What do you think the husband was thinking when the doors were closed?

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If you are ever in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, let me recommend visiting the Billy Graham Museum.  For me, it was a pleasure and just fascinating  to marvel at the impact that this very humble man, empowered by a single life ambition (to tell of the amazing grace of God) had on millions and millions of people.

Speaking of impact, while I was there I heard the following true story that still leaves me deeply stirred.

A husband and wife were taking a trip to Charlotte.  He wanted to make it special for her. So, he told her that whatever she wanted to do, they would do.

Being a Christian (he was not), she exclaimed that she would like to go to the Billy Graham museum.  “Are you sure?  Would you like to do something else?” he asked her with a hope she would change her mind.

“Nope. That is what I’d like to do”, she said.

“okay”, he agreed.

In the final room of the museum, there is a powerful message from various crusades from Billy Graham, which are shown with an invitation given for all to  receive the free gift of salvation  through Jesus’ death on the cross.

After the invitation was given, a door automatically opened up where some lighted crosses could be seen, along with a heavenly kind of image.  The wife  walked through the door, but when the doors closed, her husband was not behind her.

Her husband had stayed in the room while the invitation was being given and was unaware his wife had left the room without him.  By the time, he got up, the lights had gone out, and the door was closed.  There were no handles on the door and the man realized he had been left behind.

The wife, alarmed that her husband was not with her, got some staff help to open the door to the room her husband was in.  When the door was opened, they found the husband with his head bowed down and weeping.

The dramatic impact of realizing that what had happened in the room moments ago, where he was separated from his wife, could really be true, but for all eternity shocked him and brought him to the place where he believed the truth that now is the day of salvation and that there are no second chances.  He understood the eternal danger of delaying making a decision today to accept Jesus’ death on a cross as a payment for his sins. He knew he needed right then to get right with God (and he did).

I love that story.  I hope you recognize the same truth that the husband did. How utterly horrible it will be for anyone who comes to that awful awareness that he is standing outside of Heaven when the gates are closed.

What about you?  If something tragic were to happen to you today, would you be entering through the gates of Heaven knowing that you have given your life to Jesus Christ by simply believing in what He did for you on a cross, or would you be on the outside, fighting through all your fears and meaningless efforts to justify your own goodness?

My prayer is that today, if you haven’t already, you would recognize that “God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life”.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith and not of yourself. For it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.”

 

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Hey, can you help me move a piano?

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Years before the digital revolution where lightweight, portable electronic keyboards are now common, many of us have had large, and very heavy pianos in our house.

There was no way they could be moved by one individual, so the plea was made to family and friends for help.

I thought about this “getting help from friends” request  because I’ve run into several people lately that have been going through some very difficult, heavy times and when I’ve talked further with them about their experiences, they’ve commented back to me that they are not really close to anyone.  In the midst of being emotionally overwhelmed, they are having to make sense of a very difficult situation on their own.   I feel for them.  Not surprising to me is that each of the people I’ve talked to have been men.  Quite typically, as guys, we just have this “isolate ourselves from others” mentality.  It’s really not a good thing

Guys, that kind of mindset might work in the short-term, actually for years.  However, eventually, there will come a time of crisis where the load is just too heavy to handle on our own.  I’m mentioning this now  in hopes that if you are reading this post and  have no one else in your life that you can be utterly transparent with, I want to strongly encourage you to take a step of faith and try to connect with some other person, of the same gender and have someone to walk through life with you.

Over this past year, I’ve mentioned to you often in posts that I’ve created an app that is meant to not only help you identify your own personal goals,  but also in this app, there is a very cool feature.  It’s a dashboard that allows you to text or e-mail  a friend in a snapshot kind of way how you are doing in all the areas of your responsibilities.

I have used this Dashboard so often with others and found it to be incredibly helpful.   And when I see a “red” area in a friend’s text, we deal with it.   That’s what friends do for each other, right!

If you have been doing life alone, or you understand that a close friend of yours has been doing the “isolate” thing, let me encourage you to try this app.  Do it with a friend.

For less than a Starbucks special coffee, I truly believe you will not regret the cost of using this resource to help you and a friend share in the heavy lifting of life.

To check out the app:

You can visit  either the App Store (for IPhones)     https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.I

Google Play Store- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FoundationsLifeCoach.Foundations&hl=en ;
www.foundationslifecoach.com

 

 

Do you have “tourists” going to your church? (Are you one of them?)

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Recently, I wrote a post encouraging people to read one of my favorite books, “Gospel Treason” by Brad Bigney.

In that book, there is a very thought-provoking passage in there from Elyse Fitzpatrick describing how going to church for many people is like a European vacation that she went on:

“A number of years ago, my husband and I had the wonderful opportunity to vacation in Europe. In about three an a half weeks we visited thirteen different nations. When we’d enter a country, we’d get our passports stamped, exchange currencies, learn a few key phrases, and then off we’d go to visit the natives. We’d walk through outdoor markets , peruse museums, sample the cuisine. We’d exchange a few niceties with the locals, sit on the steps of cathedrals, watch the life of the town go by, take a picture or two, and purchase a little something to remind us of our time there, and then we were off. We had a wonderful vacation. Our hearts weren’t changed in any significant ways by our little visits, but then they weren’t meant to be. We were tourists. It seems to me that what I’ve just described is very close to many people’s understanding of the congregational life of the local church. On any given Sunday or better yet, Saturday night, many tourists can be found in church. They pop in for forty-five minutes or an hour, sing a chorus or two, exchange niceties with the locals: “Hi! How are you?” “Fine!” “How are you ?” “Fine! Nice Fellowshipping. With you!” They sample some of the local cuisine, they might purchase a book or CD to remind them of their visit, and then they race to their cars to get to their favorite restaurant before the rush or home before the game. For many people, church is simply a place to go to once a week . It’s about being a tourist, and our land is filled with tourist-friendly churches. Pop in, pop out, do your religious thing, catch ya later!”

I’d like to ask you to be honest. Does that in any way describe you?
I’m not saying that going to church makes you a Christian, any more than your going to a football game makes you a football player.

But one thing your church attendance does is reveal something about your attitude and beliefs about the importance (and understanding) of your relationship with God (and your own spiritual health).

If you are not a regular church attendee, please be careful:
Proverbs 18:1 says a that “a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire”
Hebrews 10:25 says “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but come together and look for ways to stir one another. Up to love and good deeds.”

Let me encourage you this week to get to church and while there, ask yourself whether you are a tourist, or a local (one of the native peoples) ?
After asking yourself that question, try two more: would God be pleased with my answer to that last question.

Lastly, in what specific ways, can I get more involved at my local church?

“Gospel Treason”—-trust me on this one

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Ever since I submitted my life to the lordship of Jesus Christ back in June of 1982, I have been involved in numerous Bible studies and have been a voracious reader.

Some of the readers of my blog know me well, for some others, you are beginning to better understand my heart and mind as you read through these posts.

All that said, I’m asking you to trust me on this one and take my advice: read the book “Gospel Treason” by Brad Bigney.

To say that God has used this book in my own spiritual growth and in the lives of those in a small group I attend would be a big understatement.

It really is that good.

A huge influence on my life once said that if you are looking to grow in your walk with God….if you really want it (Him) to mean something, moving beyond just “feeling or acting religious”, then strive to know God better and honestly, strive to get to know your self better.

Reading this book will help you in both ways. Trust me—read it.

I am certain, these guys were not talking about…

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Its hard to believe, another Summer is nearly over. Time just seems to move along so quickly.

One of the highlights from these past few months was a men’s gathering in the beautiful woods of Michigan.  I believe about 1500 men descended on the campground for the weekend.  This church sponsored event was called “Palooza” and it was an incredible time.
I’ve thought about that gathering a lot over these past few months,  and one of the most frequent thoughts that comes to my mind is that the focus of our corporate times was not in comparing our accommodations. When we met in a large group, our discussion did not tend to be about the size of our tent, or RV, or the fanciness of our grill back at the campsite.  In other words, the focus of our weekend was not about our stuff.  We were there to enjoy meaningful fellowship with other guys, and to benefit in many different ways from time spent over the weekend worshiping the living and loving God and to be challenged, and encouraged by passionate messages inspired by God’s Word–the Bible.
Both on Saturday night watching a special fireworks display, and Sunday morning, as we gathered one last time for a time of worship and hearing a Bible-related message, I would look around and see the expressions of men, young and old who were impacted by their experience that weekend.  It was truly a special time.
So, what’s the point in all this?
I believe living our lives should be similar to the weekend I just described.  Because we are all unique and our preferences, and circumstances vary so much, we will all live with different stuff. Some people will be able to enjoy very nice, and expensive things—good for them.   Other people, who don’t have as much money or just choose to live in a more simple kind of way, will find contentment with very modest resources–good for them.
I’m not sure of all the reasons why our culture focuses so much on “STUFF’,  rather than on the much greater experiences of enjoying deep relationships with others and seeking frequent worship of God. Just to clarify this last point, “frequent worship of God”,  I don’t mean being at church a lot every time the doors open,  though regular attendance at church is important.  What I’m referring to is keeping Him top of mind throughout the day, so that you understand He is the One responsible for  your life.  He is the Creator of if and the Sustainer of it.
Rather than being freaked out by acknowledging that our lives, including our thoughts and intentions are always transparent before Him, we should take great satisfaction in knowing that He cares so much for us and loves us so much.
At this Summer’s Palooza, I met a man who actually came to the event with no housing plans at all. Understanding that, I invited him to join us on our site, and if need be, and I was ready to share my pop up tent with him.  As things turned out, he was able to get sleeping accommodations in a mini-cabin.   Would I have been a little uncomfortable sharing a kind of cramped 2 man tent–yep.   But, that feeling would have been totally compensated by knowing that I helped a person in need.
Today, as you do life, let me encourage you to examine your own life and to pursue the things that are of highest importance.  Enjoy all the things that you have, but take some time to ask yourself if you are distracted in any way from really experiencing this precious thing called life because of your focus on STUFF?  Again, it’s not a question of how quality is your stuff, or how much you have (or don’t have), but rather if you are spending more time thinking about it, than on the deeper things of relationships with others and with God.  Seek to live your life without any regrets!

Goal-oriented people, you are going to love this

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Those of you who are goal-oriented individuals, you know who you are, you are going to relate well to this post.  You are the type of person that will see a problem that needs attention and quickly a picture will develop in your mind so that you get a vision of bringing solutions to resolve the issue.

Once your mind sees the finish line, the bread crumbs of steps seems to materialize in your brain, so that a road map occurs that lines up what mini-goals you need to accomplish, in order to complete the end goal.   The world needs people like you to provide leadership.

In addition to receiving the vision of how to get things done, the goal-oriented individual  is energized by checking off each mini-goal along the way.  endorphins in the brain produce happy feelings.

I share this description of a goal-oriented person from personal experience. I am a goal-oriented person.   If this describes you, as well, let me give you a caution though that you will battle, as I do too, all the time.

Let me illustrate my point in all this by having you think of a couple of dancing. They are enjoying the music. They are enjoying each other. They know how to dance, so they are comfortable as they glide in unity across the dance floor.  It’s a beautiful, romantic vision of two people in the moment.

This dancing scene describes well the person bent on living with goals.  They embrace their goals.  They live with them always on their mind.  They glide through life having direction for where they will move and how they will move. Life, like the music at the dance hall has a rhythm to it and they enjoy their dance with their “having goals” partner.  Can you relate to that?  

BUT, ….. what happens when you get tapped on the shoulder, and someone says to you, “Excuse me, can I cut in with your partner for this dance?”

NOW YOUR PLANS HAVE CHANGED.  THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU EXPECTED.  WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW?  HOW SHOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT WHAT JUST HAPPENED?  DID YOU DO SOMETHING WRONG?  IS THIS A THREAT?  WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW THAT YOUR EMBRACING YOUR GOALS HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY SET ASIDE?

Can you relate to the change in the mindset of the person whose plans were just changed without his permission?

I think this is how life is.   We have our goals in how we want to live our life.  We feel comfortable being in control of our movements and our abilities, but then, as so often happens, things change in our life.  New, unexpected things happen in our circumstances that break up the way we were dancing through life.  At least for the moment, we are asked to deal with a new circumstance.

How can you deal with that?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • recognize that this is a common experience for us all. As much as we hate to admit it, we are not in control in our lives.  We can’t control the weather or how other people will respond to us, or the unexpected health situation,  etc.   However, we can control how we will react in every circumstance in our lives.
  • I don’t know of anyone who does not like to be in control, so how do you handle that feeling of insecurity that comes when life happens to you and your plans for living life get interrupted?  Understand that God is faithful. He will not allow you to be overcome by ANYTHING that He will not help you endure through.  Count on it.  Although the way of healing or calm might not be a quick fix, He will be there with you every step of the way and give you His amazing grace to help you persevere.  There is always hope!
  • recognize the opportunities that come with being stretched.  I believe over the years, regrettably, I have missed out on many opportunities for personal growth, and the chance to help someone in need around me, but because I so firmly had my “goal-focused” glasses on, all I could think of was myself. My obsession with meeting my own goals blinded me to many missed opportunities around me.  Maybe your new circumstances might just be a good thing—embrace it!
  • So, although I totally believe having goals is vital to personal and organizational success, I am also beginning to recognize that when the unexpected happens in life  (like someone wanting to cut in and dance with my partner),  I need to ask questions like, “what can I learn from this new development?” or “how can I take advantage of this new situation to enjoy and benefit from it?”  or “Lord, what are you trying to teach me through these new circumstances in my life?”

That’s it for now.    I delayed getting some things done this morning to write this post, so now I’m back to dancing with my goals partner!  🙂

 

“Is this water going to be refreshing or bad for me”?

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Many of the posts I write about have to do with perspective.  I believe its because of the perspective we have on things that cause us to act like we do.  One of my favorite things are M&M’s.   When I see a bowl of M&M’s, I know  that as soon as I scoop up my first handful, a smile will come to my taste buds and I will feel happier.  That’s weird to say that, huh? (although I’m sure you can probably relate).

However, like eating one potato chip (I don’t think its possible), one handful of M&M’s is nearly impossible for me to do.

I think one scoop will satisfy, but it won’t. So, I take another one, and another.  Pretty soon, my happy feelings turn into a kind of yucky feeling.

I think life is like that.  We all face so many choices throughout our days and its the wisdom of our perspective that makes all the difference between having a deep feeling of contentment, or “need for more attitude that leads to yuckiness”.

Recently, I was reminded of this “perspective in our choices” kind of issue after reading  Brad Bigney’s excellent book, “Gospel Treason”.  Here are a few notes from it that I took:

-God doesn’t just give you satisfaction. Rather than merely giving you water, He establishes IN  YOU a fountain of living water
its as though we’re in a boat surrounded by what looks like refreshing , thirst-quenching water, but its full of salt. Everything outside of God in Christ is saltwater, and it only leaves you thirstier  than you were before.
-enjoy the stuff of this world, but don’t live for them.. They cannot sustain you. You were made for something bigger, better, fuller.   You were made for an appetite for God, and nothing else will satisfy. .   
-1 Tim. 6:17c (ESV) , says “God richly provides us with everything to enjoy. “
-So, if you have them (the material stuff in this world), enjoy them. Thank God for them. Just don’t get lost in the gift and forget the Giver . Only God Himself can satisfy.
-Idolatry is a threat to your soul.
Although there is so much around you that would seem to bring you an immediate sense of enjoyment, take the time my friend to evaluate the bigger picture.   Are you, in actuality believing that some  thing or person will bring you a lasting satisfaction and fulfillment, when only a personal relationship with the living and loving God can do that?    As good as this “obvious choice” looks, will my yielding to it be good for me, or something harmful?