Thinking Out Loud

June 16, 2017

You Have New Challenges; You’re Making Progress!

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:35 am

How do you spell success?

It turns out the source of yesterday’s item here is the gift that keeps on giving. Well, at least for one extra day. My son Aaron has gone multi-platform, and this is his first video. In some ways it’s connected to yesterday’s post. See what you think…

Bonus item: I swear my children get their creativity from their mother. Recently she posted this to Facebook:


June 19, 2010

Life As We Are Given It

Today’s post is from Jim Thornber, who I linked to here once before, many months ago.  Our blogs actually share the same name.   The post is from June 14th, but if you want to know more, read Jim’s bio page.

This Was NOT In My Plans

Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it…Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility…They were to be trained…to enter the king’s service (Daniel 1:1, 3, 5)

About the time I think my life isn’t going like I planned, I think of Daniel and his three friends. They were well-educated young men who came from successful Israeli families, nobility even, and were handsome and smart. They were the cream of the Jewish crop whose parents carefully planned their careers before they were born. They were well on their way to living the American, no, Israeli dream: Nice job, good home in a decent neighborhood, a quiver of respectable children and a well-tended 401k.

Then King Nebby shows up and ruins their plans. He destroys their town, carries off the golden articles from the Temple, makes eunuchs of the Daniel and the boys (2 Kings 20:18; Isa. 39:7) and carries them to Babylon where they will serve the king until they die, never to see Israel again. And I think, “Well, I may not have everything I ever wanted, but at least I’m not a eunuch in Iraq.”

That was my thoughts a few days ago when I was walking around the hardware store where I work. Here it is, year 2010, and I’m a forty-nine year old bi-vocational pastor of a tiny congregation in a small Midwestern town, working part-time helping people with their plumbing needs. I don’t own a home, my newest car is seven years old and it scares me to think about the size of my savings account. When I was in Bible college, this is not how I saw myself living when I approached the (assumed) halfway point of life.

Do I wish I had more? You bet. I think about some of my friends who have successful careers, lived in the same town for years, have their family close by and don’t worry about money when they retire. They’re close to paying off their house; they can give to their church and to charity, volunteer at the school or hospital and enjoy grilling in the backyard on weekends. My life didn’t go that way. But then, God never promised our life would follow the well considered path of the American dream.

In fact, I think it would really frustrate me to be a Christian living in America if I really bought into the American Dream. But I don’t. I’ve read the book of Ecclesiastes and I believe what the wisest king on earth wrote. After twelve chapters of meaninglessness, Solomon gives us three words of useful advice: Find a good job, find a good spouse, remember God. In other words, live a meaningful existence, share it with someone and keep God in the center. I’ll add one more to the list: Life is not about me.

We can look at Daniel and his buddies and think, “What a waste of such good potential.” Heck, for all I know a few people have said that about me. But this is only true if the life I live is only about me. Daniel’s generation was instrumental in setting up the next generation to return to the land that would eventually produce the true King of Kings. Likewise, my life is instrumental in producing Kingdom people in the next generation, for every knee will bow to God, not Jim, so nothing is really about me. It is all about Him.

No, this is not how I planned it. But if at the evening of my life I can look back and honestly say that I acted justly, loved mercy and walked humbly with my God, I know I will hear Him say, “Well Done.” And that IS the way I planned it.

~Jim Thornber

April 18, 2009

The Susan Boyle Phenomenon

Filed under: Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:43 pm

It’s 10:40 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.    Adding up ONLY the clips that appear on the FIRST YouTube “Most Viewed” page, and NOT COUNTING the ones that are subsequent interview clips or background reports, we’re currently looking at 63.7 MILLION hits.   And this doesn’t include clips on Vimeo and other video upload sites.


Obviously, there is more at work here than simply want to see Simon Cowell at a loss for words.    And it’s more than just the Andy Warholl sentiment that “in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, or 63.7 million YouTube hits, whichever is larger.”   Well, maybe not the second part.

It’s our desire to hear a good news story.   It’s our desire for calm; for tranquility.   It’s a dash of peace in a world of war, economic collapse and personal heartbreaks.    Like the old Anne Murray song says, “We sure could use a little good news today.”

It’s a story only rivaled this week by the President of the United States’ new dog.   These two stories are the escape people are looking for.    But Susan’s story also brings hope to all kinds of talented people who are searching for their own personal big break; people who have dreams…

It IS a story that makes you smile.

If a tag brought you here, this is a blog about another kind of hope, brought to the world 2,000 years ago in the person of Jesus Christ, in the story that we celebrated last week at Easter.    The need for a hope and a future is something basic to everyone.   Even more years ago, someone wrote, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

It’s true today.   Some trust in technology, some trust in science, some trust in the resilience of the human spirit; but ultimately, God is the only one we can fully trust.

January 9, 2009

What’s Your PQ – Persistence Quotent?

Filed under: character, Christianity, education, parenting — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:03 pm

mark-batterson-profile-110D.C. Pastor of National Community Church (NCC) and author of In A Pit With A Lion on a Snowy Day, and Wild Goose Chase, Mark Batterson (pictured) blogs at Evotional (tag line: Spirit Fuel) and posted the following this morning:

I came across a fascinating study this week. Can’t stop thinking about it. Priscilla Blinco did a study involving Japanese and American first graders. She gave them a very difficult puzzle to solve. The American children lasted, on average, 9.47 minutes. The Japanese children lasted 13.93 minutes or 40% longer.

Any one want to guess who has higher scores on standardized math tests?

Fascinating study with interesting implication. The argument is that we might give IQ more credit than it deserves. Persistence quotient might be a better predictor of success! How long are you willing to try something before giving up? Successful people, in every arena, aren’t just smarter. They try harder and try longer.

By the way, just got an email from an NCCer that has been trying to get a job with U.S. State Department for 12 years! Every application had been denied, that is, until a couple weeks ago. They were interviewing 1200 applicants for 24 positions. This NCCer was the second person selected.

Listen, that is good old-fashioned persistence. Don’t take no for an answer! Try, Try again. It’s not over till the fat lady sings. I don’t care what aphorism you quote. It’s all about persistence. Keep trying! Then try some more!

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