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Setting Big Goals

By Don Loftis | 12.12.18

Recently, I ran across this quote: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”  What does that say to you?   In one sense, this is safe advice.  Disappointment can be defined as the gap between our expectation and our current experience.  If a team has no expectation of winning, they will not be disappointed in losing.  Paul told the Philippians that he had learned to be content in all situations — prosperity and adversity.  Does it really make any difference what we set our sights on?   However, this approach sets a very low ceiling of blessing.  It may avoid disappointment, but it also severely restricts joy and hope.  Jesus told His disciples that their faith could move mountains and “all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” [...]

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What Is Your Legacy?

By Don Loftis | 12.05.18

Since former President George H. W. Bush passed away, we have all heard a variety of stories and remembrances concerning him.  As I am writing this, his funeral is underway, and the various speakers are painting his legacy.  Statesmen and family will attempt to capture his impact professionally and personally.   The reality is that all of us are in the process of writing our own autobiographies.  Throughout our lives we take a series of selfies that are filed away to be recalled later by those we have met.  Sifted together, they become our legacy.  We only get one chance to write this story, and edits are very difficult to achieve.   Every life is unique, but people tend to remember two things about us.  First, they recall our character more than our success.  Things [...]

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The Missing King

By Don Loftis | 11.28.18

Michael O’Neill describes a painting by Adolph Menzel that is displayed in a Berlin art gallery.  Menzel intended the painting to depict the German king, Frederick, surrounded by his host of generals.  With painstaking care he painted all of the generals, leaving the perfect space to insert the king.  However, he died before he could complete the project.  As O’Neill said, “He left a painting–full of generals but no king.”   We all have those people in our lives who are a lot like generals.  It may be an overbearing boss or a demanding spouse.  It could be a creditor, a team member, or even a spiritual mentor.  They are always there with demands and seek immediate compliance.   Yet, for many folks, the problem is less about the presence of the generals as it [...]

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Veterans’ Day – Lessons Learned

By Don Loftis | 11.14.18

This past Sunday (and Monday) we observed the centennial celebration of Veteran’s Day.  Originally called Armistice Day, it represented the end of WW I.  Through the years, it has become the day we honor all men and women who have served in our military, while Memorial Day honors those who died in that service.  The patriotic songs and speeches from the day remind me of the three great truths.   First, we need to be continually thankful for the blessings secured by these soldiers.  For all the griping we hear, our daily freedoms transcend those of other societies.  The peace we experience today is another of those legacies.  We need to be both aware and thankful for the physical and spiritual blessings we enjoy.   Secondly, we recognize that anything of value has a cost.  [...]

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Why Do You Preach Like That?

By Don Loftis | 11.07.18

I like to think that most preachers seek to be balanced in their sermon selections.  Some lessons are topical others are textual; some biographical others doctrinal; some positive others negative.  Even with balance, sometimes we are asked, “Why do you preach against so many things?  Why not just talk about how to be happy and love one another?”  In some way, many listeners connect a sermon against sin as being unloving.   If a patient is sick, very sick, is the doctor unloving in telling the man that he has cancer?  Is the teacher unloving, when she informs parents that their child is failing math?  Is the engineer unloving, when he tells the city that a certain bridge is unsafe to cross and needs to be closed to prevent a disaster?   Sermons against sexual [...]

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Contentment Is Possible

By Don Loftis | 10.31.18

Contentment is a rare commodity in our American culture.  Professional advertisers spend millions of dollars to maximize our desires for things we don’t have — cars, clothes, bodies, cruises, food.  In addition, they seek to create guilt, if we are not giving our children every social, academic, recreational or spiritual opportunity.  How can a person be content, when their life is “missing so much?”   This conflict makes the reading of Philippians 4:11-13 even more difficult.  How could Paul be equally content in times of prosperity and adversity?  How could he face being full and hungry with the same assurance?   The answer was simple; he had learned to rely fully on the Lord’s power in all circumstances.   A group of former students visited a retired professor and poured out their career stresses and frustrations.  [...]

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Are We Really Peacemakers?

By Don Loftis | 10.17.18

We certainly live in a culture that is experiencing serious conflict and growing divisions.  One person described Americans as “cats in a room full of rocking chairs”.  We seem to be twitching our tales and hoping someone will rock on us, so we can squeal and scratch.  We see this in domestic disputes, formal divorces, dueling politicians, business competitors, and even ill-tempered preachers.   Yet, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”  The apostle Paul told Christians in Rome, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”   Historians have shown that President Ulysses Grant sought to facilitate genuine reconciliation between the North and the South after the Civil War.  Despite having led the northern armies, he became close friends [...]

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Moving Past Our Anger

By Don Loftis | 10.10.18

In 1969 Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published her classic work entitled Death and Dying.  In it she posed five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  While everyone’s grief is different and there is no defined timetable, these five components are typically present.   Anger is one of the most interesting and explosive.  It may be directed toward the medical staff, “If you all had acted faster…”  It might be toward the deceased, especially if they had ignored repeated warnings or chose to take their own life.  Anger toward God is not uncommon, “Why didn’t you spare my child?”  Feelings of guilt may even lead to anger directed at ourselves.   A lady whose husband had unexpectedly died was having a very difficult time with her grieving process.  Every day she took fresh flowers [...]

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Yield The Right Of Way

By Don Loftis | 09.26.18

We are familiar with the triangular-shaped road signs that state “YIELD” in all capital letters.  The message is for drivers to allow other approaching traffic to have the right of way and to go first.   Early September 1986, a Russian ocean liner with over 1200 people on board was moving through the Black Sea.  A freighter transporting oats was crossing the same water.  For 45 minutes the two captains were aware that they were on a collision course.  Despite some communications, neither captain ordered a change of course until it was too late.  The freighter broadsided the ocean liner leading to the sinking of the ship and the loss of 398 lives.  Both captains were arrested for their stubborn refusal to yield.   The same mentality leads husbands and wives to experience chronic conflict.  [...]

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Don’t Sell Other People’s Stuff

By Don Loftis | 09.19.18

Matthew and Maria Colonna-Emmanual discovered a rusted metal box in their shrubbery.  Thinking it was an old cable box, they simply opened it out of curiosity.  However, they discovered that it contained $52,000 in cash, as well as several pieces of jewelry.  Since the box contained the name of the original owner, they tracked them down and returned the lost box.  The original owners were quite thankful but equally amazed that the couple returned it.  When asked why they didn’t keep it, Maria quickly responded, “It wasn’t ours.”   There are at least two ways we can take and use what doesn’t belong to us.  Many people steal items and sell them to a pawn shop or list them on e-Bay.  The process may not even be as scandalous as breaking and entering a home.   [...]

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