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Monday, January 27, 2014

Perfect Purpose

I try to keep my Monday Messages relevant by writing about things that happen each week. In order to do that I have to pay attention to my surroundings and the people I come in contact with; focusing on things I see or hear that challenge my thinking. It’s actually good for me because when I was young I only focused on myself and that’s probably true for most young people but if we do that we might miss out on some amazingly awesome sights and some incredibly interesting people. Here are a few examples from last week….along with some fun facts!

On Friday my wife and I babysat two of our grandchildren. As I looked down at our little 9 month old granddaughter, I noticed how perfect her tiny fingers and toes were and I was reminded how amazing the human body is. The average human body contains over 20 square feet of skin and is made of up over twenty-seven trillion living cells. If you tried to count them at the rate of 1 per second it would take you over 100,000,000 years to finish. Each cell is unique as is each living person. I wonder how we became made so perfectly?
Saturday was a beautiful, warm sunny day so my wife and I laid out at the beach. Looking up I noticed our sun is extremely large. In fact it makes up 98% of the mass of our solar system and is so big that you could fit over one million earths inside of it. The most incredible thing is the precision of its distance from the earth. If it were even one mile closer we would melt and if it were farther away we would freeze. I wonder how it got to be positioned so perfectly?

On Sunday evening my wife and I went for a moonlight bicycle ride along Beach Road. The moon plays a super important role in our lives. It regulates our seasons by stabilizing the tilt of the earth’s axis. If it wasn’t positioned with a one-and-a-half-degree tilt our oceans would slosh like bathwater at the mercy of a playful child. Basically, the moon keeps the earth habitable for us. I wonder how it got tilted so perfectly?

I know that not everything or everyone is this world is perfect… far from it. But when I take the time to notice the perfection in the simple things around me, I have no doubt that we and our world were created with perfect purpose!

And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
And then there was evening, and then there was morning - the sixth day
~ Genesis 1:31

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Got A Feeling

All week long I could not come up with a subject to write about for a Monday Message. Sunday came and I still didn’t have an idea or a story and I started to panic. I don’t know if it was writers block or just a “feeling” that I had that I should wait. So I waited until Monday evening and I am glad I did!
Earlier today I played in a Charity Golf Tournament to raise money for a Christian School and I met someone who really impressed me. His name is Sean Rooney and he gave me a great story to write about when he reminded me that sometimes we get a “feeling” that we just can’t ignore.
Sean is 27 and a former professional baseball player drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2006. His career was on the rise as he quickly moved from A Ball to Double A to Triple A and could practically smell the fresh cut grass on the field at Nationals Park Stadium when something happened that would change his life forever. His father, Bill, and older brother, Patrick, were tragically killed in a plane crash in Steamboat Springs, CO. They were traveling back from a trip where they were renovating a rustic barn for the reception site of Sean’s wedding, which was to take place in the upcoming September. His family was extremely close so the pain of unexpectedly losing two loved ones at the same time was extremely hard to bear. Sean began to question his life, wondering if devoting all his attention to baseball was still the right thing to do. He told me he had a “feeling” that something needed to change and that he prayed about it for a long time.
As he prayed for guidance, his love for the Lord increased and his desire to pursue the Big League Dream began to subside. After Sean played for AAA Syracuse in 2010, he told the Washington Nationals that he was going to leave the game knowing and trusting that God would place him where he could be most impactful. I am sure the coaching staff thought he was crazy to walk away from such a lucrative and exciting career but Sean had a “feeling” that he was on the right path. Today Sean is the Director of High School Ministry for FCA Baseball (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and leads Bible Study Classes for youth baseball players at several local High Schools. Instead of igniting the crowd with a Home Run Sean ignites the hearts of young men and women all over Southern California with a love for God. His new career may not pay as much as the old one, but the ultimate payoff is priceless!

A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.
~ William Faulkner

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Happy Man

Last week I wrote about “The Angry Man” and it was a depressing story to write just like it’s depressing to be around angry people. Fortunately I am surrounded by happy people most of the time and they make my world a lot brighter.  One person in particular stands out.
His name is Kai and although he is a fairly new employee at our company, he has already made a very positive impact. Kai is young and just starting his career in the business world but he has all the right attributes to be successful. He comes to work every day with a great attitude and a willingness to do whatever is asked of him with a smile. His job involves assisting in many different areas of the company including purchasing, accounting, order desk, warehouse and shipping, so it can be really confusing and stressful at times. But he always seems happy and enjoying the work at hand. It doesn’t hurt that he produces great results either. That makes me smile and very happy that we hired him.
But Kai doesn’t stop with just spreading happiness at work. He goes out in the community seeking ways to help others. His latest project is called “Laundry Love” and it involves going to poor areas of the community where there are homeless or jobless people and helping them by doing their laundry. Kai and his group of volunteers don’t just pay for the laundry service, they spend time connecting with the people and listening to their concerns. Kai says that people down on their luck appreciate other people spending time with them more than they do their money. Imagine that!
I know it’s easier to be happy when things are going right than it is when things are going wrong. And I certainly don’t want to downplay the really difficult things that can happen to us in life. But the way I look at it…happiness comes from pro-active action. If we strive to focus on the positive and seek out ways to bring joy to others….we can’t help but brighten our own world. 

Happy people bursting with energy have three things in common.
They deeply honor and respect themselves, they completely accept
themselves for who they are and they don’t take themselves too seriously.
They also see challenges as opportunities to be creative. They switch
their negative thoughts as rapidly as they switch channels on their TV.
Because they see life as a game to be played and enjoyed, they radiate
good health. They are fun to be around and genuinely love and accept
other people for who they are.
~ Rev. Don Kutz, First Christian Church, Laguna Woods, CA


Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Angry Man

I’ve been accused of being an overly positive person at times, maybe even a little naïve. And that’s okay because it’s true. My glass isn’t half full…its three-quarters full! Unfortunately, every once in a while something happens that tips my glass and makes me lose just a little bit of my faith in my fellow man. Fortunately, nothing will ever drain my “pitcher of positivity” completely.  
Yesterday (Sunday morning at 6:40am) I received a long rambling angry text message telling me what a horrible person I am. Ouch! First, the sender started detailing all the things that are wrong in his life; how bad his ex-wife is, how he doesn’t get to see his kids, how unfair everyone is to him, how his job sucks and he has no money and then he proceeded to tell me how I need to pull my head out of my “you know what” and start helping him instead of ignoring him. His words were extremely harsh and ended with a physical threat. I have to admit I’ve never received a message like that before and hope I never do again because it’s really sad. It’s sad because the man sending the message sees everyone else in the world as the problem instead of looking at the truth about himself.

Isn’t it true that we have a choice as to how we look at our own lives. Everyone struggles at times and everyone suffers. We all go through hard times because life isn’t fair…and it isn’t supposed to be. I’ve certainly had my share of hard times and I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes, and guess what I learned….most of the hard times I’ve ever had were caused by my own mistakes! That realization has enabled me to turn my mistakes into lessons learned and perhaps come out a little smarter on the other side. So as crazy as it sounds, I am thankful for the hard times I’ve encountered in my life. They’ve made me smarter and stronger and proven to me that God really does have a plan for me as long as I am honest with myself and maintain my faith in Him. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a positive attitude along the way either. By that I mean…if we focus on all the positive things in our lives instead of the negative ones…we can find happiness no matter what our circumstances are.

So I am wondering how I should answer the angry man. I could suggest he take a long honest look at himself before blaming everyone else for his problems. Or I could offer up a cliché like…”What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Or I could simply explain that making life better usually starts when we work on making ourselves better first. Or maybe…I just need to find him, put my arms around him, and let him know that I care deeply about him… and be bluntly honest with him that there truly is only one person with the power to fix his problems.
Oh, my friend, it's not what they take away from you that counts. 
It's what you do with what you have left.
~ Hubert Humphrey