Working on a Dream




Monday, November 16, 2015

What is the Horn of Plenty?

What is the Horn of Plenty?

"Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men."
Psalm 107:8

A Cornucopia, otherwise known as the Horn of Plenty is often seen at Thanksgiving.  The reason for its appearance is due to its origin.

At one time, the Cornucopia was made from a curved goat's horn that was hollowed out and filled with fruit and grains.
However, today, the Cornucopia is usually made from a basket type material. Maybe you have seen one as a decoration around Thanksgiving time? It is often used this way because the Cornucopia is a symbol representing the good things that we have to enjoy. I recently wrote about a dad and son taking a drive through a "poor" community only to have the experience backfire as the son realized how "poor" that he and his family really where. The Cornucopia is here to remind us of our abundantly blessed lives.

My church sits right next to a McDonald's and I am reminded that all of us can walk next door and get a belly full of food if we wanted to at any time.
No problem ... Right? 

This is not a guilt trip, just a gentle reminder to everyone that we have been generously blessed by our Lord just by living where we live. By default, we have way more than most could ever imagine.

The book of James teaches us that, "Every good & perfect gift is from above." This means God has been busy blessing you even if you have not realized it. Perhaps you may disagree, but let me remind you that you are alive reading this right now. You have legs to walk, feet to run and hands to grasp. You have eyes to see, ears to hear and lungs to breathe. He has given you a mind to create meaningful relationships and physical strength so that you may work. I could go on, but if you have not gotten this concept by now, maybe you never will ...

I do not own a Cornucopia, and to be honest, I always thought they were kinda weird, that is until I realized the deep symbolism embedded in them. I wonder, is this how the majority of us operate in our lives? Do we overlook our blessings? Are we painfully unaware of them? If I am honest, I do this more often than not. So perhaps it is time for me to go out and buy a Cornucopia. Once I have one in my possession, I will place it in my office where it will sit visibly as a year-long reminder to take inventory of my blessings.

From my family to yours.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The hot water bottle & the doll.

This is a story written by a doctor who worked in Africa : 

One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive; as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator).We also had no special feeding facilities.

Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in.

Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates) ... And it is our last hot water bottle!' she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa
it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles.

They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.
'All right,' I said, 'put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts Your job is to keep the baby warm.'

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough,mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died.

During prayer time, one ten -year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. 'Please, God' she prayed, 'Send us a hot water bottle today It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.'

While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, 'And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?' As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say 'Amen?' I just did not believe that God could do this.

Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home.
Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? 
I lived on the equator!

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children.. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly-colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored.. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - that would make a batch of buns for the weekend.

Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the ... could it really be?
I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle.--I cried.
I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, 'If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!'

Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully-dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked, 'Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?'

'Of course,' I replied!

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it 'that afternoon.'

'Before they call, I will answer.' 
(Isaiah 65:24)

Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. 
There is no cost, but a lot of rewards. Let's continue praying for one another... 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It IS your fault

There are 2 types of people in this world, those who take responsibility for their lives, and those who do not.

Have you noticed that we live in a culture of blame? There is the overweight woman suing McDonald’s for making her fat. Did the Golden Arches reach out, grab her, and force food down her throat?  There is the guy that throws his money away at the casino. Did the blackjack dealer drive him to the bright lights; take the money out of his wallet and place bet after bet? In both cases, shift went from the individual to some outside external force.

I read a book once with the title, “Take control of what’s controlling you.” Aptly fit for our society today. Dr. Henry Cloud wrote a fascinating book that inspired this post (It’s Not my Fault) that I benefited from measurably. In it, he says you need to, Take responsibility for your life, then put your arms around reality and take ownership of it …”

(B.O.B.) The beginning of blame
Genesis records the origins of much of what you and I experience today. Life, death, murder, marriage, etc. In Genesis chapter 3, we discover that right after Adam and Eve disobey God and sin, they start the blame game. Adam points to his wife, his wife then points to the serpent. Blame, Shame and Guilt. All there in the garden. For our purposes however, we will focus on blame shifting. We just love to shift blame and responsibility on to others. We love pointing to external factors that will get us off the hook. One interesting element about blaming outside sources is that they may be true AND we may even have good reasons to blame -but it does not solve any of our problems.

I will unabashedly state that if you are the type of person that consistently shifts blame on externals --you have serious problems. I know it and your friends / family know it too. I can’t say for certain that you know it, but the sooner you understand this hang-nail about yourself the better off you will be. See, those in life that are successful, those in life that have risen above their circumstances have figured out some important life lessons, one is that they take responsibility for their own lives. Is it time for you to look inward, instead of outward? Choose to man-up and rise above the external forces and when you do you choose to be a victor instead of a victim.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

What are the 4 roles of a great leader?

#1 Be a model for the people you lead:
The first aspect of leadership according to Robert Greenleaf is to lead by example.  A helpful visual image to help illustrate this point is an anchor. Remember that you are personally anchored to your principles.  Which raises a pretty good question for you to answer ... what are your principles?  If you are going to lead others, you must be crystal clear about what anchors your life!  This is who you are and what you are all about.  Remember, in the end, people do not follow a position they follow a person.  

# 2 Be a Pathfinder:
Find what you are trying to accomplish, have a mission and a vision.  Remember to get others involved (‘buy-in’) in the organization.  You are not a maverick, you are a leader and remember this, if you think you are leading and then turn around to see no one standing behind you, then you are merely out for a walk. A good visual image for this is a map.  Keep in mind that you are a leader and many times you will have a "feel" for the direction of the organization.  You are like a captain behind the wheel of a ship; on the ship there are many mates who are on board with you so be sure to include everyone so that you get to the desired destination!

# 3 Get Alignment:
Make sure everything in your organization reflects the mission/vision. Peter Drucker thinks that great leaders have one simple, yet complex assignment...REMOVE OBSTACLES OUT OF THE WAY OF THE WORKER(S).  How true.  A great boss anticipates problems and sees roadblocks that hinder the performance of their people.  Having a great mission/vision not only steers you in the right direction, it also allows you to avoid unnecessary routes that take up time and slow you down.  As a leader, your job is to get the obstacles out of your people’s way!   Whether it is a church or a business, take a look at where you are spending your money and what types of programs you are running.  Are they wasting time, energy, and resources?  Start clearing out the clutter and only do the things that align to your mission/vision. The visual image for this is a Steering Wheel.  Which ever direction the wheel is turned, the entire ship goes that way!

Role 4 Empowerment:
John Lennon sang, "Power to the People!" and he wasn't kidding.  Unleash the power of the people you lead! This is the where the fruit of the 3 three comes in.  If you are in a leadership position today, you just might be leading the most talented, adequately equipped, and knowledgeable workforce in the history of the world. There are more college grads working at your local McDonald's today because of our economy.  Take advantage (in the good way of course) of the talent you have right in your own workplace.  Gone are the days of hierarchies and only a few men in charge of large organizations.  Pull from the people, work together, include others, involve others in decisions, have weekly meetings,  just get everyone in a room, buy pizza, and talk! The visual for this is men and women.  Build a enthusiastic team, lite a fire, and get out of their way. 

"Where there is no vision, the people perish" 
-Proverbs 29:18

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Black Dot

A friend sent the following story to me ...
One day a professor entered the classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They waited anxiously at their desks for the test to begin. The professor handed out the question paper, with the text facing down as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked his students to turn the page and begin. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions….just a black dot in the center of the page. The professor seeing the expression on everyone’s face, told them the following:
I want you to write what you see there.”
The students confused, got started on the inexplicable task.
At the end of the class, the professor took all the answer papers and started reading each one of them aloud in front of all the students. All of them with no exceptions, described the black dot, trying to explain its position in the middle of the sheet, etc. etc. etc. After all had been read, the classroom silent, the professor began to explain:
Image result for the black dot

“I am not going to grade on you this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same happens in our lives. We have a white paper to observe and enjoy, but we always focus on the dark spots. Our life is a gift given to us by God, with love and care, and we always have reasons to celebrate – nature renewing itself everyday, our friends around us, the job that provides our livelihood, the miracles we see everyday…….
However we insist on focusing only on the dark spots – the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend etc.
The dark spots are very small compared to everything we have in our lives, but they are the ones that pollute our minds.
Take your eyes away from the black spots in your life. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you.