Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Friendships Versus Alliances

“The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.” ~Reid Hoffman
“Conversely, if one continues to hang out with the people you are presently with, then you will become like them, for good or ill.” ~ A. Thurmer.

After coming across this quote this morning it made me think about relationships.  The old saying, "Birds of a feather flock together." was what I heard when growing up.   I have found that saying to have validity over the years.  We as people desire to be with others more like ourselves.  We find comfort in their presence and solidarity of sorts in the way they act and think. 

Conversely, those that are always in a state of turmoil, engulfed with anger, those that feud, and those that lash out at others tend to hang out together as well.  These individuals in need usually do not form friendships; they more or less have tenuous alliances that are based on bonding over mutual protection, a relationship that forms because of a common enemy.  These alliances are usually short lived though.  This type of “friendship” is based on hatred and suspicion and because of this, it does not last long.  I call it a “mutual hatred alliance.”  As a principal, it was my job to deal with these situations on a daily basis.  Many times I would advise victims of these interactions to separate themselves from these harmful friendships.  Those that did so often found, in time, new friends that treated them better, and I saw forming between them a mutual respect. 

In tumultuous relationships that continually go from one crisis to another, I have found that they have such destructive consequences for individuals and for those that are near the fallout as well.  Some of these turbulent relationships sometimes have put others in the hospital.

I remember my dad advising me as a little boy about a bad relationship I was having with a boy my age.  He said, “Son, if the good in you makes your friend a better person, then it is a friendship worth keeping.  If on the other hand the bad in your friend starts to change you to become what is bad, then it is time to end the relationship.”  I heeded his advice after getting into trouble when hanging out with this boy.  I realized that I could not change him no matter how hard I tried.  I figured that it would be better to be alone without a friend, than to be with someone who was selfish, angry and bitter.  In a short time I did form new relationships that were healthy and based on mutual respect.  It is a lesson that I have found to be true in the many friendships that I have formed over the years. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


My thoughts right now go back to when I was a young man fishing.  Sometimes I would choose a spot in the river and I soon would find out that it wasn’t yielding what I thought it should.  I was looking to get a Northern or Walleye, but instead all I got were Bullheads or Carp.  The next thing I had to ask myself was, “Am I using the right bait?”  Sometimes I would change the lure and I found that solved the problem.  At other times it did not change a thing, so I had to make a decision, “Was I going to stay in the same place and catch fish I didn’t want, or go some where else?”

During these moments of enlightenment, I came to see that I had been using the wrong lures and/or  I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I soon learned that there were variables to consider in fishing, “You have to look at the whole picture sometimes in determining whether something is working or not.”

Life is like fishing many times.  We sometimes find that, we as well, are in the wrong location, doing the wrong thing, and getting results that we don’t want.

Christ has helped me to see in many areas of my life, that I too was fishing in the wrong locations and getting what I didn’t want.  Sometimes I chose not to listen, because I didn’t want to go his way, or I didn’t want to change.  I chose my own direction and I settled for fish that were much less than what I could have had.  Jesus waited for me in my desperate attempts when I wanted to go my own way.  He waited until I was willing to surrender and decide that I didn’t know the best place to fish.  After a time though, of going my own way, I decided to listen to his voice, read his word, and it was then that he guided me to the place that he had chosen for me all along, and it was better than I had ever imagined.

We find in Luke, chapter 5 a similar story.  One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him, so Jesus stepped into a nearby boat.  It belonged to Peter.  After speaking awhile, he glanced over at Peter and his friends who looked discouraged and tired, and he told Peter to do something, “Peter, put out your nets on the other side of the boat.”  They looked at him, I imagine with some suspicion and perhaps a lot of skepticism.  Peter then said to Jesus, “We have fished all night and have caught nothing.”  Peter had gotten to the end of his rope with hope.  In spite of Peter’s doubt, he went against his natural inclinations and threw out the nets on the other side of the boat.  The catch was so big that it started to tear his nets.  Peter at once knew whom he was looking at, a man who knew how to fish, and someone who could do something that he himself tried with all his skill and might and could not do, that of catching fish.  Not only did he catch fish, but the right kind as well.  I know that a fisherman would not get excited over fish that were useless to eat.
Peter knew in his heart at that time that he had been fishing in all the wrong areas of his life.  He wanted what this fisherman had to offer him, a fulfilled life.  Jesus reached out to Peter and said, “Come, I will make you a fisher of men!”  Jesus had a plan for Peter, and he has one for you as well. A life that is complete and fulfilling.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our Faith

In Romans 3 and 4 we find Paul talking about faith and circumcision.  God instituted this ceremony for his children, the Jews, starting with Abraham.  Paul explains that circumcision was not the instrument that made Abraham holy; it was his faith that he demonstrated before hand that justified him.  The act of circumcision was only an outward sign of Abraham’s faith. 

Today there are those that sometimes think that the ceremonies of baptism, catechism, and confirmation make us a child of God.  We sometimes get confused as to what they represent.  God asks us to have the faith of Abraham.  “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  Romans 4:3  So, we see that faith in God is a prerequisite to our walk with him and not the ceremonies that make us holy.  Without faith in God and a belief that he has a plan for our lives, we are not walking with him, but walking to the beat of our own drummer instead.  One then can see that these previously mentioned ceremonies mean nothing if our hearts are not right with God. 

These rituals are only representations of our faith in God, not the other way around.  Ceremonies are good for they proclaim our faith, but they do not make us holy, it is our heart and our faith in God that do just that.  “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith. . .”  Romans 3:28

Friday, October 10, 2014

Our Legacy

Over the course of our lives we at times might ask ourselves, “What impact am I having on those around me?  Will my stay here on Earth make a difference to anyone?”  Many times we don’t really think of these things until our lives are reaching their end.  We have spent our time in the busy pursuit of making a living and providing for our families.  So many of our days we find that our plates are full, and the day we are facing is all that we can think of.  Sometimes though, life is cut short un-expectantly.  If we knew the time of our death, whether it be at 20, 40, 65, or 90, would we have lived each day differently? 

While in the Army, I remember getting my orders that said I would be going to Vietnam. I was 19 and I wanted to live a full life, but I knew that it might be the last year of my life.  I remember getting 9 days leave time before I was to head over to the war zone.  One day towards twilight, while on leave, I sat on a hill overlooking my beloved hometown of Jackson, and I thought I would never see it, or my family and friends again.  The year was 1971 and I wanted so to live a full life and fulfill my dreams, but now I knew it might never be.  A burning thought went through my mind, “What could I say or do to leave an impact on those around me that I cared about?  Was my life for nothing?”  I sat there in the woods watching the sun go down and I prayed that God would guide me in the days to come.  I remember asking him, “If I am to die, please let it be while helping someone.” 
Now many years later I sat and listened to my mother-in-law tell me about her father’s uncle and what he said before going to war.  “My father was very young, but he remembers his uncle lifting him up to say good-bye before he was shipped overseas.  Reginald lovingly said to my father that he was going to fight for children like his nephew Ronald.”  This message had such an impact on this little boy that it literally changed Ron’s life.  These words that Reginald Dalzell said would forever live in this little boy’s heart.  Ron would grow up and never forget his uncle’s last words to him.  Ron always felt blessed because he knew in his heart what a sacrifice his uncle was making for him, that being Reginald’s own life. 

Ron would go on to adulthood and marry his sweetheart and would have three children.  Ron’s first-born son would be called Reginald in honor of his uncle.  As a little boy, Ron remembered his uncle’s last words and they were seared into his heart, “I am fighting for children like you Ronald!”  This child understood his uncle’s last words to him when news came that Reginald had died in the war.  Ron as a little boy comprehended more than ever what sacrifice really meant. 

Little Ronald at that moment came to understand what God went through in giving up his son for him.  You see, Reginald gave his life up for this little boy, but so too, Ronald gave up his uncle, as well, so that he and others might enjoy freedom and life.   Ron would grow up to become a minister and help lead many to Christ.  The building blocks of Reginald’s last words would have such an impact on this little boy that he would never forget his uncle’s love and sacrifice for Ron.  A love that meant giving up Reginald’s future and all that he could have had, but Reginald could not walk away from his calling.  Ron knew in his heart that he too could do no less in his calling to be a minister of God. 

So, did Reginald’s words have a lasting impact?  I believe we can safely say yes to that question.  Even though Reginald lived for only a short time, his legacy goes way beyond his lifetime.  The question one has to ask now is, “What is my legacy?  How can I have an impact on those that I love, as well as others that I may never meet.”   
I have come to understand that each day is a gift from God.  When receiving gifts on our birthdays, how does one respond to the giver?  Can I do no less in accepting this gift of today? 

A heart of thankfulness, humility and service to God, and others can be our legacy.  A legacy that others will see and benefit from, long after we are gone, just like that of Reginald Dalzell’s enduring gift of sacrifice. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Special Friend, Chopper the Black Lab.

My brother Ken's black lab (Chopper) was my favorite of all dogs. He was so happy all the time and he loved to hunt with Ken and I. He was taught not to bark, but when I came to pick him up, he could not hold it in anymore. It was still dark outside as we went to the lake early in the morning. All the while he would wine out of excitement and then in one moment of pent up exuberance, Chopper would get close to my ear and let out a loud bark. We would both then get excited and oddly enough, I didn't need caffeine to wake up anymore.

About a year later, I took Chopper to the lake to hunt geese.  I was to meet my brother Ken at the lake, he was just getting off work.   It was dark as usual and the lab was sitting next to me whining his excitement about the upcoming hunt.  In the meantime Chopper had his job cut out for him, he had to make his nose prints on the windshield all the while panting with excitement.  On that particular day I brought some spiced jerky for Ken and I to chew on while hunting.  My seatmate though had different plans for that meat.  He kept eyeing the spice jerky in the sealed container, and then he would look over at me with a pleading sigh.  Knowing what Chopper was thinking, I thought that this must be settled here and now.  I said, "Don't even think about it Chopper!"  He then looked away dejectedly all the while drooling on my dash.  I knew at that point I had my work cut out for me in cleaning my vehicle up after the hunt.

 As the miles rolled by I found that I desperately needed coffee in order to stay awake being it was 4:30 in the morning and still dark outside.  Then the fatal mistake came, I stopped to get coffee on the way.  I was in the gas station for about 5 minutes and when I came out to the vehicle, I could only see the remains of a jerky container lying on the seat.  Both metal ends and a plastic seal lied there in front of me; all of the cardboard as well as all of the jerky were mysteriously gone.  The only thing that reminded me of my precious jerky was a happy dog with spicy jerky dog breath.  Oddly enough it gave him digestive problems of a gaseous nature.  Later, he sat outside the blind for obvious reasons, and neither Ken nor myself got one goose that day.  As we continually watched the geese veer off in other directions, the last thing I imagine they saw was a happy black lab with his tail wagging away, celebrating with his vaporous indigestion and a full tummy.