Beware of the “If Only’s”

Wishing Well

photo courtesy Jason Pratt

We had a leadership meeting after church today to discuss some of the latest issues and needs of the church. There were a lot of valid concerns and ideas brought up during this meeting. Later in the afternoon a thought occurred to me about it though.

Each time a concern was raised, multiple ideas were voiced on how to address that concern. “We need this type of person on staff.” “We need an increased commitment to giving.” “We need this type of program.”

It occurred to me that it was a lot like our personal lives. We often get a case of the “if only’s”. “If only I made a little more money.” “If only I had this car.” “If only my kids would do this.”

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It’s a Self-Centered Life

Thank You for Your Trash

Photo courtesy Daniel Slaughter

My family and I were taking a walk down a nice new path that they made next to a “bypass” from the southern to the eastern side of our little town. It’s only been open for a month or so. There’s still straw in all of the ditches not grass. What really struck me is the amount of litter in the median and ditches. After such a short time, people are already throwing their bottles and cans and other miscellaneous trash out their windows onto the freshly graded land.

What is it that causes people to do that? I believe it is self-centeredness. They are thinking of only themselves and their convenience. If you really think about it, a lot of societies’ behavior can be explained by this. Ever get mad at one of those drivers who insists on flying by the traffic backup in the merging lane waiting until the last possible second to cut into traffic and create a worse backup? They’re self-centered. How about the person driving 10mph under the speed limit down the LH lane of traffic on the highway? Yep, self-centered. What about you when you’re standing in line and getting impatient with the person in front of you who waits until their total is read off before even beginning the search for their checkbook? Okay, we’ll chalk both of you up as being self-centered on that one.

What would happen in our society if everyone started thinking about everyone but themselves for a change? I’ve got a pretty good idea what that would be like. Any chance that is going to happen?

Dying To Get Together

Tombstone

photo courtesy Todd Stadler

My grandpa passed away about a week and a half ago. We travelled up to Michigan for the funeral. I’ve never been much of one for attending funerals. I’m not much of one for crowds in general, so a funeral just adds another level of uncomfortableness to it. This one was different though. The actual funeral was pretty much the same, but the trip itself was actually very enjoyable.

My wife and kids, my mom and dad, and my cousin who flew up from Texas all travelled to Michigan together in my dad’s motorhome. We stayed the night at a campground the night before the funeral. My uncle and aunt and a couple of their grandchildren came over to the campsite as well. All in all it was just a nice time of togetherness enjoying each other’s company and talking together.

Isn’t that really what the funeral should be more like? Why do we stand around with the casket saying good things about the dearly departed? They don’t care what we say. Instead, why don’t we all just get together and enjoy each others company and reminisce together? In fact, why do we wait for someone to die to do that? As families, we really need to find more time to spend with each other while we are alive instead of missing the opportunity due to someone’s death.

When I die, I hope all my family and friends just get together and have a big party. In fact, why don’t we just go ahead and get together before I die?

Hope or Hope?

Wish or Hope?

photo courtesy Ken Lee

I was reading my devotional today and there was a particular comment that really jumped out at me. The author referred to the change in the word hope as we tend to think of it today versus the way that it was used in the Bible.

We tend to use the word hope more as a wish, “I hope it doesn’t rain”, “I hope I get a Nintendo for my birthday”, and the worst is “I hope I’ll have a good retirement”. We’re looking forward with a desire for something we feel we have no control of.

A more positive and appropriate use of the word hope is more of a knowing. It’s the kind of hope that stirs something in us. A hope that causes us to look forward to something better that we know is coming.

As a christian, I have the hope that there is something better for me beyond this life. We can also have hope in this life. It’s a hope based on plans and dreams, not on wishes upon a star. If we are being wise with our money, we have the hope of a good retirement. If we’re restoring a car, we have a hope that we’ll be driving a slick hotrod in the future. It’s a faith with action.

The first kind of hopes provides nothing but a momentary pleasure or more likely a sudden disappointment. The second kind of hope provides a lasting drive and anticipation of the better things to come and a knowledge that what we do today has a purpose. Are you wishing or hoping?