Thursday, July 27, 2006


Oh my God!!! And a few other choice phrases come to mind when dealing with car dealers. That's been a part of my week, the wifey and I are in process of down-sizing a bit in the transportation department which has had us at several dealerships looking, haggling, walking away, etc. Which has left me with this simple truth: Car dealers have earned their reputation, you know, the not-so-good one?

Now I'm not casting this shadow on all individual salespeople, I'm sure there are plenty that I wouldn't mind spending a whole day with, I have yet to find them though. But it's the system they've created. I mean, where else on the entire planet do people do business this way?

Show interest in product, inquire about price and get several suggestions about options, but no solid figure. Let's talk about a payment, what amount can you afford? Well, what about this amount? (higher than what you just told them, of course) Well, let's look at another vehicle. (even though you're not interested in another vehicle) And then, you're left sitting at a desk while your salesperson leaves for a back room somewhere only to return offering you a deal that doesn't look anything like what you've been discussing for the last hour and a half. Rinse and repeat several times. That's been my experience every trip of the train. Who thought of this? On what planet is this system embraced and thought well of? Enough ranting, I feel better.

However, it has brought to mind something my friend Jesus said. Historians and Theologians call it the "Sermon On The Mount". Also referred to as the "Beatitudes", but basically, Jesus was giving a short course in life.....sort of "Life 101". And as He's going along He starts talking about people taking oaths and swearing by this and that, and He says to stop doing that. A better idea, He suggests, is to simply "Let your 'Yes be Yes' and 'No be No'." In other words, just do what you say you're going to do. Sounds simple, huh? Why is that so hard for most of the world? And why is it so difficult for car salesmen, in particular? (just sayin'...)

I believe it has to do with all of us being broken and needing Jesus to repair that brokenness, I know that from personal experience, not something I read. But imagine the possibilities of people simply meaning what they say. The implications are profound.

So today I say to you, and to Mr. Car Dealer, simply say what you mean and do what you say. That alone will make this world, at least your corner of it, a much better place.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

What Stirs Your Soul?

Thought for today......

You will not find true, inner, REAL happiness until you can define what stirs your soul. Here in the west, the familiar lie is that "stuff" will make us happy, or money, so many of us jump on the merry-go-round of chasing that money to get that stuff. Don't get me wrong, we've all got to eat and bills to pay, but what if we could do that by doing something that we'd actually do for free?

What is it for you? I can tell you one thing, there is something in all of us that stirs our soul, something that when we can get ahold of it, all of life seems to make sense. Just a warning, it seems to be harder to define the older we get. Our youth made it easy to dream and wish of what we wanted to do and be when we grew up, and somehow, as life goes on, we carry the weight of "responsibility" around like a ball and chain. What about our responsibility to be true to ourselves?

At the risk of garnering criticism and starting arguments, may I suggest that for many, finding that which stirs the soul is a life and death proposition. Spending a lifetime doing something we really don't like to do literally drains the life out of us, but filling our days involved in something that enrgizes and fulfills us can be life giving. So what does it look like?

As I said before, it's different for each of us but here a few general characteristics:
  • You will be passionate about it. Thoughts and discussions about it carry an emotional value.
  • There is never a point at which you "get enough" of it. You find yourself coming back to it over and over. (At this point you're thinking it sounds alot like an on.)
  • It has value for others. Others will find beauty and value in the thing that stirs your soul. It adds to the world around you and others notice.

That last point is very important, it's what keeps it from becoming selfish indulgence. For example: you absolutely love to fish, you can spend hours and days on the water, it makes you feel fully alive. The value in this example would be to share that love and knowledge by becoming a fishing guide, and in so doing it may even feed and clothe you.

That may sound completely simplistic and irrational to you. I understand, this world is full of people who love to tell others that their dreams and heart's desires are foolish. But I'm here to tell you otherwise...they are a clue. A clue to that which stirs your soul. May God, the One who placed the clues here for us, help each of us to discover and embrace them.


Thursday, July 13, 2006


I spent the morning golfing with friends today. Although I'm not very good, I enjoy the game. More than the actual game, it's the "getting away" I enjoy most. Playing golf forces me away from the office, the computer, the phone, etc. Today's round was pretty typical for me - just trying not to embarass myself and lose every ball in my bag. And about the time I begin thinking that I really shouldn't be on the course, I hit a shot that gives me hope. As I said, that's typical of my game, I just don't get out enough to do any better, and for the most part I'm okay with that. I have no asperations of joining the tour.

However, today's highlight for me wasn't the few tee shots that I sent perfectly down the fairway...well out of sight, or even the scarce pars I made. It wasn't the perfect pitch out of the sand trap or the 20 foot put that I drained either. No, today's highlight was the laughter, of which I provided the fuel for.

You see, in addition to the those shots I mentioned earlier, there was one that bounced off the handle of a rake near a bunker, one that bounced off a curb on the cart path, one that bounced off a tree (even as scarce as they are around these parts), and one that bounced of a tee marker on the tee box (highly unorthodox shot, I don't recommend it). Of course, I wasn't laughing at the first couple of those, but by the end of the round, it had really become comical, so joining in the laughing was easy. And as I say, it was the highlight of my round of golf today - smiling and laughing with friends.

I must confess that too often I'm far too serious, just ask my wife. But laughter feels good and I believe there are studies that indicate a health component to it as well. I find as I grow older that I long for more of it. Maybe I've realized that it's one of the more desirable things life has to offer. In a world where pain and suffering are the norm on the evening news, it becomes pretty obvious.

So today, instead of just knocking the dust off my clubs and reminding myself that I'm not a great golfer, I got an unexpected gift - the gift of laughter.

Oh yeah, and new nickname.....just call me ricochet.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Living A Legacy

Did you see it? Italy won the World Cup, and everyone except the majority of the USA was watching. That in itself would make an interesting blog (why one country seemingly shows no interest in something that captures the hearts and minds of the rest of the world) but I wanted to blog about an event in the game.

Soccer superstar Zinedine Zidane, playing for France, lost his cool and was red carded (ejected from the game) for head butting an opponent in the chest during overtime. (read full story at Yahoo Sports here) And this is what he's being talked about all around the world this morning and undoubtedly will be remembered for.

Zidane is without question one of the premier players of soccer in the world. For years he has played at a level unequaled by most, garnering thousands of fans and numerous championships. And yet, most of that will be forgotten, overshadowed by his momentary lapse of good judgment, left with a legacy of shame.

What a common human dilemma. History is filled with the memories of great men and women whose claim to fame is public shame. (nice rhyme, huh?) No need to name names but many of them were doing good, even great things before that, but unfortunately none of it gets remembered. That's the world we live in.

This world watches and waits for us to stumble and fall, which has always made me wonder about people who willingly pursue the public spotlight. I guess when "it" happens, it gives all of us opportunity to place ourselves above that unfortunate soul. False righteousness at its finest, and such a contrast between the way God sees us.

Jesus said that "there is only One who is good." (Matthew 19:16) To me, that means we all have the same problem when it comes to lapses of good judgment and are prone to stumble and fall at any time, so why do we make big deals about it when it happens? But unlike the world, God knows this about us all too well, and out of His love for us, He's made provision for us when it happens. It's called grace, and like a loving Father, He reaches out His hand. But instead of pointing a finger of condemnation at us, He offers to help us get up and shows us a better way of living.

In this world we will always have the criticism and condemnation of others to deal with, but remember - the One who made it all loves you just like you are and wants to spend all of eternity with you. That's a legacy I can live with.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Abundant Life

I ran across this quote last week, not sure who's it is:

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming - "WOW, What a ride!"

I think I agree. Much like the puppy in the picture here, I'd like to find myself at the end of my life simply overwhelmed with all it had to offer. Without regret because I at least attempted to embrace all of it.

Not to sound morbid, but the only guarantee we have in this life is the end of it - death. Far too many people IMHO (in my humble opinion) spend much of their life in worry about their death. That puzzles me. My days of indulgence and excess are behind me, but I'm always up for something new. In fact, lately I find myself wanting to do things I've never done, go places I haven't been, meet new people, etc. And the more I do of that, the more I feel my life is full, abundant if you will.

I use that word because someone I trust very much said that my life should be abundant. My friend Jesus said that's what I'm supposed to be experiencing here, it's mine for the taking, so I stepped up to get it. Now He didn't promise a life without trouble, He said there would be plenty, and He's been right. But He also said that He would always be with me (He has) and that my life can be full (and it is). That's why I trust Him, the stuff He's told me are things I can count on.

I hope you have a trustworthy friend. I hope your life feels full and abundant. I hope you find yourself saying "WOW! What a ride!" someday.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

May I Help You?

This photo had me wondering.....

Did the mouse ask for help? Does the frog mind?

Apparently this was snapped during flooding in Lucknow, India. Not mortal enemies or anything, but certainly a pair not known for hanging out together. But there it is. Probably not a big deal for the frog, but life changing for the mouse, eh?

Which led to my next thought.....

Who can we help?