Author Archive

Hidden Treasures

Written by Les Dahl on December 10th, 2013. Posted in Uncategorized

 

Blessings are all around us every day.

 

Sometimes the blessing comes in the form

     of a beautiful dawn with the golden rays of sun

     glistening on the silvery drops of dew, click

     the subtle fragrance of nature wafted

     on a gentle morning breeze.

The promise of life is affirmed–

     In the midst of the stress and struggle

     there still are moments of breath-taking beauty.

 

Sometimes the blessing comes in the form

     of a cheerful smile and

     uplifting word of encouragement

     or of compliment.

The kindness of life is affirmed–

     In the barrage of grumbling and complaining

     there still are bright faces and warm hearts.

 

Sometimes the blessing comes in the form

     of finding just what you are shopping for

     on sale 

     for an unexpected discount.

The goodness of life is affirmed–

     In the vexation of trying to stretch a fragile budget

     to make ends meet from payday to payday

     there still are pleasant surprises on our path.

 

Too often we miss our blessings because we are either

     out of position, nurse  

     out of step, order  

     out of focus,

          or all three!

 

Blessings are like hidden treasures—

     and they are all around us.

 

Unless we are 

     fully present, 

     fully engaged, and 

     fully expectant,

we miss the blessing of the moment–

we miss the affirmation of life

     prepared specially for us

     by our loving Heavenly Father

          just because He loves us.

The blessing of the Lord makes us rich

and there is no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10.22)

 

Blessings,

Les Dahl

Image courtesy of scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

CHRISTMAS – To Celebrate Or Not?

Written by Les Dahl on December 10th, 2013. Posted in Uncategorized

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Christmas is a season of great celebration, overwhelming

     commercial inundation and much religious controversy.

Let's start with the obvious.

No mention is made of December 25 or Christmas in the Bible.

In fact, no indication is given of Jesus' exact date of birth.

 

Nor is there any suggestion that 1st century Christians

     celebrated Jesus' birth.

In fact, early Christians kept Jewish feasts and holy days,

     especially Passover, fulfilled by Yeshua the Lamb of God.

The closest incident to celebrating the 'birth' of Jesus in the

     Bible is the prophetic declarations made by Simeon and Anna

     when Jesus was brought into the temple for dedication on his

     eighth day. (Luke 2:22-38)

So how did we get Christmas December 25?

Long before Christmas was established, Europeans celebrated

     the winter solstice (Dec. 21), when light once more pushed back

     the encroaching darkness of winter, bringing with it the promise

     of spring and new life.

Under Roman rule, these celebrations centered around Saturnalia—

     a 'Mardi Gras' type revelry in honor of Saturn, the Roman god of

     agriculture.  Wild partying and feasting began on Dec. 17 and

     continued through to a New Year's bash in the first week of January.

In the midst of these festivities was December 25, the most

     sacred day of the year for many Roman soldiers, government

     officials & upper class citizens. It was the birthday of Mithra,

     god of the unconquerable sun.

First Century Christians paid little mind to the pagan festivities.

They were on a mission: “Let the whole house of Israel know beyond

     doubt that God has made him both Lord and Messiah – this Yeshua,

     whom you executed on a stake!” (1)

Severe persecution of Christians only intensified their passion.

Their message spread like wild-fire throughout the Roman world.

A  familiar cry arose everywhere Christians went, “These men who have

     turned the world upside down have come here also … saying there is

     another king, Jesus.” (2)

Christians infiltrated every nation and ethnic group, challenging

     every religion and culture. Meeting in house churches, Christians

     celebrated their new-found freedom, joy and love in Christ so

     different from anything they had ever known. Converts readily

     left their paganism to embrace the Kingdom of God.

As Constantine became Emperor of Rome in the 4th century, he

     accomplished what no other emperor before could. He changed

     the face and structure of Christianity thereby curbing its power.

Declaring Christianity the state religion, Constantine outlawed

     house churches replacing them with state-owned 'church'

     buildings and state-appointed clergy. He forbade the celebration

     of Passover, replacing it with the celebration of Easter. Rather

     than outlaw pagan customs, his church leaders absorbed them.

December 25th was designated as the 'Feast of the Nativity',

     celebrating the birth of Jesus.  After morning Mass, however,

     celebrants joined friends and neighbors in Saturnalia festivities.

     By the eighth century, Christmas spread throughout Europe.

December 25th Christmas had become a common-ground celebration

     for pagans and Christians.

Does this mean we Christians should not celebrate Christmas?

     Let's hold judgment until we will see some

     interesting twists and turns in the history of 'Christmas' recounted

     in part 2 of this exposé .

Blessings, 

Les Dahl

 

(1) Acts 2:36 (CJB)

(2) Acts 17:6 (ESV)

Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pebbles & Ripples

Written by Les Dahl on December 7th, 2013. Posted in Uncategorized

 

My objective is to provoke you to action.

 

Each bedrock life strategy demands a response

      a simple action to effectively activate it.

 

Why is action so important?

 

Do you realize just how many ripples

     a small pebble can make!

 

Here is a humorous story to illustrate my point.

 

On a pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll around their block,

     a rabbi and his wife noticed extraordinary changes

     to a neighbor's house and yard.

 

Complimenting their neighbors, they asked,

     “What inspired these amazing improvements?”

 

The wife hesitated and then replied,

     “Well, actually two broken tiles in the bathroom needed replacing.”

 

Seeing the incredulous look of the rabbi's face, she continued...

 

“We couldn't find the exact matching color,

     so we redid all of them.

Then the wallpaper looked ugly and old,

     so we did that too.

The medicine cabinet seemed decrepit,

     so we replaced it.

The bathroom became the nicest room in the house,

     but when we walked into the hallway,

     the rug looked so shoddy that we decided

     to pull it up and polish the floors.

The front window was a dull match for the shiny new floors

     so we decided to go deep pocket and install bay windows.

When we looked out from the bay windows

     we noticed how unkempt the lawn had become,

     so we called a landscaper who created

     this lovely Chinese ornamental garden!” *

 

We laugh . . .

     but this story reveals a hidden dynamic of life most of us miss.

 

For whatever reason—

        procrastination, inaction, indifference, laziness

     we never throw even a pebble into the pool.

       We don't take action

     Not even a small, seemingly inconsequential action!

 

   Or worse—

     reacting in frustration or anger,

     we throw a boulder into the pool

     only to have it splash up in our face!

 

Not fully present nor fully engaged in the moment

        we miss a new perspective each ripple creates.

     

With a new perspective we see

     not only the beauty & improvement created by pro-action,

     we see our next small step of action forward.

 

As we take action

     momentum carries us step by step

          until we're living in a beautiful house

          surrounded by a lovely designer garden.

 

The fragmented, sooted emotions & thoughts

     that filled our 'house'

          are fully refurbished

 and our conversation and conduct

     provide a pleasant stop for all who happen to pass by.

 

That's the power of one small action--

     the ripple effect of one small pebble!

 

Remember, it only took 'one small stone'

     to fell the giant Goliath!

 

Blessings,

The Sage

 

(*adapted from: “Growing Forever” by Rabbi Label Lam © 2007)

 

(photo by: Just2shutter, freedigitalphotos.net)

Momentum vs Inertia

Written by Les Dahl on December 2nd, 2013. Posted in Uncategorized

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Let me hit you with some physics.

 

The first law of motion states:

A body in motion tends to remain in motion;

a stationary body tends to stay stationary.

 

How does this apply to school?

 

First, some groundwork . . .

     (1) List exactly what you want out of school

     (2) List everything you need to do to get what you want

     (3) List exactly how will you do what you need to do

     (4) Formulate a strategy . . . a plan of action.

 

Now . . . TAKE ACTION.

  • Start with #1 on your list and . . . just do it!

 

Congratulations!!!

  • You started the ball rolling . . .

 

You've activated the first law of physics:

  • once the ball is rolling, it keeps rolling

              & rolling & rolling along its path toward your goals.

 

Now . . .

 

    If you didn't do the groundwork above

  • you didn't write down exactly what you want

  • you didn't list everything you need to do

  • you didn't determine a plan of action

  • you didn't take action . . .

 

SURPRISE !!! 

 

The first law of motion still caught you!!!

     . . . the second half states:

  • a stationary (unmoved) body (that's you!)

             remains stationary (stuck in the same place).

 

It's called inertia.

 

The state of inertia is very comfortable . . .

     it requires no effort . . . no commitment . . .

          no goals . . . no plans . . .

               nothing!

 

The only problem is . . .

     in the state of  inertia

     you get absolutely no-where!

      . . . not even in circles!

 

You really do not want your year at school spent

     in a state of inertia . . .

          —that's just another form of hell.

 

So . . .

     shift into motion!

 

Here's your physics assignment:

 

    1. Decide exactly what you want to get

          out of each of your subjects

  • what scores to you want

               on your essays, reports, quizzes, tests & exams

  • what can you learn in each course

               to improve your knowledge base & your intelligence

 

2. Formulate a strategy to achieve your goals

  • devise a workable study / homework schedule

                   workable:  don't kill yourself

                        with an overdose of homework . . .

                    but don't short-change yourself either

                         --'no pain no gain!'

            

3. Take massive action . . .

  • don't just dip in your toe to test the water . . .

              jump into the deep end & swim!

 

As you start the ball rolling, another law of physics kicks in

  • the law of momentum states:

                it may take a lot of energy to starta body in motion,

                but then it takes much less energy to keep it moving

 

The hardest part is to start . . .

     but once you've initiated motion . . .

          momentum will carry you through!

 

Blessings,

The Sage

 

Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

 

 

What’s It Worth To You?

Written by Les Dahl on November 29th, 2013. Posted in Uncategorized


 

Have you ever given thought to

   what is really important?

      Not to your parents.

      Not to your peers.

           To you!

What’s really important to you?

 

Let’s do some self evaluation.

 

List the 3 things you value most—

   the 3 things most important to you.

      Take your time. Dig deep.

Arrange them in order of value & importance

Next . . . list the 3 things you spend most time on.

   Again, arrange your list in order.

 

Now compare your lists.

 

Here's the thing . . .

   what you devote most time to,

   that is what you value most...

   that is what is most important to you.

 

You  see . . .

   you will always find time

        to do what is important to you.

   you will always spend the most time

        on what is most important to you.

 

Therefore . . .

Choose carefully what is valuable and important to you?

 

Think of it this way . . .

   if you keep spending your time as you do now,

        where will you be 5 years . . . 10 years from now?

 

This may help you choose what is valuable and important.

 

Look closely at peers and adults around you.

   List qualities and virtues you admire in them.

      (Never mind the annoying things—

         if you focus on those,

      you will soon be doing the same!)

Practice these qualities and virtues

   until they become your own.

Spend a good amount of time working on them—

   they are valuable and important to you!

 

Look closely at yourself.

   List your strengths—

      qualities you admire . . . things you do well.

   (Never mind weaknesses and faults—

      they will fall away one by one

      as you focus on building your strengths!)

 

Like you would train in the gym to build stamina and endurance,

   diligently exercise your knowledge, experience, talents and skills.

No one is born with these . . .

   they are acquired through learning and practice!

 

Become the worthy person you are born to be.

Devote your time to the things that add value to your life.

Image courtesy of nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

*V.I.P* DISTINCTION

Written by Les Dahl on October 24th, 2013. Posted in Uncategorized

My goal for each of you in the Teens4Real community

is to achieve *V. I. P.* distinction.

 

I firmly believe each of you is capable of achieving

*V. I. P.* status.

 

As I write this blog each week,

I envision what you might be 10 or 20 years from now!

 

As I let my vivid imagination soar,

the possibilities I see are limitless.

 

I ask myself,

'What can I say that will help these teens see

the amazing future available to them—

completely within your grasp?'

 

Sir Edmund Hillary said, “People do not decide to

become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish

extraordinary things.”

 

It's the little things that make the difference.

 

*V. I. P.* distinction emerges as you

persistently do everything extra-ordinarily well.

 

Everything means everything

     from the most insignificant task

     to the most important job—

persistently do everything extra-ordinarily well.

 

Sir Edmund Hillary, by the way, was a mountaineer &

explorer from New Zealand. On May 29, 1953, he & his

Nepalese Sherpa became the first climbers to reach

the summit of Mt. Everest. He is cited as one of the

100 most influential people of the 20th century.

 

That's *V. I. P.* distinction!

 

Hillary's climb was achieved step-by-step;

at times, inch-by-inch.

Some of his journey to the summit was

comfortable & easy;

other parts demanded every ounce of

his strength, determination & courage.

 

The same is true of your journey

to *V. I. P.* distinction!

 

Let me break it down.

 

'V' – VISION

 

  • Begin each project by clearly defining exactly 
    • what you want to accomplish 
    • what it will look like if accomplished perfectly 
      • whether its a homework assignment or 
    •            some chore asked of you
    • visualize the end result BEFORE you begin 

 

  • Think on paper
    • Draw, diagram, 'mind-map' the end result
    • Brainstorm, outline, plan the step-by-step procedure 

   that will take you to the end result

    • Studies have shown that goals & plans written down on paper

are consistently achieved!

 

    • That is the power of your Day Plan!
      • Be consistent...Be specific...Be detailed!

 

'I' – INDEPENDENCE

 

  • Make Nike's slogan your motto—Just Do It!
    • Don't wait to be told...Don't wait to be reminded!
      • Just Do It...and...Do It NOW!
      • The sooner you do it, the sooner it is done!

 

  • Become a self-employed entrepreneur!
    • Consider each assignment, each task, each chore,
           as a contract that you, as a project manager,
           have been hired to do!
    • Believe me, every 'project' you take on now will
           contribute to your wealth potential 5 – 10 years from now!
    • Be diligent...Be thorough...Be creative! 

 

'P' – PERSISTENCE

 

  • Every skill you need to climb your Mount Everest
       can be learned—some easier than others

 

  • To MASTER a skill, however, takes practice, training & grit!
    • LOTS of practice, training & grit! 

 

  • We Jamaicans swell with pride 

when we hear the name Usain Bolt

 

    • Ask Usain how many times
           he has run the 100-meter sprint in training!
    • Ask him how many times
           he's practiced his starts!
    • Ask him how many times
           he's been tempted to quit
           after hours of grueling, exhausting workouts!

 

  • Why does he do it?
    • “I want to be a legend!” is Usain's answer.
    • Not just the best! Extra-ordinary!!!
  • That's *V. I. P.* distinction! 

 

Blessings,

The Sage