Tuesday, January 31, 2017
My energies have been focused on preparing to present at a Counselor Conference this week but thanks for dropping by. Take a moment and pick a random post from the past to read and reflect over. Don't forget to leave a comment. You don't need to create a profile you can simply choose the anonymous feature for comments. Thank you for stopping by!
Monday, January 16, 2017
This week I am beginning to explore a book written by a former classmate, Wiley Graf, (or I should say – Dr. Wiley Graf), from my hometown of Barberton, Ohio. Looking back even to elementary school in 5th and 6th grade I can say I was impressed with his intelligence. So when I reconnected with him on Facebook over a year ago I was not surprised in the least that he taught engineering. His first book which I have been looking forward to is – 100 Reasons To Believe the Bible is the Word of God.
In my blog I discuss a variety of topics often relating to positive psychology which is a passion of mine as well as topics of living an abundant life. I have been open here and in my book, Living More Than OK, that I come at life from a Christian worldview. It is my worldview of belief in Christ as the answer to ultimate meaning, that draws me to books such as Wiley has written. He brings out in his forward the importance of Christians having a foundation of evidence for why they believe. I am thankful when I was a teen my pastor pointed me to authors such as Josh McDowell and Francis Schaeffer who provided sound thinking for a Christian philosophy of life to provide evidence to show that the Bible was trustworthy. Wiley here in his book builds on their work.
In perusing through his book it is no surprise with a scientific mind of an engineer, he first speaks to the laws of thermodynamics which relates so well to the Biblical message on creation. Those were always points of thought I held onto during high school science classes and college science courses that promoted the theory of macro-evolution. It is a theory not a proven fact. Why else would atheists have such wild ideas as Dawkins has speculated that space aliens brought initial life to earth -- check out his speculations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abugiGHOHg0
I won’t go through all 100 reasons here as I want you to buy his book. I will simply touch on a couple that stood out to me. The reader will appreciate a wide variety of examples from science, history and archaeology he uses in his book. My favorite is how he brings out several times the nation of Israel as a reason to believe the Bible. In one of my times of doubt, I pondered the overarching story of the Jews in the Bible. If you think about it here is this small people group, God chose for the Savior of the world to come through. During their whole history nations have tried to destroy them. Yet many initial enemies are no longer in existence such at the Amorites, Hittites and many other “ites”. Just from that standpoint it is a miracle the Jewish people survived through the ages and are now a nation again surrounded by enemies who want to destroy them. Think about it. Maybe the Bible is true. Also think about this. Why are so many people and nations against Israel?
Then another reason I enjoyed seeing is more experiential. It is the reason of “changed lives”. Reading what Wiley has to say took me back to my days in Chicago at Moody Bible Institute with Dr. James. One day Dr. James reminded us in days of spiritual doubt to remember times when God has answered prayer in our lives. No skeptic can take that away. If the Christian takes time they will see how belief in Christ has changed their lives with little and big miracles in their life journey.
Wiley’s book provides the believer in Christ solid thoughtful reasons to be secure in their Christian faith. Sometimes in doubt you need a reaffirmation and Wiley’s book can be a useful intellectual tool for that. The Bible points out that having a defense for why you believe in Christ is important. Here are a few examples:
1 Peter 3:15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.
2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ
Acts 17:15-34 -- Paul here debates with a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Athens. Their response revealed that some believed and others replied “We want to hear you again on this subject.” Which shows it is important to be open in sharing while you believe in Christ but do so in a way that keeps the door open to dialogue. Too many times Christians browbeat and turn people off to Christ.
100 Reasons To Believe is a belief in Christ strengthener. It can help you as a Christian when you come up against the modern myth calling Christians “Believers”. That is a pet peeve of mine when I hear media types or the new atheists saying that. What does that mean “Believers”? It is often said in a snarky tone like Christians are leaving their brains at the door. Think about it—everyone is a Believer. It is just we believe different things. The Hindu believes the divine truth comes from the Vedas and they experience numerous reincarnations until they are absorbed into the divine. Is there factual proof for that? No, it is a belief. Atheists, are they believers? They try to pretend their thought is based on science. No -- they BELIEVE in inanimate matter that has either always been here or popped into being by chance. Their real belief is in random chaotic chance full of fiction stories of big bangs and macro evolution of a piece of slime plus millions of years turning into man. I am sorry there is no proof -- it is a belief. Go back to the Dawkin’s Youtube link I provided above. I read Darwin’s Origen of the Species back in high school and all that went through my mind was -- what an imagination! No proof. Christians are believers as well. We believe that God has revealed Himself in the Bible and personally through the person of Jesus Christ. We believe contrary to other religions that are focused on man trying to reach God; the Bible shows a loving God reaching down to man. Can I prove that? No, I readily admit that. But books such as Wiley Graf’s 100 Reasons To Believe provide a person with evidence to weigh against other worldviews and personally the Christian view makes the most sense to me.
Of course Christians need to remember what I have heard from Ravi Zacharias live and in his writings. Apologetic reasons are helpful but all discourse and lifestyle needs to be based in showing the love of Christ. Letting God’s Love show can win a person over more than all the arguments.
If you are a non-Christian reader I am simply stating my worldview here. I hope you can feel like the Epicurean philosophers and say “We want to hear you again on this subject.” I encourage you to check out books like Wiley’s and keep an open mind in your search for truth.
Reflection: Think over your personal Worldview-- be it Buddhist, Atheist, Hindu, Christian or whatever. Why do you believe what you believe and how does it help you on your life journey? Check out Dr. Wiley Graf’s website 100-reasons-2-believe.com
Monday, January 9, 2017
The phrase “take time to smell the roses” is a common one encouraging us to savor the small moments of life. This past weekend we took some time to “take time to smell the coffee”. We went to the San Antonio Coffee Festival at La Villita Historic Arts Village in San Antonio, Texas to enjoy the event. We had a busy Saturday full of errands so we did not make it down until near the end of the afternoon. We were glad we made it.
There were a wide variety of local coffee roasters and coffee shops participating in the festival. The aroma of the courtyard where it was held was an experience in itself. Part of savoring coffee is the aroma of the various coffees. So with the variety of roasters involved it was like experiencing a rainbow of scents. We enjoyed watching the people while capturing the sounds of a local band that was playing. The festival showcased coffee but also revealed the social side of coffee. Even though it was crowded the people in line were conversing with each other until it was their turn to enjoy their brew of choice.
You could not ask for a better location as after perusing the coffee area we took time to go down over by the River Walk. It was not as crowded as when we were there during the holidays. It was a chilly day for Texas in the low 50’s so some coffee in hand; was comforting as we walked around. We had not visited the shops at La Villita for some time as we usually just stroll the River Walk when we go downtown. So it was a treat to appreciate the various art stores at La Villita.
The coffee festival made me reflect on times I enjoy coffee the most. Of course being a heart patient I am more of a decaf person- not by choice. In the present some of my favorite times with coffee is on various Saturday mornings when I take my wife out for coffee at one of the local coffee shops in New Braunfels. There is something relaxing about being with someone you love conversing over coffee.
Of course being a reader, my past experiences I savor in my mind were the coffee shops in Chicago. When I lived by myself I would take a book to a coffee shop to read. Or, on a cold Winter night in my apartment on Chicago’s Northside I would read with a cup of coffee nearby on the table. Coffee and books make a great team. It started in college with late night coffee and textbook reading then later enjoying coffee with books I enjoyed reading. Of course being a Bookhead I even enjoyed reading my textbooks.
If there is ever a coffee festival in your area take time to go and smell the coffee. It will provide a savoring aroma trip down memory lane.
Reflect: What kind of memories does coffee (or tea) conjure up in your mind? If you love reading do you sometimes enjoy coffee or tea with your reading experience?
Monday, January 2, 2017
As we start the New Year I want to share some thoughts from a book I think is perfect for moving into 2017. I could mean my book, Living More Than OK, as it is a thought provoking positive book to begin the New Year; but that would be rather self-serving of me. Of course you then can say, why mention my book with a link to the Barnes & Noble site for it? Maybe because I am a little self-serving and I believe in what I wrote in my book. Back to the topic at hand – what book do I want to share thoughts on? It is Bull’s-Eye: The Power of Focus by Brian Tracy. It comes from one of my favorite motivational companies, Simple Truths.
Tracy’s book came to mind while reflecting on a church service we attended on January 1st. The pastor had his minister team share their objectives for the coming year. A recurring theme was to write down the goals and plans that you have for the New Year. What the various ministers there were saying fit so well with what Brian Tracy is saying in Bull’s-Eye. The beginning for the book states the importance of writing down goals that we want to obtain along with the plan to accomplish the goal. As he states in the book, “A person with a goal and a plan is like an archer or a dart thrower with everything they need to step up to the line and hit a bull’s-eye” (p27).
He makes an important point in creating the goal to make it personal, positive and present. So write the goal as if it has been completed in the present sense of the moment. For example for the PhD I am working on using his thinking I would write down “I have my PhD in Psychology”. It is like making a declaration that the mind can visualize. Imagine your goal has already happened. It is a different concept than the traditional future tense goal with a timeline. Of course it is then important to create an action plan to reach the goal otherwise it is simply a Pollyanna wish. The idea is similar to Stephen Covey’s Habit 2 “Begin with the end in mind”. He follows up the goal thoughts with a solid section on building a personal mission statement.
He moves into the importance and hard work of being focused and building up concentration to reach the goals by following your plan. Many people don’t reach what they want due to not following basic time management principles or are too easily distracted in our distracting world. We need to manage time and social media or they wind up mismanaging us and stopping us from getting what we want for our lives.
Tracy also in the book shares the importance of building up a mindset of excellence. He brings out an important research point from a professor at Florida State University, Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, “According to Ericsson, people in the bottom 80 percent will work during their first year of employment to learn their particular job or craft. After that, they slow down, level off, and never get any better. They don’t read any books, listen to any audio programs, or take any additional courses. They simply flatten out.” (p.77). This relates well with my thinking in my book, Living More Than OK, as I emphasize one problem in our life journey is that we settle for the plateau of OK living and just getting by. So Tracey encourages an excellence mindset along with the discipline of skill building and lifelong learning.
Those are just a couple of key thoughts that helped me as I am looking forward to new goals and readjusted goals for the New Year. There are many other fine points in his book to help with your life. As usual I want to simple peak interest so you can look for the book in your local library for purchase a copy for yourself. The beginning of a year is a time to gain a fresh start and begin moving on goals you want to accomplish.
Reflection: Has your life leveled off? What area of your life do you want to improve in 2017? How can you move towards being a seeker of excellence?