The ABCs of Life

An alphabetical list of life lessons

Accept responsibility for your own actions. Trying to pass the buck will get your sacked.

Believe you have what it takes to make a difference. This world needs what you alone can offer.

Cast your cares on your Creator. Anxieties that hold you hostage rob your peace of mind. Prayer can restore your personal operating system.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” The Golden Rule is still the gold standard for mining the most out of life.

Exercise regularly. Walk. Run. Row. Climb. Throw. Stretch. Cardiovascular activity promotes a clear mind and contributes to restful sleep.

Fuel your body with healthy food. If you want to live a long time, eat more fruits and vegetables.

Give to charitable causes. You’ll feel good about yourself when you share with others.

Hang on when you feel like letting go. Perseverance is the price tag for realizing the dreams God has planted in your heart.

Invest your money. Saving is smart. Debt is deadly. Deferring gratification compounds your interest at the bank and in what really matters.

Just do it! Doing today what shouldn’t be left for tomorrow produces yesterdays devoid of regret. Procrastination is the devil in disguise.

Keep short accounts with others. Take the initiative to resolve disagreements. As it says in the Bible, “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.”

Lick an ice cream cone. Don’t eat it. Savoring life’s little pleasures makes them last longer. Don’t hurry through the happy times.

Mind your own business. Be grateful you’re not everybody’s judge. Stay focused on your job.

Never say never. You just don’t know what might cause you to change your mind someday. When it comes to air-tight convictions, leave space for breathing room.

Open your eyes to the wonders around you. It was Browning who said, “Earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes. The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

Preach what you practice. Don’t keep your passions to yourself. Others can be enriched by what brings you joy. Like the old Swedish proverb contends, “A shared joy is a doubled joy.”

Question easy answers. The world is filled with bumper sticker platitudes that only stick to the chrome of a car. Don’t settle for clichés. Keep asking “Why?” “Why not?” “What if?” “So what?”

Read for fun. There’s more to the world than textbooks and technical ones that prepare you for a degree or a deadline. Find a favorite fiction writer and lose yourself in the pages of his/her plot.

Seek the ultimate meaning of life. This is your invitation to join Plato, Socrates, Solomon, Ghandi, Confucius, Charlie Brown and the other great thinkers of history. Think with your soul.

Talk to strangers. Some things you learned in kindergarten need to be unlearned. People you haven’t yet met hold keys to doors of opportunity currently locked.

Unleash your imagination. Let your creative mind run free. Daydreaming isn’t just for kids. It’s for those who want to find solutions to the nightmares that haunt society.

Value each day. The present is a gift. Like the poster that hung in my college dorm room declared, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Waste time. In spite of what some might have taught you, wasting time isn’t the unpardonable sin. Redeem your coupon for free time. Discover a hobby. If you play hard, you’ll work better.

eXamine your motives. Learn to look inside in search of pride. As I learned to ask in Rotary: Is it the truth? Is it fair and beneficial to all concerned? Will it build goodwill?

Yearn for a kingdom that’s out of this world. Jesus said it best: “Seek the kingdom of God above all else … He will give you everything you need.”

Zip it! When a friend shares something in confidence, keep your mouth shut. Prove your trustworthiness. Resist the impulse to gossip.

A Fathers Day Toast

Celebrating the difference dads make in their kids’ lives

I raise my glass and make a toast
to all you dads whose children boast
about your wisdom and your wit
that shaped their lives for good.

Although not-perfect, you dads made
a difference in your kids who played
on vacant lots and backyard swings
or sitting on the floor.

You listened to their hurting hearts
when what they clung to broke apart.
You rubbed their backs as if to say,
“I hope you know I care!”

You doubted you had been enough
when they rebelled when life was tough.
But God gave you the means to give
your kids into His hands.

You gave them space to spread their wings.
And when they felt how failure stings,
you reassured them you were there
to help them fly again.

You asked forgiveness when you failed
and proved that love is what prevailed
when all was said and all was done
and all was not enough.

You helped your children picture God
as one whose shoulders are quite broad
who loves just like a father does.
Forgiving. Trusting. True.

A Prayer for Orlando

Asking God’s help in light of a national tragedy

Lord, have mercy!
Christ, have mercy!
God, we need Your help.

As last Sunday dawned,
Orlando awakened to a nightmare
in a nightclub.

Half a hundred lives are lost.
Scores more wounded and bleeding
need Your presence, Father.

The sun shone but darkness reigns.
Morning had broken on a shattered city
fragmented by fear and anger.
Shards of pain are evidence
of the grim reality
that terror never sleeps.

In the shadow of Disney World
(the happiest place on earth),
there is a world of hurt.
Sadness has eclipsed the light of day.
The Magic Kingdom of make-believe
is no replacement for a Kingdom of peace
that only You can bring.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Comfort the grieving.
Envelop the fearful.
Heal the broken.
Lift the fallen.
Dry the tears of a city that weeps.

May Your Church truly be Your Body embodying…
A heart that breaks for the victims.
Eyes that see hope in the midst of despair.
Arms that carry the wounded.
Hands that hold the hurting.
Legs that stand up for justice.
Feet that run after peace.

Lord, have mercy!
Christ, have mercy!
God, we need Your help!

The Greatest is Gone

Remembering Muhammad Ali

His ego was like Everest.
He claimed he was the very best.
His mouth (the size of Mammoth Cave)
was loud and proud and brash.

His fists could sting just like a bee.
His feet could dance like poetry.
And as he floated in the ring,
he was a butterfly.

Yet he was born with feet of Clay.
He was dyslexic (so they say).
But he could read injustice
down the street and round the world.

He took his fight where e’er he went.
He straightened out what hatred bent.
With trembling hand “The Champ” reached out
to help the hurting cope.

And though “The Greatest” grew quite weak
and barely had the means to speak,
Muhammad Ali fought for peace
right to the very end.

Peace to his memory!

A Star-Spangled Anthem

with apologies to Francis Scott Key

O say can you see
by the dusk’s tardy light
what so proudly we glimpsed
as today was just dawning.
Whose red stripes and white stars
caused our heart’s beat to skip
as we paused to reflect
on the price tag of freedom.
Of this banner we sing
and the soldiers who died
who dared to defend
all the rights that we cherish.
O let us give praise
to the God of all nations
for this land where we live
and the life we enjoy.