The Power of a Connection

There are times in life when all seems Connected, or Not.

I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, a mechanic – good, bad, or otherwise! Though there are times I enjoy tearing into something to repair, most of the time I do a poor job of it, or I do not have the tools and expertise to do it well.

A few years ago, while enjoying my trusty riding mower that gets me through 3-4 acres of mowing between April and July, it just decided to quit advancing. The engine was running, the mower blades were spinning, but the gas pedal felt like it had disconnected from the rod/spring that caused it to make the engine accelerate.

Eventually, I had to push it a distance to the garage so that I could check it out.

After several days of busy schedule and procrastination, I finally removed the mower deck, got my trouble light and looked for the problem. Even with the engine running, everything seemed to be doing fine – except for that missing connection that caused the mower to advance. All the rods and springs seemed to be in the proper place. There did not seem to be anything missing or wrong…

Until…I finally considered that it might be a belt. Either broken or it might have slipped off the pulley. Perhaps that was the cause… The issue… Voila! The belt was not wrapped around the proper pulley. Somehow it can jumped off the pulley and my large hands could not squeeze into the problem area and re-route the belt into the proper path. I could not connect, no matter how hard I tried.

I’m going through a similar problem with my orange tractor. The problem is different, but the affects are the same – I’m stranded and not able to mow.

Somewhere along the way each problem left me feeling disconnected, and somewhat useless.

What do you do when you feel disconnected? Maybe you assumed the connections were there, but somehow they have slipped out of your hands! The connection is broken! And maybe no one but yourself can see it. No helping hand reaches into your world to help mend the broken pieces. You are all alone. By yourself. Facing life.

Maybe your disconnect is from reality, or your family. Maybe it’s even your career and the ability to make a living. Nothing seems right. Everything seems wrong.

I recently felt this way. I’m not sharing the event, or the situation, but I felt so disconnected from a particular thing that I normally feel really good at. Looking back I can name some of the reasons for that feeling, but it is only speculation as to the “why” and with no real clear answer how to fix the “what” so it does not happen again.

The action of unplugging from the world around you can happen in an instance. It’s good for me to live out in the country. There is generally a “downtime” of disconnecting from the city, a welcoming to my quiet lifestyle, and a re-charging that I get from my home. The reverse is also true – there is a connecting feeling I get when I am headed into town.

Connecting and disconnecting are good for the soul and mind, but being on the wrong side of the coin at the most inopportune time can really try your mind. You ask the question, “Where did I go wrong?”

I have been in a moment of joy, perhaps enjoying friends and family, and something triggers and all of a sudden I must escape the moment and get away from it all. It’s not a gradual thing. It’s instant. Right now. Almost like pulling the plug… The obverse is also true. You can feel disconnected from someone or something, and then something triggers and all of a sudden you are instantly in gear and in full speed motion!

There might not be any tried and true answer for this, but let me share with you that this happens to EVERYONE. What makes an athlete really good in this event but really bad in the next one? Or, replace the word Athlete and put in your own “fill in the blank” and ask the same question.

John Denver sang a song many years ago with this phrase:

Some days are diamonds some days are stones
Sometimes the hard times won’t leave me alone
Sometimes a cold wind blows a chill in my bones
Some days are diamonds some days are stones

Sort of makes me think about some days are full of sunshine, and others are simply cloudy. Some days are good, some are not. Some events work, others do not.

Sometimes you Connect, and sometimes you do not…

One last thought and I’ve returned to it over and again. There are many prodigals out there who have disconnected from their previous life. Perhaps there is a feeling that it’s time to reconnect. Listen to me. It’s all about you making a move. Just like that young man in scripture.

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ‘ (Luke 15:11-19 NKJV)

The power to reconnect was in his hands, and then in the hands of his father. Both wanted it. Both needed it. Daily the father waited for that time when he would see his son come home. Go ahead… Read the story of connection. There’s value here!



Flash Thoughts

It is an inevitable event for me…

LighteningThroughout the day, watching, reading and listening to all the inputs available, my mind will seize a thought and I am quick to enter the rabbit trail that causes me to lose my focus on the present event!

There. I’ve admitted a failure. A foible. (Stop. Go look that word up.) See. If you are anything like me then you stopped and considered “how” the author is a failure. By the way, what does he mean by failure? And he has a foible? What does that even mean? When’s the last time I’ve heard or used this word in modern times?

The Apostle Paul told us to bring into captivity every thought (II Corinthians 10:5), albeit for a different purpose. And those teachers of yesteryear tell you to quit “day dreaming” and focus on the subject at hand – which is important! Especially if they are teaching you to drive a car! Or fly an airplane! Or shoot a gun!

While attending a men’s conference a few months ago, a friend of my was speaking and pouring into my heart and mind many one-liners and thoughts that flashed through my brain. Threatened to be persuaded to diverge my attention, I began jotting these “Flash Notes” down and have referred to them a number of times since then.

Another friend, sitting nearby, asked if these notes would ever have the impact I felt at f that moment of recording. I realize the moment is fresh, and the thought is a burner, but in hindsight the recorded words may not make the impact like I felt them in that moment.

Social media is a horrible medium for Flash Thought personalities! The variety of directions one can go might be counted in the hundreds and thousands of exit points. Flash Thought! There goes my mind into research mode and before you know it, I have written several paragraphs about the subject.

It happened a few moments ago, hence the purpose of this blog posting.

Between languages, ancient and new, how do we know that the word translated into English from one language has the same meaning as the word from a totally different language?

Pick on the word Grace. In the New Testament, much of it from early Greek or even Aramaic, the word is loosely translated as “unmerited favor”. Then the Old Testament has the same English word translated from a series of Hebrew words that can essentially mean “kindness, or favor”.

Both depend on how you find the word in the sentence being translated.

But merrily down the path we assume that they both equal the same thing. This is not necessarily true. Think about “snow“… In English it’s that single word that refers to fluffy white stuff falling from the sky, as well as that hard packed stuff that compresses on the ground. Different results of the same word. And yes, the Eskimo have over 50 words to describe snow. (Click Here)

We struggle with English being a hard language to learn. Even if you have lived with it all your life. But imagine someone from another language group attempting to pick up our language without training! So, perhaps the truest sense of a word needs to be grasped by it’s intended use.

Noah found Grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8), as compared to Jesus being full of Grace and Truth (John 1:14). Some may assume that Noah was full of Grace, but the scripture only shows that the Lord showed him Favor. Why? This is the crux of my thought this morning. I do not have time to spend poking through his recorded live and can only make a Flash Thought Note for future reference. Can I find something in him that allows God to give him Favor out of all the others on the face of the earth in a desperate time?

After all, Noah did something that allowed him to be a recipient of Grace, while Jesus is describe as being full of Grace, and Truth. This makes Noah a unique personality in his day. When all of humanity was out of control (Genesis 6:1-7), something about Noah cause God to show him Favor. What was it?

This is how a Flash Thought becomes a deep theological study. Had any Flash Thoughts lately?

When I Was a Kid – Vacations

Most of our family vacations seemed to revolve around Family.

Carlsbad CavernsTraveling to where other family lived, we would hang out with them for a time and then return to normal lives back home.

Kentucky was a favored place, as my cousins had a lot of acreage, farm animals, huge barn, and a huge farm house! There were experiences here that were different than other places we may visit. Several places in East Texas were enjoyable and normally revolved around lakes, woods, BB guns, camping, bikes and varied motorized vehicles – go cart, trail bike, and even the family auto.

But there were a few times I remember enjoying that did not involve other family members.

  • Train trip to Dallas and going to Six Flags! Huge memories of first time on the train from downtown Houston.
  • Stay-cation that involved daily trips to the beach in Galveston and the Zoo in Houston. The sunburn at the first made the next stop a painful memory!
  • Camping at Garner State Park one Easter, especially, and finding Easter Eggs around the camp site. I remember it being cooler than normal and the park was emptier than I’ve ever seen it!
  • Trip to Monterrey Mexico not long after getting my drivers license, or at least my learners permit. It was not the most pleasant of trips because I was in love with a girl back home! But we did enjoy the stay in Monterrey. Huevos Rancheros! First time I ever remember seeing them! Glass Blowing. That guide that drove our car and toured us around town! Don’t drink the water, but bottled Cokes were just fine!

Finally, a huge memory was taking that 1964 Ford Galaxy Custom on a driving trip to New Mexico. We enjoyed White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns! Always a favorite place to go, and still is today. That entrance into the caverns was as exciting place to be as anywhere. Caves have always been a favorite place for me and I have been in quite a few – some hot and steamy, but most cool and dark. Normally, caving was something about the spelunking history, comfortable temps, and imaginations of original explorers not having nifty things like electric lights! Of course, it exciting to think of all the places not yet discovered.

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Half a Dozen Or So…

Who are the influencers in your life?

InfluencersDo you know what I’m talking about? Who are the people that you allow to speak into your life to make you a better “you”?

For me, this is a revolving number and list. It depends on where I am in life and ministry, and what I think is needed for the short- and long- term. In prayer, recommendation and research, God gives me people to listen to that are impactful to my needs.

There are several secular influencers that are helping me with specific direction for my presentation desire, whether it be writing, speaking, or teaching. I have a couple of voices that speak into my life that deal with my finances and future retirement.

And then, there are several I check in with for my ministry. It’s not a hard and fast list, but when I feel directed then I check in with several that know me well.

There are several other really close and good voices that have positive things I need to hear, even when they are negative at times.

To each, I value their input and appreciate their willing voice into my life. The one thing I desire is to take what I know, add to it with increasing knowledge and skills, and then make myself available to others. Whether young or old, there are many folks out there that need the same kind of voice into their life that I need in mine.

On Thursday I allowed two new people to speak into my heart. One spoke on learning how to be a better teacher and presenter. The other was a retired minister who spoke to some area pastors about ministering to their families. Each provided deep and valuable input.

  • The minister is someone I could listen to often…
  • The teaching session gives me access to an online training if I chose to invest time and money.

Regardless. They both gave me something of value. Now I must decide how to use this information for the betterment of my life. Each one can address areas of personal, spiritual, family and church needs.

Here’s my thought today. You have not because you ask not. Or when you get to the point of asking and praying about something, then you ask for something that is not for your spiritual needs and end up asking for the wrong things. (James 4:3) When we ask amiss, then it’s like our ears are itching to hear something pleasing, and not necessarily something needed. (2 Timothy 4:3)

I dare say most of the time we want someone telling us what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear.

If this is you, then I caution you from going down that path. Else, someone will tell you exactly what they have determined you “want” to hear and will lead you astray.

Recently, someone I know listened to everyone else about a choice but not one time did they talk to their pastor. For some reason other voices were important and their pastor was not. Their choice was made in a vacuum, away from the spiritual leader in their life.

Just like everything else in life, time will tell how the decision will work out. I have never made a rash decision that worked as successfully as it might have were I to involve the influencers necessary to make the best choice.

How about you? Are there some missing influencers in your life that you need to pause what you are doing and turn to them for some wise influence?

Sometimes We Have To Change Definitions

I’m Just Saying…

TrustOften the meaning of words of our youth no longer have the same meaning. At least in this present world, tomorrow it may revert. Who knows…

But you know what I mean. A good example is when someone says “bad” they actually mean “good”… A worse example is our use of “awful” as meaning something is terrible, but the word originally meant to “inspire awe”.

We struggle with definitions of common words every day. When someone asks what something means we resort to our mobile phones to look up on online definition, even when we can describe it with examples. Try to explain a concept and it gets even more difficult. Now there are even more words that need to be defined.

This made me question where I get my understanding of words from!

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Foundation Values Are Real

It has been said that nothing lasts forever.

Ruins in Israel

While the concept is true, as you look over the millennium of time one can see that everything we have built has eventually crumpled. Nothing left but ruins. Archaeologists, like every other category of science, looks to the ancient ruins to determine what life was like, you know, “…back then…”.  Science even looks to places we have never been to determine the building blocks of the earth. They use equipment with names like Hubble, probes, the International Space Station and a host of other methods to determine the structure and makeup of the worlds beyond us, hoping to shed light on our own creation.

But let’s bring that back a little closer to home for a moment.

Smaller than the naked eye can see are those phenomenal building blocks of life that are the foundation of everything we experience on a daily basis. We  use words like cells, molecules, electrons, protons, nucleus, and even DNA, to describe the components that make up everything, whether living or not.

Little do we see with the naked eye! Everything that makes up everything is smaller than is visible with a simple microscope. We build more intricate tools to dig deeper and deeper. The deeper we go, the bigger the price tag for the equipment required.

But all we find are more foundation building blocks. It makes one wonder… If we keep digging deeper will we continue to find the same kind of results? And, will it really matter?

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Listen Closely

Have you ever had to have something repeated?

HearingThe older I get the more I have to ask this question! Background noise, poor vocal performance, or some slight speech impediment that made the words hard to understand – they all create the need to ask for a repeat. Pardon me. Again!

Another problem is when we fail to listen closely, as in, “Pay Attention!”

Think about it for a moment, when learning to do something for the first time and especially when you think it important, then you usually pay close attention!

Not to admit to something that I would wholeheartedly disagree with – sometimes the problem is we enjoy the aspect of not hearing others very well. We can tune out, or in, at a whim! Truly, it is a an aspect of aging hearing that I can truly enjoy!

But when those of influence speak, we pause to listen closely. Back in my young adult days there was a stock brokerage company called E.F. Hutton. Their advertising in the 70’s and 80’s revolved around this comment:

When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen! 

It usually involved a noisy room with a lot of conversation until someone mentions the company name and then dead silence and everyone turns their ear to hear something potentially important!

There are voices we want to hear, as well as voices we want to ignore. I remember even a younger time when I started to enjoying the preached Word of God. Sitting on the front row or two, I would zone in on the Word with my pen at the ready to jot down notes. I have many pages of outlines from those early years, and I think it was the early formation of my calling into the ministry. Continue reading