Do Little Things a Long Time – Aug. 6

brown mustard seeds, indian spice
Guest writer:  Jerrie Barber @ newshepherdsorientation.com

JESUS SAID FAITH as a mustard seed could move a mountain:

Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20).

I’ve found that principle helpful and now I’m enjoying the benefits of it.

For nearly three years, I’ve been reading aloud a chapter from the Bible at the beginning of each day. That doesn’t get me through the Bible in a year. However, I haven’t missed a day since starting September 17, 2017. Not much. But daily it adds up.

In the fall semester of 1964, I took Speech 101 under Dr. David Thomas at Freed-Hardeman. One of our projects during that course was to collect twenty-five illustrations typed on 4” x 6” cards.

  • At the top on the left-hand side was the topic.
  • In the middle was the text of the illustration.
  • Following that was the source.
I thought that was a good habit to cultivate. I haven’t stopped in the last fifty-six years. For the first five years, it wasn’t helpful. Rarely would I find something I could use. Later, occasionally I’d see a good illustration. After about ten years, it’s value increased. For the past decades, compound interest has been paying high dividends. After buying a scanner in 2012, I scanned six file drawers of collected illustrations in PDF files and have them backed up on the web. Being able to search for them is terrific. I’m thankful to Dr. Thomas for introducing me to a practice in 1964 that continues to bless my life. At first, it wasn’t much. But after several decades, it has grown to something valuable.

In June 1967, I bought You Can Memorize God’s Word, by Marlin S. Hoffman for $1.00 at 20th Century Christian in Nashville. I started following the routine: a systematic method of memorizing scripture. I did that five days a week for decades. I’ve now reduced the repetition to two times a week. I learned I couldn’t continue to add habits and still sleep each night. I no longer call it memorizing. I call it “mental jogging.” I don’t remember as much as I did when I started more than fifty years ago, but it’s still helpful. It doesn’t take long. But a half a century of this investment has paid compound interest. I can study the Bible driving or running without a Bible in my hand. That purchase was one of the best dollars I ever spent.

At a young age, someone encouraged me to buy United States Saving Bonds. I went to the Post Office, received a book, and bought stamps 25¢ at a time. When the book was full, $18.75, I received a bond that was worth $25.00 at maturity. 25¢ wasn’t much to invest. But when Gail and I decided to get married in 1964, I had enough in savings bonds to buy her engagement ring from Service Merchandise in Nashville. It was a good investment, a great return for investments of 25¢ over several years.

After getting married, I delayed getting the saving habit again. I saved a couple hundred dollars. I traded cars. When I was making the loan, I asked Mr. Smith at the First National Bank in Centerville if it would be better to borrow the full amount or take the $200.00 in my saving account and borrow less money. He told me that was my decision. I liquidated my saving account.

I was a slow learner. It occurred to me after doing that another time or two if I didn’t save money and not spend it, I would never have any money saved. About 1978, I started saving each month. It wasn’t much. But after being consistent for forty years, it’s made a difference. There’s a quote attributed to Albert Einstein, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.” From my research, it’s doubtful that Einstein said it. But there’s truth in the observation.

And compound interest works on things other than money — doing a little amount of a good thing consistently for decades will pay big dividends.

After returning from a gospel meeting and a week’s vacation in 1969, the pants to my suit wouldn’t button. I could either lose weight or buy more clothes. Losing weight was cheaper. I started running. For ten years, I didn’t like it. I did it because I thought I ought to. In the winter of 1978, I read James Fixx’s book, The Complete Book of Running. For the past forty-one years, I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve been running two to five days a week, taking off a week or two periodically. I think that’s contributed to my good health. When I go to a new town, the police stop and ask about my barefoot running.

They usually ask two questions:

  1. “Sir, do you realize you don’t have on any shoes.” My reply, “Oh, no. I knew I left something at home.”
  2. Question #2: “Are you alright?” I tell them, “My name is Jerrie Barber. I’m from Nashville, Tennessee. I’m 75 years old. I’ve been running 51 years. Since March 2010, I’ve been running barefoot. If I felt better when I was 20, I don’t remember it.” I’m receiving compound interest on a half-century of exercise.

When I bought my first computer in March 1985, I’d never used a computer — no classes, no book of instruction, nothing. My ignorance was overwhelming. I decided on a plan. I determined to learn one new thing a day. Some days I’d tell Mary Rose Threet, our secretary at Central Church of Christ in Dalton, Georgia, “I’ve learned one new thing about operating my computer today. I’m going home before I get confused.” That helped me learn to use that computer with a twenty-meg hard drive and every computer I’ve owned since then.

I started to consider switching to the Apple system in 2009. Every time I encountered a Best-Buy or Apple store, I would look and ask questions. When I bought my first iMac in August 2011, I knew I was learning something new and needed to proceed slowly. I set up my Toshiba laptop beside my new Apple. I tried to learn one new thing a day. It was painless. I was successful in not learning much each day. After several months, I’d learned enough that I no longer needed my laptop. The last PC we gave up was one we used to run Quicken to do personal and business banking accounts. I continued to read reviews on Amazon about how horrible Quicken was on the Mac. A few years ago at the FHU Lectureship, I asked Dan Winkler what he used on his Mac to keep financial records. He quickly and confidently answered, “Quicken.” I bought it. Gail and I have used it since that time and we’ve been pleased.

These principles have been helpful:

  • Select an area where you want to improve.
  • Don’t do so much you’re overwhelmed — try not to do very much. A “mustard seed” will be enough.
  • Keep it up for several decades.
  • Adjust. Be willing to decrease something to add another investment in time, effort, or money.
  • Stay ignorant and hungry for growth.
  • Be persistent. Wisdom is gained by praying (James 1:5) and working for wisdom like you work for money and search for it as you search for valuable buried treasure. Proverbs 2:1-5
  • Compound interest may be the 8th Wonder of the World, even if Einstein didn’t say it. Compound interest works in more areas than money.

But what if you are 50, 60, or 70+ years old?

Start now. You’ll never be younger than you are today!  Used with Permission

“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike

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