“if you only do what you can do, you will never …

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For those of you tired of living in the same rut, tired of losing the same battles, and finding your hopes of a future, better you slipping away, then consider these wise words of Master Shifu from “Kung Fu Panda #3”:  “if you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now.”

Let me ask you my friend a few questions for you to answer on your own:

  • what new things have you tried in the past 6 months?
  • what new book have you read in the past 6 months?
  • what have you tried in the past 6 months that was outside of your comfort zone?
  • what kind of person do you want to be in 6 months that would be different than who you are now?
  •                           (what will you do to help you be that person?)

(what other person can you ask to help you be that person?)

 

So, what’s going to change in your life, starting tomorrow?

“boy, I would really like to have …”……..and why is that?

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As I was driving around this weekend, doing some errands, I saw a really nice car for sale.  The type of car doesn’t really matter, but suffice it to say, it is a luxury car that has always had an appeal to me.

As I saw this car, instinctively, I heard myself say, “boy, I would really like to have that car”.   Then, my prosecuting attorney voice in my head quickly replied, “and why is that?”

Which came a prompt reply:  “so,…I would feel good about myself?

“Really?” The prosecutor said.

“yeah, and maybe also, people would see me as successful?”

As I heard this discussion going on in my head, all within seconds, I thought this conversation is just  really one of habit. I don’t think, where I’m at in my relationship with God, that getting a nice car to feel good about myself or to convey an image of success are what I believe, or strive for.  But, in hindsight, it was interesting to observe how quickly those thoughts came in to my head.

I guess it would be similar to wanting to be angry if someone cuts me off in the car.  It would be the same if a very attractive woman were to seductively appear before more.    The temptations would come, but my hope would be in either of those situations that I would quickly counter the temptation with truth.

And so, right after the initial conversation in my head about the car and my motives for wanting one, I started to camp out on Biblical verses of truth for which I found a surge of confidence developing. These truths are really what I believe and I’m good with that.

The truth is that:

  • I should not love the things of the world – 1 John 2:15-17
  • I should not conform to the things of this world – Romans 12:1-2
  • That, although there is nothing wrong with having nice things, I should not covet them, or be jealous of others who possess them – Deuteronomy 5:21
  • I should seek first the Kingdom of God and not be anxious over the things of this world- Matthew 6:26-34
  • That I should discern and prioritize about things that are temporary and things that are eternal – Matthew 6:19-24
  • That I should recognize that having Kingdom of God values will put me in opposition to someone who values only what this world offers, in fact, I will appear as someone who is foolish 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

These verses really just came to me, and were top of mind.  If I wanted to, I could probably spend hours looking in the Bible for additional verses similar to these.

With that thought in mind, I felt a heavenly contentment that made me feel good about myself because I knew I could be contented in life simply because of my relationship with Jesus Christ, apart from anything I might come to own.

 

How about you?  Like a fish having bait dangled before it, is there some kind of “bait” that is just dangling in front of you that makes you think if you just had …. , your life would be complete and satisfying?

Really, would more money, or that one dream car, or dream house, or dream amount in your 401K, or dream guy, or dream girl, or dream job, … ever really satisfy you in a lasting way?  My friend, it won’t .

I believe you will most likely  experience a temporary rush if you get that dream ___, but it won’t last.

There will always be new bait dangled before you.

Only a vibrant relationship with the living and loving God will satisfy

What is your “DISTANCE TO EMPTY”?

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In my car, on the dashboard, I have a prompt that shows me how many miles I have left before I run out of gas.  In fact, I will even get a blinking light if I’m getting too low on fuel.

As I was staring at this prompt the other day, I thought what an applicable message   “Distance to Empty” is to so many areas of life.  What I mean is this:  I have believed for many years that one of the most neglected areas of self-management is the lack of time people spend on evaluating how their life is doing according to the vision they have for it.

Tell me if the following has any resemblance to your life:   The day starts out and a person gets on the fast track of life. They gobble down something that they count as a breakfast, then rush to work, survive the fast-paced demands and stresses of the job, battle traffic home, then, either rush off to some kind of extra-curricular activity for our children, and/or some church activity,  OR just VEG on the couch at home in front of the TV, and then go to bed>>>only to start the same pattern the following day.  Sound familiar?

Too often, I find life can be a mindless, habit of activities, which goes on basically the same, day after day, year after year.  But one day, we stop in our tracks and we say to ourselves, “where did the time go?”  or “I can’t believe my children are all grown up” or “I’ve had enough of this certain habit/addiction, I’ve got to stop”.

My point is that I believe we would all greatly benefit in our personal life (and even organizations would too), if we be more intentional about taking the time to evaluate our current circumstances and the future “destinations” or goals we have for the different areas of our responsibilities.

Success in any area of life does not just happen. There needs to be thought given and actions taken to make your dreams come true.  

What I have also found is that in the hard work of executing a goal and seeing a victory occur in your life, there needs to be times of rest–a time of regrouping, of making adjustments, of being re-energized, a time to refocus.  If you are taking a long distance car trip, you won’t be able to make it on one tank of gas. You will need to get some gas eventually, probably a few times.

It’s the same with us. Life is a journey and you too, need to find  intentional times to refuel.  Bur, first, you need to really understand that principle.  You need to realize you can’t keep on living full-throttle, pedal to the metal. You need to understand and anticipate you will need to plan on taking a rest stop.  How much longer do you have before you are on empty?

Whether we are talking about your emotional health, your physical health, your spiritual health, if you are not careful, you will come to a time where things will just come to a screeching halt, or another description would be that you will just burn out.

Be careful my friend. 

Take the time while you can to be intentional about monitoring your own “distance to empty”  warning signals (stress, irritability, lack of sleep, making mistakes, etc.) and refuel while you can.

As you do, you will be happier, more successful, and more satisfied with your journeying on through this life.

Christian, are you thinking too much of “vacation”?

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I recently took a short vacation to my daughter’s  house in another state.

I had a wonderful time with her and my son-in-law, and two grandchildren.  As I was driving home, which would take many hours in the car, I had lots of time to reflect.

I enjoyed not having to wake up at any time, or go to bed at any reasonable time.

I enjoyed eating out and seeing new things.

As I was thinking about this good time, my mind drifted to other vacations I have taken. 

I have enjoyed the beaches of Florida.

I have enjoyed the rocky coasts of Oregon and Washington.

I have enjoyed the awesomeness of Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.

So,what’s my point?  (there is a clue in each of the lines listed above).  It’s that I tend to “grade” vacations as to what they meant to me.  (notice the frequency of “I” in the statements above).   What do I want to do?  Where do I want to go? What is fun to me? .etc.   Its like having a party mindset, where all that is important is about my having a good time. 

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not an extremist. I mentioned earlier that I enjoy taking vacations. In fact, I would go so far as to think that vacations are necessary for all of us, so that our bodies and minds can be rested and re-energized and we can balance out all the stresses that we experience in our every day lives.

So, again, what’s my point with this post?  Well, as I was driving back from my daughter’s house, I had lots of time to think about vacations. I thought much about how enjoyable they can be and how I can desire more of them. In fact,  retirement (about 10-15 years away) stirs up in my mind a “promise land” dream  of 24/7 365 days a year, vacation

As I was thinking through these thoughts and my emphasis on “I”, something  just didn’t seem to feel quite right.  Why all the emphasis on me?   As a Christian, I understand  I should be concerned about others also.

I have learned over the years that life tends to be most orderly when then there is some kind of balance,, not a strict one-sided point of view.

As I thought further about this whole concept of taking vacations (with the idea of taking vacations and enjoying my retirement as the ultimate “vacation mindset”—a dream so many people have), I thought what is the opposite of the pursuit of the R & R  perspective.  What does having balance look like on this topic?

For one, I thought that there are many people who don’t have the finances to be able to take vacations, which produced a feeling of gratefulness that I have been able to take, actually many enjoyable vacations.  (It was also a bit humbling to see how easily I can take things for granted).

I also found myself thinking about a Bible verse that says,  “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies so the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence  on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.”   Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 nlt

Now, that verse was kind of shocking huh and quite the opposite of a vacation-mindset, right?

But, that’s the point.  I want to be wise, rather than foolish.  I would think we all do.   I want to live a life that’s “better” and who better to give advice on how we should live it than the creator and sustainer of life- God?

Now, I don’t think the verses mentioned above suggest that we should be just hanging out at funeral homes.  But, what I do think it is talking about is that “it is better” to live life embracing the sobering realities of this life.  People die.  People have accidents. People have unfortunate things happen to them.  Life is not all about our having fun.   Enjoyment of things has its place, no doubt, but I believe life will become more meaningful to us when we are engaged with others, standing by them during the tough times of life–when we are ministering to them.

To live in this grace-filled kind of way is a testimony of God’s working in us.  It’s an evidence of our understanding that we realize life is not all about us.

Jesus Christ is an example to me regarding living this life out in balance.  He clearly lived a life on behalf others.  His life’s mission was that He should serve, not be served.  His life was about sacrificial ministry to others.

But, at one time, while ministering, He heard about the terrible death of His friend, John the Baptist.   The Bible says, “When Jesus hears what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”  Matthew 14:13a NIV).

Jesus needed time away. He needed, if you will, a vacation.   This time away was not an event He planned on with the goal of His having fun, it was a provision that He took advantage of to support His true life’s purpose -serving others and being about His Father’s work for Him.    I think that is a good pattern for my life as well.

So, the question I must answer (and you, too), if I want to maximize my time on earth, should I be moving more in the direction of pursuing my own fun, and striving after a vacation kind of lifestyle or should I believe God’s Word that says it is better to have a sober mindset that should motivate me to be not only aware of the needs of others, but also willing to sacrifice my pleasures to meet those needs?   It is a radical change of mind that is driven by a “it’s not about me” attitude.  Understanding that, I recognize that view can only come by the grace of God because few, if any people would be so selfless.

To have this other-centered mindset will be hard work, but I seek to faithfully give my best effort to living with a God-centered, eternal mindset.  It will make the vacations that I do take all the more enjoyable.

Blessings.

“Tell the truth and keep out of debt”, but what happens when…

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I find it so easy to envision how my future is going to play out.  Whether its with my kids, or plans my wife and I have, or about our finances.  But, you know what, rarely do things ever turn out the way I plan.

Its one thing to have expectations and its altogether another thing for those expectations not to happen.  In fact, when our hopes are dashed, life can get extremely hard.

And when other people disappoint us or are the ones who shatter our dreams, it is all too easy to inject the poison of bitterness and unforgiveness into our heart.

Over the years, there have been just a few messages that I have heard that have struck me as so powerful and applicable that I have passed them on to you in this blog.  This is one of those messages.  This is a talk from Sheila Walsh at James River Church in Springfield, Missouri (a God-honoring, exciting church) on October 16th, 2016.

Forgiveness

It is primarily a message of hope that comes through the difficult stages of pain and forgiveness.

If I can ask you to trust me on this one, please listen to this message.  It will take an initial  40 minutes of your time that could result in a life-changing trajectory for you.

 

(https://jamesriver.org/sermon/forgiveness)

“Well, was it worth it?” (guys, you never want to hear those words)

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“So I was flipping : basketball, click,  golf, click,  fishing show,  click,  infomercial, click, girls dancing in bikinis on a beach—hold on a second. And I hesitated. After lingering on that channel  for several seconds, with my mind wandering a bit (not to mention my eyes)…… a few minutes later, Amy came  out of the bathroom. She walked over to me where I was sitting on the bed and sat down facing me. She didn’t say anything at first. ….Finally, Amy broke the silence, “why did you  hesitate  on that one channel?”  I could hear the hurt in her voice. …I couldn’t maintain eye contact with her.

She reached  out and put  her hand  under my chin, gently raising  my head until our eyes met again. I could see  that her eyes were wet, swollen  with tears that hadn’t fallen yet…. Then,  she asked  me a question I’ll never  forget for as  long as I live. She asked  quietly, “well, ..was it worth it?”

 

This is just one section of Craig Groeschel’s very enjoyable (insightful, and challenging) book, called “From this day forward”.    Written with the help of his wife, Amy,  they provide practical, instructional help for helping marriages not only survive, but thrive.

 

Considering how important a good marriage is, this book is well-worth reading.

 

 

It’s time to let the past go ….its time to live in freedom

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I believe firmly in the truth of the Bible and its teachings on issues of both eternal and temporal issues.

For example, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says: “there is no temptation that has overtaken you that as such, is not common to all men, but God is faithful and will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape.”

Why do I bring this up?  Well, a few nights ago, I was having an uneventful evening and thoughts came to my mind from 40 years ago.  I had thoughts of regrettable things that happened forty years ago. The thoughts seemed so real, so current. I dwelled on them for only about 15 seconds or so, and then the truth came to my mind that these events were not current. The way I acted then was not how I am now. The events playing out in my mind were from 40 years ago and I am a  different man than I was then.  I needed to remind myself of that fact.

As I further thought about what just happened, I recognized that it sounded familiar to me.  In fact, a friend of mine recently told me how he was having thoughts of some indiscretions he had, years and years ago, and how it was confusing his mind.

I further thought of someone I know that was involved in some horrific things many years ago. He fought in a war.  His mind  relives often many tragic events he experienced over fifty years ago. As he dwells on his past,  he carries the heavy load of guilt, stress, and regret.  Events from his past continue to tempt him to act as though they are still happening today.  However, the truth is they are not.

My point in this post is that it is a common thing for all of us to be overtaken by events from our past.  It is not unusual for any of us to relive our memories, but doing so is rarely helpful.

God’s desire is to demonstrate his faithfulness and provide a way of escape for each of us from past memories that seek to torment us.

Let me ask you a personal question:  Do you find yourself frequently dealing with your past as though these events are happening today?

If so, let me encourage you to trust in God and His way of escape for you. He desires you to be free.

He offers mercy and forgiveness from our past actions.

He offers His help (His grace) in the choices we have today.

and He gives us hope to motivate us as we think on our future.

 

God is faithful.  He is a living and loving God.

Do you personally know Him in this way?

Are you relying on Him to carry your burdens from both the past (and the present), which you have been trying to handle yourself for too long?
IT’S TIME TO LET YOUR PAST, STAY IN THE PAST.    IT’S TIME TO LIVE IN FREEDOM!