Posts Tagged 'friend'

Hai Karate

Years ago my family and I lived in the small Texas panhandle town of Pampa.

Pampa is about 60 miles north and east of Amarillo and, on a windy day, the dirt from the Oklahoma panhandle comes over to pay it’s respects.

Pampa is filled with wonderful people who, due in part to it’s remote location, develop close and lasting relationships.

Church and School are the center posts of most social interaction, so involvement in both is essential, unless you prefer to live life as a hermit.

While we were living in Pampa, we attended the First United Methodist Church and “belonged” to a very active sunday school class of middle aged married couples.

Although we were involved in many different activities, one annual event always comes to mind as wee approach the holidays.

The annual white elephant gift exchange.

As many of you know, a white elephant gift exchange is where everyone brings a gift, most are something you wouldn’t think about giving to a friend and are sure to bring a groan from the receiving party and jeers from everyone else.  But that is not where the fun ends.  The receiving party is then given a chance to trade their newly acquired prize for something others may have already opened.  The fun goes on until the last present is opened and the last present is exchanged.

This particular sunday school class had an ongoing annual white elephant gift exchange.  It continued on unbroken for many, many years, so much so , there was a list of gifts that were certain to show up every year.  As a result, new ways of disguising the same old gift became an art form.

There was the string art pictures, a rubrics cube (unsolved), and many others but the longest running gift was a bottle of Hai Karate.

For those of you who are too young to remember, Hai Karate was a designer fragrance developed by the Leeming division of Pfizer launched in 1967.

This bottle was complete, in the box, with the small “self-defense”, instruction booklet that was sold with each new bottle.  It started to evaporate, and the color was changing from it’s original shade of green to a greenish swamp water color.

Still, the Hai Karate was passed from one unsuspecting victim to another, from year to year.  Each year it was accompanied by a list of recipients dating back to the gift’s origin.  The list of names was impressive.  It included lawyers, doctors, judges, plant managers, teachers, and house wives.  All unwitting recipients unable to convince others of the value this humble bottle of cologne offered if they took it off their hands.

Nevertheless, the Hai Karate held some strange attraction.  As much as the recipients moaned at it’s unveiling, there was some hidden feeling of belonging attached.

For the first time recipient, perhaps, it was the opportunity to have your name added to the long list of those who went before.

For the repeat victim, it might be the opportunity to once again join the game and spend the next year creating the perfect ruse successfully hiding the contents of the package.

Even today, these many years later, I think fondly of the time I fell victim the the Hai Karate gift.  I remember how everyone cheered when I ripped open the gift wrap revealing the prize within.  How I pleaded, in vain, for someone to trade their equally useless gift for mine.  Even the pats on the back and handshakes coupled with feigned condolences at having taken one of the perpetual relics of the annual event.

More than that though, I think fondly of the friends and fellowship this event created and sustained.  These friends were always near, even in the darkest or most difficult moments.

In the end, it is all about the relationship.  So much like the rest of life, we sometimes unwrap the beautiful package, full of expectations and excitement, only to find a bottle of Hai Karate.

It might be a move away from friends and family, job loss, or even something like a debilitating illness.  None so easy to get rid of as to pass on to another unsuspecting victim.

When these things happen, we often hear the words of offered condolences, and the gentle hand on the back as someone attempts to console or reassure.  More often these are only outward gestures and are often laced with judgment and condemnation.

It is the silent knowing of a true friend, who without a single word, reassures and comforts.  Who, because of their relationship, know what you need.

These are people you want to be near you in time of trouble.

The bible speaks of this relationship in Proverbs 27:9  “Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.

When no one else is there, God is, and he will help you get back in the game.  He will help you prepare for the next white elephant gift, life dumps in your lap.

He will comfort you with just his presence.  He knows, more than anyone, what you need and it won’t be laced with judgment and condemnation.

In the end, it is all about his relationship with you.  Take a look at that bottle of Hai Karate and find that hidden opportunity to learn and grow.  Add your name to the list of previous recipients, as you do not walk this road alone, as long as he is present.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

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Lessons from Cracker Jacks

I was recently contemplating the past, something I find myself doing more and more as I get older, when the thought of something exciting returned from my childhood.

Cracker Jacks!

Yes, we still see Cracker Jacks today on the shelves of our grocery stores.  Now mostly in bags, not boxes.  Shiny mylar bags with high definition pictures of the molasses candy covered popcorn and peanuts contained within.  Even the familiar Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo graces the bag.  Not much has changed from what I remember from my youth.

One thing, however, is missing.  Well, more than one thing, but one thing stands out more than any of the others.  It is called Discovery.

Growing up in a poor family with seven other siblings, it was not a common occurrence when we had the luxury of receiving a box of Cracker Jacks.

As I recall, the boxes Cracker Jacks were packaged in, were particularly difficult to break into.

First there was the outer covering of the box.  It was composed of a very fine layer that was printed with pictures of the familiar candy, the picture of Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo, and the red and white banner clearly displaying the Cracker Jacks logo.

Then there was the box that was composed of thin cardboard infused with some kind of wax substance that was near impenetrable.

But the coups de gras was the blue circle with the words printed in bold white “Surprise Inside”.

We would tear into the box with utter abandon.  Sometimes with the help of a pocket knife or one side of a pair of scissors.

We would explore for a weakness in the defenses created by that packaging.  Once discovered, we would tear open the top of the box, careful not to spill any of the precious candy, probing for the small envelope that contained that toy treasure.

What would it be?  A decoder ring, by which we might intercept a secret message from a Russian spy and save the whole of the United States, if not the world, from certain destruction.  Would it be a whistle that would mysteriously disappear at night after a day of chasing my sisters around the house blowing it in their ears.  Maybe, a plastic figure of a soldier or a baseball player, which we would imagine was in honor of our prowess on the field of battle or the ball field.

Each box was seemingly different and always new, to us.

The discovery of a prize inside was just the beginning.  It continued as our minds were opened to the myriad of possibilities contained in our imaginations.

Today the “Surprise Inside” has been replaced with paper prizes displaying riddles and jokes.  Many times pointing the finder to a web page or iPhone app where creativity is kept tightly wrapped in a box with impenetrable wax like coating.

Fathers, we need to become a modern day Sailor Jack with his dog Bingo for our children.  Not by sitting down our six year old with an iPad, but by interacting with them in play aimed at opening that box and the door to discovery.

Where is that “Surprise Inside”?

 

En Servicio Como Padre

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Chasing Jesus

I am proud to present to you a guest blogger. Richard Gill. Yes Richard is related to me. He is my youngest brother in whom I am very well pleased. Not to take away from his bio, below, but his story is one that is quite a journey. A true chief of sinners to righteous servant story. A man after God’s own heart!

Biography:

Richard Gill lives with his wife and family on a small ranch in Oroville, CA. He enjoys riding his Harley, spending time with family and tinkering with the endless building projects that are required around the ranch and at his work as a contractor.

His heart’s desire is to help other men like himself to recognize and then answer the warrior call of our one true King…Jesus Christ.   http://ransomedhope.blogspot.com

Chasing Jesus

Life is so hard at times that I wonder if I will ever make it through to the 555352 squinting eyeend. God says in his word that he is here for us, but at times it seems like he is nowhere to be found. Those same men that promised me in the past that they would be there for me have all instead chosen to judge me. Every step I take seems to end with more questions than answers.

If God does care as he says then why have I ended up here?

In life it is not easy to pursue Jesus. To be passionate about Jesus we have to give up everything of who we are, and deep down inside, most of us don’t want to do that. But God will accept nothing less than our complete surrender to his Son.

Jesus requires us to be who we have been created to be. He doesn’t promise us it will be easy, only that “there” is where we will find true joy. Notice that he doesn’t use the word comfort.

The first thing that happens in our pursuit to find Jesus is he will bring up the sin in our lives so that we can repent and let go of the past. Then he places a new hope and promise before us and expects us to step up and do what we have been created to do. With Jesus there can be no half way, he always expects us to be the “us” that God created us to be. Just as with his disciples he will accept nothing less, he expects our best not our worst.

To chase Jesus is the easy choice, to find him is much harder. The more we pursue Jesus the more we see our inadequacies. Sadly, for many these inadequacies are too hard to face, so many will choose to leave that area untouched inside of them, so they can pursue a more normal relationship with God.

The problem here is this new relationship is not with God at all, it is with an idol they have placed the name of God upon, called religion.

To chase or pursue Jesus requires everything from us. With Jesus there is 1313655 roman helmetno “other way” to go; only his way matters. This is why so many fall away, they see his way as to hard.

What does the word warrior bring up in your mind when I say it? For most of us I think it is a picture of a strong man with big biceps, wearing armor, and either swinging a sword or shooting a gun. This same man has to continually be able to be placed in the most dangerous places and situations, usually around those that want nothing less than to kill or torture him.

Sadly to say many choose the easy road before they have ever been in even one battle.

God is calling out his warriors, not those that have chosen the easy road. Jesus is training an army for war and, make no mistake, you will either learn to fight or you will be left for dead. To use our armor as his chosen warriors we need to know what weapons have been given to us to use.

How do you think that we find this out?

Jesus walked this earth, Gods very Son, to show us the way. All through the New Testament his words are recorded so we can know him better. So all we have to do is read about him, listen, and meditate on his words. Then we can model ourselves after what he said we should be.

To know Jesus is to know the father, to know the father is to know our true selves.

So now we have no excuse, no easy way out, no man made kingdoms to hide in. Jesus died and requires all of this from us and much more, because he knows anything less will lead to our destruction.

By the way it will be hard for us to pursue Jesus, but it will also bring us more joy, happiness, and peace then we have ever had in our lives. To accomplish this will take everything that you have inside. It will require you to give up friendships at times, to give up money, to give up fame, to give up yourselves.

In days of old, even in recent times, to be called a warrior meant that you have been judged as worthy to hold such a title. It meant that you have on your body and mind the scars from training that made you who you are today. It meant that you would be trusted with protecting the kingdom. In many civilizations there was no greater honor then being 1057875 chatrapati shivaji maharajchosen to be a warrior. In fact many kings were actually proven warriors seasoned in battle.

The battle being lost meant more than just defeat, it meant that your family and friends would be placed in bondage for years or even their lifetime under the enemy’s control.

This is why it is so hard, you will have to fight…

You will have to forget about the past, so you can see the future that God has for you.

One thing is different though, with Jesus we have been given something that other warriors didn’t have, a King that will fight for us, when the battle is at its fiercest.

So today my hope for you is that you will fight with everything inside of you, to be the warrior that Jesus has called you to be. The warrior that God himself created you to be, even before you were born.

Today raise up the battle standard with the name of Jesus upon it, this is why we are here, for this is why we were created, and for this is why we will fight.

The Name of Jesus…..

Philippians 3:13 (nas)
Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

MEDIOCRITY

Mediocrity is something I have struggled with most of my life. It is something that has created many missed opportunities and immeasurable heart ache for me and my family.

Recently, a good friend approached me and asked if I would accept a guest on this blog. This is something I would not do lightly. But Colonel Paul Longgrear, US Army retired, is a man who shares my heart for the fathers of this age.

Paul is a true American hero and I recently had the honor of attending his induction into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame. His story is an extraordinary one and one Google search will show you why I enthusiastically said yes to Colonel Paul’s inquiry.

Please read his words and insights closely. He is a man I have personally learned a great deal from.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

MEDIOCRITY – Paul Longgrear

Years ago our family lived in a county with two school systems. The two high schools were only four or five hundred yards apart and from the start were arch rivals even though one was only nine years old.

The older school dominated the younger school all nine times they played in football. The old school played for the state championship three times and won one of them. At one point they racked up a 29-1 record and won seven region titles. They excelled at football and the newer school was only mediocre.

In spiritual parlance we might consider the word coined by Jesus, “lukewarm”. If one is not going to do his best at something, he might want to not attempt it in the first place. Does this mean mediocrity is bad? Is striving for excellence always good?

If one has to revert to the flesh to achieve excellence; excellence would probably be bad.

Is it better to be a sluggard or turn to sin to win?

Behavioral performance can be based on genetic influence or it can be learned through environment. If a man is born into a family of over achievers, he will be influenced just by being a member of that family. On the other hand if that same person is born into a family of under motivated members he again will be influenced by that environment. He may flow with the character of the family or he may defy the norm and be just the opposite in either case he is influenced by that environment.

Whatever the influence or cause, excellence is refusing to settle for less that one’s best. Mediocrity, on the other hand, is settling for the minimum that will suffice. “If the deadline is 3:00 P.M. why get it completed earlier”, the sluggard might ask.

When I decided to leave my home state of Arkansas to seek my fortune, I followed Horace Greely’s advice and went west to California. Within a matter of days I had a job at a large Los Angeles area lumber yard. Because I had a couple of years of college, the boss put me in charge of the stall that contained small lumber and ply wood.

He assured me it was a mess and challenged me to try and get it straightened out within a couple of weeks, if possible. I had two summers of experience in the lumber yard business and within three days had everything in order. Why did I do that? My mother raised me to work hard and she was the hardest working person I knew. Hard work was not an option in our family, it was the expected.

My wife and I raised three children who were all very good workers and have done very well for themselves. I was always a poor performing student because I was academically lazy. As a result, I was determined my children wouldn’t be.

Our oldest child was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, the second child never had to crack a book in school and the third labored to meet his, self-imposed, classroom goals. I am honored to say that all three are college graduates and one has a doctorate in education. The one with the learning disability was assured that she was as smart as her brothers and the same results would be expected of her.

Which of them do you think has the doctor’s degree? The laborer, he refused to be mediocre.

We had the same standards for each of them; do your best! I learned as a child that too much pressure to perform could cause a student to cheat. Life taught me, excellence can never be achieved by lowering moral standards.

There are no shortcuts to excellence. Diligence and determination mixed with perseverance are the ingredients necessary to fulfill what God has placed in all of us. It should also be noted that talent will not assure excellence. If very talented people accept less than their best for themselves, they are mediocre.

Remember the schools we mentioned at first. The difference was attitude. When the two schools walked on the football field it was obvious which team thought they would win and which team only hoped they would win. The coaches convinced the first team they were going to win every game because they were prepared to win through work and preparation. During the week they practiced smart, hard and long.

Leadership is the key to creating an environment of excellence and overcoming mediocrity. Whether one is a manager, a coach, the parents of children, or commander of a military unit, leadership is the key.

Leadership is nothing more than motivating someone to do what they are supposed to do. How well they do it is determined by how motivated they are.

There are only two ways to motivate; inspiration or intimidation. Think about by which of these ways you are motivated. Now think about how you motivate those around you.

We will discuss this in the near future.

Monotony breeds familiarity

A few days ago, my wife and I were talking about some of the people we have met. You know who they are, the people who have lived their whole life in the same area. They have never traveled outside their state, many not outside the county, and a few not outside the city they live in.

In the course of our discussion, my wife expressed something that pricked me deep in my soul. She said “monotony breeds familiarity.”

As I pondered this thought, the picture of these people came to mind. rocking chair They seem to have a very limited view of the world, in many cases they have a negative view of people outside their general area, especially those from outside their geographical region.

The monotony of seeing everything the same way day in and day out has created a familiarity with the things around them that breeds distrust, even anger, with that which is different.

I am reminded of Saul in the book of I Samuel. In this story, Saul comes to a woman who has a familiar spirit in an attempt to get in touch with the prophet Samuel who died earlier.

Saul sunk deeper into disobedience with this action and it cost his life and that of his sons.

When confronted by Samuel with the question; “why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul’s response was interesting. “I am in great distress” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets of by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.” (I Samuel 28:15)

Saul was acting the same way and making the same choices for so long king spadesthat he no longer was aware of how he was conducting his business. His life entered into a form of monotony. He came to the point that he could not make a decision for himself. When his prophets no longer could advise him and Samuel was dead, he turned to a familiar spirit to come up with answers.

Websters defines monotony as 1: tedious sameness 2: sameness of tone or sound. (m-w.com)

When we become so accustomed to the same things, actions, places, words, etc, life becomes tedious. If we don’t take reasonable action to change monotony, we become indifferent to the things around us. As a result of this indifference, we let our guard down and our enemies take advantage of us.

We don’t see it or hear it because of monotony. By the time it becomes apparent to us, we have no idea where to turn. This is where familiarity becomes our enemy.

We choose the comfort of familiarity and reject a new or different way of approaching our issues.

God created man in His image. (Gen 1:27) As such, He endowed us with all of His attributes, including the ability to create. Satan, on the other hand, was not created in the image of God. He doesn’t have the ability to create and must use what already exists, that which he is familiar with.

If the enemy can keep us tied up in familiarity, he can keep us from realizing the victorious life that God has created us to live.

Monotony breeds familiarity, and familiarity coaxes us into a life of inactivity and, ultimately, a sub-optimization of what God has created us to be.

Wake up! Break out of monotony before it is too late.

En servicio como padre
Dave

40 Short years

Today is Sunday January 3, 2010, the day Marsha and I celebrate 40 years of marriage.

As I think about the past 40 years, it seems like such a short time.  We began this journey in a small Methodist Chapel in Colorado City Texas.  It was during the Vietnam war and I was in the Air Force.  We, like many other young people then, wanted to get married in case things went badly in the war.  We knew Vietnam would impact our lives in one way or another.

Over the years we have lived in states like, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas, Nebraska, and Georgia.  We have met wonderful people in each of these states and many are good friends to this day.  We were even called by an old boss, and friend, yesterday whom I worked with in Nebraska. 

Our five children were born in New Mexico and Texas and have been the greatest blessing of all for these past 40 years. Followed closely by the 32 foster children who God gave us the opportunity to take care of over a 26 year period.

Over all, we thank God for his constant presence and oversight.  He has been with us when we were wondering where the next meal would come from, through the birth and or adoption of our children, and has celebrated the many victories we have experienced over these many years.  He has taught us to be better parents, friends, colleagues, and lovers.

I look forward to what the next 40 years will bring for us.  In everything, we know our children, grand-children, friends, and especially God will be along for the ride.

Thank you to each of my readers who have taken the time to listen to what God has put on my heart over the past few years.  You have become a part of my extended family.

On a personal note, I want to thank Marsha for being the partner God destined her to be.  She has put up with my weakness and has made me much stronger.  She has been my eyes when I could not see clearly.  She has tolerated my misunderstanding of what spiritual headship meant in our early years, and has helped me refine what it is today.  She has gotten more lovely over the years and I am proud she chose to join me on this journey 40 years ago.

God bless you all.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

Forgot your password?

“Enter with the password ‘thank you’ make yourselves at home, talking praise, thank Him.  Worship Him.  For God is sheer beauty, all generous in love, loyal always and ever”( Psalms 100:4-5 The Message)

 “The username and password entered do not match.  Please enter correct username and password before proceeding”.

 How many times have you seen that message, or one like it, splashed across your computer screen?

 My mind races, it can’t be the username; I usually use the same one!  It has to be the password, what password did I use when I set up this account?  For the life of me I can’t remember.  I enter one password after another, but none seems to be the right one.  What was I thinking?

 After some time I resort to the link just below the login box.  “Forgot your password?” the helping hand most men avoid as a sign of utter failure.  After all, are we that lame, we can’t remember the password WE created?

The next screen asks us to answer a couple of questions: 

“What was your Mothers maiden name?”  I don’t remember giving that information to this site!  “What was the model of your first car?”  Why do they care?  I cover my sense of failure with sarcasms.

 Finally, I get the message; “Your password was sent to the email on record.”

 Today’s technology has provided a simple similitude.  If we want to experience, or access, the knowledge, tools, pleasures, or relationships offered beyond where we are now, we must have the right password.

 Just as passwords open sites in cyberspace, the password, thank you, opens doors for us in our spiritual walk.

 The United States is one of only a few countries that have a holiday specifically for the purpose of saying thank you.

 Given this emphasis, consider two of my recent experiences:

I stood holding the door as, one after another; the young ladies who made up the cheerleading team, their coaches, and chaperones, stepped off the bus they were traveling on, and passed through the open door into the restaurant ahead of me.  Saying not a word, as they passed, they now stood in line, waiting to be seated.  There were approximately 30 in the group.

 After dinner, my wife and I crossed the street to do s little shopping at the local Target store.  There I encountered a young father struggling to load a few 12 packs of soft drinks on his basket without getting too far from the baby resting in the basket.  Seeing his struggle, I stepped in and helped by moving the products into his waiting basket as he stood silently and watched.  He went on about his shopping as if nothing had happened.

 Although not a scientific study, or even a good representative sample, these two incidents reflect a spreading insensitivity, on the part of persons in our western culture, to the need to acknowledge acts of kindness.  We have forgotten our password, — thank you.

 For the life of us we can’t figure out what it is.  We want what is beyond the login screen of our spiritual life.  We struggle to open the site with every material activity or gift we can think of, but we can’t think of the simple password.

If we continue to concentrate on our own self-interests, we will never know the wonders that wait beyond our present state. 

Romans 15:1-7 gives us clear direction:

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status.  Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”  That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it.  .Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next.  May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all.  Then we’ll be a choir – not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!  So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! (The Message)

As we celebrate our Thanksgiving, think about how we might live up to the charge of Romans 15.  Don’t make it easy on ourselves, look inwardly and ask others, “How can I help?”; when someone, even a total stranger, serves us in some way, repay their kindness with acknowledgement. 

Think about all the God of all creation has done for us.  What sacrifice He made for us, His constant presence doting on children He adores. Acknowledge Him in everything. 

We have the choice, we can be a single voiceless “taker” in this world, and remain forever locked in our present state with no hope of entering into something greater, or we can “join the choirnot our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem.” 

Remember your password – thank you.

En servicio como Padre

Dave


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