Monthly Archives: June 2013

Getting Rid of the Worm

Yesterday’s comment that ‘one worm ruins the barrel is only helpful if we are going to do what it takes to find and get rid of the worm. In our life the worm is any one of those negative behaviors that keep us from experiencing God’s best and in fact which has the power to destroy the joy in our lives.

Finding the behavior is a matter of honest reflection. If you ask God to search your heart and see if there are any deceitful or hurtful things in your life, He will reveal those to you. But beware, like finding a worm in a piece of fruit, it won’t be a pleasant experience. You will be offended by this dark thing in you. And if you are not, you will not be ready for the next step of removing it.

In classical Applied Behavioral Analysis, it is well held that we maintain certain unhelpful/hurtful behaviors in order to get things we want (tangible things or attention), to get out of things we don’t want, or because it just feels good. What kind of behaviors might this include? Pouting, yelling in anger, hurtful words, the silent treatment, slamming doors are some examples. Repeating negative thoughts, dwelling in anxiety and worry, greed, meanness, and envy are others. Could we agree that these are harmful at best and manipulative at worst?

Being light in the world holds no place for these because these are behaviors of darkness, not light. And each of these need to be removed ‘surgically’. Some may be impossible to remove on your own power or even with the help of a friend. Some require an absolute surrender to God. That was the case 32 years ago. In desperation, I needed God to remove my anger and bitterness because I could not do it simply on my own. Yes, I still have brief moments of anger, but anger no longer defines who I am. It no longer controls me.

Having an accountability partner will help. This is a mature friend or mentor you meet regularly with about your goal and progress in surgically removing this ‘worm’ from your life. Monitoring your own behaviors, thinking about how you interact with others and observing their responses is essential to the removal process. Making a list of alternative behaviors that are actually helpful and using these, will give you a way out. In truth it is nearly impossible to get rid of a negative behavior without replacing it with a helpful alternative behavior. As the bible instructs, we must put off that which is harmful AND put on that which is good. Maintain calm, compassionate and honest communication with others, with yourself, and with God.

Get rid of the worm. Enjoy the fruit God intends you to have.

One Worm Spoils the Barrel

Sitting outside, keeping Marcia company while she picked Nanking Cherries was refreshing. I picked 30-40 berries before I ran out of steam. We were surprised and thankful to have such a bumper crop and commented on how ‘clean’ they were. We only found one worm in the first two pickings. The apple crop also looks good this year, but my illness has kept us from a proper spraying schedule (I can’t be anywhere near the stuff), so it appears there will be more worms to contend with there.

The old adage that one worm spoils the barrel is quite true, not only in fruit harvesting but also in our personal, work, and spiritual lives (which really is just one integrated life). Such is the story throughout the Old Testament and today too. Even the “good” kings did not always remove the “high places” of idolatry that was detestable to God. Despite all the other ‘good’ they did, they permitted evil to continue in parts of their kingdom, and this compromise always brought about calamity.

Such is true in our lives too. As good as we might try to be or at least to look, one act of compromise in one part of our life can cause our integrity, our relationships, our finances, and our spiritual health to crumble. It is said that no good gardener purposefully keeps a section of weeds in her garden. Why would we want to keep a section of weeds in our life? Weeds like a complaining nature, a deceitful or unforgiving heart, negative thinking, greed, judgmental thinking, gossip, the pride of always being right.

Maybe as you look at your life, you recognize one of these. Or perhaps you discover something else. This would be a good day to commit yourself to a better life for you, your family, your coworkers and employees. What one weed would you like to forever ban from your garden? It starts with awareness that weeds have a way of taking over everything else if unattended to, and then a commitment to say, “No more!” If you want to experience real power over this situation, invite God to strengthen and guide you on this path as you seek to honor Him.

Through The Eyes Of A Child

A friend of my sister Jane maintains that if it’s good theology it is teachable in a children’s sermon. If not, it might be questionable. Now that’s food for thought!

Luke tells the story (Luke 10) of a lawyer who poses a theological question to Jesus. Jesus had just summarized the great commandment:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, AND love your neighbor as yourself.”

Being a lawyer, the man sought to better articulate, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds by telling him the story of the good Samaritan, the outcast man who tended to an injured man by the side of the road when others of the faith ignored him. “Which of these three proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into robber’s hands?” asked Jesus. The lawyer replied, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus directed him (and us), “Go and do the same.”

That’s simple enough for a child to understand and good theology for us too. Even a child knows to ask:

“Who are the people in my neighborhood?” “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

These questions are essential to the premise of Go Light Your World.

Staying at home…for now

Have I mentioned what a great doctor I have at the University of Iowa Cancer Clinic? Just returned from a trip to homeland Portugal, she was concerned for the backsliding in my recovery. Recovery from Leukemia is a long, difficult and unpredictable battle. The extreme fatigue, lack of appetite, and persistent GI problems (all in a vicious cycle no doubt) had her inclined to bring me back to the hospital for more intensive inpatient treatment. As much good care I received there, I desperately would like to continue to recuperate at home. So in the end we agreed to a change of medications, an endoscopy to be scheduled soon, and a return evaluation in one week. (I had just graduated to two-week visits.) If no improvements, then I will most likely need to agree to re-hospitalization. But I feel like I am on the cusp of a positive turnaround. Thank you for continued prayers. The good news is that my platelets doubled to nearly 33% of normal and other blood counts while low, are slowly increasing.

I am reminded of a story about a man named Naman who had leprosy. (2 Kings 5) He was offered a clear path to healing but it wasn’t the one he would have chosen. “Why not this other path?” he asked. But the path to healing doesn’t always make sense to us and we usually aren’t in charge.

Our job isn’t to design the path, but rather to remain faithful. This is our primary work, and more important than all our other works combined.

Faithfulness in all things matters more than you may imagine. Enjoy the fruit that faithfulness brings.


Matthew tells the story of Peter, the only man recorded -other than Jesus- to walk on water. But of course, it seems that with Peter what starts with good intentions doesn’t always end well. And rather than being commended for faith to step out of the boat and start his journey across the choppy seas, Peter is known for insufficient faith that resulted in his sinking into the water.

And yet Peter had enough faith to do what no other had done. It was his sight that sunk him because he trusted what he could see more than what he believed in his heart. Like so many, he started well, fixing his eyes on his master, placing first one foot and then the other on the water. I don’t know how many steps he actually took before his eyes were distracted from Jesus to the waves around him. What ever faith he had was not mature enough to sustain him.

That’s the way it is with us, isn’t it? We have good intentions, and try to do the rights things. But doing good isn’t enough, and sometimes doing good becomes a distraction of its own kind.

God wants persistence, a character trait that is seldom found in the safety of our boat. Persistence is created out of trials of being buffeted around by the storm and actually getting OUT of the boat in order to follow God’s plan for us.

Persistence prays and doesn’t give up praying. It doesn’t give in. But persistence is also as much about who we are in a storm as what we do. Persistence sounds like fighting and in some ways it is. As such it is hard work. Persistence also means surrendering daily to Christ so you don’t have to surrender to your circumstances ever again. In this sense, persistence requires simply -and consistently – resting in God’s arms, keeping your eyes ever fixed on Him, and trusting Him to fight the battle you can’t.

What distractions are taking your eyes off the goal these days? In what area of your life do you need to take a persistent stand, drop your anchor, and get out of the boat? This is a defining moment of faith that, if followed, will change your life forever.

The Story of Geese

Watching “Fly Away Home” recently, I am reminded of the indomitable spirit that overcomes great challenges and makes life worthwhile. I’m reminded also of the leadership lesson of geese that fly in a ‘V’ formation, each benefiting from the others’ efforts by riding on the other’s air current. The geese take turns leading the path, such wisdom that would benefit human teams in their endeavors.

And I am reminded also of the secret to the age-old question. When you see a flock of geese in ‘V’ formation, why is one line almost always longer than the other? The answer is quite simple.

There are more geese in the longer line. 🙂

Some things in life aren’t hard to figure out. Just focus on who you follow.

A Tribute to My Best Friend

To Marcia Thayer:

  • My childhood sweetheart
  • The love of my life
  • My best friend
  • My bride for the last 481 months and countless years ahead
  • The one whose kindness is unparalleled,
  • Whose heart is filled with unfailing love and compassion
  • Who has adventured with me from Australia to Bolivia, California to Florida, Massachusetts to New Orleans and throughout the Midwest
  • Who saw in a young man potential only you could help bring to reality. . .

Thank you for saying, “I DO,” 41 years ago.


Happy Anniversary!


Bryan and Marcia Thayer  6-24-1972

Bryan and Marcia Thayer

A Way Out of Pain

Sometimes it is easier to sit in a puddle than to get out of the rain. If you’ve ever tried to push a car out of the mud or snow, you know what I mean. You give everything you have to give. Maybe you take a breather and do it again, and again. But eventually, you realize, this “mountain” is not going to move…not by MY efforts. So you gather up enough energy to get back into the car and sink into the seat. In exhaustion, your mind wrestles with, “Who am I going to call for help?”

Now, I know, calling for help should be the first step when the ‘mud’ of life sinks us into a pit of despair. But even calling out seems to take so much energy. The reality of the pain is so ever-present, so consuming, I cannot ignore it. But I cannot live with it all day either. Sleeping much of the day is a nice anesthetic, but it is temporary and staying in bed contributes to the problem rather than solving it.

I know that giving thanks to God is my only hope because God inhabits praise and there is no quicker way to draw closer to Him than to thank Him. But even that seems to take more effort than I have to give.

And so here is the choice we all face: sit in the puddle of our pain, miserable and without hope, or with each incoming breath, give thanks to God for one specific thing. Exhale the tension you feel, and with the next breath thank Him for another. If you run out of things for which you are thankful, Google “the promises of God” and give thanks for each of these.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8

Got Problems?

A few weeks ago, my sister Jane reminded me of a quote she had come across that speaks to me today:

Tell God about your problems.
Then tell your problems about God.

Which conversation is longer defines which is bigger in your life, problems or God.
The answer also defines you.

Talk with God about your problems and you will feel better.
Talk to your problems about such a great God and you will be better.

The Capacity to Love

What gives you the capacity to love others? Especially those who are not so ‘loveable’? Is it your own goodness? Is it a sense of duty? Or could it be that when you love others, God is expressing Himself through you, whether or not you really believe in Him?

God seems to specialize in using weak and sometimes broken vessels to carry His love and His light to others. I think of the story of the girl with a cracked watering jar. She focused on how much water she lost from the source of water. But God revealed the beautiful flowers that grew along the path where she walked, plants nourished by the water she “lost.”

I think that is the way it often is with us. We focus on wasted efforts, forgetting that God chooses imperfect vessels to carry His love to those we meet everyday. Everything you do, everything you think, everything you say, has impact on you and on those along your path. Enjoy making a life, not just a living, today!

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7