This Is Your Life…Or is It? (The Trouble With History!)

TheDiscipleMd

On a recent birthday my daughter contacted family members and many of my friends, both past and present, asking them to write something about memories relating to their association with me over my lifetime. A sort of ‘This is Your Life,’ based on the old TV show. I am grateful for the memories shared and the time that many spent in sharing their thoughts and memories. It made my that birthday one of the best ever!

I learned an important lesson when it comes to memories and experiences that we share together. I learned that my memory of an event can be slightly, or in some cases, vastly different than what others remember. I couldn’t help but chuckle when four friends versions of the same funny event that I told across the pulpit, was written down four different ways. The core of the story was there, but the details were so different that you would have to conclude that someone was in error regarding how this event really happened. Even funnier is the fact that I remember it differently from all four who wrote about it.

I was once again taught that written and oral ‘history’ are simply events shared by those who experienced it, as they ‘remember’ it. Truth is a very slippery thing. It becomes especially troublesome as the years pass and the events fade. Why is that important to know? Well, recently there has been documents released by our church relating to history, in addition to other documents that have been floating around for years, that are ‘unflattering’ to some historical church leaders. The same unflattering kind of documents are to be found regarding the founding fathers of our country as well as almost any historical figure of any significance. Are these documents and testimonies completely accurate? From my recent experience regarding my own history, as retold by my friends, I would doubt it. And these are friends, not my detractors. I can’t imagine what others might write or say!

We need to be ‘well-read,’ but not ‘well-lead’ by written statements that may or may not be accurate. We seem to be willing to readily accept bad things that people write about others without question, while easily dismissing all the good things that are also written.

I hope that when it comes to something as important as our faith in Christ, our faith in the leaders of the church, or our faith in the existence of God; we will not be too hasty in embracing things written by man, whose memories are clearly fallible and are sometimes laced with intent to harm or who have motives unknown.

Who Emerges From Our “Assumptions”

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I was raised in the suburbs of Washington D.C., a city boy all the way. However, my parents were both raised on a farm and so it was not surprising when, in their later years, and after all of us kids were out of the house, they sold our suburban home and bought a small farm in a rural part of the state. My father might best be described as a “gentleman” farmer as the farm was not the major means of income for him and my Mother.

Sometimes my brothers and I would come out to the farm to help out in a pinch. On one such occasion two of my brothers and I were helping unload a barn of hay. Some locals had purchased some hay and had come to the farm to load up their truck.  As we threw the hay down to them from the top of the barn they must have thought we were going too fast because the father, who was loading the truck with a son and helpers, yelled up to us in a polite way, “Hey, I’m sorry but we can’t keep up with you strong country boys. Could you slow down?” My brothers and I looked at each other and with a smile on my face I mouthed to them, “Country boys?” Not knowing us, this man-made an assumption about us which wasn’t correct. Later, my brothers and I laughed about it. Actually, I had assumed they were the “country boys”, but I must also have assumed wrong because if they had been, they wouldn’t have called us that name.

In the above story an erroneous innocent assumption on the part of both parties caused no real harm. But making assumptions about others by the way they look , dress, their faith, or occupation etc, can lead to more serious consequences. Most of us make assumptions about others because…well…it is so easy..and fun! And, more often than not, assumptions are mostly negative, not positive because…well…again, it is so fun to assume something negative about someone else. I guess human nature is such that by making less than positive “assumptions” about someone else, we somehow feel better about ourselves.

Over the years I have served with many different people inside the church. Some I have gotten to know on a personal level. I am often surprised as to who “emerges” from the “assumptions” I had made about them from a distance. More times than not, it has been for the positive. The same can be said for those I have gotten to know that have not been of my faith. I am usually surprised at how nice most people really are, once you get to know them.

I am sure that there have been many “assumptions” made about me over the years. I was once approached by a sister in the church concerning my willingness to support a program of the church she loved. It was a program she thought I was not in favor of. Her “assumption” was wrong, and after our private conversation she left with a different view on who I was. Judgement of others is best left to our personal experience with others, not to our assumptions.

I believe that we need to be benevolently judicious in our assessment of others. It would be wonderful if all of us could follow the adage of Will Rogers when he said, “I never met a man I didn’t like”. If we can’t be that much of a saint, perhaps we could amend his saying to read, “I assume I will never meet a man I won’t like.” In so doing, it’s likely that our “assumption” will come true.

Quotes From My “Fathers”

TheDiscipleMD
(A repost in honor of my Dad who passed away one year ago today)

Quoting someone, in my mind, is the highest form of compliment! I have noticed throughout my life that there is only one person that I find myself quoting over and over. That would be my father! In fact, I have quoted him so often that I wonder why it is that I don’t follow all the counsel and wisdom he has given me. I guess I do the same with my Heavenly Father as I often find myself ignoring promptings and feelings that would lead me to a better life. Yet, I know they both still love me despite my impetuous decisions and occasional irrational behavior!

My Earthly Father’s mind is still sharp despite his advanced years. When we have lunch he is still patiently listening to me as I go on and on about things happening in my world. I usually reserve the last five minutes of our conversation for him. And in that five minutes he masterfully gives me nuggets of gold on how to better live my life and he encourages me onward. I’m always left with another fabulous quote or two to pass on to my family and friends. I am also always left wondering why it is that I don’t just be quiet and let him have most of the time, because I would learn so much more if I did. Unfortunately, I find myself doing the same thing in my personal conversations with God. I pour out my heart to him, but seldom give Him time to answer back and give me wisdom.

One day my father will leave this world and I will no longer have access to his wise words. But of all the quotes he has left me with, it is the words of Peter which best summarizes everything my Father has attempted to teach me. In response to Jesus question regarding the disciples continuing to follow him, Peter declares:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life… We (I) believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69)

I am blessed to have a Father whose legacy to his family, is the above quote, which captures, if taken to heart, a lesson that would change the world into a much better place. Thanks Dad! You’re teachings, highlighted by quotes, has blessed me to live a happier and more blessed life. Your example, has given me hope and faith in another Father, who also loves me, as you do; and where to find His quotes, as recorded in the Holy Scriptures. You have taught me to believe in “Quotes from my Fathers!”

The Worth Of A Single Strawberry

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The stairs to her neighbor’s house seemed to go on forever for the little girl. And although her Dad was holding her tiny six-year old hand, the ascent up those numberless stairs seemed so scary and forbidding. With her Father at her side, she reached up to ring the doorbell. She could barely hold the tears back as the front door swung open. There he stood, Mr. Hoffmaster. He seemed to fill the entire doorway. If only, the little girl thought. If only I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be standing here. Her mind raced back to the week before.

The Hoffmaster’s were her next door neighbors. They had been on vacation the week before. The little girl liked them. So what she had to confess that day to Mr. Hoffmaster was made even more difficult because they had always been so nice to her. She looked up at her Father and he nodded for her to proceed.

“While you were gone I…I ate a Strawberry out of your garden. I’m sorry.”

There, she said it. Her eyes started to fill with tears. Mr. Hoffmaster thanked her for being honest and accepted her apology. The little six year old felt such a burden lift as the door closed and she turned to go back home. Her father was still holding her hand as they walked. She looked up at him and was glad that he had encouraged her to tell what she had done. She felt good about herself. She felt good that she had confessed. But most of all, she felt good about her Dad.

My wife never forgot the lesson she learned that day from her father concerning right and wrong, consequences, and owning up for your actions. What is the worth of one single strawberry? That depends! For my wife, the lesson was incalculable; courtesy of a loving Father, who took the time to teach that stealing one strawberry is not about worth, but about values.

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