Saturday, May 30, 2015


by Andrew Cromwell

Don’t do life alone. Not if you can avoid it! 

There is a deep need inside of every human being for friendship. Of course there are people that are genuinely leave-me-alone hermit types. These types (you know who you are), don’t really care for people much and tend to select isolation over human connection. In the most extreme cases — can you say, Ted Kaczynski? — they even turn against their fellow humans.

Hermits and loners notwithstanding, nearly everyone has a deep, ingrained need for contact with others. In the Creation story in Genesis, the Creator God systematically creates the universe and all that is in it. After each instance of creation, He makes a declaration that “It is good.” He creates the sun, moon and stars and declares it good. He makes the earth and oceans, and declares it good. He makes all the animals and fish of the sea and declares them good too. 

Such is the pattern of creation up to and including the creation of man. This is the first time in the story that the Creator says something is not good. You can almost sense the Creator looking down at man and shaking His head and saying, “this guy just isn’t going to make it by himself.” That first man, Adam, needed someone to walk with him, and until he had someone, something was missing.

We all need someone else. Love demands it. Love that is not directed towards someone else is only a half-love at best and at worst it is a selfish love. We say things like, “I love my car”, “I love that tie”, or “I love skittles”, but this kind of love is simply an extension of loving yourself. We like these things because they make us feel a certain way. 

It is even possible to love people in this selfish way. When we objectify people and see them simply as means to the end of self-pleasing, then we have fallen into this trap. Much of the way our culture views relationships is based on this kind of self-love. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we seem to have such a difficult time with enduring relationships. When we discover this person, who we once thought was our perfect mate, begin to act in ways that don’t make us feel good, we start to look for the escape hatch.

Real love, on the other hand, is directed at another person and finds fulfillment in their fulfillment rather than in one’s own fulfillment. This kind of love cannot be experienced with objects. It is the kind of love that requires us to give of ourselves without expecting a return. It puts the other person first and seeks their best.

Doing life together requires us to put others first. When we do so we discover what true companionship means.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Pursuit of Health

by Tim Howard

I don’t know anyone who enjoys being sick but it happens to all of us.
It happens in our physical bodies – It can happen in our minds – It can happen in our emotional being and it can happen in our relationships with each other.

The word health means: "A state of complete physical, mental, and social well being” World Health Organization.  The origin of this word can be traced back to the word: ‘Whole.’

If you have healthy relationships happening, you are being encouraged, and edified because healthy relationships make people whole. True, vibrant and healthy love is a healing love. It helps people in their journey and assists them to find a place of wholeness. Someone said: “Healthy people give rise to healthy people” and “Hurt people – Hurt people.” 

We often take our physical health for granted. As I look back over 6 plus decades I recognize I’ve never had a major surgery and have only visited the doctor periodically. I seem to have a utilitarian body! It may not look all that great but it keeps on ticking and runs like the energizer bunny. When sickness hits and I lose my strength, however, I awaken to a new appreciation and gratitude for a healthy life.

The Bible reveals God as our Healer. In it we find principles on nutrition and if the advice is followed, a person will be led to a healthy style of living that keeps him or her strong and vibrant. God doesn’t eliminate sickness from our human experience but He does have compassion and wants to help us recover our health when it’s lost.

High on God’s agenda is Emotional health, mental health and spiritual health as well as the physical arena. Throughout the Bible you will discover words that provide directions to maintaining a healthy spirit, soul and mind. Here are a few.

1. Make sure you are connected to people in pursuit of health. The individuals you hang with – will largely influence the choices you make and the person you become. No one remains healthy by isolating and removing themselves from others or from connecting with people who have the same shortcomings as themselves.

Finding a healthy church family can assist you greatly. They come in all sizes but don’t be fooled! It’s not the size that’s important - it’s the balanced diet being offered. Bigger is not always better and smaller is not always better. Better is better! I don’t remember who originally said that but it is very true.

2. When you connect with others make every effort to walk in unity. This unity will require a give and take lifestyle. You can’t just think about yourself; you must consider what’s best for the whole. If you follow the Apostle Paul’s advice: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” The door to unity will open a little wider and a healthy atmosphere will be created.

 3 The Apostle Paul says: each person is given different gifts, talents, abilities, perspectives, insights, tastes and those differences are beneficial to the ongoing health of any business, group endeavor, organization, or church family.

Use your gifts and fulfill your responsibilities. Everyone doesn’t need to do everything but everyone does need to do something. Do what you are called to do. Do your part! Don’t let others pull your weight. If exercise is good for physical health then fulfilling your responsibilities will produce a healthy sense of value and self-esteem - for you and others.

I am in pursuit of health. How about you?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Little Things

by Andrew Cromwell

Little things become big things. It is such an obvious observation that I hesitate to mention it. Little children grow up. Little trees become giant towers. Little beginnings often become significant legacies.

Most things are designed to grow. When something doesn’t grow, we automatically search for the reason. This is the nature of things. This is true with living things, but it is also true with problems.

Have you noticed that little problems often become big ones when they are left to themselves? A friend recently shared with me that he ignored a small problem in his car, telling himself it was too expensive to deal with at the moment. Now he’s paying five times that amount in repairs when that little thing became a big thing.

The Apostle Paul said, “A little bit of yeast works its way through the whole dough.” Bakers know that you don’t need to add much yeast, because by its very nature yeast affects everything it comes in contact with. It’s like a single drop of food coloring in a pitcher of water—in just moment the whole pitcher blooms in color.

A local farmer told me about a time he was irrigating. He couldn’t figure out where his water was going. The trees should have been standing in a foot of water, but they weren’t. As he poked around in the mud to try and find out why, suddenly the ground caved underneath him and carried him down the hill. Fortunately he was alright, and he found his water. A little gopher hole had carried it away to a patch of sand where it had quickly been sucked down.

A small engine leak, an unpaid bill, a relationship that is just a little off kilter—all are small things, but they can turn into huge things if ignored for too long. Deal with it now and you save yourself pain and expense later. It’s up to you.

So what have you been ignoring, just hoping that by doing so it will go away? Perhaps it’s time to take your medicine so that you don’t have to swallow the whole bottle later!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Power of Words

by Tim Howard

I grew up in a family of 7 children. When you add a father and a mother to the mix you have a full house. I believe all of us kids felt loved but none of us can remember our father ever saying the words: “ I Love You!”

One of the greatest ways to show care, concern and compassion is by speaking to each other in love and that means more than saying those three little words – ‘I Love You.’ According to Ephesians 4:15 – The Apostle Paul declares: “…speak the truth in love so that we will grow up and look like Christ...”

Speaking is the ‘means’ – Love is the ‘mode’ and truth is the ‘message.’ When you combine these three elements an atmosphere is created, which enables a person to grow up, mature and become the individual he or she was meant to be.

Of course there are many ways of conveying love but words are among the best! Actions may speak louder than words but they aren’t intended to be a substitute for words. It’s not one or the other  - it’s both – Show and Tell! When you show evidence of your concern and then express it through words – love becomes powerful!

A word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change his or her life. A word of encouragement from a spouse can save a marriage. A word of understanding can help a person grow in wisdom and someone who speaks a word of hope can break the spirit of depression.

Words have power! They can destroy or build up. They can bring life or death – heal or hurt – devastate or shape a person’s attitude.

When someone speaks out bitterness and resentment he or she hurts people and when you add a little dab of anger, plus a little dose of hatred you have an explosive combination.  The type that devastates!

On the other hand, when someone speaks a comforting word, an encouraging word or an uplifting word to a person – joy is released, hope is realized and their experience is positive.

James 3:2 -10 “…If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life. A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! 

It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. This is scary: You can tame a tiger but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on.” MSG

Don’t believe the old adage: 'Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me' because it’s not true.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Tomorrow’s Regrets Today

by Andrew Cromwell

All of us deal with regrets. Relationships that ended poorly. Money that was misspent. Promises that were broken. Time that was wasted. Decisions we wish we could take back. People can say they live without regrets, but I am convinced that since no one is perfect, we are all going to have a few.

How do you deal with the regrets in your life? Some say, “just don’t have any regrets!” Which I suppose means that there is no use spending time feeling bad for something you can’t change. What’s done is done. And while we all agree that wallowing in regret doesn’t solve anything, our strategy should be a little better.

As a pastor who counsels people who are dealing with regret and failure, I always remind people that God is a God of second chances. We should receive His grace and forgiveness (which He freely offers), and then we should seek to repair what has been broken or lost (at least for those relationships and situations where we can take that step).

But the best counsel I can give is to encourage people to deal with tomorrow’s regrets today. Steven Furtick says, “today’s excuses are tomorrow’s regrets in disguise.” Most of the regrets we are going to deal with in the future are going to be caused by decisions (or lack of decisions) that we make today.

Just talk to the people who wish they had done things differently. The man with heart disease who regrets that he didn’t take the time to exercise regularly and eat right. The woman who put off having that difficult conversation with her spouse and now regrets that things could have been different. The retired couple who regret not saving a little bit more when they could and now are struggling every day.

All of these regrets could have been avoided. The solution is simple, but it’s not easy. The answer to tomorrow’s regrets is to do the hard things today so that tomorrow will be easier. Instead, we tend to do the easy thing today and put off the difficult thing until tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes, and life just gets harder.

We all have heard the phrase, “pay today, play tomorrow.” But we live by the phrase, “play today, pay tomorrow.” And today’s fun, becomes tomorrow’s regrets. Today’s decisions really do dictate the future for each of our lives.

Jesus said that if you want to build a house, you have to first sit down and make a plan. You have to think about the kind of house you want, where you are going to build it, what types of materials you are going to use, and most importantly, how much is it going to cost. Think of your life as a house. What kind of house are you building?