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::::: "Dispelling the Gloom of Loneliness"

::::: "How to Double Your Reading Speedópart 2"
::::: A wonderful card trick: "The Three Thieves"
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::::: Dispelling the Gloom of Loneliness
Almost everyone has experienced the pain of loneliness to one degree or another. Some peopleís lives are being destroyed by it. Fortunately, God has a cure.
Loneliness is caused by adopting the wrong goal in our hearts. When we are lonely, our goal is to be loved or to find a companion. Although loneliness puts our focus on our desire for friendship, loneliness also makes it more difficult to make friends. It is not a constructive force; it is destructive. In fact C. S. Lewis called lonely people "those people who simply want friends and can never make any".

When people are driven by their loneliness to reach out to others, their efforts are contaminated by a selfish agenda. John Powell compares a lonely person to someone with a toothache--constantly in search of a dentist, someone to solve his problem. Inasmuch as they are trying to meet their own need and to alleviate their own pain, they are trying to use others. Since people don't like to be used, they aren't lining up to spend time with them.
When you were a kid, did you ever take a magnet and chase other magnets around with it? This is what a lonely person experiences. The more desperate they are for companionship, the more other people seem to avoid them.
They think the solution to their problem is to find someone to love them, but that is not the case. Samuel Shoemaker, an evangelical leader after World War II, wisely observed, "We are not lonely because we are not loved, but because we do not love."
Have you ever been up very early and seen a mist or gloom hanging over the horizon? This gloom never appears later in the day, because as soon as the morning sun comes over the horizon, it burns away the gloom. Thereís a scripture about this phenomenon, but itís not talking about the weather. Itís talking about what happens in peopleís hearts when they lift their focus off of themselves to be a blessing to others.
In Isaiah 58:10, God says, "If you pour yourself out for the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness, and your gloom shall be as the noonday."
Jesus expressed this same principle in John 15:11-12. Notice the biblical connection between loving others and experiencing joy:
"Iím telling you these things that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you."
Years ago I was invited to speak at a Singles Conference in Californiaís San Bernardino Mountains. As I spoke to them about "How to Overcome Loneliness", the group became downright hostile. Many of them were older singles, and loneliness was a major issue in their lives. I guess they felt like I was kicking them when they were down. They seemed to interpret my message as if I were condemning them by saying, "Youíre not only lonely, youíre selfish too!"
As soon as the session was over, Anita, the director of the conference, pulled me aside. Anita was the one who had invited me to speak. She herself was an older single and she said to me, "This is exactly what they need to hear. If they keep doing what they have been doing, they are going to stay in bondage. They need to understand how to live a different way." I replied, "I think the problem may be that I didnít tell them about my own struggles in this area."
So in the next session I told them my own story. When I was first hired by Dallas Baptist University in 1989, I served as director of admissions. For those years in admissions, I worked every day with a staff of recruiters. Not surprisingly, these were fun people to be around and we had a great time planning and executing various events. Then I moved over to student development where I worked with one other man: my friend Brent Wallace. Brent was not an employee of the university. He worked for the LifeGivingWords ministry. Brent helped me to write my part of the book "This Was Your Life!" along with a couple of articles and a tract. Often during our lunch break we would play ping pong or foosball. After three years, our funds ran out to pay Brent and he had to move on. So after many years of working with a staff or with Brent, suddenly I was by myselfóall day every day.
The gloom of loneliness settled upon me every morning. It was terrible. Very heavy and oppressive. The scripture tells us to "put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" so each day I chose to give God thanks for His blessings, and the gloom would lift, providing temporary relief. However, the next morning the gloom was always back again.
My mind was dominated by a single thought: How can I get rid of this loneliness?
After about three weeks of this torture, I suddenly realized I wasn't caring about anybody else in the world. I had become the center of my own attention.
Philippians 2:3-4 says:
With humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
On that day I made a conscious decision to begin caring for others. At that moment the loneliness disappeared, and this time it didn't come back.
When we humble ourselves in this way, looking to the interests of others, we are like a magnet that has been turned around. Instead of avoiding us, people are attracted to us, because people love to be loved. They love to be listened to; they love to be encouraged. People love for another human being to show genuine interest in what's happening in their lives.
During this last decade the loneliness has tried to return several times. Often it happens as I drive onto campus. But whenever loneliness tries to grab hold of me, I say, "Iím not going down that path again! Lord, who can I serve? Who can I be a blessing to?" I look for a student I can offer a ride to. As I lift up my focus, the loneliness disappears, and Godís joy comes back into my heart. Itís amazing what this change in focus can do.
Someone once said:
"You can make more friends in two months by being interested in others, than you can in two years trying to get others interested in you."
Some lonely people feel unable to love. They feel like an empty cup. Since they canít give away what they donít have, they think they need someone to fill them up first before they will be able to reach out in love to others. In a sense they are right.
To be able to reach out to others unselfishly, we must affirm that our needs for love and significance are already met in Christ. We may need to meditate on the fact that this is indeed true, even if it doesnít feel true. This affirmation results in a "full cup" perspective. We realize that we can share love with other people. We thus experience the reality of 1 John 4:19: "We love because He first loved us."
When you begin to suffer with loneliness, you can humble yourself and use Philippians 2:3-4 like medicine to correct your focus and cure yourself. Or better yet, you can take it like preventative medicine. If you set your mind each day and say, "Lord, make me a blessing to people today. Who can I help? Who can I show Your kindness to?" then it will be hard for the gloom of loneliness to even land on you in the first place. By changing the goal of your heart, not only will you be free from the gloom of loneliness, and not only will you experience joy, but God will use your life to bless many others.
- This article is based on material from the conference entitled,
This was Your Life! Preparing to Meet God Face to Face

Conference info available at
By Jamie Lash www.LifeGivingWords.com
[Copyright 2005. This article may be reprinted in its entirety.]

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::::: How to Double Your Reading Speed
        PART 2

Tip #1: Make eye fixations on groups of 3-5 words rather than on one word at a time. Note: this tip was discussed in our first newsletter. If you would like to read or review it before proceeding, please click here:

Tip #2:
Stop regression.
Regression can be involuntary or voluntary. I will describe how to overcome both:
Involuntary regression
occurs when the eyes flick back to previously read words as a bad habit. When you read, do your eyes ever jump backward to an earlier word on the same line, or even to a word on an earlier line? When we do this, we are presenting the words to our brains in the wrong order! Thus, this habit not only slows down our reading rate, it is terrible for our comprehension level.
To cure this problem, take a blank piece of white paper and fold it in half so that the top and bottom edges are together. As you read a book, cover up the text above your current line with the paper. In other words, move the paper down the page as you read, covering up the lines youíve already read. Always present the authorís words to your brain in the right order!
The other type of regression, voluntary regression, is caused by daydreaming and loss of concentration. Perhaps you can relate to this experienceÖ
You read to the bottom of a page and your hand moves down to flip it over when you suddenly realize you have no clue what is on that page. You think, Iím going to have to read it again.
Have you ever had the same thing happen several times on the same page? You start thinking, I hate this page! I never want to see this page again, so Iím going to slow down and really concentrate.
The irony of this situation is that this problem is caused by reading too slowly in the first place! God designed your brain to receive information fast enough to hold your attention. Imagine watching a movie at half-speed or at 1/3 speed. Even if itís a great movie, it would be difficult to stay focused because the information is coming at you so slowly.
Some people do this to themselves all the time while they read. They think reading is boring, but itís just that they do it too slowly.
When you only read half as fast as your brain is capable of, part of your brain starts thinking about the weekend. Pretty soon your whole brain is thinking about the weekend.
Whatís the solution? You can more than double your speed by making eye fixations on groups of words rather than on one word at a time. (I explained how to do this in the last LifeGivingWords newsletter:
http://www.lifegivingwords.com/nov-2004-enews-1.htm )
As you speed up, youíll have less trouble with daydreaming and loss of concentration. You will also find that reading becomes much more interesting.
Try it! Youíll like it.
By Jamie Lash www.LifeGivingWords.com
[Copyright 2005. This article may be reprinted in its entirety.]

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::::: A wonderful card trick:
        The Three Thieves

This card trick is simple but very effective if you want to baffle your friends or family.
Using a normal deck of playing cards, remove the four jacks. Place one of the jacks facedown on top of the deck. You should now have 49 cards in the deckóall facedown.
Call your victim(s) and tell them this story:
Three brothers decide to rob a mansion at midnight. (Quickly show them the three jacks in your hand.) The brothers agree to meet in the woods if there is any sign of trouble. One goes upstairs to the top floor, one stays on the first floor, and one goes downstairs to the basement. (Note: As you describe this, put one jack on top of the deck, one somewhere in the middle of the deck, and one on the bottom. All 52 cards should now be facedown.)
During the robbery, someone hears a suspicious noise and calls the police. As the police rush to the scene, the brothers flee. Were the three brothers able to escape and rendezvous in the woods?
Now ask your friend to cut the deck. Look through the cards to see if the brothers are together. Amazing!
Variation #1: The trick is especially mind-boggling if you donít touch the cards at all after you place the three jacks. Ask your victim to cut the cards and then to search the deck to see if the three brothers are together.
Variation #2:
You can have them cut the deck twice if you are dealing with very clever victims and you want to really scramble their brains and make sure they donít figure it out too quickly. There is a small chance that the trick will not work with a double cut, but it will still work about 96% of the time.
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