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A Moment For Reflection

Revolworks

We lost a dear friend last spring: Jim Lightbody. Jim, who died at the age of 86, was a faithful brother. He resided in Lincoln, Nebraska. For over 20 years, Jim sent out a daily reading called, "A Moment For Reflection." I want to share this one, written from his notes by his wife, Donna, from just after his death.

I am often asked how my health is doing, ever since my Parkinson's diagnosis five and a half years ago. Jim struggled with multiple sclerosis, among other things, and his words rang true to me.

Here is his text:

Reflection for Today
Final thoughts penciled on a legal pad
by Jim Lightbody in 1969, 1973, and 1974

10/2/69: Thoughts again turn tonight to the many blessings that are mine and have been given to me. In addition, one’s priorities are reconsidered and some of the things that seemed quite important to you suddenly drop almost completely from your frame of reference. Small and common-place things and events suddenly become more important. 

E.M. Poteat made the following statement: 

“Count up your conquests of sea and land, 
Heap up your gold and hoard as you may, 
All you can hold in your cold, dead hand
Is what you have given away.”

It’s humbling because of the fact that one has given so little and contributed in such a small way. The commitment I must make now is to serve God and man in the most effective and substantial way I can. One needs God’s grace for such a commitment.

10/9/69: Keep hoping and thinking that I will begin to feel better, but still having considerable pain and soreness in lower left side. Am continuing to practice the “Presence of God Concept” as described and illustrated by a man known only as Brother Lawrence. Finding it an exciting and rewarding experience, and find it amazing that God can be so close!

I have still left the door open in my own mind that my health problem is something else — despite the disquieting symptoms toward M.S. Time will tell and until then I seek His peace and grace.

I have done some reading on M.S. in several medical books and I understand why Dr. Weston tells me there is a trend toward M.S. It was interesting to note that there is no recorded evidence of anyone recovering from the disease. 

I do not view that with alarm or concern because no matter what ultimately happens to me, I know there will be many who are less fortunate than I. 

I need to remind myself continually that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord. It is sometimes difficult to properly interpret the meaning of this, but I accept and through faith will believe it. JL

6/19/73: At approximately 12:30 a.m. I had the first experience of paralysis on the left side of body including both arm and leg. It hit suddenly and left suddenly. 

Note [from Donna]:  Jim continued to record more such experiences for a month— sometimes it happened several times a day. I am not certain when they subsided, but fortunately they did not continue, although his left leg was left very weak and often numb.

His last notes on the legal pad are 9/14/74 and 9/28/74 where he writes about his left leg giving him trouble as we walked to and from the football stadium. At that time we parked in the big parking lot at the City Country Building, so it was quite a walk. 

As I have told many of you, Jim never complained to me or anyone about his health issues in all those years — M.S., diabetes, cancer, myelo fibrosis, brain injury. In fact, no doubt there where times when he should have given me more facts.

I hope these few days of excerpts from his writings have given you some insight into how he handled his life. For someone who loved to play golf, tennis, handball, softball, and referee football and basketball, it must have made him sad inside. But he gave them up gracefully and with dignity when the time came that he couldn’t participate. 

And now I say, “Good-by,”
and
“May God Hold You all in the Palm of His Hand.”

Love in Christ,
Donna

Brad

A Word to the Wise

Revolworks

This morning a friend talked about words in our Monday group.

The discussion that followed was stimulating. You see, words have weight; they have density. Words linked together can become a curse or a blessing.

One friend described one such curse that was tossed at his friend by his father. The young man had moved away to work in a distant place, while his brother stayed home and worked for the dad. When the brother at home died, the other brother came home to work with his father. It must not have gone well. At one point the father flashed out in anger at the surviving brother:

“The wrong son died.”

Another in the group described a young Marine who pulled a piece of paper from his wallet. The paper was tattered and well worn. When asked, the Marine said the note was the result of an activity lead by a high school teacher. The teacher had asked each person to write something affirming about each of the others. The teacher then sorted the responses, typed them up, and gave each student a copy of what others had said about him or her.

James exhorts us: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

This is good advice, considering the impact of our words.

Brad

© Revolworks 2018



What God Can Do With A Little Space

Revolworks

I was reminded last week of how many retreats I have attended. I keep hoping that I will go to just the right one that will truly make me a better person for life. The trouble is, after going to retreat after retreat, I still do bad things. I violate my principles. I think the wrong way. And I fail to turn my best intentions into good works.
I am finding out that the vision of the ”Good Brad” is just an illusion.

I am not any better, despite what my mother would tell you.

I’m beginning to realize that even when I am at my very best, some form of the following happens:

  1. I face a situation that overwhelms me.

  2. I realize that I am broken and, despite my best efforts, cannot fix it.

  3. I make a confession, or I release the matter, or I somehow stop and allow some space that I myself choose to resist from filling.

  4. I bend the knee to pray, inviting Jesus into the space I’ve just made for him.

  5. He performs his best works.

  6. Then I am allowed to watch what happens, much as Gideon did after sending most of his army home.

  7. Again somehow it seems like such a massive hurdle is reduced to a short step.

Oh, that I could find a way to make more and more space for Jesus in my life.

Brad

© Revolworks 2018


Billy Graham

Revolworks

Billy Graham died yesterday. Like millions of other people, I see him as a hero. So just like the other millions of people, I am going to drag out my Billy Graham stories for you. I hope you enjoy them.

I remember my episode like it was yesterday. I was a 20-year-old sophomore from the University of Nebraska. While performing my internship, I spent three weeks with the army of volunteers who planned the National Prayer Breakfast from their office in Roslyn, Virginia. I had two of the coolest internship supervisors any man could imagine. One was John Coe, 24 years old, tall, and as charismatic as any person I have ever met. The other was Lyston Peebles, a fun-loving and crazy thirty-something Young Life leader from North Carolina. (Lyston Clyde Peebles III is his given name.)

My dad had just driven me out from Nebraska, and I was going to spend four months in the “big city” – Washington, DC. When I arrived, things were hopping. Ronald Reagan had just won his first presidential election and moved into DC about the same time I did. As you may or may not know, the president has attended the National Prayer Breakfast on the first Thursday each February, every year since 1952. And if you’re familiar with the prayer breakfast, you’ll recognize that it is really more of a convention than a breakfast. All told, about 4,500 of your closest friends from 100 different countries are in attendance. All over the Washington Hilton Hotel suites are rented in order to host guests from all over the country, and all over the world. That’s enough background, I hope you get the picture.

Lyston was shuffling me all over the hotel, doing the things that interns do: call this person, and deliver this, pick up that, bring the speaker to his next audience.  At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the day before the breakfast, he told me to go to a certain meeting room and sit in on a meeting. “Don’t say anything. Sit in the back and observe what’s happening,” he told me, with some serious warning.

I found the room, and made my way to the back corner, as far from the main door as I could go. It wasn’t long before I noticed the room was full of church leaders and evangelists from all over the world. I recognized Louis Palau, Bill Bright, Charles Colson, U.S. Senator Harold Hughes, Doug Coe, the Reverend Richard Halverson, and I would say about thirty more gathered for their annual meeting. It seemed as though each person was taking turns talking about his (yes, they were all men) ministry. I think there was a five minute time limit, but no one paid attention. Each person was taking more time than he was allotted, so I assumed that everyone would not be able to share. Soon I heard commotion coming from the rear entrance. It looked like a mob scene, but I could see the tall Billy Graham in the middle. The other guests clamored for his attention. Billy made his way to the podium to give his address. It seemed as though it was his meeting, and I assumed he had invited all the guests. Billy’s remarks took all of about two minutes. He told men how much he appreciated them coming and offered his help in any way he could. He pointed out a few persons in attendance, and didn’t say much more. The entirety of his remarks could not have taken more than two minutes.

When he was done, Billy began to make his way toward the door. He probably had another appointment he needed to attend. The mob surrounded him again. Then, before I really realized what was happening, he turned his head to the back corner of the room. He made a left turn, leaving the group of glad-handers, and made a beeline towards me. I didn’t know whether to be honored or fearful. Billy Graham walked straight up to me and put out his hand.

“What is your name?” he asked.

”My name is Brad from Nebraska. Lyston sent me down to observe your meeting.”

”So what brings you to the National Prayer Breakfast?” he asked.

”I am an intern helping with the prayer breakfast. John and Lyston are in charge of my time.”

”And have you been learning a lot?” he asked. About this time, I felt like the most important man in the building. Billy’s genuine interest ignited a flame inside me.

"Yes, I’m just getting started, but I’m learning a lot."

Our conversation probably lasted three minutes or less. And I’m sure that the men in attendance wondered whom in the world Billy Graham had gone so far out of his way to address. As Billy talked to me, I got the feeling that there was no one else in the world he cared about except me. I’ll never forget it. After a short but intentional conversation with me, Billy Graham turned and headed back to the mob. He shook a few hands and exited.

My friend, Jack Campbell from Lincoln, tells a similar story about his Young Presidents Organization Group. These groups are comprised of extremely ambitious and successful young businessmen. While these men were waiting for their speaker, Doug Coe poked his head into the room.

“I have somebody here I want you to meet.”

Don’t ask me how Doug Coe knew who was in the group or where they were meeting, but Doug had the knack for connecting with all kinds of extraordinary people. When Doug opened the door, in walked Billy Graham. He made his way around the room, having intentional discussions with each person he met. He shook every hand, and repeated every name. And he left. When the person in charge walked into the room, he began making his way around the room and shaking hands, as Billy Graham did. But after a few handshakes, he gave up and said something like, “It will take too long for me to shake everybody’s hands, so I let’s just start the meeting." Under his breath, one of the men replied, ”That’s okay, you don’t have to shake our hands, but Billy Graham just did.” The room erupted with laughter. Everyone understood the joke except one.

Most people will remember Billy Graham for his immense speaking abilities, his worldwide travel, his massive revival gatherings, his relationship with every president in my lifetime, the books he authored, and the fame that he couldn’t avoid.  But the rest of us, and especially those who knew him best, will remember him for his spiritual leading, his love for family, and his immense relational skills. And though his health issues kept him from the limelight the last few years, this world will miss him.

I will look forward to time with him in the next.

Brad

© Revolworks 2018

Insights From Mortality

Revolworks

So here I sit… my mother-in-law, Karla, fighting for life.

We haven’t always gotten along, but somehow over these 33 years of sharing family, we have learned to love each other. I have learned much.

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Pleasure Sorrow Poem

Revolworks

Yesterday I was thinking about my entry on yesterday’s blog. My mind drifted to a poem I read recently by William Barkley, the great Bible commentary writer. He was discussing the Beatitudes, and specifically Matthew 5:4. As you recall, this is the reference to, “ Blessed are those who mourn…”

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Towers

Revolworks

In this morning’s huffingtonpost.com, I read eight inspiring stories of survivors of the
World Trade Center attack of 9-11. I also happen to have read Genesis 11, the story of
the Tower of Babel. As I pondered whether there was any connection between the two
stories, several parallels came to mind.

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Signed Up to Suffer?

Revolworks

“They signed up to suffer.”  I never really thought about it this way.  My studies of the first century church have included the thought that Paul, Peter and their buddies endured hardships.

Hardships are normally unpredictable, so, according my former thinking, they blindly followed Jesus, and the resulting hardships caught them by surprise.

 

 

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Gratitude

Revolworks

Let’s talk about gratitude… an attitude of gratitude.

We have all heard talks through years about God’s will for our lives. We often ponder God’s will for us in the years ahead, expecting that we will be able to prophesy about our future.

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Discipleship

Revolworks

We live in a world teeming with wannabe leaders. In previous generations, working up the corporate ladder, or being satisfied with a current career, was the status quo.

Nowadays, newly graduated twenty-something’s are obsessed with the idea of being their own boss, forging their own way. A recent survey found that 91% of their millennial respondents wanted to be a leader. Why work for someone else when you can have your own start-up, app, business, etc.?

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Peace

Revolworks

We often think of peace as a circumstantial tool, something to strive for but not something that is always present and available to us. Instead, maybe we should look at peace as a defensive tool; something that will guard our hearts and minds, like the above passage indicates.

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The Ways of God

Revolworks

If you want to do what God wants you to do, do the opposite of what seems natural and you will probably be closer to what God wants you to do.  Jesus makes trouble. He thinks different than we do.  His ways are higher than ours.

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Moving Mountains

Revolworks

The Scriptures quote Jesus as saying that if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you should be able to tell a mountain to throw itself into the sea — and it would happen.

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Our Identity

Revolworks

How we behave in life stems primarily from our view of ourselves. This spiritual “selfie” goes through gyrations as we are bounced and bruised through life. Throughout this process, we develop our personal identity. It tends to be the sum total of all judgments made about ourselves, whether they originate in our own minds, or in the minds of others. We choose to believe some and disbelieve others.

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A Thought On Intimacy

Revolworks

In order to have a truly full life, you have to have intimacy in your relationships. Most people are afraid of intimacy because there is so much hurt and damage in their lives. They don’t want to feel it, and they certainly don’t want others to see or know that it’s there. But to me, letting people into that pain, and going with others into their hurt, is the essence of the cross.
 

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The Gift of Pain

Revolworks

Recently while was speaking with a person whom I highly respect, I confessed that I was feeling weighed down by certain pains in my life. I mentioned I just needed to find some hope to get past it. Her response stuck with me: “Don’t jump to hope until pain has its full way in your life. Pain is what causes us to grow and become closer to the Lord.” This response wasn’t quite what I wanted to hear, but I knew it was true.’ 

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California Coast

Revolworks

Just this weekend I was reminded of one of my favorite metaphors. We are all guilty of coveting. I, like any number of my brothers and sisters, tend to covet spiritual maturity. We look at someone, and we say to ourselves, "I think he/she really has it together."

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