Archive for Life

26
Jul

The Wedding Was Called Off And She Made Lemonade

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I’ve been a minister for over 25 years and thankfully I have only seen a wedding called off a few times.

Here is the story of a lady whose $30,000 wedding was called off and how she made lemonade out of it

Sarah Cummins
INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana woman didn’t want her cancelled $30,000 wedding to go to waste, so she threw a party for the homeless.

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A bus pulled up to the swanky event centre on Saturday that Sarah Cummins had booked for the reception in Carmel, a suburb north of Indianapolis. About a dozen veterans from a local organization were among the guests who dined on bourbon-glazed meatballs, roasted garlic bruschetta and wedding cake.

Cummins told the Indianapolis Star that she and her fiance called off the wedding a week ago. She declined to give a reason, but she said they were left with a nonrefundable contract for the Ritz Charles in Carmel and a plated dinner for 170 guests.

“For me, it was an opportunity to let these people know they deserved to be at a place like this just as much as everyone else does,” Cummins said.

Cummins said she decided that rather than throw away the food she would bring some purpose to the event and contacted area homeless shelters. She cheerfully greeted and welcomed her guests when they arrived Saturday.

Several local businesses and residents donated suits, dresses and other items for the guests to wear.

Charlie Allen, who’s spent three months at a homeless mission, received a donated jacket.

“I didn’t have a sport coat,” he said, tugging gently at the lapels. “I think I look pretty nice in it.”

Like other guests, Allen said he was grateful for the invitation.

“For a lot of us, this is a good time to show us what we can have,” he said. “Or to remind us what we had.”

Three of Cummins’ seven bridesmaids, along with her mother and aunts, came to support her at the event. Guests also dined on chicken breast with artichokes and Chardonnay cream sauce and wedding cake.

Cummins, a 25-year-old Purdue University pharmacy student, said her ex-fiance, Logan Araujo, footed most of the bill for the wedding contract, with Cummins and her parents, along with one of Araujo’s family friends, paying the rest. Cummins said that when she approached Araujo about donating the dinner, he agreed to what he believed was a selfless way to handle the situation.

Cummins said she is not sure yet what she will do with the wedding dress.

“It’s too painful to think about.”
(CTV News)

None of us will make it through life without our fair share of challenges. How we respond is extremely important to our well being at the time and our ability to move on in the future. Obviously, the pain of the breakup will remain with this lady for a long time to come. However she was able to look beyond her pain and say, “Since I’m here how can I help someone?”

No matter what you are going through today find a way to help someone. As you do you will help that person and yourself at the same time.

Time to make lemonade !!!

25
May

Never Give Up! Persevere!!

Persevere – “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition”

Never Give Up!!!Persevere

 

 

Here is a visual reminder of what it means to persevere and not give up.

 

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

“Then there is the call to spiritual perseverance. A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.” (Oswald Chambers)

 

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.  As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.  And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-14)

“God doesn’t want us to let our circumstances drive us.” (Wally Odum)

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

“He loves you enough to allow you to be refined. We can only be refined when trials come.” (Brad Henry)

 

Do you know someone who needs encouragement today?  Pass this on to them.

 

 

03
May

A Guaranteed Way To Get Your Kids Home On Time

I was talking with a friend the other day and the topic turned to parenting.  In the course of our conversation I said that we were fortunate, we never worried about our kids so we never had to give them a curfew.  My friend told be what their parents did to make sure they were home on time and I thought it was brilliant!!!

A Guranantee Way To Get Your Kids Home On Time(2)

 

Step One

Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock.  You know the one ones that wind up with the bells on top.

Step Two

Show your teenager how it works and how to turn it off.

Step Three

Before your teen heads out for the night, state the time they must be home and set the clock to that time.  In their presence put the clock at the bottom of the steps and say, “You need to be home to turn this off before the alarm goes on.  If the clock wakes me up there will be a price to pay.  Good night.”  Then go to bed and sleep well:)

Told  you it was simple:)

 

via Captain Obvious on GIPHY

 

 

 

23
Feb

Burnout – The Challenge – The Climate – The Comeback

We hear the term “burnout” used in conversation almost everyday.  “I have a stressful  job.” is a phrase used almost as much as “Good morning.”

  • Burnout: “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration”

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Pastoral ministry is certainly not exempt from the strains and stresses of being in the “people business”.  With each passing year the challenge to minister effectively grows at a much faster rate than many ministers feel they are equipped to handle.

The Challenge

“But there’s the flip side: I waited too long. I’ve seen other pastors make this mistake too. By the time they take a sabbatical, it’s too late. I’d much rather see pastors take sabbaticals when they can devote them to growth and recovery rather than recovery only.” (Darryl Dash)

Consider these stats:

  • 66% of pastors reported that their congregation experienced a conflict during the past two years; more than 20% of those were significant enough that members left the congregation.
  • 56% of pastors regularly take off one day each week; 21% say that they do not get any days off.
  • The typical pastor has his/her greatest ministry impact at a church in years 5 through 14 of his pastorate; unfortunately, the average pastor lasts only five years at a church.
  • 50% of pastors feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
  • 40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
  • 40% of pastors say they have considered leaving their pastorates in the last three months.
  • 64% of adults say that truth is relative to the person and their circumstances.

The Climate of Burnout

“Our problem is that we hate rest. We fill every nook of our lives with things to do, skimp on our vacations, and refuse to take days for rest.” (Darryl Dash)

8 Symptoms You Might Be burning out

  1. I want people who have hurt me to suffer.
  2. I self-medicate in ways that nobody else knows.
  3. I don’t sleep well because I’m overwhelmed by anxiety.
  4. I struggle to care about anyone or anything.
  5. I’m ready to flip tables when people around me aren’t perfect.
  6. I act like I care about people, but I’m just using them.
  7. I have no one who I can talk to honestly without fear of losing my job.
  8. I avoid God.

Here’s more from Matt Adir

The Comeback

“We’re often tempted to see rest as a curse.” (Darryl Dash)

10 Ways To Avoid Burnout

  1. Know when to say “no.”
  2. Take time for you.
  3. Don’t own things you can’t control.
  4. Give yourself grace.
  5. Spend time with peers.
  6. Cling to compliments and dismiss criticism.
  7. Focus on the important more than the urgent.
  8. Set realistic expectations for yourself.
  9. Reward yourself often.
  10. Use all of your vacation time.

Here’s more from Tim Parsons.

Cure For Pastor Burnout

  1. Find a small group you don’t have to lead.
  2. Create healthy boundaries.
  3. Seek counsel regularly.
  4. Celebrate with your church.
  5. Build a Volunteer Program.

Here more from Ryan Nelson

So there you have it, the challenge, the climate and the comeback of burnout.

The stats above are not going to change very soon:) So we have to learn to live within the tension of ministry life.

Do you see yourself anywhere in the 8 symptoms?

Of the 15 suggestions in the Comeback which ones do you have in place and which ones do you stink at?

Taking care of our bodies is a spiritual issue and no one is going to do it for us.  What’s your first step?

 

 

 

 

 

 

11
Jan

Truth Is – You’re Not To Busy To Pray

Truth Is – You’re Not To Busy To Pray

We all know we should pray but what we know we should do and what we actually do are two different things.  For me prayer in the morning works best.  If not, then my day starts rolling and I find it hard to slow down and get into the prayer zone.

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Sometimes my prayer life is like driving on the highway at 2 in the morning. Nothing to slow me down, nothing to distract me, it’s just smooth sailing.  Other times my prayer life is like driving downtown in the summer. Stop and go traffic, lots of detours and lots of distraction.

For all of us there is one lie we have either  believed, are believing or will believe in the future.

“I’m to busy to pray.”

  • My job is demanding.
  • I have small kids, life is demanding.
  • I have to care for my aging parents, life is very demanding.

Even though all of these situations may be true, we are still not to busy to pray.

Let’s consider one day in the life of Jesus early in His ministry, from Mark 1.

7899422014_9d0b940bec_bHere’s what His agenda looked like:

  • Morning – Teach in the synagogue and heal a demon possessed man.
  • Afternoon – Heal Peter’s mother-in-law, have lunch, take a nap.
  • Evening – Revival/healing meeting.

After such a busy day, here is what Mark records happens next:

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

This is normally where the preacher would say, “Be more like Jesus, get up early tomorrow and start praying!!!!!!  Let’s close in prayer.”

“Ok, yes I agree we should be more like Jesus but my challenge still exists.  Where am I going to find the time?”

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I know this will be difficult but just imagine for a moment that you are “average”.  I know it’s going to be a stretch but try anyway:)

The average Canadians adult spends 30 hours a week watching TV.

The average 18-24 year old spends 31 hours a week online which includes 10 hours of watching TV.

The average Facebook user spends 400 minutes a month online. ( I think this one seems very low)

 

I think for all of us it’s more honest to say, “I choose to __________ instead of pray.”

My purpose it not to make you feel guilty but to remind all of us that there is enough time to pray.

The challenge of prayer will always be before us.

So what can we do to make prayer more consistent in our lives?

Finding time is a world that screams 24 hours a day for our attention is difficult but making prayer a priority will be the best daily decision you will ever make.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Wiedmaier / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: DigitalRalph / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: alirod11 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

11
Jan

I Wanted To Improve My Reading in 2016 So This Is What I Did

 

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“Books are what you step on to take you to a higher shelf. The higher your stack of books, the higher the shelf you can reach.” (Jim Rohn)

I love reading books. It may have something to do with the fact when I was a kid we only had 2 televisions stations (but the research is still being collected on that). I remember my favourite part of school was the monthly order from the Scholastic Book Club. During Bible College and later Seminary, I had more books to read than I would have liked but I still read for enjoyment. For the past couple of years I have a standing meeting every 3 weeks with a group of local pastors and we work through a book together. Continue reading…

11
Jan

18 Do’s and Don’ts For Family Members And Friends of A Depressed Person

 

18 Do's and Dont's For Family and Friends Of A Depressed Person.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked our congregation to raise their hands if they or someone close to them have been affected by cancer. Obviously, hands went up all over the church.  Then I said, “If I asked have you or someone close to you been affected by mental illness, you would be surprised how many hands would also go up.” Here in Canada we have Bell Let’s Talk Day which is a National Campaign on Mental Health Issues and has been very effective in bringing this challenge to the national consciousness. Stats say, 20% of Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. The personal cost can be devastating and the economic cost is in the billions. Continue reading…

11
Jan

Burn Out Should Never Be An Option

Burn Out Should Never Be An Option

It was one of those situations where what you already know finally hits home.  A couple of weeks ago I was given the gift of a  Spiritual Retreat.  During my 2 days away I watched a number of sessions from the Willow Creek Summit 20th Anniversary DVD.  One of the sessions was by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro from Hawaii.  His topic was burnout and he told a story about the day he hit the wall.  He was out jogging and broke down in tears on the side of the road.  The session detailed his road back to balance in ministry and life.

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Cordeiro used the example of a tank to bring his point home.

We all understand that life is a balance between intake and outflow.  When life is working well our intake and outflow are somewhat even and we can maintain our activity level, quality of life and relationships without much difficultly.

 

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Burnout sneaks up on us when we hit an extended period of little intake and great output.  It happens to us all, for students exam time is an example, all new parents face this with the sleepless nights caring for an infant, a family or work crisis can present real challenges.  The first warning sign is often anxiety, Pains that start coming out of nowhere and for no reason.

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If we ignore the anxiety symptoms we are headed for more trouble.  Physical and emotional breakdown come when we turn off the intake valve. With the valve off disaster is guaranteed to be just around the corner.  We had a speaker last year whose body and emotions said “no” to his demanding speaking schedule of over 280 times a year.  He had to take an extended time off and even now that he is easing himself back into the speaking life again he needs to be seated during his presentation because of anxiety issues.

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The simplest solutions are often the most difficult to put into practice, have more intake then outflow.  Another way to say this is, “Minister out of your overflow not reservoir.” It’s much easier said than done isn’t it?

 

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As a minister I have a fluid schedule but at the same time there is much I have no control over much of my life, like the fact there is a Sunday in every week that needs a sermon to help make it complete:)   Assessment of a problem or challenge should always be the first step. Take a few moments and consider what fills your tank and what drains it.

 

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As I considered what fills my tank the following came to mind.

  • Time with my family and friends.
  • Nature – walking – hiking, etc.
  • Reading
  • Learning whether formal or books, seminars or conferences.

Some of the things that drain my tank?

  • Stupid people how should know better.
  • Late nights and early mornings.
  • Financial worries.

In order to do more than just survive you have to make a concerted effort to regularly fill your tank.  To be honest, I feel a bit selfish taking the time to fill my tank when I could be out “ministering” to someone but when you consider this was a practice of Jesus I don’t feel so bad.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

How about you?

How full is your tank?

Is your intake and outflow fairly even or are you headed for anxiety, physical and emotional breakdown?

What fills your tank?

What drains your tank?

What steps can you take this week to increase your intake and decrease your outflow?  Rome wasn’t built-in a day and to correct a long existing problem will not happen overnight but what stopping you from taking the first step right now?

 

“As ministry becomes more complicated the drain will increase and what filled the tank will not keep up with the drain.” Cordeiro

 

Related Articles:

The Gift of Quiet

How To Make Vision Stick

 

Photo credit: Patrick Henson / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

 

 

 

11
Jan

Is it ok to say, I’m bored with God?

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“I told God recently that I was bored with him. Pretty gutsy of me, eh? I couldn’t believe my own audacity, and yet that was how I felt, and I figured I should at least be honest about my offensive feelings since God knows them anyhow. And I wondered, what would provoke me to tell the God of the universe that I was finding him uninteresting, ho hum, nothing to write home about? What brought me to this point? And did I really mean what I said?” more…

In case you are wondering, “Yes you can still be Jesus follower and relate to what Becky is saying.

What could cause this boredom?  (weary, restless, dullness, doldrums, weariness)

Familiarity?

Have you ever had friends or family visit and you become a tour guide and show them all the sights?

Last Fall, my sister and brother-in-law were visiting from England and our trip to Niagara Falls was a real eye opener to me.  My brother-in-law could not get enough of the site he was beholding.  While we were waiting for the People Mover bus he would run down and get a couple of extra glimpses.  The weather was horrid for much of the day but he was fine with getting soaked to the bone just to take in as much as he could.

After you have been to the Niagara Falls enough times it’s just a lot of water falling over a big cliff.   Hard to believe you can feel that way about one of the 7 Wonders of the World but it happens.  When we become familiar with someone or something we often miss the awe and fascination that attracted us in the first place.

“When your spiritual life becomes comfortable and without challenge it becomes a commodity and no longer a spiritual adventure.”  Henri Nouwen

What will it take to move your spiritual life back from a commodity to a spiritual adventure?

Counsellors and Pastors often suggest to couples who feel they are drifting apart they need to go back and begin again those things that held them together in the first place.  This usually involves spending more time together and  communicating more.

How would you judge your time with God these days? Maybe time to start a regular devotional life again.  Start small and build from there.

How about time with God’s people?  Is there a small group you can join?

How about serving in your church or in your neighbourhood?

Make one small change today can you make that will move you from boredom to  adventure?

Photo Credit

11
Jan

Stranded On Highway And He Deserved It

 

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The following story happened to a friend of mine, who does not claim he was innocent in all of this:)

Husbands take note! If you are tempted to get out of your car on a highway in a fit of road rage, beware.  Your wife may just get behind the wheel and leave you stranded.

 

That’s exactly what one unsuspecting husband discovered on his way to work at 7:00 a.m. this past Tuesday.

 

It began when John, a Toronto lawyer, was enroute to a client meeting in downtown Toronto from his Lakeshore Avenue West condominium complex.  John made the mistake of cutting  his convertible in front of an eastbound moving car.  The driver in the car behind him, miffed because of John’s turn, slammed the heel of his hand on the horn and then gestured wildly at John displaying his early morning agitation at this affront.

 

As John entered the Gardiner on-ramp he deliberately slowed down to a crawl causing the driver’s anger to boil even more.  The sound of a blaring horn followed John’s painfully slow ascent up the ramp onto the Gardiner.  Once on the Gardiner, John moved into the center lane merging with traffic. The driver behind roared past John and quickly moved in front of him forcefully slamming on the brakes.  John and all the cars behind him screeched to a stop. 

 

With traffic stopped because of congestion, the driver flung open his door and stomped his way back to John.  John looked up at this well-dressed, handsome gentlemen who began to scold and shout at him telling him that he shouldn’t be driving a standard if he didn’t know how. 

Confused as to why the driver would think John didn’t know how to drive a standard, he looked at the car in front of him.  John was now transfixed at what he saw – movement in the passenger seat – someone appeared to be moving to the beat of a fast-paced song and hands were flailing away.  But wait, no….that wasn’t it.   It was someone climbing over the console into the driver’s seat.  It was the driver’s wife.  

 

She extended her arm out of the car, grabbed the door and slammed it shut.  In awe, John saw her drive off leaving her husband stranded beside him in the centre lane of the Gardiner. By now the congestion had cleared and cars in all 3 lanes were picking up speed.

John then looked up at the highly agitated gentleman and said “Excuse me sir, but you have a far greater problem on your hands.  Your wife has driven off in your car.  I can leave you here or you can get into my car and we can try to catch up with her.”

 

Sheepishly the driver skulked over to the passenger side of car and climbed in.  In a few moments, John had caught up with the driver’s wife who had now pulled over to the side of the highway.  As the unidentified driver was about to get out of the car, John turned to him and suggested that, “Tonight might be a good time to take his wife out to dinner!”

How would you use this as a sermon illustration?

  • You never know how you actions will affect another person
  • Escalating a situation will lead to more trouble
  • Don’t tick off your wife early in the morning:)

Have a suggested use?  Let me know.

Thanks to Norma for the article.

 

Photo credit: …-Wink-… / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)