Backing Off, Part One

Kids are nutty. Some friends of ours in Texas have two little girls. The younger child is constantly on the move, rarely winding down by bedtime. So the nightly affair has become something of a familiar routine. A story from her favorite book. A drink of water. A prayer. A song. Her doll. Another drink of water. A kiss. A hug. A third sip of water. A trip to the bathroom. A warning. Another kiss. You know, the whole bit.

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Friendships

The world in which one person lives is too limited and restricted. When rubbing shoulders with another, we gain a panoramic view, which allows us to see the whole picture. “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man” (Prov. 27:19). That’s so picturesque! People provide a clear reflection of what is in the heart. A mirror goes only skin deep. The counsel of a friend reflects what is down inside.

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Finding Justice in Injustice

And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there. I thought in my heart,
“God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked; for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.” (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17 NIV)

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Doing vs. Being

My high school graduating class had its thirtieth anniversary reunion a number of summers ago. I’m sure they had a ball. A blast would better describe it, knowing that crowd. You gotta understand the east side of Houston back in the 1950s to have some idea of that explosive student body . . . a couple of thousand strong and a lot of ’em mean as a junkyard dog with a nail in his paw.

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Appraising Your Life

IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE you took stock of where you are going, hasn’t it? And how about an evaluation of the kids? Or your marriage? Or your own future? You know what I mean: trimming off the fat of lazy thinking and taking a lean, hard look at your remaining years. As I write, I’m now in my eighties. If Christ doesn’t return (and I don’t die in the meantime), I figure I’ll keep going until I’m at least one hundred!

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Disorientation

DISORIENTATION IS THE PITS. When you travel a lot (like airline personnel) you must deal with it. When you fight deadlines as days run into nights (like tax consultants and publishing editors and pastors) you must work out ways to cope with it. When you are confined to tight places or inescapable spaces (like astronauts or prisoners or victims of confining illnesses)—again, that old bugaboo is there ready to bite, leaving you in the wake of depression or one of its emotional relatives. It happens frequently after people retire.

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Slowing Down before the Holidays

APPOINTMENTS, ACTIVITIES, ASSIGNMENTS . . . demands, decisions, deadlines . . . schedules, services, seminars . . . plans, people, programs . . . STOP! Sit down and think. Think about your pace. How in the world did you get trapped in the busyness cycle? What is it down inside your boiler room that keeps pouring the coal to your fire? Consider the past three or four months. Has anything significant been accomplished? Probably not, if you’re honest.

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Doing vs. Being

My high school graduating class had its thirtieth anniversary reunion a number of summers ago. I’m sure they had a ball. A blast would better describe it, knowing that crowd. You gotta understand the east side of Houston back in the 1950s to have some idea of that explosive student body . . . a couple of thousand strong and a lot of ’em mean as a junkyard dog with a nail in his paw.

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Another Chance

Instant replays have become old hat. Whether it’s an impressive backhand or a slam dunk or a touchdown pass, we never have to worry about missing it the first time around. It’ll be back again and again, and probably again. In slow motion at least once. Every coordinated movement, every graceful or powerful motion returns to be analyzed by fan and announcer alike.

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A Cheerful Heart

Earthquakes! Prison riots! Economic pressures! Divorce! No jobs! Drugs! Disease! Death! Pretty serious scene, isn’t it? Yet that is the emotional environment in which we live. No wonder someone has dubbed this the “aspirin age.” Small wonder more of us are not throwing in the towel.

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