In Hot Pursuit! (Diet for Dreamers)

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You can’t improve on the design of the safety pin. It’s simplicity itself: elementary in its design, perfectly suited to its purpose; the kind of idea that springs forth fully formed. Its inventor, however, apparently viewed the safety pin as just another quaint notion.

Along with the safety pin, Walter Hunt — an American mechanic born in New York in 1796 — invented a repeating rifle, a flax spinner, a knife sharpener, a streetcar bell, a street sweeping machine, an ice plough, and … artificial stone. All his inventions proved successful, but Hunt made little money on his designs. Why? Because although he had great ideas, he never stuck to any one idea long enough to see it fully realized.

He always sold his ideas to others who then patented them — or who rushed Hunt’s designs into production before securing a patent. Hence, the inventor’s ideas usually ended up as the foundation for another man’s success story. His design for the repeating rifle, for instance, was copied and improved upon to create the renowned Winchester ’73 Rifle. Alas, Hunt saw none of the profits from “The Gun that Won the West.”

An example of the inventor’s shortsightedness involved his 1833 design for the first working sewing machine. Hunt had worked years perfecting his design, but then decided his idea might lead to the unemployment of seamstresses. So he sold his design to a businessman who proved unsuccessful at manufacturing the labor-saving machine. Hunt’s original plans, however, were never patented by either the inventor or the would-be manufacturer — allowing Isaac Singer to eventually capitalize on the design with his Singer Sewing Machine. Hunt filed a law suit against the company, and after years of arguing his case in court, he was finally awarded $50,000, in 1858 — but he passed away less than a year later, and before any payments were made.

Walter Hunt never realized the significance of his ideas. At least, not until it was too late. And even when he did, he was too quick to abandon them. Such was the case of the safety pin: he thought little of the design. He needed money to settle a $15 debt with a friend, so he hastily invented a simple wire clasp, and immediately sold the patent for $400 to W.R. Grace and Company — which eventually netted millions of dollars from sales of the safety pin!

Hunt’s seemingly insignificant design is still in production today. Lesson learned: the shortsighted inventor had great ideas, but he never fully followed through on any of them.

It’s important in any endeavor to have faith in your ideas and to believe in your dreams. All dreams begin with an idea, whether great and one of a kind, or more run of the mill. Unfortunately, most people who get ideas never act on them!

Ideas must be developed, researched, shaped, nurtured, explored, and … implemented! Good ideas are a dime a dozen. But the resolve to implement good ideas is rare indeed. Every minute of every day, someone somewhere reads a new book, listens to a new song, or sees a new product or service — and exclaims, “I had that idea!” However, like the could-have-been rich and famous inventor, Walter Hunt, they never took the proper steps to implement their idea! And having a good idea counts for very little in the worlds of art, science, and innovation.

As valuable as good ideas are, being a good implementer is worth far more. A dream will remain just that, until you take steps to implement your ideas and achieve your goals.

Perhaps you once had a great idea, and circumstances kept you from developing it. We’ve all been there. Sometimes we simply lack the money, or the connections, or the know-how to make our dreams come true. If this once happened to you, don’t look back on your lost opportunity in sorrow. Focus on the future! Get a fresh perspective. Set new goals. Get a new vision. Develop new plans. Dream again! But take positive steps to implement your plans and ideas, and stay focused! Stick to one thing.

Follow the example of the Apostle Paul, who stated, “…I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race….” (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT) Don’t let your opportunities get away. Stay in hot pursuit of your dreams.

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You’re NOT Butter! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Anyone remember those amusing TV commercials for Parkay margarine? If you don’t, watch this 30-second spot featuring NFL great “Deacon” Jones.

In every Parkay commercial, whenever someone lifted the lid, the yellow tub of margarine would debate its identity. The consumer would argue with the yellow suff in the container, proclaiming it “Parkay!”; but Parkay’s rejoinder was also the same: “Butter!”

After the consumer tastes the margarine, he or she would nod, agree that Parkay was smooth and creamy, so it must be true: it IS butter. But hey, just because something looks like butter, even tastes like butter, does not necessarily mean it is butter. Butter is butter! Made by contented cows with big brown eyes. Margarine, on the other hand, is a synthetic mixture engineered in a laboratory to approximate the qualities of the real deal. Personally, we’d rather put our trust in cows, not chemists!

All this, however, is beside the point. In these Parkay commercials, that poor yellow tub of margarine had an identity crisis. It wanted to be viewed as butter! Did it really believe it was butter? Nope. At the end of each TV spot, once the consumer gave in and agreed it was butter, the obstinate little yellow tub would tauntingly purr, “Parkay.”

Humor us for a moment. What precisely was Parkay’s problem? It knew it was margarine and not butter. Yet it wanted to be considered butter. Aha! Deep down, Parkay was feeling a little inferior. It wasn’t, after all, the real deal. But then, only butter is the genuine article. But did that make Parkay inferior? Did Parkay serve a special purpose in people’s diets? (Have we totally lost our minds?)

There are countless people in society who suffer a similar identity crisis. Like Parkay, they feel a little inferior to someone else. They go around competing with their friends, family, coworkers — and stubbornly try to convince the world they’re someone they’re not. Each of these people are unique in their own special way. And, like Parkay, they were created to fill a role only they themselves can fill. And yet, like the poor little tub of margarine, they’re not comfortable with who they are. Why?

For many people, their identity is tied to external factors; and they wrongly base their self-worth or significance on accomplishments, associations, and possessions. Let’s briefly examine these factors. Identity and self-worth have nothing to do with:

1)  What we do. Jobs, career positions, sports, academic achievements, hobbies, and even ministries do not define us. What happens if (when) these functions are taken away? Do we lose our significance? Not in God’s eyes: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart….” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV)

2)  What we have. Owning stuff seems to confer status in our materialistic society. But big houses, fancy cars, and lots of “toys” can never really satisfy the inner longings we have. To quote the old Beatles song, “Money can’t buy me love.” Each of us has a God-sized hole in our spirits and no amount of stuff can fill it — only our Lord can do that! “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)  “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NLT)

3)  Nor is our worth based on social standards or the opinions of the “in crowd.” All that matters is what God has to say about us in His Word. His standards are what we’re measured by: “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14 NASB) Furthermore, “…God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11 NLT)

“…God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT) Friends, don’t try to be something or someone you’re not. We don’t have to compare or compete with anyone. We each have our own unique identity — and infinite value, because we’re each worth the death of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ! We each were placed on this planet by God’s design … and in His wisdom. He doesn’t make mistakes.

Be the person God made you to be. Be confident in His love and acceptance. Find significance in Him, the Creator of the Universe, and in His plan for your life. It’s not WHAT you do that counts, it’s WHY that’s important:

“…Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 King James 2000)

You’re NOT butter, you’re better!

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