Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ten Commandments for Getting Along With People

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."1

Relationships are truly the spice of life. When we get to the end of our life who wants to be the richest man in the cemetery? Not me, but I do want to be rich in loving relationships.

I have no idea who the author is but I have read the following commandments for getting along with people.

1. Speak to people. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.

2. Smile at people. It takes seventy-two muscles to frown and only fourteen to smile.

3. Call people by name. The sweetest music to anyone's ears is the sound of his or her name.

4. Be friendly and helpful. If you would have friends, be friendly.

5. Be cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do is a genuine pleasure [make sure that it is].

6. Be genuinely interested in people. You can find something interesting about every person.

7. Be generous with praise … and cautious with criticism.

8. Be considerate of the feelings of others. It will be appreciated.

9. Be thoughtful of the opinion of others. There are three sides to a conversation/argument: yours, the other person's, and the right one!

10. Be alert to give service. What you do for others is important.2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be a friendly person and a channel for your love to every life I touch. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Jesus in John 13:34 (NIV).
2. Encounter magazine (Australia).

By Dick Innes

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Deeds Undone

It isn't the thing you do, friend, 
it's the thing you leave undone,
Which gives you the bitter heartache, 
at the setting of the sun:
The tender words unspoken, 
to letter you did not write,
The flowers you might have sent, 
are your haunting ghosts at night.

The stone you might have lifted, 
out of a dear friend's way,
The bit of heartsome counsel 
you were hurried too much to say:
The loving touch of a helping hand, 
the gentle and winsome tone,
That you had no time or thought for, 
with troubles enough of your own.

These little acts of kindness, 
so easily out of mind,
These chances to be angels, 
which even mortals find.
They come in night and silence, 
each chill reproachful wraith,
When hope is faint and flagging, 
and a blight has dropped on faith.

For life is all too short, friend, 
and sorrow is all to great,
To suffer our slow compassion, 
that tarries until too late.
So, it's not the things you do, 
it's the deeds you leave undone,
Which gives you a bitter heartache, 
at the setting of the sun.

- Bertha A. Lawson

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Move Your Mind Forward

Whatever you dwell upon in your mind, you give power to. So of course it makes sense to focus on what you want rather than what you don't want. Yet there are many ways in which the things you don't want can sneak into your thinking.

Worry and doubt focus your thinking on what you don't want. Rather than worrying about the bad things that might happen, direct your actions toward making positive things happen.

Complaining can also get your mind sidetracked into thinking about what you don't want. What do you complain about? The things you don't like. Rather than complaining, take action. Action moves you toward what you do want.

Anger is one more way to get your thinking negatively directed. Rather than getting angry about what you don't like, use that energy to give you determination for what you want to achieve.

Keep your mind positively focused on the good things that life can offer. Those things will grow stronger and more abundant in your world.

- Author Unknown

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
- Philippians 4:8

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Butterfly Effect

By Andy Andrews

Not long ago, I finally told the story of when, at the age of twenty-three, homeless and scared, I was given guidance in a most unusual fashion by an old man named Jones.

What the old man told me did nothing less than change my life and my future. He said..."With a little perspective you can live a life of permanent purpose."

When I asked what he meant, the old man answered with a question. "Do you sometimes find yourself unconsciously judging your actions by level of importance?

I frowned a bit, not certain I understood. "For instance," he continued, "the time you spend with friends is important, but the time you spend with family, is more important. You might rank an hour fishing as very important, thirty minutes visiting a sick friend in the hospital much more important than the fishing, and a sixty second conversation with a convenience store clerk as not very important at all."

I nodded my understanding and he returned to his initial point. "When you know that everything matters - that every move counts as much as any other - you will begin living a life of permanent purpose. A life of permanent purpose will make you a better parent, a better spouse, and a more valuable friend. Your productivity and financial success will soar to new heights while the old days of uncertainty, doubt, and depression fade into the past."

Of course, that conversation with Jones changed me. But even more, it became the guiding force that produced the kind of speaker and author I have become. You see, I understand fully that my very value as an author and speaker must ultimately be judged by the success you achieve. And as I consult with companies or speak to organizations and teams, I am keenly aware that much of my client's (your) ability to succeed beyond imagination depends upon my ability to prove this very concept!

When a sales organization sees proof that casual conversations in town matter just as much as an arranged meeting with a major prospect -

When the second string right-guard sees proof that his every action on and off the field, whether he plays or not, is as critical to the team's successful season as everything the starting quarterback does -

When a teenager sees and understands proof that every choice made in leisure today will affect the choices that will be available to him in more pressing times ahead -

When one lives a life of permanent purpose, sales figures soar, team chemistry thrives, and teenage decisions become wiser and more cautious. And these are just a few examples of what will happen...Simply put, when we understand that every action matters, every result of our actions immediately improves!

In these pages, I know you will find hope and direction for yourself, but I am most excited that you will now be equipped to lead others to their own life of permanent purpose! My hope for our families, our places of worship, our businesses, our nation, and our world is an incredible life of permanent purpose that can be achieved when at last we understand: Every move we make and every action we take, matters not just for us, but for all of us...and for all time.


What you just read was an excerpt from Andy Andrews' book, The Butterfly Effect.

Monday, November 14, 2011

25 Books Every Christian Should Read

HarperOne has recently published 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Spiritual Classics, selected by Renovare and a “specially appointed editorial board,” including Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard and Phyllis Tickle.
Renovare has had great success with previous compendiums, such as Devotional Classics and Spiritual Classics.  Their format, followed here as well, is to list the “classic” and then offer an excerpt, accompanied by reflection questions.
In the foreword, Chris Webb, the President of Renovare, admits this particular listing is a huge claim.  After all, are there really any definitive books every Christian should read, other than the Bible itself, and are these those books?
Having compiled a few reading lists myself, most notably in A Mind for God (InterVarsity Press), I found the list interesting:
On the Incarnation - St. Athanasius
Confessions - St. Augustine
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers - Various
The Rule of St. Benedict - St. Benedict
The Divine Comedy - Dante Alighieri
The Cloud of Unknowing - Anonymous
Revelations of Divine Love (Showings) - Julian of Norwich
The Imitation of Christ - Thomas a Kempis
The Philokalia - Various
Institutes of the Christian Religion - John Calvin
The Interior Castle - St. Teresa of Avila
Dark Night of the Soul - St. John of the Cross
Pensees - Blaise Pascal
The Pilgrim’s Progress - John Bunyan
The Practice of the Presence of God - Brother Lawrence
A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life - William Law
The Way of a Pilgrim - Unknown Author
The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky
Orthodoxy - G.K. Chesterton
The Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Cost of Discipleship - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A Testament of Devotion - Thomas R. Kelly
The Seven Storey Mountain - Thomas Merton
Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
The Return of the Prodigal Son - Henri J.M. Nouwen
The list is obviously tilted toward devotional and spiritual classics, as opposed to theological works, and is a weakness.   Considering Renovare’s emphasis, this wasn’t a surprise.  But accepting their emphasis, how could one have Nouwen on such a short list, but not Francis de Sales?  Or in poetry, Hopkins over Blake?  Such choices smell a little trendy.
Of greater issue was their list of highlighted contemporary authors – the “future” required reading, if you will.  Wendell Berry, okay.  But Brian McLaren?  Really?  And isn’t Anne Lamott another trendy choice, but far from a substantive one?  (And I like reading her as much as anyone).
But I welcome any and all such listings, if for no other reason than the ensuing conversation about which books deserve to be on the list.
For a sampling, would any of the following deserve inclusion?
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Martin Luther, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church; The Small Catechism
John Milton, Paradise Lost
William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience
John Henry Newman, Apologia pro vita sua
Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets; Murder in the Cathedral
Simone Weil, Waiting for God
Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find
Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can’t Wait
Solzhenitsyn, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; The Gulag Archipelago
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Of course they would.  And more.  But then again, it wouldn’t be a list of 25.
And perhaps that’s the problem.
Twenty-five books could never begin to reflect what every Christian should read.
But giving credit where credit is due, you could have worse starts.
James Emery White
25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Spiritual Classics, edited by Julia L. Roller (HarperOne).
James Emery White, A Mind for God (InterVarsity Press).

Editor’s Note
To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

The Right Doors Open

You try one door after another, yet no one responds to your résumé. No university accepts your application. No doctor has a solution for your illness. No buyers look at your house.

Obstacles pack your path. Road, barricaded. Doorway, padlocked. Do you know the frustration of a blocked door?

God uses closed doors to advance his cause.

He closed the womb of a young Sarah so he could display his power to the elderly one.

He shut the palace door on Moses the prince so he could open shackles through Moses the liberator.

He marched Daniel out of Jerusalem so he could use Daniel in Babylon.

And Jesus. Yes, even Jesus knew the challenge of a blocked door. When he requested a path that bypassed the cross, God said no. He said no to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane so he could say yes to us at the gates of heaven.

It’s not that our plans are bad but that God’s plans are better.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.

“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8–9 NLT)

Your blocked door doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. Quite the opposite. It’s proof that he does.

Max Lucado

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Heaven Is Beautiful

You may have seen the video of the blind man sitting by the wayside with a sign that said, "I'M BLIND PLEASE HELP." He received very few coins. A lady walked by and, when passing, glanced at the blind man's sign. After taking a few steps, she turned back and re-wrote the man's sign without saying a word and went on her way. Soon endless passerby people were donating coins. When returning, the lady who re-wrote the sign stopped to see how the blind man was faring. He asked enquiringly, "What did you write on my sign?" She simply said, "I wrote the same but in different words." She had written, "IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND I CAN'T SEE IT." Her "vision" changed this man's world and life.

This brings to mind how many people we pass by every day that are totally blind spiritually and cannot "see" Heaven, most of whom don't wear a sign to ask for help, let alone having a sign that says: "Heaven is beautiful and I can't see it."

So let me share with you how God in his Word, the Bible, has painted a beautiful picture of Heaven that the mind's eye, when opened, can clearly see.

No more hunger or sadness: "Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat…. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."1

No more death, grieving, crying or pain: "Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new  earth,' for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.' He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."2

Beauty beyond compare: "The wall [of Heaven] was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

"I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's [Jesus Christ's] book of life."3

Jesus himself made many references about heaven. The Apostle Paul and several of Jesus' disciples also wrote about heaven. In fact, in the New Testament section of God's Word, the Bible, there are 237 references relating to Heaven. There are many more in the Old Testament section of the Bible. Rest assured, God himself repeatedly  validates Heaven.

The critical issue is, are you ready to literally see Heaven from within when your life's journey on earth is finished? God's Word makes it plain that there are only two places where we will spend eternity after death—either with God in Heaven or in Hell with Satan and his evil demons. We need to make sure we make our choice today as to where we want to spend eternity. Heaven is beautiful so make absolute sure you get to see it. To make absolutely sure that you do, be sure to make peace with God today. For help go to:

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, Thank you for the promise in your Word that assures all your true followers that there is a Heaven that is beyond all beauty we can ever imagine, and that because of your free pardon for all my sins you have guaranteed me a home in Heaven to be with you for all eternity. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Revelation 7:16-17 (NIV).
2. Revelation 21:1-4 (NIV).
3. Revelation 21:18-27 (NIV).


Daily Encounter by
Richard (Dick) Innes of ACTS International


It's in the Valleys We Grow

Sometimes life seems hard to bear,
Full of sorrow, trouble and woe
It's then we have to remember
That it's in the valleys we grow.

If we always stayed on the mountain top
And never experienced pain,
We would never appreciate God's love
And would be living in vain.

We have so much to learn
And our growth is very slow,
Sometimes we need the mountain tops,
But it's in the valleys we grow.

We do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing.
My Lord will see me through.

The little valleys are nothing
When we picture Christ on the cross
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan's loss.

Forgive me Lord, for complaining
When I'm feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it's in the valleys I grow.

Continue to strengthen me, Lord
And use my life each day
To share your love with others
And help them find their way.

Thank you for the valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know
The mountain tops are glorious
But it's in the valleys I grow!

- Unknown

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Love versus Obligation

A house is a house is a house-until love comes through the door, that is. And love intuitively goes around sprinkling that special extra that transforms a house into a very special home for very special people: your family.

Money, of course, can build a charming house, but only love can furnish it with a feeling of home.

Duty can pack an adequate sack lunch, but love may decide to tuck a little love note inside.

Money can provide a television set, but love controls it and cares enough to say no and take the guff that comes with it.

Obligation sends the children to bed on time, but love tucks the covers in around their necks and passes out kisses and hugs (even to teenagers!).

Obligation can cook a meal, but love embellishes the table with a potted ivy trailing around slender candles.

Duty writes many letters, but love tucks a joke or a picture or a fresh stick of gum inside.

Compulsion keeps a sparkling house. But love and prayer stand a better chance of producing a happy family.

Duty gets offended quickly if it isn't appreciated. But love learns to laugh a lot and to work for the sheer joy of doing it.

Obligation can pour a glass of milk, but quite often love will add a little chocolate.

- Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What does the Bible say about the end of the world?

The event usually referred to by the phrase “end of the world” is described in 2 Peter 3:10: “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” This is the culmination of the events referred to in the beginning of that verse as “the day of the Lord,” the time when God will intervene in human history for the purpose of judgment. At that time, all that God has created, “the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), He will destroy.

The timing of this event, according to most Bible scholars, is at the end of the 1000-year period called the millennium. During these thousand years, Christ will reign on earth as King in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David (Luke 1:32-33) and ruling in peace but with a “rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15). At the end of the 1000 years, Satan will be released, defeated again, and then cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10). At this point, the end of the world described in 2 Peter 3:10 occurs. The Bible tells us several things about this event.

First, it will be cataclysmic in scope. The “heavens” refers to the physical universe – the stars, planets, and galaxies—which will be consumed by some kind of tremendous explosion, possibly a nuclear or atomic reaction that will consume and obliterate all matter as we know it. All the elements that make up the universe will be melted in the “fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:12). This will also be a noisy event, described in different Bible versions as a “roar” (NIV), a “great noise” (KJV), a “loud noise” (CEV), and a “thunderous crash” (AMP). There will be no doubt as to what is happening. Everyone will see and hear it because we are also told that “the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

Then God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1), which will include the “New Jerusalem” (v. 2), the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness, which will come down from heaven and descend to the new earth. This is the city where the saints—those whose names were written in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 13:8)—will live forever. Peter refers to it as “the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

Perhaps the most important part of Peter’s description of that day is his question in verses 11-12: “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” For Christians, this means we should live our lives in such a way that we reflect our understanding of what is going to happen. This life is passing away quickly, and our focus should be on the new heavens and earth to come. Our “holy and godly” lives should be a testimony to those who do not know the Savior, and we should be telling others about Him so they can escape the terrible fate that awaits those who reject Him. We wait in eager anticipation for God’s “Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).