Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Boy Born Dead: A Story of Friendship, Courage, and Triumph

The Boy Born Dead: A Story of Friendship, Courage, and TriumphThe Boy Born Dead: A Story of Friendship, Courage, and Triumph by David Ring

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent, excellent book. If you have never heard David Ring preach, you are missing a blessing. This is his story told from his childhood best friend. I don't have many quotes but I do have a video or two to share. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I trust you will enjoy the quotes and videos below:

"You know, boys, people are like tea."

"Tea doesn't just appear. It is made through a process of steeping. First of all, the water must be boiling hot. Heat changes things, whether they want to change or not. The cuddles rise, and the steam heats the air. Anything that goes into that water is going to come out different."

"Then a tea bag is dropped into boiling water - like I said, it immediately begins to change. All that is dry and compact begins to seep out of the bag and liquefy. At first, you can even see a brown cloud begin to expand throughout the water - like the winding boundary of two territories: water and tea. They are separate."

"But the longer that bag is in the water, the more the two boarders disappear into each other. The brown takes over, and if you wait long enough, the water is no longer water. Now the whole pot is filled with nothing but tea."

"David, people are like tea. When they are thrown into hot water - whether of their own doing or not - they are changed by their circumstances. How can they not be? And the longer they stay in the heat, the more they become one with their difficulty. It begins to define them. Pretty soon they are just tea. They are just bitter. They are just depressed. They are just angry. They become steeped in their situation. Lost until it consumes them."

"Only God can cool the heat - separate the tea back from the water. Sometimes he even puts other people near the heat. People who can endure it. People equipped to help that person regain hope again."

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Friday, November 25, 2016

How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life

How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your LifeHow to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life by Pat Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book. I recommend it to everyone. after you read the quotes below just remember that the book is 400 pages, so there is so much more! Enjoy and be inspired:

“We are all born to be who we are. What was the genetically unique individual who was going to be himself. His job, and ours as well, is to finish the job on earth that we were created for.” ~Ray Bradbury writer

Now more than ever, we need people with the qualities Walt had: optimism, imagination, creativity, leadership, integrity, courage, boldness, perseverance, commitment to excellence, reverence for the past, hope for tomorrow and faith in God.

But that’s just the point of this book. Walt was unique – – and so are you! The attitudes and traits we learn from Walt’s life teach us how to be more uniquely who we are and who we were meant to be. If each of us would dream big dreams, approach life with hope and confidence, and persevere until our dreams come true, then we would not only be more like Walt, but we would become the people God created us to be.

“They called Walt a genius, and he was. But in a real sense, while Walt was just an average man who could relate to other average people. So what is a genius, really? If we could learn the lessons of Walt’s life, maybe we could all be geniuses.” ~John Kimball, son of animator Ward Kimball

When Walt Disney was just a boy, his father put him to work in the harsh conditions of a Kansas City blizzard – – and kept the money Walt earned. Even so, Walt embraced the nostalgia for his early years while dreaming big dreams of the future.

Walt once said, “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” In reality, it all started with a boy. Here is that boy’s story.

Walt chose to emulate his father’s best traits: faith in God, faith and his fellow man, a strong work ethic, honesty and integrity, perseverance, a tolerance for risk, compassion for people, love of music, and love for family.

“His parents were plain people who moved from one section of the country to another in fertile search of the American dream. Young Walt showed no brilliance as a student; he daydreamed through his classes. Cartooning proved his major interest, but his drawings were uninspired; as soon as he could hire better cartoonists, he gave up drawing entirely. It seems incredible that the unschooled cartoonist from Kansas City… could have produced works of unmatched imagination. ~Bob Thomas, Disney Biographer

A fourth-grade teacher once scolded Walt for exercising his Disneyesque imagination on a class assignment. The students were shown a bowl of flowers to sketch. Walt drew the flowers with faces – – a foretaste of the humanize flowers in the Silly Symphonies and Alice in Wonderland. “Flowers,” the teacher sternly admonished, “do not have faces!”
The two twenty year-olds, Walt and Ub were the “old men” at Laugh-O- Gram. The other employees were still in their teens. (Two of them, Hugh Harmon and Rudolf Ising, would later create the Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies series for Warner Brothers.)

“Walt was not afraid to surround himself with the best artist he could hire. He was not threatened by having better people around him. Eventually all his old Laugh-O- Gram animators from Kansas City came out to California to work for him.” ~Brian Burnes, co-author, Walt Disney’s Missouri

“Walt’s older brother Roy devoted his life to helping Walt finance his dreams. Outside of Watt’s on personal drive and creativity, Roy O. Disney was the single most important factor in Walt’s ultimate success.” ~Ken Annakin, Disney Movie Director

“Walt was the best salesman in the world because he felt he wasn't selling." Wolfgang Reitherman, Disney Animator

Build these qualities into your life and you can sell like Walt. Those five qualities are honesty, enthusiasm, confidence, courage and persistence. Let's take a closer look:

1. Honesty. The best salesmen are people of integrity. A great salesman lives on repeat business. The key to repeat business is trust, and the key to trust is integrity.

Always tell the truth about your product. Never promised more than you can deliver. It's better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around.

2. Enthusiasm. All great salesmen are fired up about their product. Enthusiasm is contagious; it affects everyone around you.

3. Confidence. Great salesmen always brim with confidence, even in tough times.

Selling is all about attitude. You must believe you can sell your product even in a down economy, even in an off-season, even if you've been in a slump. Confidence is not a feeling; it's an attitude choice. Even if you don't feel confident, you can still adopt an attitude of confidence.

You may not be comfortable selling yourself or your product, but so what? Nobody is comfortable selling. Nobody ever became successful by staying within their comfort zone. If you want to succeed, you have to do what Walt did: take a big, confident step outside your comfort zone, and start selling your dreams.

4. Courage. The biggest obstacle every salesman faces the fear of rejection. Psychological studies show that high-achieving, successful people are not overly concerned about what others think.

5. Persistence. The most important part of selling his persistence. Nothing that is worthwhile comes easy.

“Walt Disney worked hard and sold his ideas from the earliest days of his career. He had no MBA, not even a college degree. But Walt had the right idea and the right spirit, and he was willing to go out and sell his ideas. He was a world-class salesman." ~Peter Clark, Retired Disney Executive

“Actually, it’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” ~Walt Disney

“Walt was in the business of believing the impossible,” Lynn told me. “To him, the impossible was always possible. Now, of course, we are getting into the realm of God and faith, because God is in the business of making the impossible possible in our lives. As Jesus once said, ‘All things are possible to him who believes.’

Wendell Warner told me, “I heard Walt say, many times, ‘I’m not interested in what man can’t do. I want to know what he can do.’

"Today, you hear people talk about ‘thinking outside the box.’ But Walt would say, ‘No! Don't think outside the box!’ Once you say that, you've established that there is a box. Walt would refuse to accept the existence of the box.”

Walt chose to respond creatively. He responded with imagination instead of retaliation. He said, in effect, "I'll solve this problem by creating something new, something the world has never seen before." So Walt created Mickey Mouse.

“Mickey was the first cartoon character to stress personality. I thought of him from the first as a distinct individual, not just a cartoon type or symbol going through a comedy routine.” ~Walt Disney.

Creativity is the ability to unleash the imagination so that we can envision what has never existed before.

Some people believe that creativity is a talent that you are either born with or not. I'm convinced that creativity is a skill that can be learned and nurtured. All people are essentially creative because we are all made in the image of a creative God.

Here are some creative insights drawn from Walt’s life:

1. Draw on all of your life experiences. Everything that has ever happened to you is grist for the mill of your imagination. Don’t waste your experiences. Remember them, reflect on them, and let them inspire you.

“Ideas percolated in Walt’s memory for years, from his childhood to the trips he made to South America and Europe. On one European vacation, he bought an arm load of mechanical toys – – birds, poodles, and so forth– – and these toys inspired him to build a system of robotics called Audio-Animatronics. That invention changed entertainment history.” ~Stacia Martin, Disney Artist and Historian

2. Remove the limits from your imagination. Most of our limitations are actually self-imposed. We limit ourselves by worrying about the “right” or “proper” way to do things. The moment we place limits on imagination, creativity shuts down.

Sometimes creative thinking demands that we set aside the rules of logic and make an intuitive leap to a completely new range of ideas.

3. Consider all possible solutions to every problem. Creative people look at the problems and challenges from every angle. They don’t want one solution they want hundreds.

4. Silence your inner critic. We all have that little voice inside us that criticizes our ideas and inhibits our inner creativity. Our inner critic nags at us and warns us not to take chances or color outside the lines. Creative people learn to shut off that critical voice so they can explore the outer limits of their imagination.

5. To be creative, be courageous. “People called Walt a dreamer, and he was,” said Bob Thomas. “But he was so much more, because he dared to risk everything to make his dreams come true.”

6. Work hard. Authentic creativity doesn't just dream; it builds. It turns fairytale dreams into castles. "If you can dream it," Walt said, "you can do it."

7. Ask yourself, “What if –?” Creative people don’t say, “I always do it this way.” They question assumptions. They ask, “what if we could find a better way?”

“There was a moral foundation to Walt’s movies that people tapped into—a basic moral foundation. In Disney films, you see strong values and role models. You see the importance of being kind to others, of serving others, of finding joy even in adversity. All of this reflects the Judeo-Christian worldview that Walt was raised in.” ~Les Perkins, Video Producer and Disney Historian

In the author’s book, “The Paradox of Power,” he distilled the art of leadership down to seven essential components. Walt Disney perfectly exemplifies every one of them: Vision, Communication Skills, People Skills, Good Character, Competence, Boldness, and a Servant’s Heart. Let’s take a closer look at each one:

1. Vision
Great leaders are people of vision. Your vision is your definition of success. Not all visionaries our leaders, but all leaders are visionaries. You can't lead people without a vision of where you are taking them.

“Think beyond your lifetime, if you want to do something truly great. Make a fifty-year master plan. A fifty-year master plan will change how you look at the opportunities in the present.” ~Walt Disney

2. Communication Skills
A great leader is also a great communicator.

What made Walt such an inspiring communicator? He understood that communication is more than words – – we communicate with their eyes, are smile, our hands, our posture and our bearing.

“I was stumped one day when a little boy asked, ‘Do you draw Mickey Mouse?’ And I had to admit I do not draw anymore. ‘Then you think of all the jokes and ideas?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I don’t do that.’ Finally he looked up at me and said, ‘Mr. Disney, just what do you do?’ ‘Well’ I said, ‘sometimes I think of myself as a little bee. I go from one area of the studio to another, and I gather pollen. I sort of stimulate everybody. I guess that’s the job I do.’” ~Walt Disney

Walt was a great communicator in part because he listened so well.

3. People Skills
Walt once said, “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make that dream a reality.” Everything Walt achieved, he achieved through people. Not one of Walt’s accomplishments was a solo effort. To be a leader, you must have people skills: the ability to delegate; the ability to manage the results; the ability to inspire loyalty; the ability to create an atmosphere of creative freedom and informality; the ability to turn a collection of talented individuals into a team; and the ability to create an atmosphere of teamwork.

"Walt wanted to manage the creative process without intruding on it. So, after work, he would go study the artists’ desk, bulletin boards, and even the wastebaskets. Janitors would say he'd sit there and study at his artists’ work for hours." ~Harriet Burns Disney Imagineer

4. Good Character
A leader must have good character in order to inspire other people with his vision for the future. As leadership guru John Maxwell observed, "people buy into the leader before they buy into the leader’s vision."

“He created Mickey Mouse and produced the first full length animated movie. He invented the theme park and originated the modern multi media corporation. … But the most significant thing Walt Disney made was a good name for himself.” ~Richard Schickel, Film Critic, TIME MAGAZINE

5. Competence
The word competence means “the state or quality of being well-qualified, skilled, knowledgeable, and able to perform a given roll.” Noticed that the first seven letters of the word “confidence” C-O-M-P-E-T-E. Your people need to know that you are a competent and competitive leader. If they know you will fight hard to win, they will follow you anywhere.

6. Boldness
Boldness is courage, confidence, and adventurous spirit, and a willingness to take risks. Bold leaders master their fears, act decisively, and except the consequences of their decisions.

7. A Servants Heart
I believe the ultimate test of leadership is this: Does this person have the heart of a servant? If you don’t have a servants heart, you are not a leader just a boss.

In 1936, Disney’s distribution agreement with United Artist came up for renewal. This time around, the UA attorneys inserted the strange clause in the contract, asking Walt to sign over all rights to exhibit his film on experimental new technology called “television.” Walt refused to sign. “I don’t even know what television is,” he said, “so I’m not going to sign away my rights to something I know nothing about.” After negotiations with UA broke down, Walt cut a deal with RKO Radio Pictures, giving Disney seventy percent of the gross while permitting Disney to retain all television rights. Though no one could have imagined the future importance of television, Walt’s decision to retain TV rights for his films would prove to be a stroke of brilliance.

After three years of work and $2.6 million, Pinocchio premiered in New York City on February 7, 1940. Artistically, it is regarded as one of Disney’s finest productions. Commercially, however, Pinocchio was a flop. The person responsible for undermining Pinocchio’s success was an Australian-born dictator by the name of Adolf Hitler.

Disney’s film budgets were partly based on earnings from European distribution. On September 1, 1939 – – five months before Pinocchio opened – – Hitler sent his Nazi storm troopers into Poland, igniting World War II. The outbreak of war closed the lucrative European markets to Disney’s films and Pinocchio failed to earn back its production cost in its initial release.

“People mistakenly think of Walt as a creator of children’s entertainment. When Walt was at the top of his artistic form, he made movies for everyone, not just children. Snow White and Pinocchio were suitable for children but tremendously sophisticated. It was filmmaking at its best. ~J.B. Kaufman, FILM HISTORIAN, COAUTHOR OF WALT IN WONDERLAND

“My dad would quote Walt Disney: ‘Do a good job. You don’t have to worry about the money; it will take care of itself. Just do your best work then try to trump it.’” ~Don Iwerks, Son of UBS Iwerks, Longtime Disney Employee and Founder of Iwerks entertainment

Walt Disney, Leopold Stokowski, and the Disney engineers broke new ground with Fantasia’s revolutionary Fantasound multi-track sound system. It was not only the first film with stereophonic sound; it was the film that invented stereophonic sound. Though The Sorcerers Apprentice was recorded in California, the rest of the music was recorded by Stokowski's Philadelphia Orchestra in the historic Philadelphia Academy of Music.

Walt Disney teaches us to do what you love. Fall in love and stay in love with and what you’re doing. With Walt, cartoons started it. They said Snow White wouldn’t work, but Walt did it because he loved it. The same with Fantasia—a commercial failure at the time, but what a magnificent failure! Fantasia set the standard. Walt lived his loves. His life shouts to us, ‘Don’t try to please others! Be yourself!’” ~Ray Bradbury, Writer

Walt committed his studio to producing films for the government at cost – – Disney’s contribution to the war effort.

“Walt had a burning desire for excellence in everything he did. He was always thinking, ‘we can do it better’. That’s a common trait of all successful people.” ~Royal “Mickey” Clark, Former Treasurer of WED Enterprises

"Walt Disney was adamant about quality. He always found new ways to ‘plus the experience.’ He wanted to give people more than they anticipated. ~Dan Viets, Disney Historian and Co-author, WALT DISNEY’S MISSOURI

“If Walt made one million from one picture, he didn’t retire to Miami. He’d take that million, borrow another million and make another picture.” ~Charles Shows, Disney Writer-Director

“Walt Disney taught me to always go for the highest quality and never settle for less. Nothing but the best quality products ever left a studio, no matter what it cost.” ~Bob Brunner, Disney Composer

“We make movies that children are not embarrassed to take their parents to.” ~Walt Disney

“Fantasy, if it’s really convincing can’t become dated, for the simple reason that it represents a flight into a dimension that lies beyond the reach of the time.” ~Walt Disney

“Our goal at Disneyland is to always give the people more than they expect. As long as we keep surprising them, they’ll keep coming back. But if they ever stop coming, it’ll cost us ten times that much to get them to come back.”

No matter what business you’re in, your success depends on your commitment to excellence and attention to detail. If you deliver more than people expect, you will turn clients into fans. If you go out of your way to make people feel special, they will go out of their way to buy your product.

“Lillian used to say, ‘But why do you want to build an amusement park? They’re so dirty.’ I told her that was just the point – – mine wouldn’t be.’” ~Walt Disney

“Walt loved the story of Davy Crockett, and he lived by Davey’s motto: ‘Be sure you are right, then go ahead,’ That’s why Walt put Davy Crockett on TV. He made the kind of entertainment he liked to watch.” Stacia Martin, Disney Artist and Historian

The Disneyland opening ceremonies were scheduled for live coverage on the ABC television network. Walt chose his friend, Art Linkletter, to host the show.[It was determined they needed two co-hosts]

Linkletter didn’t hesitate. “I know two fellas who would be the perfect for the job: Bob Cummings and Ronnie Reagan.” So Walt had his broadcast team – – genial TV host Art Linkletter, popular actor Robert Cummings, and future President Ronald Reagan.

Walt’s nephew, Roy E. Disney told me, “If Walt had one great gift, it was that he kept his head down and kept trying.

“When things are going good, I’m afraid something’s going to crack under me any minute. A kick in the pants can be the best thing in the world for you.” ~Walt Disney

“Walt wanted everything done right. He’d walk around the park in old clothes, so that people wouldn’t recognize him. If he saw a carpenter doing careless work, he’d say, ‘You know, that looks a little sloppy. You should take more pride in your work.’ The carpenter would wonder. ‘Who does that guy think he is? Walt Disney?’”   ~John Kimball, son of Ward Kimball and Longtime Disney Employee

“At the opening ceremonies for the Disneyland Monorail, when Richard Nixon attended, Walt and Nixon took a test ride on the Monorail. Round and round they went. Finally, we had to shut the power off to get Walt to stop at the station.”  ~John Catone, Longtime Disneyland Empolyee

Disney produced yet another innovation: the first TV broadcast and simulcast stereo. On January 30, 1959, Disney aired “The Peter to Tchaikovsky Story.” In some cities, the audio portion was broadcast buy a pair radio stations. If you had two radios, you could tune one to receive the right channel and the other to receive the left.         

Walt’s friend, Art Linkletter, shared a memory with me that reveals Walt’s heart for young people. “Walt gave me a gift on my birthday one year,” he said. “It’s a four by six photo of a small boy looking off in the distance. There is a single word across the bottom of the photo – – ‘Priorities’ – – and below that word is this statement: ‘A hundred years from now it will not matter what is in your bank account, or what kind of car you drive. It will only matter that you made a difference in the life of a child.’

“Think beyond your lifetime if you want to accomplish something truly worthwhile.”   ~Walt Disney

He envisioned nothing less than a planned community in which thousands of people would live, work, play and dream. It would be his gift to the human race – – a clean, healthy, crime-free community where new technologies could be tested and showcased.” What I’m talking about,” he said, “is an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. What does that spell? E-P-C-O-T. And that’s what we we’ll call it: EPCOT!”

He later described his utopian vision. “In EPCOT,” he said, “there will be no slum areas because we won’t let them develop there will be no landowners and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed. One of the requirements is that people who live in EPCOT must keep it alive.” Science-fiction writers have dreamed of such and community only Walt Disney dared to build it.

“Everybody can make their dreams come true. It takes a dream, faith in it, and hard work. Yet, the work isn’t all that hard because it is so much fun you hardly think of it as work.”  ~Walt Disney

“After Walt’s death, the EPCOT project fell apart because no one had the vision to carry it on. The whole company was lost without him.”  ~Randy Thornton, Award-Winning Producer Walt Disney Records

Like his heroes, Abe Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and Charlie Chaplin, Walt was largely a self-education man.  Though Walt’s formal education only went as far as his freshman year in high school, he was a brilliant and well-educated man. At an early age, Walt mastered the art of self-education. While most people view education as something they passively receive from teachers, Walt viewed education as something to be aggressively pursued. He exemplified an important life principal: successful people are those who have learned how to learn.

The genius of Walt Disney, I have boiled it down to six factors:

First, curiosity. Walt was intensely curious about everything life has to offer.

Second, knowledge. Walt had a thirst for knowledge. He tried to impart this level of knowledge to everyone around him.

Third, experimentation. Walt was always pushing the envelope and testing new ideas. He was on a continual quest for discovery, and he encouraged that same spirit in his staff.

Fourth, quality at all cost. His philosophy was, ‘Whatever you do, do it right.’ He was always reaching for perfection, and his eye never missed a detail.

Fifth, control. Walt hired the best people and gave them a lot of creative freedom. But he always had control of the final results.

Sixth, vision. He had a unique sense of what would sell, what the public wanted to see.

On July 17, 1955, Walt unveiled a radically innovative form of three-dimensional art. Some people called it a “theme park,” but it was actually a full-immersion multi-media experience combining motion, light, color, texture, sound, music, taste, smell, story, adventure, thrills, nostalgia, futurism, fact, fantasy, and audience participation. It was, that a time, the world’s largest art object, for it covered 160 acres of California real estate.

“We are not trying to entertain the critics. I’ll take my chances with the public.”   ~Walt Disney

“Once a man has tasted freedom he will never be content to be a slave. That is why I believe that this frightfulness we see everywhere today is only temporary. Tomorrow will be better for as long as America keeps alive the ideals of freedom and a better life. How men will want to be free and share our way of life.   ~Walt Disney March 1, 1941

“I thank God and America for the right to live and raise my family under the flag of tolerance, democracy and freedom.”   ~Walt Disney March 1, 1941

In matters of faith, as is so many other areas of his life, Walt was full of surprises – – and paradoxes. He was a deeply religious man who never went to church. He drank and smoked and swore, but he was also a man of faith and prayer.
Raised in a strongly religious home, the son of a Congregational deacon, Walt got a heavy dose of Christianity in his early years. He was required to attend Sunday school and church every week until he was old enough to leave home. He was named Walter after the Congregational minister Reverend Walter Parr.

Though Walt’s belief in God never wavered from childhood until death, his strict religious upbringing left him with a distaste for institutional religion and sanctimonious churchmen. The fact that Walt’s own father could often be dogmatic, narrow minded, and a severe disciplinarian and was undoubtedly a factory Walt’s alienation from the church. Walt rebelled against his strict religious upbringing – – but he didn’t become a nonbeliever, as many rebels do. Instead he became a non-practicing believer. He had faith in God, he lived Christian principles, but he avoided church involvement.

“I believe firmly in the efficacy of religion, and it’s powerful influence on a person’s home life. It helps immeasurably to meet the storms and stress of life and keep you attuned to the Divine inspiration. Without inspiration, we would perish.”   ~Walt Disney

“He was a very religious man, but he didn’t believe you had to go to church to be religious. . . . He respected every religion. There wasn’t any that he ever criticized. He wouldn’t even tell religious jokes.”   ~Sharon Disney Lund, Walt’s Daughter

Though not a church-goer, Walt was a moral, Christian man who lived out what he believed.

We’ve already looked at Walt’s compassion, his humility and servant-hood, his commitment to being an involved and loving father, and his utopian vision for a better world for all people everywhere. These qualities all spring from Walt’s Judeo-Christian worldview. And there is one more of Walt’s Christian qualities that needs to be mentioned: his Christian view of morality. Walt was a moral and upright man.

“I ask of  myself, ‘Live a good Christian life.’ Towards that objective I bend every effort in shaping my personal, domestic and professional activities and growth.”   ~Walt Disney

“He was also tolerant when an animator was arrested on a homosexual charge. Let's give him a chance; we all make mistakes,’ Walt said. The animator continued at the studio for years afterward.”   ~Bob Thomas Disney Biographer

How to be like Walt – – Lesson 17: Be the Person God Made You to Be

“Walt is ageless and timeless. He just got stopped in time when he died in 1966. I’m over 70 now, and people still think I'm Walt’s brother. My goodness, if I was Walt's brother, I’d have to be a hundred and twelve years old by now.   ~Roy E. Disney, Walt’s Nephew

You have been brought into this world by the grace of God. He has given you irreplaceable gifts and talents, and a personality that is uniquely you. As Ray Bradbury told me, “We are all born to be who we are.”

God has given each of us a mission in life, and the gifts and talents with which to accomplish that mission.

“My dad’s life teaches all of us to dream big dreams and believe in ourselves. When times get tough, don’t be discouraged – – keep working, keep trying. Be fair, generous, and compassionate in your dealings with others. Whatever you do, do it as excellently as you can. Be humble. Love your family. Trust God. And try to leave the world a better place than you found it.”  ~Diane, Walt’s daughter

Be that wonderful, genetically unique individual you were born to be, the person God created you to be – – then go out and change the world

For three decades, Thelma Howard was the cook and house keeper for the Disney family. For Christmas and birthdays, Walt gave her bonuses consisting of shares of Disney stock. He told her, "hang onto the stock, because it's going to grow in value." So Thelma Howard clung to that stock. She lived a modest lifestyle for the rest of her life, and she kept those stock certificates tucked away in a safe place. She died in the early 1980s, seemingly very poor. In her will, she left half of her belongings to her only son Michael who was in a home for the developmentally disabled. The other half she left to help poor and disabled children.

 After her death, as her possessions were being itemized, the executor of Thelma Howard’s estate found the stock certificates. The market value of those certificates was found to be $4.5 million. Thelma Howard died completely unaware that she was a millionaire.

Walt’s life challenges us to dream bigger, reach higher, work harder, risk more, and persevere as long as it takes.

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The opening of Disney Land Part 1:

The opening of Disney Land Part 2:

The opening of Disney Land Part 3:

The opening of Disney Land Part 4:

The opening of Disney Land Part 5:

The opening of Disney Land Part 6:

The opening of Disney Land Part 7:

The opening of Disney Land Part 8:

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Salt And Light Solution: A Guide to Reclaiming America by D. James Kennedy

The Salt And Light Solution: A Guide to Reclaiming AmericaThe Salt And Light Solution: A Guide to Reclaiming America by D. James Kennedy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book published in 1999 by Coral Ridge Ministries is a collection of messages from the 1999 Reclaiming America For Christ Conference. The following people had their messages published in this book: Dr. D. James Kennedy, Rep. Dick Armey, Gary Bauer, Dr. Bill Bright, Larry Burkett, Barbara Collier, Janet Folger, Catie Frates, Peggy Hartshorn, Phillip Johnson, Robert Knight, Colby May, James Muffett, John and Anne Paulk, Robert Peters, Benny Proffitt, Dr. "Gus" Schaper, Alan Sears, Dr. Buster Soaries, Chuck Stevens, Barbara Weller, Dr. Laurence White, Dr. John Willke, and Dr. Frank White. Many of the people that spoke are no longer living but their words live on! A few of these people fell into sin, nevertheless, the words they spoke are still true. The description for each person is what they were doing at the time of their message in 1999. As you see below, I did not quote from every message but only the ones that spoke to my heart. This is a great book! I would recommend it to every believer that loves America. As you will read many quotes from 1999 are so true for today! I trust the quotes below will challenge you to pray, pray and pray for the United States of America!

Gary Bauer On leave as President of the Family Research Council
“Never Give Up!”
It doesn’t say all Americans are created equal; it says all men. It doesn’t say all white men are created equal; it says all men. It doesn’t say all perfect people; it says all men. It was meant for the handicapped and for the less than perfect. It was meant for black man and white man. It was meant for Englishmen and Chinamen. It was meant for the world. And that idea is transforming the globe. That’s why you could turn on your television set ten years ago and see the students in Tiananmen Square in China standing in front of those tanks. Do you remember that picture? Those students in that square didn’t wave copies of the sayings of Mao Tse-tung; they waived copies of our Declaration of Independence. They built papier-mâché models of our Statue of Liberty. It was American values they were embracing.

See if you can imagine this scene. A few years ago the people of Albania got their liberty. What a remarkable time that had to be. I talked to some people who were there on the first day the people of Albania got to vote in their lifetimes. Hundreds of thousands of them stood in line for hours for the right to vote.

How many people do you know sitting in the pews next to you that aren’t even registered? And yet, here were these Albanians with this precious right, and there was nothing that will stop them from exercising it. After they voted, they didn’t go home to watch television or play video games. They gathered in the public square of the capital of Albania – – hundreds of thousands of them – – to wait for the election results to be announced.

I talked to a former congressman who happened to be there that day and he said, “Gary, it was an unbelievable site. As far as your eye can see, the crown stretched for yards and yards and yards.” And he said, “As I looked at them, I noticed that many of them were carrying little flags. And what struck me so odd is that they weren’t Albanian flags– – they were little American flags.

And then all of a sudden this disturbance happened way in the back of the crowd. A chant began, and it was so far away the congressman couldn’t really hear the exact words, but the chant swept up through the crowd, going row after row after row. And as it got closer he could hear what they were chanting was "U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.”

Dr. Bill Bright Founder and President of Campus Crusade for Christ
“Reclaiming America – Supernaturally”
Some time ago I was on a plane in my seat mate said to me, as he expressed his irritation, aggravation, and frustration over the condition of America, “What’s our nation coming to? It’s falling apart.”

And I said, “Would you like to know why?”

And he looked at me with a bit of puzzlement and said, “Do you know?”

I said, “Read these passages.” I gave him chapters 8 and 28 of Deuteronomy. He read the passages and then I saw him read them again. Time passed, and I saw the attitude change.
He handed me the Bible and said; “Now I understand why were having problems in America.”

Our nation was dedicated to Christ. It prospered as no other nation of this century, because the blessing of God was on it. We have enjoyed all the benefits of that wealth. And about 50 years ago, and infamous decision of the Supreme Court began to change all of this. And this nation is now, in my opinion under the discipline of God.

If you have questions about that, look at modern day Germany. Out of Germany came to great Reformation. The blessings of heaven were upon Germany, and then Hitler remove God and the Bible and turned his back on the God of Luther and others who have dedicated it to the Lord, and Germany was destroyed, even in his lifetime.

Modern day Russia had 900 years of Christianity, and then Lennon appeared on the scene and God, the Bible, and prayer were removed. Christian leaders was sent to prison or killed. And then, 72 years later this great nation – – so rich in natural resources, art, literature, and music – – this great, great country is a basket case.

If God is God (and He is), and He created the universe (and He did), and He so loved the world that He came so this planet disguised as a slave – – the God-man Jesus of Nazareth – – and died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead . . . then, by the grace of God, we who are believers do not need to be intimidated by the problems that exist in Washington or in our own community, because we are no longer ordinary people. We are men and women of destiny. There’s royal blood in our veins. We are children of the living God.

Think supernaturally, pray supernaturally, and believe God. Plan supernaturally. You can’t plan for too much if your plans are according to God’s will and you’re praying according to His plan.

All He wants of us is yielded lives, men and women who think supernaturally, price supernaturally, plan supernaturally, I love supernaturally and live in the power of the supernatural resources of the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Freddie Young No description given.
“Thwarting Gay Pride”
“If we in the community do not establish the standard, who will?”

Dr. Robert Cosby No description given.
“How to Reach Your State For Christ”
Communication is 97% facial expressions, intonations, and body language, and only 7% of communication is the words.

Janet Folger Director of the Center For Reclaiming America, an outreach of Coral Ridge Ministries
“God-Sized Expectations”
The only ability you need to serve God is availability.

What is impossible with man is possible with God. Let God work through you so your results will be God-sized. Keep your focus on the coach, not on the scoreboard, the biased media, the umpires, the crowds who are jeering at you, but on the God of the universe who is greater than every impossible situation we face – – who can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think. What is impossible with man is possible with God. I believe that. I have seen that. And if we act on that, ladies and gentlemen, we will reclaim America for Christ.

Phillip Johnson Has been called “our age’s clearest thinker on evolution” and the “principal lay critic of Darwinism”
“How the Evolution Debate Can Be Won”
Why do so many brilliant, well-informed, intelligent people fool themselves for so long with such bad thinking and bad evidence? Where are you going to go for the answer to that? Romans 1:20-23, which tells us that God's eternal power and glory were always evident in the things that were created. Even Richard Dawkins, the arch atheist, arch materialist, high priest of Darwinism in England begins his major book on this subject by saying that biology is the study of extremely complicated things that look as if they were designed by a creator for a purpose – – and the job of science is to show that they weren’t. So it isn’t as if the truth wasn’t made evident to him. He turned away from it.

Dr. D. James Kennedy Senior Minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and President of Coral Ridge Ministeries
“The New Tolerance”
Tolerance is the last virtue of a depraved society. When you have an immoral society that has blatantly, proudly, violated all of the commandments of God, there is one last virtue they insist upon: tolerance for their immorality. They will not have you condemning what they have done as being wrong, and they have created a whole world construct in which it is not, and in which they are no longer the criminal or the villain or the evil person, but you are! And they call evil good, and good evil… and believe me, that is just the beginning.

Benny Proffitt Founder and President of First Priority of America
“Save a Generation; Rescue a Nation”
In 1945 we won World War II. Dwight D. Eisenhower came back as one of the leading commanders in the military, and he had something added to our pledge. How many of you remember what it was – “One nation under God.” We were so aware of the presence of God in our nation during World War II. How many people do you think spent day after day on their knees praying for their children, their young men who were fighting their war? And we won World War II, and America rose to international prominence. We got on our knees and thanked God and said we are going to add God’s name to our pledge – – “One nation under God.”

Barbara Weller An attorney with the Christian Law Association
“Religious Liberty in 2000 and Beyond”
Northwest Territory Law of 1787 – passed two months before the Constitution was adopted – said: Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

James Madison said: “Liberty was developed for a free people, and only a people who govern themselves using the Ten Commandments will retain their liberties.”

But even though Darwin wrote in his book in 1859, it didn’t take hold right away. In 1869, Charles William Elliot, as president of Harvard, decided that every discipline of education should be based on evolution. He appointed heads of all the schools at Harvard to base their teaching on Darwin’s evolutionary theory, not as applied to science, but as applied to educational philosophies.

In 1870 he appointed Christopher Columbus Langdon to be the dean of the Law School at Harvard, and Langdon decided to replace Blackstone with evolutionary theories of law. That was when Harvard started teaching the lawyers that decisions had to be based on previous decisions, and that law would evolve to this “higher plane.”

Dr. Laurence White Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston, TX
“No Retreat”
Our God is not a Republican or a Democrat. Our God is not even an American, which may come as something of a surprise. This isn’t about partisanship, politics, or even patriotism. This is about the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In the midst of the confusing welter of issues, charges, and counter charges that fill the public square today, of this one thing you can be absolutely certain: the Lord God Almighty hates the murder of innocent, unborn children. We can win the next election or the next ten elections. We can reduce taxes, we can eliminate the deficit, we can build the mightiest military machine on the face of the earth, but if we do not stop abortion in this land, God will and God should destroy America.

Let us become involved in this political process God has given us, not as rock-ribbed Republicans or as yellow-dog Democrats, but as sons and daughters of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The British philosopher statesman, Thomas Carlyle, once noted, “conviction is worthless, unless it is converted into action.”

Beginning in 1831, de Tocqueville came from Europe to visit this new nation, to see what it was that set America apart. And when it was all done, he wrote about his experiences and summarize what he found. He said,

“In the United States the sovereign authority is religious… There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men then in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature then that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation on earth…”

De Tocqueville remarks,
“I sought for the key to the greatness and the genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields, and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and in institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and the power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

Dr. John Willke Served ten years as President of the National Right to Life Committee
“Why Can’t We Love Them Bothg?”
Father Richard John Neuhaus, who marched at Selma, said, “So long as we have the gift of life we must protect the gift of life. So long as it is threatened, so long must it be defended. This is the time to brace ourselves for the long term. We are today laying the foundations for the pro-life movement of the 21st-century. Pray that the foundations are firm, for we have not yet seen the full fury of the storm that is upon us. But we've not the right to despair, we've not the right and reason to despair if we understand that our entire struggle is premised not on a victory to be achieved, but a victory that has been achieved. If we understand that, far from despair, we have right and reason to rejoice that we have been called at a time like this. A time of testing. A time of truth. The encroaching culture of death shall not prevail, for we know that the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it. The darkness will never overcome that light.

Dr. Frank Wright Director of the D. James Kennedy Center For Christian Stayesmanship
“The Failure of the Cultural Mandate?”
Now listen carefully. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand. I am not talking about Washington, D.C. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the problem we face in reclaiming America for Jesus Christ is not on Pennsylvania Avenue; the problem is not on Capitol Hill. The problem is much closer to home. Our problem is on Main Street; our problem is on Church Street.

These days you can’t get halfway through the morning paper or evening newscast without asking yourself a question. Are we as a people and as individuals losing our ability to distinguish between right and wrong, morality and depravity, integrity and dishonesty, truth and lies, law and anarchy?

In the mist of material wealth, have we grown poorer in character and in spirit? Have we lost the ability – the willingness – to recognize and choose between right and wrong? Are more and more of us treating wrongs against society’s accepted norms as mere inconvenient distractions that ought to just “go away” because we don’t want to be distracted from our quest for material comfort.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show

Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV ShowAndy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show by Daniel de Visé

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The author of the book, Daniel de Vise’, is an author and journalist who has worked at The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, and three other newspapers in a twenty-three-year career. Also he was Don Knotts's brother-in-law. This is a great book if you enjoy The Andy Griffith Show. Please be aware he tells both the good and bad about Andy and Don. Some fans may not want to read any thing that sheds light on a negative of these two stars, but to me that just makes them more human. They truly were good friends and some might say best friends. For sure they were great actors who brought laughs to millions. This book examines their lives from the beginning to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and can highly recommend it!

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Monday, August 15, 2016

All the Places to Go . . . How Will You Know?: God Has Placed Before You an Open Door. What Will You Do?

All the Places to Go . . . How Will You Know?: God Has Placed Before You an Open Door. What Will You Do?All the Places to Go . . . How Will You Know?: God Has Placed Before You an Open Door. What Will You Do? by John Ortberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

John Ortberg was become one of my favorite authors. What he writes encourages me, challenges me, and makes me think. This book is about “Doors,” both open doors and closed doors. He describes and teaches what we should do when we encounter these doors. He uses many personal examples to show both the right way and wrong way to respond to open or closed doors. This is a great book for all believers to read. You may not agree with everything he says but you will be blessed. I trust the quotes below will give you a little taste of what he has to say on this topic.

Funny and ironic quotes (six-word memoirs) from the book, Not Quite What I Was Planning
“One tooth, one cavity, life’s cruel.”
“Savior complex makes for many disappointments.”
“Cursed with cancer. Blessed with friends.” (This one was written not by a wise, old grandmother, but by a nine-year-old boy with thyroid cancer.)
“The psychic said I’d be richer.” (Actually, this author might be richer if she stopped blowing money on psychics.)
“Tombstone won’t say: ‘Had health insurance.’”
“Not a good Christian, but trying.”
“Thought I would have more impact.”

… characters of Scripture might write their six-word memoirs
Abraham: “Left Ur. Had baby. Still laughing.”
Jonah: “No. Storm. Overboard. Whale. Regurgitated. Yes.”
Moses: Burning bush. Stone tablets. Charlton Heston.”
Adam: “Eyes opened, but can’t find home.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: “King was hot. Furnace was not.”
Noah: “Hated the rain, loved the rainbow.”
Esau: “At least the stew was good.”
Esther: “Eye candy. Mordecai handy. Israel dandy.”
Mary: “Manger. Pain. Joy. Cross. Pain. Joy.”
Prodigal Son: “Bad. Sad. Dad glad. Brother mad.”
Rich Young Ruler: “Jesus called. Left sad. Still rich.”
Zacchaeus: “Climbed sycamore tree. Short, poorer, happier.”
Woman caught in adultery: “Picked up man, put down stones.”
Good Samaritan: “I cam, I saw, I stopped.”
Paul: “Damascus. “Blind. Suffer. Write. Change world.”

In Revelation 3:7-8 an open door is symbolic of “boundless opportunities. Of unlimited chances to do something worthwhile; of grand openings into new and unknown adventures of significant living; of heretofore unimagined chances to do good, to make our lives count for eternity. An open door is the great adventure of life because it means the possibility of being useful to God.

Often an open door to another room begins with a sense of discontent about the room you’re already in.

If proof is possible, faith is impossible.

… you must abandon your old life, believe God’s promises are trustworthy, and commit to a new journey. (ABC’s of faith)

“I know that your strength is small,” God says to the church at Philadelphia. People in the church may not have been hugely flattered when they read that line. But what a gift to know that open doors are not reserved for the specially talented or the extraordinarily strong. God can open a door for anyone.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. ~Viktor Frankl

Frankl discovered that doors are not just physical. A door is a choice.

Life is a sum of all of your choices.

Sometimes the opportunity doesn’t involve going to a new place; it means finding a new and previously unrecognized opportunity in the old place.

Open doors in the Bible never exist just for the sake of the people offered them. They involve opportunity, but it’s the opportunity to bless someone else. An open door may be thrilling to me, but it doesn’t exist solely for my benefit. An open door is not just a picture of something good. It involves a good that we do not yet fully know. An open door does not offer a complete view of the future. An open door means opportunity, mystery, possibility – but not a guarantee.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose. …
Oh, the places you’ll go! …
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t. ~Dr. Seuss

The staggering truth is that this very moment is alive with opportunity. What could you be doing right this moment that you aren’t? You could be learning Chinese. You could be training for a marathon. Etc.

An open door is an opportunity provided by God, to act with God and for God.

God Can Use a “Wrong Door” to Shape a Right Heart

God’s primary will for your life is not the achievements you accrue; it’s the person you become.

God’s primary will for your life is that you become a magnificent person in His image, somebody with the character of Jesus.

God is primarily in the character-forming business, not the circumstance-shaping business.

God can use even what looks like the “wrong door” if I go through it with the right heart.

Those with an open mind-set believe that what matters is not raw ability; what matters is growth. Growth is always possible. A commitment to growth means they embrace challenge, so the goal is not trying to look smarter or more competent than other people. The goal is to grow beyond where they are today. Therefore, failure is indispensable and something to be learned from.

Ultimately, faith provides the greatest foundation for an open mind-set. The reason I don’t have to prove my worth is that I am loved by God no matter what. The reason I can be open to tomorrow is that God is already there.

Closed-door thinking looks safe, but it’s the most dangerous thinking of all because it leaves God on the other side of the door.

To be an open-door person means to embrace an open mind-set – along with a set of disciplines and practices to help us regularly embrace and walk through open doors.

Open-Door People Are Ready, “Ready or Not”

… a lot of times if we knew what we were getting into, we wouldn’t get into it in the first place.

The truth about being ready is you’ll never be ready.

Faith grows when God says to somebody, “Go,” and that person says yes.

Jesus chooses to change the world. He doesn’t say, “First, let’s get enough numbers” or “First, let’s get enough faith.” He just says, “You go. We’ll work on the faith thing and the numbers thing while you’re doing the obedience thing. I’m sending you out. Ready or not …”

In the Bible, when God calls someone to do something, no one responds by saying, “I’m ready”:
Moses: “I have never been eloquent. … I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10.
Gideon: “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15).
Abraham: “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?” (Genesis 17:17).
Jeremiah: “Alas, Sovereign Lord, … I am too young” (Jeremiah 1:6).
Isaiah: “Woe to me … for I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5).
Esther: “For any man or woman who approaches the king … without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death” (Esther 4:11).
Rich Young Ruler: “He went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:22).
Ruth: “There was a famine in the land” (Ruth 1:1).
Saul: (Samuel was going to anoint Saul king; the people couldn’t find him and asked if he was present.) “The LORD said, ‘See, he has hidden himself among the baggage’” (1 Samuel 10:22 NRSV).

The truth is you don’t know what you can do until you actually do it. “Ready” comes faster if you’re already moving.

Jesus takes his friends up a mountain. Not enough of them. Not enough faith. Doesn’t matter. What matters isn’t whether they’re ready. What matters is that He’s ready. And you and I never know when He’s ready. He’s in charge of that.

Open-Door People Are Unhindered by Uncertainty

As a general rule, with God, information is given on a need-to-know basis, and God decides who needs to know what, when.

Open-door people are comfortable with ambiguity and risk. Or, if not comfortable with it, at least they decide not to allow it to paralyze them.

Going through open doors means I will have to be able to trust God with my future when the path I’m called to take does not look like the obvious one.

The God of the open door invites His friends to give up on the project of making their name great, because worth can only be given, never earned.

Open-Door People Are Blessed to Bless

Blessing, for Abram, was an opportunity to know and experience God, and that included being used by God to enhance others. Abram is called to build his life on this offer: that he can receive a gift from God, but only if he allows his life to become a gift to others.

Going through an open door always requires a spirit of generosity. And generosity flows out of an attitude of abundance, not an attitude of scarcity.

The connection between abundance and blessing rests in God, who combines them both.

mission Dei, the mission of God.

God’s mission, God’s project, is to bless. Open doors are an invitation to be part of the mission Dei.

… it is impossible to be blessed in the highest sense apart from becoming a blessing. One of the deepest needs of the human soul is that others should be blessed through our lives.

Open-Door People Resist and Persist

Open-door people resist discouragement in the face of obstacles and persist in faithfulness and despite long periods of waiting.

You never know where you’re going if you’re going by faith.

If you’re going by faith, you’re always a stranger in this world, because your home is God.

When you get the divine “go,” you resist and persist.

If you’re not dead, you’re not done. ~Craig Groeschel

In the Bible, age is never a reason for someone to say no when God says go.

Moses is eighty years old when God calls him to go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. The Exodus starts when he’s eighty. Caleb is eighty when he asks God to give him one more mountain to take in the Promised Land.

Timothy tried to say no because he was too young. Esther tried to say no because she was the wrong gender. Moses tried to say no because he had the wrong gifts. Gideon tried to say no because he was from the wrong tribe. Elijah tried to say no because he had the wrong enemy. Jonah tried to say no because he was sent to the wrong city. Paul tried to say no because he had the wrong background. God kept saying, “Go, go. You go.” Sometimes it takes a while for God’s promises to be fulfilled. But if you’re not dead, that’s the clue you’re not done.

Open-Door People Have Fewer Regrets

The divine “go” comes into every life, but we must be willing to leave before we’re willing to go.

Into your life will come a divine “go,” but you live in Ur of the Chaldeans, and you’ll have to decide between comfort and calling.

God is doing something magnificent in this world. When a door is opened, count the costs, weigh the pros and cons, get wise counsel, look as far down the road as you can. But in your deepest heart, in its most secret place, have a tiny bias in the direction of yes. Cultivate a willingness to charge through open doors even if it’s not this particular door.

Open-Door People Learn about Themselves

When I go through open doors, I will often discover that my faith is really weaker than I thought it was before I went through. If I am to go through open doors, I will have to be humble enough to accept failure.

Open-Door People Are Not Paralyzed by Their Imperfection

Perhaps God will keep the door of opportunity open for us as we keep the door of our heart open to Him.

The hero of this story [baby born to Abraham & Sarah in old age] isn’t Abraham. It’s God.

It’s not the quality of our faith that saves us. It’s the object of our faith.

Perfectionism is the great enemy of spiritual growth. ~Ernest Kurtz

If all we did was make progress, we would become conceited, and conceit is the ultimate downfall of Christians. ~Macarius

God is able to do what we ask.
God is able to do what we ask and what we imagine.
God is able to do all we ask and imagine.
God is able to do more than all we ask and imagine.
God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
That’s God. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Biblically speaking, open doors are divine invitations to make our lives count, with God’s help, for the sake of others.

To journey for the sake of saving our own lives is little by little to cease to live in any sense that really matters, even to ourselves, because it is only by journeying for the world’s sake – even when the world bores and sickens and scares you half to death – that little by little we start to come alive. ~Frederick Buechner

Love Finds Doors That Ambition Never Could

We were made for “more”; not to have more out of love for self, but to do more out of love for God.

Actually Noticing People Leads to Doors

Doors open when I actually notice and care about people I might otherwise overlook.

When I look for God’s open doors, I begin to see even the mundane circumstances of my life as an opportunity to serve others.

Open Doors Lead to Relational Intimacy

Love opens doors.

Anytime you step through the open door, your story and Jesus’ story begin to get mixed together, and you become part of the work of God in this world.

The whole idea of God closing a door runs along the lines of “Don’t go there.”

… closed doors can be just as much a gift as open doors.

The doors God opens are like this: “unlimited chances to do something worthwhile; grand openings into new and unknown adventures of significant living; heretofore unimagined chances to do good, to make our lives count for eternity.”

God’s primary will for me is the person I become and not the circumstances I inhabit.

Do not despise the day of small things. For we do not know what is small in God’s eyes. Spiritual size is not measured in the same way that physical size is. What unit shall we use to measure love? And yet love is real, more real than anything else. When Jesus said that the widow gave more, it wasn’t just a pretty saying; it was a spiritually accurate measurement. We just don’t have that yardstick yet.

No project is so great it doesn’t need God. No project is so small that it doesn’t interest God.

Don’t try to do great things for God. Do small things with great love. ~Mother Teresa

I will never go through a “big” door if I do not humble myself to the task of discerning and entering all the small ones.

The apostle Paul says that God “chose us in [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight” (Ephesians 1:4). In other words, God’s basic will for your life is not what you do or where you live or whether you marry or how much you make; it’s who you become. God’s primary will for your life is that you become a person of excellent character, wholesome liveliness, and divine love. That’s what words like godly and holy (which too often become religious clichés) point to.

God knew I would grow more from having to make a decision than I would if I got a memo from heaven that would prevent me from growing.

When God calls people to go through open doors, what generally happens is life gets much harder. Abraham leaves home and faces uncertainty and danger. Moses has to confront Pharaoh and endure endless whining from his own people. Elijah runs away from a power-crazed queen. Esther has to risk her life to prevent genocide. The entire book of Nehemiah is arranged around resistance to Nehemiah’s work that is both external and internal.

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth “a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9 NRSV). Not just a door – a wide door.

Spiritual maturity is being able to face troubles without being troubled.

He [Jesus] did not say, “I’ll give you an easy life.” He said, “I’ll give you an easy yoke.” Taking on a rabbi’s yoke was a metaphor for taking on his way of life. Jesus said that taking his yoke – arranging our lives to be constantly receiving power and transforming grace from the Father – would lead to a new internal experience of peace and well-being with God. In other words, easy doesn’t come from outside. It comes from the inside. “Easy” doesn’t describe my problems. It describes the strength from beyond myself with which I can carry my problems.

Open doors are mostly small, quiet invitations to do something humble for God and with God in a surprising moment.
Open doors to serve.
Open doors to give.
Open doors to repent.
Open doors to be honest.

If you ever think your life is too small or your work too unglamorous to warrant door-opening attention from God, you might want to read about the Rechabites.

It’s not the task we do that makes us great in God’s eyes; it’s the attitude in which we do it.

Often an open door is as simple as a second thought: Do the right thing, no matter how small. Do what any decent human being would do in this situation. Honor a commitment when it would be easier to let it slide. Sometimes going through an open door means just not being a jerk. If the door is not marked “glamorous” just settle for “obedient.”

He says there s a “godly sorrow [that] brings repentance” and a “worldly sorrow [that] brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). The right kind of sorrow over a wrong decision always creates energy rather than despair. It enables us to learn from past mistakes and grow into great wisdom. Godly sorrow is filled with hope.

Worldly sorrow is energy depleting. In worldly sorrow we look at our wrong choices as though the world – rather than God – is our only hope. We live in self-pity and regret. We obsess over how much better our lives might have been had we chosen Door #1.

God has given to every human being the door to their own heart, and God Himself will not force His way in (Revelation 3:20).

That means no human being has ever faced the pain of rejection as much as God has. God is not just the one who opens doors; He is the one who stands knocking at closed doors.

The biggest difference between people who flourish in life and those who don’t is not money, health, talent, connections, or looks. It’s wisdom – the ability to make good decisions.

Don’t wait for passion to lead you somewhere you’re not. Start by bringing passion to the place where you are.

It turns out that choosing drains us. It takes energy.

This is why wise people never make important decisions in a wrong emotional state.

… decide on the basis of your faith and not on your fear.

Wisdom may well have you wait to make a big decision until you’re rested. An anxious mind and an exhausted body will lead to a terrible decision nine times out of ten.

The standard word for the condition of being truly problem-free is dead.

… His guidance was not so much about what He wanted to do through me as what He wanted to do in me.

In other words, often what matters most is not the decision I make but how I throw myself into executing it well. It’s better to go through the wrong door with your best self than the best door with your wrong self. Sometimes the way in which I go through the door matters more than which door I actually go through.

Having second thoughts about going through a door is not unusual. It’s not an automatic sign that I’ve made the wrong choice. It’s not even a good predictor of the future.

Jesus says, “I’m sending you out like sheep.” He doesn’t stop there. “I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Question: How does a sheep go among wolves? Answer: Very carefully. Very humbly. The sheep doesn’t go out and say, “Hey, wolves, I’m here to straighten you out! Hey, wolves, I’m going to get you to shape up!”  This assignment doesn’t sound very glamorous. But when you think about it, it takes some courage for a sheep to be sent to the wolves.  To be sent as a sheep means I don’t lead with how smart or strong or impressive I am. But it’s a funny thing. Doors get open to sheep that would never be opened to wolves.

If I go through the door with all my heart, I am vulnerable to disappointment and failure. I am vulnerable because I am not strong enough. The paradox of Jesus is that vulnerability is stronger then invulnerability.

Somebody said that what the world needs is not more geniuses but more genius makers, people who enhance and don’t diminish the gifts of those around them.

Jesus wants His followers to know that following Him is not a promise to be successful. It doesn’t mean we’re going to go out there and be covered with glory the way our world thinks of glory. Sheep are not heroic animals. Part of what Jesus is calling His friends to do is to die to the world’s standards of heroism, success, and glory.  “You’re going to have to die to that. There’s going to be resistance. There’s going to be a cost. It’s going to take a different kind of hero.

The church is always at its best when it goes into the world humbly, like a sheep among wolves.

Let us then be ashamed, who do the contrary, who set like wolves upon our enemies. For so long as we are sheep, we conquer. … But if we become wolves, we are worsted, for the help of our Shepherd departs from us: for He feeds not wolves, but sheep.  ~John Chrysostom

Don’t strive to advance yourself. Let God advance uou. Serve others.

Jesus wanted people who were not just devoted to Him “spiritually” but who were awake and willing to face up to reality and actually thought about strategy and tactics and being effective. They would take failure seriously and try to learn from it and seek to get better. They would roll up their sleeves.

Jesus wants to put His movement into the hands of people who are as realistic and serious about actually prevailing, actually being effective (with God’s help, which is the only way it happens) – to try it, to evaluate it, to learn, to be wise – as serpents were thought to be in that day. Be as crafty and clever and smart and shrewd as you can. That may not look impressive – I’m not sure all the disciples were as strategically brilliant as Paul. But God doesn’t ask me to be Paul. He’s already got Paul. He just asks me to be as “wise as serpents” as I can be.

“Be … as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Doves are for the bird world of what sheep are for the animal world. They are thought of as quite innocent creatures. The main thing Jesus sends into the world is not what we do; it’s who we are.

May your expectations all be frustrated,
May all of your plans be thwarted,
May all of your desires be withered into nothingness,
That you may experience the powerlessness and
Poverty of a child and can sing and dance in the love
Of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  ~Brennan Manning was offered this blessing when he was ordained

Here’s one of the dangerous things about money: having money makes it easier for us to think we can run away from God, because we’ve got options. Sometimes it’s hard for a prophet and a profit to coexist.

One of the numerous ways that Jonah is unique among prophets is this: his lack of empathy. Every other prophet not only pleads with people on behalf of God, they plead with God on behalf of the people.

Lack of love makes it easy for me to say no to the door.

God doesn’t look at categories the way I do and think. People in this category, they’re my kind of people. I like these kinds of people. But people in that category over there, I can let go of them without much pain. People matter to God. Depressed people. Educated people. Divorced people. People with different politics from yours. They mater to God. Conservative people and liberal people. Muslims. Atheists. New Age people. Every color of skin. Asian people. Hispanic people. Caucasian people. African American people. Gay people. Old people. People matter to God. Every one of them.

Many doors that look large to us are small to God, and many doors that look small to us are very large to Him. This is part of the great inversion of the Kingdom: the first will be last, the greatest will be the servant, the lowest will be exalted.

Think of something big. A mountain? A tree? Get a mental picture of something you call big. Now, consider that it is made up of tiny, tiny atoms. Atoms are made up of even tinier neutrons and protons. Neutrons and protons are made up of elements so small that they can’t be seen with the strongest microscope.
No such thing as big. Everything we call “big” is just a whole lot of “small.”
Small upon small upon small, finally equals big. There is no “big” without lots and lots of small.
Nature as God created it, is the image of the invisible Kingdom of Heaven. … In Kingdom living, small matters. Small is the key to big.  ~Jennifer Dean

In God’s Kingdom, small is the new big. In God’s Kingdom, the way up is down, and the way to living is dying. Mother Teresa used to advise people not to try to do great things for God, but to do small things with great love.

You and I do not know which doors God will open so that our little lives can have an impact beyond ourselves. We do not know up to the moment of our death – or even beyond – who might be affected by our actions. So we are called to never despair, no matter how small our lives look or how many doors that we desperately wanted to go through appear to have closed. We are invited to live as though God is opening doors that mean that our smallest acts of goodness will somehow, through God’s grace, count for all eternity.

There’s an old saying for travelers. A car’s headlights only shine for fifteen feet, but that fifteen feet will get you all the way home. God knows just how much clarity will be good for us – not too much, and not too little. We don’t follow clarity. We follow God.

“Look ! I [Christ] don’t give you opened doors without supplying you with the courage and the strength and the power to go through them. When you have used up your little strength, draw on mine. So stop worrying about your ability. Stop making weakness an excuse for drawing back and turning away from this opportunity. Remember, it is the weak who can become strong. Remember that my strength is made perfect in your weakness!”

I have seen flowers come in stony places;
And kindness done by men with ugly faces;
And the gold cup won by the worst horse at the races;
So I trust, too.  ~John Masefield

From the mint two bright, new pennies came,
The value and beauty of both the same;
One slipped from the hand and fell to the ground,
Then rolled out of sight and could not be found.

The other was passed by many a hand,
Through many a change in many a land;
For temple dues paid, now used in the mart,
Now bestowed on the poor by a pitying heart.
At length it so happened, as years went round,
That the long lost, unused coin was found.
Filthy and black, its inscription destroyed,
Through rusting peacefully unemployed.

Whilst the well-worked coin was bright and clear
Through active service year after year;
For the brightest are those who live for duty –

Rust, more than rubbing, will tarnish beauty.

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The Family

The Family
Braves Game 2012