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Archive for February, 2011

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere (II Corinthians 2:14).”

I recently interviewed for an important job at work. I didn’t get it.

However, as my boss and I talked, he told me,”I’m happy you want to up your game.” I replied that in that context I also needed to support my family.

My boss pulled out a calculator. He then told me of another job coming up soon and asked me if I would be interested. It was an administrative type job that would fill out my resume in his eyes.

This week the supervisor in charge offered me this job. It’s temporary, but when she flashed the payment over the next couple of months I don’t think I believed it.

I had to  contact her again and confirm it. She did.

I begin this job in a week and I am naturally a little anxious. It means a lot of work and the need to perform. However, what should I expect if  I want to, as my boss said, “up my game”?

My career is not the only place I am working at upping my game.  I am working really hard at becoming a better husband and father these days as well.

For instance, I am attending two early morning men’s meetings to get a handle on what it means to be a man. I have also met with a counselor recently. Last weekend my wife and I went to a marriage conference.

All this activity  on my part is a surprise to me. I am by nature a pleghmatic individual.

I am more of an oberver. The less nice way of putting this is that I am a “couch potato”.

I think there is a reason for this desire to up my game. It comes from some news I received in the last six months.

I recently was diagnosed with a slow moving form of leukemia. Medicine is keeping it under control, but the news was a wake up call to me.

In my current thinking, I have to make a choice of what kind of legacy I want to leave. Do I want to be remembered as a mediocre person, even a failure, and one who might not be remebered at all? Or, do I want to  be remembered as a good husband and father, and a person who impacts my sphere of influence?

Once, a few years ago, I shared my life story with a group of old age pensioners. After I had finished, one of them said, “Sounds like you’ve led a checkered career.”

This isn’t how I want to be remembered. I don’t want my epitaph to read,”He led a checkered life”.

I was somewhat offended by that remark, yet amused at the same the same time. The old guy was right, really.

The apostle Paul wrote of a man who had caused others much grief. In turn, this fellow had been punished by those who he had offended.

Apparently, however, the man had turned his life around.Paul asked that he be forgiven and loved again(II Corinthians 2:5-9).

I want to be like this man. Therefore, I am seeking to right the wrongs I have inflicted on my family, and on myself. I am hoping that for the rest of the cruise that I will be a man worthy of the love of my wife and children.

This won’t just happen. It will take a lot of work on my part.  

For example, Robert Lewis says that living with a woman means having insight and skill. He notes to men that if you think you know what you are doing when it comes to relating to a woman, it is the biggest mistake of your life.

Lewis says learning how to relate to a woman is  like learning a foreign language. I know how difficult it is, and I understand it will  take a lot of time and effort.

Time and energy will also be required at my new job. I bring a lot of skills and experience into it, but there is a lot I have to learn.

God put me here to work. He also gave me a wife so I wouldn’t be lonely (Genesis 2:8-24). It’s my responsibility to sacrifice for her and to take care of the tasks He has given me at work.

James Brown wrote a song of a man on the move, an old guy with a new attitude:

“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”

Come here sister…..Papa’s in the swing
He ain’t too hip…about that new breed babe
He ain’t no drag
Papa’s got a brand new bag

Come here mama….and dig this crazy scene
He’s not too fancy….but his line is pretty clean
He ain’t no drag.
Papa’s got a brand new bag

He’s doing the Jerk….
He’s doing the Fly
Don’t play him cheap ’cause you know he ain’t shy
He’s doing the Monkey, the Mashed Potatoes, Jump back Jack, See you later
alligator.

Come here sister
Papa’s in the swing
He ain’t too hip now
but I can dig that new breed babe;
He ain’t no drag
He’s got a brand new bag

Oh papa! He’s doing the Jerk
Papa…he’s doing the Jerk
He’s doing the twist … just like this,
He’s doing the Fly ev’ry day and ev’ry night
The thing’s….like the Boomerang.
Hey….come on
Hey! Hey…..come on
Hey! Hey….he’s pu tight…out of sight…
Come on. Hey! Hey!”

I want my wife to see I have some new energy and a new attitude. It’s time to man up and be a leader at work, too.

The old me kind of stunk up the joint at times. Indeed, as far back as high school a classmate wrote in my yearbook that I had a “pervasive air of disgust”.

With the leadership of Jesus, I hope to spread a savory odor of Him at home and in the office. Papa’s got a brand new bag!

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (II Corinthians 1:3,4).”

The other morning I went to put on some clean pants and noticed a problem. They wouldn’t fasten.

I figured that maybe they had shrunk in the wash. Surely I could not have put on weight.

I reviewed my diet of the last couple of weeks and came up with a sad conclusion. I had eaten my way into a bigger belly.

The main culprit I believe is the food sitting around the office. My colleagues tend to leave their goodies in our small kitchenette for the taking.

With my sweet tooth, this is dangerous. However, the taste for a delectable treat isn’t the main reason I think I eat that stuff.

The reality is I need comfort food. In our fast-paced, stress filled environment at the office, there is little time to eat.

In the pressure of the day, when I look over at the kitchen counter, 10 feet from my desk, I can’t resist the solace that sweet thing gives me. So I gobble it down.

Add these regular slurps of dessert at work to our weekend ice cream at home, and the occasional grocery store doughnut, and you have a fatty waiting to happen.  Coming to this realization at the end of this week didn’t keep my from crunching on the leftover cupcake in my classroom, or the half eaten cherry pie in the kitchenette, however.

I surmise that there is only one solution to my problem: I’ve gotta find my comfort in something else besides food.

I am a comfort freak. Always have been. My idea of camping is the Holiday Inn.

Unfortunately, the symathy I gain from comfort food is counterfeit. It doesn’t last, and it is actually harmful.

It’s kind of like trying to get  joy from a Badfinger song when you actually need the Beatles. If you don’t remember Badfinger, they were a 70s group that many considered the heirs of the sound of the great John, Paul, George and Ringo. Does anybody remember Pete, Tom, Ron and Joey?

As one review blogger puts it, “Badfinger were one the best Beatles ripoffs to harmonize in the early ’70s; though naturally the imitation pales in comparison to the original (http://starling.rinet.ru/music/temp/badfinger.html)”. This blogger is spot on.

Badfinger is appealing. But I knew the Beatles (at least in my ear), and Badfinger, you’re no Beatles.

The reason Badfinger never reached their potential is because the boys put   their trust in a bad man. Their American manager apparently ran off with their riches.

The result was financial ruin and two suicides among the band members. The group folded.

We oughtn’t put our trust in food, or people, for comfort. Badfinger sang a hit song in which they portrayed a boy trying to get a girl to find her solace in him:

“No matter what you are
I will always be with you
Doesn’t matter what you do girl, oh girl with you
No matter what you do
I will always be around
Won’t you tell me what you found girl, oh girl won’t you
Knock down the old brick wall, and be a part of it all
Nothing to say, nothing to see, nothing to do
If you would give me all, as I would give it to you
Nothing would be, nothing would be, nothing would be
No matter where you go
There will always be a place
Can’t you see in my face girl, oh girl don’t you.”

Obviously, if this girl was real, she was in for a big disappointment. Her suitor was undependable as a bad tooth.

 He didn’t hang around when things got tough. Offering comfort to her, he bailed and committed suicide.

I know deep in my heart that there is only one place I can find the consolation I seek in comfort food at my office, or in the grocery shelf. Only Jesus Christ can provide the feeling of relief and encouragement I am looking for.

John the Baptist sought comfort from Jesus and got it. He had hoped against hope that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

But John found himself in jail and his life was in danger. Indeed, he would soon be beheaded.

John had his doubts. So he sent his followers to ask Jesus if He were IT or not. Here is what Jesus said in reply to John’s query:

“Go back and report to John what you hear and see:  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor (Matthew 11:4-5).”

Jesus was, and is,  the real deal. He was, and is,  the embodiment of the comfort only God can offer (Matthew 11:27-30).

The next time the pressure is on and I run for the truffle at work,  I need to remember that the temporary, phoney strength it will provide  pales in comparison to that offered by God through Jesus Christ.

The next time my colleagues leave a goodie around, I should adopt the philosophy of Jesus, who said when offered some chow by his disciples,”My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work (John 4:34).”

I think this self control will benefit not only my waistline, but also put me on the right path to a lifestyle helpful to others as well.

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