When the violin of the famous Paganini was broken, it is told that rather than throw up his hands he “challenged” the loss. It was also told that like any person who lost something so valuable, he was disappointed but not defeated. He went out and got another violin. And, he let it be known that he was far from finished when he said, “I will show them that the music is in me and not in any instrument.”
Life is full of challenges, ups and downs, victories and defeats, successes and failures. Dr. Evelyn Laycock was one of my professors at Hiwassee College who knew how to get a point across in such a way that I continue to remember, what I consider to be some of the great insights into life that she shared with her students. One that I remember very vividly and have shared with others is the following: “Failure is not in falling down but in failing to get up once you have fallen.”
Dr. Laycock was a tremendous teacher of the Bible and a great example as a Christian. I believe that she and Paganini had something in common. I believe they understood that the “music” is within, just like the Kingdom of God is within and the expression of the beauty of either is not dependent upon a particular set of circumstances, good or bad. May we claim the “music” that God has put within each of us!
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 3:00 PM EDT
We have all heard the term “mood swings” used to describe someone’s behavior at a certain time. As human beings we are all subject to such swings from feeling good about ourselves and the world in which we live or feeling not so good about ourselves and the world in which we live. Behaviorists will tell us that such swings are quite normal. However, they will also tell us that it is not a good thing to be stuck for a long period of time in one extreme of the spectrum of emotional or psychological behavior. Indeed, they would be quick to tell us that it is healthy to maintain a decent balance of feeling good and feeling not so good.
Actually, living in the extremes is not so good for much of anything including our religious perceptions and behaviors. I have always believed that for a healthy theological/faith perspective that there must be a necessary balance between conviction and action.
For instance, some, when it comes to their religious experience, are heavily invested in their personal experience of Jesus as Lord and Savior to the exclusion of being socially aware and concerned about and for persons who for any number of reasons must exist on the periphery of our society and culture. On the other hand, there are those who live out their faith so caught up in social action that they can be in danger of losing a sense of adoration for the one who calls us into the world in the first place. There are many groups that go around doing good. We go around doing good in the name of Jesus.
Our United Methodist doctrine, theological underpinnings remind us that a healthy religious life is one that holds “personal piety and social action” in balance, in tension. Yes, it is great to claim Jesus as Savior. Yes, it is great to be socially aware and involved. However, it is much better and fits more the life style of our savior to hold these two key elements of the Christian experience in balance and tension.
Worship without action is not good. Nor, is action without worship good. Especially if one seeks to follow Jesus “more fully.”
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Friday, February 2, 2018 @ 10:12 AM EDT
2018 Wishes and Promises
In his book, All the Promises of the Bible, Herbert Lockyear claims there are 8000 listed. Among this listing, many promises have to do with faith and are foretastes of personal desires and wishes granted by God.
When Solomon requested “wisdom”, God promised three gifts, with the last one being conditional. In I Kings 3:1-15, God provided 1) an understanding mind (wisdom), 2) wealth and fame and 3) a long life for Solomon, based on his obedience.
What is your wish? What is a promise you’d love for God to manifest in your personal life that might positively impact others?
I think of the lyrics in a song written by William H. Bathurst, Oh, For a Faith That Will Not Shrink and it is this title that shapes my wish. Evidence of God’s promises to give “faith” to those who believe reminds us of prayer as an important condition. With nearly 8000 promises in Scripture it would take nearly 22 years to use each of the promises once, according to Everet Storms, Canadian schoolteacher. Storms extensively studied God’s promises, reading the Bible twenty seven times and tallying divine promises.
May we trust God during our times of testing, asking for “…a faith that shines more bright and clear, when tempests rage without; that when in danger, knows no fear, in darkness feels no doubt;” Oh for a Faith That Will Not Shrink (verse 3) In case you’d like to get better acquainted with God’s promises, attached is a link to an online biblical resource of Scripture Promises and Prayers for your personal use.
–– Linda I. McDaniel
Published on Thursday, January 25, 2018 @ 11:45 AM EDT
Think back to a time when you did NOT get the Christmas present that you were really hoping for. Maybe it was a Red Rider BB gun or a toy from your youth, maybe it was something more significant like an engagement ring or some other expression of love, or maybe it was seeing the one person you missed the most. Many of us have experienced some kind of disappointment during the holiday season. But as we continue through these first weeks of the New Year I hope that we can hear these words and be filled with praise:
“God does not give us everything we want, but God does fulfill all God’s promises, i.e., God remains the Lord of the earth, God preserves the Church, constantly renewing our faith and not laying on us more than we can bear, gladdening us with Divine nearness and help, hearing our prayers, and leading us along the best and straight paths to holiness. By God’s faithfulness in doing this, God creates in us praise for God alone.” (Bonhoeffer, Letter and Papers from Prison p 206)
God is faithful to who God is and God’s faithfulness includes a deep and abounding love for all of God’s Children. My prayer for each of us in the New Year is that we might stand firm on the promises of God and be filled with praise for God alone in order that all might come to know of his love and grace.
– Will Lauderback
Published on Thursday, January 11, 2018 @ 2:13 PM EDT
Sometime ago I read a fascinating book about developing new churches entitled Start This Stop That by Jim and Jennifer Cowart. The book has a lot of great suggestions about new church starts, but I am just using the title as a catalyst for a few comments about how one might approach a new year.
So, start this and stop that. What might one start in 2018? What might one stop in 2018? To be fair to the book, since I am borrowing the authors’ key idea, one might couch the notion in terms of examining what does one start in order to stop keeping one from enjoying oneself and others more fully in this new year. Perhaps one could start with something Jesus once said, “Why bother with the splinter in someone else’s eye when there is a plank in yours.” And, to start something that would stop hurt feelings when someone calls into question another someone, one might remember something St. Paul once said, “Don’t think more highly of yourself than you should.” For another thing, how might one start feeling better about oneself when feeling bad about oneself because one cannot handle being imperfect. One could take to heart some words the Lord spoke to St. Paul when he was having difficulty dealing with his own imperfections, the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient.”
Now, one could go on and on with this, but I am limited with space and I know that Anita would really like for me to start writing these articles with the requested number of words and stop exceeding the limit in this new year. Thus, I will attempt to start that and stop this.
– Doug Fairbanks
Published on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 @ 9:08 AM EDT