"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

Friday, June 14, 2013

Be Encouraged!

Strengthen: to make stronger; give strength to. 

"Be Encouraged"
William Hemmerling

My favorite piece of scripture is 1 Samuel 30:6; 

"And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD." 

The word "strengthen" in Hebrew means to "encourage". 

David and his men had just been sent home to Ziklag by the Philistines, who were preparing for battle, only to find that the Amalekites had taken their women and children. With his disappointment came harsh criticism and displeasure from his people, leaving them to contemplate stoning David. 

David was in great need of some encouragement. 

How many times have all of us felt threatened by life, dismayed with our job to the point of depression or been unfairly treated when in our mind we had the best of intentions to do the right thing? Have you ever believed yourself to be in front of a firing squad? If you're in a leadership position you know exactly what I'm talking about. Have there been times you felt like you were going to be stoned by friend or foe? In each of those circumstances, and many others, we find our self in need of hope and direction; and like David we are in need of encouragement. Often we choose a mate, a friend, or a parent to share with them our misery.  

It takes courage to encourage others, and to encourage ourselves. 
-Art by William Hemmerling

We communicate our ills with the hope in mind that others will magically take away our pain. 

Other times the choice is worse when trying to alleviate our pain. Plenty of us have seen first hand the use of drugs, alcohol or sex to mitigate the suffering and misery one is experiencing.

In every situation, no matter the choice you make while in despair, the reasoning behind the decision is based upon our desire to escape the affliction we're suffering. What we're really in need of is strength and encouragement.  

"Wrought by Prayer" 
-Art by William Hemmerling 

In the end, there is nothing that can give us more hope; greater strength in our time of need, than God's providential hand and sovereign authority.  Nothing can strengthen our resolve and encourage our heart more than God, and God alone.  The next time you need to be strengthened seek God through His word and prayer, and become encouraged by God's faithfulness to those who put their trust in Him. 

Strengthen yourself in the Lord. 

Be Encouraged!

sbb 14.6.13

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mission Accomplished: Memorial Day 2013

Remember: to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory; think of again: I'll try to remember the exact date.

  Amelia Island, Florida

Many of you reading this might have seen the beautiful pictures from my wife and I's vacation this past week. We went to Amelia Island to celebrate her birthday and stayed with some wonderful friends. We had the pleasure to walk the charming streets of Fernandina Beach one night, watch a minor league baseball game from the second row, play golf at the Country Club of Amelia Island, and stroll the beaches behind the Ritz Carlton. We had Starbucks every morning (Green Zen tea is a must), I ran the beach or swam laps in the pool every morning, and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at David's with Carol and Jeff, as they celebrated their 17 wedding anniversary and we celebrated Ronnie's 40th birthday. As the commercial goes; Two drinks at the Ritz Carlton - $33.30, Dinner for two at David's - $175, Relaxing on the beach - priceless. It was wonderful. My wife shared with me that it was her best birthday and vacation ever.

Mission accomplished. 

I Love U! Happy B-Day...
But it was on my last morning running the beach I realized how different my life is now compared to 8 years ago (for the better), and the fact that many people are suffering beyond belief around this world (and in the United States)

The thought of suffering wouldn't leave me alone: my past sufferings and the sufferings of others.

Jersey Shore, Sandy Hook and Oklahoma. Syria, Iraq & Afghanistan and the Boston Marathon. I almost felt guilty that my life seems to be going so well while people in Moore, Oklahoma are trying to piece back together their lives as they deal with death and destruction. The bible in the 3rd chapter of Genesis (Gen. 3:16-19) tells us that our lives will be filled with pain and suffering. As a believer I understand that and I also find it understandable when I'm to blame for my misery and misfortune. Personally, I've attributed to roughly 90-95% of the pain and destruction in my life. Their is no one to blame or point the finger at other than me. I can live with that. I've often thought, pleaded and prayed that God would deliver me from myself and at times my destructive behavior and patterns. I decided years ago I didn't want to be the problem anymore. I would rather be diagnosed with cancer or have my life ended in a tragic accident than cause another person pain again. I never want to hurt another person again. So as I ran the beaches of Amelia Island I felt relieved that I was making good decisions and that my life was heading in the direction I'd always hoped it would.

I have enthusiasm for today, appreciation for yesterday, and hope for tomorrow.

Jacksonville Suns vs Birmingham Barons 

 But what about those that had nothing to do with the pain and misery they are currently enduring? What about the thousands of suffering souls in Boston, Sandy Hook, and Oklahoma? What about the family and loved ones of the 2783 that lost their lives on 9/11? What about the families of the 6200+ American soldiers that have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years? I can't even begin to understand their pain and the hurt they're experiencing right now. But why did these awful things happen? 

I can only say: "I don't know."

Lee Strobel, when sharing his 5 points of life concerning suffering, shares these words:

Point 1: God is not the creator of evil and suffering.
Point 2: Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good.
Point 3: The day is coming when suffering will cease and God will judge evil.
Point 4: Our suffering will pale in comparison to what God has in store for his followers.
Point 5: We decide whether to turn bitter or turn to God for peace and courage.

this never gets old...

As I reflect upon those thoughts and words of wisdom it gives me pause, peace and purpose when thinking about suffering. Some people will choose to believe those words and others will find them somewhat wishful thinking. I respect the opinion of both camps, but the one thing I know to be true is that we will all experience suffering, whether it is because of our own doing or by the doing of something or someone else. And when that suffering rears it's ugly head who do we go to for answers, direction and guidance? Where do we go for peace?

I hope we all take a moment sometime today to reflect upon the suffering we've caused and have endured… and make peace with them both. I also hope that we all remain mindful of the many people hurting because of no fault of their own. Mothers losing sons in war. Fathers losing daughters to mindless violence. Children losing parents due to Mother Nature's destructive force. Lets quietly pray for their peace and humbly thank God for the many blessings that are too numerous to count that He has blessed us with.

Let's remember what is truly important, and remember that God is present in "all" suffering. 

He never sleeps; He never forgets about us.

sbb  3.6.13