Its hard to believe, another Summer is nearly over. Time just seems to move along so quickly.
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! 🙂
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:
Picture this story:
A middle-aged man, driving in his luxury car, pulls around the corner of the street where he lives. He looks at the houses of his neighbors and thinks to himself that at some time he should probably get to know them. Actually, he thinks to himself that in some ways it’s surprising that after 20 years in this neighborhood, he would have by now.
Down the driveway he goes admiring his beautiful landscaping and thinks to himself that he has hired a quality service to handle this tedious work. As he gets out of his car and make the long walk to his really large house, which he never seems to tire of gawking at, he finds himself huffing and puffing a bit more than usual. He also notices his chest puffing out as he congratulates himself pridefully, for all the efforts he has put in: the long hours worked and the many, many business trips he has taken.
As he walks in the house, the one thing that seems the most noticeable is the silence. His wife and two children are nowhere to be seen. “Quietness”, he thinks, “is in some ways nice, but in other ways, it’s so depressing”.
So, what is the point to this story? Its this perspective about success.
After reading through this story would you say this man is successful? Some would, actually many would. Why would we say that? It’s because he drives a luxurious house, owns a large house, and uses a landscaping service.
Outwardly, this man has some very nice things. Let me be the first to say that there is nothing wrong with owning and enjoying nice things. God has given us those things to enjoy.
My point is to question this man’s perspective on their importance and what he was willing to sacrifice to get them. It’s that perspective of success that I so desperately want to keep wrestling with for myself and I would encourage you to battle along with me.
Why? Too often, we can see someone on tv that has all the wealthy merit badges of life: the nice cars, the trophy wife, the big house, etc. and something can stir in my heart: jealousy and envy. I know I have those feelings. Too quickly, I find myself trying to justify why I’m still okay with my pauper existence compared to this wealthy person I’ve just been watching and hearing about.
The issue of jealousy and envy is my own problem no one else’s. I’m needing to deal with that on a regular basis. But the focus of this post is not really about my challenges with envy, or pride, or a critique on enjoying and striving for nice things.
It’s about striving for success in one area. Whether it’s an over-emphasis on being successful at work, or at your church, or with your family, or with your personal health, my plea with you this morning is to be careful about over-emphasizing one area of your life so much that without realizing it, you inadvertently are neglecting other areas of your life.
Life is difficult. It’s really hard. You don’t need to be reminded of that, but you may need to be reminded that there are seven areas of responsibility in your life. How are you doing in each of them? When is the last time you took the time to evaluate how you’re doing?
I would like to encourage you this weekend to take just a few minutes and review these seven areas of responsibility in your life and ask two questions: “How am I doing in each specific area?” and “In what ways can I do just a little bit better?”
Oh, one last thing—you might be wondering why do this personal inventory? The simple reason is that your life impacts others in every one of these seven areas. Do you know that?
Like a person who is a sleepwalker, taking actual steps, but not even recognizing where they are going, some times, I can be living my life (and maybe you do too) where I’m doing life in certain, dazed kind of way, not even recognizing those areas of responsibility that I am tuned out of, totally neglecting….and that will cause regrets, painful ones. I want to help you avoid those.
As a way to further help you strive for excellence in all areas of your life so that you live a life without regrets, I’d like to encourage you to consider the content of this post, but also to consider downloading the Foundations Life Management app in I-Tunes, (Android calls it Foundations Life Coach) that has the red, yellow, green dashboard like above. For the price of a cup of coffee (and more significant and lasting positive consequences) from it, I believe you will be pleased that you took this minimal risk:
You can visit either the App Store (for IPhones) https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.I
Are you desperate for some guidance to help you find hope in your present difficult circumstances?
Are you open to receiving encouragement and support from others?
If so, I would like to invite you to join us this Fall for a life-changing 13 week ministry called HOPE GROUP.
We’ll meet Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m., starting September 13th, at Harvest Bible Chapel on Randall Road in Elgin.
Let me encourage you to take a step of faith to finding hope. THINGS CAN CHANGE!
For more information, about Harvest Bible Chapel’s Hope Group ministry at their Elgin campus, please check out the link!
http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/event/summerhopegroupselgin/ (as an fyi, our Fall registration link is not up quite yet, but will be shortly—bookmark this link).
Harvest Bible Chapel- Love without condition …Forgive without limit >>>>>>>This is what we do!
Check out this picture—do you see a STOP sign?
Well, let me come back to that in just a minute. This post is meant for “born again” Christians. You know who you are.
It is meant for those people who one day recognized that they were distant from God and that God, in His graciousness and mercy made a way for us to be reconciled with Him through Jesus Christ as He gave His life as a substitute for us. Approximately 2000 years ago, Jesus took upon Himself the punishment that we deserved because of our selfishness, and rebelliousness towards God and in the Great Exchange offered us forgiveness and peace with God, as our relationship with Him was restored. I hope you never get tired of hearing this gospel message.
Backing up just a minute as a way of explanation —before a person is saved, a person finds them self alienated from God. They are led by their own selfish desires. In addition to their bondage to their fleshly instincts, an unsaved person comes under the slavery to the evil influences of the Devil and his demonic cohorts, as well as slavery to this world system that seeks independence from Almighty God. Habits of sinful behaviors and selfish motives and attitudes become ingrained. Without doubt, the word “darkness” characterizes so well the life, and future potential of an unsaved person.
But, one day, as a believer in Jesus Christ can testify to, God brings in light. Through no doing of our own, a saved person recognizes that they are alienated from God due to their sinful, selfish, and rebellious ways and they repent. They change their ways and in humility they seek out a relationship with God.
With the assistance of the Holy Spirit of God now living in the person, an awareness of the power and wisdom of the Living Word (the Bible), and the support and training of the church community, a new believer grows in their understanding of the faith.
One of the key principles of our faith that every believer needs to understand is that the mandatory bondage to sinful habits of your former life are gone. The Bible says, “we are new creations in Christ”.
The Bible says in Romans 6:6 (nasb) that “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away (or another version says, “rendered powerless) with so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”
In other words, as the New Testament speaks of so often, “it is for freedom that Christ has set you free”.
HANG IN THERE WITH ME —THIS IS GOOD STUFF!
Let’s go back now to the picture of the STOP sign. For probably 30 years, I have been driving down this street and I’ve come to a STOP sign. Its been right outside a big hospital. But the hospital has been taken down with the exception of just a few doctors’ offices and the city recently decided to remove the STOP sign.
What I found interesting is that over the past week or so, I have stopped numerous times at that intersection, but the truth is there is no STOP sign there. In other words, although I am free to just keep on driving, a habit has been formed in my mind and every time I go that intersection, these habits of the mind tell my will how to behave.
Can you follow the spiritual application that this STOP sign illustration is to our spiritual walks?
When I get tempted to take a second look at a pretty woman (an old, frequent habit), I don’t have to because I now free in Christ. The power of that old habit has been broken. I am a new creation in Christ.
When I get tempted to get angry at a person who I feel didn’t respect me for some reason, (an old, frequent habit), I don’t have to because I now free in Christ. The power of that old habit has been broken. I am a new creation in Christ.
When I get tempted to covet the nice things that a friend might have that I can’t afford, (an old, frequent habit), I don’t have to because I now free in Christ. The power of that old habit has been broken. I am a new creation in Christ.
Just writing these words is exciting for me and I hope they are for you, as well. If you are a Christian, the new you is not the old you.
God’s best for you is that you not only believe that, but that you act like it.
Why stop along the road of life when you are free to just keep on driving?
I don’t know if you ever thought about this, but did you ever wonder, “can a turtle live without its shell?”
I’ve thought about that and the answer is “no”. Its outer shell is not something it just carries around, it’s actually a part of its body.
The turtle’s shell is vital to its survival. Not only does it protect the turtle’s life from predators, who most often are not able to break through the hard shell, but that shell is bone with blood vessels and nerves. The turtles rib cage is actually fused with the top of a turtle’s shell which protects the turtle’s lungs.
Interesting, huh? But, is there any further take away for us today other than gaining a little knowledge?
How about this?
Christians, we too, have an outer shell. Did you know that? This outer shell we have is our flesh. It is that DNA in us that wires us to be enslaved to selfishness, rebellious to authorities, and independent-minded. It seeks to lead us away from dependence on God and absorbed in a “life revolves around me” mindset. Rather than worshiping God, the flesh seeks to exalt “me”.
One of the benefits of Jesus dying on the cross was that our bondage to the flesh (our outer shell) was broken. The life, truth, and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ disarmed the flesh’s power over us.
BUT, here are a few things to understand.
The outer shell (the flesh and all its attractions to the world around us) are still alive, it’s just we don’t have to obey its promptings.
Once someone submits their life to Jesus Christ by admitting their rebelliousness to Him and accept His loving forgiveness, we are given the Holy Spirit of God to live within us. Through God’s Sovereign leading in our lives, He enrolls us in a war against our outer man and any pockets of its presence still doing guerilla warfare in our life. God allows circumstances in our life to reveal areas where we still want to carry the shell of pride, or lust, or bitterness, etc
What the Holy Spirit does in our life when we encounter difficult circumstances is shout out us to continual reminders that we are “FREE”. We don’t have to listen to or respond to any outer shell/fleshly promptings. The Spirit tells us carrying our obedience to the flesh will harm us and because we are loved, He wants to spare us from that.
Unlike the turtle who can not live without its outer shell, the Christian is called to be intentional about putting it to death. This is the path of the normal and powerful Christian life.
In John 12:24-25 (esv), Jesus says, “truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies ( I’ve added this note to this verse: where the seed’s outer shell breaks down), it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Christian brother or sister, you have been called to the truth that you no longer need to carry the weight of your outer shell – that part of you that wants to go solo through this world. Because of His amazing grace, He wants you to understand that your greatest joys in life will come when you realize that your protection, and purpose, and identity are all found, not from any outer things, but all from the internal things of a right alignment with the one, true, Living and Loving God.
“Off” with the old, and “on” with the new!
For further study, please read, Galatians 5, Colossians 3, Ephesians 4 & 5, and/or memorize Galatians 2:20