Archives For inspiration

The ruins of Stonehenge lie north of Salisbury, England.  To this day, despite intensive research and discovery, the purpose of this 4000 year old monument remains a mystery.  No one knows for sure why or even how it was built.   The large stones are believed to have been transported from Marlborough downs, a distance of 20 miles while some of the smaller stones (still up to 4 tons in weight) may have been brought from Wales – nearly 160 miles away.

It is difficult to explain how, using primitive technology, such large pieces were moved such great distances.  The project continued for nearly 1000 years and required the labor of thousands of individuals.  The sheer scope of the effort suggests that Stonehenge was hugely important to the ancient people of Britain.  But we don’t know why.  The site fell into disuse and disrepair, and its significance has long been forgotten.

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(from LiveScience.com)

Today, in the former country of Yugoslavia, dozens of monuments commemorating World War II battles stand abandoned and forgotten.   Millions per year visited these sites 30 years ago, but 500 years from now, will anyone know why they are there?  Some of these sites are already beginning to look like ruins and even today they are virtually unknown outside of their own territory.

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In the Bible, speaking of the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus said, “there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down (Matthew 24:2).”  And within a generation, his words came true.  Indeed, the world and all its works continue to pass away (I John 2:17).  Even the great and noble things of this world do not last, nor do the memorials we create to honor them.

And yet we still look in awe at the mystery of Stonehenge and we admire the work of its nameless creators.  I suspect that, if they stand, the monuments in Yugoslavia will evoke a similar response many years hence.

More than the monument, though, the legacy of Stonehenge lives in the people – the descendants of the ancients who built it.  The culture that created Stonehenge is one of the building blocks of the English-speaking world that exists today.

In the same way, those neglected monuments to World War II represent a generation that sacrificed and suffered greatly and that, for good and for ill, shaped the world as we know it.

And for us, too, that is what will ultimately last.  Not the projects completed, houses built, or possessions obtained.  None of the physical creations will be remembered, but the ideas, the interactions, and the character that shapes our works will also shape our futures.

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1. When things get tough, just keep going.

When most people encounter a rough patch, they quit.  The truly successful people in the world keep going no matter what.  Never let your setbacks win.

2. Consistency creates habit.

To incorporate anything into your life, you have to make it a habit.  To make something a habit, you have to be consistent.  Whatever it is you’re aiming for, make it a part of your life.

3. You’ll have to get through hell before you get to heaven.

Like all things worth pursuing, you are going to get knocked down, stepped on, and rejected along the way.  Consider this to be part of the path to your goals.  Sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination.

4. Reaching your goals will take a lot of work.

If it doesn’t, it’s either not a goal, not worth pursuing, or will not have any fulfillment.  Never expect to not put in work and get somewhere.

5. Every aspect of life is mental.

It’s not about what you do or what happens to you, it’s about how to respond to it.  It’s how you decide to carry on.  Your power comes from inside your head.

6.  You do have time– you just have to make it.

If something is important to you, you’ll make time for it.  If not, you’ll make excuses.

7. You define your own limits.

Your limits aren’t put unto you by your parents, other people, or the universe.  You are in total control of it.  You decide whether or not to shoot for the moon or stay right where you are.

8. If you wait for the right conditions, you’ll never get anything done.

Don’t wait for anything or anybody.  You know what you have to do to reach your goals and get things done. Just go do them!

9. Go beyond your limits every day and watch the magic happen.

You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve if you just push yourself a little further.

10. There is peace even in the most chaotic times.

No matter now grueling, stressful, sorrowful, or painful your situation is, there is always a silver lining and something positive to be found.  Seek it out, learn from it, and keep moving on.

via 10 Lessons Running Teaches You About Life | The Daily Runner.

tree-trunk

Chinese Wood Carver Zheng Chunhui Wins Guinness World Record for Giant Carving.

One tree trunk, four years of work.  Here are the results.

The Good Life

November 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

“For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer.  But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”      II Peter 3:10-12

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”   James 1:17

The common thread in these verses and others in the Bible is that God’s plan and intention for us is that we have a good life – a happy and fulfilled life.  Sometimes this promise challenges our faith because life for us at the moment may not seem to be all that great.  And then, we struggle at times because our idea of what a good life looks like and God’s knowledge of what a good life really is don’t line up exactly.

The good life he has in mind for us does not necessarily include wealth, popularity, or even good health, although they may be part of the blessings he bestows on us.  After all, Jesus himself said, “all people will hate you for my name’s sake (Luke 21:17).”   And when the Lord mentions some of his favorite people in Hebrews 11, he says, “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.  They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated — of whom the world was not worthy — wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:36-38).”

How can both of these ideas be true?  How can we live a good life that does not depend on the circumstances of that life?  Both in the Bible and in our own experience, we find that wealth, popularity, and physical well-being do not equal a good life.  There are too many examples in our own lives of people around us who possess all of those things while remaining the most miserable people on earth.  Conversely, it’s easy to find those who have nothing, as far as we can see, but who are genuinely happy and content.

There is a lifestyle taught by the Lord, however, that leads to happiness and good days no matter what we do or don’t have.  Here are at least some of the elements of it:

Contentment

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:12-13).”

“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction (I Timothy 6:6-9).”

“Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Peace

“…let him seek peace and pursue it (I Peter 3:11).”

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18).”

95 times or more in the New Testament alone, peace is mentioned and encouraged.  Much of the conflict in our lives – in relationships, at work, in the church – are only exacerbated because we do not take it upon ourselves to become peacemakers.  How much less stressful would your life be, and how much happier could you be if, at least for your part, you sought to be at peace with everyone?

Honest Work

“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil (Ecclesiastes 2:24).”

“…aspire to live quietly and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may…be dependent on no one (I Thessalonians 4:11).”

Those who embrace their work rather than constantly scheming to avoid it know something about the secret of a good life.

Hope

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:16-18).”

“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied (I Corinthians 15:19).”

People without hope are people with nothing.  It’s impossible to know happiness and contentment without it.  And so, God gives us something wonderful to look forward to – something that exists and is yours beyond time, beyond destruction, and beyond the unfairness and injustice of this world.  We can be happy living in these days by living for those days that are to come.

Brad

Taking time to Ponder

November 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening.”

-Genesis 24:63

I was reading in Genesis last night the story of the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, and this line jumped out at me.  Isaac went out to meditate in the field.  He is a nomad, living in a tent, far away from civilization.  There are few, if any, books available to him.  No telephone, television, or internet.  No texts, tweets, emails, Facebook statuses, or voice messages to respond to.  No one at the office is looking for him.  He’s single, so he doesn’t have any children running around underfoot demanding his attention and he has none of the responsibilities that go along with marriage.  I imagine that, even in the hustle and bustle of the camp, most of us would feel pretty alone with our thoughts.  So, why did he need to get away in order to meditate?

More importantly, if ancient Isaac had to separate himself from the humdrum of his relatively spartan existence to meditate, then it is all the more vital that we clear time and space for ourselves sometimes to just stop and think.

Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.  Proverbs 4:26

“Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.”  Psalm 119:27

Meditation is not the same thing as studying (Ecclesiastes 12:9-14).  Pondering has to do with thinking through the things you have studied and experienced and forming complete ideas about things – especially about the things God is revealing to you.  It takes time.  And most of our schedules don’t have room for it.

Even when I do try to just stop and think, if I am at home or at work, people assume I’m just zoning out or that I have nothing to do, and so they feel free to interrupt.  It’s no good to sit at the computer, because the whole world of the internet is right there, calling my name.  My phone accompanies me even to the great outdoors – I’m almost never completely out of reach and alone with myself.

Maybe Isaac was on to something.  Maybe, every once in awhile, toward evening it would be good to lay the phone on my desk and head outside, where no one else is, and just think.

Greatness

November 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

The Six Element

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”               – Ralph Waldo Emerson –

I.W.W. Meeting -- Union Sq., 4/11/14  (LOC)

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The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago…

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The second best time is now.