Thursday, June 25, 2009

Finding Our Self-Esteem

A story is told about William "Speedy" Morris, who was head coach at La Salle University from 1986 to 2001. As the story goes, during a year in which LaSalle was having a pretty good season, Coach Morris was shaving one morning when the phone rang. His wife answered it and called out to him that Sports Illustrated wanted to talk to him.

Coach Morris was excited that his team was apparently about to receive national recognition in this famous sports magazine. As a matter of fact, he was so excited that he cut himself with his razor.

Covered with blood and shaving lather and running downstairs to the phone, he tripped and fell down the stairs. Finally, bleeding and bruised, he made it to the phone and breathlessly said, "Hello"?

The voice on the other end asked, "Is this Speedy Morris"?

"Yes, yes!" he replied excitedly.

Then the voice continued, "Mr. Morris, for just seventy-five cents an issue, we can give you a one-year subscription to Sports Illustrated."

We are often disappointed to find out that someone else doesn’t think we are as important as we think they ought to! Paul had something to say about this:

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)

We’ve heard a lot in the past couple of decades about the importance of boosting the self-esteem of children in school, with the idea that getting rid of low self-esteem will help children to be happier and have better grades. And I fully appreciate the fact that some children (as well as some adults) do have poor self-esteem and view themselves as worthless, which is a bad thing. Paul doesn’t say that we need to have a poor view of ourselves, just that we need to have a “sober” or “sensible” view of ourselves.

But it seems to me that a bigger problem in our society is high self-esteem – people who think of themselves as more important than they truly are. Strangely enough, I don’t hear anyone talking about that problem! But Jesus did. He spoke a lot about the need to develop an attitude of humility, and he let us know that we find a right view of ourselves by seeing ourselves as servants. Jesus not only taught that view of self-esteem, but he demonstrated it.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

Father, help me to find my self-esteem in you. Because of your sacrifice on my behalf, I understand my great value in your eyes. But forgive me when I try to elevate myself over others around me who are equally as valuable. Help me to develop the humble attitude of a servant. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Advice For Fathers

A mother was out walking with her 4 year old daughter. The child picked up something off the ground and started to put it into her mouth. The mother took it away and said “Don’t do that!”

“Why not?” asked the child.

“Because it’s on the ground,” said her mother. “You don’t know where it’s been. It’s dirty, and it’s probably loaded with germs that could make you sick.”

The child looked at her mother with total admiration and said, “Mommy, how do you know all this stuff? You’re so smart.”

The mother said, “All Moms know this stuff. It’s on the Mom’s Test. You have to know it or they don’t let you be a Mom.”

There was silence for a minute or so as the child thought this through. “Oh, I get it,” she said at last. “And if you don’t pass the test you have to be the Daddy?”

Fathers don’t always get the respect that mothers do. That will become evident on Sunday. The truth is, Father’s Day is just not as big as Mother’s Day. On Mother’s Day, there’s a higher attendance at church, mothers have corsages on, emotions run high, restaurants do a booming business. On Father’s day, well, there are more collect phone calls than any other day of the year (yes, that’s a true fact).

Despite the fact that fathers are sometimes overlooked, the Bible is clear about the great responsibility given to those of us who are fathers. God challenges husbands to be the leaders in their homes. He challenges fathers to be someone their kids can look up to Allow me to share a few biblical pieces of advice with those of you who are fathers:

Love your wife! Paul said in Ephesians 5:28, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.” That’s one of the most important things you can do as a father. Trust me -- your children do watch how you treat their mother. They watch … and they are learning and forming their concept of marriage from you.

Spend time with your children. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” In other words, our children are a great blessing. Children are given to us to enjoy -- not to be a burden … not to avoid … not to ignore … But to enjoy! And in order to enjoy them, you’ve got to be with them … have fun with them … share your life with them.

Listen to your children. Give them your undivided attention … not with one eye on the TV and the other eye on them. When they have a problem, they don’t need cartoons, they don’t need a video game, they don’t even need their best friends. Dad … they need you! We need to be approachable. Be the kind of father that they can come to and say anything that’s on their mind.

Train your children. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Notice what Paul said. He didn’t say “parents”. And he didn’t say “Sunday School teachers”. He said, “fathers.” As we train our children, our goal is not merely to get our kids to outwardly conform to a list of rules. Our goal is to train and develop children who seek to glorify God with their lives.

Be a positive role model. Much of what our kids learn is caught rather than taught—they learn from what they observe. This means we can’t afford to cheat on our taxes, lie to our boss, or be rude to a salesperson. You are a role model for your children and, like it or not … good or bad … they will, to one degree or another, model their lives after you. You have inherited some of your father’s characteristics and your children are inheriting some of yours.

May God bless those of you who are fathers, and may we always look to our Heavenly Father as a perfect example of what a father should be!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Sense of Duty

Early one morning, a mother went in to wake up her son. "Wake up, son. It's time to go to school!"

"But why, Mom? I don't want to go."

"Give me two reasons why you don't want to go."

"Well, the kids hate me for one, and the teachers hate me, too!"

"Oh, that's no reason not to go to school. Come on now and get ready."

"Give me two reasons why I should go to school."

"Well, for one, you're 52 years old. And for another, you're the principal!"

Sometimes we have to do things even when we don't feel like doing them! It's called having a sense of duty. I think perhaps the concept of duty has taken some abuse in the church. We sometimes talk about the importance of doing things for God because we want to, not because we have to. And I would wholeheartedly agree with that. But if we only serve God when we really "feel" like it, our service would be minimal indeed. Sometimes the feelings aren't there, and we need to continue to serve knowing that it is the "right" thing to do.

It shouldn't bother us to think that way because we do many other things in life for the same reason. For example, I am a father of three children. When each of of those babies entered my home, I loved them. And I provided for their needs because I loved them. But, I can honestly say that there were many times I got up in the middle of night to meet their needs when I didn't "feel" like it. There were times when I got out of bed exhausted and irritable, and the only reason I got up was because I had a responsibility as a father to meet their needs. The love is always there, but sometimes it is a sense of duty that drives you to do what needs to be done.

The same thing is true in our Christian walk. When you get "exhausted and irritable" in your service to Christ, when you don't "feel" like doing what you know needs to be done, may a sense of responsibility, a sense of duty, drive you to continue to remain faithful.

"And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'? But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' " (Luke 17:7-10)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Are You Feeling Lucky?

The following ads are reported to have been taken from actual newspapers:

1) Free puppies: ½ cocker spaniel, ½ sneaky neighbor dog

2) Snow blower for sale ... only used on snowy days

3) For sale: an antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.

4) 2 wire mesh butchering gloves: 1 five-finger, 1 three-finger, pair $15

5) Lost: small apricot poodle. Reward. Neutered. Like one of the family.

6) Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children

7) Nordic Track $300. Hardly used. Call Chubbie.

8) Found: Dirty white dog. Looks like rat. Been out awhile. Better be reward.

9) Hummels -- largest selection ever. "If it's in stock, we have it!"

10) Georgia Peaches, California grown -- 89 cents/lb.

11) Nice parachute: never opened -- used once, slightly stained

12) Tired of working for only $9.75 per hour? We offer profit sharing and flexible hours. Starting pay -- $7-9 per hour

13) For sale by owner -- complete set of Encyclopedia Brittanica. 45 volumes. Excellent condition. $1,000 obo. No longer needed. Got married last weekend. Wife knows everything.

14) LOST: One-eyed, three-legged male dog. Answers to the name "Lucky."

I'm going to share with you one of my "pet peeves." I don't like the word "lucky." And, no, it has nothing to do with the ad above. I enjoy many good things in life. I have a lot of wonderful things happen to me. And there are times that I am tempted to say, "You know, I've been pretty lucky." But then I recall that my good fortune is due not to luck or happenchance, but to the hand of Almighty God. I'm not lucky; I'm blessed! God has richly provided for me in ways far beyond what I expect or deserve.

Can you picture Esther saying, "Wasn't it lucky that the king was willing to hear my plea?"? Can you picture Paul saying, "Wasn't it lucky that we weren't killed in that shipwreck?"? Can you picture Daniel saying, "Wasn't it lucky that the lions didn't eat me?"?

Then why would I dare speak of how "lucky" I've been in my life? It's not luck -- it's the providential care of a loving God!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights....." (James 1:17). Thank you, Father, for blessing my life so richly!