Saturday, September 24, 2016

Life in Balance

by Andrew Cromwell

These days is seems the new most popular phrase in the business and government sector is that things need to be “sustainable.” Well, that and “resilient” but we’ll save resilience for another article. The dictionary definition of sustainable is simply, “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.”

It’s a simple concept and applies in almost every area of life. If you are a runner, you know that you have to run at a pace that is sustainable if you are going to finish the race. If you set a pace that is too fast for the length of run, then you will exhaust your energy before you get to the finish line. If you are a lumberjack (or a lumber company), you know that if you cut down more trees than you have land and time to regrow trees, then you will be out of business. And if you are a farmer, you know that you can’t plant more land than you have water to irrigate—it’s not sustainable.

We talk about sustainable business practices. Sustainable water usage. Sustainable environmental policies. Sustainable government spending.

And it’s a good thing! If you pump more water out of the ground than the rain can replenish, then the water table drops and your crops (or you) die. If you overfish the ocean, then you or your children won’t enjoy the incredible variety of seafood we enjoy today. And if you chop down all the forests and jungles, then we’ll burn up sooner than later.

All of these examples are based on the assumption that the world is made up of interconnected systems that are directly affected by how much is pumped, fished, or harvested. For the system to remain healthy, it has to stay balanced. But that doesn’t mean that the system shouldn’t be stressed or challenged. It is very possible to harm the system by not taking enough out of the system, just as much as it is by taking too much out of the system.

For example, the US Forestry service has recognized that some of their policies for forest management have been based on a faulty model that assumes that the way to keep the forest system balanced is to minimize the amount of forest fires. The result has been that in many places the forest has actually become less healthy as a result. Fires that would normally have thinned out the forest and allowed for healthy new growth, have been prevented so forests have become overcrowded and increasingly susceptible to disease and insect attack. As the rangers have recognized this mistake, they are now either starting controlled burns or allowing fires to naturally burn out.

So what’s the point you may ask?

Well here it is. You are also caught in this interconnected web of systems. You as an individual are an organism that must live in balance. You must live life at a pace and in a way that is sustainable. If you don’t, you will become overworked, underproductive, and unhealthy.

This means that you can’t take out more than you put in. This is not only true of things like food—if you don’t eat enough calories to offset the amount of energy expended (which might be a good idea for a while), you will eventually become sick and die of starvation. It is also true of emotional and spiritual food. If you don’t spend enough time caring for your soul and always give out to your spouse, your children, your family and your friends, then you will eventually become sick.

On the flipside, if you don’t ever stress yourself and give of yourself to others, work hard to achieve goals, and generally stretch yourself, then you’ll get sick too. You’ll end up fat and lazy. You’ll run out of energy and you’ll stop enjoying life.

The key is a healthy balance.

So what are you doing to care for your spirit, your soul, and your body? Are you feeding yourself in these three areas? Your spirit needs to connect with Father God. Your soul needs healthy doses of truth, silence and forgiveness. And your body needs some exercise and healthy food. If you don’t put enough in then you’re going to be sick.

Maybe that’s part of your problem!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Who's There?

by Tim Howard

What parent hasn’t played the Knock-Knock game with their children? Come on dad! Come on mom!

Knock-knock. Who’s there? Canoe! Canoe who? Canoe come out and play with me today?

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Moo! Moo Who?. Make up your mind – Are you a cow or an owl? 

Knock-knock. Who’s there? Atch. Atch who? Bless you!
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Boo! Boo who? Don’t cry, it’s just me.

Need I go on? I’m sure you get the picture! One evening at 8:30 pm I heard someone knock on our front door.  As I sat in my chair, I began to wonder who was there – only it wasn’t a game.

Was it someone selling magazines; was it someone wanting to steam clean my carpets or maybe a young child trying to sell candy bars for a school project? The only way to find out for sure was to open the door and invite them in but before opening the door I asked the question: ‘Who’s There?”

The author of Revelation – in the Bible, uses figurative language in chapter 3 when he tells us that God is standing at our door and knocking. He says: “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.”

I can understand why a person would not want to answer the door when someone comes knocking - because more often than not, their desire revolves around themselves and not you.

But what if the person who is knocking on your door has your best interest in mind?

Maybe he or she is knocking to say the windows in your car are down and it’s raining.

Maybe they want to drop of some freshly made tamales for you to enjoy or maybe the person is from Reader’s Digest and wants to inform you that you are the grand prizewinner of the sweepstakes?  Wouldn’t you run to the door and open it?

God doesn’t knock on your door to take anything from you because He already has everything! He doesn’t need what you have!  He knocks on your door because you need what He has!

He knocks because He wants to develop a relationship and share His wealth with you. When you open the door to Jesus, you begin a two-way relationship.  He eats with you and you get to eat with Him.

In 1973 a song called, Knockin' on Heaven's Door, was written and performed by Bob Dylan. It was about a sheriff who had been fatally shot and as he neared death - he began to knock on heaven’s door.

The good news is that you don’t need to be near death or die before developing a relationship with God. He’s reaching out to you right now. But you do need to open the door and invite Him in.

Even though it was 8:30 p.m., I did open the door and invited the couple inside. They declined the offer because it was late but they did give us a delicious loaf of Pumpkin bread –My favorite – because they loved us. Needless to say… I enjoyed the treat! – Great Neighbors!  I was glad I opened the door? 

Don’t miss what God has in store for you.  Open the door to Jesus and invite Him in.  You won’t be disappointed!

Knock-knock! Who’s there? Jesus. Jesus Who? Jesus your Savior… And that’s no joke!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Who Are You Talking To?

by Sylvia Gaston

So much tragedy surrounds us – in our towns and in our country. We lost a community leader to suicide last week, there are natural disasters occurring and racial tensions all around us. You might also be experiencing a personal crisis or challenge at home, school or work.

Where do you turn when you need answers? Who are you talking to?

Usually, our first instinct is to turn to those closest to us – a spouse, a friend or co-worker. We discuss the burning issue and seek input and wisdom. But what if they have none? What if they feel as helpless as you do?

It becomes even more important to us to have answers when others look to us for direction, wisdom, and leadership. What do you say to your kids, spouse or friend when they ask you to help them make sense out of nonsense or chaos?

Who do you talk to?

You can talk to someone who cares very much about your circumstances. You can talk to someone who can provide wisdom and comfort. You can talk to the One who created you and me and this world and everything in it…God.

You may argue, “Why would I talk to God, who allows bad things to happen?”.  But, you see, God did not create our world to be like this. He created us to love and to love Him. God created us with free will and sometimes we choose wrong. To live in a world without evil and wrong would be to live in a world without personal choice. We have invited evil into the once perfect world that He created. In doing so, we live in a fallen world, east of Eden. Paradise has been lost.

But, He is still the wisdom and comfort we need. He can give us comfort and strength to make it through life’s hardships. He can give you peace in place of worry and faith in place of fear.

Jesus said, “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me.” (John 14:1)

Talk to Him. You don’t need to have the words of priests nor the vocabulary of professors. Prayer merely requires a humble heart. Prayer is a conversation with God. He knows you and is longing to hear from you – either out loud or silently. He hears you and you can hear from Him – perhaps not in an audible way but definitely in your heart and mind. You just have to start talking and listening to learn what His voice sounds like inside you.

Where to start? How about with, “Hi, God. It’s me. Here’s what is on my mind. Can you help me out?” or “God, would you please help the hurting families?” or “God, can you show me what I’m supposed to do?”.

He hears you. He loves you. And there will come a day when God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain.” (Revelation 21:3) for those who are with Him in heaven. It starts with a conversation.

Who are you talking to?