Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Too Many Treats

As a child there was nothing more amazing to me than the annual adventure of "Trick or Treating". The idea that I could go from house to house and simply say, "Trick or Treat" and these normally restrained adults would come to the front door and give me handfuls of candy and goodies until the grocery bag I was carrying would be completely full was almost beyond my understanding. It was crazy. I grew up with severe limitations on the amount of candy I was allowed to have but on this day, it was as if all the rules were suspended.

Thankfully this only comes around once a year - I would be a candy junky if this happened more often. Somehow even though I am not a child and have not gone "trick or treating" for quite some time, I still manage to eat a boatload of candy corn and chocolate during the last two weeks of October. I am eating too many treats. Get behind me, Candy Man!

Too much of anything can become a real problem in life - have you noticed? Work is a wonderful adventure, but too much will turn you into a "work-a-holic". Fitness is good for you - good for you physically and emotionally - but too much fitness can turn you into a fitness junky. Moderation is a word that has almost been lost to our manic way of life. We tend to be people who go overboard - busyness is the addiction of Western Culture. When I am busy, then I feel important and most of all, needed.

The word for moderation in the Bible is self-control. It is presented as evidence of maturity, both spiritual and emotional (Galatians 5:23; II Peter 1:6). Aristotle and Socrates both saw moderation of spirit as a sign of character and wisdom.

Around the corner and down the block from my house is a fellow who has lost all sense of moderation - he has huge inflatable bright orange pumpkins all over his front yard, along with orange lights strung all over his two story house. He has lost control. Next he will be decorating for Ground Hog Day and his house will be covered with hearts on Valentines! He needs a support group to attend to help him with this addiction to going overboard!

Just a few more days left until I can stop eating Candy Corn for another year - Thank goodness!

Just thinking, Steve

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Anger Danger

Why is everyone so angry? Everywhere I go I see people exploding in irrational outbursts of anger. Go to a High School football game and some of those guys who have not played football since 1965 are about to have a stroke because of the bad play of the team or the call of a football official. The guy on the freeway is ranting and raving at his fellow drivers for being such imbeciles - screaming obscenities and using sign language to communicate his disgust. A Mom is screaming at her child in the produce section of HEB, with steam coming out of her ears.

Anger is a genuine human emotion. We all get mad. But the way we express our anger says so much about us. You can also tell so much about a person by what makes them angry.

Jesus was angry but never with something done to him personally. He was angry with those who refused to help the hurting and used religion as their cover. (Mark 3:5) He was angry when greed set up shop in the temple, treating the poor with contempt and ruining a place for prayer. (Mark 11:15-17) When people did things to offend Jesus and hurt him he never responded in anger.

There is the line in the Bible: "In your anger, do not sin." (Ephesians 4:26) This is actually a quote from Psalm 4:4 which Paul borrowed for his discussion of how to handle our anger. Paul basically says don't let your anger "brew" - get it processed soon, before it becomes too hot to handle.

Anger like all our emotions has its place but it also has its dangers. People get crushed by anger and often it will take years to recover from it. One friend told me of how his Father's anger gave him recurring nightmares that still haunt his nights even as an adult and even after his Father's death.

One line from the Bible says to be "slow to become angry" - don't have a short fuse. It goes on to say that human "anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (James 1:19-20)

One thing that truly helps me with anger is to see others with compassion not with a desire to get even. There are people I disagree with, those who seem so insensitive and unkind - when I am around them I try to imagine what might be going on in their life. Perhaps they have financial problems, or marital difficulties or maybe they have suffered a recent loss, perhaps someone always reacted in anger toward them - I redouble my effort to treat them with respect and genuine kindness.

Instead of getting so mad about all the mad people why not become more patient, a better listener - be a person of grace, it may be just what they need to help them change the way they deal with their anger.

Just thinking, Steve

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More Than a Genius Bar

Recently my I-Pod Nano quit working. I had just finished a long run listening to my favorite music as I cruised along. I tried everything to make it work. I hooked it up to my PC and reloaded all my favorite tunes, which turned out to be about 1500 songs. I charged the battery and thought it would be fine. Nothing.

I went online to find out about service for my I-Pod and found out that I just needed to go to the Apple store and visit the "Genius Bar". So I made my appointment and arrived to see my name on the big screen just above the Genius Bar. I looked around in this strange place and there were nerds everywhere. I have never felt so out of place and nervous. I was sure that the Geek at the counter would ask me all kinds of technical questions and I would stand there like a dunce.
To my delight and surprise, the guy who helped me spoke my language. And within minutes, I had a bright blue I-Pod Nano in my hand and I was on my way.

I have to say my visit to the Genius Bar made me think. What I wanted was a quick and easy solution to my problem and that is what I received. Honestly, I don't work for Apple and have no real knowledge of the company other than I have an I-Pod and I love to listen to music. But they are on to something - people want simple, easy solutions to their problems. I am sure it does not always work this smooth.

The problem with life is that most of our real problems can not be solved in a few minutes at some kind of spiritual "Genius Bar". Oh, I wish it would work that way - but it doesn't.

I read recently about a remarkable woman who is today a successful educator, writer, loving Mom, Grandmother and devoted spouse. When she was a child she worshipped her Father, thinking he was the spitting image of the Lord God Almighty. He turned out to be a horrible person. He abused her without mercy, making her feel she deserved it. He had countless affairs and treated her Mom like property. She admitted that it took her 20 years of her adult life to feel whole again after this pain and to move on to the rich and wonderful life she now enjoys. There was no "Genius Bar" that she could step up to get a quick fix. But through faith, love, and the support of people who believed in her she now lives free of the baggage of her painful past.

Her story inspires me and reminds me that even though real problems take time to solve the real solution is worth the effort.

Just thinking, Steve

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunrise, Sunset - Such Beauty!

On our recent fall getaway to the Atlantic coast I was reminded again of the beauty of a simple sunrise over the ocean and the stunning beauty of an evening sunset over the bay. Part of the reason these sunsets and sunrises were so breathtaking was the hand that I was holding when I saw them - the hand of my gorgeous wife. Linda makes any sunrise or sunset more beautiful for me.

The variety of colors and hues and shapes with each sunrise and sunset is endless. Each one has it's own look - each one painting the sky like a gifted artist. As I witnessed each one I heard myself "oohing and awing", as if I was watching a fireworks display on the Fourth of July!

Another reason that these sunsets and sunrises were so wonderful was my state of mind - I was chillin'. I was so relaxed that I literally did not know what day it was, at times. This is not my normal behavior. I am addicted to clocks, watches, calendars, appointment books and lists. I was liberated from all these and my mind and heart was very receptive to simple and powerful beauty all around me.

Today I am back in the pace of clocks and appointments, voice mails, text messages, e-mails, and a long list of things to do. What I do not want to lose is in this fast paced world I live in each day is my appreciation for beauty.

My prayer is that I will see the beauty in a problem solved and the beauty in a task well done. I want to see the beauty of teamwork as co-workers work together to tackle important matters and do our best to be successful in our calling. I want to see the beauty of doing research and discovering new ideas for new challenges. I long to see the beauty in being a good listener and a kind helper to those facing difficulties in their life.

The teacher of Ecclesiastes wrote: "Everything is beautiful in its time." Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Just thinking, Steve