“What are we going to do today?”

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“What are we going to do today?”

I’ve been asked that question by my kids on weekends, and on vacations (and you probably have as well).  It’s a great question for a number of reasons.
For one, they are looking to me to give them direction to what we’re going to do?
Another reason is that it shows they want to be with me.  They are wondering what we are going to do together.
Another reason is that there something adventurous in the question.  Its like there is something unexpected, something exciting awaits for us to discover.

“What are we going to do today?”

In kind of an interesting twist to that question, I actually found myself  being asked by the Holy Spirit that very question the other day when I woke up.
I’m aware that the Holy Spirit miraculously lives within me as a follower of Jesus Christ.
I’m aware that He wants to counsel me, comfort me, advise me, convict me, re-assure me, inspire me, and so much more.  He is there all the time doing life with me  (how awesome, right!)

I was kind of startled by that question I received from Him because it challenged me.  Was I going to be living my life that day looking to Him to be a kind of genie fulfilling every selfish desire I have (I know those requests will not get answered as I want (James 4:1-3)?

So, what did I want to do today?  Well, I think the question was a good one to lead me to the understanding that I did not want to do anything that the Holy Spirit was not directing me.  I wanted to seek to be a follower of Him, rather than me taking the lead and seeking to fulfill my desires (Romans 8:5-8, Galatians 5:16-25).

I felt very confident and contented knowing that those who come to Him must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder for those who seek Him–Hebrews 11:6.

So, “what are we going to do today?” was I turned back on God.

I want Him to give me direction.
I want to do life with Him.
I want to live my life as an adventure (believing that He is able to do far more abundantly than all I could ask for or imagine for His glory)

What are you going to do today?

I can’t believe I had been missing it

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About two years ago, our church, Harvest Bible Chapel started a new initiative, Act Like Men.

The idea was to get men to come out 3-4 times during the year, Sunday night at 9 p.m.  While at these hour and a half meetings, there would be two brief messages and then two discussion times with men in table groups.During these “connecting times”, men were encouraged to be transparent with one another, to let down their guard and be vulnerable.  As we did, it was an opportunity to find support, accountability, healing, and encouragement.

 

IF, the men attended three of the four nights, they were then able to go a men’s Summer event called Palooza.  It was designed to be an “over the top” weekend gathering in Michigan. The weekend would be packed with four messages and times of worship, and many, many activity guys would find challenging: events like softball, mud wrestling, free throw shooting, football tosses, and so much more.

I attended last year’s event. No doubt, it was a good time with many positive take-aways from it.

Then came round two during the  past nine months, I believe there were four or five late Sunday night events where attendance at four events was required to qualify to attend this past weekend’s second annual Palooza.

 

Again, there was the same format of quality worship times and intense, competitive events.

And again, for me, there were many highlights that stood out to me from over the weekend. 

But what set this apart, was that it wasn’t until the last 15 minutes of this weekend that Pastor James MacDonald said something that sent fireworks off in my brain (we actually had fireworks on Saturday night too!).  He laid out a vision for what Act Like Men was all about. 

 

He mentioned that the bar was set so high (in fact, next year, we are going to have seven late Sunday evening gatherings to attend) because he wanted the church to be calling out guys to break away from our addiction to our independence and acting like we are in control of our self.  Too often, we have that “I want to do my own thing”. 

We ARE responsible for our actions, but guys especially have a habit of acting from their own selfish and independent mindsets, and prone to isolation, so that we need to go radical and be challenged to a higher calling.  Guys, we need to be involved in community.

 

I saw it!

 

I finally realized what I had been missing.  It was the importance, rather the need of guys (WITH ME BEING RIGHT THERE AT THE TOP OF THE LIST) to do life together and encouraging, supporting, praying for, and holding other guys accountable.  It was a matter of being a part of a community where we can not only receive the support and care from other guys, but also give it as well. 

I had been experiencing that throughout the weekend, but was oblivious to what I was actually experiencing.  I was missing the intentionality of it all.

 

But again, now I understood it.

 

I am so excited to be a part of a sea of voices, a band of Christian brothers intent on glorifying God by the way we live during this short time we are on this planet.

I just wanted to be transparent and let you all know what God was doing in my life and encourage each person out there, especially guys to get involved with a group like this, if you are not already.

 

Blessings.

What to do when God is silent…

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For some of you, this post today might come really close to the heart.

I believe there are some, maybe many who are deeply concerned about something. Maybe its a financial matter, maybe a damaged relationship (or no relationship at all), maybe it’s a health issue, maybe its an aging parent issue.  You get the point. These are all matters of the heart and some times trying to understand how to deal with the issue gets painful and exhausting.
Besides the weighty concern that this issue is, what can seem to add to the frustration is that God is so silent.  You may feel all alone and wondering how much longer this exasperating experience will go on.
Let me encourage you if you are in this situation–nothing is hidden from the eyes of God. He sees all. He hears all. He knows all.
“So,” you wonder, “where is this living and  loving God when I need Him most?”
I once heard a story about a bunch of guys swimming in a pond. One of them was an expert swimmer.  As the day went on, one of the guys started to drown.  His friends noticed what was happening and looked to the expert swimmer, who was on the shore, to save their friend who was going underwater.  However, although he heard everyone screaming for his help, he didn’t move.
This only frustrated  all the guys all the more, who with panic in their voices, yelled even louder for their friend to rescue their other friend, but the expert swimmer  remained silent and did not move.
At that moment, the guy who was bobbing up and down, did not come up again. The water became calm…..for just a moment.
Because instantly, there was a splash, then waves, then two bodies surfaced.
Upon seeing the one man go under for the last moment, the expert swimmer got his green light to break his silence, go in, and with sheer precision, save his friend.
When they two men reached the shore, the expert swimmer was literally attacked for his cold-hearted, lack of response.
Seeing the anger of his friends, the expert swimmer quieted the crowd and confidently said that the way he acted was calculated.  He mentioned that if he had sought to rescue his friend when he first went under water, they probably both would have drowned.  The adrenalin of the one would have taken them both down..  So the expert swimmer said, he had to wait until his friend stopped trying and basically gave up.  Then, he could save him without there being any resistance.
Friend, that story illustrates what might be happening to some of you.
The expert swimmer on the shore in your life is God. He is watching all that you are struggling with, but truth be told, you might not yet be ready for His help because you are trying so hard to do it yourself. Your actions and attitudes may reveal that you don’t want or are unwilling to receive God’s help.  Maybe you are still holding on to so much bitterness or unforgiveness that you are not willing to part with it. Maybe you just can’t bear being out of control and admitting you need help. Maybe you are scared.
Whatever it might be, understand that God is watching.  His silence does not mean He does not care, or is unable to help.  Maybe His silence is really what’s best for you, giving you time to understand the true condition of your heart and your need for His help.
So, God just waits on the shore in silence.
Is He capable of helping–definitely!
Does He care about you- definitely (Jesus died for you on a cross because of His love for you so much)!
Will He stay silent forever-doubtful–just maybe its time to stop trying!

A successful team…

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“A successful team is many voices with a single heart.”    John Maxwell

Whether it’s at work, at church, or even in our family, we are a part of some kind of team.

With that in mind, and believing that we all want to be a part of something greater than just ourselves:

 

How accurately does the quote mentioned above describer our team experience?

Are the teams you are involved with “successful”?  In what ways could your team be more successful?

Are all the voices of your team members being heard?  In what ways can you encourage more engagement from those often involved?

Wise words from YODA

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I won’t embarrass or frustrate any one I personally know on this one, but there are some individuals, I can see their faces now that if they say they will do something, I know it will be done. I can just count on them. Their word is gold.

Unfortunately, I also know some others that if they tell me they will do something, I have a great uncertainty it will get done (if ever). These individuals are so frustrating because they are so unfaithful. It drives me crazy.

“Do, or do not.  There is no “try”.    a quote from Yoda to Luke Skywalker.

I love these words from the fictional character, YODA (he is fictional, right?) because they speak of resolve and commitment.  It’s an “all-in” mindset that if I say I will do something, it will get done.

How well does this describe you?

Does your word matter?

Maybe it’s because I’m a goal-oriented person, but I love this saying from Yoda because it conveys to me the idea of vision and priorities.  It challenges me to set my mind on accomplishing something to experience some desired result.

But it takes it one step further.  What Yoda’s quote suggests to me is even something more than just wanting to see a completed goal because any one can wish for good things to happen in their life.  Can’t you?  If you were to take just a few minutes to look at all the things going on in your life, can’t you just imagine improvements or desirable things to make your life better?

Of course you can.  I can too.  But what Yoda’s quote says to me is that besides seeing a vision of good things, it conveys to me the issue of setting priorities and being intentional.  It means moving beyond vision and mere talking about accomplishing some desired result one day (just “trying” in a “whatever” kind of attitude”) to the idea of commitment –I’m going to make adjustments in my life to make this happen.  I love that resolve.

So, my friend, are you willing right now to listen to the advice of a little, green person and stop saying “I’ll try….” to “I will …” ?

Are you willing to start getting very purposeful about accomplishing the things that are most dear to your heart?

“Do, or do not.  There is no “try”.

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As a further help to you in striving for excellence and being intentional about meeting your goals in life,  please check out my Foundations Life Management app (and do it with a friend):

(If you have downloaded the app and are using it, I would so appreciate you telling a friend (s) about it.)

You can visit either the App Store (for IPhones) Foundations Life Management app for IPhone devices

https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.I

or go to the Google Play Store- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FoundationsLifeCoach.Foundations&hl=en

 

Beware of answered prayer (and the “rush”)

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Well, that’s an interesting headline, right?

Many Christians, probably most, have had the common experience of finding themselves in a difficult situation and then they do what is wise: they turn to the Lord.  Because He is so faithful, so merciful, and so gracious, we pray to Him and then, not surprisingly, we often find an immediate answer to our prayer.  God is so good we think.

At some point, another similar crisis experience happens.  As it does, we are quicker to respond to Him  (our last “victory” has spawned this glimmer of confidence)  to obey the verse that says, “cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares about you”  (1 peter 5:7).    Again, we find ourselves being able to give witness to the Bible truth that says “call on me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15).

Ever so slowly, many of us will begin connecting the dots.  When I have troubles (and we all do)>>>>I can pray to God >>>> He will answer my prayers.  I said earlier, “slowly” because most of us will turn to God only when the situation has gotten beyond our control.  We acknowledge first, to ourselves, and then to God that we can’t handle a particular situation and we need His help.   The reality though is that most of us, I have to believe,  live our lives, when they are not in crisis mode, as though we don’t need God.  Honestly, I think most of us feel pretty capable that we can handle the routine of life and we know how to get by.

Today, I have two very powerful insights to share with you (at least they are kind of rocking my world):

The first is the reality that I have to be careful of listening to lies.   The Bible says very clearly, “the heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked, who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9).  The Bible also says, “…not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3) or not to put any confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). Our pride is a dangerous, very dangerous trap.

In other words, to have a belief that you only need to, or should go to God when you can’t handle things is setting yourself up for massive failure.  You can’t trust yourself.  The Bible clearly says a person who does is building on a foundation of a heart that is totally unstable. We need God all the time.  We are to act like a beggar, totally needy on God’s provision for our lives—in crisis times and in routine times.

The second reality is meant for an “on the edge” kind of person. You know who you are. You are the type of person consumed by ……  Maybe its work. You keep pushing yourself (and others) to do more and more, produce more and more and you get to a point where you are crying out to God to help sustain you as you go through this hectic season…. and He does.

But, as you take a moment to catch your breath, you recognize the rush of pushing yourself so much and the way God helped you through it that it leads you to begin to crave the next “over the top busy time” where you can again look to God to help you do more than you know you are capable of doing.

Now mind you, I’m not talking of just lay people, you know, people at secular jobs who seek this spiritual experience of God helping them survive and thrive during insanely busy times.  I’m also referring to church workers who push their ministry involvements in the same way.  Inwardly, they crave the rush, the flow of pushing themselves to the brink and looking for God to do something, only God could do.

As an example of this, please read, Luke 10: 17-20.  The disciples were sent out by Jesus to minister and they came back with reports that even the demons were subject to them.  Understandably, the disciples were focused on the new ministry power they had in Jesus’ name. However, Jesus tells them to reset their thinking. He says, father than focusing on the ministry results and experiences, rather rest and rejoice in the fact that your names are written in the Book of Life.  Rejoice in your relationship with the Father.

Let me be very careful to make a few more comments on this last train of thought. I totally get it that we are to live by faith. I totally understand we are to be busy about ministry and looking for God to intervene and show Himself strong in bringing healing, deliverance, and freedom in to people’s lives and circumstances.  I am totally in agreement with looking to Him to move in these kinds of ways.

The caution I am encouraging us to be on the look out for is when our focus is not really on God, but on the rush.  In such a subtle, deceptive way, that rush kind of feeling can become an idol that we pursue, sadly to say, more so than God.

In a similar kind of way, giving gifts at Christmas is a good thing, but when we value more the gifts we receive,  rather than the giver of those gifts, there is a problem.

Prayer is obviously a good thing.  Having the experience of answer prayer, personally, or in ministry or at work is precious.

But, never lose sight on our need to be dependent on Him all the time, 24/7,  and in our reliance on Him to pursue the enjoyment and the awesome opportunity of relationship with a living and loving God.  Praying is a part of that relationship.  However, so is praising Him, just talking to Him, listening to Him, studying with Him, singing to Him, and just meditating on His presence with us and the awesome power and mystery of the Gospel.  We have the privilege of  knowing, and walking through life in a personal relationship with God—-that alone should be the rush we seek.

Too much thinking, but not enough …

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Some times, I find that I can make things too complicated.  In other words, I can over think things too much and even get into that “analysis paralysis” mindset.  When this happens internally in my mind, nothing happens externally in my actions.    How about you–can you relate?

For instance, one area that I am really being challenged these days is with a simple command given by Jesus for all of us as Christians– “go and make disciples”.

Matthew 28:18-20 esv

18 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I think for the most part that’s pretty straightforward–don’t you?  But, here’s the sobering question that I must deal with (and so must you)—“how focused am I  in acting on Jesus’ command?”

Let me share with you one additional set of verses, this time from the Apostle Paul  (I think he got it).  Read what he says:

Colossians 1:28-29 esv

28 “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

In this day and age when across this world, mission statements and vision statements  hang on company walls and in organizational literature, how about each of us as Christians not only embrace this vision internally for our life, but live it out with passion so that others will see it demonstrated externally?