One of my favorite actors just died. Can’t say that I liked any of the characters he played, but I liked his skill at playing them. For you see, he was especially good at playing bad guys—the kinds you love to hate. I especially remember a particular preacher he played. This “Man of God” had beautiful golden curly hair (of which he was perversely proud) along with his fine clothes and his honeyed and heavenly speech. However, when hallowed things were invoked, it was to serve the preacher’s own purposes (usually self-preservation and self-glorification). And when he spoke of Scripture, it was to justify his sin (or to describe his bowel movements). He was full of himself. It showed. And even though this fact was obvious to everyone, he didn’t seem to notice or care. Outside he was beautiful… inside, he was full of dead men’s bones. He was an empty-talker, a teacher of sordid gain. He professed God with his mouth and then denied Him with his deeds. He was just for show… until he was shot in the back as he ran uphill in chains to get help from his enemies. It was a perfect picture of the life of selfish pretention—running uphill, in chains, after the favor of those who couldn’t care less. Continue reading →
How about your view of yourself? If you are not the star athlete, the top sales associate, the supermom or dad, the greatest [fill in the blank], that does not mean you are stupid, unsuccessful, insignificant, or a failure. Most of us are somewhere in between. Striving for excellence is a process, one that requires pacing and patience. Striving for perfection is insanity and will only make you miserable.
So the next time you hear the statement, “Go hard or go home” consider these alternatives:
Something is better than nothing.
Perfection is not the goal, excellence is.
Excellence is always achievable if you remember that excellence is a process that never ends, requires patience and hard work, and allows for our continual growth, no matter where we are on the journey.
Growth occurs in ebbs and flows. Don’t get discouraged when you get tired, fail to meet preset expectations or disappoint others. Remind yourself of #’s 1, 2, and 3 and keep moving forward. Continue reading →
“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.” – John 12:3-6
I fear that Judas is still with us. He pretends to have concern for the poor, but is really concerned for his bank account or his political power. When giving is local, the money box is small. But as giving moves further and further away (such as from Washington D.C.) the money box gets larger and deeper and more hands can fit into it, and more people are tempted to take too much for themselves. Recently I have heard that only one quarter of every dollar collected by the government to assist the poor actually makes it to the poor. Though I’m not sure if this is true, it is true that while most of the country is experiencing a Carter Era misery index, the City of Washington D.C. is booming. It is rapidly becoming the richest district in the country. Continue reading →
In the summer of 2001, I visited the Philippines. My first day in Manila was spent with the children that roam the streets and tin shanties, along the banks of muddy drainage channels. Their faces were dirty and their hair streaked red-blond from vitamin deficiencies. Though they were very poor, they were friendly and playful. They gathered round me asking questions, wanting to know about me, wanting me to play the street-games they had invented. At dusk I saw how the other side lived, watching a beautiful sunset over Manila from the garden roof of a fancy skyscraper. There were rows of televisions, a large swimming pool and a fine Mongolian Grill restaurant. A rich man sat across from me looking quite pleased with himself, eager for me to get to know him. Between frequent cell-phone interruptions, he told me about the low divorce rate in Manila. He explained the reason… Everybody had at least one mistress. He lived alone in a very nice house. His wife lived somewhere else—but he had his mistresses. As the conversation continued, he wanted me to know the money “games” that he played. It became obvious that, as much as he had, he didn’t have enough. He was jealous of how much more he believed his neighbors had. Continue reading →