How Sending a Thank-You Note Empowers You

You have the power of encouragement at your fingertips.

Think about one person who has inspired you, encouraged you, or helped you. Got that person in your mind? Now, let me ask you a question: Have you ever sent a thank-you note to that person?

Send a thank you note today!

(Photo: Vivozoom)

Not long ago a client sent a thank-you note to the editors in our department, expressing appreciation for their excellent work. The client told me of the editors’ surprising reply: “No one has ever thanked us before.”

That tragic statement got me thinking.

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How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience Right Now

Strength from God as you stand in life's long line of slow servers.

Do you have a long fuse or a short one when you get dawdling service at restaurants? For some reason, life hands us a long line of slow servers. At lunch not long ago my family got poor service from our waiter. Here’s what happened.

How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience

(Photo by Photodune)

I never let on to the waiter that I was miffed, yet inside my fuse was burning. Here’s why:

  • The table next to us ate and left before we did, though we arrived at the same time.
  • Our water glasses were often empty and the food order came out wrong.
  • The waiter fouled up the bill.
  • I was late getting back to work.

But then, just before we left, I felt like a complete idiot. The waiter made mention that it was his first day. You see, the problem wasn’t his incompetence.

It was my impatience.

Life hands us a line of slow servers. Does God offer some help?

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When Finding Favor with God Makes Life Tough

What was true of Mary is also true for you—why that's good news.

Sometimes finding favor with God makes life much harder. When Gabriel informed Mary she would give birth to the Son of God, many thoughts ran through her mind, not the least of which was how she, a virgin, could conceive.

When Finding Favor with God Makes Life Tough

(Photo: by Jolanta Dyr. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0-pl, via Wikimedia Commons)

What’s more, Mary knew the social and biblical fallout that occurs for a pregnant woman without a husband. How could she possibly explain that her pregnancy was an of God and not an act of passion? Finding favor with God meant she faced disfavor from people. Maybe finding favor with God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Christmas usually causes us to marvel at the virgin conception—and at the love of our God who would become Man so that He could die for our sins.

But there’s another part of the Christmas story that amazes me just as much. It comes from this amazing young woman.

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Don’t Shove Out Chivalry Just Yet

Why I’m convinced true chivalry isn’t chauvinism.

Cathy and I went to the grocery store not long ago. We parked, and I got out of the car to open the door for her. As I took her hand, I heard a loud voice behind me blurt: “I don’t believe it!”

Don’t Shove Out Chivalry Just Yet

(Photo by Photodune)

I turned around to see a woman with a flabbergasted face. “You opened the door for her! I didn’t think that happened anymore.”

I smiled. “It happens every day.” She walked off, shaking her head.

On another occasion several years ago, I was about to enter an office building and noticed through the glass doors a lady about to exit. I opened the door for her. This smartly dressed woman stopped and gave me a severe look. Her words surprised me.

“Don’t open the door for me just because I’m a woman,” she said. My response was quick but kind.

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Gibeah—Displaying the Integrity of God Where It Isn’t

Atop the site of ancient Gibeah in Israel today stands the skeleton of a building. Although it marks the ambitions of a king who never occupied its halls, the structure reminds me of a deeper emptiness.

Gibeah—Displaying the Love of God Where It Isn't

(Photo: Gibeah. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In 1964 King Hussein of Jordan began constructing a palace on the site of ancient Gibeah. The Six-Day War in 1967 put a permanent halt to the construction. All that remains today are the empty ruins of his intentions.

When we read the book of Judges, repeatedly the book notes Israel had no king in those
 days (Judges 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). They had no one to model and impose a moral standard—and thus had none.

Like the skeleton that stands on Gibeah today, God’s people had the structure of God’s Law but it was empty in their lives.

Here’s how that emptiness needn’t be true of our lives today.

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My Biblical Encounter with a Russian Prostitute

I discovered there isn’t time to ponder your reaction when propositioned by a prostitute. Your first response is your response. It happened to me in a Russian hotel.

My Experience with the Bible and a Russian Prostitute

(Photo: St. Basils Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square. By Soerfm. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I went with some missionaries to Moscow to help train national pastors. On our first morning, I headed to the hotel lobby to meet our team. Stepping out of the elevator, I scanned the lobby for others in our group. I saw no one I knew.

A small group of ladies at the bar sat and chatted with each other. All of them, that is, except one. This one very attractive woman was smiling and staring—straight at me.

As our eyes met, I suddenly remembered someone told me that prostitutes sat in the bar, looking for customers. This woman kept smiling and then leaned forward—and a literal chill ran up my back. I can still feel it. I froze.

At that moment, I heard three very distinctive words in my head.

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10 Ways Woodworking Affirms Your Spiritual Life (Part 2)

Years ago my wife bought me a table saw for Christmas, and I’ve enjoyed the first hobby I’ve had in my life. I like what the Canadian born physician, Sir William Osler, once told an audience of medical professionals:

No man is really happy or safe without a hobby, and it makes precious little difference what the outside interest may be—botany, beetles or butterflies; roses, tulips or irises; fishing, mountaineering or antiques—anything will do as long as he straddles a hobby and rides it hard.

The master carpenter scrapes it smooth.

(Photo: by Just plain Bill. Own work, CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

But woodworking is more than a hobby. It has marvelous metaphors for your spiritual life.

In an earlier post, I shared the first half of 10 ways I’ve discovered that woodworking affirms your spiritual life:

  1. You will have to cut cross grain, so stay sharp.
  2. Good tools save you time and give you better results.
  3. You can do a lot more than you think with the little you have.
  4. Following a plan gets you where you want to go with greater success.
  5. Mistakes always teach you, and they rarely ruin the piece.

In this post, let’s complete the list it’s taken me years to write.

What would you add to the list?

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10 Ways Woodworking Affirms Your Spiritual Life (Part 1)

My favorite Jewish carpenter other than Jesus is Norm Abram. I’m a weekend woodworker, and the hobby has done more than just save me money and provide a healthy diversion for my mind.

It’s more than sawdust and saw blades. For me, it’s also spiritual.

10 Ways Woodworking Affirms Your Spiritual Life (Part 1)

(Photo: Completing a recent project)

During the many hours I’ve spent woodworking, I’ve come to realize how much of the craft relates to our walk with God. I’m not alone. The Shakers of the 19th-century viewed the craftsmanship of their unique furniture as an extension of their worship of God.

I want to share with you 10 ways I’ve discovered that woodworking affirms the spiritual life. I’ll do this in two posts.

For fun, I’ll also show you some pictures of stuff I’ve built.

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God’s Red Light, Green Light

Not long ago, my jaw dropped as I calculated how much I had spent on tolls that year. This painful revelation forced me to reexamine my commute. I decided to take the access road to work each morning instead of the highway. But I discovered I pay either way.

God's Red Light, Green Light

(Photo by Photodune)

I pay in time or in money. In angst or in cash. Unfortunately, I seem to have more of time.

So I pay my time at stoplights.

After two years of navigating stoplights and memorizing their patterns, I have concluded that someone, somewhere, is smiling at me behind some camera.

Maybe it’s God. (He’s smiling at you too.)

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