America, an Exceptional Nation

By Roy W Harris

If asked what one thing crosses all walks of life and is essential to the success of every endeavor, what one thing would you choose? Some might choose the great inventions of mankind such as the wheel, electricity, the computer etc. Others might choose philosophy and the compiled knowledge and wisdom of mankind gained over thousands of years. Still others might choose great strides gained through medical discovery and the remedy of certain diseases, which plagued mankind since his beginning. All of the above are important and all have one thing in common. That one thing? They are successful because they were built on strong foundations. Foundations are crucial in every walk of life.

The term American Exceptionalism is not new, but in recent days has become the topic of renewed discussion and debate. Ian Tyrrell in his blog defines American Exceptionalism as the special character of the United States as a uniquely free nation based upon democratic ideals and personal liberty. Is America really an exceptional nation? I believe she is. 

Why is America an exceptional nation? 

There are many reasons we could allude to, but all flow from one tremendously important one, America’s foundation. America’s solid foundation consists of three great pillars upon which America was conceived, constructed, and continues to this day.

The first pillar of America’s foundation is the Declaration of Independence, adopted in Congress on July 4, 1776.

Declaration of Independence  When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be selfevident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Our founding fathers believed that God endows all men equally with specific rights. The belief in these rights guided our founding fathers in the creation of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of United States, and the Bill of Rights. 

The Declaration of Independence spells out three God-given rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Another way of saying this is every man should be able to live, be free to live as he chooses, and pursue avenues that he believes will bring him happiness. America is exceptional because it offers every man and woman an opportunity to pursue his or her hopes and dreams. They are not limited because of who their parents are or where they were born.

The second great pillar of America’s foundation is the United States Constitution. 

Preamble to the Constitution

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, Establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America

The third great pillar of America’s foundation is the Bill of Rights.

The ability to amend the Constitution is found in Article 5. It provides a means to change the document as the governed saw the need. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are affectionately known as the Bill of Rights. These 10 amendments provide safeguards for our individual freedoms, which make this nation different from any other on the face of the earth now and in all of recorded history.

Bill of Rights

First Amendment – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Second Amendment – A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Third Amendment – No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner; nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Fourth Amendment – The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment – No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

Sixth Amendment – In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed; which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Seventh Amendment – In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of common law.

Eighth Amendment – Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Ninth Amendment – The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

But one thing is for sure… Is America an exceptional nation? You bet she is. America may not be perfect, none of us are. One thing is for sure, we should be thankful to live in America where we are afforded life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness guaranteed in writing.

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Grieving

Grieving With Hope

BY DR. ROY W. HARRIS, PH.D.

Grieving

Life was good. The kids were grown and the empty nest was even better than we’d imagined. Then came my wife’s terminal illness followed by her treatments, our times of hope, our setbacks then ultimately the death of my best friend. After thirty-three years of happy marriage, two children and three grandchildren, how could it come to this?

Isn’t it amazing how our lives can be forever changed in a moment? It may arrive like a slow moving shadow or suddenlylike a streak of lightening in the night sky. However it appears, it always brings emptiness and emotional pain. We pray believing that God has the power to heal. God may choose not to heal and our loved ones die. We hurt deep within. Sometimes we become angry. We do not understand why this has happened to us and our loved ones. Then the grief begins. Grieving is not an enjoyable experience, but one that is needed and healthy. 

Grieving is OK

One of the most important things to remember when we lose a loved one is that it’s OK to grieve. As a matter of fact it is more than OK, it is normal and healthy. Some make the mistake of not admitting their pain and hurt and carry the deep wound much longer than God wants us to. That’s a big mistake. There’s no set way one should grieve or time frame of how long. But there is a timeline for grief.

Grief has a beginning and there is an end out there somewhere. Does that mean we should forget those loved ones? Absolutely not! Does it mean we should get over losing them? Not necessarily. It does mean that we have to go on living. We may never completely get over the death of a loved one but we can and must learn to live with it. Understanding that there are periods of grief we pass through and recognizing where you might be in the grieving process.

• Initial shock when you lose a loved one is the first period of grief. This could last from a few minutes after your loved one dies, it may last several hours and it could last for days. There are several emotions you might feel. One is false guilt. Another is false blame, blaming other family members, medical personnel and even God himself for not doing more to help or save your loved one.

• The second period of grief begins with our lives becoming disorganized. This could last for several weeks or months. This is the time when your lifestyle is forced to change. Hasty decisions and rash statements of what you will or won’t do should be avoided. Too many people make the mistake of sacrificing future happiness on an unneeded sense of loyalty to the past. Our loved ones wouldn’t want us to remain unhappy and grieve for them the rest of our lives. Reminders of the past have a way of surfacing and there may be some confessing to God and others because of actions and words spoken in shock or anger.

• The third period of grief begins with a conscious decision to reorganize our lives and move on. I remember clearly about nine months after my wife’s passing, on our anniversary I laid two dozen roses on her grave. I didn’t hear an audible voice but God spoke to my heart as I wept at her graveside. He reminded me that just as he had a plan for my wife’s life he also had one for mine. He had more work for me to do and it was time for me to move forward with his will for my life. I walked away from her grave that day leaving some of the pain and sorrow with a change of heart.

There is Help!

The word of God is a tremendous comfort. Deuteronomy 31:9 reminds us that God is with us at all times. We do not have to bear the burden of grief alone according to Psalm 23:4. According to Psalm 68:19, God feels our pain and bears our sorrow. We should also look to our church family for strength and encouragement. When friends offer help or invite us to be part of their lives, we should see this as one way God is seeking to begin filling an empty void in our own lives. Learn to say yes and thank you.

There is Hope!

Hope begins with recognition of where we are with our grief. We must grieve and others cannot tell us how we should do it or how long our grief should last. One thing’s for sure. Our grief must be a means to an end. Our goal should be to allow God to help us put the pieces back together and move forward with our lives. We must ask the Lord to help us and give us the wisdom and strength to press on.

We should take positive steps to move forward. We shouldn’t preserve our homes as monuments to our deceased loved ones. Consider cleaning out closets, rearranging rooms and donating clothes to Goodwill or passing them along to others who will get use and enjoyment from them. You may want to consider downsizing and moving to a home with less upkeep and maintenance.

It’s time to reorganize.

A Final Word

If you’re in the midst of grieving, I have great news. THERE IS HOPE. I’m a few years removed from the loss of my wife. God’s gentle hand has led me forward. He led a fine Christian lady into my life and the sunshine of happiness has returned. I am a living testimony of the fact that you not only can live through this, but you can live beyond it. God’s plan for you is certain and his will is perfect. There is a great life waiting for you just beyond your grief.

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Roy Harris

Gratitude

By ROY W. HARRIS, PH.D.Roy Harris

Is your cup of life half empty or half full? 

I’m reminded of an old Church Hymn written by Johnson Oatman Jr. which was first published in 1897 titled Count Your Blessings. The hymn’s chorus describes a great way to look at life:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

A great way to fill up the mind’s eye cup of life is to identify and express gratitude for the many blessings which have come our way.

What is Gratitude?

In a nutshell, gratitude occurs when we reflect on the good things we’ve been blessed with, are thankful for them and show appreciation to those who are responsible for bringing forth those blessings.

Why is Gratitude important?

We human beings tend to look at life with tunnel vision. We focus on the issues and situations in our lives that are most pressing. Isn’t it amazing how one situation or problem can dominate our lives, capture our thoughts and sometimes even harm our relationships? Reflecting, therefore, on the blessings in our lives, brings front and center all that is good and right in our lives. Reflecting on those good things can stir feelings of thankfulness and gratitude.

Reflecting on our blessings and being grateful for them helps lift our spirits and can overshadow those tough problems we may be facing.

Gratitude is also important because of what it does for others. Just as we are impacted by the love and generosity of others, others are impacted by our gratefulness or lack thereof. Recognizing those who are responsible for the good things in our life is the first step towards being thankful and expressing gratitude. Although some people do not like public recognition, most people like to know that what they do for others is appreciated.

What are some things to be Grateful for?

One great way to identify things which should demand our gratitude is simply to write them down or to carve out a time of day, each day, to reflect on the good things we have been blessed with.

What are some of those things?

Each person’s list will probably be a little different but there are some basic things we should be thankful for and express our gratitude.

• Health – if we are blessed with good health we should certainly not take that for granted and be grateful.

• Family – if we are blessed with family who love us and makes us feel loved and afford us a sense of belonging, we should be grateful.

• Friends – there are some friends who are even closer than family members. God created us with a sense of community and we need that interaction. If we have close friends, we are blessed and should be grateful.

• Basic Needs – if we have food to eat, a roof over our heads and clothing to cover our bodies we are truly blessed. Much of the people of third world countries do not have these basic necessities and we should be grateful.

• Living in America – living in this country with its guaranteed freedoms and opportunities to better ourselves is a great blessing and we should always be grateful.

• And Etc. – why have a category like this? Because there are a mulititude of things and people to be thankful for, and upon reflection you will find that your list may go on and on for pages. And with each item, your cup will become fuller.

How full is your cup?

Do you want your life cup to be half empty or half full? That decision is up to all of us individually. Why not consider doing what one verse in the above mentioned Count Your Blessings hymn suggests?

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Gratitude is an acknowledgement of all that we have been given and is the quality of being thankful and showing our appreciation. Focusing on the wonderful abundance in our lives will make the difficult days more bearable, the good days more joyful and engender a greater sense of generosity, cheerfulness and contentment in our lives.

Your life cup will become full and overflowing and your joy and happiness may not only impact you, but also the lives of many others.

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Roy Harris

Keeping IT Together

By ROY HARRISroy-harris

Have you ever found yourself torn between family responsibilities and a job?

Have you heard it said that if you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the room and then you seem to end up being that person?

Have you gotten a little irritable and maybe lost your patience or temper when others failed to act or perform the way you felt they should; only later realizing that you misread the situation or overreacted because of the stress you were under? Unfortunately, this happens to some of the nicest people. Personal needs, family life, and job responsibilities… how in the world can we keep it all together?

I’ve been in some form of management or leadership role, with all the pressures that go with it, most of my adult life. I’m certainly no expert and each person’s situation is unique, but there are some basic principles which seem to help and hold true in most situations.

Priorities

If we are to keep IT together, then we should remember what IT is. IT is our lives as a whole. Our lives are made up of a combination of relationships and each one requires a certain amount of our time, talent and even treasure.

How we manage these relationships directly impacts our health and happiness. I once heard a man make a redundant statement which really is true: “Always keep the main thing the main thing.” Keeping the main thing the main thing requires a balancing act of sorts and requires making choices. How do we make good choices? By deciding what is most important to us.

Our personal lives could be divided into two areas; our private and public lives. If we are going to keep it all together we must find a way to balance these two.

Private Life

ReflectionsOur private lives bring fulfillment and happiness which can never come from anywhere else. This is a very important principle to remember. Our private lives are made up of three key relationships; our relationship with ourselves, our family and our maker. Happiness and contentment begins with being at peace with one’s self. Finding personal time on a regular basis to do something you enjoy must be done on purpose and usually doesn’t happen by accident. Good emotional and physical health directly impacts our other relationships. Sacrificing for others is noble, but failing to attend to one’s personal needs will eventually have a negative impact on both our private and public lives. Our family relationships must trump our public lives. Unhappiness at home will translate into less effectiveness outside the home.

Our families must know and believe that they are more important than anything in our public lives. They would much rather spend time with us than to have us spend money on them. Instead of talking about the things we bought for them as kids, my grown children mention far more often the times we took them fishing, bowling or to Chucky Cheese.

Public Life

Our public lives are made up of a number of key relationships also; our friends, our jobs, church family and others. More often than not, our public lives complicate our private lives. If we make our private lives a priority then it will help us better manage our public lives. If we are employed outside the home, there are certain demands which come with the job. We expect a certain amount of our time and talent to be devoted to the job. The Bible reminds us that we have a responsibility to take care of our family’s needs. Adam actually had the first human job of dressing & keeping the Garden of Eden. So work is an honorable thing, but we must be careful not to allow work to become the dominant thing. Molding children and growing with a mate are far more important than making money.

We are created with a built-in need for social interaction with others. Friends, church family, community involvement are all important. They fulfill a need to be with people, contribute to society and make a difference in the lives of others. Involvement with others outside the home, however, must be governed by what we realistically have time to do.

That is also another great principle to remember. It’s OK to say NO! No is sometimes the appropriate answer in some situations. One thing about it, you can never please all the people all the time so do what you feel in your heart is the best thing each time.

Practical Principles for Keeping IT Together

Planning for work and play should be focused through the lens of personal priorities. Our personal peace and contentment directly impacts other relationships.

Private life commitments should be considered first and take priority over our public life. Remember your children will be all grown up before you know it. Do NOW what you will wish you had done later.

The greatest thing you can do for your children is to love your spouse. Make time for and work hard on making that a high priority. The Scriptures remind us that one’s close relationship with our heavenly Father has a positive, direct impact on our personal peace and contentment.

The Bible has a great book called Proverbs written by a wise King named Solomon. It’s one of the most practical works on keeping IT all together that I’ve read. The book has 31 chapters and provides practical principles for private and public relationships. A great suggestion is to read one chapter each day using the day of the month as a guide and reading an extra chapter or two on the last day of the month, with months which have less than 31 days. You might be surprised how much practical wisdom you’ll find in just 31 short days.

Sometimes trying to keep IT all together seems impossible! However, if you do your best to keep the main thing the main thing, you will be amazed how the other things fall into place.

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Roy Harris

Something about MOMS

By ROY HARRISRoy Harris

Momisms – I know that is not really a word but we writers have been known to invent new words now and then when we need them. I think you will agree that moms provide us with many sayings that could uniquely come only from mothers.

Do you remember some of those momisms?

Things like: I’m doing this for your own good. Don’t put that in your mouth, you don’t know where it’s been. If you’re too sick to go to school, you’re too sick Roy age 10 with his motherRoy at age 10 with his mom, brother and a friendto play. What did I say the FIRST time? Get up from the front of that TV and go outside and play! If you don’t stop crying, I am going to give you something to cry about! Clean up your plate, there are starving children in Africa who would love to have those vegetables. Then there is always the classic, Always wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident.

William Ross Wallace said in a poem published in 1865 that the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.

There is no doubt that a mother’s impact on her children shapes the future world those children grow up in and become part of. There are many great men and women who have attested to the value and importance of their mothers. Probably the most well-known religious leader of our day, Dr. Billy Graham, said that only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.

What makes a good mom then? Good Question! Having never been one I’m sure I’m no expert, but I can say there are some good things our moms did for all of us.

PROVIDER – Moms began providing for us from the moment we began our existence in the womb. Her body went through a transformation that brought multiple risks to her own personal health. She ate for two and provided the nourishment that developed us into full grown babies. After we arrived, she spent the next eighteen plus years providing our physical and emotional needs. It was mom who made sure we had clean socks and underwear and that we didn’t leave home dressed like clowns.

PROTECTOR – Moms began protecting us before we were born and keeps on protecting us the rest of their lives. They made us wear our hats and gloves, boots and rain coats and told us when to get in out of the rain. When we got sick they smothered us with VICK’s salve, warmed our innards with chicken soup and stood guard by our beds until we were ready to report for duty, back to the schoolyard and playground. They warned us about the wrong kind of friends and sometimes stood toe to toe with the bully down the street.

PREPARER – Moms began preparing us to face the world early. They taught us lessons at home that helped us become successful in life. They taught us how to share. They taught us boundaries. They taught us good table manners. They were homework experts and homework enforcers. They taught us the art of matching clothes, combing our hair, brushing our teeth and putting on exactly the right kinds and amount of makeup. The basics of life were learned from the hands, eyes and words of moms.

PRAYER – Abraham Lincoln once said I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me and clung to me all my life. Praying mothers produce prayerful children (that quote, is one of mine). Mothers demonstrate unconditional love, compassion, generosity, inclusion, warmth and host of other attributes that also are present with our Heavenly Father. If you grow up in that kind of environment and hear your mother praying for you as a child, there is just something about a mother’s prayers that you can never completely get away from. Those prayers follow and speak to you the rest of your life.

We take one day a year to officially celebrate motherhood and appreciate our moms. We really should do it much more often. If your mother is still with us, don’t miss this great opportunity to show her that you love and appreciate her. Send a card, give her a call and take her out to eat. If your wife is the mother of your children, do something special for her and I don’t mean buy her a new mop.

Come to think of it there isn’t just Something About Moms, there are Several Things About Moms that are special and important.

Thanks Mom for: PROVIDING what I needed, PREPARING me to be successful, PROTECTING me from all the harm you could and PRAYING for me. Your prayers have followed and clung to me all the days of my life.

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Roy Harris

Out of Africa

By ROY HARRISRoy Harris - feature author Wilson Living Magazine

When you hear the word Africa, what comes to mind? No doubt things like lions, leopards, elephants and perhaps giraffes. Maybe the book by Karen von Blixen called Out of Africa which inspired the movie by the same name.

All of those things come to mind for me and so much more. I am honored and very blessed to have opportunities to speak in most of our states here in America and also a number of countries around the globe. I had the unique opportunity a couple of months ago to travel to East Africa to the country of Kenya. I was the keynote speaker at a pastors’ conference for 350 church leaders from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. What a wonderful experience it was and one I will never forget.

Roy’s wife, Amy, showing the locals an American “high five.”Roy’s wife, Amy, showing the locals an American “high five.”

My 24-hour flight from Nashville featured stops in Detroit, Amsterdam and finally arriving in Nairobi the capital of Kenya, the largest city in East Africa. A smaller plane then delivered me safely to the city of Eldoret, 200 miles northwest of the Ugandan border.

Roy and one of his fellow pastors.Roy and one of his fellow pastors.Not knowing what to expect, I exited the baggage claim area and walked into the main terminal. Three well-dressed tall African men greeted me with the traditional African greeting of three embraces each. Two elementary age girls, dressed in bright red dresses and hair filled with braids and beads, formally welcomed me to Kenya, presenting me with a small Kenyan flag and my Official Speaker’s Badge for the week. We loaded up and headed for my hotel. The headlights on our van illuminated the surrounding countryside and this Tennessee boy knew he was not in Tennessee anymore. This began a week I will never forget.

There is an eight-hour time difference between Tennessee and Kenya but I came to realize there is also U.S. Time & African Time in a different sense. Nine-oclock in the morning U.S. Time could mean 9:15, 9:30 or 9:45 African time. When I arrived for the first session of the conference, I also soon realized that running water and electricity were not the norm for most people attending this conference. Only one person owned a car and most had walked, rode bicycles or traveled up to two days by bus to get to the conference. The conference was held in a huge tent in a fenced field complete with sheep, goats and chickens moving freely outside the tent. A portable generator supplied power to operate the sound system.

Out of Africa - Wilson Living MagazineThe African people were a joy to be with. I was impressed immediately with their smiling faces and friendly dispositions. They were neatly dressed. The ladies wore bright colored clothing and many of the men wore coats and ties. Many of ladies made their multi-colored clothing for themselves and their children. I was also impressed with how gifted and talented they were. Most of them were tri-lingual speaking English, their individual Tribal languages and Swahili, the most common language of Africa. They played a variety of instruments and had beautiful voices. They loved to sing and incorporated native African dance into each song.

Out of Africa - Wilson Living MagazineThe Conference began on Monday morning and ended on Thursday afternoon with a presentation of certificates to those who had attended all four days.

My wife Amy and her mother Diane were able to join me earlier in the week and Friday began a new chapter in our Kenyan experience. We left Eldoret early on Friday morning to visit some very special people about 50 miles away near Katali, Kenya. We had the privilege of visiting threeorphanages and a Bible Institute which trains bi-vocational pastors.

Out of Africa - Wilson Living MagazineOur first stop introduced us to an orphanage school which cared for and taught about 100 children. We were amazed at how well behaved the children were and how much the teachers were able to do with very limited resources. They taught the basics using poster board taped to the walls. We asked the children if there was anything they wished they had for school. One little boy said: “our soccer was destroyed by a storm; could we get a new one?” The school could not afford a new one (we made sure they got a new one). This was typical of what we found in all three of the orphanage schools.

I was involved with Christian Education for almost 25 years so having the opportunity to visit and speak in educational settings to children and young adults is near to my heart. The Bible Institute semester had ended a couple of weeks earlier but several students made a special trip back to campus to hear me speak.

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Reflections

Thank You Very Much

By ROY W. HARRIS

While growing up I remember hearing a bluegrass mountain tune titled “Give Me The Flowers While I’m Living” with an interesting message.

One verse and refrain from the song said: In this world is where we need our flowers, A kind word to help us get along, If you can’t give me flowers while I’m living, Please don’t send them when I’m gone. Won’t you give me my flowers while I’m living, Let me enjoy them while I can, Please don’t wait till I’m readyto be buried, And then slip some flowers in my hand.

The song emphasized how important it is for people to know they’ve made a difference in the lives of others. The message of the song is to let others know while they are still with us rather than wishing we had said something after death takes them on and it’s too late.

Proverbs 3:27 in the Bible tells us that we should not withhold good from those who deserve it, when we have the power to show good to them. This is a simple principle with a broad application. In the framework of this article it could be said like this: if there are some deserving people who’ve impacted your life, and there is a way you can let them know, it’s your duty to tell them.

ReflectionsAfter receiving news that a dear man who’d been my teacher, mentor, colleague and friend had passed away, I began to think not only of him but many others who’d impacted me and helped mold and shape my life. I realized that even though they’d contributed much to building the total person I am today and I appreciated all they’d done to stretch and build me as a person, I’d never let them know what a tremendous impact they’d made on my life. This caused me to begin thinking about the importance of Proverbs 3:27 and how I should do something about it. A number of people immediately came to mind.

I began a list of those people and titled it, “People who have influenced my life.” I jotted down specific things I’d learned from those people and how each one had impacted me. My goal was to try and think of at least 10 people. Later in this article I’ll list the 10 and some specific ways they made a difference in my life.

I would encourage you to consider doing something similar. Here’s a simple plan on how to you can say thank you to those special people. (1) Spend time thinking about special people who’ve impacted your life and make a list of those people. (2) Beside each person’s name, jot down one or two things you learned and how they impacted your life (and may still be). (3) Determine those who may possibly be contacted. (4) Develop a plan for contacting each one (email, card, letter, phone call, etc.). (5) Contact these people one at a time to say thank you while keeping your list of how each one impacted you handy. (6) Jot down notes of those you are able to reach and how they responded to you. (7) When you finish, take a minute to thank the good Lord for all those special people. You’ve had time to think about some of those special people who’ve made profound contributions to who you are as a person.

Now it’s your turn.  The old Biblical expression do unto others still remains true today but let’s turn it around a little. Others have already done unto (investedReflections in) you, now it’s your turn to invest in the lives of others.

Every day in small or large ways you impact the lives of others. Keep in mind people are listening and watching what you say and do and how you react to life’s daily frustrations, disappointments, triumphs and failures. You’ve probably already influenced people in ways yet to be realized by you. Who knows, maybe one day someone will call or email you a handful of thank-you’s and you may find out what a difference your life truly is making. It’s time to say Thank You. Go ahead, give some of those flowers out now. Don’t just take my word for it. Remember that great Biblical Principle in Proverbs 3:27.

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Reflections

How Should I Vote?

How Should I Vote?

By ROY W. HARRIS

Have you reached the point yet where you are sick and tired of all the negative political commercials?

Aren’t you going to be glad when the November elections finally come and we can get this thing behind us and return to some normalcy?

Isn’t it amazing how elections anymore seem to bring out the worst in people? Regardless of how we wish it might change or be different, I’m still glad we live in a country where we have the right to cast our votes and choose those who govern us. With the next election on the horizon, there are a few questions worth looking at as it approaches.

Should I Vote in the coming election? I could use a portion of this article to extol the personal responsibility that every American should feel towards participating in electing our government officials. But that’s a given. I really want to spend my time addressing this question from a little different angle. I am going to take the unusual approach of answering a question by asking another one. What happens if I don’t vote? I’ve heard some say they do not like the religious affiliation of the candidates so they don’t feel that in good conscience they can vote for any of them. I respect that but I also respectfully disagree.

We do not have to agree with the religious affiliations of any of the candidates on the ballet. But one very important thing to keep in mind is this. Choosing not to vote in a sense is a vote for the status quo saying it’s ok with me if the present administration stays in office or it’s ok if that administration is replaced by a new one. If we choose not to vote we have forfeited any legitimate and credible right to complain about who is elected and in what direction they may lead. Should I vote? When you consider the possible consequences of not voting, the overwhelming answer is YES, I should vote.

Who should I vote for? Determining who we should vote for as Christians should not be a hard decision to make. This decision should transcend party identification, the latest poll, how our peers or family members may plan to vote or the suggestions of the media (liberal or conservative.) There should be something stronger guiding our thinking. As Christians the process for determining who we should vote for should be no different than how we decide other courses of action in our lives. The Christian life is not an event, it is a way of life that is governed by biblical principle and guided by a daily walk with Christ. We should vote for candidates who give evidence in their lifestyle and stated positions which most closely reflect our own biblical and personally held beliefs.

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Reflections

The End Of Summer

Labor Day is known as a day to recognize the dedication and hard work of all those who labor but also the symbolic end of summer to most Tennesseans 

By ROY W. HARRIS

Wow – where did the summer go? I think we all feel that way when the reality of Fall begins to set in with arrival of the Labor Day weekend.The End Of Summer The tradition of celebrating Labor Day has a history spanning approximately 120 years.

It became an official national holiday in 1894 during President Grover Cleveland’s administration. The bill took only six days to make it through both houses of Congress and to the President’s desk.

Labor Day

Labor Day has come to symbolize much more in our modern world than its original purpose of recognizing the dedication and hard work of those whose labor helps make our country strong. Labor Day is the symbolic end of summer to most Tennesseans. This is also the time of year that many sports fans have been waiting for. College football teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association usually play their first games the week before Labor Day. The National Football League usually plays its first game on the Thursday following Labor Day. Let’s not forget another biggie which impacts all of us. To stay in style, Labor Day is the last day when it is permissible to wear white until Memorial Day weekend roles around at the end of May (ha).

In a previous issue of Wilson Living, I extolled the wonderful benefits of Vacation Time. Work also has great value. Work is nothing new and is part of all our lives.

We’d rather play than work … or would we? The first mention of work and our involvement in it is found in the very first book of the bible, the book of Genesis (which literally means book of beginnings.)

Most of us are familiar with the biblical story of Adam and Eve created by God and placed in the Garden of Eden. We have seen the commercials of Adam being tempted to eat the forbidden apple and the idea that paradise provided freedom from many things including work.

If you look at that story a little more closely I think you’ll find something very interesting. God provided a wonderful environment in the garden but he assigned man the responsibility to work and take care of it. The bible basically says that God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden not only to enjoy the benefits of paradise but also to work in and take care of the garden.

Spring and summer weather in middle Tennessee seemed to be a bit unusual this year. A warmer than normal winter gave way to a searing hot and dry June followed by a wet July. I was truly amazed when lawns turned brown prematurely and plants, shrubs and small trees struggled to survive. Even more amazing was the transformation the July rains brought with an exceptionally green August. Gardens which seemed to be doomed in June not only survived but thrived by the end of July.

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Reflections

Vacation Time

Reflections 

It’s 7 a.m., and I’m sitting on the balcony with a view that’s unbelievable.

There’s a steady breeze from the ocean, and the salt air is so refreshing early in the morning. I just watched the sun like a fireball being reborn perform its daily routine of slowly rising from the depths of the ocean. I’m on the 3rd floor balcony of our in-laws’ condo at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina looking out over the expanse of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.  Amy and I are looking forward to a week of fun, sun, surf fishing, seafood, spending time with family and Fishingjust plain enjoying some time off.

Have you ever thought about why we enjoy vacation time so much?

I’m sure there are a variety of answers one might give. We are creatures of habit. We really do love routine. We have our Monday through Friday morning routines and our Saturday and Sunday routines. When we eat out we usually don’t need a menu because we know what we want before we sit down at our favorite restaurants. We like to park at about the same place at church, and Heaven help us if someone is sitting in our seats when we get inside. It throws our whole worship experience off (ha). The routine of life brings with it pressure and stress. It’s not easy juggling all the responsibilities of being a good parent, fulfilling the demands placed on us at work, giving our spouses the attention they need and deserve and finding time for one’s self.

I’m a big fan of vacations. Vacation time provides an opportunity to get away from much of the stress of daily routine we are accustomed to. A change of scenery, a few days away from work, activities which involve the whole family, a walk on the beach holding your spouse’s hand or just sitting in a rocking chair on the porch watching the sunset over the Smoky Mountains can do wonders for us. If we do it right, we can return home refreshed and ready to tackle the routine of life again.

Have you ever said or thought while on vacation I’d love to do this all the time?

Well, we all know that is not usually possible. What makes vacations so special is that we can’t do them all the time. That brings us back to the routine of life and the pressure and stress which goes with it. There are some practical things we can do to help relieve stress and pressure and better enjoy the day in and day out routine of life. I’m certainly not an expert, but I know a source that is. That source is God’s Word.

ReflectionsHere are some helpful hints from the heavenly book. Remind yourself that you are unique and special. God knew you before you were born and has a special life plan for you. (Psalm 139) Fingerprints suggested it, and DNA confirms it. You are unique. There is not another human being on earth exactly like you. God knows your name and everything about you.

Try to live life one day at a time. (Proverbs 21:1) Too many people try to either live in the past or the future. Just a reminder of something you already know – you can only live life today. Yesterday is gone and can never return. It may be relived in our minds from time to time, but we cannot live in the past. We should learn from our past mistakes but remember that God not only forgives, but He also forgets. We should seek to do the same. We cannot live in the future. When tomorrow comes, it will always be today.

Don’t borrow from tomorrow’s trouble and problems. It probably won’t turn out to be as bad as you thought it might anyway. AKA – Don’t stress over the past or the future. Take on life with its blessings and problems today. Don’t spend too much time thinking about the things you cannot do anything about. (Proverbs 3:5) There are some things that we just cannot change. We wish we could. We wish it could be different, but it just isn’t. Wishing and fretting will only increase pressure and stress. Some things must be turned over to the Lord. He’s big enough to handle the things we can’t. Do your best and let God do the rest. (Proverbs 3:3-4,6) I’m a big proponent of the principle that hard work and doing the right thing pays off in the end. Proverbs reminds us that if we love people and are faithful at the tasks of life, then we will gain favor and a good name among others and the respect of God Himself. Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.

Many other things could be said about, eating right, getting plenty of rest, exercising regularly, but I don’t what to throw at you and add more stress (ha). ButReflections we know those things contribute to our ability to handle the issues of life.

We are in the middle of summer vacation season. Take a little time off and vacate the premises. You don’t have to travel a long distance from home, but you might be surprised what a few days away will do for you and your family. Remember when you get back home, God can help you with the pressure and stress of life. Take it from God – He’s an expert.

Roy is a national Conference, Seminar and Retreat speaker and can be contacted at Roy@royharris. info or view his website at www.royharris.info.

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