Vital

  

You are vital to those in your life, you may not realize it, and you may not recognize it, but you are.  Perhaps something has happened that has hampered your self worth.  When your self confidence is at its lowest, and you are weak, temptation whispers, “They only care about what I do, and not who I am.” Today, I wold like to refute that lie, because it can destroy  you if it lingers.

 What you do isn’t separate from who you are.  You are far more to those who care for you than your skills and abilities. Are there some shallow people in the world who are only concerned with their own needs? Yes, but they are not in your core group.  The people who you interact with on an individual level see how important you are to their lives.  

What we forget is the fact that our abilities communicate our feelings.  When a child is born, how does it know it’s loved? Because it’s Mom and Dad feeds, clothes, and cradles them.  As they get older they’ll learn to appreciate their parents for their personalities, but that’s not how we learn.

As a Christian, we were the same way.  We knew God loves us by the act of His death on Calvary.  We learned to appreciate so much more about Him, but it started with the act of the Cross.  The Lord didn’t mind that, He invites us to the foot of the Cross, and walks with us through a life of relationship.

As part of a Leadership team, I can tell you, your Leader values you.  Leaders are fueled by passion, they know firsthand the pitfalls and the heartache of feeling alone, and under appreciated.  They know this because they’ve been there themselves. That is why they invest so in the care of those around them, laboring to ensure we all know how much they cherish us.

That’s what The Lord Jesus did with Simon.  He told Him, prior to the denial, “Simon, the enemy wants to destroy you, but I have prayed for you.” God was saying, The One you saw pray for the leper that was made whole, is praying for you.  The Blind Eye Healer is interceding for you. Jesus, who knew no sin, knew what it was like to feel uncared for, and that was something He never wanted any of us to experience.

Before the rooster ever crowed, Christ spoke to reassure, and to drown out the torment that would echo in Simon’s heart.  “Peter, you will deny me, but it’s going to be okay.”  God knew Peter loved Him for more than what He could benefit from Him. Jesus wanted to remind Simon that He had loved Simon first.  

An even though, after his denial, Simon Peter’s self worth was at Rock bottom, Christ made sure He had hope. After the Resurrection, Jesus told them, “Go tell my Disciples, even Simon”, to meet me.  In other words, It’s okay Peter, I still value you, you are more than your mistakes.”

So are you by the way, whatever action or event has made you doubt your importance to others doesn’t remove you from the hearts of those you love.  Will there need to be repair and restortion in some cases, of course.  That doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed.

Simon was valuable to The Kingdom, not just what He did, but who he was.  An yet, because of who he was, he did what he did.  The same God that loved him, gave him the keys to the Kingdom. You may not think that your abilities are that important to you or others.  Except that God gave them to you, and gave you to those around you.  Don’t let mistakes, events, or a low sense of self worth rob you of your vitality.  

Wherever you are, you’ve been placed there on purpose.  Whatever you do, those skills were given to you by The Master.  Who you are may not look like much to you, but He made you.  God only makes treasures, their value may sometimes be hidden, but He also makes treasure seekers.  Christ placed people in your life to recognize how precious you are, even when you don’t.  The One that journeyed to save you sent others to value you. He sent them to you to accomplish what is vital to their survival, to do the one thing that only you can do.

Rest

  

Psalms 127:2
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

A man, or woman, slips out of bed.  They head to the kitchen, make the coffee, take a comfortable chair, and they wait. They’re in no hurry, they are letting their loved one sleep.  It’s the closest human analogy we can get to this Scripture.


David knew what it was like to lay on the cold, dark, hard floor of a cave.  Many times he had to go to sleep somewhere that night, and flee to another hiding place before the morning light. Even in the scariest of times, he found rest.

The reason for this, The God who’s heart he was after, watched after his. David’s name meant beloved, and God was giving His beloved child sleep in the midst of chaos.  The Lord, who is no respecter of persons, still performs this nightly ritual without fail for us.  Someone even more precious than the Angels watches over our nights. 

When a loved one is hurting, we feel so helpless.  We pray, “Lord, if they could just get to sleep, they’d have rest from their pain.”  He hears, and grants our request, knowing firsthand the power of it.  After all, He created rest with us in mind.

After six days of Creation, the Invincible God wasn’t tired, yet He rested, establishing a principle.  He stayed Himself from activity to illustrate a very important fact.  The God that we love, that made all things, knew we would need rest. It was a physical reference to the rest He wanted to give us through His Spirit.

So many today are hurting, they stay up late trying to figure a way out of their troubles.  We get up early when worry invades our waking thoughts.  However, God has something better for us, in the midst of our battle, no matter what we are facing.  He has established a rest for His people, both a spiritual, and a natural one.  

The Lord knows that every night won’t be perfect, that there would be some sleepless nights.  His beloved David also said that “my sore ran in the night, and I refused to be comforted.”  The Lord realizes there will be sleepless nights, He spent many of them Himself, on earth in prayer.

The Bible talks in many places of The Lord Jesus spending all night in prayer. Was He ignoring His own counsel? No, He was doing in the flesh, what He had always done before becoming a man, prior to wrapping Himself in flesh.  Christ wasn’t missing sleep for His sake, He was praying for us. Just as He interceded for David in the cave, for the Disciples through the storm, and last night for that financial problem you’re facing.  He was working while we were resting.

He also took a nap on the boat when He needed rest.  I submit to you today, there’s no greater place to rest, than on a vessel manned by your loved ones.  He wasn’t worried about the storm, He knew its capacity.  He also knew the boating skills of His Disciples.  

He was on their boat, but they were in His ocean, it would be all right.  Today, rest assured, your Beloved is captaining your boat.  Jesus can still the waters, He made them. 

He let you sleep in this morning, as He sent the moon off to bed, dismissed the nightly stars, and greeted the sun. Whatever you’re facing, trust today that He’ll bring you through. Then tonight, yawn, go to bed, dismiss your worries, and greet your dreams.  He’s blessed you, His precious child, with beloved sleep, and it’s time for a long, quiet rest.

Creativity

Wikimedia Images
Wikimedia Images

The word Creativity is used a lot in this day and age. It wasn’t always the case, Plato said that you can’t say a painter truly makes something, he imitates what he sees. Creativity is a buzz word that sounds good, and it most certainly has it’s place, but I think we’ve forgotten what that place is.

[tweetthis]”He brings order out of chaos, not with the physical world, but in our hearts and minds.”[/tweetthis]


To understand Creativity completely, we must return to the point of first reference, the most brilliant example of Creativity since the world began, the beginning of the world. As a Christian, I believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth in six 24 hour periods. He made the Heavens so He could make the Earth, He made the Earth so He could make man.

The act of creation was used by God as a means to an end. He used it to make man, and then God rested on the seventh day. As grand as the physical Creation was, it’s not something that God intended to on a continual basis. Please don’t misunderstand me, God still creates, but He does it differently.

Today, He creates peace in troubled lives. He brings order out of chaos, not with the physical world, but in our hearts and minds. The physical in the Old was an example of what He hoped to do daily in us. Like the sun and moon, light shines in our hearts, no matter what the season we’re going through, whether sewing or harvest.

Creativity is a servant. It’s meant to produce something, to be relevant, not merely revered. Everything I make may not be life altering, but I do believe that it should be life enhancing. On most mornings at work, I make coffee. It’s not a life altering task, but it most certainly improves my life. It opens my eyes, it clears my throat, and I enjoy it. It has a purpose, it also serves others.

Other acts we perform are much more effective, for example, I process the calculations that pay our Sales Reps. This feeds their families, buys their children clothes, and helps them pay for their car. I don’t create their salaries, do the work for them, or make the deals. I create the spreadsheet that pays them, it’s not a huge act, but it’s a vital one.

What are you doing that you don’t think is making a difference? The feeling of insignificance is felt by people all across the globe. Perhaps the reason for it is that we have a skewed idea of Creativity. We watch a movie and think, “I’d be rich if I could only write like that.” “If I could build that, sing like her, or invent like him we’d be great.” The problem is that we judge our effectiveness in a way that robs us of perspective.

Consider for a moment two famous men, Thomas Edison and Dr. Seuss. One invented the sustainable light bulb system, the other wrote children’s books. In the sense of originality, both were creative. In the sense of value, would you argue one was more effective than the other? All benefited from the electric light, but it’s Dr. Seuss’ Oh The Places You’ll Go that’s read at Commencement Ceremonies.

Your creativity doesn’t have to impact the world to have an impact on others. If you’re doing something, no matter how grand or how small, ask yourself something. Will it help someone in some meaningful way? Will it put a smile on a child’s face? Will it make someone’s day brighter? Will it show God’s love through me somehow? If the answer is yes, then you had better get cracking. Create something, not so people can stare at it in a museum, but so they can use it as a roadmap on their journey to a better life!

1939

  

1939, it was the year that Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Gone With The Wind, and The Wizard Of Oz hit the silver screen.  Batman was created, Hewlett Packard was founded, and Lou Gehrig retired.  Marvin Gaye, Ray Stevens, and Neil Sedaka were born that year; as were John Cleese, Lily Tomlin, and Tina Turner. 


It was also the year World War II started. Hitler invaded Poland, Roosevelt laid the cornerstone for the Jefferson Memorial, and Einstein wrote the letter that lead to the Manhattan Project. This project would see the creation of the Atomic Bomb that would, much later, end the war with Japan.  The same year the problem started, the solution was provided.


It was a year of highs and lows, an illustration of something we encounter every day.  In this life, at any given moment, those around us may be celebrating or hurting.  A loved one may be ill, a very personal financial crisis may be happening.  If we’re not careful, we may be so focused on our own issues, that we may miss a chance to help someone else.


As humans, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own good or bad, that we lose sight of the needs of others.  We don’t intend to, like 1939, there’s just a lot going on.  However just as then, the events of everyday will have lasting impressions on the lives of those around us.  


That year saw one more historical event, the release of the animated short, Peace On Earth. It was a story about rebuilding society based on a Bible found in the rubble of a bombed building.  People were looking for peace then, and they need it today.  


The story wasn’t overly religious or heavy handed, it was simply a message of hope.  If you and I can take a few minutes each day to listen to the needs of others, to share a smile, to bear one another’s burdens, we can make a huge difference.  It will let them know that someone cares.


While their world is crashing down, and problems are invading their lives, they’ll know they can make it. They’ll realize they are not alone.  It may not be as simple as clicking together ruby slippers, but with the help of friends, they can make it down that yellow brick road.  


Whatever you’re facing this morning, take heart that God has placed people in your life who care.  As that alleviates your worries, help today to ease someone else’s burden.  You don’t have to rescue them, or solve all their problems, you just have to show them they matter.


1939 was a golden era in one sense, and the start of a horrible tragedy in another.  Even then, heroes rose up to defy Hitler, and countries began the March to freedom.  You and I have a mission today, to better someone’s day.  One kind word may be the first step which turns a tragic day into the start of something beautiful for those around us.

Getting Along With People

  

Getting along with people has been the secret of great leaders throughout history.  Lincoln was famous for surrounding himself with men that started out as rivals, and became committed friends. I believe that there are three keys to working with people.

 First, and least important, is a common goal.  It’s the thing that brings individuals together, the incentive that makes them want to be a team.  In some cases, it’s noble, like winning a war, in others it may be for a common profit.  Either way, it’s the binder, the starting point, the mutual thread.

Second is patience.  To be blunt, for you to get anywhere in life, you’ll need to learn this most annoying of attributes.  It’s helped by the first element, but it has to go beyond that.  The Scripture says that tribulation produces patience.  I’m here to tell you, any great team, will have it’s share of both.

A combat unit isn’t a team until they’ve went to battle together.  A sales force is just a group of employees, until they’ve met the first quota together.  Lincoln’s cabinet argued less as the smoke of battle lingered.

Patience reminds you, you need each other.  In order to have one another, it requires give and take.  Some days, you’ll take more than you give, but don’t worry, they’ll take more from you than you will realize.  

Anger will say, walk out, but patience will whisper, there’s a sniper on the other side of the door. The fact is, you can’t get where you need to go alone.  If Abraham Lincoln realized he needed opponents like Secretary Seward on his side, how much more do we need our friends and co-workers?

Finally, that brings us to the greatest secret of all, loving those who are part of your team.  You fight with family members, siblings argue, brothers blacken eyes, but then they hug.  You don’t abandon those that you care about.

I do my best, the moment any argument arises, to table my response.  I don’t ignore my emotions, but I work through them silently, processing in my head.  Listening to the stupidity of my own anger, reminding myself of how much the other person means to me.  

When we’re hurt, we can be irrational.  All we see is our injury, and that type of tunnel vision can destroy relationships.  I’ll say it again, I’m at least smart enough to know that when I’m hurt, I can say stupid things.  So it’s best to keep them unsaid, for everyone’s sake.

There will be time for discussion, but to be fair, many arguments can be avoided.  Ask any couple that has been married for any length of time and they’ll tell you. You pick your battles. Most of the time, you don’t have to prove your right, you don’t have to be justified. 

When goals aren’t enough, and patience wears thin, love overlooks. It reminds you, yes you’re mad, maybe even rightfully so, but you love this person.  Love says I’m angry with you, but I won’t leave without you.

Will you be hurt, betrayed, stabbed in the back along the way? Yes, but that will happen anyway.  You can’t isolate yourself from pain, but if not careful, you can alienate those you love. Loving people is the only way to be truly successful in any walk of life.  

Getting along with people will start with a common destination.  You’ll have to be patient as you go.  At times, it won’t be enough, but then you’ll look over at your friends.  You’ll remember how much they mean to you, and you’ll hold each other as you cross the finish line together.

The Resistance Symphony, An Allegory

The Resistance SymphonyYou never know what an act of bravery will do until you commit to it.  The lives you saved may not be your own, but in the process, you will rescue yourselves through salvaging others.  Today, find a way to impact a life, you may be surprised one day when the live you saved repays the favor.

This afternoon, we present something different,  it’s an allegory about bravery in the midst, and not the absence of fear.  We hope you enjoy “The Resistance Symphony”.

Hans Strauss put down the violin. “It isn’t right, the tempo is all wrong.” He picked up the clarinet and attempted the same melody. “One note more, that’s all that’s left, but how to do it?” “You’ll figure it out, we have to.” Hans rubbed his eyes. It was four in the morning, he and Sarah were tired, and scared.

He looked at his beautiful Sarah, her hazel eyes, her soft dark brown hair.  He had to protect her, to find a way to save their lives in the midst of rescuing the others. If the Germans knew what they were doing, or who they really were, they wouldn’t even make the stage.

Instead, they thought they were the upstanding French composer and his wife. His parents had hid his Mother’s Jewish heritage years ago as a precaution when moving to France. He had hid Sarah’s lineage as well.  They knew firsthand the bigotry some were capable of.

Hans and his wife were not content to sit and do nothing when Hitler invaded France. They joined the underground, working in plain sight, under the German’s noses. Hans was in no shape to fight physically.  He was a short, dark haired, pudgy man with weak green eyes, but he could conduct.

At first, it was a small message here or there through a performance. Instead of the traditional arrangement, Hans made slight changes that everyone assumed were creative interpretation.  The first piece was Beethoven’s ninth symphony.  The Colonel, the local German representative even complimented him on the original arrangement.

Roland Aumont, the instrument maker, had several sons. Roland was an old man, his balding head clinging to a few brave white hairs.  His gray eyes were as sharp as his mind, he made a brilliant smuggler.  Hans would pass the code key to his friend, and a new musical instrument would be delivered in the country. In it was the way to read the message that enabled the underground to understand what Hans’ subtle musical changes were communicating. A troop movement, an attack plan, whatever it may be, they would know.

Hans obtained the information about the German’s movements through his best student, Wilhelm Kahn, a clerk in the Vichy government. Wilhelm was also a member of the resistance. He wasn’t as physically unintimidating as Hans, but he flew under the radar.  The blonde haired, blue eyed young man seemed a perfect fit to the Nazis, little did they know that he couldn’t stand anything they stood for.  Wilhelm would obtain as much information as he could safely, and pass it to Hans. Thy had developed a method all there own.

To the untrained ear, Wilhelm would make errors while practicing, and Hans would correct. Then he would record his student’s progress, just as he did the rest of his pupils. This way other students, like Colonel Ludvig Apfel, wouldn’t overhear anything. In reality, each mistake was a message that Hans recorded.

Apfel hid his violent temper through a calm and friendly appearance.  When it suited him, he would allow flares of anger to show behind the mask.  This was a far less messy way of wielding power over those around him.  His dark cropped hair, blue eyes, and rigid countenance added to his reputation.  He was compared to a smoldering gun, it could fire at any unexpected moment.

Hans would broadcast the information to the resistance through the symphony’s performances. A member of the resistance, unknown to all involved, was present in the audience.  All went well until a message came that was too big for Hans to adapt a piece of music. He had hurriedly requested permission from the Colonel’s cultural oversight department to perform his own symphony.

Apfel, a lover of music,  agreed enthusiastically. He assumed this was a piece that Hans had perfected over years of composing, it wasn’t. It was an entire symphony that he had to write in four days. “I hope it will be entertaining Hans. I expect nothing less than great if you intend to perform it for us.” “Us Colonel?”

“Yes, Major Mueller of the SS will be in attendance. I received a communique this morning, it was unusually short notice, but not unheard of.  He has business that has brought him to Paris. Goodnight Hans.” “Goodnight Colonel.”

Sarah waited in the kitchen until he was gone. “Can you do this Hans? Isn’t there another way?” “I’m afraid not my love. If I do not succeed, hundreds in the underground will die. We must warn them that a major attack is coming. We must let them know without the Germans guessing.”

He wrote feverishly, then rewrote every note. Two days later, it was at least ready to run through with the orchestra. Hans would conduct, adjust, rewrite, and conduct again. It was almost comical as the violinist’s part tripped over the cello’s cue. The clarinet’s played when the drums were supposed to come in.

Hans wanted to burst into tears, but he could not. He would sigh, alter, and begin again. All he wanted to do was for he and Sarah to escape to America. Hans was resolved, “After the war, we will go and forget.” Many times he had questioned if he had made the right choice.

The night of the performance, everyone important person was there, including those who would communicate Hans’ message. The Colonel found Hans before the performance. “I have a surprise for you Herr Strauss. I have been persuaded by Major Mueller to authorize a broadcast of the music across France.

Hans was ecstatic inside, but he dared not show it. “Thank you sir! The musicians will be nervous, I hope we will not let you down.” The Colonel’s eyes turned cold. “As do I Herr Strauss, as do I.” That killed any excitement Hans had felt a moment prior.

“Herr Strauss, I am Major Mueller. The Colonel has shared with me your brilliance. I too am a student of music, might I have a copy of your music … as a souvenir?” “Why of course.”  Hans had to force his hand not to shake when he handed him the copy.  Mueller gave him a strange look, but surely he hadn’t noticed anything.

Mueller was taller than himself or the Colonel.  That wasn’t hard considering that Hans and Apfel were short men.  Mueller, at six foot three towered over the two five foot seven men.  His hair was slicked back to the point of seeming greasy. As a good soldier, his brown eyes seemed focused on everything around him.

Now, on top of everything else, Hans had to worry about Mueller.  ‘Would he see the pattern?’  ‘How could he get Sarah to safety before the symphony ended?’  He stepped into his private dressing room and splashed water on his face.  He looked out at his city through the window.  “A tour, yes, a tour. If we survive tonight, we’ll escape tomorrow.”

It felt as if it were the longest walk that Hans had ever made, but he made it.  He took his position, lifted his baton, and begin to conduct.  The symphony built slowly to a swell, then began to filter off as strings of lighter elements played in tandem.  The melody was strong, then subtle, then surprising.  He had built in at least two swells, and ended with a crescendo.

Everyone applauded at it’s completion.  The Colonel and Major Mueller were the first ones to reach Hans.  He told himself that they hadn’t expected anything, but he was nervous nonetheless.  “Wonderful Hans, wonderful!  How I wish they could hear this in Berlin, live I mean.”  “Perhaps we could make a trip there, my Wife and I.  If I could be allowed to conduct the orchestra there, a special performance.”

Major Mueller spoke.  “You would do that?  I’ve seldom seen a musician willing to leave Paris.”  Hans tried to balance his response.  “I love Paris, but this could open up a new level for me.  My own symphony, it’s opens up new possibilities you see?”

The Major answered slowly.  “Yes, yes I see.  If the Colonel will arrange it, I am returning tomorrow on the train.  You and your wife will be my guest.  Goodnight Herr Strauss.”  Hans blood ran cold, what had he done?  His Mother’s old saying about out of the frying pan and into the fire came to mind.  Now what would he do?

His plans were compromised, he would have to make arrangements.  Could Sarah fake an illness?  ‘Then she would at least be safer in Paris wouldn’t she?’  No, he had to get a message to the underground, they must help.

All this flooded his mind as people congratulated him on his triumph.  He hadn’t noticed Wilhelm and Roland until they were in front of him.  “My friends, join Sarah and I for a late supper… In celebration, please.”

The two agreed and made their way to Sarah and his home.  Hans went through his problem almost as soon as the doors were shut.  “You must help us.  My intention was to disappear on the train, we cannot risk Berlin.”

Roland looked at a box on the fireplace.  “Hans, have you always had this box?” “Yes, but what does that matter?”  “Tell me, do you know what it is?”  “Yes, A box!”  “No, it’s a puzzle box.” Roland pushed the side to reveal a small empty compartment.

He looked at his friend, “Do you see?” “Yes, but how?”  “There isn’t time, but Hans you must trust me.  It will not seem good at first, you must trust me.” “Yes of course. “You will meet me at the station tomorrow.  I’ll have a very special suitcase for you.  Tomorrow night at 6:00, push it just as you saw me push this one.  Hope will be there.”

Hans and Sarah hurriedly packed everything, and anything they thought they would need. They went to bed, but neither slept. Roland met them at the station the next morning.  Hans lowered his voice.  “Can’t you tell me?”  “No, for your own safety, I cannot, but when it happens, trust me.”

They boarded the train, and were shown to a private car.  Major Mueller met them.  “Ah, Herr Strauss, I see you are early.  We must eat lunch  this afternoon. I wish to hear your views on Wagner.”  “Very good sir, thank you.”

Hans had put off the lunch using the excuse his Wife was ill.  He checked his watch more the closer six o’clock came.  Finally, he and Sarah went to the suitcase and pushed the button. In it, was a small statue of a blind woman.  Just after he opened it, there was a policeman at the door of the carriage. “Stop!  You are under arrest, this was reported stolen last night.”

Major Mueller was with the policeman.  “The Inspector contacted me on the train.  He asked if anyone had planned a sudden exit from Paris.  I told them about your idea.  Though I didn’t figure you for a thief.”  Inspector Chastain, a very plain looking, gray bearded man, finished the interrogation.  “It was reported stolen from the museum last night.  I suspect that is why you wanted to leave so quickly.”

Major Mueller looked at them. “What is your plan Inspector?”  “They will exit the  train with me, and we will take the necessary steps to return them to face justice.” Mueller started to laugh.  “Somehow I think justice for them involves an unnamed couple boarding a train for somewhere far from either Paris or Berlin.  I thought you were no Inspector, but I had to be sure.”

“What makes you say that Herr Mueller?” Hans said attempting to act indignant. “You’re not that good an actor my friend. Fortunately for you, I am.  My name is Captain Maurice Cerf of the French resistance. You’ll be safe soon.”

Hans sat down quickly.  “How?”  “You’re last piece was almost discovered. I volunteered to rescue you.  We hadn’t figured out how I would get you both out of Paris though, so I must thank you for that.”

Sarah spoke, “Roland and Wilhelm, what will happen to them?”  “Roland left this afternoon for Switzerland.  A cousin, long dead, was reported ill.  His family is safe.  Wilhelm eloped with the girl that dumped him two days ago.  Her Father said that they would have gotten back together anyway, but a trip to England sped up the reconciliation.”

“They were just allowed to leave?”  “Yes, you see The Colonel’s letterhead was used.  Of course he didn’t write it.  The Colonel took to his bed after a late dinner.  Something in his drink made him sleepy.  I expect he’s waking up about now to fill the cords around his wrists, and the handkerchief in his mouth.”

“I was an actor before the War.  I have excellent penmanship.”  The fake Inspector Chastain spoke. “I’ve heard of you Captain, though we’ve never met.  You’ve saved a great many lives today.”  “Not as many as Hans.  We had no idea the Germans were about to attack.  Early reports indicate it would have crippled the resistance, but when they acted this afternoon, we were already relocated.”

“Thank you Captain for my Wife and my safety.”  “You are welcome, and thank you.  Would you remember your performance of the ninth symphony and its message?” “Yes, it was actually the first recorded message that I sent.”

“It was also the one that saved my life.  I was on the run from a mission gone wrong.  My instructions were to make it to a safe house a few miles away.  About a mile before the farm house, the resistance members met me.  They had been warned that their position was exposed.”

“Within minutes of meeting them, we heard the explosion.  Had we been there, all of us would have been lost, including the woman that I later married.  You see, I had to save the life of you and your wife sir, to repay the favor.”  The two men shook hands.

Hans remembered that day, he was so scared that he had entertained thoughts of not going through with it.  He knew though, lives would depend on what he did.  What he never considered was that very act would save his family’s lives.

Prior to leaving the train, Cerf asked Hans. “What will you call your new symphony?”  Hans laughed. “We have resisted fear and force to do what is right, regardless of the consequences.  So what else could it be called?  The Resistance Symphony.”  The Captain returned his grin, “Viva La Resistance!” “Ouis, Viva La Resistance!”

Hans and Sarah escaped first to Switzerland, and then to America safely.  They raised four children there.  Captain Cerf and his wife went on to live long and peaceful lives in Paris.  Roland and Wilhelm immigrated to Canada where they enjoyed watching their families prosper.

One of the greatest symphonies ever composed is that of a family who love each other.  Regardless of the noises around them, they are blessed by God to make a beautiful harmony, that is volumes above the sounds problems make.  Don’t allow the distractions of everyday to mute the melody of those you love.  Instead, of focusing on the fight, celebrate the music!

 

 

 

Routine Improvement

Wikimedia Image
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A routine is a series of actions regularly performed. It can refer to everyday life, a computer program, even a comedy act. Great comedians have built careers on famous routines. It will begin as a habit, but it will give birth to so much more. A routine is a pattern that produces something that is enhanced through repetition on a continual basis.

Some people’s routines are much different than others. The race car driver routinely goes faster than the average driver because of his vocation. He didn’t always do that, but it has become part of his routine. Over time, the speed at which he’s comfortable will advance, as does his skill.

In other words a person can develop things, that over time, cause them to regularly perform the extraordinary. Winning fights that would cripple others is routine for ultimate fighters. When we hear the word routine, we think of monotonous actions. Yet we can forget that repetition in exercise builds muscle, practice enhances a musician’s skills, and repetition improves the speaker’s delivery.

Routine can either be boring or life altering. It all depends on what your routine is. Are you wanting to learn a new skill? A language, a craft, or a new career? If so, the old proverb says that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

No matter how far away your goal, you need to ask yourself this. Is it impossible, or improbable? Is it achievable? If not, it’s a pleasant dream like Tom Sawyer’s pirate raft. If it’s reachable, you can take a seat with Walt Disney.

What he achieved was highly improbable, building an empire on a mouse. He went bankrupt three times, and had to ask his brother’s help. Together they achieved what appeared to be a very unrealistic vision, what’s your improbable dream?

Once you determine that it’s doable, is it worth it? Will the commitment needed be worth the results? If the answer is no, discard it, and look for a new project. If the reward will add true value to others, will make you a better person, and inspire hope, go for it.

Start by finding a routine way to learn your skill. Routine improvement comes from repetitive practice. Magicians set with cards in their hands, absentmindedly doing moves until they’re automatic. Find a way to turn your desire into a habit, your habit into a routine, and your routine into a pathway. Once you’ve arrived, share your journey, and teach others about your routine.

Watches

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The picture you’re seeing is of the oldest known watch, dated 1530, viewed on this week’s Watch.  The last two weeks, two very important, precise timepieces have taken center stage.  If you’re like me, you’ve been a fan of watches since you were a kid. Back then, pocket watches fascinated me.  

Today, my iPhone is my pocket watch, I check the time regularly.  A thought struck me last night that I never remember thinking before.  “Why is a wearable clock called a watch?”  According to my research, it comes from either the instruments used by English watchmen, or by sailors who used them to time the length of their shift, or watch.

The instrument became named after the action.  God commanded us, as Christians, to watch and pray. Of course this week, a lot of us maybe praying for the money to purchase a new Watch.  I don’t say that just to be funny, nor to be offensive, but to make a point.

Fans like me are hoping to purchase an expensive item that, among other things, tracks something freely given to all.  Time existed before the fall of man, we know this because a day itself is a period of time.  The Lord created the world in six days.

This week it was the Watch, but last week a much older clock was positioned on the world’s stage.  The nation of Israel’s Prime Minister warned against a threat to the nation’s very existence. Christ however will not allow anyone to destroy His people. They will face trouble, but will eventually prevail.

We may spend a high price to obtain a smart watch, but God has spent all of history, working to redeem His people.  As the seconds tick down on the most accurate of clocks, it would do us all well to pay attention.

When referring to the fig tree, a reference to Israel in the New Testament, The Lord Jesus gave a command.  It was simply to watch and pray.  He was giving a twofold message.

One was for His Church to watch, and pray to be ready, for His coming.  The Scripture says to those that look for Him will He appear.  He is coming for a people that have made themselves ready.

The second was that as sure as Israel exists, God will fight for them.  They may not currently recognize The Protector of their soul, but they will, and He will split Heaven and Earth to rescue them.  Let me encourage you all today, watch and be ready for The Lord Jesus’ return, and pray for the peace of Israel.

MENTO(R)

There is a famous line in an episode of the television show Friends.  One character ignorantly uses the word Mento instead of the word Mentor.  It’s a very funny line, but the point he was trying to make is very important.  The only difference in the two words in English is the letter r.  So today I ask, are (r) you being a mentor to someone?
Before you answer, let me guess, your sentence starts with the phrase, “But I’m not a …” , or “I’m just a …”. I know how you feel, however, I also know this, you know something.  
I’ve heard bakers talk with great reverence about the men who taught them how to make a cake, or to decorate it.  Actors have been in awe of other actors who were teaching them how to pretend to be someone else. At face value, it might not seem as important as public office, or as noble as military service, except for one thing.
Baking great cakes fed that man and his family.  Winning an Oscar may not have brought peace to a country, but the grips, gophers, and stunt men paid their mortgage.  All because someone realized that they had a craft, a skill, some piece of wisdom to pass on to others.
If your favorite former President spent two hours with a group of people, imparting all they knew about being President, how many would follow in his direct path?  Oh, the information would be useful, but it probably wouldn’t guarantee occupancy in the White House. The baker’s skills would be more applicable than the former President in this case.  
What are you skilled at that might help others feed their family?  What can you do that might keep a teenager off the streets and give them a better future?  You and I may never be able to teach physics, but we can teach something.  From painting to plumbing, we all have skills of some kind.  
The great ones in any industry, whether it was with a pipe wrench or a paint brush, taught others how to do what they knew.  Making a difference isn’t about single handedly changing the face of a nation, it’s about changing the face of the one that is in front of you.
Find an outlet to teach, look for a way to reach, evaluate what you know.  Pull out your mental toolbox and see what items you have that can build a vehicle for someone else.  None of us are void of the ability to do something, therefore none of us are limited from impacting others.
Once you realize your own abilities, then you’ll be ready when an opportunity to share with another reveals itself.  Joey, the character in Friends may not have had the right word, but he did have the right idea. One is a sugary item of little substance, the other brings about sustainable transformation.  Are we a mento or a mentor?

Songbird

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Psalms 11:1

1  In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

There are over 4,000 species found all over the world, according to scientists.  We call them songbirds, those small beautiful delicate creatures that produce a wonderful song.  They are not as mighty as the eagle, but they were made by the same hand.

At this point in David’s life, he probably felt more like a bird in the hand than a raptor in the sky.  Chased, hunted, and despised by the very person who benefited from the melody. Saul of all people knew David’s worth, and yet he wanted to silence the music.

What Saul ignored was the fact that David’s song wasn’t made solely for Saul. Oh he benefited from it, but David’s lyrics were made for a far greater purpose. His songs were to worship The God that preserved the Psalmist wherever he went.

God created you for His glory, others will benefit from it, but they’re not the reason. So when those you work with, witness to, and serve attempt to hurt or silence you, take heart.  They are recipients, but they’re not The One that validates you.

The Creator gave you your melody, and like the songbird, He placed His people throughout the world.  The darkest corners are illuminated with the song of the redeemed.  If they cannot silence you, they’ll at least try to stifle you, but they’re not the source of your melody.

Your song comes from the same hand that gave the eagle his mighty wingspan.  The One that gave the Owls their sharp talons gave you something far greater. A praise for The God that spread His wings all the way to a mountain called Calvary to give us a place of refuge.  You don’t need the bird of prey’s talons, because The God Of Armies fights your battles!

Keep on singing, continue to brighten the day of others with your music.  They may not always appreciate it, but they’ll benefit from it. Either way, whatever they choose to do with it doesn’t matter, they’re not who it was made for.

The old lyric says He woke me up this morning, and started me on my way, Thank You Lord for a brand new day.  As sure as the day dawns, the songbirds will sing, it’s what they were made to do.  You and I were made to honor Our King, regardless of obstacles. The song that beats in our chest will not be silenced by man, but it will be corroborated, sustained, and defended by The Master!