October 2019 Devotionals

October 28, 2019

 

"Stop Talking and Find Out the Truth"?
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Handford

 

Walter Lippmann was (for those of you who were born after 1960, so you never heard of him!) a prolific journalist and philosopher, adviser to presidents, founder of the New Republic Magazine. He was born in a Jewish home in 1889, educated at Harvard, and died in 1974, deeply respected for his integrity and commitment to truth.

 

One of his major concerns was the influence that journalists and public speakers have on society. He thought that

 "people, including journalists, are more apt to believe ‘the pictures in their heads' than to come to judgment by critical thinking."

 

"Ordinary citizens can't judge public issues rationally" he thought, "since the speed and condensation required in the mass media tend to produce slogans rather than interpretations."


Yet a cryptoquote in this week's paper quotes him as saying,

 

Many a time I have wanted to stop talking
And find out what I really believed.

What would Lippman think of the incalculable impact of today's social media, where anyone can post anything about any situation without verifying the facts? It can be sent around the world in minutes, and many who read it will not search for facts, but simply take it as truth. One poor soul "proved" the earth was flat by taking a carpenter's level on a plane flight. He posted a picture on FaceBook as proof. He knew absolutely nothing of aerodynamics or physics, but some gullible people accepted his "proof" and decided the world really is flat.

 

An email may have the same sense of urgency. It seems to be expected that any receiver of an email ought to respond within a few hours, regardless of how important the issue is. Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, "Any decision, no matter how important, can be decided in twnety minutes." But that allows no time for the gathering of facts, the testing of the information, thinking how it will affect the oucome. The expectation of an immediate answer seems to lessen our ability to handle an email wisely.
Phone texting seems to put even greater pressure on quick answers. But does the one who texts always have the right to an immediate answer? Shouldn't the receiver be given time to think a matter through?


The Apostle Paul wrote,
Test everything that is said.
Hold onto what is good.
(1 Thessalonians 5:21)

 

 

The Bible tells us that the Christians in Berea "were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth." (Acts 17:11).


Since I tend to talk a lot and express my opinions strongly (as you have noticed!), I may need to "stop talking" and collect the facts before making a stupid statement. Maybe you will find it wise to do so, too!

 


 

 
October 21, 2019

 

Mistakes Even Professionals Make
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Handford

 

The Cola Cola trademark is one of the most-widely known logos in the world. I saw CocaCola for sale in African villages so remote there was

 not even a road to reach them. Obviously Coke employs competent professionals. But in 1985, they celebrated their hundredth year by changing the Coke formula. It was a total disaster. Sales dropped 20%. One effect of that disaster is still visible. Original formula Cokes are labeled "Classic."

 

A recent newspaper article examined "Lethal Mistakes Veteran Police Officers Make." The errors of judgment made by seasoned and trained officers are ones you and I might make, no matter our job description, our years of experience, or our smarts.

 

First on the list: attitude. If I've come from a difficult conversation, I may carry my irritation into the next conversation, unless I stay alert. But a good attitude is essential if I am going to work well with others.Proverbs 27:19 says, "As in water face answers to face, so the heart of man to man."

 

"Fatal error" number two: tombstone courage. Sure, you need courage to do your job, but sometimes the most courageous thing you can do is to step back, reassess the situation, and not precipitate a show-down. Proverbs 24:6 says, "For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety."

 

A third: not enough rest. Fatigue dulls the senses. No matter the reason for our tiredness, our judgment will be affected. Enough rest should be a part of your job description. Psalm 127:2 says, "It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep." Your work will be much more effective when you've gotten enough rest.

 

Another pitfall: relaxing too soon. This might happen after we have completed an enormous task. We might be so grateful it was done, we forget to monitor the results. Yet there are always hazards ahead in every part of life. "Be vigilant," First Peter 5:8 warns, "because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith."


Another danger: Improper condition or wrong use of equipment, Was the officer's gun not loaded? Were handcuffs not put on properly? In the same way, do I struggle too long with obstacles I should take care of and so get them out of the way? Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, "If the ax is dull, And one does not sharpen the edge, Then he must use more strength; But wisdom brings success."

 

In all our self-examination, we need to remind ourselves of the wonderful resource God Himself has promised us: His strong help. We do not have to face life alone. God wants to help us. We do not need to fear our lack of wisdom or ability. God says,

Let not the wise man gloat in his wisdom, 
or the mighty man in his might, 
or the rich man in his riches.
Let them boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand
that I am the LORD who is just and righteous, whose love is unfailing, 
and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!
 Jer. 9:23,24

 

 
October 15, 2019

 

Zig Ziglar Says, "Yesterday Ended Last Night"
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Handford

 

Walt and I were in Florida attending a Christian Educator's Convention. The keynote speaker was some guy I'd never heard of, Zig Ziglar. I said to a friend, "I want to sit on the very first row so I can hear him well."

 

"Better not," the friend said. "You'd be sorry."

 

Oh, my! Was he right! I cowered in my seat on the second row when Ziglar swooped down to the first row, grabbed a young man by collar and tie and with one hand hoisted him up in the air so they were chin to chin. "Understand what I'm saying, young man?" he bellowed. The poor fellow could hardly speak for lack of breath and embarrassment, but he sure tried his best to express his absolute, emphatic, complete agreement with whatever it was Mr. Ziglar was saying!


By the time the convention was over, I found myself eager to put to use many of the principles I'd learned from Mr. Ziglar. He had a remarkable ability to state simply and clearly ideals and motivations to help me make good choices.
One of Ziglar's memorable statements is:

 

Remember that failure is an event,
not a person.
Yesterday ended last night.

 

Have I sometimes done a poor job of important tasks I needed to do well? Yes, and when I think of them, I blush with shame. Looking back, I could lose heart, seeing all my failures and disappointments. But to do that dooms me to more failures. Instead, I should remember, "Yesterday ended last night." With God's help, I can do what He wants me to do today.

 

But before I turn out the light on last night's failure, I should ask myself a couple of questions. What caused my failure? Lack of planning? An "I can do this all by myself" attitude? Was it something that doesn't fit in with my life goals? Were others hurt by my failure? If so, how can I make it right?

 

I'll try to answer those questions honestly. I'll ask my Heavenly Father for His forgiveness. And then, maybe, I'll imagine the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, the deepest place in the whole world, and thank God that's where He buried all my sins and failures. Micah 7:19 says, "You [God] will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." With that done, now I can say, "Yesterday ended last night."


This is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote, in Philippians 3:13 ,14:

 

No, dear friends, I am still not all I should be,
but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing:
Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God,
through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

 

Spending emotion and energy regretting past failures doesn't erase them; it just shackles us so we can't focus on today and its noble and good challenges. Failure is an event. Failure is not who you are. It is something that happened yesterday. But yesterday ended last night. Today you can face the task God has set before you, and do it well, as you depend on Him for strength and wisdom.

 


My Country, Sweet Land of Liberty 10-7-19


My Country: Sweet Land of Liberty!
A Word of Thankfulness by Elizabeth Handford

 

A dear son-in-law and daughter planned a trip to Washington, D.C this week, for me and my three sisters-a formidible task, considering that my youngest sister is 82, and I, the oldest, am 92!

 

I expected DC to be full of self-important people who simply endure the people they serve. Instead, everywhere we went, we met courteous people who inconvenienced themselves to meet our needs.

 

On our tour of the White House, though we were screened weeks ahead of time, we were still meticulously screened by three different groups of secret service men, armed and alert, but unexpectedly kind. When we came to a formidable stairway, the two of us in wheel chairs were whisked by agents through numerous rooms, including the kitchen, to an elevator to meet our party upstairs. Five hours later we saw on television the President of the United States walk through the very door of the East Room we'd walked through that morning.

 

The exhibits at the Museum of the Bible were awesome, but the staff people were even more so. My sister Joanna discovered she'd lost a hearing aid somewhere in the six-story building. Long after we'd given up looking for it, a staff member found it and traced our party throughout the building to return it to her-a miracle it was found, but a greater miracle that a staff member cared enough to seek us out among the hundreds of visitors in the building.

 

Our Uber experience was fantastic: some were drivers from three continents, some DC natives, but all of them had a passion for the city. They couldn't help but point out their favorites of the monuments as we cruised by. Second miracle of the trip: a carry-on, with essential documents for travel, was left in the Uber vehicle at the airport, found by the driver who drove 20 miles back to deliver it in time for us to catch the plane. (How we loved seeing God work on our behalf in such remarkable ways!)

 

A tour of the city in the evening left us in such a poignant, somber mood because of the terrible sacrifice of human lives made for our safety through bloody years. Somehow politics receded; the anger of opposing viewpoints dimmed; in those memorial places we could stand with bowed heads and hearts, and thank God for this dear country.

 

As a child, I sang with deep emotion, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." Today, back home, I want to sing, with deeper conviction than ever before, the third verse:


Our Father, God, to Thee, Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light.
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King!

 

Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD