"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Heart Condition

Surgery: the art, practice, or work of treating diseases, injuries, or deformities by manual or operative procedures.

We can't spell "heart" without the word "hear"... nothing says we care more than intently listening to the words that flow from another person's heart. When you truly hear another person you give them your heart. -sbb


The Latin word for heart is "cordis".  

The Latin root word for "cordis" is "cor".

From this mini Latin lesson we gain a little deeper understanding of why the core of an apple is the "heart" of the apple, and the core of an argument is essentially the "heart" of an argument.

The core is the center and this is where we often find our starting point on many issues that concern us.

As this Latin word traveled to its English resting place, it did so by way of the French. The French made a few changes, as only the French can do, and changed the spelling to "coeur". From this change we have words like "courage" (one must have a great deal of "heart" to be courageous), "encourage" (to give someone "heart" to carry out an act), and "discourage", which means to give someone a "heart apart" about a particular situation, that is, to dissuade someone from doing something.

As I write this piece I can't help but fall in love with the fact that when we encourage one another we are literally "giving them heart" to carry out a certain act or deed.

That is powerful.

The condition of our heart is also powerful. Our heart can be an ambassador for compassion, passion and empathy, or it can be agent for selfishness, arrogance and pride.  Proverbs 4:23 states; "Above all else, guard your hearts, for it affects everything you do." 

The fact that our heart affects everything we do is a powerful, and somewhat frightful, thought.

The type of heart we have as individuals is paramount. 

In the story of the "Farmer Scattering Seed", found in Mark 4:1-9, Jesus, in the form of a parable, shows us the four different types of a heart an individual can have.

The FIRST heart is a heart that is HARDENED

"Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across the field, some seed feel on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it."
-Mark 4:3-4 

It is a sad reality that when a heart becomes hardened it becomes cold. It is unable to love or to accept love. When we have unconfessed sin, unresolved conflict, an unrestrained appetite and unforgiveness in our lives we produced a hardened heart. I could write extensively and exclusively about the reasons for a hardened heart (unconfessed sins, unresolved conflict, unrestrained appetite and unforgiveness for what the world has to offer and unforgiveness), but I will not. I will only say that nothing can grow or be planted in a heart that has been hardened that has any lasting value except the love of Jesus Christ.

The SECOND heart is a heart that is HURRIED.

"Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The plant sprang up quickly, but it soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil."
-Mark 4:5-6

A hurried heart is often a shallow heart. People that tend to have a shallow heart tend to be overly emotional. Many times their intentions are strong but their resolve is weak. They often start out fast without counting the costs when tackling a task or tackling needed change in their life. People that fit this description often fade fast when difficulties arrive on the scene and when discipline is needed to carry on and to succeed. Shallow hearts give up when the cost seems too much. Shallow hearts, like shallow people, are often displeased and are selfish people. In the end their roots are not very deep. I'm familiar with this type of heart because it describes my heart for more years than I care to remember. I have learned that for me to avoid a hurried heart I must spend time in God's word and in prayer. Roots, like tress, grow when the wind is the strongest; adversity often allows our roots to grow deeper in God's soil if we allow them to. Prayer and reading His word will aid us immensely in the process of growing deeper roots.

The THIRD heart is a heart that is HASSLED

"Other seed fell among thorns that shot up and chocked out the tender blades so that it produced no grain."
-Mark 4:7

A hassled heart is often a distracted heart. It is distracted by life and the many different trials and tribulations it has to offer. A hassled heart is overwhelmed by adversity and challenges, and that reality leads to a very distracted person. The three causes for a hassled heart is distraction -when we are distracted we miss God's opportunities and blessings, deceitful pursuit of riches and desires for things that have no eternal value. Life has a way of distracting us when we lack perspective and purpose, deceitful pursuits is nothing more than a ladder leaning on the wrong building with little, or no, support and desires that are lustful and are of no value prove to be empty once that desire is obtained. More times than not what we think we need we don't and want we incorrectly desire and want is never enough. When I look back at my past I realize that when I had nothing in the world's eye I was never left without having exactly what I needed. God always provides. In the end, when we have a hassled heart we have a heart that chokes the word of God in our life and the power that it He wants to delivers to us. I have also found that a hassled heart often has a poor choice of friends that it surrounds itself with. Poor friends are often the "weeds" and "thorns" in our lives. Landscape your life and rid yourself of all the weeds and thorns that are growing around your life and around your heart.

The FOURTH heart is a heart that is HOLY

"Still other seed fell on fertile soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty and even a hundred times as much as had been planted."
-Mark 4:8

A holy heart is a heart that is entrusted in God's protective hand. A holy heart hears the word, receives the word and acts upon God's word. A holy heart bears good fruit for the world to see. The testimony of a holy heart resides in the believer's actions more than in their words. It is a simple fact that there are "five" gospels in the bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and "The Christian", and that the majority of people will never read the first four; they will only observe "The Christian". "The Christian" will be watched at work, observed at the little league diamond and viewed from afar at the grocery store. "The Christian" will be observed to see if there is truly a holy heart within all who claim to have a personal relationship with God. To have a holy heart we have to accept God into our heart and live a life that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. We cannot do it alone. Galatians 5:22 shares with us; "But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce the kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Here there is no conflict with the law." That verse paints a wonderful picture for me of what a "Holy Heart" looks like.

In 1888 a man by the name of Ludvig Nobel died while visiting France. A newspaper in France erroneously published his brother's obituary. His brother was still alive. The obituary exclaimed "Le marchand de la mort est mort" ("The merchant of death is dead"). The obituary went on to say "that the doctor who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday."

The brother was so disappointed with what he read ,and concerned with how he would be remembered, that he signed his last will and set aside a majority of his estate ($250 million dollars) to establish and fund an annual international award that would recognize cultural and scientific achievements.

The award is the Nobel Prize and the man was Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel
(10.21.1833 – 12.10.1896)

Ludvig's brother, Alfred, created a fortune for his invention of dynamite. 

The reason I share this story with you is not to condemn Dr. Nobel for his invention, but to praise him for his desire to look inward and reconstruct his heart. I have no idea what his intention was when he invented dynamite or if he believed in God, but what I do know is that he didn't like the legacy he was going to leave behind because of his life's work.

Because of this dislike he decided that he wanted to change his legacy.

And he changed it forever.

As I get older I realize that the legacy that I leave for my children, and their children someday, is vitally important. And it is because of this and the story of Dr. Nobel I now understand more clearly that we all can be a surgeon and perform surgery on our own hearts. We, along with God's providential hand, can change what we don't like others seeing in us and through us. We can also change, along with God's guiding hand, what we don't like when we look in the mirror.

We can change our legacy.

An Indian (not Native American) proverb states; "Whatever you are overflowing with you will spill out when you're bumped."  When we are annoyed, irritated, disrespected, cut off in traffic, insulted, talked about, lied about and "bumped" by another we will spill out onto others what our heart is full of.

As you read this what fills your heart? Is it forgiveness, love and kindness or is it malice, hatred and revenge?

What do you spill onto others when you're bumped? 

What condition is your heart in?

Is it hardened, hurried or hassled? Or are you like me and your heart is known to be a little of all three?  

Or is your heart on the path of becoming more Holy?

The Latin phrase "ex abundantia enim cordis os loquitur" translated in English is "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

What does your mouth, and actions, say about your heart?

What is the condition of your heart?

13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
-Mark 4:13-20

sbb  30.1.11

Friday, January 28, 2011


Promise: a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one.

Two years ago today a very good friend of mine passed away from liver failure. We were roommates in the late 90's and into the early 2000's. My oldest three boys came to know him as Uncle Andy.

Andy was 39 when he died.

Andy was adopted and never met his birth parents.

I think of my friend often and I can still remember going over to his house the December before he died having no idea that would be the last time I would have a conversation with him. When I received a call from his girlfriend and another close friend to come to Riverside Hospital to see him before he passed away I was numb and without words. I prayed with him and asked him if he wanted to accept Jesus Christ into his life. He nodded, but till this day I'm still not sure if he understood what I was talking or praying about. 

When I left the hospital I was grief stricken.

I loved Andy. 

He had seen me at my worst and at my best and in both instances he treated me the same; he treated me like a great friend.

Andy was a true friend.

The reason I went to visit Andy that cold day in December of 2008 was because I wanted to talk to him about his faith. He contacted me earlier that month and said that he found a journal that I kept in college and that he was reading it every day.

He said it gave him hope.

I shared with him that day that my life was different. I told him that God was the center piece of my life and that the transformation in my life was evident to anyone that would want to take a look and notice.

He agreed.

Buckeye & Andy...

I believe that Andy heard the words that I shared with him, but I have no idea if he accepted Jesus Christ in his heart.

I hope he did. I think about it just about every day.

Since then I made a promise to myself that through deed and word, more deed than word that I would share my faith with anyone that would like to talk about it. I also promised myself that I will share with those that I'm close to that God has changed my life.

I will never again put off sharing with someone the good news of Jesus Christ. 

In my bible I have Andy's obituary laminated and placed as a bookmark for Psalm 39. 

"Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath."
-Psalm 39:4

Andy lived roughly 14,235 days.

Tomorrow is never promised.

Written in my bible, in the margins between Psalm 38 & 39, is the name ANDY.

Andy means a lot of different things to me, but below is what ANDY stands for to me and what I have written in my bible.


Always share your faith in Christ through your conduct, character and conversation. People appreciate watching a good sermon instead of hearing one. Our actions often speak louder than our words. I fail at this often, but it is truly important to me to live a life that demonstrates a deep belief in God.

Never be ashamed or obnoxious about your faith in God. It is important to me to share my faith in a way that will not offend or alienate anyone, and in a way that displays sincerity and authenticity. 

Don't wait to share your faith with your friends. Tomorrow is never promised. Many of us share with others, and anybody that will listen, things that have no true significance; sharing the gospel is sharing something that has value. When we share the good news with others we speak hope into their lives that can produce mighty change into their lives. That is awesome.

Y ... Why share? Why "not" share is the real and right question. Matthew 28:18-20 states; "And Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.' And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. ...and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you: He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but He who has disbelieved shall be condemned. Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Those verses are a pretty good reason why we should share the "good news" with those around us.

Andy's favorite song was "You're in my Heart" by Rod Stewart. It was played at his funeral. Andy was known to ask strangers to dance with him when this song was played.

Couples danced to this song at the funeral home when it was played during his funeral.

I cried.

The song states:

"You're in my heart, you're in my soul
You'll be my breath should I grow old
You are my lover, you're my best friend
You're in my soul"

I could write another 1000 words concerning the irony of that stanza.

I will not. 

I will only say that I do believe that God was in his heart and in his soul during Andy's final days here on earth. I really do.

I'm thinking of you this evening Andy.

I miss you very much.

sbb  28.1.11


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top 20 Reasons

Fundamentals: serving as, or being an essential part of, a foundation or basis; basic; underlying: fundamental principles; the fundamental structure.

My son Bryce, as well as all of his teammates, had to write a paper for their JV Coach tonight outlining "20" reasons why they have lost their last 4 out of 5 games. They got beat this evening by Jonathon Alder. 

The coach wants it at the beginning of practice tomorrow.

Sure coach I will, I mean we will, get right on that. Here is what "we" came up with.

20 Reasons for this Season

(1) Communication: We lack communication. The quickest way to become a group of players that form a team and not group of players that are a group of individuals is to communicate with each other. Communicating isn't screaming "ball, ball, ball", it is calling out screens, shouting "shot" when the ball goes up, calling out "cutters" and yelling out "deny" when a player picks up his dribble. Communication also entails encouraging your teammates as often as possible. Communication can be a look of approval, a high five or a pat on the back. Communication is the key and we don't communicate. The greatest way to build trust with your teammate is to "consistently" communicate.

(2) Rebounding: Specifically "defensive" rebounding. One of the most important keys to any basketball game is to limit the number of possessions the other team gets. The quickest way to "increase" the other team's amount of possessions is to let them dominate the boards (... especially when they are on offense (turn overs don't help either). We don't rebound because our first move, once the shot goes up, is to the basket not to our opponent. When we consistently rebound we will greatly improve our chances to win. We need to put a butt on someone every time the shot goes up and box them out. (4 on 4 shell game during practice is the best way to improve this. You stay on the court until you get a defensive rebound... it works)

(3) Turnovers: Turnovers, like a lack of defensive rebounding, increase the number of possessions for the other team. Everyone must treat the ball like they would their imac, ipod or ipad. Guards, specifically point guards, must protect the team from having too many turn overs. If a guard lets a big man or non guard bring the ball up the court and there is a turnover it's the point guards fault. A point guard must demand the ball and get the ball up the court. The point guard is the coach on the floor and he must recognize what situations give his teammates the best chance to succeed. To whom much is given, much is expected. There is nothing more valuable than the coach giving you the ball... point guards either control game or they don't. It's that simple.

(4) Awareness: We need to be more aware of the shooters on the other team and communicate it. We also must be mindful who is in the game for us and get our best shooters and scorers good looks at the basket. We have to recognize, identify and execute.

(5) Transition Defense: Get back on defense and stop the ball as soon as we can. When we don't do this we give up easy baskets and get in foul trouble.

(6) Transition Offense: Look up the court and get some easy baskets. Getting easy baskets takes the pressure of our half court sets and demoralizes the other team. Easy baskets also creates more intensity for our defense.

(7) Defense: Play defense with our feet not our hands. We (I) commit too many dumb fouls that put the other team in the bonus sooner thus giving them more opportunities at the foul line. Bad fouls also hurt our team because we limit the time our best players play.

(8) Hedge the Pick: Every team loves to "high pick and roll" with a guard and a big man. We have to help and "hedge the pick". When we don't we get killed in the lane when the guard penetrates.

(9) Out of Bounds Plays: Defensively we get to caught up in picks too easily creating lay ups for the other team. We either need to execute getting over a screen or play zone on the out a bounds plays that are under our own basket.

(10) Zone Offense: The guards need to do a better job penetrating the zone so to get open looks for shooters spotting up.

(11) Ball Fake: When players close out on us, especially when they are in a zone, we need to do a better job of ball faking. When we ball fake we then can take one dribble to create distance and space between us and defender thus creating a better look at the basket or finding an open man.

(12) Free Throws: Make them... they are free. We have to have a goal as a team to shoot 75% or better at the line. Good foul shooters concentrate when they are tired. Good foul shooters have the same pre-shot routine and shot the same way every time. Good teams make their foul shots.

(13) Enthusiasm: Be excited to play... don't be timid or nervous... be excited. Enthusiasm is contagious. The point guard has to get the others involved physically, mentally and emotionally. That is what a leader does.

(14) Leader: We have no defined leader "on the court". Someone has to step up and be a leader "on the court". He has to communicate with everyone and be someone the coach can trust to lead "on the court". We are half way through the season. Who is our leader on the court? That has to be me and I have not been consistent in being a leader. Leaders don't get in foul trouble and they don't turn the ball over... and they don't panic.

(15) Lay ups: We miss too many lay ups. We need to concentrate and be under control when we get lay up opportunities.

(16) Reverse the ball: On offense if we consistently reverse the ball we will get more wide open shots. We will also put more pressure on the defense. Reversing the ball makes the defense become more reactive. The more situations we put the defense in that makes them react the more control we have offensively.

(17) Penetrate: The more we penetrate offensively the more pressure we put on the defense, we increase our chances for three point plays and getting our opponents in foul trouble when we get in the lane with an advantage. When we penetrate "under control" good things happen.

(18) Dribble with a purpose: The ball moves faster in the air than it does by dribbling it. Dribble with a purpose, if there is nothing there pass it and cut.

(19) Consistent effort and execution: For "4" quarters. We need to be more consistent with our effort and our defensive and offensive execution. Being consistent takes self discipline AND DESIRE.

(20) Sense of Urgency: We need to play with a sense of urgency from the very beginning of the game. Either this is important or it's not... we, the players, ultimately decide.

I could give you a reason for how I failed in each of these areas, but it really comes down to the same thing in each instance.


When I become consistent at being "fundamentally sound" I will be become a better player and a more significant contributor to the team. 

Thanks for your patience.


sbb  18.1.11
Basketball Jones  .  Barry White & Chris Rock

Monday, January 17, 2011


Dream: a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep. An involuntary vision occurring to a person when awake.

 I Have a Dream...

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. 

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. 

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. 

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. 

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his 'I Have a Dream' speech from the steps of Lincoln Memorial. (photo: National Park Service)It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.

Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. 

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. 

They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. 

We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" 

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. 

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. 

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". 

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. 

This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. 

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. 

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

AFFIRMATION: Encourage You, Encourage Me

Agent: a natural force or object producing or used for obtaining specific results: Many insects are agents of fertilization. An active cause; an efficient cause.

"A powerful agent is the right word. Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words in a book or a newspaper the resulting effect is physical, as well as, spiritual and electrically prompt."
-Samuel Longhorn Clemens... Mark Twain

"Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time."
-Proverbs 15:23

There is nothing more gratifying to the ears than the sound of a mouth that speaks the proper word at the proper time. Comedians, teachers and parents depend on this phenomenon almost daily. Sting sang in the song "De do do do, de da da da", that "Poets, priests and politicians have words to thank for their positions." There is a lot of truth in that statement.

Words are truly powerful.

Proverbs 20:21 states; "The tongue has the power of life and death..." 

So there it is, we can build someone up or we can destroy someone with the words we choose to speak. I've come to believe that my words have more power than almost anything or anyone in my life. Our words have a direct correlation to what we are thinking in our mind and feeling in our heart. If I think something long enough it will eventually be communicated by my tongue. 

Our words should be little gifts that keep on giving. 

I fail at this most of the time, but it truly is my goal to speak kindness and words of encouragement into others lives. Sincere words, not kind words for the sake of being kind, but authentically sharing with another person my true feelings about them. A little note, hand written and sent in the mail, written in a manner that will simply share with another that I want to recognize their kindness or accomplishment is a great way to encourage another person. Maybe it's just a hand written letter acknowledging their pain, sharing with them that I can't end their trial, but I can lend an ear, and heart, to their dismay and heartache.

When we encourage another through true and honest word we encourage ourselves.

When we affirm another we affirm ourselves and our truest intentions.

When I encourage you, I encourage me.

It's not about the encourager, but it does positively affect the one giving the encouragement, as it does the one being encouraged. If I truly believe the encouragement I am giving you I have to believe that same encouragement for me during my difficult times.

At least that is what I think.

Hey, but what do I know? I have two ex-wives, more kids than Evander Holyfield and spoke more arrogant and discouraging words than Joan Rivers and "The View" put together.

In a word I could, and still can be, insensitive. It is an awful thing to have to admit, but the truth often hurts. 

The truth has its positives too; the truth can often set us free. 

That is the good news.

I have said many times the reason I write is to leave my thoughts and beliefs for my children to read someday and to encourage people. Many people are hurting. Some of those people are reading this right now and desperately want a little encouragement. 

That is why I write. Plain and simple.

I hope people find encouragement and inspiration here when they take a moment and read the words that I've written.

When I think about writing and the importance of encouragement the word that comes to me that best describes encouragement is affirmation. When we speak truthful, authentic and sincere encouragement into another's life we affirm them.

God affirmed us when he sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins. His affirmation is displayed in His mercy and in His grace that He gives freely every day. God's gift is free to us, but was a painful price for Him to pay. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. Part and parcel of His goodness is His grace and mercy. 

God's grace is His unmerited favor.  

Grace is getting what we don't deserve and mercy is not getting what we do deserve.

That is pretty awesome.

Our words should administer grace and provide mercy also. They should affirm others.

So what does affirmation look like? Let me share what I think affirmation looks like and how we can start affirming others we come in contact with; sincerely, authentically and honestly affirming others.

Allow me to share. 


Always speak well of others. We all have heard our parents, grandparents too, say as long as we can remember, "If you don't have anything good to say don't say anything." That pretty much covers that.

Foul language is lazy form of communication and is very rarely affirming. It has been said, "When a man uses profanity to support an argument, it indicates that either the man or the argument is weak- probably both." Another anonymous source puts it this way, "Profanity is the attempt of a lazy and feeble mind to express itself forcefully." Parents, coaches and employees at Toy-R-us should get a hall pass in this area. In all seriousness, my language at one time was awful so my intent is not to judge, criticize or condemn. Many times our language is just a habit, nothing more, nothing less. Besides, I hate when they voice over the curse words in movies that are later shown on TV. That is just plain stupid. The only point that must be made, and the only point I'm trying to make, is that none of us would ever advocate are children using curse words. The reason being is that deep down we think the use of certain words are inappropriate. We all struggle with this one. Matthew 12:36-37 says this:

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

...That is some serious stuff; I'm just sayin'.

Fighting words will always divide. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger." -Proverbs 15:1
Impactful words will always have the potential to esteem another. Our words can truly make a difference in someone's day. Words with impact move us closer to one another.

Relax and reflect before you speak. Ecclesiastes 5:2 states "Do not be quick with your mouth; do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." I think this is a nice way of saying shut up.

Make nice whenever possible. Just do it. Don't be so concerned with who is right and who is wrong. Do you even realize how many times you and I have been completely wrong. Let me help you out... it's a lot. Give up your right to be right and end a "thing" before "something" begins. Romans 12:18 exclaims, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Everyone means everyone; work it out.

Agree to disagree without being disagreeable. Our words will dictate if we are being agreeable or disagreeable. Choose them wisely.

Talk to others how you would like to be talked to. The key here is to be aware of your tone. It isn't always what we say, but how we say it. Again, I'm just sayin'.

Invest in others with proper and appropriate words. This is virtually impossible to display or do with poor choice of words. When you begin to "run someone down" imagine that it is your child or your parents that someone is talking about. Perspective is paramount. Everyone belongs to someone.

Others are more important than ourselves. Either you believe or you don't. And you don't have to tell me; your words will say everything.

Never gossip about others. The greatest way to waste words and time is talk about other people. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”  What kind of mind do you have?  Great, average or small? Proverbs 25:23 states; "As surely as a wind from the north brings rain, so a gossiping tongue cause anger!" Proverbs 26:20 goes onto say, "Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops." Stop the gossip and you stop the drama.

Last week while I was listening to Focus on the Family I had the distinct pleasure to hear Florence Littauer speak. She spoke about a time she was ask to speak to a group of young children about how we should speak to one another. Florence shared with them the importance of edifying others with our words. At the end of her talk a young child stood up and turned to the adult audience and said "What she means is that our words should be like little silver boxes with bows on top."

Silver boxes with bows on top.

I like that.

Ephesians 4:29 states; "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

I just received a Facebook message from my son Bryce. He said, "Happy birthday u pops...I'm glad you're in my life and my u dad."

Please, don't tell me words don't matter. That "18" word message is one of the best gifts I have ever received for my birthday. I don't remember too many gifts that caused tears to stream down my face. Thank you Bryce.

Encouragement... give it as often as you can.

Affirmation... encourage and affirm others and you too will be encouraged.

Silver boxes with bows on top... it's undoubtedly better to give than receive.

Share words that show you care... begin today.

sbb  12.1.11