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A Timeless Recipe For A Happy Holiday

Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally.  Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads to a wild-goose chase, and is never attained.  Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.


Nathaniel Hawthorne

                   My Prayer


Lord help me to relax about insignificant details beginning tomorrow at 7:41:23 am PST

God help me to consider people's feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.

God help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they're usually NOT my fault.

God, help me to not try to RUN everything. But, if You need some help, please feel free to ASK me!

Lord, help me to be more laid back, and help me to do it EXACTLY right.

God help me to take things more seriously, especially laughter, parties, and dancing.

God give me patience, and I mean right NOW!

Lord help me not be a perfectionist. (Did I spell that correctly?)

God, help me to finish everything I sta

God, help me to keep my mind on one th -- Look, a bird -- ing at a time.

God help me to do only what I can, and trust you for the rest. And would you mind putting that in writing?

Lord keep me open to others' ideas, WRONG though they may be.

Lord help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.

Lord help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I'll settle for a few minutes.

Lord, help me slow down andnotrushthroughwhatIdo.


The Lord desired that His people take Him seriously but that they not take themselves too seriously.  He wants them to wipe off their grim looks, put smiles on their faces, and let laughter flow from their lips.  In light of this counsel, many of us would do well to ponder these comments from the pen of Helmut Thielicke:

Should we not see that lines of laughter about the eyes are just as much marks of faith as are the line of care and seriousness?  Is it only earnestness that is baptized?  Is laughter pagan?  We have already allowed too much that is good to be lost to the church and cast many pearls before swine.  A church is in a bad way when it banishes laughter from the sanctuary and leaves it to the cabaret, the nightclub and the toastmasters.

See:  Neh 8:10; Psa 16:11; Psa 30:11; Gal 5:22; Phil 3:1

Years ago, Dr. Karl Menninger of the Menninger Clinic was asked, "If someone felt a nervous breakdown coming on, what would you suggest that he do?"

   "If you feel a nervous breakdown coming on, I would urge you to find somebody else with a problem -- a serious one -- and get involved with that individual, helping him solve his problem."  In helping him to solve his problem, then in reality your own problem is going to disappear.  You're no longer thinking internally.  You're no longer letting things gnaw at your stomach.  You're no longer getting disturbed about yourself because you're not thinking about yourself. You're thinking about others.  I don't know what your objective in life might be, but there is something each one of us can do.

See:  1 Cor 10:24; Phil 2:3-4; 1 Pet 4:10

What is the meaning of life?  Is it how long we live, how famous we become, or how rich we are at retirement?  Jesus says that the measure of life is in our service, the good we do for others.  Out of this spirit has come every Christian college and school, orphanage and beneficial work in the world.  George W. Truitt, the great Baptist preacher, said, "It is not the talents one has that makes him great, however many and brilliant they may be; it is not the vast amount of study that gives mental enrichment to the mind and life; it is not in shining social qualities; it is not the large accumulation of wealth that secures peace and honor.  In none of these measured by God's standards does greatness reside.  The true greatness consists in the use of all the talents one has in unselfish ministry to others."

See:  Rom 12:10-18; Phil 2:28-30

If you have any: 

Contrary to popular opinion, everyone has some quality, ability, talent, passion which activated, would make the world a better place to live.  What you have to offer others at this time of year will bring you and the person that you bless more happiness than you will ever find by pursuing “happiness” as an end in itself.

Sometimes the things that are the simplest make the greatest contribution to others.  The following is a list of simple things that are not found in abundance in our world today.  Many times people do not ask for the thing that they really want just because they do not know themselves.

n       Encouragement One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. It is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others.  The world is full of discouragers.  We have a Christian duty to encourage one another.  Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet.

Barclay's Commentary, Hebrews

Mr. Charles Schwab was one of the first men ever to earn a million dollars a year.  Why did Andrew Carnegie pay Schwab more than $3,000 a day?  Because he knew more about the manufacture of steel than other people?  No.  Schwab said that he had many men working for him whose technical knowledge surpassed his.

Schwab was paid such a handsome amount largely because of his ability to deal with people.  Here is the secret set down in his own words:

"I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among the men the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.  There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of man as criticisms from his superiors.  I never criticize anyone.  I believe in giving a man incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault.  If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise."

See:  Matt 7:12; 1 Thess 5:11


Over the years I've collected good advice from others about encouragement.  I see it as essential in leading a compassionate life.  Here are a few tips:

Encouragers are compassionate, unselfish, and loving people.

Encouragers seek out opportunities to help and drop everything for those in need.

Encouragers count their blessings and help others' inventory.

Encouragers pray for others, and with others.

Encouragers find the good in others, and they nurture it. 

No cynics allowed.

Encouragers forgive and forget, and they listen and observe.

Encouragers make lists of people to thank and do so often.

Encouragers take advantage of what they have and erase thoughts of what might have been.

Encouragers can always be counted on.

Richard G. Capen, Jr.   From His Book "Finish Strong"

q       Comfort    Joe Bayly in his book, View From A Hearse says that one of the best contributions we can make to a person going through intense suffering and loss is our presence without words, not even verses of Scripture dumped into the ears of the grieving.  He said:  Don't try to "prove" anything to a survivor.  An arm about the shoulder, a firm grip of the hand, a kiss:  these are the proofs grief needs, not logical reasoning.  I was sitting, torn by grief.  Someone came and talked to me of God's dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly, he said things I knew were true.     I was unmoved, except to wish he'd go away.  He finally did.  Another came and sat beside me.  He didn't talk.  He didn't ask leading questions.  He just sat beside me for an hour or more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, left.  I was moved.  I was comforted.  I hated to see him go.   See:  1 Thess 5:11; Jam 1:27

q       Fellowship from the Spirit  Fellowship is the antidote for loneliness.  That is rampant in our society today and there are many lonely people who become just that much more aware of their loneliness at this time of year.  The gift of fellowship is one of the most significant gifts that you could give another at this time of year.]

Now it came to pass that a certain man was traveling Lonesome Street, a lonely and dark road from Tom's Tavern to Bill's Bar, and behold liquor got ahold of him and stripped him of all his goods and left him destitute and dying on Skid Row.  There came that way a certain respected religious leader, a bishop in the church.  He saw the drunk with the bleeding skull and vomit covering his clothes. Deciding he was too drunk to talk to about his soul, he thought society should do something to prohibit such drunkenness.  He passed by on the right as far and as fast as possible.  Soon a social worker, whose training taught him how to care for persons with all kinds of social and personal problems, came that way. He saw the man stretched out on the sidewalk.  He looked at him, but concluding that the man was beyond help or hope he straightway continued on his way.  After some time an outcast of society, a long-haired motorcycle rider, a biker, came down Lonesome Street.  Though hated by respectable people and watched with suspicion by the police, the biker saw the dying drunk.  And when he saw the man he came where he was and he called a fellow long-haired biker to help him, and while he spoke soothing words he lifted the man in his arms and took him to a place he knew the man would be cared for.  Now, who was the neighbor?   See:  Luke 10:30-37

Most often we think that loneliness is all about being without other human beings, having "no company".  Webster says: cut off from others; not frequented by human beings; feeling of bleakness or desolation.  If being lonely was merely "wishing" that you had someone with you then it could be easy to cure.

I believe that it is much more related to a feeling that no one really knows, understands or cares to know or understand you.

How do we address it?

We cannot orchestrate friendships or "company" for lonely individuals. That will not remove the problem.  Most people who lack company or friends make no effort to provide the same need for others.  they lack either the motivation or the skills to develop rrelationships with others.

In order for someone to really understand you, you've got to tell them.  Basically that means that a person who desires to beat the loneliness bug has to be willing to risk rejection.  it is ironic to think that a desire to protect oneself from the pain of rejection may bring about that very thing and create a lonely individual.

Dishonesty will merely accentuate loneliness.  If you are not honestly representing yourself to others, then people will accept or reject your misrepresentation.  Consequently the lonely person remains so because they will not reveal themselves as they really are.  Mind reading doesn't work either.  One cannot assume that others realize what we need or want at a given point.  Honestly communicating your feelings whether they are positive or negative is the only way to establish a real relationship with another person, a relationship based on acceptance of each other as you really are, not as you want the other to be or as you think they want you to be.  Friendship forms the foundation of a relationship . . . communication is the foundation of


I must trust others to accept me as i am, with all my wrinkles.  If I do not share myself with them, they will not know me and will not be able to accept me.  Not everyone will prove to be trustworthy ... not everyone will accept me.  But I would rather risk THAT disappointment

than risk not making contact with those wonderful people who have the peace, serenity and love to accept whoever is put in their path.

q       Tenderness and compassion  Are we really a people who “care” about whether or not people go to heaven or hell?  Do we really care about others?  Do we care enough to know their names?  Do we care enough to talk to them before we repeat things about them?  Do we care enough to inconvenience ourselves for someone else’s good. 

There can be that tendency in the family to become hardened from different experiences.  To lose a softness and to cease to care about people’s plights.

"We become vulnerable when we love people and go out of our way to help them."  That's what the wealthy industrialist Charles Schwab declared after going to court and winning a nuisance suit at age 70. Given permission by the judge to speak to the audience, he made the following statement:  "I'd like to say here in a court of law, and speaking as an old man, that nine-tenths of my troubles are traceable to my being kind to others.  Look, you young people, if you want to steer away from trouble, be hard-boiled.  Be quick with a good loud no to anyone and everyone.  If you follow this rule, you will seldom be bothered as you tread life's pathway.  Except you'll have no friends, you'll be lonely, and you won't have any fun!"  Schwab had made his point -- love may bring heartache, but it's worth it!

See:  1 Cor 13:6-7; Eph 5:2

If the Christian penitent dares to ask that his many departures from the Christian norm, his impatience, gloom, self-occupation, unloving prejudices, reckless tongue, feverish desires, with all the damage they have caused to Christ's Body, be set aside, because -- because, in spite of all, he longs for God and Eternal Life: then he must set aside and forgive all that the impatience, selfishness, bitter and foolish speech, and sudden yieldings to base impulse by others have caused him to endure.  Hardness is the one impossible thing.  Harshness to others in those who ask and need the mercy of God sets up a conflict at the very heart of personality and shuts the door upon grace.

                         ... Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), Abba

President Woodrow Wilson told this story.  He said: "I was in a very common place, I was sitting in a barber chair, when I became aware that a personality had entered the room.  A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself -- to have his hair cut and sat in the chair next to me.  Every word the man uttered showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him.  And before I got through with what was being done for me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service.  Because Mr. D.L. Moody was in that chair.  I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular effect that his visit had brought upon the barbershop.  They didn't know his name but they knew that something had elevated their thoughts and I felt that I left that place as I should have left the place of worship.   My admiration and esteem for Mr. Moody became very deep indeed." See:  2 Cor 2:14-16 

Too many times we are outcared by people who have no ability to change the eternal destinies of people and we are critical of them in the process.  

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong.  Because someday in life you will have been all of these.

   -- George Washington Carver

Then make my joy complete by:

For what we have been given, God will look for an accounting from us someday.  We have been blessed to be a blessing.  Pass it on!

q       Being like-minded

q       Having the same love

q       Being one in spirit & purpose

We do not have to agree on all points in order to have unity in the church.  But generally speaking we must share a common mindset – that we are a living organism – the Body of Christ.  We function well when all parts work together toward a common goal or purpose.

As important as it is to speak the truth where it needs to be spoken – in the spirit of love, it is equally important to be able to receive the truth or even the opinions of others with grace, regardless of how well or how poorly they might be communicated.  I think that many times we are too weak, or perhaps too proud to hear the truth gracefully.

Our thoughts determine our actions

Our true thoughts are always revealed by our actions.  We can profess with our lips all that we may wish but our lives tell the true story.  Our actions come from our thoughts.

q       Proper motivation – Why you do what you do.

There are those whose behavior is meant unconsciously to obligate others to them. 

Over the years I have acquired through no fault of any other living breathing human being, some behavioral patterns that reduce my ability to be maximally effective with others.  Specifically, I acknowledge a kind of  Asloppiness@ relative to details.  Because I am a more easy going person and am able to forgive this in others, I have assumed that they should be able likewise to overlook this in me.  Perhaps I am forgiving toward others more because I am trying to produce this attitude of mercy in the way others might respond to me.  It could be just a lazy way to attempt to try to manipulate other people.  At any rate, I have not seriously accepted personal responsibility and the necessity of making this change.  I do so today because I do not respect myself in this area.  On the other hand, I have great respect for others who do care for the details of personal commitment and integrity.  It is my desire to change a perception that I have built through my own carelessness which is no longer a joking matter.  For me, the failure to take the little things seriously is as serious as the addict who refuses to take his plight in the same vein.  It must change.  In order for this to happen, I recognize the need to do the following:

From Declaration Of Intent To Change

q       Proper perspective – How you see other people.   In America an inferiority complex is a disadvantage – in Canada – it’s a birthright.  I had this down for a long time in my life but that’s not really what I’m talking about.  It’s not feeling bad about you but feeling great about others.  It is treating other people with respect and dignity.

q       Proper Priorities – Balancing our lives.

One of the most impacting things for the cause of Christ that we can do is to show genuine interest in the things that others do.

The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church.  The bar is an imitation dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is permissive, it is accepting and it is an inclusive fellowship.  It is unshockable.  It is democratic.

   You can tell people secrets and they usually don't tell others or even want to.  The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart, the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved.  And so many people seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers.

See:  Acts 2:42-47; 1 Pet 1:22

In his book, The Yoke of Christ, Elton Trueblood quotes a letter from a school girl who probes the depth of her soul.  She writes, "I've been thinking much this year about the importance of caring, of the passion of life. I've often realized that it takes courage to care.  Caring is dangerous.  It leaves you open to hurt and to looking like a fool.  And perhaps it's because they have been hurt so often that people are afraid to care.  You can't die if you're not alive. And then who would rather be a stone?  I have found many places in my own life where I keep a secret store of indifference as a sort of self-protection."  That's a penetrating insight -- a secret store of indifference.  We're to care, because Christ cared -- even though it means a cross.

See:  Matt 9:36; Phil 2:1-2; Col 3:12

The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read,

Beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree.

Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown,

For the world was intent on dragging me down.

And if that weren't enough to ruin my day,

A young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play.

He stood right before me with his head tilted down,

And said with great excitement, "Look what I found!"

In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight,

With it's petals all warn down-not enough rain, or to little light.

Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play,

I faked a smile and then shifted away.

But instead of retreating he sat next to my side,

And placed the flower to his nose and declared with overacted surprise,


"It's smells pretty and it's beautiful too.

That's why I picked it;  here it's for you!"

The weed before me was dying or dead.

Not vibrant of colors, orange, yellow or red.

But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave.

So I reached for the flower and replied, "Just what I need."

But instead of him placing the flower in my hand,

He held it mid-air without reason or plan.

It was then that I noticed for the very first time,

That the weed-toting boy could not see, he was blind.

I heard my voice quiver, tears shone like the sun,

As I thanked him for picking the very best one.

"You're welcome" he smiled and then ran off to play,

Unaware of the impact he's had on my day.

I sat there and wondered how he managed to see,

A self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree.

How did he know about my self-indulged plight?

Perhaps from his heart, he'd been blessed with true sight.

Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see,

The problem was not with the world;  the problem was me.

And for all of those times I myself had been blind,

I vowed to see the beauty in life, and appreciate every second that's mine.

And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose

and breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose.

And I smiled as I watched that young boy, another weed in his hand,

About to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.


Author Unknown

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