Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 12:09 PM
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Memories are made at meals like that. Most of us can look back over years of memories made around the Thanksgiving Day table.
Meal time is memory making time and it isn't just big "special day" meals. It's every meal shared with one or more friends and loved ones. Traditions usually center around Thanksgiving, Christmas and other special days. But memories are also made from other meals because they all are special.
As struggling college students paying our own way, as often as possible a few of us would "pool our nickels and dimes," drive to a favorite Mexican restaurant and "feast" on refried beans and flour tortillas. Memories.
Every Sunday around the Lord's Table with brothers and sisters in Christ is special. Eating the Lord's Supper with hundreds of Christians just outside the garden tomb in Jerusalem made for lasting memories.
The Scriptures are filled with references to meals that produced memories.
Make the most of meals.
Events of the past provide resources for reflection and current decision making.
The turkey and dressing with friends and loved ones was great and is not to be forgotten. But when you eat that burger and fries with a dear friend you are also making memories that will last a life time. Treasure them.
Meals and memories are important. At least God thinks so!
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 9:40 AM
Friday, November 26, 2010Our neighbor across the street and a relative just came home from shopping with many, many bags. Going out in the wee hours of the morning after Thanksgiving to stand in long lines for a few bargains is not my "cup of tea." But some love it and I say, "More power to them."
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 8:53 AM
Wednesday, November 24, 2010The following is a prayer by William Barclay
For those who are an example to us, and those who in their lives show us what life ought to be;
For those who are an inspiration to us, and who fill us with the desire to make of life a noble thing;
For those who are a comfort to us when life has hurt us;
For those who are a strength to us, and in whose company we feel fit to tackle any task;
For those who, although we do not know them personally, have by their words or by their writings
influenced us for good;
For those whose love and care and service and understanding we so often take for granted;
For those who give us loyal friendship and for those who give us true love:
We this night thank you, O God.
And most of all we thank you for Jesus to be the pattern of our lives, the Companion of our way, and the Saviour of our souls.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 2:57 PM
Tuesday, November 23, 2010My little IPod is perfect for exercising at the health club.
It is loaded with music.
Looking around today while exercising I thought to myself, "I bet nobody here has the selection of music that I have.
While grunting and groaning I'm listening to Elvis,Celine Dion, Placido Domingo,Andre Rieu, Neil Diamond, Josh Groban, Lynda Rydell, Susan Boyle, Christmas music and much more. When the music gets going I get going!
The one thing that has me puzzled is this: There are women all over that gym. And yet in all these weeks of pumping iron, not one young woman---or old woman either for that matter has tried to hit on me.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 9:27 AM
Monday, November 22, 2010Words, words, words.
They come flying at us from all directions.
We're suffering from verbal bloatedness.
There is power in words.
Most often, words that build up are expressions of encouragement.
Words can bless or profane.
Those who show respect for others are sensitive about these things.
It is so easy to be careless with language. We need to watch what we say. Let's resolve to encourage, not discourage.
I'm so thankful for all the encouraging, uplifting words I have heard over the years. They didn't just make my day---they made my life!
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 9:19 AM
Saturday, November 20, 2010
This time of the year, close to Thanksgiving Day we tend to be more grateful. That's good.
We need to be thankful every day. And one thing we need to acknowledge is our dependence on others. As I look back over my life there are so many that I have depended on and am grateful for. How about you?
From the moment we come into this world until they unplug us from the machines and monitors in the intensive care unit, we depend on others.
How many things have you accomplished completely on your own?
One of our problems, it seems to me, is our sense of entitlement. We feel we deserve the blessings of life. And when things don't work out we feel cheated.
When we understand that all of life is a gift it changes our perspective.
Pause for just a moment and think of all the ways you are dependent on others.
So often I begin my prayers with confession and asking for forgiveness. What I need to do is to begin with a prayer of thanksgiving. When I do express gratitude things just keep coming to mind. It's hard to stop, but good.
Regardless of how bad things are there is always something and somebody to give thanks for.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 12:40 PM
Friday, November 19, 2010
A Journey Of Faith On The Streets Of America
By Mike Yankoski
OVERVIEW: Ever wonder what it would be like to live homeless? Mike Yankoski did more than just wonder. By his own choice, Mike's life went from upper-middle class plush to scum-of-the-earth repulsive overnight. With only a backpack, a sleeping bag, and a guitar. Mike and his traveling companion, Sam, set out to experience life on the streets of six different cities: Denver; Washington D.C.; Portland; San Francisco; Phoenix; and San Diego. For more than five months the pair experienced firsthand the extreme pains of hunger, the constant danger of living on the streets, exhaustion, depression, and social rejection--all by their own choice. They wanted to find out if their faith was real, if they could actually be the Christians they said they were apart from the comforts they'd always known...to discover what it feels like to be homeless in America. Mike and Sam's story is gritty, challenging, and utterly captivating. What you encounter in these pages will radically alter how you see your world--and may even change your life. (Note: This updated and expanded edition contains added stories, an interview with the author, and a "five-years-after" bonus chapter.)
AUTHOR: Mike Yankoski and his wife, Danae, are graduate students at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada. Mike serves on the board of directors for World Vision U.S., and is a frequent speaker on a Christ-centered response to our world's great needs.
MY REVIEW: In his forward to this book, Francis Chan wrote: "I am a very skeptical person, and I struggle with cynicism. Like most people, I have heard so many lies that now I have a hard time trusting. I even struggle when reading a good book, because in the back of my mind I'm wondering if the person who wrote it is for real." As I approached Under The Overpass I felt the same way. But after reading the book and seeing all the sacrifices Mike and Sam made. I now believe they are for real.
During a ministry of forty-seven years I struggled with how to respond to people like the ones you will read about in this book. It's taken me a life time of living and adjusting to come to any kind of meaningful relationship with them. I continue to struggle with my mindset and how I regard them. But after reading this book I think I have a better understanding of how to live out in my life what Jesus taught on this subject.
Shane Claiborne said, "The Scriptures are filled with images of a God who is casting down the mighty and lifting up the lowly, of the last becoming first and first last. ...Here is a story of the downward mobility of the Kingdom. It is a story that dares you to move closer to the margins, to the suffering, to the pain...and to meet Jesus there--in His many disguises."
I recommend this book and close with the words of Ryan Dobson: "Under the Overpass is a captivating, terrifying, encouraging, motivating, saddening, amazing account of a young man who died to self with the assurance that God knows best. Rarely does a book move me this much. Mike Yankoski doesn't have a little liquid fire in his heart; he is consumed by it. Let his book ignite your heart and soul."
You may purchase this book at http://www.randomhouse.com/
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 9:27 AM
Thursday, November 18, 2010COSTLY GRACE
By Jon Walker
A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship
OVERVIEW: In 1937, on the threshold of Nazi Germany's war on the world, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote what turned out to be one of the most influential books of the century, The Cost of Discipleship. In it, he challenges the flabby faith and compromises of German Christians, famously writing, "When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die." Now seventy-three years after the book was published, Jon Walker brings to a new generation and a different social environment the timeless teachings of Jesus that stirred Bonhoeffer to address the "cheap grace" of his time. Grace is a foundational doctrine for Christians, yet one of the most misunderstood. In a fresh engagement with this Christian classic, Walker explains what Bonhoeffer meant when he taught that grace is free but will cost us everything. Focused around a study of the Sermon on the Mount, Costly Grace is an excellent resource for small groups and congregation-wide study.
AUTHOR: Jon Walker has worked closely with Rick Warren for many years, first as a writer, editor at Pastors.com, later as vice-president of communications at Purpose Driven Ministries, and then as a pastor at Saddleback Church. He's also served as editor-in-chief of LifeWay's HomeLife magazine and founding editor of Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox. His articles have appeared in publications and Web sites around the world.
MY REVIEW: I agree with Rick Warren who said: "I believe Costly Grace may be one of the most important books published during this time of economic uncertainty and world turmoil. It strips discipleship down to its essentials, where we discover again that, when we face uncertainty our only certainty is in Jesus." If you are looking for a book that you can feel comfortable reading--this is not it! When the mailman dropped this book into my mailbox I was deep into reading Eric Metaxas's excellent book, Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I am still reading it. It is a big book! I paused in my reading of it long enough to read Costly Grace and I am glad I did. Ron Walker gave me new insights into the heart and mind of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Twenty-five out of the twenty-eight chapters are titled: Becoming Like Jesus. We are encouraged to become like Jesus in obedience, suffering, righteousness, loyalty and many other ways. This is tough stuff. You will be made to think and challenged in every way possible. Mark Tabb said, "Costly Grace is an uncomfortable, but oh so necessary, read. Jon Walker not only brings Bonhoeffer's timeless message of costly grace into the twenty-first century, he awakens the soul's desire for intimacy with Christ that will change every single bit and piece of our lives." I recommend this book to every person serious about being a Christian.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 7:57 AM
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Ah yes, that lucky ol' sun. Well, I'm a lot like that lucky ol' sun right now. I've worked like the devil for many years. Now, I can just roll around beautiful Arizona all day, every day if that's what I want to do.
You see, the key to all this is being able to do whatever you want to do---and really wanting to do it!
Let me emphasize---really wanting to do it!
This morning, like yesterday morning I rolled out of bed a little after six. I made myself a delicious breakfast smoothie, Charlotte made a pot of coffee. I read the newspaper and then sat down in front of a warm fire to watch the news. In a few minutes, just like yesterday morning we will head out to our health club. They says it's our health club though I have yet to see any income statements or deposits to our bank account.
On the way to the health club I will remark to Charlotte about what a beautiful day it is. And then I will describe the scene as if she were blind and had never seen it before. The beautiful sky with it's billowy white clouds, the tall palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze, the purple mountains.
While I'm riding my two to three miles on the stationary bike I will be quietly thanking God for many, many, many things. Being grateful is not for just one day of the year you know.
Doing what you want to do--AND REALLY WANTING TO DO IT! BE THANKFUL!
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 9:25 AM
Monday, November 15, 2010
PAY ATTENTION: EVERY BUSH IS BURNING is the title of chapter one in Leonard Sweet's excellent book, NUDGE.
And that is all I want to say today --- PAY ATTENTION: EVERY BUSH IS BURNING.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 8:59 AM
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Why in the world would a forgotten drunk carry around a line of lyrics? Maybe he still believed he had it in him. Maybe that derelict with the body of a bum still had the heart of a genius. For once upon a time, long before his tragic death at age thirty-eight, he had written the songs that literally made the whole world sing, like: "Camptown Races," "Oh! Susanna!," "Beautiful Dreamer," "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair," "Old Folks at Home," "My Old Kentucky Home" and two hundred more that have become deeply rooted in our rich American heritage. Thanks to Stephen Foster, whom nobody knew. And for whom nobody cared.
Makes me think of a few lines out of and old poem preacher's once quoted:
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 1:49 PM
Friday, November 12, 2010WE ARE OFF TO FOUNTAIN HILLS TO THE FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND CRAFTS.
The Fountain Festival of Arts & Crafts features nearly 500 artists, artisans and gourmet food provisioners. Over 200,000 visitors are attracted to this event to do their holiday shopping, purchase art and enjoy good food and live entertainment.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 9:22 AM
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I was a preacher for forty-seven years. I would never have become an effective preacher if not for all the people who took an interest in me and treated me with respect. I will always be grateful for all the elderly women who encouraged me and prayed for me. Men encouraged me too but for some reason elderly women were always there cheering me on.
"Some people are born into environments where there is no respect, and often their behavior and personality reflect the void. But sometimes it only takes one person giving them respect to change everything."
I love these words from Stephen R. Covey: "Leadership is communicating people's worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves."
R E S P E C T! It's such a simple little word but packed with power for good.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 9:35 AM
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
When we lived in Northern California every year about this time we would go out and cut wood for the fireplace or buy it and have someone else cut it, haul it in and stack it by the house.
It was more fun to go out with the guys and cut our own. We weren't great wood cutters and we did more fooling around than working but it was a lot of fun. One day a year I felt like a stud instead of a little preacher.
Our first few years in Arizona we bought wood.
And then wood became very expensive. The people in charge of air quality discouraged burning wood. And I just became plain discouraged. But I wanted to keep the home fires burning.
They will be delivering our propane today or tomorrow.
I love to get up in the morning and turn the fireplace on to knock the chill off.
I love to sit by the fireplace in the evening just talking to Charlotte, watching television or reading a book. For some reason I especially like to have a fire in the fireplace at Thanksgiving time and Christmas---IF its not hot as blazes outside.
It's very cool this morning. I wish he would get here with that propane.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 9:14 AM
Tuesday, November 09, 2010ONE HEARTBEAT AWAY
By Mark Cahill
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 8:29 AM
Monday, November 08, 2010
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 10:16 AM
Friday, November 05, 2010
The dialogue that Friday morning was bitter. From the onlookers, "Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God!"
From the religious leaders, "He saved others but he can't save himself."
From the soldiers, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."
Bitter words. Acidic with sarcasm. Hateful. Irreverent. Wasn't it enough that he was being crucified? Wasn't it enough that he was being shamed as a criminal? Were the nails insufficient? Was the crown of thorns too soft? Had the flogging been too short?
For some, apparently so.
The words thrown that day were meant to wound. And there is nothing more painful than words meant to hurt.
But I'm not telling you anything new. No doubt you've had your share of words that wound. You've felt the sting of a well-aimed gibe. Maybe you're still feeling it. Someone you love or respect slams you to the floor with a slur or slip of the tongue. Or maybe your wound is old. Though the arrow was extracted long ago, the arrowhead is still lodged...hidden under your skin.
If you have suffered or are suffering because of someone else's words, you'll be glad to know that there is a balm for this laceration. Meditate on these words from l Peter 2:23.
himself to him who judges justly.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 7:41 PM
We also need an automatic watering system here in the sunny, rainless, desert.
For over twenty years I have sat around reading, watching television and not crawling around on the ground "playing" in mud. I have been a happy old man.
While I was sitting around doing little or nothing, my little olive tree grew bigger and bigger and spread out big roots. The pvc pipe that used to run by a little tree is now buried under a huge tree.
And yes it did spring a leak. And no I cannot get to it to repair it. And I do hate laying on the ground and crawling around on rocks.
Call a professional? Not yet!
I'm cutting that pipe and capping it off!
You remind me there will not be any water running through that line. True!
Who cares. We live in the desert. Let those two or three plants tough it out like the rest of us.
If their Master can get away from reading and watching television he may take mercy on them and "shoot" them a few drops of water by hand. Hey, he's been going to the gym. He's capable of a few physical acts. Not many. But a few!
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 9:54 AM
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Michael Hyatt, CEO at Thomas Nelson Publishing has an excellent blog. Today he has a guest post by Daniel Offer. It is longer than most of my posts but it is worth your time and I hope you will read it.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
“Why do you suppose that is?” Rohn challenges his audience. “Doesn’t that make you curious? How come every house over $500,000 has got a library? Does that tell you something? Does that educate you at all?”
There is no doubt that Rohn is right; successful people do read more. Leaders, in particular, seem to read more than almost anyone else. After all, curiosity is often cited as a common characteristic of great leaders. Lincoln was famous for reading both the Bible and Shakespeare; Franklin Roosevelt loved Kipling. “Every great leader I’ve ever met has been a great reader,” says Rohn.
For most of us, books were where it all began.
Usually a person finds they were infected with a love of books at an early age, usually by a fellow carrier of the disease, more often than not a parent or teacher. That wonderful ability of a great book to transport our minds to new and unexplored places can have a tremendous impact on us. For the truly fortunate, a love of reading can easily lead to a love of learning—a gift that will well serve both leaders and those who simply aspire to leadership.
Too often, however, leaders allow themselves to get out of the reading habit. When it comes to learning, the brain can be likened to a muscle, and so like a muscle, it has to be regularly exercised. As we get older it will be increasingly important for us to continue exercising our brains, and there is nothing that compares to reading for keeping the brain in top shape. Additionally, as we progress through the leadership ranks within our organizations, we will need the increased knowledge and skills that only reading can provide.
The challenge to continue to grow and learn is one that each person must accept for themselves. Personal development is just that—personal. What works for one person may not work for someone else, and success may mean continually trying different strategies. But regardless of how we learn, reading will still be the primary method, and books will still be the primary tool. The key is to get yourself back to the books and you may find that you need some help getting back into the habit.
Here are three strategies:
- Read more than one book at a time. If everything we should be reading had the same plot and pace as an episode of The Bourne Trilogy then learning about search engine optimization or social marketing would make reading to learn an easier sell. To truly grow we will need to learn dive into subjects that can often be as dry as a west Texas summer, and we will need to learn to stay with them until the very end. Continue with the goal of reading so many chapters or “x” number of pages in mind, but if you find your mind wandering before reaching your reading goal for the night, try dropping one book and picking up another. Continue reading to your goal, but allow your mind more choice in the subject of the moment. If you find the new material interesting, keep working through it, but if not drop that book too and either go back to your original book or try out a third title.
- Try reading in more than one place. On a similar theme to reading more than one book at a time, have books set aside to read when you are at a different locations. A book stored in your briefcase, backpack, or carrying case can insure you are always able to take advantage of down time in your schedule. A doctor who is running late can add a chapter to your reservoir of knowledge. Similarly, a book stashed in your desk at work can be a great way to recharge your batteries. Consider reading for ten or fifteen minutes at least once during your work day. You may find that not only do you reach your goal of using reading to learn, you are also more excited about the work you were doing prior to your brain break.
- Make use of the latest technologies. By now everyone is aware of the benefits of using an e-Book reader similar to Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s iPad. These technologies make carrying a number of books with you at all times much more convenient, and anything that makes reading easier is always a good idea. Books on tape were a wonderful invention, allowing what Zig Ziglar called Automobile University. Today books can be recorded as MP3 files, greatly reducing the size of the files and allowing you to keep a number of audio books on your iPod at any one time. Your phone can be another great place to keep an audio book, and you can be sure you will usually have it, and so them, with you most of the time.
Reading can be the key to all knowledge, and having the discipline to regularly read a number of books on a wide range of subjects can be the key to success.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 9:28 AM
Wednesday, November 03, 2010EVERYTHING CHRISTMAS
By David Bordon and Tom Winters
OVERVIEW: Everything Christmas brings all of the best ideas for the holiday season together in one volume. In this book, you'll find your favorite classic Christmas stories and a few new ones destined to join them. You'll discover the most delectable holiday recipes, enjoy the words to treasured hymns and carols, and be encouraged by inspirational Christmas poems and the joy of the Nativity.
Organized by the days of Advent, Everything Christmas includes everything you need to make the holiday bright. From decoration ideas to Christmas trivia and humor---it's all here!
AUTHORS: David Bordon and Tom Winters are partners in Bordon-Winters LLC. a book concept and packaging company that produces successful books and gift products. Their previous titles include the l0l Things You Should Do series, especially the popular 101 Things You Should Do Before Going to Heaven.
MY REVIEW: Generally speaking, I do not enjoy books that are all about Christmas. Not because I do not like Christmas, because I do. It is one of my favorite times of the year. I love Christmas! But most of the time I do not think that books about Christmas are well done. Everything Christmas is different. I like it. I like it very much! This book is going to help me celebrate the joy of the Advent season with the best of Christmas past and present. Everything Christmas includes heartwarming stories, treasured carols and poems, delicious holiday recipes (Although I'm not sure about the roasted goose), Christmas memories and remembrances, great gift-giving ideas. I especially like how the opening thought for each day of the Christmas season begins. Here is an example from December 1 by Grace Noll Crowell:
I recommend this book as the perfect accompaniment for the most wonderful time of the year.
(You may purchase Everything Christmas at RandomHouse.com)
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 8:11 AM
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Dr. Wayne Grudem is an elder at Scottsdale Bible Church where Charlotte and I attend and a professor at Phoenix Seminary. He has written a much needed article, Biblical And Ethical Issues That Have Bearing On This Election. This excellent statement has been signed by seventy Christian leaders and many others.
If you haven't voted yet and are seeking guidance from the Bible, you need to read this statement and then educate yourself on what the candidates believe.
You may read it here: http://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Mar/2/biblical-and-ethical-issues-have-bearing-election/
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 10:04 AM
Monday, November 01, 2010
My job for this post is recommending a movie---Secretariat.
I loved this movie. However, other viewers did---and didn't. As is always the case.
You'll have to see it and make up your own mind. But please do see it. I think you'll like it.
The movie is about an incredible moment in sports history, the winning of the Triple Crown in l973.
There are Christian elements sprinkled throughout.
Maybe I liked the movie because my parents were from Kentucky. I visited there as a young boy and then once later as an adult. When I went there as a boy I expected to see grass the color of blue. And when I didn't I wanted to know why. I was disappointed. When I returned as an adult and walked around historic Churchill Downs I smiled as I recalled my youthful ignorance.
The movie has in it a song I love: "Oh Happy Day, When Jesus washed my sins away..."
I wonder if that has anything to do with how much I like this movie?
I recommend you go see it. I think you will like it, even if you don't like horses, Kentucky--or me.
Posted by Clifton Ditmore at 1:22 PM