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Thursday, September 22, 2005

News or sensationalism?

I was struck last night about the news coverage for the plane that landed at LAX in Los Angeles. The pilot did a great job in landing the plane.

I was grateful that everyone was okay.

But what if everything had not been okay? What if the plane had crashed and burned and everybody died?

It's a horrible question but it leads me to this.

When does a "news event" become sensationalism? Accident chasing?

And then...I watched on the news this morning that the passengers on the plane were watching their own landing because of the news reports that were being broadcasted live to each passenger (Each passenger had a T.V. screen in front of them - in the back of the airplane seat in front of them).

That would be wild - almost surreal! Would I want that to be on the screen?

Would you?

Again, the hard question - what if things had gone bad? They would have been watching their own deaths on T.V.!

How far should the media go in bringing us "live" news?

Interested to hear your comments.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Encouraging you to encourage

I encourage you to encourage someone today.

Make a point of uplifting someone with words that will help them to go on.

I have read where it takes 10 positive statements to overcome one negative one.

The average pastor deals with conflict 20 hours a week - when encouraging words come they are like an oasis of water in the middle of the desert.

They are like pumpkin pie at the end of a great Thanksgiving meal.

They are like...well you get the idea.

An encouraging word can keep me going for entire week, if not month, if not a year.

I was reading this week about Willie Mays. The "say hey" kid.

Willie Mays began his major league baseball career with only one hit in his first 26 at-bats. Though he went on to hit 660 home runs (third on the all-time list), and steal more than 300 bases, his debut was so unimpressive it seemed unlikely he would last more than a few weeks as a big-leaguer, let alone become one of the greatest to play the game.

The turning point for Mays occurred when his manager, Leo Durocher, found him crying in the dugout after yet another miserable performance at the plate.

The coach put his arm around Mays and said, "What's the matter, son?" Mays said, "I can't hit up here. I belong in the minor leagues."

Durocher said this to Willie Mays: "As long as I'm manager of the Giants, you'll be my centerfielder."

You know how the story ends. It wasn't long before Mays began hitting the ball, and he was on his way to becoming a legend of the game.

If Willie had been left alone in the dugout that day, his career might have ended before it started. Fortunately for him (and for baseball) someone believed in him even when he didn't believe in himself.

Durocher's speech wasn't "You're a disappointment. Do you know how much you're costing the team? You're on the verge on blowing your big chance!" He simply said, "I know that you can make it."

Is there someone in your life who needs your vote of confidence? Someone who's ready to give up? Someone who no longer believes in their ability to do what God has called them to do?

You have the opportunity to lift them up. Your words — your confidence — can help get them back on track.

The Apostle Paul recognized the value of encouragement in the lives of believers. Have you ever noticed how often in the New Testament the word "strengthen" (or "build up") accompanies the word "encouragement"? When you offer encouragement to others, you quite literally renew their strength. Paul challenged us all:

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are in fact doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Take a look around you today. There may be a future Hall-of-Famer who needs a good word from you. Give them some encouragement.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Someone once said:

"If you can't get to sleep at night, check your pillow."

"If you can't get to sleep for two nights, check your mattress."

"If you can't get to sleep for three night, check your conscience."

Paul wrote to Timothy in First Timothy 6:6, "true religion with contentment is great wealth."

What does the word contentment mean to you?

How do you respond to the statement, "Contentment is _________"?

What is your "fill in the blank" answer?

Here's what I am learning. Contentment is not the opposite of success. In our culture we somehow believe that I am only content when I stop striving and straining to reach the goals that I have set in my life.

Contentment is not being lazy. Rich and poor people can be discontented.

Contentment is not being passive or meek.

Contentment doesn't mean you don't have ambition.

If my ambitions come from a desire to serve God, to help others, and to improve myself so I will have a greater impact in my world, then the fulfillment of your ambition will bring you contentment.

Contentment is elusive to us, because we are scared to death that the world is going to pass us by. It remains a future thing.

I will be contented when:

I have a baby.
I get another job.
My kids are raised.
I retire.
I get over my illness.

God wants us to be contented in the present.

What is contentment? Peace of mind. Happiness. Joy.

It's ironic - we fight and strain and push forward for happiness, satisfaction and peace of mind by overspending, ocvercommitting, and overworking.

Striving, consuming and accumulating will never bring happiness.

There is tremendous power in contentment, because when you are content with what you have, you are free. You are free from concern over having it all now, and free from worry, stress and anxiety.

Where does my contentment come from? From my relationship with God.

Strive for contentment today by striving for a deeper relationship with God.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Character is who you are in the dark

I was raised in a generation that compartmentalized. Compartmentalization is where I don't let what I do in one area of my life affect what I do in other areas of my life.

Bill Clinton is an obvious example of compartmentalization. He could have sex with an intern in the White House and not let it affect the way he ran the country - because he compartmentalized.

I would suggest to you that God wants us to look at our Christian lives as a whole. That one area DOES affect the other - and especially our character.

At its root, character is defined by integrity, and at the heart of integrity is the idea of wholeness. If an object or a person has integrity, it means that the object or person is in an unbroken condition.

A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link - to use an old cliche.

To have character, I must have integrity. To have integrity, I must be continually "whole" in my life.

Character is who you are in the dark. I love that quote. It's so true. I was reading this week an interesting thought from the movie "Titanic."

(By the way - I caught the end of the older version of the movie the other day on T.V. - the black and white version - and found it much better - they were singing the old Welsh hymn "nearer my God to Thee" as the boat went down it was beautiful and moving).

Anyway, I read that one of the primary reasons the ship was considered unsinkable was because of the compartments in its hull. The theory was that flooding in one compartment due to a breach - a broken place - in the hull wouldn't affect other compartments because of the high walls between them.

What the Titanic's designers did not anticipate was that the collision with the iceberg slashed through several compartments at once, so that the sea water spilled over the walls from one compartment to another until the ship sank.

The same things applies our lives.

We think that we can keep a break on part of our lives from impacting the others parts, but it just doesn't work that way.

An Integrity break in one compartment of your life will spill over to another until your entire life begins to sink.

So how do we keep our lives from flooding.

Integrity is a key word. Keep our lives together. Living our lives in private the way we do in public, and vice versa.

I quote, "when you live your life as a whole rather than in parts, you can handle breaks (and you will have them) because they are caring people around who will help you repair the damage - if they know about it."

So, pay attention to the small stuff in your life. Do what it takes every day to develop your character and preserve your integrity. Let's live our lives to please God!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Listening is a key to success

Listen, George, listen. We talked about listening last night in our marriage class.

Debbie and I were eating alone at the dinner table the other night and Debbie was chatting away. Talking and having a conversation, it turned out, alone. And then she started answering herself!

At that point, I started laughing.

As we know, women are wired to be conversational with the capacity for 25,000 words a day.

Men are wired to be factual with the capacity for 15,000 a day. By the time we get home, we have used our quota up.

Yet, I am purposing in my heart to listen.

A few years ago Paine-Webber employed an advertising campaign that emphasized their ability to listen to the client's needs and custom-design an investment package for each one. You may remember the ads: "How did your broker know you wanted to retire early?" "He ASKED."

They were selling the idea that Paine-Webber representatives listen. The ability to listen is so rare, this major brokerage firm considers it a selling point.

Compare the success of this campaign with that of E.F. Hutton. Of course, everyone remembers "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen." However, investors weren't impressed; today E.F. Hutton is out of business. Paine-Webber realized that people want to invest in a company with a reputation for listening, rather than one with a reputation for talking.

Getting a reputation for being a talker is easy: just open your mouth and let some sound come out. Eventually you'll get someone's attention. Developing a reputation as a listener is a different matter, and there's a "trick" to it. You've got to stop talking long enough to hear what others are saying, and—more importantly—you must value the other person, or you'll never be an effective listener.

Many successful people attribute their success to their ability to listen. Diane Sawyer said, "There is no substitute for paying attention." Sam Walton said "The key to success is to get out into the store and listen...Our best ideas come from clerks and stockboys." Chili's Restaurant says that 80% of its current menu came from suggestions made by employees and customers.

President Lyndon Johnson kept a sign on his wall that said, "You ain't learning nothing when you're doing all the talking."

Solomon said practically the same thing: "Let the wise men listen and add to their learning." (Proverbs 1:5) As we strive to become better listeners, let's remember these words.

Listen, listen, listen!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

How could God allow Katrina?

Last Sunday morning, we wrestled with the question of "who is to blame for the tragedy of hurricane katrina." Is it Satan? Sin? Our society? Is is God?

Whose to blame.

I came across this article today that I thought would further the dialogue on the subject. Any thoughts?

How Could God Allow Katrina?
The problem of evil forcefully reasserts itself.
by Will Reaves

While the dead have yet to be counted and the damage to New Orleans is not fully assessed, it seems safe to say that the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will be with us for years. Already, the recriminations for Katrina are growing, with the federal, state, and city governments each being blamed for playing a role in the disaster response, and occasionally blaming each other in turn.

For Christians, however, the primary focus—at least at this stage—should not be assigning blame but being salt and light in the midst of crisis. (Here are some good ways to start.) Beyond the practical help, there are two particularly pressing questions of faith. The first is, as many asked after the tsunami last year, "How could God let such horrid things happen?" The second, after witnessing the breakdown of order and civility in the hours following the storm, is, "How could we let such horrid things happen?"

Both of these questions deal with theodicy: Why does God allow evil to exist? Can't God stop both human and natural evil? If he can, why doesn't he? That these perennial questions arise in response to every tragedy, war, and disaster shows the enduring nature of our doubt and the magnitude of the question. Both "natural" evil (natural disasters, disease, suffering of animals) and "human" evil (wars, genocides, injustice) mock our ability to make the reality of an omnipotent, loving God sensible in the wake of suffering.

Is Human Sin God's Design?

With human evil, the explanation comes slightly easier: God allows us freedom; thus we are free to choose to do evil. Dating back to Augustine of Hippo, Christian theodicy has frequently declared evil to be the lack of good, a perversion of the blessings of life and freedom that God generously granted to us. By describing evil as a "non-thing" Augustine absolved God of the responsibility of creating it; by making it the result of creaturely freedom, the blame shifts to us creatures. Augustine's teachings on the inherent depravity of the human will seem particularly justified in the wake of the collapse of order in New Orleans.

As Christians we should not respond smugly to such events; Augustine, along with more recent writers like C.S. Lewis, emphasized that Christians are frequently just as weak-hearted and needing of God's sanctifying grace. Both Lewis and Augustine agree that, as Kenneth Kantzer puts it, "The Christian life then becomes a slow, painstaking, often very painful, and always infinitely complex process by which God structures within us the perfect goodness of Christ." Only by seeking and yearning for God's will to be done in our lives can we begin to combat the evils of the world.

When Blame Cannot Suffice

But even with the issue of human evil "settled," the issue of "acts of God" remains. We can plausibly blame the evils of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot on Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. But who could be at fault for cancer or hurricanes or earthquakes but God? How does theodicy ultimately answer the question "Why is life unfair?"

As it was in the days of Job, it is somewhat faddish to assume that even illness or sudden misfortune must somehow be the fault of the sufferer. Thus, such events are God's righteous anger bearing down upon the wicked; there is no evil or unfairness because the suffering is just punishment. But the illusion that affliction only happens to those who really, in some unknown way, deserve it cannot bear up under scrutiny. Kathryn Lindskoog dismantles this line of thought in Building Your Church Through Counsel and Care. There comes a point where the issue of blame simply must be left aside. Only then can we truly begin to serve those who are suffering.

John Stackhouse, summarizing what he calls the "challenge of evil," notes the ultimate impossibility of understanding the plan of God. He argues that trust in God must come first, and only then can we begin to learn to accept his purposes. The inherently subjective and personal nature of the problem serves to keep us humble and avoid pat answers to explain away the pain of others.

In the end, he suggests that the question "Where is God when people suffer?" was best answered by Mother Teresa: "God is there, suffering with [them]. The question really is, where are you?" Thus, the true answer to the problem of evil is not an intellectual defense of God but an active expression of Christian love. We can hope and pray (and act) to show that love in the days ahead.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Great dialogue includes listening

Good communication is the oil to a well run organizational machine. Sometimes I do well at communicating, other times I don't. It is a continual learning process.

It was pointed out to me this week that an essential tool for communication is dialogue.

What is dialogue? Dialogue is the process by which a group of people come together to pool their learning resources in a manner that cannot be accomplished individually.

A group of people practices dialogue when the members contribute to a free flow of thought, resulting in the group learning together.

This concept has been developed by MIT business professor Peter Senge.

He contrasts dialogue with discussion. Senge writes, "In a discussion, different views are presented and defended, and....may provide useful analysis of the whole situation. In dialogue different views are presented as a means toward discovering a new video. In discussion, decisions are made. In a dialogue, complex issues are explored."

The purpose of dialogue is not to "win" but to "discover".

To have good dialogue, Senge outlines the three basic conditions necessary:

1. All participants must "suspend" their assumptions while at the same time communicating their assumptions about the topic.

2. All participants must regard one another as colleagues and friends on an equal plane.

3. There must be a facilitator who guides the connect of dialogue. Most people do not know how to dialogue. They know how to discuss, argue their point. For the team members to practice dialogue, there must be someone who opens the door to dialogue and keeps that door open.

All of this is wrapped around the concept of listening.

Three rules of good communication: Listen, listen, listen.

I recently read of an office supply store the author saw a new and improved technological gadget and $400 speaker phone boasting "handset-quality" voice reproduction. The main selling point on the box was "Now you can talk and listen at the same time!"

Isn't this the problem with human interaction, that we have a tendency to try to talk and listen at the same time? Do we need technology to make the situation worse?

The primary obstacle to effective communication is our inability (or unwillingness) to listen. For many, conversation isn't about communication, it's about competition, verbally outmaneuvering the other side to win an argument. Stephen Covey says, "Many people do not listen with intent to understand. They listen with intent to reply." Of course, this kind of non-listening gets us nowhere.

The Bible tells us to be "quick to listen and slow to speak." (James 1:19) This is the key to success in relationships on both a business level and a personal level. Technological breakthroughs notwithstanding, it is impossible to listen and talk at the same time; we can do one or the other. The more we listen, and the less we speak, the more likely we are to communicate effectively.

Irving Shapiro, former chairman of DuPont, once said, "People who accomplish things do more listening than talking." In The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz said...

"Big people monopolize the listening. Small people monopolize the talking."

Our challenge today is to monopolize the listening - to be eager to hear what others are saying. In doing this we will have taken step one in breaking the communication barrier, and have great dialogue.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Power parenting

I was listening to a guy on the television yesterday who was saying some great stuff about parenting (I didn't catch his name). He was an older type guy, humorous, and really nailing it.

For instance, he said that when your child comes to you and tries to manipulate you with words such as "I hate you," or "I don't love you any more," you say to them, "nice try."

"You won't let me go to the movies tonight, I hate you!" You respond by saying, "nice try."

Or if they say, "I hate you, I'm going to go and live with Uncle Sam or Aunt Susan or older sister Jane." You respond by saying, "I will love you wherever you live."

It's challenging to be a parent. I know that we have a tendency to say that it's tougher in today's world, and maybe it is, but I would suggest to you that it's always been hard.

But no matter what stage of life they are in, no matter how old or young they are, I do know this: Your children need you. Especially your teenagers.

"A federally funded study of 12,000 teenagers yielded an unexpected finding: teenagers still need their parents. It may seem to us that everything we say goes in one ear and out the other, but the fact is--according to them--parents play a significant role in their lives.

The study revealed that teenagers who don't smoke, drink, have sex, take drugs, or commit acts of violence, refrain from doing these things because of two basic factors:

1. Feeling loved by their parents.
2. Feeling comfortable in their school.

The research also found that if parents expect adolescents to get good grades and refrain from sex, teenagers tend to be influenced by those expectations. What's more, the study showed that it doesn't matter about the family's income, or their race, or whether both parents work, or whether there is only parent at home--the most significant factor in well-balanced teenagers is that they recognized their parents are emotionally available to them.

Now, all parents claim to love their children, and I'm certain that most parents do.

However, not all parents effectively communicate love, and not all parents make themselves emotionally available. So the question is not how much parents say they love their children, the question is how much their children believe it--and how much evidence there is to support that belief.

Sociologist Michael Resnick says that the most crucial need for teenagers is a strong sense of connection to their parents and their family. This connection, more than anything else protects teenagers from behavioral problems.

The Bible also suggests that parents remain emotionally available to their kids. 4000 years ago, Moses wrote...

Keep these words that I am commanding you in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

The Bible teaches--and this study confirms--that parents have a responsibility to be emotionally available to their children. We can't live our children's lives; neither can we become so wrapped up in our own that we crowd them out."

My prayer for all of us is that we will achieve the balance that is needed!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Job fulfillment

I love what I do. I work as a pastor. It's a calling. It's a privilege.

Now, that's not to say that what I do is easy. It is not. There are some days I would rather be sitting on a beach in Florida, sipping sweeten ice tea and listening to the sound of the ocean.

I work with people.

People are funny, they always want to "sit in the front of the bus, the back of the church and drive in the middle of the road."

But to me, working with people, helping people, serving people, seeing people overcome difficult situations with the help of God is a thrilling thing.

A life fulfilling thing.

I heard one time that the secret to job success is finding something you like to do and then go out and do it.

However, realistically, not all of us "like" or "love" our jobs.

Sometimes, because of financial situations, or circumstances at the home, there are job decisions made that force us to work at a job that we don't like.

What do we do?

I found an article today that might help:

10 Tips for Coping With a Job You Hate

By Kate Lorenz,

Having a job you just hate is never an easy thing to deal with, but sometimes you just need to grin and bear it until another opportunity comes along. Whether you're currently stuck because you just have to pay the bills or are holding out for the next great job, here are some things you can do to help you get through the day.

1. Set weekly goals for yourself. Sometimes it is easier to get through the day when you can keep your eye on the prize. Even if you hate your job now, there is something out there that will make you happy. Make weekly goals to help you find that golden opportunity. One week you might strive to send out five resumes or attend one networking event. Setting these goals will give you something to work towards.

2. Do one thing each day to help you reach your goals. You don't need to cross all your goals off your list every day, but you can chip away daily. When you get up in the morning, set a daily objective for yourself and make sure you achieve it. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you feeling good about your progress.

3. Give yourself "me time" before work. Going into a job you hate will be worse if you get to the office feeling rushed, stressed and frazzled. Set aside some moments of solitude each morning. Develop a positive morning ritual. Treat yourself to a latte, get up early enough to read the paper, or just set your alarm to play upbeat music when you wake up. Improving your mornings can do wonders for your afternoons.

4. Create a diversion for yourself in the office. Does being in your office make you yearn for the outdoors? Are the incessant ringing phones driving you batty? Do something to brighten your mood while you're at work. Take in a tropical picture and use it as your screensaver. Buy yourself a "joke of the day" desk calendar. Plug headphones into your computer or bring your I Pod to work. Go out for lunch.

5. Use your time to develop your skills. Hating your job doesn't mean you can't learn new skills. Use your time to make yourself a better candidate down the road. If your company offers training courses, take advantage of them. Use downtime to learn something new on your computer. Pick up a management development book and read it at lunch. Turn this job into an opportunity for self improvement.

6. Blow off some steam. Most people have an activity that helps them unwind and get rid of tension. Go for a run after work, go swimming on your lunch hour, or take a nice long walk. Put this time on your schedule so you will have something to look forward to every day.

7. Treat yourself. To make up for your office misery, find little ways of treating yourself. Buy a good book to read. Treat yourself to ice cream. Rent a movie. Shop for a new interview suit. Plan your next vacation. Find out what makes you feel better inside, no matter what is going on outside.

8. Maintain your performance. It is important to continue to do your work and do it well, regardless of your current situation. Set personal performance goals. Then use the accomplishments in future interviews.

9. Keep your bridges in tact. It really is a small world, and you never know when you will run into coworkers from your past. Don't burn any bridges at your company because you are unhappy. Maintain your contacts and keep your relationships on a positive note. You might just need a reference or a good word from one of your colleagues in the future.

10. Realize that this too shall pass. Right now, it might seem like you will be stuck in this job forever. Keep you chin up and remind yourself that you are in charge of your destiny. Search internal postings for new positions. Start your search for a new job externally.

I trust that you have a great day at work.....

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Daring to be involved

Is there ever a time when we are involved in something that doesn't produce some kind of benefit in our lives? That is probably not a fair question.

No matter what our motivation, we are called to be involved. In something. Something that is beyond our own personal needs, desires and wants.

Something that is going to benefit someone else or "someones" else.

Ironically enough, when I am involved, I benefit the most. It helps me emotionally, it helps me spiritually, and it helps me relationally.

No one likes to be around someone who is selfish.

Remember the Titanic?

When the ship struck the iceberg, an ocean liner named the Californian was less than 10 miles away, and could have provided almost immediate rescue assistance. The Titanic sent distress signals via wireless radio, but the Californian's operator had already gone to bed; the signals weren't heard.

The Titanic also launched emergency flares. Crew members of the Californian observed the fireworks in the distance and suspected something was wrong, but when they notified their captain he shrugged them off. He didn't even bother to wake up the wireless operator to look further into the matter. Instead, the captain and crew of the Californian decided to do nothing--and they missed the opportunity to avert the greatest disaster at sea in history.

There are distress signals being sent all around us, and sometimes we ignore them as well: a daughter who doesn't eat; a son whose speech is suspiciously slurred; a friend who withdraws from our fellowship as he or she struggles with marital problems. Off in the distance we may HEAR their cries for help, but all too often we fail to LISTEN.

Now the obvious need are those who are evacuees as a result of the hurricane.

Following Jesus means getting involved in the lives of others. John challenges us...

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)

The captain and crew of the Californian could have argued that they had the sense to stop for the night rather than sail full speed into dangerous waters. They could have argued that the Titanic's leadership was responsible for this disaster, and could have even preached a hard-hitting sermon on the sin of arrogance. Technically, they would have been right. But it doesn't change the fact that they were the only hope of rescue for hundreds of people--and they chose not to listen.

This week, dare to love. Dare to listen. Dare to get involved

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fixing the blame or fixing the problem.

Katrina has been devastating to three states, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. That we all know.

Many are trying to fix the blame on the lack of responsiveness to the disaster in the immediate aftermath of the Hurricane.

I would suggest that we focus in on fixing the problem.

We assume responsibility and then focus on the solution.

That applies to our own lives as well.

A couple of years ago a woman filed a $1 million lawsuit against Dr Pepper. She had been chosen to participate in their halftime punt-catching promotion during a college football game. She didn't win, but it was, according to her suit, Dr. Pepper's fault.

She had been told she would receive three punts from a kick-simulation machine (catch one, $50,000; two, $250,000; all three, $1 million) and was told that the punts would come down in the general vicinity of the 50-yard line.

She missed all three because, she said, her they came down too far away: one landed on the 44, one landed on the 45, and one landed on the 42. Therefore, she argued, it was Dr. Pepper's fault that she didn't win $1 million.

Sometimes it's difficult for us to admit it's our fault.

It's difficult to admit the role we play in our failures, in our setbacks, and our sin. It's not easy to say: "I had a chance, but I blew it." Too often, instead of fixing the problem, we settle for fixing blame -- on anyone others than ourselves.

Whether it's in our relationships, our career, or our spiritual life, improvement (and, ultimately, mastery) begins with accepting responsibility for our own limitations, mistakes, and failures.

When faced with his own sin, King David said to God:

"I have sinned greatly... Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing." (1 Chronicles 21:8)

When you don't perform up to par; professionally, personally, or spiritually; you've got two choices.

You can fix the blame or you can fix the problem.

The first step in problem solving -- the first step toward wholeness; is taking responsibility.

From there, we begin moving forward.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

You just don't know do you?

You never know what a day brings. That's what makes life exciting, but at the same time terrifying for some.

You, like me, have watched the devastation in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama from hurricane Katrina.

While the disaster has not caught us totally by surprise, the long reaching affects of the hurricane have. Who could have predicated the flooding in New Orleans. Who could have predicted the devastation in Mississippi?

Even as of today we don't know how many people died.

We just don't know what a day brings.

The Word says in Proverbs 27:1, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you don't know what a day may bring forth."

We really don't - do we. Oh, we think we do. We have our plans and goals and minds set on what we see for the future, but ultimately life is full of surprises and twists that show that we are not in control.

Each day is a gift from God.

How do I handle the tumultuous riding of the seas of life? By trusting in God.

The Psalmist cries out, "but now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you".

And don't forget, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble."

When life throws you a curve ball, and you cry out for some form of stability, the one constant is God's presence and unconditional love for you and I.

I'm reminded of that today, for you just don't know do you?