Lord must build the city or those who guard it will do so in vain. He died believing this profound biblical truth, yet some think we can live without it. Let me encourage everyone who reads this blog to remember where we came from, think for yourself, and consider what built this nation. In 1643 Harvard had it right, and I believe we can all get it right again. There is hope for America, and it lies where it always has, in the Bible and God who gave it.

When I debate with those who reject the Bible and it’s principles, I am amazed to discover that 99% of these people have never read it. The other 1% only know selective portions, in an attempt to undergird their own belief system. What this means is you cannot have an intelligent, truthful discussion with those who are illiterate when it comes to Biblical content. As we approach a new year, why not make 2015 your year to read the Bible, and then let’s talk. Rediscover what our Founders knew and trusted in. Who knows, in the process we may all recover  the truth , and fully be restored to what His vision has always been for America, “One Nation Under God”.

Facing The Issues

bamboo  The picture above is of a Moso Bamboo grove. The Oscar winning movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was filmed in a giant Moso grove just like this one, in Anji, Zhejian Provence, China. What you are looking at is a 65 foot tall cane that emerged just 6 months earlier and grew at a rate of 2.5 feet per week. This plant can grow to over 75 feet tall, and be more than 7 inches in diameter at full maturity, which takes only about a year. Moso is the largest and fastest growing Bamboo on earth. It grows so fast that a grove of it actually makes a hissing/popping noise as it pushes heavenward, and for those who are patient, it’s growth can actually be seen with the naked eye.

This Bamboo is a wonderful building material and it is used in all kinds of construction throughout China and around the world. For this reason scientists are studying it’s amazing growth properties. They want to unlock how it does what it does without major flaws in the integrity of the wood. Moso also had a more sinister use in days gone by. Enemies of the Emperor who may be withholding vital information, would be strapped down above the growing plants. The results were not good if the individual refused to divulge what they knew, as the bamboo will push right through any obstacle in the way.

As I read the above information a question crossed my mind. How is it that one plant can have such potential for good, but also have an equally destructive potential for evil? Then I considered my experience with people as a minister over the years. I have watched some do the most benevolent things one day, only to turn around and do what is selfish, self-serving and in some cases, downright evil, the next. I have heard people praising someone to the sky and then was shocked as acrid, poisonous comments were leveled at someone else out of the very same mouth.

As I pondered this, I realized that the “Jeckle and Hyde” nature, which so often manifests in people, is only a reflection of what lies hidden within the heart. We are all made the same and we have no choice but to speak from what is living within us. If we are at peace then we know who we are, and we know what we are called to do. This allows us to rejoice in the victories of some, and forgive the thoughtlessness and brutality of others. However, if we are wounded, confused, fearful or uncertain about what the future holds, the picture we see will be a bit darker, and that reality will impact everything we say and do.

This brings us to an important life key that many people miss. That is, the willingness to recognize and embrace the truth of what is going on within us starts a process that can set us free. In that place of freedom we are able to love others for who they are, no matter what they do. Here we can walk with confidence into our life’s mission without being in competition, or unsettled by what others may have done. That’s because we have come to the place of knowing who we are. This is what psychologists call having a life of “congruency”, and it’s a very healthy place to be.

Is your life congruent? Do you know who you are, and are you good with that? If you are wounded, if you are confused or if you are secretly in competition with others, then you have not yet found the place of congruent peace. As we get ready to wrap up another year, why not do so by evaluating where you have been, and where you may be going. If you don’t like what you see, let me encourage you to look within and face those unfaced issues. Bring them into the light and get hold of that which has gotten hold of you.

This will be a process, but in the end, it will be well worth the time and effort invested. Who you really are is waiting to come out. Let 2015 be the year that unlocks your Moso Bamboo potential. The question you must ask  right now is quite simple; “What potential do I want to unlock?”  Will you benefit from the amazing growth that is possible, or will you find the skeletons of those who were tied down and pierced through by the unresolved issues in your life?The decision is totally up to you, and my desire is that you will take the time as this year draws to an end to choose well. 2015 has the potential to be your best year ever. My hope is that you will do as Jean Luc Picard would say … “Make It So”!

In My Father’s Foot Steps

father and son bootsMy father lived the life of a proud, kind and gentle outdoorsman. His 5 foot 8 inch frame was slight in build, but sinuous and tough from 50 years of being an Adirondack guide. He was born in 1905 on our family homestead which is now located at the end of Emmons Lane in Bloomingdale, NY. His great, great grandfather, Lt. Benjamin Emmons had been given this land as payment for fighting as a Vermont volunteer during the Revolutionary War. Generations of the Emmons family had lived and died on that land but it has now passed out of our family and into the hands of others.

Dad spent most of his life, like his father, grandfather and great grandfather running the family farm or walking in the deep woods of the Adirondacks. The family values of past generations had been solidly grounded in him and I respected him in many different ways because of it. I especially loved him for how he instilled into me his joy of family life and his love of the valleys, streams and forests of the Adirondack Mountains. His pleasure and passion for his wife and children, and the pine scented vistas of our region, became a part of me at a very early age, and they are still living within me and my sons today.

At age 65 dad could out-walk me on our deer hunting trips around Bear Pond in Upper St. Regis, or during fishing excursions on hidden trout streams around Grass Pond, Deer River Flow and Winnebago Brook. His strength, stamina and personal knowledge of the woods were legendary and he never broke stride or got us lost, no matter where we went. He lived his entire life in the shadow of those ancient peaks, except for two seasons in the city. One was for a few years in Montreal, Quebec with his best friend Leo Furlong. Both were adventurous young men at the ripe old age of 20 and they went there to become professional barbers. The other was in New York City during the years that surrounded World War II. In that place, dad thought to make his fortune as a diamond toolmaker and jeweler. However, the real jewel he found while working there was my mother, Jennie Maria Rossi.

As a teenager I grew up in the rebellion of the mid 1960’s and early 1970’s. My parent’s values, vision and strengths were of little interest to me. They were from the older generation, and I was not. Like so many of the youth at that time, I decided to go my own way and threw off all my parents wanted to instill in me. It was clear to everyone that my dad’s independent spirit had found a willing home within me, and I began to live life as I saw fit. During those years I was never angry or aggressive towards them, I simply drifted my own way and departed from the values they had built our family on.

Even my salvation, when it finally came, was another departure from what my father hoped I would be. He really desired me to be a guide, or perhaps work for the New York State Conservation Department, but I felt the call of God. I didn’t know it at the time, but after dad got saved he told me that was actually the call on the Emmons family for many generations. Our ancestors, including my dad’s mother, father, many aunts and uncles, and all his sisters, had known the Lord. Some had been powerful revival preachers in the early Methodist Church. Dad, however, avoided organized religion altogether because of a bad experience as a youth. As he told me, “I’ve lived a good life Bill but I’m not a pious man. Church is for your mother and I go when I have to”. As a result, dad found his peace with God away from people during his frequent walks in the quiet, moist silence of the Adirondack Mountains.

During my rebellious years Dad and I grew distant, and an unspoken valley developed between us. We most certainly loved each other, but I can still remember the sadness I saw in his eyes as I lived a lifestyle he did not approve of. I was his only son and the youngest of three children born to them after ten years of marriage. He was fifty when I was born so his desire to impart his heart, family history and personal experiences was strong. I, however, was not ready or willing to listen. In all this dad never criticized, belittled or shamed me for my behavior. He simply continued to live his life with honesty, personal conviction and a deep love of family.

Above all else his devotion to my mother stood out as the hallmark of who he really was, and the kind of man he hoped I would become. I am certain that he knew in time I would come to learn, understand and follow the example he had set before me. In one afternoon, as he was nearing death from pancreatic and liver cancer, he taught me a lesson about love, strength and the character of manhood that forever changed the course of my life. This one event brought to bear all the years he had invested, and it thrust upon me the truth he had wanted to impart from the day I was born.

The day was November 27th, 1979. It was my parent’s 38th wedding anniversary and I had stopped to see them on the occasion. My father was now in bed, growing weaker and more jaundiced as the cancer did it’s deadly work. No matter what broth my mother lovingly made for him, dad was unable to keep it down. We all knew he was not expected to live much longer, and the shots of morphine I administered to him when the pain grew unbearable, did not help matters at all. We were living out a drama that would soon conclude in a way none of us wanted to embrace.

On this day I arrived at my parent’s home to find that dad had sent my mother on an errand just to get her out of the house. He called me to his bedside and said there would be no morphine today. He then asked me to get his suit out of the closet and I placed it on the bed, along with his white shirt, matching socks and tie. Next he instructed me to go and get him a flower, one red rose, and be back before my mother returned from her errands. When I returned I found my father fully dressed and sitting somewhat impatiently on the end of the bed. He was proudly wearing the suit he had been married in all those years ago.

I handed him his flower just as my mother arrived on the front porch. She was looking for her key and trying to quietly get the door open without disturb my father. From somewhere deep inside, the overwhelming power of love and the iron strength of manhood rose up within my dad. He stood with firm resolve and walked quickly across the living room floor. A wry smile melted across his face and a twinkle sparked in his bright blue eyes as he waited with his hand on the doorknob. Just as my mother reached to turn the key, he winked at me, gave that mischievous Emmons look, and pulled the door open.

My mother looked up in total shock, and then an expression of pure love and joy swept over her face. To her amazement she saw the only man she had ever loved, standing in his best suit with a cane in one hand and a rose in the other. They embraced and kissed, as I had seen them do countless times in the past, and then my father said, “Did you think I would forget? We are going on one last date sweetheart”.

Quickly my mother fixed her hair, touched up her makeup and changed her dress. In a few minutes they headed out the back door and I watched the two of them through the kitchen window walk arm-in-arm across the lawn. My sister lived next door, and at my father’s request, she had cooked dinner for them on this very special occasion. I could see them pause and look up as a flock of geese passed high overhead. I saw them talking and looking around the land they had lived on and improved, all their married lives.

I saw my father point with his cane to direct my mother’s attention to Whiteface Mountain, Slide Mountain and Signal Hill, where our family homestead had been. Above all this was the deep, rich love they had for each other as they paused to embrace in this last, lingering twilight of life. In that moment time stopped and they were lovers, companions, friends and travelers together in a life made rich and wonderful through commitment, trust, honor and endless affection.

During the meal my father could not eat, but he sipped a cup of tea and looked with wondering love at all of us, and his bride of 38 years. I don’t know what was going through his mind, but I am sure he was reviewing the many blessings he had experienced with this woman he so deeply loved. What he and my mother did do was pour out the treasure of their lives to us during that meal. They shared with us the rich tapestry of the life they had woven together that had built our family. As I watched them that evening, I realized they were summing up for us an entire lifetime of living, and loving, and we had been the beneficiaries of this great, life-long blessing.

When the meal concluded we hugged and it was clear that dad was ready to go home. He took my mother by the arm and escorted her back across the yard. On the way they paused once more in the crisp fall night to look up at the stars, and then to look at each other. No words were spoken as their eyes met, but in that shared silence, volumes were said. I watched my father lift his hand and gently touch my mothers face to wipe away a tear. He then held her quietly as they took one last look together around this earthly realm. Finally they turned, helped each other back inside our family home. and locked the door.

In the warm darkness of that November kitchen, my father held my mother in one last, strong, sweet embrace. He kissed her tenderly, gently, passionately for the very final time. In the silence his baritone voice drifted out to where I was sitting, and I heard him speak these words of deep, abiding love. They filled the air like a rich perfume and they hang there still in my mind. “I love you Sweetheart. We have had a wonderful life together … haven’t we? Happy anniversary my dear.” There was another moment of silence while they held each other in a tender embrace…… and then it was over.

My father had pushed aside unimaginable pain all day, without complaint, and reserved every last bit of inner strength for this very special occasion. Now his energy and life were fully spent. He literally had laid his life down for the only woman he had ever loved. They headed for bed and he was so exhausted he could no longer even undress himself. As he sat on the bed my mother undressed him and helped him put his nightshirt on, and then lovingly placed his head on the pillow. Next she hung up his suit, and as mom got herself ready for bed, dad motioned to me that it was time for his shot of morphine. In a few moments mom was beside him and soon they both drifted off to sleep.

Whatever was spoken between them as they laid in that warm, sweet darkness together, I do not know. These words are held only in my mother’s heart and in the mind of God. No doubt, they were heady with the rich aroma of a life well lived, and a love unbroken for 38 years. That life and love was now about to come full circle and it would soon go back to God who had given it so many years before.

Fifteen days later my father wore his wedding suit again. This time however, my mother would not be taking it off him. In the twilight I watched my parents as lovers once more. My mother slowly bent over her only love… and kissed him tenderly, gently, longingly,…. one last time. As she did, a sob rose up in my throat, and tears streamed down my face when I heard her whisper in his ear, “I love you Jim. Good bye Sweetheart”.

Even though he did not respond, it was clear to me that this man had known what it was to love, and really be loved. It was then that I realized I would follow in his footsteps. More than that, I committed my heart to becoming the kind of man my sons would want to follow. I knew I could be a real man, the kind who would love someone and be loved with that same fierce devotion. That is when it hit me  … and I knew my father had to be smiling. His hope had finally come to pass and I had indeed become my father’s son!

What about you? Can you honestly say that your children will be blessed if they follow where you have been or are now going? If not, then my thought for you today is simple.  Perhaps it time to look at where you are walking..because others are most certainly walking in your foot steps.

Hearing His Voice

van sideThanksgiving has now come and gone but this holiday, this year, has left a lasting impression on me in a deeper way than usual. For one thing, we had a beautiful snowfall the day before and it made the landscape look like something out of the imagination of Walt Disney. Everything was coated in clean white snow and it gave the barren trees an unearthly glow that is hard to describe. Beyond all that, we had the great joy of hosting a bunch of our spiritual kids in our home. When they come over to eat with us it is always a treat. They bring energy, ideas and conversation that is enlightening and interesting in so many different ways.

This year our natural kids were committed to other family gatherings, some moved and some have been taken to distant places by their jobs. We missed them more than words can say, but such is life. Everything changes and we all must adjust. As a result we had people from our church join us. They came from Texas, Nigeria, the Congo and Scotia, NY to share our holiday turkey. It was just delightful, and it knit our hearts together with them in many new and wonderful ways. There was food, noise and child-like enthusiasm that filled the air. Most of all there was the pleasure that comes from just being together with those we have invested our lives into.

We dearly love these people and their families. Even though they have come from around the nation and around the world, we feel a connection to them. It comes from doing life together with those who respect us and actually want to hear what we have to say. What I mean is, they listen out of love and high regard for who we are rather than tolerant obligation, and that is one of life’s greatest blessings. These are the people who get the real treasure my wife and I have to offer, and they will take that legacy with them when we are long gone from this world.

When our meal was finished, and the dishes were washed and put away, it was time for me to take two of our guests home. The trip out was uneventful and filled with gratitude and wonderful conversation. However, on the trip back home something happened that made me realize just how vital it is to stay open to the voice of God. We often miss windows of opportunity simply because we allow the distractions of the moment to direct our lives. However, such mindless activity should never be the thing that controls where we go, what we do or what we say. We need to live life on purpose and be open to any adventure God might want to send us on. This is called being “present to the moment”, and it is a powerful way to live.

As I drove home on the very familiar, and clearly marked road I always take, it began to snow. The road became a slippery, greasy mess and I put my vehicle into “auto 4 wheel drive”. At that same moment, I passed a cross road I had never traveled on before and I felt a nudge from God’s Spirit to take it. It was a very distinct urging that made no sense, and I argued with His small, still voice for just a moment. Finally I pulled over, spun my Trailblazer around and drove down this unknown dark, snowy road, knowing I would cross the river at a different location and I would be much later getting back home to my wife.

I felt a strange peace come over me as I drove along even though I took a few wrong turns. The truth is, I actually felt the pleasure of God. Somehow this was His perfect design for me and it felt good. I knew I was on a God adventure this Thanksgiving night, just because I heard His voice and yielded my life to it. I had no idea what His reason was for sending me home this way, but that really didn’t matter. I had obeyed, and that is what pleases God when all is said and done.

As I came down the last incline that heads into our town, something caught my eye. A mini-van had just lost control and it had rolled up on it’s side as it slid backwards down into a deep ditch on the left side of the road. As I pulled over I narrowly avoided going off the road myself. I then crawled my way across the slippery road, went into the ditch and discover a mother and daughter, safely strapped in their seats but trapped inside the upturned vehicle. After calming them down I got the help of two other men, and together we rescued the frightened women.

One at a time they climbed up and tumbled out of the window of the upturned van and into my arms. I then helped them through the snow and up to the roadside where a warm vehicle was waiting. With both of them safely out I called “On Star” to report the accident and then directed traffic till the police and rescue squad showed up. With the arrival of emergency personnel I quietly got in my Trailblazer and headed for home. As I drove off I had a huge smile on my face, but more than that, I had the pleasure of being used by God. Why? Because I heard His voice at a most inconvenient moment, and decided that I would obey.

I wonder how often we miss these moments of divine adventure just because we are too distracted, or too busy living life? I also wonder how our lives might be so very different if we would just stay open to hearing His voice every moment of every day. Let me encourage you to look beyond the routine reality of the life you now have. Begin to see each moment as a divine possibility where you could be God’s agent to help another in their moment of need. Imagine that…. you could be God’s answer! All you need to do is slow down enough to hear His voice, and then obey. If you will, who knows what grand adventures may be waiting for you on the road just ahead! This, in the final analysis, is what really makes life so exciting. If you are board with the life you have, begin to listen for the voice of God. Once you hear Him and do what He says, you will fulfill the real purpose for why He placed you here, and that makes all the difference!