Reminders for Everyday Living!

"Reminders" is a weekly column written by Ardith Hoff, Westby UMC member and contributor for the local Westby Times newspaper.  Ardith's weekly "reminders" offer insight and guidance for our everyday lives.  We wanted to make her column available for everyone beyond the subscribers of the local paper.  We hope you enjoy it and find it insightful and helpful, not only in your everyday life but specifically in your walk with the Lord!

Recently, Ardith decided to compile the "Reminders" articles into a book, 101 Faith-Based Reminders, which has been published and available to purchase. The proceeds of the book sales will go towards local missions and outreach projects. The cost of the book is $10. If you are interested in purchasing a book, please contact the Westby United Methodist Church at westby-umc@driftlessministry.org.

Reminders: The Cure

by Ardith Hoff

Three pastors were having lunch together.  One said, “I've been having trouble with bats in my church balcony.  I've tried everything––noise, spray, cats, but nothing seems to scare them away.”  Another said, “Me too.  I’ve got hundreds living in my belfry.  I've even had the place fumigated, and they won't go away.”  The third pastor said, “I baptized and confirmed all of mine, and I haven't seen one since!”

“The cure” might not work for bats, but it seems to work for some people.  Pastors often complain that even though they have done their best to help young people see the importance of regular church attendance, young people sometimes think they have graduated from church, once formal lessons are over. 

While it is true that going to church is not the way to achieve eternal life, it is an important part of learning to grow as a Christian.  Even if church services sometimes seem boring and repetitious at times, there is something to be said for taking time out on a Sunday to gather with other believers and spend time contemplating what is important in life. 

Having a church family, where everyone is concerned about fellow members, can be a life affirming feeling.  The sense of belonging can literally fill that homesick emptiness we sometimes feel when life gets overwhelming.  Having people around us who will pray with us about the problems we face can help lift the burdens we carry. 

What we sometimes forget is that though God promised to be with us always, no matter where we are, He also wants us to come to Him.  “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8  

It’s true that we don’t have to be in church to feel close to God, but there is something about being in a place of worship with other people who believe in God and are grateful for what he has given us that helps us remember the verse we leaned as children: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not parish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Reminders: Faith Enough to Walk on Water

by Ardith Hoff

Two pastors, who liked to fish, invited a third pastor from another denomination to come fishing with them.  Out on the lake, the first pastor needed to go to the bathroom.  He walked on water to the restroom on shore.  A while later the second pastor did the same thing.  The third pastor had to go really badly, but he was a little worried that maybe his faith was not strong enough.  He prayed hard and stepped out of the boat.  Sure enough, he sank like a rock!  He felt humiliated and swam ashore and never returned to the boat.  He knew that his faith must be too weak.

Faith, according to the dictionary is, “Complete trust in someone or something.”  The Bible tells us, in Hebrews 11:1 that faith is, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Religious faith is exemplified by a belief in God, without actually seeing him, and trusting Him for what we need.  So what was wrong with the third pastor’s faith? 

Did he not believe strongly enough?  Did he not trust God to provide the ability to walk on water?  Did he somehow lose faith as he stepped out of the boat, just as the apostle Peter did in the story where Jesus walked on water, and invited his disciple Peter to do the same?  In Matthew 14:29-31 it says: “Jesus was walking on water, and he said to Peter.  ‘Come!’  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus.   But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.”

If Jesus had been there in person, he might have reached out and caught the third pastor, but he was not.  Though we see modern “miracles” that we can’t explain, we don’t actually take unnecessary risks, and expect Jesus to reach down and save us.  We do our homework.  We search for the best surgeon to operate on us; we keep our car serviced so that we can have faith that it will get us to church and back and we ask the other two fishermen where the rocks are!

Reminders: How to Tame a Bully

by Ardith Hoff

A farmer and his brand new bride were riding home from the wedding chapel in a horse-drawn carriage when the old horse stumbled.  The farmer said, “That's once.”  A little further along, the poor old horse stumbled again.  The farmer said, “That's twice.”  After a little the poor old horse stumbled again.  The farmer didn't say anything.  He reached under the seat, pulled out a shotgun, and shot the horse.  His new bride was horrified and said, “That was an awful thing to do.”  The farmer said, “That's once.” 

That old joke is an exaggerated illustration of how some people like to act when they want to appear tough.  They try to bully others into submission.  Intimidation is a way of trying to demonstrate superiority.

It is well established that bullies are actually very insecure people who do not feel confident.  They try to act confident by wielding power over others.  They try to affirm their power by making the other person feel powerless.  Often, the bully was a victim of bullying in the past.  He or she has reversed roles to make sure that they are never put down by anyone ever again, no matter what. 

Sometimes, the bully actually is in a position of power, i.e. is the bigger child, a parent, teacher, or boss and uses that power to intimidate others.  They have not learned that one pat on the back is better than a thousand reprimands in getting good results. 

On the other hand, if the bully is in effect throwing a tantrum, we need to be the adult in the room.  Just as a parent should not give in to a child’s tantrum, adults should not be allowed to get away with one either.  Kindly point out what the bully is doing and letting him or her know that you will not tolerate such treatment can sometimes be an effective deterrent to bullying.

If you are being bullied or realize that you might be a bully sometimes, the following Bible verses might help: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 and Ephesians 4:2: “Act with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”