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Archive for June, 2014

It’s 3:00 in the morning, and I’m still awake,
so I picked up a pen and a page,
and I started writing just what I’d say,
If we were face to face…
*

Those words from a song are with me now, along with so many others. I’ve been sitting quietly here with my father this night, and the sands of time are sinking.

As I’ve been with Dad tonight in his room, listening and watching, I’ve had the blessing of reflecting and noting some of my two sister’s more poignant memories and mixing them with my own as we prepare for Dad’s upcoming memorial.

As I emailed a draft of those memories to those two special ladies a few moments ago, I found an email of a blog post from a former colleague and teacher, speaking to the beauty of a song by Anne Ross Cousin, and it seemed the perfect gift from God in this moment. It is a beautiful song, and no doubt is one of my Dad’s old favorites. Thanks to a man named Mark for sharing them earlier.

The words to this hymn are below. I hope you enjoy them as I have tonight, as we await our Dad’s opportunity to be with Christ, where He is throned where glory dwelleth…

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love!
The streams of earth I’ve tasted more deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The King there in His beauty, without a veil is seen:
It were a well spent journey, though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army, doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory—glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

With mercy and with judgment my web of time He wove,
And aye, the dews of sorrow were lustered with His love;
I’ll bless the hand that guided, I’ll bless the heart that planned
When throned where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved’s mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner into His “house of wine.”
I stand upon His merit—I know no other stand,
Not even where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

*These Simple Truths lyrics by Sidewalk Prophets

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Legacy…?

The following is from an email letter I receive every few weeks. It’s a very timely, and timeless, message…
————————————–

“Let your life be a stepping stone to Christ and not a stumbling block.” 1 Cor. 8:13 & 10:31

Determine Now The Legacy You Will Leave Later
By: Robert J. Tamasy

Someone has said that in the early stages of their careers, business and professional people strive for success – achievements, promotions, material rewards, recognition. Then, in later stages of their careers they shift the focus to significance – seeking to make an enduring mark, to leave a meaningful legacy.

This seems true, although I have seen that many younger business and professional leaders today also have a keen interest in having a significant impact in their communities and in the world. At Leaders Legacy, the non-profit organization I have been with since 2001, we believe the test of a true leader is not accomplishments, wealth or status. The measure of a great leader is what is left behind after he or she leaves, whether through taking a new job, retirement, or death.

Recently I saw a very personal example of this when I attended the memorial service for my uncle, Joe Tamasy. He had enjoyed considerable success both as a corporate attorney and in his private law practice. His greatest impact, however, was accomplished in the lives of countless men, women and children through his generosity, tireless and often sacrificial service, and unconditional friendship.

In many ways, Joe had been like a second father to me, as he had been for his three sons-in-law. We all saw in him a consistent example of diligence, commitment to excellence, initiative and perseverance. He served his community in many ways, and was quick to come to the aid of people in need, even some he knew hardly at all. Most of all, he modeled what it means to cultivate a deep faith in God and take it beyond words, putting it into action.

True treasure. Speaking to his followers, Jesus Christ admonished them, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Gaining the world, forfeiting the soul? At another time, Jesus warned his followers, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

People like my uncle have come to understand the truth of these teachings. CEOs come and go, even at the most prestigious corporations. Lists of the wealthiest and most powerful people change each year. The most advanced cars and newest technological gadgets we can acquire become junk before we know it. But a life invested in another life never grows old, gets outdated, or loses value.

A pebble tossed into a pond makes an impact, creating a ripple that radiates outward. In a similar way our lives – if given away, poured out to enhance the lives of other people – will create ripples that will affect the lives of countless others for years to come, even for generations yet to be born.

Setting the right goals. There is nothing wrong with success. In fact, we all should strive to recognize and capitalize on the unique strengths, abilities and gifts we have. But if the goal of such success is self-gratification, we are shortchanging others – and ourselves. However, if we can maximize our talents, skills and experiences for the benefit of the people we encounter from day to day, then we have moved beyond success and into significance – and gone a long way toward building a lasting legacy.
Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran journalist, he has written Tufting Legacies (iUniverse); Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press); and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress). For more information, see http://www.leaderslegacy.com or his blogs, http://www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com and http://www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.

CBMC: Reaching a MAN right where he is to help him become the MAN GOD designed him to be.

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Burgers and fries and cherry pies, it was simple and good back then.

Walking in the sand hand in hand never thinking that it could end…*

I’m reflecting on those words as I ponder the lives of five guys: Joe, Howard, Dean, Jeff, and Alec. If you look closely, you can see images of all five in the picture above, one but a reflective image inset with his generational contemporary in the upper right, but reflections of them all are imaged in my thoughts this early morning hour.

But one of the five was intimately associated with the other four of us, and as time goes by, he will soon leave the younger two and join the two preceding us on this journey.

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I don’t know if there are burgers and fries and cherry pies in Heaven, but I believe it will be simply good. One day, I believe these five will get to share, all together, in a much greater feast.

Until that day, it was burgers and fries and cherry pies in a world we used to know…*

*Lyrics by Charley Pride

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Mark's Blog

fatherHappy Father’s Day to all of you fellow dads! One of the moments I enjoy the most is sharing the postings of new fathers to Facebook.  The scores of pictures of that unique little baby, almost always wrapped around gushy, sometimes tearful, praises for the amazing woman who made you a father!  I’m not making fun of you guys because I was exactly the same way on three wonderful days in 1974, 1976, and 1978.  And, honestly, I have re-lived all of those emotions  when our nine grandchildren were born, watching our sons (including Tim) become fathers!

The strangest thing happened to me after my father’s death twenty-five years ago this week.  For a period of time after his death, I found myself talking to him in my prayers.  It was not anything mystical or intentional. I would be talking to my Father in heaven and conversation would just merge…

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Greetings from the Heartland, where there’s a whole lot of shaking going on. As if life was not already enough to be awakened by, and for, many of us “in these parts” were shaken out of bed not once, but twice, early this A.M.

You know the possibility is real.

You know the danger is out there.

Sometimes you can hear, and feel, what is coming your way.

You hold on.

Your heart skips a beat.

You brace yourself.

You hear the rumble and feel the vibration, then the hard stuff starts, and you sometimes find yourself praying for it to go ahead and stop.

If it’s an “aftershock”, you might even break out in a bit of a cold sweat.

Not only that: we have been having some earthquakes around here the past few days. Rumor has it they’ve always been around. The same can be said of life’s more predictable unpredictable moments.

“Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18)

We studied a little about King David with our church family yesterday, and his prayer sums it up pretty well. But, if I was in a questioning mood this morning, I might ask you the following:

How is the weather?

How are things at work?

What’s the song on your heart at the moment?

What’s on your “to do list”?

How’s the family? How are your friends doing?

Are you spending time in The Word?

Where’s your compass pointing at the moment? North, or South?

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At the center of it all, you try to take measure of what is going on around you, to see where it is coming from, and to better understand the magnitude of your issues. If only life had a “QuakeFeed” application.

I’m left to wonder: why did God create earthquakes, among other things?

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19: 11-13)

There are storms.

There are deadlines, and disappointments, and stress.

There are moments of “Amazing Grace”.

The list seems to be never ending.

Friends and family are a blessing, even in times of hurt and hardship.

There never seems to be enough time. We should make it: force the issue, even.

My compass is a floater, and seems to always be spinning wildly. Thankfully, the needle always settles down, at least momentarily, to point the way North.

We are at the epicenter of life. This much is true. The question is, or should be, “what are we doing here?” Life is not to be lived out in a cave, where no one can harm us, and things won’t break, including our hearts from time to time. The beauty, the majesty, and the moments are to be lived out there.

The shaking won’t stop, but we have to not only be prepared for it, but to respond appropriately, even if the “QuakeFeed” aspect of life is retrospective, not predictive. We know where the fault lines are, what the risks entail, and that we live on earth shaken ground.

“And now, O Lord God, I am your servant; do as you have promised concerning me and my family. Confirm it as a promise that will last forever.” (2 Samuel 7:25)

Welcome to the heart land, where there’s a whole lot of shaking going on. We even have an earthquake or two, from time to time.

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I was at the helm last night. It was late. I was tired. The week had been full. But, I had a mission to fulfill.

It seemed easy enough. I knew my goal. I can even say it was due north. I knew my path. I knew my craft. But, was it enough?

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You see, as I continued on my way, I sensed a storm coming. The farther I travelled, and the darker it grew out, the stronger the storm appeared before me.

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Such is life. Life is a journey, and almost any journey can be an analogy for life. They say in every life some rain must fall.

Touché.

You see, feeling in control of your environment and confident of your destination won’t stop the inevitable storms that form along your way.

Sometimes, you have to slowdown, take stock of the circumstances in your way, and proceed with caution. It doesn’t mean your destination is no longer on the other side of the dark clouds . It doesn’t change the direction that is North. It simply puts you on a slower trajectory, one that may better allow you to withstand the winds that buffet you along the way.

And, it allows you to read the signs, to know you remain on the right path, and to hold back while the storm passes on.

1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Amen. So, I’ve concluded control is not a myth, only that Someone else is truly at the helm.

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download (1)I’m not a perfect person. Truth is, none of us are. Accordingly, life, this life, is lived under a curse. But we are created to be so much more. And we are becoming that, or at least we are put in a position to do so, but we have to make the choice.

Sometimes, the choice is to simply endure. And understand or accept that “it is what it is”, to borrow a phrase: we have to choose to understand, even when we really don’t.

I’m not a perfect person. Accordingly, there’s a lot I still don’t understand.

One of those things I don’t understand is why we suffer. I understand the curse, and I’m accepting of the fact that we are a sinful people. I am a sinful person, far from perfect. And yet, God has called me, He tells me He loves me, so I’m left to wonder “why”. If you have ever watched someone you love age and endure some of the challenges that come late in life, you might understand a bit of what I’m asking here. My wife summed it up well in a recent conversation by saying “death is just a waste: you are born, you grow, you make something of your life, you have people who love you, and then it just ends”.

In this context, I’ve spent some time thinking about new life coming into this world. Babies are beautiful to behold. There are few who would debate that. They are peaceful. They are dependent. They truly don’t carry an agenda. And, for at least a time, their infancy is likely the only time in this life that their form is without any blemish. It is just as it was created to be, and it is a beautiful thing.

But, if you’ve ever watched the process of childbirth, it’s not pretty. Truth be told, the process is indeed a byproduct of the curse of man dating back to our earliest ancestors, Adam and Eve.

Adam and Eve were created full and whole, and God saw that it was good. But, a few bad decisions later, God told Eve that there would be pain in childbirth. Pain, and risk, and blood, and loss. He told her that shortly after they realized that, in fact, they would “surely die”.

But, therein lies some wonder, and pain, today. Pain, and risk, and blood, and loss, but followed by joy, and relationship, and life. Death is a sad and ugly thing, but it doesn’t have to be, and maybe we can see it in a new context. It’s not about the right now. It’s about the soon, and very soon, and going to see the King.

Scripture tells us that “In the beginning was the Word”, and we have come to understand that God’s plan for redemption was always there. That redemption was not pretty, in its occurrence, as scripture tells us He was disfigured, and some could not look upon Him. Pain, and risk, and blood, and loss, but followed by joy, and relationship, and life.

So, if the plan for redemption was always there, maybe our passing from this life is but a type for the pains of childbirth, as we pass from this womb, this earthly existence where our souls have been given life and have been nurtured and developed into creatures that are fully prepared to exist in the new world that we are created to live in.

When I think about it that way, all sorts of images shared years ago by CS Lewis in “The Great Divorce” are brought to mind, and I begin to be able to better ignore the pain and the discomfort of the journey for the beauty that is before us.
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As I close these thoughts, the inspiration to that opening phrase comes from a song appropriately called “The Reason”. It was likely penned under a slightly different mindset, but maybe with the “Y” in you capitalized in a few appropriate places, one could argue this love song as a prayer to our God. Take a listen and see if you might agree. In the interim, here we find ourselves, laboring as in childbirth, and longing for the light of a new day. It’s OK, because it’s a great day, indeed. We have the promise, and maybe we better understand “the reason” for it all.


http://youtu.be/ZADpco6Zn9I”

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